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Showing posts from April, 2007

Welcome To Connecticut, The Land Of Steady Taxes

One of the reasons advanced by pro-income tax proponents in those halcyon days when the state budget was only one half of the present money sucker was that the sales tax, then the state’s principal revenue producer, was volatile.

In good times, the state’s coffers were full to brimming; but in bad times, revenues trickled in, causing deficits. One happy consequence of the deficits was that they occasionally prompted legislators to cut spending.

All this happened in days long past during the administrations of Gov. Ella Grasso, a notorious penny-pincher, and Gov. William O’Neill. Both Grasso and O’Neill were fiscally responsible Democrats; neither were conservatives. Both were unalterably opposed to an income tax.

The red ink -- caused then and now by overspending -- troubled legislators who in lean years were forced to cut spending, because spending cuts aroused the antipathies of precisely those people, teacher’s unions and other tax consumers, who, mightily upset, were fully capable of…

Democrats In War And Peace: Hillary vs Dodd

Dodd Likes Spinach

When a politician begins a statement this way – “Don’t misunderstand me, I like spinach’’ – you can be certain he deplores spinach. If the politician is a progressive, the same rule holds true when the “spinach” is “soldiers in Iraq busily undermining the Democrat congressional effort to subvert the war on terror and make the White House safe for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich or Chris Dodd, who has more experience than the other Democrat presidential candidates in subverting wars.”

Hillary the Stiff

It is said that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is much stiffer on the stump than her husband, ex-President Bill Clinton – soon to be, God willing, the future president’s First Partner. And this is true.

Hillary is more formal than Bill, more cautious, less certain that –whatever the rhetorical thicket she may wander into – she possesses the wit, charm, grace and verbal agility to escape the briars that will tear her tender flesh. She is a pa…

Rell, The Hot Potato

"This is the way the income tax should have been since day one" -- President Pro Tem of the state Senate Don Williams

Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax the guy behind the tree” -- Huey Long.

Seeking to recover some lost political ground when she unveiled her budget and alarmed Republicans by behaving like a Democrat, Gov Jodi Rell quickly amended her spending plan by adding features that that caused the most powerful union in the state to drop her like the proverbial hot potato.

This is both good and bad: good because Rell’s amended budget may cause some moderate Republicans to rally round her drooping flag; bad because she has lost her Praetorian Guard, ardent Republicans who want dearly to save the state from the prehensile grasp of antique Huey Long Democrats.

Summoning their courage, some Republicans produced an alternative budget that held the line on tax increases. Their alternative budget still busted the constitutional cap on spending Connecticut voters affirmed when the…

Estonia vs Connecticut: Don’t bet on Connecticut

What do the following countries have in common: Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Georgia, Romania and Macedonia?

They all have growth rates of 6.9 percent and, according to an editorial in the Providence Journal of Rhode Island, “a much higher rate of gross capital formation” than other European countries. By comparison, the growth rate in Connecticut is too small to measure. Among national competitors, Connecticut is dead last in job growth and its out migration of students and young entrepreneurs places it near the bottom percentile.

So what’s the big secret?

All the Eastern European countries, no longer henpecked by Soviet socialists, have adopted a flat tax. Once an economic basket case, Ireland, which has reduced its taxes, is now known as the “Celtic Tiger.” Estonia is next in line for prosperity. Following its adoption of a flat tax, Estonians will be able to complete their tax forms in 15 minutes.

As the Providence Journal puts it, “Some 84 percent fi…

The Alternative Republican Budget

Just when the Connecticut chorus advocating more spending has become taxing, the Republican Party – absent Governor Jodi Rell, who has become a party unto herself – cleared its throat and began to sing a familiar tune.

Republicans this year have produced their own budget, apparently on the sly, and not unexpectedly it contains zero tax increases.

The problem with the Republican Party budget is not that it is little more than a series of campaign debating points; on the contrary, the GOP budget is detailed and comprehensive. The problem is that the alternative budget will be treated by the governor, the media and less so by Democrat legislative leaders, who will simply ignore it, as a “point of departure” for negotiations; serious budget negotiations will take place between the governor, who yet disposes of a few bargaining chips, and a Democrat legislature on steroids.

Both the governor and Democrats have shown themselves to be big-time constitutional spending cap busters.

The Democrats …

The Jefferson, Jackson Bailey Dinner

Nancy Pelosi, the powerful Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was a fashionably 15 minutes late, the result, no doubt, of the antique twin engine plane that carries the Speaker hither and yon.

