Friday, December 16, 2011

My Time Questioning Her Time At Wal-Mart...

I'm sure most of you, if not all, have seen it by now.  The blog post by "CollegeConservative" about welfare abuse.  For those that haven't, it's right here.  First of all, I can't take anyone seriously if the advertisement on their page is referencing  President Obama is not a communist.  President Bush wasn't Hitler.  Look, you can dislike their politics, but leave the stupid comparisons to evil people alone.  You lose all credibility right off the bat.  Anyways, I saw the link to the blog post showing up in my Facebook feeds like crazy the other day.  I had to read it to find out what everyone was talking about.  Well, what I read was, in my opinion, a steaming pile of human excrement.  Basically, "college conservative" is painting people that use food stamps or other forms of State and Federal aid as a freeloading "Welfare Queen".  Hold on a minute, what?

First of all, I'm not going to suggest, not for a minute, that abuse is not happening.  Anyone who denies that people are abusing the welfare system is kidding themselves.  That said, abuse is happening everywhere, by people of all walks of life.  This isn't just being done by the poorest among us, it is absolutely happening among wealthy people as well.  People will always find a way to screw the system.  What angers me more than anything else on this subject, though, is how so many people paint with a broad brush.  I understand that abuse upsets people, I do.  However, it is completely inaccurate to suggest that abuse is widespread or that everyone receiving aid is a "freeloader" or that they are "lazy". 

Let's look at some of the information that College Conservative puts forward as facts.  She claims to have worked at the Scarborough Wal-Mart for the summers of 2010 and 2011.  She says that, in that time, she "witnessed generations of families all relying on the state to buy food and other items".  Again, perhaps this is true, to an extent, but she casually observed this while scanning items at the checkout counter over the course of two summers?  Generations of families?  Really?  This, again, seems like a pretty broad accusation.  Did she know the families personally?  Did they shop together, therefore she assumed they were families?  To me, too many questions to assume she saw "generations" of families relying on the state.

People ignored her while they talked on their iPhone.  First of all, people of all stripes do this everywhere.  It happens at the drive thru, the bank and toll booths.  It's annoying, no matter who you are.   However, she loses me when she starts using numbers.  "For those of you keeping score at home, an iPhone is at least $200, and requires a data package of at least $25 a month. If a person can spend $25+ a month so they can watch YouTube 24/7, I don’t see why they can’t spend that money on food," she says.  Perhaps the phone is a hand-me-down from mom and dad.  Perhaps they don't have a data plan that allows them to "watch YouTube 24/7".  Perhaps they didn't pay $200 for the phone, and got a refurbished version for considerably less, much like I did.  Again, alot of assumptions here, and to quote my high school Botany teacher, you know what happens when you assume, right?

She ridicules people for using TANF benefits to purchase things such as Kit Kat bars, beer and a slip and slide, then goes on to say that there are no restrictions on what TANF benefits can be used for.  So, where is the abuse?  Were they all great choices for uses of the funds?  Not necessarily, but who are we to judge.  If a person wants to waste benefits they are eligible for, and go without something that could be more beneficial, that is their choice.  If you have a problem with the system, fix that, don't ridicule the individual for doing what they have every right to do.

Extravagant purchases made with food stamps, such as steaks, lobsters and giant birthday cakes.  Again, if the system is set up in such a way that this is acceptable, then the people following the rules aren't the problem.  If a person wants to use $60 in food stamps to purchase lobster, and then has nothing else to show for it, that is their choice.  Sure, it may not be a smart move on their part, but who am I to judge.  As for birthday cakes, perhaps that is because they have a child having a birthday, and they can't do much for them, but they can at least get them a cake.  Why is that so wrong?  Are poor children not allowed to have a birthday cake? 

The hot dog vendor that purchases all of his supplies (hot dogs, buns, condiments, etc) using food stamps is an interesting case.  If this is true, that's not cool.  If this is true, I would agree, this is wrong.  However, I'd need more information first, before accusing him of any wrongdoing.  This is another case of jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts.  If he is breaking the rules, kick him off the system.  If what he is doing is well within the current guidelines, be mad all you want, but it is legit. 

The issue of entitlement is absolutely a problem, and one I won't argue with her about.  That said, it's not just by benefit recipients.  There are people all around us, both rich, poor and middle class that walk around like their shit doesn't stink.  Nobody is entitled to anything.  We must work for it.  If we hit a bump in the road, and we need assistance in one form or another, then so be it, there is a safety net in place for just that reason.  It can hit any of us at any time.  I've been there before.  You have to swallow your pride and accept reality, and it isn't always easy.  There is no reason to feel like you are above anyone else, no matter what the reason. 

Maine does have a large chunk of the population receiving benefits, and again, I'm certain that there is abuse happening within the system.  That said, suggesting that people that are on welfare assistance are lazy freeloaders is not only wrong, but it's insulting.  If we feel that there is a problem with how the system works, then we need to focus on that, not by attacking people that are already down on their luck.  Until we walk a mile in their shoes we have absolutely no right to suggest we know anything about them or their situation.  If we spent more time figuring out how to get these people back to work and earning a paycheck, and less time demonizing them, we would all be much further ahead.  Until then, pieces like the one from College Conservative do nothing but incite anger and class warfare, and that is not helpful.  I'm just saying...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Right idea, wrong approach...

Occupy Wall Street.  I'm sure you've heard about it by now.  Heck, it has spread all over this country, even all over the world.  What is it?  What do they stand for?  Who is leading the charge?  What are they hoping the outcome will be?  While the movement may only be two months old, there are still so many questions remaining.  Let's see if I can touch upon a few of them, and give my impressions of the movement.

First of all, what is Occupy Wall Street?  Conceptually, I think it is great.  I see OWS as a movement of people fed up with politics as usual.  This country has shifted from the land of opportunity to the land of haves and have nots.  We continue to see the gap between wealthy and poor grow wider and people are rightfully upset about this.  Now, before you accuse me of hating rich people or spewing class warfare, stop, I don't begrudge someone for having money.  If they have worked hard and earned their money, good for them!  What I am tired of, however, is the loopholes the rich are given at the expense of us in the middle class.  People with money are able to influence those on Capital Hill to help them out even more, while people like me are only able to see my bank account get bigger by picking up a 3rd, 4th or 5th job.  I do not want to be given anything, I want to work for it.  Like I said, I'm not mad at you for your successes in life, I applaud you.  That said, I'm tired of paying more in taxes so you can get a break.

Like I said before, conceptually this idea is fantastic.  However, I'm not sure we should be mad at those on Wall Street.  While I feel many of them may be immoral people, they haven't broken any laws.  They are operating under the current set of laws, whether we like them or not.  That said, our anger should be directed toward our elected officials past and present in Washington DC.  They are the ones who make the rules.  They are the ones that continue to give tax breaks to the wealthiest among us.  They are the ones who have a lower approval rating than the Kardashians for gods sake.  We should be occupying DC, and reminding Congress that they work for all of us, not just a select few.

I recently tried to explain to my 9 year old daughter what they were doing as we drove by Lincoln Park in Portland, where the Occupy Maine group is camping out.  She had a hard time understanding it all, and rightfully so, she is only 9, but her first comment was, why camp out?  I couldn't answer this question.  I don't really know.  I mean, I get that in order to occupy an area you need to set up shop.  I get it.  However, I think it is a bad way to protest.  We have the most powerful form of protesting, our vote.  If we are unhappy with how things are going, we can go to the ballot box and vote for people who will do right for the people.  If the new batch of politicians can't do what is right, we can vote them out and start over.  However, in order to make this work we have to stop worrying about party affiliation and insist that no matter what you call yourself, a Democrat or a Republican, you need to look out for everyone, not just those that give you the most in bribes.

Every good movement needs leadership.  While I appreciate their attempt to keep this open to more people, it's hard to not have a central person to be the face of the movement.  What's worse, is now it is starting to spin out of control.  With no real leadership to speak of, and occupiers intentionally getting arrested to make some point, this movement will fall flat on its face.  Again, I want to rally behind them, but I simply cannot.  In order to turn things around and make this movement become a legitimate force, like the Tea Party did, it needs individuals to stand up and proclaim its purpose and goals.  It needs someone to whip the occupiers into shape and lead them in a positive direction.  You can claim that you are peacefully protesting until you are blue in the face, but with every arrest, every riot, every person that smashes a window, you lose more and more credibility. 

In all honesty, I'm losing hope for the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I'm hopeful that the concept can live on, but I think the movement itself is losing any steam it may have once had.  If there is truly a large percentage, say 99%, that is pissed off with politics as usual, then we need to hit the ballot boxes next November and send a message to the politicians in Washington.  If they aren't going to do what is best for all of us, we need to send them home so someone else will.  That is how you get a point across.  Stop trashing parks and blocking bridges.  All that is going to do is disrupt the lives of people who have nothing to do with this, and that isn't acceptable.  If you want to be taken seriously, do the right thing and make change, don't site around and bitch about it.  I'm just saying...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I have a fear of falling, but I love the fall...

We've had a pretty great stretch of weather lately.  Sure, there has been some rain sprinkled in, but the past two weekends have been great.  I mowed for what is, hopefully, the last time of the year on Sunday.  Not with my mower, mind you.  No, that hunk of junk wouldn't work longer than five minutes.  Nope, instead, I had to borrow the neighbors mower.  Not that I am a macho man, but there is something embarrassing about borrowing a lawn mower from your 25 year old female neighbor.  Whatever, I got the lawn done, that's all that matters.  Anyways, enough about me, how about what is going on around us...

