Saturday, October 29, 2011

This Blog Has Moved

A note to my readers: Two things are happening.

First, the URL (web address) for this blog has moved to ctdevilsadvocate.com. It's my own domain and will be much easier to remember.

Second, the reason for the change is that I'm joining a statewide advertising network that will allow me to not only monetize the blog but grow my readership. And a modest income will provide a greater incentive for me to post more frequently.

I have pulled my old posts on this blog over to ctdevilsadvocate.com, so the full archives are there. Because of the move to Wordpress from Blogger, there are some technical problems with transferring the embedded videos from the old blog to the new blog, but I'm working on fixing that.

If you're so inclined, let me know what you think about the new space. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rowland's Death Penalty Wish

Sometimes a discredited politician says something so idiotic and hypocritical that it takes your breath away. To wit, when former Gov. John Rowland called current Gov. Dannel Malloy a "pathological liar" over the summer.

Now Johnny is back (he's always back, isn't he?). In an interview broadcast this morning on Fox 61's The Real Story, the convicted felon waxed philosophical on the subject of capital punishment in the wake of the conviction of Petit family killer and rapist Joshua Komisarjevsky.

Rowland trotted out the usual talking points about how putting convicted killers to death was a matter of "justice." Really? Rowland complaining about bringing wrong-doers to justice is a little like Teddy Kennedy complaining that our criminal justice system favors the rich.

To be sure, Rowland isn't a violent criminal. But only the most ardent of Rowland's defenders would really insist that "justice" was done when he pleaded guilty to depriving the public of honest service and spent a little more than a year in the pokey.

As Bill Curry has pointed out, there were so many other matters Rowland might have gone to prison for besides the Bantam Lake cottage: the illegal $220 million loan from the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority to Enron, the sale of his Washington, D.C., condo at an inflated price, the free vacations and travel, or taking bribes in exchange for state contracts. But the plea bargain worked out by Rowland's lawyer resulted in the state essentially calling it quits on trying to nail Rowland for anything else. So much for "justice." Ugh.

Now to the substance of Rowland's remarks. My main objections to capital punishment are twofold. First, I'm no Don Connery but I do have a history of awareness of and advocacy for the wrongfully convicted. If someone such as Falls Village's Peter Reilly is unjustly convicted and evidence later arises that clears him, then we can always give him his freedom back. Not so if the inmate in executed. Why Rowland insisted that he hasn't seen "any evidence" of wrongful executions, I do not know. A quick Google search turned up plenty of credible cases.

Secondly, and most importantly, the state should never be in the position of deciding who dies and who lives. When the government gets in the business of murdering its own citizens, we should all be ashamed — and terrified. Rowland's comparison to the government killing people in war is specious. The rules governing war are far different from those governing our criminal justice system. Isn't that one of the reasons President Obama hasn't closed Guantanamo and sent Kalid Sheik Mohammed to Manhattan to be tried in a federal court? Enemy combatants shouldn't be treated like common criminals.

If anything is more barbaric than Komisarjevsky's murder and mayhem, it's state-sanctioned murder. Here's hoping Connecticut never executes another person again.

Frank the Baker: Throwing Stones From Portland

Click here for my latest at CTNewsJunkie.com.

Fresh from Portland's famous quarries comes Frank the Baker — Connecticut's answer to Joe the Plumber — hurling rocks at state lawmakers for making his life as a businessman miserable.

Does he have a point? Sure. That said, most businessmen do have the annoying habit of complaining even when things are good. Right now, however, everyone's justified in complaining except the favored few.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Incoherence of Occupy Wall Street


Get a load of this video taken by Reason.tv of an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. Now, you must understand that Reason magazine is a libertarian-leaning organization, so I'm sure there was a certain amount of bias in the editing and selection of clips that went into the 6-minute video.

Still, some of the demands are incoherent and based on factually incorrect premises. To be fair, I suppose you could say the same about some of the Tea Party rallies, too. I'd have to go back and look at the record.