Dodd gave a well-received speech, though the feasters present at the Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner were anxious to dive into their meals during the last few flagging minutes of the speech.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Dodd protégé from the gerrymandered 3rd District, which has gone Democrat in all but 12 of the last 74 years, gave a rousing speech introducing Speaker Pelosi and congratulated her on being a woman.

Independent Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman was not in attendance; religious obligations impended.

After the event, there was much cogitation in stories and commentaries speculating on how Lieberman, who defeated preferred Democrat nominee Ned Lamont, might have fared if he had attended the event. Dodd said Lieberman would have been politely received, even though the ID took issue with…

The Yanks Are Coming

D. Dowd Muska was kind enough to invite me to speak to the Yankee Institute on blogging. This is the result:

I’d like to thank Mr. Muska for inviting me here today to talk to you about blogging. And if it’s possible to thank an institution, I’d also like to thank the Yankee Institute for having provided to me over the years the live ammo I’ve used in political columns and blogs. You, the keepers of the right data, have been and are an invaluable resource.

In this talk, if I am successful, I’d like to set blogging in its proper place in the political firmament, and then offer some words of encouragement.

About a month ago, I was engaging in political fisticuffs on a blog not my own, Connecticut Local Politics, run by a gent who calls himself Ghengis CONN – that’s C-O-N-N – when I was rudely interrupted by a pest who styles himself Connecticut Keith. CtKeith said this: “Perhaps Mr. Pesci will consider moving his remarks to his own blog – where no one will ever read them.”

That’s the sort sp…

Dodd On The Stump: The More You Look, The Less There Is

The problem with Sen. Chris Dodd’s view of the world – and even more so his views on foreign policy – is that there is no “is” there.

In foreign policy issues, Dodd proceeds as if the ideal universe he wishes to establish on earth, mostly by diplomatic means, is the reality; when, in fact, the real world, especially in the Middle East, is riven by religious zealots impervious to diplomacy whose world view is shaped by dreams of a Islamic caliphate that will extend from the shores of Tripoli to the halls of Montezuma.

Improbable as it may seem, in the real world of Osama bin Ladin and his intellectual offspring, the Islamic revolution will not be complete until Dodd’s two charming daughters are wrapped in burqas and Dodd himself, a putative Catholic, is taxed for his non-belief. That is the way things were in the good old days of the 10th century, and terrorists in and outside of Iraq are striving to reestablish their supremacy over the West – which is to say, over everything to which D…

Democrats To Rell -- Checkmate!

Having said "It will be difficult to get it all done this year" – “it” being a $18 billion boost in taxes to pay for a universal health insurance plan – President Pro Tem of the state senate Mr. Donald Williams gave us a peek into the future when Democrats recently unfurled their battle standard, a budget, heavily progressivized, that punishes smokers, many of whom tend to be poor, and the Democrat’s version of a “millionaire,” anyone earning more than $200,000 a year, while it rewards those in lower income brackets and people living in whatever towns Democrats have chosen to lard with benefices.

When the state income tax was but a gleam in Lowell Weicker’s eye, then governor Weicker was faced with a difficulty in passing the tax through a legislature more evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats than the present arrangement. So the boys and gals wrote a cap on spending into the tax plan, lately busted by Governor Jodi “I am willing to negotiate” Rell, and produced a …

Spending My Way Back To You Babe

“There are reality checks when you put a fiscal note to a bill,” said House Speaker James Amann, a Milford Democrat. “There are some ideas that are so unattainable, so far out of reach, that you have to have a reality check.”

Mr. Amann was here referring to Universal Health Care, a euphemism for state socialized medicine. The price tag put on the legislative bill for Universal Health Care by the Connecticut’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis was a cool $18 billion, a number that sent chills up and down the spines of both legislators and the not easily spooked members of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

“Even we were quite shocked [by] the enormity of the cost. ... A lot of people are just scratching their heads and saying, ‘Wow!’” said CBIA associate council Eric George.