9-9-9.  It's a catchy title.  It's easy to remember.  It's great if you are rich.  It's awful if you are middle class or poor.  Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan is getting all sorts of headlines right now.  The reason it is so bad for poor people is that many of the poor pay no income taxes, Social Security taxes or Medicare taxes. Therefore, wiping away the current tax structure and replacing it with a 9 percent income tax for everyone means they will be paying more. In addition, the poor, like everyone else, will have to pay the plans new 9 percent federal sales tax, and they are the least able to afford it.  Some might call that doubling down on the nation's poorest people, but not Herman Cain.  Press him on the issue and he'll give you nothing more than a "read the plan" and then change the subject.  I guess, if you are looking for something good in the plan, at least the 9% sales tax is only on new goods.  That way, if you want to go to the used grocery store, you can do so without worrying about a higher sales tax.

Anita Perry, wife of Republican Presidential Nominee hopeful Rick Perry, claimed that her husband has been bullied because of his faith.  Really?  I'll quickly counter that with two thoughts.  One, Rick Perry has been bullied, that is true, but not because of his faith.  No, he's been bullied because he can't form complete sentences.  He's been an absolute train wreck at the debates.  He's been stumbling all over himself no matter what the subject matter.  Oh, and he has given in state tuition rates to illegal aliens.  The Republican base isn't too keen on that sort of thing.  The other thought I have on this subject is about Rick Perry's faith.  First of all, I don't care what faith he practices.  That sort of thing is for him, not me, to worry about.  Secondly, Anita Perry does realize that the Republican base is made up of Evangelical Christians, right?  If anyone is getting bullied because of their religion it is Mitt Romney for being Mormon.  I'd say John Huntsman as well, but nobody it talking about him, which is too bad.  I think he would actually be a good choice.

LePage excludes nonprofit groups from upcoming forums.  The LePage administration is under fire, again, for their decision to not invite the Maine Association of Nonprofits to a workshop designed to share ideas on how to get Maine's economy back on track.  According to Lauren LePage, the governor's daughter and assistant to the Chief of Staff, it was “because the goal is to hear firsthand from businesses, first priority will be given to them with seating,” Lauren LePage wrote. “If the situation changes as the event nears, I would be happy to include you on an alternate list and contact you.”  Quickly, I'd like to point out that non-profits in Maine employ 82,000 people all over the state.  These people work very hard, pay their taxes, and give back to the community in a variety of ways.  Sounds to me like non-profits are job creators as well, and should have a seat at the head of the table.  Is this papa LePage's way of getting back at those he doesn't think helped contribute to his campaign?  Is this a new group of people / businesses we are going to try to vilify to make them sound inferior?  Are we now supposed to be mad at non-profits because of their tax exempt status?  Is it because they receive, in some cases, funding from state and federal government? 

Let me drop a little knowledge.  I worked for the Children's Theatre of Maine several years ago.  We employed a minimum of 6 people year round.  We employed another 10-40 people on an as needed basis.  We paid rent for two locations.  We bought office supplies at local stores.  We purchased the items needed to set up stages, make costumes and put on classes at local stores.  Our main goal was to give back to the community, and we never got a dime from the state or federal government.  Without that great organization, many children wouldn't not have been inspired to take up acting.  Many families would not have had a wonderful experience watching a play together, performed by local actors of all ages.  Not one person on the staff made very much money.  We worked hard because we believed in the what we were doing.  Many non-profits are just like that.  Without these types of organizations, many people will not receive the goods and services they enjoy or simply need.  Without these types of organizations, many people will be without work, doing further damage to our already struggling economy.  Simply put, these organizations are a vital part of our community, and need to be viewed that way.  We need to stop seeing one person, or in this case, type of business, as better than another.  We are all in this together, and we need to start acting that way.  I'm just saying...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Class warfare, flip flops and a major collapse...

It's been one hell of a week.  The weekend is just a couple of hours away, and some fun times are on tap.  After this week, it can't come soon enough.  I've calmed down a little bit from my high stress of this morning, but I still have a few things on my mind that I would like to throw down on paper (assuming I was actually writing this in a notebook).  Here goes...

The term "class warfare" has been tossed around a lot lately.  Republicans are continuously accusing President Obama of class warfare due to his talk about the wealthiest American's paying their fair share in taxes.  Now, that is not the subject of this post, though I would love to debate that whole issue at another time.  My issue with that term is this.  Nichole and I listen to WLOB (1310 AM) on the way to work just about every morning.  We like to hear how host Ray Richardson sees the world through his eyes.  It's most often completely different than the way we see things, but I love the local political talk.  This morning Ray went on one of his usual rants.  He wasn't as excited as he can get, but he was going on and on about how he is sick and tired of paying his tax dollars to people who don't work.  He thinks it is insane that his hard earned money is going to people who aren't contributing to society.  Quick question for you.  How is this not class warfare?  Unemployment is extremely high right now, and a record number of people are collecting benefits.  That doesn't mean they haven't paid into the system themselves.  That doesn't mean they aren't trying their hardest to find work, to no avail.  Why is this sort of talk not considered class warfare? 

Oh, Governor LePage.  I didn't vote for you.  If given another opportunity, I wouldn't vote for you.  However, I want to support you.  I want you to succeed, because the great State of Maine needs you to succeed.  Let me tell you something though, any positive thing you do for the great people of this state will easily be lost and forgotten if you continue to lie and act like a buffoon.  Back in April, you ordered that the labor mural be taken down because of an anonymous fax.  I'm sorry, I'm not sure I believe that, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.  Next thing we all know you are saying you removed it (and hid it in a "safe place") because it only spoke to one side, labor, and you wanted to see business represented as well.  Now, fast forward to late September, on a stage in New York City, you told Brian Williams of NBC that you removed it because you didn't like how it was paid for?!  Look, was that an out of left field question thrown at you during an education summit?  Yes, that was unfair of Williams to do that, I'll give you that.  However, you gave a new answer, one that you have not given previously.  Have you been lying all along, or was this a new lie?  And what union were you a part of?  I mean, you said you "come up from organized labor through my whole life", so you must have belonged to a labor union at some point, right?  Again, I want you to succeed, so please, do us all a favor.  Work hard and keep your mouth closed.  It's best for all of us, trust me.

As a rabid Red Sox fan, our baseball season ended the way it began, with a thud.  After starting the season with a terrible 2-10 record, they were the hottest team in baseball for the better part of the summer.  Then came September, where they compiled an embarrassing 5-20 record.  Every team slumps at some point in the season, but the good teams don't usually slump for an entire month.  What makes it worse is that they gave up both the division lead, as well as the Wild Card lead over the course of the month.  It was a collapse for the record books.  It is something that you do not want attached to your team.  It hurts.  However, I do not want to see the team overreact.  Fans all over New England and beyond are going insane right now.  Fire Francona, trade Crawford, feed Dice-K to sharks, put Lackey in a dunk tank filled with piranhas, etc. 

Please, everyone calm down.  JD Drew's contract is up.  Dice-K won't be back from Tommy John surgery until late August or early September next season, and he won't ever pitch for Boston again (I don't think).  Buchholz will be back from his injury and ready to dominate.  I'll play the role of Theo Epstein and tell you exactly what you need to do.  Sign a right fielder.  Someone like Josh Willingham or Jason Kubel.  Someone that will give you 20/80 and is a solid outfielder.  Pick up Marco Scutaro's option.  He was solid defensively and batted .300, and has been the best shortstop in the Theo era.  Resign Papelbon and Ortiz.  You will not find a better DH than Big Papi, and he is a fan favorite.  Papelbon needs to stay, at least for another year or two.  Bard is clearly not ready to close, and Pap has been one of the best since he came onto the scene.  With those positions set, go after pitching.  Get more pitching.  Once you have more pitching, go after more pitching.  You CANNOT have enough pitching, whether it's starters or bullpen guys.  Go get them, they are out there.  Pitching is what killed us, so let's do something about it.  Unfortunately, Francona and the Sox decided to part ways.  That makes me sad.  He brought us our first World Series in 86 years.  I can only hope the next guy can be mentioned in the same sentence years from now with Tito.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oh Charlie, the only fraud here is you!

I'm not sure if you've all gotten the memo yet, but voter fraud is rampant in Maine.   It's most prevalent on college campuses.  Those darn kids are always messing things up.  We just want to make sure informed people vote, why do those silly kids always think they know everything?  See, it was different when I was in college, I knew about all the issues, and was able to vote because I fit into all the required criteria.  Not like today, when kids just play Playstation and watch Family Guy.  They have no idea what is going on around them.  It's simply awful that we still allow them to disenfranchise the local townspeople by voting.  I mean, that's what Charlie Webster, head of the Maine Republican Party says, so it must be correct, right?

Actually, voter fraud is anything but rampant in Maine.  This whole game that Mr. Webster has been playing this summer has been a farce, and we all knew it.  Heck, even those that supported Webster knew, deep down, that he was full of crap.  As I'm sure you remember, Charlie came out earlier this summer with his list of 206 names of out of state college students that he felt committed fraud (here's a link to the press conference if you haven't seen it).  He handed his list of "offenders" off to the Maine Secretary of State, Charlie Summers, and just yesterday, Summers came back with the results of his research.  After two months, and much digging and prodding, it turns out, not a single one of the students on the list had committed any type of fraud.  See, the problem for Webster, and the Republicans that believe there is massive amounts of fraud going on here, is that college students aren't the problem.  In fact, there isn't a problem at all.  The elimination of Same Day Registration by the Maine Legislature was a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. 

