Friday, November 27, 2009

a glimmer of hope....

Who amongst us can deny, that our government officials at both the State and National level, are out of touch with the people? Can anyone with honesty look to Augusta and Washington and say that they are doing a good job? I think not my friends. Not only have the politicians forgotten what it is like to earn one’s daily bread, but so too have they betrayed the very trust of those who elected them to office in the first place. What am I talking about? Strangely enough I’m speaking of hope, in my own convoluted way.

This past week governor Baldacci announced a sixty three million dollar budget shortfall. The vast sum, which boggles my mind, must be “made up” through departmental budget cuts alone. According to Gov Baldacci no new taxes or fees will be imposed on the people of this good state. As much as I would like to applaud the governor for his fine rhetoric, I’m afraid my hands sit idle.

The reality of the situation is this; the legislature will resume session in January and as they look to cut budgets, department heads from DHHS, and DOT, will protest loudly. Those departments will at first say “we are already cut to the bone”, a most favored line of government agencies when asked to make cuts. Secondly, if the legislature and the governor insist, the bureaucrats will come back with a list of cuts to the most dramatic and oft times crucial programs within their budgets. This we saw a few years ago when DHHS bused homeless veterans, mentally disabled persons and elderly pensioners up to the state house to display the impact of the legislature’s demands.

This type of display has a great effect on the legislature especially during election years, which by the way 2010 is. No Representative or Senator in his/her right mind would openly deny services to homeless veterans or the elderly, not if they wanted to be re-elected for another term. If there was a legislator who did happen to point out how viciously false the display is and how utterly disingenuous the reasoning, that legislator’s next opponent would be a fool not to take advantage of it. I can see the campaign slogan now, “Senator so and so hates veterans.”

So to perpetuate their hard won seats, those representatives in Augusta who seek reelection in 2010 will waver and wane in the face of such protests. They will place self interest over what little interest they are supposed to have in their constituencies and state as a whole. Intellectual honesty will be ignored for the sake of their positions. In the case of the missing $63,000,000 from the budget, that means the revenue will have to come from another source won’t it?

This type of politicking is not exclusive to Maine but to the Federal system as well. Chellie Pingree, Maine’s 1st district representative, has all but admitted that most of her time is spent fundraising for her next election bid, which leaves her not much time to do the work of legislating. This must explain why she has chosen to be naught but a cheerleader, shouting on the sidelines, on the healthcare reform debates. For how could she have the time to read all 2000 pages of that bill before voting for it if she is spending all her time on the phone and at fundraisers asking for money?

Dire times indeed.

However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon, for the people of Maine, as I know of no less than three persons, who are of honest, strong, character who are looking at serving in our government. Ellie Espling has declared she is running for district 105 out of New Gloucester, Gary Foster plans to run for the District 109 seat out of Gray that is being termed out by Sue Austin, and last but not least Dean Scontras has created an exploratory committee to examine the possibility of running for the 1st district for US Congress. Each and every one of these people understand that to serve in government is to serve the voters. That they are the stewards of the seat not the owners, and that intellectual honesty, though not politically expedient, has great value. Perhaps, with luck more good people will come forward and we the people may have the chance to take back what was once ours. I have hope, as this is going to be an interesting year indeed.

Allen Butler

*This article was written for and printed in Lakes Region Weekly newspaper*

Monday, November 23, 2009

Americans want to cut back government spending to sustainable levels | Portland Press Herald

Americans want to cut back government spending to sustainable levels | Portland Press Herald

The above article by Dean Scontras is well worth a long hard look. For in it he explains fully the implications of our current and former governments failure to act responsibly. I cannot help but applaud Mr. Scontras' grasp of the problems facing our troubled nation.

I won't even complain that through this article he managed to undermine my Column piece for the Lakes Region Weekly that is due out this Friday.

Take a warning from the words of Mr. Scontras, for in this he is most definitely on the mark.

Allen Butler

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Health Care in the Constitution

No Health Care in the Constitution

The above is an important and well written piece on the legality or better yet the illegality of the current Health Care Reform proposals. Would that I wrote it myself perhaps, if I had the money to retire I could have had the time. In any event it is worth the read, for it shows quite clearly that Congress and the Administration are in violation of the Constitution of the United States.

As these elected officials are bound by oath to uphold said document they are by this act, breaking their oath, which is grounds for dismissal from office.

Given the obvious complete disregard for the basis for our government coupled with the lack of understanding of "Limited Government" we are faced with no recourse in this matter. The Supreme Court will not easily dismiss the take over of such a large part of our economy as the faulty argument of "General Welfare" was used by FDR in setting up Social Security. The reasoning goes: If the Health Care reform package is proved unconstitutional through it's use of the general welfare clause then so too would the whole Social Security program.

