Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Understanding Dodd

U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has vigorously opposed the nomination of John Bolton as a United States U.N. delegate.

This is not the first time Dodd has opposed Bolton, a friend of liberty, and a vigorous critic of Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and other dictators. Bolton’s critique of the Cuban and Korean dictators has been unsparing, truthful and very undiplomatic. A diplomat is supposed to be someone whose iron fist is sheathed by a velvet glove. Bolton, some of his critics assert, conceals his iron fist in a mailed glove.

Someone once suggested that the United States might want to offer a carrot to North Korea from time to time, in addition to beating it with a big stick, to which Bolton replied, “I don’t do carrots.” That blunt talk, Trumanesque in its inspiration, frightens the Dickens out of Dodd and others, who believe that the velvet glove of the diplomat should conceal a velvet fist.

In selecting Bolton as a UN delegate, Dodd said, Bush had made a poor choice. His opposition to Bolton has nothing to do with ideology. “There are plenty of other good people who embrace his ideological views who can go up," and still implement the major changes that Bush is pressing for at the United Nations. "John Bolton is not that individual."

In financial matters, you can be certain that when someone protests, concerning a prospective deal, “It’s not the money,” it’s the money. Dodd’s opposition to Bolton has everything to do with their respective ideologies. But what kind of “ideologue” does it take to become assertive when dictators like Kim Jong Il seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and dare one say the truth about Castro in the hallowed meeting rooms of the United Nations?

William F. Buckley Jr. was being less than diplomatic when he wrote about Jamil Baroody in his “United Nations Journal: A Delegate’s Odyssey” that the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia was a “protracted bore. A hundred speeches by Baroody is the ne plus ultra in UN-sadism.”

After quoting at length from an interminable and wrong-headed speech given by Baroody, Buckley concluded, “Well, I had run into Baroody. And the question of course is: Were he and the United Nations made for each other? One senator remarked, on learning in 1934 that Louisianans had sent Huey Long to the Senate, that Caligula had at least sent both ends of a horse to his senate.”

Not very diplomatic, all that.

Voting against Republican nominees is nothing new to Dodd: In his distinguished career in the Senate as a Democrat obstructionist, Dodd has voted down more than a dozen people selected by presidents, mostly conservative, who rubbed his ideological fur the wrong way. He opposed Bolton in his present position and was successful in keeping the nomination of ardent anti-Castroite Otto Reich from reaching the Senate floor.

Dodd has often said, untruthfully, that he is inclined to allow the president whatever choices he makes, though he has appeared to be rather prickly towards anyone who is willing to take active measures against home-alone Latin American tyrants such as Castro, the Ortega brothers of Nicaragua and, more recently, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whose ambition it is to turn a once prosperous pro-western country into a Cuban backwater replete with political prisoners and an intimidated press that kowtows to tyrants.

Dodd is doing a Reich on Bolton, he has said, because “at a time when we're so concerned about the credibility of our American intelligence, the wall between the policy setter and those who collect the intelligence must be sacrosanct; it must be a very tall wall. And (Bolton has) sought to break down that wall."

The danger Dodd fears is that a policy maker may stretch the facts he has received from impartial collectors of fact on the Procrustean bed of ideology. It is by no means certain that Bolton has done this, and these dangers are less troublesome in the case of U.N. delegates, who are never policy makers but conduits through which policy, shaped by others, is presented in an international forum.

The important differences between Dodd and Bolton are ideological. A creature of what some have called “the greatest deliberative body on earth,” Dodd trusts too much in the gentle art of persuasion – particularly as it applies to Fidel Castro, who is impervious to persuasion.

For Bolton, government is, as it was for George Washington, force. Anti-Castroites are realists, who understand that the gentle art of persuasion is effective only when it is applied to gentle men.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

This Way To The Egress: Gov. Rell's Budget

Who put the fox in James Amann’s bosom?

There was the Speaker of the House holding up a written reprimand from Governor Jodi Rell at a news conference and voicing his displeasure: “Let her veto it. Let her get carpal tunnel,” said Amann, engorged with theatrical rage. “I don't care."

In her reprimand, Rell had promised to veto a Democrat budget proposal that increased spending by 13 percent over the next two years. No way, said the governor.

