The Vassar ChroniCle

InternatIonal In front of enemy lInes: InsIde seoul 8 Debate CompetIng vIews on CannabIs legalIzatIon 12

vassar page 3


the vassar ChronICle

Table of ConTenTs
Vassar & Local National & Foreign Affairs Debate & Discourse The Last Page ediTor-in-Chief
Steve Keller

3 5 12 16

senior ediTors
Laura Durbin, Vassar Chronicle

The staff of The Chronicle, clockwise from upper left: Abby Krolik, Michael Greene, Lane Kisonak, Kathryn Bauder, Jeremy Bright, Matthew Brock, William Serio, Andrew Bloom, Michelle Cantos, Steve Keller, Ethan Madore, and Alaric Chinn.

Jeremy Bright Matthew Brock

sTaff ediTorial

The Vassar Chronicle to provide a muchneeded alternative to liberal echo-chamber

ProduCTion & design CoPy & sTyle Vassar & loCal naTl. & frgn. affairs debaTe & disCourse hisTorian illusTraTor CoPy assisTanTs

William Serio Alaric Chinn Michelle Cantos Lane Kisonak Ethan Madore Michael Greene Tian An Wong Kathryn Bauder Andrew Bloom Abigail Krolik


oday it is rare in the United States to find moderate Democrats, independents, and conservatives working together, let alone solidified in an alliance. But the fact that the Moderate, Independent, Conservative Alliance (MICA) not only exists but thrives as a student organization at Vassar College speaks to the unique political climate of our campus, where ultra-liberalism has become an institutionalized and selfperpetuating religion. If one focuses only on clubs sponsored by our student government, the Vassar Student Association (VSA), he or she would see that there are over twenty politicized clubs, but only a motley coalition of moderate Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, and conservatives to represent the “right-of-center” element of our political union. However, it should be fairly obvious that the aforementioned coalition is hardly rightwing. This is because of the unique nature of Vassar. Using a global standard, the politics of the United States can be argued to be generally right-leaning. Vassar, however, does not follow this trend; on the surface, the predominant beliefs on this campus tend to skew left Other schools, such as Yale University, have much more intellectual diversity in their student clubs, or at least a College Republicans chapter. Yet, for better or worse, Vassar only has MICA, and that a certain strata of the campus could ever perceive it as “far-right” or “reactionary” indicates the extreme degree of polarization and the extent to which Vassar’s radicalism is out of touch with the world beyond the Vassar bubble. Yet, as this journal shows, a num-

ber of MICA members and, moreover, many of the editors of this journal, came to Vassar identifying as some incarnation of “liberal”—some because of regional political conceptions, such as being pro-choice while growing up in the Bible Belt, others because they generally identified more with the American liberal tradition and the Democratic Party than with their alternatives. Indeed, may continue to do so. However, what we all have gained is an awareness that convenient labels such as “liberal” or “conservative” can fall far short of actually identifying an individual’s beliefs—one’s views need not be imprisoned by prefabricated ideologies. In this vein, much self-reflection, analysis, and philosophical change came after arriving at Vassar and wondering “If this is liberalism, then what am I?” Immersion in radicalism can lead to the questioning of fundamental assumptions that some might hold as truth. The Word of Vassar’s religion of liberalism is one that ironically can assume very illiberal forms. To illustrate, Vassar College once held an ignominious “Red Light” Speech Code rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); however, in our day, Vassar’s free speech lamp has been completely extinguished, for “When a private university states clearly that it holds a certain set of values above a commitment to freedom of speech, FIRE does not rate that university.” Real diversity is more than skindeep, yet our college seems actively and passively socially engineered to deter non-leftists from matriculating; “Why

would they want to come here?” is an unfortunate but frequent refrain that we have heard from students and administrators alike. Here we return to the initial point— the tendency of Vassar’s politics to skew to the left, exclude the right, and leave the middle uncomfortable. While Vassar’s politics tend to be dominated by the left-wing, we at MICA do not believe that Vassar’s body politic is accordingly skewed to one end of the political paradigm. The disconnect between the Vassar community and its campus-wide conversation makes for an inaccurate reflection; too often we fall back on deceptive political labels to avoid challenging it. An example of the fallacy of political labels: It is a misnomer to separate conservatism and progressivism; conservatives oppose what they see as unnecessary change and legislation, not progress. For Vassar College to end up with superficial political discourse in the 21st century is tragically ironic; what was once established as a progressive intellectual forum has in many ways become an illiberal and radicalized bastion of the far-left. And so we christen the inaugural issue of The Vassar Chronicle with these ideas in mind: Open debate, substantive discussion, and a willingness to get beyond labels and stereotypes as a catalyst for conversations, while representing the myriad and nuanced “right-of-center” voices that have been marginalized. —The Staff Editorial has been agreed upon by a two-thirds majority of the Chronicle’s Editorial Bord.

Letters Policy: The Vassar Chronicle encourages its readers to voice their opinions by writing Letters to the Editor, several of which will be selected for publication in each issue without regard to the author’s race, religion, sex, gender, sexual identity, or ideology. Please address correspondence to Nota bene: The opinions published in The Vassar Chronicle do not necessarily represent those of the editors, except for the Staff Editorial, which is supported by at least two thirds of the Editorial Board. Advertising Policy: All advertisements will be clearly demarcated as such. Contact for rates. All material is subject to editors’ discretion, without regard for race, religion, or sex. M.I.C.A. is a student umbrella organization that aims to further moderate, independent, conservative, and libertarian thought on campus by sponsoring events designed to expand the breadth of Vassar’s political dialogue; to this end, M.I.C.A. produces The Vassar Chronicle. Contact to become involved with the club.
Our editors stand behind their publication.

for each mistake found in The Vassar Chronicle

Win 5¢

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 2

Vassar classrooms hold low standard of discourse
Overreliance on class discussion harms students’ learning
idea to its root. To make up for our lack of good comments we comfort ourselves with assurances that there are no right answers, that all input is valuable. Just because we reject the one-answer model, just because we have given up the search for objective truth, does not justify simply bringing up whatever we want and leaving it to hang. It does not mean we should only speak in the terms of “I find it interesting that...” or “One thing that struck me is...” that have become the vulgar language of the academy. The first step in freeing ourselves from sub-par classroom discussions is recognizing that these are not what actual conversations are like. At no other point in our lives than in our education do we consider a conversation a group of twenty people all fighting to get their statement out. A true conversation is organic; it’s between a few people who care about the topic who not only disagree but also stick around to explore their disagreement. We need to reclaim conversations. Due to size and time restraints I think this largely has to take place outside of the classroom. It sounds cliché, but we should be encouraged to engage with our classmates more. What if a professor gave us the assignment to meet with two or three people once a week for lunch and discuss the readings there instead of in class? If not amazingly successful, it would at least be an interesting way to push our education. An in-class fix for professors would be changing the way in which they respond to students’ statements. Instead of praising a student for making a good point or fishing for their own ideology in the class, professors should respond aggressively to all things said in classroom discourse. The claims with well-reasoned argumentation. Such methods would not only focus but also deepen our discourse. It is far better for education for us to learn to have these focused conversations than to keep our current show-and-tell style of discussion. Also it’s important to shed the notion that classroom discussion should hold a sacred and unchallengeable role in our education. Because of the challenge of having an engaging conversation, I feel like the role of lecture should not be disregarded. It’s too often become a dirty word on campus. Without lecture we lose the background information, the theoretical frameworks we need to have fruitful conversations. Yes, it’s easy to squeeze generalities from a reading to avoid challenging detail-oriented reasoning, but this keeps our discussions general, bereft of context, and often irrelevant. We should leave class feeling like we’ve been working together in the search for understanding, towards embracing complexities, rather than learning what each of us finds interesting that day. We are fortunate for many of our brilliant professors at Vassar and I think that, as the semesters go by, it’s most often an inspiring lecture—rather than a discussion—which stays with me. Professors are experts in their fields, and while I don’t think we should accept ideas on their authority alone, they should be recognized as our primary resource in learning. They should be aggressive towards our answers but open to our questions, and while we should give pause to consider arguments we make in class, we shouldn’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Finally, participation grades, while they are meant to encourage discourse, too often force it. I can understand the practicality in using discussion as a grade in advanced seminar-style classes, which are meant to be the crowning moments of our undergraduate years. But in introductory and intermediate classes, participation grades too often perpetuate our sound-bite classroom culture. We should recognize these grades don’t make sense because participation shouldn’t end with being able to say something in class. When I talk about an idea from class with friends, when I think about a reading, when I listen to another person speak in class—that is also a form of participation. If professors need reassurance that their students are engaging in the material they can put more weight on essays and short reaction papers. Let the talk come as it may. —Ethan Madore ’12 is Debate & Discourse Editor for the Vassar Chronicle.

vassar & loCal

A typical discussion at Vassar College. Ethan Madore Debate & Discorse Editor

Tian An Wong, Vassar Chronicle


assar, like many of its peers, advertises its low student/facility ratio and small class sizes with pride. With small classes—the assertion goes— we can truly get to know our professors, be a name, not a number, and engage in fruitful classroom discussions. But Vassar’s classroom discussions do not always meet a high standard of discourse and they do not always enlighten more than they frustrate. In fact, looking back on the past two and a half years of taking social science courses, I find that truly intellectually and invigorating classroom discussions have been the minority. To say this is not to say anything of the quality of students who come to Vassar, nor does it reflect poorly upon the number of brilliant professors that we have. It is a statement on Vassar’s classroom culture. Instead of class conversations being in-depth, intelligent debates that challenge student beliefs, they are often shallow, throwaway sessions that merely present opinions. The first problem evident in our discussions is time. Vassar has an average class size of 17; most introductory and intermediate classes run for 75 minutes. That leaves each of us with fewer than four and a half minutes to speak. In classes that reach the upper limit of 30 students, each of us only have two and a half minutes. This is, of course, assuming that all 75 minutes would be given to the students. Oftentimes, a professor will open discussion only for the last third of class in which case we are lucky to even have a minute to speak. If the cornerstone of education is engaging in conversation with our peers, we don’t have much to work with. In smaller seminars, in which the time-per-

student can reach upwards of 15 minutes, the chances of getting enough time to really make a point increases but the burden is still high. It is a lot harder than we typically admit to make a truly intelligent, thought-out, logical argument. It can take us hours to write even one paragraph of a paper, yet we are apt to speak in class like we are bursting with the profound. When a professor makes participation a large part of our grades he or she forces us to compete over a very scarce resource. Natural urges to sound well-reasoned are drowned out by the frantic need to say something. Those of us who are willing to sacrifice our time to think in order to be the first to raise a hand gain the advantage over those who bring a measure of humility to the discussion and choose their remarks with care. Not everyone has the same interests, not everyone can find inspiration in (or even the time to do) every reading and thus our discussions become eclectic grab-bags of thought. No sooner has someone analyzed a specific passage from the text than another wants to explore the author’s thoughts on a separate issue. The art history major waits for a chance to bring up a contemporary art movement while the anthropologist latches onto a comparison of communal spaces across cultures. Yes, a multidisciplinary approach is good, but we too often cart the discussion off to an area where we feel comfortable rather than bringing our unique viewpoints to the material. The search for that satisfaction, that “I’ve had my moment for the day” thrill, unfocuses our discourse. A good idea might be repeated around the room but it is never engaged. Fighting for limited opportunities to drop our two cents, we are never comfortable with the silences that come in any organic conversation; we seldom take the time to follow an

“Vassar’s classroom discussions do not always meet a high standard of discourse and they do not always enlighten more than they frustrate.”
professors who lead the best discussions are the ones who answer students’ statements with a series of questions challenging their assumptions from the position of a “devil’s advocate.” If there really is no objective answer, as we are told, professors should work to demonstrate it. The Socratic method—which has fallen far too out of use over the past couple thousand years—is an effective way of teaching others to think critically and back up their

do you lIke what you’re readIng? want joIn the staff of The Vassar ChroniCle? natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs, arts & Culture, last page, and Copy edItors needed.
page 3 ChroniCle, deCember 2010

