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Showing posts from April, 2008

Why Connecticut Can’t Cut Spending

Capitol Watch,” a bog written by two Hartford Courant reporters, is reporting that “House Speaker James A. Amann's announcement that he will not seek re-election in November set off a scramble to climb the leadership ladder.”

Presumably House members vying for the position are less experienced than the present occupant of that office, James Amann, who has announced his intention to run for governor. Amann also is less experienced in the rigors of governing the state than the present occupant of that office, Gov. Jodi Rell.

No one from the Democrat camp has yet argued that Amann should not run for governor because in doing so he will be surrendering his office to novices who lack "experience on the job."

The notion that experienced legislators may never be replaced because the state will lose technical proficiency is an argument for reestablishing a monarchy and abolishing elections. This argument is trotted out whenever the word "term limits" are mentioned, and i…

Obama on Wright

Denouncing the nutty uncle in his closet, Barack Obama said in a recent news conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's statements that they ``offend me, they rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced and that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally today."

It must have been the reference to “garlic nosed Italians” that did it for Obama.

At some point -- later to be determined -- Obama figured it was time to throw the incubus overboard.

No one yet has asked Jesse Jackson, one of Obama's supporters and also a Reverend, whether he thinks Obama did the right thing.

April Quickies

Cindy Sheehan, who very early on adopted with respect to the war in Iraq a position espoused much later by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd and Barack Obama – war bad, Bush bad, troops out now – has decided to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to the authoritative San Francisco Chronicle. Ralph Nader popped up in Waterbury to regale the folk there with his shopworn message: Bush bad, Barack bad, McCain bad, corporations bad, Nader good. The people in Waterbury might have been satisfied if Nader, railing against incompetent bureaucrats, had aimed a few of his arrows at the boobs in state government who made it impossible to pass by Waterbury on route 84 in less than four hours. At his best, Nader sounds like Leon Trotsky on hashish crying out to the captains of industry “Get thee to a Gulag”; at his worst he sounds like former president Jimmy Carter, nominated by numerous political watchers as the worst president of the Twentieth century. Has it been that long since Jimmy fouled u…

Oversight? Come Again?

The Hartford Courant did not report on Pope Benedict’s mass at Yankee Stadium on the Monday following the mass, and some readers noticed the non-report, according to the paper’s ombudsman Karen Hunter.

“One reader said, ‘Shame on The Hartford Courant. The only newspaper in the country that opted to put something about the priest and had nothing about the pope's visit yesterday. I'd like to know who is responsible. As far as I'm concerned, I am going to write a letter to the editor. I'm going to write a letter to several other newspapers. And I say, I would love to know who was in charge of not putting one . . . go on the Internet see the front pages of all the other newspapers in the country. Shame on The Hartford Courant.’"

“A North Branford reader said, ‘I can not believe that I pick up The Courant and there's nothing about the pope. Not only is he a religious leader, he's a head of state. I can't comprehend that your paper did this. . . . People above…

Quislings

The state legislature, dominated by Democrats and Quisling Republicans, has defaulted twice in one session. Outgoing Speaker of the House Jim Amann, announced today that the legislature will default to its previous budget; this means, at a minimum, that there will be no cuts in spending as the recession rolls over us.

The legislature also defaulted on the three strikes and you’re out bill, reverting to its usual practice of using every salient by Republicans to increase spending. The new measure – unlike the rejected proposal that would have required judges to sentence to life in prison felons previously convicted of two violent crimes -- does not compromise judicial discretion in the 270 cases cited by co-chairman of the legislature's judiciary committee Mike Lawlor as falling within the parameters of the “three strikes and you’re out” law.

As previously noted in this space, there is no reason why the “three strikes and you’re out” provision could not have been combined in a single…

Obama The Good Old Boy’s Good Old Boy

From Barack Obama’s campaign literature, one could not doubt that the presumptive Democrat nominee for president is still transcendently clean. But leaks are beginning to appear in the propaganda boat. Very few people familiar with Chicago politics and the old Cook County political machine are surprised by recent revelations. "Recent” revelations means that some of the information is slowly dribbling down from sources unfriendly to Obama in the direction of such Obama-friendly outposts as The New York Times, CNN and other Big Media whose editorial page editors and political commentators appearto be as stricken with the guy as "Obama Girl."