The Democrat proposal also included an attempt to shoot the kneecaps off the state’s spending cap. Democrats have never been comfortable with the cap, a constitutional restraint on spending they were forced to accept in a deal that imposed on Connecticut a new income tax. The restraint on spending was intended to make the tax tolerable to conservative Democrats and wavering liberal Republicans, sometimes called “moderates,” without whose votes the income tax never would have become law.

Rell this year compromised the constitutional provision by agreeing to expenditures exceeding the cap in order to recover matching funds from the federal government. Finding a chink in her armor, Democrats who control the legislature by veto-proof margins, decided to exploit it.

Amann’s expostulation was the opening shot of a political miracle play that is put on in the legislature every budget season.

In Act 1, the antagonists and protagonist are all lovey-dovey: Having lived and worked together cheek by jowl all their political lives, they have become fast friends. In Act 11, the tension begins to build. Proposals are made; curses and cries rend the air. A mock budget battle unfolds in which antagonists appear to represent the interests of the poor and downtrodden, while protagonists, appearing to represent the interests of the state’s millionaires, find that all their wallets are missing. In Act III a budget is written and all parties leave the stage arm in arm, singing the Marseillaise.

The millionaires in the box seats cheer because millionaires generally don’t pay taxes; the poor in the galley cheer; and the rest of the audience, upon leaving the theatre, discover they have all lost their wallets and cannot redeem their cars from the theatre’s surly parking lot attendant.

“Oh no! We was robbed!” the departing audience cries with mock alarm. But this, too, has become part of the play. Flummoxed once again by the actors, theatre management and parking lot attendants: It happens every budget season, regularly as the unfolding of Spring. But, what the heck, it’s the only show in town, and the audience seems to appreciate the political hi-jinks, though the price of admission someday may beggar them all.

It was the often quoted American journalist H. L. Mencken who once defined the word “democracy” as “the right of the people to get what they deserve, good and hard.” The people of Connecticut, who voted for all the actors in the state’s bi-annual miracle play, soon will get their just deserts – because in a democracy, one always gets the government one deserves – good and hard.

Democrats have interpreted their veto-proof margin in the legislature as a mandate to spend at will. At a recent social gathering, Amann playfully and mockingly waved a table napkin, the equivalent of a white flag, in Rell’s direction. He might well have asked, as did Stalin of the pope, “How many divisions does Rell have?”

The answer is: None. With a veto-proof margin in the legislature, Democrats are exulting in their supremacy. Their hubris knows no bounds.

Using Rell’s modest increases in so called “sin taxes” as a spring board, the Democrat controlled tax writing committee now has unveiled its vision for the future. The committee has proposed a new graduated income tax schedule that would boost rates from 5 percent to 5.75 percent for “millionaires” who earn more than $265,000 per year. Millionaires who make more than a million dollars a year would be taxed at a maximum rate – for now- of 6.5 percent.

To Republican cries and protestations, Democrats reply that that they are only seeking tax increases from those who can afford to pay them. Presently, the top 7 percent of wage earners in Connecticut pay more in taxes than all other tax payers combined, and we have the distinction of being both the highest per capita tax state in the nation and the most anemic job producing state.

These distinctions are both our badge of honor and our white flag. But then, in a democracy, one always deserves the government one gets – good and hard.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bishop Smith's Progress

There was nothing ambiguous in the statement released by the six retired Episcopal bishops concerning a decision made by Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith.

After the consecration of gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the Anglican Church throughout the world was riven. Here in Connecticut, six priests from the conservative Anglican American council, differing with Smith who supported Robinson’s consecration, petitioned to associate their congregations with a bishop that was, in their view, more orthodox.

Smith’s response was Cromwellian: He delivered to the priests a notice that their removal was imminent – unless they reconsidered and chose to remain affiliated with him, a course of conduct their consciences forbade.

Smith’s letter of removal provoked an ardent response from six retired bishops.

“Bereft of the faith which alone establishes true unity in the Church,” the bishops wrote, “(Smith) now attempts to impose unity by uncanonical coercion against six faithful clergy in his diocese. Since Bishop Edward Fowler put John Bunyan in jail for 11 years in the 17th century, there has scarcely been such an example of brutal and unconscionable ecclesiastical tyranny."

John Bunyan was a tinker who turned to preaching and came into conflict with the famous Quaker George Fox.. Later imprisoned for 12 years by agents of the restored monarchy, Bunyan turned to writing. One of his best known works, a gem of English literature, is The Pilgrims Progress From This World To That Which Is To Come, published in 1678. Remarkable for its plainspoken style and spiritual fervor, the book served as a model for C.S. Lewis’ Pilgrim’s Regress.

