Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 23, 2011

LEPAGE JUST CAN'T HELP HIMSELF.... I'm still amazed this guy is actually the governor of Maine.

Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting Maine's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor.

Worker advocates described the move as a "mean-spirited" provocation amid the administration's high-tension standoff with unions.

Acting labor chief Laura Boyett emailed staff Tuesday about the mural's pending removal, as well as another administration directive to rename several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.

The governor's spokesperson told local reporters that honoring Maine's labor history is "one-sided" and bothers "some" unnamed business owners.

Now, I admittedly haven't seen the mural, but based on media accounts, it's "simply a depiction of Maine's labor history." It's reportedly not political per se, but shows the public, in 11 panels, key moments in the state, including "Rosie the Riveter" at Maine's Bath Iron Works. The local artist responsible for the mural explained, "There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor. It was a pure depiction of the facts."

But facts that Paul LePage don't like apparently have to be shuttered away. Celebrating working people is now, apparently, the kind of thing that might bother business interests. We're approaching an odd sort of political correctness that restricts messages that might somehow bother the wealthy and powerful.

What an embarrassment.

All of this comes on the heels of the buffoonish, far-right governor vowing to pursue a Wisconsin-like plan to undercut Maine's public-sector unions

Which was preceded by LePage trying to roll back Maine's child-labor laws.

Which was preceded by LePage paying for tax cuts for the rich by cutting services for Maine's middle class.

Which was preceded by LePage picking a fight with the Maine NAACP in which he said, "Tell them to kiss my butt."

The moral of the story is, electing a Tea Partier to be the chief executive of a state really isn't a good idea.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Obviously, a pure statement of the facts isn't good enough for the rightwing anymore, since those pesky facts simply refuse to reflect the skewed rightwing version of reality.

Posted by: Six on March 23, 2011 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Now they're against people working. Would they rather have a mural depicting people on welfare?

Posted by: Speed on March 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

...a pure depiction of the facts...

You know what they say about facts -- they have a well known liberal bias. Ergo, the mural must go!

Posted by: Blue Girl on March 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, when will he get around to editing history books and changing photographs?

Like Texas has started.

Somewhere, Joseph Stalin is laughing his ass off!!!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 23, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Important to keep in mind that he was elected with only 38%. A landslide majority opposed him, but divided their votes between a Democrat and Indpendent. A very sad case. Maine deserves better.

Posted by: Theda Skocpol on March 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

You get who you vote for, don't you Maine!

As for LePew, this is simply run-of-the-mill teabagging; aka culture war for the rich.

Posted by: Trollop on March 23, 2011 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

And this whole brouhaha is an apt metaphor for why there are public service unions in the first place. Without them career civil service jobs become de facto patronage positions. Without the protection of established rules governing working conditions, performance evaluations, and disciplinary actions, that collective bargaining provides, Most state and local government executives will take more and more control over personnel issues and eventually you will see mass firings and resignations every time power in the city hall or governor's mansion changes parties.

Republicans think that they can use this power to establish a machine that will maintain power despite public sentiment, but I think a batch of freshman Republican governors are gonna get a rude awakening in three more years when their lease on the governor's mansion comes up for renewal.

Posted by: majun on March 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Petty ass tyrant...I'll bet he thinks we should 'take out those despots in the mid-East'...
and c u n d gulag? EXACTLY what I was thinking...if we can make facts and art 'invisible' then it's JUST LIKE it never happened. Morons.

Posted by: SYSPROG on March 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just as disturbed by the artist's reaction. No intention to be pro-labor? Be proudly pro-labor! Do we really have to pretend otherwise? We're talking about the Department of Labor! (unless the governor has renamed it...)

Posted by: Chris S. on March 23, 2011 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm telling you, these Republicans believe that they have waged a SUCCESSFUL RIGHT WING REVOLUTION and are rewriting history to make it so. (Of course the first of these major right wing revolutions, the fascist one did just that when it came to power.)

When the Koch Brothers' father studied Lenin so assiduously as he was installing oil refineries for old Joe Stalin, he did so with the dream of becoming the new Lenin, but this time for the right, rather than the left. His sons have carried out all of the key advice in the Communist Manifesto (getting control of communications, production, transportation) and now this is their moment to HOWL.

This is a revolution from the right, mark my words, and I'm afraid blood may be spilled before this is over. I am hoping the ballot box will be sufficient, but this takeover of our governments for the sake of the rich, and the transfer of our wealth exclusively to them may not be stopped without a real fight.

Posted by: jjm on March 23, 2011 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Olympia Snowe must be loving this!

Posted by: Michigoose on March 23, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe they could name the conference rooms after businesses that treat their workers fairly. Then again, if there were enough of those we wouldn't need labor unions, would we?

Posted by: Joe on March 23, 2011 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

He's one-and-done, and knows it. He's in a hurry to smash what he can, while he can.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 23, 2011 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of "bloodshed", a lot was spilled to get the 40 hour week, Workers Comp, and Unemployment Insurance.

