- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

Scouting for life

An editorial Tuesday, "Richard Gephardt he labored, but he never tired," makes the following statement: "Such an effort was typical of this former Eagle Scout's leadership over the many years." This incorrectly implies that Mr. Gephardt no longer holds the rank of Eagle Scout. On the contrary, he is an Eagle Scout: Once the rank of Eagle Scout is attained, it is held for life.
This is a common error, but it deserves correction. As a somewhat successful Air Force officer, I can attest that, of all of the things I have accomplished in my life, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout is by far the most significant. Why? Because it laid the foundation for all that I have accomplished since.

The Pentagon
Arlington, Va.

Defending Gray Davis

I would like to respond to yesterday's editorial, "A fiscal crisis in California."
Yes, Gov. Gray Davis had a budgetary choice. He had to decide between spending what was needed to fix 16 years of Republican budgetary indifference or clamping down on spending, which would have reduced the immediate budget shortfall but would have continued the state's neglect of education, health care and an aging infrastructure.
He put new funding where it was vitally needed: 70 percent to education, public safety, transportation and tax relief; another 26 percent to health care for children, seniors and the disabled. Yet, Mr. Davis' budget increase of 32 percent over four years was lower than the 37 percent increase of former Gov. Pete Wilson's second term and the 45 percent increase seen under the first four years of former Gov. George Deukmejian.
In reality, spending growth under Mr. Davis is significantly less than the average growth for each gubernatorial term since 1959 even when that growth is adjusted for inflation. Neither the federal government nor 45 other states foresaw the precipitous stock market plunge that did in their budgets.
By focusing on long-term needs, Mr. Davis arguably positioned the state for stronger future economic growth. As the Wall Street Journal argued regarding North Carolina's similar budget growth in a time of economic downturn:
"North Carolina got nailed [by the economic downturn] in part because it was caught doing exactly the right things for the long-term health of its economy: boosting K-12 education, a weak link in its schools, while moving from lower-skill to higher-skill industries. To be sure, it's that ironic twist that gives the state its best hope for recovery."
That's a pretty good description of California's economic situation today, as well.

Press secretary to Gov. Gray Davis
Sacramento, Calif.

Putting reason before emotion in priest sex-abuse scandal

Those whose emotions govern their criticism of the Catholic Church's handling of sex abuse accusations against priests need a dose of reason.
First, in the United States, we work under the assumption that the accused are innocent until proved guilty. Why shouldn't priests be given the same right? Let us not forget the allegations against Cardinal Joseph Bernadin of Chicago. His accuser finally confessed to lying.
We must always remember that God forgives sins when a person is truly penitent, and we should be happy for that, because we all are sinners. Saul of Tarsus, later St. Paul, persecuted the early Christians, yet became one of the most sincere followers of Jesus. God gave him another chance, as He gives us all.
Jesus also was a victim of false testimony and was found guilty. So we should not condemn anyone, even after a trial. We should let God judge a man's soul. As Tuesday's Page One article "Bishop warns of foes' use of abuse scandal" suggests, many critics of priestly misconduct are not interested in justice. Rather, they are out to attack the Catholic Church, plain and simple.

Raleigh, N.C.

Post-menopausal birthing

I was bemused by the headline stating that it was "safe," for women in their 50s to give birth, dismissing the very high rate of prenatal complications of these high-risk pregnancies as "treatable" ("Post-menopausal births found safe," Page 1, yesterday).
Preeclampsia causes problems to both mother and child: aging of the placenta and interuterine growth retardation. Gestational diabetes causes problems to the child: an increase in malformation, the need for close monitoring and premature birth. Caesarean sections increase the health risk to the mother.
To dismiss these problems as "treatable" is equivalent to defending the stunts in the movie "Jackass" as OK because no one was killed. Give it time, and there will be deaths of both mother and child, in addition to retardation and pulmonary problems of prematurity in the child.
Also overlooked are the long-term health risks to the "donor mothers," who usually are penniless college students who are paid highly to get huge doses of hormones in order to produce eggs.
Finally, one is skeptical about the statement by Dr. Richard Paulson, who led a study that found post-menopausal births safe:"Not only do I not have a problem in allowing [post-menopausal women] to become pregnant, I would have an ethical problem in denying them." It's easy to overlook the ethical problems in a program that makes lots and lots of money for all involved.
Yes, the mother usually pays the fees for the egg and for the doctor to implant the egg, but we, the public, are paying the fees for the high-risk pregnancies and for the care of high-risk newborns through increased health insurance premiums.
There is, of course, another option: Some of us who couldn't produce children have adopted. Thousands of "waiting children" are out there, needing homes.

Pawhuska, Okla.

Wisconsin's prospects for school choice

I read with great interest and pleasure Robert Holland's column regarding the success school-choice proponents enjoyed on Election Day ("School choice comfort," Commentary, yesterday). However, I would add one caveat to Mr. Holland's optimism.
The election of Jim Doyle as governor of Wisconsin could be a big loss for school choice. Given Mr. Doyle's strong support from the teachers unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere, he could inflict serious damage on the current school-choice program and prevent students from receiving the education they desire. The governor of Wisconsin has one of the strongest line-item vetoes of any governor. Mr. Doyle could defund the program outright. Even more devastating for the children of Wisconsin, he could regulate it to death, which would provide ammunition for opponents to say that school choice does not work or that private schools will not participate in such programs. Either way, the election of Mr. Doyle could prove to be a big defeat for school-choice proponents and, more important, for the children who suffer from the lack of educational opportunities.

Playa del Rey, Calif.

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