Low farce confused with high crimes and...

Letters to the Editor

November 23, 1998

Low farce confused with high crimes and misdemeanors

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr stands exposed as a modern-day Inspector Javert. Like Victor Hugo's character from "Les Miserables," he seems to trumpet that "I am the law, and the law is not mocked."

But in his sugar-coated zealotry, Mr. Starr has lost all sense of proportion, seizing on low farce and confusing it with high crimes against the state. In doing so, he has squandered the people's money and the people's attention in his win-at-all-costs strategy.

He has reaped other costs as well. Not content with humiliating the president and shattering the domestic peace, he presses on. His handiwork has already paralyzed the Congress and emboldened our enemies abroad who see us as badly distracted.

The nation and its leaders urgently need to focus on containing the likes of Saddam Hussein overseas and a neglected social agenda at home.

That Mr. Starr has chosen politically to jump off the bridge may be fine for his concept as a show-no-mercy law enforcer. But why should he be allowed to take the Congress and the United States with him?

Stanley S. Herr

Baltimore

Capital punishment is sure to keep killers from public

In your editorial "State-sanctioned execution" (Nov. 17), you express your support for life without parole as opposed to the death penalty.

Many citizens support capital punishment because they don't trust the system to keep dangerous felons incarcerated.

When a "life" sentence doesn't mean life imprisonment, when a prisoner sentenced to a "life sentence without the possibility of parole" is allowed out on work release, when parole boards have the obligation to consider mass murderers such as Richard Speck and Charles Manson for release; when the courts feel an obligation to extend constitutional protections to even the most vicious and sociopathic prison inmates, people are legitimately concerned.

At least there have been no reported incidences of recidivism after execution.

If we eliminate capital punishment, let's bring back dungeons, in which the most vicious criminals could be permanently separated from all human society in a sterile and barren environment. Because the American Civil Liberties Union and its allies will never let that happen, we still need capital punishment. And although state-ordered executions should be extremely rare, I think the state should impose the death penalty in these sorts of cases:

As punishment for the most heinous crimes, such as mass murders, serial murders, brutal torture followed by murder. In such instances, when guilt is virtually certain and the crime so offensive, society requires a catharsis.

To punish certain terrorist acts. One reason would be to prevent other terrorists from using the freeing of an incarcerated comrade as a reason for further acts of terrorism.

Edwin S. Jordan

Ellicott City

Don't have to be intrepid to drive good state roads

It was disappointing that the Intrepid Commuter column ("Bumpy review for road policy," Nov. 9) gave so much credence to the report, "Potholes and Politics," recently released by the Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP).

The report was more politics than research, presenting an inaccurate picture of how the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) maintains highways.

The report was criticized across the nation for drawing conclusions based on a few select statistical categories of federal funding. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has criticized it as misleading.

Next to safety, SHA's priority is keeping existing highways in excellent condition. SHA will spend 63 percent of its upcoming six-year capital budget on resurfacing and rehabilitating the 16,250 lane miles of state highways and bridges.

The column depicted representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation as overly defensive, missing the real story that a special interest group was issuing bogus information to mislead the public.

Anyone can appreciate Maryland's world-class system by getting into a vehicle and driving on the highways and then driving through a nearby state.

As someone who regularly covers transportation, the Intrepid Reporter should know first-hand the premier highway system we enjoy in Maryland.

Parker W. Williams

Baltimore

The writer is administrator of the Maryland State Highway Administration.

'Amazing' Kapustin photo puts reader in spin cycle

Doug Kapustin's picture of the window washer Nov. 14 was amazing. I didn't know I suffered from vertigo until I stared at it. Most certainly, Alfred Hitchcock would have paid big bucks for Mr. Kapustin to be on his film crew.

Fran Bloksberg-Fireovid

Towson I am deeply distressed that an increase in the gasoline tax is being considered. It is inflationary and will further exacerbate an already bad image of Maryland as a "tax hell." Instead of seeking additional funds, perhaps officials should review expenditures and implement methods to improve productivity and efficiency.

Douglas R. McClean

Pasadena

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