The Missoulian from Missoula, Montana on May 19, 2003 · 7
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The Missoulian from Missoula, Montana · 7

Missoula, Montana
Issue Date:
Monday, May 19, 2003
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Missoulian, Monday, May 19, 2003 - A7 OPINION NATION We all love a winner, even when the game is rigged ELLEN GOODMAN I know the defining image of victory over Iraq will forever be the flight-suited president landing on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln. Nevertheless, I have been carrying around a far less telegenic postscript to the conflict. What haunts me is an offhand remark of a congressional aide in a New Yorker piece about missing weapons of mass destruction. The man said that he didn't think their absence would "sway U.S. public opinion much." After all, he said, "Everyone loves to be on the winning side." I can't let go of this, because I'm afraid he's right. I don't think the question is whether we 11 find such weapons, or how many or how lethal. The question is whether it matters. Last week a new CBSNew York Times poll showed that almost two-thirds of Americans know we haven't yet turned up a cache of biological or chemical weapons. Nearly half believe the White House overestimated their existence and two-thirds of those believe the administration did so deliberately. But here's the kicker: The majority of Americans believe that even if we never find the tons of lethal stuff we were told existed, it's OK. The war will have been worth it. It doesn't matter why we dunnit as long we wunnit. Is it the pleasure at seeing Saddam toppled, which I share? Is it the unearthing of mass graves? Or is it that everyone loves to be on the winning side? To raise questions about the original justification for invading Iraq is, I am well aware, to be as welcome as the skunk at the victory party. To hold people to their word is like being a grammarian trying to edit hip-hop lyrics. But what did we say our reason for war was again? Wasn't it the Iraqi threat? In October, Condoleezza Rice warned, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." In January, the president's State of the Union address talked about tons of munitions, thousands of liters of anthrax and botulinum toxin. In April, Ari Fleischer described weapons of mass destruction: "That is what this war was about." Well, the imminent nuclear alarm was something of a scam. And now, the U.S. search team is getting ready to leave Iraq without having found a smoking gun or solid evidence of WMDs. We're told alternately that they were destroyed or deterred or hidden or smuggled to Syria. That may be so. But for the moment it's hard to find what we were preventing or pre-empting in this preventive, pre-emptive war. And while we are on the subject of slippage, in his speech at sea, the president made yet another connection between the Twin Towers and the regime change: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001." Where was the reminder hat there is still, no matter how many times it's said and no matter how many people believe it, no verified link between the hijackers and the Iraqis? Everyone wants to be on the winning side. To hold the winner to some standard of truth has come to seem quixotic. It's as impolite as remembering that Al Gore won the popular vote. It's as quirky as demanding footnotes on myths. I am by no means sorry to see the end -presumably - of Saddam. But does success mean never questioning how you were conned into conflict? We have become tolerant, even appreciative, of spin skill. We've been conditioned by a compassionate conservative who wants Clear Skies legislation and to Leave No Child Behind while enacting a tax cut for the rich that will be "helping American families." When this White House issued updated excuses for the flight-suit photo-op, most criticism went to its critics. But when is the spin so fast that it melts into lies? I'm not much for ranting, but I have a lifetime habit of journalism. The newspaper, they say, is the first draft of history. They also say that the winners get to write history. There's inevitably a conflict between the reporter and the mythmaker. For the past week, my profession has been in an uproar over Jayson Blair, the young New York Times staffer who fabricated stories out of plagiarism, imagination and lies. The fury comes from those of us who spend long nights on the phone with editors, fact-checking and second-sourcing, and sometimes sweating out corrections. But what is the price to be paid by the politicians who cut and paste the truth? Who is there to demand a correction for the sales pitch for war? The president landed safely at sea and his approval ratings float in untroubled waters. Everybody loves to be on the winning side. Ellen Goodman is a syndicated columnist. Letters Taxes Throwing our money out the window What makes me maddest is how little politicians regard our tax money. Missoula's mayor gives $2 million for a ballpark; one state pol wants to increase Highway 2 along the Hi-Line to four lanes; we send billions to Israel as foreign aid. Now Bush Jr. is sending Christian missionaries to preach "just say no to sex" to Africans to solve the AIDS problem. Once elected, they only care about getting re-elected and paying back campaign contributors with favors. Ellis Campbell, P.O. Box 2011, Lolo War with Iraq Show your true color, and make it yellow I am the lucky parent of an airman that will be coming home soon after being deployed in Iraq. Since I couldn't roll bandages as they did in the past, I decided to tie yellow bows. Another parent of a U.S. soldier in Korea got me started. She has made around 300 and given them away. Please display yellow ribbons. We want our kids to feel adored and