Monday, February 23, 2004

The myth of ‘safe-sex’

In “Abstinence promise” (Culture, Thursday), reporter Cheryl Wetzstein aptly portrays the stark contrast in both philosophy and funding of the culture war over sex education.

The abortion activists at NARAL Pro-Choice America decry abstinence education as promoting “censorship, shame and fear.” The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) charges that by advocating abstinence, President Bush “has allowed ideology and politics to triumph over science.”

In reality, abstinence education employs science to expose the myth of “safe-sex,” promotes self-respect and encourages the strength to say no to sexual risk and exploitation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a frequent target of conservatives, recently reported that abstinence and monogamy are the most reliable ways to avoid certain sexually transmitted diseases, including human papillomavirus (HPV) (“Abstinence key to avoiding sex disease,” Nation, Feb. 3).

In what must have been a blow to the groups that have reaped literally billions of taxpayer dollars to herald condoms as the holy grail of “safe sex,” the CDC report to Congress concluded that “the available scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend condoms as a primary prevention strategy” for HPV.

Teen-agers need encouragement to save sex for marriage, and the Bush administration is facilitating such support through abstinence education funding. On behalf of the millions of parents, teen-agers, teachers and physicians who support this ethically sound and scientifically accurate approach, thank you, Mr. President.


Senior policy analyst

Christian Medical Association

Ashburn, Va.

A winning strategy at Georgetown

Last summer, a student from Georgetown University came to work in my office. Given the pace of our operations, this would be a challenging assignment for any college student. He not only succeeded, however, but impressed us all with his intelligence, discipline and professional demeanor.

That student was Courtland Freeman. Today, Mr. Freeman is a star player for the Georgetown Hoyas, but he is more than that. He is an outstanding young man with a promising future.

This is not unusual for the Georgetown team under the leadership of Craig Esherick. Coach Esherick is building a program that remains competitivewithoutsacrificing Georgetown’s academic standards or the futures of the young men in his charge. Given how few college players have any hope of a career in professional sports, that should be the goal of every program across the country.

As a coach, John Thompson always made it clear that his top priority was helping his players graduate and grow as people. Coach. Esherick has built on that legacy. Indeed, it is that commitment to character that has always made the Hoyas the team to watch.

The acid coverage in The Washington Times (“Hurting Hoyas,” Sports, Thursday), however, barely even registers that the Hoyas are a college team. It would be nice to see The Times leave the petty editorializing to the Duke fans and just cover the ebb and flow of a program that remains first-rate.



Enter Nader, stage left

With the entry of Ralph Nader into the 2004 presidential race, surely champagne corks are popping at the White House, as President Bush’s probability of re-election has soared. (“Nader to make fourth run for president,” Page 1, yesterday.)

Given the virtual 50-50 ideological split of our nation, many have predicted a presidential race similar to the stunning 2000 contest, with the victor winning by a razor-thin margin and some states tilting to one candidate by perhaps just a few hundred votes.

Students of politics know that in such a race, Mr. Nader would tilt close contests to the president, as he did in 2000, because Nader voters are liberal-socialist in nature, not persons who would ever be inclined to vote for a Republican.

I admire Mr. Nader greatly. He is a brilliant, highly educated and learned man who is honest and upfront about his beliefs. He has never hesitated to skewer public officials of all political persuasions with whom he disagrees. Mr. Nader would add a fascinating element to a debate, his irreverence making it clear why neither party wishes him to be a participant.

Notwithstanding Mr. Nader’s intellectualqualifications, Americans, to their credit, have rejected him as a viable presidential candidate, as his mantra is primarily, “I hate big business and the wealthy and will bring both to their knees.” Voters have recognized what a disaster his plan for income redistribution would be and how it would destroy a free-market, capitalist economy if Congress were ever twisted enough to follow Mr. Nader down his dangerous path.

Mr. Nader will enliven the presidential race and fascinate Americans, but let there be no mistake: In the final analysis, his “legacy” will be only that he ensured the re-election of Mr. Bush.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Energy debate keeps going, and going

The current energy legislative environment fails to promote real infrastructure investment, which is critically needed, as we have seen in the electrical system failures of the past several years (“Wanted: an energy bill,” Editorials, Wednesday).

The previous incarnation of the current energy bill, which failed in the last Congress, had loan guarantees to speed the construction of the next generation of nuclear plants. Without new power plants, we will have inadequate power supplies and be forced to keep old, polluting coal-burning plants limping along for decades more and also be dependent on high-cost gas-fired plants.

There are no incentives in the current economic structure of our electrical system for building transmission facilities, yet these are critically needed. No utility makes money selling transmission; they sell electricity. Without both real reform supporting electrical transmission and a new spurt of construction of major emission-free power plants, we will have neither the power and environment we need, nor a means for reliably delivering it.



Laboratory for Development of Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Materials

University of Florida



The current energy bill is a disappointing, pale shadow of the original Senate bill, which, though full of pork, did have important infrastructure provisions that failed to be preserved. This economy is driven by electricity, and the two biggest sources are coal and nuclear power. Decades of subsidies, grants and other giveaways have not made alternative energy sources very attractive, and even windmills cannot compete with coal or nuclear power. We need to wake up to that fact and move to support the next generation of these major domestic sources.

While the current bill provides some help for “clean coal,” it does little to promote new construction. Worse, the loan guarantees that were to jump-start the next generation of safe, more economical nuclear plants are gone. The United States cannot bet its future on the status quo or on future technologies that may or may not work. We need an energy bill that promotes a healthy economy, and this is not it.



Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab

University of Texas at AustinTel: (512) 232-2467

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