Chris Powell

Chris Powell: Pandering with courses; local nullification of immigration law

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Year after year most Connecticut high school seniors are graduated and given diplomas without ever mastering high school math and English, and year after year most of those who are admitted to a community college or a regional state university have to take remedial high school courses. The problem is social promotion.

So what did the General Assembly do about public education in its session just concluded? Both houses appropriated more money for teacher salaries (called "aid to education"). They both passed legislation requiring high schools to offer a course in African-American and Latino history. The House passed a bill that would have required elementary schools to teach climate change.

State Sen. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, argued that minority students are discouraged in school by the supposed lack of attention to the history of their ethnic groups. But what of the discouragement they may suffer when they discover that they haven't learned to read and do math at an adult level?

As for the climate change bill, introduced by state Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester, state Education Department standards already called for incorporating the subject in science curriculums, making the bill unnecessary. Further, this subject too can hardly be mastered if reading and math aren't mastered first.

Of course the objective of these bills wasn't to teach students anything but to let legislators strike politically correct poses and pander. After all, what legislator would be re-elected if he told his constituents that their kids are goofing off in school and if he scolded their teachers that they should stop being silent about it?

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WHAT 'PRIORITY' FOR DEPORTATION?: Maybe it would be too punitive to deport Sujitno Sajuti back to Indonesia. Sajuti, 70, had been living in West Hartford but for 19 months until last week he claimed sanctuary in a church in Meriden because federal immigration authorities had told him to leave the country. Now, because many years ago he was the victim of an assault in Hartford, Sajuti has been granted a waiver and can stay indefinitely.

But the protests by Sajuti's supporters that he is the victim of the excessive zeal of the immigration authorities are also too much.

State Atty. Gen. William Tong declared, "There is something horribly broken with our immigration system when this 70-year-old man who has lived peacefully here for three decades was deemed a priority for deportation."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called Sajuti "a man who spent decades in this country causing nobody any harm, doing nothing wrong, committing no violations of law."

A priority for deportation? No violations of law? But Sajuti has been living in the United States illegally for nearly 25 years after overstaying a visa.

Tong and Blumenthal imply that there should be no consequences for violating immigration law, that if one breaks it long enough, it should be forgotten -- and the news reporters who quoted them failed to ask them about that.

Nullification of federal immigration law and open borders seem to be state government's policy now that the General Assembly and Governor Lamont have enacted a law forbidding municipal authorities from cooperating with immigration authorities in almost any way.

While the Trump administration is deficient and sometimes hateful, controlling immigration is a crucial function of the federal government, and hindering it is a form of secession.

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

Chris Powell: Paid time off isn't what working poor need most

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Now that the General Assembly is about to pass legislation that Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont will sign establishing a state agency to arrange paid family leave insurance for all working people in the state, maybe its details will start getting critical examination.

After all, if, as the legislation's advocates say, the working poor can't afford to take time off to care for a sick relative, how well can they afford the half-percent pay cut they will endure with everyone else to finance the insurance program? While the state is raising its minimum wage in phases, even when it reaches $15 an hour or $600 a week in a few years it still won't be nearly enough to support a family, even with paid leave.

The big problem here is that with so many children being born to single women who are qualified only for menial work, family formation is overtaking education and job skills and thus income.

Family leave benefits will be 12 weeks paying as much as 95 percent of regular income for the lowest-paid people, less for higher-paid people. But higher-paid people don't need the insurance at all, since its benefits are limited enough that such people could insure themselves with ordinary savings without the tax increase. Indeed, the paid leave insurance program is mainly income redistribution to the poor, a way of making the state income tax more progressive.

That might have been a fair argument for it but its advocates don't seem to have made it, apparently having meant to fool the non-poor into thinking that they would gain from paid leave too.

Of course not all people paying the new half-percent tax will encounter circumstances allowing them to claim benefits -- unless there is no claim checking or claim checking is so lax that almost any claim is accepted and people come to realize that they can collect by finding or inventing relatives or friends who need care. Administration of the program remains a big question.

As with other forms of insurance, most people, including the working poor, won't need paid family leave very often. But paid leave is far from the insurance most people do need and would use more often if they had it -- that is, better medical insurance. Even many people who have medical insurance face deductibles so high that they defer treatment or are badly damaged financially by getting treatment. While state government provides medical insurance for the indigent and subsidizes it for the working poor, it is often deficient.

That's where all new money to help the working poor should go.

Paid family leave is a triumph of Democratic Party rhetoric that it's "not fair that people should have to choose" -- as between their jobs and caring for sick relatives, between medicine and food, between going to college and paying for college, and so on until it is possible to imagine that everything should be free.

The French economist Frederic Bastiat saw it coming two centuries ago. "Government," he wrote, "is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everybody else." And of course the Democratic Party is the party that can't choose between the social goods it advocates and the endless, stupid, and fantastically expensive war in Afghanistan.

What's really not fair is that Connecticut taxpayers who have only mediocre self-funded retirement plans are on the hook for at least $70 billion in unfunded obligations for the comfortable defined-benefit pensions enjoyed by state and municipal government employees. The governor and Democratic legislators are proposing to run up the pension debt still more. How progressive!

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, vin Manchester, Conn.


Chris Powell: Connecticut's self-destructive income tax and migration problems

On State Street, in the famous sanctuary city of New Haven.

On State Street, in the famous sanctuary city of New Haven.

Last week brought more evidence that Connecticut is paying successful and self-sufficient people to leave and paying poor and dependent people to stay or settle in the state.

The evidence came from Bloomberg News, which analyzed Internal Revenue Service and Census Bureau data about population movement among states in 2015 and 2016. The news service found that population movement was most costly to Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, with Connecticut losing 1.6 percent of its population's annual adjusted gross income. The study found that the average income of people departing Connecticut was $122,000, the average income of people arriving was $97,000, and five people left the state for every four people arriving.

Many arrivals in Connecticut are illegal immigrants settling in the state's "sanctuary cities." They depress the income averages and tend to require government services. Poverty may be a virtue in religion but it is only a handicap in governance, and yet legislation pending in the General Assembly would establish "sanctuary" for illegals in all the state's 169 towns by prohibiting almost any cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

There is much dispute over whether raising Connecticut's taxes on the wealthiest, risking more income migration, would cost more tax revenue than it gained. But the data examined by Bloomberg News show that Connecticut already has plenty to worry about with the flight of its middle and upper-middle classes.

