Burning bra claim refuted

Before moving to this week’s topic, I need to correct a statement I made in my last Point, Counter-Point column: Combating climate change, time to kill the cows. I was wrong when I said that it was the smoke from burning bras that caused the smog in LA and other cities. Upon further review, it was actually smoke from protestors burning American flags that was to blame. I am duly chastened and, in the future, I will endeavor to limit my writing to topics that do not involve women’s lingerie.

Speaking of flags, they are among my list of things we need to raise. Here are my top four:

1. We need to raise our flag and keep it at full staff. In the last year, it seems to me that, more often than not, Old Glory was displayed at half-staff. Most recently, our flag was lowered to honor the 13 people murdered in Virginia Beach.

As I understand it, according to the official rules of flag etiquette, there is no provision for lowering our flag because a citizen or citizens were murdered. In fact, other than the death of a president, there are darn few reasons to lower our flag.

Old Glory should fly high through thick and thin. Imagine if the troops at Fort Sumter had lowered the star-spangled banner because some of their comrades were killed during the shelling. Or the legendary memorial of the Marines on Iwo Jima showed our flag displayed at half-staff in honor of the thousands killed in the battle to capture the island!

Let’s fly that star-spangled banner at full staff and find other, more appropriate, ways to mourn victims of tragic accidents and senseless murders.

2. We need to raise the gas tax. Yup, I just said we need to raise taxes! Maine’s roads and bridges are not being properly maintained. In fact, 20% are functionally obsolete or in poor condition. In other words, they really suck!

And, again this year, the Legislature has failed to adequately fund MDOT and instead suggested the voters approve the sale of State of Maine bonds to raise the needed money. In other words: borrow money to fix our roads and bridges.

Borrowing money to do routine maintenance is bad business. Especially when it is revenue from the gas tax that is designated to fund the maintenance of roads and bridges. Unfortunately, right now, $23 million of our gas tax revenue go to pay the debt service on outstanding bonds, aka previous borrowing. And, while it is not a perfectly fair tax, it does tax vehicle owners more or less in proportion to how much they use the roads system.

Let’s raise the gas tax from 30 cents a gallon to 40 cents a gallon and stop the borrowing.

3. Our governor needs a raise. Gov. Mills makes only $70,000 a year, the lowest salary for any governor in all of the 50 states. It’s a joke and a bad one. Other than the doctors and lawyers who work for the state, Hugh Corbett, executive director of the Maine Military Authority, is the highest-paid state employee. Corbett makes $145,000. Let’s pay our next gov a bit more, say $150,000.

On the other hand, our representatives in Washington do not need a raise. If some lawmakers cannot get by on their $174,000 annual salary, plus an array of generous benefits, maybe they need to find a real job.

4. And lastly, we need to raise the temperature. Despite the dire predictions from the GWC (the Global Warming Crowd), the winter of 2018-2019 started early and lasted into May. The Dead River tech who recently serviced my boiler said they were responding to “no heat” calls in May — something that had never happened before in his 30-year career.

The facts are, for the third time in the last six years, the Bangor area recorded more degree days than the average, which means the winter was colder than normal. Please tell me how, exactly, winters that are seven months long and colder than normal are caused by global warming.

This month's Do You Know:

Here are the bios for a few of the 24 Democratic candidates for president. Can you name that person?

1. To celebrate her Cherokee ancestry, this 70-year-old senator from Massachusetts contributed four purloined recipes to a native American cookbook titled Pow Wow Chow.

OK, that was an easy one. They get harder:

2. This Sunshine State mayor is probably best known as a wide receiver for the 1993 national champion Florida State Seminoles. He now runs a construction company. He says Washington is broken and touts his scant political experience as an asset.

3. Prior to becoming mayor of the Mile-High City, this former geologist owned 15 brew pubs. At the recent California Democratic Convention, he was nearly booed off the stage for suggesting socialism is not the answer.

4. This octogenarian is a former real estate developer with a history of bankruptcies. He is running an unorthodox campaign: He says he does not want to be president! If elected, this Alaskan would be 91 years old when sworn in.

5. This Californian announced he was running for president on “The Late Show" with Stephen Colbert. Insisting we need tougher gun control, he often claims: “We love our guns more than our children.”

The answers are: Elizabeth “I’m gonna git me a beer” Warren, Wayne “the rookie” Messam, John “the capitalist” Hickenlooper, Mike “I don’t want to be president” Gravel and Eric “No guns for you” Swalwell (who just this week announced he is dropping out). If you named them all correctly, you need to turn off the TV and spend some quality time outside swatting black flies.

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport. His columns appear every other week in The Republican Journal.