Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post election thoughts, as I struggle to stay awake...

What a crazy past couple of months this has been.  Nichole announced her intention to run for the Maine House of Representatives back in the spring, we launched Maine Beer Tours back in late summer, and we are already very busy people.  It's been a whirlwind year.  Now that the election is behind us, I may have a moment or two to reflect and plan a path ahead for 2013.  Until then, I just want to spend a couple of minutes climbing up on a soap box, so, yeah, enjoy.

First of all, Nichole's election didn't go as we had hoped.  Let's be honest, Democrats don't often win in our district.  It's also very difficult to beat an incumbent.  The odds were definitely stacked against her, but that didn't stop her, not even for a second.  That amazing wife of mine worked her tail off, knocked on doors, attended events, and shook more hands than I could possibly count.  Her body would ache, her sleep schedule was thrown way out of whack, and every spare minute she had was filled.  Despite the many reasons to get discouraged or distracted, she never lost her smile, her determination, or her drive.  Words don't even begin to describe how proud I am of her.  She would have been an amazing representative for the people of New Gloucester, Durham and Lisbon, but now was not her time.  Have no fear, we'll keep all of those signs in a safe place, we haven't heard the last of her just yet.

As for the presidential race, American decided that 4 more years of President Obama sounded better than even a day from Mitt Romney.  Now, it's very clear that we are a divided nation.  With a very close to 50/50 split, President Obama squeaked out a victory.  I've already seen a number of people going on and on about how America will now implode, or that the administration is coming to your house to take everything you have, or that every small business will now close.  Guys, come on.  I know that people like attention, or like to be dramatic, but slow down a second.  For all of you out there that are calling the president a Marxist or Socialist, or whatever other ridiculous name you have for him, can I point out that many Democrats think he has been too moderate.  I get that many of you don't agree with his policies.  I didn't agree with many of Bush's policies, I understand.  That said, wishing for failure from this president, or refusing to work with him, or doing everything in your power to make him look bad does nothing to further us as a country.  If he fails, we fail.  If he succeeds, we succeed.  We need to put our nonsensical bullshit aside and work together. 

It's insulting to me to read so many posts about all of the "idiot Americans" who only vote for Obama because they want "free cell phones" and other handouts.  The majority of my friends happen to be Democrats, and each and every one of them work their ass off for what they have.  I, personally, run a small business, work full time, have a growing list of clients I work with on the side, volunteer my time to various organizations and serve on the Board of Selectmen in New Gloucester.  I work myself to the bone every single day to put food on the table, and to teach my daughter how important hard work is.  Our new business, Maine Beer Tours, was started during President Obama's first term, and will not only continue through his second term, but it will grow and flourish.  I was always taught that hard work and determination pays off, and it is true.  I don't worry about which political party is in charge at the state or federal level, that has no bearing on my decision making process.  If my business ideas are good, they will succeed.  If they are not well thought out, they will be doomed.  That is on me, not somebody else.

To wrap this up with a pretty bow on it, let us all do the right thing and work together.  I don't care if you are a Republican or a Democrat.  I don't care if you are male or female, young or old.  We need to put our petty differences aside, cut the bullshit, and work together.  We do it every day at work, at school, or on the field.  We don't win without teamwork, and that holds true in all walks of life.  Let's focus on what is good, and make a plan to move the country, and our state, in that direction.  If we want to teach the next generation what it takes to be great, let's act like adults, and do what is right, not what is politically beneficial to our party or our brand.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm taking a pulse, assuming there even is one...

I fancy myself a bit of a political junkie, but I've been pretty quiet over the past couple of months.  There is so much happening on a daily basis to talk about, but sometimes it is better to sit back and take it all in then to jump into the fray.  Well, fray, here I come.  Based on posts from friends on Facebook, I'd have to say I have many more Democrat friends than Republicans, but there is definitely a good amount coming from both sides on a regular basis.  I haven't said too much on either side of the aisle, despite the many thoughts that come to mind as I read it all.  That said, I have noticed a general theme, and it has lead me to an observation.

