- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 9, 2005

Unwarranted criticism

First we have three girl country-music singers and then movie actor Donald Sutherland going over to Europe to trash not only our president, but the United States as the most evil place on the globe. Now we have the ex-“CBS Evening News” anchor, on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” calling his fellow citizens too dumb to vote for the right candidates (“‘Dumb’ remark,” Inside Politics, Wednesday).

Do these people ever have anything nice to say? So, if Walter Cronkite’s candidates are not elected, we Americans are not bright enough and just plain ignorant when it comes to who we choose to govern the country. So, why do these people, when they don’t win with their candidates, revert to name-calling instead of debating issues? Now, if I wanted to call Mr. Cronkite names, I could say he is an effete snob (but I won’t), a very poor loser (but I won’t), and not very bright… well, maybe. I’m sure he thinks we all were much less ignorant during the 1990s.

If Mr. Cronkite is still dumbfounded as to why we Americans have suddenly gone stupid during the last five years, perhaps he can look at global warming as the root cause. I’m sure Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Barbra Streisand might be able to help with that. They both seem very intelligent. That’s the way it is.

LARRY McDORMAN

Perry Hall, Md.

Bush delivered on his promise

President Bush believes that Harriet Miers is the best person for confirmation to the Supreme Court. After reading the objections raised by some conservative writers to this nominee, I realize more than ever that the current Supreme Court confirmation process is but a political competition, full of rhetoric and “gotcha” games. Journalists on the political right have been engaging in what they always criticize the left for: “the politics of personal destruction.”

What conservatives should be advocating is fair Senate hearings resulting in an up-or-down vote for Miss Miers. Mr. Bush stressed the fact that he doesn’t want someone on the bench who will “supplant the legislative process.” Miss Miers is Mr. Bush’s choice for the Supreme Court because he knows her well and she views the law from a strict constitutional perspective. She is an intelligent woman of character and integrity who will not legislate from the bench. This is what Mr. Bush promised; this is what he is delivering in this nominee.

Those who equate her with Justice David H. Souter are offering a ridiculous comparison. If anything, Miss Miers can be described as an anti-Ginsberg choice. Mr. Bush’s father had no inkling of what kind of judge Mr. Souter would be because he didn’t know the man. Mr. Souter was foisted on the president by incompetent advisers. Mr. Bush certainly has learned to avoid that mistake.

Lack of judicial experience should not disqualify Miss Miers. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist had no judicial experience before he was named to the Supreme Court. Historically, 38 justices had never been judges at any level before their confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Miss Miers enjoys an extraordinary record of service and leadership in the legal community. In 2000, Miss Miers was named one of the One Hundred Most Influential Lawyers in America. And, ironically, she was named as recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Excellence in 2005. The doom and gloom element on the political right should pack up their artillery for another day and wait to see what solid strength of character and purpose Miss Miers projects during her Senate confirmation hearings.

MARY E. TRAEGER

Forsyth, Mo.

Bigger problems in the oil industry

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (“Tax those windfalls,” Letters, Saturday) excoriates oil companies and calls for taxing their “windfall profits.” He refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “sitting around a table deciding how much oil to pull out of the sands,” and then smugly accuses the oil companies of “using their profits to drill for oil on Wall Street.” He calls for a tax on these windfall profits, ignoring some fundamental economic tenets such as the free market determining price based on supply and demand, and the total cost of doing business.

Whatchutzpah.The hypocrisy of the senator’s statements belies the fact that he has been one of the leaders of the pack in the Senate that blocked the president’s energy plan submitted four years ago. That plan called for construction of nuclear power plants and refineries, research in technology to replace fossil fuel, and, equally important, drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic NationalWildlifeRefuge, off the coasts of California and Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. Legislation was passed only a few months ago without any provision for extracting oil to alleviate our needs for Middle East oil despite a recent U.S. Geological Survey report estimating that ANWR alone might contain as much as 9 billion barrels of oil.

Oil companies and OPEC are benefiting from increased world demand and an actual or induced shortage of oil. But there are additional issues. Where does the senator think the money will come from to build nuclear power plants and refineries, to fight endless court battles against environmentalists blocking the construction of nuclear power plants and refineries and to protect against frivolous lawsuits during and after construction?

Instead of bemoaning the “windfall” profits of the companies, the senator needs to balance this issue with the law of economics and the expected costs of making us energy self-sufficient. We need legislation to curb the demands of environmentalists, to protect the energy industry from frivolous legal actions and to approve drilling for oil in ANWR and elsewhere. I call on the senator to take a leading role in making all this happen.

WARREN A. MANISON

Potomac

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan’s letter supporting increased taxes on the oil and gas industry reflects both the Democratic Party’s “Tax them until they scream” philosophy and a profound ignorance of both the oil industry and the market.

If Mr. Dorgan had paid any attention to what is happening in the international oil markets, he would realize that rather than the OPEC countries “sitting around a table deciding how much oil to pull out of the sands in order to affect prices,” they are just barely keeping up with demand.

Oil production has peaked at the same time that demand is accelerating, and the scramble for petroleum products will only grow more frantic as the economies of developing countries such as China and India expand. Oil and gas prices in the United States reflect both the tightness of supply and the fact that America imports much of what it consumes from politically unstable parts of the world. Worse, the United States lacks refining capacity and is importing ever larger quantities of refined products such as gasoline and diesel fuel.

The shortfall in U.S. refining capacity is directly due to ideologically driven legislation sponsored and supported by Mr. Dorgan’s Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has contributed materially to our growing dependence on foreign sources of oil through its support for destructive legislation that has prohibited oil drilling in much of the U.S. mainland, off most of our coastlines and in large parts of Alaska. The present high price of gasoline and diesel fuel is directly linked to shortsighted policies pushed by the Democratic Party for 30 years.

Finally, does Mr. Dorgan think that American citizens are so ignorant that they do not know where those “windfall profits” ultimately wind up? Increased oil-company profits increase the value of oil-company stocks, which are held by millions of individual investors and virtually all pension and retirement funds. Mr. Dorgan’s call for increased taxes on oil companies is nothing more than an attack on the retirement funds of millions of elderly Americans. The last thing the energy industry in the United States needs is more confiscatory taxation and entangling regulation.

DARRELL K. MATTHEIS

Mitchellville

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