Thursday, June 27, 2013

What The Court Did And Did Not Say About Gay Marriage

It is extremely important to understand what the U.S. Supreme Court did AND DID NOT say concerning two cases it reviewed involving gay marriage.

In neither case did the court issue a finding on the constitutionality of gay marriage.

In a case involving Proposition 8 in California, a legally binding ballot initiative that banned gay marriage, the court declined to make a judgment and tossed the tennis ball back to a lower court. The issue before the court was whether the supporters of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative had legal "standing" to defend it in court after state officials had declined to appeal a finding issued by a lower court against the ballot initiative. The court ruled that those challenging the lower court decision had no legal standing to do so. 

The question addressed by the court in the second case was this: In states in which gay marriage has been made legal, is it permissible for the national government through a provision in a Defense of Marriage (DOMA) bill to deny to married gays federal benefits that accrue to married couples in non-gay relationships? The answer to that question, said the court in its majority opinion, is – no. If a state has recognized in law the validity of gay marriage – which is the case in Connecticut and 11 other states about half of which were initiated through court orders – U.S. Constitutional provisions require legally equal marriages to be treated equally.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia quite rightly lambasted Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, for having engaged in wild, unnecessary and misleading moral and sociological puffery.

There are scores of questions best left unanswered by the Supreme Court the chief responsibility of which is to say what the U.S. Constitution means. Mr. Scalia sensed that Mr. Kennedy in his majority opinion was drifting into an unquiet sea of dubious sociological and ethical prescriptions. And he said so in a scalding dissent:

To be sure (as the majority points out), the legislation is called the Defense of Marriage Act. But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to ‘disparage,’ ‘injure,’ ‘degrade,’ ‘demean,’ and ‘humiliate’ our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”

Indeed, the court does not know – and cannot know – the practical effects of what may be a revolutionary rearrangement of “an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence.” The traditional family – mom, dad and 2.5 kids, the number of children required in a marriage to assure the continuity of a state or nation – has been from time immemorial the DNA of the social structure of the Western world, buttressed and supported by rational laws friendly to normative ethical codes and religious proscriptions. Aristotle begins his “Politics” with a discussion of the traditional family as an indispensable political unit. It is no hyperbole to say that the traditional family has been the foundation stone of Western civilization. Now, theoretically it may be possible to erect a more just and fruitful society on a different foundation stone. But it is nonsense of the worst kind to suggest that so profound a readjustment will not disturb other social pillars.

Speculation of this kind should not enter into the decisions of the high court. The court should be driven by the law, and only by the law. When it descends to sociology and politics, it loses all its moral footing. Courts are called upon to judge, never to prescribe palliatives for social ills and moral disorders.  All this is best left to oleaginous politicians, commentators and other soothsayers.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome to 1991. Is It The Revolution Yet?

In 1991, then Governor Lowell Weicker was facing a stubborn billion dollar deficit that had been left on his doorstep by retiring Democratic Governor William O’Neill, an opponent of a state income tax that had first been publically proposed by Bill Cibes in a Democratic Party primary.

Running for the Democratic Party nod against Bruce Morrison, Mr. Cibes argued that the deficit and Connecticut’s parlous economic climate made it impossible for the state to raise the sales tax, then among the highest in the nation, or business taxes. An income tax was inevitable. ''The public,” Mr. Morrison retorted, “should beware of people who want to increase their taxes and call it reform.”

Mr. Cibes lost the primary – no surprise, really, since most Democrats from time immemorial had been income tax averse – and Mr. Weicker won 40 percent of the vote on Election Day, defeating both Republican John Rowland, who hauled in 37 percent of the vote, and Mr. Morrison. Although Mr. Weicker lost Fairfield and New Haven counties, he received strong support from the Hartford metro area after having been robustly endorsed by the Hartford Courant and state employee labor unions, according to an account in the New York Times.

Following his ascension to the governor’s office, Mr. Weicker brought Mr. Cibes on board as his Office of Policy Management (OPM) chief. Mr. Cibes then laid before the new governor the budgetary bad news, which instantly converted Mr. Weicker from an anti to a pro income tax fundamentalist  Elmer Gantry. On the way to instituting an income tax, Mr. Weicker had to step over an imposing hypocrisy bar, having insisted, along with all the other candidates running for governor that year save Mr. Cibes, that instituting an income tax, given the state’s dour economic condition, would be “like pouring gas in a fire.”

Shortly after the income tax bill passed into law, more than 40,000 protestors appeared at the state capitol demanding the tax be axed. The General Assembly obliged by passing a measure repealing the tax, which was vetoed by Mr. Weicker. The veto override fell one vote short of passing, and the income tax became a permanent feature of Connecticut life. To make the tax palatable to dubious legislators, a constitutional spending cap was attached to the final bill. In a dubious arrangement with the tribes, Weicker persuaded the Indians to surrender a portion of their slot earnings in return for a monopoly on gambling in the state, a protection racket reminiscent of Al Capone’s Chicago minus the machine guns.

