- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

University free speech defenders are distinguished but few

Nat Hentoff laments that no professors at the University of Wisconsin at Madison "had spoken in support of the student papers courage in wielding the excalibur of the First Amendment" when the paper, the Badger Herald, printed an ad criticizing the idea of reparations for slavery ("No amendment against offense," Commentary, April 2).

While John Nichols, editorial page editor of the Capitol Times in Madison, Wis., did not know of any such professors, there was at least one. I am happy to report that political science professor Donald Downs wrote a letter to the editor in support of the Badger Herald. Mr. Downs subsequently took out an ad in the Badger Herald offering his services to the paper should they be required for the paper´s defense of the First Amendment.

Regardless, the fact that I work for the Badger Herald and still only know of one professor who spoke out publicly is very disappointing. However, there may be hope. The Badger Herald has been swamped with letters to the editor, the vast majority of which are in support of the editorial board´s defense of the First Amendment.


BENJAMIN J. THOMPSON

Opinion columnist

The Badger Herald

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Madison, Wis.

Reduce government power and contributions will lose their influence

Sen. John McCains crusade to pass new laws to limit campaign contributions in an effort to reduce the influence of money on our political process will not work ("McCains reform measure survives," March 30). The proposals, replete with limits on free speech, are truly frightening.

As always, the politicians are missing the true source of the problem. As long as government has the power to affect so much of our lives and force people and groups to do things that they otherwise would not do, that power will be bought.

Libertarians offer the only real solution to this problem: Remove that which is lusted for in the first place, government power. The 10th Amendment seriously limits the activities of the federal government, and if we followed it, politicians would not have the ability to run your life, special interests would have to persuade rather than use government force, and corporations would be beholden only to the wants and needs of the consumer.


JOHN MUNCHMEYER

Charlottesville

Yugoslavia has not met conditions for aid

In the rush to get $50 million in U.S. taxpayers money to Belgrade, the State Department obviously has convinced the Bush administration that ignoring congressionally mandated deadlines and conditions is OK because requiring "perfect performance" from the Serbs is unrealistic. Perfect performance, by States definition, seems to be anything that requires Belgrade to do much more than send a solitary Bosnian Serb mayor to The Hague and jail the "Butcher of the Balkans" on charges of white-collar corruption.

As your March 30 editorial "Aid reformers, not Milosevic" makes very clear, the criteria for the administration´s certification of compliance includes the absolute requirement that Milosevic and other indicted persons be physically turned over to The Hague. That is something President Vojislav Kostunica has unequivocally and consistently refused to do. Other provisions, written into the aid appropriation and signed into law by Congress, specify that in order to be certified as cooperating, Belgrade must give up control of its puppet government and army in the Republika Srpska as specified in the Dayton accords.

As of March 31, no Yugoslav citizen indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal for Yugoslavia has been turned over by the Kostunica government. As of March 31, Belgrade still keeps its own government and police and a large army in Republika Srpska. That Bosnian Serb army, which protects the gains of ethnic cleansing, has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the international community or to integrate itself into the federation´s armed forces. As of March 31, that refusal continued to violate terms of the Dayton accords.

Human Rights Watch and other international humanitarian organizations have found that the current action against Mr. Milosevic is not a basis for certification. So, perhaps the State Department can explain to the world exactly what Belgrade has done to meet the requirements for direct U.S. aid that Congress laid out last October?


FRANK BROZOVICH

President

The Croatian American Association

Seattle

Limit terms, not contributions

According to Doug Bandow, Americans "spend too little on campaigns" not too much ("Stifling free speech," Commentary, March 25). I agree.

The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. But only those who own or control the press have such freedom. Since most of the press is known for its liberal bias, those of us who have conservative views have been able to express ourselves vicariously through contributions to political parties and Political Action Committees that promote our positions. A ban on soft money would prevent many of us ordinary citizens from participating in this important part of the political process.

Mr. Bandow says, "the biggest campaign problem is the dominance of government by a permanent political class." As one solution, Mr. Bandow briefly mentions term limits, which career politicians of both parities resist "to the death." Still, term limits would solve the campaign reform issue without limiting campaign spending and free speech.

Several years ago, there was considerable public support for term limits. Several states passed laws limiting congressional terms only to have them declared unconstitutional. Interest in term limits waned after Republicans won control of both houses of Congress. Nevertheless, it is time for us to reconsider limiting Congressional terms for the "permanent political class."

The main argument against term limits has been that they would deprive the political process of experienced legislators. Most plans for term limits have restricted House members to six years, but allowed senators twelve years. While two terms (12 years) seems adequate for senators, three terms (six years) for House members is not nearly long enough.

A more reasonable plan would permit six consecutive terms (12 years) for House members and two consecutive terms (12 years) for senators, with a total of no more than 30 years combined incumbency in Congress.

The key word is "consecutive." Exceptional legislators could be advanced from House to Senate or be reelected to the same office after an absence of two or more years. This hiatus would break up self-serving political machines while allowing exceptional leaders an opportunity to serve longer in Congress. One might recall that Claude Pepper, after having been a senator, later served in the House.


CHARLES F. GIESWEIN

Silver Spring

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