Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
Gail Russell Chaddock, writing for the Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA) (March 3, 2004)
One criticism of John Kerry's early Senate investigations was that, in his own words, they"looked at strange and nefarious types that people did not take seriously." On Oct. 24, 1991, that rap ended.
On the other side of the witness table in the vast Hart Senate hearing room was seated Washington powerbroker Clark Clifford - a man who'd played poker with Winston Churchill and advised every Democratic president since Harry Truman. He was an icon in official Washington, especially for Democrats with an eye on the Oval Office.
But Mr. Clifford was also implicated in a $ 20 billion-plus criminal banking enterprise across 73 countries - unwittingly, he said. Top party activists, including uber-fundraiser Pamela Harriman, had urged Senator Kerry not to embarrass Clifford by calling him to testify.
It was a defining moment for Kerry, whose investigations, more than his legislative record, have been highlights of his 19-year Senate career. He told staff to"get the truth out" and follow evidence where it led - even to the heights of his party...
...As a fourth term US Senator, Kerry's legislative record is modest; Few bills bear his name. His 6,310 Senate votes, mainly liberal, have enough twists and turns to invite charges of inconsistency. But his signature investigations were models of dogged, even relentless focus, and may tell more about his persona and likely attributes as a president than anything else he has done in his 19 years in the Senate.
His probes included tracking illegal gunrunners to the Reagan White House (1985-86), drug traffickers to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega (1988), and Mr. Noriega's dirty money to BCCI and some of the top powerbrokers in Washington (1987-92)...
...If he makes it to the White House, Kerry will be only the third US senator in history - after Warren Harding and John Kennedy - to go straight from Capitol Hill to the presidency. And neither got there by writing great laws.
It's an irony of politics that a strong legislative resume may be more likely to sink a presidential bid than to make one. Thousands of votes make too big a target, experts say. And the grind of making laws rarely helps a newcomer make a name.
Early on, Kerry took the road prospected by John F. Kennedy: nailing a big oversight investigation. For Kennedy, it was corruption in the Teamsters union - a high-profile probe including recognizable villains, misdeeds you can talk about over breakfast, and television coverage...
...Even before his Senate career began, Kerry had made his way into public life by asking questions. Best known is his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a witness for Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1971 when he queried:"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
Elected to the US Senate in 1984, he gave up a prized offer to be on the Senate Appropriations committee and joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee instead. It was a sign of longstanding interest in world affairs, fed by his father's career involvement in the foreign service. Kerry's internationalist views echo today in his calls for repairing relations with longtime allies in Europe...
...Later, he turned his investigative attention to how to spend the"peace dividend" after the end of the cold war. Kerry warned that a more dangerous war was already taking shape, with global crime organizations that corrupted entire governments, especially the"Big Five" - the Italian Mafia, Russian mobs, Chinese triads, Japanese yakuza, and Colombian drug cartels."It will take only one megaterrorist event in any of he great cities of the world to change the world in a single day," he wrote in his 1997 book,"The New War: The Web of Crime that Threatens America's Security."
Nearly absent from Kerry's watch list are Islamic terrorist groups, including those affiliated with Osama bin Laden, who reconstituted a network for terrorist money laundering in the Sudan after the collapse of BCCI.
But by then, Democrats had lost control of the Senate and Kerry had lost his mandate for pursuing investigations. As the Kerry operation wound down, Blum says Kerry wanted to get into"the whole bizarre relationship between US intelligence and Muslim radicals who were training in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but time ran out. And on both the Democratic side and the Republican side, there was no stomach for it, because we were winning the cold war. It turns out that was a grotesque mistake."...
...But if he has tried to take on the role of a Senate private eye, Kerry has also revealed his approach to issues through votes on policy - amassing a record that is not as reflexively liberal as some portray.
In his first year in the Senate, Kerry was an early supporter of the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, which required Congress to work within deficit-reduction targets...
...He opposed much of the Reagan defense buildup. He voted against the Persian Gulf War in 1991, but backed the 2002 resolution to use force in Iraq. GOP opponents hope to use such votes to define Kerry as soft on national defense."He seems to think that because he is a war hero, that he gets a free pass on national security issues. The fact is he voted to gut American intelligence-gathering capacity and fought every meaningful new weapons system since he has come to Washington," says House majority leader Tom DeLay.
The liberal label may be most apt on environmental and social issues. He has supported gun control, abortion rights, and legislation promoting the civil rights of homosexuals. On this year's hot controversy, he says he opposes gay marriage and supports civil unions.
Scripps Howard, writing for the Newsday (New York) (March 2, 2004)
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush isn't the first to come up with the idea of a marriage amendment to the Constitution.
Theodore Roosevelt proposed a similar amendment in 1906, saying Congress should be given authority to set national marriage and divorce standards.
Historian Kathleen Dalton said the issue then wasn't gay marriage, but Mormon practices of polygamy and quickie 60-day divorces in Reno, Nev.
Dalton, author of"Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life," said marriage concerns struck a chord with American progressives.
"Roosevelt was a moralist who believed a lot of political questions had moral issues to them," Dalton said. She noted that Roosevelt was opposed to birth control and campaigned against divorce and in favor of public flogging of wife-beaters.
In 1906, the country was still mired in issues from the 1896 admission of Utah into the Union, which sparked a debate over Mormon practices of polygamy. Dalton said that the Women's Christian Temperance Union met with Roosevelt to get his support for traditional marriage, and that the president already was upset at the wealthy, who could afford to use divorce laws in Reno to get out of their marriages.
"The issue then was not one man and one woman, but one man and several women," she said.
In his State of the Union address in 1906, Roosevelt urged Congress to tackle the marriage question, even though the federal government traditionally had left social matters to the states.
"I am well aware of how difficult it is to pass a constitutional amendment," Roosevelt told lawmakers."Nevertheless, in my judgment the whole question of marriage and divorce should be relegated to the authority of the national Congress ... and surely there is nothing so vitally essential to the welfare of the nation, nothing around which the nation should so bend itself to throw every safeguard, as the home life of the average citizen. The change would be good from every standpoint."
Joanne Mariner, a FindLaw columnist and human rights attorney, in Findlaw.com (March 1, 2004):
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, president of Haiti until yesterday, has ceded power. Pressed to resign by the U.S. and French governments, and facing a threatened rebel assault on Port-au-Prince, Aristide was flown out of the country early Sunday morning.
By the end of the day, the U.S. had already sent the first military troops of a planned multinational force to restore order to Haiti. It marked the third time in less than a century that the U.S. has intervened there militarily.
The last such U.S. intervention, just under than a decade ago, is worth recalling now. There is the striking symmetry, to begin with: In 1994, the United States sent troops to Haiti to facilitate Aristide's return to the presidency; now, it's sending troops because it convinced him to leave.
But there is another symmetry, as well, that merits examination. In 1994, the U.S. had little use for efforts to bring justice to the victims of violent human rights abuses committed under military rule. Rather than assisting in the prosecution of human rights crimes, it preferred to placate the perpetrators: to overlook violence rather than to confront it. Indeed, in several different ways, the U.S. directly impeded efforts to prosecute past human rights crimes in Haiti.
Why is this history relevant now? Because the authors of those past abuses are back. Louis Jodel Chamblain, a former paramilitary responsible for countless atrocities under the military government that ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994, is a leading commander in the insurgent coalition that fought to oust Aristide. Jean-Pierre Baptiste, a less prominent paramilitary from the same period, is also among the rebel forces.
And a large number of the insurgents -- perhaps the main body of their forces-- are former officers and soldiers of the Haitian army. Responsible for killings, rape, torture and other violent abuses during military rule, the army was disbanded in late 1994, a thoroughly discredited institution.
