GOP's AllureTwo thumbs up to Peter Jay...


GOP's Allure

Two thumbs up to Peter Jay for his perceptive and thought-provoking June 26 commentary on "The Idea of Being a Republican."

He described in a nutshell why voting Republican has become so appealing to so many disaffected Democrats, who feel that their party has long since abandoned them and taken their concerns and principles for granted.

Although honesty, constancy, fiscal integrity, free enterprise, self-reliance, individual initiative and individual responsibility are hardly the exclusive domain of Republicans, I think that most voters correctly perceive that Republican candidates and officeholders are more likely to defend these core values and act as if they believe in them than Democrats.

When more of these "yellow-flag" Democrats who vote Republican actually get fed up enough to switch their affiliation to the Republican Party, the present trend away from the Democrats could become a stampede and set the stage for a long overdue political and social renaissance throughout America -- and maybe even here in Baltimore, as well.

One thing is certain at least: With increased political competition, we'd all be winners.

Dick Fairbanks


Defending Lengyel

While your June 13 article about the Naval Academy Athletic Association and Jack Lengyel was intended to be critical, I think you actually succeeded in emphasizing his greatest strength. He operates a major corporation with vast holdings and high visibility exactly as a businessman should.

He has the ability to make the tough decisions on marketing, investments and expenditures that face every successful chief executive officer. Budget cuts, while often necessary, are rarely popular, as any businessman knows.

Portfolio management is his responsibility. The real estate ventures you mentioned are one more example of sound, revenue-producing investments rather than hidden perks, as you imply.

You could have pointed out that as the landlord of the largest parking facility in Annapolis, he is a major player in virtually every plan the city has for transportation. He has devoted countless hours with officials and residents working on plans to improve the traffic flow.

His management of the stadium property has created opportunities for local businesses and non-profits to participate in his successful operation.

What your article also failed to point out is how Jack Lengyel brought the Navy sports program out from behind the wall and into the Annapolis community.

Navy activities have a tremendous economic impact here. Mr. Lengyel and his staff have made every effort to involve local businesses in his vision.

In turn, his program is supported by those who appreciate what Navy does for them and the wonderful family entertainment it provides.

As a businessman myself, I admire his ability. He isn't afraid to take risks or make tough calls. He appreciates the need for marketing. He involves others in his plans.

He understands the bottom line that measures all successful businesses. And he puts a lot back into the community. Annapolis, as well as the Naval Academy, is lucky to have him.

Jerry Hardesty


Competition, Not Control

Recently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a liberal Democrat from California, dropped her sponsorship of the Clintons' health care plan. This was a very surprising switch because Senator Feinstein is a staunch supporter of President Clinton and an especially strong ally of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who designed the plan.

More surprising was the reason for Senator Feinstein's action. "Even the Clinton administration would have to acknowledge that certain of the more intrusive aspects of its bill, such as telling medical students they cannot specialize, are dead," said Mrs. Feinstein's re-election campaign chairman. The senator's reasons once again prove that if the government controls our health care system, our freedoms will be abridged.

Our health care system -- the best in the world -- needs more competition, not more control.

Insurance companies must exert more price pressure by refusing to pay costs above a reasonable maximum and by providing scaled premium rebates to individuals with below-average cost submissions.

Other necessary reforms (such as portability and elimination of pre-existing conditions) can be legislated without government control and without curtailing our freedoms.

John Naughton


Male Dominance Causes Domestic Violence

Although Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski ("Women, Too, Are Responsible," Opinion * Commentary, June 24) are presumably well-intentioned, they reflect a myopic view of history that is, I think, dangerously close to "blame the victim."

Of course it is reasonable to argue that men and women are together responsible for the problem of domestic violence and for finding solutions to it.

What Sherven and Sniechowski do not make clear is that the historical construction of Western paradigms of the household, family life and gender relations took place for thousands of years under conditions of extreme power asymmetry between men and women.

Holding women equally responsible for creating the problem of domestic violence makes about as much sense as holding indigenous South Africans responsible for the racial violence generated by apartheid.

From Greek epic to modern film, Western representation of male honor is founded on competition in the public sphere (among other men) and domination in the private sphere of home and family (among women and children).

The Western construction of "normal" marriage and family life is predicated on the assumption of male dominance and control, particularly of female sexuality.

As we approach the 21st century, many women (and some men) are challenging that construction and seeking a more egalitarian model of marital and family partnership between men and women.

We now, for the first time in recorded history, have a legal framework of gender equality in this country. That gives us all a chance to begin addressing the problem together.

But it is grossly unfair to blame women for a problem created by a history from which their powers of judgment and decision-making were formally excluded, however responsible they may be for collaborating with men in developing creative solutions for the future.

The 1986 data cited by Sherven and Sniechowski do not present a complete picture. By 1986, thousands of American women had gotten the message that they were entitled to personhood in their own right and that marriage should not abridge or curtail that right. The men in their lives have been a little slower in getting the message.

Finally, instead of meekly submitting to male dominance, wom

en are resisting and fighting back. Sometimes the resistance is violent, and that is tragic.

But until men get the message that loving a woman (or marrying her, or getting her pregnant) does not entitle them to control her, women will probably continue to fight for their rights and freedom as full persons under the law, even if that means fighting with their husbands and lovers.

It is time for us as a society to liberate men from the fragile sense of honor that fears female emancipation as an affront to their honor because it undermines their authority in the household.

The Sherven and Sniechowski statistic that "half of spousal murders are committed by wives" ignores the fact that the majority of women killed by domestic partners are killed after they have emancipated themselves from the relationship -- by men who cannot tolerate losing control of "their" women.

When men resist tyranny and control it is heroic. Why should it be any different for women? Is a tyrant any less a tyrant because he lives in the same home with his victims?

Lindsay J. Thompson


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