An ongoing discussion of politics, law, pop culture, and fine draperies.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Supremes sing of Global Warming

Well, not quite … but the High Court did hear oral arguments in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA today, creating the final showdown between the Bush Administration and the coalition of states and environmental groups over everybody's favorite gas – carbon dioxide.

Brief recap: Clean Air Act …. CO2 … Global Warming …. Kittens die …

At the outset, I'm pleased to report that the Court's
website has already posted a .pdf
transcript from Wednesday's oral argument. Before we get too far …

Displacer of cute native birds

This morning I received a short ride from the auto glass replacement store to my office from one of the employees – a 60s-ish local fellow who presented as a lifelong tradesman who likely never spent considerable time away from the Kennebec Valley region, except maybe to fight in a war.

After an innocent-enough comment about it being a "warm enough morning," we started to chat about the changing climate: how his dog and cat were brutalized by ticks last summer, how our area has become home for more and more cardinals and orioles than he recalled from his childhood, and how he thought he never had to worry about diseases carried by mosquitoes once malaria was officially contained.

"Any way you look at it, the climate's changing," he said to me. "I don't care what they say. Just look around."

There it is. The Democratization of Global Warming outrage … if only muffled at this point. What it means may not be clear right now, but expect that the ambiguity may begin to fade once the Democratic Congress gets crackin' and/or the Supreme Court weighs in ….

This was my driver ... like, for pretend.

A little self-refentiality here, as I've followed this sucker since before it was first brought to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Here is my
most recent post, when the Court agreed to hear the case.

Here's an overview of the criticism brought against the
US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit when it rule against the states' claims.

From – actually titled
"Family Enjoying Clean Air"

To the Links:

New York Times' Linda Greenhouse offered her read

On one level, the argument was about the meaning of the Clean Air Act, which the Environmental Protection Agency maintains does not treat carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases as air pollutants and thus does not give the agency the authority to regulate them.

On another level, the argument was about whether the dozen states, three cities and many environmental groups that went to federal court to challenge the agency’s position had legal standing to pursue their lawsuit.

And on still another level, the courtroom action was an episode in a policy debate that began well before this case arrived on the Supreme Court’s docket and that will continue, in the political sphere, no matter what the justices decide.

By the end of the argument, that continuing debate appeared the only certain outcome.
Greenhouse took up the banner of those singing the Court's mantra of the Moment: What Would Kennedy Do?
By the end of the argument there appeared a strong likelihood that the court would divide 5 to 4 on the standing question, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy holding the deciding vote. His relatively few comments were ambiguous. Early in the argument he challenged the assertion by Mr. Milkey, the states’ lawyer, that the case “turns on ordinary principles of statutory interpretation and administrative law” and that there was no need for the court “to pass judgment on the science of climate change.”

That was “reassuring,” Justice Kennedy said. But, he added, “Don’t we have to do that in order to decide the standing argument, because there’s no injury if there’s not global warming?”
No question.

The Times offered this
editorial, urging that:
A plain reading of the Clean Air Act shows that the states are right. The act says that the E.P.A. “shall” set standards for “any air pollutant” that in its judgment causes or contributes to air pollution that “may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” The word “welfare,” the law says, includes “climate” and “weather.” The E.P.A. makes an array of specious arguments about why the act does not mean what it expressly says. But it has no right to refuse to do what Congress said it “shall” do.

Beneath the statutory and standing questions, this is a case about how seriously the
government takes global warming. The E.P.A.’s decision was based in part on its
poorly reasoned conclusion that there was too much “scientific uncertainty” about global warming to worry about it. The government’s claim that the states lack standing also scoffs at global warming, by failing to acknowledge that the states have a strong interest in protecting their land and citizens against coastal flooding and the other kinds of damage that are being projected.

NPR's Nina Totenberg provided
this recap of today's oral argument, complete with Justice Scalia's sure-to-be remembered "supremely candid moment:
… Justice Scalia was questioning the Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General Milkey.

Scalia pointed to the government's assertion that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. "But," said Scalia, "You say it is, once it goes up into the stratosphere and contributes to global warming."

"Respectfully, your honor," Milkey answered, "It is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere, from the ground up to nine miles above."

"Whatever," replied Scalia. "I'm not a scientist. That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth."

On that question – whether the courts should be involved at all – the Supreme Court seemed closely divided, with Justice Anthony Kennedy the likely swing vote.
Dahlia Lithwick gave her take on NPR's Day to Day but her written take in Slate takes a reflective Gen-X-ee angle on the debate:
If there is anything stranger than writing up your story on global warming in a T-shirt … in late November … in the District of Columbia, I can't quite think what it is.
Another few cutsy points by Lithwick (Winona Ryder in Reality Bites or
Parker Posey):
Chief Justice John Roberts—whose distaste for the baby penguins, the polar ice caps, and anything else sought by the state of Massachusetts today knows no bounds—characterizes the scientific reports in this case as "spinning out conjecture on conjecture" about how EPA regulations might lead to technological changes and regulations by other countries.

