Thursday, August 22, 2019

Rebranding Progressive Democrats In Connecticut

Image result for brandingThere will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet…
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

 -- T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Connecticut And The Catholic Thing

The headline in the Hartford Courant is, or perhaps should be, a blow to the solar plexus: “Catholic couple say (sic) daughter’s removal was due to religious bias.”

The couple, it would appear from the story itself, does have a case. Whether the case can be settled justly in the state of Connecticut is, as the logicians say, a separate issue.

The parents are referred to in the story as John and Jane Doe, not at all unusual in cases of this kind. The Attorney General’s office, obligated by statute to defend state agencies in court cases, is insisting that the names of John and Jane Doe should be made known because “the couple asserts no harm and requests no action on behalf of their daughter, but are suing in their individual capacities and claiming emotional distress.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Take The Money And Run

Chris Davis -- CTNewsJunkie

Xerox Corporation, headquartered in Norwalk, was not the first, nor will it be the last, of Connecticut’s anchor companies to take the money and run. The administration of former Governor Dannel Malloy, desperate as it was generous, lathered Xerox with $4.4 million in loans 2017, in return for which the company promised to keep 150 jobs create 40 more in four years, according to a piece in the a Hartford paper.

The additional jobs would in turn produce additional taxpayers, who would as the years rolled by swell the state’s treasury with additional dollars. Malloy, a life-long politician rather than a businessman, at least got that part of the economic equation right: more taxpayers equal more tax revenue. Corollary 1: tax reduction – albeit only for targeted industries – increases revenue. Corollary 2: tax reduction good, tax increases bad.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Naming Connecticut

A rose by any other name, the poet says would smell as sweet. However, we should never forget that naming is essential. No one appreciates this more than journalists and philosophers who are in the business of correctly naming people, things and ideas.

The name “Connecticuter” (pronounced Connetta-cutter) has cropped up recently as a possible name for people who live in Connecticut.

The name Connecticut itself, like other native-American place names, presents unique difficulties because they are tongue twisters. The tongue trips over Quinnipiac College; some talking heads invariably mispronounce it.  Connecticut the place was named with reference to the river that flows through it, called by native-Americans Quinnehtukqut, which means "beside the long tidal river."

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Abolish the Port Authority

The sole political purpose of the Port Authority is to deprive local authorities in Connecticut of their rightful authority over their own ports.

The power grab may be plainly seen in the scandal unfolding in New London, covered by the watchful New London Day. Perhaps the most efficient way of depriving The Day of its reportorial authority would be to set up a “journalism authority” to superintend stories and editorials in the paper. Of course, no self-respecting reporter or commentator would agree to such an overarching authority, and any state government that proposed one would be marched in tar and feathers to, say, Venezuela, where newspapers are written under the watchful eyes of Nicolás Maduro, a once and, one hopes, future bus driver.

The Port Authority, just to begin with, is a quasi-public governmental organ, somewhat like a centaur, half man, half beast – neither one nor the other. It is a transcendent political organ, the political errors of which cannot be corrected by the usual democratic means – vote the bums out! – and therefore is, by its very nature, quasi-democratic. Like most quasi-public agencies, the Port Authority is easily used by clever politicians as a political walk-around. If a governor of Connecticut should wish to fiddle while the port of New London burns, he can do so certain that no one will be clamoring for his head. In fact, no head of any quasi democratic agency will roll off the public guillotine, because such “Authorities” transcend the usual democratic process. When mistakes are made at the Port Authority, which part of the centaur – the quasi part, or the public part – will be held liable by the voting public?

Friday, August 09, 2019

The Company They Keep: Sanders The Socialist

It is no longer true, as your mother may once have told you, that you are judged by the company you keep. Former President Barack Obama had a few diamonds in the rough on his friends list. There were the Chicago terrorist bombers Bill Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground, now an American elementary education theorist, and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, responsible for bombings of the United States Capitol, the Pentagon, and several police stations in New York, as well as the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion that killed three of its members. Dohrn left a position in 2013 as “Clinical Associate Professor of Law" at the Northwestern University School of Law.

Far from being a repentant sinner, Ayres told the New York Times in 2001 "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers and Obama served together on the board of directors for the Woods Fund of Chicago, their terms overlapping for three years, and Ayres is credited with jump-starting Obama’s political career. In 1995, Alice Palmer introduced Obama as her chosen successor in the Illinois State Senate at a gathering held in the Ayers home.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Connecticut’s SAT scores: It’s Not Race

The news from Connecticut’s education front is not good. According to a piece in CTMirror, SAT results show that “One-third of high school juniors are not reading and writing well enough to begin taking college courses or start a career, statewide SAT results released Monday show. Math results are even more dire – 59 percent failed to meet the college- or career-ready standard.”

