LETTERS PUBLISHED AND UNPUBLISHED



Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
November 7, 2010

Dear Editor,

Your lead news story "Democrats pin losses on Obama's disconnect" should be an eye opener to the White House policy wonks.  The need for health-care reform is a product of policy analysts and not public outcry. This is not to say it wasn't needed but rather to point out it wasn't demanded. In short the public saw Obama pushing for a product which they didn't ask for in an ugly drawn-out process of sausage-making, instead of jobs, jobs, jobs. This is what the public saw and Obama's problem was that he didn't see what the public saw. And the public saw that he didn't see what they saw.

What may save the Democrats is that the Republicans, in trying to repeal health-care reform and other irrelevant measures, may go through the same process themselves.

William Sanjour
Annapolis, MD  21403


After the Mine Disaster, a Question for the Regulators
THE NEW YORK TIMES
April 16, 2010

To the Editor:

Re “Mine Effort Turns Next to Inquiries” (news article, April 14):

People are asking why, with all the violations, the regulatory authorities did not close the Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 people were killed in an explosion on April 5.

When I was a regulator at the Environmental Protection Agency, from 1972 to 2001, I was asked the same question about facilities we regulated. I suspect the answer I gave would probably apply to mining. I wrote:

“Even if an inspector finds a violation, this only triggers a lengthy complex process with many levels of warning, review, appeal, negotiation, and adjudication before any action is taken (or, more often, avoided).

“Compare this with what happens when you park under a ‘No Parking’ sign. A policeman writes a ticket, and you can either pay the fine or tell it to the judge.

“If the E.P.A. wrote the rules for parking violations, the policeman would first have to determine if there were sufficient legal parking available at a reasonable cost and at a reasonable distance, and would then have to stand by the car and wait until the owner showed up so that he could negotiate a settlement agreement.

“This is what comes of Congress giving the E.P.A. administrator broad discretionary power to write and enforce rules. We would be better off if he were more like a cop.”

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Annapolis, Md., April 14, 2010
 
 

Paulson's Way or the Highway
THE WASHINGTON POST
October 1, 2008

 The Post and other media outlets have published many articles by dozens of economic experts who challenge whether the federal government needs to buy up hundreds of billions of dollars of bad loans and who offer more palatable alternatives. Among them was James K. Galbraith ["A Bailout We Don't Need," op-ed, Sept. 25]. Has there been any serious discussion of these alternatives by any of our political "leaders"? Why is it the Paulson way or the highway?

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington
 
 

Obama
THE WASHINGTON POST
February 25, 2008

Has anyone noticed that while the campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain have been wracked by internal dissension, money problems and abrupt shifts in policy, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has been running smoothly, strongly and consistently?

This tells me a great deal about the relative judgment, organizational skills and political acumen of the three candidates.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington
 
 

I'll Vote for the First Candidate Who....
UNPUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
January 29, 2008

I'll vote for the first candidate who promises to do away with:

a) staggered primaries,
b) the electoral college, and
c) pennies.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington
 
 

Getting Beyond Stalemate to Win a War
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
December 8, 2007

Each of the points made by John Batiste and Pete Hegseth in their jingoistic article urging America to "take up the white mans burden," can be easily debunked but let’s cut to the chase. Afghanistan and Iraq should have taught us that the biggest element inflaming Islamic extremism is the occupation of Muslim lands by non-believers. The Batise and Hegseth crusader solution of sending still more troops for a much longer occupation is like putting out a fire with gasoline. Islamic extremism has to be fought, but with brains not brawn.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

Obama Advocates Talks With Iran
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
October 21, 2007

Your editorial writer (10/21/07) faults Barack Obama for advocating that as president he would meet with the Iranian President "who is a Holocaust denier and an advocate of Israel's destruction."  These are not conditions that have traditionally applied to diplomatic meetings.

