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Showing posts from March, 2010

IS EDUCATION IMPROVING?

Learning in K-12 is not improving. Announced last week are the latest NAEP reading scores for 4th grade--they remain unchanged—and for the 8th grade—up only one point in a year. For both subjects, scores are up only 4 points since 1992. The scores are bad news for the long-term growth of our economy.

Learning is not going up but spending is. Education spending in the U.S. on K-12 has gone up from $375 per pupil to $9,305 between 1960 to 2005.

It has been established for decades that more money does not mean more learning. More money is also not the solution for poor-performing schools. In the Kansas City District, judicial mandates forced Missouri state taxpayers to finance the schools well above the national average. There were Olympic-size swimming pools, Montessori schools, and performing arts schools to attract students from the suburbs.

But in ten years enrollment was down by half as 18,000 students dropped out for charter schools and the suburbs. The buildings are half empty.…

What? Me Worry?

How worried should politicians be over the Tea Party Patriot movement?

They should worry.

Critics of the movement tend to focus on the theatrics involved: the signs the crowds, the UTube clips. But this is a genuine grass roots movement. And, of course, the object of any movement is to move things, to effect change. Sober politicians would do well to take note. It’s a movement still in its early stages, unattached to particular persons. That does not mean that it is a disorganized movement. Not to make any direct comparisons, but the original Boston tea party sprang from a sense of frustrated helplessness. And before what later came to be called the American Revolution took shape, the resistance was an emotive idea that burned in the brains of Sam Adams and others like him.

The movement is being pushing forward by a settled sense that principles to which most Americans have given their internal asset are being violated with impunity.

One principle is that power should not overflow i…

The View From Cuba

Retired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro issued a report card of sorts on the administration of President Barack Obama from his perch in the state controlled media where he maintains a column.

Sad to say, relations between Cuba and the United States have soured – again – after an impertinent American bureaucrat announced the United States was alarmed by Cuba’s treatment of its prisoners, one of whom died in February after a long hunger strike.

Castro and Cuba, a distinction without a difference, were irked when Cuba was included earlier in the year on a list of countries the United States considers state sponsors of terrorism.

In an essay at the end of March, Castro characterized Obama as a "fanatic believer in capitalist imperialism" but Castro folded a few sweets into his column, praising Obama "unquestionably intelligent. I hope that the stupid things he sometimes says about Cuba don't cloud over that intelligence.”

In his lengthy piece, Castro praised Obama for havi…

The Expropriations Committee

Those hands you feel in your pocket are attached to the arms of Toni Harp and John Geragosian, co-chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee that, in view of the debt the state of Connecticut now is carrying, one wag suggested should be re-named the Expropriations Committee.

Responding to Gov. M. Jodi Rell's budget, Democratic legislators voted Thursday to increase spending by $373 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1.”

Senate GOP leader John McKinney’s brain was boggled by the news.

“They actually increase spending. It's mind-boggling. This budget is dead on arrival,” news of a demise that well might be premature.

Republicans said the spending boost was irresponsible in view of projected deficits of more than $350 million in the current fiscal year and an estimated $700 million in the next fiscal year.

If there is any lingering doubt that the state legislature rather than the governor shapes the budget, this highly irresponsible move by a spending addicted De…

Just Shut Up

Rick Green, a Hartford Courant columnist and blogger, reports on his blog CTConfidential that “Rowdy students prevented New Canaan's Ann Coulter from speaking in Ottawa” Canada, and he added “That will stop her” in apparent approval.

Closer to home, UConn students successfully blocked Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton  from speaking on campus.

Coulter said later that the Canadian university that scheduled her to speak was a second rate institution, and Boughton, who is running for governor on the Republican ticket this year, politely protested his exclusion from a law school panel before which he had been invited to speak. Boughten did not characterize UConn as a second rate college.


