Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paul LePage, What A Goober!


Roland's visiting the ancestral homeland this week, Maine. He just called me and told me Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud might as well move into Blaine House now because no one in Maine wants another minute of the state being embarrassed by their accidental governor, Paul LePage. (LePage says he may not even run for reelection and seek Michaud's open House seat instead!) Rachel Maddow's report from Thursday night (above) is just stunning. I mean you think Rick Perry (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Scott Walker (R-WI), Tom Corbett (R-PA) and John Kasich (R-OH) are idiots? LePage makes them all look like geniuses by comparison. Even the New York Daily News was offended by his vulgar language on TV.
Maine’s often-brash Republican governor-- who once told the Portland branch of the NAACP to “kiss my butt,” called protesters “idiots,” referred to government managers as “corrupt” and compared the IRS to the Gestapo-- has done it again.

But this time critics say he’s gone too far.

Gov. Paul LePage used crude language Thursday to express his frustration over the state budget, targeting a Democratic opponent with a sexually vulgar phrase to describe how he believes he is taking advantage of the people.

The remarks, made to journalists from two television stations and one newspaper, were targeted at state Sen. Troy Jackson, an assistant Democratic Leader who criticized the governor’s veto announcement and call for 60-day reprieve to negotiate a new budget as a political stunt. Jackson said that the Legislature had enough votes to override the veto and that there was no need for lawmakers to negotiate with LePage.

LePage said Jackson “claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

...Sen. Seth Goodall, Democratic leader, said there should be no room for personal attacks and insults on someone’s character in Maine government.

“Language like this is offensive, no matter who says it. We expect more in our schools. We expect more at home around our kitchen table. And surely we expect more from our governor.”

Jackson said that he has not seen the video but that he has heard the governor’s comments and is not bothered by them.

“I’ve had a lot of people say nasty things about me in the past. ... That’s OK, that’s democracy,” Jackson told reporters. “But I do think it’s inappropriate the way he said it. We can be disagreeable without making nasty comments like that, and I just think it’s unfortunate that the man that is supposed to be the leader of our state makes comments like that.”
The Bangor Daily News has been keeping a tally of some of LePage's most embarrassing comments.
• June 18, 2013: Gov. Paul LePage created a stir again on Tuesday when he ordered his administration to stop speaking to the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel.

• May 29, 2013: “Next year I would like you to create a Legislature that doesn’t speak back.”-- LePage speaking to students with his second annual Governor’s Promising STEM Youth Awards, who brought robots they had built to the State House for the recognition ceremony.

• May 29, 2013: “The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out.”-- LePage commenting about censorship by Democrats, related to the television screen outside his office.

• May 23, 2013: If I have to remove myself from the toxic climate of censorship by Democrats in the State House to defend the taxpayers of Maine, then that’s what I will do.”-- LePage threatens to move his office from the State House after Democratic  leaders refused to allow him to place a television screen outside his office.

• May 19, 2013: “The people of the state of Maine are being played for patsies.”-- LePage after being denied the ability to speak to the Appropriations Committee at the conclusion of a rare Sunday meeting.

• March 1, 2013: “I don’t care if it’s my bills. I’ll veto my own bills.”-- LePage promises to veto any bill that comes across his desk until the Legislature passes his plan to repay $484 million owed to the state’s hospitals.

• Jan. 9, 2013: “ If you’ve got a job and you’re going to be intimidated, give it up and we’ll get somebody who can do the job. I am asking them for the good of the kids of the state of Maine, please go away. We don’t need you. We need some people with backbones.”-- LePage calling on the members of Maine’s charter school commission to resign, a day after the seven-member panel rejected four out of five applications for new charter schools.

• January 2013: “ You guys, you’re idiots and you’re just as bad if not worse than those other guys.”-- LePage comparing independent lawmakers to Democrats during a meeting with three independent legislators on alternate approaches to balancing the state budget.

• Nov. 9, 2012: “ If you want a good education in Maine, and I get criticized by my opponents because I’m hard on education, but if you want a good education, go to an academy. If you want a good education go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school.”-- LePage discusses school choice during an “Eggs ‘n Issues” talk at York County Community College.

