No Nuance to issue of The Wall

This is one issue where there really isn’t much nuance. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are holding the country hostage to the tune of 5.7 BILLION dollars to build a monstrosity of a wall that has no basis in logic, no plan, is already demonstrably not needed and ineffective, and is only supported by Trump’s narrow base.

The people and stuff that Trump claims it would protect against are not traversing the border where the wall would go, at least not in the numbers that might justify such a thing. No. The illegal goods are coming in through uninspected vehicles at the border crossing checkpoints, cargo ships and air planes. The illegal immigrants are likewise mostly entering through customs at legal points of entry on valid visas and then simply not leaving.

Meanwhile, a wall built to prevent people from crossing would also prevent animals from crossing. It would further endanger wildlife species that would be prevented from making their normal migrations across the desert between northern Mexico and the American Southwest, some of which are endangered species. It would disrupt the paths of rainwater, drowning some areas and drying up others.

This shut down, this impasse, is entirely on Donald Trump and his enablers, Paul Ryan, retired Speaker Of The House who refused to take a vote on the funding bills passed by the Senate in the last session after Trump once again showed he cannot be trusted to keep his word, and Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader who is now refusing to take a vote on THE SAME BILLS previously passed unanimously by the Senate and now nigh-unanimously by the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. With that level of support, the shutdown can be ended by passing the damn bills and then overriding the Trump Veto.

Term Limits for Congress? No, it’s been gerrymandered

I’m starting to hear people grumble and yell for term limits on the US House and Congress again. Saying that we are in the mess we are because of “career politicians”. I disagree.

Quick question: How do you feel about Mitch McConnell? He’s been in the Senate for over three decades. What about Nancy Pelosi? She’s been in the House for just over 30 years. Chances are you like one of them and hate the other. So, term limits? You can’t legitimately impose term limits on one without the other.

I don’t agree with mandated term limits. Mandated term limits forces a turn over, removing experienced people from their jobs. People that voters may actually like and would prefer to have stay. Considering that the Senate have to reapply for their jobs every six years and Members of Congress have to re-apply for their jobs every two years, we already have the best form of term limits there is: If their constituents think they are doing a bad job, vote them out and replace them.

There is also the issue of continuity. We already have wide swings of domestic and international policy when the Presidency changes hands every four or eight years, which sometimes leaves programs, partners and allies in the lurch. Just think about how much worse it would be with a forced turnover of the legislature as well.

Example: Here in Maine, there are term limits in place for the House and Senate. Mark Eves was a House representative from The Berwicks, until he was termed out. But unfortunately for him, the State Senator for his district wasn’t and is of the same party so he is currently out of the legislature entirely. This is a man that very likely would have easily won re-election. His last assignment in the House in his last term was Speaker – he ran the House in his last year, and famously got on the now-former Governor’s bad side just for doing his job as the people of his District wanted.

The problem isn’t how long legislatures are in office. The problem is the cheating that has been put into law to enable unwanted people to remain in office past the time the people in their states want them gone. Gerrymandering has reshaped districts in such a way that the parties, usually the Republicans, are choosing their voters rather than the voters choosing their representatives.

Susan Collins is responsible for this

Maine’s Senior Senator, Republican Susan Collins is responsible for this.

A Federal Court in Texas has now ruled the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional since a central pillar is the Individual Mandate which was enforced by a tax penalty.  The tax bill passed in November, 2017 did away with that tax penalty. So why is this Susan Collins’ fault?

Because she was the deciding vote cast in that tax bill.

Prior to the passage, she claimed that she would not vote for it if it dismantled the ACA. She stated that she would not vote for it unless various things were done first, which were never done. She kept moving the goal post on her “won’t vote for it unless” statements until they became meaningless, and she ultimately voted for it. Despite the largest to-then-date outpouring of constituent contacts to her offices asking, pleading, begging,  demanding a vote of no.

So now we’re left with a Federal judge declaring the ACA as unconstitutional because of Susan Collins.

This was a case brought to the courts by a coalition of Republican Governors and Attorneys General.  Maine’s Governor LePage tried to join in, but was stopped by then-Attorney General Mills, who stated that LePage did not have the authority. The decision will be appealed by the coalition of Democratic Governors who are acting as the defendants. The Trump administration has abdicated its responsibility to defend the standing laws.

Trump is escalating

Trump is escalating, people. Do NOT let this become normal!


