Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 25, 2004

`Saying no' isn't an option for combat soldiers

I agree with The Sun's assertion that "soldiers at war can't pick and choose which orders they'll follow" ("Saying no," editorial, Oct. 19). However, there should be no "serious and potentially mitigating factors." In the military, you obey all lawful orders, period. The military is not a democracy in which individuals and units get to decide which orders to follow.

I agree that there are serious issues with respect to this war. Long deployments of Guard and Reserve units, equipment deficiencies and inadequate training will have to be dealt with if our military is to remain effective in the long run. But this does not excuse troops from following lawful orders under any circumstances.

And the disrespect shown to our armed forces in the statement "and the usual problem of boneheaded officers" does not belong in any editorial.

Whether you agree or disagree with the war, these men and women are putting their lives on the line for us every day, and they deserve better.

Gene C. Parker Jr.

Reisterstown

The Sun's editorial "Saying no" (Oct. 19) raises some valid concerns about strategic planning and the equipping of U.S. soldiers currently in combat. All other major U.S. newspaper editorials on the subject of the 343rd Quartermaster Company that I have seen raise similar valid concerns.

However, The Sun's position differs from all others I have seen in one glaring way: It chose to question the competence and integrity of the entire U.S. Army officer corps.

The Sun's stated position that the "usual problem of `boneheaded' officers'" may be partially to blame for this controversy leads me to conclude that The Sun believes incompetence and a measure of stupidity are norms of behavior for the U.S. Army officer corps, rather than an exception.

I have indeed met some fellow officers over the last 16 years that I have served in the Army who I would agree are "boneheads." I will likely meet more in the future. However, they are not at all the norm.

I have also served with officers who are among the most brave and brilliant individuals this country can produce.

Their competence is most often underscored by their humility. They are the epitome of a profession grounded in the best values of our country and a code of moral behavior.

Maj. Gary C. Tallman

Woodbridge, Va.

Land deal insults state taxpayers

Land preservation and the environment concern Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. when they further his slots agenda, but apparently not when selling, at cost, to a political donor an 836-acre undeveloped woodland tax shelter ("Ehrlich OK'd deal for land," Oct. 20).

Selling this land, at cost, during a real estate boom, with no written guarantee it will be preserved - in the face of a budget shortfall and our dying bay - is an insult to Maryland taxpayers.

While I'm not an ecologist, I'd venture that a survey of the 836 acres in question may show a higher level of biodiversity than a survey of an 800-acre horse farm. And one doesn't need to be an accountant to see potential problems with selling the land without a current appraisal of its value.

Wendy Olsson

Baltimore

Social Security fails to meet rising costs

While The Sun's article "Social Security benefits set to increase 2.7% in January" (Oct. 20) headlines the cost-of-living increase for seniors, it also notes that the sum deducted for Part B of Medicare will increase by 17 percent.

What I saw was that in the first year of the Bush administration's Medicare reform, the cost of medical coverage will rise six times faster than the cost-of-living increase.

Looking ahead, any senior who is a Medicare subscriber and votes to give the Bush administration four more years does so at his or her own peril.

Herman M. Heyn

Baltimore

Seniors contribute to workplace, too

As The Sun's article "Older workers seek security" (Oct. 15) points out, many senior citizens gain a lot from returning to the labor force after retirement. Work can help them meet key financial, emotional and social needs.

I would emphasize, however, that those workers also will increasingly give something vital back as our traditional labor force continues to shrink over the next decade.

The recruitment and retention of older workers can help mitigate that projected shortage of manpower. Their growing participation in the job market should become a heavily traveled two-way street for seniors and employers.

Bob Cullen

Baltimore

Disloyal reporter earned his ouster

By running a lengthy front-page article on Tuesday ("Sinclair fires D.C. chief who spoke out," Oct. 19) followed by an even longer feature article on Wednesday ("Speaking Out," Oct. 20), The Sun made a cause cM-ilM-hbre of the firing of Jon Leiberman by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Mr. Leiberman publicly criticized and condemned his employer and its policies, describing their news coverage as "biased" and "not holding up the public trust."

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