Issuu on Google+

“We Do Not Apologize.”

Volume XXVIII, Issue 3

An Independent Publication

Limited Government. Traditional Values. America First.

October 15, 2009

www.thecornellreview.com / www.cornellinsider.com

Will Obama Learn From His Predecessors?

JUSTIN DiGENARRO / staff writer

I

n the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, President Obama shifted his focus from the still ailing economy to his campaign promise of signing a bill of significant healthcare reform legislation before the end of his first year in office. President Obama has made signing a new healthcare system into law his top domestic priority since the beginning of the summer. Contemporary American political history would say that one of the most politically dangerous things for any President to do is make explicit and time oriented promises. Often times, these cannot be met either due to circumstances or political pressure, and it is the President’s party, or the President himself, who absorbs the bulk of the electoral backlash. This is a mistake that has plagued previous Presidents, and yet Obama still was confident enough to make the commitment. The question then arises, has

Health Care: Has Obama Left Himself Overexposed? Obama left himself vulnerable? What would the consequences be should he be unable to fulfill his campaign commitment? I don’t think anyone can forget George Bush Sr.’s famous debate line. In as firm and convincing of a voice he could state, “Read my lips, no new taxes.” The thunderous applause that he rode to his first election turned out to be just as fickle in the next. In the hope of combating a growing deficit, Bush signed into law a modest tax increase. The political backlash he would suffer ensured that he would not be there for another term. In a 1992 New York Times poll, it was found that of the voters who cited Bush’s broken “No New Taxes” pledge as an important political issue, 2/3 voted for his challenger, Bill Clinton. Obviously there were other contributing factors including the third party opposition of Ross Perot and a slowing

Michelle Rhee and the Limitations of Power BRENDAN PATRICK DEVINE / staff writer

M

ichelle Rhee (Cornell class of ’92) seems to believe everything comes in twos, namely problems and solutions. Rhee radiates with a genuine, uncalculated charisma but beneath her vibrant veneer is a ferocious and dedicated DC school system

chancellor. Her speech last week at Bailey Hall, largely an anecdotal story time, outlined the progress of the worst public school system in the United States, but implied some other see POWER, page7

economy. However, no one can deny that President Bush’s clear promise to not raise taxes and subsequent tax increase played a major role in his electoral demise. You would think that his successor, a man from another party and quite politically savvy himself, would have seen the mistake of his predecessor. Clinton also ran on a platform to ease the tax burden on the middle class. He was fortunate enough to have an internet bubble fueling a booming economy when his reelection time came. However, when he did indeed raise taxes in 1993, his party did not escape the repercussions. In 1994, the Republicans took a commanding control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time in decades. With such a resounding midterm election victory, the 104th Congress, led by speaker Newt Gingrich, unleashed the Contract with America. Many political analysts

believe that without Clinton breaking his promise to ease the middle class tax burden, such a resounding Republican victory would not have been possible. With such a wealth of recent historical examples, you would think Obama would avoid this trap. But he has walked right into it, and the current stalemate in Congress only hurts his approval ratings all the more. The Republican Party is mobilized. They are aware that their numbers have dwindled and that if they are to effectively exercise any type of influence in Congress, they must remain unified. But it is more than just the objection from across the aisle that is halting Obama’s legislation. The Democrats also have been unable to mobilize themselves into a consistent voting force. Numerically, the Democrats could pass any bill see OVEREXPOSED, page 2

Inside This Issue . . . Page Three

Page Five

Page Eight

The Daily Sun: a guardian of freedom of the press?

Columbus The Tony Day Manfred ‘10 protestors ASSclown need to award! An come back to off-campus reality. recipient this time.

Page Nine Cornell Prof. on the origins of the failed Iraqi insurgency.


