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January 29, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-29

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4A -_The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 29, 2004


aUle Eitc Wx &d

opinion. michigandaily. com

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

It turns out we were
all wrong, and that is
most disturbing"

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

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Ass uRPE E
WoRLD s A .
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- Former weapons inspector David Kay on
the fact that U.S. intelligence has been
unable to find any Iraqi weapons
programs, as reported yesterday by CNN.

60, gumi(hI.eAu


Democrats give unnamed special interests a bad name

The Democratic Party
clearly thinks Presi-
dent Bush is vulner-
able on the issue of special
interests. Here's an excerpt
from John Kerry's speech
following his victory in the
k. New Hampshire primary:
"I have spent my whole life
fighting for what I think is
right and against powerful special interests. And
I have only just begun the fight."
And here's part of Howard Dean's speech:
"We can take ... our government back for the
people who built it instead of corporations and
special interests, and we will.
And Wesley Clark's: "I responded to a
call for change ... from an administration
that puts politics above principle and special
interests above national interests - that we
must change."
And John Edwards': "We shouldn't have
two tax systems, one for the special interests
... and one for all those families who just
work hard every year and pay their taxes and
carry the tax burden in America."
And finally, Joe Lieberman's (I'm not
wasting column space on Dennis Kucinich):
"(Our cause) is for a politics that puts the
national interest above special interests or
partisan interests."
These "special interests" must be pretty
awful. They sit in high-backed leather chairs
at the top of their dark office towers, smok-
ing cigars and drinking scotch, planning how
they can ruin America and harm little chil-
dren - all while grabbing as much money as
they can. They're all graying white males
who spend their free time sitting around a
pool or, even worse, playing golf.
And even though all the candidates
lamented the influence of special interest

groups on government, they offered scant
evidence when it came to details. Let's take a
look at some of the best-known special inter-
est groups to see if maybe the candidates
have gone a little overboard. AARP, which
serves the interests of America's oldest citi-
zens, has more than 35 million members,
according to its website. Among other objec-
tives, AARP works to improve health care
and economic security for Americans over
the age of 50. So, yes, even grandma has her
hand in the cookie jar.
Maybe the most powerful special interest
in the country - and probably the most
effective - the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee. It exists to pressure gov-
ernment officials to support Israel. So, if you
support Israel - and I know there are a lot of
you out there who do - you might want to
take a more favorable view of special inter-
ests. Or, if you're not an AIPAC fan, there's
also an Arab-American Anti-Discrimination
Committee and the Arab American Institute,
headed by John Zogby.
Maybe you believe in a woman's right to
choose. Then you would probably be heart-
ened to know of the existence of the National
Organization for Women, NARAL and
Emily's List.
There's the Sierra Club, which fights to pro-
tect the environment. Almost every press
release on its website attacks President Bush. I
wonder if the Democrats will make a special
exception in their passionate opposition to spe-
cial interests for the Sierra Club. In fact, I bet
they'll use some of these special interest groups
in their campaigns to unseat Bush.
Another powerful special interest is the
AFL-CIO, which advocates on behalf of its
unions' members. The members of these spe-
cial interests groups spend their days in fac-
tories, not smoking cigars in skyscrapers.

Even your kindergarten teacher is a mem-
ber of the evil web of special interests. The
NEA is definitely a special interest, and it has
fought any kind of education reform every
step of the way.
And your friendly pediatrician belongs
to a special interest group. The American
Medical Association is an advocate for
physicians. One of its top priorities, howev-
er, is to enact tort reform.
If you can't stand the idea of tort
reform, you might want to look into the
American Bar Association, led by the
nefarious former Detroit Mayor Dennis
Archer. It's gotten some bad press recently
because it opposes limits on the right to sue
people. But if you're a good populist, you
should probably oppose tort reform, too -
even if that means aligning yourself with a
special interest group. America's legal sys-
tem allows anyone, including the union
member who makes a living wage because
of the work his special interest group has
done, to sue the world's largest corpora-
tions and the federal government itself.
Wow, that is special.
I admit that the Democrats do have a
point about money and influence in politics.
But they have to admit their inherent con-
nections to special interests groups: John Kerry
is married to the woman who controls the Heinz
fortune, and John Edwards is a trial lawyer.
Howard Dean deserves credit for obtaining
so much donation money from individuals
making small contributions. However, individ-
uals are always more effective at advocating
their viewpoints when they band together.
Aren't presidential campaigns just anoth-
er form of special interest groups?

