- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2000

Virginia governor has used veto power wisely

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III once again has proved himself a believer in good government and fiscal responsibility by having the courage to veto tax increases and absurd spending bills ("Good vetoes, Mr. Gilmore," Editorial, April 12). The governor's veto of a particularly obnoxious housing subsidy for Arlington County government employees was especially admirable.

No one offered me or any other Arlington homeowner $3,000 to move here. Arlington homeowners earned and saved the money to move into a prime metropolitan location. We certainly don't need to create a privileged class of government pen pushers who would be getting taxpayer money to move into an area coveted for its geographical convenience.

The whole scheme smacks of Tammany Hall-style patronage vote buying. Taxpayers already pick up the salaries of public employees, and we certainly don't need to help them pick up the mortgage and in this case augment a voting block favorable to increased government spending all paid for with almost annual tax increases.

At least we have reasonable and responsible government looking out for us in Richmond in the person of Mr. Gilmore. Arlington taxpayers are fortunate to have a good governor.

DENNIS N. MAAS

Arlington

The administration's continued excessive use of force

The Clinton administration's decision to use an Immigration and Naturalization Service team to seize Elian Gonzalez on Easter weekend is another sign of a disjointed policy process that has few scruples about resorting to force as an ultimate option.

It is ironic that this administration, which has been the most litigious in history, the quickest to trumpet "the rule of law" in international forums and to use legal/ bureaucratic proceedings against companies and citizens (tobacco, Smith & Wesson, Filegate, quotas, to name a few) is also the one that has exercised military or force options the most excessively.

This administration hypocritically has chosen frequently to use military or physical force for various flimsy reasons. Waco, Ruby Ridge, Miami, Bosnia, Kosovo and the decision to send missiles into Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq show an increasing willingness to use force liberally. This disturbing trend has sullied the reputation of the United States as a balanced, law-abiding member of the international community.

Strong-arming the citizenry of this or any other country may have short-term policy gains but will yield long-term harm to our national credibility. Irresponsible use of force is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind for our country.

DON STANTON

Alexandria

Post office delivers a sorry message to my son

Yesterday was "Take Your Children to Work" day across the nation. My son left with his father for my husband's work at the post office in Rockville, feeling proud and excited with his questionnaire and sharpened pencil in hand. We thought this would be a valuable lesson for our son to see how hard dad works, what he does and how he earns his paycheck.

For safety and insurance purposes and because the mail needs to be delivered, I was to pick up my son at 9:30 or 10 a.m. This was the standard practice for this special day at the post office where my husband worked in New Jersey before he relocated to Maryland.

The children always were taken on a brief tour, given a donut and sent home or back to school. This was not the case yesterday.

My husband immediately was told that he must take my son home. No apologies or explanations were given. He was told by a supervisor, "We do not participate in that program any longer." No notices had been posted in advance that children were not permitted.

Off to school my son went, disappointed and disillusioned about the working world. What lesson did he learn? He only learned that "I will never work for the post office. They don't treat people with respect."

What a valuable lesson and what a sad commentary from a 9-year-old, though true.

PATRICIA FACCONE

Damascus

If democracy is well in Pakistan, why is the constitution suspended?

In reference to "Activists say military government paves road to reform" (World, April 18) and "Pakistan democracy," (Embassy Row, April 18), it is not correct to equate elections to local bodies with restoration of genuine democracy. The essence of genuine democracy is rule by the constitution and the law. The Pakistan Constitution has been suspended, and the country is ruled by the executive fiat of a military general, Pervez Musharraf, whose word is the constitution and who has asked the judiciary to take a fresh oath of allegiance to him rather than to the constitution . Every military dictator four have straddled the country thus far suspended the constitution and then, to divert attention, promised what he called grass-roots democracy or basic democracy through local bodies. Gen. Musharraf is no exception.

Pakistan may have had spells of bad democracy, but disbanding democracy itself is no substitute for bad democracy.

Corruption is being used by the military government only to paint all politicians black and to discredit democracy itself. When he took over on Oct. 12, Gen. Musharraf promised "across-the-board, vertical and horizontal accountability" of all segments of society, including the military. Within days, however, the general reneged on his promise, excluding the military from the accountability net. The military has been spending more than 70 percent of the nation's budget. Military spending has never been debated in parliament during the past 52 years. One would have hoped that the promise to make the army accountable would have been kept, but unfortunately, that was not to be. There also have been stories of corruption involving functionaries of the present regime, but no action has been taken to stop it.

It also is not correct that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are flocking to join Gen. Musharraf's regime. Pakistan has more than 18,000 NGOs, many of which perform useful public service in human rights, social development, health, education and population welfare. The representatives of the few NGOs that have joined Gen. Musharraf's regime are those that always nursed political ambitions but were never voted into power by the people.

Javed Jabbar, the military government's media adviser, takes pride in saying that the regime is holding a human rights conference, calling it "ironic." It is indeed ironic for a military regime that has altered the oath of judges and made the judiciary, the guarantor of civil rights, subservient to the will of a military ruler, to hold a human rights conference. Unfortunately, the history of Pakistan is replete with such ironies. Seldom before has a chief spokesman of a military regime admitted to such ironies, even though unwittingly.

FARHATULLAH BABAR

Spokesman

Pakistan Peoples' Party

Islamabad, Pakistan

No roaring, please

When I read Wesley Pruden's column about the Senate holding hearings about Attorney General Janet Reno's raid in Miami, coupled with Mr. Pruden's astute insight regarding the Republicans' investigation, "(No giggling, please.)," I roared instead ("Spooked by Castro, Bill Clinton blinks," Pruden on Politics, April 25).

With the mice probing the cats, you can be sure one of two things will occur. The cats will have them for dinner as usual, or maybe they'll be gentler this time and consign the hearings to the Clinton administration "litter box," named appropriately, "received and filed."

AL MARCHESE

Ocean Pines, Md.

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