- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

John Kerry’s filibuster

When Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, ran for president in 2004, he was accused by his opponents of being a liberal extremist. He has helped demonstrate the merit of that charge through his effort (in which he is joined by his left-wing pal Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat) to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. in his bid to become the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (“Indulging the romance of a lost cause,” Pruden on Politics, Friday).

Judge Alito has shown himself to be a brilliant legal scholar, an experienced jurist of superb judicial temperament and one who is within the broad mainstream of American opinion, notwithstanding that he has not made public pronouncements endorsing an unlimited right to abortion. Someone like Mr. Kerry, who would oppose Judge Alito, signals that virtually no nominee could be put forth by President Bush who would be deemed acceptable by the left.

Mr. Kerry tried and failed to win the hearts and minds of a majority of the American people in his bid for the presidency. What he could not obtain at the ballot box he seeks to secure through a maneuver he surely knows is wrong, that does not comport with the expressed and explicit intent of the Founding Fathers, and will not succeed.

The desperation and inappropriateness of this filibuster attempt should be remembered if and when Mr. Kerry runs again as a presidential candidate. His conduct in the Alito matter does not bring him credit.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

The Falls Church clarification

I fear your Monday Page One story about the letter to Episcopal Bishop Peter Lee from the vestry of our parish may leave readers with a wrong impression of our true regard for our bishop (“Virginia parish demands leader ‘repent’”).

Though we certainly believe that some of Bishop Lee’s actions have been gravely erroneous, our vestry went out of its way to acknowledge and praise his attitude and conduct toward us during the controversies in our church over the past three years. His actions stand in stark contrast to the high-handed actions of several other bishops.

Our vestry’s letter says:

“We find your courtesy and patience to be exemplary. We genuinely appreciate your past and current attempts to be forbearing towards us, with whom you disagree. When many would have been tempted toward stubbornness or face-saving, you displayed instead humility. If the current controversy were one that admitted of a diplomatic solution or an ingenious compromise, we cannot imagine a bishop more capable than yourself of resolving it. The controversy, however, is between the Faith once delivered to the saints versus a new and different faith — between trust in the Holy Scriptures versus distortion and disregard of those Scriptures. No compromise on this issue is possible.”

Your quoting the last sentence about “no compromise” outside of its context is misleading, and seems unfair to both Bishop Lee and our vestry. There is serious disagreement, but no hardball tactics or personal hostility. I share the vestry’s gratitude for Bishop Lee’s restraint and good will.

JOHN YATES

Rector

The Falls Church

Falls Church

Reforestation: A government prerogative

In “Forestry in the name of climate change” (Commentary, Sunday), Patrick Moore sounds like the antithesis of a Greenpeace co-founder and makes a strong capitalist defense of expanding forestry. He missed an opportunity, however: having government encourage the trend toward reforestation. Because trees as carbon concentrators are a beneficial cash crop, maybe the Department of Agriculture (USDA), instead of paying farmers not to produce crops we have in surplus, should instead shift the money to its own Forest Service and encourage the cultivation of trees.

Long demonized for opposing the flawed Kyoto Protocol, the United States could go a long way toward addressing the problem of greenhouse gases with a concerted reforestation program. One of the main arguments against Kyoto was that land-poor nations with declining populations wanted to curb emissions, but they did not want to credit larger nations for measures such as reforestation that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. By encouraging tree cultivation, we could do something about global warming while Europe continues to miss its own goals for emissions reductions.

For Republicans looking to cut the size of government, such as Rep. John Shadegg, who aspires to be House majority leader, this reforestation program also affords an opportunity to cut into a bloated USDA, as once a soybean field is converted to pine trees, it will be a number of years before it can revert. Trees of one type or another grow just about everywhere, including in Mr. Shadegg’s Arizona, especially given irrigation. After all, the headquarters and greenhouses of the National Arbor Day Foundation are on the Great Plains in Nebraska City, Neb., near the borders of Iowa and Missouri. Further, genetic scientists could be unleashed on the problem of creating drought-, cold-, wind- or salt-tolerant trees without encountering many of the fears inherent to so-called “frankenfoods.”

Mr. Moore may not want to see the current administration making progress on the environment and climate change or downsizing government as a result, but as he has pointed out, trees undeniably take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

Why shouldn’t Washington get behind this solid science, do something good for the nation and the planet and reap the political benefits along the way? When the price of building materials plunges, we can all relax in oak rocking chairs on our redwood decks and enjoy cleaner air.

DALE JOHNSON

Ashburn, Va.

FairTax for everyone

I thank Richard W. Rahn for his Thursday Commentary column, “Practical tax reform.” I welcome every article that seeks to foster understanding and debate regarding federal tax reform. However, unlike the President’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, I believe Washington’s concept of “practical” reform is just plain wrong.

The president’s panel did not truly consider the national retail sales tax plan — FairTax — as outlined in the pending legislation H.R. 25 and its Senate companion, S. 25.

Panelists obviously didn’t read the thousands of Web site comments in support of massive reform, of a pro-growth and pro-savings economy and of the FairTax concept. The panel dared not offend the political status quo or the K Street lobbyists with its recommendations.

Real tax reform is for all Americans, not just those who reside within the Beltway.

It is time to end the practice of collecting federal revenues based on one’s ability to produce income. It is time to scrap a system that suffocates hard work, savings, investment and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives this economy.

Income-based revenue models naturally divide a society into us-versus-them categories and serve only to perpetuate economic class warfare among its citizens. Our current tax code will only continue to divide this nation. FairTax is a better way.

The FairTax plan is simple. It broadens the tax base; it’s highly visible; it’s progressive; and it’s fair to all citizens. Its passage would ensure us all the opportunity to pursue our uniquely American dreams — an impossibility with our current oppressive tax code.

The FairTax legislation deserves serious consideration and debate both in Congress and in the media.

Anything less is a disservice to all Americans.

JOSEPH BRYANT

Vestavia Hills, Ala.

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