Lead ammo ban on federal land wrong

As a hunter and conservationist, I am disturbed to learn that one of the final acts of the outgoing director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was to ban the use of lead ammunition on federal land, including wildlife refuges, park lands where hunting is permitted, and other land the agency administers. Worse, the ban was effective immediately.

This executive overreach is not the first time an outgoing administration made controversial decisions at the last minute without public input or without any consultation with Congress. And I’m sure it won’t be the last. It is critical to consider how this order could impact hunters and conservation as a whole in our country and not just in Maine.

It is money spent by hunters that pays for conservation through hunting licenses and stamps and the Pittman-Robertson Act, which created an 11 percent tax on equipment, such as guns, ammunition and archery equipment. Hunters lobbied for these taxes and fees because we understand the importance of conservation. The problem is that the more expensive ammunition now required on many public hunting lands will price many hunters out of the sport.

So, in addition to likely causing a decrease in hunting participation, the order will harm conservation efforts by diminishing revenue used to protect and enhance habitat and conserve wildlife.

This is not a sound approach to managing wildlife because it harms habitat and wildlife. For the sake of hunters and wildlife across our state, let’s hope that the new administration rescinds this damaging order.

Don Kleiner


Maine needs Obamacare

I am one of the thousands of Mainers who acquired health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. I have the best insurance plan available, and I spend $70 per month on my premium. The Affordable Care Act is the only reason I can afford health insurance, and it’s the only reason I can afford the medication for several chronic diseases I have.

This is what’s allowing me to get my education because I don’t have parents’ insurance to stay on. Without this, I would not only be unable to continue my education, I would likely become disabled in a matter of months, completely unable to work, and I would wind up on Medicare as a result.

That would make no sense. People often wind up being forced out of the workplace because of a lack of insurance. Women who are denied family planning wind up with unexpected pregnancies that push them out of the workforce. Blue collar workers wind up injured, and they can’t afford to see a doctor. Type 1 diabetics without access to insulin wind up as amputees. Asthmatics often wind up hospitalized, and people with chronic pain often become addicts without access to proper medication management.

That’s why we need Sen. Susan Collins to stand up for the people of Maine. We need a champion.

Tyler Williams


Russian meddling troublesome

With tongue in cheek (one assumes), Michael Cianchette in his Jan. 21 BDN column ties the craziness of inaugural week politics to the full moon and Friday the 13th. Apparently Cianchette was a bit moonstruck himself when he suggested Rep. John Lewis’s objection to the presidency of Donald Trump has to do with Lewis’ supposed opposition to the Electoral College. Rather, Lewis said that Trump is an illegitimate president because “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Lewis is privy to classified information that the public does not have. And one need not agree with him about the Trump presidency, but it seems to me that he’s raised an important point. Foreign interference in our elections is a serious matter, which has grown more compelling. Press reports on the day before the inauguration revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating intercepted communications and financial transactions between Russian officials and associates of the Trump campaign.

This is a serious and worrisome revelation. Lewis’s conclusion may be off, but he’s highlighted something that should concern us all regardless of political orientation. Sidestepping the issue as Cianchette has done is no service to the truth or the community of his readers.

Merrill Milham


Sanders’ compassionate populism

During the Democratic primary debates, Bernie Sanders, a Jewish atheist and avowed democratic-socialist, was asked about his religion. He sensibly, if blandly, recited the Golden Rule, surely as unassailable a moral dictum as ever was spoken by prophet or god, but then he did something remarkable.

As if he foresaw that the voters might want to know something more about the deep foundations of his morality and his commitment to socialism, and foreseeing that he would be attacked by his opponents for embracing an atheistic, Marxist materialism, he ventured very briefly into the profoundest metaphysics, the metaphysics of compassion. He said:

“The truth is at some level. When you hurt, when your children hurt. I hurt … I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it’s very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry or veterans who are sleeping out in the street. And we can develop a psyche ‘I don’t have to worry about them’ … So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity. When we say that that child who is hungry is my child. I think we are more human when we do that than when we say, ‘hey this whole world is me. I need more and more. I don’t care about anybody else.’’

Compare this with Trumps inaugural speech: “From this day forward, it’s only going to be America first, America first.”

One could fit the unmeasurably vast distances between heaven and hell into the space between Sander’s profession of our ontological identity and Trump’s nativism. And this, more than any collection of policies, is the difference between the two populisms.

Kevin Sheasgreen