Guns

Guns.

People who know me know that in general, I am a progressive liberal. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, and I favor Elizabeth Warren this time around. I am for rebalancing the tax code in this country so that those who can afford to pay more do pay more, and those who are struggling pay less. I am for tuition free (and free books) in the entire public education system, including Community and State Colleges/Universities. I am for universal health care. And I am for reasonable regulations regarding the ownership of guns.

Guns.

The United States Constitution, 2nd Amendment, states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

To some, all they see is “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” without considering the first clause, “A well regulated Militia”. What these people either forgot or never learned, is that this was written at a time when there was no standing army. The United States of America did not have a standing army until the Civil War. Prior to that, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the French And Indian War, and the start of the Civil War, an army was called up, State by State, from each State’s own local Militia. Militias that were, in turn, formed by volunteer call-ups at the time of need.

To others, all they see is “A well regulated Militia” and ignore the rest, and place strict restrictions on gun ownership by the common citizenry.

There are “nuts” on both sides of this issue, the gun nuts and the gun-control nuts. I see both. I grew up in Massachusetts which has one of the strictest set of gun control laws in the country, and I now live in Maine, which has almost none. As a Maine resident, I do not even need a permit to carry a concealed gun. All I have to do is pass a simple background check and be able to afford the hardware. No training required. It is scarily easy. I know, because that is exactly what I did last month.

I am a lefty-liberal progressive Democrat and I now own a gun.

My thoughts and feelings about guns have not changed over the past 20 or so years. They have, however, clarified.

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Pulse. Las Vegas. Ft. Hood. Virginia Tech. El Paso. Dayton. The list is much, much longer than that. The gun nuts see these and say “if only there were good guys with guns there”, and the gun-control nuts see these and say “this is why we need gun control and disarm everyone” and point to countries with strict gun control laws and low gun violence as examples of proof.  Like many things, the truth is somewhere in between. 

The gun nuts forget or ignore that Sandy Hook, for example, is an elementary school, or that the Las Vegas shootings were done by a sniper. And the gun-control nuts forget or ignore that the countries they tout as examples have had national gun control laws for so long that no-guns is part of their cultures.

So, my thoughts? Here in America, the cat is out of the bag on guns, and has been for over two centuries, reinforced with the Westward expansion of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Guns are so entrenched in American culture, that this not something that can be legislated away anytime soon, and not all at once. I am, and always have been, of the opinion that the bad guys will ignore the law, because that is what bad guys do. “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” is a trite saying, but I believe it’s true.

So, what is a reasonable regulation regarding guns? For one thing, a more level field across the nation on gun control. I can open or conceal carry a gun in Maine without a permit. If I get a Maine permit, I can then conceal carry in about a dozen other states, not including Massachusetts, New York or California, or even some of the more otherwise gun-friendly states in the mid-West or West. If I get a Maine permit and then a Utah non-resident permit, I can then conceal carry in 35 states, but again, not including Massachusetts, New York or California.  For that matter, a resident gun license issued in Buffalo, Plattsburgh or Albany NY is NOT valid in New York City!

For another, a stricter background check. The form I filled out, from the ATF I believe, is a four page booklet, of which the only part that pertained to me, the buyer, was the questionnaire on the first page and an oath to sign on the second. Two and a half pages were for the dealer, including a record of the gun I was buying. It’s harder to buy a car than a gun in Maine.

Another, one that would directly affect the ability of people to do mass shootings, are the Red Flag Bills that would allow friends, family, and law enforcement, to petition the courts to temporarily remove guns from people who have expressed intent to harm others or themselves. The courts can deny the petition if the petitioners fail to make their cases, and the persons in question can get them back if the court or authority appointed by the court has deemed that the danger has either never been or has passed. Multiple polls have shown significant bipartisan support for this among the people.

2020 Democratic field

A little earlier, I alluded to my leanings on the Democratic ticket for President. I thought I’d expand a little on that.

First off, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are two sides of the same coin. Or perhaps more accurately, two faces of the same dice. Their end goals on their platforms are similar: Universal health care, climate change, foreign relations, consumer protections, economic equality, etc. However, read what they have to say, listen to what they have to say. How to get there is very different. Senator Warren wants to fix the system, Senator Sanders wants to burn it down and build anew, as he considers it unfixable. I have a problem with this.

In the countries he brings up as examples of how it should be done, he leaves out a couple of important details: The national healthcare systems in those countries were built from the start as a unified single-payer system. And the populations of those countries are a fraction of the US’. He specifically called out Canada as a shining beacon of how it should be. He is right, but Canada has what, 37 million people compared to the United State’s 325+ million?

Our current system is too entrenched and our population to be served is too big to just burn it down and build something new. It would cause massive chaos in everything it touches.

The same is the same for almost all of Sanders’ platform. As much as I like the ideas he has, and I voted for him in the 2016 primary, this time around we have candidates with aligned or nigh-identical goals but a more realistic and achievable method of getting there. He’d probably do good as a Cabinet Secretary, though.

Buttigeig needs to serve some time in Congress (House or Senate) or Governor of his state before I’ll take him seriously for President. Same for de Blasio, even if NYC is a crapton bigger than South Bend.

Williamson and Yang are IMO political flakes, Williamson being also just a plain flake.
Harris, Hickenlooper and Inslee are possibilities. Not as overall progressive as Warren, but more realistic in methods than Sanders, so I’d probably rank them 2nd, 3rd and 4th (not necessarily in that order) with Sanders 5th.

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.