Author: Sam Patten

Patten worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators. He has also worked extensively on democracy promotion abroad and was an advisor in the U.S. State Department from 2008-9. He lives in Bath.

Today is “Officers’ Day,” otherwise known as “Men’s Day” among those who served in the Soviet military. My former business partner Kostya – a Russian-Ukrainian who once made his way onto the FBI’s most wanted list – had once served and used to joke that it was a day to put on your old uniform, get drunk thinking about the old days, and pass out with your face in the herring salad. Not anymore. Russian President Vladimir Putin chose the day after “Officer’s Day” to launch Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine twenty-four hours short of two years ago. In doing…

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Tucker Carlson is neither Walter Duranty (the notorious New York Times correspondent in Moscow in the 1930s who helped Josef Stalin cover up his murder by starvation of millions of Ukrainians, earning a Pulitzer Prize in the process) nor David Frost (who famously interview Richard Nixon at San Clemente, Calif. after the late American president resigned), but he did conduct an ambitious interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin that aired on his website and the X platform on Thursday night. https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson/status/1754939251257475555?s=20 “Is this a talk show or a serious conversation?” Putin taunted Carlson at the interview’s outset, before launching into a thirty-minute…

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I got the weirdest email the other night from Donald Trump. He said he loved me. It was very confusing, because the smart people in the media keep telling me how hateful a man he is. It was so confusing it got me thinking: where the hell did this guy sending me love notes come from anyway? The original plan was as deliriously simple as it was devilish: invent a creature so loathsome, voters would do ANYTHING to avoid letting it anywhere near our sacred power. Make the creature vainglorious, racist, sexist, make it a bull in a china shop,…

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Official Washington is laying it on thick when it comes to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s “secret” hospitalization for colon cancer surgery. The White House claims it was surprised not to have been informed of Secretary Austin’s hospitalization at the Walter Reed Medical Center, which is run by the federal government. Members of the Biden administration seem all too ready to level blame on the sick man, ie. the one who just underwent surgery with complications, not the one with a chair behind the Resolute Desk. DOOCY: "If the administration is gonna go to such great lengths to keep secrets…

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Ten years ago, I wrote a column for the Bangor Daily News (back when it ran actual news) entitled “The Audacity of Shenna Bellows.” At the time, she was the Democratic Party’s sacrificial lamb running for Susan Collins’ seat in the U.S. Senate and had gone to some lengths to misrepresent the centrist Republican senator’s position on abortion rights. In her decision today, by fiat, to declare Donald Trump ineligible to be on Maine’s ballot in the coming year’s presidential election, Bellows has — in essence — said to herself, the state, and the nation: “hold my beer.” When Bellows…

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Listening to Obama advisor David Axelrod compare the Hunter Biden probe to Benghazi, it suddenly becomes clear that among people for whom consequence is an abstract notion the truth can only be heard in Freudian slips like this. Do you remember Benghazi? During the blessedly “scandal-free” Obama Administration, the U.S. State Department declined urgent appeals for help from U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his security detail because giving them the assistance they needed would have elevated a situation the administration was trying to keep on a low boil. Ambassador Stevens and three CIA officers were brutally killed because, the Obama administration wanted…

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“Mister Kissinger, he dead.” (with apologies to Joseph Conrad) As a little boy from Maine, the prospect of spending Thanksgiving with the mythical Henry Kissinger was exciting beyond words – my mother took me down to Coffins in Rockland and bought me a grey, corduroy, three-piece suit. For the meal, my grandfather ordered a suckling pig with an apple in its mouth. When the honored guest arrived in the narrow corridor, the already elder statesman hunched over to pat me on the head. I don’t think I washed my hair for a week or two afterwards, but, in those days,…

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While the Jewish state of Israel faces the threat of annihilation, it is cruelly ironic that anti-Semitism has gone mainstream in the US. Since the beginning of this October, it has quadrupled — and you wouldn’t know that from watching the news.Just after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February of last year, the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag could be seen just about anywhere you’d look in America, especially in Maine. But now less than a month into a different war — between Israel and Hamas or, to be blunt, Iran — precious few, if any, Stars…

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Living downriver and across Merrymeeting Bay from accused mass murderer Robert Card II, the last couple days have been as filled with ill-winds for me as any Mainer. It was just Tuesday I was driving up and down Rt. 196, where Card ditched his Subaru Wednesday night. When I look at his face in photos, what terrifies me most is that he looks just like one of us. After a large explosion, the oxygen is sucked out of the air for a moment and things feel like the eerily warm, low-pressure days we’re had this week. As we’re experiencing now…

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Earlier this year, Merrick Garland, America’s attorney general, went to the extraordinary length of actually denying that there exist two tracks of justice in America. It is a bizarre statement for the country’s top cop to make – unless of course a significant percentage of us doubt whether the laws are indeed one for all. The sweetheart deal reached between the Justice Department and First Son Hunter Biden on Tuesday to plead guilty of tax and gun charges won’t help Garland’s case, even if it was meant to do exactly that. When I was told I’d have to “eat a…

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Barely half of Americans believe our country’s intelligence agencies do a good job safeguarding citizens’ privacy and civil liberties, a 2020 poll commissioned by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found. That is bad news for people like National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who urgently wants Congress to renew the law that allows the government to spy on foreigners and any Americans with whom they come into contact. Within the next seven months, Congress will either re-authorize the controversial Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or – as many civil libertarians in America would prefer – do nothing and let it…

