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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

'Punting' bill on prescriptions will hurt seniors

If Congress and the president lower the bar on providing drug coverage to the nation's 40 million Medicare beneficiaries, they won't be simply punting the ball -- forfeiting the game is more like it ("Punting," editorial, Sept. 15).

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As The Sun notes, the bills being debated in conference committee have their problems.

Employers should be strongly encouraged (not discouraged) to continue offering retiree health coverage; premiums and deductibles are too high and gaps in coverage too wide; and there are no guarantees things will be equal for those who stay in the traditional Medicare model instead of joining a private insurer (which is one of the most potentially destabilizing of the proposed changes).

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But what the editorial failed to note is that when the president and many members of Congress asked for our votes in the previous election, they did so with a promise.

They committed to passing a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients, not to enacting a national discount drug card or to allowing drugs to be imported legally from Canada -- both of which are appreciated, but ultimately meager, measures.

Failure to keep this promise not only would be dishonest, it would tighten the noose around the neck of seniors and their families who have been struggling with the high cost of necessary prescription drugs.

Deidre Rye

Baltimore

The writer is interim state director for AARP Maryland.

Don't blame Israel for Arafat's terror

Thomas L. Friedman's column "Breaking death's grip" (Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 12) suggests that the uprooting of Israeli settlements would "stimulate a different set of Palestinian reactions, such as controlling suicide bombers."

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In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat a Palestinian state in Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank, and the deal would have included dismantling some Israeli settlements.

What was the Palestinian reaction? First, Mr. Arafat rejected Mr. Barak's offer. Then, far from controlling suicide bombers, he unleashed them, creating a new reign of terror in which, to date, some 850 Israelis have been killed.

Mr. Friedman, Mideast expert that he is, is well aware of these facts, but in a truly marvelous feat of prestidigitation, he turns them upside-down.

In a message to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he says, "In three years, some 850 Israelis have been killed under your strategy."

Thus, according to Mr. Friedman, those 850 people apparently were killed not by Palestinian terrorists but by Mr. Sharon's strategy of striking back at the terrorists.

What kind of crazy, lopsided analysis is this?

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Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Arafat isn't blocking the path to peace

Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin are wrong to say that Yasser Arafat destroyed the Oslo peace process and that he is the major impediment to peace now ("Still blocking path to peace," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 12).

The major impediments to peace now are the same as they were at Oslo:

The Israelis were not and are not willing to give the Palestinians all their land back and set them free.

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The Palestinians, knowing they have international law, the international community and simple justice on their side, will settle for nothing less.

Generous U.S. aid enables Israel to maintain its policies toward the Palestinians.

Bob Krasnansky

Ellicott City

Court ruling distorts election precedent

The federal court decisions regarding the Florida Bush vs. Gore dispute and the California recall are complete opposites ("Court orders delay of Calif recall vote," Sept. 16).

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The Florida case concerned the attempt of the Florida Supreme Court to control the election when the Florida Constitution relegated this authority to the state Legislature. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the recount ordered by the Florida high court was unconstitutional, and it ruled 5-4 that no further counting could lawfully be done because of time constraints, thus ensuring that Florida's certification of George W. Bush's victory would stand.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the authority of the Legislature because the mechanics of elections are relegated to the states by the U.S Constitution and subject to state constitutions.

But in the California recall case, it appears that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the California Constitution and, on its own, decided the mechanics of the election.

Richard R. Tatlow

Marriottsville

Let United Nations punish the lawless

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I believe President Bush was wrong in going to war in Iraq without support from the United Nations ("The war in Iraq was a triumph for world peace," letters, Sept. 11).

This sort of unilateral action, in which countries made their own decisions on international matters, caused the League of Nations to break up. Will that happen to the United Nations?

If Saddam Hussein violated 17 U.N. resolutions, the United Nations, not the United States, should determine the severity of the violations and the punishment. Many foreign countries are of the opinion that the United States is trying to run the world.

I believe that terrorists, although they cause damage by their raids, will not directly cause the downfall of the United States.

The downfall will be caused by the country going bankrupt from the expense of homeland security and supporting troops in foreign countries.

Henry W. Garvin

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Forest Hill

War's carnage is far, far away

President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld are emphasizing that our Iraq policy means we battle terrorists in somebody else's backyard, not our own ("U.S. officials hint they'll seek more money for Iraq," Sept. 15). And it appears the terrorists are cooperating. They're apparently now flocking to Iraq in response to Mr. Bush's "bring them on" invitation.

Despite the killing and wounding of U.S. troops, the impact on their families and the huge cost of the effort, there are some advantages to this policy.

The U.S. electric grid still works, our water still flows, our homes and hotels and public buildings still stand. Our police aren't mistaken for bad guys and shot, our kids still go to school, our civilians aren't blown up.

I guess we should be grateful the war is in the Iraqis' backyard. I'm sure the Iraqis aren't.

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Al McKegg

West Friendship

Grateful for feature on 'grateful country'

Reporter John Woestendiek's feature article "'On Behalf of a Grateful Country...'" Sept. 14) was one of the very best I have read in 47 years of reading The Sun.

If this article does not win a Pulitzer Prize, they should stop awarding that prize.

Thank you for excellent reporting in the highest tradition of The Sun and of journalistic excellence.

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David Robinette

Pasadena


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