Fast forward to Governor Dannel Malloy’s first term. Other governors have danced agilely around Connecticut’s inconvenient Constitutional spending cap. The constitutional spending cap specifies:

The general assembly shall not authorize an increase in general budget expenditures for any fiscal year above the amount of general budget expenditures authorized for the previous fiscal year by a percentage which exceeds the greater of the percentage increase in personal income or the percentage increase in inflation, unless the governor declares an emergency or the existence of extraordinary circumstances and at least three-fifths of the members of each house of the general assembly vote to exceed such limit for the purposes of such emergency or extraordinary circumstances.”

This spending stop sign has not prevented the state’s governmental apparatus from increasing spending threefold since it was instituted, although both inflation and personal income have remained flat during the same period. As a practical matter, largely because the General Assembly has yet to implement the constitutional law by providing necessary definitions, the constitutional cap is a spending compliant pussy cat. The Malloy administration and the Democratic dominated General Assembly this year breezed through the stop sign traveling at warp speed when both decided to remove $6 billion cap counted dollars from the strictures imposed by the state constitution.

The parallels between the Malloy and Weicker administrations are too obvious to ignore. Both governors raised taxes to discharge deficits; the Malloy tax increase is the largest in state history. The niggling little tax increases that the Weicker tax was supposed to ameliorate returned with a vengeance in Mr. Malloy’s first budget. Spending cuts in both administrations were doubtful and minimal. Mr. Weicker steered a course around Republicans and moderate Democrats to enact his tax increase, the second largest in state history. Mr. Malloy tossed Republicans from the room when he negotiated his budget, pre-approved by the General Assembly, with tax hungry unions. Mr. Weicker relied on state unions to get elected; Mr. Malloy relied on the same bunch to shape his budget. Both the Weicker and Malloy budgets were union friendly.

The Weicker recession that followed the imposition of his income tax lasted about 10 years. The Malloy recession, joined now to a national recession, will be more perdurable, even though the Malloyalists and progressives in the General Assembly remain giddily optimistic that Connecticut’s recovery will be swift and long lasting. The $6 billion the Malloy administration removed from the provisions of Connecticut’s constitutional cap should allow the Malloyalists to continue their improvident spending through the next elections. After that – who cares?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Murphy Among the Lilliputians

Seasoned members of the U.S. Senate may be forgiven if they think U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, elected to the Senate only five months ago, is a bit of an upstart. It is an unwritten rule in that august body that newly arrived Senators should be seen but not heard until they’ve paid their dues for a year.

In the past two years, Connecticut lost two Senators of longstanding, Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, who were replaced by Democrats Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both of whom in the last six months have been vigorously pressuring their brethren to vote into law a much watered down version of Connecticut’s recently adopted gun law.

These efforts, so far, have been unavailing.  Two months have passed since Speaker of the U.S. Senate Harry Reid announced that he declined to bring up for a vote in the Democratic controlled Senate a bill that would require background checks for gun purchasers.

In response to the horrific mass murder of children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut’s General Assembly quickly passed a gun bill widely regarded as the most restrictive in the nation, possibly outflanking Chicago, the murder capital of the Republic.

There is some reason to believe that the final gun bill in Connecticut was speedily passed -- far in advance of the completion of a criminal report on the Sandy Hook mass murder and without benefit of a final public hearing on the measure – so that the Connecticut legislation might be showcased in Washington D.C. prior to a pending vote on a national gun bill.

If so, the effort failed. Mr. Reid, convinced he could not marshal sufficient votes in the Senate to pass a bill infinitely less restrictive than the Connecticut legislation, recently declined to bring the bill before the Senate for a vote.

Governor Dannel Malloy -- who said concerning his state’s gun manufacturers as Connecticut’s gun restriction bill was being forced through the General Assembly’s sausage making machine, "What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible, even if they're deranged, even if they're mentally ill, even if they have a criminal record. They don't care” – was of course disappointed that a much weaker national gun restriction bill had failed to pass muster in the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate. And Connecticut’s two cloutless U.S.Senators were sorely frustrated. Both Mr. Blumenthal, now the state’s senior senator, and Mr. Murphy publically lashed out at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their weak-kneed comrades in the Senate whom they understood to be hanging limply from puppet strings attaching them to NRA campaign contributions.

Either of Connecticut’s now departed U.S. Senators might have told the two novice senators that such public intimations are no way to win friends and influence comrades in what some have called the world’s greatest deliberative body. Are Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy prepared to argue that Harry Reid, the Democratic Speaker of the Senate, is a mindless puppet of the NRA?

Well, are they?

Mr. Murphy in particular moves from rashness to rashness the way a flitting pollen collecting bee moves briskly from flower to flower. Along with U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Mr. Murphy – having danced a public jig over the grave of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment – has now proposed to add to the Constitution an amendment that would, according to some Constitutional scholars, “authorize Congress, states, and local governments to, for instance, restrict what most newspapers publish, restrict what most advocacy groups, such as the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and the NRA say, restrict what is said and done by most churches, and seize the property of corporations without just compensation.”

