2005-07-02

Religious freedom compromised at Air Force Academy, cadets say

 
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Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Lt. Gen. Roger Brady talks about his investigation into the religious climate at the Air Force Academy on June 22.
By Matthew E. Berger
WASHINGTON, June 22 (JTA) — Jewish cadets at the Air Force Academy feel pressure to choose their military duties over their religion, and believe the school is insensitive to their needs because of an overtly Christian atmosphere, a report said.

The comments, taken from focus groups last month and included as part of a report released by the military on the religious climate at the Colorado Springs, Colo., campus, suggest that some Jewish students are uncomfortable at the academy because of what they see as an evangelical Christian culture.

The Jewish students interviewed for the report also said the burden is squarely on them to seek out religious accommodations, and that the procedures to do so are often cumbersome.

"Freedom of religion does not exist if you are not a Christian," one Jewish cadet said, according to the report.

The report was released Wednesday after numerous complaints of religious intolerance and proselytizing at the school. The debate has also moved to the halls of Congress, where Democratic lawmakers have faced strong opposition to attempts to seek reform at the academy.

The report was welcomed by Reps. Steven Israel (D-N.Y.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.), who have complained in recent weeks about religious intolerance at the school. But the lawmakers said they remain concerned the Air Force is not doing enough on the issue.

"We need performance standards, we need benchmarks, we need accountability," Israel said at a news conference.

The report's author, Lt. Gen. Robert Brady, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for personnel, acknowledged the perception of religious intolerance on campus, but suggested it came more from a lack of awareness of appropriate expressions of faith and inadequate training than overt religious discrimination or anti-Semitism.

"I think there were cases where people have said some things, perhaps from a lectern, that were overreaching, forgetting their position, that put cadets, perhaps, in an untenable position in terms of, 'Gee, am I going to pass Physics 101 if I don't agree with this guy?' " Brady said.

Brady also said he believed the situation has improved in recent years.

The report maps nine recommendations for change, including training for faculty and staff and increased access to kosher meals. All of the recommendations were accepted by Michael Dominguez, the acting secretary of the Air Force.

"We need to understand better the role of religion and culture more broadly on the way people think and act and make decisions," Brady said. "That's important for us in a diverse force."

In addition, a new position, vice superintendent of the academy, was created. Maj. Gen. Irving Halter Jr. is charged with improving religious tolerance at the school.

For its part, the Anti-Defamation League called the report encouraging, particularly the recommendations for reform.

"If implemented effectively, such programs could provide a model for the entire U.S. military," the group said in a statement.

Few of the reported incidents directly involved Jews. The academy's football coach reportedly placed a "Team Jesus" banner in the locker room last year, and advertisements for the movie "The Passion of the Christ" were circulated around campus.

Cadets also complained about the term "Heathen Flight," used as slang to describe the march back to dorms with other cadets who did not attend worship services.

The Jewish cadets, who were interviewed separately from Christians and other religious minorities, expressed overall positive views on the academy, but acknowledged problems with other cadets, faculty, some leadership officials and several coaches.

They complained of prayers before mandatory events and an e-mail, sent by Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, the school's commandant of cadets, promoting National Prayer Day in 2003.

A separate report concluded Weida's message "did not violate any public standard."

They also detailed what was deemed a "cumbersome pass procedure" to attend religious services, and suggested it was accompanied by pressure from cadet leadership to make "the right choice" and choose participation in academy activities over religious events.

Dining facilities were deemed inadequate for kosher dietary needs by the Jewish cadets. One cadet, who kept kosher, was given a refrigerator in his room because the dining hall was insufficient.

Faculty members also acknowledged that some of the academy's leadership is "extraordinarily aggressive" in their expressions of faith, and hinted at a climate in which religious people promote and hire other devout people.

The Jewish cadets also said they believed Lt. Gen. John Rosa, the academy's superintendent, was making a sincere effort to improve the school. Rosa is expected to leave soon to become president of The Citadel.

Israel and other Democratic lawmakers have tried to seek reforms through congressional action, but have faced strong opposition from Republicans.

On Monday, Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) said Democrats were "denigrating and demonizing Christians" for seeking an amendment on the issue. Hostettler later withdrew his remarks.

Capt. MeLinda Morton, a Lutheran chaplain at the academy, resigned from the military this week. Morton's attorney told The New York Times that she believed it would be difficult to continue at the school because of her outspokenness on the issue.

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Jewish World Review
Jewish World Review June 23, 2005/ 16 Sivan, 5765

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | If you still have any doubts about whether closing Guantanamo is the right thing to do, Jimmy Carter recently cleared that up by demanding that it be closed. With any luck, he'll try to effect another one of those daring "rescue" attempts. Here's a foolproof method for keeping America safe: Always do the exact 180-degree opposite of whatever Jimmy Carter says as quickly as possible. (Instead of Guantanamo, how about we close down the Carter Center?)

Sen. Dick Durbin says it is reminiscent of the "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others." (He then offered the typical Democrat "if/then" non-apology: i.e., "if my remarks offended anyone," based on the rather remote possibility any sentient, English-speaking adult who didn't hate America could have heard them and not been offended.)

