Saturday, January 15, 2011

Palin - LePage 2012

I wish I could take credit for the idea of Sarah Palin running for President in 2012 with Paul LePage as her running mate, but I can't. I actually first read of the concept in the comments section of a story published at The news article that generated the comment had to do with newly elected Maine Governor Paul LePage saying, on camera no less, that the NCAAP could "kiss my butt". The news story has been extensively covered so I won't belabor the point here.

The reason I think a Palin/LePage ticket would be so awesome is that I cannot think of two politicians more alike in their ability to divide the electorate into starkly partisan camps. Sarah Palin is ardently adored by her supporters; the rest of us pretty much think she is a joke.

So it is with Paul LePage. He was elected governor of the state of Maine with a plurality of 38% of the votes cast, which of course means that the other 62% of the voters cast their votes for someone else. It has been reported that almost all recent gubanatorial races in Maine have been won by candidates who received less than a majority of the votes cast. In this light, LePage's 38% plurality does not seem to be out of line with other elections, but I think in this case there is a difference: those that voted for Paul LePage love him, but those who did not would have preferred to see ANYONE but him elected. He's a man the Tea Party loves and everybody else doesn't. He was nobody's second (or even third) choice - those that didn't vote for him voted AGAINST him. Like Sarah Palin, he's that devisive.

When the election results were final and it was determined that LePage was Maine's new Governor I, and I think most Mainers, wished him well and hoped for his success in guiding Maine into the future. Now less than two weeks into his administration I have grave doubts about his ability to unite us and move the State forward. The opposite is true, it seems. Paul LePage seems to have no regard for any interests other than his own and no respect for any person or group that would advance a point of view contrary to his.

The Tea Party has it seems to me a "my way or the highway" mentality - either you agree with them or you are wrong. There can be no middle ground, and therefore no basis for compromise. Sarah Palin and Paul LePage both seem to embody this spirit and that's why I think they would make an ideal ticket for the Presidential election in 2012. And hopefully no strong third party candidate will emerge to create a scenario where they could actually win the election with less than 50% of the popular vote.

PALIN/LEPAGE 2012 - I may have a bumper sticker made up so I can promote the idea. And I hope that the vast majority of citizens who are NOT Tea Partiers will be sufficiently afraid of the prospect to vote for their opponents.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Governor's Daughter

Much has been written elsewhere about the decision to hire newly inaugerated Governor Paul LePage's 22 year-old daughter for a staff position in the executive office. The job, which pays $41,000 per year, is Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, or something like that.

Criticism of the hiring has ranged from complaints of her apparent lack of any particular qualifications to do the job, to charges of outright nepotism. Some analysts have determined that the action would be illegal in most states but apparently is not in Maine. While I do have some opinions on these issues I will leave the debate of them to others more knowledgeable than I.

My problem with the decision to hire Ms. LePage, or anyone else for that matter, is that there does not seem to have been any consideration whatsoever as to whether the position needed to be filled to begin with. Governor LePage ran on a promise to shrink the bloated State government and it seems to me that the easiest, quickest way to start the process would be to analyze every staff position in his own office to determine if it is critical, or even necessary, to the efficient operation of the office. If a position is not necessary, and I suspect there are lots of them that are not, then don't fill it.

This approach to filling vacancies on the Governor's staff would accomplish a couple of things: it would reduce spending, which he promised to do; and, more importantly, it would send the signal that the Governor is serious about austerity and he is willing to share the pain that budget cuts will entail. Sure, his Chief of Staff may have to get his own coffee but, hey - everbody has to suffer in the face of a budget crisis, right?

I'm not one of those who believe that the State can eliminate its deficit solely through budget cuts, but where cuts make sense they should be made and the Governor and his Chief of Staff should look at the Executive Office organization chart to see if there is any "bloat" there to be excised. Perhaps the savings would be small in relation to the overall deficit but this symbolic act would send the message that Governor LePage is not going to conduct "business as usual" even with his own immediate staff.