-Folks, you get what you vote for! Sometimes what you DIDN'T BOTHER to vote for. The turnout in 2012 will say if we have had enough, or if reality TV still enough.

Posted by: DAY on March 23, 2011 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

What an embarrassment. -- Steve Benen

And expensive, too. Maine had to pay for the mural at some point. Now, it'll have to pay for the removal and for getting the walls painted again. When you don't have enough money to buy the basics, you may borrow to protect your investment (like repairing the roof of your house) but you don't borrow or waste what you still have to redecorate your house. Even if the carpet colour no longer pleases you, you wait to buy a new one till a more prosperous day.

The guy is really, truly, a blinded ideologue.

Posted by: exlibra on March 23, 2011 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when you pout and stay home, "progressives".

Posted by: Tom65 on March 23, 2011 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor.

Then it must be a piss-poor work of art. Pick a side. And if you know what's good for you it should be pro-labor.

Posted by: martin on March 23, 2011 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know which I prefer more in the changing of the names of rooms. The Andrew Carnegie or the Pinkertons Room.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 23, 2011 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Theda (above) has it about right: LePage was the beneficiary of a crowded ballot, which split the progressive (or at any rate, non-troglodytic) vote between Democratic and Indendent candidates. The great State of Maine, of which I'm a proud native, is very much the loser here. Please don't hold this buffoon against her!

Posted by: Etruscan on March 23, 2011 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Eliot Cutter, a Harvard educated lawyer ran as an Independent and won 36.5 % of the vote. The Democrat Libby Mitchell won 19%. Two other independents won 6% and LePage, a republican won at 38%

Posted by: Maineiac on March 23, 2011 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the "laborers" hired to remove the mural could just refuse to remove it and block anyone who was willing to do it.
Nah! That would take courage and a commitment to Freedom.

Posted by: st john on March 23, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for the Rep. proposal to get rid of, or re-name, Labor Day. Don't be surprised.

Posted by: prairiedaag on March 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

It's Eliot Cutler the independent not Cutter, and "Harvard Lawyer" was meant to be said with a sneer.

Posted by: Maineiac on March 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Can this asshole just issue imperial edicts like this without any repurcussion? Or did the teabaggers also get majorities in the legislature?

Hopefully, this will inspire a Wisconsinesque response.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

We are in BIG trohble when the state determines what is art and what is offensive to his/ her personal political stance. What next - book burning? Maybe Governor Snyder will order the removal of the Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Museum of Art?

Posted by: Diane Rodriguez on March 23, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the custodians who clean the governor's office could "forget" to do so from now on. Clean it yourself, pig.

Posted by: Hmmmmm on March 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, let's stop busting on Uncle Joe, as a young guy he was really HOT.. @KurtRex1453 “@refinery29: Dead Man Porn: The most bangable dudes in history! http://t.co/VFCmMOv”.

He, alas grew up and his ghost as well as that of Vladimir "a lie told long enough becomes the truth" Lenin seems to be inhabiting the Nouveaux Republican Party which is neither new, republican, nor a fun party.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on March 23, 2011 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wait wait wait.

Let me get this straight. We're fucking broke as a nation blah blah, Maine is fucking broke as a state blah blah blah and therefore we mustn't be giving unions bargaining power.........but we have all the taxpayer money in the world for mural removing.

Posted by: BetweenTheLines on March 23, 2011 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if Maine has a recall provision for its governors. This guy is so insane he should be locked up in a padded cell. Maine may be a conservative state, but it isn't this reactionary, hence why would Collins and Snowe be its senators?

A Wisconsin-like uprising in Maine is necessary. There are too many people with brains in Maine to put up with this kind of ideological shit.

Posted by: rrk1 on March 23, 2011 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

We are coming up on the centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Here's an editorial by Harold Meyerson for the Washington Post.

CBS News has a short video on this also.

Finally, Bill Singer wrote about it in Forbes.com.

With recent GOP action against organized labor, this event and its centennial are particularly relevant. Our country has a short memory, and likes to remember golden myth over the ugly facts. It should be foremost in peoples' minds that, without the countervailing force of law and unions, workers can again be locked in burning buildings; beaten and murdered for 'agitation'; or trapped in debt slavery in America.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on March 23, 2011 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Murals suggest that we esteem the subject highly.

A Republican Governor ordering it scrubbed is merely truth in advertising.

It's admirable, in a way. Shows a strength in your principles to destroy art for a cause.

Remember when the Taliban blew up those ancient Buddhist statues? Show people you mean what you say, by gum.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 23, 2011 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

A native of Maine, this past summer I moved back after thirty-three years away. I've been appalled at what this once-sensible state has become, with LeRage a total embarrassment and many more 'baggers than I expected (or can tolerate). I voted against him, but the five-party split did us in. I think that I shall be emigrating again fairly soon.

Posted by: Skepticat on March 23, 2011 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK



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