When All Else Fails

530261_3585526400072_1544507556_nWho do you turn to when all else fails? Who has your back? Who’s got your six?

It occurs to me that I have been blogging here for a little more than three years. We have covered a lot of topics, from politics to my ongoing struggles with a mental illness. I have posted humorous things and somber things. I have posted Pro Tips for aspiring candidates and explored my hometown’s recent economic revival. I have written about solid waste and about the effects of herring on lobsters.

That’s a pretty diverse list of subject matter, don’t you think?

But it also occurs to me that there in one subject that is too often left in the shadows.

Sure, I talk about my wife on these pages, but it’s usually as a passing reference point or to highlight her battle against multiple sclerosis as a fundraising tool for the annual MS Walk in York County.

But today, for a few different reasons, I want to talk more publicly about the woman who changed my life. The woman who is my best friend and my strongest ally.

IMG_0539When I first met Laura, she was running for a seat on the Old Orchard Beach School Board. I was the editor of the local newspaper, and thus I offered my readers endorsements of candidates. I did not endorse Laura. I mistakenly thought she was running for a seat held by an accomplished incumbent.

Laura sent me an e-mail just a couple of days after my endorsements were published. She pointed out the mistake, which I did not take so well.

For whatever reasons, we continued an e-mail exchange that was almost instantly flirtatious. She did not win her election, and we had our first date a few days later  – – on a cold November afternoon that I will never forget.

I was smitten, but I was also impressed by her strength and courage. She was a single mother, raising two boys without any support from their father. She worked long hours in one of the most stressful jobs you can imagine: a social worker for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in the office of Child and Family Services.

She bought her own modest home about a year before she met me. We dated several weeks before she would let me meet her children.

She is an awesome mother who would take her young boys frog hunting in the spring. She has gone skydiving and has never met a rollercoaster she did not like. Unlike me, she is a risk taker, always ready for the next adventure.

She is spontaneous and her laugh is more like a howl that consumes her entire body. She’s not into nouveaux cuisine or the latest fashion trends. Her favorite band is whatever is playing on the radio at that time.

268334_1896380292475_1330632899_31681248_3529053_n[1]She is mischievous and endearing. She is a voracious reader who loves animals (and owns too many, in my opinion).

She is down-to-earth and wears her heart on her sleeve. There is no pretense with Laura. What you see is what you get.

She is the consummate professional and has a hard time separating her emotions from the strain of her job. She loves the kids she works with almost as much as she loves her own.

She knows a thing or two about friendships. If you become friends with Laura, it is a life-long affair. She and her best friend have known each other since their freshman year in high school.

Laura is generous to a fault. She always wants to help, to give to others, to make others smile and feel loved.

Her chocolate cheesecake is world-famous (or soon will be).

She volunteers in the community and gets involved with causes left and right. She currently serves on the City Council’s Policy Committee and served two terms on the local school board. In her first election, she got more votes than any other candidate on the ballots, including the mayor and at-large city councilors.

Laura snores and will sometimes leave wet towels on the floor; so I suppose she is not perfect.

IMG_0668But here’s what I do know: she is an amazing wife. She is my primary caregiver, a trusted confidant and someone who will fight tooth and nail on my behalf.

I often wondered why she married me. It wasn’t money. I had none. It was not for my good looks. I am bald and overweight.

I suppose it doesn’t matter why she married me. What does matter, however, is that she married me.

So, when all else fails, I have something pretty special in my corner. And for that – – I am eternally grateful.

A short video montage:

True Confessions of a Tea Party Radical

gasdenI have a confession to make. It’s kinda hard to talk about and ummm… I don’t mean to offend anyone. Ok I’ll just blurt it out !! I AM A TEA PARTY RADICAL !!. There I said it !! That felt good. I feel better. whew !
I don’t know the exact day it started. Maybe I was a young impressionable teenager.  Maybe I went down a dark alley in the bad part of my home town of Augusta Maine and met up with a ner-do-well who was passing out copies of the Constitution and Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” .  Augusta Maine is not a Conservative city by any means, but there are pockets of people who lean conservative and I must have been at the wrong place at the wrong time right? I suppose to some of you it would have been better for me to have run into a drug dealer and been handed a bag of pot or some cocaine.

