Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dodd’s Prospects, The Coming Kakistocracy

There appears to be a lot of chatter among conservatives concerning Sen. Chris Dodd’s prospects for re-election. Most of them want a badly wounded Dodd to run for re-election. Independent voters, many of whom in Connecticut may be disgruntled Democrats, do not appear to be enchanted with Dodd’s re-election.

Among what is amusingly thought of as the Democratic “base,” there are many activist bloggers who rather hope Dodd will see the light and step aside so that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, their designated replacement, may fill the senator’s large shoes, thus preserving the seat for those who frequently visit such sites as MyLeftNutmeg, a leftist commentariate watering hole. Dodd has made strenuous efforts to get on the right side of the left-most corner of the Democratic political barracks through targeted video opportunities.

What are his prospects for re-election? Certainly they are not as bright as they were several years ago, when Republicans in the state were scouring the countryside to find a sacrificial lamb to run against Dodd.

No fewer than four Republicans now have thrown their hats in the ring. Former state Rep. Rob Simmons, who lost his seat to present Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney by a handful of uncontested votes, is panting at the starting line, as are Sam Caliguiri, a state Rep. and Waterbury’s Republican deliverer; Peter Schiff a prescient economist and Ron Paul acolyte who predicted the recession now upon us; and World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, whose pockets are so deep she may be able to self-finance her entire campaign. The riff against McMahon and Shiff is that they are indifferent Republicans, drawn into the fray by Dodd’s Gibraltar sized Achilles heel.

Recently, Dodd was given a pep pill by the senate ethics committee, which found that their colleague received no extraordinary benefits from Countrywide’s CEO Angelo Mozilo.

But, according to a recent the Wall Street Journal article: “The discovery that Countrywide Financial Corp. recorded phone conversations with borrowers in a controversial mortgage program that included public officials -- and that those recordings have been destroyed -- has prompted new congressional calls for more information about the program.”

And Michael Moore a winner of the prestigious Palm D'Or award at the Cannes film festival for best documentary, is breathing down Dodd’s neck in his soon to be released philippic against capitalism. Moore’s new film “Capitalism, A Love Story,” includes an interview with Robert Feinberg, the middle man between the Countrywide CEO Mozillo and Dodd, a designated “Friend of Angelo.”

It’s rather lucky for Dodd that the tapes have been destroyed. And we all thought Rose Mary Woods, the super-efficient secretary to former President Richard Nixon who “accidentally” erased part of an incriminating tape during the Watergate imbroglio, was dead. In the beltway, her soul goes marching on.

Add to all this the alluring Blumenthal, whose record as attorney general has not been closely examined by an enraptured media, and you have a possible upset in the making.

Dodd, over the past few months, has been attempting to repair the yawning breech between himself and Connecticut voters by courting the far left in his party and throwing succulent bone after bone to a general public that, like Moore, revels in the well deserved public whippings of morally deracinated CEOs.

Blumenthal does this sort of thing with more panache than Dodd, but Dodd is fast appropriating Blumenthal’s successful methodology: Set up a straw demon – gluttonous insurance executives will do very well, thank you – and use your resources in the media to demonize them. Do not fear that the public whippings will drive the louts from your door. Just the opposite: Beaten and over-regulated CEOs will happily contribute to your campaign for the pleasure of a seat at the regulation table. Like gluttonous congressmen, the CEOs of businesses too big to fail are on good terms with regulation, because it helps them to drive out of business the sort of blue collar people that Dodd and Moore and Blumenthal daily weep over, while at the same time hauling in the cash.

Someday, the media will figure the whole thing out. But that threatining eventuality lies far in the future. In the meanwhile, what used to be called a “politically virtuous” public is in retreat. Political virtue, as had been pointed out numberless times, is a principle of action, fatally compromised when a putative omni-competent government makes people irresponsible by arrogating all responsibility to itself.

The richer the government, the poorer the people; the more competent the government, the more incompetent the people. Karl Marx, who used to write for the New York Daily Tribune, understood the principle involved. A bad economist but a prescient sociologist and a masterful journalist, he was not wrong about the relationship between government and the people. Fascism and the kind of communism practiced by Lenin and Stalin was a form of monarchism from below – a kakistocracy, which is "rule by the worst" -- as in Venezuela, now under the thumb of Hugo Chavez, Michael Moore’s beau ideal of a statesman.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Skin Of Dodd’s Teeth

The Wall Street Journal is reporting: “The discovery that Countrywide Financial Corp. recorded phone conversations with borrowers in a controversial mortgage program that included public officials -- and that those recordings have been destroyed -- has prompted new congressional calls for more information about the program.”

Just wait till Dodd’s Republican assassins hear about this.

The Importance Of Being Transparent

Someday -- hopefully soon -- transparency will come to Connecticut, and it will change the whole political landscape. Transparency opens government of any kind – state, municipal and federal – to as many people as are affected by political transactions, which is to say all citizens of the state.

The concept is shockingly simple: Put on the internet all governmental transactions, including pricing, and the flow of information will be enhanced between the government and the people, the government and its vendors, the government and intergovernmental agencies and the government and the media. It is crucial to require that no legislation shall be passed until five days have elapsed after the posting. In this way, any possible disadvantages in bills may be corrected though input provided by watchful citizens.

It is often said that the media is our public watchdog, which is true enough. But transparency turns every citizen who has access to a computer into a public watchdog.

There are three kinds of transparency: opaque transparency, semi-transparent transparency, and transparent transparency. The opaque version is simply pretense at true participatory democracy; the semi- transparent kind creates the illusion of transparency; and then there is the genuine article.

The key to transparency is that all governmental functions should be included in the mix. Would that include teacher contracts or contracts between towns and any vendor that accepts tax money from the state or municipalities?

It would. “All” means all.

Florida is a true transparent state. According to Florida records, House Bill 971, passed in March of this year “requires the posting of ALL expenditures, regardless of amount, and now requires the posting of all salaries, revenues and agency indebtedness.” The bill “provides access to up-to-date information on state government revenues and expenditures through a single searchable website, accessible on” The website includes information “on the date, amount, and source of each expenditure, affording Floridians an unprecedented level of access to information on government spending.” The bill also establishes “a process for integrating information on local government revenues and expenditures into the Transparency Florida site.”

Apart from providing important information to citizens that permits them to rate the effectiveness and necessity of bills and contracts, such open government sites present advantages to state and municipal governments as well. Public information of this kind serves as advertisements for out of state vendors who may be able to provide lower cost materials and services to state and town governments. And the streaming of information into one site, provided with a search engine that can find the answer to any query, makes the business of government simpler and less intimidating.

The Florida bill passed with overwhelming public support, which is not to say that it had the support of what one might call the “permanent government,” status quo politicians and their hangers on in municipal and state government. The press – or what is left of it – supported the idea because the media generally believes that exposure is cleansing.

To push through the idea in hidebound Connecticut would require some support among good government types not particularly attached to any specific political party, the media and politicians who believe in transparency for the right reason. Transparency is important because it opens information floodgates that adjust and correct the political messages of backroom politicians who depend upon secrecy and closed door politics to advance their narrow interests over the interests of the general public.

