Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Are Democrats Running Out Of Tricks?

For more than a month, Democratic leaders in Connecticut’s General Assembly had been able to postpone a vote on a two year Democratic budget. Democrats did not bring their own budget to the floor for consideration, debate or a vote because they had no budget. Indeed, legislative Democrats avoided presenting a budget until the completion of secret so called “concession” talks with the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) had been concluded.

The legislature officially closed down for business on June 7 and no budget had been brought forward, even though Republicans had been pressuring Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz to bring to the floor their own budget, which contained some impressive reform proposals. The fiscal year ended on June 30 without debate on a budget. On July 18, Democratic leaders bestirred themselves hours after rank and file members of the state’s employee unions had voted favorably on the concession deal struck between Malloy and SEBAC. The rapidity with which the deal had been accepted was taken by some analysts as a measure of both its favorability to union workers and the inordinate influence Connecticut employee unions exert over solicitous Democratic legislators.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Democrats, Party Of The Status Quo


Quite suddenly, the enabler for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) in Connecticut’s General Assembly, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, has contracted a wicked case of ants in his pants.

The state legislature closed for official business on June 7, nearly two months ago. But Aresimowicz, the gatekeeper in the House without whose approval no bill may reach the floor of the General Assembly, dawdled delinquently and brought no budget to the floor. In truth, the Democratic leader in the House had no budget bill in hand to present to the legislature – none. Aresimowicz was waiting for state employee rank and file union members to vote on a closed door deal being shaped by Governor Dannel Malloy and union chiefs.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blumenthal's Intent

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal thinks Donald Trump Jr. may have colluded with Russian operatives to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. Other leading Democrats have asserted that President Donald Trump is a traitor. Blumenthal believes that recent emails may demonstrate "bombshell evidence of criminal intent" on the part of Trump Jr.

But then, Blumenthal believes lots of things. There was a time when he believed he had served as a marine in Vietnam, but he didn’t.

In the absence of a crime, there can be no criminal intent – just unfulfilled intent. There is little question that Trump Jr. and other Trump operatives intended to receive and possibly make use of promised data dirt damaging to Hillary Clinton when the Trump amateur opposition research team met with a Russian lawyer who failed to deliver the dirt.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

No Fish Today

The fishing industry in Connecticut in under assault from foreign fish imports. Owner of wholesale fish in Stonington/East Haven Mike Gambardella writes, somewhat frantically, that consumers don’t realize that the import seafood market is at 96 percent: “Our fishermen are throwing wild-caught healthy, chemical free, dead fish overboard daily.”

The regulatory apparatus in the United States is simply crushing local fishing industries: “We’re going out of business in Stonington, Connecticut, one of the oldest commercial fishing ports in the nation, dating from the 1600s.”

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Unions, Connecticut’s Fourth Branch Of Government


July 18 is a pivotal date in Connecticut’s budget making process, and that is what is wrong with the state’s budget making process.

During the first week of July, the Connecticut Post noted in an editorial, “As of now, the next special session to vote on a budget is not scheduled until July 18. Not by coincidence, perhaps, that happens to be the day before the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition [SEBAC] is scheduled to finish voting on contract concessions negotiated by Malloy.”

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Malloy And The Procrustean Narrative

The State is the great fiction through which everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else – Frederic Bastiat

Procrustes – literally, “the stretcher who hammers metal” -- was in Greek mythology a rogue smithy and bandit from Attica who cut off the legs of people to fit them to his iron bed. Political narratives as they relate to facts can be procrustean beds. If the facts don’t fit the narrative, you simply cut off their limbs to make them fit. Facts may be stubborn things, but politicians sometimes are more stubborn.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Connecticut, The State Of Nullification


Connecticut’s Democratic Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, has now declared herself a leading member of “The Resistance.”

The plot is thickening. The Constitutional Officers in Connecticut, Democrats all, have been stirring the resistance pot ever since Donald Trump had been elected to the presidency.

Connecticut, for instance, in establishing sanctuary cities, has become a sanctuary state. Governor Dannel Malloy has refused to comply with ICE in assisting in the deportation of non-citizens illegally present in Connecticut. U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal is suing Trump on trumped-up charges because he believes the president is not in compliance with the emolument clause of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, playing Danton to Blumenthal’s Robespierre, denigrates the president as often as possible when he is on the hustings -- and he is always on the hustings. Incumbent politicians are perpetually running for office. Two years prior the upcoming elections, Murphy has socked away more than $2 million, which is $2 million more than his as yet unannounced Republican opponent has jingling in his or her campaign coffers. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Charlie, Independence Day, 2017


My uncle Charlie was more or less adopted by my father and mother when he was 10 years old, and he came to live in my father’s house.

