Sunday, February 26, 2012

Old time rock and roll!

OK, I've told you about WMPG and the great variety of music they play - hopefully you're a regular listener by now. But if you are like me, every now and then you need a concentrated fix of early - I'm talking '50s and '60s - rock and roll. You know, the music that started the whole rock'n'roll phenomenom - rockabilly, blues infused rock, British Invasion rock, California Surf music; the music they used to play on AM radio stations like WKBW out of Buffalo, NY. If you grew up in the day, you know what I mean. And I'm here to help you get what you need.

When you are in a mood for some concentrated rock and roll from the early days of the genre, cruise on over to and click on the "TNT Audio" button - then pick a show and be prepared to enjoy 90 minutes of great music presented in the format of early pop radio. This is some good stuff!

OK, if that seems like too much work for you, I'll try to put a link here:  TNT Audio
But if it doesn't work (you know that I am technologically impaired) find it yourself - I promise it's worth the effort, and when you get there you can bookmark it or make it a "favorite" like I did so you can go there often to listen to some really great music!

Thank you, Bill Audette, for putting this show together every week - it's a "must hear" for every rock and roll junky like me!

Monday, February 20, 2012


If you are a veteran age 62 or older, or if you are disabled, you may be eligible for a property tax exemption that will lower your tax bill from the town where you live. The exemption is provided by State law but you have to apply to the local assessor's office by April 1st to get it. If you need a copy of the application leave a comment with your email address and I'll send it to you. Good luck, and thanks for your service! ("Click" on the form to enlarge it.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I told you this was going to happen

Of course I would have voted for IBM over Exxon-Mobil (see "Big Blue" for President!), but that's just me. I'm pretty sure that is Chief Justice Roberts administering the oath of office; that seems fitting. (Click on the cartoon for a larger view.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seventh Annual "Freeze Out Fuel/Food Drive"

"On February 18th and 19th, Freeport Community Services staff, board members and volunteers will be spending 24 hours standing in the cold to make the point that there are residents of Freeport and Pownal who are struggling to keep fuel in their tanks and food on their tables this winter. It's the seventh annual Freeze Out Fuel and Food Drive.
"Sue Mack, FCS Family Services Coordinator, will lead the steadfast group who stays outside and awake for the entire 24 hours...(T)his event is organized to provide community members with the basic necessities of a warm home and food on the table. All are welcome and encouraged to join her during this twenty-four hour drive."

That is an excerpt from an item published in The Notes this week and it got me to thinking (again) about the town's budget priorities. Last year the Town Council approved the expenditure of $2.3million to develop some athletic fields because, as one of them later explained to me, the proposal was a "golden opportunity" to make Freeport a more attractive (to people with lots of money, presumably) place to live. And now our Community Services organization is literally begging for money to help residents heat their homes and put food on the table. Clearly the Council's spending priorities are out of whack.

The goal for this year's Freeze Out Fuel/Food Drive is $10,000. Just to put the whole thing in perspective, that sum is less than one-half of one percent of the money allocated for the athletic fields. It does not seem unreasonable to ask Council members to rethink their priorities when it comes to spending public funds. As I said in my email to them, a proposal to help our neighbors in need might not present a "golden opportunity" but it does present an opportunity to follow the "Golden Rule" - which do you think should get the first priority?

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Our governor was elected by a plurality rather than a majority of voters - 38% I think is the figure most commonly cited. There's noting wrong with this; in fact Maine has historically elected its Chief Executive by less than 50% of the votes cast. Voters here have always had an independent mind-set and there is often a challenger to the two party candidates, and Independents have won the office twice since I've been old enough to vote. So our political climate favors election by plurality, and in the past this has worked out quite well.

Previous governors, be they Republican, Democrat or Independent (no Greens yet, but they keep trying) have understood that since they were elected by less than a majority they would have to govern in a way garner support from a broader spectrum of the electorate than just their supporters. And voters, for their part, were willing to get behind him (always "him", so far) and support programs that were reasonable and not overly partisan. Through cooperation and compromise the business of governing got done. This time it's different.

Governor LePage seems not to understand, or not to care, that gaining support of 38% of the electorate does not give him a mandate to do as he pleases and that he is the governor, not a democratically elected dictator. The situation is further complicated by the fact the the 62% who did not vote for him really, really dislike him and his policies. He seems to have a "my way or no way" attitude that is going to make governing very, very difficult - maybe impossible unless he modifies his approach.

Maine, like most states, has a budget problem - we spend more than we have revenue to pay for. Everybody agrees it is a situation that needs to be addressed; nobody but the Tea Party agrees with LePage's proposals as to how this should be accomplished. So far his approach has been to propose cuts to programs, issue ultimatums and threat of veto if they are not passed as proposed, and then bully legislators into submission by showing up at hearings and scolding them for considering alternatives to his proposed cuts, all the while issuing inflammatory news releases to keep his 38% stirred up. This modus operandi has had predictable results.

The governor has alienated almost the entire legislature, including members of his own party who would have liked to support him out of party loyalty, if nothing else. He has pretty much made it impossible for his proposals to receive majority support of a legislature which is controlled by his own party. In fact, he has all but guaranteed that whatever does finally emerge from the law makers will bear no resemblance to what he wanted, and moreover it will probably pass with enough support to ensure that a veto will be over-ridden. And so we may have a budget in spite of the governor, not because of him.

Maybe that's the best case scenario for the State: the governor so alienates the legislature that it moves forward to pass necessary bills without his support or participation. Perhaps the most we can hope for from this governor is that he render himself so completely ineffectual as to be inconsequential to the business of governing. That's just sad.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Incompetent or In Cahoots?

