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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012: Glenn Ross’ choice, when to pray

The irony of Newt

Newt Gingrich is a man who, as speaker of the House of Representatives, pushed for WTO membership and was instrumental in passing NAFTA and CAFTA. As a result of those free-trade agreements, the U.S. has accumulated an estimated $6 trillion in trade deficit and has lost 6.5 million manufacturing jobs and yet Gingrich has the nerve to campaign as a job creator.

Gingrich made over $3 million last year, much of that coming from lobbying. In 2003 Gingrich lobbied members of Congress in an effort to convince “conservatives” to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies for the pharmaceutical industry. He would have American taxpayers subsidize one of the most profitable industries in the world. All the while, he claims he is a “free-market capitalist” and is opposed to welfare.

Gingrich says, “Obama put more people on food stamps than any president in history.” Isn’t it ironic that the job-killing, free-trade agreements that he fought so hard for are a big part of the reason many Americans are out of work and need the food stamp program to feed their family?

John Hafford


Ross made honorable choice

The suicide of Bob Carlson affected many. I knew, worked with and respected him. It continues to be difficult to reconcile the conflicting thoughts and feelings that arise with each new report — none more so than when questions arose about Sheriff Glenn Ross’ decision to speak with him the night of his death.

Sheriff Ross had conflicting relationships and responsibilities: He was a long-standing friend, a sheriff, a leader in the Bangor community and a man who had worked with the Rev. Bob for many years.

Dual relationships are common. They mean weighing competing ethical demands and making decisions that are complex. There are no simple answers; things are not black or white — they are gray.

I have known and worked with Sheriff Ross for over 10 years. His dedication to the community is unflagging. The manner in which he balances the needs of law enforcement and public safety and the care of inmates is evidence of his leadership skills, ethics and strength of character. I have seen him shoulder significant difficulty in his job as sheriff. I know him to be both thoughtful and ethical.

The BDN quotes him saying it took him days to decide what to do. He had only poor choices available to him — nothing was black and white. He made the most honorable decision he could. What a shame it would be to allow the circumstances of Rev. Bob’s death to compromise the standing of this wonderful and dedicated public servant.

Carol Carothers

Executive Director

NAMI Maine

Pray on your own time

To Gov. LePage and the two dozen lawmakers who signed the document “A Call to Prayer for Maine” ( BDN, Jan. 18), I would say that I don’t care if they pray on your own time, but they shouldn’t waste precious legislative time, ink and paper on what is not government business.

Sixteen percent of Americans are not religiously affiliated. Substantial numbers are of religions other than “Judeo-Christian.” Even if our citizens were 99 percent Christian, it wouldn’t mean that we are a theocracy: Our government was designed to be secular — for good reasons.

Christians are not being persecuted! In reality, our freedom to believe whatever we want is under constant assault, from seemingly benign but ridiculous actions like this one, to more serious ones by our own Christian Right.

Trying to impose even the beliefs of the majority’s religion on the rest of us is un-American. As for the motto “In God We Trust,” I propose that we return to our original motto, “E Pluribus Unum” — Out of Many, One. That is, if we actually want to be inclusive, are not trying to impose our beliefs on others and honestly believe in the First Amendment and freedom for all citizens.

Instead of bloviating about “plunging headlong into the post-modern void … a value-neutral and amoral vacuum,” etc., why don’t lawmakers and the governor do the work for which they were elected: improve the economy, promote jobs and provide for the common good? If that can be accomplished through prayer, what do we need them for?

Nancy Glista


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