See, college students were the targets of Webster's attack.  They have every right, by law, to vote where they go to school.  They voted once, in the town that they live in, just as college students have done for years, and will continue to do for years to come.  The real issue, as far as I can tell, is that Webster, and I'm sure others too, don't like that college students have the ability to possibly sway an election, and the perception is that college students tend to lean to the left.  It's pretty clear to me that this scares our friend Charlie Webster.  So, instead of engaging college students in a positive manner, he accuses them of cheating.  I'm not sure that will go very far to convincing them to support the Republican's agenda.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see college students come out, in droves, to vote this November, especially for Question 1, which looks to reinstate same day voter registration. 

In the end, I'm glad Secretary of State Summers looked into potential fraud.  It proves that there was no funny business going on, and that our town officials are doing their jobs.  It proves that our system works, despite the cries of many on the right.  It also should put an end to this nonsense about college students and voting.  We want to encourage everyone to vote, to be involved in their community, and to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  We especially want college students to feel that way, as we want them to stay after graduation and contribute to Maine's economy by living, working and playing here.  I am proud that Maine has one of the highest voter turnouts in the country, and hope to see that continue.  I want to thank all of our town officials for all the hard work they do, and I want to encourage everyone to get out and vote on Question 1 on November 8 to reinstate same day voter registration.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rot roh, I'm at it again...

There are two things I'm very passionate about in life.  One is peanut butter M&M's, the other is same sex marriage.  OK, I'm passionate about more than that, but these damn M&M's are just so good, I can't stop eating them!  For real though, the issue of same sex marriage is extremely important to me.  Obviously, I'm not gay.  I am happily married to my absolute best friend, Nichole.  No, my reasoning is because I believe in equal rights, no matter what color your skin is, what religion you follow, what year you were born, or who you sleep beside at night.  We are all equal.  Sure, some have better athletic abilities, or superior public speaking skills, or the ability to do math without a calculator, but at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and deserve the same love and respect as everyone else. 

This week, the Maine Attorney General, Charlie Summers, approved the language of the citizen's initiative to allow same sex marriage in Maine.  I know, we've been down that road before, just a couple of years ago, with the effort falling short at the hands of the Maine voters.  Well, I think it's time to try it again.  New York just passed a law allowing same sex marriages to be legal, and I'm hopeful Maine will be able to do the same thing.  This much I know for sure, I'll do my part to help collect signatures and spread the word.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking ill thoughts right now.  That's fine, I know not everyone feels the same way as me on this subject.  That being said, let me just toss some ideas out there for you to chew on.  How does the marriage of two people you do not know have any bearing on your life?  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2005, 2.23 million people were married.  How many of them did you know about?  You should be outraged, all those weddings really affected you 6 years ago, right?  What's that?  It had no bearing on you whatsoever?  Oh, that's right.  So, why is it that two people of the same sex bothers you? 

One argument I've heard is, what happens next?  If we allow two women to marry, what's to stop someone from marrying their dog or their truck.  They love their truck, why can't they marry their truck?  OK, besides the fact that this is just ludicrous, I'll offer you this.  When your dog, or your truck can sign their name on the marriage certificate, you feel free to marry your dog or your truck.  Until then, that is just a nonsensical argument, and I am not able to take you seriously.

Look, this issue appears to be very left vs. right.  Democrats, for the most part, want this to pass.  Republicans, for the most part, want this to fail.  Based on that, I have a question.  Republicans continuously claim that they want government to get out of their way and stop restricting them.  Then, in the same breath, want the government to ensure that marriage equality is outlawed.  So, which is it?  Less government restrictions, or just certain government restrictions?  I love the argument for smaller government.  All that means is smaller government for things you don't want.  It'll be status quo or larger government in areas you are concerned with though. 

Why do we care what ANYONE does behind closed doors?  Seems to me, this would be for each individual to decide for themselves.  If two people are happy, who am I to tell them they can't have everything that I have?  With a divorce rate of 1 out of every 2 marriages, who the hell are we to say that two loving, consenting adults can't marry?  No, let's not let that happen, but if Newt Gingrich, mister family values himself want to get married again, that's totally fine.  Come on, this is a silly argument.  We are all equal members of society, regardless of who we lay our head next to at the end of the day.  It's time that we treat each other equally. 

I'm going to close by quoting two musicians, with much different backgrounds.  I've got a very diverse music collection, and this will prove that.  My first quote is from the song "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye.  In it, he says the following:

"You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today"

while the other line is from "Changes" by Tupac:

"I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other.
We gotta start makin' changes, learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers."

See, the point of each song is to point out that there is no difference between you and me.  We need to stop demonizing people because they don't act or look like us, and remember that we are all humans, and at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters.  Deep down, we all want the same things, and you know what, we deserve the same things.  I'm just saying...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crisis averted, sort of...

As you have certainly heard by now, the debt ceiling was raised on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially catastrophic situation.  Talking heads across the country have been giving their thoughts, and depending on which side of the aisle you are on, the deal was either really good or really bad.  I'm far from a pundit, or a talking head, but I've got a few thoughts on the "deal".  Here goes...

First of all, to call it a deal means that each side at the negotiating table got something they wanted, while having to give up something else they may have wanted.  With that in mind, this was NOT a deal.  Sure, President Obama won't have to go through another debt ceiling debate in his first term (assuming he gets re-elected), but to quote Speaker of the House John Boehner, "I'm pretty happy" because he got "98 percent of what he wanted" in the legislation.  In short, one side of the debate getting 98% of what it wanted seems to be about as far away from a compromise as possible, especially considering how far apart the two sides were in the negotiations. 

In other words, Democrats lost in this deal, and that would be due to President Obama completely caving in and allowing the Tea Party to dictate what would happen.  As a Democrat, this whole process sickened me.  Do we spend too much money?  You bet.  Do we bring in too little revenue?  Sure thing.  There is absolutely wasteful spending going on in Washington, but to sit here and say we only have a spending problem is absolutely untrue.  The one example that has come up a lot lately is that of General Electric.  They made $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, yet they received a $3.2 billion tax credit!  If you find nothing wrong with this picture, I don't even want to talk to you.  You are so wrong I don't even want to waste my time arguing with you.  Look, I'm not one to punish success.  However, there is no reason that me and my puny salary should have to pay taxes every year and GE, a giant corporation making billions of dollars walks away with a fat check from the government.  That is a giant problem!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, that I want to punish success.  Not true, not even a little.  Truth is, I hope to make $14.2 billion in profits someday, and when that happens, I would fully expect to pay taxes on that profit, not get a check.  Asking those that make $250,000 and above to pay their fair share is not a lot to ask.  Again, I know what you are going to say.  The top 20% are already paying the bulk of the total tax burden while the bottom 40% pay little to no taxes.  I've heard that line from so many people over the past few weeks.  First of all, that is a complete lie.  Second of all, poor people pay less in taxes than rich people, as they should, but it's very far from zero.  Low incomes account for many that pay little to no taxes.  Senior citizens receiving SSI don't pay taxes because it is exempt from federal taxes.  Plus, the tax code provides benefits to low income earners with children (child tax credit, earned income tax credit).  Also, to say that Joe, who works at McDonalds for minimum wage, bringing home $15,000 a year should be paying more in taxes is just insane.  Joe can barely feed himself, let alone pay for housing, feed a family and pay for reliable transportation.  Meanwhile, Johnny Hedge Fund Manager is bringing home $500 million a year, and is able to pay just a small portion of that money due to loopholes.  Johnny HFM is certainly paying a higher amount than Joe, but paying more would impact him much less. 

Anyway, while I think that the Democrats lost this battle, the real loser in all of this is the American people.  We took this one on the chin.  We may have avoided a default, which would have hurt us even worse, but the cuts that have been agreed upon are going to hurt average, every day Americans like you and me.  Add to that the loss of faith we have in our elected officials, and the fact that they are really only concerned about their next election, not doing right by us, and we came out on the losing end, big time.  Good news is, in just a few months, the new Super Congress will start the next argument of what will get cut next, all while refusing to include any revenue in the argument.  Maybe Canada isn't looking so bad after all.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Same Day Voter Registration, problem or not?

Depending on who you talk to, this is either a huge deal, or no big deal at all.  One thing is certain, it has quickly morphed from something nobody talked about to one of the most contentious laws our new Governor has signed into law.  The issue at hand is whether or not Maine citizens should be allowed to register to vote on Election Day.  Mainer's have had the ability to register at their local polls for 38 years, after the Republicans originally passed it into law.  Now, nearly four decades later, the same Republican party is trying hard to convince us all that this is the worst thing in the world.  Is it the worst thing in the world?  Heck no, not even close.  Let's look at both sides of the issue...

The majority of Republicans in both the House and Senate would tell you that there is plenty of time throughout the year to get into your local town office and register.  They would tell you that this will prevent potential voter fraud.  They will tell you that 42 others states have the same law, so they must be doing something right.  They would tell you that town employees are overwhelmed with all the work to register people on Election Day.

The majority of Democrats will claim that this law will disenfranchise a number of citizens.  They will tell you that this will reduce our overall number of participating voters, which is near the top nationally.  They will tell you that there have only been 2 documented cases of voter fraud in the last 30 years.  They will tell you that this is an unnecessary roadblock to one of our most sacred rights as citizens.

