Tag Archives: Susan Collins

Elect first, then choose SCOTUS justice

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A suggestion from embattled U.S. Sen. Susan Collins sounds eminently fair and reasonable.

“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”

Doesn’t that just make a ton of sense? It does to me.

Collins is in the fight of her political life and she might lose her Senate seat when they count the ballots on Nov. 3. However, she is correct in asserting that the choice for selecting a successor to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg should come from the individual who wins the presidential election.

Time is short. We have 45 days until Election Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hell bent on voting for a new justice before Election Day.

Hey, fair is fair, right? Except that McConnell doesn’t play fairly. He uses power to his maximum advantage. He is trying to do so now with this pending nomination.

This fight is going to get mighty bloody.

Shutdown produced no good result; nor will another one

Susan Collins is a Maine Republican U.S. senator who — it’s safe to assume — is no friend of Donald J. Trump.

So she said today that the partial government shutdown that the president said he would be proud to own produced “absolutely nothing.” Collins is as correct as she possibly can be.

The only thing it produced was heartache and hassle among many of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who were furloughed or forced to work without pay for 35 days.

The shutdown ended with no money for The Wall that Trump wants to build. It reopened the entire government for three weeks. Both sides have until Feb. 15 to work out a longer-term budget deal that contains money for “border security.” Democrats don’t want The Wall. Trump insists on it. He might declare a national emergency if the deal lacks money to build it along our southern border.

There had better not be another shutdown. The longest such idiocy produced nothing of substance, as Sen. Collins has noted. Neither would the next one.

This is no way in the world to make America great again. It instead has made us an international laughingstock.

Sen. Collins: Kavanaugh says Roe v. Wade is ‘settled law’

It might be that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has won over a key Senate Republican vote as he seeks to be confirmed for a spot on the nation’s highest court.

If Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is right, and Kavanaugh believes a landmark court ruling on abortion is “settled law,” he has gone a long way toward winning the support of many skeptics across the country.

Collins and Kavanugh met and the senator — a noted GOP moderate lawmaker — said the following to reporters: “We talked about whether he considered Roe (v. Wade) to be settled law. And he said that he agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law.”

Those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy consider this an important hurdle that Kavanaugh has to clear if he is to be confirmed to a seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

I do not believe Sen. Collins is prone to shoot of her mouth without thinking, which gives me hope that her two-hour closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh produced the kind of dialogue she has mentioned. Collins has declared Roe v. Wade to be the benchmark on which she would decide whether to confirm his nomination to the court.

There are many other hurdles, though, to clear. Such as the one about whether the president of the United States can be charged with crimes, or whether he can be compelled to testify before a judicial body. He once thought it was OK to compel a president to testify; then he seemed to have changed his mind.

That will be explored in detail, I presume, when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

However, if Sen. Collins is correct and Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t want the high court to mess with Roe v. Wade, then he well might have won an important skirmish in the battle royale that is shaping up in his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Sen. Collins: Your vote will matter more

I just heard a Republican U.S. senator from Maine make a preposterous declaration.

Susan Collins is going to be at Ground Zero in the debate over whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle lines are being drawn.

It’s along abortion and whether Kavanaugh would uphold the Roe v. Wade decision that in 1973 made abortion legal in the United States.

Collins already has said that she cannot support a SCOTUS nominee who doesn’t believe Roe v. Wade is “settled law.”

Then today she said that her vote “doesn’t count any more than my 99 colleagues” in the Senate.

Wrong, senator! Given the stakes and the apparent lineup that’s taking shape in the Senate, your vote counts more.

It counts a lot more!

Planned Parenthood: classic political football

Oh, how I wish there were more U.S. Senate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine. Or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

These two GOP moderate lawmakers are standing firm in their desire to see Planned Parenthood retain its federal government support. They dislike the Senate Republicans’ draft of a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act because it cuts money for Planned Parenthood for a year.

You see, we now have the makings of a political football game, with Planned Parenthood being the ball and competing forces within the Republican Party — not to mention the Democratic Party — kicking it all over the proverbial field.

Debate will get heated.

“There are already longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so this is not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women,” Collins said.

Abortion, that’s the kicker. Which means that abortion is at the epicenter of this particular discussion.

Senate and House conservatives detest Planned Parenthood because it does provide abortion referrals to women seeking to end their pregnancies. Last time I looked, it’s a legal activity. According to the “true believers,” though, Planned Parenthood is sanctioning the “murder of unborn children” and therefore its mission is steeped in evil intent.

