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{Sunday, March 30, 2003}

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posted by STEVE 6:03 PM
On 3/30/03 8:35 PM, from Jerry:
"You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, The Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is
accusing the US of arrogance, and Germany doesn't want to go to war."

posted by STEVE 5:32 PM
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posted by STEVE 5:25 PM
Free-speech fans petition on behalf of Dixie Chicks
By RANDY LEWIS Los Angeles Times
March 27, 2003

Fans of the Dixie Chicks have started a freedom-of-speech petition seeking support for lead singer Natalie Maines after the South Carolina Legislature
last week adopted a resolution requesting an apology and a free concert for military families when the trio opens its U.S. tour in Greenville, S.C., in
May. State Rep. Catherine Ceips said she introduced the resolution because military personnel from the state were offended by Maines' comment that she was "ashamed" that President Bush is from Texas.
posted by STEVE 3:04 PM
Attack on Colleges' Aid to Minorities Widens

As the Supreme Court prepares itself to tackle affirmative action in university admissions this week, a new offensive is well under way against scholarships and summer programs intended to ease minority students into college life.

The Center for Equal Opportunity and the American Civil Rights Institute, two groups that oppose affirmative action, have threatened to file federal complaints against about 30 universities, contending that their reliance on race to determine eligibility for certain awards and academic enrichment programs violates civil rights law. The groups are also backing the case against the University of Michigan's admissions policies before the Supreme Court.

In the weeks since the letters have gone out, at least five universities have agreed to open their programs to white students or possibly cancel them. They are the University of Virginia, Iowa State University, the University of Delaware, Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first to be challenged by the two groups and the only one under review by the Department of Education.

Another university put on notice, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, unexpectedly eliminated virtually all its affirmative action policies this month under separate pressure from the state attorney general's office, but, after an outcry from students, faculty members and administrators that was swift and vociferous, its board has agreed to reconsider.

The challenge to minority scholarships and summer programs, often intended to encourage students who might otherwise not go to college, represents the widening of a separate but no less ideologically charged front in the fight over affirmative action.

Unlike Michigan's admissions policy, which considers race as one of many factors in reviewing applicants, many scholarships and enrichment programs serve minorities exclusively, often helping only a handful of students.

Though the value of such programs is not in dispute, their racial exclusivity creates what the two anti-affirmative action groups call "ill feelings, racial polarization and a general fraying of the fabric that holds our multiracial society together."

Edward Blum, legal director of the American Civil Rights Institute, said: "We're not out to kill these programs. What we're out to do is expand them to everyone." The institute's chairman, Ward Connerly, led the 1996 ballot initiative to ban affirmative action in California's government-sponsored programs.

Some colleges contend that their programs are not only consistent with federal law but essential to creating campuses in which minorities are not grossly underrepresented.

As federal figures show, more than 28 percent of whites over the age of 25 have completed at least four years of college, while fewer than 17 percent of blacks and 11 percent of Latinos have. Without taking steps to rectify that imbalance, the universities argue, parity may never come.

"This a core principle for us," said Marvin Krislov, general counsel for the University of Michigan.

Such programs often explicitly bar white students, making them "extremely difficult to defend" in court, the Department of Education says.

"It's unfortunate that the universities are caving in like this instead of defending what they believe in," said Angelo N. Ancheta, legal director for the Civil Rights Project at Harvard. "It would be one thing if the Supreme Court came out with a ruling that said `Your policy is unconstitutional.' But until that happens, why would you abandon it?"

The answer is simple, the anti-affirmative-action groups say: They have no intention of waiting to see what light, if any, the Supreme Court's ruling on admissions will shed on these auxiliary programs. Their complaints will be filed in weeks, not months.

"It was not necessary to take the legal risk we were taking," Paul Tanaka, university counsel at Iowa State, said, explaining why his school had opened a summer internship program to white students. "We have to face the fact that the direction of the courts has been very much against the consideration of race at all."
posted by STEVE 2:21 PM
Thousands in Boston Demand End of War
By FOX BUTTERFIELD - The New York Times

BOSTON, March 29 — About 25,000 people held a peaceful protest march through downtown Boston today in what organizers said was the largest antiwar march here since Vietnam.

