All this president bashing has a purpose, and a history

Regarding Brendan O'Neill's March 2 Opinion piece "Bush-bashing: international sport?": From Britain, Mr. O'Neill sees all the Bush-bashing on this side of the Atlantic as childish and potentially counterproductive for Democrats. As one of the "bashers," I suggest that Mr. O'Neill needs to come take a closer look. Does he expect Michael Moore to offer a vision for America? That's not his job. Kerry, Edwards, et al. are doing a fine job of that. The rest of us are also doing our job, relentlessly documenting the failures of the Bush administration.
Philip Tate
Freeville, N.Y.

President Bush is in good company. The last US president to be bashed this much was Ronald Reagan, for calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire." The naysayers were wringing their hands and lamenting the strong language. Winston Churchill's warnings were largely ignored prior to World War II. Strong, decisive action is always subject to the moaning and groaning of the appeasers among us.
Al Thomas
Blackfoot, Idaho

Aristide had much to overcome

Regarding your March 1 editorial "Who Failed Haiti, Who Builds It?": It's commonplace to lambaste Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but understand that more than 190 years of mayhem, murder, chaos, and corruption could not be undone in 10 years, the amount of time Aristide and his party spent in office. Why shouldn't Aristide fill government positions with loyalists? President Bush and his predecessors did. After all, Aristide dealt with assassination attempts after taking office.
Pierre Antoine Louis
Parkland, Fla.

Amtrak's future rests on reform

Regarding your Feb. 26 editorial "More All Aboard!": The Passenger Rail Investment Reform Act (PRIRA) introduced by the Bush administration presents a modern vision for a new national rail policy that will meet the needs of passengers and create a truly national system of intercity passenger rail.

We believe that any attempt to improve the passenger-rail system in place today must include meaningful reforms. That's why our proposal outlines specific measures to fix the current system by restructuring decisionmaking roles, rules, and responsibilities, while providing the public financial assistance for intercity passenger rail.

Under the president's proposal, the responsibility for intercity passenger rail would rest primarily with states, with input and capital-funding support from the federal government. States that choose to invest more in service to alleviate highway or airport congestion, would receive more service.

Amtrak's incremental managerial and financial improvements are simply not enough to create a more sustainable future for passenger rail. The issue confronting policymakers is not just determining an appropriate funding level for Amtrak. Rather, it is a matter of profound choice, acceptance of an unsustainable status quo versus willingness to undertake much-needed institutional reforms.
Allan Rutter
Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration

Baghdad is not 'Philadelphia' yet

Your March 2 editorial "Philadelphia in Baghdad" was much too optimistic. While today's events do mark a certain achievement, it is far too soon to regale the effort as a lasting change that will "rock the Arab world." I find this optimism counterproductive to the ongoing discussion of the challenges Iraq faces, economically, politically, and socially.
Jay Schneider
Palm Springs, Calif.

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