Louis Jodel Chamblain is, beyond any doubt, the most shocking figure to have reemerged among the rebels. A sergeant in the Haitian army until 1989 or 1990, Chamblain was one of the founders in 1993 of the paramilitary group known as the Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH). As FRAPH's second in command, and its operational leader, he had a reputation for violence and action.
"I was never paramilitary chief," asserted Chamblain in a recent interview with the New York Times ."I was the leader of a political organization. FRAPH helped people and brought the Haitian people together."
FRAPH's repressive activities, in fact, helped lead nearly 100,000 Haitians to flee their country. At least 3,000 people were killed during military rule, and many thousands more suffered torture, rape, beatings, extortion, arbitrary detention and other abuses.
But in 1994, when U.S. forces entered Haiti, they allowed FRAPH members, notorious military officers, and other perpetrators of human rights crimes to escape unhindered into exile. Indeed, the U.S. government pushed hard for the passage of a broad amnesty law that would have officially barred the prosecution of the countless crimes committed under military rule. Failing in that effort, it impeded the prosecution of such crimes by refusing to return incriminating documents that it had seized from military offices, and by granting Emmanuel Constant, an infamous FRAPH leader with CIA ties, protection from deportation in the United States.
Chamblain himself escaped to the Dominican Republic after the U.S. intervention, as did other former soldiers and paramilitaries. Although he was sentenced in absentia to life in prison for a 1993 murder and a 1994 massacre, he never served a day behind bars for his crimes.
Chamblain's case, unfortunately, is rather more paradigmatic than exceptional. Although the Haitian government took some steps to achieve accountability for the abuses committed under military rule, including prosecuting some of the leaders of an infamous massacre, the demands of justice went largely unmet.
The army was disbanded but never fully disarmed, and its worst abusers remained free. Demobilized soldiers organized into groups to defend their interests, and became increasingly alienated, resentful and dangerous. In recent years, as conditions in Haiti worsened, a group of former soldiers began mobilizing near the border of the Dominican Republic in the central part of the country. That group, joined by reinforcements, laid the groundwork for the armed uprising of this February.
So now that Aristide is gone, what can be expected next? Guy Philippe, the leader of the rebellion that led to Aristide's ouster, has already stated that he expects his men to be part of the new government. And it would not be surprising for Philippe to pressure that government to issue a broad series of pardons to benefit men like Chamblain.
But if the United States wants stability in Haiti, it should recognize that impunity encourages violence and unrest. In 1994, by letting Chamblain and his ilk off the hook, the U.S. helped sow the seeds of the current crisis. Now that the U.S. is back in Haiti for another round, it should not make the same mistakes twice.
Jim Straub, an organizer based in Richmond, VA, in TomDispatch.com (March 2, 2004):
In 1999, the global justice movement first captured mainstream attention in the U.S. when, on the streets of Seattle, it protested and shut down a meeting of the World Trade Organization. The motley, if energetic, collection of groups ranging from environmentalists to trade unions to anarchists to farmers who coalesced into a single movement at that time were taking on nothing less than the preeminent economic development of the age: corporate globalization.
Since then, the forces of global justice have become perhaps the largest and most inspiring progressive movement seen in North America in three decades. But auspicious beginnings do not automatically mean victory; with a stated goal of nothing less than the reorganization of the global economy for the benefit of the planet rather than corporate profit, the global justice movement, as the past five years have shown, will simply have to get much bigger if it is to have any hope of succeeding. To this end, the movement has begun to look to the global south for inspiration. There, mass movements have been fighting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global economic institutions for decades.
But while rural organizations like Mexico's Zapatistas and Brazil's Landless Movement have much to teach us, there is a limit to the practical usefulness of such groups as organizing models here in the US. In the global north, we need to find modes of organization that are applicable to a highly urban, modern, partially de-industrialized country, where much of the population has historically had relatively high living standards. As globalization's "race to the bottom" pushes down on these living standards, progressives and radicals in the United States hoping to turn dissatisfaction with corporate power into a mass movement would do well to consider another "downsized" nation that has recently seen a prolonged nationwide uprising: Argentina.
Long known as "the European country in South America," Argentina once had a social structure akin to those of the developed world. Of its 34 million citizens, 87% live in cities, where a cosmopolitan and literate populace long enjoyed the least unequal class structure in Latin America. But over the past 20 years, Argentina's relatively large middle class and well-off industrial working class have gradually had their living standards worn away by corporate globalization. (In this sense, Argentina may give us a peek at the economic future of many northern cities and rust belt states in the U.S.) Once the world's breadbasket and an industrial power, plant closings, wage losses and social cutbacks have gradually plunged many of its city dwellers into poverty and economic insecurity.
As unemployment and inequality rose throughout the 1990s in Argentina, the International Monetary Fund's "star pupil" -- so called, because Argentina's rulers applied the IMF's dictates of privatization and social cuts more rigorously than almost any other nation in the world -- eventually entered an economic tailspin that plunged startling numbers of its once-comfortable citizens into poverty. The final and dramatic economic crash, in December 2001, sparked a mass uprising that brought literally millions of enraged Argentines into the streets against their government with the slogan, "All the politicians must go". In the first ten days of this popular insurrection, no less than four presidents were installed and overthrown.
Even more significantly, millions of those who came into the streets stayed there, and created a rich and inventive set of new social movements. In 2002, it was estimated that half of Argentina's population was actively participating in these new movements, which ranged from factories first occupied and then managed by their workers to democratic Neighborhood Assemblies where entire communities undertook to plan new forms of mutual aid and political protest together.
Given the fact that the U.S. is far more similar to Argentina than, say, to Bolivia or India, these new Argentine social movements have a nuts-and-bolts significance for those of us in North America hoping to someday chase a few corrupt presidents out of office with our own mass movements. Of course, similarities between the United States and Argentina are only relative and can be overstated: for one thing, ordinary Argentines were never as well off as many ordinary working- and middle-class U.S. citizens. For another, the U.S. is a much more multiracial society than Argentina, especially significant since in North America the ill-effects of corporate globalization fall disproportionately on people of color; and, of course, our recent political history bears little resemblance to Argentina's. There, tens of thousands were murdered during a military dictatorship that lasted from 1974-83. However, for concrete examples of building a mass movement against corporate globalization in an urban, semi-deindustrialized society where millions have gradually lost once-high living standards, the Argentine uprising, or Argentinazo, is second to none right now.
David Cay Johnston, in the NYT (Feb. 29, 2004):
Social Security retirement benefits are going to have to be cut, Alan Greenspan announced last week, because there just is not enough money to pay the promised benefits. President Bush said those already retired or"near retirement age'' should not worry. They will get their promised benefits.
That, in short form, was the story carried on front pages and television news programs across the country.
But there is an element that was forgotten in the rush of news. It dates back 21 years to the events that catapulted Mr. Greenspan into national prominence and led to his becoming chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Since 1983, American workers have been paying more into Social Security than it has paid out in benefits, about $1.8 trillion more so far. This year Americans will pay about 50 percent more in Social Security taxes than the government will pay out in benefits.
Those taxes were imposed at the urging of Mr. Greenspan, who was chairman of a bipartisan commission that in 1983 said that one way to make sure Social Security remains solvent once the baby boomers reached retirement age was to tax them in advance.
On Mr. Greenspan's recommendation Social Security was converted from a pay-as-you-go system to one in which taxes are collected in advance. After Congress adopted the plan, Mr. Greenspan rose to become chairman of the Federal Reserve.
This year someone making $50,000 will pay $6,200 in Social Security taxes, half deducted from their paycheck and half paid by their employer. That total is about $2,000 more than the government needs in order to pay benefits to retirees, widows, orphans and the disabled, government budget documents show.
