- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2004

Poetic ranting

Regarding Abe Novick’s poetic yet overwrought diatribe, “Fashioning a convention” (Commentary, Tuesday), allow me to point out that Downtown for Democracy is indeed a political action committee, but it has no connection to the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas. Downtown for Democracy is engaged in mobilizing the arts community to raise funds for candidates who embody democratic ideals. We hope Mr. Novick has had time to come down from his contorted rant.

GINA NANNI

Co-founder

Downtown for Democracy

New York

Dangerous — but still dolphin-free

Goody Solomon’s column “Bum rap for the albacore” (Commentary, Wednesday) is unfortunately misleading and uninformed. The mercury levels found in many species of fish are high enough to cause great harm to men, women and children.

To imply that the tenfold factor of safety calculated into the Food and Drug Administration-Environmental Protection Agency reference dose indicates that we can eat 10 times as much mercury-contaminated fish is outright wrong.

The reference dose, which has been determined by prominent scientists based on a vast body of mercury toxicity studies, should be adhered to, despite tuna-industry pressure on the FDA. There are plenty of alternatives to mercury-contaminated albacore tuna, swordfish and shark that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Why doesn’t Mrs. Solomon explore these alternatives instead of defending albacore tuna and, by default, the tuna industry? If the tuna industry had its way, none of us would have a clue that albacore tuna is high in mercury. The industry has fought FDA warnings tooth and nail from the beginning. There is no health-based reason to defend albacore tuna as a safe food for our families.

ANDY PERI

Marine species campaigner

Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Forest Knolls, Calif.

Missing the target

As a staunch supporter of national missile defense, I was surprisedtoseeBaker Spring’s mischaracterization of my intentions for the program (“Taking shots at missile defense,” Commentary, Wednesday).

My amendment, offered during committee action on the Department of Defense authorization bill and not adopted, would protect funding for missile defense by fencing it in while establishing a testing goal. The funds for the program would not have been reduced. They would not have been diverted. They were simply to be held while the system was tested.

Does it not make sense to test weapons systems, if not for the fiscal responsibility of the idea of testing then for the national security imperative that our defense systems need to work in order to be effective? Would America be safe with a deployed missile defense system that doesn’t work? Is a scarecrow a scarecrow if it doesn’t scare crows?

My office communicated to Mr. Spring the error in his column when it first ran on the Heritage Foundation’s Web site on May 20. He brushed off the use of the word “cut” by saying he got it from other reporting on the committee proceedings. That other report has since been corrected by the reporter. Mr. Spring, however, seems comfortable not only relying on the work of others, but ignoring when his source material is corrected. Mr. Spring is entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own set of facts.

SEN. BEN NELSON

Washington

Europe’s socialist ‘recovery’

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (“old” Europe), having experienced an economic miracle after World War II thanks to U.S. recovery efforts wants governments to raise taxes to level the playing field for its own high-tax economies. Why? Because France and Germany forgot that economic freedom (fewer regulations, lower taxes, etc.) empowers and enriches people. Post-postwar socialist trends involving income redistribution brought about stagnation, so these countries predictably began to raise taxes.

Now Richard Rahn (“Europe’s new oppressors,” Commentary, Tuesday) reports that the OECD has not given up on its goal to force Americans and former Communist states (new entrants into the European Union) into line in the guise of tax fairness. If you thought our economy was slow, just look at old Europe’s bust with its anti-growth schemes. Socialism never worked. An ignorant person is one who keeps trying the same old way, hoping for a different outcome. Old Europe needs its doddering old head examined, and we would do well to avoid going down that rutted road leading to poverty.

When you look at it, it actually looks like something from the Democratic platform. Aren’t they socialists at heart anyway?

EMILY BROBST

Springfield

The rise of buildings, the fall of quality

To counter Thomas Sowell’s “Counting the Costs” (Commentary, Tuesday): Suppose allowable building heights doubled in a desirable coastal city, say San Francisco or Santa Monica. Here are the most likely results:

• Rents and purchase prices in the city would not go down. The added supply would be small compared with the existing metropolitan area and would be absorbed at high prices.

• Traffic would increase, not decrease. People who can afford luxury housing do not generally ride buses stuck in boulevard traffic. Most of coastal California lacks transit that’s attractive to choice riders, and there is neither space nor funding for new road capacity.

• Quality of life would degrade for everyone seeking sunlight, breezes, views and open space.

• Nearly everyone in the United States would like to live at the beach in California, if only they could afford to and had a job here and weren’t dissuaded by traffic, schools, crowding, etc. There is no more possibility that we could build our way to affordability by the coast than that we can build enough roads to end congestion. We could ruin quality of life while trying.

• Perhaps housing prices and traffic would decrease at the margin in outlying areas as residents moved to coastal areas, but those prices already are low.

DARRELL CLARKE

Santa Monica, Calif.

So what’s the problem?

The article “U.N. to assess rights of Iraqis” by Betsy Pisik (Page 1, Monday) states, “Washington has staked out an increasingly moral and, in many quarters, unpopular stand in the [U.N. Human Rights Commission] by aggressively seeking the censure of China, Zimbabwe, Cuba and other dictatorial regimes, even as it defends Israel.”

What is wrong with “defending” Israel? It is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country in that region that respects human rights, the only democratically elected government with a democratically elected prime minister.

ALBERT EPSHTEYN

Richmond, Va.

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