- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Reinstituting the draft

Yesterday's editorial raised excellent points about Rep. Charles B. Rangel's plans to introduce a bill to reinstitute the military draft ("Rangel's draft bill").
The 2.8-million member American Legion has long supported universal military training and Selective Service registration. Although America's overdeployed and undersized all-volunteer force performs admirably, both the House and Senate during the 108th Congress should hold hearings on how our nation will meet its long-term military manpower needs.
Perhaps Mr. Rangel, a Korean War veteran, can kick-start a constructive discourse on Capitol Hill.

National commander
American Legion

Sacrificing military preparedness is for the birds

By calling for the criminal prosecution of officers involved in the training of the U.S. Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal units, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has underscored the threat to U.S. military readiness posed by environmental activists ("Salmon sustenance vs. safety of sailors," Commentary, Sunday).
For years, environmental groups have filed lawsuits demanding the rigid enforcement of such statutes as the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammals Protection Act at military installations. They are making a mockery of the important business of training soldiers for battle.
Wide areas of the ocean beach at the naval amphibious base at Coronado, Calif., have been designated as "critical habitat" for two species of birds, the Western snowy plover and the least tern. When Navy SEALS practice landing their rubber boats during breeding season, they have to disrupt their tactical formations to move in narrow lanes, marked by green tape, to avoid disrupting potential nests. The result is what the Navy calls "negative training," the development of bad habits that, if repeated in combat, could cause casualties.
Similarly, at Fort Hood, Texas, unit commanders are forced to "work around" 66,000 acres, or one-third of the training area, to protect the habitat of the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. Such restrictions placed on soldiers' training reduce the realism of combat exercises and make them less prepared to cope with real battlefield situations.
Columnist Terence Jeffrey is right in urging Congress to put an end to this absurd situation by allowing the Defense Department to train soldiers and test weapons in areas specifically set aside for those purposes.

Senior fellow
Lexington Institute

Setting up Yogi and Boo Boo, too

A letter writer tries to argue that luring bears to piles of rotting meat and pastries and shooting them at point-blank range is somehow "humane" ("The humane aspect of bear baiting," Sunday). The truth is that of the 27 states that allow bear hunting, only nine permit this cruel and unsporting practice. Major hunting states such as Pennsylvania, Montana, Virginia and West Virginia all prohibit the shooting of bears that have been lured to bait.
Bear baiting litters our woods and forests with piles of baking grease, jelly doughnuts and even freshly killed animal carcasses, creating unsafe and unsightly conditions for the hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts who stumble across these noxious bait stations.
It also habituates bears to human food sources, making them much more likely to cause nuisance problems by searching for food in homes and campsites. Ironically, federal agencies that allow bear baiting have policies advising visitors not to feed bears for animal welfare and public safety concerns. As wildlife biologists say, "A fed bear is a dead bear."
In the past decade, residents in Colorado, Oregon and Washington have voted to ban bear baiting in their states. Congress should follow their lead and pass Rep. James P. Moran's sensible legislation to prohibit this inhumane and unsporting practice on federal lands.

Fund for Animals
Silver Spring

Homosexuals pooh-pooh pedophilia

Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media ("Dissing the 'Dish' about pedophilia," Letters, Dec. 28) defends the work on pedophilia done by Dr. Timothy Dailey of the Family Research Council (FRC) and questions the motives of International Lesbian and Gay Association delegates who voted in 1994 to expel the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and other pedophile groups.
I was there as a delegate at the ILGA World Conference in New York City in 1994, as Mr. Irvine was not, when we voted to expel the pedophile groups. There was a small minority defending NAMBLA, but they were defeated by an 89 percent majority after a debate that featured impassioned calls for the protection of children and youth from exploitation. That decision may have been long in coming, but it happened more than eight years ago. As part of the lead-up to the vote, I wrote an op-ed column, condemning pedophilia, that ran in several homosexual newspapers around the country.
If homosexuals are going to be condemned regardless of whether we do the right thing and our actions are going to be discounted based on groundless aspersions about our motives, then the problem is not with homosexuals but with those who are passing such biased judgments.
Any study done under the auspices of the FRC is suspect, given that organization's history of vicious, venomous attacks against homosexuals conducted without the slightest moral or intellectual scruple. The FRC's claims are not supported by the scientific community. Last spring, the homophobes had to resort to publishing their smears in the Regent University Law Review (yes, that's Pat Robertson's right-wing diploma mill) because they couldn't get published in a credible, peer-reviewed professional journal.
Mr. Irvine and his allies appear more interested in attacking homosexuals than in protecting children. In fact, homosexual youth also deserve understanding and protection. Denying the existence of such youth does not protect them any more than teens in general are protected by denying and rendering taboo any discussion of their sexuality.
Homosexual communities around the country have established service organizations to help and protect the very at-risk youth who have been thrown out of their houses by parents who were swayed by the likes of Mr. Irvine's friends at the FRC.
It is the intolerant religious right that is exploiting youth, in furtherance of their hateful political agenda. Fortunately, fewer and fewer Americans are buying it.

Vice president for political affairs
Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington

What is a Puerto Rican 'national?'

What in heaven's name is a "Puerto Rican national?" Michelle Malkin references such an individual in her column "Who's watching the White House?" (Commentary, Monday).
Nowhere does Mrs. Malkin explain why a "Puerto Rican national" might possess U.S. residency rights inaccessible to a "Mexican national" even though such an explanation is indispensable if readers are to understand how Salvador Martinez-Gonzalez managed for about two years to avoid expulsion from the United States despite being an undocumented Mexican who had access to the White House grounds.
The facts are as follows:
The term Puerto Rican national has no meaning. Persons born in Puerto Rico are automatically citizens of the United States. Mr. Martinez-Gonzalez was able to pose as an American precisely because he was able to pose as a Puerto Rican. For, after all, Puerto Ricans are Americans.

Senate minority leader
Cidra, Puerto Rico

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