- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Day After’ gets it wrong, and right

In watching the movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” I found it had nothing to teach us about the science of global warming. In fact, the film offers viewers a “kindergarten science” knowledge of the subject. There is no enlightenment on the underlying causes and determinants of global warming and even less on what can and might be done to counteract the threats.

The movie rests on a fictitious theory that melting ice caps in Antarctica or Greenland could disrupt ocean currents, generating a sharp drop in temperatures. The theory behind this Hollywood fantasy actually would benefit us, in light of the temperature change caused by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases and of atmospheric carbon dioxide, leading to the enrichment of global food production.

These Hollywood “experts” seem to suggest that a sudden switch from gradual climate change to instant hemisphere freeze is all but inevitable. The only positive outcome from this mythical film would be the hope for a rise in the economy, as past scares have created: Remember the year-2000-bug threat? It’s impressive how Hollywood continually corrupts our intelligence.

MICHAEL E. WOOD

Chicago

The $125 million disaster flick “The Day After Tomorrow” takes some science to an extreme for artistic effect.

One segment rings true, though: Mexican officials turn away U.S. refugees attempting to cross the border. Anyone who has dealt with Mexican officials knows that taking advantage of American tourists is standard operating procedure. There are examples of Americans having to pay hospitals and doctors before receiving medical attention. There are similar examples of injustice done by Mexican officials to Americans who own land in Mexico, as well as those Americans unfortunate enough to fall into legal troubles in Mexico.

And of course, the double-dealing from our parasitic “good neighbor,” who sends us millions of her socially and economically deprived citizens and then rages that we don’t treat them well enough. With neighbors like that, who needs a disaster flick?

BARBARA VICKROY

Escondido, Calif.

Campaigning on Social Security

According to William Shipman, November’s presidential election is going to be a referendum on the proper size and scope of the federal government, specifically Social Security reform (“Defining the big issue,” Commentary, Wednesday). I hope that is the case, but in order to assure a strong turnout by fiscal conservatives, who are increasingly concerned about rapid spending growth over the past four years, President Bush should make Social Security reform a centerpiece of his campaign now.

Not only is this good strategy, but it is good politics as well. By voting with the president on Iraq and attempting to minimize certain policy differences between the two candidates, Sen. John Kerry has succeeded somewhat in transforming the race into one in which character and charisma are the defining issues, not substantive policy initiatives.

Rather than relying on his stature as a wartime president, Mr. Bush should take heed of polls indicating that a stunning 62 percent of voters support individual retirement accounts. Investing effort and political capital in reforming Social Security also would allow the president to contrast his forward-looking vision with that of Mr. Kerry, who - with his long record of opposing choice - could not obfuscate the issue.

There is no doubt that the race for the presidency will come down to the wire. The candidate who embraces real Social Security reform could have the winning edge.

PAUL J. GESSING

Director of government affairs

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria

Burning down the house

President Bush has ordered the razing of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison (“Bush envisions freedom in Iraq,” Page 1, May 25), as if making it disappear will erase what has happened there.

If he thinks this grandstand play for votes will make him look good, he had better look again. Disposing of the old prison and replacing it with a new one is a foolish, costly move that will serve no useful purpose.

CLAUDINE WILLIS

Portland, Ore.

Cry of ‘freedom’ rings hollow

I want to comment on John McCaslin’s Friday Inside the Beltway item “Homeland defense” (Nation), in which an Iraqi insurgent compared the resistance to the Scottish rebellion in Mel Gibson’s movie “Braveheart.”

First, the Scots and William Wallace didn’t freely kill civilians or then run and hide behind women and children when faced with real soldiers. Further, the Scots were fighting a war of liberation from a vicious and tyrannical oppressor (very similar, in fact, to Saddam Hussein). The Scots were not themselves once full and willing partners with the king of England in that subjugation of their own people, or foreigners hoping to put a new boot on the Scottish neck. It appears to me that the majority of Iraqis don’t support these insurgents and want the United States to stay and kill them.

The Scots in the movie bravely stood up in open defiance of and challenge to the king’s soldiers. The Scots, unlike these Iraqi terrorists, didn’t send suicide bombers to kill Scottish civilians.

It is clear that the Iraqi insurgent who compared his mob’s efforts to those of the Scots in “Braveheart” is desperately searching for some respectability. It is equally clear that he and his accomplices are doing exactly what Saddam Hussein would be doing, if he could, to regain his former power. The criminals’ claims about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden are highly suspect as well; these Iraqi Sunnis and Ba’athists obviously have joined forces with international terrorism. Most likely, it has been with the hope of at some future date usurping the Islamists after forcing Iraq back into bondage. The Ba’athist claim of nationalist “patriotism” is undoubtedly the last refuge of these scoundrels.

Should that insurgent seek a more accurate analogy of his fight in an American movie, I suggest he see “The Untouchables.” The Iraqi Ba’athists, al Qaeda and religious fundamentalists very closely resemble Al Capone’s gang. Any perceived resemblance of Iraqi terrorists to the Scots in “Braveheart” is wishful thinking.

DOUG HILLGREN

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Discord at the diocese

Your stories about William Moersen, who filed suit against the Archdiocese of Washington and the pastor of St. Catherine Laboure Church in Wheaton, the Rev. Robert G. Amey, were missing a very important fact (“Former organist sues diocese,” Metropolitan, Thursday, and “Organist loses abuse suit involving church vs. state,” Metropolitan, Friday). Mr. Moersen claimed that the pastor fired him after he told the pastor that he had been sexually abused at the church by a former choir director. Mr. Moersen sued for breach of contract, wrongful discharge and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.

I am a member of the choir at the church and was a member during the six months cited in the lawsuit. I am not privy to all the facts of this case, but I can make a pretty good guess as to why Mr. Moersen was fired. The fact is that Mr. Moersen repeatedly failed to show up for choir rehearsals and Masses for which he was supposed to provide music. Why should the parish continue to keep an organist and pay him a salary if he is not performing his duties? It was Mr. Moersen who breached the contract and inflicted severe emotional distress on Father Amey, not the other way around.

DIANE ISABELLE REINKE

Wheaton

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