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Secret audio reveals Maine teacher ranting about politics, mocking Trump-supporting parents

Shocking audio obtained by The Maine Wire reveals a Maine public school teacher subjecting a student to a racially charged political rant and telling the middle schooler his conservative parents only support former President Donald Trump because they are uneducated.

The audio, which was recorded in April, features the voice of Ann Cook, a resource room instructor for Gray-New Gloucester Middle School. It was recorded in secret by a middle school student who was concerned with some of the conversations he had had with Cook, including conversations about her and other students’ sexuality.

In the audio, the teacher tells the student that his Trump-supporting parents are uneducated victims of propaganda before proceeding to make several questionable or outright false claims about Trump, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

[RELATED: Hermon Teachers Union: If you don’t like classroom content, buy a new house and move]

“Your father and stepfather are just caught up in the propaganda,” Cook tells the middle schooler. “They believe the lies. And that’s the whole point of lying is that people believe it just ‘cause you say it.”

Cook says that when she sees someone wearing a Trump MAGA hat, she thinks to herself, “that’s somebody who needs to be educated.”

The instructor denigrates former president Trump, claiming he doesn’t pay taxes, while praising the supposed accomplishments of Biden and Harris. She also claims that white people do not go to jail for drug crimes and that “rich white men” are afraid they won’t make as much money because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

[RELATED: Oxford Hills School Board Votes to Require Staff Keep Student “Gender Identity” Changes Secret from Parents]

It’s not immediately clear what prompted Cook’s bizarre political rant during the 8th grader’s study hall. It is also not clear whether other students were in the room at the time.

“[Trump] doesn’t pay taxes,” Cook said. “I pay taxes but he doesn’t pay taxes because he cheats the system.”

“He’s a liar and a cheater and he’s not that smart,” she said. “And apparently he’s not that nice either.”

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Trump’s critics in the Democratic Party and the mainstream media have often falsely accused Trump of failing to pay his taxes. Unlike previous presidential candidates since 1976, Trump did not release his tax returns while running for or holding office. According to tax documents that have become public, Trump has paid millions in federal taxes despite reporting business losses over the years.

Asked whether Biden and Trump got college degrees, Cook tells the student Biden is very well educated but Trump went to a poor college.

“Biden is very well educated,” she said. “Trump has a degree from a college, a very very low level college. And he was a very poor student.”

Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1968. Wharton is widely regarded as one of the best business schools in America.

Biden attended the University of Delaware and later received a law degree from Syracuse University. Biden, who has been caught several times plagiarizing both in his academic career and his political career, has claimed that he finished at the top of his class at Syracuse, but school records show he graduated the law school ranking 76th in a class of 85. Biden has also been caught embellishing his academic record and fabricating accomplishments on several occasions.

In the recording, Cook lavishes Vice President Harris with praise, telling the student that the former California Attorney General helped incarcerate pedophiles and get African-Americans released from prison.

She also tells the middle schooler that American law enforcement does not incarcerate drug offenders if they are white.

“Throughout her career, she’s been guided by the words she spoke the first time she stood up in court, Kamala Harris, for the people,” Cook tells the student. “She specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases, putting pedophiles behind bars,” she tells the middle schoolers. “Do you think that’s a good thing to do? I do too.”

“She created a groundbreaking program to program Instead of putting men in jail – usually its men, usually its men of color, because we don’t put white people in jail for these things – she came up with a program to help them earn a high school diploma and get a job rather than put them in jail,” Cook said.

“Do you think that’s a good thing?,” she said. “I think that’s a good thing.”

Harris has been broadly criticized by civil rights activists for her enforcement of drug laws against predominantly minority communities.

Harris’ presidential campaign against Biden famously imploded when U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) revealed during a debate that Harris was responsible for jailing thousands of black men on low level drug charges.

When the student says that his father told him gas prices have gone up because of the policies of President Biden, Cook tells the student his father is wrong, that gasoline prices have actually gone up because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that “rich white men are afraid they’re not going to be making as much money.”

Although Harris has publicly touted her work on sex crimes and child victimization, her record on the issue is more complicated. As San Francisco’s District Attorney, she stopped that office’s cooperation with victims of the Catholic Church’s systemic abuse of children. Although Harris’ predecessor had built a case against the San Francisco Archdiocese based on several victim’s testimony, Harris declined to pursue the case and refused to make public damning documents sought by victims.

The parent of the student who took the recording asked not to be identified but is known to school district officials because he reported the content of the recording.

After the audio was disclosed to the district, the distract did not take any disciplinary action against Cook. She remains a resource room teacher for the middle school, according to the district’s website. The parent has never met Cook.

The students’ parents kept the audio secret for several months because they feared the teacher and school district officials might target the child and their other children for recrimination.

“I waited to share the recording because I didn’t want him to be targeted at school,” the parent said.

Emails shared with The Maine Wire show the parent communicating concerns with the school district’s principal and sharing the audio recording in September.

Rick Riley-Benoit, the principal of the middle school, said in an email that he had a conversation with Cook after the parents complained.

Riley-Benoit said he had not heard the audio. The email chain shows the audio was sent to Riley-Benoit in September.

The student who took the audio also told his parents that Cook has had conversations about sexuality. According to the parent, the student said Cook told him about her relationships with other women and encouraged him to explore his sexuality, although there is no audio of that conversation. The student also alleged that Cook showed him school files containing private personal information about other students as part of her conversations concerning sexuality.  

Riley-Benoit did not respond to questions regarding these alleged conversations. Nor did he respond to questions regarding the school’s policy on discussing teachers’ and students’ sexuality.

Cook did not respond to an email requesting an interview.

The revelation of political indoctrination in a Maine public school comes as government-run schools across the country are under fire for the perception that teachers and administrators are inserting left-wing politics in place of traditional instruction. Controversial theories about race and gender are increasingly being taught as settled facts rather than the opinions of teachers and academics.

The Maine Wire has submitted a Freedom of Access Act request to the school district seeking public records that may shed light any internal deliberations over Cook’s bizarre rant to the 8th grader.

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A Message to Maine Wire Readers from Steve Robinson

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Greetings Dear Reader,

You may have noticed some changes around The Maine Wire lately. We’ve got a new look, an aggressive and handsome new Editor-in-Chief (me), and a new vision for disrupting Maine news media.

Many of you already know who I am. After spending some time away with the Howie Carr Show and Barstool Sports’ Kirk Minihane Show, I’ve escaped from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts to come home and run the Wire.

I’ve chosen to do this because I love Maine, and I truly believe the Wire has never been more important for Maine’s future.

Since I took over in October, I’ve encountered a shocking amount of fear. Government employees are afraid to speak with press, teachers are afraid to say what’s really happening in their classrooms, and business owners are afraid to criticize politicians.

They’re all afraid because the State government has been weaponized against normal working-class people.

Speak out against Janet Mills’ lockdowns, and the State will come for your liquor license.

Question Nirav Shah or Anthony Fauci, lose your medical license.

Attend a school board meeting, get treated like a bigot and domestic terrorist.

Mainers should never have to live in fear of politicians and bureaucrats, but that’s exactly where we are today.

How did State government get so out of control?

Part of the problem is a lethargic, incurious news media that cheerleads politicians and government officials rather than holding them accountable. Maine needs a vibrant adversarial press, but what we’ve got now are mostly handmaidens of the State.

The only remedy to abusive overreaching state government fearless adversarial journalism.

That’s where the Wire comes in.

As you know from reading our work, in the past two months the Wire has already broken major stories that the mainstream media wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

  • We exposed how one public-school teacher was brainwashing students with left-wing political rants.
  • We’ve revealed how radical left-wing ideas about race and gender have seeped into Maine’s public institutions, including our schools, our medical system, and even our jails.
  • We reported exclusively on Senate President Troy Jackson’s threatening phone call to Jay McCrum, which led his wife Sue to drop out of a State Senate race. (The Bangor Daily News investigated that story for two years but never published it!)

Thanks to this aggressive investigative reporting, the Wire has already experienced tremendous growth. In my first month on the job, we quintupled traffic to the website; in my second month, we smashed that record. But we won’t be satisfied until the Wire is the largest, most influential multimedia news outlet in the State.

To accomplish this, we need to grow. I want to field a team of curious, motivated, and aggressive journalists to stand on the frontlines of our political culture war, serving as the eyes, ears, and voice of freedom-minded Mainers for years to come.

But if we’re going to grow our operation, we need your support.

Now, here’s the part where I ask for money:

Today is Giving Tuesday, which is kind of like Black Friday except you don’t have to punch some stranger to get a discounted TV. So on this occasion I’m asking you to support the Wire in our work.

As a bonus, a generous Maine donor has agreed to match any contributions made to the Wire today up to $25,000. That means your gift will pack twice the punch.

Will you support our work with a gift of $50 or more?

Either way, I hope you will continue to enjoy our work. Thank you for reading!

Very respectfully,

Steve Robinson

Editor-in-Chief

The Maine Wire

Respect for Marriage Act, Backed By Collins, Could Threaten Tax-Exempt Status of Maine’s Churches

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Maine’s churches and other religious non-profits could see their tax exempt status threatened by activist lawsuits if the Senate votes Tuesday to pass the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA).

The RFMA, if passed, would codify the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that the 14th Amendment required states to recognize same-sex marriages. The bill would prevent the Supreme Court from overturning Obergefell at a future date, as some Democrats have feared would happen since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, joined every Democrat and a handful of Republicans in voting for a procedural motions to move the bill forward, but she did so after securing an amendment to the bill aimed at protecting religious institutions.

However, religious liberty advocates and Collins’ conservative colleagues said the language wasn’t strong enough.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah made a last minute push Monday for an amendment authored by Lee, and that amendment will get a roll call vote tomorrow.

Collins’ office did not respond when asked whether she would support the Lee amendment.

Conservatives fear that the current version of the bill sets up religious institutions for harassment from activist-driven lawsuits and potential threats to their tax-exempt status.

“While Collins’ amendment attempts to give protection to religious entities like churches and schools, we do not believe they protect ministries from the inevitable, predatory lawsuits that will follow the passing of the Respect for Marriage Act,” said Mike McClellan, policy director for the Christian Civic League of Maine.

“If the RFMA cannot be stopped, the Christian Civic League would much rather see the Lee Amendment pass as the First Amendment should protect religious freedom of individuals as well as religious organizations,” said McClellan.

In an op-ed published Monday, Lee said Collins and other Republicans supporting the bill were relying on assurances that it will not lead to a litigious attacks on religious organizations — assurances Lee does not trust.

“While the tension between same-sex marriage and religious liberty might not be obvious to many, legal experts have long understood that there is a legitimate risk that, without robust protections in place, federal recognition of same-sex marriage could – read against the backdrop of various federal statutes and the way they have been interpreted by the Supreme Court – inflict harm on those who, for reasons rooted in sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, do not embrace same-sex marriage,” Lee said in the op-ed.

“One potential manifestation of this risk was highlighted in a now-famous exchange between Justice Samuel Alito and then-Solicitor General Donald Verrilli at the time Obergefell was argued in 2015, in which Verrilli correctly (and repeatedly) acknowledged that, once same-sex marriage is recognized nationwide, many colleges, universities and other nonprofits could lose their tax-exempt status based on their refusal, rooted in religious belief, to recognize same-sex marriage,” he said.

Lee’s amendment would prevent the federal government from retaliating against people or groups with sincerely held moral beliefs about marriage that differ from the government’s understanding.

“Under the RFMA’s current language, many religious schools, faith-based organizations, and other nonprofit entities adhering to traditional views of marriage would be at risk of losing tax-exempt status and access to a wide range of federal programs,” said Lee. “Many small businesses would also be affected. For example, wedding vendors (including kosher caterers) would be subjected to endless lawsuits and harassment based solely on their beliefs.”

Lee said his bill is a “no-brainer” that would establish protections for same-sex marriage while also protecting religious freedom and religious organizations.

Disturbing Commercial Celebrates Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program

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Canada has embraced government-assisted suicide with an uncommon vigor, and now at least one private company has joined the pro-euthanasia movement.

Canadian retailer Simons produced and published a disturbing video glamorizing assisted suicide. The ad features a woman named Jennyfer Hatch who killed herself in October.

According to CBC reporting, the 37-year-old ended her life after struggling with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.

Next year, Canada will allow individuals suffering only from mental illness, like depression, to undergo medically assisted suicide.

Watch the ad yourself:

The Canadian government is also exploring expanding it’s medically assisted suicide to include babies up to one year old.

Maine Democrats Plan to Pursue New Gun Control Laws

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A group of Democratic state lawmakers plans to pursue new gun control measures despite Democratic Gov. Janet Mills past refusal to support similar efforts, setting up a potential fight between the Party’s centrists and the far left.

The lawmakers, including Rep. Vicki Doudera (D-Camden) and Rep. Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth), told the Bangor paper they will introduce legislation to restrict the capacity of magazines and institute a stronger background check mechanism.

Doudera told the paper that a series of hoax shooting threats targeting Maine schools justified the push for gun control.

There’s no evidence that the party responsible for making those threats even owns a firearm. It’s not clear how a gun control law would prevent the perpetrator from making these kinds of threats.

The lawmakers also pointed to the recent night club shooting in Colorado as a rationale for pushing more gun control in Maine.

Colorado already has a strict “red flag” law. That law could have prevented the shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, from acquiring or possessing a firearm had prosecutors invoked it a year and a half ago when he held his mother hostage with what he said was an explosive.

Colorado authorities haven’t said why the gun control law was not invoked in Aldrich’s case.

When Maine began allowing eligible residents to carry concealed firearms without a government license in 2015, gun control advocates warned that Wild West-style gun violence would erupt across the state.

Instead, the opposite happened.

Property crime and violent crime have fallen in Maine since the 2015 reform, according to crime data tracked by the FBI.

The reform, introduced by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Auburn) and signed into law by Republican Gov. Paul LePage, ended a state-run gun control program that required individuals to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed firearm. The current policy is known informally as Constitutional Carry.

While rates of violent crime increased nationally from 2015 to 2020, the already low rate of violent crime in Maine has fallen steadily since the 2015 reform, according to FBI data.

Property crimes, such as robbery, larceny, and burglary, which had already been declining since 2012, continued to fall in line with the national trend. Property crime rates are now lower than at any time since 1985, when the FBI data begins.

Boston Pays $2.1 Million to Religious Liberty Advocates Over Anti-Christian Discrimination

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The city of Boston has paid Liberty Counsel, a non-profit organization that litigates in defense of religious freedom, more than $2.1 million following a five-year legal fight over a flag the city refused to fly.

In 2017, Hal Shurtleff, leader of the Christian group Camp Constitution, asked the city to fly his group’s flag outside of City Hall to commemorate Constitution Day.

Boston city officials refused the request despite approving similar requests from other secular organizations.

Starting in 2005, the city began flying flags of any groups that submitted a request. All told, the city displayed 284 flags from private organizations, including rainbow-themed pride flags, without ever denying a single request — until Shurtleff’s.

Shurtleff enlisted the help of Liberty Counsel and ultimately won a 9-0 decision before the Supreme Court in May.

The city claimed that it denied Shurtleff’s request because it did not want to appear to be endorsing a religion. However, the Supreme Court found Boston’s disparate treatment of the Christian group amounted to a violation of their right to freedom of speech in a public forum.

“The City of Boston has learned a costly lesson and paid a high price for religious viewpoint discrimination,” said Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver.

“Government cannot censor religious viewpoints under the guise of government speech,” he said. “The freedom to express religious viewpoints has been made easier thanks to the Christian flag case.”

The Camp Constitution flag, which features a red cross on a blue square against a white background, finally flew in Boston in August.

Major News Outlets Call on U.S. to Drop Charges Against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

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Four European news outlets joined the New York Times on Monday to call on U.S. authorities to drop criminal charges against Wikileaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.

In a joint letter, The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and DER SPIEGEL said the indictment of Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917 was a threat to journalism.

“This indictment sets a dangerous precedent, and threatens to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press,” the letter states.

Wikileaks, founded in 2006, serves as a public repository of leaked records ranging from diplomatic cables and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails to internal documents from Amazon and secret Vatican records.

Wikileaks first drew the attention of the American public — and the government — in 2010 when it published U.S. military files leaked by Bradley Manning. Those files included footage showing a U.S. helicopter attack on a group of men in Iraq that included two Reuters journalists.

“The Obama-Biden Administration, in office during the Wikileaks publication in 2010, refrained from indicting Assange, explaining that they would have had to indict journalists from major news outlets too,” the letter states.

Later that year, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange based on allegations of sexual misconduct; however, Assange has always maintained that those allegations were merely a pretext to have him extradited to the U.S. as punishment for publishing U.S. military secrets. Sweden dropped its investigation in 2019.

In 2016, Wikileaks again drew massive international attention when it released emails obtained from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The emails, which had been processed through her private server, embarrassed the Clinton campaign and provided much fodder for then-candidate Donald Trump.

While President Trump was in office, Assange was charged under the Espionage Act. He is currently in a British prison as he fights further attempts to have him extradited to the U.S.

The news organizations now calling on the U.S. to end the prosecution of Assange have benefited from his journalism in the past. In 2010, for example, the New York Times partnered with him to publish leaked military cables in a series of stories dubbed CableGate.

But the organizations also see Assange’s treatment as symbolic of the U.S. attitude towards publishing government secrets, like the Pentagon Papers or the classified secrets about America’s mass surveillance shared by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“Obtaining and disclosing sensitive information when necessary in the public interest is a core part of the daily work of journalists,” the letter states. “If that work is criminalised, our public discourse and our democracies are made significantly weaker.”

Fauci Deposition Shows Systemic U.S. Censorship Campaign

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Dr. Anthony Fauci sat last week for a seven-hour deposition taken by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana as part of a lawsuit the two states filed over claims of federal and corporate censorship.

The lawsuit alleges that various government officials from multiple government agencies leaned on social media companies to enforce Beijing-style censorship on social media, limiting debate over COVID-19 policies and science.

While billed as an effort to restrict the flow of “misinformation,” the effort wound up blocking the spread of accurate and true news reporting on COVID-19 and pandemic policies.

Although a judge ordered Fauci’s deposition sealed, bits of information have leaked out that confirm he conspired with social media platforms Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to control the spread of information. Most of what we know about the deposition comes from tweets posted by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney Jeff Landry.

Fauci adopted the well-worn strategy of professing ignorance in the face of tough questions. Landry tweeted that Fauci “can’t recall practically anything dealing with his Covid response!”

Schmitt said Friday that Fauci, a well-known proponent of masking, emailed a personal friend in February of 2020 to tell her that masking was not effective.

Schmitt also said that Fauci, while publicly denouncing the theory that COVID-19 originated in a virology lab in Wuhan, was privately admitting that the lab-leak theory was entirely possible.

Schmitt alleges that Fauci downplayed the lab-leak theory in order to protect himself from being connected to the outbreak over his decision to fund gain-of-function research at the WIV. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Fauci provided funding to the EcoHealth Alliance and its director Dr. Peter Daszak. EcoHealth subsequently provided some of that grant money to WIV to study coronaviruses in bats.

A comprehensive Pro Publica investigation published last month concluded that the most likely origin of the outbreak was in fact the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). However, thanks to coordination between federal officials and social media companies, making that claim one year ago would have gotten videos removed from YouTube or posts censored on Facebook and Twitter.

The deposition also revealed that Fauci dispatched NAIAD employee Clifford Lane to Wuhan in February of 2020 to investigate how China was handling the outbreak. Upon return, Lane convinced Fauci that China’s severe lockdowns were working. Although this wasn’t accurate, it informed Fauci’s own advocacy for strict lockdowns.

Schmitt also said Fauci at one point demanded that a court reporter who had sneezed don a mask.

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who is now an MSNBC show host, will be deposed on Dec. 8.

Patten Goes to Twitter

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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 aura was surprisingly orderly, and polite. No streams of angry young millennials storming out of the building cardboard boxes in hand, and – unlike the University of California at Berkeley this morning – no militant picket lines of protestors either.

Much of that, I’m told, is happening further south in Hollywood.

Publicly available parking beneath the building and a well-appointed food market on the ground give Joe Q. Public a pretext to enter Twitter’s hallowed halls. But I was unable to gain access to any other floors via the elevator bank, so had to restrict my observations to the public areas without fully seeing all the machinations behind the curtains. Still, things looked pretty, well, normal on the surface.

“I wouldn’t bet against Elon,” Michael told me as he ate his high-end ramen noodles in the atrium where we shared a fire-pit. Michael claims he does not work for Twitter but rather one of Musk’s other companies and is not, he insisted, a software engineer. But he has been coming to this spot for lunch twice a week for some time, and so has what you might call environmental awareness.

“You do not need 7,500 people to run this company, I can tell you that,” Michael noted when I asked him about recent comings and goings. He did say that activity in the building has increased dramatically since the new owner insisted that employees actually show up at the office.

My reporting assistant suspected that Michael actually is a Twitter employee and is just pulling the wool over my eyes since I (somewhat) truthfully told him I am a journalist when he asked. I must feel lucky to be here and not in freezing cold Maine, he speculated, and I just nodded to keep him talking.

I asked him about the news coverage of celebrities leaving Twitter in droves what he thought of that.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying to watch the circus,” he said, speaking solely for himself. “Where would you go anyway?” When I mentioned Mastodon, he just laughed.

A young, Asian-American passerby overheard our conversation and stopped to chime in, but did not share his name.

“Nobody in this building is going anywhere either,” he interjected having only caught a snippet of my conversation with Michael. “The industry-wide recession is real. Facebook just laid off 10,000 and so did Amazon, people in the tech industry are not blind to what’s going on.”

Neither Michael nor the unnamed observer would hazard a guess about Twitter’s long-term prospects, though Michael believes if anyone can make the company survive, Musk can.

All in all, my impromptu site visit was anti-climactic. Perhaps I would have been better off stopping by the Pelosi residence to see how the security upgrades are progressing, but that seemed rather overtaken by events, so I stuck to the trending news story. Functional people, it seems, are doing just fine at Twitter. Now if I can just figure out how to get my account to tell me something I really need to know.

Climate Change Alarmism is About Control, Not Maine’s Environment

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For more than 30 years, Americans have been propagandized with a climate alarmist apocalyptic message: global warming (now climate change) is an existential threat to the planet caused by humans (specifically by capitalism, greed and fossil fuels) and we must stop using fossil fuels to save the planet. The propagandists include the left, the Democratic Party, academia and most of the grant-driven science community. They have now been joined by the Sunrise County Economic Council, which was originally a center-right non-profit established to promote economic development in Washington County, but has now morphed into a full service leftist grant whore promoting state power and climate alarmism.

COP stands for conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which started with COP1 in Berlin 1995. COP3 in 1997 negotiated the infamous Kyoto Protocol, where Vice President Al Gore led the way to an international treaty that pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, as an international Treaty, Kyoto required Senate ratification (for Constitutional and Democracy reasons), which never happened. Nevertheless, blue states like Maine pursued policies to implement the Kyoto Protocol, because you cannot let Republicans and annoying constitutional democracy requirements for consent of the governed get in the way of saving the planet.

COP15 gave us the Paris agreement to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The voluntarily was very important, because as a voluntary executive agreement, Paris supposedly did not require Senate ratification (which it would not have got). Paris did require a 4 year opt out waiting period, so the evil orange guy got America out for a few months before Brandon put us back in, while apologizing for the rude exit in a reminder of the unlamented craven Obama apology of 2009-2016.

COP22, just completed in Egypt, gave us climate reparations, where evil developed nations will make payments to developing nations (including #1 greenhouse gas emitter China) to signal our sincere regret.

Back in the 90’s,when I thought that the climate alarmists were just misguided (as opposed to being deluded anti-capitalist eco-fascists), I used to ask this simple question: How much global warming (this existential apocalyptic problem that we have to address now to save the planet) will this policy avert?

I never, ever got an answer, because the answer was none. That was true of Kyoto, the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Agreement (an updated regional version of Kyoto signed by Angus King in 2001), Paris, Janet Mills’ Climate Action Plan and the new Climate Reparations agreement (which I am sure Maine’s Congressional delegation will wholeheartedly support with our tax dollars, especially Finance Committee Vice Chair Susan Collins).

In 2001, I briefed the Maine House Republican caucus on emerging global warming policy. Rep. Henry Joy stopped me after I asked that very question about how much global warming would be averted and said- it’s not about saving the planet, it’s about control. He was absolutely right.

The high prices for gasoline, electricity and heating oil are deliberate policy choices made by Brandon and the climate alarmists. They are the predictable consequences of the war on fossil fuels. Our economy and standard of living are the victims of climate alarmism and the environmental left. There will be no measurable effect on the climate, but freedom and prosperity will be diminished. And that is really the point- and the goal.

SBF, Still a Free Man, to Speak at New York Times Confab

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Sam Bankman-Fried, disgraced founder of a now-bankrupt crypto empire that appears to have engaged in securities fraud, accounting fraud, and banking fraud, is enjoying life at his Bahamas manse and will soon participate in a New York Times conference.

Bankman-Fried is slated to appear at NYT’s DealBook alongside other notable guests, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and more.

Social media users widely mocked the decision to go forward with Bankman-Fried’s speech, which was scheduled before the collapse of his companies revealed widespread mismanagement and the misappropriation of customer funds.

Many noted that infamous Ponzi scheme con artist Bernard Madoff was arrested 24 hours after his schemes became public. Yet Bankman-Fried continues to tweet like a free man unconcerned with possible arrest by U.S. authorities, and the New York Times continues to publish glowing puff pieces on him.

This story, for example, examines Bankman-Fried’s alleged philanthropy without ever mentioning that his charitable giving was made possible by fraud and often involved giving away other people’s money.

Twitter owner Elon Musk described the media’s treatment of fallen crypto king as one of the biggest failures in U.S. journalistic integrity of the 21st century.

Other users took a more conspiratorial angle, wondering what’s going on behind the scenes that has prevented U.S. authorities from seizing Bankman-Fried and any records that might shed light on his financial misconduct.

Watch: Steve Robinson on Mass COVID-19 Spyware with Newsmax

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Maine Wire Editor-in-Chief Steve Robinson joined Newsmax’s National Report to talk about The Maine Wire’s coverage of a lawsuit against the Mass. Department of Public Health and Commissioner Margret Clarke.

Watch here:

ACLU Defends Massachusetts COVID-19 Spyware Hacking in Half-Assed Boston Globe Story

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In a bizarre Boston Globe story, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts expressed skepticism of a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Department of Public Health — a lawsuit that alleges a vast breach of privacy and violation of human rights on the part of the state government.

[RELATED: Massachusetts Secretly Installed COVID Spyware App on Smart Phones: Lawsuit…]

The Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) conspired with Google to install spyware on Android phones in Massachusetts — without the users’ knowledge or permission — in 2021 and 2022 as part of a COVID-19 contact tracing effort, according to a lawsuit filed Nov. 14 in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.

The lawsuit cites hundreds of public complaints about the spyware — “Mass Notify” — installing itself on users phones without the permission of the user. The plaintiff’s analysis also claims the app collected and transmitted data on users whether they activated the program or not.

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and Mass. DPH Commissioner Margret Clarke have refused for more than a week to answer even basic questions about the application, who authorized it, and what was done with the data unwittingly collected on more than one million American citizens.

[RELATED: Massachusetts Officials Refuse to Say Who Authorized Illegal COVID-19 Spyware…]

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which in recent years has transformed into a left-wing political organization rather than an organization committed to civil liberties, told the Boston Globe people shouldn’t really be concerned about the alleged violations of constitutional protections and human rights.

“The technology at issue in this case is very low on the list of things that should concern smartphone users,” said ACLU of Mass. Director of Technology Kade Crockford told the Boston Globe.

“While the technology’s value in terms of reducing viral transmission has not been demonstrated, we have seen no evidence that the system is violating people’s privacy,” she said.

Crockford didn’t say what steps she’d taken to look for evidence of a privacy violation and it’s not clear that she read the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the application collected and transmitted data to third-parties without users’ permission or knowledge using Bluetooth and wireless connections. That information included data on an individuals location and interaction with other smartphone users. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ analysis, that information could be de-anonymized by those who possess it to connect the private data with an individual.

The Boston Globe also attempted to delegitimize the lawsuit by noting that two of the lawyers representing plaintiffs in the case work for a non-profit group — the New Civil Liberties Alliance — which the paper claims has received funding from libertarian philanthropist Charles Koch.

Information about NCLA’s funding is included in the second paragraph of the story, an obvious attempt to downplay the assertions in the lawsuit. Yet Hiawatha Bray, the Boston Globe reporter who wrote the story, doesn’t include any information about the donors to the ACLU of Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe is owned by left-wing billionaire John W. Henry II, 73, and run by his wife Linda Pizutti, 44.

Henry has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party political committees over the years and is the owner of the Boston Red Sox. Henry also owns the Elysian, a yacht.

You can read the lawsuit for yourself here.

Maine GOP: Not Our Fault We Lost Big Races

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The Maine Republican Party is not to blame for Maine Republicans losing early and often on Election Day, according to Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas and GOP Executive Director Jason Savage.

That’s the conclusion Maine’s top Republican officials reached a full two weeks after Nov. 8.

“In many areas, Republicans had great success, flipping some legislative seats and many county and local seats in our favor,” the Party officials said in a statement.

“The top of our ticket appears to have been influenced by events beyond the control of a state political party,” it said.

