In re: “Egypt leader grants himself far-reaching powers” (Nov. 23):

Michael Birnbaum and The Washington Post are seeing something they have not seen before: unchecked democracy in an Arab state.

Popularly elected President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt has finally swept out deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak’s judiciary.

What kind of judges does a dictator keep around? The world was wondering how long the timid-seeming Morsi would accept their rear-guard actions: acquittals, non-prosecutions (the prosecutor is part of the judiciary in Egypt) and the canceling of the parliamentary election that filled the Parliament with Islamists.

What this means is that Israel as the half-democracy (non-Jews are out of luck in the Jewish state, unsurprisingly) is now facing a massive Arab state where popular will is now forged into a democratic instrument.

On Nov. 23 , a crowd of Gazans pushed against the Israeli fence until live fire killed one and wounded 19. Imagine 80 million Egyptians marching on Israel. Michael Birnbaum and The Washington Post are. What does the Press Herald think?

Christopher Rushlau


GOP security cuts in Libya should be focus of questions

After reading William Goff’s letter Nov. 15, “Apparent Libya coverup may be tied to election,” I became curious regarding his questions to President Obama, beginning with his first question:

“Why wasn’t our (Benghazi) consulate protected by better security on the anniversary of 9/11 (especially since it had been attacked many times leading up to this date)?”

Information indicates that cuts in security funding for embassies came from Republicans.

As part of the Republican majority controlling the House, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., helped cut a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s two main security accounts. One covered security staffing, including guards, armored vehicles and security technology; the other, embassy construction and upgrades.

In 2011 and 2012, President Obama sought $5 billion for these security programs, but the House only approved $4.5 billion.

In 2009, Rep. Issa voted for an amendment cutting nearly 300 diplomatic security positions.

Then on Oct. 19, 2012, he publicly unveiled and identified CIA operational bases in Libya and subsequently released 166 pages of sensitive information on CIA assets inside Libya, including the names of some of those at the consulate annex in Benghazi.

Question 2 — “Why did you send our ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, to five Sunday morning talk shows to adamantly proclaim that this was a ‘spontaneous event of a mob’?” — seems moot.

So does Question 3 — “This attack lasted more than seven hours while these brave Americans … urgently requested help at least three times. … Why in heaven’s name didn’t you respond to their cries for help?”

However, Rep. Issa’s April 2007 meeting with President Bashar Assad of Syria, coupled with his support of Hezbollah, which killed 260 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, and tortured and killed Col. Richard Higgins and CIA attache William Buckley, would perhaps make Rep. Issa’s Lebanese heritage an interesting subject.

Bruce K. Hixon


Retiring senator is right: Parties must foster unity

I firmly agree with Olympia Snowe’s Nov. 9 editorial (“Another View: King editorial missed point about what Senate needs“).

We must stop with the current petty, back-biting, bickering rhetoric and address the problems of this nation; ridding ourselves of the 30-second nasty ads for the next election would be a great start.

We need to identify a mutually acceptable alternative when each party’s position fails, and work together to find a common ground. I believe, in essence, that is what our president was conveying us in his weekly address just after the election.

Oh yes, by the way, I am a Democrat, but I refuse to vote a “straight ticket” as many voters chose to do because they can’t see beyond the (D) or (R) next to a candidate’s name.

Kay Genovese


Space for ‘A Slanted View’ could be put to better use

I’m puzzled that “A Slanted View” has become a regular Saturday feature on the op-ed page of the Portland Press Herald, taking up a half page of space that could be better used for editorial purposes.

To me, it lacks humor, wit or purpose, and the delightful illustrations by Robin Swennes cannot redeem the pointless story line. Surely a few other readers feel the same way.

Barbara Doughty


Aid cuts won’t ease deficit, will hurt senior citizens

When Congress talks about cutting Medicare benefits or making people wait longer to get on Medicare, I can only think back to the time when there was no Medicare.

More than half of all older Americans did not have any health insurance back then. Many folks lived in terrible poverty even though they had worked their whole lives.

Is this where we are heading? Toward the past? Instead of ending tax breaks for the rich, we’re going to push senior citizens back into poverty? I cannot believe anyone in Congress would be so cruel.

My message is: Do not change Medicare! Protect it for my children and grandchildren because they are going to need it!

Rachel Sherman


Congress is heading for a showdown on the deficit. Medicare and Social Security benefits seem to be the target.

We have to stand up and fight: Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit. The Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.6 trillion surplus that we and our employers built up over decades. It will last for decades, and the only thing needed to make Social Security solvent for decades to come is for people with income more than $110,000 to contribute the same percentage that I do.

I urge all voters to call Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins today and tell them to protect our grandchildren.

Let them know that we won’t go down quietly if Congress cuts our grandchildren’s benefits. Instead, we need to raise taxes on America’s wealthiest because working people have already paid their fair share.

Raina Bumpus