Collins shows loyalty, courage

After becoming the director of the Christian Civic League, one of the first leaders with whom I met was Sen. Susan Collins. Sitting in her office in Washington, D.C., I told her I was committed to advocating for our issues respectfully and compassionately, including the very divisive issue of abortion.

I wanted her to know I was accountable to her due to the biblical principles of submission and intercession in Romans 13 and I Timothy 2. I was obligated, even when we strongly disagreed, to be fair and accurate. I asked her to let me know if I or any of my staff didn’t meet those obligations.

Since then, I have occasionally criticized her. I have yet to hear from her or her representatives that we have done so inappropriately. Fairness also entails commending a leader when they do something with which we agree, especially if there is a political or personal cost.

Collins has been heavily criticized for introducing her longtime colleague Sen. Jeff Sessions before his confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general. It would’ve been easier for her to pass on this action, but she did what she thought was right based on her knowledge of Sessions rather than the caricature the media and his political opponents created. I thank her for her courage and loyalty.

I also commend her for attending the inauguration. She easily could have used her injury as an excuse to stay home, but once again, she did what she thought was best for the country.

Carroll Conley


Trump and America First

I would like to share just a couple of impressions about Donald Trump’s inauguration.

First, President Trump’s inaugural address was fully consistent with his campaign statements. For better or worse, that shows a consistency in his intentions.

Second, I was very impressed by the new first lady’s modest but resplendent apparel. She may surprise us in a positive way as she undertakes her new role.

Third, and this would have been noticed primarily by citizens who remember the 1940 presidential campaign, Trump twice used the phrase “America First.”

While this may have a new meaning for him, it is disturbingly reminiscent of the slogan adopted by Americans who were known as “America Firsters,” who strongly opposed any American involvement in World War II. Their attitude was that we should not come to the aid of England, which desperately needed at the time weapons and planes to withstand the Nazi Blitzkrieg.

It was not a wise choice of words, in my opinion. If it had not been for the U.S. involvement in World War II, the world would have likely fallen under Nazi domination and Japanese imperialism.

The inheritance of the war, which fell upon the shoulders of the United States, was that of world leadership in the cause of freedom, and we cannot abdicate that inheritance, despite the bitter fruits of our involvements in Vietnam and the Middle East.

Regardless of how one voted, our democratic process has once again demonstrated its strength and stability.

Hal Wheeler


Obamacare repeal means higher costs

Congress appears to be set on a path to repeal the Affordable Care Act and privatize Medicare regardless of the impact this will have on individual Americans. Here is an example of what your health insurance may cost if Congress proceeds with its plan and you are self-employed, have a job that does not include health insurance, lose your job with its health insurance benefits, or retire into a world with privatized Medicare.

This year, the private health insurance premium for my healthy family of five is $33,229.68. My wife and I are self-employed. Because we are selling assets to pay for the university education of our two eldest children, we are not eligible for the Affordable Care Act subsidy. Our insurance policy is bare bones with a high $10,400 deductible. Premiums are calculated based solely on age. The premium costs per individual are $12,948.48 for me (62 years old), $10,050.48 for my 55-year-old spouse, $4,506.96 for my 22-year-old daughter, and $2,861.88 each for my 20-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. That’s before we start paying off our $10,400 deductible.

Based on the costs outlined above, what would your private health insurance cost if the act is abolished or if Medicare is privatized? Will you be able to afford health insurance of any kind after Congress abolishes the act and privatizes Medicare? Who is Congress representing when they move to abolish the act and privatize Medicare? Hint: Not you or me!

Clifton Page

East Blue Hill

Accept end of marijuana prohibition

Just as Americans must accept that Donald Trump won the election, so must Mainers accept that a majority of us also voted to end cannabis prohibition. Now it’s up to lawmakers to come up with legislation to write the new laws into the books. They say they need more time to draft rules governing commercial marijuana operations. That may be time well spent.

What the majority of Mainers voted for was to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for anyone 21 or older, and the right to cultivate up to six plants under discreet conditions. These two items effectively decriminalize cannabis, and they are very easy to adopt. The Legislature should address these concerns right away in order to honor the referendum process, which is one of the fundamental grass-roots expressions of democracy.

Where legislators need to take their time is the consideration of the other two aspects of the referendum: Whether to allow large-scale cannabis growing and sales and whether to change existing laws regarding driving under the influence.

Many growers and users of medicinal cannabis voted against the referendum because they feared that the state would over regulate a burgeoning cottage industry or unfairly burden responsible users with draconian restrictions. Those concerns should be considered by lawmakers.

Lawmakers should check with their constituents to clarify what we really wanted when we voted to repeal prohibition. They should also enact immediate measures to decriminalize the possession and cultivation of small amounts by private citizens for their own use for which most of us voted.

Bowen Swersey

Southwest Harbor