The idea, revolutionary in its simplicity, simply needs a push. In Florida, it proved to be a winning campaign issue for politicians previously unable to break the incumbent glass ceiling that prevents good men and women with good government ideas from winning seats in the legislature, municipal governments and gubernatorial offices.

Once established, it opened a window on the political world for a whole host of people who subsequently shed their apathy and became involved in government. The only losers were a few nay-sayers who surrendered their positions to candidates for office who argued that secrecy distorts democracy and is the enemy of a government unafraid to include the people in their deliberations. Thomas Jefferson’s notion that a democracy is that form of government in which governors fear the people was quoted, as well as its corollary: that in a monarchy, people fear the government.

Should some enterprising politician fashion a like bill for Connecticut, it will be vigorously and underhandedly opposed.

The opposition will be defeated.

Monday, September 28, 2009


“What the three [Madison, Hamilton, Jay] did not know, could not know, was that the right to have the Constitution ratified would . . . rival any that would follow in the history of the country” -- Triumvirate, p. 38

The Articles of Confederation were a failure. They needed not to be improved but wholly rewritten. The Constitution was the best form of government ever offered to the world. But to get it ratified, nine of the 13 states were needed.

Madison, Hamilton, and Jay started writing essays, all under the name of Publius, (with widespread support from the biased newspapers). How they got started, was not revealed in the mass of letters available to author Bruce Chadwick for his new book, “Triumverate” (Naperville, IL, Sourcebooks, 2009).

Fears by Anti-Federalists and Federalists were intense. If the Constitution were not ratified, what would become of the states that voted against it? Anarchy? Like a ship without a rudder or pilot.

The chief obstacle was the need for a Bill of Rights. Madison and all the Federalists were adamantly against it, believing the rights were already in the Constitution (which Madison had written). Thus, the Constitution divided authority between the Federal government and states; the Federal government was divided into three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial. The legislators—the Triumvirate believed—were responsible. The people themselves would not allow them to be otherwise.

The Anti-Federalists, not satisfied with assurances from the elitists in their New York City mansions, wanted to be sure that rights not specifically granted to the Federal government were reserved for the states. Though they trusted George Washington, who was expected to become the first president, future presidents might be oppressive.

In Virginia, anti-Federalist Patrick Henry argued the Federal government might deny people their rights and might even torture them. Colleague George Mason asserted that the Federal government would become corrupt. Anti-Federalists wanted a full Bill of Rights, as did Jefferson who was abroad. Madison and the Federalists asserted that the Federal legislature would be made up of reliable men who would not abuse the people, and a Bill of Rights could be added later. The Antis feared that a strong Federal government might refuse. Ben Franklin supposed that “The first Congress will probably mend the faults of the Constitution and future Congresses the rest.”

The Federalists argued that a strong national defense is needed if England were again to attack, if radical leaders in France could find some ancient document giving them rights in the states and Canada and launch an attack, or if a foreign power (like Spain) could shut down commerce on the Mississippi River.

The Federalists maintained that a House and Senate, strong through checks and balances, would prevent problems, not promote factions. Antis complained that the president and Senate would be too powerful. Madison’s father agreed, warning that the president could become a tyrant like King George III.

James O. Wilson of Pennsylvania argued that the wisdom of the people would overcome the failings of some political leaders. The people would determine who would rise to the top. Those selected would succeed because they had the support of the people. George Washington thought so too. Behind the scenes he worked continuously with Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, writing letters with persuasive arguments to everybody who wrote to him.

Finally, nine states did ratify the Constitution, by very thin margins. Madison, in a conciliatory gesture, then promised a Bill of Rights (and drafted it).

What of their fears and assumptions about the Constitution, 230 years later? Retired constitutional law instructor Michael Connelly examined health-care House bill HR3200 for effects on our Constitution. “I was frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law might be unconstitutional,” he has written. “What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected.” (ttp://

“[I]t is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or even been contemplated.

“If this law or a similar one is adopted, major portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been destroyed.

“The first thing to go will be the masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the U.S. Government. The Congress will be transferring to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over the lives of the American people and the businesses they own. The irony is that the Congress doesn’t have any authority to legislate in most of those areas to begin with.”

Lost is the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, which covers your personal healthcare information, personal financial information, information of your employer, physician, and hospital. “[T]he right to privacy … [is] legislated into oblivion regardless of what the 3rd and 4th Amendments may provide. If you decide not to have healthcare insurance . . . there will be a tax imposed on you” depriving you “of property without due process of law” contrary to the 5th Amendment.

The 9th Amendment says rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. In the 10th Amendment, “powers not delegated to the U.S. nor prohibited by it to the States are preserved to the States or to the people.”

Concludes Connelly, “This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights. . . .”

By Natalie Sirkin


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Daffy Khadafy At The UN, New Yorker Reviews

Colonel Moammar Khadafy of Libya, the Michael Jackson of dictators, brought along his own translator to regal members of the United Nations. Khadafy rambled on about 75 minutes, got caught in a labyrinth of ideas, and when he left the podium, there was not an open eye in the place.

His Arabic translator threw in the towel 45 minutes into Khadafy’s address, according to the New York Post.

"’I just can’t take it any more,’ Khadafy’s interpreter shouted into the live microphone – in Arabic,” before skipping school.

New Yorkers were unimpressed, but this, the home of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, is a hard audience.

Bubba75 asked, “Can you imagine the stench associated with this buzzard? I wonder how many baths he has taken in his life. Thank God I am not captive to any UN session. This has to be the greatest collection of murderers, liars and thieves ever assembled under roof. Is there any way this place can be relocated? Let me suggest Siberia or the Sahara Desert.”

Fat Clemenza thought, “Kadahfy looks like a monkey sipping vinegar from a straw.”

RockyJim expressed his gratitude to the Post: “I'm grateful for this report. I spent 96 minutes of my life out of curiosity trying to listen to what this man had to say. I was so frustrated wondering how on Earth the UN, which I understood had the world's best translators, could allow such a turkey on the payroll. But it's astonishing he was Colonel Q's own guy -- wonder if he makes it to the weekend alive.”

Probably not.

Carly Simon seems to have summed nicely up the ethos at Babel in the Big Apple:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pratt’s Bye Bye

Pratt&Whitney is moving some of its operations out of Connecticut because it is more cost effective for the parent company, United Technologies, to have the work done elsewhere, in this case in Georgia, Singapore and Japan.

A far flung enterprise, UTC also has a research facility in China. The bad news is that China is now selling to Iran products that may, over the course of time, enable it to blow up Israel . Iran -- whose undemocratically installed president, Mahmoud Amadinijad, is busy making new and improved explosive devises that blow up American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan -- used to be considered part of the axis of evil; now it is simply yet another member in good standing at the ineptly named United Nations.

The good news is that Georgia is in the United States . There is another Georgia , formerly a satellite of the Soviet Union , that has been attempting, without much aid and succor from president of the United States Barack Obama, to fend off the grasping Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin and his gang of ex-KGB agents.

If Pratt&Whitney’s business relationship with China has ever caused a rough night’s sleep to any member of Connecticut’s wall-to-wall Democratic congressional delegation, the discomfort is not obvious from any of their press releases.

