Archive for July, 2012
(ALMOST) BRONZE: Apparently Mitt is no judge of ability, as his horse- er- winning choice Michael Phelps in the 400m Men’s Individual Medley ended up with a dismal fourth place finish and Ryan Lochte took the gold for Team USA:
For nearly a decade Ryan Lochte chased Michael Phelps in the pool, picking up bronzes to Phelps’s golds. But all the while, Lochte has been closing the gap, second by precious second. On Saturday night, he raced past him on the stage Phelps has dominated since 2004. Lochte crushed Phelps and the rest of the field to win the 400-meter individual medley at the London Aquatics Centre, finishing in 4 minutes 5.18 seconds. Phelps finished fourth, more than four seconds behind Lochte.
Jan Ebeling, who will be riding Ann’s horse Rafalca, resents the idea that dressage is considered elitist — especially given his own modest background. In an interview at the Olympic Park, he explained that there’s not as much money involved as people might think.
“If you look at our team, there’s nobody who’s a millionaire. When I grew up we had no money. I worked my butt off. I cleaned stalls. People saw the talent and would let me ride their horses. Money is not something that defines dressage. It’s something you can do with a normal budget.”
Apparently Jan heard about Mitt’s 2011 sit-down with unemployed Floridians, in which Romney infamously admitted that “he is unemployed, too.”
GOLD (STAR): This one actually doesn’t go to Team Romney, but to FLOTUS Michelle Obama.
As a lesson in good natured statesmanship – if not to say simple manners – it was a masterclass.
For Michelle Obama cast aside stuffy protocol to join in the fun and games to celebrate today’s opening of the Olympic games with more than 1,000 children.
The First Lady met the children – most of them from U.S. military families – in the grounds of Winfield House, the official residence of the U.S. ambassador in London. She was joined by David Beckham and Olympic gold-medal sprinter Carl Lewis who signed autographs.
She said: “I’m so excited,” after jogging to the stage as a marching band played the University of Florida fight song. “I am thrilled to be here on London for the 2012 Olympic games. I am proud to be leading the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony.”
Mrs Obama, who later tried out sports including tug-of-war and football alongside the children, offered a tribute to military families who had been invited to take part in the event.
“The military families who are joining us from U.S. bases that are stationed here in the U.K., we are so grateful for your service because you all sacrifice so much – you as kids, your mums, your dads,” said the First Lady. “You sacrifice so much for this country and we are so very proud of you.”
Not to disagree with The Standard, but imo Mitt wasn’t the only Romney being schooled by Michelle- Ann could take a lesson here on how to talk TO people and not DOWN to people.
NOTE: An “Honorable Mention” must be awarded to host city London for this moment celebrating universal healthcare during last night’s opening ceremony:
“Perhaps not surprisingly in a country where healthcare reform is so controversial, it was the high-profile presence of the NHS that stunned many American writers.
After all, the idea of state-control of healthcare is demonised as “socialised medicine” with scare stories of “death panels” touted by top – usually Republican – political leaders.
Certainly the US equivalent, which would be dancing health insurance corporate executives, was hard to imagine.”
Well, that’s a wrap on Romney’s Bombing of London! One wonders what missteps Mitt will make, as he arrives in Israel later today.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
“Mitt Romney went to London, riding his dressage pony, stuck a gilded feather in his cap and called it rigatoni! #RomneyShambles”
Have you heard the latest on Romney’s Excellent Adventure? No, not the horse– oh, Mitt sure is making all kinds of friends on his European Vacation!
First he met up with Prime Minister David Cameron- and with all of the tact and political deftness we’ve seen from Rmoney all year, we got yet another keeper for the highlight reel:
Mitt Romney handed Barack Obama a potential gift for the US presidential election campaign when the presumptive Republican nominee blundered on his first diplomatic outing by questioning whether London was capable of staging a successful Olympic Games.
In a move that astonished Downing Street, hours before it laid on a special reception for Romney at No 10, he told NBC that “There are a few things that were disconcerting — the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials — that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”
One senior Whitehall source said: “What a total shocker. We are speechless.”
But not for long, as PM Cameron fired back:
“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson also weighed in:
“People are coming from around the world and they’re seeing (us) and they’re seeing the greatest city on earth – aren’t they? And there are some people who are coming from around the world who don’t yet know about all the preparations we’ve done to get London ready in the last 7 years. I hear there’s a guy, there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready – he wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes we are!”
