Paul LePage and the Emerging Face of Conservatism

Governor Paul LePage has been creating more than ripples in Maine. Controversy is not unfamiliar territory for the governor. He is a frequent explorer into shadowy political valleys marked only with the words “Here Be Monsters.”

Some of his ventures have been symbolic.

He loudly refused invitations to honor Martin Luther King on the birthday of the martyred civil rights leader.

He hosted several friendly meetings with a militant anti federal government “sovereign citizens” group.

A few years ago, he ordered that a mural honoring working people, which included such icons as the fictional World War II character Rosie the Riveter, be removed from state offices. Honoring working people was anti-business.

Maine has a serious heroin addiction problem. When discussing the issue, he cast it as a racial invasion: “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty; these types of guys.” And he made clear a major reason for outrage: “Half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is the real sad thing.”

Some moves were more substantive.

He met with officials of Maine’s Bureau of Labor, pushing to deny benefits to the unemployed. Cases should be decided in favor of those businesses who had laid off workers. He later told a cheering crowd that those workers should quit whining. “Get off the couch and get yourself a job.”

Maine regulates a common chemical found in plastics that is said to be toxic to children, banning it from products used for little kids or marketed to women who are pregnant. The governor refused to sign the law. “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.” The legislation was passed without his signature.

Most recently, he provoked headlines by vetoing legislation that could save lives of those dying of heroin overdose. Maine’s independent Senator Angus King had asked a major pharmacy chain to provide the drug at very low cost to fire departments, police, and individuals. The pharmacy agreed.

But there was a problem. Distribution of the low cost life-saving doses the pharmacy was asked to make was illegal. The law needed to be changed. This year Maine’s legislature did just that.

It was a good move. The medication prevents death by overdose for just a little while. That little while is enough in many cases to keep a victim alive until medical help arrives.

Governor LePage vetoed the law. His written statement became instantly famous. “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

The notion was almost universally condemned both as deadly and as silly on its face: That even the smallest effort to revive someone facing certain death is not worth the effort unless that small effort also provides an instant cure to the addiction itself. Live to fight another day is part of everyday language, and it seemed sensible. The governor’s veto was overridden.

Governor LePage is widely seen as an extremist, an embarrassment to the Republican Party. But that is today.

Tomorrow, well, tomorrow is less certain. There exists a hard kernel of contemporary conservative values even in his excesses.

Republicans have traditionally denied that their pro-business approach is anti-worker. Governor LePage is impatient with rhetorical tangles. His pro-business approach is overtly anti-worker. That mural honoring hard work had to be taken down because pro-worker meant anti-business.

His anti-civil rights suspicions of minorities as drug-peddling threats to white womanhood are similarly straightforward. He does not regard himself as racist, merely realistic. Remember his refusal to attend ceremonies acknowledging even Martin Luther King.

One argument that Republicans have applied to a myriad of programs has had a history as long as conservatism itself. Any action will produce an opposite result. So anything to help will hurt.

I was young when seat belts for automobiles were the raging controversy. Conservatives in those days argued that strapping in the occupants of vehicles would produce a sense of safety. That sense of safety would only encourage automotive recklessness. Seat belts would make people less safe.

The most consistent application of the same logic has been toward pretty much anything to help those in economic trouble: food, unemployment insurance, training all produce indolence.

The eternal Republican proposition is, will be, has always been, that anti-poverty programs trap recipients into a life of impoverishment. Feeding hungry children will remove any incentive desperate parents may have to continue their struggle to escape poverty.

Governor LePage merely applies the same reasoning to its inevitable conclusion. His reflexive reaction to legalizing naloxone, the drug that can save the occasional life of a drug addict, was this: “So you want me to encourage heroin? Okay.” His amplification is consistent. “Be a drug addict, and we will allow you, we’ll have everybody on the street have a little pen so if you croak we’ll inject you. That’s what they’re asking.”

His office further elaborated in a formal statement:

Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.

Republicans do not yet argue that lifeguards promote drowning. They do not maintain that outdoor fire escapes encourage parents to let kids play with matches.

But ideas that were once considered part of conservative normalcy are now regarded by today’s faithful as too liberal for serious consideration. Candidates who were once the outer fringe of right wing extremism have been primaried out of office as insufficiently conservative.

The country continues to meander cautiously leftward, accepting of differences, helping those who need help. In the Republican party, a shrinking core of true believers rushes toward what they imagine as a lost ideal of supremacy. They are forever loyal to a shimmering memory of triumphant intolerance.

For now, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage merely mans the latest outpost in the uncharted wilderness of the conservative movement. He is, for conservatives, a trail blazer, lighting the path.

The Party of Lincoln is the Republican past.
The Party of LePage is the Republican future.

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or RSS
to get episodes automatically downloaded.


