- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Antiquated or ‘brilliant’?

The Electoral College is a mechanism that protects the interests of the less populous states, just as the Senate, with two senators per state, balances the House of Representatives, whose districts are apportioned by population.

Rather than being antiquated, as Steve Chapman posits in his half of “Electoral College vices … and virtues” (Commentary, Monday), the Electoral College is a brilliant mechanism for balancing the interests of the large and small states, ensuring that no one is overlooked. If one candidate wins the national popular vote and the other wins the Electoral College vote, it is the Electoral College winner who has broader regional support and is more deserving of representing the nation.

DAVID M. CHRISTHILF

Poquoson, Va.

Your Monday point-counterpoint by Steve Chapman and Paul Greenberg on the Electoral College was an informative discussion by two good writers, but they missed the mark on why the Electoral College is as important today as when the Constitution was signed.

When states elect presidents, as the Founding Fathers clearly intended and as has served us well for centuries, the minorities are protected from majorities — it is not the case, as Mr. Chapman states, that “the will of the majority is what truly matters.” Likewise, Mr. Chapman is wrong that the Electoral College “confers no meaningful authority on state governments.”

To the contrary, state governments, at the behest of their voters, elect the president, and you can’t have more power than that. Victory should not “go to the person with the most votes.” The states were founded and given power to run the day-to-day affairs of their residents because the lower the level of responsible government, the more responsive it is to the people.

Our states are the hallmark of our successful system of government. The massive shift of authority from state to federal government in the past 30 years has been harmful to minorities of citizens everywhere. We do not need to further weaken state powers; rather, we should be actively seeking to strengthen them and return to the states the authorities absorbed by the federal government in recent years.

JIM BEERS

Centreville

Same old story

Cal Thomas deplores the Aug. 16 Florida court ruling against that state’s school voucher plan (“Putting Florida’s children dead last,” Commentary, Sunday). He writes that the ruling deprives children of “freedom of choice.”

The Florida Constitution, however, seeks to protect the religious freedom of choice of all of the state’s residents by preventing the state from forcing all taxpayers to contribute involuntarily to the support of pervasively sectarian institutions.

Mr. Thomas further suggests that Gov. Jeb Bush should campaign for an amendment to remove this protection from the state constitution. That was tried in other states 25 times between 1967 and 2000, and each time, voters from coast to coast rejected school vouchers or their analogues by an average 2-1 margin. Florida voters surely would do the same.

EDD DOERR

President

Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

An ox to gore

Charles Hurt’s article “GOP reluctant to criticize Edwards over tort reform” (Nation, Monday) shows that the Republicans may be afraid of goring their own ox.

When Sen. John Edwards trots out one of his severely injured clients as a defense, it doesn’t refute the claim that he has managed to accrue a large fortune at quite a young age by overcharging his (usually relatively poor) clients. As an officer of the court, he has special privileges that should not include the right to accrue tens of millions from judgments to those who actually were subject to the disability.

Mr. Edwards also established an S corporation, which sets up the company as a legal entity, or artificial person, to separate it from the owner to collect some of those justice lottery winnings. Thereby, the owner avoids having to pay tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands in medicare taxes. While that may be legal, as Mr. Edwards claims, lawyers typically have to work within a partnership, not a corporate arrangement. How did he manage that one? This guy may have helped some severely disabled people, but because he clearly picked their pockets, Mother Teresa he ain’t.

DENIS ABLES

Vienna

A ‘braggart soldier’

In an otherwise excellent column exposing Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, as a “braggart soldier” who clearly is more fraud than hero (“Playing the crowd,” Op-Ed, Monday), John Dwyer left out what is perhaps the most damning revelation about this modern-day Walter Mitty found in the must-read expose “Unfit for Command”: On Page 127, Mr. Kerry’s campaign spokesman, Michael Meehan, admits that Mr. Kerry traveled to Paris in May 1970 to meet with Nguyen Thi Binh, who was the Viet Cong’s foreign minister, and other North Vietnamese authorities. Mr. Meehan makes the incredible claim that Mr. Kerry was on a “fact-finding” mission. Please.

What “facts” did he expect to learn from Hanoi’s chief propagandists in Paris? It is well-established that American radicals in the so-called “peace” movement, including Mr. Kerry’s Vietnam Veterans Against the War, frequently visited Paris to coordinate tactics with North Vietnamese leaders to achieve the goal of removing U.S. forces from Vietnam, thus ensuring a Communist victory.

Even if Mr. Kerry were not a witting collaborator, his meeting with Madam Binh, et al., was, at a minimum, extremely unseemly … perhaps even traitorous. Mr. Kerry needs to answer this question: “Why did you meet with North Vietnamese Communist leaders in Paris whose comrades were killing your ‘brothers’ in Nam?” One wonders.

GARY L. JARMIN

Alexandria

Wal-Mart and the community

In response to your Monday editorial “A Wal-Mart welcome,” which lists the anticipated benefits of the addition of a Wal-Mart store to the Brentwood retail complex, I must take issue — as a Ward 5 resident — with a presentation that fails to take into account the sense of the community involved.

Those of us who live here are more conflicted about the need for development at any cost, as evidenced by the outcry against the slots proposal.

At issue for our community is not simply the clear need for more investment, but rather the need to balance the anticipated benefits of specific proposals, such as this one, against their likely costs. In addition to the familiar arguments against this particular corporation, which many readers may choose to dismiss on purely ideological grounds, there are other factors to consider.

In particular, the addition of any large retailer to the Brentwood complex is likely to exacerbate what is an already greater-than-anticipated increase in the volume of traffic at what can best be described as a pedestrian-hostile development. Many residents of this community also take offense at the absence of public outreach, given that the proposed store is not the one originally pitched to the city by developers.

Finally, other development is proposed for this location, and it is disingenuous to pretend that Wal-Mart’s presence will not influence the ability to secure long-term tenants.

You have done the residents of Ward 5 a great disservice by dismissing anyone who questions the recent change in plans as “the usual suspects” and characterizing us as anything other than what we are: concerned citizens.

REGINA L. SANTUCCI

Washington


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