Archive for the ‘politics’ Tag

The Maine Labor Mural is now on display in the Maine State Museum   Leave a comment

Maine Labor Mural - Clarke Canfield, AP

Clarke Canfield, AP

Maine Labor Mural - Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal

Five years ago, in 2008, Maine artist Judy Taylor completed a 36-foot, eleven-panel mural depicting the history of labor in our state, which was then displayed in the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor in Augusta.

And there it sat until March 2011, when our blustering illustrious governor decided he didn’t like its pro-labor message and had taken from the walls of the Labor Department.

Gov. LePage received an anonymous letter signed by a “secret admirer” who sputtered in outrage at the presence of pro-union, Communist North Korean-style propaganda adorning the walls of a government building. This right-wing mouth-breather’s heartfelt plea for the state government to embrace reactionary anti-union paranoia resonated with LePage’s “Solidarity for Businesses and the People Who Own Them” agenda, and thus Dear Leader declared the mural objectum non grata in the very building it was commissioned to adorn.

It was a nasty if pathetically impotent attack on the labor movement, and it seriously pissed off quite a lot of Mainers.

Of course, it ended up backfiring completely on LePage: he made himself look like an obnoxious, bullying despot, the issue became a distraction for his administration and a rallying point for his detractors, and the mural became famous, celebrated – beloved, even – and is now prominently displayed in the Maine State Museum.

Bangor Daily News: Labor mural unveiled at new home, the Maine State Museum in Augusta

By Matthew Stone

AUGUSTA, Maine — Nearly two years after Gov. Paul LePage had a mural depicting Maine labor history removed from the lobby of the Department of Labor building, the artwork resurfaced Monday at its new home: the Maine State Museum.

Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman unveiled the Maine Labor History Mural in the atrium ofthe state Cultural Building in Augusta, which houses the museum, the Maine State Library and the Maine State Archives.

The Department of Labor has loaned the mural to the Maine State Museum for three years. Fishman, the museum’s director, said Monday that museum staff and others would work to find the artwork a permanent home during that period. The mural’s final home might be the museum, he said, but that would require some renovation.

“The murals, when they first came to public attention, were only contemporary art in a functional office,” Fishman said. “And after their removal became a public issue, they became historic in their own right. They recall and commemorate the past, but they also remind us of the power of art to stir thought and to stir feelings.”

This is a satisfying victory, and even if the  resolution is quiet and a bit undramatic, it’s a wonderful outcome. LePage failed, and the things he attacked came out stronger. It still doesn’t make up for that fact a bullying little puke is our governor, but it’s a nice offset to the damage he’s done to our state.

Maine Labor Mural

Maine Labor Mural 2

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“I like PBS, I love Big Bird…”   Leave a comment

Mitt Romney: “I’m sorry, [debate moderator and PBS news anchor] Jim [Lehrer], I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS, I love Big Bird — I actually like you too — but I am not going to keep spending money on things [we have] to borrow money from China to pay for.”

Isn’t it funny how the things Republicans love to cut, the things that make up a tiny portion of our national budget, and the things that have an enormously positive effect on our society – that lead to happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives, especially for minorities and the poor – tend to all be the same things?

Republican National Convention 2012   Leave a comment

So, the Republican National Convention in Tampa ended yesterday. Here are some highlights. Bizarre, horrifying highlights.

  • The convention was held in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, which is a publicly owned and publicly financed venue built with millions of taxpayers’ dollars. In other words, they didn’t build that.
  • Hurricane Isaac menaced and briefly shut down the convention.

    • A constitutional amendment banning abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest
    • A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage
    • No support for gay civil unions
    • Arizona-style anti-illegal immigrant laws
    • A constitutional amendment requiring a congressional super-majority to aprove any new taxes – except taxes to support wars or national emergencies
    • Public display of the Ten Commandments and prayer in public schools
    • Expansion of stand-your-ground gun laws
    • Did I mention they want to force rape victims to give birth to their rapists’ babies?
  • The keynote speaker was Clint Eastwood. He gave a rambling, incoherent speech in which he had a pretend conversation with Barack Obama while talking to an empty chair. This event was the deliciously surreal icing on the seven-layer “What the hell???” cake that was the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Politics * Politique   Leave a comment

A couple big things happened this past Sunday.

