‘The Maine electorate has had it with her’: Constituents turn on Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.

Senator Susan Collins’s reputation for bipartisanship has brought her respect across the aisle over 22 years in Washington, D.C. But these days, the famously temperate 66-year-old senior stateswoman from Maine is inspiring the kind of liberal animus more typically directed at people named Trump.

“Betrayed” is a word that comes up.

“I used to think that she was kind of a voice of reason. I thought she could maybe go across the aisle and get some things done,” said Pam Cunningham, a Boothbay Democrat who voted for Collins last time around.

Collins’s vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has galvanized left-leaning activists like Cunningham, who are actively trying to unseat her in 2020 — and though they don’t yet have a candidate, they have raised nearly $3.8 million.

Early in the Donald Trump era, Collins was eyed optimistically by Democrats as someone who might save their day. But the Supreme Court vote was the latest in a string of positions Collins has taken where, after lengthy, attention-getting deliberations, she sided with the GOP. For some voters, hope in Collins has curdled into vengeance.

“The Maine electorate has had it with her not voting with the majority of her constituents,” said Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance, a statewide community organizing group that has about 32,000 members. “They no longer believe her claims to be a moderate.”

At the same time, the political mood in Maine has been volatile. The state supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, and after two terms of the combative conservative Governor Paul LePage, flipped the state government blue in November, handing Democrats the governor’s office, Senate, and House.

Given that backdrop, Democratic organizations were already viewing Collins as vulnerable. Now, they are trying to attach to her blame not only for her own votes, but for those of Kavanaugh.

When he, for instance, dissented on an abortion rights case this month, left-wing political organizations pounced on Collins. Demand Justice, a judicial advocacy group, launched a digital ad targeting Collins and warning, “We Won’t Forget.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee panned Kavanaugh’s ruling, calling him “Senator Collins’s Supreme Court Judge.”

Of course, Collins was alternately cheered by the right, which rewarded her mightily for her pivotal support for Kavanaugh. In the three months following the vote, Collins set a career high for quarterly fund-raising, drawing in nearly $1.8 million. The previous quarter, she had raised only $140,000.

“People generally like Susan Collins in Maine. I would never underestimate her,” said Brian Duff, a political scientist and associate professor at University of New England in Maine. “But I do think she’s uniquely vulnerable this go-round.”

Activists have been birddogging Collins since the opening days of the Trump administration, protesting Cabinet appointees and staging sit-ins in her office, said Marie Follayttar, a sculptor who founded Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The Maine People’s Alliance intends to knock on doors to reach hundreds of thousands of voters this year, highlighting Collins’s record and arguing that she is not representing Maine voters’ interests.

In a statement, Collins suggested she is still calling them like she sees them and pointed to a number of votes she has taken against her party — opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the nominations of Cabinet appointees Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos, for instance.

download (24).jpeg

“Often these outside groups, on both sides, want 100% fidelity to 100% of their views 100% of the time,” Collins said in a statement. “But I’ve always believed that neither side has a monopoly on good ideas and that in order to craft the best policy, you need to bring both sides to the table to find common ground.”

Collins also said she is accustomed to being in the public eye, “as a centrist who is willing to work across the aisle and who must often cast the deciding vote.”

But she said she is concerned “by the appalling hyperpartisanship that has repeatedly prevented us from getting things done on behalf of the American people.’’

Early on, when Collins bucked the Republican Party and voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Mainers gave her a hero’s welcome, literally cheering her return to the Bangor airport. But later she voted for a tax bill that would undo a key part of the health law, the individual mandate.

Then, the signs greeting her at the airport simply said, “Shame.’’

“Collins had given so many Mainers hope that she would protect our health care with her votes against the repeal of the ACA,” said Follayttar.

While Collins had long carefully honed her reputation as a moderate, Duff pointed to recent votes he views as “obviously problematic,” including her support for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and her vote for a tax cut package that will increase the deficit.

“She has very little chance of explaining that vote in a way that makes sense to Maine voters,” Duff said.

Conversely, he thought she was consistent in her vote for Kavanaugh, which she painstakingly explained it in a 45-minute floor speech in October. “It was articulate, thoughtful, consistent with the way she has spoken and voted through her career,” he said.

That wasn’t the way that Collins’s critics heard her speech, however.

“I have never been so disappointed in anybody in my life,” said Laurie Fear, an addictions counselor and activist who lives in Portland.

That was also an ugly and trying period for Collins, who faced protesters at home and at her offices, whose aides fielded rape and death threats. Her house was visited by a haz-mat team after she received an envelope purporting to contain ricin. Activists sent to her 3,000 coat hangers, symbolizing the tools of back-alley abortions that activists say women would resort to if Kavanaugh helped roll back abortion rights.

Anti-Kavanaugh activists also raised money and pledged to donate it to Collins’s next opponent if she voted to confirm the nomination. She called that tantamount to bribery.

“Anyone who thought I would auction off my vote to the highest bidder obviously doesn’t know me. I made my decision based on the merits of the nomination,” she said. “This effort played no role in my decision-making whatsoever.”

