Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Irrelevant Republican Warns That His Former Party May Become Irrelevant

This may be the first time in Connecticut history that an irrelevant former Republican U.S. Senator of long standing has warned his former party that it faces irrelevancy.

The new crop of Republicans in Connecticut – young, brash, conservative and determined to remember but overcome their past – may have trouble recalling who former U.S. Senator and Governor Lowell Weicker was. The past tense is important because Mr. Weicker, who once dubbed himself “the turd in the Republican Party punchbowl,” scooted out the political door after he had, as an independent governor, imposed the second largest tax increases on young Republicans he now seductively courts in the op-ed pages of the Hartford Courant.

The First Prize in tax increases belongs to current Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy. When Mr. Malloy put the tax yoke around the shoulders of young Democrats, Republicans and Independents in Connecticut, someone, probably a left of center former Weickerite, corralled Mr. Weicker and pumped an opinion from him. Mr. Weicker said he quite understood the necessity of such a tax increase. The Democratic Party, after a long pregnancy, had finally given birth to a Weicker clone in Mr. Malloy: The two progressives were simpatico.

Throughout his career, both in the Senate and as Governor, Mr. Weicker has shown himself to be constitutionally unable of making a proper distinction between the state – i.e. all the people in Connecticut – and the state apparatus, or state government, which sometimes does and sometimes does not serve the interests of the people. The megalomaniacal politician will assume he is the state; it should not surprise serious students of history that democracy on occasion may produce a “Sun King” whose operative principle is "L'etat, c'est moi (I am the state)."

Mr. Weicker continues to defend his income tax as a boon to the state. And here lies the root of his confusion. The income tax was a boon to progressive politicians who would rather cut their own throats than cut taxes or trim spending. But such politicians are NOT the state.

Since the imposition of the Weicker tax, spending in Connecticut has increased threefold -- within the short space of four governors: Governor Weicker, an Independent, Republican Governors John Rowland and Jodi Rell, both moderate and far less vitriolic towards their own party than “Sun King” Weicker, and Dannel Malloy, a progressive.

The arc in Connecticut politics since Mr. Weicker was “booted from the GOP in 1988, when I lost my Senate election,” Mr. Weicker’s formulation in his Courant Op-Ed, has been from centrist politics to progressivism. Former Governor Ella Grasso, a moderate Democrat, fought tooth and claw against an income tax. The line of Democratic succession from Mrs. Grasso to Mr. Malloy is a movement from the kind of fiscal conservatism favored by William Buckley, Mr. Wicker’s nemeses, to the kind of progressivism once lauded by prairie populists and Woodrow Wilson progressives.

Where in Connecticut politics is the breaker that will prevent Connecticut from sliding absent-mindedly back – not forward – into the progressive era? Progressivism is the old, tried and failed thing; conservatism, at least that brand of it recommended by Mr. Buckley, is the new thing, and Mr. Weicker, who professes in his Op-Ed that he once took a lesson from Barry Goldwater, the Storm Petrel of the modern conservative party, HATES it, absolutely HATES it.

The reference to Mr. Goldwater in Mr. Weicker’s Op-Ed is precious: “I remember chatting with Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona, one day in the Senate cloakroom as he commented on a photograph in The Washington Post of my friend Sen. Bill Proxmire, D-Wisconsin, with his new hair transplant. In Barry's conservative words, ‘I don't mind what's on his head. I worry about what's in it!’ Well, so do I when it comes to the Republican hierarchy in Connecticut.”

One hardly knows where to begin in commenting upon Mr. Weicker’s comment on Mr. Goldwater, historically the red carpet to President Ronald Reagan and the author of “The Conscience of a Conservative,” said to be ghostwritten, at least in part, by Mr. Weicker’s chief Connecticut nemeses, Bill Buckley, who was partly responsible for booting Mr. Weicker from the GOP in 1988.

Mr. Goldwater, it will be recalled, was the guy who said about Mr. Weicker’s brand of left of center Republicanism as practiced in New England, “If you cut off New England and California, you’ve got a pretty good country.” But here in his Op-Ed, Mr. Weicker is appropriating Mr. Goldwater’s NAME only to give unction to Mr. Weicker’s deathless dream – the utter and absolute destruction of the Connecticut Republican Party that in 1988 gave Mr. Weicker the boot. In point of fact, it was Mr. Weicker who, during his long senatorial run in office, continually gave his state party the boot.

And in his latest advice to his cast off party in the current Courant Op-Ed, Mr. Weicker offers what he perceives to be a dying party a final and deadly sip of hemlock: The Republican Party should open its primaries to Independents. That proposal was first made by Mr. Weicker’s now diseased dear friend, Tom D’Amore, at a time when Mr. Weicker, the self-professed “turd in the Republican Party punchbowl” saw, if only in his imagination, the approach of a Democratic Party opponent who might spoil his game and succeed in booting him out of office. Enter Attorney General Joe Lieberman, and the rest, as the historians say, is history.

It may help the Connecticut Republican Party to remember that Mr. Weicker also is history, and that those who do not remember their history correctly are doomed to repeat its errors.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Some notable politician who is not Catholic really ought to come to the defense of Catholics – because they are now under assault from anti-Catholic Catholic politicians. Just as there is no anti-communist so fierce as an ex-communist, so there is no anti-Catholic quite so energetically opposed to Catholic orthodoxy as a Catholic politician on the make and in need of votes from others who may share his distaste for all things Catholic.

The uninterrupted assault on Catholics, the Reverend Robert Barron points out in National Review, is bone wearingly old. Arthur Schlesinger, the reliably liberal historian and social critic, used to say that a poisonous anti-Catholicism was the oldest prejudice in the United States, an early bloom that washed upon our shore with the arrival of the Mayflower.

In the Boston of Sam Adams’ day, anti-Papists used to place an effigy of the pope in a chair that was paraded through the streets – Boston’s version of the English Guy Fawkes celebration – to be jeered at pelted with missiles launched by the equivalent of today’s anti-Catholic Catholic politicians.

