- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2007

Better, not more, defense spending

In Tuesday’s Op-Ed column “Boost military spending,” Peter W. Huggins’ plea for increased military spending ignores the fact that the Pentagon’s budget is higher now, in real terms, than at any point since the end of World War II.

What’s more, President Bush’s proposed 2008 budget is likely to further increase defense spending at the expense of other domestic priorities. Just a small portion of the increase will go to counterterrorism initiatives that ensure our safety as a nation.

Less than a third of the $822 billion defense budget increase since September 11 has been allocated to fighting terrorists. Federal investment in aircraft and vehicles has more than doubled in the past five years. Clearly, most of this money has ended up in the pockets of defense contractors.

Congress should carefully scrutinize Mr. Bush’s 2008 budget proposal andassessthe amount allocatedfor weapons programs of dubious value. If wereduce wasteful spending on Cold War-era weapons that are of little strategic importance, we could reinvest a substantial portion of the savings in homeland security, deficit reduction and other social programs that would ensure real security for America.

VICE ADM. JACK

SHANAHAN

U.S. Navy (retired)

Ormond Beach, Fla.

HIV testing

An editorial last week occasioned by D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. Gregg Pane’s self-appointment as director of the Administration for HIV Policy and Programs failed to say much of anything about, or even mention by name, outgoing Director Marsha Martin (“D.C. and HIV,” Jan. 20).

Miss Martin should be applauded for instituting routine HIV testing in the District through the Come Together D.C.: Get Screened for HIV initiative. Making HIV testing part of routine health visits for everyone, not just those with perceived risk factors, can go a long way toward identifying the 25 percent of HIV-infected Americans who do not know they are infected. In 2004, President Bush spoke of the importance of this approach, and in 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promulgated guidelines to this effect.

The Come Together initiative has become a national and global model of responsible public health practice. Since its start in June 2006, more than 1,200 people have screened positive for HIV, and testing has become routine in the District’s detention facilities, detoxification centers and centers dealing with tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases. Howard University Hospital became the first hospital in the nation to implement routine screening throughout its health system. George Washington University Hospital has implemented routine screening in its emergency room. Georgetown University Hospital has added it to the services delivered on its mobile units.

Most important, GW, Georgetown, Howard, Gallaudet and American universities and the University of the District of Columbia all have added routine HIV screening to their student health services. Under Miss Martin’s leadership, the Administration for HIV Policy and Programs has delivered more than 10,000 rapid-test kits a month to more than 50 community partners, clinics, hospitals, managed-care organizations and private doctors’ offices. Last month, the city’s hospital association and medical society voted to endorse the campaign and support implementation of HIV name-based reporting.

The District’s new government must build upon this remarkable success and continue to implement routine testing, thereby turning back the epidemic in the city and maintaining its newly found leadership role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

DR. JOSEPH F. O’NEILL

President and chief executive officer

Immune Response Corp.

Carlsbad, Calif.

Roe v. Wade

Thank you for the editorial “Advocates for life,” (Tuesday), which provided an excellent perspective on the abortion issue and included the statement that pro-choice advocates “would surely point out that a majority of Americans still approve of Roe ….” As the editorial noted, pro-choice advocates, including most of the media, repeatedly make the same false claim.

Roe v. Wade and its companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, provided for abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth. However, when people are polled and asked if they support abortion on demand for the entire term of pregnancy, just about 25 percent say they support it.

If they are asked the question many poll-takers use, “The Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision permits abortion for the first three months of pregnancy. Do you support that decision?” the majority will answer, “yes.” The poll takers get the distorted, deceiving result they want for their clients’ propaganda.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the vast majority do not support Roe. The majority support restrictions that would eliminate 90 percent of all abortions and permit it only in the first three months of pregnancy.

BERNARD MCLOUGHLIN

Chairman

Right to Life of Montgomery County

Rockville

It’s not just the schools

If Mayor Adrian M. Fenty really wants to help the District’s children, there is a way to do it without taking over the public schools. Mr. Fenty could introduce a more holistic approach to children’s‘ development (“Pitched voices,” Editorial, Monday).

This approach would require the involvement of local community boards that control all the venues touching the lives of children — the schools, libraries, municipal recreation departments, health departments, juvenile law enforcement agencies and the like. Together, these boards would plan jointly and administer programming designed to serve children through the establishment of community centers.

These centers, located in school buildings, libraries and city playgrounds across the District, would operate during after-school hours, evenings, holidays and weekends. They would be virtual second homes with professional supervisory support staff plus well-trained and carefully screened volunteers from the neighborhoods the centers served.

An enriched environment would be fostered, including the offering of wholesome recreational activities, advanced and remedial education classes in the basics and also special courses in science and the arts to supplement the regular school curriculum. The scope would be limited only by the imagination of the planners and the extent of the dollar investment to support it all.

Today, with the rise of youth gangs, the expansion of the drug culture and the deterioration of the family, the idea deserves resurrection. It would be a sensible public investment when viewed as a setoff against the escalating costs of rehabilitating youthful lawbreakers and retraining people who were unsuccessful in school.

It would provide the loving, nurturing, affectionate environment that psychologists tell us children need to mature into healthy, responsible adults.

Implementing the holistic approach will take the kind of energetic leadership Mr. Fenty seems to exude. It also would be a lot more productive than the wearisome, know-nothing, “on the cheap” approaches to education reform some politicians and business leaders have pushed too often in past years. Moreover, it would result in a more cost-effective use of our public buildings and playgrounds that lie fallow too much of the time.

The District would be a lighthouse for communities across the nation with the implementation of the holistic approach to children. It’s up to you, Mr. Fenty.

THOMAS A. SHANNON

Attorney

Executive director emeritus

National School Boards Association

(retired)

Arlington

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