Sad but true, and that will leave the court with quite a sticky situation indeed! One in which they will have neither the grit or fortitude to step out of.

Essentially what I'm saying is that if we are saddled with this law, the courts will lie down and die before it out of fear of the consequences of following the actual law. For those consequences are far too great. A challenge on Social Security would threaten the lives and livelihood of far too many people in this nation, no matter that those entitlements were given illegally in the first place.

Allen Butler

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Election Day

I’m not usually surprised by the outcome of elections, but this past run at the polls really stumped me. Two items in both Windham and Gray respectfully threw me curveballs and I “whiffed” at bat. I did manage to call all the other referendum questions correctly however. Under normal circumstances, by November 2nd, I can pick who is going to win a seat, large or small, or what issues and referendums will pass or fail. This is not due to some supernatural power that propels me to heights of consciousness and understanding unknown to mere mortals. No, I base my choices on mundane observations and history.

For example: Mainers love to approve bonds, one cannot doubt this fact, for the evidence of it lies in every election since 1995. Each time we go to vote on town or state issues sure enough, there will be a finely worded bond package nestled within the ballot. Its old news to be sure. Everyone knows that any bond proposal for roads, bridges, water quality, or just about anything else will pass here in Maine; after all don’t bonds come with matching funds? What could be finer than a bit of “free money” as those funds are commonly called? So bond packages are pretty much an easy guess when it comes time to decide. They get a hearty “thumbs up”, or at least they used to.

Even though the 71 million dollar state transportation bond was given the voter’s blessing, the Clark Farm bond proposal was turned down in Windham. The one and a half million dollar proposal was rejected by the voters 3,515 to 3,164. It was a close one but a huge surprise to me. I thought for sure it was a lock because when it comes to borrowing money most towns and definitely the state just can’t say no. Stunned does not begin to express my reaction, but happily so, for it seems the voters of Windham understand that their community cannot afford to incur that kind of debt at this time. I wonder if perhaps this decision is some kind of indicator which shows that fiscal responsibility in government is becoming a real voter concern. I can only hope it is, and I applaud the fine people of Windham for exercising prudence and foresight on this issue. I’ll happily take the loss on this pick.

The other ballot question I missed on was the proposal to eliminate the annual Gray town meeting. This one really threw me for a loop as I thought for sure this bit of nonsense would have been rejected out of hand. Yet in a landslide decision of 2,633 in favor to 809 opposed, the people of Gray eliminated this very old and very important part of their government.

I am sure that many were confused by the wording of proposal itself, which was in essence nothing more than a part of the town charter with lines crossed out. I personally had to read it twice to be sure my vote was cast (against) correctly and I had known ahead of time what I was going to do! However confusion alone cannot explain the overwhelming numbers in favor of eliminating open and accountable government. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding of the importance of the institution itself that caused so many to call for its demise? Maybe if we couple this ignorance with the apparent apathy of the citizenry we might begin to scratch the surface of why this came to pass.

Regardless, what happened in Gray this past November 3rd, is shameful.
The loss of town meeting means less accountability not more, as some would say. It means the Town Council can no longer be “compelled” to amend the budget at the request of the people, it means they can accept or reject at whim any suggestions one might put forth. And I ask where are we the people to go and act the part of supplicant, rather than legislator?

To the budget workshops where we will be welcomed, I am sure, with open arms and hearts, all voices will be given fair hearing, well maybe, if that voice exceeds not three minutes. Oh wait! I’m talking about Town council meetings there sorry, separate discussion.

I missed hard on the issue of town meeting, by misjudging my neighbors and fellow citizens. Don’t worry though, I’ll not fall prey to such foolishness again.

Allen Butler

* This article was written for and published in the Lakes Region Weekly newspaper*

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honor, Duty, Country.

Two months ago at a breakfast meeting someone I admire very much looked me dead in the eye and said “You are unique because you are so patriotic, yet have never served in the military.” I was a bit taken aback by this statement as I felt that my love and concern for our country was not something remarkable. I’m no different from the next fellow down the road, or next door or even in my family, for I believe there are few amongst those people who can say they love not this nation. Yet, here was my friend Jack, a proud Navy veteran casually expressing surprise. I dismissed his statement with a weak joke and a change of topic, but something has been gnawing at the back of my brain since and I feel that today, being Veterans Day, it would be appropriate to flush it all out. For it is through the Veterans of my family that this ardor came to be.

Honor, Duty, Country.