Now, maybe it's because I have a toddler at home, but the EPA's argument, presented by Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, quickly sounds very familiar.
1) I can't clean it up; 2) Even if I could, I don't want to clean it up; 3) You can't make me clean it up; and 4) China is making an even bigger mess. How come China never has to clean it up? When and if all that fails, the EPA, like my son, just puts its hands over its eyes and says there is no mess in the first place.

There's something incongruous about a Bush administration suddenly gone frantic over the possibility that its solution to a problem may not be the single, perfect one. If we were still arguing about the war on terror or child pornography, the government would be taking the "every little bit helps" approach. But since we're only talking about flash floods, hurricanes, water pollution, and rising sea levels, we hear quite the opposite today: "What difference can one little country make? We're all gonna die anyhow!"
The Other Media Heavies

Washington Post's
Charles Lane.
USA Today's
Joan Biskupic.
The Christian Science Monitor's
Warren Richey provides a more circumspect view.
While at the CSM, see
this piece about federal-state power balance. I hate that I always forget to check in with this paper.

And a few from Mother Jones, Koshlan Mayer-Blackwell asks
Whats at Stake in Massachusetts? while a colleague charges Let Them Eat CO2.

The San Francisco Chronicle provides this
editorial which locates the politics of the matter:
But this case will be heard before a conservative-majority court, which bridles at the notion of judicial activism and expanded federal duties. The court could pull a surprise decision and direct the EPA to do its job in diminishing greenhouse gases. Or it could refuse this assertive role and push the loaded decision back to legislators, not judges, to decide.

Would that be a defeat for environmental sanity? With Republicans running Congress and the White House, it would be. But Democrats now have control of Congress, meaning that serious environmental lawmaking is possible.

A loss before the high court -- hardly guaranteed at this point -- would take the global warming fight to Congress. For six years, there wasn't a prayer for emission controls. That could all change now.

Nuts and Bolts,
for those of you still with us

When the Clean Air Act was enacted, it imposed a duty on EPA to regulate all ambient air pollutants generated by numerous mobile or stationary sources and endanger the public health or welfare. It also permits third party suits against EPA for any failure to perform an act it is duty bound to perform.

air pollutant is any substance emitted into the ambient air. Mobile sources are sources that move (cars, trucks, etc.) and stationary sources are all sources that don't move (factory smokestacks). Endangering public health means causing harm to the health of … well, the public. Endangering the public welfare is broadly understood to mean any affect to the human environment, which is understood to include water, crops, animals, weather, and climate.

the rationale for forcing CO2 regulation offered by the states when it first petitioned EPA.

Clinton's EPA said carbon dioxide was a pollutant on three occasions, but the most important of these statements was a formal memorandum issued by then EPA General Counsel Jonathan Z. Cannon (at right, dashing with paddle)
in April 1998 to provide legal support for then Administrator Carol Browner's (at left, confident or pensive) claim that CO2 fit the bill.
Finally, Cannon's successor Gary S Guzy followed-up with this testimony before a House subcommittee.

Then came Bush and with him, a replacement General Counsel who issued this
memo in August 2003 renouncing any earlier recognition of CO2 as a pollutant. The Bush EPA followed sooner after with this denial of the States request to regulate automobile CO2 emissions, citing the lack of effect held by the Clinton Administration's pronouncements.

From there, it's all in the court documents … final agency actions and standing and bears, oh my! And one day, it landed on the laps of three Judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. A bunch more time passed and here we sit.

And there's only one way to end a tale of this kind:

The Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the case some time before its June 2007 recess.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Knox Mill Goes Virtually Web-Present

Re-speck for Downeast Magazine – The Magazine of Maine – for finally breaking down and making some of its editorial content available online. The latest issue, for instance, features this piece about the future of Camden's Knox Mill. Downeast regularly publishes strong longer form news features that died with after The Maine Times went out of business many moons ago.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the new Downeast web presence is its decision to provide a browse-able archive of certain stories dating back over the past several years. Unfortunately, most like this one
Reinventing Rockland from August 2005, and this one on candlepin bowling don't appear in their entirety and leave you at a frustrating dead-end. But, with some due diligence, you might find something of interest from the past in some of the front-of-the magazine musings and viewpoints sections. For instance, note Online Investigators from December 2005, describing the burgeoning Pine Tree-composed Blogosphere and Portland-based The Bollard, which it dubs the resurrection in spirit of the now-defunct and occasionally-missed
Casco Bay Weekly.

While at Downeast, check out this piece about the
resurgence of Saddleback Ski Area. Playing out like a far-more-expensive version of the hobby-driven purchase of Rockland's Strand Theater. by a ridiculously rich Texas energy investor, Saddleback appears to be on a track back from oblivion thanks to some non-profit-driven investment by long-standing lover of the mountain. All that aside, I like the sound of this:
… Berry says he hopes to keep lift tickets – currently forty dollars for an adult – within a few dollars of where they are now. A similar ticket at either Sugarloaf or Sunday River this year costs sixty-seven dollars. As an added bonus for locals, Saddleback lets Maine residents ski for just twenty-five dollars on one Sunday each month."
The Fact that $40 constitutes "cheap" for a daily lift ticket is a topic for another day. That said, I'm excited to take in the to-now elusive ski mountain of the greater Rangeley region. I retain my allegience, whatever that means, to Sugarloaf, but I look forward to taking a run or two at Saddleback just to support their fine efforts. If everything identifed on this map as proposed comes to be built, no charity considerations will be necessary to draw me up there.

