I disagree with Kathleen Parker’s column (“Obama’s singing is in tune with the music of the Hollywood rich,” June 7) on the support Obama receives from people in show business. The nugget I take issue with is this: “It becomes increasingly difficult for the Obama campaign to insist that the president is fighting for the little guy against the evil rich when no one is so rich as the company he himself keeps.”

Presidential campaigns cost money — more than one candidate, or scores of the whatever-sized guys he represents, can afford. Parker’s argument works when big business and political interests throw money behind a candidate; they benefit explicitly from having “their guy” in power.

But Obama isn’t helping George Clooney get parts. Movies in America are political-party-in-power-proof. I think it’s nonsensical to suggest Obama may compromise his support of the non-wealthy because he accepts help from wealthy people who share his vision.

To reframe Parker’s logic, think of a soup kitchen. It isn’t funded by the ones who need soup. It’s funded by the ones more fortunate who support the mission of the soup kitchen.

The rest is commentary.

Sam Clarke


Politicians using stars and vice versa goes back several generations. Remember JFK? Ronald Reagan?

Sadly, Kathleen Parker seems to be part of a Republican attempt to attack Obama for the George Clooney $40,000 dinner and get voters to forget the millions or multimillions that Republicans are getting from business leaders.

Also, there are two big differences between the stars and the business types. The stars mostly want hoopla — publicity — they like the glitz. The business folk, though, have very specific goals, usually centered on lower taxes and fewer regulations.

Also, the Republican donors can give to a super PAC, and in some cases, as with Karl Rove’s Crossroads, they can give anonymously because of the PAC’s tax status.

Dinner with Mr. Clooney is certainly a sexier story, but why those big shots are giving millions to Republicans is a much more important story.

Fred Rotondaro


Immigrants share other parents’ goals for schools

There is currently a dilemma in Portland regarding the search for a new school superintendent.

As new Americans, those of us from the immigrant community look for the same qualities that any parents seek in school officials: experience, integrity and a passion for education. We all value our children’s future, and the only thing we care about is who can do the job, not their color of skin.

However, some individuals in the city are misleading decision makers, and the people of Portland, regarding how immigrants view the search for the new school superintendent.

Through what can be described as “he said, she said” tactics, these individuals are spreading the idea that immigrants are pushing for a person of color to be hired as superintendent solely because of race. If one would actually talk to parents in the immigrant community, rather than spread assumptions on their behalf, a more accurate picture would emerge.

Our children’s future cannot be compromised by individual agendas. As Malcolm X said, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

As part of the Portland public schools parent community, we are standing up and saying that we will not be the scapegoat for anyone’s agenda regarding this issue. We support the right candidate for the job, without regard to race, and the hiring process should be fair and transparent to the people of Portland.

Our school district cannot afford to lose middle-class families nor quality education for low-income children. We need a superintendent who understands the value of education in Maine and knows how to balance the needs of our kids with the demands of their parents. The correct choice is the person who can do the job, regardless of the color of their skin.

As a Portland resident and parent of children in the Portland public schools, I would like to thank our current superintendent, Jim Morse, for his service and dedication. Our children are making progress and have farther to go. As another civil rights leader once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we are all in the same boat.”

Hamza Haadoow


Venus transit offers lessons for young science students

Did you miss it? On the scale of world political events, it wasn’t too spectacular. In light of the economic problems facing the world, it was easy to overlook. But from a scientific standpoint, it was the event of a lifetime.  

I am referring to the transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun June 5. Watched by projection from a small telescope or a pair of binoculars, there it was: a small dot, black against the brightness of the solar corona, surrounded by a few sunspots.

Occurring in pairs, the last transit was in 2004; the next pair will occur in 2115 and 2117. So if you missed it, too bad. It will not occur again in our lifetime.

Did your children’s science teachers tell them about it? Did they show them how to view it? Did they tell them of its importance to our understanding of our solar system? If not, why not? It is the stories of scientific events like this that will help our children understand the importance of science to our lives.

In 1639, observers from around the world, using the best telescopes and timekeeping devices available, prepared to view a transit of Venus. From their observations came the first accurate measurement of the distance from the Earth to the sun.  

Their measurement of 95 million miles was surprisingly accurate. From this measurement, astronomers were able to calculate the dimensions of our solar system, vastly improving our understanding of the scope of our little planetary group. Other observations during Venus transits led to the discovery that the planet has an atmosphere.

Measurements from the June 5 transit will help astronomers in their search for “exoplanets”: planets, especially Earth-sized, in other solar systems circling other suns.

Again: Did your children learn about this event in school? If they did not, you need to ask: Why not?  

Science is not about memorizing facts, it is studied interaction with our environment. It is observing, analyzing, asking questions, gathering data and drawing conclusions. Ask yourself: Is that what your children are receiving in their science education?

Larry Ryan