Deux grandes choses se sont produites ce dimanche passé.

First, in France, regional elections concluded.  Regional elections are held every six years, in which voters in each of the 26 régions of France elect regional councillors and presidents.  French elections in which a single official in being elected have two rounds: if no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes in the first round, a second round will be held with only the top two candidates on the ballot.  Like many countries, France has dozens of political parties rather than two major parties like the United States has.  These parties form blocs and alliances, and can be categorized into a few major groups: Left, Ecologists, Center, The Presidential Majority (Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement and its allies), and Far-Right.

D’abord, en France, les élections régionales ont conclu. Des élections régionales sont tenues tous les six ans, lesoù les électeurs dans chacune des 26 régions de la France élisent les conseillers et les présidents régionaux. Élections françaises dans lesquelles un fonctionnaire simple en étant élu ont deux séries: si aucun candidat ne reçoit une majorité absolue de voix dans le premier rond, un deuxième rond sera tenu avec seulement les deux candidats principaux sur le vote. Comme beaucoup de pays, la France a des douzaines de parties politiques plutôt que deux parties importantes comme les Etats-Unis ont. Ces parties forment des blocs et des alliances, et peuvent être classées par catégorie dans quelques groupes importants: gauche, écologistes, centre, la Majorité présidentielle (le Union pour un mouvement populaire, parti de Sarkozy, et ses alliés), et extrême droite.

The Parti socialiste did spectacularly well in this election, and they and their left-of-center allies are now in control of all but three of the 26 regions. Sarkozy’s center-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire took a severe beating, and won control of only three regions, which is evidence of voter dissatisfaction with Sarkozy’s presidency.  Unfortunately, the ultra-right Front national did moderately well in this election. It’s not the strong third party it was before 2007, but it’s still around. The National Front is a nationalist, traditionalist, anti-European Union and anti-foreign party with fascist leanings; it opposes all non-European immigration, and its leader has trivialized the Holocaust on numerous occasions.

All in all though, the Socialists kicked ass, and I’d say it was a good election, at least from the point of view of someone who knows almost nothing about French politics.

Le Parti socialiste a spectaculairement bien reussi dans cette élection, et eux et leurs alliés de centre-gauche sont maintenant dans la commande de tout sauf trois des 26 régions. L’UMP a pris un battement grave, et n’a gagné que la commande de seulement trois régions, qui est évidence de mécontentement d’électeur contre la présidence de Sarkozy. Malheureusement, le Front National, parti ultra-droit, a raisonablement reussi dans cette élection. Ce parti n’est pas assez fort qu’avant l’élection de 2007, mais il n’a pas disparu. Le FN est un parti nationaliste, traditionaliste, contre l’UE, anti-étrangère avec des penchants fascists; il s’oppose à toute l’immigration non-européenne, et son chef minimisé l’Holocauste à de nombreuses occasions.

Somme toute cependant, les Socialistes ont écrasé, et je dirais que c’était une bonne élection, au moins du point de vue de quelqu’un qui ne sait presque rien au sujet de la politique française.

Meanwhile, in the US, the House of Representatives passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obama’s healthcare reform. It passed narrowly, 219-212, without a single Republican vote and with 34 Democratic votes against it.

The bill is hardly perfect: some of the the more innovative ideas were killed in the course of compromise; it requires every American to buy health insurance or face tax penalties; and the effectiveness of certain aspects of the plan are are uncertain. All in all, however, this a seriously-needed step in the right direction. It should eventually extend coverage to 32 million individuals who are currently uninsured, increasing the number of Americans with coverage from 83 percent to, hopefully, 97 percent. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that it will reduce the national deficit by $138 billion over a decade. It includes money to close the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage over the next decade. Most importantly, it prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions.

En attendant, aux États-Unis, la Chambre des représentants a passé la réforme de la santé d’Obama. Elle a passé étroitement, 219-212, sans un seul vote Républicaine et avec 34 votes Démocrates contre elle.

