Reader Mail

Get Out of Jail Free

Should ex-felons vote? Also: Estrich: not a pretty picture. Fighting the malaria "virus." Border patrollers. Plus much more.

3.2.05

NOT A PRETTY PICTURE
Re: The Susan Estrich graphic:

I think that picture of Susan Estrich on your website is a cheap shot not worthy of The American Spectator. Reminds me of some of the yahoos I knew in high school.
-- Annette Cwik

That photo of Prof. Estrich that graces the Spectator's homepage today is just...frightening. Don't take any calls from Bert Fields.
-- Jim Willhite
West Chester, Pennsylvania

JAILING THE VOTE
Re: Shawn Macomber's Re-Enfranchising Felons:

If I had any remaining doubts about letting ex-felons vote, Shawn Macomber has convinced me. I would even go so far as to let the Clintons vote once they serve their time and become ex-felons.
-- John Gorentz
Battle Creek, Michigan

Shawn Macomber demonstrates once again that a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested. Ever since he was incarcerated while covering the convention this past summer, Macomber's writings resemble something one would find in The Nation or Village Voice. Although disappointing, it comes as no surprise that he would advocate giving felons the right to vote. In a future column, I expect him to advocate granting the voting franchise to illegal immigrants too.

At what point does The American Spectator recognize that Macomber is morphing into another David Brock and sends him on his merry way? I'm sure that there is George Soros's 527 just waiting to support his efforts to boost Democrat voter turnout in the next election.
-- Mike Young
Dallas, Texas

Shawn put into words exactly how I feel about this issue and it's about time! If our convicted felons are to be rehabilitated and productive citizens of this country they need to be able to participate in the act of voting. It is demoralizing that these people are denied this right and therefore limit their ability to take ownership for their actions. This country needs more voters, not less. The political reasons behind this bill are nowhere near as important as the responsibility of Americans to vote. People can and do change. People can and do make mistakes. If they have completed their incarceration, probation, parole, they will find it difficult enough to find a good job and support themselves. Bravo to those that are able to make the transition. Let's not continue to punish them further by continuing to deny them the right and, most importantly, the responsibility of voting.
-- Margaret Whelan
New Durham, New Hampshire

I agree a person shouldn't have to pay for the rest of their life for something they've done their time for. I do not agree that someone on probation or parole should be allowed to vote. I consider that an incomplete cycle. I also don't what any child molesters voting -- I don't care if they've done their time or not and don't tell me they're all still in jail. This needs to be looked at carefully and all considerations aired. I do not want a broad sweeping felon voting law.

As you said in your article felony now covers a broad area of crimes, some worse than others and this should be taken in to account. I feel this shows how desperate the Dems are to get more votes. As usual their real concern isn't for the disenfranchisement of felons but the thought of more votes. I'm wondering if the reps went along with this graciously if it might backfire on the Dems. People might view this as a reason to come out in greater numbers for reps. I certainly would.
-- C. Benson

Ex-felons can't vote? Cry me a river. While I doubt that ex-felons would actually vote in any appreciable numbers, these are not people who were just standing around and were hit by a meteorite of crime. They were active participants in taking away the civil rights of other US citizens. I don't think that losing forever the right to vote is too harsh for people who seriously violate the social contract embodied by the law. Felonies are not minor infractions. Can't respect the rest of us enough to not rob or murder us? Why should we bother to care about your vote? I'm sure that some felons are rehabilitated and that's great, but there are other ways to contribute to society besides voting. As far as separating out non-violent from violent offenders, do you really want Ken Lay (assuming he gets convicted) canceling out your vote? This issue is a non-starter. The public may not be political about voting rights for ex-felons, but to paraphrase Mr. T, "Come re-election time, I pity the fool who voted to give Mary Kay Letourneau, Michael Milkin, or that child molester down the street, the right to vote. I'll crucify him. Real bad."

By the way, plasmodium is a protozoa that causes malaria. It is not a virus (different kingdom). May I suggest googling it next time?
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
Omaha, Nebraska

Were America to re-enfranchise felons, imagine how politicians would pander to them to gain their votes?
-- David Govett
Davis, California

Elected legislatures don't disfranchise felons. What legislatures do is set out the rules in advance, and everybody knows them. Felons then disfranchise themselves, in a classic application of what Alex Kozinski has dubbed "The Toyota Principle."

