- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bundling vs. a la carte

I am disappointed that Paul Weyrich, a familiar conservative and respected name, is promoting sweeping new regulations on an entire industry (“A la carte cable programming needed,” Op-Ed, Monday). Virtually every free-market think tank and advocacy group in Washington opposes such regulation, and every free-market economist who has researched this pricing scheme has determined that consumers’ cost per channel and overall bill will increase.

With four young children of my own, I can respect Mr. Weyrich’s battle against violence and sex on television, but government-mandated a la carte programming won’t prop up existing family friendly channels, nor will it spawn new ones. The very broadcasters Mr. Weyrich would like to support — religious, educational and minority — are all opposed to these pricing proposals. They understand that being unbundled from more profitable channels could mean their end.

It’s simple. A la carte is not a conservative idea. It is the worst sort of big-government intervention, the type of big-government thinking that led to the Republicans’ loss of their congressional majority.

JASON WRIGHT

President

Institute for Liberty

Fairfax

A sea apart

In response to Oren Spiegler’s Monday letter “Bush-Cheney war plans,” I would like to note that it’s been the Navy’s consistent mission since its inception to defend freedom of the seas. Vice President Dick Cheney was simply reiterating what has been a long-standing policy of the Navy — a policy that is backed up by military force when necessary, such as in the early 1980s, when Libya attempted to claim all of the Gulf of Sidra as part of its territorial waters. This is particularly germane given the recent illegal capture of British sailors outside Iranian territorial waters. The United States, in response to Iran’s growing willingness to intercede in Iraq and violate anyone’s freedom on the seas, is simply reminding the world of our resolve. Whether against Iran, Libya or anyone else, freedom of commerce on the open seas will be enforced.

Mr. Spiegler’s claim that our war was “ill-planned” seems to ignore the overwhelming success of the initial operation. It has been a consistent U.S. policy over the past three presidential administrations to hold Iraq accountable for its armistice agreement. President Bush is just the third following such a policy, yet in the wake of the changing international paradigm of a post-September 11 world, accepting the status quo was no longer acceptable in a country trying already to kill Americans. It seems that those who openly criticize the administration’s decision to go into Iraq ignore the reality that we had been working the diplomatic tack with Iraq for 12 years, to no avail.

Endless talk with continued open defiance rightly resulted in our removing a regime that wanted to kill Americans. Regardless of whether it was President Clinton or President Bush, they both were reading from the same intelligence. The growing threat even led to multiple military strikes ordered during Mr. Clinton’s administration. I’m confident that we would have acted militarily against Iraq regardless of the administration in place.

SERGE WING

Alexandria

Culture makes a difference

Alex Gerber (“The gun culture,” Commentary, Sunday) decries the “absurd contention” that if some Virginia Tech students had been armed there would have been far fewer victims. Yet recent examples abound in which private citizens with firearms have stopped unhinged murderers, such as at Appalachian School of Law and public schools in Pearl, Miss., and Edinboro, Pa. It is no coincidence that mass murderers typically choose “gun-free zones” rather than shotgun ranges for their crimes.

No one is advocating the arming of all students, just that we refrain from disarming those who have legally qualified for concealed-carry permits. The empirical evidence refutes Mr. Gerber’s premise: States that have enacted concealed-carry laws saw deaths and injuries from multiple-victim public shootings fall an average of 78 percent, according to American Enterprise Institute scholar John R. Lott, writing in the National Review in March 2005.

Mr. Gerber deliberately cherry-picks data to mislead, using dubious statistics for “firearm murder rates” in Britain and Japan. Why not total murder rates? And why single out Britain and Japan? Mexico and Russia have draconian gun laws and very high violence rates. On the other hand, Switzerland has a much higher gun ownership rate than the United States and a much lower violence rate.

Almost all of the statistical disparities can be explained by cultural differences. Even so, the homicide rate in Japan (with its draconian gun laws) is nearly twice the level of the homicide rate of Japanese-Americans in the United States, where guns are readily available. The homicide rate among Americans of British descent similarly is far lower than the homicide rate in Britain. By 1996, the homicide rate in England was 132 percent higher than it had been before the original gun ban was enacted. All this is compiled by the Gun Owners of America, using statistics from government studies, news reports and similar sources.

Mr. Gerber also ignores the mass murder of disarmed citizens by governments in Europe, Africa and Asia, asserting that fears of such events are “germane” only to the 1700s. Look at the math: On average, European governments have murdered about 400,000 of their own citizens per year over the past 70 years. Even the highest single-year tally of U.S. murders over the past 70 years shows that gun-controlled Europe experiences 16 times as many murders as the United States, according to Gun Owners of America. Five thousand years of recorded human history prove that victim disarmament (e.g., “gun control”) emboldens predators — locally, nationally and internationally.

MICHAEL CRAWFORD

Great Falls

Aiding Colombia

In the past month, The Washington Times has twice printed editorials criticizing Democrats for asking questions about the infiltration of the Colombian government by paramilitary drug traffickers (“Unblock aid to Colombia,” April 22, and “Democrats, diplomacy and Colombia,” Tuesday).

This unfolding scandal links members of the Colombian Congress and other government officials, including the president’s chief of intelligence, to the hemisphere’s most brutal narco-terrorist organization. It confirms what many have said for years, but about which The Washington Times and a rubberstamp Congress were silent. While Colombia’s sluggish judicial system is finally beginning to investigate, Colombian authorities have publicly accused those who have sought to shine a spotlight on this sordid history as being “friends of the guerrillas.” After $5 billion in U.S. aid and no change in the availability or price of cocaine on America’s streets; after a pattern of collusion by the Army with paramilitaries; and after continued impunity for atrocities against civilians, it is long overdue for Congress to apply some accountability to how U.S. aid is used. And as part of this oversight, it is not too much to insist on assurances that Americans’ tax dollars are not going to those with links to paramilitaries.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY

Chairman

State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee

Washington

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