- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

No litmus test for Alito

Former President Jimmy Carter “said that his party’s congressional leadership only hurts Democrats by making a rigid pro-abortion-rights stance the criterion for assessing judicial nominees. ‘I have always thought it was not in the mainstream of the American public to be extremely liberal on many issues’” (“Carter condemns abortion culture,” Nation, Friday).

The fact that a prominent Democrat, Mr. Carter, defines “mainstream” so differently from Sen. Charles E. Schumer and other Democratic leaders shows the subjectivity of the term and its inutility as a standard for evaluating judicial nominees. Mr. Carter’s remarks also bear on the use of a litmus test on abortion employed by, for example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and liberal interest groups. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman has opposed the use of litmus tests.

Mr. Carter’s position is relevant to the determination by Democrats as to whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, and by the “Gang of 14” as to whether “extraordinary circumstances” are present here to permit a filibuster under their agreement.

I’m a lifelong registered Democrat, and I am pro-choice, with the possible exception of late-term abortion. I’m favorably impressed by Judge Alito but will not make up my mind until the hearing.



Real dangers of buying counterfeit

The article “Status Faux” (Family Times, Oct. 30) seems to glorify counterfeiting by making it seem like a mom-and-pop growth industry that fashionistas should support.

Counterfeiters aren’t fashion-industry Robin Hoods, robbing the rich so the not-as-rich can sport brand names. Counterfeiters are hardened criminals, exploiting consumers, businesses both large and small, inventors and artists, not to mention children laboring in sweatshops in Third World countries.

The article mentions that counterfeiting profits support gang activity and organized crime — but it fails to mention that they also fund terrorism and child labor. It is a fact that in some of these counterfeiting operations, young children are subjected to horrific abuses at sweatshop workstations while they churn out fake luxury products.

What a paradox that while many Americans are fighting a war on terrorism to protect our homeland, others — in the name of fashion — are funding organized crime and terrorist activities with fake designer products purchased on New York’s Canal Street and off the Internet.

If this isn’t reason enough to avoid counterfeit products, consider that Americans also risk personal harm from fake pharmaceuticals that are infiltrating our supply chain. (The World Health Organization estimates that 10 percent of all medications sold worldwide are fake.) Who makes these counterfeit drugs? Some of the same counterfeit operations that make fake cigarettes, money, spark plugs, baby formula, apparel and luxury goods.

There simply is no excuse for supporting illegal activity. It’s wrong to steal someone’s product design. It’s wrong to support the thief who stole it. Americans ought to be using their buying power to support socially responsible companies that have developed their products through creativity, research and development and manufacturing excellence.

Think you’re getting a “deal” by buying a fake? Think counterfeiting is a harmless, victimless crime? Think again.


Executive director

International AntiCounterfeiting



The need to curb spending

As he has sought to do in the past, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan recently issued another stern rebuke to elected officials regarding the ticking fiscal time bomb of our burgeoning federal deficits, this time warning that the country could face serious economic disruptions if spending is not curbed (“Federal reserve ‘puzzled’ on rates,” Page 1, Friday).

Will those who purport to serve the public listen to what may be Mr. Greenspan’s final warning before he leaves his post? Given that Congress and the president recently agreed to massive, needless pork-barrel expenditures in highway and energy bills and that we are careening full speed ahead to a vastly expensive, confusing new Medicare prescription entitlement plan, there is little chance that responsible government will suddenly erupt.

One common failing in our elected officials is the inability to view and plan for the future. It is clear to the intelligent, objective person who does not serve in the high echelons of government that this nation’s fiscal future is grim, as we spend like good-time Charleys now, with no thought to the presentation of the hefty bill tomorrow. Neither party has the leadership or good sense to lead us out of our economic path to destruction.

We will rue the many occasions on which the sage words of Mr. Greenspan were ignored.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

School vouchers would fragment America

Nancy Salvato’s “Mythology versus school choice” (Forum, Sunday) conveniently overlooked important considerations.

Millions of Americans in 25 statewide referendums have rejected school vouchers or their analogues by a 2-to-1 margin.

Republican Kansas state Sen. John Vratil correctly observes that private schools accepting public funds would have to play by the same rules as public schools. As most nonpublic schools by far are faith-based institutions that commonly discriminate in admissions, directly or indirectly, along religious, class, ethnic, ability level and other lines and permeate their curricula with sectarian teaching, taxing all citizens to support them would, to a constitutional originalist, be as “sinful and tyrannical” as James Madison, main author of the First Amendment, declared in 1785 in his famous Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

School vouchers would fragment our society along creedal, class, ethnic and other lines. Ben Franklin’s advice that “we shall either hang together or hang separately” is certainly applicable to the controversy over school vouchers. Aren’t there enough divisions in our society?

Incidentally, a 2004 statewide poll by the Baton Rouge Advocate showed that Louisianians in every part of the state opposed vouchers by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin despite the fact that the state’s public schools are grossly underfunded.



Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

‘How to lose friends and incite enemies’

Vice President Dick Cheney’s attempt to insert a CIA exception into the Senate’s bill prohibiting torture — and President Bush’s corresponding threat to veto the bill as it now stands — provide an abject lesson in how to lose friends and incite enemies (“Rationalizing torture,” Commentary, Wednesday).

How can the United States expect allies to stand with it in the fight to advance human rights when its own leadership does not just accept, but explicitly advocates, prisoner abuse?

The worst-case outcome of this shortsighted policy is the likelihood that some day an American soldier will be captured, tortured and possibly killed by an enemy using the same standards of interrogation the president and vice president condone.

When the video of the abuse is broadcast over the Internet, what will the White House say to the perpetrators, the international community or the family of the victim? That only the United States has the right to torture?



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