Amnesty International calls Guantanamo a "gulag." Sen. Teddy Kennedy says he cannot condone allegations of near-drowning "as a human being." And Sen. Patrick Leahy calls it "an international embarrassment," as opposed to himself, a "national embarrassment."

On the bright side, at least liberals have finally found a group of people in Cuba whom they think deserve to be rescued.

In the interests of helping my country, I have devised a compact set of torture guidelines for Guantanamo.

It's not torture if:

  • The same acts performed on a live stage have been favorably reviewed by Frank Rich of The New York Times;

  • Andrew Sullivan has ever solicited it from total strangers on the Internet;

  • You can pay someone in New York to do it to you;

  • Karen Finley ever got a federal grant to do it;

  • It's comparable to the treatment U.S. troops received in basic training;

  • It's no worse than the way airlines treat little girls in pigtails flying to see Grandma.

It turns out that the most unpleasant aspect of life at Guantanamo for the detainees came with the move out of the temporary "Camp X-Ray." Apparently, wanton homosexual sex among the inmates is more difficult in their newer, more commodious quarters. (Suspiciously, detainees retailing outlandish tales of abuse to the ACLU often include the claim that they were subjected to prolonged rectal exams.) Plus, I hear the views of the Caribbean aren't quite as good from their new suites.

Even the tales of "torture" being pawned off by the detainees on credulous American journalists are pretty lame.

The Washington Post reported that a detainee at Guantanamo says he was "threatened with sexual abuse." (Bonus "Not Torture" rule: If it is similar to the way interns were treated in the Clinton White House.)

"Sign or you will be tortured!"

"What's the torture?"

"We will merely threaten you with horrible things!"

"That's it?"

"Shut up and do as we say, or we'll issue empty, laughable threats guaranteed to amuse you. This is your last warning."


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One detainee in Afghanistan told a hyperventilating reporter for Salon that he was forced to stand with his arms in the air for "hours." Doctor, I still have nightmares about the time I was forced to stand with my arms up in the air ...

Others claimed they were forced into uncomfortable, unnatural positions, sort of like the Democrats' position on abortion. Next, the interrogators will be threatening to slightly undercook the Lemon Chicken!

According to Time magazine, this is how the "gulag of our time" treats the inmates: "The best-behaved detainees are held in Camp 4, a medium-security, communal-living environment with as many as 10 beds in a room; prisoners can play soccer or volleyball outside up to nine hours a day, eat meals together and read Agatha Christie mysteries in Arabic."

So they're not exactly raping the detainees with dogs at Guantanamo. (I still think the gift shop T-shirts that said "My dad went to Guantanamo and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" goes too far.)

The only question is: Why do Democrats take such relish in slandering their country? If someone was constantly telling vicious lies about you, would you believe they supported and loved you?

"I love John Doe, and that's why I accuse him of committing serial rape and mass murder. Oh, he doesn't do that? Yes, but how dare you say I don't love John Doe!"

And now back to our regular programming on Air America ...

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Is embarrassment the right lever to use?

Jewish World Review
Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765

George Will

George Will


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It is enough to give any observer of American politics intellectual vertigo. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings heads a department that, 10 years ago, many Republicans vowed to abolish in order to limit federal intrusion into a state responsibility. Yet George W. Bush's administration has increased the department's budget by 40 percent — more than the defense budget. Had Sept. 11 not happened, Bush's administration might be defined primarily by its education policy, particularly the No Child Left Behind Act. But the nation's reddest state, Utah, where Bush won 72 percent of the 2004 vote, is sounding like South Carolina in 1860: Were there a Fort Sumter nearby, Utah would shell it. Utah has opened fire on a federal target — Spellings — to protest NCLB.


Nevertheless, she is serene, and not because the 3,341 artillery rounds fired at Fort Sumter killed only a horse. A sassy Texan — she can say "We're all good federalists" with a straight face — Spellings sometimes seems to be spoiling for a fight. She says the lack of serenity in Utah, and some other states, stems from the fact that NCLB is doing what it is supposed to do: reveal embarrassing facts.


To build accountability on a firm foundation of data, the act requires states to measure, with recurring tests, progress toward the "proficiency" of all students by 2014. It also requires states — Spellings says this is Utah's grievance — to disaggregate their data to reveal the progress of subgroups, including minority and low-income students, those learning English, and special-education students. This is to prevent states from reporting a general progress that masks certain groups being left behind.


One test shows Utah's Hispanics three years behind whites in the same grades. Hispanic fourth-graders in Utah have worse reading skills than their Hispanic counterparts in all but two states and the District of Columbia.


Connecticut, another state strenuously protesting aspects of the act's implementation, has the nation's highest per capita income — and large pockets of urban problems. In 2003 Connecticut's African American fourth-graders scored 37 points lower than whites in reading and 33 points lower in math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the "nation's report card" by which states' progress is measured under NCLB. Connecticut's 2003-04 Mastery Test showed a significant disparity between white eighth-graders, who were proficient or advanced in reading and math, and Hispanic and African American eighth-graders.

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The theory propounded by its supporters is that by identifying lagging groups and failing schools, the law will agitate business communities concerned about the quality of local workforces and will embarrass governments and parents. Until 2014, when NCLB requires universal "proficiency."