Canada, more or less patterned after European models, has no First Amendment rights. Mark Steyn, a Canadian writer much published here in the land of Jefferson and Madison, has had a tougher time of it in Canada, where a quasi governmental agency – the amusingly miss-named Canadian Human Rights Commission -…

Healy Calls Upon Blumenthal To Join Suit Against Health Care Bill

Republican Party Chairmen Chris Healy has challenged Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to join other attorneys general in Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota in a federal law suit to prevent the implementation of the health care reform bill to be signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Healy said the bulky and costly bill, which bears a $2 trillion price tag, would greatly impact Connecticut’s financial ability to meet its requirements. Additional, Healy said, the bill is in sharp conflict with the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

“Where is Dick Blumenthal when we need him?” asked Healy in a press release. “Our attorney general should put partisan politics aside and protect our rights as pa…

The Health Care Vote, One giant Step for Medical Central Planning

The partisan vote on the Obama-Pelosi healthcare bill was, to borrow an out of space analogy, one small step for health care, one giant step for universal health care coverage.

Two of Connecticut’s U.S. House Reps. secure in their sinecures -- John Larson of the impregnable 1st District and Rosa DeLauro of the 3rd District, both Democratic bastions -- sensed as much as the vote drew to a close.

DeLauro was especially ebullient, jumping up and down, flashing that world conquering smile of her’s, her noggin spinning with the heady perfume of victory. Larson, about to burst into song – Happy Days Are Hear Again – contended himself with “We are happy warriors!”

President Barrack Obama and his Chicago gang – one of whom is shown above in a suggestive pose – watched the vote countdown from the Roosevelt Room in the White House. When the vote total hit 216, there were, according to propaganda chief Robert Gibbs, "cheers and clapping ... high five for Rahm, hugs all around."

The m…

Martha Dean Launches Bid For Attorney General

Attorney Martha Dean, running for attorney general on the Republican ticket this year, realizes that the office is not, and cannot be, an island unto itself.

Unlike Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, against whom she ran and lost in 2003, Dean feels that the attorney general operation has evolved into a shapeless island unto itself whose punitive litigation deeply affects the mainland.

During a recent televised debate with Blumenthal, Merrick Alpert – a Democrat who apparently has been banned from speaking to some town committees from fear that his message will damage Blumenthal’s prospects – pointedly asked Blumenthal “How many jobs have your suits created?” to which Blumenthal responded, “Our law suits, our legal actions, actually create jobs, because businesses actually welcome competition and a level playing field.”

A request from the judicial department detailing companies sued by Blumenthal during the past four years produced a list containing 900 entries of corporations in wh…

The Democratic Caucus: What To Do?

Either one of the flies on the wall of the Democratic caucus is “deep throat” or the caucus is cautiously leaking information so as to test the viability of its proposals among voters who this year are in a throw-the-bums-out mood, probably the latter.

The Democratic caucus is that institution in Connecticut that, in the absence of a strong Republican governor, is the real author of the state’s unbalanced budgets.

“In a closed-door meeting,” CTMirror reports, “the 114-member caucus came down strongly against any deep cuts in spending, particularly those aimed at social services and health care, caucus leaders said. But with the exception of an estate tax hike worth about $70 million annually, House Democrats were equally reluctant to sign onto further tax increases.

"’I don't think the stomach is there for taxes,’ one caucus member said privately. But the stomach isn't there for cuts, either, the member said. ‘We're stuck.’

"’I think people realize we need to do …

The Bysiewicz Bout, Dean Announces

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz continues to be roughly handled by… pretty much everyone.

The latest round concerns the now infamous “list” of persons seeking help of one kind or another from the secretary of state. Bysiewicz shared her list with people on her campaign committee who might have used it, were they so disposed, to solicit contributions for their boss.

Investigative journalist for the Harford Courant Jon Lender asked in a Sunday story “Why No Republican Delegates On Bysiewicz List?”

One reasonable answer would appear to be: Republicans are not disposed to surrender campaign contributions to Democrats – unless they are un-protesting Republican state union workers a portion of whose dues generally go to Democratic candidates or RINO Republicans who, for all practical purposes, are indistinguishable from their Democratic confreres.