Fowler’s works are less well known.

The enemy of the Anglican faith, according to one of the protesting retired bishops, C. Fitzsimons Allison, is “300 years of secularization. They can't hold a diocese together based on common faith, so the only way they can get unity is through the imposition of canons. This is merely an act of tyranny that is a kind of _expression of paranoia because (Smith) doesn't have the faith that can evoke the unity and respect from these congregations.”

Canonical thumbscrews become necessary when bishops impose on the clergy and laity unorthodox forms and beliefs that are unconvincing.

In an address he was invited to give to Anglicans in Wales during Easter 1945, C.S. Lewis focused, as only he could do, on the “necessary boundary lines” beyond which “your doctrine will cease either to be Anglican or to be Christian.”

Lewis did not doubt that unorthodox opinions may be arrived at honestly by men of faith, but he cautioned, “There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience” that can only “scandalize the layman.”

Defending such opinions, clerics with professional consciences “are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: What we complain of is your continuing your ministry after you have come to hold them.”

The point in Christian apologetics, Lewis continued, “is to defend Christianity, not ‘my religion.’ We are to defend Christianity itself – the faith preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers.”

In support of his view, Lewis easily could have produced the following lines written by Bunyan in prison:

“It is not every suffering that makes a martyr,

but suffering for the Word of God after a right

manner; that is, not only for righteousness, but

for righteousness’ sake; not only for truth, but

out of love to truth; not only for God’s Word,

but according to it: to wit, in that holy, humble,

meek manner, as the Word of God requireth.”

The Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church in Plano, Texas said, "These priests are standing up for the standard and agreed-upon understanding of human sexuality. It is the bishop who is at odds with the canon, who is trying to move them out and break the will of the congregation. [These priests] have the right to a bishop who is in line with orthodox teaching."

Roseberry is one of the six rectors from other states who preached in Connecticut in solidarity with the six priests that bishop Smith is attempting to bring to heel. In future meetings with the six priests, might it not be useful for their bishop to keep in mind Bunyan’s advice to speak the truth according to God’s word in a humble and meek manner? And a re-reading of Lewis’ advice to Anglicans in Wales might be helpful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blumenthal and the Ambiguities

Gov. Jodi Rell pledged to sign the civil union bill now snaking its way through the legislature only on condition that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the White Knight of Connecticut politics, assured her that the measure would not allow gay marriage.

Here, as always, language was important. Even though nothing in the bill under consideration “allowed gay marriage,” the bill would not be a barrier to gay marriage – unless there were a provision in the measure that reserved marriage for couples of the opposite sex.

The senate has resisted such language. Many states have adopted constitutional Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) to prevent courts from overturning traditional social conventions such as male, female marriage. States without DOMAs are especially vulnerable to court ordered legislation legalizing same sex marriage.

The Attorney General position in Connecticut historically devolved from the King’s Attorney in colonial times. The attorney general is historically and constitutionally mandated to provide legal advice and assistance to the governor and other administrative officials. Only recently – first under the administration of former attorney general Joseph Lieberman and now under Blumenthal – has the office overflowed its historic and constitutional banks.

Under instructions from the governor to provide advice that was “unambiguous,” Blumenthal could have found himself between a rock and a hard place, not altogether an uncomfortable spot for a well greased politician.

"If the attorney general in any way equivocates, is unclear or indicates that the bill would allow gay marriage,” Rell had said, “then I will ask the House to pass an amendment specifically prohibiting gay marriage and defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman. Such an amendment will be required in order for me to sign the bill."

The governor here was asking Blumenthal, a possible future candidate for governor on the Democrat ticket, to put his fingerprints on the legislation. At the same time, she had unambiguously pledged to oppose same sex marriage.

Blumenthal, as usual, rose to the occasion. "This bill," he responded, “clearly in no way expands the definition of marriage to same-sex couples. By its express terms as well as its legislative history and intent, the statute would maintain the current definition of marriage, which applies only to opposite-sex couples."

If the civil union bill passes both houses of the legislature and is signed by the governor upon assurance from Blumenthal that nothing in the bill “allows gay marriage” -- which is not exactly what Blumenthal affirmed -- it is likely that proponents of same sex marriage will first try to put before the legislature yet another bill establishing same sex marriages. That bill almost certainly will not pass in the legislature.