Both the state of Connecticut and union representatives at the company offered what might be called reparations, inducements for the company to continue to do business in Connecticut . Those offers fell short, the company said. And yet those who offered the tax reduction incentives doffed their hats to an important economic principle: Whatever you tax tends to disappear, including large companies like UTC and smaller companies that do not have governors and political leaders tripping over each other to provide them with tax benefits.

There were discussions between figure crunchers on both sides. The state and the union leadership no doubt felt they had made a substantial offer. But the company, reading the fine print, decided that the offer would not save UTC enough money in sustainable future costs to warrant staying in Connecticut . The Obama administration has not yet nationalized Pratt&Whitney, so the negotiators who wanted to save Connecticut ’s jobs had little leverage. It is, after all, still a free country, in part. Some consider it a hopeful sign that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is contemplating a suit intended to force the company from closing operations in Connecticut .

Others see the writing on the wall and will interpret such interventions as yet another reason to move to Georgia .

UTC’s decision to relocate operations to save costs, which appears to be final, has been attributed, by some members of Connecticut’s wall-to-wall Democratic US congressional delegation, to company greed and a lack of local patriotism. It is a pleasing fantasy to supposed that had Harry Grey retained the helm as CEO of UTC, the company would not have disappointed Gov. Jodi Rell, Speaker of the state House Chris Dovovan, President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams, U.S. Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro, and U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman by moving to areas where the cost of labor is less punishing and the political climate more favorable to Connecticut based companies both old and new.

Is it not within the realm of possibility that when Donovan and Williams were urging upon the legislature a budget raising corporation taxes a whopping 30%, some of the decision makers at UTC were taking notes? One must assume newspapers are still read in the Gold Building .

The legislature and the governor this fiscal year have patched a $2.5 billion hole in the budget with the equivalent of chewing gum: rainy day fund money, temporary revenue enhancers, and a progressive income tax fathered by Donovan and Williams. The budget is light on spending decreases. Unions were able to prevail on the governor and Democratic legislators to keep union give-backs to a minimum. Perhaps union leaders negotiating with UTC thought they were deliberating with Donovan, a former union chief himself.

The negotiations didn’t work because the CEO of UTC knows that if he does not find a way to cut costs, the company will not be able to compete with other businesses that provide similar products and services. Luckily for everyone but taxpayers and workers who in the future will find fewer jobs in the state, Connecticut -- thanks to the intervention of Donovan, Williams and Blumenthal -- is a non-competitive operation.

The state, now on crutches and hobbling towards an uncertain future, will remain non-competitive for as long as it does not cut spending.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rell Hornswoggled

 It was abundantly clear, even before Hartford Courant investigative reporter Jon Lender began rummaging through Gov. Jodi Rell’s e-mails, that the lady had been hornswoggled by Democratic legislative leaders DonWilliams, President Pro Tem of the Senate, and Chris Donovan, Speaker of the state House and former union leader. The hornswoggling was done mostly for the benefit of incumbent Democrats and their union connected followers, who run the Democratic politicians on a short leash.

In the long run, those who will lose most from the hornswoggling will be employees not hired by businesses that will decline to move to Connecticut, and low caliber home grown businesses that will move out of state. High caliber businesses – Pratt&Whitney comes to mind -- will bribe timorous legislators and acquire temporary tax relief at the expense of small businesses yet hanging on by their bloody fingernails. Young people will continue to flee our tax drenched state in favor of sunny skies elsewhere. This is a partial list of the losers. Ultimately, everyone goes down on a sinking ship.

In his “Government Watch” column, Lender noted that two lawyers from Rell’s own administration had warned the governor, two days before she was similarly admonished by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, that she could not use her line item veto unless she signed the pork infested, tax heavy William-Donovan-Rell budget.

Despite these warnings, Lender noted, Rell preened before the cameras that she had intended to exercise her line item veto, until she was advised by Blumenthal – no stranger to preening in Lender’s paper – that she could not use the veto without having signed the budget.

Lender, and most Democrats on the planet, now suppose that Rell was – Gasp! – “posing before the cameras,” not considered an occupational hazard when poseur Blumenthal does it repeatedly and with shameless panache.

Pray tell, were Donovan and Williams “preening,” just a tad, when they first proposed a budget that relied almost exclusively on raising taxes to cover what they said was a $3 billion hole in the budget bucket?

The budget Williams and Donovan finally accepted, months after the fiscal year had ended, was one that raised taxes $1.5 billion, though it did contain their beloved progressive tax rate increase -- which the two may now raise, progressively of course, to cover future budget holes and drive hopeful entrepreneurs into the arms of states that have no income tax, progressive or otherwise.

But surely the two could have started their negotiations with Rell by proposing the more modest figure.

Was this an example of what Lender considers “posing before the cameras?”

Lender, and the whole bevy of liberal commentators in Connecticut, missed the hornswoggling because no e-mails were exchanged between Rell and the two hornswogglers, Williams and Donovan, when the three met together, in the absence of Republican leaders, secretly to “discuss” the budget.

In fact, no Courant reporters or editorial writers even noted the secret  negotiations between Donovan, Rell and Williams as a looming problem; this despite the fact that reporters, commentators and editorial writers tend towards apoplexy when anyone draws the curtain on important political discussions.

In concentrating selectively on the preening, we may be missing the big picture.

This is the big picture: Connecticut, like Massachusetts, politically is becoming a one horse town. And it may expect to reap all the attendant evils of a command economy. We know what they are: a servile, phantom chasing media in the camp of the victors; a moderate compromised and emasculated minor party opposition; a weak executive who dances to the tunes of a permanent shadow government; budgets and laws designed to appease entrenched politically well connected solicitors; high taxes on wealth producers; an anemic business sector and an emphasis on governmental solutions to market problems.

Rell talked the right talk, even though she failed to walk the right walk. And in this regard she is miles ahead of the Democrats.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Hotel With A Conscience

The Helmsley Hotel in New York has told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the murderer of Neda need not apply there. If you’re in New York, you may want to drop by and pay your compliments to a hotel with conscience.

"As soon as Helmsley corporate management learned of the possibility of either the Iranian Mission or President Ahmadinejad holding a function at the New York Helmsley Hotel, they immediately ordered the cancellation of that function,"

Democrats And Connecticut's One Party State

Having shut the Republican leadership out of private budget negotiations with Gov. Rell, Democratic leaders are now using the same ploy as they negotiate with the governor concerning a series of bills necessary to implement the Rell-Williams-Dovovan budget.

Democratic leaders President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan, formerly a union steward, figure that their colleagues in the legislature need not be included in the negotiations because Republicans simply could not bring themselves to vote in favor of a massive $37.6 billion budget top-heavy with tax increases and short on true spending cuts.

It should surprise no one in the state that Democrats, certain of their majority power in the legislature, now have begun to adopt tactics more often deployed in Banana Republics such as Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.

Democrats have been successful in bludgeoning Gov. Jodi Rell into accepting a progressive income tax, as well as a budget she had pledged to oppose, and hope to repeat the process in legislation enabling their budget. The governor has not pledged to avoid such negotiations until such time as Williams and Donovan become a tad more magnanimous and realize that Connecticut is still a republic, despite their efforts to turn it into a one party state.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pravda, Speaking "Truth" To American Power

In Russian, pravda means "truth," hence the title of this piece.