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If you believe everything you read, see or hear in the mainstream media today, you could be forgiven for thinking that the young adults of Generation Z are lock-step leftists. Consider, for instance, a report three years ago by the Pew Research Center: “Gen Zers are progressive and pro-government, most see the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity as a good thing, and they’re less likely than older generations to see the United States as superior to other nations.” But when a young woman testified before the Maine legislature’s Committee on Educational and Cultural Affairs last month in support of one of…

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Maine is poised to join thirteen other states and Washington, D.C., in creating a government program that levies new taxes on workers and businesses to provide paid medical and family leave to employees, but major details of the proposed law are still up in the air. Given the composition of the legislature, it’s no longer even a question of ‘if’ Maine will pass a paid leave law, but what it will ultimately look like. “It’s still not clear how they intend to pay for it, or what kind of formula they’ll put into the bill,” said Rep. Dick Bradstreet (R-Vassalboro),…

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Ever since the COVID-19 shutdowns led to Maine parents gaining greater awareness of what kids are learning in school, parental rights advocates have been pushing for greater transparency of schools’ curricula. A recent Maine Wire poll of almost 2,000 respondents throughout the state finds an overwhelming number of likely voters now support a requirement for a school to post its curriculum online. Overall, eight out of ten respondents favor posting the curriculum online, while 15 percent oppose doing so and another five remain undecided. While there is a significant ideological margin on this question between conservatives – 92 percent of…

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Have you noticed the narrative around “disinformation” changing recently? In his new, self-styled outlet Racket News, Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi examines three, interrelated streams of activity by the U.S. government, private consultants, and social media giants from 2015 to the present that – taken jointly – paint a troubling picture of efforts to “de-platform” voices it smeared at suspicious. This analysis provides a new context in which to consider Sen. Angus King’s campaign reaching out to Twitter in 2018 to provide an “enemies list” of hundreds of “suspicious” accounts, many of which were Mainers and supporters of King’s opponent, State Sen. Eric Brakey…

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From 2018 to the present, a powerful, out-of-state group played a huge role in influencing Maine elections using a kind of shell game to deploy resources to left-of-center causes. Arabella Advisors presides over a shadowy network of at least five separate “dark money” funds, all of which contributed to Maine entities during this period to the tune of at least $15 million, and probably more. (Source: Capital Research Center) What is “dark money” anyway? In 2010, the Sunlight Foundation coined the politically correct term to describe funds that go into elections without being specifically designated to one candidate or party. In Buckley v. Valeo,…

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Unlike its twin in Georgia, Augusta, Maine doesn’t have a literal swamp. But an increasing number of Mainers are concerned it’s becoming a figurative one where the boundaries between lawmaker and lobbyist are too thin, and where non-profits which receive state funds and often advocate on policy issues have too little oversight. In 2021, lobbyists in Augusta raked in $4 million in fees (in 2019 it was $4.5 million), according to disclosures. Many legislators become lobbyists almost immediately after completing their elected mandates, as do key staff and appointed officials. “They are the ones who have been sticking around through the different legislatures,…

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When a senior congressman from a land-locked state in the American West drops a bill pertaining to the Atlantic right whale out of the blue, it just seems fishy. But that is exactly what happened when Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-NM) introduced a bill for the sole purpose of undoing the six-year pause on enforcement of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rules that Maine’s congressional delegation had wrestled out of budget negotiations late last year. Grijalva’s “Rescue Whales Act” responds to the “existential harm” that six-year pause threatens, the statement his office issued at the time said. Why? Grijalva doesn’t boast about the bill…

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You can put away your tin-foil hat now, the public service announcement advised. Those things we told you were ‘conspiracy theories’ are actually true, a White House spokesperson said on Wednesday. If you missed that announcement, don’t feel out of the loop: it hasn’t happened yet. But bit-by-bit, things not so long ago we were told were true have in recent years been disproven. At the same time, news that was considered too unsettling or disruptive was “de-bunked” by experts. These days, the difference between a “right-wing conspiracy theory” and “settled science” is just a few months or years. We…

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to make the run-off in the second city’s Democratic primary Tuesday night, limiting her to one term in office that is soon to expire. While she was one of nine candidates in a crowded field, her performance in office coupled with Chicago’s skyrocketing crime were likely the decisive factors, analysts say. Lightfoot is the first Chicago mayor in forty years not to win a second term. Coming into office in 2019, Lightfoot pledged to undo the “systemic racism” that her campaign blamed for many of the city’s ills. Yet her debut was in part overshadowed by the saga…

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Is the over-use of “concept bills” making the legislative process in Augusta less transparent? There is growing concern among current and former lawmakers as well as experts that it’s time to change the rules about when a lawmaker has to say what’s actually in their bill. Like a placeholder, a “concept bill” is basically a detail-free statement of intent, like “An Act to Reform Education.” Under current rules in the Maine state legislature, a lawmaker can supply the actual text of the bill at the last possible minute making public scrutiny difficult if impossible. In a loose parallel, former U.S.…

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Republicans on the Maine legislature’s joint committee on education and cultural affairs today called on the University of Maine system to follow the lead of the Maine Community College system and drop the requirement that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 before enrolling. The Maine Community College system scrapped its vaccination requirement for students throughout the state earlier this month. [RELATED: UMaine Professor Fired For Criticizing Mask Mandates Fighting for Her Free Speech Rights…] In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred), Sen. James Libby (R-Cumberland), Rep. Sheila A. Lyman (R-Livermore Falls), Rep. Edward J. Polewarczyk (R-Wiscasset), and Rep. Barbara A.…

