Freeing a would-be assassin
Despite the information given in the editorial “Maryland’s system of ‘justice’ ” (Sept. 2), the case of Arthur Bremer, complex as it may be, really comes down to two things: Bremer has not been paroled, and he is not being released “early” because of some policy enacted by the Maryland Division of Correction or any other state public safety agency.
Bremer is leaving prison this year because, by law, inmates are allowed to earn credits for various reasons while they are incarcerated. Those credits, granted not by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, but by state legislators, must be subtracted from the total length of the sentence. That’s why Bremer is leaving prison after 35 years instead of 53.
The Maryland Parole Commission has not paroled Bremer. In fact, the commission denied him parole more than 10 years ago. The commission cannot override the fact that by law, Bremer must get out of prison because he has served his time, with credits subtracted.
The issue of Bremer’s mental health treatment is equally confusing to some. Here again, the fact remains that no one in the state correctional system can order Bremer to receive mental health treatment. The fact is that Bremer was not found to be criminally insane when he was convicted of his crime.
People also should know that once free, Bremer will be required to report regularly to a State Parole and Probation agent wherever he ends up living. This supervision in his community will continue for the entire duration of his original term. In other words, Bremer will be under parole and probation supervision until 2025 — the date his 53-year sentence would have expired had he been forced to serve the entire sentence behind bars.
One is free to question the system of credits or the fact that certain inmates don’t serve their entire sentences, but criticizing the Parole Commission or anyone within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for Arthur Bremer’s release is wrong and based not on fact. The fact is that, by law, Bremer has to get out.
DAVID R. BLUMBERG
Maryland Parole Commission
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Watch out, Republicans
Some Republicans are speaking of appealing to their base by attempting to sustain a veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and deriding a march to socialized medicine (“House fails to veto-proof SCHIP expansion,” Nation, Wednesday). These Republicans are oblivious to the fact that the paradigm has shifted since 1980, which is why the base is shrinking. The Republican Party ignored the growing health-care morass when in power, and costs are swamping the gross domestic product.
Republicans will have to have a nominee who departs radically from the party line to gain any credibility with the electorate, as Republicans are perceived as being beholden to health-care special interests at the expense of the middle class. Opposition to health-care reform is not just about spending principles.
William R. Brody, Johns Hopkins University president, says: “Hopkins must bill over 700 different insurers; each one has its own set of rules regarding what services are covered, the level of reimbursement and what documentation and preapproval is required.” This makes voters think of the recent subprime mortgage industry: lots of short-term profit at the expense of the general public. There is not much assurance that when you really need care it will not be denied.
The Republican Party is in danger of losing its way because of the failure to grasp that the best health-care programs in the world, like Australia’s for instance, are a mix of public and private funding.
Lack of vision on health care, on top of everything else, has the potential to send all those would-be Reagan Democrats won over from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s policies back for a generation. If the present course of the Republican candidates proceeds, there is a very real chance of a Democratic White House with a filibuster-proof Senate. Imagine that.
Ellicott City, Md.
Energy cupboard isn’t bare
Carl Henn’s all-too-frequent missives proclaiming “the end of oil” (“A world without cars,” Letters, Saturday) remind me of Old Mother Hubbard, who, upon finding the cupboard bare, wrongly concludes that her poor dog must therefore starve. She could replenish the pantry or, failing that, feed Fido something else, but she elects to do nothing.
So it is with Mr. Henn even though plenty of oil (and other fuels) is available to us. More than 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside oil shale deposits on federal lands in Colorado and Utah as part of the Naval Petroleum Reserve. The Department of Energy estimates that those deposits contain upward of 2 trillion barrels of oil.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska contains an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil, and the Outer Continental Shelf where Cuba and China are preparing to drill is estimated to contain nearly four times as much oil as is available in our domestic reserves.
In addition, staggering amounts of natural gas are available in hydrate deposits right off our shores, not to mention that America has the largest known coal deposits in the world. If converted to oil, these could be producing nearly 2 million barrels per day by 2030.
Although in the long run we must use our available energy resources wisely while we develop new sources, there is no reason to starve for energy in the short run. No bones about it.
Solving Danish problems
Speaking of the “complicated terrain of the Danish immigration debate,” Helle Dale’s Wednesday Op-Ed column, “Taking on the Islamists,” concluded that “there is some irony in this, for Danes are notoriously uncomfortable with the articulation of big ideas, thoughts or emotions.”
This brought to mind Soren Kierkegaard, Denmark’s great 19th-century existentialist philosopher. No stranger to irony (see his “Concept of Irony”), Kierkegaard both agrees and disagrees with Mrs. Dale’s thesis in the following excerpt from “Two Ages” (1846):
“Ours is an age of anticipation; even appreciative acknowledgment is accepted in advance. Just like a young man who, having resolved to study earnestly for his exams after September 1, fortifies himself for it by taking a vacation in the month of August, so the present generation and this is much more difficult to understand seems to have determined in earnest that the next generation must attend to the work in earnest, and in order not to frustrate or deter them in any way, the present generation attends banquets. But there is a difference: the young man understands that his enterprises are rash and reckless; the present age is sober and serious even at banquets.”
It appears that Kierkegaard would agree when Mrs. Dale says, “Danes are notoriously uncomfortable with the articulation of big ideas, thoughts or emotions.” However, whereas Mrs. Dale anticipates “some hope for the future in the kind of debate that is uneasily emerging in the Danish media,” Kierkegaard would see the “anticipation” of such a debate as inhibiting a solution to the problem.
GREGORY L. LEWIS