As I watch the so-called “swing states” flicker between leaning blue and leaning red, I can’t help but wonder why Maine, with its iconoclasm and fiercely independent tradition of strong public service, is not a swing state.

Why are we considered to be a “blue state,” when the most reasonable position for a thinking voter at this time is to be, as they say, “undecided.” Engaged and reasoning voters need to ask themselves which course forward is best for the nation, and has the party in power earned a second term in office?

Maine deserves better at this time than to be solidly “blue.” The only advantage, as I can see it, is that we avoid a lot of political advertisements and robo-calls.

James Fleming

China

No time to take a POWDA on age discrimination bill

I’m glad the AARP is supporting passage of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate. This bipartisan bill couldn’t come at a better time.

With age discrimination in the workplace becoming a more serious and growing problem, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 made things worse by imposing a much higher burden of proof on those workers who allege age discrimination than on workers who allege discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin.

As a consequence, the ranks of the unemployed are swelled by those workers suffering age discrimination and unable to get their day in court. It is sobering to note that older workers who lose their jobs have been suffering periods of unemployment that last an average of 56 weeks.

The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act is sponsored by Senate Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa and Patrick Leahy of Vermont and by Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. I’m hoping that our U.S. senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, will join many of their colleagues in this bipartisan effort to fight workplace age discrimination.

The fate of POWDA is uncertain, but what is certain is that older workers need better protection against discrimination.

Phil Chin

AARP communications volunteer

Yarmouth

Ryan character revealed in phony marathon time

The Maine Sunday Telegram article about Paul Ryan’s misstated marathon time is the best-yet glimpse into character of the vice-presidential candidate (World/Nation Dispatches, “Ryan says he misstated marathon time by hour,” Sept. 2).

In a campaign focused more on the candidates’ character rather than the actual policies candidates would bring to effect on the American people, this insignificant, off-the-wall, fraudulent boast of his marathon time reflects the true nature of the man. The man aiming to become, arguably, the second most powerful person on Planet Earth can correctly add to his glowing resume “Legend in his own mind.”

To run and finish a marathon is an impressive feat. Even once in a lifetime, as he did. What purpose does fudging time serve? And he explains his claim of 2 hours, 50-something minutes, or “under three hours,” to actual time as reported by Runners World magazine of more than 4 hours as a mistake in rounding off the numbers?

Some advice for the Honorable Paul Ryan: Save talk of your athletic prowess for the locker room, not the national media.

John Orr

Portland

Armstrong a hero, yes, but had a human side, too

I liked the article on the front page of the Aug. 26 paper about Neil Armstrong (“Armstrong recalled as modest hero”).

I got to interview him when I was a college student at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, Ill., back in 1969. He was a very pleasant person and the thing I most remember about the interview was what he said about his divorce.

Our college paper was called The Glimmerglass. Neil Armstrong had been invited to lecture, but I worked the evening of his talk. It was so exciting to talk to him in person anyway. I am not even sure my article was published.

The main thing I took away from the interview was success does not heal a broken heart. Only God can do that. His divorce was more important to him than his fame and fortune.

Lucy Holm

Brunswick

Animal lover doesn’t miss absent deer ‘harvesters’

I read with interest the front-page, above-the-fold story in The Portland Press Herald (Aug. 22) titled “Fewer hunting, more hurting,” and have a question. If killing deer is called “harvesting,” why are the killers called “hunters”? Shouldn’t they be called “harvesters”?

Perhaps this is just spin to make this blood sport more palatable to the more emotionally stable of the population who don’t need to hunt down and shoot something to feel better about themselves. I hike with trepidation this time of year when men with guns (many drunk or hungover) stalk the woods shooting at anything that moves.

Every year, the toll of innocents shot by these murdering marauders seems to climb. I, for one, am glad that fewer of these knuckle-draggers are coming to Maine. Good riddance!

Don Kimball

cruelty investigator, Peace and Justice for Animals

South Portland

Newspaper way off base promoting dread of winter

Regarding the Sept. 2 editorial, “Want to enjoy a perfect Labor Day? Don’t read this.”

Last year, my first winter in Maine in many, many years, I was surprised to read an article about dreading winter. This year, perhaps as last, the “dread” tone is set by The Portland Press Herald. And way before the season’s arrival.

Please stop. Celebrate that winter is often joyful and often beautiful; it is a normal part of our life and the lives of millions across our country. Why set the tone of dread and endurance? Your words germinate like feelings among your readers.

As last year, I’m disappointed to hear such words in Maine. This year and in all years to come, I want to look forward to a normal, natural part of our year and life.

Set the example. Start us with a positive mindset. Every day of winter is precious as is every other day and we should celebrate it.

Eileen Purdy

Portland