Affirmative action supporters hope to follow up last month's institutional show of strength with a display of street power, April 1. Organizers of the Civil Rights March to the Supreme Court predict hundreds of thousands will turn out to "demand that the high court uphold affirmative action in the University of Michigan cases."

Students are expected to form the bulk of marchers, in what organizers describe as an "alliance of all the major organizations fighting for civil rights in the United States." At the center of the network are the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action & Integration And Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) and United for Equality and Affirmative Action (UEAA). "Now is the time to stand up," said the organizers.

A victory at the Supreme Court will open up a new struggle for progress towards integration and equality in education and throughout American society. A victory will present a better opportunity than we have had for generations to reconcile the segregated, unequal reality of our educational system with the hope and pride that the overwhelming majority of Americans of all races feel in the prospect of integration and equality.

A defeat would outlaw any and all active integrationist measures in this society, without which there has never been and can never be any prospect of genuine integration. If positive integrationist measures are barred, Brown v. Board of Education will be a dead letter.

Minority law students have been especially active in the mobilization, aimed at influencing the High Court's impending decision on the University of Michigan Law School's diversity program, opposed by the Bush administration. Endorsers include much of the universe of civil rights, labor, church and student groups.

"BAMN and UEAA have been fighting for this kind of unity between the new civil rights movement and the old civil rights establishment for a long time," said the organizers, in a joint statement. "In particular given the development of a new independent, powerful youth leadership, this kind of united struggle gives us the best chance possible to win our fight in defense of affirmative action and integration at the US Supreme Court."

Organizations representing the widest sectors of American society filed a record-setting number of friend-of-the-court briefs with the Supreme Court on behalf of the University of Michigan defendants, last month. As commented in our February 13 issue, even giant "corporations understand that Black people will not allow the clock to be turned back."

Estrada blocked again

For the third time, Senate Democrats have blunted GOP efforts to quash the filibuster against Miguel Estrada, the Honduran-born corporate lawyer nominated by George Bush for the DC Court of Appeals. The District of Columbia panel is a breeding ground for U.S. Supreme Court justices, but Estrada has refused to discuss his legal views with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats on the committee blocked Estrada's nomination last year. The White House, hoping to make points among Hispanics, resurrected the nomination.

Republicans need 60 votes in the full Senate to cut off the filibuster against Estrada. They got 55 in the latest attempt, with the defection of Democrats Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, John Breaux of Louisiana and Zell Miller of Georgia.

The Bush men now threaten to change the rules under which the Senate has operated since the founding of the republic, by barring filibusters of judicial nominees. "If we continue to filibuster this man, the Senate will be broken, the system will be broken and I think we will have to do what we have to do to make sure that executive nominations get votes once they get on the calendar,'' Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) told the Associated Press.

As described by our colleagues at the North Star Network, "Estrada is trying to be the ultimate stealth judicial candidate." NSN legal analyst and vice president Robert Tarver writes:

Miguel Estrada is, quite simply, a right wing ideologue. He is a member of the Federalist Society and a member of the staunchly conservative Center for the Community Interest, two organizations that uniquely identify his point of view. His former supervisor in the Justice Department, Paul Bender, said that Miguel Estrada is "so ideologically driven that he couldn't be trusted to state the law in a fair and neutral way." At 41 years old, Estrada can shape the law for many years to come, if he is appointed to the federal bench.

Three current U.S. Supreme Court justices arrived there from the DC Court of Appeals.

Morris Brown still standing

In the days before the 1954 Brown decision, the vast bulk of African Americans looked to schools like Morris Brown College to fulfill their dreams of higher education. Founded in 1885, the Atlanta school faces an April 2 deadline to appeal a dis-accreditation decision by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The accreditation battle represents Morris "greatest test," said a Los Angeles Times article. Failure would deal "a blow that would render Morris Brown students ineligible for federal aid as well as hurt their chances for getting into graduate schools.... Losing accreditation would also cost the school its membership in the United Negro College Fund - which this month chipped in $1.47 million in emergency aid -- and ultimately could jeopardize the college's survival."

Morris Brown is an acute case. However, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) face similar problems. The LA Times wrote:

The school's travails place it in stark contrast to better-known Atlanta cousins, such as Spelman and Morehouse colleges, which have hefty endowments and sturdy finances. But experts say that although most of the nation's 107 historically black colleges and universities are healthier than Morris Brown, they tend to face greater challenges than other schools.

"Black colleges generally have a mission that tends to create financial stress. They are always trying to do a lot with a little; they have little endowments; most of their alums are not rich - they're schoolteachers, managers," said William H. Gray III, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund. "Most black colleges don't have 200 living millionaires that can give large checks like white colleges."