Here is Mr. Murphy’s proposed amendment:

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are unalienable
The Murphy amendment is a thoughtless and juvenile reaction to a Supreme Court holding that the rights and immunities of the U.S. Constitution should continue to apply to corporate entities. Mr. Murphy’s own state, one of the 13 original colonies, was founded as a royal chartered corporation. Constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, noted that “corporate entities,” include most media companies, nonprofit groups, and religious organizations. “Under the proposed amendment, all these groups—as well as ordinary businesses—would lose all their constitutional rights.”
Connecticut’s junior U.S. Senator appears to be determinedly working his way through the Bill of Rights in an attempt to purge it of its ancient excrescences. One can almost hear him ticking off the list: Second Amendment, done; First Amendment, done. For progressive utopianists unwilling to acknowledge a politics of limits, not even the rational limits imposed by constitutions, the sky is always the limit.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Taxes On The Way, Connecticut’s Receding Tide

Now that Republicans have been cut out of the budget loop by Governor Dannel Malloy and progressive leaders in the General Assembly, future budgets will be assembled by Mr. Malloy, tax hungry progressives in the state legislature, SEBAC, a coalition of union leaders authorized to negotiate contracts with the state, and economists at the tax gobbling University of Connecticut (UConn).

According to a story that ran in CTNewsJunkie, “Economists at the University of Connecticut recommended Thursday looking at instituting a statewide property tax to close more than $1 billion funding gap in the state’s education cost sharing formula.”

In the UConn report, contributing economist Stan McMillen notes that Connecticut has underfunded its statutorily required share of educational funding to municipalities for the last 5 years by about $1.09 billion. The UConn report weighs a few gap filling options, including a sales tax increase to 8.3 percent and a boost in the income tax of 13.8 percent, although the report seems to favor the statewide property tax as an “outside the box” solution to the problem.      

When asked whether he anticipated any negative consequences from enacting a new tax, Mr. McMillen said, according to the CTNewJunkie report, “it was a ‘pay me now or pay me later’ issue.

“’We’re underfunding by $1.09 billion. That’s going to have downstream consequences,’ he said.”

Long ago and far away, during the gubernatorial administration of maverick Governor Lowell Weicker, it was generally assumed by the state’s administrative arm – the governor, the Democratic majority in the state legislature, municipal politicians and the state’s media – that, confronted with a budget deficit, the state of Connecticut should increase taxes. Connecticut, it was often said at the time, was suffering from a revenue and not a spending problem. This theory, happily embraced by all whose futures depended on rapidly increasing taxation, could be entertained only in a state in which personal income was consistently rising.

Somewhere along the line, the theory was found wanting. In a recession, the receding tide lowers all the boats – the obverse of President John Kennedy’s sage observation that “a rising tide lifts all the boats.”

In a 1963 speech to the Economic Club of New York, Mr. Kennedy explained in great detail how he proposed to raise the tide and consequently lift all the boats. Mr. Kennedy was intent on increasing revenue by – and here it is necessary for progressives to hang onto their red Phrygian caps – decreasing business taxes. Once the rising tide had flushed money into federal coffers, the federal government would have the resources necessary to inaugurate Great Society programs.

“There are a number of ways by which the federal government can meet its responsibilities to aid economic growth… the most direct and significant kind of federal action aiding economic growth is to make possible an increase in private consumption and investment demand -- to cut the fetters which hold back private spending. In the past, this could be done in part by the increased use of credit and monetary tools, but our balance of payments today places limits on our use of those tools for expansion. It could also be done by increasing federal expenditures more rapidly than necessary, but such a course would soon demoralize both the government and our economy. If government is to retain the confidence of the people, it must not spend more than can be justified on grounds of national need or spent with maximum efficiency.

 “The final and best means of strengthening demands among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system – and this administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963…”

Mr. Kennedy was as good as his word. His program was enacted and a cataract of funds poured into the national treasury. Following Mr. Kennedy’s tax cuts, enacted after the president’s death in the Johnson administration, unemployment was reduced from 5.2% in 1964 to 4.5% in 1965 and further fell to 3.8% in 1966.  Though it had been estimated that the cuts would result in a loss of revenue, tax revenue increased in 1964 and 1965. The tide had lifted all the boats. After Mr. Kennedy’s assassination, his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, diverted some of the swelling revenues to finance his Great Society programs.

Would it not be a useful idea for someone in UConn’s economics department to record Mr. Kennedy’s address to the Economic Club of New York and run it on a continuous loop through the ear buds of the professoriate at UConn?

In the meantime, the idiot notion that Connecticut is suffering from revenue rather than a spending problem has been exploded even within the editorial pages of the state’s left of center media -- following the largest tax increase in the state’s history, which followed 22 years after the second largest tax increase in state history. That silly idea ought to be permanently buried in the fever swamps of progressivism.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Life After Politics

Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman has shown that there is life after politics.

The usual route for departing Beltway politicians is to associate themselves with a large law firm in some lobbying or quasi-lobbying capacity, thereby softening for the clients of the firm the burdensome laws and regulations they had so assiduously created as congressman.

Former U.S. Senator Chis Dodd managed to escape the mold somewhat when, after having left the Congress, he hitched his star to Hollywood. The author of the imponderable Dodd-Frank bill, so compendious that we still don’t know “what’s in it,” to borrow a phrase from Mr. Dodd’s compatriot in Congress, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Dodd is now busily engaged in attempting to convince his former associates to do something – anything! – about Chinese violations of U.S. copyright laws. Since former President Richard Nixon first touched glasses with mass murderer Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1972, the Chinese have busied themselves by stealing American technology and hacking into pretty much any business in the United States that may survive the Dodd-Frank boa constrictor.

