- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

Bush vs. Daschle: the war of words

Sen. Tom Daschle's rhetorical explosion and his demand of an apology from President Bush for allegedly insulting the Senate is a perfect example of unnecessary semantic confusion ("Democrats battle over war politics," Page 1, Thursday).

It began with a linguistic error when Mr. Bush, speaking of the homeland security bill, said: "The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." His obvious intention was to comment on the priorities of the Senate, not to say that it was devoid of patriotism. But if he were more aware of parallel structure in phrasing his sentences, he would have said "the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington than it is in the security of the American people."

Politicians ought to be clear communicators, yet in their adversarial haste, they often ignore or exploit the confusions created by linguistic errors, not to mention principles of good communication. This can be entertaining, but also dangerous when dealing with life-and-death issues such as war and homeland security.


Waynesboro, Va.

Sen. Tom Daschle finally spoke what many of us have been thinking, and now is being attacked for it by the White House. Why can't one question the president without being accused of "name-calling" and "politicizing the debate"?

It seems as if Mr. Bush started the name calling in his last instance of executive excess, and I am glad that Mr. Daschle responded strongly.

This administration has taken on a bullying tone, and I hope that our elected officials will be strong enough to stand up to the executive branch in preserving the precious balance of power.



Blood and Gore

I'm still shaking my head an hour after reading the article describing former Vice President Al Gore's criticism of the Bush administration for allegedly ignoring warnings in advance of the events of last September ("Gore accuses White House of ignoring 9/11 warnings," Page 1, yesterday). How can he or anyone else condemn the concept of pre-emptive action against Iraq in one breath and complain about a lack of action before September 11 in the next?

The very people who are slowing down the effort to neutralize known threats in Iraq will be the ones who scream the loudest about why more wasn't done sooner to prevent the next terrorist tragedy that strikes our country.

Based on the information on Saddam Hussein available in the public domain ignoring how much more information a past vice president or current congressman must have it is impossible for me to understand the rationale of these "leaders" who oppose pre-emptive actions. It doesn't make any sense to criticize a proactive administration for ignoring past warnings and at the same time advocate a "wait and see" position with a proven threat to our national security.

After learning the hard way what can happen to us at home, doesn't it make sense to adjust our perspective, shift our strategy and focus our efforts on preventive measures?

It should be obvious to any clear thinker that business as usual just won't get the job done. Do we want to take care of business on our own terms, or just sit around and wait for someone else to set the terms? Neither approach to protecting our people is without risk, but I've always understood that freedom comes with a price.


Greenwell Springs, La.

Big bad bill

I read with great interest the recent editorial regarding Senate Bill 1602 ("Corzine-Jeffords vs. homeland security," Sept. 16), which essentially would place our homeland security at the whims of the Environmental Protection Agency.

This bill will jack up costs in particular for small agricultural and business operations in rural areas, and for no good reason. There are already more than adequate regulatory safeguards in place for chlorine and other chemicals.

The Green movement has been hijacked by extremists who have a virtual lock on the voting buttons of such Senate leftists as Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, and James M. Jeffords, Vermont independent. The bill's objective appears to be more anti-business and reflexively anti-American security than pro-environment.

It's time people stood up and took a serious look at what goes into these bills and how they and the politicians who write them affect us all in such a serious time.



American Land Rights Association


Athletic celebrities' criminal perquisite

So Minnesota Vikings star receiver Randy Moss walked out of court Wednesday whistling after his latest rub with the law ("Charged with two misdemeanors, Moss will play," Sports, Thursday). It seems that if a star athlete tries to run over a law enforcement official and is found with trace amounts of marijuana in his car, no less it is deemed a misdemeanor, whereas if an unknown like this writer were to pull such a stunt, it would mean big trouble.

Apparently, courts have lighter sentencing in mind when it comes to celebrity athletes. This hardly sends the proper message to our youth, who may not realize that celebrityhood often wins favors in the legal realm. The danger is that our youth may see such criminal acts as minor things because punishment is minor or absent.

Isn't it time we threw the book at these bums?


Clifton, Va.

An easy fix for Virginia's budgetary crisis

The article, "Warner says agencies face 'painful choices'" (Metropolitan, Thursday), compels thoughtful solutions to Virginia's budgetary crisis. One across-the-board solution would be to eliminate the state's payment of the employee contribution to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).

A number of years ago, the state began contributing 5 percent of gross annual employee pay to VRS, which had previously been paid by individual employees through payroll deduction. Currently, the state pays the 5 percent employee share as well as a matching contribution from the state. In other words, the state ought to consider issuing a return to employees paying 5 percent directly into the state's public employee retirement system.

In effect, such a scenario would save Virginia 5 percent of the total state payroll. That's millions of saved dollars. Such a reduction would have an equally proportionate financial impact, from the highest to lowest paid employee. Those employees nearing regular retirement would not see their gross annual pay drop and, therefore, their pensions would not decease. (VRS pensions are based on the three highest-paid years of employment, which are generally the last three years.)

Although no one likes major budget cuts, in this scenario at least, substantially fewer state employees would be laid off. When the state's financial picture improves, then this benefit to state employees could be reinstated.

Have Gov. Mark R. Warner and/or local state legislators considered the idea? If not, why not?


Lynchburg, Va.

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