- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 15, 2006

Some success in Maryland

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. not only managed to restore some fiscal responsibility while governor of Maryland, but he also successfully passed his tax credits for thousands of Maryland families, military veterans, caregivers and homeowners while holding the line on taxes for the fourth straight year (“A legislative disaster,” Editorial, Thursday). Mr. Ehrlich has turned a record $4 billion in inherited deficits into $2 billion in budget surpluses since taking office, and he needs to be applauded and recognized for this feat, having had to battle the liberal House and Senate in Annapolis.

The governor also significantly improved education in Maryland, making record investments in K-12 education, school construction, renovations and higher education.

He made college more affordable for tens of thousands of students by boosting need-based college scholarship funding for the fourth straight year and freezing tuition levels at Maryland’s colleges and universities.

The governor has nearly doubled need-based aid for college students since taking office. Marylanders should remember these facts when they go to the voting booths in November.

AL EISNER

Wheaton

Partisan politics and Wilson-Plame

The debate about Ambassador Joe Wilson’s Niger visit and the subsequent Valerie Plame-leak investigation has not aged gracefully. Frankly, it reeks of partisan politics without two licks of unspun truth (“Smearing Joe Wilson’s critics,” Editorial, Wednesday).

Of the few facts that have actually been discerned, none answer any of the questions about the failed intelligence that led to the war in Iraq. Rarely are the justifications of Mr. Wilson’s conclusions discussed, rather their partisan nature in attacking the president. As such, the veracity of his claims has never really been examined or debunked. Mr. Wilson claimed, in summary, that there was “too much oversight over too small an industry” for the supposed Niger? Iraq uranium transaction to have ever taken place. This makes sense given the nature of uranium, its applications, and the market for it in Nigeria, but at what point does the Senate intelligence committee report discredit this claim?

Furthermore, I have read equally as many assertions that Mr. Wilson’s conclusions confirmed most intelligence analysts’ prior beliefs as it did bolster most intelligence analysts’ suspicions (an example of the former is “A Pretext for War” by James Bamford). In the end, the public has no way of knowing what percentage of intelligence officials supported Mr. Wilson’s conclusions and what percentage did not; therefore, Susan Schmidt’s article probably deserved to be buried on page A9 of The Washington Post.

The real issue here is that the evidence was not conclusive to go into Iraq, which has been proven over and over again (recall the portable biochemical weapons labs that turned out to be mobile hydrogen generators). Even with the “liberal media bias,” the justification for going to war, was presented to the American people in a very conclusive nature, something that everyone now recognizes was not so certain. The administration is correct in thinking that historians will judge whether the Iraq war was “worth it” in the end, but when will they acknowledge their accountability for the inconclusive data that was presented to the American people as justification for going to war with taxpayer money and American soldiers’ lives?

JONATHAN M. CRISTIANI

Springfield

Troubles at the border

Jack Kelly’s April 5 Commentary column, “Borderline solution,” contains a major inconsistency: Why would he be willing to spend the many billions of dollars that it would cost to “build a fence along 700 miles of our 2,000 mile border with Mexico” in order to prevent infractions that he regards as being no more important than a “speeding ticket?”

If it’s worth all that money to prevent future illegals from entering the country, surely it must be worthwhile to require illegals in the country to leave. Also, being “hardworking” doesn’t entitle you to break the law or to benefit therefrom.

Many criminals were working full eight-plus-hour days at the time they committed their crimes, but we still expect to hold them to account. I doubt that illegal aliens are considered “decent” by those who are awaiting the opportunity to come to America as legal immigrants.

Finally, there seems to be a pattern in which some conservative writers begin their columns by decrying illegal immigration, then end their pieces by condoning it as either inevitable or morally just. It sounds as if those pundits would be willing to build a wall to mollify those of us who are against illegal immigration but would be happy to look the other way when it was circumvented by yet more illegals.

VICTOR CHOLEWICKI

Washington

Thomas Sowell’s commentary on immigration is a prime example of why so many people consider him the smartest man in America (Border solutions … and demonstrations,” Commentary, Wednesday). Mr. Sowell takes the issue of illegal immigration and examines it openly with clear examples and adjectives meant to illuminate, not obfuscate, the issue.

Where the “immigrant activists” like to look for shades of gray and make the issue murky and difficult, clouding the issue, Mr. Sowell shines a light to show us that, yes, immigrants have in the past been very beneficial to America, but the current of immigrants are not trying to come to America to assimilate and become Americans, to fight and die for our land, but to lay claim to parts of the land itself in the name of their originating country (Mexico), or to make a buck to send back home, or to lay claim to the wealth of others through our overly generous welfare system.

With close to 12 million illegal immigrants in America, we are involved in an assault on our land in what amounts to a full-scale invasion. We must deal with it clearly, openly and honestly, and the results will define whether we as a nation survive the 21st century. The mainstream media and its left-wing advocacy journalism is not helping the issue.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

Spending tobacco money

Jacob Sullum’s column (“Nicotine dependence duplicity,” Commentary, April 5) unfairly generalized many states that have spent a portion of their tobacco settlement dollars on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Unfortunately, Washington, D.C., is not of them.

The District has already spent the majority of its tobacco settlement payments until 2025. Not one cent of it has gone toward any form of tobacco control.

Now, the District is in the process of securing its payments from 2026 to 2040. It currently receives $57.5 million a year in tobacco settlement payments.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, it pays out $72 million a year in smoking-related Medicaid costs. Since the District was one of the states to sue Big Tobacco for decades of healthcare costs, funding programs that teach D.C. teens about the harmful effects tobacco and assist Washingtonians who want to quit smoking seems like a wise investment.

However, if those payments are locked up for the next 40 years with no money going to tobacco control, then Mr. Sullum’s assessment as it pertains to the District is correct.

ROLANDO ANDREWN

CEO

American Lung Association

of the District of Columbia

Washington

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