Saturday, August 18, 2018

Visconti Agonistes

The Hartford Courant story is titled, provocatively, 'Racist' Tweet From Republican Joe Visconti Draws Fire From Democratic and GOP Leaders. The word “racist” is imprisoned in quotes to indicate some disagreement as to whether the perennial right of center gadfly, Joe Visconti, is a racist.

He is not a racist, those who know him best will assert, rather passionately. Visconti has argued that his message, appended to a picture of Democrat Attorney General prospect William Tong, has little to do with race and everything to do with political orientation.

Friday, August 17, 2018

New England’s Cynical Socialist Conventicle

Those on the right like to joke that New England is slipping into a socialist nirvana, but recently US. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Leon Trotsky of the movement to make New England Venezuela, has added serious notes to the charge.

Kevin Williamson has exploded the Warren menace in a thoughtful piece in National Review titled “Elizabeth Warren’s Batty Plan to Nationalize . . . Everything.”

“Warren’s proposal,” Williamson writes, is dishonestly called the ‘Accountable Capitalism Act.’ … Under Senator Warren’s proposal, no business with more than $1 billion in revenue would be permitted to legally operate without permission from the federal government. The federal government would then dictate to these businesses the composition of their boards, the details of internal corporate governance, compensation practices, personnel policies, and much more. Naturally, their political activities would be restricted, too. Senator Warren’s proposal entails the wholesale expropriation of private enterprise in the United States, and nothing less. It is unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, irresponsible, and — not to put too fine a point on it — utterly bonkers.”

Thursday, August 16, 2018

It’s The Spending, Stupid

Political campaigns are narrow spaces; there is not a lot of elbow room in them to explain in fulsome detail proposed public programs and their consequences. But a good campaign must represent more than a string of feel-good bumper sticker sentiments.

Republicans vying for the gubernatorial race this year climbed out on a conservative limb and dedicated themselves to specific policy changes: no more tax increases; permanent reductions in spending; and, most alarming to progressive Democrats, the wresting of democratic government from powerful special interests -- i.e. union representatives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Behind the General Election Barricades

Now that the party primaries have concluded, the substance of the play will change – because the audience will have changed.

Democrat Party nominee Ned Lamont unsurprisingly dished Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim with 81 percent of the primary vote.

On the Republican side, Bob Stefanowski hauled in 30 percent of the vote, 9 points more than Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury, not a strong showing for a party nominee. In the hotly contested 5th District, abandoned by Elizabeth Esty after charges she had not moved quickly enough on reported incidents of harassment by her Chief of Staff against one of her female aides. Jahana Hayes upset party nominee Mary Glassman with a convincing 62 percent of the vote. State Senator Joe Markley won a resounding victory over his two primary opponents, and Susan Bysiewicz, hand-picked by Lamont for the Lieutenant Governor slot, prevailed over her primary opponent with 62 percent of the vote.

During primaries, politicians tend to pitch their messaging to the party faithful -- to progressive Democrats or fiscally conservative Republicans. Many “conservative’ Republicans avoid the snare of social issues like the plague and, likewise, Democrats will wish in the coming general campaign to skirt the obvious failure in Connecticut of progressive fiscal measures.

In the post primary general election, a rough-hewn left or right ideology tends to take a back pew, and the post primary candidates – Democrat Lamont and Republican Stefanowski --  may make both substantial and symbolic adjustments in their campaigning, a  strategic move designed to appeal to a greater number of voters, many of whom are unaffiliateds.

We know very little about unaffiliateds because, for some indiscernible reason, pollsters have not probed the nature of the beast.

Groucho Marx used to say that he would decline to join any group that would have him as a member. It is possible that the bulk of unaffiliateds are anti-social Marxists. It is also possible that a goodly number of them are expats from both political parties who have alienated themselves from party politics for reasons good and bad. If this is the case, the breakdown among alienated unaffiliateds in Connecticut would pattern the general breakdown among the party faithful.

A data-driven understanding of unaffiliateds is essential in forming campaign strategies in a general election. There are no such studies, and in their absence campaigners more often than not become the victims of untested hypotheses. The first doubtful presumption is that unaffiliateds are “parties of one,” like Henry David Thoreau preparing to leave the comforts of Concord for the rude discomforts of Walden Pond. The second presumption is that unaffiliateds are non-ideological creatures – moderates rather than conservatives or progressives. Both assumptions may be wildly misleading.

In any case, it has become almost a tradition among Connecticut politicians moving from primaries to general elections to temper their primary messaging until, in a general election, its becomes a sort of ideological mush that appeals to everyone and no one. This is called winning a campaign on the cheap.

During the Democrat primary, Lamont and Byseiwicz gave no indication that their future administration would be other than a continuation of the disastrous reign of Dannel Malloy, whose approval rating is the lowest in the nation, though slightly higher than the Devil in Dante's ninth circle of Hell. The Republican program of Stefanowski/Markley has long since been hammered out in a rumbustious Republican primary.

Columnist Chris Powell noted a  tectonic shift in Lamont’s “overwrought if not hysterical acceptance speech admitting that the party's eight years in control of state government have laid Connecticut low and it desperately needs to change direction.”

There are two kinds of change, quantitative and qualitative. A quantitative change involves more of the same – more rodomontade from slippery politicians, more taxes, more spending. Lamont’s former gubernatorial primary opponent, Malloy, was a near perfect demagogue. So far, Lamont is only “nearly hysterical.” Demagoguery lies at the crossroad of hysteria and power. In ancient Greece, the demagogue was an accomplished rhetorician, a populist rabble-rouser who gained the affections of the populace by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, stirring the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation.

It may be well to bear in mind Mark Twain's sage advice: “When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

Here in Connecticut, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two to one margin, and unaffiliateds, about whom we know nothing, have a slight edge over Democrats, presenting a rich field in which the demagogue may sow populist tares among the wheat.

