Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  January 25, 2006

Unwind your undershorts. There’s got to be something more important in Maine to get your knickers knotted up about than the political convolutions currently contorting way too many pairs of skivvies.

Here are a few of the issues that aren’t worth so much as an undulation in your unmentionables:

Governor John Baldacci’s trade mission to Cuba. The Christian Civic League and a few right-wing politicians have been relentless in griping about Baldacci daring to lead a delegation of businesspeople to Fidel Castro’s domain in December. The trip netted the state $20 million in contracts for agricultural products, but, in the opinion of the local anti-Communist opposition, it undermined US foreign policy (which allows such agreements) and lent credibility to a tyrant (like being photographed with Baldacci ever helped anyone’s credibility). Oddly, the critics were silent about the governor’s trip to France last year — worth $5 million in new contracts — even though conservatives have condemned all things French ever since that country refused to back our invasion of Iraq. Nor have these keepers of the moral compass of commerce been vocal about Maine’s business dealings with Malaysia (our second-largest trade partner after Canada), even though that country jailed its most prominent opposition leader in 1998 on trumped-up charges of sodomy. And where’s the outrage about the $234 million a year we sell to Singapore (repressive one-party state), $112 million to China (free Tibet! avenge Tiananmen Square!) or the $29 million to Australia (weird football! lousy lager! horrible celebrities!).

The Baldacci administration’s deal with Venezuela for cheap heating oil. Sure, that country’s president, Hugo Chavez, is a left-wing freakazoid. But with the exception of Canada, we get almost all our imported petroleum from places where the ruling cliques make Chavez look like a statesman. Just ask any Saudi Arabian woman. Except you can’t, because they’re not allowed to speak to foreign infidels. Or vote. Think about that before you get your bloomers in a bunch boycotting Citgo.

Baldacci’s state-of-the-state address. Legislative Democrats leaped to their feet to applaud every time the governor’s lips twitched. “I promise to (mumble) for our young people” — applause — “make sure our older citizens have (bumble, stumble)” — applause and cheers — “and provide every (fumble, jumble, tumble) in the state with (rumble — possibly from the governor’s stomach)” — (standing ovation). Do you people have ants in your pants?

Legislators switching affiliations. You voted for them. You have to live with them, even if they change parties, positions, or panties. You don’t need to get your thong in a tangle over every alteration, whether philosophical or fashionable, by folks who are only going to be in office for two years before there’s another election. Also, do you really care whether the screw-ups in Augusta are being orchestrated by Republicans or Democrats?

The Portland Press Herald’s biennial campaign to convince us our legislators spend too much on out-of-state travel. According to the figures published in the newspaper’s expose, they don’t. But even if they did, it’s hardly worth all that ink to point out they’re costing us less in a year than the state Department of Health and Human Services loses track of in an average day.

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