Congress' role in security still a divisive mess

In a world aflame with wars and tsunamis, a contentious U.S. Congress is unable to agree on a plan to reorganize its critical homeland security oversight ("Homeland security turf war is likely," Jan. 4).

On an issue as sensitive and important as combating terrorism, our lawmakers are squabbling over how to preserve their own turf instead of concentrating on how to protect American lives and property.

As The Sun noted, there are 88 congressional committees that deal with homeland security issues, and all 100 senators and 412 of the 435 House members sit on those committees.

It would benefit the nation if those diverse committees closed ranks and acted in concert to protect America and its population from the dangers that could engulf us.

Albert E. Denny


Smaller inaugural would send signal

President Bush's appointment of former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton to be national fund-raisers for tsunami victims is a step in the right direction ("2 former presidents to raise aid for Asia," Jan. 4).

But if Mr. Bush were the man of conservative compassion that he claims to be, he would do a major downsizing - or eliminate altogether - the unnecessary hoopla that will surround his inauguration and use those funds for life-saving sustenance for the tsunami victims.

Clyde R. Shallenberger


Loss of life limits appeal of festivities

On Jan. 20, President Bush will be inaugurated for his second term. The event will involve numerous festivities and balls, which would be fitting for the occasion in ordinary times.

This time, however, because of the indescribable disaster that has befallen an untold number of people in South Asia, coupled with the calamitous insurgency in Iraq, would it not be appropriate for the administration to forgo such festivities?

This gesture, combined with a solemn inaugural speech by the president calling for world unity and solidarity with victims of the natural disaster in Asia as well as victims of terrorism, followed by the traditional parade, ought to suffice.

Meyer Schwarz


Critics use tragedy for political purposes

I was very disappointed to see that immediately after the recent natural disaster in South Asia, many members of the Democratic Party and many of their accomplices in the media used this horrific event as an excuse to criticize our president for what they would have us believe was inaction and insensitivity by the president.

I saw numerous discussions on various cable news networks about the stinginess of the Bush administration in aiding victims of the tsunami. I saw editorials in The Sun criticizing the president for his reaction to the disaster ("Aftershocks," editorial, Dec. 30).

These critics of the president are the very same ones who opposed him in the recent presidential election.

Their criticism of President Bush now, at a time when we should all be coming together to aid the victims of the disaster, looks like nothing more that a continuation of the last presidential campaign.

The election is over. I would urge all Americans to forget the political battles of the presidential campaign and come together and work for the betterment of us all.

Murray Spear


Where's compassion for others in need?

While I am sympathetic to the victims of the tsunami, I question why some of this charity can't be given to needy Americans ("Relief effort converges on stricken area," Jan. 3).

Would the same Americans who eagerly opened their purses to send donations to Asia consider doing the same to help the millions of Americans without health insurance or the hundreds of thousands who go to bed hungry or have nowhere to lay their heads?

And why do we not see the same compassionate concern for the thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens who have been killed in this unnecessary war?

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas

Owings Mills

Project in Towson will add to gridlock

If community associations in and around Towson don't fight the Heritage Properties and Cordish Co. complex planned for the area, then they will deserve what they get ("Panel approves Towson complex," Dec. 28).

If you think Towson is congested now, wait until this quirky project is completed. A deluge of cars and pedestrians will descend upon Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware avenues and Joppa Road, creating congestion and gridlock.

It's a silly idea to build a 600-bed dormitory for Towson University students as part of this fiasco. How are the students going to travel back and forth to campus? They'll use shuttle buses, of course, adding more confusion to Towson Circle.

Let the university build its own dormitories on campus, where it still has plenty of space.

This Towson Circle III complex, which is to be built in uncomfortably close quarters, is the last thing Towson needs.

Shame on the Baltimore County Development Review Committee for rushing this project through.

David Boyd

White Hall

The insiders control planning in county

Leave it to Baltimore County to propagate a process that makes it possible to rubber stamp a massive development project including a 600-bed dormitory, a 725-space parking garage, 64,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and road closures, without as much as a single public input meeting ("Panel approves Towson complex," Dec. 28).

Any opposing voice has been effectively muted by the Development Review Committee.

All important discussions on this and most projects take place in the private offices of politicians, department heads, developers and their lawyers, while the DRC offers a phony process in which the public is not guaranteed an opportunity to speak.

The "old boys club" is alive and well in Baltimore County.

It's time the public stood up and said, "Enough is enough."

Corinne Becker


A snide attack on conservatives

It was hard to tell if Steven Lubet was doing a bad job of sarcasm or if he is really that obnoxious ("No sinister liberal scheme on campus," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 29). But I'm not even a conservative and this diatribe insulted me.

It could be that conservatives intentionally avoid academe for the reasons Mr. Lubet so snidely articulated.

Or maybe conservatives just want to avoid people like him.

Sonny Church


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