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January 9, 2013

2012 File Photo/The Associated Press

A girl holds a photo of slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens at a vigil outside the Libyan Embassy in New York on Sept. 13. When Stevens was killed, Republicans soon doled out blame, but following the Newtown massacre, conservatives said that talk of new limits on firearms was an effort “to ‘capitalize on a tragedy,’” a reader says.

Letters to the editor: Libya, Newtown reactions contradictory

It has gotten to the point where Republican pundits and politicians are saying so much that is absolutely contradictory it has to be pointed out on a case-by-case basis.

The latest example is the total disconnect in conservative dogma between the Benghazi, Libya, consulate attack and the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New Jersey.

The fires at the Benghazi compound were not yet extinguished before Republican lawmakers and pundits were leaping at the opportunity to make political hay at the expense of a then-campaigning President Obama. Promises of "answers" and "accountability" were made by Republican politicians, and the president and his Cabinet officials were branded in conservative media as just as much to blame for the attack as the terrorists.

There is no denying that the Benghazi attack was a tragedy. An ambassador, a veteran Foreign Service technician and two former Navy SEALS working security died in the service of their country. As a nation, we should never understate their sacrifice and the peril they willingly undertook on our behalf working in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Fast-forward to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

In the immediate aftermath, conservative lawmakers and pundits moved quickly to quash any talk of new firearms regulations at the behest of their National Rifle Association underwriters. We were told not to "capitalize on a tragedy for political gain" and that "now was a time to mourn, not play politics."

According to conservatives, when 26 helpless children and teachers die in Newtown, Conn., any meaningful legislative response or national dialogue is grossly inappropriate, but immediate, baseless and unending innuendo tied to the Libyan tragedy is perfectly reasonable.

Maybe so many years of reality-detached propagandizing have left the conservative spin masters deaf, but more likely they know, pathetically, that their "base" will always buy it.

Jeremy Smith

Old Orchard Beach 

You quoted Sen. Susan Collins in a recent article ("Collins blasts U.S. government over Benghazi," Dec. 31) as stating: "The fact is Benghazi was awash in dangerous weapons and extremists and yet the State Department either ignored or responded incompletely to repeated pleas for more security, for more assistance from those on the ground in Libya."

I would like to paraphrase her pronouncement right back to her:

The fact is the United States is awash in dangerous weapons and yet the Congress either ignores or responds incompletely to repeated pleas for more security, for more assistance from those on the ground in our towns and cities.

Jill Blackwood

South Portland 

Methadone funding rules disregard facts on addiction  

Re: "Some MaineCare patients will still have access to methadone" (Dec. 28):

It is difficult to comprehend the thinking behind the guidelines you cite for continuing MaineCare coverage of methadone (or buprenorphine) beyond an arbitrary two-year time frame.

The consistent, documented, worldwide experience for almost half a century has been that when addiction treatment ends (any treatment, whether with or without medication), relapse to illicit, destructive and potentially fatal drug use is the rule and not the exception.

Furthermore, the guidelines you report would deny further treatment to those who need it the most: those who are unemployed, not socially connected, etc.

Finally, the notion that the presence or absence of a "spiritual component" to the lives of patients will be a factor in approval or denial of a potentially life-saving treatment seems inconsistent with our Constitution.

Even in the absence of compassion and with a focus exclusively on state finances, this new legislative mandate is unfathomable. Whatever the cost of providing treatment, the cost of disease, family disruption, crime (and punishment!) will be far, far greater.

Robert Newman, M.D.

New York City

Time to make cap-trade program fulfill its promise  

As superstorm Sandy was battering the East Coast, New England shrimp-fishing regulators set a season quota 75 percent smaller than last year's, in response to a report from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission scientific panel that the Gulf of Maine shrimp population has shrunken due to environmental conditions.

The head of the panel that produced the report said evidence shows "the likely culprit for the decline is warming ocean temperatures."

Many lobsters taken off the coast of Maine in late spring were shedders that molted their shells a month and a half earlier than normal. Bob Bayer, lobster biologist and the director of the University of Maine's Lobster Institute, said shedding like this has never happened this early, and water temperature may play a role.

These events are consistent with what we know about climate change. Warmer weather means warmer ocean water. While climate change is a global problem, its impacts are experienced locally.

And this is why Maine joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a CO2 cap-and-trade program for electric generators. But if Maine is really concerned about conserving its fisheries and related jobs, then this should be reflected in Maine's participation in this initiative.

RGGI is in the middle of a redesign, including setting new emissions limits. According to comments filed by more than 20 Northeastern environmental groups, RGGI is looking at potential cap levels that are so inadequate that they would not produce any meaningful emissions reductions.

For years, climate has been an untouchable issue in Washington. Despite Congress' failure, RGGI states like Maine demonstrated leadership. Now, as we experience first-hand what will happen if no action is taken, the RGGI states have lost their initiative.

It's time for Gov. LePage to connect the dots and get Maine to make RGGI live up to its promise.

Lauren B. Farnsworth

Lewiston





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