Low turnout saps democracy's vitality
It was with much dismay that I heard on the local news and read in The Sun that voter turnout for Baltimore's primary election was so low - at just 28 percent of registered voters ("City's voter turnout is lackluster at 28%," Sept. 12).
This is appalling, especially in light of the fact that primary day fell on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
I believe that it is every American's duty to exercise his or her constitutional right to vote.
Whether or not one believes in what President Bush calls "the war on terror," we all know that al-Qaida does not believe in democracy.
And that underscores why it is imperative that every American registers to vote and actually casts his or her ballot - for that is what makes our country and our democracy strong.
Citizens must do more to expect more
How can parents expect a quality education and excellence from their children in schools when many of them don't even take the time to vote in municipal elections ("City's voter turnout is lackluster at 28%," Sept. 12)?
A lot of the people who don't vote will wait in line for the latest electronic gadget, for tickets for a sporting event or for a sale at the department store. These same people often gripe and complain about the inadequacies of their government even after they don't vote.
We can't demand more from our government and our elected officials when we don't take the small amount of time necessary to get involved in the political process.
Robert H. Paul
Heed the message of peace activists
I was disappointed by David Wood's coverage of Gen. David Petraeus' testimony ("'Uneven' progress in Iraq," Sept. 11) and by the lame analysis provided by Trudy Rubin ("Why you should listen to general, ambassador," Opinion
Commentary, Sept. 11).
Thankfully, however, the editorial "The 2016 scenario" (Sept. 11) did recognize that General Petraeus ignored the obvious - that the Iraqis should decide the fate of their country.
As a peace activist, I was outside the Cannon House Office Building with a sign reading "OUT OF IRAQ" while other activists were inside the hearing room to challenge the general's bromides.
I could not help but think of Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who, in another war, kept trying to convince the general public that there was a light at the end of that tunnel.
Instead of listening to someone who is controlled by the White House, why not listen to the peace movement?
Many of us said that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq could not threaten the U.S. and that a war in Iraq would become a quagmire.
It saddens me to state that we were right and that the Iraq war has become a disaster for all, especially the Iraqi people.
However, Mr. Wood gave the protesters little ink, saying only that "Petraeus testified at a packed congressional hearing that was disrupted periodically by anti-war protesters."
He made no mention of what the protesters said or of the fact that 10 were arrested.
Please give coverage to the peace movement.
The sooner The Sun does so, the better the chance that the politicians will come to their senses and end the debacle in Iraq.
Surge can't solve conflict in Iraq
Last January, President Bush was positive that a surge of 30,000 more U.S. troops would win for the Iraq government the breathing space needed for it to become functional and able to sustain and defend itself.
By funding the surge, Congress bought into that policy.
But eight months later, it's crystal clear that despite the surge, the Iraqi government remains a sham. Yet Mr. Bush's agents, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, are asking for more time. And, of course, more money ("'Uneven' progress in Iraq," Sept. 11).
Shame on the president, the general and the ambassador for peddling more snake oil.
And shame on Congress if it continues to fund it.
Grenville B. Whitman
No link established for forms of abuse
The controversy surrounding Michael Vick's participation in dogfights has prompted recent writers to assert a link between abuse of animals and abuse of humans (e.g., "Controlling the city's dangerous dogs," letters, Sept. 1). But despite the seeming "common sense" connection between these forms of violence, there is no credible scientific evidence to support that link. A careful and extensive review of the relevant literature published in the journal Society & Animals in March 2004 notes "the paucity of focused empirical data [and] the absence of longitudinal studies."
As the author, Piers Beirne, a member of the department of criminology at the University of Southern Maine, concludes with scientific caution: "The current generalizations about a progression from animal abuse to inter-human violence are, at best, premature. Indeed, rather than emanating from a coherent research program, support for the progression thesis comprises little more than pro-animal sloganeering."
Dr. Jeffrey M. Roseman Birmingham, Ala.
Morris Roseman Baltimore
The writers are, respectively, a professor emeritus of epidemiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and a retired associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
An inconvenience isn't an emergency
After reading Michael Dresser's column about people stranded on a northbound light-rail platform, I can certainly understand the frustration over being in that situation ("O's fans cry foul over rail delay," Sept. 10). But not calling 911 about it.
What happened to 911 calls being for emergencies only?
Since when does being inconvenienced qualify as an emergency?
Paeans to Pavarotti a memorable tribute
We want to thank Tim Smith for his two remembrances of Luciano Pavarotti ("Radiant tenor was king of opera world," Sept. 6, and "Operatic power to the people," Sept. 9).
In our home, there is the pre-LP period and the post-LP period - and LP does not refer to long-playing records but to Luciano Pavarotti.
Before we heard Mr. Pavarotti, we did not listen to much opera. After hearing him, we did not listen to very much other than opera.
Wink Baldwin Jane Baldwin Baltimore
Empty staff reflects tenor's stilled voice
Thank you to cartoonist Walt Handelsman for a wonderful and thoughtful tribute to the great Luciano Pavarotti in Saturday's paper ("Another View," Sept. 8).
The word "Fini" and a blank music sheet - no notes - that's all that was needed.
And now Mr. Pavarotti's terrific voice is gone.