So what has happened to that $1.8 trillion?
The advance payments have all been spent.
Congress did not lock away the Social Security surplus, as many Americans believe. Instead, it borrowed the surplus, replacing the cash with Treasury notes, and spent the loan proceeds paying the ordinary expenses of running the federal government.
Only twice, in 1999 and 2000, did Congress balance the federal budget without borrowing from the surplus.
Both parties have treated the surplus Social Security taxes as" cash flow to the government," which has been allowable since the Johnson administration started counting Social Security as part of the federal budget, not as a separate budget, said C. Eugene Steuerle, a tax policy advisor to President Reagan.
He said that voters were promised in 1983 that the federal debt would be paid off with the surplus Social Security taxes. The fact that this has not happened and the debt has soared shows that"government usually can only deal with one objective at a time,'' Mr. Steuerle said. Back then, he added, the prime objective was to settle on a Social Security tax rate that would back the system and not have to be tinkered with for decades - not how the surplus would be handled.
Todd Purdum, in the NYT (Feb. 28, 2004):
On April 22, 1971, John Kerry , a decorated 27-year-old Navy veteran of two tours in Vietnam, electrified the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with his passionate testimony against the war, and with tales from fellow veterans about"the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do" in Southeast Asia.
Summarizing the accounts of American soldiers he had heard at an antiwar conference in Detroit weeks earlier, Mr. Kerry said the men told how"they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam."
As both a veteran and anguished opponent of the Vietnam War, Mr. Kerry has spent years working to square the circle of a conflict that divided his generation, and the nation. Now, his old words have come back to haunt his presidential campaign, as conservative backers of President Bush question whether Mr. Kerry is"a proud war hero or angry antiwar protester," as National Review Online recently asked.
The full picture is complex. In 1970 and 1971, Mr. Kerry was among the most prominent spokesmen for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, whose major patrons included the actress Jane Fonda, and which later staged takeovers of public buildings and walkouts from Veterans Administration hospitals. But when Mr. Kerry was involved, contemporaries recount, he often took steps to moderate the group's actions, believing it was better — for it, and him — to work within the political system that he ultimately sought to join. When he organized the mass march on Washington that resulted in his Senate testimony, Ms. Fonda was nowhere to be seen.
"I think Kerry made a big effort not to have me invited to participate in that," Ms. Fonda said in a telephone interview this week."Because I think he wanted the organization to distance itself from me, that I was too radical or something." She added:"I went to North Vietnam in July of 1972, so it was not even `Hanoi Jane' yet, but I was still considered a lightning rod and radical. He knew that they had to get the attention of Congress, and he didn't want any unnecessary baggage to come with them."
Asked for comment, Mr. Kerry replied through his campaign spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, that he had made an effort to limit the protest to veterans.
For many Democrats, part of Mr. Kerry's appeal lies in the very fact that he both served in, then opposed the war, giving him the cachet of gallant warrior and principled dissident.
But many critics see Mr. Kerry's words as impugning the honor of all who served in Vietnam, and in recent weeks, they have circulated a picture of him seated a few rows behind Ms. Fonda at an antiwar rally in Valley Forge, Pa., and taken pains to note that she helped sponsor the"Winter Soldier Investigation" in Detroit, to which Mr. Kerry referred in his Senate testimony.
Official Republican spokesmen have largely refrained from attacking Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities, focusing instead on what they say is his failure to adequately support national security programs over the years."I have not highlighted it, but it is public testimony," the Republican National chairman, Ed Gillespie, said this week."People have talked about it."
Mr. Kerry was so concerned that the April 1971 protest in Washington be nonviolent and legal that he faced criticism from fellow members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who were growing more radical. He opposed the group's plan to sue President Richard M. Nixon to end the war, and in November 1971, he left it, citing"personality conflicts and differences in political philosophy."
In January 1972, after the group's protesters took over the Statue of Liberty, Mr. Kerry said in an interview with The New York Times that he had left to work on"electoral politics" and that the departure of moderates like himself had contributed to the organization's shift toward militancy. While the organization claimed 20,000 members, he said, it actually had fewer than 1,000 active participants.
Later in 1972, when protesters from the group including Ron Kovic, the disabled veteran later played by Tom Cruise in"Born on the Fourth of July," disrupted the Republican Convention, Mr. Kerry watched them on television.
"There was a lot of resentment against John because he wasn't more radical," recalled Bobby Muller, a friend from those days who now heads the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, recalled.
David G. Savage, writing for the Los Angeles Times (Feb. 29, 2004)
The ghost of Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun will be back in the news this week, five years after his death and more than 30 years after he wrote the momentous and still-disputed Roe vs. Wade opinion that legalized abortion.
His reputation in life was controversial. Liberals saw him as a conservative Midwestern Republican who grew in his job to become a champion of women's rights and a reborn foe of the death penalty. Conservatives saw him as a weak and indecisive judge who was unnerved by the criticism he received for the abortion decision...
...On Thursday, the anniversary of his death, the Library of Congress will open Blackmun's papers to the public -- all 1,576 boxes full.
Historians and legal scholars are eager to examine the papers, looking for clues to explain Blackmun's shift from right to left during his court career. President Richard M. Nixon nominated him as a conservative, law-and-order judge. By the time of his retirement, he was the court's most liberal justice.
It is a familiar story, and a distressing one for conservatives. Since Nixon's election in 1968, Republican presidents have named 10 justices to the Supreme Court while Democrats have named two. Yet the court as a whole has disappointed conservatives, largely because Blackmun, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter proved more liberal on social issues than the Republican presidents who appointed them.
But the main clue to Blackmun's shift may be as simple as the Roe vs. Wade opinion itself.
"The explanation for his leftward evolution is the happenstance of his being assigned to write Roe," said David Garrow, a court historian at Emory University."It was not just the criticism and the hate mail he received, but also thank-you letters he received from women. Over time, he came to think he had done a great thing for women, and it made him much more attuned to the cause of protecting individual rights."...
...Blackmun had been on the court less than two years when the justices took up a challenge to a Texas law that made all abortions a crime. When the justices voted 7-2 to strike down the law, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger selected his fellow Minnesotan to write the opinion because of Blackmun's background. Before becoming a judge, he had been the general counsel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"He had spent much of his time working around doctors," Karlan, the Stanford professor, said."He viewed [abortion] as a medical matter. It was about the doctor-patient relationship. He also had the old-style Republican view that this wasn't the government's business."
Just as the Roe vs. Wade ruling has divided the nation, so did it serve as a divide in Blackmun's career. His clerks said the justice spent hours reading hate mail. By the late 1970s, Blackmun had split away from the conservative Burger, a boyhood friend from St. Paul, and aligned himself with the liberal Justice William J. Brennan, an Eisenhower appointee.
"He took so much heat from the right," said Dennis J. Hutchinson, a University of Chicago law professor and biographer of Justice Byron White."And the women's rights and liberals groups lionized him. That would have bounced off a lot of justices -- White, Powell, [Antonin] Scalia, for example. But Blackmun had a lot of insecurities, and he took slights very personally."...
...Some court historians say Blackmun's papers may contain little news, since the previously released papers of Justices Thurgood Marshall and Powell cover the same period."I would be surprised if there's anything that dramatically changes our thinking about him," said Mark V. Tushnet, a law professor at Georgetown University and a biographer of Marshall.
Some historians said they were troubled that Blackmun's law clerks gave advance access to the documents to Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times and Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio. They were given two months of advance access to the files, and their reports will begin Thursday....
...This is not an effort to manage the story," Koh said of the special arrangements."We didn't want someone to grab one piece of paper and make that the story. You need someone who can introduce this collection to the world in a way that promotes genuine public understanding of what this collection means."
