December 09, 2019
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Monday, Nov. 18, 2019: Honesty and decency, Alan Dershowitz and impeachment, backtracking in Syria

Honesty and decency

Democracy is founded on honesty and decency — respect for facts, people, laws, institutions and values, even when they don’t further our personal interests. Marks of an autocrat are the absence of honesty and decency. We now have a president who fits that description — generating endless false narratives and acting without respect for people, institutions and values that don’t further his wealth and glory.

The Constitution empowers Congress to protect democracy by providing a check on the executive branch. Congressional oversight can take the form of impeachment, as the House is now considering. But there is another kind of oversight that is simple, direct and essential to the ongoing work of maintaining democracy: Members of Congress can speak out, confronting dishonesty and disrespect for persons, laws or institutions whenever it appears.

I believe the current president poses real threats to democracy, and the Senate Republican majority has responded with deafening silence. Their unspoken message is that decency and honesty are not important, that public office can be a means to pursue private interests, and there is no check on executive power. Their silence normalizes corruption, degrades our democracy and harms us all. That will be the sad legacy of each and every member of the Senate’s silent majority.

It is Sen. Susan Collins’ job to speak out for honesty and decency. Her voice has never been so important.

Stephen McKay

Orono

Alan Dershowitz and impeachment

This is what Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who describes himself as a liberal Democrat, said during an appearance last Sunday on New York AM 970 radio. He equated the Democrats’ obsession with impeaching President Donald Trump to the KGB under former Soviet Union dictator Josef Stalin. Dershowitz argued that the Democrats are “making up crimes” and weaponizing impeachment against Trump.

“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, whether you come from New York or the middle of the country, you should be frightened by efforts to try to create crimes out of nothing,” Dershowitz said. “The latest twist was people on television, particularly CNN and MSNBC, are saying that if the president or somebody else were to name the whistleblower in the Ukrainian situation, that person would be guilty of a crime. Well, I spent the afternoon yesterday searching the federal criminal statutes from beginning to end. I couldn’t find the crime.”

He added that, “It reminds me of what Lavrentiy Beria, the head of the KGB, said to Stalin. He said, ‘Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime,’ which he really meant, ‘I’ll make up the crime.’ And so the Democrats are now making up crimes.”

Jack Gagnon

Lakeville

Backtracking in Syria

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has announced that around 500 soldiers will stay in Syria to maintain control over the Islamic State. The United States is trying to maintain control over the land for Syria’s safety, so when Trump claimed he was going to remove troops from Syria there was a strong backlash, and he seems to have quickly revised that approach.

Trump believed that the time for compliance was over, but unfortunately, there need to be soldiers on the ground since the Islamic State group will attack if there isn’t a force to stop them. Trump’s miscalculation of necessary power could have led to detrimental results. It is incredibly important to the safety of civilians that the armed forces don’t leave too early or late. I’d like to highlight how this use of military aid in this event is vital for the well-being of Turkey and Syria. Trump’s intention was to bring troops home and maintain the safety seen in Syria and Turkey. The outcome if Trump had persisted in removing all troops would have likely been detrimental. How will this affect the U.S. relationship with Syria and Turkey, and its allies?

Belle Bernhoeft-Gutierrez

Lewiston

 



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