Monday, December 29, 2014
Democrats in Connecticut do not have an identity crisis. If it is proper to judge a political party by its programs, they are progressives. Some Democrats, of course, are more progressive than others, but what Generalissimo Richard Nixon said of the Republican Party of his day – “We are all now” – is certainly true of the Democratic Party in the northeast.
The essence of Keynesianism is government control of the economy, usually through regulations that large enterprises may avoid by beseeching the government for special favors and deferments. What former President Dwight Eisenhower used to decry as “the military industrial complex” has been broadened in our day to include a convoluted collusion between large capital rich firms and/or state and federal governments made possible through regulations that may be waved for a fee or a consideration.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
In silent watches of the night,
The whirlwind passed me by.
Attention will demand no less
Than imitating holiness.
I heard the turning of an angel’s wing
And felt a feathered kiss upon my cheek.
It’s You who watches with me in the night
You who made sublime the day.
No less than You I waited for.
Repaid a hundred times, Your love
Will silence every fright. Tireless,
That whisper few can hear
Will someday stranger all my fear.
Dedication -- To My Nieces and Nephews
Prologue: A Little Knowledge
I want to warn you from the very beginning: A memoir is very much like a confession, and you must be wary of people who write confessions. They are rarely sincere about their failings or themselves in their narratives because they cannot bear to be sincere about themselves in their lives.
Everyone quotes Socrates’ famous apothegm: Know thyself. Few are willing to trace his self-knowledge to its bitter end in forced suicide, and fewer still practice what he preached. In the 21st Century – Your century, my dear nieces and nephews – it may not be necessary to know oneself at all. In any case, perhaps it is better to concentrate on others. My century – the 20th, the bloodiest in the history of the world, full of introspective maniacs – had its fill of self-regarding “men like gods.”
Sunday, December 21, 2014
"The esthete stands in the same relation to beauty as the pornographer stands to love, and the politician stands to life” – Karl Kraus.
It’s a great puzzle for those who think seriously about getting and spending. During his second winning campaign for governor, Dannel Malloy took tax increases – but not increases in borrowing, the last refuge of spending scoundrels -- off the table. Echoing George H.W. Bush’s boast at the 1988 Republican National Convention, Mr. Malloy invited Connecticut voters in so many words to read his lips: NO NEW TAXES.
And yet, even Mr. Malloy’s own Office of Policy Management guru, Ben Barnes, has told us that we shall have to get used to sluggish tax receipts, at least for the foreseeable future. Mr. Malloy has pledged to hold Connecticut’s Municipalities harmless, and so it will be difficult for him to pass the state’s budget woes to towns by reducing their revenue allotments. He has pledged not to renegotiate state contracts; no spending cuts there. He plans to increase or maintain educational spending at its current levels. For progressives – and we are all progressives now – education is a near sacred fetish. Nothing must be done to deprive even those who are ill prepared for college of an increasingly expensive education. No savings there.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
At the coming of the night, the harsh defining edge of all that is
Disappears in the folds of night’s robes, and thought flies to You,
A child ensnared in its mother’s embrace, plenteous, round as a world.
Lovely is the night that swallows all in love. To think here
On this familiar ground, once love gave all that we might live
Is thought too large to think this night, this holy night.
When stars retreat and bow in courteous welcome of the day,
A child’s voice, eternity within it, rings a warning bell of weeping
Yet to come. But on this holy night, this night like banished love
Returned, a mother’s touch, for once, is sufficiency -- love accepts.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
There is no danger anyone will read into the remarks made by Governor Dannel Malloy to the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce (MCC) a gubernatorial resolve to reduce Connecticut’s burdensome taxes or regulations.
Just the opposite; even reporters “got” the joke made by Mr. Malloy towards the end of his MCC speech when the Governor was asked, following his remark that he had “righted the ship” of state, whether he feared he was raising expectations that could not be met, in view of Connecticut’s still doubtful economic rebound.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
It steals among us, creeps into our daily cares,
That whisper in the whirlwind you always knew was there.
However high the walls, how indifferent we are to hear,
Beauty comes, insidious in its mercy, and lodges in the ear,
From there to spread its glory, hold prisoner our dead resolve.
Now we are free and large enough to attend on God.
Others will say I dream. But no, I have heard the familiar
Music of my soul rising to splendid and abundant life.