The email doesn’t specify which events are to blame for the widespread underperformance of Maine Republicans.

In the midterm elections, Republican candidates lost a gubernatorial election and two congressional elections, and failed to retake a majority in either house of the State Legislature.

Republican turnout was weak across the state, with former Gov. Paul LePage receiving fewer votes in major municipalities than he did in 2014 and fewer than Republican Shawn Moody did in 2018.

The only Maine Republican in federal elected office is U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Kouzounas, who won a third term as party chair in January of 2021, has not said whether she’ll seek another term as the Party’s leader.

NBC “Disinformation” Reporters Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny’s Bad Week

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It’s not a great time to be working the so-called “disinformation” beat.

For the uninitiated, the “disinformation” reporter is a relative new creation of the mainstream media. The species came into existence about the same time the legacy corporate media realized they needed something a little more partisan and aggressive to combat President Donald Trump and the rise of successful right-wing social media content creators. For example, the most popular reporters in this genre were heavily involved in assuring the American people that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a Russian hoax. (Don’t bother pointing out to them the irony for it is surely a lost cause.)

On their best days, “disinformation” reporters exist to singularly “fact-check” conservative voices and social media accounts while simultaneously leaving President Biden and other well known liberal liars free to spin wild yarns about Corn Pop. But on their worst days… well, we’re seeing that now.

Enter Ben Collins, NBC’s pajama boy par excellence who claims to work the “dystopia” beat. Collins spent the week hollering blood libel at conservatives over the tragic shooting at a gay night club in Colorado. Five souls were lost, but Collins was in front of a camera before full facts were known to accuse Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, and the popular Twitter account @LibsOfTiktok of culpability in the attack over their opposition to subjecting children to sex-change surgeries.

We see some version of that from left-wing media after ever atrocity like this. When liberal gun control laws fail, as they did in this case considering the shooter was arrested for making a bomb threat but still managed to pass Colorado’s background check, they start reaching. The New York Times accused Sarah Palin of causing the shooting of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords. The Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, carried out by a fanatic who pledged allegiance to ISIS, was blamed on Republicans.

Here’s Collins in a widely shared, widely viewed MSNBC clip laying blame at the feet of people who did not know the shooter and were not in Colorado when it happened.

But Collins story changed Monday night when some new information came out about Anderson Lee Aldrich, the suspect in Saturday’s shooting.

Turns out Aldrich changed his name years ago to escape connection to his MMA fighter / pornstar / meth user father. Once that was discovered following a legal filing, reporters were able to glean that Aldrich, formerly Nicholas F. Brink, was the victim of an elaborate cyber bullying campaign.

The legal filing also said Aldrich was “non-binary” and preferred they/them pronouns.

Conservatives on social media were quick to say this fact inverted the entire mainstream media narrative surrounding the shooting. Rather than a MAGA inspired right-wing terrorists, Aldrich was actually a member of the ever-growing LGBTQI+ community. But what does that even mean? I’d rather wait for more information to come out before drawing any conclusions, but it’s safe to say the facts in the legal filing should cause corporate media talking heads to pause before leveling further blood libel at conservatives. The situation is a tad more complicated, and the simplest, most honest route is to blame individuals for their own actions.

But Collins is undaunted. For him, the new information just changed the way Republicans and conservatives are to blame.

Rather than inspire the shooter with anti-trans rhetoric, these conservatives alienated “them” with that same rhetoric and are therefore responsible for bullying him into doing what he did. For Collins, the individual is not to blame, regardless of the circumstances; only conservatives are to blame.

Seriously, read the thread. Aldrich went from right-wing MAGA “stochastic” terrorist to a vulnerable member of a marginalized community in minutes. Do they think people won’t notice this?

What a strange blend of half-baked theories for a “disinformation” reporter to be piping to his nearly 400k followers. The dude is such a lightweight liar he even managed to get body bagged a day before this by Nate Silver of all people.

And silver is right with his broader point: the “disinformation” beat is filled with phonies and partisan hacks. Here’s another instance, also from NBC: Brandy Zadrozny.

Zadrozny, like Collins, spent the immediate aftermath of the shooting trying to tie conservatives to the culprit. She posted rants about Elon Musk bringing Jordan Petersen, a popular Canadian podcaster, and the Babylon Bee, a conservative comedy site, back on Twitter. During a segment on MSNBC, Zadrozny directly linked conservative commentators and social media accounts to the attack.

Then, remarkably, the disinformation reporter claimed that she did not say exactly what she said in the video. You read that right. She even went so far as to ask Free Beacon to delete the tweet claiming she said exactly what she said in the video. Disinfo, indeed.

More Free Advice for Trump Special Counsel Jack Smith

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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 in a guest column in today’s New York Times. Haunted that he is by his own failure to nail Trump to the wall when he had his chance, Weissmann bears his soul in his prescriptive piece. What his boss Robert Mueller got wrong, the aggressive prosecutor laments, was his hesitancy to “educate” and “communicate” about the process.

Indeed, Weissmann’s memoir entitled “Where Law Ends,” also chafes at the so-called constraints of the special prosecutor’s office. Mueller was too careful to avoid the press when he didn’t need to be, his former deputy suggests. Then there was the great disappointment that a special counsel himself cannot indict a sitting president – something that you’d think they’d have known at the outset of the process.

So instead of simply doing his actual job in assessing how the facts surrounding January 6th and the materials seized in the August Mar-a-Lago raid do or do not amount to criminality, Smith should also manage our expectations. For a nation in decline, setting the frame of what to hope for and what to expect is, of course, critical. Proper narratives require nothing less.

Too bad John Durham, whom former Attorney General Bill Barr tapped to look into malfeasance in the whipping up of the Russia-gate narrative, didn’t get the same degree of personal coaching. But it stands to reason that he didn’t – after all, his mandate was grubbier much like that of the internal affairs cops who everyone hates, but must nonetheless pick out the bad apples in any department.

Expectations do matter. Just ask poor Chelsea Handler who confessed to Ellen DeGeneres in 2019 that she had sexual feelings for Mueller:

 “From what I can tell under his business attire, there is a six- to eight-pack…He was a Marine. If you can keep your act together for that long, I want to talk about penetration,” Handler cooed as Ellen tried to look understanding.

In an effort to explain away those feelings after Mueller failed to perform, the comedian suggested they might be connected to her own “daddy issues.”

Unlike Mueller, former special prosecutor Ken Starr was successful in bringing charges that led to an impeachment of Bill Clinton (neither of the Nancy Pelosi-led House impeachments of Trump derived from Mueller’s probe). But regrettably, Starr’s recent passing denies Jack Smith the benefit of his real-time advice. Ditto Archibald Cox, who was so effective in his probe that then President Richard Nixon sparked the “Saturday Night Massacre” of Justice Department officials who refused his order to the special counsel before he could conclude his work.

All of this projection aside, we don’t know a ton about Jack Smith except that he has several notches in his belt when it comes to prosecuting Republican politicians and Balkan warlords (because what’s the difference, really?) According to the MaineWire, he also cavorted with former IRS chief Lois Lerner, who reportedly misused her authority to harass conservative groups aligned with the Tea Party. But that was then and this is now.

Here are two common-sense recommendations from the peanut gallery. First, Mueller does have a lesson for Smith that Weissmann completely missed: restraint. The special counsel is not Yosemite Sam, no matter how much the Chelsea Handlers of the world wish him to be so. And secondly, the Justice Department – which has yet to indict First Son Hunter Biden and may never do – urgently needs to restore its credibility in the eyes of the American people.

Did Durham take two cases to trial knowing he would lose? It’s tough to say because he doesn’t write NYT op-eds. But the days of shooting at the king (or even ex-king) and missing are over. Perhaps he should avoid advice from prosecutors and consult instead with former CIA director George Tenet on what precisely constitutes a “slam dunk.” He’d better know this at least before he finishes his report.

GHRT: Posik on Gov. Mills Anti-Journalist Schemes

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Maine Policy Institute Communications Director Jacob Posik joined WVOM’s George Hale and Ric Tyler radio program Monday morning to talk about stunning revelations that Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her staff conspired to block The Maine Wire from covering official government business.

New facts emerged this week that showed Mills’ staffer Scott Ogden scheming behind the scenes with newspaper reporters to execute the plan after a move to block Maine Wire Reporter Katherine Revello from COVID-19 briefing calls backfired.

Ogden sought the Maine Press Association’s help in creating a credentialing system that would have given Mills a pretext to deny access to the Maine Wire and other media outlets not deemed friendly enough. Stunningly, members of the Maine media never reported on this attempt to stymie adversarial journalism and only provided evidence to Maine Wire more than one year later.

Read more here:

Listen to Jacob below:

Full Disclosure: The Maine Policy Institute is a 501(c)3 free market think tank that owns TheMaineWire.com.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Savages Wall Street Journal’s Bogus Story Tying SBF’s FTX to Trump

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There’s reaching for a headline and there’s … whatever the Wall Street Journal was trying to do with this gem of an opinion piece: “What Donald Trump and Sam Bankman-Fried Have in Common.”

The column, by WSJ editorial board member Allysia Finley, attempts to connect former President Donald Trump to the disgraced former crypto king with thin gruel and a Hemingway quote.

[RELATED: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Collapse Touches Ukraine, the World Economic Forum, Silicon Valley and Both Sides of D.C….]

If you haven’t been following the SBF/FTX saga, you can check out The Maine Wire’s extensive coverage. The short version is: SBF pretended to be a good liberal, donated $50 million to Democrats, and talked about how awesome ESG rules were, so he was able to escape scrutiny for running a fraudulent crypto empire that is now responsible for losing billions in client money. Even after the revelations about the stunning depth of his duplicity and incompetence, the New York Times is still pushing puff pieces on him.

[RELATED: Top FTX Executive Nishad Singh Gave Maine Democrats $100,000…]

When WSJ tweeted out the column, Twitter helpfully appended a devastating fact-check to the story. Before Elon came along, these kind of fact-checks were reserved for true stories about Hunter Biden’s crack smoking escapades, but now they’re actually applying them to factually incorrect information. Progress!

Massachusetts, Maine Struggle to Fund Illegal Immigrant, Asylum Seeker Emergency Housing

The New England states are facing a looming crisis over how to pay for housing for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers now that federal funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program is drying up.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has asked state lawmakers to approve $130 million in funding that would support existing shelters and pay to construct new housing to accommodate more than 10,000 illegal aliens. Most of them crossed into the U.S. over the southern border illegally, according to the Boston Globe.

In Maine, a state commission has said they want $182 million per year in taxpayer funding to accommodate ERA benefit recipients, an unknown number of which are non-residents currently living in hotels and motels — mostly in southern Maine — with the ERA program picking up the tab.

New Hampshire is also scrambling to find money now that federal funds are gone. According to the New Hampshire Bulletin, some state lawmakers want an emergency $20 million specifically for those living in hotels and motels. The state estimates there are 700 people who would benefit from the funding.

Vermont lawmakers met last week in an attempt to confront the problem. The state has spent $456 million over the last six years on emergency shelter programs, yet homelessness is mysteriously still on the rise. Vermont, unlike other New England states, has finagled $37 million in federal funds that will support emergency housing programs until March.

The U.S. Congress created the ERA program in order to help Americans stay housed when the government lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 undermined their ability to work. Two bills, the first signed by President Donald Trump and the second by President Joe Biden, gave states massive tranches of money to handout to individuals who claimed they were having trouble making rent payments.

[RELATED: Maine Emergency Rental Assistance Ending As Funding Dwindles…]

More than 30,000 Mainers took advantage of the ERA program from 2021 to 2022, and thousands of individuals are still receiving support or are part of a family unit that is.

The Maine Housing Authority, which administered the program for the state, was able to stretch the federal funding for the program to the end of November, just past the election, but now the crisis is coming to a head as eviction notices begin rolling in to tenants who can no longer make rent.

Maine Housing doesn’t know the immigration status of the more than 400 families living in hotels and motels. The state never attempted to count the number of non-residents benefiting from the program, so state officials have no idea how many illegal aliens and asylum seekers have been receiving housing benefits.

Immigration advocates reported last year that approximately 1,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti, had arrived in Maine after crossing the southern border.

Trump and Biden’s federal funding bills did not contain any requirement that recipients be legal residents of the U.S. Although some states imposed residency requirements on the program, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts did not.

Maine Housing wasn’t able to say who made the decision in Maine not to impose a citizenship requirement on the program.

The result is that thousands of illegal aliens and asylum seekers, who can’t legally work in the U.S., will end up evicted and potentially homeless — while unable to legally work — in the middle of a New England winter. It’s a crisis that was entirely predictable several months ago, but the state has done little to prepare.

[RELATED: State Commission Wants New $182M Per Year Welfare Program for Renters, Including Asylum Seekers…]

The Commission to Increase Housing Opportunities in Maine, a panel comprised of left-wing community organizers and state lawmakers, has told Maine Public that their solution to the problem is a permanent new state welfare program. If that potential welfare program follows the ERA model, there will be no citizenship requirement, meaning Maine taxpayers would be on the hook for some illegal aliens’ and asylum seekers’ rent permanently.

Maine Housing told the state commission that funding the ERA program in the absence of federal support would cost an estimated $182 million per year, though it’s unclear how they arrived at that estimate. Funding that kind of spending was easy in 2020 and 2021 when billions of federal dollars were sloshing around Maine’s coffers. In the absence of such federal largesse, Mills and Democratic lawmakers haven’t hinted at where the money might come from.

During the gubernatorial debates last month, Mills, a Democrat, said Maine needs these asylum seekers to fill job vacancies in the state.

The prospect of free or subsidized housing, in concert with other benefit programs administered by state and local agencies, would create a strong incentive for those who enter the country illegally, legitimate refugees, and those who pose as asylum seekers to head to Maine. But under federal law illegal aliens and asylum seekers are not authorized to work legally in the U.S.

Asylum seekers may only be authorized to work once their asylum requests are approved and they are granted permanent resident status.

However, federal data show that in recent years only 14 percent of asylum applicants have actually been approved.

That raises the question of how Maine will accommodate the other 86 percent who have arrived in Maine, sought housing, enrolled their kids in public schools, and now can’t work legally.

Mills said in the debates that she intended to call on the U.S. Congress and President Biden to change the work rules and allow asylum seekers and some non-residents to work legally in the U.S. — a policy change her opponent former Republican Gov. Paul LePage supported.

There’s no public indication that she has acted on the pledge yet. Any federal change of that magnitude would have to clear the House of Representatives, now under the control of a Republican majority that is hawkish on matters of illegal immigration.

Eight Stories Maine Media Thought Were More Interesting Than Gov. Mills’ Attack on Press Freedom

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The Maine Wire revealed Monday that Gov. Janet Mills tried to lean on the Maine Press Association to establish a credentialing system for Maine media. Although the administration compared the system to Standing Committee of Correspondents, which vets and provides credentials to political reporters in Washington, D.C., Mills’ request was obviously an attempt blacklist The Maine Wire.

The Mills administration received backlash when they attempted to ban The Maine Wire’s Katherine Revello outright from their COVID-19 briefings, so they were trying to get the MPA to give them a pretext for accomplishing their goal: banning critical, adversarial reporting on government officials.

That Mills would attempt such a inartful crack down on a mildly critical journalist is newsworthy. However, dozens of members of Maine’s media knew about Mills’ request and refused to publish news articles on it. (Look for yourself at the august board of the Maine Press Association — they all likely knew what Mills was trying to do.) Facts about Mills’ request have only emerged because, more than one year later, an employee of a Maine media company reached out privately to share MPA’s response to the administration. Notably, the MPA declined the request to create a list of “approved” journalists for the administration, but they only did so because they lack the resources to manage a project like that. A better funded MPA may have acquiesced to the administration’s request to create a special, private club of credentialed journalists who are allowed to cover Gov. Mills — the only qualification for entry being favorable coverage of government schemes.

[RELATED: Letter Reveals Mills Sought White List for Maine Media in Bid to Block Critical Coverage…]

Now, you might think this whole affray — Mills trying to ban critical reporters, the MPA saying no, several of Maine’s largest media companies keeping the entire thing secret for more than a year — you might think that’s all news worthy. We did. The Maine Policy Institute, a free market think tank that owns The Maine Wire, issued a press release on the subject, the Wire has published our own stories, and we’ve been noisy about the story on social media. But Maine’s vaunted newspapers, the Bangor Daily News, the Press Herald, and the Lewiston Sun Journal, along with all the dinosaur TV news companies, have been utterly silent on Mills’ attack on press freedom.

So as a public service, here’s a list of all the news stories Maine’s heroic newspaper publishers and TV news reporters thought were more newsworthy than the governor attempting to limit the free press in Maine:

1.) Another story about Sen. Susan Collins being a moderate Republican from the Bangor Daily News:

2.) The Press Herald thought this pair of national stories were more interesting than Maine’s governor trying to limit press freedom. I wonder why…?

3.) My personal favorite at MainePublic.org: A news wrap-up for … Connecticut?

4.) A heartwarming story about a man and his stump from Newscenter Maine.

5.) Just amazing front page content here from the Sun Journal. Is this what you have to write in order to get on Mills’ list of approved reporters?

6.) There are what, like 12 people interested in this story from the Sun Journal?

7.) Ole Sherlock Holmes at the Bangor Daily News really plumbing the depth of a mystery here…

8.) I know this is a volunteer contribution, but it still makes the list. Just overwhelming levels of baby boomer faux luddite stupidity that stopped being funny three decades ago. If you don’t want to click through, I’ll save you the time: He wants to sell dog poop. That’s it. That’s the joke. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when some hipster editors at the Press Herald read this and thought, “It’s not very funny, but Adam Lee buys a lot of advertising in Maine…” I typically don’t read the comments, but I’m with Mike99 and CelticFrost on this.

Fake Meat Company’s Factory is Filthy: Whistleblower

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Beyond Meat was a viral sensation that’s now viral in a whole different way.

The company sells artificial “meat” made from plant proteins, but a whistleblower who shared information with Bloomberg News suggests that’s not the only organic material in the fake burgers.

According to the whistleblower, the firm’s Pennsylvania factory has some serious sanitation issues, including potentially dangerous fungi and bacteria on the production line.

Pictures from the factory show storage rooms with mold growing on ingredient containers, and Bloomberg reported that multiple samples of the alleged food product tested positive for Listeria in 2022.

Internal company documents shared with Bloomberg include reports of foreign objects such as string, metal, wood, and plastic turning up in the imitation critter.

Shortly after its initial public offering in 2019, Beyond Meat’s stock price ballooned to more than $234 per share, but now the shares trade for less than $15.

Massachusetts Officials Refuse to Say Who Authorized Illegal COVID-19 Spyware

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Margret R. Cooke are refusing to say who authorized the illegal installation of COVID-19 “Mass Notify” spyware on the smartphones of potentially millions of individuals who lived in or traveled through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The revelation that Massachusetts authorities partnered with Google to install contact tracing spyware on Android devices without the permission or knowledge of users came to light as the result of a class action lawsuit filed against DPH on Nov. 14 in U.S. District Court.

Plaintiffs Robert Wright and Johnny Kula are suing the Mass. Department of Public Health (DPH) along with Cooke in a lawsuit that alleges numerous violations of New Englanders’ constitutional rights as well as a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

[RELATED: Massachusetts Secretly Installed COVID Spyware App on Smart Phones: Lawsuit…]

No one in the Baker administration has denied the allegations. If true, the claims raise serious questions about the government’s invasion of individuals’ privacy and whether proper steps were taken to keep data collected from the program secure. But the big unanswered question here is who ultimately authorized the intrusion into smart phones to secretly install the software without users’ permission?

The spyware app — “Mass Notify” — was originally a voluntary program the state encouraged residents to download onto their phones as part of an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19.

However, when too few people downloaded the app, a decision was made to force install the program onto smartphones without user permission.

The app would then collect data on individuals’ location, including the users’ proximity to others who had the app on their devices, and transmit that data back to Google and/or the state. The true scope of data collected on individuals and how that data was stored is unknown at this time.

Massachusetts residents were not the only ones targeted with the spyware. According to the suit, a New Hampshire resident who works in Massachusetts also found the program installed on his smartphone without his knowledge or permission.

At least two Maine residents have reported finding the app on their phones as well. One Maine resident whose only travel to Massachusetts in the last three years occurred in September said the “Mass Notify” app was installed on her phone without her permission.

State officials won’t say whether the program is ongoing and Baker’s office has not responded to multiple phone calls and emails.

Last week, DPH’s Media Relations Director Ann Scales said in an email the DPH doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

DPH Commissioner Margret Cooke did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Instead, Scales called warning this reporter against contacting Cooke.

DPH Commissioner Margret Cooke (left) with Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey (right)

“There’s nothing you’re going to get from her that you won’t get from me. I’d appreciate it if you went through the Media Relations Office like everyone else,” she said.

The Boston Globe has not covered the lawsuit, but the Boston Herald dedicated a front page spread to to story on Saturday.

Scales issued the same statement to the Herald, but the Herald report doesn’t say whether it sought comment from Baker’s office.

Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey’s office did not respond to an email and phone call asking whether her office was investigating the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

Asked whether Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey would be investigating the cases of Mainers who found the spyware on their phones, his office declined to comment.

“If our office is investigating, we aren’t allowed to disclose that,” and spokeswoman said.

New Trump Special Counsel Met with IRS’ Lois Lerner on Targeting Tea Party Groups

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The special counsel Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Friday to investigate former President Donald Trump, Jack Smith, formerly ran the Justice Department unit that worked with the IRS to target conservative non-profits during the 2010 Tea Party movement.

Jack Smith, the new special counsel, is tasked with investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 protests as well as classified documents that were stored at Mar-a-Lago. But his connections to a well-known case of government actors targeting conservatives and suppressing conservative political activism raises questions about his neutrality.

In 2014, the House Oversight Committee found that Smith was responsible for setting up a meeting with infamous IRS employee Lois Lerner, ringleader of the effort to intentionally delay the non-profit status applications for any groups with conservative sounding names.

“The Oversight Committee obtained testimony from a DOJ official named Richard Pilger in 2014 that showed Smith set up a meeting with Lerner to discuss more aggressive enforcement of regulations prohibiting tax-exempt groups from engaging in politics in the aftermath of the landmark Citizens United free speech Supreme Court case,” reports JustTheNews.com, which was the first outlet to report on Smith’s connection to the tea party targeting scandal.

Read more about the story here.

CBS Decides Hunter Biden’s Laptop No Longer Russian Disinformation

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When the New York Post first broke the story that an abandoned laptop contained a treasure trove of incriminating evidence related to then-candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the mainstream media widely derided the report as Russian disinformation without any evidence for the claim. Twitter and Facebook both censored the spread of the story in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. A host of former U.S. intelligence officials all signed a letter supporting the move. Yet no element of the New York Post’s original reporting has ever been proven false. And now, legacy media are suddenly willing to report on the laptop and its contents.

Television news network CBS has — more than two years after the Post broke the story — endeavored to cover the story for itself, finding no evidence the laptop was fake or tampered with.

Posik: Mainstream Outlets Mute on Mills’ Attempts to Violate First Amendment

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On October 6, 2021, The Maine Wire learned that the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) had decided to kick its journalist, Katherine Revello, out of its weekly COVID-19 press briefings. It also removed journalists who work for the Maine Beacon, a website operated by the Maine People’s Alliance.

After learning of the decision, The Maine Wire and Maine Policy Institute sounded the alarm on social media about the Mills administration’s unlawful attempts to limit attendance at its public health briefings to so-called “credentialed journalists.” There is no such thing as a credentialed journalist in the State of Maine.

As I noted last October, I was grateful that journalists at the Bangor Daily News were willing to stand up to this obvious abuse of power and challenge the administration’s decision. Opponents of The Maine Wire and Maine Policy Institute even stood up for us on Twitter. After the New England First Amendment Coalition got involved, it didn’t take long for the Maine CDC to reverse course and allow The Maine Wire and Beacon reporters back to its briefings.

The day following, The Maine Wire submitted Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) requests to the Governor’s Office and Maine CDC for electronic communications containing the search terms: “The Maine Wire”; “Maine Beacon”; “advocacy journalism”; “advocacy journalist”; “credentialed reporter”; “credentialed journalist”; “Maine Policy Institute”; and “Maine People’s Alliance” along with a copy of the policy used to determine certain journalists unfit to attend their press events. Thirteen months later, those FOAA requests remain unfulfilled from the governor’s office and Maine CDC.

But this week, we’ve learned that the Mills administration tried to permanently silence us after this whole fiasco occurred. Scott Ogden, who makes nearly $140,000 per year as communications director for Governor Mills, sent a letter to the Maine Press Association on October 13, 2021 – one week after the incident – asking the association to explore establishing a system whereby journalists would be vetted and given credentials in order to gain access to state-held news briefings.

Unfortunately, we were never made aware of these communications until now. More concerning, however, is that no single member of the Maine Press Association wrote an article about the Mills administration’s blatant attempt to silence certain journalists in violation of the First Amendment.

Read the letter from the Maine Press Association in response to Ogden below:

After getting caught red-handed trying to kick out journalists who represented news organizations that were willing to challenge, rather than parrot, the administration’s COVID-19 policies, the Mills administration then asked the statewide press association to do it for them.

They sought to have the association establish a system to credential reporters so that journalists at The Maine Wire and Maine Beacon would remain barred from state press events moving forward.

How is this obvious attack on the First Amendment not newsworthy? The only member outlet of the association who found this story worthy of coverage was the Bangor Daily News, who provided coverage of the CDC’s policy reversal. Not one other outlet wrote a story about what had occurred, or that the administration immediately sought for the press association to credential journalists on its behalf following the ordeal.

The Mills administration has no regard for the First Amendment or Maine’s public records law. Had our now more than one-year-old FOAA request been fulfilled, we would have already seen Ogden’s letter to the press association from October 13, 2021 and reported on it. Instead, we learn about it a year later when an employee of a member outlet of the press association gets upset that we said the mainstream press in Maine did nothing meaningful to stand up to Mills’ abuse of power.

This concerned member of the media shared private emails between themselves and Maine CDC communications director, Robert Long, relaying their concerns at the time about the decision to boot certain journalists from the briefings.

(Editor’s note: This media employee subsequently reached out to dispute The Maine Wire’s characterization of the email exchange with Long. Although the email was never published anywhere and has never been made available to the public, this individual insists that because an email to a government employee is considered a public record, the exchange with Long was not private. Agree to disagree. But we would further like to clarify that this employee is not, in fact, disgruntled.)

Unfortunately, the news organization for which they work – and so many others – never felt compelled to publish news or editorial content about the Mills administration’s attempts to violate the First Amendment.

And, quite humorously, the exchange this week with that employee helped prove our point. Just one week after getting caught trying to violate the First Amendment, the administration asked the press association to violate it for them by “credentialing” employees of member outlets and leaving The Maine Wire and Maine Beacon reporters out of the mix.

Thankfully, the press association declined the Mills administration’s request. But don’t be fooled into thinking that these outlets, or the association itself, are stalwarts of the First Amendment. To them, this whole saga was never worth writing about.

Isn’t that remarkable?

Letter Reveals Mills Sought White List for Maine Media in Bid to Block Critical Coverage

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The administration of Gov. Janet Mills sought the creation of a novel credentialing system for journalists last October in a bid to exclude certain media outlets from covering official state briefings and press conferences, according to a letter obtained by The Maine Wire.

Mills’ Director of Communications Scott Ogden made the request in an October 13, 2021 letter to the Maine Press Association (MPA) and the Maine Broadcasters Association (MBA), two small non-profits comprised of various Maine media outlets. In that letter, Ogden called on the groups to create a credentialing system that would bestow privileges on certain reporters while blocking other journalists from covering certain functions of government.

Ogden’s letter came just one week after the Mills administration and Maine Centers for Disease Control banned Maine Wire reporter Katherine Revello and writers for the left-wing Maine Beacon from public health briefings. The proposed credentialing system would have granted the Mills administration — and future administrations — a pretext to bar reporters the administration doesn’t like from official governmental events.

[READ: Massachusetts Secretly Installed COVID Spyware App on Smart Phones: Lawsuit…]

Ogden’s proposed limitations on Maine’s free press only came to light after a member of Maine’s news media provided a copy of the MPA’s response to The Maine Wire.

“Your suggestion that Maine — in particular, the MPA and the Maine Association of Broadcasters — explore establishing our state’s own version of the Standing Committee of Correspondents is interesting,” wrote MPA past president Lynda Clancy, noting that the Standing Committee vets political journalists in Washington, D.C. and decides who is allowed to enter the Senate Gallery.

“The MPA Board of Directors discussed your letter at length during our Oct. 23 annual business meeting, and unanimously agreed it is not in our best interests to establish such a model,” said Clancy.

Clancy’s response shows the MPA declined to obey the Mills administration’s request not out of respect for press freedom or the First Amendment. Instead, Clancy declined the idea because the MPA is a “financially modest nonprofit” that lacks the resources to vet journalists and administer such a program on Mills’ behalf.

Ogden, who made $138,000 per year in 2021 as Mills’ communication director, later took a leave of absence from his state job in order to work on Mills re-election campaign.

His request shows that in October 2021 the Mills administration was waging a campaign to block critical coverage of Mills’ economic lockdown of the state, a campaign that ran deeper than the public has known before now.

