Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kim Davis, Peeple and the Breathalyzer Raccoon

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Nobody’s perfect. Nobody’s impeccable or inerrant. Not even the pope, right? (Catholic doctrine says the pope is only infallible when, essentially, he says he is.)

Our culture panel The Nose is struggling this week with the Y’allta summit between Kim Davis and Pope Francis. The latest from the Vatican is: don’t make too much of it:

“The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a statement released on Friday morning.

That fits with a slightly more Nixonian (or Segrettian?) theory by Charlie Pierce, who speculates that the U.S. papal nuncio and a cabal of Ratzinger sympathizers hip-checked Pope Francis out into the whirl of the culture wars by walking Davis into the room with him, thus undermining Francis’s overall message of socio-economic justice. It’s entirely possible, and Pierce makes a good case. Or it could just be lousy staff work. After four decades of reporting, I’m convinced that, when public figures say or do something really stupid or embarrassing, 65 percent of the time it’s bad staff work. The famous guy doesn’t know as much as we think he does. He depends on his staff. Francis, much of the time, seems to be writing his own scripts, but maybe not so much on a dizzying U.S. tour.

Or you can believe, as one of our panelists does, that the secret Davis meeting is the reality, and the Pope of Good Feelings is the deceit. I know the canonization of Junipero Serra will come up in this context.

Historians agree that he forced Native Americans to abandon their tribal culture and convert to Christianity, and that he had them whipped and imprisoned and sometimes worked or tortured to death.

Having lived through the ’60s, I thought a deeper loss of faith in institutions would be unlikely, but I think we’re living through one now. I saw “Black Mass” last night with my son, who did not share my level of indignation at FBI agent John Connolly Jr.’s culpability in White Bulger’s crimes. He told me he doesn’t count on law enforcement to choose the righteous path.

So what replaces the old institutions? The rule of the mob! This week we’re also talking about Peeple, an app that will be, in one writer’s words, “basically Yelp, but or humans. “ Actally, everybody uses that analogy.

Peeple, the app, is the Yelp for, well, people. You use it to rate your fellow human beings based on things like their personalities, their professionalism, and how good they are at dating. There’s no opt-out, either. If you are drawing breath, someone—anyone—with the app can rate you and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You will be weighed and measured and probably found wanting.

I’m going to repost this link, because there’s another irony here. The masses, who are going to be entrusted with the evaluation of human beings, are easily confused by two things with the same name.

The masses are also easily tricked. They believed in Breathalyzer raccoon. RocketRaccoonThey retweeted a Harry Potter apartment that probably isn’t real.  And we know from yesterday that people will believe a falsehood. A former president explains how this is done:  “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

Who will save us? Geniuses, of course. We want to talk on the show about whether the MacArthur grants are a good thing.



An Open Letter To Roger Kern of Essex

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Nader And some random attractive woman. Sylva Cancela photo.

Nader at the museum opening with some random attractive woman.
Gary Lewis photo.

I don’t know who you are, but your letter to the Courant today was so utterly wrongheaded that I will take the liberty of reprinting it in full before I discuss its flaws.

My reaction to the front-page article “Safe For Viewing” [Sept. 27] is one of both amusement and bewilderment. It must be a slow news day when such a non-event as dedicating a museum of tort law rates half of the front page, in comparison to such minor events as the pope’s visit.

While Ralph Nader may be the media’s darling gadfly, he might be more aptly described as the Don Quixote of the consumer movement, tilting at windmills in the name of the hapless consumer.

Really, an exhibit “honoring” the infamous McDonald’s coffee cup case? If there was ever a case inappropriately rewarding bad consumer judgment, this was it. Who would’ve known that hot coffee could scald you if you held it between your legs while driving?

There is a reason this museum was not hosted by a major city, the same reason the Museum of Law in Chicago closed in 2011: Nobody cares.

Roger Kern, Essex

Let’s begin with the most obvious thing. You haven’t taken five minutes to acquaint yourself with the facts of Liebeck v. McDonald’s. You’ve just glugged down whatever swill was poured into your mouth by Limbaugh and Fox.