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Portland voters are hoping recent rent control ordinances will provide relief to struggling renters amid a growing housing crisis, but property owners and industry experts tell the Maine Wire the new rent control scheme — passed by socialist-sponsored ballot initiatives in 2020 and 2022 — may have perverse or unintended consequences. Ironically, the new rent control regulations, intended to protect renters from unfair rent increases, may have actually led landlords to increase rents in the short-term beyond what they would have sought without the new rules. “In our direct experience at our management company, the Portland rent control ordinance has…

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It’s beginning to look more likely that the COVID-19 virus originated in a lab in China, another federal agency has found. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in determining that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted from a lab leak in China, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. While other government agencies remain divided in their opinion on the where the virus came from, the DoE’s assessment – even with a “low level of confidence” – is another step towards confirming that COVID-19 sprung from a Chinese lab, and quite possibly the Wuhan Institute of Virology.…

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Proponents of offshore wind power generated off the coast of Maine are no longer just blowing cold air: they will soon be brokering leases for development, a report issued by the state last week highlighted. Given the scale and scope of what’s in the State of Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap that Gov. Janet Mills’ administration unveiled on Thursday, it’s a little odd that the governor didn’t directly mention the ambitious project in her state of the budget speech two weeks ago. What she did tell us then was her new goal is to have 100 percent of energy in the state coming from renewable…

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A fresh, bold voice from Hollywood is clearing the path for U.S. President Joe Biden to seek a second-term. Princess Bride producer and perhaps more memorably as Archie Bunker’s hapless son-in-law “Meathead” Rob Reiner tweeted on Thursday that Biden has had a “spectacularly successful president,” and, should he seek a second term, “deserves our 100% unequivocal support.” The years of put-downs from TV sitcom character Archie Bunker throughout the 1970s must have made Reiner more assertive in recent years. Indeed, the actor/producer tweeted out praise of Biden no less than seven times in the month of February alone and dedicated an equal number of…

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Correction: In a 2/24 piece by Sam Patten entitled GOP Pushes for Parental Rights, Transparency in Maine Schools, the author mistakenly paraphrased Rep. Laurel Libby describing how the COVID-19 pandemic “brought the classroom into the living room.” What Libby actually said was that the pandemic-necessitated virtual classrooms and helped parents better see what is going on in Maine schools today. With a growing number of Maine parents seeking more input in their children’s education, Republicans in the state legislature are promoting a series of bills to meet some of the demands parents are making in school board meetings across the…

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Parents in Windham are battling with left-wing activists and members of the school board over books in the school library that feature cartoon images of children having sex and lurid passages about sexual encounters between minors. At immediate issue are two books – one in the middle school and one at the high school library – that depict graphic sexual activities. [READ: Maine Bill Would Redefine Money to Exclude Bitcoin, Enable CBDCs…] More broadly, in objecting to these materials, parents feel the school, and its governing board, are trying to shut them out. Knox Zajac, an 11–year-old sixth grader, spoke…

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More than a year after former Barclays Bank chief Jes Staley left Bowdoin College’s board of trustees, the Maine-based college’s president, Clayton Rose, wrote a letter to alumni on Wednesday explaining how the college handled revelations about Staley’s closeness to Jeffrey Epstein. “I was clearly wrong,” said Rose, in reference to his previous evaluation that Staley represents what’s best about Bowdoin. That admission follows the publication of recent emails, in British media and in the Wall Street Journal, showing Staley was closer to the Epstein than the public previously knew. Epstein, who became notorious for his sexual crimes against minors and his…

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Three weeks after a catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the White House has settled on a messaging strategy about the disaster: blame Trump. All it took to arrive at this time-tested response was a trip by the former president to the accident site ahead of any current administration official. “Congressional Republicans and former Trump Administration officials owe East Palestine an apology for selling them out to rail industry lobbyists when they dismantled Obama-Biden rail safety protections as well as EPA powers to rapidly contain spills,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates told USA TODAY on Wednesday afternoon. Appearing in the disaster-struck…

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The Supreme Court of the United States may now be poised to take action on the major lever Congress has over the Internet, particularly social media platforms. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects companies like Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook from having the same responsibility for content on its platform that The Maine Wire has for what it publishes here. The protection means that Twitter, for example, can’t be held liable for libelous Tweets, and YouTube isn’t liable for criminal content that may be uploaded to their video platform. But in recent years, Section 230 has become the…

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Lawyers for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are “casting an eye” over the American cartoon South Park after its recent parody of the couple otherwise known as Meghan and Harry, the Daily Mail reported. Sources close to the British royal family told the newspaper that the Duchess also known as Meghan Markle has been “upset and overwhelmed” by her depiction in a recent episode. Most Americans understand that South Park – now in its 26th season on Comedy Central – is satire, and often cuttingly funny ones. World leaders, pop stars and actors — even Satan, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus — have…

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Is it surprising that Rachel Maddow is mad at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for turning over 41,000 hours of Capitol Police surveillance footage from January 6, 2021 to FOX News host Tucker Carlson? “This just allows Carlson to concoct alternative narratives,” the MSNBC personality hissed. Maddow is not alone in her outrage. She is joined by Select Committee to Investigate January 6th members Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Benny Thompson (D-Ms.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) among others. Some fellow Twitterati are even comparing giving the footage to Carlson with handing over state secrets to Moscow. “A man who spews Kremlin talking points. Suggests…