Thought

2

October 2009

Overexposed ...continued from front page

they want in the House or Senate without one single Republican vote. However, the tightrope that each Blue Dog Democrat must walk, balancing the party leaders pressure with that of their constituency, has left the future of healthcare reform in congressional limbo. With each passing week, we read only news of the slow dilution of the promises made by Obama. Each passing week, a new committee (most recently the Senate finance committee) unleashes a new version of healthcare reform. The slow and arduous process has not even produced one version of the bill for an up or down vote. Beyond the simple difficulty of compromising to create a version to be voted on, there still exists the problem of mobilizing the Blue Dogs. The longer Obama’s healthcare reform remains flailing in the political wind, the more likely the

bill will fail. We already see his approval ratings and the public support for healthcare reform fade. A recent CBS opinion poll found that only 43 percent of Americans support Obama’s desire to introduce healthcare reform, while 49 percent disapprove. A recent Rasmussen poll found that Obama’s job approval rating has fallen from its high of 65 percent to a new low of 48 percent. The American people are growing impatient with their president. It is impossible to know what the political consequences will be if Obama is unable to pass significant reform. As of right now, it appears that the only type of legislation that will be passed will be a watered down dilution of what Obama supporters believed was coming. A do-nothing spending program that wastes more money and produces no results will be met with disfavor

from the American people. But the alternative of passing no bill may be an even more dangerous political avenue for the president to take. Obama has backed himself into a corner. Either he passes a poor excuse for the healthcare reform bill that he promised, or he passes nothing at all. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that President Obama has very few options. If Obama is unsuccessful in getting a significant piece of healthcare legislation passed, the Democratic Party will pay the consequences in the upcoming midterm elections. Justin DiGennaro is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at jmd353@cornell.edu

Obama has backed himself into a corner. Either he passes a poor excuse for the healthcare reform bill that he promised, or he passes nothing at all.

Gay Penguins to Teach Kids Life Lessons in California

C

CR

ANTHONY LONGO STAFF WRITER

omplementing the recent surge in grade-school liberal indoctrination, a new curriculum passed in California seeks to teach about LGBTQ lifestyles and perceived discrimination TO KINDERGARTNERS. The initiative, which was passed in Alameda, California and is expected to be passed elsewhere, calls for the mandatory reading of “Tango Makes Three,” a story about two gay penguins who raise a son. The idea of reading a book that teaches a lesson is fine—if the book actually taught a lesson! This story rambles on about the stability of a gay animal family, but it fails to address any issues or promote tolerance. Instead, it focuses on a onesided appeal to gay families, but it lacks any reference to any other stereotyped groups. Children could be reading educational material at this critical stage in their development. Most parents also believe that, when the time is right, this topic should be addressed at home. It is not easy to deny that sexuality or sexual identity is not understood by most five year olds. How many 5-year-olds can definitively declare their sexual orientation? (As a reminder, most 5-yearolds cannot tie their shoes yet.) As I researched this issue, most major newspapers and news

stations do not even have an article on it. Only Fox News and a few other independent papers seem to cover this issue at all. I finally found an article on ABC (a small five paragraph blurb) which was filled with quotes from proponents of this plan. The verbal imagery that often comes up with this issue, I find, are the phrases “welcoming community” and “narrow-minded.” Let me elaborate on both. The retort to questioning this push? Kids shouldn’t be “narrow-minded.” Why does this program only target LGBTQ discrimination? Why isn’t bullying obese, unattractive, or mentally challenged children being addressed also? These targets are conveniently excluded. These are the types of children who are truly the targets of ridicule (if indeed there is any kindergarten bullying). Most conservative parents believe that it is not up to the community to define narrow-mindedness and that it is inappropriate to intervene about sexual issues in a serious scholastic program. Let’s now examine this “welcoming community.” Does brainwashing kids at a tender age with a forced agreement with a certain philosophy truly create an environment of acceptance? Or is it rather an artificially created atmosphere based on fear

The book proposed to teach CA kindergarteners about homosexuality

of opinion? Coercion is never welcoming, especially when it has an agenda. Instead of welcoming kindergartners to the educational system, the supporters of this plan sought to invade the core curriculum and throw in their own message. Out of a fear not to be labeled “anti-gay,” the reform was passed with little incident or actual examination. It is fundamentally wrong to attempt to add one’s own belief system to public education curriculum, no matter what it is or how righteous the cause. If we allow any group to attempt to reform education with the guise of “opening children’s eyes,” education would become simply a tool for advertising

a message; anyone could just walk into a classroom and advertise their cause, message, or ideology. This is dangerous. It does not matter what sexual lifestyle is being taught— heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, abstinence, et cetera. NO sexuality should be taught to kindergartners. Sexuality, when the proper age is reached, should be taught at home. Schools have NO business defending any kind of philosophy. Most parents feel sexuality is a private matter. In addition, many have religious beliefs regarding sexuality which they wish to discuss with ...see GAY PENGUINS, page 4


