- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2004

Kerry couldn’t be bothered

On Wednesday, the Senate, on a 99-0 vote, approved “Project BioShield” legislation to pay for research and the production and stockpiling of vaccines and antidotes for bioterror agents (” ‘BioShield’ gets Senate OK,” Nation, Thursday). Of the 100 senators, only one apparently felt this anti-terror homeland-security legislation was not important. Of the 100 senators, only one did not bother to vote.

That is the senator who seeks to be the next president of the United States, John Kerry.

His absence on such a vital national security issue is disturbing and speaks volumes about his priority of keeping the United States safe from terrorism. When the real work of government needed to be done, fulfilling his duties in fighting terrorism from the Senate, Mr. Kerry was missing in action.

Can the United States afford to elect as president a man who cannot even take the issue of terrorism seriously as a senator?



Victory over vitriol

I wonder if the basis of Georgie Ann Geyer’s strong feeling that Tony Blair is on the way out as British prime minister (“Buffeted in Britain,” Commentary, Thursday) is not on the same shaky foundation as if one were to predict the future of President Bush based on what reads in The Washington Post, ignoring The Washington Times. Of course, one’s personal bias also helps, and there has been no doubt for some time as to where Miss Geyer stands on this issue.

Those of us whose memory stretches that far back — and I’m sure Miss Geyer falls in that category — may recall the vitriol faced by Winston Churchill when his pleas for intervention against the Nazis were ignored by Neville Chamberlain. One also may recall the bitter opposition to our going to war against Japan and Germany, even after Pearl Harbor, led by that otherwise great American hero, Charles Lindbergh. We are fortunate that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew what was right.

If there is one personal action in my lifetime that I regret, it is having participated in one of the Washington marches to get us out of Vietnam. We should have stayed the course. We didn’t lose that conflict; we didn’t try to win. Far too many people in that part of the world are being persecuted today because we gave up the struggle to set them free.

We are engaged in a war against a tyrannical cult that seeks to wipe out all our freedoms and liberty and to imprison, enslave or execute all who do not bow to their will in every way. This is a conflict we must win, not just for our own good, but also for the good of all peoples in all countries of the world. Mistakes will be made along the way, but they can and will be corrected.

It’s time to stop picking on one another for the sake of securing a political victory. It is essential that we all pull together to win this war.



The cheap alternative

Your “Kerry the energy guzzler” editorial (Thursday) was right in one respect: Diverting the current Strategic Petroleum Reserve fill rate of 105,000 barrels per day, or about one-half of 1 percent of America’s total daily oil consumption, is hardly enough to make a dent in the gasoline market.

What will make a difference is adding 20 billion gallons of home-grown ethanol to a comprehensive energy strategy.

No matter which way the Republican or Democratic winds blow, there are two reasons why oil is selling for more than $40 a barrel: First, the worldwide production of liquid fuels is very unstable, to say the least, and second, because we have been slow to devise alternative ways to power vehicles, especially sport utility vehicles.

The hydrogen highway — the on-ramp to a new econometric model — enjoys widespread support among political leaders and environmentalists alike. The only trouble is that many of them live in Japan, Canada, China or Brazil.

With their pocketbooks focused squarely on increasing production of biomass to ethanol, these countries quickly are developing strategic plans that bridge the gap between their dependence on oil imports and their desire for energy independence. We need to be doing the same thing in this country.

Present circumstances underscore several reasons to invest more in ethanol.

First, the environmentally correct phaseout of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) nationwide has created an 11 percent fuel liquids shortage. This shortfall cannot be made up by current refinery capacity, nor does it appear that new refineries will be built anytime soon. Second, high oil and gas prices, which are expected to persist for the foreseeable future, will increase demand for alternative fuels. Third, more ethanol-fueled (E-85) and hybrid cars will be on the road. Finally, there are newer and better ways of producing ethanol.

Technologies developed in the United States and commercialized around the world produce ethanol from wood waste, paper and much of what ends up in sanitary landfills. The production of home-grown ethanol from waste will create billions of gallons of new fuel domestically. Practically speaking, this means we can extend the life of landfills, create a reliable source of energy and drop the price of gas at the pump.

These are all good outcomes that everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, can support.



Arkenol Fuels

Irvine, Calif.

Not the best move

Your article regarding the disconfirmation of Cheri Pierson Yecke as Minnesota education commissioner (“School reformer rejected for post,” Nation, Thursday) said that the Democratic-led Senate “pressured” an independent to vote against Mrs. Yecke’s confirmation. You neglected to mention that just days before, the Republican senators in Minnesota kicked this independent, Sen. Sheila M. Kiscaden, out of their caucus. Perhaps that is why she chose to vote against Mrs. Yecke’s appointment. Obviously this was not the brightest move on the part of the Minnesota Republicans when a close confirmation is coming up.



White Bear Lake, Minn.

American justice

Though I am pleased that the justice system moved swiftly with the court-martial, finding of guilty and dispensing of a jail sentence for the first of the miscreant American soldiers in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses (“Soldier guilty of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison,” Page 1, Thursday), there justifiably will be widespread, worldwide disappointment that a maximum sentence of just one year in prison was all that could be meted out to this lawbreaker.

I wonder if those who have ludicrously defended the perpetrators of the atrocities, asserting that they are being persecuted and made into scapegoats, would be similarly generous if it were our soldiers who had been badly beaten, stomped upon, urinated upon (according to other accounts), hooded, piled naked on top of other naked detainees, taunted with sadistic glee and photographed. If this had befallen our service people, something tells me a mere one-year prison sentence for one who participated in the abuse and turned the other way in the face of it would provoke outrage.

Our renegade soldiers and any and all individuals who coached them in their deeds not only suspended their membership in the human race through their actions, but have destroyed, at least for the moment, the reputation of our military and Americans in general and have placed their fighting countrymen and all Americans in greater peril.

Is one year in prison sufficient for any individual who willfully participated in actions that have done so much harm to our forces and our nation?


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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