Waiting for Mitt’s full, unreserved apology:
For once, it can be said that FoxNews got a headline exactly right: Romney’s international trip could be a defining moment.
Indeed.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
(Updated) BREAKING: US Senate GOP Candidate/ SoS Charlie Summers Releases Same Sex Marriage Referendum Question Final Wording
Moments ago it was announced that Secretary of State Charlie Summers has released slightly revised wording for the Nov. 6 ballot question about same-sex marriage in Maine.
The question now reads as: “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?”
(6pm) Mainers United issued the following statement regarding the new wording of Question 1:
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State took into account our concerns and has changed the question to more accurately reflect the contents of the citizen’s initiative,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage. “The new question makes it clear that the proposed law is about civil marriage and that no church or religious institution can be sued for refusing to recognize or perform a marriage that goes against its beliefs.”
The campaign went on to remind that a public poll earlier this month found that 57 percent of voters support allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Only 35 percent said they were opposed.
The religious exemption section of the citizen’s initiative reads:
Religious exemption. This chapter does not require any member of the clergy to perform or any church, religious denomination or other religious institution to host any marriage in violation of the religious beliefs of that member of the clergy, church, religious denomination or other religious institution. The refusal to perform or host a marriage under this subsection cannot be the basis for a lawsuit or liability and does not affect the tax-exempt status of the church, religious denomination or other religious institution.
A “Yes” vote on the citizen’s initiative in November will allow marriage licenses for loving, committed same-sex couples in Maine while also protecting religious freedom.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Gov. LePage at ME Educational System Presser: State Taking Over Non-Improving Schools “Discussed”; School Districts Should Pay for Remedial College Courses
Press release from the Governor’s office
Governor Paul LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen held a joint media conference today to discuss the results of a recent study released by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and unveiled a new initiative to revitalize Maine’s educational system: the ABC plan.
The study, an analysis of 49 countries worldwide and 41 states in the U.S., measured improvements in academic test scores of 4th and 8th grade students from 1992 to 2011. In comparison to other states, Maine educational growth ranked 40th out of the 41 participating states. United States placed 25th in the world rankings.
“Commissioner Bowen and I have been trying to address this for two years now. We know Maine’s educational system is lacking and we are here to share these results with you so that we can move in the right direction,” said Governor LePage. “This is a call to action.”
In response to the study’s findings, Governor LePage and Commissioner Bowen introduced their ABC plan. ABC stands for Accountability, Best practices, and Choice. Commissioner Bowen discussed the three-point plan in detail, explaining accountability means creating a system that measures school performance and providing assistance to those that are struggling; best practices means looking at other state’s and countries’ educational systems that have yielded proven results; and choice means giving students more learning options, such as open-enrollment for schools.
“These efforts will be our core focus as we head into the fall and winter,” said Commissioner Bowen. “We will be working with national experts from high-performing states on these initiatives, and we will be bringing a number of proposals to the legislature next session which we believe will get Maine’s schools headed in the right direction.”
Governor LePage reiterated that the status quo in Maine has been too heavily focused on administrative interests and procedures. This plan, he said, will return the central focus of Maine’s education policy back on students. The Governor also supported teachers as a vital piece to his reform plan, stating that the current rigid certification requirements and curriculum structures are stifling teachers and potential teachers from sharing their wealth of knowledge.
“Educators should be able to teach and mentor based on what they know. If a person is a professional in the subject they want to teach, they should be able to do so regardless of whether or not they hold a teaching certificate,” said LePage.
As the Kennebec Journal reports, LePage plans to propose a bill to require school districts to pay for the remedial classes their graduates require in college.
Moments ago, the Governor’s office released two audio sound bites from that press conference: School Choice, Providing More Resources to Schools. Additionally, they sent out text of a reporter’s question and LePage’s answer:
Response to a reporter’s question asking how the State will deal with underperforming schools.
Governor LePage: “Some of the measures we’ve talked about is the state taking over the schools. That’s the extreme if they just don’t improve. But we’re going to put resources into those schools to help them improve. And the resource is not always money. We’re looking at several models like Jeb Bush did in Florida and what other states are doing. I just recently had a discussion with Governor Jindal of Louisiana and some of the things that are working down there. And so we’re gathering the information so we can put together a program so we can assist school districts. It seems as I look at what’s happening is that we do a reasonable job K-6, middle schools we start to slip, and we get to high school and wow, we fall off the face. There’s got to be something causing it and we have to do some research and find out where the disconnect is.”