Eventually, comes the harvest of despair.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Tim Herbst And Connecticut's Third Rails

Some people, not generally Friends of Tim Herbst (FOH), think the Republican contender for governor is aggressive. He is, as has been noticed during the Republican primaries, somewhat less aggressive in his advertising than David Stemerman, but then Herbst commands a more modest campaign war chest.  Herbst disputes the slur; he says he is competitive.

However, the former First Selectman of Trumbull does have a habit of fondling third rails that other Republicans running for governor fear touching. Some of those rails – a hearty defense of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, every bit as inviolable as the First Amendment; peace and security in Connecticut; the socially disruptive effects of certain Malloy-Lawlor justice reforms; the abolition of Connecticut's death penalty on social rather than legal grounds by Connecticut’s constitutionally confused, left leaning Supreme Court; serious crime ripening in  Connecticut cities; a plenitude of illegal guns in a state that boasts some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country; the baneful effects of fatherlessness among young urban African American boys; and the constant chipping away of traditional morality by pretentious moral “reformists” – have gotten Herbst in Dutch with progressive social warriors.

Stemerman’s Deep Dive

Eric Bedner, a Journal Inquirer reporter, has been on top of the crumbling foundations story from the very beginning. Bender recently wrote about Republican gubernatorial candidate David Stemerman, one of many politicians who have made the pilgrimage to homes the foundations of which have been destroyed by the presence of pyrrhotite in the concrete mix, “Stemerman appeared to be far more knowledgeable of the issue than many of his competitors, many of whom learn the basics for the first time when speaking with homeowners.”

That is not at all surprising. Stemerman, who hopes to win the Republican primary for governor on August 14, is used to deep dives and, more often than not, he emerges with pearls in his hands.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Murphy’s Plan To Destroy The Insurance Industry

Nearly a year ago last September, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy unburdened himself to Vox reporter Jeff Stein. Vox Media is a reliably progressive site launched in 2014 by founders Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell, and Matthew Yglesias.

Stein titled his 2017 piece “Sen Murphy thinks he can build an on-ramp to single payer health careand provided a helpful single line summary: “The Connecticut Democrat will advance a plan he argues ‘may be the fastest way to a single-payer system.’”

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Malloy, The Nullifiers, And The Runaway Elephant

Abraham Lincoln gave the following example of common sense: “When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run,” and Voltaire is noted for having pointed out that nothing is so uncommon as common sense.

Proof of the theorem may be found in a document released by Governor Malloy more than a year ago that explains in some detail – but not nearly enough detail – when cops do not have to enforce Federal immigration law. The document, circulated “to school superintendents and police chiefs outlining suggested protocols on how to help these jurisdictions make decisions on enforcing President Trump's executive order on immigration,” was summarized in Bridgeport’s Daily Voice.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why Connecticut’s Left Of Center Media Will Endorse Ned Lamont

After the August primaries, most major papers in Connecticut will endorse Ned Lamont as the state’s next governor. Like politicians, newspaper owners and Editorial Page Editors are victims of their past choices. If you’ve said “yes” at the altar in the presence of so many church witnesses, it becomes a chancy proposition to call it quits too soon after the honeymoon.

Lamont was the preferred candidate of former Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker. Left of center writers in Connecticut became Weicker-likers for any number of reasons. He was a manageable Republican senator. Indeed, there are some people who think, considering his record in office, that Weicker was a closet Democrat. Weicker’s left of center Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) rating during his last term in office was 90; Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Dodd’s was 85. Weicker could be depended upon to frustrate wide-awake conservatives. Generally, the left of center media in Connecticut, then and now, will gleefully strangle conservatives in their political cribs.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Get Markley!

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, a dethroned but wiser king, about to be dragged off to prison, says to his only faithful daughter, Cordelia, “Come on, let’s go to prison. The two of us together will sing like birds in a cage. We will be good to each other. When you ask for my blessing, I’ll get down on my knees and ask you to forgive me. That’s how we’ll live—we’ll pray, we’ll sing, we’ll tell old stories, we’ll laugh at pretentious courtiers, we’ll listen to nasty court gossip, we’ll find out who’s losing and who’s winning, who’s in and who’s out. We’ll think about the mysteries of the universe as if we were God’s spies. In prison we’ll outlast hordes of rulers that will come and go as their fortunes change.”

The reporter might easily have opened his piece on State Senator Joe Markley – “Tea Partier Or Constitutional Conservative: Lt. Gov. Candidate Owns GOP Right Flank” – by noting, very incidentally, that Markley is one of the few, if not the only, state legislator with whom one might have an entertaining and profitable discussion of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which, sadly, is not often seen on Connecticut stages.

But no. Here is the lede: “He [Markley] once championed a bill to stop the state from requiring the addition of fluoride to the public drinking water – unconvinced of the efficacy of the decadeslong (sic) practice.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Blumenthal And The Nullifiers

In “History’s Bad Ideas Are an Inspiration for Progressives, historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson examines the dark side of progressivism.

Stymied by a Supreme Court that was a bit too traditionalist for his tastes – that is to say, a high court that faithfully interpreted the laws with reference to a real rather than a fictitious “living Constitution” --   President Franklin Roosevelt, Hanson notes, attempted to pack the court. His “convoluted proposal would have allowed Roosevelt to select a new—and additional justice—to the Supreme Court for every sitting judge who had reached 70 years, 6 months, and had not retired. And in theory, he could pack on 6 more judges, creating a 15-member court with a progressive majority.”

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Repeal Of Roe v Wade, A Democrat Strawman?

