Let it snow -- but not in...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Let it snow -- but not in Baltimore!

You hear it every time there is talk of snow: "I want it to snow," "I don't want to see any snow."

For the people who say they want it to snow, I don't think many realize the problems of a deep snow storm -- for the truckers who have to answer calls on the side streets which are not cleaned off, for the police who have to answer calls for the paramedics, for the people who have to drive to work.

Many years ago, Baltimore got the reputation of being called "Panic City." People flock to the super-marts, to the drug store for prescriptions, to the hardware store, etc. They act as though they will not get out for a month.

Bob Crooks

Baltimore

U.S. airdrops over Balkans are too risky

By directing airdrops of supplies into former Yugoslavia, our new president and his administration demonstrate the same ignorance about military matters they showed in directing our armed services to accept gays. This time, they're going to get people killed.

After taking part in many air deliveries and airdrops (the two terms mean different things) in Vietnam, I know that parachuting 2,000-pound pallets from an altitude of 10,000 feet (almost two miles) is an exercise in futility. Cargo parachutes are affected by every vagrant breeze on the way down and can be blown several miles away from their target, perhaps even to the enemy.

Most of the besieged people are in enclaves at the bottom of deep valleys. Anybody who has seen what the wind can do to a baseball in stadiums with high sides (e.g., Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia) should imagine what will happen to material parachuted into the winds that swirl in these valleys, some of which are 2,000 to 3,000 feet deep. It would be pure luck if five percent of the supplies reach the people in these villages, most of which are at the bottom of these valleys.

In addition, the "bad guys" command the heights. Certain of them have shoulder-fired aircraft weapons effective up to 8,000 feet above the terrain from which they are fired. The unarmed C-130, our primary tactical resupply aircraft, is no match for these weapons, even with AWACS monitoring the source of the ground fire.

Only one of the three warring factions has agreed not to interfere. These hilltops must be "sanitized" first, just as we did the areas from which we extracted downed aircrews in North Vietnam and Laos. Then we can use low-level parachute extraction (the aircraft flies five to six feet over a field and releases a drag chute that drags out the cargo). This method is far more accurate.

I sympathize with the people trapped in these villages. However, until we can make air deliveries by low-flying aircraft safe for the aircrews, Mr. Clinton and his friends would be well advised to leave the situation alone, pathetic as it may be.

Charles A. Frainie

Woodlawn

Whither Clinton?

Our new president, although elected with only 43 percent of the popular vote, no doubt has the good wishes of the majority of Americans in his effort to improve the economic health of the nation.

The principle of "fairness in sacrifice" seems the intent of his program, with which reasonable individuals can scarcely find fault.

However, the ever-pressing problem of deficit reduction and the crushing national debt must remain in the forefront of consideration by both executive and legislative arms.

It remains questionable whether the added billions from the "sacrifice" will be used to deal with these matters or be blown away on new-old social programs pushed by Mr. Clinton's legion of advisers, including his wife and the undistinguished coterie comprising his cabinet.

The next six months will no doubt reveal Clinton's true direction. Will he prove worthy of voter confidence, or be exposed as just "Slick Willie, the artful dodger"?

Samuel M. Poist

Baltimore

Stop the slide

The discovery that "Dateline NBC" faked crash results is another illustration of the fading distinction between news and entertainment.

Understandably, most of what we see as TV "news" is presented visually, and more emphasis is given to those events that show well. There seems to be a preponderance of disasters, wars, starving babies, violence and plane crashes, and little of the less dramatic events that really make up most of the news.

Since news shows are a very valuable part of a network's ratings, the pressure is on to make them more interesting. The question they seem to have trouble answering is what is too much.

One national news program did a lead-in for its all-important movie about Amy Fisher. All the networks routinely use national news programs to announce the "big" story on the pop news shows airing later in the evening.

Many of the stories on the investigative news programs aren't news at all, just entertainment with a news story as the lead-in -- something to give the program legitimacy.

I wonder if most of what we're told is the truth about things like AIDS, guns, racism or the economy isn't really just a bunch of opinions cemented together with some "facts" that seem to fit.

NBC's hiring of two outside lawyers to investigate the crash fabrication was puzzling -- can't all of its terribly sincere investigative reporters we see on the screen really investigate? Or is this subject just a little too hot for them to handle?

The scales are increasingly tipping toward the dramatic nonsense side of the spectrum and away from the truth. The news media is its own judge and jury, and it alone can and must stop its slide into disrepute.

Gordon B. Shelton

Towson

Michel's response

House Minority Leader Robert Michel's televised reply to President Clinton's budget-reduction plan was critical, as reported in the The Evening Sun.

However, the minority leader, in retrospect, said nothing about the central idea of President Clinton's speech -- that is, a deficit and a national debt that present real problems to the future of a sound American economy.

We must remember, and so should Mr. Michel, that the past 12 years of Republican rule have seen a debt and deficit that more than tripled.

The Republicans have refused to take any blame for the debt or deficit. However, they do take credit for the supposed growth of the period.

Now we are told by Mr. Michel that there is more that could be cut. However, no specifics have been presented by the honorable House Minority Leader.

The country would benefit, in my opinion, from an active GOP that not only is critical but presents specifics to cut the fat. Until the GOP is ready to propose specifics, I would like to outline specifics for reflection by Republicans.

For example, would Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., the patron saint of the tobacco lobby, be ready and willing to cut tobacco subsidies?

Would Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, the silver-tongued orator, be willing to cut something from the $54 billion super-collider in Texas?

Finally, can the guru of the Republican party, Sen. Robert Dole, R-Kan., find any farm subsidies to cut?

Public record shows that the debt is costing $200 billion a year and still increasing. What are the Republicans willing to do to change this, with the exception of criticizing President Clinton's budget reforms?

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

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