The figures indicate that the yawning “gaps in achievement between minority students and their white peers” have not improved. Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Bureau Chief Connecticut State Department of Education Performance Office, said the scores show slight improvements for minority students but there is still work to be done.”

The locution “still work to be done” is one of those polite phrases that hide a multitude of sins. Some colleges have added an “adversity index” to their SAT exams. High School juniors in Connecticut are failing to meet “career ready standards” for reasons other than race or ethnic origin. The failure of African American high school juniors to meet standards met by “white” students, we may be sure, has nothing to do with the amount of melanin in their skin; and Hispanic students who have descended from a racial line that gave the world Cervantes and Jorge Luis Borges needn’t worry that they cannot meet standard SAT scores because they are Hispanic rather than, say white – whatever that means – or Asian.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Connecticut’s Socialists On Socialized Insurance

John Larson fulminating
A Hartford Courant statehouse reporter, Daniela Altimari, has had the intestinal fortitude to question Democrats in the U.S. Congressional Delegation concerning an attack upon the insurance industry in Connecticut. The title of her piece, With thousands of jobs at stake, Medicare for All is a complicated issue for Democrats in Hartford, the ‘Insurance Capital of the World’ is a bit cumbersome, but it frames the issue perfectly.

First up at bat is Rep. John Larson, the congressman for life in Connecticut’s 1st District, an impregnable Democrat fortress. Larson says he does not believe that Medicare For All should eliminate the insurance company product. And he is quoted in the piece: “Hey, Medicare for All, that’s a laudable goal. It’s something people can wrap their arms around. But like anything else, there’s a lot of detail that goes with that.” One of the details that goes with that is the certain destruction of insurance as we know it in Connecticut, once regarded as the insurance capital of the world.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

DeLauro And Impeachment

Blumenthal and DeLauro
To impeach or not to impeach? That is the question?

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has said no. And US Representative Rosa DeLauro, congresswoman for life in the impregnable 3rd District in New Haven County, last held by a Republican 36 years ago, has seconded the motion. DeLauro has occupied her seat, unruffled by Republican challengers, for 28 years.

DeLauro is married to Stan Greenberg, a pollster and consultant whose opinions on things Democrat are held in high esteem by Democrats DeLauro invites to their plush digs in Washington DC. Who says you can’t enrich yourself supping at the public trough?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Powell And The Accidental Politician

Chris Powell
This sort of thing should happen more often.

Early in June, someone asked Chris Powell, a fierce defender of open government, to address the annual general meeting of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. Powell is one of those newsmen with a sense of humor, rare these days, who really does believe that the distribution of knowledge is indispensable to a flourishing democracy. And public intelligence involves unimpeded access to the organs of government, an access routinely threatened by hegemonic, one-party government.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Blumenthal Visits The Border

Crisis at the Border January to June
It’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, the closest Connecticut will ever get to a political saint, visited the U.S. Mexico border near the end of July and arrived home to plaudits.

Blumenthal is used to plaudits. One can count on the fingers of one hand the number of criticisms the left leaning Blumenthal received when he was Connecticut’s attorney general, a post he held in good odor for more than twenty years. But then, Blumenthal was expert in the ways of media, having been in his college years an editor of the Harvard Crimson. His media releases during his days as attorney general, liberally studded with explosive adjectives and disguised rhetorical IED’s, read as if they had been written by the New York Times editorial board.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lamont Fools Around

Gail Lavielle
You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. – Abe Lincoln

If Governor Ned Lamont -- approval rating at the end of April 33 percent -- fails re-election to a second term in 2023, the inscription on his political tombstone may well read, “He flopped when he should have flipped.” The serial mistakes of the Lamont administration so far are beginning to look alarmingly like incompetence.

Rep. Gail Lavielle of Wilton, a former ranking member of the Education Committee and now a ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, not easily appalled, said she was appalled at the process deployed by the Lamont administration to select the Commissioner of the State Board of Education.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tolls, The Second Thoughts Gambit

Lamont Looney Aresimowicz
Clever frogs know how to take a step back so that they might advance two steps forward.

Governor Ned Lamont met recently with the governors of two contiguous states, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to palaver about infrastructure maintenance. A fierce middle class taxpayer opposition to tolling in Connecticut has given the governor and the two Democrat gate-keepers in the General Assembly, Senate President Martin Looney and Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, political hiccups.