Of course it might as well require lobsters to grow on elm trees. In 1994 Congress, with "Goals 2000," decreed that by 2000 America's high school graduation rate would be "at least 90 percent" and that students would be "first in the world in mathematics and science achievement." Pat Moynihan compared those goals to Soviet grain production quotas — solemn without being serious. In 2000 the graduation rate, inflated by "social promotions," was about 75 percent. And among students of 38 nations, Americans ranked 19th in mathematics, right below Latvians, and 18th in science, right below Bulgarians.


The problem with American education is not public parsimony; it is the habits and values prevailing in private — in U.S. households. America has tripled inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in the past four decades and since 2001 has increased federal K-12 spending 37.4 percent. By now informed Americans know that money is a very limited lever for moving the world of education. And schools reflect the families from which their pupils come — the amount of reading material in the homes, the amount of homework done, the hours spent watching television, etc.


Hence the importance — but also the limited power — of the lever of embarrassment. Spellings expects NCLB's high expectations to be substantially self-fulfilling because she "thinks the best" of people — parents and school officials — at the local level. But if they really are as vigilant, diligent and susceptible to embarrassment as she assumes, why do we need the law?


Anyone who thinks parents hunger for greater academic rigor should try to get parents to pay the price — more dollars for more school days and, even less tolerated, decreased vacation time for little Tommy and Sue and their parents — of increasing America's approximately 180-day school year, which is 40 to 60 days shorter than in much of the rest of the industrial world. The power of embarrassment, indeed.

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If Bush is dumb . . . ?

Jewish World Review
Jewish World Review June 23, 2005/ 16 Sivan, 5765

Larry Elder

Larry Elder

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | "Does anyone in America doubt," said former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines before the 2004 presidential election, "that [presidential candidate Sen. John] Kerry has a higher IQ than [President George W.] Bush? I'm sure the candidates' SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead."

And, on March 6, 2004, a New York Times article called the way Kerry thinks through problems "the mark of an intellectual who grasps the subtleties of issues, inhabits their nuances and revels in the deliberative process." The Los Angeles Times dismissed Bush's achievements, and editorialized that he became president only as a result of an "accident of birth and corruption of democracy."

Get it? See, Bush is a dunderhead, while Kerry positioned himself as the thinking man's alternative. Really?'

After promising during the campaign and then refusing to do so, Kerry finally signed Form 180, which authorized the military to release all of his records. (One of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, John O'Neill, says the records are incomplete and mysteries still remain.) The recently released records appear to back up Kerry's account of his activities and injuries in Vietnam.

Why, then, didn't Kerry release his records during the campaign? After all, his refusal seemed like a cover-up. Now we know.

Kerry's military records also include his college grades. (The New Yorker printed Bush's grades in 1999, but Kerry consistently refused to release his.) It turns out that "dummy" and fellow Yalie George W. Bush made better grades than did brainy, intellectual John Kerry. Under Yale's grading system at the time Bush and Kerry attended, grades from 90 to 100 meant an A, 80 to 89 a B, 70 to 79 a C, and 60 to 69 a D. Kerry received five Ds, including four in his freshman year, with a D in political science! Bush, during his time at Yale, got one D, in astronomy. Overall, Kerry finished Yale with a cumulative score of 76. Bush finished with a score of 77. So who's the dummy?

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Retired history professor Gaddis Smith taught both students, but only recalls Kerry. Smith remembered Kerry as a "good student." When informed, however, that Kerry received a 71 and 79 in Smith's history courses, the professor said, "Uh, oh. I thought he was [a] good student. Those aren't very good grades." Oh, what did the forgettable Bush get in history? 88.

Kerry and the Democrats clearly considered Bush stupid. During the campaign, when Bush injured himself by falling off his bicycle, Kerry snidely said, "Did the training wheels fall off?" And on 2004 election night, as the returns came in, a dejected Kerry said, "I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot."

What did some in the mainstream media make out of Kerry's now-released records?

A Boston Globe article began, "During last year's presidential campaign, John F. Kerry was the candidate often portrayed as intellectual and complex, while George W. Bush was the populist who mangled his sentences. But newly released records show that Bush and Kerry had a virtually identical grade average at Yale University four decades ago." The New York Times, too, ran a piece — on page 10 — about Kerry's grades. The Los Angeles Times, however, ran a page A-17 story, only about how Kerry's records refute allegations made by the Swift Boat Veterans. Not one word was printed about Kerry's grades! "The long-awaited documents," said the Los Angeles Times, "contained no bombshells . . ." No bombshells?

A week after Kerry's grades were released, a Fox News poll found that only 27 percent of likely voters (about one in four) believed Bush had better grades in college, while 43 percent still believed Kerry had better grades. Does the contained-no-bombshells media play a role in voters' ignorance of current events?

Bush also performed better than Kerry on military intelligence tests. This came out during the presidential campaign. When Tom Brokaw told Kerry that Bush scored higher, the senator sniffed that, the night before the exam, he "must have been drinking."

After repeatedly implying that Bush lacked the intellectual goods, how could Sen. Kerry release his transcripts during the campaign? After all, what looks worse? A "brainy" intellectual who underperforms? Or the "dunce" who manages to outperform the "genius"?

