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Showing posts from March, 2006

Progressive Fallacy Number Two

2) Every action has a consequence – the one we want.

Of course, we know this is not true. An action may have two consequences – or more. When one strikes with a cue ball the triangle of balls in billiards, all the balls move, some in unwanted directions.

Translated from billiards to politics, this means that when I raise a tax to satisfy a need, my action may have unintended consequences. I may satisfy the need and create a dependency that may prove to be unappeasable; or the tax may create another problem; or raising the tax may have been an inefficient solution to the problem; or …

There is also a point of diminishing returns that comes into play when taxes are raised. At some point, and at some wage levels, even a reasonable tax may be the straw that breaks the camels back. Just as one might not be able to afford a new Jaguar, so one might not be able to afford high priced taxes.

What happens when a taxpayer cannot pay the tax? Pretty much the same thing that happens when a renter ca…

Progressive Fallacy Number One

1) We can afford things we really can’t afford if we can get a millionaire to pick up the tab.

Here is an illustration of the fallacy plucked from a story written by Paul Bass for the New Haven Independent, a blogpaper:

“John DeStefano is not waffling when it comes to Gov. Jodi Rell's plan to wipe out the estate tax and further enrich the state's richest 2 percent. DeStefano's opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Dannel Malloy, has been waffling on the issue. (He's from Stamford, after all.) So DeStefano continued pressing the issue Monday at a senior center in Hartford; he called for tax breaks to help seniors afford long-term care instead of an estate tax rollback. Click here to read Christine Stuart's report. The issue, first raised on this site, represents the one real policy difference between DeStefano and Malloy.”

New Haven Mayor DeStefano wants to give tax breaks to seniors – a political group both more numerous than millionaires in Connecticu…

One Way: Do Not Enter

At some point – assuming Joltin’ Joe Lieberman marches back into office clutching in his fist the highest vote total of any Democrat U.S. Senator in Connecticut history – the majority party in the state will realize that they have a Weicker problem on their hands; for Lieberman is the mirror image of former senator and governor Lowell Weicker.

Conservatives used to gnash their teeth over Weicker, a Republican who voted like a Republican but thought like a Democrat, until he was polished off by Lieberman, a Democrat who votes like a Democrat but occasionally thinks like a Republican.

The beef on Weicker was that he was undermining the Republican Party. Why doesn’t someone take over the state GOP, Weicker once mused, it’s such a small and insignificant thing – unlike, well … you know who. Weicker then persuaded Republicans to accept as their chairman his long-time aide and major domo Tom D’Amore, who has now resurfaced as a consultant to Ned Lamont, the Greenwich millionaire who hopes to …

McEnroe to Lieberman: Who? Me?

It’s a little hard to determine who the initial aggressor is here, but the order of assaults might go something like this: 1) Lieberman ticked off leftist rabble rousers in his party by taking and defending a position on the Iraq war that deprived those thirsting for President George Bush’s blood of deadly talking points they might use to bring down the Bush administration; 2) the lefties rushed to their blog sites to condemn Lieberman as a traitor to his party and the human race; 3) Lieberman, threatened with a primary by Ned Lamont, a student of the Lowell Weicker Jr. school of political science, and besieged by unflattering notices on the blog sites – got ticked off; 4) Lieberman appeared on the Bruce and Colin radio talk show, where he responded to a recent Colin McEnroe rant by accusing the host of the show of – surprise! -- tendentious editing. A Lieberman quote used by McEnroe in one of his columns, Lieberman said, was “totally out of context. You might have gotten it from the…

Pill Bill Killed

A legislative bill that would have forced Catholic hospitals to provide aborticides to rape victims was itself aborted Monday before the bill could leave the public health committee.

The committee's deadline for reporting out bills was 5:00 p.m., but the debate on the Plan B bill did not begin until 4:43 p.m., which left precious little time for proponents and opponents of the bill to put their opinions on the record.

Following the legislative mercy killing, speculation filled the air. Was the bill scheduled so close to deadline because Sen. Christopher Murphy, the co-chairman of the committee, did not want a public record of a debate certain to cause difficulties for legislative backers of the bill?

