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June 30, 2010
Chris Chocola at the Club for Growth says that success comes from the inside out and that Republican politicians in particular must insist on certain principles. But Edward Gresser of the Democratic Leadership Council argues that ideological purity kills parties, and new thinking is needed instead. Your feedback:
I think political parties need some core values, but with enough common sense limits and compromise to attract sizable majorities, including independents. Yes, George W. may have been too rigid on Iraq foreign policy and attempted partial Social Security privatization. Obama on the other hand has nationalized GM, Chrysler, and effectively health insurance (private in name only).
Sen. Jim DeMint is correct that bipartisan bills never reduced the size of government. The problem is that very rarely is a government program rescinded after it outlives its purpose.
STEVEN KALKA East Rockaway, NY
If the Republican party trumpets so-called core value purity—the right wing agenda—it will be the end of the GOP. The country is starving for people: (1) who understand the big problems, (2) who have a sensible plan for moving wisely toward solutions, (3) who are open and honest with us, (4) who will work cooperatively, and (5) who demonstrate that long-lost quality, leadership. Probably the best thing the GOP could do is conduct a long and deep poll to learn what we common citizens view as problems, and move forward from that.
DEAN WILLIAMS Willimantic, Conn.
I agree with Mr. Chocola that the Republican party needs to unify around its core values, including restrained government spending, business growth, and individual liberty. Other traditional Republican priorities such as tax reduction and national defense may have to wait for our economic crisis to subside. But the main issue is a need to reestablish that we are a republic, not a democracy, as our Constitution demands. In order to maintain a republic, it is necessary for voters to elect representatives who vow to defend the Constitution. If Republicans all identify with and promote constitutional requirements they should get more votes.
JACK STONE Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Is it just purity of principles? Or what the principles are? Conservatives win when they run on their principles. Democrats only win when they hide their principles and run as conservative values candidates. Except, of course, in Baghdad by the Bay.
LEWIS FLAGG Milford, Mass.
It’s ironic that Mr. Gresser should mention “the Northeast” when Scott Brown just won “the People’s Seat” that used to belong to hardcore leftist Ted Kennedy. Obama won in’08 by running as a centrist. Now, he is trying to polarize the country by playing the race card on immigration, and the “horse trading” and backroom deals on the healthcare bill have turned off moderate voters. Read the polls. More kids every year are growing up pro-life (partly because liberals abort their kids, so the conservative demographic is growing faster).
We are still a center-right country. Democrats are the ones who need “self-criticism and new thinking.” “We’ve been there”? No, Mr. Gresser, you are there. Current Democrats have scared moderate voters by revealing the depths of their liberalism. Better move to the right fast before November.
FAITH WALTON Peru, Ind.
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June 28, 2010
Women Getting in the Game
Comparing the endorsements of Obama and Palin is interesting [“Women Flex Their Political Muscle,” June 11]. Almost everyone Obama endorses and stumps for loses. Almost everyone Palin supports wins. A November pattern emerging?
JIM WATKINS Pasco, Wash.
I sincerely hope that 2010 is the year when many women win elections. Women tend to be the outsidersin political circles. Women tend to understand that big ideas and plans have to be paid for. We need a Congress of public servants, not career politicians.
BETH GALLOWAY Maggie Valley, N.C.
Mandatory Voting Is a Bad Idea
The Obama presidency is evidence that too many ignorant people vote. Mr. Galston’s proposal for mandatory voting [“A Call for Mandatory Voting,” June 11] would simply make that situation worse. Instead of forcing people to vote, we should require that they earn the right to do so by showing that they have a clue.
LEW FLAGG Milford, Mass.
Conservatives Are Winning
“We’ve got corporate women winning as well as Tea Party favorites,” observes Editor Brian Kelly, as if to posit a study in contrasts [Editor’s Note, June 11]. Hardly. The simple fact is, conservatives did well on June 8. Those further and furthest left were rebuffed. As for a “corporate woman” outpolling a candidate further to her right, chalk this up to the electorate’s seriousness of purpose. In the words of Rand Paul on election night in Kentucky, conservatives mean to “take back our government” this fall. That means voting in one’s primary for the man or woman who can win in November. This ain’t rocket science.
LOU CARTIER Greeley, Colo.
Paying for the Oil Spill
BP is never going to pay the full costs of the spill [“Making Sure That BP Pays the Full Bill,” June 18]. The company will be bankrupt before the job is well started. The task ahead is to determine how much the taxpayers, via government, will spend versus how much the local economies will suffer. Do we let local economies collapse for decades or do we share the burden? We should be launching a massive reclamation program right now instead of the [ongoing] piecemeal efforts.