I spend a lot of time - more than is healthy probably - fretting over the state of politics today. It seems that government at all levels has become dysfunctional: Congress and the president have been incapable or unwilling to even agree on a means to keep the government operating for more than a few months at a time; the State is grappling with a budget mess that defies solution; and the town council has the citizens in an uproar over something as basic as simply following the zoning requirements. Clearly something is wrong when our elected officials can't even manage the fundamentals of governing let alone lead us out of our current financial quagmire into a brighter future.

Problem solving, I was taught, first requires that the "root cause" of the problem be identified. This is not as simple as it may seem because often there are many contributing factors to any situation, and sometimes a symptom of a problem may appear on the surface as the cause when there is something more basic, more fundamental at work that has yet to be identified. So I have begun to consider what may be the root cause of the political malaise that has engulfed us, and I have come to a preliminary theory.

Money, of course, is always suspect when considering a corrupt or ineffective system, be it not enough of it or, as evidenced by the current presidential primary process, so much of it that it subverts the process. No one would argue, I think, that money can buy influence in government, or all those lobbyists would be out of work; we may soon find out if seemingly unlimited money can buy the whole government.

As significant as campaign financing and lobbying have become in influencing government at every level, I don't think it is the root cause of our problems. Government, after all, is no better than the men and women we elect to represent us and conduct the business of government on our behalf and in our interests. It's my opinion that a majority of our elected government, at all levels, are either incompetent, i.e., they want to serve their constituents but are simply not up to the task of standing up to corrupting influences, or they are in cahoots with those who would put there own special interests above the public interest. Either way, our elected officials simply are not serving our interests in a way that democratically elected representatives should.

I think most office seekers, with the probable exception of those pursuing the presidency, the highest office in the land, undertake the journey with good intentions and earnestly want to serve their constituents to the best of their ability. The current class of congressional freshmen from the Tea Party are, I think, sincere in their desire to change the way government operates, but even they are coming to recognize the frustration, maybe even futility, of working against the moneyed interests that control our government. After a time most of them, I predict, will cross over to be "in cahoots" with the plutocrats and the rest, if they are reelected, will soon be relegated to incompetence as they are unable to effect any change to the system. None will make a difference in how the system works because the system is rigged against them.

Everybody campaigns on a promise to make a difference and yet nobody does, because they are either in cahoots or incompetent. So what's an electorate to do? Somehow, we have to change the system ourselves and not wait for our elected representatives to do it (because they can't, or won't). We have the power to change government we just haven't used it. It's called "mass communication".

If elected officials start hearing from overwhelming numbers of us that we demand economic fairness, a health care system driven by efficient, effective care instead of profits, a tax system that values income produced by labor as much as investment income, and opportunity to succeed based on creativity and initiative instead of inherited wealth, then that is what we will get. Poll after poll confirms that the American public wants and values these things so why don't the politicians enact them? Because they are incompetent or in cahoots. We the people need to empower them by showing universal support for real change,not just self-serving lip service to change. We can argue about what the change should look like, but let's all agree that change must come.

So now you are on notice: if you want change just get the contact info for your Representative and Senators (google can give you this) and send each of them an email telling them what you want. If you don't do this RIGHT NOW you are incompetent - or in cahoots. There simply is no other explanation.

If enough of us speak, they will listen - one thing they understand is how to get re-elected.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recommended reading

Visitors to this site are subjected to my views and opinions on any number of topics, some serious, some whimsical, lots done tongue in cheek, and many that are certain to be of no interest whatsoever to anyone but me (and possibly my therapist, if I had one). I know many blogs have a purpose, be it to inform, persuade, entertain, vent, convert, sell, attract like-minded viewers, piss-off contrary-minded readers or promote the self-importance of the blogger (to name a few). My blog has no purpose other than my own self-amusement in writing it, a kind of literary masturbation, if you will. If you want to watch while I do it, well that makes you kinky, not me.

It appears, however, that there are viewers who insist on coming here despite there being no rational justification for doing so and (this defies any explanation) there may be some who have actually made return visits. So as an act of mercy to anyone looking for something worthwhile to read here, I'm going to list a few posts that may, in my humble opinion, actually have some redeeming social value (but I set the bar pretty low). I have omitted from the list any posts dealing primarily with my favorite topic, me; and politics, I'll leave that out,too. So here is my list of recommended posts, in chronological order of appearance. Read one, read them all, or run away from here as fast as you can - the choice is yours. One bit of advice: bourbon helps.

10/08/2010 - What is Government Good for? Some thoughts on the role of government in American life.

11/11/2010 - Veterans Day Observations on the reasons for the holiday.

12/28/10 - Thoughts on being a "Mainah" You don't have to be born here to be one.

03/05/2011 - Phoebe This is why I believe in Angels.

06/03/2011 - Civil Discourse and Rational Debate You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

06/21/2011 - Captain Samaritan
and ---------------------------------Read together, a tribute to a remarkable man.
07/10/2011 - Erland "Cappy" Quinn

08/14/2011 - The Gospel According to Lady Gaga She has something to say to you.

10/03/2011 - The big red, white and blue van - More on veterans.

12/19/2011 - WMPG - You can listen from anywhere - you should.

01/11/2012 - The Great Soccer Complex Conspiracy - OK, one political post. "All politics is local" and this is local politics at its best (worst).

01/27/2012 - Guardian Angel or Just Lucky? You decide.

01/29/12 - Capitalism at its best What's right in the world.

Regrettably I am not tech savvy enough to make links to allow you to go directly to the posts from here - to do that you'll have to go over to the blog archive, on the right, and click on the one you want to read. Thanks for visiting, and happy reading. Dirigonzo