Who will carry LePage’s torch?

Who will carry the LePage torch for the GOP in Maine’s upcoming primary? Three of five current candidates would be, as governor, former legislators: Garrett Mason, Ken Fredette and Mike Thibodeau. That they’ve been “in the system” is both a pro and a con. The ability to compromise with Democrats is sometimes valuable in the Legislature, but GOP primary voters tend to be more idealistic, wanting a leader with a strong vision. They’ve been historically unwilling to reward anyone running as a “consensus-builder.”

Voters remember Shawn Moody from his previous clumsily unsuccessful run. While he’s a conservative-talking successful businessman, he garnered an abysmal low-single-digit percentage in 2010, and not just because he ran as an independent. His delivery sounded unpolished and his platform seemed vague and reactionary — more talk-radio caller than chief executive. Moody’s current attempt to paint himself as the governor’s heir apparent (by surrounding himself with LePage people) is an ironic stance for someone last seen running against Paul LePage.

Mary Mayhew, whom LePage entrusted with Maine’s biggest agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, is off to a strong start. Inheriting a department that was furloughing workers and stiffing its partner agencies, she’s been an indefatigable, results-driven manager with an immovable conviction that, resources being limited, the neediest of the needy must come first. The Mayhew DHHS didn’t just a dole out of welfare, but was left leaner, more efficient and more accountable than when she found it. Voters at the Lincoln County Caucus, the Colby debate and out on the trail are enthusiastically responding.

Paul Tormey

Reject hunting amendment

Mainers who care about their rights should have serious concerns about a right that’s threatened by LD 11 — legislation recently heard by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and now subject to further review — that seeks to amend the Maine Constitution to establish the right to hunt and fish. The fact is that Mainers already have the right to hunt and fish, and putting this redundant “right” in our Constitution is a solution in search of a problem.

LD 11 is particularly motivated by the unfounded fear that hunting in Maine will come to an end, even though no referendum has ever proposed that all hunting be outlawed. What has been targeted is the cruel and inhumane treatment of wild animals — ambushing bears as they are lured by human junk food, hounding of bears and bobcat with GPS collared dogs, trapping of almost animals and executing them as they lay helpless and struggling.

This would remove one of the few tools — citizen initiatives — that residents have to enact reform on wildlife management methods that society may no longer find acceptable, humane, effective or sportsmanlike. This sets a dangerous precedent of suppressing public input on an issue that is clearly of great importance to many Mainers, while determining who can and cannot petition the government by limiting the subjects of a citizen initiative.

Maine has long relied on its voters to enact critical policies. LD 11 would deny them that longstanding constitutional right. It’s a right we can’t afford to lose.

Don Loprieno

LePage’s attack on judiciary

Gov. Paul LePage’s attempt to publicly browbeat long-serving Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Joseph Jabar into early retirement with one of his standard-issue nastygrams threatens the foundation of our democracy. Maine is lucky to have an independent judiciary. Our judges are appointed, not elected. Detached from day-to-day political pressures, they are not required to curry favors, raise money, or consider the impact of legal decision making on their re-election chances.

Removing the judiciary from the political circus that dominates our news cycle was not an accident. The separation of powers anchors our democracy and protects the rule of law from tyranny. It allows, for example, a Republican-appointed federal judge in Virginia to strike down our Republican president’s travel ban as unconstitutional — without fear of political retribution. Politicians who attack judges out of spite, or in an attempt to influence, undermine the judiciary’s independence and the rule of law.

By treating Justice Jabar like another political punching bag, LePage has again shown us how little he knows about democracy. Maine’s most litigious governor never hesitates to rely on our courts and the rule of law to protect himself. He needs to show the same respect that he receives.

Ben Donahue
South Portland

Shamanism cross-cultural practice

Our shamanic practice was featured in Homestead section of the BDN last month, and since then, we’ve heard from a few people who are concerned about cultural appropriation — taking other people’s religious traditions and using them as though they were ours.

To be clear, we don’t practice or teach Native American shamanism or ceremonies. We teach the methods of core shamanism, the basic techniques condensed from shamanic practices common to all people, separated from any individual culture’s religious meanings and symbols. Contrary to popular belief, shamanism is the birthright of all humans, not only Native Americans.

All of our ancestors practiced shamanism, on every continent and in every culture, at some point. In Asia, shamanism is the official religion of Mongolia, and in Korea, shamans are listed in telephone directories. The Sami of Scandinavia still practice it, as do certain families in Ireland, Scotland and the Basque country. In Africa, mediums and shamans work together regularly in many countries. Jewish tradition clearly documents 2,000 years of soul-journeying to spirit realms.

Cultural appropriation is just as big a danger on our continent. When non-Native teachers offer trainings in Native American ceremonies their intent may be good, but in our opinion it’s not theirs to teach. That decision should rest with Native Americans themselves.

That’s why we teach core shamanism, practices common to scores of cultures worldwide and not drawing on any single culture’s rituals or ceremonies. Core shamanism brings the essential methods to people whose ancestral shamanic practices are no longer available.

Chris Marshall