Editorial

October 2009

TheCornellReview

Selective Concern

Founded 1984, Incorporated 1986 Volume XXVIII Number 3 Ann Coulter Jim Keller Jerome D. Pinn Anthony Santelli, Jr. Founders

William Lane Editor-in-Chief

Kent Haeger

Executive Editor

John Farragut President

Oliver Renick Managing Editor

Raza Hoda

Treasurer, News Editor

Joseph Bonica

National News Editor

Dennis Shiraev Campus Editor

Contributors

Joe Bonica, Anthony Longo, Lucia Rafanelli, Oliver Renick, William Lane, Kent Haeger, Raza Hoda, Dennis Shiraev, Evan Rich, Willam Wagner, John Farragut, Harry Beyel, Lucas Policastro Faculty Advisor Michael E. Hint meh26@cornell.edu Board of Directors

Christopher DeCenzo, Joseph E. Gehring Jr., Ying Ma, Anthony Santelli Jr. The Cornell Review is an independent biweekly journal published by students of Cornell University for the benefit of students, faculty, administrators, and alumni of the Cornell community. The Cornell Review is a thoughtful review of campus and national politics from a broad conservative perspective. The Cornell Review, an independent student organization located at Cornell University, produced and is responsible for the content of this publication. This publication was not reviewed or approved by, nor does it necessarily express or reflect the policies or opinions of, Cornell University or its designated representatives. The Cornell Review is published by The Ithaca Review, Inc., a non-profit corporation. The opinions stated in The Cornell Review are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the staff of The Cornell Review. Editorial opinions are those of the responsible editor. The opinions herein are not necessarily those of the board of directors, officers, or staff of The Ithaca Review, Inc. The Cornell Review is distributed free, limited to one issue per person, on campus as well as to local businesses in Ithaca. Additional copies beyond the first free issue are available for $1.00 each. The Cornell Review is a member of the Collegiate Network. The Cornell Review prides itself on letting its writers speak for themselves, and on open discourse. We do not all agree on every issue, and readers should be aware that pieces represent the views of their authors, and not necessarily those of the entire staff. If you have a well-reasoned conservative opinion piece, please send it to cornellreview@ me.com for consideration.

The Cornell Review meets regularly on Mondays at 5:00 pm in GS 160. E-mail messages should be sent to cornellreview@me.com.

3

F

reedom of speech is in vogue right now. Between Banned Books Week and the public outcry over potential censorship The Collegian of Los Angeles City College, everybody wants to belly up to the table in the ever-holy name of “free expression.” If you can’t write it, everybody wants to read it. If your high-school library didn’t carry it, Uris needs a dozen first editions. The First Amendment spirit has reached a new high in both students and faculty alike. At The Cornell Review, it’s giving us all Excedrin headaches. These displays of self-righteously enlightened attitudes or righteous indignation, as the case may be, carry for us a measure of hollowness in them. Surely the backlash that The Review suffered last year cannot have faded from the community consciousness so quickly. It may seem as though this is an attempt to reopen old wounds. If it is, it’s because they never closed correctly. Apples and oranges, it might be said, not without some merit. Admittedly, The Review has always unabashedly taken a more aggressive tone in its articles, particularly the editorials. Banned books have, for all their content, never really hurt anybody; The Collegian’s only crime was taking an interest in the size of the budget cut foisted upon it. These victims are saints, The Review an unrepentant sinner, or so the argument goes. But what causes censorship, in each case, is a common ground all banned or bowdlerized publications share, from the lost lamb of The Collegian to the big bad Review wolf. The process starts because the publication causes discomfort or sits as an apparent threat to somebody, liberal or conservative. Perhaps the less-than-favorable references Rushdie makes to Islam upset someone’s politically correct sensibilities, or Burgess’s descriptions of drug-induced “ultraviolence” shocks one family man too many. Then someone

