SATURDAY MAILBOX

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Right treatment can put juveniles on a better path

I write to support the "Potential model for Maryland" (Dec. 13) discussed by reporter Greg Garland.

The future of Baltimore and of Maryland depend on the state's willingness to think creatively about - and fund appropriately - programs that break the cycle of criminal families.

Surely, many detainees grow up in environments where violent and criminal behavior is more normal than deviant.

Detention in the juvenile justice system, although unfortunate in many respects, presents a vital intervention opportunity. If we do our job right, we can stop the development of an adult criminal.

And while The Sun presents the Missouri model as blessed relief from our current juvenile system, let us not forget that juveniles are also increasingly being tried and incarcerated as adults.

Incarcerating juveniles in adult facilities rather than ones for juveniles has been shown to increase a youth's chances of being assaulted, committing suicide and committing another crime after release.

I do not want my tax dollars used to place children in adult facilities or to place them in juvenile jails that intervene ineffectually.

I hope Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and the legislature will soon move to implement the Missouri model, demonstrating to taxpayers and voters that they are willing to break the criminal cycle by truly treating kids and, moreover, treating them as kids.

Randy Alison Aussenberg

Baltimore

The writer is a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.

U.S. ties to Canada strong and respectful

Relations between the United States and Canada are excellent, and Jules Witcover is wrong to accuse President Bush of taking "a slap at Canada" during his recent visit ("Good-will ambassador," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 3).

Mr. Witcover also did readers a disservice by focusing on an insignificant security misunderstanding at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Santiago, Chile, while ignoring what the United States and its partners achieved.

The APEC meeting was a great success, and the United States is proud of the role it played in helping the participating economies make progress on several key fronts, including trade liberalization and security.

APEC leaders endorsed new action against corruption and intellectual property rights piracy and approved specific steps to confront terrorism.

Relations between the United States and our northern neighbor are the envy of the world. Cross-border trade between the United States and Canada totals about $1.4 billion per day, and we enjoy excellent cooperation on North American security issues.

Although we might have some policy differences on Iraq, Canada is a key donor to reconstruction efforts in that country. Canada has also played a major role in efforts to bring stability and democracy to Haiti and Afghanistan.

While we may differ over trade issues such as soft lumber imports and mad cow disease, the United States knows a trade dispute that hurts our northern neighbor will also have adverse effects at home.

We are working to resolve these other disputes to our mutual satisfaction as soon as possible.

Respect and mutual understanding have always characterized our relations with Canada, and in my view they always will.

Roger F. Noriega

Washington

The writer is assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Debate state policy on use of public land

After all the recent disclosures about the management of our state public lands - from the list of lands up for grabs, to the almost-sale of land in St. Mary's County to a campaign contributor, to the latest revelation of a lease of state park land for an exclusive $30 million resort-conference-education center on the Chesapeake Bay ("Education center-resort rising quietly at Elk Neck," Dec. 8) - it has become abundantly clear that there needs to be an inclusive public discussion about the future of our state treasures.

Since most of the recent plans have been conducted under the radar of public scrutiny, it is time for a little fresh air.

The public needs to know how many more of these privatization-commercialization projects are being hatched. And we need to have more of a say in the ultimate fate of the lands that have been put into the public trust.

Without a public lands policy publicly aired and embraced by Maryland citizens, these kinds of deals will continue to nibble away at our public open spaces.

Marylanders need to become more actively involved in the stewardship of these lands.

We live in a great state with rare and beautiful places. Let's keep it that way.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

Health system needs to insure everyone

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s recent proposal to transfer money from the Maryland Health Insurance Program (which offers insurance coverage to those too sick to buy it in the commercial marketplace) and use it to aid doctors with high malpractice premiums is just the most recent of his short-sighted ideas ("Ehrlich poses using surplus for doctors' rate increase," Dec. 9).

Unfortunately, our governor is incapable of seeing the big picture. What we really need in Maryland, as well as the rest of the nation, is major reform in the way that health care is financed.

The health of the population must be viewed as a community obligation - one to which everyone contributes and one that covers everyone.

Until universal coverage is achieved, we will continue to see squabbling over money.

This time it is some highly paid specialists who would get money from very sick people. Last time, it was cuts proposed in state expenditures for a variety of state programs for the underserved.

The Institute of Medicine has unequivocally stated that the United States needs universal health coverage, and Physicians for a National Health Program says that we need a single payer with "everybody in, nobody out."

When are the leaders of our country and our state going to wake up and tackle the problem in a substantive way?

Dr. Deborah Schumann

Bethesda

Offering sour grapes over Bush's victory

Kudos to the crack decision-makers in The Sun's editorial department for not only deciding to publish David Lytel's - pick one - conspiracy theory/just-can't-face-reality/sour grapes rant but also, quite astonishingly, making it the featured commentary of the day ("Silencing the vote," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 9).

Since The Sun didn't see fit to print an opposing viewpoint, may I offer some food for thought?

Mr. Lytel cited a post-election poll that showed that 38 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independent voters believed that "there were either 'some' or 'many' attempts at unlawful vote suppression."