Drug users sometimes have bloodshot eyes, heroin users have needle tracks on their arms.  Search their pockets and you might find needles and pills.  Search my pockets and you will sometimes find my pocket size US Constitution and maybe a few Bible verses scribbled on a post-it note and put in my wallet for a reminder of where I place my hope.  I know I know it is a desperate life on the skids.  Check my radio presets on my Satellite radio and you will find I listen to subversive scandalous people like “Insight for Living” with Chuck Swindoll,  “The Catholic guy” on the Catholic Channel.  Mark Levin. Sometimes I even start Jonesin’ for Mike Church’s radio show on my drive to the office in the morning. On any given day I can be found on I-40 coming into Nashville with my heart turned to heaven in prayer.  I know I know,  a man resorting to prayer must be a desperate disillusioned man indeed.   To some of you I must be a desperate soul confused and lost and in need of re-education. You don’t know the half of it.

What about my fellow Tea-Party people?  Wow what kind of lot are they.  Wow if you think I am bad you should meet some of these people.  They are a pervasive lot.  Some are are housewives and stay-at-home moms. (What do they know right?)

Some are farmers, dentists, waitresses and doctors.  Others are unemployed.  Some are singers and actors. I even met a man once who was a truck-driver. Can you believe that?   A truck driver !

I think my first time my wife and I went to one of these underground subversive reverse-hippie Tea-Party rallies it was in downtown Franklin Tennessee.  You should see Downtown Franklin Tennessee.  If you Google it you will find it to be a den of iniquity and thievery. Don’t let the “America’s Favorite Main Street” award fool you.  Just because it was voted the 8th best town in the USA doesn’t mean that all kinds of conservative debauchery and skullduggery doesn’t go on.  It does….

You should have seen how we acted that day of the Tea-Party rally.   Here is where I get very confessional.  Here is where I tell you what really happened.   We gathered together, probably around 2 thousand of us.  I know the papers said it was around 30 people but we filled the town square and even went down a few side streets.  Some of us had American Flags.  (A sign of Imperialistic Evil if there ever was one right??)  A few of us had homemade signs.  I carried one with a quote from Thomas Jefferson.

My wife had one that she hand wrote with a Magic Marker that said “Freedom isn’t Free”  Can you believe her audacity, flaunting her beliefs like that out in public for everyone to see?  There were a few speakers that spoke of rights and individual liberty.   One leader had the nerve to end the event in prayer.  I know you must hate me for going to such an event as this.  Did you know that there wasn’t even one joint being passed around the crowd??  You couldn’t even smell any pot.  What kind of rally is it when there is no pot ?? There wasn’t even a tent where you could go if you were having a bad acid trip.

The only music heard was when someone sang the National Anthem.  I know I went too far didn’t I with that last one?  We stood together as one.  Scandalous !!  We shared the same idea of small limited government.  Abhorrent !!  We left the Franklin Town Square neater and cleaner than it was before we got there.  Insane !!  There were baby strollers !!  With real babies in them !!  If I remember correctly I think that (this is hard to talk about)  that someone was holding a….here goes… a puppy!!  Noooooo not a puppy.

I know we Tea Party people are a misguided bunch of fools aren’t we?  We have been called fools, ignorant, racist, narrow minded bigots, closed minded, evil (yes evil), capitalist pigs, hater of poor people (someone called me that once,  I am not rich and if I was I would give a lot of it to charity anyway) let me continue…liars, cheats and thieves.

That’s ok.  Names don’t bother me that much.  As a Christian and follower of Jesus, there are a whole bunch of other names that I get called by a different bunch of people.  I can see through their venom and find a person just wanting to be loved.

I will end with this.  Here is my last confession.  It is the Tea Party Conservatives that recognize evil when they see it.  Washington DC. has too much power and you better get on your knees and thank God Almighty that there are a bunch of the nicest people you will ever meet, marching and organizing in the name of Liberty.  This is a true confession of a Tea Party Radical…..

Snow Pool

Feb. 28. 2015

Feb. 28. 2015

Tired of winter? Ready for some fun? Want to make some money?

Well, get into the Snow Pool!

Here’s how it works. You put $3 into a community pool. You then send me an e-mail with your guess about when all the snow in this snow bank will be completely gone. We must see dirt and grass with absolutely no snow.

The person (or persons) who come closest to the date will share all the money collected in the pool.

I will post frequent photo updates of the snow bank, but all entries must be received no later than March 15, 2015.