KENNETH VISTE Boise, Idaho
President Obama’s performance is abysmal and no more than political theater. Where is his help in getting federal approval for more spill-cleanup resources and for recommended sand berms to protect marshes? Also, what about a presidential waiver of the Jones Act to allow foreign-flag vessels to help with the spill and a federal mobilization of manpower resources to help with cleanup? With charges of neglect raging, he should be announcing action instead of kicking “ass.”
GEORGE WOMBWELL Carbondale, Colo.
Obama’s Job Performance
What do people want from our president [Editor’s Note, June 18]? Obama did not cause the oil leak, the wars in the Middle East, or the economic slump in our country—let alone the world. Isn’t it interesting that, according to people in other countries, Obama is doing a wonderful job? Do we want a president who shouts his anger, or do we want a president who is calm and rational in confronting the problems of our nation? I am extremely grateful we have the president we have in the White House.
GARY SCOTT Ocean View, Del.
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June 14, 2010
Who’s in Charge of the Oil?
The issue is not one of too little government regulation, it is more one of incompetent oversight [“A Riptide of Blame,” May 28]. The knee-jerk reaction of many is to add to the stew of regulations rather than to reform what already exists. Unfortunately, our congressional members and executive branch never think of reforming or eliminating the ineffective or redundant. Time to wake up, President Obama, and start delivering some of the reform you promised during the campaign.
PHIL MURRAY Needham, Mass.
The Constitution Is Not Living
If, as Prof. David Strauss postulates, the U.S. Constitution is a “living” document, then whatever happened to the rule of law [“Keeping the Constitution Up to Date,” May 28]? The rule of law is based on consistent interpretation of the law combined with the doctrine of stare decisis, meaning the importance of precedent cases. Prof. Strauss’s concept of a living Constitution says that the Constitution means whatever the courts and the people want it to mean. If that is true, then why did the framers provide a mechanism [Article V] for amending the Constitution? Having a constitution subject to changing interpretations makes Article V superfluous and destroys the very concept of the rule of law. Surely James Madison and the other framers never intended such consequences.
K. ALLAN ZABEL Orem, Utah
Now that the federal government is as powerful as it is, no one should wonder that it is as corrupt as it is. Using pretty words to disguise the further corruption of the Constitution should be opposed on every level. Widespread support for a “living” document can only result in its death.
MICHAEL HUGHES Royal Oak, Mich.
The Constitution is not a document that evolves over time. It is what it is. Too often in recent years, Congress has passed laws that violate the Constitution. One example is the recently passed healthcare plan; another is the increasing [federal] control of education. We need to get back to what the Constitution was intended to be.
KEN GAMES Moundsville, W.Va.
‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
I served in the U.S. Army for over 21 years (1982 to 2003), and during that time I never once saw a soldier who was actually a homosexual discharged under DADT [Editor’s Note, May 28]. What I did see were soldiers who voluntarily admitted their “homosexuality” to get out of their commitments when the stress got to be too much. I also knew a few homosexuals who kept to themselves and were hard-working, dedicated soldiers. They tended to do their time and then get out when their contracts were up. People of this great nation must remember that, like it or not, we are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Why should the government force upon the people legislation that violates the principles and values that we supposedly hold so dear?
JOHN SULLIVAN Clarksville, Tenn.
Biden a Bad Cleanup Czar
Your commentary on how Obama can turn around the oil leak crisis was very weak [“How Obama Can Turn Around the Gulf Crisis,” June 4]. Joe Biden, cleanup czar? I would love to hear the off-the-cuff remarks he would make. As far as blaming BP, [BP was] operating under United States regulations and oversight. All the finger-pointing in the world won’t stop one barrel of oil from leaking.
MICHAEL COMBS Gualala, Calif.
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June 1, 2010
Pensions Are Too Costly
Mr. Zuckerman’s observations about public employee unions are spot on [“The Price We Pay for Public Employee Unions,” May 14]. It is unsustainable for government entities to pay retirees a stipend virtually equal to the salary they earned and for a retirement period often longer than their employment. Taxpayers will soon grow weary of supporting these lavish benefits packages conferred by politicians with no skin in the game.
CHARLES STEINER Mt. Lebanon, Pa.
Judging Elena Kagan
Based on my reading of your article on Elena Kagan [“A Non-Judge for the High Court,” May 14], I would concur with many that she is a brilliant nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. [Check out our editorial cartoons on Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination.]
