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Showing posts from August, 2011

Quantifying Media Bias

It is often said, mostly by conservatives, that the main stream media is biased in a liberal direction. Over the years, some studies confirming bias have drifted in: Slate magazine, for instance, polled its writers and discovered – big surprise! – that about 90percent of the lads and ladies identified themselves as liberal. A similar poll among the writers at, say, National Review likely would show a like degree of bias in a conservative direction. But these are not hard news sites.

Some time ago, a more “scientific” study was done in connection with major news outlets, and again – big surprise! – the pollsters discovered that a preponderance of mainstream news writers were liberal. The authors of that study may or may not have been surprised to discover the Wall Street Journal’s news pages -- not its commentary pages, which are widely recognized as conservative – rate, according to a study done by Tim Groseclose, as the most liberal in the nation.
Until Mr. Groseclose, then a professor…

The No Way Busway

Governor Dannel Malloy’s notoriously expensive busway proposition – on completion, the rapid transit project from New Britain to Hartford spanning 9.4 miles will cost more than $573 million, about $952 per inch – has engaged the interest of a few penny pinching legislators, among them state Senator Joe Markley and Rep. Whit Bette, both of whom have co-signed a letter written to House Speaker John Boehner urging Mr. Boehner to reject $460 million in federal funding for Malloy’s folly.

The busway is a prime example of politicians leveraging federal dollars: The federal government announces the availability of funds for a state project, say $460 million to build a ziggurat in New Britain. The governor is asked to pony up a modest $113 million, at a time when the state has accumulated crippling deficits and is bleeding jobs. Turning the proposition over in his mind, the governor, always alert to charges that he has fiddled while his state burns, decides to swallow the proposition, as they…

Privatization The Malloy Way

First, the good news, according to a story in CTMirror:
“As part of a larger shift toward privatizing services, the state Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is phasing out a state-run early intervention program for infants and toddlers over objections by public-employee unions.”
As a general rule, when a state service is privatized, workers are let go, and the private firm replacing the workers performs the service at a lesser cost because – both state payroll and incidental costs, such as pensions and health care, are also reduced. That is why some cost conscious states resort to privatization – TO SAVE MONEY, everywhere in short supply.

And now the bad news. Union objections to the announced privatization of the state run early intervention program for infants and toddlers was, as might be expected, fierce – because unions do not wish to see their dues paying union ranks diminished.

Union friendly Connecticut is sensitive to union concerns. And so:

Joan Barnish, a spokeswoman for…

The UConn Health Center Tar Patch

The University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) has for many years been Connecticut’s problem prodigal child.

The Democratic dominated General Assembly approved Governor Dannel Malloy’s then unbalanced budget the first week of May. And although it took two and a half months to finalize a budget that some still consider out of balance, the Malloy administration was never-the-less able to find nearly $1 billion to invest in a UCHC building program, not the first time the state has thrown money into the black hole in Farmington.
This year’s tax and spending budget allowed the administration to reap an artificial surplus of about $1 billion. Call it a make work for unions slush fund or a political hedge fund, the extra billion may be used much in the way that Tammany Hall of blessed memory used “walking around money” to purchase affection and votes.
Agents of the Malloy administration dickered for months with SEBAC, a coalition of unions authorized to negotiate contracts with the state,…

Shays, Simmons And Debt

Roll Call is reporting that former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, who will be filing papers soon to enter the race for the U.S. Senate, is planning “to petition the Federal Election Commission to allow him to raise money to pay off half of the remaining debt, then move the balance to creditors for Sohn to pay off.”

