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Monday, Sept. 3, 2012: Veterans’ care, doping and the east-west highway

Calais Veterans Clinic

Washington County has more veterans per capita than any other county in Maine. A month ago I visited the Calais Veterans Clinic to see and evaluate its personnel and evaluate its condition. The permanent staff is exceptionally competent and they are doing the best anyone could expect of them.

However, there has been no permanent staff physician for the past year and a half. I wrote to the VA at Togus, called and wrote U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, and spoke to U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud about a physician. All acknowledge the problem, and all acknowledge that routine recruitment of a physician, or physicians, has been unsuccessful.

Veterans deserve an American physician — preferably two — permanently assigned to the Calais VA Clinic, with no bellyaching excuses about remoteness or hardship of the Calais area. Our veterans know what remoteness and hardship mean. There are resources available, and our leaders need to lead or get out of the way.

Jim Whalen


Independent messengers

In regards to the column by Ethan Strimling and Phil Harriman “ King Empire Strikes Back,” of course U.S. Senate candidate independent Angus King’s campaign is striking back. Strimling and Harriman say the King campaign is “attacking us on Facebook, calling our editors, talking to reporters, and responding in the comments section of our blog.” Why?

Because the Democratic Strimling and the Republican Harriman have a regular gig on the opinion page of the BDN, as do other party-connected individuals. Independents? Not so much.

Never mind that independents are a larger percentage of voters (36 percent) than either Democrats (32 percent) or Republicans (28 percent). Never mind that Angus King is universally considered the frontrunner in the U.S. Senate campaign. As an independent, he is boxed out when it comes to the party dialogue featured on the BDN’s OpEd page.

The presence of just two voices in the discussion of a three-way race is hardly an impartial forum. The authors are free to debate the dynamics of a race and provide analysis without any pushback from the independent perspective.

Independent candidates wouldn’t have to “attack the messenger” if they were offered a chance to be one of the messengers. To have these party spokesmen “happy to review” polling data from an independent campaign does not go nearly far enough in bringing balance to their commentary.

Independents have an established presence in Maine politics. They should be fairly represented in the political commentary that has become so much a part of our election process.

Jill Goldthwait

Bar Harbor

Rewriting history

With the decision of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to strip Lance Armstrong of 15 years of wins including all his Tour de France wins, and with the decision of the NCAA to strip Penn State of all its success because of a sex abuse scandal, by logical extension, major league baseball should consider an investigation into the alcohol consumption of Babe Ruth between 1920 and 1933.

Perhaps all his RBIs should be expunged from the record books, and his at-bats should result in outs. Yankee wins should be rescored. Babe Ruth’s behavior involved the ingestion of an illegal substance. Thus home runs and accomplishments by the most talented athlete ever to play baseball should be erased from the record books. “Well, everyone was doing it.”

Perhaps we should change history to say that Major League Baseball did not exist during the prohibition years. Such a decision would send a message to all athletes that ingesting banned and illegal substances will not be tolerated by sport, no matter what era. Rewriting history is the privilege not of gifted athletes pursuing excellence or witnesses of contests and their remembrances, it is the privilege of a few judges of sport-governing bodies to strip accomplishments from the history books.

Shouldn’t rock stars and movie stars be stripped of platinum albums and movie credits when they are guilty of doping and illegal activity? The Old Testament Bible remembers many of its heroes as both very talented citizens and deeply flawed humans. It neither denies accomplishment or sin. Are we writing history in the wisest way?

Heinrick Snyder


Do-nothing Congress

According to a White House website, the estimated 2012 budget for Section 800, General Government, Subsection 801, Legislative Functions is $4,407,000,000. That’s billions of dollars.

There are 435 representatives and 100 senators in the legislative branch. Four-plus billion divided by 535 is $8,230,000. This is the cost of one elected congressperson plus support people and incidental expenses for one year. If we were to reduce the number of representatives to 100 and the number of senators to 50, we would save an estimated $3,173,000,000 without affecting the output of Congress. A $3,000,000,000 annual savings that will allow Congress to continue to do nothing. How do we do this?

Charles Cameron


East-west goes south

In May when I asked Peter Vigue at the county commissioner meeting in Dover-Foxcroft about the potential for a tar sands oil pipeline in the proposed east-west corridor, he dismissed the question and said, “Why would anyone want to build a pipeline to the east coast? Have you seen where Alberta, Canada is? It is much closer to go to the west coast.”

In January, Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, indicated that Canada would redirect oil that had been destined for Gulf Coast refineries to other countries, particularly China, after the Keystone XL pipeline was blocked by the US.

In May, Enbridge Energy, a Canadian oil transporter, announced a $3 billion plan called Eastern Access to enable pipeline development to the East Coast and applied for permission to reverse the flow of oil through an existing pipeline running from Portland, Maine, to Montreal requesting special permission to upgrade the pipes to allow the increased pressure needed for pumping tar sands oil (from Montreal to Portland).

In July the Chinese oil giant Cnooc Ltd. closed a $15.1 billion deal to buy Canada-based oil developer Nexen Inc. They have expressed interest in shipping the oil offshore through the East Coast.

It seems that Vigue did not do his homework.

Lesley Fernow


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