Earlier this month, President Trump signed into law a repeal of federal privacy rules preventing your internet service provider from exploiting a broad range of information about your online life without your permission. So what happens now?
I previously reported on the rule repeal when it was still a bill, passed by the Senate (with Sen. Collins' support and Sen. King's opposition) but not yet in the House (where Maine Second District Rep. Bruce Poloquin backed it, and Rep. Chellie Pingree rejected.)
On Tuesday, April 25, I'll be joining Ali Watkins of BuzzFeed News and CNN's Steve Collinson at Colby College to talk about the press in the Trump age, with special reference to the 2016 election.
The event, hosted by Colby's Goldfarb Center, is ay 7pm at the Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building. Should be fascinating, especially as Watkins and Collinson have been covering the administration up close in D.C. It's open the the public.
The event, which kicks off at 3 pm, is free and open to the public. It's in the Viola George Auditorium. Look forward to meeting St. Joseph's students, faculty and staff and readers generally.
Do come if you can. My full event schedule, as always, can be found here. My next public event is a speaking panel at Colby College the following evening, April 25, followed by a keynote at the Q Ideas conference in Nashville Thursday, April 27.
Late last month it became public that President Trump has proposed even deeper cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency than those initially reporter. In this past Sunday's Maine Sunday Telegram, I have a story on how three more proposed cuts and eliminations will play out in Maine, where they would end federal funding for beach water quality monitoring and the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and cut back on funds to clean up Superfund sites like the Callahan Mine in Brockville.
Critics say the cuts will hurt Maine's economy, and they are also getting a cold, unanimous reception from Maine's Congressional delegation, which consists of two Republicans, a Democrat, and an independent.
One of the great mysteries of the 2016 presidential election is how it was that 80 percent of Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, perhaps the most un-family values candidate ever to hold a major party nomination.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Frances Fitzgerald has a whopping thick new history of the Evangelical movement out -- The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America -- and it's got a lot of clues to solving the problem. I outline them in my review of the book for the Washington Post. I think it runs in the Sunday print edition, but it's online now. [Update: 10/20/17: Sunday Outlook section, B6.)
Busy with the launch of my own book and a far-flung project for Politico, my last review for the Post was over a year ago: of Tim Marshall's book on geopolitics, Prisoners of Geography.
[Update: 10/20/17: For those in the Upper Hudson Valley, this review also ran in the Albany Times-Union today. And if you happen to live in the Brazilian state of Parana, I've got you covered in Gazeta do Povo (in Portuguese.)]
The senator's statement was a long, detailed, and hard hitting brief against President Trump's nominee, who he believes will try to return American jurisprudence to its "pre-1935" state, when there were far fewer protections for ordinary people against what we would now call the one percent. Given that King is a pro-business Independent -- and a lawyer by profession -- it's a pretty strong rebuke. It also means Maine's Senators are splitting on the issue, as Republican Susan Collins is supporting the nominee.
As the U.S House's investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election collapsed this week -- and new revelations shook those following closely -- Maine's senators Angus King (I) and Susan Collins (R) expressed renewed confidence that their Senate investigation will get to the bottom of the issues, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Since being elected to represent Maine's second Congressional district, Rep. Bruce Poliquin has had a pretty low profile in the media, largely because he avoids taking public positions on most issues, including even if he supported Donald Trump's candidacy for president, or the North Woods National Monument designation in the heart of his district, or if he would vote to repeal the nation's internet privacy rules on ISPs (he did.)
In today's Portland Press Herald, read about the Republican effort to repeal federal privacy regulations that prevent internet service providers from selling the comprehensive data they can collect about their customer's every move, search, click, view, and geolocation. The repeal passed the Senate this week on party lines, with Maine Sen. Susan Collins voting for repeal, independent Sen. Angus King against.
The surprising thing was when I called two of Maine's best-known homegrown internet service providers to get their take, they both condemned it in no uncertain terms. GWI's Fletcher Kittredge had very strong language and a detailed take on just what was at stake that readers everywhere in the U.S. will want to read.
The repeal goes to the US House this coming week, where Maine Rep Chellie Pingree, D-ME1, is strongly against it, and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-ME2, is, as is often the case, non-commital.
[Update: 3/31/17: The measure passed the House. Poliquin voted for it, Pingree against.]
Federal authorities closed the fishery at 12:01 am yesterday when small boat fishermen hit their 17,000 pound quota for the year. That part is normal. What's surprising: larger vessels had taken more than a million pounds in the same area and the small boat guys were desperately trying to hit the quota to stop large boats from taking more scallops.
Yes, there are different rules at work for two different types of scallop fishermen in the same waters, creating a confusing tension-filled situation that's sparked the close interest of one of Maine's US Senators and US Representatives. Read on in the story to learn more.
Yes, you guessed it: the results match my American Nations map -- which is based on post-1492 settlement flows -- to what even I found to be a jaw dropping degree.
