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The Chris Powell Column

Larson wouldn’t just save, but improve Social Security

Maybe nothing will come of it until the insanity in Washington dissipates, but Connecticut U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, is now in a position to do something important for the country and not just the military contractors back home.

Forget school aid formula; and impeach for shutdown

High on the agenda for the new session of the 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.

Legalizing and taxing weed?

Should Connecticut legalize marijuana for ordinary recreational use, as neighboring Massachusetts has just done?

To a great extent Connecticut already has legalized the intoxicating weed, since the state has authorized medical prescriptions for it and licensed a few medical dispensaries, and criminal penalties for simple possession have been reduced to irrelevance. As a practical matter for years marijuana use has been so widespread in the state that police and courts didn’t bother much with enforcement.

Legislators thrilled to avoid doing what Connecticut needs

Concluding the 2018 session of the General Assembly on May 9, legislators congratulated themselves on a bipartisan budget that bequeaths mammoth deficits to themselves and the new governor next year. This was no great service to a state that badly needs structural changes to its operations, but legislators could have considered it a triumph for themselves, as it postponed those tough decisions beyond the November election. No wonder they were giddy about it.

The ways Malloy resembles Clinton

With her new memoir of last year’s presidential campaign, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton blames her defeat on everybody else more than herself — Russian President Vladimir Putin, former FBI Director James Comey, campaign rival Bernie Sanders, woman haters and so forth. 

Clinton does have a fair complaint about Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who drew away enough liberal votes to cost Clinton the three usually Democratic states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — that gave the electoral college to Donald Trump. 

Trump tweets outdo Blumenthal aggrandizing

Since Sen. Richard Blumenthal represents Connecticut rather than Wyoming or West Virginia, his denouncing President Donald Trump and being denounced by the president in turn can only build support for him in his home state, where the president is poorly regarded.

Local news will continue only with enough interested citizens

What happens to local news when there are no local news organizations? What happens to communities without local news? 

The Washington Post tried to answer those questions the other day, using as an example East Palo Alto, Calif., where many news organizations are nearby, but none pays attention to the town.

Islamic law is no issue here, so lay off state’s Muslims

Everybody knows that Islam is having a civil war between murderous totalitarians and people who just want to live and let live. Civilization’s urgent agenda must be to help the good guys. 

But as Connecticut saw last weekend, some people are determined to insult and intimidate the good guys by suggesting that all followers of Islam are bad, which can only discourage the good guys and strengthen the bad guys.

Malloy still has strength and time to slow state’s long fall

Announcing so far ahead of the next election that he will not seek a third term, Governor Malloy risks losing influence with the General Assembly, which has only begun the first of its two sessions remaining during his term. 

But even as a “lame duck” the governor can preserve his influence if he is willing to use or threaten to use his veto more aggressively. And by forswearing re-election, he has given himself more freedom to do things that strike him as impolitic but right or necessary.

Highest courts are really about political power, not the law

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate did what they had to do last week with President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Republicans had to force Gorsuch through, even at the cost of repealing the Senate’s rule favoring bipartisanship with important presidential nominations, and Democrats had to oppose him, though he was well qualified.