Letters To The Editor


September 21, 2005

Federalism is no defense for failure to handle Katrina

I'm somewhat mystified by Evan P. Schultz's labeling of the Commerce Clause and the 10th and 11th Amendments of the Constitution as "archaic" ("Blame the Constitution," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 15).

If the last part of the Bill of Rights and an amendment passed after it are "archaic," what are we to make of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments?

If the Commerce Clause is "archaic," what is to be done about the rest of Article I, Section 8, which lays out the powers of Congress?

Is the federal authority to issue currency "archaic"?

The problem is not the Constitution. The problem is the way in which ideologues promote federalism when it suits them (for instance, as a poor excuse for inaction in New Orleans) then promptly drop it when it doesn't (on the right to die, medical cannabis clubs, gay marriage - the list is lengthy).

Federalism is no excuse for the mess in New Orleans, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff should be strongly castigated for attempting to use it as one.

The city's vulnerability to flooding was, to a large degree, the result of federal actions taken to promote interstate commerce and keep the Mississippi River navigable, and there's plenty of historical precedent for understanding disaster relief as part of the federal government's constitutional mission to provide for the common defense.

But federalism is not a right-wing idea; progressives such as those in the Green Party are pushing for more local control and a "bottom up" approach to government that is exactly consistent with the vision laid out in the Constitution.

Maybe we ought to give it a try.

Tom Swiss, Catonsville

President puts priorities in order

The Sun's editorial "He still doesn't get it" (Sept. 16) makes one wonder: Does The Sun get it?

President Bush's proposal from Jackson Square in New Orleans offers a plan with steps and priorities.

First, it takes care of the immediate human needs. It gets the various utilities operating in the affected areas. It rebuilds the devastated areas.

Along with these immediate priorities, the plan also offers enterprise zones, job training and home ownership, along with other plans aimed to help the poor.

The Sun states that this is not enough: The president's plan should have a "grander vision."

A grander vision? The Sun's purportedly grander vision is just another way to diminish the president's plan.

The president's plan does not harm the poor and does not require a grander vision.

It is time for The Sun to get off the phony "grander vision" ploy and recognize that steps to improve the region are needed now, not steps to change the entire country.

Richard Johnson

Shrewsbury, Pa.

Storm underscores plight of the poor

Thank you for the editorial "He still doesn't get it" (Sept. 16). I agree that what is needed, beyond relief and rebuilding, is a reordering of our national priorities.

One of the most poignant comments I heard in the days of crisis in New Orleans was: "When a culture ignores its `others,' the others ignore the norms of the culture."

What empathy is the president showing to a devastated population and a devastated city when he signs an executive order exempting reconstruction contractors from paying prevailing wages to the tradespeople they hire? Is this how we approach economic justice and ending poverty?

Does it make sense to any of us that when 500,000 homes have been destroyed, we are talking about tax breaks for the top 1 percent of our citizens and reductions in food stamps, Medicaid, earned income tax credits and other safety net programs for other citizens?

Those of us in Baltimore should take special note of the depths of poverty and despair in New Orleans - our poverty level is equally severe.

Ruth Crystal


Natural selection itself is the problem

When I read that 38 Nobel laureates were rejecting questions about evolution, I was hoping to see some rational arguments to support this position ("Nobel laureates reject questions about evolution," Sept. 17).

Instead, I saw the usual bogus attacks on intelligent design indicating that there are "efforts by the proponents of so-called intelligent design to politicize scientific inquiry."

When are the evolutionists going to understand that the problem has nothing to do with "intelligent design"?

The problem is that evolution has always been suspect when its proponents claim that animals (including humans) were created by the very slow process based on natural variation within animals and its effect on the proliferation of species.

Jim Kniss


Roberts' love of law just isn't enough

Judge John G. Roberts Jr. is said to love the law. But loving the law without loving the American people enough to protect their individual rights and freedoms will make our American community weaker ("Roberts tries to reassure worried Senate Democrats," Sept. 16).

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