That is, "You asked for it -- you got it."

Whatever the people of Vermont or some such place might choose to do, I seriously doubt that we'll ever give felons the vote here in Virginia. Whether or not they've "served their time." They would serve themselves and society best by sucking it up, getting on with their lives, and not demeaning themselves by begging us to relieve them of the easily foreseeable consequences of their felonies.
-- Doug Welty
Arlington, Virginia

Well personally I think Macomber is exhibiting a tenuous grip on reality at best.

This "Kennedy like neo-con" obviously hasn't paid attention to the fact that felons have proven they can't live in a free society so why should they have any part in helping govern it?

Maybe the words, "recidivism" and, "ex-felons" mean nothing to Macomber but for people who know better also know Macomber's viewpoint is riddled with delusion.
-- Russ Harris

Just finished reading Shawn Macomber's article. The right to vote is one that should never be denied except under the gravest of circumstances. The list of offenses is so long these days for which one can be convicted of a felony most notably in this country's failed "War on Drugs" that the reinstatement of voting rights after the debt to society is paid is insanity. I hope to see more articles on this issue in the future.
-- R. Napolitano
Alton, New Hampshire

Right On! And the inmates should be running the asylum too!
-- Paul Bunker

WHEN A VIRUS IS NOT A VIRUS
Re: Gerald and Natalie Sirkin's DDT, Fraud, and Tragedy and Mark Schaffer's letter (under "Four Out of Five Scientists Concur") in Reader Mail's The Best Is Yet to Come:

I just read online your article, "DDT, Fraud, and Tragedy" by Gerald and Natalie Sirkin. I am glad you are presenting this information to the public. But toward the end of the article the authors make a very serious mistake. They state that "mutations of the malaria virus soon make a drug ineffective."

This is wrong on two counts:

1. Malaria is treatable. The article makes it seem that it is not.

2. Malaria is not caused by a virus. It is caused by a protozoan parasite.

When you report on important scientific matters, you need to know all the facts. Your authors' failure here will cast doubt on the entire article. And that is a shame because the anti-DDT hysteria needs to be exposed.
-- David Calvani

Could this DDT issue be a result of water pollution? Contaminated water leads to lower fish stocks, which lead to poorer food sources for raptors eating fish (bald eagles etc.), which leads to thinning egg shells? Therefore, improved water quality through improved waste water treatment reverses the water problem, thereby reversing the shell thinning problem! Is this consistent with the evidence?

Also, in a letter the day before, I noted a suggestion for an alternate to DDT. But in reviewing its data sheet, I found that it was shown to be toxic to birds! Could DDT be the archetype of a bird friendly pesticide?
-- Bruce Thompson

Gerald and Natalie Sirkin write in response to Mark Schaffer's letter that "Mr. Schaffer evidently has difficulty reading. Our article does not call malaria a virus." The article in question contains the following quote: "The search for a treatment for malaria continues to fail; the mutations of the malaria virus soon make a drug ineffective." If this is not calling malaria a virus, then I suffer from the same reading disability as Mr. Schaffer.
-- Glen Hoffing

Plasmodium falciparum is NOT a virus. Simple fact-checking would have prevented this ridiculous error.
-- Ann Morrill
Grove City, Ohio

Plasmodium is definitely NOT a virus. It is a PROTOZOAN, a fairly complex multi-cellular parasite. Indeed, one of the reasons no malaria vaccine has ever been developed after many years of failed effort is the fact that a vaccine would need to be developed for each of the four major species of Plasmodium, and very likely for the geographic races and variants of each of those species. Perhaps even for the different stages of the parasite, which I understand are antigenically different from each other. The malaria parasite has a fairly complex life cycle encompassing the human host and the Anopheline mosquito vector. (Not to nitpick, but the mozzie image with the article was not even an Anopheline, but of the Genus Ochlerotatus.) And even a simple multicellular protozoan is vastly more sophisticated, genetically-speaking, than a rather simple virus. I regret I did not notice this error in print. But I am actually almost completely jaded to the fact that journalists invariably refer to any and all pathogens as a "virus." So, people, let's do the homework. Any "real" malaria experts out there?
-- Bradley E. Foster, Medical Entomologist

A plasmodium is not a virus. It is the genus name for a parasite that is carried in the salivary glands of mosquitoes. Malaria is a disease caused by these parasites after a mosquito bites a person and injects its saliva (in order to thin the persons blood) and hence the parasites along with it.
-- Chris O'Hara, M.D.

