Thursday, August 30, 2018

What Would Lincoln Do?

Republicans, we all know, do not know how to campaign -- which is why they lose elections. In the modern period, political jousting is either murderous or feckless. Twitterdom is full of deadly thrusts unleavened by humor, the opposite of wit.

Let’s suppose Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob “the re-builder” Stefanowski were Abe Lincoln, sans beard but with a similar sense of humor. Someone at a political rally once accused Lincoln of being two-faced – he was  being rather subtle on the issue of slavery– at which point Lincoln stopped his speech and shouted back, “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?” The audience shivered with appreciative laughter, and laughter in politics is better than votes because it engages the stomach muscles and the thorax. Voting is a public duty most people choose to ignore, particularly in our day of snake oil salesmen. But laughter cleanses the soul and shocks the memory. Remembering a good joke is so much more pleasant than remembering a humorless politician.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Clean The Green

Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent tells us that Mike Carter, long associated with New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, has left the building: “Carter’s personal relationship with the mayor became strained in recent months, with Carter reportedly growing openly critical of her performance. A lunch between the two failed to ease tensions.”

New Haveners cannot help but notice, as did Bass in his report, that Carter’s resignation “comes at a time when City Hall has been buffeted by bad news, from a wave of over 100 K2 overdoses in several days on the Green, to controversy over city budget deficitscredit ratings agencies, education cutsemployee theft with a city credit card, and the purchase of $4,000 [worth] of uniforms for mayoral staffers.”

There seems to be a lot of beef on that plate. And yet, Harp will survive the buffeting, largely because the Democrat Party has had a lock on New Haven since 1953. The last Republican chief executive of New Haven was William Celentano, the city’s first Italian mayor, a funeral director.

CT Republicans: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Guest Blog

By Sean Murphy

The August 14th Republican primary left me quite confused.

In our current environment, only half of Republican voters voted for Joe Markley for Lt Governor.

We elected an actual outsider president who, astonishingly, makes and keeps promises.  Americans of all political backgrounds despise double talking politicians.  We can see every day how murderously the Swamp in DC behaves towards President Trump.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Connecticut Down

"There ain't no more bottom to this bottom" -- diner wisdom

How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?” Jim Powell asked in a stunning piece in Forbes magazine more than five years ago.

In the often quoted words of former Prime Minister of Britain Maggie Thatcher, the state ran out of other people’s money.

Former Governor Lowell Weicker’s 1991 income tax was followed, taxpayers of Connecticut will recall, by two additional massive tax impositions, the largest and the second largest in state history, initiated by present Governor Dannel Malloy – disapproval rating 72 percent, the lowest in the nation, according to Morning Consult. With the additional taxes in hand, spending spiked. The last non-income tax budget in the William O’Neill administration was $7.5 billion, a figure that tripled within the space of four governors. These tax increases relieved the Democrat dominated General Assembly of the necessity of instituting permanent, long term spending cuts. That’s number one. Number two: Over a period of years, the Democrat dominated General Assembly has simply rented out its constitutional and statutory obligations, foremost of which is control over the budget, to the governor-union-bosses combine. Number three: The dominant Democrat Party has remembered nothing and forgotten everything. Democrat nominee Ned Lamont’s political program– a repeat of Malloy’s failed governance -- is 98 percent aspirational and 2 percent analytical.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Visconti Agonistes

The Hartford Courant story is titled, provocatively, 'Racist' Tweet From Republican Joe Visconti Draws Fire From Democratic and GOP Leaders. The word “racist” is imprisoned in quotes to indicate some disagreement as to whether the perennial right of center gadfly, Joe Visconti, is a racist.

He is not a racist, those who know him best will assert, rather passionately. Visconti has argued that his message, appended to a picture of Democrat Attorney General prospect William Tong, has little to do with race and everything to do with political orientation.

Friday, August 17, 2018

New England’s Cynical Socialist Conventicle

Those on the right like to joke that New England is slipping into a socialist nirvana, but recently US. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Leon Trotsky of the movement to make New England Venezuela, has added serious notes to the charge.

Kevin Williamson has exploded the Warren menace in a thoughtful piece in National Review titled “Elizabeth Warren’s Batty Plan to Nationalize . . . Everything.”

“Warren’s proposal,” Williamson writes, is dishonestly called the ‘Accountable Capitalism Act.’ … Under Senator Warren’s proposal, no business with more than $1 billion in revenue would be permitted to legally operate without permission from the federal government. The federal government would then dictate to these businesses the composition of their boards, the details of internal corporate governance, compensation practices, personnel policies, and much more. Naturally, their political activities would be restricted, too. Senator Warren’s proposal entails the wholesale expropriation of private enterprise in the United States, and nothing less. It is unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, irresponsible, and — not to put too fine a point on it — utterly bonkers.”

Thursday, August 16, 2018

It’s The Spending, Stupid

Political campaigns are narrow spaces; there is not a lot of elbow room in them to explain in fulsome detail proposed public programs and their consequences. But a good campaign must represent more than a string of feel-good bumper sticker sentiments.

Republicans vying for the gubernatorial race this year climbed out on a conservative limb and dedicated themselves to specific policy changes: no more tax increases; permanent reductions in spending; and, most alarming to progressive Democrats, the wresting of democratic government from powerful special interests -- i.e. union representatives.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Behind the General Election Barricades

Now that the party primaries have concluded, the substance of the play will change – because the audience will have changed.

Democrat Party nominee Ned Lamont unsurprisingly dished Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim with 81 percent of the primary vote.