At the time, the New England First Amendment Coalition publicly rebuked the decision to limit health briefing access as an infringement on the First Amendment. The coalition called on the Maine CDC to formulate a policy that was content- and viewpoint-neutral when it came to allowing members of the press to participate in briefings.

In a letter to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long, himself a former editor at the Bangor Daily News, the coalition said Mills’ attempt to shut out journalists from state briefings based on perceived political opinions was not unlike former Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s attempt in 2013 to shut out the Portland Press Herald due to its critical reporting.

Facing bipartisan blow back for the attempt to stymie journalism, the Mills administration and the Maine CDC backed away from the policy and restored briefing access to all journalists.

Although the Mills administration was not successful at permanently limiting access to briefings or getting the MPA to create a list of “approved” journalists, it has successfully resisted efforts to investigate decision making in the governor’s office by exploiting weaknesses in Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA).

The Maine Policy Institute, a 501(c)3 free market think tank that owns The Maine Wire, filed a FOAA request following the events of October 2021 seeking communications between and among various state agencies regarding the decision to curtail press access to the briefings. The goal was to identify how the Mills administration and the Maine CDC made the decision.

[RELATED: Maine Freedom of Access Under Attack…]

That request, a routine act of basic journalism, has gone unfulfilled for more than a year. Had that request been fulfilled in a reasonable manner, The Maine Wire would have become aware of Ogden’s letter well before last Friday.

Maine’s FOAA outlines how government agencies must provide certain public records to those who request them, how much they can charge for records, and how quickly they must acknowledge requests. The law does not, however, contain any mechanism to prevent political appointees and politicians from withholding documents for unreasonably long periods of time in an effort to protect their political reputations.

In a Nov. 17 editorial, The Maine Wire highlighted threats to press freedom in Maine and weaknesses in FOAA, including emerging attempts by the “Right to Know” committee to curtail FOAA. In that editorial, the Maine Wire questioned why other Maine journalists have not been more vocal over attacks on press freedom, FOAA, and the “Right to Know.”

In response, a member of the Maine media shared MPA’s letter replying to Ogden as if to say, “Look, we stood up for you.”

But that’s only part of the story.

According to the letter, the MPA’s Standing Committee met at length to discuss the issue of obeying the Mills administration and creating a white list of approved journalists who would be allowed to cover official political events.

[READ: Top FTX Executive Nishad Singh Gave Maine Democrats $100,000…]

They ultimately decided against obeying Mills and Ogden’s wishes, but the very fact they considered it means several Maine journalists were aware that the Mills administration was seeking a backdoor route to limit press freedom in the state. None of the newspaper reporters and editors privy to those discussions decided the governor’s request was newsworthy. The Bangor Daily News covered the original attempt to block Revello from press briefings, but not a single Maine outlet covered Ogden’s letter asking for viewpoint-censorship.

The Maine Wire has filed an additional Freedom of Access Act request seeking only Ogden’s Oct. 13, 2021 letter to the MPA. That’s a request that should take less than 15 minutes for any competent communications professional to fulfill. This story will be updated when that request is fulfilled.

Here is the MPA’s response to Ogden’s request:

Here is the letter from the New England First Amendment Coalition to the Maine CDC’s Robert Long that caused the Mills administration to backtrack on its decision to bar Revello and the Maine Beacon from press briefings:

LSAT’s Are Out as American Bar Association Chases Diversity

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The American Bar Association (ABA) is ditching the infamous Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) in a bid to improve the diversity of those who are accepted into American law schools.

The ABA’s accrediting council voted 15-1 in favor of making the LSAT optional for law school applicants, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The policy will take effect in 2025. Individual law schools will still be able to require the test of applicants.

The move is based on the perception that ethnic minorities and women do not perform as well on the test, which in turn creates a less diverse population of lawyers. By making the test optional, the ABA hopes more minorities and women will be able to successfully pursue legal careers.

According to the WSJ, a Kaplan Inc. survey of law schools found many intended to continue requiring the test while almost half were undecided. Only two law schools said they intended to ditch the requirement.

Disney Board Fires Woke CEO Bob Chapek

Media executive Robert A. Chapek, who became CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2020, is stepping down, the Disney executive board said Sunday.

Robert A. Iger, the company’s previous CEO, will return to his old job.

“We thank Bob Chapek for his service to Disney over his long career, including navigating the company through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” Susan Arnold, Chairman of the Board for Disney, said in a statement.

“The Board has concluded that as Disney embarks on an increasingly complex period of industry transformation, Bob Iger is uniquely situated to lead the Company through this pivotal period.”

Chapek’s tenure heading up one of America’s largest entertainment companies was rife with controversy, including a high-profile conflict with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

When DeSantis and Florida Republicans sought to pass the Parental Rights in Education Act earlier this year, Chapek found himself in the middle of hyper partisan debates over the role left-wing ideas about gender and sex should have in public school classrooms. When it emerged that Disney executives had made financial contribution to some of the lawmakers involved with crafting the policy, Chapek faced intense internal pressure to publicly oppose the bill, which he eventually did.

The policy — which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — prevents government-run school employees from talking about sexuality and gender to young children. But Chapek was so cowed by the woke employees at Disney that he publicly condemned the legislation.

In addition to picking a fight with a popular governor, Chapek also sought to incorporate depictions of same-sex relationships into children’s cartoons. Although these decisions might have been popular with top-level Disney employees and Hollywood, Disney’s customers thought differently.

In an April poll from Trafalgar Group, 68 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to purchase content from Disney after learning about the companies plans to incorporate sexual ideas into content aimed at children.

Shares of Disney jumped more than 9 percent in pre-market trading over the news of Iger’s return.

Top FTX Executive Nishad Singh Gave Maine Democrats $100,000

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The Maine Democratic Party received $100,000 in campaign cash that may be the product of ill gotten gains from Sam Bankman-Fried’s now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Nishad Singh, the Director of Engineering at FTX and a member of Bankman-Fried’s core inner circle, gave the Maine Democratic Party $100,000 on August 20, 2022 — $90,000 of which was transferred to the Maine Democratic State Committee, according to state and federal campaign finance records.

Executives at the failed cryptocurrency empire became prolific political donors at the same time the companies — FTX, FTX US, and Alameda Research — were co-mingling funds, misappropriating customer money, and misrepresenting the value of their assets to the public.

[RELATED: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Collapse Touches Ukraine, the World Economic Forum, Silicon Valley and Both Sides of D.C….]

Bankman-Fried, the largest of FTX’s political spenders, gave more than $50 million to Democratic candidates, including President Joe Biden, in the last two political cycles. His partner in crime, Ryan Salame, rounded out the GOP side of political giving with $24 million to Republicans in the last cycle.

Presently, no one can say for sure where exactly all the money came from.

All of Bankman-Fried’s companies have now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and there is an ongoing jurisdictional contest between the U.S. government and the government of the Bahamas, where the businesses were based, over the disposition of the remaining assets.

Maine Democratic Party Executive Director Gaetan Davis and Finance Director Dashielle Marley did not respond to an email asking whether the Maine Democratic Party or the Maine Democratic State Committee would return the funds now that the money appears to have come from one of the largest fraudulent enterprises in American history.

[RELATED: Bankrupt FTX Gave $18.2M to Early COVID-19 Researchers Who Cast Doubt on Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine…]

Following the collapse of FTX, a bipartisan chorus of voices have called on American politicians and political committees to return the ill-gotten gains they received from FTX’s fraudulent practices.

The Editorial Board of the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, said the following about tainted cash sitting on the books of, among others, the Maine Democratic Party:

The trouble isn’t merely that the sources of these generous gifts are now disgraced. It isn’t even just that the beneficiaries of these generous gifts will have a glaring conflict of interest when it comes to addressing the FTX scandal, though that’s true. The problem is also that it is unclear where the money came from. Mr. Bankman-Fried may have “earned” it from running FTX or Alameda Research, his trading firm to which FTX appears to have lent customer funds. It turns out these ventures appear not to have been separate and solvent entities, and now users are unable to withdraw their funds from FTX — while lawmakers have, or had, plenty in their pockets thanks to the same businesses. It’s not just the integrity of the legislators that’s in question; it’s the integrity of the cash itself.

A handful of members of Congress from both parties — seven out of close to 100 queried by Popular Information — have said they’re relinquishing the money. Many, many more have remained silent. Some have mulled sending the money to whence it came, but that risks contributing to FTX’s legal defense. Some, such as Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) intend to turn it over to whatever client reimbursement fund is set up during bankruptcy proceedings. That’s probably the cleanest answer to the question. But others are more poetic. A few legislators are sending to charity these donations from an entrepreneur who claimed to be devoted to a radical kind of altruism. The cause chosen by Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.)? “Financial literacy.”

If the Maine Democratic Party decides to return spoiled cash we’ll update this story.

Massachusetts Secretly Installed COVID Spyware App on Smart Phones: Lawsuit

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[Editor’s Note: Readers are asking how to find out if this app is on their Android device. A tipster says you must search for “Mass Notify” to locate it. If you live in Maine and find this spyware on your phone, please send us a screenshot or picture.]

The Massachusetts Health Department secretly installed surveillance software on New Englanders’ smart phones without their consent, a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts worked with Google to develop a contact tracing application for residents’ smartphones near the end of the COVID-19 epidemic.

But when few residents voluntarily downloaded the app, Massachusetts’ caused the surveillance app to be downloaded on the smart phones of Mass. residents — and even New Hampshire residents who worked in the state — without users permission or knowledge.

“To increase adoption, starting on June 15, 2021, DPH worked with Google to secretly install the Contact Tracing App onto over one million Android mobile devices located in Massachusetts without the device owners’ knowledge or permission,” the lawsuit states.

“When some Android device owners discovered and subsequently deleted the App, DPH would re-install it on to their devices. The App causes an Android mobile device to constantly connect and exchange information with other nearby devices via Bluetooth and creates a record of such other connections.”

“If a user opts in and reports being infected with COVID-19, an exposure notification is sent to other individuals on the infected user’s connection record,” the lawsuit states.”

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker’s communications team did not respond to an email and a phone call seeking comment on whether the governor knew about — or authorized — the covert installation of the app on people’s phones.

The Mass. Department of Public Health declined to comment on the lawsuit and did not answer questions about where the information was stored or who authorized the permissionless installation.

Several other states used similar contact tracing applications; however, Mass. was the only state that surreptitiously installed and re-installed the app on users phones.

Users affected by the clandestine app had information about their travel, social interactions, and internet activity collected and delivered to state authorities. The app took measures to conceal itself on users’ phones, living within the “settings” feature rather than the “applications” file. If users discovered the application and deleted it, the app would re-install on their phones without their permission.

According to the lawsuit, there is no law in Massachusetts that allows state government to install spy software on residents’ phones without users consent.

Thousands of user reviews for the application show users across the state complaining about the app installing itself on their phones.

The lawsuit alleges that DPH began installing the spyware on the phones of individuals who lived in Mass. or traveled through the state on or around June 15, 2021. This is accomplished by accessing the geolocation data on smart phones.

“Massachusetts DPH developed the app using API provided by Google, and Google
has explicitly stated that its employees ‘have been working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’ to ensure the App would be ‘automatically distributed’ onto ‘Android devices’,” the lawsuit states.

“These ‘clear indices of Government’s encouragement, endorsement, and participation’ demonstrates that Google acted as an instrumentality of DPH when it installed DPH’s Contact Tracing App onto millions of Android devices without their owners’ permission or awareness,” it states.

The lawsuit alleges that DPH’s actions constitute a series of crimes that caused harm to an entire class of plaintiffs. The lawyers filing the suit allege that the Mass. DPH violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Article XIV of the Mass. Declaration of Rights, the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Article X of the Mass. Declaration of Rights, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

They are seeking an injunction against the continued installation of the spyware and an order requiring DPH to work to Google to facilitate the removal of the spyware from users devices. The suit seeks to have attorneys fees covered, but asks for symbolic damages of $1.

The attorneys filing the suit are Thomas H. Curran and Peter Antonelli of Curran & Antonelli, LLP, and Sheng Li and Margaret A. Little of the New Civil Liberties Alliance in Washington, D.C.

UPDATE: A reader in Maine sent along this shot of the app happily spying away on her cell phone, so Mainers may be affected as well. The woman in question has only travelled once to Massachusetts since the pandemic and that trip happened in September of this year, which suggests the illegal surveillance campaign is ongoing.

This story will be updated if spokespeople from Gov. Baker’s office or the Mass. Department of Public Health respond.

Maine Democrats Pick Speaker Who Resigned from Portland Amid Parking Controversy

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The Maine House Democrats on Thursday selected the legislators who will lead the caucus in the upcoming session of the State Legislature, selecting for the top spot a former City of Portland employee who was investigated for misconduct and resigned amid controversy.

Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) will serve as Speaker of the House, Rep. Maureen Terry (D-Gorham) will serve as Majority Leader, and Rep. Kristen Cloutier (D-Lewiston) will serve as Ass. Majority Leader.

Ross previously served as the Director of Equal Opportunity and Multicultural Affairs for the city of Portland until city officials were made aware of an Aug. 26, 2015 incident involving a parking attendant.

The city paid an outside law firm $6,098 to investigate the incident after receiving a complaint regarding Ross’s conduct. That probe uncovered video of Ross interacting with an employee of Unified Parking Partners, one of the companies that manages private lots in Portland, and a city employee

After seeing the video, Portland officials placed Ross on paid administrative leave. Portland officials refused to release the video of the altercation, but Ross resigned shortly after the incident.

According to newspaper reports at the time, the parking lot employees in the video were identified as Andy Martin and Shannon Farrell. Farrell worked for the city, but Martin was a Unified Parking employee.

Everyone involved in the imbroglio declined to comment at the time.

City officials declined to release video of the incident in 2015, citing personnel issues. In cases where disciplinary action is taken, such records can be released pursuant to Freedom of Access Act requests. However, because Ross resigned rather than face discipline, the records remain undisclosed to the public or press.

Terry, the new Majority Leader, is a chef and small business owner who was first elected to the legislature in 2016.

Cloutier, the new Ass. Majority Leader, is the former Mayor of Lewiston.

Democrats Poised to Make Election Denier New House Leader

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Congressional Democrats are looking for a replacement for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA-04), and they may be leaning toward one of the biggest election deniers in Washington, DC: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).

Following the election of President Donald Trump, Jeffries trafficked in dangerous conspiracy theories, stoking anti-Democratic fervor and casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections. Jeffries’ rank election denialism was embraced by his part and soon blossomed into attacks on the judiciary branch and the U.S. Constitution.

Jeffries alleged a grand international conspiracy to “steal” the 2016 election, but he provided no evidence whatsoever to support the claim.

On social media and on television, Jeffries leveled baseless, dangerous conspiracy theories calculated to sow doubt in the legitimacy of our very democracy. Whereas some Democrats considered Republicans to be colleagues with whom they disagreed about policy, Jeffries saw all Republicans as double-agents, working on behalf of Vladimir Putin to destroy democracy.

Jeffries led the impeachment effort against Trump on the basis of his fevered conspiracy theories, again alleging wild conspiracy theories without a shred of evidence too support his claims about the 2016 election.

Ironically, Jeffries has assailed what he calls “election deniers” on the other side of the aisle.

Public Record Requests are “Hate Speech” says Maine Right-to-Know Committee Member

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A member of the Maine’s “Right to Know” advisory committee, which advises the legislature on Freedom of Access Act and government transparency issues, said Thursday some requests for public records are actually acts of “hate speech.”

Vicki Wallack, an official from the Maine School Management Association (MSMA) and a member of the committee, said public record requests directed at her and her organization were not requests for information, but were instead bigoted attacks on marginalized communities.

“Our great concern with the Freedom of Access request our districts have been receiving is that they target gay, lesbian and transgender students,” she said.

She said that she had been targeted with “burdensome” public record requests that were designed, she said, to undermine her personal support for gay, lesbian, and transgender children.

“If these types of targeted FOIA (sic) requests are allowed to go forward — and make no mistake, these requests are intended to discourage public support for all students regardless of their gender identity — it will be despicable misuse of the FOIA (sic) law,” she said.

Wallack did not offer any explanation as to how she had intuited the motives of the people submitting FOA requests.

“Personally, I believe these requests are just another form of hate speech,” she said.

Her comments followed Shawn McBreairty’s testimony to the committee about the exorbitant costs and lengthy delays he has faced when requesting documents from Maine’s government-run schools and related advocacy organizations, including MSMA.

McBreairty is an activist concerned with the nature of content being taught in Maine schools. The central thrust of McBreairty’s requests, including those submitted to Wallack and other MSMA employees, has been uncovering the extent to which radical left-wing ideas about race and gender are being taught in Maine’s schools.

It was clear that Wallack was directing her comments about hate speech toward McBreairty.

According to Wallack, citizens or journalists who submit public record requests seeking information about the role Critical Race Theory and radical gender ideology play in Maine’s schools are actually targeting minority, gay, lesbian, and transgender students.

It’s not immediately clear how asking for public records, including school administrator emails, is hateful speech or speech that harms children, and Wallack wasn’t forthcoming with an explanation.

Wallack, who was appointed to the “Right to Know” advisory committee by Gov. Janet Mills, urged the committee to come up with a way to limit citizens’ right to know about school affairs on matters that relate to gay, lesbian, and transgender children, as well as Critical Race theory.

TMW: Maine Freedom of Access Under Attack

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Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, a critical tool journalists and citizens can use to hold state and local governments accountable, is under attack.

The “Right to Know” Advisory committee, a legislative body that deliberates on matters concerning access to government records, heard testimony Thursday regarding alleged abuses by citizens of the law.

Neal Goldberg, spokesperson for the Maine Municipal Association, told the committee “bad actors” were abusing FOA because they just wanted to stress out town officials. He didn’t offer any evidence to support the malevolent intentions he imputed to requesters’ motives. But let’s cede for a moment that mysterious evil doers are asking for public records for some nefarious ulterior motive.

If that’s worthy of the committee’s consideration, why shouldn’t the committee also consider the “bad actors” on the other side of the equation. That is, why shouldn’t the committee question whether government employees are manipulating and exploiting loopholes in the law?

If Maine Municipal Association can assume ill will and bad character of requestors, then it’s equally fair to assume the same of the requestees. For example, if “bad actors” are using loopholds to avoid transparency for selfish political reasons, this should be off utmost concern to the committee.

To take a specific example, let’s consider a request The Maine Wire submitted more than a year ago to Maine Gov. Janet Mills, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Maine Centers for Disease Control.

After those government agencies decided to boot Maine Wire reporter Katherine Revello from weekly COVID-19 briefing calls, we filed a request for public records that might shed some light on that decision. Specifically, we asked for communications between and among those government agencies that would show why a journalist was excluded from vital public health briefings.

That request remains unfulfilled more than one year later.

The Mills administration hasn’t offered an explanation for the delay.

This request was a routine act of journalism, not some nuisance inquiry. Journalists throughout the state should be highly interested in this matter as well, as it bears on their own ability to conduct routine acts of journalism. Alas, crickets from Maine’s major newspapers. Regardless, the issue is very much a matter of whether political actors will be allowed to thwart journalistic inquiry and thereby undermine the freedom of the press.

Because of weaknesses in Maine’s public records law, there is no mechanism to hold government actors — even political employees and political appointees — accountable when they impose unreasonable delays or exorbitant costs on requests. Put simply, Mills — and any political actor in the future — can refuse to respond to simple, legitimate, journalistic inquiries, and there will be no repercussions.

To use MMA’s words, “bad actors” could conceivable receive a FOA request from a journalist and delay fulfilling the request until after an election — or after they’re out of office — if they thought it might reflect poorly on their reputation. Depending on your perspective, this is exactly what’s already happening. (I’m sure the media and left-wing activists would be level-headed if the LePage administration delayed the production of public records for more than a year after booting Press Herald reports off a public health briefing.)

This is just one of the many material weaknesses in FOA. Rather than concern themselves with a handful of nuisance FOA requestors whose behavior the current law can already deal with, the committee ought to address bad actors on the record production side.

Maine Freedom of Access Act means nothing if government officials can ignore it with impunity.

Legendary Stock Options Trader Steps Back from Congressional Leadership

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U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat who became a centimillionaire through shrewd stock market trading during her career as a Democratic leader, announced Thursday that she will not seek a leadership role in the House Democratic caucus next Congress.

The decision brings to a close an era of American politics that saw Pelosi rule the House of Representatives with an iron fist, shepherding through major items of legislation and raising hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign spending.

She has been a Democratic congressional leader since 2002 when she became the House Minority Whip. As a Democratic leader, she did not vote for the Iraq war resolution and later rose to prominence as a fierce critic of President George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

She served as Speaker of the House under President Barack Obama from 2007 to 2011 and again under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

During her time in Congress, Pelosi was privy to a great deal of sensitive information that most Americans don’t have access to. At the same time, her husband Paul Pelosi managed to execute some wildly profitable stock market trades, including on businesses affected by legislation and government action Pelosi would have known about.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Pelosi was worth just $31.38 million in 2008 but now has a net worth of more than $114.66 million — all on a salary of just $223,500 per year.

In addition to her and her husband’s prolific stock market trading, she will perhaps best be known for ushering in the trend of passing major, multi-1000-page bills without offering elected officials or the public enough time to read them.

Of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, Pelosi infamously said, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it away from the fog of controversy.”

Since Pelosi assumed a leadership position in Congress in 2002, the national debt has ballooned from $6 trillion to more than $32 trillion. She was pivotal in every major bill for two decades, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, Obamacare, the American Recovery Act, and President Joe Biden’s major spending initiatives.

Although she will no longer be in leadership, she will remain a Member of Congress for the next two years and hasn’t said whether she will seek re-election.

House Oversight to Probe Joe Biden’s Role in Hunter’s Foreign Deals

Incoming House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and incoming House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jorden (R-Ohio) said Thursday morning House Republicans will open an investigation into President Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter’s foreign business dealings.

“Was Joe Biden directly involved in Hunter Biden’s business deals, and was he compromised? That’s our investigation,” said Comer.

Hunter Biden has been in the spotlight since even before his father won the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2020. At issue are a series of business deals with foreign entities in which Hunter is suspected of leveraging his father’s position as Vice President to former President Barack Obama in order to extract payments he would not have received if his last name was Smith.

In one instance, Hunter Biden received $11 million for his work with Ukrainian natural gas giant Burisma from 2013 to 2018 despite having no experience working in the energy sector or Ukraine.

In another instance, Biden negotiated lucrative deals with a Chinese energy company, CEFC China Energy, that has direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party. A 2017 email obtained by the New York Post concerning that particular deal fueled Republican claims that President Biden was involved in Hunter’s suspect business dealing. The email, written by Biden family associate James Gillar, outlined the terms of a potential deal with CEFC including the line, “10 [percent] held for the big guy?”

Tony Bobulinski, Hunter’s former business partner, has said numerous times that the “big guy” was President Biden.

While the true extent of President Biden’s involvement in Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals remains unknown, the implications of any involvement — especially with Communist China — would be severe. If Chinese Communist Party officials had incriminating information about the Biden family, that would raise the question of whether they ever used that information to extract foreign policy concessions from the Biden administration.

Jordan and Comer released an interim report prepared by GOP committee staff on Thursday detailing the information that has already become public about President Biden’s role in his son’s deals. The 31-page report concludes that President Biden has, on several occasions, misled the public about the extent to which he was involved in those deals. The report also looks at the role of large social media companies in helping to cover-up stories about Hunter Biden, offering a preview of what avenues of investigation an empowered majority committee might pursue.

Information about the Biden family’s foreign business deals has circulated primarily in conservative media outlets owing in large part to a concerted censorship campaign directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Well-sourced stories about Hunter Biden’s personal life and business dealings emerged in the New York Post following their acquisition of data from a laptop computer Biden had abandoned at a repair shop. But when the paper began reporting on the contents of the computer, the stories were censored by social media companies, including Facebook and Twitter. Users who attempted to share those stories found they could not. The stories turned out to be 100 percent factually accurate, leading to questions as to whether the social media companies censored the stories to “fight disinformation” or to help President Biden defeat former President Donald Trump.

In an interview this year with podcaster Joe Rogan, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg disclosed that his company had been warned by the FBI to be on the look out for stories that might be Russian disinformation, and that those warnings contributed to their decision to censor the story. Zuckerberg also admitted the company was wrong to censor the story.

At the time, more than 50 current and former intelligence officials signed an open letter calling the factual information printed in the New York Post “disinformation.” Those officials included CNN pundit James Clapper — who famously perjured himself in front of Congress by lying about the extent of domestic spying happening in America (he was never charged) — and Mike Hayden, a former CIA Director who also turned CNN pundit.

Of major American media outlets, only the New York Post has endeavored to hold accountable those intelligence officials who deliberately sought to downplay a factually accurate story in order to influence an election. On the two year anniversary of the letter and the resulting big tech censorship campaign, the New York Post contacted the letters signatories for follow up. The vast majority of the election interferers declined to comment.

With Republicans taking control of the House for the first time in Biden’s presidency, they may finally have the juice needed to get to the bottom of what role President Biden played in his sons business deals.

“As part of our investigation, we have evidence that the finances, credit cards, and bank accounts of Hunter and Joe Biden were co-mingled, if not shared. And on some accounts at least, red flags were raised by banks to the account owner or owners indicating suspicious or illegal activity,” said Comer.

You can watch Comer and Jordan’s full press conference here.

Tom Brady, David Ortiz Named in FTX Lawsuit

New England Sports legends Tom Brady and David Ortiz are among the high-profile celebrities who endorsed failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX and now find themselves named in a class-action lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed late Tuesday argues that Brady, Ortiz, and other celebrities used their star power to lend instant credibility to the now-insolvent crypto firm operated out of the Bahamas by disgraced billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.

As a result, the suit holds that these celeb endorsers are just as culpable as Bankman-Fried himself.

Florida-based attorney Adam M. Moskowitz filed the suit.

Other high profile stars who backed FTX include Seinfeld creator Larry David, Shark Tank billionaire Kevin O’Leary and actor Matt Damon.

It’s not clear how exactly all of these famous backers were compensated, but reports have suggested that Brady was paid in an equity deal that gave him shares of FTX.

Those shares will now be worth pennies on the dollar, if anything, only compounding a very bad year for the recently divorced Brady, whose Tampa Bay Bucs are 5-5 on the year.

Ortiz had previously been rumored to have financial troubles, as evidenced by his decision a few years ago to have an estate sale, but it’s unclear if he got an equity arrangement similar to Brady.

San Fran Mayor Touts Welfare-for-Transgender Program

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The fourth largest city in California — San Francisco — has announced it will begin offering $1,200 per month in welfare cash to low-income residents — but only if they identify as transgender.

The Guaranteed Income For Trans People (GIFT) program will allow transgender individuals to collect the payments for up to 18 months, according to San Fran news outlet KRON 4.

“Our Guaranteed Income Programs allow us to help our residents when they need it most as part of our city’s economic recovery and our commitment to creating a more just city for all,” Mayor London Breed told the outlet. “We know that our trans communities experience much higher rates of poverty and discrimination, so this program will target support to lift individuals in this community up.”

The Mayor touted the program on Thursday, adding that qualified recipients will also be eligible for free medical care, including free “gender affirming care.”

The city will be accepting applications until Dec. 15 for program enrollment.

San Francisco resident Thomas Flanagan questioned the mayor’s priorities when he discovered the GIFT program.

“Photogs are getting mugged in broad daylight at the Palace of Fine Arts, dozens of pharmacies have closed due to rampant theft and this is what the Mayor prioritizes,” he said. “Just the continued clowning of the city”

One of Maine’s Biggest School Districts Can’t Pay Janitors, Bus Drivers, and Lunch Ladies On Time; Teachers Unaffected

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Gov. Janet Mills and Legislative Democrats met the statewide commitment to fund 55 percent of Maine’s public schools, but that funding isn’t trickling down to hourly employees in the school system of Maine’s biggest city like it should.

Janitors, bus drivers, food service providers, and other hourly employees have not received their paychecks on time for the third week in a row, a screw up the district is blaming on the lack of payroll staff.

The district is also experiencing a shortage of bus drivers — which may or may not be linked to the school’s inability to pay people on time — and that may cause major disruptions to the routines of Portland families. The district may even have to cancel some bus routes.

“We’re now on the verge of returning to a routine of bus cancellations, as we are experiencing turnover and high numbers of staff out due to illness,” Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana told Fox 23 Maine.

Portland School Board Chair and left-wing activist Emily Figdor told the outlet the delays hitting hourly workers’ paychecks have affected the last three payment periods.

Teachers at the district’s government-run schools are paid on a salary basis and have not been affected by the delayed payments.

Read the Hilarious FTX Bankruptcy Filing

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As far as Chapter 11 First Day Pleadings go, the FTX filing is an entertaining read. I know this story isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and I know a lot of retail investors lost a ton of money… but it’s a massive scandal that touches some of the most powerful people on the planet, from Silicon Valley leftists to academia to the Washington, D.C. elite. As you read this document, remember that FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was a D.C. darling. Regulators were poised to give FTX special status, an effective regulatory moat, that would have allowed FTX a virtual monopoly on cryptocurrency markets as a centralized exchange while driving decentralized finance projects offshore. And FTX was a media darling, too. The legacy press praised SBF and wrote puff piece after puff piece. Meanwhile, similar companies that didn’t play the liberal virtue signaling game had the New York Times trying to write hit pieces on them for not hiring enough minorities.

