TCS Daily

As Maine Goes...

By Jon Reisman - February 5, 2003 12:00 AM

COOPER, Maine - An old political adage says: As Maine goes, so goes the nation. It refers to the fact that, due to a short harvest season and bad November weather, Maine used to vote in September. After Maine voted for Alf Landon in 1936, the adage was modified: As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.

President George Bush faces an increasingly belligerent environmental movement and its allies in the "peace" movement. He would do well to note events and trends in this New England enclave, one that is the reverse political image of the nation as a whole. All three branches of state government are firmly in the hands of the Democrats; environmentalism is essentially the state religion; and the daily newspapers make the New York Times look like the Washington Times.

For the most part, my heresy is tolerated - tenure has some advantages. But several years ago Maine's Attorney General and environmental elites tried to censor me for alleged hate speech against environmentalists because of my opposition to an endangered species listing . My support for President Bush, Gale Norton, ANWR drilling and capitalism has not resulted in any green crosses being burned on my environmentally incorrect lawn...yet.

Bush is Bad; Regulation by Litigation

As the coldest January in a generation ended, two chilling stories headlined Maine news. State Attorneys General from Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut announced they planned to sue the Bush administration in order to make it regulate carbon dioxide . And Maine's legislature is poised to pass an anti-war/anti-Bush resolution, with the full support and urging of Maine's considerable left-wing right-thinking progressive "peace" community . Funny thing is, the separate stories had many of the same players and almost exactly the same theme: Bush is bad.

And why not? President Bush has preferred to ignore, appease or enable the watermelon caucus - green politics on the outside, red economics on the inside - as opposed to openly confronting it. These efforts are perceived as weakness rather than compromise, and only result in further radicalizing and emboldening of the environmental left. Al Qaeda, North Korea and the Sierra Club all fervently want regime change in Washington. Past attacks had netted benefits and new revenues - why not try again?

With great media fanfare , the three AG's took the opportunity to chide the President. Citing the 2002 Climate Action Report submitted to the UN, the AG's claimed "the fact that carbon dioxide causes global climate change is no longer in dispute" . The media did not mention that the three Attorneys General are all ambitious elected Democrats, or that the National Academy of Sciences had previously expressed serious uncertainty about the causes of global warming, or that the President had repudiated (but not withdrawn) the CAR report. They did quote Massachusetts AG Tom Reilly "This is serious business. What's happening today with global warming is a direct threat to our environment, to our health, and to our national security. "

For fund-raising purposes, the environmental industry chants a quasi-religious, nature-worshipping mantra that President Bush is poisoning our air, water and kids. The message is designed to resonate with soccer moms and donors, and elected and appointed Democrats throughout the region echo the litany.

Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut plan to run for President on it, as does Vermont's Howard Dean. Maine's two Democratic Congressmen make a regular habit of bashing Bush environmental policies. The first public statement from Maine's newly nominated Environmental Protection chief was a partisan attack on President Bush, suggesting he was not the legitimately elected head of the federal executive branch .

Republicans also pile on. Senators Snowe, Collins and Chafee are members in good standing of the watermelon caucus, and former Republican turned independent Jim Jeffords is a fellow traveler. United States Senators are certainly free to back environmental policies based on coercion, socialism and religion instead of incentives, markets and science, but usually some truth in labeling is called for.

Go on Offense

Until the political culture in New England changes, these attacks on President Bush will continue, if you'll pardon the expression, unabated. Open confrontation is the only way to change these attitudes now.

How would this work? Regulation by litigation is now one of the preferred political instruments wielded by environmentalists. But it can be a two way street. Suits could easily be filed to have the President's rejection of Kyoto formally implemented, or to have the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Agreement to essentially implement Kyoto declared an unconstitutional agreement between several states and a foreign power. As Earth Day approaches, the administration would do well to remind the public schools and universities in New England that institutionally sanctioned prayers to Mother Earth and Gaia violate the 1st Amendment's prohibition of state sponsored religion.

As a heretic here in the People's Green Republic of Maine, I understand the ferocity and frustration of the watermelon caucus with President Bush. They truly believe he's wrong, stupid, misguided at best and probably evil. And they are almost completely out of power, except for those portions of the federal judiciary peppered with activist Clinton, Carter and Bush 41 appointees. Depending on the Judge they draw, the State AG's have a real shot at winning, at least initially. DC District Court Judge "K" has a jurisprudential record which includes preventing a Bush appointee from taking his seat on the Civil Rights Commission and ordering federal regulators to implement her own designed fishing effort and endangered species habitat rules. With sympathetic judges like that, you can't blame the watermelon caucus for trying. President Bush should find new resolve and maybe eat his greens for lunch.

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