Keeping Both Hands on the Wheel

I’m no fan of our governor, Paul LePage. I guess most of you knew that. My dislike of our perpetually-angry governor is less about his politics (I find them abhorrent), and more about his lack of evolution as a human being.

I can’t recall if I ever shared my “three personal experiences” with Paul LePage story. Here’s one of them.

Back in the day when I was still rolling up my sleeves and doing yeoman’s duty in Maine’s workforce development community, I tried to reach out to the governor (back before he was the governor). He was at Marden’s and I was hoping the company might step-up and support our efforts to improve the skills of Maine’s workforce at the time by lending something tangible to the WorkReady program I was tasked to shepherd along.

Like he’s done countless times since becoming governor, he attacked me (on the phone), literally ranting and raving like a mad man, accusing me of not returning his phone calls. Actually, this was my first phone call to him on the matter at hand—inquiring about getting some Marden’s management and hiring decision-makers to come out and help with mock interviews. Instead, he continued his tirade, with me attempting to get a word in edgewise. Finally, I’d had enough and I said, “will you just shut up for a minute!” That stopped him in his tracks. Word to the wise, when dealing with a bully, you have to mirror their behavior to get noticed. Continue reading

A Lack of Words

I’m up to my elbows in outdoor projects right now. Having a house requires seasons when all your spare moments are devoted to home improvement activities.

Apparently, America is under some siege from Creepy Clowns. That’s an apt descriptor of Maine’s gubernatorial situation, as we have a clown in the Blaine House, and when he’s bullying some group or person he disagrees with, he acts like a creep, so that would make him creepy.

Obviously, I have little to write of any substance today. Actually, it’s less a case of content and more a situation of time.

Because I’ve had little time and energy to devote to fitness endeavors, I’ve been trying to swim twice weekly and today was my swim morning.

I hope to deliver something next week about a wonderful book I’ve been reading about Jeff Buckley this week. “Grace” has been in heavy rotation, too.

Happy Friday! Watch out for clowns that appear creepy.

Maine's creepy governor.

Maine’s creepy governor.

Another Mill Closes

WCSH-6 ran the following graphic, on Maine’s mill workforce between 1960 and the present. I saw it flash across the screen during their 5:00 a.m. newscast this morning before heading out for my morning swim at the Y.

The graphic and story looks like it was produced by the NBC affiliate in Bangor, WLBZ-2. The feature was a telling one and I grabbed the screenshot, representing the shedding of paper mill jobs, from their website, just so I’d have it.

The demise of papermaking in Maine; 1960-2015. (WCSH-6)

The demise of papermaking in Maine; 1960-2015. (WCSH-6)

Continue reading

The Search for Threes

I’ve mentioned the flaws of binary thinking before. The concept—framing things in terms of duality, or opposites—isn’t a new concept, and it tends to be the way that most issues are discussed in America and arguably, the West.

From a philosophical standpoint, the origins of this kind of thinking date back to Aristotle and Descartes. They first structured this type of logic, which consists of dividing, distinguishing and opposing items. When you see things in a binary construct, there’s no room for in-between or shades of gray; everything is black or white, good or bad, nice or ugly, good or evil, etc. It is the law of “all or nothing.”

Unfortunately, this kind of dualistic framework often leads to dead-ends, and at the very least, can divide people unnecessarily.

One of the best explanations and the one that really made me sit up and take notice, was written by John Michael Greer, and posted a few years ago at his blog, The Archdruid Report.

Greer takes the origins back even further than Aristotle and Descartes. He writes,

Most of the snap decisions our primate ancestors had to make on the African savannah are most efficiently sorted out into binary pairs: food/nonfood, predator/nonpredator, and so on. The drawbacks to this handy set of internal categories don’t seem to bother any of our primate relatives, and probably became an issue—like so much that’s part of magic—only when the rickety structure of the reasoning mind took shape over the top of the standard-issue social primate brain.