Without the aid of Catholic France, General George Washington could not have prevailed over the British, and Washington, who rarely forgot the patriotic good deeds of his friends, recalled this saving service when he addressed his letter to the Catholic Church in America in 1790. It was Mr. Washington’s hope, he wrote, that “as mankind becomes more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government.”

Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to Danbury Baptists a letter in which he used the phrase “separation of church and state,” showed his appreciation of the work of the Catholic Church in a world set against it.

When, following the acquisition of Louisiana from Napoleon, the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans wrote to then President Jefferson expressing fears they might lose their property under the new governance of the United States, Mr. Jefferson wrote back to assure the nuns that the Constitution prevented the government of the United States from using its power to deprive them of their religious liberties:

To the Soeur Therese de St. Xavier Farjon Superior, and the Nuns of the order of St. Ursula at New Orleans.

I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana. The principles of the constitution and government of the United States are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to it’s own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. Whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and it’s furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up it’s younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under. Be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.

I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship & respect.

Mr. Jefferson’s view that the government of the United States should – because it must constitutionally – make accommodations favorable to religious institutions was but a whisper in the wind for most Catholics in the United States who continued in the grip of oppression. In Boston, shortly after Mr. Jefferson issued his letter to the Ursulaine nuns, a Mother Superior in a Boston nunnery unsuccessfully held off a mob that burnt her nunnery to the ground.

To put it briefly, Catholics in America never had an easy time of it, especially just before and after the Civil War, when poor German and Irish immigrants, later Italians, began flooding major cities in the Northeast. Used to the Know-Nothings of the Lincoln period, the invidious, anti-Catholic Blaine laws, and what then must have seemed the unassuageable anti-Catholic animus of those whose motto seemed to be “We’re aboard, tow up the life-line,” Northeast Catholics were not at all surprised when then Senator of Massachusetts Jack Kennedy asserted in his campaign for the presidency that he could never become the Pope’s political stooge.

Some Catholics still prefer Hilaire Belloc’s more courageous formulation. On the stump in England, one of Mr. Belloc’s speeches was interrupted by a heckler who accused him of being a papist. Mr. Belloc fetched in his pocket for his rosary beads, flourished them over his head and thundered at the heckler, “Madam, do you see these beads? I pray on them every night before I go to bed, and every morning when I awake. And if that offends you, madam, I pray God that he spare me the ignominy of representing you in parliament.”

Jefferson might have applauded that remark. But not Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.

Here’s Reverend Barron on Cuomo:

“In the course of a radio interview, Governor Andrew Cuomo blithely declared that anyone who is pro-life on the issue of abortion or who is opposed to gay marriage is ‘not welcome’ in his state of New York. Mind you, the governor did not simply say that such people are wrong-headed or misguided; he didn’t say that they should be opposed politically or that good arguments against their position should be mounted; he said they should be actively excluded from civil society! As many commentators have already pointed out, Governor Cuomo was thereby excluding roughly half of the citizens of the United States and, presumably, his own father, Mario Cuomo, who once famously declared that he was personally opposed to abortion. Again, the very hysterical quality of this statement suggests that an irrational prejudice gave rise to it.”

The reverend is a priest and therefore an interested party. G. K. Chesterton, Belloc’s friend, was a convert and so understood Catholicism from the outside in, and he saw Mr. Cuomo descending the staircase of history decades before he was born:

"Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense . . . becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined skepticism, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding to no form of creed and contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Republicans On The Run

The state Democratic Party, much wealthier than the state Republican Party, is now spending some of its dollars on imported gunslingers such as James Hallinan, a political hessian hired by party central to throw mud at Republican candidates for governor, a certain sign that the election season is upon us.  Democrats in Connecticut hold all the state’s constitutional offices, have veto proof majorities in the General Assembly, and presently have in their campaign coffers 14 times more cash than Republicans.

Some of the mudslinging has backfired. Even a few liberal commentators have winced at the slops that regularly cross their news desks but, as Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, “Throw enough mud and some will stick – stick but not stain.”

Governor Dannel Malloy’s low rating in the polls, some commentators have noted, may give Republicans an opportunity to win back the governorship, last held by Jodi Rell, Mr. Malloy’s polar opposite. Mr. Malloy is a pro-union, left of center politician; Mrs. Rell, a creature of the legislature, was a moderate Republican of a kind that once held office in most of New England, the land that conservatism forgot. Barry Goldwater, the Will Rogers of the modern conservative movement, used to say, “If you cut off New England and California, you’ve got a pretty good country.”

For reasons not yet explored by any of New England’s major research institutions, the moderate Republican in New England has become something of a vanishing species. In Connecticut, the species is as extinct as the Dodo bird. All the members of Connecticut U.S. Congressional delegation are left of center progressives, some more brash than others. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy shouts his progressivism from the rooftops, but then he is likely to moderate his tone when he next faces voters in three years. U.S. Representative Jim Himes is more discreet; he travels among progressives with his ideology tucked into the breast pocket of his expensive looking suit. Hip U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro is fearless, as anyone would be in a district that has not elected a Republican to the U.S. House in more than 30 years; ditto U.S. Representative John Larson of the gerrymandered 1st District, last held by a Republican nearly 60 years ago.

Whatever may be ailing the Republican Party in Connecticut, its losses cannot be attributed to conservative incumbents. There are none, though there is little doubt that Democrats running for office in 2014 will be banging the drums loudly against fictitious conservative threats and Tea Party “extremists,” northern Republicans clinging desperately to their guns, their wallets and their bibles – that sort of thing. The 2014 Democratic campaign script, however fantastic its claims, has already been written, much of it in Washington D.C. and Chicago, where President Barack Obama’s former campaign script writers hold court. Chicago is the murder capital of the United States, and the Democratic Party War Room in Washington D.C. is party central for propaganda that will be picked up by state parties.