Unbelievers and Their Fears of Hell

found online by Raymond

From The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser:

I am often asked if I still fear going to Hell when I die. I suspect every Evangelical-Christian-turned-atheist, has had, at one time or the other, thoughts about what happens if they are wrong. If Evangelicals are right about God, Jesus, sin, salvation, and life after death, those of us who have — with full knowledge of what the Bible says — walked or run away from Christianity will surely face the eternal flames of Hell. This is where Pascal’s Wager often comes into play. Since none of us can be absolutely certain that Christianity’s teaching are false, shouldn’t we hedge our bets and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior?

– More –

We Are Living In A Second “Robber Baron” Era

found online by Raymond

From Ted McLaughlin at jobsanger:

It is obvious that the U.S. economy continues to struggle, and has done so since the latter part of 2007. The rich (and the corporations) have fully recovered from the Bush recession, but few other Americans have. Unemployment can’t get below about 5%, leaving millions still out of work, wages are stagnant (with almost all rising productivity going to management), and the GDP remains below normal.

The Republican prescription for fixing this is to maintain (and double-down) “trickle-down” economics. Just give more money to the rich (and corporations) and everything will be OK. There are a couple of problems with that.

– More –

Made in Our Own Image: The Gospel According to Beyoncé

found online by Raymond

From Uppity Negro at The Intersection of Madness and Reality:

Ever since Destiny’s Child disbanded and Beyoncé Knowles, the lead singer for the group made a go for it as a solo artist, she’s had hit after hit after hit. We all looked up one day, and she had somehow become this artistic juggernaut who couldn’t seem to fail. She was the epitome of what it meant to be a pop star, a veritable icon. Between the debut of her single “Formation” and the performance of it at the Super Bowl two days later (and for all intents and purposes upstaging the headliner Coldplay and diminishing the still large presence of Bruno Mars) and the two months or so until her album Lemonade was released this past weekend, her star power has done nothing but intensified exponentially.

– More –

The Right Wing Rebellion Rises to New Heights!

found online by Raymond

From Green Eagle:

Long term readers of Green Eagle may know that I have made a habit of collecting a record of right wing demonstrations and rallies, in an effort to make it clear what a gigantic fraud the whole notion of a great Conservative movement in the United States really is. Well, here is another one.

Though we in the real world may have missed this, there has been a tremendous amount of attention drawn by right wingers to their latest grand act of rebellion, the “Rock Stone Mountain” rally, held today at the suburban Atlanta location of the founding of the KKK, in 1916. The rally, as you can guess from the photos below, is intended to shove the Confederate flag in the faces of decent people.

– More –

No, Matt Bevin Did NOT Restore Voting Rights

found online by Raymond

From Yellow Dog at Blue in the Bluegrass:

Governor Lying Coward did it again.

The next-to-worthless “felony expungment” bill had but one purpose: fooling the public into thinking Bevin had restored voting rights. And it worked. All of the media coverage conflate the brand-new-this-year expungment bill with the real voting rights restoration bill that advocates have been fighting to get passed for years.

– More –

Americans Understand Sanders More Than Australian Thinks

found online by Raymond

From libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives:

Peter Ross, from what I can gather from his profile,—he “deconstructs the psychology and philosophy of the business world, careers and every day life,” whatever that means”—is an “ivory tower intellectual” living in Australia. Nonetheless, he penned an op-ed to explain “the Thing so Many Americans Can’t Grasp About Bernie Sanders.

The “many Americans,” of course, are Sanders’ opponents. We just don’t understand Sanders, lectures Ross. Let’s see about that.

– More –

Feinstein-Burr: The Bill That Bans Your Browser

found online by Raymond

From Julian Sanchez of the libertarian Cato Institute:

Last week, I criticized the confused rhetorical framework that the Feinstein-Burr encryption backdoor proposal tries to impose on the ongoing Crypto Wars 2.0 debate. In this post, I want to try to explain why technical experts have so overwhelmingly and vehemently condemned the substance of the proposal.

– More –

Battle for North Carolina

found online by Raymond

From Infidel753:

A couple of weeks ago, when I read Comrade Misfit’s report that North Carolina’s Republican Governor was timidly watering down his state’s vicious anti-gay law a little in hopes of warding off the massive economic counter-attack by everyone from PayPal to Bruce Springsteen, my reaction was immediate and visceral. No compromises. Crush them. We are strong enough for that now.

Well, here’s a more significant crack in the wall.

– More –

Week In Crazy! Cruz Veeps, Trump Talks, Bernie Berns

found online by Raymond

From Max’s Dad:

If you can’t smell the sulfur coming off that photo get your smelling checked. As Bob Dole once said its evil eviler and evilest or something like that. Ted Cruz picked a running mate for his imaginary presidential campaign this week and picked an imaginary human to boot. Carly Fiorina, a woman who makes Heidi Cruz seem like a grinning morning show host, is the perfect match to Cruz’s vampire like persona. If he finally did bite her on her neck, what would come out? Vinegar?

– More –