The current issue of National Review magazine is packed with them. Here is the lead to the cover story, “The Obama Way” by Fred Siegel: “Barack Obama exaggerates, embellishes, engages in double-talk, overstates, systematically deceives, and presents lies as metaphorical truths. All of this is unappealing, but also unexceptional. What m…

Amann Bows Out

Jim Amann, the Speaker of Connecticut’s House of Representatives, has announced that he is surrendering his position, very likely to Majority Leader Chris Donovan, though others are vying for the position.

Before he was elected to his leadership position, Donovan served as House Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. A key sponsor of health care reform, he has worked strenuously to create a system of universal health care in Connecticut.

The insurance pool bill – which ought to be named after Bill Curry who as state Comptroller suggested the measure in 1991 – glided through the House on a party line vote shortly after Amann threw in the towel. Gathering votes for its passage was Donovan, who said “What's not to like about it? Its time has come.”

According to his legislative biography, Donovan “is a labor representative with the Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges and teaches part-time at the University of Hartford. Rep. Donovan formerly worked for the Connecticut C…

The Disappearing Act: Going, going...

Whatever you tax – and excessive regulation may also be viewed as a tax, since it forces companies to shell out money that might better be spent elsewhere – disappears, including, in the long run, revenues collected by the tax.

This is what is happening in Connecticut. Taxpayers and taxed companies are disappearing. The current budget is about $16 billion, slouching towards $18 billion; that’s more than twice the bottom line figure of the last pre-income tax budget.

Some of us are old enough to remember fondly the days of Democrat governors who were able, usually by threatening to burn down the houses of Democrat legislative leaders, to control the ravenous appetite for spending that always threatens to burst budget envelopes.

They are long gone.

High taxes have forced companies in Connecticut that cannot absorb the usual raid on profits to move elsewhere in search of lower labor costs, lower taxes and less entangling regulation.

During the terms of the last three governors, two of them Re…

The Two Wars

There are two wars in Iraq: the real war, reported most accurately on such sites as The Long War Journal; and the imaginative war that leers at us from the campaign literature of partisans and their cheerleaders in the media, most of whom are uniformly a’gin it.

The trouble with the latter war is that the real war is not likely to conform to campaign demonization after the campaign is over and someone other than President George Bush is hoisted into office.

Will that president be, quite literally, hoisted by his own petard?

The Best Paragraph Of The Pre-General Election Campaign Season

Victor Davis Hanson has a way with concision.

“Let me get this straight: Populist and racial healer Barack Obama, in impromptu remarks to zillionaires in Marin County, "explains" to them the rural sociology of Middle America. In anthropological fashion, he warns of their peculiar customs, so, that armed with such brilliant Obamian insight, his campaign workers can approach and win over the natives, who cling to guns, go to church, hate ("antipathy") those who seem different, and scapegoat the other ("anti-immigrant" and "anti-trade"). And all of this is published on the pro-Obama Huffington Post—perhaps because its radically egalitarian editor, Arianna Huffington, is off on David Geffen's 454-foot mega-yacht, cruising the shores of Tahiti.”

LOSS OF FREEDOM IS THE COST OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

Freedom of speech is not going away in the United States of America . It’s gone -- Ben Stein.

If you enjoy diaries and are unfamiliar with Ben Stein’s, you will find it in The American Spectator, monthly. Bright, light, and fun—but not the latest, which he entitles “Outraged Sadness.” It is in the April issue.

Stein is an actor, writer, lawyer, and son of esteemed economist Herb Stein. He and his make-up artist were chatting while he waited for his turn before the camera. He told a joke in which Barack Obama figured. Unbeknownst to them, someone was taping them. Next day he was summoned to the front office. The executives were scandalized at his “racism.” A fighter against racism even from childhood, he was outraged.

“Can’t talk about that.” There are already many things we no longer are free to talk about. Examples:

Stein gives the example of Global Warming. “The debate is over. The issue is settled.” Gore gave the message to the eager media. The media passed the message…

Sunday Morning Blues

Although bitter – because Connecticut is no longer an economic powerhouse -- Jonathan Pelto, Democrat wunderkind, has not yet moved out of state to, say, South Carolina, where low taxes and rational government have caused many Connecticut companies and former taxpayers to move south.

