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Showing posts from January, 2011

Energy Needs And The Collapse Of Connecticut

Energy is that stuff used to drive commerce. It is costly here in Connecticut, so we are told by suddenly cost conscious legislators. There are three ways to bring down the cost of energy: 1) the supply may be increased; 2) the demand may be reduced; 3) the attorney general may put pressure on the relevant regulatory agency to disallow price increases. The second is insufficient; the third is disruptive and laughable.

In 2000, it was thought deregulation would reduce the price of energy in Connecticut by expanding the number of suppliers offering energy to the state. To this end, a bill was produced facilitating deregulation. The two major energy producers in Connecticut, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, were asked how much the deregulation effort would cost. The cost was pegged at about $1.7 billion, and the legislature set about raising the funds to pay for deregulation. The General Assembly decided to pay the cost by issuing bonds, the bonds being securitized…

REGULATORY COMPETITIVENESS AND REGULATORY AGENCY EXCESSES

Twenty-eight years ago, on January 28, the space shuttle Challenger exploded. For want of asbestos, the putty did not work. For want of reliable putty, the O rings did not hold. For want of reliable O rings, the Challenger exploded, 73 seconds after lift-off in freezing weather 25 years ago.

Asbestos was used in adhesives for strengthening and fireproofing and many other essential functions. It was used in electric hair driers, which the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) thought unsafe and banned it. The company that was manufacturing O rings for NASA’s space shuttles then went out of business. NASA had to try to find a substitute.

The O rings might have held had the outside temperature been warmer (it was 32 degrees). The freezing temperature, CPSC’s ban on asbestos, and NASA managers’ decision to not postpone takeoff, caused the Challenger’s explosion.

The reason for hurtful regulations like CPSC’s is monopolistic federal regulators acting under the precautionary principl…

Suzio, Bruenn And The Gay Charge

Early in January, Laurie Rich Salerno posted a story in Meriden Patch concerning the nomination of Democrat Thomas Bruenn to fill a seat in the state senate left vacant by state Sen. Thomas Gaffey, who quit the senate after having been arrested on larceny charges that he improperly used his own PAC funds to pay for trips he also billed to the state over several years.

Mr. Bruenn and the Republican nominee for the seat, Len Suzio, who lost to Mr. Gaffey in the recent election, are not strangers to each other. Before the nominations were settled, Mr. Bruenn said of Mr. Suzio, “If I do get the entire nomination from the delegation of the 13th District [and Suzio does as well] I look forward to having discussions with Len Suzio...he and I worked on the BOE together. We know each other and we get along well for the most part."

Mr. Suzio, a fourteen year veteran of the Board of Education in Meriden, was equally complimentary of Mr. Bruenn, a 37-year Platt High School math teacher, now …

On Drafting Martha Dean

I have been asked to “like” a page on Facebook that seeks to draft Martha Dean for the U.S. Senate. Without question, I think Mrs. Dean would make a fine senator, a necessary balance in the congress to a left of center New England contingent. However, it will not do to over look hurdles before attemptiung to overleap them.

If principled conservatives and libertarians are to become serious about winning office, they cannot continue to will the end without willing the means.

Many of them, standing on principle, have declined to accept public financing of campaigns; their Democratic opponents, the servants of other principles, have no such scruples. Money is the means of winning campaigns; more than that, it is the means to transport a message to people who may be confused by possibly false messages relayed to voters by opponents and a sometimes hostile media.

Let’s suppose the end a principled conservative or libertarian has in mind is this: to end the public financing of campaigns. Th…

The Last Laugh -- January

January came in like a lion and went out like a lion, leaving behind in its wake a pile of snow and bone chilling winds that would make even the most fervent acolyte of global warming curse Al Gore, the high priest of the cult. GW cultists these days insist on calling their peculiar faith “climate change,” which is probably what Mr. Mark Twain had in mind when he said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute; it’ll change,” or words to that effect. A neighbor across the lake, Tony Procrastinate (not his real name) who has just given up the last of the New Year’s resolutions he made at the beginning of the month, insists that Winter dumped three feet of snow on his property, and it is pointless to try to convince him that his snow footage is an accumulative figure, the present couple of feet having been added to the unshoveled couple of feet left over from the last storm. Mr. Procrastinate neglected to clean up his property last time because… well, he had turn…

Bernier’s In

In a Media release, Justin Bernier today announced his Campaign for the U.S. Congress. Mr. Bernier will be speaking today at 3:30 on WTIC-1080’s “Church and State” program.