Highlights from the filing: None of FTX’s various companies ever had audits, they never had board meetings, there was no cash management system, no one knows who controlled access to cash, no one knows exactly who worked or still works for FTX, employees got cash disbursements approved via Slack emoji, several Bahama properties were purchased with corp money and there’s no records of the transactions, and root control of crypto funds was passed on unsecure email, which might explain how more than $400 million was hacked right after everything came crash down.

Here’s the filing:

London-based Radical Environmentalists Level Unscientific Smear Against Maine Lobstering Industry

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A London-based international non-profit has suspended its “sustainability” certification for the Maine lobstering industry over concerns about whales getting tangled up in fishing gear.

The Marine Stewardship Council’s decertification of the Maine lobster is yet another escalation of the regulatory battle Maine lobstermen have been fighting all year long, as the federal government seeks to impose harsh new regulations on the industry and left-wing non-profits level accusations over threats to whales.

House Minority Leader Rep. Bill Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), a lobsterman, said MSC’s decision was an act of left-wing environmentalism that has no basis in science.

“The decision by the Marine Stewardship Council to decertify the Gulf of Maine lobster fishery is appalling,” said Faulkingham.

“The Maine Lobster Industry is a planetary example of how a sustainable, self regulated, conservation-minded, wild caught fishery is supposed to operate,” he said.

“There has never been a North Atlantic Right Whale death linked to the Maine fishery,” he said. “This act of environmental extremism is anti-science, and is attempting to solve a non-existent problem at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of thousands of hard working people and the families they support.”

This act of environmental extremism is anti-science, and is attempting to solve a non-existent problem at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of thousands of hard working people and the families they support.”

MSC’s decision is the second time this year a far left environmentalist outfit has used its position as a supposed authority on matters of marine science to assail the Maine lobstering industry.

Earlier this year, Seafood Watch, an activist arm of California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, added the Maine lobster to its “Red List” of non-sustainable seafood.

Many retailers who are unfamiliar with the practices of Maine’s lobsterman or the actual data on whale entanglement in the Gulf of Maine rely on groups like MSC and Seafood Watch to ensure that their product offerings are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Bad publicity like this can reduce demand for the Maine lobster, lower prices, and hurt lobstermen in the wallet. But the greater threat to the industry is the ongoing legal battle with NOAA over the stringent new rules federal bureaucrats want to impose on fishermen.

Regulators and activists both maintain their actions are motivated by protecting endangered species of whales. The federal bureaucrats pushing the new rules say the stronger regulations would reduce whale fatalities that result from fishing gear in the Gulf of Maine.

So how many whales are dying because of the lack of stronger regulation?

The 2019 Atlantic Large Whale Entanglement Report, prepared by NOAA’s National Maine Fisheries Services out of Gloucester, there were 30 whale entanglements in Atlantic fishing waters that year: five resulted in whales dying, including one right whale, two humpbacks and two minkes.

[RELATED: Maine Congressional delegation backed HUGE spending increases for agency threatening lobster industry…]

None of those deaths have been linked to Maine lobstering, according to NOAA’s data. Advocacy groups representing Maine’s lobstering industry contend that Maine lobstering gear hasn’t caused a whale death in two decades.

Maine’s Congressional Delegation, along with Gov. Janet Mills, issued a harsh statement rebuking MSC after the decertification was announced.

“Today’s decision by the Marine Stewardship Council to temporarily suspend certification of Maine’s lobster fishery is the result of a years-long campaign from misguided environmentalist groups who seem to be hellbent on putting a proud, sustainable industry out of business without regard to the consequences of their actions,” the statement said.

“We are deeply disappointed by this action, and hope that the MSC will reconsider the decision as litigation is ongoing in the matter,” it said.

Chuck Schumer Calls for Citizenship for All Illegal Aliens

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Congress is back in Washington, D.C., and so it’s back to business as usual. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for legal amnesty for every illegal alien present in the United States, including a pathway to citizenship.

“Now more than ever, we’re short of workers,” he said. “We have a population that’s not reproducing on its own with the same level that it used to. The only way we’re going to have a great future in America is if we welcome and embrace immigrants.”

“The DREAMers and all of them. Because our ultimate goal is to help the DREAMers but get a path to citizenship for all 11 million or however many undocumented there are here.”

Schumers call for a path to citizenship is distinct from previous calls for amnesty that would have granted those present in the country illegally legal permanent residency and permission to work and pay taxes.

Such a path to citizenship is likely to include the right to vote, which would permanently transform the American electorate by adding anywhere from 11 million to 30 million new voters.

“DREAMers” refers to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act,

Biden’s Proposed Plan To Address Diesel Shortages Could Hike Prices Even Further

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Jack McEvoy – The Daily Caller News Foundation — on November 15, 2022

President Joe Biden is proposing a plan that would require fuel suppliers to maintain a minimum amount of diesel in their inventories this winter to stave off severe shortages and prevent extreme price hikes. However, it could create a demand surge and drive up already high prices, according to Bloomberg.

The plan would force diesel vendors to take supplies off the market which could cause short-term diesel demand to soar and drive up prices in the Northeast, where fuel shortages are most severeaccording to Bloomberg. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the East Coast’s fuel shortages as the region has become dependent on Russian imports due to the region’s constrained pipeline capacity.

“We also want to make sure there’s enough fuel in the United States,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said when asked about U.S. fuel exports to energy-starved Europe during an interview at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. “It may not be a business choice that they make, but we’re asking, as the companies that are operating in America, to do what they are doing in other countries.”

The national average price of diesel is $5.31 per gallon and is $1.58 higher than it was in November 2021, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The Midwest region’s wholesale diesel prices skyrocketed in July after pipeline operator Magellan Midstream Partners increased the minimum inventory levels for fuel held throughout its pipeline, according to Bloomberg.

The European Union (EU) required its member-states to fill natural gas storages to 80% of full capacity in order to prepare for potential winter shortages, according to the European Council press release. Europe is currently heavily reliant on U.S. oil and gas imports as Russia has continuously disrupted natural gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in retaliation to EU sanctions.

Americans who use heating oil (a form of diesel) will spend an average of $2,354 to heat their homes this winter which represents a 27% increase from winter 2021 and the highest price point in more than 25 years, according to the EIA.

The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

How Much Money Has the U.S. Spent on the Russian Proxy War in Ukraine?

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Several Republican Members of Congress are escalating calls for a forensic audit of U.S. military and non-military aid to Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February. Those calls for transparency come as President Joe Biden’s White House just asked the U.S. Congress for another $37 billion for the war in Ukraine. But is an audit of all that aid, which includes not just cash transfers but loans, military equipment, and humanitarian supplies, even possible?

To begin with, we need to answer a simpler question: how much money has the U.S. government sent to Ukraine?

Try Googling the question to find an answer. The search isn’t likely to be an easy one, as I discovered. There’s no media outlet keeping an ongoing tally of the cost of the Ukraine war to American taxpayers, and obviously there’s no government website doing so. Even conservative American think tanks, many of them stuck in Cold War mentalities, haven’t focused on financial transparency as they analyze U.S. involvement in the conflict. A factor that complicates the answer is the discrepancy between total aid appropriated and committed versus aid that has actually been delivered. The Biden administration has not been lightning fast in turning appropriations into actual aid, so there are significant differences between the two numbers.

The Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan in-house think tank for Congress, produced a report on total “security assistance” as of Oct. 21, 2022. Funding in that category, from 2014 to Oct. 14, 2022, was $20.3 billion. But this points up another complicating factor. Different sources measure buckets of aid differently: some will talk about security assistance, some talk of military assistance, some talk of humanitarian aid. Few offer a clear cut, “This is the total cost of all U.S. support for the war in Ukraine.”

Eventually I tracked down a database operated by the Kiel Institute, a German think tank. They have been tracking total military and non-military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict. Their numbers include all aid from Jan. 24, 2022 to Oct. 3, 2022 (the data is scheduled for an update on Dec. 6).

According to Kiel, the U.S. has transferred military and non-military aid worth $54.43 billion to the government of Ukraine. The database Kiel has maintained is by far the most granular and detailed accounting of what the U.S. government has provided to Ukraine, including descriptions of the individual batches of military equipment. If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

It’s unfortunate that an American journalist must rely on a German think tank for get this information. It’s also unfortunate that Kiel had to copiously piece together this information from various statements made by the Department of Defense, the White House, and the Secretary of State. Because of that, the data is only as accurate as the American federal government’s statements to the media.

Kiel’s estimated $54.43 billion plus the White House’s new request for $37 billion would bring the total cost of U.S. involvement in Ukraine to $91,430,000,000.

Let’s put $91.43 billion into context: the European Union member countries and institutions have provided $30.45 billion to Ukraine, per Kiel. The Jamestown Foundation estimates the Russias most recent annual defense spending was $77.7 billion. In 2021, the Gross Domestic Product of the state of Maine was $77.9 billion. And, of course, all of this is meaningless without noting that the total U.S. federal debt currently sits at $31.3 trillion.

As for the calls to audit all of that spending, it’s a noble goal. But much of that aid is physical aid — guns and butter — which has likely been consumed or expended. I rather doubt the Ukrainian government is tracking all of this. Why, in a time or crisis with no expectations from the U.S., would they bother tracking it? The cash assistance may be a different story, perhaps there is a paper trail. But even then: We’re talking about billions of dollars funneled into one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. How much can you trust a paper trail? The truth is that money is gone, and no American politician will ever suffer the consequences or be held accountable. Go Democracy!

Lastly, if you object to the headline calling the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe a proxy war, then you should take that up with people like former Counselor to Condaleeza Rice Eliot Cohen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Phillip Breedlove, among others. People close to the conflict all agree that what’s happening is more than a fight over disputed border regions in Ukraine, and is in fact a proxy war between Russia and the U.S. Americans are being asked to foot the bill for an enormous transfer of arms and wealth to a country most couldn’t even locate on a map a month ago. So it’s a small request to ask that we at least accurately understand the conflict now underway.

Patten: Ukraine military aid is a good investment

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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 Russia, as Democrats often suggest, and pre-date Donald Trump’s cozy embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin. With the exception of Ronald Reagan’s muscular challenge of the Soviet Union, Republicans have long heeded George Washington’s warning about foreign entanglements.

In 1919, Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge led the effort to torpedo Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, a would-be precursor to the UN. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt needed Pearl Harbor to overcome hesitant isolationists in Congress – mostly Republican – and secure a war declaration against Japan. Post-war President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us to beware the military-industrial complex and, knowing a thing or two more about this than the average Joe, was right to say so.

Skepticism is healthy. Whether or not we still willingly bear the mantle of being the world’s most powerful democracy is also a question of some debate today. But taxpayer money spent on arming Ukraine is money well spent.

I need to be careful here, because I am a convicted unregistered foreign agent for a Ukrainian. But no Ukrainian is paying or instructing me to say this, these are personal observations based on a good deal of regional experience and a visit to Ukraine in the last year. For me it’s personal, but not necessarily – as it is for all the big-hearted Americans who slap Ukrainian flags on their windscreens – emotional.

The average research and development allotment of the Pentagon’s big annual budget is in the ballpark of $130 billion. That is a useful marker. Every weapon system we give, lend, or sell to the Ukrainians is relatively quickly deployed to the battlefield and put into use. When that happens, we can watch carefully and assess its performance in a way that our military rivals cannot.

In other words, a war to which we are not currently committing any combatants is an extraordinary opportunity for live fire exercise.

In addition, proxy wars may bring opportunities to showcase advanced U.S. weaponry in the same way the first Gulf War did the Patriot missile system. When our adversaries see what we have and what can be done with it, it tempers their aggression against us. Our long-standing support to Israel, whose capital the Patriot systems defended from Iraqi aggression, offers many of such examples.

But unlike Israel, Ukraine has serious problems with corruption and transparency. So the American taxpayer may reasonably ask how we can be sure our money isn’t simply enriching some Ukrainian oligarch, or being ciphoned off in shady arms transfers. Congress has a right to demand that the administration respond to this concern when it grants any additional funds.

Also, there are reasonable concerns that the Biden administration could be sleepwalking into a nuclear conflict. One look at the test-tube hatched National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is enough to amplify these concerns. Acknowledging these for what they are, it is useful to remember that the only thing that has kept us out of nuclear for the last 75 years is American strength. Shirking Russian aggression is inconsistent with that.

Congress needs to keep its eyes open. The outgoing Congress offered no meaningful checks to executive power over the last two years after hanging up its impeachment gowns and becoming a Hallelujah chorus. Let’s see some strong national security leaders emerge on the Republican side of the aisle, Lord knows we could use it. At the same time, let’s be sure we’re asking the right questions.

Bankrupt FTX Gave $18.2M to Early COVID-19 Researchers Who Cast Doubt on Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

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Samuel Bankman-Fried’s bankrupt and scandal-plagued cryptocurrency empire gave $18.25 million to early COVID-19 researchers whose findings cast doubt on the benefits of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for patients with COVID-19.

The FTX Foundation provided initial funding worth $3.25 million and followed it with another $15 million grant, according to a press release issued May 16.

“The FTX Foundation is excited to commit $15 million to funding additional trial arms in the TOGETHER Trial and its growing global network of sister trials,” said Ross Rheingans-Yoo, from the FTX Foundation.

“Our initial $3.25 million grant to expand the trial network’s core infrastructure has helped bring the model from Brazil to key sites across the globe, and we look forward to finding further opportunities to support the consortium’s growth and help prevent future pandemics,” he said.

Together Trial’s research included a study that found ivermectin’s benefits for patients suffering from COVID-19 were unclear and a study that concluded hydroxychloroquine did not show any benefit in decreasing hospitalizations. Both studies were influential amid debates over the use of conventional, inexpensive treatments as opposed to expensive mRNA injections developed by the large pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

[RELATED: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Collapse Touches Ukraine, the World Economic Forum, Silicon Valley and Both Sides of D.C….]

Both drugs were floated early in the pandemic as potential treatments for those suffering from the virus, but they quickly became politically polarizing when they received support from President Donald Trump and podcaster Joe Rogan. Mainstream physicians and the media raced to discredit the cheap, safe drugs that have been used for decades for a host of other diseases. Both of these studies were led by Dr. Gilmar Reis.

Here’s a link to the study on ivermectin, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2022.

Here’s a link to the Sept. 2021 study on hydroxychloroquine.

Screenshots below:

The “Together Trial” research sponsored by FTX Foundation also study metformin and fluvoxamine. Under trial sponsors, the website list FTX, and FTX is the only sponsor listed on the organizations homepage.

A YouTube video posted by Trial Together has some of the same hallmarks as FTX and the now-defunct partner firm, Alameda Research. Namely, the claim that the group is using novel methods and complicated computer science to produce results that might not be available to ordinary researchers.

Here are the profile pictures for the organizations investigators:

Let’s Give Another $37 Billion to Ukraine, says White House

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The White House asked Congress on Tuesday to send another $37 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Ukraine as it continues its fight against Russian aggression.

That request for funding includes $21.7 billion in defense aid, $14.5 billion in direct cash transfers, $626 million to secure Ukrainian nuclear facilities, and $900 million to support the healthcare industry in Ukraine.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda D. Young said the funding request was part of a multi-pronged emergency funding request that also included more $10 billion for COVID-19 and additional funding for disaster relief in the American southeast.

Teachers Union: We know better than parents

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The National Education Association (NEA), America’s second largest teachers’ union, set off a firestorm over the weekend with a tweet that said unionized teachers at government-run schools are the best and final authority on what’s best for children.

The tweet may be an innocent quip from some social media intern, but it points to a broader divide between supporters of government-run schools and parents who are increasingly concerned with what’s being taught in the classroom.

The teachers unions are a powerful political force in Maine and across the nation. Every election cycle, the teachers’ unions spend tens of millions of dollars — money taken from teachers paychecks — to help elect politicians. So the message emanating from the top has serious consequences for both government-run schools and politics generally.

Although the teachers unions regularly maintain that they lobby in the interests of students, that claim is hardly supported by recent experience. During the pandemic, the NEA and its partner the American Federation of Teachers played a lead role in closing down government-run schools. Those school closures were aimed at protecting school teachers, but the cost for doing so has been paid in student learning loss, rising youth mental illness, and higher rates of suicide.

Beware the Digital Dollar and CBDCs

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The New York Federal Reserve Bank has entered a partnership with major global banks to test the concept of a digital dollar, according to a Reuters report Tuesday.

The NY Fed’s “Innovation Center” will join Citigroup, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and other major financial players to run tests in a simulated environment.

That might all sound like gobbledygook to you, but you should be paying attention.

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) constitute the single greatest threat to the future of economic liberty in our lifetimes. These tools, which come dressed as fancy financial innovations, are inimical to the principles of individual liberty and economic liberty.

To illustrate the dangers of CBDCs, let me offer a few hypothetical examples of how a digital dollar controlled by a central government might work in practice:

1.) To protest governmental limits on personal freedom, liberty activists stage a peaceful protest around the nation’s capital. That nation’s leader, wanting to quell the protest and protect his power, instructs his Minister of Economic Control to reduce the protesters’ CBDC balances by 50 percent everyday until the protest ends. The protest ends shortly after the message pings on the CBDC smartphone app.

2.) Economic growth is lagging, and the economists in the federal government suspect it is because consumer spending isn’t strong enough. People are saving their money, rather than spending it. To fix this problem, the Ministry of Economic Control announces a new year-long negative interest rate for all CBDC accounts. Unspent balances of CBDC will be reduced by 10 percent every month. As a result, no one saves, every one spends, and the economists have saved the economy.

3.) You’re at the grocery store picking up some ribeye steaks because some friends are coming over for a barbecue. When you get up to the counter, there’s a problem. The cashier says the payment isn’t going through. You check the CBDC app on your smartphone. There is an alert: “You have exceeded your monthly carbon credit usage; please remove the following items from your grocery cart in order to proceed…”

4.) You want to pick up a new firearm for hunting season, so you swing by the local sporting goods store. But when you go to transfer CBDC credits for the purchase, you’re denied. The trusty CBDC app explains: “We’ve detected activity on your social media accounts that suggests you are at risk of causing harm to yourself or others. You are prohibited from purchasing a firearm for one year.”

5.) A mild coronavirus has arrived from Asia. Although it’s only lethal to people who are old and obese, society and the government has gone hysterical and decided to implement lockdowns. The Ministry of Health, working in concert with their friends at the Ministry of Economic Control, issue a nationwide freeze on all unnecessary expenditures to stop virus transmission. Of course, the accounts of politicians and certain government employees remain unfrozen so they can continue their important work keeping us safe. When the vaccine emerges, only those registered with the central government as vaccinated are permitted to uses their CBDC balances. The unvaccinated find their CBDC balances are subjected to a 10 percent Social Credit Tax because of their irresponsible behavior.

If you think these examples are the work of an overactive imagination, you haven’t been paying attention. Each of these examples has been cribbed from the actual activities of governments and banks, or the fantasies of left-wing think tanks that support CBDCs.

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered banks to freeze the bank accounts of his political critics. In America, President Barack Obama instigated “Operation Choke Point,” an unofficial Department of Justice program that blocked from the financial system certain businesses, such as gun dealers other frowned-upon enterprises. In a 2021 white paper, the World Economic Forum fantasized about the possibilities for micromanaging society with a CBDC, including by placing limits on transactions sizes, limits on how much currency one might hold, and limits on the nature of goods a user can purchase. It’s not a stretch to imagine imagine that a government with a CBDC in place might use such a system in furtherance of other goals, like fighting climate change or protecting us all from a mild coronavirus.

To truly understand what CBDCs are and why politicians and banks support them — and why they are such a threat to the free way of life — it’s necessary to understand how the largest, most important digital currency — bitcoin — operates. Because the digital dollar, the Americanized iteration of the CBDC idea, has emerged as the state-run alternative to a decentralized, politically neutral digital monetary system like Bitcoin.

Bitcoin transactions are broadcast and recorded on a public database known as a blockchain. For a broadcasted transaction to enter the blockchain and settle, it must follow the rules of the network. Those rules are enforced not by a centralized entity but a decentralized network of simple computers called nodes.

Transactions on the Bitcoin network cannot be blocked or censored by any nation station. Nor can any nation state create new bitcoin that will be accepted on the network. Although a nation state could theoretical summon the massive amount of computing power required to change the rules of the Bitcoin network, the economic cost of doing so would be prohibitive. And although nation states can regulate the points of access to the Bitcoin network, like registered exchanges and traditional payment channels, they cannot control transactions on the Bitcoin network itself.

This is because the rules of the Bitcoin network are enforced by those nodes — tens of thousands of them distributed globally. It’s a common misconception that Bitcoin miners control the network. The opposite is true: Bitcoin miners work for the network, and they only get paid for the electricity they use if they follow the rules of the network. That’s a powerful incentive to follow the rules, which were first articulated in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2009 white paper. Bitcoin is decentralized, politically neutral, and not subject to the whims and wishes of any government’s central planners, but it does follow these simple rules, rules that align game theory and economic incentives to keep the system running.

CBDCs are the exact opposite.

Rather than peer-to-peer exchange, CBDCs offer peer-government/bank-peer exchange. Rather than clear, public, simple rules, CBDCs are subject to the murky machinations of whatever unelected bureaucrat happens to be in charge at any given moment. Whereas the Bitcoin blockchain is a public record of transactions anyone can inspect and validate, CBDCs would exist on a private ledger, and users would have to trust that governments and large banks were administering it properly.

To be clear, the U.S. already operates on a digital dollar. When was the last time your paycheck arrived by mail? The vast majority of domestic and international dollar transfers happen electronically on private databases managed between large banks. Although this system is not ideal and has disadvantages compared to Bitcoin, it’s far preferable to any CBDC.

CBDC’s are a would-be tyrant’s dream tool of oppression, and they should be rejected as totalitarian schemes wherever and whenever they are proposed.

G20 Nation to Help Mentally Ill Kill Themselves

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An authoritarian government that in recent years has cracked down on firearm ownership and cutoff political dissidents from the financial system is now pushing mentally ill citizens into physician assisted suicide.

I’m not talking about some dystopian future government or a third-world dictatorship. I’m talking about Canada. More specifically, Justin Trudeau’s Canada.

Next year, Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program will begin allowing citizens to be considered eligible for state-sanctioned euthanasia when their only underlying medical condition is mental illness. Under the law, a doctor or nurse practitioner is allowed to dispense lethal medication if the mentally ill patient asks for it.

The expansion of Canada’s euthanasia program is just another indication of the dystopian direction the country has headed in under the Castro-esque leadership of Justin Trudeau. When the Freedom Convoy descended on Ottawa to protest Trudeau’s heavy-handed COVID-19 mandates, Trudeau shocked liberty advocates across the world by cutting off activists from the global financial system. He instructed banks to freeze the accounts of the activists and, in some cases, accounts belonging to their family members, and the banks obliged. Earlier this year, Trudeau cracked down on handgun ownership, banning the sale of all handguns within the country, including private transfers.

Now, the Trudeau Regime is greasing the skids for state sanctioned, and even state encouraged, euthanasia for the mentally ill.

Canada’s state-sanctioned euthanasia project has drawn little attention in the broader western media.

Jane Stannus at Spectator Australia summarizes:

“Currently, medical professionals are authorized — by the government, at any rate — to provide euthanasia for any consenting, competent adult who claims to be suffering intolerably, physically or mentally, from a condition that cannot be relieved in a manner deemed “acceptable” by the individual. (This language deliberately puts the criteria into the realm of subjective experience: there is no external measuring device that can quantify someone else’s suffering, and only the individual can decide if the available relief is “acceptable” or not.)

“In practice, current law means a depressed 23-year-old with diabetes and vision loss could be legally killed (though his feisty mother has saved him for the time being). It means a woman who can’t find affordable housing that accommodates her wheelchair and her chemical sensitivities can find two doctors to sign off on what is effectively a death warrant.”

Advocates for medically assisted suicide always assure skeptics that there will never be any unintended consequences, that hospitals will never be encourage people to kill themselves when maybe they just a little love and, you know, medical care. But already reports are emerging of individuals who claim they are being pressured to end it all by hospital workers. Canadian citizen Roger Foley told the New York Post hospital workers have encouraged him to consider suicide, even going so far as to hold his massive hospital bill over his head.

“I’ve been pressured to do an assisted suicide,” he told The Post. “They asked if I want an assisted death. I don’t. I was told that I would be charged $1,800 per day [for hospital care]. I have $2 million worth of bills. Nurses here told me that I should end my life. That shocked me.”

This is the natural destination for medically assisted suicide, regardless of what advocates claim — and it only gets darker from here.

Matt Dunlap, Now Qualified, Makes Second Go at Auditor

Former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is making another run at the position of State Auditor after he was forced to resign the post in 2021 when he failed to acquire the credentials necessary to hold the position.

When Dunlap was first sworn into the job in 2021, state law provided him 9 months to become a certified public accountant, which he needed to do in order to keep the position.

Dunlap failed the CPA tests, so Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) appointed Jacob Norton to keep the seat warm while he took another stab at the exam.

Now, Norton has “stepped back” from the job, allowing Jackson to re-appoint the now-credentialed Dunlap.

The Officer of the State Auditor, which Dunlap now heads, again, but for real this time, is charged with auditing all manner of government programs, making sure money is spent properly and state programs are functioning.

The office’s findings are typically published in a single report at the end of the fiscal year. During his time in office, Norton published one of those reports for 2021, while Dunlap published the 2020 report despite not having the credentials to hold the office.

In 2021, when Dunlap had to step down, he didn’t leave state work entirely. His total compensation from the state that year was $121,684, while Norton’s total compensation for 2021 was $104,362, according to compensation data made public by the State.

FBI Dir. Chris Wray Refuses to Say Whether FBI Had Agents in Jan. 6 Crowd

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At a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) asked FBI Director Christopher Wray point blank whether the bureau had confidential sources or FBI employees (i.e. undercover agents) embedded with the crowd of Trump supporters during the January 6, 2021 riot at Capitol Hill.

Wray refused to answer the question, instead saying he can’t comment on where FBI sources and employees might have been that day. He did, however, assure Higgins that FBI sources and agents had no role whatsoever in instigating the wide scale trespassing that occurred that day.

President Donald Trump, whose actions related to the events of Jan. 6 have drawn a great deal of scrutiny, appoint Wray to lead the FBI after firing his predecessor, James Comey.

Here’s a longer video of the exchange:

New York Times Whitewashes SBF’s Ponzi Scheme

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The New York Times managed to get what is right now the hottest interview in the world: Sam Bankman-Fried, the embattled tech tycoon whose financial empire came crashing down last week amid allegations of fraud, misuse of customer funds, and widespread incompetence and treachery.

Yet, after getting the man at the center of one of the greatest financial scandals in history on the phone, the New York Times reporter wrote story that made him seem like a down-on-his-luck entrepreneur who, through no fault of his own, had stumbled on hard times. It’s an embarrassing story to have written, but sadly par for the course for the Gray Lady.

[RELATED: Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Collapse Touches Ukraine, the World Economic Forum, Silicon Valley and Both Sides of D.C….]

Compare SBF’s treatment to how the media treated Bernie Madoff after his ponzi scheme came undone.

The story 2000+ word story spends more time on Bankman-Fried’s sex life and video game habit than his vast political operation. The story never once mentions that he’s a Democrat, that his parents are big time Democrats, and that he’s given roughly $50 billion to Democratic politicians and political committees over the last two years. Left-wing hack journalism at its finest.

For a longer explanation of FTX’s collapse, SBF’s political spending, and some of the conspiratorial intrigue swirling around the story, click here.

Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX Collapse Touches Ukraine, the World Economic Forum, Silicon Valley and Both Sides of D.C.

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Sam Bankman-Fried is a name you’re going to hear a lot about over the next year – and rightly so. The implosion of his cryptocurrency empire is like if Enron and Bernie Madoff had a baby, and that baby became the 2nd largest Democratic Party donor on his 2nd birthday while partnering with the World Economic Forum and the Bank of Ukraine.

Bankman-Fried – or SBF for short – saw his net worth collapse by 94 percent or more last week when his cryptocurrency firms (FTX and FTX US) and trading company (Alameda Research) turned out to be shambolic ponzi schemes. The vaunted cryptocurrency empire turned out to be 15 kids in the Bahamas taking prodigious amounts of Adderall, sleeping with each other, and trading against their own customers with their customers’ money.

If that story wasn’t enough of a Netflix producer’s dream, SBF’s parents are Stanford law professors with ties to the Democratic Party, SBF himself has given $50 million to Democrats including Joe Biden, the family has ties to the Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum, and FTX has some kind of financial partnership with Ukraine. Then there’s the snapshot of FTX’s balance sheet obtained by Financial Times, that has an item labeled: “TRUMPLOSE”. Now, it doesn’t take a CPA to guess what that means.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are investigating whether any laws were broken by SBF, FTX, or anyone else involved in the scheme. All of this is fertile ground for online conspiracy theorists. So what’s fact and what’s fiction? And what do we just not know? Let’s try to sort it all out.

WHAT HAPPENED TO FTX?

Before we get into SBF’s rise and his schemes and the conspiracy theories, it’s worth recapping briefly what happened with FTX, FTX US, and Alameda Research. The short version: they were part of a massive ponzi scheme, perhaps the largest ever, and it exploded last week when the firms filed for bankruptcy.

