I was having trouble deciding what to write about this week. I was torn between the military action in Libya and the shear political ineptitude of Gov. Paul LePage’s retirement double standard.
I was leaning toward Libya. I mean, really, what more can be said about an executive who — according to his spokesperson Dan Demeritt — already makes less than any other governor in the country and feels this justifies him not sacrificing with the rest of the state while budget belt-tightening.
By the way, I don’t know what’s more of a political gaffe: LePage exempting himself from the same increase he’s expecting other Maine workers to pay or the governor allowing Demeritt to speak on his behalf. Maybe LePage thinks this admission of self-interest is OK. After all, Demeritt’s words mirror the hubris the governor has displayed continually since his election.
But Libya really tempted me. Not that I want to weigh in on whether the use of force by the U.S. and a handful of other nations was appropriate when protecting innocent protesters — mostly because I’m having a darn hard time reconciling the constitutional question of my country’s warlike behavior with the need to protect human life.
I will go on the record, though, to declare that we’ve shredded the intent of the Constitution so completely in my lifetime that maybe we should stop referring to it at all anymore in these discussions.
No, the part of the Libyan conflict that I’d like to underscore is that there’s no way any of us should be surprised that Moammar Gadhafi is a murdering tyrant. Hello! Lockerbie, Scotland! Pan Am flight 103! And yet, The Wall Street Journal on March 8 reported that, “Big oil companies and Wall Street banks have stopped trading crude with Libya.”
What a bunch of greedy hypocrites we are, buying oil from a known assassin. Really, that’s like an episode of “The Sopranos” where the anti-mafia task forces insist it’s OK to pay Tony Soprano to dispose of their trash.
But I suppose one may argue that it was Morgan Stanley and Exxon-Mobil that traded with Libya, not the mothers and fathers of the sons and daughters now bombing Libya in the name of justice. So rather than get into that argument — one that common sense dictates I’d win before the typing began — I thought I’d pick a topic that combines a bit of both the premises over which I deliberated this week. Kind of an “excessive greed regardless of its impact on the average American” meets “a Maine political figure” story.
The good news is the Maine politician involved is a hero and an often lonely voice for the working man and not a figure whose No. 1 calling appears to be offering up his home state for late-night talk show ridicule.
Sadly, it’s tough for our hero’s message to be heard in our country. What with all the earthquakes, nuclear concerns, wars and such, Rep. Mike Michaud’s press release last week hasn’t gotten much attention. In a nutshell, President Barack Obama is pursuing another of George Bush’s economic initiatives. This time it’s a free-trade agreement with South Korea.
Michaud’s press release explains, ”The deal opens the U.S. market to North Korean goods, would cost approximately 159,000 American jobs, would increase the U.S. trade deficit by more than $13 billion by 2015, makes it easier for China to avoid tariffs by transshipping goods through Korea, and would devastate the U.S. textile industry.” I guess they mean what isn’t already devastated by NAFTA and GATT.
If you’re wondering why Obama would help the huge transnational corporations and hurt the little guy in his own country, I’d like to save us both time by referring you to his extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Or, as we say in the real world, “If he walks like a duck and quacks like a duck,” he’s probably a pawn of the folks who got him elected.
Check out Michaud’s website. He explains it far better than I could. Then take a minute to call him and thank him for being one of the few members of Congress who still knows he’s there to look out for us.
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.