Friday, December 30, 2011

Gambling Then And Now, Blumenthal Then And Now

In moving from Connecticut’s attorney general’s office to the U.S. Senate, Dick Blumenthal left behind a truckload of news releases sent out on an almost daily basis to the local media, as well as a few hundred moldy cases quickly dismissed by incoming Attorney General George Jepsen as unsound.

No doubt some of those numberless press releases are rattling around like dry old bones in the news morgues of many a Connecticut newspaper.

A few of them relating to internet gambling and the stories they mothered can be fetched from the internet.

Attorney General Blumenthal, as early as 1997, sent out to various newspapers in Connecticut, some of which were much in the habit of reflexively printing his news releases as received, an anti-internet gambling thunderbolt entitled “Blumenthal Urges Effort to Ban Internet Gambling.”

Mr. Blumenthal noted in his release that “Gambling and the Internet is a mix that is a recipe for deceit and financial disaster.”

Along with other state attorneys general, Mr. Blumenthal appeared at the time before a U.S. Senate subcommittee to endorse legislation he said was essential to preserve state regulation of gambling.

Mr. Blumenthal testified that internet gambling would be, according to his press release, “rife with problems, including no regulation or control over those operating the Internet gambling -- including possibly criminals -- and no protections for those who placed wagers.”

That was then.

Coincident with a memo written by Virginia Seitz, head of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and a possible Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, stating that previous legislation bars only internet betting on sports – not internet betting in general – Governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy said that “he welcomes the ruling as a way to raise more money for the state,” according to a report by WTHN News 8.

The Christian Science Monitor has pointed out that “To win Senate approval to serve on the court, she [Ms. Seitz] would need the support of Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. Last year, most of Nevada’s big casinos became big backers of an effort to overturn the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.”

Other cash strapped governors across the fruited plains salivated uncontrollably after the legal opinion that allows states to authorize Web-based, non-sports gambling within their borders.

The ruling breaks open the tax piggy bank at a time when spendthrift legislators and governors had been forced by circumstances to cut spending in their states. The rush of new taxes from newly permitted internet gambling would relieve their anxieties and postpone politically wounding cost saving measures, perhaps beyond the upcoming elections.

It should be noted that internet gambling could not effectively be regulated by current state strictures governing state betting parlors. Internet gambling is a new game that would need new regulations, as well as a federal regulatory apparatus to insure a happy outcome.

Mr. Blumenthal, whose opposition to internet gambling has thawed since 1997, recently told News 8 that "What we really need” are federal regulations that will protect “consumers, so that credit card fraud and identity theft do not come with online gambling.”

In 2002, then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was one of the keynote speakers, along with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Jeff Benedict, author of “Without Reservation,” at a public forum sponsored by the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE).

In a media release, CAGE noted a series of “facts” surrounding gambling that have not been disputed by Mr. Blumenthal:

“Crime rates in communities with casinos are 84% higher than the national average… Gambling hurts local businesses. One-third of Atlantic City’s retail businesses closed within four years of the arrival of casinos… Gambling costs taxpayers money. Every $ 1 in gambling revenue costs states between $ 3 to $ 7 in hidden costs… Gambling eliminates jobs. For every 1 job created by casinos, surrounding communities lose 1 to 2 jobs… Gambling hurts our kids. In states with legalized gambling, 5% to 11% of the teenagers will become compulsive gamblers… Gambling is addictive. A Connecticut study showed that 47% of those who gamble in the state are problem or pathological gamblers… Gambling wrecks lives. In states with legalized gambling: 99% of compulsive gamblers commit crimes; 100% of compulsive gamblers become physically abusive, especially towards children; 25% of compulsive gamblers end up in the legal system…”

Such “facts” cannot be mitigated through regulations. But, then again, inconvenient truths are not likely to weigh heavily on the consciences of Democratic senators and governors whose overriding concern in an era of diminishing tax returns is – how best to raise tax revenue to allow increases in state spending levels without spooking the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Donovan: North Korea is a Monarchy

At long last, the Democrats may have found their Sarah Palin, a Republican Vice Presidential candidate much criticized for having said, probably not in jest, that one could see Russia from Alaska.

In an extensive interview with Hartford online radio network’s “On The Horn”, 5th District U.S. House candidate Chris Donovan several times referred to North Korean dictators as monarchs (not butterflies), a flub that would portend alarming ignorance in lesser Republican candidates. Mr. Donovan called both the elder Kim Jong IL and his peachy-cheeked son “kings.”

Here is a transcription of Mr. Donovan's remarks on Korea:

"Horn: We have things going on in North Korea I want you to comment on… What do we do with places like North Korea, where we have the boy king?

"Donovan: Well, it’s still pretty much of a mystery right now. We’re seeing more of North Korea than we’ve seen in decades. I mean, the stories that were told to the populace about the former king and his exploits on the golf course (pause), amazing the information going on. Again, like what’s going on in the Arab world, it’s a challenge for us. And it’s an opportunity for us as well. We’ve had tough years with North Korea in the last few years, due to the personality of the then king. I think we should reach out as aggressively to the new king. There’s a better way. We can help your populous of your country where people apparently are starving. And the Unites States can play a role. I know that in South Korea, there’s a real bitterness towards the former king. I think the United States can move into a place where maybe South Korea can’t, and try to pull them in and help them change in a way that is helpful to the area, as well as helpful to the United States and helpful to the people. I see this this as a real opportunity. I think we should do our best to say – all right, there’s a new king."

Mr. Donovan also said of Cuba, a country proximate to Florida – though it cannot be seen from there – that it ‘is not a wealthy country.” Cubans under King Castro, who make about $9 dollars a month in salary, are considerably less wealthy than state workers in Connecticut. Both the Castro brothers, who through state regulation more or less own the means of production in Cuba, are wealthy. A few years ago, Cuba’s dictators did away with caps on salaries that assured doctors should receive the same salary under socialisimo as people who cleaned their offices, according to a report in The Guardian. That experiment in capitalism may prove beneficial. It also may result in the kind of wage disparity increasingly denounced here in the United States by Mr. Donovan, who may be surprised to discover that unions are frowned upon in wealthy Cuba.

NOTE: The text has been corrected. Mr. Kantrowitz pointed out that Mr. Donovan did not say, as initially reported on this blog, that Cuba was wealthy. He said it was NOT wealthy. On a second hearing, Mr. Donovan’s “NOT wealthy” is obvious. My thanks to Mr. Kantrowitz for calling it to my attention.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Choices, UConn And Bust

UConn is raising its tuition. Is anyone surprised?

The surprise, if any, might be checked at the door after reading the latest edition of Ted Mann’s magnum opus covering the first year of Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in twenty years.

Both Governor Dannel Malloy and the crowd of Malloyalists surrounding him are highly ambitious. They believe previous governors have been treading water. The state now has a progressive reformist at the helm who wants to “reinvent – his word – the state of Connecticut. As is the case with most modern progressives, education is a political palliative – good for what ails you; when you run out of options, boost education. Reformation, naturally, is costly, but politically popular. In the hands of Mr. Malloy and the Democratic legislature, any reform of education is likely to advance the interests of teachers at the expense of taxpayers.

Jonathan Pelto, himself an ardent liberal, reminds us that Mr. Malloy pointedly did not extend his “Shared Sacrifice” to municipalities when he was hammering out his budget with SEBAC, the union coalition authorized to negotiate union contracts with the state. Shared cost savings from teachers therefore were off the table before bargaining commenced.

Responding to a statement made by Malloy budget director Ben Barnes that cuts at UConn “were comparable to what the rest of state government took,” Mr. Pelto remarks in a careful analysis of tuition increases proposed by recently installed UConn President Susan Herbst, “This statement is blatantly false. In fact, there were a number of government programs that were not cut at all (such as municipal aid), with others that only received minor cuts and even a few programs that received increased state funding.”

The money “saved” by Mr. Malloy in state funding cuts to UConn has now been backfilled by Ms. Herbst through tuition increases.

Behold, Mr. Pelto writes, the Malloy version of “Shared Sacrifice”:

“The Malloy version of ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – More taxes for middle income families and then, as a result of state budget cuts, those same families will now face significantly higher costs to send their kids to college.”

At its best and worst, politics is all about making choices. If Mr. Malloy, the architect of Connecticut’s future, had not chosen to spend nearly $900 million on the UConn Health Center (UCHC), the pinkest of pink elephants, he would have had wads of cash on hand to defray tuition costs at the college proper. Why? Because Mr. Malloy and his Democratic controlled legislature had jacked up taxes sufficiently in their budget to produce the usual Connecticut surplus. And then he spent it on a roll of the dice.

A review of Mr. Mann’s serial account of the first year of the Malloy administration will show that Ms. Herbst was one of the prime movers in the re-invention of the UConn Health Center.

We discover from Mr. Mann’s account that Mr. Malloy at first told Ms. Herbst and Cato Laurencin, the head of UCHC, that he didn’t want to invest money in the rehabilitation of the ailing facility. Mr. Malloy and the Malloyalist had already performed a political audit: “If they were going to ask him to pour more money into that hospital, and take it between the eyes from every deficit hawk and editorial board in the state, well, they need to show him something bold.” It was Ms. Herbst who sold the reinvented UCHC to Jackson Laboratories.

