Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simply ridiculous

In “A $54 million lawsuit” (Op-Ed, Wednesday), Karen Harned and Sherman Joyce urge D.C. officials to remove Roy Pearson from his post as an administrative law judge. Mr. Pearson is suing his dry cleaners for $54 million for losing his pants.

D.C. officials wrongly believe Mr. Pearson is shielded from discipline by the First Amendment, whose freedom-of-petition clause protects a citizen’s right to bring non-frivolous lawsuits. But they are wrong, both because Mr. Pearson’s suit has frivolous elements and because he is a public employee and thus is held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens.

While ordinary citizens can’t be punished for suing, public employees often can. A public employee like Mr. Pearson can be disciplined if his suit undermines his employer’s mission or interests or if it is so petty that it does not involve a matter of public concern.

Mr. Pearson’s suit is so ridiculous that it undermines confidence in the legal system and the D.C. government. So, he can be fired without violating the First Amendment.


Counsel for special projects

Competitive Enterprise Institute


It’s a soap opera

I agree with Paul Greenberg that “The Sopranos,” a soap opera about dysfunctional families, criminal and other, is hardly worth the newsprint and encomiums bestowed on it (“The Soprano effect,” Commentary, Friday).

At the risk of being labeled a curmudgeon, I suspect that all this praise takes origin from those with active fantasy lives which occasionally supplant the more humdrum life of reality we must all endure. Crime, the more lurid the better, sells, as do families in crisis.That is why my local newspaper devotes so much space to these types of stories.

Now, I yield to no one in my praise of television and agree again with Mr. Greenberg that there have been shows of surpassing interest. They have in common, beside the excellent production values, that one can learn something from watching them.

And that is what sticks in my craw about “The Sopranos.” Just what did it teach?


Cincinnati, Ohio

Do you CAFE?

I share James H. Burnley’s distaste for CAFE standards (“CAFE quicksand,” Commentary, Thursday).

However, in his opinion piece, I was disappointed to find no alternate solution for reducing gasoline consumption.

CAFE standards allow politicians to present to the publicimmediate (apparent) benefits while imposing costs that are long-delayed and not clearly traceable to those politicians. The costs end up on the car dealer’s sticker price, not on your tax bill.

With CAFE standards, domestic car manufacturers and their home-state legislators can rig the rules in their favor — as they have in the past. And if a tighter set of government regulations were able to make an industry more nimble and competitive, this would be the very first time.

If the goal is reducing gasoline use — whatever the motivation — then a higher gasoline tax is a far more direct, efficient, fast and honest way to accomplish that.


Alexandria, VA


The Embassy Row brief “Arab Anger” (World, Tuesday) refers to Israel’s 1967 capture of “Arab East Jerusalem.” Consideration of the years before 1967 makes it clear that the term is a misnomer. The history of the Old City, and all of eastern Jerusalem, is much richer and more complex than that.

Until 1860, Jerusalem’s Jews lived exclusively within the walls of the Old City, now the core of eastern Jerusalem. They constituted a plurality of the population — Jews, Muslims, Christians — by 1844. In 1948, Jordanian forces killed some Jewish residents and defenders of the Old City and expelled the others from eastern Jerusalem. They then began an illegal 19-year occupation, which included the destruction of scores of synagogues and other Jewish institutions of the so-called Arab East Jerusalem.

This 19-year absence of Jews was the exception, not the norm. In fact, eastern Jerusalem’s current Jewish population is 43 percent of the total, quite a change from the 1949-1967 period, when no Jews were allowed.

All this contradicts the term Arab East Jerusalem. Such a label describes what was briefly a diverse area with a large Jewish influence.

People who have never experienced the city and its ability to function cohesively despite the religious, ethnic and cultural differences of its population should not be mislead about Jerusalem, east or west, old or new.


College Park

Disgusted with Washington

How depraved has Washington become? The FBI believes nuclear terrorism is inevitable, yet the borders remain wide open and it is as if September 11 had never happened (“FBI director predicts terrorists will acquire nukes,” Nation, Tuesday).

National security is endangered in the most horrific way imaginable, by American cities possibly being incinerated, yet the president is determined to dismantle sovereignty and safety through his immigration policy.

Border Patrol chief David Aguilar recently stated that the border won’t be secured before 2013. That will be 12 years since our nation was attacked. How can such laxity possibly be excused?

I can hardly express my disgust with Washington and particularly the president for the failure of border security these many years after September 11. While trying to portray himself as the tough protector of the nation, he is anything but. His loyalties lie with Mexico and his business cronies, not the American voters who entrusted the country to his hands.

The occasional nuked city is apparently an acceptable cost for maintaining the cheap labor to which business has become addicted.


Berkeley, Calif.

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