♫ Happy Birthday ♫

Folks, I have been taken to task and even threatened with a big stick for missing the 69th birthday of one of my most favourite musicians, Stevie Wonder.  I’m sure you’ll never guess who it was that called me on the carpet for my perfidy and oversight, right?  😉

Today, we are all well aware that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year.  But, it wasn’t always so.  Some of my younger readers may not realize that MLK Day was only officially designated as a national holiday in 1983, only 36 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.  Jimmy Carter tried and failed to get congressional approval in 1979, and that is when Stevie Wonder took up the mantle.  He wrote, produced and sang Happy Birthday in 1981 as a tribute to Dr. King, and in an effort to stir national interest in creating a national holiday to honour him.

Stevie Wonder had a huge role in getting Martin Luther King day recognized as a national holiday in the U.S. He helped organize a rally in Washington on January 15, 1981 (King’s birthday), that was a key event in the movement. With the crowd chanting, “Martin Luther King Day, we took a holiday,” black leaders and celebrities appeared, and when Wonder spoke, he said:

“As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us. I’d like to ask all of you just for one moment, if you will, to be silent and just to think and hear in your mind the voice of our Dr. Martin Luther King.”

A highlight of the rally was Wonder’s performance of this song, and over the next few years, Wonder continued his work to raise awareness of the movement and apply political pressure to get the holiday recognized. Another rally followed the next year, and on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it took many more years before every state made it a full holiday complete with a paid day off for state workers. South Carolina was the last to do so, joining the other 49 states in 2000.

The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held the third Monday in January of each year, was held on January 20, 1986, and was commemorated with a large-scale concert, where Stevie Wonder was the headlining performer.  This song was never released as a single in the U.S., but was featured on Wonder’s album, Hotter Than July, and the song charted at #2 in the UK.  In fact, Wonder also performed this song at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.  He also performed it at Nelson Mandela Day at Radio City Music Hall on July 19, 2009.

Am I off the hook now, Ellen?  I still say you could give me some advance warning about these dates, for you know I cannot remember anything!  🙃

And now, I give you Mr. Stevie Wonder …

Happy Birthday
Stevie Wonder

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration cause we all know in our minds

That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you

And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition

Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion

And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all gods children

It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people

So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Ooh yeah

Happy Birthday…
We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people

That believe in unity
Well make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday…

Songwriters: WONDER STEVIE
Happy Birthday lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music Scandinavia AB, Black Bull Music, Fox Film Music Corporation, Agelong Music Publishing Inc., JOBETE MUSIC CO INC, BLACK BULL MUSIC INC, JOBETE MUSIC CO., INC., WB MUSIC CORP. O/B/O INC. SUMMY BIRCHARD, INC.

I Have A Dream …

Today is a federal holiday in the United States — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Parts of this are from a post I wrote two years ago, for it said what I wanted to say then, as it does now.  So, while some of this post is recycled, so to speak, I have updated it and added a few things.  In honour of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

mlk-3Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 90 years old last Tuesday, had he lived. On this day, we celebrate not only his life, but also his legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2019.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth your time.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, more than five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. Instead, the past two years have found our nation backtracking on civil and human rights in a number of areas, ranging from discriminatory travel bans against Muslims to turning a federal blind eye to intentionally racially discriminatory state voter-suppression schemes, to opposing protections for transgender people, to inhumanely separating children from families seeking to enter the country.  I think Dr. King would be appalled if he returned to visit today.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever.

Here is a bit of trivia you may not know about Dr. King …

  • King’s birth name was Michael, not Martin.
    The civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. In 1934, however, his father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his own name as well as that of his 5-year-old son.

  • King entered college at the age of 15.
    King was such a gifted student that he skipped grades nine and 12 before enrolling in 1944 at Morehouse College, the alma mater of his father and maternal grandfather. Although he was the son, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist ministers, King did not intend to follow the family vocation until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a noted theologian, convinced him otherwise. King was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology.


  • King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not his first at the Lincoln Memorial.
    Six years before his iconic oration at the March on Washington, King was among the civil rights leaders who spoke in the shadow of the Great Emancipator during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on May 17, 1957. Before a crowd estimated at between 15,000 and 30,000, King delivered his first national address on the topic of voting rights. His speech, in which he urged America to “give us the ballot,” drew strong reviews and positioned him at the forefront of the civil rights leadership.


  • King was imprisoned nearly 30 times.
    According to the King Center, the civil rights leader went to jail 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone.


  • King narrowly escaped an assassination attempt a decade before his death.
    On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.


  • King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.
    On June 30, 1974, as 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Jolly Monday will return at its regularly scheduled time next week.

