We have some kind of looming fiscal crisis here in Connecticut, but I don't know much about it because a) it is not a cliff and b) it is not as interesting as other things I could conceivably know about.
On the first point, I blame whoever started calling the 2013 federal tax hikes and spending cuts a cliff. It's not even metaphorically accurate. It's almost the opposite of a cliff because how bad it is depends on how long it takes Washington to reset the tax rates. If they fix them in five days, it's not going to matter. If they fix them in 60 days and make the fixes retroactive, it's not going to matter. It's really more like a Ferris wheel — it all depends on where you are when it stops.
But if you start calling one thing a cliff, it's harder to get excited about the other thing that is not a cliff. In Connecticut, our problem is that we spent more than we planned to — mainly on Medicaid — and our taxes are producing less revenue than we anticipated. Zzzzzz.
Which brings us to the second problem.
We would all be more interested in this crisis if it bore any resemblance at all to the Petraeus Scandal, which is so complicated and full of compelling details that it highlights a gap nobody ever talks about when they're talking about gaps. The Fascinatingness Gap. OK, that is not a very good term for it.
There is an unfair concentration of melodrama and titillation in this country. Either you get a ton or you get none. Why not a redistribution of excitement?
We recently learned that Shirtless FBI Guy is named Fred Humphries. His help was sought by major scandal figure Jill Kelley when she received harassing emails. He enlisted the FBI's cyber crimes division, possibly knowing that when they went into her computer, they would find a picture of him shirtless, which he had previously sent her just in case she needed one.
Shirtless FBI Guy eventually took the case to House minority leader Eric Cantor because he suspected Obama-protective foot-dragging. One of the 2,891 anonymous sources quoted in the coverage attributed this to his "worldview" (read: right-wing attitudes).
On Thursday, the New York Times quoted a Jill Kelley "spokesman" who "asked not to be identified," setting a new standard in which even the spokesmen are clandestine.
Ben Barnes is the budget director of the Malloy administration. He seems smart and well-intentioned, but he is not fascinating. If Brad Pitt were preparing to play a barely visible policy nerd in his next movie, he could do no better than to job-shadow Ben Barnes.
Whether Barnes would have to be shirtless in his new role would be worked out when he got to Tampa.
This alone would not turn things around. We should consider packaging Barnes and Comptroller Kevin Lembo for Shirtless FBI Guy and Natalie Khawam. Natalie Khawam is a minor figure in this scandal, but — as they say in "Moneyball" — I see many highly productive seasons ahead.
Khawam is the twin sister of Jill Kelley. She got Petraeus and Gen. John Allen (whom I would not trade for because he has peaked) to write letters to a judge attesting to her good character, which is apparently chimerical. The judge in that custody case concluded that she "appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers, and others" and that she displayed "a willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests."
Three failed engagements, one recent divorce, four jobs in five years. Her stats are impressive. If she were our comptroller, people would watch the state budget the way they watch the Honey Boo Boo family: with that can't-look-away absorption that we bestow only on vast personal wreckage.
Some will reject my plan as socialism: redistribution of scandal wealth. Let me say something about those Tampa people: They didn't build that.