- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Congressional spending habits

It was great that the editorial “Bad spending habits,” (yesterday) pointed out the various ways the Democratic leadership is slipping and sliding around its own rules on the budget. Reporting the details of such devious behavior by any politician helps to ultimately keep them honest.

Yet, many continue to be surprised, some even shocked, that the Democrats would go back on the words and promises they used to retake control of Congress. The Democrats knew that few Americans would continue to pay attention after the election, so they understood that their promises and actions need never coincide if they played it right.

When congressmen run and get elected specifically on how much “pork” they bring home, earmarks become a very hard thing to actually oppose.

EDWIN W. IRBY, JR.

Tallahassee, Fla.

Guns and the Second Amendment

It is rare that I am moved to write a letter to a newspaper, but one of the sentences in the editorial “Guns for self-defense” (Tuesday) really motivated me.

You refer to politicians “lining up behind the fiery dissent of Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson who argues that ‘the District is inescapably excluded from the Second Amendment because it is not a State.’ ” There are two things one knows about Judge Henderson without reading further. First she must have been appointed by a Democrat. Second, and far more importantly, she must have slumbered through her constitutional law class in law school.

About the only thing in the short sentence which she got right is that the District is not a state. The Constitution, except for the 14th Amendment, does not address the states; it provides powers and limits on the federal government.

The Second Amendment, like the entire Bill of Rights, is addressed only to the federal government. If you buy into the idea that much of the Bill of Rights is incorporated through the due process language of the 14th Amendment, and thus applies to the states, likethe activistWarren Court did, than the Second Amendment also applies to states. Butno argument can be made that it doesn’t apply to a federal entity like Washington.Judge Henderson’s opinion is just another example of liberal activist judges who simply ignore those portions of the Constitutionwhich they don’t like.

CHARLES B. ZURAVIN

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

I agree with the editorial “Guns for self-defense,” (Tuesday) that a lot of legal shenanigans are used by gun-control zealots in order to justify their revulsion of the Second Amendment (and gun owners). However, it really should not take any fancy legal footwork to prove what that amendment means to Americans.

First, legal scholars agree the Constitution would not have been ratified without the addition of the Bill of Rights. Second, they also agree that the Bill of Rights illuminates rights of “the people.” In fact, that phrase appears in five of 10 of the amendments. Unquestionably, in four of those, even anti-gunners must agree that “the people” means individuals. However,in the Second Amendment, those in favor of harsh gun-control laws believe the meaning suddenly morphs to “the state,” an illogical step.

The Second Amendment consists of 27 words, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Anti-gunners also like to claim that the Framers could not have foreseen the powerful weapons we have today, so they are to be excluded from the Second Amendment. Using that logic, this letter, written on a computer rather than with a quill pen, deserves no protection under the First Amendment. For that matter, what was all the fuss about wiretapping terrorists’ phone calls? The Framers could not have conceive of cell phones, so the First Amendment does not apply.

But here is the worst part: An inconvenient truth of gun control is that it has roots in post-Civil War bigotry and was meant to disarm blacks. It must be defeated.

TIM DUDENHOEFER

Silver Spring

Educational standards needed

Morton Kondracke’s column talks about issues and problems of the No Child Left Behind Act (“No child left behind, and more,” Commentary, Tuesday). Yet he does not talk about standards for learning, assessment and evaluation.

Without standards there is chaos. That’s a major problem with pre-kindergarten through high-school education in the United States. The need for standards was brought to the attention of the audience at the 2007 National Governors’ Association winter meeting.

Technology today makes interactive learning possible using various portable devices — video games, cell phones, DVD-TV players, etc. Such learning has been around for decades in other forms, however. Today it’s very affordable. Using this approach teachers, tutors, students and parents could learn the same basics; progress and assessment could be built in just like video games.

We must stop shoveling trillions of dollars into education and getting little or slow progress. Let’s establish subject-matter standards upon which various jobs and professions can build.

G. STANLEY DOORE

Silver Spring

The ‘Reasonably Intelligent’ Caucus

The editorial “The Buffoon Caucus,” (Tuesday)makes several excellent points, but I’d like to add that our troops deserved better before they were even sent into battle. They deserved better during the Clinton administration when military budgets were in steady decline; and they deserved better after September 11 when they were sent into battle without a clear plan for exit or how to treat the wounded.

No matter the reasoning, the troops have always deserved better than they have gotten from Congress or the White House, or the American public for that matter, and quite frankly, I am tired of reading the baseless innuendo that those who support bringing the troops home are somehow not supporting the troops.

Neither party, Republican or Democratic, can claim that they support the troops more or less than the other. Each side is vying for the political upper hand, the result of which is motivated less by the welfare of our fighting men and women and more by their own political futures.

It is sometimes laughable how it spills over into the public view, but the more dangerous reality is that Congress could potentially micromanage the war based on political pressure rather than allow the military commanders to conduct the war in a way that preserves our national security and our long term global interests.

Is the Democrats’ Iraq plan a mess? Absolutely. Are the sponsors “The Buffoon Caucus” as the editorial suggests? No. I think these are reasonably intelligent people trying to uncomplicate a quagmire that may well be beyond uncomplicating.

A precipitous withdrawal is obviously not in the best interest of this country or our troops, but one need only look back to our exit from Vietnam to realize that there is no easy way out, and plans such as those introduced by House Democrats (as laughable as the presentation may have been) are a vital part of the public debate on Iraq and America’s long-term future. And that, my friends, is in the best interest of America (troops included).

DAVID YOUNG

Wilmington, N.C.

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