One thing that I have noticed is that Obama supporters are just that, Obama supporters.  They will point out disagreements they have with Romney or the Republican platform, but it almost always includes reasoning as to why they support Obama.  In reverse, Romney supporters aren't really Romney supporters, they are Obama haters.  I see continuous posts about how great Reagan was, or anti-Obama posts all the time, but very little in the way of anything supportive of Romney.  I'm not convinced any Republican is actually excited about Mitt Romney.  It seems to me like it is another year of Republicans holding their collective noses and voting for the R because they hate the other side.  What I would love to hear is a Romney supporter actually give me reasons why they are voting for him, and they can't involve Obama bashing.  I'm not sure any can do it.

I hear all the time about how awful Obama has been for this country.  I keep hearing about how bad his foreign policy is and how much he loves big government.  I want to hear how Mitt Romney will be better, and it cannot involve the lie about how Obama runs all over the world apologizing for us.  I want to hear what good Romney will bring, period.  I understand that President Obama hasn't delivered on everything he promised 4 years ago, I can admit that.  While he hasn't brought the two sides together as well as I had hoped, let's be honest, it's not possible as things currently stand.  There is nothing he could say or do that would please Boehner, McConnell or Cantor.  There is nothing the president could change that would provide Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity with a positive segment about the him.  No matter what President Obama says or does, he will have Republicans like Rep. Allen West, former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and Rep. Steve King standing there arguing against him.  I'm not convinced anyone could truly bring both sides together. 

So please, if there are any self proclaimed Romney supporters out there, please feel free to respond.  I'm curious what your thoughts are on Mitt.  I completely respect differing opinions, and welcome them with open arms.  For whatever it is worth, I will completely respect you for standing up for your pro Romney reasons, even though I won't necessarily agree with you.  However, if you come at me with anti-Obama rhetoric, I don't want to hear it.  Many of you wouldn't vote for a Democrat if it was your significant other on the ballot, and I know that.  However, you should remember that an R or a D in front of someones name doesn't paint the entire picture.  There should be more to your decision to vote for someone than just a label.  Oh, and I AM better off now than I was four years ago.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm no Casey Kasem, but here are my top 10 favorite songs

I constantly find myself trying to determine what my favorite songs are, and to be honest, the list changes depending on my mood and what is going on in my life.  That said, there are a few songs that I always go to, always turn up when they come on, or just genuinely love.  This list is sort of all over the place, but I think that summarizes my musical interests fairly well.  In no particular order, they are...

10. Possum Kingdom - The Toadies  -  I just love this song.  Always have, always will.

9. Regulate - Warren G feat Nate Dogg  -  Try not to sing along to this song, seriously. 

8. Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town - Pearl Jam  -  Great song by an incredible band.

7. Bubble Toes - Jack Johnson  -  The first song Kerrigan could sing along with.  It was priceless, and I always smile just thinking about it.

6. Two Step - Dave Matthews Band  -  My original favorite song from DMB, only got better after seeing it live on several occasions.

5. In Bloom - Nirvana  -  I can't have a list without Nirvana on it, they changed my musical world when they hit the scene, and this was always my favorite of theirs.

4. Shakedown Street - Grateful Dead  -  I will never forget hearing this for the first time.  I was at an all night disco tent at Lemonwheel (Phish festival in Limestone, ME) when it came on.  You should have seen me dancing!

3. Waste - Phish  -  One of my favorite bands of all time, and I just love this song. 

2. Love Of A Lifetime - Firehouse  -  A cheesy song from the 80's, which is enough to make me love it, but it is also the first song Nichole and I danced to at our wedding.  Enough said.

1. Thriller - Michael Jackson  -  No explanation necessary!

There are so many other songs that are close, but these are my absolute go to songs.  Some day I'll do a top 50, which will cover songs by Bob Dylan, Soul Coughing, Matt Costa, Beastie Boys and many more.  Until then, tell me some of yours, I'd love to find out if others have similar interests.  I'm just saying...

Monday, May 7, 2012

In a surprising move, Governor LePage says something insensitive...

Another day, another Governor LePage comment that draws the ire of many.  While speaking at the Maine Republic Convention over the weekend, he said, and I quote, "To all you able-bodied people out there, get off the couch and get yourself a job," prompting a standing ovation. 

At the very core of what he said, he's right.  If you are able to work, you should be out working, or looking for work.  However, I have a few issues with what he said.  As he so often does, he is painting with a very broad brush.  To suggest that anyone who is able-bodied and not working is just collecting a "free lunch" is beyond laughable.  I've been unemployed before, I have friends who have been unemployed before.  Getting a new job isn't as easy as people think.  Add to that difficulty the fact that it is a process, something that can takes weeks, if not months from submitting a resume to actually being offered a job.  To suggest that people aren't actually out searching for work, making contacts, using connections, really just doing whatever they can is not only inaccurate, it's offensive. 