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In his first formal speech to the nation since invading Ukraine nearly a year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he would suspend Russia’s participation in new START nuclear arms reduction talks after the current treaty with the United States expires in three years, and he will no longer comply with the verification regime. “One circumstance should be clear to everyone — the more long-range Western systems will come to Ukraine, the further we will be forced to push the threat away from our borders,” Putin said, drawing an ominous parallel between the step back on nuclear cooperation and NATO support…

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Monday’s ouster of James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, the news and norms breaking investigative team he founded 13 years ago, leaves new questions around an organization that has long urged us to ask them. In a 45-minute video of his goodbye remarks to Veritas staff, O’Keefe said he had not resigned but rather been removed from his position as chief executive officer by the board. Two potential reasons for this include the recent recording of a Pfizer executive boasting how his pharmaceutical giant boss is allegedly mutating the COVID-19 virus to generate more business for itself, and what some staff complaints claim was O’Keefe becoming a…

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Mother Jones magazine, a cornerstone of the progressive establishment, ran a lengthy piece today entitled: “To Save Whales, Should We Stop Eating Lobster?” The 2,300-word article can be seen as a reconsideration of the radical environment push to “red list” and otherwise boycott the iconic Maine fishery, and it included some surprise praise for the industry from a federal regulator. “The US wild-caught American lobster fishery is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under state and federal regulations,” a spokesperson for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told Mother Jones last October. [RELATED: 8th Dead Whale Washes Up in NJ/NY; NOAA…

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Ever since the height of the Cold War, a key goal of U.S. diplomacy and security strategy has been to ensure a rift between China and Russia – two of America’s main strategic competitors. But those efforts may be unraveling, according to America’s top diplomat. Returning from the Munich Security Conference in Europe yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China is already providing Russia with non-lethal support for its war effort in Ukraine and may soon include lethal weapons into the mix. “We’ve seen already over these past months the provision of nonlethal assistance that does go directly to aiding…

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Echoing one of his small-ball promises from his State of the Union Address earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted on Sunday morning that: “We’re working to ban surprise ‘resort fees’ that hotels tack onto your bill,” Biden tweeted, explaining further that “these fees can cost up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts.” https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1627325436093952003 “It just isn’t right,” the president concluded. While some Americans may be touched that the chief executive of our government is looking out for our vacation budgets, many millions of others are so beset by rising everyday costs, the spike in home heating…

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The 45th President of the United States responded to the “Fake News” that he had called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “Meatball Ron” with a post on Truth Social Saturday stating “it would be totally inappropriate to use the word ‘meatball’ as a moniker for Ron!” In his post, Trump repeated the word “meatball” twice and reminded readers of other – authorized – monikers he has conceived for Ron DeSanctimonius, Lightweight Paul Ryan, and Low Energy Jeb Bush. The tone of Trump’s post is playful, and a reminder of his presence on Twitter where he excelled in stirring up controversies and tidal waves of…

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The continuing saga of Twitter’s close cooperation with the U.S. government and senior government officials wound through Maine Saturday night when independent journalist Matt Taibbi posted what appear to be records of October 2018 requests by the office of U.S. Senator Angus King to monitor accounts following his rival at the time, Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin). Taibbi is one of a handful of journalists Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, authorized to review archives of the social media giant’s often troublingly close coordination with the government. “If Dick Nixon sniffed glue, this is what his enemies list would look like,” Taibbi…

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Erstwhile-Rep. Clinton Collamore Jr. (D-Waldoboro) resigned his recently won seat in the Maine House of Representatives today after pleading not guilty to state charges of defrauding program that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for campaigns. Collamore entered his plea at the Lincoln County courthouse in Wiscasset. The Maine law that provides taxpayer funding for politicians requires them to get a certain number of politicians before they receive the funding. Prosecutors alleged that Collamore falsified 30 – or half – of his qualifying signatures to receive public funding for his campaign last fall. The indictment claims twenty counts of aggravated forgery, twelve counts of unsworn…

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It hasn’t been a good week for CNN, and Don Lemon didn’t help this morning when he suggested on-air that the 51-year old Nikki Haley is not longer “in her prime.” This eye-popping judgment offends not only women, but anyone in their mid-life years in America who might wonder how Lemon – pulling in $4 million a year at age 56 – is qualified to call a younger woman over the hill. https://twitter.com/townhallcom/status/1626234363674505224 On Monday, the network announced that it was letting Jake Tapper’s producer go following revelations of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. Former anchor Chris Cuomo, who was let go in…

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If you were to rely just on University of Maine political science professor Amy Fried’s take, you could safely assume that the Maine Republican Party has recently been taken over by extremists and zealots given to conspiracy theories and wild overstatement, according to her Valentine’s Day blog for the Bangor Daily News. “The takeover of the Maine GOP leadership by MAGA forces marks a further break with Maine’s already eroded civil, moderate Republican legacy,” the former chair of political science faculty at Orono opined, adding “Republicans who disagree but stay silent — rather than actively countering — are complicit with conspiracy…

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One of the best ways to “modulate the behavior” of the media in a free(ish) society is to take control of the ratings, an array of groups funded by the left-wing billionaire George Soros has found. The latest of these groups to come under scrutiny is the London-based Global Disinformation Index (GDI), which bizarrely received funding from the U.S. Department of State. GDI listed nearly a dozen top conservative news sites in America – including RealClearPolitics, the New York Post, the Daily Wire and Reason – as the “riskiest” when it comes to disinformation. Given that it receives U.S. government funding in addition to…

