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.

The case for Impeachment

Donald Trump needs to be Impeached by the House of Representatives for crimes against the United States, both mundane and Treason.

United States Constitution, Article 2 Section 4 states:

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Article 3 Section 3 defines Treason thus:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Also relevant is Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8, the Emoluments Clause:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State

as expanded by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966, which enumerates several elected positions in its definition of “employees” who may not accept any gift of more than minimal value without congressional  approval. Such “employees” include the President and the Vice President, a Member of Congress, and the spouses and dependents of the same.

The charges as I see them:

Since taking the oath of office to defend this country and its Constitution, Donald Trump has:

  • Repeatedly called the Free Press, foreign and domestic, “the enemy” and openly called for acts of violence against them. The 1st Amendment guarantees an unfettered free press
  • Has repeatedly provided aid and comfort by insulting our allies and praising our adversaries
  • Has provided aid and comfort by nominating to positions of power people singularly hostile to and by temperament or (lack of) qualifications unsuited for the offices they have been given
  • Removed the White House Petitions page, also a (potential) violation of the 1st Amendment which prohibits interfering with petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances
  • Brought us to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea
  • Is openly hostile to the intelligence findings of all 17 US Intelligence Agencies regarding adversarial interference in the 2016 elections, and adhering to the lies of the accused enemy, the Russian oligarch and defacto dictator Vladimir  Putin
  • Has refused to sever himself from his for-profit businesses,  many of which receive direct payments or other in-kind benefits from or are located in countries openly or subtly hostile to the United States, amounting to bribery, and a probable violation of the Emoluments Clause as expanded by the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966.

Prior to taking office, there is the very strong and real probability that he or those working for him actively colluded with the Russian government to ensure via active cyber fraud and sabotage that Trump would “win” the 2016 election. Trump has often called into question the legitimacy, time and cost of the multiple investigations of this. Only one of which claims to have found nothing, and that one was a highly biased partisan panel that adjourned before the few opposing side could bring up evidence.

The Mueller Special Prosecutor investigation, after only 14 months,  this one investigation has already secured 5 guilty pleas and  more than 20 additional indictments against persons foreign and domestic as well as several foreign companies that were used for cover. This is more sooner than any Special Investigation since Watergate.

Taken individually, some of these can be overlooked or seen as mere incompetence or mental incapacity. Taken together, though, a pattern of willful action against the interests of the United States can be seen. Thus, Donald J Trump needs to be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Letter to Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Sunday, July 8, 2018

You have stated that you will not ask any nominee by Donald Trump their opinion on Roe v Wade, and that you will trust their commitment to upholding precedent in order to uphold it. You took this same stance with Neil Gorsuch. Just because he literally wrote a book on precedent does not mean that he will uphold them. I assume that you have paid attention to the batch of SCOTUS decisions that came out last week. How many of them did Neil Gorsuch vote with the majority to overturn decades of precedent? Last time I counted, the answer is “all of them”.

Mr. Gorsuch was pre-vetted and supplied to Mr. Trump by The Federalist Society, an ultra-conservative organization dedicated to raising ultra-conservative lawyers with the goal of getting them into court seats at the State and Federal levels in order to overturn decades of social progress. Such as Roe v Wade.

Every name on Mr. Trump’s list of 25 has been pre-vetted by this group. All of them would vote for overturning Roe v Wade.

And that is not the only “settled law” that Mr. Gorsuch, and whomever Mr. Trump nominates, would overturn. Considering their judicial origin, also on the potential chopping block are marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, the American With Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, and maybe even Brown v Board Of Education.

In other words, every single piece of Civil Rights legislation and judgement for the past 60+ years is in YOUR hands.

I therefor urge you to vote “no” on whomever Mr. Trump nominates. I would even urge you to withhold voting altogether.

In 2016, when Justice Scalia died, your leader, Mitch McConnell stated that he would refuse to entertain even any discussion of a replacement nomination “because it’s an election year” and The People should have a say in the next election. 2018 is an election year. If what he said two years ago is true, it’s also true today.  He then went on to break the precedent and change the rules. If this is supposed to be a non-partisan position, then changing the rules to allow a confirmation on a mere simple majority is a betrayal of that, and the prior rule of requiring a supermajority of 60 “yea” votes must be restored.

You allowed yourself to be lied to and betrayed last year with the vote on the tax bill that has decimated the Affordable Care Act. Learn from your mistake. I assume you have principles, though you split hairs so fine to justify your votes it’s hard to tell at times. Assuming you still have any, it is time and past time to make principled stand and stick to it. All of Maine is watching. All of America is watching. All of the word is watching.

Jeffrey Kaplan
Biddeford, ME

Patriotism in 2018

On this Fourth of July, in the year 2018, celebrating the 242nd Anniversary of the American Declaration Of Independence from an oppressive government that disregarded the wants and needs of its American citizens, it is well worth it to contemplate Patriotism.

Patriotism, as defined by Merriam-Webster: “love for or devotion to one’s country”

Note that it does not say love or devotion to the current government, or to any elected official. In fact, it can be, and often has been, argued that Patriotism demands holding the government to task for what they do and what they fail to do.

To those that claim that those who criticize Donald Trump and his administration are lacking in patriotism because he’s the president, I have one basic thing to say:

BULLSHIT!

If they really thought that, then by their own definitions, these people have shown a complete lack of patriotism when Barak Obama was President.

Because Patriotism is loyalty to the country, not to any specific person, if the person in high office is acting in a way that is detrimental to the country, it is therefore a patriotic duty to hold them responsible. It is therefore a patriotic duty to dissent. It is a patriotic duty to resist. Loyalty to the person is in fact incompatible with patriotism, because you are putting the person above the country regardless of what that person is doing to the country.