Political reality in Connecticut is quite different than in other parts of the country. Here in the land of steady progressive habits, the Democratic Party has almost completely routed Republicans, especially in large, one-party cities such as New Haven, which this year had the distinction of electing as mayor a Democratic Party fixture whose husband, now diseased, was the top tax scofflaw in the city over which his wife, Toni Harp, now presides.

Speeding her plow in a Democratic primary were the usual notables: Governor Dannel Malloy, author of the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, for more than 20 years a crusading Attorney General who, in his former position, used to scowl fiercely at folk who avoided paying their fair share of taxes, and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, the National Rifle Association’s bĂȘte noir.

In one party states, politicians working the media get to choose not only their friends but their enemies as well – and never mind that the “enemy” is largely a Potemkin Village fiction. The Tea Party in Connecticut presents a greater threat to RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) than to progressive Democrats. And for this reason, they can be safely attacked by incumbent Democrats who never met a constitutional bulwark they could not leap over. Economic conservatives among Republican campaigners become poorer than Democrats in direct proportion to their defense of rational budgets, spending cuts and appeals to the self-interests of entrepreneurial wealth producers. This is an arc that has been visible over skies in Connecticut for more than 50 years.

Is it not a wonder that only a handful of reporters, editors and commentators in the state have noticed the debt pots at each end of the progressive rainbow? When, at the end of the downward plunge, Connecticut inevitably becomes the Venezuela of New England – Crumbling Venezuela was once considered the Paris of Latin America, but not even Paris is Paris anymore – those rooted in the rubble may well ask the tribunes of the people, “Why did you not warn us of the impending disaster?”

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Malloy, Connecticut’s Crony Capitalist-In-Chief

When Governor Dannel Malloy first came into office, some commentators who had paid close attention to his campaign assumed he was ready to vigorously attack spending.

He had often enough during his campaign batted around the catch phrase “fair share.” It was generally understood that everyone in Connecticut would, under the Malloy dispensation, be expected to contribute his “fair share” in taxes and give-backs, and most people expected, after the new governor had imposed on taxpayers the largest tax increase in state history, that the consumption side of government would see proportional reductions in spending.

The tax increase was immediate and, some would argue, devastating to an economy in the grip of a prolonged recession: See President Jack Kennedy’s speech to the Economic Club of New York. Mr. Malloy’s prospective savings, as it turned out, would be distant and amorphous.

Who could have guessed, as the Malloy campaign rolled out, that the governor would soon become Connecticut’s Crony Capitalist-in-chief?

Mr. Malloy has since dumped millions of taxpayer dollars on the state’s economic roulette wheel; he calls this sort of thing “investing in the future.”

Any real investor in Connecticut – and there are some still huddled together in what used to be called Connecticut’s “Gold Coast,” many of whom have made successful investments and consequently have contributed their “fair share” to Connecticut’s economy – could have told Mr. Malloy that such business investments are iffy propositions. The venture capitalist terrain is littered with the dead bodies of venture capitalists who have gone broke investing private dollars in failing ventures.

How does the private market identify the right investment? Well, it consults the appropriate indicators and determines that, taken together, all the parts of the business under review have passed rather stringent tests that indicate its future will be a bright one. Mr. Malloy’s investments of state tax dollars in questionable businesses depend almost wholly on his vision of a future vibrant Connecticut economy – or, to put it in layman’s terms, wishful thinking.

Wishful thinking is the seed bed of Crony Capitalism, and Mr. Malloy’s thoughts concerning the future of his state certainly are grandiose. He wants Connecticut to be a leader in advanced medical research, and to this end he has showered favors upon – just to pick one of Mr. Malloy’s many investments – the UConn Health Center (UCHC). For many years UCHC was a tax sinkhole. But now that Mr. Malloy has attached Jackson Laboratories to the sink hole, it will… what? Non-profit research facilities such as Jackson Laboratories cannot turn a profit, which means such facilities cannot enlarge the state’s treasury. No matter: UCHC will become a more prestigious tax sinkhole, even if no water can be pressed out of that rock.

The winnowing process in the private economy that allows investors to determine profitable from non-profitable investment early on, before the investor loses his shirt and declares bankruptcy, is simply not present in government bankrolled crony capitalists ventures – where all bets are always for keeps.

Suppose Connecticut’s future prosperity does not lie in medical research? Then what?

There are two inescapable problems with crony capitalism. The first is that governors and presidents are not economic seers; they know far less than the private economy – which is driven by supply and demand – what the future portends. The second problem is every bit as serious. A dollar invested in venture A by Governor Know-It-All is a dollar taken from taxpayer B that, had it remained in the private marketplace, might have been more profitably invested in product C, thereby producing an invigorated economy that would have contributed more tax dollars to Governor-Know-It-All.

The private economy creates wealth; crony capitalism creates the illusion of wealth. If you have taken a bucket of water from the low end of the pool and dumped it into the deep end of the pool, have you raised the water level of the pool? Transfers of wealth do not create wealth.

Some commentators have caught on to the imposture. Noting that Mr. Malloy had favored Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut  with a tax funded “loan of $800,000 at a sharply discounted interest rate for improvements at the auto racing track, $200,000 being forgivable if the track increases employment by 23 over two years,” Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer writes in his column:

“But there are other auto racing tracks and mortgage companies in Connecticut, and helping just one of each disadvantages the others, and so what is created at one employer may be lost at another. This is a ‘command economy’ approach, with government picking winners and losers and defeating free markets. Because the ‘command economy’ approach transfers advantages more than it creates anything, it is unlikely to help the state's economy much.”

Well… not as much as it will help Mr. Malloy, who dispenses tax dollars to appreciative multibillion dollar companies, haul in campaign contributions to Connecticut’s crony capitalist Democratic Party.

It does not seem to matter much whether a carrot or a stick is used to pry campaign contributions from redundantly rich One-Percenters. If Obamacare ever gets off the ground, one may expect insurance giants to show their appreciation to the crony capitalists who had forced young people -- on pain of paying punishing fines – to purchase insurance they neither want nor need. For similar reasons, the multi-billion dollar companies upon which Mr. Malloy has showered millions in tax receipts or tax credits will show their gratitude when the campaign collector comes knocking on their doors. And that’s always good business for politicians.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Bridge Too Far, Senator Christie?