appreciated when they come home. The news on Iraq is becoming less frequent, but we have tens of thousands of troops there still. There are also thousands of troops deployed in other locations around the world. It does not matter how you feel about the war. Remember these kids in our military are our sons, daughters, friends and neighbors. If you need a bow, you can e-mail me at I am NOT selling anything, just trying to tie the town yellow. Peggy Cain, 2530 Floral Court, Missoula st School election Where was the reminder, Missoulian? I found the Missoulian editorial of May 9, "Balloting Was a Poor Show of Support," arrogant, to say the least. Please notice that, while you point the finger at apathetic voters, three other fingers are pointing back at you. Granted, I am old enough to know that the first Tuesday of May is election day. However, as this date is not a prominent date on my calendar,. I rely on the media to remind me that an election is being held. (Silly me. I should be old enough to know better.) Although 1 did see the article on school board candidates in the Sunday (May 7) paper, I did not think that the Missoulian would give such short notice of the election. You could have made the election a featured article on the top of the front page on Sunday instead of the dog show or the Kentucky Derby. I only remembered to vote on Tuesday because there was a sign on Gharrett reminding me that it was election day. You could be a great help to voters by putting "VOTE TODAY" in large letters, even in red, at the top of the front page or at least under "Today" on the left side of the front page. But, then, whom would you have to point fingers at? My inference might be that it is the Missoulian, not the voters of the area, that doesn't really care. Christine Prescott, 120 Bridger Court, Missoula m Save Our Neighborhoods Group's goals are questionable As I was walking in my neighborhood recently, I noticed a sign that caught my attention. The headline "Save Our Neighborhoods" drew me in. As I read on, I learned that the city has plans to "increase density" and that there is a group forming to oppose this municipal strategy. This campaign struck me as odd for a couple of reasons. In the first place, what separates a traditional neighborhood (pre-WWII) from an automobile suburb (post WWII) is that a traditional neighborhood is mixed in use and medium- to high-density, while an automobile suburb is generally single-use and lower density. The other aspect of the poster that struck me as odd was that the image that was used to depict the "neighborhood" that was presumably being saved by this campaign was a classic pre-WWII, mixed-use, high-density neighborhood. When we consider the fact that no government policy can actually prohibit people from moving to an area in which they want to live, the only alternative to some form of density increase is sprawl. And Missoula has only begun to get a foretaste of the kind of hellish sprawlscapes that municipalities across the country have been bemoaning for years. I do not know the specific goals of this group, and I have not carefully studied the city's "plans to increase density." I can accept the fact that there are myriad examples of poorly written legislation, which can bring unfortunate outcomes from well-conceived ideas. What I can't seem to make sense of is how any group who is in favor of neighborhoods can be against density as a matter of course. I suspect that we are gearing up for a long and protracted discussion concerning what it means to be neighbors and how we can live peaceably with one another. This discussion is far too important to be thrown off track by the misuse of words like "neighborhood" and "density." Eric O. facobsen, 433 Keith Ave.. Missoula Letters policy: The Missoulian welcomes and encourages letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Letters should be about 300 words or fewer. The Missoulian reserves the right to reject or edit letters for content and length. The Missoulian prints as many letters as possible. Letters must contain the writer's name, address and telephone number (phone numbers are for verification, not publication). Mail to: Missoulian Letters, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807. Fax: (406) 523-5294. E-mail: oped& Bill about unborn children entangles Peterson murder in abortion debate By DAVID CRARY Associated Press Adding fuel to the already fierce debate over abortion, Republicans in Congress are evoking the Laci Peterson murder case as they try to enact the first federal law to endow a fetus with legal rights separate from the expectant mother. Laws similar to the federal bill already are on the books in more than half the states, and with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, the federal measure has a good chance of passing. President Bush has pledged to sign the act, which sponsors have renamed "Laci and Conner's Law" in honor of Laci Peterson and her unborn son. Laci's husband, Scott Peterson, has been charged with double murder by prosecutors in California, which has a fetal homicide law. "In the Peterson case, I've heard no one go on radio or TV and say there shouldn't be an indictment for the death of that child," said Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, the act's chief Senate sponsor. "The fact is there are two victims - it's a fiction to say there aren't." Abortion-rights activists counter the gruesome murder case is being exploited callously as part of a broad strategy to undermine the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Read literally, the pending Unborn Victims of Violence Act is not an anti-abortion measure. It explicitly exempts abortion while making murder or injury of an unborn child a separate offense during the commission