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Clinton speech wasn’t rhetorically brilliant. That made it work.

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Hillary Clinton at a forum in Denmark, South Carolina on Feb. 12. Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Hillary Clinton is a policy wonk who, whether as an elected official or not, has been in the arena for decades, Her speech wasn’t rhetorically strong like the ones given by the Obamas, Bill Clinton, Cory Booker and some others.

But it was a speech that was authentically Hillary Clinton.

Yesterday I mentioned three themes I expected to see in Hillary Clinton’s speech — the influence of her mother, the importance of love and kindness and being stronger together, and a critique of Trump’s temperament, particularly in national security matters.

Clinton incorporated all of those, along with a big dollop of policy talk.

It’s not a speech people will likely play over and over, but it had some memorable sound bites, including saying “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

But if Hillary Clinton had given a speech that was rhetorically dazzling, it wouldn’t have been authentically her. Thus a speech that was by turns wonky, at turns personal, attacking Trump for his lack of qualifications was authentically Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s speech was the culmination of a convention that developed themes over time. In that way, it reminded me of a musical or even symphony.

Put in context of the overall convention, Clinton’s speech didn’t have to carry all the themes. She just needed to develop some, but could go light on others. Clinton was warm and wonky, personal and policy-oriented.

Clinton’s speech fit with that of her running mate Tim Kaine, another wonky candidate who has spent decades serving others, both out of and in public office.

Clinton’s speech thus was a demonstration of her ability to be a leader who works with a team. The whole convention was so much better run and produced, highlighting Democrats’ competence.

Beyond Clinton’s speech, the convention brought in a huge array of speakers, showing the Democratic Party as a very broad coalition.

The coalition demonstrated at the convention ranges from progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders to independent former NY Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg to various Republicans, including former Reagan speechwriter Doug Elmets.

There were police officers, a four star general surrounded by other members of the military, women whose children were killed by police, a woman severely injured on September 11 with whom Clinton developed a relationship, and many other Americans who were not elected officials.

From my point of view, one moment of the Democratic convention ranks with the best of all political conventions I have ever seen. This was when the father of a Muslim Marine who died helping to save others challenged Trump, asking him if he had ever read the Constitution, pulling out his copy and telling Trump he would loan it to Trump so he could find language on liberty and equal protection of the laws, and saying Trump had never sacrificed anything.

In the early part of the twenty-first century and end of the twentieth century, strategist Karl Rove and President George W. Bush sought to broaden and modernize the Republican coalition. They brought in Latinos and did not disparage Muslims.

Now they must be shaking their heads with woe, since the Democratic Party put forward both the patriotism and family values they often promoted and has moved into their political strengths.

Now that the conventions are over, the campaigns move on to appeal to, assemble, and mobilize their coalitions.

 

 

 

A post-nomination challenge for Clinton: Rallying Maine’s left

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Portland, where I spotted this flyer aiming to convert Bernie Sanders supporters to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on my way through Monument Square to grab coffee.

It was jarring after the unity-fest that was yesterday’s Democratic National Convention, which culminated with Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination and contrasting her “steady leadership” with Republican nominee Donald Trump, who she painted as petulant and unprepared.

What it all means for Maine is uncertain. The state’s Democrats went hard for Sanders at the March caucuses. Democrats also picked Barack Obama over Clinton in 2008. The state hasn’t backed a Republican in a presidential election since 1988, but surveys have shown a potentially close race between Trump and Clinton here this year.

Maine’s Sanders delegates have been at the forefront of change at the convention: State Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, pushed changes at the state convention that led to a national change weakening the Democrats’ much-maligned system of “superdelegates,” then gave a unity speech for Clinton on Monday.

That seemed to be a general mood of the delegation after Clinton’s speech.

“The possibilities for every woman and little girl are now expanded,” said Diane Denk, a Sanders delegate from Kennebunk, in a statement. “We will always remember where we were on this momentous night.”

Attorney General Janet Mills, a Clinton delegate, called the convention “energizing, thoughtful (and) historic, saying there was “an atmosphere of confidence and patriotism in the room” on Thursday.

“She’s exactly the leader America and the world needs at this time and place in the arc of our history,” said Cynthia Dill, a former state senator and Clinton delegate from Cape Elizabeth.

But it’s not all kumbaya. Dill was being criticized on the left for her Sunday column in the Portland Press Herald in which she called some on the left “bozos” with “resentment of success.”

Seth Berner, a Sanders delegate from Portland, said that summed up the convention for him, saying he felt that his ilk were “not welcome” and “it is not our event.”

Liz Smith, a Sanders delegate from Camden, said, “Clinton’s speech felt like the same old lip service” and “I’m still waiting for the olive branch to materialize here.”

But Smith said she’s “leaving Philadelphia today with Maine on my mind,” and she hopes that disillusioned progressives won’t neglect state legislative races, naming Maine Senate candidate Troy Jackson of Allagash and Sen. David Miramant of Camden as two Democrats that must be elected in November.

“I’m hoping we can still get out the vote and that even those who refuse to vote Clinton will see the importance of sticking with our local down-ballot Democrats,” Smith said.

It’s a situation worth monitoring. Stein got more than 1 percent of the Maine vote in 2012. If she gets more in 2016, it could affect the Clinton-Trump race. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits
  • EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock, a top Clinton surrogate, will campaign for her in Portland todayThe head of the group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic women will join U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and her daughter, former Maine House Speaker Hannah Pingree, at Coffee By Design on Diamond Street from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • A Republican super PAC is using 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain’s ties against her. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which has close ties to House GOP leaders, announced a website tying Cain to “careless Hillary Clinton,” a reference to FBI Director James Comey’s assessment of Clinton’s email practices. Cain, who endorsed Clinton in both the 2008 and 2016 primaries, is running a heavily targeted 2016 rematch against U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. A June poll from the Portland Press Herald said 64 percent of 2nd District voters found Clinton unfavorable to 57 percent for Trump.
  • Members of Maine’s congressional delegation and the Obama administration will announce specifics on a federal economic development team for rural Maine on Friday. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to assemble a special team to identify assets, challenges and opportunities to diversify economies wracked by mill closures. Collins, King, Poliquin and others will announce grants to support new initiatives and discuss the team’s goal of expanding Maine’s forest economy at a 2:30 p.m. event at the University of Maine in Orono. — Michael Shepherd
Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • Vitamin D-saster: “I came in like usual to buy my chocolate milk and you wasn’t in,” says a male patron of the Cumberland Farms store in Gorham to a female employee.
  • We all need a muse: Ladies, do I have the opportunity for you: “A nationally known love poet” is “looking for a muse.” But he’s not looking for a romantic relationship or “anything illicit.” If he were, would he say?
  • A heck of a deal: Someone in southern Maine is “mediocre at best at singing, playing guitar and at playing bass,” so they need help on basically every aspect of making a song. How do you get paid? “Well a thanks of course and while I haven’t actually sold any songs yet, could pay you in IOU’s for any song I would possibly sell in the future that you preform on.” — Michael Shepherd

Closing an incredible convention, Clinton can tap profound moments of her life and campaign

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Hillary Clinton at a forum in Denmark, South Carolina on Feb. 12. Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

What a Democratic convention it’s been, full of optimism and remarkable rhetoric.

Sure, there are still some Sanders delegates who haven’t moved toward Clinton and maybe never will, but they are a small portion overall. Unity was promoted by the very process of being in the hall together and hearing popular figures like the Obamas, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and going through the roll call to record Sanders’ support.

Bill Clinton, a popular ex-president added so much to people’s knowledge of Hillary Clinton as someone who has worked since she was a teenager to make people’s lives better. As someone who has followed her career closely, there was a good deal that I learned about her.