The march snarled traffic for hours this afternoon in the fashionable Back Bay section of the city, as the police cordoned off streets to cars. At one point, the protesters laid down on Boylston Street for 10 minutes to symbolize people being killed in Iraq.

The marchers were orderly and there were no immediate reports of arrests, said David Estrada, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department.

One reason for the lack of arrests may have been that at the direction of Paul Evans, the city's police commissioner, hundreds of police officers walked beside the protest marchers, and when there were chance confrontations with other people shouting support for American troops in Iraq, the police swiftly stepped between the rival groups.

The antiwar marchers came from as far away as Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, though many of them were students or professors at the numerous colleges and universities that provide an important part of Boston's culture and economy.

Typical of these marchers was Phyllis Freeman, a 54-year-old professor of public health at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "Even if the president isn't listening, we want people in other countries to know we don't agree with what our president is doing," Professor Freeman said.

There was also a large number of older people and children marching with their parents.

Mary Delavalette, a 67-year-old retiree from Peabody, a suburb north of Boston, said: "I'm ashamed to be an American. This is an illegal, immoral war. It's for evil, for empire."

Janet O'Connor, 68, from Worcester, said this was the first protest march she had ever joined. "I'm a pacifist," Ms. O'Connor said. "I don't believe in war. War is not the answer."

She came today because "I decided it was time to act upon my words and preach peace," Ms. O'Connor said. She was with her daughter, Cara O'Connor, 30, of Portsmouth, N.H.

"This is not the United States I want to be associated with," Cara O'Connor said. "I want us to be a peaceful, caring nation. We do so many wonderful things in this world, and they are overshadowed by war."

The march was organized by a group, United for Justice with Peace, that said it was discouraging any acts of civil disobedience or violence.

Hundreds of the marchers chanted or banged on drums. One placard read: "Why not bomb Texas? They have oil too."

Another read, "Bush is killing our country."

A police helicopter flew overhead during the four-hour march, which began and ended on the Boston Common.

On the edge of Beacon Hill, Norma Jones, a resident, was standing guard outside her brownstone to protect it from marchers who tried to sit on her stoop.

The march was "disgusting," Ms. Jones said.

"This is a terrible thing that we let them take over our streets while our boys are overseas," Ms. Jones said.

"Why don't they go over there and try to live?" she asked. "To me it's a slam against our country. Why can't they support our country and our president?"

posted by STEVE 11:17 AM
"What will this nation be in years to come?"
A historian foresees a United States that crushes opposition around the world and tolerates little dissent at home.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Andrew O'Hehir
March 24, 2003  | The president of the United States has just begun a military campaign of questionable legality against a nation that has not attacked us in any direct or obvious manner. A young Illinois congressman introduces a censure measure in the House of Representatives while the war is still in progress, arguing that the president's justification for war is "from beginning to end the sheerest deception." The president, this young congressman argues, would have "gone further with his proof if it had not been for the small matter that the truth would not permit him."

Challenging the commander-in-chief directly, the resolution continues: "Let him answer fully, fairly and candidly. Let him answer with facts and not with arguments ... Let him attempt no evasion, no equivocation."

The year, needless to say, is not 2003 and the war in question does not involve Iraq. The resolution was introduced in 1848 to challenge President James K. Polk's handling of the Mexican-American War, and the young Illinois congressman was named Abraham Lincoln. This example was brought to the public's attention recently by Stanley I. Kutler, a professor of history and law at the University of Wisconsin, in an angry opinion article published in the Chicago Tribune on March 19 and subsequently disseminated far and wide via the Internet.

In his article, Kutler bemoans the "passivity" and "sense of powerlessness" he sees everywhere in American life. "The freedom and diversity we so cherish for others is strikingly lacking in our public discourse," he argues, challenging his readers not to forget the "traditions of challenge and dissent" represented by Lincoln's scathing wartime denunciation of Polk.

