Friday, July 30, 2010

Collins quid pro quo to LePage

Susan Collins endorsing Paul LePage is her quid pro quo for his endorsement of her in 2008 in which he lauded her perfect (that's attendance folks, not effectiveness) string of votes cast to regurgitate her exaggerated appall at Tom Allen missing a few votes. Here are excerpts from his March 2008 op-ed piece in the Morning Sentinel. Note that he opens with a not-to-subtle swipe at Collins pal, John McCain to burnish his pre-tea party bona fides.

Unlike the Presidential election this fall, Mainers have a clear-cut choice for who should represent our state in the United States Senate. For the past 12 years, Sen. Susan Collins has amassed a voting record second to none, which we have not seen in our state since the glory days of the Honorable Margaret Chase Smith. Sen. Collins is emulating the work begun by Sen. Smith, and unmistakably deserves the support of all Maine voters to return her to Washington as our U.S. senator.


Her opponent on the other hand, has time and again revealed an inability to show up to work in Congress. Unfortunately for Maine citizens, Rep. Tom Allen has been absent for well over 100 congressional votes. Mainers deserve better, and we must demand that when elected, our elected officials show up for the debate.
LePage just played the political investment market in his 2008 Collins backing; he was simply a ceremonial mayor with a bully-veto and a big dream. In reality the pay back from Collins in 2010 is the real story because it once again verifies her fidelity to her party's hard right. By he way, I doubt that Margaret Chase Smith would embrace today's anti-patriotic right wingers.

Codeword Creationism

We all know that in Arizona that “illegal immigrants” is a code word for Latinos and the tea party movement has plenty of code words deployed for race. In fact the far right has always fired up its adherents by a process of validating their fears by sharing “in the know” coding for everything they despise.

Today that craft has been honed to a perfect pitch by ├╝ber-conservatives. Their latest technique is to make up code words that we progressives use in our secret plan to dominate the world with a communist dictatorship. Just listen to right wing talk radio for several examples per hour.

Of course Glenn Beck is the master; here are some examples:

- I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.

- Social justice is also about stealing.

- Whenever you see some thing that talks about a strong democratic movement or strengthening democracy, you're in trouble. If you see anything that talks about social or economic justice, you're in trouble. Those two things are the language of people like Hugo Chavez. We are a republic, not a democracy.
And then we come to Paul LePage, the inept code word creator:

WGAN: You're saying that because Arden Manning said you're a creationist...that you interpret that as saying that you're not qualified to be governor because you're a French American Catholic? Is that what you're saying?

LePage: That's what I'm saying.
Mr. LePage, please listen to this fellow Franco-American. It is true that you are not qualified to be Governor. But it has nothing to do with our shared ethnic heritage or your religion . It has everything to do with your off-the-cuff positions that you spout off to play to extremist tea party anxiety and your tired anti-services rhetoric. You, as a candidate, do not even begin to approach the level of leadership that this state needs to move ahead.

Postscript: I went to Ecole du Sacre Coeur in Laconia, N.H. and was definitely not taught the type of creationism that is in fundamentalist favor today. In fact the Sisters of Mercy tried very hard (parochial schools were in decline), with limited resources to, teach relevant and up to date science.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pen Pal Paul

"…from now on, what I am going to do is, I'm not going to make any comments to reporters unless it's in writing." - Paul LePage, direct quote, speaking in context, about answering media questions in a conversation with George Hale on WVOM, July 27, 2010.

Paul LePage once again demonstrates he is unworthy of election with the immature comment delivered above. While the LePage gaffe express will roll on, it has taken another hard right playbook turn into victim-whining about the media when it accurately reports comments he makes publically. Essentially, Paul LePage’s game is to change the subject, avoid responsibility, and play for sympathy as an injured party when he spouts off a thoughtless “red-meat” phrase or two. It’s not my fault, he contends; they’re being mean to me.

And of course, after all his holier-than-thou pronouncements, he still got his original dig in. Paul LePage even gallingly makes “if” contingency-type apologies that place the onus for any offense taken on the offended party’s mind rather than that given by his own mouth!

The real bottom line is that the Republicans have nominated a candidate that is dismissive of personal responsibility. Additionally, there is blatant arrogance displayed by Paul LePage that tells us that he believes that he is above being accountable to the public. Whether he likes it or not, the press is an essential ingredient of democracy. The LePage reference to making comments to reporters only in writing also speaks volumes about his mistrust of himself in his tendency to talk before thinking, the public’s ability to interpret news reporting, and a hankering to be presented only on his own terms.

The far right has always diverted attention from issues by using press persecution as a smoke-screen when caught out making “red meat” remarks. Maine’s press corps may not cover every aspect of this vital race to the extent we might like but whining paraphrasing of “gotcha journalism” victimization reminiscent of Sarah Palin is extremely far off the mark. But this is the template LePage is using in the campaign.

Imagine how Paul LePage will react to reporting of his actions should we be burdened with him as our Governor. Will press reporting on his actions always draw his dismissive issue-distracting distain? Will the Blaine House reporters need to submit press conference questions in advance in writing? Will the many harmful LePage vetoes be accompanied with silent treatment unaccountability? Will we have a Governor who chooses to communicate only through pre-selected right-wing friendly talk shows and fawning Fox-like submissive flattery?

