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Showing posts from 2011

Gambling Then And Now, Blumenthal Then And Now

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

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

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

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

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

Along with other state attorneys general…

Donovan: North Korea is a Monarchy

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

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

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

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

"Donovan: Well, it’s still pretty much of a mystery right now. We’re seeing more of North Korea than we’ve seen in decades. I mean, the stories that were told to the populace about the former king and his exploits on th…

The Real Population Bomb

Quickly running out of people who could pay the costs incurred by retiring elders, the West is sitting on a population bomb: It is under-birthed.

Consider the figures: In bankrupt Greece, not only are entitlements too burdensome and costly, the number of people who might pay the entitlements have diminished considerably. In Italy, the Pope a few years ago was encouraging young people to have children, which raised a few protesting laughs. The birth rate in Italy is hovering between 1.2-1.3 children per couple – half the replacement rate. Half of Japanese women born in the seventies are childless. The number of childless Spanish women doubled from 30 to 60 percent between 1990 and 2000. The figures are not much different in Finland, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where 20 percent of 40-year old women are childless. Of Germans asked to state in a recent poll an ideal number of children, 16.6 percent answered “None.”

When the birth rate falls below the populatio…

O'Neill Not Ga-Ga over Gaga

An early note of the New Year;

Lady Gaga’s personal assistant is suing her boss $380,000 for unpaid overtime. According to her suit, Ms. O’Neill is also seeking unspecified damages.

The authoritative New York Post reports that Ms. Gaga – real name, Stefani Germanotta, was rather demanding. She required service on all occasions, at her upper West side duplex and in “stadiums, private jets, fine hotel suites, yachts, ferries, trains and tour buses.”

Ms. O’Neill was given no time for meals, breaks “or, at times, even sleep.” She was called upon by her boss at her “earliest waking hour” or for “spontaneous, random matters in the middle of the night,” according to court papers.

The Post reported:

“Part of O’Neill’s $75,000-a-year job was ‘ensuring the availability of chosen outfits’ — no small task considering her boss is best known for wearing a meat dress to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and dressing like a ‘human condom’ for a February appearance on ‘Good Morning America.’”

Regina Laudis And Delores Hart

Delores Hart, now a cloistered nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, moved from Hollywood to the Abbey in 1963.

Although she played in movies with famous Hollywood stars of her day -- perhaps most notably, Elvis Presley -- she described her time in Hollywood in the short clip below as being "wounded with life."

My wife Andrée spent some time at the Abbey around the time when I first met her, and we have visited it several times since. It is not only a refuge from a wounded and wounding world but a reservoir of religious and spiritual energy. This, no doubt, was part of the lure that drew Mother Delores away from the hurly burly of Hollywood towards the very heart of the Christian faith. It has made her wise, as is evident from the interview above.

The story here in The Day of New London  is well worth reading.

“Bethlehem (AP) — In the little town of Bethlehem, a cloistered nun whose luminous blue eyes entranced Elvis Presley in his first on-screen movi…

Choices, UConn And Bust

UConn is raising its tuition. Is anyone surprised?

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

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

Jonathan Pelto, himself an ardent liberal, reminds us that Mr. Malloy pointedly did not extend his “Shared Sac…

Understanding Kim Through Dramaturgy

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

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

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

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

Why is it always four years, I wonder? Why not ten, …

Christmas And The New Puritans

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

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

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

Just prior to Christmas, an inquiring reporter who called the commission “for clarification” was told that “Merry Christmas” always and everywhere was verboten. Also House members may not, under pain of de-frankification, wish their constituents a…

Christopher Hitchens RIP

Christopher Hitchens, every conservative theist’s favorite atheist, was a masterful writer. What one loses when a good writer dies is a piece of the future. Life goes on without you. Wouldn’t it be enlightening, to say the least, to know what Mr. Hitchens might have written about, just to pick at random one prickly current event, the recent loss of the United States’ most advanced drone to Iran? Now that his voice has been stilled, we shall never have the piece in hand. Others, no doubt, will take up the slack, but a valuable slant on things, what Soren Kierkegaard used to call “a point of view,” is now lost – because the viewer is irretrievably lost.

“To philosophize,” Miguel de Montaigne said, “is to learn how to die.” Montaigne invented the essay; Hitchens perfected it.