Florida may be the leading destination for people departing Connecticut and other highly taxed and declining states, in large part because Florida has avoided a state income tax. The study found that while Connecticut was losing 1.6 percent of its population's adjusted gross income, Florida was increasing its population's income by 3 percent. The average income of a Connecticut resident moving to Florida appears to be a whopping $253,000, but in recent years many people of all self-sufficient income levels have left Connecticut for the Sunshine State.

Of course Florida isn't heaven. Its mild winters are matched by oppressive summers. Away from the shore, Florida's geography is bland prairie. Florida real estate near the shore is more expensive than most real estate in Connecticut. The bears that increasingly annoy Connecticut's rural and suburban residents are cuddly pets compared to Florida's alligators, Burmese pythons, and year-round insects. Florida's hurricanes do far more damage than Connecticut's snowstorms.

Indeed, Connecticut has many natural advantages -- lovely, varied, but gentle geography, a temperate climate with three pleasant seasons, proximity to New York and Boston, and suburban convenience. But its cities continue to decline and the income-migration data is an indictment of the gross failure of state government policy to improve Connecticut's demographics, to do much more than sustain the government and welfare classes at the expense of the private sector. The more taxes are raised to perpetuate this policy failure, the more the most taxable people depart -- and taxes are about to be raised again.

Progressive taxation is good only insofar as it helps to deliver good government. It is not an end in itself but a means to that end. When it fails to deliver, the people it taxes most may wise up.

The income migration data argues against raising Connecticut's income tax rates as many Democratic state legislators want to do. But it also argues for challenging the premises of much state policy. If state government was improving rather than impoverishing Connecticut, people who pay more taxes might be inclined to stay anyway.

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



Chris Powell: Vaccination objections are not really religious

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Freedom of religion is freedom of belief and expression. It is not the freedom to do anything one pleases, though lately claims of religious freedom are being used to rationalize more craziness in Connecticut -- the resurgence of dangerous diseases arising from the failure to vaccinate schoolchildren.

That craziness marked a Connecticut General Assembly hearing the other day on whether the religious exemption should be removed from the state's vaccination law, now that the exemption is being claimed much too often.

One woman shrieked that her child would be vaccinated only "over my dead body." But the issue was not her death but the risk of premature death to her child and others.

Defenders of the exemption carried signs reading "My child, my choice," as if state government doesn't spend nearly a billion dollars each year for the care and rehabilitation of children damaged by their parents' terrible choices. No decent society can let children become the mere property of parents.

Another woman said, "God made my body perfect." Really? Has she never had a toothache? She well might reflect on why she never had polio, from whose scourge millions have been saved in the last 60 years thanks to the vaccines devised by Doctors Salk and Sabin.

Objections to vaccination may be based on conscience, personal preference, misapprehension, or ignorance, but to call them religious exaggerates them. At least no organized religion forbids vaccination, not even Christian Science, whose practice has been to submit to vaccination where required by law. Those claiming religious motives make no theological argument.

Indeed, state law doesn't require vaccination for children generally, only for those attending public schools, where risk of contagion is greatest. The parents who were so indignant at the hearing don't have to interpose themselves between their children and the state. Instead they can home-school their kids or enroll them in a private school indifferent to contagion.

People who want to pursue absolute liberty, including liberty to risk the health of children, can try living in the jungle. To enjoy the benefits of society, liberty must respect a few of society's rules. While society lately is being intimidated out of its self-respect, on this point it better hold fast. The religious exemption should go.

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TWO FREE CAR THEFTS: Society isn't demonstrating much self-respect with legislation advancing in the General Assembly that purports to address the epidemic of car thefts and joyriding by juveniles.

Under the bill juveniles would not be subject to detention until they had committed their third car theft. While the kids are on their car-theft spree the courts are to provide them with more of the social services that long have failed to deter them, as police lately have reported the arrests of some youngsters for car thefts just days after their arrest and release for previous car thefts.

Now the law formally will tell the kids that their first two car thefts are free. That may be fewer felonies than some kids are already getting away with, but the principle is awful all the same.

The bill also authorizes a study of the causes of the youthful car-theft epidemic, as if nobody knows that it correlates closely with the child neglect and fatherlessness perpetuated by the welfare system.

But since that correlation cannot yet be openly discussed, people will just have to keep their cars locked. The law won't be protecting them any time soon.

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

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Chris Powell: Civil rights in conflict

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With Connecticut’s state government stumbling along with its usual insolvency and tax hunger, establishing a civil rights division in the attorney general's office does not rank high among Connecticut's needs, despite Atty. Gen. William Tong's advocacy of it.

After all, the era of the systemic violation of basic civil rights of broad classes of people -- racial, ethnic, and religious -- is long gone, even if there always will be individual cases of illegal conduct by employers, landlords, and businesses. The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities already has jurisdiction over such cases and many lawyers in private practice are always ready to represent the truly oppressed on a contingency basis in lawsuits for financial damages.

Tong seems to be seeking the authorization of statute to apply the weight of state government to the increasing number of controversies where civil rights are in conflict. He already has expressed support for an ordinance in Hartford and proposed legislation to regulate what anti-abortion "pregnancy centers" can tell potential clients, though such facilities are not licensed medical providers but instead mainly exercise freedom of speech, if sometimes advocates of abortion consider them deceptive.

Of course, advocates of abortion have free-speech rights too, but with such ordinances and legislation they seek to silence their adversaries. This silencing is considered politically correct.

Similar controversies are raging in academia, where disagreeable opinion is labeled "hate speech" so it might be obstructed or prohibited. In such controversies at public colleges would Tong's civil rights division intervene to maintain the principle that the First Amendment protects even hateful expression, or would it favor the censors and validate the purported right not to be offended in "safe spaces"?

How about the controversies over transsexuality? Would a civil rights division favor the right of men who want to be women to use women's restrooms, or would it favor the longstanding right of sexual privacy? Would a civil rights division favor the right of men who want to be women to compete in women's athletic events at public schools? Or would it favor the longstanding right of women to have their own events, recognizing the natural athletic advantages of men?

Where would a civil rights division stand on gun rights? It is not generally noticed, but the Declaration of Rights in Connecticut's Constitution is more explicit than the Bill of Rights in the national Constitution in declaring the right to bear arms to be an individual right: "Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state." (Nothing there requiring membership in a militia.) Yet the attorney general advocates more restrictions on gun ownership.