Ending the convention, Clinton can weave together critical strands of her campaign and give her momentum going forward.

First, Clinton can fill out her biography from her own perspective, especially pointing to her mother’s experiences.

Early in the nomination campaign, Hillary Clinton used to talk a fair amount about her mother, Dorothy Rodham.

Clinton’s mother had a very rough life. As a June 2015 New York Times article noted:

Dorothy Howell was 8 years old when her parents sent her away. It was 1927. Her mother and father, who fought violently in the Chicago boardinghouse where the family lived, divorced. Neither was willing to take care of Dorothy or her little sister.

So they put the girls on a train to California to live with their grandparents. It did not go well. Her grandmother favored black Victorian dresses and punished the girls for inexplicable infractions, like playing in the yard. (Dorothy was not allowed to leave her room for a year, other than for school, after she went trick-or-treating one Halloween.)

Unable to bear it, Dorothy left her grandparents’ home at 14, and became a housekeeper for $3 a week, always hoping to return to Chicago and reconnect with her mother. But when she finally did, a few years later, her mother spurned her again.

Clinton not only talked about her mother on the campaign trail, but one of her early ads talked about her mother’s story and what it taught her.

Dorothy Rodham, with all that pain in her life, transcended it. She was a loving and supportive mother who raised a brilliant, hardworking, caring and confident daughter who made a life in large part focused on trying to help people find the opportunity to thrive and grow.

Talking about her mother, Hillary Clinton has conveyed what mattered to her, what makes her tick. In Philadelphia, she can tell the biggest audience of her life about how Dorothy lived, loved and influenced her.

Second, Clinton can reiterate the importance of mutual love and kindness as embedded in our communities and common political life.

The Clinton campaign theme is Stronger Together, but this is not a strength based on anger or authoritarianism, as we see from Donald Trump.

In her victory speech following the South Carolina primary, Clinton said:

You know, on one of my first trips to South Carolina during this campaign, I stopped by a bakery here in Columbia. I was saying hello everybody; I went over to say hello to a man reading a book in the corner. Turned out he was a minister. And the book was a Bible. He was studying I Corinthians 13, which happens to be one of my favorite passages. “Love never fails,” it tells us. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

These are words to live by not only for ourselves but also for our country. I know it sometimes seems a little odd for someone running for president, these days, in this time, to say we need more loving kindness in America. But I’m telling you, from the bottom up my heart, we do. We do.

These are, indeed, as Hillary Clinton said, not the usual words from a presidential candidate. In fact, there’s some risk taken in a female candidate using what could be seen as feminine rhetoric, although perhaps not so much for an individual as tough as she.

Moreover, this love and kindness Clinton spoke of, which she got from her mother and father, are not just personal qualities. As she said in that same South Carolina speech:

[T]his campaign and our victory is for the reverend—a presiding elder of the AME Church—who looked at all the violence and division in our country and asked me the other night, ‘How? How are we ever going to strengthen the bonds of family and community again?’

Well, we’re going to start by working together with more love and kindness in our hearts and more respect for each other, even when we disagree.

Despite what you hear, we don’t need to make America great again: America has never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together.

Love and kindness. Making America whole. Tearing down barriers. Stronger together.

These are all themes heard before we may hear tonight from Clinton.

Third, Clinton can reprise her devastating critique of Trump’s foreign policy failings.

Several days before the California primary, Clinton gave a focused, workmanlike dissection of what Trump has said about foreign policy and national security issues that was direct, sometimes funny, and brilliantly effective.

This has never been done as sharply and surely by anyone else.

And, while Clinton likely will talk about other policies that are important, Trump’s inadequacies as a future chief diplomat and commander-in-chief, along with a prickly and vindictive temperament, go directly to his weaknesses and lack of qualifications to be president of the United States.

Trade battle leaks from presidential race into Maine’s 2nd District

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta. It was another rah-rah day for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, where President Barack Obama and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine made the case for their party’s presidential nominee.

But on Tuesday, Clinton had a bit of a headache when Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close ally, said she’d support the Trans-Pacific Partnership if she takes office, which The Washington Post called “damaging” to her campaign. Clinton’s camp pushed back immediately.

Trade has been one of the trickiest issues of this campaign for Clinton: She helped negotiate the deal as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, but came out against it last year in a rare split with the president, with whom she has aligned herself closely.

That was a major wedge issue during her primary campaign with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but it may be just as a big of a deal in her campaign with Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has broken with his party to oppose free trade deals.

When Trump visited Bangor in June, trade was one of his main points of attack against Clinton, as he looks to court working-class voters here after polling has shown a close race between the two in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

In 2016, that district will also see one of the nation’s biggest congressional races, with Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin running a rematch of his 2014 win against Democrat Emily Cain. Both oppose the Pacific trade deal. Poliquin announced his opposition in April, while Cain has long opposed it.

On Wednesday, Cain came out against her party’s own platform on trade in a statement, calling for the platform to outline standards for protecting workers in trade agreements.

But she also used it to hit Poliquin for silence on the Republican platform, which calls for “better negotiated trade agreements that put America first,” but also to “broaden our trade agreements with countries which share our values and commitment to fairness.”

“Mills are closing and Mainers are being put out of work as our jobs go overseas,” Cain said. “It shouldn’t take an election-year poll to take the right position.”

Maine Republican Party spokeswoman Nina McLaughlin responded with a statement defending Poliquin’s trade stances, noting Cain’s early endorsement of Clinton before she opposed the Pacific deal and saying “it appears Cain is wrestling with major divisions and the skirmishes” in her party.

Trade is perhaps the biggest issue in the presidential campaign, so expect Poliquin and Cain to find more ways to disagree about their agreement on it. — Michael Shepherd

LePage misfires on education spending

Gov. Paul LePage railed against Question 2 in a Wednesday radio address, but got some facts wrong on education funding.

The Republican governor opposes the question on November’s ballot, which would assess a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000 to increase education funding. It aims to allow the state to pay for 55 percent of K-12 schools’ “essential programs and services,” a standard set by voters in 2004 that the state has never met.

In his address, LePage said “superintendents decide what the 55 percent will be, and they move the goal posts every year.” But “essential programs and services” is a state formula that was designed to do away with the “expenditure-driven” model that Maine had before 1997.

Also, he said, “if you take into account the state’s portion of teacher pensions and health care after retirement, the state is paying over 55 percent of the cost of public education.” But that’s explicitly set by law. This year, that percentage is 50.79 percent.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose a new tax, but these aren’t the best ones. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits
  • At the town hall, LePage said the state jobs targeted for elimination in next year’s budget are “all vacant.” That’s according to the Portland Press Herald, after a leaked memo showed that the governor wants to reduce the state workforce to 9,500 and cut income taxes. But if that figure is correct, simple subtraction indicates bigger effects on the workforce: David Heidrich, a spokesman for LePage’s budget department, said there are 13,286 executive branch positions authorized, with an employee count of 11,808. That makes for 1,478 vacant spots. If the workforce were to go down to 9,500, that would mean 2,308 layoffs at current levels.
  • A new contract for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative program was announced on Wednesday. It’ll allow the program — which places laptops in the hands of Maine schoolchildren — to provide new devices to schools that opted into the program in 2013. — Michael Shepherd
Reading list ‘D-Money,’ ‘LeRage’ reign at governor’s mansion Pokemon gym

Today in political “Pokemon Go” news, players have been trolling LePage at the Blaine House, which is a gym in the augmented-reality game. (For the uninitiated, here’s a good Vox explainer.)

Screenshots were left by an Imgur user named “Vachenzo,” who won the gym and left a Magikarp — the most pathetic Pokemon in the game — named “LeRage” to defend it. Another user left a Meowth named “D-Money,” a reference to LePage’s infamous comments on drug dealers impregnating “young, white” Maine girls.

Vachenzo didn’t return a message seeking comment on his motives, but this sort of trolling has happened before: A Magikarp named “The Donald” was left at the White House gym, according to Kotaku.

Oh, those millennials and their satire. Here is your soundrack. — Michael Shepherd

The irreparable disunity of the Democratic Party

Matt Gagnon - Bangor Daily News -

A week ago, Democrats were snickering at how supposedly “chaotic” the Republican National Convention was, with the Never Trump movement attempting to undermine the nominee, and Ted Cruz failing to endorse his one-time rival.

Today, I bet the Democrats would take those problems over their own.

The truth of the matter is that both parties are living through a tremendously challenging identity crisis. Both are full of divisions and disunity. Both have nominated flawed candidates. Both are far less stage-managed than in years past. Both have unruly party members causing mischief.

Yet, when one looks at the Republican Party, they see an uncomfortable family food fight at Thanksgiving. The nature of the disagreement that Republicans are currently living through basically boils down to questions of what we ideologically believe, and how we handle the conflict between the establishment and the growing strain of populism rushing through the party.

Difficult, but nothing inherently dishonest or oppressive about the conflict.

When one looks at the fissure in the Democratic Party, they see something far more dangerous.

Bernie Sanders supporters are essentially made of up two groups of people. The first is longtime, party-loyal Democrats who are extremely liberal, even outright socialist, and chose Bernie over Clinton based on his platform of ideas.

The second is made up of rabble-rousing leftists with no loyalty to the party at all, including activist-minded young people, hard-left independents, and anti-establishmentarian liberals who have always viewed the Democratic Party as a slightly less awful version of the Republican Party.

This second, far larger group, decided to roll the dice and take a chance on Bernie this year because they believed in him personally. In so doing, they chose to participate in the Democratic Party infrastructure and trusted that the game would ultimately be fair.

That trust was shattered when the Democratic National Committee’s internal emails were released by Wikileaks.

Suddenly, those activists who believed that their plucky, underdog campaign was at the very least being treated fairly by the Democrats found out the establishment was actively working against them.

First, there was the internal derision shown by senior DNC staff. Mark Paustenbach, one of the party’s communications staff, pounced on a Sanders campaign database server glitch from earlier in the year, and proposed that DNC staff plant stories with the press portraying Bernie’s campaign as being in disarray.

“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story,” Paustenbach wrote, “which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.” The email was sent to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director.

Then there was the exchange between the committee’s chief financial officer, Brad Marshall, and Amy Dacey, the committee’s CEO, that pitched the idea of finding a way to bring attention to Bernie’s religious beliefs — or lack thereof.

“It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God,” wrote Marshall. “He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps.”

And then there was the press collusion. More than anything in the leak, the incestuous relationship between the DNC officials and the press was apparent, making the committee’s inherent bias against Sanders all the worse.

In one insane example, a Politico reporter, Ken Vogel, sent a full draft of a story he was writing to the DNC before he even submitted it to his editors.

“Per agreement … any thoughts appreciated,” Vogel wrote to Paustenbach, attaching the story he had written. Upon forwarding the email to Miranda, Paustenbach added this, “Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it. Let me know if you see anything that’s missing and I’ll push back.”

Per agreement. Given, so long as it isn’t shared.

This is the kind of unprofessional, dishonest, lazy yellow journalism that conservatives have come to expect from the media. Now, with an anti-Bernie DNC in collusion with the press, finally somebody else is seeing and feeling it.

This impression that the game was rigged the whole time, and that the Democratic establishment was never going to let Sanders win and was in fact actively engaged in preventing him from succeeding is going to be a major liability for Hillary Clinton this fall.

She needs these Sanders supporters desperately, and as the Democratic convention drags on, with more heckling, protests and walkouts, it’s clear that she isn’t getting it.

Republicans’ hopes of winning the Maine Legislature look slightly better

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Former U.S. Rep. David Emery, now a Republican candidate for the Maine Senate, speaks at a gubernatorial candidate forum in 2006. (BDN file)

Democrats still look well-positioned to make gains in the race for control of the Maine Legislature in 2016, but Republicans have gotten a few more opportunities in nip-and-tuck districts.

The Bangor Daily News first published district-by-district analyses of the Maine Senate and House of Representatives in May. It’s subjective, taking past election results, voter registration data and candidate strength into account.

It didn’t look good for Republicans, who must both hold and gain seats in heavily Democratic areas to win a majority in either chamber this presidential year.

It doesn’t look much different after an update this week, reflecting the June primaries and a Monday deadline to replace candidates who dropped out after winning primaries.

We still give Democrats an advantage in 18 districts in the Senate and 80 in the House — enough for majorities in each chamber. But Republicans helped themselves in three places.

  • They recruited former U.S. Rep. David Emery of Tenants Harbor to face freshman Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, in a district leaning Democratic by 3 percentage points. We moved the seat from Leans Democratic to Toss-up.
  • In a Windham House race, former Rep. Anne Pringle dropped out of the race against Rep. Patrick Corey, a Republican in a seat that’s only +1 to Democrats. He’s now unopposed. Rating: Toss-up —> Strong Republican
  • In Waldo County, former Rep. Ryan Harmon, R-Palermo, faces Stanley Paige Ziegler, a Montville Democrat. The district leans slightly Republican, but is held by Rep. Christine Burstein, D-Lincolnville. Rating: Leans D —> Leans R

The news isn’t all great for Republicans. They couldn’t find a candidate to face Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, who barely won his seat in 2014, after former Lewiston Police Chief William Welch withdrew amid campaign finance issues.

But it’s clear that they did just a little bit more to improve a tough standing going on to November.

Maine casts most votes for Sanders on a day of pro-Clinton unity

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re keeping an eye on Maine’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention this week.

The convention nominated Clinton on Tuesday, after her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, made the motion that crowned her in a historic display of party unity. The day was headlined by a speech from former President Bill Clinton.

Maine’s delegation has stayed strong in support of Sanders: Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett took the microphone on Tuesday to announce 18 votes for Sanders to Clinton’s 12 Maine delegates.

There were protests from Sanders supporters, however, and some Maine delegates still aren’t enthralled with their candidate.

When asked by the Portland Press Herald if she was happy with Clinton, Maine State Nurses Association President Cokie Giles, a Sanders delegate from Brewer, said, “Hell, no.”

Clinton will accept the nomination in a speech Thursday. We may have to wait until then to see how some Sanders backers will take to her. — Michael Shepherd

Old attacks creep back in Poliquin-Cain race

The heavily targeted race in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District between U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, and Democrat Emily Cain, is looking a lot like 2014.

That isn’t just because the candidates are the same; the attacks are familiar, too. While Cain has been aggressively messaging against Poliquin for about a year, the congressman has tried to keep the focus on his work in Washington.

But this week, he resurrected an old 2009 state budget argument against Cain, saying she voted to “increase your fees and to increase your boat registration cost.”

Eagle-eyed observers will remember this argument from Poliquin’s 2014 primary against Kevin Raye. The problem is that it ignores crucial context, which I handled in a Portland Press Herald fact-check two years ago.

These changes were in a state budget, supported in the Senate by all but two Republicans. David Trahan, who is now the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, backed it as a Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife budget fix.

For her part, Cain has also been hammering on a well-worn attack: Poliquin’s use of “a tax loophole to get out of paying property taxes.” That issue also demands re-explanation, as it has dogged Poliquin since 2012, during his stint as state treasurer.

He owns a 12-acre oceanfront estate in coastal Georgetown, valued by the town at $3.4 million, and he once had 10 acres of the property in a state tax-break program aimed at protecting commercial forestries, even though a deed restriction largely prohibits timber harvesting on his property.