Mr. Lieberman’s route is the more traditional one. After bidding goodbye to a Senate that has over the years become much less civil than it was when Mr. Lieberman first entered it from his position as Attorney General of Connecticut, a pathway also followed by U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, Mr. Lieberman has added his senatorial luster to Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, a firm that has in it 365 attorneys nationwide and is ranked 120 on the The National Law Journal's annual headcount survey.

Mr. Lieberman who, according to The Legal Times blog,  joined the firm as special council focusing on internal investigations and regulatory policy, has carried along with him Clarine Nardi Riddle,  who has joined the same firm as counsel and will lead its government affairs practice. Ms. Riddle served as a Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, Connecticut’s trial court of general jurisdiction, where she presided over cases involving criminal, foreclosure, zoning, juvenile, and residential and commercial housing matters. Ms. Riddle was also an Attorney General in Connecticut from 1989 to 1991 and has been for many years Chief of Staff for former Senator Lieberman. She co-founded No Labels, an organization of Democrats, Republicans and Independents devoted to breaking partisan gridlock in Washington DC. Mr. Lieberman, denied the Democratic nomination of his state party for the U.S. Senate in 2006, handily defeated his challenger Ned Lamont in the general election and rejoined the Senate as an Independent. Mr. Lieberman announced his resignation at the end of his term. He was succeeded by Chris Murphy, who has shown himself to be much more progressive and far more partisan than Mr. Lieberman.

Not that progressive Democrats in Connecticut have much to worry about; the Republican Party in the state has been effectively marginalized and the state’s left of center media tends to make a fuss only when one of its own prized concerns is roughed up in the back ally of Democratic partisan politics.

Freedom of information appears to have taken a hit recently; in the absence of effective Republican oversight in the General Assembly, some few legislative rats infested last-minute General Assembly bills; in a frantic effort to balance a chronically out of balanced budget fashioned in the partisan smithy of the Governor Dannel Malloy SEBAC combine, the General Assembly has legalized Keno, causing one left of center commentator to comment caustically: “We're all used to what they laughably call a process: Any time they want to do something repugnant, they blow off their rule book, slam the door on anyone who might fuss and pass some abomination before it can get press coverage. The Republican minority, most of the time, is an agreeable Vichy regime.”

But these are easily ignored inconvenient and temporary eruptions. No one within the one party state is much interested in backward looking grumblers who may impede the forward inevitable march of history. Bill Buckley’s war whoop that it is the business of lovers of liberty to stand athwart history shouting “Stop” is but a distant  memory. Without a permanent and vigorous opposition, the present regime will continue to map Connecticut’s future. Onward to Utopia!   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Early Endorsements For The Greenberg Campaign

Mark Greenberg has been putting holes in his shoes since he last announced his candidacy for the U.S. House in Connecticut’s 5th District.

Although the 2014 election is 17 months in the future, Mr. Greenberg already has issued some impressive endorsements.

"I am proud that so many leaders are supporting my campaign against Elizabeth Esty in the 5th Congressional District," Mr. Greenberg said. "These local and statewide leaders understand that Connecticut and our country cannot continue to follow the trail Obama and the Congressional Democrats are plodding down - a trail that has led only to economic stagnation, bigger government, and unprecedented intrusions on our liberties."

According to Mr. Greenberg’s press release, among Republican leaders who have committed early to Mr. Greenberg are:

State Representative Arthur J. O'Neill (Deputy Republican Leader-At-Large):

"I'm supporting Mark Greenberg because he has demonstrated a strong commitment to representing the people of the 5th District.  He has shown his commitment through his hard work in his previous campaigns to represent people of the 5th District based on the principles of the Republican Party."

Adam Grippo, Cheshire RTC Chairman/State Central Representative:

 "Mark Greenberg is the clear choice of voters who believe in the re-establishment of our inalienable rights and want responsibility returned to government."

 Paul Improta, Bethel RTC Chairman:

"I am proud to be endorsing Mark Greenberg for the Connecticut 5th U.S. Congressional District. Mark understands the issues affecting our state, and he has the experience and tenacity necessary to not only win a campaign, but when he gets to Washington he won't forget the reasons why he was sent there, and by whom. I know a winner when I see one, and Mark's a winner. I would encourage all Republicans to get behind Mark Greenberg, and let's win back the 5th district for Connecticut. We can be sure Mark will be a voice of sanity in Washington, DC, and a congressman we can all be proud of!"

Dwight Blint, New Britain RTC Chairman:

"I think Mark has proven that he is committed to the best interest of the residents of Connecticut, and to the success of his colleagues in the Republican Party. He has also shown himself to be a man of integrity and a true fiscal conservative. I am confident that if elected, he would bring a common sense approach that would benefit the taxpayers of Connecticut and our nation as a whole. That is why I urge my fellow Republicans to join me in supporting Mark."

Marianne Clark, Avon RTC/State Central Committee:

"I am proud to endorse Mark for the Fifth Congressional District. Mark Greenberg is a pillar in the conservative movement in Connecticut. Mark's campaign is about the people and the country we love. He genuinely cares about the public he seeks to serve and he has what it takes to fight for us in Washington. Mark has my vote and I encourage you to join me in supporting Mark Greenberg for Congress."

Mr. Greenberg lost the Republican Party nomination to then State Senator Andrew Roraback in a hotly contested earlier bid for the U.S. House.

