Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Friends

From The Politico:

Last weekend, the prestigious black-tie, closed-to-press Alfalfa Club dinner featured former Secretary of State Colin Powell, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, a host of members of Congress and, of course, President Bush. But we hear it wasn't the campaign digs of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) that raised eyebrows, but rather Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and her chumminess with GOP Svengali Karl Rove.

Sources say the two seemed to be enjoying a grand old time together, laughing and being very playful, which has the chattering class, well, chattering.


We tried to find out whether Collins is Rove's BFF, but he e-mailed that he was "running for [the] airport" and didn't elaborate. As for Collins she said: "It is a great opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends, including Karl Rove, Bill and Janet Cohen and Mary Margaret Valentini."
Rick Santorum thinks Sen. Collins is a Republican "team player."

Collins considers Rove an "old friend."

Is there any real doubt about why the junior senator failed her state and her country by refusing to probe Iraq war contracting as chair of the Governmental Affairs committee?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Collins Q4: $963K

The junior senator raised slightly under $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to $813,000 for Rep. Allen.

Allen reports cash on hand of $2.5 million, versus $3.9 million for Collins.

So the Collins camp retains a respectable but not overwhelming financial advantage: As we've said previously, money won't be the deciding factor in this campaign.

That's something everyone should be happy about.

Question Time

Senate Guru has a query for Jen Burita, Sen. Collins' press secretary.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More Santorum Blogging

Just heard back from Mike Lux, who clarified a couple of things about his Amtrak encounter with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

First, Lux says there's no doubt that the man sitting behind him was indeed Santorum. Say Lux:

I introduced myself, saying "You look familiar" to which he replied "I'm former Senator Rick Santorum".
So that's settled.

Lux also confirms what his post implied: He has no doubt that Santorum was citing Sen. Collins as a quintessential example of a "Republican team player"--someone who looks out for the best interests of the party whenever possible.

Finally, here's your moment of zen.

They Write Letters

Jen Burita, Sen. Collins' communications director--or is she candidate Collins' campaign spokesperson?--writes a letter to the Kennebec Journal:

The assertion that Collins has been anything but a leader on oversight issues related to Iraq and federal contracting is absolutely false. Collins' leadership in exposing waste, fraud and abuse in federal contracting and in asking tough questions is well known.

For example, in August 2006, she chaired a hearing to examine waste and fraud in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
Psst: Hey, Jen. The war in Iraq started in, um, two thousand and three.

Is this really the best gloss that Collins' in-house spinmeisters can put on her performance? That it took her more than three years to get around to anything resembling Iraq oversight?

Even though oversight of government contracting was at the core of her job as chair of the Government Affairs Committee?

Look. This is not funny. Billions of dollars, and perhaps even lives, could have been saved if the junior senator had focused on the administration's corrupt, often chaotic contracting procedures in 2003, 2004 or 2005.

Even in the war's earliest days, there was plenty of evidence of a problem.

But Collins sat on her hands for more than three years.

And let's be blunt about why: She did it in deference to her pal President George W. Bush.

Burita can try to dress up the junior senator's feckless cowardice however she wants. But the truth is as ugly as it is clear: When her country needed her to be a leader, Collins chose to be a Republican "team player."

UPDATE: More here and here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

This Is Interesting

Open Left blogger Mike Lux shares an odd story about a Thursday train ride--Lux says he found himself sitting directly in front of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

The story is worth reading in full, but here's the nugget of most interest to fellow Sen. Collins watchers:

So pretty much the whole trip this guy [Santorum] is working his cell phone, talking to people about how anyone is better than McCain and Giuliani would be better than McCain because then at least he wouldn't betray the conservative movement...yeah, Giuliani is bad on some issues like abortion, but at least he would stand with the conservative movement. He was saying that there are people like Susan Collins who vote moderate sometimes, but at least she is a team player who always plays with the team and never plays against the conservative side even if she has to give the liberals a vote because she's from Maine. But McCain will sometimes go against the team even when he doesn't have to.
I don't know of Lux, and hadn't previously come across his name.

But his bio at Huffington Post lists him as a former Clinton White House aide and former Senior Vice President at People For The American Way. So it's hard to brush off his account.

I've gone ahead and tried to get in touch with Lux. I'll let you know what I find out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Creeping Fascism?

They write letters:

I am disgusted by Sen. Olympia Snowe's stated position on the inclusion of immunity for telecoms in the FISA bill and justifications for it.