Richard Nixon met with Nikita Khushchev who threatened to"bury us."  Indeed every American President has met with the Communist leaders of the Soviet Union and China. Have we forgotten that Communism is dedicated to the destruction of the American way of life if not America itself? Furthermore, unlike Iran, these countries had the capability to destroy us.

Even less consistent with historical precedent is to deny meeting with President Ahmadinejad because he is a Holocaust denier.  We are allied with Turkey even though they deny the genocide of Armenians and we are allied with Japan even though they deny the rape of Nanking and many other wartime atrocities.

The world is a much safer place because our presidents were willing to meet with with heads of state whose views we find abhorrent.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

Senator Lieberman Forgets
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
August 11, 2006

Lest Sen. Lieberman forgets, it was George Bush who withdrew American troops from Afganistan, from the hunt for Osama Bin Ladin, from crushing Al Quaeda and wiping out the terrorists who murdered thousands of Americas and are still plotting to murder Americans, in order to invade Iraq, a country with no record of terrorism against the United States until George Bush invaded it.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

Half Truths About African Effort to Cut Malaria
UNPUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
June 29, 2006

Your June 29 article "Business Joins African Effort to Cut Malaria" contains the half truth: "Fears that uncontrolled outdoor spraying of DDT would contaminate ecosystems led many nations, including the United States, to ban the pesticide."

The half not included is the fact that EPA, in 1972, only banned the crop use of DDT.  Public health uses, such as cited in your article for preventing malaria, were explicitly exempted from the EPA ban.  This point is important because opponents of the ban on crop use of DDT in the United States have frequently and incorrectly cited the EPA ban as contributing to the spread of malaria in Africa.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

Will New Orleans Rise Again?
THE WASHINGTON POST
April 1, 2006

No doubt politicians will bravely talk about how New Orleans will be rebuilt and draw comparisons with rebuilding San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. A more apt comparison might be with Galveston. A prosperous port and business center in the late 19th century, it was devastated by a Category 4 hurricane in 1900. Despite efforts to rebuild the city and encourage investment, Galveston never recovered its previous glory and most businesses and port activity moved inland to Houston. Today Galveston is a minor port and a major tourist attraction, sort of like Venice.

There may be incentive for the politicians to restore New Orleans to its pre-Katrina eminence, but there is far less for businesses. With global warming and rising waters, why would anyone build in a city below sea level, dependent on an increasingly vulnerable system of dikes and pumps? There are plenty of other Gulf ports that would love to expand and take New Orleans's business. And oil companies are always looking for an excuse to close down domestic refineries and import gasoline from their more profitable overseas refineries with even weaker environmental regulation and enforcement than in Louisiana (which has the weakest environmental enforcement in America).

I think the French Quarter will be restored and we will have the Mardi Gras and the great food, and the tourists will still flock there -- just as they do to Galveston and Venice.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington
 
 

Protecting Whistle-Blowers, and the Public Interest
THE NEW YORK TIMES
December 6, 2005

To the Editor:

As a former whistle-blower, I read articles like ''All the President's Flacks,'' by Frank Rich (column, Dec. 4), with trepidation.

Whistle-blowers, who risk their livelihood to expose government or corporate corruption, need and depend on the press to shield them from the harsh retribution of the powerful parties whose corruption they have exposed. And the public is generally more than willing to support such protection.

But when reporters give the same protection to major government figures, who are merely using the press to spin the government's mendacious agenda, they undermine the public's willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to reporters who claim First Amendment rights to protect their sources. As a result, whistle-blower protection is compromised.

But it is not the whistle-blower who needs protection so much as it is the public that needs the protection of the whistle-blower. Reporters who cannot tell the difference between a true whistle-blower and an under-the-table government handout are undermining that protection.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington, Va., Dec. 4, 2005
 
 

Was Mark Felt a Traitor?
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
June 3, 2005

The world can be divided into two groups: those who think Mark Felt was a traitor and those who think he was a hero.  Mark Felt held  high office in an institution, the United States Government.  That institution was founded to protect and promote the interests of the people of the United States.  Frequently institutions are used by persons in a position of authority to promote their own interests to the detriment of the interests for which the institution was founded.  Witness corporation managers lining their pockets at the expense of their stockholders or church officials satisfying their lust by corrupting young church members.