One More Thing ...

Google gave me
this cool BDN piece about Rockland that I am surprised I missed when it was published.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Look Back at Election 2006:
Part I

Before getting to the election wrap-up, I'll open with this Boston Globe Magazine
cover piece from last week about Tom Brady, the corrosion celebrity can affect upon athletes like Brady, and how he has so effectively avoided such traps and trappings.

Will Farrell donned this week's
cover of New York Times Magazine, teasing an article subheadlined: "How does Will Farrell know what makes nice, normal suburban ex-frat boys so funny? He is one."

Maureen Dowd moonlights for Rolling Stone with
this article about the impact of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on the American body politic. Dowd notes:

A recent Indiana University study found that The Daily Show was just as substantive as network television news during the 2004 election. I'm not surprised that young people who watch it are well- informed. I read about ten newspapers a day and three newsmagazines a week, and I have my TV tuned to cable news all day, and I still find myself taking notes from The Daily Show.

Interestingly, I read this after giving serious thought to the evolution of Stephen Colbert's on-tube persona from the guy who tore George W to shreds in his White House Correspondents' Dinner address to the (faux?) to hefty tosser of conservative seeds. Dowd suggests it's merely about lampooning the moment, identifying Colbert as an improvisational comedic actor "who makes his own fake reality defending the fake reality of a real president, and has government officials on who know the joke but are still willing to be mocked by someone fake."

Of note, while you're there, check out
this recent article about Led Zeppelin and this one about this now-departing 109th Congress,
I offer both assuming that you, as I, probably missed them because you gave up reading Rolling Stone after one too many cover article about either Christina Aguilera or Boy Bands.

Right …

So, in Maine, it was
Baldacci Yes! and TABOR No! In the Statehouse it was Democrats Yes!

Confused? Me, too.

Morning Sentinel editorial pokes its index finger into the Governor's sternum and tells him to take notice of the discontent about taxes. Press Herald political reporter Paul Carrier echoes the sentiment that "TABOR defeat belies tax anger," suggesting that "margins in last Tuesday's election were close enough across the state to show that voters clearly want Gov. John Baldacci and the Legislature to rein in high taxes."

The Press Herald also offered
this analysis of the vote against TABOR being "no endorsement of the status quo."

Bangor Daily News provides
this nice list of all numbers in all the races.

Disappointed? Not me. Considering how it could have looked with a few different results, I'll register among the "Pleased, but not ecstatic" camp.

In that vein, the Press Herald
reports in "Greens see rosy future in spite of '06 losses," the party's optimism due because its "core issues – environmental protection, human rights and universal health care – have moved into the mainstream."

Colby College Professor Joseph R. Reisert
chastises the Maine GOP for squandering the chance for a takeover, noting a sentiment I believe I sounded last week:
Given these circumstances – a vulnerable incumbent and a clear, popular issue
that would attract voters from both sides of the partisan divide – the Republicans should have come together to support a socially moderate or even liberal candidate, who would have advanced their principal agenda item: reducing spending and cutting taxes.

Had Maine's Republicans shown the political maturity of the national Democratic party leadership, we might now be anticipating the inauguration of Peter Mills as the first Republican governor in more than a decade. Instead, Maine's Republicans will remain in the political wilderness, ideologically pure, but politically impotent.
Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz apparently typed out the same message a few days before the election, as this column appeared on the morning after.

Finally, this letter to the editor of the Morning Sentinel, "Election results good news for the terrorists" offers a swell
reminder of the red state hiding in many corners around Maine, i.e. Solon.

this story forecasting a new era of judicial nominating and Senate confirmation under the newly Democratic leadership, including new Judiciary Committee chair Pat Leahy, D-VT (above on right). Press Herald DC correspondent Bart Jansen ponders the effect upon Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of losing their gavels and some clout in Washington.

The New York Times attributes the Democrats' success to
Populism and not liberal ideology. Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panettacommands his party-kin: Govern, don't gloat.

Paul Krugman
gloats a bit, observing of the Republican Party's recent era dominated by Movement Conservatives – "the potent alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right:
When movement conservatism took it over, the Republican Party ceased to be the
party of Dwight Eisenhower and became the party of Karl Rove. The good news is
that Karl Rove and the political tendency he represents may both have just

Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby shares this perspective, urging that this election shouldn't be read as a liberal shift as much as a call by principled conservatives to abandon those currently commanding the helm of their party's bobsled. His colleague Ellen Goodman identifies the cleavage point between winning and losing within the term "values."