In May, 2017, Montana Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a reporter who asked him a question about healthcare policy.  The other day at a rally in Montana, Donald Trump praised Gianforte for that assault. This praise comes about the same time it was confirmed that Jamal Khashoggi, a reporter for the Washington Post, was murdered in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey in what is widely believed to be a political assassination by the Saudi government.


Trump is the standard bearer for the entire Republican Party. They are not going to stop him. It is up to the rest of us. And the only way to do that is to vote for Democrats on November 6. Not just for Senate and Congress, but also for Governor, and State legislatures, and County government and municipal government. Because this crap rolls downhill.

Here in Maine, we have an outgoing Governor who term limited out this year that is just as bad on domestic policy and the Republican candidate has pledged to continue the same. We have Republican legislators who enable this. As do most States. And many of these people start in municipal or county government.

We all need as much political protection from the vileness of the current Federal administration as possible. So that the States can say NO! to the bad decisions and stand up to fight them. So that the States can say NO! to the rollbacks of civil rights that have been hard-fought and won since the 1960s.

These rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Reproductive choice
  • Non-discrimination in the workplace
  • Non-discrimination in education
  • The ERA
  • Marriage Equality
  • Housing 
  • Voting rights

As well as protections spelled out in the US Constitution including the Right to Free Speech, assembly and the press. This administration’s constant verbal attacks, and now open support of physical violence against members of the press is an anathema to what this country is supposed to stand for.

I don’t think it’s a stretch by any means to equate this to fascism, and I’m not the only one saying so. This is how fascism gains a foothold in an otherwise stable democracy.  This is how it started in Germany in 1933. Not all at once, but in small steps at first. And now those steps are getting bigger, and more visible. And it must be stopped.

November 6, 2018. This is likely to be the last chance to stop the rise of fascism in the United States Of America short of an actual civil war. Mark the date. If you have not already voted early / absentee, make a plan to vote and carry through. If you are not registered to vote, then register to vote NOW, and make a plan to vote. If you don’t know where your polling location is for election day, you can find it here on vote.org.

Not Fair?

CNN recently published an article “Collins says ‘it’s not fair’ for Kavanaugh accuser not to testify

Not fair? What’s not fair is how the GOP refused to even meet with President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, and are now ramming through a SECOND right-wing activist judge without due process.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins​ is being flooded with contacts completely opposed to this nomination, and she has consistently refused to state her intentions, and there is a crowdpac to fund her opponent in the 2020 General Election (over $1.4 million pledged as of this writing) if she votes yes to confirm. But has been signaling that she will vote to confirm. U.S. Senator Angus King has already put out a statement that he will be voting to not confirm.

The case against Kavanaugh is overwhelming, starting as far back as the source of the recommendation, The Federalist Society’s pre-vetted short list of judges they have been grooming since high school to oppose all the legal and judicial progress that has been made in this country since the 1950s. We’re talking about Roe v Wade, voting rights, civil rights, Brown v Board Of Education, marriage equality, etc, etc, etc.

Kavanaugh has already provided his official judicial opinion on a woman’s reproductive rights when he issued an opinion on the Jane Doe case of an older teenager that discovered she was pregnant while in immigration “detention” that she is not allowed to have an abortion. He has already provided opinions that military grade weapons like the AR-15 assault weapon are OK for individual ownership outside of military or police use. He has also provided an opinion tha a sitting president is or should be above the law and immune from any sort of investigation or criminal questioning, even as a witness, or prosecution while in office.

Senator Collins stated that she would not vote to confirm a nominee hostile to RvW. As early as the campaign trail, Trump stated that he would only nominate judges proven hostile to RvW. All of the names on the list provided by the Federalist Society are such, including Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Senator Collins stated that she finds the sexual assault accusation “troubling” but isn’t doing anything about it.

What isn’t fair is that Susan Collins is showing every indication of being perfectly fine with voting to confirm to a lifetime appointment a person who is demonstrably unsuited, unfit and unqualified for the position. Unlike Susan herself who can be voted out of office, the only way to remove a Supreme Court Justice is death, retirement or impeachment.

GOP is busting the budget, again

Last November, the Republican controlled House, Senate and White House jammed through a tax scheme that created a budget deficit on its own by providing massive tax breaks for those most able to afford to pay taxes, personal and corporate. Then, they rammed through a federal budget with large un-needed increases to the military and cuts to programs that needed increases, with a net result of a larger budget and less federal income to pay for it.

