- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

Carter calls the kettle black

Former President Jimmy Carter, who is criticizing President Bush even saying that the idea of a national missile defense is "ridiculous" is the same man who:
Thought he could get the Soviets to pull out of Afghanistan by not letting our athletes play with their athletes at the 1980 Olympic Games.
Responded to the Iranian hostage crisis by not lighting the National Christmas Tree.
Signed a treaty giving away the Panama Canal.
Mr. Carter presided over what probably was the most dismal presidency in recent history. A nice man he probably is, but a president he definitely was not. He finally has found his niche, but he should have learned long ago to avoid politics.

ROBERT L. DI STEFANO
Abingdon, Md.

Professor's good sense gets him kicked off Virginia child-support panel

Howard University professor Stephen Baskerville, whose column "Appetite for family destruction" appeared in your June 17 Commentary Forum, is a man of integrity known nationwide as one of the most knowledgeable persons about problems in child access and custody proceedings. Any group that wishes to learn where flaws exist in these areas will seek him out, as he is one of the few willing to stand up to the intimidation tactics of those who wish to maintain the failed system.
Apparently, officials at the highest levels in Virginia are resisting needed changes. This is no small matter, as many of the laws and practices in family law openly violate the U.S. Constitution. Virginia officials should be begging Mr. Baskerville to be a member of their commission on child support; instead, they removed him from it. What are they seeking to hide?

DANIEL LEE
Collierville, Tenn.

Daniel Lee is president of Children's Best Interest and associate director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

Public schools should experiment with single-sex classes

I'm a pediatrician with 30 years' experience in primary care. Much of that time has been spent dealing with boys and their problems with behavior and learning in school. Often the only intervention that has been available has been a drug to control impulsivity.
Only by experiment can it be determined whether Dr. Leonard Sax's ideas about same-sex classes in public schools would be beneficial ("Rethinking Title IX," Commentary, July 2). Many parents believe it's worth paying private-school fees to get single-sex education. Public school parents are denied the single-sex option.
I am sure, however, that the academic problems and failures of large numbers of boys represent a substantial problem for all Americans. A new approach is needed, and Dr. Sax's should be tested.

KARL W. HESS, M.D.
Cleveland

Increased funding for drug war ensures its longevity in South America

The White House proposal to add $676 million in counternarcotics aid for South America to the Clinton administration's $1.3 billion Plan Colombia is a prime example of big government throwing good money after bad ("Lawmakers wary of involving U.S. in Colombia, Peru," Nation, July 24). The additional funds will not negate the immutable laws of supply and demand that drive illegal drug production. A crackdown in one region leads to increased cultivation elsewhere. When faced with the choice of abject poverty and the inflated black-market profits of illicit crops, many farmers will choose the latter. Creating a global welfare state in which every developing country is paid not to grow illicit crops is a rather expensive proposition.
The various armed factions in Colombia that are tearing the country apart are dependent financially on profits created by America's never-ending drug war. While U.S. politicians continue to use the drug war's collateral damage to justify its intensification at home and abroad, European countries are embracing "harm reduction." Harm reduction is based on the principle that both drugs and drug laws have the potential to cause harm. Given the historical precedent in America's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition, harm reduction should be understood readily by Congress. Ironically, fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels many politicians to support a punitive drug policy that fuels organized crime and violence.

ROBERT SHARPE
Program officer
The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation
Washington

The real cause of 'air rage'

I'll admit that most airline agents are both humane and hardworking and should be treated with respect ("Attendant power," Commentary, July 10). However, they are no longer "customer service representatives." They are the front line for the MBA holders and managers who have set policies focused almost exclusively on the bottom line making money. They have been instructed to lie to us and cheat us, and they follow those instructions. They overbook; they withhold information on delays so we won't switch to another airline; they sell tickets at dozens of different prices to travelers on the same plane; they avoid just compensation for delays and lost baggage; and they commit countless other acts of self-aggrandizement at the expense of the air traveler.
In no other service business in the United States is it so certain that you will be treated with abuse and contempt. Do the airlines really expect us to remain calm and quiet? If they focus on the customer and not profit, maybe the job will get easier.

THOMAS H. HARTMAN
Columbia, Md.

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