So, who should we believe?  What are we to think?  Well, here are my thoughts on the subject.  First of all, I don't really care what 42 other states are doing.  That's like telling me that 42 guys at work are wearing a dress and high heels, and that I should too.  I don't care what 42 other people, or in this case, states, are doing.  That is completely irrelevant to what Maine does.  Maine consistently has one of the highest voter turnouts, and this will have an impact on those numbers.  What we should be doing is ensuring that we make certain that each and every citizen be afforded every opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day, not set up barriers to make it potentially more difficult. 

Some are arguing that there are about 250 business days a year in which a person can get to their town office to register.  Sure, that is absolutely true.  However, that doesn't take into consideration a multitude of stumbling blocks.  If I were to move on November 1st, it is very likely that I would not have a chance to register to vote in time.  Heck, if I moved October 29th, I may not have time.  Is this a very common problem?  Probably not, but why take away that person's right to vote simply because they moved so close to Election Day?   What if you live in a small town, and have to travel 20+ miles to and from work?  Is it possible that you are not able to make it to your town office during business hours?  Should you have to take a day off to register to vote, when you could so on election day to register? 

One thing I think we can be proud of is the low percentage of documented voter fraud we experience in Maine.  2 cases in 30 years is great.  Should we do what we can to ensure that number stays low?  Absolutely.  In fact, we just passed a law that requires citizens present a photo ID proving who they are before they are allowed to vote.  Seems to me that should prevent dead people from voting, or those pesky people that vote multiple times.  Once your name is checked off the list, you are done.  Also, there have been no complaints from town employees about this process.  They work their butts off, and have a smile on their face.  I spent a good portion of my day at my local polls for our last election in June, and our town officials do a fantastic job. 

At the end of the day, this was a solution to a problem that does not exist.  I'm not going to claim racism, like many have.  I won't go that far.  However, I will say that this is clearly an attempt to disenfranchise potential voters, and that is really too bad.  Voting is a right that we all have, and any attempt to make it more difficult is simply unnecessary.  Our voices are meant to be heard by way of the ballot box, and any attempt to silence that is undemocratic.  I don't care if you are a high school freshman, a college senior, or a senior citizen, we should be doing everything possible to encourage you to speak your voice on Election Day, not tell you that you are too lazy for not coming to the town office sooner to register.  I would like to see us be more helpful to others, not be quick to bring them down.  I would also like to see Maine stand on its own, not worry about what any other state does.  Maine is nationally known as "The Way Life Should Be", not the copycat state.  I'm just saying... 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Double standard for dispicable acts...

To start, New York Representative Anthony Weiner was my favorite politician.  I love his passion.  I love his interviews.  I love his sarcasm.  However, finding out about his growing list of indiscretions has been a bit sad for me.  Do I think politicians are perfect?  No, I know better than that.  Too many of these elected officials feel they are invincible.  That being said, I'm really bummed out by all this news.  I'm sure this is far from over, as more women are coming forward, detailing Twitter, Facebook and text message conversations they have had with my (former) favorite Democrat. 

Now, I am not going to sit here and defend anything Rep Weiner has done, these actions are not cool.  However, what I am going to do is point out something I find fascinating, and I'm anxious to hear from you out there.  According to Rep Weiner, he never had any physical relationships, just a lot of sex talk via various social media outlets.  This may turn out to be a lie, as he has already lied, so this could get much worse.  Rightfully so, many Democrats, and I'm pretty sure all Republicans, are calling on Rep Weiner to step down.  I'm not here to say whether he should or not, I feel that is up to him.  If I were him, I'd do a poll of my constituents and see where they stand on it.  If a majority of them still support him, I'd say stick with it.  If it turns out they don't support him, I'd walk away. 

Where am I going with all of this?  Let me start by pointing something out, as it seems many people have short term memory.  David Vitter, a Republican Senator from Louisiana, got himself in all sorts of trouble back in 2007 when he got caught up in a prostitution ring.  He had himself a madam in both DC as well as back in New Orleans.  When it all went down, Republicans offered nationwide support for him, mainly because they feared that the Democratic Governor of LA at that time would appoint a Democrat in his place.  Let me say that again, Senator David Vitter, married with 4 children, actually got caught having sexual relationships with prostitutes, and he was not pressured to resign.  He was supported.  I need help understanding how this works. 

So I ask this, why the double standard?  If one is wrong, they both are wrong, right?  Or, if one man who committed horrible acts against his wife and family is not pressured to resign, why should another, just because they are from a different political party?  I do not condone what either man has done, and I'm anxious for the day when these fools stop thinking they are above everyone else and leave their private parts covered up.  If I'm a Republican, I can have sex with a hooker and it's totally fine, but god forbid I send a pic of my junk if I'm a Democrat?!  Let's try something here.  From now on, let's ignore what party they are from and be consistent with our judgement, whether it's support or anger.  I am well aware that with the two party system, politicians will fight like cats and dogs, but let's not forget that the rules are the same for everyone.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Can't we all just get along? No, seriously...

I've been gone for a bit, and with good reason.  With the weather warming, albeit just slightly, we've been trying to get the house presentable for the summer.  The gardens are cleaned out and ready for planting, assuming this rain ever stops, and I've been mowing in between downpours.  We've got our big, annual Memorial Day / my birthday party coming up in about a week and a half, so we are plugging away.  In addition to all that, I've got my name on the ballot for the Board of Selectmen in New Gloucester.  With this has come lots of meetings and reading, in an effort to prepare myself for the election in mid June.  As is fairly obvious, I'm pretty passionate about a variety of political issues, and I've expressed my opinion on a pretty regular basis.  Some people tend to think I'm extremely left wing, and I guess that may be true on some issues that I find very important.  However, I feel there are some issues that I'm very down the middle, and that is what brought me back to these pages today. 

There is a lot going on in politics, not just in Maine, but in the United States.  Budget talks are taking up most of the time, but many other subjects of interest are popping up every day.  Two of the bigger hot button issues in Maine over the past couple of weeks have been the health care overhaul that was just signed into law by Governor Paul LePage, and the defunding of Maine Public Broadcasting.  I'll start by discussing the health care overhaul, move on to MPBN, and then close with some over arching issues I have with people, at least the loudest ones.

The Obama administration, not all that long ago, signed into law a landmark piece of legislation regarding a health care overall for this country.  This has been hotly contested by those on the right as a "gigantic failure that was rammed down our throats without any input from Republicans".  First of all, this may be true, or, more likely, it's partially true.  It was done quickly, with very little input from Republicans, that much I agree with.  However, I think it is too early to tell if it is a gigantic failure.  Most of it hasn't even gone into affect yet.  That being said, I'm not encouraged by the growing number of companies that are being exempted from the plan.  However, I'm willing to give it time to be successful, or flop, before I pass too much judgement.  Now, in Maine, over the course of just a few days, Republicans have passed a landmark piece of legislation regarding a corresponding overhaul.  In much the same manner that was highly scrutinized when they did it in Washington, this was done with very little input, and very quickly.  First of all, I'm not sure why it was alright this time, but not the first time.  Again, I'm hearing very different stories from each side of the aisle, but I'm willing to wait until it is all up and running before I deem it good or bad for Mainers.  The idea of more companies offering insurance, competition if you will, sounds like a good idea, at least on paper.  I do fear that people in rural areas will be adversely affected by this, and with Maine being so large and spread out, that could be very bad.  Either way, let's all wait and see what happens before passing too much judgement.

The other item being discussed all over the state is the defunding of MPBN.  The idea of this bothers me for several reasons.  Governor LePage wants to stop the $2 million a year payment to subsidize MPBN in an attempt to balance the budget.  The $2 million represents 20% of MPBN's overall budget.  This change would not make MPBN cease to exist, but lets look at the facts.  By Federal law, MPBN is not allowed to have advertisers in the same way private radio stations are.  They are allowed to have support in the form of "underwriters".  Therefore, you aren't going to have a flood of small business owners looking to throw money at them, since they won't get the same bang for their buck as the do on private television and radio.  Another thing about this that bothers me is that it was framed as "we either need to stop funding MPBN or get rid of the Clean Elections".  This is silly and untrue.  In a $6.1 BILLION budget, $2 million is nothing, it's a drop in a bucket.  This money could easily be made up by, gasp, not giving tax breaks, or even just giving a smaller tax break.  I think that this is another freshman Republican governor going after public broadcasting, which we have seen in other states, and nationally in the past 6 months or so.  I'm hopeful that Governor LePage reconsiders this, but I don't expect him too.  I would hate to see any of the programming change at MPBN.  My daughter enjoyed a number of the programs when she was younger, and the High School Basketball Tournament coverage is incredible, not to mention the many great programs on the radio station that I listen to every day, from Maine Things Considered to Car Talk on Saturday mornings.

My last point today is about people that comment on stories posted on the Portland Press Herald, and other online editions of local newspapers.  You people, for the most part, are vile.  This doesn't mean everyone that comments, as there do appear to be some level headed folks out there.  However, there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle that have lost their collective minds.  I'd like to offer some advice to right wing commenters, if any of you are listening.  If you thing that the Portland Press Herald is so biased and unreadable, simply stop reading and move on with your lives.  I would also like to mention that when Governor LePage does something negative, it isn't the PPH spinning it to fit their narrative, it is actually that the governor did something negative.  Also, you don't always have to defend him, nobody is going to think less of you.  Now, for the folks on the left, I am not letting you off the hook.  Please stop crying racism any time you don't agree, it's not a one size fits all thing.  I know that we are bummed that LePage won the election, but we are stuck with him for 4 years.  Let's practice a little patience and do the right thing in the next election cycle.  Now, a note to both sides.  Please, do me, you and everyone else a favor, and stick to the topic.  You spend half of your energy, and apparently your day (at least with some frequent posters), ripping on each other.  Please stop using the words socialist and moonbat.  Please stop accusing fellow posters of not working, since you are all spending half of your day commenting.  I know, deep down, you are all better than that.

