- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001

Readers debate merits of Gregory nomination

Methinks you squeal a bit too much in your Dec. 29 editorial, "Roger Gregory, political prop."

That President Clinton ended up making a recess appointment of Mr. Gregory to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is, in the eyes of folks of dark skin color like me, no more outrageous than the fact that some folk (probably of the lighter-skin-hue variety) seem to believe that, in the entire region that is covered by that court, there are no qualified people of dark skin color.

If Justice Clarence Thomas had lived in the 4th Circuit area and if he had been nominated to the 4th Circuit, would he, with all his "strict constructionist" philosophy, have been "qualified enough" to suit the likes of you at The Washington Times?

It really is a crying shame that in 2001 we are still squabbling about "the first" when referring to people of African descent.

I am not all that impressed with the nominations of Colin Powell as secretary of state and Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser. They will be constant trophies for so-called conservative and "progressive" whites to fawn over, but their everyday influence on government will have very little direct effect on the vast majority of blacks in this country, and maybe in this world.

After all, what direct benefit to blacks in this world can they show from their previous service in high-level government positions? How much positive influence were they able to exert to better the lives and lot of folks of color anywhere in the world? Iraq's Saddam Hussein is still in power, fuel costs continue to soar; Cuba's Fidel Castro still reigns supreme, "free" Americans like me are denied the right to travel to, interact with and influence ordinary island residents or the island's Cuba policy in any way; the continent of Africa is still in flames; rebels virtually have Colombia paralyzed; even the neighboring West Indies continues to be a collection of virtual basket cases. I am hardly impressed with Mr. Powell's and Miss Rice's "strong influence on foreign policy" during previous incarnations in Washington.

I believe that having someone like Mr. Gregory on the court (for as long as he chooses to serve) is much more important for my dark skin pride and everyday survival in this nation than having Mr. Powell or Miss Rice sit at the right arm of President-elect George W. Bush.

If this is the only way for a Gregory to make it to that circuit bench, so be it.

JAIME E. SMITH

Miami

Readers debate merits of Gregory nomination

I am a member of the Virginia Bar and the son and grandson of federal judges. I do not know Roger Gregory, President Clinton's recess appointment to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but I am confident that as a Virginia attorney he is both a capable lawyer and a gentleman.

It is in this spirit that I am writing to suggest that he withdraw as a recess appointment to the 4th Circuit. It should not be a matter of race. If it is North Carolina's turn to have a judge on the 4th Circuit, it is North Carolina's turn. Period.

If Mr. Gregory lets himself play the role of a "race card pawn" of Mr. Clinton, he diminishes his own worth as well as that of the distinguished 4th Circuit. If Mr. Gregory is worthy of being a judge on the court, and I am assuming he is, does he want to be a member, not chosen for merit (Mr. Clinton has always wanted a black court member, so he says) but chosen primarily, according to Mr. Clinton, for his race?

By withdrawing, Mr. Gregory could prove to all that he believes he is entitled to this distinguished judgeship on merit alone. This act will place him morally first in line for the next Virginia judgeship and avoid the controversy over race he is likely to provoke in the Senate.

He could do more for colorblindness than Brown vs. Board of Education ever did. Even should he be selected for North Carolina's seat, he would always be remembered for the basis for his selection.

He should withdraw and make the Virginia Bar proud of his integrity and courage.

OREN R. LEWIS JR.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Interior conviction will strengthen Republican environment

Many thanks to columnist Paul Craig Roberts for his Jan. 1 Commentary column, "A critical component called conviction," about the necessity for "conviction" if an administration is both to succeed and to maintain an energized base of support. I hope all members of the new team read it and consider how important conviction is to their legacy.

When President-elect George W. Bush announced Gale A. Norton as his choice as secretary of the Interior, the announcement was bathed in unjustified platitudes about the Endangered Species Act and the commitment to "saving" things. That is like throwing a piece of meat to a wolf that has just killed your dog. You are sending the wrong signal.

Many of our environmental and economic problems stem from the Endangered Species Act and its regulatory expansion beyond its authors' wildest dreams. It has remained unauthorized by Congress for nine years while more and more money has been poured into it and more and more arbitrary animal groups are being listed, affecting greater and greater land areas and human activities. In short, the act needs significant amendment and tightening. Congress hasn't touched it for years because it is a higher-voltage "third-rail" than Social Security. Now the new administration starts out with an ode to more of the same.

To say the act needs modification is not to be an environmental rapist or to be "against" the act. To identify problems and openly debate them is the hallmark of a free people and the way Mr. Roberts rightly says you prove that Republicans "make a difference." Using it as a "feel good" frosting just makes it harder to approach realistically. Mrs. Norton appears to be a solid choice; she should not be hamstrung by speech writers and people working on the next campaign.

JIM BEERS

Centreville

Review of Gertz book is 'clarion call' to U.S. leaders

Steven W. Mosher's Jan. 2 book review, "The New Cold War," about Bill Gertz's "The China Threat," is a clarion call to our new leadership in Washington. The volumes of evidence pointing to inevitable conflict with mainland China cannot be disputed.

Communist China makes no secret of its hostile intentions toward the United States and its strategic partners in Asia, specifically Taiwan, as shown by its strategic "white papers."

Unfortunately, this kind of information has been downplayed or dismissed in the mainstream news media. I began to notice a disturbing trend here in New York City while watching the pandemonium in the streets of Chinatown in the wake of the takeover of Hong Kong by China in June 1996. I watched as tens of thousands of Chinese Americans filled the streets of lower Manhattan, celebrating and lighting fireworks. Meanwhile, network news anchors Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and company waxed ecstatic about the historic turn of events. They gleefully proclaimed the end of Britain's "colonization" of Hong Kong and the return of that once successful and free country to "the people" of China.

I wonder if they will be as gleeful in their reportage of the bloody takeover of Taiwan when that happens.

In this kind of atmosphere, in which the average American is misinformed and cowed into believing it's "racist" to think of China as an enemy, it is difficult to point out the danger, regardless of the evidence. China's own generals boast about the coming war and their optimism about prevailing and creating a Chinese hegemony.

One hopes the new administration, free from the corruption of President Clinton's China legacy, will look at this situation with the immediacy it deserves and acknowledge its strategic import.

I am heartened by a speech President-elect George W. Bush gave on the campaign trail when he said that America should stop looking at China as a strategic partner and start looking at them as a strategic competitor.

For our sake and that of the free world, let's hope he means it.

BRIAN PICARDI

Brooklyn, N.Y.


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