My father had been asking my mother several times to marry him. Each time she had put off answering him. One day, he brought along a calendar with him.

“Rose,” he said, “I want you to pick a day on this calendar when we can be married, and I will come again next week. If you have not marked off a day, I will not ask you again.”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Trump (King Kong) Meets Godzilla (Blumenthal)

We all know President Donald Trump is thin-skinned, as witnessed the bloodstained Mika Brzezinski of “Morning Joe.” Recently, Trump tweeted about Ms. Brzezinski, now affianced to Joe Scarborough, the Joe of “Morning Joe,” that she had visited him recently and was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

The usual kerfuffle in social media ensued, and Trump was bare-knuckled by what he considers media thugs, purveyors of “fake news.” Following the pummeling, Trump tweeted, more temperately, “Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Campaign Like No Other, Waiting For Bismarck


The usual gubernatorial campaign in Connecticut begins with brave platitudes and ends, once office has been achieved, with whimpering platitudes.

We recall a triumphant Governor Lowell Weicker warning during his gubernatorial campaign that instituting an income tax in the midst of a recession would be like “pouring gas on a fire,” then, having achieved office, hiring as his Office of Policy Management Director Bill Cibes, who ran an honest but losing Democratic primary campaign by agitating for an income tax. Before you could say, “Let’s pour gas on the fire,” Connecticut had its income tax. State businesses have taken note of the ungovernable growth in spending and now have their eyes fixed on the exit signs.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Save The Towns, Save The BS…



 Union allied Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz wants to “save the towns.” From what, some may ask? Answer: from municipal tax hikes necessitated by Big Spenders like Mr. Aresimowicz.

Tax hikes, Aresimowicz said, have never been taken off the table. We’ve said it consistently since the beginning of February.” Indeed, big spending Democrats in the General Assembly have not taken revenue increases off the table since the end of the Grasso administration. And even the flight of businesses from Connecticut, Mother Aetna being the most recent to move its corporate offices from the state, has not diminished their persistent hunt for more taxes.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Connecticut Down, A June Keynote Address


I began writing “Connecticut Commentary: Red Notes From A Blue State” more than 23 years ago because early on I glimpsed the dark at the end of the tunnel, and I was determined to make a record of the destruction of Connecticut, so that, years in the future, if anyone, poking his or her head above the rubble, wished to consult a record that tried valiantly to answer the questions – What went wrong, and who were the culprits?– he or she would have a faithful reference point.

Today, I have an opportunity to render an abbreviated version of the longer account. I plan to touch here on the wrong-headed policies that have led us into the dark tunnel, some of the personalities involved, the rise of progressivism in Connecticut under the stewardship of Governor Dannel Malloy, the political repercussions of unsound policies, and what the French have called “the treason of the intellectuals.” Not to paint too bleak a picture – people generally don’t want to hear bad news – I should say at the outset that there is reason for hope. Hope is a new arrival in Connecticut. The sun is there, somewhere, attempting to break through the storm clouds.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Can Republicans Save Connecticut?


“No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session” -- Gideon Tucker

The headline of the story was worth a thousand words: “As State Budget And Tolls Stall, Mushroom Hunting And Hate Crimes Bill Among Proposals Passed." Connecticut Democrats, who still control the General Assembly, were unable to marshal sufficient votes  to pass a frequently unbalanced budget that  is in all probability unbalanced. But the mushroom hunting bill – never mind what it’s about – passed like a hot knife through butter. The budget failed to pass only 21 days after Connecticut citizens celebrated, if that is the word for it, tax freedom day, that point on the calendar at which Connecticut tax survivors have satisfied the insatiable lust of politicians for more revenue.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Common Sense, The Second Amendment And The Ballpark Terrorist

It took Hartford Courant editorial writers ten plump paragraphs to reach their predictable corporate conclusion: “… Somehow this country must protect the fundamental right to assemble in peace, whether to talk politics or play ball or sit in school.  The way to do that is to limit the weapons that shatter the peace, not to silence the debate.”

There is little doubt that weapons may be used to shatter peace. That is the operative principle of all terrorists and anarchists. The weapons, as we have seen in recent days, may be various: suicide vests, trucks and knives – all assault weapons, an assault weapon being any instrument of death uses in an assault on human life, including, the editors of the Courant may be surprised to learn, an abortionist’s scalpel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Social Issues And Morally Lazy Republicans


Thanks to State Representative Rob Samson, one of the few legislators who have not been cowed by Connecticut’s powerful abortion lobby, abortion extremists have publicly shown their horns.

The Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC) put it this way: “On the final day of the legislative session June 7th, Rep. Rob Sampson attached a pro-life parental notification amendment to a contraception bill. But the possibility that a parent might be notified about her underage daughter’s decision to have an abortion so enraged Connecticut’s pro-abortion lobbyists that they killed their own bill rather than allow a vote on the amendment!”

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sheff And The Court’s Hobson’s Choice

If magnet and Open Choice schools were less successful in providing Hartford’s children, mostly minorities, with a quality education, or if public schools in the city were as successful as charter schools operating elsewhere in the state, Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger would not now be confronted with a Hobson’s Choice.

Presently, the judge must decide whether a quality education for minority students or the enforcement of a court ordered integration model that is on its face absurd best furthers the public good, a decision generally made by legislatures rather than courts.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Life After Comey

“Life goes on without’ya…” – Just a Gigolo

Answers to the larger Watergate questions – What did the President know, and when did he know it? – must await the final report of Special Prosecutor Robert Muller. In the meantime, the dreaded mainstream media is always able, if willing, to provide convincing answers to smaller but significant questions, not the least of which concerns the traditional relationship between the Director of the FBI, who may be dismissed for cause, and the President – any President – of the United States.

The investigatory functions of the FBI, everyone will agree, are independent of the president in this sense:  while the president has the constitutional power and authority to dismiss the FBI Director, this option by no means guarantees that a specific investigation involving the president will be dropped. Indeed, during his recently concluded congressional interrogation former FBI Director James Comey asserted publicly, for the first time under oath,  that neither President Donald Trump nor any member of his administration asked him to put the brakes on pending FBI investigations; he also asserted that the president was not, during his term in office, the target of any FBI investigation, an assertion the president had asked Comey to make public before, when the contrary notion was being peddled numerous time in numerous publications.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Malloy And Democrats, One-Trick Ponies


According to a Hartford business reporter, the deal struck between Governor Dannel Malloy and SEBAC, state employee union representatives, is “solid” and “good for taxpayers.”

According to Red Jahncke, President of The Townsend Group, a business consulting firm in Connecticut, the deal is more of the same. And the same road has led Connecticut into a dead end. Following the usual route to budget reconciliation and economic prosperity for Connecticut, the Malloy administration has plunged the state into continuing budget deficits and entrepreneurial flight, which has reduced state revenues despite two massive tax increases, giving new meaning to the expression “more is less.”

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Confessional Malloy Administration And Real Reform


From this point forward, most of the media releases from the Malloy administration will be in the form of a hidden confession, followed by an unintentionally amusing uptick.

After an announcement by Mother Aetna that the company is moving its headquarters from Connecticut to another state, possibly New York, CTMirror unfurled its headline: “Aetna CEO: HQ move to have ‘minimal impact’ on most Hartford employees." The headline over a Wall Street Journal editorial was somewhat darker: “Connecticut’s Tax Comeuppance: With the rich tapped out, the state may resort to Puerto Rico bonds.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Connecticut’s Hostages


The editors of a Hartford newspaper have begged, almost on their knees, state employee union leaders to accede to concessions in budget negotiations with Governor Dannel Malloy:

“Unions, Please Help

 “Connecticut has been kind to its public workers. Now is the state's time of need. Unions, won't you help the state out of financial crisis?

 “Unions, please be reasonable. The state is at stake.”

While the concessions will not greatly affect long-term spending, these pleadings are necessary for a number of reasons. Although the General Assembly is scheduled to finish shaping and approving a budget for Connecticut by closing time, June 7, the end-date really depends upon unions. “Unions Nearing Deal of Concessions,” a headline proclaims. However, “some union members say it is unlikely that the rank and file members of multiple unions,” represented by SEBAC, would be able to affirm contractual arrangements with Malloy by that date, “but a vote by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 is possible.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Parable Of The Leaking Bucket

A short five minute address today -- Sunday, May 21, 2017 -- at the state capitol in Hartford

 I’ve been asked to say a few words about taxes, which has brought us here today. I should say it’s heartening to see gathered here many thoughtful, peaceful, responsible, tax-paying, non-deplorables. I only have fire minutes to review years of tax thuggery, and the best way do it is by means of a parable that might be called “The Parable of the Leaking Bucket.”

There is a hole in Connecticut’s milk bucket, and through it our precious revenues are leaking to other states. This disaster has now been confirmed by Department of Revenue Commissioner Kevin Sullivan and economist Don Klepper-Smith.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blumenthal: I’m Ready For My Close-Up




In mid-May, David Hawkins of Roll Call threw a bouquet of compliments at U.S.  Senator Dick Blumenthal: “But Blumenthal’s profile has never been as prominent as in the past week, after he declared that the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director has created ‘a looming constitutional crisis that is deadly serious’ and ‘may well produce impeachment proceedings, although we’re very far from that possibility.’”


