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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Lordy Lordy, Look Who's 40…'ish!

First Lady Michelle Obama official photo
Michelle Obama is the ninth First Lady I've known (well, not personally, but a boy can dream) in my life. She's my favorite, too. After all, we have a lot in common, she and I.

She's a wife, a mom, a lawyer and a strong advocate for our veterans. I'm a domestic partner, the spawn of a mom, a lawyer's nightmare and I believe our veterans deserve to be well taken care of on our nickel for the rest of their lives. We both pamper our dog. For four months and 12 days of each year, we're the same age. She tweets and I tweet. She told Barack before he went onstage at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, "Don’t screw it up, buddy," which is the same thing my partner Michael tells me before I go onstage in the kitchen to make mac 'n cheese.

It's like looking into a mirror, I tell ya.

When I vote here in Maine I get a simple "fill in the oval with a sharpee"-style ballot. Last November I filled in half of my oval for the President and Vice President...and the other half for Michelle. Among her many pluses, she's made the White House seem much less like a fortress, and more like the "people's house" it was meant to be. And last September she rocked Charlotte:

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama waves before addressing the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. .during first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September
So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming, or even impossible---let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation. It's who we are as Americans. It's how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us...if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button...then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids. […]

Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country: the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle."

Happy Birthday, Michelle. You're just all kinds of awesome.

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

Cheers and Jeers for Thursday, January 17, 2013

Note: Kossacks?  In Virginia???  No!!!!  Or…Yes????  Liz Dexic is organizing a Virginia Kossack Meetup in the neighborhood of zippy code 20171.  If you're interested, see Liz's post here for details or send a kosmail email.  (Has anybody called it "Kmail" yet?  If not I call dibs.)  As I always say when these events are beyond my travel radius: my kingdom for a teleporter.

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By the Numbers:

Days 'til Obama's second-term inauguration rave: 4
Days 'til the 2013 Brrr Fest celebrating winter beer in Coralville, Iowa: 9
Number of new members in the 113th Congress: 97
Percent chance that on Monday President Obama will be sworn in with his hand on the Bible Lincoln used during his first inauguration: 100%
Estimated percent of American workers who don’t get paid if they have to call in sick: 40%
(Source: CDC)
Rank of Delta, US Airways and Southwest among airlines with the best on-time performance: #1, #2, #3
Bags per 1,000 passengers that were mishandled in 2011 and 2012, respectively: 3.36 / 3
(Source: Transportation Dept.)

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Inauguration Day Forecast:

Partly sunny with an 80% chance of a port-a-potty shortage.  High 37.

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Your Thursday Molly Ivins Moment:

When George W. Bush took office, he was handed a going concern.  Projected annual surpluses from 2002 to 2011 were $5.6 trillion.  In its most recent projection, the Congressional Budget Office says it expects $1.4 trillion in total deficits from 2004 to 2013.  Bush's new future spending proposals---including everything from the goofy manned-flight-to-Mars to the promotion of marriage---already total an additional $2 trillion.

When Bush took office, the national debt was $5.7 trillion and his first budget proposed to reduce it by $2 trillion over the next decade.  Today, the debt is $7 trillion.  Last year, Bush predicted a deficit of $262 billion.  According of the CBO, the deficit is currently $480 billion.  Bush plans to cut biomedical research, health care, job training and veterans funding, and that still leaves a projected deficit of $450 billion.

It is unclear to me why anyone would believe anything the president says about our fiscal situation.  Keep in mind, this is a man who took three Texas oil companies into bankruptcy.
---January, 2004

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Now try it over hot coals….

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CHEERS to holstering some of our hostility.  Well, let's see: the President and Vice President unveiled a series of sensible, broad and popular executive orders yesterday, and proposed legislation designed to reduce gun violence over time.

President Obama's signature authorizing 23 gun-related executive orders, January 16, 2013.
President Obama's signature authorizing
23 gun-violence-related executive orders.
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In front of a crowd that included victims of gun violence, families who lost loved ones to gun violence, elected officials, and school children who had written letters asking him to do something to prevent more senseless massacres like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President introduced a comprehensive proposal that will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and will give law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence, and keep our children safe.

“This is our first task as a society,” the President said. “This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”

These actions are the result of the effort led by Vice President Joe Biden and members of the Cabinet to come up with concrete steps that we can take right now to keep our children safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.

The National Rifle Association responded by dredging for quick bottom-feeder cash with an ad exploiting the Obama kids, which prompted the White House to respond by calling it repugnant and cowardly, which prompted the head of the National Repugnant Cowards Association to demand an apology from the White House for comparing the NRCA to the NRA.  In the distance, Joe Lieberman sat on a park bench and fed the pigeons.