The primary task of the attorney general's office is to provide advice and representation to state agencies, but state government often is accused of violating the civil rights of its own employees. In such disputes should the attorney general's office really be representing both sides? Of course the internal operations of state government already provide precious little management and defense of the public interest, and Tong long has been allied with the state employee unions, which pretty much control the government workplace.

It's not hard to guess where a civil rights division under Tong would stand in these controversies. Indeed, such a division might be a great mechanism for politically correct posturing by an attorney general pursuing higher office through the Democratic Party.


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



Chris Powell: New Haven's biggest problem

New Haven.

New Haven.

Anyone who fears for manufacturing in Connecticut should visit New Haven, where it seems that half the indignation in the country is produced.

The outrage of the moment is what may be a case of mistaken identity last week in which police officers from Hamden and Yale University shot at a car they stopped on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven because it fit the description of a car said to be involved in an attempted armed robbery a mile away in Hamden. A passenger in the car was wounded but no evidence linking the car or its occupants to the robbery has been found. The state's attorney's office and the state police have taken over the investigation.

Horrible as such a mistake by the police here would be, cases of mistaken identity in police work happen all the time and some have far worse results. Some are caused by the negligence of officers, others by devastating coincidence. This one may have been compounded by the officers' lack of judgment if not trigger-happiness.

But because the occupants of the stopped car are black, the protests in New Haven presume without evidence that the incident was part of a nationwide police scheme to murder black people. "No justice, no peace, no racist police," the protesters chant, though the Hamden officer in the incident is black himself and first worked as an officer in New Haven, where he was trained.

The protesters, many of them students at Yale, want the officers fired and prosecuted immediately, before any investigation. That reflects the university's political correctness. They also want the university police disarmed and suburban officers forbidden to pursue criminal suspects into New Haven.

So much for the mandatory regionalism advocated by New Haven Sen. Martin M. Looney. But the rest of the New Haven area might be glad to have less to do with the city if its miserable demographics were not producing so much of the region's crime. Over the weekend prior to the incident on Dixwell Avenue four people were injured in three shootings in New Haven, and even as protesters were chanting away at another rally last Thursday night, a riot broke out at a street party elsewhere in the city, one teenager getting shot and another injured by flying glass.

Of course there were no protests of that violence, since it was typical for New Haven, nor any expressions of sympathy for those assigned by government to protect society against the anarchy of city life. In this respect New Haven is not much worse than Hartford or Bridgeport.

Connecticut does not hold its police to account as well as it should but it has been improving. There are mechanisms for accountability and some recognition that officers in all towns represent the state as a whole. So if Connecticut is really to be a state, the pursuit of violent felons cannot stop at town lines.

So why, despite their worsening demographics, are Connecticut's cities not only largely walled off politically but, as the protests in New Haven show, trying to wall themselves off from due process of law and even law itself? For neither can Connecticut be a state if law in the cities is only a polite fiction.

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

Chris Powell: 'God Bless America' because it can improve itself

Kate Smith in 1948

Kate Smith in 1948

Statue of Kate Smith in Philadelphia, removed this month amid allegations she was racist.

Statue of Kate Smith in Philadelphia, removed this month amid allegations she was racist.

Nothing demonstrates both the political self-satisfaction and the psychological insecurity of the present than the rush to take historical figures out of the context of their time and deny them any fair evaluation. Such is the case with the sudden proscription by the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Flyers of Kate Smith, the popular singer from more than a half century ago whose famous rendition of Irving Berlin’s song "God Bless America" lately was being played at Yankees baseball games and Flyers hockey games.

Smith became prohibitively politically incorrect the other day when it was discovered that in the 1930s she recorded two songs that are being described as racist, which is too harsh.

One song, "That's Why Darkies Were Born," was recorded not just by Smith but also by the black singer and civil rights crusader Paul Robeson. The song is more plausibly construed as expressing sympathy and admiration for black people for refusing to let their brutally unfair burdens crush them spiritually.

The other song, "Pickaninny Heaven," which Smith sang in a movie in 1933, uses that racially derogatory term and racial stereotypes in the course of her consoling black orphans about an afterlife in which they would see their mothers again. The song's stereotypes are awful but its intent was patronizing, not vicious.

While Smith was renowned as "the songbird of the South," she does not seem to have left much of a record in regard to racial issues. But she was a national heroine for providing encouraging music during the Great Depression and then, during World War II, for singing for the troops and helping to sell more war bonds than any other celebrity. So beloved was she that, introducing her to the king and queen of the United Kingdom in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, "Miss Smith is America."

President Reagan seems to have more or less concurred, awarding Smith the Medal of Freedom in 1982.

Now all Smith's good work is apparently to be erased and a statue of her that was erected outside the Flyers' arena because she was a fan of the team has been removed as if she had been more politically retrograde than the rest of the country. But presumably the Yankees' and Flyers' box offices and vendors will continue making change with dimes, on which Roosevelt's image remains engraved, though he put U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War II and was elected president four times with the support of the segregationist South. (At least Roosevelt won the war, thereby defeating a few monstrous tyrannies.)

With Smith's "God Bless America" banished, maybe Yankees and Flyers games will stick to the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," though its tune is much harder to sing and though its lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key, who, even as he lauded "the land of the free and the home of the brave," owned slaves, just as George Washington and many other Founding Fathers did. Their statues aren't coming down yet.

Where does this politically correct nonsense end? Cannot most people understand that American history especially is part of what is called the ascent of man, the gradual if grossly uneven improvement of moral standards in pursuit of justice? If only the perfect can be honored or even remembered fondly, history has no point.

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

Chris Powell: Nursing-home workers have better claim than Stop & Shop's


Stop & Shop’s headquarters, in Quincy, Mass

Stop & Shop’s headquarters, in Quincy, Mass

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Are all those Connecticut elected officials who have been joining the picket lines in the strike by the United Food and Commercial Workers union against Stop & Shop experts in the supermarket business? Or are the only numbers that matter to them the numbers of their constituents on strike as compared to the numbers of the supermarket chain's Dutch owners who can vote in Connecticut?

A few days ago U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal boasted that he had told Stop & Shop's president to do better by his employees. But the senator didn't say how he came to that judgment.

