Cal Thomas on Rush LimbaughBeing something of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cal Thomas on Rush Limbaugh

Being something of a freethinker, I was briefly anxious that the Rush Limbaugh phenomenon might possibly represent some conservative counterweight to tolerant, skeptical, liberal thought, as Cal Thomas (July 20, Opinion * Commentary) seems to believe it effectively does.

Not to worry. That Mr. Limbaugh has an effect is not disputed; that he has any capacity to articulate or persuade is doubtful.

The service of Mr. Limbaugh's broadcasts is not that they offer any direction in rational discourse, only that they irritate the complaisant.

One has listened to Mr. Limbaugh in vain for any coherent train of thought beyond preconception, for any non-circular path of logic, for anything other than the bangs of a partisan entertainer.

Proof of Mr. Limbaugh's intellectual vacuity is in his irreproducible results: coming out of the radio, he sounds like something, causes comment and becomes a celebrity.

But if one were to dictate his text to the man in an adjacent airline seat, likely he would rush to the nearest exit. A good performance can establish a bad idea; but good ideas make sense, regardless of the performer.

Thoughtful conservatives, God bless 'em, are a hazard to us all, and the intelligent ones among them can be downright dangerous. This one is a vain clown.

William O. Miles

Baltimore

Cal Thomas quoted Rush Limbaugh's mother and brother as saying that "they fear government wants to replace God as the most powerful force in their lives." I couldn't agree more.

Sure, government has its place in our lives. The trouble is government wants a supreme place in our lives, and for the millions of us who still believe in God this is totally unacceptable.

I personally believe that God, not government, has the right answers to America's problems, and if we, as a nation, would turn back to almighty God, he would heal our nation and make us great and prosperous once again like we used to be, and after reviewing God's track record versus President Clinton's track record, I think even an agnostic would have to agree that God is a much better choice.

If government control in our personal lives is not limited, you can be sure that at some point our freedoms we enjoy in America surely will be.

Our present government very clearly does not stand for many of the beliefs and principles that made America great, and I think we need to wake up to that fact now.

Bert Hartka

Baltimore

In response to Cal Thomas' column, I would like to point out one of the reasons people have a problem with Rush Limbaugh, and why this is a problem that we all will have to deal with eventually.

Mr. Thomas's assertion that Mr. Limbaugh uses the term "femi-Nazi" to describe only, ". . . the tiny core of the most radical among [women]" overlooks the fact that by using such defamatory language to describe a group shows very little tolerance toward that group, no matter what the political allegiances might be.

The very word "Nazi" can only be construed as a term of hate, because that is what that particular form of fascism fed on. Whether this word was used to describe one person or one million is irrelevant; the message conveyed is one of bigotry, with obvious references to one of the cruelest dictators this world has ever seen. This is the problem people such as I have with Mr. Limbaugh. If a professional journalist such as Mr. Thomas used similar phrases to describe a group of people, I question how long newspapers such as The Sun would continue to run his column.

But as Mr. Thomas pointed out, Mr. Limbaugh is not a journalist, he is a satirist -- a humorist. To compare Mr. Limbaugh to Will ("I never met a man I didn't like") Rogers is a bit far-fetched, but I do agree with the job description.

As a humorist, I can see why Mr. Limbaugh does not want to debate topics with liberal minds, although perhaps he and Al Franken could host "Crossfire" one night.

The real problem, however, lies ahead for Mr. Thomas and Mr. Limbaugh. I hope Mr. Thomas will heed his own advice, because in a few years, a Republican will be in the White House.

Count on it. See, we liberals have a sense of humor, too. Let's just see how funny the Republicans think it is when the shoe is on the other foot.

Thomas L. Warren

Baltimore

Smokefree Air

Congratulations to the state of Maryland for pushing regulations to protect innocent bystanders from the unhealthy consequences of second-hand smoke.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences and dozens of health and scientific organizations conclude that second-hand smoke causes cancer. No one should have to breathe smoke while on the job.

The EPA has identified eight Group A carcinogens; second-hand smoke is one of them. The other seven are illegal in the workplace. Second-hand smoke is estimated to kill more people than the other seven combined.

When a smoker and a non-smoker share the same indoor air space, both cannot be accommodated equally. We need government mediation to decide whose rights should prevail.

Maryland officials have correctly decided that the right to breathe clean air should come before the right to pollute.

History will look back on Maryland, California, Vermont, Washington and Utah as the leaders that stood up to the tobacco cartel in favor of clean indoor air.

Joseph W. Cherner

New York

NB The writer is the president of Smokefree Educational Services.

For the People

I am responding to Peter Jensen's July 24 article, "Police decelerate ticket writing."

I'm sure if you followed our off-duty troopers around on the interstate, you would find that most of them break the 55 mph speed limit.

I don't have a lot of high-tech equipment to take a census, but I think saying the average speed on the interstate is 65 mph is being very modest. So, is this a bad thing? No. This is a good thing.

Why?

Because it shows that our good citizens will not respect a law that is not for the people, by the people, and they should not be thought of as criminals, but as heroes.

