- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 15, 2003

Dodging the draft

In his Wednesday Op-Ed column, “To arms,” Tony Blankley argues that the youth of America needs to be sacrificed for the greater good and hints that we may need the draft to do it. YetifmilitantIslamists threaten our lives, freedom and prosperity, defending against them is not a sacrifice for the “greater good.” What good could be greater than defending one’s own life and happiness? Why does Tony Blankley ignore one’s selfish interest in defending one’s freedom?

Why? Because Mr. Blankley, like many conservatives, considers selflessness and not selfish interest to be the moral ideal. Even though America is a nation dedicated to protecting the life, liberty and happiness of the individual, conservatives are forever conflicted by the problem of the “greater good” and how best to sacrifice to it.

Yet an individualist sacrifices to no one. He lives for himself, and to appeal to him, you must appeal to his values. To persuade young men and women to serve in the military, you need impress upon them the gravity of the threat today and the manner in which it impacts them. You need to convince them of the benefits of the martial lifestyle and pay them enough so that the cost of their time in service is not the derailment of every other aspect of their lives. Finally, you must keep the promise that if they are wounded or fall in battle, they and their loved ones will be cared for by a grateful nation.

Yes, America has a host of threats arrayed against it. We do not answer those threats by betraying our core values or sacrificing our freedom. The idea of the draft should be anathema to any person dedicated to human freedom. It takes men and women of substance to successfully defend the nation. Such men and women are not found by draft boards.

NICHOLAS PROVENZO

Chairman

Center for the Advancement of Capitalism

Alexandria

The advantages of joint custody

This is in reference to the Oct. 21 article that said the rising number of divorces, separations and never-married parents in the 1970s and 1980s stabilized in the 1990s (“U.S. marriage trends stabilize in 1990s,” Page 1).

It is good news that government sources reflect a slowing down of most marriage-weakening trends. One trend that has contributed to this slowing down of divorces is, surprisingly, the strong rise of joint custody (shared parenting). Joint custody is legal in all 50 states and is a presumption or preference in 27 states and the District of Columbia, although in some states it is a preference or presumption only if both parents agree. Joint custody became a rebuttable presumption in the District in 1996.

Data from the Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the states with the greatest amount of physical joint custody in 1989 and 1990 had the lowest divorce rates in 1991 through 1995. Data is available for just 19 states, and data collection was ended after 1995.

The states with the highest amount of physical joint custody and highest decline in the divorce rate are Kansas and Connecticut, but Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Alaska, Rhode Island and Wyoming all scored well in at least one of the two categories. (See the full report on the Children’s Rights Council’s Web site, www.gocrc.com.)

The government data did not explain why divorce goes down in states with strong shared parenting, but it seems that if a parent knows he or she will have to interact with the child’s other parent while the child is growing up, there is less incentive to divorce.

You can “X” your “ex” out of your life if you don’t have children, but if you do have children, you generally will need and want to interact with the other parent for the life of the child. This prospect of interaction apparently slows down, at least for some parents, the rush to divorce.

Physical joint custody occurs when a child spends from a third of the time up to about a 50/50 split of time with each parent over a year. This is far more than the “every other weekend” visitation of Friday to Sunday that commonly is given by judges for many children of separated, divorced and never-married parents.

Joint custody is another term for encouraging the involvement of both fathers and mothers — and extended family — in raising the child. Children reared by two parents are less likely to get involved in drugs and crime and more likely to do better academically.

As shared parenting becomes more of a way of life in the District, I expect that researchers will notice a decline in the crime and drug rate in the city, but it will take time. Unfortunately, the custody forms pro se litigants get at Superior Court still do not reflect, seven years after the joint-custody law took effect, that joint custody is preferred over sole custody for most parents in the District.

Despite this, joint custody is growing throughout the United States and must be counted as one of the stabilizers of the family and a factor in reducing the divorce rate.

DAVID L. LEVY

President

Children’s Rights Council

Hyattsville

An exhibition of pontification

Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee and his Republican colleagues engaged in a 39-hour marathon of preaching “to the choir” (“The marathon of judges,” Op-Ed, Thursday).

My first knee-jerk reaction upon hearing of this dialogue was, “What a monumental waste of time.” However, I watched for quite a while one evening as senators from both parties pontificated before their ardent, if not blind, ideological supporters. Who else do they really believe is watching? Mr. Frist and company decry that Democrats in the Senate are voting in block to prevent votes on judicial nominees in a manner Mr. Frist says violates our Constitution.

Like the police captain in “Casablanca” who claims, “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here” just as someone hands him his winnings, Mr. Frist and the Republicans are shocked at the trampling of our Constitution. Yet Congress, the executive branch (through presidents) and the judiciary have been engaged in competition with one another since our Constitution was ratified to see which branch could trample it “best” to usurp power denied them by that very Constitution.

“I’m shocked, I’m shocked,” Mr. Frist cries. From its inception, our American republic has stood united by the concept of the rule of law — not by duty or fealty to king or state, but as sovereign citizens who, regardless of party or faction, placed adherence to the rule of law under our written Constitution above all else. This was the glue that held our nation together, the “tie that binds,” that made us one nation.

All of our elected so-called public servants and the judiciary appointed to apply, not interpret, that Constitution imperil this nation each and every time they ignore, violate and trample the very Constitution they swore oaths to obey, honor and defend. They place ideology, political party and acquisition of power above their duty to serve the people in obeying, honoring and defending our Constitution and the rule of law. When honored and defended, our Constitution binds our people together as the greatest protector of liberty and freedom the world has ever known. When disobeyed, dishonored and disregarded, our Constitution becomes nothing more than words on paper, and our republic as divisible as mere paper torn asunder.

Sen. Frist, Sen. Daschle, Rep. Hastert, Rep. Pelosi, President Bush, Chief Justice Rehnquist: “We the people” have chosen you to obey, honor and defend our Constitution, our republic and our rule of law against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Do that. Do it faithfully and unswervingly, and the United States of America will not only continue, but our greatest days certainly will still be before us. Do what you and your predecessors have been doing, are doing today, and that city on a hill whose light has been the light of democracy, a beacon for all those seeking to crawl from beneath tyranny and oppression, will cease.

CHARLES D. JONES

Columbus, Ohio


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