Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Hero Among Us: The Ongoing Journey of Adam Cote

Among the primary definitions of “hero”, according to Merriam-Webster, you’ll find “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities; a person who is greatly admired”. Personally, I believe “hero” has become one of the most over-used words in the English language—more often than not being applied to this or that sports or entertainment figure. I would argue that hitting a come-from-behind grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth, or tossing a game-winning touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter do not define “heroic” actions. And while there may be a handful of truly talented actors, musicians, or artists whose work has the ability to touch or impact our lives in some fashion, would anyone argue that this would qualify them as “heroes”?
In recent years, I’ve asked myself if I’d even be able to recognize a genuine hero if I came face to face with one. In spite of a certain level of caution and cynicism on my part, I’m happy to say that the answer to that question is “yes”.
Adam Cote grew up in a working class family in Sanford, Maine. He attended Colby College and shortly after graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He served as a military policeman in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia from October, 1997 to April, 1998. That brutal conflict claimed over 100,000 lives and devastated the country. In the face of the deprivation faced particularly by the children, Adam organized a program in his platoon to provide toys and candy for local kids. He noted that while the program wasn’t life changing, “M&Ms and comic books really make their day”. He also worked at establishing scholarship opportunities for college-aged students who had the skills to study in the U.S., but lacked the funds.
After returning from Bosnia, Adam received his law degree (cum laude) from the University of Maine School of Law, and began practicing with Pierce Atwood LLP in Portland. His focus was on real estate law, as well as domestic and international energy policy—with an emphasis on renewable energy.
From March 2004 until March 2005, Adam’s unit (Maine Army Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion) was deployed to serve in Iraq. As a platoon leader, Adam led over 100 convoys and oversaw numerous reconstruction efforts—including the construction of schools and clinics. He created and spearheaded the “Adopt an Iraqi Village” program, which distributed school supplies and other items to destitute Iraqis. On December 21, 2004, Adam was in the mess hall on the U.S. base in Mosul when a suicide bomber walked in and blew himself up—killing or wounding over one hundred soldiers and civilians. Adam was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for his leadership during this attack.
Upon his return from Iraq, Adam resumed his law practice. In 2008, he joined Global Relief Technologies, serving as Senior Vice President. His responsibilities included managing, overseeing and building upon GRTs’ local, state and federal emergency management initiatives. He worked closely with the American Red Cross, the National Guard, and numerous emergency management related organizations throughout the country. Adam was at the forefront of the company’s response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2009, using satellite-linked handheld computers to gather information on amputees for Healing Hands for Haiti and Handicap International.
Adam was a Democratic candidate in Maine’s 1st congressional district 2008 race. He sought the nomination to replace the incumbent, Tom Allen, who was running for the Senate. In a field of six, Adam Cote finished a strong second to eventual winner Chellie Pingree. Soon after this foray into public service, Adam and business partners founded Thermal Energy Storage of Maine. The company sells electric thermal storage furnaces and room heaters that allow users to purchase less-expensive electricity at off-peak hours and store it for later use. Adam notes that “Maine is number one in the country for home heating oil… we’re not even close to being second. And of course we get hit every time there’s a crisis in the Middle East, every time there’s a shortage, every time there’s an executive driving up the price—we get hit the worst in Maine.” Adam is determined to do something that helps Maine become more energy independent, and his efforts were recently acknowledged by the White House when Adam was honored on November 13, 2013 as one of 12 Veterans advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security. He was acknowledged as a “Champion of Change”. Unfortunately, Adam was unable to receive this honor in person since the 133rd Engineer Battalion had deployed to Afghanistan in the fall of 2013. Adam participated in the ceremony via Skype.
When I first began blogging, it provided an outlet for the frustration I was feeling. Like many others, I was appalled at the gridlock in Washington, and found myself especially disgusted by the actions of several specific politicians. Additionally, I was mortified at having been thoroughly conned by John Edwards; an embarrassment that lingers today. I was, as the name of the blog would indicate, “Missing Mister Smith”. I didn’t expect to ever recapture the sense that we as individuals could make a difference, and I certainly didn’t expect to believe that someone running for office might actually encompass the values I had been raised with. There is much more to Adam Cote than this posting might convey, but if you get a sense of his decency, pragmatism,and work ethic, then I’ve at least accomplished something! I hope that at some point Adam will share his amazing story in greater detail; it’s very much the “American life” we used to read about. God and family willing, I'm hoping Adam will eventually decide to pursue elective office once more. Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion is scheduled to return from Afghanistan this summer. In the meantime, Captain Cote’s most recent endeavor was to organize and run a “shadow” Boston Marathon with eight other members of the battalion. “Idle” is not a word that’s found in this man’s vocabulary.
I owe Adam Cote a major debt of gratitude for restoring my faith in the potential of people, and in recognizing that there are still heroes walking amongst us. I pray that he returns, safe and sound, to his wife and five children.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is Senator Ted Cruz a Traitor?

