Thursday, March 6, 2003

Readers' Views

Disappointed, not surprised at Xavier

I am a graduate of Our Lady of Cincinnati College (Edgecliff), a college that was absorbed into Xavier University. I have a deep interest in Xavier and its integrity.

Over the years, there have been many incidents at Xavier that seem to contradict what should be the mission of a Catholic college, which is to provide a good education in the finest Catholic tradition. I received some reassurance about Xavier when I heard about the cancellation of a satellite-transmitted speech by Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. This positive note in upholding the integrity of Xavier University encouraged me. Xavier would not allow a notorious bigot and his venom to receive airing at this Catholic college. Since Xavier has become such a strong promoter of diversity and tolerance, it would hardly be appropriate to have Farrakhan as a featured speaker.

Well, wasn't I surprised when I read XU President Mike Graham's guest column in the Enquirer (Feb. 2) that he now may have some doubts about that decision.

No, on second thought, given the recent lack of clear direction at Xavier, I am extremely disappointed, but not surprised.

Mary Kay Feighery, Montgomery

It's past time to solve trade deficits

Why does the United States set a record trade deficit month after month?

I'm a simple 73-year-old retiree and I have been told as far back as George H.W. Bush in the early '90s and again by Bill Clinton with NAFTA in 1994, that our trade problems would be solved.

The biggest results I see as is that business after business is moving to Mexico or cutting back and moving their manufacturing to overseas.

Enough years have passed to be solving our trade deficits if the agreements work.

Merle Helms, Brookville, Ind.

Phil Burress is the West Chester nuisance

I need to alert our community to a recently emerged public nuisance in West Chester Township. This nuisance attacks the owners and patrons of numerous area clubs and hotels solely because it happens to find them obscene.

Excuse me, Phil Burress, but this country thrives on tolerance and free expression. As president of Citizens for Community Values, I'd think you would agree that all American citizens value the First Amendment. Just because the Illusions Night Club happens to permit lawful shows that Burress happens to disagree with, why must he try to shut it down? May I suggest a civil conversation with the club's owner(s) first?

Jonathan Kuehnle, Clifton

Changing autism definition won't help

As the mother of a young child with autism, I appreciated seeing this serious neurological disorder highlighted on the Enquirer's front page March 3, until I read the last part of the headline: "Caseload growing quickly: definition could be the reason."

There are many competing theories for the recent increase in autism diagnoses, but since the release last fall of the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California at Davis epidemiological study of autism in California, we know it is most definitely not because of the changes that have been made in the diagnostic criteria (see mindinstitute.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu). This landmark study looked only at children with full-spectrum, profound autism. Its key findings? There has been a real increase in the incidence in California and this increase cannot be explained by a loosening in the criteria used to make the diagnosis, or by greater awareness of autism, or by families immigrating to California for services, or by misclassifications of children with mental retardation or by other statistical issues. In 1987, the state's Department of Developmental Services reported 2,778 cases of full spectrum autism. By 1998, that number had increased 273 percent to 10,360 cases.

Though there is no similar epidemiological study for Ohio, the anecdotal evidence we have suggests our rates are also rising quickly. The headline and the first paragraphs of the story seem to imply that if we would just change the definition of autism back to what it was some years ago, before we understood as much about the disorder, this epidemic would simply disappear. If only it were that easy.

Barbara Schwarz Neman, Blue Ash

`Under God' not in the original pledge

I was relieved to read that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional because of the words "under God."

The original pledge did not contain those two words. Congress tacked them on in 1954. If that isn't government's endorsement of religion, I don't know what is.

Attorney General John Ashcroft claims the Justice Department will spare no effort to "Preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag." What does that mean? No one is being prevented from saying the pledge. Just don't do it in public schools. Whose rights are being trampled? Those whose belief systems preclude the Christian God (and we all know that's one the Pledge refers to) have the right not to be subjected to such government sanctioned religious indoctrination.

If you want to keep the Pledge of Allegiance in the public schools, then go back to the original pledge and take the words "under God" out of it.

