Don't Let LePage Become Bush

Friday’s snow day gave me pause to reflect on LePage’s numerous speaking infractions. From beards to butts, LePage is covering the state of Maine with his offensive speech and careless attitude. I couldn’t help but remember the many speeches that President Bush gave during his tenure in office: mouth hanging open, arrogance in full view, and equally careless attitude towards much of the suffering happening in the country and the world at the time. As we start this week of rallying and fighting to protect public workers, improve the state budget and so much more, I hope we can all keep in mind one important idea: Let’s not let Governor LePage play the same role in politics that President Bush did.

Over the course of eight years, progressive people spent millions of dollars and countless hours attempting to marginalize and out-maneuver President Bush. Bush became the symbol of all that was wrong with America. The strategy worked. Republicans and Democrats alike gave up on President Bush, and many would say that anti-Bush sentiment helped the Democrats regain majorities in Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008. Victory, right? Not so fast. Read more »

LePage's Plans to Deny Care

In the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel this week, I talk about Governor LePage's town hall event that I attended here in Westbrook last week, where the subject of health care arose several times, despite not being specifically listed as one of the event's approved topics.

On the front page of the same paper, you can read about LePage's trip to Washington, where his message was "Keep your money; give us flexibility."

Specifically, he wants the flexibility to reduce MaineCare eligibility. According to Maine Equal Justice Partners, his plan would make 14,000 Maine parents ineligible for MaineCare and lose the state more than $18 million in federal funds, more than twice what his cuts would save.

Here's a clip of Maggie's question and LePage's response:

Fighting Back with Progress in Education

Yes, nationally there’s a campaign out there against American public education. And, yes, there’s evidence that campaign is based, even locally, on deliberately skewed statistics.

The tactics in this campaign are threefold. Outlined below, the first two prongs are easy to recognize and widespread enough to warrant their own press release template:

1. Idiocy, public incompetence, and private corruption conspire to drive above-mean public education costs <insert local per-pupil cost numerator (n) and denominator (d) where n is greater than d and d is either a national or regional mean or the tuition charge at a parochial school>

2. Idiocy, incompetence, and corruption conspire to drive below-mean performance <insert slam-dunk substandard standardized test score, state ranking, proficiency ratio, or international benchmark comparison to recent rough equivalent from Massachusetts, Finland or Singapore>

While corrosive enough on their own, bear in mind that these alarums are merely applause traps for the cheap seats intended only to roll popular support for public education back on its heels ahead of the third roundhouse punch which is to represent public education as calcified and incapable of change.

Read more »

Maybe We'll Find a Witch

Quote of the day:

"I don't know, you know, he's on a witch hunt for dollars that he thinks that we've been spending inappropriately, and you know, more power to him--maybe we'll find a witch someplace."

- Sen. Margaret Craven (source)

(that's right, I'm bringing back the QOTD)

The Science Behind the Ban on BPA

The science is clear: Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disruptor linked to a staggering number of health problems, including learning disabilities, behavior problems, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive damage, early puberty in girls, diabetes, obesity and other health problems. You may notice that little beards is not on this laundry list of serious health consequences resulting from exposure to BPA.

Unfortunately, the science is not clear to all. I’m sure you’ve already heard about Governor LePage’s dismissal of the dangers of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). He asserted, “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.” This comment is both inaccurate about the effects of BPA exposure and fails to give credence to this serious problem.

I am not scientist, but I trust the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention when they caution against the use of BPA in consumer products. In a 2010 report, The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated: Read more »

Fallout Continues from LePage's "Beards" Remark

Paul LePage's strange remarks about why he doesn't support banning the toxic chemical bisphenol-A and his joke that it causes women to grow "little beards" have continued to spread far and wide today, as I discuss at Down East.

The Maine Women's Lobby has set up a handy tool if you'd like to send a message to LePage expressing an opinion about his statement.

Also, Dirigo Blue notes that the state's web page on BPA facts has undergone some recent changes.

Chances of Snowe: An Early Forecast

In the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel this week, I take a look at some recent maneuvering concerning the 2012 Senate race.

Snowe's announced Republican primary challengers, Andrew Ian Dodge and Scott D'Amboise, may not have what it takes to deny the senior senator her re-election, but there's plenty of time for a more credible opponent to emerge and there seems to be lots of local and national support available for a challenger's campaign.

At Down East earlier this week, I discussed Snowe's responses to a tea party questionnaire, which seems to be another example of her tacking rightward in an attempt to overcome a primary.

If the unlikely came to pass and Snowe was defeated for the 2012 GOP nomination, she would not be able to gain ballot status for the general election as an independent or third party candidate, as Joe Lieberman did in Connecticut in 2006. I believe she would, however, still be able to contest the election as a write-in candidate as Lisa Murkowski did, successfully, in Alaska last year.

Maine's Community Health Centers at Risk

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee's plan to cut more than $1 billion in federal funding to community health centers across the country would mean that more than 30,000 patients in Maine would lose access to care.

Maine is home to 19 community health centers, most of which are in rural areas and, in some cases, provide the only access to a local doctor.

The Rev. Bob Carlson, president of the Maine Primary Care Association (MPCA), says the loss of funding comes at a time when demand is at its highest for health-center services.

"Statewide, it would mean an implication of the loss of 3 million dollars out of the gate. We would have, in addition to that, a lost opportunity to provide access to care for a huge number of Maine people." Read more »

Should Maine's Whiter Schools Do Better?

Recently, detractors of public schooling are executing this most provocative reverse-gainer:

“Okay, we concede that Maine may actually rank in the top third nationally in test scores. But the scores elsewhere are pulled down substantially by blacks and Hispanics. Maine has hardly any blacks. If you compare Maine against only the white scores in other states, Maine is consistently substandard. This proves Maine schools are failing.”

It’s unlikely to find this in print. But it did just appear explicitly on the conservative AsMaineGoes web forum. I’ve also heard it furtively whispered a few times around the state complex in Augusta.

For those prone to bananas-to-bananas comparisons, there is an alluring symmetry to the surface logic. Let’s toss out all those troublesome minorities and let our white guys compete against their white guys and, for once, we’ll have a fair measure on a level playing field. Read more »

Sippy Cups vs. Jobs - A False Choice

While many Mainers were enjoying a romantic and chocolate-laden Valentine's Day, hundreds of their neighbors spent the day at the State House, where the Regulatory Fairness & Reform Committee met from 9 am until nearly 7 pm taking testimony on LD 1 and the Governor's Phase 1 regulatory reform plan, including a 48-page amendment that was handed to the Committee during the public hearing. The testimony was overwhelmingly in opposition to the Governor's plan, echoing what we heard at 7 regional hearings over the past 3 weeks - watch the videos here.

On Monday, the Committee heard from the Governor's legal counsel, Dan Billings, who made it clear that while several of the most controversial rollbacks in in Phase 1 were left out of the amendment (for example, the Kids-Safe Products Act, banning Bis-A from sippy cups, clean air protections, eliminating LURC and zoning 3 million acres for development), Governor LePage has NOT backed away from these rollbacks and will be supporting legislation to implement them as we go forward. Read more »