As July rose and June set, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy surprised everyone by announcing his retirement from the high court. Kennedy’s leave-taking will allow President Donald Trump to appoint yet another justice; this when leftists in the United States have yet to recover from his last appointment, Neil Gorsuch.

It is difficult to pigeonhole Kennedy ideologically. According to the Cato Institute, a reliable conservative organization, Kennedy’s judicial philosophy does not fit neatly on a conservative or liberal grid: “Most terms he agreed with Cato’s position more than any other justice and so he’s also sometimes known as the Court’s ‘libertarian’  justice. There’s some truth to that, even though he often reached results that libertarians liked for reasons that [supported} dignity and civility rather than classical-liberal or natural-rights theory.”

Kennedy’s announcement brought the mourners out in droves, pitchforks in hand.

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, “a cheerleader and part prognosticator” on the left, according to CTMirror, sounded the alarm:  “This [yet another Trump appointment to the Supreme Court] has to be raised to a decibel level that is deafening around the country. We thought that they could never take it away but it gives you some sense of how fragile democracy is … we are fighting for the soul of this country and for democracy in the next several months.” DeLauro was alluding to the likelihood that a Supreme Court with Trump’s nominees might result in the repeal of Roe v Wade.

Some legal scholars argue that the intellectual path to Roe v Wade was tortuous. Deriving a constitutional  right to abortion from a 14th amendment fashioned in the post-Civil War Period to prevent states from depriving newly liberated slaves of “ life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” struck some constitutionalists as a form of juridical necromancy on a par with deducing Shakespeare from lamb chops.

Others thought the court’s insistence that the fetus should be shorn of all human rights until courts and legislatures thought it politically convenient to assert such rights was too clever by half. However, a majority of the voting public would agree that the defective means used by the high court to arrive at its decision should not invalidate the end point. Abortion, if not late term abortion, has now become, as the lawyers say “settled law.” The possibility of a repeal of Roe v Wade is highly unlikely. However, the remote possibility is used by demagogues as a sump pump to push campaign money into the war chests of DeLauro and other Democrat members of Connecticut’s U. S. Congressional Delegation.

Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have announced their opposition to any Trump nominee to the high court. Blumenthal, not up for re-election in November, would be happy if Trump should reseat Kennedy following his retirement – not likely. Both intend to use the remote possibility that Roe v Wade will be repealed only to generate funds for the cause.

“As a candidate,” Murphy said, “I will be raising money. I will be organizing volunteers around one of the most important jobs of a United States senator, which is to make sure that the Supreme Court reflects the values of the country.” Murphy has $8 million tucked away in his campaign kitty, but more of a good thing is a better thing. His Republican opponents collectively are unlikely to pass the million dollar mark – advantage Murphy.

Unlike DeLauro and Murphy, Blumenthal will not be campaigning for re-election this year. But is it never too soon for entrenched incumbents to begin amassing campaign war chests. “As a non-candidate,” Blumenthal said, “I’m going to be using this issue to sound the alarm, as a call for action, a five-alarm fire, a break-the-glass moment. This kind of moment is going to be front-and-center in this election for sure.”

If Blumenthal ever does lose his seat in the Congress – a possibility as unlikely as the repeal of Roe v Wade – he easily could assume the position now occupied by Cecile Richards. Born (she was lucky) July 15, 1957, Richards has served as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund since 2006.

Blumenthal, whom some have characterized as “the senator from Planned Parenthood," has sternly opposed all reasonable attempts to impose restrictions on abortions – incredibly on moral grounds. A bill “requiring parental notification prior to a minor obtaining an abortion, unless the minor gives notice that she fears for her safety, in which case the matter shall be referred to the courts” – Raised Bill 324 -- was introduced by State Senator Len Suzio during the 2017 session. Blumenthal’s assent to the measure was notably lacking. And we know why.

Two thirds of Americans – 60 percent of women – believe late term abortion should generally be illegal, and 80 percent oppose abortions in the third trimester, a point at which the developing child can live outside the womb and late gestation increases risks of complications. In 2016, Blumenthal proposed a piece of legislation, S 1696, that effectively wiped out in a single stroke carefully calibrated state laws, including  regulations on abortion after viability, and bans on the use of abortion as a method of sex selection.

Bills such as those introduced by Suzio are popular with parents whose best interests are not represented by the senator from Planned Parenthood. But Blumenthal has the advantage of both a massive campaign kitty and an uncritical media. Connecticut’s regulator-in-chief when he was the state’s Attorney General for 20 years, now the senator from Planned Parenthood, can well afford to play the yo-yo to abortion facilitators and claim, implausibly, that any attempt to regulate an industry that aborts late term fetuses and sells their body parts is morally indefensible.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Courant Preparing Not To Endorse Herbst

It’s a pretty safe bet that former First Selectman of Trumbull Tim Herbst, now vying with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton in a Republican Party Primary, will not be receiving the Hartford Courant’s gubernatorial endorsement in the upcoming 2018 general election. Elephants will fly first.

There are sound reasons to suppose the chatter around the water cooler at the paper is not favorable to Herbst.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Democrat's Progressive Pickle

It seems clear that state Democrats will be running against President Donald Trump in the 2018 elections. They already are doing so. Will this be a winning strategy?

Ned Lamont is the Democrat Party nominee for governor. His hand-picked Lieutenant Governor running mate is Susan Bysiewicz. Lamont is facing within his own tribe a primary challenge from Mayor of Bridgeport Joe Ganim. A straggler, Guy Smith, has bowed out of the race. Ganim, despite his recent graduation from prison, may present a real threat to Lamont.

The two Democrats will be running against each other in a party primary, the winner of which will, it seems likely, be running against Trump, if only because the primary victor will not be able to win in a general election as a Malloyalist progressive.

