Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Murder, Another "So What?"

State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz released the statement below following the arrest of Kezlyn Mendez on a charge of murder. It all sounds vaguely familiar and parallels closely a murder in Meriden, an account of which may be found by clicking on the link provided here.

State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz is appealing once again to the Governor’s Office and the Commissioner of the Department of Correction to immediately suspend the risk reduction earned credit program. “The Office of the Victim Advocate has learned that the defendant arrested for the tragic murder of Luthfur Tarafdar in East Hartford, CT had a lengthy criminal history of violence, unsuccessful probation terms and has been identified by the Department of Correction as an inmate that was released early as a result of the risk reduction earned credit program,”stated Cruz. “This is another case that highlights the need to immediately suspend the risk reduction earned credit program (RREC) until the program can be adequately evaluated to address issues, including the awarding of RREC and compliance with inmates’ offender accountability plans, as well as to ensure that appropriate supervision measures are in place to monitor the masses being released into our communities.”

“At this point, this is about more than the RREC; this is about the manner in which the criminal justice system is responding to repeat violent offenders and those who habitually violate probation,” said Cruz. “Kezlynn Mendez, also known as Willie Batts, had a lengthy criminal history and was charged with violating probation twice, yet still, he was not held accountable for his criminal behavior,” added Cruz.

Kezlynn Mendez was convicted of Robbery 2nd and Assault 3rd on January 18, 2006. He was sentenced to 10 years, suspended after 4 years and 5 years probation. In July of 2010, in addition to new criminal cases, he was arrested and charged with violation of probation. He later admitted to violating probation and was sentenced to 6 years, suspended after 1 year; 2 years probation. He again was arrested for new criminal charges and again charged with violating probation on December 6, 2011. Less than 3 months before his release from the Department of Correction, he admitted to violating that probation and was sentenced to 5 years, suspended after 4 months; 18 months probation. In addition to that 4 month sentence, he received a 30 day sentence for Reckless Driving and a 3 month sentence for Threatening. It is unclear why this defendant’s sentences are reduced as his behavior escalates.

“This defendant has demonstrated his inability to comply with probation as well as his propensity to commit crime. He should have been identified as a high risk offender. How many more innocent people will be victimized before this program’s faults will be addressed?” pleaded Cruz.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

McMahon Slouching Towards Bethlehem

In its first survey of “likely voters,” a Quinnipiac poll shows Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate making inroads upon Chris Murphy, the Democratic U.S. Representative who this year is hoping to fill U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman’s Independent shoes:
“In today's survey, McMahon's 54 - 42 percent lead among men swamps Murphy's small 50 - 46 percent lead among women. McMahon leads 88 - 10 percent among Republicans and 55 - 40 percent among independent voters, while Murphy takes Democrats 82 - 16 percent.”

Mrs. McMahon has always drawn a strong male vote. Having learned important lessons from her loss to now Senator Richard Blumenthal, Mrs. McMahon this time at bat made a vigorous effort to capture women’s votes, and her 15 point lead over Mr. Murphy among Independents must be encouraging to her campaign.

Malloy’s Hobgoblins

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was in a frightful and frightening mood when he visited the Hampton Democratic Committee's picnic, an affair held at the home of Toni and Jim Trotzer in Hampton, New Hampshire.

Speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama and reading pretty much from his campaign playbook, Mr. Malloy held up to the people of Hampton several hobgoblins.

Should Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan be elected to the White House, Mr. Malloy told the assembled Democrats, the two would “take apart America as we know it.” And later, after he had arrived home, the mood still being upon him, Mr. Malloy said Romney-Ryan wanted to “force senior citizens into poverty.”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why Fiscal Conservatives Lose Political Wars

Strict fiscal conservatives react to social conservatives pretty much in the way devils react to holy water. When an ardent political fiscal conservative identifies himself as such, his intent is to indicate whom he means to oblige once in office. But fiscal conservatism without some measure of social conservatism is what William James, the father of American pragmatism, called a dead option, because it leaves out of account essential social configurations. At bottom, all politics is social.

Aristotle begins his general discussion of politics with a consideration of the family as the principal political unit of the state, but then the Aristotelian state is much larger, deeper and wider than that of the fiscal conservative who flees the field when the political chatter turns to a discussion of social considerations. This abject pants-on-fire flight leaves progressives and liberals in charge of the family, the church, the school, the constitution – America’s primary socio-political document -- and all other social and political mediating institutions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Democrats Call for Unity

Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan should have received by Monday a call from John Olsen, President of the AFL-CIO, beseeching the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House in the 5th District to withdraw from the race.

Not a few members of Mr. Donovan’s campaign staff have been arrested by the FBI; other of Mr. Donovan’s political associates are even now being wrestled to the ground by FBI agents and prosecutors intent on uncovering what they know and when they knew it about  fraudulent campaign contributions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Of Capitalism I Sing

The driving force behind Western styled capitalism, “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” says George Gilder, the Walt Whitman of Capitalism, is – hang onto your hats here – altruism. Or, to put it in terms that might best arouse the fierce antagonism of socialists, progressives and “Occupy Wall Street” san culottes, the primary notes of capitalism are: methodological experimentation, creativity and a concern for others – not greed.

The very notion that altruism, a meeting of the wants and needs of others, rather than greed is the spark that sets the entrepreneurial spirit aflame is anathema to the ardent followers of Ayn Rand, the author of“Atlas Shrugged,” apart from the Bible one of the bestselling novels -- or, as some would insist, polemical tracts -- of all times.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Esty, Roraback, Donovan and the Correlation of Forces

The question before the house now that Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan has been bested in a Democratic primary by former state Representative Elizabeth Esty is: Will Mr. Donovan join a majority of Democrats in Connecticut and support the people’s choice for the U.S. Congress in the 5th District? Mr. Donovan was defeated in the recently concluded Democratic primary by a large margin: Esty's final vote total was 12,678 to Donovan's 9,212 and Roberti's 6,583.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Courant OK’s Defective Risk Reduction Earned Credits Program

The Hartford Courant has ignored its own admittedly unscientific poll, which asks “Should inmates be able to earn early release with re-entry programs?”

Of the 508 responses received by the paper, 89 percent of respondents answered that question “No.”The number of those answering “Yes” was a slender 11 percent. On the basis of a recent editorial,“Give Inmates A Better Chance On The Outside,” one must assume the Courant editorial page editors fall among the 11 percenters.