Just two weeks ago, Trump said that there wasn’t enough money in the Federal budget to pay for the already agreed on modest raises for Federal employees.

Now, they want to provide another round of tax cuts?

The United States is going to exceed a national deficit of $1,000,000,000,000 (one TRILLION dollars) by April.

The only way to reverse this is to vote them out! EVERY House seat and one third of the Senate are up for re-election this year. If there is a contested race where you live, on November 6 save our Government, save our country. Vote for the Democrat.

US State Dept=Reich Ministry

On Wednesday, August 29 2018, it was reported that the Trump administration has started denying passports to US Citizens and invalidating existing passports stranding US Citizens on the other side of the border. What do the people effected by this have in common? They are Hispanic born in the Southern border area. Some have even been “detained” by immigration and customs and sent to immigration jail and the US Government has begun deportation proceedings. On US born US Citizens.

The administration is claiming, with zero proof, that these Citizens are using fraudulent birth certificates. 

If this sounds in any way vaguely familiar, like something out of history, you’d be right.

October 5, 1938. The Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidates all German passports held by Jews. The Trump administration is taking cues directly from Adolph Hitler’s NAZI Germany. And lest we forgot, as well, the Muslim Ban that after many re-writes, Trump eventually got through with a “friendlier” Federal Court.

Martin Niemöller wrote this after World War II:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

First, they came for the Muslims. Then they came for the Hispanics. They are now coming for the Trade Unionists. They have been coming for the African Americans for decades. Who is next?

Never Forget.

Letter from, to Senator Angus King

Today, I received an email from Senator King. Not a personal one, a constituent-outreach email. This is what it says

I, too, believe that the American public deserves to know more about what was discussed between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Helsinki on July 16th. While I strongly disagree with President Trump’s approach to U.S.-Russian relations and have been critical of his handling of his meeting with President Putin, I do not support efforts to subpoena the U.S. interpreter present at the meeting, for several reasons. Under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the President has broad authority over the implementation of U.S. foreign policy. Further, I am concerned that subpoenaing  the interpreter from the Helsinki meeting would break with existing protocol and set a precedent that could threaten the ability of this—or any future—President to conduct sensitive diplomacy in the future. One possible result, for example, could be that our President would decide not to have an American interpreter at such meetings at all, and rely exclusively on the interpreter supplied by the foreign country which, clearly, could be inimicable to our national interest.

While I do not support a subpoena for the interpreter at the Trump-Putin meeting, I do believe the Administration should be more forthcoming in explaining what was agreed to in that meeting. I explained my viewpoint on CNN on July 19th. You can view the interview with the following link. As I mentioned in the interview, I find it disturbing that there was no transparency on what precisely was discussed or agreed to during that meeting and that the President continues to equivocate on Russia’s attempts to influence our elections. It is imperative that we effectively deter future Russian interference in our democracy with a coordinated response from the U.S. government. I will continue to work with my colleagues to support policies that protect the integrity of U.S. elections and strengthen our ties with our European Allies.

This is my response:

Senator King,

Thank you for reaching out to let your constituents know what you are thinking on the issue of the Helsinki meeting.

I disagree with your reasoning. If we were talking about a private meeting between the President of the United States and the Premier of Canada, or Prime Minister of England, or the Prime Minister of Israel, I would agree. These countries are allies. However, that is not what happened.

Mr. Trump held a private meeting not with a proven or even a new ally. This meeting was held with the leader of a hostile nation. A national leader directly implicated in attempting to, or perhaps successfully, interfering with our internal governmental processes in electing a government. A national leader who has maintained his own power over the course of the past 18 years by controlling the once-free press of Russia, intimidating, jailing and probably murdering political opponents and critics, a tactic that is being brought to bear by Donald Trump as we speak.

There are strong allegations from domestic and international intelligence agencies that directly link Putin and Trump on many levels in such a manor that indicate that Trump is, in essence, owned by Putin.

We very much need to know what was said at that meeting in Helsinki. We need to know what Trump promised or gave Putin. Or perhaps more accurately, you need to know, since you are on the Intelligence Committee.

 

 

Susan Collins: Political Opportunist

Annie Clark, the Communications Director for Senator Susan Collins (R, Maine) argues in a recent Portland Press Herald Letter To The Editor that Sen. Collins’ voting record over the past year and a half is being unfairly reported. She claims that statistics are being used to skew the reporting, and is in turn using statistics to make her case. I would expect that the Communications Director for a politician to defend their boss, that is their job after all.