Lamont began pushing for tolls during his election campaign for governor. In that campaign, Republican nominee for governor Bob Stefanowski was widely derided by Democrats and critics in the state’s media for centering his campaign on a pledge to do away with Connecticut’s income tax over a ten year period. Pressing on, Stefanowski said his pledge was aspirational and, once accomplished, would reset Connecticut in New England’s crown as a haven from excessive taxation. In addition, it would force politicians in the state to confront the ongoing problem of excessive spending.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Lamont Jaw Jaws the WSJ

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont traveled to New York the other day to convince Wall Street Journal editorial writers that his state is in the grip of a turn-around, thanks to the Lamont administration.

The business oriented WSJ is not at all the same media gang that covers the Lamont administration at home. Most Connecticut news outlets are willing to allow Lamont a loose tether; not so the WSJ, which has been critical of the direction of the state for the past few decades.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Vernon Union In Compliance With Supreme Court But Not AFSCME Council 4

The larger principle underlying the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 is this:  To compel people to give money to a cause of which they disapprove is the very definition of tyranny. The court decision ending the automatic deduction of union dues from employee paychecks naturally did not go down well with unions.
Recently, the town of Vernon bumped heads with union honchos. Administrator for the Town of Vernon Michael Purcaro has said that ending automatic union dues deductions protects the town, taxpayers and employees from any legal issues in the wake of the Janus decision. The town, attempting to bring itself into compliance with the Janus decision, ran afoul of AFSCME Council 4, according to a piece by Marc Fitch in The Yankee Institute, a non-partisan Connecticut think tank.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Harp Harpoons A Wife

Harp and Elicker
Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven, Hartford Courant reporter Chris Keating tells us, “has won 14 consecutive elections in her hometown, dating to her first run for state Senate in 1992.” That is as close to invulnerability as one might expect in a Democrat machine run city. The Republican Party has been for years but a ghostly presence in Connecticut’s larger cities. The last Republican mayor of the city, William Celanto, a funeral director and its first Italian –American mayor, left office in 1953, more than six decades ago. Democrats, out polling Republicans by a ratio of 15-1, have owned the shop ever since.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Business Of Politics And The Politics Of Business

When Ned Lamont was elected Governor of Connecticut last November, many businessmen in the state breathed a sigh of relieve. Finally, one imagines them imagining, one of us is at the helm. Possibly Lamont was a businessman who understood a principle some trace back to Alexander Hamilton --- the business of politics is business.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Back To The Future In Connecticut

“When the fiscal year closes,"Governor Ned Lamont said after he had dotted the “i’s” and crossed the “t’s” of his budget, "Connecticut will have the largest rainy day fund in history and this budget maintains and grows our reserves, providing reliability and predictability for our taxpayers, businesses, and those looking to invest in our state well into the future.”

Lamont did not bother to pause and ask, “Why does the state need such large reserves, the largest in state history?”

Friday, June 28, 2019

Connecticut's Administrative State Is Not The Real State

Thomas Hooker
After Governor Ned Lamont had signed a budget that Republican leaders in the state House and Senate insist is woefully out of balance and therefore unconstitutional, a eupeptic Lamont said this: “For years, instability in the state’s finances has resulted in slow growth and volatility in our economy — and this budget was adopted with a focus on providing the foundation from which our state can grow,” Lamont said. “When the fiscal year closes, Connecticut will have the largest rainy day fund in history and this budget maintains and grows our reserves, providing reliability and predictability for our taxpayers, businesses, and those looking to invest in our state well into the future.”

Republicans Len Fasano and Themis Klarides are likely right. The Lamont-Looney-Aresimowicz budget depends upon tax receipt projections that are, to put it mildly, fanciful. The budget hawks at CTMirror tell us, “The new $43.4 billion, two-year plan “ recently signed by Lamont “assumes $180 million in income tax receipts that neither Lamont’s analysts — nor the legislature’s — projected in their last joint forecast.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The GOP Chairman Contest

What does the Republican Party need to do to wrest control of the fate of Connecticut from dominant Democrats who outnumber Republicans in the state by a two to one margin? Pollsters tell us that unaffiliateds slightly outnumber Democrats. Will a change in the party chairmanship do it?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Bronin, Damaged Goods Or Urban Savior?

Mayor Luke Bronin of Hartford will be facing six Democrat mayoralty opponents, nearly all of whom insist that the bonds of affection that tie former Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief counsel to the city of Hartford are not, shall we say, fierce.

The lede in a Hartford Courant story ominously titled “Luke Bronin has again promised to serve a full four years as Hartford mayor. Will voters believe him this time?” pretty much sums up the general discontent: “Mayor Luke Bronin said this week it’s his intention, if re-elected, to spend all four years in office, and to support Gov. Ned Lamont in his own potential bid for a second term. But the familiar pledge, given during an interview with The Courant, carries less weight than it did four years ago when the 38-year-old, then a candidate heading into the mayoral primary, made what turned out to be an empty promise.”

