September 25, 2006

  1. Policy Briefs

    1. Torture
    2. Reimportation of prescription drugs
    3. Cuts in veterans benefits a threat to our national security
  1. Dennis Kucinich is Coming Oct. 9!
  2. Money update
  3. Volunteers needed NOW!
  4. Recent events
  5. Upcoming events

1. Policy Briefs

As we have seen, this has been a busy couple of weeks in Washington. Here are some brief notes on a few issues that I've addressed recently in talks around the state.

  1. Torture
    It is amazing to me that, here in the United States of America, Congress is discussing the fine points of torture -- what is legal, how far can we go in mistreating prisoners we are holding, without our agents being prosecuted under national and international law and treaties.

    How far we have fallen, that this is even an issue. I grew up being taught that torture is what other "bad" countries did to their enemies, and that here in America we were better than that, above that. We were the moral nation, the standard against which the rest of the world's laws and countries were judged. Our Constitution was the Gold Standard.

    Not anymore.

    But all this was predictable back in March 2002, months before the Iraq War Resolution came before Congress, when President George W. Bush decided against signing on to the International Criminal Court. A Boston Globe story starts this way:
    UNITED NATIONS -- The Bush administration will not take part in the International Criminal Court scheduled to be ratified next month and is considering removing its signature from the treaty that created it, a top war crimes envoy said yesterday.

    "The US is not and will not be part of the ICC,'' Pierre Prosper, the State Department's ambassador at large for war crimes issues, told reporters in New York.

    ...Prosper said too many doubts about the treaty remain. Among administration officials' concerns is that there are inadequate safeguards to protect US soldiers based abroad from politically motivated prosecutions.
    When I read that article back in 2002, before the Iraq War Resolution, before the Iraq War started, before the 2004 Presidential election, long before I even contemplated being a candidate for U.S. Senate, I was startled by the President's move -- not only that he would do that, but the justification that he used.

    I immediately asked myself: "What is George W. Bush planning to do that he does not want U.S. soldiers based abroad to be subject to prosecutions by the International Criminal Court?"

    It would appear that he has been answering that question many times over in the ensuing four years, with this torture "discussion" the most recent and flagrant example.

  2. Reimportation of Prescription Drugs
    Olympia Snowe has been getting some attention lately for her bill that would allow the reimportation of prescription drugs from places such as Canada. It is just the latest example of Snowe getting credit for fixing or trying to fix a problem that she was instrumental in creating.

    Olympia Snowe voted for Medicare Part D, which specifically forbade our government from negotiating for lower drug prices for participants in the program. Canada and other countries who have national health care plans successfully negotiate with American drug companies for lower drug prices for their citizens -- prices which are then a fraction of those paid by U.S. citizens.

    Under the circumstances, I think it is a good idea to allow the reimportation of these prescription drugs. However, I want people to notice that this would not be an issue if Medicare Part D mandated -- not allowed, but mandated -- negotiations of prices for prescription drugs for participants in this program.

    Another example of Snowe getting credit for trying to solve a problem she created includes the Low Income Heating Assistance (LIHEAP) money that she was able to get passed in Congress IN MARCH of this year, after winter was almost over. The previous September she voted for a budget bill that did not include this money, and it took her six months to correct that defect that she helped create. The State of Maine had to step in and cover the costs of this program, to keep our low-income people from freezing last winter. Ironically and inexplicably, Snowe's ability to get that money IN MARCH from her resistant Republican cohorts was one of the things Time Magazine pointed to as an example of how effective Snowe is in the Senate.

  3. Cuts in veteran's benefits a threat to our national security
    Providing for the Common Defense is one of the basic functions of our federal government. People called to serve our country are to be respected and appreciated.

    But a strong military is now at risk because of the policies of the Bush administration toward our veterans. We can't send our good military men and women into illegal and immoral wars, and then cut their pay, their schooling and survivor benefits, not adequately fund their health care, or the growing need for prosthetics for amputated limbs, or mental health services for PTSD. We can't continue to redeploy people time after time after time. We can't keep recalling discharged members to come serve again.

    People who are considering a career in the military are watching this unfold and are understandably concerned. They are asking themselves if they want to sign a contract with the United States of America that is only binding on them, but not on the government of the United States. And many, understandably, are deciding that they will not sign up, because they can't trust this government to uphold its end of the bargain.

    Our good military men and women are being treated badly by this current Commander-In-Chief. Our veterans are not getting the benefits, the respect, and the funding that they should expect from our government after they have completed their honorable service to our country. And potential recruits are looking at this situation and deciding that service to our country, no matter how patriotic the heart, holds too great a risk for themselves and their families.

    So the Iraq War has ramifications for our national security that go far beyond Iraq, far beyond world opinion, far beyond even the fight against terrorism. George W. Bush's treatment of the members of our military and our veterans is destroying our national security from within.