“She's already begun the hard work at UConn of whacking back the weeds,” Mr. Mann wrote, “cutting undersubscribed Ph.D. programs and winnowing unnecessary expenditures to free up more funds for research. They're fundraising, and they're lousy with ‘free labor’: undergraduates desperate to work for course credit and resume-building lab experience. They are, in short, just the sort of forward-thinking host community a lab organization like Jackson ought to be looking for, she says.”

And now UConn now needs additional professors to reduce class sizes from 18 students per professor to 15. The most pampered institution in the state, UConn will now cover putative losses in state aid, said to be about $300 million, by bumping up tuition 6 to 6.8 percent for the next four years.

The stinger here is that we all live in a world of finite choices -- and finite resources. Non-politicians learn to live within those parameters. Political choices have consequences. Those who do not like the consequences should have opposed the precipitating choices. They didn’t. Now, weeping copious tears, UConn students have been saddled with tuition increases. Really, it’s a bit of a crush watching those responsible for spilling the milk weeping crocodile tears over their spilt milk.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Understanding Kim Through Dramaturgy

The following piece appeared in Connecticut Commentary five years ago and is reprinted here on the occasion of the passing of Kim Jong Il.

Shin Sang-ok enters the stage and approaches a large standing mirror with great trepidation. At the end of his monologue, he will fade out and only the mirror, with Kim Jong Il’s image in it, will be seen.

Shin Sang-ok: I am not Kim Jong Il, though people have told me I look a bit like him; it’s the pompadour, I think. Kim could not be here. That would be impossible.

To understand Kim, you must understand something of the uses of imagery. I have a comprehensive understanding of the science of imagery, for I was a movie producer in South Korea, before I was abducted and taken to the North. One of Kim’s agents put a bag over my head and spirited me off. Well, you know -- North Korea; it’s not Hollywood… Having tried and failed to escape several times, I was put into a reeducation camp for four years.

Why is it always four years, I wonder? Why not ten, or eleven and a half? (He laughs) You are surprised, perhaps, that the camp did not rob me of my sense of humor? But believe me, when you are in camp – and everything that has brought you joy is stripped away from you, so that what remains is nothing but a naked, shivering ego, shorn of all its comforting illusions – a sense of humor may be your only saving grace. It took me years to become serious again.

I suppose the North Koreans, who have next to nothing, find themselves in similar circumstances; or at least they might, were it not for the reality bending enchantment of imagery. Once I was released from camp, thoroughly re-educated, I was treated well enough. I was conducted from the camp straight to Kim Jong Il’s … I will not call it a palace; but neither was it a hovel. Kim greeted me like an old friend. Here, in the permanent blackout of the North Korean peninsula, a light glows in the darkness. Kim Jong Il, you can be sure, is the light of this world, a product, mostly, of his creative imagination.

On the day of my liberation, Kim was light in every way: jovial, witty and bright, even though he has had little formal schooling. Light on his feet, he danced across the floor to greet me, one old school chum embracing another after a long absence. “Hello old fellow! Good to see you.” Would you believe it? The women of the country consider him “cute.” I cannot forget the image of Kim dancing to greet me, his face suffused with light. I know sincerity, and this scene was sincerely warm.

After the camp, where many of us had survived on a diet of corn flour and grass, to be received so cordially was (smile) somewhat disorienting, until I realized, almost at once, that here was a man who had no independent existence apart from his imagery. He was a living film. Kim opened a door and waved me into a room – and there it was: the largest private collection I had, until then, seen anywhere – fifteen thousand films. It is somewhat of an understatement to say that Kim is a film buff. He is, at once, the producer, director and principle actor in the film that records his life and the recent life of his crippled country. And here I was, a film maker -- a minor deity, to be sure -- in the presence of this maestro of image making. How could we fail to get along?

He was generous -- after my rehabilitation. He bought me a Mercedes, and reunited me with my wife, who also had been kidnapped by his imps and impets; she too had the marks of the prison camp on her. But our days of deprivation and re-education, we were given to understand, were now over. Apparently, Kim had need of a film maker. I was paid three million dollars a year. He settled upon me as his Leni Riefenstahl. Not a bad deal; Riefenstahl lived to be 101, outlasting Hitler by some 45 years, convinced to the last that she was an artist, not a propagandist. Perhaps she was an artist – one of those who create dangerously.

As for myself, I was impressed into service; I was not a willing subject. In the absence of freedom, it is somewhat arrogant to speak of free choices. In the prison camps, we had no choice of meals; flour and grass were on every menu. But the citizens of North Korea, so many of them, have had even fewer choices. Even here, in Pyongyang, the very center of Kim’s imagination – for the entire country is an imaginary construct -- there has been whispered talk of starvation.

In refugee areas across the Chinese border, boney children stare with eyes floating in sunken sockets at the desolation of their villages. Odd: One expects monsters such as Kim to be monstrous always. But it is not so. With me – perhaps because I was from the South, and a film maker – Kim was honest, after his own fashion. He could be brutally honest. Perhaps he wanted to have near him one man to whom lies could not be other than lies.

Our conversations sometimes were confessionals – not often, but sometimes. Even the great kings of Europe had their fools, and sometimes kings would permit their fools a certain license denied to even the most privileged courtiers. The people to whom Kim has dedicated his life and his most sacred honor, after all, live in the future he has imagined for them; they know little else. But me, I am from the South. I do know better. And Kim knew that I knew better, that I had a frame of reference different than those North Korean children, with distended bellies, who risked their lives crossing the Chinese border for a bit of rice they might bring back to their starving families.

Can’t fool me. “What did he want?” I often asked myself. Those children who crossed the border to gather food were ashamed that they had fallen so far short of their Dear Leader’s extravagant expectations of them. They were not self reliant enough to starve quietly; their bellies told them that self reliance was a sham. Kim threw a party for my wife and me when we were rejoined after the camps. Two bands played, a male and a female band. When the women in the band cheered him, he patted my hand and said, “Mr. Shin, all that is bogus. It's just pretense.”

What did he want with me? Affirmation, I finally decided. He wanted to be able to affirm to someone that he knew the truth, that he was not a captive of his own imagination, that he was not mad. That and, of course, he needed someone to jump start a propaganda effort. Propaganda is to these tyrants what cosmetics are to aging actresses: When the crow’s feet begin to appear around your eyes, you apply a little paint, and they appear to disappear. But underneath the propaganda, things remain as they are: Children starve and whip themselves because they are not self reliant. (Fade out)

Kim Jong Il: (Kim appears in the mirror. He steps out of the mirror) There is a little truth in all lies. First there was the testimony of my cook – that bastard! That ingrate! Now this!

One thing you can be sure of: People outside North Korea will always be ready to believe the worst of me. But here – where people know me – I am universally loved… Well, to be honest, not universally loved, but deeply loved. The people loved my father as well.

You see, in North Korea, heroism is still possible. We are brought up to identify with heroes, such as my father and – if it is not too immodest to say it -- me. But in the West, your heroes exist only in your films, which is why I have such a large collection of Western films. I have learned a good deal from them. They are my university.

There are differences between Western heroes and Eastern heroes – and similarities too, though I think the differences are more important. The Western hero is a loner; he takes his courage from what he believes to be right. But the ethic of the West is fast changing, don’t you think? What John Wayne thought to be right is not what, say, any modern hero more representative of the West thinks is right. There is something defective about this loner theory too, don’t you think? A man alone is not a blank sheet, because a man is never alone; never an island unto himself, but always part of the mainland.

And, as to the propaganda value of films, well intelligence has always been used that way. It was, after all, Hollywood that won World War II; Hollywood and George Patton, a true American hero. Film is a kind of collective intelligence, and I value it for that reason.

But I meant to say… What was it?... Oh yes, the Eastern hero is different; the wellsprings of his heroism are different. We are not afraid of insularity, self development, self-reliance – but always within the context of serving the greater good. Apart from the greater good, what is self reliance but selfishness? It is not given to everyone to know what the greater good is. When Shin Sang-ok was here, I tried to explain all this to him. But his time in the West had scribbled ineradicable messages on his soul. South Korea is the West; it is the West as surely as New York, or any large city in America, Paris or Germany, is the West. And, sadly, he agrees with me. In South Korea, the external promptings – entirely Western – have overcome internal resolve. Even in the West, the traditional Western messages – notes of conscience – are daily being overwritten by the environment. The Western hero is no longer one who struggles against his environment; he yields to it, the way a weak man yields to a beautiful woman.

That is the truth. The West is losing its struggle with the East. It may not seem so. But the West is weak, faint of soul. That is the truth. Externalities are deceptive. Rome was rich and technologically proficient when it fell. You see: I study the West; but you do not study the East. If you had studied us, you would know that isolation is our strength. The more you isolate us, the stronger we become. We are like Antaeus in the Roman myths. Our strength comes from the earth -- from the people. To kill Antaeus, the son of the earth, Hercules had to hold his feet above the earth, and strangle him; for when his foot touched ground, Antaeus grew in strength. Are you surprised I know these things? Do you think I spend all my time in the cinema? (laughs wildly).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas And The New Puritans

The season of joy and merriment once again is upon us, and anti-Christmas fascists are out in force.