Poliquin’s was cited in a 2009 state report as an example of “problematic enrollment.” He wasn’t penalized and broke no law, but he pulled out of that program in 2012 and was paying the full share of taxes on the rest of the property. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits
  • Does Trump have a path to victory through Maine? The New York Times noodled on potential Electoral College maps making for a Trump victory, with one having the one elector from Maine’s 2nd District pulling him to a 270-268 victory over Clinton. To do that, he’d have to lose Pennsylvania and win five other swing states, so the map is unlikely. But polling has shown that Trump could have an edge in the 2nd District, even though Maine has never split its presidential vote.
  • House Speaker Mark Eves continues his listening tour on aging issues with a stop in Harpswell on Wednesday. The outgoing Democrat from North Berwick will visit the Elijah Kellogg Church from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight. He has stopped previously in Auburn and Kennebunk on the tour, which looks tailor-made to elevate his political profile and counter Gov. Paul LePage.
  • Speaking of LePage, his South Paris town hall is tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.
Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • It’s too hot for this: A man in Portland’s West End was “looking to start the weekend with a cutie worth canoodlin’,” suggesting ordering some food and hanging out “in our skivvies” in the 92-degree heat. But my apartment has been too hot for human-to-human contact lately.
  • Preteen dream: “Did you mean to play footsie under the table with me at the party Sunday?” a Westbrook man asks. Probably not. Here’s your soundtrack.
  • Good misdirection: “LOOKING FOR STRIPPERS,” an ad blares. Unfortunately, it’s not as funny as I’d hoped — just a writer researching a story on strippers. — Michael Shepherd

LePage allowed to pay lawyer $5,000 to fight potential $500 fine

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Gov. Paul LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills. (BDN file)

Attorney General Janet Mills’ office has given Gov. Paul LePage permission to pay a lawyer up to $5,000 to defend him in an open-meeting lawsuit filed by Mills.

The maximum penalty if the Republican governor loses? $500.

The LePage administration’s request to hire Bangor-based municipal lawyer Erik Stumpfel for no more than $5,000 was granted in a Tuesday letter from Deputy Attorney General Susan Herman to Avery Day, the governor’s top in-house lawyer.

It revolves around an April meeting of a state commission on education funding at the Blaine House where staffers barred members of the public from entering. Records first obtained by MPBN from Mills’ office show staffers discussing five days before the meeting that LePage himself wanted “no press” at all.

Executive branch staff wrote that Maine Department of Education head Bill Beardsley suggested allowing select reporters in, but LePage also rejected that. At one point, the messages say he suggested hiring someone to “write up an account” of the meeting.

After concerns were raised by Mills’ office on the day of the meeting, messages between staffers show that LePage invited meeting participants to leave if they were “uncomfortable” and nobody did. Beardsley has since told MPBN that closing the meeting was his mistake and that future meetings will be open.

Mills, a Democrat, immediately called the meeting a violation of Maine law, which requires public notice and access for public proceedings. But it only carries a civil penalty of no more than $500. Because Mills’ office would defend the state in a normal access lawsuit, outside counsel is needed.

LePage noted that maximum fine is $500 at a town hall meeting where he broke the news of Mills’ suit, saying, “Give me a break.” The governor and attorney general have been top foils during their time in office.

Then, Mills’ spokesman called the suit, which is still awaiting an initial hearing in Kennebec County court, “self-explanatory.”

Is our outlandish, consequential presidential campaign too far-fetched for Hollywood?

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Today’s presidential politics is so odd that, if it was a movie, the plot and characters would be unbelievable.

The Republican Party nominee, Donald Trump, is a reality television star who tweets insults and claims a former rival’s father might have been involved with murdering President John F. Kennedy. His source for this bizarre charge is a tabloid found at supermarket checkouts.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party nominee, has worked on children’s issues and health policy for decades. She went up against the only declared socialist in Congress in her party’s nominating contest, and this week a small band of his strongest supporters protested in the streets, shouting vulgar slogans and carrying a giant paper mache marijuana joint.

While the runner up to Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, wouldn’t endorse him, Bernie Sanders supports Clinton and touts her policies and temperament.

This is not a year for boring conventions, although nothing can top what the great cynic-pundit-journalist H. L. Mencken said about the boisterous 1924 Republican assembly.

“For there is something about a national convention that makes it as fascinating as a revival or a hanging,” Mencken wrote. “It is vulgar, it is ugly, it is stupid, it is tedious, it is hard upon both the higher cerebral centers and the gluteus maximus, and yet it is somehow charming. One sits through long sessions wishing heartily that all the delegates and alternates were dead and in hell — and then suddenly there comes a show so gaudy and hilarious, so melodramatic and obscene, unimaginably exhilarating and preposterous that one lives a gorgeous year in an hour.”

We’ll probably never have a convention like that, with 103 ballots needed to pick a nominee, but parts of Mencken’s description still apply this year.

This year Democrats adopted a proposal to change the nomination system. After the Maine Democratic Party Convention and Democrats in other states passed resolutions to modify future rules, the national convention adopted a plan for a commission to reduce greatly the number of superdelegates.

Jessica Griffin | Philadelphia Inquirer | TNS

This does not mean all was calm. Some Sanders delegates went beyond touting their preferred candidate and booed others or chanted in a disruptive way, even after Sanders himself told them, “Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays.” However, unity increased as the first night went on and nationally 90 percent of consistent Sanders backers support Clinton.

Democrats faced another challenge after Wikileaks released hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. These emails showed some inappropriate attitudes among party staff and one appalling idea, to make an issue of Bernie Sanders’ religion. However, no one carried out that terrible proposal and there were no actions uncovered in the hacked documents that affected how any primary or caucus went. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was replaced as the Democratic National Committee chair.

But this political season’s peculiarities should not obscure the seriousness of the choice.

While the Libertarian and Green Party candidates will get some votes, either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president. Either Republican Mike Pence or Democrat Tim Kaine will be our next vice president.

Donald Trump promotes authoritarianism by presenting himself as an all powerful leader and by threatening past political rivals. His running mate is strongly homophobic and anti-choice. Both are anti-union and oppose the minimum wage.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s slogan is “Stronger Together,” and she has a long history of working in a bipartisan way on many policy issues. Her running mate, Tim Kaine, whom Angus King suggested Clinton choose, fought housing discrimination before entering politics and, as governor of Virginia, led the state to be ranked first for business.

Perhaps the oddest development this week was troubling and worthy of a spy flick — the Russian government’s connection to hacked DNC documents. As The New York Times reported, “Researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year.” Donald Trump’s top advisor, Paul Manafort, has close connections to pro-Russian leaders in the region.

Nothing quite trumps the bizarre possibility that a foreign government is trying to affect an American election, another preposterous plot element for an overdramatic movie.

A Maine Democrat’s day in the national convention spotlight

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from downtown Gardiner, where it’s already hot and I’m feeling the effects of a sunburn from a weekend on Webb Pond in Hancock County.

But I’ll power through, because it’s my job to tell you about the Maine delegation feeling the Bern in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention.

The roll call vote to nominate Hillary Clinton will start tonight, but Maine’s delegation is heavy with supporters of Bernie Sanders, the progressive underdog who has endorsed Clinton.

He’s trying to quell an uprising from some angry supporters at the convention, where he spoke last night. I wrote yesterday about how Maine Republicans are following Republican nominee Donald Trump in trying to stoke Democratic division between the Clinton and Sanders camps.

But one of yesterday’s loudest voices of unity was state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, a Sanders delegate who was picked to speak on behalf of his campaign in support of rules watering down the party’s system of “superdelegates” — the party officials who can vote for any candidate at the national convention.

