Best left alone

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  February 22, 2006

Governor John Baldacci wants to attract retired military veterans to Maine by making their pensions tax-exempt.

Right idea. Wrong crowd.

While an influx of aging vets might provide a windfall for barbers specializing in buzz cuts and retailers trying to unload camo boxer shorts, I doubt it would have much impact on the wider economy. These people aren’t going to buy unarmored Hummers for wilderness trips while Dick Cheney is on the loose.

Better we should offer a tax break to a group described by an authoritative source as “generally more intelligent, better looking, imaginative, and multi-talented” than the majority of the population:

Left-handed people.

According to the Left-Handed Liberation Society, southpaws make up 10 percent of the population, but constituted 25 percent of the Apollo astronauts and 80 percent of the original designers of the Macintosh computer. Also, studies indicate lefties see better underwater. We could use more folks like that in Maine.

Another Baldacci proposal to give tax breaks to the film industry wouldn’t be necessary if port-siders such as Robert DeNiro, Keanu Reeves, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, and Nicole Kidman were based here. Hollywood would be begging to use our decaying mills and vacant downtowns as backdrops for more boring HBO mini-series. There’d be additional TV possibilities if low taxes drew sinistromanualists Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Kermit the Frog to the state. And don’t forget Pat Robertson, who thinks he sits at the right hand of God, but he still scratches where it itches with his left hand.

That’s just the beginning. Humorist Dave Barry, surf-guitarist Dick Dale, and wealthy wacko H. Ross Perot might follow their dominant hands to Maine, not to mention undersea visionary SpongeBob SquarePants.

And don’t neglect the foreign-policy implications. Baldacci already has a working relationship with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

He’s a left-hander and a leftist.

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I am not
It’s too early in the political season to be handing out the coveted award for stupidest news release, but there’s already a strong contender.

On February 10, I received an advisory titled “Striving for clarity and consistency on Maine US Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright’s name, occupation, and political background.” It informed the media the Democratic candidate did not appreciate being referred to on second reference as “Bright,” but wished to be called “Hay Bright,” because she’d been known as Hay most of her life and only added Bright when she got married in 2000.

Apparently, she’s afraid of losing valuable name recognition.

In addition, the Candidate Formerly Known As Hay isn’t happy with how her occupation and previous political activities are being characterized. She insisted she be referred to as (professionally) an “author and organic farmer” and (politically) a “political activist.”

Such public figures as Margaret Chase Smith, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (another lefty) have had to endure being second-referenced solely by their last names, so Jean Hay shouldn’t find her reputation dimmed by being tagged “Bright.” And considering her failed campaigns for Congress in 1994 and the US Senate in 1996, she ought to be satisfied with any political designation that doesn’t include the word “loser.”

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