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Gov. Janet Mills made the case for her $10.3 billion biennial budget – almost one billion dollars and more than a ten-percent increase over the last two-year state spending package in 2021 — in an address Tuesday night to a joint session of the State Legislature. “The foundations of our economy are our people, and that is why we have to invest in people,” Mills said. Before listing a litany of spending priorities she urged lawmakers to support, Mills said the state’s revenue projections are in excess of $11 billion over the next two years. [RELATED: Mills $10.3 Billion Budget…

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National media joined the chorus of Maine’s Fourth Estate in taking a moment Monday to coo over the poetry of Maine Gov. Janet Mills. The Washington Post ran four of the poems published yesterday by the Associated Press. Dozens of outlets around America also picked up the story. During her first term, Down East magazine published a feature on Mills the Bard in which it called her verses “dreamy and a little strange.” The Bangor Daily News got the scoop that Mills’ poeticism dates back to the time she dropped out of Colby College and went West to San Francisco to be participate in the so-called…

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Republican leaders in the Maine House and Senate are taking aim at those who target the state’s iconic lobster industry by introducing legislation to repeal tax exemptions on equipment for companies that “red-list,” or otherwise boycott the products of Maine industry, they said in a joint press conference at the state capitol Tuesday. Together with this bill, another legislative initiative calls on the state to restore Maine’s sovereignty out to the 12-mile mark offshore. Currently waters beyond three miles are considered federal domain. “We shouldn’t be sitting around waiting for permission from the Feds to protect our lobster industry,” Sen.…

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Former South Carolina Governor and ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley today became the first female and second Republican to formally announce their candidacy for the GOP nomination for president. She joins former president Donald Trump, her one-time boss, in a field that is likely to expand over the course of this year. Calling for “generational change,” Haley, 51, highlighted her relative youth, which contrasts with the 76-year old Trump and 80-year old President Joe Biden. https://twitter.com/NikkiHaley/status/1625461899218280448 After the 2020 contest between those men, more than 70 percent of Americans complained to pollsters that political leaders are too old. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who…

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Where’s the “vision thing,” Joe? In a State of the Union speech that took President Biden 73 minutes to deliver last week, there were a scant 71 words (that’s counting articles, conjunctions, honorifics and fluff) on the continuing conflict in Ukraine, to which the United States has committed almost $50 billion so far. By normal standards of public speaking, that is less than a minute. Given the very real prospect that Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago could expand into a broader Eurasian conflict, 71 words is pretty short shrift. After all, foreign policy is supposed to be one…

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Does the Philadelphia Eagles loss in last night’s Super Bowl cast a shadow over the future prospects of their number one fan, Joe Biden? Only last week the Democratic National Committee held its annual meeting in Philadelphia, and the residual energy from that event was not enough to put the hometown football team over the top. The truth is we are no closer to knowing the 80-year old president’s intentions today, just as it was hard to tell after last week’s State of the Union address whether the 46th president is indeed running for re-election or just buying time. It was only…

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Congress just bigfooted the District of Columbia’s city council by overturning its recent changes to its criminal justice law that could soften penalties for violent crimes like car-jacking, murder and rape, multiple sources reported on Thursday. In addition to overturning the measures softening Washington, D.C.’s criminal statutes, the GOP-led U.S. House of Representatives also struck down another change in the local law that would allow non-citizens to vote. Because D.C. is not a state but rather a district of the federal government, Congress has the authority to oversee its governance, though rarely have lawmkers nullified its laws. In this case, Republicans saw the changes as necessary…

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Students looking to enroll in Maine’s Community Colleges will have one less barrier to entry thanks to the system’s lifting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Wednesday, according to an announcement by its president to the board of trustees. “I believe the board should consider ending the vaccine requirement for on-campus students, while simultaneously adopting language urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters,” MCCS President David Daigler said in a statement. Dr. Mark Fouree, one of MCCS’ trustees, who is also an executive in the healthcare industry, cited both progress towards achieving natural immunity and the urgent need to prepare the…

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Maine Senate Republicans launched an initiative on Wednesday to stabilize the sagging labor market in the state while taking aim at abuses of the welfare system. Comprised of eight bills, the reform plan is an effort to help recipients avoid a “welfare cliff” they otherwise face when benefits run out, but no progress has been made in finding employment. Right now the legislature is divided between “two priorities – welfare checks or paychecks,” Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin), author of five of the eight inter-related bills in the package, said at the press conference. Democratic leaders haven’t signalled yet whether they’re…

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How should Mainers grade President Joe Biden when he delivers his State of the Union Address to Congress Tuesday night? Never mind what George W. Bush once said about the “soft bigotry of low expectation,” this is going to be an important speech for America’s 46th president and what he says telegraphs to Washington and the nation if not what to expect, then where the political battle-lines will be drawn. For a man who hasn’t yet declared his intentions about running for re-election, and whose favorable rating has hovered between the high 30s and low 40s during his two years in…

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Responding to recent cases first reported by The Maine Wire, several state representatives have introduced bills in the current legislative session to prohibit Maine schools from counseling children on gender changes without parental notification. Rep. Katrina Smith (R-Palermo) is the author of one such bill. “Shockingly, schools across Maine are currently enacting policies that treat a parent as the secondary authority of their child’s emotional and physical well-being by allowing a school counselor, teacher, or administrator to engage in secret counseling, secret actions, and secret conversations with the children of Maine,” Smith wrote about what prompted her to act. Her…

