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Showing posts from March, 2012

Malloy Reforms Whipped

“After Governor Dannel Malloy is put through the political grinder by status quo opposition forces that tend to resist his educational reform, he just might begin to feel, perhaps for the first time in his political life, what some Republican governors before him may have felt when faced with an intractable opposition” – Connecticut Commentary , March 8 It was a bit like watching a baby seal being clubbed to death by hunters. When the leaders of the Education Committee had finished stripping from Governor Dannel Malloy’s education proposals the principle elements of reform, the remaining limp carcass looked very much like a clubbed and skinned Harp Seal. All the important legislative decisions that shaped the final product concerning the governor’s reforms were made, according to one news report , behind closed doors in a “marathon meeting [that] included the Education Committee co-chairs — Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, and Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterf

The Fishwrap: Stories that Made No Splash In March

How To Beat Your Wife According to the Toronto Sun a new book by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi details the permissible limits of wife beating and spousal control. The book sold out in Toronto. “Page 45 contains the rights of the husband, which include his wife’s inability to leave ‘his house without his permission,’ and that his wife must ‘fulfil his desires’ and “not allow herself to be untidy ... but should beautify herself for him ... “In terms of physical punishment, the book advises that a husband may scold her, ‘beat by hand or stick,’ withhold money from her or ‘pull (her) by the ears,’ but should ‘refrain from beating her excessively.’” Infanticide Is Ethical The newest Orwellian term for infanticide is, according to William Saletan of Slate Magazine is “after birth abortion.” Slate, a left of center publication, begins its vigorous attack on permissible infanticide with a reference to the “crazy religious right.” Slate wants us to know that craziness is no

Gray Might Face Questions

Kevin Rennie, a Hartford Courant columnist, writes on his blog “ Daily Ructions ”  that Charles Gray, the “spouse of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s legal counsel and former Pullman & Comley lawyer Andrew McDonald,” might expect a few questions concerning “the details of his relationship with Pullman & Comley,   when he appears before the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee on Thursday at noon to his nomination to the CAA [Connecticut Airport Authority].” According to Mr. Rennie: “Pullman & Comley had more than a good friend in the room when the Connecticut Airport Authority rejected considerably lower bids from two other firms and hired the Bridgeport-based law firm to serve as its counsel. It had a former client in authority member Charles Gray, spouse of Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s legal counsel and former Pullman & Comley lawyer Andrew McDonald.”

Federally forced mandates, Pros and Cons

The Supreme Court yesterday heard the pros and cons of Obamacare’s forced mandate. Obamacare would compel everyone, for the first time in U.S. history, to buy a product – healthcare – while penalizing those who do not comply. A brief analysis of the pros and cons of Obamacare by President Barack Obama may be found in the short clip provided below:

Malloy And The Education Reform Tarbaby

  Somewhere on the route to education reform Governor Dannel Malloy bumped into Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, teachers unions and their affiliates in the General Assembly, among them the powerful Speaker of the state House of Representatives, Chris Donovan. Mr. Donovan, the most progressive Speaker since Irv Stolberg departed the General Assembly and left this veil of tears, leapt into politics from a stint as a union representative, and the marks of the union negotiator are etched into the fabric of his being. Some poor ink stained wretches suspect that the evisceration of Mr. Malloy’s education reforms -- the central pillars of which are frequent teacher evaluations tied to continued employment and teacher salaries tied to student performance – are, at least in part, related to Mr. Donovan’s union affections. On March 27, two intrepid reporters, Christine Stewart of CTNewsJunkie and Brian Lockhart of the Hearst chain of newspapers, set out probe Mr. Donovan

