The Republican war on reason
OPINION EDITOR Macklemore said it best: “the [debt] ceiling can’t hold us.” House Republicans know this and still insist on ruthless and inefficient tactics to force their fantasies and magic budget-balancing solutions on an exhausted American populace. They might oppose drug legalization, but these hypocrites are smoking some pretty strong stuff. Their latest ploy, succinctly termed “No Budget, No Pay,” inflates conservative hubris and excoriates fiscal cliff angst by extorting even more concessions from a nation upheld by a Democratic house, Democratic president and left-leaning voting population. “No Budget, No Pay,” will dock the pay of senators unless they accede to Republican demands for a budget. Your elementary school teacher probably told you this nation was built on compromise. Yet the old adage “a compromise is where nobody gets what they want” is probably more accurate, especially when today’s House Republicans craft the agreement. Putative deals, like those engendered by the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling negotiations, yield mediocrity and complacency in a decrepit socioeconomic climate yearning for radical change. In the climactic fiscal cliff talks, President Obama deteriorated into endless concessions, while disgruntled and unsportsmanlike Republicans devolved into a bargaining strategy I perfected when I was five years old—say no to every proposition and reject all deals as fantastic chicanery. Backup parachutes eventually opened while we plummeted in free fall, but golden parachutes for the wealthy proved more effective. Conservatives managed to get their favorite two percent of the population a deal by pushing tax increases up from the originally proposed $250,000 income level to individual earners making $400,000 or more each year and households earning $450,000. The new rate for the top tax bracket now rests at its Clintonian level of 39.6 percent. Meanwhile, French politicians mull 75 percent tax rates for their citizens. Essentially, several hundred Americans fought to defend one or two percent of the population against executive will, the majority of the legislature and the votes of millions of their countrymen. To delay their inevitable capitulation on the debt ceiling talks, Congressional Republicans tried to waterboard the country into confessing a need for lower taxes and harsh spending cuts by bringing it to the brink of drowning in default and utter fiscal chaos and disarming it with talk of a new budget. We haven’t crafted a budget since 2009, however, for good reasons. We have tougher issues to worry about—how to stop banging our heads on the debt ceiling, for instance. A budget is also unnecessary. Congress allocates money through appropriations bills, using the budget as a non-binding framework. Its only real use is as a conservative smoke screen while Republicans keep the default bomb ticking. Now Republican megalomaniacs and hacks have come forward with their exorbitant claims to clean up the economy they ruined—in record time. P90X has given Paul Ryan more than just big muscles; his oversized head thinks it can reduce the deficit by $6.2 trillion in 10 years with no tax increases. We cannot compromise with traitors and plutocrats. We cannot cut deals with people who deal in the subsistence of poor starving families and the financial solvency of middle-class workers to sustain the abstruse and indulgent lifestyles of top earners. And they do this like terrorists—with prolonged political torture and threats. This constitutes treason of all the progress Americans voted for in November and everything their progressive president has promised. Just remember, the last time President Obama came up against a ruthless terrorist, he took him down hard.


FEBRUARY 8, 2013

Media hysteria hinders gun control debate
organizations that favor greater regulation of firearms to those that oppose those regulations,” President Glassner said via email. “Seldom if ever does fearmongering produce greater insight or objective knowledge, and too often, it distracts our attention from real problems and from realistic solutions to those problems. Commonly pro-gun organizations, like the National Rifle Association, cite violence in media for the rise in gun related deaths.” But the debates regarding policy and media seem to criminalize certain positions held by individuals and organizations. It is important to approach news critically and be skeptical of statements by special interest groups that pick and choose statistics to share. The National Rifle Association frequently states that most Americans support the right to bear arms when petitioning the government for easy access to guns. While it is true that most Americans do not want to rid the nation of guns, the NRA is purposefully avoiding statistics. A recent Gallup poll shows that 92 percent of Americans support requiring background checks at gun shows. The same poll found that only six percent of Americans today always support the NRA’s position, while 61 percent claim to do so only “most” or “some of the time.” Ordinary citizens are not cruel for holding polarized positions on gun control. While my friends might hold different positions regarding the Second Amendment, I understand that their positions are grounded in a sense of security and freedom. However, we cannot allow media and large organizations to capitalize on our fear, creating hostile debates and causing finger pointing when citizens are acting out of organic concerns. The problem arises when we allow political organizations, news and social media to capitalize on our concerns and shame ordinary Americans who, like me, are only trying to keep our world safe.



