A VIEW from LICK SKILLET by Gerald Largen: What impact will Sen. Snowe’s going have?

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The rock-ribbed coast of Maine is not noted for many products — timber and paper wood, potatoes, seafood, and L. L. Bean apparel being the principal ones.

But far and away the most important thing that has sprung from that rocky soil may well be its womenfolk.

This thought comes to mind in view of the announcement last week that Olympia Snowe, three-term Republican senator for Maine will not seek re-election this year, thus ending more than thirty years in the Congress, both House and Senate.

As the reader knows, Maine has for several years had an all-female contingent in the U.S. Senate. Only California comes to mind as choosing females for the Senate exclusively.

In the case of California, both Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are Democrats, while in Maine, both Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are Republicans.

But neither Snowe nor Collins are strict partisans, and both have tried, with some success to pursue a path of moderation, which has unfortunately earned them the label “RINO,” which stands for Republican in Name Only, from the radical right-wing, which currently predominates in the Republican Congressional Caucus.

Sen. Snowe has made no bones about it. She can no longer tolerate the “our way or the highway” attitude of her Republican colleagues, especially the Senate’s Minority Leader, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell. So she retires. But, when the history of these times is written, Olympia Snowe will be honoured as one of the “good guys” who quit with her integrity intact and her escutcheon unsullied.

We regret to see her go.

However, the Republicans presently in charge may well have shot themselves in the foot by forcing this noble lady to retire from the fray.

There is no question but that she would have won re-election handily, and in organizing the Senate after the election, she would have voted with her party, and thereby increased the possibility of the Republicans taking control of the Senate.

Now, however, there is a distinct possibility that either a Democrat or an Independent will be elected to replace Sen. Snowe, which will make a Republican takeover that much more difficult, solely and alone because of the intransigence and arrogance of the current Republican leadership in the Senate.

In departing from the senatorial stage. Sen. Snowe’s leaving must bring to mind for those of us old enough to recall the politics of the 1950s, another marvelous lady senator from Maine, namely Sen. Margaret Chase Smith.
Sen. Smith like Sen. Snowe would put her conscience in pledge to her party for only so long.

In her case the cause of her defiance, and of her putting country before party was the awful shenanigans of Wisconsin’s Senator Joe McCarthy, whose actions put the whole nation’s sense of what it means to be a loyal American into a downward spiraling tailspin. His abuse of his position as a senator cast shadows over the U.S. Military, the State Department, and all of the intellectual, educational, artistic, and entertainment segments of the population.

Loyalty oaths were the currency of the day, and unsubstantiated allegations of Communist sympathies and sexual deviancy ruined many a promising career. The most bizarre aspect of his whole campaign was the almost certain fact of his own sexual deviancy, and the undoubted fact of his chief staff members being homosexual.

Where other members of the Republican Party cowered before the onslaught of McCarthy’s allegations, Margaret Chase Smith began to question them, and when she became convinced that they were without foundation, she, unlike her colleagues, took to the floor of the senate and in detail outlined the many flaws in McCarthy’s programme.

Before her courageous speech, quiet and acquiescence had emanated from the Republican side of the Senate Chamber.

After it, they started lining up to get on her bandwagon, and eventually McCarthy was chastised for his outrageous behaviour by his colleagues, and he was belatedly criticized by the Republican president at that time, Gen. Dwight David Elsenhower.

Let us hope that the “Down Easters” elect a successor in the tradition of their courageous lady senators, Smith and Snowe, and continue in office Sen. Collins.
Due to additional information that has come to our attention, thanks in the main to the comments of Eleanor Clift on John McLaughlin’s raucous weekly panel show, we return briefly to the true story of the Keystone Pipeline, which the Republican power structure is trying to make a millstone about the neck of the President.

As we pointed out last week, had the President immediately approved the construction of the Keystone Pipeline through Nebraska, even though the Republican governor of that state protested vigourously such approval, it would have no impact whatsoever on the current supply or price level of the Canadian oil to be pumped through that pipeline.

An expert on oil supply and related topics when interviewed on PBS earlier in the week opined that not only would there be no immediate impact, but that it would in fact be at best sometime in 2016 before a single drop of oil could be transported through the Keystone Pipeline.

The information commented on by Miss Clift was that all of the oil to be transported via Keystone would be consigned to one or more Gulf Coast refineries to be refined and then trans-shipped out of the U.S. to a foreign destination, principally to China, and that none of it is intended for the domestic U.S. market.

Furthermore, other commentators have pointed out that this price explosion has nothing whatsoever to do with increased domestic oil production inasmuch as the U.S. is now, for the first time in years, once again a net EXPORTER of gasoline and petroleum products.

Thus the whole concept of “Drill Baby, Drill,” popularized by that great expert, Sarah Palin, which might have had some price impact a few years ago, would be totally ineffective at the present time.

If more oil wells were drilled and more oil produced, it would simply go into the oil exporting stream and go to oil importing countries, so that any price impact would be at best indirect, by decreasing the pressure of oil demand from the newly oil-consuming nations, such as China and India.

So, all this Republican hoopla about the President being responsible for the increased price of gasoline is not just false, but a deliberate attempt to deceive the American people and achieve what their leader, Mitch McConnell, has defined as their principal goal — to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Apparently there is no level too low for them to stoop, nor lie too big for them to tell.