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Showing posts from June, 2012

Blumenthal, The Other Attorney General

Both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, Joe Lieberman and Dick Blumenthal, would seem to have a great deal in common with besieged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Mr. Lieberman, due to retire from the Senate at the end of his term, clawed his way into the U.S. Senate from his previous position as Connecticut’s Attorney General, as did Mr. Blumenthal. Mr. Holder was cited for contempt by the two senators’ congressional colleagues in the House on Thursday, June 28. The charge brought against Mr. Holder is that the Attorney General has refused to surrender to Congress documentation the Congress has determined it must review to discover what role Mr. Holder’s Justice Department may have played in “Fast and Furious,” a disastrous scheme in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, a department under the supervision of Mr. Holder’s Justice Department, facilitated the purchase of guns by Mexican drug dealers. One of the guns, it was later determined, was use

Nappier Harpoons Malloy

State Treasurer Denise Nappier points out in a letter to the Journal Inquirer some important differences between her view on expanded bonding authority and that of Governor Dannel Malloy. In the course of her letter, Ms. Nappier shoves a boney finger in the governor’s chest and warns,   “… when legislation is enacted that will result in unnecessary additional costs of issuing state bonds, and may jeopardize investor confidence in our bonds, it is my duty as state treasurer to speak out against the measure and urge corrective action." Mr. Malloy wants expanded bonding authority for the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.   Ms. Nappier wrote that she had always supported the consolidation of two quasi-public authorities, the CHEFA and the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority, and she heartily agreed with the governor that the consolidation would enhance efficiency. “However,” she writes, “CHEFA’s new authority to issue bonds for UConn

Rowland On A River

As the John Rowland-Brian Foley FBI investigation unfolds, it will be important to bear in mind that neither Mr. Rowland nor Lisa Wilson Foley, Brian Foley’s wife, is an active politician. According to a report in the Register Citizen , “A federal grand jury is investigating Rowland’s connections to the 5th District Congress campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley. Rowland worked as an “unpaid volunteer” consultant to the campaign while at the same time being paid $30,000 by Apple Rehab, a company owned by Wilson-Foley’s husband.” Mrs. Foley is running for the U.S. Congress and has not previously held office. Mr. Rowland is a radio talk show host for (WTIC) and an ex-felon who resigned his position as governor of the state. After having pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to steal honest service, Mr. Rowland spent a year in prison and four months under house arrest. Following his release, Mr. Rowland was hired by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce to drum up business for the city, aft

The Ins and Outs of Politics

The ins, of course, are incumbents; the outs are everyone else. How difficult is it for the outs to get in? The short answer is – nearly impossible. Campaign finance reform was supposed to make it easier for the outs to break into the magic political circle. This has not happened, partly because of the influence of Super PACs. A PAC is a Political Action Committee; a Super PAC is a very large and wealthy PAC operating outside the precincts of political parties. McCain-Feingold – and its equivalent in the U.S. House, Shays-Meehan – more or less illegalized large “soft money” contributions to political parties. The U.S. Supreme Court, reviewing the campaign finance bill, determined that a legislative directive outlawing “soft money” contributions to PACs not directly connected to political parties was an unconstitutional prohibition that violated the First Amendment. The court’s ruling opened a Pandora’s Box that now allows outliers, persons and groups not formally attached to

The Jeremiah Of Europe

Nigel Farage, the head of Britain’s Independence Party, may well be the Jeremiah of Europe. Recent events in Greece and Spain have concentrated Europe’s mind wonderfully. Here he is last May issuing predictions and --much more importantly -- a carefully crafted analysis of what ails Europe. The analysis is important because historically whenever Europe in the past had the sniffles, America caught the cold.

Shays’ Signature Bill

The Shays-Meehan House bill, the equivalent of McCain-Feingold in the Senate, is that single piece of legislation for which former U.S. Congressman Chris Shays is likely to be remembered, just as former Senator Chris Dodd’s congressional legacy will be forever bound up with his massive regulatory scheme, the Dodd-Frank bill. Mr. Shays at the tail end of January announced his candidacy for U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacant seat. The consequences of the Dodd-Frank legislation – more importantly, the unintended consequences of the bill – are still in the pipeline. But some of the less anticipated consequences of Shays-Meehan have already been amply displayed. Initially, Shays-Meehan was designed to ban national parties from raising and spending “soft money.” The soft-money ban, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court more than a year ago, limits individual contributions to political parties even if the money is to be spent on activities unrelated to federal elections. The bill a