In fact, Bush himself jokes about his mediocre grades. At the 2001 Yale commencement ceremony, the president said, "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students — I say, you, too, can be president of the United States." Can we expect similar self-deprecating humor from Kerry?

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For what it's worth, Thomas Stanley, author of "The Millionaire Mind," says that most millionaires come from the ranks of B and C students. Their success comes from the "people skills" to manage, lead and inspire. That sounds like poor George W. He got elected and re-elected governor of Texas. And then elected and re-elected president of the United States.

Not bad . . . for a "dummy."

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Our republic and colleges

Jewish World Review

Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765

By Jack Kelly

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The University of Colorado announced last week that it is expanding its apparently endless inquiry into misconduct by faux Indian Prof. Ward Churchill after a recent series by the Rocky Mountain News demonstrated:

  • That Churchill has no Indian blood, as he claimed to obtain tenure.

  • That the sources Churchill cited in an academic paper for his charge that the U.S. Army deliberately spread smallpox among the Mandan Indians in 1837 do not support the charge. Some refute it.

  • That Churchill plagiarized the work of Canadian Prof. Fay Cohen, and appears to have plagiarized others.

"All the facts laid out in recent days point to one unavoidable conclusion:

Churchill did plagiarize, and he did invent historical events to suit his political agenda," the Rocky Mountain News said in an editorial June 10th.

"If Churchill's shoddy work is not beyond the pale, then the integrity of all research at the university is in doubt."

But the University of Colorado has been about as eager to examine Churchill's wrong-doing as the Volcker Commission has been to investigate what UN Secretary General did or did not do in the Oil for Food scandal.

Both "investigations" have inched forward only after vigorous outside prodding.

"Several of the clearest violations of scholarly practice aren't even being investigated yet by the university, although they clearly ought to be," the News said. "As reporter Laura Frank recounted a week ago, Churchill also presented as his own, without apparent permission, an essay produced by an environmental group. And he reprinted the work of three scholars under their own names but without permission in apparent violation of copyright law."

Churchill, you'll recall, came to national attention in February when it came to light (thanks to the editor of a student newspaper at Hamilton College, where Churchill was scheduled to speak) that Churchill had called the victims in the World Trade Center Sept. 11th "Little Eichmanns."

Doubtless it is Churchill's virulent anti-Americanism that has permitted him to keep his job for so long, despite clear and massive evidence of academic fraud.

CU acted with far greater dispatch in the case of Prof. Phil Mitchell, canned in March after 20 years when his department chief discovered that he was a conservative and a Christian.

The grounds for firing Mitchell, 1998 Teacher of the Year at CU, were that he quoted black conservative Thomas Sowell in a discussion of affirmative action.

"The progressive head of the department berated Mitchell, calling him a racist," reported Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi. Two of Mitchell's nine children are black.

The final straw came when Mitchell used a book on liberal Protestantism in the 19th Century in his history class. "So repulsed by the word "G-d" was one student, she complained, and the department chaired fired him without a meeting," Harsanyi reported.

Mitchell's situation is hardly unique in academia these days. DePaul University in Chicago suspended without a hearing Prof. Thomas Klocek in May after he vigorously defended Israel in a discussion with Muslim students.

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Dean Susan Dumbleton said Klocek had "insulted and demeaned" the Muslim students by attempting to impose his "erroneous views" on them.

Economics Prof. Hans Hoppe nearly lost his job at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas when a student took offense to his (accurate) statement in a lecture on money and banking that homosexuals tend to lead risky lifestyles and tend not to save for the future, a trait they share with the very young and the very old.

There is free speech aplenty at our colleges and universities for those who malign the United States, white males, Christians, Jews, soldiers and Republicans, no matter how false and vicious their criticisms be. But woe be unto the professor or student who strays from the path of Political Correctness.

Conservative professors are as rare on campuses today as bacon at a bar mitzvah, but there appears to be a vigorous effort to purge the few who remain. Our campuses have been taken over by the radical Left, who are more interested in propagandizing our children than in educating them. If we do not take them back, the republic will be in grave peril.

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For whom the wedding bells toll?

Jewish World Review
Jewish World Review June 23, 2005/ 16 Sivan, 5765

Suzanne Fields

Fields


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Can a child have three legal parents? Should parenthood be routinely determined by something other than biology? Should we extend the right to marriage to same-sex couples? To groups of people? Or should we abolish marriage as a legal institution?

"The Future of Family Law"

Not so long ago, such questions would have been raised only in a science fiction tale. Not anymore. They're questions seriously discussed in college classrooms, advocacy seminars and in forums to challenge lawyers, judges and policymakers. The idea is to change family law as we know it. Marriage is targeted for deconstruction.

From the time that America was a colony, the marriage model was governed by law, culture and traditions flowing from the Judeo-Christian religious ideal. Marriage was specifically a social institution designed for the protection of children. The law wasn't perfect, suffering the flaws of humanity, but the law was clear and well intentioned. The law defined rights, responsibilities and punishment and shaped a shared sense of obligation in private and social conduct on behalf of children. We made changes in the law from time to time, but we never dropped our concern for the offspring of marriage.