So: Stella Liebeck, 79, was not driving. She was in the passenger’s seat. Her grandson, the driver, had come to a full stop so that she could add cream and sugar to her coffee. She placed the cup between her knees and removed the lid; the contents of the cup spilled onto her. Here is a description of her injuries.

The sweatpants Liebeck was wearing absorbed the coffee and held it next to her skin. A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting [and debridement].

Let’s pause there and say, Mr. Kern, that whatever you think about this case, the term often used for it, “frivolous litigation,” does not apply.

But let’s go a little further. Liebeck attempted to settle the whole thing for $20,000, and McDonald’s refused. Bad idea. The resulting trial included, of course, discovery. McDonald’s was forced to cough up documents showing more than 700 claims involving burns from Mickey D’s java. These included other third degree burns.

Why did so many people have this problem? Other internal McDonald’s documents showed that the chain made a special point of keeping its coffee very hot.

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultant’s advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste …Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

The other widely publicized part of this case that isn’t true involves the damages. What most people heard about, at the time, is this:

The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales.

What they didn’t hear was this:

The trial court subsequently reduced the punitive award to $480,000 — or three times compensatory damages — even though the judge called McDonalds’ conduct reckless, callous and willful.

And in fact nobody knows the ultimate number, because the case was settled in secret. Anyway, the one “fact” that you “knew” about this case — that Stella Liebeck was driving with a cup of coffee between her knees — is wrong.

If you get interested, there’s an entire documentary about the case and its relation to tort law.

Now, as to Nader himself, the legacy of the “darling gadfly” who spends his life “tilting at windmills, is better described here:

More than any other single person, Ralph Nader is responsible for the existence of automobiles that have seat belts, padded dashboards, air bags, non-impaling steering columns, and gas tanks that don’t readily explode when the car gets rear-ended. He is therefore responsible for the existence of some millions of drivers and passengers who would otherwise be dead. Because of Nader, baby foods are no longer spiked with MSG, kids’ pajamas no longer catch fire, tap water is safer to drink than it used to be, diseased meat can no longer be sold with impunity, and dental patients getting their teeth x-rayed wear lead aprons to protect their bodies from dangerous zaps. It is Nader’s doing, more than anyone else’s, that the federal bureaucracy includes an Environmental Protection Agency, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and a Consumer Product Safety Commission, all of which have done valuable work in the past and, with luck, may be allowed to do such work again someday. He is the man to thank for the fact that the Freedom of Information Act is a powerful instrument of democratic transparency and accountability. He is the founder of an amazing array of agile, sharp-elbowed research and lobbying organizations that have prodded governments at all levels toward constructive action in areas ranging from insurance rates to nuclear safety.

Maybe you don’t like some of those things, Mr. Kern, but most of them are pretty reasonable. The great thing about seatbelts and padded dashboards is that they work for liberals and conservatives.Take a drive up to the tort museum. It’ll be a much safer drive, thanks to Nader.

Have a nice day.






What Rough Beast?

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From grades 7 through 12, I attended a boys’ school called Kingswood. It was in the process, as I graduated, of merging with Oxford, a girls’ school.

Alumni of the school this week received an email inviting comment on a proposed “a new graphic identity for KO — a key part of a wayfinding signage system.” Let us set aside for a moment the question of whether “wayfinding” is a legitimate word in any language other than the Ideo-speak of corporate consultants, as a well as the question of whether a signage system could ever be other than “wayfinding.”

I want to talk about what’s happening to mascots. The mascot of Kingswood-Oxford is a Wyvern, which is a kind of dragon. The look of the Wyvern has always been pretty nonspecific. It doesn’t even always face the same way. But I would say it leans more Puff than Smaug. That’s what it looks like on a kid’s lacrosse jersey. And here it is on a moisture-wicking t-shirt.
Now, get ready for the proposed rebranded Wyvern.


newwyv I know! What could be more welcoming, more suggestive of fun and sportsmanship? Bear in mind that KO now accepts even 6th graders,so this would be their symbol, this murderous spawn of hell.

