Why is it a surprise that audience...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Why is it a surprise that audience is small for impeachment?

You reported ("Rather scolds blase viewers" Jan. 22) Dan Rather's chiding viewers for their apathetic avoidance of TV coverage of the impeachment.

Perhaps the venerable news anchor is more preoccupied with rating points than we are with the media's celebration of inanity.

Or, perhaps more than he is, we are aware that this is no less a politically motivated event than the first impeachment.

We have a history of leaders who lied to us about serious issues that affected health, financial welfare, civil rights and even life itself.

Here in Maryland we have a governor who lied about reducing taxes in order to ensure re-election (a disturbingly common political occurrence).

In the face of such abuses of power in office, how can anyone expect us to give attention to impeachment for lying about sex?

Grant Sheehan, Westminster

I was irritated to hear Dan Rather criticize the American public for not paying more attention to the impeachment trial. He doesn't get it, either.

Average Americans are working very hard to provide for themselves and their families. Our days are filled with responsibilities.

Why should we pay attention to something that should not be happening in the first place? We want Congress to pay attention to Social Security, education and crime. The American public will pay more attention, but in the next election. We are pondering whether a Republican-led Congress is really a good thing.

Randall Lutz, Baltimore

Students' jaywalking is hazard to drivers

I am writing about the safety and protection of Franklin High School students and morning drivers on Reisterstown Road.

Monday through Friday, my commute takes me down Reisterstown Road to the Metro station in Owings Mills. Almost every morning there are students crossing Reisterstown Road to go to school or the McDonald's for breakfast. These students do not use the crosswalks designated. There is no crossing guard at either crosswalk. Reisterstown Road is extremely busy in the morning, and with dozens of students jaywalking in the morning, this situation is waiting for a disaster.

On many occasions, I have come close to hitting one of the students. This is not because of my speed but the ignorance of the students themselves. Many of them will walk in front of traffic just to see who will stop.

Gretchen F. Klein, Reisterstown

Aren't parents responsible for teaching manners?

I couldn't help but write after reading article "Mind your manners, little folk," (Jan. 19). It is amazing to me the lengths that parents seem to go to avoid on the proper education of their children.

There is some value to parent Jan Goebel's statement that "sometimes it makes all the difference in the world for them to hear it reinforced from someone who isn't their parent" but it doesn't convince me. Positive reinforcement when the child demonstrates proper manners strikes me as a more effective, not to mention economical, option.

Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but what happened to the days when parents were responsible for their children's manners? I guess they have gone by the wayside along with spending quality time with your child.

The entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. Carter is to be applauded for cashing in on the ever-increasing market of surrogate parenting. The fact that people are willing to pay $120 to pass on the chance to teach their child valuable life skills saddens me.

Monika Marbach-Berrocosa, Cockeysville

A bad idea to change residency requirement

It disturbs me greatly that our General Assembly is considering reducing the residency requirement so that Kweisi Mfume can enter the mayoral race. That some in Baltimore's political system are actively working to bring him back into the fold is a perpetuation of the political elite that clearly thrives in our city.

Would Mr. Mfume be a good candidate? Possibly. But he is not new to this game, and he knows all about residency requirements.

If those same officials used that energy educating, supporting, and encouraging "common" citizens to be more politically active, maybe the pool of potential candidates would be stronger. The fine youth at Goucher, Hopkins and Morgan, as well as Western, City and Poly (to name a few) are an untapped resource of potential leadership.

Instead of scrambling to bring Mr. Mfume back in, let's see city leaders scramble to include people who live in Baltimore to participate politically.

Robyn Ford, Baltimore

There are alternatives to 'zero tolerance'

I beg to differ with City Councilman Martin O'Malley in his claim that "zero tolerance" law enforcement is "the only way to cut the homicide rate."

Councilman O'Malley is not using his imagination. We could declare martial law in the inner cities, suspending the pesky civil rights that slow down the judicial process. We could impose the death penalty for many more categories of crime. We could subject families in which many homicides occur to intense scrutiny and control.

All of these things might bring down the homicide rate as effectively as "zero tolerance." And before we call these solutions much less benign, we should consider that "zero tolerance" includes arresting citizens for jaywalking, and imposing long jail terms for nonviolent crimes.

Obviously, the solutions we want are not those that divide and oppress us, but those that help us live together in peace. The City Wide Coalition's mayoral candidate A. Robert Kaufman and his running mate (for president of the City Council) David G. S. Greene propose treating drug addiction as a medical problem, with accessible treatment options, and a program to administer heroin under doctors' supervision to incurable addicts through neighborhood clinics.

In Zurich, such a program has reduced drug-related crime by 60 percent. Baltimore police estimate that 75 percent of homicides and 90 percent of the felonies are drug-related. Addicts commit crimes for money to buy drugs. Dealers commit crimes to defend their turf. Fewer drugs sold on the street mean less crime.

The City Wide Coalition has zero tolerance for the drug trade that enslaves our most vulnerable citizens and torments our city with violent crime. We will attack this trade in the only practical way, by programs that take the profits out of drugs.

Sarah Ruden, Baltimore

The continuing strain on U.S.-Cuban relations

Like most Americans, I am thrilled by the prospect of exhibition games between the Orioles and a Cuban team. Not only will it be good baseball, it will also be good in promoting friendlier relations with our neighbor. Why then have the negotiations to set up the games proven to be so difficult?

As one who has been involved in many people-to-people exchanges with Cuba over the past 10 years, let me try to explain.

The sticking point seems to be over whether the proceeds from the games will go to the Cuban Catholic Church's relief agency Caritas (as the US government insists) or to aid Central American victims of Hurricane Mitch (as the Cubans want). To understand what lies behind this dispute, contrast the current situation with the famed Ping-Pong diplomacy that helped open up relations with China.

In that case, the Nixon administration was prepared to say to the Chinese that "we accept your government and your economic system; we do not insist that you change before we will deal with you." It was that respect for the sovereignty and integrity of China that made it possible for normal state-to-state relations to be finally established after 30 years of hostility.

But after 40 years the United States still has not come to such an attitude toward Cuba. Until we can come to understand the Cuban sense of dignity that is at the heart of their national identity, it is hard to see how the United States will be able to live in peace with this warm and generous nation.

Cliff DuRand, Baltimore

To our readers

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Pub Date: 1/26/99

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