of certain existing federal crimes. Abortion-rights groups nonetheless are alarmed that Congress might, for the first time, recognize a fetus as a potential victim independent of the expectant mother. "This is one of their strategies - to ascribe legal rights to the 'Whoever killed Laci and Conner Peterson didn 't perform an abortion. It's important to protect unborn children from all threats. ' - Douglas Johnson, National Right to Life Committee On the Net National Right to Life Committee: NARAL Pro-Choice America: fetus separate from the woman," said Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Their intent is to do whatever they can to contribute to the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade and taking away a woman's right to control her reproductive life." Twice since 1999, the Unborn Victims act cleared the U.S. House of Representatives but failed to reach the Senate floor in the face of opposition from abortion-rights supporters. The latest version of the bill has been endorsed by Laci Peterson's parents and siblings. In a letter to sponsors this month, they said the measure "is very close to our hearts." Critics of the bill are upset that its sponsors so readily embraced the link to the high-profile murder case. Renaming the bill for Laci and Conner "is shameless exploitation of a horrific tragedy," Michelman said. "It sickens me." Abortion-rights supporters say violence against pregnant women can be combated without recognizing a fetus as a separate person. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is proposing an alternative bill that would Oregon students kill blood drive over FDA's policy on gay donors ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) -Students at Southern Oregon University say they will cancel their blood drive this term because many gay men are ineligible. Guidelines established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban males who have had a homosexual encounter since 1977. Some students say that goes against the university's anti-discrimination policy and falsely labels AIDS and HIV as a gay men's disease. "I know I've been yelling about it for years," said Daniel Conner, a senior. "I'm a gay man and I don't like being forced to lie to help people." Amanda Guidero, a student government official, decided not to hold the planned blood drive after hearing complaints. "It took me four days to decide and I can walk away 915 So. Hlgglni 542-0638 Reservations Suggested Morels! Morels! Morels! knowing I made the right decision," Guidero said. "I do believe those students had a legitimate concern." According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men who have sex with men represent the largest proportion of new HIV infections at 42 percent. Next come heterosexual couples, then intravenous drug users. Dr. Leslie Holness, medical officer for the division of blood applications for the FDA, said that although the screening process is not ideal, it is continuously reviewed. Officials are "reluctant to change present guidelines if they seem to be protective," Holness said. "You have to balance how much good you're doing with a safe blood supply with the bad feelings you're stirring in groups of people." J Rent It And Get It Done! ISTOATE J, V E N T A L tjtott 500 E Spruce -549-51 14 , Open 7 Days a Week f MOBILE SERVICES! K-9 Mountain Hike Fitness r Program 1 Home Dog Food Delivery Quarter Moon Boota Montana's best used fiction SELL 119 YOUR BOOKQI 1221 Helen Ave., Missoula 408-728-3016 Noon-7, Mond8u,-8ahjrday IS Buying or Selling? Mi Call a Dedra J bEIP ffltfir..iiiiii!i';itiritiiiiif-,wi CRYSTAL VIDEO For Sals CALL NOW ?14 huge selection W i new styles i Now Available at the Good FcxxJ Store FRENCH LEVAINS GERMAN RYES 7lHM IT'SCIinTAII FC3U3... CRAPES, TOO! 15 OFF DRAPES IN MAY Missoula Textile Services "Home of the Two-Fer" Sinre 1915 provide a possible life sentence for any assailant who terminates a pregnancy. In an interview, Lofgren expressed dismay that crime victims like the Petersons are used as "the poster child for the right-wing agenda." She also contended supporters of the Unborn Victims Act were disingenuous in downplaying its potential impact on abortion rights. "I can deal with people who simply disagree on abortion," she said. "What bothers me are people who aren't honest about what they're doing." The bill would not permit prosecution for any abortion to which a woman consented, or for any act by an expectant mother - even an illegal act such as drug abuse - that harmed her unborn child. The bill also would not supersede comparable state laws, but would apply to various federal crimes, including kidnapping across state lines, drug-related drive-by shootings, and assaults occurring on federal property. The measure has strong backing from many anti-abortion groups, including the prominent National Right to Life Committee. Its legislative director, Douglas Johnson, said the act deserves support regardless of its effect on Roe v. Wade. "Whoever killed Laci and Conner Peterson didn't perform an abortion," Johnson said. "It's important to protect unborn children from all threats." Within the anti-abortion movement, some activists criticize the bill because it exempts legal abortions. But Dr. Joe Cook, vice president of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said "we have to approach this in a way that's doable, a step at a time. "This bill is aimed at establishing that a fetus in utero is a human being and has human rights." BEADS"' Bead Classes for Beginners Call 543-0016 to Schedule Bathing Beauties 11-5:30 Seven Pays 517 S Higgins Ave 543-0018 5'iCi mi C3 1L- HJ M MATADOR MADNESS! Great food at affordable fri-iccs" 1502 Dearborn 72g-G60ej

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