President Obama is directly and personally responsible for the climate in the Middle East that led to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and more broadly for the explosion of anti-American violence across the region.

As they did 35 years ago, the intentional choices of an idealistic and arrogant president led to entirely predictable and utterly disastrous results.

Yes, the Islamist mobs have both the motive and moral responsibility for committing these crimes. However, Obama’s policies provided them both the means and the opportunity, without which these crimes could not have been committed.

As did President Carter, Obama undercut a flawed but loyal American ally who had kept the peace in their part of the world for 30 years.

Both then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the shah of Iran failed the fastidious and Wilsonian “idealism test” that defines both Carter’s and Obama’s foreign policies. The shah was abandoned in his hour of need, as was Mubarak.

The predictable result was the replacement of flawed American allies with active enemies. The ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood are both terrorist-oriented and publicly committed to destroying Israel and ejecting America and the West totally from the Middle East. Both have body counts going back decades, numbering in the thousands.

In Egypt, Presidents Anwar Sadat and Mubarak changed the whole nature of the Arab-Israeli wars. Pre-1974 wars fought with tanks have shifted to wars of insurgents and assassins. The Egyptian army was kept off the battlefield. All of the security provided by this, especially the Camp David Accords, is now at risk.

Obama’s support for terrorist-oriented “protesters” in the Arab Spring has brought us to the brink of a full-scale Middle Eastern war. His weakness has invited attack. The American people should hold him to account, and vote him out of office this November.

Ralph K. Ginorio


School choice won’t work when schools are so unequal

Gov. LePage would be shocked that I, a veteran teacher of 25 years and proud member of the Maine Educational Association, agree with him that school choice would benefit students in Maine.  

All students are not alike and would benefit from different styles of learning and teaching.  

What Gov. LePage and most critics of American educators fail to recognize is that school choice will not work if we fail to make all schools equal in quality first.

Providing education to students of extremely variable abilities, social and emotional maturity levels, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc., is not the same thing as competing for the burger market in capitalism.  

Gov. LePage chooses the parts of research that support student choice, failing to look at the bigger picture.

Finland has rated in the top three countries educationally for the last 10 to 15 years.  

This was not always the case. Finland vastly improved its educational system by focusing on making the process of becoming an educator a very competitive market, thus improving the caliber of educators and then making public education equal, no matter what socioeconomic level.

Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility, says that Americans don’t want to hear the main message on why Finland has improved its educational system so quickly. It doesn’t fit with our political agenda.

Finland doesn’t use standardized tests except in the year of graduation.

All schools are equally funded.  

Candidates must apply for admission to free graduate programs to become a teacher. This process is extremely competitive.  

In Finland, all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay and a lot of responsibility.

Conservative politics wants to ignore these factors and focus on choice.

But what good is choice if schools are so drastically unequal?

Valerie Razsa


There’s no room for Snoopy at Ogunquit Beach events

In Ray Routhier’s very well-written piece on the Ogunquit kite-flying festival in the Sept. 6 “Go” section, he starts with the line “It would be Charlie Brown’s dream.” He goes on to describe a day of fun in the sun, running on the beach, kids laughing and playing. The painful obvious omission for some is “No Snoopy Allowed.”

This is a direct quote from the town’s website: “Dogs are not permitted within the Ogunquit Beach area or the Marginal Way from April 1st to September 30th.” No vagueness there, plain and simple, 24-7, on leash or off, six months a year.

On Sept. 9 (the very day after the kite-flying festival), a short 10-minute ride north on Route 1 to Kennebunk Beach, a “Strut Your Mutt” two-mile walk on the beach took place to raise funds for the local shelter.

And to Saco’s credit, the councilors just voted to keep their current dog-friendly beach ordinance intact, with the minor restriction requiring leashes in season between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which most of us can live with.

The late great Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill was a firm believer that dogs and kids should be together, as I’m sure Snoopy would agree. Apparently dogs are not welcome in the town of Ogunquit, which, in my opinion, sounds unlike anything near the freedom we’ve come to know and love in this country.

Sorry, Snoopy, not this time.

Bill Thomas


Cigarette smoke not only trigger for sensitive people

An open letter to those who would ban cigarette smoking outdoors:

Do you wear perfume or fragrance of any kind? Do you wash your clothes in “spring air”-scented detergent? Do you dry them with fabric softeners that make them smell like “fresh air”? Does your shampoo or body wash leave a “clean smell”?

Well, I’m here to tell you that all of those lovely scents impact on my airspace.

Walking through a large open office area to reach my cubicle requires crossing a gantlet of warring aromas. By the time I make it to my work space, I have a screaming headache. And I work in a “fragrance-free environment.”

I am a former smoker who prefers not being around smoke or excessive fragrances. Your scents are causing me as much harm as the cigarette smoke.

Please use some common sense and be as considerate of those who are as addicted to cigarettes as you appear to be to your fragrances.

Susan Johnson