Gates grants help public HBCUs

Forty-five historically Black public colleges will benefit from a $15 million Microsoft grant, in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. According to Black South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the initial grant is part of a $100 million dollar Technology Initiative.

"The Congressional Black Caucus was instrumental in developing this partnership as part of its ongoing support of HBCUs.... This visionary initiative will equip tomorrow's minority graduates with the technical skills necessary to successfully compete in this shrinking economy," said Congressman Clyburn, who is also Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. "This partnership is a meaningful solution to bridging the digital divide that has plagued minority communities."

Documenting the obvious

Black children are getting sicker, sooner than whites. "Disabling chronic health conditions are more prevalent and have risen at a faster rate in black children than in whites nationwide, a disparity largely explained by poverty," according to a study published in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The study was based on health data gathered on more than 400,000 children from 1979 through 2000. The stark conclusion: "Black children have higher rates of disability primarily owing to their increased exposure to poverty."

Poverty and ill health are intertwined, said researcher Paul Newacheck of the University of California at San Francisco. "That's really where we ought to be focusing our efforts, limiting those disparities by income, if we really care about the health of children," Newacheck told the Associated Press.

African American children also suffer the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world, a phenomenon explored by Ziba Kashef in the March 6 issue of .

Peace and Health

It should be clear to all but the bamboozled and the bribed that national health insurance plus peace is a winning political combination. However, the four leading Democratic presidential aspirants - Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Senators Kerry, Edwards and Lieberman - are entangled to varying degrees with the corporate Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the warmongering, corporate wing of the party. Nothing resembling universal health insurance or peace can emerge from that direction.

Nevertheless, the March 16 Washington Post reports, "an unlikely alliance of consumer advocates, business leaders and policymakers across the political spectrum has coalesced into a new movement that seeks health insurance for every American." The groundswell is a reaction to the visible disintegration of health services, nationwide, accelerated by two years of Bush public sector slashing and burning.

Bush's domestic policies have aggravated the damage caused by conglomerate takeover of health care, creating an unprecedented crisis. Since the mid-Nineties, said the Post article, conventional wisdom has placed the number of uninsured at around 40 million.

However, the new health insurance alliance is seeking to portray the problem in its broadest terms. During some period in 2001 and 2002, about 75 million Americans under age 65 went without health insurance, according to a new analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Census Bureau data show that more than 75 percent of the uninsured work at least part time and that about 32 percent earned more than $50,000 in 2001.

The crisis creates a political opening large enough for any gaggle of idiots to stumble through to victory over the GOP - unless they have been bribed and bamboozled.

Confident that the DLC will smother any progressive impulses that might emerge among Democrats on The Hill, Republicans vow to push for the full cornucopia of tax cuts promised by their President, no matter the cost of the Iraqi invasion and occupation. Senator Majority Leader "Doctor" Bill Frist told the New York Times he favors passing the cuts before tallying the cost of war. "I'm in favor of growing the economy, which is absolutely necessary if we are to reduce our deficit over time," Frist said.

Pirates getting paid

"A select group of U.S. construction firms now bidding on a lucrative government contract to rebuild a postwar Iraq contributed a combined $2.8 million--68 percent to Republicans--over the past two election cycles," reported the March 12 issue of Capital Eye, a "money-in-politics newsletter" published by the Center for Responsive Politics. Among the firms lining up for the first of an expected $20 billion a year in Iraqi "reconstruction" contracts were The Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp. and, of course, Vice President Dick Cheney's alma mater, Halliburton.

All three are large Republican contributors. According to the Capital Eye report, titled "Postwar Profiteers," Halliburton "was the second-largest donor of the group, with more than $709,000 in contributions."

Cheney continues to pocket about $600,000 yearly from Halliburton, "deferred payment," Britain's Guardian newspaper reports, for the former CEO's services to the company prior to 2000.

Asked whether the payments to Mr. Cheney represented a conflict of interest, Halliburton's spokeswoman, Wendy Hall, said: "We have been working as a government contractor since the 1940s. Since this time, KBR has become the premier provider of logistics and support services to all branches of the military."

In the five years Mr. Cheney was at the helm, Halliburton nearly doubled the amount of business it did with the government to $2.3bn. The company also more than doubled its political contributions to $1.2m, overwhelmingly to Republican candidates.

Here's how the game works: Cheney served as Secretary of Defense prior to taking over the helm at Halliburton. He then used his political network to double Halliburton's government business. As Vice President, he helps usher in a new era of Permanent War, ensuring Permanent Profits for Halliburton and its sisters.

As we wrote in "Rule of the Pirates," December 5:

There has slithered forth a class that creates little or nothing of value, but thrive as political buccaneers. They waylay public resources to create private fortunes. They seize governments, to create advantage or monopoly for themselves and their cronies....