There are, believe it or not, Republicans in Northern Connecticut. Like Republicans in the rest of the state, they remain closeted, and their voting influence in Connecticut is negligible – except in urban areas, where it is non-existent. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a ratio of two to one; in the cities, the ratio is two to zero.

But every so often, a closeted Republican gets his hackles up over some manifest indignity, and such was the case early in the New Year, after Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie permitted one of his staffers to drop him metaphorically off the George Washington Bridge.

In “Speak Out,” a regular feature of The Rockville Reminder, Connecticut Commentary finds this:

“Could someone bring me up to speed on this Chris Christie bridge scandal? Did he drive off one with a girl in his car who was not his wife and leave her to drown, making absolutely no attempt whatsoever to save her life? Why did he [Mr. Christie] take full responsibility? Why didn’t he just say, ‘I knew nothing about this, until I read about it in the newspaper? Then the mainstream media would declare it a ‘non-story,’ and we could all just forget about it, pretend it never happened and move on.”

Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use yet another fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politician – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.

Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use yet another fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politician – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.

The hidden reference, of course, is to the late Senator of Massachusetts Edward Kennedy, the “Lion of the Senate” who quitted this veil of tears in 2009, after having roared in that body for 47 years. At his funeral, Mr. Kennedy was given a splendid launch towards the Pearly Gates by his Democratic confreres in the Senate, and former U.S. Republican Senator Lowell Weicker.

According to most accounts, Mr. Kennedy, following the accident, had returned to the party he and Ms. Kopechene attended, passing several houses and a fire station along the way. He then returned to Dyke Bridge with two friends who had advised him that he was required by law to report the accident. Thereafter, Mr. Kennedy, no doubt tuckered out from his ordeal, made his way to a hotel, called his lawyer and went to sleep. An autopsy on the body of Ms. Kopechne was not permitted by her family, but the diver who pulled her body from the submerged car later said, according to multiple reports , that Ms. Kopechne “had positioned herself near the back seat wheel well where an air pocket had formed, and had apparently suffocated rather than drowned” – which means that Ms. Kopechne’s life might have been saved had Mr. Kennedy summoned help immediately from houses close to the scene of the accident.

The sons and daughters of Camelot would do well to take up the anonymous Rockville Reminder correspondent on one important point. We have it from then U.S. Senator Kennedy that the Senator DID make repeated attempts to save the drowning Mary Jo Kopechne (born 1940, drowned 1969). 

It is generally acknowledged that the preventable drowning in Poucha Pond put an end to Mr. Kennedy’s presidential ambitions, but the incident at Dyke Bridge did not interfere with Mr. Kennedy’s senatorial ambitions.

The “t’s” have not yet been crossed, nor the “i’s” dotted, on what is being called “Christiegate.”

Seasoned political watchers are skeptical that Mr. Christie’s defense will hold up under scrutiny. Mr. Christie has said he was unaware of his team’s effort to punish a Democratic mayor who did not enthusiastically embrace his campaign by causing an unnecessary traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. Doubtful political commentators await the uncovering of a “smoking gun” e-mail that will tie the “Christiegate” can to his tail.

But should Mr. Christie’s presidential ambitions fall to an e-mail tying him to Christiegate, even then all may not be lost.

Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use of a few new fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politicians – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Republicans, Martin Luther King, And The Strangers In Our Midst

Anyone who has been following Connecticut Commentary – and the stats suggest many people are – knows I  have written extensively on cities, territorial pools more or less owned by Democrats over the years. Here are some few columns, all of which have been printed in a handful of Connecticut newspapers.

In one of them, I fell to my knees and beseeched Republicans not to cede this fertile ground to Democrats. That cry has not resonated with many Republicans, but it should. And by Republicans I mean the whole enchilada:  Republican leaders safely ensconced in the General Assembly; Republican worker bees of every kind; African American and Hispanic Republicans who have found, much to their surprise, that one of the chief difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties is that The Republican Party is NOT a closed shop; and minorities and whites who have survived the left leaning biases of academe and are familiar with the history of both parties from the post-Civil War period through 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was established.

The Civil Rights Act, it will be recalled, enforced the constitutional right to vote, conferred jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, empowered the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes. After lengthy filibusters by Democrats, the Senate bill was voted upon in the House. Democrats favored the bill 63-37 percent, Republicans 80-20 percent.

The first time a Civil Rights Act was presented to Congress was in 1875. Republican Congressmen Robert Brown Elliott and Josiah Thomas Walls, both African Americans, spoke in favor of the bill in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Walls said, "Men may concede that public sentiment is the cause of the discrimination of which we justly complain...If this be so, then public sentiment needs correction...Let it be understood that individual rights are sacred and it is the duty of men, in whose hand is trusted the destiny of the Republic, to remove from the path of upwards progress every obstacle which may impede its advance into the future."

Fredrick Douglass was the Martin Luther King of the pre and post-Civil War period, a gifted civil rights leader who, like Martin Luther King, straddled the ages. President Abraham Lincoln invited Douglas to the White House because he wanted Douglas’ opinion on his second inaugural address. It was during that speech that Lincoln quoted from the Bible and said:

“The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

Douglas gave his approval.

The sentiments here expressed by Lincoln, engraved on the interior North Wall of the Lincoln Memorial, were part of the marrow of Martin Luther King’s bones when he stood on the steps of the memorial, not very far from these very words, and thundered, at the urging of Marion Anderson:

“When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God Almighty, We are free at last."

Martin Luther King was a Christian minister of the word and a Republican.

There were some sharp differences between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X at the time. Malcolm X was unwilling to forego violence in response to violence exercised against African Americans, especially in places where the Klan was still operating. After Malcolm X returned from a Hajj in Mecca, where he had met many white Muslims and embraced Sunni Islam, his views on racial separation underwent a change. On his return, he broke publicly with the Nation of Islam and denounced both racism – “I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then ... pointed in a certain direction and told to march” -- and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X was assassinated in February, 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam.