The Declaration of Independence, the signing of which is celebrated 242 years ago today, calls out for dissent and opposition to Trump’s administration where it says as the second paragraph

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

What has Trump done that warrants a Patriotic dissent and resistance? Here’s a partial list:

  • He insults our allies and defers to our enemies
  • He installs department heads that are unqualified on the face of it and who’s missions are to dismantle their departments
  • He is personally profiting from being President beyond a paycheck by not distancing himself from his businesses
  • He is personally profiting from being President beyond a paycheck by manipulating the stock market
  • He ignores the evidence-based consensus of his own Intelligence services regarding enemy cyberwarfare against the United States and takes the unproven word of a sworn enemy instead
  • He claims victory in talks with a hostile foreign leader when he gave what they wanted and got nothing in return, ignoring evidence of his failure
  • Demands certain concessions to agree to a basic principle, then moves the goal posts
  • Enacts a policy of “zero tolerance”, lies about who’s policy it is, claims it’s up to another branch of the government to fix it, then only under pressure from his wife and daughter enacts an Order that only partially rescinds it and attempts to make things worse
  • Falsely claims “national security” to impose import tariffs on our allies triggering global trade wars with allies and other trade partners
  • Directly and implicitly Incites violence against the Media
  • Directly and implicitly incites violence against people of color, other religions and refugees

I could go on and on, but as I said, this is only a partial list.

Trump shreds the Constitution

The United States Constitution, including all 27 Amendments, effects all persons within the borders of the United States including territories and possessions regardless of their legal status or how they got here. This includes all rights, privileges, and obligations.

Donald Trump is shredding the United States Constitution. He is now advocating depriving “undocumented immigrants” their due-process rights as guaranteed by the US Constitution.

Then there is this one, from May: The Trump Organization, owned and still operated by Donald Trump and his children who are also employees of Donald Trump as “Advisers”, has stated that they are not going to bother to separate out moneys taken in from foreign business interests, in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution which prohibits government employees from the acceptance of gifts, titles and money from foreign entities lest they cause or appear to cause a preference to that foreign entity over that of the United States’ interests. Why? Because it’s “not practical”. Whether hired, appointed or elected, Donald, Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka and Melania Trump are all employees of the US Government. And collectively, several of them, specifically including Donald, own, manage or hold stake in the Trump Organization.

 

1 crying Honduran girl vs 2000

This one instance that the current regime in Washington is now harping on as an overblown response by the Democratic and otherwise Liberal side does not disprove the fact that over TWO THOUSAND children were “separated” (kidnapped, stolen) from their parents attempting to seek entry into the united states, many of whom who were trying to enter legally by seeking asylum through an official border crossing.

And the recent Executive Order that Trump had previously said he could not issue to reverse his own policies, has no provision to reunite those children with their families, seeks to makes matters worse by having the Pentagon set up what amounts to concentration camps at military bases, and will in fact self-reverse on the policy in about three weeks and resume separating (kidnapping, stealing) the children again when they fail to overturn the Flores Agreement that set the 20 day limit on child detentions in the first place. The Flores Agreement is a judgement dating back to the Reagan era.

The crying Honduran girl on the cover of Time was not separated from her mother

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to…

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to school shootings?

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to police brutality?

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to the opiod crisis?

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to domestic violence?

Did he ever invite people who were permanently separated from their children due to inability to afford medication?

 

Trump answers critics of border policy with families of crime victims

Turmp’s order to end splitting families is all show

 

 

As you have probably heard by now, to much fanfare, President Trump has signed an Executive Order reversing his own policy of separating children from their families when crossing the border from Mexico. This is insufficient. The EO was actually drafted by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

What was not as widely announced are the parts of the order that are as bad, if not worse:

Families arrested from now on will be kept together in so-called “Detention Centers”. At first, similar to the ones currently housing over 2000 children. The EO directs the Department of Homeland Security to contract with the Pentagon to start holding these families on military bases. And there are no plans to re-unite families already separarted.

Let me repeat that last bit:

There are no plans to re-unite families already separated.

Nation wide protests and demonstrations against the family separation policy are still happening. If you were planning on attending one, keep that plan. If you have a Senator or Congressperson who has not committed to supporting an existing bill or to write one to make a law to fix this, call or write them. Here in Maine, that would be Republican Senator Susan Collins and Republican Congressman (CD2) Bruce Poliquin – Independant Senator Angus King has already signed on to Senator Finestein’s bill, and Deomcratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has already co-sponsored the House version.

You can find demonstration events co-sponsored by MoveOn.org here: https://act.moveon.org/event/families-belong-together/search/

You can find out how to contact your US Senator here: https://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_correspond_senators.htm

You can find ou how to contact your US Congressperson here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Do not assume this is over, it is not. Do not become complacent. We only got this much becuase of the pressure being applied to the Senate and Congress. We MUST keep it up.

Keep Families Together

Senator Collins,

You said the other day on national TV that you do not support the Administration’s policy of breaking families apart at the border. But then you did… nothing. You have no follow-through where it counts.

You claim that The Keep Families Together Act written by Senator Feinstein is “too broad” and merely asked Donald Trump for more information. You are asking a known liar to lie to you, again.

You repeatedly claim to be a moderate, and willing to work across the aisle, but that only appears to happen on inconsequential items. You are a senior Senator, you have clout. Use it. Work with Senator Feinstein to amend her bill or find something you want that she can support in exchange for your support here. Or work with another Democratic Senator, or Senator King, to write a different bill that better suits your sensibilities.

In other words, do your job.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Kaplan
Biddeford Maine