Politics & Other Mistakes (77)

I don’t recall

Here’s a great idea for those of you interested in making things worse: Let’s allow voters to recall any elected official in Maine that they don’t like, including the governor. Democratic state Sen. Justin Chenette of Saco has introduced a bill to do exactly that. Never mind that it’s probably unconstitutional (more on that later). The big problem is it’s a recipe for political chaos. If you think the state is currently divided — Democrats…

Angus King of Nothing

“An independent,” writes P.J. O’Rourke, “is a person who doesn’t know what to think. And is proud of it.” O’Rourke’s comment — from his latest book, How The Hell Did This Happen? — wasn’t specifically aimed at independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine. But it could have been. King has a reputation for taking thoughtful stands on issues. Which is a polite way of saying he dithers around, before reverting to his default setting:…

Shift it into gear

So you want to buy a legislator. You’ve come to the right place. Honest Al’s Discount Political Emporium has the state’s largest selection of new and used lawmakers, and we’re ready to deal. It doesn’t matter what model you want — conservatives, liberals, ultra-left city slickers, alt-right country bumpkins — we’ve got ‘em. And at prices even the lowliest lobbyist can afford. Before I show you what’s on sale, let me give you a few…

The road goes on forever

It’s tempting to blame everything wrong with state government on stupidity. But according to scientists, I’m probably making up, only 42.5 percent of governmental screw-ups are caused by dopiness. The rest is due to something more complex. Namely, complexity. It turns out that a lot of what appears to be simple about running Maine’s bureaucracy isn’t. That’s a lesson Republican Gov. Paul LePage doesn’t seem capable of learning, mostly because LePage is a major contributor…

Faking it

Maine has many serious problems, so it’s only natural the Legislature would devote all its efforts to finding solutions.   Except there’s nothing natural about the Legislature (warning: contains androids, invasive species and random bits of plastic), so it’s no wonder legislators dither away their time on insignificant matters. As everyone in this state knows, actual issues of importance are settled by referendum.   Shuffling complicated policy questions off on the voters frees legislators to…

Give the credit where it’s due

Here’s a rule they don’t teach in economics classes:   It’s not just about lower taxes. It’s really about paying less in taxes than the competition.   Allow me to use myself as an example. Years ago, I developed a successful scheme to reduce my tax bill: I decided to make my living as freelance political columnist, thereby severely limiting my earnings. But even though my annual bills from the tax collectors in Augusta and…

Vanishing Land

Nobody likes moderates, anymore.   Once upon a time, middle-of-the-roaders were considered thoughtful and measured in their actions. They weighed a proposal’s advantages and consequences and attempted to craft a course that produced as much as possible of the former and as little of the latter. They preferred pragmatism over ideology and were open to fresh perspectives even if they came from the opposition. They got things done, although not quite enough for those on…

Lost In Translation

Here’s an official statement from Republican 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s spokesman, in response to a question from The Lewiston Sun Journal:   “The congressman understands that this topic raises passionate discussion on both sides of the issue. He agrees that all of us should extend compassion and support to every woman in need of care – and always offer help, never condemnation.”   No idea what Poliquin is talking about? Don’t worry, there’s…

With a conflicted heart

Ryan Tipping may be the most honest member of the Maine Legislature.   That’s not really a compliment.   The state law that governs legislative ethics can be roughly translated from the legalese thusly: Do whatever the hell you want. Just don’t get caught.   As ethics laws go, that’s pretty strict. In Illinois and Louisiana, lawmakers are required to commit criminal acts. And in our nation’s capital, the president is allowed to craft his…

Do nothing ‘till you hear from me

The Maine Legislature doesn’t like to be told what to do. That’s because the Legislature would prefer not doing anything. For a politician, doing stuff is risky. No matter how innocuous the action (a proclamation declaring National Don’t Do A Damn Thing Day), there are going to be people who won’t like it (probably the Alliance of Highly Motivated Doers). Once legislators are on record for or against, the folks annoyed with whatever they did…
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