On the Democratic side, the U.S. Congressional campaign of Speaker of the State House Chris Donovan, an early favorite, ran aground when the FBI opened an investigation into attempts by a union connected lobbyist to influence through illegal campaign donations the passage of a bill that for purposes of tax collections would have treated Roll Your Own (RYO) tobacco shops as cigarette manufacturers. Mr. Donovan, whose campaign finance chairman recently was found guilty of accepting a bribe, withdrew from the race, leaving the field open to Elizabeth Esty. Ms. Esty, the wife of Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), went on to defeat Mr. Roraback, who subsequently was nominated by Governor Dannel Malloy to Connecticut’s Superior Court, effectively removing him from the U.S. Congressional chessboard.

It’s still a long way to Tipperary, but Mr. Greenberg has now through his endorsements given his campaign an impressive boost.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Winsley Wants GOP Chairman Post

Take any group of political activists, put them together for a few years, shake well and you will get a brass band marching in several directions to the beat of each individual drum. This pretty much describes the tendency of any party central committee where entropy is king. Entropy, the inherent dissipation of useful energy, is a part of the natural process. In any machine, even a party machine, the accelerations of shocks of the moving parts represents what the mathematicians call losses of “moments of activity.”

The Republican Party in Connecticut has been missing “moments of activity” for quite some time. Many people, perhaps unjustly, point to party chairmen, convenient scapegoats, as being chiefly responsible for an entropy that left unchecked may ultimately result what physicists call “the state of maximum entropy,” which is a euphemism for – death.

There are three things the Republican Party must do to win elections: 1) get votes, 2) get money and 3) refine its message in such a way as to achieve 1 and 2.

Wayne Winsley, a motivational speaker and former radio host who waged an unsuccessful battle to unseat U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro in 2012, thinks he might be able to get it done for Republicans, and to this end he has announced his intention to seek the GOP chairman post, now held by Jerry Labriola. The Republican Party Central Committee vote for its chairman will occur on June 25 in Bristol.

“I am seeking the chairmanship for one reason and one reason only,” Mr. Winsley said in his media release, “to help turn the Republican Party into a winning party once again.”

 “As Republicans, we don’t need to change who we are, we just need to get better at telling people who we are and take that message to all of Connecticut’s voters. I believe that I am the best person to lead our party in this direction.”

Mr. Winsley vowed to “unite the different points of view within our party, energize our base and grow our party by aggressively marketing the Republican brand in every district and neighborhood” in the state.”

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Republican Prospects

During the last presidential election, Republicans put up against a popular president a candidate, Mitt Romney, who had a deep and admirable political and business history. Republicans were surprised when President Barack Obama, perhaps the most progressive political candidate since progressivism was showcased in a serious way in the 1912 national election, walked back into the Oval Office unruffled and unscathed.

The election was supposed to have pivoted on the economy – stupid. Instead, a majority of voters, overlooking economic indicators that almost certainly would have sunk the prospects of a lesser candidate, were persuaded to give Mr. Obama a second chance.

For Republicans, the “take-away” from the election ought to have been: Social issues trump economic issues – stupid.

During the last election, especially in Connecticut, Republicans had managed to keep a ten foot pole between themselves and social issues, while Democrats joyously embraced the notion of a paternalistic state. Mr. Obama had managed to cobble together a new coalition that gave him a significant margin in the election. He pulled others with him into office, especially within Connecticut and the New England states. Moderate Republicans – left of center on social issues – lost heavily to progressive Democrats disguised, for purposes of the election, as left of center traditional Democrats. After the election, the masks quickly came off.

No one should have been surprised at the magnitude of the losses for moderate Republicans in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast. The moderate Republican has been a species slated for extinction for a couple of decades. When Chris Shays lost his bid for the U.S. House in 2008, he was the last left of center House Republican in all of New England.

Barry Goldwater used to joke that if you lopped off California and New England, “You’ve got a pretty good country.” Connecticut, for all practical purposes now a one party state, has been effectively lopped off and added to the Democratic basket as an economic basket case.  All the state’s Constitutional offices are held by Democrats; the Democrats have controlled the state Senate since 1996 and the state House since 1986; and with the ascendancy of Dannel Malloy to the governor’s office in 2011, the Democrats were able to breech the so called Republican gubernatorial “fire wall’ for the first time since Governor William O’Neill had occupied the office. The clean sweep has made it possible for Mr. Malloy effectively to marginalize Republicans in the General Assembly. Republican leaders in the legislature were not permitted to put their fingerprints on either of the two budgets cobbled together by Mr. Malloy, progressive Democrats in the General Assembly with knives in their brains and SEBAC, the coalition of Connecticut unions authorized to negotiate contracts with the state.

The media in Connecticut -- for ideological and business reasons warmly attached to the Democratic Party – only lately has begun to notice that the state is slipping beneath an economic receding tide. The news that Connecticut had come in dead last among the 50 states in economic growth, according to a Bureau of Economic Analysis report made public on the day following the close of the budget session, was greeted by the state’s astonished left of center media with a gasp of astonishment. Business reporter for the Hartford Courant Dan Haar wrote, “In 18 years of following economic reports daily, this is the most shocking piece of news I've seen, period. As a bombshell, it rivals the $2.2 billion loss posted in January 1989 by Bank of New England — heralding the region's worst recession since World War II.”

