- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Voter double-dipping

If I can’t even vote twice in an opinion poll on an Internet site, there must be a way to stop election double-voting (“Democratic double-voting,” Editorials, Aug. 30).

As a nation, we’ve put men on the moon, built stealth bombers and created the Internet. So it seems to me that there has to be a way to stop double-voting. Issue a voting card, like a driver’s license, and if someone tries to get a second voting card, they’re caught. That’s one solution. Seems simple to me.

CHRISTINE M. STARICK

Hamburg, N.J.

You are quite right to call for state-to-state cooperation to stop voters from voting in more than one state.

But I strongly challenge your assertion that running elections is “legitimately a function of state government.” Certainly, that is our tradition — in fact, counties still generally have the greatest role in handling voter registration, ballot design, election equipment purchases and so on — but the result is too often an underfunded, underregulated, underperforming system that this year promises to again be highly controversial if the presidential election is close.

Elections are as important as interstate highways and airport security. We need clear national standards and enforcement that ensure consistently high-quality elections.

President Bush was right to say last month that he would consider establishing an explicit right to vote in the Constitution. Our nation is too important to decentralize protection of perhaps our most basic citizenship right.

ROB RICHIE

Executive director

Center for Voting & Democracy

Takoma Park

Cutting cancer care

Doug Bandow’s Aug. 29 article (“Cancer drugs and Medicare,” Commentary) addresses how oncologists will deliver care to cancer patients in 2005 as a result of cuts to Medicare.

I’d like to offer my own perspective on the issue raised by Mr. Bandow. I have seen cancer care from virtually every perspective. I am a cancer specialist. My mother, brother-in-law and numerous friends have died of cancer. I am a cancer survivor myself.

I am concerned about the impending cuts to cancer care proposed by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which are projected to reduce funding to the cancer-care delivery system by more than $500 million in 2005 alone.

Starting in the 1970s, chemotherapytreatments shifted from hospitals to outpatient settings, most commonly to physicians’ offices. Today, more than 80 percent of cancer patients receive treatment in a community setting.

In most community-based cancer-care facilities, patients benefit from myriad of essential support services.

Patients are treated by highly trained physicians and certified oncology nurses in an intimate and friendly environment, often with a family member in attendance. On-site pharmacists and nurses mix and administer chemotherapy, a complex process that can take up to several hours for a single patient.

Social workers and other health-care professionals provide extensive education and counseling to patients and family members, as well as psychosocial support and nutritional counseling — all important components of the healing process.

Although hospitals continue to provide quality care to cancer patients, for many people, traveling to a hospital can take much longer than going to a doctor’s office in their community. And, for frail and elderly patients, this can be an overwhelming obstacle to receiving treatment.

Congress has mandated studies to determine the potential impact of this new policy on cancer care. These studies will not be completed until 2006.

As someone who knows firsthand the scourge of cancer, I urge the government to make sure that quality cancer care is not disrupted while the studies are being done.

DR. DAVID H. JOHNSON

President

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Deputy Director

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Alexandria, Va.

Glorifying GM hybrids

When I first read about General Motors’ hybrid pickups ]in last Friday’s auto section (“GM hybrid pickups save fuel,” Auto Weekend, Aug. 27), I dismissed them as vehicles containing a glorified starting motor with a little software.

After all, they are not truly hybrids, because their electric motor provides no propulsion — “mild hybrids” indeed. And the GM spokesman’s comments didn’t help: “We’re not trying to shove a 5,000-pound truck on pure electric power.” Electric locomotives “shove” more all the time.

Then there was his comment, “It doesn’t make sense to run down the freeway electrically.” My Prius does it all the time. And the 10 percent better fuel mileage seemed too good for merely turning off the engine when the truck was standing still.

But further reflection led me to conclude that there might be a pony here. A recent analysis of hybrid passenger cars in the journal Science indicated that as much as 17.2 percent of the fuel-energy input might be wasted because of fuel being burned during idle. (This was for cars, not trucks, in the Federal Urban Driving Cycle.)

Stopping the engine when it would otherwise idle saves the 17.2 percent. Admittedly, the gasoline engine in a true hybrid can idle (or stop) when the electric motor is carrying the load, which does not happen with the GM “mild hybrid.”

But it can also idle when coasting downhill or to a stop. Also, the energy recovered through dynamic braking in the true hybrid, and used to drive the electric motor, is not so great as to belie an improvement of 10 percent in mileage even without such recovery.

Indeed, the GM scheme is such a simple way to boost Corporate Average Fuel Economy that, instead of complaining about how difficult it is to boost it, GM should quickly move to adapt it to all their passenger cars.

It really is little more than a glorified starter motor and some software. If one is worried about losing the braking effect of a connected gasoline engine, then use the electric motor as a generator and dump its energy into resistors.

Only one question: Will, or should, the IRS give a tax credit for this class of vehicles?

JOHN B. WALSH

McLean, Va.

Quite a large tent

Thinking it over, it should not have come as a surprise that Ron Silver supports the Bush administration in its efforts to battle terrorism (“9/11 showed Bush’s leadership,” Page 1, Aug. 31). He laid out very clearly his argument for protecting human rights while admonishing his fellow Hollywood liberals for their hypocrisy.

As the article notes, Mr. Silver is a committed liberal. I believe one of the unintended benefits Mr. Silver will realize from his speech is that the next time he mounts his soapbox for one of his pet causes, we’re going to listen to what he has to say.

BRUCE HANTKE

Arlington

Sen. Zell Miller is the last of his breed, the conservative Southern Democrat. Once this species ruled over vast areas of the Southeast. From Florida to Texas, up through Arkansas and back east to Virginia, for generations all major elections were decided at the Democratic primaries and the Republican Party was virtually nonexistent. When allied with Northeast liberals and unionized workers, the conservative Southern Democrats were the linchpin for a formidable voting block.

That alliance has been broken. The solid South is now solidly Republican. Sen. John Edwards will not even carry his home state, a feat that will duplicate the failure of Al Gore in 2000. The shrinking Democrat Party tent, which has excluded conservative religious pro-life tough-on-crime strong-on-defense voters, has angered Mr. Miller. He is angry that his party, which he had worked for his entire political life, has been led in a direction that neither he nor his constituents will go. His party has abandoned him and he is as furious as a lover scorned.

JAMES ROSE

Sachse, Texas

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