- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2003

Hollywood liberals’ bad act

Will somebody please tell Barbara Streisand and Michael Moore that nobody cares what Hollywood thinks?

Their latest cheap shots at President Bush (“Streisand, others aim barbs at Bush,” Nation, Saturday), once again merely display their hateful ignorance. These shrill attacks are nothing but politically motivated diatribes, not morally founded policy objections.

Miss Streisand writes: “The country sees their leader not telling the truth. These actions send a message that you don’t have to mean what you say, that you don’t have to care about other people, that you can do whatever you have to do or say whatever you have to say to get ahead.” Her comments would have more appropriately appeared during the Clinton presidency, but somehow never made it onto her Web site during those eight long years.

Miss Streisand, tellingly, has nothing but praise for the former commander in chief, disbarred for providing false and misleading testimony.

Cowardly film director Michael Moore chimes in with a new twist. Mr. Moore criticizes Mr. Bush for not faking evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I suppose Mr. Moore was used to such shenanigans during the Clinton administration. The director regularly uses fake “evidence” himself to make a point in his pseudo-documentaries.

The silence from Hollywood hypocrites like Miss Streisand and Mr. Moore during years of Clinton missile attacks against numerous targets was deafening. Their strident caterwauling now speaks volumes.

JAMES TERPENING

Richmond

The leviathan of affirmative action

Clarence Page compares black college applicants to handicapped parkers (“Faulty logic … wise counsel,” Commentary, Friday). As offensive and disappointing as this comparison is, the real disappointment in Mr. Page’s column is the refusal to discuss affirmative action in the one context that truly matters — the law.

Mr. Page quotes from “The Shape of the River,” a 1998 study from two former Ivy League presidents, both proponents of racial preferences. This study has not released all of its raw data and has had both its methodology and results called into question from objective social scientists. He then praises Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for remarking that some military officers supported the university’s position in amicus curiae briefs.

That those officers did so is regrettable and unfortunate. Our nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines do not need racial aesthetics; they need competent, well-trained and devoted leaders, regardless of color. Mr. Page’s crediting, even partially, racial discrimination for battlefield success is laughable. He then quotes Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion without any mention of Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion.

Had he bothered to discuss the Thomas dissent, he would have been forced to consider whether Michigan has a compelling interest in the existence of a state-run elite law school that trains lawyers largely from other states for work outside of Michigan, what the definition of diversity is, how a critical mass of racial participation can be calculated without reverting to quotas or dual admission tracks and how the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause will evolve without congressional amendment in 25 years. He could explain how allowing diversity by simply lowering standards would fundamentally alter the law school, but that allowing diversity by racial discrimination adds educational benefits. He could then address social science studies of historically black colleges showing that students perform better with less diversity. He could finish by explaining why the University of Michigan Law School can discriminate, but the Virginia Military Institute may not. One can excuse Mr. Page for not addressing these questions, for neither did the majority on the court.

Our Constitution is not about social justice per se. It does not contain all the remedies to life’s problems, nor does it contain the necessary tools to fashion the society that some would like. We should be thankful that most of its words concern limiting the role of the federal government and not, in Justice Thomas’ words, “the faddish slogans of the cognoscenti.”

With the Grutter decision, we are no closer to achieving the promise of Justice John Marshall Harlan’s lone, brave dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), of a Constitution that is “color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

Finally, the reason Mr. Page dares not discuss the law is that affirmative action is not about the law; it is about providing pedigrees to potential Democratic activists and politicians, and, ultimately, paving the way for the group rights ideology of the leviathan.

JOHN J. STEPHENS

Alexandria

The Nature Conservancy fights conservatism

It was with rising annoyance that I read John Whitehead’s defense of the Nature Conservancy in The Washington Times (“The messy middle,” Op-Ed, Friday.) His criticism of certain conservatives as “doctrinaire” finally pushed me over the top.

Conservatives feel that people should be willing to pay for what they want. With that in mind, I would have no problem with the Nature Conservancy and other land trusts if they actually did so, but they don’t. The stark truth, which the other Washington newspaper neglected to report and which Mr. Whitehead doesn’t want to discuss with the conservative readers of this paper, is that the Conservancy’s operations are not “private sector” at all, but massively supported and subsidized by the government. The Conservancy engages in nothing more than a “moderate” version of the actions of actor Danny DeVito in “Other People’s Money.”

The Conservancy’s agenda is directly aided by confiscatory taxation policies, specifically inheritance taxes — avoidance of which is the main incentive driving people to donate development rights and/or land to the Conservancy. The Conservancy is subsidized as well. Personal income donated to it results in a tax break that must be made up by others. When private property is encumbered by a “conservation easement,” the property taxes lost in the future must be made up by someone else. Furthermore, the donor’s federal tax break for the easement itself is going to have to be made up with someone else’s federal taxes.

Never mind that Conservancy subsidiary Nature Serve holds state-level contracts to administer Natural Heritage Program databases, which the Conservancy uses to make sure whatever easements or purchases it makes generate the biggest biological bang for what is mostly your dollars. Mr. Whitehead calls all this “pragmatic.” You bet — there’s nothing more pragmatic than getting other people to pay for what you want, and the best way to keep such a sweet deal off the radar screen is to, of course, be “non-confrontational.”

DAVE SKINNER

The Hydra Project

Whitefish, Mont.

Devil’s in the details

In Scott Galupo’s article on Harry Potter (“‘Potter’: Are witches wild about Harry?” Arts and Entertainment, June 21), he refers to some thoughts Caroline Casey has about the Harry Potter character and his impact on children. “Miss Casey says the children she has observed often moved on to more challenging books by authors such as Phillip Pullman, another writer fascinated by pagan underworlds.”

Are Miss Casey or your readers aware that Mr. Pullman, an Oxford don and best-selling author, has in his novel “The Amber Spyglass” two youthful characters who see God as a very old decrepit man who is blown away into dust by a gust of wind? Mr. Pullman is certainly a “challenging” author, but do parents want their barely teenage children reading about the casual annihilation of the Supreme Being? I don’t really think so.

CYNTHIA GRENIER

Washington

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