Saturday, January 16, 2021

How we got here, the stakes and where we go now (in Washington Monthly)

The United States, which was a state before it came up with an argument for being a nation as well, has always been vulnerable to dissolution. An accidental alliance of stateless nations -- the regional cultures described in American Nations -- it had to invent a national story to paper over the massive (and enduring) differences between its component sections (a story told in Union.)

As the social contract our liberal democratic system relies on has been weakened by decades of drift into more extreme forms of individual liberty -- the story told in American Character -- it's now under direct attack again by authoritarian ethnonationalism. It threatens to destroy both the federation and the republic.

How did this happen? What is the nature of the problem? How do we respond to reverse the damage. My thoughts laid out in the new issue of Washington Monthly, written in early December when we were already trundling toward the attempted coup on January 6. 

For more, please consider the three books of the American Nations trilogy, starting with Union.

Thanks to Real Clear Politics for plugging the article earlier this week and to Monthly editors Paul Glastis and Daniel Block for their suggestions and improvements to the piece.

My last print edition story for Washington Monthly was this review of John Keane's The New Despotism.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Senator Angus King on the insurrection and accountability

I spoke with Senator Angus King (I-ME) last night about the attack on the Capitol and his views on how to ensure accountability for those who incited it, and not just the president. 

He also told of his personal experiences at the Capitol on Jan. 6, including his reluctance to bunker with a horde of Senators and their staff, some of whom don't like to follow Covid-19 health guidance. 

The interview is in today's Portland Press Herald and online.

Senator Susan Collins and Rep. Jared Golden have declined interview requests. For Rep. Chellie Pingree's views on accountability, see this piece on the House resolution to investigate members of the sedition caucus.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Impeachment: Maine's delegation, save Collins, demands Trump's immediate removal

Three of Maine's four Congressional representatives are now on record demanding Trump's immediate removal from office for his role in the insurrection and terrorist attacks against Congress and the U.S. Capitol last week.

Senator Angus King (I) weighed in today in a statement blasting Trump as a danger to the republic and calling out the 147 members of Congress's "sedition caucus" who, hours after the deadly attack, voted to, in effect, end democracy by overturning a democratic election lost by the president. Details in this Press Herald story from a few hours ago.

Senator Susan Collins, New England's only remaining Republican Congressional representative, has said she will not be commenting on impeachment because of her role as a "juror" in the Senate trial that will follow.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME01) was ahead of the rest of the delegation, calling for Trump's removal almost immediately after the attack and co-sponsoring a House resolution to investigate the sedition caucus and consider removal via the 14th Amendment. Details in this Press Herald story.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME02) didn't reveal his position until last night, but when he did it was a direct and unequivocal condemnation of the president. (Golden just won a second term in a district that went for Trump by 7 points.)

[Update, 1/13/21: Pingree and Golden voted for impeachment this afternoon. Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in a 232-197 vote.]

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Post-coup attempt, Sen. King and Rep. Pingree support Trump removal via 25th Amendment

A day after President Trump incited a mob to attack the Capitol in Washington, triggering five deaths and the evacuation of the building, half of Maine's Congressional delegation -- that's Senator King and Rep. Pingree -- supports the president's removal. Rep. Golden is taking a considered approach and Sen. Collins office isn't saying what her position is.

Details in my dispatch this evening in the Portland Press Herald.

Also today, because one major ongoing crisis is not enough, an update on the pandemic crisis here in Maine: record Covid-19 hospitalizations this week in the state, including all-time highs at MaineMed, SMHC Medical Center, and York Hospital.

[Update, 1/8/20: As 25th Amendment looks unlikely, attention turned today to impeachment, which appears to be inevitable in the House. But three of Maine's four Congressional representatives aren't -- or aren't yet -- saying where they stand. Details in this evening's Press Herald dispatch.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Four dams, the Kennebec River and the future of US Atlantic salmon in the balance

While the pandemic has been raging across the world, a high-stakes battle over the future of one of Maine's largest river systems has been playing out in an obscure federal online docket, one with the future of Atlantic salmon in the United States in the balance.

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram I wrote about the relicensing battle over one of four dams on the lower Kennebec River that stand between salmon, shad, alewives and the pristine habitat of the Sandy River in Western Maine which, oddly enough, is where I learned to swim and spent a lot of my summers staying cool in as a kid. The struggle is between Brookfield Renewable, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, the $100 billion Canadian venture capital firm, (which wants to do technical fixes to let the fish better pass the dams) and the state of Maine, conservationists, and recreational fishing interests (which want at least one and preferably two or three of the dams to be torn down.)

Details in the story.