- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Britain: ‘closest ally and most loyal friend’

Newspapers and television stations are showing pictures of demonstrations against President Bush (“Bush welcomes protests as sign of British freedom,” Nation, Tuesday). They do not represent the views of the majority of the British people. Opinion polls published recently have shown that a majority support the president’s visit.

The majority of people in Britain have not forgotten the sacrifices of America’s youth over the past century to keep Europe free. We stand beside you now in Iraq and Afghanistan for similar aims.

We welcome the president, and we are proud to stand with him and the United States. Please do not let a vocal minority spoil your images of your closest ally and most loyal friend.

MATTHEW KNOWLES

Essex, England

Washington-style politics

I beg to differ with Greg Pierce’s recent item ” ‘All-purpose smear’ ” (Inside Politics, Nation, Tuesday), claiming that charges levied against former Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee Chairman Richard Perle were an “all-purpose Washington smear.”

A close reading of the inspector general’s report would indicate that Mr. Perle’s conduct raises real conflict-of-interest issues. There is no doubt that Mr. Perle had an important role in shaping our nation’s defense policy and heavily influenced the mobilization of our war machine in Iraq, along with all the defense contracts and profits that follow. The IG’s report confirmed that while guiding this effort, Mr. Perle benefited financially by working for firms with major business before the Department of Defense.

The report notes that Mr. Perle appears to have represented Global Crossing and Loral in matters pending before the Defense Department, but escaped violations of the conflict-of-interest laws by virtue of the fact that he was considered to be in the board’s employ less than the required 60-day period. Mr. Perle went so far as to sign an affidavit claiming that his position as chairman of the Defense Policy Board gave him a “unique perspective on and intimate knowledge of national defense and security issues.” The fact that the offending language subsequently was removed from the affidavit doesn’t change the reality of the assertion or the awkwardness of the conflict.

My legislation responds to the loopholes highlighted by the IG’s report by merely ensuring that persons such as the chairman of the Defense Policy Board are treated as if they worked for the government for 60 days.

This would ensure that persons awarded with the public trust through prominent public positions do not use that trust to feather their own nests financially. At a time when we are asking our soldiers to make so many sacrifices, I hardly think it is too much to ask the chairman of the Defense Policy Board to refrain from representing clients with financial interests before the Defense Department.

REP. JOHN CONYERS JR.

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington

An F for effort

If people were surprised by the most recent Montgomery County Public Schools scandal, at Sherwood High School, they certainly should not have been (“Errors cited in report card flap,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). It is just the latest in a long, long list of bobbling, bungling and buffoonery in the Republic of Montgomery County.

Actually, this scandal of providing class grades to a student who has never attended Sherwood should be seen as a prime example of the school board’s policy plan of removing the “lost credit” rule for our public schools. This lunacy would, in essence, allow our students to miss every class and still be eligible to pass the course. It seems that the first test was a rousing success.

For officials such as Brian Porter, director of the school system’s Department of Communications; Superintendent Jerry D. Weast; or County Executive Douglas M. Duncan to feign surprise at the incident is to redefine naivete. These three musketeers of educational mutation continue to drive our school system deeper into the hole of perpetual failure. The hand-wringing “social engineers” at the Montgomery County School Board show signs of despair, yet continue to draw their fat paychecks.

For those of us who have actually stood before a class, as I have done for five years as a substitute teacher in Montgomery County, it is clear that the problems are as obvious as the solutions. Our students are offered a curriculum designed by social scientists with more focus on social than science, supported by special-interest-group “leadership” more interested in Armani than arithmetic and overseen by local politicians dedicated to the country club rather than computer excellence. Individual achievement is a thing of the past, and academic accountability and responsibility are nonexistent.

The Sherwood scandal is no more a surprise than “grade inflation,” graduating seniors who can neither read nor write well enough to function in society and the growing number of county public school graduates who must take remedial classes to gain college admission.

When 50 percent of the public school applicants who take the placement tests at Montgomery College cannot pass to gain entrance, the system is broken beyond repair. The creators of this Frankenstein system must be removed, be they elected, appointed or just hired help. A clean slate is the first step to redemption.

WILSON L. FARIS

Gaithersburg Md.

Lawfully wedded?

There is simply no evidence that the primary purpose of marriage has evolved to include homosexuals (“Massachusetts OKs gay ‘marriage,’ ” Page 1, yesterday). What has evolved is the desire of some same-sex partners to change the definition of marriage in order to have access to the institution. Herein lies the real discrimination.

The latest Massachusetts ruling on homosexual “marriages” represents a regressive ethic.

The fact that many people have been drawn away from Judeo-Christian values does not invalidate the family as the fundamental cell of society. The family — and through it, all human society — has its source and origin in marriage. Marriage is still ordered to the procreation and education of offspring, even if this has eluded the minds and hearts of contemporary man. As the basic expression of man’s social nature, marriage can only be understood as the lawful union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Let us hope that the U.S. Supreme Court has the greater foresight and fortitude and that its members work to uphold the institution of marriage as it is defined and not deconstruct it to appear as merely an expression of free love.

PAUL KOKOSKI

Hamilton, Ontario


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