Blog

Running

It’s important for Hancock County’s Democrats to know that, no matter who wins this primary, they’re going to have a runner running for state senate.

Running, for me, is one way to maintain a sunny disposition in the face of a world that often looks quite dark. But because I’ve been so busy running around and bugging people for five bucks lately, I haven’t been able to actually—you know—run! It’s probably been two weeks. For months beforehand, I’d been running every day—and since I was twelve, I’d been running ALMOST every day, although rarely competitively.

While my running speeds generally aren’t too impressive, sometimes I manage to push myself. One of these pictures is from a relatively recent run in Seal Harbor, another is from a mysterious day last year when I somehow managed to run like a madman, and the 6:33 average speed is, I think, from the recent Frosty 5k, where I placed 8th or 9th among fifty or sixty other runners.

This also relates to the Hancock County Dems event I attended last night in Ellsworth. The room was packed—not only with sharp, attentive voters, but plenty of candidates and legislators who are all going to Augusta (or, as my three-year-old calls it, Disgusta) very soon to fight for what’s right: universal health care, a high minimum wage, and schools free from fear, among many other vital issues.

Our similarities outweigh our differences. I think it’s important for us all to remember that, even if we may disagree on the particulars (and, especially, when it comes to citizens’ initiatives), every single candidate and legislator in that room—and all the voters, as well—are head-and-shoulders above the opposition (as described in the Ellsworth American article I’m posting below, which tellingly fails to mention my name, yet again).

I sat next to Louie Luchini last night, and will be happy to fight for him—as well as all the other Democrats and progressives in that room—if he wins this primary. And, should I myself have the honor of winning, I will reach out to Louie for help wherever he can provide it. This is a team sport, and we are here to forge friendships.

It’s an exciting time to be a progressive. We’ll keep fighting, and we’ll win

Bootstraps

I’ve had this idea for a TV show kicking around in my head. Kind of similar to 30 Days, but called Bootstraps.

We find a volunteer—someone who believes that hard work and perseverance will inevitably lead to personal prosperity in America. A person willing to put these values to the test.

To be on our show, this person must temporarily quit her job, empty her bank account, and give up her home, her computer, her printer, her car, her phone, her internet, and her utilities.

She can’t use her friends, family, or acquaintances for help, or even as references on her job applications.

At this point, our volunteer is almost ready to live in extreme poverty. The situation isn’t totally realistic, because we can’t take away the decades of good meals and the decent education and family life she has doubtless enjoyed. She’s already at an advantage compared to people living in extreme poverty.

In our show, for one month, or six months, however long our volunteer believes it takes, she has to live on $2 per day, as millions of Americans already do.

This means staying at the nearest hostel or homeless shelter, if they have room for her. She’ll have to sneak into the YMCA across town to take a shower, and she won’t be able to store her belongings in a safe place, since that’s unaffordable for her.

I’m not sure what she’s going to eat, or how she’s going to cook it or store it.

To apply for jobs, she’ll have to walk to the library. Most if not all employers are going to raise their eyebrows when she mentions on her job applications that they have to contact her via email because she can’t even afford a flip phone. She’s not allowed to take advantage of any personal connections she has from her previous life. All of this might be difficult, since she won’t have a permanent address. She won’t be able to get a bank account, register to vote, or access any benefits for the poor.

If she manages to get a job, however, she’ll be free to use whatever money she makes to improve her situation.

How can she win our reality TV show? Simple. Purchase a house and a car. That’s a loose definition of the American dream, isn’t it? And to make things easier, it can be any house. Any car.

At any point in the show, she’s welcome to give up and return to her normal, comfortable existence.

So. Who thinks she has a chance? Are there any volunteers?

At the same time, I’d like to find someone living in extreme poverty, and, if possible, make that person CEO of a major American company for one month or six months or so.

Let’s see if a typical person suffering from extreme poverty has what it takes to earn $20,000 every few seconds, as Jeff Besos does.

For a billionaire, purchasing a $200,000 home, for instance, is the mathematical equivalent of an ordinary person (earning $50,000 per year) buying a candy bar—meaning that it might not be too difficult to hire advisors to help with whatever is difficult about the day-to-day running of a company.

(source on that candy bar here: https://np.reddit.com/…/bill_gates_buy_hyde_park_m…/dy8u5qk/)

For me, I think wandering the streets in search of the bottom rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is far harder than meeting with boards of directors and choosing to lay off thousands of workers after receiving my latest slew of tax cuts, but I’m prepared to have my beliefs challenged.

If our homeless person’s actions lead to a loss of profit for our American company (even as little as a $1 loss in profit), she loses our reality TV game show, and has to return to her life on the streets.

If profits stay the same or improve, she wins, and gets to keep her job.

Interestingly, while researching this piece, I found an example of someone who had already basically lived this show. “I now work 80–90 hour weeks running a tech company,” she writes, “and in comparison to how hard I worked when I was homeless, my current situation is a vacation.”

https://www.quora.com/What-does-it-feel-like-to-be-homeless…

The first source on that page did not grow up poor, however, so her situation isn’t quite the same as the majority of people living in poverty. Have a look at the second and third sources. Then imagine all the people out there who are living like this, right now, with no way out.

Are any believers in the divine power of hard work ready to take up this challenge?

If it’s possible to escape extreme poverty thanks to hard work, then there may be some merit to the idea that handouts discourage lazy people from pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.

