- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003

A level playing field

Arundel High School Athletic Director Bernie Walter is concerned that girls playing field hockey against teams with boys — in this case, Anne Arundel County’s Meade High School — are placed “at physical risk” (“Playing like a girl is goal for boys,”Page 1, Friday). Rubbish. That would mean that boys are naturally stronger, faster and more aggressive, that there are physical differences between the sexes that place girls at a disadvantage in coed athletic events. As the more enlightened of us realize, and everyone else should have learned from the myriad gender-neutralization programs mandated at all levels of government,suchtraditional concepts as “boys sports” and “girls sports” are simply chauvinist artifacts of a gender-biased culture.

If girls can don a pair of shoulder pads and play football with the guys or pull up a singlet and trade body holds with the boys on the wrestling mat, what possible physical risk could a guy in a skirt pose on the field-hockey turf? The fact that few girl football players actually make a varsity team except as kickers, or that the even fewer high school girl wrestlers who win a match are seniors wrestling freshmen boys (or other girls) is because of prejudiced coaches and benighted parents, not physiology.

SAMUEL R. LEWIS



Oak Hill, Va.

OPEC and 2004

OPEC members have voted to cut oil production (“OPEC agrees to 3.5 percent cut in output,” Business, Thursday), which, in effect, is the same as the oil cartel raising prices. It seems they have grown accustomed to the windfall profits from record high prices they have received for the past year because of the Iraq situation.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries voted to cut production 3.5 percent, which will likely raise prices at the gasoline pump. That will mean more billions of American dollars will go to the rich oil sheiks of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia every month as well as to the Iraqis, who also were present at the meeting. Apparently, the $87 billion President Bush is asking American taxpayers to fork out for Iraq isn’t enough for them.

At times like this, one must remember that Saudi Arabia is the country that spawned Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 terrorists who crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11. Kuwait is the country we saved from Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War. Iraq is the country we just fought to liberate. Apparently, this is the way they repay America.

One also must note that the big oil companies, which enjoyed record profits at the expense of consumers this past year, are about to get richer, too. They already have reaped huge benefits from the war in Iraq and the Bush tax cuts. Now, they likely will receive another windfall from OPEC raising prices. Are they really that lucky? Or does the fact that they are Mr. Bush’s friends and largest campaign contributors have something to do with it?

All of this seems very wrong to me. I think the only solution is to drop Mr. Bush and elect a president who has the interests of working Americans at heart instead of those of the Iraqis and the rich.

WILLIAM ELLERMAN

Silver Spring

The California heavyweight?

Despite Bill Simon’s endorsement (McClintock pressed to quit race,” Page 1, Friday), Arnold Schwarzenegger still doesn’t have “it.” Even though the conservative California Republican Assembly supports him, state Sen. Tom McClintock doesn’t have “it,” either. In order to win the recall election, one of them desperately must get it and quick.

“It” is the one endorsement every Republican, young or old, will respect. It is the DNA both GOP candidates hope to pass on to voters before Oct. 7. It is the litmus test that measures one’s conservative genealogy. It is the lottery ticket both Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. McClintock need to cash in on if one of them is to emerge victorious.

“It” is a Reagan endorsement. Maybe not from the former president himself, given his deteriorating state of health, but from the keeper of the Gipper’s flame, the love of his life, Nancy. No one on the planet is closer to the “Great Communicator” than she is. Lynn Nofziger, Mr. Reagan’s former political point man, may be backing Mr. McClintock, but that doesn’t count in my book.

If there’s anything to be learned from this week’s publication of “Reagan: A Life in Letters,” it is this: The former president (and don’t forget, governor) always was upbeat, optimistic and curious about the future. That said, one naturally wonders whom he would be inclined to endorse, the actor-turned-politician or the state senator?

One of them needs to knock the other guy out of the race soon. A political right hook (no left hooks, please) from the Reagan camp truly would mean that Christmas has arrived early for either Mr. Schwarzenegger or Mr. McClintock. It’s time for Mrs. Reagan to send a letter to one of them.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach

Inside the Cancun talks

While I agree with the general thrust of Gary J. Andres’ column “Pragmatic trade policies” (Op-Ed, Thursday) and back the Bush administration’s approach of “a multifaceted and simultaneous trade liberalization strategy,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick’s negotiating strategy in Cancun, Mexico, seemed odd. As an outside — but officially credentialed — observer at the talks, I saw things a bit differently.

It wasn’t the concept of free trade that brought about the collapse of the World Trade Organization meetings. Rather, it was interest-group protectionism and the power of lobbies. America bears a fair portion of the blame. Representing more than 25 percent of global gross domestic product with less than 5 percent of global population and backed by the awesome power of the dollar, the United States clearly was the dominant force in Cancun. However, despite our “cowboy capitalist” image, American representatives were hardly calling for a Wild West open marketplace.

American negotiators were fighting pitched battles to protect government farm subsidies and draw red lines around their monopolykindergarten-through-12th-grade public education and postal sectors. A U.S. spokeswoman even proudly announced America’s decision to protect public schools from trade pressures. Ironically, this came the day after President Bush’s Washington school voucher plan, intended to promote education competition, passed the House of Representatives.

Perhaps the strangest case of U.S. protectionism is America’s government-enforced postal monopoly. The European Union has been using WTO negotiations to help privatize its postal sector, but America eschews postal competition. While the European Union is fining Deutsche Post for using its first-class mail monopoly to crush private carriers, America rewards its Postal Service with an official seat at the intergovernmental trade table.

As powerful and wealthy as America is, such dubious positions are of little benefit when negotiating with developing nations that are merely trying to get a seat at the capitalist free-trade table.

MERRICK CAREY

Chief executive officer

Lexington Institute

Arlington

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