Even our troopers want to have laws they can respect and feel good about enforcing. They shouldn't have to be torn between what is right and what is the law. It should be one and the same.

If we raise the speed limit, what of the loss in speeding ticket revenue? That's what we pay taxes for. Tell them to try selling bingo tickets. Works for the church.

I appeal to The Sun to be the voice of the people and I implore the state government to listen and act.

Ron Roach

Owings Mills

Hillary's Plan

Previous to watching Hillary Clinton selling her health plan on "Good Morning America" she had impressed me as a rather intelligent person. However, after hearing her remarks that she wants to change our health system because the current insurance forms are too complicated, she is either naive, uninformed or as dishonest as her husband.

Has she ever had to complete any federal forms?

Not once did she mention the increased taxes nor the cost of her plan. Nor did she mention her attempt to put employers, doctors and our citizens in jail, plus heavy fines, for not complying with her health plan.

With the added cost of her health plan, plus our minimum wage laws and the federal laws regarding worker safety, environmental protection and other rules, how can American industry compete with foreign companies?

This health plan will drive our manufacturers to Mexico or other countries and contribute to unemployment.

We currently have the most advanced and best health system in the world. Who wants socialized medicine run by politicians who have already bankrupted our country?

Vincent J. Charnasky

Phoenix

Bad Influence

The picture of Len Dykstra with a wad of black tobacco bulging out of his mouth (July 24) was enough to make you toss your Wheaties.

That grown men think a tobacco chaw makes them a better ball player is bad enough.

But the fact that their deadly habit is luring children (the average starting age for chewing tobacco in America is nine) is tragic.

Like it or not, our baseball heroes are role models for our kids. A study by the Illinois Department of Public Health found that 70 percent of children who report regular use of smokeless tobacco are members of organized sports teams.

Will one of these players or ball clubs have the guts to speak out on this deadly spit tobacco culture?

Richard J. Durbin

Washington

The writer is a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois.

Real Difference

Marina Sarris' July 23 article concerning the smoking ban stated that the Action on Smoking and Health group supports the tough workplace ban but feels the ban is not tough enough. The group seeks to overturn a provision allowing employers to set up specially ventilated smoking lounges. The group feels that there is a possibility of some smoke "leaking" into work areas.

I suggest that the health groups put their tireless efforts into a worthwhile cause now. They could investigate the serious toll President Clinton's health plan would take on our health options and rights. They could encourage judges to impose real sentences on drug dealers and users, instead of giving suspended sentences.

It is all too easy now to hound the smokers. They are law-abiding citizens who are easy targets for frustrated groups which need to make progress somewhere.

I would ask members of the smoking and health group to show their personal cardiograms, cholesterol readings and exercise routines to us. It is true that smoking is a detriment to good health, but many more factors than cigarette smoke affect the body.

The group may try to control tobacco in this country, but how will it control the fat and cholesterol intake of us non-smokers? How will it check to see if we are exercising regularly, using chemical-free lawn care and limiting our alcohol intake to one glass of red wine a day?

Please, fellows, go home, relax and think about making a real difference to our health by getting murderers, rapists and

congressmen to pay back what they owe society.

Cecilia West

Fallston

'Homicide' Is Murder in Fells Point

For your information, there are few of us citizens who live, work and play in Fells Point as enamored with the cast and production crew of "Homicide" as appears to be Sylvia Badger (July 17).

That "good old fashioned crab feast" inconvenienced all of us who live in Fells Point on a busy weekend afternoon. Incidently, I don't know of one Fells Point resident who attended this event smack in the middle of our community.

That "rooftop party on the Fells Point Recreation Pier" is the same rooftop that was renovated by citizens in Fells Point for the children of Fells Point to have a safe playground and was supposed to continue to be accessible to the community children.

Instead, no access has been permitted, and the area is now guarded 24 hours a day to prevent access except to a chosen few -- perhaps "The Producers Club"?

Myself and another resident met with officials in May to discuss how the city was going to handle traffic congestion and parking with the return of the production crew. We were told that while the contract wasn't finalized the crew would be parking in the pier itself and at lots at the end of Bond and Fell Streets.

That was not only incorrect, but an outright fabrication. Any given day or night one encounters entire blocks blocked off and huge "No Parking, Tow Away Zone, Production Crew Only" signs posted.

Two nights in one recent week I was unable to park within three blocks of my home. Additionally, those of us who live in Fells Point, pay taxes on our property and take an active part in our community have been forced to purchase private parking spaces just to be able to come home at night.

The coordination of the Maryland Film Commission and Office of Community Development with our community in relation to the production crew's literal takeover of our community has been abysmally lacking in planning and public relations.

Don't mistake my angry remarks as unpatronizing or nonsupportive of the film art. Quite the contrary. Many of us who live in Fells Point are artists or crafts persons in different media. Yet, we know how to live in harmony and respect for our neighbors and how to communicate effectively and responsibly with one another.