This, alas, is a trend.

The notion that a mascot ought to be fun and friendly is every bit as jeopardized as the subtext: that sports are about play and camaraderie, as opposed to domination and aggression.

Some of KO’s rivals do have more playful mascots. Westminster has a bird with no feet — weird, I know — called a martlet. They make funny videos about Marty the Martlet.  Loomis-Chaffee has a pelican partly because a pelican is a long-standing symbol of going-the-extra-mile to nurture. Loomis-Chaffee, like others before them, incorrectly believes that pelicans will feed their own blood to their young. Anyway, more funny videos. I would say that, in terms of its obvious lust to roast your visiting middle school soccer player with flames and then feed on her entrails, the Wyvern is in a class by itself.

But it is, as I said,  also a trend. UCONN recently took its friendly, happy husky logo and turned into something that wants to kill Liam Neeson. Maybe college is a little different (although the UCONN switch was not uncontroversial.) Could I suggest that, not merely in the case of KO but in other places where kids play games, there’s really no need to become more menacing?


This Is What It Sounds Like When The Finches Cry

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You tell’em, Cersei.

Ain’t it the truth?

On Monday night, the phones of Connecticut political junkies started buzzing. The impossible had happened in Bridgeport, unless you believe — as we all apparently should — that nothing is impossible in Bridgeport.

As of this afternoon, I would have bet on Bill Finch to hold on to his mayoralty despite losing last week’s primary. I could offer up a big explanation for this, but why bother? It turns out that Finch’s plan — to have a stooge secure a place on the ballot for him — has crumbled into dust. The plan was always a little risible. The imaginary party was called the Job Creation Party, which was uncomfortably close to the truth. The candidate, who stepped aside after two days, is a used car salesman. You know you’re pushing the envelope when Joe Ganim accuses you of “making a mockery of the election process.” 

That was the Ganim who, in 2003, was convicted on 16 out of 22 counts of corruption and ended up serving seven years of his federal prison sentence. Ganim, in one of history’s less probable comebacks, beat Finch and Mary Jane Foster last week in a primary. Foster dropped out of the race earlier Monday. And then…well, presumably you’ve clicked on the links. The party missed the deadline for putting Finch on its line.

Finch has just a few options. Foster will probably get back in. He’s not getting her ballot line because she hates him. One thing about Bridgeport: nobody is in the process of sorting out his or her feelings toward anybody else. People are allies or enemies already. It would seem unlikely that either of the other holders of ballot lines — Republican Enrique Torres and Charles Coviello of the New Movement Party — would relinquish their spots to Finch, but I think we’ve learned in recent months never to say never in Bridgeport. A sitting mayor has a lot of capital to trade with — and maybe Finch especially. One of the knocks against him has been the existence of “ghost positions,” funded but not filled, in his city budgets. People have in-laws, girlfriends, cousins, high school buddies, you know?

His other option is a write-in campaign. Let us not forget the mighty Jarjura, who racked up about 8,000 write-in votes on his way to winning in 2005. However, Jar-Jar faced no adversary as formidable at Ganim, and he was able to make his campaign essentially about one thing only: how to do a write-in vote.

This, from AP:

A cable television commercial that ran 109 times a day for two weeks showed Jarjura going into the voting booth and demonstrating how to cast a write-in vote. The campaign also rented three voting machines, set them up in headquarters and bused in elderly residents for coffee and voting demonstrations.

Jar-Jar also ran in a slightly busier field. He won the general election with only 38 percent of the vote. Even with five candidates running in Bridgeport, I think the winner will need a few more points. Still, never say never.

So we have one very pissed-off finch. Scrub wren female Vocalising444

This is also a major black mark for Finch’s longtime Richelieu, Adam Wood.