Mr. Sohn, Mr. Shays’ former campaign manager, “embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the former Congressman during his previous race.” Mr. Shays’ current $280,000 debt from his loss to present U.S. Rep. Jim Himes results in part from legal expenses related to the embezzlement.
Mr. Shays, according to Roll Call, “plans to separately fundraise for his Senate race and his House campaign debt.”
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, whose recent U.S. Senatorial campaign came to grief when Linda McMahon entered the race, will be supporting Mr. Shays in the coming struggle for U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat. Mr. Lieberman will be resigning from the Senate at the conclusion of his term. The…

Malloy To Wall Street: Take This

Governor Dannel Malloy has rented a trading floor for five years at $20 million, according to a brief piece in the Wall Street Journal:
“In his latest attempt to save jobs and keep businesses in Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy on Tuesday announced $20 million of incentives to keep UBS AG's flagship trading floor and other operations in this city.”

Shays To Enter Race For U.S. Senate

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays is poised to announce on October 3 his bid for the U.S. Senate, and Connecticut’s commentariate is already burbling. A Hartford Courant columnist has weighed in (pun intended) on a possible Linda McMahon-Chris Shays primary bout for the U.S. Senate:

“Will Linda McMahon's money and muscle pummel Shays, a conscientious objector during Vietnam who discovered his inner-hawk when during the second Iraq War? Shays will need a strategically brilliant campaign to undermine McMahon, who hasn't given up campaigning since her 2010 race crashed and burned.

“Will the well-connected Shays be able to tap into the kind of money to make a race against McMahon, who dumped $50 million into a losing race against Dick Blumenthal? McMahon, who promises to spend her own and supporters' money this time around, has already begun interviewing and hiring top staff.

“Can Shays revive the comatose moderate wing of his party and slay the far-right dragons guarding the doo…

Malloy Says Police Union Rejection Of Contract Offer Subjects Officers To Layoffs

Here is Governor Dannel Malloy’s press release following the rejection of Mr. Malloy’s most recent contract offer by Connecticut’s state police union:




(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement regarding the Connecticut State Police Union.

“Despite the unprecedented fiscal challenges facing the State of Connecticut, I refuse to compromise public safety. To be clear, I deeply appreciate the troopers’ service, as I do the service of all state employees. The troopers put their lives on the line every day, and we are a safer state thanks to their service. Also to be clear: I’m sensitive to the troopers’ concerns. But I have to manage the entire workforce, and given the massive budget problems I inherited, I believe asking all state employees to take a two-year wage freeze – in return for job security…

Gadhafi -- Game Over

As Libyan rebels first captured an important military base just outside the city and then streamed towards Tripoli, it was doubtful they would be able to retain the ground they would soon occupy. On other occasions, rebels had captured urban areas only to be pushed back by forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

No doubt that was the scenario anticipated by Mr. Gadhafi and his spokesman, Musa Ibrahim, hours before Tripoli fell to the rebels.

A newscaster at the state run media appeared hopeful.

The government, Mr. Ibrahim crowed, demands “an immediate halt of NATO's aggression against our nation and for all parties to sit down and begin a peaceful way out of this crisis. We believe unless the international community heeds this appeal, many people will be killed and terrible crimes will be committed."

Threats of blood and mayhem have never lagged far behind calls made by Mr. Gadhafi’s government for talks and reconciliation. And so, the newscaster, brandishing a pist…

Book Review: Taking Back The Courts What We Can Do To Reclaim Our Sovereignty

Taking Back The Courts What We Can Do To Reclaim Our Sovereignty
By Norm Pattis
Publisher: Sutton Hart Press
Price: $22.95

Attorney Norm Pattis, the author of “Taking Back the Courts: What We Can Do to Reclaim Our Sovereignty,” is viewed by other lawyers as a cross examination impresario. If this particular talent is a gift, it is one that in Mr. Pattis’s case has been honed throughout his years practicing law as a criminal defense attorney in Connecticut. Mr. Pattis is used to thinking outside the box – very quickly. He is disputatious, capable of mastering a complex briar patch of facts and legal precedents in quick time and effortlessly applying the relevant points in his summations.

And he has a pony tail.

