- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2001

John Ashcroft deserves our respect

With the election finally settled and the next administration getting down to business, it will be interesting to see how well Democrats meet their promise to work in a bipartisan spirit. Evidence to date suggests that that promise, like most Democratic promises, is all fluff. Already Democrats are lining up against certain Bush Cabinet selections, most notably the nomination of Sen. John Ashcroft for attorney general, with their tried and true tactic: the ugly charge of racism.

Mr. Ashcroft has supported black appointments in many areas of both federal and state government. As governor of Missouri, among other achievements, he appointed the first black to the state's court of appeals. Mr. Ashcroft's apparent crime has been opposition to the nomination of one black Missouri judge to the federal bench. He supported 26 of President Clinton's 28 black judicial nominees but refused to support this one because the judge took an extremist, activist position in opposing the death penalty for a white cop killer convicted of multiple ruthless murders.

Like most charges of racism leveled against Republicans, this one is a patent absurdity. As we know from endless examples, however, the mere truth has never stopped Democrats from using the race card, especially when it might serve to defeat an appointment they oppose.

The Democrats need to get a grip. Most of us are not fooled by this despicable, self-serving tactic. It sets race against race and ethnic group against ethnic group, with Democrats offering themselves as avenging angels. If race relations have soured over the past 30 years, it is more because Democrats repeatedly have used such tactics to sow mistrust and discontent than because of any real increase in racism.

The issue of race relations is a delicate one in which passions often substitute for clear thinking. If Democrats really want to contribute to positive change in this area, they need to stop using the racism tactic and start offering some workable solutions.

JAMES M. SIMPSON

Alexandria

Bullies of the road

Your Jan. 4 editorial "Downsized cars, downsized safety," is misleading and inaccurate in its depiction of larger trucks and sport-utility-style vehicles as providing a level of automotive safety and personal security unseen in subcompact vehicles.

It is unfortunate that you decry both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Sierra Club as part of some Washington establishment bent on taking away the American passion for tank-size automotive monstrosities. You state that the EPA and other organizations put priority on saving gas rather than saving lives, but the fact remains that these oversize vehicles are no safer than a small-to-midsize compact or sedan.

Take, for instance, the recent Firestone tire problems on the Ford Explorer or the fuel-tank explosions caused by Isuzu Trooper accidents. Both of these vehicles are extremely popular sport utility models, and both have been known to have serious problems resulting in recalls.

Other models, of which there are hundreds these days, have had various problems with power-steering components, brake handling, air-bag miscues and rollovers in collisions. You call these cars safe?

Compact cars and midsize sedans are known for their performance, safety features and excellent handling. Smaller cars, while having superior miles-per-gallon ratios, still have fantastic acceleration ability. These aren't Pintos or Gremlins anymore.

Rarely does one hear of a Toyota Corolla rolling over after being sideswiped or a Ford Probe exploding after an impact. It is misleading and irresponsible to argue that larger cars are safer cars, and that argument only causes people to want bigger and bigger cars, thereby increasing the danger to those who still drive small cars.

What kind of a chance does a person driving a Geo Prism have in a head-on accident with someone driving a massive Ford Excursion? It would be nice to live in a world where we could drive nice, big luxury cars and have not a care in the world about fuel economy or the safety of those around us. The truth, however, is that we live in a world where gas prices are soaring and fuel reserves are depleting.

Do yourself a favor; trade in the behemoth, buy a compact, and you'll start seeing at everyone's level again.

J.L. RIBAS

Washington

No more immigrants, please

Regarding your Jan. 4 article "U.S. grows with residents born outside its border": When one out of every 10 persons in the United States has been born outside the country, more is at stake than simply statistics. We are experiencing a major demographic change that will have a heavy impact on future generations.

As a native-born American, I am angry that this change took place without any dialogue or consensus. Just when were we asked whether we wanted a 10 percent increase in our numbers? Years ago, the emphasis was on zero population growth and environmental conservation.

Our numbers may soar, but our resources are constant. Furthermore, if immigration is allowed to continue at present rates, what does that mean for our children and grandchildren? It's about time the impact of the burgeoning foreign-born population is assessed. If this human groundswell was planned and projected, apparently no effort was put in place to conserve resources, shore up infrastructure or foster assimilation.

I fail to see these new statistics as positive. I would applaud an immediate immigration moratorium and stricter enforcement of deportation laws. We are failing to address an enormous cultural event that is occurring before our eyes. This is dereliction of duty. Hopefully, the Bush administration will make population growth and immigration a "front burner" issue.

ROSALIND ELLIS

Baltimore

The Ashcroft silver lining

On Nov. 8, Sen. John Ashcroft awoke to learn of his defeat (by a dead man, Mel Carnahan) for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Democratic Gov. Roger Wilson had already pledged to appoint the deceased's wife to the full Senate term should a majority of Missouri's voters enact such a travesty.

A gracious, humble Mr. Ashcroft promptly conceded victory to the governor and his senatorial protege. Jean Carnahan was designated to serve six years as the junior senator from Missouri, having never previously run for or held any elected office. This shameful folly by a majority of the voters of Missouri lent an entirely new meaning to that state's motto: "Show me." What was "shown" in this instance was neither pleasing nor wise.

Thanks to the rancorous absurdity of a majority of voters in a single state, however, a political miracle has occurred. The defeat of a highly capable and honorable sitting senator has been converted by an astute President-elect George W. Bush and his advisers into a veritable godsend for American justice.

Should Mr. Ashcroft have won re-election to the Senate, it is highly unlikely Mr. Bush would have tapped him to serve as the next attorney general. If Mr. Bush had done so, a Republican Senate majority of 51-49 would have been sacrificed because Missouri's governor had made eminently clear his intention to name a Democrat to the open seat. Suddenly, however, Missourians solved the problem.

Despite Mr. Ashcroft's excellent qualifications and sterling character, partisan vitriol will emerge during committee and Senate confirmation hearings. Activist hypocrites such as Sen. Patrick Leahy will inflict tasteless attacks upon the nominee. Mr. Leahy is well-remembered for his bitter, vengeful attacks against Justice Clarence Thomas as the latter endured an ugly inquisition before his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. A few other rigidly partisan and equally vindictive Democratic senators will join Mr. Leahy on the low road in attempting to defile Mr. Ashcroft. It is hoped that these few muckrakers will be exposed swiftly for what they are, Mr. Ashcroft will be confirmed promptly as attorney general, and our badly dishonored and corrupt Department of Justice will see a quick return to the rule of law, principle, honor and respectability.

In unseating one of America's finest senators, Missouri has given us a superb U.S. attorney general.

Is this a great country or what?

RICHARD BOWERS

Sarasota, Fla.


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