That explanation has not impressed several historians who have worked on past collections."This is post-mortem spin control and the closest thing to an in-house press release," said Hutchinson of the University of Chicago."It anoints one person, or two, and says their version is authoritative and trustworthy. I think it's outrageous."
"This is an attempt to manage the coverage, despite what Koh says," said Garrow, who wrote a history of the abortion rulings."He wants a gentle and friendly front page in the New York Times. And he also wants NPR and the 'News Hour' to think well of Harold Koh."
There is, alas, one simple factual problem in Charles Krauthammer's thoughtful piece today. It is the following assertion:[B]ecause of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution (which makes every state accept"the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State"), gay marriage can be imposed on the entire country by a bare majority of the state supreme court of but one state. This in a country where about 60 percent of the citizenry opposes gay marriage.
This is inaccurate. Historically, marriage has never been one of the"public acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings" that the Full Faith and Credit clause mandates are transportable from state to state. If that had been the case, we would never have had a struggle over inter-racial marriage. As soon as one northern state legalized it, it would have been legal in every Southern state. (Civil divorce, ironically, is such an institution. It is the result of a judicial proceeding. Civil marriage, in contrast, is a license.) It has long been established law that the states have a public policy exception to recognizing marriages from other states; and Massachusetts' marriage licenses, to cite the current controversy, are even issued on the condition that they are void elsewhere if unapproved in other states. So the notion that four judges in Massachusetts can impose civil marriage for gays on an entire country is simply mistaken. Some argue that activist courts these days will over-rule these precedents. But with 38 states explicitly saying they won't recognize such marriages; with the Defense of Marriage Act backing that up; the likelihood is minimal. And once you remove that premise, Charles' argument about who is the aggressor here is undermined (although I am glad that he wants to defend the Constitution from unnecessary meddling). In my view, the religious right amendment is both extreme - in that it bans any state from granting civil marriage rights to gays - and premature - in that the need for it on purely federalist grounds hasn't been in any way proven. Here's my offer, then, to my friend, Charles. If all legal precedent fails, if DOMA is struck down, if one single civil marriage in Massachusetts is deemed valid in another state, without that other state's consent, I will support a federal constitutional amendment that would solely say that no state is required to recognize a civil marriage from another state. By that time, we might even have had a chance to evaluate how equal marriage rights play out in a single state or two. How's that for a compromise?
A PREVIOUS MARRIAGE AMENDMENT: A letter writer to the Washington Post reminds us that marriage amendments have been introduced before."On Dec. 12, 1912, Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry (R-Ga.) proposed this amendment to the Constitution:"Intermarriage between negros or persons of color and Caucasians ... within the United States ... is forever prohibited." Ernest Miller provides some historical context.
Editor's Note: In a subsequent blog entry Sullivan noted that Roddenberry was actually a Democrat.
Sidney Schanberg, in the Village Voice (Feb. 24, 2004):
Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January 1973.
The Massachusetts senator, now seeking the presidency, carried out this subterfuge a little over a decade ago— shredding documents, suppressing testimony, and sanitizing the committee's final report—when he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on P.O.W./ M.I.A. Affairs.
Over the years, an abundance of evidence had come to light that the North Vietnamese, while returning 591 U.S. prisoners of war after the treaty signing, had held back many others as future bargaining chips for the $4 billion or more in war reparations that the Nixon administration had pledged. Hanoi didn't trust Washington to fulfill its pro-mise without pressure. Similarly, Washington didn't trust Hanoi to return all the prisoners and carry out all the treaty provisions. The mistrust on both sides was merited. Hanoi held back prisoners and the U.S. provided no reconstruction funds.
The stated purpose of the special Senate committee—which convened in mid 1991 and concluded in January 1993—was to investigate the evidence about prisoners who were never returned and find out what happened to the missing men. Committee chair Kerry's larger and different goal, though never stated publicly, emerged over time: He wanted to clear a path to normalization of relations with Hanoi. In any other context, that would have been an honorable goal. But getting at the truth of the unaccounted for P.O.W.'s and M.I.A.'s (Missing In Action) was the main obstacle to normalization—and therefore in conflict with his real intent and plan of action.
Kerry denied back then that he disguised his real goal, contending that he supported normalization only as a way to learn more about the missing men. But almost nothing has emerged about these prisoners since diplomatic and economic relations were restored in 1995, and thus it would appear—as most realists expected—that Kerry's explanation was hollow. He has also denied in the past the allegations of a cover-up, either by the Pentagon or himself. Asked for comment on this article, the Kerry campaign sent a quote from the senator:"In the end, I think what we can take pride in is that we put together the most significant, most thorough, most exhaustive accounting for missing and former P.O.W.'s in the history of human warfare."
What was the body of evidence that prisoners were held back? A short list would include more than 1,600 firsthand sightings of live U.S. prisoners; nearly 14,000 secondhand reports; numerous intercepted Communist radio messages from within Vietnam and Laos about American prisoners being moved by their captors from one site to another; a series of satellite photos that continued into the 1990s showing clear prisoner rescue signals carved into the ground in Laos and Vietnam, all labeled inconclusive by the Pentagon; multiple reports about unacknowledged prisoners from North Vietnamese informants working for U.S. intelligence agencies, all ignored or declared unreliable; persistent complaints by senior U.S. intelligence officials (some of them made publicly) that live-prisoner evidence was being suppressed; and clear proof that the Pentagon and other keepers of the"secret" destroyed a variety of files over the years to keep the P.O.W./M.I.A. families and the public from finding out and possibly setting off a major public outcry.
The resignation of Colonel Millard Peck in 1991, the first year of the Kerry committee's tenure, was one of many vivid landmarks in this saga's history. Peck had been the head of the Pentagon's P.O.W./M.I.A. office for only eight months when he resigned in disgust. In his damning departure statement, he wrote:"The mind-set to 'debunk' is alive and well. It is held at all levels . . . Practically all analysis is directed to finding fault with the source. Rarely has there been any effective, active follow-through on any of the sightings . . . The sad fact is that . . . a cover-up may be in progress. The entire charade does not appear to be an honest effort and may never have been."
Finally, Peck said:"From what I have witnessed, it appears that any soldier left in Vietnam, even inadvertently, was in fact abandoned years ago, and that the farce that is being played is no more than political legerdemain done with 'smoke and mirrors' to stall the issue until it dies a natural death."...
Attorney Heather Bolejack, in the Indianapolis Star (Feb. 27, 2004):
I thought I was a"n----r" when I was in kindergarten because my classmates told me so.
As a biracial child, I thought I was"part slave" in the fourth grade because the teacher and textbooks taught me that all black people were slaves until Harriet Tubman, the abolitionists and Abraham Lincoln"set us free."
In fifth grade, I learned of lynching and the"strange fruit" that hung from the trees of America's South, and as the only child of color in the classroom, I was afraid.
Black history is not"G-rated." Black history is"X-rated" for the crossing out of identities and culture, deletions of a history that begins with ancient kingdoms and black pharaohs, and for gratuitous violence, rape, obscenity and nudity that are part and parcel of American black history.
Should young children learn the unfettered truth of black history in the classroom? Mel Gibson's movie"The Passion of The Christ" depicts the shocking and disturbingly realistic violence of the last 12 hours of Christ's life. Psychologists, religious scholars and parents have cautioned for weeks that children under the age of 12 should not view the movie, albeit educational, due to the psychological effect of viewing the violence and gore of Christ's suffering.
Parents, forewarned and forearmed, therefore have the autonomy to make the final decision regarding how, when and where their children will be exposed to the crucifixion of Christ. We give little scrutiny, however, to how, when and where our children will learn black history, and the frightening stories of human degradation associated with telling that history.
