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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Maine's Eloquent History

Politicians usually enjoy a good "buzz" either about something good they have been involved in or something negative about their opponents.  It's a natural inclination to learn what the water cooler folks are saying about the state of the state.  In Maine, my experience about water cooler talk is reticence - the people generally don't like to cause trouble.  Except when the newly elected Governor LePage makes the news over and over again because of his miserable communications.  An echo of discontent about the Governor and his poor judgement with regard to communications is growing into a deafening rock concert of disbelief.  Now we read a rather substantial article in the January  25, 2011 edition of Newsweek Magazine, where the lead sentence credits the right wing Tea Party with the Maine governor's election.  What's worse, the rest of the article goes down hill from there.  Portland Press Herald owner rightly wrote an op-ed piece in the Maine Sunday Telegram saying Maine has too much at economic risk with a Governor who cannot manage his communications.  In other words, the Governor must clean up his style.

In the weekly Forecaster newspaper, contributor Edgar Allen Beem said the Governor's latest objectionable remark regarding the NAACP and the Martin Luther King Day events he didn't want to attend (i.e.the " kiss my butt" statement), was as "appealing as passing gas in a crowded room...."  (Forecaster January 28, 2011, p. 7).

And so it goes (to borrow a Kurt Vonneghut phrase).

Most troubling about the LePage honeymoon mis-comments is the morale reflected in the tone of the Maine State House, where it seems as though people are walking on rotten eggs.  My impression, after being in the Capitol Rotunda two times this past week, was like I entered a medieval movie plot. People who I usually know to be outgoing were whispering in the wings; the usual camaraderie between legislators and the public was obviously strained. Nobody wants to be caught "on mike" talking or answering questions about Governor LePage or his administration.  Behind the scenes, however, I have never heard such bold "water cooler" talk in Maine government.  One legislator commented to me about how Governor LePage gave his daughter a $40,000 job in his administration.  This particular legislator said, "I wish the Governor would offer me a $40,000 a year job to work here!"  In fact, Maine legislators are only paid a few thousand dollars a year for their two year term of public service.

How can Mr. LePage wake up in the morning knowing he inherited the eloquent legacy of Margaret Chase Smith, Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins, Secretary of State Muskie, Senator William Cohen, Senator George Mitchell, Governor John McKernan, Governor Angus King and General/Governor Joshua Chamberlain, to name a few, and then proceed to act so poorly in word and deed?

So it goes.  And we are only two and a half weeks into this LePage administration, but who is counting?  Ahem!  Newsweek will probably want a follow up story.

LePage is not generating good "buzz"

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Blunt Talk Could Hobble New Maine Governor - Newsweek

Blunt Talk Could Hobble New Maine Governor - Newsweek

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sitting Together - Eliminate Hyper-partisanship

We know what it means to play nice in the sandbox. 

Therefore, wouldn't it be nice to see our elected US Congress follow the advice of the kindergarten teachers who taught us to play nicely together?  There's a proposal moving forward for Republicans and Democrats to sit side by side, rather than in separate blocks, during the State of the Union Speech (Tuesday January 25th), when President Obama leads our nation into a discussion of the goals and objectives under his administration.
No Labels supports this proposal.

No Labels is a political movement organizing with the purpose of eliminating hyperpartisanship in our government.  In other words, one purpose of No Labels is to balance the extremism currently creating the viral and toxic environment in media discussions about politics and public policy issues.  A crescendo of this hyperpartisanship reached deafening levels following the tragic assasination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, where 6 people were killed including a 9 year old girl, a US federal judge and a 30 year old congressional aide. 

Entirely too many people are, sadly, dead as a result of the Tuscon shooting incident. 

Although hyperpartisanship did not cause a crazy gunman to shoot innocent people in Tuscon, the poisionous tone of political rhetoric these days was vetted by the media as a result of the killings and assasination attempt.

Let's get behind the No Labels movement to end hyper-partisanship. In so doing, we support open discussion of issues without fear of retribution from anybody.  Freedom of Speech means just that, period.  We can debate issues for the purpose of resolving differences.  Compromise is how we all move forward.  Civics 101 teaches us that America's greatest moments came when our leaders engaged in compromise for the purpose of reaching a common goal. 

US history calls us to emulate the leadership of our founders.  They, too, had serious differences. Nonetheless, history teaches us how they put individual issues aside in order to form a more perfect nation.