Parking regulations overly restrictive to students
already being punished for having a car. Of course, you know when to chase ideals and when to be pragmatic, so you pay the fee. Just as you’re leaving, you ask where you’re supposed to park. You didn’t really read the Parking Regulations before signing—I mean, who does that? You’re told you can only park in the New Hackensack Lot. It’s right here, outside the Security Office. The nice lady adds that upperclassmen can park on campus after 6 p.m. on weekdays, anytime on weekends, and in the South Lot at all times—presumably, to give you something to look forward to. You leave, vaguely amused that even the South Lot, which you, as a freshman, are not allowed to make use of, is so far away that it is not considered to be “on campus.” Speaking of far away, it takes you about an hour to get back to Cushing. Ordinarily it would have taken you 15-20 minutes, but seeing as how you’re a freshman, you get a wee bit lost. By the time you finally make it back, Ma is hysterical. She thought you’d died. “Challenge” doesn’t even begin to cover it, and it’s all because Vassar gives preferential parking treatment to upperclassmen. Now, things do improve marginally for you after freshman year. Still, every time you pass the half-empty North Lot, which is reserved for Faculty, Staff, Administration, and Visitors, you feel like it’s mocking you. “Oh, sorry, it’s not 6 p.m. yet, I guess you’ll have to park in the South Lot.” Look on the bright side: It’s a nice day. For walking. Miles. One day around 2:30 p.m., you decide to do a little investigating. You find that the North Lot contains about 130 parking spaces—of those, approximately 48 are taken. Of these 48, 12 naughty cars have student stickers, six appear to have no stickers at all (visitors?), and 30 fall into the faculty/staff/administrator bundle. Illegal student parking aside, there are 100 free spaces on this particular day for six visitors, while you, a student who is paying 54 grand for your 2nd/3rd/4th year in a row, have to park over the hills and far away. The expansion of North Lot, in accordance with the master plan, would add even more spaces, sure, but unless the college starts prioritizing finding parking spaces for actual students rather than

vassar & loCal

One Vassar student driven to desperation. Emil Ostrovski Contributor

Michelle Cantos, Vassar Chronicle


veryone at Vassar College is familiar with “The Bubble.” The College, to its credit, seems intent on challenging the idea that a student’s time at Vassar can be considered complete without ever leaving campus. We have the Poughkeepsie Shuttle and a new addition to Freshman Orientation Week, which constitutes a scavenger-type hunt throughout the local area. There’s programming like “Meet-Me-In-Poughkeepsie,” and the recent pilgrimage to the Galleria and Roosevelt Cinemas to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” all are designed to show students that something does indeed lie beyond Vassar’s perpetually unlocked gates. But all of these amount to what I’d call “small steps” in the right direction. The elephant in the room, hiding behind that pink lampshade over there, is the unfriendly student-parking atmosphere. As someone who’s lived in the area since the fifth grade, I can attest to the fact that Poughkeepsie is not the easiest place in the world to navigate if you don’t have a car. But having a car

on campus, as even Vassar’s own Parking Regulation page professes, “…remains a challenge.” Here is the question we need to ask: Is the status quo making getting out into Poughkeepsie more of a challenge than it needs to be? So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? You are a freshman, and it is move-in day. Two scary-looking rugby players have just made off with a bunch of your stuff, Mom is getting weepy three hours ahead of schedule, and Dad mumbles something to you about “taking care” of your car. You vaguely recall an email conversation with something called a “student fellow” about some annoying, bureaucratic process involving the Security Office, registration, and stickers. A few self-pitying sighs and a half hour later, you manage to find the Security Office, where you fill out paperwork, get your sticker, and are told that you will be charged 50 dollars per semester for parking. You wonder to yourself, “Why charge you for parking anyway?” Are you not entitled to make full use of Vassar’s facilities by virtue of being a student? Isn’t 54 grand enough? Granted fifty dollars is not a tremendous amount of money, but it definitely feels like you’re

visitors, all that means for you is that the North Lot will have something new to mock you about. “Oh, sorry, it’s not 6 p.m. yet. Pity, considering I have so very, very many empty spaces. But alas, it is not to be!” Given this level of sass from an inanimate object, you might not even want to bother with having a car on campus in the first place. And if you don’t have a car on campus, you are far less mobile and, thus, much more likely to stay within the confines of the Vassar Bubble. On the other hand, it doesn’t take your level of genius to figure, even if it isn’t possible to let students freely park in the North Lot, there could be some kind of a raffle system in which a limited number of students could win the right to park there. Winners could park there for say, a semester or a year. After winning, they could become ineligible to win again, thereby guaranteeing that the privilege gets passed around as much as possible. With all this figured out, you figure you should probably get back to your room now, because it is rainy and cold, and you’re tired of peering at car windows and generally looking like a creeper. On your way back, you see a group of students lounging in the MPR, playing video games, and laughing. Someone mentions food, and, on cue, a friend appears from out of the kitchen, bearing steaming cups. Outside, there is freezing rain, but inside, there is hot chocolate and “Super Smash Brothers Brawl.” These are the moments that make you believe in the community at Vassar, and you think it’s a pity that so many of these moments are constrained to campus. You think that if there was more spilling over—into the cafés and restaurants, movie theaters, and bowling alleys outside the walls of our school—everyone involved would benefit. For that to really happen, there needs to be a shift in the attitude of the administration with regard to student parking and student ownership of vehicles. There needs to be a move toward facilitating, rather than impeding. This shift should be made in concert with the effort the College is already exerting to bring students into more contact with the local community. —Emil Ostrovski ’12 is a Philosophy major.

do you want to make your voICe heard? the vassar ChronICle enCourages you to submIt Columns and letters to the edItor.
ContaCt mICa.vsa@ “speeCh Is CIvIlIzatIon Itself.” - thomas mann
ChroniCle, deCember 2010 page 4

UN should give India permanent Security Council membership Media overlooks true benefit of third-world representation
Matthew Brock Senior Editor

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
the then communist Russia and China. At that time, these five countries were the dominant powers in the world—possessing the vast majority of the world’s military strength and economic power—so it is natural that they were given control over the UN at that time. Meanwhile, no one would have thought to give representation to Japan or Germany, the defeated Axis powers, let alone India, a mere colony. While this system may have been effective in the 1940s, the world today is a very different place. Unfortunately, the Security Council has worked to insulate itself from change. Germany, for instance, has since become a dominant power, managing the entire European Union’s economy. It is by all means a bigger player in world politics today— than, for instance, France—but it is still denied membership. However, while whether or not France deserves its seat on the Security Council can be a subject of debate, it is fair to say that the European Union already has enough representation in the UN. That said, India represents a different case entirely. With over 1.1 billion residents, India represents over one sixth of the world to the United Nations, almost twice that of the United States, England, France, and Russia put together. To place complete control over the international government into mainly European hands—a small fraction of the world’s population—amounts to nothing less than neocolonialism. This power structure ensures that the UN is guided almost exclusively by Western ideals, which may not be in the best interest of the global community. Just look at Iraq—can anyone say that they are better off thanks to Western intervention? Granted, during the Cold War, Russia would not have been considered a member of the West, but again, times have changed and it is time for the United Nations to adapt.


ast month, President Barack Obama endorsed India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries. Since then the media and the blogosphere has been abuzz with opinions in support and against this decision. The UN Security Council is currently made up of five permanent members: the United States, Russia, France, England, and China—each of whom have the power to veto any of the UN’s decisions—and ten temporary members that are selected to serve for two years and do not have a veto. India is already slated to serve on the Security Council as a temporary member starting in January 2011, but to give it permanent membership would greatly increase its power in the Council by giving it the ability to unilaterally prevent the UN from taking a given course of action through the use of its veto. The New York Times points out that the United States needs India’s support in the upcoming G-20 conference, which will focus in part on the Federal Reserve’s plan to increase the United States’ money supply, thus causing the dollar to depreciate, making its exports cheaper internationally. Cheaper exports from the United States would be able to compete with those of developing countries, such as China, and will therefore be met with strong opposition. This means the United States needs as many allies as it can get. Officials from the Chinese government, on the other hand, have come out in opposition to India’s receiving a permanent seat due to the longstanding border dispute between the two countries. Additionally, energy companies have decried the allegedly secret, suspicious nature of these agreements, some of which involve the promotion of alternative fuel sources. Meanwhile, an editorial published in The Wall Street Journal points out that this endorsement is meaningless as the United States has also endorsed Japan and Germany decades ago with no tangible results, and its endorsement of India is unlikely to fair any better. While these different sides all make legitimate points, they all lose sight of the larger issue. It’s not whether or not India can be offered a permanent seat or whether or not doing so harms or benefits a given country. The question is whether or not offering India a permanent seat on the UN Security Council would benefit the UN as a whole, and the answer is yes. The UN Security Council was created in the aftermath of World War II, and its membership reflects the world as it was at that time. Permanent membership was awarded to the Allied Powers, with an effort to achieve a balance between the three capitalist nations, the United States, England and France, and

President Obama and Manmohan Singh, the current President of India.

“To place complete control over the international government into mainly European hands amounts to nothing less than neocolonialism.”
The question then becomes, if the UN truly needs a non-Western voice on the Security Council, then why should they choose India? India is one of the fast-developing BRIC countries, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, and China. While the European and American economies are expected to decline the BRIC countries are, by all reports, going to be the economic leaders of the 21st century and are therefore, at the very least, deserving of status equal to that of the 20th century economic leaders who now hold permanent seats on the Security Council. Furthermore, India holds the distinc-

tion of being the world’s largest democracy—it practices a parliamentary form of government with the upper house of parliament, the House of States, being elected by state legislatures while the lower house, the House of the People, is elected directly by Indian citizens. While holding democratic elections is clearly not required for a country to serve as a permanent member of the Security Council, adding a non-Western, liberal democracy to the roster would help legitimize the UN’s efforts to fight tyranny and spread democracy into the developing world. Finally, it is important to consider the criteria that originally determined permanent membership on the Security Council: Military strength. The five permanent members were selected because they were the victors in World War II. Even today, the five permanent members have the five largest military budgets in the world. India is currently ranked ninth in military spending, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The three countries that rank higher than India, but do not already hold permanent membership, are Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Germany would not be a suitable choice because Europeans are already overrepresented on the Security Council. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, which is unsuitable for permanent membership. Member countries all receive the power to veto all of the UN’s decisions, but most states have some system of checks and balances to ensure that this power is used fairly. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is an absolute monarchy, so giving it a permanent seat on the Security Council would essentially give one man the unchecked power to halt the actions of the entire world government—a lessthan-ideal situation, especially if the UN ever seeks to take action against a Muslim nation. The question then becomes, why not

Japan? After all, it has a strong economy and is ranked sixth in terms of military spending. However, Japan’s economic greatness, like that of the U.S., England, and France, was left in the 20th century. India, in contrast, is a rising star in the global economy and will grow into the position while Japan fades away. Furthermore, regardless of how much it spends on its military, India is a nuclear power, which places it on par with the other states represented on the Security Council. We live in a world where the balance of power is shifting away from its traditional centers. The West is no longer the center of economic growth, and the most deadly weapons are no longer exclusive to a pair of world superpowers. Europe, America and even Russia can no longer justify their hegemonic control over the United Nations, so it is time to let in some new blood. As one of the fastest growing economies, India’s support will soon be critical to UN policies, so it is best to offer them a larger stake in the UN’s success or failure. Additionally, as a nuclear power with the tenth largest military budget in the world, India has the military might to back up its economic strength in world affairs. Furthermore, offering India a permanent seat on the Security Council would increase diversity, helping legitimize the UN as a truly global governing body, and perhaps make the developing world more willing to listen to UN policies. In this changing world, the global power structure has to adapt if it wishes to survive, and a smart first step to take is to give India a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. —Matthew Brock ’11 is Senior Editor for The Vassar Chronicle. He also serves as Contributing Editor for The Miscellany News. He is a Political Science major with a correlate sequence in public policy at Vassar College.

page 5

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

Bipartisan solutions to the environmental crisis
schisms which have framed the debate thus far—Democrats versus Republicans and, concurrently, proponents of ACES versus hardened climate change skeptics—are products, respectively, of the Republicans’ reluctance to spend large sums of money on a politically unviable investment, and of individual GOP members’ need to frame the issue in terms that set them favorably apart from their Democratic counterparts. If there is one way to bring Republicans solidly aboard climate change efforts, it seems that it will have to be through the destruction of these artificially constructed schisms. Integral to this approach, of course, is the assumption that Republicans are working in good faith to govern. To believe otherwise would be to erode the integrity of the Democrats’ negotiating position, especially as a minority and in pursuit of such far-reaching legislation. Challenges like this one—in which divided government has caused self-interest to be the primary motor of legislative progress—have cropped up throughout modern U.S. history, and have proved to be surmountable. In presidential responses to these situations, there are two building blocks of strategy which could be of use to President Obama and the Democrats of the 112th Congress: Appealing to the public and sharing credit. We can see both of these in President Truman’s pet project: The Marshall Plan of 1948. Factors working against Truman included a weak economy and an isolationist, Republican-dominated Congress often known as the “DoNothing Congress.” Truman ultimately tapped the American public as a source of support, but in so doing maintained a tone that both underscored the urgency of restoring Europe to economic stability and avoided painting dissenters as opponents. Truman’s rhetoric of trust was likely as crucial to getting bipartisan support as the growing threat of communism in Eastern Europe. Not to be overlooked, of course, was his willingness both to cede on one of his key platform planks—price control—and share credit with the Republicans for passage of the Marshall Plan. Whether a strategy like Truman’s could be replicated is certainly questionable in today’s far more hostile political climate, but the threat of climate change is certainly as global in scope as was the threat of Communism. Getting Republicans and the people who vote for them to realize this truth won’t be easy, but making the case to ship what would, today, be over a $100 billion overseas, would certainly have been no picnic for the Truman administration. Making the political case is, of course, only half the battle. Stopping climate change is the end for which we strive, but what means can we find when the Republican Party’s platform ostensibly forbids the government from allowing the spending this will require? Democrats, especially the Progressive Caucus—who now constitute a plurality of House Democrats—will have to swallow their pride and agree to a good deal of conservative fiscal policy if they hope to bring climate change legislation back from the dead. In terms of policy, there are a number of things on which both parties could probably agree—Democrats, despite the fact that the policies are center-right, and Republicans precisely because they are. Two things Republicans profess to support are energy independence and nuclear power. Both of these have been used as a lure, to a limited extent, in pursuit of Republican support for a Democratic bill, but so far to no avail. This could change, however, as Henry Waxman (D-CA), current Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is expected to be replaced by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), who favors expanding nuclear power across the country as a means of creating jobs. Democrats still voice concern over nuclear power, largely due to questions of what to do with toxic waste (my solution—make the next fleet of spacecraft crash-proof and shoot the stuff straight into the void). Nuclear power falls under the Republicans’ “all-of-the-above” approach to energy reform (which, interestingly, in their 2009 response to ACES, they frame as the foremost solution to the quest for “energy independence”). Also included are natural gases, which are cleaner than oil and coal but, like their fossil fuel brethren, nonrenewable. The GOP asserts the viability of alternative sources of oil, but these solutions promise only to make dents in American oil imports, which does not address the long-term problem. The Republicans, to their credit, push for tax credits for renewable sources of power, such as “wind, solar, and biomass.” All things considered, nuclear power and tax credits could serve as the cornerstone of a milestone bipartisan compromise. The former could be made palatable if the Republicans—ever the good advertisers—are able to convince Democrats that there is a safe way to store nuclear waste. The latter choice would give individual Democrats an opportunity to look good by cutting taxes—much in the same way Truman’s Republicans took an axe to their unfavorable reputation as isolationists via the Marshall Plan. The sum of a bill that would take this general shape would, ultimately, be good policy. The scenario imagined here is obviously optimistic to the extreme, but despite its unlikelihood, it demonstrates that there are possibilities to compel Republicans to co-opt the climate change movement by making it politically advantageous for them to do so. If they get the credit for bringing about this change that is so desperately needed, so be it. If cap-and-trade never sees the light of day but America’s energy begins to be concentrated in renewable, clean, and safe sources, so be it. If they frame it as a tax cut, a creator of jobs, or a repudiation of Obama’s blatantly pro-global warming policies, so be it. If the partisan divide can be overcome by making climate change the chief conservative issue of the 2012 presidential election, so be it. Divided government could destroy the world as we know it. Or, through cooperation it could save it. —Lane Kisonak ’13 is the National & Foreign Affairs Editor for The Vassar Chronicle.