on a library board or at a PTA meeting gets wind, one thing leads to another, and the book gets shoved down a black hole. The process seems absurd, or at least it should. Yet still it continues, in high-profile ways like the decision to subsume The Collegian into a department that would resign editorial control to the administration, or any one of many attempts by student government or the administration to marginalize The Review, if not whisk it out of existence. Fortunately for the former, sister papers across the nation, from Palo Alto to Princeton have been ready to provide ardent support; the latter in its last battle could only get support from the Daily Sun, albeit hardly a zealous defense, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. We here understand the selective concern. Justified or not, there is a “poor little rich boy” attitude that pervades any criticism of conservatives complaining about freedom of thought. After all, regimes and institutions typically perceived as conservative have been some of history’s greatest perpetrators of censorship— Catholic skepticism towards Copernican theory and evolution is a historic violation, while Tsarist Russia’s suppressions of dissent are equally welldocumented. These examples of conservative institutions silencing opposition are inexcusable, but it makes no more sense to pass the favor onto their supposed “ideological descendants”. The other chief cause for uneven pursuit of justice for silenced conservatives is that our ideas, more than those from other sides, tend to make people uncomfortable. This occurs inevitably by nature if not by design but, in the academic sphere, instead of addressing conservatives themselves it becomes easier simply to marginalize them. “Free speech” rights suddenly become

“responsible speech” rights, with the majority (or at least the most vocal minority) dictating what lies outside the realm of responsibility. Now, trying to keep discourse civil is an admirable goal, and one to which we try to adhere at The Review. However we, as well as many other conservative publications nationwide, tend to find ourselves outside the lines more than other papers, given our tendency to touch on taboo topics, or to talk about them in more colorful terms. Yet, if there is a problem to be found with this, there is also a solution. Heavy-handed measures to censor or censure “offensive” papers are not that solution. Los Angeles City College President Jamillah Moore could have resolved issues arising from questions about funding decisions without forcing reporters to make themselves known or trying to swallow up their editorial capacity—there might have been a real opportunity for debate over the budget cuts. Such openness would have legitimated her position, even if nobody was convinced that her actions were correct. These principles apply beyond this case to those of papers like The Review. In short, we join The Daily Sun’s editorial board in its condemnation of Jamillah Moore’s actions, with the added message that we can fully empathize with The Collegian. But it is our fondest wish that this newfound spirit of openness and freedom to express oneself is more than the cause du jour, and that we can count on its still being around the next time we encounter trouble. - William P. Lane, for the editors

Copyright c 2009 The Ithaca Review Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Cornell Review P.O. Box 4654 Ithaca, NY 14850

CR


NATIONAL

4

October 2009

Have We Been Fleeced by President Obama?

A review of the Obama administration through the eyes of Dick Morris EVAN RICH STAFF WRITER

I

CR

f you are an avid watcher of Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, like myself, you have no doubt seen Dick Morris promoting one of his many books on how Americans are getting hosed by the government. Morris, a former top aid to President Clinton, prides himself on informing the public of all the injustices that the federal government commits and gets away with. In one of his more recent books entitled Fleeced, Morris discusses how the liberal media, Congress, lobbyists and the far left are scamming the people. Included in Morris’s discussion is his prediction of what an Obama presidency would be like. Now, nearly a year into the Obama Administration, is certainly an appropriate time to review Morris’s predictions and see if they have come to fruition. Morris believes “Obama would take the country sharply, suddenly, and dangerously to the far left.” More specifically he makes a few policy predictions, which I will discuss one by one. Morris first discusses how Obama will immediately increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and double the capital gains tax. While Obama has committed to paying for his healthcare plan by raising taxes on the wealthy, we have yet to see this occur. As for increasing the capital gains tax, it seems as though Obama was fully prepared to do this until the economy worsened to the extent that it has. If he is still president when the economy has recovered, this might come back into play. If the capital gains tax were doubled, as predicted, it would be absolutely catastrophic for American business interests as it could single handedly force American businesses to run for the hills and move to other countries with cheaper CG taxes. Morris also claims that the Obama Administration would have a catastrophic intervention in our society. In this section he discusses four key intrusions: socialization of medicine, weakening of the Patriot Act, weakening of education and lowering of penalties on drug criminals. Thus far we have seen several instances of this administration softening its stance on terrorists with the closing of Guantanamo, review of the CIA’s interrogation methods and opposition to wiretaps. The fact that this country has not been attacked since September 11, 2001 is a testament to the work that the CIA and other intelligence organizations have done over this period. Later on in the book, Morris goes into detail about a

