- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Arizona has the right idea

Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper continues to write excellent articles concerning the crisis of illegal aliens within the United States (“Volunteers set to monitor Arizona border crossings,” Page 1, Monday).

His most recent article depicts the measures that are being taken by John Q. American Citizen to combat violence and thievery by illegal aliens. It’s about time. The federal government and especially President Bush seem bent on trying everything they can to impress Mexican President Vicente Fox and allow his population free access to the United States at the expense of every American citizen.

The recent revelation concerning the official Mexican government “guide” for migrants exposed it as nothing more than a manual of hostility designed for use by a rogue state. For a supposedly “friendly” nation to openly promote, encourage, advocate and train its citizens to enter a foreign country by stealth, avoid capture, obtain illegal documents and find work through illegal-alien front organizations is nothing more than an act of war and should be treated as such.

It appears the residents of Arizona are the first to fire shots in defense of U.S. sovereignty. Now it is time for those in other states to step forward.

We need to impress Mr. Fox with a massive economic and legal response that will make it far more costly for Mexico to smuggle illegal aliens than to keep them in their own country.

WILSON FARIS

Gaithersburg

A campaign story

Douglas MacKinnon writes that the media were unfair to Howard Dean and thereby caused him to lose Democratic primaries and the nomination to Sen. John Kerry in 2004 (“Playing ‘whack-a-mole,’ ” Op-Ed, Monday). I was opposed to Mr. Dean for the Democratic nomination and don’t want him to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but there is an additional part of the story that is worth telling.

Mr. Kerry was trailing Mr. Dean in the polls in late 2003. An “impressive collection of media elite” gathered at the home of Al Franken on Dec. 4, 2003, and tried to improve Mr. Kerry’s campaign performance (“Al Franken, Seriously,” by Russell Shorto, the New York Times Magazine, March 21, 2004). For example, they sought to have him give better answers on Iraq. It was thought that the meeting may have been the “turnaround” in the campaign. The attendees included journalists from the New Yorker, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, CNN, the Nation, the Washington Post and Slate.

This is a neglected story about the media and the election process. Surely those at the meeting had an intellectual and political investment in Mr. Kerry that created a conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of one, which carried over into the general election.

Interestingly, Mr. Kerry has said: “The pundits have never liked me.” (Newsweek, Jan. 10). He must have forgotten the help the “impressive collection of media elite” gave him at Mr. Franken’s house.

NATHAN DODELL

Rockville

Real cause of infant deaths

A rise in infant deaths because of low birth weight comes as no surprise to me (“U.S. infant death rate climbs for first time in 40 Years,” Page 1, Tuesday). Back in the 1970s, pregnancy complications and threatened miscarriage, requiring extreme measures such as complete bed rest, were relatively rare among healthy women in their 20s and early 30s. Today, in this same age group, they seem shockingly common.

I find it interesting, however, that those studying this rise in infant deaths fail to mention two possible factors in premature births that also were relatively uncommon among women in the 1970s: a history of previous abortions and working in an office virtually until labor begins (once derided as a practice only among workhorse peasant women in rural areas of China).

If these new data are not a temporary blip on the chart, let’s hope health researchers can set aside political correctness and feminist ideology and consider that what appears obvious may indeed be the cause.

CANDACE CRANDALL

Lorton

Fixing Social Security can’t wait

Sen. Harry Reid’s Monday letter, “Strengthen Social Security,” ignores the fact that President Clinton — seven years ago — recognized the looming Social Security problem as a “crisis.” (However, at that time, all politicians of both parties were afraid to touch that “third rail.”)

Mr. Reid goes on to make the ludicrous claim that there will be no problem for “almost 50 years,” which is either an outright lie or proof that the man doesn’t understand simple economics.

The excess funds — that is, the money above what is needed to make current payments to Social Security recipients — have always been expended immediately for other things in the general budget, thus reducing what the feds otherwise would need to acknowledge as expenses.

In 15 years, that annual excess in Social Security receipts ends and from then on becomes a growing annual deficit. From that point forward, none of the government’s general expenses can be offset by Social Security fund excesses. In addition, the government will have to begin paying out more to recipients than it will be receiving.

How can the Senate Democratic leader blame President Bush for large deficits on the one hand and on the other not recognize this as a crisis that obviously only gets worse as time goes by?

DENIS ABLES

Vienna

Stay tough on crime

Two commentators in your paper have attacked the federal sentencing guidelines that were declared “advisory” earlier this month by a narrowly-divided U.S. Supreme Court. In their trust of unelected, life-tenured judges to get sentences right, both miss the mark.

Philip Terzian (“Tangling sentence guidelines?” Commentary, Saturday) must be confused when he writes that “mandatory minimums, in a free society, turn our judicial system into a police state, and take problems best left to judges and courts and put them exclusively in the politicians’ hands.”

Members of Congress must periodically face the voters; federal judges serve for life. In a free society, we the people, through our elected representatives, should decide criminal penalties, not unelected judges.

What’s more, both he and Cato Institute senior fellow Alan Reynolds (“Let judges use judgment,” Commentary, Sunday) pooh-pooh the serious drop in crime rates that followed the new, tougher sentences first pushed by the Reagan Justice Department. Law-abiding Americans do not want to return to high-crime days.

Finally, it is odd to see a Cato fellow urging that we give more power to federal judges. On New Year’s Eve in your paper, Mr. Reynolds’ Cato colleague Roger Pilon was quoted calling for term limits for federal judges. Mr. Pilon should sit down with Mr. Reynolds and explain the threat we face from judges gone wild.

Judicial discretion, as both Mr. Terzian and Mr. Reynolds acknowledge, means shorter sentences for convicted felons. Congress should remember that and move quickly to restore mandatory sentencing, which improved its constituents’ safety.

MICHAEL PARANZINO

Kensington

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