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Showing posts from March, 2011

U.S. Rep. John Larson and the Tea Party

Detained by two reporters before he entered a closed door session of the Democratic caucus, U.S. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. John Larson let loose a string of metaphors on the Tea Party movement.
Politico described the interview as “…an 11-minute, metaphor-laced talk.”

Mr. Larson, who runs the Democratic caucus in the House, was identified by Politico as “the top communications arm for the party in Congress.”

Some of Mr. Larson’s metaphors were meteorological:

"And this week we're told that the tea party will bring yet another cold front to Washington, D.C. And in doing so, it's our understanding that the Republican leaders are standing back and looking to see what kind of shadow is cast to see whether or not we'll have six more weeks of continuing resolution."

Republicans, the Democratic caucus leader said, haven't created "one single job." Their attitude, since recapturing the U.S. House in the last elections, owing partially to an invig…

Lifting The Veil

The promo for WNPR’s “Lifting The Veil” conference at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) promised:

• “A prominent political figure grills political reporters (how’s it feel now?)
• New media organizations team up on high-quality, investigative journalism
• An influential national reporter covers one of the toughest beats: The media.”

As it turned out, the prominent political figure grilling reporters was Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s inoffensive left of center heartthrob described in the promo as:

“…an upstart challenger to Senator Joe Lieberman, he rallied an online base of support that allowed him to beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary, and barely lose that seat to the Senator in November. In 2010, he ran a tight race for the Democratic nomination for governor. All along the way, he had to face tough questions from the capitol press corps, local and national talk show hosts, bloggers and thousands of others.”The reporters Mr. Lamont turned the tables on were, for the most p…

Markley, The Fly In The Ointment

Newly elected State Sen. Joe Markley has now officially become a fly in the ointment.

"For a guy who has got a $3.3 billion [deficit] in next year's [budget], $647 [million] in this year's would be a concern, I can assure you. I am well aware of it," said Governor Dannel Malloy of himself while making his rounds of towns on his listening tour.

Mr. Markley’s suit, which is centered on a tax/fee Connecticut has attached to electric bills, is holding up bonding money and, for this reason, the state has asked Connecticut’s Supreme Court to expedite its decision.

State Treasurer Denise Nappier has delayed issuing bonds to cover the deficit in the current fiscal year until the matter before the court is decided. It would be necessary to disclose pending litigation in any official statement sent to potential bond investors, and this is the sort of ash sprinkled on a dessert that would discourage bond buyers from scooping up the delicacies.

Mr. Markley’s suit is somewhat emb…

Job Fair Cancelled For Lack Of Jobs

In Massachusetts – formerly called Taxachussetts, although its tax structure is a little less formidable than Connecticut’s – a job fair had to be cancelled for lack of jobs, according to the Boston Globe.

The Chairman of the Taunton Employment Task Force, Richard Shafer, said 20-25 employers were necessary for the fair scheduled for April 6, five days beyond April Fool’s Day. However, only 10 tables had been reserved and of those one table was reserved by a non-profit offering human services to job seekers, and three would have been occupied by temporary employment agencies.

The cancellation of the job fair, Mr. Shafer said, was indicative of the job market in the North East. Companies are still cautious about hiring full time workers.

Here in Connecticut, the job market has remained anemic ever since Connectitax, perhaps attempting to keep up with Taxachussetts, instituted its income tax. Recently, Connectitax has made the Lowell P. Weicker Jr. income tax more progressive and blanke…

The First Blumieblooper

In what may be the first blooper during what promises to be Sen. Dick Blumenthal’s long term in the U.S. Congress, the senator told ABC News: “I think that we will need to address Social Security — if the current trends continue — sometime after the next 10 years or so, but not as part of dealing with the deficit."

It is one thing to kick the social security can down the road ten years, quite another to assert that the problem with the program can be settled without increasing the deficit.

Social security, mistakenly thought by some to be a savings program in which retirees draw from a pool of money to which they have contributed during their working lives, is actually something of a Ponzi scheme in which current retirees draw money from current workers. When the withdrawals exceed current contributions, you have a serious problem, which Mr. Blumenthal proposes to address ten years down the road.

That problem cannot be addressed as other than a deficit issue. Mr. Blumenthal, sue…

The Libyan War And Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation

Where were you in 1973?

The Congress of the United States in 1973 was hard at work hammering out the War Powers Resolution, a joint act permitting the president of the Unites States, Richard Nixon at the time, to send the armed forces of United States into action only after obtaining the authorization of the legislative branch of government. An exception was allowed under the resolution if the United States were to come under direct attack or a serious threat of attack.

The War Powers Resolution was an attempt by congress to snatch back from the executive department a presumed constitutional power that had eroded after World War II. During the Korean War, euphemistically called a “conflict,” and the Vietnam War, the United States had marched off to battle without obtaining from congress “a declaration of war.”