Full Definition of  TREASON:

1)  the betrayal of a trust : treachery.

2)  the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family.

If these are accepted definitions, courtesy of Merriam-Webster, I wonder if Ted Cruz could be viewed as a traitor?
Cruz advocated for the shutdown of the government of the United States; it would seem like a fine line between overthrowing and shutting down a government. One can argue it was his goal to remove, or eliminate the government of the nation to which he owes his allegiance (not Canada in this instance).
In addition, he knowingly advocated an action he recognized would cause great financial harm to the Republic—and to its citizens. Among the many voices calling on Cruz and his cronies not to pursue this course of action was the editorial page of “The Wall Street Journal”—hardly a mainstay of liberal ideology. Yet Cruz recklessly and knowingly pursued actions that delivered a $24 billion dollar blow to our nation; certainly weakening us in the eyes of potential enemies.
Given the fact that his net worth is estimated between $204,951 (hardly plausible) to $3,526.994, Cruz certainly wouldn't feel the economic pain he’s more than willing to inflict on his fellow citizens.

Ted Cruz has clearly established his reputation as an opportunistic bully—opposing aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, taking an incredibly hypocritical stand on immigration reform (this native of Canada opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and urges construction of a massive border wall—while still failing to prove his U.S. citizenship), lobbying for the gun industry, and vilifying gay Americans. He also made the outrageous comment that Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Sec. of Defense was “celebrated by the Iranian government”. In fact, his behavior and line of questioning throughout these hearings drew widespread condemnation and fitting comparisons with Joseph McCarthy.
Even if one were able to set aside these and other “highlights” of his short reign of terror in the Senate, the question remains… has Ted Cruz engaged in treasonous acts against the United States of America?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shame on Each and Every One of Them

     Yesterday, the following Senators decided to betray the best interest and safety of the American people by filibustering the Manchin-Toomey background check measure.  They made the decision to continue lining their pockets with NRA cash rather than do the decent and honorable thing by supporting the amendment.  While polls indicate that 86-90% of Americans supported Manchin-Toomey, these brave legislators ran away from their responsibilities to their fellow citizens.  Next to each Senator’s name is the name of a victim of gun violence that took place in Newtown and Aurora.  The last seven names are victims of gun violence that occurred yesterday, as the Senate prepared to vote.  Perhaps these Senators will contact the parents or families of these victims and explain their vote?  Shame on each and every one of them.
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) –the parents of Charlotte Bacon, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) – the parents of Daniel Barden, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) – the family of Rachel Davino, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) – the parents of Olivia Engel, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) – the parents of Josephine Gay, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) – the parents of Ana Marquez-Greene, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) – the parents of Dylan Hockley, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) – the family of Dawn Hocksprung, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) – the parents of Madeleine Hsu, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) – the parents of Catherine Hubbard, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) – the parents of Chase Kowalski, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) – the parents of Jesse Lewis, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) – the parents of James Mattioli, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) – the parents of Grace McDonnell, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) – the family of Anne Marie Murphy, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) – the parents of Emilie Parker, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) – the parents of Jack Pinto, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) – the parents of Noah Pozner, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – the parents of Caroline Previdi, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – the parents of Jessica Rekos, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) – the parents of Avielle Richman, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) – the family of Lauren Rousseau, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) – the family of Mary Sherlach, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) – the family of Victoria Soto, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) – the parents of Benjamin Wheeler, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) – the parents of Allison Wyatt, victim of gun violence in Newtown, CT.  12/14/2012
  • Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) – the parents of Alexander Boik, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) – the family of Jonathan Blunk, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) – the family of Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) – the family of Gordon Cowden, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – the family of Jessica Ghawi, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – the family of John Larimer, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – the family of Matt McQuinn, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – the family of Micayla Medek, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – the parents of Veronica Moser-Sullivan, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) – the family of Alex Sullivan, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) – the family of Alex Teves, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) – the family of Rebecca Ann Wingo, victim of gun violence in Aurora, CO.  7/20/2012
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – the family of an unidentified victim of gun violence in Nixa, MO. 4/16/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) – the parents of Alfred Enu-Kwesi, victim of gun violence in Long Beach, CA.  4/16/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) – the family of Thomas G. Manuel, victim of gun violence in Genesse, MI.  4/17/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) – the family of Kyle Kelley, victim of gun violence in Brook Park, OH.  4/17/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) – the family of Herman Bryant, victim of gun violence in Orlando, FL.  4/17/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) – the family of Treyvon Jermaine Burton, victim of gun violence in Concord, N.C.  4/17/2013 the day of the Senate vote.
  • Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)—the family of Debra Shriver, victim of gun violence in Charleston, IL.  4/17/2013 the day of the Senate vote.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gun Control At Last?

