- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

Firefighting hazards

I could not believe the decision of a federal judge to allow six bearded firefighters and paramedics to return to full duty (“Bearded firemen back to full duty,” Metropolitan, Wednesday). Appendix A to 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.134(Part 1 — OSHA Accepted Fit Protocols, Item 9) states in part that “the test shall not be conducted if there is any hair growth between the skin and the facepiece sealing surface such as stubble beard growth, beard, mustache, or sideburns which cross the respirator sealing surface.”

Requiring firefighters to be cleanshaven should be considered an acceptable condition of employment based on both the effectiveness and limitations of respiratory protective equipment. I empathize with Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson because he is aware of the known or potential results when safety is compromised in a toxic or hazardous environment. This is another rung weakened on the credibility ladder of this city, not to mention another venue for litigation by the next of kin.



Hillary’s connections

Do the Democrats really believe that President Bush should be censured for eavesdropping on al Qaeda, or is this just another ploy by the left to make Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton look more centrist? This is an old leftist trick that only works when you have the liberal press as an accomplice. Sen. Russell Feingold drags the party to the left with his attacks on Mr. Bush, and Mrs. Clinton, without saying a word, looks more moderate and palatable to the voters.

Never mind that her husband, Bill Clinton, our hapless former boy president, is being paid huge sums by Dubai for speeches and also getting donations from the emirate for his library. He is an agent for a foreign government, the same Dubai government that has everyone so concerned, and Mrs. Clinton is the indirect recipient of the cash that will be used to fund her run for the Senate and the White House.

It’s sad, but it appears to be working, and nobody cares.


Helendale, Calif.

Thanks, Mike Miller, for nothing

Once again, the people of Maryland have to pay a big price because of the bad policies of the Democratic Party. The latest and most horrific example is the announced 72 percent energy price increase that will take effect in July (“Candidates in Maryland races focus on rising energy costs, oil reliance,” Metropolitan, Wednesday). Now the people who brought us this deregulation mess are trying their darndest to duck blame.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. was the most vocal supporter of deregulation in the state for several years. He sponsored deregulation legislation in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He told the General Assembly and the people of the state that “prices will go down, no ifs, ands or buts.” He also collected a lot of money from the energy industry while promising he would get it done. Mr. Miller got his wish in 1999. Too bad his predictions were wrong about deregulation. Now we will all pay mightily for his mistake.

Mr. Miller should stop blaming the state’s Public Service Commission for the results of the heavy lifting he did to bring deregulation to Maryland. The PSC is not responsible for the 72 percent price increases. No matter how many contortions Mr. Miller goes into trying to sell us on that fallacy, we cannot forget that he is the one responsible for forcing Marylanders to decide between paying their electric bills and buying prescription medication.

Thanks, Mike. We’ll remember you in November.



Term-limit incentives for Congress

Gary Andres’ column “Furbies, fanny packs and term limits” (Op-Ed, yesterday) says term limits will have unintended consequences. They can’t be any worse than the intended consequences being experienced. Politicians’ only abiding concern is to stay in office. Gerrymandered districts ensure incumbency (which was quite likely even before gerrymandering) and zero consideration for opposing views. That, together with our recent campaign finance law, has polarized our two-party system.

A different mind-set is likely to be adopted when a politician understands that he or she soon will be just another civilian. Because Congress will never impose term limits on itself and the Supreme Court has discouraged individual states from imposing constraints on its politicians, the only possibility (and it is a perfect opportunity to go down in history) is for some billionaire to establish a “retirement incentive system” for the House and the Senate.



‘Turkish democracy is stable’

Frank Gaffney Jr.’s crusade against my government has led, once again, to an article fraught with exaggerations and misrepresentations (“Islamofascist coup?” Commentary, Tuesday).

Turkey’s democratic credentials are immutable. Sustained efforts by successive governments to cement democracy in Turkey have borne fruit. The European Union’s decision in October to commence accession negotiations with Turkey is testament to this. Sixty years after we had our first multiparty elections, the Turkish democracy is stable, robust and vibrant. Contrary to Mr. Gaffney’s assertions, it is not susceptible to fascism or a coup of any sort.

The Turkish people cherish their secular democratic regime and have full confidence in its resilience. It behooves all our friends in Europe and here in the U.S. to show the same confidence.


Turkish Ambassador


Maryland’s immigration woes

What seems to be wrong with Montgomery County’s elected officials and senior public servants (“Weast favors illegal aliens over student safety,” Metropolitan, yesterday)? Why are they more concerned about the welfare of illegal immigrants in Montgomery County than the safety of our citizen children? Here are two recent and disturbing examples:

Montgomery County Board of Education Superintendent Jerry Weast recently recommended that the Board of Education not support a bill before the Maryland House of Delegates that would require contractors working in Maryland public schools to conduct background checks of their employees. The intent of the bill is to protect our children from sex offenders and criminals. Mr. Weast stated that he was concerned the bill might lead to the identification, prosecution and potential deportation of illegal aliens. Better to protect illegals than our children?

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, a taxpayer-subsidized organization that caters to the needs of Hispanic immigrants, including illegal aliens, publicly threatens the children of the Maryland Minutemen, law-abiding volunteer citizens in our state (“Immigrant group to picket watchdogs,” Page 1, Feb. 25). Concerned about the Minutemen taking pictures (a legal activity) of the illegal activities at CASA-run day labor centers, Mr. Torres is quoted as saying of the Minutemen: “We are going to picket their houses and the schools of their kids and go to their work.” Where are our elected officials, who happily spend our tax dollars funding CASA, in publicly condemning these gangster-type threats?

We get only silence from Maryland State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, County Executive Doug Duncan, County Council member Tom Perez and the rest of the Montgomery County Council. Too busy pandering to the illegal immigrants and their supporters? I trust the voting citizens of Maryland will make their voices heard this election year.



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