The supermarket business is high-volume, low-margin and extremely competitive. Most of its labor is not highly skilled and so is difficult to unionize. Organizing it and keeping it organized as the UFCW has done at Stop & Shop is an achievement.

But that doesn't make the company's contract offer unfair. Not being unionized, the company's competitors enjoy substantial advantages over Stop & Shop and more easily can offer better prices to their customers.

So what does anyone outside the business really know about who is right or wrong in the dispute, or if there is any right or wrong rather than mere self-interest?

Meanwhile, a far more compelling labor dispute is developing in the state.

Workers at 20 nursing homes, members of the New England Health Care Employees Union, are threatening to strike May 1, and their wages and benefits are largely matters of state government appropriation. That's because most nursing-home patients are welfare recipients and what the nursing homes pay their employees is determined mainly by how much state government pays the nursing homes.

The nursing-home workers are not highly skilled either and organizing them is as much a challenge as it is to organize supermarket workers. But the work of nursing home employees, caring for the infirm and disabled, can be much more tedious.

While state government treats its direct employees luxuriously because of their political mobilization, it always has treated the nursing-home workers poorly, controlling patient reimbursements so tightly that raises have been tiny and have badly lagged inflation.

The nursing-home workers union wants state government to appropriate enough for 4 percent raises in each of the next two years. While that may seem high, it is not when averaged with the meager raises of the last decade.

But it would be hard for state government to appropriate such raises for the unionized nursing homes and not for the scores of other homes. So big money is at issue here even as state government faces a budget gap of $1.5 billion or more.

Despite that gap, Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration and the Democratic majority in the General Assembly lately have been approving substantial raises for unionized state employee bargaining units and even approving the unionization of supervisors who should not be unionized at all. Further, the jobs and compensation of all state employees have been guaranteed for years to come by the Malloy administration's infamous long-term contract with the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition.

In these labor issues the nursing home workers are plainly far more deserving. But when fairness requires direct state appropriations for people who are not politically influential, the politicians are not as eager to be photographed.

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




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

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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.

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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.


















Chris Powell: In school sports, pretending boys are girls cheats the girls

Trangender Pride Flag.

Trangender Pride Flag.



Two Connecticut high school boys who want to be girls keep winning track meets in the girls division as political correctness keeps trumping fairness. For few people dare to complain about it -- shamefully, not even many parents of female athletes who train hard but may never be recognized as winners as long as athletic conference rules pretend that boys can be girls.

The continued victories of the transsexual runners show that gender is biological and physiological reality, not some mere "social construct," and that males tend to have natural athletic advantages.

There may be no reason to divide some sports leagues into male and female divisions -- skill levels and age may be better ways of organizing leagues to assure the competitiveness of teams -- but for individual achievements, each sex must enjoy its own division if girls and women are to enjoy equal opportunity.

It's a free country and males should be free to present themselves as females and vice versa just as people should be free to live their lives as they choose. That's nobody's business but their own. But those who accept biological and physiological reality have rights, too. Parents especially should start speaking up for them, lest they implicitly teach their daughters to yield to PC intimidation.

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A HOLIDAY FOR DEMOCRATS: Would designating Election Day as a state holiday encourage voter participation? That is nominally the premise of legislation introduced by Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, but it's wrong.

For designating Election Day as a state holiday will benefit only state and municipal government employees, the foremost constituency of the Democratic Party. State government will have to observe the day off but private-sector employers will not have to do so any more than they have to observe any of the gratuitous state holidays that already benefit only government employees, like Columbus Day and Good Friday.

The Election Day holiday legislation will benefit government employees not just by giving them another paid day off but also by freeing them to work on Election Day in the campaigns of Democratic candidates without having to exchange another paid holiday, as many government employees now do to maintain their control of the party.

Even if the legislation is amended to subtract Columbus Day or Good Friday from the state government holiday list -- which should be done anyway -- designating Election Day as a holiday still will encourage even more government employees to campaign for Democrats on the day of voting.

Thus the bill is just a sneaky form of one-sided public financing of campaigns.

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MURPHY ERASES UK'S BORDERS TOO: In a recent essay Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy warned the United Kingdom against leaving the European Union and Americans against encouraging British independence. How ironic that Britain should get such advice from a high official of a country that won its own independence through war against Britain when it was a colonial power.

But the advice is less ironic coming from Murphy. For while Britain voted to leave the E.U. in large part to regain control of its borders and immigration policy, Murphy does not believe that his own country should control its own borders any more than Britain should. No, Murphy believes in "catch and release" for illegal immigrants and "sanctuary" cities and states that nullify federal immigration law.

Loss of control of immigration means a country's dissolution, as the British are figuring out. Will Americans figure it out?


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


Chris Powell: Trump's border wall beats Conn. AG's demagogic posturing

President Trump looking at new border wall prototypes in San Diego, in March 2018.

President Trump looking at new border wall prototypes in San Diego, in March 2018.



Connecticut Atty. Gen. William Tong has joined a lawsuit with 15 other states against President Trump's declaration of a federal emergency, which the president plans to use to justify spending otherwise-appropriated money to complete a wall across the Mexican border. Tong says that he aims to protect the U.S. Constitution and the state, but, accusing the president of "racism and hate," he is engaging mainly in the demagogic posturing that characterized his recent campaign.

Tong notes that Congress has refused to authorize spending for the wall and that diverting funds to build it could hamper federal projects in Connecticut. Further, the attorney general and other Democratic officials in Connecticut and nationally argue that illegal immigration is not really an emergency.

But federal law authorizes such money transfers upon an emergency declaration and leaves the president to define emergencies. So even legal analysts who disdain Trump expect the lawsuit against the declaration to fail at the Supreme Court.

Besides, those who object to Trump's emergency declaration long have gotten far too comfortable with illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration was supposed to have been stopped by the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, which bestowed a grand amnesty on illegal immigrants in exchange for more border security, but the border security never materialized. So today the foreign-born proportion of the U.S. population is higher than ever; the country's illegal population is estimated at 11 million; most illegals intercepted at the border enjoy the government's hapless practice of "catch and release"; most of those released never appear for court proceedings, instead disappearing into the ever-growing communities of illegals throughout the country, like New Haven, one of the first "sanctuary cities"; and there is less assimilation and more separatism by immigrants.

