- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Who’s ‘out of step’?

After reading the article “Thousands protest Roe v. Wade” (Nation, Monday), I couldn’t help but want to respond to National Abortion Federation President and CEO Vicki Saporta’s comments. They reflect how out of touch with reality she and other pro-choice advocates are.

Miss Saporta conceded, “We do have an anti-choice Congress and administration,” then continued, “but they are out of step with most Americans.” If so, Miss Saporta has some explaining to do.

The American people re-elected President Bush, pro-life, with a majority of the popular vote (more than 60 million). They raised the Senate’s Republican majority from 51 to 55. They increased the House Republican majority, as well. Also, there are more Republican governors than Democratic.

Given these facts, how can Miss Saporta make such an irresponsible assertion? Is she calling American voters uneducated? Is it merely a fluke that they elected pro-life candidates to office at all levels of government?

The American people have spoken loud and clear that they want to advance a pro-life agenda. Maybe Miss Saporta should think again about who is “out of step with most Americans.”


Yonkers, N.Y.

A shorthand revival

Your article “Shorthand rediscovered” (Metropolitan, Jan. 17) brought out what I already know: Gregg shorthand is a valuable skill at work and in life.

As a legal secretary in a large Manhattan law firm, I am one of just two secretaries who take shorthand. My skill is in demand; partners ask for someone who can take dictation, and associates will watch bemused as I draw the curlicues in my notebook. Is that shorthand? they ask. Younger attorneys have not encountered stenography in their careers.

In the late 1960s, my high school class was the last to study Gregg; the school abandoned it for speed writing, which was easier to learn. But nothing is like Gregg, with its flowing script, clever brief forms and phonetic readability. Through the years, I have taken verbatim shorthand notes in college and have kept a perfect shorthand record of my evening classes at the Juilliard School, later transcribed for future reference. Shorthand is a decided advantage, but fluency requires practice, practice. Let’s hear it for these old-fashioned skills.


New York

Women, math and business

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.’s Friday Commentary column, “Last ride of the thought police?” is thought-provoking; Lawrence H. Summers’ remarks are even more so. Mr. Tyrrell, in an otherwise well-written article, missed two aspects of Mr. Summers’ remarks.

First, Mr. Summers has put Harvard front and center in the national debate on the paucity of domestic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the United States. Pointing out gaps in U.S. intellectual competitiveness relative to other developed countries is what a Harvard president should do.

Second, there is an implicit hypothesis nested in his explicit hypothesis of innate differences between the sexes that explains differences in the number of female researchers in sciences and mathematics. The implicit hypothesis is that female undergraduate students aspiring to graduate school, on the margin, could increase their happiness and monetary utility by looking toward economics and business programs. Pointing out trade-offs between alternatives for an individual’s human capital, whether man or woman, is what a good economist should do. There is ample scope for increasing the number of female researchers in economics and business.


Visiting professor of finance

College of Business Administration

Butler University


Miss Rice a class act

Either “victim” Sen. Barbara Boxer had an identical twin at Senate hearings with Condoleezza Rice, or Mrs. Boxer’s own respect for the truth is in doubt (“Sen. Boxer takes victim role after hearing for Rice,” Nation, Monday).

Verbal attacks were made during Senate hearings last week, but Mrs. Boxer was firing the shots. To say that Miss Rice “turned and attacked me,” as Mrs. Boxer did on CNN, is to totally mischaracterize the exchange. Miss Rice showed impressive poise and self-control in the face of Mrs. Boxer’s caustic “questions,” which were actually pejorative minidiatribes against Miss Rice and President Bush.

Indicating that she intended to fire multiple rounds during Miss Rice’s confirmation hearings, Mrs. Boxer started building a foundation on which to base even more outrageous “questions.” Assuming she had an edge and that Miss Rice had too much class to know how to win a catfight, Mrs. Boxer bared her claws.

Mrs. Boxer’s loyalty to Sen. John Kerry et al. may have overwhelmed her respect for the truth at the hearings. Because Miss Rice wouldn’t oblige and step into the alley, Mrs. Boxer is still slinging mud.



Ideology vs. health

You are correct about the heartbreaking disgrace of the purge of DDT (“How to combat malaria,” Editorial, Jan. 18), the most effective, affordable protection against the rampant killer malaria.

Yet the story is about to take an even more cruel turn, with the active assistance of the United States. The Bush administration has agreed to eliminate or further restrict the use of and trade in a “dirty dozen” chemicals, including DDT, through the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs treaty).

POPs supporters claim it does not expressly forbid the use of DDT to control malaria. Still, they cannot hide from the obvious further impediments POPs places on DDT’s use at the very time that science and experience dictate reversal of the ideologically driven stranglehold placed on its use because of unfounded environmental fears.

It gets worse. The Senate has yet to ratify POPs. However, time constraints, not constitutional niceties, are responsible for preventing the full Senate from moving last year on the administration’s request to pass legislation implementing the treaty.

Such a bill requires just a majority of those voting, while ratification demands a far more difficult two-thirds of the vote. Completing its abdication of the constitutionally established role for the Senate in approving any international agreement binding on the United States, the legislation would for the first time allow a mere agency to expand the scope — that is, modify the terms of — a treaty.

Limiting the use of DDT kills. Our elected representatives are poised to allow unelected bureaucrats to scheme with pressure groups and chemo-phobic nations and, through unaccountable bureaucratic means, bypass the protection against such dangerous powers demanded by our Founding Fathers.


Senior fellow

Competitive Enterprise Institute


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