In a video message to supporters, Bernier said “the American Dream is on hold” because of policies that have expanded government without solving problems. The Republican candidate delivered an optimistic message about the need to “renew America’s greatness” through limited government, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise.

“Prosperity is possible again,” said Bernier. “We can take the American dream off of hold if we use commonsense solutions. Americans can create jobs if the government lets them get to work.”

Bernier’s proposed solutions include new health care reforms, deficit reduction measures, tax reforms, an “all of the above” energy strategy, and a trade policy that finally gets tough with foreign governments who block American-made products. Bernier said Congress must also address the skyrocketing cost o…

Governor Malloy’s Budget Intentions

Governor Dannel Malloy announced in a meeting with his commissioners of state agencies that he would cut $2 billion from the projected annual costs of state services. Mr. Malloy proposes to eliminate 55% of the state’s deficit with spending cuts and 45% with tax increases.

Three points ought to be considered. First, the state debt Mr. Malloy hopes to discharge with his particular distribution of spending cuts to tax increases is a projected deficit. In the past, such projections have not been accurate. The final figures for the next few fiscal years may be higher.

Second, just as a man is no island unto himself but each is a part of the whole, so no state is an island unto itself. Mr. Malloy has said or implied repeatedly, both before and after his election, that his approach to budget matters will make Connecticut competitive with other states or, at the very least, will not tilt the economic playing field in favor of competing states, so that the flow of business, entrepreneurial an…

Susan Bysiewicz’s Prospects

Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz decided she would like to be governor and then changed her mind after former Sen. Chris Dodd declined to defend his seat. Without leaving his position as attorney general, Richard Blumenthal ran for Mr. Dodd’s seat and won, leaving open an attorney general slot that Mrs. Bysiewicz coveted. She announced for the position, but her candidacy was derailed in the course of her campaign by a Supreme Court finding that Mrs. Bysiewicz did not have the proper years in service as a lawyer in “active practice” to assume the position of attorney general.

Along the way, other difficulties arose, many of which have been covered in some detail by Connecticut’s media.

The database of potential voters Mrs. Bysiewicz had assembled while Secretary of State was embarrassing at best, and an insufficient number of ballots supplied to Bridgeport during the recently concluded election turned some arch criticism her way.

But Mrs. Bysiewicz is bleeding from other wound…

Malloy, Blumenthal Rule Out Declaration Of Bankruptcy

Both Connecticut's new governor, Dannel Malloy, and its new U.S. Senator, Dick Blumenthal, have put the kabosh on the possibility of bankruptcy for the state as a means of settling its deepening debts, according to Mark Davis of News Channel 8.

Mr. Blumenthal, no longer loking for someone to sue since he moved from the attorney’s general office, said "States really need to cut spending and put their fiscal houses in order without resorting to mass insolvency.”

Governor Malloy, who previously has acknowledged that Connecticut’s per capita is worse than California’s, agreeed with Mr. Blumenthal.

"Connecticut,” the governor said, “is looking to embrace, not to escape the responsibilities of sound financial management. We will honor our obligations and do not intend to support proposals that would enable states to avail themselves of bankruptcy."

Should a state declare bankruptcy, its financial obligations fallinto the hands if judges who are able to order changes in pa…

Nader Hearts Curry, Harpoons Dodd, Lieberman

A bit like the batty uncle in the attic with a shotgun, Ralph Nader is unsafe in any conversation.

No politician in Connecticut has been Naderish enough for the consumer protection scold; not Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose liberal rating in the congress has been respectable, and not Sen. Chris Dodd, the author of the small business-crippling Dodd-Frank bill. That bill may not impede Big Business, which has time and lawyers enough to cut deals with obliging senators. From the point of view of companies too large to fail, one of the purposes of Byzantine legislation – the Dodd-Frank Bill is a prolix 2,319 pages long -- is to squeeze out smaller competition though costly regulation while at the same time allowing preferments from legislators whose campaigns are financed by Big Business lobbyists.

Nader, naturally, was happy to see the end of Mr. Lieberman’s career in the senate, nor did he cry crocodile tears when Mr. Dodd threw in the towel.

