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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

'Greening' is key to city's future

I could not agree more with Linda Schade and Kevin Zeese that a serious plan for long-term sustainability and a green economy can raise Baltimore out of its current problems of grit and crime ("Envisioning Baltimore's greener future," Commentary, June 2).

The potential here is exhilarating, and this opportunity is quite the opposite of the depressing and frightening prospects we usually associate with climate change and environmental damage.

Baltimore's new Sustainability Commission has made a good start by adopting an inclusive process, eschewing jargony language and planning for public input in its work.

And the mayor has earned my respect by putting real muscle behind the idea of a cleaner, greener Baltimore.

I hope that The Sun will begin systematically covering the many exciting developments in our city that fall under the general rubric of "The Greening of Baltimore."

We have new environmentally certified buildings coming on line and in planning. We have watershed associations developing significant collaborative approaches to protecting our rivers and streams.

We have hospitals and schools improving their food purchasing policies and supporting local farms.

There is something exciting happening in every corner of our civic life.

Rebecca Ruggles, Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Baltimore's Sustainability Commission.

Eating less meat will curb the fat

Another way to reduce the amount of bacon grease ending up in the Chesapeake Bay and in our sewage systems is to consume fewer meat products derived from pigs ("Fat is bad for public arteries, too," June 3).

The same fat that clogs our pipes clogs our arteries.

One day, perhaps, there will be warnings on meat similar to those on cartons of cigarettes: "Caution: Consumption is hazardous to your health."

Carol Ann Varley, Baltimore

Campaign ignores bloated budget

Many thanks to Robert Scheer for his column "Wasteful weapons" (Commentary, June 3).

Mr. Scheer exposes an issue that has hardly registered on the radar screen in this election season.

As he notes, "Defense spending has become enshrined in our political system as a totem to be worshiped rather than a policy program to be critically examined."

Exposing the 9/11 attacks as the catalyst that shrouds and distorts the issue, Mr. Scheer rightly criticizes "a madcap spending spree on wars and weapons having little, if anything, to do with combating terrorism ... and everything to do with sustaining an enormously bloated defense industry threatened with extinction because of the demise of the communist enemy."

Something is terribly awry when issues of such import are not even mentioned in passing, let alone fully discussed, in our political campaign, and are completely subordinated to inane issues such as the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. controversy while candidates' sniping tit-for-tat attacks are put on center stage.

Dave Lefcourt, Ellicott City

McCain mimics Bush's policies

Douglas MacKinnon did his very best as a partisan of Sen. John McCain to spin the Republican's prospects for an electoral victory over Sen. Barack Obama in November. But he missed the mark ("Tying McCain to Bush," Commentary, June 2).

He argued that while President Bill Clinton's efforts in 1996 to tie Bob Dole to the unpopular Newt Gingrich were successful, the effort by Mr. Obama to link Mr. McCain to President Bush will fail.

I don't see why that should be the case.

In most major areas involving the economy and foreign policy, Mr. McCain is in lock step with the Bush administration, and a win for Mr. McCain would clearly represent, in effect, a third term for Mr. Bush.

Unfortunately for Mr. McCain, these policies are loathed by a majority of Americans. And the fact that Mr. Bush is helping Mr. McCain raise money only strengthens the link between them.

Mr. MacKinnon predicted that Americans will rally around Mr. McCain because of his valiant war service, which is lauded by voters of both parties.

But heroic military service does not always translate into a November victory. Just ask Sen. John Kerry and Mr. Dole.

Steve Charing, Clarksville

Obama's departure is 20 years too late

Sen. Barack Obama's decision to resign his membership in a radical church is too little, too late.

The fact that it took him more than 20 years as a church member to come to this conclusion is further evidence that he lacks the judgment to be our president and commander in chief.

Jerrold L. Brotman, Towson

Taking the threat from Iran seriously

The fact that columnist Steve Chapman was taken in by such rubbish as University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole's assertion that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reported call for the destruction of Israel is merely a mistake in translation really surprises me ("Mythmaking for the next war," Commentary, May 27).

I'm not a supporter of Sen. John McCain, and I am hopeful that the prospect of war with even such a belligerent state as Iran can be averted through a skillful combination of diplomacy and a convincing display of our intention not to let Iran start an atomic war.

But at least Mr. McCain takes seriously the Iranian threats we have regularly been hearing and reading about for the last several years.

They're not mythical, and to suggest, given both the proliferation and frequency of such threats, that they're merely a translator's error is to try to pull the wool over one's own eyes, and ours.

Jack Eisenberg, Baltimore

Pudgy veterans merit more respect

Poor Garrison Keillor, piqued by the "fat men with ponytails on Harleys" ("The disturbing roar of hollow patriotism," Commentary, May 28). Does he know or care that many of these fat guys are Vietnam veterans?

I was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Arlington, Va., recently, and I had a lovely time chatting with fellow Vietnam veterans - some fat, some skinny, a few with ponytails but all radiating the countenance of a shared experience that Mr. Keillor will never know.

Expressions of remembrance on Memorial Day take different forms.

If my name were on the Vietnam Memorial wall with those of my fallen comrades, I would prefer a celebration of life.

If that takes the form of thousands of roaring motorcycles interfering with Mr. Keillor's pedestrian ways, well, so be it. I think Mr. Keillor can endure that.

The Vietnam War was like that: different. The veterans: different. And the war just didn't quite fit into civilians' notion of war.

Civilians have a terrifically short memory. The veterans carry the experience with them every day of their lives.

So buck up, Mr. Keillor. And the next time you see a fat, ponytailed guy on a Harley, don't be so quick to judge.

Don Miller, Baltimore

Historic moment a chance for unity

Aside from a glitch here and there, the democratic process works.

It's time for all Americans to grasp the historic moment and unify our country, never forgetting that despite moments of adversity, this is the greatest country in the world - for all people who bleed the same color.

Joseph Ritch, Baltimore

Ducklings a break from war, mayhem

Thanks for the charming article "Ducking danger" (May 30) on the front page of Friday's Maryland section.

While the fate of a dozen ducklings might not seem very important in the overall scheme of things, this article was a lovely change from the usual mayhem and sadness we've come to expect in our news.

The ducklings are safe, and while the mother mallard looked a bit bewildered, she will surely soon have another clutch to care for.

Velva Grebe, Towson

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