The 1960s was the decade of the assassins. Just count the corpses: President John Kennedy (November 1963), Martin Luther King (April 1965), Attorney General Robert Kennedy, (June 1968). Whatever their differences, they all shared in common one golden perception – that real freedom, personal liberty, may only be found on the path that leads to self-reliance. When Malcolm X died in a hail of bullets, it was a free man who died, and the same may be said of Martin Luther King.

So then, how goes it on the freedom and independence front in 2014?

The figures point to a new and resilient kind of dependency. Since the 1960s, the two mediating institutions that truly lift the struggling poor out of poverty – work and marriage – are disappearing in the broader culture, but in the cities they are already a ghostly presence.

In 1970, marriage throughout the United States was the rule rather than the exception: 90 percent of women and 80 percent of men between 25 and 29 years of age were married. The comparable figures today are 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men. It is astonishing to think that in the 1960s fewer than 10 percent of children were born to unmarried mothers.

The poverty gap between the races has grown over the years. Among non-Hispanic white married couples, the poverty rate is 3.2 percent, while the rate for non-married white families is seven times higher at 22.0 percent.  Among Hispanic married families, the poverty rate is 13.2 percent, while the poverty rate among non-married families is three times higher at 37.9 percent.  Among black married couples, the poverty rate is 7.0 percent, while the rate for non-married black families was seven times higher at 35.6 percent.

The strongest and most dependable bulwarks against poverty are solid marriages and a sound education. In the absence of either, one is thrown into bony arms of the solicitous state, where one remains unawakened, doomed to a fitful and uneasy sleep, hoping that perhaps the child of her heart will not fall prey to the ravening wolves prowling about the neighborhood.

It is this challenge from which Republicans retreat when they leave what has falsely been called “social issues” to Democrats who, since the 1960s, have shaped the unsafe at any cost social “safety net” – especially in urban areas, where not a whisper of resistance to Democratic hegemony is possible.

What is missing – what is needed, far more than a crippling and false solicitude – is a Republican Party mission to the very heart of darkness. That mission must have as its object a restoration of those saving and mediating institutions that have always stood between children and a soul-crippling dependency that can only be described as a milder form of slavery, in which the futures of children are thrown upon the mercy of a state that regards them as problems and strangers.

On January 20 – Martin Luther King’s birthday, as it happens -- Regina Roundtree will address issues of this kind at 12:00 (High Noon) at the Legislative Office building adjacent to the State Capitol in Hartford. Ms. Roundtree’s site may be found here, along with travel directions and other information concerning her press conference. For Republicans who want to punch a hole through the wall that so far has prevented them from appealing directly to the victims of Democratic solicitude, attendance will be mandatory.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Democrats Demagogue Boughton

“The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning”-- Adlai Stevenson

In her most recent press release, one can almost see state Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo ticking off the “made in Washington” campaign talking points:

Boughton, “war on women,” check.

Boughton,” anti-gay,” check.

Boughton, “Tea Party,” check.

Boughton, “extremist,” check.

A busy demagogue, Ms. DiNardo usually is able to mold her mud pies into brief media bites at a moment’s notice. Here is the core of her media release:

“Mark Boughton needs to let Connecticut know why he is so close to such a dangerous extremist and if he agrees with Senator McLachlan’s agenda. Does Mark Boughton want to force ultrasounds on pregnant women? Does he support McLachlan’s anti-gay views and Tea Party agenda?”

The “dangerous extremist” whom Mr. Boughton is “close to” would be State Senator Mike McLachlan. Apparently, in Ms. DiNardo’s world, extremism is catchy, like the flu. One has only to be “close to” a retrograde senator like Mr. McLachlan to be infected with the affliction of extremism. 

In current Democratic demagoguery, “an extremist” is anyone whose positions on a narrow range of “social issues” do not correspond with those of Ms. DiNardo and other seeming “moderate” social engineers who want to change the nature of marriage, economics, constitutional prescriptions, religious prescriptions and the always delicate balance between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in the United States.

The Democratic Party in Connecticut has over the past couple of years abolished the death penalty for multiple murderers shortly after two vicious murderers, Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky, had slaughtered the Petit family in Cheshire, and only a few months before Adam Lanza had murdered his mother, six faculty members and twenty school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Mr. Lanza committed suicide upon the arrival at the school of first responders but, had he been taken alive, Mr. Lanza could not have been executed for mass murder in Connecticut, thanks to a bill produced in the General Assembly that ended capital punishment for all future felony murders, however horrific.

Republicans voted against abolition. Democrats, in voting for abolition, flouted their seeming high minded courage by exempting from their abolition bill the ten convicted murderers awaiting execution on death row. This exemption, a clear violation of the “natural law” underpinning all jurisprudence – which holds that in the absence of a proscriptive law there can be no punishment – is likely to be found unconstitutional by any appellate judge who has a nodding acquaintance with the Code of Hammurabi, the Magna Carta or the U.S. Constitution. It would have been politically inconvenient at the time for Democrats to reverse so many very expensive court decisions relating to the “Death Row 10.” The abolition measure, universally embraced by Democrats, we are to assume, is neither a “social issue” nor is it dangerous to the public weal. But Mr. McLaughlin IS a dangerous extremist and must be publicly shamed and demagogued by “non-extremist” Democrats who voted to abolish the death penalty for cop killers, terrorists and mass murderers.

All laws affect society, and there is not a piece of legislation created by any legislative body in the United States in the last 238 years that has no social repercussions. The term “social issue,” especially when employed in campaigns by demagogic partisans, is a false category.

Really, one wonders how many of Mr. McLachlan’s Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly – law makers all, artificers of social legislation -- feel comfortable with Ms. DiNardo’s estimation of him as a “dangerous extremist?” Has anyone taken a poll?