Friday, June 29, 2018

What Connecticut Can Learn From the Capital Gazette Shooting

Most left of center commentators lost interest in the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis Maryland soon after it became obvious that there was little to no connection to Trumpian rhetoric slighting the “fake news” media. For any number of good reasons, media face time procured by the state’s two U.S. Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, was minimal.

Moments after the shooting, Murphy issued a dog-eared, often repeated refrain: “I’m sick and tired of this. My colleagues have accepted horrific mass violence and made the deliberate choice to do nothing about it. If politicians wanted to reduce gun violence, they would do their jobs and pass laws that we know would make a difference.”

Thursday, June 28, 2018

High Court Confirms Workers’ First Amendment Rights

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical –Thomas Jefferson

The sentiment above is to be found in an Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, a bill drawn up by Thomas Jefferson as part of the Revised Code of Virginia laws, but the sentiment might easily apply to Janus vs. AFSCME, a decision rendered recently by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Blumenthal's Route To Trump’s Heart

The members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, all Democrats, are not dummies. Savvy professional politicians, they know that the way to President Donald Trump’s heart is through the mouth of Ben Carson, Trump’s U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary.

In a Journal Inquirer news report on June 21,2018, we find four members of the delegation – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, plus U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney and John Larson – thanking Carson for having taken the time at their urging to visit a house in Connecticut the foundation of which was crumbling because the cement used to make the foundation was contaminated with pyrrhotite, a mineral that causes deterioration when exposed to groundwater.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lamont’s Post-Convention Messaging

Ned Lamont, the Democrat Party’s certified candidate for governor, having run the nomination knout, is now proceeding to run primary election bases.

NBC Connecticut has noted a pronounced difference in messaging: Lamont Distances from Malloy at Technology Forum.

Governor Malloy has relied on targeted tax reductions and tax grants to persuade companies to remain in Connecticut and avoid migrating to other states in order to escape the governor’s burdensome taxes and the Democrat dominated General Assembly’s noxious regulations.

"I think we've gone snap happy in terms of trying get and keep businesses,” Lamont said at a forum hosted by the Connecticut Technology Council. Lamont told the group he was not interested in providing bailouts to Connecticut’s tax starved cities: "I'm not interested in bailouts, I didn't like that deal at all, but there have to be other ways to help our cities,” which are, never-the-less, critical to the growth of the state.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Themis Alive

Some time ago, Republican leader in the State House Themis Klarides reminded a reporter that she was Greek. Her first name, she said, meant “justice.”

That was almost right. Themis was an ancient Greek Titaness, the “lady of good counsel,” a personification of divine order, fairness, law, natural law and custom. The name Themis literally means “that which is put in place.” The symbols by which Themis is known are the scales of justice, tools in the ontological order that assure balance.

Balance is the baseline in the Greek cosmos according to which right order is measured. To know whether a thing is right and just – morally, legally, ethically, religiously, secularly, atheistically -- one must have more than a nodding acquaintance with reality. Idle dreaming is a fatal threat to right order. Political visions – modern politics is consumed with visions the ancient Greeks might have considered nightmares – are justifiable and practical only when they take into account the reality of life on the ground. Therefore, the best and most just politician is the one most solidly grounded in reality.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Murphy’s Money

It was a trifle embarrassing, but U.S. Senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy was able adroitly to dodge the bullet.

“This week,” the  Journal Inquirer reported “Murphy dodged questions about [receiving campaign] tainted money from Spitzer, and instead focused on contributions from average people.”

Elliot Spitzer, a former New York Attorney General and Governor, resigned blushingly in 2008 to dodge impeachment following reports in the New York Times, the JI reported, “that he had patronized prostitutes, highlighting a meeting for two hours with a $1,000-per-hour prostitute…

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Truman Revisited

Image result for harry TrumanA historical revision of Harry Truman has been underway for some time. Historians are now smiling at the 33rd President. His was an accidental presidency, and his contemporaries, the political swamp of his day, did not like accidents. The more things change, as the French say, the more they remain the same.

Victor David Hanson -- a classicist historian and the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won,” in addition to “A War Like No Other,” the best and most riveting account of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) between Athens and Sparta -- has written the best short account of the Truman presidency for The Washington Times.

Anti-Trumpists will be spooked by the title and subtitle: “Truman as a model for Donald Trump: The outsider president succeeds because of what he does, and in spite of what he says.”

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Trump, Help Or Hindrance In Connecticut

While in the South – land of opportunity for Northern expats – I was asked by a Connecticut resident who had moved below the Mason-Dixon line several years ago seeking relief from ever-expanding taxation, the general reluctance to make long term permanent cuts in spending, excessive regulation, and the arrogance of progressives who had ruined his state, “Will President Trump be a help or a hindrance for Connecticut Republicans running for office in 2018?”

The non-simplistic answer to the question on everyone’s mind is, as the new moralists might say, complex. The complex answer depends upon a shifting political frame.

Will Connecticut Democrats be able to disassociate themselves sufficiently from the ruinous policies of departing Governor Dannel Malloy, whose approval ratings, never high, have now dipped far below the approval ratings of the Democrat’s straw man, the redoubtable Trump, whose ratings are in the ascendancy – though, one supposes, not in Connecticut?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Democrat Runaways

Democrat Bill Curry has just bowed out of what promises to be an energetic tousle in Connecticut’s 5th District.