Ironically, perhaps, recently repudiated Sen. Lincoln Chafee )left) – one of the few Eisenhower-esque Republicans still inhabiting the Senate –
hints that voters were the ones who forced this self-destruction of Movement Conservatism. Yet, they did so by replacing the moderate Republicans like himself with Democrats, but also helping the same Movement Conservatives to solidify their control of the Republican party leadership.

Boston Globe reporter Drake Bennett
describes this phenomenon as the furtherance of regional voting blocs in the USA, noting "that when the new Congress convenes in January, the regional split between the parties could be as stark as at any time since the aftermath of the Civil War."

Look back at the Local Races …. soon ….

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Arguably Endorsements:
The Final Chapter

(posted after I voted, but prepared before I voted. Post voting comments will follow)

Official Sites:
Pat LaMarche, Green Party
Chandler Woodcock Republican Party
Philip Morris NaPier The People's Hero Independent
John Baldacci Democratic Party
Barbara Merrill Independent

I am honestly torn about the Governor's race. It shocks me to say it, but I am ambivilent about whether or not Baldacci wins, and may be inclined toward the same feelings expressed by Village Soup Guest columnist Sarason Liebler, of Liberty
vote none of the above. That won't happen, however, and my vote will come down to one of three candidates. But let me start with basic predictions.

How the Newspapers line-up:

Here is
an AP overview of endorsements, noting the latest boards to go for Gov. Baldacci.

Bangor Daily News:
Portland Press Herald:
Waterville Morning Sentinel / Kennebec Journal:
Brunswick Times Record:
Lewiston Sun-Journal:
None of the Above
Camden Herald:
Portland Phoenix:

I see the totals, from lowest to highest, as follows: Napier, less than 1%. LaMarche, 7%; Woodcock, 25%; Merrill, 30%; Baldacci, greater than 35%.

Let's start with those who have no shot for my vote, and have no shot at winning:

1. Napier (Ind.).

He's a non-factor and not worth discussing seriously. But that is a very handsome puppy. No argument from me.

2. Woodcock (Rep).

I was confident he couldn't beat Baldacci in a 1-on-1 race, well before the other two viable candidates jumped in, and far and away before the story about his past tax liens popped up. Here's why:

Why he won't get my vote:

He's a Moral/Relgious Conservative, and he seeks to enact all of the political choices that his movement supports. So he'll push that agenda on abortion/contraception, gay marriage/civil unions, civil rights protections for sexual orientation, religion in the classroom/government, etc. He's also a Republican on government power and taxation, and he seeks to do the same with those issues. So he'll seek to cut state government expenditures by cutting the revenue flow. However, government won't get cut because the lobbies are too strong and won't give into that tactic. Therefore, we'll be left with huge budget shortfalls, requiring huge borrowing and some ill-advised government spending cuts. By ill advised, I mean the funding for programs and people who aren't politically "important," and therefore expendable. The programs that need to be overhauled – welfare/Medicaid and public education –have serious lobbies that will resist the changes that need to be made. But, all of the programs that help make Maine better – from small business support/grants to the Dept. of Conservations' State Parks and other Public Lands management offices – will be disproportionately gutted, despite any efficiencies those agencies may have already incorporated on their own. And that's dumb.

Why he might get my vote: N/A

Why he won't win:

He will take the entire religious conservative wing of the Republican party. But he will split the other half -- moderate Republicans who don't like Baldacci -- with Barbara Merrill. These are the people who would have voted for Peter Mills if he won the Republican nomination in the primary but didn't because he didn't run a good campaign, the National party pushed for Woodcock, and because the religious half of the party was also uniformly behind Woodcock. So, the Religious conservatives won the battle (getting one of theirs to win the nomination) only to lose the war (no way a religious conservative could win the governorship of the entire voting population in a state so skeptical about such intrusive moral governance). Frankly, if Peter Mills was nominated, Barbara Merrill would be polling 10% or not even be running, and Peter Mills would be your next governor. But that's not even remotely relevant anymore.

Therefore, my vote comes down to one of three:

1. Gov. Baldacci (Dem)

Why he might get my vote:
He is the Democrat, and I'm a Democrat. Plus, he does advocate many programs and policies I support. He spends on conservation. He advocates progressive ideas for social programs, economic development, and regional development. And on the stump, I find myself agreeing with every policy he touts or describes when he publicly speaks.

Why he might not get my vote:
I guess ultimately, it's the simple calculus – Maine State government is sick and bloated and still often ineffectual, and as the guy in charge of all that, I shouldn't endorse the work he's done or not done to change that course. Think about it. Our state taxes are high primarily because our state government administration costs too much. I think I agree with most of the policies advocated by his state government, although I suspect we need to re-prioritize what kind and level of welfare and public health care benefits we want to provide for our poorest citizens.