Considering the nearly universal left of center bias of the state’s media, Republicans – if they ever should successfully raise a barricade against improvident spending – will not find the media on the right side of the fortification.  Connecticut’s media is uniformly convinced that hard times necessitates a strong central government to spur the economy by diverting tax dollars gathered from businesses already flagellated by burdensome regulations and high taxes to other promising companies the directing state regards as fruitful “investments.” The unitary state and high taxation invariably leads to a self-defeating crony capitalism in which taxpayers, rather than company investors, are forced to bear the burden of failure while one percenters enjoy infrequent successes.

Democrats this year have increased spending about 10 percent, when economic indicators show a flat-lining economy. They have imposed on the state the largest tax increase in its history. They have abolished the death penalty following a horrific multiple murder in Cheshire, which was followed by an even more horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (The shooter in that instance committed suicide; but, had he survived, Connecticut would have been forced to incarcerate the 20 year-old Adam Lanza for life. The death penalty abolition was passed by a cowardly, election conscious General Assembly that left in place the punishment for 11 prisoners on death row in clear violation of a principle underlying all jurisprudence pithily stated in Latin: Nulla poena sine lege – “Where there is no law, there is no transgression.”  Reporting on debates in the House of Commons, Samuel Johnson drew the proper corollary from the centuries old legal doctrine: “That where there is no law there is no transgression, is a maxim not only established by universal consent, but in itself evident and undeniable; and it is, Sir, surely no less certain that where there is no transgression, there can be no punishment.”)

Somewhere in this mush of progressivism an effective Republican counter campaign awaits birth. Whether Connecticut Republicans can tease from it a message that will spark a cleansing rebellion in Connecticut’s cities and towns depends ultimately upon the indispensable three M’s of any successful campaign: message, money and media.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Seven Snowballs In Hell

Apparently, snowballs do have a chance of not melting in the fiery furnace. A Hartford paper reported over the weekend that all seven members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation have “offered sharp criticism after newspapers revealed the administration’s sweeping government surveillance programs, which monitor cellphone and internet traffic in the name of national security.”

U.S. Representative Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, thought the monitoring program was too intense and overbroad: “I feel like the government is breaking all kinds of precedent here in increasing the intensity of its surveillance. There's a balance to be struck and generally it feels like we have lost that balance in favor of over-intrusive investigation and [data] collection."

Having opposed covert national security operations during the administration of George Bush, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy had little choice but to object to the expansion of the program under President Barack Obama. Not to do so would have been to expose oneself to charges of hypocrisy. In the Christian ethical sphere, there are seven deadly sins; among journalists, there is only one – hypocrisy.

Mr. Murphy said, “Increasingly, our anti-terrorism efforts are happening outside the full view of the public and Congress. Whether you're talking about the drone program or the [National Security Agency], the way we fight wars today involves doing more things than ever in a covert manner. It makes it hard to do real oversight when we don't know or can't talk about these things in open session."

This is a juvenile view of covert operations; it simply assumes that covert operations in the modern age need not be covert. Currently there are more than a hundred organizations officially designated as terrorist by various non-terrorist governments. The planted axiom in Mr. Murphy’s worldview is that the executive department of the United States may wait until the U.S. Congress nods its approval before security agencies in the United States collect data that may frustrate the ambitions of, to mention but one terrorist organization among many, al Qaeda -- which, despite the view of Mr. Obama, is gathering strength in the frost that has followed the so called “Arab Spring.” The crowd of protesters that surrounded the embassy in Cairo before terrorists assaulted the consulate in Benghazi was shouting, “Obama, Obama, we are a thousand Osamas.” Listening to Mr. Murphy on national security, one begins to lament the loss to the U.S. Senate of Joe Lieberman.

The “balance” between liberty and security was much on the mind of U.S. Representatives Joe Courtney and John Larson. Members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation, Mr. Courtney said, were poorly informed by Mr. Obama. “The notion that there was some broad based information-sharing with all members of Congress is not correct," Mr. Larson said. "I certainly respect the President's intentions and President Bush's before him, and the awesome responsibility that comes with wanting to make sure the nation is safe and secure but I remain convinced we have to be exceeding cautious in giving up our civil liberties. Everyone wants to get the bad guys, but what are we willing to give up for that?" Not immediately available for comment, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro mailed in a Hallmark card: She was “deeply concerned,” as was U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty.

The ever cautious U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal was, according to one report, “awaiting more answers.” Putting on his former Attorney General’s hat, Mr. Blumenthal acknowledged that the surveillance practices “feel very intrusive and invasive of potential rights. We have to know what the extent of it was. If it was simply widespread, random without limitations or any sort of probable cause, there might be a case that it should not have been undertaken."

One wonders whether Mr. Blumenthal had in mind the “potential rights” outlined in the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which plainly states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

An opinion from Mr. Blumenthal – no stranger to affidavits during his more than 20 years’ service as Connecticut’s Attorney General – on the questionable affidavit that was used by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s office to allow an unprecedented search of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private information would be most helpful.

