The Baltimore Sun

Health veto threat unkind to children

I'm sure many Sun readers must find it shocking that President Bush plans to veto legislation that would support health care for kids ("How can anyone oppose health care for children?" Opinion * Commentary, July 30).

The Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2007 would extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides low-income children with health care coverage.

Congress has supported an expansion of the program. The Senate's bill could, by 2012, cover up to 4.1 million kids who otherwise would be uninsured.

But the SCHIP program is set to expire at the end of September unless it is renewed.

Mr. Bush, who is privileged to come from a rich family, had the audacity to say, "My concern is that when you expand eligibility ... you're really beginning to open up an avenue for people to switch from private insurance to the government."

Doesn't he understand that many people cannot afford private health insurance and many cannot find a job?

Obviously, children are not a priority for Mr. Bush.

Pauline McKibbin


Focus health funds on low-income kids

The Sun's editorial "SCHIP shot" (July 17) may raise fears that children in Maryland will lose their health insurance because of a debate in Washington over renewing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

However, the president supports reauthorizing this important program for low-income children, with enough funding to ensure that no one currently enrolled loses coverage.

His budget also calls for enough funding so that children who are now eligible for the program but are not enrolled can be covered.

But the Senate and House are each proposing bills that call for a massive expansion of the program to children in higher-income families, which might move them from private insurance onto public assistance.

The president does not support those proposals, which would more than double SCHIP spending and extend eligibility to millions of children who have private insurance or whose parents earn enough to afford private insurance.

Do we really want to force taxpayers to pay for government insurance for children whose parents earn $70,000 or $80,000 a year?

The bills proposed by Congress are not about helping low-income children; they're about using SCHIP to stage a gradual government takeover of American health care.

Congress should stop trying to use SCHIP to provide coverage for those who can afford it on their own and concentrate on keeping its commitment to the low-income children SCHIP is meant to help.

Gordon R. Woodrow


The writer is a regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A chance to reassert nation's rule of law

I, for one, am glad that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is standing by his statements about the National Security Agency's surveillance program, because this gives Congress an excellent opportunity to charge him with perjury and remove him from his office ("Leahy says Gonzales risks perjury probe," July 30).

If former President Bill Clinton had to endure an investigation and impeachment investigation over lying about sexual favors that broke no laws and involved a much less important ethics violation, Mr. Gonzales should have to answer for his apparent lies.

This administration thinks it is above the law, and the attorney general has been one of the most consistent proponents of this view.

Now we as a nation have an opportunity to show that this isn't so.

Craig Bettenhausen


Some jurors assume defendant is guilty

There was an important omission in Gregory Kane's column about Baltimore's jury bias ("Hung juries are becoming an alarming trend in city," July 28).

Yes, there are jurors who create hung juries because of personal beliefs.

Yes, there are examples of jurors who are suspicious of police testimony.

However, the opposite is also true: I've deliberated alongside jurors who were convinced the government would not charge an individual with a crime unless that person was guilty.

Should I ever find myself on trial, those will be the jurors who scare me.

Let's remember that our system requires the government to prove the guilt of a person who is presumed innocent, not the other way around.

John Kelly


Fights a small part of cruelty to animals

The national media have had a field day reporting on allegations that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick ran a brutal dogfighting operation and slaughtered dogs ("Dogfight fans aren't so easy to categorize," July 29).

Yet they rarely report on the brutal slaughter every hour of every day of every year of cows, pigs and other innocent, sentient animals that are just as deserving of our respect and compassion as dogs.

In today's factory farms, cows' babies are torn from their mothers at birth and chained by the neck for 16 weeks in tiny wooden crates to produce veal.

Among pigs, breeding sows are impregnated artificially and confined in similarly tight metal cages.

Among chickens, as many as seven laying hens are stuffed for months in a metal cage the size of a folded newspaper.

Following this kind of abuse, animals are trucked for hours without food or water and exposed to extreme cold or heat. Many never make it to the slaughterhouse.

Then, at the slaughterhouse, the remaining animals are frequently dismembered, skinned, scalded or drowned while fully conscious.

Every dollar we spend for meat or dairy products at the checkout counter is our direct subsidy for animal cruelty.

Let's remember our own responsibility when we get upset at the latest report on the cruel treatment of dogs.

Kelly E. Lally


Comstock advanced respiratory health

We at the American Lung Association of Maryland were deeply saddened to read of the passing of George Wills Comstock ("George Wills Comstock," July 19).

Dr. Comstock was a driving force in our organization because of his work and research on tuberculosis.

TB was once the leading cause of death in the United States. While cases of TB have decreased significantly here, it remains an enormous problem around the world, with nearly 2 billion people - almost one-third of the world's population - carrying the tuberculosis bacteria and nearly 2 million TB-related deaths per year.

Since 1998, we have presented the annual George Wills Comstock M.D. Award to a local physician in recognition of extraordinary lifetime service in promoting respiratory health through care, teaching or research.

Dr. Comstock's work will benefit us for generations to come.

Dr. Carl B. Shanholtz

Hunt Valley

The writer is president of the Maryland Thoracic Society, the medical education branch of the American Lung Association of Maryland.

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