I really should be sticking to my favored subjects, pretty houses, pretty gardens, pretty rooms, but smoke is coming out my ears, and an excellent editorial in today's Times (click HERE) is fanning the flames.  Not incidentally, I accompanied my friend Sidekick to a children's Cake Party at the local library today.  If my tone gets a bit strident, it is not only because I feel passionately about what I'm about to reveal, but I may be on a bit of a sugar high, having consumed pieces of a number of cakes named for children's books, including a Harold and the Purple Crayon Cake (blueberries), and of course, Madelines...

Maine has always--mostly always--been a sensible state politically.  It really never mattered much if the legislature or Governor were Republican or Democrat---there was always enough common sense to keep things level, and enough common cause to effect compromise.   In the last few months madness has overtaken us.   A man who could not possibly have been elected Governor at any other time in our history caught a wave, and rode in to victory thanks to a split in the majority vote created by an Independent and a Democratic candidate, neither of whom were able to separately gather enough of the much larger moderate vote  to win, leaving  this guy in charge.  There's no nice way to put it:  The man is a mean spirited buffoon.  Four years ago he couldn't even have gotten the nomination, and yet, here he is, and his performance to date is jaw dropping and hair-raising---Rodney Dangerfield goes to the State House, without the funny.

Panels from the offending mural, painted by Judy Taylor, depicting scenes from Maine's labor history.
 His stance is pro-business, with which in theory one has no argument.  Maine is a poor state, jobs are scarce and low paying.  Labor Unions are among the Governor's bogeymen.  I have no oar in that argument, but his method is bizarre in the extreme. Formerly the president of Marden's Surplus and Salvage, a store as iconic as L.L. Bean (and where almost all Mainer's shop for bargains), he is used to running his show---unpleasantly. Most recently, he decreed that a 2008 mural depicting the history of the Labor movement in Maine be removed from the Maine Department of Labor headquarters (that's right, Labor), because it is offensive to a pro-business environment.  This opinion comes, apparently, from letters from several business leaders, and one anonymous fax, which stated that the mural was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.”  Truly.  I cannot make this stuff up.  Not satisfied with this edict, it was followed up with the announcement that the conference rooms at the Department of Labor, currently named for labor heroes including Maine's own Frances Perkins of Newcastle, who was Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt.  Frances Perkins' home in Newcastle is now a museum and research center (click HERE).  One presumes the Governor will try to make certain that no state funds go to its support, if he doesn't try to get it shut down completely.  Odd, isn't it, that those who most fear socialism or communism are often those with the most totalitarian slants themselves...

Oh, and did I mention the Governor's announcement came on the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?  Irony, sweet irony.

Frances Perkins stands behind President Roosevelt as he signs the Labor Relations Act
Although undeniably liberal by inclination, I respect the right of others to be conservative, even see it as part of the necessary order of checks and balances---but I do not extend this respect to willful, proud, and mean stupidity manifesting itself in half baked concepts of conservatism.

In other news from Maine, there is also a movement afoot in the  state legislature to make the Whoopie Pie the official Maine Treat (for more on that, click HERE).  To help publicize this initiative, a 1,000 pound (actually 1,067 pound) whoopie pie was baked.  Having served its purpose, It will now be cut up and sent to our troops overseas.  This campaign going forth while the Governor's budget proposes cutting medicare subsidies for the poorest elderly, and Olympia Snowe, putting pressure from the tea party (I refuse to capitalize it) ahead of the interests of her constituency, has voted for a cut in Home heating subsidies for the poor.  I invite anyone who indulges in the rhetoric of  how the poor are milking the system to come to Maine in February and see the house trailers and shacks in the back country, so they can see first hand how effectively these people are milking the system for their lives of luxury.  People who think like that should be ashamed, very ashamed.  As ashamed, in fact, as I am of our embarrassing governor, who also recently told the NAACP that they could 'kiss my butt' when he refused to lunch with representatives of that organization.

The top being put on the 1,000 pound Whoopie Pie.   (AP photo, Cheryl Senter, via Bangor Daily News)

For the Dilettante on Whoopie Pies, click HERE

For the Governor on ABC news click HERE.  We are just so proud.  Not.

And we'll go out with Jon Stewart:


Blue said...

Dilettante, there's a very nasty mean streak running through modern politics - reminds me very much of the Thatcherite years in Britain. A scandal and a shame!

The Devoted Classicist said...