Let's look at things from this angle, supply and demand.  According to the state's website, unemployemt was at 7.2% at the end of March, which works out to about 51,300 people out of work.  According to, which is an Internet job board that pulls from all over, there are 9,403 jobs in Maine as of right now.  To suggest that people need to get back to work is only valid when there are jobs for those people.  So, let's assume that all 9,403 jobs are filled up today by unemployed Mainers, there are still 41,897 people that can't get a job because there isn't one out there. 

Another factor that is continuing to work against unemployed people, not just in Maine, but accross the country, is that employers are giving preference to those that are already employed.  Someone who is currently employed has continuous work history, where someone who has been unemployed for, say, 6 months has some gaps.  Employers prefer seeing no gaps in your work history, so that alone makes it more difficult for the unemployed. 

Again, I agree that if you are able to work, you should.  That said, being able-bodied doesn't guarantee you a job.  I know that Governor LePage likes to get a good laugh, and fire a crowd up, but I'd much rather see him put his list of one-liners and insults away and work on improving the economy, improving consumer confidence and creating more jobs.  I mean, that seems like a pretty basic concept to me.  The constant belittling of people that receive state aid is the true definition of class warfare.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

5 things I learned on vacation...

I just got back from a 10 day vacation, where we spent time on nearly the entire Eastern Seaboard, spending the bulk of the time down on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  What a blast!  Sun, sand, wild horses, the Big Apple, Dogfish Head Brewery, mini golf and lots of driving.  Despite it being a trip for fun, I actually learned quite a bit.  The following are 5 things I learned on vacation that I wanted to share with all of you.  Here goes...

1.  New York City cops are kind of like Honey Badger, they don't give a shit!  We got ourselves into a EZPass only lane as we rolled into the city, and before we realized it, we couldn't get out of it.  No big deal I thought, we can just give them the toll amount and they will raise the arm for us.  HA!  Nope, big tough police man rails on me for a few minutes and then tells me to go ahead and pull off to the side, he'd be right up to ticket me.  Ticket me?!  I paid the toll, what the heck?!  Yeah, turns out it's a $130 fine for using the wrong lane at a toll booth in NYC!  Note to self, NYC and Maine are kind of different.

2.  Joe Bornstein isn't actually the guy in the ads.  Yeah, I know, I was shocked!  We saw a sign in either Virginia or North Carolina advertising a law firm down there, and much to my confusion, it was the same dude in the photo!  The following is an actual conversation I had with an Operator on their website...

System: You have entered the conversation. Waiting on operator...
System: Operator has entered the conversation.
Sylvia: Hi, I am Sylvia. How may I assist you?
Visitor: Hello Sylvia, completely random question for you today. The guy in the ads, what is his name? I saw him on a sign for a law firm in Virginia or North Carolina, was shocked to find out it wasn't Joe Bornstein. I died a little inside, truth be told.
Sylvia: We may be able to help you. Do you mind explaining the situation?
Visitor: I just did, any thoughts?
Sylvia: I understand.
Visitor: You are automated, aren't you? You really can't help me. Bummer.
Sylvia: I am a real person.
Sylvia: I am part of the live chat support team for the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein firm, and my job is to connect people with the most appropriate attorney for their situation.
Sylvia: If you don't mind leaving your contact details, I will forward it right away and request that you are contacted as soon as possible with the exact details.
Visitor: Right, but can you help me with who the guy in the ads are? That is all I really want to know.
Sylvia: May I ask your contact number and email address?
Visitor: Nevermind, I'll use Suri on my iPhone, she is more helpful.
Sylvia: Are you sure you would not like to leave an email just for future reference?
Visitor: I have no need for your services, other than trying to find out who the guy in the ads are. Seriously, finding out that he wasn't actually Joe Bornstein made me tear up a little, true story.
Sylvia: You can try contacting the office directly at 1-800-225-5563.
Sylvia: The receptionist should be able to assist you.
Visitor: I'll try that, or Suri, she does whatever I ask, and I mean whatever. Do you know what I mean?
Sylvia: I understand.
Visitor: Hey, thanks anyway, Sylvia. You have yourself a fine afternoon, and I'll continue my quest to find out who the mysterious man is. Peace out!
Sylvia: You are welcome.