This Twitter user does an excellent job of summarizing the financial scheme in a very short video:

FTX’s troubles began with the downturn in cryptocurrency prices but came to a head last week thanks to rival exchange Binance. Binance was an early investor in FTX, but in the summer of 2021, FTX bought back its shares from the company. Unknown at the time was that FTX bought those shares back, in part, with a huge amount of its own crypto token, FTT. Sometime last week, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao discovered that FTX wasn’t as healthy as it maintained, and he decided he didn’t want all that overvalued FTT on his books. He tweeted out that he was going to begin dumping the token on the market. Cue the bank run. Over the next 48 hours, SBF began frantically trying to save the sinking ship, including with an offer to sell FTX to Binance, which Binance initially agreed to. Then, after getting a peek at FTX’s books, Zhao tweeted that he didn’t want to buy the stinking mess. That was pretty much the end of FTX.

[RELATED: Bankrupt FTX Gave $18.2M to Early COVID-19 Researchers Who Cast Doubt on Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine…]

After the company was exposed and filed for bankruptcy, another crazy development: The firm’s remaining cryptocurrency started to disappear, moving in multimillion dollar chunks. FTX claimed the company was hacked and told users to delete its app and avoid the website. The company’s post-bankruptcy CEO, the same guy who oversaw Enron’s proceedings by the way, seemed unaware that more than $470 million in digital assets were moving mysteriously. As of this writing, it’s unclear whether the transfers were the work of a black hat hacker, an inside job, part of the bankruptcy reorganization, or some combination of all of those. Other reports indicate that SBF programmed a “backdoor” into FTX’s crypto accounts that allowed him to tap customer deposits on a whim, whever Alameda Research, his trading firm, needed to shore up margins, which was often.

Bottom line: SBF went from a left-wing hero worth $32 billion to a naked fraud and charlatan almost overnight; FTX, once a financial unicorn headed for Amazon or Facebook status, is now a byword; and no one knows where all the money went or who’s in control of what remains.

WHO IS SAMUEL BANKMAN-FRIED?

SBF was hailed by Fortune as the next Warren Buffett. Matt Damon, Larry David, and Tom Brady all endorsed his products in national advertising, including a Super Bowl spot. Brady even got an equity deal, which is now probably worth zero.

SBF bought the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena. Venture Cap giant Sequoia Capital, a company that made early bets on Google and PayPal, bought into FTX in a big way – they’ve written down a $210M investment to zero. If you want to know what Silicon Valley and rich liberals thought about SBF before last week, read this puff piece posted by Sequoia on the guy, a piece Sequoia is rapidly trying to delete from the Internet. TL;DR – Some of the smartest, wealthiest people in America thought SBF was Techno Jesus Superstar, here to save us with his “Effective Altruism” as he became the first trillionaire. I’m not kidding, read the story.

Now, a lot of people have questioned where SBF came up with his money in the first place, and that’s an excellent place to start. His impractical rise from an anonymous MIT geek to a major political power broker worth $32 billion has attracted a lot of attention, but very few people have scratched the surface of his origin story – and next to nothing is known about his mysterious partner in crime Gary Wang. SBF’s origin story runs like this: He’s a smart guy who goes to MIT and lands a job at Jane Street trading ETFs. He’s really good at it – like Bradley Cooper in “Limitless” after he takes the NZT-48 good at it – and eventually he starts running his own trades via Alameda Research, a company he started with Gary Wang in 2017.

Specifically, Alameda capitalizes on an arbitrage trade targeting the price differences between the price of bitcoin in American markets and the price of bitcoin in Asian markets. In simple terms, he buys bitcoin trading at a low price on Asian markets and sells it in American markets for a higher price. This was theoretically possible at the time because of inefficiencies in cryptocurrency markets. But it would require a huge amount of money to start with in order to profit from the exploitation. SBF has never said where the initial capital to conduct this arbitrage trading came from…

Somehow, he makes vast amounts of money exploiting this trade. Using that money, plus a pile of investment from outside venture cap firms and investors hungry to cash in on the cryptocurrency phenomenon, he launches FTX in 2019 – an off-shore trading platform based in the Bahamas. The company is based in the Bahamas for regulatory reasons. FTX wanted to offer leveraged trades — hugely risky gambles on price fluctuations in cryptocurrency prices — and that wasn’t allowed under U.S. law. Eventually, he did launch a US-compliant version of the platform, FTX US. According to the glowing profile of SBF that Sequoia Capital published online but has since tried to remove, well-heeled tech founders had seemingly boundless confidence in SBF.

In conjunction with this, SBF and his cabal of rich nerd friends expanded Alameda’s trading activities and solicited even more outside investment. In a pitch deck that was posted online, Alameda promised investors vast, guaranteed returns of 15 percent or more for no-risk throughout 2020 and 2021.

Here are some images of that pitch deck.

How could they promise huge returns and zero risk? Let’s turn to Carolina Ellison, reportedly SBF’s one-time girlfriend ad head of the nerd squad at Alameda. She’ll explain for us the brilliant trading strategy that attracted so much “smart” money:

Keep in mind that SBF transfered $9-$10bn in FTX funds to Ellison, the woman in the video who brags about only using “elementary school” math. Ellison’s father, it’s worth noting, is MIT economist Glenn Ellison. The only reason that’s interesting is because current SEC Chair Gary Gensler formerly taught economics, including a class on crypto currency, for MIT’s economics department, so the pair probably know each other.

THE BANKMANS AND THE FRIEDS

Here’s where the fertile ground for conspiracy theories begins. I’ll do my best just to lay out what we know for a fact and what’s just Twitter speculation.

SBF’s mother, Barbara Fried, is a law professor at Stanford University and a prolific Democratic bundler (read: fundraiser). In 2018, just before the launch of FTX, Fried co-founded a secretive Silicon Valley group called “Mind the Gap” whose sole purpose was quietly raising gobs of money for left-wing politicians. According to left-wing outlet Vox, Mind the Gap raised more than $20 million in 2018 and 2019 from Silicon Valley bigs like Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Fried, who had no previous experience in fundraising or political campaigning, told Vox Mind the Gap was a “pro-bono donor advisor to people who are interested in evidence-driven decision making.” Because MTG worked as a bundler, telling rich liberals where to donate and when, rather than as a passthrough political action committee, Federal Election Commission campaign finance records don’t really show they true extent of Fried’s influence over Democratic giving from 2018-2022. The group claims to have raised $11 million from 800 people to support long-shot House elections in 2018. In sum, SBF’s mum was a well-connected Democrat law prof slinging gobs of cash around Democratic political circles.

SBF’s father, Joseph Bankman, is also a well-connected professor at Stanford Law. While Fried was more involved in the political side of SBF’s operation, Bankman was heavily involved in the business itself, including helping to raise funds to finance the firm. Bankman is a leading expert on state and federal tax shelters, and some in the cryptocurrency space have speculated that he might have used his expertise to create the corporate structure (see below) of his son’s offshore financial firms.

Beyond his parents, SBF’s aunt, Linda Fried, is an epidemiologist at Columbia University with connections to the World Economic Forum. She is a member of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Aging, and WEF touts her affiliation on their website.

For the uninitiated, the World Economic Forum is an international organization run by Klaus Schwab. Klaus Schwab wrote the book, “COVID-19: The Great Reset”. That book is stark admission of international billionaires seeking to take advantage of COVID-19 panic. Although his dresses up his schemes in flowery techno-babble and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), Schwab is just an old-fashioned socialist. He wants high taxes, high government spending, less individual freedom, and more centralized control over individual and economic life.

On the surface, the WEF’s mission is “improving” the world. But in practice the WEF is just a cabal of super rich leftists who fly to Davos on their private jets to lecture the rest of us on the perils of eating red meat. These are the uber libs who want us to eat bugs instead of cows, ride bikes everywhere, pay 75% income taxes, and submit to Central Bank Digital Currency’s that technocrats can control from their mansions.

Back to SBF: How deep is his connection to Schwab’s WEF through his aunt? Who knows. But we do know that FTX was a touted partner of the WEF. SBF spoke at Davos last May. WEF’s website bragged about their partnership and has recently scrambled to remove all of those references from the internet. And we also know that the Bankman-Fried family has other connections to the COVID-19 pandemic grift. SBF’s brother, Gabriel Bankman-Fried, was the founder of “Guarding Against Pandemics.” GAP is a 501©3 non-profit formed in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic with a view to avoiding the next pandemic, according to the group’s website. He resigned in light of his brother’s financial troubles.

Gabe Bankman-Fried, Guarding Against Pandemics

At a minimum, we can say that SBF had political connections running through the highest levels of finance, academia, and international organizations. The question is, did the wealth he acquired through the brilliant trading schemes of Alameda Research grant him that kind of access? Or did that kind of access help him acquire the wealth he later attributed to his genius trading schemes? In Washington, D.C., the evidence would suggest that his money paved the way for him to cozy up to regulators as he sought to construct a regulatory moat around his businesses.

SBF’S POLITICAL SPENDING

In 2020, SBF gave $5.2 million to President Joe Biden’s campaign, but his political spending was then only just getting started. SBF created the main vehicle for his political spending in 2022: Protect Our Future PAC. That PAC raised $28.4 million and spent all most all of it on Democratic primaries and the general election. Almost all of that came from SBF, with rounding error contributions from Everytown for Gun Safety Action (Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group) and a California guy named David Eth. The PAC spending made SBF the sixth largest donor to American politics in the 2021-2022 cycle, and the second largest donor to Democratic candidates, topped only by George Soros.

That PAC’s messaging orbited pandemic prevention and it claimed to endorse only candidates who took long term views on pandemic planning. SBF’s PAC endorsed the following candidates, a blend of state, local, and federal candidates:  Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Adam Hollier (MI-13), Alderman Gilbert Villegas (IL-03), Anthony Delgado (NY Lt. Governor), Becca Balint (VT-AL), Brittany Pettersen (CO-7), Carrick Flynn (OR-06), Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Francis Conole (NY- 22), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Jared Moskowitz (FL-22), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Josh Lafazan (NY-03), Laura Gillen (NY-04), Max Rose (NY-11), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), Mayor Robert Garcia (CA-42), Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Peter Welch (VT-SEN), Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-07), Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Rep. Shontel Brown (OH-11), Robert Menendez, Jr. (NJ-08), State Rep. Jasmine, Crockett (TX-30), Sydney Kamlager (CA-30), and Valerie Foushee (NC-04).

There doesn’t seem to be rhyme or reason to a lot of this spending. Spanberger won a close race for a Virginia House seat; Balint won a safe Dem seat in Vermont. Pettersen won a House seat in Colorado; Conole lost a close election in upstate New York. Stevens trounced her Republican opponent and so did Moskowitz in Florida. Brown won with 77 percent of the vote. If there’s a theme, it’s SBF spent on races that would be Dem blowouts, picking likely winners rather than edge cases. The exception to that analysis is a big one: Carrick Flynn. Flynn ran for Oregon’s 6th Congressional District in a crowded field of Democrats. He finished second, with 18.3 percent of the vote, losing to Andrea Salinas, who went on to win a close race to represent a district that includes Salem and parts of the Portland area.

According to campaign finance records, SBF’s PAC spent $10.5 million promoting Flynn. That’s more than one-third of the group’s total funding spent on a Dem primary candidate who bagged 11,105 votes. That means SBF paid $945 for every Flynn vote. Unusual, to say the least, but double so when you consider his mother’s whole political schtick is maximizing the impact of political spending using sophisticated strategies and analysis. The only explanation conventional media has come up with for the scale of these contributions is that Flynn, like SBF, is a proponent of a secular philosophy known as Effective Altruism. For those who see in SBF a Democratic money laundering operation, the utter ineffectiveness of his spending is an argument against the against the conspiracy theory. Surely, if SBF’s political operation was part of a broader scheme, it would have been more effective.

In addition to the Protect Our Future PAC, SBF gave to more traditional Democrat power groups. He gave $6,000,000 to the House Majority PAC, $5,000,000 to the Future Forward PAC, more than $250,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and nearly $100,000 to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC). SBF also maxxed out his personal contributions to a host of candidates, including Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, NJ Democratic Senator Cory Booker, and New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan. All told, his campaign spending in the 2022 cycle reached $42.7 million.

But that’s not the whole story of FTX’s attempts to influence politics. Ryan Salame, SBF’s partner at FTX, sometimes listed as a Co-CEO, made max contributions to several Republican candidates, including Republican leaders. All told, Salame gave more than $23.6 million to right-leaning political candidates and causes. More than $15 million of that went to a political action committee called American Dream Federal Action. The goal of that PAC was to back “forward-thinking” Republicans. FTX employees made nearly $20 million in various contributions, bringing the total FTX-connected political spending to nearly $70 million for the 2021-2022 cycle, according to FEC data.

Prior to his implosion, SBF was doing more than just funding politicians to curry favor in Wasington, D.C. Through corporate events, FTX secured the patronage of internationalist luminaries like former Democratic President Bill Clinton and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. He also secured a host of meetings and Congressional appearances that will undoubtedly come under closer scrutiny in light of FTX’s collapse. At least one Republican lawmaker has already blown the whistle on SBF’s relationship with U.S. regulators, specifically Securities and Exchange Commissioner Gary Gensler. And we know that SBF had taken private meetings with Gensler just a few months ago.

Gensler was already under fire for failing to flag earlier crypto currency disasters (Terra Luna), but now industry analysts and Gensler’s long-time critics are questioning whether Gensler was in the early stages of a corrupt bargain that would have granted FTX a serious regulatory advantage over its competitors. Jeff J. Roberts writes in Fortune today that FTX may have acquired BlockFi, a crypto lending company, earlier this year in order to take advantage of BlockFi’s recent settlement with the SEC, a move that would have theoretically extended BlockFi’s amnesty protections to FTX more broadly. Special regulatory status to operate in the U.S. would have blown FTX’s existing and future competition out of the water.

Here’s just one example. SBF testified in Congress regarding the role that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) plays in regulating cryptocurrency. SBF said he wanted to increase the budget for CFTC with outside contributions from FFX and its competitors. In other words, he was volunteering to throw cash at the financial cops who would be in charge of regulating him.

Seeking regulatory capture through an elaborate financial conspiracy is pretty run of the mill for Washington, D.C. these days. To have done it out in the open just shows how high SBF was on his own legend. With Republicans retaking a majority in the House of Representatives, I suspect there will be a new round of investigations into what SBF’s partners in the federal regulatory regime knew, when they knew it, and what they had promised him. Interestingly, FTX’s plot to use the American regulatory system to solidify their own advantages was exposed not by U.S. regulators or journalists, but through citizen journalism. A Twitter user was the first to publicly suggest SBF was lobbying for a bill that would have killed the nascent industry of decentralized finance while allowing FTX to dominate the field.

UKRAINE

Now here’s where the conspiracy theorists really start quivering: Did a cabal of U.S. actors send taxpayer money to Ukraine that was transferred back into FTX to launder money into the Democratic Party? That would be a sensational story, but what we do know?

According to reporting from Coin Desk, the Ukrainian government partnered with FTX to help convert cryptocurrency “donations” into arms and war supplies. According to some estimates, between FTX and the National Bank of Ukraine facilitated the flow of up to $100 million worth of bitcoin and cryptocurrency for the war effort. Ukrainian officials have refuted the allegation that anything nefarious happened with FTX, but that’s pretty much meaningless. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only smoke around the potential fire.

The biggest evidence in favor of the conspiracy theory is the timing of SBF’s donations: he gave much more money to Democrats after the partnership with Ukraine than he did before. In 2021 and in the first part of 2022 (prior to the partnership with Ukraine in March of 2022), SBF had given $11.7 million to political candidates, according to FEC records. After March 15, 2022, the date when Coindesk first reported the partnership with Ukraine, SBF gives another $22.4 million to politicians and political committees. In May, two months after the start of FTX’s Ukrainian partnership, SBF tells a podcaster that his “soft ceiling” for political spending on left-wing causes is $1,000,000,000. Regardless of what you think about the conspiracy theory, it’s clear that SBF donated far more money after the Ukrainian partnership and floated the idea of donating enormous sums – after the Ukrainian partnership.

However, it’s unclear whether FTX’s relationship with Ukraine involved any Ukrainian investment into FTX. On the surface, it looks like SBF was virtue signaling his anti-Russian credentials by converting cryptocurrency for Ukraine – lending a crypto hand to the war effort. But with so many cryptocurrency shenanigans going on, it’s hard to know for sure what the flow of money really looked like. If Ukrainian relief money was flowing onto FTX’s books, that would raise serious questions for the U.S. government, considering U.S. taxpayers have shelled out more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine’s war effort.

Lastly, a word or two must be said about Gary Wang, SBF’s partner from the very beginning of Alameda Research. The first question about Wang is surely: Is he a real person? Does he exist? Or is he just another fraudulent creation? These are valid questions because Wang has virtually no online presence. This is one of the only pictures of Gary Wang on the internet, courtesy of his partners at Sequoia Capital.

(Gary Wang, Sequoia Capital)

If SBF is in the hot seat for potential criminal activity related to the collapse of FTX and Alameda, then what about Wang? And what about all the other housemates in the Bahama’s who were surely keyed in to what was going on behind the scenes? Michael Kives, a Hollywood-connected fixer is also worth investigating over his ties to the FTX debacle.

And why the hell did FTX have a $7 million line item on its balance sheet labeled “TRUMPLOSE”?

https://fortune.com/crypto/2022/11/15/ftxs-balance-sheet-from-hell/

CONCLUSION

There’s no smoking gun — not yet, anyways — that FTX was some elaborate money laundering operation — but there’s a whole lot of smoke. We know for sure that the $50 million SBF spent on political contributions originated, at least in part, from the suspect activities of his company. But there’s no proof of a grander conspiracy. And although the timeline of his giving and his partnership with the Ukraine is suspicious, there’s also no evidence of a scheme to launder money through Ukraine and back into American politics. There is, however, more than enough for the vaunted journalists of the elite D.C. and NYC media begin investigating. Which I’m sure they’ll do as soon as they’re done investigating anonymous Reddit users who make memes about CNN, random guys who donated to Kyle Rittenhouse’s GoFundMe, and otherwise trying to ruin the lives of ordinary Americans.

The other conspiracy theory, the one I consider more likely, is that SBF and FTX were part of an operation to bring the Wild Wild West of cryptocurrency under the U.S. regulatory thumb. We know this was part of SBF’s business model. But now that the whole scheme has collapsed, SBF almost works better for enemies of cryptocurrency as a useful idiot. Here’s a story of unregulated cryptocurrency robber barrons swindling retail investors. It’s the perfect story for the Elizabeth Warren’s of the world to make the case for heavy-handed regulations cracking down on financial innovation.

Bitcoin, and to a lesser extent other cryptocurrencies, provides a censorship resistant way to store value and conduct transactions without the need of third party financial firms. In other words, they allow normal people to conduct business without Big Brother or Big Bankster looking over their shoulder or telling them they can’t. Doesn’t take an active imagination to see why central-planners and government authorities might want to crack down on a technology that allows for that kind of freedom.

Tips? Drop us an email.

Edit: Well this is interesting…

Home Heating Oil Prices Hit Record High in Maine

The cost for a gallon of heating oil in Maine has hit a record high.

Mainers should expect to pay an average of $5.71 per gallon for number two heating oil and $7.07 per gallon of kerosene, according to Gov. Janet Mills‘ energy office.

That’s the highest price in three decades for home heating fuel in Maine, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which keeps price records going back to 1990.

Most Mainers will need about 1,000 gallons to get through the winter, which works out to $5,710 dollars. That’s an increase of more than $2550 over what the same amount of fuel would have cost with the prices from November last year.

Roughly 70 percent of Maine homes use number two heating oil, which is chemically identical to diesel fuel, to heat their homes.

[RELATED: As Heating Oil Costs Keep Rising, Oil Dealers Seek Waiver from Mills…]

The soaring cost of staying warm this winter only compounds the crunch many Mainers are feeling as the price of groceries, clothing, automobiles, and just about everything has soared due to runaway inflation.

Lower income Mainers can get some help from a taxpayer funded program administered by Maine Housing Authority, but getting an application in isn’t as easy as it should be.

In April, the Legislature passed a bipartisan bill that instructed MaineHousing to build an online web portal to streamline applications.

So far, that online portal is non-existent.

Without that easy online application process, those in need to government assistance to stay warm this November must instead call one of MaineHousing non-profit sub-contractors to schedule a separate phone call where they can apply.

A Maine Wire investigation found many of those sub-contractors have long waiting lists and some are booking initial appointments as far out as the end of January.

[RELATED: State Heating Assistance Program in Disarray…]

The failure of MaineHousing to create the website lawmakers approved in April in time for the heating season hasn’t stopped applicants from finding their way into the Low-income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), according to information provided by MaineHousing Communications Director Scott Thistle.

Thistle said MaineHousing has paid out roughly $15 million in benefits already this year, which is much more then the $9 million it had paid out this time last year.

For Mainers facing emergency heating situations, a separate program is available that can provide help much faster than LIHEAP.

“The Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) started on November 1 and we have issued authorization of up to $161,000 in benefits for households in crisis situations,” said Thistle.

He said the online application for LIHEAP is in the works and should be live by the end of November.

The Maine Energy Marketers Association, a trade group that represents oil dealers in Maine, has also called on the Mills Administration to take regulatory steps that would boost supply and ease prices, especially in northern Maine.

[RELATED: Mills Eases Air Quality Rules for Kerosene, Hedges on Heating Oil…]

The group wants Mills’ energy office to issue a waiver that would allow dealers to import non-low sulfur fuel oil. The import of fuel with a higher sulfur content has been banned in Maine for more than three years due to concerns about climate change, but the fuel would work perfectly well in furnaces across northern Maine.

The Mills administration reinterpreted part of that rule to allow for the importation of kerosene with a higher sulfur content, but it did not take a similarly creative view of the regulation with regard to number two heating oil.

Instead, the administration asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency for permission to take steps that would increase supply of the fuel.

Mills energy office hasn’t said whether the EPA has granted Maine permission to waive the sulfur content rules.

Her office did release a helpful “2022-2023 Winter Heating Season Tips and Resources” sheet that blamed fossil fuel prices, which started to rise well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on Vladimir Putin.

Ted Cruz Wants “Epic” GOP Fight Over IRS Expansion

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Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said Monday the GOP should fight tooth-and-nail against a Democrat-backed proposal that would expand the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by 87,000 agents.

“I think we oughta fight an epic, knock-down, drag-out fight over stopping the Democrats from funding 87,000 new IRS agents to harass and intimidate and persecute Americans and their political enemies,” Cruz said on his podcast.

“Now, to do that, we will have to draw a line in the sand and saw, we will not fund them. Here’s what will happen next… The Democrats and the media will say, Republicans are shutting down the government, because the only way to do that is on a government funding bill,” he said.

“If past is prologue, our current leadership will agree with the Democrats and the media,” he said. “I think the American people are pissed with Republicans behaving like jellyfish. We need to stand up and fight.”

Maine Human Rights Commission Votes to Dismiss Transgender Student’s Discrimination Complaint Against USM

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The Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on Nov. 7 voted to dismiss a Woolwhich transgender student’s complaint of discrimination against the University of Southern Maine (USM).

That complaint alleged that USM discriminated against Ann Casavant by offering an optional health insurance product to students that did not initially cover transgender health care services, including an Adam’s Apple reduction surgery and voice feminization treatments.

At the Nov. 7 meeting, Casavant’s mother and attorney reiterated the case against USM.

USM’s attorney, Deirdre Salsich, restated USM’s rationale for appealing MHRC investigator Courtney Burne’s original conclusion, which found that USM had discriminated against Casavant.

“The University of Maine System is not an insurance company and should not be held liable for the actions of a corporate third party that has no legal affiliation with the University of Maine System,” said Salsich.

“The real issue at hand in this case is an insurance company’s initial denial of coverage for certain medical procedures. The University of Maine system is not an insurance company, the university is not responsible for the actions of an unaffiliated insurance company, and it defies logic that it would be held liable for the actions of that separate third party,” she said.

Anthem initially only covered the Adam’s Apple reduction, also known as a tracheal shave, and did not cover the voice feminization procedures. Later, after Casavant appealed the coverage decision, the company did pay for both procedures.

Susan Casavant, the complaint’s mother, addressed the commission on her child’s behalf.

“I am not an attorney. We couldn’t afford an attorney after scraping together $50,000 to pay for our daughter’s medical expenses out of pocket. We have subsequently been reimbursed at approximately 80 percent after a two and half year fight with the insurance company,” she said.

“We live on fixed income, so it’s pick and choose where you want to put your money,” she said.

She claimed the coverage for the gender transition surgery and treatment, which she called a life threatening matter, were illegally denied by Anthem.

“The university disregarded my daughter’s needs and rights and put her life at risk and caused great stress to our family,” she said.

Commissioner Edward David moved to find that USM discriminated against Casavant on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, but his motion failed to find another commissioner member to support it.

Commissioner Jefferson Ashby moved to dismiss Casavant’s complaint, and the motion prevailed, with only David voting against and Commissioner Mark Walker abstaining.

All current members of the MHRC were appointed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

Whether insurance companies must be required by law to cover gender transition related surgeries, many of which have previously been regarded as cosmetic surgeries, is an issue that will likely surface in the upcoming session of the State Legislature.

You can watch the portion of the meeting here:

Body Cam Footage Contradicts DOJ Account of Paul Pelosi Attack

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Mystery still surrounds the horrific attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi at the couple’s home in San Francisco. Namely, who opened the door when police showed up?

The initial police account of the attack indicated that an unnamed third person opened the door when police arrived. Later, the DOJ’s narrative of events said police officers opened the door. Now, NBC is reporting that a source who has seen the bodycam footage said the footage clearly shows Paul Pelosi opening the door.

So far, there has been no public statement from local SF law enforcement or the Department of Justice about why there have been so many discrepancies between the various narratives of the events that night.

Although Democrats and the mainstream media attempted to cast Pelosi’s attacker, David DePape, as a right-wing activist somehow inspired by Republican political rhetoric, subsequent reporting has revealed DePape was a one-time Barack Obama supporter and a frequent user of hard drugs. In other words, rather than a political extremist, he was just a nut (and an illegal alien from Canada). But that didn’t stop left-wing political commentators from weaponizing DePape’s actions prior to the midterm elections.

Lockman: Weak Republicans Turned Maine Blue

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Now that we’ve had a week or so to reflect on the blue wave that crashed over Maine on Election Day, it’s time for a sober assessment of what went wrong.

While it’s tempting to wallow in despair over the outcome, I would prefer to focus instead on the lessons we can learn. And there are many.

I want to begin by thanking Paul and Ann LePage for all they have done to restore Maine to The Way Life Should Be during his two terms in the Blaine House.

Remember, Maine state government was a deadbeat debtor when LePage took office in 2011, with thousands of elderly and disabled Mainers languishing on John Baldacci’s notorious Medicaid waitlists.

By the time Paul LePage left office in 2019, the hospital debt was paid, the welfare system was reformed, and the forgotten Mainers were finally getting the medical care they needed.

Now, before I critique his 2022 campaign, I should remind you that LePage was the guy who inspired me to run for a seat in the Maine House of Representatives ten years ago.

During his last six years in the Blaine House, I was one of his most outspoken defenders on the floor of the Democrat-controlled House. In fact, I was gaveled down repeatedly during my floor speech seven years ago mocking the Democrats for their chronic LePage Derangement Syndrome, and hammering their bogus articles of impeachment.

One of my proudest moments was being asked by Gov. LePage to sponsor his bill cutting off state funds to any “harboring haven” municipality – such as Portland – that shields illegal immigrants from deportation.

So, you can imagine my surprise and my profound disappointment this year when LePage somehow managed to get to the left of Janet Mills on illegal immigration. He actually agreed with her that we need to loosen work restrictions on people who entered the country illegally and then boarded buses bound for Maine.

How did that happen?

He should have been pounding the podium and asking why Mills is giving away rent-free housing to thousands of illegal immigrants, while tens of thousands of lifelong Mainers languish on affordable housing waitlists. Why are these non-citizens who never paid a dime in Maine taxes allowed to cut in line ahead of Maine people?

Paul LePage lost because he wasn’t the Paul LePage we’ve come to know and love. LePage was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, not because of his brash talk and take-no-prisoners approach, but because he offered a sharp contrast between his vision and the Democrats’ socialist agenda. He actually talked about issues that mattered to Mainers during those two previous campaigns.

This year, he could have seized on the issue of educational malpractice in Maine’s K-12 government-run schools. That’s what I thought he would do after he invited Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia to a campaign event in Lewiston in early September.

Youngkin flipped his blue state red in last year’s gubernatorial race by riding the wave of discontent with public education. Like parents in Virginia, parents in Maine are fed up with radical Leftist indoctrination and transgender ideology being shoved down their kids’ throats.

But LePage never made this populist uprising a central issue in his campaign. It was an after-thought that never got consistent top billing. Instead, taking his cue from the GOP establishment and the swampy Washington, DC-based consulting class, he tried to blame Janet Mills for the high price of groceries, gasoline, and heating oil — problems that stem more from Washington than they do Augusta. The blame-shifting was’t credible and it wasn’t convincing.

Instead of following the successful blueprint laid out by Ron DeSantis in Florida, or Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, or even his own blueprint that led to two terms in the Blaine House — Paul LePage followed the Shawn Moody blueprint, and he got Shawn Moody results.

That blueprint and those results flowed down the ballot to state legislative races.

