Reforming campaign finance needs mobilized voters

Regarding your May 17 editorial "Undone Campaign Finance Reform": The Monitor is wrong to deem the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) a success and incorrect to say that the soft-money race is on again due to inaction by the Federal Election Commission. The race was never off. The fact is, the McCain-Feingold law never banned soft money from flowing to nonparty organizations.

It was easy to predict that "fat cats" would use Section 527 of the IRS code to avoid the law. This is one of the main reasons the so-called reform was a sham. The other reason is that BCRA actually made things worse by doubling the hard-money limits on funds raised by candidates and parties - allowing Bush and Kerry to raise record amounts of money. Supporters of BCRA are now trying to wipe the egg off their faces by blaming the FEC for failing to fix some of the law's glaring flaws.

But we've known for years that the FEC is a toothless tiger. The lesson is clear. Rather than waiting for FEC bureaucrats or entrenched congressional incumbents to get big money out of politics, the rest of us need to mobilize to push for real reform.
Derek Cressman
Sacramento, Calif.

Weary of European doves

Regarding your May 14 article "Rise of an 'Iraq generation' in Europe?": Many of us here in the US share the disgust that Iraqi POWs were mishandled. I would like to remind readers, however, that a whole generation of Europeans should recall what took place in POW camps and gulags throughout Germany, Russia, and more recently in Bosnia. Millions of people died in Hitler's camps; millions died in Stalin's camps as well.

More than 159,700 American troops are in and near Iraq trying to help Iraqi citizens regain their freedom. A handful of troops, misguided or unguided, mistreated Iraqi detainees. That means the vast majority of American and coalition troops are doing their jobs and performing public service even when off duty. This needs to be said and restated, for I am one American who is growing weary of those in Europe - and the US - who have a lot to say but little to contribute.
Jim Harris
Angola, Ind.

Family involvement crucial to education

In your May 17 article "Better teaching is post-'Brown' frontier" I saw no mention of parents as part of the recipe for improving education for minorities. The emphasis was put on preschool and after-school programs, on more money, on better-trained teachers, and on more measuring of how schools perform.

As a public school teacher for 23 years, I witnessed daily the critical relation between student performance and home support. Make no mistake about it: Support at home translates into performance in school. If some accountability for responsibility is not placed on the family and some programs are not developed for improving this weak link in our educational system, then no amount of money, teacher training, programs, or measurements will make the least bit of difference.
Steve Warren
Austin, Texas

Healing war's victims

Regarding Earl Martin and Pat Hostetter Martin's May 17 Opinion piece "On Abu Ghraib and war itself: See through relativism of abuse": This commentary was beautifully written and really touched my heart, which has been shattered by the spiraling violence in Iraq. I hope we can learn that crucial lesson as we proceed into the 21st century, and I pray that someday soon, perpetrators and victims of violence can begin to heal.
Kristina Gronquist

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