Murphy Absent Without Leave

It may be recalled that present Senator Joe Lieberman spanked then Senator Lowell Weicker pretty vigorously during their hard fought campaign way back in 1988 concerning Mr. Weicker’s failure to vote on important issues.

One of the most effective ads run by the Lieberman campaign showed Mr. Weicker as a snoozing bear in his cave hibernating while the world about him in the senate was hammering out bills.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crony Capitalist Democrats

It began as a “First Five” program and then, as happens with the usual governmental fix, quickly expanded, while retaining in its name the modest number “Five.”

The day after Democratic voters in Connecticut went to the primary polls and chose Elizabeth Esty over Chris Dovovan in the 5th District campaign for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Donovan having caught his foot in an FBI snare, Governor Dannel Malloy announced he had given to Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, a $25 million ten-year forgivable loan at 1 percent, a $5 million job training grant, a grant up to $5 million for the building's alternative energy systems and up to $80 million in urban and industrial reinvestment tax credits.

Bridgewater is the eighth recipient of state largess in Mr. Malloy’s “Next Five” program; the name of the program, open ended to any business chosen by the governor as a fitting recipient of taxpayer dollars, has been changed to comport with reality, the “Next” suggesting that there will be no terminus beyond “Five.” It does not take long for new governors to become conversant in Orwellian Newspeak.

The reality is: The state of Connecticut is now in the corporate bribing business.

The seven companies that so far have joined the former “First Five” program are: Cigna in Bloomfield, ESPN in Bristol, NBC Sports in Stamford, Alexion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, CareCentrix in Hartford, Sustainable Building Solutions in North Haven and, most recently, Deloitte in Stamford.

As befits the largest hedge fund in the world, the CEO of Bridgewater, founder and chief investment officer Ray Dalio, is the highest paid hedge fund manager in the world at $3.9 billion per annum. Mr. Dalio will be moving his company from Westport, Connecticut to Stamford, Connecticut. “First Five” originally was intended to lure out of state businesses into Connecticut.

If Occupy Wall Street were still in business, tents would be sprouting somewhere near Stamford's Harbor Point development where, according to co-CEO of Bridgewater Greg Jensen, the company intends to construct a 750,000-square-foot of space in two buildings on a forested campus. Mr. Jensen’s yearly salary was not mentioned in news reports touting Mr. Malloy’s big catch, but it’s probably up there in the stratosphere of other one percenters who’s fannies have been spanked by Occupiers and their sympathizers in Connecticut’s General Assembly, Speaker of the House Chris Donovan among them. Mr. Donovan’s jihad against under taxed hedge fund operators is legendary.

The Occupiers might have had a sympathetic U.S. Representative in Mr. Dovovan had the FBI not rooted up some corruption truffles in his campaign. Last Tuesday Mr. Donovan was womped by Elizabeth Esty, wife of Mr. Malloy’s Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Daniel Esty. Mrs. Esty is believed to be a moderate Democrat. She will be facing moderate Republican State Senator Andrew Roraback in the general election.

The original progressives, like their modern counterparts, looked upon big business with a baleful eye; Teddy Roosevelt played a prominent role in the election of 1912 by vowing to break up the Big Trusts whose path to power in the economy ran through Washington D.C. and state houses.

Oddly, in the modern period, trust busters tend to be conservative Republicans, who are convinced that too-large-to-fail businesses should not be artificially propped up by Washington and state house crony capitalists. In the progress of progressivism from 1912 to 2012, the impulse to level the economic playing field by removing governmental preferments showered upon large businesses by incumbent politicians thirsty for campaign contributions gravitated from progressive Democrats to anti-crony capitalist conservatives.

The architecture of Mr. Malloy’s “Next Five” program virtually assures that capital investment cash provided by taxpayers will flow to mega-businesses such as Bridgewater, thus giving too-large-to-fail corporations a leg up over their smaller competitors, who are left to struggle in the usual Darwinian economic universe that rewards free enterprisers who have earned their own success without battening on the teat of Trust enablers.

Here is a difference between the two parties that Roraback the Moderate Republican might well stress in his campaign against Mrs. Esty, doomed by her association with the Malloy administration to support the transference of tax dollars from Social Security recipients to Mr. Dalio’s gold lined pockets.

The best, most efficient and least corrupt way to spur business activity in Connecticut is to reduce business taxes – for all businesses, not for those relatively prosperous select few whose tin cups are filled by phony progressive crony capitalist governors. Now that Mr. Donovan has been sidelined by an FBI sucker punch, real 1912 progressives in the state could use an honest political broker.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Post Primary Ressentiment

The primaries are over, which means that Republicans need no longer bash Republicans and Democrats need no longer bash Democrats.

A time of “healing” and “unification” is close at hand.

YouTube snippets of former Representative Chris Shays intemperately asserting he has never in his years of politicking – no, never -- met a Republican primary opponent he would not under any circumstances support will live on in a sort of YouTube afterlife, and it would be foolish to suppose that SuperPACs supporting Democratic primary winner Chris Murphy would not make ample use of Mr. Shays’ unfortunate apoplectic burst of Nietzsche ressentiment. “I have never run against an opponent that I have respected less -- ever -- and there are a lot of candidates I have run against," Mr. Shays told the New Haven Register.

Patrick Skully, the proprietor of “The Hanging Shad,” touted on his site as “Connecticut’s BEST Political blog and commentary,” wrote of Mr. Shays on the eve of the primaries, “This is over. The Chris Shays campaign didn’t care for [Mr. Skully’s] characterization that the former congressman has gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs because Linda McMahon is beating him. Sorry, I call ‘em as I see ‘em.”

It would be redundant to note that Mr. Skully reflexively supports Democrats and is no friend of Linda McMahon. Following Mrs. McMahon’s refusal to meet with editorial boards before primary votes were cast, the Republican Party’s choice for the U.S. Senate has few friends within editorial boards and none among commentators whose primary business lies in advising promising Democratic candidates for office.

Some things are obvious:

· Primary scars do not heal quickly; sometimes not at all. Once the Rubicon is crossed, it becomes impossible to reenter the Roman Republic. Mr. Shays’ primary campaign remarks may seem insurrectionary to some Republican Party leaders.

· Democrats are running the state of Connecticut and have little to fear from Republicans, which is why the first Democratic governor in more than 20 years, Dannel Malloy, and present Speaker of the state House Chris Donovan, had little to fear when Republicans were shown the door during budget negotiations that imposed, mostly on middle class nutmeggers, the largest tax increase in state history. Even among Connecticut’s left of center media, no journalist who has a nodding acquaintance with inconvenient truths could possible confuse Mr. Donovan or his likely replacement, House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey, with traditional Connecticut moderate Democrats. Under such circumstances, the Republican Party needs seasoned fighters, not accomodationists.