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Pelosi In Connecticut

Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi came to Connecticut trailing clouds of impeachment.

Impeachment is the removal of a governmental official from office. When the official is a president duly elected to office in a national vote -- rather than, say, a judge -- cautious politicians tend to be cautious. Pelosi herself is said to be, in most news reports, opposed to impeachment. Newly elected U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes said she would favor impeachment “if the facts merit.”

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Republicans To Lamont’s Toll Proposal -- No

Following a meeting with Republican and Democrat leaders of the General Assembly, the question before the house being tolls, Governor Ned Lamont was asked by a reporter how things went.

Lamont answered, “Well, as they say after those State Department summits, I’d say we had frank and honest discussions,” meaning the bipartisan needle had not moved forward.

Republicans, and likely much of the state, do not want tolls. “’No, we don’t support tolls, period,’ said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven,” in a CTMirror account. “He added that he believes Senate Democrats would not call a vote on tolls without some Republican support, an assertion Senate Democratic leaders would not confirm or dispute.”

President Pro Tem of the state Senate Martin Looney -- along with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz, both legislative goalies -- was asked to comment on the frank and honest discussions. “’I would not comment on that directly until we have a caucus,’ said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, a senator-for-life from New Haven. ‘I do believe it would be preferable for an issue of this magnitude to be bipartisan.’”

Monday, June 17, 2019

Blumenthal Rearranges The Legal Universe

If the law “shielding the gun industry from lawsuits,” the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, were to be removed, the manufacturer of an illegally acquired firearm used by Frankie “The Razor” Resto sometime ago to murder the co-owner of an EZMart in Meriden, Connecticut -- after Resto’s victim already had handed over to him the demanded cash -- would be at the mercy of rapacious prosecutors such as US Senator Dick Blumenthal.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Lamont’s SEBAC Head Bump

Governor Ned Lamont, we are told by Christine Stewart of CTNewsJunkie, is about to bump heads with SEBAC union heads authorized to form contracts with Connecticut’s executive department. No need to wonder whose head will break first.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt solved the problem of the union organization of federal workers in 1937 when, approached by Luther Stewart, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, to allow collective bargaining, Roosevelt nixed the idea for the best of reasons.

Roosevelt wrote to Stewart, “… the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

UTC Flies The Coop

Martin Looney
United Technologies (UTC), yet another home grown Connecticut institution, has flown the coop – this time for Boston, Massachusetts, the state’s chief corporate poacher.

The day after the announcement had been made, the state’s Democrat spinmeisters were busy putting a happy face on the event. We discover from a Hartford Courant piece that pretty much everyone in the state was surprised by the announcement. Political cuckholds are always the last to know when their best laid plans are torn asunder.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Lamont's Tolling Boil

Democrats put off a vote on tolling during the recently concluded legislative session because, plain and simple, they did not have the votes to pass a tolling bill.

But hope springs eternal.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz thought he may have had the votes to pass the measure in the House, but passage was still an iffy proposition.

Mark Pazniokas writes in the Hartford Business Journal, “Aresimowicz’s comments reflect a belief among lawmakers that the Lamont administration botched the rollout of tolls in February, giving Republicans, the trucking industry and others an opportunity to frame tolls as just another demand on residents.”

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Connecticut Down, Prologue

The reader will find below three self-interviews that are meant to serve as a prologue to a longer piece – “Connecticut Down.”  The first is set a little more than a month after Governor Ned Lamont had been sworn into office; the second is set just before Lamont presented his budget to the General Assembly; and the last is set a day after the Lamont/Looney/Aresimowicz budget was passed by the state Senate.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Blumenthal… Wakey, Wakey…

Someone should nudge awake Connecticut U.S. Senators Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. The FISA warrant used to secure the services of special prosecutor Robert Mueller was defective from the get-go, we learn in a series of stunning opinion pieces in The Hill written by John Solomon. It appears there is an after-story to the Mueller investigation after all, and the second act will almost certainly disappoint the two Trump-slayers.

One of the stories’ ledes probably should garner Solomon a Pulitzer for commentary eye-candy: “The FBI’s sworn story to a federal court about its asset, Christopher Steele, is fraying faster than a $5 souvenir T-shirt bought at a tourist trap.” And the second graph might be a close runner-up: “Newly unearthed memos show a high-ranking government official who met with Steele in October 2016 determined some of the Donald Trump dirt that Steele was simultaneously digging up for the FBI and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media.”