Pesick can be reached'at



Extremist Christianity, as
supported by Bush, is the
threat, not all Christianity
It is not Christianity as such that should
concern us. In its 2,000-year history,
Christianity has been the cause of much
good, and it has not seriously inhibited the
development of liberal values. However,
there exists a form of extremist Christiani-
ty that seeks to attain political power to
destroy our liberal, secular democracy.
The radicals have already had substan-
tial victories. President Bush supported

legislation giving millions to fund Christ-
ian abstinence groups such as Silver Ring
Thing, which is led by a man who believes
the end of the world to be imminent. The
message is overtly religious, and they irre-
sponsibly teach that contraception is
essentially useless. Our president believes
that he is on a mission for God and that
the war in Iraq had divine sanction. The
fundamentalists seek every opportunity to
infect the minds of impressionable chil-
dren with the divisive message of the Ten
This extremist movement, supported by
Bush in his State of the Union address,
would change the Constitution to institu-
tionalize discrimination against homosex-
uals. They would divide the American

people by entrenching a separate, state-
funded education system that includes reli-
gious instruction. Bush asserts that those
who do not believe in God are incapable
of living moral lives. They would make us
second-class citizens, subject to suspicion
and unworthy of public office.
The extremists advocate a Christianity
of hatred, prejudice, division and fear.
They must be resisted and defeated if we
are to save the spirit of our democracy for
future generations. The other Christianity
- of love, compassion, peace and hope -
can be an ally in this struggle.



An open letter to President Coleman on SAPAC

Dear President Coleman,
Years ago women on this campus fought
in order to establish the Sexual Assault Pre-
vention and Awareness Center. Women
fought for this center in order to create a safe
space for students to grapple with sexualized
violence on our campus. This process
includes services for students who are sur-
vivors of sexual assault, harassment and
related crimes. As student leaders on this
campus we were disturbed to learn that today
the administration plans to transfer these ser-
vices away from SAPAC. While we were
glad to see that you are also planning an
increase in resources for education and pre-
vention programming, increases in aware-
ness of sexual assault and related crimes
does not eliminate the need for an on-campus
program to counsel and advocate for the sur-
vivors of these crimes and their families.
As a champion of women and the presi-
dent of this university, we call upon you to
stop the elimination of SAPAC's counseling
services and on-campus Crisis Line. The
Division of Student Affairs plans to transfer

or police other than the Department of Pub-
lic Safety. These statistics reflect only what
was actually reported.
The Crisis-line is an invaluable resource
to University students, staff and faculty. Cri-
sis-line staff provide telephone counseling to
discuss these traumatic experiences and will
accompany individuals to community hospi-
tals and other locations to provide support
and assistance. Crisis-line volunteers provide
access to legal, medical and academic advo-
cacy specific to the needs of students, staff
and faculty who are survivors of sexual
assault and related crimes.
A line run for students by their peers
makes this vital service more accessible to
students who might otherwise feel intimidat-
ed or alienated by talking about these deeply
difficult experiences with people outside of
our campus community. Additionally,
removal of the Crisis-line will make it
impossible to compile campus-specific statis-
tics on sexual assault crimes, creating a false
sense of security and hampering institutional
initiative to make our community a safer
place for women. By supporting an on-cam-
pus Crisis-line, you demonstrate your com-
mitment to building a community that does
not tolerate violence against women.

Student Affairs, under the leadership of E.
Royster Harper, has seen its funding cut by
$700,000, as reported in the Daily. This
year Student Activities and Leadership
faced a 27 percent budget cut, resulting in
a reduction of the number of student lead-
ership retreats they are able to sponsor.
The Offices of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender Affairs and Multi-Ethnic Stu-
dent Affairs have also dealt with a serious
reduction of funds. Additionally, the Divi-
sion of Student Affairs has attempted to re-
organize Greek life. All of these changes
have been made without student input.
Cutting and reorganizing student services
are alarming on their own; however, con-
sistently reorganizing student services
without any student voice in the process is
completely unacceptable.
The resources and support provided by
programs in the Division of Student Affairs
need to remain accessible to students and
informed by the needs of the students, not
mandated by the budget and arbitrarily
altered without dialogue involving all of
the campus community. President Cole-
man, we call for an end to the rollback of
student services. Keep the SAPAC Crisis-
line on campus and counseling services



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