- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Warm but not fuzzy

On Friday’s Op-Ed page, Sara Fritz had warm words of praise for Sen. George Allen’s evolving sensitivity for blacks (“The George Allen example”). I have a different view. Mr. Allen has been a consistently strong advocate for guest-worker programs. His support for them is documented on the Web site www.betterimmigration.com, and I heard Mr. Allen tout his support for guest workers at several events I attended last fall.

However, guest workers are hurting the economic leverage of all poor Americans, regardless of race. In fact, a story in The Washington Times several weeks back told of 70 “predominantly black” workers called on to repair the damage from Hurricane Katrina who were let go when the guest workers showed up (“Arrival of aliens ousts U.S. workers,” Page 1, April 10). So even as Mr. Allen is offering soothing words of sympathy to blacks, he is taking food off their dinner tables.

RAY PICKLES

Vienna

A house divided …

I can’t believe all the whining about President Bush’s choice to head the CIA (“Bipartisan caution over CIA nominee,” Page 1, Monday). Personally, I think Gen. Michael Hayden is an excellent choice to run the agency. I think we need someone like Gen. Hayden to clean house.

The CIA is a house divided against itself, with Clinton sleepers who have been characterized as a “shadow government” leaking secrets to embarrass the Bush administration and undermine the war on terror.

They justify these leaks by saying the American people need to know. I don’t want to know what our cops, our soldiers and our spies are doing to keep us safe. I have faith in our troops and people like Gen. Hayden.

We are at war with a foe that would kill every one of us if given the chance. The fact that liberal politicians, liberal newspapers and liberal intelligence agents would risk our lives for some pathetic temporary political advantage makes me sick. They literally would walk over dead bodies to win back the House and Senate and run them like the liberals run the California State Legislature — poorly.

MICHAEL A. PACER

Helendale, Calif.

Connecting fast-food dots

Elizabeth Whelan’s Commentary column (“Slow burn on fast food,” Saturday) crystallizes the ongoing controversy regarding our nation’s obesity epidemic. As she states, this is indeed a complex problem, and it will require complex solutions. In her commentary, however, Miss Whelan unfortunately discounts any changes by fast-food establishments as potential contributions to such solutions.

If at all concerned about the health of our nation, Miss Whelan should be eminently concerned with the eating habits of our society. Indeed, childhood obesity has grown from less than 5 percent in 1980 to more than 16 percent today. Seventy percent of Americans will die of a chronic disease — such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease — that is closely linked to eating habits.

When Miss Whelan compares a fast-food meal to a burger meal at home, she misses the larger point: We should be educating all Americans to eat healthier foods, whether in the home or outside of it. The advantage of cooking in the home is that because of nutrition labels, individuals and families can know what they are eating.

However, Americans are spending almost 50 percent of their food-related expenses on restaurant meals. Most of the time, these meals are eaten in the absence of any nutritional information. Would it not be better to insist on personal responsibility if we actually gave people the knowledge to make an informed decision?

Personal responsibility is important, but it becomes difficult — if not impossible — when restaurants refuse to disclose the contents of their meals at the point of sale. I firmly believe that all restaurants should be able to sell their products. However, as one step in combatting America’s expanding waistline, eateries such as McDonald’s or Burger King should make the nutritional information about the burgers and fries available to consumers before those consumers make their purchase. This is not the only action we need, just one of many.

Unfortunately, in Miss Whelan’s eagerness to debunk Eric Schlosser, she cavalierly pardons fast-food restaurants from playing any role in the current obesity crisis. If consumers — parents and children alike — were informed of the nutritional contents of fast-food meals, perhaps writers such as Mr. Schlosser and other health advocates would not have to take it upon themselves to warn children of the dangers of too much fast-food.

PAUL TIBBITS JR.

Washington

Journalists and free speech

Nat Hentoff apparently believes that there are no laws governing journalists and that freedom of speech is absolute (“Chilling free speech,” Op-Ed, Monday). Mr. Hentoff, of course, has a conflict of interest because he is a journalist and his opinion will be biased in favor of all journalists. However, what is in play here isn’t simply the claimed violation of rights but matters of national security.

America was founded on the principle of free speech, but with that right also comes responsibility. Not all speech is protected; an example would be causing panic in a theater by yelling “Fire” when there is none. Likewise, it is against the law to print lies about people that damage their reputations; the phony memos concerning President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service put out by CBS News is a recent example.

Unfortunately, journalists see themselves not as American citizens but as observers and chroniclers of events. They believe they are a special class of Americans, claiming the right to unbridled exercise of free speech without the responsibilities of citizenship. Wolf Blitzer of CNN was in Baghdad when the first Gulf War began and refused to provide our military with information he had on the enemy, claiming that as a journalist, he could not take sides.

We have a word that describes the behavior of those journalists in Mr. Hentoff’s Op-Ed column; we call it treason. Treason is defined as, “Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.” I hope the government makes an example out of the traitors whose journalism has weakened our national security.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

The wage charade

The article “Immigrants and wages” (Commentary, Monday) is a perfect example of the fact that many employers are using illegal alien workers to keep wages low. In dozens of cases, there is evidence that there is an ample supply of labor, but still employers claim a shortage of labor even though wages are dropping.

In industries such as meatpacking, construction, food processing, manufacturing and others, well-paying jobs are being turned into low-wage, entry-level jobs that are filled by illegal aliens to fatten the profits of greedy employers. At the same time, taxpayers are asked to subsidize these fat cats by picking up the tab for the health care, education and social benefits for their illegal-alien employees.

It’s about time we call a halt to this charade, which is undermining our nation.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

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