- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

Dear Sen. Kennedy

I am writing to introduce to you a very special young man whom I am sure you would like to meet. He recently celebrated his birthday, but unlike the birthday bashes that the Kennedy family celebrates, his celebration took place without a single member of his family present. There was no cake, no drinks, no presents, not even a “happy birthday.”

This is because the young man is far away from his family, living in the hot desert sands of Iraq. He has no air conditioning, as you do in your fancy office. In fact, he has none of the conveniences that you and your family are enjoying at this very moment. The strange part is that he is there voluntarily. Can you imagine?

As I said at the beginning, he is a special young man, and part of what makes him so special is that he is a true American, proud of his country and proud of his president. He is especially proud of the part he is playing at this time to help more unfortunate people in foreign lands enjoy the freedom that he, and you, are enjoying as you sit in your comfortable home and office, speaking freely on any topic with not a worry of when, or if, you will have your next meal. He feels his presence there is important, and the poor Iraqi people with whom he shares his meager provisions and bottled water agree. In fact, the majority of people in this country agree.

Now certainly, you have the right to your opinion; this young man is in harm’s way to ensure that you do. But I extremely resent the statements that you are making against his being there. Whether you agree or disagree with this war is of no concern to me, but the lack of support you are giving your fellow fighting Americans who are laying their lives on the line every minute of every day is of great concern to me. And, I can only imagine how our troops, who are eating more sand than food, feel when they hear your remarks.

I agree wholeheartedly with Rep. Tom DeLay that you are “mean-spirited.” I am growing very weary of your remarks against our president. This young man certainly doesn’t want to be over there, but he is, and he’s making the very best of it, as are all of our troops there. They are there, whether you like it or not, and I along with many, many others would be very appreciative if you would just keep your anti-Iraqi war remarks to yourself. Surely, there is a way for such a distinguished, educated senator as yourself to get your point across to Congress without degrading our troops. If you are not capable of that, then you shouldn’t be there.

Take your stand, express your opinions and make your point, but please do it without making our troops feel that they are laying their lives on the line for nothing. Since we are there, a little support for our president would be nice, too. If you feel you cannot support him, at least refrain from trashing him. The majority of the American people would be grateful.

By the way, I think I have failed to mention that the special young man referred to is my son, but I am only one of thousands of mothers who feel the way I do. If you can’t have any consideration for the president, then please let us appeal to your human decency and ask that you have some for us.

CHARLOTTE A. EVERS

Montgomery, Ala.

Rebuilding Iraq

I read with interest Sen. Ted Stevens’ column “Winning the war on terror” (Op-Ed, yesterday), regarding what he rightly describes as “necessary and vital funding” for reconstruction efforts in Iraq. As a human rights activist and a human being, I was appalled to read his assertion that some senators want to provide funding only for military operations and that they believe reconstruction funds should be delayed “until Congress determines our nation’s role in Iraq.”

These senators should note that the United States, as an occupying power, has an obligation under international humanitarian law to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance. In the meantime, Iraqi civilians are suffering hardships that most of us cannot imagine.

While I certainly encourage the international community to assist with the rebuilding effort, that does not absolve the United States of its duty to repair the mess it created. As Mr. Stevens asserts, a quicker reconstruction will bring our troops home sooner. That way, we all win.

MARY T. SHAW

Greater Philadelphia Metro Area Coordinator

Amnesty International USA

Norristown, Pa.

Fannie and Freddie need new regulator

Jerry Howard’s recent letter (“It doesn’t add up,” Wednesday) attacks the Bush administration’s proposal to reform oversight of mortgage giants Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Mortgage Association) because he claims it would cast “dark clouds over prospects for American home buyers.”

Dark clouds already exist. Freddie Mac is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Attorney in Alexandria and its own regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The administration’s proposal and several bills introduced in this Congress by members of both parties, seek to remedy the obvious inability of OFHEO and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to manage the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).

Under OFHEO and HUD, the GSEs have essentially regulated themselves; they inform their regulators about new programs and activities by putting out a press release. There is no meaningful vetting process to evaluate whether these programs are good for home buyers.

The GSEs made more than $10 billion in profits in 2001, at the same time as they were receiving a $10-billion subsidy from the federal government. Fannie Mae is leveraged at 30-to-1, a ratio also carried by the now defunct hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, at the time it shut down.

As for promoting affordable housing, between 1996 and 2000 the GSEs’ purchases of loans made to first-time home buyers increased 20 percent, while their purchases of mortgages made for absentee landlords, vacation homes and second mortgages increased more than 400 percent. They buy less than 10 percent of the loans made by private lenders to first-time black and Latino home buyers.

Moving the authority to review new GSE programs from HUD to the Department of the Treasury isn’t going to create dark clouds. A new regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would bring much needed sunlight to the activities of these two giants.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need a robust regulator who is empowered to review, approve or disapprove, or recommend changes to activities, programs or products. Moving responsibility for their regulation from HUD, which has never demonstrated any ability to control the GSEs, to Treasury, which has a long track record as a financial overseer, would be good for home buyers and good for taxpayers.

J.C. WATTS JR.

Chairman

FM Policy Focus

Washington


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