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Ya gotta feel for the blue-collar town of Lewiston, Maine. It's just a hop or two up the turnpike from Portland, and they've gotten hammered with three nasty arson fires (multiple culprits---two of them are 12) over the last week and a half that have destroyed 79 apartments. At last count, some 200 residents are homeless and there's fear of copycat blazes.

It'd be a perfect time for our governor to step in and accomplish a three-fer: come to the aid of those affected, buck up the spirits of the community and, in so doing, add some badly needed points to his miserable 30-something approval rating.

Just one little snag: Governor Paul LePage is a member of the party of "No!" And Tuesday, during a lightning-quick tour of the charred remains of the arson sites, he released his inner jerk by…

Maine Governor Paul LePage
Another GOP governor who
gets his jollies by not caring.
• Not meeting with any of the victims.

• Saying state agencies probably wouldn't be able to do much.

• Claiming he's not aware of a discretionary fund he could tap to help the victims, when in fact he is quite aware of---and has previously tapped---his discretionary fund containing at least a quarter of a million bucks. As state Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston told The Portland Press Herald: "This is what contingency funds are for."

• Complaining that his visit was bringing up "bad memories" of the time he spent as a homeless youth in Lewiston over 50 years ago. Worthy of empathy, sure, but…um…this isn’t about you, sir. It's about the people who got torched out of their effing homes last week.

But at least Governor LePage's visit had a happy ending. For him:
[LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett] said that on his way out of town, LePage's spirits were lifted by a stop at a favorite bakery. "It makes him smile," she said of the bakery. It's "a place that he really, really loves."
I can think of only two words for the way our governor has acted during this awful calamity in a town that's taken it on the chin: heckuva job.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, May 9, 2013

Note: Due to the sequester, the hearts, moons, stars and clovers in Lucky Charms cereal have been replaced with lint balls, knuckle hairs, cigarette butts and metal shavings. The nutrition content remains the same.  ---Captain Mills (demoted from General due to the you-know-what.)


By the Numbers:
Days 'til Star Trek: You Kids Get Offa My Planet! opens in the U.S.: 8
Days 'til the Maine Blues Festival in Naples: 36
Adults 21+ who don't expect to take all their vacation days this year: 51%
(Source: USA Today)
Average hourly wage in the U.S., up 4 cents in April: $23.87
Increase in Americans' hourly wages since 2009, taking inflation into account: $0
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Cost to replace the 103 year-old copper dome that tops the Maine State Capital building: $1.2 million
Percent less likely 6-month-old infants were to develop asthma and eczema, respectively, when their parents sucked on their pacifier before giving it to them, versus washing it off with water and/or boiling it: 88%, 63%
(Source: Swedish study published in Pediatrics)


Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Molly ivins publicity photo  --- small
When, in the future, you find yourself wondering, "Whatever happened to the Constitution?" you will want to go back and look at June 8, 2004. That was the day the attorney general of the United States---a.k.a. "the nation's top law enforcement officer"---refused to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with his department's memos concerning torture.

In order to justify torture, these memos declare that the president is bound by neither U.S. law nor international treaties. We have put ourselves on the same moral level as Saddam Hussein, the only difference being quantity. Quite literally, the president may as well wear a crown -- forget that "no man is above the law" jazz. We used to talk about "the imperial presidency" under Nixon, but this is the real thing.
---June, 2004


Puppy Pic of the Day: Think Pawsitive


CHEERS to fact-checking the "fact" "checker."  In the course of history, there have been some titanic rivalries.  Ali v. Frasier.  Adams v. Jefferson.  Tom v. Jerry.  And…Rachel v. PolitiFact.  Having already won three straight rounds, she heads for home plate after PF started parsing Martina Navratilova's 100% true claim that 29 states still have no employment protections for gay residents and deemed her claim as "half true."  Stand back…Rachel's gonna blow:

Rachel Maddow screen grab with PolitiFact background
Rachel catches PolitiFact
with its pants on fire again.
"They fact-checked a statement about state law, found it to be true, decided it didn't seem seemly or whatever to actually just call it true, so then they researched other unrelated information about how there are other kinds of things besides states like, 'Some companies decide they don't want to discriminate and doesn't that count for something?'  No!  Because that is not the statement you are fact-checking," Maddow said.

"The statement you were supposed to be fact-checking is true and until someone figures out how to sue you to retrieve the meaning of the word 'fact' from the dark and airless hole you have stuffed it into, PolitiFact, then no, it is not okay for you to just make this stuff up.  You are truly terrible."

PolitiFact then invited readers to figure out for themselves if the statement was true or not.  So, then…why do we need PolitiFact in the first place?

JEERS to the scandal that wasn't.  The House Oversight Committee's Benghazi hearings were yesterday.  As Dana Milbank put it: "They summoned a whistleblower to Capitol Hill, but instead they got a virtuoso storyteller."  (Think Progress has four myths that were debunked during the admittedly-riveting testimony.)  What cable viewers will take away from the spectacle depends on which channel you're on:

Uncle Sam with the caption
Republicans will stop at
nothing to prevent Obama
from winning a third term.
MSNBC: This has all been covered before. It's nothing but a dog and pony show---with witnesses hand-picked to promote the Republican narrative---designed to keep this story alive in the hopes of damaging the Obama presidency and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's likely 2016 run.  This is the best you could do, Issa?

