- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The idiot box meets the legal system

Hans Bader wrote in his Sunday letter, “Simply ridiculous,” that administrative law judge Roy Pearson’s $54 million lawsuit “is so ridiculous that it undermines confidence in the legal system” and that as a public employee, the judge is held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens.

Many won’t find it as ridiculous as Mr. Bader thinks, and their confidence in the legal system will have suffered little, if at all. Exposure to the television courtroom is how many people get all they know about our legal system.

Here in Virginia Beach, for example, we have a full 7½ hours of the stuff every weekday between 1 and 8 p.m. on just three broadcast television stations. On some of the shows, judges solicit opinions from their bailiffs and allow, encourage and occasionally participate in loud and lengthy arguments between the litigants. One brandishes a baseball bat. Frequently, the judge himself will be the least dignified person in the courtroom. That’s hard to do.

It’s no wonder that a $54 million lawsuit over a lost pair of pants doesn’t seem as preposterous as it would have just a few years ago.

WILLIAM RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach, Va.

Please, articulate, Mr. Bush

The discussion about immigration has mostly articulated the problems brought about by illegal immigration. Steve Chapman’s excellent Sunday Commentary column, “Immigration side-effects,” offers important information on the other side of the discussion and is very helpful in getting a more balanced picture. Mr. Chapman’s column is a voice of reason in the swirl of political rhetoric.

President Bush is pushing hard to get the current compromise immigration bill passed. It is very frustrating, however, that he has not articulated his reasons for supporting this controversial legislation. I would like to hear from the president why this is a good thing for our country.

If Mr. Bush can’t state his position cogently, delegate it to someone who can. Help us understand. A written statement from the White House outlining the reasons our country needs this legislation passed would be greatly appreciated.

CHRISTOPHER S. MOODY

Gaithersburg

Politics as usual?

Washington’s failed attempt to award dressed-up amnesty to the sizable chunk of Mexico’s population that is in this country illegally is perhaps more a reaction to the newfound resolve of other jurisdictions to take the lead in dealing with illegal immigration (“Bush urges Hispanics to speak up,” Page 1, Saturday).

Laws coming out of state legislatures and town councils targeting scofflaw employers and restricting illegal aliens’ access to taxpayer-funded benefits inconveniently threaten to demonstrate that, contrary to what Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and allies would have us believe, the flow of illegal aliens across our southern border can indeed be reversed.

Finally deprived of access to jobs and social services, the aliens’ own self-interest presents very convincing arguments for voluntary repatriation. Yet certain senators refuse to credit the obvious. Instead, the nation with the most compelling reasons to control rogue immigration is urged repeatedly to grant amnesty.

Is Washington’s own misrule what we’re really being asked to pardon?

RON GOODDEN

Atlanta

Who gets Jerusalem?

The headline “Divorce, Palestinian style” grabbed my attention because I always thought the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a divorce (Commentary, Saturday).

Long ago, the couple in question — Israel and Palestine — were forced into an arranged marriage by the international community. (As with many couples, things were better when they simply were living in sin.) Now that the relations have soured to the point of no return, instead of a divorce decree, the parties are being sent back to endless rounds of mediation. You know mediation isn’t going well when each side comes armed.

The only possible solution is for the international community to set up some kind of tribunal for the division of property. The biggest issue, as it is in a traditional divorce, is who gets primary physical custody of the parties’ only child: Jerusalem.

HIRBOD RASHIDI

Los Angeles

Know-how

“Necessary” and “sufficient” — another example of economics mixing itself up with mathematics, unfortunately to no avail. In the editorial “Call the clock” (June 13) Harvard economist Martin Feldstein says increased savings is a necessary but not sufficient condition for decreasing the trade deficit. Unfortunately, as the editorial points out in the last sentence, the trade deficit went up between 2001 and 2006 as the dollar was declining. Mr. Feldstein fails to find a sufficient condition to reduce the trade deficit.

The last time I looked, the United States had less than 40 percent of the world’s capital market, and it seems to be in a long, slow decline, percentage-wise. Could it be that Mr. Feldstein does not know what he is talking about?

When I graduated from engineering school 30 years ago, I was told that a useful half-life for an engineer was about seven years. In another words, if you did not continually educate yourself, you were obsolete in seven years. Based on my life’s experience, that half-life value has continued to decline. For economists, it must be half the value for engineers, at least based on the value of their analysis.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

Too good to be true

Donna Brazile’s Commentary column espousing the virtues of the current immigration bill sounds good until one steps back and examines the results the president’s solution promotes (“Test of persuasion,” yesterday). Miss Brazile says the immigration “reform” bill will give those already here reason to come out of the shadows in addition to having something to enforce our laws. Many of those who are here illegally may come out of the shadows, but many more may come here under cover of darkness and claim that they have been here all along.

No law guarantees enforcement. The last “immigration reform,” in 1986, was a dismal failure precisely because its enforcement measures were ignored, leading us directly to where we are today.

As far as the fixes Ms. Brazile says this will create, therein lies the rub. There is nothing so tenuous as a “comprehensive” piece of legislation. It is far better to take a multistage approach in which the most critical aspects are broached first, such as border security and enforcement of laws meant to discourage states and employers from giving aid and social services to those who came here illegally. That will, for the most part, alleviate the need for massive deportations and having to look for those who won’t come out of the shadows. Without a hope for jobs and free medical care, most of those who came here illegally will leave of their own accord.

If anyone wants to come to America, he or she needs to return to his or her native land and apply legally, not jump the line and sneak in like a common thief.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie