Right-wing hyperbole was goad to violenceNo sooner...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Right-wing hyperbole was goad to violence

No sooner had the president finished his Tuesday night news conference than two CBS commentators, Fred Barnes and Joel Kline, declared that he was on the defensive.

They were referring to the president's answer to the loaded question asked by a reporter who suggested that Clinton is irrelevant to the present political process.

No one knew at the time just how unfitting both the question and the commentators' smug pronouncements would seem the next day, after the president moved quickly to respond to the disaster in Oklahoma City.

On the Sunday morning news shows, even the conservative commentator George Will was falling all over himself defending the legitimacy of the federal government and condemning extreme right-wing actions.

Everyone in the media is acting as if they never heard politicians use anti-federal government rhetoric.

What better example could anyone give these media experts than the last election, with its constant hyperbole.

Remember Rep. Rick Santorum's campaign posters showing flag-carrying, fife-playing revolutionaries asking us to "join the fight"? Or Newt Gingrich's nationally broadcast assertion that "liberal big government" policies caused the death of Susan Smith's two babies?

The self-satisfied pundits obviously have been brainwashed by the constant drone of complaint by the self-serving "revolutionaries" who pretend that the federal government is not needed anymore.

There is no doubt that people who hold powerful government positions quite often abuse their offices for personal gain.

History is filled with examples of people who have suffered because of the evil of those in power. African slaves and Native Americans were just two of the biggest groups of victims.

Yet time after time, other Americans, the true patriots, have picked up the pieces of destroyed lives and freedoms and gone on to make the government more responsible and efficient.

Learning from the mistakes of foolish and vain bureaucrats, other federal employees go on to build the things that are central to modern life -- roads, schools and hospitals -- while protecting themselves and their democracy with a strong and proud military.

Throughout our history, our wisest leaders have pushed us to make freedom and respect for each other our most important goals.

Only with such leadership, and despite the objections of detractors, were such problems as civil rights and child labor addressed.

I'm certain that the right-wing politicians and commentators who talk constantly about reducing the size of government did not intend to encourage right-wing extremists to reduce the size of government buildings with truck bombs. But they should stop using knee-jerk, anti-federal government bombast.

Regardless of what the political "experts" say, I believe that Americans know that good government does not come cheap. Pandering to taxpayers by saying it can be done without much personal expense is just plain irresponsible.

Bill Clinton is right about the role of the federal government, and he has done very well in reducing its size to allow more effective, efficient use of our money while keeping the important functions of government working.

The commentators should give him credit for it. I hope American voters do, too, and not allow "revolutionaries" like Mr. Gingrich to dismantle the federal government with questionable political "contracts."

Joe Otterbein

Shrewsbury

Red meat hazard

Alex Hershaft feeds off public fear, including fear among your readers. His letter "Dangers of meat" (April 18) proves it.

Mr. Hershaft, president of the radical animal-rights group FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement), tweaked a few statements in his letter to scare readers while promoting his agenda.

For example, saying that U.S. per capita fish consumption grew 25 percent in the past decade sounds daunting unless you check U.S. Department of Agriculture figures -- which show fish consumption only increased 6 percent.

Mr. Hershaft also implies that a "succession" of U.S. health authorities have promoted vegetarian diets. The fact is, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association and the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute all recommend reasonable amounts of lean meat in a diet.

I'm sure Mr. Hershaft has read the same information many of us have seen, but he chooses to twist and stretch the facts to his liking. I find it appalling that Mr. Hershaft enjoys using such unfounded scare tactics to frighten and worry readers.

Ned Sayre

Churchville

More child care

While appearing somewhat proactive and visionary in his requests for county budget spending, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III has failed to acknowledge and keep up to date on a very important delivery system -- child care for working parents.

In his plan to restructure the Department of Community Development, he diminished the Office of Children's Services, which led the effort to offer support services to the county's 23,000 children of working parents and 2,000 individuals and groups providing child care.

His decision to simply incorporate Children's Services as a component of the Department of Social Services was antiquated. DSS only commits to projects that support low-income families, and it has the reputation of being the largest bureaucracy-driven agency in local government.

Recognizing the importance of quality child care and the need for everyone to better understand the impact it has on the community, the Office of Children's Services led the very successful Child Care-We Care campaign that was developed in concert with the Baltimore County Child Care Advisory/Interagency Early Childhood Council.

It seems that Mr. Ruppersberger has failed to recognize successful and efficient "government." He has failed to recognize the need to support working families in the county.

He has also failed to project any understanding of studies sucas a recent Carnegie Corporation report that says more family-centered programs and policies are needed because parents today are struggling to balance their home and work responsibilities.

Baltimore County has selected the county's already failing welfare system to lead the efforts of child care, and that sets the county back 10 years in its thinking about the children of its working families.

Eloise Stockdale

Cockeysville

The writer resigned in February as administrator of the Baltimore County Office of Children's Services.

Agnew belongs

I commend Gov. Parris N. Glendening for his decision to restore the portrait of former Gov. Spiro T. Agnew to its "chronological spot" among those of Maryland's other 20th century governors in the State House reception room.

Both my husband, Herman, and I were city residents when Mr. Agnew was Baltimore County's executive. Because we had not been able to make a living in the laundry business, my husband closed Kim's Laundry in 1966.

When Mr. Agnew read about this in a Sun article, he became very interested. One day upon returning home from work, my husband said, "Guess who called me today." Mr. Agnew called because he was very interested in helping us to relocate.

Although we were very excited and appreciative of Mr. Agnew's interest, we declined his suggestion of a location on Blenheim Road. But we were amazed that he took the time to communicate with us.

Although we were Democrats, when Mr. Agnew ran for governor we voted for him. When he was selected to be President Nixon's vice president, it was a great honor for Maryland. We regretted that unforeseen circumstances and probably destiny caused his resignation.

I was also pleased to learn that William Behrends has been

selected to sculpt the Agnew bust that will be included among those of the other vice presidents in the U.S. Capitol.

Mr. Behrends' sculpture will reflect, for posterity, the warmth of Spiro T. Agnew's smile, his naturalness and unpretentiousness. Welcome home, Mr. Agnew.

Lillian Lee Kim

Baltimore

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