Saturday Mailbox


September 09, 2006

No reason to resent Lewis' fund-raising

Misguided and confused disability activists recently protested the Labor Day telethon held on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted by Jerry Lewis ("Telethon raises criticism," Sept. 3).

They argued against the telethon's "charity mentality," insisting that it actively promote access, better housing and employment opportunities for the disabled.

Reaching such goals is necessary if disabled people are to live productive lives in the complex, competitive world of the 21st century. But other work is needed as well.

The work of Mr. Lewis is not primarily about living and coping with disability, as important as that is.

First and foremost, Mr. Lewis' work is about funding medical research to find treatments and cures and providing access to treatment for people afflicted with more than 40 debilitating and often terminal neuromuscular diseases.

Second, his work is about materially supporting neuromuscular disease patients as they try to live full and rewarding lives.

These two efforts cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and that work is far from finished.

Disability activists work hard to provide much-needed support to their constituency. Jerry Lewis has given much of his life to working for the prevention and treatment of diseases that lead to disability and premature death. These goals are mutually compatible and reinforcing.

Each side should just get on with its work.

Brinton Cooper

Bel Air

The writer is a neuromuscular disease patient.

Congress is crafting a fine fisheries bill

The reauthorization of Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act approved by the Senate in June is a good piece of legislation. However, I strongly disagree with the author of the column "Protect our oceans from devastating overfishing" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 31) that the companion House bill "almost does more harm than good."

In fact, thanks to a gentlemen's agreement among bill sponsor Rep. Richard W. Pombo, the Eastern Shore's Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest and Rep. H. James Saxton, I believe a final House bill will incorporate a number of good provisions that will help end overfishing, rebuild fisheries, integrate a solid environmental review process and improve the role of science in fishery management.

I am optimistic that the House will pass a good bill this fall.

I also believe that a Senate-House conference committee will act responsibly this fall to iron out the remaining differences between the bills.

And I expect that the final legislation will not only include workable measures to conserve and rebuild our ocean fisheries but also improve their management system and more fairly allocate harvest opportunities between commercial and recreational fishing interests.

Matthew B. Connolly Jr.


The writer is president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of conservation and angling groups working to preserve fish stocks.

The `Alaska model' protects fish stocks

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel argues in her column "Protect our oceans from devastating overfishing" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 31) that the "Alaska model" for marine conservation is working in America's most-fished waters. However, she also condemns the regional fishery management council system that is the centerpiece of Alaska's success.

More than 50 percent of the nation's seafood comes from North Pacific fisheries. Yet there are no overfished stocks of fish in Alaska.

Why not apply this model to the rest of the nation?

The legislation before Congress captures the Alaska model very well by strengthening the role that science plays in fisheries management and requiring strict catch limits.

That is the essence of our success here in Alaska and also of the legislation Ms. Bevan-Dangel opposes.

Dave Benton

Juneau, Alaska

The writer is executive director of the Marine Conservation Alliance.

Time to face facts about war in Iraq

The war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster and now is being justified on the basis of a lie - that it is part of the war against terrorism ("Bush states case for war," Sept. 1).

But lies are no basis for future action; it's time to face the facts.

The fact is that it was entirely foreseeable that the Arab world, and the Muslim world more broadly, would bitterly resent and resist a Western superpower invading an Arab country.

And now, because of the war, our credibility and ability to act throughout the world and especially in the Middle East have been shot.

We should have stuck to the war on terror. By turning aside from that war to invade Iraq, Mr. Bush has become the greatest recruiter of terrorists since the crusades - the veritable mother of all recruiters.

So where do we go from here?

Let us disabuse ourselves of the illusion that our presence in Iraq is part of the war against terrorism.

Let us honestly face the facts, and disengage from Iraq over time as the Iraqis try to assume control over the debacle that has followed our invasion.

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