Fells Point is a close-knit community of neighbors. This production crew has invaded that community without any hint of what being a good neighbor is and thumbs its nose at those of us who voice objections.

I respect their artistic accomplishments and accept the fact that they're here. What I can't and won't accept is their and the Department of Housing and Community Development's blatant disregard of where they're working -- in a community of neighbors.

Perhaps I'm expecting too much of great party givers, who throw a great party and have yet to either apologize to the community for the inconvenience, thank us for having them there and -- God forbid -- invite the neighbors to the party -- or better still, let the children have access to their playground.

Patricia Mayes

Fells Point

The Confederacy Was Not Without Taint

I find the letters of David M. Owings and G. Elliot Cummings (July 23) to be gross distortions of our history. They seek to gloss over some unpleasant realities and introduce trivialities to distract us from genuine understanding.

First, Mr. Cummings rails about a "despotic central government." Does he believe that South Carolina seceded so that rTC Massachusetts could protect all those who wished to live within its bounds? He knows that the fugitive slave law was more despotic than anything that had any chance of passage before secession.

Mr. Cummings claims that the South had an absolute right to secede without so much as a "by your leave"; and that in not respecting that, President Lincoln bears responsibility for the war.

I seriously doubt that if the founders had considered the question of secession, they would have allowed states to leave in such a unilateral and self-indulgent fashion.

Our Declaration of Independence details an utter inability to work within the system. The South had successfully resolved many grievances within the federal framework, so much so that many Northerners saw a threat to their freedom. Further, the question of secession should have considered Northern attitudes.

Since the War of 1812, Northerners defined their country as the whole union. Settlers who moved from Maine to Iowa believed they were living in the same land. If that includes the westernmost bounds, it should also include Florida.

Settlers who moved from the South to the North especially felt this enlarged nationalism. Lincoln was born in Kentucky. To disregard the feelings of these Unionists is hardly democratic.

Some Southerners of Andrew Jackson's generation also felt the call of Unionism.

Sam Houston was elected governor of Texas on the eve of secession. Did a large body of Southerners denounce this movement as unconstitutional? No. Most Southern states regarded South Carolina as being extreme even as they hated the "tariff of abominations."

During the nullification crisis, the southeastern part of Mecklenburg County, N.C., formed a county of its own. Since the Jackson family had a farm there until an Indian raid shortly before Andrew's birth, they thought they should name it Jackson County. Instead, they chose one even more pointed: Union County.

After saying that there was an absolute right to secede, Mr. Cummings holds that Lincoln's unwillingness to peremptorily abolish slavery in the remaining Border States is a sign that the North wasn't opposed to the "peculiar institution."

In fact, many Northerners hoped that it was on its way to ultimate extinction. Lincoln's "house divided" speech includes a long section where he explains that many of the founders and the authors of the Missouri Compromise felt the same way.

They loved the Union so much that they were willing to accept many compromises; yet Mr. Cummings uses this ambivalence to falsely claim that they didn't object at all to slavery.

Mr. Cummings' line on Confederate soldiers who had no personal stake in slavery means nothing to historians who believe the South was an aristocracy.

In several respects, the South (and even the North) lacked those features that led Immanuel Kant to predict that when all the world was democratic, there would be no more wars.

Mr. Owings' claim that the victors wrote the history is a slick half-truth. In this case, it was the Mugwumps who wrote our history.

Why else would anyone use "carpetbagger," a name that included the VISTA volunteers of the 1860s, as an insult?

If you deconstruct our history to see who wrote it, you'll see a group that didn't want to oppose Lincoln or support slavery, yet who don't want to reform themselves enough to hold onto the fruits of Lincoln's victory.

That the historians of this period have been Mugwumps instead of Radical Republicans has allowed the Southern apologists to overlook several egregious faults. How often has Mr. Owings seen this take on the election of 1876:

Gov. Samuel J. Tilden's victory in Mississippi and his purported wins in South Carolina and Louisiana were not gained by the ballot, but by the flaming cross.

Further, in the white majority states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and perhaps North Carolina, there has been enough Ku Klux Klan violence that we must question whether the white Republicans -- the "Scalawags"-- were won over or beaten into submission.

I do not want to hear any gratuitous insults of Dixie. My great-great-great-great-grandfather first arrived in this country in New Orleans, where he got a dangerous job on the levees.

Even if he and his sons didn't fight for the Confederacy, I'm sure that he had a brother or nephew who did. I was born in the Crescent City myself. My family has a vacation home in the mountains of North Carolina, which has been the one constant in my life.

On the other hand, Mr. Cummings and Mr. Owings seem to think that the Confederacy is so taintless that only the perfect may criticize it. I think this is idolatrous.

The only people who can claim that no ancestor of theirs did anything atrocious are those who have always themselves been oppressed since the dawn of time.

If we are to come to grips with the past, to learn what it has to teach us, we much take the bad with the good.

We should acknowledge their concerns. We should not forget that if we see farther than they did on certain moral issues; it's because we've stood, as Isaac Newton said, on the shoulders of giants.

Paul O'Brien

Baltimore

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