On the Republican side, Bob Stefanowski hauled in 30 percent of the vote, 9 points more than Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury, not a strong showing for a party nominee. In the hotly contested 5th District, abandoned by Elizabeth Esty after charges she had not moved quickly enough on reported incidents of harassment by her Chief of Staff against one of her female aides. Jahana Hayes upset party nominee Mary Glassman with a convincing 62 percent of the vote. State Senator Joe Markley won a resounding victory over his two primary opponents, and Susan Bysiewicz, hand-picked by Lamont for the Lieutenant Governor slot, prevailed over her primary opponent with 62 percent of the vote.

During primaries, politicians tend to pitch their messaging to the party faithful -- to progressive Democrats or fiscally conservative Republicans. Many “conservative’ Republicans avoid the snare of social issues like the plague and, likewise, Democrats will wish in the coming general campaign to skirt the obvious failure in Connecticut of progressive fiscal measures.

In the post primary general election, a rough-hewn left or right ideology tends to take a back pew, and the post primary candidates – Democrat Lamont and Republican Stefanowski --  may make both substantial and symbolic adjustments in their campaigning, a  strategic move designed to appeal to a greater number of voters, many of whom are unaffiliateds.

We know very little about unaffiliateds because, for some indiscernible reason, pollsters have not probed the nature of the beast.

Groucho Marx used to say that he would decline to join any group that would have him as a member. It is possible that the bulk of unaffiliateds are anti-social Marxists. It is also possible that a goodly number of them are expats from both political parties who have alienated themselves from party politics for reasons good and bad. If this is the case, the breakdown among alienated unaffiliateds in Connecticut would pattern the general breakdown among the party faithful.

A data-driven understanding of unaffiliateds is essential in forming campaign strategies in a general election. There are no such studies, and in their absence campaigners more often than not become the victims of untested hypotheses. The first doubtful presumption is that unaffiliateds are “parties of one,” like Henry David Thoreau preparing to leave the comforts of Concord for the rude discomforts of Walden Pond. The second presumption is that unaffiliateds are non-ideological creatures – moderates rather than conservatives or progressives. Both assumptions may be wildly misleading.

In any case, it has become almost a tradition among Connecticut politicians moving from primaries to general elections to temper their primary messaging until, in a general election, its becomes a sort of ideological mush that appeals to everyone and no one. This is called winning a campaign on the cheap.

During the Democrat primary, Lamont and Byseiwicz gave no indication that their future administration would be other than a continuation of the disastrous reign of Dannel Malloy, whose approval rating is the lowest in the nation, though slightly higher than the Devil in Dante's ninth circle of Hell. The Republican program of Stefanowski/Markley has long since been hammered out in a rumbustious Republican primary.

Columnist Chris Powell noted a  tectonic shift in Lamont’s “overwrought if not hysterical acceptance speech admitting that the party's eight years in control of state government have laid Connecticut low and it desperately needs to change direction.”

There are two kinds of change, quantitative and qualitative. A quantitative change involves more of the same – more rodomontade from slippery politicians, more taxes, more spending. Lamont’s former gubernatorial primary opponent, Malloy, was a near perfect demagogue. So far, Lamont is only “nearly hysterical.” Demagoguery lies at the crossroad of hysteria and power. In ancient Greece, the demagogue was an accomplished rhetorician, a populist rabble-rouser who gained the affections of the populace by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, stirring the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation.

It may be well to bear in mind Mark Twain's sage advice: “When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

Here in Connecticut, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two to one margin, and unaffiliateds, about whom we know nothing, have a slight edge over Democrats, presenting a rich field in which the demagogue may sow populist tares among the wheat.

Eventually, comes the harvest of despair.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Tim Herbst And Connecticut's Third Rails

Some people, not generally Friends of Tim Herbst (FOH), think the Republican contender for governor is aggressive. He is, as has been noticed during the Republican primaries, somewhat less aggressive in his advertising than David Stemerman, but then Herbst commands a more modest campaign war chest.  Herbst disputes the slur; he says he is competitive.

However, the former First Selectman of Trumbull does have a habit of fondling third rails that other Republicans running for governor fear touching. Some of those rails – a hearty defense of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, every bit as inviolable as the First Amendment; peace and security in Connecticut; the socially disruptive effects of certain Malloy-Lawlor justice reforms; the abolition of Connecticut's death penalty on social rather than legal grounds by Connecticut’s constitutionally confused, left leaning Supreme Court; serious crime ripening in  Connecticut cities; a plenitude of illegal guns in a state that boasts some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country; the baneful effects of fatherlessness among young urban African American boys; and the constant chipping away of traditional morality by pretentious moral “reformists” – have gotten Herbst in Dutch with progressive social warriors.

Stemerman’s Deep Dive

Eric Bedner, a Journal Inquirer reporter, has been on top of the crumbling foundations story from the very beginning. Bender recently wrote about Republican gubernatorial candidate David Stemerman, one of many politicians who have made the pilgrimage to homes the foundations of which have been destroyed by the presence of pyrrhotite in the concrete mix, “Stemerman appeared to be far more knowledgeable of the issue than many of his competitors, many of whom learn the basics for the first time when speaking with homeowners.”

That is not at all surprising. Stemerman, who hopes to win the Republican primary for governor on August 14, is used to deep dives and, more often than not, he emerges with pearls in his hands.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Murphy’s Plan To Destroy The Insurance Industry

Nearly a year ago last September, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy unburdened himself to Vox reporter Jeff Stein. Vox Media is a reliably progressive site launched in 2014 by founders Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell, and Matthew Yglesias.

Stein titled his 2017 piece “Sen. Murphy thinks he can build an on-ramp to single payer health careand provided a helpful single line summary: “The Connecticut Democrat will advance a plan he argues ‘may be the fastest way to a single-payer system.’”

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