My uncle, Master Sergeant Frank Butler, was a combat Veteran who fought through three tours of duty in Vietnam including the Tet offensive of 1968. He went to war because his country asked him to, and to be blunt because it was the right thing to do. Frank watched as his friends and comrades were torn to shreds in ambushes and on patrol. He experienced the hardship, sacrifice and pain of warfare first hand, privations he would hint at, only rarely, when drunk.

While he slogged through the Jungle his friends and family back home continued on with their peaceful every day lives. They had jobs, built families, and got married all while Sergeant Butler was half a world away fighting for his life and the lives of his comrades. He was married too, not out of love, but necessity. He was wed to his 12 gauge pump action shotgun, which he explained was the finest bush fighting weapon ever devised. His job was to “Demoralize, murder, and maim” the enemy into submission, which he did without fail every single day.

When he returned in the summer of 1971, the world he had left was changed considerably. There were no parades, which I don’t think he would have marched in anyway, or general support for the troopers coming home. The only attention you were likely to receive from the media would be if you were unlucky enough to be in a body bag. Outside of that, no one seemed to notice or care, except loved ones and family. After three years of fighting, Frank was just happy to be at home where no one was trying to kill him.

I know the pain of those years wore heavily on Uncle Frank, I could see it in his eyes every now and again. Darkness would shadow his piercing gaze and a sense of melancholy would overtake him, these spells lasted not long, perhaps five to fifteen seconds or so, but they were frightening all the same. Once he caught me staring and noticed my concern. “Don’t worry Allen, it’s nothing.” He said and then he cracked a crude joke to make us laugh.

Frank instilled in me a respect for the military and its purpose. He taught me that it is the trooper, airman, and sailor that secure the freedoms and security of our land. Without whom we very well may be subject to the barbarities of warfare here in our very homes. He hated communism and socialism with a personal passion as he had witnessed what those systems could bring about, which was explained to me in some detail.

Sergeant Frank Butler was a great man, and I am proud to say I knew him. He went to serve his country because he knew it was the honorable thing to do. He understood that to maintain freedom, and liberty, one sometimes has to fight, and it was his duty to answer the call of his country. This was and is a very important lesson to learn especially at a young age, a lesson I have carried with me my entire life.
From the toils of my forebears I have received the gifts of liberty and opportunity, for generations my family has fought in the wars of this nation, without complaint, from the American Civil war to Vietnam, they answered the call of duty and gave their all. Frank was but one man of many who share my blood, and it is my duty, and my honor to remember them all with gratitude.

From such comes my ardor and love of this country it was passed to me by a hand strong and a heart true. Look to those of your family today and thank those who are either serving or have served, for they are examples of what is good and right.


Allen Butler

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day!

Election Day, has to be one of my all time favorite days of the year. For me it even trumps holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July. It is on this day that we the people of this nation give voice to our thoughts and cast votes. Whether that ballot be for a referendum, initiative or a candidate, we come out by the millions to participate in this grand experiment.

Not many of my friends and family can say with such enthusiasm that Election Day is of such status. For most, it is but a chore, one to be endured rather than embraced. They cite the long lines at the polls, the traffic, or the seemingly endless list of confusing questions on the ballot itself. Many are even apathetic to the whole process itself and they simply refuse to participate in any measure.

How oh so wrong they are!!!!

This day is a manifestation of two hundred plus years of blood, sacrifice, toil, and generosity. Each and every person who goes forth today does so beneath the watchful gaze of generations past, who gave their all so that this Republic could continue on. As I look towards the booth, prior to entrance, I always take note of the fact that it is not I nor my wife nor my neighbor who has made this possible. It is through the labor of millions who went before us that affords us this opportunity, for which I give revered thanks.

I cannot express how deeply filled with pride I become when I see my fellow citizens lined up at the polls. Chattering away, catching up with one another as they wait their turn. Some discuss the issues others their families, and others stand silently still contemplating their upcoming decisions. These persons from all walks of life are testament to the greatness of this fine nation. They may not know it, but the small sacrifice in time and community spirit they give over freely breathes fresh life into my lungs as I watch them. Life much needed after all the screaming, heated debates on issues large and small.

I need not presents to feel joy, nor feasts nor firework displays. No parade could instill the emotion of happiness I enjoy upon seeing a family bring their wee child to the polls. Through example they pass along the gifts bestowed unto us all, and teach the importance of civic duty. It is a fine moment indeed when I hear a child ask questions about the process at hand.

Today is a day that I hold dear to my heart, for I know what sacrifice has gone before to allow me this freedom. And tonight as I go and do my duty, and express my views on the issues at hand, I hold in my breast a feeling of gratitude. Put aside the angst of rhetoric and hateful speech, let the facts come to the fore and give power to your thoughts, perform your civic duty and be proud, for today, above all others is ours.

Allen Butler