Hopefully, the US Congress will take the lessons of this past tragic week in Tuscon very seriously, by leading us into an age whereby bipartisan discussion is supported rather than disdained.  Let's see our elected leaders sitting together during President Obama's State of the Union Address. 

Working together as Americans is a goal of No Labels. Let's eliminate hyper-partisanship in government.

Thank you to our kindergarten teachers for molding us according to The Golden Rule.  God Bless those who died in Tuscon. May we, the living, protect the freedoms we value to preserve our nation's future.  

Check www.nolabes.org.  Not Left, Not Right, Just Forward.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fodder for Saturday Night Live: Maine Governor LePage Needs an Agent - Please!

Regardless of how Maine people voted in the 2010 gubernatorial election, Governor LePage is now fodder for anybody who wants to make a living by using his inappropriate language with the press.  Believe it or not, Ripley would be able to make money off of Governor LePage by posting his outrageous language in a larger than life museum. Thirty-eight percent of Maine voters supported this man, even after he was filmed saying he would tell the President of our country to "Go to Hell!”  He lied during his campaign when he denied knowing anything about the Tea Party.  Yada...yada...yada!
 
On Friday January 14, 2011, he said "Kiss my butt" (did he mean "ass"?) in response to a reporter who asked about the Governor not attending an NAACP ceremony in honor of Martin Luther King Day.

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, it's time for Governor LePage to read some of the late Civil Rights hero's quotes to memorize for future use.  As the leaders of all Maine people including children, Governor LePage should learn the quote. "A leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus".

In the Governor's inauguration speech, he called for Maine to work together, but he is dividing the state into small slices by using inappropriate language unbecoming of a head of a state.  Mainers are embarrassed, they are defensive and stunned.  A few are just as inappropriately calling the Governor's quotes "cute" and refreshing, as though he doused them with a blast of Arctic air.  Well, I ask, would those star struck defenders say the same if a professional teacher in their child or grandchild's school system used the very same language in front of a classroom?  Even more, what about using this language in a letter to parents? I don't think so.

These blogs and newspaper stories are divisive, definitely not building consensus around policies as important as the economy and education are to Maine's future.  When he thinks he's being cute with inappropriate language, all the Governor is doing is erasing whatever message he wants Maine people to hear about his policies.

As a role model, shame on you, Governor LePage.

It's inevitable for spoofs of Saturday Night Live or the Maine comedian Bob Marley to have a fun with the Governor's language.  All of which is to say - if Saturday Night Live would like a real politician doing jokes live from New York on a weekly basis, then ask them to connect with Maine Governor Paul LePage.

Does Governor LePage have a theater publicist or agent, yet?  Take him, please.


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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford - A Tragic Clarion Call

Rather than post a rhetorical blog against the evils that lead to senseless murders by gunfire, the killing of Americans who are not at war, for apparent insane reasons, let's begin with another premise. The tragic shooting today, January 8th, of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford of Arizona, and the unnecessary murders of innocent bystanders including a federal judge, are avoidable deaths. In a hospital, an incident with far less significance would bring up licensing issues and questions about the safety of policies to protect the public.

Political polarization is the root of the hatred which likely led to the shootings in Tuscon, with Congresswoman Gifford the target and innocent victims the collateral damage. One crazy person with a gun was intent on murder and he succeeded because the victims had no defense.

How much more evidence do Americans need to finally get it? While politicians and self appointed gurus waste time and money worrying about turning our country "socialist", we are, instead, risking anarchy if gun control is not taken seriously.

Moreover, political rhetoric must become civilized! Of course, civility is difficult for the media, that thinks spreading unsubstantiated emotional turmoil is a freedom of speech issue. We must behave responsibly when discussing political differences because the louder political pundits criticize one another, the more virulent their deafening messages become in the ears of those with mental illness who happen to own guns.

I am so sorry for all those who were shot today in Arizona, the result of a crazy person who wanted to kill people who were practicing their right to free speech with Congresswoman Gifford in a supermarket.

My sympathy to the people of Arizona who must come to terms with these senseless murders. Yet, after all the gun powder is cleaned up and the funerals take place, how will we fix the root cause of this enormous tragedy?

Perhaps the the enemies of Congresswoman Gifford should take responsibility for creating her political dehumanization. I did not hear anybody from the Tea Party calling for sympathy about Congresswoman Gifford and the other victims.

Where are you Sarah Palin?  Where is your clarion call for sanity?

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