Conspiracy to violate the rights of U.S. citizens never merits a free pass, and the argument that this immunity is only for civil suits fails to take into account that those are the only available remedy, since the Bush administration has frequently demonstrated that it would never take action to punish its own criminal behavior or that of its corporate accessories.

Collusion of government and corporate interests to violate the rights of individuals is not new--in fact, it was given a formal name many years ago--fascism. It took much too long for the elected officials of the United States to act against it then, and it appears that many, like the senator, are willing to countenance it now for the sake of political convenience.

Maine citizens have taken independent action in the court to defend their constitutional rights, since the current administration seems intent on stripping them.

Sens. Snowe and Susan Collins are acting to slam the courtroom door in their faces to protect the Bush administration and those corporate executives who were willing to violate the law and constitutional rights.

Dennis N. Fortin


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

NYT: Collins Huge Disappointment

The New York Times weighs in with a web editorial blasting Sen. Collins:

The Supreme Court has lurched far to the right in recent years...This shift has occurred in large part because moderate Republicans have voted in virtual lockstep with the administration on judicial nominations.

One of the greatest disappointments on this score has been Susan Collins of Maine, who is now up for re-election. Ms. Collins bills herself as a strong supporter of choice-- something that has added to her reputation for independence--but she has rubber-stamped judges who are doing great damage to the right to choose...

People for the American Way, a liberal group, has unveiled this new anti-Collins ad starring actress Kathleen Turner. In the ad, Ms. Turner declares that Ms. Collins "didn't stand up for our rights. She stood with George W. Bush."


We hope that there are more ads this year like this one--informing voters about the damage being done to the courts, and of the importance of stopping it.

Telco Immunity

Back in October, I wondered about the junior senator's position on granting retroactive immunity to telco companies who illegally disclosed customer records.

Finally, we have an answer: She's for it.

Even though Maine's own attorney general--currently investigating Verizon's illegal activities in this area--has more or less begged her to oppose it.

Even though retroactive immunity sends the ugly, illiberal message that the law doesn't apply to lawbreakers who have powerful friends.

Why would any senator--let alone a reputed "moderate"--support a provision that ran directly counter to the interests of her constituents and the rule of law, while simultaneously sanctioning the invasion of every American's privacy?

I honestly can't understand it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

King Weighs In

Senate Guru flags Stephen King's remarks about the race in the Bangor Daily News. The author comes out against Sen. Collins' re-election, saying:

"We’ve had enough Bush Republicanism to last the country for a long time," he said. "We’re seeing a lot of chickens come home to roost because of Bush Administration policies. You can’t pump billions of dollars into a foreign war without it affecting the economy."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Here's Tom

Rep. Allen goes long form, re-introducing himself to Mainers.

I think it's pretty effective. What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Collins and Roe

Via TMB, we learn about a radio spot People For The American Way is running: It questions Sen. Collins' commitment to abortion rights, taking her to task for supporting the Roberts and Alito nominations. (Listen to the spot here.)

I'm very curious about whether, and to what extent, abortion will become an issue as the campaign unfolds. Clearly, the answer will depend, in part, on the national pro-choice organizations--and whether they defy their grassroots (and common sense) by endorsing Sen. Collins.

The junior senator is, of course, nominally pro-choice. But as the PFAW spot notes, she's supported judicial nominees that have taken us to the brink of a Roe v. Wade overturn. And I've yet to hear about any regrets.

In fact, there's every reason to think that if a Republican--say, anti-choice Collins favorite Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)--wins the presidential election, Collins will find herself voting to confirm the supreme court nominee who puts the nail in Roe's coffin.

Strawman Watch notices an interview of Sen. Collins, conducted by a seventh grader, that ran in the Camden Herald.

(I'll ask again: When was the last time Collins took unscreened questions from voting constituents who hadn't paid for the privilege of her company?)

The junior senator used the Q & A as opportunity to once again mischaracterize the Iraq debate:

Q: What do you think about the war?

Sen. Collins: I am concerned about the war. I think the Iraqis should take responsibility of their own country. However, we can’t take our troops out all at once.
Who, exactly, is proposing this?

If anyone knows any which malevolent forces are behind the Simultaneous Removal of All Troops Plan, please let me know.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

KJ Letters Again

Elizabeth St.Laurent of Augusta has had two pro-Collins letters published in the Kennebec Journal in the last month.

And a third Collins-touting letter she wrote ran back in April. (That one is featured on the junior senator's campaign website.)

Good for St.Laurent for getting all that ink.

But how many candidate-backing fluff letters can one person write before the KJ decides it's enough?