We need to know. Dear Paul, please write soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Life in the Circus

I came to political consciousness under a tea party governorship. A shoot from the hip talker, tax axing - cut ‘n slash ‘guvmint’, state’s rights advocate, right wing constitutionalist misconstruing, shut the liberal whiners up, Mister successful businessman, chicken hawk, town official and legend in his own mind chief executive ruled the state by anti-tax rhetoric, veto threats.

Paul LePage in 2010? Not quite but that nightmare may unfortunately be easily related to by many in a decade or so. I’m speaking of LePage’s most likely and unknown to him role model, Meldrim Thomson, Jr., chief executive of next door New Hampshire from 1973 to 1979.

Mel Thomson won a three way race for Governor in 1972 with 41% of the vote after wresting the Republican nomination from a moderate sitting Governor, Walter Peterson. He defeated Democrat Roger Crowley who took 39% of the vote and a moderate independent, Malcolm McLane, who picked up 19% mostly to Crowley’s detriment. "Thanks to McLane, I'm governor," Mel told a reporter after the election. Sounds like a lesson there about voting for an independent spoiler without prospects of victory in our upcoming election.

The new Governor did not waste anytime alienating the state legislature, paralyzing the governing process, and grounding the ship of state on the sand bars of senselessness. He acted as a bully and barred every sensible tax model the state needed. Conservatives today, especially in neighboring states, laud his legacy of no New Hampshire sales and income taxes. But of course these neighbors only see the walls; I got to live inside. Yes, we lived free and died without sales or income taxes. But we paid enormous property taxes, fees galore, and lacked reasonable basic services. In fact, one plus of our move to Maine in the 1980’s was gaining access to public Kindergarten which we fought and fought for unsuccessfully in New Hampshire.

Mel could not idly abide the alienation, paralysis, and therefore his inability to govern. So he went to his roots. Like the tea party of today, Thomson said he was stuck in the 1900’s but his philosophy was that of the 1700’s. And if one could not govern with the legislature then tis time to engage in antics and play the bully.

So our license plates got “Live Free or Die” stamped on them in lieu of “Scenic” by inmates at the state prison. Social issues got going. The previously abolished death penalty got signed back into law with Mel quipping that he felt like John Hancock when he affixed his signature, apparently equating signing the Declaration of Independence with execution by the state.

Our flags furiously went up and down for every conservative whim of Mel’s. We dropped the state building flags by executive order to half mast on Good Fridays, to protest the exclusion of Taiwanese athletes to the Olympics, to mourn the granting of amnesty by President Carter to those who objected to Vietnam and choose not to fight, the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty, recognition of mainland China, and so on. He banned the use of “Ms.” By state employees. He called a news conference to publicly purchase Gallo wine during a boycott of it called by the United Farm Workers. He constantly referred to the deceased Martin Luther King as a “commie” and attacked UN ambassador Andrew Young as a one world fanatic.

Mel played intimidation politics too. He searched the tax records and the files of the New England Organized Crime Intelligence System for information about his political opponents; the latter he said was to test the system’s security. He pulled up a Massachusetts driver with his state limo for giving him the finger. Mel urged Nantucket to succeed from the Bay State and join New Hampshire as well as fomenting a so called “Lobster War” with Maine. As a tough on crime guy, he blocked federal money for New Hampshire Legal Assistance; tough on crime apparently meaning tough on due process.

Thomson pranced about on the international stage. He toured apartheid South Africa and praised its white leadership and described Soweto as “just wonderful” and lauded the country’s “free elections” despite being only available to whites.

Vetoes were common, including an early one that would have helped the state hospital regain accreditation. Those at the margins of society did not gain his sympathy. He often spoke ill of those that needed government assistance.

Never serving in the military, he was a typical chicken hawk, belligerent in his attitude toward communist nations. He suggested that the NH National Guard be given tactical nuclear weapons. Dressed in fatigues he showed up at a massive protest of the Clamshell Alliance at the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and had 1,414 protesters arrested and incarcerated at great state expense. He even deployed the National Guard when Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman spoke at UNH.

Mel’s damaging legacy lives on. All statewide politicians are forced to “take the pledge” against sales and income taxes. The state still has no public Kindergarten but you can load up on state sold liquor, buy fireworks that can’t be used within NH state lines, and pay a $2.00 toll for the privilege of traveling the 14 miles of I-95 in the state on your way to Boston. The Mel Thomson years did not give us a better life. We got his low taxes, actually no state broad based taxes but regressive property taxes, in exchange for low living and low services. His son, Thom Thomson, is a big tea party organizer in New Hampshire today reminding all that his father’s motto of "Low taxes are the result of low spending".

Mel Thomson did not govern. He paralyzed the state for three two-year terms. That allowed him to play act his tea party type fantasies. For six years we got form not function; we suffered symbols and were denied substance. Let’s not give the same opportunity to his next door political fanatic successor and like minded shoot from the hip talker, tax axing - cut ‘n slash ‘guvmint’, state’s rights advocate, right wing constitutionalist misconstruing, shut the liberal whiners up, Mister successful businessman, chicken hawk, town official and legend in his own mind, Paul LePage.