Letters to the editor (go, team!)


Whatever happened to honor and honesty?

The Washington Post’s ‘Fact-Checker’ has been detailing President Trump’s false or misleading claims since he came into office. As of September 3rd, these claims were at the utterly astonishing level of 4,713 in 592 days. That’s an average of just under 8 a day, partly because the same falsehood is often repeated multiple times.

A President who routinely lies to the American people is the new normal. So it’s not altogether surprising that the closer the record of Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, is investigated, the more examples of potential perjury are uncovered. And this is without access to the tens of thousands of pages of Kavanaugh records that the Trump administration is refusing to release to the Senate.

Adherence to the truth is clearly not a quality that carries any weight in the Trump administration so why should he expect it of judges that he nominates to the Supreme Court? But whereas we will have the opportunity in 2020 to hold President Trump accountable for his contempt for the truth, if confirmed Judge Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court for life.

We are almost daily witnessing a meltdown in any sense of honor or honesty at the presidential level. We need to ensure that this virus does not spread to the Supreme Court. Susan Collins must not just vote ‘No’ on Kavanaugh, but must also do all in her power to mobilize the few remaining Senate Republicans who seem to have a sense of right and wrong to do the same.

Nigel Calder, Newcastle

Assault on democracy

Having sent letters and phone messages to Susan Collins’s office without any apparent effect, I am appealing to the media to make clear that many informed citizens of Maine, Democrats and Republicans alike, are appalled at Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. We have watched the administrative branch of our government become more dictatorial and thuggish almost daily, but this nomination adds a whole new dimension to the assault on democracy.

Whatever Senator Collins’s allegiances are, she must be aware that a vote for Kavanaugh is capitulation to the cynical maneuverings of organizations financed by the Koch brothers, people unconcerned with quality of life on this planet and responsive only to the demands of Big Money.   If Trump has his way, the devastating effect on our justice system  could not be  reversed for decades.  

 Unless she opposes the elevation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, I believe Senator Collins will lose whatever credibility she retains among responsible voters as a legislator concerned about people among the 99% and the health of the planet we all depend on, rich or poor.

Brooke Pacy, Waldoboro

Will This End in Tears?

For months Donald Trump has made almost daily frontal attacks on the rule of law and done everything in his power to undermine and halt the Mueller investigation into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 election. At the same time he has branded all media which is in the least bit critical of him as “the enemy of the people”. The Republican Party, the only body in the country with the power to rein in the President in the short term, has either actively supported him or else remained quiescent. The Party has become Donald Trump’s principal enabler, failing abysmally to protect us from his assaults on two of the core pillars of our democracy. This has left the embattled judiciary as the principal remaining restraint on the President.

Between the Mueller investigation and Donald Trump’s implication in Michael Cohens’ confessed election crimes, there is an ever increasing likelihood that the President’s legal issues will end up in the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s latest nomination for the Supreme Court, believes in an expansion of the power of the Presidency (a “unitary executive”). This is a deeply troubling concept at a time when the Presidency is constantly over-reaching. Kavanaugh has explicitly stated that he does not believe a sitting President can be held accountable for his/her crimes while in office (“I believe that the president should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office” and “we should not burden a sitting president with civil suits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecution”). In the current situation, Kavanaugh’s nomination is highly inappropriate.

The Republicans are now trying to ram Kavanaugh’s confirmation through the Senate. Can you imagine the outrage on the Republican side if a sitting Democratic president in a similar position to Donald Trump made a similar nomination and did so less than three months before an election? Remember, this is the same Republican Party that held up Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court for eight months on the basis the nomination should not proceed that close to an election (it should be noted that Senator Susan Collins argued for confirmation hearings to be held). It is a measure of the extent of the hypocrisy within the Republican Party that those who enforced the delay with respect to Merrick Garland are now opposed to a similar delay with respect to Brett Kavanaugh. We should demand at the very least that the confirmation is put off until after we, the people, have had a chance to vote in November.

It seems almost daily the Republican Party surrenders one step more of the moral high ground to Donald Trump’s contempt for the norms and underpinnings of our democracy. Hopefully, this will end in tears for the Republican Party before it does lasting damage to the country.

Nigel Calder, Newcastle

Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings

Do you remember the arguments that took place just a few months ago around the Republican tax cut bill, and specifically the attack on the Affordable Care Act which was buried within this bill? The tax cut act that was passed will ultimately deprive thousands of Mainers of health care insurance and drive up premiums for many of those that remain insured. Senator Susan Collins initially stated she would not vote for the tax cuts unless these provisions were removed from the bill, and then said she would only vote for the tax cuts if a couple of other bills mitigating the health insurance damage were first passed, and then said she would only vote for the tax cuts if there was a commitment to pass these mitigating bills immediately after the tax cuts were passed, and then, in the face of a clear statement from Paul Ryan, the Republican leader of the House, that these mitigating bills stood no chance in the house, she voted for the tax cuts anyway, and has subsequently allowed the timeline on the mitigating bills to extend into never-never land.