Well, that means that an overwhelming majority of those voters actually believe that Sen. John Kerry lost fair and square.

Mr. Lytel bemoaned that the recounts being conducted are "not being covered by the commercial news media."

Well, the reason the "commercial media" - which are approximately 90 percent liberal and have almost unlimited investigational resources at their disposal - aren't covering these recounts is because they have accepted reality and have begrudgingly acknowledged that Mr. Bush did indeed win fair and square

While it is understandable that there will always be some disgruntled and misguided individuals who just can't bring themselves to accept defeat, what is not understandable is The Sun's stubborn insistence on giving credence to such dubious theories.

Steve Couzantino

Pasadena

New intelligence bill won't protect rights

In overhauling our intelligence system, Congress missed a major opportunity to repair the damage the war on terror has done to our courts and the constitutional rights they protect ("Overhaul of spy agencies easily clears Senate," Dec. 9).

The 2001 Patriot Act too often turns judges into rubber stamps, weakening the historic power of our courts to stop abuses when the government jails suspects, obtains personal records and monitors private communications. In some cases, the government can skip the courthouse altogether.

The new intelligence bill's solution to these problems, a token privacy and civil liberties oversight board within the executive branch, is a fig leaf.

The board would serve at the pleasure of the president and would be forced to ask the attorney general to intervene whenever an agency doesn't feel like cooperating.

This board would have no real power to check government abuses of civil liberties. Its chairmanship would not even be required to be a full-time job.

And Congress stopped short of requiring that each department conducting the war on terror appoint a single person concerned with protecting constitutional liberties.

A powerless board does nothing to set the proper balance between safety and freedom.

And the plain fact is that courts are indispensable to the war on terror. The abuses at Abu Ghraib remind us that all governments can abuse their power if they face no oversight or independent checks on their powers.

Judges are there to protect our rights and remind us what we are fighting to preserve - the American way.

Bert Brandenburg

Washington

The writer is executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign.

A federal assault on the blue states?

The Sun's article "White House considers cutting state, local tax deduction" (Dec. 6) made me, as a resident of a "blue" state think that I was living in Stalinist Russia rather than in the Land of Pleasant Living

It appears that an effort will be made to eliminate the income tax deductions for state and local income taxes.

The article noted that a preponderance of people affected by this action will be the citizens of the states who voted for the Democratic presidential candidate.

So citizens of those states apparently will be punished for the electoral perfidy.

But why stop at tax reform? Why not give a lower priority to mail to residences in blue states, or have disability determination services process only claims from red states, or have the IRS audit only blue-state tax returns?

When disaster strikes, of course the Federal Emergency Management Administration should handle the red states first, no matter what the extent of damage is in blue states.

And obviously the 57 million or so people who voted against the president should have their citizenship re-examined.

Eventually, people in blue states who can prove they voted morally and correctly will be allowed to resettle in red states, which will annex the blue states.

Then the remaining residents of blue states will be dispersed to new colonies; heterosexual Christians will be relocated to France; Jews, gays and lesbians will be sent to the most intolerant countries.

Do you think Martha Stewart knows how to decorate a Gulag?

Joseph B. Rosenberg

Gwynn Oak

When will liberals start their exodus?

When are those disgruntled, depressed and "the sky is falling" liberal Sen. John Kerry voters going to leave the United States for Canada and other foreign ports of call, as many promised to do if President Bush won re-election?

So far, I don't see a mass exodus of liberals such as Barbra Streisand and other Hollywood and musical artists, or of any other type of depressed liberal.

But I encourage all the disenchanted liberals to leave what they see as an evil, evil America under Mr. Bush.

And, please, for the sake of the rest of us Americans who cherish this nation and respect President Bush, make your trip abroad a permanent, one-way trip, and leave as quickly as possible.

I believe our nation will be all the better if there is a mass exodus of obstructionist liberals from this country.

John A. Malagrin

Baltimore

New format harms comics, TV listings

The new look of The Sun's comics pages is atrocious. I cannot believe the paper would subject readers to such foolishness merely to save a page of newsprint.

As an aging baby boomer, my vision is not as good as it used to be, so it astounds me that you would make the comics even smaller than they were.

Some of them are downright tiny, and the strips that are dependent on words suffer especially.

Shrinking all the comic strips is by far the worst of The Sun's mistakes, but not the only one.

Eliminating the pre-prime-time TV grids and squeezing the prime-time grid onto the comics page is a pretty big mistake in its own right.

No longer can one rely on the Tuesday newspaper containing all the TV listings for Tuesday. Readers will have to purchase Sunday's weekly guide and make sure that they save it in a safe and accessible place. We might as well just buy TV Guide, which does it better.

Dropping the strips "Willy 'n Ethel" and "Jump Start" was also a mistake in my eyes, especially in light of their relatively weak replacements.

I understand the need to churn strips now and then, but I can't believe people were clamoring for the deletion of those two strips or for the inclusion of the new selections.

I am not quite ready to give up on The Sun, but I am several steps closer.

Isaac Perry Cocke

Baltimore

Marriage is union of man and woman

I recently celebrated the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful wife.