Courant On Tax Relief

The canned response to any attempt to lower taxes in Connecticut goes something like this: In the grand scheme of things, savings from the proposed tax reduction will be insignificant. And the computed savings, in any case, will deplete money made available to the state that is used for noble and necessary purposes such as, not to be too bitterly sardonic, miss-educating urban school children for several decades. Thus does the Hartford Courant vociferously object in an editorial to a decision made by Democrats in Connecticut’s General Assembly to cap the state’s gross receipt tax on gas for one year only. The title of the paper’s March 24 editorial is “Gas Tax Cap Is Showboating.” Apparently, political showboating in the future is to be frowned upon by editorial editors and writers at the Courant. A few days before the editorial appeared, Democrats in the General Assembly had devised a TEMPORARY ONE YEAR ONLY cap on the state’s gross receipts tax, a charge placed by the Genera

RINOs And The Buckley Rule

Commentary magazine asks in its March 22 edition whether it is ever OK for the Republican Party, incontestably conservative, to support a RINO (Republican in name only) candidate for office. The RINO in question is former U.S. Representative Chris Shays, now running for U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacant seat in Connecticut. RINOism, writer Jonathan Tobin points out, “is synonymous with betrayal of principle and mushy statism… Shays is more or less what most people think of when they hear the term RINO. In his 21 years representing Fairfield County in Congress Shays voted more often with liberals than conservatives… On abortion, gun control, campaign finance reform and other conservative litmus test issues, Shays was on the liberal side of the spectrum. He also angered many by ditching his party on the war in Iraq in 2006 by calling for a troop withdrawal, a tilt to the left that helped hold onto his seat for one more term.” Congressman Shays voted with the majority Rep

Political Weight Classism

President Barack Obama likes pugilistic metaphors, not surprising from someone who sprouted from the nursery bed of Chicago politics. But the Danes are watching.

Blumenthal Hearts Bechard

It might have proved embarrassing, but a senatorial duck saved the day. Former Speaker of Connecticut’s House of Representatives Jim Amann had received a call from U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, formerly the state’s Attorney General and a shameless media hound, asking if the senator could participate in a press availability at which Mr. Amann and Raymond Bechard, author of a book deploring sexual slavery on the Berlin Turnpike, were to announce their support of a bill that would hold publishers legally liable for accepting ads that might, or might not, lead to acts of prostitution. Mr. Amann said “Sure!” And why not? Rare is the congressman who can resist bathing in the waters of moral rectitude. Mr. Blumenthal, as the state’s Comstockian attorney general, had dipped his toes in constitutionally troubled waters before. Mr. Amann, somewhat like former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, who cashed in his senatorial chits to become a one percenter in Tinseltown, is into film. Mr. Bechard, au

Cynthia Farahat And Egypt

Cynthia Farahat, an Egyptian political activist, writer and researcher, has more real courage than any American politician I can name, and she knows more about James Madison than most. Ms. Farahat co-founded the Liberal Egyptian Party (2006-2008) and served as a member of its political committee. In 2008-2009, she was program coordinator and program officer at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty in Cairo, a multi-national free market think tank. She was a founder of the Masr El-Om (Mother Egypt) Party and was a member of its political committee (2004-2006). She has published in National Review, Middle East Quarterly, and in other publications in both English and Arabic. In December 2011, Ms. Farahat testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the US House of Representatives on the roots of the persecution of the Coptic Christian minority in her native Egypt. She is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and the Center for Security Policy. More about the persecu

Donovan’s Minimum Wage “Compromise”

Speaker of the State House of Representatives Chris Donovan, actively running for the U.S. Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District, apparently has “compromised” on his most recent bill that would have hiked the state’s minimum wage 75 cents on July 1 and another 75 cents a year later, establishing in Connecticut, the land of steady spending habits, yet another first: the state with the highest minimum wage in the nation. Donovan’s compromise is a bit like that of Solomon’s, who proposed that a baby whose parentage had been questioned should be cut in half with a sword, each half to be parceled out to the disputing mothers. Solomon’s inelegant solution, offered as a ploy to ferret out the real mother, would have resulted in a dead baby. Mr. Donovan – perhaps in order to demonstrate his willingness to compromise should he ever reach the U.S. House of Representatives – has now offered a more “moderate” proposal: The Labor and Public Employees Committee recently voted 8-3, with the consen