While Tong postures against "racism and hate," his party's legislators in the General Assembly are advancing legislation to require medical insurers to sell policies to illegal immigrants, which will be more facilitation of illegal immigration and more nullification of federal law on top of the driver's licenses and tuition discounts Connecticut already offers illegals.

Yes, there may be better measures than a wall for stopping illegal immigration -- like requiring all employers to use the "e-Verify" system of confirming eligibility for employment, and imposing serious penalties on employers of illegals.

But most Democrats oppose such measures and anything that might substantially reduce illegal immigration. And while Democrats in Congress complain about the cost of Trump's wall, every month they happily sneeze away far more money on the futile 18-year military adventure in Afghanistan. Trump's wall won't be perfectly effective, but it will be far more effective and humane than what the Democrats condone in Afghanistan.

Despite the attorney general's demagoguery, there is nothing racist or hateful in controlling immigration so the country knows what it is getting -- whether it is getting people of decent character and skills, people who want to live in a democratic and secular society rather than a totalitarian and theocratic one, people who want to become Americans and help build the country, or people who just want to undercut wages in menial work and wire the money back across the border or exploit the country's generous welfare system.

So even if illegal immigration isn't an emergency, at least Trump sees it as a problem. His wall beats the Democrats' nullification.


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

Chris Powell: Hiding criminal records doesn't help ex-cons

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Most people who go to prison in Connecticut, even for a short time, will have a hard time rebuilding their lives. At best they will be considered damaged goods, necessarily inferior to job and housing applicants who have not been in prison. At worst they will be considered criminals still, since within a few years most former convicts are sent back to prison for one reason or another.

An ex-convict who can't obtain housing and a job soon upon his release is almost compelled to return to crime. So the solutions being advocated by leading liberals in the General Assembly are to conceal criminal records, at least for nonviolent offenses, and to forbid landlords from refusing to rent to former offenders solely on the basis of their criminal history.

But the problem with convicts returning to society goes far beyond the accessibility of criminal records. For most former offenders lack education and job skills and had terrible upbringings, and many suffer learning disabilities. This is why many turned to crime and especially drugs in the first place, and just as much as their criminal history, if not more so, their lack of job skills is why they are considered undesirable employees and tenants.

By contrast, anyone returning from prison after a drug conviction who nevertheless has some education and job skills -- say, an engineer, meat cutter, plumber, or computer programmer -- won't have nearly as much trouble finding a job and a home. Employers and landlords will be far more receptive with someone who has the skills to support himself by honest work.

Keeping employers and landlords ignorant of criminal records won't confer education and job skills on ex-cons. If they come out of prison no more employable than when they went in, enforcement of ignorance about their criminal records will do them little good. Even if they find an apartment, without a job paying enough to sustain it they may be back to crime and prison soon enough anyway.

So rather than demonstrate contempt for the public by enforcing ignorance of criminal records, state government should pursue several other policies with former offenders.

First, the state should repeal drug criminalization, which ensnares most young offenders and has proven futile anyway. Second, the length of criminal sentences should be tied to an offender's gaining education and job skills. And third, state government itself should provide basic jobs and rudimentary housing to former offenders as long as they can't get them on their own.

Of course the latter policy would cost some money, but then current practice -- to release prisoners without job skills and housing and watch haplessly as most go back to prison in a few years -- already is more expensive.

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A REFERENDUM ON TOLLS?: Republicans suddenly have received a great opportunity to give meaning to the five special elections being held Tuesday to fill five vacant seats in the General Assembly, three in the Senate and two in the House. All the districts are so heavily Democratic that their occupants felt comfortable abandoning them soon after their re-election so they might accept appointment to executive positions by Governor Lamont.

That is, can the Republican candidates turn the elections into referendums on the governor's reversing his campaign position and endorsing general tolling on state highways?

Are even voters in Democratic districts upset enough by how fast the governor repudiated what he told them during the campaign?

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


Chris Powell: Collusion not uncommon -- impeach for shutdown; forget Conn. school-funding formula

MANCHESTER, Conn.

Unseemly as the associations between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian operatives are, there is no federal crime called "collusion" and no one can be indicted for it.

Besides, American politicians long have colluded with foreign powers to advance their political objectives.

During the Vietnam War President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, suspended bombing of North Vietnam and colluded with its Communist government to start peace negotiations to boost the campaign of his vice president, Hubert Humphrey. Meanwhile Humphrey's Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, colluded with the South Vietnamese government to stall negotiations, promising that a Republican administration would get South Vietnam better terms.

During his 2012 campaign for re-election President Obama, a Democrat, was caught on tape assuring Russia's prime minister that he would have "more flexibility" on weapons control if the Russians would just postpone the issue until after November. That was collusion too, but while it was promptly reported, few politicians or news organizations made anything of it.

The people aiming to impeach Trump are overlooking the compelling reason right in front of them: the shutdown of the federal government engineered by the president to bully Congress into appropriating billions to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Border security is important and a wall would help but it is not more important than the work of the rest of the federal government, and by incapacitating so much of the government to extort Congress on one issue, Trump is violating the Constitution.

For Article II, Section 3, prescribes that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

In two years the Russia stuff has gone nowhere and can go nowhere. But the incapacitation of the government is right now.

To see impact on some Coast Guard families in Connecticut, please hit this link.

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High on the agenda for the new session of the Connecticut General Assembly is rewriting the formula for state financial aid to municipal school systems. It will be a big waste of time.

Connecticut has been rewriting its school aid formula almost every year since the state Supreme Court's decision in the school financing case of Horton v. Meskill in 1977, with little result except greater expense. State payments to school systems with poor populations and weak property-tax bases have been greatly increased but student performance has not improved.

So either the state still has not yet developed the right formula or student performance does not correlate much with school spending.

The state Education Department acknowledges it cannot show that school spending correlates with student performance. Indeed, defending the department in court against the most recent school financing lawsuit two years ago, the attorney general's office called an economics professor who had studied school spending in Connecticut and testified that there is no correlation.

Of course there must be a very limited correlation, since if there were no schools, it's unlikely that most children would learn on their own. But after four decades pouring money into struggling schools and accomplishing little, the legislature should either give up on formulizing or look elsewhere for correlations with student performance.

When most children in poor cities lack parents and perform poorly in school, while most children in suburbs have two parents and perform fairly well, there may be decisive correlations quite apart from school spending even if they can't be discussed in polite company.