Scott Cruse, Covington

Nursing home execs need salary cuts

The recent news concerning Ohio's fiscal woes and Gov. Taft's delineation of them, as well as his proposals for correcting them, have received extensive coverage by the Enquirer. One planned action is to freeze Medicaid at its current levels, including nursing home coverage.

Naturally, the Ohio Health Care Association opposes this cut. Recent data show Ohio's expenditure for Medicaid in nursing homes alone is at a record $1.25 billion dollars per annum. What needs cutting are the fat salaries and perks enjoyed by the owners and administrators of nursing homes. It would be interesting indeed if an AP story issued about 15 years ago were to be updated. That piece indicated that most Medicaid nursing home administrators were being paid $100,000 or more per year. That's still not bad; in fact, it is phenomenal.

The ones who really need the help are the frail and often elderly consigned to these facilities. Care is too often minimal. There are no amenities. The individual has been stripped of his or her assets in order to qualify. There is nothing left. If the person is not the owner of one of the newer and affordable long-term care policies, Medicaid is all there is.

When will we start treating problems and not symptoms?

Jerald D. Richmond, Westwood

Bush administration engaging in deception

In a March 1 letter, (Challenge those who tell `big lie'), the writer equates Howard Dean's characterization of the Bush administration's impending attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq as "unilateral" to the "big lies" of Lenin and Hitler.

I wonder the writer has considered the following deceptions and distortions preferred by the Bush administration for public consumption:

• Colin Powell's United Nations display of "sites of mass destruction production," which Hans Blix stated his inspectors had previously visited in earlier inspections, and which were closed down and inactive.

• The claim that Iraq intended the use of aluminum tubes for making nuclear bombs, which were analyzed and found to be unsuitable for nuclear processing.

• A link between al Qaida and Iraq, which was refuted by the FBI and CIA, as well as Osama bin Laden's stated contempt for Saddam on his latest tape.

Given that these are only a few examples of the administration's rationales for war against on Iraq, I would ask: With whom are we to equate these "big lies?"

Ronald Schwartz, Sharonville

U.S. shouldn't be seen as warmonger

I wasn't sure why we were in Korea in the '50s, but as a young American teen, I thought, "It must be right."

I was quite sure we shouldn't be in Vietnam, but didn't protest too loudly, as I was listening to those who said to do so would only play into the hands of the enemy. I was certain the Gulf War was more about oil than freeing the vanquished.

And now, America has an administration that was elected by a technicality rather than a majority, and without listening to its constituents (or much of the rest of the world), is dedicated to making war.

In the relatively short period of time, the United States has gone from having the support of countries around the world to being looked upon as warmongers.

Foster Winter, Mount Lookout

Police, witness make difference in hit-run

Last year, my car was hit and totaled by a hit-and-run driver in the area of Xavier University. Tom Kelly, a driver who witnessed the event, followed the hit-and-run driver. He was able to observe this individual cross the line several times while driving away from the scene of the accident, and when the driver stopped to see if there was damage to his own car, Kelly was able to take down the number of his license plate.

At the time my car was hit, the Xavier University security officers called the city police department. Within a few minutes, Officer Tanya Cook appeared and calmly took charge, getting the facts of the accident. After the accident, Officer Kevin Osuna helped coordinate many details for our court appearances, along with Sgt. Bill Coombs and Officer Jon Kalusek. In all my dealings with the police department, the court system, and the attorney from the public defender's office who politely took down the facts of the case, I have been impressed at how well everyone worked together and the constant courtesy that I was shown.

Margery Burns, Clifton

Who cares what paralyzed man drove?

Regarding the article "SUV owner pleads guilty" (March 4) why does the type of vehicle even make the news? Did the SUV suddenly take control and drive through a crowd of people? No, Darrin Stafford, confined to a wheelchair, having no business being behind the wheel of any vehicle, killed someone.

If he had been driving a Volkswagen Beetle would it have made the death less horrific? How about an 18-wheeler? Does it matter? A paralyzed guy is driving. How the court decided that a 15 year-old kid's life is exchangeable for 23 years of Stafford's is beyond me. I wouldn't have been so generous.

Jeff Clark, Maineville

Ohio highway spending: Correct inequities
Trading favors: Kentucky deserves better
Car seats: Keep instructions simple

Readers' Views