Malloy in Bethel

Governor Malloy appeared in Bethel to defend his educational reform proposals, and the going was not quite as rough as Mr. Malloy’s past appearances. At Wilber Cross High School, the heckling, mostly from teachers, was blistering. Towards the end of the meeting in New Haven, union president David Cicarella conceded, according to one press report, “It doesn't do any good hooting and hollering at the guy.” Teacher unions have not conceded much to Mr. Malloy concerning his proposals to remake education in Connecticut. Rhetorical grapeshot was fired in Bethel, but Mr. Malloy easily deflected it, perhaps because Bethel Superintendent Kevin Smith had advised the crowd to be on their best behavior, but possibly, as I like to think, because Bethelites are unusually cordial. My wife and I lived in Bethel – the name means “house of God” – for eight peaceful and fruitful years, not very far from the brilliant white church where P.T. Barnum’s father, Philo, and his mother, Irena, rest

Michelle Rhee

As Chancellor of the Washington D.C. schools, Michelle Rhee entered a system in which 90% of its students were failing standardized tests. After she left, 90% of the students were passing the tests. This is how she did it . The interview, well worth watching, is fairly long but much more comprehensive than her critics would like. The interview in its entirety -- a must watch for anyone interested in turning around urban failing schools -- may be found here .

Should Connecticut’s Death Penalty Be Eliminated?

This Wednesday, you have the opportunity to tell state legislators what you think. The legislature’s Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the death penalty repeal bill : When? Wednesday March 14, at 11:00 AM Where? Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) 300 Capitol Avenue Hartford, CT. The bill up for review is Senate Bill 280: An Act Revising the Penalty for Capital Felonies. The bill would replace the death penalty with a penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of release for certain murders committed on or after its effective date. Here is a link to the bill . Here are the Judiciary Committee’s rules regarding testimony: Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 8:30 A.M. and conclude at 10:30 in Room 2500 of the LOB. Speaker order will be decided by a lottery system. Anyone wishing to testify after the drawing is closed must sign up in the hearing room and will be placed at the end of the list. The first hour of the hearing i

When Is A Spending Cap Not A Cap?

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' "'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.' "'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master— that's all.' – Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll A spending cap is a measure that prevents legislatures from appropriating money after a certain level of acquisition has been reached. The Connecticut spending cap is pegged to increases in the average growth rate of Connecticut’s personal income (PI) or the annual rate of inflation measured by the growth of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Connecticut’s spending cap was added to the Constitution State’s Constitution as a surety to the public that legislators would live within their means at a time when the General Assembly was poised to vote in favor of an income tax propo

March Fishwrap

Drones For Sale U.S. News reports that Iran and other Nuke The Big Satan Nations in the Middle East will soon be shipping drones to Hugo Chavez’s paradise, only a few miles from the United States. “Iran and Middle East-based extremist groups are stepping up their activities in South America, aiming to make friends and score cash, a senior U.S. military official says. “Tehran intends to build military drones in Washington's backyard for the Venezuelan military led by Hugo Chavez, U.S. Southern Command chief Gen. Douglas Fraser told reporters Wednesday during a breakfast meeting in Washington.” A few months ago, Iran downed a U.S. drone. Some Iran watchers think Iran was able to interfere with the flight path of the drone by compromising its computer systems, since the weaponizable spy plane arrived in Iran without damage. It’s possible that Iran’s fleet of drones will bear a “make in China” mark. Fascist China is the largest creditor of the United States. “In December, Te

Scalia At Wesleyan

Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Antonin Scalia is perhaps the nation’s foremost advocate and interpreter of orginalism, a mode of constitutional interpretation. The chief business of the Supreme Court, both originalists and non-originalists will agree, lies in Constitutional interpretation, a task that no Supreme Court justice may responsibly avoid. Mr. Scalia’s views on originalism have been widely disseminated; the justice has not in the past hidden his light under a bushel basket. An address on orginalism delivered twenty three years ago at the University of Cincinnati during the William Howard Taft Constitutional Law Lecture is available to every reporter in the state at the click of a mouse. In that widely available lecture, Mr. Scalia dilates on the defects of non-orginalist interpretation. Briefly, non-orginalism binds constitutional interpretation to what has been called “the living constitution,” which is to say the constitution as interpreted by justices o

Guest Column: Janelli On Lumaj

An Unexpected Glimmer of Hope By Chris P. Janelli, Chairman, Salisbury Republican Town Committee Sometimes when you least expect it, something happens to restore your faith in a struggling Republican Party in deep blue Connecticut. Such an event happened the night of February 28th at the Salisbury Republican Town Committee meeting. Mike Clark, candidate for the Congressional 5th district and Rep. Clark Chapin seeking to fill Senator Roraback’s 30th district seat were scheduled to address the SRTC. What wasn’t expected was the tall stranger in a dark pinstripe suit who entered with two young associates. I introduced myself and asked who he was and he replied, “I’m Peter Lumaj from Fairfield, I’m running for the U.S. Senate and I would like to address your committee.” My initial reaction was tinged with incredulity as I replied, “I haven’t even heard of you and we have a heavy schedule this evening, but I’ll give you 5 minutes,” for which he thanked me. After a few minutes of

Dannel Rell

Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, that thou may’st shake the superflux to them, and show the heavens more just – Lear, from Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” After Governor Dannel Malloy is put through the political grinder by status quo opposition forces that tend to resist his educational reform, he just might begin to feel, perhaps for the first time in his political life, what some Republican governors before him may have felt when faced with an intractable opposition. Mr. Malloy’s’ educational reforms spring from reasonable premises: Some schools are better than other schools; the surest means of improving deficient schools is to note the important pedagogical differences between the two, discover what works in the better schools and replicate it in the poorer schools. Among things that don’t work as well as they should, particularly in failing urban schools, are some deficient teachers. They should be identified and counseled; if remediation does not improve them, they sho

Tammany McDonald

When bright-eyed reformists of the early 1900’s were making a stab at political reform, George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall gave an interview with news reporter William Riordan and, making what he thought was a necessary distinction between “honest graft” and the usual garden variety, spilled the beans , as they say in the now smokeless filled rooms where political friends still scratch each other’s backs. “Everybody is talkin' these days about Tammany men growin' rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin' the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There's all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I've made a big fortune out of the game, and I'm gettin' richer every day, but I've not gone in for dishonest graft--blackmailin' gamblers, saloon‑keepers, disorderly people, etc.--and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics. “There&

Huey Donovan

"We can tax the millionaires in Washington and we can make Connecticut a better place for working families ” – 5th District Democratic U.S. House candidate Chris Donovan "Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax the guy behind the tree"— Russell Long Even the most progressive politician of his day, Russell’s father Huey Long, knew the scheme wouldn’t work; but it was a winner as a populist campaign pitch. Within the Democratic Party of his day, Russell was acknowledged as an authority on tax law. As such, he became an ardent advocate of tax breaks for business. “I have become convinced,” said Russell, most certainly not a chip off his father’s progressive block, “you're going to have to have capital if you're going to have capitalism." One suspects that progressive leader of the state House of Representatives Chris Donovan knows this. However, the deathless scheme, endemic in the Democratic Party, to convince the tax paying public that someone may be f

Malloy And The Supremes

Taking his education reform show on the road, Governor Dannel Malloy on Thursday crashed into former Bridgeport Board of Education member Maria Pereira, one of the plaintiffs in a successful suit that overturned the dismantling of a Bridgeport Board of Education. "On Tuesday, the Supreme Court overturned your administration's illegal takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education," Mrs. Pereira told Mr. Malloy in a packed room at the Village South Center for Community Life in Hartford, "and I want to know if your plans to reform our schools are all about disenfranchising parents in schools all over the state like you're attempting to do in Bridgeport?" Mr. Malloy attempted to deflect the question by asking Ms. Pereira, “How happy are you with the Bridgeport schools?" Ms. Pereira acknowledged that the school system could use improvement. “No, the Bridgeport Board of Education hasn’t done a good job in the last 20 years,” she responded. “It’s been co