♫ Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday ♫

It would be difficult to choose a single favourite musician, but if you held my feet to the fire, it would most likely be Stevie Wonder.  Just watching this man perform gives me chills, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard music by him that I did not like.  Not too long ago I did a post with one of my absolute favourites pairing Stevie Wonder with Paul McCartney in Ebony and Ivory — one that I am likely to repeat from time-to-time, for the meaning of the song should never be forgotten.

Blind since birth, Stevie Wonder was considered a child prodigy and signed with Motown at age 11.  He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, one of the most-awarded male solo artists.  He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

This song, Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday, was released in 1969.  It reached #7 on the pop singles chart and become Wonder’s ninth Top 10 single of the 1960s. The single fared even better on the UK singles chart where it reached #2 in November 1969, and at that time, it was Wonder’s biggest UK hit.

Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
Stevie Wonder

What happened to the world we knew
When we would dream and scheme
And while the time away

Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Where did it go that yester glow
When we could feel

The wheel of life turn our way
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
I had a dream so did you life
Was warm and love was true
Two kids who followed all the rules
Yester fools and now
Now it seems those yester dreams
Were just a cruel

And foolish game we used to play
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
When I recall what we had
I feel lost I feel sad with nothing but
The memory of yester love and now
Now it seems those yester dreams
Were just a cruel

And foolish game we had to play
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Sing with me
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
One more time

Songwriters: Bryan Wells / Ronald Miller / Ronald N. Miller
Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

In Honour Of A Great Man: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

 

mlk-3

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 89 years old today, had he lived. Today, we celebrate not only his birthday, but also his life and legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2018.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth it.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. A year ago we ushered in a new president, a new administration, most of whom are not fighters for equality, many of whom actually support the tenets of white supremacy. There are already signs that the U.S. is headed backward down the path from which we have come. Trump himself has made racist statements and his father was affiliated with the KKK, even being arrested as he participated in a Klan rally in 1927.  Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, is a proven racist.  And in cities all around the U.S., racial incidents are on the rise.

Martin Luther King believed that the path to his dream was a path of peaceful protest rather than violent protest, of love rather than hate, of understanding rather than aggression … not through violence.  This is why he is, and will always be, a hero.  Today, we have a president who encourages violence, who refers to white supremacists as “very fine people”, and whose rhetoric has widened the gap of divisiveness in this nation.  We need another Martin Luther King, but would anybody even listen?

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever. Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

In Honour Of A Great Man: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

 

mlk-3

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 88 years old last Sunday, had he lived. Yesterday, we celebrated not only his birthday, but also his life and legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2017.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth it.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. In a few days we will usher in a new president, a new administration, most of whom are not fighters for equality, many of whom actually support the tenets of white supremacy. There are already signs that the U.S. is headed backward down the path from which we have come. Trump himself has made racist statements and his father was affiliated with the KKK, even being arrested as he participated in a Klan rally in 1927.  Jeff Sessions who will, in all likelihood become the U.S. Attorney General is a proven racist.  And in cities all around the U.S., racial incidents are on the rise.

Consider this: The City of Biloxi, Mississippi, decided to rename Martin Luther King Day.  They decided, in fact, to combine it with a celebration for Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the man who fought to keep slavery! Biloxi renamed the “joint celebration”  Great Americans Day.  What a slap in the face to Dr. King and all those who worked with him and who have followed in his footsteps! After much hue and cry, it is said that the city is reconsidering the name change, but I think it speaks volumes that somebody thought this was a good idea to start with.

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever. Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

Another Unsavory Politician … LePage

MaineIn recent months, I have written about a number of politicians either currently or formerly in office, who defy the norms of dignity, fairness, impartiality and legality (Louis Gohmert, Sarah Palin, Dennis Hastert, to name just a few).  I once wondered what I would write about after the 2016 election ended, but I now see that the insanity extends far beyond just Trump, and it appears that I shall never run out of ‘blog fodder’. Today’s subject is none other than the Governor of Maine, one Paul LePage.

Donors to the National Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), a highly regarded environmental group, received the following letter from their governor this week:

I’m writing to make donors to Natural Resources Council of Maine aware of this organizations
true intent. While everyone supports a healthy environment, NRCM is doing it at the expense of
good-paying jobs for rural Mainers who are desperate for employment.

It is easy for out-of-state visitors, residents of wealthy coastal towns and those living in Southern
Maine to support the perceived policies of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Since this
group of donors enjoy low rates of unemployment, nice homes and neighborhoods and thriving
and successful businesses, they may be unfamiliar with the harsh crisis facing rural Maine,
especially in Northern and Downeast [sic] Maine.

The job-crushing, anti-business policies of NRCM are preventing rural Mainers from getting the
kind of jobs they need to raise themselves out of poverty.