In the “greatest deliberative body on earth” – that would be the U.S. Congress – we find that senators “may use officially related funds to mail holiday cards to constituents,” but they may not use “the frank to mail holiday cards,” even though the funds from both sources come from the same plundered taxpayers.

The prohibition against sharing joyous greetings in the House is considerably more forbidding. House members must submit official mailings for review to the congressional franking commission. The Grinches there regularly tell House members that no Holiday Greetings – and especially not ‘Merry Christmas’ – can be sent in official mail.

Just prior to Christmas, an inquiring reporter who called the commission “for clarification” was told that “Merry Christmas” always and everywhere was verboten. Also House members may not, under pain of de-frankification, wish their constituents a “Happy New Year.” However, House members may include in their franked mail the expression “have a happy new year,” because the lower case greeting references “the time period of a new year, but not the holiday.”

Got it?

It is said that excessively pedantic scholastics around the time of St. Thomas Aquinas spent much of their time debating how many angels might fit on the head of a pin. Such deliberators were babes in the crib when compared to the members of the congressional franking committee. House members, it turns out, are lashed, but senators escape the whip; this inequitable treatment is only fair in a congressional body in which some pigs, to borrow an expression from George Orwell, are more equal than others.

Crushing news for those who suppose that national forests belong to the nation's people: The Mariposa Gazette, California's oldest weekly newspaper of continuous publication, has sent out an advisory that culprits who acquire a Christmas tree from a nearby national forest or transport said tree are subject to a penalty of “$200 with a maximum of $5,000 and/or six months in jail. If more than one tree is taken, violators are fined the value of the trees at maturity.”

Maturity, as they say in Norway, lies in the roots of things. In 2004, a Norway Spruce “of the species traditionally used to decorate European homes during Christmas,” a shrubby mountain survivor, was found “at an altitude of 2,985 feet (910 meters) in Dalarna Province,” according to a report in the authoritative National Geographic. The mature tree sprouted from a root system that “has been growing for 9,550 years.” Apparently, these Christmas trees clone themselves from undisturbed roots.

Nature has nothing to fear from Christmas tree thieves. And Christians have everything to fear from pedantic bureaucrats and lawmakers who uproot joyous traditions for the pure pleasure of destruction. The anti-Christmas crowd, a sad bunch, has become “puritanical” in the sense in which Henry Mencken used the word when he defined puritanism as “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

The new Puritans, every bit as energetic and menacing as the old ones, are never so joyful as when they are sprinkling ashes on the joy of Christians. Their idea is not to engage in a frontal attack on public displays of Christianity but to use the engine of government, most especially the courts, to disturb its message. In this, they have been largely successful. But the season itself blasts through their crusty secularism. On the first day of joy, the first crèche, as in modern times, was crowded round with the sad remnants of paganism and unbelief. But joy, never-the-less managed to find a way into a world thirsty for joy.

"Joy, said C. S. Lewis, “is the serious business of Heaven." And, of course, God being a very tricky fellow, one can never be too careful. It may break out anytime, anywhere.

Friday, December 16, 2011

David Faces Goliath

In any public scuffle between a lowly lawyer and the Malloy administration, one would ordinarily cast the lawyer in the role of David, slingshot at the ready.

But in this case, Rich Rochlin – who, we are told, toiled in obscurity until he, a bit like David, bumped into Goliath – has some physical characteristics that one of Malloy’s men, the formidable Roy Occhiogrosso, finds amusing.

Mr. Occhiogrosso, who during his long and eventful career toiled more or less in obscurity before he joined forces with Goliath, does not hold back. An aide to Mr. Malloy has attributed to Mr. Occhiogrosso a remark that Mr. Rochlin “seems not to be playing with a full deck.''

In one scene recorded for posterity by journalistic embed Ted Mann, an able reporter for the Hearst chain of newspapers, Tim Bannon, Mr. Malloy’s Chief of Staff, receives from Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo’s chief aide a salty response to Mr. Malloy’s persistent criticism of Mr. Cuomo: “We operate on two speeds here: Get along, and kill." Mr. Occhiogrosso seems to have internalized the aide’s operative principle:

“The guy is everybody’s worst impression of a lawyer,’’ Occhiogrosso said of Mr. Rochlin. “He’s like a cartoon character. Hopefully, this guy’s 15 minutes of fame are up soon. … There are several pieces of silverware missing from the drawer. As to what happens to Rich Rochlin, hopefully he just goes away. He’s achieved his objective. This has been a fairly unusual and odd marketing campaign. We’re done dealing with him.’’

Mr. Roachlin is representing a handful of state workers vilified in the media for having allegedly – an investigation is underway – fraudulently applied for a federal handout following Connecticut’s freak snow storm in November.

Mr. Roachlin has been described in some media accounts as “a colorful character with a beard,” a “hard-charging lawyer who has hurled rhetorical bombs at Malloy and his aides in an unorthodox style that included showing up at Malloy’s press conference,” a “newcomer to politics,” unlike Mr. Occhiogrosso, also a colorful character who began his long and eventful career politics and a union “go-fer” tutored by Leo Canty, the union impresario still battling, after all these years, Connecticut’s governmental Goliath.

Mr. Roachlin has been characterized by Mr. Occhiogrosso current boss, the media shy Governor Dannel Goliath, as “a $250-per-hour lawyer who would say whatever was necessary to help his clients,” somewhat like Andrew McDonald, the governor’s current Legal Counsel or Michael Lawlor, the governor’s Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, both of whom are gold plated lawyers. Mr. Malloy also has a law degree.

Much to his credit, Mr. Occhiogrosso has been spared the indignity of attending law school or representing clients before the bar. When Mr. Occhiogrosso needs to lawyer-up, he hires one.

Chris Keating, a Hartford Courant reporter and one of its best diggers, disclosed in his report that Mr. Occhiogrosso had once hired the “cartoon character” to represent him in a legal dispute Mr. Occhiogrosso had with a contractor who, given Mr. Occhiogrosso operational principles, one hopes is still alive.

Mr. Roachlin, enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, has returned Mr. Occhiogrosso’s fire:

“Roy is on my marketing team. He keeps extending my 15 minutes by 10 minutes every night. I thought he was a pro, but he’s getting schooled by a novice, so I feel for him. I thought this guy was a pro. This is amateur hour. It’s like he just came out of an online school for communications. How pathetic. If he needs advice on how to personally attack me, he has my number. He’s keeping me in the news. I thank him for that. … He’s making all the classic mistakes. My clients’ story is getting out. The governor’s administration is being exposed as incompetent. The governor won’t look at the evidence, so we have to keep talking about it.’’

The out-take message for Goliath might very well be: Don’t sweat the small stuff; save the howitzers for the big guys.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Malloy Cool To DeStefano

Governor Dannel Malloy, we are advised by Newsday, has reacted “coolly Wednesday to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's plan to ask the Connecticut General Assembly to allow illegal immigrants who live in the city to vote in municipal elections.”

Mr. Malloy explained, "It's not an idea that I'm particularly comfortable with. I think there are obligations that run with citizenship and there are privileges that run with citizenship."

On the other hand, Mr. Malloy was not so offended as to freeze out Mr. DeStefano entirely, as he had done in the case of General Assembly Republicans who wanted a bit of input during the governor’s meandering budget negotiations with state union workers.

Mr. Malloy told Newsday that “he was willing to ‘hear the mayor out’ on his proposal, which follows the lead of other cities.”

This “man bites dog” story first appeared in the New Haven Independent, was picked up by NBC Connecticut and found its way into The Drudge Report. It will not be long before someone in China or Nigeria – Drudge has a long reach – happens on the story and begins to wonder whether New Haven is a country separate from the United States.

DeStefano has announced plans “to lobby the state for a ‘resident voting rights’ bill that would allow any resident of New Haven—regardless of immigration status—to vote in municipal elections in New Haven. He said he’ll launch the effort during this upcoming legislative session, which runs from February to May.”

The bill, Mr. DeStefano said, is about “how you define community, and how you define responsibility in community.”

President of the World Policy Institute Michele Wucker, the author of “Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right,” offered a novel take on duel citizenship to justify Mr. DeStefano’s possible bill:

“The idea is that when you live in a city, you are essentially a citizen of that city, which is separate from federal or national citizenship. The logic is that everybody is better off when everyone on their block and in their town has a stake in staying on top of issues and working together and to get safe and clean streets, good schools, reliable transportation, and good health care.”

It is not clear at this writing whether the General Assembly would be willing to consider New Haven the equivalent of a separate state, conferring upon its illegal residents a right of citizenship that is usually a prerequisite to voting in municipal elections. But the fearless Democratic dominated legislature should not be underestimated.