We appear to be going through the same cycle of obfuscation and deception once again with the Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has authored opinions that are clearly contrary to a women’s right to control her own body, and specifically contrary to the right to abortion embodied in Roe versus Wade (he has, for example, cited  “many precedents holding that the Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion”). Senator Collins has said that her support for any candidate is conditional on upholding Roe versus Wade. During a two-hour conversation with Kavanaugh, she was told that he viewed Roe versus Wade as “settled law”. This is far from saying that Roe versus Wade was correctly decided. In fact Kavanaugh has repeatedly refused to state this, and has expressed support for the dissenting opinions. Senator Collins knows perfectly well that “settled law” is not a commitment to defend Roe versus Wade. It is just as meaningless as the ‘commitments’ the Senator secured on health insurance during the tax bill debate. Nevertheless, she appears to be positioning herself to use the “settled law” statement as a fig leaf to justify a vote for Kavanaugh and to cover another abandonment of a so-called ‘core’ position.

We have been here before with respect to the Supreme Court. As part of his confirmation hearings last year, and at least in part to secure Senator Collins’ vote, Neil Gorsuch repeatedly declared his deep respect for legal precedence. During his first year on the Supreme Court he voted to overrule three Supreme Court precedents (Janus v. AFSCMEAbbott v. Perez and South Dakota v. Wayfair).

It may be possible to give Susan Collins the benefit of the doubt on the tax cut bill, and to believe she was hoodwinked by the Republican leadership, but it is not possible to extend this to the Kavanaugh nomination. If she is to maintain any credibility as a moderate Republican who puts the interests of her constituents ahead of voting a party line that is increasingly driven by extremists, she needs to find the courage to vote for the women of Maine and against the Kavanaugh nomination.

Terrie Frisbie, Newcastle

Frustrated by your silence

I want to publicly ask Senator Susan Collins who has not answered the query I sent to her three times on her site and once had hand delivered to her office in Washington, DC.

Noting that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the current candidate for the Supreme Court, had second thoughts and regretted involvement under the tutelage of Kenneth Starr, in the second pursuit of the sitting President, Bill Clinton, after the  Whitewater investigation  was dropped by Congress. Judge Kavanaugh later told an audience at Georgetown University Law Center, “It makes no sense at all to have an independent counsel looking at the conduct of the president.”   

The Judge has indicted that Roe v. Wade is “settled law”.  However, second thoughts, like the one above, prompted me to write a letter to ask whether Senator Collins would ask Judge Kavanaugh the following question: “Would you have second thoughts about “settled law” if overturning  Roe v Wade were to be contemplated by the Supreme Court?”

Can you as my Senator commit to asking that exact question and if not, please explain to me and the voters of the State of Maine, why not? 

Jerry Lieberman 

Historical Republican values?

On August 8, 2016 Senator Susan Collins wrote this in the Washington Post:

I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican. But Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.

Since then her behavior has been anything but “unsupportive” for our most divisive and a-traditional President who makes sport of protocol, denigrates other colleagues, behaves in a way not befitting any leader of the free world, and ignites a spirit of hate and intolerance.

Senator  Collins stopped answering her phone and sent all calls directly to voicemail soon after  January 2016, maybe because we – her constituents – were frequently phoning with our dismay at the Cabinet nominees, the behavior…I’m not sure.

 Now when I leave a message, as I must, and request a response (either through voicemail or if I contact her via her email server), it is “content-free” – lacking in substance.

 The Senator has previously stated her support of Reproductive Rights and the Affordable Care Act.  On the first, she appears willing to trade her ethics on the basis that Judge Kavanaugh said he believes in “settled law”. This is a disingenuous response that commits him to nothing. He was accused of being not completely truthful at his Appeals Court nomination in 2006, so why should he be trusted now? What we do know is that he has often expressed frightening opinions on topics such as denial of habeas corpus in a case of a Guantanamo detainee, and whether or not the president is subject to the rule of law. 

Every day more information is published which gives me a “reasonable doubt” as to Kavanaugh’s suitability for the Supreme Court, not because he’s not intelligent or capable, but because he would treat this lifetime appointment as a platform for his own partisanship and views. 

Senator Collins has said she can’t support a candidate who will overturn Roe v Wade.   But she also allegedly only voted for the Tax bill because she thought she’d save ACA stabilization and she was then denied this by her colleagues who continually betray their own party and its principles.She now appears to be moving towards voting for Kavanaugh as she continues her slide into the divisive world of Donald Trump and away from her commitment to historical Republican values.

Patricia Manning, Damariscotta

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