Collins, though, is correct to point out two things about Planned Parenthood. One is that Congress already has written into law restrictions on federal funding for abortion; two is that Planned Parenthood provides a number of vital health care services for Americans.

But the organization is going to get kicked around, mauled, chewed up and spit out as competing legislative factions argue over whether the new health care legislation should use taxpayer money to keep it functioning.

I’m on Sen. Collins’s side.

Muslim ban plays straight into the terrorists’ hands

Now he’s done it.

The president of the United States has just ordered a ban on all immigrants this country from certain Muslim-majority countries. His fear is that immigrants from those countries might be terrorists intent on blowing us all up.

Donald J. Trump has just demonstrated — as if anyone really needed an explanation — how little he understands about the very nature of the nation he was elected to lead.


Not only has the order enraged Democrats across the nation, it has split Republicans as well. It has once again cast a serious chaotic spin on the activities associated with the president who’s been in office a week and one day.

Just think, Dear Reader, we’ve got four whole years of this.

U.S. Sen Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, said he understands Trump’s desire to protect us against terrorists but a “blanket ban” on immigrants from Muslim countries demonizes those who practice a certain religion unfairly. The president, Flake said, needs a “clear-eyed view” that doesn’t ascribe “radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims.”

That, however, is what Trump has just done.

Moreover, as Sen. Susan Collins (pictured), a Maine Republican, has noted, such a blanket ban will create problems immediately for the president.

Donald Trump has just ratcheted up the fight that appears to imply that, by golly, we are at war with Islam — a principle rejected categorically by his two immediate predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack H. Obama.

Another GOP leader abandons Trump


I’m trying to remember the last time a major party presidential nominee suffered the embarrassments that have fallen all over Donald J. Trump.

They’re coming in the form of leaders within his own party who are saying the same thing: They cannot support his presidential candidacy.

I guess you have to go back to, say, 1972, when Democrats abandoned the candidacy of anti-Vietnam War insurgent Sen. George McGovern.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has joined the growing ranks of Republicans who are tossing Trump aside.

She writes of her opposition to Trump in a Washington Post essay:


Collins writes: “My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities. Three incidents in particular have led me to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Trump lacks the temperament, self-discipline and judgment required to be president. ”

The incidents were Trump’s mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical disability, his suggestion that a judge couldn’t preside over a case involving Trump University because of his ethnic heritage and his ridiculous feud with the parents of a slain U.S. Army soldier.

Collins has concluded, along with others within the party, that Trump is not fit for the office he seeks.

Will she support Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton? Collins calls herself a “lifelong Republican,” which makes me believe she won’t cast her ballot for Clinton.

Still, she is denying her own party’s nominee her ultimate endorsement.

If I were a betting man, I’d bet we’ll see more of the same in the weeks to come.

GOP wall beginning to crack


Republican resistance to President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland is beginning to show signs of weakening.

Two GOP U.S. senators, Susan Collins of Maine and John Boozman of Arkansas, say they’re going to meet with Judge Garland. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a reliably conservative lawmaker, has said the same thing. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, too. Same with Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Is a mere meeting with two Senate Republicans enough to bring this nomination to the confirmation process? Hardly. The meetings, though, do seem to suggest that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s effort to block the nomination is being seen for what it is: a political game of obstruction.

Is it beginning to sink in to some GOP senators that Garland is the best nominee they’re going to get? He’s supremely qualified. He’s a judicial moderate, a studious and thoughtful jurist.

Consider what’s happening out there on the political campaign trail.

GOP frontrunner Donald J. Trump is beginning to implode. He said women should be “punished” for obtaining an abortion, then took it back; he said he wouldn’t “rule out” the use of nuclear weapons against the Islamic State, even saying the same thing about deploying nukes in Europe; his campaign manager is accused of battery against a female reporter.

However, Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican Party presidential nomination.

Do members of the Senate GOP caucus understand that Trump’s chances of being elected president are vaporizing?

McConnell said Obama shouldn’t get to fill the vacancy created by the death of conservative judicial icon Antonin Scalia. That task should belong to the next president, McConnell said.

And who is that likely to be? I believe it’s going to be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The GOP-led Senate is now facing the prospect of simultaneous earthquakes. The Democratic presidential nominee could win the White House in a landslide and the Senate could flip back to Democratic control once the votes are counted in November.

Against that backdrop, we’re beginning to hear from an increasing number of Republican senators that, yep, Merrick Garland is as good as we’re going to get.