The Courant And Catholics

The magisterium of the Hartford Courant -- its editorial board -- has issued a pronouncement on the matter of an interpretation of a federal bill by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that would require Catholic institutions to assist in dispensing birth control pills and abortifacients. The ex-cathedra pronouncement from Courant editors opens with the following lede: “Roman Catholic protests against certain requirements of the health care reform law, though heartfelt, are misplaced. No one’s first amendments rights are being compromised, and – despite loud cries to the contrary – religious liberty is not in jeopardy…” There are at the moment numerous suits filed by Catholic prelates and institutions challenging the constitutionality of Ms. Sebelius’ interpretation of the Obamacare bill. The Supreme Court is due to rule on the bill before its session closes at the end of June. The Obamacare bill very well may be unconstitutional, in which case the entire

Newton Before Redemption

The conversation below has been lifted from Richard Bronson’s new book, “The War at the Shore,” an account of the struggle between Donald Trump and Steve Wynn over control of Atlantic City gambling interests. These words, perhaps harsh, were uttered by Ernie Newton before he ascended to Connecticut’s State Senate, according to Lennie Grimaldi , and well before Mr. Newton was carted off to prison for having accepted political bribes. Now a repentant sinner, Mr. Newton is the Democratic Party nominee for his old senate seat in Bridgeport, where else?      But for pure naked All-American avarice, the prize goes to a certain clown named Ernest Newton II, the Democratic state representative from Bridgeport … “I have an idea,” said Ernie “What is it?” I said. “You lend me some money. Cash, of course, Then, I forget to pay you back? How’s that?” “I said, Senator, I can’t do that.” To which he replied: “Well, here’s what you can do. You can get the hell out of my office!” M

Big Smoke To Malloy: Thank You For Taxing

The old saying has it: You can’t beat City Hall. Municipal government is too big to beat. State government is bigger and, presumably, harder to beat. The federal government is mountainously big, On the matter of taxes, all three unbeatables tend to hunker down whenever the little guy attempts to deny any of them their daily revenue fix. In a “special session” of Connecticut’s General Assembly, usually called to tidy up legislative loose ends from the regular session, the Democratic dominated legislature this year closed what one newspaper styled in an editorial “an expensive loophole in the law that allowed tobacco shops with roll your own machines to sell professional style cigarettes at about half the cost of packaged ones.” By “expensive” the paper intended to indicate the potential loss in revenue to the state. And the “loophole?” Sensing a loss in revenue should smoke shops be permitted to sell cigarettes at half price, the tax hungry administration of Governor Da

McMahon And Shays At UConn

After the debate at UConn between Republican contenders for the U.S. Senate Chris Shays and Linda McMahon, Mr. Shays, who mounted the stage favored by Connecticut’s left of center media, temporarily lost a few votes within the journalistic community. David Collins of the Day in New London wrote: “McMahon did so much better in Thursday's debate that it makes you wonder why she isn't the one calling for more debates in the primary campaign, not Shays… “Shays looked every bit as testy, annoyed and frustrated at the end as when the debate started…” “Shays on Thursday just seemed kind of mean-spirited.” Mr. Shays’testiness began, Mr. Collins noted, with a microphone malfunction. “In fact, Shays threw a bit of a tantrum at the outset when there was a problem with the auditorium sound system at the University of Connecticut. “He snapped a terse ‘no’ when offered a handheld microphone, saying everyone should just wait until the wireless microphones were fixed. Everyone d

Weicker And The Destruction Of The Republican Party

Lowell Weicker’s unvarying message to his long discarded Republican Party, iterated and reiterated countless times during his 21 year congressional stint, is always, wearily, the same: Republicans in Connecticut could win office if they were JUST LIKE ME. The 81 year-old Weicker, still the darling of the Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s only state-wide newspaper, surfaced briefly in June 2011 at an event called “Conversations at Connecticut's Old State House."   His appearance was covered by the paper in a story titled “ Former Governor Endorses Obama, Same-Sex Marriage, Income Tax Hike, Ending Super PACs.” It is safe to conclude that Republicans in Connecticut would not have been surprised by either the title or Mr. Weicker’s views reflected in the story, however much Republican Party dissents from the former Republican U.S. Senator. Mr. Weicker’s state party has over the years grown used to being shamefully used as a political foil. When then Republican Senator Wei

Vivian Rockwell Nasiatka Interview

This interview with Vivian Rockwell Nasiatka took place over a few days. As I was preparing to cast it into stone on Connecticut Commentary, the Washington Post ran a story on a Federal Reserve Bulletin that was profoundly discouraging. According to the report,“the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were back in 1992.” The recession has left its mark upon us all. It has lingered so long because the fire brigade that was supposed to douse the flames instead, in the immortal words of former Governor Lowell Wicker, “poured gas on the fire” by boosting taxes. Less spending certainly would have helped to boost Connecticut’s prosperity. Instinctively, we know that business, rather than government, is the best economic pump primer. Instinctively, we know that redistribution of wealth does not increase wealth. In moving money from the real economy to government