Collins plays a moderate

Was Sen. Susan Collins courageous or calculating when she announced she would oppose Betsy DeVos’ nomination as secretary of education? Collins initially approved DeVos in committee, where Collins said she wanted the entire Senate to vote on DeVos. But if Collins really thought DeVos was unqualified, as she said later in her public statement, she should have voted against DeVos in committee. Instead, only after it appeared that Collins’ opposition vote would not make any difference in the full Senate did she publicly come out against DeVos’ confirmation.

The calculus? Collins will have the appearance of being a centrist, appealing to independents and Democrats, without suffering any political consequences for her actions. Collins risked nothing with her opposition, and she will pay no political price for her actions. It is a win-win for Collins and a lose-lose for her constituents.

Republicans should be angry with her for voting against DeVos in the Senate, but Collins can easily point to her vote in favor of DeVos in committee and say DeVos was going to win Senate confirmation anyway. Democrats should be angry with her because it appeared as though she took a stand, while she may have been counting on her actions having no effect whatsoever.

Collins has cleverly calculated how to appear to be promoting herself without actually serving the interests of either her Republican or Democratic constituents.

James Myers


All justices interpret

Matthew Gagnon in his Feb. 2 BDN column stated that Judge Neil Gorsuch was a worthy heir for late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court because he, like Scalia, is an “originalist and strict constructionist.” He doesn’t “interpret” the founders’ intentions.

I doubt that justices, no matter how objective they strive to be, can avoid interpreting the Constitution. The reality is our founders could not predict the future; hence, Supreme Court judges often must interpret.

In Citizens United, Scalia essentially decided that corporations are people. Corporations did not exist until the 19th century, so he would have had to “interpret” what rights the founders envisioned for corporations. The exorbitant amount of money now being spent to sway public opinion no doubt will affect our senators and representatives. The founders could not have foreseen the influence of money on mass media and elections.

Gagnon rightfully cites the ability of the people to amend the Constitution, but he sadly ignores the reality that the power of money and the power of fear often overwhelm reason and responsible judgment. All justices interpret.

Phillip Reppond


Lenient sentence sends wrong message

The comments of two of the defendants convicted of misdemeanors during a protest outside Bath Iron Works last June prove that Sagadahoc County Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings was too lenient in sentencing them to 30 hours of community service in lieu of a fine, which the prosecutor recommended.

As a result, the defendants mocked the system when they said they would do the same thing again, expressing no remorse for their conduct and showing that being ordered to perform community service was not a deterrent whatsoever.

Judge Billings was intent on sending a message to the public. Well, the message he intended to deliver may not be the one that was heard after reading about this far too lenient sentence.

Ethan Jones


Native Americans true forgotten people

It is true that President Donald Trump is keeping some of his campaign promises to his base, but he is not addressing the rights and needs of all those Americans who have been “ignored” as he promised in his inaugural address.

I am speaking specifically of the Standing Rock Sioux, whose rights have been, along with other Native American tribes, ignored since we “immigrants and refugees” arrived on America’s shores centuries ago. Protesters from all over America, other countries and 2,000 of our veterans have spoken out to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from going underneath the tribe’s water supply. Now Trump wants to move this project forward rather than have the Army Corps of Engineers explore an alternative route that will not threaten the water supply.

So, who specifically is Trump referring to when he promised that Americans who have been long ignored will not longer be ignored?

Fran Bodell


Trump reverses on Dakota Access pipeline

I am feeling overwhelmed by all the outrageous and deplorable actions our federal government is taking under our new president’s bullying “leadership.” I have been writing to our state senators about a wide range of issues, and every time I listen to the news or read the paper there is yet another disturbing headline that demands response and resistance.

Just recently I read about the hurried efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers in North Dakota to push through the easement that allows for the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline. They originally granted until Feb. 20 for public comment and environmental impact assessment, but President Donald Trump instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the process, so they did. Yet another instance, in a very long history of such instances, of the federal government breaking its word with our Native American citizens and putting profit before people.

I am angry and appalled and embarrassed by this new administration, and in my 40 years as a voter I have never felt this level of anxiety about the future of this beautiful country as I do now.

Sara Hessler


Rescind travel ban

We understand that many are fearful for our national security. Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes we can be safe as a nation and show honor and respect to the people of the global community in which we live.

We urge President Donald Trump to rescind his executive order on refugees and immigration. Many of our ancestors were immigrants and refugees. Our history shows that immigrants and refugees have studied and worked hard, contributing to our communities and becoming grateful, responsible citizens. Our nation is blessed with a diversity of faiths and backgrounds.

Janet Hough


Vassalboro Quarterly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)