Pravda Predicts USA Defeat in Afghanistan

“Former KGB Special Forces Colonel Oleg Balashov, who took part in the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan, told RT he doubts more U.S. soldiers will increase the chances of victory. This comment comes as the U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan have doubled over the last year while the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, admitted that even more are going to be needed to defeat the Taliban.

"’This war will be the same as it was in Vietnam and as the Soviet Union had in Afghanistan back in the 1980s,’ said Balashov. Afghanistan ‘won't let them succeed, you can't do this to the people in this country. The Afghan population has reacted to this war as expected.’"

Russia Concludes Arms Deal With Chavez

“Russia will give Venezuela a 2.2-billion-dollar loan to purchase Russian arms. It is not going to be the first defense deal between the two countries. Venezuela has spent about $4.5 billion on Russia's military hardware within the scope of 12 contracts that were officially signed during the recent several years. The Latin American nation particularly bought 24 Su-30 jets, tens of battle choppers and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.”

Pravda Reports Obama Shelving Missile Shield Plan

“Iran's long range missile program has not "progressed" as previously estimated? No kidding! How much did people get paid to make these "estimations"? Whatever it was, it was too much. They, as well all know, were talking out of the wrong orifice.

“Iran basically has missiles for defense. Iran has no nuclear weapons program. How many people could have told that to these idiots in charge for free?

“It was a stupid, expensive and ill-advised plan. So hopefully this is the end of any plans for infesting Europe with this US garbage. Better the US concentrate on previous promises they have broken such as not expanding NATO and maybe they should stop maintaining all these occupation bases all over the world.”

Poland Responds

It’s difficult to fool a man who feels the knife at his throat.

The Associated Press is reporting on the reaction to President Obama’s decision to abandon a defense shield in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

"'Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back,' the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.

"Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Joke

Jon Stewart berates Main Stream Media on Comedy Central.

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Obama Stiffs Poland and the Czech Republic

To please Russia's Vladimir Putin, President Barack Obama has decided to shelve anti-missle defenses in the Czech Republic and Poland on the 70th anniversary of Poland’s invasion by the Soviet Union:

"Fears of Moscow run especially deep in Poland, highlighted by a key anniversary Thursday. Exactly 70 years ago — on Sept. 17, 1939 — Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union at the start of World War II."

Rell and Democratic Leadership Hammered In Poll: Voters Are Catching On

Connecticut voters have given both Jodi Rell and the state legislature the raspberries, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.
The poll shows Rell’s favorability rating plummeting from a high of 83 percent in January to 65 percent in July. Her rating was further degraded when, after a month spent excoriating tax and spend Democrats, she permitted a budget largely fashioned by Democratic leaders President Pro Tem of the senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan to pass without vetoing it.

The latest poll shows a six point drop to 59 percent after the shakers and movers of state government passed a budget that raises taxes to liquidate a $2 billion deficit.

There are few true spending cuts in the budget, which relies upon one time revenue sources, repealable cuts, a possibly ruinous progressive income tax and revenue transfers.

The poll asked if Rell “copped out” by allowing the budget to pass without her signature.

She had indeed, said a majority of respondents: 56 percent agreed, while 34 percent said she “showed courage.” A large number, 52 percent, disapproved of the governor’s handing of the budget; 42 percent approved.

Poll-Meister Doug Schwartz commented, "Democrats can't take comfort in these numbers since their score on the budget is much lower than the governor's. But Democrats might hope that the Rell juggernaut finally has hit a pothole, which could set the stage for a competitive race for governor next year."

The spendthrift legislature also got hammered in the poll, its approval rating falling to a pitiful 35 percent, which may mean that 65 percent of those polled are propaganda proof, always a hopeful sign

The abysmal rating did not prevent Williams from thumping his chest and then urging the governor “to make the budget cuts a reality. The deep spending reductions in this budget will require belt-tightening and smart choices by executive branch agencies. We urge the governor to meet immediately and frequently with her commissioners to ensure that the requisite cost savings are achieved while critical services are maintained."

In plain-speak, Williams is telling the governor: We made a horrid mess. Here’s a broom; go sweep it up.

Earlier in the year, Democrats baulked at finding $520 million in cuts Rell demanded before she surrendered to Williams’ breathless importunities to impose a progressive income tax on Connecticut’s mini-millionaires.

Politically, Rell has handled budget negotiations ineptly. In future budget wrangles with unbending Democrats, her political opponents now know that if they protract negotiations well beyond the time limit set by law to turn in a budget, steadfastly reject any and all attempts at cutting services, lure the governor into accepting expensive contractual agreements with unions, entice her into private negotiations out of earshot of her party’s leaders and propose once again to cover a deficit by raising the progressive rate, their present from Rell, the governor will cave and declare victory. Democrats already know she blinked at a progressive income tax, and they feel confident that when push comes to shove, she will relent on future progressive tax rate increases – whatever she says before beating a hasty retreat.

Rell’s opposition to tax and spend liberal legislators is no longer credible.

Republican opposition in the legislature is hearty and full-throated, but the Republicans cannot win legislative points with the votes they command. Their best hope is to campaign for a state budget referendum and to support open government internet postings, taking as their template Florida’s House Bill 971 passed in March of this year, which requires every governmental expenditure to be posted on an internet site five days prior to the passage of any legislation. A future column will explore the benefits of complete governmental transparency.

Democrats, with an assist from a compliant media, will be banging the governor over the head with their broom handle for a long while. Rell made any “deep spending reductions” impossible when she agreed to union salary demands before she began to negotiate with Williams and Donovan, an old union hand.

She’d better get used to the lumps.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dodd And Him (Michael Moore)

Michael Moore’s new anti-capitalist propaganda epic steps on a few sore Democratic toes, according to the Washington Post

“Moore zeroes in less on Phil Gramm or other GOP string-pullers than he does on White House economic adviser Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Sen. Chris Dodd. Especially Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Moore gets an on-camera interview with the mortgage officer who handled the special VIP loans provided to Dodd and other big names, which have dogged Dodd's reelection bid.”
The film’s ideological pretensions pivot around last fall’s bailout. On the right side of the barricades, according to Moore, stood valiant populists pitted against Wall Street titans “calling in their Washington chits.”

The film itself does not confront one obvious wrinkle: Conservatives were heartily opposed to the bailout, and in fact still are.

The Washington Post – which may possibly expect to be harangued in Moore’s next film – notes:

“Left unsaid is that a larger proportion of House Republicans than Democrats voted against the bailout -- many of the same Republicans, in fact, who have been leading the anti-government, anti-universal health care charge that Moore claims to oppose.”

It’s not what you know or who you know that makes for a good propaganda film: It’s what you know that you leave out of account.

But Moore is not bothered by and Democratic Party push-back.

Said the Palme d’Or  winning documentary maker: "One of the important things to recognize in my films is that I always went after whoever needed to be gone after. But people will be surprised by how many Democrats I went after for being too close to big money."