The reader will note Blumenthal's adjectives. A "looming' crisis cannot be "deadly." The "crisis” is "looming" because we cannot be certain it is a crisis, except in Blumenthal's fevered imagination. And if we are "very far” from the possibility of a crisis, in what sense may the crisis be fairly described as a crisis? Note the "may" standing guard over this sentence: the crisis "may well produce impeachment proceedings,” or the crisis – but is it a crisis? See above -- may yet produce egg on Blumenthal’s face. Once an editor of the Harvard Crimson, Blumenthal has been goosing the media his entire political life. And the left of center media, perpetually frightened of conservative bogeymen, has been sopping up Blumenthal’s tendentious assertions for as long as the Senator From Planned Parenthood has been in public life.  These are people who are supposed to be able to parse sentences and wring the nonsense out of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Diner Politics In Connecticut

People in Connecticut like their diners. There are no fewer than 28 all-night diners in the state. It’s where you go to shed your problems over an omelet and hash browns, accompanied by a fresh cup of coffee and, if you are lucky, the companionship of a friend or two. During election time, this holy solitude is broken by lean and hungry politicians on the hunt for votes who have turned out to mingle with the proletariat. Politicians too, it would appear, are just like the rest of us.

The most accomplished of them do not eat when they are conducting business. Imaging is important, just ask U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, about whom it is said that the most dangerous spot in Connecticut is between Blumenthal and a television camera. Politicians are more attentive to their weight than to their religious prescriptions, and because many of them are life-servers -- the average age of a member of Congress is 57 – caloric intake is more important to many of them as avoiding the near occasion of sin.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Month Of Irony

The last few weeks of 24-7 news has been dripping with unintended irony.

Just as the Democratic Party was setting up to attribute former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s loss to political stumble-bum Donald Trump as a result of President of Russia Vladimir Putin's interference in her campaign, President Trump bombed Bashir al Assad of Syria, Mr. Putin’s Kewpie Doll. The bombing served to mute some of the more outrageous claims. Everyone but Dick Blumenthal has been investigating the Trump-Putin connection; so far -- nada.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Democratic Party Progressive Carousel


It’s a pretty safe bet that Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim may not be Connecticut’s next governor, now that current Governor Dannel Malloy has thrown in the sponge, opening the door to a handful of Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls panting behind the curtain.

Among the Democratic prospects are Mr. Ganim, elected mayor of Bridgeport four times before he was convicted of sixteen counts of corruption related activity, for which he spent seven years of a nine year sentence under lock and key. Other possible Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former state Senator Jonathan Harris, Christopher Mattei, the  former Chief of the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption unit for the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Connecticut who bagged former Governor John Rowland a second time,  and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman who presently is playing it coy.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

What Do Progressives Want? -- More

The magic words among progressive Democrats in Connecticut’s General Assembly are “stabilize state finances.” It is an expression very much on the tongue of House Speaker Joe Aresimowitz, long affiliated with unions. Mr. Aresimowitz is employed as education coordinator for AFSCME. Last December, Connecticut’s Office of State Ethics (OSE) advised Mr. Aresimowicz that “nothing in the state ethics code bars him from continuing his job [with] an influential public-employee union once he becomes speaker of the House of Representatives.”

Apparently, the OSE is unfamiliar with the expression “putting the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Luxury Of Being Murphy And Blumenthal

Commentators and the general public will have noticed the deep trench, very much like a moat, that separates national and state politics. This severe separation is most evident among a state’s congressional delegation. It is, primarily, an assumed division of labor that demarcates zones of political influence. Only rarely, if at all, do U.S senators and congressmen comment on state politics. It might be interesting, though politically fatal, to hear U.S. Senators Chris Murphy or Dick Blumenthal comment on the present dilapidated state of their state. This will not happen. It very rarely happens that Connecticut’s Washington Beltway senators and congresspersons are asked: “Do you think, as does Governor Dannel Malloy, that Connecticut’s perpetual deficits should be reduced by means other than revenue increases?” Or “About that new ballpark in Hartford – a blessing or a curse?”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Brief History Of The Destruction Of Connecticut


“The future ain’t what it used to be” – Yogi Berra

This year, as in other fiscal years, Governor Dannel Malloy’s Budget guru Ben Barnes has overestimated tax receipts. “Malloy Calls For Hiring Freeze  As Income Tax Collections Nose-Dive $450 Milliona recent story screams.

