- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 1999


I very much liked the Op-Ed column on the efforts of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to manufacture lawsuits by public housing authorities against gun manufacturers ("HUD misfires," Dec. 16). The most astonishing thing about this issue is the contempt the administration has for the rule of law and the legislative process. Is there a better definition for authoritarian rule?
This would seem to be the best ammunition so far for those of us who have been warning about impending dictatorship. Some of us have enough education to remember that the first thing Hitler and Lenin did was confiscate the guns.
It is only the press' Pavlovian love of gun control that makes it ignore this. If a Republican administration were proceeding in a similar fashion against abortion, you scarcely would be able to sleep because of the clamor.
As a generation, we have the dubious distinction of watching freedom die before our very eyes. The astounding thing, to me, is that no one cares.
SCOTT McCREA
Henderson, Nev.

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The suit against gun manufacturers supported by the Clinton administration is one more outrage from an outrageous administration. There is simply no depth to which it will not sink.
Its latest attack or support for an attack on a legal, licensed business this time the arms manufacturers is breathtaking in its audacity. In the end, this newest campaign is the fault of the American people for having allowed this regime to engage in one criminal enterprise after another without suffering any consequences. It steals from American Indians, holds up the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries and on and on. Its rapaciousness knows no bounds. What it can't get by legislation, it takes by litigation.
This administration will not abide by the law, will not conform to society's mores or even act with common decency. The only answer is that it must be removed. The only process for doing that is impeachment, and the House of Representatives had better get to it, again. It must do so before the knaves in this administration come to take my house, my wife and my children.
You think I exaggerate? Who is safe in person or possessions when the power of government is used for extortion. Only someone with the resources of Bill Gates or a firm such as Philip Morris has sufficient resources to battle this monster. Certainly I do not.
These folks are capable of bringing on another American Revolution. What other recourse is available to our people when there is no limit to government? "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce … [us] under absolute despotism, it is …[our] right, it is … [our] duty to throw off such government and provide new guards for … [our] future security." Sound familiar?
It is a tragedy even to think about doing it again, but the only answer is to suffer through another impeachment and this time removal from office. Only then might we be safe.
SHELDON AVENIUS
Arlington

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If there weren't enough evidence that our president will go down in history as the most stupid and most Marxist leader this country has ever seen, the administration's recent push to sidestep the legislative process by bringing lawsuits against gun makers should settle the matter. For the record, I have never voted in my life, but I can assure you that my friends at the National Rifle Association will educate me on the process this coming year.
RUSSELL ASHLEY
Laurel

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The Dec. 16 column on the HUD lawsuit that appeared on The Washington Times Web site excellently summed up both the enormity and the truly frightening idiocy of the situation as well as the lack of responsible government especially our leader's "spin doctoring."
ADELE SHAKAL
Pasadena, Calif.

President Clinton has declared all-out war on gun manufacturers for violence in public housing. Frivolous lawsuits such as this will increase the price of firearms, placing them out of the reach of the average citizen. The poor will be affected the most. It is sinful when politicians claim to represent the poor by supporting gun prohibition and stepping on the Constitution. Elected officials take an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to destroy it.
FRANK REED
Cleveland

Communism, not U.S. sanctions, is Cuba's biggest problem


Clarence Page seems to think that freedom would spring forth in Cuba but for our embargo and economic sanctions ("Curing Castro with capital," Commentary, Dec. 22). Yet Europe has no embargo or sanctions on Cuba. Canada doesn't. Russia and China don't. Cuba could get food, medicine, consumer goods … anything it wants or needs from these other countries. So what's the problem?Who needs America?Other countries have abandoned investment in Cuba for one simple reason: Communist Cuba is bankrupt. Investment in Cuba is a losing proposition.
If our embargo were suddenly lifted, no American company would establish a presence there unless it first got the U.S. government to underwrite the venture.
If the investment paid off, the corporation would profit. If it failed, however, the U.S. taxpayer would have to pick up the tab. We could learn a lot from other countries that have been there, done that.
ROGER JOHNSON
Kensington

Lawmaker's rosy report on Kazakhstan ignores grim truth about country


Rep. Jack Metcalf presents a rosy picture of political and electoral freedom in Kazakhstan ("Kazakhstan's progress toward strong democracy," Letters, Dec. 22) but this image bears little resemblance to reality.
The Washington Republican asserts that it is President Nursultan Nazarbayev's political opponents who are waging a campaign of negative attacks on him.
Any disinterested observer, however, should be more than convinced of Kazakhstan's far-from-democratic credentials: Human rights protections in Kazakhstan are not progressing, but deteriorating. While improvements in the criminal code on paper are to be welcomed, they have done nothing to alleviate the arbitrary arrests, the presumption of guilt and the use of torture common in Kazakhstan's criminal justice system.
Government involvement is suspected in the arson that recently gutted the offices of the leading human rights organization in the country. Unrelenting government pressure also has silenced most of the independent broadcast and print media.
Democratic reform in Kazakhstan is worse than stalled. It's in reverse gear. Congress' own Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe reported on the widespread fraud, bias and intimidation in the October parliamentary election, which Mr. Metcalf inexplicably praises.
Meanwhile, a separate group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the vote, concluded that it fell short of international standards for free and fair elections. Since 1991, far from embracing democratic reform, Mr. Nazarbayev has engineered a political system without any meaningful constraints on his rule.
Global security was hardly aided by Kazakhstan's August transfer of MiG fighter jets to North Korea. While the State Department is satisfied with Kazakhstan's investigation, few in the former Soviet republic doubt that the figures arrested in the scandal are little more than fall guys sacrificed to protect high (possibly the highest) government officials.
Kazakhstan 84th on Berlin-based Transparency International's 1999 index of the 99 most corrupt countries (No. 1 is least corrupt) is indeed building an economy based on private ownership, but it is one that benefits a small circle of political elites rather than the country at large.
The same problems that deprive Kazakh citizens of any meaningful protection of their human rights authoritarian government with no separation of powers, political control of the judiciary, total lack of accountability for state agencies also leave foreign investors (as well as domestic property owners) without any means of enforcing contracts or protecting themselves from arbitrary confiscation.
If the price of building the true strategic partnership with Kazakhstan requires that Mr. Metcalf whitewash the country's appalling human rights record, then perhaps U.S. policy-makers should ask themselves if Mr. Nazarbayev's Kazakhstan is really a suitable partner.
CASSANDRA CAVANAUGH
Human Rights Watch
New York

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