- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Undermining security

Now that the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit seeking to stop President Bush’s efforts to electronically monitor terrorist suspects (“Civil liberties groups sue to end surveillance,” Nation, Wednesday), can anyone deny that the group is in essence aiding and abetting al Qaeda?

The claim that Mr. Bush’s initiative violates civil liberties is without merit. The entire purpose of the initiative is to forestall al Qaeda’s known efforts to bring about another September 11-style attack on our shores. The plaintiffs in this case may believe that their “civil liberties” have been infringed upon, but the harm they supposedly have suffered is minor compared to the harm they would have suffered if they were victimized by a terrorist attack that our government couldn’t stop because our government didn’t monitor potential “bad actors.”

Has the ACLU forgotten September 11? Is the ACLU willfully ignorant of the fact that those who toppled the towers have more murder in mind? The answer, incredibly, is no. In the warped worldview of the ACLU, Mr. Bush himself is the terrorist and this lawsuit is part of a noble effort to stop him.

I would say this lawsuit represents the collapse of a once-great organization, but the ACLU was never great.

D.R. TUCKER

Boston

A little more civility, please

When I was a 9-year-old growing up in Midland, Texas, I watched the confirmation hearings with my mom for Clinton Supreme Court justice nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Although the Republicans went over her record in detail and asked her tough questions, at no time do I remember the Republicans smearing her to the point that her husband had to leave the room, as Judge Samuel A. Alito’s wife did (“Republicans say Alito personal jabs went too far,” Nation, Friday). I was especially appalled by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s implication that Judge Alito was somehow misogynistic and that he was hostile to minorities. Mr. Kennedy has the gall to say this to Judge Alito without any evidence to back up his claims.

We live in a country that has become polarized to the point that partisanship has spread to confirming judges, which traditionally has had little partisanship. Because President Bush is the president, he has earned the right to appoint whomever he wants. The Senate’s job is to ask the appropriate questions and give the nominee an up or down vote. The Democrats need to quit embarrassing themselves. Otherwise, this may affect their chances in the 2006 elections.

CULLEN LINEBARGER

Alexandria

Cronkite’s dangerous comments

Bravo to The Washington Times for pointing out the disregard for human life of some on the left (“Walter Cronkite’s new epiphany,” Editorial, Tuesday). In the 1970s, Mr. Cronkite and his cohorts led us to abandon millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians to certain death even though we had won a military victory — a long, expensive and protracted victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Now they would have us do it again by pulling out of Iraq after the Iraqis have courageously stood up for democracy.

Do those who stood with Mr. Cronkite, Jane Fonda and John Kerry then and agree with them now believe only American lives count? That’s racism of the worst kind.

GARY KANADY

Centreville

The Annapolis political theater

Over the next 90 days, the people of Maryland will see a great big production in Annapolis political theater (“Republicans protest election of speaker,” Metropolitan, Jan. 12). Stars of the show will be Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch. Bit parts will go to Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. The whole show is being produced by the taxpayers of Maryland. This show will have bits of everything — comedy, drama — but overall, it will be a horror show.

Mr. Ehrlich has done a good job. We have a surplus, jobs, a healthy economy and investments in education, and (finally) the intercounty connector is going to be built. Subjecting a good governor and the people of the state to the sideshow called the legislative session won’t win Messrs. Miller, Busch, O’Malley or Duncan any Oscars.

AL EISNER

Wheaton

Correcting Medicare flaws

Robert Goldberg’s take on Medicare Part D (“Revolutionizing health care,” Op-Ed, Jan. 11) is more about political rhetoric than public reality.

Contrary to his opinion, news coverage of the drug benefit implementation has been negative because critically ill seniors are being turned away from their pharmacies empty-handed. Stories about this bureaucratic nightmare are being told by beneficiaries across the country. A growing number of states have found it necessary to intervene with additional funding to pay for the thousands of denied prescriptions so that seniors won’t have to go without their lifesaving medications.

America’s seniors and disabled do need a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. They want choice, just as they currently have a choice in providers, hospitals and other health services under Medicare. Instead, what Congress gave them is a privatized benefit so complicated that many eligible beneficiaries are worried about just enrolling in Part D. After watching the first month’s implementation disaster, they may be scared away entirely.

Congress has the opportunity to correct the multiple flaws in the Medicare law. It should begin by extending the enrollment deadline to give beneficiaries more time to study the complicated benefit without the added pressure of a late enrollment penalty. Also, if the administration and congressional leaders listened to the delegates to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging (the majority were Republican appointees), they heard that the real “choice” beneficiaries are seeking is a drug plan within traditional Medicare.

The current Part D is not a “revolution in medical freedom,” as Mr. Goldberg claims. It is a nightmare. There’s nothing very liberating about being locked into a plan that can change drug formularies from week to week. Cash-strapped seniors waiting to get their prescriptions care little about the political and policy debates that got them to this point. They just want their medicine.

We hope the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Congress will look seriously at the Part D implementation and make necessary changes to improve it. Then, give seniors a real choice by adding the option of a traditional drug plan in Medicare. It’s not too late.

BARBARA B. KENNELLY

President and chief executive

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Washington

Appalling decision to allow horse slaughter

I find it appalling that the Department of Agriculture may kowtow to the wishes of the three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses rather than abide by the will of the American people as voiced by Congress, which voted overwhelmingly to ban horse slaughter (“USDA bureaucrats and horse slaughter,” Editorial, Friday).

As if this weren’t bad enough, the department would like to do this without the benefit of public comment. Such underhanded actions show a complete disregard for the will of the American people. Shame on the USDA.

TOM KUCSERA

Silver Spring

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