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs

Greenhouse gases contribute to global climate change. Lane Kisonak National & Foreign Affairs Editor


n my first contribution to The Chronicle, I hope to capture the inclusive spirit of this new publication by taking an issue which affects us all—man-made climate change—and separating it from connections it has to partisan, ideological labels such as “liberal” or “Democratic.” A matter as urgent as climate change, which transcends political division, necessitates consideration from all points of view if we can hope to address it before it is too late to do so. As an independent liberal, my goal here is to consider how the fight against climate change might be waged through economically and politically right-of-center means. If I expect the divided 112th Congress to come to a constructive compromise, it seems only fair that I, an interested citizen, make a similar attempt in my own treatment of the subject. On Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, the Republican Party gained a handful of seats in the Senate and amassed a formidable majority in the House of Representatives. Welcome to divided government. Did you think the gridlock was bad before? And yet there are some issues that simply won’t wait for fixes to the filibuster or other institutionalized roadblocks to major legislation. Mother Nature is nonpartisan and moves, not according to the whims of Congressmen, but based on physical forces that have, until recently, been beyond the realm of human influence. Only recently have proposals been formulated to address our consumption of fossil fuels and output of greenhouse gases, and only for a brief window did the opportunity exist for a Democratic congress to pass substantial legislation, which it attempted to do with the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2009. The general consensus is that waiting more than a couple of decades to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions

would do catastrophic damage to global ecosystems. This was echoed by a recent study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which anticipates worldwide drought conditions by 2030; this window lies firmly within what many political analysts expect will be an era of Republican government. If we wish to avert disaster, it is imperative that Democrats—who have most recently taken command of this issue—frame the dialogue in the terms most appealing to their colleagues across the aisle, both in terms of policy and public relations.

“If we wish to avert disaster, it is imperative that Democrats frame the dialogue in the terms most appealing to their colleagues across the aisle.”
Bracken Hendricks, writing for The Washington Post, recently took the position that Republicans should regard climate change with the sort of pragmatic “cost-benefit analysis [and] fiscal discipline,” which characterized the fiscallyresponsible message that sent the GOP back to power. Hendricks cites data that show that the financial “cost of inaction” will amount to at least ten times the costs associated with the correction of current trend lines. However, it seems impractical to assume that today’s crop of Republicans will listen to long-run economic arguments when it comes to this issue; they seem more concerned with the short-term political benefits yielded by cutting into the authority of the EPA than anything else at this juncture. If Democrats have a common complaint about their dealings with Republicans, it is that the latter party is rarely willing to compromise. This is not to say that all hope for a deal is lost. It seems that the

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 6

Pope Benedict’s condom comments misinterpreted
Joseph Coniglio Co-Vice President of MICA

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality. First, we might note that given the nature of the Pope’s example, even a justification of condom usage need not necessarily contradict any of the Church’s teachings regarding contraception. For it is clear that a condom is not necessarily used as a contraceptive in a sexual act conducted by a male prostitute given that the Pope might have in fact meant to reference a male prostitute who dealt exclusively with male clients. Hence, a claim that contraception is intrinsically morally wrong does not necessarily conflict with the justified use of condoms in some cases. However, this might be a cursory way to look at what might be very serious consideration being articulated by the Pope. If a condom is being used with a good intention, like to the intention to reduce the risk of infection, isn’t the usage of a condom justified? In making this sort of reasoning apparent, we can see why people might begin to think that the Pope is coming into conflict with the Church’s more general moral prohibition on contraception. Why would it be moral for homosexual couples, be they male or female, to use a condom with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, but not heterosexual married couples to do so when one of the spouses has a disease like HIV? Let us pursue this notion of intention further. It is a view of the Catholic Church that a married couple can have morally permissible sex without the intention of having children—an intention that can be both good and justified—as long as they restrict their contraceptive methods to something like natural family planning. However, if that same couple with that very same intention were to use a condom, their sexual act would be morally impermissible. Yet, if both sexual acts are done with the intention of not having children, why should it matter morally whether or not one uses a condom or natural family planning? If the Pope is justifying the use of a condom if one has a good and justified intent for using it, why would it be wrong for a married couple to use a condom during a sexual act with the good and justified intention to partake in a sexual act that does not result in the creation of a child? One can now perhaps begin to see how the Pope’s comments, if taken in a certain way, could raise serious logical problems for what might already seem to be rather unfounded views regarding contraception on the part of the Catholic Church. Here are the two claims we must then answer if we wish to make the traditional teachings of the Church coherent: 1. The Pope’s remarks justify the use of condoms. 2. It is logically inconsistent to justify a sexual act making conscious use of natural family planning but condemn a sexual act which use of condoms given that both acts share the same intent not to have children result from sex—in fact because the intent is good, both acts should be justified. The same misunderstanding of the na-


he Roman Catholic Church has traditionally condemned the use of condoms as a sin. However, in a new book titled Light of the World—an interview with Pope Benedict XVI by German journalist Peter Seewald—the Pope admits that condoms may be morally permissible in certain situations, seemingly reversing the Church’s position on the matter. Something like the above has become a seemingly popular interpretation of Pope Benedict’s recently released comments regarding condom usage. Yet, it is only true with respect to its first substantive proposition—that the Roman Catholic Church has long held that the use of artificial contraception to be an intrinsic moral evil. The latter claims—that the Pope revised the Church’s teaching on contraception, as well as its presupposition that the Pope’s comments regarding condoms are at odds with the Church’s traditional teaching on contraception—are both false. However, I do not mean to suggest that people are deliberately skewing the Pope’s words. Instead, I hope to show that beneath both the misunderstandings of the Pope’s comments on condoms, and the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and natural family planning, there lies a common source of confusion whose clarification will thus be of a “double effect” when it comes to shedding light on Catholic moral thought. The first of these claims is trivially false, in a Catholic sense, because what a Pope says in an interview does not count within Catholicism as an authoritative teaching of the Church such that he would be “revising” the age-old stance against contraception that the Church has held. Even if we were to grant that the Pope was at odds with the traditional Catholic teaching on contraception, his remarks in Light of the World would only amount to a Pope disagreeing with the traditional teachings of the Church. It would not constitute a change in the official teachings of the Church on contraception. Having gotten this important formality out of the way, let us now ask whether or not the Pope’s comments about condoms are at odds with the Church’s traditional teaching on condom usage. For even if the Pope was not in a position to revise the Church’s teachings, it would still seem to be worthy of discussion if he in fact was at odds with the Church on such an important issue. Below is the exchange in question between Seewald and Pope Benedict: Pope Benedict: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in humanization of sexuality.” Peter Seewald: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms? PB: [The Church] of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in

Wikimedia Commons

Pope Benedict XVI waves to crowd of devotees.

ture of intention logically motivates both of these claims. What people are doing with respect to both claims is translating the existence of a good intention into a justification for a certain action conditional on that good intention. Let us look carefully at the Pope’s comments. He never said that condoms were “good in some cases,” but he did seem to say that the intention to reduce the risk of infection was good. The latter good intention is thus used to imply the former conclusion such that seem to have basis for claiming that the Pope actually justified the use of condoms in some cases. In the same sense, people cannot understand why there would be any moral difference between a married couple which has sex with the intention not to have children result that would depend on whether they use a condom or natural family planning. If the intention in both cases is good, why are both acts not justified? Both claims fail to consider the notion that there could be another morally relevant intention that would determine whether or not the use of a condom is justified. Although a male prostitute using a condom to better protect himself or his partner from infection entails a good intention, this does not imply that the existence of this good intention is sufficient to justify the use of a condom in that case. This intuition leads me to the work of Elizabeth Anscombe, a philosopher who in her work Contraception and Chastity makes this point concretely. She writes, “The reason why people are confused about intention…is this: They don’t notice the difference between ‘intention’ when it means the intentionalness of the thing you’re doing—that you’re doing this on purpose—and when it means a further or accompanying intention with which you do the thing.” Clearly, the intentions with which both a married couple, in not wishing for their sexual act to result in a child for which they might not be able to sufficiently provide, and a male prostitute, to reduce the risk of infection, use a condom can be quite justified with respect to what we can now understand to be the further or accompanying intention embodied in each act. However, the moral impermissibility with respect to each act comes not from this intention, but

instead from Anscombe’s first type of intention: “That you’re doing this on purpose.” Anscombe herself gives an example as to why we should consider this first type of intention to be sufficient in determining why the use of a condom by a male prostitute and by a married couple can still be morally wrong even when they have a good intention. She writes, “It may help you to see that the intentional act itself counts, as well as the further or accompanying intentions, if you think of an obvious example like forging a [check] to steal from somebody in order to get funds for a good purpose. The intentional action, presenting a [check] we’ve forged, is on the face of it a dishonest action, not to be vindicated by the good further intention.” Hence, the Pope’s comments about the existence of good intention on the part of a male prostitute’s usage of a condom to reduce the risk of infection—understood as a further or accompanying intention with which you do the thing—are quite consistent with saying that the male prostitute’s usage of a condom could be morally wrong given the type of intentional act that using a condom during an act of prostitution is. With respect to a married couple practicing contraception, it is analogously consistent to say that although they might—whether they used a condom and natural family planning—have the same good further or accompanying intention of not creating children that they cannot provide for adequately, employing contraception that involves a condom can be considered morally wrong whereas contraception limited to natural family planning can be considered morally justified—they need only be understood as different types of intentional acts. In short, all the Pope can be said to have claimed is “good” is the intention to reduce the risk of infection. And this need not—and within a Catholic moral system it certainly does not— justify the use of a condom by a male prostitute or by a married couple. The fact that his statements were, and perhaps still are, taken by many to imply a justification of condoms is symptomatic of a general misunderstanding of Catholic moral thought with respect to the nature of intention.

page 7

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

In front of enemy lines: Vassar alum’s experience in Seoul
Justin Chay Vassar Alumnus ’10, Intl. Correspondent

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
on the North if it fired on the South again. Though South Korea’s government was divided on the proper response to North Korea’s actions, there is little doubt that President Lee Myung-bak will take a tough stance towards the North. Unlike his predecessors, including Roh Moo-hyun, who sought a sunshine policy with North Korea, Lee Myung-bak has no intention of speaking softly to North Korea. It is surprising, then, that despite the South Korean government’s relatively harsh stance, many of my students expressed hope for eventual unification of the Koreas. The student who said “North Korea should die!” concluded his essay on North Korea’s attack with “I hope North and South Korea unite peacefully someday.” Is this an entirely unreasonable thing to hope for? No, as unification of the Koreas would mean economic betterment for North Korea’s civilian population, who are poor and have little food and very little entertainment—an Economist reporter who recently visited a North Korean shop reported it was selling only four items. Reunification would also mean the world would have one less rogue nation to worry about, and reduction of military standoffs in the Far East. Yet the chances of reunification in the near future seem dim. Much has been made of Wikileaks’ recent cable leaks suggesting that China is tired of North Korea, with Chinese vice foreign minister He Yafei quoted as saying North Korea was acting like a “spoiled child.” More significantly, another leaked document quoted South Korean then-vice foreign minister Chun Yung-woo as saying several senior Chinese officials stated they would accept a unified Korea with South Korea leading, so long as U.S. troops would not move beyond the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which divides the two Koreas at present. Other documents suggest China has been preparing for North Korea’s fall after Kim Jong-il’s future death. Perhaps it is fear of the U.S. military wiping out North Korea and appearing on China’s doorstep that has China being soft on North Korea—at least in public. After the Yeonpyong strike, China called for a resumption of the six party talks, and expressed “concern” at the strike on Yeonpyong. But China has done little to influence North Korea to seek aid more peacefully.


hile North Korea was busy shelling Yeonpyong Island on Nov. 23, I was teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. The first time I heard of North Korea’s attack was through my English students. “They attacked a peaceful island and they should pay!” “What did we do to deserve this?” One student proclaimed, “North Korea should die!” The verdict from my students that North Korea should be punished is more or less unanimous, which is a surprise. But given that four South Koreans died in the Yeonpyong strike—two civilians and two marines—with numerous soldiers and civilians wounded, it’s not too uncanny. Yeongpyong was a peaceful island near the North-South border, and the attack, according to North Korea, was a response to South Korea’s military drill taking place in the Yellow Sea. Still, this does not yet rival North Korea’s torpedoing of the South Korean naval warship Cheonan, in March, which killed 46 South Korean sailors. What might be different this time is that North Korea has struck civilians on land for the first time since the Korean War. Furthermore, South Korea is a very patriotic country, and a strike at one South Korean is seen as a strike against all, so my students’ desire for some form of vengeance might well be because South Korea’s honor and military strength, are now in question. No South Korean wants their nation to be seen as a loser dependent on the U.S. for military strength. South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, for one, has no intention of being seen as weak. President Lee had the South Korean military fire in retaliation, dispatched fighter jets, and threatened more strikes