“He couldn't leave the Senate fast enough as f…

Lieberman Leaves

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s post mortem began even before he officially announced his retirement.

Here in Connecticut, a politically battered Susan Bysiewicz rushed to announce in advance of U.S. Reps. Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney her availability for the seat hours after she had told bewildered reporters and commentators she would be spending the next few years ensconced in her new job with a prestigious law firm, drying out from a recent political dunking and acquiring active experience before the state’s bar. Mrs. Bysiewicz has been portrayed in the state’s media as an ambitious Lady Macbeth, but she probably is not much more ambitious than the usual political specimen.

Well… maybe a wee bit.

Connecticut can expect the same scramble for political crumbs that occurred when U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd announced his retirement. The frantic melee would be a little less over the edge if the state had term limits, a process that would allow a more dignified free for all. The present political rumble…

EPA CAUSES UNEMPLOYMENT, RAISES COSTS

The Environmental Protection Agency has revoked a water permit for a mining project issued in 2007 by the Army Corps of Engineers. It blocks $250 million in investment and costs 250 jobs. It is in the coal-mining area of West Virginia and involves removal of a mountain top. EPA, as is its custom, says science required the revocation.

Other firms wonder if their permits will be revoked. This revocation is in line with EPA’s regulatory excess and its anti-energy bias.

EPA is among the most imperious of the regulatory agencies, arising from the vagueness of Congress’s laws and orders, and Congress’s having abrogated oversight of the regulatory process. But if Congress is reforming, there are ways to rein them in, according to The Wall Street Journal January. 14 editorial. One is to enact the “Executive In Need Of Scrutiny (Reins) Act,” proposed by Senators DeMint and Davis.

Among these unelected agencies, scarcely a week goes by without EPA’s regulatory carcinogen witch-hunt to remove P…

Governor Malloy On Connecticut’s Economic Doldrums

Gov. Dannel Malloy appeared recently at the editorial offices of the New London Day, where he unburdened himself cautiously on matters involving taxing and spending:

“’We have people who for political reasons are inserting uncertainty into the bond market, and we’re seeing the bond market reflect that,’ Malloy said. He went on to criticize some of [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie’s other recent exhortations to fellow Republicans to hang tough against established interests and to eliminate tenure for schoolteachers.

“’Hopefully I take a slightly more intellectual approach to this discussion than Governor Christie has demonstrated,’ Malloy said, adding that his counterpart ‘certainly understands the nuts and bolts portion of it.’

“’There are proven economic theories about sustaining economic growth, and we ignore those theories that have proven themselves at our own peril,’ Malloy said.

“’We’re going to see large-scale additional unemployment caused by governmental entities: local govern…

Powell On Malloy s Brain Trust

Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer Chris Powell, the George Patton of the reality movement in Connecticut politics, examined a report issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Brain Trust and found it “shocking for its obliviousness.”

The report, Powell argues, renews commitments to failed programs and did not recommend “a single important change that might save big money and help restore solvency to state government.”

While the report acknowledges that Connecticut’s formula for municipal educational financing is broken, “… the formula, while often adjusted, has accomplished exactly what it was created to do: send more money to poverty-infested cities. This has achieved only prosperity for city school employees, not any improvement in educational outcomes."

There is little direct connection between money spent on education and educational outcomes:

“But then the problem with educational outcomes has never been the aid formula. The problem has always been the premise that student per…

Obama And Palin

Victor David Hanson writes most persuasively about war and peace, more often than not two sides to a similar coin: Long periods of peace in history often follow decisive wars.

Here Mr. David Hanson scrolls out some highly objectionable quotes from President Barack Obama – nice to have in an rhetorical ammo dump (please forgive the metaphor) when recent converts to bi-partisanship begin to chafe under assaults (forgive the metaphor) from their opponents:

“There is much talk that Sarah Palin’s ‘crosshairs’ ad pushed Loughner over the edge. But if sloppy use of gun metaphors can drive anyone to shoot congressional representatives, think what we are up against when the president of the United States invokes violent imagery to galvanize his supporters. What are we to make of Obama’s warning of ‘hand-to-hand combat’ if the Republicans take over; or his comment that one of his supporters could ‘tear [Sean Hannity] up’; or his Untouchables boast that ‘if they bring a knife to the fight, we bri…

Taxes And Spending: How Much?

