Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Maybe the outrage is sorta fake

Al Diamon

I’m not saying Ross LaJeunesse is a phony. I’m open to the possibility he’s just incredibly naïve. Or kinda stupid.

Regardless of which of these descriptions turns out to be most accurate, LaJeunesse, one of several people seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Maine, still can be categorized as a representative of that most loathsome of all lifeforms: a rich tourist.

LaJeunesse made national news a couple of weeks ago with an online posting in which he said nasty stuff about his former employer, Google. But before I get to that, let’s address the tourist thing.

It’s true that LaJeunesse was born in Maine some 49 years go. He grew up in Arundel and Biddeford. Then, he went off to college, ended up in California and didn’t come back here until May of last year. During his time away, he transformed himself into one of those wealthy jerks who clog up our coast each summer – except he doesn’t have the good graces to leave when the weather gets cold. Instead, he has somehow decided his deep understanding of life among the 1 percent on the West Coast make him the ideal person to represent us in the Senate.

In 2008, after working for a variety of politicians of both parties, LaJeunesse took a job at Google. In 2012, he was promoted to the position of head of international relations. In his recent posting, he said he used his new role to advocate for the internet giant to support basic human rights in places like China. But in 2018, he “realized that the company had never intended to incorporate human rights principles into its business and product decisions. Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price” by cooperating with the Chinese government and Saudi Arabian authorities.

This was too much for a sensitive soul like LaJeunesse, so he took the corporate profits he’d earned at Google and quit.

That would be commendable (sort of) if the company had been living up to it’s “Don’t Be Evil” mantra for most of the time he worked there. Let’s do (irony alert) a Google search to see if that’s true.

Nope.

Among the abuses Google practiced during LaJeunesse’s tenure was a scam that saw the company transfer profits from one country to another to avoid paying taxes, a move Margaret Hodge, the chairwoman of the United Kingdom’s Public Accounts Committee, dubbed “calculated” and “unethical.” (Google’s chairman responded that he was “very proud” of those slick moves.)

Then there were charges of privacy violations. In 2016, ProPublica reported on the company’s newest policy saying, “Google knows about you. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.”

That’s not to mention Google’s appropriation of intellectual property, censored search results (both in China and elsewhere), restraint of trade and other monopolistic plundering, as well as racist and sexist behavior of executives toward employees.

When it comes to Google’s flaws, this is far from an exhaustive list.

To his credit, LaJeunesse says he complained to his bosses about a few of these items. But of most of them, he makes no mention in his essay. Working over a decade for a company that tolerated hate speech on its YouTube subsidiary and instituted a business plan that one critic called “surveillance capitalism” didn’t seem to disturb his moral compass enough to convince him to quit before he had amassed a fortune.

Examined in that light, his essay exposing Google’s many flaws makes him appear somewhat less heroic and more than a little hypocritical. As I mentioned above, that could lead one to conclude he’s a phony. Or naïve. Or stupid.

On the positive side, all those qualities are pretty standard in U.S. senators.

If you Google me, you’ll find my email address is aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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15 Responses »

  1. He is exactly what we don’t need, some dolt from California thinking they might implement some of those policies here. One only needs to do a quick google search to see how much harm the policies out there have been detrimental to that state. He may as well go back there to get involved in politics, Maine doesn’t need any one like him here.

  2. I agree with Awww. Maine needs a senator who has lived in this state their whole life, who knows Maine and how to represent it's people!!

  3. To "just saying",

    You say we need a senator who had lived in Maine all their lives, knows Maine and how to represent its people.....

    Well our Governor is all that so WHY doesnt she represent maines people??
    Well,, maybe she does represent CD1 (Portland).
    The rest of us,,, NOT SO MUCH.

    But it's ok, she's heading for progressive superstardom within the Democrats. She'll get promoted away! Yay!!

  4. Well, I didn't want to add "Republican" to the list, but since our Governor was mentioned, I guess I should!!

  5. Well, neither of our senators really seems to do much for Mainers but at least one of them is actually from Maine. (even though this person doesn't give a crap about Mainers). So, what we really need is some guy who is rich and now comes back to 'help' us? What he is really doing is taking advantage of what he sees as an opportunity with collins being vulnerable. What we really need is a smart, charismatic person who has more than one ethical bone and is willing to work for Maine. Pretty hard to find, but not impossible. Just tell this guy to head back to the west coast.