“With every attack, North Korea gets put back on the radar, before subsiding into ‘that rogue nation with a crazy fat man for its leader.’”
China should realize North Korea’s actions over the past two years have been particularly provocative. North Korea’s imprisonment of U.S. journalists, revocation of military and political agreements with the South, conduction of yet another underground nuclear test, test firing of short-range and long-range missiles, and its vow to strengthen its nuclear program in light of U.N. sanctions—all this in 2009 alone. The cycle of North Korea’s public aggression is one that has yet to break. The rare spots of hope have all died amidst North Korea’s saber-rattling. In 1994, for example, then-President Bill Clinton achieved a rare breakthrough, getting North Korea involved in the Agreed Framework, which was to replace North Korea’s nuclear program with light water reactors. In 2003, North Korea violated the agreement, and hostility between the

U.S. and North Korea resumed. As with North Korea’s behavior during the Agreed Framework timeline, the Yeonpyong attack is support for the theory that North Korea’s attacks are to win concessions from other nations—reduction of sanctions, increased food aid, etc. With every attack, North Korea gets put back on the radar, before subsiding into “that rogue nation with a crazy fat man for its leader.” Another attack, another public statement, and international concern grows. North Korea enjoys its time in the spotlight of infamy while giving any economic aid to its military. My uncle’s theory was that the recent Yeonpyong attack was to herald Kim Jong-un’s entrance as heir to Kim Jongil, who the world knows little about and who lacks any credentials on becoming North Korea’s future leader, unlike Kim Jong-il, who earned his stripes through international terrorist acts prior to his ascension. This is a reasonable theory given that Kim Jong-un’s first public appearance in October 2010 was shortly before Siegfred Hecker, an American scientist, reported North Korea had, in November, shown him a uranium enrichment facility that could produce nuclear weapons. If the strike on Yeonpyong was indeed to herald the future North Korea, we can expect more North Korean provocation in the future, and my students may yet again write vehement statements about North Korea’s belligerence. But North Korea’s recent transgressions are nevertheless the dying throes of an isolated regime dependent on other nations for its sustenance. Nations should see North Korea’s aggression for what it is, and clamp down accordingly. —Justin Chay ’10 currently resides in Seoul, South Korea.

Olbermann suspension symptomatic of media’s failings
Andrew Bloom Assistant Copy Editor


he recent suspension of Keith Olbermann from the cable news channel MSNBC for making contributions to three Democratic candidates has provoked a firestorm of controversy from both liberals and conservatives alike. By violating a longstanding ban on direct donations to political campaigns, Olbermann placed himself in the position of risking a possible suspension from his hosting duties or even worse, complete dismissal from his duties. However, the longstanding ban on donations to campaigns by anchors and journalists at MSNBC is a relic of a time when news had no clear bias and the partisanship in Washington was almost nonexistent. Olbermann’s 8 p.m. Countdown program was and remains the centerpiece of MSNBC’s primetime lineup. This show singlehandedly made MSNBC a destination for viewers of primarily liberal viewpoints to get their daily dose of news. Olbermann frequently railed against con-

servatives and Republicans in his “Worst Persons in the World” segment, often for engaging in corrupt and hypocritical practices. One of his popular programs was “Bush’d,” a list of the continuing corrupt practices from the Bush Administration. But Olbermann’s viewpoint is most clearly evident in Olbermann’s signature signoff—the counting of the number of days since President Bush declared victory in Iraq. This was changed in recent days to the counting of the number of days since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the elections this past month. Instead of punishing Olbermann in the beginning for becoming a partisan news anchor, the network saw a business and ratings opportunity to jolt to the left and become the liberal counterpart to conservative Fox News. Through the last few years, MSNBC has cemented its place as the destination for liberal partisans, filling its prime-time lineup with liberal pundits and anchors. At 5 and 7 p.m. is Chris Matthews, who once remarked that he felt “a thrill going up his leg” while hearing Barack Obama speak during

the 2008 Democratic primaries. At 6 p.m., Ed Schultz hosts “The Ed Show;” Schultz has publicly declared himself as a “lefty.” Olbermann’s protégé, Rachel Maddow, who began at the liberal Air America radio network, hosts her own show at 9 p.m. Lawrence O’Donnell, who has openly declared himself a socialist, hosts the most recent addition to the MSNBC lineup: “The Last Word.” The network has embraced its liberal stance and is even in the midst of a major rebranding effort complete with a new slogan of “Lean forward.” Was anyone surprised that Keith Olbermann made donations to three Democratic candidates, especially considering the nature of his program and of MSNBC in general? If anyone is surprised, then I strongly encourage them to have their eyes and ears checked. The same is true of Fox News hosts supporting Republican candidates in political campaigns, which they are allowed to do. The only difference is that MSNBC had a clear standing rule barring such contributions by anchors and journalists while under their employment. In this case, it is clear that

Olbermann broke the rule and rightfully deserved to be suspended. However, can MSNBC—or Fox News for that matter—possibly claim that they are credible news sources if they allow their hosts to implicitly endorse candidates or entire parties during their shows? It is illogical to think of MSNBC or Fox News as reliable news organizations. I am sure that many conservatives would argue that Fox News is fair and balanced but MSNBC is biased while many liberals would argue the converse. The point is not that Olbermann violated a rule, but that Olbermann’s suspension signifies a shift in the role of the media in the United States and the end of the days when news organizations delivered the facts straight. The bottom line is that as the news has become increasingly politicized. These news organizations, which should be objective, have become the epitome of not only the partisanship of politics today, but of Washington’s own ideological debates. —Andrew Bloom is an Assistant Copy Editor for The Vassar Chronicle.

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 8

Prostitution natural element of human sexuality
Laura Durbin Contributor

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
nate amount of resources—both in terms of personnel and money—to cracking down on an indestructible profession that is only minimally impacted by the fines, short jail terms, and part-time imprisonments that law enforcement is able to dole out to offenders. I will not pretend to be an expert in political theory, but isn’t a government’s most important responsibility the welfare of its citizens? If that is the case, then the United States’ government is failing. Only 10 percent of the individuals arrested on prostitution-related charges are clients, meaning that the vast majority of those prosecuted are sex workers. 85-to-90 percent of arrested prostitutes are street workers, although street workers only comprise a small fraction of our nation’s prostitutes. Arguably, they are those who are in need of the most help, not the most punishment. These women are more likely to be addicted to dangerous substances or to be subject to the abuses of violent pimps or aggressive clients than escort or brothel workers, and yet our law enforcement chooses to pursue arresting these victimized women the most fervently. If prostitution was legalized, more women could work in brothels or with escort services. These women would finally have recognizable employment rights and would be able to report abuses by their employers to the police, changing the prostitute-law enforcement relationship from one based on fear and avoidance to one based on trust. Let us consider why any form of prostitution is illegal in the first place. In a nation formed with Protestant values, it seems clear to me that the illegality of prostitution is most likely based on the idea that prostitution is somehow considered to be “immoral.” I would like to take a moment to digress and consider what morality is exactly and how our morality came to be created. Our ancient ancestors were reasonable—just like us—and could recognize the consequences that came from certain actions. One example is incest. Committing incest between close relatives often resulted in children with congenital defects who had a higher likelihood of recessive disorders. It should come as no surprise then that in many religions and societies, it was determined that committing incest should be avoided as it was “wrong” or “immoral.” Is there some inherent moral code in each of us that tells us we should not engage in sexual relations with our family members? I would argue that there is not. Evolutionary research agrees with me that morality is constructed, not innate. However, committing incest can impose real costs upon our reproductive fitness and so our culture has wisely imposed restrictions upon our behavior, causing us to choose to mate with those who are unrelated to us. So, now, let us consider prostitution in terms of “morality.” Prostitution has long been condemned in many cultures—and with good reason. In the past, consorting with prostitutes carried a very real risk: Venereal disease. In a world without condoms or regular gynecological examinations, and with only limited treatment for most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hiring prostitutes could quite literally be the death of an individual. However, we live in a very different world today. Condoms are universally available in the United States and even if one contracts a STI, it is usually not a death sentence. Still, every precaution


nown as “the world’s oldest profession,” prostitution can be definitively traced back as far as 18th century B.C. Mesopotamia—though recent evidence from evolutionary biology suggests that the practice of prostitution probably began much earlier in our phylogenetic history. In 2007, Professor Michael Gumert of Hiram College published a study entitled “Payment of Sex in a Macaque Mating Market,” reporting that in macaque society, it is common for male macaques to essentially “pay” for sex with grooming services. Prostitution is, like it or not, deeply entrenched in our evolutionary and historical past. Moreover it continues to be a highly profitable and widespread profession across the world today. However, despite its clearly indelible influence, the United States government insists on naïvely acting as though it is possible to contain or even eradicate prostitution from our nation. Except in limited areas in the state of Nevada, prostitution is illegal in the United States. All three major categories of prostitution—street, brothel, and escort—are prohibited, and both the buying and selling of sexual services are typically classified as misdemeanor offenses. Despite its illegality, prostitution is alive and well in the United States, generating approximately $14 billion in revenue a year. Unlike other multi-billion dollar industries, prostitution is, lamentably, currently unable to be taxed and impossible to regulate. In fact, instead of making money off of this highly profitable industry, state police departments devote an inordi-

should be taken to ensure that both clients and prostitutes stay healthy. Legalization of prostitution could help accomplish this. In Nevada, registered brothel prostitutes are required to be tested weekly for chlamydia and gonorrhea and monthly for Syphilis and HIV. Condoms are required for all sexual activities. Imagine a nation in which the majority of prostitutes are registered with the government and are forced to comply with these requirements. There is no doubt in my mind that the contraction of STIs would dramatically decrease in the United States. Many women in the United States have traded sex at one time or another in their lives. They may sleep with their bosses to advance their careers or have men buy them dinners and jewelry in exchange for sexual favors. In the animal kingdom, female macaques sell their bodies for grooming favors. Wives may say that they will only engage in sexual activity if their husband takes out the trash. You may or may not like it, but a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases. In 1973, Roe v. Wade guaranteed that American women have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and abortion activists continue to argue that the government must allow women the right to do as they please with their own bodies. So, why is abortion legal, but prostitution is not? The fact is that some women want to use their bodies to make a living. Most of us sell ourselves in one form or another; at least prostitutes are honest about it. In an age in which the ancient dangers of prostitution can be effectively eradicated through regulation, why should we punish prostitutes merely for being the most direct about their motives and actions?

Contrary to recent scholarship, Jesus not socialist
Joe Coniglio Co-Vice President of MICA


ome people believe that “Jesus was a socialist.” What an interesting sort of claim this is! How might it be grounded? First, we need to ask exactly what views characterize socialism such that we can say that Jesus was, in fact, a socialist. Socialism is generally defined as a political and economic system where the state possesses the means of production and distributes them consistent with some principle of equality. The next question to ask is whether or not Jesus actually espoused what we might call socialist views. Let’s look at Mark 10:17-25, where Jesus is asked by a rich man what he must do “to inherit eternal life,” to which he replies, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” and later, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” How does this amount to placing the means of production under the state’s control? Why cannot one give to the poor in a free market? Perhaps the notion is that socialism is doing the rich a favor by confiscating what otherwise would have been their wealth so they have a better shot at getting into heaven. But is this really what

God has in mind for us on this earth—a government literally preventing us from being sinners? I suppose then this socialist state might also prohibit fornication, swearing, drunkenness and all the other vices that Jesus railed against so we have the best possible shot to get to heaven. But this might all seem counterintuitive—doesn’t getting to heaven require some sort of freedom on the part of human beings? Does socialism adequately account for this? In fact, doesn’t the passage above imply the existence of a free market? How could the rich man “sell whatsoever thou hast” in a socialist system where there is no market for anyone to sell anything? Yes, it might be claimed that Jesus was referring to the market not to justify its existence, but to note its existence that the rich man could provide for the poor. This need not imply that a market is necessary for one to give to the poor—socialist alternatives stand as clear examples to the contrary. Christ was simply trying to help the poor more effectively—giving them money would be far better than the man’s actual goods. However, we might note that Jesus was talking to an individual when he asked him to “sell” and “give” so that he might achieve eternal life. Yet, if an individual is to sell or give anything, it seems to follow that he has some sort of property rights regarding his possessions so that he can dispose of them as he likes. However, in socialism, it

is by definition impossible for an individual to have any of the means of production so that they could give it to anyone. Hence, if Christ believes that individuals should give to the poor, how could he support a socialist system in which individuals would have nothing of their own to give? Wrong again, we might be told. For in socialism, although individuals do not own the means of production, they can still give to the poor. They can simply give away the consumption goods they receive from the state to those who are poor. We need not understand individuals having something in the sense of owning the means of production, but simply having, in a physical sense, goods provided to them by the state. It is these that they can give to the poor. Yet in a socialist system, who are the poor such that we can give to them? For, if goods are provided equally by the state then no one can be said to be any poorer than anyone else so Jesus’s notion of giving to the poor would become quite irrelevant. But isn’t this the point? No one is poor! Some of Jesus’s moral teachings might lose a bit of their relevance, but it is surely all the better that they have! Yet, if world socialism were to be realized Jesus would turn out to be a lousy prophet for in Matthew 26:11 he says, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” Hence, Jesus would have been a

socialist only under the condition that it was never going to really work at eliminating poverty. Perhaps it is because of socialism’s notion of equality that Christ is really a socialist—even if we are all poor in some sense. For surely capitalism is antithetical to equality. Was Christ really an egalitarian in this sense? Surely this is what the kingdom of heaven is all about—right? Let us conclude our brief exposition by looking at Matthew 25:14-30, a section known as the parable of the talents. Here we see a man, a figure we might consider a metaphor for God, assigning talents to his servants while he is away. Some of the servants, whom he commends, gather more talents in his absence. One however, simply returns the talent which was given to him to which his lord replies, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers [bankers], and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him and give it to him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” If this is likened to the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of heaven does not seem to be very egalitarian in any sort of substantive sense as would seem to be the goal of socialism. So then why is Christ a socialist?

