'I'm prepared to vote no'
The suggestion, in Monday's editorial "Sen. Lott's foot-in-the-mouth problem," that I raise "the specter of reviving the Fairness Doctrine" has no basis in fact. In the Fox News Sunday interview cited in your editorial, I said: "I've been defended by talk radio many times, and I will support their rights to tell their side of the story, right, left or the middle, forever. I don't think this Fairness Doctrine that would try to require there be X amount on both sides is fair."
I point out this quote because in Monday's editorial you failed to mention the very quote that undermines the premise of your entire assertion that I, along with liberal special interests and Clinton White House staffers, support reviving this failed doctrine.
Last week, I used even harsher words when talking with Sean Hannity. I told him, "I never meant that we should have the Fairness Doctrine imposed to stifle people like you or anyone on talk radio."
The Fairness Doctrine is a non-starter. I believe the market will drive radio content, and it has driven liberal attempts at talk radio right out of business.
I also believe that the Senate has a responsibility to deal with big problems facing our nation, and immigration is one. The bill before the Senate has flaws, but it also contains key conservative provisions like ending chain migration, increasing border security, workforce enforcement, merit-based immigration and ending the lottery system that legally allowed a terrorist into our country because his name was drawn from a hat.
Those are all good reforms.
Now, the wheels may fall off by the week's end, but America deserves a Senate that is willing to debate and improve the status quo. I'm going to judge the bill in its entirety prior to my vote for final passage. And I'm prepared to vote no.
SEN. TRENT LOTT
'Dealing with' talk radio
Sen. Trent Lott recently said, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem" ("Conservatives rule talk radio," Page 1, Friday).
The last time I looked, we still had freedom of speech. The American public can read newspapers, and we have organizations that keep us posted on what is going on in the Senate and House. It is not just talk radio that keeps us informed. If we are always kept in the dark on the actions of our legislators, there is no telling what bills would be passed without the voters knowing.
The immigration bill currently on the table creates dozens of questions for the public: If there are 20 amendments to S.1348, why can't we hear what they are? Why not enforce the laws we already have? Will Border Patrol officers be able to do their jobs without being arrested? Will a fence be built? What will be the procedure for letting the 12 million illegal aliens become citizens?
The only reason illegal immigration is being talked about is because of talk-radio hosts and television hosts and the Minutemen who went to the border to reveal the problems we have there. It is also is because of people like Mark Williams, a talk-radio host, who went to Washington a couple of years ago and brought this issue to the politicians. This issue should have been dealt with after September 11, not six years later.
The simplicity of Newt Gingrich's advice is perplexing ("Warnings From Gaza," Op-Ed, yesterday). How could one "reinvigorate U.S. war policy" in the current political environment of the United States and Europe or the so-called West? It has become customary — even for Republicans — to blame the Bush administration for ineffective leadership or inadequate articulation of the war on terror, starting with Iraq. The United Kingdom has been doing the same to the Blair government. The cry is for another Winston Churchill or Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since the beginning, the Bush and Blair administrations have been saying that the war on terror is going to be long and must be fought with determination. It seems no one was listening.
Why is it "pathetic" to give support to the "moderate," secular Al-Fatah Palestinians now that they — and we, including Israel — are threatened by the much more fanatical Islamic Hamas? What other alternative was there? Sure, Al-Fatah has been corrupt, but if no support is given now, that would strengthen Hamas' grip on the West Bank as well.
Mr. Gingrich points to a number of "realities" the West will have to confront, but the West is not a homogenous conglomerate. Each of Mr. Gingrich's realities is well known and regularly commented on, but there is no broad political will in the multiple constituencies of the West to implement them. How can one expect to develop "new energy, new drive and new determination on our part" in the present Congress and the media?
Fighting corruption, creating property rights and empowering the poor are worthwhile objectives being pursued by myriad aid agencies and nongovernmental organizations, but successes in these areas, however small, are never reported. Mr. Gingrich says economist Hernando de Soto "will be vastly more effective ... than all the bureaucrats at AID and the United Nations combined" in designing programs to achieve those objectives. Mr. de Soto is a good thinker, but his and other advocates' ideas still need political will to be implemented.
How can the "U.N. camp system of socialism" be changed to one of promoting private enterprise and self-reliance? Can the hate education in madrassas be defeated? Who does Mr. Gingrich think can realistically implement all these ideas? Many have forgotten the severity of September 11 and are becoming more and more complacent. Nobody in the West wants to fight a long war, as Osama bin Laden correctly predicted. Perhaps it will take a more catastrophic September 11 to unite the people to fight for the survival of Western civilization. By then it may be too late.
Mr. Gingrich's column lacks the sense of implementability, which is expected from a leader to energize us. A new Churchillian leader does not seem to be on the horizon, here or in Europe, and we may well be "waiting for Godot."
Sunday's editorial "The Medicare/SS time bomb" was excellent in showing the total mismanagement or nonmanagement of both the Medicare and Social Security programs. The unfunded obligations of both programs are beyond comprehension and also far enough in the future for our present Congress and administration to ignore.
The Social Security program has a more subtle problem that no one seems to recognize. The editorial says President Bush and Congress are preparing to war over $23 billion in domestic discretionary spending in a 2008 fiscal-year budget that will approach $3 trillion. The projected Social Security surplus cash income for 2008 is $90.2 billion, which would cover the $23 billion almost four times. Why not use those funds?
The reason is that Congress has depended on this invisible (to most taxpayers) Social Security surplus cash income for more than 20 years to fatten its budget and then go into deficit spending for more money. This surplus will be decreasing until about 2017, when Social Security cash income will not cover Social Security costs. The problem is: How will the spendthrift Congress make up for the loss of this hidden Social Security income, much less save Social Security? Congress has fostered many fiscal time bombs and offered no solutions.
JOHN T. McVICKAR