Trump embraces fake history

President Donald Trump’s repeated use of a specious story about Gen. John Joseph Pershing and Muslim insurgents in the Philippines speaks volumes about his childish mindset when facing real-world security issues.

In the false narrative, Pershing ordered 49 rebels killed with bullets dipped in pig’s blood. He then ordered the surviving rebel to tell his people what happened. In Trump’s imagined world, “there was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years.”

Beyond Trump’s infatuation with generals and his readiness to embrace conspiracy theories and phony history, the Pershing anecdote celebrates an atrocity, a war-crime totally contrary to Pershing’s actual behavior toward Muslims in the Philippines. The most telling aspect of Trump’s engagement with the Pershing fantasy is his belief in the extended effectiveness of an iconic act of brutal intimidation, whether real or merely verbal. The notion that the Muslim insurgency in the Philippines was quelled for decades by the mass execution is dangerous nonsense and an appalling misreading of real world consequences.

It is comparable to believing that the Boston Massacre by British troops in 1770 should have quelled revolutionary fervor in the American colonies for years afterward. Such is the mentality of the man who serves as our president.

James Matlack


Protect ranked-choice voting

It took 40 years, at least nine elections with instances of vote-splitting, numerous bills in the Legislature, grass-roots activism and a referendum in 2016, but Maine finally spoke loud and clear on the desire for election reform by passing ranked-choice voting by the second largest “yes” vote on a referendum in Maine’s history.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court cast legal concerns over this reform when it issued an opinion stating that applying the law to general elections for governor and the Maine House and Senate violated the Maine Constitution. Still, that means its use for state and federal primaries and general elections for Congress do not conflict with the Constitution. One of those elections is the gubernatorial primary, which is happening next June.

There were 12 candidates in the 2010 gubernatorial primaries, and there may be even more lining up to run in the 2018 primaries. Ranked-choice voting would ensure a majority vote in crowded primaries and forestall a repeat of 2010, when the two major party nominees — Libby Mitchell and Paul LePage — were victorious with just 37.3 percent and 37.9 percent of their party’s support.

As we move closer to June 2018, please recognize that ranked-choice voting is still being threatened with full repeal by opponents in the Legislature who want to preserve the status quo. If we want to rank our choices next June, we have to fight for it now.

David Vose


Livable communities

With the recent additions of Old Orchard Beach and Stonington, Maine boasts a total of 40 towns and communities that have joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. In fact, Maine leads the nation in the number of towns, large and small, that are making a difference in the lives of residents of all ages through creative and collaborative efforts.

Using the structure of Network of Age-Friendly Communities, towns adopt such features as safe and walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. These are just some of the ways a community can become a great place to live for residents of all ages.

I hope other towns in Maine will seize this same opportunity to learn more about age-friendly options for their own communities. AARP Maine will work closely with towns, businesses and nonprofits to provide guidance, technical support, tools and resources to help put good ideas into action.

The momentum to embrace a livable community concept continues to grow. It is exciting to see how cities and towns across Maine are embracing age-friendly planning where age itself is not a barrier to being as active in community life as people want to be. We have a vibrant older population in Maine. Cities and towns of all sizes — from Portland to Gilead — are tapping into the economic, civic and social power of their residents over age 50 to make the community a better place for everyone.

Patricia Oh

Age-friendly consultant

AARP Maine