That was then. "Family law today appears to be embracing a big new idea," writes Daniel Cere, a professor of ethics at McGill University in Canada and the principal investigator for an inquiry into the future of family law, the conclusions of which are published by the Institute for American Values, a non-partisan organization in New York City dedicated to strengthening families and civil society. "The idea is that marriage is only a close personal relationship between adults," he says, "and no longer a pro-child social institution." (The report is available at www.americanvalues.org)

Influential advocates from politically correct academic and legal organizations sneer at traditional marriage as another bad example of "ethnocentric" thinking that promotes "old-fashioned ideological stereotypes." These advocates accuse the law of dismissing "diversity." By diversity they mean the experience of racial minorities, women, single parents, divorced and remarried persons, gays, and lesbians. A large body of social science and psychological data demonstrate that not all forms of parenthood are equally child-friendly, but these advocates say that's merely a point of view to be replaced by "close relationship" law.

In "close relationship" law there's a moral equivalence between marriage and cohabitation — what society once derided as "living together." There's ample research to show that mere cohabitation to produce children creates a less stable environment for them than marriage. In "close relationship" law, a "partner" is the equal of a "parent" and conjugal marriage morphs into the generic neutrality of "coupledom." In "close relationship" law, marriage is just another "lifestyle choice" along with other economically and emotionally interdependent relationships comprising a kind of "family buddy system."

If this sounds far-fetched, fetch again. This reports shows how "close relationship" law moves in mysterious ways and often gets imbedded in law incrementally, without debate, because it operates under the public radar. The report cites secular chapter and verse where the legal formality of marriage is in danger of being replaced by other relationships described in mushy language as "indistinguishable from marriage." The result of such thinking undercuts the notion that a mother and a father should be the standard for measuring the best interests of a child, even if honored in the breach.

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Marriage has never been easy. Sexual liberation has taken its toll. The Pill promoted promiscuity and reduced birth rates, and illegitimacy continues to hit poor young women hardest. Divorce is sometimes regarded as merely a form of human recycling, but new research suggests that divorce is bad for your health, which ought to get some couples to try harder to stay together. Increasing numbers of young men and women are going into couple therapy before they get married; children of divorce don't want their children to go through what they did.

Through thick and thin (or even thin and thin), for better and for worse, marriage as an institution continues to define public norms that shape public attitudes and personal expectations. We ought to keep it that way. Philosophers from John Locke to John Rawls emphasize the importance of conjugal marriage for democratic society, and most of us understand that children do best with a mother and a father. So before we start tampering with our respect for traditional marriage, we should pay heed to what we know that works. If we don't want to do that for our selfish selves, we must do it for the sake of the children.


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© 2005, Suzanne Fields, Creators Syndicate

Better dead than Fed, PETA says

Jewish World Review

Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765

By Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Don't be fooled by the slick propaganda of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The organization may claim to champion the welfare of animals, as the many photos of cute puppies and kittens on its website suggest. But last week, two PETA employees were charged with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty each, after authorities found them dumping the dead bodies of 18 animals they had just picked up from a North Carolina animal shelter in a Dumpster. According to The Associated Press, 13 more dead animals were found in a van registered to PETA.

The arrest followed a rash of unwelcome discoveries of dead animals dumped in the area. According to veterinarian Patrick Proctor, the PETA people told North Carolina shelters they would try to find the dogs and cats homes. He handed over two adoptable kittens and their mother, only to learn later that they had died, without a chance to find a home, in the PETA van.

"This is ethical?" Proctor railed over the phone. "I don't really think so."

This is not the first report that PETA killed animals it claimed to protect. In 1991, PETA killed 18 rabbits and 14 roosters it had previously "rescued" from a research facility. "We just don't have the money to care for them," then PETA-Chairman Alex Pacheco told The Washington Times. The PETA shelter had run out of room.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, which represents the food industry, a frequent target of PETA campaigns, released data filed by PETA with the state of Virginia that shows PETA has killed more than 10,000 animals from 1998 to 2003.

"In 2003, PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in," said a press release from the lobby, "finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk (Va.) SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent."

The center's David Martosko considered PETA's hefty budget — reportedly, $20 million — and many contributions from well-heeled Hollywood celebrities, then figured, "PETA has enough money in the bank to care for every unwanted animal in Virginia (where it has its headquarters) and North Carolina."

Except PETA apparently prefers to spend donations not caring for flesh-and-blood animals entrusted to it, but on campaigns attacking medical researchers, meat eaters or women wearing furs. It is as if PETA prefers the idea of animals to animals themselves.

Why does PETA kill animals that might otherwise find a home? I repeatedly phoned PETA, but I never reached an official who would answer my questions. PETA's website spun the story under the banner, "PETA helping animals in North Carolina," with an emphasis on its efforts to "solve the animal overpopulation in North Carolina."

Here's more: "PETA has provided euthanasia services to various counties in that state to prevent animals from being shot with a .22 behind a shed or gassed in windowless metal boxes — both practices that were carried out until PETA volunteered to provide painless death for the animals." Make that painless deaths for animals that could have found love.

