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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Have A CALM Day

I admit it. I'm old fashioned. Sometimes I watch TV in real time. Like, say, The Rachel Maddow Show for level-headed political analysis or New England Patriots games for rousing exhibitions of sport. For the last umpteen years, this is what it's sounded like in our house whenever the programming collides with a commercial break:

"We'll return to our program right after this message…"

"WOW!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW AMAZING THE AMALGAMATED CATHETER COMPANY IS! NOW MY CATHETERS COME RIGHT TO MY DOOR PRE-LUBED AND READY FOR ME TO INSERT RIGHT UP THE OLD…

[Mute Mute Mute Mute Mute!!!!!!!]

And it's not just home-delivery-based catheter commercials that air at window-rattling volume. It's sex pill commercials, sleeping pill commercials, shingles pill commercials, prostate pill commercials, lying bullshit oil company commercials, lying bullshit natural gas commercials, earwax vacuum cleaner (bagless!) commercials, insurance commercials and car commercials. All of them obnoxiously louder than the programming they interrupt.

There oughtta be a law. And now there is.

As of today, the Commercial Audio Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act kicks in. And, of course, you can thank Democrats for dealing with yet another everyday annoyance:

Old-style ad for television sets.
"Daddy? What's a cath hitter?"
Beginning Thursday, television stations and cable providers are required to keep the volume of commercials at a level consistent with programming. No more blaring car ads or holiday shopping spots, unless providers want to incur the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission.

"Loud television commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past," said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who sponsored the initial bill in the House.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was a co-sponsor of the act. He told industry publication Broadcasting & Cable: "It's about time we turned down the volume on loud commercials that startle TV watchers into paying attention."

More at the FCC's site. Stations and networks who break the law will face fines.

No, this won’t fix the economy or get us out of Afghanistan faster or solve the effects of climate change. On the surface, this is a minor accomplishment. But one thing's for sure: in future elections, Democrats will have a lock on the tympanic membrane vote.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, December 13, 2012

Note: Today is Thursday the 13th.  Not as unlucky as Friday, per se.  Just mostly annoying.

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By the Numbers:
Days 'til Boxing Day: 13
Days 'til the last day of the 34th annual Great Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace in San Francisco: 10
Amount that collective-bargaining-buster laws cost workers in a state that passes them, whether or not they belong to a union: $1,500
(Source: Economic Policy Institute via Think Progress)
Number of pharmacy robberies in Maine last year and so far this year, respectively: 24 / 54
(Source: The Portland Press Herald)
Rank of Vermont, Hawaii and New Hampshire on the list of healthiest states in the country: #1, #2, #3
Maine's place on the list: #9
(Source: United Health Foundation survey)
Age of music legend Ravi Shankar when he died Tuesday: 92

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Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

Here's to all the Americans on both sides of this year's unusually peppy fights over the allowability of religious symbols on public property. This annual battle, in which the American Civil Liberties Union strives once more to make itself as popular as the Grinch, is over the part of the First Amendment that says the government cannot sponsor religion. I always liked what former Gov. Ann Richards said when informed there were demands that the large star on top of the state capitol come down. "Oh, I'd hate to see that happen," she drawled. "This could be the only chance we'll ever have to get three wise men in that building."
---December, 2004
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Puppy Pic of the Day: Saved!!!

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CHEERS to seating the class.  Harry Reid must've felt like Santa Claus yesterday when he delivered Senate committee assignments for the Class of 2013.  All eyes were on Elizabeth Warren, and we're thrilled to see she got her seat on the Banking committee.  Meanwhile, Maine's new senator, independent Angus King, will be on four committees, and they are:

Angus King
The Mustache of Independence!
Rules & Administration: He'll work hard to push a rule that would open each Senate session with, "No more laughing, no more fun, no more chewing bubble gum.  Quakers' meeting has begun starting riiiiiiiiight…NOW!"

Intelligence: Among his proposals will be airdropping lobsters with tiny boutonnière microphones into hostile areas to blend in with the natives and gather valuable information.

Budget: This worries me.  I think he might be a deficit hawk who will happily sit on any "Gang of…" that comes along and not hesitate to put anything on the table including retirement ages and throwing Granny off the cliff.  If he allocates several thousand dollars to me (tax free) during his first year, I'll delete this paragraph.

Armed Services: I think he'll be solidly in the let's-get-out-of-Afghanistan-ASAP camp and work to keep Bath Iron Works and the Kittery shipyard busy up here with Navy contracts.  Also: replace our aging sharks-with-lasers fleet and save money by switching to puffins with grenades.

The minority Republican senators will, as usual, fan out and warm seats as members of the "Just Say No!" committee.  Nobody does it better.

CHEERS to fifty shades of green.  A quick reminder that you can register for the June Netroots Nation convention in San Jose right now at a $50 Happy Holidays We Love You discount.  A quicker reminder that the offer ends tonight at midnight.  A quickety-split reminder that that's midnight Pacific Time, so east coasters actually have until tomorrow morning at 3am to take advantage of the offer.  And the quickest reminder of all: Linky Here!  Oh, and when the offer's over, remind me to say "don’t say I didn’t remind you."  Cuz I did.