The mayor of New Haven has estimated that his city is home to 10,000 “non-citizen immigrants,” half of them above the age of 18. Mr. DeStefano, according to the New Haven Independent story, was launched into the national spotlight in 2007 when during his “quest to make New Haven more inclusive of its immigrant community” he issued a general order preventing police in New Haven from “inquiring into people’s immigration status,” for of course such inquiries might have disclosed that nearly as many members of the New Haven “immigrant community” were “illegal immigrants” as opposed to legal immigrants.

Taking a progressive leap forward, the mayor has now proposed to convert 10,000 non-citizen illegal immigrants into Democratic voters, and 10,000 municipal votes certainly would represent a safe buffer for Mr. DeStefano. The mayor’s success easily could be repeated in other Democratic dominated cities. Many large cities in Connecticut are secure Democratic bastions, and allowing illegal residents to vote sure beats other historic forms of voting irregularities that had been winked at in the good old days of Tammy Hall by Democratic Party bosses. In pre-Civil War New York, the Dead Rabbits, a political gang then supporting New York Mayor Fernando Wood, secured his re-election by forging votes using the names of dead people.

Robbing votes from graves is perhaps too obvious a fraud to pass muster in modern day Connecticut among party bosses, some of whom are mayors. God does not always sleep; neither do newly elected governors or the sometimes drowsy tribunes of the people. Allowing non-citizens to vote is a bit more subtle than the methods employed by Mr. Wood of blessed memory and his Dead Rabbits. Even so, it may be politically risky to ignore obvious distinctions. To many people it is a matter of some importance whether a voter is dead or alive, a citizen or a non-citizen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hope And Change

After 35 months of hope and change under the administration of President Barack Obama, a majority of people in Connecticut are beginning to lose hope, according to a poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute:

“More than half of people in Connecticut believe America's salad days are over, according to a new survey.

“The next generation will have to accept a lower standard of living and the country's best economic days are behind us, 52 percent of state residents said in a survey by the Siena College Research Institute, based in Loudonville, near Albany, N.Y.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

All The Governor’s Men

Jon Lender, investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant, examines some savory or unsavory – depending on one’s point of view -- connections between the Malloy administration and Northeast Utilities:

“For several years ending last December, Global's Hartford office was run by Occhiogrosso. Then, when Occhiogrosso quit to take his current job in the governor's office, Global hired an NU communications executive, Tanya Meck, to take his place in Hartford.

“What significance is there in this interlock of personnel, politics, consultants and clients? According to Occhiogrosso, none.

"’It doesn't mean anything,’ he said. ‘It's a big company in a small state — doesn't mean anything.’"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Courant And Connecticut’s Death Penalty

The editorial board of the Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s only state-wide newspaper, waited patiently until a penalty hearing jury brought in a finding that Joshua Komisarjevsky must die by lethal injection before getting into print, only hours later, an editorial demanding the abolition of the state’s death penalty.

The editorial is only incidentally related to the case at hand, and very likely portions of it were written long before a jury of his peers decided that Mr. Komisarjevsky should be executed. It is an all-purpose declaration, suitable in every death penalty case, a suit of argumentation that will fit any body of evidence.

For instance, the editorial points to “endless reviews and appeals,” not at all uncommon in death penalty cases, and laments that both Mr. Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, earlier condemned to death by a different jury for the same crime, the murder of three women in Cheshire, “are more likely to die of old age before they are executed.”

This is true enough. There are a number of people on Connecticut’s death row whose seemingly endless appeals have so far have forestalled their execution. The gap between the commission of a murder in Connecticut, a trial, a second penalty phase trial and the execution of a death sentence is uncommonly long, bridged by seemingly endless appeals. The paper asks whether these “agonizing and expensive trials accomplish anything?”

The answer the paper is angling for is – No. Since the capital felony process in Connecticut can be subverted by seemingly endless appeals, the state should throw up its hands, concede that its death penalty is unworkable, and abolish a procedure that is unworkable, expensive, immoral and inherently unjust. The death penalty is unjust, according the editors of the Hartford Courant, because it is rooted in revenge and subject to misapplication.

Most of these objections are all purpose caveats. Each one of them begins to collapse once they are applied to the Komisarjevsky-Hayes case.

There is no question of a misapplication of the death penalty in the Komisarjevsky-Hayes multiple murder case. There is not a single member of the editorial board of the Hartford Courant who could argue persuasively before a jury of third graders that either Mr. Komisarjevsky or Mr. Hayes did not commit the crimes of which they have been accused. And while it may be argued that somewhere in the world the death penalty is even now being misapplied, that datum simply has no bearing on the Cheshire murder case.

The notion that the Komisarjevsky jury, which returned a verdict of guilty and later found in a separate penalty hearing trial that the multiple murderer should suffer execution, was motivated by vengeance is a howler that even a shameless comic would hesitate to drag on stage; this kind of special pleading, bordering on demagoguery, just ain’t funny. Vengeance, as a general, rule is swift and inexpensive; it dispenses with costly trials and retrials. Vengeance does not empanel juries to decide questions of innocence or guilty. It does not resort to penalty hearing trials. It is emotional and not deliberative. It occurs most often out of the presence of juries, judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors. These processes bear no relation to murder, and people who argue that the death penalty appropriately applied is “judicial murder,” some of them lawyers, do not understand the meaning of the word “murder” or the word “judicial” or the word “is.”

“When the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, it was with the hope that it could be administered impartially,” Courant editors write. “There is much evidence that this hope has not been met.”

No kidding?

Connecticut has executed two people in the last fifty years. Where is the evidence in either case that the death penalty in Connecticut has been administered in a partial, unjust manner? There is no such evidence.

Once the baby is thrown out with the wash water, the baby is irrecoverable. We are to abolish the death penalty because opponents of the death penalty have been successful in so prolonging the gap between non-vengeful conviction and the application of death sentences as to make capital punishment expensive and harrowing for the family victims of multiple murderers such as Komisarjevsky and Hayes. This is the real argument against capital punishment in Connecticut.

Abolition proponents who are legislators have yet to tell their constituents what punishment they would recommend in the case of a convicted murder serving a life sentence who commits a second murder in prison, or whether they think a terrorist who successfully kills hundreds of people should be spared the indignity of a non-vengeful and just public execution.

Someone should ask them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Teddy And Barack

In a campaign stump speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous 1910 “new nationalism” speech, President Barack Obama threw a few flowers in the direction of the “roughrider,” the father of the modern progressive movement. And then the president bestowed on the Bull Moose president the ultimate compliment: He compared himself – slyly, indirectly – to Teddy.

Mark Twain, who thought Roosevelt a shameless fraud, was not so kind. Here is Twain erupting in a letter to the New York Times, written in 1908:

“Astronomers assure us that the attraction of gravitation on the surface of the sun is twenty-eight times as powerful as is the force at the earth's surface, and that the object which weights 217 pounds elsewhere would weight 6,000 pounds there.

“For seven years this country has lain smothering under a burden like that, the incubus representing, in the person of President Roosevelt, the difference between 217 pounds and 6,000. Thanks be we got rid of this disastrous burden day before yesterday, at last. Forever? Probably not. Probably for only a brief breathing spell, wherein, under Mr. Taft, we may hope to get back some of our health - four years. We may expect to have Mr. Roosevelt sitting on us again, with his twenty-eight times the weight of any other Presidential burden that a hostile Providence could impose upon us for our sins.

“Our people have adored this showy charlatan as perhaps no impostor of his brood has been adored since the Golden Calf, so it is to be expected that the Nation will want him back again after he is done hunting other wild animals heroically in Africa, with the safeguard and advertising equipment of a park of artillery and a brass band.”
In another piece on the bank panic of November 1907, Mr. Twain noted that the nation had been saved at the last moment by the millionaires Mr. Roosevelt had been excoriating in his campaign stump speeches:

"Last week a prodigious and universal crash was impending and but for one thing would have happened; the millionaire 'bandits' whom the president is so fond of abusing in order to get the applause of the gallery, stepped in and stayed the desolation. Mr. Roosevelt promptly claimed the credit of it, and there is much evidence that this inebriated nation thinks he is entitled to it.”

The Surplus State

Is anyone surprised that the tax increases initiated by Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic dominated legislature have now produced a budget surplus of nearly a half billion dollars?

When the budget was put to bed months ago, Connecticut Commentary correctly characterized the surplus it produced as an artificial surplus:

“Mr. Malloy passed his budget through the General Assembly without being put to the inconvenience of discussing the matter with leading Republicans who, unlike union representatives, were wholly shut out of the process. The governor’s budget figures were such as to produce what I have called in the blog and in columns an artificial surplus of about a billion dollars. Real surpluses are produced when taxes are not increased but the state never-the-less realizes an increase in revenue owing mostly to increased business activity. Mr. Malloy’s artificial surplus is now flowing into a series of crony capitalist projects. Mr. Suzio is right about the UConn Health Center: It’s a budget busting black hole the state – which is broke, broke, broke -- can little afford to support. Attaching a non-profit, non-tax generating research center to the UCHC does not make the combination more profitable. This may be the first time in Connecticut’s history that a serviceable neck has been draped around an albatross.”

