A letter from the comptroller general of the United States
I am writing concerning the Jan. 5 article entitled, "The comptroller: Washington's prophet of fiscal doom." While I was accurately quoted by Linda Feldmann, I have two serious concerns about the headline. First, I am the Comptroller General of the United States, and not the Comptroller. These are very different jobs, at different levels, and in different branches of the government. Fortunately, Ms. Feldmann had the correct title in the body of the article.
Second, and more important, I do not believe the headline fairly or accurately reflects the thrust of the article. As the article notes and anyone who knows me will attest, I am an optimist by nature.
Furthermore, I have made a number of specific and constructive suggestions about how to address our large and growing fiscal challenge. In my view, the use of a headline with such a negative tone detracts from the very important message that the article is trying to convey.
If you want to give me a nickname, I would suggest that you use the one given to me by several members of Congress, "a modern day Paul Revere."
David M. Walker
Comptroller general of the United States
I take issue with the Jan. 6 article, "How one forward's power play rewrote hockey's rules," which says that hockey's new rules are a "dream for fans." The numbers show that attendance is up only a meager 1.7 percent. People are not breaking down the doors to see the new NHL. But penalty minutes are up over 10 percent. The game had more flow and excitement when there were fewer penalties, but the tighter officiating has not resulted in that - just more power plays.
While shutouts may be boring, are six goals a game that much more exciting than five? I have seen some 1-0 and 2-1 games that were much more interesting than a 5-2 blowout. The new NHL is not any better than the old - just different.
I was pleased to read your Nov. 2 editorial, "Righting Rangoon," about the deplorable situation in Burma. Burma has been ignored for far too long by international opinion, so it is heartening to read that the Bush administration is now putting pressure on the UN to restore democracy there. It was also interesting to read Todd Pittinsky's Oct. 31 Opinion piece, "Quiet efforts for the common good," on Rosa Parks. There is a parallel between Ms. Parks and Ms. Suu Kyi, who have provided moral leadership of the most courageous kind. I hope the stand taken by Ms. Suu Kyi will bring about the badly needed changes in Burma.
John Hughes's Dec. 7 Opinion piece "Don't jump to conclusions about Iraqi 'good news' reports," chastised President Bush for preaching democracy but undermining it with policies such as paying Iraqi journalists to write stories favorable to US interests. All well and good. But then Mr. Hughes writes: "... I do not understand why some people have difficulty understanding President Bush's vision for the future of the Islamic Arab world."
The difficulty comes from the fact that it is President Bush's vision about which Hughes is writing, and not that of the Islamic world. Democracy cannot be imposed from the outside. If the sentence is rewritten from the perspective of the vision of "the other" (as, Ayatollah Sistani), perhaps Hughes can see why his statement might offend thoughtful people in the Islamic Arab world.
Richard B. Powers
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