Our children would not be exposed to even moderately violent and offensive material in the classroom without prior permission from parents. When it is time for the"good touch, bad touch" program at school, we are asked to sign a permission form. Yet our children are walking into some schools and being exposed to images that depict racist vitriol and violence against blacks as part of the school's" celebration" of Black History Month while we are unaware and out of the loop.
I hesitated to write this for fear of sounding"ungrateful" or"uppity." After all, shouldn't we just be glad that schools are at least participating in discussions of black history and thankful for the inclusion? Absolutely not.
Our children are growing up in a different world, blessedly one in which everyday use of the word"n----r" is foreign to them. We take it for granted that black children are desensitized to the"N-word" and thus will not feel offended or hurt if they hear the word in the context of education about black history.
It frustrates me that I cannot even write the full word in this article but must use well-placed dashes because it is considered an obscenity. Yet children of tender years are hearing the hateful"N-word" for the first time at school in an educational format. It is a shocking, violent word when heard in the context of its historical use to demean and degrade a race of people.
Joel Mowbray, in frontpagemag.com (Feb. 24, 2004):
After the media tore into President Bush's 30-year-old National Guard record like a rabid pit bull into a bacon-scented postman, Democrats have been licking their chops in anticipation of highlighting John Kerry's decorated service during the same time period.
A new web site that launched yesterday (Monday, January 23), however, should give Democrats more than a moment's pause—and is likely just the opening salvo in exposing the truth about the outlandish actions of Kerry and his comrades as part of an anti-war group known as Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Created by the conservative Free Republic Network, WinterSoldier.com seems to contain the most comprehensive compilation of Kerry's words and deeds shortly after returning to America more than three decades ago. (It can also be found at JohnKerryforPresident.info .)
The new site is named after the event that helped raise Kerry to prominence in 1971. The Winter Soldier Investigation, as it was called, was held in Detroit from January 31 to February 2—with financial backing from Hanoi Hannah herself, Jane Fonda, according to an historian cited on the web site—where over 100 veterans testified about the most horrendous war crimes imaginable happening every day .
John Kerry was an instant celebrity, and the group behind the three-day conference, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), certainly served his political ambitions well. But if the wealth of information found at WinterSoldier.com gains any traction, Kerry's past could come back to haunt him.
Although it is not the most user-friendly site, WinterSoldier.com carries everything from charges leveled at the original Detroit event to excerpts from historians' books that are quite damning to Kerry and VVAW.
But the bulk of the research for the site, done largely by Free Republic Director Scott Swett, comes from a book authored by John Kerry and the VVAW, “The New Soldier.” Since the out-of-print book is almost impossible to find—Free Republic spent over $400 to obtain its copy—most people will have to rely on the new web site to fully appreciate just how radical VVAW and Kerry were.
VVAW was a media favorite: war veterans who were anti-war. Quite a sales pitch. But the more realistic characterization would have been Americans who were anti-American. (Literally, too: One of the documents at WinterSoldier.com is the minutes of a VVAW executive meeting where members decided to take down American flags from all VVAW offices.)
Their goal was not just to sour Americans on the Vietnam war, but to make them hate America and American soldiers.
Hence the Winter Soldier Investigation.
The three-day circus featured tales of the most sadistic forms of torture, including genital mutilation and gang rape, and wanton mass murder of innocent civilians. In the words of Kerry three months later to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.”
In other words, Kerry and VVAW claimed that almost unprecedented war crimes were not simply rampant, but committed as a matter of U.S. policy.
One of the most shocking quotes comes from Kerry himself, admitting that he had committed war crimes in Vietnam, then shrugging that off as merely a matter of following orders. Following orders, however, does not absolve someone of guilt for committing war crimes. Which begs the question: will Kerry be willing to discuss the details of the war crimes he admits committing?
Though not quite proof of a war crime, WinterSoldier.com has two flyers for a September 1971 event listing both Kerry and the former Mrs. Ted Turner as speakers. Though that issue makes for media fodder, it is far from the most appalling piece of evidence on the new site.
Also under the “documents” section at WinterSoldier.com is a particularly incendiary VVAW flyer with the screaming, all-caps headline, “A U.S. INFANTRY COMPANY JUST CAME THROUGH HERE!” Just below, the top line reads, “If you had been Vietnamese--” and it is followed by eight lines of increasingly inflammatory charges. Each line begins with “We might have” and then finishes with such doozies as “burned your house,” “shot your dog,” “shot you,” and “raped your wife and daughter.”
Some will excuse VVAW's actions and hyperbolic rhetoric as necessary tactics or as the work of people understandably disillusioned by an embittering war experience. But there is evidence suggesting that many of the atrocities routinely touted by VVAW were, well, made up.
An excerpt of historian Guenter Lewy's book According to America posted on WinterSoldier.com discusses the results of a government investigation that attempted to corroborate the claims made at the VVAW event in Detroit. The investigators couldn't.
According to Lewy, the VVAW had told its members not to cooperate with the government inquiry—a probe that was initiated by Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon in order to verify gruesome claims made at the VVAW-sponsored event. The historian also notes that government inspectors found veterans whose names had been used by people testifying in Detroit that were not actually there.
In other words, some of the “witnesses” in Detroit were impostors, tarnishing the names of real soldiers
From NPR (Feb. 19, 2004):
TAVIS SMILEY: The largest wave of African-American migration to the north for a better life began during World War I. African-Americans trying to escape racism in the South flocked to cities from the Midwest to the East Coast. Civil rights activist and historian Timuel Black, son of first-generation migrants to Chicago , surveys this exciting time through the eyes of those who lived through it. He recently talked to our reporter, Allison Keyes, about his new book, "Bridges of Memory: Chicago 's First Wave of Black Migration," an oral history.
Mr. TIMUEL BLACK (Author, "Bridges of Memory: Chicago's First Wave of Black Migration"): Blacks found friendship with one another because most of them had left the South and most of them had left urban areas of the South, Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta, so they had some familiarity with what the city was like, and many of them, like my parents, had been met by friends or relatives when they came into Chicago.
ALLISON KEYES reporting:
Mr. BLACK: And they were given some kind of coaching as to how to get along and behave in Chicago . Now there was quite a few jobs in Chicago at that period of time, right after World War I, and so they had no problems with employment. What they had problems with was mobility in the city, where they were met with hostility if they went beyond the boundaries of those ghettos.
KEYES: If I recall correctly, a lot of the people you spoke to in your book said that black people didn't even need to go downtown because there was so much happening on the South Side, and lots of people my age don't remember a lot of that. Can you tell us about some of the places that don't exist anymore, like the Vendome, where you first saw Louis Armstrong?
Mr. BLACK: Oh, the Vendome, the States(ph), the Mecca building; moving southward, the Regal, the Savoy, the places where Duke and Count Basie and all those--the Grand Terrace, the Rum Boogie, the DeLisa. I could name many places of entertainment.
KEYES: And there was a black ballpark at 39th and Wentworth.
Mr. BLACK: Oh, yes, that was American Giants, where the founder of the American Negro League, Luke Foster(ph), had been sort of given or lent this land by Charles Comiskey, who was somewhat liberal in his terms. The White Sox park was in the old place where now there's a public housing development there.
Mr. BLACK: But yeah, Luke Foster, who--was as much a businessman as he was a baseball player, and he organized the Negro Baseball League.
KEYES: The group that you spoke to in this book is from your generation, and they pretty much came because they thought Chicago was the promised land, and they wanted their kids not to have to learn about sharecropping and tobacco picking.
