- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

Howard Dean’s judgement

It is a sad state in this country when people, including presidential candidates and journalists, appear not to be intelligent enough to understand Howard Dean’s comment regarding people with Confederate flags — that liberty and equal representation apply to all (“Dean sorry for Rebel flag remark,” Nation, Thursday).

Mr. Dean is as true a Democratic candidate as one can get — which is why when his fellow candidates attack his membership in the party, I cringe in disbelief. While they are talking about governing for just certain groups of people, mainly Middle Americans, Mr. Dean champions the importance of the democratic ideal of equal representation in government for all. That is what he was saying regarding people with Confederate flags.

It is even more important that he uses a symbol that offends people to make his point because it shows how committed he is to equality for all. It is not the government’s job to educate people on certain races, certain sexual preferences and the like; it is the job of those groups to do so. It is the government’s job to ensure that all groups have equal rights and freedoms under the law. As Mr. Dean remarked about the homosexual, transsexual and transgender movement and the marriage act in Vermont, it was the groups’ right to educate the public about themselves, not Mr. Dean’s, while it was Mr. Dean’s duty to provide them with equal footing under law.

Mr. Dean did not receive very much applause for that remark, unlike his fellow candidates who pandered to the audience’s need to hear that the government would fix society.

It is refreshing to see a candidate, in Mr. Dean, who not only talks about grass-roots philosophy, but also practices it. I am overjoyed that for the first time in many years there is a candidate for president I not only want to vote for, but want to help gain as much support as possible. A candidate who is intelligent and not afraid to show it. A candidate who is blunt, and has the courage to speak his mind and not say what the audience at the time wants to hear. A candidate who has been attacked left and right, not only by his fellow candidates, but by the media (which is supposed to be unbiased) and the party, but has not let that discourage him. A candidate who sincerely believes in the promise of democracy — equality and equal representation for all.


Akron, Ohio

The Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination, Howard Dean, invaded Florida with one of the strangest attempts at “outreach” and “base-broadening” I have ever witnessed. He basically told “backward Southerners” that they are all wrong in their basis for assessing candidates.

He basically told them that they have to stop casting their votes on the basis of race, guns, God and homosexuals. One would assume it is fine to use any of those as a criterion, provided you agree with Mr. Dean. I doubt he would suggest for a moment that minority groups should think independently rather than voting in lock step for the Democrat du jour.

This is the latest in a pattern of rhetoric from this Democrat that reveals serious flaws in his judgment and perception of the voters, particular Southern voters. The message is clear: “If your voting criteria lead you to vote for someone other than me, change your criteria.”

Whatever happened to the party of the big tent? What about listening to and representing the will of the people — that “of the people, by the people, for the people” stuff?

The message is clear from Mr. Dean. He truly believes he has the truth on the issues and those of us who disagree are morons who need to be reprogrammed to understand that Mr. Dean knows best. Small wonder a man of principle such as Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, would recoil from this philosophy and endorse President Bush.

I hope Mr. Dean does well and secures the nomination. Watching him stumble through a national campaign would be immensely entertaining and would establish the Republican Party as the majority party for years to come.


Fisher, Ill.

The threat from China

The Bush administration and both the Democratic and Republican leadership see the rising trade deficit with China as a domestic political problem to be finessed (“Are we serious about China?” Commentary, Thursday). The majority of our politicians will continue to look the other way and vote as the lobbyists for the large transnational corporations pay them to vote. They will continue this shortsighted policy until American job losses are so substantial that their constituencies threaten to vote them out of office. Until then, we can all count on our esteemed representatives to continue voting themselves their annual pay raises (Well, to be accurate, they just don’t vote against giving themselves their annual pay raise.) and arguing about whether meteorologists are racist because they have not yet named any hurricanes “Denzel.”

In the meantime, in my humble opinion, China is quietly becoming the greatest security threat to the West. There is shockingly little national debate about the trade imbalance, China’s military buildup and the influx of Chinese nationals into our top colleges and technology industries. Why isn’t more being written about prison-camp slave labor in China or the destruction of entire cultures by the Chinese dictatorship? It appears that our current crop of “journalists” and “antipoverty activists” prefers to complain about labor conditions in Guam.

There is one very obvious flaw in Beijing’s goal of national power through industry and trade. The West will not be able to buy cheap Chinese goods if its people no longer have jobs. What will happen to the Chinese economy then? Gee, if it collapses, the Chinese might decide it is time for the current crop of dictators to go. I assume the leadership in China has a solution to this. Or could it be that they are almost as shortsighted as our leaders?


Hollywood, Md.

Food addiction

A recent letter from David Martosko (“Would you like cheese on that burger?” Oct. 30) offered misleading comments about my views on food addiction (“Maybe just one bite …,” Life, Oct. 28). I want to set the record straight.

First, Mr. Martosko’s attack is no surprise. His organization, the so-called Center for Consumer Freedom is now bankrolled by the meat and junk-food industries. The American Medical Association’s criticisms of my organization, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, cited by Mr. Martosko, are more than a decade old, from a time when the AMA was not yet convinced of the benefits of vegetarian diets.

But those are distractions. The question is, Why do Americans continue gorging themselves on hamburgers and pizzas during an obesity epidemic? In my book “Breaking the Food Seduction,” I suggest factors very much akin to addiction may be at work. Studies show that opiate-blocking medications significantly reduce the appetite for chocolate, sugar, cheese, and meat — indicating that it’s not just taste, but also what goes on in the brain that keeps us hooked.

That’s not a message that meat, cheese, cola or candy companies want to hear. But let’s face the facts: When a man has had a heart attack and has high blood pressure and diabetes and rebuffs his doctor’s entreaties that he change his diet, it is time to confront the core issue: addiction to unhealthy foods.

We must take the problem of unrecognized food addiction seriously, especially given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that nearly 280,000 Americans die each year as a result of being overweight.


Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


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