State judiciary committee co-chairman Michael Lawlor, who along with his confrere Andrew McDonald a year ago attempted to pass legislation that…

BPA, A CASUALTY OF THE WAR ON CHEMICALS

BPA, Bisphenol-A, is a chemical used in the manufacture of shatter-proof plastic in baby bottles and in resin coatings that protect canned food and vegetables. It is also used in eyeglass lenses, bike helmets, and electronic circuit boards. It is also present in dental fillings, CDs, Blackberries, cell phones, and medical devices. It is ubiquitous.

But it “may” harm human development, says the Environmental Working Group, which has directed a campaign against it since 2007. EWG claimed that the CDC, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found detectable levels of BPA in the urine of 93 % of Americans over the age of six.

But virtually every chemical can be detected in urine and blood, according to Dr. Gilbert Ross, Medical Director of ACSH, the American Council of Science and Health. That does not mean that they are harmful, says the CDC. And the levels that leach into food or drink are so incredibly small that they can barely be measured.

A study by the Harvard Schoo…

Dan And Ned

If by the intervention of heaven a Democrat becomes the next governor, he must not imagine that the problems besetting outgoing Governor Jodi Rell will magically disappear. They will not.

The legislature is dominated by Democrats. A Democratic governor will find himself surrounded by members of his own party who appear to be motivated by concerns that do not include, for instance, reducing state spending by 15%.

Here is a partial list of the past and immediate concerns of members of the Democratic dominated legislature:

• How do I get re-elected?

• How do I discharge a looming $6 to $8 billion state deficit, not to mention the state’s $ 56 billion debt in pension obligations, without inconveniencing state workers whose support is needed to accomplish my re-election?

• How do I fleece the remaining millionaires in the state without driving them to, say, Texas or Florida?

• Assuming Rell will be replaced by a Democrat with a heart of solid oak, who can I blame for the logical consequence…

UTC, Slip Sliding Away

The lede graph in a Hartford Courant story detailing a meeting held with Wall Street Journal analysts and leaders of United Technologies was not encouraging:

"’Anyplace outside of Connecticut is low-cost,’ United Technologies Corp.'s chief financial officer, Gregory Hayes, told Wall Street analysts -- paraphrasing previous remarks by another UTC executive, Jeff Pino, the president of Sikorsky Aircraft. ‘Even if work has to stay in the U.S., there are opportunities to reduce cost by moving out of those high-cost locations,’ Hayes said.”

UTC executives hosted the analysts at a meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan devoted to the company’s business prospects in 2010.

Both the conversation with Wall Street analysts and UTC’s previous contacts with administration officials in Connecticut indicate the company may plan to shift jobs from Connecticut to lower cost facilities in both foreign ouptposts – India, Poland, China, Turkey, Istanbul, Singapore, Japan – and out of sta…

Dean To Announce Candidacy For Attorney General

Attorney Martha Dean will launch her campaign for attorney general on March 16, 2010 from the state Capitol’s North steps at high noon.

Dean was the Republican nominee for attorney general in 2002 when she faced off against Richard Blumenthal.

“The state of Connecticut,” Dean said in a short pre-announcement release, “is entering a full-blown crisis. For the people of Connecticut, the scope of this crisis means that the quality of the people who we elect this year is more important than ever.

"We are in an economic crisis, a cultural crisis, and a leadership crisis. As attorney general of Connecticut, I promise to work with other state officials to take the legal steps necessary to save this great State and see it safely to the high ground of competitiveness and prosperity.”

On the Democratic side, there are numerous contenders for the position, which opened up after Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced he would abandon 20 year hold on the office after his term ended to…

Rotation And Term Limits: Build Soil

We all know what happened last year: U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd moved out of his sinecure, for reasons he prefers to keep private, as a result of which a spot opened up, a breach in the political universe. Into this vacuum rushed a number of Republicans and Democrats, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whom some thought immovable.