Passed by the two-thirds vote in Congress necessary to overcome Mr. Nixon’s veto, the War Powers Resolution required presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing …

The New Nullifiers

Managing Editor of the Journal Inquirer Chris Powell has noticed that liberals in Connecticut quietly have embarked on a course of nullification. The issue of nullification arose nationally when “crazy conservatives,” Mr. Powell noted in a recent column, attempted to enact legislation “to prevent enforcement of the new federal medical insurance law, reviving state's rights in the name of ‘nullification’ of federal statutes.”

Here in Connecticut, the log of nullification begins to weigh heavily in the eyes of some over-excitable liberals who, during an attorney general’s race, accused Mrs. Martha Dean of promoting the antiquated doctrine.

Yours truly wrote about the issue when it was raised at the time:

“And when Mrs. Dean mentioned nullification in a historical context, it was roundly hinted by some commentators that nullification might lead -- gasp! -- to a new civil war. In pre-Civil War New England, the fires of nullification began to smolder over the Fugitive Slave Act. For all …

Time For A Bundler's Tax? Is Clinton Bailing?

ABC News is reporting that President Barack Obama intends to raise from “bundlers” $1 billion for his presidential campaign.

As yet, no one who vigorously supports campaign finance regulation has suggested that a confiscatory progressive tax should be levied against the millionaire bundlers, proceeds from the tax to be deposited in accounts supporting public financing.

Among the eager bundlers who showed up in Washington to lend a hand to Mr. Obama was Ned Lamont, the progressive heartthrob and anti Iraq war warrior who, drawing upon his own considerable resources, successfully challenged present Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary a few years ago. Mr. Lamont lost to Mr. Lieberman, who is retiring at the end of his term, in a rancorous general election.

Within the Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, who styles himself as a progressive in some political ads, has rounded up a good deal of support within his party in a bid for Mr. Lieberman’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

No one yet has ask…

Tax Skullduggery

Facing a multi-billion dollar debt, former Gov. Jodi Rell and the Democratic dominated legislature decided during the last fiscal year to avoid hard choices – which would have involved raising taxes, cutting spending or doing both – and instead plundered Connecticut’s rainy day fund, postponed pension fund payment and drew money from bonding to pay down one of the largest per capita debts in the nation.

As a result of such temporary budget fixes, hard decisions on the state debt were postponed just long enough to allow manipulative legislators to be swept back into office before the next governor was elected to pick up the can kicked down the road by his predecessors.

Gov. Dannel Malloy is the first Democratic governor to be elected in Connecticut since former Gov. William O’Neill left office under thunderclouds of debt. Mr. O’Neill was followed by Gov. Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut’s income tax. The income tax was followed by easily anticipated uncontrolled spending, whic…

The New Poor And The New Social Order

There are actually two social-political orders, conservative and liberal, one of which, depending upon one’s ideological proclivities, apparently has been constructed by the devil. Both views are rooted in sociological perceptions.

A dependable sociology will reason from facts, which are, according to Jim Manzi writing in National Affairs, both prophetic and distressing.

Surveying the last half century, Mr. Manzi can not help but notice a deplorable cultural bifurcation: “Increasingly, our country is segregated into high-income groups with a tendency to bourgeois norms, and low-income groups experiencing profound social breakdown.”

Mr. Manzi traces the collapse of bourgeois morality to a longstanding academic and avant garde assault on traditional social norms associated with the left in the 1960’s. By the 1970’s, “attitudes and behaviors began to change on a mass scale.” But every radical social action leads ineluctably to an equal and opposite reaction; and the resistance, when it a…

The Republican Party Chairman

While Doug Hageman has not formally announced his availability as a candidate for Republican Party Chairman, a communication recently sent to local party chairs, vice chairs and fellow members serving on state central does not leave much room for doubt that a formal announcement is in the works.

Mr. Hageman has been active in the Republican Party for thirty years “in the trenches on a town committee,” as he put it, “as a candidate, a local officeholder, a campaign manager, and a member of State Central. I’ve attended every state convention since 1982, involved in campaigns from Dick Bozzuto and Angelo Fusco to Nancy Johnson, and 2010’s surprise victor, Rob “Landslide” Sampson, and both the current and earlier 1984 manifestations of Joe Markley,” Mr. Markley was recently elected to the state senate after a long hiatus, one of the few Republican running for office during the recently concluded elections who made it over the usual Republican hump.

While Republicans did well in the nation…

Obama Looking Both Ways

It helps in politics – most especially when politics touches foreign policy – to have two faces. According to an analytical story in the New York Times, “Obama Seeks a Course of Pragmatism in the Middle East,” President Barack Obama is now sporting a pragmatic face and an idealistic face:

“In the Middle East crisis, as on other issues, there are two Barack Obamas: the transformative historical figure and the pragmatic American president.