The question remains screaming in my mind... Why? What was the motivation to kill off the Malaria killer? Follow the money... I eagerly await the rest of the story.
-- Craig Reynolds
Maumelle, Arkansas

FLYING HIGH
Re: Charles V. Peña's Helicoptor Politics:

Mr. Peña's article was very well done, in my opinion. I am normally extremely interested in our Dept. of Defense "buying American." In this case, however, I have had some problems.

First, the aircraft will be assembled and outfitted in America, by Americans, and many of the subcontractors on the project will be 100% American.

Secondly, the vital cutting edge military technology, as I understand it, will be supplied by American subcontractors.

Thirdly, the Brits and the Italians have been steadfast in supporting the U.S. in the whole terrorist fight, unlike the French, Germans, Belgians, etc.

Fourthly, Lockheed-Martin have been reliably cutting edge in defense technology for more years that many of their critics have been alive. The Lockheed "Skunkworks" alone has, in the past, more than kept America in the forefront of military aviation technology.

Lastly, I worry that American companies and whole industries have a history of losing that technological edge that keeps them ahead of the international competition. Certainly our auto industry did that and the Japanese cleaned our clocks on cars, until Detroit got their minds right and made the necessary corrections in technology, designs, and attitudes. Lockheed, itself, in the recent past, has been justly accused of losing some of it "push the envelope" attitudes and skills that the "Skunkworks" embodied. I think this shows that they are getting their minds right again and are ready to stop living off their reputation.

I think this shock to Sikorsky may prove to be a God-send to them. This will, hopefully, cause them to re-evaluate their competitive attitudes and skills, and return the upper levels of management to a dedication to cutting edge, "be the best that you can be" type of outfit that Igor Sikorsky put together to begin with.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

On the selection for the manufacturer of the new Marine One helicopter, I have to agree with Neil Cavuto, that it should be an all American-built aircraft.
-- Larry Olsen
Granada Hills, California

GLOOM IN BRIGHTON
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's It'll Kill You:

While Mr. Reliand's portrait of the NHS is, if anything, over kind, there is something that can be said on the system's behalf.

I recently had to bring a friend to the Emergency Room of an NHS hospital in the city of Brighton, England. A shabby, rather Dickensian institution, with no offense intended to our British cousins.

She was admitted, and like every patient, issued a pair of support stockings (quite similar to those British Airways Business and First Class passengers are given) said to prevent the dreaded Deep Vein Thrombosis. Very impressive. Just like Business or First on British Airways! And every patient got them.

She languished there for a week, was never diagnosed or treated, and was finally, and arbitrarily, evicted.

I myself was recently admitted through the ER to a very luxurious private hospital near Fort Lauderdale, FL. I was given superb medical attention: X-Rays, MRI's, CAT scans, Doppler scans, pulmonary therapy and so much more I've forgotten it all. I was seen by numerous specialists. I had IV antibiotics going at all times, along with IV saline to prevent dehydration.

Though diagnosed with pneumonia, I was back on my feet and released in a mere 5 days, with imaging showing near-complete resolution of the pneumonia.

However, they did not give me any special stockings! No stockings! Can you imagine? Bloody primitive Yanks. Life on the frontier, eh?
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

ALL IS NOT WELL
Re: Tom Bethell's Welfare State Immigrants:

Mr. Bethell said: "The leading proponent of the argument that we should do nothing to stand in the way of Mexicans who want to come is Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute."

The leading proponent is President Bush, as reflected in the budget he is submitting to Congress. Funding for the promised new agents was anemic, at best.

If the President does not lead on this, nothing can happen. We all know the President, and who knows Tamar Jacoby?

If The American Spectator does not President Bush accountable on this issue, who will?
-- Clifford Payne
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The fact that Tom Bethell chose to begin his article by gingerly traversing the minefield of political correctness before proceeding to write that "...all is not well in the field of immigration." speaks volumes. Perhaps the best way to view our current immigration mess is to recall the elephant in the living room analogy: everyone sees it, but few, if any, are willing to discuss the presence of the pachyderm. Bethell's article is, however, a step in the right direction.

