- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Do we really need the United Nations?

I read Monday's editorial "A diplomatic watershed," and for the most part it reflects many of my feelings on the upcoming action to be taken against Iraq.
I do question one part, though: "And now, obviously, the president has another burden to carry. He must begin to repair or replace the international system that the United States created a half-century ago to help manage a troubled world."
My question is, why should President Bush and our nation carry this particular burden? Why should he and the American taxpayers even consider it necessary to pander to the likes of those in the United Nations who are acting so irrationally that there is no possibility of ever coming to any sort of agreement on this pending action against Iraq?
This is not the first time obstructionists have used the United Nations for their own purposes to our national detriment. Why should we taxpayers continue to fund an organization that apparently has little use for us other than for our money? Do we really need the United Nations anymore, and if so, why?

RUSSELL HARRIS
Overland, Mo.

A fast-food case for tort reform

As Steve Chapman notes in "A fast-track for fast-food lawsuits?" (Commentary, Sunday), yet another argument for tort reform has appeared in the form of lawsuits against fast-food restaurant chains for the crime of assault with a deadly cheeseburger and judges who entertain such nonsense. Now put down those fries and back away slowly.
First it was Big Tobacco, purportedly seducing adults who can't read the warnings on each pack of cigarettes. Now it is "big fat," with Ronald McDonald forcing people of all ages to consume bacon double cheeseburgers until their arteries explode. Isn't anyone responsible for his own actions anymore?
Just as smokers sued tobacco companies, despite 40 years of warning labels, lawyers ask us to believe people are too stupid to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy activities. They want us to believe we are brain-dead robots forced to walk into a fast-food joint and order so-called junk food, and when our health consequently is harmed, we need to be saved by greedy lawyers. These lawyers are liberals obsessed with the idea that somebody, somewhere, might actually be enjoying himself. The "victims" they represent are eager to blame anybody else for the consequences of their own actions.
Liberals are all for "choice" when it comes to sexual promiscuity and aborting unborn babies, but not when it comes to Joe Six-pack having a cheeseburger and a cigarette. Shame on you, Joe, for burdening society with the health costs of your free choices but it's not your fault. Sue the evildoers who ply you with nicotine, alcohol and cholesterol.
Also, don't forget to sue those who sold you that big-screen TV and that recliner you parked in front of it when you could be eating tofu while you peddle away your life on a stationary bike.
The impression given is that if we stop smoking and eating pizza we'll live forever. The fact is that we are all going to die. Shouldn't we as free people in a free country be able to choose freely how we wish to live in the meantime, and if we make the wrong choices, accept the consequences of our actions? Life, liberty and the pursuit of bacon double cheeseburgers.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI
Chicago

Onward Christian soldiers

The quote I gave your reporter for the article "Not all conservatives on board on Iraq" (Nation, Feb. 12), was given to him while I was attending the Conservative Political Action Conference almost three weeks ago and before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the U.N. Security Council several days later. While the reporter quoted me correctly, nevertheless, since then, most Americans, including those same conservative friends I mentioned, have largely been persuaded by the facts presented by Mr. Powell.
Only one thing can avoid the war: Saddam Hussein must clearly change his ways. He has had 12 years. Time is running short.
Winston Churchill once said, "Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance." Saddam knows America has many enemies. He knows America is the target of implacable hatred. He even knows why: because America is the last bastion of the battered, yet glorious remains of order and Christian civilization. Saddam knows he is not alone.
Americans do not hope for war. They hope war may be averted. If war comes, however, Americans will fight with heroic resolution, embodying all the chivalry of ages past, defending America and all it represents.
God is not indifferent to a cause so sacred, and with His help, we shall prevail.

C. PRESTON NOELL III
President
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
McLean

Guns and D.C.

Thursday's editorial "End the D.C. handgun ban" was sharply out of step not only with the views of Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the D.C. Council, but with public opinion in the District as a whole. Far from dispelling myths about gun violence, I saw your editorial as perpetuating them.
You weaken your constitutional argument right off the bat by selectively citing the Second Amendment. Conveniently left out is the opening clause, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." You quoted only the second half of the sentence, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed." The United States no longer has citizen militias like those of the 18th century. Today's equivalent, the National Guard, has more limited membership than its early counterparts and depends entirely on government-supplied, not privately owned, firearms. I disagree entirely with your interpretation of the Second Amendment as broadly protecting the rights of individuals to own guns. It clearly is a collective right, and one that is anachronistic in light of present-day realities.
I am not alone in this opinion. Since U.S. vs. Miller in 1939, the U.S. Supreme Court consistently has ruled that the Second Amendment refers to a right to keep and bear arms only in connection with a "well-regulated militia," which it defined in 1965 and 1990 as the National Guard.
You then assert that "mainstream legal thinking" is moving away from these rulings, but such thinking is embodied in one man, who is anything but mainstream: Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has been on the far right his entire political career. He is the only government official in modern history to take the position that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right and represents no one but himself in that view. The U.S. Attorney's Office itself has vigorously defended the District's handgun ban and, according to U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Roscoe Howard Jr., it has no intention of altering its position.
We live in a country where gun violence kills nine children a day. Last year, there were 262 homicides in the District, the overwhelming majority involving firearms. Opposition to handguns is not opposition to hunting deer. It is about opposition to handguns, which are designed for the sole purpose of taking the lives of human beings. The District of Columbia has promulgated its own firearms laws in order to protect the residents of our great city. Those who advocate the madness of weapons proliferation in the District will soon learn that we care more for our children and loved ones than you do for your weapons.

Ladd Everett
President
D.C. Million Mom March
Washington


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