Neither Congress, above, nor the president has taken substantive steps to address the many serious issues facing the nation, says a reader.
I have been registered as an independent voter since I was first eligible to vote in college (I am now 56). Like many, I am fed up with the nauseating state of politics in Washington and the partisan rancor of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Does anyone think that the founders of this country, the creators of a brilliant system of governance, would believe what a pathetic and reckless high-wire act their work has become?
Following decades that have witnessed the gerrymandering of voting districts, a huge infusion of money from corporate and special interest groups and distorted messaging through PACs, the system is now dysfunctional.
The only big question in the debate over the "fiscal cliff" is how much of the $16 trillion debt will continue to be "kicked down the road." Any deal will not seriously address fundamental and structural budgetary issues. And watch what happens when the debt ceiling issue comes up in February.
Congress has become a joke, with a popularity rating in the low teens. The president appointed the "bipartisan" Simpson-Bowles Commission and then did absolutely nothing with its recommendations. Real leadership, by both the president and Congress, could have taken those recommendations as a framework to start making a serious dent in the massive federal debt.
The confluence of political and economic realities has left this country in a fragile state. If the three-ring circus that Washington has become has taught us anything over the years, it has taught us that big change is needed -- and timing is everything.
The time, together with dire need, has come for a strong independent third party (and I emphasize independent). Our country's future and the brilliant system created by the founders have never been more at risk.
There is currently no real leadership being exhibited by all of our senior elected "leaders" in Washington. The deadline for the fiscal cliff has been known for 16 months; the election was over weeks ago; the end of the year is only days away. Yet all they are seeming to do is posture and blame the other side.
Real leaders would be telling the full truth and agreeing to start with the same facts. They would be governing for the country and the future rather than the next election and political advantage. They need to recognize that they were elected to solve problems. Since we have a two-party system, they need to work together to resolve America's problems, both short- and long-term.
Probably the only group that is working with people from both sides of the aisle without a narrow agenda is No Labels. They are facilitating bipartisan conversations that will allow our members of Congress to see each other as Americans interested in the future of our country, rather than as unknown adversaries as defined by their party caucus.
Check out NoLabels.org to learn more about this Problem-Solvers Bloc and about the group's ideas on how to make both Congress and the presidency work.
During Olympia Snowe's farewell address to her fellow senators, she chastised them for their lack of cooperation with their Democratic opposites and their misuse of the filibuster ("Sen. Snowe caps career working for Maine," Dec. 14).
However, the most outrageous infamy in Congress is related to the money that lobbyists and corporations ply congressmen with for favorable or unfavorable legislation, according to the desires of the lobbyist. Many congressmen are tainted with gold, much to the detriment of good legislation.
AARP food drives address critical local, state need
I am writing this letter to thank the members of AARP's six chapters here in Maine. Maine is No. 1 in all of New England when it comes to food insecurity. Especially during the winter months, many in our state grapple with keeping food on the table.
AARP's six chapters made an extraordinary effort to help by hosting local food drives that support food pantries and other programs such as Meals on Wheels.
The chapters collected more than 6,500 pounds of food this year, and several made sizable cash donations as well. These contributions will go a long way toward helping low-income Mainers who might otherwise go hungry in the coming months.
As they did last year, many local businesses participated in the AARP Chapter food drives, making the effort a true community affair. With Maine ranking ninth in the nation for food insecurity, it is especially important for us all to be aware of the needs of others.
AARP was founded more than 50 years ago by a retired educator, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, who recognized the power of community and the difference each one of us can make through "creating the good." We applaud the AARP chapters for their dedication and generosity.
community outreach director, AARP Maine
Guns give single assailant power over innocent crowd
As the sadly familiar debate resumes over gun control, now that our television screens have shown once again the sadly too familiar images of grieving parents, we will have once again thrown in our faces: "Guns don't kill people; people do."
This is not true. What is true is that people assault people; people batter people; people beat up other people; people swing baseball bats at people; people knife people, often many times.
But none of these acts will assuredly destroy other people or innocent bystanders in great numbers. These acts of violence and aggression are typically one-on-one, and engage, however sickly, some degree of physical courage.
But guns confer an enormous advantage on the single assailant, because unlike any other weapon, they are most likely to kill their targets.
Guns do kill people. The bumper sticker should read: "People assault people; but guns kill them."
What's more, guns -- as each mass murder by a single assailant reminds us -- are the ultimate coward's weapon. They enable a paranoid individual to kill his victims and innocent bystanders in numbers greater than his own, without demanding even the most irrational courage of a wild animal.
How anyone living in a civilized country can be both a parent and oppose serious gun control beggars the imagination.