Besides, PETA always has been about killing animals. A 2003 New Yorker profile included PETA top dog Ingrid Newkirk's story of how she became involved in animal rights after a shelter put down stray kittens she brought there. So she went to work for an animal shelter in the 1970s, where, she explained: "I would go to work early, before anyone got there, and I would just kill the animals myself. Because I couldn't stand to let them go through (other workers abusing the animals). I must have killed a thousand of them, sometimes dozens every day."

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That's right. PETA assails other parties for killing animals for food or research. Then it kills animals — but for really important reasons, like because it has run out of room.

Martosko hopes animal lovers will learn that their donations will do more good at a local animal shelter than at PETA. "For years," he added, "we thought that PETA just cared for animals more than they cared for humans. But now it seems they don't care much for either."

No lie about not caring for people. In 2003, Newkirk hectored late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because a terrorist blew up a donkey in an attempt to blow up people. Newkirk also told The New Yorker the world would be a better place without people. She explained why she had herself sterilized: "I am opposed to having children. Having a purebred human baby is like having a purebred dog — it's nothing but vanity, human vanity."

Now you know. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn't really like people. PETA has no use for ethics. And PETA kills animals.

Note to readers: My husband, Wesley J. Smith, is a senior fellow on animal rights issues at the Discovery Institute.

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Symbol of strength

Jewish World Review

Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765

By Abe Novick


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On punks and pride


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Star of David stitched on the boxer Max Baer's fight trunks in the film Cinderella Man tore by so fast I barely saw it.


Yet the controversy provoked by this tough Jew (a heavyweight champion in the 1930s and actually only one-quarter Jew  —  enough for Hitler) who once beat Nazi Germany's Max Schmeling in 1933, is due to the fact that he's wrongly portrayed as a loudmouthed, murderous lout. Apparently, he was nothing of the sort and a decent guy, but was re-tailored in order to suit the Cinderella Man's image as sympathetic, rags-to-riches, comeback kid.


To smear Baer's reputation is a shame. Especially when so many Jews of today are completely unaware that there were ever Jewish boxers, let alone, a gifted heavyweight.


In fact, Jews occupied a prominent role in boxing, especially during the 20s and 30s.


In the Introduction to his book, When Boxing Was A Jewish Sport, Allen Bodner informs, "Jews entered the ranks of American boxing in large numbers and by 1928 were the dominant nationality in professional prizefighting, followed by the Italians and the Irish."


For kids today to see the sport dragged down by the ear-biting, convicted rapist Iron Mike takes away from the mystique that once was the sport. It's become a clown show sunken to the depths of pro-wrestling.


It wasn't always this way and I guess I was lucky to have gotten to watch the tail-end of its highpoint, when Ali would float and sting the streetfighter, Frazier and Howie Cosell would narrate so eloquently. There was still an art to it then, one that inspired this young Jewboy. Like so many bodybuilding ads in the back of comic books portrayed, I too didn't like getting sand kicked in my face.


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It's a familiar story. On the way to school there was a candy store. School was four blocks away. The candy store was three blocks and just shy of the elementary school. Across the street from the candy store was a family of rotten anti-Semites. There must have been at least 9 children. All of them blonde, skinny and more despicable than the next.


As a small child they chased me. One time they chased me and smashed Drake's Cakes on my head that I'd just bought. However, as I grew older, I got bigger and worked out. I became physically fit. Years later, walking the worn path from the candy store back to the neighborhood with a friend alongside, I came across the devil-like grin of one of them. It was a hot sunny day and he was pushing a lawnmower that his old man had him drag which smeared a resentful, embittered grimace on him.


This time, I said to him cockily, "What are you looking at?" He shoved aside his lawnmower by the busy street and went for my bait.


I was so ready to wallop this little punk. This coward who once bullied me, I knew I could've destroyed. This Jew-hater. Yet, it takes a lot to actually pummel someone. It takes more than muscles. It takes a certain streak and that was something I'd been taught was wrong.

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After a few swings by me, anyone of which could have severed his head, we went along our own separate ways. Standing up to him sent a strong signal though, and he was never again the bully he'd once been to me after that.


Years later, when I would wear the Star of David around my neck, it would provoke remarks  —  prejudice. Yet, I was so proud and thought it looked the epitome of cool. I was sure to get one that was just a little tarnished too, so it wasn't too pretty.


Never the fighter I'd read about, I understood that for some, the only way to earn respect was through strength. I know Cinderella Man is just a movie and in order to craft and Hollywoodize it, Baer had to take a hit. I just hope, with its mistaken portrayal and current controversy, it can gain enough publicity to spark today's youth to learn and understand the actual role Jews played in, what was once, a noble sport.


For those kids, like Baer, me and Israel, the star's a symbol of strength.

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© 2005, Abe Novick

War protests prompt spurious analogies

Jewish World Review

Jewish World Review June 23, 2005 / 16 Sivan, 5765

How partisan politics — the real motive behind the huffing and puffing about Guantanamo — can lead otherwise sensible people to loose their grip on common sense

By Jonathan Tobin



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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Public opinion surveys have repeatedly shown that Americans are remarkably ignorant of their own history, let alone anyone else's. So maybe that's why our politicians feel they can get away with the most egregious historical analogies when discussing the issues of the day.