The overwhelming majority of GOP candidates for the Maine House and Senate sprinted for the tall grass rather than showing up at school board meetings to stand in solidarity with rightfully-angry parents. So, why would anyone expect those parents to turn out in large numbers on Election Day to cast ballots for candidates who were AWOL on brainwashing in the classroom?

Rep. John Andrews of Paris and Sen. Lisa Keim of Dixfield were exceptional in this regard. They weren’t afraid of the Fake News media’s slings and arrows.

John and Lisa are the only two legislative candidates I know of who spoke out at school board meetings against X-rated pornography in the library and rampant gender-bender madness in the restrooms and locker rooms.

Good for them! They both won reelection handily. And Lisa was just elected Assistant Republican Leader in the Senate.

Imagine what might have happened if Paul LePage had played offense instead of “prevent defense” on the issue of K-12 indoctrination and grooming.

Under the leadership of Janet Mills’ education commissioner Pender Makin, the Maine Department of Education has become an online warehouse of lunatic-fringe LGBTQ training material for K-12 teachers. To drive that point home to voters, LePage could have shown up at a televised debate with a copy of Gender Queer or Middle School’s a Drag to wave at the TV cameras and in Mills’ face.

Why not pledge to fire the pornography-pushing Makin on your first day in office, Gov. LePage?

So many missed opportunities.

He could have shown up at the public forum in Paris on November 1st, a week to the day before the election, to show his support for parents fighting back against a criminally insane policy requiring teachers to coach students on how to keep their new “gender identity” secret from parents. The 300 Mainers who attended that forum were overwhelmingly opposed to this brazen plan to drive a wedge between parents and children.

I’m sure they would have appreciated having Paul LePage there to lend his moral support.

As it was, LePage barely carried Paris last week, a small town in rural Oxford County where he crushed Mike Michaud by a wide margin in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

There’s no way Republicans get elected to statewide office if they don’t run up big vote totals in towns like Paris.

Don’t get me wrong. LePage lost to Janet Mills by a huge 12-point margin. I’m not suggesting he would have won if he had championed border security and parental rights, if he had pushed back on welfare for illegals and gender-bender madness in the public schools. But I’m quite certain the race would have been a lot closer…and if nothing else, much more interesting.

The sad fact is, Maine is currently a blue state by a margin of about 55% to 45%. The blue hue is thanks to decades of feckless GOP leadership failing to offer a meaningful alternative to the Leftist authoritarianism of the progressives who dominate state government, academia, and the Nanny State Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

It took years to get into this mess, and we certainly won’t move from blue to purple to red in one or two election cycles. The long march to restore normalcy will require persistent hard work at the grassroots level.

That work begins with understanding who we’re trying to reach.

We need to reach persuadable Democrats who haven’t realized yet that their party left them years ago and no longer represents their best interests. They continue to vote Democrat out of habit rather than conviction.

Secondly, we need to reach non-political people who feel left behind by both parties. Many of these Mainers don’t bother to vote in midterm elections, or they don’t vote at all any more. They tend to hate politics and politicians. Our challenge is to show them that conservative, Maine First policies are what is best for them and the next generation of Mainers.

And last but not least, we need to reach our base and give them a reason to be excited to go out and vote. Something more than, “we’re not Democrats.”

The good news is that the slumbering giant is stirring. The no-longer silent majority is making its voice heard across Maine.

I already mentioned 300 parents showing up at a school board meeting in rural Oxford County. Did you hear about the 200 parents at a Waldoboro school board meeting last month to protest pornography in the libraries and classrooms?

Close to 1,000 Mainers in that district signed a petition to keep Gender Queer out of the library. The board defied the will of the people, so what is the next step? Here it is: Four seats on that school board are up for election in the first six months of 2023.

In South Paris, more than 700 signatures were gathered on recall petitions for two school board members who voted for the new gender-bender policy. Those recall elections will take place around the first of the year.

Maine First Project will be fully engaged in these and other local skirmishes across the state. As we do, we are awakening more Mainers to the threats to their freedom. At the same time, we are recruiting and training the next generation of activists and candidates. We are building a bench for future state legislative campaigns.

I’m frankly excited about our prospects.

I’m looking forward to being in the trenches and on the frontlines with like-minded patriots in 2023. It’s the least we can do for our children and grandchildren.

I believe 2023 is gonna be a great year!

In closing, I’ll ask that you reflect on these words from Samuel Adams, one of America’s finest Founding Fathers, and Boston’s most prominent revolutionary leader:

“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

Conley: Update the Child Tax Credit

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Growing up as an 10th generation Mainer taught me many things. Foremost among them was the importance of family and hard work. Prioritizing these things manifests our Christian virtue of creating a better life and example for our children, grandchildren, and of course, our neighbors.  Legislative policies that are crafted with these same principles in mind, such as the Child Tax Credit (CTC), should and must garner broad support in Congress if we are to secure a better economic future that continues to value the family.

The most recent efforts to update and preserve the CTC come at just the right time for the U.S and for Mainers. Families that rely on the benefit, which is over 62% of Maine households with children, have seen a cut to their benefits. The benefits these families garnered from this tax credit, nor the challenges they will be facing this coming year cannot be overstated.

The previous credit offered between $250-$300 per child and helped cover basic but high-priced costs associated with raising families. Sarah Sinkman, a Mainer living in Brunswick, told Maine Public earlier this year that she and her husband “spend about 20% of their income to send their son to daycare… but the child tax credit program cut those expenses in half.” Such relief allowed the Sinkmans to “offset some of the other expenses… like food, rent, and heating assistance.” Their plight is far from unique across Maine, and yet these benefits go even further for the lowest-income families that are kept above the poverty line by the tax credit, according to the left-wing non-profit Maine Equal Justice. Indeed, research done last summer in anticipation of the CTC expansion anticipated the credit to lift 10,00 children in Maine out of poverty. 

American families need help urgently and, fortunately, plans like Family Security Act 2.0 take the CTC from good to great by increasing benefits up to $350 per child and transforming it into a monthly direct cash benefit. Cutting bureaucratic red tape and giving benefits directly to families creates a more efficient process free from cumbersome and intrusive wheels of government. Doing so would also empower families to plan without the IRS looking over their shoulders and possibly imposing requirements to the benefits that would infringe on the beliefs of a religious household.

These reforms combined with proposed work requirements will complete a policy trifecta by incentivizing parents to be positive contributors to their communities (whether that work be that of a stay-at-home parent or otherwise), offering more stability in the household, and boosting our economy by spurring spending. Afterall, almost 72 percent of Mainers who have collected CTC benefits previously have paid for essentials like food and clothes to tutoring. Those benefits have also allowed parents to buy recreational goods for their kids such as sporting goods, bicycles, toys, etc. As challenging as this economy is, this kind of stimulus given to hardworking families to spend at the local level not only helps these deserving families in need but the community as a whole.

Perhaps most importantly is that the Family Security Act 2.0 will be a revolutionary pro-family policy. Under this plan families will be eligible beginning at pregnancy and not just at birth. Any mother or father knows that an expecting family incurs a litany of costs. Helping families shoulder this financial burden will not only create a more stable family for a newborn but also may dissuade a mother from considering an abortion for fear of her ability to care for a child. Frankly, we are well overdue for a federal government that that supports life both in the womb and after birth as the family grows.

We need to promote common-sense solutions offered by Congress, and I look forward to our own Sen. Susan Collins supporting it now and when it comes up for a vote. There is too much on the line for Maine to let this opportunity slip past.

Troy Jackson to Head Senate Democrats

State Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) will once again lead the Democratic caucus in the Maine Senate following leadership elections Thursday night.

[RELATED: LePage, Stewart Call for Investigation into Troy Jackson’s Alleged Threat to Penobscot McCrum Owner…]

Jackson emerged victorious from his race against former Rep. Susan Bernard (R-Caribou), a race that broke records for campaign spending. He won that race with 52 percent of the vote.

[RELATED: Mystery Surrounds Maine Potato Matriarch’s Stillborn Senate Bid…]

Serving under Senate President Jackson will be Majority Leader Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) and Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick).

Mills’ Weed Guy Moves from Making Cannabis Rules to Consulting for Cannabis Firms

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The former executive director of Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy left state government this year to start a new joint helping pot businesses navigate the same regulations he helped develop.

Erik Gundersen, a native of Bangor, left his state job behind in October to form ERG Strategies LLC. He is also employed as a senior adviser to Cannabis Public Policy Consulting.

Gundersen’s no greenhorn to the marijuana industry. He worked as senior policy advisor to former House Speaker Sara Gideon in 2017 and 2018, where he influenced the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization and Implementation. From there, Gov. Janet Mills selected him to establish the Office of Cannabis Policy and launch the state’s recreational cannabis program.

MaineBiz.com writes of the pot policy wonk: “Under Gundersen’s leadership, the Office of Cannabis Policy created and oversaw the first set of program rules, built out systems and processes and processed license applications.”

Having written the rule book on legal pot in Maine, Gundersen’s ready to cash by dispensing his wisdom throughout the industry and serving as rasta for other governments that have legalized the drug.

‘Do Not Reward Mediocrity’: Tucker Carlson Says GOP Needs To Replace Leadership After ‘Frustrating’ Midterm Results

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Harold Hutchison – Daily Caller News Foundation – on November 9, 2022

Fox News host Tucker Carlson slammed Republican leadership in the House and Senate Wednesday, saying promoting them would “reward mediocrity” after “frustrating” midterm election results.

“The people whose job was to win and did not win should go do something else now, we’re speaking specifically of the Republican leadership of the House and the Senate and of the RNC,” Carlson said. “It’s nothing personal, no doubt some of them are nice people, but they took hundreds of millions of dollars to paint the map red and they didn’t. Doesn’t mean they’re evil, doesn’t mean they should be jailed. It does mean they shouldn’t be promoted. No one should ever be rewarded for failure. If there’s a truly conservative principle in life, it’s the principle of meritocracy. You reward excellence, you do not reward mediocrity.”

McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund super PAC reportedly spent $178 million for Senate races in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania according to the Idaho Capital Sun. The Congressional Leadership fund, tied to Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, spent over $200 million in the lead-up to the midterm elections, Politico reported.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump’s war chest grew to over $90 million leading up to the midterms, sending $20 million to an allied super PAC aiding the GOP’s Senate races. Bloomberg reported.

However, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas noted that Trump had spent very little of the funds to aid Republicans in key races, the Hill reported. “Trump’s got $100 million and he’s spending almost none of it to support these candidates,” Cruz said on “The Verdict.”

WATCH:

“The plan was really simple. It seemed easy a week ago: An unpopular president, a faltering economy, an open border, the looming risk of nuclear war, how about that?” Carlson said. “Put all those together, how could there not be a massive Republican win nationally? Wins everywhere. Well, there weren’t. Some exceptions, but overall there weren’t. Joe Biden was not punished. In fact, he’s out there bragging about himself today. Pretty frustrating. You want Republicans to win, not because they’re so great, but because Democrats are so very bad, and that is not an overstatement.”

“Democrats had a strong night, and we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president’s first midterm election in the last 40 years, and we had the best midterm for governors since 1986,” Biden said during a Wednesday press conference.

Republicans underperformed expectations in Tuesdays midterm elections, with a number of candidates falling short, including Don Bolduc, who challenged Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Tiffany Smiley, who faced off against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. Another notable defeat was that of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who lost to Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

“Republicans swore they were going to sweep, a red tsunami. That’s what they told us, and we, to be honest, cautiously believed them,” Carlson said. “But they did not sweep, not even close to sweeping. The Republican Party, in the end, may take control of the House and Senate, but only by a tiny margin at best. That’s great but it was not the plan.”

The Race for Maine House Minority Leader Has Begun

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Maine Republicans have already decided on who will lead the 13-member Republican caucus in the State Senate, but the contest to decide who will become Minority Leader in the House of Representatives is going to be a bit messier.

Right now, four Reps have thrown their hats in the ring: Billy Bob Faulkingham, Laurel Libby, Mike Lemelin, and Josh Morris.

Faulkingham, a lobsterman from Winter Harbor, has spent much of the last year in the spotlight thanks to the ongoing federal assault on the lobstering industry. He’s a portrait of the Downeast blue-collar guy, a 6th generation lobsterman who got fed up with Augusta and decided to run for office in 2018.

Rep. Bill Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor)

On policy, the bills he’s backed reflect economic and political conservatism. He has introduced legislation that would lower Maine’s income tax incrementally to zero, allow the sale of ethanol-free gas statewide, and protect freedom of expression on college campuses. He has also introduced “Right to Work” legislation that would end the compulsory collection of union dues from non-union paychecks. And he’s been a leading voice on ending civil asset forfeiture in the state.

[REALTED: 2022 Autopsy: Maine Republicans Need Fundamental Transformation and New Leaders…]

Libby, a former nurse from Auburn, is best known as a prominent critic of Gov. Janet Mills’ executive mandate on health care workers that led thousands of workers to lose their jobs because they refused to take the experimental COVID-19 injections. In 2019, Libby testified during a hearing in Augusta over the mandate, telling lawmakers that, as a nurse, she would rather leave the state than submit to the mandate. But rather than leave the state, she ran for office, defeating incumbent Democrat Rep. Betty Ann Sheats for the 64th District seat.

During her first term in the legislature, Libby declared war on the vaccine mandate and lobbied to include a religious exemption to the order. Mills’ mandate, unlike mandates elsewhere in the country, did not include an exemption for people who objected to the injections on religious grounds. Libby also objected to mandatory masking and other heavy-handed measures ordered by Augusta.

Other measures Libby sponsored in the legislature include a bill that would have eliminated “certificate of need” in Maine. Certificate of Need is an anti-free market policy that prevents would-be hospital operators from building new medical facilities in the state unless they can demonstrate need. The policy serves as effective monopoly protection for existing health care facilities. She also sponsored bills to expand access to telemedicine.

[RELATED: Stewart, Keim Emerge As Maine Senate Minority Leaders…]

Libby Morris
Rep. Josh Morris (R-Turner), left – Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn), right

Morris, a realtor from Turner, first won office in 2018. He has the blessing of the former GOP leadership, including moderate Rep. Kathy R.J. Dillingham (R-Oxford), the outgoing House Minority Leader. A member of the Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance & Financial Services, much of Morris’ legislative work has involved changes to MaineCare policies and health insurance regulations.

Morris, like Libby, was an opponent of vaccine mandates, sponsoring a bill that would have blocked mandates for at least five years. However, in the past election cycle, Morris operated a leadership political action committee — Taking Care of Maine Business PAC — to support fellow Republican candidates for the House, which raised $42,250. Donations he received for that effort will likely draw criticism from conservatives.

Morris’ top donors were the Maine Association of Realtors PAC ($4,500), the Maine Health Care Association ($2,500), ABC PAC ($2,500), and PhRMA ($2,450). Other pharmaceutical companies also chipped in for his PAC, including Johnson & Johnson, Astellas Pharma US, Inc., and Pfizer PAC. Morris also accepted smaller donations from several prominent Maine law firms with strong lobbying presences in Augusta, including DrummondWoodsum and Bernstein Shur.

Morris and Libby have clashed in the past through proxies. Morris ally Dillingham scolded the Libby-aligned Dinner Table PAC this year for denigrating the lackluster fundraising of the House Republican Fund, the official committee formed to help GOP candidates. That committee’s fundraising was dwarfed this cycle by The Dinner Table, which raised more than half a million dollars to back Republican candidates.

Of the four candidates, Lemelin, a businessman from Chelsea, has perhaps the lowest profile. He joined the House of Representatives in 2020 after an unsuccessful bid in 2018. He had a career as a private pilot and operated a number of franchise restaurants in the Augusta area, including Subway and Red Robin locations.

Rep. Mike Lemelin (R-Chelsea) with Gov. Paul LePage

In the past legislative session, Lemelin sponsored a handful of bills, including a measure to make MaineCare cover ostomy bags and a bill to ensure police officers are properly trained to use radar guns. He also backed legislation that you place limits on the governor’s ability to invoke emergency powers by requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature after a period of 90 days.

House Republicans are slated to vote on leadership positions on Monday.

Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Unravels Three Days After Midterms

President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which many viewed as an illegal ploy to court millennial voters, has gone up in flames after a federal judge ruled that the program was an unlawful encroachment on Congress’ authority.

US District Judge Mark Pittman said the program, which was done without the consent of Congress, was unconstitutional.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” Pittman wrote.

“Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.”

The Biden administration had been sending out emails to student loan borrowers in the days before the election asking them to apply for debt forgiveness, but now the application has disappeared from federal websites.

[RELATED: Biden’s Student Loan Bailout Hits Inboxes As Election Underway…]

The implosion of the program comes three days after midterm elections that saw Democrats wildly outperform expectations.

According to news reports, some 26 million Americans had already applied for loan forgiveness, with 16 million receiving preliminary approval.

In Maine, the move was heralded by the state’s newspapers, with the Press Herald running several articles instructing readers on how to apply for the unconstitutional program.

The Herald’s initial staff report said 177,000 Mainers stood to benefit from the program and never questioned where the money would come from or whether the measure would withstand Constitutional scrutiny.

Billionaire Crypto Bro Who Gave Democrats $40 Million Files For Bankruptcy, Resigns as FTX CEO

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Sam Bankman-Fried, known in the cryptocurrency community simply as SBF, became a poster child for the industry after he cozied up to Washington, D.C. regulators and spent a whopping $39.8 million on Democratic political campaigns.

The doughy geek even said on a podcast earlier this year his “soft ceiling” for spending cash to help Democrats get elected was $1 billion.

Now, instead of help liberals fight for office, he’s fighting to stay solvent — and perhaps out of a jail cell.

SBF’s crypto firm filed for bankruptcy Friday after he resigned as CEO following a whirlwind week that saw his $15 billion net worth collapse by 94 percent. He might not even be a billionaire anymore once the dust settles.

Top financial regulators are now probing his crypto empire to see whether he violated any laws with his creative handling of other people’s money.

SBF’s company, FTX, operated an off-shore cryptocurrency exchange where customers could purchase and store all kinds of cryptocurrencies. Until this week, FTX was one of the biggest centralized exchange and derivatives trading platforms in the entire cryptocurrency space.

A downswing in the market created a liquidity crisis for FTX that quickly revealed the company was practically bankrupt. The cause of that downswing gets kind of complicated: briefly, a one-time financial supporter and current exchange competitor decided to dump a ton of a cryptocurrency FTX invented and kept on its books at an insanely high valuation. Huge selling dropped the price, and thereby the value of FTX, and customers started to worry about their deposits with FTX. If you haven’t followed the history of cryptocurrency, there’s a long tradition of large companies suddenly turning up bankrupt, costing users who trusted them their life savings.

When worry over FTX’s solvency began to circulate online, a mad rush for users to withdraw funds from the platform began, leading to more than $5 billion in withdrawal requests — a crypto version of a bank run. FTX was forced to slow and eventually freeze withdrawals because it didn’t have the funds to cover customer deposits. Things only got worse for SBF and FTX when the full breadth of his double-dealing and misuse of client funds was exposed.

So where’d the money go? According to a report in the Wall St. Journal, SBF used $10 billion in customer funds to prop up a trading firm that he also operated, Alameda Research. That was more than half of the reported $16 billion in customer-owned assets FTX had in its custody. Alameda was one of those operations where you’re told just to trust that really, really smart computer geeks are taking a small amount of money and making it into a big amount of money using computer wizardry you can’t understand. But everyone can understand zero — which is the amount venture cap giant Sequoia Capital is expecting to get back on its mammoth investment in FTX. If you want a deeper, better explanation of what happened at FTX, click here.

Earlier this year, SBF was on stage with former Democratic President Bill Clinton at a conference in the Bahamas. It was one of the most high profile examples of his attempt to ingratiate himself with the Washington, D.C. political class, from financial academics and regulators to prominent politicians. And they were willing to entertain his ideas about cryptocurrency because he was spending money like an inebriated sailor on left-wing causes.

For Democrats, SBF represented a cash bonanza. To put his giving in perspective, he was the second largest donor to Democratic causes in the 2022 cycle, topped only by George Soros. His “Protect Our Future PAC” spent millions supporting liberal candidates for the House, including $10.4 million on Carrick Flynn in Oregon (he lost), $1.9 million on Lucy McBath in Georgia, and $1.4 million on Jasmine Crockett in Texas.

Ironically, SBF’s big D.C. push has been all about regulation of the cryptocurrency industry, the kind of regulation that might have prevented him from misusing customer funds. But now the former media darling had better hope his lavish spending on politics earned him enough friends in the nation’s capital to call in a few favors, the kind of favors that might help him avoid the fate of other rise-and-fall financial whizzes, like Bernie Madoff.

Stewart, Keim Emerge As Maine Senate Minority Leaders

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Senators-elect Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook) and Lisa Keim (R-Oxford) have been elected to leadership positions in the 13-member Republican Senate caucus.

Both are wildly popular within their districts and won the leadership spots unopposed. Keim won re-election Tuesday with 62 percent of the vote in her district, while Stewart won with 70 percent. Keim has been in the Maine Senate since 2016 and this is Stewart’s second term.

Outgoing Senate Minority Leaders Sen. Jeff Timberlake (R-Androscoggin) and Sen. Matt Pouliot (R-Kennebec) both supported the new leaders.

The pair will have their work cut out for them as they lead a small caucus that failed to grow on Tuesday, despite widespread expectations that Republicans would gain ground in state and national contests across the country.

Right-Wing Firebrand Lauren Boebert Takes Lead in CO House Election

In Colorado’s Third Congressional District, incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert has pulled ahead of Democrat Adam Frisch with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

Boebert’s race has drawn attention not only because the Republican margin in the House of Representatives is smaller than Republicans envisioned prior to Election Day, but also because Boebert has become a lightning rod for left-wing criticism due to her outspoken personality and brash social media presence.

As of this writing, Boebert has 157,743 votes and Frisch has 157,357 votes — a gap of 386 votes.

Boebert, a former Democrat and small business owner who advocates for gun rights, has irked left-wing critics with her embrace of former President Donald Trump, her attacks on the Green New Deal, and her opposition to sex change surgeries for minors.

The 35-year-old was first elected to Congress in 2020.

Boebert has also regularly been the victim of sexist attacks from liberal media commentators and activists, including a recent anonymous campaign to circulate an unverified memo alleging she’d previously worked as a paid escort.

More recently, MSNBC commentator Kurt Bardella told the networks audience that, if Boebert lost, she should go get a job at OnlyFans, a platform that is popular with porn actresses who sell video and images of themselves to subscribers.

Patten: 2022 Tantrum Shows GOP Needs to Get Over Trump

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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 not charged with anything then), I was not only unsympathetic. I was amazed at how tone-deaf a man can be.

As somewhat intelligent people, we must be able to hold two truths in our head at the same time: first, Trump was targeted as a candidate and a president. But – second – his problems and my own are not the same.

Now Trump’s own friends are urging him to delay his announcement about seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2024 until after the Georgia run-off. The obsessively self-concerned Trump already dampened enthusiasm for the Republican ticket this week by teasing his announcement on the eve of the midterm.

In a world where people think before opening their mouths, you wouldn’t even have to ask this indulgence of the man. But as long as Donald J. Trump is around, that’s not the world in which we live, is it?

Suddenly I was reminded what happened in Georgia two years ago. Then, Trump actively campaigned against two Republican senators whom he considered insufficiently supportive of him. Both lost, and the Democrats took the Senate.

As we try to do with a drunk and deranged uncle who went incontinent at the Thanksgiving dinner table five years ago, we try to forget past transgressions. Until, that is, he looks like he starts reaching for the Wild Turkey at this year’s gathering.

Way too much ink has been spilled in this country on why Donald Trump should go. We’ve lost more than a few souls to Trump Derangement Syndrome since the man took that famous ride down the escalator in his own tower in New York City in 2015. Folks have been talking about it being time to dump Trump so long that argument has almost lost its meaning.

But enough is enough. I am no longer interested in seeing what else he can screw up. The bottom line is Republicans just can no longer afford him anymore.

Put aside the moralizing and griping about style. If the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua had herself concocted in her evil laboratory some Frankenstein-esque monster to destroy the Republican Party from within, it would look no different than Donald Trump.

Sure, some Trump-backed candidates won on Tuesday. JD Vance in Ohio and Ted Budd in North Carolina, for instance, both won Senate seats. But more candidates whom he endorsed lost. In late 2017, I went down to Alabama to campaign against Roy Moore because he was a horrible candidate who hurt the party. Trump has no special gift for picking winners.

This morning the front page of the New York Post lays it out clearly: Donald Trump sabotaged our chances of making history this week. Maybe we’ll limp through the current uncertainty and end up barely controlling both houses of Congress before Christmas. It would help, though, if Trump didn’t screw up another Georgia run-off.

Today we have huge opportunity to say good-bye to Donald Trump. There were good times and bad. Lord knows the Republican Party needed to be shaken up, and Trump certainly energized new voters and changed us in many ways.

But he is not good at elections, and he needs to go.

New York Times Already Pushing for Child Masking in Schools

Less than two days after the 2022 midterm elections, the paper of record for the American left is already signaling the start of a push to bring child masking back into public schools.

The story published Thursday morning looks at an experiment in the Boston school system where one school imposed masks on children while another did not.

“The bottom line: Masking mandates were linked with significantly reduced numbers of Covid cases in schools,” reporter Roni Caryn Rabin writes.

The study appeared on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In Maine, only four people under the age of 20 have died while testing positive for COVID-19. Death rates for young people elsewhere in the country were similarly low. So it’s not clear why preventing children from catching the virus would support a masking policy anymore than preventing kids from catching the common cold.

Child masking is being pushed by a group of advocates in the Boston school system who call themselves BPS Families for Covid Safety. Sarah Horsley, a co-founded of that group, told the New York Times that child masking should be imposed whenever someone at the school tests positive for the virus and when students are returning from school vacations.

Following a recent outbreak of the virus in the Cape Elizabeth school system, the school board voted against imposing a child masking requirement.

Did Maine Gov. Janet Mills Fake a Phone Call from Angus King on Election Night?

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills was ecstatic Tuesday night after it appeared she’d sailed to victory over former Republican Gov. Paul LePage to win a second term in the Blaine House. Amid her victory speech, something odd happened: a phone call from U.S. Sen. Angus King, who is unenrolled but who caucuses with and endorses Democrats, including Mills.

Political watchers immediately flagged video of Mills taking the call on stage for The Maine Wire. Curiously, Mills never looks down at her phone before announcing to the crowd that it is “Angus” calling. Mills sister immediately steps in to say, “Oh, is that Angus, agaaain???” Also, why didn’t Mills put King on speaker phone and allow him to address the crowd? For some odd reason, you never hear King’s voice. It looks like a poorly choreographed routine, but we’ll leave it to the viewer to judge whether Mills faked the phone call. (And we’ll leave it to psychologists to say what it means if she did.)

Lewiston Reporter Praises Maine’s First Somali-American Rep, Fails to Mention His Son Was Her Treasurer

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The Lewiston Sun Journal’s Steve Collins wrote a gushing profile about a young Lewiston community organizer, Mana Hared Abdi, who won an unopposed election for the State House of Representatives.

Collins, who last year won the prestigious Maine Press Association’s Journalist of the Year award, failed to mention that his son Kiernan Innes Majerus-Collins, was Abdi’s campaign treasurer.

“One of the stars of Lewiston’s immigrant community, 26-year-old community organizer Mana Abdi, won election Tuesday to a state House seat that will make her the first Somali-American lawmaker in Augusta,” said Collins.

Collins describes another member of the immigrant community openly weeping after a speech from Abdi. Her soon-to-be colleagues in the House lavish praise on the young community organizer, with Drew Gattine, chairman for the Democratic Party, telling Collins that she will “make history.”

Abdi, Collins notes, was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and arrived in Kansas before settling in Lewiston in 2009. She graduated high school in 2014 in Lewiston and earned a degree from University of Maine at Farmington before working for Bates College.

In the only line of the story that has anything to do with Abdi’s political views, Collins quotes her saying that Lewiston deserves affordable housing and good jobs.

UPDATE: A Twitter user helpfully notes that this isn’t the first time Collins has omitted his son from the pages of the Sun Journal.

Biden Greenlights Fed Fishing Expedition Into Musk After Twitter Purchase

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President Joe Biden gave the green light Wednesday to federal authorities to begin investigating Elon Musk following his acquisition of Twitter, a social media platform that is influential due to its use by almost every member of the news media.

“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

“Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate — I’m not suggesting that — I’m suggesting it’s worth being looked at. And that’s all I’ll say,” he continued.

Biden’s comments lend the Commander-in-Chief’s stamp of approval for myriad federal agencies to begin using their power, including the vast surveillance capabilities of the U.S. intelligence services, to find information — any information — on Musk that might be useful for the White House and its allies.

Biden did not say exactly why Musk’s relationships with other countries were worth looking into, nor did he suggest that any crime had been committed. The fishing expedition Biden has called for is not unlike the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into candidate Donald Trump prior to his election in 2016, in which federal authorities scoured the globe looking for unflattering and incriminating information that might undermine his chances to defeat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

It’s not uncommon for international businessmen to have business relationships that span the globe. Even President Joe Biden and his crack businessman son Hunter Biden have had business relationships in far flung places like Ukraine and the People’s Republic of China.