Despite Sylvia being a real person, she wasn't very helpful, and I had to do my own research.  Turns out his name is Robert Vaughn and he does this very same ad for a variety of personal injury lawyers.  You learn something new every day!

3.  Radio stations that play top 40 music only play 5 or 6 of the most popular songs no matter where you are, not just here in Maine.  All this time I've given my daughter a hard time because 97.9 only plays a half dozen songs repeatedly.  However, all of the comparable stations we found from NY to NC did the same thing.  In fact, I now know every word to the new singles by Katy Perry, Nikki Minaj, Flo Rida, Fun, One Direction and Kelly Clarkson.  Yeah, I know they are popular, but come on, a little variety is a good thing for a radio station, right?

4.  Wild horses are beautiful and majestic.  We did a tour of the Carolina beaches in a couple of Jeeps looking for wild horses, and we saw probably 20 of the estimated 140 that are in that area.  We learned all about the history of how they got here (came over from Spain back in the mid 1500's), and how they tend to travel in packs consisting of usually one stallion and a varying numbers of mares.  We also learned that when a stallion feels threatened or wants to let you know he is in charge, he gets, shall I say, aroused.  You want to talk about awkward!  How do you explain to five kids ranging in age from 5 to 9 why some of the horses appear to have five legs?!  Holy crap! 

5.  Despite having an absolute blast with family and friends (both old and new), and everything else that comes along with a wonderful vacation, there really is not place like home.  Getting away reminds me of how much I really do love living right here in Maine.  There are so many great places in this country to visit, but there is no place I would rather be than here in the Pine Tree State.  Sure, I would love less snow and more sun.  I mean, seriously, we have it all right here.  From my house I can drive less than an hour and get to a beach, a mall, a remote campground, or a mountain for skiing.  Where else is that possible?  Sure, I think of living elsewhere from time to time, but I'm pretty happy right here.

In case I hadn't mentioned this already, I had a wonderful vacation.  It was the first real vacation I have taken since I think I was in high school, and to be able to take it with Nichole and Kerrigan, I couldn't have asked for anything more than that.  I have an amazing little family, and I look forward to many more vacations, and many more stories in the future.  I'm just saying...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Here we go again, and I'm not singing 80's Whitesnake...

It's been a few months, but it's come up again.  Governor LePage, in a town hall meeting at Oxford Hills High School, said that funding for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network is a form of corporate welfare that the state can no longer afford.  This isn't the first time he has tried to cut funding to MPBN, as he attempted to cut $4 million during the last year, which represent total funding for two years.  “Why should I pay welfare to a company?” he said. “It’s that simple. I need that money to pay welfare. I need the (money) to make sure some elderly don’t freeze. Quite frankly, ma’am, I think that’s more important.”

While I don't disagree with his sentiment about paying LIHEAP funds, he's being disengenious, at best.  As he typically does, he is passing this off as an either/or scenario.  It is not, especially when his new budget proposal contains about $38 million worth of tax cuts and new spending.  Also, let's look at the numbers.  We are talking about a total of $1.7 million.  This equals $1.30 per person.  This isn't a tax increase of $1.30, this is a continuation of all of us paying $1.30.  This is, litterally, pocket change.

Now, let's take a look at the "corporate welfare" portion of the comment made by Governor LePage.  According to the dictionary, corporate welfare is financial assistance, as tax breaks or subsidies, given by the government to profit-making companies, especially large corporations.  Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't LePage just sign into law LD 1735, which provides sales tax exemptions to bus companies?  I'm not arguing against giving tax breaks to companies, if they are directly tied to the creation of new, well paying jobs, as they are intended to do, but isn't that corporate welfare?  I mean, that fits the exact definition of corporate welfare. 

I'm not sure how public broadcasting has become considered a Liberal media outlet, but that is often the idea put forward by many on the right side of the aisle.  Now, if you want to hear things from a perspective of one side or the other, it isn't going to happen with public broadcasting.  I've heard a lot of people complain that they often cut away to hear press conferences from the White House.  Well, this actually makes sense.  Don't we want to hear about what is going on, no matter who inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?  Yes, you hear from President Obama often, but that is because he is the President.  When George W Bush was President, they did the same thing.  Democrats listen to public radio, and watch public television, and so do Republicans.  This isn't, and shouldn't be a partisan issue. 