By now I would imagine Ted Nugent is foaming at the mouth, yet again. Senator Rand Paul, already dreaming about nabbing the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is blustering on about potential legislation to block President Obama’s executive orders, and Texas Republican House member Steve Stockman , along with Florida House rookie Trey Radel, will likely (briefly) interrupt 2nd amendment-mandated militia training (in this instance goose-stepping briskly around the Capitol long enough to file articles of impeachment against the President. What has these paragons of stability so aroused? Good question.
President Obama has followed through on his promise to address gun violence by proposing legislation that will:
• Require criminal background checks for all gun sales
• Reinstate the assault weapons ban
• Restore a 10-round limit on ammunition magazine
• Eliminate armor-piercing bullets
• Provide mental health screening & services in schools
• Institute a federal gun trafficking statute
• Allocate funds to hire more police officers
There is absolutely no provision (unfortunately) that would “go after” any weapons and/or ammunition clips currently and lawfully owned.

In addition, the President issued 23 executive orders ranging from improving the background check system and avenues of inter-state cooperation, to providing law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
While no one can argue with any certainty whether or not these policies may have prevented the specific tragedy at Newtown, there’s no denying that it’s time to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country. It’s past time.
I believe that the measures the President has proposed/undertaken could save lives in the future, and it would be tragic if the NRA and its gun lobby allies are able to block a timely and thoughtful discussion. It’s clear they have no intention of relinquishing one hollow point bullet or automatic weapon if it means a loss of their power. In the meantime, they have chosen to demonize the President, his family, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, Senator Feinstein, Sarah Brady, and any other proponents of rational Second Amendment rights.

One is left to wish for a 24th Executive Order that would establish a (poison) rhetoric-free
zone… an island of calm, rational discussion free from the likes of Nugent, Paul, Stockman, Radel, Rick Perry,Wayne LaPierre, Kendell Kroeker, et al. Now that would be sweet.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Miseducation of Mitch McConnell (apologies to Lauryn Hill)

"Dear Mrs. McConnell; We're sending your son Mitchie home from school today due to extreme behavioral issues.  His constant demands for attention are disruptive to the learning atmosphere of the classroom, and his repeated threats that he'll hold his breath until he gets his way are causing us great concern.  In fact, we sincerely believe extensive counseling might well be in the boy's best interest..."

I'd be surprised if Sen. Mitch McConnell's mother didn't receive a batch of similar letters throughout his early academic years. Unfortunately, it appears he slipped through the educational system without corrective measures being taken.  The pinnacle of the behavior described above would be for a now allegedly "grown up" politician to maintain his primary task in office was not to represent the people who elected him, but rather to oppose and ensure the defeat of a President he personally happened to dislike.  In other words, "to hell with the welfare of the American people, I'm going to lay waste to the country so this guy won't have a chance of being re-elected."  Holding his breath, again.  Is this patriotism?  Hardly.

What causes someone like Mitch to laugh contemptuously at the President's fical cliff proposal (as presented by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner?  In all likelihood it's naked fear, and greed.  Mitch does not want to part with even one penny of his fortune.
Personal financial disclosure forms are vague, at best, so it's difficult to know precisely how much wealth Mitch has squirreled away at this point, but it is at least possible to discover (God bless the internet) that his wealth increased by 30% in 2010 alone.  In fact, McConnell's wealth grew exponentially throughout the recession.  He doubled his net worth twice between 2006-2009. Mitch's minimum net worth is estimated at $9.8 million, though general consensus places the figure around $20 million. This isn't exactly chump change. One major question remains unanswered; how did he manage to amass this personal Fort Knox, particularly during a severe recession?
Fingers tend to point toward his current father-in-law, James Chao.  McConnell's second wife (ah, these rabid family values types!) is Elaine Chao, who served as George W. Bush's Labor Secretary for eight years.  Her father James spent decades cultivating close personal and business ties with the rulers of communist China, and subsequently made a fortune flooding the U.S. with low-labor-cost Chinese goods.

Naturally, this explains McConnell's antipathy toward organized labor here at home.  Can you imagine if their heretical views on workers rights, unions, safety, and higher wages spread beyond our borders--say, to China?  This might negatively impact Mitch's wealth!
There's only one percentage figure Mitch cares about --it's not 47%, and it's not 98%.  It's the wealthiest 2% of Americans who might be asked to pay their fair share during extremely difficult times in the economic life of our country.  Mitch doesn't care about any of that, he simply refuses to part with a penny of his fortune, regardless of its origins.  It seems altogether fitting that "The Hobbitt" will be opening in theaters nation-wide within the next few weeks..it's easy to imagine McConnell as Gollum, in this case obsessed with his bank account.  "My precious" indeed. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romneys, Ryans and Bears, Oh My!