And when a presumptuous reporter asked Moore whether his film “glorified the anti-bailout position assumed by so many conservative Republicans,” he responded, "I wanted to stop the revisionist version of how the bailout is remembered. [Republicans] are trying to ride some phony populist wave because they know there's anger brewing. Beneath the surface, history is full of people taking advantage of [populist anger] and taking this country to an extra reactionary place."

Clearly, for propagandists the enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend. And if booting Dodd off the progressive boat into shark infested waters helps to sell Moore's propaganda film, what anti-capitalist worth his salt would hesitate to shove him off the plank?

Sorry Chris, it’s business.

For a candid docudrama on Moore, see here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jihadists Blow Themselves Up

Tough day at the office.


A recent column in Citizen News brought forth letters and articles, information and misinformation.. Let’s correct some, starting with the luminaries’:

Pres. Obama. Illegals are not provided for in our bills. Not so. There have been two amendments barring illegal aliens from being benefited by health-care, and both have been voted down. The independent Congressional Research Service says there are numerous loopholes in the bills which allow illegal immigrants to benefit. Example: Where one family member qualifies for inclusion, his whole family is included.

If you like your policy, you can keep it,” repeated many times). Maybe, maybe not. . HR3200 provides that at the moment it becomes law, there will be no more enrollments in Medicare, and those who have lost their insurance for whatever reason will be put into Public Option. No choice.

Congressman Christopher Murphy: “There’s no reason why members of Congress shouldn’t . . . choose between the public option and private plans like everyone else.” [No one else can do that.] “I am willing to place my own health care coverage needs in it to prove my faith in this effort.” [Nobody else is.]

Sen.Coburn’s amendment asked senators if they would give up their federal policy for Public Option, and all voted NO except the two in charge who had to show support, Senators Dodd and Mikulski. They, all congressmen, and federal employees have the wonderful Federal Employees Health Benefits Program which during the campaign but not since, Mr. Obama reiterated we could have.

Cheryl Reedy: “Will this plan put private insurance companies out of business? No, private insurance companies will compete to sell plans that cover things the government plan doesn’t.” (CN Aug 19, p.13). If the government lets them. Government can regulate whatever it can’t get through legislation.

Public Option, free to increase its budget, free to run up debt (as has Medicare, which has trillions in unfunded liabilities), will under-price private insurance companies. Being heavily regulated, they will not be able to cover things Public Option doesn’t, and may go out of business or work for Medicare as claims adjustors.

Sen. Coburn’s idea is for each family to have an annual voucher from government (say $5600) which can be used to pay medical bills. What is left over would stay in its account, and be used for whatever purpose it is wanted. These are Health Savings Accounts.

Thomas Piel: “In last week’s Citizen News we were treated to yet another heavy reform because 70% (or was it 74%) are satisfied with their health care . . . just fine and dandy if we don’t do anything.” (CN, Aug. 26, p.10)

Not at all. Everyone, even those satisfied with their health care, say changes have to be made. Economist Laffer lists many: Patients should play a role in the process. Mandating minimum coverage; discriminating against pre-existing health conditions; medical-malpractice reform; preventing insurance companies from competing across state lines; permitting individuals to buy policies with pre-tax dollars as employers can. I listed all these in my Aug. 19 column.

T.P. says the World Health Organization places us 37th among countries in “medical outcomes.” Not medical outcomes, but, because we lack universal coverage and care is a financial burden for many, in quality of care. If we were 37th in medical outcomes, how come 400,000 foreigners came here for medical care in 2008? Two professors of medicine caught this myth (“Sorting Fact From Fiction on Health Care,” WSJ Aug 31, p.A13) Assigning a quantity to quality is arbitrary and meaningless.

Lizabeth Skalski: A public health plan option is crucial to lowering costs. [No.] By creating honest competition, a public plan will help bring down these out of control costs . . . ” (CN Aug. 26, p.13)

Public Option will stop all competition. Pres. Obama kept saying that enrolling the millions of uninsured people will lower costs, till the day when the Congressional Budget Office announced he’s wrong: Costs will increase by $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion (nearer $2 trillion, says economist Milton Feldstein, WSJ Sept. 8, A21).

It’s costly for hospitals, too. Dr. John Garrett speaking for Virginia Hospital Center says Medicare only reimburses 80% of the Hospital’s costs (Lewin Group says 70% on average). The hospital has to rely on private insurer companies to make up the difference. Private insurers are subsidizing the government, passing along their added cost in increased premiums of policy-holders.

There are over 1300 private insurance companies. But they can’t effectively compete because of a law which forbids crossing state lines to buy a policy. Public Option would under-price all private insurance companies, making it impossible for them to make a profit, which would drive them out of business or absorb them into Medicare.

Costs would go down, premiums would be cheaper, if policies could be bought across state lines and if medical-malpractice judgments were capped. Health Savings Accounts, making the system patient-centered, would help lower costs. The federal tax should stop favoring employer-sponsored insurance over self-purchased insurance. Each of these cost-savers could be put in a separate bill and easily passed.

The sure way to control costs when you run out of money is to ration health-care, as England and Canada, single-paying countries, are doing.

By Natalie Sirkin

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On Constitutional Interpretation: Blumie To The Rescue

There are two U.S. Constitutions, as everyone knows: your Constitution and my Constitution.

What a constitution says has now become mostly a matter of interpretation, and interpretations can be stretched to mean pretty much anything under the sun; which is to say constitutions have become authorizing instruments that allow interpreters to do pretty much whatever suits their fancy.
You say you want to abort fetuses. Simple as pie.

Since the constitution says nothing about abortion or fetuses, you imagine an “aura” surrounding it that speaks to privacy rights. From there, it is a simple matter to connect aural “constitutional” privacy rights with the right to fend off unwanted governmental intrusions, and there you have it: You now have given constitutional birth to a new baby un-fathered by any of the constitutional authors, including the Deists among them. We live in the hope the new right will not be aborted by some other interpreter who may have fallen under the sentimental spell of some ancient and outworn religious prohibition.

But you never know. You take your chances.

Would the signers of the constitution have felt comfortable with a partial birth abortion procedure that involves the violent destruction of nearly born infants?

It is indecent to ask – and pointless. Is not the constitution written by the founders a living document, infinitely elastic? Of course it is; which is to say, it is a document the interpretation of which depends upon our rules of grammar.

We moderns have our own rules of interpretation. We make them up as we go along.

Let’s say you want to prevent greedy lobbyists from determining elections by bundling money from contributors and giving it to candidates favored by their clients.

Putting aside the possibilty that prohibitions on spending may themselves be unconstitutional, it's as easy as punch. You write a law forbidding this. And if you are in a crusading mood, you also may hit upon something called “public campaign financing.” You want campaigns to be financed by the public, rather than by private political entrepreneurs who, some say, may be equally corrupt as those incumbent politicians who for years have gratefully accepted lobbyist’s contributions.

But you are a politician, you the writer of laws, the trumpet of democracy; and you want to be sure that “non-serious” candidates do not crowd the stage at public debates, because this would distract serious voters from considering serious issues. So you set a ceiling on the contributions these less than serious candidates must meet in order to qualify for public financing.

After awhile, some disgruntled campaigner sues, and the matter is brought before a judge, an authorized constitution interpreter who finds your ceiling too high and your law unconstitutional, a political Rube Goldberg contraption designed to boost campaign outlays for incumbents, while preventing successful challenges by forcing less well endowed competitors off the political playing field.