I'm sure this isn't going to pass, much like it didn't the last time, but I'm anxious to hear what others have to say about it.  Again, this isn't something that is bankrupting the state.  It costs us less than a cup of coffee a year, and provides educational programming for young and old alike.  Personally, I love being able to enjoy the Maine High School basketball tournament every year, as well as getting Maine news on my ride home from work every day.  I think this fight is old and tired, and not one worth bringing up every year, but I'm not sure Governor LePage cares.  I'm pretty sure he gets his marching orders from a higher power, and he'll continue to do their bidding.  I'm just saying...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let's try something different, like tell the truth, mmmkay?

In a shocking development, Rush Limbaugh has a dirty mouth.  I know, I know, nobody saw that coming.  But seriously, what Rush said regarding Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student that testified in front of Congress, was vile.  Now others are following suit, claiming that Miss Fluke testified because she can't afford to buy birth control pills for "all of the sex she is having".  If he were saying this about my daughter, I'd be livid, that much is for certain.  But, what is really bothersome to me here is that those that Rush, and those echoing his sentiments have the whole story wrong.  Sandra Fluke wasn't there to testify on her own behalf, she was there speaking for others.  Don't believe me?  Here is the transcript...

"Leader Pelosi, Members of Congress, good morning, and thank you for calling this hearing on women’s health and allowing me to testify on behalf of the women who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation. My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third year student at Georgetown Law, a Jesuit school. I’m also a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ. I’d like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies and all of the student activists with us and thank them for being here today.

Georgetown LSRJ is here today because we’re so grateful that this regulation implements the nonpartisan, medical advice of the Institute of Medicine. I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraception coverage in its student health plan. Just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously affiliated hospitals and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women. Simultaneously, the recently announced adjustment addresses any potential conflict with the religious identity of Catholic and Jesuit institutions.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected, and I have heard more and more of their stories. . On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or other schools or who works for a religiously affiliated employer who has suffered financial, emotional, and medical burdens because of this lack of contraceptive coverage. And so, I am here to share their voices and I thank you for allowing them to be heard.

Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. Forty percent of female students at Georgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy. One told us of how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter, learning for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered, and had to walk away because she couldn’t afford it. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception. Just last week, a married female student told me she had to stop using contraception because she couldn’t afford it any longer. Women employed in low wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.

You might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Women’s health clinics provide vital medical services, but as the Guttmacher Institute has documented, clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing and women are being forced to go without. How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio, and Blunt legislation that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraceptive coverage and then respond that the non-profit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis, particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics?
These denials of contraceptive coverage impact real people. In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer dire consequences. A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome and has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy. Under many religious institutions’ insurance plans, it wouldn’t be, and under Senator Blunt’s amendment, Senator Rubio’s bill, or Representative Fortenberry’s bill, there’s no requirement that an exception be made for such medical needs. When they do exist, these exceptions don’t accomplish their well-intended goals because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren’t, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.
In sixty-five percent of cases, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed these prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription, despite verification of her illness from her doctor. Her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted the birth control to prevent pregnancy. She’s gay, so clearly polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy. After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. She wrote, “It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.” Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she sat in a doctor’s office. Since last year’s surgery, she’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain, and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She’s 32 years old. As she put it: “If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no chance at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy that I paid for totally unsubsidized by my school wouldn’t cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it.” Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at an early age-- increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, she may never be able to conceive a child.

Perhaps you think my friend’s tragic story is rare. It’s not. One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but it can’t be proven without surgery, so the insurance hasn’t been willing to cover her medication. Recently, another friend of mine told me that she also has polycystic ovarian syndrome. She’s struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified to not have access to it. Due to the barriers erected by Georgetown’s policy, she hasn’t been reimbursed for her medication since last August. I sincerely pray that we don’t have to wait until she loses an ovary or is diagnosed with cancer before her needs and the needs of all of these women are taken seriously.

