- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Lack of Democratic leadership

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. has fingered the problem with the Democratic Party (“Political identity crisis,” Commentary, Friday). It is the abysmal leadership, starting with Howard Dean, an unguided rocket, and extending through hapless Harry Reid and the remarkably ineffectual Nancy Pelosi.

We voters are often a fickle lot. Though we tolerate diet directives that change course every few years, channel-surf endlessly and have attention spans on the level of fruit flies, we will draw a line when it comes to national leadership. We prefer adult supervision to puerile pontificating. We are mindful that weakness emboldens our enemies and that in the Strong Man competition, Democrats are badly wanting. They are like the 99-pound weakling in the old Charles Atlas ads.

Memo to the Democratic Party: As Socrates advised, know thyself. Otherwise, reach for the hemlock, because that is where the party is heading.

Now, where is my remote?

PAUL BLOUSTEIN

Cincinnati

In the beginning…

The letters “The science of intelligent design” (Sunday), responding to Tom Bethell’s Commentary column “Banned in biology” (Dec. 26), denounce the concept of intelligent design because they say it is not science or at best it’s bad science.

The obvious inference is that evolution is science, and it’s good science. That’s interesting to me because evolution proposes, as a theory of the beginning of life, that non-living matter changed into living organisms through a natural process. Many accept that theory as scientific fact in spite of the fact that science has proved that only life begets life (the law of biogenesis). Is that really good science?

Suppose someone proposed a theory that lead could be changed into gold by some natural process. Would that be considered good science without any proof?

Unless and until proponents of evolution can bring scientific proof, not just consensus, that life was formed from non-living matter through some natural process, the debate will continue. Why not just admit and teach that science is unable to explain the origin of life?

DANIEL P. McKIM

Springfield

Wake up, Hollywood

I love reading Wesley Pruden’s columns, and “Horror in Hollywood — it’s not a movie” (Friday) hit home with me. Hollywood is crying the blues because attendance at movies has gone down. Hello, Hollywood. Do you ever stop and wonder why? Do you ever look at the horrible TV ads that promote upcoming movies? They turn you off right there. Do you really know what it costs for an evening out at the movies and maybe a bag of popcorn? It is unreasonable. I could go on and on as to why attendance is down.

There is an age group that Hollywood does not cater to at all. That is the older senior citizens, and my husband and I are in that group. I am talking about the over-70 age group. There are millions of us out here who would like nothing better than to spend an afternoon at a good and decent movie. We like to have lunch and go to the movies or go to the movies and then have an early dinner.

However, there are no movies worth the price that we care to see. Most of us are not interested in the R-rated movie category. We don’t care for the loud and absurd violence that is so loud that even the very hard of hearing can’t stand the films. We don’t care for all the sex that is portrayed. We have been there and done that. The filthy language used sure doesn’t appeal to most of us.

Hollywood, you are missing out on a great audience out here that you don’t give a hoot about when making movies. We find our best evenings of entertainment are at home watching old movies on TCM or AMC and having a bag of popcorn along with them. We recently watched “Going My Way” and “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and even stayed up past our regular bedtime and enjoyed every minute of those old movies. Wake up, Hollywood, and try making a movie now and then for us “old folks.”

CAROLYN WRAY

Locust Grove, Va.

Safer combat vehicles

The article “Deadly attacks prompt safer combat vehicles” (Page 1, Thursday) mentions the original purpose of the Hummer. It is important for people to know that the Hummer never was intended to be an armored vehicle. It’s a utility vehicle, a replacement for a Jeep or Suburban, and was not designed to handle explosions or anything more than light-arms fire.

The real question is why the U.S. government waited until now to procure and use more heavily armored mine-resistant vehicles in guerrilla-infested environments such as Iraq.

PAUL BLASE

Alexandria

Time for tort reform

The article “Magnets for tort lawsuits criticized” (Nation, Sunday) pointed out that the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) has criticized certain states and counties because their courts’ plaintiff-friendly disposition and readiness to try cases concerning situations that occurred outside their jurisdiction make them judicial paradises for unscrupulous lawyers.

This is just another in a long list of blatant examples of how the legal system has achieved a dangerous aristocratic status within our society. It is common knowledge that lawsuit abuse is rampant in almost every segment of our society. It amounts to a 5 percent tax on just about everything we buy.

However, the most worrisome thing is that the opportunistic lawyers who exploit the law seem to do so with impunity. Because the public outcry is not yet strong enough, they will just continue the abuse until they are denounced officially and exposed for the opportunists they are. Pretending to be advocates of the public good and protectors of individual rights just doesn’t ring true anymore.

My experience as a physician is with medical malpractice lawsuits, but the underhanded methods used by dishonorable personal-injury lawyers in malpractice law are similar to the questionable tactics used by many of their colleagues in other areas of personal injury law.

They include the contingency fees tied to the prospects of a high payout. This perverse incentive encourages lawyers to inflate the monetary damages as high as possible, using hyperbole and courtroom dramatics.

In addition, the use of expert witnesses is of questionable value because the witnesses are highly paid by the lawyers, and thus their testimony risks being tainted and warped by the size of the fees they are receiving.

Finally, many states have so-called “offers of judgment” or “offers of compromise,” which are financial penalties that encourage the parties to settle out of court. This is good, but the rule places the defendant at a great disadvantage. If the offer works against him, he could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions. However, if the offer works against the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s loss is just a few hundred dollars.

Though the states have variations in their approaches, the point is that, certainly in medical malpractice, the system is corrupt and the opportunists, like pirates, continue to plunder with impunity.

Clearly, the time has come for tort reform. There is a fine line between democracy and totalitarianism. Let’s be sure it is not crossed by those who profess to protect individual rights while they terrorize the rest of us with the fear of frivolous lawsuits.

DR. EDWARD J. VOLPINTESTA

Bethel, Conn.

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