FRED KAHN Bethesda, Md.
If anyone takes the time to read some of Kagan’s Oxford thesis, “The Development and Erosion of the American Exclusionary Rule: A Study in Judicial Method,” he or she will see that Kagan can express herself with clarity and precision. Since the ability to express oneself with clarity, conviction, and brevity would seem to be an essential quality for a Supreme Court justice (but a quality often lacking), Kagan will probably be a refreshing improvement.
MICHAEL GORMAN Whitestone, N.Y.
I have two problems with Kagan being appointed a justice of the Supreme Court: She has no judicial experience and she’s from New York. There would be four Supreme Court justices from New York. Believe it or not, there’s a huge country outside of the northeastern United States that has different experiences and perspectives.
PEGGY SUTTON Camas, Wash.
Kagan simply has no clue about ordinary Americans, except her and her fellow liberals’ views on how we should live our lives. The obvious result, if she has her way, is more government direction of our lives and the loss of freedom to live as we choose.
RONALD SMITH Williamsburg, Va.
Your story was not very well researched. You left out that Kagan tried to eliminate military recruitment at Harvard during the height of the Iraq War because of the military’s policy on homosexuals. Even one of the most liberal Supreme Court justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) said this was “wrong-headed.” [Kagan] is way to the left of the mainstream and does not merit a position on the Supreme Court.
FRANK AUGUSTINE Clifton Park, N. J.
The Offshore Oil Mess
Let’s not drill any more until we can be very sure this type of disaster can’t happen again [Editor’s Note, May 21]. And why are we depending on BP, whose fault it is, to clean it up? It looks as if all they’re interested in is salvaging what they can of the spill, rather than stopping the outrage.
JACQUELINE JOHNSON Deerfield Beach, Fla.
It is time for [President Obama] to launch a major effort to wean us from our addiction to oil, as he promised during the campaign. The time for talk has passed. It is time to put a stop to this ridiculous dependence upon those who wish us ill. We should lead on this one—not follow others.
RALPH HYDE Lakeland, Tenn.
The thing isn’t so much the tragedy at the BP oil well, bad enough as that is, but the poor job government has done regulating the practice of offshore drilling. Big government has become a tumor. It is growing out of control, yet is just not performing as originally designed, if at all. We have abdicated so many things that once worked fairly well, and offshore drilling is just another case. The Interior Department has let us down once again; the regulators having tucked nicely into Big Oil’s back pocket on several occasions. The thing that stuck out in my mind, and came as a surprise, is that oil companies are able to go to foreign nations for their flag and safety standards. Anyone who is supposed to be regulating drilling, who saw BP’s move to the Marshall Islands, should have known that we were asking for trouble letting this happen. Allowing this has permitted the companies working the rigs to get sloppy and take unnecessary risks to boost the bottom line. The gulf is too fragile not to take every possible precaution, and we should never have allowed this awful thing to occur. The good news is there is now no excuse not to conserve and seek green energy sources vigorously.
RONALD ZIMMER Schenectady, N.Y.
I am a retired engineer and find it amazing that the oil companies are at a loss for coping with the well failure. It is incomprehensible that years of drilling could not have developed better equipment, safeguards, and contingencies. As much as I hate big government, it is a shame that industry cannot regulate itself. Like Three Mile Island [nuclear accident], this could be the turning point. I am certain the technology is available to safeguard drilling operations, but I am not sure how to enforce its use. The profit motive of the oil companies appears to trump everything else.
JERRY APPELL Palm City, Fla.
America needs to reduce its dependency on Mideast oil, which makes the drilling in the Gulf [of Mexico] absolutely necessary. However, in light of the current spill in the Gulf, better and more efficient methods must be developed. Safety standards seem to be either very lax or even nonexistent. Nuclear and clean-coal energy need to be developed to lessen our dependency on oil.
PETER PFEFFERKORN Kerrville, Texas
On the PBS NewsHour the other night, they had an interview with a maritime official from the Middle East who talked about a massive oil spill of hundreds of millions of gallons. Their solution for this oil spill (which dwarfs the Gulf [of Mexico] spill) was to use oil tankers and suck up the oil-and-water mixture. It was a success. The mixture was later separated into oil and water. Why don’t the powers that be—BP, the United States government—use the same method before the Gulf oil spill turns into an unmitigated disaster. Here is a proven workable solution and no one is using it or even talking about it. Dragging our feet is not an option when it comes to a fragile environment.
RON LOWE Nevada City, Calif.