Monday, January 14, 2008

We Noticed

You'll remember that a couple weeks back we expressed confusion about Sen. Collins' curious, questionable alliance with State Department official Stuart Bowen.

Today, the Washington Post--in a piece aptly-titled "It's Maine. Who's Going to Notice?"--unpacks some of that confusion, and answers a few of our questions:

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr., whose own office is under investigation by the FBI and three other entities for waste and mismanagement, raised a few eyebrows last week when he showed up in Maine with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and told the state's leading paper she was the "most consistent and effective supporter of our oversight in Iraq."

Collins is in a tight reelection battle in a blue state where the war, and her prior support for it, could be a critical factor. Last year she helped save Bowen's office, which has exposed enormous waste and fraud in the Iraq rebuilding effort, after House Republicans tried to kill it.

Bowen, a former top aide to President Bush in Texas, last week went to Maine with Collins to speak at a college and then joined her at an editorial board meeting of the Portland Press Herald-Maine Sunday Telegram, where he praised her for supporting him.

His trip didn't go unnoticed in Washington. A senior State Department official said he was "puzzled" by Bowen's appearance alongside Collins. "I wondered what he was doing," the official said. "This is the kind of thing we're taught not to do."
Let's be fair: It's not as if Sen. Collins has single-handedly politicized the executive branch.

But her willingness--and seeming eagerness--to participate in the Bowen charade shows poor ethical judgment: An inspector general's legitimacy depends on a perception of independence and political neutrality, and Collins ought to know that.

It also underscores that for whatever reason, seven years in, the junior senator still desperately craves the Bush administration's seal of approval.

(And by the way, if Collins has been the "most consistent and effective supporter of our oversight in Iraq" then Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is a pacifist.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Collins and Rove

Gerald over at TMB posts an anonymous YouTube attack on Sen. Collins.

The argument it makes isn't new, but the piece includes an interesting bit of footage that I haven't seen before--a CNN clip of the junior senator walking with Karl Rove.

It seems likely to me that we haven't seen the last of that particular clip.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Q & A

Sen. Collins will be taking questions from Berwick middle schoolers this afternoon.

When was the last time she took questions from real live Maine voters in an open forum?

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Team Player

The brand new Maine Owl blog has a long, detailed post taking us back to 2004 and the oil-for-food scandal, and exploring Sen. Collins' response at the time.

It's instructive because, as Maine Owl notes, it demonstrates the junior senator's hypocrisy: Collins was up in arms about the corruption of that program, but curiously silent when it came to her own country's corrupt and wasteful Iraq contracting procedures.

Even though the Iraq contracting failures were far more costly to the American taxpayer. And even given the fact that--as chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee--she was literally the best positioned pol in the country to end the cronyism and spur reform.

The hypocrisy is just further evidence of Collins' long history as a great "team player" for the Republican party.

She's first in line to express shock and dismay when it fits the GOP agenda. But when the Bush administration is at fault, not so much.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

100 Years?

The junior senator's preferred Republican nominee for President, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), would be perfectly happy for the United States to be in Iraq for 100 years.

Does the Maine co-chair of McCain for President agree?

The Big Picture

If you're Sen. Collins, you've got to be happy with where the race stands as we move into 2008.

According to the most recent public poll, you're 17 points ahead of your challenger and above the 50% threshold; your opponent's arguments haven't gained traction with the media; and even after seven years of near-unwavering support for the Bush administration's reactionary agenda, your reputation as a centrist remains more or less intact.

You've also raised plenty of money, and your corporate friends have signaled that they'll do what's necessary to keep you competitive.

On the other hand, most Mainers--and even most likely voters, I'd imagine--haven't really tuned into the 2008 senate race yet; your approval rating has dropped sharply over the last couple years; and it seems more likely than ever that energized Democrats will come out in force on election day.

Your positions on Iraq, tax cuts for the mega-rich, civil liberties and conservative judges also happen to be out of step with the preferences of your constituents.

In other words, it's your race to lose. But there are plenty of ways you could lose it.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Jonathan Kaplan takes a fresh look at Sen. Collins position on Iraq, only to see that nothing has changed.

She's still working to distance herself, rhetorically, from President Bush's tragically inept Iraq policy while continuing to oppose any and all efforts to rein him in.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Why is Sen. Collins accompanying the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction--an executive branch employee--to meetings with the editorial boards of the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News?

Not a rhetorical question. Seriously, what's that about?

In other news, the Sun Journal today identifies the junior senator as a Democrat. You'll forgive us for not being amused.