To get into the fun, click here to go to the DONATE page and click on the “Donate” icon. Make your donation of $3, and then send me an e-mail to randyseaver01@gmail.com with your best guess about the date when this snow bank will be gone for good.

I will track the responses and provide regular updates about the pool amount.

Good luck, and let’s have some fun while we wait for winter to finally take a hike. Think Spring!

(Hints: There is a crab-apple tree buried in this snow bank. The snowbank sits on the northeast corner of my yard in Biddeford, Maine)

RULES:

  • All participants must be 18 years-old or older
  • Void where prohibited
  • One guess per entry
  • Snow must be removed by natural causes (temperature, wind, etc.)

 

Biddeford Council: Old White Guys

Roger Hurtubise

Roger Hurtubise

Critics of the Republican Party often say the GOP is the party of old, white men: a diminishing demographic  in a nation with increasing diversity.

Although I am hesitant to generalize the Republican Party, I can say with confidence that the Biddeford City Council is more white than the Academy Awards or the snow that is piled six-feet high in my front yard.

Furthermore, the council is completely dominated by testosterone-driven men.

You would be hard-pressed to say that the current council truly represents a city that is one of the most diverse communities in southern Maine.

Clement Fleurent

Clement Fleurent

A couple of weeks ago, City Councilor Brad Cote abruptly resigned from the good ol’ boys club.

Thus, Mayor Alan Casavant (another old, white guy) now has a unique opportunity to help diversify the council. By mid-March, Casavant is expected to nominate a replacement for Cote.

From there, the old, white guys on the city council will vote on whether to approve or reject Casavant’s nomination.

Casavant is limited. He must pick a replacement from Ward 3, one of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods (although it has nothing on Ward One, which includes Biddeford Pool and Fortunes Rocks).

John McCurry

John McCurry

But there are plenty of qualified women residing in Ward Three. Off the top of my head, I think of Bonnie Pothier, a former mayor. That said, Casavant told me Pothier has work commitments that preclude her from serving.

Or how about Carrie Varney Pelletier, an outspoken conservative who does not hesitate to offer her views on social media?

Or maybe Valerie Pelletier, who previously served on the airport commission and like Cote had misgivings about the airport?

The point is that the current council could benefit from a woman’s perspective. Women tend to see challenges from a more global viewpoint versus the linear approach of their male counterparts.

There are many fine women in Biddeford (I know because I’m married to one).

The trick for Casavant is finding one who lives in Ward Three and wouldn’t mind spending a lot of time with a lot of old white men.

Signed me,

Another old white guy.

The “fairness” doctrine

protestLately, it seems, American culture and politics are increasingly focused on fairness and equality. We have attempted during the last decade to create several new individual “rights.” The right to healthcare, the right to faster internet speeds, income equality and a whole bunch of other rights that are intended to level the playing field.

I call these “feel good” rights because too often we ignore the fundamental fact that most of these “feel good rights” require the transfer of goods or services from one party to another, but they do make us feel better: more noble, generous and kind.

By contrast, an actual right, such as the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are universal in nature. They are endowed by our creator (whatever form that takes for you) and they are enforced by law.  Real rights are not created by government, rather merely recognized as an inherent obligation of government.

Life is not fair

In 1978, Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D. published a groundbreaking book that set the bar for so-called self-help books that would follow. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth became a bestseller published all over the globe.

I found the opening line of that book jarring in its brutal honesty. Peck’s book begins with the statement “Life is difficult.” From there, he goes into great detail talking about the four major disciplines he saw as a path from mental and spiritual illness toward mental and spiritual health.

No matter what we wish, no matter what we desire, we cannot escape the fact that Peck’s assertion is succinctly and brilliantly accurate: Life is difficult. But I would add to that.

Life is not fair.

In fact, life is only fair in fairy tales. But in reality, life is a crap shoot. There are winners and losers. Is it fair that one person is diagnosed with cancer and another is not? Is it fair that one person loses a limb and another does not? Is it fair that one person is born into royalty and another was born into poverty with alcoholic and abusive parents? Of course not.

While we all certainly make our fair share of stupid decisions that carry with them consequences, there are many other things  life throws at us that are not only difficult but patently unfair. These things are most often unavoidable and beyond our control.

It is not the appropriate role of government to make life fair. That is an impossible task that would bankrupt any nation.