Or maybe all that tough campaign rhetoric about eliminating wasteful programs and expenses was just empty talk to get his supporters (38% of the electorate, as it turns out) excited. One thing I know for sure, after any election campaign workers and financial supporters (and maybe family members) of the winning candidate are frequently rewarded with staff positions and other appointed jobs. Perhaps we were expecting too much to think it would be any different this time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

craigslist (part 2)

Craigslist is definitely an interesting way to "meet" people. Like any online community it is populated by people with a whole range of personalities, attitudes, ambitions and desires, and of course not everybody is necessarily who they represent themselves to be. Some precautions are prudent when you venture into this place and a little skepticism is called for in reading the posts and emails, but precautions and skepticism are always a good idea when you meet someone new no matter where it takes place. And like any other meeting place the key to avoiding disappointment is to keep your hopes high and your expectations low.

It's been about a year and a half since I decided to become an active member of the craigslist community; I've responded to several posts of "women seeking men" and I've posted a couple of ads of my own. Overall the results have been surprisingly positive (but remember, I have low expectations.) Not totally positive, for sure, but on balance it has been a much more pleasant experience then I imagined it would be. I've had some really entertaining email exchages with several women and I have met several in person for one or more "dates".

So far the experience has produced a few women whom I enjoyed meeting, on email or in person, and remember fondly but we are no longer in touch; a couple of friends that I correspond with occasionally even though we didn't "connect"; one very special friend who might have become more if she had not moved out of state; and, most recently, my one major "disappointment", someone I met, was very attracted to and desperately wanted to get to know better but she suddenly and inexplicably stopped corresponding with me. Oh well, she was probably too young for me anyway. (Note to self: re-read rule about hopes/expectations.)

I'll continue to "cruise" craigslist on a regular basis looking for any post that makes me think there might be hope for a connection, and I'm sure I'll keep posting every now and then myself, if only to see what new strategies the "spammers/scammers" have come up with to get me to go to their website or click on their link. (Any "men seeking women" posting on craigslist is guaranteed to generate numerous, almost immediate replies from "bots", followed closely by several apparently "real" responses that promise all kinds of delight if only you reply to them - all of these are immediately deleted but it's still entertaining to see how quickly they arrive in my in-box and how many of them there are.)

Somewhere there's an attractive, interesting, open-minded woman looking for an eccentric 64 year-old, financially secure homebody who lives with 3 dogs and 2 cats - maybe she's on craigslist.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

craigslist (part 1)

I first became aware of craigslist a couple of years ago, when it was frequently in the news for all kinds of sordid things. Since I was happily single and had time on my hands I began browsing around occasionally just to see what was going on, and I discovered what everybody else already knew: there is nothing that you cannot get on craigslist. Just like the line from my favorite Arlo Guthrie song, "You can get anything you want...", except on craigslist even Alice can be had, it seems.

So I began to read the "personals" category pretty regularly and "women seeking men" became my main focus because - well, because I love women. And as I read more and more of the posts I began to learn how the game is played, and about the different types of women who post ads and what they are looking for. It was all very interesting and entertaining but I continued to read passively ("lurking", as it were) for quite a while.

And then the post that totally changed my approach to craigslist appeared. Up until then I had been casually reading posts with no intent beyond amusing myself and passing some time. I wasn't "looking" for anyone or anything and the thought of responding to an ad just had never occurred to me, until I read THE POST. It immediately caught my eye because of the title, and when I read the entire post my first thought was, "She's right - that's EXACTLY how I feel, too!" Here's the post:
I miss the sex (Portland)
Date: 2009-07-31, 9:28PM EDT
Reply To This Post