Cette législation est loin d’être parfaite: certaines les des idées plus innovatrices ont été tuées au cours du compromis; elle impose à tous les Américains de se doter d’une assurance médicale ou subir les pénalités fiscales; et l’efficacité de certains aspects du plan sont sont incertaine. Somme toute, cependant, ceci un un pas dans la bonne direction vraiment nécessaire. Elle devrait par la suite donner l’assurance à 32 millions d’individus qui sont actuellement non assurés, augmentant le nombre d’Américains avec l’assurance de 83 pour cent à, si tout va bien, 97 pour cent. Le Bureau du budget du Congrès américain prévoit qu’il réduira le déficit national de 138 milliards de dollars (101 milliards d’euros) en une décennie. Il inclut l’argent pour combler l’espace dans l’assurance de médicament délivré sur ordonnance de Medicare pendant la décennie suivante. D’une manière plus importante, il empêche des compagnies d’assurance de nier l’assurance aux enfants dans des maladies de préexistence.

Given the scope and complexity of the bill, the American public’s reception has been understandably mixed. I don’t blame anyone for having doubts about this bill as a whole. What is concerning, however, is the vicious hatred which so many people have toward the whole subject of healthcare reform.

There are, of course, plenty of conservatives–as well as others of all political persuasions–who share a desire to make healthcare available and affordable for all Americans, but who feel that Obama and his allies went about it in the wrong way. Unfortunately, their voices got drowned out in the very partisan debate which surrounded the issue.

The real problem is the band of fear-mongering hooligans who have dedicated themselves to stopping any sort of progressive reform form taking place in their country. They’re the Tea Party movement, and they claim to be championing anti-establishment, right-wing populist ideals. They’re motivated by fear of the federal government, fear of creeping socialism, fear of liberalism, fear of foreigners, fear of the destruction of the American way of life, and above all, fear of Barack Obama. These are passionate nuts who have been backed into a corner by the arrival of new ideas, and who have joined to form a rabid mob which isn’t going down without a fight.

The next step for Obama and his allies will be selling this bill to a skeptical public, and the Tea Partiers have made it clear that they’re going to try to stop them at every turn. I can only hope that the people of America will have enough intelligence to judge the relative merits and flaws of this reform based on reality, rather than on what they’re told to believe by its supporters or by the wingnuts who oppose it.

Etant donné la portée et la complexité de la facture, sa réception par le public américain a été tout naturellement mélangée. Je ne blâme pas n’importe qui de avoir des doutes au sujet de cette facture dans son ensemble. Ce qui concerne, cependant, est la haine méchante ce que tant de personnes ont vers le sujet entier de la réforme de soins de santé.

Il y a, bien sûr, d’abondance des conservateurs–aussi bien que d’autres de toutes les persuasions politiques–qui partagent un désir de rendre des soins de santé disponibles et accessibles pour tous les Américains, mais qui pensent qu’Obama et ses alliés sont allée environ il de la manière fausse. Malheureusement, leurs voix se sont noyées dehors au cours de la discussion partisane même qui a entouré la question.

Le problème réel c’est la bande des voyous alarmistes qui se sont consacrés à arrêter n’importe quelle sorte de forme progressive de réforme ayant lieu dans leur pays. Ils sont le mouvement Tea Party, et ils prétendent soutenir l’anti-établissement, idéaux populistes de droite. Ils sont motivés par la crainte du gouvernement fédéral, la crainte du socialisme de rampement, la crainte du libéralisme, la crainte des étrangers, crainte de la destruction du mode de vie à l’américaine, et surtout, crainte de Barack Obama. Ce sont des idiots passionnés qui ont été soutenus dans un coin par l’arrivée de nouvelles idées, et qui se sont joints pour former une foule rabique qui se battra jusqu’au bout.  

La prochaine étape pour Obama et ses alliés c’est de vendront cette facture à un public sceptique, et le Tea Partiers ont expliqué qu’ils vont essayer de les arrêter à chaque détour. Je dois espérer que le peuple de l’Amérique aura assez d’intelligence de juger les mérites et les pailles relatifs de cette réforme basée sur la réalité, plutôt que sur ce qu’elles sont indiquées pour croire par ses défenseurs ou par les fous qui s’opposent à lui.