Do Democrats in the General Assembly who find themselves in agreement with Ms. DiNardo’s demagogic assessment of Mr. McLaughlin believe that the Senator’s imperfections have been transferred to Mr. Boughton through a process of osmosis? If Mr. Boughton has been tainted by his proximity to Mr. McLaughlin, what of the members of the General Assembly who were “close” to Mr. McLaughin as they toiled together in the same body to hammer out various laws? Will the pox that has spread so rapidly from Mr. McLaughlin to Mr. Boughton through mere association also affect General Assembly Democrats who worked cheek by jowl with Mr. McLaughlin? Have Governor Dannel Malloy and leading members of the General Assembly been polluted by their close proximity to former Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, some of whose political associates have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to prison?

This is mud-slinging of a high order. Why, if Mrs. DiNardo could order up capital punishment for Tea Party members in her state, her rhetoric suggests she might go for it. But her party has abolished capital punishment for mass murderers, and it would be politically indelicate to send to the death chamber what one Tea Party organizer called “Governor Dannel Malloy’s neighbors” after having abolished capital punishment for Connecticut’s future Lanzas.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Rip Van Winkle “Republicans” In Connecticut’s Commentariat

Around this time of year, prior to the elections, numberless political commentators become Republicans – if only in spirit – the better to advise leading Republicans in the Grand Old Party what they should think and say and do about the many problems besetting Connecticut. Their daddies voted for Goldwater in 1964, they tell us. Their mommies subscribed to National Review in the glory days of Reagan. They remember with some affection William Buckley’s attempt to snatch the New York mayoralty from the jaws of John Lindsey and Abe Beame. Asked by a New York Times reporter what he would do if he actually won the election, Mr. Buckley replied he would hang a net on the first floor of the New York Times building to catch the falling bodies. Virtually all of them used to vote Republican when the Republican Party in Connecticut was sagacious enough to put up moderates such as Chris Shays for office, hardly noticing that in the interim all the moderate Republicans in Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation, including Mr. Shays, have been displaced by progressive Democrats. They genuflect whenever Lowell Weicker is among them. He was a Republican, wasn’t he?

But now…

Just as December 2013 was creeping towards the dust bin of history, Colin McEnroe, for 30 years a Courant columnist and now a radio talk show personality on public supported WNPR, penned a piece for the Courant lamenting the poor choices Republicans leaders will be offering to the general public as prospective governors in 2014.

It’s an old meme, as the leftists might say.

Way back in May 2011, Rick Green, the proprietor of a Courant blog “CTConfidential: What’s really Happening," since defunct, threw down the left of center gauntlet. Connecticut Commentary remarked on Mr. Green’s blog post at the time: What better way to introduce the New Year of Connecticut commentary by glancing back at a political “Dear Abby” of 2011:

Rick Green Advises Republicans To Become More Blue
Saturday, May 07, 2011

In a piece written on May 5 by Courant commentator Rick Green, proprietor of a Courant blog called “CTConfidential: What’s really Happening," Mr. Green asserts that the Connecticut Republican Party would be suicidal to follow the lead of conservatives elsewhere in the nation who delivered the U.S. House of Representatives and several state houses to the GOP.

A move to the right in Connecticut would, Mr. Green warns, drive the Republican Party right off a cliff:

“There's little evidence that Connecticut's vast middle of moderate-thinking unaffiliated voters are ready to embrace the sort of anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, Planned Parenthood-bashing message that plays well in Texas.

“But that's the modus operandi of a new group founded by Jack Fowler, publisher of the conservative National Review. Fowler, who lives in Milford, sees great hope in the General Assembly victories last fall of fiscal and social conservatives Joe Markley and Len Suzio.”

Mr. Green’s chief objection to Mr. Fowler and Tom Scott is that both, recent founders of 
The Roger Sherman Liberty Center, seem to be unwilling to toss social conservatives “right off a cliff.” Conservative advocates, Mr. Scott and Mr. Fowler persist in foolishly supporting such disturbers of the peace as Peter Wolfgang, the Executive Director of The Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC)), who does not consider abortion, gay marriage and transgender rights to be normative, desirable or politically useful for moderate Republicans.

Connecticut’s very blue legislature recently has passed or is considering the passage of bills that would abolish the state’s death penalty (Since done), fold transgenders into legislation that prohibits discrimination against disabled Connecticut citizens (Since done) and grants to gays marriage rights pressed upon the General Assembly by a Supreme Court that decided the issue in a case in which then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal pointedly did not choose to defend the state against the judicial imposition by stressing a connection between normative male-female marriage and child birth (Since done).

Mr. Green, who changed his party affiliation some time ago from Independent to Republican,” considers these and other matters to be “social issues” and, freshly arrived as a Republican Party journalistic consultant, he councils the state GOP to avoid such divisive issues if the party wishes to elect Republicans to office. Once, in the long ago, moderate Republican giants strode Connecticut’s earth. Mr. Green calls the roll: Nancy Johnson, Chris Shays and Rob Simmons, all former U.S. House Representatives. He fails to mention Lowell Weicker, for many years a “moderate” though somewhat abrasive Republican.

Now, if in the interest of fair commentary the Courant were to open its pages to conservatives -- perhaps even courageously venturing to hire a few in order balance the consistent leftward tilt of its editorial pages -- those commentators might wish to dispute several of Mr. Green’s assertions and assumption, even at the risk of falling off a cliff.

The conservative point of view would not fail to note that all the Republican “moderates” mentioned by Mr. Green have been turned out of office, sadly having been replaced by Democrats who are considerably less moderate.

Moderation in Connecticut, like love, is largely in the eye of the beholder. The Courant’s ambition is to make sure that the preponderance of the beholders who write within its pages are, like Mr. Green, reliable liberals. Mr. Green can mention only two conservative politicians in the General Assembly, both of whom are recent arrivals, which suggest that conservative politics in Connecticut, far from being tried and found wanting, has not been tried at all.