Such repeated miscalculations are odd, issuing from a man who not so long ago had been hit by a lightning bolt coming out of the blue. Following a painful Damascus Road unhorsing sometime back, Mr. Barnes told us that Connecticut would in the future have to get used to repetitive deficits – because the state’s economy was under-performing. After the fourth murder, even an amateur detective might begin to suspect a pattern had begun to develop and rule out happenstance.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tax The Guy Behind The Tree

Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree -- Russell Long

Connecticut has suffered – precisely the right word – from three massive tax increases.

 

The first was the 1991 Lowell Weicker Income Tax, which sent a clear message to contiguous states and businesses both inside and outside our borders: Connecticut has surrendered a no income tax hedge that had given it an advantage over bordering states such as New York and Massachusetts; and the state had committed itself to increases in taxation and spending. The Weicker body blow was repeated twice during the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy, approval rating 28 percent. Mr. Malloy, who lame-ducked himself last week, is the author of both the largest and second largest tax increases in state history.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Diversity Among Change Resistant Democrats


Leading Democrats are not without ideas, but they are the old, tried and failed ideas. Rarely do Democrats mention the devil words “permanent spending cuts” in any of their political prescriptions. For nearly the entire Malloy administration, they have been desperately trying the usual fixes: check the battery, change the oil, don’t forget the filter, but the engine won’t turn over, and more taxes won’t make it go.

Democrat Jason Rojas of East Hartford, the finance committee co-chairman over at Spend Central, Hartford’s General Assembly, is certain, according to an item in a Hartford paper, “‘There's a pretty broad diversity of opinion’ among lawmakers about how to tackle the state deficit.” And of course, he’s right. The category “lawmakers” embraces both Republicans and Democrats, usually at loggerheads with each other concerning what ails the state and how best to fix it. But the ruling party – Democrats have controlled the General Assembly for a half century, and they have held the governor’s office for almost eight years – have not been willing to entertain Republican ideas during this little ice age; and so, we cannot reasonably assert that there has been a diversity of action, or even actionable debate, among lawmakers in Hartford.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Soundings: April 2017


“If you don’t know where you are, how can you get to where you’re going? That’s why you’ve got to take stock of yourself every so often” – a waitress to a customer in a diner.

Q: You’re getting on in years; isn’t it time for some sort of summing up?

A: I don’t see any pressing need.

Q: You’ve written a great deal about politics in Connecticut…

A: … most of it lying dead in newspaper morgues…

Q: Maybe so, but a record has been established in Connecticut Commentary for those who wish to consult it. Has anything changed because of your writing?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Connecticut’s Coming Primary Circus


Governor Dannel Malloy assured Connecticut’s Democratic Party, early on in the political season, that he will not be running for a third term. Democrats are rather hoping this may somewhat deflate the Republican march to the governor’s office. There are two groups that have been running against Mr. Malloy during his two terms: Republican gubernatorial hopefuls patiently awaiting the moment Mr. Malloy would throw his hat in the ring once again, and Mr. Malloy himself, whose progressive political prescriptions have curdled. His own worst enemy, Republicans will sadly bid Mr. Malloy good-bye.

Not so Democrats. Mr. Malloy’s not unexpected announcement has thrown wide the door to multiple possibilities. Perhaps the most amusing is the non-announcement of Democratic President Pro Tem of the Senate, Martin Looney, who was asked if he had plans to enter the gubernatorial race. Mr. Looney did have such plans, but they were narrowly circumscribed by conditions: if Mr. Malloy would do Mr. Looney the courtesy of leaving office before his term expired, launching Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman into the governor’s seat; and if Ms. Wyman were to decline to run as governor; and if Jupiter were perfectly aligned with Mercury, bringing in the Age of Aquarius – then Mr. Looney might consider running for governor.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Weicker Surfaces, Hartford’s Coming Bankruptcy

Former Governor Lowell Weicker surfaced recently and both condemned, unwittingly, and complimented lame duck Governor Dannel Malloy.

Every so often, Mr. Weicker, intent on working the dents out of his legacy, pokes his head above the fox hole, scans enemy territory for a friendly face, and spills some political beans. Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post asked Mr. Weicker to comment on Mr. Malloy’s decision to pack it in, and he obliged. What Weicker said was, as usual, confusing and contradictory.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Save The Children: Malloy’s Finest Hour

At the beginning of April, Connecticut’s State Board of Education, by de-linking student evaluations and teacher performance, dismantled the last remnant of Governor Dannel Malloy’s valiant attempt to reform public school education.

