The Republicans’ fervor to cut spending by targeting unions and every other project they disagree with reminds me of my mother. She wasn’t real happy about my marriage and she was trying to keep herself from mentioning it openly.

One evening we sat down to eat as a family and found we were one place setting short. My mother immediately said, without thinking, “Oh, Mickey (my wife) doesn’t have a place to sit.” There were nine of us there and no one had been seated yet but she knew the missing place setting belonged to the person she didn’t want there.

We laugh about this now, but it reminds me of the Republicans’ cost-cutting measures.

The problems we face with deficits have to be because of either programs they disagree with or with entitlement spending. It can’t be the $1 trillion-plus we’ve spent on Iraq and Afghanistan or the ill-conceived tax cuts for our wealthiest Americans. No, it must be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Possibly veterans’ benefits or federal employee pensions.

On the state level, it must be the teachers and public retiree benefits that need cutting or freezing. The problem can’t be that ample money was set aside and then lost in the stock market. It must be that these benefits are underfunded and we must cut back on those greedy retirees.

Really, there must be no place for Mickey to sit. How awful!

Richard J. Lawson


Don’t look to State House for role model for our kids

A governor elected with only 38 percent of the vote needs to govern for 100 percent of the people.

Gov. Paul LePage continues to embarrass the state with his comments about the NAACP and women and BPA — they may “grow beards,” “getting turned down by more women in the last few weeks than all the years in college,” etc.

A governor needs to be a leader, a role model for our kids. He is certainly not that.

A governor who won with 38 percent of the vote and has alienated many since the election would have dim prospects in a recall election. California did it, perhaps Maine can as well.

Randy Schwartz


Footrace envisioned ‘twixt first lady, Rush Limbaugh

I read in the Portland Press Herald (Feb. 24) that Rush Limbaugh called out Michelle Obama for her alleged hypocrisy for feasting on ribs while at the same time urging the nation to change its reprehensible dietary habits.

This is one of the many reasons I love America, and in particular the First Amendment. Our leaders can never become true despots (of the sort now being toppled in North Africa) because we the people have the power forever to remind them with impunity of their human foibles.

However, I respectfully suggest that Mrs. Obama exercise her First Amendment rights and call out Mr. Limbaugh. I further suggest that she do this by challenging him to a footrace around the White House Rose Garden.

Ground rules would require that both parties wear shorts, with TV cameras running. The race can be set to the music of “Chariots of Fire.”

If Mr. Limbaugh loses, he should weed Mrs. Obama’s vegetable garden for an hour. If the first lady loses, she should appear for an hour’s interview on Mr. Limbaugh’s radio program. The winner must treat the loser to lunch, of a vegetarian menu of the winner’s choice.

In order to give both parties a sporting chance, they would have 60 days to get in shape. The race would take place on May Day, a holiday dear to the hearts of socialists everywhere.

I hereby volunteer to fire the starter’s pistol, free of charge. One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go!

Richard A. Estabrook


Speculation responsible for sky-high oil prices

A recent letter to the editor suggested oil pricing is related to “old-fashioned supply and demand” and that we should heed the words of the energy expert Sarah “drill baby drill” Palin.

I contend that it is speculation that creates unreasonably high oil pricing, not supply and demand. The litmus test is whether there is some evidence of a supply shortage when prices go up unusually quickly. In a speculative bubble, there is product available.

The Commodity Exchange Act of 1936 was designed to prevent speculators from controlling the price of necessities such as food commodities (corn, wheat, soy) and oil and gas. The act allowed for speculative hedgers as well as physical hedgers, those who actually produce or use the commodity, to buy or sell futures contracts.

To prevent the speculators from controlling price, government set up position limits to guarantee the physical hedgers would have the dominant position. The idea of hedging is to provide an insurance policy of sorts for the suppliers and users, and this worked well for more than 50 years.

Sometime in the 1990s, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (government regulator) began secretly granting exceptions, allowing certain speculative hedgers to act like physical hedgers and become free of position limits. These exceptions skewed the proper balance between physical hedges and speculators in the energy and other commodity markets. The end result is that the speculators can hoard contracts and drive prices upward even when there is sufficient supply.

Goldman Sachs and 15 other big companies that have received exceptions to the position-limits rules are again buying loads of contracts in the commodity markets for pension, hedge and sovereign wealth funds for which they collect incredible amounts of money in fees, as these contracts roll over monthly. This will create another commodity bubble (high prices) in products ordinary people need to thrive.

It becomes an indirect taxation where your money goes to the speculators who drive the market price higher. Only by restoring regulations on speculation will supply versus demand be the deciding factor in commodity pricing.

Jeff Madore