Thank you, Congress, for signing away more of our freedom ("Bush signs expanded wiretap bill," Aug. 6)
It's horrifying to know that our government now in some cases has the authority to wiretap us without a court warrant.
And in light of the climate of contempt for American citizens from our government - from getting us into a war in Iraq based on lies to the federal government's acquiescence to illegal immigration - Americans need to be alert and suspicious.
Government "for the people" no longer exists here.
So much of what the National Security Agency does is classified that we may never really know just how much eavesdropping is now going on.
But as the Bush administration continues to encroach on our rights, the putative "war on terror" has evolved into a war on law-abiding citizens.
A wise man said, "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
It's too bad that our self-absorbed, ignorant, populace seems to have forgotten that point.
Understating impact of a sales tax hike
When will The Sun's reporters and state leaders advocating an increase in the sales tax stop calling it "adding a penny to the sales tax," as reporter Andrew Green does in "Groups propose ideas on deficit" (Aug. 5)?
What is being discussed is a 20 percent increase in the sales tax - as increasing the rate from 5 percent to 6 percent would be a 20 percent increase in the tax rate.
I would join many other Marylanders in supporting a sales tax increase that called for adding a penny to any sales tax we currently pay on an item.
But that is not about to happen - unless that item only costs $1.
Foes of abortion picked wrong forum
While I was driving my 9- and 11-year-old daughters to camp last Thursday, we were accosted by protesters along the shoulder of Charles Street. They were wielding graphic, disturbing and enormously enlarged photographs of bloody fetuses, all in the name of urging Marylanders to repudiate legal abortions ("Abortion foes mount 'Truth Tour,'" Aug 3).
Participants in the "Face the Truth Tour" would do well to bear in mind that reasoned persuasion might be a better way to open a dialogue that could further their goals.
As for me, after shouting at my children to close their eyes, I then had three minutes left before arriving at camp to try to explain an enormously complex issue and assuage their distress about the protest they involuntarily witnessed.
Score zero for the right-to-life movement.
I respect those who engage in respectful, if spirited, debate in appropriate venues, not those who subject my children to traumas.
Lucy Neale Duke
Protesters unkind to living children
My 2-year-old daughter and I were driving down Honeygo Blvd. in White Marsh on Friday when we were besieged by grisly pictures of a fetus' head ("Abortion foes mount 'Truth Tour'," Aug. 3). Fortunately my four-year-old daughter was not in the car.
I think it is completely irrelevant whether I am pro-life or pro-choice. But I am absolutely appalled by the decision of this group, "Defend Life," to put such horrific pictures in places where children are inevitably a significant part of the audience.
I am a licensed mental health therapist for children and adolescents and I find it completely reprehensible that this group is apparently willing to sacrifice the fragile egos of the children witnessing these photos in order to sway the votes of their parents.
Abortion is an adult issue and this protest group - and others like it - should be reprimanded for its willingness to cause undue emotional distress to the most vulnerable living people in our society - children.
True Catholics abide by church's tenets
The Sun's article on the anti-abortion demonstrators referred to Gov. Martin O'Malley as an "abortion-rights Catholic" (Abortion foes mount 'Truth Tour,'" Aug. 3).
There can be no such thing.
The Catholic Church firmly teaches that abortion is wrong.
People who protest such an article of faith by supporting abortion in any way cannot be properly called "Catholic," regardless of how they refer to themselves.
Raising livestock teaches cruel lesson
I was disturbed to read about the faulty "life lessons" being taught to children in Maryland's 4-H program ("On the farm, kids learn life lessons," July 30).
Teaching children that animals are disposable commodities who must die for human consumption is not only cruel but patently false.
The simple fact is that animals do not need to suffer and die for people's dinner plates.
The American Dietetic Association has acknowledged that vegetarian diets are "healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases" including diabetes and obesity.
This is especially noteworthy in light of the obesity epidemic affecting our nation's youth.
Over the years, Farm Sanctuary has taken in countless farm animals from distraught 4-H participants who find sending their animal companions to slaughter unacceptable.
Unfortunately, we cannot take in every animal brought to us, so the best solution would be for families to forgo such misguided programs.
Doing so would allow our children both a cleaner conscience and a cleaner bill of health.
The writer is director of campaigns for Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit group that works to rescue farm animals.
Nothing shameful in Travolta's tears
I was very offended by Friday's "Inside Today" headline, "Oh, boohoo, Travolta" (Aug. 3), and by Laura Vozzella's column about John Travolta tearing up at Cal Ripken's Hall of Fame induction ceremony ("Basebawl," Aug. 3).
The column and the headline were cheap shots at John Travolta and at anyone else with actual emotions.
What is wrong with a man who doesn't mind showing some emotion?
I'm sure there were many men who teared up during Mr. Ripken's speech, including Mr. Ripken himself. But I didn't see anyone slamming Cal or saying he started "bawling like my wife at the end of a 'chickflick.'"
The column's last sentence, "Maybe playing Edna Turnblad wasn't such a stretch" is a ridiculous and insulting cheap shot.
Ms. Vozzella and The Sun both owe Mr. Travolta and all his fans an apology.
The column "Basebawl" was heavy-handed in its attempt at humor. The column instead came across as mean-spirited ridicule.
And I think tears are a perfectly acceptable response to beauty, in whatever guise it presents itself.
Bonny M. Lewis