Friday, October 21, 2016


Too many politicians, following examples of Donald Trump and Paul LePage, respond to a reasoned argument or respectful criticism or even just an explanation of a problem with insults, name calling, or wild accusations about motives. The following is a transcription of a taped conversation that took place at a meet-the-candidate gathering for Tim this past Wednesday.

Tim: There would be lots of good paying jobs in that mining. As long as they can promise to clean up after it closes.

Alice: I wonder if people understand how toxic that site is. It’s one of the most toxic sites in the United States, that area on Bald Mountain. And how much those toxins would be released. It’s really important to understand the danger and the threat of pollution being released into surrounding waters. A lot more jobs would be lost than would be gained. And it’s a temporary business. There’s going to be an end to it. Even in the best of circumstances, if there’s a boom, there’s going to be a bust that follows. It’s really, really important that people understand . . .

Peter [interrupting]: Sounds like the liberals out of Portland.

Alice: I’ve lived here most of my life. I was born and grew up in Portage, Maine. I started my research on this issue with an open mind—hoping it might be an economic boon, and it might be good for the economy. And the more I learned every year, the more I understood about how toxic that site is. It sounds to me, Mr. Edgecomb, with your reference to Portland liberals that you’re trying to insult me. I don’t appreciate that. I come here to these meeting trying to find solutions, and I don’t like being insulted . . .

Peter: Alice, you came here for one purpose, and I know what that is. Have you ever voted Republican in your life? No matter what you say, you’re not going to vote for a Republican.

Alice: I am a great admirer of many Republicans: Senator Cohen, Margaret Chase Smith.

Peter: Alice, I know your background.

Troy: Many Democrats and Republicans in Ashland have concerns about this. . .

Peter: Troy, do you want to help pay for this meeting. Feel free to do that.

Troy: OK. Who do I write the check out to?

LATER as the meeting is breaking up, Peter approaches Troy with open palm held out: I’ll take your money, now.

Troy: Glad to. How much? Being clean elections, it all comes out of the same pot.

Shelly: Peter, I have properties in Mapleton and Portage. I have a vested interest in these towns and a perfect right to be here. You owe my mother an apology.

In another incident that demonstrates political strategy, Troy found that flyers were being put in mailboxes accusing Troy of being one of those Portland liberals who doesn’t have the best interests in mind for this area. I believe that unauthorized use of mailboxes is a crime. When Troy confronted Tim about his actions, Tim responded that he was told to do that, that he just did what he was told. As explained in Shelly’s LTE to The Star Herald, when Tim was asked why he refused to participate in a forum or debate with his opponent, he replied that it wasn’t up to him, that he was just doing what he was told.

It is very disturbing that we are voting into office candidates who do not understand the issues that affect us all, that they respond with attacks when confronted, and that they depend on party leaders to tell them what to do. Some of these candidates use clean elections to do as they are told by party leaders who are generously funded by major corporate interests.  Is it any wonder our trust in government is so badly eroded?

Friday, October 14, 2016


I'm cleaning up this site today and discovering again that comments don't appear at the end of my posts, and that there are frequently gratifying comments that I wish would appear. So thank you all who post for your interest. I am not ignoring you.

The Costs of War


This coming weekend marks the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and we have not completed that war.  In October, we will have 10 years at war in Afghanistan, and we have yet to begin the draw down of combat operations there.  The total cost of these wars is above $1.16 trillion and counting, over $700 million a day by conservative estimates. It is millions more if considering all the associated costs of maintaining the military industrial complex and repairing the damage caused by war.  Leaving aside for a moment the social and moral costs of war, can we afford this kind of expense when we have such looming unsolved economic problems here?  

Consider health care so costly that many of our citizens can’t afford it even with the Affordable Health Care Act that is under threat, state budgets in so much trouble they are threatening massive layoffs and cuts in essential social services and infrastructure to avoid bankruptcy, a national debt that exceeds $14 trillion, rampant and uncontrolled greed in our financial institutions that caused a massive recession and that show no signs I have seen of reforming or being reformed, an environment increasingly at risk, increased taxes on the lower middle-class while taxes are cut for the most wealthy.   No, we can’t afford the mounting costs of resorting to war to resolve our security problems and international disputes. 

We study and learn the practice of war.  We pour our best resources into improving our military capability.  Imagine what would happen if we began to draw down our commitment to war and turned those abilities and resources to learning and practicing peaceful conflict resolution.  For that we need moral commitment from citizens and institutions together.  A better, more peaceful world will not happen only by individuals just improving themselves, though that is a good and necessary thing to do.  But then, like Buddha, or Christ, or Mohammed, the individual needs to take some responsibility for improving the world. 

For a time, there was an old bill board on Carmichael Street which said in stark white on black, WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT.  I am sorry to see it gone.  We need voices, many of them speaking out every where, on billboards, Face Book, Twitter, Blogs, Letters to the Editor.  We need moral voices crying out for all the killed, wounded, and displaced by war.  We need a vast chorus of voices demanding peace.  Please join us at the Aroostook River Bridge on Sunday at 12:00 noon and add your voice to the chorus.