- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

Battle-worn fighters

A senior U.S. Marine Corps general, Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Tuesday, “actually it’s quite fun to fight ‘em, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling,” (Inside Politics, Friday).

Military officials said on Thursday that Lt. Gen. Mattis should have chosen his words more carefully but — to the chagrin of the liberal national press — he will not be disciplined.

Manyveteranswould agree that the general was simply expressing the views of battle-worn fighters such as Gen. George S. Patton, who was known for his salty language.

ARMOND “SI” SIMMONS

Pell City, Ala.

Day labor and the law

As a taxpayer in Montgomery County, I am appalled by the establishment of day-laborer centers and by the remarks of David Weaver, a spokesman for County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (“Center to serve day laborers,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). Mr. Weaver said the county would not check the immigration status of day laborers served by the center because that is the responsibility of the federal government.

I point out that under the Immigration and Nationality Act, it is illegal for an alien to seek employment without authorization and illegal to hire an alien who does not have authorization to work.

In addition, federal law requires employers to deduct federal income and Social Security tax from employees’ pay. Our county taxes should not be used to help people circumvent federal law. What would be Mr. Duncan’s position if the federal government used federal taxes to help people evade county ordinances?

JOSEPH DE MARIA

Rockville

President Clinton redux?

Mona Charen is deluding herself when she writes, “Hillary cannot campaign as a centrist and hope to win the nomination” (“Campaign cosmetology,” Commentary, Wednesday). When it comes to taking back the presidency, Democrats can be quite rational—theydumped Howard Dean for Sen. John Kerry, didn’t they?

In fact, if the Republicans aren’t careful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton may very well be our next president. First, she has to get everyone who voted for Mr. Kerry in 2004 to vote for her in 2008. Very doable. Then she has to convince only about 2 million people who voted for President Bush to vote for her. (Mr. Bush won by 3 million votes; if 2 million of those voters swing to the left in 2008, she’ll win by 1 million.)

Now, what are the identifiable subgroups of people in the Bush camp whom Mrs. Clinton can target with a message that will persuade them to switch? I can think of at least three:

• The religious liberals. These are people who believe strongly in religion in general, and the right to life in particular. Plus, they are strong supporters of large social programs that essentially do God’s work, helping the weak and poor. Mr. Bush’s stance on religion or abortion tipped their scales to the Republican side in 2004. I believe Mrs. Clinton is going after this group by moderating her stance on abortion. Her primary objective then becomes convincing them that the Democrats care more about the needy than do the Republicans. Again, very doable.

• The liberal hawks. These people believe that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. That was the issue that tipped them over to the Republican side. They believe in a strong military, but they also support expansive social programs. Given that Mrs. Clinton was in favor of the war in Iraq, I believe she is going after this group, as well.

• The social libertarian/fiscal conservatives (SLFCs). These people believe that the government should stay out of people’s personal lives. They strongly favor separation of church and state, freedom of sexual orientation and loosening prosecution of victimless crimes. They also favor low taxes, limited government and spending cuts. They believe social welfare should be driven primarily by nonprofit organizations. Now, if Mrs. Clinton starts arguing for a smaller government and spending cuts and stays neutral on taxes, she may be able to swing quite a few SLFCs over to the dark side. Hillary Rodham Clinton as our next president? Very doable.

MICHAEL WILLNER

Mason Neck, Va.

The Cuban mistake

Your Wednesday editorial reported the selection of Cuba to an action panel at the United NationsCommissionon HumanRights(“Cuba: human-rights overseer?”). Oscar Wilde once wrote “experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Obviously, then, experience must land you a spot on the 53-member commission. It is no surprise that many dictatorships such as Cuba, China and Zimbabwe go out of their way to become members and then block resolutions or investigations dealing with their abuses.

The commission has become useless. Reforms must be implemented, including appointing an independent human-rights expert to chair the commission. Models already exist: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have received international praise because they are made up of independent experts.

On Jan. 24, Mexico proposed the creation of a regional organization to promote and evaluate human rights throughout Latin America. The proposal is a mechanism meant partly to “depoliticize conflicts” between Latin American democracies and Cuba. Cuba accuses the United States of furtively sponsoring resolutions and “arm-twisting dependent countries in Latin America” to criticize the Castro regime.

These accusations are unfounded. The United States lobbies governments, but no less than former Czech President Vaclav Havel, former Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle and former Chilean President Patricio Aylwin have urged the international community to support Cuba’s beleaguered opposition.

The Castro regime has orchestrated a campaign to dehumanize its opposition and denounce dissidents as traitors, CIA agents and terrorists. This is the language of a desperate regime. Cuba’s dissidents have worked for tolerance and reconciliation. They speak to Cuba’s future. They need and deserve the support of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, the “experience” of the action panel and the commission is likely to deter such support.

FELIPE E. SIXTO

Center for a Free Cuba

Washington


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