· The “center” in both parties took a hike decades ago. Moderate Republicans have had no success in overthrowing liberal Democrats in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation; there are no Rockefeller Republican survivals in the U.S. House anywhere in New England. Mr. Shays was the last moderate Republican when he was unseated by current 4th District U.S. Representative Jim Himes a dozen years ago. Mr. Shays’ present rejection by Connecticut Republicans simply confirms that the species almost everywhere in the Northeast has become as extinct as the Dodo bird. The breed lives on only in the nostalgic memories of journalists in the Northeast afflicted with a crippling anti-conservative phobia.

· Without question, the most often reiterated refrain since Mrs. McMahon was unable to prevent then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal from occupying former Senator Chris Dodd’s seat in the U.S. Congress– the former senator is now a multi-millionaire lobbyist for Tinseltown – is that Mrs. McMahon’s millions could not buy a senate seat. Mrs. McMahon’s critics were right: Fifty million dollars spent on a senate campaign was pointlessly spent. However, a recent variation on the refrain goes like this: Money can buy a senate seat. So says Mr. Murphy, Democrats everywhere in the state and the state’s left of center media. Their message, in any case, is confusing.

What has not been said of Mrs. McMahon’s campaign is perhaps more important, if less obvious.

She has so far run a very traditional, stellar ground campaign, which is no guarantee that she will prevail over Mr. Murphy, who has gathered in his own corner enough dollars and ancillary support to wage an effective campaign against Mrs. McMahon.

Of the two campaigners, Mrs. McMahon’s message – it’s raining, and the spending downpour is not likely to stop anytime soon --comports with the reality people see when they free themselves of campaign propaganda and look out the window at the real world.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Murphy, Romney and SuperPACs

What do U.S. Representative Chris Murphy, the state Democratic Party nominee for the U .S. Senate, and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president, have in common?

They are both victims of misleading ads, and those who initiated the ads refused to pull them after they had been shown to be pock marked with errors.

A Democratic primary ad criticizing Mr. Murphy approved by Susan Bysiewicz was found to contain errors of a minor nature. The ad claimed Mr. Murphy was the number one recipient of Wall Street hedge fund contributors in the nation. Mr. Murphy was number four, not number one.

Mr. Murphy’s lawyers at one point threatened to sue Connecticut television stations carrying the ad, even though the stations were obligated by law to run it. Eventually, Mrs. Bysiewicz pulled her ad, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief; no legal suits were filed.

The anti-Romney ad -- the handiwork of Priorities USA, a super PAC founded by former White House spokesman Bill Burton who, despite glaring faults in the scurrilous ad, refused to pull it. -- is much more egregious. Mr. Burton’s ad strongly suggests that Mr. Romney is responsible for the death of a cancer victim, the wife of steelworker Joe Soptic, who lost his job and health care benefits after Mr. Romney's Bain Capital closed a steel plant in Kansas City, Mo., in 2001.

Mr. Soptic describes in the ad how his wife developed cancer and strongly suggests that Mr. Romney is to blame, his non-portable insurance policy having elapsed when he lost his job -- owing, one supposes, to Mr. Romney ungovernable greed.

Several difficulties soon emerged that overthrew the planted axioms in the ad: Mr. Soptic's wife died in 2006, five years after the company that employed her husband closed. Mrs. Soptic had the use of her own health insurance following her husband’s unemployment and lost her coverage after she too lost her job – not, one supposes, as a result of Mr. Romney’s greed.

The SuperPAC is the bitter fruit of campaign finance reform measures authored by Shays-Meehan in the U.S. House and McCain-Feingold in the U.S. Senate. The “Shays” of Shays-Meehan is former U.S. Representative Chris Shays, a Republican running for the same seat in the U.S. Senate as Mr. Murphy.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a decision firmly anchored in Constitutional law that the campaign finance bill could not restrict large campaign donations issuing from corporations or unions without violating First Amendment rights. While such donations could constitutionally be prohibited to political parties, large donations assembled by SuperPACs were permitted --provided the SuperPAC was not formally connected to a candidate or party. SuperPACs then proceeded to use the money to produce ads and other in-kind contributions useful to favored candidates or critical of their opponents (LINK).

Thus were born in the same legislative womb and at the same time the twin evils of SuperPACs and negative campaign ads.

Mrs. Bysiewicz is not yet a SuperPAC, but Priorities USA is– and the connections between Priorities USA and President Barack Obama, who benefits greatly from the SuperPAC’s ads, are, others have pointed out, just a little too close for comfort.

Priorities USA was founded by former White House spokesman Bill Burton; his associate, (NAME) Gibbs, served as White House press secretary when Mr. Burton was his deputy for about two years during the first half of Mr. Obama's term.

Even some Democrats and their well-wishers in the media are not pleased with the SuperPac’s obvious connections to the Obama campaign.

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said the ad was "over the edge," and Lanny Davis, once an adviser to President Clinton, dubbed it "disgusting."

Mika Brzezinski, the progressive co-host of the "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC and a face familiar to news watchers in Connecticut, said that Obama campaign officials were "not telling the truth" about how much they knew about the commercial.

In view of the stringent provisos laid down by the Supreme Court, the campaign officials probably have lawyers attached to their legs the way some criminals on probation are burdened with ankle monitors.

Everyone in such elaborate charades is supposed to be politically disconnected; but in fact, the producers of such ads and the candidates whose campaigns they “indirectly” promote are in some cases professionally and ideologically connected at their brain stems.

Campaign financing has made it nearly impossible for political parties to fund party chosen candidates. Incumbent politicians – who have now become their own petit political parties and who complain bitterly that they spend too large a part of their time financing their own campaigns --wanted it that way. And incumbents need SuperPACS to shuttle campaign funds around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling soundly grounded in constitutional and statutory law.

No one has yet asked Mr. Murphy, the victim of a false ad, whether he feels Mr. Romney’s pain.

He probably does not. In September, Mr. Murphy likely will face a self-funded Republican candidate of means. And he will need the services, financial and otherwise, offered to him by his very own SuperPAC, “Connecticut's Future,” whose chairman, Chris VanDeHoef, a Hartford lobbyist, was five years ago a groomsman at Murphy's wedding party.