If, on the other hand, it proves virtually impossible to escape, as I expect it will, then we should move heaven and earth to ensure that not a single person living in this country has to experience this pointless and unnecessary indignity.

Who wants to play Bootstraps?

Registration Drive

Progressives, Independents, Unenrolled Voters, lend me your ears!

If you’re tired of Democrats watering down state referendums, I’m your guy.

If you want someone who will say NO to tax scams and corporate welfare, vote for me.

If you know that health care is a human right, register to vote.

If you want to protect the environment for your children and grandchildren, we need to work together.

Maine has limitless potential. At the end of the tunnel is a state where every single resident has a good job.

Modern healthcare.

Affordable daycare for young kids.

Affordable homecare for elders.

Affordable housing for new residents as well as the descendants of our very first residents.

Blazing fast internet.

All our power from the sun.

New businesses—new startups and inventions pouring out of Maine.

An environment envied by the world.

We can get there from here. But first, we need to work together.

I’m running as a Democrat for State Senate in District 7 (mostly Hancock County), and I need your help.

Head to your town office today and take five minutes to fill out that little card. Register as a Democrat. Bring a friend.

Because after May 22nd, if you don’t register as a Democrat, you aren’t going to be able to vote in the Democratic Primary here in Maine.

2,000 people voted in the last local primary. Even one vote makes a massive difference.

Thank you!

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Let’s remember, as we celebrate, that plenty of mothers in our state are tipped workers, and that although their wages were raised by referendum, the legislature didn’t care about the will of the voters, and lowered their wages again.

More information about that here: https://nwlc.org/…/maines-legislature-ignores-the-peoples-…/

It could be your mother who’s forced to work in a restaurant and accept whatever abuse comes her way from customers, because that’s her only way to make ends meet. Make sure to thank the legislators listed here who voted yes to lower their wages and make their lives far harder than necessary:

http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/rollcall.asp…

You might find some familiar names. Far too many D’s voted against labor here, and then they wonder why we keep losing working class voters to snake oil salesmen like our president who promise, with their fingers crossed behind their backs, to fight for jobs.

Every issue is linked. A woman’s basic right to earn a living free of harassment is linked with the minimum wage, and that’s linked with the legislature’s cavalier attitude toward referendums. That’s the way it is with every issue we’re fighting for.

Thanks, yet again, to Diane Russell for inspiring this post.

The Same Old, Same Old

Does anyone here think that electing the same old, same old is going to move Maine in the right direction?

Does anyone see their kids staying here after high school or college and getting good jobs and buying nice, affordable homes and raising their families in Hancock County?

The politicians in Augusta have had many years to make things right. “Paul LePage would have vetoed it” or “the Republicans would have blocked it” is no excuse for not introducing bills designed to make life more fair for every. single. person. in Maine.

Bernie Sanders is introducing bill after bill in the senate right now. Some Americans call these bills “leftwing”—the rest of the world calls them “basic.” He knows they won’t get past Trump or the Republicans, but he’s introducing them anyway because the man gives a damn.

You won’t hear the usual lame excuses from me when I’m in Augusta. The buck stops here.

Memorial Day Speech

I was lucky enough to be invited to speak in Bar Harbor [on Memorial Day] by the Chamber of Commerce. This is the text of my speech. Sadly, there’s no video. It’s brief!

As you might be able to guess from my appearance, I’m not a soldier. In fact, you have to go back to my grandparent’s generation to find anyone in my immediate family who served in the armed forces. My great uncle told me once about watching, with his own eyes, as Japanese fighter planes dove into American warships.

But actually, my brother-in-law is in the armed forces right now—he’s a captain in the military police in South Korea. For years he and his family lived within a few hundred meters of the DMZ. My brother in law’s been shot at by North Koreans. In the last ten years, his fellow soldiers have been blown up by mines, hit with artillery, and drowned in the sea thanks to North Koreans.

People ask me, now and then, what I think about the situation there, since I lived in South Korea for eight years. I think you can’t trust their government. You can’t trust them any more than you could trust the Confederacy or the Nazis or the fascist government of Imperial Japan or the Soviet Union, whose empty ideological legacy of enslaving our fellow men and women the North Korean people have sadly inherited. We have fought the monster of slavery many times before, both within and without our borders, and we have defeated it every single time. We will defeat it again.

Speaking of which—did anyone here serve in Korea? Thank you. Have you been to South Korea lately? I have you to thank for my wife and children. My wife’s entire family has you to thank for not being enslaved by the Kim dynasty, and for helping to turn the nation of South Korea into a glittering metropolis of fifty million people.

But today is Memorial Day. We also have to thank those who are not with us here—the 33,652 Americans who died in Korea. 651,008 Americans died in battle since our nation was founded. 1.2 million more died while in active service.

Yesterday I was knocking on doors in Blue Hill, and I couldn’t resist stopping by the old cemetery there. I found two gravestones belonging to men who were born in the thirteen colonies, and died in the United States. They did not die in active service. 48,000 American soldiers, or about one in twenty able-bodied white males, gave their lives in the American Revolution so that we could speak freely here today. Crispus Attucks, a man of Native American and African descent, was the first American killed in the Boston Massacre, and thus the first American to shed blood in the American Revolution.

I want to conclude by quoting the end of the Gettysburg Address, which is probably the greatest speech ever made on the subject of war and sacrifice, and which was delivered several months after the last hope of the Confederate slave-owners was destroyed in battle. I have modified it slightly.

The brave men and women, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated this land, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.