Yet, the program goals and execution aren't what cost so much. It's the duplication of services – both between differing and non-communicating state agencies, and among different units of the same agency. This is because there are too many officials at the top of the administrative food chain who command too high salaries and who spend every dollar appropriated their way, because to do otherwise means you'll get less money during the next budget cycle. It's a sick and twisted model of "big government," which supposedly died a happy death in the 1990s. Instead, it is alive and well in Maine and will continue to suck our money away until administrative changes are made.

Why he might not win:
Because enough Democrats and Independents who voted for him in 2002 are displeased with the certain tangible cases of administrative ineptitude by those he put into offices and the air of corruption that seems to be lying just beneath the surface of several of those seemingly inept agency heads. Pat LaMarche might siphon off enough lefty environmentalists and socialists to jeopardize votes from him from "the base," while Barbara Merrill simultaneously siphons off enough independents and moderate Democrats who voted for him last time.

Why he will probably win:
1) too few far lefties are likely to vote for LaMarche to dent his liberal base,
2) Barbara Merrill is failing to make a compelling case for herself as a sufficiently human candidate with earnest middle-left policy goals that she can, by virtue of her personality, push into place (see "Angus King"), and
3) Chandler Woodcock presents absolutely no appeal to anyone registered as a Democrat and very little appeal to most true unenrolled independents.

2. Barbara Merrill (Ind.)

Why she might get my vote:
I am charmed by her focus on earnestly eliminating waste and corruption from state government while not cutting the programs and values that lie at the heart of its bloated self. Generally, she supports progressive government, primarily environment-based, as evidenced by her former Democratic affiliation. But, she demands that government fulfill those goals through entreprenurialism and sound fiscal policy. In short, she is a "New Democrat," a la Bill Clinton, only with an even bigger focus on economic development. Finally, in a certain light, she's kinda hot. Kinda.

Why she might not get my vote:
She doesn't have the power of personality to pull it off. Plus, you get the sense that her ego and ambition are driving her more powerfully than any idealistic core. And, people I know from Appleton don't think she's that great of a neighbor, and kind of a demogogue.

Why she might win:
She's done a good job in simultaneously chewing away at Baldacci's support/potential voters from his right, and from Woodcock's support/potential voters from his left. Think Germany, pre Stalingrad, successfully fighting two fronts until Hitler refused to bunker-in for some time to consolidate his gains in Eastern Europe before really driving to beat Russia. Fortunately, she only needs to pull this smoke-and-mirrors act for another week, whereas Hitler was fighting for time before Russia re-tooled and the U.S. realized its unstoppable warmaking power. But I digress .... Plus, she might draw a few points by mere fact that she runs as "an independent," and Maine voters' proud allegience/soft spot for the "myth of the independent Mainer."

Why she probably won't win:
Plain and simple, she needed to do better in chewing away in both directions than she needed to do before now. I think she spent enough and enjoyed a strong spell of positive media attention, but she failed to make the most of those two functions. In particular:

a). She needed to come off as unflappable, human, and polished -- basically, a female Angus King. She has appeared sensitive to criticism about her decision to quit the Democratic Party, whereas she needed to spin this as the source of her electability -- i.e. "fed up," but still "wedded to rprogressive values" fulfilled by "fiscally responsible means." Plus, she's seemed cold and spiteful in the debates and public appearances I've observed, where she needed to be just a regular, smart woman with human qualities like those few powerful women we all know in our lives and think, "Gee, why doesn't she run for office?" Finally, she isn't polished. Angus King won because he was a terrific public speaker, who both said the right things and said them confidently and charmingly enough that you couldn't not nod while listening to him. She doesn't have this thing, call it what you will.

b) She also needed to embrace the stuff laid out in the Brookings Institute's Report on Reinventing Maine Government before Baldacci could co-opt it as his own plan, which he'll claim he started in 2002 but only now is starting to manifest good results (partial B.S./spin-o-matic by Baldacci). Brookings said everything she's claimed to be fighting for, but she never grabbed the weapon and ran with it.

c) Enough Democrats/Moderates (who were/are sympathetic to the stuff she says) are scared to death of the prospect who the slight possibility that Chandler Woodcock could eek out a win because the the Middle-Left majority split its vote they will vote for Baldacci in spite of their disaffection toward him. It's the "wasted vote" phenomenon. These folks think: "I don't like Baldacci, but I've seen a lot of LaMarche signs up in yards that had "Kerry" signs in 2004 and "Gore" signs in 2000 that I wonder how many are going to abandon the Democratic incumbant. I like Barbara Merrill better than Baldacci, but if she doesn't win, Woodcock might. Fuq that! I'm voting for Baldacci."

3. Pat LaMarche (Green)

Why she might get my vote:
She is the smartest of the lot, is the most engaging speaker, and talks about all of the issues I think are important in making Maine improve. She is an articulate liberal, a fighter, and she believes in what she says.

Why she might not get my vote:
Two reasons: Policy and pragmatic. She is a little too far left for my tastes. I don't think we need to expand our social services programs any bigger than they already are. If anything, I think we need to rein in our welfare spending generally and really gauge what the State taxpayers believe should be offered for free to the poor before we establish new expanded program priorities. And I think we need to balance our policies toward natural resource stewardship a bit more than she advocates (She'd likely bar use and exploitation of certain resources that I think could be used responsibly with great economic advantage to we taxpayers without jeopardizing their inherant value/beauty/recreational values).