2. Congressman Dennis Kucinich Coming Oct. 9!

2004 Presidential candidate and current Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich will be in Maine Oct. 9, the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the campaign, to be held at South Portland High School around 5:30 p.m. He will be going on to another event at Wells High School later that evening.

Kucinich has endorsed my candidacy for U.S. Senate.

To make this event available to as many people as possible, we are hoping that advance contributions will cover the costs of bringing Dennis and his wife Elizabeth to Maine. People who contribute $250 or more will be listed as hosts for the event, but other amounts will certainly be appreciated. Contributions at the door will be suggested, but optional.

To contribute online to this event, click Here, and under either Occupation or Employer, add "Kucinich" to your personal data. Or send a check to our campaign office, made out to Jean Hay Bright U.S. Senate, with "Kucinich Host" in the memo line:

Jean Hay Bright U.S. Senate,
4262 Kennebec Rd.,
Dixmont, ME 04932

See you on Oct. 9th!
3. Money Update -- Only Six Weeks Left Until the Nov. 7 Election

  1. FEC 3rd Quarter ends Saturday
    Our 3rd Quarter FEC deadline is Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, so if you've been thinking about contributing to this campaign, it would be great if we could hear from you by then. Pundits and political analysts will be looking at those figures, so we want them to be as impressive as possible. And we need the money for this final push.

    Contribute what you can online Here, or send a check made out to Jean Hay Bright U.S. Senate, to our campaign office:

    Jean Hay Bright U.S. Senate,
    4262 Kennebec Rd.,
    Dixmont, ME 04932

    Our fundraising has been picking up since June. In fact, our contributions since July 1 more than doubled the amount we had raised during the entire previous 14 months that I had been running prior to the primary. We're not yet into six figures, and Olympia Snowe had more than $2 million cash on hand at the end of June, but let's see what we can do in the next few days.

    A few contributions have been sizeable checks, including the maximum contribution of $2,100 from Bangor author Stephen King. But contributions of smaller amounts have added up, and have enabled us to keep chugging away, buying those bumper stickers (third re-order just in), brochures and palm cards, lawn signs (they're in all county offices now --and they're a hot item!).

  2. TV and Radio ads next
    Next on our priority list is TV and radio ads. We're in production, and we'll be posting the ads on the web when we get them done, so you can see what your contributions will buy. But don't wait until you see them to make a contribution. Snowe spent more than $40,000 on her first media buys for her feel-good, misrepresent her record, say-nothing-not-even-that-she's-a-Republican ad that has been airing this month.

  3. House Parties
    Helping out with the fundraising are several house parties coming up in the next couple of weeks.

    • September 27, 2006 (Wednesday) - Home of Ginia Davis Wexler, Sullivan, 7 p.m.
    • October 1, 2006 (Sunday) - Home of Mariah Williams, Liberty, 4-6 p.m.
    • October 7, 2006 (Saturday) - Lawn and Labyrinth Party, home of Sara and Richard Burk, Mount Tuck Farm Road off Rte 1, Stockton Springs, 2-4 p.m.
    • October 15, 2006 (Sunday) - Home of Laurie Adams, Route 1, Camden, 2-4 p.m.
    • October 15, 2006 (Sunday) - Home in Stockton Springs, 7-9 p.m. (call for details)

4. Volunteers needed NOW!

We're also fitting House, Headquarters and Lawn Parties into the schedule. Here are a few that are coming up:
  1. Data processing in Dixmont
    The campaign momentum is picking up, but that also means that the paperwork is picking up. We need to get all the data into our system, and quickly. But volunteers will have to come to our main office in Dixmont to do that. We have several computer stations all set up, and a few volunteers have been putting in some hours here, but we need more busy fingers on those keyboards. Our critical need is in the next two weeks. If you can travel to Dixmont, give us a call. We have access to a lovely cabin just around the corner where we can put people up overnight if you want to make a couple days out of it. Give us a call at 207-234-4224.

  2. Help with our web page
    Our wonderful and hard-working volunteer webmaster Alisha Langerman is back in college, and that of course means that her spare time is getting a little scarce. At the same time (of course), our need is also picking up for more frequent postings and tweaking of our web page. Alisha says she wouldn't mind a little help posting items, press releases, alerts, to the web. If that's your special skill and talent, give David a call at 207-234-4224.

  3. Sign coordinator
    Our lawn signs are turning into a hot item, so much so that we're reordering thousands more. We need a lawn sign coordinator. We need someone who will make sure that all the people who have asked for lawn signs get them or have gotten them. All the Democratic county committees have gotten an initial stack to give out. Our sign coordinator would make sure those offices stay stocked up so we can send people to the various county headquarters to pick them up. This job takes a lot of organizational skills and attention to detail.