page 9

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

Current long-term strategy in Afghanistan flawed
Michelle Cantos Vassar & Local Editor

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
become a thriving democracy like the good ol’ U.S. of A. Or, as the U.S. Army Field Manual puts it: “Clear, hold, build.” This antiquated military strategy is dangerous and ineffectual; the inability of our ground forces to distinguish friend from foe poses a major problem. The local merchant with whom your unit shared cigarettes during the day may be the same individual constructing improvised explosive devices by nightfall. There’s no way to legitimately know if the territory you’ve “cleared” is ever genuinely rid of a Taliban presence, given the resilience of the insurgency. Our failure to extract and exterminate the insurgency renders the rest of our COIN efforts useless. Furthermore, the military shouldn’t be responsible for reconstructing Afghanistan’s infrastructure, which is what the Army implied by the term “build.” The military is a combative force that should only be utilized against an adversary for the sake of protecting America and its interests. Reconstructing Afghanistan from the ground up is not within the purview of these soldiers who have been trained for defensive purposes. Sticking a Private First Class (PFC) bedecked in Kevlar or brandishing an M16A2 assault-rifle in the middle of Kandahar will not promote peace, nor will it facilitate nation building. The American occupation of Afghanistan weakens our Armed forces because of the contradiction between the skills a soldier is taught, and those he or she employs on the ground. The tried-and-true technique to cultivate efficient troops involves training soldiers to dehumanize their enemy in order to make the elimination of their adversary tolerable on a moral level. For example in WWII, the enemy was caricatured through propaganda, portraying the Japanese and Germans in a sub-human light and giving them names like “Japs” and “Jerries,” respectively. Hesitation is one of the most dangerous things during combat, and psychological training leads to faster response times and, hopefully, a lower number of injuries and deaths during firefights. That’s not to say that soldiers are soulless killing machines; rather they are under extenuating circumstances that many of us are unable to fathom. Characterizing their enemy as an “other” is required if they are to survive. However, under the current auspices of COIN, soldiers cannot assume that all Afghans are the dehumanized enemy. Rather, they must befriend the local community, ameliorate the problems of the civilians, and maintain peace. The stark contrast between enmity-based training and the compassion required for nation building leaves the poor soldier at a psychological crossroads: He must remain vigilant about the ubiquitous threat of the Taliban, yet he must also have an interest in the crop of the local farmers. America’s abuse of our military power for non-combative purposes weakens the Army and risks the lives of troops by placing them in situations that they aren’t trained to handle. Our continued existence in Afghanistan has not made the nation any safer, nor does it guarantee her long-term success. The Pentagon painted a grim picture in their bi-annual report to Congress. According to the report, between April 1, 2010 and September 30, 2010, violence in Afghanistan was at an alltime high, with clashes increasing fourfold since 2007. It comes as no surprise that this escalation of violence coincides with President Obama’s troop surge this year. Rather


n Dec. 3, 2010, President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Bagram Air Base outside of Kabul and extolled our troops for the alleged “progress” that they had achieved in Afghanistan. Yet the President’s praise comes at an awkward time, considering that only a month ago, a Pentagon report sent to Congress stated that violence in the nation had quadrupled since 2007. So much for progress. What began as a military operation in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks has slowly but surely devolved into a military quagmire that the United States cannot win. Regardless of the current state of their nation, we must extricate ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The United States’ presence provides nothing more than an accelerant to hostility, and the number of lives being lost is not worth promoting an obsolete military strategy that yields no quantifiable results. America’s continued presence in Afghanistan is nothing more than an exercise in futility. A large part of what makes our occupation of Afghanistan so ineffectual is the use of counterinsurgency (COIN), as the main strategy for ameliorating tensions within the nation. It’s a strategy previously employed in conflicts such as the Vietnam War—given our success in that conflict, how could we possibly fail in Afghanistan? Counterinsurgency begins with the delusion that the adversary can be isolated from the larger population. Once the adversary is conveniently separated from the masses, the insurgents are killed and the public finally gets the opportunity to

than facilitate peace, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has proved to be an accelerant toward more violence. As the Pentagon report continued, “efforts to reduce insurgent capacity…have not produced measurable results.” Nine years, over 1,300 soldiers dead, and still no results. Our occupation has not yielded a stable Afghanistan, nor will our continued presence guarantee the longterm security of the nation. If America really wants to help Afghanistan and reduce hostility, then a complete troop removal needs to happen immediately. Critics fear that our immediate extrication from the nation will drive Afghanistan into a downwards spiral of anarchy and turmoil. However, it’s possible to ensure aid in rebuilding the nation while still removing our troops. America must work with Afghanistan’s neighbors in order to ensure the nation’s long-term success via containment of the insurgency. The threat of an unstable Afghanistan instills fear into the hearts of policymakers in Pakistan and Iran just as much as it scares the officials in Washington. Both Iran and Pakistan will realize that the only way to protect their national interests is to contain the insurgency within Afghanistan. Through diplomatic means coupled with economic pressures on the surrounding nations, the United States can still have an active role in the suppression of the Taliban without risking the lives of countless soldiers. Adhering to the flawed strategy of counterinsurgency has led to a hostile Afghanistan, a weakened military, and no measurable results. Perhaps it is time to extricate ourselves and give containment a shot. Maybe then, the next time President Obama uses the term “progress,” it will actually be applicable.

San Francisco “Happy Meal” ban detracts from liberty
Jessica Tarantine Contributor


midst the growing obesity epidemic, San Francisco has become the first city to effectively ban the McDonald’s Happy Meal. In an eight to three vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors, toys were prohibited from being sold in meals that failed to meet nutritional guidelines set by the state. Supervisor Ken Yeager, who introduced the ban, was quoted as saying, “The fast-food chains must realize that the tide has turned.” But even in the midst of such a glorious victory for health enthusiasts and child-sized bikini producers everywhere, one must take pause and wonder what exactly has changed. Have the people of San Francisco had enough? Have they risen to express their outrage? Has a successful boycott been staged? An angry letter been penned? A few well chosen words proclaimed in a McDonald’s parking lot? Indeed, not. Instead, it appears that the change that fast food chains must now take note of is increased government intervention—notably action that corrects the damages done by previous legislation. Since the 1930s, the U.S. government has subsidized the agricultural sector. Recently, Congress passed the 2008 Farm Bill, despite criticism from both the World Trade Organization and the United Nations for harming international trade. The legislation gives $10 billion annually to domestic corn farmers. This allocation of funds keeps the price of corn

artificially low and the supply high. In short, it creates a surplus of cheap corn leading to the proliferation of, amongst other products, corn sugar, which is used in many fattening foods and drinks, such as soda. Soda makes up 21% of the calories in Chicken McNugget Happy Meals. In fact, much of the government’s $67.7 billion dollars spent in farm subsidies goes to subsidizing ingredients such as those used in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Their canola oil blend for frying contains soybean oil and their buns contain wheat. Indeed, all $ 67.7 billion dollars goes to commodity crops: soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton. The government, in effect, tells the American farmer that these are the most important crops to be grown—the backbone of the American diet. However, one must admit that the government seems to be sending mixed messages. It tries to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously shunning the consumption of corn sugar, oil, and excess starch. A government wishing to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables might subsidize produce farmers to reduce the price of these foods and give farmers a greater incentive to grow them. Such a subsidy might ease the effect of the excess production of non-fruit and vegetable crops—which has taken place during the last seventy years—by increasing the supply and lowering the cost of fruits and vegetables, making them accessible to consumers who were previously unable to afford them. This would appear to be the sensible thing to do as far as government solutions go,

but apparently sensibility is not a valid basis for government action when it requires the government to admit that it made a mistake. According to an article by the Cato Institute written in 2005, 72 percent of farm subsidies go to ten percent of American farms. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that while there are roughly two million farms, half of the overall product comes from 47,000 farms. Previously, many small farms fed America; today “agribusinesses” dominate the market and receive most of the farm subsidies. In fact while many Americans perceive the American farmer to be struggling, farmers’ income was 26 percent over that of the average American. Some farmers may be struggling but it is not those who are receiving the subsidies. In the end, there are societal costs of this government intervention. I would applaud the government for taking action to mitigate the obesity problem in America, but enacting contradictory pieces of legislation is not a suitable way to accomplish the goal. Restricting our freedoms and corporations’ marketing campaigns are not costs that we should be willing to pay for fixing the government’s folly. One must bear in mind that America’s obesity problem is a complicated convergence of lifestyles choices that must ultimately be addressed directly. Realistically, the cause of over-consumption of Happy Meals is not the toy but the convenience, taste, and low cost— things that are inherently affected by lifestyle, and not factors that will be addressed by the ban. This is not unexpected as top-down bans

rarely fix cultural problems; they only insufficiently attempt to address the symptoms. Perhaps a more effective act would be a program to treat the cause of the problem: Lifestyle. It would appear that the self-correcting part of society might correct this problem, but if the need is really so dire, aid should be given. Increased education about the nutritional content of Happy Meals and education about the availability of alternatives would lower the demand for high fat and high calorie meals and increase demand for healthy alternatives. As other restaurants change to healthier meals, McDonald’s will bow to pressure. This would create the same results while also treating the cause of the problem using free market solutions and forgoing a nanny state. Legislating personal choice is rarely effective. A government forcibly controlling personal choice will only limit people’s ability to make their own decisions. An individual’s endeavor to forge a healthier lifestyle must be self-started, and even if it could be forced on us, as Jacob Hansberger once remarked, “If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all.” Education, therefore, is the only solution. Giving people the rght tools to make choice for themselves is far better than legislating unilaterally to remove the choice. This action would constitute an effective government program, but also one that could be delegated to a private organization; in the end, why take the chance of giving it to the government, the very organization that is responsible at least in part for creating the problem?

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 10

Counterfactual history explored: Challenges from political left and right in McCain administration
Steve Keller Editor-in-Chief

natIonal & foreIgn affaIrs
Majority Leader, although his margin of control was even smaller, at 51-49. This split was reflected in the Administration as well. The McCain staff, believing that their victory was a fluke, entered the first few months of the Presidency with a humble attitude, promising to work with Democrats. On the other hand, the Palin staff, believing the ticket’s win was a divine mandate, took a hard-line stance, actively setting their own policy agenda that was oftentimes at odds with the McCain camp.


hen John McCain won the 2008 election, there were many questions. “How?” was the most common one, and it even came from his own camp. Few political pundits believed it to be possible; indeed polls showed the race breaking for Senator Obama in the last several days. Theories abounded, and the most common was voter fraud. Irregularities in Pennsylvania and Florida had Democrats up in arms, filling the streets in Philadelphia and Palm Beach, demanding statewide recounts—despite both states breaking for McCain-Palin by at least five points. When Barack Obama, ignoring calls to keep fighting, conceded the race on Thursday afternoon of that week, Democrats were in an uproar. For the third time in a decade, the Democrats believed they were being cheated out of an election. They had seen the disaster that the Bush Presidency had wrought. Now, the best Democratic candidate in a lifetime had gone down to a miserable defeat. It was on that Thursday night in November that Chris Matthews remarked on the air, “What a blow to the American spirit to have this—I don’t care which party you are—to see this story end here tonight… I think the liberal cause has been set back at least a generation. If Barack Obama couldn’t defeat these nasty, and I mean nasty forces on the right-wing of the country, then who will?” Keith Olbermann, sitting next to him, quietly responded, “Democrats certainly have a lot of soul searching to do. I think it’s going to take a movement beyond what Senator Obama had to offer. It’s going to take a look to the past—at our revolutionary past, at Tea Parties, if you will.” Matthews responded with a terse laugh, but it can be said that this is where the Tea Party began. Democrats would spend the next two years mobilizing their base and proving their party was more than a “paper donkey.” This is how they stopped the McCain presidency in its tracks.

McCain’s Stimulus Package

Inauguration Day 2009

At noon on January 20th, 2009, President John McCain was sworn into the highest office in the land. Over the weeks of transition, the shock of the Republican victory had become eagerness and gratefulness that Republicans had been given a second chance to prove themselves. After all, while John McCain had won the Presidency, exit polls still showed that Americans blamed the Republican Party for the Wall Street crisis. Conservatives generally felt as though they had dodged a bullet, though the split reaction to this was immediately apparent. This split was between those who believed that now was the time for ideological purity, and those more sober conservatives that understood the realities of Washington—that no matter what, John McCain still had to deal with a Democratic Congress. Nancy Pelosi was still Speaker of the House, albeit with a barebones majority of 227-208. Harry Reid was still Senate

The Administration’s first test would be the response to the economic crisis. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, in tandem with other Democrats, proposed a fiscal “stimulus” measure early on. Pundits immediately lambasted Clinton for trying to begin her 2012 campaign early. President McCain initially seemed lukewarm to the Clinton proposal, but after a round of Palin interviews on FOX News, the Administration was forced to stay its hand. On Glenn Beck’s show, Palin proposed an $800 billion tax cut for American families; this was outright rejected by Congress. Still recognizing, however, that the Congress was in Democratic hands, the McCain camp called Senators Clinton, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin to the White House to work out a compromise. After intense negotiations, Senate leadership agreed to pass a $787 billion package, 36 percent of which consisted of tax cuts. Many, including Vice President Palin, felt that the package was a sell-out to the “sore loser left.” This compromise would be their undoing, and would further the rift between McCain and Palin. It was around this time that observers began to describe the situation at 1600 Pennsylvania as the “McCain-Palin Administration.” Others noted that Palin had taken the unofficial role of a “Prime Minister” in the government. The liberal reaction to this bill was even less muted than the conservative one. With the backing of economists like Paul Krugman, political leaders like Hillary Clinton, and media figures like Keith Olbermann, the Tea Party began in earnest as a reaction to the, as Senator Clinton put it, “Conservative culture of tax cuts.” Liberals believed the bill should have been entirely stimulus spending, but when asked why she voted for the bill anyway, Clinton said, “Were we just going to say ‘no’ to every proposal from the other side? Of course not. We are here to do a job.”

