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Showing posts from November, 2009

Axe The Tax Cut

Feeling the pinch, leading Democrats in the state legislature quickly settled on a means of bringing somewhat into balance a recently passed spending plan that Democratic State Comptroller Nancy Wyman asserted was about half a million short early in November, a few weeks after the legislature had passed the budget.

The ladies and gentlemen in the legislature cut tax relief out of the spending lard.

Wyman, of course, was too polite in her assessment of the budget, little more than a legislative Ponzi scheme designed to convince voters that the legislature, in tandem with the governor, had settled an annoying deficit. The budget itself -- a meandering $37.6 billion that disperses $18.64 billion this fiscal year and $18.93 billion in 2010-11 – was a chewing gum and string concoction that relied on one time revenue sources and disappearing savings.

Moody’s Investor Service took one look at the budget, shrieked at the choices made by the legislature to address budget gaps and an anticipated…

Some Chinks in Dodd’s Armor

A distinction may be made between the popularity of persons (non-transferable) and the popularity of positions and programs (transferable, sometimes).

President Barack Obama personality continues to resonate with many people, though there has been some slippage lately. His programs, largely radical, are iffier. Obama’s luster is not likely to rub off on Dodd; the disparities are too great. But there is no question Dodd has attached his fate to that of the Obama agenda: a highly regulated economy and the nationalization of heath care, to mention but two points.

Dodd’s fate is also connected to what might be called the wellness of his state; and, here again, the economic programs to which he has attached his political kite are doubtable, if not doubtful. Dodd has also shifted to the center in foreign policy, which is very odd in his case.

Dodd is not made of pro-war stuff – never has been. In economic policy, he has been in the past somewhat moderate. In the last few months, we have s…

Sales Tax Cut Nixed, Another Neck Chop For The Little Guy Who Is Not Too Big To Fail

The Democratic dominated legislature’s sales tax cut has now been given a decent burial. From the very beginning, the tax cut – about half  a percentage point – was tied to a predictable dip in state revenues: If revenue collections were to fall below a certain level, the cut was to be abandoned.

The sales tax, as we were told endlessly during Lowell Weicker’s successful effort to enact in income tax, is the most regressive of taxes; that is to say, it is a punitive tax hardest for the poorest in Connecticut to bear.

A sales tax cut, therefore, should be regarded a stimulus package for the little guy who is not too big to fail. Entrenched power brokers who are too big to fail can easily fend for themselves – usually by bribing a legislator with campaign contributions or by successfully seeking from their political patrons special exemptions not available to the little guy who will uncomplainingly pay sales taxes.

Once again, the Democratic controlled legislature wags its middle finger…

Why Dodd Will Not Resign, And Why Blumenthal Will Not Run Against Him

There has been some jockeying among Republicans in the U.S. Senate race. Sam Caliguiri has shifted his campaign from U.S. Senator to U.S. Rep, which leaves U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd to the tender mercies of the three remaining Republicans in the race: former CEO of World Wide Wrestling Linda McMahon, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Peter Schiff, a libertarian economist. Former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley is deciding whether he would rather be governor than senator.

On the left side of the Democratic barracks, some progressives are dissatisfied with Dodd, though the senator has move very far to the left to placate them. Dodd’s “good,” however, is not good enough to satisfy unappeasable progressives. There is a palpable anguish in the progressive camp, much of it turning upon the dread suspicion that Dodd, should he remain in the race, will lose his seat to a Republican. The senator’s polling negatives are dangerously low. Therefore, it is being urged by some progressives that Dodd shou…

Doing Good: Judge Norko And The Hartford Community Court

Anyone who has ever gotten himself in trouble -- many of us from the age of 12 to 20, though perhaps not in trouble criminally -- knows that there comes a point in a richly deserved punishment when the agony, despair, and humiliation trails off into a healing repentance. Many of the great novelists -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky in “Crime and Punishment,” Dickens in “Great Expectations,” Victor Hugo in “Les Miserable” -- have written persuasively about that spiritual pivot point.

Much more than most of us, Hartford Community Court Judge Raymond Norko has seen men swing, as from a hangman’s noose, between punishment and rehabilitation. The lower depths pass before him daily. That parade is a dispiriting experience, particularly when the level of criminal activity is such as to allow a restorative punishment that may -- just may -- set the foot of a potential hardened criminal on the road to a life in which crime plays no part. One of the great failings of jurisprudence in our time is that the …

MYTHS FOR FUN AND PROFIT

1. 640,329 jobs “saved/created” in Connecticut’s 45th Congressional district.
2. U.S. has high Infant Mortality.
3. 45,000 died because they didn’t have health insurance.
4. U.S. is unhealthy, only 37th healthiest in the world.
5. Social Security Trust Fund, Medicare trust fund.
6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi despises private insurers driven by profit.
7. Passive smoke, a killer but where are the bodies?
8. DDT, miracle that saves lives from malaria, banned.