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Real Reform In Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont’s slippage in the polls is not surprising. Former Governor Dan Malloy, now gainfully employed reforming education in Maine, casts a long shadow, and Lamont’s policy prescriptions – including his budget, now on its way to approval by the Democrat dominated General Assembly – do not differ much from Malloy’s in matters of getting and spending.

Some may notice that a new expression, “modernize” and its variants, has made its way into Democrat oratory. Lamont said of his massive sales tax increases, “Look, we’re gonna try and modernize our sales tax structure… In fact, wanna know why sales tax revenues are already up compared to what we had expected” That’s cause of sales tax applying to e-commerce.”

Lamont is a graduate of high-priced colleges. So what’s all this business about “gonna” and “wanna”? Do Harvard and Yale lack speech teachers? The use of the word “modernize” is gonna become an Orwellian catch phrase for “increasing and broadening sales taxes.” This expression may have been hammered out by the smithies hired by Lamont to make his policy prescriptions palatable to the voting public. The Orwellianism may have come from former Malloy campaign coach Roy Occhiogrosso, the Vice President of Global Strategies. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Pelosi And The John Bailey Dinner

The recently re-installed Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, will be the featured speaker at the Connecticut Democrat’s annual fundraising dinner. Pelosi is known, among other things, for her ability to bring home the bennies, and Connecticut Democrats no doubt will be happy to receive them – not that the state’s Democrat Party is, by any measure, a poor waif begging for pennies on street corners.

The Annual Gathering of Democrats used to be called “The Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner.” But Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, and Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, generally regarded as the father of the modern Democrat Party, were both booted from the marque some years ago because both were slave owners. Jackson, in addition, displaced Native Americans from their ancestral homelands in what later became known as “The Trail of Tears.”

Upon ejection, the Hartford Courant noted editorially that Connecticut Democrats were well rid of the two. Their displacement left Connecticut Party boss John Bailey as the lone survivor, and the event is now called The John Bailey Dinner, to be held this year on Friday, June 21 at the Hartford Civic Center. The price of tickets range from $200, general admission, to $1,000 for deep pocket VIPs. The counterpart money grab among Republicans is called The Prescott Bush Dinner. Neither Bailey, the last Connecticut Democrat Party boss, nor Bush, Connecticut’s U.S. Senator from 1952 to 1963 -- the political scion of the Bush dynasty that produced two U.S. Presidents, father and son George H.W. Bush and George H. Bush – owned slaves.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Connecticut And The Politics Of Culture

Leftists are winning the culture war, the war on western civilization, because rootless politicians have shown themselves unwilling to enter the lists and do battle with the new morality.

For this reason, American culture is being redefined – reinvented, as the leftists would have it – by social anarchists with knives in their brains. It has become fashionable among New York leftist politicians to wink at, and even to publicly celebrate, infanticide. No assault on traditional sensibilities, it would seem, is beyond the pale.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s notion that third trimester abortion is too close to infanticide to be tolerated by men and women of conscience is now regarded as embarrassingly quaint  by New York’s smart set, among whom are Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, not his birth name.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Stranger In Our Midst

Rob Sampson
In a piece in the New England Intelligencer (NEI) printed last January, “Malloy, The Sanctuary Governor,” the governor’s spokesman, addressing Malloy’s views on sanctuary cities, said this: “We are continuing to work with and await guidance from the appropriate federal agencies on screening measures that will be taken. With that said, if refugees – many who are children fleeing a horrific war-torn country—seek and are granted asylum after a rigorous security process, we should and will welcome them in Connecticut.”

That sentiment was encapsulated in a piece of legislation, the “Trust Act”, that has now been amended by Connecticut’s current Democrat dominated State Senate. And the changes are stunning, possibly even dangerous.

The “Trust Act", which prevents law enforcement officials in Connecticut from enforcing ICE detainers, did not incorporate whatever “guidance from the appropriate federal agencies on screening measures” in the bill. Illegal intruders admitted by stealth into the United States are unvetted; in all such cases, it is impossible to know who they are or where they are located – unless the illegal intruder brings himself to the attention of law enforcement officials, most often through the commission of a crime. It is impossible to assert that ICE nodded its assent to a bill that created sanctuaries from ICE, but the initial bill did allow reasonable exemptions – cases in which serious criminals would be reported to ICE by state officials.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Connecticut’s Detour

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world… W. B. Yeats 

It seems ages ago that a major newspaper in Connecticut firmly decided that Connecticut was suffering from a spending rather than a revenue problem; meaning that budget deficits in the future should be liquidated by spending cuts and not tax increases.