That is heartbreaking to such people as Cunningham — who joined other Maine women to meet Collins in Washington in hopes of persuading her to vote against Kavanaugh.

She opened up to Collins about her own attempted rape, which she had seldom spoken of, in the hopes of explaining why a woman would not immediately report a sexual assault, as was the case with the women who accused Kavanaugh.

“We all thought maybe our stories would get through to her on a personal level, a woman-to-woman kind of thing,” said Cunningham.

Later, Collins sent her a form letter that mentioned that very meeting with survivors of sexual assault as evidence of the thorough deliberations she undertook in making the decision. “She was using my story to try to portray herself in a favorable light,” Cunningham said. “I really don’t think she did take our opinions into consideration.”

Ariel Linet, a disability attorney and Portland constituent who called and visited Collins’s offices trying to urge her to vote against Kavanaugh, said she no longer views Collins as a moderate.

“I don’t think that she’s taken any brave stances against her party,” she said. “I think she’s hemmed and hawed a lot and ultimately always toed the party line.”

https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/387413/fund-susan-collins-future-opponent

Indigenous Peoples Day – Jacqui Voltaire

While this is about the experience in Canada this is what was happening at the same time in the US. It is important that these truths get out. I am sorry for those who do not have Facebook who cannot see the whole thing. But below that is a you tube video that is part of it you can view. Imagine both Canada and the US were out to rid both countries of all Natives and through all of that, they are still here. We can not erase the wrongs our ancestors did, but we can share the truths and call out all who were responsible then and those still doing damage in so many ways to the Native people today.  Below the videos is a hearing happening Monday feb.11th 10AM to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day for the entire state of Maine. Please share.
Love,jacqui
STOLEN CHILDREN – CATHOLIC RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL
 The State and Local Government Committee has scheduled a public hearing on this bill for 2/11 at 10 a.m.  It will be held at the Cross Building Room 214.
We need a critical mass of enlightened citizens to add Maine to the growing list of states who have made the move to add Columbus Day to the ash heap of history.
 
An Act To Change the Name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
 (L.D. 179) Bill “An Act To Change the Name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day” (HP0142) (Presented by Representative COLLINGS of Portland) (Cosponsored by Senator CARPENTER of Aroostook, Representative GALGAY RECKITT of South Portland, Representative MAXMIN of Nobleboro, Representative PERRY of Calais, Representative RYKERSON of Kittery, Representative TALBOT ROSS of Portland, Representative O’CONNOR of Berwick, Representative CARDONE of Bangor)

Please reach out to show your support for finally denying this myth continued celebration.  The time has come to honor the first people of this land. Support LD 179 Change the Name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day

Racism, sexual assault lead to political crisis in Virginia

Opponents demand Governor Northam’s resignation over alleged involvement of three top elected officials in racism and sexual assault.

by

It has been turbulent days in the US state of Virginia. The three top elected officials of the state are embroiled in scandals involving race and sexual assault.

Protesters and political opponents have been calling for Governor Ralph Northam’s resignation.

Maine: Drunk driver Joseph Busch, 26, causes 3-car crash in Norridgewock

Deputies said Joseph Busch’s blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit when he tried to pass a vehicle in Norridgewolk and caused a three-car crash.

NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — Somerset County sheriff’s deputies responded to a three-car crash Tuesday in Norridgewock where one driver was later charged with being under the influence.

According to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, 26-year-old Joseph Busch of New Portland was driving a 2012 Nissan Altima and tried to pass 61-year-old Vaugh Mercier of Cornville on the right hand side of Madison Road.

Chief Deputy James Ross said there was not enough room for Busch to pass, and he rear-ended Mercier’s 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Norridgewock Car Crash

The impact caused Mercier’s vehicle to slide into a 2004 Dodge Stratus being driven by 48-year-old Nicole Knowles of Cornville.

Norridgewock Car Crash

Mercier was taken to a hospital by ambulance for a possible back injury.

Both Knowles and Busch were uninjured in the crash, deputies said.

The sheriff’s office said deputies at the Somerset County Jail conducted a sobriety test on Busch where his blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit.

Busch was combative with law enforcement, Ross said, and was charged with OUI with priors and criminal threatening.

In a Historic First, Senate Advances Bill to End U.S. Support for Illegal War in Yemen

NOVEMBER 29, 2018

The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a resolution to end military support for the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war in Yemen. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the Senate has voted to advance a bill to withdraw military forces from an unauthorized war using the War Powers Resolution Act. Wednesday’s vote sets the stage for a possible final vote on the measure within days, and has been seen as a rebuke of President Trump’s handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Just hours before the vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held a closed-door briefing with U.S. senators, urging them to vote against the resolution. Administration officials warned senators not to compromise ties with Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi and said U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen is necessary to counter Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

sandersbernie_112818sr_lead

Trump Sides with “Great Ally” Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi Killing

H1 trump mbs

President Donald Trump declared Tuesday he would stand by Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again. In an extraordinary written statement riddled with exclamation points and subtitled “America First,” Trump wrote, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t! That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” Trump’s statement came even after The Washington Post reported last Friday that the CIA has “high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Trump was asked by reporters Tuesday why he was siding with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies.

