Olympia Snowe rips Congress with scathing assessment of gridlock

Good morning, folks. I hope your Thursday is turning out just fine. If you’re like me, you’re counting the minutes until the season opener tonight. But you’re not like me if your kids don’t have their first soccer practice.

What did you think I was talking about? 

On to today’s political tidbits.

Olympia Snowe still not pleased with congressional gridlock

Three years after she turned the Maine political scene on its ear with her sudden decision not to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate, former Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe says the partisan gridlock in Washington hasn’t improved. That’s according to an interview Snowe gave to a website called The Finances in which, among other things, she said Congress has failed to sustain or create good jobs.

“It’s not so much that we can’t solve the problem as that you’ve got a political class in Washington that has chosen not to and that’s what people fear more than anything else,” Snowe told the publication.


Though Snowe is out of office, she continues to be a leading voice for bipartisanship. Among her efforts in that regard was her founding of Olympia’s List, which seeks out and supports candidates who show promise of working across the political aisle.

Perhaps tellingly in terms of the nation’s political climate, there are only 10 U.S. senators and representatives on Olympia’s List, including Collins.

CORRECTION: An earlier version stated that Snowe resigned from the Senate. She announced her plans not to seek re-election.

Rally in Portland in favor Iran treaty

Peace activists from across Maine will gather in Portland’s Monument Square today to rally in support of the Iran nuclear deal, which is currently pending in Congress. The event is part of a national day of action organized by MoveOn.org.

Locally, the rally is sponsored by PeaceWorks, Peace Action Maine and Maine Veterans for Peace Chapter 001.

The rally comes on the eve of the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Here is the peace coalition’s reasoning for supporting the treaty:

“The reality is that while the treaty negotiated by six countries may not be perfect, it is a positive step towards preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The United States walking away from that agreement will not just increase the likelihood of another specific war instigated and funded by the U.S., a war that could escalate beyond our control; it will also position this country as unwilling to work with other nations, weakening the prospects of international problems being met with international solutions.”

Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who are both Republican members of Maine’s congressional delegation, have announced they will vote against the deal because they say it is too lenient and Iran can’t be trusted to abide by it.

Politicians across the political spectrum have called the vote on the deal, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks, among the most important actions Congress has taken in years. However, if the votes come as expected, there won’t be enough support to scuttle the deal.

But you never know.

The Defend Diplomacy_No War with Iran Action begins at 6 p.m. today in Monument Square.

Mainers headed to Capitol Hill in support of Obama’s Clean Power Plan

What do a Maine doctor, fisherman, farmer, politician and businesswoman have in common? They’re all in Washington today to lobby Maine’s congressional delegation in favor of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

(OK, I admit that lead-in is kind of a groaner.)

The plan, which will have more of an effect on power plants in other states than it will here in New England, where Maine participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, calls for a 32 percent decrease in carbon pollution from power plants, compared to 2005 levels, by 2030.

Traveling from Maine will be Kathleen Meil, an energy efficiency professional with Evergreen Home Performance in Rockland; Rep. Russell Black, R-Wilton, who runs Black Acres Farm; Tony Owens, an emergency room doctor at Maine Medical Center in Portland; Zach Wozich, a board member of the Sebago Lake Anglers Association, and his 10-year-old daughter, Samantha; and Laurie Osher of Bangor, who engages faith communities in energy efficiency projects through Maine Interfaith Power and Light. Also attending are representatives from the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Conservation Voters and Environment Maine.

Reading list

R.E.M. to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz: ‘Go f— yourselves’ for using our songs

I try to keep the bad words out of the Daily Brief but it’s otherwise difficult to quote R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe or Mike Mills, especially when they’re reacting to their music being used at political rallies.

“Go f— yourselves, the lot of you, you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” said Stipe, according to the Daily Beast. “Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”

What caused the lashing out? Trump took the stage at a Stop the Iran Deal rally on Wednesday in Washington D.C. to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” Let’s make that today’s soundtrack, live from 1989.

It’s too late now, but maybe Trump missed an opportunity by not using this R.E.M. song instead? — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.