- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2004

On swiftboat service

In response to Howard Salter’s letter (“Kerry and the ‘swiftees’,” Saturday): Not every crew member who served on Sen. John Kerry’s boat swears to his bravery and leadership. Mr. Kerry did, indeed, join voluntarily, and, as it turns out, he would have been well-advised to leave it at that. He made his four months a major theme at the convention — rather than his subsequent 20 years in the Senate, and for good reason. His claims of heroism are therefore fair game.

In any event, it’s Mr. Kerry’s character that is in question here, even assuming he is a hero. Three Purple Hearts, none of which required hospitalization. That has to be a new record.

His commanding officer rejected his application for a Purple Heart in the case of his first “wound,” but Mr. Kerry evidently figured out how to obtain one anyway. Mr. Kerry’s story about his illegal action in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 under President Nixon, which he said was “seared” into his memory, turns out to be false. The action was far from Cambodia, and Mr. Nixon wasn’t president at the time.

One of his awards is based on a rescue “under gunfire,” which is contested by crewmen from nearby swiftboats. Apparently none of the boats had so much as a bullet hole, which seems to confirm those men’s (rather than his) memory.

It’s no surprise that people favoring President Bush helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Who would you expect to finance these veterans’ complaints, George Soros?

Finally, Mr. Kerry is whining about something that has been running 10-fold against Mr. Bush, and almost all of that ilk contains not a shred of truth.

DENIS ABLES

Vienna

Leading by example?

Since New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey announced his homosexual affair and future resignation, honorable individuals from both sides of the aisle have called upon him to leave office immediately so as not to cause the state further humiliation and degradation (“N.J. Republicans pressure governor to leave office,” Nation, Wednesday). Thus far, Mr. McGreevey has demonstrated that he has a tin ear, insisting that he will resign at his convenience and on the date that will enable him to select his successor.

Why should this matter of momentous importance be solely in the hands of the governor, against whom a prima facia case of corruption has been made? It is likely that Mr. McGreevey appointed to a prominent security position someone with no relevant experience, someone who in fact was not able to protect the people of New Jersey. By maintaining a secret affair, Mr. McGreevey placed himself in a position where he could be blackmailed. His official actions as governor may have been distorted by the need to do what was necessary for the affair not to be revealed.

Why is the New Jersey legislature not conducting a swift investigation, demanding that Mr. McGreevey appear before it, and considering a recommendation of impeachment for high crimes in office?

An elected official who may have committed criminal acts should not be the sole director of his destiny and should not be able to engage in the charade that he is still a legitimate and powerful leader. There is recourse to the people in every jurisdiction that enables corrupt elected officials to be removed forcibly if they do not have the decency and honor to remove themselves. No one should wait for Mr. McGreevey to demonstrate such honor or decency.

Is there anyone who would make the argument that James McGreevey is in any position to govern between now and his designated date of resignation?

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

The voice of the voters

Bruce Bartlett (“Electoral drain in Colorado?” Commentary, Friday) calls Colorado’s move to apportion electoral votes according to the popular vote “transparently partisan.”

But how can a plan that moves our presidential election closer to the principle of “one person, one vote” possibly be partisan? Colorado’s idea is an excellent one and should be adopted in all states, regardless of whether they lean Republican or Democratic.

GEOFFREY J. KING

Austin, Texas

Poppy problems

Your editorial “Poppies and Afghanistan” (yesterday) highlights the threats posed by poppy farming in Afghanistan. While your points are noted, I am perplexed by Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld’s enthusiasm for pursuing a war on Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade at this time. I question whether this would be the best use of valuable resources at this stage of the war on terror.

After September 11, we invaded Afghanistan to eliminate Osama bin Laden and the Taliban who supported him. Despite several close calls, bin Laden has managed to escape capture. Then, while we were hot on his heels last year, troops and other resources suddenly were diverted from Afghanistan to support the war in Iraq — a country that posed no imminent threat to the United States. Now, while we continue to occupy Iraq despite the absence of weapons of mass destruction and a missing link to al Qaeda, bin Laden remains free to plot real threats against the United States.

Heroin is dangerous stuff, but bin Laden is far more dangerous. Let’s set our priorities accordingly.

MARY T. SHAW

Norristown, Pa.

Those in Washington who think of eradicating poppies in Afghanistan have little clue about the Afghan society that has been living almost entirely on poppy subsistence for centuries and is not about to change, even if the only world superpower wishes it to do so. I guess policy-makers in Washington, with several job offers in waiting, are divorced from the realities of Afghanistan, where the only job one can find in rural areas is to grow poppies.

Eradicating the poppy will eradicate Afghan culture, too: People will have to move to already crowded cities to find jobs, creating housing and public-health nightmares. The United States should consider legally buying Afghan opium for pharmaceutical purposes. Washington should stop buying opium from India and instead buy from Afghanistan.

This way, the Afghan opium problem can be solved without any catastrophic disruption to Afghan society.

DAVID KHAN

Juneau, Alaska

Marginalizing the men

Cheryl Wetzstein’s article “Court asked to ‘depublish’ child-support ruling” (Nation, Thursday) upset me. Although the action in the first paragraph sounded a little anti-male, it was the last one that upset me most — I can’t believe people such as Paula Roberts believe the truth should be superceded by anything erroneously decreed by the government.

“At what point should the truth about genetic parentage outweigh the consequences of leaving a child fatherless?” Miss Roberts of the Center for Law and Social Policy asked, as quoted in the article. My answer to Miss Roberts’ question is: “At every point.”

It is horrible that men are being marginalized on a daily basis by the media, with the politically correct double standard supporting it, but it is even more disgusting when the government is heaping it on, too.

MIKE SANCHEZ

Tempe, Ariz.


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