However, she conveniently ignores several key facts that support what she claims is misleading reporting. Susan Collins has voted for:

All but two of Trump’s Cabinet nominees: DeVos and Pruitt. In the case of Betsy DeVos, Collins is on the Committee that pre-approves the nominee before the vote goes to the floor, and she voted to allow the vote. She then voted No on the floor after calculating that the nomination would go through without her. She did a similar calculation on Pruitt. With very few exceptions, this Cabinet is uniquely UNqualified for their positions. As examples, Education Secretary DeVos is dismantling student protections against financial abuse by the education loan industry, and is shifting government support from public education to for-profit schools from K-12 all the way through college. EPA Director Pruitt, and now his successor, is rolling back environmental protections. HUD Secretary Carson is making it harder for the working poor to afford housing. Interior Secretary Zinke is selling off National Monuments to the fossil fuel industry. The list goes on and on.

The GOP Tax overhaul: Prior to the vote last winter to rewrite the US Tax Law to heavily favor the 1% and large corporations, Sen. Collins “promised” to vote no because of its provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Market subsidies. She then almost immediately started backpedaling on that with multiple layers of backtracking, going from her initial “I will not vote for this” to “I will not vote for this unless [other bill] is passed first to protect the ACA”, to “I will not vote for this unless Leader McConnell promises that [other bill] will be voted on to protect the ACA immediately after” to “I will not vote for this unless Leader McConnell promises to hold a vote on [other bill] to protect the ACA in January”. She then voted for the tax bill, that [other bill] never materialized, the ACA subsidies are decimated, and the deficit has skyrocketed.

Collins has already started a similar backpedal regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court of the United States. She had originally stated that she would not vote to confirm any Justice that is hostile to the settled law of Roe v Wade, which legalized a woman’s choice to terminate an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy. Yet she has already voted to confirm multiple Justices on the Federal Appeals Circuits and SCOTUS that are proven hostile to Roe v Wade. And she has also backpedaled on this with the specific context of Brett Kavanaugh by refusing to consider the nomination source of the Federalist Society, which pre-vetted all of Trump’s judicial nominees to be hostile to Roe v Wade, and his already publicly known history of judgements and dissentions all in favor of restricting or denying a woman’s choice, rolling back environmental protections, voting rights, equality, etc, etc, etc.

Susan Collins is not bipartisan. She is a political opportunist hack at best, voting in favor of whatever party has the majority at the moment. She has voted to confirm almost all Supreme Court nominees that happened during her time in the Senate, regardless of ideology, and while she bemoaned the changes to Senatorial procedure for Judicial nomination confirmations, she voted them anyway. She has expressed “concern” over the kidnapping of migrant children from their parents seeking asylum by Federal authorities, but did nothing, actually worse than nothing as she opposed a topic specific Democratic bill to address this calling it “too broad”. She expressed as “unbelievable” over statements by Trump wanting to stop the Special Council investigation over Russian interference in the 2016 election, but has done nothing to protect the investigation.

Her message is one of carefully crafted narration, but her actions are oftentimes the exact opposite. She will do just enough bipartisan effort to lend a veneer of credibility to her claim of being a bipartisan moderate who happens to be a Republican, but the truth is, she is not. She is a craven political opportunist bending to the whim of whoever is in charge.

Not too far to the Left

Time Magazine just published an article “Democratic Centrists See a ‘Silent Majority’ Ready to Rebuild” in which they quote a fear of the Democratic Party going too far to the left for the voters. Read the article then come back here.

 

“Too far to the left”? The plan is to do the same things that elected Clinton and Obama? Bad moves.

The Democratic Party is shifting left. As the old guard die out, the younger generations are coming in and they are generally to the left of what you are considering the mainstream middle of the party. Bernie Sanders would likely have won the General Election against Donald Trump, even with the Soviet, I mean Russian, interference. The only reason he didn’t is due to meddling by then-leadership of the Democratic National Committee who wanted, among other things, to build a political Dynasty out of the Clinton name.

The DNC, and downstream to the State committees, and then downstream to the County and Municipal committees, need to actually LISTEN to the people they represent as party leaders, not just assume. And lead where their people want to go, not try to force them onto another, well worn and outdated path. And if they cannot do this, step aside and make room for those who can.

For the record, I am currently on the board of my municipal Democratic Committee, and a rank-and-file member of my County Democratic Committee.