- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Democrats get it wrong

Democratic politicians have forgotten what they are supposed to stand for, as demonstrated in “United on immigration, Democrats divide voters,” (Page 1, yesterday). Otherwise, they would immediately reject amnesty for illegal aliens, build the border fence and reduce legal immigration.

Democrats speak the loudest for reducing America’s greenhouse gases and pollution generally, but adding tens of millions in population, as plotted in the Flake-Gutierrez immigration bill, would enormously worsen the stresses placed upon the environment. In California, we already are being told to reduce our water usage after only one winter of below-average rainfall because of increased demand.

Do Democrats not understand the connection between immigration-fueled overpopulation and environmental degradation, or are they merely corrupt?

The Democratic Party also claims to care about the well-being of black citizens — but the influx of exploitable foreign labor has reduced the job prospects and lowered wages for lower-skilled blacks. Los Angeles homeless activist Ted Hayes says that illegal aliens are “the biggest threat to blacks in America since slavery.”

Furthermore, Democratic politicians’ insistence on rewarding lawbreaking foreigners is a violation of all Americans’ deeply held belief that this is a nation of laws.

BRENDA WALKER

Berkeley, Calif.

Understanding democracy

Stefan Halper’s column “Generals dodge a bullet on Iraq war” (Commentary, yesterday) has brought forward a number of inconvenient but inescapable questions about the Iraq deployment and the course of the war on terror.

He wonders “why, as war was considered from summer 2002 until hostilities began in March 2003, those who had knowledge of the region — the academics, think tanks such as the Council of Foreign Relations, the major newspapers and the Congress — remained silent.”

Perhaps there is a better answer. In the summer of 2002, just as today, we did not understand what it takes to build functional democracies. It is not just in the Arab or the larger Muslim world where democracy has failed to take root. Democracy is failing in many African nations — in Nigeria, Gambia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Zambia — despite free elections.

The generals’ unprecedented vote of no confidence in the administration is a reflection of our lack (not just the beleaguered Bush administration’s) of understanding of the enemy, of so-called radical Islam. Mr. Halper quotes Marine Gen. Jack Sheehan as saying, “The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going.” There is lack of a coherent strategy to deal with the escalating Islamist threat. This is a threat that is not subject to accommodation or negotiation. I am fairly certain that Democrats also would have stumbled in dealing with this new threat, were they in the executive mansion.

Our time-tested approach to knowledge building and problem solving will not fail us. I bet this will be true of our real enemy — political Islam.

MOORTHY MUTHUSWAMY

Coram, N.Y.

The D.C. parking problem

The editorial “No parking in D.C.” (April 4) dramatically highlights the critical situation for on-street parking in the District. You refer, correctly, to the principal stakeholders — the taxpayers — who have to endure the nightly search for a parking space when returning home at the end of the day. The Residential Parking Permit (RPP) does not guarantee, as one might assume, on-street parking on their own block. In many residential areas, the search ends with the achievement of finding a place three or five blocks away.

A possible solution to the severe parking problem would be to allow D.C. residents to rent or purchase curbside parking space in residential areas. The system obviously would not be compulsory; it would just be open to those residents willing to exercise this option, and it would not be applied in commercial areas. D.C. residents would thus be entitled to “assigned” parking spaces as, apparently, are some car-sharing companies, such as Zipcar.

The system is common practice in cities worldwide as well as in areas as close by as Old Town Alexandria, where residents are allowed to own curbside space on side roads of certain streets.

I have been advised by the D.C. Department of Transportation that such an initiative would require the revision of Title 18 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations through legislative action by the City Council. However, it should be worth considering, taking into account that the proposed system would provide additional revenues to the D.C. government (as a surtax to the property tax) which could be used, among other things, to improve the parking situation citywide through expanded low-cost public parking that could benefit commuters and tourists.

CRISTINA S. ORTIZ

Washington

A study in crime prevention

The mass killer Seung-hui Cho, who took his own life after taking the lives of 32 others at Virginia Tech, was a ticking time bomb, as his history at the school indicates. This was the worst shooting massacre at a U.S. school, but school shootings have become more common. At this point, it is mandatory to look at the events in retrospect to find out how this happened and how similar acts of violence might be prevented.

Previously, Cho had frightened students and teachers with disturbing writings. One story involved an adolescent plotting to kill his stepfather, who ends up killing the stepson. Another story included students fantasizing about stalking and killing a teacher who sexually molested them. Some of his classmates even had joked that Cho would become a school shooter.

His neighbors referred to him as an anti-social loner who did not talk to anyone and would not return greetings. The killer also had set a fire in a dorm room, stalked several women on campus and was thought to be suicidal by an acquaintance. Even after a visit to a psychiatric hospital where he was diagnosed as mentally ill, he was allowed to remain in school for two more years and eventually buy guns.

Left to his own devices, Cho killed two students in the West Ambler Johnston dormitory, then proceeded back to his room to put the final touches on his media package and headed off to the post office. No campus lockdown, no warning, not even a suspect.

Instead, the police acted on an incorrect assumption that the dorm shooting was an isolated “domestic” event. Apparently Cho was not a suspect. Two and half hours later, the mass killings in Norris Hall occurred.

Was it inevitable that Cho would get to the breaking point? Possibly, but that’s why mental institutions exist.

The point is that there were ample opportunities to defuse this ticking time bomb, but the police force, the university and the university community are not set up for crime prevention.

The police at Virginia Tech, as at other college campuses, control underage drinking, issue parking and speeding tickets and keep the peace on the day of a football game. Campus police forces are not configured to protect the lives of unarmed, defenseless students against random acts of violence. However, I believe they should be. Good investigative work could have derailed Cho even before the first set of killings at the dorm.

Police departments everywhere should study and learn from this tragedy to find out what they should be doing to prevent similar events. With help from communities, they need to reorient their mission from crime reaction to crime prevention.

DOUG COOKE

Arlington

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