It was a fight that began with a rule change at the state convention that spread to 18 other states and got Russell a mention in leaked emails from Democratic National Committee officials, one of whom called the Maine change a “lunacy.”

Still, Russell put her best unified face on for the speech on Monday evening, which came just over a month after she was dealt a devastating loss by fellow Rep. Ben Chipman in a Maine Senate primary after a nasty campaign.

“Whether you support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, we are all in this together and we will all have a voice in the Clinton administration,” she said.

But we’ll see if this extends to the rest of the Maine delegation. A Vermont reporter said Maine’s delegation was “feistiest” at a breakfast meeting with other New England Democrats today and Sanders’ name is expected to be placed in nomination.

He won’t win, but it could provide his supporters with an opportunity for a last stand. We’ll see if Maine is on the edge of it. — Michael Shepherd

Legislative races set in stone after replacement deadline

Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for Maine’s political parties to replace legislative primary winners who later withdrew from their races. Of the 35 Republican and Democratic candidates who withdrew, just 24 were replaced.

Among the notable replacements and omissions were:

  • Former U.S. Rep. David Emery, a Republican from Tenant’s Harbor, who will face Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, in a bid to be the first former member of Congress since 1880 to return to the Maine Legislature.
  • Retired University of Maine at Farmington President Theodora Kalikow is entering the political arena as a Democrat to challenge freshman Rep. Karen Vachon, R-Scarborough.
  • In a win for Democrats, Lewiston Police Chief William Welch wasn’t replaced with another Republican after dropping out of his race against Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, who barely won his seat in 2014. The Maine Ethics Commission has said Welch falsified signatures to qualify for public financing.
  • Former Rep. Jane Pringle, D-Windham, dropped out of a race for her old seat and wasn’t replaced, locking up a second term for freshman Rep. Patrick Corey, R-Windham.
  • Democrats won’t challenge Sen. Kimberley Rosen, R-Bucksport, after Emery Deabay of Bucksport dropped out.

A note for you data nerds: We’re going to update our Senate and House maps later today to reflect open seats and new candidates. Expect some changes. — Michael Shepherd 

Quick hits
  • Gov. Paul LePage’s office has asked Attorney General Janet Mills for $5,000 to fight her Freedom of Access Act case against the administration, according to Paul Merrill of WMTW. LePage’s spokeswoman and top attorney haven’t responded to requests for comment on this issue from the Bangor Daily News since Friday. Mills’ office didn’t respond to a Monday message. The first court hearing in the case was scheduled for yesterday, but it was postponed.
  • LePage is sparring with the Legislature’s top Democrat again, this time over private road washouts in Somerset County, according to the Morning Sentinel. Flash flooding in June damaged private access roads to more than 100 camps off of U.S. Route 201 between The Forks and Jackman. House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, asked LePage for emergency help, to which the governor responded with a letter saying he would call the Legislature back to pass a funding bill, but only if House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, agrees. They’ve sparred over LePage’s past calls for a special session. But Rep. Larry Dunphy, U-Embden, told the Sentinel that public funding for private roads could set a bad precedent. Here’s your soundtrack.
  • LePage will visit South Paris for his next town hall meeting on Wednesday. It’ll be at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Michael Shepherd
Reading list Randy Quaid’s ‘Bernie or bust’

In one of the highlights of Monday’s Democratic convention, comedian Sarah Silverman — who supported Sanders in the primary — admonished protesting Sanders supporters upset over Clinton , telling “Bernie or bust” people that “you’re being ridiculous.”

No one told actor Randy Quaid, who began living in Vermont under bizarre circumstances last year. In a video posted to Twitter, he said he was “glad as hell” for the Democratic National Committee email leaks, saying Sanders “must disavow” his Clinton endorsement.

“Hell no, Bernie!” he said. “We won’t vote for Email-llary!”

It’s just the kind of cogent analysis we need from Cousin Eddie in a 2016, after Chachi’s speech at the Republican convention. I’d pay to see that panel discussion on the Sunday shows. — Michael Shepherd

Rep. Russell celebrates superdelegate win, preaches unity in DNC address

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Speaking to the delegates of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia yesterday, Maine State Representative Diane Russell celebrated the success of her resolution to bind superdelegates to state votes in future elections.

“We are united, and fixing the super-delegate system is the path to making sure our party is the strongest party, not just this fall, but in the generations to come,” said Russell, a prominent supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders who helped lead the movement to change the Democratic primary process.

She also reminded the crowd of the stakes of the November election.

“Paul LePage is my governor. I do not need to see anyone like him become the president of this United States,” she said. “Despite any differences we may hold, we all know in our heart of hearts, a Donald Trump presidency will not just hurt our Party, it will hurt our people, and I am not OK with that.”

“I will always stand strong with Bernie Sanders and will also do everything I can this fall to elect Hillary so that we have a Democrat in the White House. It is time to get to work on building a higher minimum wage, on expanding Social Security, on ensuring equal pay for women, and on making sure that the next generation is not saddled with the same level of student debt that my generation is,” said Russell, who lost her primary bid for a state senate seat last month.

Russell also quoted Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter, which has garnered even more national attention for her speech.

Uproar in Philly doesn’t reflect most Sanders backers

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

There’s uproar in the streets of Philadelphia, as pro-Sanders protestors carry signs, giant paper mache marijuana joints and shout (sometimes vulgar) slogans.

And today, when Sen. Bernie Sanders held a meeting with delegates, some booed when he said they should support Hillary Clinton.

But how representative are these individuals of people who voted and caucused for Sanders?

Although polls vary, public opinion surveys are consistently showing consolidation of Sanders supporters for Hillary Clinton.

As seen in an analysis just put out by the Pew Research Center, one of the best pollsters in the U.S., 90% of consistent Sanders supporters back Clinton.

Loud voices don’t necessarily represent groups as a whole.

And who are these voters?

They’re not just Democrats but also independents who supported Clinton.

Moreover, they have particular demographic characteristics.

So, although it’s possible that these voters will end up not supporting Clinton in the general election, this poll and others suggest that only a small percentage of Sanders backers haven’t and thus won’t in November.

 

 

How Maine’s Democratic delegation is making noise in Philly

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Portland. This weekend, we told you why Maine’s Bernie Sanders-heavy delegation matters at the Democratic National Convention, starting this week, in Philadelphia. Today, we’ll tell you how they’ve been on the edge of anti-establishment dissent so far.

The convention, where Hillary Clinton will be nominated to run against Republican Donald Trump in November, hasn’t started smoothly.

WikiLeaks released a trove of Democratic National Committee emails that showed leaders smack-talking Sanders and his supporters, and party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said yesterday that she’d step down, something that Sanders has long called for.

In a statement to the Portland Press Herald, Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett, a Clinton delegate, called the resignation “absolutely appropriate and will enable our party to move forward.”

“She should have resigned a long time ago,” said National Committeeman Troy Jackson of Allagash, a Sanders supporter. “It would have instilled more confidence in both Clinton and Sanders supporters. Good riddance, big time.”

Under this backdrop, Clinton has been trying to unify the party with a host of concessions to Sanders supporters. Chief among those was a change in the rules around “superdelegates,” the party officials who can vote for either candidate at the national convention and make up 15 percent of delegates.

A change passed this weekend would bind two-thirds of superdelegates — all but governors, members of Congress and party leaders — to state totals.

The issue was pushed by state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, who floated a rules committee amendment at the convention that would have abolished superdelegates. That came after Maine became the first of 19 states to make a state rule change weakening superdelegates’ impact in 2020 and beyond.

That earlier change got Russell a mention in one of the WikiLeaks emails. DNC Vice Chair Donna Brazile — who will replace Wasserman Schultz in the interim until after the election — called it a “lunacy.”