President Donald Trump: “Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down. They’ve helped me keep them down. Right now we have low oil prices, or relatively—I’d like to see it go down even lower, lower. But I think that it’s a very simple equation for me. I’m about ‘make America great again,’ and I’m about ‘America first.’”

Trump went on to falsely claim that Saudi Arabia was investing over $400 billion in the U.S. economy while funding hundreds of thousands of jobs. But a new report from the Center for International Policy found investment from Riyadh is responsible for less than 20,000 U.S. jobs a year and just a fraction of the investment cited by Trump.

Lawmakers Condemn Trump’s Defense of Saudi Arabia

H2 trump defending saudis

Trump’s defense of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi drew condemnation from members of Congress. Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine called the statement “yet another fawning prostration to a foreign authoritarian.” Some Republicans, including Senators Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, have joined calls for new sanctions on the Saudi royal family.

Facebook v Soros: ‘Congress must probe’

Soros Facebook montage
Facebook said it had Mr Soros investigated after he had called it a “menace”

One of George Soros’s lieutenants has called on US politicians to probe Facebook, after the social network confirmed that it had hired a PR firm to make claims about the financier.

The head of Mr Soros’s grant-making network claimed Facebook had smeared the philanthropist, adding “this needs independent, congressional oversight”.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s deputy chief, has also clarified her role.

She said she had been told of the PR firm but had not remembered its name.

The latest developments follow the social network’s decision to publish a memo by its departing communications chief, Elliot Schrage.

In it, he confirmed Facebook had directed the PR firm Definers to investigate Soros’s links to the Freedom from Facebook campaign, which is seeking the company’s break-up.

Mr Schrage added that related documents were then sent to journalists on Facebook’s behalf.

The memo had originally been sent to Facebook’s staff and had already been leaked to the news site Techcrunch .

But its re-publication by Facebook represented the first confirmation that Definers had not been engaged in a rogue operation.

Patrick Gaspard, president of Mr Soros’s Open Society Foundations, responded by calling for an official investigation, and suggested that Facebook had deliberately timed the revelation to coincide with the US Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to publishing Mr Schrage’s message, Facebook also issued an update from its chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

A week ago, she wrote written that she had not known that Facebook had hired Definers, the PR firm involved, nor knew about the work it had done on her company’s behalf.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had also described both himself and his deputy as having been kept “out of the loop”.

Ms Sandberg now acknowledges that she had in fact been told about the company.

“Last week, I didn’t remember a firm called Definers,” she wrote.

“I asked our team to look into the work Definers did for us and to double-check whether anything had crossed my desk,

“Some of their work was incorporated into materials presented to me and I received a small number of emails where Definers was referenced.”

Sheryl SandbergSheryl Sandberg has denied being involved in Definers’ actions

Ms Sandberg added that she rejected claims that her firm had sought to put the spotlight on Mr Soros in order to exploit racist conspiracy theories against him.

“It was never anyone’s intention to play into an anti-Semitic narrative against Mr Soros or anyone else. Being Jewish is a core part of who I am and our company stands firmly against hate,” she wrote.

‘Menace to society’

Some company-watchers have suggested that Facebook’s decision to publish the memo marks an attempt to protect Ms Sandberg.

She had reportedly angered “many people” within her firm by attempting to distance herself from the controversy, according to an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal, which said she had a reputation for closely managing Facebook’s media strategies.

Mr Schrage wrote that he took responsibility for the affair.

He said that his team had only asked Definers to look into Mr Soros after the billionaire had described the social network as being a “menace to society”.

But Mr Schrage provided no evidence that Mr Soros was more directly involved in the campaign.

And although he acknowledged that he “should have known of the decision to expand [Definers’] mandate,” he did not address specifically how he thought the PR firm had overstepped the mark.

His memo did, however, touch on the fact that Facebook has become prone to leaks.

“I’m deeply disappointed that so much internal discussion and finger pointing has become public,” Mr Schrage wrote.

“This is a serious threat to our culture and ability to work together in difficult times.”

President Cook

The New York Times has also published a follow-up report to its original expose about Facebook and Definers.

Tim CookDefiners is accused of having worked against Tim Cook

It contains claims that Definers also engaged in a campaign against Apple at a time the PR firm was working for the chip-maker Qualcomm – the two tech firms are involved in a long-running legal battle.

The report alleges that Definers promoted the idea that Tim Cook might seek to become US President in 2020, which the newspaper suggested had been done to undermine the Apple chief executive’s relationship with President Trump.

The BBC has contacted all three companies for comment but has not had a response.

The NYT did, however, publish a statement from Definers saying its work was “absolutely no different than what public affairs firms do every day for their clients across industries and issues across the country”.