The proponents of gay marriage already are seeking redress from courts in Connecticut. The same lawyers who persuaded the Massachusetts Supreme Court that gays had constitutional right to same-sex marriage, are suing Connecticut (Kerrigan v. State of Connecticut) on the grounds that current statutes, regulations and common law rules violate Article First, §§ 8 and 10 of the Connecticut Constitution.

In both Massachusetts and Canada, same sex marriage proponents, frustrated by legislative opposition, successfully sought court decisions to secure their goals. The courts, in their decisions, simply voided thousands of years of statutory law. Statutes are to courts bent on social change what straw is to fire. Courts in Connecticut are likely to follow suit.

It is at this point that civil union legislation and the opinion requested from Blumenthal become relevant.

In future court proceedings in Connecticut, will the passage of a civil union bill be a help or a hindrance for opponents of gay marriage? In the absence of a constitutional provision defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, will courts be more or less likely to rule in favor of the proponents of gay marriage?

These questions already have been answered by thirty nine states that have adopted DOMA legislation. Clearly, the legislation is considered a bar to social disruptions caused by questionable court decisions. Though Blumenthal has never been shy in offering opinions, questions such as these may be beyond his purview as attorney general and are not touched upon in his advisory to Rell.

But these questions are pertinent to candidates for governor and legislative offices.

Blumenthal recently gave a wink and a nod to George Jepsen, who stepped down as Democratic state chairman to explore running for attorney general in 2006, a gesture interpreted by some as an indication that Blumenthal may throw his hat into the gubernatorial ring.

If Blumenthal leaves his politically safe redoubt to run as governor, he will have to answer unambiguously many of the questions he has sidestepped in his role as attorney general.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Time To Cry "Wolf!"

“The rich are very different from you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, to which Ernest Hemingway is said to have replied, “Yes, they have more money."

House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, the leader of the Democratic caucus, gets half of it.

Amann understands, as do most Democrats, that the rich have more money than you and I. For this reason, and because he and the Democrats have finely honed senses of justice, Amann and his cohorts plan to relieve the rich in Connecticut of some of their assets to help pay for an ever expanding budget. Once again the state has come up short in its budget.

Amazingly, there are Democrats in the state’s legislature who think they have been cutting taxes rather than spending money like the proverbial drunken sailor, though unimpeachable proof of their wild spending spree may be deduced by examining the steadily increasing bottom line of successive state budgets.

The last non-income tax budget was approximately half the bottom line total of the coming 2005 budget, and things got this way because majority Democrats, who control the production of budgets, cannot do simple math. Possibly they graduated from high schools that teach the new math, according to which a doubling of the state budget indicates a disposition to cut taxes.

In two decades – under the supposed “fiscally conservative” regime of two non-Democrat governors, both of whom styled themselves as “moderates” – the state has more than doubled its spending, news that has yet to reach the ears of Rep. Denise Merrill of Mansfield and Sen. Toni Harp of New Haven, the Democrat co-chairwomen of the budget and tax writing committees.

Said Merrill "After six years of cutting budgets, there's not a lot you can do. We've been cutting for years. Things are pretty lean."

But if “we,” presumably Democrats, have been cutting budgets for six years, the reductions surely would have registered in the bottom line figures; and yet, the record shows that they climb up, up and away. Is it not a case of language abuse to describe a budget that has doubled in two decades as “lean?”

The porcine budget making its way this year out of committee is a historic first. Never before in Connecticut’s history has a budget doubled within the space of two governors.

Democrats have for some time proposed to finance their rocketing spending by taxing millionaires, a suggestion taken up by Bill Curry in his campaign against Connecticut’s former felonious Governor John Rowland, and Republicans as often have warned that millionaires are different than you and me.

Not only do they have more money; they have more homes, some of which lie outside the prehensile grasp of the state’s tax collectors. Might the rich not declare their second out of state homes as their primary residence and thus avoid the plucking Democrats have in mind for them? Or might they not instruct their tax lawyers to make whatever accounting arrangements are necessary to avoid paying new taxes? Even now, with steep progressive tax rates in place, many millionaires pay less in taxes than the rest of us. Among the differences not noted by Fitzgerald is an ability to hire thoughtful tax attorneys to protect assets that make the rich so adorably different.

