- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Column 'at odds with American interests'

In Oliver North's column on the OSCE's election-monitoring presence in Florida ("Monitoring the elections," Commentary, Sunday), Mr. North proves himself to be either a witty master of disinformation or an ignoramus.

By describing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as the tool of a "New World Order" at odds with American interests, he completely ignores the fact that the United States is a leading OSCE member state and driving force behind most of its work.

To suggest that international bureaucracies such as the OSCE are anti-American is simply inaccurate, even if they do run amok from time to time. The United States may be outnumbered by its rivals around the globe, but its influence is disproportionate and overwhelming in such bureaucracies. Note the U.N. Security Council's fresh vote on Iraq, in which President Bush deftly bent the wanting wills of Russia and France.

Mr. North also can have no excuse, apart from poor editing, for his odd list of "struggling nations": Bosnia, Serbia, Slovakia, Skopje and Montenegro. Skopje, he should note, is not a nation but a city. It is the capital of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

Nor should he be allowed to get away with his disparaging remark about the OSCE's member states as "countries that spawned the likes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin, and Jacques Chirac." The United States is among them, so if Mr North wants to be accurate he should add himself and George Washington to the list.

If nothing else, he should at least not insult Mr. Chirac by ranking him alongside modern Europe's infamous troika of totalitarians, brown and red. Mr. Chirac recently threw France's Socialists out of office. One might have thought Mr. North, who claims his views are consistent, would be grateful. But then again, perhaps Mr. North hadn't heard that news either.


ERIC JANSSON

Belgrade, Yugoslavia

N. Virginia is getting its fair share

Sunday's editorial "A fair deal for Northern Virginians" claims that Northern Virginia is not getting back a proportionate share of the taxes its residents pay for transportation projects. While it can be argued that Northern Virginia is shortchanged in some areas of state services, transportation is certainly not one of them. Allow me to present the facts.

For a number of years, Northern Virginia has received more money in dedicated transportation taxes than it sends to Richmond. This region has 26 percent of the state's population but purchases substantially less than 26 percent of the state's gasoline, the major source of transportation revenues.

Yet, during the current fiscal year Northern Virginia will receive 40 percent of the commonwealth's transportation construction money and in the next year the share will rise to 43 percent. In the following four years, the region's share, including maintenance, will average more than 30 percent.

The allocation formula, which was revised in the 1980s to the benefit of Northern Virginia, is currently being reviewed by a legislative study committee that I chair and will make recommendations to the 2004 General Assembly.

Under consideration are proposals that could further benefit this region but their impact would be minimal because there is only a finite amount of dedicated transportation funds, and they are not enough to meet the needs of Northern Virginia or the rest of the commonwealth.


VINCENT F. CALLAHAN JR.

Chairman

House Appropriations Committee

Virginia House of Delegates

Richmond

Social Security did not determine Florida election outcome

Michael Tanner erroneously overstates the role of Social Security in Carol Roberts' unsuccessful effort to unseat Rep. E. Clay Shaw Jr., Florida Republican ("Social Security and the election outcome," Commentary, Sunday). Mr. Tanner writes: " Carol Roberts focused nearly all her campaign on the issue. In 2000, Mr. Shaw won re-election by only a few hundred votes. This year, he took nearly 60 percent of the vote."

The biggest issue in the Roberts-Shaw race was far and away the outrageous cost of prescription drugs and Mr. Shaw's support of the Republican-passed and drug industry-sponsored Medicare prescription drug bill, which does not guarantee coverage for all seniors.

While there are many reasons for Mr. Shaw's victory, two stand out. The first reason is nearly $2 million in TV ads, radio ads and direct mail was spent on behalf of Mr. Shaw by United Seniors Association, which is funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The second reason is redistricting, for which Mr. Shaw paid a full-time lobbyist to draw a district that excluded minorities and switched party registration from majority-Democrat to majority-Republican.

As an issue, Social Security was a distant third in the campaign, after drugs and corporate responsibility. Ms. Roberts spoke frequently about Mr. Shaw's privatization bill and the fact that, as chairman of the Social Security subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Shaw could bring the bill to a vote at any time. Yet, he instead claimed to want to wait until the issue was "less political." Both Democrats and Republicans in South Florida are wondering when exactly Social Security will not be political.

Mr. Tanner has enough races to make his case for Social Security privatization, but the Roberts-Shaw race is not among them. District residents are investment-savvy and understand that privatization is more a cause for concern than celebration.


STEPHEN GASKILL

Communications director

Carol Roberts for Congress

West Palm Beach, Fla.

Stop congratulating yourself, Mr. Van Hollen

I wish that Christopher Van Hollen would stop claiming that he won his seat in Maryland's 8th Congressional District because the people wanted a "change in direction and a change in leadership," and that the Democratic Party and the news media would quit painting Mr. Van Hollen as a potential rising star in the Democratic Party because he "upset" a popular incumbent, Rep. Constance A. Morella ("Morella upset in 8th district," Metropolitan, Nov. 6).

The truth is that the main reason Mr. Van Hollen won the election is because of the unconstitutional redistricting plan pushed through the Maryland Legislature by Gov. Parris N. Glendening who seems not to believe anything he does is illegal, unethical or immoral and his Democratic pals.

The intent of the plan, by their own admission, was to ensure that the Democrats would win the 8th district seat, and, not surprisingly, they did. Now Mr. Van Hollen and others should quit portraying his election as a remarkable victory.


JOHN A. YERRICK

Bethesda




'Ten Little Indians,' one unhappy camper

Unbelievable. Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville changes the name of a play adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" because of one complaint, then selects a replacement title ("And Then There Were None") that is grammatically incorrect ("Activist forces retitling of play," Metropolitan, yesterday).

What kind of example is that to their students? Or don't the administrators know better?

"Indian" is a perfectly good name, and only local Indian activist Richard Regan seems to be offended by its use. What does he want them to be called? Please don't tell me "Native American." A native American is a person born in this country, and I am proud to be one (I was born in Ohio). I am deeply offended by any special-interest group that tries to hijack such a term for its exclusive use, especially when there is now evidence that "Indians" may not have been the first humans in North America.


GARY WIDELL

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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