February 9, 2013

Letters to the editor: GOP 'attack dogs' set sights on Hagel

The nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense is being derailed by the Republican far right because he isn’t parroting their agenda for the Pentagon, a reader says.

For eight years, the Bush administration led us into 12 years of unfunded wars and lied about weapons of mass destruction and the mismanagement of those wars. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were the instruments of the Republicans' misdirection and deceit.

The Republican attack dogs have forced Susan Rice to drop out of consideration for secretary of state, and now they are trying to smear Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.

I am greatly disappointed at Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They have prostituted themselves to the Republican far right.

Chuck Hagel is a twice-wounded Vietnam veteran. He was twice elected U.S. senator and is a successful businessman and strong advocate for the military and veterans. But being a moderate Republican, he does not fit the mold of the far right-wing chicken hawks.

Instead of addressing the current issues facing this country's military -- the bloated military-industrial budgets; cutting troop levels at the bottom instead of top-heavy brass; the extremely high suicide rates; multiple tours; and trying to control the world -- the far right wants to continue its war profiteering.

I certainly hope that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King can see beyond the politics of either the left or right, and vote for Sen. Hagel for secretary of defense.

Peter N. Greene

Buxton

I watched with uninterrupted interest the "full frontal" attacks on Sen. Chuck Hagel during his nomination hearings Jan. 31. The grandstanding of some of the senators was not only disrespectful, but also well-rehearsed, befitting the insistence of a schoolmaster demanding "yes" and "no" answers of an underage student.

It was a shameful display of a swaggering power play that mentioned our ongoing war in Afghanistan a mere 34 or so times, while badgering Sen. Hagel about 138 times about Israel and times past.

This experience of "democracy" in action left a foul taste in my mouth.

Yes, this enlisted person has seen war and its ravages by putting his boots on the ground, serving his country as a true combatant, not from the air or as a revered visitor.

Sen. John McCain's everlasting legacy is Sarah Palin. So much for his wisdom -- a colossal misjudgment and careless decision to win the presidency at all costs.

Now, in his bitterness, he can't function for the good of this country. Time to retire?

By the way, for Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Southerner, President Obama is a hard pill to swallow, isn't he? Too bad!

Christel Fiore

Portland

Plainclothes retired police wise choice to guard schools

I have been a gun owner for several decades. I also have a concealed-firearms permit. I feel very confident in my ability to defend my home and family.

I am also an instructor in the community college system. I don't have that same level of confidence if it came to defending my students, and if it come to defending small children, my confidence level slips even lower. My ability to shoot would need to be augmented with a considerable amount of ancillary situational training.

When the National Rifle Association suggested using retired police officers in the schools, my first thought was of uniformed black-booted security personnel more suggestive of a penal institution than a school.

Rather than a climate of safety, I believe this would make school a scary place for kids.

However, if done right, we could have the security needed and even enhance the school atmosphere. I suggest retired civilian and military police officers be used, but we handle things just a little bit differently.

Such men and women, being retired, would be older. If they were dressed in slacks and sweaters, carrying concealed weapons, perhaps using Air Marshal ammunition, interacting with the students every day while they walk the halls, they'd more resemble grandparents than guards.

Their interactions with the students would make them just another fun part of the school day.

These retired officers would already have all the necessary training I don't have. They would, of course, be thoroughly vetted, and working in concert with school administrators and teachers, they could provide the security our children deserve without the trauma. Such people would also probably appreciate augmenting their pensions.

Speaking as a grandfather to a Maine K-12 student, I don't think children would ever fear a grandparent, but a bad guy with a gun damned well better.

Jack Buckley

Durham

Perceptions of Al Jazeera stray far from the facts

I found Time Warner Cable's recent decision to immediately drop Current TV from their broadcast list following Current's sale to Al Jazeera pathetic but not surprising ("Many Mainers may not get Al Jazeera," Jan. 3).

TWC is either ignorant or just pandering. They must not know that while Al Jazeera is hosted by Qatar, a conservative Islamic country, Qatar also hosts U.S. Central Command, the largest and most important U.S. military command/control and intelligence-gathering facility in that region.

In other words, if the emir of Qatar hates America, he has a funny way of showing it.

There is no mystery as to why Al Jazeera has become so relevant in the last decade. Major Western news agencies have declined remarkably, reeling from entertaining to affirming but missing out on informing.

Al Jazeera has stepped into the void they left behind to the point where many in the Arab world credit the public's access to Al Jazeera as the main reason why the Arab Spring has been such an unbelievable game-changer in that region.

Ironically, domestic opposition to Al Jazeera is usually the strongest from people who are adherents of the nationalist perspective at Fox News.

For those who don't know, Fox News is a division of News Corp., whose minority owner is a Saudi Arabian prince. Yes, the same Saudi Arabia that gave the world Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

News Corp.'s principal owner is Australian magnate Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is married to an ambitious woman named Wendi Deng Murdoch. Mrs. Murdoch is an accomplished businesswoman on her own, helping to steer billions of her aged husband's media investments into her native country: communist China.

Islamists and communists and Fox? Oh my!

So why should we be scared of Al Jazeera? Answer: We shouldn't.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach

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