Mr. BLACK: All of my grandparents were born in slavery. My mother and father were born in relatively small towns, Jacksonville , Alabama , and Florence , Alabama . By the way, Florence , Alabama , was the home of the first African-American elected to the Congress after Reconstruction, Oscar DePriest. Mr. DePriest went to Kansas City and then found that Chicago, for him, sounded more like the opportunity place, so he came to Chicago and there he bought a lot of land and became rather prosperous and went into politics very early.
So my mother and dad left Jacksonville and Florence , and they met in Birmingham , where I was born. I was eight months old when they decided that they did not want to raise their children in that terroristic environment, that--not only terroristic, one that did not yield the opportunities that they felt my brother and sister and I deserved.
KEYES: But when people got to Chicago , they still found some of the same kind of discrimination, but kind of in a different manner.
Mr. BLACK: With the influx of more and more African-Americans to the big cities, particularly Chicago , the landowners and the landlords had made an agreement called restrictive covenants, that they would not rent or sell to people of color, primarily Negroes. Also, Asians were included in that, particularly Chinese, but it wasn't as explicit as that deprivation of opportunity to move freely for blacks. And so we were confined in a relatively small area. The population density in the black community was three to four times what it was in the white community.
KEYES: You've written that many young African-Americans don't know anything about the glorious past history of black Chicago and that they've lost their sense of identity. Was teaching them that your primary reason for writing this book?
Mr. BLACK: My primary reason for writing was to broaden the interest, at least, among young people, black and white, and bring memories of people of my generation, who lived that period of time in Chicago , but to stimulate younger people, black and white, but focusing on young African-Americans who know so little about their history. I won't say all, but too many do not know. As a result, they don't have a sense of pride in the sense of their history that gives them a signal to strive harder, even when times are tough.
Margot Adler, on NPR News (Feb. 23, 2004):
If you are talking about a single marriage law that covers both heterosexual and homosexual couples, the history of same-sex marriage is only three years old. Today such laws exist in the Netherlands , in Belgium , as well as two provinces in Canada , British Columbia and Ontario . Gay registered partnerships, the equivalent of civil unions, go back further. Denmark was the first country to legalize them in 1989. Norway followed in 1993. There are several other European countries with some form of domestic partnership arrangement.
Here in the United States , the legal history of attempts by gays to get a marriage license go back at least to the early 1970s. In 1971, two cases, one in Minnesota and one in Washington state, challenged bans on gay marriage. Both failed. Other cases followed. They, too, failed. In 1984, the Unitarian Universalist Association voted to approve ceremonies celebrating same-sex unions. Several other denominations followed.
If you go back further in time, facts are much harder to come by. There are historical examples of gays attempting to marry. Louis Crompton, Americas professor of English at the University of Nebraska , cites one. He is the author of "Homosexuality in Civilization." Crompton quotes the Venetian ambassador in Rome in 1578, describing an incident involving Portuguese and Spanish men.
Professor LOUIS CROMPTON (Author, "Homosexuality in Civilization"): And they were part of a group--and I'll quote what he wrote about them--"who had assembled in the church where they performed some ceremonies of a horrible wickedness which sullied the sacred name of matrimony." Two years later, the French philosopher Montaigne visited Rome and commented on the incident. And he identified the church, which is still standing, as the Church of St. John at the Porta Latina. The men were later captured and burned in the square in Rome where heretics were regularly executed.
ADLER: Many other examples of gay unions in history are contested. A controversial historian, the late John Boswell, claimed liturgical ceremonies in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches sanctioned gay unions, but many historians dispute his scholarship.
Mr. DANIEL MENDELSOHN ( Princeton University ): I thought that Boswell's book was extremely problematic.
ADLER: Daniel Mendelsohn is a writer who also teaches classics at Princeton University . He says the ceremony that Boswell describes, called the Adelphopoiesis, the making of brothers, was never meant as a marriage.
Mr. MENDELSOHN: People have always known about this ceremony, which he presented as this spectacular, new, earth-shaking find. It had always been satisfactorily explained as a sort of official blood-brother ceremony used to reconcile, say, the heads of warring clans.
ADLER: Mendelsohn says Boswell and others have also attempted to find gay marriage in the classical world. Ancient Greece and Rome are often seen as models of societies that accepted homosexuality. Mendelsohn says although there was one satirical ceremony in Rome where an emperor married a slave during a banquet, and in classical Athens there were clearly homosexual bonds...
Mr. MENDELSOHN: There was nothing like a marriage between men, which would have been looked on really with horror by most Athenians. You know, you had at some point this sort of boyfriend, but you were always supposed to be married to a woman, to procreate, to make babies who would grow up to be good Athenians.
ADLER: When you turn to indigenous societies, both past and present, there are some examples. Some Native American peoples have a concept of two-spirit people, people who are not tied to one gender. In some tribes, there are special ceremonies to determine if a child is a two-spirit person. Gilbert Herdt is a professor and director of human sexuality studies at San Francisco State University . He says the designation of someone as a two-spirit person can sometimes create a same-sex marriage.
Professor GILBERT HERDT (San Francisco State University): Which means that biologically, it may be a male, in the case of a male-male arrangement, but they have the designation of two-spirit, which means that the social role they take as two-spirit obviates or, if you like, overrules their biological gender.
ADLER: But not many people fall into this category. Herdt also argues that over the last few hundred years in the West, people who were not in heterosexual marriages with children have not been seen as true adults or accorded social and political power. In the postmodern world, he says, that definition is now being challenged socially, legally and scientifically by reproductive technologies.
Prof. HERDT: And that's why this whole debate is so dramatic and is so wrenching to people who come very much from the historical and cultural and religious perspective of the modern period. They deeply that a full person or a full citizen is someone who is heterosexually married and produces children. And they cannot accept that you would extend that definition to someone else.
ADLER: Perhaps this subtext is why, history or no history, the stakes in the battle over gay marriage are so high. Margot Adler, NPR News, New York .
Evan Thomas, in Newsweek (Feb. 23, 2004):
John Kerry did not have to think all that hard about joining the military and going to Vietnam . He had doubts about the wisdom of U.S. intervention in Vietnam , which was rapidly escalating during 1965-66, his senior year at Yale. But Yale leaders were expected to serve, as the school song went, "for God, for Country, and for Yale." His closest friends in Skull and Bones, the Yale senior society for the best and the brightest, were signing up. Fred Smith, who would go on to found Federal Express, was joining the Marines. So was Dick Pershing, grandson of World War I Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing. There wasn't a lot of anguished debate, recalls Kerry's fellow Bonesman David Thorne, who, like Kerry, joined the Navy. But, he added, "if it had been '68, we might have made a different decision."
What a difference two years makes: 1968 was the year George W. Bush graduated from Yale. By then, virtually no Yale graduates were going into the military, if they could possibly avoid it. The war and the counterculture it spawned had transformed Yale. Preppy boys in coat and tie were rapidly giving way to long hair and angry protesters. The prom was canceled for lack of interest; marijuana was replacing beer. A throwback, good-time frat brother, young Bush had little use for the antiwar movement. On the other hand, he didn't want to go to Vietnam . Draft deferments for graduate school were ending that spring of 1968. The Texas Air National Guard offered another way. "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada ," Bush explained to The Dallas Morning News back in 1990. "So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
The two men were still fighting the Vietnam War last week. Kerry was defending himself from conservative radio talk-show hosts who accused him of siding with "Hanoi Jane" Fonda to undermine the war effort when he came home as an angry vet. The White House was showering reporters with documents attempting to show that Bush had not gone AWOL from the National Guard, as some Democrats allege. But flaps were mostly side-shows based on sketchy facts (Kerry barely met Fonda; Bush apparently did his time in the Guard, if a bit sporadically). The Vietnam era was critically important in the lives of both men. But the vastly different outcomes for the two men were the product of a subtle interplay of class and character and of small but critical differences in time and place.
