In a recent interview, NBC correspondent Matt Lauer pointedly asked the former President George W. Bush, “Why is waterboarding legal, in your opinion”? Bush replies that the lawyers said it was legal.

While I respect the former president’s regard for the expert opinion, this answer is not enough. It does not express his personal opinion and it does not claim torture as a moral issue. Torture is always wrong.

I am a pastor of a United Church of Christ congregation in South Portland that embraced this faith when waterboarding was still a new concept. In 2007, our congregation read the words in Psalm 8 where humanity marvels together at the work of God’s fingers.

As individuals and a community, we share a faith on Meetinghouse Hill that all humanity should be “crowned with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). As people of faith, we agreed that torture does not make us any safer if another human being is not seen with this glory and honor. In 2010, we still work with the Maine Council of Churches to ensure that this faith continues.

I join people of faith and those engaged in the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture in a call for a comprehensive investigation of our nation’s use of torture. In doing so, I believe that we can learn from our mistakes.

Rev. Elsa A. Peters

First Congregational Church UCC

South Portland

 

Early learning programs worth their weight in gold

 

Not only will early learning programs have well-recognized, long-term economic benefits, these programs will, in fact, significantly increase sales of local good and services today across the state.

According to the business leaders’ organization, America’s Edge, investments in quality early learning will generate as much or more in new sales as investments in construction, manufacturing, transportation or utilities, while creating much-needed jobs. In fact, every $1 invested in early learning will generate almost $2 in total sales for Maine businesses.

Quality early learning will also help us ensure we have a workforce with the 21st-century skills businesses need.

Children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are significantly more likely enter to school with the underlying skills needed to succeed in school and later in the workforce. These programs increase language skills, lower the need for special education, and increase graduation rates – by as much as 44 percent.

Given the positive, short-term impact early learning has, I urge Maine policy makers to prioritize early learning as a very real economic sector in our state that will help jumpstart our economy and build the foundation for sustained economic security.

John Peters

President, Downeast Energy

Harpswell

 

Support the troops by going to the polls

 

I read a study last summer that said that many of our troops overseas feel demoralized by low voter turnout in U.S. elections. In their opinion, they are fighting and dying for the right to have democratic governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, while we show disrespect for our democracy at home by not bothering to vote.

Things have not improved this November, as Maine had a dismal 55 percent voter turnout, which (even more sadly) exceeded the turnout in many other states.

What is our problem? Why are we so lazy? And even more upsetting is that many lazy non-voting people have the gall to speak to their friends and neighbors about their political opinions. Worse yet, they may have a sticker on their car that says, “Support Our Troops.”

Nice. As I said earlier, our troops surely do not feel supported by non-voters. Get off your couch, America. Vote.

Margo Donnis

South Portland

 

Political season litter is too much, too soon

 

The election is over. Maybe things will return to normal.

No more ugly signs everywhere, I mean everywhere. Taking a ride to Height of Land in the Rangeley area and being greeted by campaign signs along the roadside can really take away the beauty. Signs, signs, everywhere a sign. My street and every other street, bridge and highway is infested with them.

TV commercials can go back to soap and Toyotas instead of some candidate talking trash about an opponent rather than discussing issues that might interest voters.

Most of the people running for office in recent years need their knuckles slapped with a ruler or their mouths washed out with soap – for wanting a job so badly they are willing to dishonor themselves by bashing their opponent with absurd and childlike tactics. It is getting like Christmas.

The campaign starts so early that by the time the big day arrives people are just wanting it over with.

Greg Locke

Portland

The painfully high cost of an unnecessary war

 

As a veteran I find it extremely disturbing to read highly inaccurate letters to the editor defaming our troops who have served and are serving in combat, sent there by our political leaders. A recently published letter revealed either gross ignorance of the essence of the war in Iraq or naivety in understanding the events there.

First, we never should have begun a war with Iraq. Any well informed, knowledgeable person who accomplished minimal research knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

One particularly outrageous justification for the Iraq war was the fabrication of Iraq producing biological weapons in laboratories operating from cargo trucks. Our civilian leadership justified the Iraq war based on wholesale lies. Even former President George W. Bush admits as much in his recent book.

It is painful to witness the losses of young Americans, but it is also painful that thousands of Iraqis died in a war based on fabricated evidence. War is a scourge. Modern weapons intensify that brutality. The Iraqis and our troops have paid an enormous price.

Unfortunately there have been a few cases of American troops behaving barbarically, but the military severely punished those few.

Lastly, the Wikileaks are essentially a repeat of commonly available news. Having read them extensively, there is nothing in those leaks that has not been reported by the media over the war years.

Don Edwards

South Bristol