Under such circumstances, what do you do?

Well sir, you call upon the services of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who no doubt will propose a fix to the legislature.

Blumenthal is now on the case. He may be expected to press the issue on appeal in a higher court, because the attorney general subscribes to campaign finance reform. He’s a multi-term incumbent reformer.
Most recent campaign finance reform -- and especially the McCain-Feingold bill -- is candidate centered, protects incumbents and destroys political parties. McCain-Feingold invites corruption because it places incumbents in the position of supplicants who batten on financers they, as lawmakers and heads of committees, are regulating. A system of anonymous giving filtered through political parties would be less corrupting.

The judge reviewing Connecticut’s pioneering campaign finance reform bill found it to be unconstitutional because it gave an unfair advantage to the incumbent politicians who wrote it.

Big surprise there. Politicians using legislation to advance their own political interests. Who would’a thunk it?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Perry of Texas Despairs of Obama Administration

The Associated Press is reporting that Governor Rick Perry of Texas, despairing of the federal government – the same folk who want to run insurance companies – is sending Texas Rangers to quell the violence along the state’s border with Mexico:

“Special teams of Texas Rangers will be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border to deal with increasing violence because the federal government has failed to address growing problems there, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday. "It is an expansive effort with the Rangers playing a more high-profile role than they've ever played before," Perry said of the Department of Public Safety's elite investigative unit.”

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Obama Polls Trending Downwards

An Associated Press poll shows President Barack Obama’s approvals trending downward.

According to the survey of 1,001 adults conducted with cell and landline telephones from Sept. 3-8, public disapproval of President Barack Obama's handling of health care has jumped to 52 percent; his overall approval rating, up seven points since July, shows 49 percent now disapprove of how he is handling his job as president; on health care, forty-nine percent say they oppose the health overhaul plans being considered by Congress, up from 43 percent in July; 52 percent say they disapprove of how Obama is handling the economy; a similar number disapprove of his handling of taxes; and 56 percent dislike his handling of skyrocketing budget deficits.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Last Word

Gov. Jodi Rell attempted to line item veto certain earmarks in the Democrat’s budget, at which point she bumped into Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a student of the state Constitution.

Blumenthal gave it as his official opinion that the state Constitution prohibited the governor from using her line item veto without having signed the bill. Rell had permitted the budget to pass into law without her signature.

Blumenthal’s correct constitutional reading provoked the following remark from House Republican leader Larry Cafaro: “Game over. Fight done. Lay down your arms. It's over. They won. The Democrats won. The people of the state of Connecticut lost - unless you're the Westbrook YMCA or the Manchester food pantry. This is the equivalent of Robert Duran - 'no mas' - against Sugar Ray Leonard.”

Cafero’s outburst was correct. It is also constitutional.

And so ends the budget battle 0f 2009, with a whimper rather than a revolutionary bang.

God help the state of Connecticut. No one else will.

Following the Red Brick Road To LaLaLand

What’s coming at us – at warp speed – down the red-brick road is an economic catastrophe.

Things are really bad when the Chinese, our dept patrons, begin to throw Ben Franklin our way.

According to an article in the British Telegraph, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and now head of China's green energy drive Cheng Siwei admires Ben Franklin enough to have read him, which is more than can be said for President Barack Obama’s economic advisers:

“Mr Cheng said the root cause of global imbalances is spending patterns in US (and UK) and China.

“’The US spends tomorrow's money today,’ he said. ‘We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow. That's why we have this financial crisis.’

“Yet the consequences are not symmetric.

“’He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing,’ said Mr. Cheng.

“It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.”

The Chinese problem is that the country’s leaders -- far more persuasive than, say, send’em-a-dead-fish Rahm Emanuel – have not been able to induce frugal Chinese workers to part with their savings. The average Chinese worker, perhaps relying on Ben Franklin’s sage advice, knows that a penny saved is a penny earned, and he saves it.

On this side of the water, Emanuel and his cohorts, which include the president and several suites of czars, are spending hand over fist money they do not even have.

They hope to “borrow” this money, mostly from a Chinese state already heavily invested in US bonds.

What the Chinese rightly fear is the rampant inflation soon to arrive down the red brick road of LaLaLand. Inflation reduces the purchasing value of money, and for this reason the Chinese are understandably nervous, since they are holding a great deal of American debt. Americans on fixed income also ought to be worried, because their devalued dollars will not purchase as much. One can almost hear the Chinese muttering under their breath: Haven’t these guys read anything by Milton Friedman or Fredrick Hayak or Ben Franklin?

The answer is “No.”

The Obama administration assiduously reads its own position papers and possibly books given to the president by the democratically elected dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. They busy themselves pursing diplomatic relations with such international nut-jobs as the “Dear Leader” of North Korea Kim Jong Il, a dead-broke socialist, and the democratically elected jihadist of Iran Mahmoud Amadinijad, who has just sent to the Obama administration the following unambiguous message: Any discussion involving the creation of nuclear weapons in Iran is now terminated – permanently. Go stuff it!

Not at all sorrowfully, the administration, far outpacing former President George Bush, spends tomorrow’s money today and the day after tomorrow’s money tomorrow.

Here in Connecticut, the democratically elected legislature and Governor Jodi Rell have decided the state does not have a spending problem at all – never did. It has a revenue problem: The state is not spending too much money – never has. It simply has failed to collect enough money. A progressive income tax is the remedy for that failure. We’ve been around this block before.

This time, Rell and Democratic leaders in the legislature, President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams and House Speaker Chris Donovan, have decided to patch up the deficit temporarily by adding a progressive feature to the income tax, shifting the payment time line from today to the day after the day after tomorrow and– Are we surprised? -- borrowing money from anyone rash enough to purchase bonds from a state that is, per capita, more deeply in debt than kaput California.

The Democratic spendthrifts in the legislature have not read their Franklin; neither do they heed the example set by Chinese workers or the useful advice offered to them, via Franklin, by anxious Chinese leaders. Neither do they pay attention to polls screaming at them to cut spending. They toil not, neither do they spin. And come next election, they all should be voted out of office and sent to a re-education camp in China to learn the basics of economics.

If an effective resistance to the coming economic apocalypse is not soon set in motion, tomorrow will be here before we know it.

What We Can Learn From China

Former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and now head of China's green energy drive Cheng Siwei on Ben Franklin:

“Mr Cheng said the root cause of global imbalances is spending patterns in US (and UK) and China.

“’The US spends tomorrow's money today,’ he said. ‘We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow. That's why we have this financial crisis.’

“Yet the consequences are not symmetric.

“’He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing,’ said Mr. Cheng.

“It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.”

Monday, September 07, 2009

Is It Over Yet?

According to Bloomberg News, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after having “won” a fraudulent election, is feeling his oats.

Ahmadinejad said, after having received promises of shipments of oil from the democratically elected dictator of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, that the debate over Iran’s nuclear program is over. He won the debate, but Ahmadinejad is perfectly willing to discuss with American President Barack Obama other isues of moments – like, the weather.

