Chris Powell: So what if they have contempt for Trump; licensing cats in Conn.


Do journalists need protection from President Trump and his supporters? Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal professes to think so.

With two other Democratic members of Congress. New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and California Rep. Eric Swalwell, Blumenthal has introduced what they call the Journalist Protection Act, which would make it a federal crime for "to intentionally cause bodily injury to a journalist affecting interstate or foreign commerce in the course of reporting or in a manner designed to intimidate him or her from newsgathering for a media organization."

Trump certainly is heaping contempt on news organizations, if no more than many news organizations are heaping contempt on him. For purposes of the law it hardly matters who is right, for each side is free to express contempt and even lie about the other short of the very limited actionable forms of libel. While this worsens political polarization and may help people rationalize political violence, there is no need for the Journalist Protection Act. The proposal is just another dreary episode of the political posturing that turns government into a big charade.

Journalists reporting sensitive matters have always been vulnerable to retaliation, but there is no epidemic of assaults on journalists in the United States.

Enacting federal law to criminalize what is already against state law everywhere, as ordinary assault is, would be needed only if a state was refusing to provide equal protection of the law, as segregationist states long failed to protect black people, condoning beatings and lynchings. But there is no evidence that the basic criminal law in any state has been so corrupted by the country's bitter politics that equal protection is in danger.

Besides, constitutional guarantees of free speech and press do not belong exclusively to people making a living from journalism. To the contrary, the right of free expression belongs to [ITALICS] everyone, [END ITALICS] so journalism is not a profession but everyone's [ITALICS] right. [END ITALICS] Journalists neither need nor deserve special protection because [ITALICS] anyone [END ITALICS] can be a journalist at any time. Since the invention of paper and then movable type, journalism always has been relatively easy to attempt, and now, thanks to the internet, everyone can instantly become a journalist with a potentially worldwide audience.

If enacted the Journalist Protection Act will provide no real protection to anyone, but then it's not meant to. It's meant only to remind the Trump haters in Trump-hating states that the bill's sponsors still hate Trump too. They could have said as much in a press release and avoided the expense of drafting legislation.



PREYING ON PETS: As if it's not enough to impose tolls on Connecticut's highways and eliminate a score of sales tax exemptions, legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly to license cats and charge $15 to anyone who adopts a cat or dog from a municipal shelter.

Yes, municipal shelters cost a little money but people who adopt the orphaned creatures save municipal government the expense of caring for them or euthanizing them. The cats-and-dogs bill should be tabled at least until, say, the salary of the president of the University of Connecticut is capped at the salary of the president of the United States, $400,000 a year, and state and municipal employees are no longer paid to stay home on Columbus Day while taxpayers drag themselves to work.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Connecticut.

Don Pesci: Conn., a tax 'donor' state, sure does well with military contracts

Headquarters of military and nonmilitary airplane-engine maker Pratt & Whitney, in East Hartford, Conn. Pratt & Whitney, like Electric Boat, in Groton, Conn., is a unit of General Dynamics.

Headquarters of military and nonmilitary airplane-engine maker Pratt & Whitney, in East Hartford, Conn. Pratt & Whitney, like Electric Boat, in Groton, Conn., is a unit of General Dynamics.

Some time ago, a Connecticut Trumpeter confessed to this political writer that he had been having a recurrent nightmare.

Military procurements during the Obama administration were slender. Connecticut is still referred to in some corners as “the provision state” because, since the Revolutionary War, Connecticut has provided the national military with provisions. It continues to do so; Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky are very much going concerns.

Obama’s military budget was considerably more modest than Trump’s, as the president never tires of reminding the country. Dollars spent on the military are, to no one’s surprise, good for Connecticut. Federal dollars spent on military procurements produce Connecticut jobs, which produce funds that replenish the state’s treasury -- all good, all the time.

This was the nightmare: The additional federal funding would produce additional state treasury dollars, since more job holders produce more tax revenue, and these blessings would allow Trump’s bitterest critics in Connecticut – every member of Connecticut’s all Democratic congressional delegation, plus outgoing Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy and his retinue -- to claim fraudulently that the state’s ruinous progressive tax and spend policies were responsible for the additional jobs and revenue. Malloy, et al., would point with pride to the job-production figures, attributing the good fortune to his wealth-reduction policies. And this would help his protégé, millionaire Ned Lamont, capture the governor’s office.

According to a recent story in CTMirror, "'Donor state’ Conn. gets more than its fair share of federal contracting dollars,” the Trumpeter’s nightmare has now become a daytime soap opera: “At the beginning of September, Connecticut companies and non-profits had received more than $11.8 billion in federal awards. Electric Boat is in final negotiations for the next block of Virginia-class submarines, which could, with other pending Pentagon contracts, give the state a big boost this year.”

Economic adviser to the Connecticut Business & Industry Association Peter Gioia is happy: “We’ll probably have a record year on defense.”

And he is not alone. U.S. Democrat Rep. Joe "Two Sub" Courtney’s 2nd District already has received about 5.4 billion of the federal contracting dollars that were spent in the state last year. Electric Boat, in Courtney’s district (in eastern Connecticut), we are told, “is in final negotiations for the next block of Virginia-class submarines. [The contract] “would allow for the construction of 10 Virginia-class subs, with the possibility of adding an additional two, at an estimated purchase price of about $3.2 billion per boat.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s 3rd congressional district will scoop up about 3.7 billion Trump dollars, and “Rep. John Larson’s 1st District, home of engine-maker Pratt c& Whitney” will pocket about $2.5 billion. Not a bad haul from a president the entire Democratic congressional delegation would like to see impeached, principally for his bad manners. The chatter about impeachment quickly died down after polls showed it was not a winning gambit for Democrats, and the endless chatter about Russian collusion is showing signs of vaporization, even as special counsel Robert Mueller secures convictions and plea deals from Trump associates that have little or nothing to do with Russian collusion. Judicial Watch revealed a while back that the Chinese had recovered all the emails on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s illegal private server in real time; that means the Chinese were picking up all the Clinton emails, some of which contained secret and top secret information – AS SHE WAS TYPING THEM.

The Clintons' fast friend U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal and his junior partner, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, have yet to threaten suits or other actions against Saint Hillary, their attention having been diverted to killing, by any means necessary, the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Blumenthal, who virulently opposed all Trump nominations to the high court before Kavanaugh emerged as Trump’s nominee, may have been partly responsible for the Antifa-like opposition displayed by political maenads during and after the prelude to the hearings. Still searching for impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors under Trump's bed, Blumenthal will ironically, along with other Democrat members of the state's congressional delegation, be the beneficiaries of the Trump business bump in Connecticut.

Could Otto von Bismarck have gotten it right? “There is a Providence,” he said “that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” Adjusted to fit modern times, Bismarck’s aphorism might read “There is a Providence that protects idiot congressmen -- see Twain above – drunkards and opium eaters, children, but not late term abortion babies, and the United States of America as viewed by progressive Democrats.”

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based columnist.