Unfortunately, I never cease to be amazed by the level of ignorance towards art, especially public works. And sadly, you and Maine will probably be in for a lot more of the same before the governor's term is over.

columnist said...

Politics and politicians are the truly offensive things in all societies. In Thailand we have examples in spades. I think any country's citizens could chip in with similar views.

The Ancient said...

1) I don't want to sound more jaded than usual, but this hardly rises to the level of Diego Rivera and Nelson Rockefeller.

If those murals have any value whatsoever (and by the looks of them, they don't), why not organize a group of artists to remove and relocate them to some other, more public place?

(Removing pictures and re-naming conference rooms is silly political gamesmanship of a low order, and both parties do such things all the time. Personally, I was much more offended when Joe Brennan, a liberal Democrat, gave away tens of millions in unneeded tax subsidies to Bath Iron Works back in the 1980s. Your state Common Cause fought that all the way to the Maine Supreme Court -- and lost.)

2) As for the governor, I was only dimly aware of him before today, and then only for a couple of his rude remarks, widely reported.

But lo and behold, his Wiki page says this: [He Who Shall Not Be Named] is the eldest son of eighteen children. He grew up speaking French in an impoverished home with what he has described as an abusive father. At age eleven, he left home and lived on the streets of Lewiston, seeking shelter wherever he could find it, including in horse stables and at a "strip joint". After spending roughly two years homeless, he began to earn a living shining shoes. At thirteen, he worked washing dishes at a café and hauling boxes for a truck driver. He later worked at a rubber company, a meat-packing plant, and was a short order cook, and bartender.

So while this rude boy may be a blot on the moral escutcheon of The Great State of Maine, he's an interesting blot.

3) I'm confused by your second item. Is this the start of some new campaign? A Whoopie Pie for Every Pot?

Tell me where to send the check for Dilettante for Governor 2014.

Morag said...

It's disturbing to have our first Franco governor insult the Maine work ethic to which Francos have contributed so much. It's a slap in the face to the people who worked and still work in the woods, mills, fields, and on the water. It's ironic that someone who has worked hard himself has so little respect for working people.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Blue, Devoted, Claasicist, all so sadly true...

Ancient, re: Rockefeller/Rivera: excellent point of comparison.

As to the renaming, the joke around Maine is that the rooms are going to be renamed 'Walmart', 'Kmart' and 'Best Buy'.

If nominated, I will not run, if elected, I will not eat Whoopie Pies...

mdrnpntofvu said...

I heard all about it on NPR.

Which is another story, but if they can "live well" without the government, it's "a good thing".

The Down East Dilettante said...

Ancient again---any of us can make our lives sound interesting---my own autobiographical outline would make me appear to be absolutely fascinating, and trust me, I'm not.

Morag and Ancient, the mystery to me is his utter contempt and lack of empathy for the poor.

Mdnptofvu, indeed, if it can happen. But....

Anonymous said...

Equally appalling, from your link to NYT editorial:

"Mr. LePage does retain a sense of workplace opportunity. After his election last November, he named Lauren, his 22-year-old, fresh-from-college daughter, to what was termed an entry-level job as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff.

At $41,000 a year, the post offers $10,000 more than the pay for workers who pass the teacher and police tests. That’s on top of Ms. LePage’s free room and board at the governor’s mansion."

home before dark said...

I was wondering how long DED would last before his brain caught on fire. I have long been a fan of the Maine's two moderate senators. They have often been a voice of reason in this partisan circus that has become our congress. Do hope the LaPage wakes up the sleeping in Maine and makes a big whooopie pie of a deal at the next election to support Sen. Snowe. Here in Kansas we have our own curse: everything is Republican. It's going to get very ugly here.

Rebecca said...

Just read on Twitter that mural was removed this weekend...of course, strike when the workers aren't there!
Epic fail! How soon can this clown be recalled?

Anonymous said...

"Just read on Twitter that mural was removed this weekend..."

I hope those paintings were on paper or canvas, and that they were rolled up and placed in the attic. Please say the murals were not painted directly onto the wall, then painted over, zapped.

I know a courtroom that might very much like to have those murals installed over its pink walls.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Flo, more disturbing, actually. The removal of the mural is just buffoonery---but the hiring of his daughter crosses an ethical line. Have I mentioned that he is an absolute hero to the poor people he is about to screw?

Rebecca, absolutely

The Sidekick said...

