Saturday Mailbox


October 09, 2004

It's scandalous to suggest Bush will revive draft

Completely irresponsible. That is the only way I can describe The Sun's fearmongering editorial cartoon of Oct. 4, which scandalously implied that the Bush administration is considering a military draft if it wins another term.

Conscription is neither warranted nor desired by anyone involved with the military.

The active services met (and, in the case of the Marine Corps and Air Force, exceeded) their enlistment goals for the last fiscal year. Re-enlistments are up and, more important, so is the quality of the force.

For whatever reasons, which may include patriotism, adventure, job training and college funding, this generation of young Americans has responded wholeheartedly to the attacks of 9/11 and the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and elsewhere in which we fight the global war on terrorism.

That is the real story worth encapsulating in a political cartoon.

As an active service member with just under 20 years in uniform, I am proud to say that the quality of our adequately manned force remains strong. Indeed, I marvel at these young men and women's commitment and competence.

As someone who joined the service in the wake of the last draft, I can say comfortably that we do not want forced conscripts. The quality of today's troops is higher in large part because they are volunteers.

Today's troops learn better, try harder, fight more effectively and become stronger leaders.

A main component of that success is our volunteer structure and the incentive system we have that retains many young soldiers for future leadership roles.

Jeff Hartman

Severna Park

Welfare state causes family breakdown

The final line of Michael Olesker's column "Broken homes, broken system and broken kids" (Oct. 1) said it all: "And nobody in government, after so many promises, offers a hand."

In typical liberal fashion, Mr. Olesker has the audacity to pass the buck and blame Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for not sponsoring more spending programs instead of pinning the blame for broken homes squarely where it belongs: on the parents themselves, and on the liberal government programs of the last 40 years.

With the onset of the social welfare programs of the so-called Great Society, and the War on Poverty (which we have surely lost) in the mid-1960s, the United States government has only itself to blame for such social problems.

By adopting laws that drove men out of the lives of women and children by forbidding males to be present in a household if women were to receive a government assistance check, the system rendered many fathers unnecessary for the financial upkeep of a family, thereby depriving many children of the presence and guiding discipline a male authority figure brings a family.

By subsidizing the births of children out of wedlock by giving more and more public assistance to women who conceive and give birth to more and more "fatherless" children, the government has encouraged the family and court systems to become as impotent as they are in America today.

So to Mr. Olesker I say: Get your head out of the 1960s and take a look around at what your liberal, social welfare experiment has cost America both in money and in the basic fabric of society, and let's call it what it is -- a failure.

John Reynolds


Possible misconduct doesn't taint all cases

The most eloquent prison tattoo I have ever seen read "Bodymore, Murderland." Reporter Allison Klein's article "Probe puts city cases in jeopardy" (Oct. 4) helps to explain its concise poetry.

Baltimore police Detectives Clarence Grear and Kevin E. Jones may have made a good-faith mistake in their application for a search warrant.

But let's assume they consciously and deliberately lied. Why, even so, should that ruin every other investigation in which they've developed evidence?

Occasionally a person with a long criminal record is accused of a crime he or she did not commit. While his or her prior convictions can be used to impeach his or her credibility, they do not destroy it.

A finder of fact, whether a jury or a judge, is capable of making up its own mind about whether the defendant is telling the truth in the new case under consideration.

Thus there is no clear reason why every case requiring the testimony of these detectives must now be thrown out. Their credibility may be impeachable in one case and quite defensible in another.

If Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy isn't smart or gutsy enough to prosecute a good case with good evidence just because a cop made a mistake in an unrelated case, she should step aside.

Hal Riedl


The writer is a former employee of Maryland's Division of Corrections.

Improving transit will add residents

Robert T. Dunphy was absolutely on target about the need to connect urban renewal to better transit -- yet he completely overlooks a large part of the problem ("Connect renewal to transit," Opinion

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