Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Stranger In Our Midst

Rob Sampson
In a piece in the New England Intelligencer (NEI) printed last January, “Malloy, The Sanctuary Governor,” the governor’s spokesman, addressing Malloy’s views on sanctuary cities, said this: “We are continuing to work with and await guidance from the appropriate federal agencies on screening measures that will be taken. With that said, if refugees – many who are children fleeing a horrific war-torn country—seek and are granted asylum after a rigorous security process, we should and will welcome them in Connecticut.”

That sentiment was encapsulated in a piece of legislation, the “Trust Act”, that has now been amended by Connecticut’s current Democrat dominated State Senate. And the changes are stunning, possibly even dangerous.

The “Trust Act", which prevents law enforcement officials in Connecticut from enforcing ICE detainers, did not incorporate whatever “guidance from the appropriate federal agencies on screening measures” in the bill. Illegal intruders admitted by stealth into the United States are unvetted; in all such cases, it is impossible to know who they are or where they are located – unless the illegal intruder brings himself to the attention of law enforcement officials, most often through the commission of a crime. It is impossible to assert that ICE nodded its assent to a bill that created sanctuaries from ICE, but the initial bill did allow reasonable exemptions – cases in which serious criminals would be reported to ICE by state officials.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Connecticut’s Detour

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world… W. B. Yeats 

It seems ages ago that a major newspaper in Connecticut firmly decided that Connecticut was suffering from a spending rather than a revenue problem; meaning that budget deficits in the future should be liquidated by spending cuts and not tax increases.

Naturally, few politicians, chiefly those on the Democrat side of the political barricades, paid much attention to this change of heart and mind. Faced with chronic and continuing budget deficits – the state’s present biennial budget deficit is about $4 billion – Connecticut’s Democrat politicians continued piling on tax increases. Former Governor Dan Malloy, who retired from office following his second term, was a chronic revenue increaser, aided, of course, by a Democrat dominated General Assembly. Malloy’s approval rating plummeted more or less in concert with his tax increases, and he left office the least popular governor in the nation with an approval rating hovering around 25 percent.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

All The Governor’s Men, Occhiogrosso

Occhiogrosso and Malloy
Tolling in Connecticut is what the advertising men would call a tough sell, and it helps in circumstances such as these to bring in some political spin doctors to assist in the delivery.

Many people in Connecticut, almost certainly a majority, do not want tolls. On May 9, No Tolls Connecticut delivered to the governor’s office a “No Tolls” petition signed by 100,000 people.

Candidate for governor Ned Lamont said during his campaign he would favor tolls only if people outside the state, truck drivers mostly, would be depositing their mites in Connecticut’s revenue collection basket. He said this several times while the TV cameras were rolling. Later Lamont changed his mind, always the prerogative of pretty women and ambitious politicians. But Lamont’s reversal – which came shortly after he had won his gubernatorial campaign – could not be justified as a “misspeak.” He could have used the services of a good narrative builder right there, but Roy Occhiogrosso, former Governor Dan Malloy’s flack catcher and narrative builder perhaps was busy hauling in the dollars from his other clients.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Crony Capitalism, Not Down And Out In Connecticut

Ned Lamont
Six years ago, Jim Powell wrote what many in Connecticut considered at the time a stunning piece in Forbes Magazine titled “How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?

The piece was mentioned in Connecticut Commentary and columns two months after it had been published in August 2013. This is what was said about it at the time: “All the red flags fluttering in the Powell piece “point to an economically diminished and bleak future – unless and until the grown-ups take charge of Connecticut’s tax grubbing, high spending, crony capitalist government… Far from being a solution to our economic woes, crony capitalism – in which [then Governor Dannel] Malloy and leaders in the General Assembly plunder the private economy of entrepreneurial capital they then bestow on favored companies – encourages polite bribery between tax dispensers and large corporations, while introducing toxic levels of moral uncertainty into a business-governmental relationship that should be even-handed and just. Crony capitalism tilts in favor of large, resource rich companies what U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal might regard, if he thought about it, as the economic ‘even playing field.’ It is the work of a day for large politically connected companies to use the agencies of government to drive healthy competition from the field.”

Sunday, May 05, 2019

To Russia With Love, Blumenthal’s Choice

Blumenthal sworn into office by Biden in a mock ceremony
The leading Democrats scrambling up the presidential campaign greasy pole are former Vice President in the Obama administration Joe Biden, 29 percent in a Quinnipiac poll, followed by Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, 19 percent in the same poll, both of whom have had past sweet and sour relationships, none of them the subject of congressional hearings,  with communist Russia. President Donald Trump continues to be slammed by Democrats owing to his still alleged warm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, collusion with the Ruskies having been put in the cooler after the Mueller investigation, but these two… not so much.