“Some of you,” Curry noted on his Facebook page, “ know I ‘ve spent the last three years studying public corruption; the grass roots movements that have sprung up-- everywhere but here [in Connecticut] -- to fight it; the tools being used around the world to curb it. It’s the big problem that keeps all our other big problems from ever getting solved. The project is close to my heart; after three years it is just now bearing fruit. In the month since Rep Esty said she wouldn’t seek reelection I’ve tried to find a way to keep the project moving forward and still make this race. I couldn’t. The race looked winnable to me and I’m confident it will prove so for one of the fine Democrats contending for the nomination. I promise I’ll help.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Behind the Democrats' Closed Door, An Arranged Marriage

There may be still, somewhere in this romantic world, a place for arranged marriages. The union of Ned Lamont, the millionaire gubernatorial candidate for governor preferred by Democrat leaders of the ailing state of Connecticut, and the mercurial Susan Bysiewicz – candidate, in no particular order, for governor, U.S. Senator,  attorney general, governor again and lieutenant governor – is an arranged political marriage.

Uncle George Jepsen, the state’s retiring attorney general, told the Courant  the banns had been arranged for months: “’There’s a lot of stuff that’s still wide open especially on the under-ticket, but at the top of the ticket, things have been falling into line and coming together cohesively for several weeks now,’ said Attorney General George Jepsen, who has endorsed Lamont. Jepsen added: ‘I hope we’re boring compared to the Republicans.’”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Connecticut And The Trump Factor

Connecticut’s Republican Party Nominating Convention has in its wisdom nominated Matt Corey to run against U.S. Senator Chris Murphy who, along with his compatriot in the Senate, Dick Blumenthal, has been "efforting," as the leftists say, during the entire first year of the Trump presidency, to subvert a national election. To date, they have been far more successful in their efforts than the Russians.The hangman, special counsel Robert Mueller, has been for months braiding a noose behind the scenes.

Both Murphy, up for re-election this year, and Blumenthal have pilloried nearly all of Trump’s cabinet appointments, including recently installed Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, a position once occupied by Hillary Clinton, whose campaign for the presidency was, we are invited to believe, torpedoed by Russian spooks in league with Trump.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Eunice Groark RIP

Hilaire Belloc’s "Advice to the Rich" – Learn about the inwards of your motor car... And remember that you will shortly die.

Belloc is here reminding the rich, who often are busy and therefore distracted from the practical knowledge necessary to live a happy and joyous life –“Learn about the inwards of your motor car ” – that the end of life is not heaping up money; Belloc’s accompanying admonition, equally important, is a gentle reminder that God does not always sleep -- “and remember that you will shortly die.”

An unapologetic Catholic, Belloc supposed that both the rich and the poor, when their time in this vale of tears had run out, would fall into the hands of the living God. In the modern world, most dramatically in Europe, the living God has been mythologized, and no post-religious European need any longer worry that the Christian God of the beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor, for they shall be called the children of God” – is a jealous God. So, scratch the second admonition – “Remember, soon you will die” and thereby fall into the just hands of a living God.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Pulitzer On Transactional Journalism

Newspapers should have no friends – Joseph Pulitzer

Sometime in the past few years, nearly everyone in Connecticut, with the possible exception of the state’s ebullient left leaning writers, became a cynic. And cynicism has increased in direct proportion to the inability or unwillingness of status quo progressives in the General Assembly to confront the state’s most pressing economic problems. “We've been sitting through the last days of the legislative session doing everything BUT paying attention to the state's economy and fiscal situation,” Representative Gail Lavielle notes on Facebook. Procrastination is the typical response of a do-nothing politician to a serious problem.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Recession Next Time, Failing Schools And The Public Interest

The good news is that the flu virus in Connecticut is on the wane, a bitter winter is hobbling off stage, birds are singing, and the sap is rising in the trees. Spring has sprung.

The bad news, according to Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist at Data Corp. Partners Inc., is that Connecticut has yet to recover from a recession that ended elsewhere in the nation in February 2010, nearly eight years ago. Since that time, the nation has more than doubled the number of jobs lost during the recession, while Connecticut has recovered only 80 percent of its lost jobs.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Murphy As Kingmaker, Not King

A recent story in the Hartford Courant, “Lamont Gaining Party Support," focuses on U.S. Senator Chris Murphy as a Democrat Party kingmaker.

Murphy is a kingmaker by default. Party bosses disappeared long ago. They were done in by two things: an anti-boss movement that had been picking up steam since very early press attacks on Tammany Hall, and reforms in election processes. The old party boss, usually a party chairman, fell victim to primaries and open elections. But necessary functions in politics do not disappear; they are transformed. In post-reform modern times, the party boss is the party’s most important elected official.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Connecticut, The Laughingstock Of The Nation

As Governor Dannel Malloy sets off into the sunset, The Wall Street Journal reviews, in as economical a manner as possible, the real state of the state of Connecticut, once the diamond in the crown of New England.

“The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis recently rolled out its annual report on personal income growth in the 50 states, and for 2017 the Nutmeg State came in a miserable 44th.” That’s the good news.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Can Centrist Democrats Save Their Party?

Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz has planted his flag. He has announced he will call a vote on instituting a new tax, congestion tolling, in Connecticut. “I’m not willing to walk away from this session with doing nothing to solve this problem. Our job is to rep (sic) the citizens of the state and make very difficult decisions for the betterment of this state. This falls into that category for me.”

There is no need to pause here and discuss the touchy question whether Aresimowicz properly understands what Connecticut's real problems are. After two major tax increases, the largest and the second largest in state history, inexorably followed by high and unsupportable deficits, the question – is Connecticut suffering from a revenue or a spending problem? – has now been settled. Even major newspapers that had in the past asserted Connecticut’s budget problems had been caused by insufficient revenue have since repented and now acknowledge the state has a serious spending problem that must be addressed.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Malloy’s Collateral Damage

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is only the most recent of the casualties. In the midst of exploring a run for governor, Bronin, unable to garner sufficient support and money, the mother’s milk of politics, quietly dropped out of the race.

After a state bailout of $550 million, any politician not driven mad by personal ambition would have considered the mayoralty of bankrupt Hartford a softer political bed than the governorship of a failing state, a bed of nails.