Palin and McCain surrounded by supporters.

Wikimedia Commons

Cain believed that he would have to temper the “go-it-alone” foreign policy of the Bush Administration in order to continue the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as thwart international criticism of four more years of Republican rule. After all, the world was furious when Barack Obama lost the election—more furious than Americans themselves. To the surprise of many, McCain conceded to the hawks in the Palin camp. He warned the Iranian regime that, should it continue to suppress pro-democracy demonstrators, it would meet swift retribution from the U.S. armed forces. Tea Partiers immediately took to the streets to protest what they believed was an imminent war in the Middle East. Anti-war demonstrators watched Afghanistan and Iraq fall to George Bush; they would not let Iran suffer the same fate. Senator Clinton, usually not known for foreign policy exploits, became famous for tweeting the phrase “death planes” in response to videos of U.S. aircraft flying over Tehran for intimidation purposes.

Americans; it is unknown what the results of the revolution would have been had the U.S. taken a cooler approach. The Palinites were furious. In a hastily prepared press conference, Vice President Palin openly criticized McCain’s foreign policy. “This,” she said, “was not the time to retreat—it was the time to reload!”

Clintoncare Round II

“Clinton said, ‘Were we just going to say “no” to every proposal from the other side? Of course not. We are here to do a job.’”
As the month went on, McCain upped the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this only damaged U.S. relations with the rest of the world. As European nations considered withdrawing from NATO, U.S. troops exchanged fire with the Iranians at Mehran on the Iraq-Iran border. To the relief of all, President McCain blinked. Nothing happened, and the pro-democracy movement was brutally killed off. The result of this was that Iran was more unified than ever before—and the United States was suffering dissent from the left and right, incomparably so to any time in history. International experts speculated the failure of the Iranian revolutionaries was a direct result of the Ahmadinejad camp being able to paint them as puppets of the

War with Iran?

The economy did not markedly improve over the next few months. Unemployment jumped to 9.7 percent by July, but foreign events over the summer distracted most Americans from the stagnating economy. A disputed election in Iran focused the world’s attention on the Islamic theocracy. With hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to the West and East, the McCain camp now faced calls to support the burgeoning democratic movement in Iran. The McCain camp’s foreign policy up to this time had been very conciliatory; Mc-

The Iranian crisis over, and spurred on by President McCain’s declining approval ratings (58 percent in June, 49 percent in July), Democrats in the Senate prepared a healthcare reform proposal. This taskforce was led by Hillary Clinton and supported by a grassroots network Clinton managed to inherit from Obama. McCain balked at the idea that Congressional leadership was beginning to exercise its own policy initiatives, but by August, Senator Clinton’s “Healthcare Reform Express” was beginning to pick up steam. Some sardonically suggested that Hillary Clinton resign her Senate seat so that she could focus on her Tea Party-backed campaign. “I’m not a quitter,” Clinton replied. Observers noted that Clinton seemed to be using the issue of healthcare reform as a way to keep her name in the public eye, but also noted the success of the Tea Party in bringing the issue into national prominence. McCain had embarked on earmark reform as his major first-term policy agenda, but, over the wishes of Sarah Palin, he determined he would try to reach a compromise with Democrats on the issue. When Senator Ted Kennedy died in late August, McCain used his eulogy to mark a change in tone—his administration would pursue healthcare reform. The administration was now embattled from the left and right, from the Congress and from its very own executive branch—and its course over the next year would ultimately lead to the shocking results of the November midterm election. —Steve Keller ’11 is Editor-in-Chief for The Vassar Chronicle and Co-Vice President of MICA. He is a Political Science major at Vassar College with a correlate in Imperialist Studies.

page 11

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

A note from Legalizing versus rescheduling of marijuana

debate & dIsCourse
Alaric Chinn, Copy Editor William Serio, Production & Design Editor

your Editor
in regard to this section
Ethan Madore Debate & Discorse Editor



e meant The Vassar Chronicle to raise the level of discourse on campus—only so much of that can be done within a traditional article format. Ideas should not only be heard: They should be disputed, analyzed, and evaluated. Those who only wish to combat and convince have often hijacked the institution of debate. This section is a response to those individuals. Here we use debate not as a show of force but as a tool in a search for truth. Our columnists do not merely give their opposing viewpoints; we don’t try to entice readers with promises of conflict. We try very hard to present conversations that are intelligent, in which the speakers engage with each other and chase the root of an idea. A debater, more than anyone else, is aware of the power of his or her discourse. We know that a convincing argument for any measure is not hard to find; that our own beliefs can always be challenged. This is a section for that challenging. It is a counterweight for the echo chamber and the shouting match alike. In each issue we’ll publish conversations on a range of topics in which two or more speakers hold themselves to what we hope is a new high standard. The format will change in the search for the best way to represent these conversations and I’ll try to frame each one in a specific context. This week we focus on the legalization of marijuana, the conflict in Korea, and the future of the Republican Party, but I hope those are only starting points to conversations that probe much deeper issues on the nature of government and politics. This is also a space for articles that explore the current state of our discourse, to engage how we discuss the issues we talk about. Yes, this isn’t a section found in most newspapers, but I hope you’ll like it. —Ethan Madore ’12 is Debate & Discourse Editor for The Vassar Chronicle. He is a History major and is President of the Vassar Debate Society.

rguments for the legalization or decriminalization are often couched in terms of social libertarianism. As such it is often viewed as a stance exclusive to liberals and libertarians. I hope that this debate shows that, while our fundamental political beliefs may be different, they can often bring us to the same place. Will Serio and Alaric Chinn tackle the issue of legalization from a different angle. Alaric claims legalization as a fiscal conservative cause and Will provides the case for decriminalization from the truly moderate standpoints of pragmatic politics and reasonable compromise. Will Serio: I admit that the status quo on marijuana—the policy of prohibition— is not ideal. Though, no more ideal is the wholesale legalization of the substance. Instead, I propose a more moderate solution to the nation’s drug problem: The rescheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. At the moment, the federal government treats marijuana as a Schedule I substance— this places it alongside heroin and LSD as a drug that has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. Even some hard drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are not scheduled as harshly. Marijuana should be grouped under Schedule III or lower with drugs like Vicodin or some anabolic steroids with a lower potential for abuse and some medical use. This would essentially reduce, if not eliminate, the legal repercussions for personal possession of marijuana. Dealing and smuggling would still be restricted, but there would be little or no penalty for possession of small quantities. Alaric Chinn: Will, you suggest that a simple rescheduling of marijuana would be sufficient to counteract all of the harms associated with prohibition. This is not the case—those harms can only be removed through the complete legalization of marijuana. Under your planned decriminalization policy, penalties such as fines may still be implemented. Why? If marijuana has any value as a medical drug, which you concede, then why penalize at all? It’d be like a fine for walking around with cough syrup. Roughly nine billion dollars of taxpayer money is sent to fight marijuana through law enforcement, court fees, and housing prisoners across the state and federal penal institutions. Although nine billion dollars may be small in comparison to the Social Security or defense-spending budgets, it is money that could nonetheless be used in more productive areas of society. There is no solid proof that marijuana is more dangerous to a person’s health than cigarettes or even alcohol. Will, unless you can either provide us with a study that contradicts this or you are prepared to argue for treating alcohol and cigarettes as Schedule III controlled substances, I suggest we use their model and end prohibition. The government’s current policies, and any new policies that would come from decriminalization, inherently support the illegal drug trade. By cracking down on suppliers, the government decreases the amount of marijuana on the market and

do you enjoy thIs kInd of debate? joIn the vassar debate soCIety, vassar ’s most sophIstICated sport.

ups the price, increasing the money to be made by individuals willing to circumvent the law. Decriminalized drugs will still come from criminals. With legalization, the price would not only come down, but businesses and corporations would be able to produce marijuana on a large scale, which would drain the drug trade of their profits and provide the economy with taxable revenue. WS: Alaric, let’s table the discussion on cigarettes and alcohol for now—that’s a separate debate that I’m unwilling to be drawn into. We should evaluate marijuana policies on objective, rather than relative standards. You try to dismiss my arguments through your cough syrup analogy. This is a mischaracterization. Think of decriminalization in terms of how we treat prescription drugs. If you’re transporting a container of pills to your house and you get pulled over, there are no questions. If your car, however, is filled with boxes and boxes of prescription drugs there are going to be questions. The same standard should apply to marijuana. Your assumption that so much money can be saved through legalization is dubious— the nine billion dollar figure you use likely takes into account all marijuana crimes. However, marijuana is rarely the sole crime that jails a person, but merely a contributing factor to an arrest. A recent study in California found that less than one percent of criminals are in prison for marijuana charges alone. The possession of marijuana is almost always coincidental in an arrest. The system you promote is one in which there is no potential for controlling the use of marijuana. A person could conceivably smoke in public, be stoned in the workplace or at school. Despite contrary opinion, this isn’t even the case in the Netherlands, where marijuana is a controlled substance with lax enforcement. If they don’t even go as far as legalization, why should we? Rather, they live under a system that allows for personal use while respecting the fact that marijuana is still a drug and should be controlled. Nevertheless, there is still no general medical consensus on marijuana’s longterm health effects due to its high complexity. Despite your assertions, there are known health risks associated with marijuana, some as serious as associating it with cancer-causing chemicals. But 15 states already allow medical marijuana because they feel the benefits outweigh the costs when used properly. Therefore, disconnects exist between current federal law and many state laws—this requires reform, not radical change. Moreover, although many states have legalized medical marijuana, no state has gone as far as legalization, not even your home state of California. Most of all, the act of rescheduling is the more realistic outcome of our two positions. Under my proposal, the government would embrace the fact that marijuana is nowhere near as harmful as LSD, heroin, or cocaine. At the same time, the government would realize that more research has to be conducted in order to conclusively state whether or not legalization should take place. Therefore, my system wins on two points: A much higher chance of implementation, with the backing of public opinion, and the ability to make the right choice the first time in order to control for potential harms

from abuse or health risks. Ultimately, this system allows the public to gradually come to terms with a new government stance on marijuana, rather than a completely unneeded reversal of current law. AC: Will, you say that the Executive Branch alone could reduce marijuana to a lower schedule. Isn’t it true that the Executive Branch can remove marijuana from the controlled substances schedules entirely and thereby legalize it? WS: Yes, that’s true. AC: I don’t disagree with you that marijuana should be regulated. Just like anything else consumed on the open market, marijuana would be subject to the same standards and regulations that the FDA or any other government agency would apply to any other legal substance. The fact is, under your decriminalization plan, no one would be able to purchase marijuana from a licensed marijuana store—like a licensed liquor store. You make a slippery slope argument about people being stoned at work, etc., but you seem to ignore that if a person shows up drunk to work, he or she is likely to be fired, which serves as a deterrent to drinking on the job and by extension, being stoned on marijuana. In essence, marijuana can be regulated as much as alcohol or cigarettes—both of which are legal. Your argument forces marijuana into a complex, dark world rather than an open society. Such a world would only lead to more law enforcement crackdowns and tighter and tighter regulations. I’m saying that such strict regulation is entirely unnecessary. Under legalization, money is saved and money is made. Money is saved because law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice systems would have no more paroles, no more unnecessary trials, no more jury selections, and no more resources spent by district attorneys to combat marijuana. Additionally, marijuana dealers would cease to exist because they wouldn’t be able to compete with large, legal companies. The way money is made is through the business and sales taxes marijuana would generate— such revenue would make up for any costs of regulation. In fact, a 2008 study by Harvard University economics professor, Jeffrey Miron, argues that the legalization of marijuana would save states and the federal government $7.7 billion. Additionally, if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods, it would generate $2.4 billion annually, but if it was taxed like alcohol or tobacco, it would generate $6.2 billion annually. Furthermore, these figures don’t take into account the development and investment of a new, legalized industry. Allow me to revisit alcohol and cigarettes: If someone can purchase alcohol legally at the age of 21, then marijuana— which has no reported cases of overdose— should have the ability to be purchased legally. If cigarettes can be purchased despite their adverse health effects that are correlated with higher rates of cancer, then marijuana—which actually alleviates cancer-related pain—should be legal to purchase. Under legalization, businesses would develop, marijuana dealers would cease to exist, law enforcement could concentrate on taking down the harder drugs, and the hypocrisy would cease.