Biden’s questionable relationship with Ukraine, a country that had in the past locked horns with Russia numerous times – in 1932, Joseph Stalin created a man-made famine to haul Ukraine into the Soviet orbit – recently re-surfaced in a New York Times piece that is certain to catch the eyes of those who have questioned President Trump’s presumed warm relationship with Putin.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Pensioning Off Pension Debt To Towns

The Democrat plan to “to have cities and towns share in the cost of public school teachers’ pensions,” as the Hartford Courant put it in a recent story, continues to be “controversial,” perhaps the understatement of the year. The plan would “cost municipalities a combined $73 million a year and would lead to property tax increases across the state.”

The principal spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Kevin Maloney, has characterized the plan to shift to towns some cost of pensions without giving the towns the opportunity to cut spending by reducing teacher salaries and benefits  as “the largest unfunded state mandate in recent memory,” and the executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns Betsy Gara has said, “Shifting $73 million in pension costs onto the backs of already overburdened homeowners and other property taxpayers will diminish housing values, undermining our state and local economies."

Local government relies on property taxes to run municipal governments, and here too the state plans to partly deprive these rival municipal governments of their means of financing through a series of measures: eliminating property tax on cars, raising the tax on home ownership by boosting from 70% to 100%  the assessed value of houses, and more.

The characterizations of Maloney and Gara, though true, are not likely to move the legislative needle, now stuck on "Democrat."

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Connecticut Taxes, Amazon Strikes Back At Willy Loman

Related image
"'s better for a man just to walk away. But if you can't walk away? I guess that's when it's tough” -- Willy Loman, “Death of a Salesman”

The old saying is “You can’t fight City Hall.” That is partly true. City Hall is huge and more powerful than you. The gods of government have resources denied to the little people, but then government is supposed to be on the side of the little people, as is the media, a presumed joint support that tends to even the perpetual battle between the lions of the market place and … let’s call him Willy, after Willy Loman, the chief character in Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman.”

The Willy of this piece is a Connecticut salesman – there are many of them – who do business with Amazon. And Willy has a problem that will not be settled by the usual white-hatted Attorney General of Connecticut or legislators who weep over the little guy or the media, afflicters of the comfortable and comforters of the afflicted. You can bet your house on that.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Progressive Moralists Among Us

State Representative Josh Elliot, a progressive Democrat from Hamden, views the state budget as “a moral document that can be used to create a more equitable and fair society,” the Hartford Courant tells us. The paper quotes Elliot on the point: “Are you taking an economic frame and saying ‘what can we do to grow GDP at all costs?’ … Or are you taking a moral and ethical frame and saying ‘what can we do to build up a just society?’ And I think those two questions are at loggerheads right now.”

There is a welter of confusion here. The point Elliot appears to be making is that progressives like himself view the economy as having a moral dimension lost to free-marketers, i.e. redundantly rich capitalists concerned only – note the devil word “only” -- with growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It would not be possible in Elliot’s view for a free-marketer like, say, Fredrick Hayek, author of “The Road To Serfdom” -- a ruthless attack against the collectivist ethos that informs socialism, communism, progressivism and fascism -- to be a moralist.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Lamont’s 100 Days Report Card

Well, that didn’t take long. Morning Consult  tracks the favorable and unfavorable ratings of governors across the United States. According to the rating service, Governor Ned Lamont’s favorability rating is hovering around 33 percent 100 days into the new administration. The bulk of the discontent can only be attributed to disappointed expectations.

Former Governor Dannel Malloy, who high-tailed it to his old alma mater, Boston Law, following his not unexpected decision to abandon thoughts of a third term in office, absconded with an approval rating of about 29 percent. Shortly before he threw in the towel, Malloy was the most unpopular governor in the United States.

Ironists – if there are any such creatures among Connecticut political watchers – will dwell on the  as yet unexamined ironies. How did it happen that an electorate that had registered such profound disappointment with Malloy never-the-less elected as his successor another Democrat who managed to acquire, after only 100 days, an approval rating that puts him in 5th place among the lowest rated governors in the country?

There are various theories bouncing around that may square this apparent circle.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Blumenthal vs Barr

The sound and fury over President Donald Trump’s now exploded "conspiracy" with Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine the Trump/Clinton election in favor of Trump is abating following the publication of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive 448 page report.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow reported last December, “Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide.” The serpent coiled in that line is that the Trump team HAD colluded with the Russians.  Naturally, the mud throwers are perversely unrepentant. After a two year investigation, Mueller’s team “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign colluded or coordinated with the Russian government,” according to Mueller’s report.

In fact, the often touted suspicions of leading Democrat propagandists – first that Trump had “conspired” against the interests of the United States, a crime and a charge later lowered to “collusion” by those disappointed with the election results, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal among them – turned out to be, Mueller said in language as plain as the ego te absolve of the confessional, a molehill blown into a mountain by Trump’s accusers.