From its inception, Mr. Malloy’s budget -- a so called “shared sacrifice” plan -- was never intended to be revenue neutral.

Taking a page from former Governor Lowell Weicker, the father of Connecticut’s income tax, the current administration pegged taxes and putative “cost savings” in its budget in such a way as to produce a surplus. The Malloy administration already has distributed nearly a billion dollars of tax collections to the UConn Health Center, one of the state’s most absorbent tax sponges.

The latest figures leave state government with an additional half billion dollar surplus.

Mr. Weicker and succeeding governors folded their surpluses into the state’s spending program, which is why Connecticut’s budgets have increased threefold since the income tax was implemented. This governor differs from Weicker only in degree: his is the largest tax increase is state history.

Continuing surpluses will not be trimmed to assure no net increases in spending. They will be folded into future spending plans, and the surpluses will allow Mr. Malloy to continue to assert that relative to other states Connecticut is in “good shape.”

The state is unfortunate in having produced a string of governors who are incapable of making the proper distinction between the state – that is, the people of the state – and state government, their elected reopresentatives.

In all times, in all places, in all nations, the relationship between the people of the state and their government has ever been the same: The richer the government, the poorer the people.

The state of Connecticut, the surplus state, not at all well off; its government is flourishing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mann’s Malloy

Ted Mann has written for the Day of New London a multipart opus on the Malloy administration that purports to be an inside look at the “malloyalists,” Mann’s term for the Brights surrounding Connecticut’s first Democratic governor in 20 years.

The difficulty with all such accounts is that embedded journalists tend to be stage managed by the principal actors in the drama. And the malloyalists are energetic stage managers. George Bernard Shaw was no admirer of autobiographies; they were all self-serving, carefully edited to show the hero of the piece in the best light. To the extent that a putatively objective piece of political drama approaches autobiography, it will be practically useless. A biography of Napoleon written by his butler might be useful, Shaw thought. But autobiographies – not so much.

An account of the Napoleonic years written by Madam DeRemusat, Lady in Waiting to the Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s cast-off wife, is useful to historians precisely because the lady, she who could not be stage managed, was not one of Napoleon’s most ardent admirers.

“Tell the truth,” Emily Dickensian said, “but tell it slant.” Truth be told, every truth is told slant, but it matters greatly who is slanting it. Would a biography of Napoleon written by Lord Nelson be more truthful than an autobiography written by Napoleon? Better to stick with the butler.

Among American journalists, Bob Woodward of Watergate fame is perhaps best known for writing embedded accounts of various administrations.

In a recent speech at the Organization for International Investment’s annual dinner at D.C.’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Thursday, Mr. Woodward told the crowd that former Vice President Al Gore was not the best conversationalist at table.

“Now, sitting next to Gore is taxing,” he said. And milking the laughing crowd, Mr. Woodward added, “In fact, it’s unpleasant.” Then Mr. Woodward, who had been criticized in some of his writings for making up conversations – to add verisimilitude to his narratives – tossed a bit of beef to the crowd.

He had asked Mr. Gore how much the public knew about what went on in the Bill Clinton administration, to which Mr. Gore responded, “About one percent,” a response that made Mr. Woodward feel “icky,” according to a report in The Hill.

“I kind of died inside and have to confess to having an unclean thought.”

Pressing on, Mr. Woodward asked Mr. Gore how much Americans would know if the former VP had written a memoir.

“Two percent,” said Mr. Gore, causing Mr. Woodward’s icky meter to implode.

There is some reportage in Mr. Mann’s account so far that will cause some eyebrows to arch. One includes an incident involving Mr. Malloy and Speaker of the House Chris Donovan. Mr. Donovan threatened to upset Mr. Malloy’s best laid budget plans by altering an understood arrangement concluded between the Malloy administration and the Democrat dominated legislature. The Malloy administration was operating on the assumption that it had a free hand to insist on further spending cuts should its deal with the unions fall apart, at which point a call came in from “Brendan Sharkey, the House majority leader, with a distressing message relayed from Chris Donovan himself.”

The House leadership, by which we are to understand Donovan, was now proposing “they tweak the language of the agreement. They want the budget bill to say that all its contents -- all those tax hikes, all the spending reductions -- are contingent on a deal with the unions,” a politically unpalatable move on the part of Mr. Donovan, who appears in Mr. Mann’s piece as a fervent pro-union politician, in opposition to Mr. Malloy, an uber-democrat who invariably has the best interests of Connecticut in mind.

In news accounts at the time, Mr. Donovan took great care to suggest that his role in the Malloy-SEBAC struggle was minimal and without consequence. Apparently, this was not true in the retelling. SEBAC is the State Employees Bargaining Agents Coalition authorized to represent unions in contractual arrangements.

Two of the malloyalists are stunned that Donovan seems incapable of understanding the political implications of the tweek. One malloyalist tells Mr. Donovan, “In my view, that is the worst-case nightmare of what it means to have Democratic government. The one thing we absolutely have to avoid, because we'll get ridden out of town on a rail, is turning over control of the budget to the state employee unions."

Mr. Donovan, now running for the U.S. House in the 5th District, very likely will be endorsed by the astonished malloyalists. They’ve had the use of him as a union foil, and in a few months the Speaker’s undemocratic attempt to thwart both the legislature and the governor will be discreetly forgotten by all except, one hopes, Mr. Malloy’s Boswell, Mr. Mann.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Just as in the modern world the opposite of “bankruptcy” is “bailout," so the opposite of “democracy” is not "dictatorship" but “technoautocracy.”

During the great financial blow-out that occurred at the end of the Bush regime, continuing into the Obama years, while the U.S. Congress was debating whether or not to bail out too big to fail banks with a $700 billion blank check, financial technocrats were slipping $7.7 trillion to Wall Street under the table. Since none of the technocrats were elected to office, none of them had to worry overmuch about angry constituents, and no explanations were forthcoming – or even necessary.

In 2009, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg news, members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, unelected technoautocrats authorized to dictate monetary policy in the United States, passed along to Wall Street’s biggest players $7.7 trillon in no-strings-attached, super low interest loans.

In a stunning commentary, Tom Hartman notes:

“Six of the nation's biggest banks - like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - pocketed a not-too-shabby $13 billion in undisclosed profits, thanks to the deal with the Technocrats at the Fed. So today - thanks to a decision made by technocrats - and not politicians - the too-big-to-fail banks are even bigger - and Wall Street has raked in more profits in just the last 30 months - then they did in the entire 8 years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.”

Ross Dothat, another commentator, notes that technoautorcracy is in the process of being internationalized:

"For the inhabitants of Italy and Greece, who have just watched democratically elected governments toppled by pressure from financiers, European Union bureaucrats, and foreign heads of state, it evokes the cold reality of 21st-century politics. Democracy may be nice in theory, but in a time of crisis it's the technocrats who really get to call the shots. National sovereignty is a pretty concept, but the survival of the European common currency comes first."


According to a later Reuter’s report, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has disputed the $7.7 trillion figure.

“Mr. Bernanke has written to lawnmakers "that the figure and other estimates of larger total amounts of lending, were ‘wildly inaccurate.’ On any given day, Fed credit from its emergency liquidity programs was never more than about $1.5 trillion, he said.

"’These articles ... have contained a variety of egregious errors and mistakes,’ Bernanke told the chairmen of the U.S. Senate Banking and House of Representatives Financial Services committees."

Bloomberg stands by its initial story

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inside Crony Capitalism

Wall Street, or at least that portion of it that writes editorials for the Wall Street Journal, is not, members of “Occupy Wall Street” may be happy to learn, on friendly terms with greedy Crony Capitalists.

The Crony Capitalist is the politically connected “entrepreneur” who finances risky ventures with taxpayer’s money so that, when the venture goes belly-up, the risks will be borne by taxpayers rather than private investors. When and if the company succeeds, of course, the profits will flow their way. It’s a win-win situation for crony capitalists because its financier is Uncle Sam.

The “bank” that supplies Crony Capitalists with their ill-gotten investment funds is the U.S. government, which also happens to be the national tax-collector-in-chief. Lord Acton, who said that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” should have lived to see the day that Solyndra, the green energy company that was given a half billion dollars in tax money, went belly-up.

Following Solyndra’s inevitable crack-up, the handful of congressmen interested in bridling run-away spending had an opportunity to take a gander at e-mails flowing back and forth between officials in President Barack Obama’s administration and the spendthrifts in Solyndra, and they do not paint a pretty picture. The crack-up was inevitable because the cost to produce Solyndra’s product, solar panels, exceeded the price Solyndra was charging for their product. This way lies ruin, as any 12-year-old lemonade stand vendor would have been able to advise the “investors” in Mr. Obama’s administration.

