The 2012 presidential election will certainly be one of the most contentious in history. Americans are deeply polarized. Some strongly support President Obama’s perspective on government, and many deeply oppose it. Many appreciate Obama’s leadership, and some see him as highly flawed.

While there are many opinions about the Obama presidency, there is only one set of facts.

Barack Obama was elected in 2008 because of the meltdown of the financial system and the resulting collapse of the economy. He was elected to get the economy on the road to prosperity. Nearly four years later and three and a half years after the end of the recession, the economy remains in shambles.

We have anemic economic growth. We have had 42 consecutive months and counting of unemployment rates higher than 8 percent. No president in modern history has been re-elected with an economic record this weak (2.1 percent real gross domestic product growth in the last two and a half years and 1.5 percent in the most recent quarter).

Americans have expected more, and they should expect more. They have not in the past and should not now accept excuses instead of performance.

Whatever your views are of Obama and his outlook on government, he has unfortunately failed at the job for which he was elected.

Liberal, moderate or conservative, failed leadership is failed leadership. The government will never work effectively if we do not hold leaders accountable for their failures. If we reward failure by re-electing Obama, we should only expect more of the same.

Whether rich or poor or in the middle class, Americans cannot afford a second Obama term. It is time for a change.

Jim Campbell

Peaks Island

Twenty-five years ago we had Ronald Reagan, Johnny Cash and Bob Hope.

Now Obama, no cash and no hope.

Conrad Boisvert

Old Orchard Beach

Critic of NRA gets it wrong about Constitution, gun laws

In a letter to the editor (Maine Sunday Telegram, Aug. 5), a writer opined that the wording of the Second Amendment (“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.)” precludes private ownership of guns for self-defense, reserves gun ownership to the militia and defined “militia” as law enforcement agencies.

The writer thought: a) the National Rifle Association’s defense of the Second Amendment de facto “gives every citizen … license … to kill a fellow human being if in his sole judgment he feels threatened”; b) the NRA would better spend its money hiring more state and local police so citizens won’t have to defend themselves when necessary; and c) automatic and semiautomatic guns should be declared illegal.

There’s a lot of confusion here.

The U.S. Supreme Court, not the NRA, ruled that the Second Amendment confers on the individual citizen the right to keep and bear arms. State and local governments can establish reasonable rules governing where and by whom guns cannot be used.

  A militia is actually an organized or unorganized armed force. It is not the police.

  The states, not the NRA, legislate conditions under which deadly force is justified. Merely feeling vaguely threatened is not enough; the threat must be immediate and without the possibility of retreat.

  State and local governments authorize, hire and maintain civilian police forces. The NRA does not.

  Automatic weapons are already illegal.

  Finally, the NRA Institute for Legal Action is the lobbying group defending gun rights. The NRA is a 501(c)(3) organization concerned with promoting shooting sports and marksmanship, and offers extensive training in gun safety, proper gun handling and laws regulating gun use.

Paul S. Bachorik

Falmouth

Tribute to father explores emotions all humans share

Greg Kesich’s column on his father (“A time to mourn,” Aug. 12) was a treasure.  

For all of us who have lost our parents, he offered a poignant reminder of the purpose of memory and the importance of allowing ourselves to grieve and remember.

With gratitude,

Rob J. Boudewijn

Portland

One could not but be moved by Greg Kesich’s tribute to the loss of his father.

The emotions, conflicts and griefs at death bind all humans in a profound and universal bond. It ties each of us to all those who now live, all those who have ever been and all those yet to come.  It is an inherent aspect of our humanity. The writing on the death of a father revealed that essential element of us all.

Through all human history, writers have also tried to express the emotions of death as a means of coping with its profundity. The ancient Greek poet Aeschylus offers insight and reflection of the conflict and is of comfort to those who suffer such. He wrote more than 2,000 years ago:

Wisdom

Comes alone through suffering

Drop by drop

In the sleep

Against the heart

Grief of memory

To calm the savageness of man

With the awful grace of God

The universal agony of facing the death of a loved one expressed in the column is a fine tribute to a man who spent his life and career in quest of the issues of God and the human soul. He no doubt would understand and appreciate the inquiry by his son. Yet, as a man of faith and humility he would tell the son, “Enough already! Haven’t I taught ye anything? It is all right.”

Tom Connolly

Portland

Program on Malaga Island enlightens as it informs

I have just recently heard a radio broadcast of “Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold” on my local public radio station (WMEA 90.1 FM) and was totally fascinated by it. 

I’ve lived in the Bath-Brunswick area for 30-plus years and have friends who lived in Phippsburg. I’ve traveled Route 209 to Popham and Morse Mountain more times than I can count, and I only “kinda” knew that someplace called Malaga Island existed.

As the project so eloquently proclaims, “No one wants to talk about it.”

I look forward to delving into the MPBN website and other sources of information on the subject, but in the meantime I wanted to let MPBN know what a wonderful job it has done. 

The radio broadcast alone was a gift to everyone who cares about local history, but the website is a work of art (and a “work in progress,” I hope).

I hope that MPBN continues this good work, and suggest a Chapter 2: “An Untold Story Finally Told.”

 John Kappes

Brunswick

Schools regularly violate students’ right to privacy

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law. It states that schools must have written permission from the parent/guardian or eligible student in order to release information from a student’s education record. Therefore, Maine students and families should feel secure about private information being released only with their consent.

However, Maine schools routinely violate FERPA.  

Each year, Maine high school students take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. Data from this test is routinely forwarded to military recruiters without student or parent/guardian permission.

Of course, students and families who are interested in exploring a career in the military may opt to release their data at any time, but those who are not should be able to depend on FERPA to protect their privacy.  

It is my hope that superintendents will direct their schools to protect the privacy of their students beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. FERPA is the law, and our students deserve no less.

Rita M. Clement

Pittston