Mr. VanDeHoft also had been the executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, one of those jolly journalists who buy ink by the barrel and who, one presumes, still is on speaking terms with his colleagues in Connecticut’s left of center media. Other members of Mr. Murphy’s SuperPACare former executive director and general counsel of the State Elections Enforcement Commission Jeff Garfieldand Kevin Graf, former chief of staff to state Senate Democrats. The keeper of the coins is Attorney Joseph Taborsak, who will serve as treasurer of Mr. Murphy’s new bride, to which he has plighted his troth till death do them part.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Markley Joins Call for Suspension of Controversial Early Release Program

Sen. Joe Markley (R-Southington) has written to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urging the governor to suspend the state’s new program which enables violent felons to be released early from prison.

In the letter, Sen. Markley cited the recent case involving Frankie Resto, who is charged with the June 27 murder of 70-year-old Meriden small business owner Ibrahim Ghazal. Resto, a violent felon, had been released early from prison under the state’s new Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program.

“Serious questions about the implementation of the RREC program and the threat to the safety of the public make the situation urgent,”Sen. Markley said. “The non-partisan Office of Victim Advocate agrees that there appear to be major flaws in the program that need to be investigated before another tragedy occurs.”

Sen. Markley said that Resto received jail time in 2007 for convictions stemming from two armed robberies. While behind bars he earned 199 days’ worth of credits toward early release by taking counseling and self-help courses. Without those credits, he would have been locked up until this fall. Sen. Markley noted that despite successfully completing several treatment courses while in prison, Resto earned only 199 of 309 possible early release credits because he was not a model prisoner. Resto was cited in September 2006 for stealing from another prisoner and getting into a fight. He was cited for conspiring to possess contraband in January 2007; assaulting others in October 2007 and May 2008; fighting (again) in July 2008; and being cited for disobedience in February 2009, intoxication in March 2011, and causing a disturbance in September 2011. Resto was identified as a gang member in early 2009 and placed in a special security risk group as a result.

During a 2010 parole hearing, the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman told Resto, “You’ve got nine disciplinaries ... you set fire to a mattress, you’re a Latin King, you’re not working when you’re on the outside, you’ve got no sponsor. I don’t know, the future don’t look too bright outside for you. You’ve got to change your lifestyle, Mr. Resto. You can’t keep robbing people, you’re robbing people on the street.”

“Failure to be a model prisoner should be enough to trigger a ban of that inmate from earning any credits,” Sen. Markley said. “Yet, this individual, whose history involves violent crimes and who was disciplined further while already in jail, was deemed eligible for 199 days of credits. This law failed the Ghazal family. It is endangering public safety, and action must be taken quickly so that it doesn't fail other families and victims.”

The Department of Correction (DOC) has reported that 7,589 inmates - including Resto - have been released through the RREC program since it began September 1, 2011. Independent State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz has discovered that many of the offenders are being granted RREC for simplysigning up for a program rather than completing the program. Cruz also found inmates have been denied parole for failure to complete required programs while at the same time earning risk reduction credits for enrolling in programs they do not need. For example a sex offender who refuses to sign up for sex offender treatment as required, is instead signing up for programs such as study of the Philippines. Once they sign up they are receiving credits to get out early.

“It has been noted that in passing the program, the General Assembly blew on a dandelion full of seeds that will take root everywhere in Connecticut, not only in Meriden,” Sen. Markley said. “That is why I am urging the governor to suspend the early release program immediately. It is time to put victims first and time to stop coddling violent criminals.”

The following is a partial list of criminal convictions eligible for reduced prison sentences in Connecticut under the early release law:

First-degree manslaughter.
Assault of a pregnant woman.
First-degree assault.
Second-degree strangulation.
First-degree threatening.
Having sex with someone under the age of 13
Assault of a blind or disabled person.
Animal cruelty.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

No Comics on the Right

It would be difficult for anyone other than politicians on the right, often the butt of his jokes, to disdain Colin McEnroe. We in the land of Mark Twain do love and forgive our humorists their hyperbole, and Mr. McEnroe is the closest thing Connecticut has to, say, Aristophanes, the famous Greek comic playwright of the 4thcentury BC.

Time, as we know, is the enemy of sound scholarship. The ruin of Greece has left huge gaps in our understanding of, among other things, Greek comic playwrights. Only eleven of Aristophanes’ 40 plays survive virtually complete. Modern scholarship, which relies on multiple disciplines –archeology, for instance -- to fill in the gaps, shows us an Aristophanes who was an arch political critic, though he wore many masks.

In his plays, Aristophanes mercilessly and subversively routed by means of humor the larger and more offensive pretentions of his day. Plato’s beef against Aristophanes was that his play “The Clouds” slandered Socrates and so led to the philosopher’s trial and execution, perhaps an over-reaction on the part of a shameless Socratic groupie.

Greek politicians, one may imagine, were none too pleased with him. Cleon, represented in “The Knights” as a political opportunist, a sharpie and a demagogue, felt his spurs. A populist leader of the pro-war faction in Athens, Cleon was a prime target of Aristophanes’ early plays, and the inevitable suit for slander brought by Cleon against Aristophanes, only served to further inflame the playwright against him.

Aristophanes was approached one day by one of the butts of his jokes, possibly a politician held up to ridicule in one of the lost plays, who demanded whether he took ANYTHING seriously.

“Of course,” said Aristophanes, “I take comedy seriously.”

So should modern politicians. Humor is dynamite. It entices populist sensibilities and focuses them on inconvenient moments that, having raised a laugh, stick in the memory.
Mark Twain, no slouch when it came to political invective, put in the mouth of his Young Satan the following fierce defense of humor:

“Will a day come when the race will detect the funniness of these juvenilities and laugh at them -- and by laughing at them destroy them? For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon-- laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution--these can lift at a colossal humbug -- push it a little -- crowd it a little -- weaken it a little, century by century: But only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand."

Mr. McEnroe is a serious student of Twain’s persuasion, and he’s very good at what he does, which is to create word cartoons of politicians and their foibles, all seen from a leftist point of view. But leftists, as we all know, are not inclined to blow leftists to rags and atoms. There are no moderates or rightists, for instance, in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation,a point underscored by Mr. McEnroe:

“As a political humor writer, I am very nervous about having [Chris] Murphy and Richard Blumenthal as our senators. They're bad for business. Murphy has not been funny since Lee Whitnum barked‘Whore!!’ at him in a debate, and you can't count on that kind of thing happening very often.” Where Mr. McEnroe sees a comic wasteland, a conservative writer would see an Elysian field abloom with comic possibilities, especially in respect of Mr. Blumenthal, the political manikin.

