March 16, 2006

  1. The primary has begun - Send Money
  2. Issues updates

    1. Snowe's caving in on President's wiretapping
    2. Dubai ports deal
    3. Food Safety law passed by House
    4. Add depleted uranium to Iraq War issues
    5. Impeachment, censure, yes
  1. New radio ads
  2. Upcoming events

1. Race is on to the June 13 primary

It's official. With the passing of yesterday's filing deadline, Maine's U.S. Senate race has two candidates in the June 13 Democratic primary -- me and Orono attorney Eric Mehnert.

I want to again thank all of the more than 200 petition circulators who collected more than 3,500 signatures from all across the state, from all 16 counties, and from more than 250 cities and towns, to get my name on the ballot. And thanks to the thousands of signers themselves, whose willingness to sign those papers made it all possible.

Last week I told you that we filed 2,760 valid signatures on March 8. Well, so many petitions came in the mail late last week, after that filing, that I couldn't help myself. We sorted through them all, and Monday morning, March 13, we took an additional 29 petition forms with 225 more valid names on them, into the Secretary of State's office and added them to the previous pile, bringing the signature total to 2,985 and the petition pile to 442 individual forms. That's as close as we could get to the 3,000 maximum we were allowed to file. Since then the mail has brought us a dozen more forms and nearly a hundred more names.

I am gratified by the enthusiasm and support my campaign has elicited all across the state. It's a great way to start the primary.

Send Money -- Of course, the filing deadline was the start of the race, not the end. We have less than three months now to get the word out about this campaign, to reach the people who share our views and who want to change history by sending a pro-choice, pro-labor woman Democrat to represent Maine in the U.S. Senate. (I win this primary, and I will be Olympia Snowe's first woman opponent in her 28 years in Congress.)

In the next few weeks we will continue to organize our volunteers, setting up house parties and other events, planning for mailings, more radio ads and other ways to reach people.

But all of that takes money. And it's got to come from you. We may get major endorsements and money from like-minded organizations and traditional donors down the road, (we're working on that on several fronts) but it hasn't happened yet.

For the most part we've been operating on the money that people have spontaneously donated, by mail or on our web site.

We need more of that, a LOT more of that. Please help with what you can. All those $10, 25, $50, or $100 donations add up if we get enough of them. (If you're able, more would certainly be appreciated, up to the $2,100 limit.)

I'm willing to put myself out there, to articulate the values we share, in the hope and belief that there are enough of us to put me over the top, both in the June primary and in the general election against Olympia Snowe in November. But I need your help to do that.

It would be great if you could make a contribution by March 31, less than two weeks from now. That's the deadline for our next quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Political pundits watch those numbers carefully. So give what you can, to get this show on the road in good shape, and to keep it rolling right to the ribbon at the finish line.

And thanks.

2. Issues updates
  1. Snowe's caving in on President's wiretapping
    Olympia Snowe seems to be going out of the way these days to prove she's not a moderate anymore, that she's a go-along Republican and a Bush enabler.

    Her initial verbal outrage in December at the President's pronouncement that yes, he did violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by wiretapping American citizens without a warrant, was appropriate. But by last week, she had caved in to her party's pressure.

    Olympia Snowe's support for a small "oversight" committee that might hear what the President wants to tell them about what he's been doing, but which has no authority to do anything about anything it might see as troublesome, is inexcusable. Refusing to investigate the President's violation of this law, even to the point of making those violations retroactively legal, amounts to a dismemberment of the balance of power within the three branches of government.

    This is serious stuff, and it appears Olympia Snowe is not up to the task of protecting our rights, of protecting us citizens from the abuses of our own government.

    Olympia Snowe has become part of the problem in Washington.

  2. Dubai ports deal
    Like most Americans, I was astonished to learn about the Dubai ports deal, the plan for the United Arab Emerits to buy and run port facilities in a dozen or so U.S. ports. But I was also astonished to learn who they would be buying them from -- a British firm who already owned them.

    I am opposed to this deal, not because the UAE is an Arab nation, but because it is a foreign entity. I am opposed to ANY foreign ownership of our port facilities. That includes nice English-speaking foreigners like the British.

    They are OUR ports. Remember the "two if by sea" cry of Paul Revere? Port security is a matter of national security, and having the Coast Guard acting as cops on the water is not enough.

    Beyond the national safety issue, I have a problem with the idea of foreign corporations or foreign governments making money off our ports. That's a strange twist on the sad labor issue of "outsourcing." To coin a phrase, let's call it "in-sourcing." They buy American property, hire a few Americans as longshoremen, but take their profits home with them. WE need those profits. We need the taxes on those profits. We need to take care of ourselves first, the global marketplace be danged.

    The argument can be further made that port facilities are part of the nation's critical infrastructure, like our interstate highway system, and should be owned, maintained and run by the government, not private corporations, even American ones.

  3. Food Safety law passed by House, fate in Senate unclear
    The House of Representatives in Congress just passed a bill designed to gut food safety and labeling laws. H.R. 4167, the National Uniformity for Food Act, would eliminate current state or local laws and prevent the enactment of future laws that impose stricter requirements for food safety than current federal standards. This bill would reduce food safety laws to the federal government's "uniform" lowest common denominator, wiping out laws in at least 30 states from California to Maine.

    This federal law would nullify local and state laws that now empower consumers with essential information about what's in our food-such as toxic chemicals, mercury, potential allergens, and genetically engineered ingredients. The federal law does not set a minimum standard, it forbids states from adopting ANY standard that is beyond a federal provision.