Actually, what Pelto is not telling us is that Connecticut has lost its economic prominence because the taxes and regulations that Pelto so often has supported finally has emptied the cupboard. There is but one jar of peanut butter left in this bare ruined house – millionaires – and Democrats are anxious to wolf it down. The increase in Connecticut’s budget – from a modest $7.5 billion in the pre income tax glory days of the late departed Bill O’Neill to around (What’s a billion or two among friends?) 16 billion today – certainly has not kept pace with the increase of Pelto’s salary, wherefore he is bitter.

Pelto worked like a demon to push all that money through the pipeline that connects the state budge…

How Democrats Killed The Ethics Bill

There were, of course, obstacles to be overcome. For obvious reasons, it was impossible to vote down the ethics legislation.

Ever since the prison door clanged shut on former Governor John Rowland, Democrats had been clamoring, as had Republicans, for ethics reform. Historically, both parties had ventured too far out on the issue to vote down necessary reforms.

The reform bill approved by the senate answered all the problems that had arisen since Rowland’s imprisonment, a blot on the escutcheon of the Republican Party that Democrats easily could exploit in campaign literature.

The bill that Amann would not permit to come to a vote would have:

1) Revoked pensions for elected officials and state and municipal employees convicted of a crime related to their employment.

2) Made the failure of reporting a bribe a class A Misdemeanor if the public servant witnessed the offer.

3) Prevented chiefs of staff in the Capitol from soliciting campaign contributions from staff members for state of municip…

McCain, Lieberman Eaten By Liberal Cannibals Oberman, Fineman

Liberal cannibals are after Sen. Joe Lieberman… again...

Colin McEnroe has suggested on his blog “To Wit” that Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. John McCain have entered into a homo-erotic relationship.

On his blog, “What He Did For Love,” McEnroe wrote about the two: “You could probably substitute the word ‘strip’ for ‘star’ in this headline ["Lieberman willing to star at Republican convention"] and not be inaccurate. Actually, you could probably substitute a lot of words. And no, I am not inviting you to try in the comment field.

“Still, there must be a little wistfulness on Larry Craig's part when he looks over there and murmurs to himself, ‘All I really want is what John and Joe have.’”

Craig, it will be remembered, is the senator from Idaho with the wide stance who was caught in a compromising position by the vice squad in a men’s room. It has been suggested, gently, that he has gay tendencies.

Former sports reporter Keith Oberman on his show "Countdown," tried to …

Wiggles, Hillary And Obama

At some time in the future, it is not impossible to imagine a fresh faced, third year college student, perhaps studying rhetoric – if only they will bring it back as a course of study in colleges – laboring over a thesis that has as its center piece the recent so called “debate” between Democrat presidential candidates senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The paper might be called “A comparative Study in Wiggles.”

Concerning her “sniper under fire” remarks, Clinton said, “On a couple of occasions in the past week, I said some things I knew weren’t the case. I’m embarrassed by it. I’ve apologized for it.”

Not too much wiggle room there: “I said some things I knew weren’t the case” means, to put it in the vernacular, “I lied,” or more tenderly, to borrow a phrase from Huck Finn talking about Mark Twain, I told “a stretcher.”

Here is Obama on his “bitter” statement: “I think there’s no doubt that I can see how people were offended. It’s not the first time that I’ve made … a statement t…

Ethics, Retroactivity and Amann

Retroactivity in the ethics bill may be out of sight – It did not play a part in the bills offered for consideration to the legislature – but it definitely is not out of mind. Speaker of the House Jim Amann, who has indicated he might want to run for governor on the Democrat ticket, says he has no problem with retroactivity, “and I'm surprised with some people in that building who do.”

The people who have surprised Amann probably are addicted to the rule of law, which holds a man cannot be guilty of breaking a law that did not exist when action for which he is being retroactively punished was committed.

A refresher course in the political thought of the founders might budge him from his astounding misinterpretation of the rule of law that undergirds all Western laws. In "Alice In Wonderland," the Queen of Hearts is seen to be no respecter of the rule of law: “First the verdict,” she cries, “then the trial.”

Amann dispenses even with the trial and finds men guilty retrospect…

A Self Interview On The Ethics Reform Bill

Q: Some newspapers have said that the view of the general public on ethics reform borders on insurrection. Is this owing to the inability of the present regime to reform itself?