From the editorial page of the WSJ (Feb. 5, 2004):
(Editor's note: Sen. Kerry delivered this speech on the Senate floor Feb. 27, 1992. The previous day, Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Vietnam veteran and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke in Atlanta, where he criticized fellow candidate Bill Clinton for his lack of military service during Vietnam.)
Mr. President, I also rise today--and I want to say that I rise reluctantly, but I rise feeling driven by personal reasons of necessity--to express my very deep disappointment over yesterday's turn of events in the Democratic primary in Georgia.
I am saddened by the fact that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign, and that it has been inserted in what I feel to be the worst possible way. By that I mean that yesterday, during this presidential campaign, and even throughout recent times, Vietnam has been discussed and written about without an adequate statement of its full meaning.
What is ignored is the way in which our experience during that period reflected in part a positive affirmation of American values and history, not simply the more obvious negatives of loss and confusion.
What is missing is a recognition that there exists today a generation that has come into its own with powerful lessons learned, with a voice that has been grounded in experiences both of those who went to Vietnam and those who did not.
What is missing and what cries out to be said is that neither one group nor the other from that difficult period of time has cornered the market on virtue or rectitude or love of country.
What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be refighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary.
The race for the White House should be about leadership, and leadership requires that one help heal the wounds of Vietnam, not reopen them; that one help identify the positive things that we learned about ourselves and about our nation, not play to the divisions and differences of that crucible of our generation.
We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism by opposing the war as by fighting in it. Are we now, 20 years or 30 years later, to forget the difficulties of that time, of families that were literally torn apart, of brothers who ceased to talk to brothers, of fathers who disowned their sons, of people who felt compelled to leave the country and forget their own future and turn against the will of their own aspirations?
Are we now to descend, like latter-day Spiro Agnews, and play, as he did, to the worst instincts of divisiveness and reaction that still haunt America? Are we now going to create a new scarlet letter in the context of Vietnam?
Certainly, those who went to Vietnam suffered greatly. I have argued for years, since I returned myself in 1969, that they do deserve special affection and gratitude for service. And, indeed, I think everything I have tried to do since then has been to fight for their rights and recognition.
But while those who served are owed special recognition, that recognition should not come at the expense of others; nor does it require that others be victimized or criticized or said to have settled for a lesser standard. To divide our party or our country over this issue today, in 1992, simply does not do justice to what all of us went through during that tragic and turbulent time.
I would like to make a simple and straightforward appeal, an appeal from my heart, as well as from my head. To all those currently pursuing the presidency in both parties, I would plead that they simply look at America. We are a nation crying out for leadership, for someone who will bring us together and raise our sights. We are a nation looking for someone who will lift our spirits and give us confidence that together we can grow out of this recession and conquer the myriad of social ills we have at home.
We do not need more division. We certainly do not need something as complex and emotional as Vietnam reduced to simple campaign rhetoric. What has been said has been said, Mr. President, but I hope and pray we will put it behind us and go forward in a constructive spirit for the good of our party and the good of our country.
Mr. Kerry, who served as a Navy lieutenant in Vietnam, is a Massachusetts senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Anne E. Kornblut, and Lyle Denniston, in the Boston Globe (Feb. 26, 2004):
History shows that presidents rarely influence the fate of constitutional-amendment proposals; the Constitution gives them no role in the process at all. It is also a lengthy ordeal that, in this case, will almost certainly last beyond the November elections.
As a result, it is relatively easy for Bush, like presidents in the past, to embrace the idea of a constitutional amendment during election season without having to follow up with any real time investment - or suffer the blame if it passes or fails.
"Presidents really don't have much effect on the amending process," said Richard B. Bernstein, a constitutional historian who is a specialist on that process. "Most presidents play games with the process; it happened a lot in the 1980s and 1990s."
For example, Bernstein said, "Ronald Reagan talked a lot about a balanced-budget amendment, but he never fully committed to making it a reality. The same with [the first] President Bush; he never committed his political capital to that amendment."
Bush has expressed his desire to block attempts to legalize gay marriage for more than a year, and there is little doubt that Bush sincerely opposes an expansion of marriage beyond the union of a man and a woman....
In the past, presidents have had almost no impact on the constitutional-amendment process, which tends to be driven more by advocacy groups and members of Congress.
President Carter got some credit for embracing the Equal Rights Amendment, to give women full legal equality, which eventually failed. His role, however, was apparently not much greater than that of his wife, Rosalyn, who signed a resolution endorsing ERA's passage. "The impetus came more from the women's movement, working with their friends in Congress," not Carter, said Sylvia Law, a New York University professor of constitutional law.
Perhaps the only president to move an amendment forward was Abraham Lincoln, who led the way for the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery. "He was really involved in getting it through Congress, really exerting pressure," noted Daniel Farber, a constitutional historian and law professor at Boalt Hall, the law school at the University of California .
But even Lincoln was not involved in the process of drafting the changes, a measure of how unimportant a president's stamp of approval can be.
From the Congressional Record, quoting Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) (Feb. 25, 2004):
Mr. McDERMOTT . Mr. Speaker, the President's presidential prayer team is urging us to ``pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles.''
With that in mind, I thought I would remind the body of the biblical principles they are talking about.
Marriage shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women . That is from Genesis 29:17-28.
Secondly, marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives . That is II Samuel 5:13 and II Chronicles 11:21.
A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin . If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed . That is Deuteronomy 22:13.
Marriage of a believer and a nonbeliever shall be forbidden . That is Genesis 24:3.
Finally, it says that since there is no law that can change things, divorce is not possible, and finally, if a married man dies, his brother has to marry his sister-in-law. Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10
George Will, writing for the Washington Post (Feb. 25, 2004)
It used to be said that anti-Catholicism was the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals. Today anti-Semitism is the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals.
Not all intellectuals, of course. And the seepage of this ancient poison into the intelligentsia -- always so militantly modern -- is much more pronounced in Europe than here. But as anti-Semitism migrates across the political spectrum from right to left, it infects the intelligentsia, which has leaned left for two centuries.
Here the term intellectual is used loosely, to denote not only people who think about ideas -- about thinking -- but also people who think they do. The term anti-Semitism is used to denote people who dislike Jews. These people include those who say: We do not dislike Jews, we only dislike Zionists -- although to live in Israel is to endorse the Zionist enterprise, and all Jews are implicated, as sympathizers, in the crime that is Israel.
Today's release of Mel Gibson's movie"The Passion of the Christ" has catalyzed fears of resurgent anti-Semitism. Some critics say the movie portrays the governor of Judea -- Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect responsible for the crucifixion -- as more benign and less in control than he actually was, and ascribes too much power and malignity to Jerusalem's Jewish elite. Jon Meacham's deeply informed cover story"Who Killed Jesus?" in the Feb. 16 Newsweek renders this measured judgment: The movie implies more blame for the Jewish religious leaders of Judea of that time than sound scholarship suggests. However, Meacham rightly refrains from discerning disreputable intentions in Gibson's presentation of matters about which scholars, too, must speculate, and do disagree. Besides, this being a healthy nation, Americans are unlikely to be swayed by the movie's misreading, as Meacham delicately suggests, of the actions of a few Jews 2,000 years ago.
Fears about the movie's exacerbating religiously motivated anti-Semitism are missing the larger menace -- the upsurge of political anti-Semitism. Like traditional anti-Semitism, but with secular sources and motives, the political version, which condemns Jews as a social element, is becoming mainstream, and chic among political and cultural elites, mostly in Europe....
