- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2002

A well-intentioned man, but incredibly naive

Though former President Jimmy Carter has his admirers ("In defense of Jimmy Carter," Letters, Friday) and certainly is well-intentioned, I would rate him as the most naive president in the history of our republic. His major achievement is always touted as the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Yet observers always have contended that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begun arrived at the peace terms themselves and all they wanted was the imprimatur of the U.S. president to make the agreement palatable to their respective constituencies.
Along with the U.S. stamp went continued funding of both nations, even though Egypt now opposes our foreign policy. As far as his failure in North Korea is concerned, Mr. Carter, naive as ever, was taken for a ride by that government.
The Nobel Peace Prize committee has the right to give a prize to anyone it wants, but the American public has the right to question its decisions.

NELSON MARANS
Silver Spring

Glendening's curious flip-flop

What odd timing for Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening to call for capital punishment for both snipers ("Townsend, Ehrlich agree on sniper case," Metropolitan, Friday). It seems he has put aside his suspension of capital punishment, which he and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend issued about a year ago at the behest of the same Baltimore politicians who had helped them gain power in 1994. Convinced that capital punishment was improperly targeting minority defendants (although the study upon which they based their decision is incomplete), they suspended such protection for their fellow Marylanders.
As in Illinois, popular backlash to this action may have caused them to reconsider or is the Glendening flip-flop designed to revive the failing campaign of the lieutenant governor at this critical point in the 2002 election? Perhaps we will never know.

C. STUART BROAD
Chevy Chase

On-line firearm purchases are not just a click away

An article Thursday speculated on how the sniper's weapon could be more concealable than some might guess ("Ballistics cannot identify weapon," Metro). It concluded by saying that people can buy firearms over the Internet. Strictly speaking, that's true, but it should not give the impression that it is at all easy to do so.
All federal, state and local laws must be complied with in such transactions. You can order a firearm, but the manufacturer or retailer must ship it to a federally licensed firearms dealer in the buyer's state. The buyer must present himself at this place of business and fill out the transfer paperwork, submit to the background check and otherwise comply with applicable laws before he can take possession of the weapon. Omitting this fact adds fuel to the "gun show loophole" fiction vigorously promoted by the anti-gun crowd.

RICH FRAYSIER
Charles Town, W.V.

Superfluous reportage

I read online the article, "Washington state yields major break in area sniper case" (Nation, Friday) and question the purpose of including the following information:
"Tacoma is the county seat of Pierce County, Wash., which has a population of about 700,000 that is 83 percent white and 8 percent black. Pierce County, with a per capita income of about $26,000, is a more blue-collar community than Seattle's King County, where per capita income is about $20,000 higher.
"Pierce County is home to about 20,000 military personnel, stationed at four major military installations in the area."
Why mention per-capita income and the percentage of whites and blacks, which have nothing to do with the shootings? Why even mention King County, which has no connection with the sniper story? This is the sort of squishy reporting normally done by those who are hoping to find or inject rich vs. poor, privileged vs. troubled, white vs. black insinuations into stories.
It would have sufficed to report that Tacoma is a typical, midsize, American community with a military installation nearby period.

LESLIE GROSSKLAUS
West Chester, Ohio

An 'unfortunate' view of the terrorism-insurance bill

Thursday's editorial on the terrorism insurance legislation before Congress ("A bad terrorism-insurance bill") reflects an unfortunate view on the matter. The Alliance of American Insurers, which represents the interests of 340 property-casualty insurers from around the country, believes the editorial reaches the wrong conclusion.
First, the facts. The insurance industry needs the federal government to assume a substantial role in insurance markets that have been affected worldwide by a variety of factors most notably the events of September 11, 2001, but additionally a brutally competitive market, a substantial reduction in investment income, and the global nature of the industry all come into play. Tragic events such as the recent attack on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf and the nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia, impact the global reinsurance market and point out the possibility of terrorist attacks. Knowledgeable investment analysts also stress the importance of the legislation. As Alice Schroeder of Morgan Stanley opined recently: "We view eventual passage [of terrorism insurance] as imperative."
The bill is neither a subsidy nor a key to the federal Treasury for the trial bar. The retention levels on this bill are very high for insurers. For a large company that writes $4 billion in premiums, the retention is $280 million in the first year; in the third year, it rises to 15 percent of $4 billion, or $600 million. There is a payback provision in the legislation as well. Moreover, we do not believe terrorism insurance is the only legislative vehicle for addressing tort-reform issues. While limiting excessive punitive damages remains a worthy goal, we believe this bill which would consolidate cases in federal courts is workable. Furthermore, the retention levels required in the legislation will protect American taxpayers in a significant way.
Most important, the peril of terrorism except in selected coverages (marine, aviation, political risk) is not capable of being underwritten across the broad coverages in the property and casualty industry. It is more akin to flood insurance, currently provided almost exclusively by the federal government through the federal flood insurance program. This bill creates partnerships that benefit everyone.
President Bush wisely supports this legislation as a way to assist insurers, contractors, real estate developers and small businesses all across America in helping to protect their workers. The bill also will help businesses obtain financing and will grow an economy teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession.
Perfection should not be a stumbling block in passing this bill. Congress should pass this legislation when it returns to work Nov. 12 to move our economy forward.

DAVID M. FARMER
Senior vice president for federal affairs
Alliance of American Insurers
Washington

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