Ultimately, I would love to see people try on a little civility, just to see how it fits.  On Monday night, Nichole and I watched Jon Stewart on the O'Reilly Factor on Fox News.  Jon and Bill were debating the invite of rapper Common to the White House for a poetry reading event.  They had a nice, civil debate on the subject.  I would like to see more of this sort of thing.  Too often on these "news" shows invite only people that agree with them, but it's nice to see a good back and forth, allowing equal time to both sides of a particular issue.  Heck, that is one of the reasons I so love to talk about politics on this blog, knowing it will spark some back and forth with some people.  I'm not expecting everyone to agree with me, that isn't possible.  I mean, I wish everyone did, but seeing different answers to these situations helps the world go around, and I'm hopeful that we can some day tone down the hate and the anger to those that disagree with us.  At the end of the day, we all want a better state, country and ultimately, world.  Let's all come to the table and offer something positive to the debate about how to get there.  I'm just saying...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To Kill a Mockingturd...

It was 10:00 PM on Sunday night.  I was exhausted from a long weekend of fun and running around.  I was up in my home office doing some work for a client.  When I finished up, I was coming back downstairs to see if Nichole was still awake.  There she was, sitting on the couch, with a puzzled look on her face.  The President is going to make an announcement at 10:30 she tells me.  What?  On a Sunday night?  That seems odd we both thought.  What the heck could it be?  Speculation started to run pretty rampant on the various channels we flipped through, as we searched for more answers.  Slowly, more and more info started coming in.  As it became more and more clear what was going on, the reporters grins got bigger and bigger, and we realized what was happening.  When President Obama finally walked in front of the camera, we all knew what had happened.  The US had found and killed Osama Bin Laden, the face of Al-Qaida, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks from 10 years ago.  I remember raising my hands to the sky in excitement.  This is, to quote Vice President Joe Biden, a "big fucking deal"!  This man has eluded us for a very long time.  Both Presidents Clinton and GW Bush hunted for him for years, with no luck.  This is big news.

However, here we sit, about 36 hours later, and I'm a little confused.  We were finally able to rid the world of the most wanted terrorist, and we are arguing about who deserves credit?!  We are making this political, or taking sides?!  We are saying that killing a person in response to killing others is wrong?!  I feel like I went to sleep Sunday night and woke up in some confusing, odd place.  What the hell just happened?  The United States of America is responsible for killing the most wanted man in the world, and we aren't allowed to find some peace in that?  We are supposed to be mad at President Obama for not bringing him back to the United States, alive, so he could sit in a jail cell and go on trial?  What should we have done?  We have been after him for many years, what do you suggest we should have done differently? 

This was an amazing job done by the Navy Seals, the CIA and the President and his inner circle.  This was all done in secret, and was executed flawlessly, despite losing a helicopter in the process.  Everyone involved in this deserves tons of credit for not only the planning, but the execution of those plans.  The Navy Seals did an amazing job, putting themselves in harms way like they did.  The CIA, using varying sources for intelligence gathering, deserve high praise.  President Obama, for insisting we don't just blow up the compound, but to make sure we actually got Bin Laden, deserves some credit too.  This was truly a group effort, and it makes me proud to be an American, to know that we worked together to make this happen. 

President Obama did not kill Bin Laden, and I'm not sure where people have heard anyone say that.  For those of you who stayed up late on Sunday to watch his address, he made it very clear what happened.  He never suggested that we got Bin Laden all thanks to him.  In fact, this isn't about President Obama at all.  I would be just as happy if this had happened on former President Bush's watch.  This isn't about politics to me, this is about taking an evil bastard out.  Sadly, there is a large number of people out there that just refuse to say anything good about President Obama.  I would bet my home that if we had done this exact thing 6 years ago, it would be a much different reaction.  I would like to suggest to those of you who are subscribing to the conspiracy theories and following the directive of Fox News, please stop making this political.  This search has been ongoing.  This day was going to come.  Don't be mad that it happened during President Obama's administration.  Be happy that we finally took Bin Laden out, like we've been trying to do for years.

For those of you who are preaching that taking one life for another is wrong, I ask you this: If someone comes in to your home and murders your child or spouse, do you not want justice to be served?  Would you not go to the ends of the earth to protect your family?  Would you just like the police to come and put handcuffs on him and then pay your hard earned tax dollars to have him sit in jail until his term is up?  To that I say, no freaking way!  This is how I see things.  The United States of America is one giant family.  Sure, it's a bit dysfunctional, but what family isn't.  This family needs to stick together, and defend itself.  I'm not a fan of guns, I've made that clear in past posts, but when you mess with my family, I won't rest until you get what you deserve.  We have lost so many great men and women over the years searching for this monster, and I hope, in some way, their families will find even just a little closure.  I know that I, as someone who didn't directly lose a family member, but feels as though I lost thousands of brothers and sisters throughout this process, feels good knowing we took this guy out. 

Will this end the war on terror?  Is the world a safer place without Osama Bin Laden?  No, the war on terror will continue to be fought for the rest of our lives.  I don't think that the world is a safer place without Bin Laden, but it's one less terrorist on the loose.  The face of Al-Qaida is no more.  I'm sure others will rise in his absence, but we need to continue to work diligently to make sure these types of people aren't able to take out more of our family.  Remember how we came together as a country after those awful attacks ten years ago?  We need to do that again.  This country is a great place, and we need to stop politicizing everything, pointing fingers at everyone that doesn't agree with us or look like us, and roll up our sleeves and get to work.  I'm just saying... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I just can't help myself, I have to put my two cents in...

I've been trying to stay away from talking politics recently, but I just can't help myself.  There are some things I need to interject my opinion into, so yeah, there you go.  I'm sure there will be some differing of opinions, and that's fine, I would love to hear from you if you feel differently on anything I bring up today.  I'll quickly touch upon one national "issue", and the rest will be confined to Maine.  All that being said, let the games begin...

President Obama presented his actual birth certificate today.  OK, can we finally move on?  I mean, we've given Donald Trump way too much time on this issue.  This country has problems, big ones.  Running around making false claims that the President isn't an American citizen was not only dumb, but a distraction from the real issues facing us as a nation.  I'm not sure, at this point, if anyone is actually taking Donald Trump seriously, but I hope this ends things for him.  Though, now it appears that he is moving his narrative to criticize President Obama's grades in college.  Dear Trump, you are a turd, go away.  There, last time the "birther" movement needs to be discussed, and hopefully the last time I mention Trump too.

There are a few bills kicking around the Maine legislature right now that are getting some publicity, both good and bad.  One has to do with the legalization of marijuana.  Now, before you say anything, hear me out.  I'm not advocating for the use of it, I just want to look at it from a realistic perspective.  People are smoking pot.  Adults are, kids are, lots of people are.  This is a fact.  Is there a statistic out there that shows the number of deaths each year that are pot related?  I can't find one, because the answer is there are none.  However, there are an estimated 435,000 tobacco related deaths each year.  I'll give you a minute to reread that and think about it.  Now, what does all this mean for Maine?  Well, if we were to legalize marijuana, and regulate it similarly to tobacco and alcohol, we could then tax the sales of it and collect revenue, which the states needs badly.  Also, we would spend much less on the war on drugs as well as spend less on jailing people for petty crimes that are marijuana related.  Is this the answer to our budget problems?  No, not at all, but I do think it is something worth looking at.  Look, marijuana is still illegal federally, so it won't happen here in Maine, at least not yet.  However, I have thought this would be a very beneficial thing for the feds and states to do to generate a new source of revenue that doesn't require government to raise taxes.  Socially liberal and fiscally conservative, I'd say it's a pretty good compromise!

Billboards, really?!  Maine is one of just 4 states that don't currently allow them, along with Hawaii, Vermont and Alaska.  I'll be honest, I like that we are on that short list.  The idea is that businesses would rent the billboards from the state, who would use that revenue to pay for road maintenance.  In theory, sure, that makes sense.  However, this is just a bad idea.  Maine is known for its natural beauty.  Covering that up with obnoxious, oversized signs telling me that there is a McDonald's in Waterville or Freeport is ludicrous.  First of all, if we are trying to educate tourists on what businesses are out there, I hate to break it to you, but they probably already know what is out there.  Most people will scour the Internet for places to visit, or have smart phones that tell them everything they need to know, so a billboard isn't going to change anything.  Secondly, this is supposed to be a great benefit to Maine's small businesses, as they will be able to let travelers know they are out there.  Riddle me this, how much will it cost to rent one of these fancy new billboards?  $4000 a month?  More?  How many mom and pop stores or antique shops have that kind of advertising budget?  I'm sorry, but with social media as it is, small businesses are much further ahead utilizing a free medium to get their message out to the masses.  Remember, Maine is the way life should be, let's keep it that way with regards to billboards, please!

Now there is word that there are some shakeups in the LePage administration.  I'd like to see him and his crew get their, well, I'd like to see them get their shit together.  If and when that finally happens, maybe something positive can come out of the next four years.  Until then, I guess we'll just keep hearing about bickering and silliness, with no real progress being made toward getting Mainers back to work.  Hang on to your butts everyone, this is going to be a bumpy ride.  I'm just saying...   