Naturally, few politicians, chiefly those on the Democrat side of the political barricades, paid much attention to this change of heart and mind. Faced with chronic and continuing budget deficits – the state’s present biennial budget deficit is about $4 billion – Connecticut’s Democrat politicians continued piling on tax increases. Former Governor Dan Malloy, who retired from office following his second term, was a chronic revenue increaser, aided, of course, by a Democrat dominated General Assembly. Malloy’s approval rating plummeted more or less in concert with his tax increases, and he left office the least popular governor in the nation with an approval rating hovering around 25 percent.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

All The Governor’s Men, Occhiogrosso

Occhiogrosso and Malloy
Tolling in Connecticut is what the advertising men would call a tough sell, and it helps in circumstances such as these to bring in some political spin doctors to assist in the delivery.

Many people in Connecticut, almost certainly a majority, do not want tolls. On May 9, No Tolls Connecticut delivered to the governor’s office a “No Tolls” petition signed by 100,000 people.

Candidate for governor Ned Lamont said during his campaign he would favor tolls only if people outside the state, truck drivers mostly, would be depositing their mites in Connecticut’s revenue collection basket. He said this several times while the TV cameras were rolling. Later Lamont changed his mind, always the prerogative of pretty women and ambitious politicians. But Lamont’s reversal – which came shortly after he had won his gubernatorial campaign – could not be justified as a “misspeak.” He could have used the services of a good narrative builder right there, but Roy Occhiogrosso, former Governor Dan Malloy’s flack catcher and narrative builder perhaps was busy hauling in the dollars from his other clients.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Crony Capitalism, Not Down And Out In Connecticut

Ned Lamont
Six years ago, Jim Powell wrote what many in Connecticut considered at the time a stunning piece in Forbes Magazine titled “How Did Rich Connecticut Morph Into One Of America's Worst Performing Economies?

The piece was mentioned in Connecticut Commentary and columns two months after it had been published in August 2013. This is what was said about it at the time: “All the red flags fluttering in the Powell piece “point to an economically diminished and bleak future – unless and until the grown-ups take charge of Connecticut’s tax grubbing, high spending, crony capitalist government… Far from being a solution to our economic woes, crony capitalism – in which [then Governor Dannel] Malloy and leaders in the General Assembly plunder the private economy of entrepreneurial capital they then bestow on favored companies – encourages polite bribery between tax dispensers and large corporations, while introducing toxic levels of moral uncertainty into a business-governmental relationship that should be even-handed and just. Crony capitalism tilts in favor of large, resource rich companies what U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal might regard, if he thought about it, as the economic ‘even playing field.’ It is the work of a day for large politically connected companies to use the agencies of government to drive healthy competition from the field.”

Sunday, May 05, 2019

To Russia With Love, Blumenthal’s Choice

Blumenthal sworn into office by Biden in a mock ceremony
The leading Democrats scrambling up the presidential campaign greasy pole are former Vice President in the Obama administration Joe Biden, 29 percent in a Quinnipiac poll, followed by Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, 19 percent in the same poll, both of whom have had past sweet and sour relationships, none of them the subject of congressional hearings,  with communist Russia. President Donald Trump continues to be slammed by Democrats owing to his still alleged warm relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, collusion with the Ruskies having been put in the cooler after the Mueller investigation, but these two… not so much.

Biden’s questionable relationship with Ukraine, a country that had in the past locked horns with Russia numerous times – in 1932, Joseph Stalin created a man-made famine to haul Ukraine into the Soviet orbit – recently re-surfaced in a New York Times piece that is certain to catch the eyes of those who have questioned President Trump’s presumed warm relationship with Putin.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Pensioning Off Pension Debt To Towns

The Democrat plan to “to have cities and towns share in the cost of public school teachers’ pensions,” as the Hartford Courant put it in a recent story, continues to be “controversial,” perhaps the understatement of the year. The plan would “cost municipalities a combined $73 million a year and would lead to property tax increases across the state.”

The principal spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Kevin Maloney, has characterized the plan to shift to towns some cost of pensions without giving the towns the opportunity to cut spending by reducing teacher salaries and benefits  as “the largest unfunded state mandate in recent memory,” and the executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns Betsy Gara has said, “Shifting $73 million in pension costs onto the backs of already overburdened homeowners and other property taxpayers will diminish housing values, undermining our state and local economies."

Local government relies on property taxes to run municipal governments, and here too the state plans to partly deprive these rival municipal governments of their means of financing through a series of measures: eliminating property tax on cars, raising the tax on home ownership by boosting from 70% to 100%  the assessed value of houses, and more.

The characterizations of Maloney and Gara, though true, are not likely to move the legislative needle, now stuck on "Democrat."