For a long, long while it was touch and go. In most businesses – and public education is one of the state’s biggest Big Businesses -- the free market acts as a check on inferior products and services. If the widget or service produced by business A does not perform up to expectations, the purchaser will turn to A’s competitor, business B, and in due course business A will either be driven from the field or improve its product or service. This process, which insures improvement, does not apply to public education – a state monopoly that draws its financing from tax receipts. Only a governor or a legislature can deny public funds to inferior schools, and doing so – if you are a Democrat reliant on state employee unions for sustenance -- is a hazardous business.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Malloy Exits


There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet… 
Time for you and time for me, 
And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 
And for a hundred visions and revisions, 
Before the taking of a toast and tea – T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

In 20 months, reporters in the state will be referring to “former Governor Dannel Malloy.” On Thursday, Mr. Malloy announced he would be passing the gubernatorial baton to some other deserving Democrat, so he hopes. In the last few years, Republicans have made inroads into Connecticut’s one-party state. The State Senate is now evenly split between the two parties, and Democratic hegemony in the General Assembly has had one of its wings clipped.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Twain, Roosevelt and Imperialism


Teddy Roosevelt on Twain – “I wish I could skin Mark Twain alive.”

Twain on Roosevelt – “We have had no President before who was destitute of self-respect for his high office. We have had no President before who was not a gentleman; we have had no President before who was intended for a butcher, a dive-keeper or a bully...  Our people have adored this showy charlatan as perhaps no impostor of his brood has been adored since the Golden Calf, so it is to be expected that the Nation will want him back again after he is done hunting other wild animals heroically in Africa, with the safeguard and advertising equipment of a park of artillery and a brass band.

Occasionally, columnists back up against a thorny subject much in the way an innocent traveler in the woods backs up against a porcupine. The collision is often painful for both the porcupine and the columnist.

Although the deathless struggle between Twain and TR has been known for more than a century, it is rarely mentioned in print. Twain scholars know that Twain and TR were natural enemies on the matter of American imperialism, TR favoring the civilizing benefits of imperialism, always good for the native population and American businesses on the hunt for overseas markets, and Twain opposing it – strenuously.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Understanding North Korea Through Dramaturgy

The U.S. military is sending the Vinson Strike Group, including the carrier and two guided-missile destroyers, to operate in the Western Pacific Ocean in response to Pyongyang’s recent missile tests. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asked about the strike force, issued a terse statement: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

Is this a post-Syrian bombing mission? Will the US take out North Korea’s missile launching sites, possibly with the unspoken concurrence of China?

Never let a bombing go to waste. There are some in the United States who think any such incident should be used to rid North Korea of that runty little totalitarian cock-of-the-walk who keeps his countrymen starved, in fear and at his knees. Since we only have one chance, they say, go for the clean sweep -- no more Kims.

Connecticut Commentary is reprinting an earlier piece about the Kims here. Best read with a glass of port.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Pretense Of Governing


The more corrupt the state, the more laws -- Tacitus

What’s the Matter With Connecticut?” the Wall Street Journal, a publication read by some business investors, asks in a recent editorial. Of course, the editors, businesses that have been fleeing the state, young college graduates who have been kicking the dirt of Connecticut from their feet and moving to less predatory states, all know the answer to the question: If you’re sitting on a bed of nails – you move. It’s the nails – or us! That is the central message young college graduates are sending to state government.

Here is the lede to the editorial: “Connecticut’s progressive tax experiment has hit a wall. Tens of thousands of residents are fleeing for lower tax climes, which has prompted Democrats to propose—get this—paying new college grads a thousand bucks to stick around. Maybe they’re afraid an exodus of young people will turn the state Republican.”

Friday, April 07, 2017

Klarides Pounds Democrats


The trouble with bad manners, Bill Buckley used to say, is that they sometimes lead to murder. This is true in more than a metaphorical sense. Murder, in addition to being a crime, also is a serious breach in morals and manners.

Frothing over with Democratic bumper sticker propaganda, Democratic State Representative Matt Lesser, addressing Republican Party opposition to what has been called “a pay equity bill” let loose on Republicans. Opposition to the bill, Mr. Lesser said, is “rooted in two things: ‘We’ve always done it,’ and bigotry.” Unfortunately for Mr. Lesser, Republican leader in the House Themis Klarides was within ear shot.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Blumenthal’s Potemkin Village Objections to Gorsuch


At the end of March, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal announced in a Hartford Courant Op-Ed column that he “will vote against the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch as United States Supreme Court Justice.”

His reasons for doing so do not bear close examination, but they correspond neatly to the reasons offered by other Democrats, demonstrating perhaps that Blumenthal is a reliable Democratic Party soldier who comes when he’s called and goes when he’s ordered to do so by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the unacknowledged propaganda chief of  the party. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency in her contest with Donald Trump, whose ideology is blurry, Blumenthal would be taking his marching orders from Mrs. Clinton. Alas, as the poet tells us, “the best laid plans of mice and men are often torn asunder.” Mr. Trump was elected President, the House and Senate were lost to Republicans, and Democrats have been choking on bile ever since.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Lieutenant Markley


The bad news, some conservatives in Connecticut will say, is that State Senator Joe Markley will not be running for governor. The good news is that Mr. Markley -- now representing the 16th Senatorial District, which includes the towns of Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury – has announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor.