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 12

U.S. response to North Korean invasion: war or diplomacy
Matthew Brock, Senior Editor Ethan Madore, Debate & Discourse Editor

debate & dIsCourse


his past month’s shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island by North Korea killed four and threatened an escalation of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Fortunately, further conflict was adverted, but this incident raised the question of what the United States’ response should be in the case of a new Korean War. Be thankful that this is only a hypothetical discussion, but use it to think critically on the role of America’s armed forces in the world. Matthew Brock: If the North were to invade South Korea, the U.S. should intervene with the full strength of its armed forces, as it would be sure to quickly dispatch the threat from the North, as opposed to pursuing a diplomatic resolution. A military intervention in the Koreas would be immensely successful; the U.S. government would be able to enter with a clear goal and exit strategy, as was the case in the first Gulf War. The goal, in this case, would be to repel the invading army and force it to withdraw from Southern territory. The U.S. should not pursue the conflict into North Korea, as doing so might provoke a much larger conflict with China. Once the North Korean army has retreated across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the U.S. can withdraw whatever additional military forces it sent to Korea. Of course, a similar strategy did fail during the Vietnam War. However, in that scenario the Vietnamese citizens opposed the U.S. and willingly sided with the communists, but in this case the Southern citizens have no interest in falling under the control of the totalitarian North. Furthermore, South Korea is likely to receive military support from several other important trading partners—such as the European Union—so the U.S. would not have to act unilaterally, and thus, not have to shoulder all of the costs of the conflict. In contrast, attempting to find a diplomatic solution to an invasion of South Korea would be inadvisable and, ultimately, fruitless. The U.S. and North Korea currently do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, which means that the U.S. would basically have to start from scratch if it attempted a diplomatic solution. Furthermore, North Korea has a history of ignoring attempts at peaceful intervention—continuing its nuclear program despite heavy sanctions from the United Nations—which indicates that it may well ignore U.S. diplomacy as well. While diplomatic intervention far from guarantees a successful outcome, military intervention would surely repel a North Korean invasion and therefore should be the U.S.’s default option. Ethan Madore: If there is a lesson from this month’s shelling of South Korea, it is that a conflict that is resolved only through military stalemate is not truly resolved at all. Matthew, the purely defensive war you propose doesn’t seem to make tactical sense. Conventional wars are less about winning individual battles than they are about denying enemy supplies and attacking their infrastructure—victory is achieved when the enemy no longer has the capacity to wage war. Without hitting

targets in North Korea itself the military can only be responsive—can only defend while North Korea continues to have a base to stage new offensives. Either the United States would have to increase its military action to include striking North Korea and potentially risk a Chinese response as you say, or restrict itself to battlefields in South Korea in which it will always be South Korean civilians caught in the crossfire and South Korean infrastructure being destroyed. At worst, we would have a dangerous conflict between world powers; at best we’re left with the same hostile stalemate we’ve had for the past 50 years. A continuation of violence does nothing but strengthen the hold Kim Jong-il has over the county. Pyongyang has frequently used the threat of American invasion as an excuse for its totalitarian measures and external treats have always been used to stifle internal voices of dissent. The recent shelling, we must remember, was likely an attempt to stir up support for North Korea’s transition of power. Similarly, active engagement in a conflict delegitimizes America’s potential role as an arbitrator in peace talks. Engaging in simultaneous military operations and diplomatic accords gives policy leaders the false notion that the enemy must be “bombed to the table” for the United States to bargain from a position of strength. This intensifies conflict and drives opposing sides farther from true compromise. It is too easy to imagine that the awesome power of the American military can be a source of protection on battlefields across the world. Yes, we should materially and politically support the sovereignty of South Korea through aid, but we cannot forget to reach for a long-term solution to bring solvency to this sixty-year conflict. Lasting peace comes from diplomacy. MB: Ethan, I’m curious how exactly you would suggest the United States go about reaching a peaceful solution should North Korea invade the South. EM: A diplomatic solution would come from the fact that a military one would be unreachable for either side. While North Korea’s armed forces are numerous, they are poorly trained particularly in their navy and air force—you can imagine why such an oppressive regime that is so obsessed with preventing its citizens from escaping wouldn’t allow its pilots extensive in-air flight training, for example. Additionally, South Korea, even with full American support, wouldn’t be able to win a counterinsurgency campaign in North Korea itself. The only way to break the cycle would be diplomacy. The United States, given a more detached position to work from, could spearhead multi-national peace talks. MB: Multi-national talks cannot work because, in this scenario, the only end that North Korea wants to achieve is war. North Korea’s diplomatic relations are headed by Kim Jong-il, who is currently in the process of transferring power to his son, Kim Jong-un. In order to establish the younger Kim as head of state, they must win over every faction within the government, and one of the hardest factions to please is the military war hawks. The recent shelling of South Korea was designed to be a show of strength to win the alliance of the North

Wikimedia Commons

Soldiers in the North Korean military.

Korean military. If the North does invade the South in the future, it will be unable to withdraw in response to diplomatic pressure, because it would make Kim appear weak to the military, and may result in the military rejecting the Kim Dynasty. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that negotiating with the U.S. and withdrawing from South Korea is a politically viable option for Kim. Negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have traditionally taken place within the Six Party Talks—group negotiations between the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, Russia, China, and Japan. According to a message sent out by the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, published by Wikileaks, “Kim took a ‘very hard line’ on the Six Party Talks according to Sukhee, stating that the DPRK [Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea] will never return to the talks, that the talks were dead.” Although it is of course possible to start new talks with North Korea, possibly with a smaller group of participants, Kim is clearly not amenable to real negotiations. Finally, diplomacy will fail because it has always failed. North Korea habitually flouts international law because it knows that that is its only negotiating tactic. North Korea is a small, poor, unimportant country, but when it launches a new missile, the entire world’s eyes are glued to the northern half of the Korean peninsula. Kim does not respond to sanctions—he’d rather let his people starve. Instead, he continues his behavior until he is bribed, through foreign aid or otherwise, to withdraw. Invading South Korea would be the ultimate example of such behavior, and if it comes to such an invasion, the U.S. cannot afford to indulge him. This indulgence is what has led to the escalating conflict, and only a military solution can end it once and for all. EM: We agree that a potential conflict in the Korean peninsula would need a long-term solution; our only point of contention is that you see a viable military solution to the conflict. Here’s why that won’t happen. I think you join many in the international community in overestimating and simplifying the nature of a totalitarian government. Yes, Kim Jong-il relies upon the support of his military leaders, but liberal

democracies do not just draw their power to act from the complacency of the people. Yes, for a dictatorship, it is often gained through coercion and threats of violence, but as we have seen, Pyongyang is particularly adept at gaining support through the use of an external bogeyman—its favorite being the United States. The people of North Korea are not a generic, one-dimensional oppressed population. We should not continue to believe that dictators are completely successful at wiping out resistance and remaining deaf to their nation. If anything, dictators have proven to be the most paranoid about the morale of the people—thus their constant reliance upon secret police, propaganda, and threat of force. The myth of totalitarianism is used by hawkish politicians to make war seem imminent and force us to turn our backs on complex, slow-working solutions which actually offer solvency. By intervening, we would be handing the Kim regime the very excuse they need to crack down even further on their own people to strengthen the transition of power. The only result of an American war, which I already explained, could only achieve defensive aims and would become more propaganda Kim Jong-il could use to hand power off to his son and get more military aid from China. Conflict begets conflict. The good news comes from South Korea. The Republic of Korea, as a technologically advanced nation with twice the population of the DPRK, is more than equipped to defend itself. If North Korea attacks, the ROK will have the material and diplomatic aid of America and its allies. Another one of those documents released by Wikileaks shows us that China is willing to accept a reunified Korea under the South’s leadership; what China will not accept is an American intervention so close to their boarder. By fighting the war for South Korea we would be delegitimizing their claim as the dominant power on the Korean peninsula and allowing the Chinese to accept Kim Jong-il’s construction of South Korea as an American puppet state. Financial, technological, and diplomatic aid—those are what we owe to our South Korean allies. But combat troops on the ground tie our hands at the peace table and do more to help Kim Jong-il than Lee Myung-bak.

page 13

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

offiCe hours wiTh riChard born

debate & dIsCourse
online where you invest your own money. In the past when it comes to these betting sites, they make some pretty good predictions. The people who play aren’t going to throw away their own money. The bettors tend to be sophisticated, and politically informed—not professor types—they’re rank and file but elitist in the sense that they’re knowledgeable and politically versed. On two of these three betting sites, Thune was the third most likely GOP nominee. For somebody who’s so little known, this is an interesting indicator. You can assume that these people with political savvy are onto something. VC: How about Jeb Bush as a potential GOP prospect? RB: I’ve heard that view before. But still he’s made no move whatsoever towards the Presidency. And the idea of a third Bush in office tends to be a strong deterrent, particularly when he follows his brother who ended up in disgrace with his job approval rating. I agree that retrospectively, George Bush is looking better than he was perceived in 2009. But the resurrection of his image has not occurred. On the positive side of things, Jeb could play up his eight years as Governor of Florida, and he was popular by considerable margins. But I think people will look at the name and view it as baggage. chance of putting up a third party candidate of their own. If the party realizes that in order to defeat Obama, a Sarah Palin is out of the question, they’ll have to go for someone who has a little bit of moderation. Would the Teabaggers go along with someone like Mitt Romney? He was the Governor of Massachusetts. The health care that he pushed for in that state in many regards resembles Obamacare. Will that be an anathema to them? VC: Will the dormant Obama machine awaken? RB: I think it’s about 120 percent more likely that it’ll show more life than it showed in the 2010 midterms. The 2010 midterms were an absolute disaster. The election is a clear-cut goal. In a Presidential election, your turnout is much larger. In 2010 you had 41 percent of the public showing up, in 2008 you had 61 perent. It’ll be in the low 60s in two years time. By definition that means more marginal voting types will come into the electorate—specifically younger voters. This means more Democratic voters. Without lifting a finger, things will be better for Democrats because there will be naturally more turnout. But I don’t think they’ll be able to replicate the extraordinary machine in 2008. You have a lot of young people who feel now burned, betrayed, because they put in time and money for Obama. They thought Obama could snap his fingers in the first month of office and accomplish a change of the whole political system. So the enthusiasm, charisma, the surge for a new brand of politics—I don’t think they’ll be able to replicate that. VC: You mentioned before that the Tea Party voters don’t have political awareness of how the system works. Don’t you think they can become equally disenchanted with their elected representatives? RB: Well, that’s exactly what I was suggesting. Realistically, the best I can see it, I don’t think you’ll see much of anything with one part of governance being controlled by the GOP. The real question becomes by and large how Tea Party folks are going to view this: As a sign they’ve been betrayed? I do think there’s a striking amount of naïveté. The best example of this is when Christine O’Donnell won in Delaware. Despite the almost universal verdict of political experts—including conservative Republicans like Karl Rove—that they threw away this seat, the Tea Partiers viewed this as the greatest victory they’d had up until that time. They thought, “We won the primary, thus we’re going to win the general election—I don’t care what the polls are now showing!” One poll showed O’Donnell down 10 percent behind as opposed to 16 or 17 percent, and Tea Partiers though, “I knew it, I knew it, Delaware voters are coming to their senses.” That kind of naïveté that manifested itself in many places. There’s always the possibility of education and learning through experience but maybe only to a limit. See BORN on page 15

Born discusses implications of 2010 elections, future of politics

Richard Born, Professor of Political Science. Matthew Brock, Senior Editor Steve Keller, Editor-in-Chief

Steve Keller, Vassar Chronicle


elcome to Office Hours, our monthly feature where we meet with a Vassar professor to discuss issues in current events relating to their area of expertise. This month we met up with Professor of Political Science Richard Born—Vassar’s resident elections expert. Vassar Chronicle: What do you think was most notable about the 2010 mid-term election? Richard Born: It goes without saying that one thing to look at is Teabagger success. Certainly, a number of the candidates that Teabaggers backed won. From the standpoint of a lot of the leaders, they view themselves as responsible for how the party did. This will undoubtedly impact upon what goes on in national politics for the next two years. Teabaggers will be less likely to, as they see it, sell out or compromise. They’ll insist this is where America is—populist right-wing. Of course this is something that will work on behalf of Sarah Palin. There are different ways of reading into the consequences of 2010. But my own sense is that Teabaggers are very naïve in the world of politics. In many cases they’re very new to the world of politics. 2009-2010 was the first time they ever got involved. They have a simplistic way of viewing things: “This is where America is and we’re not going to compromise in the name of winning the Presidency. We don’t have to compromise because Americans have shown themselves to be where we are.” VC: So you think this is going to work in Sarah Palin’s favor? RB: I’m saying it will be a factor. I’m not saying that I predict she’s going to win the nomination—I don’t think she will. But on the other hand, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. She’s got new enthusiasm on her side more than

any candidate. You’ll likely have a crowded field in 2012—perhaps ten to twelve candidates running. Of course, you start thinking down the road to the critical early primaries—Iowa and New Hampshire, and soon thereafter South Carolina. In a divided field, all you need is a plurality of votes. And for Palin, because of her strong, maybe narrow base of support, she could theoretically win these contests with 25-30 percent of the vote. The way the media would play this up, they’ll say you were the winner. Despite having a relatively small percentage of those who were voting, you ended up in first place. I’m not predicting this at all, but the nomination could be wrapped up pretty quickly. VC: How would you see her against Obama? RB: I don’t think she’ll win the nomination. If I had to predict I’d say Romney. If she got the nomination, I have to think she’s going to lose to Obama. She does have political skill. Now, there are different kinds of intelligence out there. The conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin is a numbskull of low IQ. In certain regards, intelligencewise she’s lacking. In the normal way in you use intelligence—analytical intelligence, intellectual curiosity, paying attention to learned books and articles—of course that’s lacking. On the other hand, what I’m impressed by is that she has political intelligence. She does have a grasp of what sells to people, how to build a coalition, and so forth. I’d say that there is a very pervasive view that she’s a numbskull—across the board. I think that goes too far. Obviously as President she’d be an utter disaster. But in terms of winning the Presidency with her political intelligence that I see there, it’s a possibility, even though it’s not likely. VC: A name that’s been bandied around, as a possibility is John Thune, Senator from South Dakota. Any thoughts? RB: One thing to look at is that there are three of these political “betting sites”

