Challenger blasts Snowe votes
November 12, 2005
PRESQUE ISLE - U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright Saturday criticized Senator Olympia Snowe for her vote Thursday (Nov. 10, 2005) to deny detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, access to federal courts to challenge their long-term detentions. The Dixmont Democrat noted that the habeas corpus vote is just the latest denial of basic human rights by Maine's incumbent Republican Senator, the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration.

"President Bush claims his administration doesn't condone torture, yet he is ready to veto a major Pentagon spending bill if it contains an anti-torture provision. And Vice-President Cheney wants a torture exemption for the CIA," the Dixmont candidate said.

"And speaking of the CIA, the Washington Post had a story last week about CIA secret prisons in several foreign countries. The Republicans in Congress were outraged at that news report and immediately launched an investigation. Into the prisons? No, into the leak of information to the Washington Post."

Addressing the Aroostook County Democrats in Presque Isle, Hay Bright pointed out that habeas corpus, the premise that you cannot be held against your will without just cause, is embodied in the U. S. Constitution. Yet Snowe voted with the majority in the Senate to deny that basic right to hundreds of people who have been held for years by the U.S. military as "enemy combatants," without charges or access to courts. The vote, if affirmed in the House, would nullify a recent Supreme Court decision that granted such access to the detainees.

Hay Bright also lamented the mounting numbers of military deaths in Iraq, in a war the Democratic candidate has publicly opposed since before it started.

"We've topped 2,000 of our good military men and women lost in Iraq. We are now losing an average of 17 a week," she said. "There is a new report out that the wounded coming back from that war do not number 15,000, but more like 100,000, and they are not getting the care they need when they get home."

Torture, secret prisons, an illegal and unprovoked war, violation of our Constitutional concepts of freedom and justice, "these are not the American values I grew up with," Hay Bright said.

Hay Bright said that she does not want to be known "just as an anti-war candidate, but we have to deal with this elephant on the table, a Republican elephant on the table, before we can get back to focusing on a government that recognizes its responsibilities to its citizens." Hay Bright enumerated a number of other campaign issues. "A national single payer health care system - it's time. A stronger Social Security system. Fair trade laws, which means repealing NAFTA and CAFTA. Reversing the Republican war on the poor, which means full funding for LIHEAP, the low-income energy assistance program. It means making the minimum wage a living wage."

Hay Bright pointed out that Olympia Snowe last month voted with her party against a bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $6.25 an hour. "Maine's current minimum wage is $6.50, so approval of this bill would not have meant higher wages for Maine businesses to pay. But a higher federal minimum wage would have helped Maine small businesses," Hay Bright said, by forcing their competitors in low-wage states to pay workers at rates comparable to Maine's. "So Olympia Snowe not only denied low-wage workers across the country any chance at a better standard of living, but she also hurt Maine small businesses in the process." The current federal minimum wage remains at $5.15 per hour.

The rebuilding, repairing and expanding of our national infrastructure--roads, bridges, rail, air and sea ports, communication networks-- is also essential, Hay Bright said. She called for the lifting of the 80,000 weight restriction on trucks on I-95 north of Augusta, to match the 100,000 limit on most of the interstate highway system. "Right now those heavy trucks are taking side roads, state roads that we have to fix and maintain, because they are not allowed north of Augusta with that weight," she said. "And let's finish Interstate 95 all the way to northern Maine. To do that, to pay for repairs, maintenance, and new construction all across the country, we need to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthy. That's not new taxes, that's just putting some old taxes back in again."

"To turn this country around, to get our America back, we need the Democrats back in control," Hay Bright said. She urged the northern Maine Democrats to "vote for the America you want to live in." Saturday's Presque Isle visit capped a busy campaign week that included a Maine Won't Discriminate march on Nov. 5 from Orono to Bangor in advance of the gay rights referendum vote on Tuesday, a march with Veterans for Peace in the Bangor Veterans Day Parade on Friday, and appearances at two other Democratic Party county committee events, in Bath (Sagadahoc County) and Belfast (Waldo County).

Hay Bright will be attending Democratic county committee events in the coming week, in Wiscasset (Lincoln County) on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and in Lewiston (Androscoggin County) on Thursday, Nov. 17.