Start shouting for Alzheimer's research

T.R. Reid, writing in the January-February AARP Bulletin, puts it succinctly and powerfully.

Alzheimer’s disease is “the most expensive disease in America” and it is “devouring federal and state health care budgets, and depleting the life savings of million of victims and their families.”

So, what are the federal and state governments doing about it? What kind of public resources are they committing to fighting this dangerous killer?

Too damn little, according to Reid.

He’s correct. That must change.


Reid, a former reporter for the Washington Post, notes that the “cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias has surpassed the cost of treatment for cancer patients or victims of heart disease.” Alzhiemer’s disease, says Huntington Potter, a University of Colorado neurobiologist, is “going to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid.”

Let’s get busy, folks.

Alzheimer’s disease afflicts 5.2 million Americans — at the moment. The number is going to increase as the nation’s population continues to age. One projection puts the number of Americans suffering from the disease by 2050 at 13.8 million.

How has Alzheimer’s research funding stacked up to other deadly diseases? Reid writes the federal government has committed $5.4 billion on cancer research, $1.2 billion on heart disease and $3 billion on HIV/AIDS research. Alzheimer’s disease research will get $566 million.

My own interest in this disease is intensely personal. My mother died of complications of Alzheimer’s in 1984. She was 61 years of age when she died. Sixty-one! She’d exhibited symptoms for perhaps a decade.

The pain of watching a loved one lose their memory, their cognitive skill, their ability to take care of basic needs is beyond description. Take my word for it.

And that pain is going to spread as more Americans fall victim to this merciless killer.

Federal government estimates put the cost of Alzheimer’s care at about $214 billion annually. Medicare and Medicaid pay about $150 billion per year; the rest of the cost falls on patients and their families, according to Reid.

Why hasn’t there been an outcry for federal funding of this disease as there have been for cancer or HIV/AIDS? Part of it is stigma, Reid reports. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, “I think the problem is that there’s still a stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. People don’t want to talk about it. By contrast, LGBT groups have no qualms about campaigning for HIV/AIDS research. The cancer advocacy groups are extremely well-organized, vocal and politically skillful, with their Race for the Cure and everyone wearing pink for a month.”

I’ve made it my mission with this blog to call attention whenever possible to the need to boost attention to this disease. Its impact doesn’t just affect those who afflicted with it. It causes severe pain and anguish on care-givers and other loved ones.

The good news — if you want to call it such — is that some notable celebrities are beginning to put the word out there. One of them is Seth Rogen, the comic actor known most recently for his role in the controversial film “The Interview.”

“Americans whisper the word ‘Alzheimer’s’ because their government whispers the word ‘Alzheimers,'” Rogen told a Senate committee hearing in 2014. Rogen’s own interest has been fueled by his mother-in-law’s struggle with the disease. “It needs to be yelled and screamed to the point that it finally gets the attending and the funding it deserves.”

Well, young man, I’m with you. I’ll yell and scream for as long as it takes.


Cruz doesn't play well with GOP 'team'

You just have to love the way Sen. Ted Cruz is antagonizing his fellow Senate Republicans.

They want to finish a budget deal so they can go home for Christmas, finish their shopping, kick off their shoes and relax with their families.

What does the freshman lawmaker from Texas do? He launches a procedural move that keeps the Senate in session through the weekend because, by golly, he wants to undercut President Obama’s executive action on immigration.


His Republican pals, even some of his TEA party allies, are having none of it.

What gives with this showboating grandstander?

Oh, I forgot. He wants to run for president of the United States eventually and he might jump into the 2016 race. It’s all about Cruz. Forget that the government needs money to function, you know, do things like entertain visitors who visit our parks and do perform certain essential services that citizens demand.

As Politico reports, the GOP leadership is unhappy with this new guy: “Senior Republicans say there’s a problem with Cruz’s strategy: The GOP lacks the votes to stop Obama on immigration now, the $1.1 trillion spending package was speeding to passage, and they won’t resort to shutting down the government to mount their objections. Plus, the weekend session could allow Obama to get even more of his nominees confirmed.”

According to Politico, some Republican senators are openly angry with the Cruz Missile. Even fellow TEA party advocate, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is ticked off. So is Susan Collins, R-Maine. Oh, and how about the incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.?

Suffice to say that McConnell is likely to have a few four-letter words with the young Lone Star blowhard.

Keep yammering, Ted. Some of your fellow Texans — such as me — are enjoying this sideshow.