The Star-Mangled Banner
Editor: Now that the baseball season has started, foes of our national anthem will resumed their bombardment against it.
The fact is, however, that the only thing bad about ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' is the singers or musical groups who mutilate it with their own interpretations.
A fine example is the recording used at the Laurel and Pimlico Race Tracks. This rendition is so dragged out that it resembles a dirge or requiem.
There are countless excellent recordings of the anthem. It shouldn't take a musical scholar to select one.
W. K. Lester.
Editor: Harris Factor's letter, April 17, rambles on against Representative Helen Bentley and displays ignorance of some facts.
When Mrs. Bentley was smashing a Toshiba radio with a sledge hammer, she was calling the public's attention to the fact that Toshiba had given some of our top secret defense technology to the Soviet Union.
She has continuously objected to our government's handing over to the Japanese technology that was developed at U.S. taxpayers' expense and used by the Japanese against our economy and defense.
Mr. Factor stated that Mrs. Bentley is ''saying and doing whatever will 'play' in her district.'' As a member of Congress she is supposed to represent her constituents and I, as one of them, hope she will continue to do so.
Representative Bentley was criticized for wanting someone to bump Saddam Hussein off. Why not? He is an enemy commander and his being out of the picture would obviously save many lives, mostly Iraqi ones.
Joseph W. Doughney.
Poor in America
Editor: In response to the observations about poor people in Chris Ferro's April 22 letter, ''Capitalist Nature,'' I offer the following clarifications:
Poor people do not make themselves poor. Census data reveal that most poor people are rural white children, the working poor, elderly black women and disabled persons. These Americans did not choose either the capitalist system or their place in it.
To deny them medical care because of a notion that they made themselves poor would be to deny our constitutional imperative, defy our religious heritage and decry our claim to be a humanitarian nation.
Most poor people in this country did not get that way by dropping out of school, spending all their money on instant gratification or having kids that they can't afford. Many have few educational or training opportunities, work hard for the little money they earn, make do on meager Social Security and have few options about instant versus deferred gratification.
With the rising cost of everything, growing unemployment and underemployment and the disappearance of entire crafts, jobs and industries from technological change, poor families more than ever live and die on a tightrope of survival with little or no medical insurance.
Medical care is a right, not a special privilege. It can be cost-effective. Presently, for every dime we niggardly save on preventive health we spend thousands on niggardly social support systems that perpetuate themselves.
To her shame, America, as rich as we are, is the only First World country that makes no provision for the medical care of its neediest. Our infant mortality ranks among those of developing nations. Our treatment of the mentally ill is a national disgrace on our city streets. The mistreatment of our aging parents, many of whom choose suicide over their medical care options, is a dismal reflection of our capitalist greed.
It is true that in nature an animal too weak or stupid to survive dies. Hopefully policy-makers deciding who shall live or die in America have compassion on children, the elderly, the disabled and, yes, even the retarded or ''stupid'' free-loaders from mental institutions.
Hopefully they remember that ''weeding out people'' is dangerous business. Who chooses? A master race? I thank God that the Constitution protects the weak or stupid, helpless children, the elderly, disabled and the growing numbers of homeless poor on city streets.
The capitalist system is flawed. Let's fix it.
Grady Dale, Jr.
Rinse a Can
Editor: Nobody is asking me to recycle. Born of a desire to help to preserve the environment and stabilize the ecology, it is no great problem to rinse a can as soon as it is empty and leave it in the dish rack to drip dry.
Bottles with glued lables that require soaking are, I admit, an irritation, but one I take in stride. Visits to the recycling center are simply scheduled to coincide with a trip to the hardware store . . .
However, we recently received a grim announcement -- the MTA parking lot recycling center at Northern Parkway and Wabash Avenue was being closed without any prior notice.