On his world-wind tour, Chavez dropped by the Venice Film Festival, to see a screening of Oliver Stone’s new film on Venezuela’s Che Guevara, tea shirts to follow. There is no word yet from the prestigious gathering of artists to indicate that Chavez has seen Michael Moore’s newest anti-capitalist film.

Stone said that making the film was a "liberating experience."

In an attempt to counter "the media's attacks on Chavez, the movie shows very clearly the level of stupidity in the kind of broad statements" that are made about the Venezuelan leader, he said.

Sort of makes you wonder whether the West deserves to survive. Chavez and Ahmadinejad are convinced it doesn't. Can they be right?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Gobble, Gobble

Like most turkeys, the new Democratic-Rell budget will be gobbling a lot of money. But not to worry, said Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, from the Democratic Republic of New Haven, the new “millionaire’s tax” has become “the centerpiece of Democratic tax policy for this whole decade.”

The state’s precarious budget is put together with revenue engines that melt like popsicles after a few years, after which the vanishing one-time revenues will bring us all back to square one: The present Democratic-Rell budget borrows $1.3 billion, drains the rainy day fund of $1.5 billion, and looks forward nervously to the receipt of $1.5 billion in narrowly targeted federal stimulus money – no way to run a $17 billion dollar a year business. And, oh yes, the state is looking square in the eye of a $9 billion future deficit.

Happy days are here again.

Just as on the style runway red is sometimes the new black, Loony’s new progressive income tax is the new income tax; and all of us know what happened with the old income tax.

Following passage of the Lowell P. Weicker Jr. Income Tax, the state realized a number of successive surpluses, which might have signaled to a less looney legislature that the tax had been pegged too high. But the good turkeys gobbled it all up.

And as a direct result of all this gobbling, here we are: another day older and deeper in debt.

But no wiser.

The difference between Democrats and some more conservative Republicans on budget issues is not an ideological difference: It is a difference in competing realities, as may be seen by Republican leader John McKinney’s assessment of the Democratic-Rell budget: “I don't think we have to wait two years. In three to six months, we will be back. Two years from now, we will have a deficit of $2.5 billion to $4.5 billion in 2012 alone. If you don't have the rainy-day fund and stimulus, you've taken away the two largest chunks of dollars to solve this budget crisis.”

On the one hand, looniness; on the other, a cold rational assessment of the future.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Courant Readers Nix Budget.... Nooooooooo!

According to a poll taken by the paper, more than 70% of Hartford Courant readers do not like the budget agreed upon by Gov. Jodi Rell and Democratic leaders in the legislature. Of those polled, 83.9% would rather be in Texas.

Today's Buzz
Are you happy with the new state budget?
• No. It doesn't shrink the size or cost of government. (506 responses)
• Yes. It preserves much-needed state services. (98 responses)
• No. It will drive wealth from the state. (80 responses)
• Yes. It keeps Connecticut competitive during the recession. (36 responses)
720 total responses
(Results not scientific)

The paper has not yet taken an internal poll on the question.

Courant OKs Bad Budget

With some reservations, the Harford Courant, a paper whose publisher just apologized for his reporters who plagiarized from other papers, is okay with the state budget. The Courant calls the plagiarists “aggregators.”

In an editorial, the Courant asserts that Rell was “wise” to sign the tax swollen document, although the paper considers it a deficient budget:

“Gov. M. Jodi Rell was wise Tuesday in bringing to an end her long fight with legislative Democrats by holding her nose and letting their latest budget bill pass into law without her signature. She doesn't like the budget but she was right in concluding it isn't worth it to prolong the stalemate.

“In truth, it isn't a very good budget. There is far too much borrowing to make it balance and too much spending. But Connecticut needs a state budget.”

The governor, the editorial affirms, showed “admirable flexibility” by agreeing to the Democrats “’millionaire tax’ to raise revenue.”

The Democrats “partly” accepted the governor’s reduction of the of the estate tax, according to the editorial, and adopted her reduction in the state sales tax, “although they [leaders in the Democrat dominated legislature] added a provision that the sales tax cut would be repealed if revenues dropped more than 1 percent from projections.”

In other words, the governor adopted a “millionaire’s tax” which carried no provision that, in the event the tax produced a projected overage of 1%, it would be repealed; and she accepted a caveat on a reduction in the sales tax that, should revenues from the tax drop more than 1% in projections, the tax cut would be repealed.

These are revenues figures that would be “projected” by the Democrat controlled legislature’s non-partisan fiscal office, which recently highballed the state’s deficit projection, as reported by Courant reporter Chris Keating.

The Courant’s editorial board probably could use a good aggregator here -- because they seem to regard all this as “admirably flexible.” Some Republicans, no doubt, would consider it contortionism beyond the bounds of reason. But such opinions hold no sway among the paper’s editorial board members, whose sermonetts are mostly directed to a diminishing pool of liberal readers.

The Courant offers some serious objections to the “deal” struck between the governor and a Democratic leadership that has made intimidation into an art form, the most important of which are:

• “This budget doesn't fundamentally restructure state government to save money, as is needed. When the governor made her deal with the state employees unions that promised no layoffs for two years in exchange for contract concessions that would save about $600 million, hopes for meaningful restructuring flew out the window.”

• “The budget is relying too much on too few people — joint filers making more than $1 million and single filers making more than $500,000 — in raising additional revenue to balance the budget. Connecticut does not want to reach the point where high-earner flight to Florida or other non-income-tax states becomes more than anecdotal.”

The Courant now believes, “Future tax increases — if there need to be any — should be broad-based.”

Better late than never.

These are serious objections not taken seriously by the Courant’s editorial board. The paper fairly gasps at them in its editorial and then commends Rell for winking at them by permitting the budget to pass without her signature rather than vetoing it and insisting on less "flexible" measures.

One may question the paper’s logic and motives here. The Courant’s logic suggests the budget should have been rejected. But it is unwilling to reprove the governor for having accepted it. Only one conclusion is possible: It was political interests rather than right reason that has steered the Courant into this cul de sac. It is the plainest nonsense to say that a budget is bad, for reasons stated by the paper, but that it should be adopted by a governor who had opposed it for the right reasons because – the state needs a bad budget.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hartford Mayor Perez Arrested A Second Time

Another politician, this time Mayor of Hartford Eddie Perez, has been arrested – for a second time – for having commited what would have been considered in the age of Tammany Hall politics as usual.

The mayor has been arrested under RICO statutes, for trading his influence at city hall for discounted work on his Bloomfield Avenue home and attempting to extort money from a private developer for the benefit of Abraham L. Giles, once an influential North End politico.

RICO legislation was designed to prosecute drug lords and criminals connected with the Mafia, but it has been applied for the past few decades by aggressive prosecutors to political crimes. The college professor who drafted the legislation said it should never be used to prosecute politicians.

Mr. Perez's lawyer, Huber Santos claims the charges leading to the second the second arrest were filed “intentionally to defeat our ability to have a jury trial and vindicate the mayor of the charges that are pending.”

He is asking for a contempt citation against prosecutors for having release the warrant when the grand jury’s report was yet under seal.

The prosecution should be held in contempt, Mr. Santos charges, for “thumbing its nose at the Connecticut Supreme Court. For that it should be held in contempt.”