A: The short answer is “yes.” The general public is frustrated and angry. And we all know where that leads. Pretty soon, everyone will be turning to religion as a means of abating their anger. Tell you the truth though; a few prayers might be in order. There’s always the possibility that God is still listening to us.

Q: But seriously now…

A (Big sigh) I’m inclined to adapt a phrase from one of Hitler’s enforcers and say that when ever I hear the word “reform,” I reach for my Lugar.”

Q: But seriously now…

A: Look, the best ethics reform is term limits. With term limits, at least we can be certain that the same crooks are not plundering the public till.

Q: Are you finished now? Got it all out? I want to have a serious discussion about the new ethics reform bill. The legislature appears to be having a bit of a probl…

Lights! We don't need no stinken lights!

“Whether consumers weary of high energy prices might agree depends on whether New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine allow alternatives that can take the place of Broadwater Energy's plan for the Sound.”

So says the authoritorial Hartford Courant a day after Gov. Jodi Rell and Connecticut’s battle weary Attorney General Richard Blumenthal broke out the bubbly; the two were celebrating the demise of Broadwater, the offshore natural gas terminal that had been nixed by New York Governor David Paterson.

It turns out, according to the most recent Courant report, that “without their project in place, households and businesses in Connecticut can expect electricity and natural gas prices to climb. Demand for natural gas, especially by power plants, continues to grow and the region has a limited number of pipelines to get gas into the state.

“The other liquefied natural gas terminals proposed, in locations in Delaware and New Brunswick, Canada, will do little for Connecticut, Broadwater officia…

Clinton Campaign Fodder

Someone from National Review – Could it have been the late departed and much missed Bill Buckley? – once said that discussions in college were so intense because they were “about nothing.”

The recent flapdoodle concerning Barrack Obama’s remarks on anger in small town Pennsylvania is much ado about nothing.

Here is the lead on the story from Reuters: “TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama came under fire on Friday for saying small-town Pennsylvania residents were ‘bitter’ and ‘cling to guns or religion,’ in comments his rivals said showed an elitist view of the middle class.”

It did not help that Obama made his remarks about Pennsylvania at a toney fund raiser in, of all places, San Francisco.

But at least the remarks were not the canned soup one has come to expect of politicians trolling for votes. Following Obama’s remarks, Hillary Clinton let loose a barrage of limp overcooked rhetorical spaghetti: She thought the remarks were condescending.…

The Annual Pesci Prize Awarded to Cohen

The Pesci Prize for distinguished commentary, awarded in lieu of the Pulitzer Prize, this year has been bestowed on Laurence Cohen for his entrée “A Spell Is Broken.”

Mr. Cohen writes a regular column for the Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s state-wide left-leaning daily. The award committee has not been able to determine whether Mr. Cohen, once associated with the Yankee Institute, actually is on the staff of the paper, now owned by the mercurial Sam Zell, a real estate magnate who lately has threatened to make the paper profitable.

Mr. Cohen’s winning column is reprinted below. Don Pesci, commenting on the entrée, said, “Cohen is always good for what ails'ya, but this one is a rib tickler. Many of us can’t understand why Zell doesn’t let Cohen write the whole dammed paper.”

There were no runner-ups.



A Spell Is Broken
Laurence Cohen

April 11, 2008

What was the likelihood that the Connecticut General Assembly was going to pass up the opportunity to forgive women accused of being witches…

The Age Of Planned Atrocity

“Here in the U.S.,” writes Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal, “our politics has spent much of the year unable to vote into law the wiretap bill, which is bogged down, incredibly, over giving retrospective legal immunity to telecom companies that helped the government monitor calls originating overseas. Even granting there are Fourth Amendment issues in play here, how is it that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cannot at least say that class-action lawsuits against these companies are simply wrong right now?”

Henninger is concerned that our politics, which seems to go forward in a time warp, will not be able to adjust to the modern reality in which several British citizens plotted to blow up seven air lines carrying American passengers. The seven are on trial in Britain.

“Philip Bobbitt,” Henninger writes, “author of the just released and thought-provoking book, 'Terror and Consent,' has written that court warrants are 'a useful standard for surve…

The Revolution Next Time

In a rational universe Chester’s First Selectman Tom Marsh’s idea might be bruited about in the state legislature; it certainly would not be rejected out of hand.

