It’s amusing and a bit sad to watch local Republicans and their supposedly freedom-loving allies in the tea party movement throw out individual liberties when it suits their political goals of gaining and maintaining power.

The individual right to vote, perhaps the greatest liberty we have, will become subject to more government regulations if these folks have their way.

A carefully orchestrated plan from national leaders has caused 20 states, including Maine, to push recently for restrictions on voting by requiring photo IDs.

While they argue this is no different than boarding a plane or buying Sudafed, the analogy fails. Both of those government-imposed restrictions on individual liberties were in response to real and legitimate security and public safety which gives government the right, under our Constitution, to restrict our liberties.

But unlike the airline restriction imposed after our country was attacked by Osama bin Laden and the Sudafed restriction imposed because of widespread drug abuse and resulting higher crime rates, the Republicans are creating a crisis to suit their unspoken goal of suppressing voting by those who happen to be poor, who may not have cars or drivers licenses/photo IDs, who may not easily be able to get to the polls because of economic or other social conditions.

Where is there any evidence of widespread or even a small amount of voter fraud that would justify such a regulation and surrender of liberty?

Those of us with cars or trucks take them and our photo IDs for granted, but in urban areas, many do not have drivers licences and will not be able to vote.

This is nothing but a power-grab, which will diminish voting by the less fortunate who do not have high-priced lobbyists to stand up for them. Maine can do better.

Paul Hogan



Spending on Christian music should yield to real charity


Once again, many evangelicals throughout New England are making their summer plans to go to the Soulfest concerts in New Hampshire.

There, headline Christian musicians play a series of concerts over four days in August.

While I enjoy music of all styles, I cringe a little every time I see a promo for this event.

The fact is, for the price of a family of three to go to Soulfest, that same family could sponsor a Third World child through ministries like Compassion International, World Vision or Gospel for Asia.

In other words, for every family of three going to Soulfest, there’s a child in Africa, Asia or Latin America not receiving an education, food, health care, and, yes, religious training.

When I speak about this in churches and Christian schools, there’s almost always someone who says to me afterwards, “We sponsor a child and also have enough to go to Soulfest each summer.”

My answer is, “Consider sponsoring a second child, and skip the festival.”

I’ll admit, my family and I have attended some concerts with fairly steep ticket prices. For one of our anniversaries, I took my wife to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Rockland.

But, with more than 50 percent of sub-Saharan Africa living on $1.25 a day, Haiti still years away from rebuilding and 1.3 billion people worldwide living on a dollar a day or less, those of us who claim to follow Jesus need to start asking how many children’s lives is our “sanctified” entertainment really worth.

Richard Hagerstrom



Services for special needs endangered by cutbacks


As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, I would like to comment on a few points that were presented in your May 15 article, “Graduating to an uncertain fate.”

The most helpful, crucial information you printed is that there is an agency, STRIVE, that heard our fears and understood the panic brought on by loss or reduction of services and stepped up, once again, to do their best to offer a solution.

Their $205/week program will be a lifeline to many who otherwise would have to quit their jobs to provide 24-hour care for their children. Of all the information you provided in your article, this has tremendous potential to help many, many families!

Every downturn in the economy results in loss of services to people with special needs.

When the economy is good, they are human beings worthy of a decent life. When the economy goes bad, all those commitments to supporting a decent life for the disabled go right out the window.

There are 700 people on the waiting list? That’s criminal. Most parents of handicapped people I know want to work – their biggest fear is that they won’t be able to if their children can’t get services.

These are people, who, instead of having their children placed in group homes costing the state as much as $100,000 a year, are keeping their children at home, and just want a few hours of services a day so they can keep their jobs, and make sure their children can get the continuum of services they need in order to lead healthy, productive lives.

When the state closed Pineland and deleted that budget from its ongoing expenses, it did not delete its obligation to this group of people. For anyone who thinks the safety net is intact, this is one massive hole.

Peggy Cloutier



Constitution plainly shows the states are not sovereign


Defenders of the idea of state sovereignty, like Mr. John Sutherland in his recent letter (“Government needs more restraint,” May 18), might best read the document they profess to revere.

Article 6, second paragraph (the “supremacy clause) of the U.S. Constitution, provides that the Constitution, federal laws and treaties are the supreme law of the land, and that the judges of every state shall be bound by them.

This is hardly consistent with state sovereignty, especially as the Constitution grants extensive (but not unlimited) powers to the federal government.

Trying to align Alexander Hamilton (of all people) with state supremacists shows that Mr. Sutherland and others who hold the same position simply do not know their American history.

Gary G. Caplan