1. 640,329 jobs created and saved? Bogus. House oversight subcommittee says $136 billion has been paid out from the $787-billion stimulus package, for jobs counted, double-counted, in nonexistent Congressional districts, including the 45th in Connecticut (we have five), 26th in Louisiana, 12th in Virginia and other imaginary places. An $890 shoe order, rated nine new jobs. An Alabama housing authority on a $540,071 project, rated 7,280 jobs but the Birmingham News only found 14. Where are the grants going? “Who knows, man, who r…

Williams, More Jobs Please

President Pro Tem of Connecticut’s senate Don Williams was invited by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut to give a talk, presumably on the state’s faltering economy, a delicious irony, rather as if the moneyed classes of pre-revolutionary France were to invite Jean-Paul Marat to a salon to give a chat on the future of the monarchy.

Williams who, along with his comrade in arms in the House, Speaker Chris Donovan, is principally responsible for having produced a budget now nearly half a million in arrears, told the group that the state has to “ratchet it up,” shove a little more money in the direction of education and improve Connecticut’s rail lines. Improved schooling, Williams said according to an account in the Norwich Bulletin, “wouldn’t require much extra spending and could be accomplished chiefly through policy changes. Connecting Hartford, New London, and Springfield, Mass., through rail would better move people and goods around.”

The completion of that line will be…

And God Said, “Let There Be Universal Health Care.”

On the question of a public option in the health care debate, liberal Democrats are now playing the God card, and it would appear that every liberal’s favorite whipping boy, Sen. Joe Lieberman, is in their view a moral apostate.

Lieberman, already in Dutch with the far left of his party for having fraternized with the enemy, has vigorously opposed the “public option” – a euphemism for nationalized insurance – for non-theological reasons having to do with dollars and cents.

But no sooner did Lieberman say he felt it was a “moral obligation” to oppose a ruinously expensive nationalized health insurance plan than there appeared out of the blue a union inspired “vigil” of rabbis and imams and priests and Unitarian ministers all inveighing against Lieberman as a religious reprobate.

It certainly is odd how the seemingly inflexible doctrine of the separation of church and state — vigorously applied to crèches during the Christian season of joy – just comes and goes.

Most news accounts of th…

Income Tax Proponent Hale, Tax Scofflaw

John Lender of the Hartford Courant notes: “If former Democratic state Sen. Gary A. Hale hadn't voted the way he did 18 years ago, he might not owe the state $77,951 in back taxes today.”

Hale, a state senator in 1991 when the income tax was rammed through the legislature by then Gov. Lowell Weicker and his minions, switched his vote from ney to yea and so secured passage of the tax.

The state Department of Revenue Services now is hounding Hale for non-payment of income taxes. The 50th of the state’s top 100 tax scofflaws, Hale owes Connecticut $77,951 in non-paid income taxes, thus joining a roster of distinguished Democratic tax delinquents, including Tom Daschle and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Leading the roster is Rep. Charlie Rangel, spotted on this blog several months ago as a snoozing tax cheat.

Rangle will be investigated by the same bunch of friendly legislators who, a few months ago, found Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd culpable – but not too culpable – of ethical viol…

In Defense Of Lisa Moody

The question at bat is: Was Lisa Moody, Governor Jodi Rell’s chief aide, the governor’s Svengalli?

Svelgalli was a fictional character, an evil hypnotist in George du Maurier’s novel “Trilby.” Not even Moody’s most severe critics would assert that she manipulated the governor by hypnotizing her or casting spells over her.

But did she influence the governor?

It would be odd if she did not. One always hopes that chief aides are more influential than, say, the editorial board of the Hartford Courant.

There is a temptation on the part of press people to over inflate the influence played by aides, perhaps because they are reluctant in their criticisms to mortally injure the king. During ex-president George Bush’s administration, Vice President Dick Cheney was portrayed pretty much as Bush’s brain. The president was thought to be a major duffer. Since Svengalli was a fictional character, it may be more helpful to inquire whether Moody was Rell’s Cheney.

Was she?

Yes and no. Cheney’s influen…

Blumenthal, Or The Ambiguities

According to a story in the New Haven Register, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal put a stop to the chatter that he might run for governor “at a gathering of students, senior citizens and local dignitaries… arranged by The Women’s Center at Gateway Community College.”

“Is this the time Blumenthal will take all that political capital and run for governor,” Topics Editor Mary O’Leary wrote, “now that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced she will not seek re-election, giving Democrats their first good shot at the top job in 18 years?

This interrogatory was followed by the now traditional let-down: “Blumenthal said no, he’s running for attorney general ‘because it is a job I love, because it enables me to fight for people and make a difference. I have no plan to run for governor.’

