This past Wednesday, I went to Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor and a number of people — some I knew and some I’d never met — joined me while we showed off three new mural panels to replace some of the ones taken down by Gov. Paul LePage in the cover of darkness back early in his term. Now in the old days, I’d still be calling the fourth month in a four year hitch “early” but this governor’s so busy tearing up public opinion that these four months seem like four years, and what happened in March feels like eons ago.
I’ll say one thing for the governor — he’s the great unifier. When we were standing there with our panels — which you can check out at the Maine Labor Mural’s wall on Facebook — hot young co-eds and crotchety old fellas shouted the same sorts of things from their cars and pulled over to sign our book of reservations. They all agree on one thing: The guy needs to hold his tongue and take a chill pill. Maine’s got some problems — nobody’s arguing with that. But I’ll put it in LePage terms, which means I’ll use cliches — stop throwing the baby out with the bath water.
And when I think of it that way — danged if I don’t have the topic for yet another panel in the new Pat LaMarche mural — Gov. LePage is draining the tub while Maine loggers go down the tubes along with the waste water. You can read about a proposed bill in the legislature to allow foreign lumber workers into Maine on the MPBN website.
But sending you to MPBN to read a story just inspires another topic for the next mural panel: me caught like a fly in a great big sticky web.
President Barack Obama is stepping up talks with the Taliban. The murdering, misogynistic, amoral Taliban! But I’m still here — in my one precious column of the week — blathering on about Gov. LePage and his hypocritical, shortsighted antics.
I try to pull away and go to other topics. I want to write about the chaos at the federal and global level — but no — I’m stuck to the sticky strings of Maine’s political snare. And sitting in the corner of this giant train wreck web of public relations and potentially real life policy mistakes is the overgrown spider himself.
Could this be the method to the madness not only of Maine’s governor but also of all “the baby with the bathwater” discarding politicians in power today? Perhaps they’re actually here to keep us from paying attention to the things that keep our deficits high, our soldiers engaged and our corporate masters in power.
Sigh, but back to the spider strings I’m stuck on this week: eliminating funding to MPBN. I rock my head at the nerve of this action. Nerve is what it is. Sheer, unmitigated gall.
If you have time and the stamina to watch the most white bread of all television, may I direct you to the 2010 Republican gubernatorial debates on — you guessed it — MPBN. First of all, it was like looking at seven perfectly matching torsos with slightly different heads popping out the top of the shirt. And one of those heads was none other than Maine’s current governor, who insists MPBN isn’t worth state investment. Well, where I grew up, if you were philosophically opposed to something, you didn’t attempt to benefit from it.
Now, Gov. LePage opted out of public broadcasting’s debate for the general election, but maybe he was concerned that when he got into an open field where there were opponents of the Republican Party philosophy he’d get his hat handed to him by one of the other general election contenders. I hear Eliot Cutler was willing to show that the answers to Maine’s problems can’t be found in the major political party handbooks.
We’ve got a man in charge who is willing to use taxpayer-funded resources when it suits him, then advocates taking that resource away from others — like Maine’s loggers — who need MPBN to get the word out. Tsk tsk.
Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@ hotmail.com.