The most likely reason for Biden to offer his public approval for a warrantless investigation into Musk is that Musk has repeatedly said he wants Twitter to be a platform that embraces free speech and open discourse. Under the previous corporate control structure, Twitter was a paragon of political censorship, regularly blocking right-of-center voices, including former President Donald Trump, and even censoring accurate stories about Hunter Biden, like the New York Post’s 2020 expose on Hunter’s laptop. Those censorship actions were often taken at the request and urging of U.S. intelligence services. Under Musk, Twitter might be less likely to attempt to influence American politics and elections in order to curry favor with the American spy state.

Although less than 20 percent of American adults use Twitter daily, the site’s user base is disproportionately comprised of reporters from online news outlets, newspapers, and especially television media. Reporters often use the site to gather information and publicize their stories. In many ways, Twitter is effectively the nervous system of the American news media. Despite its relatively small user base, information flowing on Twitter often seeps up into broader news coverage, making the platform one of the most influential in American politics.

Musk’s purchase of the company effectively ended several years of left-wing political dominance on the platform. Importantly, Musk has never said he wants to reinstate the biased censorship protocols to use them against liberal voices, but rather that he wants to make Twitter a politically neutral platform. Mere neutrality has been enough to set off a freak out amongst many liberal commentators, who owe their fame and livelihoods to the old biased Twitter rules, but Biden’s urging of an investigation into Musk elevates the resistance the South African billionaire faces as he attempts to restore free speech to the social media company. Biden’s call for an investigation into Musk adds yet another item to the long list of examples of the federal government being used as a weapon to silence and intimidate political dissidents.

Maine House Republicans Already Vying for New Leadership Spots

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Less than 24 hours after the polls closed on Election Day, the surviving House Republicans have already begun throwing their hats in the ring for minority leadership positions. First in: Rep. Laurel Libby (R-Auburn) and Rep. Josh Morris (R-Turner).

[RELATED: 2022 Autopsy: Maine Republicans Need Fundamental Transformation and New Leaders…]

See their announcement emails below:

Maine State Police Make Arrest in 26-Year-Old Hancock Cold Case

The Maine State Police arrested 56-year-old Jason Follette on Wednesday in connection with the sexual assault of a now 47-year-old woman in Hancock that has gone unsolved for more than 25 years ago.

The arrest was made possible by genetic testing equipment that was not available to law enforcement in 1996 at the time of the assault.

The then-21-year-old victim was sexually assaulted in her Hancock apartment on August 11, 1996. According to MSP, evidence collected at the scene of the crime that day allowed them to obtain a warrant for an unidentified male in 2002.

More recently, the DNA sample was tested by Othram Inc. The results of that DNA test, along with further investigative work by MSP, identified Follette as the woman’s attacker.

He was arrested at a pier in Gouldsboro without incident, according to MSP. He was charged with one count of gross sexual assault and other charges may be pending.

2022 Autopsy: Maine Republicans Need Fundamental Transformation and New Leaders

It’s difficult to overstate just how horrible last night went for Maine Republicans. Truly, the 2022 Maine elections will go down in history as one of the most humiliating defeats ever suffered by the Maine Republicans. For the next two years, Republicans in Augusta will be mere spectators to one-party rule. A few days ago, they were plotting which of them would ascend to Speaker of the House, but now the few GOPers who remain are an endangered species, operating an insurgency from remote outposts in the Great North Woods and Aroostook County. At times like these, it’s traditional and altogether fitting for the routed party to conduct an autopsy of sorts and search out the root causes. Were Maine Republicans capable of such introspection, they might not find themselves in this predicament in this first place. So let us join the crowd of Monday Morning Quarterbacks to hazard a few guesses as to what went wrong last night with a view to charting a path for the future.

THE GOVERNOR’S RACE

First, on the gubernatorial race: Gov. Janet Mills soundly defeated former Gov. Paul LePage by 14 points. Could be more when all is said and done. As results continue to come it, it appears that LePage underperformed both his 2014 vote total and Republican Shawn Moody’s in 2018. At the same time, Mills added 30,000 voters from her last election. That’s mandate territory. Just disastrous for Republicans. Clearly something went terribly, terribly wrong with the LePage campaign, and because most Republicans hitched their wagons in some form or fashion to LePage, the down ballot consequences were ruinous.

It’s easy to second guess a campaign from the cheap seats, but the most basic and fair criticism is the LePage campaign never developed a strong central message. Yes, LePage was a fantastic conservative governor whose policies made life better for everyone in the state, except for the parasitic political class. And this time around, the governor had strong policies on energy, on taxes, on the drug epidemic, and on stopping the insane progressive projects emanating from Augusta. But his campaign never crystallized around a simple, memorable message. Ask yourself now, what was his campaign’s message in a nutshell? Beats me.

The chief takeaway from his campaign seemed to be: here’s the new and improved LePage 2.0, kinder, nicer, and totally averse to the unearned media that made him a sensation in 2010. Whereas the LePage of 2010 and 2014 achieved stardom by hurling rhetorical Molotov cocktails at progressives, LePage 2.0 seemed overly controlled—timid in the face of an incumbent whose chief accomplishment was an authoritarian, unscientific lockdown of the state.

Mills ruined lives and livelihoods by shutting down Maine’s economy, and she pilfered taxpayer funds to buy off every constituency in the state. LePage had more right to be angry with her than he did with Libby Mitchell or Mike Michaud. But we saw no righteous indignation this cycle. When the old LePage did come out in the debates, he awkwardly accused Mills of lying, often without an explanation. The campaign website, JanetMillsLied.com, felt like an unnatural act of desperation, which is saying something coming from the guy who wrote half the articles to which the site links.

Even good policies can be poorly messaged. LePage told us about the threat that Maine farmland would soon be colonized with solar panels. We heard that Maine’s pension fund reversing the decision to divest from oil and natural gas companies – less than a drop in the bucket of global finance – would somehow fight inflation. Sure, solar subsidies create malinvestment and ESG pension funds drive up energy costs, but these are not issues that resonate with voters. LePage’s campaign never landed on a simple rationale for supporting him, or, perhaps more importantly, for rejecting Mills. Would a brasher LePage have changed the outcome? Who knows. But a muzzled LePage never put a dent in Mills.

Compare that with the Mills’ campaign, whose central message sang through in every campaign ad: competent, effective, bipartisan leadership. Who cares whether it’s true? Voters bought into the idea that everyone in Maine would have died of COVID-19 if Mills hadn’t unilaterally seized emergency power, shutdown the state, and crushed her critics with the power of the state. The LePage campaign ceded that argument and allowed Mills’ message of Pandemic Era competence to broadcast unresisted. The only explanation for this is some pollster told a consultant Mills’ pandemic policies had broad support in Maine. Even if that’s true, it’s a sign a campaign needs to attack and change public opinion rather than avoid the subject. Why, for example, did LePage not have a massive press conference with the health care workers who lost their jobs because of Mills’ unscientific, authoritarian, anti-Christian health care worker vaccine mandate? Why not bring Rick Savage, whose business Mills destroyed over COVID-19, out on the campaign trail every weekend? Everyone in Maine suffered because of Mills’ bumbling, authoritarian approach to managing the pandemic – she was the anti-thesis of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – but LePage left that point unmade.

The LePage campaign also failed to effectively leverage help from outside allies. In the closing weeks of the race, Maine Families First PAC spent more than $800,000 on ads that were harming his opponent and motivating his base. The ads drew attention to radical left-wing material the Maine Dept. of Education was recommending for Maine elementary classrooms, including at least one book that featured cartoons of children having sex. Maine Wire columnist Sam Patten says this issue was a distraction; I respectfully disagree. Against the backdrop of miserably low student test scores, thanks to illiberal lockdowns commanded by his opponent, LePage could have capitalized on the idea that a cabal of education bureaucrats and unionized teachers has been brainwashing children with left-wing hypersexualized poppycock rather than teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.

[RELATED: Secret audio reveals Maine teacher ranting about politics, mocking Trump-supporting parents…]

The playbook Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin used to win office in 2021 was served up on a silver platter. He should have asked Mills during a debate whether she recommended “Gender Queer” for Maine schools after finding a few copies on Eliot Cutler’s bookshelf… Let the chattering classes chew on that for a few cycles rather than dissecting the twelfth iteration of his abortion stance. Ok, perhaps he shouldn’t have gone that blue, but you get the point. 2010 LePage would have found a provocative way to channel the angst and furor of conservative and moderate parents over what’s happening in schools. Alas, LePage 2.0 dared not go there. He called the book with the cartoons of children having sex “fine.”

LePage also struggled to articulate a coherent position on abortion. Which is stunning considering this was the first election following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Dobbs effectively sent all abortion policies back to the states, so this was naturally going to be a predictable topic. LePage’s public position, arrived at painfully through four debates, was as follows: I’m personally pro-life, but I’m not going to manifest that in any policies, including by blocking taxpayer funding for abortions through MaineCare, although I oppose taxpayer funding for abortions. This came off as consultant speak for: “I don’t want to alienate pro-abortion women.” The opposite became true, with many pro-life conservatives wondering what being pro-life means if you’re not going to oppose taking money from pro-life people’s paychecks to fund abortions. Whether a more robust pro-life position would have helped LePage is unknowable, but his actual position did nothing to stem the tide of post-Dobbs voters in Maine’s blue strongholds, and the wishy-washy politician speak depressed his Christian supporters.

With that being said, every conservative in the state of Maine owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Paul LePage. Twelve years ago, the Maine Republican Party’s operation was in shambles. On the strength of LePage’s gritty charisma, and under the competent leadership of Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage, that organization was professionalized and rebuilt. Yesterday’s vote shows yet another infusion of new blood and energy is needed to make the Maine GOP effective at recruiting candidates and turning out votes. But consider where we’d be if LePage decided he’d rather not enter the fray in 2010 and stayed at Mardens. If the Friendly Compromise Republicans (which at the time included this writer) had had their way in that primary, we’d have had four or eight years of Charlie Baker-style Big Government Republicanism under Les Otten or Peter Mills. The Leviathan cannot be managed but must be dismantled, and LePage understood that. During his first term in office, nearly a quarter million Mainers were on Food Stamps; today, less than 170,000 are. LePage also managed to shrink the size of the state government workforce in Maine – a heroic accomplishment. None of that happens without a tenacious governor who will fight, and Maine continues to benefit from those victories.

The lesson seems obvious: unapologetic conservative fighters win elections and policy victories, while limp wristed Republican squishes lose, and lose badly. Which brings us to the Republican legislators.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Republican State lawmakers in recent weeks were already jockeying for Speaker of the House. Talk about counting your eggs. Instead of refining the invite list for a lobbyist happy hour in Augusta, they’re now relegated to utter irrelevance. Sure, they might have added a few seats in the House, but their overall position is weaker because Mills no longer faces the prospect of re-election. Moreover, the threat of Republican gains two years from now is laughable. Why should Democrats fear a Republican operation that failed to defend Lewisont-Auburn or send Troy Jackson to early retirement? Mills could reverse course on her campaign promises, hike the income tax to 10 percent, encircle Swan’s Island with offshore windmills, legalize fourth trimester abortion, and put a Planned Parenthood in every county, and I’m not sure Republicans in Augusta would be able to win majorities two years from now.

The dwindling few Republicans who will inhabit the State House this next legislative session need a clean slate. Otherwise, they might as well spare taxpayers the per diem and stay at home. Anyone remotely connected to the old leadership must step back and allow a new generation of conservatives to lead the party. This includes staffers in the House and Senate GOP offices, if any are left once the new class of Democrats gets done cutting minority staff positions. I know the talent pool for Republican operatives is shallow in Maine, but we’re at rock bottom here. Hire away a couple of Denny’s workers and some College Republicans – anyone who hasn’t been infected with that beaten-dog loser mentality so characteristic of Republicans in Augusta.

As for new leadership, placing young, media savvy, strategically minded conservatives in charge is the only possible path to becoming relevant again. The only bargaining chip Republican lawmakers will have this session is the potential to allow Mills and Democratic leadership to tout some awful piece of legislation as “bipartisan.” It’s not much, but it’s all they have. And that chip should be jealously guarded by a unified minority. You’re not going to get a unified minority with 60-year-old Bush Republicans who like to dine with Pharma lobbyists at the Senator Inn. The time of the Baby Boomer Republican is over; we’re reaping the fruit of their happy-go-lucky incompetence now. It’s time for them to step aside. Young conservatives and libertarians ought to demand it.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin is a victim of his own success. Unlike most Members of Congress, including Rep. Chellie Pingree, Poliquin never used his office to enrich himself. Quite the contrary. The man has spent oodles of his own money trying to put himself in a place where his boundless energy might serve the public good. He’s had an extraordinary career, and I truly believe his heart, like LePage’s, is in the right place. But he wasn’t the right fit for the Second Congressional District this time around. The Poliquin campaign understood that, perhaps, and tried to bind him publicly with LePage, but that strategy sank for reasons already mentioned.

For all his flaws, Rep. Jared Golden fits the blue-collar identity of the district much better. And Golden has smartly avoided – or been allowed to avoid – casting votes in favor of unpopular Democratic policies. Also, I don’t know if you heard, but he has tattoos. Two years from now, Maine Republicans ought to find a non-political candidate with private sector experience within in the district. A blue-collar conservative with solid roots in a northern Maine community would present a formidable challenge to a back-bench Michaud clone whose only accomplishment is sprinting away for his own president’s policies.

In the First Congressional District, there’s really nothing to say. Ed Thelander made a solid effort against a crusty multi-millionaire incumbent with deep ties to progressive donor network. Compounding Thelander’s disadvantages is a Portland-based media that is so hopelessly incapable of disinterested neutrality that no reporter ever mentioned Pingree still happens to be receiving up to a million dollars a year from Paloma Partners, her billionaire ex-husband S. Donald Sussman’s hedge fund. You think a Republican with that on his financial disclosure would have skated? Only if, as I suspect, there aren’t any reporters in Maine capable of finding financial disclosures.

The first district is no place for a conservative. Indeed, Thelander would probably have fared better in greater Portland if he were a former performer at those “family friendly” drag shows rather than a former Navy Seal. A serious country would have welcomed a man of his stature and seriousness, but alas we are not living in one. Next time around, perhaps Mrs. Thelander should take a run and see whether a charismatic conservative Venezuelan immigrant can strike a chord in Northern Massachusetts.

WHERE TO NOW?

Any Republican – and especially a conservative Republican – enters Maine politics at a serious disadvantage because of a political philosophy that effectively prevents him from leveraging the Nanny State to buy off voters. Not so for Mills and Democratic lawmakers. Mills sprinkled taxpayer money on every favored constituency like she was Whitey Bulger buying groceries for housewives in South Boston. She paid off electricity bills for small businesses and non-profits. She doled out 850 bucks to every Mainer. She funneled cash by the truckload into the sprawling web of non-profits that mostly exists to keep term-limited Democrats employed. She gave some cash to the Lobsterman’s Association, to childcare providers, to college kids, to the poor and the not poor. Everyone got money from Janet Mills this year. Of course, it wasn’t her money, not even money she’d accumulated by careful stewardship of the state. It was all debt-financed imaginary money handed out by a delusional federal government. The bill for all of that will come due – and soon. But none of that matters when you’re trying to win an election.

The point is, all of that vote buying didn’t happen overnight. It was planned months, even years ago, built into the legislative plans of Augusta Democrats and coordinated to arrive right around Election Day. An example: The Democrats planned all along to send out those inflation payments with a campaign-style letter from Mills. Republicans feared this might happen, but rather than make a fuss and demand faster electronic payments, they accepted a pinky promise from some hack commissioner in the Mills Administration that they wouldn’t do exactly what they did. Republicans got snowed, plain and simple. And that wasn’t the only example of Republican lawmakers obliviously allowing Democrats to build policy easter eggs that materialized come election season.

You can call the Democrats whatever you want, but you can’t call them stupid – at least not when it comes to using other peoples’ money to entrench their political power. Thanks to Republican weakness in the State Legislature, conservatives can do next to nothing to stop Democrats from creating the next round of constituency payoffs. The only thing they can do is adopt an aggressive public relations strategy aimed at explaining in simple terms to the Maine people precisely what is happening, as it’s happening. Every Republican lawmaker must now become an investigative reporter and a social media expert. All twelve or thirteen of them should adopt AOC-style approaches to naming and shaming their colleagues when they push progressive proposals will make us poorer and less free. It’s asking for a lot of aggression and ingenuity from a typically frightened bunch, I know. But Maine Republicans will not win a vote in the next two years. All they can hope to do is win in the court of public opinion.

Another structural disadvantage Maine Republicans have is turnout operation. It’s too early to say exactly what went wrong in a practical sense, but LePage seriously underperformed his 2014 re-election bid. In deeply conservative areas of the State, areas LePage won with 10 percent or more of the vote in 2014, he only won yesterday by 8 percent. Mills, in contrast, grew her strongholds. In towns she won by 10 percent or more in 2018, she won by more than 30 points! And while Mills more than doubled LePage’s vote count in the top largest 15 towns by population, LePage barely squeaked out an advantage in Maine’s smallest rural towns.

The Maine Democrats were very effective at securing turn out in their few rural strongholds, but devastatingly so in the major cities. Part of that is the student vote. At Bowdoin College, and I’m sure at the other less prestigious colleges in Maine, college busses ran all day long dragging radicalized young liberals from out of state to the polls. Maine Republicans can do little to compete with the college student vote. And turning out geographically distributed rural voters is much harder than organizing in cities. But something must be done. A good start would be nuking the unwise Republican resistance to early voting and mail-in voting.

Republicans have always favored day-of voting, but President Donald Trump’s attack on mail-in voting in 2020 really solidified an unhelpful decision to eschew early voting. If a Republican donor wanted to make a substantial difference in future state elections, he should consider making a large donation only on the condition that it be used to construct an elite early voting and mail-in voting apparatus.

Voting in modern elections now takes place over several weeks. Conservatives may not like it, it may open the door for fraud and bureaucratic shenanigans, but it’s a reality. These are the rules and this is the playing field. If Republicans want to win, they must show up early, not just on game day.

HAPPY NOTES

Ethan Strimling’s band of socialists lost in Portland. Quite convincingly, too. The socialist ballot initiatives to hike the minimum wage to $18 per hour and effectively ban most low-margin businesses from the city failed. Two proposals to reduce short-term rentals and impose harsh regulations on them failed. The one socialist victory came on “tenant protections” a.k.a. rent controls. In the name of making Portland a more livable city, the socialists have effectively guaranteed that landlords will refrain from making investments in upkeep, thereby transforming middle- and lower-income neighborhoods into shabby slums. The results aren’t great for Portland, but conservatives can take solace in knowing that at least one right-of-center campaign – “Enough is Enough” – managed to put up competent resistance to harmful policies. The socialists will return next year – what else do they have to do? But the lesson Portland’s “Enough is Enough” campaign teaches is that businesses can crush these asinine ideas if they bind together, make investments in effective campaigns, and refuse to compromise with ideological children.

[RELATED: Did Maine Gov. Janet Mills Fake a Phone Call from Angus King on Election Night?…]

Got any news tips? Email me.

Patten: Maine GOP Needs New Leadership After Rout

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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. More generally, it’s a cultural difference between Democrats, who at least play big team kumbaya, and Republicans, who tend to look at campaigns as knife fights.

In the wipeout we experienced last night, the absence of a strong party support structure was glaringly obvious.

Many legislative candidates hitched their campaign bandwagons to that of former Gov. Paul LePage who, understanding the importance of a united front, campaigned with local candidates throughout Maine. Were he polling 10-15 points higher, that strategy of a rising tide lifting all ships might have worked.

But of course it he wasn’t, and it didn’t. Voters in Maine needed to see more of the Republican Party than just LePage – especially in a year when abortion was on the ballot. Hybrid executive/legislative campaigns need to send a message about what the team will look like, and how a different administration might govern. Janet Mills’ attacks on the “chaos” of past LePage administrations seemed to stick.

What the hybrid strategy did instead was to overshadow new faces. Republicans had some really good candidates down ballot, but they never got much bandwidth. The ones that got more, like Aroostook’s Sue Bernard, probably didn’t get enough.

One example of institutional weakness I saw on the state senate campaign committee is that despite repeated requests (as a rare, friendly journalist), I couldn’t get a list from the Maine Senate Republicans of the top five biggest fails of the Senate Democrats. In an ordinary world, such a basic document would have existed on day one, but evidently they were busy with something else.

We desperately need our own polling. Any polling we do see tends to be done by Democrats, which allows them wide latitude in setting the benchmarks.

Perhaps with useful intelligence, we might have known not to waste as much oxygen on cultural issues, like litter-boxes in classrooms or gender-bending books in school libraries, and focused more sharply on economic pain. After all, Mills sent us checks while Republicans failed to offer an anti-crisis plan (other than ‘elect us’).

Maine Democrats can count on the support of a wide array of non-profits and issue advocacy groups. As Republicans, we seem to have fewer. That is something to think about, especially given the role such groups play in turning voters out either before or on the Election Day.

Finally, media bandwidth is a third and vital shortcoming conservatives need to think seriously about going forward. Other than this outlet, which was kind enough to pick my column up after I got cancelled by several ‘mainstream’ papers for being too partisan, there is almost no written media outlet in Maine where you can read a right of center view. There are a few conservative radio stations, and WMTW-8 tries to be fairer than the others, but the bottom line is when it comes to media, we are badly outgunned.

It is unlikely Republicans in Maine will build a machine that matches the one Democrats have before the next election. But there is no harm in working to build better capacity. As of today, LePage is no longer the Maine GOP’s de facto leader. In choosing his replacement, it would be wise to look for one who is seriously committed to drafting a realistic blueprint for regaining power.

That effort begins today by gearing up for future elections

Republicans Trounced as Maine Democrats Control Augusta for Two More Years

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The Maine Republican Party lost early, often, and everywhere Tuesday despite predictions of nationwide backlash against an unpopular president and the Democrat Party.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage fell to incumbent Democrat Janet Mills, 42.9 to 55. Former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost outright to incumbent Democrat Jared Golden (ME-CD2), 48.7 to 44.5, and Republican long shot Ed Thelander lost to Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-CD1), 62.6 to 37.4.

Republicans in Augusta suffered similar defeats, flipping a few seats but failing to retake either House. When the dust settles, Maine Democrats may even gain a seat in the Senate.

The implications of the election for Maine Republicans are stark. While results are still trickling in, the outcomes in most state legislative race — save for a few bright spots in Aroostook County — are nothing short of humiliating for Republicans, who had already begun quietly jockeying for leadership spots. Instead of leading a House Majority, Republicans are now reduced to passive observers in Augusta, where Mills and soon-to-be-decided Democratic leadership will be embolden to pursue an aggressive progressive agenda.

Maine Socialists Win Rent Control in Portland, Lose Minimum Wage Hike and Airbnb Regs

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The Maine Democratic Socialists of America viewed Portland as a proving ground for progressive city reforms, but even the overwhelmingly Democrat city rejected most of the socialist proposals.

City voters rejected an $18 per hour minimum wage increase that also eliminated the tip credit for restaurant workers. And the city blocked new limits on short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO.

The one socialist victory came by way of rent control. Billed as “tenant protection,” the initiative will impose strict rent controls pegged to the Consumer Price Index.

Annual rental increases will now be limited to 70 percent of CPI rather than the already severe limit of 100 percent. The initiative will also limit fees and security deposits, increase lease termination notice periods, and place a $25,000 fee on condo conversions.

Critics of rent control argue that rents need to rise in accordance with population and economic growth, and that landlords have little reason to invest in the upkeep rental units if they cannot adequately monetize them.

George Soros-backed DA Takes Office in Cumberland County

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An environmental activist and attorney who won the Democratic Party primary with the help of more than $300,000 from far-left mega donor George Soros is now the District Attorney in Cumberland County after winning her uncontested general election.

Jacqueline Sartoris, whose platform included not charging or dismissing many criminal cases against individuals under the age of 25, will now be the top prosecutor for Maine’s largest city, Portland.

Sartoris is just one of many progressive attorneys Soros and ideologically aligned groups have supported in a bid to transform criminal prosecutions at the state and local level.

Rachael Rollins, the current U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, previously served as the D.A. for Suffolk County, which contains Boston. During her tenure, she advocated for the non-prosecution of a host of non-violent crimes.

Sartoris’ campaign websites indicates that her preference is for fewer prosecutions and more alternative responses to crime.

She enter office as Portland experiences an uptick in crime.

Maine Wire Election Center: Mills Wins, Poliquin Headed to Runoff

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UPDATE 10:26 pm: A disappointing night for Republicans across the state of Maine. State Senate and House races will be some of the last ones called this evening, and those races will determine the next two years of Maine politics. Mills enters a second term with a commanding victory of LePage, but if Republicans came manage to win a majority in the House, Mills could face for the first time a legislature that isn’t eager to do her bidding. A Republican House could also upend the elections for constitutional officers.

UPDATE 10:20 pm: Gov. Janet Mills will win a second term in office. Poliquin does not appear to have the votes needed to push him over the threshold of 50 percent to avoid a RCV runoff.

UPDATE 10:11 pm: Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin is struggling to get over the 50 percent mark he will need to win the election under Maine’s Ranked Choice voting rules. He’s beating Jared Golden outright, but with Tiffany Bond siphoning off 6-7 percent of the vote, it still looks like a runoff election is likely. If that’s the case, Democrats investment in securing RCV via ballot initiative will once again pay off.

UPDATE 9:47 pm: It’s looking like the red wave sweeping Republicans into office across the country has failed to materialize here in Maine. LePage is significantly underperforming in traditional Republican strongholds, while Mills is overperforming in liberal bastions. On the state legislative side, it looks like Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) will hold on to the Senate District 1 seat after the most expensive state senate race in Maine history. Eyes turn now to the State House to see whether Republicans can win a majority against this backdrop.

UPDATE 9:25 pm: The gubernatorial race is going to be tight. LePage’s turnout so far is tracking below his 2014 levels but slightly ahead of Shawn Moody’s turnout in 2018. Gov. Mills is showing strong turnout in rural towns that nonetheless typically vote Democrat. In CD2, independent candidate Tiffany Bond’s share of the vote looks likely to force Bruce Poliquin and Jared Golden into a Ranked Choice runoff.

AZ Voting Meltdown as Lake, Masters Look to Upset Dems

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UPDATE: Republicans Blake Masters and Kari Lake have filed suit against Maricopa County to keep the polls open following ballot machine errors this morning which slowed voting.

An Election Day disaster is unfolding for election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, where voters are casting ballots in a widely watched gubernatorial race and a pivotal Senate race that may decided the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona, began seeing issues early this morning as ballot tabulating machines started malfunctioning. Voters reported an inability to cast their ballots and confusion on the part of officials. Social media quickly filled up with a confusing torrent of information about whether voters needed to submit another ballot.

Arizona features two of the most hotly contested races in the country right now. Republican Blake Masters vs incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly in the Senate race and conservative phenom Kari Lake vs Secretary of Democrat State Katie Hobbs in the gubernatorial race.

Regardless of what’s actually going on, the end result will be multiple law suits challenging the outcome of the count — no matter which party prevails in the closely watched Senate elections. Complicating the matter is Hobbs’ role as Arizona’s Secretary of State. That office oversees elections in the state, and Hobbs has refused to recuse herself from oversight of her own election bid. Her role in the preparation leading up to the election day disaster is likely to become a major talking point for conservatives nationwide.

Maine State, Local Tax Collections Headed for Record Haul in 2022

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Total taxes collected from state and local government in 2022 in Maine are headed for the highest level ever recorded.

The state of Maine and its various municipalities collected nearly $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2022, according to data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve. That’s the most revenue collected by governments in the state in history. The next closest quarter was the fourth quarter of 2021, in which governments collected more than $1.8 billion.

“Red Mirage” Talking Point Predicts Dems Pulling Out Late Night, Early Morning Wins

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The national Democratic Party is staring down a wave election that could see its majorities in the House and Senate swept away. An unpopular president, beset by economic malaise and high inflation, is unlikely to run for re-election. The all-powerful House Speaker is signaling readiness for retirement. The vaunted rise of the post-Dobbs abortion voter may not materialize. In former Democratic strongholds, like New York, Republicans are on the offensive.

So what’s the communications strategy on the eve of Election Day? Enter: The Red Mirage.

The late radio host Rush Limbuagh used to be an expert at noticing when talking heads and partisan media pros just happened to sing from the same hymnal. But social media makes it much, much easier to observe the formation of narratives as they happen. The day before Election Day, the clear narrative from left-wing accounts, media outlets, and partisan leftists revolved around the “red mirage.”

Here’s the gist of the red mirage theory: You may think things look bad for progressives this election season, and as the early ballots come in, your suspicions will be confirmed as GOP candidates appear to take the lead in several close races. However, experts say this is only a false lead — a mirage — because everyone knows that Democratic ballots are counted last. So prepare yourself to head to bed tonight thinking Republicans have won but trust that when you wake up in the morning, the final count will show that they did not.

Behold, the formation of a new narrative:

The peculiar thing about the “red mirage” talking point is that it’s not aimed at turning out voters, advancing some policy, or winning an election. It’s aimed purely at priming the audience to be unsurprised when Democrats in key races, like the Pennsylvania Senate race, pull out extraordinary come-from-behind victories at 3AM tomorrow morning. But don’t worry, I’m sure everything is on the level.

Here We Go Again: Fetterman campaign suing to have undated and misdated ballots counted in PA

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One of the most watched U.S. Senate contests is playing out in Pennsylvania, where Democratic candidate and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman faces Republican celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.