“With the spread of antigovernment protests from North Africa to the strategic, oil-rich Persian Gulf, President Obama has adopted a policy of restraint. He has concluded that his administration must shape its response country by country, aides say, recognizing a stark reality that American national security interests weigh as heavily as idealistic impulses. That explains why Mr. Obama has dialed down the vocal support he gave demonstrators in Cairo to a more modulated call for peaceful protest and respect for universal rights elsewhere.”Terrible are …

Ganim Inching Towards Bethlehem?

According to the Connecticut Post, former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, who spent some time in jail for political skullduggery, “took a major step toward an anticipated run for political office when he paid the remaining amount due on a $150,000 fine resulting from his conviction on 16 federal corruption charges.”

Now that Mr. Ganim has paid the fine, he may register to vote, a necessary requirement should Mr. Ganim choose to run for office.

Rumors concerning Mr. Ganim’s pending re-entry into politics have reached the ears of Bridgeport’s Democratic Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa.

I heard the rumors that he is running for mayor,” said Mr. Testa. ”I think he may have a steep hill to climb. The present administration is in a pretty good position. ... I believe Mayor (Bill) Finch will get the town committee nomination."

Mr. Ganim is a Democratic ex-felon. Republican ex-felon John Rowland, a former governor of the Indebtedness State and co-host of a radio talk show program, …

Is Malloy Serious?

Speaking before the Bridgeport Regional Business Council at a lunchtime program attended by 325 people, Governor Dannel Malloy, according to a story in the Connecticut Post, claimed “to be more fiscally conservative than the last ‘two or three governors,’ Republicans John Rowland and M. Jodi Rell, as well as Lowell P. Weicker Jr., an independent.”

It is not reported that any of the business people present guffawed.

If one judges by deeds rather than words, which is how one should measure the acts of governors, none of the governors preceding Mr. Malloy were fiscal conservatives.

The growth in state spending since Mr. Weicker – here described as an “independent,” though during his career in politics Mr. Weicker preferred the term Republican “Maverick,” the self aggrandizing, boastful title of his autobiography – suggests that the three governors preceding Mr. Malloy were liberal spenders, though some of them seemed to talk a good conservative game.

It is true that one of them, former G…

Schiller Dumped Twice

Former National Public Radio (NPR) executive Ron Schiller, caught in a video sting operation in which he held forth on Jewish media conspiracies and “racist” tea party members, has now been bumped from his default employment position at the Aspen Institute.

Mr. Schiller was in his last few weeks of his job with NPR when he was exposed as a (gasp) uber-liberal by a couple of amateur journalistic sleuths who, pretending affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, dangled $5 million in potential contributions in front of Mr. Schiller’s nose.

Mr. Schiller rose to the bait and swallowed it hook, line and lead sinker,
though a spokesman for NPR later claimed it had several times spurned the money offer.

Much to the dismay of his former bosses at NPR, Mr. Schiller proclaimed that NPR really no longer needed taxpayers to prop it up, a heretical admission that caused those at NPR propped up by tax payers dollars to send Mr. Schiller packing. Fortunately, Mr. Schiller, the Martin Luther of NPR, h…

Common Sense And Capital Punishment

Following are some points made to a legislative committee considering the abolition of the death penalty in Connecticut and its replacement by life in prison without the possibility of parole, along with some common sense comments:

Capital punishment entails a grave and present danger that the innocent will be convicted and executed. There is no evidence of this in Connecticut in the modern period. Only two people have suffered capital punishment in the last half decade: Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky and Michael Ross. There is no question that both were guilty; which is to say, both committed the crimes of which they were accused. Mr. Taborsky, executed in 1960 for capital felonies committed in 1950, killed six people and shot, pistol whipped or injured others in a series of particularly henious crimes that became known at the time as “The Mad Dog Killings.” Mr. Ross was executed in 2005 after having been convicted of the rapes and strangulations of several young women. Mr. Ross’ last two …

Freedom of Information and the Public Good

Governor Dannel Malloy, hoping to save some small change, has proposed to fold the Freedom of Information Commission into a new administrative agency that would house the Freedom of Information Commission, the Office of State Ethics, the Elections Enforcement Commission, the Judicial Review Council and the State Contracting Standards Board.

This proposal has run into a buzz saw, particularly as it affects The Freedom of Information Commission.

News publications rely on an independent commission to shine a light on decisions made by various agencies that affect the welfare of the entire state. The possibility of changing decisions that restrict liberty or violate the precepts of justice depends upon a faithful distribution of facts that, in some cases, state agencies hope to thwart.