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

Chris Powell: Conn. inauguration day needed more than giddy gush

Connecticut’s new governor, Ned Lamont.

Connecticut’s new governor, Ned Lamont.


Democrats were entitled to celebrate on Inauguration Day in Hartford. Going into the recent election their record of eight years in control of state government was so much against them that no one of any standing in the party thought its nomination for governor was worth the trouble. So the nomination was left to two-time loser Ned Lamont on the understanding that he would finance his campaign with his own money, at least sparing the party the expense.

Whereupon, thanks to President Trump and an excess of political neophytes dividing their primary vote, Connecticut's Republicans self-destructed. So the Democrats simply repudiated their record and were rewarded with another term.

The forthcoming patronage and plunder would have intoxicated the Republicans too. But the giddy gush of Inauguration Day was a bit too much, from the invocation exalting political correctness, to the appeals to optimism and believing in the state despite its chronic insolvency and decline, to the new governor's emptily proclaiming to the General Assembly, "Let's fix this damn budget once and for all!"

Three of Lamont's four immediate predecessors as governor, who sat in the front row at the inauguration, might have wondered, "How's that again?" For fixing the budget [ITALICS] even once [END ITALICS] had been nearly impossible for them, and fixing it forever will be impossible as long as Connecticut has more special interests than civic virtue.

Saying he'll welcome "any good idea," Lamont advertises openmindedness and bipartisanship. But there is no shortage of ideas, and the basic ones are contradictory. From the start of the campaign last year right through the inaugural address there has been instead a shortage of people in authority able to distinguish the good ideas from the bad ones in any way that comes close to balancing revenue and expenditures.

People already know the choices and how politically inconvenient they are; that's why candidates avoided them. The optimism and good fellowship touted on Inauguration Day are nice but without a couple of dollars they won't buy anyone a cup of coffee at the Legislative Office Building cafeteria next week unless he has something to offer in return. Politics will devour optimism and good fellowship.

Lamont's gee-whiz manner -- Heaven help him if it is really his nature as well -- seems to have prevented him from saying what Connecticut needed to hear on Inauguration Day.

Becoming chief executive when the very survival of his country was in question, Winston Churchill offered only "blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Even so, he would add: "Do not let us speak of darker days. Let us speak rather of sterner days" -- days in which the country might be saved.

Though his times were not that stern, President Kennedy also famously demanded something of the people: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

But on Inauguration Day the new governor barely managed a scolding: "Please don't tell me you've done your share and it's somebody else's turn. It's all of our turns."

It sounded like the policy of the discredited governor who had just gone out the door, Dannel P. Malloy -- "shared sacrifice" -- that is, raising taxes again to keep government employees happy. But why not? The Democrats are back in charge.

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

Chris Powell: Behind the brawls at the malls

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You can observe a lot just by watching, Yogi Berra said. Maybe that's possible even with local television news in Connecticut, though it's usually trivial.

For the other day WFSB-TV3 broadcast two touching stories whose details hinted at much bigger issues.

The first was about a Christmas dinner for the down-and-out in Hartford sponsored by a charitable organization, Hands On Hartford. In addition to dinner, guests received gifts -- hats, mittens, and socks -- that seemed to anticipate cold days on the street. The guests were grateful, though those interviewed, as is typical with the very poor, were missing many teeth, so feeding themselves may not be easy even when it's free.

The second story was about three sisters in Meriden who are caring for their mother because she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The sisters are preparing the family home for sale in the hope of raising money to get their mom admitted to a leading cancer hospital in New York, since her insurance won't cover it.

Lacking teeth no longer has to be a permanent handicap. Nor is the worst cancer case necessarily a death sentence anymore. Dental implants and cancer treatments just cost more money or more insurance than many people have. Meanwhile, the federal government still spends billions of dollars every month on stupid and futile imperial wars, and last week state government began spending another $5 million in the name of preserving open space, though Connecticut's population long has been stagnant and open space is preserving itself.

That is, these days government has money for everything except what people need most. So maybe elected officials should pay more attention to local TV news when they're not the ones being covered.

But elected officials aren't likely to notice missing teeth and lousy medical insurance when they don't notice the social disintegration exploding all around them.

Last week, while outgoing Gov. Dannel Malloy and his aides congratulated themselves on what they claim is a reduction of crime in the state, hundreds of young people brawled at shopping malls in Manchester and Milford; a 12-year-old boy was shot to death in Bridgeport by an 18-year-old illegal immigrant during a gang war in which several other youths were shot but survived; two men were shot, one fatally, in Hartford, where shootings have risen this year; and the decline in the state's prison population being touted by the governor continued to correspond ironically with a growing number of arrests of offenders with long records whose avoidance of prison despite their incorrigibility is nothing to cheer.

Bridgeport City Councilor Ernie Newton, a chronic offender himself, responded to the 12-year-old's murder by proposing that police be authorized to stop and frisk anyone who looks suspicious. Newton withdrew the idea when he was reminded that this would violate constitutional rights and inflame racial tensions, especially when most officers are white and most city residents are not.

But one of the activists who scolded Newton was just as oblivious. She told the Connecticut Post that instead of "stop and frisk" Bridgeport needs "youth programs" and "a huge increase in therapists and counselors in schools."

No, Bridgeport and Connecticut need elected officials who dare to address the causes of problems rather their symptoms and ask where all the messed-up kids are coming from, why so many kids don't have parents anymore, and how public policy may be causing this.

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

Chris Powell: Connecticut should put casino rights out to bid

The Mohegan Sun casino, in Uncasville, Conn.

The Mohegan Sun casino, in Uncasville, Conn.



No government pursuing the public interest sells something without first putting it to bid. But for almost three decades Connecticut has given casino exclusivity to a couple of reconstituted Indian tribes out in the woods in the eastern part of the state and has never ascertained what anyone else might pay to operate a casino here.

The tribal casinos have been paying state government for this exclusivity -- a quarter of their slot-machine revenue, which over the years has amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars. But these royalties have been declining steadily as casinos open in neighboring states.

Meanwhile MGM, having recently opened one of those casinos just over the Massachusetts line, in Springfield, is arguing that Connecticut might do better by authorizing it to open a casino in Bridgeport. This would draw gamblers from heavily populated New York and Fairfield County, many of whom now journey to the tribal casinos two hours deeper into the countryside. These gamblers might be glad to lose their money closer to home.