Perhaps the chief question unaddressed by the members of Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation is this: At what point does the secret and massive accumulation of raw data become counterproductive? In a haystack so enlarged, does it not become progressively more difficult to find such needles as, say, the Boston bombers? Is there a point of diminishing returns in data collection? When is more less?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And Now, the Campaign

Almost immediately after Governor Dannel Malloy and Democrats in the General Assembly had put their budget to bed, a Hartford paper noted that however much lipstick Democrats put on the budget porker it was in many important respects still a pig.

Another media resource noted that while the governor had indicated he had been faithful to his earlier promise to hold the line on taxes – but not, tellingly, on spending – the new budget, Mr. Malloy’s second, placed new limits on tax credits, extended expiring taxes, boosted the gasoline tax 4 cents per gallon, drained from the transportation fund $120 million collected at the pumps during the last two years, depositing the money targeted for transportation needs into the general fund, resorted to $550 million worth of fund raids to plug holes in the budget, borrowed about two thirds of the $1.2 billion necessary to convert to a GAAP accounting system and shifted a little more than $6 billion of Medicaid spending from a constitutional capped budget so as to draw down an otherwise embarrassing deficit. 

And so the budget session ended -- in magic tricks of a kind once derided by Mr. Malloy and the Malloyalists.

On to the campaign.

The first campaign pitch of the season was delivered by Mr. Malloy at the close of the session. The closing session of the General Assembly usually ends with a love fest among incumbent legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, who fetch from it bragging rights useful to them in upcoming campaigns.

This year was different, frostier some have noted. Those who pay for the legislative bills may want to applaud the last day of the legislative session. Mark Twain, were he alive – and even dead he is livelier than most people in Connecticut who write about politicians – certainly would have reason to rejoice. It was Twain who said “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

On the last day of the legislative session, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that Connecticut had come in dead last among the 50 states in economic growth, a measure of the combined total of goods, services and salaries, the state’s equivalent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Connecticut’s Gross State Product (GSP) fell by 1 percent in both 2011 and 2012, the only state in the nation that had experienced such a dip as well as a painful downward revision from last year’s estimate of 2 percent growth.

Democrats pronounced their budget plan a success and loudly patted themselves on the back, brushing aside a report from the state’s non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis that had projected, only moments after the General Assembly adjourned, a $712 million gap in the first year of Connecticut’s new budget. Mr. Malloy, whose budgets have consistently been short by hundreds of millions of dollars, pointed out that the economy was not static but dynamic: “They're predicting deficits assuming that all conditions remain the same. I think what we've shown fairly broadly in this administration is that conditions don't remain the same. We're eliminating waste. We have numbers built in the budget that in fact do that."

Ah yes -- the numbers.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo this year submitted to the General Assembly a bill that would throw windows open on the numbers and expose to public view the hundreds of millions of dollars the state spends every year in economic assistance and tax credits putatively designed to promote economic development and job growth. His legislation, the Comptroller said, “would have established key transparency and open government measures related to these dollars.” Although Mr. Lembo’s sunshine bill survived the House, it died from inattention on the floor of the Senate, crushed by the forces of darkness in the General Assembly that prefer a gloaming in which numbers might more efficiently be fudged. Mr. Lembo, it should be mentioned, is the only Democrat in state government whose numbers have been consistently correct.

When legislative gate keepers Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams and Majority Leader Martin Looney were asked why they didn't call the bill for a vote, “Williams and Looney,” Jon Lender of the Hartford Courant reported, “mentioned a number of factors, including time, lack of an urgent need, and what they characterized as only lukewarm support by the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.”

When politicians find they cannot control the course of events, they more strenuously seek to control the flow of information, the better to create politically palatable fictional narratives – sometimes called campaigns. In a state in which competing parties have been neutered, fictional campaign talking points are rarely effectively rebutted by a somnolent politically compromised media. Some few reporters in the state stand out as exceptions that prove this rule, but there are far too few of them.   

The state Republican Party enjoyed two brief bright moments of bipartisan conviviality a short time ago when Republican votes were needed to pass a gun restriction law. The two parties came together a second time when Mr. Malloy needed Republican assistance in plugging an ever recurring hole in his first budget during a special session. After this bright dot of bipartisan sunshine, both the governor and Democratic legislative leaders, brought down the now familiar iron curtain when, for the second time, Republicans were shooed out of the room during budget negotiations.

The doleful Bureau of Economic Analysis report is more than a report; it is a marker of the state’s destiny. And the state’s swollen budget is also a directional marker. Budget wise, the state has returned to 1991, the date at which a state income tax was implemented to put Connecticut on a firm and permanent economic footing. Because spending has tripled since that auspicious date, the foundation has given way. The state is progressing backwards. Our destiny points downward, the usual direction of a one party operation. Darkness, secrecy, shady backroom dealings and the politics of the shadows has always followed in the uncontested rut of the one party state.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Democratic Partisan Backroom

Begin with the assumption, common among most journalists, that the principal purpose of the media is to provide people with the data necessary to form right political judgments, a theme that runs like a hot wire though most classic defenses of freedom of the press, including John Milton’s Areopagetica, a speech addressed by Milton to the English parliament subtitled “For the Liberty of UNLICENC'D PRINTING,

“This is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv's high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State than this?”

Milton’s speech was ignored by the parliament of his day but later made its way through the schools as a classic defense of free speech rights. It may still be taught in journalism classes; but if not, inquiring minds may pick it up on the internet.

