- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Time for the double standard to go

Republican vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney, during his acceptance speech on Wednesday night, used the phrase "It's time for them to go." This was a phrase Vice President Al Gore employed several times in his 1992 convention address.

As soon as the sun rose, Katie Couric of NBC's "Today" offered her on-air assessment of Mr. Cheney's speech and defined it as "nasty" ("Couric on 'nasty,' " Convention Notes, Aug. 4) Not once did Miss Couric call Mr. Gore's 1992 convention address "nasty," but perhaps with President Clinton's and Mr. Gore's cronies and in liberal circles, it depends on what the meaning of "nasty" is. It is either that or the use of a double standard; one standard for Republicans and another standard for Democrats.

Republicans must continue to convey a message of truth and expose the lies of the liberal media and the Democratic Party. Republicans should not allow distortions and false accusations by the liberal media and Democrats to stand unchallenged. While we would like our rule of conduct to express family ideals and aims, and reflect our values and breeding, sometimes we must respond to the coarse in a severe and unbenevolent manner, for this is the only language that the bully, the pompous, the arrogant and the self-important understand. Republicans should give all critics an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. There are 91 days before the election. There has been enough liberal bias and enough scandals in the Clinton/Gore administration, that Republicans have the ammunition to render all attackers nonentities, impotent and irrelevant.

We must deny the Katie Courics and the rest of the liberal media the platform for promoting a double standard.

MILDRED M. FISCHER

Fredericksburg, Va.

Vouchers a 'sideshow' that hurts school reform

Pete du Pont cites a series of reforms that have helped to turn around failing public schools in Florida, including reduced class size, tutoring programs, a lengthened school year and a focus on effective reading instruction ("School choice tide turning?" Commentary, July 27). These are the common-sense reforms that teachers and their unions have been seeking for years.

Mr. du Pont mistakenly claims that the threat of vouchers is breathing fire into school reform. In fact, vouchers are a sideshow that deflects our attention from the real reforms that are helping to turn around public schools in Florida and throughout America. Urban school districts such as Hartford, Conn., Baltimore, Cincinnati, Washington and others are showing dramatic improvements in test scores because of a commitment to reforms such as smaller class sizes and the use of a proven, research-based programs, not because of vouchers.

Let's not be distracted by phantom solutions when real reforms are finally in hand.

SANDRA FELDMAN

President

American Federation of Teachers

Washington

A few additions to article on 'gay gene' theory

Concerning the Aug. 2 Culture, et cetera article "Scientific studies fail to corroborate 'gay gene' theory," I would like to clarify a few important issues. Some of these points were discussed to a greater extent in an essay I wrote with Phyllis Robinson for the Gay and Lesbian Review titled "Is there a homosexual brain?" (Winter 2000 issue; Vol. 7, No. 1).

First, I believe that biology plays an important role in human behavior, including homosexuality. Since the human brain is made of genes, proteins and cells, our behavior is ultimately linked to biological processes. Therefore, it is very likely that there is a biological component in homosexual behavior, which has not yet been elucidated. The development and establishment of homosexual behavior most probably involves several biological and psychological steps, and a continuous interplay between biology and environment. So far, genetic research has been unable to link homosexuality to a single "gay gene" or a set of genes. This is not surprising, because homosexuality is a complex behavior, likely to involve several genes and several neural circuits in the brain.

Secondly, I would like to clarify some of my statements that were paraphrased in your article. Only neurological studies of homosexual brains were performed on deceased studies, whereas the genetic studies were done on living individuals. Along the same line, the often-quoted study on the "gay gene" by Dean Hamer was not on a single gene, but on a so-called genetic locus, i.e., a region of a chromosome comprising several genes.

Thirdly, research on the biology of homosexuality should not be discouraged. There is now a potential for great advancements both in genetics and neuroscience. As in all other fields of research, rigorous scientific criteria should be applied to evaluate research on homosexual behavior and its biological basis.

Finally, the claim that people become homosexuals because of "sexual molestation or rape, an absentee father, or an overbearing female influence through childhood" is the type of analysis that does not help our understanding of homosexuality or the progress of science. It only serves the political agenda of some groups of "ex-gays" who claim that gays and lesbians can convert to heterosexuality.

VITTORIO GALLO

Washington

Steering a balanced approach to transportation planning

Tom Bray's refreshing column helps fill a void that has been missing in the current debate about traffic congestion in America ("Gridlock escape routes," Commentary, July 12).

A June 2000 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation supports one of Mr. Bray's arguments about the costs of repairing our crumbling transportation infrastructure. The report says 20 percent of the nation's highway pavement is in "mediocre" or "poor" condition. It also found almost 30 percent of the nation's bridges are "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete" and that traffic congestion across the nation is getting worse.

According to the Department of Transportation, we have an annual $26 billion highway investment shortfall just to maintain current conditions and system performance.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population will grow by 60 million between 1995 and 2020. According to Bill Buechner, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) vice president of economics and research, we will have 246 million motor vehicles on America's highways by 2009 a 14 percent increase over 10 years. Highway travel is also expected to increase 40 percent from the current level by 2015.

In order to relieve congestion, ARTBA believes we should develop a balanced approach to transportation planning that recognizes the American people's right to choose their means of travel.

What can we do? Add road capacity where appropriate and requested by state and local decision makers. Road improvements can help saves lives, improve air quality and alleviate traffic congestion. Local authorities could manage traffic incidents more effectively. We can increase and make better use of synchronized traffic signalization and other "smart road" technologies to increase traffic flow. Improved public transportation is also key, particularly expanding van pool and bus services. Finally, greater flexibility in work schedules and increased use of telecommuting could help drastically relieve traffic.

Mr. Bray is right. If there is one thing Americans hate more than sprawl, it's traffic congestion. If we do nothing to add capacity now, what will congestion be like in the future? And what impact will that have on our productivity, mobility and quality of life with our families?

MATTHEW JEANNERET

Director of communications

American Road & Transportation Builders Association

Washington

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