Pity there are no comics on the right writing for Connecticut’s media, overstocked as always with liberals like Mr. McEnroe. Is there anything more depressing than an old comic in a dry month? The number of cartoonists and political comics on the right in a state that used to pride itself on its political moderation – no longer, alas – is no greater than the number of Republican politicians among its Congressional delegation, which is none, and this is very curious.

As in most other states at the beginning of the 21stcentury, Connecticut’s two major parties have been sacked and conquered by conservatives on the right and progressives on the left, which is another way of saying that political ideas in the postmodern period have become serious. Since comedy by its nature is conservative and journalism by its nature is contrarian, one would suppose there would arise in Connecticut, chock-a-block with enthroned liberals and sans-culottes progressives, a contingent of conservative writers, commentators and journalists to kick at the progressive pricks.

This has not happened. The resistance to conservative ideas, in many other states a failure, has held in the Northeast. But moderation in both parties has been the first casualty of the 21st century war of ideas.

On the left, the old liberals have been routed by bushy-tailed progressives; on the right, moderate Republicans have been driven out of New England by a conservative resurgence that had not yet ebbed. The last of the moderate Republicans in New England, former U.S. Representative Chris Shays, this year is running for the U.S. Senate as moderate in conservative clothing.

For Mr. McEnroe, politics has suddenly become complex. Ordinarily, a leftist with a conscience would drift toward the Democratic nominee for congress in the 5th District Chris Donovan, Connecticut’s progressive LeonTrotsky. But alas, the shadow of the prison has fallen upon him, and Mr. McEnroe has spent too much of his career pillorying corrupt politicians – mostly Republicans– to support Donovan:

"I really should support Donovan, but I can’t. For about two decades I have trumpeted the ideals of clean government and clean elections. I have made a point of holding elected officials and candidates responsible for the actions of their subordinates. I considered Rell responsible for Lisa Moody and Rowland responsible for Peter Ellef. I hold Lisa Wilson-Foley responsible for whoever set up the deal with Rowland, even if that wasn’t her."

Here and there in Connecticut, one finds a lonely editorial voice crying out in an empty theatre that the vital center must be preserved, as one preserves in a museum the dusty artifacts of the past. Epicenters have become centers. And even these lonely voices are fierce partisans, mostly progressives – wolves, in the memorable phrase of Winston Churchill, dressed in wolves’ clothing.

Real comic possibilities would present themselves to a conservative comic writer in Connecticut – since virtually all the fish in the political pond are museum styled liberals or Eugene Debs like progressives. But it is pointless to expect a political conversion from Mr. McEnroe at this late date. He is too emotionally committed to waggery on the left.

Aristophanes, the comic writer who said he took comedy seriously, would have converted.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lawlor Fails to Discriminate

It cannot be a good sign that Michael Lawlor, Governor Dannel Malloy’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy at the Office of Policy and Management, seems incapable of making a proper distinction between violent prisoners under his jurisdiction and non-violent prisoners.

Purely as a practical matter, the distinction was dramatically illustrated when Frankie Resto, released from prison early after having received credits under the General Assembly’s new Risk Reduction Earned Credits program, entered an EZ Mart store in Meriden and shot to death co-owner of the store Ibrahim Ghazal, who handed over the money he demanded to Mr. Resto before he was shot, according to police reports.

Other reports demonstrate that Mr. Resto should not have been a candidate for early release under a flawed program that awards credits to violent criminals. The bill establishing the program was rushed through the legislature during its final hectic days, without the benefit of public hearings and over the voluble objections of Republicans in both chambers.

The chief objection of Republicans as the bill was pushed through the sausage machine during a session that in the past had been utilized to finalize budgets was that the Risk Reduction Earned Credits program could endanger the public welfare because it provided early release to certain violent criminals in prison for having committed such felonies as: the violation of a protective order; carrying a dangerous weapon; attempted arson, a 3rd Degree felony; burglary, a 3rd Degree felony; molestation of children and rape.

Enter Mr. Resto.

A series of reports in the Meriden Record Journal, the newspaper of record in the town in which Mr. Resto murdered Mr. Ghazal, provides according to arrest records several snapshots of the newly released Mr. Resto energetically being himself.

Mr. Resto, nom de guerre “Razor,” was the intended target of a 2006 fatal stabbing, apparently of a drug deal gone wrong. Public records detailing crimes such as these are available to anyone with a computer and a mouse, not excluding those responsible for handing out early release credits under the state’s hastily passed Risk Reduction Earned Credits program. The information – can anyone believe it? --is readily available even to an undersecretary for criminal justice policy at the Office of Policy and Management such as Mr. Lawlor.

However, in recent days the governor’s office has been concerned with the messenger of bad news rather than the predictable consequences of the seriously flawed Risk Reduction Earned Credits program passed by the General Assembly approved by both Mr. Malloy and Mr. Lawlor.

That would be state Senator Len Suzio, who lives in Meriden four streets away from the scene of Mr. Resto’s mayhem.

In reported interviews with several media outlets, Mr. Lawlor has charged that Mr. Suzio has involved himself with family members of the murdered Mr. Ghazal not because the family members – and everyone else in the state -- need his assistance in repairing Gibraltar sized breeches in the new legislation but because Mr. Suzio is a political opportunist, playing fast and loose with emotions rubbed raw by a convicted criminal known for shaking down drug dealers who murdered their father and who was given get-out-of-jail early credits under Mr. Lawlor’s misconceived program.

This guy Suzio, Mr. Lawlor insisted, is a hypocrite… because…

Because Mr. Suzio, WHO FAVORS MR. LAWLOR’S RISK REDUCTION PROGRAM ONLY FOR NON-VIOLENT CRIMINALS,wrote a letter recommending early release under the program for a non-violent criminal convicted of embezzlement. In the course of his letter, Mr. Suzio pointedly made the proper distinction between violent and non-violent criminals: “With the new early release legislation, people who are incarcerated for much more severe crimes such as rape and assault will be able to get an early release for good behavior. I believe it makes more sense for the residents of Connecticut to have non-violent prisoners released early verses those with a violent record.”

Mr. Lawlor has, even now, pointedly ignored the all important distinction. This failure to discriminate between violent and non-violent applicants to the program is at the root of its failure. And Mr. Lawlor in making this point – with considerable help from the architects of the failed Risk Reduction Earned Credits program – is by no means alone.