     Conventional wisdom has always dictated that a presidential candidate strives to bring a certain balance (either geographic or ideological) to the ticket in selecting a running mate. Striking an ideological balance in Mitt Romney’s case would be next to impossible, given his numerous flip flops and somersaults on virtually every major issue. How do you propose to balance anything when Mitt’s in perpetual mid-flight? Geographically, it’s a stretch to say that Wisconsin offers balance to Massachusetts—though there are certainly plenty of folks on the right who’d maintain that anything provides balance to Massachusetts.
     So, that leaves one possible explanation for Mr. Romney’s selection of Mr. Ryan: pandering to the far right. Mitt has never recovered from the trauma of arguably being the most moderate of all the Republican presidential candidates (again, it’s actually hard to tell but that seemed to be the consensus). Mitt cannot abide being unpopular, and the Tea Partiers and other lost souls of the far right said some harsh things about him. Even some of his fellow candidates for the nomination offered some tough criticism. Of course neither Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry or Ron Paul will have any significant role at the Republican National Convention later this month, and one can safely assume Rick Santorum will be speaking in anything but prime time. Summus ultio,eh Mitt?
     It’s possible Romney may have succeeded in finally solidifying his conservative base, but where does the selection of Ryan leave him with the moderates and independents who will likely decide the election’s outcome? One close look at Mr. Ryan’s track record and recent proposals and you’d have to assume these folks will be breaking for President Obama, whether they really want to or not.
     Like his new boss, Ryan will only release two years worth of his tax records. He is an ardent opponent of Romneycare, er… Obamacare. He has previously advocated for the privatization of social security and favors morphing medicare into a voucher system.  He is fiercely anti-union (pro Scott Walker), anti-choice, and pro guns. It’s his budget proposals that engender the most fear amongst the thinking public, however. In addition to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Ryan favors further massive tax breaks for billionaires and millionaires, which he theoretically intends to pay for (though in fact he won’t even come close) by increasing taxes on the middle class and implementing massive cuts to education, health care, energy and medical & scientific research. In his wildest Romneyhood dreams Mitt can’t even begin to come close to redistributing the wealth to the wealthy like this guy proposes to do. Paul Ryan may well be the answer to Donald Trump’s prayers, but he does nothing for America.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Poisonous Brotherhood of the Nugent Wackos

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried!
You can reliably count on politicians of both major parties (and their supporters) to make ludicrous comments with disturbing regularity during an election cycle, and 2012 has proved to be no exception.

Perhaps one the most disturbing statements thus far has come from Texas Republican Representative Louis Gohmert, and it had little to do with any political campaign but rather he sought to offer an explanation for the recent tragic shootings at the “Batman Dark Knight Rises” premiere in Aurora, Colorado.

According to Gohmert, the shootings were “the result of ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs”. In other words, secularism was to blame. Usually these types of off-the-wall pronouncements originate with someone like the Rev. Pat Robertson, but lately he’s been pre-occupied with sanctioning divorce in instances where one partner in a marriage is afflicted with Alzheimers. This time it’s Gohmert who’s donning the mantle of God’s spokesperson. Uh-huh.
In a similarly crazy vein (though in this case directly tied into partisan politics), Tennessee state Representative Kelly Keisling (Republican) emailed his constituents to inform them that President Obama is planning to stage a fake assassination attempt in order to stop the 2012 election from happening. Apparently this rumor has been widely circulated through conservative and conspiracy sites/blogs. Surprisingly, Keisling actually apologized saying “the message was inappropriate for distribution”. Really.

Luckily he pledges to “be more cautious regarding the information distributed from my office in the future.” Anyone laying odds?
Caution has never been a hallmark of crazy person Ted Nugent. In his most recent diatribe Nugent informs us that President Obama “represents everything bad about humanity.” Earlier this year he had referred to the President as “vile”, “evil” and “America-hating”. He added “if Barack Obama becomes the President in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” Nugent’s outbursts resulted in a U.S. Secret Service investigation. One might have hoped the experience would result in a more sober and thoughtful Ted Nugent. Not.

Perhaps the best we can do is pray for re-election and the chance that there may have been a prophetic element to his prediction!

Finally, where would any blog post on "crazy" be without the latest ramblings by everyone's favorite egomaniac Donald Trump?
Apparently the reality television personality and sometime businessperson will not be addressing the GOP delegates in Tampa, but promises an even bigger "surprise".  Perhaps it will have something to do with President Obama's birth certificate (since Trumps' pretty much a one trick pony).  Perhaps not.  In either event, wake me up when he's done... and not a minute sooner.