Thursday, October 27, 2011

Collins: Palestinian PM Concedes UN Error

Sen. Collins:

[Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and I] discussed the PA's unilateral appeal to the UN to grant recognition to a Palestinian State, a move that I strongly oppose. He seemed to concede that this approach was a mistake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

Via Andrew Sullivan, here's former Sen. Rick Santorum:

"We'll repeal Obamacare and get rid any idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage. One of the things that I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the sexual liberty idea and many in the Christian faith have said, you know contraception is okay. It's not okay because it's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
Sen. Collins worked to re-elect Santorum in 2006. (And no, this isn't much more outrageous than the kinds of things he was saying at the time.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Define "Open-Ended"

Sen. Collins:

"I have never supported an open-ended and unconditional commitment of U.S. troops in Iraq. However, I do remain concerned that many U.S. military officials have repeatedly said that they believe a residual force of U.S. troops might have to remain in order to continue training Iraqi troops to help ensure that the significant gains we have made there, at great cost to American blood and treasure, are not lost."
Flashback to May, 2007:
CNN reports that Sen. Collins "will consider calling for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq if sufficient progress has not been made in the country by September."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Ayotte Amendment

Via e-mail, ACLU of Maine Executive Director Shenna Bellows says that her organization is "very concerned" about Sen. Collins' vote in favor of the Ayotte amendment, which would have banned the use of civilian courts for many terrorism cases.

Some more background from an ACLU prepared statement:

The failure of the Ayotte amendment...should be a wake-up call to anyone who still thinks there is a binding deal for the National Defense Authorization Act detention provisions. Top leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee have repeatedly said they struck a deal on detention issues when the Committee passed its bill behind closed doors earlier this year. But now it turns out that literally all six Republicans on the Armed Services Committee who supported the NDAA detention deal by voting against a nearly identical Ayotte amendment in committee markup (McCain, Graham, Wicker, Chambliss, Scott Brown, and Collins) flipped sides this morning and voted for the Ayotte amendment.

“It should be clear now that the bipartisan NDAA detention 'deal' is a farce.
Sen. Snowe also supported the amendment.

Quote of the Day

Lawrence Lessig:

Forget the 99 percent. We are the 99.95 percent of people who have never maxed out in a Congressional election campaign by giving the maximum amount. It is .05 percent of America who have given $2500 in the last election to a Congressional candidate, .05 percent, and Congress listens to them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Drum Roll Please

We're excited to announce the 2012 Margaret Chase Smith Journalism Award competition.

The $100 award, named after an American who spoke uncomfortable truths to powerful people, will go to a Maine journalist with the fortitude to press elected officials to answer difficult, important questions.

For the 2012 round, the award will be given to the first Maine-based reporter who asks Sen. Snowe or Sen. Collins how she would balance the federal budget and then provides readers/viewers/listeners with the context necessary to assess the plausibility of the answer and see how it squares with the pol's legislative record.

Fine print:

--No, this is not a joke.

--Want to make a commitment of $5 toward the $100 prize to help defray our costs? E-mail us at the address at right.

--The contest period begins today. The deadline for eligible reporting is October 13, 2012.

--Maine-based print, radio and TV journalists are eligible for the prize. Reports must run on Maine TV, radio or in the print edition of Maine newspaper to be eligible. (Sorry, no blog posts.)

--Judgments as to eligibility will be made by Collins Watch at our sole discretion.

--Judgements as to whether a particular piece of reporting meets the award criteria will be made by Collins Watch at our sole discretion.

--No application necessary. $100 prize will be sent automatically to the author of the first piece of reporting that meets the award criteria.

--Collins Watch reserves the right to grant no award if no Maine-based reporting is found to qualify during the award period.

--Collins Watch reserves the right to amend the rules governing the award at any time, as necessary.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No On Nathan

In spite of no votes from Sen. Collins and Sen. Snowe, the nomination of Alison Nathan to US District Court was approved today by the US Senate. She will become only the second "out" lesbian to serve in the federal judiciary.

It's not clear why Collins opposed the nomination--there's no explanatory press release on her website as of this writing.

But given her support for truly fringe Bush administration nominees like Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, you'd think she might want to explain her decision to vote against a trailblazer like Nathan, about whom Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine said, via e-mail, "[her] qualifications are superb and [her] presence reflects the diversity of our country."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Collins Filibusters Jobs Bill

Sen. Collins, who played a pivotal role in shaping the largest Keynesian stimulus in US history just three years ago, has voted to block even a debate on the administration's jobs bill:

Collins said, the administration's "take it or leave it" proposition in an effort to score political points persuaded her to vote against the bill. She added that the administration also changed the bill to retain "sweetheart tax breaks for the five biggest oil and gas companies."
Got that? Unemployment is at 9%. Incomes are falling. The middle class is struggling mightily.

But since the administration went ahead and offered a "take it or leave it" proposal (which was somehow substantially rewritten just days ago) everyone should suffer.

And besides, the bill didn't get rid of tax breaks which have nothing to do with its goal. Ergo, the whole thing is a bad idea.

To call this incoherence is to be way too generous.

Which is why Collins ought to be pressed to explain herself more clearly, and to offer something closer to an honest explanation for her vote.

If only there was a group of people--a corps you could say--whose job it was to report back to their fellow citizens about what accountable representatives are up to and why...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Collins Defends Scott Brown

After Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren noted--in response to a debate question referencing Sen. Scott Brown's (R-MA) nude Cosmopolitan centerfold--that she had "kept [her] clothes on" while paying for law school, Brown had a sharp, tart response: "Thank God."

Too bad it was classless, ugly and kind of icky.

But that hasn't stopped Sen. Collins from coming to the aid of the Brown campaign's furious spin operation:

Collins similarly turned the spotlight on Warren, saying Brown was "merely responding" to comments first made by the Harvard professor, in which she "made light of the difficult choices in his life"--a reference to Warren's recent jab at Brown's decision to pose nude for a magazine in his 20’s.
Set aside Collins' one-sided take on what transpired. Set aside her decision to use "difficult choices" as a euphemism for Brown's decision to pose nude.

Remember, Collins is a civility scold. She's literally made a career out of the proposition that our country would be stronger if politicians treated each other more politely.

And yet Scott Brown comes along and says "thank God" Elizabeth Warren didn't take her clothes off. And we all know exactly what he means. And Collins doesn't just give Brown a pass. She defends him.

It's enough to make you wonder.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The "Small Business" Canard

There's been a noticeable improvement in the quality and diversity of political writing on BDN Op-Ed page in recent months. This piece from Nate Libby, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, exemplifies the trend:

Small-business owners know what's happening in our communities because we serve and employ the workers who make our local economies thrive.


Too often, we hear arguments for "business-friendly" policies that don’t match up with our experience--mostly coming from big-business lobbyists who claim to speak for our interests. The latest example is the “business” support for Sen. Susan Collins' "regulatory time out" and "regulatory accountability" proposals.


Take the "time out" proposal, which puts a freeze on new health and workplace safety rules or standards. When a football team calls a time-out, play stops on the field. But that's not what Sen. Collins is proposing at all. She is proposing to let big polluters, big banks and big insurers keep playing their games, but to take the officials out of the game so they can't throw flags on penalties.

Who wins in that situation? The big guys do. And who loses? The little guys.
It's striking to see a Maine small business owner--let alone the leader of a 2,500 business coalition--calling out Collins' bogus "small business" posturing. But Libby's basic point in the piece isn't controversial--at least not in the small business community.

The fact is, very few business owners spend their days obsessing about government regulations.