Category Archives: Politix

The Imperial Times

by Categorized: Politix, press criticism Date:

Ted Cruz (7004384226)

[Gage Skidmore photo]

Knowing my politics, you might not expect me to side with Ted Cruz against the New York Times, but I’m on his side in their current beef. 

Not that Cruz needs my sympathy. This couldn’t possibly have worked out better for him in terms of Republican street cred, public attention and book sales. He’s in a highly visible fight with the Times, and he’s winning.

One aspect of the Times behavior is especially execrable. It’s something they do a lot: fall back on a weak argument for keeping their own information private. After the Jayson Blair scandal, the Times made a lot of noise about cutting back on the use of anonymous sources.  But instead of doing this, they came up with ever-more ridiculous reasons for not coughing up that kind of info

In this instance, they have essentially accused Cruz of a dishonest act: making secretive bulk purchases to boost his book in the sales rankings. When you accuse somebody of something like that, you had better be ready to provide hard proof. Instead, here’s what we get from their spokesperson:

We aren’t going to discuss the details of how we do our analysis, since the whole point is to try to minimize the possibility that people can manipulate the numbers.

That’s just despicable and pretty typical.


The Brightness Control

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

Annie The Musical, (6626178677)The sun will come up tomorrow, and it will be brighter.

That has been the consistent message of the Malloy administration, starting at least as far back as February.  Some spin doctor told Malloy and his troops: keep saying the “brighter” thing.

At times, it has caused public officials to sound like they were doing a treacly light bulb commercial instead of the people’s business. Here is Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia explaning to WNPR (thanks, Diane) why it’s a good thing to gut the library budget. Because brighter!

And in describing the weekend budget deal, Malloy decided to bring on da poetry. You know, some fresh new imagery!

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today,” Malloy said in a statement.


Please bear in mind: it is not tomorrow yet. We’ll let you know when the brightness starts.

Drinking Carrot Juice With Lolita in Tehran

by Categorized: Politix Date:

GlassOfJuice and carrotsToday’s Times: 

“Everybody loves us here,” said Ned Lamont, a digital services entrepreneur and former politician, holding a glass of carrot juice offered by one of his hosts.


“I asked, what about the ‘Death to America’ slogan?” Mr. Lamont said, referring to the phrase that appears on many banners across the country and has long been shouted at public demonstrations. But the cleric responded that the slogan was from a different era. “He told us, ‘This is the new Iran,’ ” Mr. Lamont said. “Such messages are hopeful and different.”

The Husky Hushed Puppy

by Categorized: Politix Date:

Boss Tweed, Thomas NastIf you wanted to set up a situation in which corruption might someday flourish, you couldn’t do much better than the currently shadowy state of the UConn Foundation. By the way, I think we should make a point of using words like that to describe it. In reporting oil spills, pervasive hacks and volcano eruptions, we should always add, “It is impossible to rule out the involvement of the shadowy UConn Foundation.”  UPDATE: Foundation veep Derek Slap, on my show today, said the foundation is far more transparent than people realize. He’s right that you can look at their 990 and at their annual report. You can look at other kinds of balance sheets.  But you can’t see where all their money comes from.

A Keating story today makes clear how difficult it will be to pass an oversight bill this year. Here’s why that’s important.

UConn itself resists normal oversight on construction projects and the hiring of related consultants. Even after the disasters of UConn 2000 nearly ten years ago, in which the university’s contracting process was so sloppy as to pose a real danger to its students, UConn still kept a lot of its independence. 

Given that, I think it’s fair to ask questions about all these donors who supposedly don’t want their contributions to the Foundation to come to light. Why would that be, exactly? Usually, with donors, you can’t write their names big enough on a plaque to make them happy. But an opaque foundation screams out “pay for play opportunity.” As I said on the show today, nobody’s saying that’s happening right now, but it makes it hard to police in the future, if, for example, Sith lords take over the Foundation. 

Now let’s add in UConn’s dissolution of its Alumni Association — or at least its ties to same. Here’s how the President of the Alumni Association described it this week in a letter to members.

… as you are likely aware, the University’s Board of Trustees has voted to approve the consolidation of its alumni relations activities under the umbrella of the [shadowy] UConn Foundation.

If there was any possibility of arguing that the Foundation was a free-standing nonprofit, it vanishes when things like this happen. Slap says it’s free-standing, but the Foundation seems more like an extension of UConn. You can even see here how it sits inside their website. It coordinates and oversees university functions, at the direction (Slap would say “request”) of the Board. (By the way, check out the staff of the Foundation. It’s a small town.)

There’s a compelling public interest in seeing its list of donors right now and asking questions about how that dovetails with who gets what work at UConn. Maybe there’s nothing to see, but these conditions set the table for a banquet of knavery.


Porcupines & Bushels

by Categorized: Deep thoughts, Politix, Words and phrases Date:

No. This was not the working title for “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” That I know of.

The other day, the Porcupine, in explaining his own general lack of reticence, invoked Scripture thusly.

