The Baltimore Sun

Support for troops is only lip service

Last week, light was held up to two harsh examples of dishonoring our disabled soldiers, with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates' dismissal of two top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center ("Army secretary forced from job," March 3) and Bob Woodruff's reports on ABC about care for soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.

Those examples demonstrated, once again, that the Bush administration's support for our troops does not go beyond lip service.

For five years now, we have listened to members of this administration admonish those who challenged and criticized any aspect of the "war on terrorism."

Those critics have been accused of being unpatriotic and of threatening the safety and morale of our troops with remarks that questioned our country's motives and strategies.

The Walter Reed expos? showed us the inferior accommodations that returning soldiers endure at what had been considered one of the military's premier medical facilities.

Mr. Woodruff's interviews with returning wounded soldiers and military officials revealed the evasion and denial about the number and severity of casualties from this war.

This is a travesty. Our troops deserve better than a rally call to "Support Our Troops."

They deserve better protection while in harm's way, and they deserve better medical care for their physical and psychological injuries.

And equally important, they deserve an honest acknowledgment of their experiences at home and on the battlefield.

Barbara Barnow

Ellicott City

Where was Congress as soldiers suffered?

The questioning by members of Congress of Army higher-ups and their claims that they were surprised by recent disclosures about soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and were treated shabbily raises an interesting issue: Just how many soldiers and their families asked their representatives in Congress for help ("Army brass lashed over Walter Reed," March 6)?

Soldiers routinely contact their representatives over more-mundane problems.

So it's inconceivable to me that something as horrific as inadequate medical care, sub-standard facilities and the bureaucratic nightmare at Walter Reed and other Veterans Affairs facilities wouldn't have resulted in a deluge of calls and letters to Congress.

It would be interesting to turn the questions around and ask why Congress was surprised by the reports of mistreatment of soldiers.

Lisa Mohan

Stewartstown, Pa.

Exploiting troops to cover bad policy

This administration has eroded our war-fighting ability (and worldwide credibility) to an astonishing degree.

From the scandal of inadequate body armor for the troops to aged equipment to the mistreatment of patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center ("Army brass lashed over Walter Reed," March 6), there is only one conclusion that can be drawn: This administration is using the troops as a propaganda tool to cover its failed, self-serving policies.

It is not for the Democrats to answer to accusations of being unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops.

Instead, they should accuse the administration of gross negligence and corruption.

Frank R. Walsh


Gas tax first salvo in state money grab

Congratulations, voters of Maryland. You asked for it and you got it: An exorbitant gas tax increase has been proposed by state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller ("Let the battle of the budget begin," March 1).

But wait: I bet there are more goodies in the General Assembly's bag of tricks.

Just think, we can look forward to an expansion of the sales tax to include certain services, and even better, an increase in the sales tax itself.

These taxes will surely improve our quality of life, particularly for the illegal immigrant population, which may be granted in-state tuition rates at state universities.

Voters, this is just the beginning: There surely will be more creative thinking in Annapolis about how to pick our pockets.

Just wait and see.

Anne McCloskey


The threat of death deters jail killings

Once again, a correctional officer has been attacked by an inmate, although this time, thankfully, the guard was not murdered ("Inmate stabs guard," March 3). Once again, the inmate was serving a sentence of life without parole for murder.

Gov. Martin O'Malley makes an appearance, bemoans the fact that this occurred, and suggests the state will act to create a safer prison environment.

Meanwhile, the governor and some other members of his party in Annapolis are doing their best to repeal Maryland's death penalty.

Without a death penalty, an inmate serving a life sentence knows that that he cannot be punished any more than he already is, so he can, literally, get away with murder.

Here's what we can do, Mr. O'Malley: not repeal the death penalty but use it more frequently and more quickly.

This would deter inmates from doing such things. And if one does so, he won't do it again.

Clay Seeley

Owings Mills

Eliminate archaic act of vengeance

The General Assembly is considering a bill that would end executions in our state ("O'Malley and Mooney discuss death penalty," March 3).

As a citizen of one of the few countries in the world that still uses the death penalty, I am ashamed of the way in which we demonstrate our humanity - or lack thereof.

Where is our understanding that some of the horrible crimes committed are directly related to the terrible parenting styles and lives some of our citizens endure?

Where is our willingness to better our fellow humans? Where is our belief in forgiveness and, even more, the rehabilitation of a human soul or spirit?

Given the many mistakes made in our courts (perhaps "justice system" is not the best title for our legal system) and the statements from many families of murder victims indicating they realize the death of the perpetrator will not reverse the tragedy in their lives, let us eliminate in our state this sign of animal vengeance.

Marilyn Carlisle


Good golly, what a silly news topic

The Sun sank to a new low with the column "Good golly, Molly's 40" (March 2).

To take up the top third of a page with an article about a Ravens cheerleader turning 40 shows that The Sun lacks the ability to report real news.

Does anyone really care that Constellation Energy Group CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III's wife is turning 40? I think people would rather have information on the pending increase in their electric bills, which Mr. Shattuck is involved in, or how much a private citizen paid to use a stadium built with taxpayer dollars to throw a birthday party for his wife.

However, I'm sure glad The Sun made us aware how excessive CEO pay is spent; it will soften the blow when my electric bill goes up.

J. Michael Collins


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