Monument poll misleading
I find the BDN’s daily poll questions to be occasionally relevant, though more often easily overlooked. But the question and results from the May 28 poll are highly misleading. The question asked, “Do you plan to visit Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument [Memorial Day weekend]?” Seventy-five percent of 301 responders answered, “No.”
The problem with this kind of question and its replies is that there is no opportunity for analysis. Were the naysayers people who had other plans already for the weekend? Or were they all people who don’t support the monument?
I can just hear Gov. Paul LePage grabbing these numbers and saying, “See! Seventy-five percent of Mainers don’t want to visit the monument!” It would be just like him to ignore the nonscientific nature of the poll, the fact that it was date-specific, and the actual number of participating readers to blow it up all out of proportion (as is his wont) to underscore his determination to undo the monument designation.
In light of the fact that the BDN has consistently backed the monument and has reported on the positive effects its existence is having on the region, this poll was counterproductive at best. I trust that the BDN will continue to offer articles that support the monument and its benefits, especially in light of the Trump/LePage efforts to undermine its designation.
It is a great gift to our state, and I can’t wait to visit.
Terrorist speech not protected
Terrorist groups like the Islamic State have been using social media and other broadcasting venues as a platform for recruitment. It is important to keep in mind that sometimes the people who make these videos are American. Therefore, they are under the protection of the Constitution.
The question as to whether these videos violate the First Amendment is difficult to answer. There are some clear (and not so clear) provisions that limit the First Amendment, especially regarding free speech and freedom of the press, including solicitation to commit crimes and libel.
But is Islamic State soliciting people to commit crimes if they just advertise to people to join? Is the premise of the commercial violence, or joining an organization? Please keep in mind that this is by no means an endorsement of the Islamic State, just an attempt to decipher their manipulation of the American justice system. The type of video being released helps determine whether it is covered by the First Amendment. For instance, a video depicting people killing others and asking others to join would be a violation while a commercial simply saying “Join the Islamic State” would be covered under the First Amendment.
The foundation of any terrorist organization is to carry out violence, create fear, panic and discredit Western governments through any means possible. If that is the mission of a group like the Islamic State, then all their videos would not be protected because the intention is to encourage violence.
Early Head Start a sound investment
I was pleased to read the May 23 BDN article about a University of New Hampshire study outlining the benefits of early childhood learning programs, particularly for at-risk kids. The story included a 2011 photo of me reading to children at a Head Start Center in Bangor. I believed in Head Start then, and my commitment to supporting Head Start and similar early education programs continues to this day.
Like many business owners, both active and retired like me, a major reason I support early childhood programs is that they help kids lay the groundwork for the skills they’ll need in the workplace. Maine has workforce challenges, and a serious “skills gap,” meaning that many businesses cannot find the skilled workers they require.
Studies show that part of the solution is for our kids, especially our at-risk youth, to participate in programs like Early Head Start. Reaching children in their early years helps them develop the abilities that will improve their futures — as well as Maine’s future economic competitiveness.
The University of New Hampshire study urges Maine to do more to support early childhood programs like Early Head Start in order to help our most vulnerable kids get the foundation they need to succeed in life. I have witnessed the power of these programs. They can make a big difference for at-risk and economically disadvantaged youth, and they are a worthy investment that we owe to our kids — and our state — to make.
Trump budget reprehensible
Like all Americans with any semblance of a conscience, I am horrified and insulted by President Donald Trump’s reprehensible budget, which would give enormous tax breaks to himself and his billionaire cronies while savagely cutting funding to everything that is good and decent in our country, including programs for the poor, education, the arts, scientific research, environmental protection and public lands management.
In addition to dooming millions of Americans to ignorance, poverty, poorer health and reduced quality of life, Trump’s budget would decimate our environment, and it also would doom 80,000 federally protected wild horses and burros to the grisliest of deaths in foreign slaughter plants through savage cuts to the Bureau of Land Management’s budget.
Trump’s budget represents a drastic change from virtually all current government policy, yet associates of the Trump campaign are under investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the election. If these serious allegations are confirmed, Trump’s presidency and any budgets arising from it cannot be considered legitimate.
Until Trump releases his tax returns and cooperates with investigators, he must not be allowed to dismantle our democracy and institutions through budgetary or other means.
In closing, I would like to offer a quote from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which I would urge Trump to study and commit to memory: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”