The State of Connecticut and Hartford on March 27 inked a contract according to which the state will pay off the city's approximately $550 million general obligation debt over the next 20 years. Hartford's annual debt payments, projected to top $56 million by 2021, will also be “reduced” to $35 million per annum through the expedient of pushing payments into future years.

Bronin has had lots of company. Governor Dannel Malloy himself, after having consulted the auguries, decided not to run for a fourth term as governor. His decision opened wide the doors to what had been a political closed shop. Had Malloy decided to defend his two terms in office, a tough row to hoe, his Lieutenant Governor, Nancy Wyman, likely would have agreed to ride shotgun once again on the Malloy coach. But following Malloy’s flight from office, she too decided to call it a day, pleading grandchildren.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Republicans Downgrade Malloy

S&P Global Ratings has lowered Connecticut’s rating one notch from A+ to A. Credit analyst David Hitchcock provided a list of reasons justifying the downgrade.

Hitchcock noted, according to a CTMirror story, that Connecticut has one of the highest per capita debt ratios in the nation, having ended the last fiscal year with a taxpayer bonded debt approaching 24 billion. The state has been struggling with ways to provide support for its poorly funded municipal teachers’ pension program. Connecticut, according to Hitchcock, “has a history of deficit financing during recessions.” Connecticut has yet to recover fully from a recession that official ended several years ago. The state’s emergency budget reserve is dangerously low at $210 million, according to Hitchcock, an amount just larger than 1 percent of annual General Fund operating costs. CTMirror reports that “Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo recommends a reserve of 15 percent.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cranky Democrats

Sometime after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lee Whitnum was dragged from a debate stage in Brookfield and arrested – apparently for being Lee Whitnum – Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nick Balletto issued the following directive to Fox News: “We’re a big tent party, we invite people from all walks of life to participate in our Party and the electoral process. But based on Lee Whitnum’s behavior tonight, and based on her behavior in the past, it’s clear that Lee Whitnum should not hold elected office and does not represent the Democratic Party, nor should she participate in Party functions at the local or statewide level.”

There will be multiple versions of the event, Whitnum’s and everyone else's. Going forward, the standard among gubernatorial Democrats for dealing with disgruntled declared candidates for governor appears to be -- call the cops. The "big tent" party of law and order is on the prowl, and Brookfield obviously is not a sanctuary town in which police officers are cautioned to wink at lawbreakers. This change, prompted by Whitnum, is highly unusual for Democrats, who generally tolerate political disruptors such as Antifa anarchists, the more absurd of the second wave feminists, and pretty much anyone who would support actions leading to the impeachment of the present White House disturber, Donald Trump.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Can Walker Walk The Walk?

Former U.S. Comptroller General and candidate for Governor took some time out of his busy day to answer a couple of questions. See below.

Connecticut Commentary:  In your campaign literature, you style yourself a “turnaround specialist,” and your background suggests you have walked the walk. You served as Comptroller General of the United States for 10 years under three different presidents, Reagan, Bush (41) and Clinton, during which time you “led a widely praised transformation of the GAO and spearheaded related efforts for the accountability community both domestically and internationally.” The state of Connecticut certainly could use a CPA governor who can add one and one and get two. Other governors have in the past more or less fudged the numbers through overly optimistic revenue projections and outright thievery – by flitching money from so called “lock boxes” and using the loot to balance chronically out of balance budgets, relieving the pressure, such as it is, on the General Assembly to reduce spending. Politics, not rational economic decisions, are driving these revenue distortions. How will someone like yourself, who has little experience dealing with the personalities and interests that shape Connecticut politics, manage to turn around Connecticut?

Safe Schools, Beyond Gun Control: What Malloy, Murphy and Blumenthal Are Not Telling You

This is a digest of information included in The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Owning Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy has seven months remaining in his second term. His administration has been a deceptive failure.

Malloy came into office complaining loudly about the problems put on his plate by his predecessors, Governors Jodi Rell and John Rowland.  They had not done what was necessary to remediate Connecticut’s economic woes.

When Malloy leaves office at the end of his second term, the problems will be intensified.  Because he has promoted false solutions – tax increases, the extension of crippling state employee contracts beyond 2027, to mention just two missteps – Connecticut’s problems have become more intractable.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Solvency In The State Of Insolvency: Malloy Gets His Tax On

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me – an Italian proverb

House Bill 5046, which would re-establish tolls in Connecticut, is yet another tax, a tax being money that flows from private wallets to public treasuries.

According to popular delusion, people traveling from states bordering Connecticut will pay the tax. The trick in taxing is to find someone else to pick up the bill. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana put it aphoristically: “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree.” The truth is: We are the people behind the tree. Even when the tax burden appears to be paid by someone else, as in business taxes, the burden of taxation comes home to roost. Businesses collect corporate taxes from the consumers of their products and services. Like your smarmy politician, the taxed business is a tax collection operation.

In the case of transportation tolls, the imposture is thin and transparent. Only about 30 percent of congestion tolling will be paid by the people from out of state using Connecticut roads. The bulk of it, 70 percent, will be paid by Connecticut tax camels carrying heavy loads, and some are warning that the add-tax will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Other skeptics ask: Why is the transportation fund in need of such massive capitalization?

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Taking The Fifth, After Esty

Whether or not U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty will serve the remainder of her term or resign immediately is very much an open question. But, in any case, the battle for Connecticut’s 5th U.S. Congressional District has begun with a show of unexpected fireworks.