But what about equality?

All things being equal

By definition, equality is another fruitless task because true equality is impossible. Unlike the concept of fairness, however, government does have an appropriate role to play in the sphere of equality.

Our Constitution declares that all men (people) are created equal under the law. Think about this for a moment. Our founding fathers knew that life was not fair and that is impossible for all men to be born equally, but under the law, every citizen is the same, regardless of their differences.

As I pointed out above, the reality of true equality is a stretch. According to my dictionary, equal (as an adjective) is defined as “being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value.”

If I weigh more than you, we are not equal. If I am taller than you, we are not equal. If you have hair, and I do not, we are not equal. You get the point.

However, when we look at equal as a noun, it is described as follows: “a person or thing considered to be the same as another in status or quality.”

Our system of laws is not perfect. OJ Simpson could still afford a better defense attorney than me. While we are both equal under the law in that we are entitled to a defense, we are certainly not equal.

By the order of natural law, true equality is virtually non-existent.

Remember the words of George Orwell in the book Animal Farm? Some animals are more equal than other animals. I know it may seem unfair, but it is true.

Tom Brady and I are never going to be true “equals.”

If we are going to have a rational discussion about fairness or equality, we must recognize that government simply cannot make something fair or equal.

What we can do, however, is treat each other as equals, despite our inherent inequality.

But no matter how many laws we create; no matter how many taxes we raise, life will always be unfair. And it will always be difficult.

 

 

 

 

 

Why I am a Republican

Republicanlogo_svgFrom time to time, my friends on the other side of the political aisle ask me why I choose to be a registered Republican.

As the 114th Congress begins to ramp up, and because the debate between “true conservatives” and “mainstream moderates’ in the Republican Party once again manifested itself during the selection of House Speaker John Boehner a few days ago, I thought this would be a good time to explain why I am a Republican.

My friends in the Democratic Party do not understand my political preference. Republicans, they say, favor corporate interest over the individual. Republicans, they say, are opposed to marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.

Because I am a moderate who supports both marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose, some of my friends (on both sides of the political aisle) wonder why I would choose to be a member of the Grand Old Party (GOP).

Before we proceed, please note that this post is entitled: Why I am a Republican, not why you should be a Republican.

It should also be noted that I do not speak for my party, and I acknowledge that my views often cause other Republicans to label me as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Maybe it’s because I am stubborn, or maybe it’s because I am a born contrarian, but I really think my allegiance to the Republican Party (although at times embarrassing) has to do with some fundamental core differences between Republicans and Democrats.

I am also emboldened by the statements and core beliefs of President Ronald Reagan that “there is room in our tent for many views.”

Generally speaking, Republicans believe that each person is responsible for his or her own place in society, while Democrats believe it is the responsibility of government to care for all individuals, even if it means giving up some individual rights.

Generally speaking, Democrats favor the centralization of power in Washington, D.C., while Republicans hold dear the 10th Amendment, which calls for limited federal authority and rights not specified in the Constitution be reserved for the states.

On these two core values, I strongly side with the GOP. While I believe some measure of federal regulation, whether it’s the FAA or even meat inspectors at the FDA, is absolutely necessary for the common good, I also believe in the virtue of a limited federal government and the decentralization of power.

In a true Democracy, the majority trumps the minority. In a Constitutional republic, the rights of the individual, even in the minority, cannot be trumped by the majority. In the United States, we adhere a to a delicate balance between these two types of government. (The latter being intended to thwart tyranny, which can include government overreach.)

The case for and against the GOP

Of course, there are times when I find myself at odds with my own party, but after reviewing the 2014 Maine GOP Party platform, it became quickly evident that I more often side with Republicans than Democrats.

For example, one tenet of the Maine GOP platform addresses immigration, saying we “Support the assimilation of legal immigrants into Maine society.”

Another: “The profits of an individual’s efforts and accumulation of private property belong to the individual.”

More:  “Implement a comprehensive energy policy that removes government obstacles and reduces the cost of energy for Maine families and businesses.”

“Welfare is a safety-net for Maine’s most vulnerable”

“Parents – not government – are most capable and responsible to make decisions in the best interest of their minor children, including medical, disciplinary and educational decision.”

There are many others, and you can read the full text here.