The Signs Of The Times

These are the signs that try men's souls.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Where Do Republicans Go From Here?

Former senator and governor Lowell Weicker – maverick Republican (i.e. closet Democrat) – once said about his party, “It’s so small. Why doesn’t somebody take it over?”

Weicker, assisted by his aide Tom D’Amore, once did attempt to take over the party. Weicker, then a senator, eased D’Amore into the chairmanship of his party and, before you could say Benito Mussolini, the two were conspiring to “open” the party’s nominating conventions to unaffiliated voters.

Party central simply refused to decompose on cue and politely rebuffed Weicker. Both Weicker and D’Amore eventually shook the dust of their old, small, inconsequential party from their feet, Weicker to run as governor on a synthetic party ticket. D’Amore drifted off the party reservation, was seen canoodling with Jesse Ventura, and later re-entered Connecticut’s political orbit as an advisor to Ned Lamont, who tried and failed to unhorse Weicker’s old bete noir, Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The best that can be said about Connecticut’s moderate, lackadaisical state Republican Party is that it survived Weicker.

Will it survive Gov. Jodi Rell?

The party is still small – very small. There are only 12 Republicans in the state’s Senate, as against 24 Democrats, who have a majority in both houses large enough to override Rell’s rarely used veto.

The state is facing a huge $9 billion deficit, a per capita hole in the boat larger than bankrupted California’s.

In the face of that deficit, Rell this year put up a show of resistance and then caved in to the status quo. It has become much too easy for Republican governors, surrounded on all sides by heavily armed Democrats, to hoist the white flag and wave a cheerful farewell to their troops. “Government,” George Washington said, “is force.” It will always be easy to capitulate to force majeure. Washington, to be sure, didn’t; but he was made of different mettle.

Here and there, one sees hopeful signs, indications there is a life after near-death for Republicans.

The party itself is no longer tied to the governor’s apron strings. Following a decision to capitulate to Democrats and allow a tax swollen budget to pass without her signature, leading Republicans did not swallow their tongues and retreat with their tails between their legs, as was common, except in sometimes raucous closed Republican caucuses, in the administration of former governor John Rowland.

Republicans are now refusing to dip their handkerchiefs in suicidal budgets. There is little outward or internal assent among Republicans to the Democratic Party’s spendfest.

Following its passage, GOP leader in the senate John McKinney of Fairfield said, “I agree with the governor's criticism of the budget, but I'm disappointed that she didn't veto the bill. At no time did the Democratic majority ever show a willingness to consider serious reductions in spending. It was quite clear that they were never going to reduce spending. The Democrats have the budget they want.''

And House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero said, “I don't see any reason why she would sign this unless she just wanted it over with - and that's not a good enough reason.”

Parties form around persons or ideas. The Democrats have just implemented their last idea, a progressive income tax. Facing barren years ahead, it is as if they had reached for the very last jar of peanut butter in the panty, eyes turned inward, downing it with gusto.

Silence in law signifies consent. Cut loose from a governor who has assented by her silence to a ruinous budget, what will be the principle of organization of the Republican Party in Connecticut? Is there in the party a person around whom the Republicans can unite to mobilize for action? Are there ideas among Republicans worth fighting for? What is their program? How will that program be presented in campaigns, and by whom?

An anxious public awaits reasonable answers to these important questions. The politics of upcoming campaigns will be local. The state looks forward to a barren future. Salvation will not come from a confused and central government in Washington sunk in fantasy and debt.

And the pantry is empty.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hell No, We Won’t Go

Afghanistan is a man trap. It’s worse than a quagmire. George Will, a conservative columnist, has called for a withdrawal of American troops from the country.

The Die Is Cast

The state Senate last night approved a budget along party lines. Voting against the budget were all 12 Republicans and 1 Democrat; 22 Democrats voted for the budget.

The $37 billion budget increases spending over a period of two years by $800 million, according to one report.

An amusing moment occurred when Democrats claimed to have cut the budget by 35%. Their “cut” refers to an accounting decrease in the current services budget. That budget projects future increases; a lower than expected increase is counted among Democrats as a “cut.” In reality, the budget increases spending by $1.8 billion.

“Don’t spend your money before you’ve got it” was sage advice offered us by our parents in our golden youths. In “cutting” the future services budget, Democrats have “saved” money they have not yet appropriated.

Over in the House, a dissenting Democrat, Rep. Linda Schofield of Simsbury, voted again the bill, along with about a dozen of her colleagues. A weary Schofield explained, “I’m tired, just like you, of being beat up for not getting a budget.” However, Schofield was uncomfortable with securitizing $1.3 billion from a yet “undefined revenue stream.” Democrats are borrowing $1.3 billion against an unidentified revenue stream.

“We don’t know where it’s going to come from,” Schofield said.

Virtually all the “cuts,” Republicans insisted, were accounting gimmicks and money transfers. The largest transfer was a cut in the sales tax accompanied by an increase in the Democrats now famous “millionaires tax.”

The budget reduces the sales tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent, but even this cut is contingent and can be re-boosted if a future budget shows a deficit. The Democrat’s increase of the state income tax on individuals earning half a million and couples earning a million a year from 5 percent to 6.5 percent is not contingent; which is to say, it cannot be repealed even if the state shows a surplus.

Gov. Jodi Rell, who might have vetoed the tax heavy cut deficient budget, thus showing solidarity with other Republicans, instead decided to take the easy way out: She will let the legislation pass without signing it.

After thanking Rell for working with Democrats to produce the swollen $35 billion budget, no Republicans in the senate having voted for it, President Pro Tem of the senate Don Williams allowed, “There will be no perfect budget in this - the worst budget year in our lifetime. This budget does about the best we can possibly do in these tough times.''

He was grateful the governor had not been “wedded to strict ideology” concerning budget issues, unlike the Democrats, wedded for more than 20 years to a crippling and possibly counter productive millionaire’s tax.

A few days before the vote, George Jepsen, a Hartford lawyer, former state senate Majority Leader and chairman of Connecticut’s state Democratic Party, warned his party in an op-ed piece against adopting a millionaire’s tax.

Mr., Jepsen wrote that the tax “exacerbates what economists agree is a major defect of our current revenue structure — over-reliance on a narrow, affluent population — which leaves the state's finances highly vulnerable to economic volatility, especially on Wall Street. It also codifies the class warfare ethos of the Democrats (mitigated somewhat by the governor's proposed elimination of the estate tax). This rhetoric gives the wealthy one more reason to shift residency to tax-friendly states, as so many already have, taking their income, local purchases, job creation and philanthropy with them.”

It is a point Republicans had been trying for months to press without success upon Democratic Party ideologues such as Williams and Chris Donovan, the Speaker of the state House and a former union steward.

Speaking from the belly of beast, wealthy Greenwich, where toney rich folk such as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal park their cars at night, Sen. Scott Franz said that Connecticut’s revenue collections were in “a downward death spiral. Anecdotally, hundreds, if not thousands of firms have left the state of Connecticut” for safer environments such as Bermuda which will “treat your capital, treat your families'' in a welcoming way.

The economic die, as Caesar one said in a different connection, has been cast.

And on a throw of the dice, the retreat bridges have been burnt.

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