- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

Clarifying commission dissent to Florida voter discrimination findings

John R. Lott Jr.'s very good July 31 Op-Ed column, "On thin ice," contains a couple of important errors.

Mr. Lott says the majority on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights "decided two weeks ago to allow only the portions of the minority report that omitted any references to the research that I had done." In fact, the work of the minority commissioners Russell Redenbaugh and myself is not a "report," but a dissent. Indeed, to call it a "report" is to side with the majority's view that it is something other than a real "dissent" and thus legitimately can be ignored. The commission has never published separate reports; it always has published dissents, however.

Moreover, the commission has not "decided" anything yet. It has threatened to suppress the dissent, but the matter has yet to be resolved, and Mr. Redenbaugh and I strongly believe there are no legitimate legal grounds for refusing to publish it.

Finally, while it is true that the commission report was leaked to the New York Times (and The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as well), I do not believe only Republican members had to wait until the following day to get a copy. The problem was the leak, not discrimination on the basis of partisan affiliation.


ABIGAIL THERNSTROM

Commissioner

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Washington

Cozying up to Kazakhstan ignores state's undemocratic tendencies

In his July 30 Op-ed piece, "Crazy for Kazakhstan," former Clinton administration Energy Secretary Bill Richardson makes the case that the United States should cozy up to the government of this former Soviet republic to gain oil concessions. By prostrating ourselves before a regime as corrupt and undemocratic as that of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the United States would destroy its credibility as a beacon of freedom in the world.

Mr. Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan in the Soviet era, has shown little interest in creating the "modern, market-based economy" that Mr. Richardson claims already exists. In fact, the state sector in Kazakhstan produces about half of the country's total output. While the Kazakh economy has grown in recent years, this growth has been the result of high prices for Kazakh oil and gas, not any deep-seated reform of Kazakhstan's corrupt state sector.

Kazakhstan also has an abysmal human rights record, including a rigged 1999 presidential election that Mr. Nazarbayev claimed showed that Kazakhstan had only "allowed democracy to progress by 20 percent." The government of Kazakhstan has stoked extremism by arresting peaceful opponents and silencing independent media. It has joined China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan to form the "Shanghai Six," a quasimilitary alliance. These are hardly policies that will produce the stability that Mr. Richardson so highly values.


WILLIAM D. SHINGLETON

Senior fellow

National Defense Council Foundation

Washington

No conclusion yet on affect of hormone therapy on heart health

In your July 24 story "AHA says heart benefit no reason for estrogen," you report that the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a scientific advisory regarding hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and cardiovascular disease. Although your story was accurate, the headline was misleading and could concern women who already are confused about HRT's role in heart health. I would like to take this opportunity to put the headline into context for your female readers.

It is very important to clarify the distinction between treatment and prevention of heart disease. The advisory released by the AHA, in line with current best medical practice, simply clarifies that HRT should not be initiated for the sole purpose of treating heart disease.

Until the results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study at the National Institutes of Health are available in 2005, we cannot make any conclusions about the role of HRT in preventing heart disease. The nine-year WHI study is following more than 27,000 women and will examine, among other things, the role of HRT in heart disease. There is a body of evidence that HRT affects lipids and blood vessels in a positive manner.

I strongly encourage women to discuss their personal health history with their health care provider before deciding whether or not HRT is right for them.


DAVID F. ARCHER, M.D.

Director, Clinical Research Center

Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Virginia child-support regime's abuse of power goes unchecked

On June 17, you printed a column by Prof. Stephen Baskerville about child support (Commentary Forum, "Appetite for family destruction"). Virginia officials didn't take kindly to Mr. Baskerville's comments, so they kicked him off the child-support guideline review panel. So much for free speech.

The fact that Louis Rossiter, Virginia's child-support czar, is so open about why he is punishing Mr. Baskerville speaks volumes about the power and latitude child support officials have gotten. And they aren't afraid to wield it either.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey is concerned about cameras catching red light runners. But where is Mr. Armey's concern for privacy when the feds are combing through everyone's financial accounts and hiring data?


JOHN SMITH

Beverly Hills, Calif.


John Smith is a research analyst for the Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents' Rights.

Postal execs' 'performance' awarded as losses swell

In a July 30 letter critiquing your sound July 27 editorial, "Going postal bonus," the Postal Service's vice president for public affairs and communications correctly makes two semantic points, that postal "bonuses" are in fact designed as "pay for performance" incentives and that they are not guaranteed ("Postal execs are rewarded for performance"). However, the writer ignores the two most disturbing facts concerning these awards.

First, the performance-award formula was changed this year to remove income as a factor and replace it with productivity. Second, the productivity threshold to trigger these "earned" financial awards was set well below what the service would need to break even financially. In other words, the service can continue hemorrhaging money and postal executives can still receive "pay for performance" incentives as high as 25 percent of their salaries.

Sure enough, the service faces losses this year of $1 billion to $2 billion, with the prospect of even bigger losses next year and an anticipated postage rate increase of 10 percent to 15 percent. The letter writer astonishingly calls this success. Then what on Earth is failure?


CHARLES E. GUY

Adjunct fellow

Lexington Institute

Arlington


Charles E. Guy is the former director, Office of Economics, Strategic Planning, U.S. Postal Service.

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