Haiti invasion threatens our democracy
Evidently we are only days away from an invasion of Haiti. This is an act of war.
But only the people can authorize such a war, through their elected representatives in Congress.
We face no national crisis in the Caribbean. Our country is not imminently threatened by external force or internal subversion from Haiti. There can, therefore, be no shred of justification for flouting the clear constitutional ban on presidentially declared wars.
It is the legacy of the decades-long Cold War that has given President Clinton the fig leaf to cover this shameful act.
Previous presidents, both Republican and Democrat, initiated wars without congressional approval because the country was at risk to communism's relentless and often subterranean belligerence but our executives did not have the political, moral or intellectual will to openly declare war against this menace.
Recently, the cancerous precedent has metastasized -- in Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Somalia. All these conflicts involved landing military units and actual engagements with casualties, which are unquestionable acts of war. We are, in fact, already in an undeclared war against Haiti: A blockade is an act of war.
Whether we should attack Haiti is not the question. It is rather the blatant disregard of our Constitution. The two political parties long ago sold out to cynicism and pragmatism. But what about the American people? Do our fellow citizens still care that we have a nation "of laws, not of men" to safeguard our liberty?
Once we have destroyed the fragile but vital respect for the Constitution, what will protect us from future despots?
John L. Pattillo
After the ceasefire
The Provisional Irish Republican Army has declared a cease-fire in its guerrilla struggle to end British sovereignty in the northern six counties of Ireland.
We will now be able to see if anything has changed since 1968, when Bernadette Devlin and the civil rights demonstrators attempted to redress age-old practices of discrimination against Catholics in housing, employment and voting by the ruling Unionist, Protestant-imposed, majority.
During this time of civil rights activity the demonstrators were met with violence by the various constabularies of the British-anointed political establishment.
Back in those days, there was no IRA upon which to blame the violence which was being inflicted upon humanity in the north of Ireland, because those who waved the Union Jack were doing the violence.
That violence led to the revival of the IRA and the conversion of many in the civil rights movement into a movement that had as its goal the ending of British rule in Northern Ireland, because only in union with the Republic of Ireland could the civil rights of everyone be attained and respected.
It should never be forgotten that the purpose for the gerrymandering, at the point of a bayonet, that led to the existence of the northern statelet in Ireland was to preserve the privileges of the Unionist-Protestants while treating Catholics as almost a subhuman species.
Until that situation changes, peace will be next to impossible to attain.
We can only hope that for the sake of peace in Northern Ireland the final result of the IRA cease-fire will be the withdrawal of Britain from Irish soil at long last.
High on power
The occupants of the White House must have inhaled. After promising a tax cut in order to fool the people into electing them, they not only pass the biggest tax increase in history but make it retroactive.
Now, faced with unfavorable results in the upcoming elections, they are "kicking around" the idea of a tax cut!
This is flagrant evidence that they view the American people as fools. Sitting in isolation on the hill, they are inhaling more than power -- namely, arrogance, ignorance and other people's money that they have no intention of giving back.
In a time when most criminals blame society, media coverage, bad weather and so on for their plight, it was refreshing to hear Jacqueline McLean admit personal responsibility for her actions.
Hopefully, more of our criminals will follow her lead and stop making excuses for their anti-social behavior.
Trash is a neighborhood problem
I agree with Mayor Kurt Schmoke that city residents must take a more active part in cleaning up their neighborhoods.
I lived in Herring Run Park area for 13 years. Once a week we used to take a garbage bag and walk through the alley picking up trash.
We had a rat problem in our alley, and some people refused to do what the rat eradication program required.
As a result, the rats thrived on the garbage.
We also had an empty lot in our alley that the city never got around to mowing. My husband ended up cutting the part in front of our house and our neighbor's house.
If everyone who was physically able had done what we did, the alley would have been clean and the grass always cut.
Two years ago, we finally gave up trying to clean the whole neighborhood and moved to the county.
But apparently some city residents still believe it is the city's job to clean up after them.
Therese M. Nesbitt