- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

Distorted U.S. images

In Mona Charen’s column, (“Real men moisturize,” Commentary, Thursday), I have to wonder how misguided and misdirected buffoons at the State Department think they are helping our image in the Middle East when, in fact, they are dragging it deeper into the morass of contempt and hatred. We are creating yet more reasons for the members of the Islamic community to despise us with greater intensity, all under the banner of bringing greater understanding about our culture.

Whereas some in the Arab community speak English, to choose the name “Hi” for a magazine ignores the idiom of “high” as used in illicit drug use — a prohibition in the Koran. Where Ms. Charen relates the incidents of facials, pedicures and manicures — effeminate acts — has no one in the State Department taken note that to cross gender lines is an abomination in Islam? She describes the picture of the man receiving a pedicure with his pants legs rolled up and in the presence of a half-dozen women — despite the prohibitions on exposure and the mixing of the genders in the workplace imposed in many Arab countries.

What our State Department has done flies in the face of the Islamic culture and is an insult to them. Aside from the obvious, rampant ignorance of the State Department officials that would allow this to be printed, the ultimate insult is to the taxpayer in her statement, “State Department funded magazine.”

If the State Department wanted to improve our image in the rest of the world, one of the first acts would be to restrict the sale of television programs made in the United States. While living in the Middle East 20 years ago, I could watch “Dynasty,” “Dukes of Hazzard,” “The A-Team” and other such programs repurchased for local broadcasts. This is the image the citizens of other countries have of us as Americans. We — yes that includes all Americans — are a bunch of drugged, drunken fornicators in the eyes of many in other parts of the world. And we wonder why they refer to us as “Satan” and infidels.

I expect a much greater knowledge of the cultures our foreign policies must confront than are evident here. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enemy, and it is our State Department.

RICHARD CONOVER

Mount Juliet, Tenn.

DNC right on North Korea

I rarely agree with the Democratic National Committee, but I do agree with its statement, “Even as the Bush administration claims to be making progress, the increasingly dangerous situation in North Korea worsens” (” ‘One voice’ against North Korea,” Page 1, Saturday).

Once again, the White House pleads for North Korea to come back to the six-party talks even though this reckless diplomacy has only emboldened Pyongyang to cross one nuclear red line after another. While the White House continues to dither, North Korea grows ominously stronger. Just recently, a defiant North Korea boasted that it is adding to its nuclear arsenal.

For sure, North Korea will sell its nuclear weapons to terrorist states, which greatly increases the likelihood of nuclear terrorism on American soil. Once North Korea can target American cities with nuclear-armed missiles, it will have us over a nuclear barrel and could then decide to invade South Korea.

Meanwhile, China feigns helplessness but secretly enables this unstable regime to become a major nuclear power.

It is way past time for President Bush to get tough with Pyongyang, both in words and in deeds. North Korea, with the stealth blessing of China, will continue its reckless behavior unless the White House takes strong punitive action — the sooner the better.

MICHAEL MARK

Warwick, Pa.

Immigration and America’s future

Victor Davis Hanson worries that immigrants depress American wages because the availability of immigrant labor means that “poorer American workers cannot organize” (“A debate going nowhere,” Commentary, Saturday). This concern is naive.

The evidence runs against the claim that unionization is necessary to raise worker pay. For the past 45 years, the percentage of workers organized by labor unions has fallen steadily while worker compensation has risen. In 1960, 37 percent of the private work forcewas unionized; today this figure is 7.9 percent.

Despite this substantial drop in union membership, real average hourly compensation (wages and benefits) earned by non-supervisory private-sector workers is at an all time high — estimated conservatively to be about 34 percent greater than in 1960.

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX

Chairman

Department of Economics

George Mason University

Fairfax

Victor Davis Hanson makes an excellent case against illegal immigration. However, he fails to note what the effect would be upon the nation’s expanding population.

With an estimated 3 million illegal aliens entering annually via our southern border, we are almost certain to achieve the high-side estimate of population growth issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. This pegs our population at 500 million by 2050 and more than a billion by 2100.

This is equal to the current population of India. It is hard to conceive what life will be like with nearly four times our present population.

Water shortages surely will be prevalent in the Southwest, where water already is in short supply. As we build housing for our rapidly expanding numbers, we are paving over valuable farmland, which is bound to result in food shortages. Some schools, hospitals and jails are already bursting at the seams.

At the rate of our current immigration, both legal and illegal, we are guaranteeing that America is sure to become a Third World nation. When this happens, we will no longer have to worry about immigration, as there will no longer be a benefit in coming.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

Keeping Congress responsible

Arnold Beichman’s Friday Commentary column, (“Waste, fraud and personal use”) credits Heritage Foundation fellow Brian M. Riedl with “revelations of waste, fraud and abuse that should shock and startle even the most hardened challenger of government expenditure practices.”

He adds: “The Heritage Foundation should be congratulated for the study, one Congress should have done but never would.”

In fact, Mr. Riedl’s report, published April 4, states, “Lack of information is not the problem” — and he attributes the examples he cites to “government waste investigations and recommendations … found in hundreds of reports, such as: studies published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).”

No fewer than seven footnotes in Mr. Riedl’s article does he cite GAO reports or testimony before Congress by Comptroller General David M. Walker, who heads GAO.

GAO, an independent agency in the legislative branch, is proud to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and helping improve government performance and accountability for the benefit of the American taxpayer. Financial benefits from GAO’s work totaled $44 billion in fiscal 2004, a $95 return on every dollar invested in GAO.

PAUL ANDERSON

Managing director

Office of Public Affairs

Government Accountability Office

Washington


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