But so far, the Maine delegation has helped win some major changes. They even got a minor one on Sunday, when the Sanders delegation won a minor challenge on the DNC’s credential committee. That allowed it to seat Diane Denk of Kennebunk after a dispute over the Maine delegation’s gender balance.

“Not like getting our country back,” said Sanders delegate Seth Berner on Facebook. “But it is hard to exaggerate how few of these battles are won by the little people – the machine routinely rolls over truth and law.” — Michael Shepherd

Rural lawmakers look to fix energy rebate law

A group of Democratic legislators is seeking to “correct” a bill aimed at lowering energy costs for energy-intensive manufacturers, but not those connected to the northern Maine electrical grid.

Rep. Robert Saucier, D-Presque Isle, said Friday that he would introduce a bill to allow representatives from most of Aroostook and Washington counties to ask regulators for rebates.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission ruled last week that the law as written includes only the ISO New England power grid, largely leaving out Aroostook and Washington counties.

Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford, a member of the Legislature’s energy committee, told regulators before their decision that committee members did not intend to include those parts of northern Maine, as they don’t pay into a regional greenhouse gas auction that supplies the $3 million.

Rep. Robert Alley, D-Beals, said he would support Saucier’s effort to “correct” the bill. Alley, Saucier and another lawmaker who told the BDN he was surprised by the exclusion of northern Maine — Rep. Roland Danny Martin, D-Sinclair — all voted in support of overriding a veto from Gov. Paul LePage to pass the bill. — Darren Fishell

Quick hits Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • Be-cuddled Bangor: Because there’s nowhere you’d rather be than in a stranger’s arms, a Bangor man is “growing experienced in cuddling and would like to share my awareness and intuitive goodness,” whatever that is. Two others in Bangor are also starting a “platonic cuddle service.” It’ll be a paid service soon, but they’re free for now because they “need to experience peoples requests.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • Bargain bae: A man saw a woman buying sandals behind him in line at Marden’s in Scarborough and he’s already charmed: “You’re already scoring bonus points deal hunting at Mardens in my book!” — Michael Shepherd

What did Maine’s Cruz delegates think of Trump’s speech?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from my apartment in Gardiner, where I was up late watching Donald Trump accept the Republican presidential nomination. He said America is increasingly threatened by crime and terrorism and he’s the only one who can fix it.

But the context-free picture he painted was far bleaker than reality. The New York Times, Washington Post and Associated Press all have useful fact-checks that lay those problems out well. For example, homicides are down by half since 1991.

Trump had a difficult job at the convention. His chief primary rival, Ted Cruz, delivered a Wednesday speech in which he didn’t endorse Trump and eventually got booed off the stage. Earlier this week, he fended off an uprising from “Never Trump” delegates, some of whom were in Maine’s Cruz-heavy delegation.

But Thursday’s speech was a chance to mend those relationships and appeal to the religious conservatives who make up Cruz’s wing of the party and have been wary of the boastful, thrice-married Trump, who has been on the cover of Playboy and jawed about his sex life with Howard Stern over the years.

Based on reactions from Maine’s Cruz delegates, the speech landed.

State Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon Falls, said he was encouraged when Trump said he’d try to repeal the Johnson amendment, a provision prohibiting churches and other nonprofits that have tax-exempt status from endorsing political candidates.

Religious groups have long targeted that, and Crafts said churches have a First Amendment right to “say what they believe” from the pulpit and “I hope it happens soon.”

Rep. Stacey Guerin, R-Glenburn, said “general feeling on the convention floor last night was that Trump had an excellent presentation,” highlighting the portion in which Trump said he’d appoint conservative Supreme Court justices in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia.

“Supreme Court nominations are my No. 1 deciding factor in supporting Donald Trump,” Guerin said.

State Sen. Eric Brakey, a libertarian-minded Republican from Auburn who initially supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, said he was “glad” to see Trump criticize the Bush and Obama administrations’ interventionist foreign policy.

Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, said Trump “hit every note he needed to hit,” sounding “presidential” while remaining the outsider that romped to a surprising victory in the primaries.

“He outlined a vision of an America that wins and stays true to her creed,” he said. — Michael Shepherd 

Angus King loves Clinton’s likely VP pick. Progressives don’t.

Over on the Democratic side, Maine’s newly minted Hillary Clinton endorser, independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, threw his support behind Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine in the vice presidential sweepstakes.

Clinton is expected to announce her pick today. Signs are pointing to Kaine, according to The New York Times. He’s a centrist, Spanish-speaking ex-governor criticized by some as a boring pick. However, that may not be bad as an antidote to Trump.

King, however, would not be bored by the pick. He wrote an entertaining piece in The Daily Beast on Thursday listing “15 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Tap Tim Kaine.”

They ranged from his extensive experience in government and his “completely unpretentious and un-pompous” personality. Three of the reasons were, “He would make an excellent president, if the circumstances demanded it,” which King said is “far and away the most important criterion.”

But progressives, including state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, are not happy after Kaine signed onto a letter this week urging bank regulators to “prevent any unintended consequences that negatively impact community banks and credit unions.” It didn’t call for specific rollbacks, but progressives took it to mean that.

Russell backed Clinton opponent Bernie Sanders and she’s leading an uphill push to abolish party “superdelegates” starting Saturday in the Rules Committee ahead of next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

She sent out a Thursday press release calling the potential vice presidential nominee “Tim ‘Big Banks’ Kaine,” linking his consideration to her rules push.

“It’s a perfect example of why the party needs to create policies and pick candidates who reflect the will of the voters, not the will of elites and special interests that the superdelegate system has come to embody,” she said. — Michael Shepherd 

Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • Those are all parts of the day: “[I like] getting stoned in the morning, I like getting stoned in the afternoon,” says an “older male stoner” in Lewiston or Auburn seeking “another male stoner” for one particular activity. “I like getting stoned in the evening and I especially like getting stoned at night.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • It’s funnier without context: “I have a large truck load of horse crap in my barn,” says somebody in Parkman.
  • He doesn’t read the Daily Brief: “I am SO tired of being lied-to and treated like someone without a brain by the media and by politicians,” says a self-described “grouchy and cynical” man. We’d never lie to you at the DB. Subscribe here— Michael Shepherd

Rep. Poliquin’s two-faced approach to Trump

Mike Tipping - Bangor Daily News -

Rep. Bruce Poliquin – BDN|John Clarke Russ

“I don’t get involved in the presidential election,” Maine Second-District Representative Bruce Poliquin told reporters yesterday, again refusing to answer questions from the media about his support for his party’s nominee for President, or even mention Trump’s name in public.

But that statement isn’t quite accurate. Poliquin is willing to speak about the presidential election and his support for Donald Trump, but only to select audiences.

In May, he told a group of conservative activists at a gathering at the Portland Yacht Club that not only did he think Trump would be elected, but that he looked forward to personally helping a Trump administration implement policy.

Now it seems that’s not the only time Poliquin has backed Trump when speaking to a friendly audience. According to Androscoggin County Republican Committee Vice Chair Jason Greene, Poliquin has sung Trump’s praises on multiple other occasions.

“It is old news that Rep. Poliquin is supporting Trump,” said Greene on Twitter last night. “I’ve heard him say [Trump’s name] dozens of times, and I can’t afford to belong to a yacht club.”

Greene says Poliquin frequently offers “words of support” for Trump at Republican meetings. The former GOP State Committee member also says he disagrees with Poliquin’s public dissembling on the issue.

“I think it’s a mistake that he’s creating the appearance that he’s distancing himself from Trump. Bad strategy.” said Greene.