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No more crappy car blues!

Anyone that has been in our (old) car over the past year or so understands why we did what we did this past weekend.  I mean, I loved the CRV, it certainly served its purpose, but let's be honest, that pretty little thing was on its last leg, and I'm pretty sure that said leg was broken.  It's squeaked, it squealed, it shook and it was fairly busted up.  There was a plug in one of the tires, a couple of cracks in the windshield, and the key would only fit in the keyhole on the drivers side door on occasion.  The trunk was difficult to open, the check engine light was on, and it was due for an inspection in May.  That info alone should tell you that what we did was the right thing to do.  Not enough for ya, fine, I'll continue.  It got about 23 miles to the gallon, and with gas prices as they are, and not getting better any time soon, we were dropping at least $100 a week.  There, that ought to seal the deal.  So, what did we do about it you ask.  Well, we did what we have been wanting to do for a while now.  We our the proud owners of a 2008 Toyota Prius. 

After reading about all of the problems our old car had, what do you think the dealer told us?  I fully expected them to offer me a pack of Bubblicious brand bubble gum in exchange for it, but they actually gave us $4500!  I couldn't believe it.  It turns out, that is exactly what we owed on it, so that was a wash, and we were more than happy with that result!  The CRV wasn't worth a damn, not in the state it was in.  We had gone to another dealer and they offered us $3000, and they didn't want to go that high.  That and the Prius they had wasn't as good as the one we got, so I guess that all worked out.  I won't mention the name of that dealer, but let's just say, I won't be recommending them any time soon.  The kid that helped us told us, at one point, that it wasn't his sale, he wasn't making any money, so he didn't care and wasn't about to try too hard.  Well, at least he was honest.  Needless to say, we didn't call them back.  I would have to say that we did a good job negotiating to get exactly what we wanted, which was more than our car was worth, and lowering the purchase price down to where we wanted it, both of which happened.  Not bad for a couple that can't negotiate worth a damn!

Low mileage, same monthly payment and averaging 40+ miles per gallon are just a few of the things I love about the car.  It has a backup camera, which is odd to get used to, but a nice feature.  It is actually much bigger than you would think, and that's good, considering I'm fairly tall.  The touch screen offers you many different options, one of which is a screen that details your consumption, which is a great tool to teach you the best way to utilize the car so that you are running on battery more than gas, which ups your overall gas mileage.  Currently we are averaging 44.3 MPG, which is nearly double the CRV.  Let's put it this way, we picked up the car Saturday afternoon, and since then have put over 250 miles on the car, and the gas tank is just barely below half.  All this being said, the first things we heard when we mentioned it on Facebook weren't immediately positive.  Don't get me wrong, the congratulations came, but at first we heard something else...

Wait, what's that I hear, jokes?!  These are real jokes we have heard since Saturday morning, and in no particular order...

- Does that come in adult size?

- Think I'll keep my explorer, hahah, and maybe if you ask nice, I'll pull you out this winter!

- Did you put on your Obama 2008 sticker, or do they come automatic with one?

- I have a LePage sticker earmarked for that thing.

- Do you actually fit in it?

Alright, I'll spend a few minutes clearing some things up for everyone.  Yes, it's a smaller car, but I do actually fit in it.  I'm pretty sure that if I didn't fit, I probably wouldn't have made the purchase.  Wouldn't really make sense, would it?  As for pulling us out this winter, I appreciate the offer, but something tells me that 16 years of Maine winters have taught me how to drive, I'm all set, thanks.  Oh, and for those that tried to make it a political thing, stop.  It's dumb.  Republicans claim to be fiscally conservative, so you would think this would be right up their alley.  I mean, we just cut our gas budget in half, and we have the same car payment.  Doesn't get more conservative than that, right?  However, the jokes persist.  Keep your gas guzzling car, spend over $65 to fill your tank, and when gas prices climb up to or over $5.00 a gallon this summer, I'll be the one laughing at you.  And maybe, if you ask nice, I'll give you a ride when you can no longer afford to fill your tank.  I'm just saying...

Friday, April 22, 2011

My thoughts are deep, deep I tell you...

Welcome to today.  It's Friday, Earth Day, Good Friday, the start of Easter weekend and it's sunny out.  My brain is all over the place today.  Oh, and I'm tired.  There, now that all of that is out of the way, how is everyone else doing?  Great, grand, wonderful!  Moving right along, today's post will be more a hodge podge of random thoughts that are dancing around in my head than anything else.  Feel free to continue reading, or get back to your regularly scheduled programming, it's all up to you.  If I were you, I know I would keep reading, this is riveting stuff, trust me...

The Royal Wedding.  I'm sure you've heard about this.  Holy hell, we've all heard too much about it at this point.  Every news outlet, magazine, tabloid, newspaper, website and whatever else is talking about it.  Let me ask you this, why do we care?  What is the big deal?  None of us are getting invited, and if you did, that set of steak knives or can opener isn't going to cut it as a gift.  Seriously though, why is this such a big story?  I don't care, and I'm anxious for it to be over so we can move on to potentially, but not likely, more newsworthy stories.

Earth Day.  How are you celebrating Earth Day?  Are you one of those that thinks it is a big joke and today is the day you just leave your car running in the driveway all day while heating your house with you stove and spiking your hair with Aqua Net?  Or, do you take it very seriously, and plant a tree, turn your thermostat on your hot water heater down or pick up some recycling bins for your household trash?  Nichole and I take this sort of thing very seriously.  Will we make a huge impact, no, but we can, at the very least, do our part.  We are currently looking to trade our SUV, which gets about 22 MPG in for a more economical hybrid, which will get us about 50 MPG.  We planted seeds to start our first garden about two weeks ago, and we are picking up a new composting bin to help feed our garden.  We already recycle our bottles and cans, as well as cardboard, tin, glass and plastics.  We have changed our light bulbs to CFL bulbs and are continuing to see what else we can do to make a difference, no matter how big or small.  I hope that all of you are too.

My music interest are varied, and depending on the day or my mood, my selections can change drastically.  Lately, however, I've been mildly obsessed with Brett Dennen, Ray LaMontagne and Florence and the Machine.  I just can't listen to them enough.  There have been others splashed into the mix, but they are dominating my at work playlist lately.  If you haven't heard of them, or have only heard very little of them, give them a looksee.  They are all really great musical talents, and I can only hope they bring as much joy to your day as they have been bringing to mine lately.  Oh, and speaking of music, I still think Jane Says by Jane's Addiction is my favorite song of all time.  It just never gets old.

Speaking of addictions, Words With Friends on the iPhone.  Wow, obsessed.  Maybe not as bad as when I first discovered this gem, but obsessed just the same.  It's simply Scrabble via a cell phone.  You can have many games going at the same time, and you play at your own pace.  It's a lot of fun, and it's even better when you win, because there is a chat function, for the wonderful smack talk!  Wanna play against me?  You can find me via Facebook, Twitter, or just type in markastevens into the search function.  I'm going to warn you, though.  I don't lose.  Well, maybe a little, but I won't anymore!

Hey, things are looking up.  It appears to finally be getting warmer outside, the Celtics are up 2-0, the Bruins tied things up 2-2 last night, the Red Sox are creeping back up toward .500 and it's damn near the weekend.  Here's hoping that you all have a wonderful Easter weekend.  I know I'll be all hopped up on Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, and I'm very excited about it.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dog may be man's best friend, but I'm not sure if that should be plural...

I spent the better part of my childhood scared of dogs.  Literally, they scared the living hell out of me.  We never had a pooch growing up, just little old Kikki, the family cat, that lived a long, good life.  I remember visiting people that did have dogs, and they always seemed to muckle on to me.  I'm not sure if they could sense the fear in my body language, or if they could smell the actual shit that I had dropped in my pants due to their existence in the same room as me, I'm just not sure.  I distinctly remember being bitten at least twice growing up, and vividly remember having to peddle my mountain bike as hard as my legs could move it to outrun a small pack of dogs out in the middle of freaking nowhere back home in The County.  These images still haunt me today, I'm not going to lie to you.  Fast forward to about four years ago.  Nichole and I were living in Freeport, the original Chateau Marcole.  Nichole begged me to get a dog.  I insisted that we didn't have enough room for a dog there, and when, someday, we bought our very own house, she could get one then.  Secretly, I thought that day would never come.  Turns out I was wrong.

We moved into the present day Chateau Marcoligan back in February of 2008, and I don't think we were even fully unpacked and Nichole dropped the bomb on me.  Not only did she find the dog she wanted, we had to drive down to New Hampshire to pick him up.  His name was Goober, a six month old chocolate lab.  Goober, while fitting, wasn't a name we were going to keep.  I may not have been really ready for a dog, but I wasn't going to be yelling for Goober out the front door for all the neighbors to hear, no sir.  Wanting to keep the name sports related, we went with Yawkey, in honor of the Red Sox.  Was I ready for a new member of the family?  Not really, but I knew how badly Nichole wanted him, so I had to quickly get over my uneasiness around dogs.  It didn't take long either.

Here we are, three years later, and I can't imagine life without our crazy pooch.  He's really become my dog, almost.  I take him with me any time I go somewhere in the car, most nights he sleeps with his head right on my chest, and he is always there to give me a big hug when I walk in the door after a long day at work.  I can see why people call them man's best friend, as he truly is a great companion.  Sure, he's crazy and I'm allergic to him, but those are things we can live with, knowing that we have a great dog at home.  Recently, Nichole has been wondering if we could add a second dog to the mix.  Yawkey would love a playmate she says.  I love my dog, but two dogs seems like a lot more for some reason.  Well, we've had a chance to find out what it would be like this week.