CNN: This must be damaging to the president because we noticed that Fox News thinks it's damaging to the president.  So, yeah…we'll go with that.

CNBC: How does Benghazi affect your retirement portfolio?  What are the effects on mortgage-backed securities and penny stocks?  Our panel picks the winners and losers, and Rick Santelli blows another aorta on the floor of the NASDAQ…next!

Fox News: Benghazi shows that "President" Obama is the worst human being who ever walked the 6,000 year-old earth!  Someody impeach him before his radical middle-of-the-road agenda kills us all!  And now, for fairness and balance, here's an opposing view from Juan Williams: "Obama's not so bad, but we should still impeach him before he kills us all!" [Jumps out window]

Headline News: Jodi Arias verdict!  Amanda Berry comes home!  Amanda Knox retrial!  [Panel faints simultaneously]

Can we have new Solyndra hearings next, Daddy?  Can we, huh, can we can we???!!

CHEERS to remembering stuff.  Here at C&J, we like to take note when idiots make idiotic pronouncements because it's fun to dredge 'em up later---when they think we've forgotten---and rub their noses in it.  One year ago the Greene County, Virginia Republican Party published in their official newsletter what must happen if Barack Obama got re-elected:

Logo of the Greene County, Virginia Republican Party
But deep down
they're good folks.
We have before us a challenge to remove an ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized. . . . The ultimate task for the people is to remain vigilant and aware---that the government, their government is out of control, and this moment, this opportunity, must not be forsaken, must not escape us, for we shall not have any coarse[sic] but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November.
There is NO coarse---er, course---but armed revolution!  Not representation, not peaceful dissent, not a strike, no.  A gun fight with the government of the United States upon Obama's re-election is the only way to water the tree of liberty!!!  So, okay, its been nearly four months since inauguration day.  Did I miss the revolution?  Or is the Greene County, Virginia Republican party just too much of a bunch of lily-livered chickenhawks with big mouths and bullshit for brains to mount their Dodge Darts, Mad Max-style, and charge the Pentagon?  I dunno…but I sure had fun writing the question.

CHEERS to letters from the C&J mailbag. Sent via Pest Post:

Dear Cicadas,

Shut up.


The Eastern U.S.

And the way they leave their little Viagra bottles all over the yard is just rude.

JEERS to the wrong fingers on the wrong buttons.  Um…yikes:

Nuclear missile
Not a toy!
A "breakdown in overall discipline" led the Air Force to suspend 17 officers and disqualify them from controlling nuclear missiles after a poor inspection at one of the service's most important nuclear bases, military officials told NBC News on Wednesday.  […]  The 17 officers---representing almost 5 percent of the 91st Missile Wing's missile launch staff---were suspended for 60 days last month and were stripped of their authority to control and launch nuclear missiles after the "D," or "marginal," inspection in March, an inspection the Air Force publicly labeled a success.
They were also forced to write: "Nukes are not lawn darts" 100 times on the chalkboard.


Five years ago in C&J: May 9, 2008

JEERS to a United States of China, India, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.  If my lying ears aren't deceiving me, Fareed Zakaria---hawking his new book on The Daily Show---told Jon Stewart the following this week:  1) We're not #1 in anything anymore except our ability to nuke the world into a fine powder.  2) Because we're so weak and inept at everything else, foreign countries are buying America piece by piece.  3) Eventually they will own everything here except the military.  4) Relax, it's all good!!!  5) Go buy my new book, The Care and Feeding of Magic Mushrooms.

CHEERS to one less Bush in the world.  Jenna Bush---the one who admits she's still mulling over whether to vote for John McCain or Barack Obama---officially becomes Mrs. Henry Hager tomorrow in Crawford.  The president's gift to the happy couple (this is true): a massive slab of Texas limestone in the shape of a cross.  It'll occupy a very special place in the Hager home.  The attic.


And just one more…

CHEERS to the magic of patience.  That's the quality I've always associated most with Ray Harryhausen, the movies' brilliant stop-motion animator who died this week.  Moving his miniature creatures bit by bit, he brought to life some of the coolest monster badasses ever to scare the crap out of little kids.  Watch greatness, especially those skeletons in Jason and the Argonuauts:

He was 92 and a genius.  In his honor, little clay flags will be lowered to half staff one frame at a time.

Oh, and Happy Birthday and "many blessings on your camels" to music legend and card-carrying Kossack jnhobbs---aka John Hobbs---who turns [frrfrrfrrrr] today.  Everybody pay attention when we're singing Happy Birthday To You---I've got a cowbell solo in the middle of it.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?


Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Meet Bill in Portland Maine, America's hope for the future.
---Jonathan Turley


By a show of hand, do you agree with failed presidential-candidate-turned-grifter Mike Huckabee that President Obama won’t finish his second term because of a scandal?

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