Letters To The Editor


March 31, 2003

Working with Sen. Moynihan was a privilege

I am writing in response to the article on the passing of Daniel Patrick Moynihan ("Former Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, 76, dies," March 27).

In the spring of 1990, I was hired to serve on Senator Moynihan's staff as assistant to his chief of staff, Paul Brown. During the interview process, Mr. Brown told me not to be intimidated when I first met the senator because 1) he is smarter than all of us, and 2) being from Baltimore and not having a Harvard degree (mine was from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland), my chances of being hired were slim to none. Well, I was hired and couldn't contain myself to know that I was working for one of the greatest senators, who was on the forefront of international issues.

I worked many long hours with him, being placed in his outer sanctum, alongside his chief of staff and executive secretary. Somehow I always got the Saturday shift when Mr. Moynihan needed someone to work with him while he did his writing on an antique typewriter. I didn't mind working Saturdays because often it was just him and me. What an education I received from working with him that money could not buy!

One Saturday in November 1990, when it was just Mr. Moynihan, his legislative assistant on foreign relations, and me in his office, the phone rang. I picked it up and a man asked to speak to "Pat" about his thoughts on whether the United States should continue economic sanctions against Iraq. As was appropriate, I asked, "Who can I tell the senator is calling?" The man said, "My name is George." And of course, I had to ask, "George who?" Well, George was the 41st president of the United States.

I may have just been a girl from Baltimore, with no Harvard degree and with a slim chance of being hired, but what an honor and privilege it was to work with Senator Moynihan.

Ingrid V. Mitchem

Washington, D.C.

Sign's message is lost on thief

Someone took the sign from my lawn. The sign said, "War is Not the Answer."

My sign didn't say, "I Love Saddam," because I don't. It didn't say, "I Don't Support our Troops," because I do. It didn't say, "Dictators and Weapons of Mass Destruction are Great," because they are not.

My sign expressed my belief, which is shared by many, that war represents a failure of imagination. It said that war and violence need not be a never-ending cycle, and that we can and must develop and apply alternative methods of conflict resolution. My sign expressed my belief that war is no more an inevitable element of the human condition than slavery or cannibalism were once thought to be. My sign expressed the belief that mankind can change, grow and progress.

It will take a nation of unparalleled strength, resolve, patience, intelligence and faith to begin this historic change. I believe that the United States can be that nation, and that now can be that historic time.

War is not the answer.

We can do better.

Mac Nachlas


The truth: Bush took the right steps

Jules Witcover is right in his column "Truth is first casualty," (Opinion * Commentary, March 26).

He accused President Bush of "nose-thumbing derogation of the international body," referring, of course, to the United Nations. Seems to me this actually applies to President Clinton when he didn't regard the United Nations as worth any serious diplomatic effort before he intervened in the Balkans. Conversely, President Bush personally initiated a six-month diplomatic attempt to push the United Nations toward relevance by standing behind its own resolutions. As we now know, this was doomed from the beginning by the duplicity of the French and others who took cover behind their leadership. Peace was not their agenda; their real purpose was protecting their economic interests, covering their violation of U.N. sanctions, and checking U.S. power. Certainly, building credibility for the U.N. was not on their radar scope.

There are times when you do what is right, regardless of how many oppose your position - especially when their approach has been historically discredited without exception.

W. D. Sauerwein


Blocking `Exile' is blockheaded move

Let's see if I've got this straight. I read that state Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, was blocking passage of Project Exile legislation, a proven deterrent to gun violence, because the bill didn't contain a panoply of other gun control measures that have been proven not to work ("Committee leader stalls firearms bills," March 28).

Is he afraid Project Exile will show up all the ineffective and burdensome gun legislation of the past? Now who is siding with the criminals?

Phillip W. Worrall


Medical marijuana opponents misguided

It is sad to see White House drug czar John P. Walters continuing to spread misinformation about medical marijuana ("National drug czar, Cummings against marijuana bill," March 25). It is even sadder to see local representatives such as Rep. Elijah E. Cummings being taken in by Mr. Walters' deceptions.

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