The most important question to be decided when Gov. Dannel Malloy presents his budget to the legislature in February is: How much? What will the distribution of spending and tax cuts be like?

Mr. Malloy has said often enough, during and after his campaign, that the budget nut – a $3.5 million deficit in each of the next three years -- will be hard to crack. Both spending cuts, generally referred to by Democrats as “painful,” and tax increases, possibly less painful for a Democratic caucus that under the leadership of Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President of the Senate Don Williams has tended to trim its politics to union interests, are in the offing.

Republicans in the legislature certainly will offer a stiff resistance to tax increases, which are regarded in GOP quarters and many places in the world outside Connecticut as business disincentives. But Mr. Malloy, Mr. Donovan and Mr. Williams may well ask in this regard: How many battalions do Republicans have? In Connecticut…

U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro’s Former Chief Of Staff Found Dead

Roll Call is reporting that former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro Ashley Turton was found dead in her car Monday morning.

“Ashley Turton, former chief of staff to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and wife of White House liaison to the House of Representatives Dan Turton, was found dead in her car Monday morning, according to a source..."Metropolitan Police Lt. Nicholas Breul said there is a joint investigation into the cause of the accident. Homicide detectives have been called to the scene.

“'This could be just a tragic freak accident,' Breul said. 'And that’s why we’re crossing our i’s and dotting our t’s because it is a little freaky, and we need to figure out why. But there is no indication now that there was any crime.'” 
Update: MPD has issued a statement saying the death is being investigated as an accident:

"On Monday, January 10, 2011, at approximately, 4:45 a.m., the driver of a 2008 BMW X-5 crashed into the interior of a garage of a residence in t…

Rennie Sniffs Out Gaffey, Williams

Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie, whose nose is extremely sensitive, smells something fishy in the relationship between former eight-term state Sen. Thomas Gaffey and state Senate President Donald Williams.

After recently running for re-election to his seat and winning, Mr. Gaffey quit the senate when he was convicted of having used his own PAC funds to pay for trips that he also billed to the state over several years. It appears the double billing may have been occasioned by Mr. Gaffey’s fondness for a fetching lady.

A second girlfriend, Mr. Rennie reported, also tapped into Mr. Gaffey’s affections:

“Connecticut State University System Associate Vice Chancellor for Government Relations and Communication Jill Ferraiolo employed her charms to make Gaffey the chief and relentless advocate for a $1 billion blank check in public funds for CSU to spend on construction at its four campuses.”Far from recoiling in horror at Mr. Gaffey’s indiscreet petty larceny, his influential friend i…

Mapping Malloy's Victory

Pictures, it is said, are worth a thousand words. And so is the red-blue map taken from the pages of the Register Citizen. The map shows towns in Connecticut in which citizens cast votes in the 2010 gubernatorial election for either Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy (Blue) or Republican Party challenger Tom Foley (Red). Mr. Foley won in 126 towns, while Mr. Malloy won in 43 towns, prominent among them Connecticut’s large cities, Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

Excluding the three major cities won by Mr. Malloy, Mr. Foley led Mr. Malloy by a 51 to 47 percent margin, according to the paper.

Barry Goldwater, the conservative presidential candidate and precursor to President Ronald Reagan who peeked too early, is famous for having said about California and New England, two areas of the country that seem always to vote reflexively for the most liberal candidates, that if you exclude them “… you have a pretty good country.”

Voters living in the 126 red indicated towns might be forgiven …

Lieberman's Future

Four commentators – Duby McDowell of the Laurel , Rick Green of the Hartford Courant , Brian Flaherty, a former Republican state representative, and Tom Dudchik of Capitol Report -- got together several days ago at Dennis House’s house, Face the State on WFSB, to review the old year and plot Sen. Joe Lieberman’s future.

Poor Joe’s future, all agreed, was dismal.

Pretty much all House’s guests thought Mr. Lieberman MIGHT defend his seat, the senator having teased several reporters and commentators that a run was not altogether out of the question. The consensus appeared to be that Mr. Lieberman would not be nominated by his party; apparently, Rep. Chris Murphy has stolen the party’s heart, and progressive Democrats are especially hot on him, while their reaction to Mr. Lieberman has been considerably cooler.

Ever since Mr. Lieberman lost to progressive heart throb Ned Lamont in a previous Democratic Party primary and soldiered on to defeat the Great Progressive Hope in a general electi…