Mr. Marsh fresh from a recent conversation with Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, wants Connecticut to know that for the past year he has been promoting “a policy that allows towns to keep a portion of the sales and income tax that is generated.”

An earlier idea promoted by several of Connecticut’s mayors, that selected big cities should be permitted to levy sales taxes, is the wrong idea, in Marsh’s view, because it would encourage the flight of capital from city to suburb.

After being told by Williams that there was no magic money tree in the basement of the Capitol building from which dollars could be plucked and given to the towns, Marsh, David facing Goliath, slung his proposal at Williams, writing later in an letter to a newspaper that it was his idea to shift to towns “control of a portion of the tax revenue” fro…

A Charitable Hillary Fires Penn

According to recently released tax information, the former First Couple earned $109 million over the past eight years, a tidy sum that puts them among the top .01% of taxpayers. The Wall Street Journal reminds us that, with the Clinton’s, charity begins at home.

“Meanwhile, the Clintons also made liberal use of the charitable deduction, claiming $10.2 million in charitable giving over the eight years. Intriguingly, nearly all the donations went to the Clinton Family Foundation, which has disbursed only half the money. The Clintons can thus use the foundation for, er, strategic giving, such as the $100,000 it donated last year to a local South Carolina library – the day after Mrs. Clinton debated in that key primary state. There are other examples of such politically targeted philanthropy, and it's worth noting that most of the foundation's disbursements came only after Mrs. Clinton announced her Presidential run.”

Mark Penn, pollster in chief of the Clinton campaign, has been sh…

Why A Three Strikes And You’re Out Law Should Be Adopted

The three strikes and you’re out proposal has been strangled in the crib by the usual suspects.

The proposal is now in the process of being reconfigured. The reconfiguring will be costly.

The original proposal would have prevented judges from using their discretion in sentencing criminals already convicted of three serious violent felonies. Upon commission of a third felony, the presiding judge would be obliged to remand the criminals to prison for life.

That is the nub and center of the three strikes and you’re out proposal.

The proposal was introduced after a horrific murder in Cheshire. Two petty criminals who had been processed under Connecticut’s present liberal court system, upon release from jail, graduated to serious felonies. They followed the mother of a family home, broke into her house, beat her husband with a baseball bat, tied him up in the cellar, drove the mother to her bank where she was forced to withdraw money, raped the mother, raped one of the daughters, bound all thr…

Pick Up The Phone

When the phone is ringing in the White House at 3:00AM, you want to be sure to answer it.

The caller may be Indonesian moneybags Mochtar Riady.

An examination by the Washington Times of Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s recently released 11,046 pages of White House activity calendars in response to a freedom of information request by Judicial Watch shows, according to the Times’ report, “ that Mr. Riady and his wife were among nine people who sat with Mrs. Clinton at the head table. His name is listed next to the notation, ‘**giving large donation**.’”

Five days after the dinner, Mr. Riady wrote a four page letter to President Bill Clinton calling for an end to a 30-year trade embargo with Vietnam. Mr. Riady was developing extensive business relationships with Vietnam at the time.

“By that time,” the paper reported, “Mr. Riady's banking conglomerate, the $12 billion Indonesia-based Lippo Group, its subsidiaries and its employees, including his son James and executive J…

The price of Comity: $15 Billion and Rising

Democrats have controlled the state legislature roughly since the Jurassic Period, while Republicans have had a lock on the governor’s office for the last three terms. This arrangement has benefited two Republican governors, John Roland and Jodi Rell, as well as state legislators, the preponderance of whom are Democrats.

The arrangement also helped former Governor Lowell Weicker, who left the Republican Party to run as an independent governor, in his battle to shove an income tax down the gullet of Connecticut tax payers. Weicker, it will be remembered, won office after having said that establishing an income tax would be like pouring gas on a fire.

Voters of average intelligence supposed at the time that Weicker was averse to the income tax that had been the central pillar of Bill Cibes’ gubernatorial campaign. As it turned out, Connecticut got Weicker, the income tax and Cibes, whom Weicker installed as his Office of Policy Management chief – not, it should be noted, to put out fires.