• July 12, 2012: “ The Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad-- yet.”-- LePage compares the IRS to the Gestapo during an interview with Seven Days, an alternative weekly newspaper in Burlington, Vt. He later apologized for his remarks.

• April 27, 2012: “The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it’s hard.”-- LePage responds to a question about fees at a town hall forum in Newport.

• March 31, 2012: “That [criticism] is coming from a little spoiled brat from Portland. He’s very fortunate that his granddad was born ahead of him.”-- LePage on Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, when asked about Democratic calls for an investigation of the Department of Health and Human Services.

• March 15, 2012: “The press. Reading newspapers in the state of Maine is like paying somebody to tell you lies.”-- LePage to a student who asked him what he didn’t like about his job during his appearance as keynote speaker at a Career Conversations event at Waterville Junior High School.

• March 25, 2011: “ I’d laugh at them, the idiots. That’s what I would do. Come on! Get over yourselves!”-- LePage when asked what he would do if people formed a human chain to block the removal of the mural from the state Department of Labor.

• February 2011: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”-- LePage saying he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems.

• Jan. 14, 2011: “ Tell them to kiss my butt.”-- LePage to reporters in response to suggestions from NAACP members and others that his decision not to attend ceremonies honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was part of a negative pattern.

• September 2010: “As your governor, you’re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying ‘Governor LePage tells Obama to go to hell.’”-- LePage telling a crowd of fishermen that, if elected, they could expect to see him stand up to the Obama administration.
But Rachel was right not to dwell on the clownish comments and to go to what's behind LePage's increasingly bizarre behavior and why Mainers are so, so sorry they ever made it possible for him to slip into office (with 38% of the vote in a close 3-way race)-- his very controversial commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, Patricia Aho, a former corporate lobbyist for the industrial polluters she's supposed to be regulating. Predictably, she's isn't regulating; she's cheerleading... and worse. This report on Aho is what kicked off the latest set of scandals and led to LePage moving to prevent the Portland Press Herald and its two subsidiaries from covering state government. The report underscores LePage's contempt for environmental protections and his allegiance to the corporate polluters who have funded his career. In short, the report found that Aho scuttled programs and fought against laws that were opposed by many of her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate development industries. Under Aho, the DEP has:
Frozen the Kid Safe Products Act – a 2008 law to protect fetuses, babies and children from potentially damaging chemicals-- by blocking efforts to bring more chemicals under the law’s jurisdiction, chemicals produced by Aho’s former lobbying clients.

Reduced enforcement actions by 49 percent against large developers and landowners. Aho had unsuccessfully fought to weaken many of the laws at issue as the longtime lobbyist of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association.

Fought to roll back recycling programs that are strongly opposed by former clients of Aho and a still-active lobbyist, Ann Robinson, the governor’s regulatory reform adviser.

Oversaw a purge of information from the DEP’s website and a clampdown on its personnel, restricting their ability to communicate relevant information to lawmakers, the public, policy staff and one another.

...When full, it is the state's fifth largest freshwater body, nurturing a local tourist economy and providing boating and swimming opportunities for thousands of residents and others visiting Maine.

But on days like this-- when the dam owner opens the sluiceways of the Long Falls Dam to generate power farther downstream-- the lake begins to disappear, leaving behind thousands of acres of muddy and largely lifeless bottom. Docks are left high and dry and shorefront homes, camps and parks become isolated behind hundreds of yards of exposed, foul-smelling muck.

"They're killing our area up here," says Jay Wyman, a longtime selectman in Eustis, where many families moved in 1950 when the newly completed dam drowned their nearby hometowns of Flagstaff and Dead River.

People in the Eustis region fought for nearly a decade to defend their livelihoods, property values and tax base by pressuring state authorities to require the dam owner to keep the lake fuller in summer and early fall as part of its federal relicensing, which comes up for review only three or four times each century.

They'd sparred with the longtime owner, Florida Power & Light, from the hearing rooms of Augusta to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

By the summer of 2011, it looked like they would win-- until the state's top environmental official stepped in.