JEERS to a gathering of jerks.  The Aqua Velva and cigar smoke will be thick as Republican leaders and their allies meet in Virginia for a retreat.  The first rule of a Republican retreat: no matter what happens, save the scotch.

Painting of Ben Franklin conducting his kite experiment.
Hi, Ben. What's up?
Oh. Duh. Kite.
CHEERS to Ben Franklin.  The Founding Father, publisher, diplomat, philosopher, and the only  American to invent more things than Ron Popeil turns 306 today.  He has a few words for the wreck that has become the Republican party:
For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise. ... When you're finished changing, you're finished.
Hippie.

JEERS to flying the friendly skies in an unfriendly aircraft.  Says here that a whole bunch of those new Boeing 787 aircraft have been grounded.  The problem: "an emergency landing of one of the jets exposed a battery fire risk in the technologically advanced aircraft."  Or as they're now calling it: "not technologically advanced enough."

JEERS to turning a deaf ear. On this date 52 years ago, during his farewell address in 1961, President Eisenhower warned us all against the rise of the "military-industrial complex." Every year, as his warning appears ever more prescient, this speech ranks right up there with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address or FDR's Four Freedoms speech:

Newspaper headline regarding Dwight Eisenhower's farewell speech
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Let's see how that's working out: We did let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties and democratic processes. We did take it for granted. And we the ignorant and apathetic citizenry did not compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty are now fighting like rabid dogs. Other than that...Thumbs-up!

CHEERS to riding to the rescue. Speaking of the military, 22 years ago today, Operation Desert Storm---led by Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf on his trusty horse Sparkles---began:


A coalition of the willing---like, a real one---pushed Saddam's army out of Kuwait within 100 hours.  Plus we actually got the hell out when it was all over and President George H.W. Bush (who just got out of the hospital and is back home planning his next skydive) actually raised Americans' taxes to help pay for it.  Oh, what a pleasant little war.

CHEERS to whappin' the C-word upside the head.  When MSNBC host Ed Schultz announced awhile back that his wife, Wendy, was being treated for ovarian cancer, it was hard not to be pessimistic about the prognosis.  But once in awhile medical science grabs the disease and takes it for a long walk off a short pier:

It has been a long seven months for my wife, Wendy Schultz, and her battle with ovarian cancer.  After major surgery in July, followed by 18 weeks of intense chemotherapy, Wendy had a CT scan on Friday and the news came today (Tuesday) that she is cancer free.  I know that she wants to thank all of you who have been so gracious with your prayers and support.
And in other medical news, the cut I got on my finger while chopping onions has finally healed.  Many thanks to my left-wing supporters for all the prayers and flowers, and my right-wing supporters for all the packets of salt.

JEERS to yesteryear's sleazebag.  On January 17, 1997, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich---the guy who promised to clean up Washington---accepted a reprimand by the House that included a $300,000 penalty as punishment for ethics violations.  Four days later the House voted 395-28 to discipline its leader for ethical misconduct.  If memory serves, the sun was shining and the birds were singing that day.

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Five years ago in C&J: January 17, 2008

CHEERS to perv protection.  MySpace says it's taking steps to protect kids from online child predators.  It's pretty ingenious, really.  Before they'll accept your online registration, you have to click a button that says either "YES---I am a child predator" or "NO---I am not a child predator."  Technology rocks.  [1/17/13 Update: MySpace?  MySpace???  What the hell is that?]

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And just one more…

CHEERS to the most joyful noise.  Yesterday I was thumbing through the latest issue of our alt-weekly, The Portland Phoenix, and I noticed a cartoon by Brian McFadden (he of Big Fat Whale and Big Fat Daily Kos fame).  It's an old one from 2011, but I hadn't seen it before and for some strange reason it just seemed to…speak to me:

Big Fat Whale
Anyway, my point is: you're lookin' at C&J's new official flag.  Long may it wave.  And poot.

Oh, and happy birthday also today to Muhammed Ali (71), James Earl Jones (82) and Betty White (91).  Which one is really The Greatest?  All three.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

Let's stop for a moment and take a look at a slow-motion development changing the world as we know it: The United States is giving up its addiction to Cheers and Jeers.
---Frida Ghitis

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Poll

Overall, I think the measures outlined by the President and Vice President yesterday to control gun violence are…

47%2597 votes
40%2247 votes
9%503 votes
1%57 votes
1%67 votes
0%43 votes

| 5515 votes | Vote | Results

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