The problem with this snap-judgment way of seeing and making sense of the world is that in our current, non-hunting society, the binary framework eliminates the middle ground. In fact, we don’t even recognize a middle position. More often than not, it leads to division and conflict. Continue reading

This Is Not a Blog About Paul LePage

As tempting as it is to keep writing about issues and politics, I just don’t feel like taking on immigration this morning. I know the president gave a speech about it last night. I’m sure that half the country is aflame with hate and spewing vitriol this AM, but I just don’t have the heart or the energy to do the usual binary shuffle this early in the day. Although……

Speaking of vitriol, me and the newly re-elected governor rarely see eye-to-eye on any issue—that being said, three of my best five days for blog stats in 2014 involved posts centered on good ole’ Paul LePage—like this one on NASCAR and economic boondoggling. The next four years should be good ones for anyone buying stock in the LePage Blogging Industrial Complex. Continue reading

Luck Makes the Man

His story isn’t new. However, it’s one that’s been embellished. Sometimes it’s important to shine a little truth around, to at least temper some of the misinformation.

I find it telling that Governor Paul LePage, the recipient of largesse from benefactors when he was in his teens, continues to further his own twisted ideology and war on the poor, this time on the backs of 19 and 20-year-olds. In essence that’s what he attempted to do, except that a federal appeals court ruled that it was illegal, on Monday. Continue reading

Culturally Clueless

We’ve just stumbled through yet another mid-term election. As if the weeks of candidate commercials and political advertorials weren’t enough—we’ve now had to endure a week’s worth of hand-wringing and Monday morning quarterbacking coming from the pundit class.

What happened?

What happened?

If you aren’t Republican (I am not), then waking up Wednesday morning left most of us lefties scratching our heads. Some were even depressed about the results, talking about moving somewhere else. While progressive issues like raising the minimum wage, legalizing pot, and rejecting the passage of personhood won out in many states, this was a minor palliative for non-conservatives, with the counterpoint being that a Republican wave washed across the national landscape. Is this a sign that voters still have some progressive inclination? Better, it might demonstrate the schizophrenic nature of those going out to vote. Continue reading

Fear and Hatred

Thirty years ago, I thought I had all the answers. At 21, life seemed simple in some ways. Economically, things sucked—I was working at a job that paid 25 cents above minimum wage and I had a newborn son and wife to take care of. I was 1,500 miles from my family and support system in a post-industrial part of the country where the unemployment rate was hovering around 15 percent. But I was okay because I was in the center of God’s will.

It’s interesting when you believe that the answers to life’s questions are contained in a book that was written by men who lived 2,000 years ago. Whenever things didn’t go right for Mary and me, the solution offered by our spiritual leaders was to pray, give more money to Jack Hyles, and drag a few more converts down the aisle to get baptized at First Baptist Church of Hammond. Continue reading

Jesus and Maine Politics

In the world of alternative weeklies, topics covered aren’t usually the same ones that the mainstream dailies cover. If they are, there’s often more depth in reporting, or, a slightly different angle offered. Writing for an alternative weekly (or monthly) often allows a bit more leeway, also.

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Maine is Open for Boondoggles

The Maine Open for Business Chevrolet. (Associated Press photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The governor has decreed that Maine should hang its economic fortunes on the Maine Is Open for Business Chevrolet and Austin Theriault’s skill as a driver. This seems to be a foolhardy plan at best, hearkening back to economic development principles known as “smokestack chasing,” which arguably worked in the 1960s and 1970s, but are about 50 years out of date. Here’s what Peter Boothroyd and H. Craig Davis had to say about the practice in their 1993 report titled, “Community Economic Development: Three Approaches,” from the Journal of Planning Education and Research—I have a hunch that the governor doesn’t have a subscription to it.

Traditionally, growth has been espoused and promoted by chambers of commerce, unions, and politicians who have grasped at any opportunity to attract investment in order to increase the size of the local economy. This traditional, often haphazard approach to growth promotion has been labeled “smokestack chasing” by its detractors.

Yet, the governor and I’m guessing his economic development gurus, John Butera and George Gervais, apparently cooked this up and think this is a viable strategy. Butera’s economic development claim to fame is FirstPark in Oakland, another example of “putting all your eggs in one basket,” hoping for a home run by attracting a large employer to ride in on a white horse and bestow hundreds of jobs on a community or region. Continue reading