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Connecticut Taxes, Amazon Strikes Back At Willy Loman

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"'s better for a man just to walk away. But if you can't walk away? I guess that's when it's tough” -- Willy Loman, “Death of a Salesman”

The old saying is “You can’t fight City Hall.” That is partly true. City Hall is huge and more powerful than you. The gods of government have resources denied to the little people, but then government is supposed to be on the side of the little people, as is the media, a presumed joint support that tends to even the perpetual battle between the lions of the market place and … let’s call him Willy, after Willy Loman, the chief character in Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman.”

The Willy of this piece is a Connecticut salesman – there are many of them – who do business with Amazon. And Willy has a problem that will not be settled by the usual white-hatted Attorney General of Connecticut or legislators who weep over the little guy or the media, afflicters of the comfortable and comforters of the afflicted. You can bet your house on that.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Progressive Moralists Among Us

State Representative Josh Elliot, a progressive Democrat from Hamden, views the state budget as “a moral document that can be used to create a more equitable and fair society,” the Hartford Courant tells us. The paper quotes Elliot on the point: “Are you taking an economic frame and saying ‘what can we do to grow GDP at all costs?’ … Or are you taking a moral and ethical frame and saying ‘what can we do to build up a just society?’ And I think those two questions are at loggerheads right now.”

There is a welter of confusion here. The point Elliot appears to be making is that progressives like himself view the economy as having a moral dimension lost to free-marketers, i.e. redundantly rich capitalists concerned only – note the devil word “only” -- with growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It would not be possible in Elliot’s view for a free-marketer like, say, Fredrick Hayek, author of “The Road To Serfdom” -- a ruthless attack against the collectivist ethos that informs socialism, communism, progressivism and fascism -- to be a moralist.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Lamont’s 100 Days Report Card

Well, that didn’t take long. Morning Consult  tracks the favorable and unfavorable ratings of governors across the United States. According to the rating service, Governor Ned Lamont’s favorability rating is hovering around 33 percent 100 days into the new administration. The bulk of the discontent can only be attributed to disappointed expectations.

Former Governor Dannel Malloy, who high-tailed it to his old alma mater, Boston Law, following his not unexpected decision to abandon thoughts of a third term in office, absconded with an approval rating of about 29 percent. Shortly before he threw in the towel, Malloy was the most unpopular governor in the United States.

Ironists – if there are any such creatures among Connecticut political watchers – will dwell on the  as yet unexamined ironies. How did it happen that an electorate that had registered such profound disappointment with Malloy never-the-less elected as his successor another Democrat who managed to acquire, after only 100 days, an approval rating that puts him in 5th place among the lowest rated governors in the country?

There are various theories bouncing around that may square this apparent circle.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Blumenthal vs Barr

The sound and fury over President Donald Trump’s now exploded "conspiracy" with Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine the Trump/Clinton election in favor of Trump is abating following the publication of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive 448 page report.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow reported last December, “Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide.” The serpent coiled in that line is that the Trump team HAD colluded with the Russians.  Naturally, the mud throwers are perversely unrepentant. After a two year investigation, Mueller’s team “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign colluded or coordinated with the Russian government,” according to Mueller’s report.

In fact, the often touted suspicions of leading Democrat propagandists – first that Trump had “conspired” against the interests of the United States, a crime and a charge later lowered to “collusion” by those disappointed with the election results, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal among them – turned out to be, Mueller said in language as plain as the ego te absolve of the confessional, a molehill blown into a mountain by Trump’s accusers.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Other Solution: Cut Spending

A piece by Keith Phaneuf in CTMirror, “Who pays the next CT tax hike? Democrats must answer question soonpresents half of the right question.

 Listening to Democrats in the General Assembly in this the winter of our discontent leaves the impression that one has heard half a conversation. The debate in the General Assembly and, unfortunately, in the media, ALL OF IT, is about discharging deficits through tax increases. But a deficit, like a coin, has two sides. And a “comprehensive solution” to our problems that shows only one face is no solution.

If the level of spending in Connecticut continues to increase at a rapid rate – and that will assuredly happen if Connecticut continues to pursue a course all too familiar ever since former Governor Lowell Weicker forced his income tax down the throat of a somewhat resistant legislature in 1991 – and if the underside of the getting and spending coin continues to remain face-down on Connecticut’s table, then tax increases are inescapable, a boon to cowardly and lazy politicians.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Sanders-Blumenthal Utopia

“If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever” – George Orwell.

CBS News has announced that Vermont’s Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders’ "Medicare for All" bill would, according to Sanders himself, "get rid of insurance companies and drug companies making billions of dollars in profit every single year." The bill is a universal health care, one size fits all, tax financed, proposal. Connecticut's U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, CTMirror reports, was one of 14 co-sponsors of Sanders’s bill.

