The Red Pencil (11)

Could you relive 2014?

Friedrich Nietzsche conceived a thought experiment that he called “eternal recurrence.” It’s an odd idea, but it shows up in a few of his books. He asks us to imagine a demon appearing before us, and tells us that our lives — “this life as you now live it and have lived it” — will have to be relived, over and over again, “and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and…
Tagged under

How cops became soldiers on our streets

I was born and raised in Southern California, and I wrote a book about Los Angeles politics earlier in my career. Because of that background, I have sometimes felt, since I moved to Maine, like Kyle Reese in the original Terminator film. “Heed my words, friends of Maine,” I say, “for I come from a grim and inhuman world that could be your terrible future!” Since Ferguson, Missouri became a defining event of 2014, I’ve…
Tagged under

Taking hostages in social security fight

On the first day of the 114th Congress, the new Republican majority instituted a seemingly arcane rule change that in reality, could endanger some Social Security recipients. The maneuver seems to be an intentional strategy of threatening people as part of a political ploy, unless it’s actually a cold-blooded attack on the elderly and disabled. That raises some questions about what our Congressional delegation, including Bruce Poliquin, our new GOP representative from the 2nd District,…

LePage’s fight with the feds only hurts Maine

Governor LePage waged some high stakes battles against President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in his first term, and it looks like he’ll continue that policy in his second. The battle has drawn blood, but I don’t think it’s hurt the president very much. The wounded in this fight, I’m afraid, are the people of Maine. It’s difficult to understand why the governor would do that much damage to the economy and the health of the…

Smoke and mirrors, or smoking rubble?

Susan Collins and Angus King have a few things in common. They both know how to maximize their influence in one of the world’s most vexing legislative chambers. They are both frustrated that the State Department has not announced whether or not it will approve the 1,200 miles of the Keystone XL pipeline that crosses the US-Canadian border. They both have to deal with the fact that the Senate is clearly broken, and that the…

Department Of Human Disservices

Somebody in Maine government is confused about her job, and as a result, the state may lose as much as $9 million in federal money.Government bureaucracy, am I right? Simple misunderstandings occur, maybe the wrong form is filled out, and children go hungry? But that’s not the kind of confusion in question here. It’s not that Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, is confused about the relationship between the U.S.…

Our era of constant campaigning

As Maine’s state legislature begins a new session this week, I’m worried about what’s coming — and not just because of who holds the most power. What worries me is the appearance of some Washington theatrics in Augusta, and what that might mean for our state.The Republican Party had a good election day last November. Our major political parties represent sprawling constituencies. They rarely govern with precision or ideological focus. But generally speaking, a good…

Don't undo Maine's progress

Maine has a long history of finding the will of its voters frustrated by the Supreme Court. After all, we owe our existence as a state to the Missouri/Maine Compromise of 1820, which was later ruled unconstitutional in Dred Scott v Sanford.
Tagged under

The right to a liberal arts education

OK, guy walks into a bar. Well, no, it’s not really a bar, it’s a tent. Specifically his brother’s tent. He’s really hungry, and his brother is cooking up some amazing stew (the King James Bible called it “pottage”) — something like a red lentil soup. The first guy asks for some — he’s been out hunting, and things haven’t gone well, and he’s actually so hungry that what he says actually translates to something…
Tagged under

'The people out of doors'

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “protest march?” Shared outrage? Worried authorities talking about potential violence, or relieved authorities talking about peacefulness? This month’s “March to End Violence” was a protest over what looks like legal immunity for recent police killings of black men. But it was also a democratic argument, a claim about what our lives should look like now, in the face of a disturbing counter-argument that is as…
Subscribe to this RSS feed