    Name ID is so important in Maine, and people pay attention to lawn signs, so this is a significant volunteer position. Again, give David a call at 207-234-4224.

5. Recent events

Russ Feingold's Pick a Progressive Patriot Contest
If you (or your friends) haven't done so already, you have until midnight tonight (Sept. 25, 2006) to vote for Jean in Russ Feingold's Pick a Progressive Patriot Contest. Your response is giving this campaign some much-needed visibility on the national scene. We have reports from a few days ago that your votes were putting me about in the middle of the pack, so your votes so far are making a difference.

So please, if you haven't voted yet, go here:

Results should be announced later this week.

Declaration of Peace Pledge and visit to Snowe's Bangor office on the International Day of Peace
I was among the 50 or so folks at a Declaration of Peace Pledge rally and vigil in front of the Federal Building in Bangor on Thursday, in recognition of the International Day of Peace. We then moved across the street and up the hill to Sen. Snowe's office, where 30 of us packed into the office of Snowe's staffer Gail Kelly. The stack of signed pledges (including one signed by me) was presented, along with several dozen pairs of tiny shoes, representing the thousands of Iraqi children killed in the Iraq War.

Our group, petitioning our government for redress of grievances, waited in Snowe's office for an answer to our request for her to sign onto the Pledge. When no response was forthcoming from Snowe, who was in Washington, everyone was asked to leave. Eleven of the participants refused and were arrested for criminal trespass.

Common Ground Fair
We spent all three days at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, a short 15 miles from our farm in Dixmont. Between 50,000 and 60,000 people normally coming through those gates over the fair weekend. As an organic farmer who supplied frozen raspberries and blackberries to two of the food vendors at the fair, as a current MOFGA member and a former board member, and as a member of several groups who had booths in the Social and Political Action tents, this was my fair.

We toured Gov. Baldacci around the fair on Saturday, Congressman Mike Michaud Sunday morning, and Congressman Tom Allen Sunday afternoon. The rest of the fair I met and talked with hundreds of folks at the Waldo County Democrats table, handing out campaign literature, bumper stickers and lawn signs. Despite periods of rain Saturday and Sunday, a great time was had by all.

Androscoggin County Democrats Annual Awards Banquet
Saturday night, after a full day at the Common Ground Fair, we joined with Gov. Baldacci, Congressmen Michaud and Allen at an Androscoggin County Committee banquet in Auburn honoring outstanding volunteers and legislators from Androscoggin County.

South Portland High School classes
I spent the afternoon today at South Portland High School, with the merged government, sociology and economic classes. What a great bunch! And focused questions. The 75 minutes flew by.

Then David and I went to the Cumberland Fair, and hung out with the folks at the Cumberland County Democrats booth for about three hours.
6. Calendar - Partial list of campaign events.
(If you know of an event Jean should attend, please email us).

September 26, 2006 (Tuesday) - United Bikers of Maine Candidates' Night, Pat's Pizza, Ellsworth, 7 p.m.

September 28, 2006 (Thursday) - The Ogunquit Democrat Committee Pot Luck Supper, Dunaway Center on School Street, 5:30-9 p.m.

September 30, 2006 (Saturday) -
* Address Maine College Democrats Convention, Muskie Archives building, Bates College, 9:30-10 a.m.
* Nobleboro Democratic Committee Supper with the Candidates, Nobleboro Grange, Back Meadow Road, 6 p.m.

Oct. 2, 2006 (Monday) - Maine Solar Energy Association discussion, Good Life Center, Harborside, 5 p.m.

Oct. 4, 2006 (Wednesday) - Candidates' Night, Lamoine Grange, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6, 2006 (Friday) - Candidates' Night, Knox County Democrats, Rockport Boat Club, 5 p.m.

Oct. 9, 2006 (Monday) - Fundraising event to support Jean's campaign, keynote speaker Congressman Dennis Kucinich, South Portland High School, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 11, 2006 (Wednesday) - Winthrop Chamber of Commerce Candidates Night, Winthrop High School, Rambler Road, 7 p.m.

Oct. 16, 2006 (Monday) - Breakfast with the Candidates, Preble Street Resource Center, Portland, 8:30 a.m.

Oct. 18, 2006 (Wednesday) - Piper Shores Senatorial Candidates Forum, Piper Road, Scarborough, 4 p.m.

Oct. 19, 2006 (Thursday) - Cape Elizabeth High School government class, presentation by Jean or debate (no word yet from Snowe's office), 12 noon.

Oct. 26, 2006 (Thursday)- Channel 2 & 6 Senate Debate (WLBZ-TV & WCSH-TV), live broadcast, 7 to 8 p.m.