To be sure, there is some genuine dissent to be found in America, even once the bombs started falling. A great deal of it has been in the streets of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and other major liberal-leaning cities, but some has even surfaced in Washington. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. and former President Jimmy Carter have spoken out openly against President Bush's campaign against Iraq. On Thursday, a group of six dissenting congressional Democrats, including Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, held a press conference to express their opposition to the Iraq war, at least until a representative of the House Democratic leadership reportedly tried to squelch them.

Those who tried and failed to stop the war against Iraq, whether in the streets or in the halls of Congress, may well be feeling dispirited and depressed in the face of the Pentagon's "Shock and Awe" campaign and the propagandistic, wall-to-wall war coverage of the major news networks. But when Salon reached Kutler at his home in Verona, Wis., he argued that the antiwar campaign could be viewed as the beginning of a struggle and not its end. The author of "The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon" (1990) and editor of "Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes" (1997) points out that the Iraq war is not likely to last long. While many commentators on both the left and right have begun to discuss the future of that troubled nation, post-Saddam, Kutler is more interested in the future of the United States.

In your Chicago Tribune article, you point out that many people have criticized sitting presidents during wartime, from the Mexican-American War to the Civil War and both world wars. Why do we see so little of that in the public discourse today?

Well, in days gone by, meaning the 1960s, we used to say he who controls the mimeograph controls the revolution. Now, the government controls the microphone and the camera.

I was in my car on Thursday, when all this was beginning, listening to Ari Fleischer on the radio. Listen, Josef Goebbels would have been proud of him! He talks about the coalition of the willing, when perhaps a better term would be the coalition of the coerced. He talked about the 45 nations or whatever it is, whose populations include X number of people and who represent Z trillion dollars in gross national product. I mean, what the hell is that about? It's utterly meaningless and irrelevant.

Basically, the media has not served us well in this crisis. It has been very, very passive. Essentially, they were eager to get this supreme television production and now they've got it, they're busy producing it.

So what lies ahead?

This war will be over in days, if not hours. How could anybody have doubted that? Now come the hard questions that we have to grapple with. First, of course is the question of what we do about Iraq. Second, and maybe more important, what are we going to do about us?

Meaning the United States and its international posture?

Yes. I mean, if we're going to go after every country with weapons of mass destruction, does that mean [Defense Policy Board chairman] Richard Perle gets to have his war with the Chinese now? Are we going to get rid of the Russians at long last? What about the French? I tell you what, Tony Blair better not look at us funny, or he's on the list too. I'm serious about this: Is Richard Perle going to run our lives now?

Fleischer had to remind reporters at a White House press conference that Perle doesn't actually work for the government in any official, paid capacity.

I'll bet he said all that with a straight face. Nixon at least did us the favor of perspiring on his upper lip when he lied. Fleischer is a hoot. As for Richard Perle, did you see the story about him today [March 21] in the New York Times? Perle is getting paid $725,000 to advise [the telecommunications firm] Global Crossing, and we're supposed to believe he's not peddling his influence with Donald Rumsfeld. In any other country, that would be a major scandal.

He also reportedly addressed a Goldman Sachs conference about how to make money off the war. The media is beginning to pay attention to him, certainly, in the wake of the Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker, which provoked Perle to call Hersh a "terrorist." Why isn't that a bigger story than it is?

The media can only do one story at a time. I don't know why. I mean, they all went to college and took at least four classes at the same time.

Let's get back to what you said was now the central question. Are you saying that what happens in Iraq is less important than what happens here at home?

I'm saying there are two questions: What are we going to do about Iraq? And what are we going to do about ourselves, the United States? Are we really in a new world order, where the United States can look around the world and say, "OK, you be evil, you be gone." Maybe we are, I don't know.

But the central question, I think, is what this nation will be in years to come. Saddam Hussein is a gnat, a pimple on the elephant's ass. He doesn't matter. Ants cannot defeat elephants.

But when things quiet down, after this war is over, you and the other people in the media should draw a road map explaining how we got here -- how we got from Sept. 11, 2001, to a United Nations resolution aimed at disarming Iraq that passed 15-0, to a point where no more than four members of the Security Council were willing to go to war.

I mean, I remember that after Sept. 11, President Bush promised us a "long twilight struggle" against terrorism, a war conducted in the shadows. That's a war, by the way, that the French and Germans have been very busy with. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, oddly enough, commending them for their work in that area.