In April 2010, a month after PriceWaterhouseCoopers raised a red flag concerning Solyndra’s solvency, a staffer in the White House Office of Management and Budget telegraphed his fears. The Department of Energy (DOE), he wrote, “has one loan to monitor and they seem completely oblivious." Another red flag waver said it was “terrifying" to consider that some of DOE's next projects would make Solyndra look "better, according to the WSJ report. Rumbles were heard among Mr. Obama’s insiders as well. Venture capitalist and Obama donor Steve Westly, communicating with White House Aide Valerie Jarret in May, said “many of us believe the company's cost structure will make it difficult for them to survive long term." She wrote to Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, who touched base with the DOE. An official there relayed the calming message, “We believe the company is okay in the medium term, but will need some help of one kind or another down the road."

The back and forth between Mr. Klain and Ms. Jarret is wonderfully obtuse. Far from launching a serious preview of Solyndra’s viability, Mr. Klain advised Ms. Jarrett that he supported a pending visit of the president to Solyndra even though there were “risk factors” involved. “It looks like it’s OK to me,” Mr. Klain wrote Ms. Jarrett, “but if you feel otherwise, let me know.” Ms. Jarrett did not feel otherwise, and she let Mr. Klain know, “I’m comfortable if you're comfortable," to which Mr. Klain responded, “The reality is that if POTUS (the President of the United States) visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012—but that to me is the reality of saying that we want to help promote cutting edge, new economy industries."

Obama administration officials may have wrongly supposed that even this crisis need not have gone to waste. Republicans in the coming election will make full use in their campaign advertising of the visit the president and vice president made to Solyndra, as well as clips taken from testimony before the U.S. congress in which failed Solyndra mucky-mucks are shown rather stiffly asserting their right under the constitution not to disclose to congress information that may incriminate them. A house hearing on the issue may provide other juicy tidbits.

Crony Capitalism lies at the root of the Solyndra scandal, curled around the base of the Obama administration like a serpent coiled around a tempting apple tree.

State houses, it should be noted, are also prone to the allure of Crony Capitalists. Solyndra was a green feather in Mr. Obama’s campaign cap, and the company never minded renting taxpayer resources to cover its economic failings. Governors elsewhere have yielded to similar temptations to boost their popularity. The way up is always exhilarating just before the fall.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Sinkhole State

In any tousle between business and government, business usually has the last word, and more often than not the word is, “We’re outta here.”

Sikorsky Aircraft, a Connecticut company of long standing, has initiated two rounds of job cuts.

Early in 2010, Sikorsky President Jeff Pino, “under marching orders to raise the division's profits,” according to a news story, boasted to stock analysts, “We've nearly tripled the amount of direct production labor hours from 2006 to 2009. And for the first time in the history of our company, more than half of our hours are outside of Connecticut. We're very proud of that because outside of Connecticut, as I told you last year, by definition is low-cost sourcing."

Having met his goal of a 10 percent profit margin in 2010, Pino presently is aiming for 14 percent by 2014.

Playing its strategy close to its vests, company officials declined to share details of the cost saving cuts with Connecticut’s Democratic congressional delegation. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, for instance, was not apprised of the details of the earlier September cuts, which included the elimination of 567 positions, 419 of which were in Connecticut. In the first round, 384 hourly members of the Teamsters union were let go.

In the current round, the company hopes to reach its goal of about 525 workers. No details of the cuts were shared with Mrs. DeLauro.

The company may be suffering from post-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal syndrome. Before he hopped to the U.S. Senate from his suit stained position as attorney general, Mr. Blumenthal intervened on behalf of union workers at Pratt&Whitney, a company that like Sikorsky operates under the aegis of United Technology (UTC), successfully if temporarily averting layoffs. Unfortunately for Mr. Blumenthal and workers in the vast beehive of United Technology, cost savings lost in one UTC company is often recovered in another.

Of UTC’s 205,000 global employees, 26,000 work in Connecticut, the majority of them at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Hamilton Sundstrand. Employees at Pratt & Whitney have diminished over the past two decades from 15,000 to 3,700.

Mr. Pino is not alone in thinking that Connecticut is a forbidding place in which to do business. Last February, while speaking at a Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, CEO of Aetna Mark Bertolini told the group, “We've done the analysis, and, quite frankly, Connecticut falls very, very low on the list as an environment to locate employees . . . in large part because of the tax structure, the cost of living, which is now approaching, all in, the cost of locating an employee in New York City.”

Rising above critics of his administration, Governor Dannel Malloy was last Thursday, according to a press release, “a featured panelist at the Bloomberg Hedge Funds Summit, where he will speak about his efforts to generate growth in the state’s financial services industry and attract new businesses and jobs to the state”– this barely week after the non-partisan Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) tagged Connecticut as a “sinkhole state,” one of the five worst states in the nation:

“It is one of five states in the worst financial position in the country. According to research conducted by IFTA, while Connecticut has $29.4 billion worth of assets, only $10.1 billion are available to pay $63.4 billion of bills as they come due. IFTA's research also indicates each taxpayer's financial burden is $41,200.”

Mr. Malloy, the architect of the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history, which included a painful income tax hike retroactive to January, has done very little to control spending, Connecticut’s most pressing problem. And even some of the governor’s putative “savings” have been costly. The state will realize virtually no savings from a budget item requiring state workers to accept a provision requiring medical exams. Workers who declined the states’ offer were to pay a penalty fee that appeared in the budget ledger as a savings. But -- big surprise! – fully 90 percent of the state workforce chose to participate in the plan, and the projected saving vanished. The Office of Fiscal Analysis continues to insist, ad infinitum, that it cannot assess savings components of the budget approved last May. The office has been advising the administration and the Democratic controlled legislature since May that lacks the requisite information to confirm that a union concession deal concocted between the Malloy administration and SEBAC officials will provide nearly $2 billion in savings over two years.

One needn’t wonder whether Mr. Malloy will make use of such data in any of his future reports to business leaders. It hardly matters. Real job producers and business entrepreneurs have already read the signs of the times. Expected cuts in defense contracts, the continuing temptation on the part of left of center legislators to increase taxes on entrepreneurial capital, the possible crack-up of the Eurozone, the increase in crippling regulations authored by former senator – now Hollywood mogul -- Chris Dodd and soon to be former U.S. House Rep. Barney Frank, the continuing housing market blow-out midwifed by the same two culprits, the never-ending bailouts of companies not permitted to go bankrupt … all this and more will punch massive holes in state and federal budgets, at which point some Greece-like states, "sinkhole states," will have no choice but to slash spending – because no one will be able to afford tax increases.

We’ve been there, done that. And we’re still broke.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Frank Throws InThe Towel

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s announcement that he will not be seeking reelection follows the signing by Governor Deval Patrick of a law creating new state congressional districts in Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe.

In past elections, Frank has depended upon votes in his hometown of Newton and also the Democratic strongholds of Fall River and New Bedford. Redistricting deprived him of New Bedford, while the conservative towns added to the reconfigured district west and south of Boston and in Bristol and Norfolk counties would have proved difficult for him.

Additionally, Frank lost status when Republicans regained control of the U.S. House.

Frank is best known for the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that heavily regulates business at a time when the nation is shedding jobs. Co-author of the bill, former U.S Senator Chris Dodd recently packed it in and, having pledged never to become a lobbyist, took a position as a lobbyist for the motion picture industry.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Everything

According to a recent news report, the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has moved its operations from Wall Street, chock full of greedy financers, to Main Street, chock full of greedy merchants. This is encouraging and depressing; encouraging because the protestors have recognized a vital connection between Wall Street and Main Street, and depressing because the connection is misconstrued.

The OWS movement has refocused its ire on publically traded retailers, according to a Stop Black Friday website: "The idea is simple, hit the corporations that corrupt and control American politics where it hurts, their profits.”

Among the companies to be boycotted are:

“Abercrombie & Fitch [ANF 44.88 -0.79 (-1.73%)] - (yes, we have to stay away from Amazon, too!) [AMZN 188.99 -3.35 (-1.74%) - AT&T Wireless [ATT 27.21 0.17 (+0.63%) - Burlington Coat Factory - Dick's Sporting Goods (I was surprised, too!) [DSG-FF 27.745 -0.76 (-2.67%) - Dollar Tree [DLTR 76.61 -0.48 (-0.62%) - The Home Depot [HD 36.52 -0.58 (-1.56%) - Neiman Marcus - OfficeMax [OMX 4.25 -0.24 (-5.35%) - Toys R'Us [JPM 28.38 -1.03 (-3.5%) - Verizon Wireless [VZN 95.50 --- UNCH (0) - Wal-Mart [WMT 56.64 -0.21 (-0.37%)]”

The listing is necessarily partial. A full listing of companies that trade on the stock exchange would include, sadly, Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream makers who sold out more than a decade ago to mega-giant Unilever. The franchise owners were concerned at the time that “the new owner would preserve the unusual aspects of Ben & Jerry's, particularly its commitment to social causes like helping the homeless and conserving the environment. Unilever maintains on its Web site that it is working to preserve clean water resources and is involved with other issues,” according to a story in the New York Times.

Slate Magazine, usually not chummy with greedy Wall Street trade traders, slammed the deal at the time as a sellout:

“It's easy to imagine that, if we could transport this deal back in time 10 years, it would have been frankly labeled a sellout, in the most pejorative sense of the term. Just a few days ago becoming a part of Unilever seemed like a distasteful option, as company co-founder Ben Cohen attempted to cobble together a counter-deal involving ‘socially responsible’ investors.”

