Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Connecticut’s Politicians And Their Gambling Hormones

Republican leader John McKinney, very much alone, has decided that Connecticut should oppose a ruling by a U.S. Justice Department functionary to open the doors of the Republic’s 50 states to internet gambling.

On the question of internet gambling, Governor Dannel Malloy has already folded – pun intended. Mr. Malloy has said that internet gambling is at least as inevitable as death and taxes. The enabling ruling revises an earlier understanding that internet gambling should not be permitted, while at the same time holding out to states the promise of a hefty return in new tax revenue.

Appearing on The Talk of Connecticut with Brad Davis, Mr. McKinney said in so many words that the expansion of gambling and its attendant taxes ought to be firmly resisted.

In his effort to re-define Connecticut, Mr. Malloy has mounted soap boxes all across the state in vigorous attempts, largely successful, to push forward his tax and spending agenda for Connecticut. Mr. Malloy instituted the largest tax increase in Connecticut history. Only the proverbial man from Mars could believe that spending increases will not follow, one might say inevitably, in the wake of such tax increases.

This re-invention business is no easy task; neither is it cheap. On the question of opening his state to internet gambling -- and coincidentally to an additional revenue stream much needed by Mr. Malloy to produce surpluses necessary for pushing the state forward on the governor’s predetermined path – Mr. Malloy has become unaccountably camera shy and powerless. He has not mounted a single soapbox in the state to inveigh against internet gambling. He had not publicly instructed by letter the members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional delegation, all Democrats sitting in the same ideological pew as the governor, to attempt an legislative assault on the interpretation of a Justice Department functionary. Neither has he asked Attorney General George Jepsen to resist that ruling in federal courts.

The governor finds himself in good company. The editorial board of the Hartford Courant has agreed with the governor that internet gambling is inevitable. When good men do nothing, inevitability happens. U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal who as attorney general once strenuously opposed internet gambling for all the right reasons suddenly finds himself suffering from moral anemia.

Only four years ago, Mr. Blumenthal flexed his considerable muscles as attorney general when New York state decided to open a horse race betting parlor on the internet, writing indignantly to the New York gaming Commission in one of his morally infused letters:“An out-of-state entity taking Internet wagers from Connecticut also violates the federal Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978, which says, ‘the states should have the primary responsibility for determining what forms of gambling may legally take place within their borders.’"

Huffing and puffing, Mr. Blumenthal continued: "The New York tracks cannot trample our vital rights to prohibit Internet gambling - luring children and compulsive gamblers. Internet gambling is fraught with insidious pitfalls - particularly for children - which is exactly why Connecticut prohibits it. I am hopeful that New York officials cooperate and respect federal and state law. My office will continue to work closely with the Division of Special Revenue to enforce Connecticut gambling laws."

“States… primary responsibility…” Huh? Internet gambling “luring children and compulsive gamblers… fraught with insidious pitfalls…” Come again?

Attorney General Blumenthal used to operate as a one-man temperance league. Now, as U.S. Senator representing a state that’s stone broke from overspending and desperately in need of additional tax resources – even if the resources are filched from helpless children and desperate people unable to master their gambling addictions – internet gambling seems to him a rare inevitability; it will, after all, supply Connecticut with additional tax dollars Mr. Malloy may then dispense to those less fortunate than Mr. Blumenthal or U.S. Reps Jim Himes and Rosa DeLauro, millionaire members in good standing of the one percent club in Washington’s Beltway.

“We've got more than enough state-sanctioned opportunities for people to lose money,” another Courant commentator wrote, “but Malloy is probably right when he says that outlook is irrelevant now that the federal Department of Justice has given the OK to turning computers and mobile devices into virtual casinos. It's hideous, but that won't stop it from coming to your local Internet connection.”

The Malloy administration seems fully prepared to save Connecticut citizens from the hideous effects of the hideous practice it will allow, perhaps by instituting yet another administrative department to bind up the wounds it has caused by abjectly surrendering to the inevitable. This work of salvation, one may be sure, will be costly.

Given the scraping and bowing of Connecticut’s moral epigones before a practice they regard as “hideous,” perhaps Mr. McKinney might consider engaging the services of Bob Englehart of the Courant to produce the following cartoon:

A bordello, above which hangs a shabby but insistent sign -- “Raging Hormone Bordello And Internet Betting Parlor.” Seen through the window, a flimsily dressed, fetching creature wearing a banner that reads, “Place your bets here.” On the street milling in front of the bordello, a crowd of people that includes Mr. Malloy, Mr. Blumenthal and Connecticut’s Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation, all singing the following tune shown in large bubble: “We can’t help our raging hormones. We are only human.”

Such a cartoon would make more sense than the next dozen of the state’s commentaries yielding abjectly to an inevitability that will increase state revenue at a time when some politicians have begun to understand that there must be a ceiling to profligate spending.

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