Andrew Roraback, recently endorsed by the Hartford Courant as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 5th District, responded to the preventable murder in Meriden when asked about it by Al Terzi and Laurie Perez on Fox News’ The Real Story (Pertinent remarks at 5:45):

“I objected to this program when it was passed in May of 2011 in the dark of night by a Democratic legislature without the benefit of a public hearing and over the objections of the Commissioner of Corrections who said we should only do an early release program for non-violent offenders. What the governor and the Democrats pushed through to save money at the expense of public safety was an early release program which allowed serial rapists, child molesters, repeat drunk drivers who have killed innocent people to be given good time credit retroactively for five years. And I think everyone knew it was just a matter of time before one of these people who was released before they were supposed to be released did something terrible. And my heart goes out to the family in Meriden who are suffering the consequences of the irresponsible actions taken in the legislation. And I hope that next year, the legislature will see fit to repeal this bill and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

And even Mr. Suzio’s Democratic opponent in the upcoming 13th District race has made the same point: “It’s important that we keep our hardened criminals behind bars, and that we also at the same time recognize that non-violent criminals who do have the opportunity for rehabilitation have that through this program.”

So then, in what sense are Mr. Lawlor’s spurious charges against Mr. Suzio not a) political or b) hypocritical?

And whose risks are reduced by allowing violent incarcerated criminals access to a program that should be utilized only by non-violent criminals?

Mr. Malloy, once a prosecutor and a courageous Irishman who fearlessly leaps into controversies in which even angels fear to tread, has so far maintained a discreet distance concerning the pain felt by Mr. Ghazal’s family.

When Mr. Ghazal’s son Fapyo first laid eyes on Mr. Resto at an arraignment in Meriden Superior Court on July 13, he said, “He is a bad guy. He is like a monster. I cannot look into his face,” and of Suzio the hypocrite Fapyo said, “What he tries to do is very good. We will try to work together and change the law.”

When reporters questioned Fapyo at a petition signing at the site of his father’s murder a few days ago, they supposed he spoke haltingly because he was unfamiliar with the American tongue. His real trouble was that he was beaten so savagely while working at another convenience store that the beating left him scared in body and mind.

Still he managed to tell me this story: In Jordan, his father always had spoken in glowing terms of America, so that his dreams colored their own hopes and imaginings.

“We all wanted to come to America, work hard. And now look?”

In “America, America”a book and later a film by Eliza Kazan about his Uncle’s journey to America from Anatolia, the central character speaks for all immigrants when he says, “America is not even a country. It is an emotive idea.”

When Mr. Ghazal’s family was discussing funeral arrangements following his murder, some assumed the patriarch of the family wished to be buried in Jordan. Fapyo interposed and said “No. Dad told me he loved America and he wanted to be buried in America, his new home."

And that is why when a reporter asked Fapyo to step before the mics and answer a few questions, not fifty feet from where his father was fatally shot, among the last words he shared with the reporters were “God bless America."

There are only 6 crimes excluded from the unreconstructed Risk Reduction Earned Credits program, capital murder among them. Sentences for rape, arson, sex with a child under 13, poisoning the water supply as a terrorist act and others are subject to reductions. Mr. Lawlor, it would appear, is lost to any appeals of the heart. But the family whose father was murdered may have better luck appealing to Mr. Malloy’s wife Kathy, who ran a rape crisis center.

Robin Hood Comes To Westport

On the first bright day after a series of mercilessly hot days in Connecticut, beaches were closed at Burying Hill and Sherwood Island State Park to accommodate the One Percenter In Chief.

At the Weinstein's million dollar mansion, President Barack Obama said he thought Ann Hathaway was the best thing in Dark Night Rises: “She's spectacular. I got a chance to see Batman, and she was the best thing in it. That's just my personal opinion."

And the teleprompter failed. As reported in the Stamford Advocate, “Joanne Woodward sat at a table wearing beige, with glasses perched atop her head. The president twice mistakenly referred to her as Joan.” The President did manage to carry away millions from the guests, who paid about half a million a head to hear him refer to Republican opponent Mitt Romney as the anti-Robin Hood.

Peal Keehan was pleased with the president’s visit, which interrupted an apology:

"Pearl Keehan, who swims past Weinstein's home with its Olympic-sized pool at high tide nearly every day, said she once scolded a man who brought his dog to Burying Hill and later learned it was Weinstein. The 73-year-old Westport resident said she planned to invite Weinstein for a swim before the fundraiser to make up for it, but the beach was shut down."

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Fleeting Pleasure of Republican Primary Endorsements

For Republicans in Connecticut, editorial endorsements from many papers – but most especially from the Hartford Courant – provide a momentary, fleeting pleasure.

In primaries, the Courant does tend to endorse some non-incumbents. But in general elections, the paper’s endorsements tend to favor incumbents who have, unsurprisingly, more practical experience in the contested office. For the most part then, incumbents have an insuperable advantage over challengers seeking the endorsement of the paper’s editorial writers and administrators. Whether this arrangement is pragmatic or not depends, to borrow phraseology from former President Bill Clinton, on what you mean by “pragmatic.”
The dark side of pragmatism is opportunism, a cold, sportsman like estimate of political possibilities.
When St. Thomas More accuses Thomas Cromwell of being a pragmatist in Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons” he intends no compliment.
“ALICE: They say he's [Cromwell] a very penetrating lawyer.

“MORE: What, Cromwell? Pooh, he's a pragmatist-and that's the only resemblance he has to the Devil, son Roper; a pragmatist, the merest plumber.”
Need it be said that in the contest between Cromwell and the saint, it was the saint who lost his head.
The Courant’s charge in its editorial that Republican Party endorsed candidate for the U.S. House in the (2nd District) Paul Formica should prevail over Ms. Novack in the upcoming Republican Primary is, therefore, a mixed blessing. Mr. Formica will not likely hold on to the Courant6’s endorsement through the general election, if past endorsements are any guide to the future.
In the past, the Courant has been in the habit of endorsing the leftmost incumbent candidate in general elections. As most Republicans have caught conservative sniffles over the years, and as most moderate Republican in the New England states have been dished by leftward leaning Democrats – there are no Republicans any longer in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation –the paper’s endorsement of 2nd District contenders in the general election is likely to fall to present U.S. Representative Joe Courtney.
Apparently, the paper feels that one party states – think of Henry VIII – are more pragmatic than vigorous two party states.
Conservative Republicans in the 2nd District are now congratulating Ms. Novak on her Courant non-endorsement.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jordan Outed, McKinney Calls for Legislative Investigation

Citing “sources close to the investigation” of Speaker of the State House Chris Donovan’s 5th District campaign for the U.S. Senate, HartfordCourant investigative reporter Jon Lender fingered Laura Jordon as the“campaign aide who gave inside information to then Donovan campaign manager Joshua Nassi.