Pony tails, however, may be deceptive. They evoke the silly sixties, free love, pot and the slow evisceration of the antique morality of benighted backward looking parents of the Woodstock generation. But as Mr. Pattis’ ponytail swishes through the chapters of his book, it move…

Too Big To Fail Banks Are Bigger

The 2,319 page Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly called the Dodd-Frank bill -- named after its architects, former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, now a Hollywood millionaire mogul, and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank – was supposed to insure that big banks could fail, obviating the need for expensive taxpayer bailouts.

A ban on bailouts is written into the legislation. Among the tools in the bill’s toolbox is a provision that provides for an orderly winding down of bankrupt firms. The bill includes a proposal that the Federal Reserve (the "Fed") receive authorization from the Treasury for extensions of credit in "unusual or exigent circumstances";

The ban on bailouts, which removes the principal protection that spurred those inept business practices that gave rise to the effective bankruptcy of major banks in the United States considered “too big to fail,” has not persuaded rating agencies to downgrade the banks.

Why not?

If the federal umbrella …

A Million Laughs: The Emergent Emergency

After the deal goes down, the chattering class gets an opportunity to weigh in.

Following passage of Plan A2, the Hartford Courant observed (“State Workers Play It Smart By Approving Deal -- Concessions: One of the best deals for government workers in America this year”) that there was something sweet in that pot for everyone, even taxpayers, who are out $1.6 billion:

“The agreement with labor eliminates the needless expense of longevity payments for new employees, increases the retirement age, requires a 3 percent contribution for 10 years to the retirement health care trust fund and other such provisions that will make pensions smaller and retirement health care less costly to taxpayers over time.

“Mr. Malloy estimates that the structural changes in the agreement will mean $21.5 billion in savings over 20 years — or $6,100 for each person in Connecticut. We applaud these projected long-term savings — but also see them as just a start.”These savings, however, will be considerably dimi…

Malloy’s Carrot And Cattle Prod

Politically, Governor Dannel Malloy could not afford yet another union “No” vote on his revised budget plan and, accordingly, the leaders of state unions have been more or less laying down the law to rank and file union members.

Some pro-union Democrats, Jonathan Pelto among them thought the governor had been wielding his big stick a bit too exuberantly. Mr. Malloy’s Plan A, rejected by the union rank and file, was generally regarded as being soft on sacrifice, a point emphasized by union leaders in a memo to rank and file workers sent out prior to the vote affirming Plan A2.

Mr. Malloy’s “clarified” plan following the disappointing union vote is, according to the memo, an agreement that guarantees union members security:

“We would receive four years of job security, an extension of our health care and pension plans to 2022, an irrevocable trust fund to insure there will always be retiree health care, three years of wage increases, a reaffirmation of the independence of the state empl…

Actuarial Doubts

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” – Benjamin Disraeli

Actuarial figures supporting claimed budget savings in Plan A2 -- son of Plan A, a slightly revised budget that Governor Dannel Malloy months ago submitted to the General Assembly for approval -- have been called into doubt for some time.

The Malloy budget approved by the Democratic controlled General Assembly early in May, for instance, contained a savings line that could not be actuarially verified. The Malloy budget simply assumes a savings of $270 million arising from a commitment from state workers to devise ways of saving money.

When Republican leaders -- who have been successfully cut out of the budget negotiation process by Mr. Malloy and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly – questioned the assumptions that underpinned the projected savings, Malloy communications director Colleen Flanagan intemperately responded that the figures had been verified by their actuaries and they were accu…

Malloy’s Way

Democratic governors, Jim O'Sullivan of National Journal writes, “argue that their approach is easier for their constituents, as both taxpayers and consumers of government services, to stomach,” largely because they are simpatico with unions. “In most cases, with cozier relationships with unions, they’ve approached the labor contract legislation as a collective-bargaining exercise, bringing union leaders into the process.”