Why not governor? “When asked why he didn’t aim for the top office,” the Record Journal reports, “he said there are already many strong Republican candidates considering a run. I’m very interested in having some Republican elected as governor next year because we have to change direction in this state. I feel that this is the spot on the ticket where I can most be of service.”

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Curse Of Victimology


Perhaps the governors of the states should hand out victimization certificates along with birth certificates because – when everyone is a victim, no one will be a victim, and that may help to put an end to the victimization of non-victims nonsense. Students at Yale, we have recently discovered, are victims. One may wonder whether a graduate of Yale or Harvard has been the more victimized. Are any of them more victimized than the fatherless children in Connecticut's shoot-up capitol city, Hartford, which a few months ago was proclaimed the murder capital of New England?

Everyone, it seems, wants to get in on the action. In academia, the victimization scam may end in the destruction of the liberties of scientists.

Among the most oppressed victims in the 21st century, we discover, is tortured Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann, who appeared before U.S. Congress at the end of March to declare himself victimized. Consider his bleeding wounds.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

“Time Is Running Out” -- Courant


Milton Friedman once said, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” If you put socialists in charge of countries, you soon will create shortages of toilet paper, which is the case in Venezuela, reduced to rubble by Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. No one was surprised last week when Bloomberg announced that rich Venezuelans are fleeing the country – now an economic desert – for more profitable ventures elsewhere: “Wealthy Venezuelans Are Seeking Haven in Madrid."

Something similar is happening in Connecticut. Tax money “invested” by Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut businesses is not working to create a welcoming business environment. “Once again, a Connecticut company making a major investment in its digital business has been lured by another state offering tax breaks and the chance to succeed in a big city,” the Hartford Courant tells us. This time it’s United Technologies (UTC), which recently “spun off” Sikorsky, an iconic Connecticut company sold a few months back to Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland – which is more remote than Hartford, Connecticut, for the time being the headquarters of UTC. “United Technologies Corporation is looking to expand into New York City,” according to the Courant story, “UTC Picks New York City For $300 Million Expansion.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

DeLauro, The Progressive Maenad Of The House


The Republican plan to abolish and replace Obamacare has now collapsed. After much huffing and puffing, Republicans pulled their replacement plan, such as it was, shook the dirt of medical care reform from their feet, and vowed to move on to the next big issue -- tax reform. One imagines U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, who made some frantically intemperate remarks in the House before the Republican replacement plane crashed and burned, was delighted.

U. S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, move over: Mrs. DeLauro has now become the chief progressive maenad of the U.S. Congress. She brought to her performance suitable demagogic props, a large sign that said “Get Old People,” the words arranged horizontally and the first letter of each word – G-O-P – in fierce bold script. C-Span captured the historic moment here. Mrs. DeLauro was not wearing her pussy hat at the time; so the members of the House were spared that indignity.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suzio: Rapists and Violent Criminals Should Not Be Released Early

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – a remark attributed by Mark Twain to Disraeli

Len Suzio lost his seat to incumbent State Senator Dante Bartolomeo in a hard fought contest in 2014 by 1% of the vote and won the seat back in 2016 by 2.8 % of the vote.  His is a particularly difficult seat for Republicans; registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the 13th District roughly by a two to one margin. Think of Sisyphus rolling his stone up a perilously steep incline.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tail-Gunner Blumenthal vs. Gorsuch



U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal was mentioned early in March in connection with the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Neil Gorsuch, described by The Hill, not a far right publication, as “a conservative judge who has attracted praise from both sides of the aisle.” Gorsuch, if his nomination passes muster with the U.S. Congress, will be replacing Justice Antonin Scalia, widely regarded as a conservative member of the court.

Should Democrats fail to oppose Gorsuch with the proper vigor, progressives warn they will turn their big guns on them.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Malloy’s Trickle Up Prosperity Doesn’t Work


“First Five” agreements between Governor Dannel Malloy and preferred companies such as Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., thought to be a “major player in Connecticut's fledgling bioscience industry,” are non-enforced whenever Mr. Malloy chooses not to enforce paper tiger contracts.