Remember: American Nations isn't based on genetics. It argues there are distinct cultural regions - stateless nations even -- that were created by separate initial settlement patterns. While obviously this would leave a genetic trace, one wouldn't necessarily expect it to be super strong, especially in areas that had substantial subsequent immigration or intra-regional migration. The argument is that the underlying values of the initial settlement culture shaped the region, even in the later absence of the people themselves.
But turns out the genetic signature is strong and precise as well. Check out, for instance, how the New England settlement of Yankeedom left a strong genetic trace not just in New England, southwestern New Brunswick, and Upstate New York, but even in Michigan, which was settled in the early and middle 19th century. (That Utah is part of this genetic clustering does not surprise, given the Yankee origins of the Mormon religion and migration, as discussed in the book.) See also - despite the smaller numbers - the Yankee traces in the Left Coast parts of California, Oregon, and Washington.
Notice also the Appalachian streams: yup, they pour right through the lower parts of the "Midwestern" states, as well as the Ozarks and into Oklahoma and the Texas Hill Country, just as American Nations insisted (much to the chagrin of some in the latter regions.)
There's a lot to unpack here, and am hoping to get a chance to do so in more detail moving forward.
In today's Portland Press Herald, seven reporters and I put together a mammoth breaking news story on the effects of President Trump's proposed budget in Maine. With the president proposing to eliminate low income heating assistance, Meals on Wheels, and federal funding for public broadcasting, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, the University of Maine Sea Grant program, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, and other programs and institutions, it's sobering reading.
The good news: if you're a veteran, work for a military contractor, or would like the nuclear waste stockpiled in Wiscasset to go someplace far away, you'll find some.
The book has a new introduction as well, placing it in the context of Donald Trump's authoritarian-friendly presidency, the very sort of challenge to liberal democracy the book forewarned of.
I'm not doing a paperback book tour, but I have a few upcoming media appearances and public talks, starting with being the guest today on KUER's Radio West -- that's Utah Public Radio -- talking about the book's prequel, American Nations. I'll also be at St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine discussing American Character on April 24 and giving a keynote on the same at the Q Ideas conference in Nashville on April 27.
In today's Maine Sunday Telegram, I write about how critics of President Trump's proposed cuts to the US Environmental Agency fear they will cause significant damage to Maine's environment and economy.
The story includes pushback some or all of the cuts from US Senators Angus King (I) and Susan Collins (R) as well as US Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-ME1). Maine's other US House member, Bruce Poliquin, did not directly comment on the proposed cuts.
The new story reveals that the NOAA cuts also , which would see their federal funding completely eliminated.
On Tuesday, March 14, I'll be joining Maggie Haberman of the New York Times and CNN's Steve Collinson at Colby College to talk about the press in the Trump age, with special reference to the 2016 election.
The event, hosted by Colby's Goldfarb Center, is ay 7pm at the Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building. Should be fascinating, especially as Haberman and Collinson have been covering the administration up close.
The University of Maine is one of the nation's 33 Sea Grant universities, and he marine community is expressing alarm at the proposal, which also effects fisheries management, weather forecasting, and Earth observation from space, including documenting climate change. (The latter a major concern in the Gulf of Maine region.)
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, has long faced charges that she votes on both side of an issue, but it reached a fever pitch over the confirmation of Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who Collins opposed, but voted to let out of committee. Collins has argued that her votes are based on principle, and the procedural ones are often mischaracterized or misunderstood.
So which is it?
In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram, I try to take an empirical approach to finding an answer, analyzing a half dozen prominent cases where she was accused of trying to "have it both ways." The results: her explanations hold water most of the time. Read on for details.
I spent a good chunk of today keeping tabs on Maine's congressional delegation and their reactions to the revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had mislead the Senate under oath about his contacts with Russian government officials, and his end-of-the-day announcement that he was finally recusing himself from oversight of the Trump/Russia investigations. The rest of the world might care because Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, was Sessions' biggest champion when he was up for confirmation and she and Sen. Angus King, I-ME, both sit on the Senate intelligence committee that's supposed to be spearheading Congress's Trump/Russia probe.
My story -- updated several times during the day -- is in tomorrow's Portland Press Herald.
I've been following the Trump/Russia issue in recent weeks, including this story on King and Collins' stance on the intel committee's probe of former National Security Advisor Michel Flynn; this one on Sen. Collins' confidence as recently as last week in the integrity and resolve of the committee to "get to the bottom" of the issue; and this one on Sen. King's deep concern over the actions of committee chair Richard Burr, R-NC, who appears to have compromised the probe by agreeing to downplay the Russia story to reporters at the White House's request.
Kevin Soo's research on predicting county political behavior.
It's been a pleasure having scholars and researchers apply the American Nations paradigm to various research questions. Here's a recent one.