NRCM is the chief supporter of the preservationist movement that is holding Maine back. The
organization has blocked reasonable mining regulations that would provide high-paying jobs to
rural families in Northern Maine; promoted unilateral executive action to establish a national
monument — even though several local communities have voted strongly against it — that would eliminate hunting and timber harvesting from thousands of acres; and has proudly blocked any significant hydroelectricity development over the last 40 years. These policy decisions have
contributed to the decline of the manufacturing base that has been an anchor for rural Maine and has employed generations of. sportsmen and women.

Maine has traditionally balanced the stewardship of our environment, while also ensuring that
our population has economic opportunity. This balance is vital to providing opportunities for
prosperity to rural Mainers. If we support economic development at the expense of the
environment, we will have a natural disaster. If we support the environment over economic
development, we will continue to have severe poverty.

NRCM is not interested in a balance. It is an activist group that says “no” to every opportunity to
allow Mainers to prosper, and it is working to make rural Maine a national park virtually devoid
of human activity or meaningful employment. I would request that you carefully review
policy positions before donating to them in the future.

You may not realize that your financial support of NRCM pays for a lavish office building that is
just a block from the State House — a short walk for its highly paid lobbyists to push their anti-
business agenda on legislators — while residents in places like Calais or Millinocket or Mars Hill
cannot afford even modest, middle-income homes. NRCM recently spent your money to rent
buses and transport activists from Southern Maine to a meeting in Orono to push for a national
monument in the Katahdin region, something the Legislature and town after town in rural Maine
have voted to oppose.

Folks in rural Maine have neither the time nor the resources to attend these meetings or travel to
the State House and lobby for the good jobs they need. NRCM should not be leading the charge
to deny life-changing economic opportunity to poverty-stricken people in rural Maine.

I understand and appreciate your desire to support Maine’s environment and precious natural
resources. However, please understand that your financial support of NRCM is costing rural
Mainers good jobs and keeping them mired in poverty. I urge you to ask NRCM to take a
balanced approach that both protects our environment and provides prosperity for the people
who live in it. I firmly believe human life is the greatest asset on this planet.

Sincerely,

Paul R. LePage
Governor

There are at least three things very wrong with this letter.  The first is that the names and addresses of donors should never have been used in this way, in fact, should never have been obtained by the governor’s office, let alone used in this way.  The governor’s office claims they obtained the names and addresses from the organization’s public documents, but the public reports actually contain only names, not addresses.  The second thing wrong is that throughout the letter, LePage bemoans the unemployment rate in Maine, but on researching this, I find that the rate of unemployment in Maine is 4.7%, precisely the same as the national average.  Third, Maine has a significant tourism economy that is largely driven by its natural beauty, clean air, fresh water, and uninhabited spaces. As such, it is imperative that Maine preserve its environment, which is precisely what NRCM is doing.

My research shows that NRCM, established in 1959, has been recognized and awarded dozens of times for its work on behalf of a wide variety of environmental issues.  They have a staff of only 24, with 16,000 plus supporters and volunteers.  Among their awards are the EPA’s Climate Award and the United States Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award.  Does this sound like the evil organization portrayed by Governor LePage?

This is not the first time LePage has been at the heart of controversy:

  • In 2011, he was criticized for refusing to attend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events or to even meet with leaders of the NAACP. In response to the criticism, he replied, on camera, that they could “kiss my butt”.  Perhaps not criminal, but surely not smart, either.
  • One of his first moves as governor in 2011 was to ‘roll back’ certain existing environmental laws, claiming that there “hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem”. He defended the restoration of BPA in bottles by saying, with a smirk, that the worst that could happen was that “some women may have little beards.”
  • For months he refused to allow his commissioners to testify before legislative committees and ordered state employees not to speak to the state’s largest newspaper chain.
  • His advice to students in the State of Maine? “If you want a good education, go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school.”
  • He has likened the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Gestapo and, when criticized for the remark, claimed the agency’s enforcement of Obamacare would cause a slaughter comparable to the Holocaust.
  • He told schoolchildren that Maine’s newspapers are full of lies and joked about bombing the largest of them, the Portland Press Herald.
  • LePage said he would like to lower the legal working age from 16 to 12

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And the list goes on, but you get the idea.  I wonder if he was, perhaps, a graduate of “Trump University”?  Recently he made the comment that “guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty bring heroin to Maine and half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.”  Does this remind you of a certain someone and his comments about immigrants from Mexico?

The good news is that this letter and his rant against NRCM has renewed support for the environmental group and many have said they plan to send additional donations. LePage’s current term will end in 2019, and he has expressed an interest in running for a senate seat in 2018.  Given his latest antics, it seems unlikely that he could win a race for senate or even for re-election as governor.  But then, who knows?  The voters sometimes seem to forget quickly.  Not surprisingly, by the way, he endorsed Donnie Trump in February.  Two peas in a pod?