- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

Bush 'salty aside' telling; Gore rebuke hypocritica

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First, President Clinton treated his marriage vows as if they had been written in disappearing ink, turned the Oval Office into a Motel 6, lied to the American people and got himself impeached. Then Vice President Al Gore stood there and said he believed history would record Mr. Clinton as one of America's greatest presidents.

Isn't it ridiculous for Mr. Gore to complain about an off-color, although possibly true, remark about a New York Times reporter from Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush? ("Bush draws rebuke from Gore for a salty aside," Sept. 5)

ROXANNA ELLINGTON

Mariposa, Calif.

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Where was the righteous indignation of the news media and the Democratic Party when comedian Robin Williams spoke vulgarities loudly and proudly at a Democratic fund-raiser earlier this year?

Mr. Williams used much cruder language in his comedic speech than Texas Gov. George W. Bush did in describing a New York Times reporter. Mr. Williams even acknowledged a child in his audience; he pointed this out to the delirious crowd with a comment that the little one was learning some new words.

This is typical hypocrisy.

DEB FERRELL-LYNN

Edmond, Okla.

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George W. Bush's vulgarity expressed on an open mike toward New York Times journalist Adam Clymer was a bush-league remark unbecoming of a presidential candidate hoping to become the leader of the free world.

Mr. Bush's error probably tells more about the real man than any of his policy proposals. If he cannot take criticism and handle pressure, he doesn't belong in major-league politics.

One has to wonder what Mr. Bush thinks privately of the countless voters who oppose his stands on the issues. On Nov. 7, I hope the voters of America send rookie George W. Bush back to Texas for more seasoning.

More and more each day, he is showing he is less than a serious candidate, not ready to govern at the national level.

PAUL L. WHITELEY SR.

Louisville, Ky.

Media fails to pick up Bush plan specifics

Regarding the Sept. 6 letters to the editor titled "Bush needs to prove he has the right stuff," David Roach and Paul L. Whiteley Sr. call for presidential candidate George W. Bush to put forth the specifics of his tax proposals, and both criticize him for his failure to communicate with the public. Unfortunately, the Texas governor can put forth all the specifics he wants, but if the media do not disseminate that information, few Americans will know that he has, in fact, a well-thought-out plan and can prove it is affordable.

Most Americans seem to want to make up their minds the easy way from sound bites that fit into the time constraints of a morning news show, and not through any in-depth analysis of the plans.

The same goes for the debates, which, in actuality, are not debates at all. Candidates are expected to fit plans for and solutions to extremely complex issues into two- or three-minute time frames. At the same time, candidates are expected to contradict the proposals of their opponent. In the end, victory goes to the candidate who ends up less flustered or produces the most memorable zinger.

For Mr. Roach and Mr. Whiteley, who want the specifics of Mr. Bush's plan, I suggest they go to the Web site of the National Taxpayers Union, which has done an in-depth and generally unbiased analysis of the specifics of both the Bush and Gore plans. The address is www.ntu.org/2000Elec/ntufib127.html.

While it certainly is easier to call Vice President Al Gore's plan more compassionate by virtue of the sheer amount of money he proposes to spend, I think this analysis also shows that his plan is simply another example of promising too much to too many.

G. TREVOR VIETOR

Bethesda

Stossel on target; organic association using scare tactics

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook's letter protesting John Stossel's expose' of organic food on ABC's newsmagazine "20/20" and criticizing Doug Bandow's Aug. 18 column supporting Mr. Stossel is part of the organic industry's frantic effort to make us forget the truth revealed on the program ("Stossel organic expose based on unsubstantiated premise," Sept. 1).

Katherine DiMatteo, head of the Organic Trade Association, admitted to Mr. Stossel that organic food has no nutritional advantages and that "food safety is not what organic food is about." (The British organic industry admitted the same realities to a British government hearing in 1999.)

Mr. Cook decries the "unsubstantiated premise" that organic food can kill you. But Mr. Stossel interviewed the mother of a Connecticut girl who almost died from organic lettuce contaminated with the deadly bacteria E. coli 0157. The major reservoir of 0157 is cattle manure, which too many organic farmers use to fertilize food crops.

Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1997 that we must stop using manure on food crops because of the bacterial danger, especially from 0157. Mainstream farmers prefer to use safer chemical fertilizer on foodstuffs.

Mr. Cook then leaps to unsubstantiated scaremongering, saying that "many different types of foods are contaminated with levels of pesticides that are unsafe for infants and children under the age of 5 years old." This is based on Mr. Cook's own "toxicity index," not science.

The Food and Drug Administration's annual survey shows that Americans get less than 1 percent of the Acceptable Daily Intake of pesticides a standard set with children very much in mind and with thousands of safety factors built in.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables cuts our total cancer risk in half. Mr. Cook and his organic farmers have been trying to make us fear affordable produce critical to our good health.

Forced finally to admit the truth on camera, they want to smash the camera.

DENNIS AVERY

Director of global food issues

Hudson Institute

Washington

FEMA mistakes mischaracterized?

The Sept. 5 article "Hill misled on disaster recovery costs, GAO says" erroneously maintains that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has "misinformed Congress" about disaster recovery costs and "misallocated hundreds of millions of dollars appropriated by Congress." Let me be clear: The General Accounting Office (GAO) report he references never said that, and it simply is not true.

As director of FEMA, I have prided myself on an honest and bipartisan relationship with the Congress, a relationship that has been crucial to our success as an agency. I believe Congress understands that any discrepancies in our accounting were the result of problems with the system, not a deliberate attempt to mislead as your article states.

The matter in question has to do with FEMA's method of estimating funding needs for disaster costs, an issue of concern to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which requested the report. In fact, we have found some problems with our cost-tracking methods and now have a new database system that allows us to develop better estimates.

The GAO did question data used to compute remaining costs for past disasters and said improvements are needed in estimating the cost of future disasters. The GAO never said the agency misinformed Congress and misallocated hundreds of millions of dollars. Nor did the report make any mention of FEMA's having "chronic financial management problems." On the contrary, FEMA consistently has received unqualified audit opinions from its public accounting firm on its annual agencywide financial statements.

In conducting this audit, the GAO undertook a very useful, difficult and complex task. The process used to compile Disaster Relief Fund financial data for forecasting budget requirements and projected fund balances involves many organizations within FEMA as well as our state and local partners. We acknowledge that improvements can be made and have taken the necessary steps to improve and streamline the data collection and reporting process, which we believe will lead to more timely and accurate cost projections.

It is unfortunate that your headline mischaracterized the GAO's findings, thereby seriously misleading your readers.

JAMES L. WITT

Director

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Washington

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