few situations in which wiretaps thwarted plots to take down the Brooklyn Bridge and blow up JFK airport. He goes on to explain how liberal media outlets such as the New York Times have minimized the effectiveness of wiretaps to stop these sorts of intelligence gathering methods from occurring. Perhaps most central to this discussion, is the question of why Obama will be (and was) elected president. “Enthralled by his charisma, enraptured by the idea of electing the first black president… the voters have allowed the specifics of Obama’s agenda to get lost along the way.” This is 100% true. Last year, whenever I would explain to my fellow classmates why Barack Obama would not be a good president, I was always met with the same vapid responses of: “But don’t you want change?” or “Don’t you want to make history?” Sometimes I was even called a racist for disagreeing with Obama and supporting Senator McCain on various issues. As Morris explains, people got too caught up in Obama’s brilliant oratory skills to understand what he really was saying. The fact remains that President Obama’s main goal was and still is to “spread the wealth around” and make thing more “fair” for everyone. If this sounds like a pleasant way of implementing socialistic policies, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. Morris does a good job of covering the various ways that an Obama Administration would look to intrude on our individual rights, however we have yet to see the most egregious of these offenses. In his analysis of potential tax hikes under President Obama, Morris constructs a chart entitled “How much will Obama cost you?” Considering the information he has gathered, Obama tax hikes would result in 54.9% of total income paid in federal taxes through a combination of increases on income tax, FICA tax and Medicare tax. Furthermore, Morris explains how Obama has packaged this as a tax cut. By renewing the Bush tax cuts on middle class families and raising the threshold on the alternative minimum tax (AMT), Obama would essentially be cutting taxes on taxes that have never been imposed due to the method by which the government imposes taxes five to ten years in advance. This would be another example of the government passing the buck onto future generations. Finally and most timely in this discussion is Morris’s forecast for “Obamacare.” In this instance,

Morris was dead-on in his predictions. In this section Morris articulates all that is wrong with this flawed plan, beginning with the amount of rationing that will undoubtedly result. “Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, outpatient units, emergency rooms…and doctors’ offices would be crammed to the gills with new arrivals [to the healthcare system] seeking medical care under their new insurance policies.” In my own opposition to healthcare, I have stated this numerous times. The truth is there simply are not enough doctors to adequately provide care for every American without rationing care to those who previously had it. While most people would agree that ideally we want everyone to have healthcare, at some point it becomes difficult to ask people to give up their level of care and give it to someone else. Morris takes this analysis a step further by asking what will happen when we don’t adapt to the mass influx of Americans into the system. He claims that this can only result in “sky-high price increases,” which the country cannot afford. As a result, Morris believes that to avoid these price hikes, the government will resort to a system of rationing in which “federal bureaucrats…will have a veto on any medical procedure you want, even if you are prepared to pay for it yourself!” While many have laughed at the idea of the often talked about “death panels” being in the healthcare bill, they ignore the reality of the situation that Morris so astutely explains. At the beginning of this discussion I posed the question of whether we have been Fleeced by President Obama. At this point, I believe it is too early to answer this question. It is with certainty that I would say that the federal government has been fleecing us for years, and invents new ways of doing so each day. While I do agree with Morris that Obama will eventually look to implement this leftist agenda, I’m not so sure that he will be able to do so. Morris discusses how Obama will be able to do as he pleases with a large majority in the House and a filibuster proof Senate, but if healthcare has shown us anything it’s that having the votes is not enough. If the Democrats wanted to, they could pass healthcare right now. But why haven’t they? The truth is that the majority of Americans do not want what they are proposing, and there is no way that the far left can justify these actions to the people. The truth is that our public officials still have

to report back to us, and they understand better than anyone that supporting this socialist agenda will have them out of a job. If we continue to make our voices heard, then we can certainly preserve the democratic and capitalistic ideals that this country was founded upon.

Evan Rich is a freshman in the College of Industrial Labor and Relations. He can be contacted at ehr25@cornell.edu

Gay Penguins

...continued from page 2

their children at home. This fact cannot be denied. Many parents do not want these issues to be addressed at school, especially not at age five. For example, religious Catholics, by church doctrine, likely do not want their extremely impressionable 5-year-old children to hear about sexual lifestyles, regardless of the “lifestyle” in question. They are not anti-gay; they just follow their religion. However, the school won’t have it. This lesson is mandatory and parents cannot opt their children out. Why can’t their beliefs and concerns be honored? Why would a lesson be “mandatory” if it is something that should be embraced by everyone? If the real goal is to teach about the evils of discrimination, and if as a community we are truly concerned about our children, we should be teaching children to accept all individuals and respect everyone: Do not discriminate— period. To preserve the innocence of all school-age children across the nation, this and any other similar plan must be protested, questioned, and blocked. I almost did not publish this article out of fear of being labeled anti-gay. I’m not. But I felt that this issue was too important to overlook. This issue is not about gayness or straightness. It’s about questioning the appropriateness of exposing sexuality in a kindergarten classroom. Anthony Longo is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at ajl272@ cornell.edu


