Who are “we” the people?

The first Americans are people whose ancestors have been in this part of the globe since before recorded history. I’ve got to confess that I don’t know how far back these people can tell their history.

Then came Europeans, et al. First the Scandinavians and then Columbus and all who followed. At first “we” came mostly from Europe, then Africa, Asia and everywhere.

For more than 500 years, people have been immigrating to this part of the world. The flow has never and will never stop. And some of the flow also goes out all over the world, too.

My family has welcomed immigrant blood over and over again. I remember my Irish grandfather’s accent and my English coal-miner forebears – some of whom proceeded on to Australia – and my great-uncle, the butcher from Germany who made the best bologna in New Jersey.

Our family can bless someone for a sneeze in five languages besides English: German, Greek, Spanish, Korean, Italian, all spoken by one relative or another. And there is at least one branch of the family that goes back to the Francis Cook family of the Mayflower settlers. What is your family’s story?

The industrialists and the railroad builders, et al., of the 19th and 20th centuries loved having all the low-cost employees, skilled, unskilled – same as various industries do now.

So, why did “we” develop immigration laws? Why did unions take hold? Where did the concepts of workers’ rights and human rights come from? What is “justice for all”?

Why are so many of us struggling now? This is a broad discussion “we” all are part of.

How do “we” move forward from here? Think about it. Talk about it. Please do so with civility and respect for all the people of the “we” around you.

Priscilla J. Jenkins


Critic offers no good reason to disdain Byrnes’ Irish Pub

I just read the review by Nancy Heiser of Byrnes’ Irish Pub in Brunswick (“Dine out Maine: Byrnes’ Irish Pub suffers from nondescript food, so-so service,” March 31) and find her review to be completely contrary to my experience. I can only conclude she doesn’t know what makes for a local Irish pub.

She writes about “the single boxy space” and “nondescript tables.”

What did she expect? Matchy-matchy decor? No self-respecting pub would have that.

Rather, they would (and do) have a collection of assorted tables, chairs and wall hangings that frequently have been given to the Byrnes family by their (faithful) patrons.

Was she seriously suggesting that the beer should have been tinted green? Is she that clueless and disrespectful of good beer?

My husband frequently orders the meatloaf or shepherd’s pie – and enjoys it. My favorite is Karl’s Irish Pastrami Burger or Brian Boru Reuben, or appetizers Cashemole, Irish Nachos or the artichoke dip – all generous enough to be a light supper.

(By promoting other restaurants in this review, is she being paid to advertise for them?)

I was amused that Ms. Heiser complained that the fishcakes’ “filling had a strong, fishy flavor.” Hmmmm … and what is it that she was expecting?

Her second visit apparently went better, but it sounded like it pained her to say anything positive about the place. Her good review is rather grudgingly given, and for every positive, there was an accompanying negative.

It’s hard to believe that everything is as terrible at Byrnes’ as reported. They would hardly have survived – really thrived – these past years if that were so. They wouldn’t have a houseful of happy patrons every weekend and Tuesdays for Trivia Night.

And Brunswick and Bath would both be the poorer if they didn’t have the consistent generosity to the community of the Byrnes family.

Ellen Kyder


Professor errs by linking gun ownership, violence

I certainly hope that professor Stephen T. Murphy’s column of April 1 (“Off Campus: Fear of gun violence should not lead to fear of mentally ill“) was an April Fool’s joke.

In the last several paragraphs, he suggests disarming the population except for weapons necessary for hunting. He also sees a correlation between percentages of gun ownership among the population and the violence rate.

If I am not wrong, the Second Amendment to the Constitution makes no reference to hunting.

And the state of Maine ranks among the highest in the percentage of law-abiding citizens who own firearms and among the lowest in violence frequency.

On the other hand, the exact opposite is true for Illinois, New York and Massachusetts, which all have very restrictive gun ownership and carry requirements, and much higher violence frequency.

It still holds true: “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Randall C. Foster


Delegation must heed Frank on future of Social Security

Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s enlightened commentary about the best way to fund Social Security (“Social Security ‘entitlement’ deserves funding and respect,” March 31) left us in awe of his intellect.

God bless you, Congressman, for your years of public service. We so miss your voice of reason in the halls of Congress but completely understand why you had enough.

Maine’s delegation would be serving us and the nation by following his advice.

Lynn and Don Johnson


Implementing jobs proposal would aid even LePage foes

Our governor has clearly identified the requirements to attract jobs to Maine. We need low-cost energy and a lower tax burden. We need to be a legal right-to-work state, to have a skilled work force available, and to have a convenient business climate.

If these things come about, employers will take notice. They will move to Maine in spite of our remote location with its transportation costs, our relatively harsh climate and spotty education system. We have an ocean, lakes and woodlands that are unexcelled for families.

I do not understand the reasoning of the Democrats and labor unions who oppose our governor. They also must pay high electric bills. They must pay taxes.

Unions have an opportunity if a nonunion employer comes here and does not treat the employees well. That opportunity expands if they support our schools in the training of skilled tradesmen who are potential members.

It is well established that the best way for state revenues to increase is by more people paying taxes, not by increasing the tax rate. Attracting industry and small businesses to Maine is the opening to more people working and paying taxes. Maine then can give better care to those who cannot care for themselves.

My hope is that the legislative majority Democrats will stop playing childish games and act like statesmen. Their foremost concern should be the welfare of our state, not the welfare of the Democratic Party and its special-interest supporters.

Thomas F. Shields


Portland pair overreacting to annoying marijuana odor


To the West End couple annoyed by the smell of their neighbor’s medical marijuana (“End result of pot law has some surprises,” March 31):

Talk to your doctor. Maybe he or she could prescribe something that will help you to relax, smile more, get beyond minor annoyances and enjoy life more.

You live in a beautiful part of a wonderful city in the greatest country in the world. Enjoy it.

Randall Woods