- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2002

No 'litmus test' in founding principle

Nat Hentoff usually provides thought-provoking comments on the Constitution. But he is wrong to claim in "One nation, under law?" (Op-Ed, Monday) that George W. Bush was establishing a "litmus test" for judges by stating that the Ninth Circuit's decision regarding the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance proves the nation's need for "common sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God." The president was merely paraphrasing the key provision of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…" (emphasis added).
The concept of "one nation under God" was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance by a 20th century Congress to recognize a basic tenet of our nation that has existed since the days of the Founders and which was repeatedly expressed by them. This was understood by the same members of the first Congress who adopted the Bill of Rights. There is nothing in the Constitution that would support, let alone require, activist judges to supersede the decision of the Congress on this matter.

EDWIN MEESE III
Chairman
Center for Legal and Judicial Studies
The Heritage Foundation
Washington

Talibanization of Pakistan

Georgie Anne Geyer's Saturday Commentary column on the Pakistani elections, "Pakistani election signals," is not only timely but indicates what the future holds for this region. Whether we like to admit it or not, the fact remains that somehow we have managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of the people who received assistance from the United States have turned against us because they had their own hidden agenda which we could not fathom earlier.
While assisting to rebuild Afghanistan, we must realize and accept that with strong Taliban influence, al Qaeda terrorists are still roaming areas of Pakistan where even the Pakistani armed forces would not dare to enter (of course bearing in mind that the defense establishment has strong leanings to the Taliban).
While the majority of the Pakistani people would rather have peace and progress, many cannot openly admire or accept the democratic model and prosperity that India has achieved since independence from British rule. And when religious fanatics call for jihad, people get carried away, resulting in violence, death and destruction.
While meddling in the internal politics of any country is not advisable, one hopes that good sense will prevail by having Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and Altaf Hussain form a political alliance to prevent the religious fanatics from dominating the government. In the interest of peace and progress, Ihope these politicians leave each person to establish his/her own method of worship to the Maker.

ANANTHA K. RAMDAS
Arlington

Left Coast luminaries

The article about Hollywood celebrities playing a leading role in Bush bashing ("Hollywood takes on White House," Nation, Saturday) underscores the need to update the political lexicon. With all due respect to former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, who coined the term "San Francisco Democrats" in reference to the blame-America-first crowd in the '80s, the power center of the left in the Democratic Party has moved south about 400 miles. From now on, I suggest we bestow upon these Left Coast liberals the appropriate moniker they deserve and make "Hollywood Democrats" a pejorative term worthy of the derision and scorn these moronic spokespersons deserve.
Furthermore, why has not a single credible leader of the Democratic Party criticized any of the outrageous statements made by Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn, Jessica Lange, Alec Baldwin, ad nauseam, nor attempted to distance their party from these belligerent attacks against President Bush and U.S. foreign policy? Is it because they need their campaign contributions or, perhaps, is it that the "Hollywood Democrats" are indeed the new spokespersons for the Democratic Party?

GARY L. JARMIN
Alexandria, Va.

Enron-style justice for Enron crimes

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, justice means "the use of authority or power to uphold what is right." Well, this definition of justice does not match the Justice Department's punishment of Timothy Belden ("Ex-Enron trader admits to manipulating prices," Page 1, Friday). According to the article, 35-year-old Mr. Belden made $6.5 million in one year, yet the Justice Department wants to fine him a measly $250,000 and he's agreed to return $2.1 million in salary and bonuses he made illegally. Yet, he's responsible for price gouging in California that left hospitals and businesses and millions of people without air conditioning during the summer. Companies folded, lives were destroyed, and old people suffered while he lived in air-conditioned comfort. This is not justice. True justice would be to have him live the rest of his life in a small apartment on an income of $20,000 a year. Then he would have the opportunity to experience firsthand the pain and sorrow his lack of ethics caused others.

HELENE C. RAVEN
Annapolis

Border-line priorities

The federal government refuses to enforce stricter immigration laws with Mexico, Canada and many terrorist-friendly nations from the Middle East. It also refuses to increase patrols along the Canadian border to prevent immigrants from the Middle East with Canadian visas from illegally crossing over into the United States. These Canadian visa holders may belong to terrorist organizations or have criminal records that normally would prevent them from gaining access into the United States. Because of our lax immigration laws with Canada, they come and go as they please. But just mention possibly making it easier to bring a marijuana cigarette across the border because Canada has relaxed its marijuana laws ("Canadian pot plan risks trade," World, Friday) and the U.S. government threatens to implement tough new inspection regulations that would cost both countries millions of dollars in lost trade and inconvenience travelers from both countries. When is the United States going to end this ridiculous war on drugs and focus on a real threat?

ROBERT M. MOON
Fort Worth, Texas

American crime, statistically speaking

The National Rifle Association (NRA) classically observed that "Guns don't kill people people kill people." Now filmmaker and NRA-card-carrying-member Michael Moore specifies that "Guns don't kill people Americans kill people," and at rates far beyond those in other developed nations ("Gun violence vexes Moore," Life, Friday).
If we're going to get specific about gun violence, let's ask which Americans kill people. After all, we are an extremely diverse nation, far more diverse than "quiescent" Canada, say, which still is 95 percent composed of "the same European stock that founded America."
According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports online at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm the homicide rate among Americans of "European stock" is virtually identical to the rate in European nations. Correspondingly, the homicide rate among American blacks is close to the rates in black nations that is, five to eight times the European American rate. The rate of all violent crime among American Hispanics is three times the European American rate. Average the three rates, and America stands out like a bloody thumb among the other "Western countries."
Mr. Moore is tired of the "whole culture of violence." So are most Americans. We're also tired of being falsely blamed for it. Diversity has obliterated the very concept of the "average American," so from now on, one should specify exactly whom one is referring to when speaking of "Americans" killing people.

MARIAN K. COOMBS
Crofton

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