- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

NEA is more bipartisan than ever

Your Aug. 13 editorial about the National Education Association (NEA) should receive a failing grade ("NEA violates federal, state tax laws").
The Washington Times has fallen victim to an extremist spin machine that cannot make a solid legal case against the NEA in the courts and has resorted to a public smear campaign in the news media. A clear indication that there is no basis for any of the accusations tossed about in the editorial is the fact that the Federal Election Commission has not expanded its investigation into campaign activities to include any scrutiny of the NEA. The editorial severely misrepresents the political positions that those who have devoted their lives to children and public education our nation's teachers have taken. The record must be corrected.
The NEA has never been more bipartisan in its lobbying and campaign efforts. In the last campaign, our state and local affiliates endorsed more Republicans than ever. This is not a surprise considering who our nation's teachers are a perfect reflection of Middle America. They earn an average $40,000 per year, most are women and many are parents. Our members measure candidates based on their positions on issues that affect children and public education, not on party affiliation. For this group, common sense and consensus are the rule, rather than the exception. Their votes are cast in support of candidates with a credible, sensible plan to improve public education, regardless of party affiliation.
One of the NEA's lobbying priorities has been guaranteed full funding for special education. The NEA is proud to join forces with many Republicans and all 50 governors to advocate for including guaranteed full funding for special education in the final education bill currently before Congress. This is just one of many examples of NEA's bipartisan work on behalf of children and public education.
The NEA has a longstanding record of high standards and accountability in all our political action. We strictly adhere to all campaign finance laws. Efforts to besmirch our good name are completely without grounding.

BOB CHASE
President
National Education Association
Washington

Run, reverend, run

All Americans owe the Rev. Al Sharpton a debt of gratitude for announcing that he will explore a presidential bid. He has injected a liberal dose of comedy into these lazy days of summer.
The reverend has never been elected to anything. His only "qualification" for presidential office is that he is well-known as a rabble-rousing race-baiter who rallies to the side of any perceived black cause, no matter how absurd or illegitimate. He sees only white against black racism, and he finds it around every corner.
To this day, he is unapologetic for rallying to the side of Tawana Brawley, whose false accusations of rape ruined the lives of many innocent individuals. He also expresses no regret for fomenting a deadly riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, whipping the masses into an anti-Semitic frenzy after an auto accident.
Mr. Sharpton does not deny that he is a Socialist. He believes that the government should propel the economy and that we should tax, tax, tax especially seeking to confiscate earnings from those with higher incomes.
Mr. Sharpton would receive votes from blacks who consider themselves victims and from far-left Democrats. As a conservative Republican who would relish an internal battle within the Democratic Party, I say heartily, "Run, reverend, run."

OREN M. SPIEGLER
Pittsburgh

Emissions detectors a worse idea than red-light cameras

After reading the many articles and editorials of the past few weeks on the controversial cameras for ticketing speeders and red-light runners, I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the Aug. 19 editorial "End the emissions hassles," which actually suggested using remote sensing devices to sniff the exhaust content of passing vehicles for possible emissions violations.
Hello, have we learned anything?
Remote in-traffic emissions testing would be a nightmare. By comparison, the controversial speeding cameras and red-light cameras would seem relatively benign. Does anyone believe that technology of such precision is available that it could correctly analyze the emissions of a moving vehicle in heavy traffic? And actually be able to pinpoint which vehicle produced it? And snap a picture of the vehicle's license plate?
Picture yourself trying to find someone in the bureaucracy who will listen to your explanation that your new car couldn't possibly be guilty of the emissions readings you received in the mail. Picture yourself sitting in line for half a day, waiting to have your car tested to prove your case. (Picture yourself explaining to the children why you called the emissions agency all those bad names.)
I agree with the writer's denunciation of the emissions stations. The technology used is scarcely credible. When I lived in Maryland, a neighbor once puzzled over what to do with an ancient land yacht that he still liked to drive but whose emissions gear was worn out. The car was due for emissions testing, but he didn't want to make expensive repairs. Instead, he installed a regular exhaust pipe and muffler, without catalytic converter or other pollution gear. It passed easily, which made me wonder what all that exotic-looking equipment is really testing. In fact, it confirmed my long-held suspicion that emissions testing is just a scam, employing many people who run sexy-looking equipment that doesn't really work. Are we to believe that we have technology to assess a moving car's emissions when we can't even assess a stationary car correctly?
No, it simply cannot be. Such emissions detectors would be another moneymaking scam foisted on the gullible public by government officials who are "here to help" us. After all, we swallowed the speed and red-light cameras pretty readily. Why not a new device to lift more money from our wallets?

ELWOOD E. ZIMMERMAN
Potomac Falls, Va.

Despotism, not fundamentalism, greatest threat to Malaysia

The portrait of Malaysia's political situation, as presented by Amy Ridenour in the Aug. 15 Op-Ed column "Turmoil in Malaysia" was an uninformed misrepresentation of Malaysia's current political environment, Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters.
Malaysia's convergence of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures is hardly fertile soil for the development of the fundamentalist Islamic state fabricated by Ms. Ridenour. It is not fundamentalism that poses the greatest threat to Malaysia, but the corrupt and heavy-handed consolidation of power that has characterized Mahathir Mohammed's 20 years as prime minister. Mr. Anwar and his supporters seek to end the cronyism and repression of political opposition that is endemic to the "Malaysian democracy," instilling in its place real democratic values and leadership. In kindling fears of fundamentalism, Ms. Ridenour has overlooked that Mr. Mahathir himself is the greatest threat to democracy in Malaysia.
Ms. Ridenour further compares the Malaysian legal system and that of the United States, dismissing the despotic abuses carried out under Mr. Mahathir. She shrugs off more than 20 arrests since April under the arcane Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial a law unimaginable in the United States. Mr. Mahathir has manipulated the constitution, destroying judiciary checks on his own power and discrediting the Malaysian legal system.
If anyone has been fooled it is Ms. Ridenour. The claims of Malaysia's resemblance to Afghanistan or Iran are inflammatory, and comparisons to the British and American judicial systems are beyond comprehension.

CHRIS HOBBS
Washington


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