Why she might win:
I don't really think she has a shot. To her credit, she commands as much support from the far left as Jonathan Carter did in 1994, and she has a hell of a lot more cross-over appeal (and likeability) than Carter ever had. And he still polled more than 6%, effectively stealing enough likely "otherwise Democrat" votes from Joe Brennan to allow Angus King to prevail. However, the stars all need to align perfectly, in that her only conceivable chance to win would need to come by way of a fluke result. Some instance of mathematical perfection like this:

a. She nails the "true liberal believer vote," who decide to abandon Baldacci entirely, and even steals a decent share of moderate Democratic women who like her because of her strong woman candidate credentials. This gives her 26%

b. Chandler Woodcock draws barely any support from moderate Republicans, and sees his support limited to the religous right and true Party believers. This gives him 19%

c. Barbara Merrill draws all of the Moderate Republican and Middle-Right portion of the Unenrolled votes. This includes many Republicans who deserted Woodcock due to his religious right stances, but more importantly, those who feel like Woodcock lost all viability due to redneck support for Napier (see below) and the tax lien issue. However, she fails to draw as many registered Democrats and Middle-Left Unenrolled voters as she expected. This gives her 25%

d. Philip Morris Napier, The People's Hero, draws 4%, all of which come from the former Ross Perot voters who are normally inclined toward Republicans because they hate Clinton, but they also distrust people who wear ties and talk like businessmen or lawyers, like Woodcock does.

e. "None of the Above" -- writeins and Mickey Mouse -- poll about 2%, or whatever number is higher than usual.

f. Gov. Baldacci loses all of the "True Believers" on the liberal side to LaMarche, while losing all of the true Moderates who supported him in 2004 to Merrill. His support is strictly limited to the Party faithful, labor Democrats, teachers, unions, and party bosses/members throughout the state. He polls 25%.

In other words, she has one shot in a thousand or more.

Why she won't likely win:
Because the above scenario or one similarly sketched out is like winning a scratch off – sure the possibility of winning exists, but there are too many loser cards in the deck for any realistic hope of her scratching the one winner. And she isn't perfect enough to cut into the bad odds sufficiently to make winning more conceivable. For example, her DUI has as much chance of alienating the righteous moralists among the Democrats as it does of alluring others by way of the "she's one of us" phenomenon. Either way, it's a potential negative, and she had run with no potential negatives is she wanted to cut out a good number of the loser cards in the lottery deck.

But who knows, really? I might just as possibly sleep through next Tuesday

The Road Ahead

Final pre-vote word on the Governor's Race and my vote:

Even after writing all of this, I don't know how I am going to come down.

I'd like to think I'll vote for LaMarche out of principle, i.e. "I think she would govern over the state with the most compassion and fight the hardest to achieve equality, social justice, and responsible environmental stewardship of any governor we've had since Ken Curtis and beyond."

But I also would like to think I'd vote for Barbara Merrill because I think that all that polish and posturing stuff doesn't mean anything, and bottom line, I agree with her that our top statewide priorites need to be cutting state government waste and creating the kind of economic climate that will both attract entrepreneurial money from outside of the state to put Maine's great natural and human resources to work, and provide fertile enough soil for entreprenuers within the state to lay the foundations for their small and medium sized business ideas to germinate and flourish.

Nonetheless, a part of me thinks I'll believe that Baldacci's intentions are good enough, and take him on his word that he had an eight year plan, that we're halfway home, and that the last four years are when it all comes together. At least, just enough to keep me in fear of four years with Chandler Woodcock in the Blaine House.

As cynical as it sounds, I'll vote for Baldacci if I think Woodcock might win. If Woodcock doesn't win, that realistically means that either Baldacci will be reelected or Barbara Merrill will surprise everybody. As a result, that means I'll probably decide on the day of whether I want my vote to help put either Merrill or Baldacci over the top, or if I want to help Pat LaMarche beef up her totals and preserve both her own political viability within the state and that of the Greens, who will enjoy certain electoral advantages if she gets some percentage of the vote (10%, maybe?).

There you have it.

Now, I feel like going to take a shower and/or a nap.

Arguably Endorsements, Part 4
The County Races

Knox Co. Democrats:
Knox Co. Republicans: apparently, not quite web-ready.

District Attorney
District 6

(Knox, Waldo, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc Counties)

Incumbent: D.A. Geoffrey Rushlau, of Dresden
Joe Baiungo, Attorney at Law, Belfast
(note – the Rushlau page isn't an official campaign site or anything like it. The only thing on the web I found that wasn't a case-specific article or a letter to the editors was
this light piece from a 2004 Wiscasset Newspaper article in which the DA waxes about the office and the strange system that yields a Bath-to-beyond-Belfast district and requires one administrator to oversee four courthouses and four distinct communities.