“On the other hand, asked if he would run in 2012 for U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s seat, Blumenthal said: ‘It would be a challenge that I would welcome, if it were the right time to do it, and I tho…

Dodd, Dancing with “Scheme Liability” Lawyers

In Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta, the Supreme Court Ruled in 2008 that companies cannot be sued just for doing business with another firm that had committed fraud. In tandem with another precedent in Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, the ruling put a check on what the Wall Street Journal has termed “’scheme liability’, in which trial lawyers seek to rope in parties acting legally for having done business with parties that don't.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, accused by some of his opponents of playing patty cake with corporate campaign contributors, is on an anti-business head trip just now. In the dust and dirt of battle, it has been forgotten that Dodd, at one point in his sterling career, set his face against lawyers who unjustifiably drove up the cost of doing business through excessive litigation.

One of the reasons doctors send their patients to so many specialists, driving up insurance coverage and medical costs, is because by so doing they are buying …

This Could Be The Start Of Something Big: Liberal Bloggers Apologize To Bush

“If you have been reading us for any length of time [ “us” is the liberal blog HillBuzz ] you know that we used to make fun of “Dubya” nearly every day…parroting the same comedic bits we heard in our Democrat circles, where Bush is still, to this day, lampooned as a chimp, a bumbling idiot, and a poor, clumsy public speaker.

“Oh, how we RAILED against Bush in 2000…and how we RAILED against the surge in support Bush received post-9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and stood there with his bullhorn in the ruins on that hideous day…

“As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.

“FOR HOURS.

“The Bushes went and met privately with these families for HOURS, hugging them, holding them, comforting them.

“If there are any of you out there with any connection at all to the Bushes, we implore you to give them our thanks…you te…

First Person Singular: An Interview With Chris Powell On Connecticut's Senatorial Race

Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, is a knowledgeable observer of Connecticut politics whose column appears in that paper and a dozen others in Connecticut and the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. When Powell became managing editor of the JI in 1974, he was the youngest editor of any daily in the state. I must here acknowledge that I wrote a regular column for the JI for about 15 years when Powell was also editorial page editor, drawing from time to time on his unfailing political memory. Powell, who off-line is screamingly amusing, agreed to submit to an interview broadly focused on the U.S. Senate race featuring the Democratic incumbent, Chris Dodd, and a crew of ebullient Republicans.


It is difficult to place Powell on the political spectrum except to say that he loves a good story and has a gift for poetic concision: "The General Assembly is little more than a nest of locusts. ..."


I recall once describing Powell as a "radical (s…

Gov. Lamont’s Free Advice vs Mom's Free Advice

Your mom, in a moment of brute honesty, may have told you that money can’t buy everything. But this was because she was not Ned Lamont or Michael Bloomberg.

Lamont is the millionaire from Greenwich who wants to be governor of Connecticut, and Bloomberg is the present redundantly rich mayor of New York. During the recently concluded New York mayoralty race, Bloomberg almost didn’t buy the election. It was a close shave but, in the end, money spoke loudly.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post now tells us that “Prominent Democratic operative Howard Wolfson is advising Ned Lamont's candidacy for governor of Connecticut, adding a high-profile element to what is rapidly shaping up to be one of the most interesting Democratic primaries in the country in 2010.”

“Wolfson comes to Lamont directly from his role as the senior strategist of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid for a third term, a race that the media tycoon spent more than $100 million on to win by five points.”

In …

SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE, A VIEW INTO OUR FUTURE

Karyn Frist, an American, had just given birth at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, England. She and her husband, William H. Frist, MD, were in England, he on a seven-month assignment from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Frist, for his chief residency in cardiothoracic surgery, would be exposed to non-heart aspects of chest surgery. He would encounter a variety of heart and lung pathologies doctors rarely see in the United States. Dr. Frist would be the senior registrar, “who assumed major responsibility and performed all of the surgical cases; he or she ran the surgical clinics, [and] made all major clinical decisions.”

After that, he would be specializing in heart transplantation at Stanford University Medical Center at Palo Alto. After that, he would be the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.

The British nationalized health care in 1948. In Southampton, Dr. Frist, assigned to the Western Thoracic Hospital, notes some striking impressions in his new (and…

Lauds At Rell Leave-Taking

One way to gain friends and influence people in the opposing camp, if you are a governor, is to leave office. This will please the opposition, particularly if you happen to be popular. As governor, Jodi Rell was more popular with Connecticut voters than any of the Democrats presently in the gubernatorial field.

It is therefore not surprising that when Rell decided not to pursue another run as governor, reporters beating the bushes to find someone in the Democratic camp who might be willing to say something pleasant about the departing governor were amply rewarded.

According to one report, Rell was a “fair-minded leader driven not by ideology but rather by old-fashioned common sense.” She was a “moderate,” which is far better than being a “conservative,” though lately the word “conservative” has been drained of much of its venom, particularly when it is forced to march hand in hand with the word “fiscal,” as in “fiscal conservative.”

Former Speaker of the House Jim Amann, now running fo…