“Listen: I’ve never hidden my candle under a basket,” Malloy said last week.

Today being Easter, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the way that phrase has come down to us. Especially the last word. Also, there’s a nifty tie-in the “Wolf Hall” which kicks off tonight on PBS. We read it in the KJV as:

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”  (Matthew 5:14-15)

Like many before him, the Porcupine has assumed that a bushel is a basket. But to a person in the age of “Wolf Hall” and the KJV  it would more likely be an 8-gallon bucket.  It makes more sense that way. A candle under a basket is a fire hazard, and the light would seep through.

Bucket (PSF).jpg
Bucket (PSF)” by Pearson Scott Foresman – Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Now, who chose “bushel?” This is where it gets very interesting and all up in Wolf Hall. You have probably never heard of William Tyndale even though you use his jams  every day, especially if you are celebrating “Passover” right now or complaining that in this “moment in time,” Calipari is kind of a “scapegoat.” Check out the “impact on the English language” here.  It’s breathtaking.

Tyndale is a big deal in the world of “Wolf Hall.” Note this review.

[Thomas] More’s admirers have glossed over his crusade against Protestantism, which led to the torture and burning of men who distributed Tyndale’s English New Testament. Wolf Hall brings this back into the open, a reminder that religious steadfastness is not necessarily a virtue or flexibility the Mark of Evil.

So there you go.  If I end with “Godspell” will that wreck the mood? They rhyme “bushel” with “crucial.”

Not In My Name, Please

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized Date:

Last year I wrote about the unsightly danger of Dan Malloy turning into a hockey goon for the national Democratic party.

Twelve months passed and — guess what? — here he is in full goon mode, lining up the same spindly opposition player.

“He must have been beaten up really bad on the playground. Really bad, I think,” Malloy told BuzzFeed News when describing Jindal’s demeanor and what he said was a similar sharp-elbowed persona on and off camera.

I cannot tell you how distasteful I find this. First, the smirking suggestion that kids who get bullied on the playground grow up to be men who merit our disdain is repellent coming from anybody  but especially from a man who has whined ad nauseam about the treatment he received as a misunderstood, disability-laden boy.  Make up your mind, Governor. Do wretched little creatures deserve our scorn or our understanding?

I also fail to see how this serves the people who elected Malloy. We elected him to do a job, and in no way does that job involve kicking Bobby Jindal around or carrying water for politicos in the other 49 states. In particular, I expect him to make at least some effort to work cooperatively with Republicans and forge compromises that serve everybody’s best interests.

Renting himself out as a Chris Christie-style jerk-provocateur, he is unlikely to do this.  He already has pushed the drama button — which is a mile wide and set on a hair trigger — of Minority Leader Themis Klarides. How does this help us, here in Connecticut.

Malloy and Klarides photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR

Malloy and Klarides photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR


Well That Clears THAT Up

by Categorized: Politix, Words and phrases Date:

Statement By OPM Secretary Ben Barnes –

OPM has informed the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis of a potential discrepancy in its calculation of the expenditure cap growth rate for FY 2016. The growth rate that was included in the Governor’s budget proposal, 2.98%, was inadvertently calculated using personal income data beginning with the fourth calendar quarter of 2008 and ending with the third calendar quarter of 2014. The usual practice of OFA in calculating these growth rates is to use a range beginning with the third quarter personal income data in the relevant years. The statute is silent as to the exact data to use.

The discrepancy occurred when data was pulled from an outside vendor in January, 2015. A feature of this new vendor’s reporting system resulted in a one-quarter shift which was not recognized by OPM until after the Governor’s budget had been prepared and submitted.

Calculation of the expenditure cap using the 3rd quarter data would result in an expenditure cap growth rate of 2.58%, which would then result in a spending cap approximately $60 million lower than the cap presented in the Governor’s budget for FY 2016. The magnitude of this change is due in part to the fact that the quarters in question occurred in the midst of the the Great Recession, thereby leading to a lower rate of growth than in the period shifted one quarter later. Using the revised data, the Governor’s budget would be below the cap by $80 million in FY 2017.

On behalf of the agency, I personally apologize for this discrepancy, and commit to working with OFA and the legislature to identify the adjustments necessary to ensure compliance with the expenditure cap.

confusedBen Barnes

Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management

Robin Hood, Packing

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

I’m going to reserve judgment.

I’m not going to call this the lunatic bill of the 2015 session. Not yet. There’s a lot I don’t understand about this, I’m sure. But it sounds like a Daryl Dixon and Sarah Palin blind date. (Unless you buy into the whole thing about Daryl maybe being gay.)

It does raise a bunch of questions, starting with: what predators are we talking about? We don’t — officially speaking — have mountain lions or wolves. Except in North Stonington. Black bears? You’re going to drop your bow and bust off a cap in a black bear? Zombies? Is this about zombies?

Anyway, I always thought the whole idea of bowhunting was to even the playing field, a little.