Commissioner Bowen’s prepared remarks can be found here.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
President Obama Meets With Aurora Shooting Survivors, Families: ‘Out of this darkness, a brighter day will come’
Good afternoon, everybody. I want to begin by just thanking all the state, local, and federal officials who have responded magnificently to this tragedy.
Governor Hickenlooper, who has already been dealing with a range of natural disasters here in the state, has been an extraordinary example of strength. The Mayor, who has only been on the job seven months, and obviously has responded with great strength and leadership. The Police Chief, who — we had an opportunity to speak over the phone — Chief Oates has been dealing with as difficult a set of circumstances as any law enforcement officer deals with, and he and his officers have done everything right, by the book, with great courage and great determination. And so we are very proud of them. And I think I speak for the entire congressional delegation who is here as well.
Scripture says that “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones — as I described to them, I come to them not so much as President as I do as a father and as a husband. And I think that the reason stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion — what it would be like and how it would impact us.
I had a chance to visit with each family, and most of the conversation was filled with memory. It was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother, or their son, or daughter was, and the lives that they have touched, and the dreams that they held for the future. I confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these kinds of situations, but that my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and will continue to think about them each and every day, and that the awareness that not only all of America but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort.
I also tried to assure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will fade away. And in the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy.
And I also had a chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears, but also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented.
I also had a chance, fortunately, to visit some folks who are going to be okay, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the staff at this hospital. And I just want to thank everybody who’s worked tirelessly here to deal with this tragedy.
Some of the stories are remarkable. You see young people who’ve come in and just two days ago, or 36 hours ago, or even 24 hours ago, it wasn’t certain whether they’d make it. And now suddenly, their eyes are open, they’re alert and they’re talking. And it reminds you that even in the darkest of days, life continues, and people are strong and people bounce back and people are resilient. And particularly, given the fact that so many of the victims were young, it is a great blessing to see how rapidly they’re able to recover from some pretty devastating injuries.
There’s one particular story I want to tell because this was the last visit that I had and I think it’s representative of everything that I saw and heard today. I had a chance, just now, about five minutes ago, to visit with Allie Young — Allie is 19 years old — and I also had a chance to visit with Allie’s best friend, Stephanie Davies, who’s 21. Stephanie was actually downstairs with Allie as well as Allie’s parents when I walked into the room.
And I don’t think this story has been heard — at least I hadn’t read it yet — but I wanted to share it with you. When the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from Allie and Stephanie, who were sitting there watching the film. Allie stood up, seeing that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there. And she was immediately shot. And she was shot in the neck, and it punctured a vein, and immediately she started spurting blood.
And apparently, as she dropped down on the floor, Stephanie — 21 years old — had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where she — where Allie had been wounded, and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting. Allie told Stephanie she needed to run. Stephanie refused to go — instead, actually, with her other hand, called 911 on her cell phone.
Once the SWAT team came in, they were still trying to clear the theater. Stephanie then, with the help of several others, carries Allie across two parking lots to where the ambulance is waiting. And because of Stephanie’s timely actions, I just had a conversation with Allie downstairs, and she is going to be fine.
I don’t know how many people at any age would have the presence of mind that Stephanie did, or the courage that Allie showed. And so, as tragic as the circumstances of what we’ve seen today are, as heartbreaking as it is for the families, it’s worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young Americans like Allie and Stephanie, because they represent what’s best in us, and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come.
To the entire community of Aurora, the country is thinking of you. I know that there’s going to be a vigil and an opportunity for everybody to come together. And I hope that all those who are in attendance understand that the entire country will be there in prayer and reflection today.
So thank you. God bless you. God bless all who helped to respond to this tragedy. And I hope that over the next several days, next several weeks, and next several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country, but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on Earth.
Thank you very much, everybody.
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NCAA President Announces PSU Penalties: ‘Penn State perpetuated “football first” culture that must change’
The NCAA delivered severe blows to Penn State and its football program today with strong condemnations of the actions of university officials in the child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The head of the NCAA, Mark Emmert:
“No matter what we do here today, there is no action we can take that will remove their pain and anguish,” Emmert said of Sandusky’s victims. “But what we can do is impose sanctions that both reflect the magnitude of these terrible acts and that also ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry. Our goal is not to be just punitive, but to make sure the university establishes an athletic culture in which football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.”
He then announced the following sanctions against Penn State:
– A $60M fine; that amount being a one-year income from the PSU football program. The monies are to go to fund services for sexual abuse counseling and the like.
– 4 year ban on all post-season play, including bowl games.