You're suggesting that the government is working through propaganda, essentially through lies. And you've already compared Ari Fleischer to Goebbels. What kind of a state is the United States turning into, in your view? What historical parallels suggest themselves?

I'm not going to answer that. I just refuse to do that. You can't study history by analogy. I tell my students you can study law by analogy, but not history.

You mean that every situation is different. OK, then without recourse to analogy. What kind of state is the U.S. becoming?

Well, we have an administration that says this is how we're going to protect the United States: We're going to engage in preemptive war, which is certainly against our tradition. We have unelected leaders like Richard Perle saying that the U.N. is dead and thank God it's dead. If you're not with us, you're against us. We have a Congress debating what it foolishly calls partial-birth abortion and changing the name of French fries to freedom fries. What is that?

We have made it clear we will brook no disagreement or dissension. We are no longer in a world of equals. Might is right and don't tread on me. That's what we're saying.

So you view this U.S. administration as dangerous to the rest of the world?

Well, their ideas are expressing contempt for rest of the world, and they are menacing the rest of the world. That speaks for itself, I think.

So you think the question now for people on the left, people who did not support the war ...

Never mind the left. Why are you asking me about the left?

Our standing in the world, and our behavior in the world to come, is really the question now. The question is what kind of opposition do we have, and what it's opposed to.

The line right now is that you can't criticize the president because we're under attack. I had a reporter from Newsweek call me for a comment about some protesters who vomited on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. Why would you want to print that? They only wanted to print that in order to mock the protest movement, by paying attention to some asshole who's going to do that. In my day we called that "left infantilism."

What we need now is an opposition not just to this war but to this entire policy, this entire approach to the world. And I think there are people in both parties who are dubious about this whole range of issues. Sen. Chuck Hagel [R-Neb.] actually learned something from Vietnam. Sen. Charles Grassley [R-Iowa], I think, is pretty skeptical about this whole thing.

Hell, you can't rely on the Democratic Party. That's a joke.

posted by STEVE 10:23 AM
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posted by STEVE 10:20 AM
Delusions of Power
March 28, 2003
By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times

They considered themselves tough-minded realists, and
regarded doubters as fuzzy-minded whiners. They silenced
those who questioned their premises, even though the
skeptics included many of the government's own analysts.
They were supremely confident - and yet with shocking speed
everything they had said was proved awesomely wrong.

No, I'm not talking about the war; I'm talking about the
energy task force that Dick Cheney led back in 2001. Yet
there are some disturbing parallels. Right now, pundits are
wondering how Mr. Cheney - who confidently predicted that
our soldiers would be "greeted as liberators" - could have
been so mistaken. But a devastating new report on the
California energy crisis reminds us that Mr. Cheney has
been equally confident, and equally wrong, about other

In spring 2001 the lights were going out all over
California. There were blackouts and brownouts, and the
price of electricity was soaring. The Cheney task force was
convened in the midst of that crisis. It concluded, in
brief, that the energy crisis was a long-term problem
caused by meddling bureaucrats and pesky environmentalists,
who weren't letting big companies do what needed to be
done. The solution? Scrap environmental rules, and give the
energy industry multibillion-dollar subsidies.

Along the way, Mr. Cheney sneeringly dismissed energy
conservation as a mere "sign of personal virtue" and
scorned California officials who called for price controls
and said the crisis was being exacerbated by market
manipulation. To be fair, Mr. Cheney's mocking attitude on
that last point was shared by almost everyone in politics
and the media - and yes, I am patting myself on the back
for getting it right.

For we now know that everything Mr. Cheney said was wrong.

In fact, the California energy crisis had nothing to do
with environmental restrictions, and a lot to do with
market manipulation. In 2001 the evidence for manipulation
was basically circumstantial. But now we have a new report
from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which until
now has discounted claims of market manipulation. No more:
the new report concludes that market manipulation was
pervasive, and offers a mountain of direct evidence,
including phone conversations, e-mail and memos. There's no
longer any doubt: California's power shortages were largely
artificial, created by energy companies to drive up prices
and profits.