Democratic power brokers had for a number of years attempted to tempt Blumenthal from his seat, all without effect. They wanted him to run for governor. He gave off indications that this notion might be acceptable to him, always withdrawing at the last moment with a bow and an enigmatic smile: Thanks but no thanks. Reading his intentions was always a bit like interpreting the ambiguous oracle of Delphi which, depending upon one’s ambition and the bribe one could afford to pay the priestess in charge, could either mean declare war or sue for peace. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman had been badly wounded in a primary skirmish with Ned Lamont, currently running…

Bysiewicz Nota Bene

Following is an excerpt from a Hartford Courant story detailing politically useful notes that Susan Bysiewicz overlaid on her data base of business clients, innocent schleppers who wrote to Bysiewicz in her capacity as Secretary of State soliciting her help on various matters:

“It says Kevin Donohue of Columbia is ‘Bill Curry's Cousin; Influenced by Edith Prague; Works in Windham.' Curry is a former Democratic state comptroller who ran unsuccessfully for governor. Prague, a Democratic state senator from Columbia, when told of the notation Tuesday said, 'That's hysterical.’

“It contains this description of a now-dead Democrat who held municipal office in the Naugatuck River Valley: ‘White beard; Former teacher; Likes attention ...’

“It says former New Canaan Councilwoman Ruth Smithers ‘loves George Jepsen.’ Jepsen is now one of Bysiewicz's opponents for the Democratic nomination for attorney general — an office being vacated by Blumenthal, who is running for U.S. Sen…

Penn Hearts Chavez

The political love affair between American actor Sean Penn and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez continues apace.

Fox News reports that “If Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had his way, any journalist who called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez a dictator would quickly find himself behind bars.”

Pillow Talk, Rosa And Stan

A new poll released by The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey last Monday  finds that Americans think the standing of the United States has dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama's presidency. The poll shows a drop of 10 points from 51 percent to 41 percent. The Democracy Corp was co-founded by Stanley B. Greenberg, U.S. Rep. Rosa Delauro’s husband, and James Carville.

The survey also notes with alarm the Democrat’s national security deficit figure is up.

“While ratings for the president may be softening, his party is facing an even more troubling trend. When the questions move beyond the president to Democrats generally, we see that the public once again has real and rising doubts about the Democrats’ handling of national security issues, as compared to their faith in Republicans. This security gap, which has roots stretching back to Vietnam, was as wide as 29 points earlier in the decade. The deficit began to close in 2006, with the Bush administration’s catastrophic misma…

A Blumenthal-Schiff Cage Match

A debate card featuring Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now running for the U.S. Senate seat Chris Dodd intends to vacate at the end of his term, and Peter Schiff, Connecticut’s economic Cassandra, would be far more interesting than the debate concluded March 1 between Blumenthal and incrementalist averse Merrick Alpert.

Debates that include candidates on fire always are spectacles worth our time. Americans, certainly more often than the British, tend to confuse passion with authenticity, and there is little doubt that Alpert was, in his debate with Blumenthal, a man aflame. Perhaps fortunately for the attorney general, Blumenthal may not have to debate Alpert again.

When the Republican debate rolled around at the university a day later, media adepts who had been expecting rhetorical fisticuffs between senatorial hopefuls Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, both of whom had been peppering each other with e-mails and press releases, were disappointed and deflated. They had been expecti…

Blumenthal And The Farmer’s Rebellion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is also running for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat in the congress, appears to be stepping away from a measure he supported banning wood furnaces following an announcement that The Connecticut Farm Bureau Association based in Windsor opposes the outright ban, according to a story in the Norwich Bulletin.

The Bulletin reported, “Blumenthal softened his stance after Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, who is vice chairman of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee, pledged to work for stricter regulations short of an outright ban.”

Members of the New London Farm Bureau Association, 691 strong, want bill 126, which they oppose, to be fast-tracked. The bureau feels that farmers, according to the story, “must defend the general public against economic hardship that would result from the bill’s enactment. The bill contains an exemption for farmers, but the farmers are fighting it anyway.”

