- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 27, 2002

'Dress code' a matter of respect

I disagree with your editorial championing Air Force Lt. Col. Martha McSally and the Pentagon in their fight to lift the dress code restrictions on female service personnel in Saudi Arabia ("Dress code blues," Jan. 25). As a senior military officer, Col. McSally demonstrated a disturbing lack of judgment and timing (while her country is at war) for her "I am woman, hear me roar" tantrum.

Through nearly a dozen major overseas deployments, I vividly recall the enjoinder that visiting service personnel be "American goodwill ambassadors overseas." This enjoinder called for respect of the host country's culture, values and sensitivities. You liken the abaya dress restrictions to apartheid, a convenient but specious argument. As a result of apartheid, we didn't conduct goodwill visits to South Africa.

Your editorial questions why U.S. servicewomen should be required to wear seventh-century garb. Since the host country's dress custom predates the settling of the land that would become the United States by 1,000 years, perhaps you should be asking why, in our "enlightened" arrogance, we feel we must change venerable cultures to abide by our cultural standards.

This is the crux of why some despise our country and why we were attacked on September 11. America remains the bright shining light of freedom and liberty throughout the world. But we must demonstrate that respect of freedom and liberty by respecting the cultures and mores of other countries with whom we associate, lest we fall into the intolerant left-wing mindset that disagreement equals ignorance.


Navy (Retired)


Democrat 'scandalmongering' distracts from Enron injustice

The specter of scandal is confusing the importance of the Enron issue and misdirecting the aim of justice. As Democrats rush to paint Republicans as corporate servants, the true villain has exited stage left into relative inattention. Former Enron Chief Executive Officer Kenneth L. Lay and his cohorts scammed American investors out of millions. Enron's bankruptcy isn't capitalism as usual. It is a Texas-size case of fraud, and loyal Enron employees have been cast as the fools. We must not overlook the damage done to those who placed their hopes in Houston's energy giant.

True, investing requires responsibility, but fraud trumps prudence. Cooked books and shredded documents shackle investors and confuse analysts. The collapse will teach investors that diverse investment portfolios are vital, but we cannot forget that employees who lost their life savings and their jobs were robbed. The Enron investigation is about punishing corporate criminals, not engineering political gain.

Let us have justice first and scandalmongering second.


Manhattan, Kan.

Republicans leave Constitution behind

The passage of the $26.5 billion No Child Left Behind Act is yet another sign of the Republican leadership's repentance for its conservative ways. Just a few years ago, these leaders were calling for the elimination of the Department of Education and a reduction in the size and spending of the federal government. Public schools, now more than ever, are government schools.

President Bush, Reps. John A. Boehner and George Miller, Sens. Judd Gregg and Edward M. Kennedy, and all other members of Congress who sponsored or voted for the bill have ignored their oath to uphold the Constitution. There is no provision in the Constitution that gives the federal government the power to be involved in education.

What part of the 10th Amendment "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." do they not understand?


West Chester, Ohio

The high cost of car mileage standards

Betsy Hart's Jan. 24 Commentary column ("Sacrificing lives for auto fuel efficiency?") makes a strong case for going to the mat to oppose further increases in automobile mileage standards.

Depending on which study you believe (that of Harvard University, USA Today or the National Academy of Sciences), between 34,000 and 101,000 Americans have lost their lives since those standards were first introduced in 1975 because the standards made the cars less safe in collisions with trees, obstructions and other vehicles.

Especially for a Congress that has gone apoplectic over traces of anthrax spores in a couple of its office buildings, these deaths are simply unconscionable. The term corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) is too antiseptic and misleading. A far more accurate title would be Conserve Our Refined Petroleum to Save the Environment, or CORPSE.

Yet even tougher fuel standards, to force automobile manufacturers to produce more coffins on wheels, are a centerpiece of Sens. Tom Daschle and John Kerry's new energy plan. Not just a centerpiece but a substitute for drilling for oil in America, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which experts say could hold enough crude to replace half of our Persian Gulf imports for 20 years or more.

The average citizen would be fully justified in concluding that Mr. Daschle and Mr. Kerry and their environmentalist allies care far more about caribou than about people's lives. "Kill but don't drill" or "grieving families, contented caribou" appear to be their rallying cries.

To echo Ms. Hart, this is one dad who also thinks it's time for a fight to save lives and preserve vehicle choice by opposing any further tightening of the CORPSE standards.



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