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.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Chris Murphy’s New Pal


President Donald Trump recently called to the White House one of his most acerbic critics, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, to chat about gun control and school safety; the two are not at all the same thing. Murphy could hardly refuse. Trump wanted Murphy to shape, in concert with others, a national package that might help to prevent the slaughter of innocents in schools and also the victims of gun violence in our large cities, the nation’s shooting galleries, a “comprehensive” reform of gun laws that would ameliorate conditions in cities such as Chicago, former President Barack Obama’s abandoned haunt, and school kids left at the mercy of gun toting mass murderers.

Murphy and his confederate in the congress, Connecticut Senator Dick Blumenthal, had persistently denounced Trump as “eccentric,” and touched with madness, accusations laundered through Connecticut’s media that have been temporarily shelved now that the madman is making cooing gestures in Murphy’s direction; for, really, how could a madman be  both mad, when he is fighting excessive regulations, business destroying taxes, and the baneful effects of a dying Obamacare wreck,   and yet sane when he is cooing in the direction of Murphy and Blumenthal on the matter of gun control?

Thursday, March 01, 2018

McDonald And The Gay Question


The question has been asked: Should Governor Dannel Malloy’s appointment of Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald as Connecticut’s Chief Justice be rejected because McDonald is gay?

The answer is no, and it is highly unlikely in Connecticut’s Democratic top-heavy General Assembly that the nomination would be rejected for such a reason. The flip side of the question is: Should the General Assembly approve Malloy’s nomination because McDonald is gay? The answer is no.

On the gay question, it should be noted, Republican legislators have been accommodating. Connecticut legislators in 2009 agreed to replace all statutory references to marriage with gender-neutral language, a variant of a bill sponsored by McDonald and his Judiciary Committee co-chair in the House, Mike Lawlor, who, like McDonald, also is openly gay. The General Assembly voted to approve the measure – 100-44 in the House and 28-7 in the Senate. At first promising a veto, Republican Governor Jodi Rell signed the bill into law in April of that year.