Friday, January 13, 2006

Confirming Judge Alito

By the fourth and final day of grilling Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. in his Senate confirmation hearings, it was evident that the Democrats could not touch Judge Alito on credentials or his mastery of jurisprudence (“Alito expected to be confirmed,” Page 1, yesterday).

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Charles E. Schumer did succeed, however, each in their own inimitable ways,to bring civility to an historic low. Both senators did their best but failed to imply that Judge Alito was racist and sexist by trying to link the nominee with the views of some members of a Princeton group back in the 1970s whose views on these matters Judge Alito strongly denied were his own.

Perhaps the most memorable and refreshing admission during the entire four days of hearings was uttered by Mr. Kennedy when he averred that “I certainly have made more than my fair share of mistakes.”


Topeka, Kan.


Some Democratic senators are coming across as so partisan in these hearings that they may ruin for good any territory gained with centrist and independent voters in recent months (“Alito accused of racism, Page 1, Thursday).

If these senators insist on delaying the Alito vote, they would definitively lose further standing in middle America. I, frankly, thought they knew better.


Cutler Bay, Fla.


I am a moderate Democrat who watched the confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. with some interest.

I must say, I found the man to be likable, reasonable and highly intelligent, albeit more conservative than I am on some key issues. I believe he will make fair judgments on the court.

At times, I predict that he will come down with some liberal or moderate opinions. I only hope that when he does, the far right will refrain from crucifying him. Let him be his own person. I believe that, overall, he will rule fairly.


Seneca, S.C.


As I watched the proceedings on the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court, I was struck by the rudeness, callousness and attack-dog approach of several of the Democratic committee members.

They looked like a pack of wolves moving in for the kill.

This was so apparent that it moved Judge Alito’s wife to tears.

I can only imagine the feelings that must have been felt by Judge Alito’s children, too, as they witnessed this savage attack on their father’s reputation and dignity.

What kind of men are these who feel compelled to engage in such vicious confrontations?

Certainly these individuals who espouse the protection of the “little guy” and would have us believe that they are caring and compassionate could have demonstrated some small acknowledgement of this during their witch hunt.


Sierra Vista, Ariz.

In support of secure borders

As the only member of the Homeland Security Committee who represents a congressional district on the Mexican border, I deal with the crisis on our nation’s borders every day. The federal government has failed to protect America’s borders — and my constituents have paid a heavy price.

I joined Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, in opposing the poisonous immigration proposal that passed the House in December (“Immigration vote stirs concern about Boehner,” Page 1, Wednesday). This legislation makes criminals out of small businesses for failing to do the federal government’s job of catching illegal immigrants. It also transforms 11 million honest, hardworking men and women into felons.

Even the bill’s sponsor, Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, realized that the latter provision went too far. Recognizing that illegal immigrants should not be treated like drug dealers and sex traffickers, he offered an amendment on the floor that would have made illegal immigration a misdemeanor instead. The amendment failed, showcasing the chaos, haste and political pressure that drove the House’s consideration of this legislation.

Solving the grave threat that the border crisis poses to our national security demands calm, measured and decisive leadership. That is exactly why I strongly support Mr. Boehner in his bid for House majority leader.

I am confident he shares my commitment to securing our borders, protecting our nation and fixing our broken immigration system. He understands that the small businesses and ranchers I represent need federal action to secure our border — not rushed legislation that drops this responsibility in their laps once again.

Most important, Mr. Boehner possesses the vision, integrity and consensus-building skills we need to pass truly effective border security legislation while addressing the array of critical challenges that continue to confront America. I urge my colleagues to join me in electing Mr. Boehner as our next majority leader.



Health care for ordinary people

Robert Goldberg is typical of the “free market” healthcare advocates who live in a world of ideological boundaries rather than the real world that the rest of us inhabit (“Revolutionizing health care,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). His opinions don’t address the problems that ordinary citizens face.

To totally ignore the chaos and confusion caused by the implementation of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit is to reject reality. And he doesn’t forget to castigate the “liberal elites,” hardly an apt description of those seniors now agonizing over their Medicare “choices.”

Six states have now acted to temporarily supply medicine to those left behind in this muddle created by an administration that basically doesn’t believe in government. This law, created by those pharmaceutical companies that stand to benefit handsomely, follows the pattern of cronyism and political patronage associated with our current administration. Think the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Michael Brown, former horse show overseer and college roommate of a Washington insider.

Never wanting to acknowledge any benefits of a government-run program (not in the ideology of “government bad, business good”), Mr. Goldberg chooses to ignore the fact that our present privatized health system eats up about 15 percent in insurance premiums but only 4 percent of the budgets of the public programs of Medicare and Medicaid. The free market system doesn’t work in the vital area of health care, as profits are dependent on turning people down and delaying or refusing to pay claim payments — not on providing quality health care.

Health-care spending per person in the United States is twice the average of Canada and those European countries that guarantee coverage for all their citizens. As for “choice,” most private insurers now limit prescription drugs to those on a formulary list, not necessarily those recommended by your physician.

Mr. Goldberg believes all of us equally capable and competent to stand on our own two feet. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to the drug industry, which reaps billions in subsidies from us taxpayers, gets preferential treatment from their “go-to” guys in Congress, and wins wonderful tax breaks such as the 5.25 percent rate on “repatriated” profits in the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act.

However, it does seem that the consumer has sent a loud message: Only 1 million of the 43 million eligible have signed up. Will consumer choice now dictate an overhaul of this new, revolutionary healthcare product? Maybe we should ask Pfizer (expected “repatriated” profits: $17 billion).


Crossville, Tenn.

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