but I miss the intimacy more. I am past the age of casual sex, one night stands, fwb and not quite available enough to have an intensive relationship. My friend says I need a good friend to sleep with, my question is where do you find one of those. Before I got married I use to have 'that back up guy' now that I am not married all I have is myself. It has been a while since I have had sex but even longer since I have had intimacy. I miss them both. If you have ever been in a marriage that failed then you know that the intimacy ends long before the sex stops.
I like commitment and monogamy so looking for intimacy on CL doesn't make a whole lot of sense but I guess I need to start somewhere. I mean really how do I tell the cute guy at the grocery store that all I really need is some TLC, I miss making out, I miss being touched, I miss being cuddled, I miss having someone ask how my day was and actually be sincerely interested. I miss having a man look at me with longing, desire, hunger, etc
If I had wanted to write my own post this, with only a few modifications for gender of course, would have been it! All of a sudden I realized not only that I really was "looking", now I knew what I was looking for - this was a total epiphany for me! You might think that I immediately hit the "reply to this post" button, but no, I did not. I still was not ready to jump into active participation with the craiglist community, but at least I knew there might be something to be gained if I did. From then on I read the posts with a whole new interest, thinking that maybe if just the right post came along I would muster up the courage to reply.

That's the story of how I came to be and active member of the craigslist "personals" community. I'll continue the saga with some of the experiences I've had in a later post, as I've replied to a lot of ads and even posted a couple of my own with what can best be described as "mixed" results. But it's still fun and I've learned not to take the rejections, which are always a risk of meeting new people, too much to heart.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Obituaries

I never used to pay much attention to the obituary section of the newspaper; just a quick glance to see if I recognized any names and then on to the next section. Recently though that has changed and I find myself spending more time with the section, sometimes reading the entire obituary of a dearly departed that I had never even heard of before.

Now when I get to that section of the paper there are some things I look for: familiar names, of course (happily there have been very few of these), people from the area where I live (so I can see if I know any of their survivors), and people my age or younger. Sad to say this last group seems to appear with increasing frequency but I guess that's only natural since with every year that passes the group gets larger (and older).

If I am moved to read a particular obituary one of the things I look for, especially when the decedent was "young" (which I loosely define as under 90 or so) is the cause of death. Sometimes it's specified ("as a result of a tragic accident", "after a long and courageous battle with cancer (usually)", or "after a period of declining health" are all common descriptions) but often there is no indication at all. It's none of my business of course, but I still have a morbid curiousity about what led to their final demise. Occasionally the explanation can be found in a related news story but this is rare and especially tragic, I think. One line that always gives me a chuckle is when someone over the age of 90 or so is said to have "died unexpectedly". I mean, how much of a surprise could it have been?!

Of course each notice is unique but there are some common phrases that seem to appear in many obituaries. "Surrounded by loving family" is one that I think is nice - it seems a shame to be alone when death comes. I was not present when either of my parents passed and I've always regretted that; I was close by and had been with them shortly before their final passage, so maybe they waited until I wasn't there to leave so I wouldn't have to witness their departure (that sounds like something both of them would do.) Still, I wish I had been there to hold their hand and say goodbye.

I've already mentioned another recurring phrase, "after a long and courageous battle with..." I know there are people who have debilitating terminal diseases who nevertheless show great courage and strength in the face of their condition and they are a source of pride and inspiration to all who know them. Let it be known here and now that I am not such a person. If I have such an illness I will live well for as long as I am able, but when the pain and physical/mental infirmities set in I want drugs, and lots of them. There will be no "long and courageous battle" for me, and my obituary should not say otherwise! When my time comes (hopefully much later rather than sooner) all I hope for is for it to be relatively pain free and sufficiently quick so as not to impose a burden, emotional, financial or otherwise, on my loved ones. Which reminds me, I have to make sure my "Living Will" is in order and I suggest that anyone reading this do the same.

So yes, the obituaries have become a "must read" section for me because I have reached a stage of life where I realize that one's death is not as important as how one is remembered, and that is what the obituaries tell us.

As for my own, I hope it's something like, "...died just a week shy of his 101st birthday as a result of being shot by a jealous husband."