Given the unfortunate fact that many Americans may well be laboring under the misapprehension that the Gettysburg Address had something to do with World War II, why wouldn't members of the U.S. Senate throw around references to the Holocaust as if it were an incident that occurred during the War of 1812?


It's been a banner year for dumb quotes from senators, and given the fact that inane remarks have never been in short supply, that is no mean feat.


Earlier this year, West Virginia's former Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan and current Democratic Party elder statesman Robert Byrd compared the since failed Republican effort to squelch filibusters of judicial nominations to acts of Nazi repression. That worked so well for Byrd that Pennsylvania's own Rick Santorum, who is the Republican Senate Conference chair, returned the favor and said the same thing about the Democrats' filibustering.


To his credit, Santorum soon apologized for his nonsensical statement. Byrd, on the other hand, did not.


The latest purveyor of a Holocaust analogy is Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate's deputy minority leader.


In the course of an impassioned speech about alleged abuses of prisoners at Guant?namo Bay by U.S. personnel, Durbin claimed that this treatment was reminiscent of actions by "the Nazis, the Soviets in their gulag, or some made regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no regard for human beings."

NOT EXACTLY GENOCIDE
This came on the heels of another remark by the head of the Amnesty International human rights group that also compared Guantanamo to the gulag.


All this shows how partisan politics — the real motive behind the huffing and puffing about Guantanamo — can lead even otherwise sensible people to loose their grip on common sense.


As for Guantanamo and the brutalizing of prisoners there, any breach of individual rights ought to concern us. But the problem with much of the debate on this issue isn't whether or not the soldiers and other personnel charged with interrogating terrorists and those captured in the field fighting on behalf of terrorist regimes may have been too rough at times.


Let's remember a simple fact: Not one person has been killed at Guantanamo, while Hitler and his henchmen murdered 6 million Jews and millions of non-Jews during the Holocaust. Stalin killed tens of millions.


Being forced to listen to rap music or suffer extreme heat in a cell or even being chained to a chair for an extended period of time (the allegations Durbin referred to) may or may not be legal, but it is also not genocide. The people who want to commit genocide are the guys being held at Guantanamo, not the American servicemen and women trying to protect us from them.


But claiming that Americans are committing the equivalent of genocide is, at least in the view of some people, good politics. The backlash against the war in Iraq has spurned a lot of spurious arguments but the mock impeachment hearings held by Congressional Democrats last week in the Capitol basement, seemed to bring out the nuts that always lurk at the margins of the body politic.

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It was probably a given that a session devoted to labeling the conflict as a plot would, sooner or a later, include the accusation that it was a Jewish plot. And so it was little surprise that among those summoned to serenade various members of the House of Representatives was Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst who was allowed to use this partisan forum to make exactly that point.


According to McGovern, the war in Iraq was fought for Israel, and was used by the "neocons" — the buzzword conspiracy theorists use instead of "Jews" — to carry out the will of the Jewish state. He claims President Bush, only recently seen embracing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, was under the svengali-like thrall of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

FORUM FOR EXTREMISM
McGovern claims this thesis is being silenced. "Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," said McGovern. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."


For this piece of invective, Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), who took in the event and helpfully prompted McGovern's remarks about Israel, merely thanked him for his "candid answer."


Meanwhile, according to news reports, this disgraceful event was being viewed by an overflow crowd on television at national Democratic headquarters in Washington where other crackpots, though not anyone necessarily associated with the party, handed out leaflets that claimed Israeli involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.


Such people do not represent mainstream Democratic voters, let alone the American public. But it is the sort of thing that is heard more and more among extremist groups, such as those funded by billionaire George Soros, who are seeking more influence in the party. This is not just about the dumbing down of American politics, but an attempt to legitimize extremism.


While we probably shouldn't expect people like Moran or the other organizers of the House "hearing" to behave like adults, we ought to hold serious people like Durbin to higher standards. But if everything — from history to the imperative to fight and win the war on Islamic terrorism and history — can be thrown out the window in order to pursue a partisan grudge against Bush, then we ought not to be surprised that anti-Israel invective follows closely behind.


Interestingly, a survey recently conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the nonpartisan Israel Project, claimed that increasingly partisan Democrat elites are viewing Israel with distaste partly because Bush has been widely identified as a supporter of the country.


If true, this is a development that Jewish Democrats ought to view with alarm. After all, if we are prepared to believe that Guantanamo is the equivalent of Auschwitz or the gulag, then it is no stretch of the imagination to think of Israel as the evil genius behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks or everything you don't like about American foreign policy.


Just as Republicans need to restrain extremists on the right, it's imperative that Democrats, who, after all, must be considered the odds-on favorites to recapture the White House in 2008, do the same to the apparently growing ranks of anti-Israel extremists on their left wing.

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2005-07-01

Groups gird for nomination fight as O’Connor retires from Supreme Court

 
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Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
Many Jewish groups are gearing up for a nomination fight as Justice Sandra Day O´Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
By Matthew E. Berger
WASHINGTON, July 1 (JTA) — The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is expected to ratchet up the Jewish community's plans for engagement on the high court's future.

Many Jewish groups already had been mobilizing for an anticipated vacancy on the court, but many expected they would be discussing the successor to Chief Justice William Rehnquist and watching President Bush replace a conservative vote with another conservative.

