- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2003

Wrong on the environment

I was both shocked and dismayed to learn from Georgie Anne Geyer’s article, “‘Cat bites man’ half the story,” (Commentary, Saturday) that the Bush administration is considering a proposal to allow circuses, hunters and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries to feed the American demand for live animals, skins and trophies.

The administration rejects market solutions and seems to believe in strong government intervention when it comes to many of its other policy objectives — trade and tourism embargoes against Cuba to topple Fidel Castro, intensive drug interdiction and longer prison sentences for narcotics offenders and higher steel tariffs to protect U.S. industry — but apparently does not want to apply the same logic to the trade in endangered species. The administration naively asserts that Third World regimes (with all their corruption) will somehow apply revenue earned from animal trade to conservation, a ludicrous notion at best.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is waging a valiant, though at times frustrating, effort to curb the global trade in endangered species. Mr. Bush has already earned low marks from the conservation community. His stance on endangered species only reinforces the image of a president out of touch with the environment.

ROBERT BERRY

Montgomery Village

From Beirut to Baghdad

Kudos to Oliver North and Peter Stenner for their commemoration of the 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 241 Marines, sailors and one soldier (“From Beirut to Baghdad,” Commentary, yesterday).

I was on my submarine Sculpin when the news came overthewire.Myfirst thoughts were: Where was the security? After all, they were there as a multinational peacekeeping force in a hostile environment, not at a steel beach picnic off the coast.

The U.S. Marine Corps is perhaps the best asset our military has, and it is good to know they have our backs. As the son of a Marine, one of the 46 that ascended Mt. Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima, I was told that the first thing a Marine learns is to “know your stuff,” otherwise people get killed. Obviously, this lesson still needs to be learned by our leaders, as they put our men and women in dangerous locations in support of our national interests.

KURT G. KESSEL CWO, U.S.N. (Ret.)

Fort Collins, Colo.

The Pledge of Allegiance

The removal of “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance would be a clear signal that the U.S. Supreme Court finds that the Declaration of Independence violates the Constitution. Many people today may not know that the Declaration precedes the Constitution and is the foundation for our self-government.

Many people treat this possible decision far too lightly. If upheld, the ruling would declare that all of your human rights — given to you by God — now reside with the power of the state. It would mean that the state may give and take away rights at will, because you have no rights except those your government gives you. This is exactly what our Declaration of Independence opposed, when we separated ourselves from England. A Pledge without the words “under God” would say that the supreme law of your life as a citizen comes from the government and it can take be taken away from you tomorrow.

Our Founding Fathers knew that when government declares itself supreme, you have no intrinsic rights. Take care not to allow this to happen — it has happened many times in the last 100 years when nations came under the total power of dictators. If our basic human rights come from God, government has no “right” to take away those rights. You might want to take a moment to do something about this travesty.

MICHAEL J. DONNELLY

Lawrenceville, N.J.

A flawed energy bill

Contrary to your editorial (“The energy bill,” Friday), the energy bill will set our national energy policy back decades. At a time when we should be leading the world in the transition to sustainable and renewable energy sources, this bill only increases our dependence on the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, which in turn want the $18 billion in taxpayer subsidies the bill provides. Republican opposition to subsidies for an Alaskan pipeline does not negate that.

Legislation designed to substantively address problems such as natural gas shortages, gasoline price spikes and blackouts would look significantly different from the current package. It wouldn’t repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act, which was instituted in 1935 to stabilize chaotic energy markets during the Depression and has successfully protected consumers from rate gouging for nearly seven decades. Repeal of this vital consumer protection law opens the door for further Enron-style market manipulation — not exactly a recipe for stability. In short, the current energy bill is much worse than no bill at all.

WENONAH HAUTER

Director

Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program

Washington

A motley crew of dead-enders

The picture on the front page of The Washington Times on Saturday has given me great hope that our troops in Iraq will quickly roll up the violent opposition there and allow that country to get on with self-governance.

In that picture are two Iraqi fighters, one kneeling behind a bag and holding an assault rifle, the other standing behind him — at the ready with a menacing-looking machete. The accompanying caption reads “Iraqi fighters defended a position during a gunfight with U.S. forces in the streets of Karbala.”

I’ll tell you this: If those boys keep bringing knives to the gunfights, it will all be over before you can say “Saddam Hussein.”

JAMES M. KELLY

Alexandria

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