About a year ago, Alexion moved from Cheshire into its new headquarters in New Haven, the 23 mile move having been facilitated by the usual “First Five” contractual agreement. The package delivered to Alexion’s doorstep by a grateful governor included a $6 million grant, a subsidized $20 million loan transformed into a gift provided Alexion had 650 workers in Connecticut by 2017, and tax credits worth in the neighborhood of $25 million.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Art Of Malloy’s Union Deal, Rowland All Over Again


Keith Phaneuf of CTMirror, who rather enjoys letting cats out of bags, remarks in a recent column that Governor Dannel Malloy will have some leverage in his negotiations with unions next time around. These negotiations materially affect state budgets. While it is true that the governor’s constitutional responsibility ends with his presentation of his budgets to the General Assembly, the Democrat dominated body has been anxious in the past to satisfy its constituency, the most politically active part of which is state employee union members.

In the past, the strife between Mr. Malloy and  SEBAC, the union conglomerate authorized to make deals with the governor – but not, significantly, with Republican legislators constitutionally charged with writing and balancing budgets-- has been something of a kabuki theater, featuring fierce, masked players swinging wildly at each other with paper swords. After the governor presents his budget to legislators, the budget often is reworked by legislators and then submitted to Mr. Malloy for his signature. During his first term, Republican leaders in the General Assembly having been sequestered, Malloy received from the Democrat dominated General Assembly plenipotentiary powers to make post-contract changes in the budget without bothering to resubmit the final product to the people’s representatives for approval. Mr. Malloy on that occasion took the political bullet for his Democratic pals in the legislature prior to an important election.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What The Wise Men Of Connecticut Might Learn From The Wise Men Of Gotham


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In most fairy tales, the way out of the dark forest is the way in -- in reverse. Sometimes the hero of the story will take care when entering the bewildering forest to lay out the way back by leaving behind markers, beans strewn on the ground, so he will not forget the entrance and exit routes. The moral of all these tales is the same: if you’ve make a mistake, reverse your errors. It is a lesson politicians in Connecticut might take to heart. With a little courage and the virtue of foresight, the lucidity of remembrance brought to bear on current difficulties, there is no difficulty that cannot be overcome.

In a recent piece in National Review, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute Stephen Eide gives us a summary view of Connecticut’s weaknesses. The top marginal income-tax rate in Connecticut now stands at 6.99 percent, Eide writes, “almost two points higher than the 5.1 percent in neighboring Massachusetts. The income tax has generated a flood of new revenues — $126 billion over 25 years, according to the Hartford-based Yankee Institute for Public Policy — but somehow state lawmakers neglected to direct adequate funds to the pension system. As a consequence, Connecticut’s state employees’ retirement system is funded at only 35.5 percent, one of lowest rates in the nation. Despite a slew of recent tax increases, state government now faces deficits of $1.5 and $1.6 billion in the next two fiscal years.”

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Blumenthal, Murphy And Trump

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal has not told us in his wanderings within Connecticut whether he believes the general run of citizens in his state feel safer or less safe with the presence in Connecticut of sanctuary cities. There are, at last count, three sanctuary cities in Connecticut: Hartford, New Haven and Willimantic. However, some state politicians have grand aspirations. State Representative Edwin Vargas of Hartford  put forward last January proposed bill 6709,  which would “amend state statutes to prevent the state police from demanding information concerning citizenship from individuals with whom they interact," in effect making the whole of Connecticut a sanctuary state, according to a story in the Hartford Courant.  And indeed, why not? If sanctuary is good for the people of Hartford, New Haven and Willimantic, how can it possibly be bad for the people of New Canaan?

The term “sanctuary city” has fallen into disuse lately. As is usual in politics, the thing is embraced, even as the word that best describes it is shunned. Some commentators have been howling that sanctuary, when it occurs anywhere but in a church, is a form of nullification, a practice infamously deployed by the Southern states during and after the Civil War to keep African Americans in bondage. This hubbub has caused a certain terminological retrenchment. Governor Dannel Malloy and some mayors now insist, sanctuary cities being illegal, that they are simply providing a “welcoming environment” for the wretched of the earth who have not bothered to observe immigration niceties. The advocates of sanctuary sometimes speak as if they wished they could drive an underground railroad from Mexico to New England and points north, legal immigration be damned.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Lincoln Alive: His Relevance To Modern Politics

The address below was given at Meriden’s Fourth Annual Lincoln Day Dinner

The day is named after Abe Lincoln, and well named too. I suppose this year those attending these remarks will thank God – who else? – that they are not called upon to celebrate the Jefferson, Jackson Bailey Dinner, which used to be a day of feasting and merriment for Connecticut Democrats. This was before conscience stricken Democrats re-named their annual event. They did so because Democrats decided, three quarters of a century after President Jackson died, that he had owned slaves – who knew? -- and was not kind to American Indians. Though somewhat debased, Jackson, revered as a populist, is still regarded as the founder of the modern Democratic Party.