There are chiefs of staff, and then there are the chiefs of staff who are disliked and feared and who are suspected of being the true intelligence behind the throne and the author of many of the throne’s most brutal power plays. Matt Hennessy was that kind of COS for Eddie Perez and, in a different way, so was Lisa Moody for Jodi Rell. I don’t know Wood, but that’s his reputation, which includes being a know-it-all. And make no mistake, this is on him. Maintenance of the Stooge Candidacy is not a job you delegate. You know there will be challenges and invocations of technicalities when the day comes for you to make your play, so you memorize all the rules and you know all the details.

Except he didn’t. The likelihood that these two men will open a bed and breakfast — The Wood and Finch? — after this debacle has to be rated very low.




Dearest Frenemy

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Christopher Shinn, second from right

Christopher Shinn, second from left

In 1999, I received what was probably the most devastating email or letter of my life. It came from a stranger.

I’m interviewing that person, live, for an hour, today.

The writer of the email was enraged by something I’d written. Ironically, the thing that made him really mad had been edited into the piece by David Eggers without my foreknowledge. Beyond that, however, lay a craggy jigsawed coastline of longstanding contempt. Nothing new there. Animadversion is written into my life contract. But this writer was a playwright with a special gift for seeing into people. In his denunciation of me, he scraped at the rawest nerves of my soul, the infected splinters of self-doubt and self-loathing that I normally reserved for 3 a.m. sessions of miserable introspection.

In the worst possible way, I felt understood.

Getting angry was’t even an option. He was, from my jaundiced perspective, too right about me. And it was clear that he had grown up in the Hartford area, smart, sensitive, aspiring. I stood in his mind for all the stifling complacency and mediocrity he had rejected. It was an odd sensation, to feel so deeply wounded and so admiring in the same moment.

I looked up his New York City number and called it. I got a machine

“Hi. This is Colin McEnroe. I got your email. What did I ever do to you?”

Within 24 hours, I got a second email. “Imagine my loathing when I heard your voice …” it began.

I think I giggled then. I giggle now. I have been deeply hated by simpletons, but this was my first experience of being despised by somebody estimable. It was kind of thrilling. By then I had looked him up. He truly was an emerging, significant young playwright. He was, as he pointed out to me, welcome in the kinds of New York literary salons I probably dreamed of visiting. I was, he implied, the sarcastic nobody leaning against the gymnasium wall, making fun of the classmates dancing. He and Dale Peck, by contrast, were tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York.

What really bugged him was a joke about Dale Peck in my piece. The original joke had been about David Foster Wallace. (But it wasn’t really a joke about Wallace. It was a joke about how Michiko Kakutani might feel about Wallace.) I assumed Eggers changed the joke out of friendship with Wallace, although in retrospect he may also have been feeling protective. Wallace allegedly wept for a whole day over one paragraph in a not-all-that-negative Kakutani review of his first book. I didn’t like the choice of Peck who was a little too obscure and way too easy a target. (Hating on Peck had become an industry among certain New York cognoscenti.) As the kid leaning against the gym wall, the only shred of honor I could cling to involved making jokes about the school’s star quarterback (Wallace), not some lesser divinity. Anyway, there was no point in complaining because by that time the piece really had become a cult phenomenon. I read in one magazine that “Colin McEnroe” might be an Eggers nom de plume, because really, how plausible was it that some nobody had written this? (Which kind of drives home one of the points of my emailer.)

I get why that joke, specifically, bothered Christopher Shinn so much. He felt privileged to know and befriend Dale Peck. And now this vacuous and forgettable annoyance from his hometown, a Ron Burgundy with Ivy League pretensions, had rabbit-punched him. I would point out, in a puny caviling way, that one of the virtues of being a small town nobody is that you CAN make jokes about giants like Wallace without worrying that you’ll run into them somewhere. Terry Gross recently asked John Oliver if it would be awkward to be at a party with Sting, whom Oliver had casually and hilariously stung. Oliver said the whole point, in his profession, was never to be at a party with Sting.