My likely vote: For print: Undecided … as far as you know.

Viewpoints and newsy views:

Even the Statewide papers are checking in on this one, including
The Press Herald.

Brunswick Times-Record offers this profile piece.

Lincoln County News, per usual, provides no patent endorsement or reflective coverage in the race beyond its traditional offering of candidate profiles for the
two candidates, which latently seem to favor the local boy, DA Rushlau.

The Belfast Waldo Independent announces,
There's a hotly contested race for DA. This story provides a quote from Baiungo that sums up his raison d'trunning:
"I will hold the office to a higher level of performance than they are demanding of themselves… I recognize improvements need to be made within the office. They refuse to be accountable for the way prosecutions are being handled right now. It’s never their fault… It’s always the police officer’s fault, the judge or the jury… Juries are never wrong. You have to find a way to give them what they need to satisfy themselves… I’m willing to make some hard changes that Geoff is not willing to make. I’m willing to make personnel changes. Some of the assistant DAs are doing a great job but some need to be replaced.”
The Independent is one of two paper within the four counties choosing to provide an endorsementin the race, interestingly going against the local candidate in favor of the incumbent. The Camden Herald, on the other hand, buried its conditional nod toward Baiungo at the tail-end of its list of endorsements, which range from TABOR Yes! to Al Ockenfels for Sheriff. In case you don't make it that far, here is the language:
In the matter of the district attorney, the operations of his office are a locked box as far as the press and public are concerned, and we never hear a single helpful or explanatory word from that quarter until election time. If Joe Baiungo will open that locked box to public scrutiny, then we would prefer him over the silent incumbent.
Village Soup provides a similar sounding board for each in Rushlau Baiungo in spirited race for Four County DA. This one includes a pretty odd quote from DA Rushlau, which I suspect he'd try to reword if given another shot:
Rushlau said he has different attitudes to cases depending on the stage they are at. When he is deciding whether to prosecute, he is measured, judicious. He must decide, first, "whether I believe personally what the police say happened, and second, whether a jury will believe it," he said.

"If I know I won't be successful [in prosecuting a case where he believes the defendant is guilty], I'd be using public resources for nothing," he said. "And then, people won't trust the judicial system."
The Courier Gazette provides this recap of a debate it sponsored between the two candidates last week, but provides no endorsement. Unless, that is, its report that Rockland HS students prefer Baiungo constitutes an endorsement of sorts. It also reports that Baiungo is outspending Rushlau, listing all of the major contributors to each candidate's campaign.

DA Rushlau offers
this mea culpa of sorts against criticism of his child abuse prosecution record and his opposition to "Jessica's Law" and mandatory sentencing for child abusers. His theme is summed up by this quote: "However attractive the idea of long mandatory sentences, the result, we all believe[], would be fewer convictions and more children at risk."

State Senate, most of Knox County

Incumbent Republican
Christine Savage, of Appleton.
Scott Barrows, of Warren.

I will vote for Scott Barrows for State Senate because he is a sharp guy with has good ideas, who impresses you as one who will work hard to make argue for their passage at the Legislature. Moreover, he isn't Christine Savage, who seems like a nice enough lady, but whose voting record represents just about the polar opposite of what I support. Finally, he will help the Democrats retain majority both the Senate and the Legislature as a whole.

The last point is important to me for a very pragmatic reason -- the party who holds a majority of the Legislature as a whole gets to select the Attorney General. Steve Rowe is, without question, the finest public official in the State of Maine and he is a Democrat. So, if the Republicans win, he's guaranteed to be replaced by a Republican lawyer. This would be a tragic side effect, and one that is potentially grave enough for me that it would be enough for me to vote for Scott even if I didn't find him the outstanding candidate he is in his own right.

Oh yeah …

County Commissioner

There is a two way race for Knox County Commissioner between
Anne Beebe-Center and Brad Carter. I have nothing to add.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arguably Endorsements, Pt. 3

Initiative Questions – TABOR and that other one

Here's the
State electionizin' link that explains who, what, and to a lesser degree, why, regarding each of the Initiative / Referendum questions – including the always-fun-at-a-party TABOR.

Question One / TABOR
The Playas:

My guaranteed vote: No.

I think TABOR is spiteful, and nothing but an ill-advised frontal assault upon the edifice that is Maine's bloated public spending system. I will vote No on 1. The "send them politicians a message" reason for voting yes derives from resentment and will cause far greater harm than good.

Bangor Daily News:
Portland Press Herald:
Waterville Morning Sentinel & Augusta Kennebec Journal:
Lewiston Sun Journal:
Brunswick Times-Record:
York County Coast Star:
Courier Gazette: no position yet taken.
Camden Herald:
Bar Harbor Times:
Lincoln County News: No position taken, but Victoria Wallack outlines
the guts of TABOR.

BDN columnist
Todd Benoit ponders how Maine might look after a win for TABOR Yes! Good and scary question.

Syndicated Augusta writer Victoria Wallack reports
how much is being spent by the opposing sides.

