- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Potty parity issue distracts Navy from serious issues


Thank you for your Oct. 5 Op-Ed article on Navy Vice Admiral John B. Nathman's costly proposal to replace all aircraft carrier urinals with gender-neutral water closets ("Davy Jones' water closet").
Adm. Nathman (head of Pacific fleet aviation) was quoted in a recent Navy inspector general's report as saying he might have to shut down three carrier air wings for three months a year, place aircraft in "preservation" status (effectively grounding them) to minimize maintenance costs, and cut fleet replacement squadron production by 35 percent in the fourth quarter. Additionally, scuttlebutt is that he's prepared to refuse to deploy a carrier battle group, saying that it does not meet the necessary readiness requirements toilet makeovers notwithstanding. While these draconian actions are indeed worthy of a man who can urinate standing up, they would mean extending the sea duty for other aircrews, further undermining waning morale and retention. Now hear this: Away, the morale and retention suppression crews, away.
Before issuing his report (and then promptly retiring), the Navy inspector general, Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, visited 11 Navy and Marine Corps air stations and surveyed more than 3,700 personnel. The IG team "found that the vast majority of the shortfalls precipitated by hard decisions made in Washington … translate down to debilitating levels of frustration and more crushing drudgery at the operational unit level," Adm. Gunn told Defense News. "We are literally making up the difference on the backs of sailors and Marines, and squandering our most precious human capital."
Not surprisingly, the inspector general report also says personnel at air stations showed a growing lack of faith in senior Navy leadership's ability to solve aviation readiness problems. Leadership is either out of touch or uninformed, or just does not care enough to address the plight of our people in meaningful ways. I'm afraid that, taken at face value, Adm. Nathman's wacky proposal to remove urinals from carriers does seem to be a symbolic genuflection at the altar of feminist fury. It's likely to further exacerbate problems experienced by our neutered Navy since the Tailhook witch hunt. Stand by for the next phase in the feminization of the military.
I'd like to believe that help is on the way for the military, as Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney promise. But I'm afraid that a dumbed-down American public will elect Al Gore. He'll then continue to fix our 911 military, but not equip it for its brave new role of policing world hot spots and enforcing the Clinton-Gore version of Pax Americana. This misappropriation of our military to be nation builders doesn't really represent a contemporary Marshall Plan, as the vice president claims. Rather it resembles another wrong-headed big government spending program that sacrifices readiness and war-fighting capability to the Hydra-headed goddesses of social experimentation and one-world governance. Ultimately, the cost to America will be more than mere money. It'll mean squandering our most precious human capital our sons and daughters.
JOHN FLOYD
Alexandria

'Titans' movie hits close to home for Washington area


I found it refreshing to read your warm and positive piece on "Remember the Titans" (Oct. 5). It read as if your reviewer actually likes movies, a pleasant change in this town where a critic's supercilious desire to flaunt his or her knowledge overrides any possibility of praise. Even as he listed the inaccuracies and gaffes in the film, your reviewer was still able to recognize and point out the movie's merits.
One inconsistency in the film was called to my attention by a friend of mine whose son did not attend T.C. Williams (the Alexandria school featured in the movie) in its historic 1971 year. Before the season began, the son's impression was: Hey, three schools are merging into T.C. Williams they're going to have the pick of the best players from three schools. They'll murder us. And they did. Unlike the movie's portrayal, the Titans' unbroken string of victories was more inevitability than apotheosis.
Still, this fact can be placed in one's pocket of "suspended disbelief," and the film can be enjoyed for what it is an upbeat yarn that hits especially close to home for those of us in the Washington area.
VANCE GARNETT
Washington

No protection for child when it comes to abortion drug


Does this make sense?
The hot issue before the Supreme Court of late has been whether to hear the case of 10 Charleston, S.C., women who, while pregnant, were tested for cocaine use without their knowledge. Yet another broiling topic has been the recent Food and Drug Administration approval of RU-486, the so-called abortion pill.
While the basis of the first case attempts to focus on eliminating illegal searches, it inadvertently gives legitimacy to the pro-life argument by saying that a mother is harming her unborn child while contaminating her body with drugs. Obviously, child protection authorities thought this a serious enough offense to imprison at least one woman for endangering her child's life.
In the case of RU-486, a seemingly unrelated issue, women are actually paying for the right to use a drug to get rid of their unborn child.
Why is it that a woman who uses one drug, which can kill or harm her unborn child, is maligned and even imprisoned for her action, while another woman pays for a drug once unapproved for use in the United States that doesn't just harm but kills her unborn child, and the medical community as well as the FDA lauds the drug's ease of use, efficiency and safety?
Maybe if the FDA approved of cocaine and other drugs to induce abortions, the cost of eliminating a life could be even cheaper.
It just doesn't make sense.
LIBERTY HODGES
New Orleans

Men too are at risk of dying from breast cancer


As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, your insert in the Oct. 5 edition of The Washington Times was both timely and informative. The breast-cancer community has done so much to increase awareness, early detection and treatment. The Susan B. Koman Foundation is doing great work toward eradicating breast cancer from the face of the earth.
If awareness is the objective, however, the insert left out a population that also suffers and dies from this terrible disease men. Although the information included randomly placed statistics about men with breast cancer, men are likely to overlook those figures. Today, few men are educated about this health risk.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1,600 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and about 400 die of it. Men are usually older when diagnosed, and psychological factors often delay effective treatment. Although incidence rates for men are much lower than for women, men are less likely to detect breast cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable. Therefore, the rate of diagnosed men who die from the disease is high.
Men simply aren't aware that they also can be victims of breast cancer, since it is widely seen as "a woman's disease." Men need to become aware of their risks, early detection methods and treatment options, as they differ from those for women.
In addition, materials about breast cancer generally are marketed toward women and illustrated in pink with woman-friendly images. We need to start targeting men with some of these materials so they are able to take action and become informed. Men need to be addressed in such a way that they don't feel embarrassed.
Unfortunately, men seldom seek out information about their own health care needs. We must find new ways of getting the message out to all who are placed at risk by breast cancer.
MEGAN SMITH
Project manager
Men's Health Network
Washington

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