I wish I had the emails. I saved them for a long time. They were really great, and I have watched Shinn’s rise with an enjoyment fueled by being a very minor Aguecheekian character in his Dramatis Personae. Once, when I was still on WTIC, where takedowns of me were a huge hit with the audience, I tried through an intermediary to get him to be on the show and speak to me as he had in the emails. It didn’t happen. One day he friended me on Facebook. “I thought you hated my guts,” I wrote back. That was ages ago, he replied.

And it was. Especially for him. He almost died in the intervening years. And he solidified his position as playwright to be reckoned with. He’s back in Hartford, rocking Yard Goats regalia and pretty clearly enjoying his visits to old haunts. I am one of those haunts, and today, he will visit me.

The Good Cop

by Categorized: Deep thoughts, etc., Politix, Uncategorized Date:

Pope Francis Photo 2
It’s kind of hilarious watching people, including Connecticut’s pols, gear up for the U.S. visit of Pope Francis, the greatest pope of my lifetime, maybe the greatest pope ever.

Note to Eizabeth Esty. It is a double mistake to say: “I am a deep person of faith.” First of all, I think you mean, “I am a person of deep faith.” Second of all, that is the kind of thing persons of genuine deep faith do not compelled to announce about themselves. Consider the exhortation of Jesus in Matthew 6:5.  When politicians start trotting their faith around like a show horse, asking them to explain what they mean in detail is not a gotcha question.

What’s more interesting is the way in which Pope Francis stands in explicit and implicit moral opposition to so many things that are wrong in the U.S. and with the U.S.  I am reminded of Lenny Bruce’s famous routine in which Jesus and Moses show up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Christ says to Moses, “My visit took me to Spanish Harlem where there were forty Puerto Ricans living in one room. What were they doing there when this man”—Lenny pointed to the Cardinal—”has a ring on worth $10,000?”

American bishops, get ready for some questions about how you live — and not just in terms of opulence. Do you live as though you took climate change seriously? Because Francis does.

All Americans should get ready. Francis is — in the best possible way — a Marxist. From the Times:

“I think what he criticizes in the U.S. is the absolute freedom and autonomy of the market,” said the Rev. Juan Carlos Scannone, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Colegio Máximo, a prominent Jesuit college near Buenos Aires. He taught the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who would become Francis, as a seminarian and became a friend. “We should admire the U.S.’s democracy and the well-being of its people, but what Bergoglio would criticize is the consumerism: that everything is geared toward consumerism.”

Francis has long been troubled by what some Argentines of his generation call “savage capitalism.” They see the United States as the home of mining companies and agribusinesses that chew up natural resources, as the military power that propped up dictators during the Cold War and as the neighbor that tries to close its border to migrants fleeing hunger and violence.

He has every right to ask us why we’re doing so little about climate change, why our ungenerous refugee policies are so clouded by xenophobia, why we tolerate a system in which our children are 11 times more like to die by guns than their counterparts in developed economies, why we have 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners, why we use our bail system to hold poor people in jail without trial, sometimes for years…well, let’s just say he may have a whole lot of righteous and rightful questions.

So all you A-Listers lining up your tickets, try to have a few answers.



The Trump Straw Man

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

Donald Trump hair from above and behindSupporters of the Democratic Party in Connecticut received an email this week, ostensibly from new party chairman Nick Balletto. Balletto has been a pleasant surprise so far, offering up gentlemanly words upon the resignation of his opposite number Jerry Labriola and moving swiftly and sensibly to change the name of the party’s annual dinner. That makes me doubt that he had much to do with this very stupid email

Donald Trump is the classiest, most luxurious Presidential candidate of all time (just ask him).

His brand has risen him to the top of the polls, and now Trump-brand Republican candidates are running for office across Connecticut to control our towns, cities, and communities.

Add your name to help us defeat Trump-brand Republican candidates in Connecticut — we need to mount an effort starting TODAY to elect Democrats across the state >>

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want guys like Donald Trump running my city.

Sign up before midnight TONIGHT to kick these ReTRUMPlicans to the curb in November.