The people in charge of Bush are different from their class predecessors, a relatively recent mutation spawned by hyperactive capital, massive corporate corruption and the maddening allure of global plunder. They are pirates.

Impeach!

 

 

"The phones are ringing off the hook," said the urgent email message. "They are NOT introducing articles of impeachment now. They are only TALLYING votes FOR and AGAINST impeachment as of this moment. So please send a brief message stating whether you are for or against impeachment."

When Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) let it be known that he was looking into the subject of impeaching George Bush, he should have warned his staff what they were in for. Conyers, the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus (35 years seniority), sat on the Judiciary Committee when the impeachment machinery scared Richard Nixon out of Washington, in 1974. Tricky Dick panicked when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered him to release more of his secret White House tapes. By that time, the Judiciary Committee had accepted three Watergate-related articles of impeachment.

This time, the issue is a war. Nixon was never seriously threatened for the many crimes he and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger committed while waging war against Vietnam.

Among the reports that got the Detroit Congressman's phone jumping off the hook was this one, from the March 13 Associated Press:

Conyers, D-Mich., who is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, met Tuesday in Washington with several prominent liberals who oppose war in Iraq, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle.

Boyle says Bush is violated the Constitution and international law after Sept. 11 by supporting the USA Patriot Act, which gave the government broad new investigative powers, and indefinitely imprisoning Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

"These are major attacks on civil rights, civil liberties and the Constitution," Boyle said Thursday. "The list is even going to get bigger, I regret to say."

At the time, a Conyers spokesperson said, "The Congressman believes that pursuing articles of impeachment is not a wise or productive course. However, there are Constitutional and due process issues pertaining to the administration's actions that must be examined."

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has already drawn up Articles of Impeachment against George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for "... violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States... "

International lawyer Francis Boyle's brief, in which he charges Bush with "'a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations' against the Constitution since September 11, 2001" is available in the January 17 issue of Counterpunch.

"The true patriots"

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, March 15, in San Francisco:

We stand here together. Shoulder to shoulder. Refusing to be denied the right to say no to George Bush's war!

This Iraq war is about oil and regional interests.

If it was about ending tyranny, destroying weapons of mass destruction, and restoring democracy to Iraq then George Bush's father could have done that in 1991. But he didn't. Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime were kept in power.

And if we care about civilians suffering under the heel of brutal regimes, and if we really want to defend human rights worldwide, why are we starting and stopping at Iraq?

Why not do something about the suffering in Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Burma, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Afghanistan, just to name a few?

But as we all know nothing will be done.

In fact our military forces and intelligence agencies may actually even worsen the suffering in those countries because it suits our interests to do so. Just like when the American government killed Salvadore Allende and replaced him with Augusto Pinochet.

American style regime change is nothing new.

But when we dare to stand up and tell the truth about how unjust this war is and question the motivations of its protagonists we are called unpatriotic and accused of hating our flag.

I don't hate my country and I certainly don't hate my flag. In fact I love them so much I refuse to be quiet!

No more should we allow special interests to lead yet another generation of young Americans off to war.

Our Founding Father, George Washington, in his Farewell Address of 1796, warned us about the false patriots who would wrap themselves in the American flag and at the same time sell our precious American values to special interests.

George Washington didn't know it then, but we know it now, that he was talking about people like George W. Bush who would betray our values and our country in pursuit of an unnecessary war.

You, gathered here today, are the true patriots.

The day our streets are free from protestors like you will be the day our democracy is dead.

Activists estimated a quarter million Americans demonstrated last weekend. The next rallies will take place in a world that has been changed forever, in the wake of Shock and Awe. Keep up with the people's movement:

Day of Black Solidarity, April 4

A.N.S.W.E.R.

United for Peace and Justice

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Issue Number 34
March 20, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story
They have reached too far
Bush’s road leads to ruin - for himself and his Pirates

3 Guest Commentators
3 Faces of Shock, Awe and Death
1 - Jimmy Mack, When Are You Comin' Back? - The real price of war - By Jorge Mariscal
2 - Colin Powell: A hawk with smooth talons - By Paul Rockwell
3 - Nos Morituri Te Salutamus: Salute of Iraqi Citizens to the Coalition of the Willing - by by Anthony Judge

e-MailBox
Frederick Douglass denounces Bush... Dream Black ticket for '04... Phony, funny Black "fronts"... BC a hit in UK, Greece


 

 

Commentaries in Issue 33 March 13, 2003:

Cover Story
Racism & War - Perfect Together

The Issues
Why Blacks are under-represented at peace rallies... Supreme Court ponders another capital case... Pardon sought for executed woman

e-MailBox
The Unchristians... Onward Sharpton soldiers... Randall Kennedy exhumed


You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.