Governor Malloy figures prominently in the National Journal story. Mr. Malloy, “repulsed” by budget cutting tactics in Wisconsin and New Jersey, has charged other governors with “scorched-earth, unilateral governing,” according to the National Journal. The news story does not mention Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo as one of the scorchers, and one assumes Mr. Malloy has not identified him as such, although the New York governor managed to put his budget to bed without raising taxes, for reasons of Democratic comity.

Scully, Pelto And JFK

In the course of reproving Jonathan Pelto, Patrick Scully – political analyst, author of The Hanging Shad political blog and a former communications director for the state Senate Democrats – first complimented his victim, always a good idea.

Mr. Pelto, Mr. Scully wrote, “is a thoughtful and accomplished media relations professional who is deserving of being heard on the issues facing the state.”

But – here come the slings and arrows – “He and other critics, however, are also hopelessly disconnected from the average Connecticut citizen and continue to wallow in the failed, far-left, now-fringe policies of 1970s.

“George McGovern is no longer relevant, nor are his policies. Today's Democrats (myself included) are in the camp of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, yes, Dan Malloy.”

Here is Mr. Scully’s Kennedy on the importance of tax cuts:

Mr. Scully should feel free to pass along the clip to Mr. Malloy, who just imposed on his state the largest tax increase in its hist…

Bridgeport... Again.

When a friend discovered some politician knee deep in a ripe scandal, he used to call him up and ask, “Does your mommy know you’re doing this?” His ratio of calls made to calls returned was abysmally low.

Apparently, Mrs. Gloria Beccaro, the 85 year-old retired nurse and mother of William Beccaro, a lawyer for the Connecticut State Senate, didn’t know what her son was doing, according to a columnist for the Connecticut Post.

"They (People for Excellence in Government) list me as chairman?" Beccaro asks. "Why am I chairman? I don't know anything about this."

“Alright then, what does she do for the PAC?

"’They reimburse you most every month for your cell phone service,’ I point out. ‘What exactly do you do for the PAC?’

“Beccaro: ‘Cell phone? I don't know. I don't even have a cell phone. What would they be doing reimbursing me?’" Pouring over the financial report of the People for Excellence in Government (PEG), Connecticut Post Columnist MariAn…

Sinatra Liberates A Prison

The Surplus State

Zach Janowski, the Yankee Institute investigative reporter singled out by incompetent SEBAC leaders in their baseless complaint to the attorney general’s office as a “so called” investigative reporter, has disclosed in his latest report that Connecticut has collected “$1.1 billion more taxes than expected last fiscal year, the same day that Gov. Dannel Malloy’s $900 million retroactive income tax increase went into effect.”

Although the Malloy administration failed to reach by some $400 million the $2 billion in cost savings measures it initially had demanded from SEBAC, the coalition of state unions authorized to negotiate contracts with the administration, the tax increases the administration imposed upon nearly everyone in the state as a part of its “shared sacrifice” effort has, perhaps unsurprisingly, yielded an “unexpected” surplus.

The Malloy surplus, made possible in part by an ex post facto income tax charge, should not astonish those commentators in the state who have previo…

The Moving Middle, Or Why Republicans Should Not Listen To Weicker

Some years ago Bill Buckley, the founder of National Review, was traveling in Ireland and found himself in a pub talking to a few convivial Irishmen – Is there any other kind? – about religion. Mr. Buckley later noted that many of his conversations while in Ireland, no matter on what topic they started, sooner or later ascended to religion. Ireland was, after all, the nursery bed of Christianity following the collapse of the ancient pagan regime.

In the course of the conversation, someone mentioned a prominent Irish atheist, astonishing Mr. Buckley, who asked, “Do you mean to tell me there are atheists in Ireland?”

“There are, indeed,” he was informed. “But you must understand that in Ireland there are two kinds of atheists – Protestant and Catholic.”

Mr. Buckley is rightly credited with having launched and shaped the modern American conservative movement. Within the conservative movement, there are now many mansions: traditional conservatives, neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives, …