From The Backseat (16)

RINOs: The new liberals?

Democrats must be hoping to inherit the earth. Take a look at Washington right now. The president is denouncing the free press, White House aides are saying the president will not be questioned, and the Republican congress is silent in its role as a check on presidential power. Where are the Democrats? Where is the Democratic voice stepping in to rally the oceans of opposition mounting against Donald Trump’s policies? The party is in disarray,…

More Votes Than Protests

“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular.” Progressives hate to admit it, but sometimes Gov. Paul LePage is right. He was spot-on: Maine offered a glimpse of what it’s like to elevate a blustery, aggressive, quick-mouthed bully to the most prominent position in government well before such elections went national. Not just for one term, but two. Eight years. Think about that. Gov. LePage was authentically himself not once but twice, and he…

A Message to Portland's Immigrants: This Is Your City

A is a Portland high school student. She is Muslim of Somali heritage, her parents’ eldest child. She is thoughtful, engaged and politically aware. Lately, she has found much to be aware of.   “I am tired,” she told me yesterday. “I’m so tired. All of this, it’s like they don’t want us. It’s like they want to push us out. I don’t know what to do. I’m tired of protesting, I don’t want to…

Black Lives and White Faces

Maine is an unlikely forum for the conversation about race.   Northern New England, in general, is the whitest place in the country. At least 96 percent of the population of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire is white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Those numbers bear out as you wander through the snow. There just isn’t a lot of diversity here.   Which means when white nationalists and xenophobic groups — like Richard Spencer…

It's hard to care about the environment, but we need to

The environment sucks. It’s like that depressed friend you care about but can’t help. You can kill yourself trying to save it, but what will your efforts amount to? Where does it get you? That’s how it feels sometimes, right? I grew up being taught not to litter. I learned to recycle and kept the heat low in winter so not to waste fuel. I even turned off the water between toothbrush rinses in order…

Is Donald Trump a good businessman?

Is Donald Trump a good businessman? I mean, he’s rich. But is he rich because his family was rich? Because his dad made a lot of money in real estate back in the day? Or is he rich because his entrepreneurial ventures have been successful? Is he good at his job? That’s the question. I know lots of people already have answers. His supporters say he’s clearly a billionaire with a business empire, and therefore…

A new holiday tradition: learning about non-European cultures

I visited my niece at school last week. She’s nine and in the fourth grade. It was a holiday open house, and family was invited. Every student in the class had put together a diorama on holiday traditions, and families were welcome to come walk around the room to see how different households celebrate holidays. There were Christmas trees, Christmas cookies, strings of Christmas lights, elves on shelves, and more. Each diorama included a short…

2016 Began A Long Time Ago

2016 began a long time ago. Remember the primary, when Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were all looking to overtake Donald Trump’s rambunctious start? That was one beginning. The other beginning, my 2016 beginning, was in Cuba. After President Obama began normalizing relations with Cuba in late 2014, I spent the next two years working there, guiding cultural exchange trips to the former pariah state. I spent New Year's Eve in Havana and…

Deaths of despair are all too common in Maine

Did you see the news? Last week, in the town of Sherman, police arrested three people in connection with a meth lab. It was the 123rd incident of its kind in Maine in 2016. That’s more than double the number last year; in 2015 Maine had 56 meth lab-related incidents. And then on Friday a Hebron man killed his 27-year-old daughter before taking his own life. Did you see that too? This is the news today, constant…

Catfishing 101

I got the weirdest note the other day. It was one of those Facebook message requests that come from someone you aren't friends with. Her name was Elizabeth. "Hi there," Elizabeth said. "This may be the strangest email I've ever written. I've been chatting with a guy on OKCupid who is using your pictures. I'm pretty sure it's not you. The username is morethanever8." Next was a screenshot: a photo of me from a few…
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