This is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends. A woman’s reproductive healthcare isn’t a necessity, isn’t a priority. One student told us that she knew birth control wasn’t covered, and she assumed that’s how Georgetown’s insurance handled all of women’s sexual healthcare, so when she was raped, she didn’t go to the doctor even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections because she thought insurance wasn’t going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman’s reproductive health. As one student put it, “this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn’t understand our needs.” These are not feelings that male fellow students experience. And they’re not burdens that male students must shoulder.
In the media lately, conservative Catholic organizations have been asking: what did we expect when we enrolled at a Catholic school? We can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success. We expected that our schools would live up to the Jesuit creed of cura personalis, to care for the whole person, by meeting all of our medical needs. We expected that when we told our universities of the problems this policy created for students, they would help us. We expected that when 94% of students opposed the policy, the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for completely unsubsidized by the university. We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that if we wanted comprehensive insurance that met our needs, not just those of men, we should have gone to school elsewhere, even if that meant a less prestigious university. We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that, in the 21st century, anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.

Many of the women whose stories I’ve shared are Catholic women, so ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for access to the healthcare we need. The President of the Association of Jesuit Colleges has shared that Jesuit colleges and universities appreciate the modification to the rule announced last week. Religious concerns are addressed and women get the healthcare they need. That is something we can all agree on. Thank you."  

I know that was long, but I wanted to include everything, so that people could see that she didn't go to speak about how her many sexual excapades were doing damage to her wallet.  If a person wants to argue that birth control shouldn't be mandated, fine, argue your point.  However, don't lie.  Don't make up stories and don't belittle a woman you know nothing about.  I applaud those advertisers and stations that have dropped Limbaugh's program, and I hope more continue to do the same.  We, as a nation, need to stop this nonsense of name calling and lie telling to get "our side" heard, or our point across.  The majority of the people in this country are moderate, leaning slightly to either side.  Let's stop letting the loudest among us make all the decisions and headlines.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Birth control? We're talking about birth control?

Birth control?  We're talking about birth control?  Not the economy, not how to grow the economy, we're talking about birth control?! 

See what I just did there?  I took the now famous quote from former NBA star Allen Iverson about practice and made it topical.  Good stuff right there!  But seriously, that's what we are spending all of our time and energy on right now?  Every political talk show is going on and on about the evils of birth control, and legislators are scheming up ways to eliminate it from the menu of what insurance companies provide.  Really?  Something like 98% of women have used at least one form of birth control, however, it is suddenly a horrible thing that needs to be destroyed?!  What are we doing here?  This country faces real problems, and this is simply not one of them. 

To be honest, I think I know what is happening.  See, President Obama has seen his approval rating climb.  Unemployment figures are getting better all the time.  The economy may actually be getting better.  Instead of suggesting that maybe the president is doing something right, it is much easier to create a huge distraction, so people forget about the improving numbers for Obama.  I mean, that has to be it, right?  How in the hell are contraceptions all of a sudden the devil?!  They have been in use dating back to the Egyptians in 1850 BC.  It's not like it's some new, radical thing.  Also, have you noticed that the people leading the charge against contraception are religious leaders and men?  If memory serves, these are the same people that don't use birth control, so what are they getting all huffy about? 

I've got an idea.  Why don't we demonize women, in an election year!  Why don't we let women decide what is best for their bodies, and let couples properly plan their families.  If we are serious about protecting individual liberties, we need to start in the bedroom, and we need to start now.  I'm just saying...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've asked this before, and apparently I now know the answer. No, we can't all just get along...

I long for a day where we can stop calling each other names, stop fighting with people that don't act like us or look like us.  I really wish that we could all just get along.  I mean, what harm could come out of a civilized nation?  How nice would it be to just relax and enjoy every day, instead of seeking out the next person to argue with?  Call me crazy, but I think we have it in us.  Sure, it wouldn't be easy, nothing worth doing ever is, but it sure does beat the alternative.  Below are just a few of the things we are fighting over right now. 

As many of you have surely heard, the Obama administration, as part of the Affordable Care Act, is requiring all employers, including Catholic universities and hospitals, to cover contraception in their employees health care plan.  This has Conservative leaders screaming that President Obama is stepping all over religious liberties.  Now, I'm not one to talk about religion, that can be a touchy subject for many people.  That being said, I'm sorry, I'm not buying into the whole President Obama is anti-religion nonsense.  This mandate doesn't force anyone, not a single person, to actually use the birth control, or other contraceptive methods, it simply requires the employer to offer it up to its employees.  For example, if you are a Catholic, and you feel that it is against your religion to use birth control (which many Catholics do use birth control, despite the cries coming from the Right), you are not required to use it.  Conversely, if you are not a Catholic, and you are working for a Catholic university, you will be given the opportunity to receive birth control through your health care plan.  Nobody is stepping on your religious beliefs.  If you don't believe in taking a birth control pill, you still don't have to.  That is left completely up to you.  This isn't even about religion.  This is about a women's right to choose what she would like to do. 

Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in the state of California, opening the door to allowing same sex marriage in the Golden State.  This could be an interesting development, following in the footsteps of New York, where same sex marriage is now legal.  The question of same sex marriage will be on the ballot here in Maine this November, and many feel that it will pass this time around, even if only by a small margin.  This, also, has turned into a religious battle.  My argument is this.  Not everybody is religious, but everybody has the right to get married.  The first amendment of the Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from establishing an official religion, or from favoring or disfavoring one view of religion over another.  That seems pretty clear to me that one view of religion doesn't reign supreme over any other, including that of someone who doesn't practice a religion.  We can't pick and choose when a religion should apply to all people, it doesn't work that way.  If two people love each other, and want to commit to each other, then who am I to tell them no.  Let's do the right there here, what should have been done a long time ago.

There is a budget battle brewing up in Augusta, and if Governor LePage is in charge, it will surely get ugly.  Republican and Democratic legislators came to an agreement early this morning on a budget that would get us through the end of fiscal year 2012, avoiding major cuts to DHHS, which could have affected many elderly, young and poor people across the state, as well as many related agencies that provide much needed programs for people of all walks of life.  However, I'm sure Governor LePage won't find this compromise acceptable, as he has already stated that he will veto anything that doesn't look exactly how he wants things.  The Appropriations Committee did what they were sent to Augusta to do, make difficult decisions, but come to a resolution.  Let's hope Governor LePage does what he was sent to Augusta to do as well, and not just throw another temper tantrum. 

These are just a few cases of people fighting against each other.  I know that we all want what is best at the end of the day, and I also realize that we have different visions as to what actually is best.  That being said, I think we all need to take a deep breath and relax.  Yelling, screaming, swearing and name calling are not productive.  I'm just saying...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New year, new me, and this time, I mean it. No, seriously...

I know, I know, we all say the same crap every year.  X, Y and Z are my resolutions, and I am totally sticking to them this year.  I'm going to the gym every day, or I'm not drinking at all this year.  We do this to ourselves every year.  I'm no different.  I've given things up, sworn things off, and told myself I would do this and that, and it would last for a week, maybe two, and I'd be right back to the old Mark again in no time at all.  Well, this year is different.  Wait, before you say what you are thinking, and I know what you are thinking, I really mean it this time.  See, this year is a little different. 

As many of you know, Nichole and I lead very busy lives.  We are involved in as much as we can get our hands on.  Politics, sports, work and everything in between are fair game to us.  We love being on the go.  For example, I'm writing this while simultaneously preparing for an audit, at the office, at 7:30 at night, while Nichole is hanging out with her little sister (Nichole is a big sister as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters).  There is no such thing as downtime to us, and we prefer it that way.  Well, this year is going to be even worse, or better, depending on how you view things.  See, we have dubbed 2012 as the year of MSH.  What is MSH you ask?  Make Shit Happen. 

We work hard, play hard, and get every ounce out of life.  That said, we continue to want more.  I have always been a hard worker that is seldom heard from.  I have always kept to myself at work, and just did my thing and chugged along.  Well, no more.  There are many changes happening at my office, and I'm going to be involved in every aspect of everything that happens going forward.  I'm not only going to be the first to volunteer for things, I'm going to kick ass at it as well.  I want to get more involved in the community, more involved in the workplace, and more involved with my family.  I want to go to bed every evening absolutely exhausted from an amazing day of making shit happen. 

See, when I was growing up, I dreamed of becoming the next Larry Bird.  I was going to play professional basketball for the Boston Celtics, and I was going to be living the dream.  Well, things didn't work out quite like that, but just because I'm not dropping 24 points a night and grabbing 10 rebounds, doesn't mean I'm not capable of living the dream.  If I continue to push myself and work my tail off, I will be able to accomplish even more than I dreamed of.  There are things I can do to make myself a better father, a better husband, and a better professional, and that is just what I plan on doing.  Watch out world, I'm taking over.  2012 will be the year of MSH, I'm just saying...