The $18 billion figure is just a touch more than Connecticut’s two year budget. But not everyone was scratching their heads and placing their hands over their wallets, mumbling as they did so, “Ne…

Iranian Prisoners, Then And Now

Some time ago, Reuel Marc Gerecht reviewed Mark Bowden's book on the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis -- Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam. This is what Gerecht said in the Wall Street Journal about the behavior of Americans taken prisoner after Iranian students – one of whom may have been the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the merciful – stormed the American embassy in Iran:

“John Limbert, an academically trained, Persian-speaking diplomat -- who probably has the softest heart for Iran among the hostages -- is in solitary confinement in the city of Isfahan, 200 miles from Tehran, after the failed Desert One rescue mission. (President Carter, after long delay, had sent fuel-tanker planes, gunships and helicopters to recapture the embassy; in a night-vision-goggle debacle set into motion by a sandstorm, a helicopter and a plane collided in the desert; the aborted the mission left the burnt remains to be toyed with by revolu…

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

Rep Chris Caruso, the inspector Jarvet of Democrats, was decidedly upset.

“Maybe Mr. Healy can fill me in on what ethics violations occurred,” he told a reporter. "In all fairness here, Don Clemons hasn't been charged with anything. We have no authority in this area. I know [Healy] is desperate to latch onto something. He should first call his Republican friends because they control the U.S. attorney's office. Before he starts shooting his mouth off, he should call Kevin O'Connor, the Republican appointee. He'd get a quicker answer that way."

State Rep. Don Clemons, who is considering running for mayor of Bridgeport in November, was present in the summer of 2004 at a private meeting attended by former NBA basketball star Charles Smith and the notorious state Sen. Ernest Newton, now cooling his heels in prison for various offenses that Caruso found intolerable when they were committed by agents of former Republican Governor John Rowland.

At the meeting, then Sen.…

Dodd And The Right To Happiness

Campaigning for president in New Hampshire, Sen. Chris Dodd told a group of Concord high school students that anyone who would deny a gay child the right to be happy isn’t being honest.

According to an Associated Press report, Dodd said, “We ought to be able to have these loving relationships.” The father of two young daughters in a second marriage, Dodd speculated that his daughters could grow up to be lesbians: “They may grow up as a different sexual orientation than their parents. How would I want my child to be treated if they were of a different sexual orientation?”

According to the AP story, “Dodd, who opposed a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to man-woman unions, said he supports civil unions, but not gay marriage. Asked afterward what he sees as the difference, he said: ‘I don't think probably much in people's minds. If you're allowing that, all the protections you have there, you've covered it.’”

Dodd has here carved out a painful and potentially unhap…

An Enemy Of The People

Even after all these years, Dr. Stockman is still an enemy of the people.

Henrick Ibsen’s infrequently produced play, “An Enemy Of The People,” revolves around a doctor who discovers that his town’s huge bathing complex is irretrievably contaminated. Having alerted the town, he is visited by his brother, the town’s mayor, who tells him he must retract his statements. First of all, his brother does not believe him. But even if the doctor’s views were correct, his brother still would oppose him, because the economy of the town is tied into the baths; and, in any case, the repair of the sewerage system causing the possibly deadly contamination would be too expensive a project.

Convinced the people will back him, the doctor holds a town meeting and turns to the newspapers for support. When important people in the town attempt to prevent him from speaking, Dr. Stockman, losing all patience, lets loose a long tirade condemning both the founding of the town and the tyranny of the majority. Nat…

Obamagod!

My guess is that Barack Obama is a bit too modest to consider himself a Christ figure, but artist will be artists.

And over at “To Wit,” a blog run by professional blogger, journalist, radio commentator and ex-Hartford Courant religious writer Colin McEnroe, chocolateers will be chocolateers.

Nice to have all this attention paid to Christ so near to Easter.

Contra Colin

When Colin McEnroe condemns what he calls pedophilic priests – often -- Catholics should join in the condemnation, although they may quibble with the word “pedophilic” as it has been applied to Fr. Richard Foley on McEnroe’s blog “To Wit.” The clinical definition of pedophilia involves sexual relations with pre-pubescent children. Fr. Foley has been accused of having improper sexual relations with teenage boys; that would make him a predatory homosexual or a child abuser.

If McEnroe wants to condemn a church hierarchy that winked at the behavior of pedophiliac priests like Fr. John J. Geoghan of Boston and by so doing enabled that behavior, Catholics should send up a hearty cheer for McEnroe. Gehogan was convicted on a charge of molesting a 10 year old boy, though this was but the tip of his personal erotic iceberg. But it’s important to maintain proper distinctions even in condemning priests. Geoghan, murdered in jail by a homophobic prisoner, was a pedophiliac; Fr. Fr Paul Shanley, a…