- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tort reform

The American Tort Reform Association’s (ATRA) Darren McKinney is once again playing fast and loose with the facts (“Tort lawyers, ambulance chasers,” Op-Ed, Friday). As ATRA is funded by pharmaceutical, insurance and tobacco money, it certainly has the resources to peddle junk research that maligns civil justice attorneys and their Web sites while padding the profits of its corporate sponsors.

ATRA and Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) are serious about one thing: making sure their corporate financers aren’t held accountable when their negligence harms Americans.

CMPI is a spinoff of the tort reform group Pacific Research Institute; they conveniently share an executive with a Washington public-relations firm that represents the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country. Why wouldn’t Mr. McKinney reveal CMPI’s ties to ATRA and Big Pharmaceuticals?

ATRA, CMPI and their big corporate donors — who spend nearly twice as much on promotion as on research — want to avoid accountability and limit Americans’ ability to seek justice in the courtroom. Their profits-over-people business model speaks for itself. Don’t let them fool you.

SALVATORE J. ZAMBRI

President

District of Columbia Trial Lawyers Association

Washington

Conservatives? What conservatives?

In the Friday editorial “OK, Republicans. What now?” there is the suggestion of Sen. John McCain selecting a clear conservative as a running mate to balance the ticket.

Because Mitt Romney dropped out of the race, I hear nothing but how conservatives need to support Mr. McCain for the good of the party. Now President Bush, who is not a conservative, is telling conservatives to unite behind Mr. McCain.

Well, excuse me, but conservatives have been doing this since Barry Goldwater with the exception of the Ronald Reagan presidency. This has resulted in a slow but real movement toward socialism in this country.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have shifted left during the past 40 years. A good argument can be made that President Kennedy would be a Republican today. Mr. Reagan said the Democratic Party left him. The Republican Party has left conservatives.

Conservatives need to stop being the subparty within the party. We need real conservative leaders like Michael Steele and George Allen to work toward the creation of a new Conservative Party.

For the sake of the future of the republic, founded on limited government, freedom of religion and a free-market economy, we can no longer afford to let liberals and neoconservatives set the conservative agenda.

LARRY CLAIRMONT

Elkridge, Md.

Supporting biomedical research

The Thursday editorial “Get out of the FDA’s way” is correct in highlighting the great opportunity the Reagan-Udall Foundation has to advance science breakthroughs in support of the Food and Drug Administration’s mission. However, we disagree with your criticism of Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro. During her years of public service, Mrs. DeLauro has championed numerous health policy initiatives, including legislation to support development of valid cancer biomarkers. She also has been a strong, consistent supporter of biomedical research.

The Reagan-Udall Foundation is just beginning its work. As its efforts get under way, we intend to work with Mrs. DeLauro and other interested members of Congress and the public to help ensure that the foundation can carry out its critical mission effectively and with broad-based support.

DR. GEORGES C. BENJAMIN

Executive director

American Public Health

Association

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Washington

KAY HOLCOMBE

Senior health policy adviser

Genzyme Corp.

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Washington

DR. SHARON LEVINE

Associate executive medical director

Permanente Medical Group

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Oakland, Calif.

DR. MARK MCCLELLAN

Director

Engleberg Center for Health Care Reform

Brookings Institution

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Washington

ELLEN V. SIGAL

Chair and founder

Friends of Cancer Research

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Arlington

DIANA ZUCKERMAN

President

National Research Center for Women and Families

Board member

Reagan-Udall Foundation

Washington

Thank you, Tom Lantos

Rep. Tom Lantos was an unfailing and principled advocate for human rights (“U.S. congressman Tom Lantos, 80, dies,” Nation, yesterday). He personified the highest principles of statesmanship by using his office and influence for good: to assist persecuted peoples throughout the world.

Throughout the years, Mr. Lantos and his family members attended various events sponsored by my organization. He often spoke with great pride of his Hungarian identity; occasionally, he even recited patriotic Hungarian poetry remembered from his childhood. He also possessed wit, charm and toughness that could win over the staunchest adversary.

To Hungarian-Americans, Mr. Lantos was a true ally in Washington. He shared our heritage, and he shared our concern for ethnic Hungarians who live as minorities throughout the Carpathian basin. Throughout his years in office, he took the lead and helped our cause in numerous congressional initiatives to call attention to the plight of Hungarian minorities the most urgent cause uniting Hungarian-Americans today. Mr. Lantos never wavered in his commitment to the entire Hungarian nation. As an advocate for our concerns and as a personal friend, he is irreplaceable.

On behalf of our members, our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Annette, and with the entire Lantos family.

MAXIMILIAN TELEKI

President

Hungarian American Coalition

Washington

Schools and unions

President Bush is taking heat for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was put in place to close the gap between the lowest- and highest-performing students (“School choice on rise, but with setbacks,” Nation, Monday). If a school district failed, federal funding would be withdrawn. The two options to close the gap in failing schools are to replace all staff or close the school.

Another option is school choice. In Brevard County, Fla., we have a prime example of a school district failing to follow NCLB guidelines. The county threw money at a failing school, and it still failed. The school district turned it into a magnet school, and it failed. The district changed the principal, and it failed. Parents of 62 failing students selected the school-choice option, and their youngsters were transferred to good schools where 90 percent passed.

The District of Columbia had the poorest schools in the nation when a new superintendent of schools with great vision was appointed. Her job description allowed her to clean out deadwood administrators. She then wanted to close schools that were underenrolled and move out ineffective teachers. She is doing exactly what is called for under NCLB.

The teachers union stepped up to keep its dues-paying members in the classroom even though education in the District was poor. Other unions in the District joined in and supported the teachers union.

This resulted in making NCLB a paper tiger with no teeth. If the unions would get out of the way and allow people with vision to implement programs and then let them succeed, education in the United States would not lose ground in world standards.

BOB BREWSTER

Cocoa, Fla.


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