Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

November 18, 2006

Nonpartisanship improves governing

Now that the election has been decided, everyone's talking about the need for bipartisanship ("Partisan jockeying begins," Nov. 10). This is wrong.

Partisanship in this context means loyalty to a political party. Political parties are a medium for running an election, for narrowing the field of those seeking offices to a manageable number and for getting out information about those candidates. Political parties are not part of the legislative or governing process.

So what we need is not bipartisanship but nonpartisanship. Our elected officials need to be free to judge each issue on its own merits and according to their individual understanding of those merits. They shouldn't be concerned about being viewed as traitors to their parties for not keeping to the party line.

And I would humbly suggest that the media remember that "Republican" and "Democrat" are not part of the names of our legislators. That in itself would go a long way toward nonpartisanship.

Matilda Weiner

Baltimore

Democrats guided by common sense

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro apparently learned nothing on Election Day ("Will Democrats back war effort?" Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 12). He devotes much of his article to slandering Democrats who criticize the war in Iraq as anti-American and unpatriotic. He is out of touch with millions of Americans who want the nation to be guided by common sense, not by hysteria and slogans.

We think "staying the course" in Iraq is bad for America, and we say so because we hate to see our country going down the wrong path. Most Americans understand this isn't unpatriotic.

It makes sense to Democrats to resume going after the real terrorist threat in Afghanistan and western Pakistan (those who attacked us and want to do so again) and secure our ports against the delivery of rogue weapons, an idea Republicans rejected as "too expensive." And it makes sense to get re-involved in brokering a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

If Republicans come to the table with attitudes such as Mr. Shapiro's, there is clearly no hope for bipartisan progress.

Scott Norris

Baltimore

Paradigm shift evident in election

When former House Speaker Tip O'Neill said that "all politics is local," he was not thinking of a country led by its president into a war started under false pretenses that has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

On Nov. 7, the catastrophic course of this war trumped all other considerations in the minds of the electorate. On that day, in what amounted to a paradigm shift, all politics became national.

The real genius behind our way of government - and what made this shift possible - is the balance of power distributed among its branches, coupled with the time limits imposed on each elected officeholder. Within certain parameters, the damage any president and his entourage can inflict on the citizens of this country is ultimately limited, though sometimes, as with the Iraq war, not quickly enough.

With so much spilled blood and so many dollars spent on a war that many people now feel has made this country more vulnerable to terrorists, it is time for citizens and elected officials to ask if the actions of President Bush and his war counselors meet the criteria for war crimes. Our besmirched democratic country cannot authentically go forward under its constitutional imperative until an assessment is made of the morality and legality of what they have done to Iraq and to America.

Rene J. Muller

Baltimore

Special-ed pupils suffer under law

Marcy Myers wrote an excellent, succinct commentary about the horrendous plight of special-education teachers and their students because of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law ("The wrong yardstick for special-ed students," Nov. 13). The sad reality is that she does not have the time to fight this craziness more effectively than just writing about it. Nor should she have to spend her precious instruction time doing so.

I'd like to know why special-education supervisors and the heads of special-education departments throughout our state and nation are not standing up more effectively. For that matter, why aren't the heads of all school systems rejecting many of the absurd NCLB expectations created for all students in our state and country?

This poorly thought-out legislation that was rushed through Congress doesn't affect only special-eduation students and teachers; it also affects regular-education classroom students and teachers, who now resemble robots teaching robots.

Never mind that the teacher - using her professional assessment skills - determines that the child needs help with a particular skill. The teacher must stay on task teaching to the almighty test so that her school can meet annual yearly progress goals to get the federal money.

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