The article uses government figures which severely understate the number of illegal aliens in this country. Whether that undercount is purposeful or indicative of incompetence I leave to others, but the brokerage firm of Bear, Stearns sent its investigative reporters into the field and came back with the figure of 18-20 million. The difference, I suspect, is that they were looking for the truth. In one case, the reporters used U.S. Census data in three New Jersey communities, noting that reported population increases did not square with the three-fold increase in multi-family dwelling housing permits. Conclusion: "...the immigrant populations are larger than shown by the census." The brokerage house, not noted as a critic of illegal immigration, also claimed that illegal aliens now hold "...12 to 15 million jobs in the U.S." and the U.S. tax revenue loss from such illegality is approaching a trillion dollars, or nearly 9% of GDP. None of this would have happened without the "wink and nod" approach that hundreds of law enforcement officials assume in many jurisdictions. Would they take the same approach if civil rights laws were being ignored? Can they, I ask, select which laws they choose to enforce?

This wanton disregard for the rule of law worries Bethell, and, truth be told, many other Americans as well. I have appeared before two Virginia Senate committees reminding them of current federal law, and recent federal court rulings in the state of Virginia, yet still there is a strong, vocal and well-organized lobby for this violation of law that continues to gather momentum, fueled by the majority of the Democratic Party as well as a portion of the GOP. It goes without saying that the president, not being part of the solution, is part of the problem: it should not be forgotten that President Bush cut Border Patrol funding and only one-tenth of the number of agents the Patrol requested are to be hired. Drones and scientific detection gear will not stop the "coyotes," the traffickers in this business; Border Patrol Agents might. This is not rocket science. Citizens of Arizona, despite passing Prop 200, are not confident that it will be enforced, and nearly 1000 citizens have voluntarily signed up to help see that it is. The conclusion that many of these people, who live in a combat zone, draw is based on their personal experience that neither federal nor state governments appear serious about enforcement of immigration law.

Mr. Bethell's efforts to inform his audience of the dangers of untrammeled illegal immigration is worthy of praise, and I hope that they continue. Instead of being called "a nativist," or xenophobe, I would prefer to call him a patriot, even if his pronunciation of the word is not mine.
-- Vincent Chiarello
Reston, Virginia

YOU CAN HIDE…
Re: slg's letter (under "Screen Shots") in Reader Mail's The Best Is Yet To Come:

What is really sick is not realizing that an unborn child has the same rights that you do. That's not "hands-off," that's you devaluing life.

I'm a Libertarian, too, and the rights I cherish extend to those unable to speak for themselves. Just because they have not exited the birth canal in what you deem a proper or timely fashion doesn't make them less human. They are still children and deserving of every right you claim. To me, you're sick.

It was very courageous of you to sign your email "slg." Using an anonymous name shows your lack of conviction and your abundant cowardice.
-- Michael Selick
Akron, Ohio

NO END TO THE KIDDING
Re: Michael McClone's letter ("Big Girls Don't Cry") in Reader Mail's Sinners Unrepentant, Shawn Macomber's Deaniacs.com and Rian Watt's letter (under "Revenge of the Howies") in Reader Mail's Howie Who?:

Regarding the kids4dean foolishness, you would think that intelligent adults realize that they simply cannot masquerade as children when they write. Of course, since the people in question are self-styled "liberals," the sobriquet "intelligent adults," generally does not apply. After reading both the original letter, then the response from the writer to you, and then the letter from Rian's "friend," I conclude, from looking at the sentence structure and the vocabulary, that these letters were written by someone how is not only not a child, but is probably closer to my age than to Shawn's. On what do I base this "Holmesian" pronouncement? The average child of eleven years today, who attends a public school, could not produce a literate letter.

Should I attempt to make you, or anyone believe, that I am a lad of eleven years, my grammar, punctuation, syntax, spelling of various words, and general "tone" of my writing would allow anyone with a modicum of discernment to infer that I was an adult, and not a young adult, either. The same is true for your correspondents, but, to be scrupulously fair, I suppose we can conclude that the individual, or individuals involved are supports of Dr. Dean, the Vermonter from Park Avenue, so, irrespective of their chronological age, they are still children in terms of intellectual, moral and ethical maturity.
-- Pat Heffernan

FIGHTING DEMONS
Re: The recent USA Next ad:

The Spectator is on the wrong side of the SS debate. Demonizing the AARP will backfire and defeat the Bush proposal. If the issue cannot be won on its own merits, it is obvious to me that it is not good for the American people as a whole.
-- R. Simmons
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article