Our friends, the McCullough's, are on vacation this week, and in exchange for watching Yawkey a few weeks back, we are dog sitting for Noah, their 2 year old lab.  The two boys are very excited to have someone to play with, and have had a ball together.  As they become more used to being around each other, they have become more well behaved, and the humping has slowed down to almost nothing at this point.  It's been a lot of fun watching them interact and play.  However, two dogs is a lot more work than one dog.  They are both used to different schedules and have different habits.  Yawkey is a lazy bastard and would sleep until noon if you let him.  Noah likes getting up at 5:00 AM and starts pacing the bedroom.  Our backyard is pretty wet right now, due to all the rain and snow runoff, so we can't just let them out the back door to use the "facilities", so we have to take them each out for a walk.  We started by doing one at a time so they could focus on the task at hand, and not piss on each other as they try to cover each others scent.  It never fails, when you let one out, the other pushes you out of the way and the both end up getting out.  Oh, and no matter how much water you give them, they find it completely necessary to fight over who gets to drink out of the toilet.  And don't get me started on how much more hair they shed when in a pair versus just one!

Long story short, I'll dog sit another dog, but I'm definitely not ready to get another dog, not at Chateau Marcoligan.  Maybe, when we trade up to our next home, a farm with lots of room, named Chateau Marcoligan&baby, maybe then I'll reconsider it all.  When they can spend time outside and not try to run to the neighbors to drop stink bombs or chase after the occasional car.  All this dog talk reminds me, I need to go get more eye drops, my allergies are killing me!  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's better than one cup of tea? Well, three, of course...

Greg Mortenson, famed author for his New York Times bestsellers "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan", has found himself smack dab in the middle of a pretty big controversy.  For those of you who haven't heard, Mortenson is the man who shot to international fame with the above mentioned books, which describe him getting lost while climbing K2, the world's second-highest peak, later being rescued by Pakistani villagers in the village of Korphe and vowing to return there to build a school for local girls.  His books were inspiring, and his organization, Central Asia Institute, raised millions.  His plans were grand, and certainly not easy to achieve, but he saw the good in people, and the need to provide them with some of the same opportunities that he had.  It's pretty easy to see how people got behind him and his endeavors. 

However, a recent report by Jon Krakauer, a former supporter and friend, paints a much different picture.  In Krakauer's new book, "Three Cups of Deceit", he paints Mortenson out to be a fraud, who only did this to further himself financially.  For the year ending December 31, 2009, Mortenson's charity, CAI, had expenses of $9.7 million.  Of that, $4.6 millions was spent on what was listed as "domestic outreach and education" and "lectures and guest appearances across the United States."  Could these be legit, sure, they are legit expenses.  To the tune of $4.6 million, though, seems a bit exorbitant.  Another $1.5 million went toward advertising and promoting Mortenson's books.  Again, a legit expense, but on the high end.  That is exactly what Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock is looking in to.  Central Asia Institute has a mission statement of building and operating schools in Afghanistan, and it would appear that Mortenson isn't staying true to the organizations mission. 

So, why should we care you ask.  My child won't be spending any time in school in the Middle East.  Sure, you are right.  However, for the 4 plus million people that have read his books, they are heart broken.  Mortenson painted a picture of a true humanitarian, a larger than life hero that was spreading good throughout a war torn region where women aren't exactly on a level playing field with men.  Now, everyone is questioning the validity of his recollections and his motives.  Are these books based on facts, or exaggerated memories?  Was the charity set up to truly spread good will across the Middle East, or to give Mortenson the golden parachute he would never have had otherwise?  Will this story have the happy ending many thought it already did, or will this turn into another instance of greed over grace?  Time will tell, but it's not sounding good for Greg Mortenson.  For those of you who purchased his books, I hope you kept your receipt.  I'm just saying...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In case of an emergency, put on your pants...

It was about 11:15 last night.  We were sitting up, watching The Daily Show, when all of a sudden we hear a loud knocking sound coming from the dining room area of the house, and Yawkey, our chocolate lab, goes crazy.  Nichole and I both freeze, curious what the hell just happened.  Was it a knock at the door?  At this time of night, who the hell could it be?  Could it have been the cat, who is a complete tool, and probably just knocked something over?  Always a possibility.  Fortunately, I have my contacts in still, so I can actually see what I'm getting myself into.  So, how did we react to a potential intruder? 

My first thought was not great, but I went ahead and did it anyways.  I nervously yell out "HELLO?!", thinking that if someone was in the house, the sound of a voice might scare them off?!  Is that the best way to scare off someone, absolutely not, but it was the first thing I thought of, so back off!  Plus, I was in bed, in my underwear, so I wasn't really ready to just run out and see what may or may not be there.  I needed to put my pants on first, because I'm the guy that thinks of pants at a time like that.  You never know what might happen, and I want to have pants on, just in case.  I'm not about to defend the wife and I, if that needs to be the case, in my boxer shorts.  Once I was properly dressed I followed the dog out to the kitchen.  Yawkey is still barking like crazy and staring at the main entrance to the house.  What the heck just happened?!

As we enter the kitchen, we see nothing to suggest someone was in the house.  The doors are all locked and the motion lights outside are still off.  Our guard dog is still sensing something, but his barks have greatly backed off.  I flip on all the outside lights to see if I can see anything, and there is nothing in the back, front or side yards.  I did happen to notice a garbage barrel that we have filled with kindling had been knocked over in the back yard.  I'm not sure, at this point, if that had been done by Yawkey earlier in the evening or if that was the sound we heard.  Our yard is still quite wet, so I think we would have seen foot prints if it were a human or large animal.  Next I head down to the basement to check around down there.  Again, nothing seems out of place.  Perhaps it was just our crazy kitten after all?!

Well, I head back upstairs and to the bedroom.  Nichole has finally come out from behind the dresser in our room, where she has been hiding for about 15 minutes now.  See, her master plan in case of an emergency is to jump out of our bathroom window and run away.  As I'm making my way into the bedroom, I see her putting a giant knife, basically a meat cleaver, under the mattress on her side of the bed.  Her thought was, if something is coming after her, she'll chop their arm off and then jump out the bathroom window?!  I'm chuckling at this as I make it over to my side of the bed, only to find the rest of our knives, still in the block, sitting on the floor right next to where I sleep.  I usually have a baseball bat nearby, just in case, but now I am really prepared, I guess.

We sat in the bedroom, with the door open, for about 15 more minutes, until we decided we either heard something that wasn't there, or it was just the cat.  I strip the sweatpants back off and pop out my contacts and fall fast asleep.  We never heard anything more, and Yawkey didn't seem to be worried any more.  Whatever it was, everything turned out fine.  Before I know it, the alarm is going off in my ear, just above about a dozen knives, which caught me off guard when I woke up!  We may want to look into something different for the future, like that bow and arrow I've been asking for!  I'm just saying...

Monday, April 4, 2011

We got an invite to the party!

Now, before you get all excited, thinking it was some cool party, it wasn't.  I mean, it is a fairly exclusive group, but not because they aren't trying.  They just have an odd way of going about things.  They meet every Sunday, and those in the group are super passionate about what it is they are trying to do.  Do I agree with some of what they are saying, sure, I do.  However, there is a ton of things I just can't agree with.  The party I"m speaking of is, none other than, the Tea Party of Cumberland County.  Yup, the Tea Party.  Now, let me tell you how this came about...

Saturday night started off pretty innocently.  We were supposed to meet friends out in Auburn, but Nichole caught a strange case of insomnia and we decided to turn in early and get some rest.  On our way home, we were discussing what to eat for dinner.  We decided to jump off the diet for the night and grab a pizza from Mario's Restaurant in New Gloucester on our way to the homestead.  When we went in to pick it up there were a handful of guys chatting near the cash register.  While we were waiting for our pizza to come out, one of the guys starts talking politics.  I look at Nichole, away from the other guys, and plead and beg her not to butt in.  I just wanted to get our pizza and go home, and I now where this conversation could go, as I quickly realize we view things differently than they do.   That's right, she couldn't help herself, and jumps right into the discussion. 

We quickly learn that the most vocal guy in the group is a member of the Tea Party.  I have no problem with that, we are all different and have varying views on how to make things better for both Maine and the country.  What I do have a problem with is the ridiculous double speak and continuing use of talking points that comes spewing out of his mouth.  During the conversation we all agreed that Governor LePage and the legislature are really just distracting the public by arguing about whoopie pies and murals.  We both agree that by distracting us from the real issues, we don't call them out for not doing anything to get Maine back on the right track, which is, in my opinion, what is going on right now.  Then our new "friend" starts to go places that I will never agree with...

Before I know it, the conversation has continued outside, and our pizza is getting cold.  Things turned from local politics to the national scene.  I agreed with Mr. Horr (seriously, his last name is Horr, pronounced whore, I'm not making this up) that we should not be in Libya.  However, he then tried to tell me that the only reason we are there is because President Obama wants to strengthen his ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Come on, really?  Then why aren't we in Tunisia, Egypt or Bahrain?  Give me a break.  Then we got onto the subject of same sex marriage.  He started out by saying that he doesn't care what people do, as long as he doesn't have to see it, but marriage can only be between a man and a woman.  Wait, which is it, do you not care or do you?  Sounds to me like you do care, even though you JUST told us you didn't.  I asked him why he would care if two men or two women got married, how would that bother him.  His rebuttal was one of the most insane arguments I have ever heard, and I let him know that.  He said, and I quote, "I love my truck, can I marry my truck?".  My quick response was, "if that is your argument, that is just dumb".  Seriously, marry your truck?  Stupid. 

