- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

Mixed-up faith-based cases

Two court cases are confused in an article featuring recent Supreme Court actions ("Secularists target prison charity," Nation, Tuesday). In Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the court upheld Ohio's school-voucher law in the face of a challenge on First Amendment grounds. Following that decision, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of FaithWorks Milwaukee and Wisconsin in Freedom from Religion Foundation vs. McCallum, finding that a program that provided state-funded beds for parolees and probationers in a faith-based drug rehabilitation center operated in a manner analogous to the school-voucher system. Judge Crabb's decision is under appeal.

The article is correct to call our attention to the significance of the Zelman decision vis-a-vis President Bush's faith-based initiative. It shows that when recipients of government vouchers have a genuinely free choice, their use of a voucher in a program heavily imbued with religion does not constitute governmental endorsement of or establishment of religion.

In other words, vouchers are currently the constitutionally "safest" means of funneling federal dollars to faith-based organizations.


JOSEPH M. KNIPPENBERG

Professor of politics

Oglethorpe University

Atlanta

Poles vs. panzers?

I enjoyedTony Blankley's column "France blackmails Poland" (Op-Ed, Wednesday). He is right that Poland was the first country to fight Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Indeed, it resisted harder than many other countries, despite being stabbed in the back by the Soviet Union's Red Army, which simultaneously invaded Poland from the east.

The wonderful picture Mr. Blankley paints, however, of Poles charging on horseback against German tanks is untrue, however romantic. The myth began with a Nazi propaganda movie from 1940. It was meant to depict, in the spirit of Jacques Chirac, that such "Untermenschen" as the Poles had to be ruled by the superior technologically and otherwise German "Volk."

Having said that, most European armies, including Germany's, were largely horse-drawn in the early stages of World War II. The honor of staging the last great, and victorious, cavalry charge on a European battlefield goes, I believe, to the Italian army on the Eastern Front in August 1942 during the battle of Isbuscenskij.


RADEK SIKORSKI

Former deputy minister of defense, Poland

Resident fellow

American Enterprise Institute

Washington

Warner needs to read Webster

What is it about the word illegal that Virginia Gov. Mark Warner doesn't understand ("Senate OKs end to tuition break," Metropolitan, Thursday)?

Webster's dictionary defines illegal as, first, "forbidden by law or statute" and, second, "contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations." In other words, illegal aliens are not supposed to be here. Calling them by euphemisms such as "undocumented workers" does not change the fact that they entered our country illegally.

Now Mr. Warner needs "to review the matter further" before signing the law requiring them to pay out-of-state tuition to attend the state's colleges and universities.

Why should my taxes go to subsidize the tuition for someone whose first act when entering this country was to break our laws and who must commit other crimes, such as obtaining a false Social Security number and other false documents, to remain here?

It used to be that before anyone came to the United States, he or she first had to have a sponsor who provided a job, medical care and a place to live. If the alien had so much as a pink eye, he or she was shipped back to country of origin. Yet not only is it acceptable today to be illegal, as Mr. Warner's dithering suggests, but people with tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases are no longer disqualified from entering the country.

Those who make a mockery of our laws should pay neither in-state nor out-of-state tuition. They should be shipped out of the country.


STELLA L. JATRAS

Sterling, Va.

A more-than-Spartan income

In Walter Williams' column, "Poverty in the nation" (Commentary, Thursday), he contends that a married couple, working for the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, is not poor because their annual income of $20,600 is almost twice the poverty-level cutoff for a two-person household ($12,000).

But do the math. Living in the D.C. metropolitan area, this couple would be lucky to find a one-bedroom apartment for $1,000 a month. Therefore, the cost of housing for a year eats up $12,000. Utilities for that home will run at least another $100 a month, or $1,200 a year. If the husband and wife share a single car, say a little Honda Civic, this will cost them perhaps $250 a month in car payments another $3,000 annually. Car insurance per year would be at least $500, and probably twice that. Gas will run them about $10 a week, so $520 a year. As for food, two persons should be able to get by on $50 a week, but that is still another $2,600 for the year. Clothing is not free, either. Clothing probably would cost at least $500 to buy him a suit or two, her a couple of dresses and a pair of shoes for each.

Notice that this budget allows for no frivolities: no weeklong trip to Disney World, no pizza delivered on Friday night, no visit to the movies once a month. Perhaps not even medical or dental checkups.

In all, their total costs already top $20,320. After a year of grueling 40-hour workweeks, the two members of this hypothetical, fun-eschewing family have less than $300 to save.

In fact, they do not even have that, for we did not count the taxes. Even if they pay no income tax, payroll taxes alone will amount to nearly $2,000, putting this family deeply in the red. So Mr. Williams is correct when he says that "a married couple both working at the minimum wage … would not be poor." Indeed, they are not just "poor" they are penniless.


RICHARD SMITH

Falls Church, Va.

U.S. is constitutionally treaty-bound

I believe Frederick Grab, former California deputy attorney general, is wrong in stating about the U.S. Constitution: "Nowhere in that magnificent document is provision made for the relegation of authority to foreign governments for matters such as war-making, movement of armed forces, conduct of diplomacy, etc., much less to a hodgepodge assembly of such governments thrown together a little over 50 years ago" ("The myth of international law," Op-Ed, Feb. 13).

In response, allow me to quote from Article VI of that "magnificent document": "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; …."

The United States has adhered to the Charter of the United Nations (that "hodgepodge assembly") by treaty, which was duly ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, as prescribed in Article II, Section 2.

Thus, in pursuance of what was perceived to be in its best interests, the United States voluntarily surrendered some of its rights to the international organization of which it was a principal architect. Such an arrangement is, indeed, constitutional.


ROGER D. LEONARD

Bowie, Md.


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