What is a responsible member of an institution to do when he learns of such corruption?  Most people will chose to do nothing, telling themselves it’s not their responsibility.  Others will try to reform the institution from within.  But that can only work when the reformers are in a position of greater authority than the malefactors.  When the corruption comes from the highest levels of an institution, any would be internal reformer runs a great risk of being quashed.  Therefore a responsible member of that institution is faced with the dilemma of either betraying the institution by going public and “blowing the whistle” or betraying the principals for which the institution was founded by doing nothing.

The real traitor is not the whistleblower but the person who would betray his principals.  And anyone who would call such a whistleblower a traitor is himself a traitor, the kind of traitor who would have called Jesus Christ and Martin Luther traitors for blowing the whistle on their institutions.

WILLIAM SANJOUR

STEPHEN M. KOHN

National Whistleblower Center
Washington, DC
 
 

Our Wise Congress
UNPUBLISHED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
April 2, 2005

Now that Congress is in the process of resolving so many important issues such as stem cell research, when life begins and when it should end, school prayer, etc. perhaps we can look forward to their resolving many more vexing problems such as: does the Eucharist represent the literal or figurative body and blood of Christ, should  infants be baptized or only adults, do we have free will or predestination, do statues of the Virgin Mary violate the commandment against graven images, does praying to Saints violate the commandment against having more than one God?  I look forward to our wise Congress finally settling these and many other such questions which have troubled Americans since before the founding of the Republic.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

Ukraine, Iraq and Democracy's Seeds
THE WASHINGTON POST
December 7, 2004

Regarding Charles Krauthammer's Dec. 3 op-ed column, "Why Only in Ukraine?": The difference between democracy in Ukraine and in Iraq is that Ukrainians are demanding democracy by flooding the streets and setting up a tent city in the middle of Kiev. Nothing in Iraq compares.

Europe is not leading the democracy movement in Ukraine; it is following it. The United States is not following a democracy movement in Iraq -- it is trying to create one.

I don't doubt that the United States can hold a "free election" in Iraq. I doubt that the elections will have the "effect of establishing a democracy in the Middle East."

Democracy and independence have to come from the will of the people, as is happening in Ukraine, as happened here in 1776 and as is certainly not happening in Iraq.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington
 
 

Weopons of Mass Confusion
UNPUBLISHED BY THE WASHINGTON POST
March 11, 2003

I continue to be confounded by the logic of your editorial writers. First, they are convinced with absolute certainty that Saddam Hussein harbors secret weapons of mass destruction and yet are incapable of producing any evidence of it. Your own news pages have debunked reports of such "evidence" yet your editorial writers seem to think that frequent repetition of the charge is a substitute for evidence. Secondly, Hussein must know that any attempt to use such weapons would instantly lead to the destruction of his regime, and even finding such hidden weapons could have the same effect. What use then, could they possibly be to him?

No evidence of any weapons and no motive for possessing them, and yet you are urging war to defend the UN's honor even if it's against the wishes of the UN.

WILLIAM SANJOUR
 
 

A Search for Truth, or a Partisan Inquisition?; Civil Service Escapades
THE NEW YORK TIMES
February 22, 1998

To the Editor:

Re ''Intern's Father Criticizes Starr Over Inquiry'' (news article, Feb. 20): If a middle-aged male executive in the Civil Service, say, a GS-15, were accused of using his office for sexual liaisons with willing junior female staff members, on Government time, the charges would be investigated and if confirmed, he would be fired. If he advanced the careers of those women, he could face criminal charges.

Americans would agree that the charges needed to be investigated and, if necessary, punished. Why does the public hold the President to a lesser standard?

WILLIAM SANJOUR
Arlington, Va., Feb. 20, 1998