Under federal law the two tribes have the right to run casinos on their reservations, and Connecticut can't change that. But the tribes do not have the right to exclusivity in the casino business in the state. Nor is the 25-percent tribute from their slot-machine revenue fixed permanently; it could be renegotiated. So now that state government is permanently broke and unable to economize, it should ask whether the tribes might be induced to pay more for their casino exclusivity or whether a different entity operating another casino or two might pay more tribute than the tribes pay.

It's telling that the supporters of the tribal casinos don't want to find out. Their argument for preserving the exclusivity of the tribes is only that the tribes have been "good partners" for state government and employ thousands of people in eastern Connecticut. But another casino operator might be just as good a partner, employ just as many people, if elsewhere in the state, and might pay more tribute.

As industrial-strength gambling, casinos are a nasty business. They pander to the worst instincts, exploit the worst weaknesses, and create terrible social problems as the price of the tribute they pay state government. They redistribute wealth from the many to the few and shift commerce from small businesses to big business. They create nothing of value. They are profitable to state government only insofar as they draw gamblers from other states, and as casinos proliferate, states increasingly will prey on their own people.

But Connecticut already has made its big policy decision by opting for casinos. This is bad enough and it should not be allowed to cancel ordinary good practice, competitive bidding for government-issued privilege.

The tribal casinos are warning state government against pursuing competition but the slot-machine tribute they pay actually gives them little leverage. For state government could cut off their traffic any time by surrounding them with casinos in, say, Bridgeport, Hartford, Torrington, Putnam and New London. A casino in Bridgeport alone might devastate them. Faced with that prospect, the tribal casinos might be willing to pay a lot more for their exclusivity, just as the state might profit more by ending their exclusivity. It's time to find out.

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

Chris Powell: In Conn., on the nanny state and big wars

An old wet nurse symbolizing France as nanny-state and public health provider (color photomechanical reproduction of a lithograph by N. Dorville, 1901).

An old wet nurse symbolizing France as nanny-state and public health provider (color photomechanical reproduction of a lithograph by N. Dorville, 1901).

MANCHESTER, Conn.

Almost any issue will do when Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal craves attention, so the other day he joined some pediatricians at the state Capitol to warn the world about computer games that contain advertising aimed at young children. Blumenthal said such games are against federal law and he asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate them.

The senator's complaint implied a belief that parents and guardians are incapable of protecting their kids against mere advertising and that, as a result, the federal government must do it, as if kids who are not yet even 10 can buy much if anything on their own. That's a good definition of the nanny state.

Meanwhile Connecticut's other U.S. senator, Chris Murphy, is pushing through the Senate a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's intervention in the civil war in Yemen on account of the suffering there.

But Murphy acknowledges that the other side in that war is awful too, and the war in Yemen is not as much the United States's war as are the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Those wars have caused even more suffering and the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq have been continuing without victory and without even an idea of victory far longer than the war in Yemen. Unlike the war in Yemen, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have killed or injured nearly 60,000 U.S. soldiers, while their civilian casualties and refugees are in the millions.

So where is Murphy's resolution to terminate the stupid, futile, imperial wars for which the United States bears primary responsibility? Opposing the war in Yemen while letting the bigger wars pass, Murphy is just striking a humanitarian pose on the cheap.

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MISSING THE REAL RACISM: Some people in New Haven are purporting to be shocked -- shocked! -- that the city's school system imposes serious discipline disproportionately on black students and especially black boys. The implication of the shock is that New Haven's school administration is racist.

But New Haven's school superintendent is black, as is the city's mayor, and New Haven may be the most politically correct city in the country. While racism can be found nearly everywhere, school discipline falls more heavily on black boys nearly everywhere for the same reason criminal justice does, including in Connecticut's criminal-justice system, which strives to keep people out of jail even when they are chronic and incorrigible offenders.

That is, black boys and young men misbehave more.

This results from their coming disproportionately from an environment of disadvantage -- poverty, child neglect and abuse, and fatherlessness, an environment increasingly perpetuated by the welfare system. All children need fathers but boys especially do to tame their natural aggression.

But the racial disproportion in child neglect and fatherlessness still cannot be discussed in polite company even in supposedly sophisticated Connecticut. So people who know better are left to suggest that the big problem in racially disproportionate punishment is the prejudice of those in charge of keeping order in school and on the street.

Child neglect and fatherlessness do far more damage than guns. Coming out of anarchic homes, neglected boys suddenly collide with authority, end up suspended or expelled from school or imprisoned, and never understand what hit them. The racism isn't in their collision with authority but in the indifference to their upbringing.


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


Chris Powell: The truth about today's judicial politics

The U.S. Supreme Court Building, erected in 1932-35.

The U.S. Supreme Court Building, erected in 1932-35.

MANCHESTER, Conn.

President Trump is usually insufferable but he's not always wrong, and he is spectacularly right about the increasing ideological partisanship of the federal judiciary. Of course, there are "Obama judges," "Bush judges" and "Clinton judges," and so far Trump has been most effective in nominating and persuading the Republican-controlled Senate to appoint "Trump judges."

For judicial nominees have political ideologies just as regular politicians do, and these days restraint and respect for precedent have less standing in both liberalism and conservatism. These days constitutional law is mainly a belief that the Constitution requires whatever you support and prohibits whatever you oppose.

The 9th Circuit of the federal court system, the circuit with jurisdiction for California and 10 other Western states and territories, which has drawn the president's fire for issuing so many injunctions against his policies, is, as the president says, the circuit whose judges are most frequently overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. This doesn't mean that the 9th Circuit is always wrong and the Supreme Court is always right. It means only that the 9th Circuit, whose judges come disproportionately from California, an extremely liberal state, is far more liberal than the Supreme Court, whose judges have been chosen under much more national and less liberal influence.

Chief Justice John Roberts seems to have felt that the integrity of the federal courts required him to defend their judges against the president's charge of political motivation. But it was ridiculous for Roberts to pretend that the judges don't have their own politics and act from it on the bench. Roberts' pretense is refuted by two recent spectacles: the U.S. Senate's crude deliberation on Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the Senate's refusal even to consider President Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Everyone knew throughout those spectacles that there were indeed huge political differences between "Trump judges" and "Obama judges."

