- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

A solar decathlon

If you followed the advice of Deborah K. Dietsch in her article (“Designs of fuel savings,” Arts & Culture, Saturday), you may have visited the Mall this week to see firsthand exciting ways to use renewable energy and energy efficiency in homes. There is still time to see the Solar Decathlon before the students and their professors have to return to class and the Mall hosts other activities.

While promoting the event is the right thing to do, the article could have given a clearer picture of where the solar power industry is today. The article claims that “the most common application of photovoltaic or PV technology is in solar-powered calculators.” Instead, we should focus on the fact worldwide sales of PV modules (the ones used to power homes) exceed 1 gigawatt, or enough to power 400,000 homes.

Sales of solar technology are increasing at close to 30 percent a year, and currently demand has outstripped supply so much that many companies have sold their inventories for the next six to 12 months. This growth is emphasized by manufacturers building new facilities to meet demand.

Every day, the Department of Energy and its many partners are working to bring new energy technologies to the mainstream. The Solar Decathlon is not a hollow attempt at promotion but a real-life demonstration of exciting technologies in the marketplace today.

The Solar Decathlon will return to the Mall in 2007, and hopefully by then Miss Dietsch won’t miss the point.

DOUGLAS L. FAULKNER

Acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy

U.S. Department of Energy

Washington

More than an image problem

Douglas McKinnon is partially right in his assessment that the Republican Party has an image problem (“The GOP’s image problem,” Op-Ed, Thursday). But it is disheartening to read an Op-Ed piece that does little more than admit to a few problems for the Republican Party and blame them on the news media and Democrats. Many GOP voters are disgusted with the current crop of Republicans in office because we have higher standards and expectations for them than we had for the Democrats that were in power for 40 years.

Mr. McKinnon states that “the truth that the vast majority of Republicans in Congress are highly ethical does not matter.” Why is it so difficult to place the ethical members in leadership positions? It is difficult, bordering on absurd, to argue that more than $24 billion in pork in the highway bill is ethical; that an increase of more than 34 percent in discretionary spending is ethical; or that the entire Supreme Court nominating process being vetted by James Dobson and other religious leaders based solely on social issues is ethical. It has taken the Republican Party 10 years to accomplish what the Democrats took 40 years to do — namely political death by hubris, arrogance, incompetence and rampant cronyism.

The Republican Party grabbed the majority in Congress in 1994 on a platform of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, promotion of free trade and responsible governance. All of that good will has vanished and the Republican Party has morphed from the party of Abraham Lincoln to the party of religious and social conservatives. The Republican Party champions issues such as Roe v. Wade, Terri Schiavo and the federal marriage amendment, and, thus, has completely failed with illegal immigration, disaster management, deficits and spending. The Republican Party has more than perception problems, at least for moderates.

BEN BERRY

Dallas

Phyllis Schlafly, defender

The Washington Times’ fine tribute to Phyllis Schlafly contains one major omission: her work today (“Conservatives’ first lady sparked pro-family effort,” Page 1, Oct. 7). Not only did her leadership not end with the Equal Rights Amendment, but her current campaign may turn out to be among her most critical. Sadly, we seem to have learned little.

Mrs. Schlafly is now heroically challenging the systematic destruction of families in the nation’s family courts. This hidden abuse is the logical culmination of what many call the “totalitarian” tendencies of organized feminism but which few fully understand or confront. “Feminist organizations and writers have propagated the myth that women are victims of an oppressive patriarchal society and that marriage is an inherently abusive institution,” she writes. “Feminists made divorce a major component of women’s liberation.”

Yet even today, Mrs. Schlafly meets resistance — and not only from the left. Some conservative politicians have swallowed the poisonous feminist propaganda about the evil male and the necessity for massive government action against him.

Avoiding political risk, they posture as champions of “women and children” by demanding measures against “domestic violence” and “deadbeat dads,” even when no scientific data indicate that these problems are anything other than creations of the government.

“There is a deafening silence from conservatives who pretend to be guardians against federal takeovers of problems that are none of the federal government’s business,” writes Mrs. Schlafly.

These feminist programs actually destroy families and create the very problems they claim to be solving. For example, the Violence Against Women Act, a destructive “hate-crime” law that violates both families and constitutional rights and funds extremist lobbying, has just passed both houses of Congress with little opposition. The one prominent exception was Mrs. Schlafly.

She is also almost alone in calling for a re-evaluation of “no-fault” divorce and for shared parenting laws to discourage the use of children as weapons.

Rather than repeat the very mistakes it chronicles, The Times would pay a higher tribute to Phyllis Schlafly by emulating her courage and taking the lead in breaking the news blackout that pervades not only the liberal media but too much of the conservative press as well.

STEPHEN BASKERVILLE

President

American Coalition for Fathers and

Children

Washington

Bennett’s blunder

In the editorial “Talk-back live” (Oct. 5), you question why everyone was so appalled by William Bennett’s comments. Perhaps “for suggesting that being born black predisposes one toward being a criminal?” the editorial muses, then says, “That’s reading far more into Mr. Bennett’s comments than is there.” Well, perhaps that suggestion was not intended by Mr. Bennett, but it certainly is there.

Why else would Mr. Bennett have infamously stated: “It’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime … you could abort every black baby in the country and your crime rate would go down.” Why else would he have stated that the crime rate would (“It’s true”) go down if specifically black babies were aborted if he did not in fact think that blacks are predisposed to crime?

Perhaps he was simply reiterating the argument made in “Freakonomics,” as he says. However, “Freakonomics” does not specify black babies. It does not mention race. So why does Mr. Bennett?

Perhaps Mr. Bennett made a Freudian slip, and that is why everyone is so mad. His comments are a prime example of institutionalized, ingrained racism. Maybe because of statistics he’s seen that do show that blacks and Latinos are disproportionately represented in jails, or because a black person committed a crime against him. There could be myriad factors explaining his comments. He nonetheless specifically said black babies, not poor or single-parented as in “Freakonomics.” The characterization “black” came out of his own thoughts.

My analysis isn’t simply to serve as explanation for a call for apology. In fact, I don’t even believe that is fully in order. What I call for is his acknowledgement and an analysis of everyone’s own conscious.

Institutionalized and ingrained prejudice is a blinding obstacle to an equal society. Unless this prejudice is acknowledged and discussed, it will continue to poison people’s perception and opinions of others and further build up a racial divide. Race cannot be an issue we run away from; it needs to be openly discussed to dispel or maybe even justify certain feelings. But throwing in a word describing babies predisposed to crime in a call-in initially about the economic productivity in a post-Roe v. Wade America is not the way to broach the topic of race.

LAURA GILBERT

Chevy Chase

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