- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

A different perspective on Isabel

I have read and watched, with some degree of amusement and no small amount of disappointment, the unfolding saga of the metro-area victims of Hurricane Isabel (“Patience wears thin on outages and muck,” Page 1, yesterday). The news focus seems to be on the anger and the desperate plight of people going five whole days without electricity.

As a resident of South Florida who lived through Hurricane Andrew and the five weeks without power in its wake, my concern and thoughts go to the people closer to landfall who have lost their homes and businesses, and in some cases, their loved ones. They will go a lot longer than five days without power — they will go years in which the wind in the trees will bring back memories.

However, the news stories, viewed in conjunction with the stories about Iraq, are enlightening. Two years after September 11, we’ve managed to get fully back to our culture of instant gratification, the need to blame someone (in this case the power companies), our lack of patience and an almost pathological inability to deal with any kind of hardship.

But what can one expect? We’ve become a nation for which stress is too many reps on the Bowflex and hardship is finding out that the local Starbucks is closing.



False logic

For decades, William F. Buckley Jr. has presented arguments imbued with an elegant logic and a consistent morality. Unfortunately, both seem to escape Mr. Buckley on the subject of Israel and America’s supporting role as chief — and sometimes, only — ally.

In “A road map to catastrophe” (Commentary, Sunday), Mr. Buckley concludes, with an inexcusable moral equivalency, that America’s plan for peace in Israel has failed because “[a]ll three sides to the intended reforms were delinquent” and, more particularly, because America has not placed sufficient pressure on Israel to destroy settlements in the West Bank or to build the anti-terrorist fence on a path less inconvenient to Palestinians.

However, even if America had done what Mr. Buckley advocates, we’re still left with the following road map formulation: “If you, Israel, remove settlements from the West Bank, we, the Palestinians, will stop murdering your fathers and daughters, mothers and babies.” The logic is false because Palestinians have been murdering Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities not located in the West Bank; and also because the Palestinian leadership (and most Palestinians, according to polls) want all the Jews to leave — even from Israel of pre-‘67 borders.

Morally abhorrent, the formulation presupposes the Nazi-like mentality that it’s okay to murder Jews because their fellow citizens have built communities in areas adjacent to non-Jews. And, how can Mr. Buckley consider it moral that Jews should destroy their homes in territories that (1) were never part of a never-existent Arab Palestinian “state,” and (2) were captured in a war in which Israel was targeted for obliteration by its Arab neighbors?

Ultimately, the road map failed because it led in a direction only the Israelis want to go. The Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel; they don’t want a state next to Israel; the Palestinians don’t want Israel — period. When William Buckley suggests that America should apply pressure on Israel “to retrench on the settlements,” he offers Israelis what he, like most patriotic Americans, would never accept — “survival,” but not the end of terrorist violence. We can forgive Israel for inconveniencing a Palestinian child’s commute to school if the obstruction helps prevent her brother, sister or father from splattering the brains of another Israeli baby over the inside of a bus.


Oak Hill, Va

RU-486 poses health risks

If the Food and Drug Administration needed any more reason to review the dangers of the chemical abortion drug RU-486, the Alameda County, Calif., coroner’s office may soon supply the evidence. The case involves an East Bay teenager who died just days after taking RU-486 given to her at a Planned Parenthood clinic, according to the victim’s father (“Teen dead after abortion pill,” Nation, yesterday).

Since the FDA approved the chemical abortifacient in September 2000, the mounting medical evidence — deaths, severe hemorrhaging, serious bacterial infections and heart attacks — indicates that the RU-486 regimen poses severe health risks to women and teenagers. Clinics routinely dispense the drug for women to use at home. Yet, as the recent tragedy in Alameda County appears to illustrate, women at home cannot be expected to distinguish between the pain and bleeding that typically accompany RU-486 and similar symptoms that presage fatal septicemia.

A recall petition filed with the FDA by physicians and women’s advocates in August 2002 chronicles how politically pressured FDA officials ditched the agency’s own well-established standards in accepting poorly constructed RU-486 trials that were not randomized or concurrently controlled. The FDA also inexplicably waived its rule requiring the testing of all new drugs for their potential effects on children and teens.

Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate should agree that in the interest of patient safety, the FDA must objectively evaluate drugs based on medical evidence — not political manipulation. In the case of the RU-486 drug regimen, that evidence is pointing to a serious threat to women’s health and lives, as families who have lost loved ones are now learning all too painfully.


Senior policy analyst

Christian Medical Association — Washington Bureau

Springfield Va.

A nasty business

Thomas Sowell’s “Risky business” (Commentary, Sunday) is very nasty business. It’s one thing to attack the concept of allowing judges and juries to decide damage lawsuits for injuries and deaths resulting from negligence. It’s quite another thing to call a respected federal judge a “jackass” for his ruling allowing a lawsuit to proceed against airplane manufacturers and the World Trade Center for September 11, 2001 deaths and injuries.

The Times’ position on damage lawsuits and tort “reform” is crystal-clear from its numerous editorials, commentaries and cartoons on the subject. Although I thoroughly disagree with The Times’ view, I have to admit that some of the cartoons are funny. But the Sowell commentary crosses over the line from opinion to invective. As our parents would tell us, “It’s not nice.”



Mickey — he’s our man

I really appreciated Dick Heller’s piece on Mickey Vernon’s illustrious career with the old Washington Senators (“In his hometown, Mickey Vernon’s the man,” Sports, Monday), and I agree that the former star should be voted into the great Cooperstown Valhalla.

Mr. Heller correctly points out that Vernon won the American League batting championship in 1946, but I think it’s worth noting that this was upon his return from service in World War II.

Numerous ballplayers returned to the diamond that 1946 season after having served their country in the military, among them the already legendary Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. But it was Senators first baseman Mickey Vernon who stepped back up to the plate and captured the league batting title.



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