This is an outrage

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  July 16, 2014

Under the rules of the National Association of Political Pundits, Commentators, Bloggers, and Blowhards, I’m required to devote this week’s column to expressing moral outrage over the recent revelations that Republican Governor Paul LePage had a series of meetings last year with a group of certified kooks. Otherwise, I could be brought before the NAPPCBB’s Disciplinary Committee (NAPPCBBDC) on charges of failing to foment public discontent over trivial matters.

Rather than risk losing my license to blather, I’m belatedly joining the howling pack of quasi-journalists demanding some unspecified thing be done about this affront to all that is good and just.

I’m on the record as thoroughly miffed.

In a logy, midsummer sort of way.

It’d be a lot easier to work up a good, old-fashioned, frothing-at-the-mouth rant about LePage getting cozy with a few nuts—who think the US Constitution gives them the right to serve notice on elected officials demanding their resignations for allegedly treasonous acts, after which
the loonies are legally entitled to lynch the offenders—if it was in any way important.

But it’s not.

LePage showed poor judgment in meeting with these fruitcakes. But barely a week goes by in which the governor doesn’t display poor judgment, often in regard to matters considerably more serious than humoring the twisted delusions of political fringe dwellers. Such as:

Last month’s poorly worded news release from LePage that appeared to claim Social Security and Medicare were forms of welfare.

Wasting half a million bucks on a consultant’s report on Maine’s welfare system that turned out to be plagiarized from other research the state could have accessed for free.

Getting into an unnecessary test of wills with Maine’s largest municipalities over whether the state would reimburse them for general assistance payments made to aliens seeking asylum.

The list goes on and on: his botched effort to boost funding for nursing homes, the questionable legality and effectiveness of his requirement that food stamp recipients have photos on their Electronic Benefits Transfer cards, his failure to take firm action concerning the document-shredding scandal at the Maine Center for Disease Control.

Unlike getting together for a few laughs with a congenial assortment of delusional clunkheads, LePage’s actions—or lack thereof—in each of the aforementioned incidents speaks to a more important issue, namely that the state Department of Health and Human Services is an unmanageable nightmare that his administration has proved incapable of sorting out.

Hey, I’m starting to feel something like genuine moral outrage. I hope the NAPPCBBDC will take that into account at my trial.

I’m told by reliable sources that LePage has begun to formulate a plan for dealing with the massive ineptitude at DHHS. This proposal, to be implemented in his second term, is still in its early stages, but calls for breaking the agency into more manageable parts, one each for mental health, welfare, children and families, and elders. If that’s accurate, it’s a sensible step toward improving services and saving money.

What’s puzzling is that if LePage really is prepared to make that sort of unprecedented change, why isn’t he campaigning on the issue? If he has a comprehensive blueprint for upgrading the administration and delivery of human services, it would help counteract his opponents’ claims that his only interest in welfare programs is to reduce their cost regardless of the consequences, while vilifying the poor.

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