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The 1956 French classic “The Red Balloon” tells the tale of a young boy who befriends a stray gasbag and follows it around Paris, mixing wonder and adventure. In the darkly comic 2023 re-make, an actual red, as in Communist Chinese, spy balloon floats over the American state of Montana, where many of our ICBMs stand at the ready in underground silos, and no one seems to know what to do. First, President Joe Biden tells the military to shoot it down, but generals counter that such rash action could endanger people and property beneath. Apparently the Pentagon knows more…

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Like a sleeping giant awoken from its stupor, Hunter Biden’s legal team snapped into action on Wednesday as it filed a flurry of warnings and requests related to the infamous laptop that the First Son allegedly abandoned at a Wilmington, Delaware repair shop in 2018. The younger Biden has hired one of the top criminal defense attorneys for embattled politicians, Abbe Lowell. It was Lowell who steered former First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner clear of criminal liability in the multiple probes that flared throughout the Trump administration. Perhaps the thinking here was what worked for one prince will surely do for another. Lowell…

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Speaking to graduates of the school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley in 2019, New York Times podcast The Daily producer Michael Barbaro said the media’s number one responsibility then was to “earn back its credibility.” Let’s think back for just a moment to where we were then: Donald Trump was still president, and life in America was yet to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response. This is six weeks before Robert Mueller testified before Congress, and three years before new ownership at Twitter released the company’s files about shadow-banning dissonant voices. Yet a prominent voice in…

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My friend Richard is what I guess you would call a centrist Democrat, though he doesn’t like party labels. But he normally pulls the lever for Ds – and all the more so since Trump. Richard lives and works abroad and relies on mainstream media sources to keep up with what’s happening back home. But after reading Paul Krugman’s recent op-ed “Can anything be done to assuage rural rage?” Richard cancelled his subscription to The New York Times, severing a tie half a century long. Life is too short to read former ENRON consultant Paul Krugman’s predictable take on a regular basis, but Richard’s…

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It was a restless crowd at the Maine State Republican committee meeting Saturday in Augusta when grassroots activists in the party renounced the long-time party chairwoman Demi Kouzounas and voted by a wide margin to replace her with former Canaan state representative Joel Stetkis. Stetkis won 57 votes compared to Kouzounas’ 25 in the final vote, with one member abstaining. But the final result only tells part of the story. The morning began with an eleventh hour effort to exclude one of the candidates, Rep. Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred) based on the interpretation of a rule that “officials” cannot also serve…

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So much for Mr. Nice Guy! California Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Hollywood) isn’t waiting around anymore to see if California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is 89 years old, will seek a sixth term when her current one expires next year. Because “democracy is under assault from MAGA extremists,” Schiff said the Golden State and the country need him to run because “we are in the fight of our lives.” Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from Orange County, announced her candidacy to succeed Feinstein two weeks ago. The next day, sources close to Rep. Barbara Lee said the veteran Bay Area politician would also run. Schiff has joined…

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The three challengers for chairperson of the Maine Republican Party’s seat traveled to the Phippsburg Sportsmen Association on Tuesday evening to make their closing arguments for the Sagadahoc County GOP support for the upcoming state committee vote on Saturday. Former House Republican Assistant Leader Joel Stetkis of Canaan, Rep. Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred) and former Republican legislative candidate and Maine GOP committee member Guy Lebida of Bowdoin were all singing from the same hymnal on at least one point – the urgent need for change in leadership of a political party that was pushed to the margins of relevance in last…

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Before writing anything further here, please excuse any saltiness in my take. Full disclosure: I pleaded guilty to failing to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938 in charges brought by then special counsel Robert Mueller. So yes, I have an opinion, but I’ll try to stick to the facts: In bringing charges against former FBI senior counterintelligence officer Charles McGonigal related to his alleged business relationship with Russian “oligarch” Oleg Deripaska, the U.S. Department of Justice is again signaling some willingness to address the tangled web of conflicting interests, mass projection of its own sins on others,…

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Who knew the U.S. government has a Chief Performance Officer? Until the White House announced on Sunday that the president has appointed Jeff Zients to replace Ron Klain –who resigned over the weekend – as the president’s new chief-of-staff, I certainly didn’t. But Zients, a consummate Washington insider, actually held this position in the Obama administration. So it must be real. No sooner was the world introduced to Zients than the left-of-center outlet The Nation howled that the man is a shill for corporate America and a disaster at the outset. While that condemnation might lead centrists to think Zients is a reasonable…

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Ok, this is just getting silly – on Saturday, the Justice Department announced that the FBI found more documents in its search of the Biden residence in Delaware. This is the fourth new discovery of improperly stored state secrets, and comes after the President himself defiantly said of the delay between the first discovery at the Penn-Biden Center in November and the public revelation of it earlier this month “there’s no there there,” and “I have no regrets.” At least he didn’t resort to defensive humor, as then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did in 2015 when she scoffed “what did…

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Just after the disastrous Bay of Pigs operation in 1961, the newly-inaugurated President John F. Kennedy called Richard Bissell, the CIA’s deputy director of plans, into the Oval Office for a farewell chat. “If this were England, I would probably have to resign,” the angry young president told Bissell, whose agency had gone ahead with a hare-brained – and unsuccessful – invasion plan for Communist Cuba that had been hatched during the previous administration, “but it’s not, so you’re fired.” More than sixty years ago, accountability was already a loosey-goosey construct in Washington. But at least then staff knew their…