In most cases, as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan well knew, secrecy is the enemy of good government, which is why, when the state legislature passed the Freedom of Information bill in 1975, it used in describ…

The Duke Of Flatbush

Ralph Branca’s tribute to Duke Snider – the man who forgot himself – is here printed in full. It would be a sin to edit out any part of this personal witness to a man whose eyes were always on others, rarely on himself. With the death of such men, worlds disappear. The article appeared in the New York Times

An Appraisal: Forever a Boy of Summer, in Brooklyn and Beyond

Published: March 5, 2011

I’ll never forget the winter of 1947. Because of the Dodgers’ plan to sign Jackie Robinson as the first African-American in the majors, we avoided Florida and spent training camp in Havana. This was the great postwar Brooklyn team of Pee Wee Reese, Dixie Walker, Pete Reiser and Hugh Casey. Our manager was the indomitable Leo Durocher.

Jon Soohoo/Los Angeles Dodgers, via Associated Press
Snider and the Dodgers won in 1955, and moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.

Gil Hodges was back from a long stint in the Marines. He was our second-string catcher. (We were a year away from …

Can Susan Bysiewicz Add And Subtract?

A critical auditor’s report on the Secretary of State’s office comes at an inopportune time for former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, now running for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by current Sen. Joe Lieberman at the completion of his term.

Mrs. Bysiewicz came under intense scrutiny when she ran for attorney general following an announcement that current Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was to run for former Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat. Mrs. Bysiewicz campaign was derailed by a state Supreme Court decision that she lacked the requisite legal experience before the bar to run for the office.

The auditor’s report shows that accounting procedures in the Secretary of State’s office during her tenure led to an overstatement of customers balances of some $5.2 million out of a total of $12.5, according to a story filed by Yankee Institute investigative reporter Zach Janowski. None of the twenty accounts with the highest balances were correct, and erroneous accounts could have existed …

Hush, hush

The very first item in the secret negotiations between unions and the state regarding union concessions was, according to a report filed by Christine Stuart at CTNewsJunkie , one of the few WORKING journalists in the state -- how best to keep the negotiations secret, not the happiest opening for Connecticut’s new age of governmental transparency.

Negotiating for the governor will be Deputy Budget Director Mark Ojakian; negotiating for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition will be Dan Livingston, the chief negotiator of SEBAC.

Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to enter at the end of the months long negotiations with an aspergillum and bless the end product.

Looney For Taxes

During his visit to New London, part of a multi-town tour to sell his budget to taxpayers, Governor Dannel Malloy got an earful from stressed citizens.

An engineering manager who works in Montville, John Fearns, unburdened himself on state employee pensions.

Mr. Fearns’ business had absorbed some hard knocks during the current lingering recession when “layoff and furlough days were expressed in months, not days." Riffing on the “fair share” that has become a staple of Mr. Malloy’s appearances at town meetings, Mr. Fearns, looking the governor in the eye, asked, “So I'm asking you to look me in the eye, when you ask to raise high taxes for a business model that is unsustainable, one that offers a job for life, paid pension, a Cadillac health plan for as long as you live, and I'm asking you to tell me how you can say that's fair for me.”

According to a story in the Day of New London, “Malloy fired right back: ‘The guy who entered into a 20-year deal on benefits was not …

How to Reform Public Education

Former President Lyndon Johnson, who was also a shaker and mover in the U.S. Senate, once said of former President Gerald Ford, his colleague in the Senate, that he was so dumb “he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Johnson acknowledged that Mr. Ford was “a nice fellow,” though he did have a bad habit of banging into things, but Mr. Ford, Mr. Johnson said, “spent too much time playing football without a helmet.” None of this political campaign roughage was intended as a compliment, but Mr. Johnson operated at a time when such personal attacks were considered de rigueur.

Mr. Johnson admired folk who could do more than one thing at a time, possibly an acknowledgement that problems faced by senators and presidents are multifaceted and must be solved in a variety of ways by bringing to bear against them a variety of means.

Consider public education. It is still possible, by a variety of means, to snatch it from the rubble.

Public education is one of those federal-state-municipa…

The Attorney General/Union/Health Care Foundation Racket

Yankee Institutes investigative reporter Zach Janowski examined the IRS reports of The Universal Health Care Foundation for the last few years from 2004 through 2008 and discovered – big surprise! – that the foundation “gave more than $1.1 million dollars in grants to organizations affiliated with its own board members.”

The Universal Health Care Foundation, Mr. Janowski reported, “has a unique history. It was created to settle a lawsuit by Connecticut’s public employee unions, then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and then-Comptroller Nancy Wyman against Anthem when it purchased Blue Cross and Blue Shield.”

That was then.

It did not take the foundation long to butter the bread of those affiliated with the Blumenthal inspired organization.

Under the direction of Mr. Blumenthal, the mandate of the attorney general’s office often seemed to be the regulation of private businesses that had in some way or other run afoul of consumer protection regulations. In the course of his 20 year t…