Time for U.S. Representative Esty to take the next step


It is time for U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty to take the next step.  First of all, kudos to Connecticut’s fifth district Democrat for recognizing the need to fill manufacturing jobs.  One year ago, she put together a board to produce ways to engage students in STEM fields.  On Wednesday, the board met at Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury.  Made up of scientists, manufacturers and educators, the board discussed a survey it had compiled.  The result? Connecticut education comes up woefully short when it comes to matching students with the thousands of job vacancies, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

One comment particularly struck a chord with me.  Talking about the ever-growing medical industry, Rachel Felberbaum, senior director of business development at Protein Sciences Corp., said students ought to be taught how medicines, such as flu vaccines, are made.  “I really didn’t learn about the industry until after college,” she is quoted as saying in the Republican American newspaper.

How often do we hear, “I wasn’t taught that in high school?”

On my business radio program recently, I interviewed two students from the Hartford Job Corps Academy.  The academy, an example that not all Great Society programs introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson failed, takes at-risk young adults and prepares them for productive careers, especially in the medical and manufacturing fields.  The program is rigorous and disciplined.  In plain English, there is no screwing around.  The two students I interviewed have turned their lives around, and are about to embark on careers in the medical and manufacturing fields.

The question becomes, why does it take a job corps academy?  Why isn’t this taught in high schools?

A common complaint heard from employers is that high school graduates can’t read or do math and that is why many of them are not hired.  That and the survey done by Rep. Esty’s informal board should ring a bell.  It’s time to hit the reset button.  Sadly, that will be easier said than done.

The education bureaucracy is firmly entrenched, with many of their campaign dollars going to underwrite the party to which Rep. Esty belongs.  Preparing the next generation for the new economy requires a dramatic change in the education curriculum, including the elimination of course requirements that no longer captivate the imagination of bored students, many of whom choose to drop out of high school.

Going to school should be exciting and challenging, with a conducive learning environment.   Because there are only so many tax dollars to go around, it may mean making choices, including the elimination of some subjects that most students find boring but are placed in the curriculum to satisfy certain core constituencies, many of which donate big campaign bucks.

Rep. Esty’s challenge and others truly concerned about our future, is to shake up the status quo.   That means utilizing the “Edustations” invented by STEMPilot owner Jay LeBoff (another guest on my program) ,and incorporating a curriculum that meets today’s job requirements.  It also means instituting these programs at the expense of other course mandates.

If Rep. Esty is truly serious about preparing qualified students for the 21st Century workforce, she will take the next step.  That means shaking up the education establishment.

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U.N. panel wants to tax meat out of existence

meat case

A U.N. panel wants to tax meat out of existence.  No, I am not making this up.  It may have passed below the radar screen, because the International Resource Panel reached its decision in May, and the mainstream media reported on the story during the 4th of July weekend, but this is not some contrived story.  And by the piece in the Washington Post, it reads like they hate meat too.  What a surprise?

The Post’s Wonkblog is headlined “Meat is horrible.”  In the story, Rachael Premack, the Post’s business writer, blames meat for just about every problem in the world, including pollution.

The leader of a fight to ban meat is Maarten Hajer, who is a member of the U.N. panel.  “I think it is extremely urgent,” Hajer said on taxing meat out of existence. He says taxes are necessary on meat, because of its harmful effects on health and the environment.  He wants meat taxed at the wholesale level to drive up the cost so much consumers will stop buying it.  In fact, if he had his way, meat would be taxed at every step of the way.  You get the idea he wants consumers taxed, even if they inhale the aroma of meat, while entering a supermarket.

Hajer, a professor at the Netherlands’s Utrecht University, is part of the panel comprised of 34 scientists and 30 governments.

I doubt this issue will be part of the current presidential campaign, but maybe the candidates ought to be asked.  As long as the media keeps serving up “red meat,” they might want to try the real thing with their questions.   Meanwhile, pass the hot dogs.  And hamburgers too.


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70 die in line of duty, 33 by gunfire so far this year

Law Enforcement

ThrouLaw Enforcementgh the first seven months of 2016, seventy police officers have died in the line of duty.  Thirty-three officers have been fatally shot, the latest coming on July 28 in San Diego.  Police officer Jonathan M. DeGuzman was shot, after he and his partner – who was wounded – conducted a traffic stop at an intersection.  Both officers were shot in the upper body.   The suspect, also suffered a gunshot wound, but he will survive.

Officer DeGuzman worked 16 years for the San Diego police department.  He is survived by his wife and two children.  DeGuzman was 43 years of age.

You won’t read or hear much about this in the mainstream media.  The initial story goes away after a few days, as the mainstream media has other templates to push.   There is, after all,  a presidential election to worry about, particularly when it comes to a certain candidate they do not want to win.

So as the mainstream media continues to cover all the news that fits their agenda, remember those who have committed their lives to law enforcement.  They go to work everyday, not knowing if they will return home to their families, all the while doing their part to protect the lives of all, including those who have that agenda to fulfill.

