Letters To The Editor


October 18, 2005

Outraged by lack of treatment slots

Alec MacGillis' article "Helping those on threshold" (Oct. 12) highlights the preposterous and ongoing failure of Baltimore's drug treatment efforts.

For decades we have heard that the biggest single cause of social decay and crime in the city is drug abuse.

We are told an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 drug addicts in the city are at the root of family disintegration, rampant crime, crowded prisons, failing schools, white flight, tax base erosion - you name it.

Yet when addicts finally decide to seek help, kick their habits and try to become functional citizens, they are told there are no slots for their treatment.

No slots?

What in God's name are our governing officials thinking that they can even dare to say those words?

How can a state as rich as Maryland, one of the wealthiest per capita in the country and the world, dare to say that it cannot find the funds to treat drug addicts who are both a plague on society and begging for help?

How can our state run a huge surplus - how can our city and counties find money for parks, recreation, libraries, festivals, parades and all manner of nonessential programs and services, yet claim it cannot find money for drug treatment for everyone who needs it?

What would it take to fund these additional needed "slots"? One-hundredth of 1 percent of the collective budgets our leaders oversee? And this is undoable?

It is perhaps forgivable to praise a program that has come up with $1 million for acupuncture, coffee chats and tai chi.

But where is Mr. MacGillis' outrage, and that of every citizen, that the city's most serious and corrosive problem remains ridiculously underfunded, year after year after decade?

Heads need to roll until this problem receives the attention it deserves as the most important issue of our times.

James W. O'Reilly


Harriet Miers merits much more respect

Let me start by saying that I don't know enough about Harriet Miers at this time to decide if I think she would be a good Supreme Court justice or not. That does not mean that I don't think she is qualified or that she is a poor choice, however.

And if I were Ms. Miers, I would be incredibly insulted by some of the criticism being launched at her. Look at some editorials or the comments from any number of special interest groups, and they portray Ms. Miers as an unqualified, mindless drone who is being nominated to be a pawn for the White House.

The attacks on her are no more than attacks against President Bush.

History has shown us that judicial experience is not a prerequisite for distinguished service on the Supreme Court.

Ms. Miers has had nothing short of an incredible, impressive legal career, and to attack her credentials is insulting; she deserves more respect than that ("Miers' intellect praised by Rice," Oct. 17).

I am eager for the Senate hearings to begin.

Ms. Miers might turn out to be a terrible nominee, but based on her accomplishments, I feel she deserves a chance before being written off as an unqualified, mindless drone.

Davis Maloy


Iraqis have record of their ballots

It is so ironic that the people of Iraq, who voted Saturday on their constitution, will be able to validate and investigate the results of the vote because they have paper ballots ("Arguments begin over count of Iraq vote," Oct. 17).

Here in Maryland, we can't do that because our individual votes disappear once they are punched into the machine.

In fact, it isn't ironic; it is completely outrageous.

Nancy Spies


Palestinian failures block path to peace

Bravo to The Sun for acknowledging a root cause of the lack of a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians - the Palestinian Authority's failure to stand up to terror groups such as Hamas that are wreaking havoc and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip ("A secure Gaza," editorial, Oct. 10).

Because these groups seek Israel's destruction rather than a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Israel cannot be expected to make further concessions until Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can control them.

Sheryl Silverman


Public diplomacy still dismal failure

It is heartening that Muslim leaders are taking the lead in the ideological battle against Islamic fundamentalists ("Islam's battle within itself," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 12). Yet Washington can only send culturally illiterate Karen P. Hughes into the fray ("Preaching U.S. supremacy won't help image abroad," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 9).

When, oh when, are we going to learn that you cannot "win hearts and minds" by emphasizing what is important to us?

What we need are spokesmen and women who understand other cultures and take their viewpoints into consideration instead of thrusting our points of view (especially on religion) down their throats.

As an ex-foreign service officer, I am appalled that we have sent this neophyte abroad.

The U.S. State Department once had a stable of Arabists. What happened to them?

Robert E. MacDonald


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