    As an organic farmer, I am very aware of food and food labeling, and I am troubled not only by this law, but by how easily it passed the House 283-139 on March 8. The fate of this law in the Senate is unclear, and Senator Susan Collins has said it will probably not see the light of day this year. Senator Olympia Snowe has expressed tentative support for this bill, should it reach the Senate floor for a vote.

    With food safety becoming a major issue in this era of global warming and GMO plantings, we should have MORE local and state oversight of our food supply, not less. This is entirely the wrong direction for this issue to go.

  4. Add depleted uranium to Iraq War issue
    I have been reminded recently that I have not specifically mentioned the issue of depleted uranium in my anti-Iraq War remarks. Since I've long been against that absurd use of radioactive material, I will correct that oversight right now.

    We should not now use, nor should we ever have used, depleted uranium in weaponry, exposing our troops to the radioactivity while the shells are still in the vehicles before being fired, and exposing the countryside and all still-living things in it once the ordnance has been launched and exploded. I am not impressed by the fact that the inclusion of this material hardens the shells and makes them more penetrating. The inclusion of this material turns a lethal weapon of limited range and known force into a weapon of mass and long-term destruction.

    The use of this material is immoral and inexcusable and should be stopped immediately. And we should plan on cleaning up the mess it has made once we vacate a military area where it has been used.

    And of course we need to take care of the military men and women who have been harmed by exposure to this dangerous material in the course of their assigned duties.

  5. Impeachment, Censure, Yes
    I've been publicly calling for impeachment proceedings since last summer. In my prepared remarks for the Iraq Forum that Tom Allen held last July (posted here) I talk about impeachment near the end:
    ...Third and finally, I think we need to seriously look at impeachment, of impeaching a president, a vice-president, and a defense secretary for their high crimes of lying to the American people and of waging an unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, had not threatened to attack us, and did not have the means to attack us. This too is a major step for the American people and the U.S. Congress to undertake. But our Founding Fathers, in their wisdom and understanding of human nature and the potential for the misuse of vast power, provided us in our great Constitution with a way of dealing with such abuses of power. We are looking here at so much more than what the meaning of the word "is" is. As the bumper sticker says, when Clinton lied, nobody died.
    Since then I've signed on to Rep. John Conyers bill for a committee to investigate possible impeachment charges. I've also supported Sen. Russ Feingold's recent call for a censure of the President for his admitted and unapologetic violation of the FISA law.

    The list of possible routes toward impeachment has grown long:
    • the lies that got us into the Iraq war,
    • the torture of our war prisoners and "enemy combatants,"
    • the secret CIA prisons in foreign countries,
    • the denial of habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees
    • the admittedly illegal spying on Americans by the Bush administration,
    • the outing of a CIA agent by the vice-president's office,
    • the incompetence at FEMA and Homeland Security,
    • the corruption in the Iraq reconstruction contracts.

    The bottom line, of course, is that no matter how bad things get, impeachment is highly unlikely if not impossible as long as the Republicans are in control of both houses of Congress. The only way the agenda will change in the Washington is for Democrats to regain the majority. In the Senate, it means replacing six sitting Republican Senators with Democratic Senators. In Maine, the only seat we have any say about this year is the one now held by Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

    Send me to Washington and I will vote to start those investigations, and to follow through wherever they may lead.

3. New Radio Ads
We have three new radio ads that are running on Air America in the Portland area.
Imagine would have you imagining a strong, outspoken, pro-choice, pro-labor woman Democrat representing Maine in the U.S. Senate.

Inside/Outside Strategy explains the dual processes of getting us where we want to be politically.

Wiretapping takes George Bush to task over the illegal wiretapping of American citizens, and Senator Olympia Snowe's "disappointing" complicity in stopping a Congressional investigation.
The scripts of those ads are available here. And if your computer can handle them, we've posted MP3s of each ad, so you can hear them online any time you want.
4. Upcoming events
(The calendar is constantly changing. Keep an eye on it Here)

March 16, 2006 (Thursday) -- Hancock County Democratic Committee, City Hall, Ellsworth, 7 p.m. (Attorney General Steve Rowe will be the guest speaker) Jean will give a campaign update. NOTE: This will be Jean's only appearance at an HCDC regular meeting before the June 13 primary. York and Kennebec County Democrats, who also meet on the third Thursday of the month, have scheduled Jean to speak at their meetings in April and May respectively.

March 18, 2006 (Saturday) -- Dixmont Town Meeting, Etna/Dixmont Elementary School, 10 a.m. Jean will be attending as a resident of Dixmont

March 18, 2006 (Saturday) -- Penobscot County Democratic Committee, Bangor Motor Inn Lounge, Hogan Road, 2 p.m. Jean will give a campaign update

March 18, 2006 (Saturday) -- EqualityMaine Foundation 22nd Annual Awards Banquet, Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, 5:30 - 9 p.m. Jean will be attending in support of the organization

March 19, 2006 (Sunday) -- Iraq War Protest and Rally, Monument Square, Portland, 2-4 p.m. Jean is one of the scheduled speakers

March 19, 2006 (Sunday) -- Cumberland County Democratic Committee, Scarborough Municipal Building, 259 US Route 1, Scarborough, 6:30 p.m. (Maine Democratic Party Chair Pat Colwell will be the guest speaker)

March 21, 2006 (Tuesday) -- Sagadahoc County Democratic Committee, Mid-Coast Center for Higher Education, 11 Park Street, Bath, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Attorney General Steve Rowe will be the guest speaker) Jean will give a campaign update.

March 25, 2006 (Saturday) -- Real Security Hearing, University of Maine Neville Hall, Orono, 12 noon to 5 p.m. Jean is on the panel of candidates

March 29, 2006 (Wednesday) -- Gorham Town Democratic Committee, Gorham Middle School cafeteria, 7 p.m. Jean is the guest speaker