October 2009

Campus

5

Columbus Day and Revisionist History Students and professors making demonstration against holiday cite evils of explorers, Americans OLIVER RENICK MANAGING EDITOR

E

veryone knows about Skorton and Fuchs’ “Re-Imagining Cornell” financial initiative. What everyone does not know about though, is Cornell’s “Re-Imagining History” program. Or maybe they do – after all, the Daily Sun didn’t hesitate to plaster an article about an anti-Columbus rally on their front page last Friday. Unsurprisingly, the author (assumedly on purpose) writes the article from a tone of voice that clearly conveys her position on the subject – there are no “the demonstrators believe,” or “the exhibit showed” – as the same stance held by the activists. So first, let me congratulate the Sun on their dedication to failure as their role of the daily reporters and legitimate journalists on campus. According to Friday’s article, it seems as if the demonstration followed this syllabus: discuss why Columbus was evil, discuss why America is evil…discuss Program Houses (?). Where did the program house guy come from? The program house advocates always somehow manage to stick their nose in at any demonstration, meeting, student assembly, or Skorton announcement they can squirm into. The correlation? Some analogy about how Cornell is the United States and program houses are American Indians. Just a wee bit of a stretch. But the best quotes from the article came from two Cornell professors, Professors Eric Cheyfitz and Jolene Rickard. Apparently, there is a massive, gaping void of subjectivity in Professor Cheyfitz’s English classroom. The professor said in a quote to the Sun that he “teach[es] Columbus’s journals as examples of

the beginning of genocide in the Americas.” Interesting, because I actually took a fantastic Freshman Writing Seminar where we read the journals of Columbus, Cortes,

before, during, and after European settlement in the Americas by indigenous peoples. Tribes were warring with one another, brutally conquering and enslaving other

Revisionist Historians often fail to paint the whole picture

and Cabeza de Vaca. The only difference, it seems, is that my instructor allowed us to READ and ANALYZE the books instead of directly imposing his opinion on us and teaching with an objective. Teaching Cheyfitz’s way would be like having students read Reagan’s autobiography as a way to teach the fruits of properly implemented conservatism. Do we have this class at Cornell? No (for many reasons), but primarily because that’s not how you teach a book that people will disagree over. You read it and discuss it, and analyze it with minimal preconceptions. What we found in my seminar was that, yes, there undoubtedly were atrocities committed by Spanish conquistadors and European explorers. But just like all things in history, there is a flip-side to that coin: in this case, it is the plethora of violent acts carried out

less than clean hands in the realm of violence. Yes, they may have buried their WMDs under the tree to keep themselves focused while assembling a wampum belt, but for a lot of the time, they were burying their weapons into the heads of Frenchman, Europeans, other Indians, and each other. Why? Because there used to be a lot of beavers roaming the Finger Lakes area and everybody wanted them. Yes, including the Haudenosaunee, and they attacked and took over lands of other Natives to…gain capital! In fact, since we’re on the subject of greed, and similarly (according to the demonstrators), capitalism, a return trip to Professor Cheyfitz is in order. Bestow upon us your brilliance, Mr. Cheyfitz: “‘Spaniards documented these practices like Congress today documents atrocities as if it’s natural,’ Cheyfitz said. Cheyfitz provided a series of statistics to illuminate some of these current ‘atrocities’: the top 1 percent of Americans have 35 percent of accumulated wealth; 36.5 million to 37 million people live in poverty; the United States boasts the highest incarceration rates in the world; the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. 37th in regard to international health; and the U.S. owns 70 percent of the arms trade, making it the biggest seller of weapons of mass destruction.” I’ve run out of words for this article, but I propose a simple question to Mr. Cheyfitz: If the United States is so wrought with genocide, why are you here? And why does everybody want to come here?

