Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Of Mississippi, marijuana and musk oxen

Al Diamon

Random thoughts while dozing off on a late summer afternoon:

President Trump got into a serious spat with Denmark over his offer to buy Greenland. Apparently, the United States needs the island because it has a serious shortage of umlauts. From Maine’s perspective, there might be a better deal to be made. The U.S. should negotiate with Canada to obtain Quebec, which has better beer, better food and fewer glaciers than Greenland. Also, lots of hydropower, which we could sell to, I dunno, Denmark. In return for giving up La Belle Province, the Canadians would receive Mississippi, thereby raising the average intelligence of both countries.

Are you a Mainer worried about job security? New statistics indicate the occupation least likely to be eliminated is black-market marijuana dealer. Sure, pot is legal in Maine, and by sometime next year, we’ll have stores where weed can be purchased without fear of legal repercussions (at least at the state level). Won’t ganja-loving consumers flock to these outlets? Reports from several states indicate the answer is no. Because of high taxes, ridiculous regulations and restrictive local zoning laws, illegal dealers have continued to flourish. According to the Los Angeles Times, legitimate transactions in California in 2018 amounted to $2.5 billion. This year, the black market is doing an estimated $8.7 billion. The Boston Globe reported that in the first few months of legalization in Massachusetts, 75 percent of the market belonged to people who were, technically, criminals. Several western states have discovered that a majority of their cannabis business involves smuggling dope to places where it’s still illegal. Maine is poised to make all the same mistakes as those places, so stake your claim to our new, improved black market early. (A side note: Smoking dope is illegal in Greenland, but the island has a high – ha! – rate of per capita use, which means there are plenty of eager consumers waiting for illicit shipments.)

I’m sure “beating a dead horse” isn’t a PETA-approved phrase. I’m also sure the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center won’t object to being tagged with a politically incorrect label. If there was money to be made abusing deceased nags, the free-enterprise-loving center would be selling whips. Its latest attempt to pummel a stallion’s corpse involves an MHPC report showing that ranked-choice voting doesn’t work very well. In a nationwide survey of such elections, ranked-choice disenfranchised an average of 11 percent of voters, who didn’t support either of the top two finishers. That means the victor “wins with a fake majority 61 percent of the time.” Apparently, this rehashing of old news is a response to struggling efforts to expand ranked-choice in Portland and presidential primaries, efforts that will almost certainly succeed in the near future. Despite the MHPC’s sturdy blows, the expired steed of plurality-based voting refuses to stir. (Another side note: In Greenland, this process is known as “thawing out a frozen musk ox.” That doesn’t work, either.)

The influential Cook Political Report has shifted its forecast for Maine’s U.S. Senate race from “leans Republican” to “throw up.” Sorry, that’s actually “toss up,” a subtle difference that removes regurgitation from the equation. But it still means GOP Sen. Susan Collins’s bid for another term rests on how voters feel about partially digested politicians. (In Greenland, they have a word for that. It has umlauts in it.)

I shouldn’t eat sardines and pistachio ice cream before napping. Suggestions for settling my stomach can be emailed to

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5 Responses »

  1. Al, go back to sleep. This article sure made me want to snooze.

  2. Call me cynical, but it seems like conveying the MHPC's assessment of ranked choice voting here is an oblique way for you to join in and amplify the dead horse beating.

    For the record: Voters in an RCV election who don't provide backup choices on their ballot are not disenfranchised. They simply didn't exercise their franchise to the fullest extent. They could have indicated a preference between the top two finishers but chose not to. That's on them, not on RCV.

    It may help to consider that conventional runoff elections are often won with the votes of way less than 50% of all who cast a ballot in the first round of voting, due to lower turnout. Yet nobody calls that a "fake majority."

  3. Rank choice voting is a scam that was perpetrated on Maine voters by liberals in Southern Maine. Real simple, one man, one vote. You don't get two votes. if your first choice is lame, it likely means your guy or gal isn't that good an idea. Reassigning a vote, post tally, is about as corrupt as it gets. Claiming otherwise, with a straight face, is laughable. We have a congressional rep now that was elected by this fraud. Its easy to see he is in over his head and playing "way" out of his league. The guy might as wel be a sock puppet. This is good for the liberal do nothing congress but real bad for fixing what's wrong In DC. Maine and America deserve better.

  4. Peter, more voters indicated a preference fro Jared Golden over Bruce Poliquin than vice-versa. True or false?

  5. This weird claim that it's a "liberal" system is just wrong. It's a system officially known as "single transferable vote," meaning that one can vote for whoever one really wants without fearing that they are "wasting" a vote. Libertarians, Greens, any third party, benefits. The two big parties are potentially hurt as this could make third parties more viable. I am absolutely certain Golden would have won in the traditional system as well. It was an intense race, and if people thought voting for a a third party would hurt, they'd have chosen one of the two main candidates. This is not "corrupt," that's an idiotic claim - this is a well respected electoral system that, as a political scientist, I've taught about in "diverse electoral systems" for about 30 years. (Damn I'm old). So Peter, you're trying to turn something partisan that most definitely is NOT. This was not fraud or corruption, just voter preference. If you think Golden is that bad, well, next year you have a chance to vote someone else in. And that chance is just as real whether we use a "first past the post" system, or a "single transferable vote" system.