- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Frist waffles

Sen. Bill Frist’s “Unfinished border business” (Commentary, Sunday) includes a non sequitur: “[I]immigration reform measures cannot work in isolation.” An assertion unsupported by history, it’s also irrelevant because what’s needed is to take existing laws seriously — a move that would be like the difference between night and day.

On other points, the Republican Senate majority leader doesn’t pass the test. For example, he wants to ensure that temporary workers don’t become legal permanent residents. However, if we lack the spine to enforce our immigration laws now, what will spur us to send them home a few years hence, after many “guest workers” have morphed into parents of U.S.-citizen children?

Or consider Mr. Frist’s trial balloon about “requiring the president to certify the borders’ security” before proceeding with the amnesty. Sounds strict? President Bush, during a 2004 debate with Sen. John Kerry, said “[The borders] are much better protected today than they were when I was the governor of Texas.” Presumably, even with thousands of illegal aliens transiting our border each night, this president would casually “certify” their “security.”

Where Mr. Frist stood on all this — sometimes “enforcement only,” sometimes comprehensive capitulation to Mexico’s agenda — seemed to depend upon the day of the week or, perhaps, the phase of the moon. So it’s no surprise that he ultimately voted for a bill that’s packed with the fatal flaws he crisply points out in his article.

But where the American people stand is clear. Based on 20 years of bitter experience, the commonsense prescription in dealing with the immigration machinations of our ruling-class grandees isn’t “Trust, but verify.” It’s “Don’t trust. Verify painstakingly and at leisure.” Mr. Frist warrants not even an ounce of trust.

PAUL NACHMAN

Bozeman, Mont.

Minimum wage, maximum shame

On June 21, our Republican-dominated Senate once again rejected a Democratic plan to boost the minimum wage for the first time in a decade (“Senate rejects minimum-wage amendment,” Nation, Thursday). It would have raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 — hardly a bonanza.

The Democrats pointed out that the minimum wage has not been adjusted to compensate for inflation or the rising costs of energy, housing and soaring gasoline prices in 10 years. A worker earning the present minimum wage earns about $10,700 a year, almost $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three.

The Senate had rejected 11 past attempts since 1998 to raise the minimum wage, a gift to corporate contributors who strive to pay lower and lower wages in order to reap higher and higher profits.

What goes around comes around, and those considerations to big business by our Republican-controlled Congress have and will be well-compensated with contributions to the party. This rejection reflects similar gratuities to that “base” in the attempt to give amnesty (or whatever term they use as a subterfuge) to illegal aliens, who earn even lower wages.

At the same time, the Republican-dominated House rejected an effort to block the $3,000 annual increase in the base salary for a member of our illustrious “no-oversight” Congress, raising it to $168,000 per year. That is a $31,600 increase in the past decade, while all minimum-wage increases have been rejected.

Individual states even have taken it upon themselves to increase the minimum wage, noting the inequity between the self-serving Congress and the public it has been entrusted to serve.

Shame on this administration and shame on the average American who allows the dissolution of the middle class by this administration.

NICHOLAS ZIZELIS

Bayside, N.Y.

Home-grown terrorists

Regarding the article “Miami terrorism suspects planned ‘war’ against U.S.” (Nation, Saturday), the defense will come up with excuses like, “They were just talking,” or “Nothing happened.” I guess we were supposed to wait until we actually saw the terrorists light the fuse before we could do anything.

Jerry Seper wrote, “The indictment said one of the suspects, Narseal Batiste, met several times in December with the informant, to whom he swore his allegiance to al Qaeda and from whom he requested boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 to help build an “Islamic army to wage jihad.”

Will the words “al Qaeda,” “Islamic army” and “jihad” connected to these men mean anything to the defense?

This trial will go on for a very long time at the expense of the American taxpayer, and, in the end, some lawyer will get them off for being “misguided.”

STELLA L. JATRAS

Camp Hill, Pa.

Bad media

It is apparent that the seemingly responsible editorial executives at the New York Times are conducting themselves in a patently irresponsible fashion in publishing the details of the governmental “game plan” during a time of war (“The right not to know,” Editorial, Saturday).

Although their readers may have an interest in, as well as a right to know, the story, the operative question should have focused on whether they have a need to know of such activities.

What legitimate need might have been served some 62 years ago, June 5, had one of the major newspapers exposed plans for the next day’s invasion of Normandy — most certainly known by one or more, if not many, major U.S. newspapers but protected in the greater public interest of victory in war?

One certainly would think that, having reached the pinnacle of responsibility in major news organizations, the executives who make the close calls with respect to the “do we or do we not publish” decisions would readily recognize the noted distinction, exercise the maximum common sense under the circumstances and proceed with extraordinary circumspection for the good of all the citizenry, not merely the relatively myopic demands of the marketing arm of their respective organizations.

Given that the reported governmental activities involved in gathering the data are acknowledged as being conducted in a perfectly reasonable and legal fashion and that the “unnamed sources” of the information knew, or should have known, that the existence of the program was to be treated as secret during this time of war, one can only suggest that the leaker(s), by basically replicating the conduct of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg during the 1940s and 1950s, should be ferreted out and swiftly brought to justice.

Is this not the real issue that must take precedence and endless vigilance over the potentially destructive perceptions of the New York Times and its like-minded competitors concerning the public’s vested interest in the right to know, which the New York Times so adroitly and convolutedly wraps in the Bill of Rights?

THOMAS HICKEY

Glenview, Ill.

Machetes kill, too

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Regarding the attempt of the United Nations to limit trade in illegal small arms (“U.N. conference takes aim at illicit small-arms trade,” World, yesterday), it’s important to remember that guns are not the only means for killing.

According to Human Rights Watch, “581,000 kilograms of machetes were imported into Rwanda … Assuming the average weight of a machete to be 1 kilogram, this quantity would equal about 581,000 machetes or one for every third adult Hutu male in Rwanda.” Roughly 1 million people were slaughtered in Rwanda, mostly without the use of small arms.

Though illicit trade in any commodity should be stopped, why doesn’t the United Nations concentrate on curbing the bad behavior of humans, starting in Sudan, rather than holding more conferences for bureaucrats in the safety of its headquarters in New York?

MICHAEL LOGAN

Newton, Pa.

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