What we might call the letter and spirit of the Areopagetica, one of the first and most vigorous defenses of free speech in the English speaking world, is often frustrated by political regimes for obvious reasons. The operative principle of most governing authorities – Yes, Virginia, even in the case of democracies – is this: That government governs best that governs in secret. All governments TEND towards secrecy. There are corollaries to this general tendency: In a democracy in which a free press has not been wholly co-opted by the governing authority, secrecy can only prosper with the willing acquiescence of journalists.

The governing authority in a democracy prefers to conduct its business in private back rooms because governing in the open is extremely difficult. Authoritarian democrats want to give the public an opportunity to ratify their decisions, but the public must be denied input while deliberations are in process. The United States, after all, is not a pure democracy but a republic, and it is the duty of every republican, as Edmund Burke once said, to exercise while in office one’s informed representative judgment.

In his “Speech to the Electors at Bristol, Burke said:

“Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

The judgments made by republican legislators, Burke goes on to declare, cannot be a mere matter of will and inclination, and he warned specifically against what we might call the “politics of interests.”

Parliamentarians and congressmen are not “ambassadors from different and hostile interests” but “parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.”

Connecticut’s final gun bill, the most restrictive in the nation, was not exposed to a public hearing before passage; Republicans consistently have been barred from budget deliberations; the independence of various watchdog commissions has been compromised; and – this is but a partial listing – the oversight responsibilities of the Freedom of Information Commission could only be diminished by proposed legislation  that removes from the purview of the FOI law information that for decades has been available for public inspection. Windows are closed, doors are slammed shut. These are the marks of a state that, fearful of the public notice, is steadily drifting towards a ruinous paternalistic solicitude, the enemy of democratic self-sufficiency. 

Temperamentally at least, most journalists are opposed to the iron curtain many politicians cannot resist drawing down upon their deliberations – especially when journalists sense that congress itself has become an ideological assembly devoted to the interest of self-maintenance, a prospect much more likely in a one party state. Connecticut is tending towards a one party state, and in the unitary state, the broad and general good of the people is the first sacrifice to the interests of the ruling party.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Democratic Arrogance And The Budget

Having raised taxes during his first term by $1.5 billion, the largest tax increase in state history, Governor Dannel Malloy is now poised to sign a biennial budget the bottom line of which is either $36.6 billion or $44 billion, according to CTMirror. Over two years,” CTMirror reports, “the new budget would spend $44 billion, based on the current method for reporting Medicaid spending,” a true figure of expenses now hidden behind an iron mask of gimmickry.

Democrats in the General Assembly – Republicans by design were excluded in the construction of both Mr. Malloy’s budgets – this year engaged in the most costly gimmick in state history, moving upwards of $6 billion in Medicaid costs outside the state’s constitutional cap, a sleigh of hand that makes a fiction of both the cap and the constitutional voice of all the citizens in Connecticut, whatever their political affiliation. Medicare costs for the next fiscal year amount to about $5.3 billion, part of which, about $3 billion, is offset by federal aid. The federal government -- now in arrears by about $17 trillion, a debt that has been increasing on an average of $2.77 billion per day since September 30, 2012 -- partially finances Medicaid for the first two years of Obamacare, after which the states assume payment for both the program and Medicaid liabilities, which will be considerable.

The constitutional cap was a legislative placebo offered by the administration of former Governor Lowell Weicker that enabled Mr. Weicker to harness a few votes in the General Assembly to pass his 1991 income tax – after Mr. Weicker had publically sworn in his gubernatorial campaign that instituting an income tax while the state was facing a deficit of a little over $1 billion would be like “pouring gas in a fire.” The ploy worked, the income tax was passed and, in the course of the following two decades, the bottom line of Connecticut’s budget more than tripled – that’s TRIPLED. Connecticut’s last pre-income tax budget was $7.5 billion; the current Malloy budget is $18.6 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $19 billion the next fiscal year.

In 2013, we may conclude positively and without any ambiguity 1) that spending follows in the rut of taxation so that increased taxation ALWAYS is followed by commensurate increases in spending, 2) the word “constitutional” is an term of art among Connecticut progressives in the legislature and the state house, and 3) Connecticut is now – like some of its corruption clogged, mismanaged cities – a one party state.

The two most important characteristics of progressivism are its disdain for limits and its blind faith in the omni-competence of government. Joined to a unitary state, the heady combination is both intoxicating and corrosive to liberties. Not only is the Malloy administration the most expensive in state history, it is also the most aggressively progressive.  

Democrats in Connecticut completed their absolute control of state government the day after Dannel Malloy was sworn in as Governor, and the problem with absolute power, Lord Acton reminds us, is that it corrupts absolutely. “Great men,” Lord Acton averred, “are almost always bad men.”

The limitless power now enjoyed by Democrats in Connecticut would make a saint stray in the direction of arrogance, and none of the members of the state’s General Assembly are saints. If men were saints, government itself would be unnecessary; so said James Madison, widely regarded as the father of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights, both of which set limits to governmental power.

Madison’s full quote, found in the Federalist Papers, should be swallowed whole unparsed:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

One of the auxiliary precautions that people supposed would prevent the state’s General Assembly from spending at will was the constitutional budget cap – RIP, June 1, 2013.