Nick Balletto

Setting aside its garbled English, this communication makes no sense at all. Here is a list of contestable mayor’s races. Can you spot one where a Republican candidate who resembles Trump is running? Even though I can’t claim much knowledge of many of these towns, I doubt there are any “guys like Donald Trump” in play, and if there are, the Democrats should name them instead of misting everybody with their spray bottle of bogeymen.

I’m sure there was a national memo sent out: for the immediate future, tar your Republican rivals with the stickiness of Trump, whether it makes the slightest bit of sense or not. I do understand this is politics. I do understand that the Republicans, for their part, have spent seven years slinging around the notion that Barack Obama — a Democrat who has mostly been egregiously pro-business and heart-sinkingly in the thrall of Wall Street, capitalism and big banks — is a socialist.

So nobody ought to expect fair play from either side. How about plausibility? Obama is no socialist, and Roy Zartarian, the Republican candidate for mayor of Newington, is nothing like Donald Trump. Probably. I don’t really know, but I promise to watch him carefully for signs.

Mr. Balletto, you have an office full of bros and frat boys. If you do not keep a close watch on them, they will make you look like an idiot. Maybe even a “Trump-brand” idiot. Whatever that is.


City of Hartford: Jedi Masters Need Not Apply

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lukeIt seems likely — maybe even inevitable — that the Democratic Town Committee will endorse Luke Bronin for Mayor of Hartford tonight, and, with each new development in the story of the 2015 campaign, it becomes more and more difficult to see how the incumbent mayor Pedro Segarra can win his primary.

Even so, that has not stopped Jonathan Pelto, a blogger in eastern Connecticut, from launching an overheated attack on Bronin. You can read it here.  Some of it’s unfair. Some of it’s silly. Some of it might make a little sense under different circumstances.

The unfair part is the suggestion that Bronin has been in Hartford for only two years. By the time you click on the link that may have changed. I suggested to Pelto that he correct it. Pelto has been flyspecking Bronin’s LinkedIn listing. Bronin’s residency in Hartford has been off and on, starting with his arrival in 2005 to work on the first (and unsuccessful) Malloy gubernatorial campaign. Luke  lived in Hartford from 2006 to 2008, and then started zooming off to India, Afghanistan and D.C., doing impressive things, while his wife Sara held down the fort back here. (She has been a professor at the UConn law school since 2006 and has served on and/or chaired a whole bunch of Hartford commissions and panels during that time. She’d be a great mayor, but apparently that’s not an option.) While he worked in D.C., they were renovating their brownstone on Elm Street — a renovation for which they (well, Sara, really) won an award.  By 2012, Luke seems to have been back in town. So he’s been on site for five or so of the last ten or so years. The Bronins are a little different from you and me. They are almost dauntingly high-achievement-focused, and if some of their goals involve  commuter marriage periods, that’s OK with them.

It’s not an ideal timeline, if you believe your mayor should be a fully committed homeboy, but maybe we have to acknowledge that it’s 2015 and that some of America’s more dynamic people are a tad less sedentary.

It’s notable that the type of critique Pelto is making — that Bronin is a rich, over-qualified carpetbagger who hasn’t paid his dues and is using this office as a stepping stone — was made implicitly and explicitly by the campaigns of two of his former rivals, John Gale and Bob Killian Jr., both of whom eventually dropped out and endorsed Bronin.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: I overreached in the wording of the previous paragraph.  Neither Gale nor Killian was explicit about that. What I should have said was that supporters of both candidates tended to go after Bronin’s dilettante status, in pretty much the same language that Segarra and Cruz supporters now use. 

The fairest criticism — and it does worry me a little — is that “stepping stone” thing. You can see now New Haven really benefited from the 132-year reign of John Destefano. A forceful leader with real visions can get a lot done …if he has the time. (I realize there are downsides. Pace, Mr. Bass.) If Luke is a one-and-done mayor, Hartford’s progress will be limited. And yes, Mr. Pelto, Bronin is ambitious. They all are. They all think they’re going to be president. If you imagine that Chris Murphy has not thought carefully and on many occasions about what he will say in his First Inaugural Address, you’re kidding yourself.