...The appallingly brief eclipse of anti-Semitism after Auschwitz demonstrates how beguiling is the simplicity of pure stupidity. All of the left's prescriptions for curing what ails society -- socialism, communism, psychoanalysis,"progressive" education, etc. -- have been discarded, so now the left is reduced to adapting that hardy perennial of the right, anti-Semitism. This is a new twist to the left's recipe for salvation through elimination: All will be well if we eliminate capitalists, or private property, or the ruling class, or"special interests," or neuroses, or inhibitions. Now, let's try eliminating a people, starting with their nation, which is obnoxiously pro-American and insufferably Spartan.
Europe's susceptibility to political lunacy, and the Arab world's addiction to it, is not news. And the paranoid style is a political constant. Those who believe a conspiracy assassinated President Kennedy say: Proof of the conspiracy's diabolical subtlety is that no evidence of it remains. Today's anti-Semites say: Proof of the Jews' potent menace is that there are so few of them -- just 13 million of the planet's 6 billion people -- yet they cause so many political, economic and cultural ills. Gosh. Imagine if they were, say, 1 percent of Earth's population: 63 million.
Tracey Kaplan, Kansas City Star (Feb. 25, 2004):
President Bush on Tuesday joined a long, proud - and mostly unsuccessful - line of Americans that stretches back 215 years: those who have tried to amend the U.S. Constitution.
Even before the notion of banning same-sex marriage became grist for constitutional debate, Congress had considered 1,186 proposed amendments to the nation's defining document. They range from a flag-burning ban in 1989 to an 1810 law that would have stripped the citizenship of anyone who kept or accepted a title of nobility from a foreign land.
But only 27 made it into the Constitution, most recently a 1992 ban on members of Congress raising their own pay between elections. And more than a third of the 27 constitutional postscripts were approved more than 213 years ago as a package - the 10-amendment Bill of Rights.
Historically, amendments that expand the rights of citizens have fared far better than those proscribe rights. The lone amendment that took away rights from citizens, the hugely unpopular prohibition of alcohol, was tossed out 14 years after it became law - and it took another amendment to do that.
Despite Bush's support, the gay-marriage amendment will have a hard time obtaining the necessary support even within the president's own party, experts say. Republicans expressed strong reservations Tuesday about the championing the amendment proposed by U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Sen. Wayne Allard, both Republicans from Colorado.
And even proposals with broad political support face a daunting challenge to becoming part of the Constitution.
Purposely reserving amendments only for" certain great and extraordinary occasions," the founding fathers required that any Constitutional amendment be approved by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Right now, the GOP has only a two-seat majority in the Senate, making it tough to get a super-majority there.
"Our biggest hurdle is here inside the beltway," said Aaron Johnson, Musgrave's chief of staff.
In contrast, another hotly debated Constitutional change, the Equal Rights Amendment sailed through Congress in 1972 on a wave of the modern feminist movement but stalled in state legislatures and ultimately failed. ...
Only one successful amendment, the 18th, which banned manufacture or use of alcohol after its ratification in 1919, but was rescinded in 1933, set limits on citizens' rights, scholars said. In contrast, limits on voting rights for blacks and women that were in the original Constitution were removed through the amendment process.
Given their own party's opposition, Republican advocates of the marriage amendment are unlikely to succeed in bringing the issue to a vote in Congress before the November election. The measure's ultimate success could hinge on the timing because politics and national events can have such a crucial effect on attitudes.
For example, giving 18-year-olds the vote had been proposed 11 times since the early 1940s without success. But after languishing for almost three decades, the proposal sailed through Congress in 1971, the midst of the Vietnam War, when 18-year-olds were eligible for an unpopular draft, and was quickly ratified as the 26th amendment the same year.
Adam LeBor, writing in the Times (London) (Feb. 25, 2004)
Slobodan Milosevic spends his free time at the United Nations detention centre in The Hague reading John Grisham thrillers and listening to Frank Sinatra. His choice of music is appropriate.
During the two years of his trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the former Serbian President has been doing things his way.
He refuses to recognise the tribunal's legitimacy or to appoint a defence counsel, although he is aided by legal teams in The Hague and in Belgrade. From the dock of the heavily protected Court No 1, he has personally cross-examined most of the 298 witnesses produced by the prosecution: survivors of massacres, former paramilitaries, historians, diplomats, journalists, politicians and some who have testified in closed session to protect their identities.
Now, with the prosecution about to complete its case, observers believe that he might escape conviction on the most serious charge of genocide.
In another blow for a trial already well behind schedule, Richard May, the presiding judge, has announced his resignation on health grounds from May 31, around the time that Mr Milosevic is likely to begin his defence. His replacement will have to be briefed on thousands of pages of evidence and testimony. That, and inevitable attempts by Mr Milosevic to secure a retrial, could delay the process for several more months....
...In court he has proved combative and pugnacious, although generally respectful to the judges who have the power to turn his microphone off when he launches into harangues about the broad sweep of Balkan history.
He has relished his duels with high-profile witnesses, including Lord Owen, the European Union's former envoy to Yugoslavia, Wesley Clark, the former Nato commander, and Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia. Nevertheless, for all his grandstanding, Mr Milosevic remains a prisoner, the first head of state to be charged with genocide.
In an interview with The Times, Tim McFadden, head of the UN detention unit, said that the man once known as the"Butcher of Belgrade" spends each evening with his lawyer, preparing for the next day."They go over the evidence. He takes some exercise and has a sleep. He sometimes works until midnight."
The prosecution must prove that the former President of Serbia and Yugoslavia had command responsibility for the Serb forces that committed atrocities and ethnic cleansing: that he planned or ordered these events, or knew about them and failed to stop them; or that he failed to punish those responsible.
Most informed opinion holds that Mr Milosevic is likely to be found guilty of crimes against humanity in Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia....
...High-level insider witnesses have laid out in detail the connections between Belgrade and the battlefield, and the prosecution has produced extremely incriminating telephone intercepts.
Yet repeated attempts to link Mr Milosevic directly to the Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys, Europe's worst postwar atrocity, have floundered for lack of concrete evidence. General Clark testified that Mr Milosevic had foreknowledge of the plans by General Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander, to slaughter the Muslims. Mr Milosevic dismissed General Clark's testimony as"a blatant lie".
Stacy Sullivan, The Hague bureau chief for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, said:"The prosecution may not succeed with the charge of genocide. But it has proved a connection between Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leadership and the paramilitaries who carried out the ethnic cleansing. It has undermined his defence that he had no authority over Bosnian Serbs."
Once the prosecution has finished, the court will adjourn for three months. Six weeks before his defence starts, Mr Milosevic is required to submit his list of witnesses.
He has said already that he will call Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and General Clark to the stand. This scenario could prove highly embarrassing for Western leaders who courted the Serbian leader while he was in power. The trial could stretch well into 2006, with a verdict as late as 2007.
In the meantime, according to Mr McFadden, Mr Milosevic is a"stabilising influence" on the Serb, Croat and Muslim prisoners being held at the UN's detention centre. The three groups proved incapable of sharing a country, but, within the confines of the centre in the Netherlands, ethnic tension is extremely rare.
Detainees are held in comparative comfort in single cells. The centre has a gym and kitchen and receives cable television from Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo, as well as international channels.
"He does not give us any trouble," Mr McFadden said."He is an intelligent man and he understands our role in the judicial process -that we are a remand centre." However, Mr Milosevic has been hit hard by the absence of his wife and lifetime love, Mira Markovic. The had been together since the 1950s. He has not seen her for more than a year, since she fled, probably to Moscow, after Serbian police tried to interview her in connection with the murder in 2000 of Ivan Stambolic, once Mr Milosevic's best friend and mentor....