Al Diamon grumpily opines that
the promises to offer a compromise are smoke and mirrors.

State Senator Peter Mills

The Press Herald offers this fig leaf of sorts in the aftermath of its near shocking TABOR endorsement, which is more like a
gesture of rationalization. The reporter to his credit provides this insight from a certain prominent state Republican who looms large for Republicana as Tuesday approaches:
Sen. Peter Mills, R-Cornville, said lawmakers had the TABOR proposal in hand and used it as a starting point when they drafted the LD 1 spending formula. He said LD 1 was crafted to reach the same goals of TABOR without hamstringing government or interfering with other new state laws, such as the complex school-funding measure called Essential Programs and Services. Compared to LD 1, Mills said, TABOR is primitive.

"We are way beyond TABOR," he said.
One more example of why the Maine Republican Party could never bring itself to nominate Peter Mills as its standard bearer. The GOP's frothing Government-hater wing clearly dominates state and national party leadership these days. Yet, their internal supremacy destroyed all prospect that they could have unseated Gov. Baldacci and retaken the Blaine House for the first time since the early 1990s. If Mills was running as the Republican candidate for Governor right now, there would be no viable Barbara Merrill campaign and Governor Baldacci would be as nervous as George Bush the Elder circa late October 1992.

But he ain't, there is, and he isn't.

Question Two:

My likely vote: Yes.

While we're here, it's also important to recognize the flipside of TABOR/Question One, which is Question Two and the proposal to firm-up the requirements for getting an Initiative question onto the ballot. Mt Desert Islander provides
this sharp overview of the issue. Here's the BDN endorsement for Yes on 2.

Arguably Endorsements, Pt 2

US House, District One

Let's start out with the easy one. Incumbent Democrat Rep. Tom Allen v. Republican state Rep.
Darlene Curley for U.S. House District One (read: The other Maine, as viewed from "The Other Maine"). Prediction? Allen by 45 lengths. Slam Dunk! Only thing of note is that Rep. Allen also faces a challenge from the left from registered Democrat named Dexter Kamilewicz (with feeling: "Camel"-"Hey!"-"Vitch"). Mr. K. attempts to paint clear differences with Rep. Allen, taking umbrage with the latter's vote to fund the Iraq War after initially voting to deny Congressional authorization to send troops. However, even these votes don't begin to crack the image of Rep. Allen held both statewide and nationally as a supremely competent advocate for his constituents and a bona fide liberal. Mr. Kamilewicz's presence should not bleed any liberal votes away from the incumbent other than the most deluded among the leftover 60s radical scene.

US Senate

Yah, yah, yah.
Sen. Olympia Snowe v. former newspaper editor and current organic farming Democrat Jean Hay Bright v. former USM Professor Bill Slavick. Gonna be a blow-out, as MPBN observes and this KJ and Morning Sentinel editorial hopes to stir along. Ever since Time Magazine called Olympia, aka "The Caretaker," one of the nation's Best Senators, the nearly impossible task of unseating her became officially hopeless.

So then … moving on …

Arguably Endorsements

Off the top, much of what I'll link derives from various articles I've found from among the plentitude of Maine newspapers. To peruse the papers themselves, check out
the All Things Maine compendium of all Maine newspaper websites.

Check out the rest of this
blog while you’re at it, especially if you are looking for some apolitical relief in this time of filth and money. It provides a great account of Maine-ism by some person who's in relishes all things Maine -- hence the name.

On the flipside, here's the Editor of the Rockland Free Press's pitch:
Vote for the Democrat. Period. This guy is a sharp writer, which is rare among Midcoastal editorializers, irrespective of our common political lenses. He's a Rockland lawyer who practices part time, is a part time City politician, and a part time worker at his wife's restaurant.

One Additional Note before I proceed through the races and issues:

The MPBN tv/radio show MaineWatch broadcast a pretty timely piece on Friday evening focusing on
Newspaper Editorial Endorsements -- how they are developed, what they represent for their communities/owners, and how they impact they elections. I found the show fascinating, as I'd just been speaking with a co-worker about how the Press Herald's editorial voice seems to have changed tone since the Blethen family bought it. However, its relationship with Portland is nothing compared with the relationship the Lewiston Sun-Journal appears to have with the Androscoggin Valley. As evidenced, in part, by this comment on posted in response to the paper's TABOR endorsement:
Posted By: CATHERINE at October 29, 2006 9:03 AM
10 years ago I moved to Lewiston from a small rural community where we struggled with tax caps for years and saw one school program after another fall by the wayside. I was so happy to move to Lewiston, pay my taxes and send my children to good schools. Education costs money. But not supporting the education of our young people will hurt this state much more in the long run. The Sun Journal has taken a stand against our children. I have cancelled my subscription.
Ultimately it raises a "chicken v. egg" set of questions – primarily, does a community's set of values shape its newspaper's politics, or does a newspaper shape its community's politicy. I don't think there is any one answer that perfectly describes the relationship in any two media market examples. But what do I know?

Now then … it's off to the races ….