When I look back to that day and ponder what it means to be married, I think of the solemn vows I made to my wife, before God, to unite a man and a woman as one.

I firmly understood then, as I do today, that marriage is an institution not subject to the winds of change or the whims of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is firm and solid, meant to be taken seriously, like the union it represents.

It is a commitment by a man and a woman. It should not be taken likely.

In my eyes, as well as in the eyes of many others, it is a sacred sacrament blessing the union of a man and woman, and is meant to be entered into as a deep and honored commitment.

Regardless of whether all people enter into it with this sense of commitment, that is the heart and soul of what it was meant to represent.

I do sympathize with those who share a deep commitment with a member of the same sex. I realize they have a harder road before them. But marriage was never instituted with the idea that such people could participate.

I believe a different civil union is warranted to protect the rights of these couples. But it should not be marriage.

I believe in our country's principle of equal rights. But we all know that some of these rights come with qualifiers.

A person has a right to yell "fire," but not in a crowded theater.

A person has a right to smoke, but not in my house.

A person has a right to make a commitment and protect his or her union with another person of the same sex, but not in the institution of marriage.

Rob Aune

Sykesville

Bible's commands aren't always valid

The writer of the letter "Ignoring Bible isn't mainstream for Christians" (Dec. 8) states, "The Bible flat-out declares that homosexual behavior is sinful. Agree with it or not, but that's what it says."

That's quite true. But I find it disingenuous to proclaim adherence to this biblical teaching while ignoring other biblical commands.

For example, the Bible gives detailed instructions on how to handle slaves, including buying, selling and beating them. But most of us now agree that slavery is wrong.

The Bible commands the stoning to death of women who commit adultery, but we don't do that anymore.

I don't think one can selectively use the Bible to support one's prejudices while ignoring the rest of what it commands.

You simply can't have it both ways.

Harry Sarazin

Havre de Grace

Time for Rumsfeld to retire?

"Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning, and I'm gathering my thoughts here" ("U.S. soldiers put Rumsfeld on defensive," Dec. 9).

This nonresponse by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to a question from a soldier in Kuwait about equipment shortages reveals much about the man.

Age? Seventy-two years. But rather than evoking pity, this only reminds us that he has already lived three to four times longer than most of our nearly 1,300 American troops who have now died in Iraq. Their buddies remain at huge risk with, many contend, too little defensive armor.

Bullets are aimed at them daily, while this official faces only occasional queries, almost always parried.

Words do not kill; bombs do, have, and - sadly - will.

Too early for him to think clearly? Our troops have no choice, often required to function with little or no sleep and zero time to gather their thoughts in order to survive.

Mr. Rumsfeld's numerous mistakes are on the record. But confining criticism to him alone is unfair. He serves his commander in chief, who lavishes praise for such service.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney run this show - an administration where accountability is nonexistent and the word "mistake" is foreign, and an Oval Office where President Harry S. Truman's fabled "buck" has never slowed, much less stopped.

Still, the nation would benefit if this secretary of defense would gather not his thoughts but his belongings, and return to private industry.

Milton Bates

Baltimore

It seems very late and very dishonorable for Donald H. Rumsfeld to play the age-frailty card as he now goes about "gathering his thoughts" and attempting to correct his initial colossal misjudgments that contributed to the Iraq disaster that these youthful troops are now asked to rectify.

One wonders if the secretary has checked the average age of the 1,300 U.S. men and women who have died in Iraq and the nearly 10,000 who have been injured.

Charles J. Burke

Stoneleigh

One fact was left out of The Sun's editorial regarding Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's statement that you go to war with "the Army you have, not the Army you might want" ("The Army you have," editorial, Dec. 10). The editorial failed to point out that there was no emergency that required us go to war with just the Army we had.

We could have waited until we were better prepared and gone into battle with the Army we wanted.

How many lives would have been saved? How many fewer soldiers would have been wounded?

We'll never know, because our brave men and women are dealing with the "Army they have."

Barbara Blumberg

Baltimore

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's answer to the soldier's question in Kuwait - "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time" - might have been appropriate on Dec. 8, 1941. But not on Dec. 8, 2004.

In 1941, we were attacked and were responding. In this war, we were the ones who attacked.

Joseph Siegmund

Baltimore

Isn't it amazing that The Sun chastised Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld for the lack of armor on trucks in Iraq, and yet endorsed the Democratic candidate for president, who voted against an appropriations bill to supply the troops? What kind of logic is that?

John Johnson Jr.

Baltimore

As a retired soldier who spent 21 years in the Army, I must say that it is past time for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign.

His response to Spc. Thomas Wilson's question about why troops have to scrounge for armor was callous and arrogant.

Soldiers have a right to expect that they will go to the wars the politicians start with all necessary resources.

Bureaucrats such as Mr. Rumsfeld have no common-sense comprehension of what soldiers need to achieve victory in the Iraq quagmire.

He should have the moral courage to resign - or be dishonorably fired by President Bush.

The soldiers bleeding in Iraq deserve support - and nothing less.

Joe Hammell

Waynesboro, Pa.

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