Monday, July 23, 2018

Get Markley!

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, a dethroned but wiser king, about to be dragged off to prison, says to his only faithful daughter, Cordelia, “Come on, let’s go to prison. The two of us together will sing like birds in a cage. We will be good to each other. When you ask for my blessing, I’ll get down on my knees and ask you to forgive me. That’s how we’ll live—we’ll pray, we’ll sing, we’ll tell old stories, we’ll laugh at pretentious courtiers, we’ll listen to nasty court gossip, we’ll find out who’s losing and who’s winning, who’s in and who’s out. We’ll think about the mysteries of the universe as if we were God’s spies. In prison we’ll outlast hordes of rulers that will come and go as their fortunes change.”

The reporter might easily have opened his piece on State Senator Joe Markley – “Tea Partier Or Constitutional Conservative: Lt. Gov. Candidate Owns GOP Right Flank” – by noting, very incidentally, that Markley is one of the few, if not the only, state legislator with whom one might have an entertaining and profitable discussion of Shakespeare’s King Lear, which, sadly, is not often seen on Connecticut stages.

But no. Here is the lede: “He [Markley] once championed a bill to stop the state from requiring the addition of fluoride to the public drinking water – unconvinced of the efficacy of the decadeslong (sic) practice.”

The paper noted that Markley’s bill – designed, Markley said , to start a discussion on the necessity of fluoridation – was, according to a progressive Democrat in the General Assembly, a “glaring example of Markley’s radical ideology [that] … coincided with a national deflorination (sic) movement by the John Birch Society.”

The intimation possibly traces back to an agnostic site, Miscellanea Agnostica– whose pseudonymous author, Psy-Ops, speculates, “I have to wonder if Connett is a member of the John Birch Society, since one of the pretenses upon which they [Birchers] opposed fluoridation was that it was an impermissible, involuntary, mass medical treatment.” Note the disclaimer “I have to wonder.” The author may have confused Connett with anti-floridationist “Stanley Monteith, MD, a retired orthopedic surgeon. He has a syndicated program called Radio Liberty that airs on over 50 stations. [Montieth is a] long-time member of the John Birch Society." Much of the data tissue in the Markley hit piece is tendentiously connected.

All the leftist dog whistles are prominently displayed: “GOP right flank… fluoride… John Birch Society… now, this dogmatic conservative could be ONE HEARTBEAT AWAY (emphasis mine) from being governor [because] the veteran state senator from Southington is a clear favorite to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor next month in a three-way primary after nabbing the party’s endorsement at its May convention”  -- not, one supposes, because the Connecticut Republican Party has suddenly been convinced that the absence of fluoride in its water supply will be a foundational plank upon which to run in 2018.  The reader should ask himself what work is performed by the word "nabbed" in the last sentence quoted above, which suggests that Markley stole his Republican nominating convention votes. 

The lieutenant governor position itself is not inconsiderable, both Markey and his political opponents agree. The story quotes Markley on the point: “Once upon a time, [the lieutenant governor cast] the deciding vote on the passage of the state income tax,” a vote cast, the report notes “by Eunice Groark, the lieutenant governor of Lowell Weicker Jr.,” who “also cast the pivotal tie breaking vote on an assault weapons' ban supported by Weicker.”

Here finally, but only incidentally, the story touches upon a vital point in the upcoming 2018 elections – taxes.

Did the Weicker income tax hurt or help Connecticut’s failing economy? Some, including this writer, have argued that the income tax, opposed by traditional, centrist Democratic governors Ella Grasso and Bill O’Neill, has repositioned the state with respect to its near neighbors. And it turns out that, long after Markley had vigorously opposed the tax by coordinating the largest rally ever in Connecticut’s history in opposition to a tax virtually opposed all non-Birchite Republicans – including Bill Buckley, Weicker’s bete noir, who once proposed creating a “Birch John Society" -- the times have at last caught up with Markley, whose opposition to the tax is both soundly principled and au courant on the right side of the Republican barricades.

Virtually all the Republicans currently running for governor, none of whom are members of the John Birch Society, have recognized the deleterious effects of over-abundant taxation. The reluctance to offer permanent, long term cuts in spending has saved hegemonic Democrats in the General Assembly the necessity of permanently paring back both spending and excessive regulation, which is  effectually  a tax that reduces business production, since needless regulation inflates the costs of products and services, making them less competitive in what remains of the state’s free enterprise market. High taxes have driven both enterprise and entrepreneurial capital from a state that, in pre-income tax days, was fortunately positioned to attract businesses from its near neighbors. It is indisputable that the Weicker income tax, favored by the paper in which the Markley hit piece ran, leveled the playing field between income-tax-free Connecticut and its near neighbors. The leveling gave the advantage to New York City and Boston, both of which are now re-poaching jobs from Connecticut, thereby reducing the tax cash flow to Connecticut’s state treasury.

To put it briefly, after more than a quarter century, enlightened public opinion among non-Birchers in  the state GOP has finally caught up to Markley, whose views on taxation and over-regulation perfectly match those of the late Governor Ella Grasso, a vigorous opponent of the income tax who was never a far right GOP extremist. Present Republican positions on taxes, regulation, and the overweening power of hegemonic government tied to powerful public employee unions are now -- and always have been -- centrist positions. 

But let that all important datum go by the boards. It is more intellectually advantageous for writers for a paper that had vigorously supported the income tax -- at its time a leftist, extremist measure -- to stock opposition barricades with considerations of fluoridation and Birchism.


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