Mr. Shays, in fact, was the very last Republican “moderate” – though some considered him a liberal on what Mr. Green perceives to be social issues – in all of New England. The species “moderate New England Republican” is, to put it in ecological jargon, now as extinct as the wooly mammoth.

Never-the-less, Mr. Green wishes to breathe some life into these dead dry bones, but Mr. Fowler, Mr. Scott and the sort of people with whom Mr. Green would never choose to break liberal bread are standing Mr. Green’s way and must be bowled over, if only rhetorically.

The sharp division of the political sphere into social conservatives and economic conservatives, while it may be convenient for liberal rhetoricians, is highly misleading, because in the real world, outside the fevered imaginations of utopians who wish to make it over, the two spheres leech into each other, even in that part of it in which liberals like Mr. Green attack social conservatives with rhetorical weapons forged in the smithy of social liberalism. Abortion on demand and what is now being called in Connecticut transgender rights, both urged by liberals, surely falls within the precincts of the so called social doctrine Mr. Green finds repugnant. In what sense is the struggle to make abortion more available not both a social and an economic issue?

Relatively speaking, abortion is the new kid on the block. Some of the oldest prohibitions affecting abortion were promulgated by the early Christian church in response to the widespread use of abortion in the Roman period. In that time, the paterfamilias, the Roman father of the family, enjoyed – if that is the word for it – life and death powers over children, born and unborn. Unwanted children, often females, were either aborted or exposed until they died. A similar situation may be observed today in China where the state, which regulates birth, determines precisely how many children will be born into each family.

Now, we can all agree to disagree on the utility and humaneness of abortion; some very late term abortions were repugnant enough to cause Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a respectable liberal, to characterize partial birth abortion as a form of infanticide of a kind once practiced by the Roman paterfamilias. But the question of abortion’s relatively recent arrival on the scene is not arguable. Laws prohibiting abortion are older by several centuries than the changes in the law – here in the United States mostly by judicial fiat – that allowed abortion, from which we may conclude that abortion, now legally permitted pretty much every stage of pregnancy, is the new normal. If Connecticut’s Democratic dominated General Assembly is successful in clothing transgenders with the same statutory protections it affords to, say, the blind, in time these statutory affirmations will become the new normal.

Mr. Green is free to marshal his arguments in favor of abortion at every stage of pregnancy or transgender rights or the abolition of the death penalty or any other issue he chooses to champion in his columns and blogs. We are still a free country, sort of. But when Mr. Green says that conservatives who uphold the traditional view of the family against those who would change it have ruptured tradition, he should be vigorously challenged on the point. Opposition to abortion certainly is less extreme than partial birth abortion if for no other reason than that it does not involve the destruction of life.

Mr. Fowler is the publisher of National Review, the magazine founded by Bill Buckley, who was a conservative and a close friend of Mr. Moynihan. It is true the magazine is not unattached to economic or political theory: Bill Buckley described himself as being somewhat addicted to ordered thought. But political philosophy alone does not an extremist make.

Both Mr. Fowler and Mr. Scott are comfortable with traditional views of marriage, religious precepts and the economic ideas of Ludwig Von Mises and Fredrick Hayek, the author, among other books, of “The Constitution of Liberty.” Mr. Hayek, Mr. Von Mises, Mr. Scott, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Wolfgang – whom Mr. Green attempted unsuccessfully to “friend” on Facebook – would all of them resist the notion that social conservativism and its opposite, social liberalism, do not impinge on economic matters.

One hopes Mr. Green would agree on the point.

Abortion, which Mr. Green considers a social issue, was instituted in China principally for economic reasons: Fewer people, if they are productive, allow higher salaries and a more manageable population. Once a government is able to manage what one might call the social DNA of a society, it will be able to bend and twist the economic fabric to its liking. Under a totalitarian socialist dispensation, less is more. Constitutions are unknown in China, and organized faiths are ruthlessly abolished. The assault on women in China through abortion, rarely noticed here in the United States, is an essential part of China’s new fascism. Birth rates have a direct and profound impact on the economy. In some sense, nearly every social issue is an economic issue as well, and the reverse is also true: The social thigh bone is connected to the economic hip bone. Conservatives are those who perceive connections that liberals, for tendentious political reasons, prefer to ignore.

Virtually all the nations in Europe that gave birth to Western civilization are now incapable of sustaining their populations because birth rates in Britain, France, Italy – that’s where the Vatican is – Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands have dipped below the replacement figure necessary to sustain population growth. The United States shortly will join the group. Is the disappearance of Western civilization through birth attrition a social problem or an economic problem? Is it reasonable to suppose that people who wish pass on their culture to a future generation should not concern themselves with low birth rates or the deteriorating financial and social condition of the traditional family unit – mom, dad and two and a half kids?

In a 
commentary published in the Chicago Tribune, not a conservative media outlet, an author of indeterminate ideology, managed to smuggle into his piece the following statistic: “According to the Census Bureau, the rate of abortions in 2006 among black women was 50 per 1,000, compared with 14 for white women and 22 for "other" women.”

Surely Mr. Green will agree that this is an astonishing figure. It is not a conservative figure, it is not a liberal figure, it is merely a true figure.

In days gone by, a robust African American demagogue -- I use the word here in its positive sense -- such as Malcolm X might easily have deployed that figure to show that abortion has become one of the most successful instruments in the tool box of new white racists. But this is not a whisper one is likely to hear from the progeny of those brave few who marched on Selma with Martin Luther King to kill Jim Crow. Jesse Jackson, the liberal preacher politician, used to warn African Americans that abortion has its dark side, but he has since reformed. Mr. Jackson is more placid now, more manageable. Faced with figures of this kind, the silence of the leftist lambs is simply shattering.

In poor inner cities, the traditional family structure has all but disappeared. Is poverty among African Americans in inner cities related in any way to the kind of social structure one is more likely to find among wealthy brats in Hollywood or supremely wealthy but stressed commodities traders in blue chip Connecticut: out of wedlock children, multiple marriages and multiple divorces, a high incidence of drug use, narcissistic fixations. African American fathers in poor inner cities have all but disappeared which, come to think of it, is one of the reasons why the inner cities are poor, flooded with gangs and lawless young men. Is this a social phenomenon or an economic one?

