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Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012: Benghazi, transgender support and taxes

Governing and politics

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins recently interviewed United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice concerning her comments on five Sunday talk shows following the Benghazi attack in which four Americans were brutally killed.

Much is being made of Collins’ post-interview comments, trying to make her efforts out to be politically motivated. The key point is being missed. Collins was not vetting Rice to determine her qualifications to be our next secretary of state. Collins was trying to understanding what happened in that Benghazi attack. Her interview was not about placing blame but rather to determine “why” and “how” such a tragedy came to pass, following a similar attack on our embassies in Africa in 1998.

These attacks were similar, but it appears that we learned little from those 1998 attacks, and history repeated itself. If the problem that led to these attacks cannot be identified and addressed, we are setting ourselves up for more of the same. Rice became a “talking head” for the president. Her talking points misled the American people. This was a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous Islamic riot gone wrong.

The responsibility she assumed in conveying erroneous information speaks to another problem: her integrity. Critics of Collins are confusing her governing efforts with playing politics. She is trying to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi.

Dana Saucier


Transgender support admirable

Erin Rhoda’s column about a transgender man growing up in rural Maine, “ A transgender student’s perspective on identity, gender, growing up in rural Maine,” (BDN, Nov. 30) tells of Mea Tavares’ experience growing up transgender. I wish to add my experience to supplement, not critique.

My experience becoming a man has made me who I am, and, however difficult, it’s worth it. I’ve made peace with it. This is the journey of the trans person, to love what you cannot change. I came out as transgender during my final year of high school in 2011. My revelation can be better described as a dam breaking and water flooding everything in sight. One day I knew, and there was no way to stop knowing.

Ten years on from Tavares’ experiences, and in a bigger city, my school administration was very different. The administration was more than supportive, sometimes taking criticism, I’m sure, for those supportive choices.

Regardless, the stance that my school took is admirable. Teachers helped me choose colleges where I could merge as a male; the principal changed policies that would have kept me from marching in the graduation ceremony as a male; and although some students never wanted to understand, many tried and did, from different backgrounds, not just my own social circle. The risk remains, just as in Tavares’ case, but there is a lot to be said for what those around me did on my behalf, even though some relationships never survived the transition.

Aron Nichols


Wealthy, middle tax rates

If income tax cuts are not extended for middle-income families after Jan. 1, we middle-class folks will in essence be paying down the federal deficit even as we try to provide for our needs with reduced incomes. However, there is no reason to maintain low rates for the richest 2 percent of American households: they certainly will not starve if a bit more of what they consider to be “their” money is diverted to serving the greater good of the country.

The argument that letting the rich keep their money would cause them to create jobs is not supported by recent history. They have had the advantage of low tax rates for a decade — please show me the jobs created with their retained wealth.

The tax rate on the highest income bracket peaked at 91 percent during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Why anyone would complain about the proposed 39 percent is beyond me.

The panic about the imminent tumble over the “fiscal cliff” is as phony as a three dollar bill. The same Republican Party now doing the screaming allowed the deficit to build, without protest. The deficit, which was run up between 2002 and 2008, includes the cost of two “off-budget” wars, which many of us vociferously opposed to no avail.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are sensible enough to know that we can’t simply cut our way out of this fiscal hole. Higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans must be part of the final budget package.

Flo Wilder


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