The next few minutes were spent discussing how "the people will screw things up and re-elect President Obama".  I said, hold on a minute there big guy.  Are you telling me that Palin is a viable option?  What about Michelle Bachman?  How about Newt Gingrich?  Donald Trump?  If the Republicans are putting one of these people forward as President Obama's opponent, I don't see how they have a chance to defeat him.  If they put up a viable candidate, anything can happen.  Then he went off the reservation, in my opinion.  He promised us that the world would end in three years if President Obama was re-elected.  Yup, Armageddon.  End of world.  All because of President Obama.  Looney Tunes stuff right there.

After about 30 minutes, we were finally going our separate ways, as I had heard enough and was climbing into the car.  About 4 times he told us he would love to have us come to one of their meetings, that they need young, involved people like us.  I feel like he missed the part where we didn't agree with much he had to say?!  I am absolutely frustrated with how things are going right now.  That being said, I want nothing to do with the Tea Party.  Like I said earlier, there are some things I agree with, but only to an extent.  Plus, I'm not taking political advice from a guy that drives an El Camino, keeps a toilet in his driveway, and has a last name like Horr, I just can't do it.  Plus, he's responsible for creating a controversial sign back in 2008, during the presidential campaign between Obama and John McCain.  I'll find a different political group to join, which I'll talk about tomorrow.  I'm just saying...

Friday, April 1, 2011

A couple of things I'm just not sure I understand...

With Spring on its way, at least according to the calendar, I have a few things dancing around in my brain that I have never fully understood.  Any chance you, my faithful readers, can help me with these brain busters?  I would surely appreciate it.  Just ask the wife, I lay up at night thinking about these things, and many others, causing her to have sleepless nights as well.  In fact, she may want these queries answered more than I do.  Here we go...

When a road needs patching, why do crews just lay the asphalt on top of the pothole?  They don't pack it down, I'm sure, in hopes that vehicles will help seal up the hole, but does that ever actually work?  I mean, all the fresh asphalt ends up on our cars and around the pothole, not actually in it.  Is it just me, or is this not only a complete waste of time, but a waste of tax payer dollars?  Seriously, this seems like a complete waste of time and money.  I mean, don't construction crews have a bridge they can all watch someone else work on?

April snow storms.  I mean, I know we live in Maine, but give me a damn break!  Mother Nature is dropping a heavy, wet white dump on us today.  Just when we could see almost all of our lawn too.  Now the driveway, which was already a bit of a mess, will get torn up more from the snowplow (through no fault of our great plow guy, it's just the nature of the beast), and we have more melting to worry about in the low spots in our yard.  If I can find a positive side to this, I guess it would be that the office is closed?!  Of course, that would be good if I had known before I showed up to a pitch black 4th floor.  Oh well, good chance to get some things done while I crank out the tunes.

Speaking of this big old snow storm, how does a meteorologist get licensed?  I mean, really, they are hardly ever right, and most of the time the are simply hedging their bets.  "Today will be partly sunny" or "partly cloudy".  No kidding, every day could be partly cloudy or sunny.  And while I'm on the subject, the two are the same, you aren't fooling us!  If I was wrong as often as they are, I would be spending half of my day waiting in line at the soup kitchen.  No offense to any of you weather "predictors" out there, but come on, what a sweet gig.

April Fool's Day?!  How the heck did that start?  Don't get me wrong, I've had fun with it over the years, but I don't really understand the point of it.  Is it necessary to purposely mess with people?  Do we really need a specific day for that?  It's a lot more fun when you just do it any time of year, people don't come to expect it as much. 

If salt is good to put on snow to help it melt, and so is cat litter, could we just put cat litter on our food for extra flavor?  Also, if salt has that effect on snow, what is it doing in our stomachs?  I'm not suggesting putting used cat litter on our food, that is a little too much extra flavor, and the dog would be begging way too much then.  I have, for the most part, removed salt and sugar from my diet, and I've been feeling great, so maybe there is a connection between melting snow and some weird chemical reaction in my stomach?!  All I know is that I'm not leaning toward sprinkling a dash of Tidy Cat on my pizza any time soon!

Why do cats always have to lay on something?  For example, we put our unlooked (that's a word, right?!) at mail in a pile on the kitchen table, until we have a chance to go through it.  The cats will only lay on the pile of mail?!  Why?  The pile covers maybe 2% of the table.  One of our cats, laying down, takes up maybe 15% of the table.  Why do they have to lay on the mail?  Seems to me they would want to lay on the smoother service, but no.  Then, undoubtedly, one of our fat, lazy cats will knock the aforementioned pile of mail on to the floor, leaving us with a mess to pick up when we get home.  I know the answer to our problem is to not leave the mail there, I know.  But, why do cats, because it's not just our cats that do this, find this necessary?

I know I could probably use my waking hours more constructively, but these are the sorts of things that keep me up at night.  Someone, anyone, please help!  I'm just saying...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My very own anonymous letter to Governor LePage...

Dear Governor LePage,

First of all, I want you to notice that I addressed you with respect.  Do I feel as though you deserve my respect?  No, not at all, but you are the governor, so I will give you the respect a person in your position deserves.  You are a mere 90 days into your four year term, and you have gone out of your way to continuously disrespect the great people of this state.  Furthermore, I didn't vote for you.  In fact, if you ran 10 more times I wouldn't vote for you.  If you ran against a turd, I would vote for the turd.  All that being said, I will address you with respect.

I'm writing to you today to point out a few things.  I know that you are aware that you were elected with only 39% of the vote.  You don't need me to remind you of that.  I'm pretty sure you have heard everyone on television mention that at this point.  I mean, that is why you are doing some of what you are doing, isn't it?  To hear your name on tv.  What else would explain you picking some of these stupid fights?  Was it really necessary for you to remove a mural in the Department of Labor?  Absolutely not.  This was paid for by a federal grant, and depicted some pioneers in the history of Maine's LABOR movement.  Seems to be pretty fitting to me for it to be located at the Department of Labor.  If this mural was hung at the, say, "Department of Big Business and Corporate Interests, Including But Not Limited To Union Busting", then I would completely agree with you.  But, last I checked, this wasn't the case.  No matter how you try to justify this move, and no matter how much extra you are paying Dan Demeritt and Adrienne Bennett to agree with you, this is a giant slap in the face to many working people in Maine.  It's a slap in the face to those that worked so hard to ensure that generations after them would have safe working conditions, 40 hour work weeks and adequate breaks over the course of the work day.  You should try to work with both sides to make history in a positive way, not erase history in a negative way.

Next, I'd like to ask you to be honest with yourself, as well as the great people of the State of Maine.  We all realize that difficult decisions need to be made, and that you are not going to please everyone along the way, it's simply not possible.  However, one thing you could try is to, at the very least, pretend to understand where the other side of the equation is coming from.  Some tough cuts need to be made to the budget.  Some important programs may need to be cut, or at least scaled back.  However, mocking people isn't called for.  I know some people (cough, 39%) feel that having a "real person", someone that "tells it like it is", is just what this state needs, but a vast majority of us view things differently.  We expect more from our elected officials, especially when they are representing our great state, not only to the rest of the country, but to the world.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of The Daily Show, but I never want to see Maine mocked by Jon Stewart, that means we made headlines for all the wrong reasons.  I, and many others just like me, would love it if you stopped telling people to "kiss you butt" or to "go to hell".  We also find it rude that you would say,  "I'd laugh at them, the idiots. That's what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!", in response to someone suggesting they form a human chain in order to block the removal of the mural at the Labor office. I might agree with you that the suggestion was silly, but I'm not sure that, as governor, this should be your response of choice.  A governor should be a beacon of professionalism, especially when the livelihoods and futures of your constituents are at risk.

In closing, I realize that you enjoy hearing your name on television and reading your name in the headlines, otherwise you wouldn't be doing all of this.  I know you say that you don't read the papers, but let's be honest, you not only read them, you love any attention you are getting.  I know that you didn't get enough attention as a kid out on the mean streets of Lewiston, so you are attempting to make up for it later in life.  I get it, I really do.  However, my future, my child's future are in your hands right now, and you are fucking that up.  Pandering to your base at a time like this is absolutely uncalled for.  We have thousands and thousands of highly creative and smart people in this state that are struggling to survive because of high expenses and poor transportion opportunities.  This has nothing to do with unions.  This has nothing to do with whoopie pies or blueberry pies.  This has nothing to do with estate taxes.  This has nothing to do with murals at the Department of Labor.  This has to do with poor road conditions, lack of high speed rail, high energy costs and sky rocketing insurance rates.  These should be your focus in Augusta.  Fixing these problems will help open doors for the creative people to expand and hire.  Giving small business owners, who are the backbone of Maine, the ability to do what they do best will benefit every one of us. 

I live in Maine because I love it here.  It is a beautiful state, one that offers four great seasons and a wonderful array of enjoyable activities.  I have started a family here, and want nothing more than to start my own business here and see it grow and bring other people both joy as well as incomes.  I'm hopeful that you will take the right steps to keep this state great, but I have to be honest, I'm quickly losing hope.  It's not too late though, you can make things right, not just for me and my family, but for everyone in this great state.  Remember, there are 1.3 million people in this state, not just the 216,761 that voted for you. 

Kindest regards (but not really),

I'm Just Saying...