Although I agree with the majority of the Maine GOP’s platform, there some key places where we part ways, including language regarding abortion, the definition of marriage and calling for the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, among a few others.

The case for and against Democrats

In fairness, I also reviewed the Maine Democratic Party’s 2014 platform.  2014 MDP Platform

I found myself at odds with a majority of the tenets contained in that platform, including the nice-sounding but ill-advised “livable wage,” and increasing the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage does not, in my opinion, “lift people out of poverty” rather it simply adjusts the height of the floor and removes incentive to advance.

The Maine Democratic Party believes that health care is a “fundamental human right.’ this logic is flawed because a “right” is not something that must be provided by obligation from another person or entity. “Rights” do not come with costs, and someone has to be paid to provide healthcare, whether it’s skilled nursing, facilities or medical equipment. For more of my thoughts on this topic, go here.

Democrats also support the ill-advised concept of so-called “net neutrality,” as if the government needs to be involved in regulating the internet. For more of my thoughts on this topic, go here.

The Maine Democratic Party opposes tort reform, a giant gift to trial lawyers and a sure-fire way to drive up costs in the private sector.

The Democrats also favor increasing the number of terms that a legislator can serve. Frankly, I think eight years is plenty and we don’t need professional politicians in Augusta.

The opposing party also opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, a project I vigorously support. (Pipelines are much safer than trains; and that oil will be shipped one way or another)

The Democrats also believe that a greater portion of tax revenues should come from the income tax, calling sales taxes regressive. I believe the exact opposite.

Democrats believe it is “appropriate to impose higher taxes on sin taxes. I smoke cigarettes and drink beer. Enough said.

Among many other things, Democrats believe that government pensions should be exempt from income taxes. As the spouse of a government worker, I concede that my opposition to this is not self-serving. Then again, I think we should all strive to be a bit less “self-serving.”

Now, I do find myself in agreement with many of the Democrats core principles, but I am also wary of the feel-good language and the dangers of good intentions. Democrats support workplace safety, a strong education system, marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose.

So, in the end there are inherent strengths and weaknesses in each party.

But when I do the math, it turn out that I am a Republican, even if in name only.

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger or Mary Ann?

Gilligan's Island (US TV Series)It’s become an age-old question: Ginger or Mary Ann?

And more often than not, men between the ages of 40 and 60 do not hesitate with their response.

With the passing yesterday of Donna Douglas (Elly Mae Clampett), I once again started thinking about the television shows of my youth. And more than any other popular show of that genre (The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Beverly Hillbillies or Room 222), Gilligan’s Island has achieved iconic status in the world of pop culture and recently celebrated its 50th birthday.

Gilligan’s Island ran between 1964 and 1967 on the CBS network.

We all know the plot and the premise of Gilligan’s Island, but let’s save the critiques for later.

Mary Ann (Dawn Wells)

Mary Ann (Dawn Wells)

Of the two single women stranded on the tropical island (Mrs. Howell was taken), if you put farm girl Mary Ann Summers up against Hollywood movie starlet Ginger Grant, Mary Ann almost invariably trumps her much more curvaceous, sexpot co-star, among both men and women.

Why?

I’m not entirely sure, but I have a theory.

It’s because Mary Ann was the essence of innocence. She was nurturing (forever making coconut cream pies for her fellow islanders) She was modest, honest and just a little bit sassy.

On the other hand, Ginger was narcissistic, insecure and rather one-dimensional.

Men, more often than not, choose Mary Ann because of deeper instincts than sexual desire. Would you want Ginger to be the mother of your children? Would Ginger nurture you when you were sick with island fever? Probably not.

Men may choose Ginger for a night, but Mary Ann was a keeper.

Women choose Mary Ann, I think, because she embodies a better reality about women. Women are tired of the images of female body perfection that has been forced on them through media for generations.

But let’s not dance around the also obvious.

Mary Ann was smoking hot in her own right. Her shorts were always short and tight. She may have worn a farm girl’s checkered shirt, but even in the early 1960s, Mary Ann was not afraid to expose her midriff, tying that symbolic shirt of innocence around her waist.

That’s my theory about why Mary Ann trumps Ginger, despite the latter’s overt sex appeal.

In the end, virtue always wins, and Mary Ann managed to stay on the right side of that line for three years, and in our minds for 50 years thereafter.

I close by asking you to take a simple poll: Ginger or Mary Ann?