Poliquin is playing a cynical game here, saying one thing to conservative activists whose support and labor he needs in this election, and presenting another face to the general public. It’s not clear how long his divided house can stand, given the increasing pressure from reporters seeking a straightforward answer to a basic question and the fact that his pro-Trump allies also seem to be catching on.

Is Trump getting a negative bounce from the GOP convention?

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Donald Trump speaks at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire Rick Wilking | Reuters

The Republican National Convention has been tough for Donald Trump.

  • Coverage of the first day focused on plagiarism in Melania Trump’s speech.
  • Coverage of the second day focused on authoritarian elements of various speeches and more about the plagiarism.
  • Coverage of the third day has focused so far on Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump and him being booed, with some discussion of Trump’s interview with the New York Times in which he said he wouldn’t necessarily defend our NATO allies.

Has this hurt Trump in the eye of the public?

Typically candidates get a bit of a bounce from their party convention, a several percentage point boost in public opinion polls.

While it’s still early, the two polls out so far that include some of the convention time are not good for Trump.

In the Rasmussen poll, Trump went from + 7 to +1. Last week’s poll was Trump 44%-Clinton 37%. This week’s poll is Trump 43%-Clinton 42%. Rasmussen is a pollster with a clear tendency to favor Republicans more than other pollsters.

In the Los Angeles Times poll, the race went from a tie to +3 Clinton. The last poll had both Trump and Clinton at 43%. It’s now Clinton 43%-Trump 40%.

While it is very unusual for a nominee to lose ground during the presidential nominating convention, these two polls can only be suggestive.

They may be outliers. Even with this rough start, tonight’s speech by Donald Trump may help him.

Additional polls will tell more.

Looking forward to next week, we can expect Hillary Clinton to run a more professional campaign and her primary opponent has already endorsed her. So, while no one can predict what will happen for sure, it’s pretty likely she’ll receive a normal convention bounce.

 

Will Maine-led superdelegate challenge gain traction at Democratic convention?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta. The big story Wednesday from Day 3 of the Republican National Convention was the speech from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in which he didn’t endorse former presidential rival Donald Trump, the party’s nominee.

The convention erupted in boos after it became apparent that there wouldn’t be an endorsement, Trump ended up going onto the floor before Cruz was done in an apparent attempt to take back the spotlight.

I’m not sure there are any winners here. The most apt observation came from Marc Caputo of POLITICO:

“Men like Ted Cruz, if you call them liars and insult their wives, will stab you right in the front at the right time in front of the nation.”

But while the Republican convention will wind down on Thursday, the Democrats are gearing up for their own convention next week in Philadelphia, and an extension of a Maine-led challenge to the party’s superdelegate rules will play out this weekend.

At the state convention in May, Maine was the first state to pass a rule change that would blunt the impact of superdelegates — the Democratic officials who make up 15 percent of presidential delegates but aren’t assigned to a particular candidate, unlike normal delegates — in future elections.

At least 17 other states followed. The changes were supported by Democratic underdog Bernie Sanders, who blamed superdelegates for stacking the deck against him in the race against Hillary Clinton, who will be nominated next week.

She would have won the nomination numerically without them, but you can argue that they helped create and air of inevitability around her election.

In Maine, the rule change would make Maine’s five superdelegates disclose their preference by the state convention, allowing the party to reallocate the rest of the delegates according to the statewide vote.

But the national fight against superdelegates will begin at the convention’s Rules Committee meeting on Saturday, where NBC News reported that 43 of the committee’s 187 members have backed an amendment floated on behalf of Maine state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, that would abolish superdelegates.

That’s not enough to change the rules, but the issue could be in for a floor fight and it could put Maine’s delegation in the spotlight next week. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits Reading list Convention stunner

After all, this is Trump’s Republican National Convention, so Scott Baio and one of those guys from “Duck Dynasty” were invited to speak. But Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, a Cruz delegate, was around for a behind-the-scenes moment.

After meeting Maine native and UFC President Dana White, who spoke at the convention on Tuesday, Mason posted on Facebook that he was around when WWE mogul and two-time Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon came up to White and introduced herself.

In honor of that, here’s a long video of the time McMahon drank beers with and was eventually (and badly) stunned by Stone Cold Steve Austin. Here’s a short version. And because I couldn’t leave you without one, here’s your soundtrack— Michael Shepherd

Our political parties are based more and more on absurd tribalism

Matt Gagnon - Bangor Daily News -

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire is a fascinating moment in world history. Yet, the Roman Empire did not cease to exist in 476 as most people believe. Rome had long before been split into two administrative divisions — a Western, Latin Empire and an Eastern, Greek Empire.

Rome’s obliteration as we think of it today was, in reality, an event that occurred only in the west. The Eastern Empire lived on, and became what we today call the Byzantine Empire, though its government and citizens continued to call themselves Romans. That empire survived in some form for another thousand years.

The greatest Byzantine Emperor was Justinian I, who undertook a mission to reconstitute the full Roman Empire once more. He succeeded in recapturing much of Rome’s former territory, which had been lost in the preceding decades.

Justinian’s time — particularly his early reign — was an interesting one. The Empire he led could not be called a democracy, yet in the capital city of Constantinople — today known as Istanbul — an interesting brand of factional mass politics had developed, which organized citizens of the city into powerful mobs that stood in opposition to one another.

These factions, however, were not organized around politics, but around sporting events, particularly the Roman passion that was chariot racing.

I won’t bore you with the particulars of Byzantine sport fandom, but essentially, competitors in sporting events were organized into four teams represented by the color uniform they wore: Green, Blue, Red and White.

These teams each had mass support from major portions of Constantinople’s citizenry, creating large factions. The supporters of each of these teams would themselves wear the same colors.

By Justinian’s time, the Reds and the Whites had lost nearly all of their influence, and sport was dominated by Greens and Blues, creating a bipolar universe of tribal affiliation.

The Greens and Blues became, however, an expression of more than sports fandom. Lacking any kind of democratic power or outlet for mass opinion, these factions grew to dominate civic life as well, organizing around social and political issues. They exerted control over local governance of neighborhoods, religious disputes, and the distribution of food. They even involved themselves in disputes over claimants to the throne.

There was virtually nothing in the everyday life of a resident of Constantinople that wasn’t affected by the struggle between the Greens and the Blues. They were political parties.

You may think that these factions actually meant something. That they organized themselves into Green or Blue based on real issues. Supporting imperial power versus fighting for republicanism. Support for merchants versus support for farmers. Opposing taxes to fund Justinian’s wars of conquest versus support for the state.

Something. Anything.

You would be wrong. For more than seven centuries, entire generations of people would live and die by their affiliation with Greens or Blues, and at their core there was nothing substantive that differed between them, outside mutual antipathy and opposition to one another.

If the Greens dominated civic life, things in Constantinople wouldn’t have looked much different than if the Blues controlled the city. The factional affiliations with Green or Blue was little more than tribal politics, but that was enough for the millions throughout history who devote themselves wholly to one faction or the other.

Delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mario Anzuoni | Reuters

This week we are living through the absurd spectacle of tribal politics at its worst, as Republicans gather in Cleveland for their convention. We will soon be treated to an equally absurd spectacle when the Democrats come together in Philadelphia.

I have worked in politics for more than 15 years now, and I have always been a Republican. I joined the party because I believe strongly in a specific political ideology, and I viewed the party as an imperfect vessel through which to advance that ideology.

Being a libertarian-minded fusionist, the party never matched my beliefs totally, but I knew it was the closest, and my best chance to get something accomplished.

Yet, over time, I have grown more disgusted with the very notion of parties at all, regardless of their stated principles. Particularly this year as I have seen millions of people in both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party stand in favor of things on their own side that they have violently opposed in “the other faction” in the past.

