Mark Twain on Teddy Roosevelt and Guess Who

What, one wonders, would Mark Twain make of Donald Trump? Twain was not known for political punditry, but late in his life he acquired a visceral aversion to President Theodore Roosevelt, who was the showy egoist of his era. Indeed, the novelist labeled the Rough Rider “far and away the worst President we have ever had” and “the most formidable disaster that has befallen the country since the Civil War.”

Why I march

Since the Women’s March on Washington began, perhaps the biggest question has been: Why March? We are a large group of women throughout the state of Connecticut who woke up on November 9 with the realization that something unique had occurred. We each woke up the day after the election feeling like strangers in an alien land. A call to move from despondency to recovery and resistance, created a need to reach out and join forces that ultimately coalesced in the March on Washington on January 21. While, as individuals, we may have joined this effort for different reasons, we have organized around three principles: We march to support each other and remind ourselves that we are not alone. We march to send a clear message that the new administration has no mandate. We march to organize for a better future.

‘Pension spiking’ bleeding Connecticut’s budget — bigtime

“Pension Spiking” is the term used to describe the common practice whereby state and government employees contrive to boost their pensions in the last years of their employment. Pension spiking has been going on for years throughout the country, but it has been raised to a new level in Connecticut during Gov. Dannel Malloy’s two terms. By appointing a number of loyal Democrat legislators to judgeships or other high ranking positions in his administration, he has “spiked” their retirement benefits.

Obama, the laziest president, demonstrates the problem with politics

President Obama has been largely a “sidelines-quarterback.” His nickname of “No-Drama Obama” was earned by a full eight years of never getting out of first gear and assiduously refusing to exert and effort beyond the minimal. However, now it seems that he has suddenly come to life and is rushing to get some things put on his list of accomplishments. He came back from his latest vacation apparently with the intention to finally get some things done in his last few weeks. It seems as if he would like to be remembered for perhaps more than the president who has taken the most vacation time, spent the most on vacations (nearly $100 million), and logged more rounds of golf than any other president in history

A visit from St. LaPierre

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the bunker,
alarm codes were set; we were ready to hunker.
The children were nestled all snug in their cots
and protected by spring guns. (Each held 17 shots.)

Our holsters were hung by the bedstead with care,
with hopes that St. LaPierre soon would be there…. (cont.)

Why Connecticut should consider ranked-choice voting

While voters and political pundits alike are still hashing out what exactly happened on November 8, there is one conclusion about the election that most cannot deny: many voters felt they didn’t have adequate choices. But rather than wait for “good choices” to pop out of the nether regions, there is something we can do now to make sure elections like 2016 do not happen again. A potential cure to the ailment of bad choices is in reforming the way in which we elect our leaders, through a system called Ranked Choice Voting.

American exceptionalism, the Founders’ wisdom, or how to ‘drain the swamp’

Mentioning “American Exceptionalism” in the wrong crowd could yield everything from “the vapors” to outright hostility. These stem from both a misunderstanding of the word “exceptional” and a lack of U.S. historical knowledge. Let me address both. Many folks think “exceptional” means “better than.” Not so. The first meaning in the 2016 edition of the American Heritage Dictionary is “uncommon,” synonyms for which include “rare” and “singular.”

Time to reconsider the Electoral College

I had the honor —and it was a true privilege— to preside over the vote of the 2016 Electoral College in Connecticut. Inside the state Capitol, the event was filled with the solemnity that such a process deserves. Outside a handful of protesters picketed a practice that some are calling undemocratic. In any other year, I might have joined them.

Amid national election concerns, Connecticut goes the wrong way

About half the states, including Connecticut, have both paper ballots and post-election audits. Because our audits were transparent and publicly verifiable, Connecticut Citizen Election Audit observers have been able to reveal multiple flaws in the process and in the official reporting of audit results. Earlier this year, however, the General Assembly unanimously cut Connecticut’s the audits from 10 percent of districts to 5 percent. Now there is more bad news: our already inadequate audits have been partially replaced by electronic “audits” which are not transparent and not publicly verifiable.

Don’t shift Connecticut’s unfunded liability problem onto our children

Eroding revenues, red ink and poor fiscal management continue to undermine Connecticut’s state budget. Unaltered, the present approach will make it increasingly difficult, even impossible, for our children and future generations to have a state government that fulfills its fundamental and constitutional duty to provide for a healthier, safer and more equitable society. … But the problem is about to get far worse.

A new fiscal year worse than last, but we can still fix Connecticut’s mess

Connecticut began 2016 with more structural deficits coupled with a refusal by the majority to address the size and burn rate of our bloated state government. Instead, they blamed our chronic fiscal problems on a “new economic reality” — i.e., more political spin and another pusillanimous excuse for failed leadership. Indeed, despite record high state tax receipts over these last few years, extracted by our record high tax increases, we still have not kept pace with spending.