For many years, the 5th District was a toss-up proposition; both Republicans and Democrats have held and surrendered the seat. Geographically the 5th District touches the border of New York from Connecticut’s northern-most point to Danbury in the southern quadrant and includes much of Litchfield county and parts of Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven counties. Party affiliation is competitive, in round figures, 30 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican and 45 percent unaffiliated. Over the years, the Democrat Party in Connecticut has moved from the center to the left, but the 5th District has been a moderate preserve. During the Obama presidential election, Republican moderates within Connecticut's U.S. Congressional elections fell to progressives in the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

A Friendless Esty Calls It Quits

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” The saying was attributed to President Harry Truman by a playwright, but just because Truman may not have coined the phrase does not make it any the less true. Washington DC can be a cutthroat corner of the world. This is not to say that all well-mannered pols have cashed in their chips and left the casino in the hands of brutes. Some U.S. Senators still feel that politics should not be a murderous affair. If you do catch your enemy in a compromising position, it would be prudent to leave open a back door through which he might escape with his honor intact. Your enemy will appreciate the graceful gesture and, perhaps in some future encounter, pause and consider before he draws the knife across your throat” 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Esty’s Metoo Problem

Stories like this open a window into sealed rooms in which the usual favorable campaign propaganda is produced by the truckload.

This one, which ran in the Washington Post, is not good news for U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty, most recently seen bobbing her head in assent to a vigorous attack on the National Rifle Association (NRA) by a teenage rabble rouser in Washington DC.

The Post story begins with a knock-out lede: “The threat from Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s chief of staff arrived in a voice mail.

“’You better f-----g reply to me or I will f-----g kill you,’ Tony Baker said in the May 5, 2016, recording left for Anna Kain, a former Esty aide Baker had once dated.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Murphy’s Future

History, always messy, has a wrong and a right side, and sometimes the right side is the revolutionary one; such was the case during the American Revolution.

When U.S. Senator Chris Murphy says that the National Rifle Association (NRA), and others who support the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights, is “on the wrong side of history,” he shows a lack of understanding concerning what history is, what being on the wrong side of it is, and possibly what “is” is. If the NRA is on the right side of the Second Amendment, it is on the right side of history, as were American revolutionists who fashioned it in response to a British attempt to deprive colonists of their weapons. The most prominent lawyer of the day, Judge St. George Tucker, appointed by President James Madison as U.S. District Judge for Virginia, characterized the right of citizens to bear arms as “the palladium of liberty, the right of defense upon which all the other imprescriptible rights in the Bill of Rights depend. Such was the historic understanding of the Second Amendment throughout American history – before the advent of Murphy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Nothing But Betrayal

With apologies to Shakespeare: “Spending’s the thing, wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

There is in Connecticut no truer Trumpian liege lord than Joe Visconti, a gubernatorial candidate who described himself in one of his campaign documents as “Trump without the millions.”

When Trumpians refer disdainfully to “the DC Swamp,” they have in mind the kind of uncontrolled spending that, during the Obama administration, doubled President George Bush’s $10 trillion deficit. The current deficit now has been boosted by the U.S. Congress, and it was Trump who signed – very reluctantly, to be sure – the “drain the swamp’s” death warrant.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Malloy-Bronin Real Deal

Governor Malloy’s man in Hartford, Mayor Luke Bronin, is close, we are told by a Hartford paper, “to signing a deal that would require the state to assume Hartford's annual debt payments.”

Malloy, who has proven himself more adept at deal making with his political cronies than balancing budgets and warding off debt, previously has made deals with state employee unions that carry debt forward much beyond his term in office. The SEBAC deal Malloy struck with lean and hungry union honchos, ratified by progressive Democrats in the General Assembly, push union favorable contracts forward to 2027 and prevent future governors from deploying layoffs to reduce debt until the contracts elapse. During his first two terms, Malloy has used the threat of layoffs to persuade hard boiled union negotiators to cough up what Malloy has been pleased to call “concessions,” an option the SEBAC-Malloy deal will not provide to Malloy’s successor. Union concessions generally have not involved long-term, permanent savings, which is why the state keeps stumbling from budget deficit to budget deficit.

Malloy’s deal with Bronin, who hopes to replace his padron as Connecticut’s next governor, is a sweet deal for Bronin, but not for Hartford. Bailouts will not break the cycle of spending and debt that hangs over the Capital City’s head like a Damoclean Sword.

A bankruptcy proceeding and a consequent reordering of financing by a bankruptcy court might have helped balance Hartford’s books in the future, because a court would have attacked head-on the causes of Hartford’s penury. But a bailout simply postpones the day of reckoning and, if Bronin is successful in his bid for governor, someone other than Bronin will fall victim to the pending Damoclean Sword. Just as Malloy will be leaving the problems he has failed to solve to his successor, so Bronin, after two years and a few months into a four year term as Mayor, will be deeding Hartford’s problems to his successor.

The terms of the Malloy-Bronin deal are what one might expect: The state – i.e. state taxpayers besieged by billion dollar increases in taxes during Malloy’s failed tenure as Governor, which has contributed to tax-payer flight – would cover Hartford’s immediate debt by June 20, ponying up $12 million. State taxpayers will surrender another $24 million to close Hartford’s budget deficit. In the future, state taxpayers will cover Hartford’s full debt payment – which, of course, will spur additional spending – and Hartford may receive an addition subsidy. Hartford already receives $270 million in extra aid from state taxpayers each year.

Every playboy living off his daddy’s wallet knows that financial “help” of this kind induces future uncontrolled spending. In a bankruptcy proceeding, debt and expenditures are both reduced. The fine print on the Malloy-Bronin deal promises non-political oversight. The Malloy-Bronin deal provides that an “oversight board” will restrict how Hartford will spend its money. “Budgets, contracts and other documents,” according to the Hartford paper, “must be run by the panel, and the board has final say over new labor agreements. Hartford can’t issue new debt without the group’s permission.”