Prior to Ms. Jordon’s outing as the Donovan floor manager identified in an affidavit supporting the arrest of Mr. Nassi, the elusive legislative contact had been identified in prosecution records as “Legislative Aide 1”:

“Top Democratic legislative leaders would not agree to a Republican lawmaker’s proposal earlier this week to launch their own probe into possible wrongdoing in the General Assembly, including the House speaker’s office. And up to now, Legislative Aide 1 — as the person is referred to in the indictment — has not been identified publicly.
“But in recent days, sources familiar with the events described in the indictment have confirmed to The Courant that she is Laura Jordan, a top aide and lawyer who is paid $150,000 a year in the House speaker’s office at the Capitol. Jordan’s attorney, Thomas Murphy, would neither confirm nor deny Friday that his client is Legislative Aide 1.”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Malloy the Progressive

According to Public Policy Polling, Governor Dannel Malloy “continues to be one of the most unpopular Governors in the country in our polling.”

Mr. Malloy’s approval-disapproval spread likely astonished most political actors in the state, with the possible exception of the phlegmatic Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor chief flack catcher, whose response to a reputable, non-partisan poll showing the governor with an approval rating of a slender 33 percent and a disapproval rating of 51 percent was a barely suppressed yawn.

“We generally don’t comment on polls,” said Mr. Occhiogrosso, “because what’s there to say? Polls come and go, numbers go up and down. The governor always tries to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the people of Connecticut, irrespective of the political consequences.”

Politicians also come and go, and their comings and goings are sometimes intimately connected with sliding approval ratings.

On previous occasions, Mr. Malloy has said that he is uninterested in popularity contests. His principle business lies in re-inventing Connecticut; in this ambition, he has patterned his political program after that of President Barack Obama, who has been during his first term in office busily re-inventing America.

Actually, it may be the other way around. It is always difficult in these circumstances to determine precisely which came first, the chicken or the egg. In his second campaign for the presidency, Mr. Obama – slipping in the polls, but not quite as precipitously as Mr. Malloy – has begun to chatter about millionaires paying their “fair share”; in Mr. Obama’s view, a millionaire is anyone who earns by the sweat of his brow more than $250,000 per year, well short of a million. With the Damoclean sword of a $15 trillion deficit hanging over their heads, most non-millionaire taxpayers in the country are beginning to brace themselves for a massive tax increase.  Mr. Malloy, it will be recalled, is the father of the largest tax increase in Connecticut history, compared to which his spending cuts have been indeterminate and modest.

The similarities between Mr. Obama and Mr. Malloy are telling. Both are young, and it is said that Mr. Obama has some Irish blood rolling his veins.

Both are ardent travelers. According to a recent story, Mr. Malloy will be on his way to China sometime in September, there to explore the possibility of persuading his equivalent in China’s fascist government to invest in Connecticut. The Chinese already are heavily invested in the foundering U.S. economy. Mr. Malloy possibly has more miles on his pedometer than any other Connecticut governor and has shown himself to be – the views of Jonathan Pelto notwithstanding – a faithful progressive.         

Support for unions was one of the identifying characteristics of the 1912 presidential campaign involving trust buster and former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, a convert to progressive causes, Republican President Howard Taft, a golfer whose real political ambitions would later be fulfilled when he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Democratic candidate and dilettante progressive Woodrow Wilson, and socialist candidate Eugene Debs, the real progressive deal. In the coming 2012 election, the United States will be reprising its 1912 counterpart, which some political scientists consider one of the most defining elections in U.S. History. The 1912 election, in which progressivism made its first and most lasting impression on American politics, introduced into the political mainstream the central tenants of a progressive program that reached its zenith during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.

Mr. Roosevelt favored the unionization of private industry but drew a line in the sand concerning the unionization of government workers. Willing to help union workers obtain more of the profits they helped generate in the private sector, Mr. Roosevelt said “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government,” because government workers do not generate profits; they negotiate for more tax money. A union strike against taxpayers, Mr. Roosevelt said, would be “unthinkable and intolerable.”

In Connecticut, government workers have become the pampered pets of politicians like Mr. Malloy and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Chris Dovovan, both of whom were quite willing to exclude from budget deliberations Republican leaders who had not yet bowed their necks to union demands. Indeed, the Democratic dominated General Assembly pre-approved a budget that later was substantially changed by Mr. Malloy negotiating in concert with the very same union bargainers Mr. Roosevelt thought should never have a claim on public money.

Ah well, it is the nature of progressivism to progress. Accordingly, Connecticut has witnessed in recent days it’s governor andattorney general marching in a picket line in support of union workers against nursing home administrators, sounding for all the world like Mr. Debs accusing greedy administrators of the Pullman Company of buying the favors of politicians. Not one commentator has yet accused SEBAC of purchasing the favors of Mr. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen through donations and in-kind contributions to their campaigns, the nightmare that haunted Mr. Roosevelt’s otherwise placid nights.      

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lawlor the Lawgiver

State Senator Len Suzio held a news conference in the Legislative Office Building, sparsely attended by the public but well attended by the state’s media, to call public attention to what he regards as serious failures in Connecticut’s newly adopted and Orwellian named early release Risk Reduction Earned Credits program. The title of the program begs the question -- Risk Reduction for whom?

Certainly IbrahimGhazal’s risk of getting murdered as he was peaceably going about his daily business at an EZ Mart store in Meriden was not reduced after the program was hastily adopted in a legislative session normally devoted to budget fixes. A Democratic dominated General Assembly joined at the hip to the first Democratic governor in more than 20 years, Dannel Malloy, has made it possible for ambitious Democrats to pass hastily contrived bills through a sausage making assembly line that in the past was considerably more thoughtful and deliberative.

Police have arrested Frankie Resto, a prisoner who had been given early release credits under the provisions of the General Assembly’s new law, for the murder of Mr. Ghazal.

In the blink of an eye this session, Democrats were able to abolish the death penalty – by arguing that the prospect of death does not deter capitol felonies. At the time of passage, Connecticut Commentary argued that if capital punishment had no deterrent value at all, no punishment, however minor, could deter crime. At times the Democrats appeared to be arguing for the abolition of punishment as well as capital punishment.