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Does the fact that George Soros is skipping the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this year a signal that the annual confab is less of must-do for the global elite, i.e. the richest and most powerful people on earth? This year’s theme, “Cooperation in a Fragmented World” is certainly more modest and less controversial than 2020’s “Great Reset.” Davos Man is on a diet. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella didn’t have to look into a crystal ball to predict that the tech industry will have to do more with less, while his company announced plans to lay off 10,000 employees…

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At a time when more than a third of Americans are telling the Pew Research Foundation it’s a bad sign than more than 50 percent of young people today are living with their parents, one might think President Joe Biden was pretty lucky to have been reportedly raking in almost $50,000 a month from his son Hunter to live on the family estate in Delaware. But in Washington whenever a special counsel is appointed to investigate you, chances are “lucky” isn’t the first word that springs to tongue. After a week during which the mishandled classified documents story whirling around…

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Hillary and Barack had Saul Alinsky with his “Rules for Radicals,” but the Democratic Socialists of America’s Maine chapter have someone altogether more serious to whom they now look for guidance: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. In a groundbreaking essay just published on the DSA Maine website Pine & Roses, Aaron Berger suggests that the answers to the current malaise on the Left lie in Lenin’s seminal What Is To Be Done, which the Soviet founding father penned in 1901 and printed in comrade Josef Stalin’s Iskra (The Spark). “Yes, we are all pointed towards a revolution, but what is the next…

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You’ve heard of the one percent-ers, but how about the one-third percent-ers? 1.3 million Americans hold Top Secret security clearances, which amounts to essentially a third of a percent of us. This elite priesthood may know things the rest of us don’t because, well, they’ve been cleared. If recent scandals surrounding the current and immediate past presidents are any indication, this two-tiered system of knowledge we have isn’t necessarily serving us well. On Monday, Americans learned that classified documents had been found locked in a closet at the PENN-Biden Center, where Joe Biden hung his hat for the interval between…

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As the state committee of the Maine Republican Party prepares to elect a chairperson at the end of this month, the Cumberland County Republican Committee, led by former district attorney Stephanie Anderson, is hosting a candidates’ forum on Wednesday evening. What questions should she and others be asking the four candidates? Never in my lifetime, which is a scant 51 years, has the Maine Republican Party been a real powerhouse the way state parties elsewhere can be with the right constellations of talent, opportunity and purpose. Most Republicans who have been elected statewide here have had very limited expectations for…

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Early next month, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee will vote either to grant Ronna McDaniel another term as chairwoman of the party, or for someone to replace her. So far, her challengers are MyPillow.com CEO Mike Lindell and California state chair Harmeet Dhillon. Serious Republicans are now looking West, though in mid-December, McDaniel released a list of over 100 members who supported her re-election in a “don’t even think about it” kind of wagon-circling maneuver you could call either offense or defense depending on where you stand. Like the great state of Texas, most rank-and-file Republicans want…

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Unlike the Scorpions, neither you nor I have to walk down to Gorky Park to listen to the winds of change. Based on a series of conversations I’ve had with activists and elected office holders within the universe of the Maine Republican Party in the last 48 hours, those winds will probably soon be blowing at the state party’s headquarters 9 Higgins soon. On January 28th, delegates to the state committee will be voting for a new chairperson. While the results of last month’s mid-term election strongly indicate the Republicans in Maine need new leadership, incumbent chair Demi Kouzounas, a…

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Mainers from across the state braved icy temperatures and gathered outside Whole Foods in Portland on Monday afternoon to protest the nation-wide, upscale supermarket’s decision to “pause” its purchasing of Maine lobster. This effective boycott of Maine’s best-known export strikes at the livelihoods of over 5,000 Mainers directly employed in the lobster-fishery as well as thousands more on the processing and distribution ends of the business. Last week, the Maine Wire reported that Republicans in the state legislature are looking at ways to punish the company for its slap in the face to the state that hosts one of its…

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Whenever someone promises two for the price of one, the savvy consumer is naturally suspicious. Should the same suspicion not extend to the newest transmogrification of the Washington “power couple”? It is, after all, just the latest evolution of the shell game hucksters once played on street corners. As more than 5,000 Maine lobster-fishing families prepare for the coming holidays with existential worry, The Maine Wire this week highlighted perhaps the apex predator of DC power couples: White House Chief-of-Staff Ron Klain and spouse Monica Medina, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, who has…

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If you don’t know who Leslie Dach is, there’s no need to beat yourself up over it. I’m a recovering swamp creature and I’d never heard of him. But according to Wikipedia, Dach was novelist Christopher Buckley’s roommate at Yale. If they put that on your wiki-page, your own achievements are likely to be pretty much de minimus. Nonetheless, friends of President Biden have tapped Dach to head the serious, if not quixotic, sounding Congressional Integrity Project. Over the past 48 hours, mainstream media outlets have run numerous, almost identically worded articles about Elon Musk’s release of Twitter’s internal communications…

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Jeffrey, a manager at the Portland branch of Whole Foods, won’t tell me whether or not his store sells Maine lobster. He referred me to media relations, which is in all likelihood housed somewhere outside of Maine, probably in a dark corner of Whole Foods, Amazon, and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos’ dark soul. Being ninjas of nuance, the global public relations team at Whole Foods told me that they will sell their remaining supplies of Maine lobster but suspend any further procurement for now. Why? According to Nathan Cimbala, it is because the London-based Marine Stewardship Council recently robbed…

