- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

D.C. gun rights

Regarding the article “Barry aims for gun-ban hiatus,” (Page 1, yesterday): It is good to see some prominent members of the D.C. Council finally admitting that the District’s 30-year ban on handguns has done nothing to keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals and that they are willing to do something about it.

The bill, introduced by council member and former Mayor Marion Barry, allows 90 days for citizens without any criminal record to register, and thereby legally possess, handguns in the city. It is a good first step toward making it possible for the law-abiding people of Washington to fight back against criminals.

Mr. Barry’s bill is by no means a complete restoration of the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Washington, but it suggests that those in charge of the city government realize that their constituents both want and have an absolute right to defend their own lives and property.

STEPHEN J. PETER

Burke, Va.

Palestinian peace

Contrary to Ziad Asali’s claims, there is less chance for an enduring peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs than in all of the years of conflict (“Towards Israeli-Palestinian peace,” Op-Ed, Monday).

With two radical groups in charge of the Palestinian Authority, there is no viable negotiating partner for Israel. Hamas is arguing for the immediate demise of Israel, and Fatah’s terrorist wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, is demanding the return of the so-called refugees from the 1948 war to Israel, a move that would create a Palestinian-Arab state that would replace Israel.

The so-called moderate Mahmoud Abbas, a denier of the Holocaust and a disciple of Yasser Arafat’s, is only a little less radical than the leadership of Hamas.

Until the Palestinian Arabs have convinced themselves that it is better to live adjacent to Israel with a state of their own rather than attempting to destroy the Jewish state, there is no chance for peace in the region.

NELSON MARANS

Silver Spring

Examine McCain’s claims

Sen. John McCain’s attack against politicians who are opposing a surge in troops and the Iraqi war needs to be examined (“McCain questions honesty of push for resolution,” Nation, Monday). He claims that anyone who votes against sending additional troops to Iraq is in fact displaying “a vote of no confidence in the mission and the troops.”

As for a vote of no confidence in the president, who is author of the mission, that occurred during the elections in November, when the Republicans were routed. It continues today, with President Bush’s approval ratings hovering around 30 percent. If that isn’t a vote of no confidence, I don’t know what is.

Mr. McCain’s claim that it is also a vote against our military is ridiculous and disingenuous. He claims the legislation is dishonest because “I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission and you don’t want to fund it … but yet you don’t take the action necessary to prevent it,” which I take to mean he thinks the politicians should simply vote to cut funding. I suggest that Mr. McCain was dishonest in his remarks. It is totally appropriate for the House and Senate to send our president a message, one he can heed or not at his own peril. However, if our military is unfunded, it is Mr. Bush’s responsibility to get it out of harm’s way. The warning is very clearly stated.

That anybody pays much attention to Mr. McCain is astounding. He made a great show of standing up to Mr. Bush regarding torture policies, and when declaring victory, he quickly capitulated and gave in to nearly every White House demand. It was an appalling farce.

These issues are all the more complicated because the American people see no side in Iraq that we can support. Do we support the suicide-bombing, decapitating Sunni? The power-drill-torturing, winner-takes-all Shi’ite? Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a thug, partisan and sectarian and is as corrupt as any leader with his ties to Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. He is exactly the opposite of what Iraq needs at this crucial time. He is first a Shi’ite and then an Iraqi. Where are the Iraqi leaders who believe in a coherent Iraq, regardless of religious affiliations?

A civil war is raging. The American people see nobody whom we can support. The elections in November were clear and unambiguous. We don’t support this war. It is time for Congress to implement policies that reflect American values for which they were elected in the first place.

Bring our soldiers home now.

GARY E. KAMINSKI

Buena Vista, Pa.

Cheaper prescriptions

A recent article (“Part D eyed in druggist drop-off,” Business, Friday) fails to recognize the important role played by pharmacy benefit managers in lowering drug costs and increasing access for seniors in Part D.

In only the first year of the program, Medicare prescription drug plans achieved higher-than-expected savings of 29 percent, and they are on track to save Medicare and its beneficiaries $469 billion during the 2006-2015 period, according to a recent analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Proven benefit-manager tools and competitive market forces also have resulted in the benefit costing $13 billion less than expected this year.

In this Congress, policy-makers from both sides of the aisle are looking for fiscally responsible and practical solutions about how best to make prescription drugs safer, more effective and more affordable. However, the independent pharmacist lobby instead continues to focus on an agenda that would mandate federal payment cycles and minimum generic dispensing fees, both of which would cost seniors and the Medicare program $55 billion in higher drug costs over the next 10 years.

All stakeholders in Part D should work together and continue building on the success of the program, which is enjoying high satisfaction among beneficiaries.

MARK MERRITT

President

Pharmaceutical Care

Management Association

Washington

There’s always the veto pen

Though the assumptions about tax revenue in President Bush’s current spending plan might be optimistic, the past couple of years have given us budget deficits far lower than earlier predictions even with the costs of fighting two wars (“Paulson defends budget, projected surplus,” Web site, Tuesday). The reason for this is clear to anyone who actually works for a living: Lower tax rates create the incentive to take risk and produce wealth.

When Democrats talk about a budget as “a missed opportunity” or “disconnected from reality,” what they really mean is that they read the election results as a mandate to increase the size and cost of government regardless of the broader economic consequences and the necessity to make drastic changes to entitlement programs.

The economy has done exceedingly well in the past few years because of tax cuts and despite Republicans generally abandoning principles of limited government.

Mr. Bush might not know much, but I believe he knows that. So, if the Democrats send up a budget that shows the lack of fiscal discipline that I would expect from Rep. Charles B. Rangel, I hope Mr. Bush finally finds the courage to use his veto pen for something important.

ROSS KAMINSKY

Nederland, Colo.

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