STAFF WRITER When I heard about the tragic acts of recent gun violence that resulted in the deaths of innocent Americans, I was deeply saddened. The thought of losing a loved one to gun violence both scared me and helped me to sympathize with the affected communities. Humanity has a right to live free from fear, and the government has a responsibility to protect this freedom. After the news of these tragedies I, like most Americans, developed a position on gun control that I thought would best prevent future mass shootings and gun violence. Unfortunately, I have encountered hostile opposition. The debate over the right to bear arms has dominated national news since before the new year, and it continues today. Anchors and ordinary Americans alike quickly dismissed opponents’ views on the definition of the Second Amendment as politicized or misdirected. An anonymous Internet user articulated her pro-gun opinions by blaming the media and its misdirection but tried to sell her argument by packaging her opinion as a quote from Morgan Freeman. He never, in fact, uttered the quote (nor was it based on Freeman’s comments on gun control). If you are a Facebook user like me, you probably saw dozens of your friends rally behind this anti-celebrity culture quote, which, ironically, was spread and trusted because of celebrity culture. This quote blamed modern

gun violence on a lack of mental health awareness and victimized television: “Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities,” the post claimed Freeman had said. It encouraged that attention be directed towards mental health research instead of anti-gun legislation. It ended with a call to action by telling Americans that they “can help by turning off the news.” I am not advocating for the media; I am weary of how political ideas are being packaged to encourage you to share the expresser’s view, especially when the message capitalizes on fear. Another “fact” frequently thrown around was the previous disarming of citizens directly before mass killings like the Holocaust. The crafters of these images hoped to capitalize on fear and encourage Americans to run for their guns.

Glassner and student weigh in on America’s fear culture.
Lewis & Clark President Barry Glassner is a sociologist and social commentator who has closely studied mass hysteria. He published thoughts on this subject in his book The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. “By means of fearmongering, all sorts of groups sell products and policies, from Volvos to homes in gated communities, from memberships in

Equality or quality? Realigning military priorities
STAFF WRITER Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last month that the U.S. military will be lifting its 20-year-old ban on women serving on the front lines of combat, announcing that if “they can meet the qualifications for the job, then they should have right to serve.” The rule change was long overdue, at last bringing the military closer to reflecting the principal of equality of opportunity we like to think we exemplify in this country. In the armed forces, official combat experience is crucial to advancement in leadership positions, whether in the field or behind a desk. Because of this, the combat restriction was not so much a glass ceiling for women as an armor-plated one, banning many individuals from leadership roles for which they were perfectly capable. On top of the individual aspect, this exclusion also hurt the military as an organization; if you don’t even consider 50 percent of the population for command positions, chances are you’ve missed at least a few good candidates. What’s more, it is a welldocumented fact that women have been working—and dying—on the front lines already. Because of the non-traditional nature of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is no longer clear exactly what the front line is, and despite the official 1994 policy banning women from the most exposed combat units, many have been attached to such battalions as auxiliary forces. One hundred and fifty two women have already lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The proposed change in women’s status is a step toward acknowledging how we really fight and who is really doing the fighting—and it brings our military better in line with our principles as a nation generally underrepresented in the military. This is a noble goal, but lowering standards for the express purpose of making numbers match up is the wrong way to go about promoting equality for women in combat. Physical fitness guidelines are stringent for a reason, and weakening them could end up hurting military effectiveness. What’s more, lower standards could detract from the contributions of women who do make it into combat roles. Certain conservative commentators are liable to release the bloodhounds at the first whiff of the word “quota” and changing standards carelessly only throws these people a bone. There are already qualified female soldiers out there, and they shouldn’t have to deal with flak. Of course, reviewing the standards is in itself not wrong; the nature of war is changing, and as we were reminded recently, most our soldiers aren’t going to need training in bayonet-wielding anytime soon. Perhaps the future of our armed forces will be more about sitting in a room piloting a drone than going on field missions, and physical fitness won’t matter as much. But changes should be made with the overall capability of our armed forces in mind. Though equal opportunity is important, it’s not the end goal of the military. Any change in policy that sacrifices quality for the sake of contrived “equality” not only hurts the military as an organization but also cheapens the accomplishments of the women who serve.

Advocating for modern women in modern warfare.
So what could go wrong? That could depend on your definition of “equality.” Military leadership has released few details, but there has been some talk of changing physical fitness standards in order to make active duty more accessible to women, who are

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