Maine: Open for Business sign with comical sign added.
The sign...with a slight embellishment.
JEERS to cheap sloganeering.  When tea party darling Paul LePage became our governor a couple years back, he had signs put up along the turnpike saying "Maine: Open For Business" and promised to usher in a new era of booming business here because, hey, HE'S A BUSINESSMAN!!!  (As an aside: we've heard that the signs were imported from Texas.)  So, uh, how's that magic business revival going at the hands of that magic businessman?  Well, as far as Forbes is concerned
Maine ranked No. 50 in Forbes seventh annual "Best States for Business."  ... "This ranking shows that the priorities and distractions of the last two years aren't working," said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland.  "We need to have a laser focus on improving our economy and the real factors that impact business, like workforce development, education, improving our
infrastructure and investing in research and development."

Forbes said its ranking is based on six factors: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.  The study incorporated 35 data points, with business costs weighted the most heavily.

So now we've got new turnpike signs: "Maine: Open For Lame Excuses Why We're Not Open For Business Yet."

CHEERS to trapping a very large rat.  Nine years ago today, members of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade found Saddam Hussein stinking up a "spider hole" near Tikrit.  He was treated humanely, given a public trial and then executed.  Or as Hussein would say: "You got it backward!"

P.S. Ever wonder who dug the spider hole that Hussein hid inside?  Well, meet Alaa Namiq.  He has a bad case of blind hero worship when it comes to Saddam.  Gee, I wonder how that happens.  Any ideas, Limbaugh dittoheads?

CHEERS to nature's light show.  If you're up late tonight and you have a desire to feel small and insignificant, here's something you'll love:

Painting of a Meteor Shower
Oh, we are SO fucked.
In 2012, the new moon falls on December 13, guaranteeing dark nights for this year’s Geminid meteor shower.  It doesn’t get much better than this for watching a major meteor shower! As a general rule, it’s either the August Perseids or the December Geminids that gives us the best meteor shower of the year.

Even from a mildly light-polluted town, you may see some meteors! Best direction to look? Like all meteors in annual showers, the meteors will appear in all parts of the sky. Find an open sky and---if possible---a sky sheltered from artificial lighting.

The best viewing is between 1-3am.  They say you'll need twenty minutes staring into darkness before your eyes get properly adjusted.  Or, to speed up the process, just spend 30 seconds staring into Dick Cheney's soul.

CHEERS to gut-wrenching moments.  On this date in 1809, the first abdominal surgery was performed in Danville, Kentucky.  Followed immediately by the first abdominal surgery to remove a surgeon's watch.  Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!  (Oh, BAM!  Nailed it!  Comedy Connection, here I come!)

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Four years ago in C&J: December 13, 2008

May 26, 2010 - Washington, District of Columbia, U.S. - Sen. AL FRANKEN, Minnesota Democrat, speaks during a hearing of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee into funding for early childhood development (Newscom TagID: zumawirewestphot
Senator Not N. Coleman (D-MN)
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JEERS to the union slayer.  Norm Coleman was one of the GOP Gang of 18 who voted to approve a $700 billion bailout for his banking buddies, but couldn't be bothered to loan 14 billion (roughly equivilent to the cost of fighting the Iraq war for one month) as a lifeline for a few million auto industry-related workers.  So we're jumping for joy over the news from the Minnesota State Canvassing Board, which voted today to count 133 missing ballots and allow a review of votes that were discounted due to clerical errors.  If those votes swing the way they're expected to, Coleman will soon be out of a job and Al Franken will become our newest reliable progressive voice in Washington (not to mention Senate Democrat #59 and a source of endless wisecracks aimed at the Republicans' collective tuckus).  Whatever body parts you have that'll cross...cross 'em.  Get creative.  [12/13/12 Update: Senator Franken's doing a pretty good job, don'tcha think?  Me too.]

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And just one more…

Golden Globe Award
True Fact: If you refer to this as
a testicle dipped in gold, the Golden
Globes will sue you for $20 million.
CHEERS to the Oscars' crazier, drunker cousin.  The 70th Golden Globe nominations will be announced this morning.  (This year's hosts for the January 13 show are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler…a nice departure from Ricky Gervais.)  Daniel Day-Lewis will get his inevitable nomination for Lincoln, and there will likely be plenty of additional nods for that movie plus Zero Dark Thirty, The Hobbit and Argo.  But I've got a million bucks that says Atlas Shrugged II will end up with the biggest haul.  And by that I mean the biggest haul of nominations that have gone Galt and are nowhere to be found.  So touchy, those objectivists.

Have a nice Thursday and a Rube Goldberg Hanukkah, Day 5!  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Unicorn lair discovered in Cheers and Jeers
---The Guardian

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Poll

Given how severely Republicans have abused election laws at the state level, do you support establishing some new national standards for how elections are run?

90%5573 votes
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| 6163 votes | Vote | Results

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