In analyzing why “pretty much no one is going to accuse Ben & Jerry's of selling out,” the magazine hit the proverbial nail on the head:

“What has changed in the last 10 years to make such an accusation so unlikely to stick? The critical change is the evolution of the idea of ‘shareholder rights’ as something that now has an almost populist connotation. After all, a huge percentage of the kinds of people who care about "social responsibility" now own stocks. And while ‘social responsibility’ is kind of a murky term, ‘shareholder rights’ not only sounds virtuous, but is very easy to understand: You, the shareholder, have a right to see your shares go up.”

We are all shareholders now – including OWS protestors attending colleges that invest funds in publically traded companies.

Three years ago, Jon Meacham wrote an essay for Newsweek provocatively titled “We Are All Socialists Now.”  Mr. Meacham’s liberal credentials are unimpeachable. He is the former editor of Newsweek and co-anchor of PBS's new TV and web newsmagazine Need to Know. His best-selling biography, American Lion, about Andrew Jackson, was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. President Jackson is the father of the modern Democratic Party whose fulminations against large banking systems more than match those of the protesting OWSs.

The central point of Mr. Meacham’s piece is that the United States has already passed over the bar:

“The U.S. government has already—under a conservative Republican administration—effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries. That seems a stronger sign of socialism than $50 million for art. Whether we want to admit it or not—and many, especially Congressman Pence and Hannity, do not—the America of 2009 is moving toward a modern European state... A decade ago U.S. government spending was 34.3 percent of GDP, compared with 48.2 percent in the euro zone—a roughly 14-point gap, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2010 U.S. spending is expected to be 39.9 percent of GDP, compared with 47.1 percent in the euro zone—a gap of less than 8 points. As entitlement spending rises over the next decade, we will become even more French… The architect of this new era of big government? History has a sense of humor, for the man who laid the foundations for the world Obama now rules is George W. Bush, who moved to bail out the financial sector last autumn with $700 billion.”

Welcome to the Eurozone. Not only is the OWS movement boycotting with a too broad brush, it is painting the wrong wall.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Father Dick

Ages ago, long before it was considered proper to call priests by their first names and when honorifics were on every child’s tongue, we called father Richard Bollea “Dick,” for he was a member of the family who, at an early age and listening to the whisper in the whirlwind, heard the call to the priesthood.

By the 1950’s, it had been common for more than century for males in a family to become priests. The families that gave their children to the church usually were large. Just before the Civil War, the Mother Superior of a convent in Boston who had faced down a mob that threaten to burn down the papists convent was a member of a large family. In a second round of anti-Catholic violence, after the nun had told the now whiskey fortified mob to “disburse immediately or the bishop of Boston,” who had the requisite forces at his command, “will push you into the sea,” the drunken mob did burn and sack the convent. They had been incited by Lyman Beecher, the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” a powerful Unitarian preacher who had delivered an impassioned sermon to the then sober protestants of Boston, ever aflame with ineradicable anti-Catholic prejudices, the oldest in the country, according to historian Arthur Schlesinger.

This fierce and poisonous prejudice, locked into the DNA of the nation -- in the revolutionary period, the hoi polloi of Boston regularly celebrated “pope’s day,” during which an effigy of the pope was paraded through the streets and pelted by celebrants -- had long since abated by the time Dick was shipped off to Paris, where he studied.

He was admitted to the priesthood in 1962 and, when we next saw him, bore a new honorific before his last name, Father Bollea, a title that seemed a bit cumbersome to members of his family and his closest friends. My brother Jim had married Dick’s sister, and so his friends and his now extended family called him “Father Dick,” reserving honorifics – mister, miss, missus and, in the case of nuns, sister – for everyone else at a time when even town drunks were crowned by children with their proper proletarian titles.

Father Dick’s last priestly assignment was as chaplin in Waterbury Hospital and Coordinator of the Hospital Apostolate for the Archdiocese of Hartford, where he consoled the sick and dying for many years. God, who does work in mysterious ways, had deposited my wife and me in Malta on the day Father Dick died. Owing to the fierce storm that ravaged Connecticut, in combination with my own stupidity – I had left behind my cell phone battery charger – we learned of his death only on our return a few days later. On the day Father Dick’s painful death, my wife and I had entered Saint John’s splendidly appointed 17th century baroque style co-cathedral in Valetta, Malta, a church richly adorned by the Knights of Saint John of Malta, first hospitalists and later fierce warriors. The church was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John.

From the Middle Ages to the present day, Malta had been recognized as Europe’s hospital. In the dark days of the Second World War, it’s world renowned hospital received and cared for allied troops crushed in the fierce gears of the bloodiest of centuries. And so it seemed appropriate, entering this cathedral, to offer a prayer and light a candle to Father Dick who, while far less favorably situated than the wealthy knights, was never-the-less engaged in the same good works.

The beauty of the cathedral was overpowering. Everywhere were gilded walls, magnificent paintings and statues of one or another Knight of Malta. The tombs in the floor where many of the knights were buried were decorated with wondrous hand crafted marble tiles that put before the viewer each knight’s narrative.

But all the splendor of the cathedral was dwarfed, even in the days of the Knights of Malta, by the small and modest Byzantine icon of the Blessed Virgin, The Philermos Madonna, said to have been written by St. Luke and housed in Malta from 1530 to 1798. It was in memory of this less resplendent holy icon that we lit a candle in the co-cathedral of the hospitaliers and said a prayer that She who receives the petitions of the poor banished children of Eve might show tenderness to a man and priest who had dedicated the last years of his life to the poor and suffering.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Perfectly Named Republican Candidate (Almost)


Steve Obstinate is running in the 4th Congressional District.

OK, I jest.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Malloy’s Business Model

The road taken by Governor Dannel Malloy in providing specific businesses with disappearing tax breaks and other temporary business incentives is not the road less taken. Most recently, President Barack Obama provided Solyndra with millions in tax dollars because Mr. Obama wished to encourage the production of green energy. The problem was that the product made by Solyndra was underpriced – the sale price of Solyndra’s solar panels was less than the cost of production -- and it is only a slight exaggeration to say that company bigwigs, after successfully pressing the administration hard multiple times for tax subsidies, took the money and ran.

The Solyndra drama is still unfolding. Called to testify before a congressional committee, the top dogs at the bankrupt company took the fifth, and not because they feared they might in their testimony betray their company’s trade secrets. The captains of this industry were trying to avoid jail time.

The practice of enticing a company to produce a product by showering it with temporary tax reductions does not always lead ineluctably to jail house doors. Not all executives who accept tax dollars from presidents and governors are crooks and flimflam artists. Some are businessmen loathed to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Targeted tax credits, low interest loans and the like cannot be a magnet for all companies. If Mr. Malloy were to give a tax credit to every company in Connecticut, as well as companies considering moving into the state, his tax credits would be tax reductions; and tax reductions, most especially permanent tax reductions, would both attract businesses to the state and serve as a retaining wall for those businesses in Connecticut seeking a kinder and gentler entrepreneurial environment elsewhere.

Permanent tax reductions, however, are the bane of heroic politicians. Tax reductions produce red ink in the short run, the only run most politicians on the make are interested in. And, worst of all, the way to black, after a politician has cut taxes, requires painful spending cuts. Once cut, a tax is difficult to resurrect. Tax credits and other devises purporting to encourage business growth are more easily revoked. When the state of Connecticut decided during the administration of former Governor Lowell Weicker to institute an income tax two decades ago, it set its foot irrevocably on a spending path it has trodden ever since. Off in the hinterland, other companies, observing the drift of the state over many years, maintained a discreet distance. Within the state, companies that could move to greener pastures elsewhere did so, and prosperity has been frozen to the spot for twenty years.

Like Mr. Weicker, Mr. Malloy’s first act on becoming governor was to institute the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history, more wounding than Mr. Weicker’s income tax because Mr. Malloy’s tax increases were added to Mr. Weicker’s, at the time the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history. Mr. Malloy’s multiple tax increases considerably broadened the tax base.

Signing his jobs program recently in the company of Republicans leaders who previously had been ejected from the room while Mr. Malloy negotiated with unions, the governor boasted, "How often to you see this happening in Washington? Putting people back to work and making Connecticut more business-friendly aren't goals owned by any one party and they aren't owned by any one branch of government."

Goals are all fine and good, but there are some Republicans who continue to insist that Mr. Malloy’s policies will not move Connecticut toward a desirable and effective goal line. Much of the cost savings Mr. Malloy threatened to apply to unions in his Plan B budget never made it out of the gate. Some applied cost reductions were rescinded after union members were bludgeoned by the leaders of SEBAC to accept a slightly revised Plan A, and the cost savings option most welcomed by Republican leaders in Mr. Malloy’s jobs creation package is the formation of a study group to examine ways in which the state may save money – another one of those.

