What Constituency Is Senator Susan Collins Representing?

First we have Senator Susan Collins disgracing herself with her overt support of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of The United States, despite his 30 year history of racial insensitivity, bias towards immigrants, his lack of respect for the rule of law, women’s rights, civil rights and LGBT rights. Apparently that was not debasing enough for the good Senator. For reasons known only to her, Senator Collins joined her republican colleagues in last evenings Senate “vote-a-rama” to adopt a budget plan that would destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Her vote was cast despite her previous position that republicans should not consider repealing the ACA until they could offer a replacement plan. Despite also the fact that if republicans had been serious about the health of the American people, they would not have repeatedly refused time and time again over the last 7 years to offer any type of plan or make any efforts to improve a much needed program. Never mind still, the fact that the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities estimates that 95,000 Mainers and 20 million Americans who rely on this valuable program could lose their health insurance. Many of these non-privileged people will be thrown into immediate bankruptcy.

Our political system is based on the presumption that political figures are reasonably responsive to their constituents. One cannot show different faces to different constituents, one face to those who elected them during daylight hours, and the other face to those who stroke their ego’s when the sun goes down. Senator Collins, and far too many republican public officials, has allowed their judgments to be befuddled by conflicting pressures with their character eroded by selling out to their party over the best interests of their constituents and the American people. This however, doesn’t seem to bother them in the least.

When representing people who elected you, this granted privilege of power should be neutral at the least, and tilted to those who elected them at its best. It becomes necessary to advance that power towards the moral framework that permits us to judge the purpose of good over bad. Constituents cannot support an elected representative leader who betrays the common good in the interest of personal aggrandizement. Partisanship that reflects no commitment to the common good is partisanship gone berserk.

Unfortunately, a high proportion of political leaders in our society are rewarded for their single minded pursuit of their own group interests. They are rewarded, not for compromising, but for participating in the battle in order not to become inferior in the eyes of their God-like leaders and colleagues. This should not be the role of responsible elected officials. That role should be one of functioning in the framework of our representative institutions to accomplish the mediating and brokering necessary to reconcile the diverse views and needs of the people. The concept of the reality of community should not be so easily cast aside. First-hand contact with reality should remind them of their original purposes.

People want to believe that their lives have meaning. They want reassurance. It is the reckless and uncaring representative who violates these expected cultural norms of their constituents.

As citizens and constituents, we have a sterner duty. The simple rule is: Hold power accountable. The prime instrument of political accountability is the electoral process. Elected officials must be attentive to and responsive to their constituents needs. They must not allow the hopes and dreams of the citizenry to remain dormant volcanoes of distressed emotions. When the eruption of these emotions eventually surfaces and spews its hot lava, Senator Collins and her many vindictive and irresponsible colleagues are sure to get burned.

Senator Susan Collins, Once Again On The Wrong Side Of History

The decision by Senator Susan Collins to support the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States is mindboggling. A decision is a choice. Whenever a decision is made, the decision maker must and should be aware of all the consequences that could result from choosing a certain act.

Sen Collins’ decision to endorse Sen Sessions has brought dishonor to her own credibility, to her integrity, to many of her Maine constituents and to the cause of fair and equal justice for all Americans. Her stance is an indictment of a failure of her moral duties and responsibilities to stand for the rights of the people. Her teeth may be smiling, but is her heart? Injustice is a two-edged sword. Sen Collins should be embarrassed.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III: Unfit For A Federal Judgeship, Unfit To Be Attorney General Of The United States

Next week, Senate Republicans will begin their process to fast-track nominees for various positions in Donald Trump’s cabinet. One of the most controversial figures in this process that begins on January 10 will be Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III of Alabama, and nominee for Attorney General of the United States. This nomination is extremely disturbing and distressing. In essence, it represents a throwback to the bygone days of the old South.

In an unprecedented move, The Senate Judiciary Committee is allowing the hearings, now limited to two days, to bypass their usual vetting process. It is unquestionable that Senator Sessions’ record must be carefully scrutinized, given his checkered and extremist views that continue to be expressed even today.