Kevin Soon, a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, has found that a given county's voting behavior was better predicted by what American Nation it belonged to then by what state it was in or even whether it was densely populated or sparse and rural. Here's his take over at his blog, complete with data visualizations.
Curiously, the size of the county is actually less predictive than the state it is located in, but the regional culture trumps all.
My own take in the 2016 election -- with comparisons to 2008 and 2012 -- can be found here.
The problem is summed up by a former NOAA Fisheries senior manager thusly: "Let's say you want to implement a regulation to protect a fish. Now you'd have to remove protections on two others, which makes no sense. How would you decide which two? And how would you go through the full rule making to withdraw those, with public hearings and a reasoning that would stand up to court challenge?" The answer: you couldn't. Therefore there will be no fishing regulations that reach the threshold of "significant regulatory actions" going forward so long as the order stands.
I've been remiss in posting this story from Tuesday's Press Herald, wherein I talked to Maine US Senator Angus King -- who sits on the intelligence committee -- and Rep. Chellie Pingree about the biggest issue of an insane news week: investigating the Trump administrations' ties to Russia. Among other things, I learned that the committee is indeed investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian diplomats before inauguration day, and that King and Sen. Susan Collins oppose the creation of an independent select committee take over from senate intel. (Pingree says this is essential.)
For those concerned about President Donald Trump's authoritarian behavior and personal stability, there's a lot of hope being placed in the U.S. system of checks and balances. They only work, people are beginning to realize, if someone acts to do so. With partisan tribalism at perhaps an all-time high and Trump's party in control of all branches of government and chambers of Congress, that actor isn't quite so clear.
Aside from the federal courts, the most obvious countervailing force in time of constitutional curses would be "country-before-party" Republican members of the Senate and -- statistically speaking -- the most likely member to challenge their caucus would be Maine's own Susan Collins.
The talk itself was for members, so I'm very pleased that the stations of Maine Public (formerly Maine Public Broadcasting) broadcast the lecture on their "Speaking in Maine" program yesterday. (I discovered this in a disorienting way: turning on the ignition to my car to hear my own voice lecturing me from the radio.) They have it up as a podcast here, for those interested. I also speak a bit about the 2016 election, fueled from the data in this post over at the Portland Press Herald.
Collins was joined by fellow Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. She also revealed an exchange of letters with DeVos in which the nominee pledged not to impose school vouchers -- a penchant of hers -- on any state or school district.
A lot of the focus of the coverage of the effects of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act have focused on how many people would lose coverage. In today's Maine Sunday Telegram, I look at a secondary effect: how all that lost coverage would effect the health and survival of hospitals, especially in a rural place like Maine, where many are already struggling for lack of customers with private insurance.
The message from Maine hospitals, doctors, and public health experts: please don't repeal ObamaCare without a replacement that provides a comparable level of coverage. Details herein.
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, is introducing a replacement plan tomorrow. Its contents and political prospects will be important to follow.
Guess where the most ambitious and successful long-range land use planning effort in the U.S. has taken place, one that included the building of an expansive regional commuter and light rail system and has been expanded to cover an entire state?
The full interview is up online. If you live in or near New England, you can also hear it on your public radio station (unless you live in Boston itself, in which case you're out of luck.) Here's the schedule:
WNPR / Connecticut Public Radio: Sunday at 6pm.
Maine Public Radio: Friday at 2 pm. [May be pre-empted by inauguration.]
One of American Character's biggest markets, curiously enough, has been Utah, a corner of the ruggedly individualist Far West settled by Utopia-building communitarian planners. So it was my pleasure to talk about the book -- and what it says about saving the Republic -- with Brigham Young University Radio's Matt Townsend on Friday (audio at the link.)
By coincidence, I was just out in Utah for POLITICO Magazine's What Works series, to write about their 20-year experiment in long-rang, collaborative, land-use planning. That story -- out Thursday -- is yet another example of the sort of individual liberty/common good balancing act that cities across the country manage to pull off. If only we could learn to do it at the state and federal level.
A few minutes from now, Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General will be introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee by an unlikely champion: Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who by most metrics is the most moderate member of her caucus.
The highlights: the regional cultures followed precisely the same partisan pattern as they have in the last three cycles, but Donald Trump's substitution of ethno-nationalism for laissez faire economics on the campaign trail allowed him to outperform his recent predecessors in the Midlands and rural Yankeedom, tipping margins just enough to eke out victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, securing an Electoral College victory, but not the popular vote. Details herein.
A note for data geeks: while preparing this analysis, I discovered and corrected an error in the maps published in the book: Bernalillo County, New Mexico -- that's Albuquerque, which coincidentally I wrote from last month in Politico -- should of course be in El Norte, not Far West.
I've been tied up with other professional and family responsibilities this past year and a half -- including the writing and launch of American Nations' sequel, American Character -- so wasn't able to provide frequent analysis of the campaign as it happened, but here are some American Nations-driven pieces I did on past elections and political developments:
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.