To all of this, Amann guffaws, “"I've been to many comedy shows in my life” – He has, after all, carved out a career for himself in state government – “but I get the biggest laugh when I hear it. Why would a millionaire leave this wonderful state? Most of them live here because it's a beautiful state, and they love the quality of life. There's no way the Democrats will walk away from a millionaires' tax."

Beauty, said the philosopher, is in the eye of the beholder, and the rich … well, they have different eyes than you and me, no?

Big spenders in the state are able effortlessly to pull the wool over the eyes of taxpayers because the Republican Party has been complicit in the spending spree. A serious resistance to spending might include such progressive proposals as the elimination of binding arbitration and tenure; or legislation that would require a higher percentage of education money to be spent on curriculum development and teacher salaries and less on administrative deadwood; or bills that would establish term limits and binding referenda, measures that in other states have succeeded in mitigating corruption and strengthening the representative structure of government; or the reconfiguration of state government.

Such measures give timeservers in the legislature chillblains, but they are wildly popular in the real world where the wolf is never far for the door -- and where householders suspect it will turn on them, once it has finished making a meal of the millionaires.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Pope

“Crossing The Threshold of Hope” by Pope John Paul II began as an idea for a television interview. Questions that were to serve as a basis for the interview, the first of its kind, were submitted to the pope by Italian journalist Vitorio Messori. But scheduling proved impossible, and the idea was abandoned.

However, not for nothing was John Paul II called “the pope of surprises.” The journalist’s questions, which had engaged the pope’s interest, lay on his desk for some time, and a few months later a large envelope was delivered to Messori. The pope had carefully considered and answered his questions.

It is a deeply philosophical and theological exploration of religious truths-- though, oddly enough, written in easily understood prose -- because the pope himself was a serious intellectual, a man whose faith had been internalized by deep meditation and prayer.

On the Sunday after his death, my wife and I attended church at a Polish mass in Vernon. When the service had been concluded, the pastor addressed his stricken flock, who had come together to receive the balm of a healing word.

The pope, he said, had visited his beloved Krakow, there to deliver to the Poles a message that would set them free – “Be not afraid.” His best friend at the time, an ambitious but devout priest, had resolved to keep up with the pope in prayer. Full of a rare enthusiasm, the priest boasted that he would not sleep while the pope was awake.

Prayers began after supper. At nine o’clock, the priest, looking in on the pope, found him still at prayer and returned to his devotions: and so at ten o’clock, at eleven o’clock… At two o’clock in the morning, finding the pope deeply immersed in prayer, the exhausted priest finally went to bed. It turned out that prayer was, for this pope, a spiritual restorative; somewhat like a brisk walk up a mountain, which the pope also did frequently. Clarity of thought was his special talent, a virtue perfected in prayer.

The Poles at the time of the pope’s visit were a deeply religious people. The words he delivered to them, “Be not afraid,” were multi-layered. On the one hand, a pope that had sprung from their soil and rich heritage was bringing to his people a religious message: “Be not afraid” were the words addressed to Jesus’ mother when the archangel Michael brought her news that God soon would be leaping in her womb. On the other hand, the message was political: Be not afraid in your struggle with Soviet totalitarianism, for God is with you.

For communists, the message was worse than a call to arms: The pope was calling upon the Poles to put on the armor of their faith.

Is it any wonder than an ambitious priest could not best the pope at prayer? The pope returned to this theme in many of his writings. It may well be the central message of his pontificate.

And the message is this: God is not a clockwork maker sitting in the heavens outside his self-sufficient handiwork. He is present in the world as the author of “the good’ and its sustainer. The creative act in Genesis, where it is said that God made the world “and it was good,” is a continuum, still unfolding. The God of Christians is a God who is “with us”– in every sense of the words. The pope rejected as a categorical error the whole line of thought from Descartes through Hegel and beyond that diminishes man’s freedom by relegating the author and sustainer of it to a cardboard cutout removed from the world and indifferent to it.

The extreme rationalism of the enlightenment period led inescapably to the French Revolution, in which the spiritual and moral patrimony of Christianity was torn from its evangelical foundation, a breech that rejected “God the Redeemer.” From the French Revolution, it was but a hop, skip and a jump to the materialism of the soviet state, which sought to extirpate the spiritual element in man.

That effort finally came to wreck upon the rock of Peter. God was with the Poles, as he was with the servant of his word.

