April 15, 2009

Wrong time to cut our military muscle

If President Barack Obama ever tries to dismantle America's nuclear arsenal in the way that he suggested he might when he was in Europe, then he is the most dangerous fool this nation has ever put in the White House ("A winning defense," editorial, April 8).

In the midst of a terrible world war waged against us by the world's Islamic radicals and their allies, our country can't afford to reduce the strength of our military by so much as a single bullet, let alone cut any nuclear weapons.

America's military strength threatens no free man or nation; our military strength is a threat to tyrants all over the world - just as it should be.

Mr. Obama's proposed cuts to our military's strength betray his fundamental unwillingness to defend America and make him a grave menace to the nation he has sworn to defend.

Kurt A. Snavely, Hershey, Pa.

Gathering data isn't 'intelligence'

It's characteristic of innumerable governmental/military fabrications to label information-gathering and its products "intelligence" ("A winning defense," April 8).

But intelligence is a human capacity, not a mass of data. Certainly intelligence is much needed to decide what data to seek and to analyze data obtained. But to assert - as many do - that (for example) interrogators at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or in Iraq or Afghanistan are "getting intel" from prisoners is the kind of nonsense that fosters highly dubious policies and actions, then similarly dubious rationalizations about what is being done.

It would be refreshing if U.S. data-collecting agencies did use more intelligence than the CIA did in lending data to the destructive invasion of Iraq.

Labeling their task accurately would be a useful step in that direction.

Joe Morton, Towson

Phelps isn't ideal as model for kids

Watching Maryland legislators give Michael Phelps a standing ovation offered the worst kind of role model to kids as well as adults ("Phelps makes a splash at the State House," April 10).

Mr. Phelps has accomplished things very few people can do in swimming, but his personal life fails to make it on the podium.

To invite a known drunken driver and pot smoker to our State House to honor his accomplishments does not promote good ethics for our kids or society.

With the economy as bad as it is, our legislators could have found better issues to review or brought better role models to the State House.

William C. Gereny, Westminster

Private financing corrupts politics

In his letter "End of financing bill keeps elections free" (March 30), the president of the Center for Competitive Politics suggests that creating an optional system of public campaign finance for candidates in Maryland alongside the current system would amount to "government controlling the playing field."

In fact, the current system often creates the clear impression that private interests control Annapolis policymaking.

A University of Maryland poll found 67 percent of Marylanders believe that campaign contributions exert "a great deal of influence" on policies made by the state government and 75 percent believe fundraising "is a major source of corruption."

As the same Wall Street bankers who showered Congress with contributions stuff their pockets with taxpayer dollars, it is disappointing that lawmakers in Annapolis failed this session to enact voluntary public funding of campaigns.

But Progressive Maryland and its allies will continue to push this long-overdue reform, and next year we will make it an election issue. And we will prevail.

Matthew Weinstein, Baltimore

The writer is the Baltimore region director for Progressive Maryland.

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