What renders the whole conversation moot is that Hartford has almost no choice at all except for Bronin. Pedro Segarra has been the city’s mayor since June of 2010. He’s a nice man, but he’s a terrible manager. Managing usually boils down to two things. You have to pick the right people, and then you have to hold them to your standards. Segarra can’t do either.  The rhythm track of his five years has been dysfunction, dysfunction, dysfunction. Some problems lie with the city itself, and some lie with its government. Segarra’s time in office has seen too much of the latter. The government is, quite apart from all the ills that plague Hartford, a problem.

So, when Bronin “should” have been living in Hartford, he was working for the Treasury Department addressing the financing of terrorism or in Kabul addressing corruption?  And he’s actually downplayed some of his sterling academic credentials?

I think we can live with that.



CT’s Dumbest Secret Society: The Hartford Democrats

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Tomorrow night, the Democrats of Hartford will meet to endorse a candidate for mayor. Perhaps you’d like to learn more about it from their website.

What’s that? You don’t see anything? Maybe you should click on “upcoming events.” Total blankness, you say? How about news? Isn’t there a link to news? Uh-oh.  It looks like they only ever posted one item. Five years ago!  And do make sure you click that Elected Officials link, which includes Kelvin Roldan, Marie Kirkley-Bey and Hector Robles, people who have not been in office since 2012.

That doesn’t prove they suck.  Websites are kind of old school. Maybe they use social media, like Facebook!  Say what? Nobody has posted anything there since 2013?  What a shame.

Maybe they’re on Twitter.  Could they be on Twitter?

No? I guess they’re not interested in communicating with you or suggesting that Hartford is anything other than the lazy, second-rate, incompetent, leave-it-to-somebody-else city that it needs so badly not to be.

Today’s Best Actual Radio Guest Pitch

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NewsMax Hollywood Reporter/Legal Analyst James Hirsen is available for interviews on the top entertainment, political and legal stories of the day.
Ariana Grande performs in the World Wide Day of Play 2013 PETER DZUBAY

Ariana Grande and the Law
By James Hirsen
Ariana Grande has been on a career roll. She has enjoyed a string of chart-topping hits, accrued a huge fan base, and secured a starring role in a high-profile television show, which is set to air soon. All of her success aside, the pop singer may now have caused irreparable damage to her brand, and in the process, earned herself a serious rap sheet.
CALL or e-mail Sandy to schedule interviews with James Hirsen.
In our ultra-technologically advanced society, most people realize that public places are, more often than not, under surveillance 24/7. However, in a single visit to a Southern California donut shop, Grande somehow let that factoid slip her celebrity mind. She and boyfriend-backup dancer Ricky Alvarez maliciously tried to hurt people by contaminating with their saliva some of the confections that were within their reach in the shop. Additionally, Grande made derogatory comments about America and Americans. The disgusting behavior and offensive remarks were captured on video and splattered across the Internet.
As the terrible story of Grande’s misadventures was going viral, some celebrities were weighing-in via their social media sites. The most irresponsible statement came from actress Susan Sarandon, who recklessly called for others to engage in the same deleterious behavior. “Today, lick a doughnut in solidarity with @ArianaGrande. A sweet, talented, true American,” Sarandon posted on her Twitter page. Criminal behavior is what Grande and her boyfriend perpetrated, and criminal behavior is what Sarandon encouraged Twitter followers to replicate.
Section 242 of the California Penal Code defines a criminal battery as “any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another,” and section 243 of the code makes the crime punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Placing one’s bodily fluid on a food item that is highly likely to be consumed by another person is clearly criminal battery under California law, and the local police are acting accordingly. Police personnel, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, met with the owner of the donut shop to investigate “a report of deliberate food tampering.” The surveillance footage from the donut shop should provide local authorities with the evidence they need to carry out their law enforcement duties, and if justice prevails Grande and her boyfriend will ultimately be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. is a New York Times best-selling author, commentator, media analyst and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on various landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and Chief Legal Counsel for, a legal think tank and educational institute for the study of law in the media