The bill abolishing the death penalty, passed by Democrats over the muted objections of an emasculated Republican minority, applied abolition prospectively. The bill was crafted so as not to affect the Connecticut 11, capitol felons presently awaiting execution on death row.

Thanks to a cowardly Democratic majority in the General Assembly, Connecticut is now prepared to execute 11 men in the absence of a law mandating execution for heinous crimes, oblivious of the natural law informing all jurisprudence, according to which men may not arbitrarily be punished in the absence of a law prescribing punishment: Nulla poena sine lege -- “Where there is no law, there is no transgression” – is, outside of the totalitarian state, a part of the Natural Law that informs Western laws and ethics. The natural law, in its varying permutations, may be found in the Torah, the Sermon on the Mount, the Magna Carta, statutory law and the U.S. Constitution. Alas, Connecticut’s General Assembly and its governor, formerly a prosecutor, are untouched by it.

Mr. Suzio’s too loud objections to the hastily written and poorly applied Risk Reduction Earned Credits program has produced a sour note from Michael Lawlor, who had served in the General Assembly for a quarter century before accepting a well paid position among Malloyalists as the governor’s undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the Office of Policy and Management. As co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Lawlor was practiced at sliding dubious legislation past his Republican comrades on the committee, not always successfully.

“The idea that you could take a tragedy of what happened in Meriden, this murder, and turn it into some sort of a political football is really outrageous,” Lawlor told a reporterfor CTNewsJunkie. “I think it’s extremely irresponsible to capitalize on a tragedy like this.” Mr. Lawlor added that if Mr. Suzio was serious about getting something done, he wouldn’t be holding a press conference, because that’s not how public policy is changed in the Malloy regime.

Mr. Suzio, as well as family victims left in grief by behavior even Mr. Lawlor might consider anti-social, do not agree with that assessment.

Mr. Lawlor argues that under the previous program, Mr. Resto would have been released earlier. Mr. Suzio argues that Mr. Resto was released early under the auspices of the new Risk Reduction Earned Credits program, and the credits that served as his get-out-of-jail-early card should never have been applied in a rigorous and fault free early release program.

“He [Mr. Resto] actually got drunk in prison at one point in time,” Suzio said at his press conference.“He set a fire in a prison, yet he still earned 199 days early release credits?”

To date, 7,589 prisoners, many convicted of violent felonies, have been released early under the provisions of the retroactively applied Risk Reduction Earned Credits program. Where will they be living, asks State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz? The state, she points out, has only 1180 beds at half way houses and 3,500 behavioral slots available to those who receive early release. Who is supervising their release? Have they been given psychiatric evaluation before release? How are the credits applied?

“Many of the offenders are being granted RREC for simply signing up for a program rather than completing the program. For example,” Ms. Cruz said, “a sex offender who refuses to sign up for sex offender treatment as required, is instead signing up for programs such as study of the Philippines. Once they sign up they are receiving credits to get out early,”

In her research, Ms. Cruz cites inmates denied parole for failure to complete required programs while at the same time earning risk reduction credits for enrolling in programs they do not need. “For example a sex offender who refuses to sign up for sex offender treatment as required, is instead signing up for programs such as study of the Philippines. Once they sign up they are receiving credits to get out early,” said Cruz.

Ms. Cruz has asked the Department of Correction to calculate the recidivism rates of the 7,589 inmates released through the program.

The most recent study of recidivism within the Connecticut Department of Correction, completed in February of 2012 by the State Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division of the Office of Policy and Management, followed 14,398 male sentenced offenders after they were released or discharged from a prison facility in 2005, providing a five year review of recidivism. The study found that within five years of their release; 79 percent were re-arrested, 69 percent were convicted of a new crime, and 50 percent were returned to prison with a new sentence.

The study also found that; 50 percent of the offender group had served at least one sentence for violating the terms of their probation, 46 percent had served time in prison for a drug charge and 19 percent had served a prior sentence for driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs.
Reviewing the cases of 773 early release inmates returned to custody for either committing a new offense or violation of probation or parole, Ms. Cruz has discovered that many were re-arrested for: Violation of a protective order (felony); Carrying a dangerous weapon (felony); Attempt to commit arson 3rd Degree(felony); Burglary 3rd (felony); Attempt to commit arson 1st degree (felony).

Surely such data would be of interest to legislative Democrats in the General Assembly who may have prematurely approved the Risk Reduction Earned Credits program.

At one point in his news conference, Mr. Suzio hoisted in the air, none too steadily, a bulging file containing the prison discipline records of one of the graduates of the new Risk Reduction Earned Credits program.

Perhaps he should have mailed it to Mr. Lawlor.

Mr. Ghazal’s murder occurred four streets down from Mr. Suzio’s residence in Meriden, and it demonstrates, Mr. Suzio said during his inconvenient press availability, that theRisk Reduction Earned Credits program could use a bit of fine tuning, a suggestion to which the governor and Commissioner of Department of Prisons Leo Arnone so far have turned a deaf ear; now comes Mr. Lawlor sniping that Mr. Suzio is exploiting a murder purely for political purposes.

Pray, was the prospective provision in the death penalty abolition bill not inserted into that piece of legislation for political reasons? And was the abolition bill favored by Democrats and Malloyalists not created by politicians? And may it not be said of that measure that Democrats in the General Assembly, in the course of passing the bill, made rather extravagant appeals to emotional sentiments to insure passage of the legislation? In ordinary political parlance, we call this politicians being politicians.

Mr. Suzio, quite reasonably, is trying to assemble information that will allow him to improve a program hastily pushed through the legislature. So far, he has been met with prevarications, information supplied to him that is at best ambiguous if not misleading, and charges from Mr. Lawlor that he is exploiting for political purposes the pain caused by a criminal whose record WHILE INCARCERATED IN PRISON suggests that he never should have been given early release credits through the General Assembly’s hastily devised – and apparently non-adjustable– risk laden Risk Reduction Earned Credits program.

In passing the program, the General Assembly blew on a dandelion full of seeds that will take root everywhere in Connecticut, not only in Meriden. When a legislature enacts a bill, it must own the real time consequences of the bill. And the media should be asking: Whose risks are reduced by Governor Malloy’s and Mr. Lawlor’s and the Democratic dominated General Assembly’s Risk Reduction Earned Credits program?

But first, they will have to get past Mr. Lawlor’s political spam.