- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2003

Flying high

I’ve read how the airlines are offering a new program that allows grateful Americans the opportunity to donate their frequent-flier miles to servicemen and -women coming home on leave (“Military and families should fly for free,” Forum, Nov. 9). That is a great way for individuals to show their respect and help out personally.

But is it the best way for the airline industry to show its gratitude to the men and women who are fighting against terrorists? These are the terrorists who used their airplanes as weapons. The airline industry has suffered from terrorism backlash perhaps more than any other industry. Could they do more for those fighting to stop terrorism now?

Seats purchased with air miles do not produce revenue. I suggest establishing a new category of nonrevenue standby seating called “military leave.” Those on leave could request one of the nonrevenue seats — using the seats set aside for regular frequent fliers, if necessary. Military personnel on leave could use the military-leave seating in two ways:

• Using unsold seats: They are not producing revenue for the airlines. Why not offer these seats to military personnel free of charge?

• Place military-leave seats ahead of frequent-flier seats in the priority order for wait-listed seats.

The airline industry could then show its gratitude for those who are making the greatest direct effort to end terrorism.


Plano, Texas

The charitable season

I’m with a small federation of agencies that depend on charitable giving through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). We’re not partisan. Our agenda is to make a difference in our community. We’re Meals on Wheels, Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Food Pantry, Senior Center, etc.

Our agenda is helping people in need. Every dollar counts. Disingenuous editorials such as yours (“They are not all charitable,” Thursday) discourage rather than encourage. Your article implies that the CFC wrenches charitable giving out of federal employees. Check out the participation rate of giving among federal employees. You’ll be surprised how low it is.

In fact, the CFC raises so much because a few (relative to the number of federal employees) generous and caring federal employees consistently give year in and year out. They are truly angels, and those federal employees should be lauded by you. I always say it’s not how much you give, but that you give, and that just $1 a pay period can make a great difference in the lives of a lot of people. How hard would it have been to write a positive editorial on the need to give, to give generously, to give joyfully and to give wisely? (I assume you do know the donor can designate one or more agencies to give to, channeling money away from the agencies they do not agree with). Your editorial has just become one more excuse for the majority of federal employees to toss their pledge cards in the trash can. We need their help.

Unfortunately, you did nothing to encourage them to help us.


Martinsburg, W.Va.

No photos, please

A picture of Imam Ali appeared on the front page of your paper Nov. 15. If we Americans are to win the war against terrorism, we need to do so by being sensitive to the cultural and religious values of the majority of the Muslim population all over the world.

First, the picture of Imam Ali, who is regarded with great reverence by all Muslims, had no relevance to the article that was published below the picture, “Bush reassures Congress about Iraq.” How the publishers of this well-respected paper linked Imam Ali, who was the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad, to the war on terrorism, President Bush and Congress baffles the mind.

The Washington Times also should have exercised some caution before deciding to publish the picture. Islam does not allow widespread publication of pictures or posters of any prophets or members of their families. The pictures are especially prohibited from appearing in newspapers because newspapers often end up in garbage or even may be used to fold an order of fish and chips.

We may have won battles against terrorism. However, in order to win the war on terrorism, we need first to understand, learn and respect the value systems and religions of the world so the majority of the people can start to respect and understand us.



Specter’s ‘independence’

The Op-Ed in The Washington Times on Tuesday about the so-called “Specter problem” totally misses the point by ignoring Sen. Arlen Specter’s solid record of support on President Bush’s judicial nominees and prior confirmations.

Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, has voted for all of the president’s nominees, both in committee and on the floor.

Then, when the commentary argues the implications of Roe v. Wade, the writer ignores Mr. Specter’s long-standing rejection of any abortion litmus test on nominees and his votes to confirm William H. Rehnquist, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. No one doubts that Mr. Specter’s questioning of Anita Hill was indispensable to Justice Thomas’ confirmation, putting in jeopardy his Senate seat, which he won by a very narrow margin the next year.

Mr. Specter’s credibility on the Judiciary Committee has helped Mr. Bush’s nominees. Last year, under Mr. Specter’s leadership, Judge Brooks Smith was the only Bush nominee to be confirmed for a circuit court position after strong opposition by the Democrats. Now, Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher is on the verge of confirmation to the 3rd Circuit, with Mr. Specter’s strong support, with a majority of committee Democrats not voting for him.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Specter’s independence has been a special help to Republican presidents. For example, Mr. Bush called on Mr. Specter to go to Tallahassee during the presidential recount because of his credibility and expertise in constitutional law. Similarly, then-Vice President George Bush, while running for the presidency in 1988, called on Mr. Specter (a recognized expert from his days as Philadelphia’s district attorney) to challenge then-Gov. Michael Dukakis’ furlough program and hold a news conference outside the governor’s Boston office.

In the final days of the 1988 campaign, Mr. Specter provided critical support for the presidential campaign by supporting Mr. Bush’s attack on the Dukakis furlough program and defending the Willie Horton advertisement against critics who claimed it was racist.

Superficially, some may argue against a prospective chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, but on the facts, Mr. Specter has supported all of Mr. Bush’s nominees, has consistently rejected imposing a litmus test on pro-life nominees and is in a position to render unique assistance to Republican causes because of his standing and credibility.


Communications director and legal counsel

Sen. Arlen Specter


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