On the eve of Election Day, Fetterman’s campaign joined a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Secretary of State arguing that mail-in ballots with no date or incorrect dates should be counted just like any other ballot.

The campaign is asking a federal judge to quickly rule that election officials count tens of thousands of so-called spoiled ballots. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week such ballots should not be counted and should instead be set aside for future consideration. Under the Commonwealth’s voting laws, voters are required to handwrite the date on the envelope before returning mail-in ballots. If voters believe they submitted an undated or incorrectly dated ballot, there is a defined process under Pennsylvania law for requesting a new ballot.

Fetterman has led race for most of the year, despite suffering a stroke in May, but the first and only debate between the candidates totally upended the race. During that debate, voters saw for the first time that the Fetterman campaign had been concealing the true extent of the injury caused by Fetterman’s stroke. After the debate, Fetterman’s poll numbers began to slide.

The Fetterman campaign is filing the suit because mail-in ballots tend to be cast disproportionately in favor of Democratic candidates like Fetterman.

In other words, a Democratic senate candidate is calling on a judge to bend the rules in the 11th hour to help him win a race that could determine whether Republicans take control of the Senate.

Also today, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attempted to set expectations for when Americans might expect to learn about election results, telling the White House press corps that it might not be election night.

“We may not know all the winners of elections for a few days,” she said. “It takes time to count all legitimate ballots in a legal and orderly manner.”

Read the full story from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

Mills Eases Air Quality Rules for Kerosene, Hedges on Heating Oil

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills, in response to increasing home heating prices and dropping temperatures, has eased air pollution rules concerning the importation of non-low sulfur kerosene.

However, Mills is hedging her bets on whether she’ll also bend the rules for the import of non-low sulfur No. 2 heating oil.

According to an Oct. 31 guidance memo issued to Maine kerosene importers and distributors, the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection has re-interpreted laws regulating air pollution to allow for kerosene with a higher sulfur content than previously allowed to be imported into the state.

Jeffrey S. Crawford, director of the Bureau of Air Quality, discovered the loop hole in the regulations eight days before Election Day. Here’s the memo:

The policy guidance doesn’t say how large of an impact the move will have on anthropogenic global warming, air quality, or child asthma, the commonly cited reasons for limiting the fuel’s sulfur content.

In colder months, kerosene is a popular home heating fuel for people with outdoor tanks because it doesn’t gel when temperatures go sub-zero. But many Mainers also heat their homes with No. 2 heating oil, which is chemically identical to diesel and is regulated under the same 2018 law regarding sulfur content.

[RELATED: As Heating Oil Costs Keep Rising, Oil Dealers Seek Waiver from Mills…]

Advocates for oil distributors have called on Mills to issue a simple waiver that would allow for the import of non-low sulfur No. 2 heating oil from Canada, a move which could shore up supply in northern Maine and ease prices.

But Mills told the Portland newspaper Monday that she had submitted a request to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the waiver. It’s unclear why Mills sought federal approval for the fuel oil waiver but discovered a previously unknown loophole in the law for kerosene.

A decision on the waiver, which would be hugely unpopular among Mills’ environmentalist supporters, will now be delayed until after Tuesday’s election, at which point the political calculations behind Mills’ energy policy will change should she be re-elected.

The average price per gallon of home heating oil is currently $5.57, while the average statewide price for a gallon of kerosene is $6.66.

NY Times Smears DeSantis with Two-Decade Old High School Gossip

The New York Times, just a few days before Florida’s gubernatorial election, dug deep into incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ background for some titillating hearsay from people who knew him when he was a schoolteacher at a private school.

“At a private school 20 years ago, the future Florida governor was a popular history teacher and coach,” reads the report. “But some students were taken aback by his comments on the Civil War and abortion.”

Yikes! You hear that? Some students were… taken aback.

In more than 1,500 words, NYT crack scribes Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei plow deep into the unsettling and hitherto unknown history of the popular Florida Republican’s tenure at Darlington School.

Some key quotes from the story:

  • “As a teacher, he was remembered by some former students as cocky and arrogant.”
  • “He once publicly embarrassed a student with a prank, hung out at parties with seniors and got into debates about the Civil War…”

But here’s a real explosive scoop: DeSantis, the story reveals, was a racist:

“Mr. Ron, Mr. DeSantis, was mean to me and hostile toward me,” said Ms. Pompey, who graduated in 2003. “Not aggressively, but passively, because I was Black.”

That’s it. That’s the story. “Area women says 20 years ago with no evidence that DeSantis was passively hostile toward her because she’s black and she’s waited until a few days before his re-election to talk about it.”

Pompey elaborates that part of the hostile passive racism she experienced involved DeSantis “playing Devil’s Advocate” during class room debates over the Civil War.

“He was trying to say, ‘It’s not OK to own people, but they had property, businesses,'” Pompey told NYT.

And, of course, the story has to slip in a mention of abortion. According to this in-depth reporting, some students didn’t like DeSantis’ view on abortion.

But I’ve saved the best for last:

“Two other students remembered a prank involving Mr. DeSantis and a student who had bragged about how much milk he could drink.

“They said Mr. DeSantis challenged the boy to guzzle as much milk as he could in one sitting. The boy did, and threw up as dozens of students watched.”

With all due respect to the amazing journalists at the NYT, I would categorize this as a “double dog dare” rather than a prank.

Still, it’s shocking stuff. I’m not sure how DeSantis will recover from this one. It’s almost as terrifying as the Washington Post’s discovery that Mitt Romney once cut another student’s hair or the Boston Globe’s unsettling report that Jeb Bush smoked pot in high school and once sowed up a classmates pajamas.

Black, Latino Support for GOP Grows: WSJ

Support for Republican Party candidates among African-American and Latino voters is growing, according to a polling analysis released Monday by the Wall Street Journal.

“About 17% of Black voters said they would pick a Republican candidate for Congress over a Democrat in Journal polls both in late October and in August. That is a substantially larger share than the 8% of Black voters who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 and the 8% who backed GOP candidates in 2018 House races, as recorded by AP VoteCast, a large survey of voters who participated in those elections.

“Among Latino voters, Democrats held a lead of 5 percentage points over Republicans in the choice of a congressional candidate in the Journal’s October survey, a narrower advantage than the Democrats’ 11-point lead in August.

“Both findings suggest a deterioration in Democratic support as Latino voters show high degrees of concern about inflation and the direction of the economy. Latino voters in 2020 favored President Biden over Mr. Trump by 28 percentage points and Democratic candidates in 2018 House races by 31 points, VoteCast found.”

Full story here.

Dem Think Tank Says “Woke” Democratic Party “Out of Touch,” “Underwater,” and “Extreme”

A major national think tank that promotes left-wing policies is warning Democrats that the Democratic Party is out of touch with voters on key issues, unpopular, and far too extreme.

Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank created in 2015, published a clarion call Monday warning Democrat voters and party insiders that the groups research shows Democratic politicians are failing to tap into voter angst over the economy, inflation, and immigration. Further, the group suggests that the issues that have dominated Democratic party messaging heading into the 2022 election.

On issues like the economy, Third Way’s polling finds voters trust Republicans more than Democrats, with a majority of respondents worrying that continued Democratic control of Congress will only exacerbate inflation.

[RELATED: Out Maine, Controversial Group Pushing Gender Theory in Schools, Saw Taxpayer Funding Increase Under Mills…]

According to the poll, voters are more likely to believe that Republicans, rather than Democrats, value hard work and patriotism.

“Only 43% of voters say Democrats value hard work, compared to 58% for Republicans,” the report states. “Less than half (46%) describe Democrats as patriotic while 56% say the same about Republicans. A paltry 43% say Democrats share their values overall and a similar proportion (44%) think the party looks out for the middle class—a core element of a winning Democratic brand.”

More: “Compounding these problems, a majority of voters (55%) describe Democrats as preachy and 53% say the party is “too woke.” And while 54% call Republicans “too extreme,” a strikingly similar 55% of voters say the same about Democrats—with 59% saying the party has gotten more extreme in recent years. A super majority (61%) of voters say Democrats are too beholden to special interests.”

Read more here.

Decision Desk HQ: 63.8% Chance Poliquin Tops Golden

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Former Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin has a 63.8 percent chance to retake Maine’s 2nd congressional seat from incumbent Democrat Rep. Jared Golden, according to Decision Desk HQ’s forecasting model.

The number is lower than the 86 percent odds of victory the firm gave Poliquin back in July, but higher than the 56 percent odds they forecasted in mid-October, when Golden appeared to be gaining ground.

The Decision Desk forecasting model takes in to account more than 100 variables, including polling, the districts historical voting patterns, fundraising and more.

Other models that rely more on opinion pollsters, like Nate Silver’s 538 model, predict the race going exactly the opposite direction, with Golden winning 63 out of 100 simulated elections.

Silver’s model also has incumbent Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, winning 88 out of 100 simulated contests against former Republican Gov. Paul LePage. (Decision Desk doesn’t have public forecasting for Maine’s gubernatorial election available.)

On the national races, Decision Desk sees a 56 percent chance that Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate. The firm sees toss-up election in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada, but views only the Nevada race as leaning Democratic. The forecast gives Republicans a 78.6 percent chance of taking over the U.S. House of Representatives.

NY Post: Hayward sees anti-woke “desperate housewives” turning out for LePage

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NY Post columnist Stephen Hayward’s Sunday column suggests disaffected suburban women may form a big part of the Red Wave many are expecting to wash a significant number of Republicans into office on Tuesday.

Hayward notes recent Wall Street Journal nationwide polling, which suggests suburban women have swung 27 points toward the GOP since August. While the WSJ attributes the shift to the pain from inflation and fear over crime, Hayward theorizes that mothers more likely are reacting to government lockdowns, failures of the public education system, as well as the influx of radical content into schools regarding race and transgenderism.

[RELATED: Out Maine, Controversial Group Pushing Gender Theory in Schools, Saw Taxpayer Funding Increase Under Mills…]

“In other words,” writes Hayward, “suburban women have awakened to wokeism.”

Regarding Maine and LePage, Hayward writes:

“In Maine, former GOP Gov. LePage is challenging incumbent Democrat Gov. Janet Mills over this matter, calling out state government for tolerating ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘This Book Is Gay’ and other sexually explicit volumes in public-school libraries. Gov. Mills, like Gov. Whitmer in Michigan, is attempting to dodge the issue by saying curriculum decisions and library-book selection should be left at the local level, but Maine’s state education website recommends that schools adopt ‘Gender Queer.'”

Read Hayward’s full column here.

Out Maine, Controversial Group Pushing Gender Theory in Schools, Saw Taxpayer Funding Increase Under Mills

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Taxpayer funding for Out Maine, a far left nonprofit group, increased significantly during Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ first term as governor, tax documents show. 

Out Maine, a Rockland-based organization, reported receiving more than $215,000 in taxpayer money in 2020, according to the organization’s most recent Form 990. The group also reported income worth more than $37,000 on “training and youth registration fees” as well as $485,000 in private contributions.

Taxpayer dollars flowing to Out Maine have increased every year since 2016, the first year it reported receiving government funding. In 2019, the group got $112,690 in government grants. In 2018, that number was $62,726. All told, the group has received government grants worth nearly $400,000 under the Mills administration.

The group has advocated in defense of keeping Gender Queer, a comic book that depicts minors having oral and anal sex, in Maine’s schools. Photographs obtained by The Maine Wire show the group has also partnered with Mills’ Dept. of Education to put fliers in at least one Maine school conveying radical left-wing theories about gender and human sexuality, including to children as young as kindergarten.

One set of fliers, posted in the Vinalhaven K-12 school, solicits children as young as 9 for a gay, lesbian, and transgender themed Zoom after school “hang out” that takes place on Wednesdays. Anyone with access to a computer can sign up for the event, with no parental consent required, though it’s unclear if the program is still happening. 

Another poster, also available to elementary school children, describes the various sexual attractions and genders students’ might choose from, including pansexual, asexual, transgender and cisgender. 

The push by Mills Dept. of Education and partners like Out Maine to place sexualized content in front of young children has become a flashpoint in gubernatorial and state legislative elections. 

[REALTED: Maine Parents React to Pornographic School Books in New Ad…]

Conservative PACs and organizations have spent heavily drawing attention to the radical content in schools and the Mills administrations’ apparent support for the sexually themed books and fliers.

Locally, conservative outcry has led to several contentious school board meetings, with parents and taxpayers protesting against sexually explicit content being offered to their kids without their knowledge or consent.

[RELATED: Oxford Hills School Board Votes to Require Staff Keep Student “Gender Identity” Changes Secret from Parents…]

Although some towns have succeeded in having sexually explicit materials removed from classrooms and libraries, most school boards have sided with activists and groups like Out Maine.

Bolduc Closing in on Hassan in Final Days

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 is getting close in New Hampshire. All polls agree that (ret) Gen. Don Bolduc has gained ground in his Republican challenge to Democrat Maggie Hassan, a one-term incumbent. Six years ago, Hassan won the seat she currently holds by a small fraction of a percent when she ousted moderate Republican Kelly Ayotte.

Now New Hampshire is “firmly in play,” POLITICO reported on Friday. Recent polls bear this out. Also on Friday, Emerson pegged Hassan at 50, Bolduc at 46 and four percent undecided. St. Anselm’s and Trafalgar both give Bolduc a one-point lead, and a recent poll conducted with FiveThirtyEight shows independents breaking for Bolduc.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee had given up on Bolduc in mid-October, and pulled money from his race to spend on what it then deemed more competitive ones. But then something happened, and Bolduc started gathering steam. When the NRSC jumped ship, he was more than ten points down.

Last week, the national Democrats upped their final spend for New Hampshire by $600,000 in funds they’d slated for other races. What happened? Did the earth start moving in the Granite State?

Technically, yes. As I traveled the lakes district on Sunday, there was a 2.9 quake, which is almost imperceptible unless you read it happened. In parallel, something has been shaking in peoples’ attitudes.

“It’s like everything’s upside down today,” exclaimed Bertrand, a retired retailer in Gorham. “When I was 17, I was busting my ass for any work I could get, but now you can’t find any young people willing to work.” Bertand liked Ayotte, and regrets that she lost. He hasn’t heard much from Bolduc, but he likes the sound of him.

North Conway hospitality executive Tom is less excited about Bolduc.

“He’s a damn election denier,” Tom told me, adding, “we have two perfectly good senators, I see no reason to change that.” At the same time, Tom gloomily predicts that Bolduc will probably win.”

In their messaging, national Democrats have been painting Bolduc as a far-right, conspiracy nut. Actual New Hampshire citizens can see through that, and when they focus on Bolduc see a highly-decorated Army general who served shoulder to shoulder with his men in some of the world’s toughest corners.

Some see in Bolduc a tribune for their anger about rising prices, surging crime and diminished global strength. His air is that of the reluctant warrior, not the raving wing-nut. He’s new to politics and that might explain some past statements he’d probably prefer not to have said in retrospect. That citizen-servant profile could play very well in a year voters detest Washington even more than usual.

Former South Carolina Governor and Trump ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is in Nashua tonight stumping a second time for Bolduc, and Tulsi Gabbard – who recently renounced her membership in the Democrat party – has also been joining him in New Hampshire, where she enjoys some popularity.

The first irony in the race which, by some counts Bolduc now leads, is that in branding him “ultra right,” Dems also actually supported his candidacy in the run up to the GOP primary. The second irony in this race – as in others this cycle – is that high turnout is desirable. The cliché with Republicans is the lower the turnout, the better they perform.

Now, in this one-time Republican stronghold, it’s going to take a red wave to push Bolduc over the top. If indeed that’s how the numbers are going to work this time, maybe this weekend’s warm weather no prognosis of rain is a good omen for the former general. He’s certainly no stranger to uphill fights.

Patten: Democracy Is On The Ballot. Again.

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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 8th, Vote for Democracy. The word “democracy” is in larger type-font than everything else. On the same sign are also the numbers from 1-8.

The numbers refer to referendum questions on Portland’s ballot. They all apply to structural changes in how the city is run, whether the mayor or city manager should have more power, whether the city council should have a say on the school board’s affairs, and that sort of thing. But are they essential to “democracy”? Obviously Portland will not become North Korea if the amendments are shot down.

Yet the Charter Commission is just repeating the instructions from on high: the only way to stave off an even more humiliating defeat than the one polls suggest might be in the offing for Democrats is to invoke extreme polarization.

Speaking at the National Education Association’s annual conference in late September, President Biden announced that this year “democracy itself is on the ballot.” Coming from the leader of the free world, that is a pretty serious statement. The implication of course is that there is a right and a wrong choice when it comes to preserving our liberty.

When it comes to parsing the script, there is no better authority than the congressman from Hollywood, Adam Schiff. His concern for defending our democracy is always exemplary, and he’s even gone so far as to say: “Republicans across the nation are involved in an all-out assault on democracy.” If Republicans are the praetorian guards of autocrats, then Democrats must be the champions of democracy – after all, the very word is in their name!

In the days following, I received emails with nearly identical messages from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Martin Sheen, who once played an American president on television.

The problem with all this dire rhetoric is that democracy is not a brand, nor a label you wear. It is something you do – or don’t.

Once upon a time, I worked for an organization that published annual reports on Freedom in the World and literally graded countries on their democratic performance. We used metrics, like freedom of the press, equal access to justice, competitive elections, and the freedom of the state of partisan capture. In democracy development work there has always been a red-line: you try to get as many people to vote as possible – without telling them how to vote.

Pretending Republicans are poised to snuff out the flickering light of democracy is disingenuous. It diminishes the sacrifices of Ukrainians who are literally putting their lives on the line for their freedom. And ironically, the same administration that has been quick to call “ultra MAGA extremists” the enemy has been slow to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its vicious suppression of popular protests in that country today. Accordingly, the media has given these courageous protestors too little coverage.

Maybe this is why I find the kind of exhortations we’re hearing now from the Portland Charter Commission, President Biden, Adam Schiff, Ken Burns, Martin Sheen and others to be off-key. In the past, Americans have always considered the protection of democracy our common purpose. In World War II we were, as Franklin Roosevelt declared, the “arsenal of democracy,” and in the Cold War and struggle against violent extremism, we promoted democracy as an alternative to totalitarians and fanatics.

But what about election deniers and “insurrectionists,” you might ask. If our democracy allows the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other malcontents to march in public streets, and pornographers like Larry Flynt to without factual basis parody televangelists like Jerry Falwell as a drunk lusting after his own mother, people are free to hold whatever opinion they choose. The January 6th commission was supposed to have wrapped up its work and delivered a report in June, yet somehow their hearings have continued right up until the eve of this election.

Now, according to President Biden, there is a direct line between the riot on January 6th and the deranged Canadian illegal immigrant lunatic who has been charged with attempting to kill Paul Pelosi, husband of the Speaker of the House, last week.

That sounds a lot more like politics as usual than defending democracy. But then again, maybe Biden is right. Democracy is on the ballot on November 8th, just like it is every time people vote. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the January 6th committee, voters may go the polls with no shortage of information on that topic. What we intend to do with it is entirely up to us.

Seems very democratic to me.

Mt. Ararat Makes Parental Signature “Optional” for Name, Gender Changes

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Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham has cut parents out of the equation when it comes to students opting to change their names or their gender, according to a document provided by a concerned parent.

The “Name Change Form” offers high school students the opportunity to change their name and gender as they will appear on school records without filing the paperwork for a legal change.

Next to the line for the parents to sign off on the change, the school helpfully instructs children that parental permission is not required.

Similar policies have cropped up at schools throughout Maine.

[RELATED: Oxford Hills School Board Votes to Require Staff Keep Student “Gender Identity” Changes Secret from Parents…]

The Oxford Hills school system recently voted in favor of preliminary approval for a new gender identity policy that would explicitly instruct school staff to keep student gender identity changes a secret from parents.

The proposed rules will also require school officials to coach students on how to keep details of gender identity changes secret from parents by avoiding official paperwork that would trigger record changes, thereby opening up the information for parental inspection as allowed under federal law.

Mt. Ararat’s school handbook does not appear to have a similar policy.

EBT Cards for Kids? It’s Happening in Maine

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Maine school kids have been receiving their very own Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards as the result of Pandemic Era programs under the U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at ameliorating child hunger.

Although the final benefits for 2022 were supposed to have been issued in September, at least one parent says their 9 and 12 years olds came home with fresh EBT cards this week.

According to the State website, Maine has been authorized to issue the P-EBT cards to children under the age of 6.

Eligibility for the EBT cards is determined by enrollment in the Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamps) or a school’s free and reduced price lunch program.

In the summer of 2022, the benefit totaled $391 for school age children and $390 for children under the age of 6. In instances where a family does not receive food stamps but is eligible for P-EBT, they received on P-EBT card for each child.

Home schooled children did not qualify for P-EBT.

Most recently, total benefits loaded to the card were calculated based on how many school days a child missed due to COVID-19.

Gov Doubles Down on Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills doubled down Thursday on her mandate that healthcare workers in Maine get the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of working the state.

In August of 2021, the Mills Administration declared that all healthcare workers would have to get the experimental mRNA injections or else be fired from their jobs by Oct. 1, 2021. Unlike mandates in other states and municipalities, Mills rejected exemptions for religious reasons.

[RELATED: Fight Over Mills’ Vax Mandate for Health Care Workers Lingers…]

At the time, there was little evidence that the vaccine limited transmission of the virus, yet stopping the spread of the virus was and remains the Mills Administration’s reason for imposing the requirement on Maine’s health care workers.

A judge in New York recently struck down a New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate, specifically noting that the vaccine mandate made little sense considering the available drugs do not inhibit transmission of the virus.

Liberty Counsel, a non-profit legal firm that litigates in defense of religious freedom, has represented Maine health care workers suing to get the mandate overturned. That litigation is ongoing.

Liberty Counsel estimates nearly 2,000 Maine healthcare workers were fired or voluntarily left healthcare work as a result of the mandate.

Moderator Fail: 4.5 Mins on “Gender Pay Gap” Misses Mills’ Female Staff Making Less Than Men

Moderators in Thursday’s gubernatorial debate for some reason spent 4.5 minutes on the subject of the “gender pay gap” but failed to mention that Democratic Gov. Janet Mills pays her female staffers less than her male staffers.

The Maine Wire’s analysis of state payroll data revealed a glaring gap between the pay men and women working for Mills receive.

“We’re doing a lot to try and equalize the pay,” Mills said.

As Governor, she has control over the salaries paid to employees working in her office.

Although progressives use the gender pay gap as a rhetorical device to attack corporations and Republicans over perceived systemic misogyny, and a lack of regulation, the gap in Maine is better understood as the result of different choices the sexes tend to make in their careers.

For example, Maine’s health care workers and teachers tend overwhelmingly to be women, while men tend to gravitate toward construction and manufacturing.

According to data from the Maine Dept. of Labor, 38.9 percent of Maine women in the work force are in education and health care, while on 12.8 percent of men work in those fields. Comparatively, 12.8 percent of employed Maine men work in construction, while only 1 percent of employed Maine women work in that field. That difference in the nature of the work men and women choose comes with a difference in levels of pay.

Men also tend to work longer hours than women, according to the state data.

In 2021, employed Maine men worked an average of 40.2 hours per week and employed Maine women worked 34.8 hours per week, according to the data.

Although the “gender pay gap” is little more than a rhetorical left-wing rhetorical device, if you’re going to bring it up in a debate and waste 4.5 minutes on it, viewers might find it relevant that at least one of the candidates on the stage is contributing to the pay gap.

Mills: Maine “Needs” Refugees to Fill Jobs

Gov. Janet Mills said in a debate Thursday Maine needs more asylum seekers and refugees in order to provide businesses with labor.

“Do I encourage them to come? Interesting question. I haven’t done anything to encourage or discourage them. But we have tried to make Maine a welcoming place,” said Mills.

“Because, look, I go around the state of Maine and business tell me what they need is more workers. These people have work credentials, they have experience, we need them to be here to work,” she said.

Under federal law, only those granted asylum status and permanent residency in the U.S. may legally work. Those who have applied for asylum status or who have had their requests for asylum rejected may not work legally in the U.S.

[RELATED: State Commission Wants New $182M Per Year Welfare Program for Renters, Including Asylum Seekers…]

Most asylum claims are rejected, meaning an individual present in the U.S. cannot work legally, according to Dept. of Justice data. In recent years, only 14 out of 100 asylum requests were deemed legitimate.

Mills said she wanted Congress to pass a new law allowing certain non-citizens to work legally in Maine, though it was unclear whether she was referring to the minority of asylum seekers that actually get permanent resident status or to asylum seekers generally.

Currently, there are more than 500 families living in hotels and motels under the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program. Many — if not most — are asylum seekers, refugees, or foreign nationals — the state isn’t keeping track and can’t say how many are citizens and how many aren’t.

The ERA program never made citizenship a requirement when it started paying out the rental benefits. Although some states administering their ERA programs did make citizenship a requirement for receiving the benefit, Maine did not.

Since 2021, the state has been using federal money to pay for this population to stay in hotels and motels, but the federal funding supporting this program will expire at the end of the month.

The state hasn’t said what the plan is to deal with the sudden crisis of homeless refugees that could result in December, other than suggesting some affordable housing might be available.

A housing Commission in Augusta has floated the idea of creating a permanent new welfare program that would spend more than $182 million per year on housing assistance to replace the expiring federal program.

[RELATED: Crisis Looms As Maine Emergency Rental Program Funding Ends in November…]

NPR Plays Audio of Woman Getting Abortion

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National Public Radio, the partially state funded media company located in Washington, D.C., on Thursday played audio of abortion clinic workers performing an abortion.

According to the NPR employee narrating the abortion, the woman was 11-weeks pregnant.

“It actually feels a lot like a childbirth,” the narrator says.

“Whether it’s a birth or an abortion, it’s often women guiding women,” she says, as the sound of a vacuum roars.

The audio is graphic and some listeners may find it disturbing.

Their View: Press Herald Says Voters Should Ignore Inflation

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The Portland Press Herald, Maine’s largest newspaper, filed an op-ed Sunday advocating the curious position that politicians have no control over monetary inflation, so voters shouldn’t concern themselves with complicated ideas like the destruction of the U.S. dollar’s value.

“When we act as if elected officials have responsibility for the host of economic variables that got us here,” the Herald’s editorial writers inveigh, assumably with their eyes closed, noses in the air, “we let the ungovernable distract us from the governable.”

Inflation, in the distinguished editorial board’s view, is something like an earthquake or a lightning strike, a natural phenomenon for which no blame may be assigned. Convenient, that. This idea of inflation as some mysterious, complex phenomenon that the common man cannot possibly understand is popping up more and more on the left. It’s a defense mechanism to avoid confronting the reality that we are now dealing with the consequences of intemperate money printing and backward energy policies.

Two decades of debt-financed spending sprees — Middle East wars, socialized health care, pandemic “relief,” and more — was bound to have a downside. But if you live in a fairy tale world where there is no ill consequence to conjuring money from thin air for whatever social justice project or war you’re supporting in the current moment, understanding inflation as a man-made disaster would be unsettling. Instead, the cheerleaders for more government, like the Herald’s editorialists, will simply scratch their heads in befuddlement, wondering about the “host of economic variables” that led to inflation and skyrocketing prices.

The longterm cause of the current inflation crisis can be viewed in one chart of the M2 money supply from the St. Louis Fed. Put simply, the U.S. dollar is worth less because a bipartisan group of government actors, including former Republican President Donald Trump, Democratic President Joe Biden, and hundreds of Members of Congress, thought it was a good idea to create trillions in new dollars from thin air using debt and accounting gimmicks. Voters who are concerned with inflation might choose to support candidates who don’t vote in favor of spending money that doesn’t exist, regardless of how popular doing so might be.

Gov. Janet Mills, who seems to be the motivation for the Herald’s views on inflation, can’t be held responsible for federal spending. Not entirely. One might argue that with a little foresight Mills might have used her position as a government official to warn against unbridled money printing. She might have refused the Federal dollars, as former Gov. Paul LePage has done in the past, or lobbied Maine’s congressional delegation to oppose the spending. She could even have urged fellow governors to take a hardline against the money printing. But that’s like asking a skunk to changes its stripes.

Mills was all too eager to accept debt-financed federal dollars during COVID-19, sprinkling piles of cash like fairy dust over her favored constituencies. As Election Day nears, every other email from the Governor’s Office touts another tranche of debt dollars shoveled into more voters’ pockets. (Notably, the op-ed about inflation fails to mention Mills signature anti-inflation policy — giving away $850 debt dollars to every Mainer, a move that will do little to rein in inflation.)

Beyond the loose monetary and fiscal policy that is eroding the value of the dollar, Mills and her Democrat colleagues surely deserve some blame for skyrocketing energy prices, regardless of the poppycock about “Putin’s Price Hike.” For nearly five decades, left-wing Democrats, including here in Maine, have advocated for energy policies that drive up costs and retard economic growth. Energy costs, driven higher by environmental policies, only compound the harm caused by a devalued U.S. dollar. To the extent a politician has supported policies that limit energy supplies and increase costs, it is entirely fair for a voter to blame them for tightening household budgets resulting from inflation.

I suppose there is an audience for the Herald’s peculiar form of wishcasting at meetings for the Democratic Socialists of America’s Portland chapter, but poll after poll suggests inflation will be top of mind next Tuesday, as it should be.