“In my view,” Sanders said of his bill, “the current debate over 'Medicare for All' really has nothing to do with health care. It’s all about greed and profiteering. It is about whether we maintain a dysfunctional system which allows the top five health insurance companies to make over $20 billion in profits last year.”

But, of course, the Sanders bill has everything to do with health care. If adopted into law, it would effectively abolish insurance companies. Sanders himself has said that his "Medicare for All" scheme would "get rid of insurance companies and drug companies making billions of dollars in profit every single year.”

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Progressive Prohibitionists And The Politics Of Vengeance

Government begins to be a bother when it uses the power of the state to prohibit normative behavior. The primary instrument of compulsion in this case is – and should never be – the tax code. Ordinary people who would not know a political ideology from a lamppost may be forgiven for reacting normally to a government that uses the tax code to shape behavior.

And yet this practice has become as common as table salt, which some people believe should be taxed exorbitantly because it isn’t good for you.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

The Tweeting 21st Century, A Meditation

One of my college professors – let’s call him Stringfellow – spoke in long, flowing sentences, each of which might easily have been parsed into sparkling separate mini-poems. He liked Faulkner, disliked Hemingway, and tolerated Tennessee Williams for two reasons. Williams consciously structured some of his plays on classical Greek models – compare “Suddenly Last Summer” with Euripides’ “The Bacchae” – and Tennessee, he thought, was a name one could conjure with, as Wallace Stevens did adeptly in "Anecdote of the Jar," the first line of which runs, “I placed a jar in Tennessee/ And round it was, upon a hill …”

One day, a student asked Stringfellow – this would have been in the middle 60’s – “When do you plan to join the 20th century?’ to which Stringfellow replied, “It would be a very wicked thing to wish to be a part of the 20th century.”

Thursday, April 04, 2019

MeToo In Connecticut

Image result for JIm Himes + Joe BidenThe MeToo movement has arrived finally in Connecticut, the land of steady habits. “Biden accuser rips Democrats,” an April 3rd, above the fold, front page headline in The Hartford Courant screeches.

And the story, written by Neil Vigdor, bulges with quotes.

“The Democrats definitely don’t like to hold their own accountable,” said Amy Lappos, referring to an awkward incident that occurred in 2009, ten years ago when she was a congressional aide to U.S. Representative Jim Himes, during a $1,000 per plate fundraising luncheon held at the home of affordable housing developer Ron Moelis, a Greenwich moneybags.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Legislative Attack On Connecticut Faith-Based Health Centers

The devil lies in the definitions provided in House Bill 7070. In 1991, a constitutional amendment providing for an income tax and a cap on spending narrowly passed in Connecticut’s General Assembly. The income tax, for good or ill, passed muster and was soon applied; not so the cap on spending. Nearly thirty years later, Attorney General George Jepsen advised that the spending cap was void because legislators had not provided needed definitions to activate it.

The title of House Bill 7070, introduced by the Public Health Committee, is “AN ACT CONCERNING DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING PRACTICES OF LIMITED SERVICES PREGNANCY CENTERS.The bill addresses the alleged deceptive advertising practices of “limited services pregnancy centers,” more commonly known as “faith-based pregnancy centers,” and the legislation is outrigged with a full array of definitions that miraculously do not apply to so called “health centers” providing abortion, even though, as some have pointed out, abortion providers may engage in misleading advertising.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Zawistowski Rights A Wrong

The little Pink House in New London was moved to another location after a long, unsuccessful protest by its owner, property rights advocate Susette Kelo. The property upon which it rested was seized by eminent domain so that it could be made available to Pfizer Inc. It was a rare seizure. Usually, property seized under eminent domain is made available for some public purpose. In Kelo, the Fort Trumbull Property was transferred from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. The property was seized by the state because New London wished to induce Pfizer to set up shop on the property. Pfizer moved on; nature soon reclaimed the vacant property.

Kelo lost her battle when the US Supreme Court shamelessly decided in favor of the City of New London, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005).

The case produced two notable dissents, one written by Justice O'Connor, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and Thomas, and a separate, originalist dissent written by Thomas.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Real Cost Of Tax Increases

Arguing against a legislatively imposed minimum wage increase, Brian Jessurun, co-owner of four northeastern Connecticut restaurants, writes in an op-ed in a Hartford paper: “By all accepted accounting metrics, this state is virtually bankrupt. Reputable estimates place Connecticut’s unfunded liability debt at $70,000 per taxpayer, more than many of them have set aside for their own retirements. The only chance we have of getting out from under that burden is a burst of prolonged prosperity, which would increase state revenues without significantly increasing the taxes that are already driving away job creating businesses and tax paying residents.”

At last, some readers of the paper in which the op-ed appeared might exclaim – light!

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