Collins needs her moral compass
It was a spectacle to see U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday fulfilling with her characteristic civility the “honor” of introducing Sen. Jeff Sessions for his confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general.
The big question during the presidential campaign was whether after a Donald Trump victory the Republican Party would reform its candidate’s excesses or remake itself as part of the Trump brand. Given the inclinations of the GOP and Trump’s typical modus operandi, the first would have been a stretch, and the second is just another step further toward extremism.
Going forward, the Senate will be a minefield, precarious especially for rare and endangered moderate Republicans such as Collins.
She will need her moral compass. She also will need to make sure that going along with her party’s leadership and the chief executive does not taint her independent voice for Maine.
Here in Maine, our legislators, through bipartisan cooperation and compromise, have worked diligently and under duress to curb the harmful excesses of an erratic, egotistical executive and his reliable supporters. Collins can take up the mantle of representing Maine’s people by following our Legislature’s good example of working for reasonable solutions to problems too urgent to sacrifice to party ideology and politics.
Bar Japanese tourists from Pearl Harbor
For anyone in my generation who remembers the events of Dec. 7, 1941, the sight of President Barack Obama playing tour guide for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the USS Arizona Memorial on Dec. 27, 2016, was a nauseating spectacle.
Of the 2,403 Americans killed that day, 1,177 of them were on the Arizona, and many still are entombed there. If it were up to me and unknown numbers of older veterans with long memories, no Japanese citizen would ever be allowed to visit there and soil the place with their presence.
This is especially true considering the Japanese attitudes and policies toward another place of great American sacrifice. In the battle for Iwo Jima in February and March 1945, American losses included more than 6,000 dead and more than 19,000 wounded. Various memorials were erected after the war, but the Japanese government has imposed strict limitations on visitors because it is a Japanese Self Defense Force base. Tourists — American veterans or otherwise — are allowed to visit Iwo Jima only once a year, and then only in small groups with special permission, no cameras allowed and by payment of $3,500 fees.
So why should we tolerate hordes of Japanese tourists trampling at will over the graves of U.S. servicemen at Pearl Harbor? They, like Obama, should be declared persona non grata and told to stay home.
Carroll B. Knox
Defy a Muslim registry
On the radio over the weekend, I heard an interview with a Muslim father. He spoke about the anxiety he felt when two cars pulled up alongside the city park where he was playing and preparing to pray with his children. No one emerged from the automobiles. Concerned for the safety of his children, he decided not to pray.
The interview concluded with the father vowing to resist Trump’s proposed Muslim registry. Islam is a religion, he said, not a criminal enterprise.
As I listened to this story, I was reminded of something that happened here in Maine 16 years ago: the Maine Department of Education began requiring that “Anyone who works with children in a school setting is required by law to be fingerprinted.” Such a law — a teacher registry — seems analogous to Trump’s proposed Muslim registry. Choosing a career in education, such as public prayer, looks suspicious.
Sometimes, of course, teachers do abuse children, and sometimes Muslims are terrorists, but to imply, as the fingerprinting law and the Muslim registry do, that all teachers and all Muslims are potential threats is absurd.
When the fingerprinting law was first announced, a number of teachers in Maine refused on principle to comply. How can I teach Henry David Thoreau, a colleague asked me, if I submit to an unjust law? A good question, is it not?
William J. Murphy
Trump the Manchurian candidate
“ The Manchurian Candidate” was a shocking 1962 movie about a brainwashed soldier who becomes a killer-puppet for North Korea. More and more, the tweeting bully about to become leader of the free world is looking like the star of a terrifying updated sequel.
He has waffled, lied, denied, distorted and changed positions on everything except his views of Vladimir Putin. His Twitter use assumes we are all as paranoid and infantile as he is. Always shocked and offended to find us fact-checking, he makes it up as he goes along promoting the George Costanza theory of morality: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Our 17 intelligence agencies have given evidence that Russia hacked Democratic organizations and is a very dangerous adversary. He disparages our life-giving and saving agencies while defending all things Russia. This is seriously suspicious.
As the only candidate in last 40 years who has refused to release his tax returns, his unshakable protection of the former KGB officer can only be about shielding his hidden special interests and those of his family and Russia-defending advisors. There simply is no other explanation. To whom does he owe money?
Every day, between childish tweets, he nominates more totally unqualified swamp-dwellers or billionaires to his Cabinet or other government agencies. He hasn’t taken office yet, and he already has proven to be a horrible mistake for our country.
Sessions a questionable attorney general pick
I oppose the choice of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and April 1986 that Sessions had in the past made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”
Thomas Figures, a black assistant U.S. attorney who worked for Sessions, testified that Sessions called him “boy” on multiple occasions and that he joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought Klan members were “ OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”