- The Washington Times - Friday, December 31, 2004

Money for war and parties?

Regarding “Inaugural to honor armed services” (Nation, Dec. 16): President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration was held without fanfare because of World War II.

What a pity that President Bush, whose second inauguration will be celebrated as the grandest ever, cannot humble himself in the face of the heightening war in Iraq and follow the wise, unselfish dictates of Mr. Roosevelt, who understood what it meant to be a war president.


Portland, Ore.

Many people in America have been outraged to hear how much the 2004 inaugural ball will cost. There have been articles in newspapers across America on this subject.

I’m wondering: How can there be money for celebrating when our military personnel are lacking in the necessary armor to protect themselves and end up dying or seriously injured? This really bothers me. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear of another fallen soldier. Is there really enough money for a party?


Sandy, Utah

A good deal for whom?

A mighty blow against the people has been struck with final approval of public financing for a new baseball stadium for Washington, which Mayor Anthony A. Williams, much to his shame and disgrace, triumphantly signed into law (“Baseball’s return becomes official,” Page 1, Thursday).

For a while, it appeared that the D.C. Council would courageously stick to its guns in doing what was right, demanding at least partial private funding for this private project. The forces of evil won the final battle, however, with the council capitulating to the demands of Mr. Williams and Major League Baseball. The city agreed to float a staggering $500 million in bonds to pay for the project, with only a hope that some private investment will be added.

This expenditure of public money is all the more outrageous and wildly inappropriate given the widely acknowledged funding challenges for crumbling D.C. schools and libraries, which obviously should come before baseball.

Mr. Williams, apparently with a straight face, promotes the project as one that will be a magic elixir for the District that will produce hundreds of millions of dollars for the city, paying for public works and sparking economic development.

The people of Southwestern Pennsylvania heard the same platitudes, the same empty promises when we were assaulted by a bipartisan band of pickpockets who required us to build stadiums for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers.

The economic development did not happen, but even if it did, it still would have been unlawful and immoral to force the working poor to allow the multimillionaires of sports to stick their hands deep into the people’s pockets to fund their playtime, hardly an expenditure that justifies harnessing the police powers of government. Resentment and bitterness linger to this day over the stadium tax grab.

The District’s mayor and city council should not be rejoicing over having fleeced the public once again, but should hang their heads in shame over exceeding their authority as elected officials. At least the people of Washington, as they suffer poor public schools and inadequate libraries, can find comfort in knowing they have enabled the lords of baseball to continue to live like kings at their expense.


Upper St. Clair, Pa.

Trade with China beneficial?

Rep. Bernie Sanders’ “Selling out to China?” (Commentary, Sunday) serves as a poignant reminder that those proponents of granting permanent normal trading relations (previously “most favored nation”) status to China have oversold their case.

Contrary to their expectations, China’s human-rights record has not improved and in some areas has deteriorated since the early 1990s, according to the U.S. State Department and the human-rights community.

China’s trade surplus vis-a-vis the United States exceeds $120 billion per year, larger than the U.S. deficit with any other nation, and this gap is likely to widen with the lifting of global restrictions on textile products.

The most disturbing development, however, is that China has used its huge trade surpluses and growing economic might to rapidly modernize its military; to secure long-term energy access to Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Australia and Central Asia; and to aggressively expand its power in Asia and on the world stage when the United States is preoccupied with the war on terrorism and Iraqi reconstruction.

Not all trade is benign. Shouldn’t our government review the security implications of commercial relations with China?


Associate professor of political science

University of Richmond


Caring for the elderly

Bob Barr’s Op-Ed column “Euthanasia … or a ‘Dutch treat,’ ” (Dec. 26), starts an important debate. The lives of the elderly and severely ill can be prolonged by heroic medical treatment, but such costly intervention may be practical only when dedicated family members are available to care for the patient.

In past generations, even stronger families accepted the idea that one lived as long as one was productive and was “meant to live.” The falling birth rate (discussed in recent books such as Phillip Longman’s “The Empty Cradle” and Peter Peterson’s “Running on Empty”) comports with weaker nuclear families and a technological society that offers people opportunities besides becoming parents. This development surely can have an impact on our respect for human life for its own sake. I wonder whether 10 years from now the homosexual “marriage” debate will have mutated into a discussion about filial and family responsibility, even for the childless. It needs to.



Count on Australia

In an otherwise excellent column about the American election (“Americans pass gut test,” Op-Ed, Wednesday), Tony Blankley erroneously stated that the American public was the “only one” that chose to “stand and fight” the war on terrorism. He apparently overlooked the October re-election of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who also has sent troops to Iraq.

Australia could prove to be an important ally in the war on terrorism and should not be underestimated. Australia was instrumental in establishing democracy in East Timor and is strategically located near terrorist hideouts in the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan. Australia also responded generously with humanitarian aid for the victims of the recent tsunami in southern Asia.


West Hartford, Conn.

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