When Mr. Wolfgang defends the sanctity of marriage in the same tones that Sam Adams once defended the sanctity of natural rights, is he making a religious point, an economic point or a sociological point?

When Martha Dean, whom Mr. Green in an uncharitable lapse of judgment compared to a cyborg, says that the state and federal strictures embodied in constitutions really should CONSTRICT the authoritarian hand of those who govern us, is she making a sociological point, a constitutional point, a religious point or an economic point? Dean, whose manners are exquisite but whose crap tolerance level is refreshingly low, would say -- and indeed she has said it in nearly all her pronouncements -- that the human being is indivisible; that religious rights, constitutional rights and human rights all hang together in the sanctity of personhood.

Among some people on the left the indivisibility of the person is a doctrine that must fall on deaf ears: The doctrine is incompatible with a rigid statism. Leftists know that if they can persuade others, as they have persuaded themselves, that this doctrine is the special preserve of a despicable interest group, they can more easily dispense with it and get along with producing a brave new world from the rubble they have made of an old world in which first things – the family, organized religion, constitutional rights and the sanctity of the individual – have been relegated to the dust bin of history.

Truly, there is nothing new under Connecticut’s left of center sun. People in the state’s commentariate change, but the progressive message moves deathlessly on.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The New Year, Connecticut’s Novice Senators, Russia And Afghanistan

Connecticut U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s young years were showing in an interview he gave to the Connecticut Post just before the New Year opened. Murphy assumed office on January 3, 2013. Possibly by the time this column appears in print, Mr. Murphy’s career in the Senate will be one year young.

The high point of his yet shallow senatorial career, Mr. Murphy said in the interview, was his near heroic resistance to the National Rifle Association (NRA).

His opposition to the NRA, the one term senator said, possibly would not pay legislative dividends for years. However, the resistance he has offered the NRA represents the point of a spear. Advocates of tougher gun laws, he told the paper, are now organizing to offset the political clout of the NRA.

"For the past 20 years,” said Mr. Murphy, “the NRA has worked in a vacuum. Now, there are groups that are counterpoints to the NRA. I consider myself part of the political resistance to the NRA,” a small wave, so to speak, that announces the coming tsunami of resistance.

Unfortunately for Mr. Murphy and his fellow guerrilla fighter in the U.S. Senate, Dick Blumenthal, also a newly minted senator, the two NRA resistance fighters were not able to convince a sufficient number of senators, in a body controlled by Democrats and possibly the most progressive President the Democratic Party has produced since Woodrow Wilson hung up his spurs, to adopt very mild gun control measures, far less severe than those measures rushed into law in Connecticut following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In fact, Mr. Murphy’s brash and very public resistance to the NRA may have persuaded some senators favorable to mild gun control measures to place a ten foot pole between themselves and Connecticut’s two new U.S. Senators, one snorting for battle, and the other, Mr. Blumenthal, who wishes to go down to history as the U.S. Congress’s first consumer protection senator.

Most recently, a Connecticut newspaper reported that Mr. Blumenthal was pressuring United Parcel Service (UPS) to issue refunds to customers whose gifts did not arrive in time for Christmas. “I am disappointed,” Mr. Blumenthal thundered in a press release, “to learn that so many consumers in Connecticut and across the country made purchases this holiday season expecting their gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, but instead were left empty-handed.” As Attorney General in Connecticut for 20 years, Mr. Blumenthal’s disappointment frequently was translated into expensive multi-year suits against parties that presumed to disappoint him. As U.S. Senator, Mr. Blumenthal appears to have brought into office with him an abundance of his vices and few of his virtues.

Even his junior partner in the Senate, Mr. Murphy, knows that the U.S. Congress should be concerning itself with larger issues – such as Afghanistan. “The long list of foreign challenges facing the U.S. in 2014,” Mr. Murphy told the paper during his interview, “is topped by the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the ongoing efforts to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program.”

Mr. Murphy also promised to keep an eye on Russia: "There's no doubt that Russia is trying to expand its influence around the region and world and revert back (sic) to the kind of abusive autocracy that they got rid of 20 years ago.”

The “abusive autocracy” Russia presumably “got rid of 20 years ago” was, in fact, not an autocracy but rather a totalitarian enslavement of nations that previously had declared autonomy from Russia and were for nearly three quarters of a century -- from the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917 to the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – forced into the Soviet orbit. But why quibble over antique historical points?

The most recent “intelligence estimate” on Afghanistan, a consensus report involving all U.S. intelligence agencies, contains some bad news and some worse news.

The bad news, to put it bluntly, is that if the U.S. withdraws all its troops from Afghanistan, sometimes called “the graveyard of empires,” the country is very likely, very quickly, to revert to Taliban hands. The worse news is that even if the U.S. were to retain in the country more than 12,000 troops, the minimum number necessary to sustain the present inadequate status quo, the security gains achieved since 2010 would still significantly erode in the south and east of the country.

Given these options, “some White House officials," according to a Tribune report, are pressing for a full and immediate withdrawal.

Following release of the report, the Obama administration was peppered with questions, and the questioners were told by an administration official who requested anonymity that President Barack Obama “has not made any decisions about troop numbers, nor will he” in the absence of a signed agreement with the mercurial Hamid Karzai that would permit U.S. troops to remain after 2014.

When Mr. Blumenthal has finished squeezing all the publicity he thinks he needs for re-election from the UPS contretemps, and when Mr. Murphy similarly leaves off cuffing the ears of law abiding NRA members, both Connecticut’s relatively new U.S. Senators might want to address themselves to immediate and pressing foreign policy issues such as: Should the United States withdraw from Afghanistan in the new year – yes or no?

Perhaps the Taliban in Afghanistan should be President of Russia Vladimir Putin’s problem. Geography is destiny, and Afghanistan is a terrorist doorway to Russia.