Like the Greens and the Blues, they may, in the short term, exhibit some marginal differences in rhetoric, but at the end of the day, the partisan food fight is more tribal in nature and less about substance.

Is it any wonder George Washington warned us against this?

Authoritarianism and fear at the Trumpian GOP convention

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, in March. Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Has there ever been a scarier, more authoritarian vision of politics than the one shown at the Republican convention in Cleveland? If so, I can’t remember it.

The convention’s first night, dedicated to the theme of Make America Safe Again, promoted the ideas that crime has risen, immigrants are criminals and Clinton and Obama were part of dark deeds associated with American deaths.

In reality, crime is down in the U.S., immigrants are overwhelmingly law-abiding and the Benghazi attack has been investigated eight times and the fevered conspiracies have all been debunked.

On the second night, which was purportedly focused on the economy, there was almost no talk of jobs or anything that most American families grapple with around their kitchen tables.

Authoritarianism reared its head with the criminalization of political opposition.

Gov. Chris Christie, worst of all, led the audience in a faux prosecution of Hillary Clinton.

He listed a series of events that he claimed she bore personal responsibility for which were nearly all policy decisions, and asked the crowd if she was innocent or guilty. The audience shouted “guilty” and broke into chants about sending her to jail.

As a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard who compared this to a “show trial,” noted:

[O]ne of the worries about Trump is that he’s an aspiring strongman with authoritarian impulses who’s leading a bizarre cult of personality led by unpleasant, angry people.

I suspect that anyone with those concerns about Trump probably had them fed by Christie’s performance.

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said it sounded, “a little banana republican,” adding that “in this country” “we don’t lock up our political opponents.”

Trump has said he would ask his Attorney General consider whether Clinton should be indicted and prosecuted and Christie is widely believed to be a potential Trump administration Attorney General.

That, along with Christie’s comments, the crowd response and the touting of Trump as a strong leader who can save the nation, had distinctly authoritarian overtones.

Authoritarianism also grew out of the fear that America is not respected.

To the speakers and those who cheered them, the world doesn’t respect the U.S.

in reality, surveys show that, under President Obama, other countries’ respect for America has gone up.

As Pew found:

In Europe, majorities in nine of 10 countries surveyed express confidence in Obama’s ability to handle international issues, including fully 93% in Sweden and 91% in the Netherlands. Only the Greeks have a negative opinion of the U.S. leader (58% little or no confidence). . . 

Obama also enjoys high ratings from Canadians (83%) and Australians (84%). Elsewhere in Asia, the U.S. president is viewed positively by majorities in Japan (78%) and India (58%). Even in China, 52% have confidence in his abilities to handle international affairs. [source]

Moreover, people around the world lack confidence in Donald Trump, not Obama or Clinton.

Just look at those numbers. While Europeans have very high levels of confidence in Obama and, to a lesser extent in Clinton, only 9% of them have confidence in Trump.

In fact, 85% have no confidence in Trump, compared to just 22% saying that about Obama and just 27% saying that about Clinton.

But such facts mean nothing to convention speakers who seem more like right wing talk show hosts than responsible leaders.

Authoritarianism grows out of fear, fear of the other and fear of opponents who disagree on policy but somehow might be hiding their criminality, treason and malice.

The fear and authoritarianism at the convention played to the most far-right base, rather than reaching out to moderates, whether in the party or not.

Ethics panel considering more sanctions against Portland lawmaker

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where the Maine Ethics Commission has convened with Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland on its agenda.

Russell, a four-term legislator who lost a three-way primary to run for a Maine Senate seat in June, is headed out of public office at the end of this year. Among other things, she is known as a potent political fundraiser, thanks in part to a 130,000-name email list she has developed that she uses to advocate for various causes and raise money.

The ethics commission voted in June to investigate whether Russell’s use of the list for her Senate run constitute an in-kind contribution that she should have reported. Commission staff summarized the case in a new filing on Tuesday but did not recommend a set financial penalty.

“You may feel that a penalty is unnecessary because it was an easy mistake for the candidate not to recognize that contact information for like-minded political activists that she has personally cultivated through a free service (MoveOn.org) was an in-kind contribution, as she has argued,” wrote the commission staff.

A number of individuals and organizations have been fined by the commission before for late filings. They have ranged up to $600 for individuals and up to $2,000 for political action committees.

In fact, that $2,000 penalty was assessed in 2015 on the Working Families PAC, which Russell runs, because it omitted more than $1,200 in expenditures for more than a year. The PAC also paid another $2,100 in fines in 2015 for failure to file reports.

The Working Families PAC is back on the ethics commission’s agenda this morning because of a complaint filed by Portland resident Michael Hiltz, who lives outside the district but has links to Rep. Ben Chipman, a former Green Independent Party member who won the Democratic Senate primary.

The commission, which has several other matters involving filing violations on its agenda, convened at 9 a.m. Watch bangordailynews.com for coverage.

Also on the docket in Augusta today is the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which is considering Gov. Paul LePage’s nomination of Frederick C. Oettinger of Penobscot to the Maine Human Righs Commission. That hearing begins at 10 a.m. and there is little indication that there is any controversy around Oettinger’s nomination. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Portland woman on national TV: Portland actor Jenny Anastasoff will appear in a national television advertisement on MSNBC Thursday during the Republican National Convention, when Donald Trump is scheduled to speak. As reported by the BDN’s Troy R. Bennett, the commercial will highlight the lack of state and federal nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. It is also scheduled to appear during the Democratic National Convention next week.
  • Blue Ribbon education commission: The Blue Ribbon education commission, which caused controversy when its first meeting was held privately at the Blaine House, was supposed to meet in June, but that meeting was rescheduled and the Department of Education said at the time it would be rescheduled for July, even though Gov. Paul LePage once vowed to pull the executive branch out of it. The meeting has so far not been rescheduled but a DOE spokesman said this morning that Deputy Commissioner Bill Beardsley is working on setting a date.
  • Election news: Former U.S. Rep. David Emery has been nominated by the Knox County Republican Committee to run for the Maine Senate District 12, which covers most of Knox County. Emery, who is also a former member of the Maine House, will replace Wendy Pelletier, who withdrew from the race on July 11, on the ballot. Emery will face incumbent Democratic Sen. David Miramant for the seat.
  • Dam removal: Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has announced a $393,000 federal grant that will help pay for the removal of a dam on the Sheepscot River in Whitefield. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s grant to the Atlantic Salmon Federation is aimed at the Cooper’s Mills Dam, the removal of which will cost $800,000, and allow better passage of Atlantic salmon, herring, and other fish.
  • Puppy-kicking case continued: A case against Michael Hein of Augusta for allegedly kicking a puppy last November on the Kennebec River Rail Trail has been continued, according to the Kennebec Journal. The dispositional hearing has not yet been rescheduled. Hein is the former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine
  • Business tour: Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin will visit the Tasman Leather Tannery in Hartland and Newport Industrial Fabrication, Inc. today. — Christopher Cousins
Reading list Semi-charmed kind of trolling

Remember the 1990s rock band Third Eye Blind? How could you not. Their song “Semi-Charmed Life” has been on the radio about a billion times, conservatively.

Not so conservative is the band itself, apparently. The band is making headlines today for a concert it hosted Tuesday in Cleveland, the site of the Republican National Convention. Singer Stephen Jenkins targeted convention goers in the crowd by discussing his gay cousins and the band’s rejection the Republican party’s anti-LGBT platform, according to The Daily Beast.

“To love this song is to take into your heart the message, and to actually, actually, have a feeling to arrive and move forward, and not live your life in fear, and imposing that fear on other people,” said Jenkins to a chorus of boos. The band then played another of its hits, “Jumper,” which is today’s soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

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