  6. To "just saying' Should we start impeachment proceedings against Sen. Angus King?? How many years left on his term down there? Oh.. then we go for Rep. Pingree..... and tell Gedeon to back off on her run....

  7. Do I infer some California bashing here? As a former Mainer who grew up in Windham, attended Pogo University before it became the Univ. of Southern Maine, and moved to San Francisco 40 years ago, I don't see any conflict between California values and Maine values. Like Maine, we have legal pot and we voted for Hillary Clinton. California's governor, Gavin Newsom, is a progressive who strongly supports green energy, immigrant rights, and housing for homeless people. Nancy Pelosi, the loudest voice against President Chump, is a San Franciscan. The Bay Area (including Silliness Valley) gave birth to Uber, Arbnb, the iphone, and Twitter, which have helped drag our economy into the 21st century.

    Whenever I return to Maine, which I frequently do, I am impressed by the state's forward-thinking political climate. Maine might benefit from a little California thinking. Whether or not Ross LaJeunesse is a viable candidate, I don't think his California sojourn should be held against him. Whatever his faults, even a marble statue would be an improvement over the perennial fence-sitter Susan Collins: At least a statue could do no harm.

  8. Max yes yes you do, at least from my point of view. Maine didn’t vote for that poor excuse of a person either (well not half of us) remember Maine for the first time in history split it’s electoral votes. There has been too many bad policies in California to ever think we need any of it in Maine. Our governor made us a sanctuary state without asking the constituents. The way you speak of President Trump shows exactly why we don’t need this dolt in our state. The “orange man bad” mentality doesn’t do this country a bit of good but it’s those people that claim we need to come together. Newsom and Pelosi should look at their policies and rethink what is good for the state of California before pointing fingers at the President or anyone else. You should also do some research on Sen. Collins before you state she hasn’t done anything good for her constituents. Gideons ads are false to put it nicely. She has as hard a time as Schiff telling the truth.

  9. @Max Millard..please, please stay away from Maine!

  10. Max, is it hard in San Fran to dodge all that human poop and needles in the street while your running (high on pot) from an illegal alien gang member? Keep California values in California. Better yet just secede from the union already! Calexit!

  11. Max... I glad you like California. As for calling Sen. Collins a fence sitter. I must disagree. Then it tells me a lot when you praise Nasty Pelosi, the San Francisco Treat... Bring her back as a replacement for Gavin when he is done... Also sorry for what the smog has done to you...

  12. Gavin and Pelosi really Max?
    San Francisco this year reported 8,011 homeless people, a 17 percent increase over 2017, the last time a count was conducted. ... Over the course of a full year, the city counted twice as many homeless people — 17,595 people, a 30 percent jump from the previous year.Nov 19, 2019
    Democratic politicians have destroyed California and many other cities and states.
    Let me guess you also believe in reparations?
    Maine could benefit from a little California thinking? Really?
    No thanks, we're Maxed out.

  13. glen holt: yes, please start the proceedings on both!!

  14. Ah yes, California "the symbol of what's right in the universe"..

    Think I'll be "loading up my truck and move to Beverly,,,,
    Hills that is,,, Black Gold,,,,, Movie Stars"...

    Wait,, isn't that where Hollyweird is?
    Frig dat !!
    Not,,, the easy life should be.

    Ya know folks,,, PortlandMaine might share Hollywood values,,, but not the ready of the state.

    Head North on 95 and see four yourself.

  15. Hate to bust your bubble Max but a large part of the 2nd district voted for Trump. Who knows what will happen next time except that once again California and New York will try to ignore rural America. The more politicians that try to ram city solutions down the throats of rural people the more divisive this country will become. The scary part is they already have the tools to take care of most of their problems what they lack is willpower. Like a hurricane the greed from their rapid inflationary economies suck the life out of small business in rural areas through higher wages and products that are valued way out of proportion to what we can afford. Part of the solution was dodged when instead of failing we choose bailing with large amounts of taxpayer dollars. You could probably buy your own village in some third world country for the price of a new vehicle today.We need a new breed of politician with our state and country's needs in mind and some iron in their backbone.

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