Christian obedience, the pope said in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” is not, as Hegel thought, the obedience of a slave to his master. It is the “filial obedience” of a son or a daughter to a loving father who desires “their good.”

Now that this man has crossed the threshold of hope, those who loved him, Christian or not, will pray that God is with him.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Good News, Bad News: Watch The Bouncing Employee

The good news is that the bad news of several weeks past wasn’t so bad after all.

One of Connecticut’s number crunchers had said that job growth in the state -- which seems incapable of shaking a bad bout of recession -- was anemic. But the numbers, as it turned out, were mistaken. In fact, job growth was three times greater than had been reported.


The bad news is that the increase in job growth will be much diminished when MetLife, as a result of its acquisition of Travelers Life & Annuity, throws a thousand or more of its Connecticut employees out of the plane without a parachute. Once again, a promising merger has resulted in – What do they call it now? – mass firings. Wait, that language seems too blunt, too raw. How about this: The acquisition and merger has resulted in downsizings?

Downsized employees will feel less put upon with the velvet-gloved verbiage.

The good news is that the bigwigs at Snoopy’s company plan to sit down and hash the matter over with Governor Jodi Rell, who is said to be disturbed by reports that MetLife intends to fire/downsize such a large number of Connecticut’s workers.

Scheech! And they aren’t even unionized.

The bad news is that Rell, at her most persuasive, will not be able to change MetLife’s long term business plan, which likely will involve more firings – sorry, downsizings – followed by consolidations, followed by more firings.

“Merge, fire, merge, fire, merge, fire…” said a janitor at a downtown Hartford branch of a large bank when he was asked several years ago, “How’s business?” A short time later, the janitor himself was merged, then fired.

But wait, the good news is that after the shakers and movers at MetLife stop shaking and moving, the net loss in jobs for Connecticut may be, according to one optimistic estimate, close to zero.

And if anyone believes that, I have an insurance policy I’d like to sell them.

Oh to be a fly on the wall eavesdropping on the conversation between Rell and the merger and acquisition guys.

Scene: The law offices of Nasty Brutish & Short, where the governor and MetLife officials are meeting to resolve the issue.

Rell: Okay guys, let’s not beat about the bush. Whaddya want?

One of the Guys: Well, for starters you can tell Attorney General Blumenthal and that Hun from New York to bug off. We’re getting tired of their endless shakedowns. These litigation mad AG’s cost us lots of money, which, I may add, we’d rather give to our stockholders – or, on a good day, to our employees. How do these people think we pay our worker’s salaries?

Rell: Gentlemen, please. I’m a governor, not God. You can’t expect me to pull the reins on Blumenthal when there are no reins on him. It’s a free country, no?

Another Guy: That’s why we’re merging and downsizing -- because it’s a free country, yes?

Rell: Whaddya want?

Another Guy: Fewer lawsuits, lower taxes, a more favorable business climate. Despite our reputation, we really don’t like lobbyists you know. We regard them as a necessary evil in an environment in which the prosperity of over regulated businesses depends upon the kindness of mercurial legislators. We’d much rather a situation in which unimpeded market forces determine our business plans. But sometimes it’s not a free country, no?

Rell, a motherly tone infusing her voice and a tear glistening in her eye: You know, I remember a time in Connecticut when whole families used to work for Travelers Insurance Company, secure in the knowledge that jobs would be there for their sons and daughters and nephews and nieces… the little red umbrella… the socially conscious past presidents of Travelers and Aetna, Mother Aetna, all contributing to the well-being of their employees and the great city of Hartford…

A semi-obscene chortling fills the room.

Last Guy Standing: Yup, nostalgia; it’s a killer. Tell ya what Gov., we understand your limitations: a legislature that couldn’t control spending to save its life -- not that its life will ever be in jeopardy; beady-eyed, ravenous lawyers; the drift of your state away from reliance on consumption taxes towards payroll taxes; the flight of companies from Connecticut towards more friendly business environments… you know, the whole schmere. We get it! We know that governors and mayors don’t matter all that much in the global village. So, why don’t we do this: Let’s put some lipstick on this pig and get outta here. Our PR people can write up a press release that saves all our skins and gives the appearance that the issue has been resolved to the benefit of all. Then we can get home in time for supper. Whaddya say?

The governor’s tear slides down her peaches and cream cheek, shattering like broken glass on the highly polished room sized conference table of the law offices of Nasty Brutish and Short.

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