- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004

Passing judgment

In his otherwise excellent Commentary column on excusing criminal behavior, Stanton E. Samenow commits a category error that undermines the rest of what he wrote (“Psyching out crime excuses,” Aug. 26). After defending the idea that people control their own choices in life, Mr. Samenow inexplicably concedes, “Until science tells us more, we have no satisfactory explanation for evil.”

Science will never be able to explain evil because “evil” is a value judgment, not a scientific judgment. Like good, evil refers to behavior, ethics and choice, not to biology, chemistry and physics. The good and bad that people do are simply not measurable by science or subject to the laws of mechanics. That is why “social science,” including psychology and sociology, is an oxymoron. Behavior cannot be studied, explained or predicted like the movement of planets or molecules — no two persons are identical, and “mind” is not an organ subject to physical laws. Therefore, science cannot tell us more about good and evil.

JEFFREY A. SCHALER

School of public affairs

American University

Washington

SHELDON RICHMAN

Editor

The Freeman

Foundation for Economic Education

Irvington, N.Y.

‘Official U.S. Navy documents’

Let me add to the letter of Timothy Pryor (“Nice try,” Tuesday) when he wrote, “The ‘official U.S. Navy documents’ referencing the allegations of actual events in Vietnam are vague and do not prove either party right or wrong.”

As a Navy line officer on active duty from 1964 to 1966, I routinely wrote in my ship log. What I wrote was presumed to be accurate — course, speed, celestial observations, sea conditions, etc. Although I was never in combat, the ship log is also the record in a combat situation. John Kerry presumably wrote his ship log. Therefore, the “official Navy record” is what he wrote and is only as accurate as his truthfulness about events.

LT. PETE FARRIS

U.S. Navy (retired)

St. Michaels, Md.

An open invitation

Cal Thomas, in his excellent Commentary column “A winnable war” (Sept. 3), clearly lays out a sound strategy to win the war on terror. Mr. Thomas contends that our first line of defense must be to keep terrorists from entering our country by securing our porous borders and enacting stricter immigration policies.

Our present see-no-terrorist, open-borders policy does exactly the opposite and undermines our homeland security defenses. It is like setting up an elaborate neighborhood watch in your community to protect your family from criminals while you invite mass murderers to dinner at your home.

Americans need not fear, however. Our ever-vigilant government is spending billions on homeland security to make America safer. This must make al Qaeda shudder as its terrorists stroll leisurely across our open borders.

LOU VENTICINQUE

Jamison, Pa.

What ‘W’ really stands for

Democratic Party presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry stated that Iraq is “the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time” (“Bush mocks a new Kerry ‘U-turn,’ ” Page 1, Tuesday).

Basically, this is also what he said more than 30 years ago about the Vietnam War, while good men were fighting and dying. Just as he did during the Vietnam War, Mr. Kerry is attempting to undermine public confidence and support for the war in Iraq while good men are fighting and dying. Mr. Kerry’s words gave aid and comfort to the enemy then and do so now. His words encourage the enemy to persist and prolong the war until America loses the will to fight. Mr. Kerry is the wrong man with the wrong beliefs at the wrong time to become the president and commander in chief.

W. VERNON GRAY

California, Md.

Post-convention musings

Was anyone else struck by the pitiable nature of Sen. John Kerry’s post-convention appearance after President Bush’s convention speech (“Democrats defend answer to attack ads,” Page 1, Friday)?

Mr. Kerry, awaiting his turn at the podium, looked like a kid who had been tormented mercilessly during recess. Let’s be honest; anyone who erroneously quips, as he was reported by other sources to have said, that the Red Sox have climbed to within 2½ games of the New York Yankees — when in fact they were a subjugated 3½ games behind — deserves our derision. Such sacrilegious inaccuracies do indeed render one “unfit for command.”

BENJAMIN CLARKE

Washington

Now that the conventions are over, the silence about open borders and illegal immigration — opposed by more than 80 percent of the people — is deafening. Not a word about the more than 13 million illegal aliens living in this country. Little or no debate over the hundreds of hospitals facing overwhelming deficits from their care of indigent illegal aliens. Not even a whimper from the delegates over the handcuffing of our hardworking Border Patrol agents. Both the Democrats and Republicans are ignoring this disgraceful situation.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

I’m glad Adrienne Washington chose to criticize the Republican platform committee for not including D.C. voting rights in the national platform (“Rights expressed in New York, repressed in D.C.,” Metropolitan, Aug. 31). What about voting rights for all Americans? While the United States has worked to include the right to vote in the constitutions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, our own Constitution does not guarantee Americans such a right. In other words, voting is not a right of citizenship in the United States.

Instead, states control voting policies and procedures, which led to the voting problems and irregularities during the 2000 presidential election debacle.

According to a Cal Tech/MIT study, approximately 6 million votes were never counted during the 2000 elections.

It is time to establish voting as a right of citizenship that all Americans can enjoy equally. I echo Mrs. Washington’s conclusion that if we want to spread democracy worldwide, we must start at home.

ANDREW KIRSHENBAUM

Program associate

Center for Voting and Democracy

Takoma Park

Since the campaign started months ago leading to the Democratic National Convention in July and the Republican National Convention this month, nothing had told me which candidate I could vote for in the November election until Democratic Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia delivered his speech in New York. Everything in his speech appealed directly to my common sense.

The fact that he stepped out of his party line but still remained in the party to support President Bush for re-election convinced me that Sen. John Kerry is not fit to govern. The other Democratic senators know it but are reluctant to address the issue.

For Mr. Miller, as for me and maybe most Americans, the most important thing is the family.

When I remember the events of September 11, all the other issues in this election become less important to me than the issue of the security of my family. That security can only be ensured by actions and weapon systems that Mr. Miller said Mr. Kerry, “tried his best to shut down.” This is common sense.

As Mr. Miller said, speaking of his family members: “There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future, and that man’s name is George W. Bush.”

LEE KONTIBON

Arlington

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