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No less than three men in crisp, black uniforms helped guide me to an available spot in the garage beneath Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters last week. I did not ask if any of them were also software engineers, but that didn’t make them any less essential to Your Correspondent as he guided his old jalopy into a tight space between two sparkling new Teslas. Based on all the mainstream media froth and fury about Elon Musk’s taking the helm of the social media giant in the past week, I expected to see more visible outrage around Twitter’s headquarters. But the…

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One of the great things about being Jack Smith is the sheer number of well-meaning people who want to help you do your job. As Americans prepare for our annual turkey dinner this week, the media is again filled with breathless speculation about Smith, the man Attorney General Merrick Garland recently appointed as special counsel to review the grounds for a criminal case against former president Donald Trump. Everyone, it seems, want to lend the latest incarnation of Eliot Ness a helping hand. Take former deputy special counsel Andrew Weissmann, who penned his advice to Smith for all to see…

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During the midterm campaign period, then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cast doubt on future spending in support of Ukraine’s defense. In doing so, he spoke to rank and file concerns about what some see as a misguided policy of the Biden administration. Tuesday’s MaineWire reported the White House is now considering another $37 billion of primarily military assistance to the war-torn, European nation. Is this, as the Russians say, money in the wind? Now that McCarthy may become speaker, it’s worth addressing Republican doubts about our involvement with the Ukraine war effort. These derive not just from a bromance with…

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The day after the Republican Party’s humiliating under-performance in Tuesday’s mid-term election, I received an email from Donald J. Trump. It begins: “The RAID on my Mar-a-Lago home was nothing more than unhinged POLITICAL PERSECUTION against ME, YOUR President.” There is no mention of the election results, Congress hanging in the balance, nor the parlous state of the country. It was just a reminder of how unfair people are to Donald Trump. As someone whose life was turned upside down by a criminal conviction stemming from the Russia-probe (about which he whines later in the email – remember, he was…

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Chances are you learn more from defeat than victory. Success, the old saying goes, has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan. Out of graciousness, one tends not to argue about why someone won and allow various people to take credit. Defeat is less forgiving, less fuzzy. It forces you to really think. As long as I’ve been involved in politics, Maine has had a weak state GOP. Statewide office-holders like Bill Cohen, Jock McKernan, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Paul LePage all had to compensate for this by building their own teams – which often rivaled one another.…

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Ken isn’t going to vote on Tuesday. Working in a hardware store in Northern New Hampshire, Ken points to the 2020 election as one reason why one vote doesn’t much matter: “It was supposed to be close last time, but look what happened, Biden won in a landslide. How am I going to make any difference?” Three people I asked who they thought will the U.S. Senate race win on Tuesday furrowed their eyebrows and asked who’s running. Even after I told them, each remained cagey and said they wouldn’t hazard a guess. For those who are paying attention, it…

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President Biden gave Americans “one final warning” that our democracy is at risk this week, his Chief-of-Staff Ron Klain explained in the aftermath of Biden’s second major speech demonizing the right and insinuating that only Democrats are committed to preserving and protecting our system of government. In the final days of the campaign season leading up to Tuesday’s mid-term elections, it’s become clear that this is a top-down message posing as a strategy. On the political yard sign packed median strip of the Franklin arterial in Portland, one in particular caught my attention the other day. It reads: On November…

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When a career politician takes multiple positions on the same issue, is it more confusing because of the head-spinning inconsistency or hurtful because they think we’re too stupid to notice? On the debate stage where she faced off against retired Navy SEAL Ed Thelander, Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-CD1) played a convincing role as the hawk when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She did such a good job that she made her opponent, who has repeatedly seen combat throughout his distinguished military career, sound like the moderate on the stage. But she left out one important detail: Together with…

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Karina Lipsman, the Republican congressional challenger for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, is calling on her opponent, entrenched Democrat Rep. Don Beyer, to step aside from work on sensitive committees – like the House’s Science, Space & Technology panel. Before Beyer is allowed access to the nation’s secrets, she wants to know why one of his key aides was allegedly rounding up other House staffers to attend Chinese embassy events. Friday’s news that Beyer’s scheduler is alleged to have been acting on behalf of the Chinese embassy in Washington would seem more shocking if it did not fit a certain pattern…

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In all likelihood, William Marbury was really bummed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1803 that it lacked jurisdiction in his dispute with then U.S. Secretary of State James Madison. A “midnight judge” appointed by John Adams at the tail end of his presidential administration, Marbury was aggrieved that the new administration essentially told him to go pound sand. All he wanted was to have his appointment to a cushy government job affirmed. What we got instead, constitutional scholars are quick to point out, is much bigger. In explaining why they could not sort out Marbury’s dispute with the…

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Up until a week ago, I wrote a weekly column on politics for three papers in the Mid-coast: The Republican Journal, The Camden Herald, and The Courier-Gazette. In the first week of October, these three ran a piece of mine entitled “Is Chellie Pingree Quiet Quitting?” in which I criticized the six-term congresswoman for being detached from key concerns in the district and suggested a vote for her opponent, Republican Ed Thelander, might better serve our interests. Then I got cancelled. The notice of my cancellation was garbled enough that it is hard to discern what the exact reasons were,…

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