– Scholarships reduced from 25 to 15 for four years.
– All from 1998-2011 vacated from the record books, effective immediately. (Note: This erasure means that the late coach Joe Paterno no longer has the most wins in college football history. That honor now goes to FSU’s Bobby Bowden.)
– 5 year probation.
Penn State released a statement shortly afterwards:
Penn State, in a statement released less than an hour after the sanctions were revealed, said it will accept them and that the “ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity.”
“The tragedy of child sexual abuse that occurred at our university altered the lives of innocent children,” school president Rodney Erickson said in the news release. “Today, as every day, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims of Mr. Sandusky and all other victims of child abuse.”
Yesterday morning workers removed the statue of former head coach Joe Paterno.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This morning, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections released their second report detailing money in Maine politics. (A link to the first report, PACs Unlimited: How Legislator PACs Distort Maine Politics)
The Leader Board: Maine’s Top Legislative Fundraisers and How They Earned Their Spots looks at the ten candidates who have raised the most private money for their own campaigns between 2002 and 2012. While some have raised a lot of money over many campaigns and others have had just one or two very expensive races, these candidates (5 Republicans and 5 Democrats) “epitomize fundraising under the private funding option”.
Andrew Bossie, MCCE Executive Director: “Our analysis shows distinct styles of fundraising. There are the wealthy self funders, the ones who rely largely on corporations and political action committees, and the candidates who raise money from a broad array of sources, including many individual donors.”
1. John D. Linnehan of Ellsworth (GOP)
2. Paul L. Tessier of Fairfield (Dem)
3. Christopher G. Hall of Bristol (Dem)
4. State Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland)
5. State Sen. Nancy Sullivan (D-York)
6. State Rep. Dana Dow (R-Waldoboro)
7. Former State Sen. Dennis Damon (D-Hancock)
8. State Sen. Debra Plowman (R-Penobscot)
9. Frank Farrington of Bangor (GOP)
10. Gerald M. Davis of Falmouth (GOP)
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Money in Politics Project is a series of twelve reports about the role and effect of money on Maine politics. The reports combine a review of publicly available campaign finance data with on-the-ground analysis of how money influences Maine’s elections, government, and public policy. Maine Citizens for Clean Elections launched this project because money in politics is an issue of vital concern to the people of Maine, one that goes to the heart of our democratic system.
Announced moments ago by Sue Cover via Twitter:
Patrick Flood wins GOP caucus, 214-130 over West Gardiner’s Ryan Wheaton.
— Susan Cover (@smcover) July 16, 2012
From her earlier report:
Republicans who live in Senate District 21 will meet tonight at the Augusta Civic Center to choose a new candidate.
The caucus is set for 6 p.m. in the Kennebec/Penobscot Room at the civic center. Voter check-in begins at 5 p.m. The location has been changed from the Manchester Fire Station because the crowd is expected to be in the hundreds, said Mark Ellis, spokesman for the Kennebec County GOP Committee.
Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop is running against West Gardiner businessman Ryan Wheaton for the nomination. Flood, House chairman of the Appropriations Committee, jumped in the race after Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, announced he would not seek re-election.
On Sunday, House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, issued a statement in support of Flood.
Wheaton joined the race shortly after Flood announced his intention to run. Wheaton said he wanted to offer district voters a more conservative choice. The Christian Civic League of Maine has encouraged supporters to go to the caucus to vote for Wheaton.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The video of Governor LePage sparring with Vermont reporter Paul Heintz has now been released by WPTZ.
Once again, here is Dirigo Blue’s link to the original highly controversial “IRS is new Gestapo” weekly address with the downloaded audio track. As previously reported by Gerald, this same audio had mysteriously been scrubbed from the Maine.gov site, but does appear to now once again be available for the public.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
I have read with concern several recent news accounts that describe extraordinarily offensive comments made by Gov. Paul LePage in discussing the Internal Revenue Service’s role in administering provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The employees of the IRS are among the most dedicated and hardworking in the federal government. Gov. LePage’s comments are disturbing on so many levels, but I am particularly distressed that he would attack public servants in Maine and across the country who come to work every day committed to giving their best for the American taxpayer.
We at the IRS take very seriously the duty we have to properly implement federal laws as directed by Congress, and we welcome constructive dialogue in regard to the implementation of these laws. But I must strongly object to comments such as those made by Gov. LePage, which serve no constructive purpose, and do a disservice to the employees of my agency.
Douglas H. Shulman
Washington, D.C.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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