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The PartiesWhat amazes me is that with...


The Parties

What amazes me is that with all the commotion about the presidential candidates -- their strong points and their weak points -- very little is mentioned about the parties and traditions .. they represent.

My primary reason for supporting Bill Clinton is that the Democratic Party over the years, and in spite of its many faults, has represented, in general, what I believe in. The Republican Party has represented, for the most part, a tradition I do not support.

Likewise, if I were a Republican, I would support George Bush.

I believe that we make too much of our presidents -- looking for the perfect leader, a "savior," without realizing that no perfect politician exists and that all politicians are beholden to their parties and to their constituencies.

Contrary to a popular myth, there is a significant difference between the political, social and economic goals of the Democratic and Republican parties.

George B. Laurent


City Taxes

While we are disturbed by the recent violence in the city, the opportunism of public officials who see it as an excuse to raise taxes seems short-sighted and damaging to the city's long-term prospects.

Baltimore already is a high-tax jurisdiction. The mayor's apparent belief that he need only go along with a hike in the piggyback rate ignores the fact that the city competes for existing and prospective residents not only against neighboring jurisdictions but also against many other states. As capital that is abused flees -- or avoids the abusive locale -- so do people.

The piling of tax upon tax is a prescription for accelerating the city's decline. The administration's message is that when faced with tough choices, the city will withhold resources from public safety rather than shrink its transfer-type programs or demand concessions from public employees.

The effect of that on the privately employed middle class is not felt all at once. But does anyone believe that this city is headed, over the next decade, for a period of growth and greater prosperity? More of an answer is required than reflexive chauvinism.

An imaginative leadership would be pulling out the stops to move toward sharply lower taxes and a smaller public sector.

Its first priority would be making the city an urban magnet to the population that produces wealth. That requires forsaking the policies that have wrecked so many urban centers.

John and Mira Boland


No Compromise

Your editorial Sept. 13, in favor of the pro-abortion side of the Nov. 3 referendum, was not surprising in light of your past editorials and news coverage of this particular issue.

What was surprising was your wholesale adoption of the spin given to this legislation by the pro-abortion side. The editorial stated that the measure was a "compromise" and that it was important for voters to know that.

In fact, Senate Bill 162 (Question 6) is a model "abortion rights" bill. It was actively promoted by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).

The legislative history specifically repudiates any contention that was a "compromise." No compromises were accepted and, in fact, every "compromise" amendment was voted down by the pro-abortion forces.

The contention that this legislation was a balanced compromise is patently false and obviously designed to mislead "on the fence" voters. . . .

!Joseph A. Schwartz III


Abortion Views

As a physician, I agree with your editorial which called for an honest representation of the issues surrounding Question 6, the referendum on abortion.

Indeed, what is at stake is access to medically safe abortion. The purpose of "legalizing abortion" is to protect women from irresponsible, unregulated, unscrupulous abortionists who perform botched abortions on uninformed women and, in the case of a minor, without permitting her parents to know what is happening to their daughter.

Women's lives are at stake in this issue. In reality this bill deregulates the abortion industry at the expense of safeguarding women's health.

A "yes" vote would allow any licensed physician (dermatologist, psychiatrist, intern) to perform an abortion anywhere. The law provides no regulation of abortion clinics, no quality assurance, no review of practice as required for all other medical procedures.

In addition, the abortionist, who may have known the patient for all of five minutes, decides what viability means, what constitutes informed consent and, in the case of a minor, whether to notify the parents. The abortionist's decisions are protected from civil and criminal suits. . . .

Legitimate medicine has condemned and abandoned such dangerous practices. A "yes" vote would subject the women of Maryland to these very practices.

Randall Wetzel, M.D.


What To Do about Violent Crime

Violence once again graced the front page of The Sun. Two more shot down in altercations. More pictures of crying family members. More statements by community leaders saying that this was a "tragedy."

But, this time it was different. The victims were police officers, blasted while trying to do their jobs.

They weren't innocent children playing in drug ravished neighborhoods after dark. They weren't hapless passers-by cut down in a hail of hot lead. They weren't drug dealers shooting each other over prime street corners, of "commercial real estate."

They were cops. They were our protectors. They were the front line -- and the supposed buffer -- between law-respecting citizens and the elements of chaos and death.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, has, to his credit, demanded the death penalty in cases like this. Good.

These brutal incidents, a murder and attempted murder, prompted the usual outcry. Phone lines at talk radio stations all over the city were jammed with angry people. Some were angry at the courts for allowing people who commit violent crimes to be let loose on their own recognizance. Some were angry that the state and federal governments haven't worked hard enough on the underlying conditions which seem to breed this sort of

criminality. Still others, so angry that only emotions, not words come out, say they want the government to "declare war on crime" just like we did in the Middle East. If we can emasculate Saddam Hussein in a couple of months, why can't we destroy the drug culture in a similar amount of time?

With this being an election year, I dare say we will hear that phrase again -- "war on crime" -- accompanied with the same pandering rhetoric that every politician since Richard Nixon has been ladling out to scared people everywhere.

But what is a war on crime? How can one declare a war on an enemy so nebulous? Crime in this country is more like a vague feeling of angst than a tangible, touchable thing. It is the fear that something is "out there" waiting to get us -- like something happening off camera in a John Ford Western.

And just what is waiting for us out there? Crime?

No. Criminals. Perhaps what is needed is not a "war on crime" but a "war on criminals." They are the problem.

Police are good at catching the bad guys. They do it more often than not. But once a criminal is arrested, often -- like Willie Horton or one of the youths charged in the Howard County carjacking case -- they are allowed to go free.

And the cure isn't necessarily more cops -- although that would be a great thing. The solution is more district attorneys.

More manpower would mean more time prosecuting cases. That would give society at large more convictions (instead of plea bargains), more time for criminals behind bars (instead of suspended sentences) and more nights spent sleeping (instead of worrying about things that go bump in the night).

Don't get me wrong. Working on the root causes of crime -- poverty, drugs and the like -- still should be addressed. But the idea of man being a prisoner to his economic condition is as obviously outdated and ridiculously wrongheaded as (dare I say it?) the theories of Karl Marx.

The Howard County carjacking, the shootings of two of Baltimore's finest, these were not crimes designed to put food on the table of starving families. These were wanton acts of utter disregard for people's human and civil rights for which there can be no excuse.

C. David Pugh


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