Murphy himself this year hopes to be able to unseat U.S. Rep Nancy Johnson, a Catholic politician who, despite her votes against a bill banning partial birth abortion, tends to run well in places like Waterbury, an urban battleground chock-full of Catholic Democrats. One of the reasons a…

We Are All Moderates Now

U.S. Senator John McCain, who has presidential ambitions, is the liberal Northeast’s safe Republican. His political program differs very little from that of other Connecticut Republicans he came to support during a campaign fundraiser. Yet, McCain has a better in state press than many a home grown product.

Governor Jodi Rell’s popularity, and her press, is off the scales, though lately she has received a drubbing from the state’s two Democrat gubernatorial wannabes, Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor John DeStefano.

The mayors and their supporters in the Democrat Party managed to land two solid punches to Rell’s solar plexus, without appreciably buckling her popularity quotient.

First, top aide Lisa Moody slipped on blood when she asked state commissioners to solicit campaigns funds from their subordinates; there are laws against that sort of thing in these parts. After much hollering from the opposition, Moody was reprimanded by Rell and sent to the woodshed without pay f…

Looking Before Leaping: Plan B and the Catholic Conscience

Catholic hospitals presently withhold Plan B pills from rape victims who are pregnant or ovulating. Plan B pills are administered to other rape victims in Catholic hospitals. In cases in which the pills cannot in good conscience be administered, the patients are referred to other near-by hospitals. The arguments presented by those who favor legislation forcing Catholic Hospitals to provide Plan B to patients that are referred to other providers include the following points:

1) Opposition to the use of Plan B pills in Catholic hospitals is being waged by “local Catholic bishops.” The implication is that local bishops have distorted the teaching of their church by viewing the use of Plan B pills after ovulation as aborticides.

2) Catholic bishops are “not competent” to make “scientific judgments.” But, of course, it is not Catholic bishops who presently make the scientific judgments that a) the rape victim is pregnant, or b) ovulation is occurring. These judgments are made by competent me…

How Does Your Foot Taste Today?

State House Assistant Majority Leader David McCluskey regretted the remark almost as soon as it left his mouth. “In spite of all the many good things Senator Lieberman has done,” McCluskey said, “this (Iraq war) is the overriding moral issue, and if he doesn’t change his position, I cannot be with him in good conscience. He needs to come to Jesus on this one."

McCluskey apologized not because he crossed Thomas Jefferson’s “wall of separation,” an ideological picket line that is supposed to prevent an impermissible mixture of religion and politics, but because he thought the comment might offend a devout Orthodox Jew.

If McCluskey had made the remark while testifying before a legislative hearing, Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan might well have demanded that McCluskey quit his job and join Victim Advocate James Papillo on the unemployment line. Good thing that McCluskey was addressing peace activists rather than legislators. Has Governor Jodi Rell heard about this?

What Do The Kossacks Want?

The obvious answer to the question “What does Ned Lamont want?” is that he wants to replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate. And there are plenty of other people who would like to assist him.

Lamont’s most active and articulate supporters are the Kossacks; that is what they call themselves. They are readers and assiduous followers of Daily Kos, a liberal web site maintained by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga. Some of the people who support Lamont’s insurgency campaign may be Republican sappers. It’s no secret that Lieberman will draw votes from Republicans in a general election. Connecticut Republicans afflicted with a bad case of moderation like Lieberman because a) he’s genuinely affable, and b) a moderate Democrat.

Lieberman probably cannot be defeated in a general election. The senator is more popular in Connecticut than Chris Dodd, whose position on the war in Iraq has not alienated the readers of Daily Kos. But anything can happen in an election. The war in Iraq may yet become an albatro…

Lamont and the Alchemist

When former senator and governor Lowell Weicker – now retired, sort of – looked around to tap someone to run against his battle hardened old political enemy, current Senator Joe Lieberman, his gaze fell upon fellow Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont, who obligingly agreed to pay any price, shoulder any burden for the sake of his party and Weicker.

Weicker is pretty much the antitheses of a party guy, famously having denominated himself “The turd in the Republican Party punch bowl.” Lamont wants to be a party guy; at least, he has surrounded himself with party activists who claim they have the best interests of the Democrat Party in mind – with one exception.