Mr. Malloy’s tax increases are real, permanent and deep, while much of his cost savings measures are theoretical, temporary and highly attenuated.

A business writer for a state-wide paper who cannot be accused of conservative rhetorical thuggery described Mr. Malloy’s jobs creation program this way: “On Wednesday night the state legislature committed a walloping $626 million on basically the kitchen sink of jobs programs. If it might work, it's in there: farm restoration, outright corporate greenmail, loans for dry cleaners, cash for manufacturers to train workers, a massive boost for tech investment, bribes for companies to hire unemployed people, airport development zones, expanded film tax credits and much, much more.”

The chief problem with top down, government inspired stimulus programs aimed at creating jobs for businesses is “that we can't create demand for their goods and services. And that, more than money, more than trained workers, more than slashing red tape, is what they need.”

Got that right.

The Occupy Everything Front: Tea Party vs. OWS

From the Daily Cardinal, a University of Wisconsin paper:

“A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.

“In addition, officials agreed further occupation should not be allowed to continue without restrooms on site to avoid further public health violations.

"’You can't be affecting the safety and health of other people around you,’ Madison Fire Prevention Officer Jerry McMullen said. ‘With the public health violations and the complaints I've heard, I don't believe it meets the spirit of the ordinance to a street use permit.’"
In Manchester, New Hampshire, the Union Leader reports:

“A city woman is accused of pimping a 16-year-old girl she met in Victory Park during the Occupy NH demonstrations.”

Hardy protestors in Providence Rhode Island preparing to confront an early winter storm look to George Washington for inspiration, the Associated Press reports:

"’Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment,’ said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. ‘Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast.’"
However, winters are neither kinder nor gentler than most police:

“But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent: In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that brought several inches of snow.”

And in New York, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, the Daily News reports:

“Fights are erupting among Occupy Wall Street protesters, so much so that one corner of Zuccotti Park has emerged where protesters say they won't go for fear of their safety.”

A millionaire siting had been reported by the San Francisco Chronicle at the Occupy Oakland site:

“As Mayor Jean Quan finished fielding reporters’ questions Friday afternoon at City Hall about the clash between police and protesters earlier this week, she was suddenly drowned out by cheering coming from Frank Ogawa Plaza for Occupy Oakland’s newest celebrity guest: documentarian and political activist Michael Moore.”

While anecdotal comparisons have been made between the Tea Party movement and the anti-capitalist OWS, no reports on the Tea party movement have featured frequent fights, pimping opportunities, masturbation or millionaire anti-capitalist Palm D’Or recipient documentarians. Tea Party folk do not erect tents or stroke erections in public. It is always well to note points of difference when one makes comparisons.

The Occupy Everything Front: Tea Party vs. OWS

From the Daily Cardinal, a University of Wisconsin paper:

“A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.

“In addition, officials agreed further occupation should not be allowed to continue without restrooms on site to avoid further public health violations.

"’You can't be affecting the safety and health of other people around you,’ Madison Fire Prevention Officer Jerry McMullen said. ‘With the public health violations and the complaints I've heard, I don't believe it meets the spirit of the ordinance to a street use permit.’"
In Manchester, New Hampshire, the Union Leader reports:

“A city woman is accused of pimping a 16-year-old girl she met in Victory Park during the Occupy NH demonstrations.”

Hardy protestors in Providence Rhode Island preparing to confront an early winter storm look to George Washington for inspiration, the Associated Press reports:

"’Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment,’ said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. ‘Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast.’"
However, winters are neither kinder nor gentler than most police:

“But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent: In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that brought several inches of snow.”

And in New York, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, the Daily News reports:

“Fights are erupting among Occupy Wall Street protesters, so much so that one corner of Zuccotti Park has emerged where protesters say they won't go for fear of their safety.”

A millionaire siting had been reported by the San Francisco Chronicle at the Occupy Oakland site:

“As Mayor Jean Quan finished fielding reporters’ questions Friday afternoon at City Hall about the clash between police and protesters earlier this week, she was suddenly drowned out by cheering coming from Frank Ogawa Plaza for Occupy Oakland’s newest celebrity guest: documentarian and political activist Michael Moore.”

While anecdotal comparisons have been made between the Tea Party movement and the anti-capitalist OWS, no reports on the Tea party movement thus far have featured frequent fights, pimping opportunities, masturbation or millionaire anti-capitalist Palm D’Or recipient documentarians. Tea Party folk do not erect tents or stroke erections. It is always well to note points of difference when one makes comparisons.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Pig, Another Poke

Duane Billington, a retired engineering technician and civic activist from Naples, “fought for 18 months against Jackson Laboratory's plan to expand in Florida,” according to a story in the Hartford Courant.”

Ultimately Mr. Billington was successful. Jackson Laboratory pulled up their negotiating stakes in Florida.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief of staff, Roy Occhiogrosso, read about the failed attempt to pitch the deal to Florida in a newspaper, evidentially shared the information with his boss, and a contingent from Connecticut was sent to Bar Harbor Maine to negotiate a deal with Jackson Laboratory administrators. The Courant story does not mention the names of members of the Connecticut contingent sent to negotiate with Jackson. The deal apparently was consummated and a letter of intent was signed between the parties.

When two members of the General Assembly, Senator Len Suzio and Senate Republican leader Leonard Fasano, asked to see the memorandum of understanding between the state and Jackson, they were sternly rebuffed. Malloy officials asserted the documents contained trade secrets that could not be disclosed to members of the General Assembly who would be asked to provide funding for the deal. The same claim was made in Florida, an overreach that some say soured the state on the deal.

Suzio has scoffed at the transparent dodge.

“I've got a business guy here who fell off his chair laughing,'' Suzio said of a colleague's reaction about trade secrets. “Why would there be any confidential information in a letter of intent? We're not asking for the disclosure of secret formulas. It's laughable.''

Many of Suzio’s questions were bridges too far; Mr. Malloy’s aggressive administration very early acquired the habit of pushing things through with minor participation on the part of the people’s representatives. Republicans in the General Assembly were simply pushed out of the way during budget negotiations.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Malloy administration has to some extent been trying to sell the Democratic dominated General Assembly a pig in a poke. The Malloy-Jackson deal, according to the Courant story, “is scheduled to come to a vote Wednesday in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Malloy is calling for the state to borrow $291 million to construct a new building on 17 acres of state-owned land at the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington and provide $99 million in research money for Jackson. The nonprofit institute is pledging to create 300 jobs within 10 years and 600 jobs within 20 years, making it slightly larger than the Florida plan in jobs and state subsidies.”

Mr. Billington certainly is not shy of reporters.

"They couldn't find a home here in Collier County or Sarasota because they don't have a product to deliver,'' Mr. Billington told a reporter. “Their business is to produce genetically altered mice for other scientists to study and use in experiments. This thing they're going into is a totally new deal for them. They have no expertise. It's an exercise in venture capitalism. It could work, and it might not.''

Jackson Laboratory has had success in genetically altering mice sold to prospective buyers in other research facilities. The Connecticut operation would break new and untested ground for Jackson, which now is seeking to move into an entirely different field, that of genomic medicine, the study of genes and genetic interactions that, according to a 26-page brochure that was distributed to Connecticut legislators, are "essential to creating new medicines and treatments for some of humankind's worst diseases and conditions.''

Mr. Billington told the Courant reporter, “We're glad to be rid of them. I feel bad for the state of Connecticut if you all have politicians who are swallowing the Jackson line hook, line and sinker.”

This is the second time the Malloy administration has asked the Democratic dominated General Assembly to swallow an unpalatable deal. Asked to vote on a budget the details of which had not been finalized in negotiations between Malloy administration officials and SEBAC, a union coalition authorized to negotiate contracts, Democratic leaders in the General Assembly persuaded their caucus to vote in favor of an unfinished budget. The leaders of the Democratic caucus, President of the Senate Don Williams and Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, apparently like the taste of hooks and lines and sinkers.

Mr. Donovan, SEBAC’s best friend in the legislature, is running for the U .S. Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District.

Since the Malloy administration enjoys an insuperable majority in the General Assembly, it does not need Republican votes to pass measures the details of which have not been adequately ventilated in public. Calls on the part of Republicans to put off the vote Wednesday until the pig in the poke – minus the trade secrets, which always may be redacted in publically disclosed documents – has been put on public view and debated fully by the General Assembly will no doubt be ignored by the Malloy administration. And the deal will go down on Wednesday, possibly with the concurrence of some Republicans in the General Assembly who have acquired a taste for hooks, lines and sinkers.

All the “buts” will not arrive until much later.

Mike Hyde, Jackson’s Vice President and fund raiser, no longer concerns himself with Mr. Billington's criticisms. "I'm delighted to be in Connecticut,” he has said. “It's a great state. I really don't have any hard feelings about what happened in Florida. This is here. This is now.”

Florida rejected Jackson’s best offer because the state is flat on its back and broke, unlike Connecticut. For now, at least, the state is flush in quickly disappearing funds owing mostly to the largest tax increase in its history imposed upon it by its “shared sacrifice” governor. This is here. This is now.

And the future? Let the future eat cake.