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Mainstream media has its marching orders

Marching drums

Marching bandThe mainstream media has its marching orders.  Do everything to stop Donald Trump from being elected president.  Wrong at every turn since Trump announced his candidacy in June of 2015 (“He will never get the nomination.”),

the media now views this as us against him, especially since Trump is not shy about calling them out.

The onslaught began months ago, but now it is full bore as Trump leads Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in some polls.  So while Clinton continues to get high negative ratings, her servers get hacked and Wall St. donates big to her campaign, the media focus will be TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP!

The approach will be to convince disenchanted Republicans and unaffiliated voters to cast their ballots for Hillary.   That was the angle to the July 30 New York Times story, headlined “Clinton’s Portrayal of Trump as Dictator Aims at the Left and Right.”  The Times, whose slanted coverage of the campaign was in full view in its covering of the major party conventions the last two weeks, writes:”In effect, Mrs. Clinton and Democratic Party leaders signaled that they would seek to fight the general election, to some extent, in nonpartisan terms…”

Look for “news” stories to be nothing more than opinion pieces.  Commentary will be displayed prominently and again designed to woo Republican and unaffiliated voters.  Evidence the July 30 edition of the Washington Post, with its headline story,

“The GOP is becoming the party of exclusion.  Who wants to be a part of that.”

Democrats fear a low voter turnout on their side.  Even if turnout is high, however, they know Republicans and unaffiliateds must come over to their side to give Clinton a chance at victory.  So as the leaning-left mainstream media may come off as an echo chamber, their goal is to attract other voters to Clinton.

To be sure, there are legitimate criticisms of Trump, as there are for any candidate.  Just don’t look to the New York Times, Washington Post and other Democratic Party house organs to report on those criticisms, when it comes to Clinton.  The goal will be to distort and nitpick everything Trump says, honest reporting by the media be damned.   After all, there’s an election to be won and the media has made this personal.

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Will Bridgewater pay back the money to Connecticut?

moneysign150It may have been the most controversial loan ever given out by the state of Connecticut.  In May, the state’s bond commission, chaired by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D), doled out $22 million to the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates LP.  Based in Westport, Connecticut, the firm is worth billions.

The deal included a $5 million grant and $17 million loan to expand in Westport, Wilton, and Norwalk.  As part of the arrangement, Bridgewater would not have to pay back the $17 million, if it maintained its 1,400 work force and hired 750 new employees by 2021.

The bond commission vote drew a stinging rebuke from Republicans and the public at large.  With Connecticut going through yet another budget crisis, leading to state employee and teacher lay offs, handing out millions of taxpayers dollars – which might not have to be paid back – to a hedge fund that handles $169 billion in assets, did not resonate a positive tone among the state’s taxpayers.   The Malloy administration defended the move.  Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith was quoted in the Hartford Courant: “This is a good boost to the revenue side of the general fund by using bonded dollars.   It’s an investment; every nickel we put in, we’re going to get back from this company.”

The logic being that Bridgewater employs people at high salaries and the state would reap the benefits from the income tax and employee spending habits at large.  Smith was also quick to remind critics, “if the company doesn’t perform, we have the ability to get our money back.”

Less than two months after the state bonded the money for Bridgewater, comes word that the company may not be hiring.  The July 18 edition of the New York Times reports that Bridgewater “is said to be slowing hiring.”   Word is the company’s flagship Pure Alpha fund is down 8.8 percent, the endowment for the California state university system has taken out the more than half-billion dollars it invested in Bridgewater, the firm has suspended its recruiting of new employees, and also cancelled scheduled interviews with potential hires.  The Times reports that the hedge fund is tight lipped about these developments but notes: “It was unclear whether the suspension of recruiting in some areas was temporary or a reflection of a new push to gradually shrink the size of the firm.”

“Shrink the size of the firm.”  That doesn’t sound like hiring 750 new employees to me.

Connecticut has a habit of keeping sketchy information, when doling out millions to companies who promise to hire new employees.   You have a better chance of finding out what’s in Hillary Clinton’s emails than getting the state to produce documentation of jobs created by firms getting a taxpayers’ handout.  Not to mention that the state has a distorted formula for jobs created.   If a firm getting the money, for example, hires an outside landscaping company to do work, it can count it as jobs created.

But the latest New York Times story should serve as a wake up call to Smith and others.  It might be a good idea to get that money back now, before it’s too late.

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Cops walk off Lynx detail. UConn’s Moore, Cash part of flap

Minnesota Lynx
Maya Moore
Maya Moore/Photo credit: Timothy Nwachukwu

Off duty police from the Minneapolis police department, walked off the security detail of the WNBA’s Minneapolis Lynx on July 9, and former University of Connecticut basketball star Maya Moore is one of the reasons.  And it does not appear the controversy will end anytime soon.

The walkout by four police officers was a result of a news conference held by the Lynx players, denouncing racial profiling in the wake of recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas.  The last straw came when players wore Black Lives Matter warm-up jerseys.

Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the union representing Minneapolis police, praised the officers for walking off the detail and for removing themselves from future Lynx game assignments.  Other officers may follow suit.  Lt. Kroll is quoted in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “If (the players) are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”

The Lynx are three-time WNBA champions, led by former UConn standout Moore, the league’s 2014 MVP.  “We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling,” Moore is quoted as saying at the news conference.  The players did criticize the shooting of the Dallas police officers.

Lt. Kroll, however, claimed the players are believing the “false narratives” being reported about some incidents.  “Rushing to judgement before the facts are in is unwarranted and reckless,” he told the paper.

The t-shirts worn by the Minnesota players seemed more controversial than warm-up jersey worn by the New York Liberty, also before their July 9 game.  Their jerseys were the color black with the hashtags “Black Lives Matter” and “Dallas 5” on the front.  The Minnesota shirts read:  “Change starts with us, justice and accountability” and on the back had Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s names along with “Black Lives Matter” and a Dallas Police Department emblem.

Moore’s ex-UConn teammate, Swin Cash of the New York Liberty, criticized those attempting to make the movement “violent.”  She is quoted in the Washington Post: “Five cops gave their lives up trying to protect a peaceful movement. And in this country, I do believe that you can assemble peacefully and protest against injustice. So until the system transforms, we cannot sit here and act like there is not a problem here in America.”

It appears, however, unless the Minnesota players back off their public comments, the protest by the Minneapolis police department to not work off duty security will grow, giving the flagging WNBA a marketing problem it does not need.



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Justice Ginsburg’s Trump opinion shows bad judgement

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Justice Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has every right to her opinion.  As a United States Supreme Court Justice, she gets paid for her opinion, but it should be an opinion based on her interpretation of the United States Constitution.   Her recent public comments about likely Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, are not becoming of a member of the bench at any level.

In a story printed in the July 11 edition of the New York Times,  Ginsburg said “I can’t imagine what the country would be – with Donald Trump as our president. For the country it could be four years.  For the court, it could be – I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

The Times piece was an expansive interview with Ginsburg.   Make no mistake, however, her Trump comments gave the “paper of record” another excuse to continue its daily assault on Trump, by making her specific remarks the lead to the story.  That, by the way, is the newspaper’s right.  If it wants to batter conservatives every day with left leaning journalism, go for it.  If it wants to assault Trump in print every day, go for it.  The First Amendment – while it is still around – is what makes our nation tick.  For Ginsburg, on the other hand, her action to exercise her opinion in public, personally critical of a presidential candidate, demonstrates bad judgement.

Imagine, a major league baseball umpire stating, “If the Cincinnati Reds hire so-and-so as manager, I can’t imagine what the game would be.”  What chance would the Reds have of getting a fair call from that umpire?   So presume if Trump was elected president.  What fair chance would he have, if a case from his administration came before the high court?

At 83, Ginsburg states she has no plans of leaving her job, if her energy level remains high.  But she is concerned about other aging justices and what it could mean to the bench, depending on the next presidential election.  Again, that’s fine.  It’s no secret justices have their political leanings.  Being so blatant as to specifically point the finger at one candidate, however, crosses the line for somebody in her position.

Her bad judgement may be an indication it’s time for Ginsburg to pack it in, otherwise, if the new game is for justices to start publicly campaigning for or against a particular candidate, then maybe it’s time the people start electing U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

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Berra turned down chance to work for LBJ

Berra, Johnson

Yogi BerraTributes continue to pour in about Yogi Berra, the Hall of Fame baseball player and manager, who died late Tuesday at the age of 90.  Berra had an illustrious baseball career, but how many people know he was once offered a job to work in the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson?

Berra’s New York Yankees had just lost the 1964 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.  On Friday, Oct. 16, just one day after that fateful seventh game, the first-year manager was summoned to the Yankees offices in midtown Manhattan.  He thought it was for a meeting to discuss his return as manager for the 1965 season.  Instead, Yankees co-owner Dan Topping fired Berra, shocking the baseball world.  Berra was offered a job as an assistant to general manager Ralph Houk.

Meanwhile, LBJ, who had assumed the presidency less than a year before, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, was attempting to win the office in his own right.  Johnson was in the midst of an election campaign against the Republican nominee Barry Goldwater.  He was also launching his “Great Society”  and had enlisted JFK’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, to run the government’s anti-poverty office.  The same day Shriver was sworn in to assume his government post, Berra was fired.  Shriver wasted little time in reaching out to the baseball icon.

The fourth paragraph of the front page story about Berra’s dismissal in the Saturday, October 17, 1964 edition of the New York Times included the following:

“Upon hearing of Berra’s release, Sargent Shriver – who had been sworn in earlier in the day as director of the Government’s war on poverty – sought Berra for a top-level position with the bureau’s youth program.  An aide to the poverty drive chief said Berra turned down the job, with regret.”

For the moment, anyway, Berra had decided to accept the Yankees’ two-year contract to be Houk’s “special field consultant.”

Berra would never assume the job to which he agreed,  instead went on to coach and manage both the Mets and the Yankees for a second-time.  His career in politics was over, before it was over, although in another sense, it never really ended.  Politicians for years would quote Berra, a practice, I suspect, that will continue.

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