This year Connecticut was powerfully reminded that its own judges sometimes are highly ideological politically. The state Senate rejected Gov. Dannel Malloy's nomination of Associate Justice Andrew McDonald, formerly a close aide to the governor and a state senator, to be chief justice of the state Supreme Court. For McDonald had been part of a majority on the court that claimed to have the power to erase capital punishment from the state Constitution.

That is, increasingly the appellate courts on both the federal and state levels are becoming unelected super-legislatures, eager to constitutionalize major political disputes and thus to resolve them permanently in favor of the politics of the judges. Courts are no longer mere umpires in government and politics; now they often are settling the score too.

Of course like many other politicians Trump wants the score settled his way; that's why he has attacked the 9th Circuit and not other circuits. The president himself is now politicizing the courts in a different direction. But at least Trump is being candid about it while Chief Justice Roberts has offered only blather to counter it.

If the courts are to be depoliticized and the country's liberty preserved, the people themselves, from whom the political parties draw their ideologies, will have to become less partisan. They will have to heed a great judge of the last century, Learned Hand, who cautioned: "The spirit of liberty is the spirit that is not too sure that it is right."


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



Chris Powell: Liberals embrace war contracting in Conn. They should read Ike

Pratt & Whitney’s headquarters, in East Hartford.

Pratt & Whitney’s headquarters, in East Hartford.



Control of the U.S. House of Representatives by a new Democratic majority is expected to yield a military contracting bonanza for Connecticut, whose House delegation, like its Senate delegation, is entirely Democratic and has much seniority.

The 1st District's Rep. John Larson, first elected to Congress 20 years ago, may gain more military jet engine contracts for the Pratt & Whitney division of United Technologies Corp. in East Hartford.

The 2nd District's Rep. Joe Courtney, who has been in the House for 12 years, may become chairman of a subcommittee on sea power and thereby may arrange still more nuclear submarine business for the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics in Groton.

The 3rd District's Rep. Rosa DeLauro, first elected 28 years ago, will be in a better position to steer military helicopter contracts to the Sikorsky Aircraft division of Lockheed Martin in Stratford.

The 4th District's Rep. Jim Himes, in office for 10 years, has many constituents who work at Sikorsky and likely will help DeLauro help Sikorsky.

Being a new member of the House, the 5th District's Jahana Hayes may have to rely on her Connecticut colleagues to accomplish the contract-mongering ordinarily done by seniority. Since her district has no large military contractor and since she has been a teacher, Hayes may monger for federal grants in the name of education.

But even as Connecticut's military contracting interests are imagining new largesse, a study published the other day by Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimates that the United States has spent or committed itself to spend nearly $6 trillion on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other God-forsaken countries since 2001. These wars are estimated to have killed nearly a half million people and to have displaced 10 million as refugees without achieving victory on the battlefield.

Of course, if victory is calculated instead by the livelihoods drawn from military contracting, Connecticut's members of Congress may be spectacular successes. But they also present themselves as liberals and often complain about unmet human needs at home, from medical care to transportation. The U.S. war in Afghanistan against -- what, exactly? -- is in its 18th year without complaint from those members of Congress, nor any complaint from Connecticut's other leading liberals. They have accepted perpetual war as a normal part of life.

Since much of that estimated $6 trillion cost of war has been extracted from countries that feel compelled to purchase U.S. government bonds to sustain the dollar as the world reserve currency, advocates of perpetual war may dismiss its financial expense. But there is still the human cost, both abroad and at home.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a military hero, described that cost in 1953: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."

How quaint Eisenhower sounds today as the United States is intervening militarily in more than 70 countries.

Of course the country needs a strong military. But when will its wars and other military interventions be audited for results? And if our supposed liberals won't audit them, who will?

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

Chris Powell: Malloy wins third term as Conn. governor!

State seal of Connecticut. Love the grapes! Nutmeg State residents are big wine drinkers.

State seal of Connecticut. Love the grapes! Nutmeg State residents are big wine drinkers.



Maybe it was his only way to win Connecticut's election for governor, but having assured voters during the final weeks of his campaign that no one would have to sacrifice during his administration, either through tax increases or cuts in services, Ned Lamont now can only disappoint people, even as the hungriest ones think that he owes them big-time.

Five days before the election Lamont, the Democratic nominee, told a rally of government employee union members in New Britain, "We're going to be fighting for you for the next four years." Lamont's remark recalled Gov. Dannel Malloy's infamous if honest declaration to a rally of government employee union members at the state Capitol four years ago: "I am your servant."

How will the new servant of the unions deliver to them after first pledging to raise taxes, then pledging not to, and then, hours before the election, dismissing a radio interviewer's question about taxes with a "no comment," as if that answer was not as arrogant as anything ever uttered by his ignorant Republican rival?

But at least Lamont will enjoy a Democratic majority in the General Assembly, as the slowly rising Republican tide of recent years receded just as the party seemed about to seize legislative power. Dissatisfaction with President Trump probably hurt Republican legislative candidates.

The restored Democratic majority in the legislature probably won't object much to raising taxes again, as long as it is done quickly, leaving maximum time before the next election. New tax revenue will help protect the compensation of the Democrats' own campaign workers, like the members of government employee unions who performed sentry duty at polling places for Democratic candidates, doing political work on one their many discretionary paid holidays.

Connecticut's Republicans couldn't have suffered a bigger defeat than this election, since the state had been laid so low by eight years of Democratic administration under Governor Malloy that even Lamont ran against his own party's record. But circumstances turned out to be worse for the Republicans than Malloy's record was for the Democrats.

First was the failure of the Republicans to unite behind a gubernatorial candidate at their convention, resulting in a five-way primary whose winner was a political unknown with only 29 percent of the vote, Bob Stefanowski.

Second was the failure of the Republican bench, the party's leading legislators and mayors, to win nomination for higher office this year. Only one of those leaders did -- state Sen. Joe Markley, of Southington, who ran for lieutenant governor. With that exception everyone on the Republican ticket for statewide and congressional office had little to no name recognition when the campaign started and barely more when it ended.

That Stefanowski came fairly close despite his lack of involvement in the state's public life, his unfamiliarity with state government, and his refusal to articulate a platform beyond reducing taxes suggests that Connecticut was ready for a change of regime if it was offered a more plausible candidate.

But while enactment of the state income tax in 1991 was expected to prompt a political revolution in the legislative election the next year, the political composition of the new General Assembly was exactly the same as the old's. Malloy is leaving office detested but here comes his third term.


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