It is doubtful that the farmers will march on the state Capit…

Lamont To Accept Endorsement of Williams

According to reporter and blogger Brian Lockhart, Ned Lamont, a declared Democratic candidate for governor, will be in Putnam on Thursday to accept the endorsement of Senate President Donald Williams who, along with Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, presided over a budget negotiation last fiscal year that left the state about a half billion dollars in arrears.

Williams issued a statement:
“Ned has the experience, vision, and courage to hit the ground running on his first day as Governor. As a successful business owner, he’s got what it takes to bring stable, good-paying jobs back to the Quiet Corner and the rest of the state. And he’s proven he is capable of bringing people together to get the best results for Connecticut families. Ned built a thriving business from the ground up – he’s the one we need to generate economic expansion, create jobs and rebuild Connecticut.”

Blumenthal’s Suits

Following Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s debate with Merrick Alpert at the University of Hartford, most press reports quoted Blumenthal on the role he claims to have played in facilitating business in Connecticut through suits:

Alpert: "… we have less jobs since he’s been in office. I would ask one question of the attorney general: How many jobs have your suits created?"

Blumenthal: "… Our law suits, our legal actions, actually create jobs, because businesses actually welcome competition and a level playing field.”

There follows a list of corporations in which the plaintiff has had an AG appearance. The list covers only the time from 1/1/07 to the present. The list includes, in this order: the company name, followed by the court docket number, followed by the case name.

A compehensive and readable list may be found here.

The list is continued here.

Martha Dean Enters Race For Attorney General

Attorney Martha Dean, the Republican nominee for attorney general in 2002, will soon make a formal announcement that she has entered the race for attorney general.

Attorney Dean’s practice is devoted to assisting clients in understanding and complying with complex regulatory schemes while furthering their state and federal constitutional economic and individual rights.

Attorney Dean is co-founder of the Hartford Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, a national organization of law students, law professors, lawyers and judges who sponsor panel discussions and debates with leading scholars and authorities on important public policy issues of the day. She is a graduate of Wellesley College ‘82, and the University Of Connecticut School Of Law ‘86, where she was an editor on the Law Review. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar (1986), U.S. District Court (Connecticut) (1995), U.S. Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) (2000), and the U.S. Supreme Court (2…

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS

Private health-insurance companies, to be raising premiums by 39%? Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave the breaking news that WellPoint, which owns the Anthem Blue Cross of California, was rich. It made $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009, which could not, she asserted, “justify massive increases,” and she announced a hearing.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared it was “greedy insurance companies that care more about profits than people.” Representative Henry Waxman announced his own additional Federal investigation.

President Obama expanded. It’s a “portrait of the future if we don’t do something now.” (Or is it a portrait of the future if they pass ObamaCare?) The President’s proposal, revealed a few days later, would add a new bureaucracy to his administration, the Health Insurance Rate Agency (HIRE), to wrestle with corporate greed and stifle premiums. This was a welcome opportunity to control the insurance industry.

“The WellPoint Mugging…

the Alpert-Blumenthal Debate

Comments on the Alpert-Blumenthal debate at the University of Hartford are now dribbling in.

One money quote used in most press reports concerned the role played by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in generating business for Connecticut:

“Alpert: … we have less jobs since he’s been in office. I would ask one question of the attorney general: How many jobs have your suits created?

“Blumenthal: … Our law suits, our legal actions, actually create jobs, because businesses actually welcome competition and a level playing field.”Lori Perez of Fox 61 Live noted that, following the debate, “Richard Blumenthal… could not stay to talk to the press.” He was due at a money throwing gathering downstate.

Kevin Rennie, a Hartford Courant commentator was unimpressed by Blumenthal’s performance:

“Easy victories in 20 years of races for attorney general have taken a toll on Richard Blumenthal’s debating skills. There were moments in tonight’s Hartford Courant-Fox61 Democratic senate debate when the sta…