That's when the state commissioner of environmental protection, Patricia Aho-- who just months before had been working as a lobbyist for the law firm which represented the Florida power company-- met with Matthew Manahan, who was FPL's attorney and Aho's former colleague at Pierce Atwood, the state's largest law firm. After the meeting, Aho's department quietly did exactly what FPL hoped it would: nothing.

Despite detailed briefings from staff experts and a last-minute warning from the Attorney General's Office, the DEP quietly let the clock run out, missing a critical federal deadline to influence what happens at the dam for another quarter-century.

Her spokeswoman would later claim it had been an oversight, suggesting staff had dropped the ball when, internal documents and interviews with former staff reveal, the ball had been taken from them and handed to Pierce Atwood's client for an easy layup.

It is not an isolated incident.

A seven-month Maine Sunday Telegram investigation has found that commissioner Aho has acted against a range of consumer protection, pollution reduction and climate preparedness laws she had previously tried but failed to stop from passing the Legislature as a lobbyist for chemical, drug, oil and automobile companies. Present and former department employees say they have been pressured not to vigorously implement or enforce these laws, which were long opposed by companies represented by the commissioner's former law firm.
A model for Republican governance whenever they're able to grab power. It's why Maine is about to watch a landslide victory for Democrats across the state. The last PPP survey of Maine voters, back in January, was already boding poorly for LePage and they said he "is in danger of losing his bid for re-election."
LePage’s job approval rating is significantly underwater at -16, with 39% approving and 55% disapproving. 18% of Republicans and 54% of independents disapprove of the job that LePage is doing as governor.

“Paul LePage’s chances at reelection appear contingent on there being both a strong Democratic candidate and a strong independent candidate on the ballot next year,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “He would have very little chance in a race against just one serious opponent.”

John Baldacci is the favorite of Democratic primary voters with 28% support, followed by Chellie Pingree (21%), Mike Michaud (19%), Emily Cain (6%), Janet Mills (4%), Ethan Strimling (3%) and Jeremy Fischer (2%). Steve Woods picked up 0% support, while 16% of respondents support someone else or are undecided. Baldacci and Pingree are ahead because of their popularity among liberal Democrats.

With his +35 approval rating, Congressman Michaud would be the most competitive Democrat against LePage in a general election, primarily because of his crossover appeal to Republicans and independents. Michaud trails LePage by only 4 points (30/34) in a three-way contest, which is within the poll’s margin of error, and he beats LePage by 21 points in a two-way match-up (36/57).
Jeb Bush will be up in Maine July 2, trying to give LePage a boost. He'll be able to raise some money for sure, but a boost in popularity? Not likely. In 1992, Mainers voted for Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush came in third. Mainers also gace comfortable margins to John Kerry and Al Gore against Bush the Younger. Obama beat McCain and Romney. Recent polling shows Mainers would flock to the polls to support Hillary Clinton over Jeb Bush in 2016. But the super-wealthy, who are likely to make campaign contributions, will go to Jeb's event and contribute to LePage, even if they're holding their noses while writing the checks.

For those concerned about LePage bringing his clown show to Congress and supplanting Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann as the national laughingstocks, he's not likely to win Michaud's house seat. There are two congressional districts in the state. ME-01 is Portland and the southwest corner of the state including Kennebunkport, Brunswick and Augusta. ME-02 is the rest of the state and includes Lewiston-Auburn, Bangor, Orono, everything along the Canadian border and lots of moose. ME-01 has a PVI of D+9 and Obama beat Romney 59-38%. ME-02 is a little closer. The PVI is D+2 and Obama "only" beat Romney 53-44%. Other than in a fluke caused by an oddity in the California voting system for Gary Miller and David Valadao, no Republican has won in any district anyone that is bluer than a D+1. Michaud was reelected in November with a 16 point margin, 58-42%. In 2010, the year of the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse-- and Michaud is a Blue Dog-- he had a closer call, but still won with a 10 point margin, 55-45%. LePage will be lucky if he gets his old job back at Marden's Surplus and Salvage.

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At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

I accused LePage of LeEATING all the vaseline, but then of course no one could eat ALL the vaseline.


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