- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

Braun’s background

Deborah Simmons’ Friday Op-Ed piece on Carol Moseley Braun, “Listen to a mockingbird,” is on the mark.

After Mrs. Braun was defeated for re-election in 1998, President Clinton found a way to keep her on the government payroll by awarding her an ambassadorship, even though she had no interest or training in diplomacy. However, in keeping with the policy that no Democratic politician should be off the government payroll even temporarily, Mr. Clinton got her a consulting job with the Department of Education until her ambassadorship was ready.

One would think that with a budget of $35.6 billion in 1998, the Department of Education was adequately staffed without needing Mrs. Braun as a consultant until her papers were in order for her ambassadorship.


Woodmere, N.Y.

Iraq not another Vietnam

I find it unfortunate that you published Alexander Frank’s commentary on Sunday, “To finish the victory,” in an apparent training exercise. I appreciate the attempt by the young man to produce a balanced commentary, but it did not work.

The commentary was disheveled and contained inconsistencies and errors. The primary error was at the beginning, when Mr. Frank stated that the Tet offensive forced President Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara to resign. Mr. Johnson did not resign, he just chose not to run for president in the next election (Mr. Frank noted this correctly later in his commentary, but that is inconsistent reporting). Mr. McNamara actually resigned as secretary of defense on Nov. 29, 1967, about two months before Tet began. While he did not actually leave the post until late February 1968, he was effectively unable to perform his duties as secretary of defense, due to intense disagreements with Mr. Johnson. Mr. McNamara did not resign in March 1968 as Mr. Frank states.

As a result, I could only look at this commentary with a jaundiced eye. As a Vietnam vet myself, I can somewhat agree with many of his statements about Tet, but what relevance does this have with Iraq? A few terrorists in Iraq committing random, or at best loosely coordinated attacks, simply does not equate with 70,000 trained North Vietnamese soldiers in a well-coordinated attack.

Finally, after reading the commentary twice, I think Mr. Frank is trying to say “do not equate Iraq with Vietnam,” but I am not sure.


Joshua, Texas

Taking a stand against SPAM

The anti-spam bill passed by the House on Friday (“House OKs measure aimed at spammers,” Page 1, Saturday) is probably the best example of ineffective, feel-good, do-nothing legislation to be passed by any legislative body in decades. Not only will the bill have minimal, if any, impact on spam, but it may actually make the problem far worse.

Congress has apparently failed to grasp that most spam is already criminal. The Federal Trade Commission admits that a sizable chunk of spam content is illegal under current laws and could be criminally prosecuted, but is not. Furthermore, most spam is sent by means that are already criminal and prosecutable under current laws. For example, we find that, at a minimum, 80 percent of all attempts to send spam to our customers originates from hijacked computers, clearly a criminal offense.

Existing laws are already adequate to prosecute most spammers. All that is lacking is the political will to do so.

Congress has also apparently failed to grasp that relatively little spam originates from within the United States. Our studies show that no country is responsible for more than about 20 percent of spam. Is Congress proposing that the United States pursue cases against spammers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, India, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Zambia and dozens of other countries worldwide? Are spammers to be pursued in countries where the spammers’ acts are perfectly legal?

Law enforcement has enough problems trying to pursue international cyber-criminals who commit very egregious crimes. What makes Congress think that it will be worthwhile to pursue spammers worldwide?

This bill will only shut down the semi-legitimate spammers leaving behind the criminal spammers and force those criminal spammers who operate from within the United States to move their operations offshore. Domestic spammers already have U.S.-based offshore Internet gambling operations as a business model they can convert to should this bill become law.

Without question, the “do not spam” database proposed by Congress does not even pass the laugh test. Not only would such a database be ineffective in preventing spam, it would also provide criminal spammers a database of known valid e-mail addresses to spam, thereby increasing the amount of spam that individuals in the database would receive.

Spam is a technological problem that technology can fix. For example, we successfully block 99.9 percent of spam every day. Businesses simply have been reluctant to adopt such technologies in these hard economic times.

If Congress really wants to enact meaningful anti-spam legislation it should hold companies that advertise through spam civilly and criminally liable for the illegal actions of those sending spam on their behalf, and they should block spammers’ ability to sue those services that either filter e-mail for spam or provide databases that identify spam sources. They should also provide law enforcement the resources it needs to track down and prosecute criminal spammers and their associates, such as those miscreants that are continually attacking anti-spam databases and succeeded recently in forcing at least four of them out of business.


Chief Technical Officer

Advanced Systems Engineering Technology

Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The new serfdom?

Chuck Woolery of the American Public Health Association proposes the implementation of “a new global micro-tax on … global currency speculations” to be collected by a “new international institution … enforcing the inalienable human right to basic primary health care and education … .” (“Preventing chaos,” Letters, Saturday). This would “dramatically increase our security and protect our prosperity,” he opines, and would require America “to abandon an outdated concept — the myth of national sovereignty.”

Thus, he would abandon our democracy (no doubt another of those outdated concepts) and replace our national sovereignty with global feudalism. Americans would become serfs supporting a new unelected and unaccountable nobility. For our own good, of course. How high-minded.

For marketing purposes Mr. Woolery’s proposal can be summarized as follows: “Stand and deliver … and shut up.”

No thanks.



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