Correspondence

From the Executive Editor

How is it, constitutional lawyer Simon Lazarus wonders in this month's Prospect, that while everybody watches the Supreme Court's every move on abortion rights, nearly everybody seems to be missing the Court's war on workers, consumers, people who breathe air, and the state and federal laws that protect them? The Court's ultra-activist right-wing majority (when Anthony Kennedy chooses to join it) invokes federal sovereignty to overturn state statutes, and states' rights to overturn federal laws, all to the advantage of business—America's rightful sovereign.

And how is it that Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who swore in their confirmation hearings to be respectful of precedent and mindful of discrimination, have authored or joined decisions that stood the 1954 Brown ruling on its head and made it all but impossible for women to sue for pay discrimination on the job? In this issue, Sen. Edward Kennedy argues for changing Supreme Court confirmation hearings so that nominees would be compelled to state how they would rule on specific (past) cases and otherwise clarify, rather than obfuscate, what they really believe. Now is the time, Kennedy writes, for a bipartisan agreement on changing the rules of the confirmation game.

In other articles, Dana Goldstein looks at one town's efforts to close its children's racial achievement gap, I look at the Democratic presidential contest, and Tom Schaller looks at Republican moderates' political infrastructure and finds there's not much there.

—Harold Meyerson

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Abolish the Air Force?!

Robert Farley suggests ["Abolish the Air Force," November 2007] that the burning question of roles and missions of the armed services can be solved by the simple answer of abolishing the independent Air Force. In treating the roles-and-missions symptom, however, Farley would let the patient die of its disease. The independent Air Force does not exist to win wars alone. Rather, the organizationally separate Air Force was built to ensure that: friendly ground forces do not come under air attack; air, space, and cyberspace capabilities are used as effectively as possible in the joint fight; enemies of the United States can feel the sting of its military power no matter where they are globally; and, those enemies are forced to fight in ways that cannot achieve decisive military success.

No one service is optimized to win wars independently; that's why each unique service perspective is integrated into a joint vision for success.

Dr. James D. Kiras
Associate Professor
USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies
Maxwell AFB, AL

Robert Farley argues for an Army-centric U.S. military just as Americans have rediscovered their distaste for open-ended ground wars. Farley wants the Army to take over most of the Air Force, with the remainder going to the Navy, largely because the Air Force hasn't supported the Army adequately in places like Iraq. [But] given America's budding aversion to Iraq-like ventures, future conflicts may look more like the air-centric campaigns in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Desert Storm, Libya, or even the Linebacker operations that set the stage for American withdrawal from Vietnam. These have all been lopsided affairs since America's most powerful rivals are unwilling to militarily challenge a U.S. that dominates the sky. Farley warns that organizations push for action that justifies their existence, and so the Air Force pushes air-centric solutions. Perhaps, but what sort of action then will a much larger Army push for, and isn't it a good thing to have an independent Air Force balancing that perspective?

Ian Bryan, Major, Ang
USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies
Maxwell AFB, AL

Who's an Investor?

It is almost absurd to maintain, as does Robert Reich ["Who's To Blame for the Brave New Economy," November 2007], that the American working/middle class was democratically empowered from 1945 to 1975, lost that clout, then gained consumer power in lieu of democracy. The fact that U.S. corporations discovered that they could both lower prices and increase profits by exploiting Third World workers was not driven by consumers, and moreover has actually resulted in exported jobs and lower wages. Reich also disingenuously conflates consumers and the investing class. A few dollars in a 401(k) plan hardly make for a feared investor.

Jim Grattan
Atlanta, GA

Malpractice

Dr. Jerry Avorn's excellent review of three books addressing the crisis in American health care [" Shift Happens," November 2007] omits malpractice insurance as a factor in the cost and availability of health care. A striking example is obstetrical practice, a frequent target for litigation by parents expecting perfect babies, which so increased malpractice insurance for obstetricians that some abandoned this specialty for another. Some towns in rural Maryland have been unable to lure obstetricians because their incomes there would fail to pay the high cost of malpractice insurance.

Helen T. Santiago, Ph.D
Media, PA

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@prospect.org or mailed to The Editors, The American Prospect, 2000 L St., NW, Suite 717, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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