It is inconceivable that a man who was denied a lifetime tenured Federal Judgeship in 1986, a seat on the U. S. Court for the Southern District of Alabama, by his own republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, would now be considered and allowed to proceed through the process with minimal to no vetting. Most of us are aware of Senator Sessions’ history of racial insensitivity during his tenure as a U. S. Attorney. As the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Sessions went out of his way to prosecute civil rights workers in the Alabama “Black Belt” for voter fraud in Black communities, while overlooking the same perceived violations in white communities. One of the workers was an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The focus of these workers was on voter registration and it took a jury only 4 hours to render an acquittal. This is the same Jeff Sessions who labeled the NAACP, the National Council of Churches, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the American Civil Liberties Union as “un-American” and “communist inspired”. As if those denunciations were not enough, Sessions casted a white civil rights lawyer as a “disgrace to his race” for litigating civil rights cases.

Fast-tracking of Sessions’ nomination lay at the feet of his republican colleagues in the Senate, the integrity of his nomination lies in his hands. To date, Sessions continues to withhold from the Judiciary Committee, information surrounding decades of his career. As with any other such nomination, the committee requires complete documentation of employment history, published writings, interviews and speeches. The questionnaire that Sessions has submitted to the committee omits major details from his years as U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993, his tenure as Attorney General of Alabama from 1995 to 1997, and his first term as a U. S. Senator from 1997 to 2002.

More recently, there have been several interviews during which he has once again made controversial statements. He is on record giving Donald Trump a pass for making sexist comments stating “everybody knows Trump likes women and uses this kind of talk”. In another interview he stated “the predictions aren’t coming true” about the deleterious effects of climate change. None of these interviews were identified in his questionnaire that he submitted to the Judiciary Committee. Sessions maintains an extreme bias against immigrants, a bias so right wing that it has even alienated many of his republican colleagues.

The irony is that as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions chided Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor for what he perceived as incomplete answers in her judiciary committee questionnaire. He went even further during the hearings for Goodwin Liu, nominee for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, warning that Liu “might be breaking the law” by leaving information out of his questionnaire, punishable by two years in jail. It seems hypocritical that Sessions feels so high minded to slam past nominees for incomplete documents, only to blatantly do even worse himself today.

Cowardice is the greatest vice. A man’s vanity tells him what is honor; his conscience tells him what justice is. The truth is tough and Sessions must face up to this fact. In his attempt to mislead and erase his hateful and willful past and present misdeeds, Sessions continues to thumb his nose at the American people, placing himself above the law.

The U. S. Attorney General is supposed to be the lawyer for the people. He should be above the fray. The U. S. Justice Department has a duty and a responsibility to uphold the laws of the country, protecting all Americans, no matter race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. These responsibilities must apply equally to all, in an even-handed manner. This office has jurisdiction over such vital areas as enforcing civil rights, voting rights protections, prosecution of hate crimes, protecting women’s health clinics and upholding the constitutional right to marry. The Attorney General’s personal views must be set aside.

For republicans to shorten this confirmation process in a burst of self-will may get Sessions through the committee, but this tactic only sends a reverberating message that the cause of equal justice is not on their radar screen. It means that the fortunate and especially the unfortunate, in the end will suffer. The position of U. S. Attorney General is much too important to be rubber-stamped. As noted by Martin Luther King, Jr., “When civil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice”.  The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions, extreme and unrepentant, is surely not a good sign for the future of justice and equality in America.

The 30 year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law and hostility to the protection of civil rights make Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III totally unfit to be granted the privilege of serving as the Attorney General of The United States of America.

Toiling Upward, Forever Upward in 2017!

As we head into 2017, we are presented with a new opportunity to influence our destiny, one that is determined by the choices we make and how we manage the circumstances with which we are given. Despite all that has taken place in 2016, my wish for all of you is to make your choices, live with them and learn from them. Consider the following, not as resolutions, but as reflections and a call to action for the New Year. Hopefully they will help us all in defining ourselves and the lives of the many others we will touch in the coming year:

1. Always be there for your fellow beings, your family and your friends

2. Do not spare politeness to others. Never let kindness be held hostage by pretenders

3. Make your own decisions based on facts

4. No matter how bad things get, do not despair

5. Hang on to hope, as brightness will eventually appear

6. If you are going to fail, fail going forward

7. Never think that there are no crocodiles because the water is calm

8. Don’t wait for the last judgment. It takes place everyday

9. Remember that no one in the world needs a mink coat except a mink

10. Party like its 1999! Remember to be safe and responsible and have a very HAPPY 2017!