So then, let us reason together. Hartford, like the state of Connecticut, has been overspending for decades, and it is largely future salaries and benefits that are driving debt. Salaries and benefits are set by chief administrators -- governors, mayors and town councils -- who concoct deals with union negotiators. State-Union deals may be rejected by the General Assembly, which is constitutionally authorized to appropriate money and disburse expenditures. But it has not often happened during negotiations between Malloy and SEBAC that a deal struck by Malloy and union chiefs has been rejected by the General Assembly. Far from rejecting deals that set in stone extravagant spending and ordering deals to be reconstructed so that spending may be brought under control, the Democrat dominated General Assembly has nodded sleepy assent to Malloy-SEBAC union favorable deals. Malloy is a progressive Democrat who has a warm spot in his heart for unions. Indeed, the Governor has expressed his solidarity with unions – which had contributed generously to his campaigns – by marching in strike lines with unions.

In fact, the Malloy-Bronin deal sets in concrete the present level of spending in Hartford and then uses this marker as a standard for future spending. The deal is a permit to continue a ruinous level of spending and a promise that spending excess, which is the cause of Hartford’s debt, will be assumed by state taxpayers.

Like his political patron Malloy, Bronin has not fallen far from the Malloy’s progressive tree. For those in Connecticut who mistakenly believe that Malloy’s stewardship of the state has led to uncontrollable bursts of economic activity, an influx of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial capital and a reduction of future debt, Bronin is a perfect gubernatorial choice to replace his political padroni, who has chosen to flee Connecticut’s burning house with his pants on fire.

Monday, March 19, 2018

What To Do About State Unions

Jim Powell asked in an eye-opening piece in Forbes magazine 67 months ago, “How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?"

A partial answer, freighted with supportive data, has now been advanced in a piece commissioned by The Yankee Institute titled “Above the Law: How Government Unions’ Extralegal Privileges Are Harming Public Employees, Taxpayers And The State." 

Everyone, both inside and outside the state, is intimately familiar with the bad news most of us have internally affirmed during the past few decades. Consider the rise in the Connecticut’s “fixed costs,” a fixed cost being one that can be reduced only by extraordinary, politically unlikely efforts: “In 2006, fixed costs constituted only 37 percent of the state’s budget; by 2018 that amount was 53 percent.” In 2016, the Census Bureau reported that Connecticut was one of only eight states to lose population. Fixed costs are strangling the state’s economy and pushing taxpayers and workers out of state.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

McDonald And The Art Of Victimology

Governor Dannel Malloy’s Nominee for Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Justice Andrew McDonald, was sent to the General Assembly with a negative recommendation. The nomination  passed in the House by one vote, where Democrats have a six member edge over Republicans, and is now headed towards the Senate, which is split 18-18 among Democrats and Republicans.

The Republican leader in the Senate, Len Fasano, said on a radio talk show recently that he is inclined to vote down the nomination.  After viewing all McDonald's opinions -- and also interviewing McDonald -- Fasano feels that McDonald is prone to affirming a possibly flawed decision if the decision contains a partial narrative that supports his apriori views. For instance, McDonald believes that the death penalty may be racist because it falls disproportionately on blacks, a doubtful datum. If a decision to abolish the death penalty supported that view, McDonald would be inclined to support it. That mode of interpretation violates judicial norms and is reason enough to vote down McDonald's nomination. Is Fasano right?

Monday, March 12, 2018

McDonald And Connecticut’s Indentured Supreme Court

Objective court watchers may be amused by the notion that Connecticut’s Supreme Court has become politicized, especially since the court for some time has shown itself to be the indentured servant of the left wing of the Democrat dominated General Assembly.

As proof of this proposition, one need look no further than Governor Dannel Malloy’s choice for Chief Justice, recently approved by one vote in Connecticut’s House of Representatives. The McDonald nomination now moves to the State Senate, where confirmation is more doubtful.

In addition to being gay – a major plus in Connecticut, as witness McDonald’s unimpeded elevation from Director of Legal Affairs for the City of Stamford from 1999 to 2002, to Stamford Representative in the General Assembly from 1991 to 2003, to co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, along with Mike Lawlor, to Justice of the Supreme Court – McDonald has shown himself to be a committed partisan Democrat ideologue whose political attachment to Malloy, the most progressive chief executive in living memory, never wavered.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Judge Norko, Let us Now Praise…

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book written by James Agee containing photographs by Walker Evans. In 1936, they traveled to Alabama to report on three tenant farming families. Their original story, only recently unearthed, never ran, but Agee continued to work on the project, and in 1941 Agee and Evans published their book, now itself famous as a literary work of art. Poverty and struggle had found a voice.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

The Democrat’s Bête Noire, The NRA

Mayor of Hartford Luke Bronin, once Governor Dannel Malloy’s Chief Counsel, has declared war on the National Rifle Association (NRA). Democrats running for high office in the upcoming elections will likely follow suit, mostly because they dare not defend the rapacious policies of Governor Dannel Malloy, the nominal head of the state Democratic Party, and they need a distraction sufficient to beguile a public that already has voted against Malloy’s policies with its feet.  The national anti-NRA campaign script, widely vetted in the northeast and California, reached Connecticut politicians early on. In fact, they had a hand in its construction.

Only recently Malloy condemned the NRA in what might be termed politically pornographic terms. The NRA has become in essence, Malloy said, “a terrorist organization."

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Sarsour At UConn

Ben Shapiro has come and gone. UConn alumni – students who have grown up – will be pleased to hear that there were no untoward incidents during his appearance at their university. Shapiro’s bona fides are impressive. He is a conservative political commentator, columnist, radio talk show host, lawyer, editor in chief of The Daily Wire, which he founded, and the author of Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth, a book he began writing when he was 17 years old. And he is visibly Jewish, a point that will become increasingly relevant as this column progresses.