- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top dog

“Once a year … dog shows are news in the larger culture, when New York’s Westminster Kennel Club holds its competition at Madison Square Garden. It’s a genuine tradition: The Westminster show has been held annually since 1877, and “Best in Show” has been awarded to one fortunate purebred each year since 1907.

“It is, perhaps, a little unfair, but over the decades the Westminster show has tended to conform to stereotype. There is a preponderance of well-bred, well-fed female owners and trainers, and exquisitely groomed male handlers, and the lucky dogs chosen for Best in Show have had a tendency to resemble the humans surrounding them. …

“That is, until last week. On February 11, a fetching 15-inch male beagle from Columbia, S.C., named Uno won the competition within the hound class, … the first time a beagle had won in its category since 1939. … By now, of course, readers are aware that, on the evening of February 12, Uno prevailed. Against a final field of competitors that included not one, but two specimens of sculpted poodle, the beagle was awarded Best in Show to the evident delight of the audience.”

Philip Terzian, writing on “The Beagle Has Landed:Triumph of the underdog,” in the Feb. 25 edition of the Weekly Standard

God talk

“Imagine how different things would be if the first caucus of the election season were held in the state of Manhattan and not in the state of Iowa. The candidates would surely dress a lot better than they do when breakfasting in Des Moines. Issues like rent stabilization and property taxes would be debated as if they had national security implications. And few politicians would feel compelled to thump the Bible or share their narrative of faith when addressing shivering lunchtime crowds in Central Park.

“But secular New York City is not America. It is not even remotely representative of America. In America, as we learned from the recent Iowa and South Carolina contests, a presidential aspirant must cite the Scriptures on the campaign trail. …

“It is hard to tell what flabbergasts secularists more: the fact that presidential hopefuls consistently invoke biblical verses and prattle on about their faith, or the fact that voters are actually swayed by those oratorical manipulations. … Many secularists are asking themselves in disbelief: Is our republic not founded on the principle of separation of church and state? Is not our citizenry wise enough to see faith-based pandering for what it is? Don’t politicians have any shame? Bullhorn tilted toward heaven, the 2008 presidential campaign has been [bent] on responding to those queries with a loud and distorted ‘No.’ ”

Jacques Berlinerbrau, writing on “The Candidates’ ‘God Talk’, ” in the Feb. 15 Chronicle of Higher Education

Save the Scouts

“As Michael Nutter was sworn in as [Philadelphia’s] 98th mayor last month, he called for a new wave of public service to clean up drug-infested neighborhoods. If he is serious about renewing volunteerism, he’ll start by putting an end to the city’s campaign against the Boy Scouts.

“On May 31, the Cradle of Liberty Council, the local Boy Scout chapter, will be evicted from its headquarters on 22nd and Winter streets — a space it has occupied since 1928. The eviction isn’t for a breach of contract. It comes at the behest of the City Council, which voted 16 to 1 last year to kick the Boy Scouts out unless they reverse the national Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gays serving in the ranks or as scoutmasters or start paying ‘market rent’ — about $200,000 a year. Local chapters can’t reverse national scouting policies. So it’s a matter of paying up or moving out.

“Here’s one suggestion: Sell the Scouts their building. … The Scouts could raise money for the purchase without touching resources needed for programs for the boys. If the goal is a safer city with an engaged citizenry, Mr. Nutter could find a way to keep the Boy Scouts in Philadelphia.”

Kevin Ferris, writing on “Philly’s War on the Boy Scouts,” in the Feb. 16 Philadelphia Inquirer

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