Now many Jewish groups concerned about protecting abortion rights and the separation of church and state plan to fight to make sure the balance of the court doesn´t change.

"This ratchets up the stakes tremendously," said Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. "Instead of replacing a conservative justice with a conservative nominee, we face the prospect of replacing the swing vote on so many of our issues."

Several Washington Jewish leaders said they were feeling pressure from colleagues to speak out about Bush's choice for an anticipated vacancy, and to actively fight potential "extremist" nominees. That pressure now is expected to increase.

The planned offensive is two-pronged. The first stage involves emphasizing guidelines they hope the Bush White House will follow in picking the next justice.

"He has the opportunity now to unite us together," Phyllis Snyder, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, said of Bush. "If he'll work with the bipartisan group of senators, he has the opportunity to pull people together."

Many Jewish groups are urging Bush to step back and deliberate before nominating a replacement, hoping he will seek someone who has respect among diverse groups.

"There really are a lot of people on the short list who have a good shot at fitting into our criteria," said Mark Waldman, director of public policy for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement's congregational arm.

A second, more controversial phase includes joining religious and other liberal groups in a planned offensive if Bush picks a conservative jurist they consider "extremist."

As a first step, many Jewish groups are joining other faith organizations in a letter to senators, stressing the importance of the "advise and consent" process for judicial nominees, which gives members of the minority party and others an opportunity to weigh in on nominations.

Crafted by the RAC, the letter was ready for distribution last week, and is expected to be released now that a vacancy has occurred.

Jewish leaders caution that their actions depend on whom President Bush chooses, and on that person's credentials. Using Bush's selections to lower federal courts as a guide, however, they assume they'll need to mount a campaign against the eventual nominee.

Jewish leaders say it's unclear whether the community can add to the debate or whether it merely would be repeating arguments made by others. Some say they would prefer not to expend resources if they don't have much to add.

The campaign takes on added poignancy, however, as the Christian Coalition, whose views are antithetical to those of many Jewish groups, launches its own campaign on judicial appointments.

So far, organizers of the Jewish campaign have been able to get some Jewish groups to consider more active engagement. They hope they'll have a few weeks until the choice of a replacement to galvanize more of the Jewish community on the nomination issue.

Many say upcoming nomination battles could mirror the struggle against the nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, which included many Jewish groups. Jewish groups are especially expected to speak out if the nominee opposes abortion.

The letter to senators, circulated to Jewish groups for their signatures last week, stressed the need for "openness and bi-partisan consultation throughout the nomination and confirmation process."

"The confirmation process must also be free of the divisive and dangerous practice of using Senators' and nominees' faiths as a wedge," the letter says, according to a draft obtained by JTA. A copy likely will be sent to the White House.

President Bush said Friday that he would consult with advisers and senators, and hoped to have a nominee confirmed by the start of the new Supreme Court session in October.

"The nation deserves, and I will select a Supreme Court justice that Americans can be proud of," Bush said. "The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote."

Sources said much of the pressure is focused on the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League, two of the most recognized Jewish groups, which largely stay out of nomination battles.

The AJCommittee signed the letter to senators, but Richard Foltin, the group's director of legislative affairs, said his organization rarely endorses specific nominees, viewing confirmation battles as partisan and personal.

"We're always getting helpful advice from our friends," Foltin said sarcastically. "We expect to be getting a lot more helpful advice."

The ADL has not signed on to the letter. Michael Lieberman, the ADL's Washington counsel, said the organization would continue its practice of analyzing Supreme Court nominees and sending letters to Senate Judiciary Committee members, suggesting areas on which to question the jurists.

But the ADL has taken positions against some federal court nominees, such as William Pryor, who first was nominated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 but approved only this month.

"The idea that the president could pick someone we oppose is obvious," Lieberman said. "It's axiomatic that the stakes are higher because it's the Supreme Court."

Orthodox groups largely will stay out of the nomination battle. The Orthodox Union will weigh in on issues relevant to the debate but won't approve or reject nominees, said Nathan Diament, director of the O.U.'s Institute for Public Affairs.

Orthodox groups have not been asked to participate in the interfaith letter, Diament said. Many Orthodox Jews take a more conservative view on separation of church and state and other contentious issues.

The National Council of Jewish Women launched its BenchMark Campaign several years ago against conservative judicial nominations. Many Jewish groups were lukewarm at the time but said they might decide to participate if a Supreme Court vacancy came up, according to Sammie Moshenberg, NCJW's Washington director.

The Conservative movement has surprised many by speaking out. It sent letters to President Bush and senators earlier this month, comparing justices to rabbis and other spiritual leaders.

The movement suggested that nominees should be well trained, "eschew an ideologically defined approach to judicial interpretation" and show a "balanced respect for foundational documents, reasonable interpretation and societal realities."

Waldman said it was important to show the Bush administration what the movement wants in a justice. Waldman left open the possibility that the movement would oppose or endorse particular nominees.

Several groups, including the AJCommittee, spoke out against Republican plans to use the "nuclear option" — changing Senate rules to require only a majority vote on judicial nominations. Current rules require a cloture vote, which requires a super-majority of 60 votes, to end filibusters.

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