- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 15, 2001

States shouldn't go soft on Microsoft

I was very disappointed in your Nov. 9 editorial, "The new Microsoft split." You are apparently oblivious to the main issues in the government's case against Microsoft.

Make no mistake, I am conservative, pro-business, and all for getting the government out of our lives and our businesses as much as possible. On the other hand, I have no problem with government involvement in tracking down and punishing criminals. And Microsoft's behavior has very definitely been criminal.

You assert that "consumers were never harmed in a demonstrable way" by Microsoft. Really? Well, answer this: Can you still buy a computer with WordPerfect bundled on it? How about Lotus 1-2-3 or Netscape? And try to develop Windows programs with a non-Microsoft C++ compiler.

Windows XP is now bundling in audio and video playing software. Guess what that is going to do to RealNetworks. (Hint: Look up WordPerfect, Lotus, Netscape, Borland, or a host of others on your favorite stock ticker page.) Microsoft's Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) deals cut most of these companies and plenty of others completely out of the market. Consumers have very demonstrably been harmed in terms of the choices they can make.

My computer runs 24 hours a day as long as the power stays on. Why? Because it isn't running Windows. Microsoft has trained most of the world to settle for less and accept programs that crash and burn all the time. Every time you have to reboot your system, you should ask yourself how much money Microsoft is costing you because they can't or won't fix their products. Time is not free.

What innovative products might some of these now-defunct companies have come up with that might have made our lives easier? Consumer choice, innovation, quality all these things have been sacrificed so that Microsoft can make more money.

No one denies that Microsoft violated antitrust laws willfully and repeatedly. They ignored the 1995 consent decree. Failing to punish them will foster disrespect for the law. Look past your stock portfolio and your contempt for the Clinton Justice Department's investigation. Let's do the right thing for the computer industry and for consumers.


ERIC FAGERBURG

Orem, Utah

Air security needs federal oversight, not federalization

The Democrats call for the federalization of airport security personnel, falsely claiming this is the only way to improve security. Humbug. The only security in which congressional Democrats are really interested is their own job security.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri are salivating at the chance to fatten government payrolls by tens of thousands more civil servants and federal employee union members tens of thousands more voters who are dependent upon Washington for their paychecks. They're trying to pack the electorate as surely as Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pack the U.S. Supreme Court.

A fatter leviathan never made for a more secure populace. To the Democrats, however, this isn't really about safety at all. It's about adding a new and popular issue to their time-worn litany of complaints about the budget every autumn. "The Republican budget is cruel and mean-spirited," they will say, "it doesn't allow enough spending for airport security."

All the tools are already in place. We have the FBI, CIA, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Federal Aviation Administration to issue and enforce regulations. Our airports already have metal detectors, X-ray apparatus, and plenty of guard jobs. We just need to enforce the rules already in place for the employers of those guards: require that they perform solid background checks on their applicants, hire only U.S. citizens with clean records, perform frequent random tests to see if their guards are sleeping at the switch, and make sure the FAA pulls the firms' security licenses if they fail such tests. Also, they should allow the pilots and trained crew members to be armed. That's what it takes to improve airport security, not simply putting the workers on a federal payroll. When has a bureaucracy ever proven to be more efficient than a private company?

Our Founding Fathers gave us a nation of laws, not a nation of civil servants. Enforce the laws already on the books; don't drop another heavy and useless weight on the shoulders of American taxpayers.


JOHN F. DI LEO

Lake Zurich, Ill.

President takes principled stand on Middle East

Your Nov. 12 front-page story "Bush use of 'Palestine' a 'deliberate' signal" spun beyond measure an entire article about Arab delight with the president on his mention of the word "Palestine." There is no evidence in the speech or in President Bush's (or National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's) comments this week to support the contention that the president gave Yasser Arafat consolation for not meeting with him. On the contrary, Mr. Bush has steadfastly insisted that Mr. Arafat is responsible for violence against Israeli civilians and has insisted that it stop.

This week, Miss Rice told Mr. Arafat, "There are responsibilities that come with being the representative of the Palestinian people. You cannot help us with al Qaeda and hug Hezbollah that's not acceptable or Hamas."

Mr. Bush turned aside British Prime Minister Tony Blair's desire for a new round of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking on Nov. 8, saying: "There's no doubt in my mind. We'll bring al Qaeda to justice, peace or no peace in the Middle East."

On Saturday, in a speech that contained a single direct reference to "Palestine" and no reference to new "peace initiatives," Mr. Bush said, "A murderer is not a martyr, he is just a murderer." Because the Palestinians and other Arabs call murderers "martyrs," the president must have been talking about them. Mr. Bush further clarified: "We must unite in opposing all terrorists, not just some of them. There is no such thing as a good terrorist. No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can ever justify the deliberate murder of the innocent. Any government that rejects this principle, trying to pick and choose its terrorist friends, will know the consequences."

In using the phrase "no remembered wrong," Mr. Bush clearly rejected Palestinian terrorists' desire to turn the clock back to 1948 and remove the State of Israel. His statement that there is "no such thing as a good terrorist" is a rejection of the Arab contention this week at the United Nations that terrorism against Israel is legitimate.

Mr. Bush should be applauded for upholding the principled American position that neither terrorism nor lies about terrorism is acceptable. "We must speak the truth about terror," he said. "Let us never tolerate malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame from the terrorists themselves. To inflame ethnic hatred is to advance the cause of terror."

The Washington Times should have given its readers a better picture of what the president actually said, not the spin the Arabs chose to give it.


SHOSHANA BRYEN

Silver Spring


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