- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2005

Hollywood should be ashamed

I think the most memorable part of the 77th Academy Awards show was the president of the academy thanking the members of the military for their service (” ‘Baby’ wins Oscar; Foxx best actor” Page 1, yesterday).

The second most memorable part was the muffled, begrudging, forced applause that followed. As a group, the Hollywood actors who attended that ceremony should be ashamed. They, of all people, should appreciate the sacrifices our people in uniform make every day. The Michael Moores, Jane Fondas and the rest of their America-bashing ilk, are unworthy of that sacrifice.


Helendale Calif.

Honoring nation’s heroes

Bravo for Paul Greenberg’s “The unfinished portrait” (Commentary, Feb. 21), lamenting the “great, collective blur” caused by honoring all American presidents ” from great to inconsequential ” on the same day.

Why not restore Lincoln’s and Washington’s birth dates as national holidays? They deserve it. That’s why Mount Rushmore recognizes them.

And at the same time, why not create a new Civil Rights Day to honor Martin Luther King and all the other brave Americans, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and Bayard Rustin, who fought for the freedom of all citizens?


Chevy Chase

Parents’ love

Terence Jeffrey’s Saturday Commentary column, “Protection for all,” deserves to be read by every person, every doctor, legislator and judge in America.

Mr. Jeffrey points out that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that all persons be counted in the census and that no person is disqualified from the count based on disability or illness.

My brother Michael counts, too. He is 37 years old and has been severely brain damaged since birth. Because he is unable to communicate or care for himself, my parents have been his lifeline to the rest of the world.

He had to be moved out of our parents’ home in January 2004. In the year since Michael was placed in a state-run facility, our family has witnessed the dedication of his doctors, nurses, therapists and caregivers.

Recently, because of aspiration pneumonia and severe weight loss, Michael had to have a feeding tube inserted to prevent food and liquid from entering his lungs. Otherwise, he would have starved to death in a matter of weeks.

In many ways, Michael is like Terry Schiavo in that both are completely dependent on others to take care of their disabled bodies — but that does not make Michael or Terry less deserving of life.

Judge George Greer’s ruling to allow Terry Schiavo’s husband to order her feeding tube removed is a slippery slope certain to have serious implications for every disabled, elderly or ill American. Though any person who is able to make his or her wishes known deserves to have those wishes honored, when a person is unable to communicate such wishes, we have an obligation to protect that person’s life.

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are endowed … with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” One judge should not be able to decide the Declaration of Independence is meaningless when it comes to disabled people.

God bless Terry Schiavo and her parents. I pray her parents will be allowed to care for their daughter before it is too late. Judge Greer and Michael Schiavo are dead wrong, and Terence Jeffrey is right. Our legislators should move with quick and deliberate speed to protect the lives of Americans before more disabled people are sentenced to die through starvation and dehydration — cruel and unusual punishment indeed.


Stafford, Va.

Photo radar slows speeders

As traffic chair for the Palisades Citizens Association, I would like to respond to Tom Knott’s column “Cat-and-mouse game on MacArthur Boulevard” (Metropolitan, Thursday).

First, the photo radar is not some “cat-and-mouse game,” as Mr. Knott claims. To play cat and mouse, you try to trick someone into making a mistake so that you have an advantage over him or her. There is no trickery in the photo radar program.

Speed limits are posted clearly, and locations of the cars have been published since the program’s inception in 2001. If that weren’t enough, drivers get a leeway of 10 mph over the speed limit before they are cited.

Second, Mr. Knott belittles the dangers of high speeds that our neighborhood endured before the radar program. We didn’t have a dangerous 35 mph, we had dangerous 55, 65 and 73 mph. Though motorists weren’t killed, two pedestrians were. Funny Mr. Knott didn’t mention them — but maybe mocking dead pedestrians was in too poor taste even for Mr. Knott.

Third, Mr. Knott implied that the District is operating the program simply to produce revenue. False. The D.C. government is expanding the program because of requests from residents and the positive impact on our community.

At the Partnership for Problem Solving meetings with the Metropolitan Police Department in 2001 and at subsequent meetings at the 2nd District station, residents have identified traffic hands-down as the No. 1 crime issue in our neighborhood. The photo radar sites are chosen carefully based on resident input and MPD data on accidents and fatalities.

Most sites monitored by photo radar have seen the number of violators over 10 mph cut in half. On the 5000 block of MacArthur Boulevard, for example, cameras initially ticketed 60 to 80 violators per hour; these days, the number ranges between 20 and 30. Therefore, as drivers adjust their behavior, revenue per hour at a particular location decreases.

The one area where Mr. Knott got the story right was in saluting our neighborhood’s improved quality of life. With the lower speeds from the photo radar cars, both the noise level and the threat to pedestrians have decreased significantly in the Palisades, and we are happy about it.


Traffic chair

Palisades Citizens Association


Image is important

Though I am sorry Doug Wead made a bad decision on the taping of President Bush (“Friend regrets tapes of Bush,” Nation, Thursday), to me the tapes only underscore the positive differences between Mr. Bush and President Clinton.

Mr. Bush has declined to discuss any drug use in which he may have engaged, fearing the harm it may do children. I for one do not doubt that in his foolish youthful years, like many of our generation, Mr. Bush engaged in recreational drug use. That he does not parse the subject with ridiculous claims that he “never inhaled” or some other dodge speaks volumes. He may have had a time in his life when he made mistakes, but he has corrected them and is stronger in his character for having done so.

Thank God we finally have a president who cares enough about the image he presents and refuses to allow this issue to become a topic that could damage children by bad example the way the Monica Lewinsky affair did.



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