That would be Tom D’Amore, Wicker’s battle hardened major domo and no friend to political parties. D’Amore has been around the political block several times, as an aide to former governor Tom Meskill, later as Weicker’s chief aide and state Republican Party Chairman, still later as an aide and consultant to Russ Potts, an “independent…

Papillo and the Freedom to Blow Whistles

The Hartford Courant, in an editorial that oddly is not available online, has joined a chorus of voices protesting that Victim Advocate James Papillo has in his testimony at a public hearing “crossed the line” and wandered into “religious” territory.

The Courant cites as proof the following statement made by Papillo to an Associated Press reporter: “victims here are being used as a hook to further an agenda they are hiding … The issue is an attack on the Catholic institutions.”

First of all, it should be noted that the offending statement, which might be made by any atheist or agnostic editorialist, is untainted by religious doctrine. Whether Papillo’s statement is true or false is a separate question that would depend upon facts unexplored in the Courant’s editorial, but the statement itself is not a religious proposition on the order of “I believe in One God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth ...” Papillo was not here stating any of the doctrines of his faith; he was as…

On Crossing Lines: Kevin Sullivan’s Belated Celebration of Martin Luther King Day

Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan was celebrating Martin Luther King’s day late this year. A little more than a month out from MLK Day, he told Victim Advocate James F. Papillo, a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, to shaddup! It appeared that Papillo, who had given testimony in a public hearing against a bill designed to force Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B to rape victims, had impermissibly crossed a largely imaginary dividing line in his testimony and wandered into treacherous religious terrain.

Sullivan said he thought Papillo had "crossed the line when he expressed his personal religious point of view" in testifying against the bill at a legislative hearing and called upon Governor Jodi Rell to fire him. Denise W. Merrill, the co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee said, "I think he did a disservice to all women who are victims of sexual assaults." And Rell remonstrated with Papillo, after which Papillo promised to stay in his religious cage. &quo…

Who Died and Elected This Guy Pope

According to a Hartford Courant story, Catholic hospitals do presently offer Plan B pills to women who have been raped -- except under very narrow circumstances, when urine tests show that the victim is pregnant or ovulating. In these cases, said a representative of the hospitals, the Plan B pills "can be equivalent to an abortion and thus the proposed law would violate the hospital's religious freedom."

During his testimony at a hearing on a bill crafted to force four Catholic hospitals in Connecticut to provide Plan B pills to women who have been raped, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that Catholic hospitals have a contractual obligation similar to that of Wal-Mart. Recently Blumenthal bullied Wal-Mart into providing Plan B pills to their customers through the threat of sanctions. Wal-Mart, according to the story, "was required to provide all legal prescriptions to comply with its contract to participate in state health insurance plans." Blumenthal sa…

The Hill and Bill Show

Though it’s amusing to discover that former President Bill Clinton and the present occupant of that office, George Bush, feel similarly – for different reasons – about Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, last week provided an Oops! moment for Hillary Clinton, the former president’s ambitious wife.

Mrs. Clinton wants to be president, and to this end any compromising political position Bush lumbers into is a help to her. When the roiling controversy concerning Bush’s support for Dubai – a friendly Arab country that is to administer several ports in the United States – was burbling in the press, Senator Hillary Clinton thought to distinguish herself from the president by strenuously objecting to the deal.

Sen. Clinton said the deal represented “an unacceptable risk” to national security. She was not the first to hack away at Bush, nor will she be the last. The New York Times has been in a perpetual tiff against the president, but many conservative Republicans also harried Bush on the Dubai…

Plan B vs. Plan A

“Malloy said that he was sensitive to the religious freedom issue but that emergency contraceptives are designed to prevent conception, not cause a chemically induced abortion.”

This sunburst was teased out of Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat gubernatorial contender, by a reporter who then wrote a story under the title “Rivals Blast Rell Stance: Catholic Hospitals, Rape Victims At Issue.”

The “emergency contraceptive” in question, called Plan B, is described by its producer as a backup method for preventing pregnancy when ordinary contraceptives fail, and the reporter helpfully explained that “Emergency contraceptives are a high-dose birth control pill that can reduce the risk of pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.”

Plan B, some Connecticut legislators feel, ought to be adopted by every hospital in the state, including Connecticut’s four Catholic hospitals, and the pending bill that would enforce the use of Plan B has created some consternation within the Ca…