Karl Marx and his students, among them “A” student V. I. Lenin, may have thought it was necessary for the proletariat to wrest ownership from capitalists so that their ill-conceived profits might revert to the proletariat. That is the central doctrine of The Communist Manifesto, with its stirring opening: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains, and a world to win.” Mr. Marx may have been a poor economist, but he was a superb ideological terrorist.
It turns out the Marxists were wrong: It is not necessary for the proletariat -- in reality, the fascist state -- to seize the means of production so they might “own” property and businesses once directed by greedy capitalists who, following the revolution, would be dispossessed of their property by the state – i.e. the Communist Party – and sent packing to the Gulag.
None of this was necessary. There is a “Third Way” to “seize the means of production,” through the regulation of contracts, while leaving nominal ownership in the hands of capitalists.
Friday, December 12, 2014
This is how the day of joy approaches:
On cat paws, quietly, quietly… building and building,
Delighting old women and young boys who have climbed lampposts,
The better to see and hear music that might have been written by choirs of angels.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
The first shots of the Revolution, we are told, were fired at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. But the blood of patriots had begun to stir long before then. Samuel Adams, called even in his own day “The Father of the American Revolution,” was stoking revolutionary fervor twenty years earlier.
Adams, primarily a pamphleteer and journalist, was quotable. Indeed, one of his quotes serves as the banner of Connecticut Commentary:
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
As many students of politics know, there are two kinds of truth: political truth, and all other varieties. Political truth, unlike scientific truth, need not be connected verifiably with objective reality. Political truth sometimes dresses up in the robes of science, but bad science also leaves objective reality behind at the altar.
Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Cassandra of Obamabots, was one of the architects of Obamacare who, unlike many proponents of President Barack Obama’s “Affordable Care Act,” went off script and, in venues he may have thought were off record, simply laid out the truth about Obamacare in such unvarnished terms that even those overfriendly to President Barack Obama in the media could not easily misunderstand Mr. Gruber’s essential message – which was: Obamacare, right from the get-go, was intentionally misleading. More importantly, he noted, it was of necessity misleading. The sales pitch of the used car salesman who wants you to buy the lemon on his lot, likewise and for much the same reasons, is misleading.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
The following lede paragraph below in italics appeared in a Hartford newspaper under the heading, “State Working On New Rating System For Schools That Goes Beyond Test Scores.”
“State officials are seeking to broaden the measurement of school performance, often criticized for over-reliance on test scores, to include the arts, civics, physical fitness, attendance, and even qualities such as student persistence and personal development.”
Here is a re-write that accurately reflects both the intention and the outcome of the state’s effort to lower the measurement standard:
“State officials, attempting to readjust federal standards concerning test measurements so as to satisfy Connecticut’s reform averse teacher unions, are seeking to dilute the measurement of school performance in core subjects by including among them the arts, civics, physical fitness, attendance, and even qualities such as student persistence and personal development.”
As my late father-in-law – without doubt the best malapropist in Connecticut -- might have said, “If the truth pinches, wear it.”
Educational reformers in the state who had hoped to reform education by creating a standard according to which the pedagogical chaff would be separated from the pedagogical wheat, particularly in underperforming urban public schools, had better hope that the Feds, who must pass on this nonsense, have the wit to see through politics as practiced in Connecticut. Here, somewhat like the Aztecs of old, we throw our children on the pyre to placate Union gods.
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Mr. Malloy was to be an education governor. It did not take Mr. Malloy long to discover that it was nearly impossible to purge bad schools of bad teachers. To redress this socially destructive inequity, he backed a series of pedagogical reforms that tied teacher performance and hiring to educational outcomes, thereby richly earning the contumely of bad teachers and supporters of the pedagogical status quo such as Jonathan Pelto.
Monday, December 01, 2014
The picture shows former State House Speaker Chris Donovan smiling broadly and sporting new hair on his face, a white trimmed beard and moustache. He is chatting with Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, who is smiling and appears to be sharing a humorous confidence with Mr. Donovan.
Could she be remarking on his spiffy new look? Or perhaps she is congratulating the recipient of NARAL’s (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) attentions at having escaped the prosecutorial noose that hanged his campaign finance director and other staff members who worked on Mr. Donovan’s failed U.S. House bid in Connecticut’s 5th District.
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