David Faces Goliath

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

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

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

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

Malloy Cool To DeStefano

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

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

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

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

This “man bites dog” story first appeared in the New Haven Independent, was picked up by NBC Connecticut and found its way into The Drudge Report. It will not be…

Hope And Change

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

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

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

All The Governor’s Men

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

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

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

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

The Courant And Connecticut’s Death Penalty

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

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

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

This is true enough. …

The Surplus State

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

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

“Mr. Malloy passed his budget through the General Assembly without being put to the inconvenience of discussing the matter with leading Republicans who, unlike union representatives, were wholly shut out of the process. The governor’s budget figures were such as to produce what I have called in the blog and in columns an artificial surplus of about a billion dollars. Real surpluses are produced when taxes are not increased but the state never-the-less realizes an increase in revenue owing mostly to increased business activity. Mr. Malloy’s artificial surplus is now flowing into a series of crony capitalist projects. Mr. Suzio is right about the UConn Health Cente…

Teddy And Barack

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

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

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

“For seven years this country has lain smothering under a burden like that, the incubus representing, in the person of President Roosevelt, the difference between 217 pounds and 6,000. Thanks be we got rid of this disas…

The State Of Fraud

When fraudulent activity on the part of state workers was brought to the attention of Governor Dannel Malloy, he let loose a predictable thunderbolt:

“I want to be very clear about something — if anyone in state government is aware of any fraud or abuse in any state agency, I want to know about it. Anyone with information should come forward so we can investigate it, and they should do so knowing that there will be no retribution whatsoever. I know that culture once existed in state government. It doesn't anymore."
The program as set up by the Feds, designed to provide immediate relief to nutmeggers who lost food supplies in a harrowing early winter storm, operated as the social service equivalent of a speed trap. Frauds, some of whom worked for the state, were quickly identified after they had accepted payments to which they were not entitled.

The governor is not the only one in state government familiar with a “culture” that punishes whistleblowers and frustrates responsible…

“Reliable Source” Says Fraud In State Department Of Social Services Is “Widespread.”

News 8 (WTNH) is quoting a “reliable source” to the effect that Connecticut’s Department of Social Services (DSS) “has been ignoring fraud for years because of staffing shortages.

“A person with years of experience working the state Department of Social Services Fraud Division says the alleged fraud announced by the Malloy Administration is just the tip of the iceberg, and what's worse, they know it and don't do anything about it…

The anonymous source told News 8:

"Fraud is never followed up on. There are so few people that handle the fraud cases that there are thousands of cases sitting in file cabinets, sitting on desks that will never get processed…

"The statute of limitations on cases, people move, people become un-locatable, so basically these files that are sitting on desks simply. They're just there, a waste of space."
Commissioner of DSS Roderick Bremby, on the job only 7 months, said In response, “I know of no fraud or abuse in any of our programs.&…

Mann’s Malloy

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

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

An account of the Napoleonic years written by Madam DeRemusat, Lady in Waiting to the Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s cast-off wife, is useful to historians precisely because the lady, she w…


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

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

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

In a stunning commentary, Tom Hartman note…

Malloy and Hearst

Sometimes the whale swallows Jonah, and sometimes Jonah swallows the whale. No one can be sure who has swallowed whom until Ted Mann’s magnum opus, a three week series on Governor Dannel Malloy, is published by the Hearst papers.

In a teaser, the Connecticut Post writes:

“Reporter Ted Mann spent a year inside the Malloy administration's inner councils, a year of extraordinary access to the governor and the men and women who tried to change the very nature of government in Connecticut. Read his riveting three-week series, beginning Sunday, Dec. 4, in the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.”

Inside Crony Capitalism

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

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

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

Following Solyn…

The Sinkhole State

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

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

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

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

Playing its strategy close to its vests, company officials declined to share details of the cost saving cuts with Connecticut’s Democratic congressional delegation. Re…

Frank Throws InThe Towel

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

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

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

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

Occupy Everything

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

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

Among the companies to be boycotted are:

“Abercrombie & Fitch [ANF 44.88 -0.79 (-1.73%)] - (yes, we have to stay away from Amazon, too!) [AMZN 188.99 -3.35 (-1.74%) - AT&T Wireless [ATT 27.21 0.17 (+0.63%) - Burlington Coat Factory - Dick's Sporting Goods (I was surprised, too!) [DSG-FF 27.745 -0.76 (-2.67%) - Dollar Tree [DLTR 76…

Father Dick

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

By the 1950’s, it had been common for more than century for males in a family to become priests. The families that gave their children to the church usually were large. Just before the Civil War, the Mother Superior of a convent in Boston who had faced down a mob that threaten to burn down the papists convent was a member of a large family. In a second round of anti-Catholic violence, after the nun had told the now whiskey fortified mob to “disburse immediately or the bishop of Boston,” who had the requisite forces at his command, “will push you into the sea,” the drunken mob did burn and sack the convent. They had been incited by Lyman Beecher, the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe…

Malloy’s Business Model

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

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

The practice of enticing a company to produce…