“They thought Obama could snap his fingers in the first month of office and accomplish a change of the whole political system.”
VC: What role do you see the Tea Party playing in U.S. politics over the next two years? RB: The first thing that comes to mind is that there are Teabaggers and Teabaggers galore. They’re all considerably right of center, but some are more pragmatic than others. Some are a lot more politically skillful than others. Some of these top-down types like Dick Armey are as politically sophisticated an individual as you’ll find there. Others just got their dander up—they just got involved for the first time in their life. It’s unlikely that the GOP will be able to deliver on Teabagger kinds of hopes. They’re not in a position to do so because they only control the House. They’ll put forth symbolic efforts; they’ll get bills passed in the House but it won’t get anywhere from that point onwards. So from the standpoint of Teabaggers, are they going to get alienated? Republicans will come forth and say we did everything we could, but we have to capture both houses and the Presidency. Will that be acceptable to the Teabaggers? As I said, it has to do with political sophistication and knowledge of how the political system operates. I don’t know overall whether or not Teabaggers have that level of sophistication. If not, they might turn on the Republican Party, and there’s always this outside

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

page 14

Born speaks Field of contenders for 2012 presidential race

debate & dIsCourse
David Keith, MICA Treasurer Steve Keller, Editor-in-Chief

to potential
’12 candidates

Continued from BORN on page 14 It’s quite possible by 2012 that they still won’t understand how the system works, that you have to compromise. They’ll stick to their purest principles and do themselves in—“It’s Sarah Palin or it’s nobody! It’s Mitt Romney and we walk—from our own party!” VC: Do you have other choice “dark horse” picks? RB: How about John Bolton? That’s one of the more hilarious items of the day. I mean nobody knows who he is to begin with. If they did know who he was then, my God, he was just a vicious UN ambassador. He doesn’t know when to stop. He doesn’t believe in the United Nations and wants to abolish the whole thing. When it comes to foreign policy and military policy he’s extraordinarily right wing. Moreover, this guy isn’t a politician. He hasn’t run for anything in his life and doesn’t have the slightest amount of political skill. He’s 180 degrees from what you’d think of as a viable candidate for any office. He never smiles. He always looks as though he’s about to leap out at you and strangle you. He’s not a dumb guy, but he’s actually claiming he’s interested in running for president? Come on. But the story is that he’s actually expressed some modicum of interest… VC: Do you have any other favorite dark horse candidates? RB: I’d say Pataki. Pataki seems to be playing this game too. Somehow he thinks he has a chance—which is utterly insane. He’s nevertheless been making appearances out in Iowa. But people have forgotten him. He hasn’t been governor since 2007. Obviously he was one of the most liberal Republicans, so they won’t stand for him. Giuliani was also pretty liberal, even to the left of Pataki. But Giuliani came across as being nasty, and more right-wing. Pataki will just turn off anyone who is off to the conservative side of the GOP. I just cannot figure that tout. There’s also Santorum. He’s a guy that got killed in 2006 by 18 percentage points. He was disgraced and humiliated so now he thinks he’s going to run for President? See, this is a general phenomenon. When you think your party’s chances are good you have a lot of nominees. I do think in spite of everything I’ve said, that Obama will probably win— regardless of which Republican is nominated. But then again, people do crazy things in desperate times. If the economy is even worse than it is now, someone like a Palin could really channel even greater anger than what we have now. There is that possibly. But bearing that kind of apocalypse, I don’t see it happening. —Richard Born is a Professor of Political Science at Vassar College, who specializes in American politics, particularly Congress and elections.


he newly elected Republican majority has yet to take office and yet 2012 is already coming into the forefront of many Americans’ minds. While the Tea Party movement reinvigorated the GOP in many midterm elections, there seems to be a major potential for a divided party if the next Republican nominee cannot unite the Tea Party, fiscal conservatives, and the religious right. David Keith and Steve Keller discuss the next potential candidate. David Keith: First, we must assume the Republican Party at least attempts to stay away from divisive primaries. This is reflected in their tendency to nominate the “next in line” candidate we saw with George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain. Given the current pool of candidates, the early states’ voter makeup, and the GOP’s winner-take-all primary and caucus rules, we may also face a “parallel primary.” That is, the GOP could have a divided party all the way until the convention with a Palin or a Palin-style candidate like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee, chewing up evangelical Christian and social conservative-dominated primaries like Iowa and South Carolina and Mitt Romney/Mitch Daniels-style candidates winning primaries like New Hampshire and Florida. Not only does the likelihood of a divisive, brokered convention increase if this happens, but rather, a divided GOP—with the Tea Party not inclined to vote—may be inferior to a well-oiled Barack Obama re-election campaign. This presents the opportunity for Jeb Bush to be promoted and nominated, as he satisfies the three criterion I have laid out: Next-in-line candidate, social conservative, deficit hawk. Steve Keller: My initial reaction to this is that this sounds a lot like the Al Gore-related speculation in the 2008 Democratic primaries. I think Al Gore also satisfied the three criteria you mentioned—or at least their Democratic counterparts. Gore was—perhaps more so than Hillary Clinton—the successor to the Bill Clinton legacy, having actually served in the Administration. Gore is perhaps equally as much to the left on social issues as Jeb Bush is to the right. The one thing that I cannot find an equivalent for is the deficit hawk condition— I’m not sure what the equivalent Democratic criterion would be. But I think it’s fairly obvious that the Clinton/Obama primaries followed a similar pattern to the one you outlined. Many thought the Denver Convention was going to be brokered, as the Democratic Party was fairly split between Clinton and Obama. What do you think distinguishes the lack of an Al Gore candidacy from the prospect of a Jeb Bush candidacy? The distinction I see doesn’t help Jeb Bush: unlike Al Gore, Jeb Bush’s name could be easily tied into a narrative of blame for the failures of the current Administration. DK: Steve, your comparison to the Al Gore “Democratic compromise” hypoth-

esis is irrelevant, as the criteria on the right is not nearly comparable on the left. The left does not nominate based on how left one’s social platform is. For example, they were willing to nominate the-then pro-life Bill Clinton over Jerry Brown. The right, however, takes social issues to heart, whether for the good of the country or not, as seen in the nomination of George W. Bush over McCain. I am willing to concede that in 2012, with the emergence of the deficit, debt hawk— the northeastern Tea Party—strength and momentum, social issues will not be as much the factor as in years such as 1996 and 2000. We must never forget that the GOP is still made up partly of the Christian right, and they are a group of voters who not only make their voices heard on the campaign trail, but in voter turnout. Jeb Bush satisfies this coalition’s concerns without alienating those Rockefeller Republicans and ReaganDemocrats who will be much more concerned with the value of the dollar and job creation than Roe v. Wade. You bring up “the Bush narrative” as a reason against Jeb Bush’s nomination. What would you say is the actual effect of the Bush name both on Jeb’s chances in the primary and general election? SK: The Bush narrative hurts Jeb Bush a lot more in regards to winning the general than securing the nomination. The scenario you’ve outlined, though, assumes that it’s more likely that Jeb Bush will be nominated as a “compromise candidate.” In this case, I feel as though Republican leadership will be very hesitant to return to having a Bush on the ticket. Additionally, by 2012, the Republicans will be able to nominate a candidate that will represent a material break from George W. Bush. Why would the Republicans not take that opportunity? They’re already reinventing themselves through the Tea Party, through isolationist conservatism, and through alleged fiscal conservatism. Why would they risk discarding all that because American voters are so superficial to only care about the name of the candidate running? American voters are ill-informed. I consider myself fairly informed, and I still instinctually look at Jeb Bush and assume that he is the same as his brother. He’s not—he’s smarter—but he has not, in my opinion, done enough to distinguish himself from his brother. The way that the narrative will hurt Jeb Bush is that if the economy improves, Barack Obama will be able to draw a contrast between his policies and the policies of the Bush Administration. If the economy does not improve, Barack Obama will be able to attribute the slow recovery to the massive amount of damage that occurred in the final months of George W. Bush’s Presidency. Either way, Barack Obama will be able to draw distinctions with the past, and it will make getting elected easier. The real reason I view Jeb Bush as an unlikely candidate is that he has expressed no interest in running. Do you think it is more likely Jeb Bush will mount a campaign for the Presidency at some point in the next year, or that he will indeed be nominated at the Republican Convention in Tampa?

Wikimedia Commons

Jeb Bush, potential 2012 President candidate.

DK: Let me first point out that nowhere in my scenario do I infer that Jeb will be the compromise candidate. The Republicans nominate on a winnertake-all system, making it virtually impossible for a brokered convention to take place. Jeb will be a compromise in the sense that the GOP will push him as the nominee who can bridge the socialfiscal divide within the GOP. As we have seen in past years, the GOP leadership— more than the Democratic leadership— can play the role of nominator, thus their support of Jeb would make him the probable nominee. The Bush narrative does not hurt him in the general election. First off, once the man opens his mouth, people will be wondering why we didn’t have the chance to elect him over Gore in 2000 instead of his brother. Second, I have made clear that we are supposing that this will be a bad economy, high unemployment election; therefore, independents who turned on Democrats in 2010 due to job loss will do so against their one-time love-interest Barack Obama in 2012, even if the Republican nominee is Jeb. Finally, he is popular in the Latino community, in part because he can speak fluent Spanish and has a Mexican wife, and he was also a popular governor of Florida. John Kerry only beat George W. Bush by five percent among Latino voters; imagine how well his brother—a man actually liked in the community— would perform. He’s guaranteed Florida electorally, therefore, as long as he wins Ohio—which, given 2010’s data (and assuming high unemployment), any nonPalin Republican can win. Moreover, the election would be his, thus negating the assumption that the Bush “narrative” hurts Jeb in general. You take to this debate as most liberals do: Assuming Obama’s election map will not change. There is very little to no chance that states such as North Carolina and Virginia will be in play for him again, therefore the Gore/Kerry maps will remain dominant. Thus, to win the election, it will be necessary to win 2/3 of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Jeb Bush is the man to do it.

page 15

ChroniCle, deCember 2010

The LasT Page
“as for whaT is noT True, you will always find abundanCe in The newsPaPers.” –Thomas Jefferson, 1806

An introduction to labeling at Vassar College
Michael Moore Contributor


eing wrong is like volunteering as a masseuse at an old persons’ home. At first it may send disturbed shivers down your spine, but in the end you’ve learned your lesson and because of it, become a better person. But we’ll come back to this in a minute. Many of you may be wondering why I chose to write for The Vassar Chronicle, and I would be too if they weren’t paying me exorbitant amounts of money. No, but seriously: A non-religious, gay moderate writing for a “conservative” paper? What’s up with that? There are two reasons. The first is that I discovered that they are all Tea Party vampires and I have to get close to them so I can thrust an Obama-approved rainbow-colored stake through their hearts. The second is because a multifaceted and deep political discourse is one of the most important aspects of any college campus. At Vassar, I am afraid to say that we don’t often have this. One-sided debate isn’t really debate; it’s just mental masturbation. Two-sided debate? That’s like the second

base of political discourse. Four-sided debate? Ideological orgy. Ten sided debate!? Those aren’t even legal in America. My point is that it never hurts to hear the other side. Unless the other side of your Beatles record is a Justin Bieber album (Wait, who would produce that? Mel Brooks?). So what does a one-sided conversation sound like? Well, considering that you live here you’ve probably heard one before: “With the Republicans in control of the House, this country is going to Hell.” “I know! The repeal of healthcare would be incredibly socially destructive.” “I know, right? Now pot will NEVER be legalized!” “I heard that Sarah Palin puts puppies in washing machines.” “Yep, I’ve seen the YouTube video.” Does that sound like the kind of world you want to live in? One where puppies are excessively clean? Of course not! America has always thrived from ideas presented by both sides of the aisle, and from creative minds breaking the mold of party politics. Conversely, history has proved the danger of political atmospheres in which one voice gains overwhelming power. I urge all of you to put aside your notions of political

civil war in America, the extremism of both medias, and the mudslinging of candidates on both sides of the aisle. Most of that has nothing to do with ideology or legislation. Instead, harness your intellectual abilities to weigh arguments, eliminate personal biases, and come to rational, informed decisions. And, like I said above, being wrong can be great! Today could be a new beginning in the way you approach politics. And what better way to begin but with a paper with my name in it? To help us all out on the road to mature discourse, let’s make sure that we don’t abuse labels or use moral or political absolutes. Because only a Sith deals in absolutes. So, here are some basic political terms: Conservative: One who generally favors economic liberty, free markets, private property, privatization of business, and lower taxes. Also eats small children for breakfast. Moderate: Is part of a political party, but usually identifies as ideologically centrist. Independent: One who is not affiliated with a political party. Often called a “Partypooper.” Liberal: Often support the welfare

state, Social Security, and perhaps a degree of Socialized Healthcare. They believe that by raising taxes and redistributing wealth, government can lessen social inequalities. All of them enjoy musicals, marijuana, and reversible raincoats. Democrats: Registered with Democratic Party, and are usually liberal and progressive, favoring political Left. Probably have a shrine to Hillary Clinton in their bedroom. Republicans: Registered with Republican Party, are conservative, and favor political Right. Tend to punt kittens for fun. Team Edward: There’s something about his dreamy eyes. He’s really ambiguous, so he must be deep, right? Team Jacob: You could grate cheese on those abs. And I hear he’s an animal in bed. Admiral Akbar: Giant talking squid that led Rebel fleet. He knows when something is a trap. Love: Baby, don’t hurt me. I hope this has been at least mildly entertaining for you. As you read this paper, please keep both a fair openmindedness and a healthy skepticism in balance. Enjoy!