What DED forgot to mention is that this buffoon is cutting taxes for those with the higest tax rate -- effectively giving welfare to those who need it least -- while taking away from those who need it most. Although I will personally benefit from this, I am offended beyond words. Suppose I will be able to increase my donations to Good Shepherd food bank, which will need it more than ever.
This "Christian" leaves me aghast and horrified. But DED knew that.

The Ancient said...

I'm trying to do something with that old Blaine doggerel -- "the continental liar from the state of Maine" -- but LePage is awfully hard to rhyme. I'll keep at it.

the hiring of his daughter crosses an ethical line.

I seem to recall that Andrew Cuomo's first job out of a not great law school was working for his father, the newly-minted governor of New York. Andrew was ostensibly paid just a dollar a year, but a) he lived in the mansion, and b) his money (and expenses) came from somewhere.

P.S. Sidekick -- I think the stronger argument is against the increase in the estate tax exemption.

The Sidekick said...

Ancient --
John Rockefeller at least owned the wall he had stripped of Diego Rivera's art. The wall Governor LaPage is stripping belongs to the citizens of the state of Maine -- almost 2/3 of whom did not vote for him and who are by a large majority against his unilateral action.
And as DED pointed out, apparently his background has left him with a contempt and total lack of empathy for those less fortunate, and perhaps, less dishonest than he. I note that it came to light that while he was running for governor and claiming a residence in Maine, his wife was claiming primary residence in Florida, and the attendant tax advantages associated with that, as well as sending their child to a Florida college as a resident of that state.
But enough about this man -- there is plenty out there to distress us all.

The Ancient said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"the hiring of his daughter crosses an ethical line"

It does, but he knows that state nepotism regulations are lax enough for him to do what he did within protected bounds. If his recent act of nepotism would be publicly, repeatedly framed as an implied thumbed nose at the dignity of state educators and state law enforcement officials, and if a public groundswell forms on the behalf of those state employees, then one brick of public discontent will be set down. An arrogant gasbag like that will lay down his own next brick, and another after that. But it will take a dedicated counter movement to be constantly framing and reframing so the voters will begin to question their own wisdom. How do I know, because we have this same thing going on in Florida. I will NEVER know how anyone could have voted for this thug we have as governor now, well yes I do. It's America, this is what we do, and this is how we do it.

Janet said...

Oh, DED, it has been a long, cold winter. And it's getting colder, I am afraid.

Turner Pack Rats said...

there's one more DED missed. He is making all state employees pay 9% more of their state retirement - all state employees except him that is. DED also forgot to mention that while he claimed that several business visitors to the Dept of Labor complained about the mural, he was not willing to name names. or in addition to telling the NAACP to kiss his butt (a fairly large target)that during the campaign he said he would tell President Obama to "go to Hell". He also supports rolling back the ban on BPA in plastics esp sippy cups because he said "it would only cause little beards on women".
i attach my comment to the Lewiston Sun Journal about his latest dictatorial act. THE funniest part of this whole debacle is that the Gov never saw the mural except in pictures.
the disturbing part is its just one more example of his "bull in a china shop" approach to the people of Maine. I'm sure that works great for all the suckers at Mardens but his sneaky, underhanded way is wearing pretty thin and he's only been in business for 3 MONTHS. This combined with the outright lies e.g. "many people complained about the mural" but they won't say who and they move the mural over the weekend when noone is around and won't tell us who moved it or where it is or who is interested in having it (my guess is they destroyed it when they took it off the wall) or the gov had seen many reports BPA wasn't harmful but he wouldn't tell us what reports or committees meeting in secrecy - all this sounds a lot like a certain European country from a few years back. They didn't like black people either.
I'm guessing he wants all these workers rights laws lifted so businesses that don't have unions can come here and we can go back to the way things were when the governors ancestors were shipped down here from Canada and made to work from the age of 9 for 15 hours a day - 7 days a week - you know - businesses like LLBEAN - oops they're already here.
I'd say it's time to end this before it's too late but it's already too late. Recall - no, impeach this clown before he makes Maine the laughing stock of the USA. All the business he wants to attract won't be so hot to come to a state that's become a public joke.

security word def - "noning" - synonym for impeachment which is what Maine needs right now.

Anonymous said...

"All the business he wants to attract won't be so hot to come to a state that's become a public joke."

Ugh: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/30/maine-gop-legislators-loo_n_842563.html

The Down East Dilettante said...

Ugh: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/30/maine-gop-legislators-loo_n_842563.html

Anonymous said...

Maestro, another NYSD standing ovation for you!