Consider some of the comments at this OWS protest:
  • I like the sign saying "Please no cameras at this meeting." Isn't one of the OWS protesters' complaints that they weren't getting adequate media coverage?
  • The nerdy guy in the glasses said the Citizens United decision allows "unlimited donations" to campaigns. Wrong. It upholds the rights of corporations to spend on independent political broadcasts during candidate elections, not give to the campaigns themselves. The latter has been illegal for a long time — and still is. Oh, CU also allows labor unions to do the same, but the guy didn't mention that, perhaps because it doesn't bother him? Or perhaps because the news articles on Alternet never mentioned it?
  • Another guy wants to get us off the monetary system and move us toward barter. Seriously?
  • Yet another interviewee wants the government to take over the banks, unless, of course, it happens to be a government run by Republicans. That was a real knee-slapper.
  • Did you see the looks on the protesters' faces when the NYC councilman pointed out that fully 1/3 of the city's revenues come from Wall Street? It's as if they'd never even considered where the money comes from to run the city's social programs and schools.
  • As for the anti-bailout guy who said he likes capitalism but that "when you lose, you lose," I wonder what he would have said if the feds hadn't bailed out the auto industry and 100,000 union jobs had disappeared. My guess is he had no problem with sending taxpayer cash to GM. But the interviewer didn't ask him.
Back in the day, I saw an awful lot of dope smoking, so I speak from experience. I'd say there was some pretty good weed floating around that demonstration. And a lot of unemployed people who got up at the crack of noon to join in the fun.

Fox Knocking on Henhouse Door

Click here for my latest for CTNJ: Who should decide whether a teaching candidate is professionally fit to preside over a classroom in Connecticut’s public schools? The teachers themselves? I don't think so.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Esty Death Watch III

The Courant's Jon Lender keeps hammering away.

Now we learn that executives from Northeast Utilities have given a total of $2,000 to the congressional campaign of Esty's wife, Elizabeth. If you ever wondered how the $205,000 in consulting fees he collected from a company that falls under his agency's regulation might benefit the DEEP commissioner and taint his work as a regulator, now you know.

Esty and his flaks have insisted all along that there was nothing illegal about his failure to disclose his NU connection and the $7,500 in speaking fees he collected from United Illuminating. And he is probably right. I see no indication that he has actually violated state ethics laws.

But the evidence mounts on a weekly basis that Esty has a glaring blind spot on the matter of disclosure and a tin ear for what is proper and what is not.

The aforementioned drip, drip, drip of impropriety continues. How many more revelations will there be before Lender has exhausted the list of companies whose largess has benefitted the Estys? Can Esty survive or will Gov. Malloy quietly tell him to find other work — an order Esty would have no trouble filling, given the impressive size of his Rolodex.

I'd say one more hand grenade and he's out.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Esty Death Watch II

Update 10.05.11: Now Esty says speech-giving and consulting are two different things. Of course, they're not identical. But the bottom line is the corporation is paying you for a service. A distinction without a meaningful difference, I'd say.

* * * * * *

The plot thickens. Apparently, the ethically challenged DEEP commissioner Daniel Esty neglected to disclose yet another consulting fee — this one from 2009 — that he collected from a utility company that currently falls under his department's regulatory authority.

But this one is a little more damning than the $200k+ from Northeast Utilities from from 1997 to 2005 that he failed to list during the vetting process for Gov. Malloy's cabinet. As watchdog Kevin Rennie observes:
Esty, who said he would recuse himself from matters involving companies he’d worked for in the past five years, did not include UI’s $7,500 speaking fee on his list … 
Esty’s 5-year rule is his own arbitrary creation for determining the bounds of his disclosure and the public’s right to scrutinize his ties to entities with business before his department.
The drip, drip of this mini-scandal must be driving the governor crazy. Kudos to The Courant's Jon Lender for staying on the trail of the stench estimable Esty.