Oh, and what ended the crisis? Key factors included energy
conservation and price controls. Meanwhile, what happened
to that long-term shortage of capacity, which required
scrapping environmental rules and providing lots of
corporate welfare? Within months after the Cheney report's
release, stock analysts were downgrading energy companies
because of a looming long-term-capacity glut.

In short, Mr. Cheney and his tough-minded realists were
blowing smoke: their report described a fantasy world that
bore no relation to reality. How did they get it so wrong?

One answer is that Mr. Cheney made sure that his task
force included only like-minded men: as far as we can tell,
he didn't consult with anyone except energy executives. So
the task force was subject to what military types call
"incestuous amplification," defined by Jane's Defense
Weekly as "a condition in warfare where one only listens to
those who are already in lock-step agreement, reinforcing
set beliefs and creating a situation ripe for

Another answer is that Mr. Cheney basically drew his advice
about how to end the energy crisis from the very companies
creating the crisis, for fun and profit. But was he in on
the joke?

We may never know what really went on in the energy task
force since the Bush administration has gone to
extraordinary lengths to keep us from finding out. At first
the nonpartisan General Accounting Office, which is
supposed to act as an internal watchdog, seemed determined
to pursue the matter. But after the midterm election,
according to the newsletter The Hill, Congressional
Republicans approached the agency's head and threatened to
slash his budget unless he backed off.

And therein lies the broader moral. In the last two years
Mr. Cheney and other top officials have gotten it wrong
again and again - on energy, on the economy, on the budget.
But political muscle has insulated them from any adverse
consequences. So they, and the country, don't learn from
their mistakes - and the mistakes keep getting bigger.   

posted by STEVE 10:14 AM
Mar 27, 2:26 PM EST
House Approves National Day of Prayer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House passed a resolution Thursday calling for a national day of humility, prayer and fasting in a time of war and terrorism.

The resolution, passed 346-49, says Americans should use the day of prayer "to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities, and to gain resolve
in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."

Under the resolution, President Bush would issue a proclamation designating a specific day as a day of "humility, prayer and fasting."

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said officials there had not looked at the resolution but "the president believes that faith and prayer are important and frequently references the importance of praying for American troops and for
freedom around the world."

A similar resolution approved on March 17 said it was the sense of the Senate that that day should be a national day of prayer and fasting.

During Wednesday's House debate, some lawmakers expressed concern about the measure.

Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a presidential hopeful and an opponent of the war in Iraq, said the resolution "may be seen by some as an attempt to inject religion into this war at a time when some of America's enemies
abroad are asserting that this indeed is a war about religion."
posted by STEVE 9:17 AM
Lawmakers charge White House with stifling anti-war dissent

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A small but increasingly vocal contingent of Democratic lawmakers opposed to the US-led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites) accused the White House of stifling dissent by those who oppose the war.

"What we're beginning to see is a concerted attempt to attack anyone who dissents," Congressman Sam Farr said at a press conference called Thursday by a handful of Democratic politicians who feel that the war against Iraq is misguided.

Even among legislators in the Republican party, "there are consequences to pay if you don't go all with the administration's leadership," Farr said, arguing that Republicans who voted against the White House budget proposals have been threatened with the loss of coveted committee seats.

"Where are we going? Healthy dissent is as American as apple pie," Farr said.

The California congressman added that he saw a certain irony in the alleged White House pressure tactics, noting "our troops are fighting for (Iraq) to be able to have freedom of speech."

Another Democrat, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, said alleged efforts by US leaders to hush the voices of dissenters extend even to other countries traditionally allied with Washington, citing in particular Mexico and Canada.

"I think we are making a very dramatic mistake to isolate longstanding allies on the basis of their sovereign decisions not to proceed in a coalition on the war in Iraq," she said.

With respect to street demonstrations in this country, Jackson Lee said: "We are doing a great disservice by maligning and disrespecting and accusing protesters of being filled with communist ideas."

Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who has said he will run for the White House in 2004, organized the press conference, is a longstanding opponent to the war which he described to reporters as "unjustified."
posted by STEVE 9:14 AM