- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Uriah Levy Jewish pioneer, maverick, crusader

It has been good to see no less than two articles in The Washington Times recently referring to Commodore Uriah P. Levy, our Navy's first Jewish flag officer ("Dedicated family saved Monticello," Nov. 23; "'Nomads' for their faith," Dec. 1). The first article explained his important connection to the home at Monticello, and the second linked him to Jewish traditions at Annapolis and in the Navy.

In the 1970s, I was a Navy submarine crewman, and our tiny but excellent library included a biography of Levy, which I read. Jewish pioneer, maverick, crusader Levy was all of these. But his most important accomplishment (for my money) may account above all for the rancor directed at Levy by many of his 19th-century contemporaries in the service. Not mentioned in your otherwise excellent coverage of his career, I refer to Levy's decisive role in engineering the abolition of flogging in the U.S. Navy.



Government pushes 'power-drunk, anti-alcohol agenda'

Your Dec. 2 editorial "Sobering 'drunk-driving' stats" was correct to spotlight the lack of data supporting the 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) standard.

But you missed pointing out the fatal flaw in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) claim that alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased 5 percent from 1999 to 2000.

Incredibly, NHTSA assumes a traffic fatality to be "alcohol-related" if a driver or pedestrian has a BAC of 0.01 or higher. The 0.01 standard equates to about one-third of a beer consumed in an hour. There is no credible evidence that such a low BAC increases the risk of traffic fatalities.

If NHTSA estimated alcohol-related fatalities with a more realistic BAC standard, it would probably find that alcohol-related facilities don't change significantly from year to year.

Of course, such a report wouldn't further NHTSA's power-drunk, anti-alcohol agenda.


Publisher, JunkScience.com


'Civilians can judge warriors … and always have

In his Nov. 25 Commentary Forum column "A warrior's judgment," Phillip Carter opines that only a warrior can judge a warrior. He may indeed believe this, but our country's history insists on civilian involvement in military justice. For example, it is the right of any person convicted in any military court to appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This court is composed of five civilian judges appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for 15-year terms. An accused can challenge decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces by asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a grant of certiorari. The Supreme Court reviewed the convictions of Nazis on a writ of habeas corpus. Under President Bush's executive order, no right of appeal would exist and equally shocking someone could be put to death without a unanimous verdict.

The terrorists could knock down buildings, but they couldn't destroy our Constitution and its protections. Apparently, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Mr. Bush are doing that on their own.

From the day Gen. George Washington resigned his Army commission, bade farewell to his troops and agreed to serve as the head of our (civilian) government, the sovereignty of civilians over the military has been part of our nation. How sad if, in a burst of patriotic bombast, the warriors decide that they reign supreme after all. It might make the Pakistani military government feel more comfortable dealing with the United States, but all Americans should weep.

Civilians can judge warriors and always have.



Payroll tax holiday not for everyone

The Washington Times has provided stellar coverage of the national and procedural aspects of the congressional fiscal stimulus package. However, there is a local aspect that needs some attention: The Washington area might get shortchanged.

Several senators want to suspend collection of the social security tax for a month or so, which would put more money in the hands of all workers even those who make too little money to pay income taxes. However, about 4 million workers are not covered by Social Security. Their retirement is covered by government programs that were created before the Great Depression, and hence exempted by the Social Security Act. For example, most civilians hired by the government before 1984 pay 7 percent of their salary to the Civil Service Retirement System, not social security. Railroad workers, some state employees, and one-third of all teachers are covered by a different program as well.

The Washington metropolitan area has the heaviest concentration of federal civilian employees; thus, our area would get less stimulus from this tax holiday than other parts of the nation even though we probably need it more than most. It would be easy to amend the proposal to include the other retirement programs and fair as well, since general revenues will apparently be used to cover the revenues lost due to the tax holiday.

This is a lot of money. Your readers need to know if Congress is doing something about it.


Glenn Dale, Md.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is 'fictitious'

You persist in identifying Ahmet Erdengiz, a regular contributor to your letters page, as the representative of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("EU should follow example of U.N. in recognizing Turkish Cyprus," Letters, Nov. 27). This fictitious state is in fact the portion of Cyprus that, for 27 years, has been illegally occupied by Turkish troops and Ankara's political proxies.

The Republic of Cyprus, which my law firm represents, is the only lawful nation on the island. Recognized by the entire world community, it is a member in good standing of the United Nations and is conducting successful negotiations for accession to the European Union (EU). Mr. Erdengiz and the impoverished people in occupied Cyprus would do well to join the republic in this accession campaign and share in the innumerable benefits of EU membership.



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