tribes, and carrying out religious and spiritual practices that were less than humane. Shockingly, I am not spouting random nonsense here – I have read the book and suggest that anyone curious about the subject do the same, as it is a fascinating and extremely educational diary. And there’s Professor Rickard, who seems to openly embrace revisionist history – so much so that she almost had me convinced! Here is Rickard’s direct quote: “My ancestors buried their weapons of war under the tree of peace, the white pine…I exist as a Haudenosaunee woman because [they] gave their lives so that I can carry on the message of freedom to the next generation.” Professor Rickard is referencing her nationality of the indigenous “People of the Longhouse” or Iroquois Indian Nation. While these Native Americans brought five different Oliver Renick is a Sophomore in tribes under one association through the College of Engineering. He can the Iroquois League, they have be contacted at ojr5@cornell.edu

Johnny Mac and Rockefeller Republicanism PETER BOURIS STAFF WRITER

A

t the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, America witnessed the last convention of the old school. It was the last convention that allowed for the direct involvement and participation of grassroots. It was also the last convention where the Eastern establishment of the Republican Party would seem to exercise any control. In a classic showdown, the convention saw the rough-riding college dropout Arizonian with the clef chin and crisp voice take on the welleducated mild spoken New England

aristocracy. Clearly, the one was much more conservative than the others. Any reader of this knows that Senator Barry Goldwater won the nomination during the brokered convention and consequently set in motion the modern conservative movement. Despite Goldwater’s victory, the establishment of the GOP, which predominantly compiled the party’s moderate wing, successfully weakened Goldwater’s prospects by intentionally dividing the party, and in some ways supporting President Johnson. The impetus for dismantling the Goldwater campaign from within was

varied. Some simply did not support Goldwater’s vision for the Republican Party, or evenAmerica for that matter. For example, President Eisenhower never actually endorsed the senator. Others, like New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, were simply opportunistic politicians-individuals who Goldwater referred to as “me-tooers.” This described those who basically believed that “they too” could provide the programs of the New Deal, but for cheaper than could the Democrats. Clearly, this did not offer much of a choice for voters, causing Goldwater to adopt the campaign slogan “A Choice, Not An Echo.” While

it seemed that the establishment of the GOP was vindicated in effectively sabotaging Goldwater when President Johnson shellacked him in the largest popular vote landslide in presidential history, conservatives had different plans. One could witness at that very convention that the tides were changing. When alluding to Goldwater and the conservative wing in his speech, Rockefeller stated, “These extremists feed on fear, hate, and terror. They have nothing in common with Americanism. The Republican ...see NEW REPUBS, page 6

CR


Campus

6

October 2009

Red Lights

Guest speaker casts light on the underground lIfe of Chinese sex-workers

O

LUCIA RAFANELLI STAFF WRITER

n October 7, Cornell hosted SUNY Cortland Associate Professor of Anthropology Tiantian Zheng. Zheng gave a presentation about her recent book Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China. (She also authored Ethnographies of Prostitution in Contemporary China.) Zheng’s book was the result of two years of fieldwork, during which she lived and worked among the “hostesses” of one of China’s “karaoke bars”. Paid to sing, dance, drink, and perform sex acts with customers, these hostesses are usually women from rural areas looking to improve their economic and social status. Zheng became interested in

studying hostesses because, as a struggling student who relied on financial aid and good grades to allow her to attend school in the United States, she identified with them. Her quest to understand the lives of hostesses, however, was not an effortless one. As soon as she expressed interest in studying them, she was met with strong opposition, first by Chinese officials, then by the hostesses themselves. Zheng was originally discouraged from even starting her research due to fear that its publication could harm the reputation of the Chinese government, which has an underground relationship with the hostess industry. She was accused of being a spy sent by the US and given the impression that conducting her research

would make her a traitor to China. Eventually, she made an agreement that allowed her to tutor English in exchange for access to karaoke bars. Even then, though, Zheng had more hurdles to overcome. The hostesses were baffled at why someone would want to study them, and initially they refused to talk to Zheng, an “outsider”. Thinking she would be unable to understand them, they excluded her from conversation and were uncooperative. To solve this problem, Zheng decided to live and work with the hostesses. Although she never actually worked as a prostitute, she adopted the lifestyle of a hostess, and joined the others in everything from singing and dancing to avoiding police raids.

This strategy was successful, and Zheng finally gained the trust of the hostesses. She had gained a position from which she could observe and begin to understand their demanding lifestyles. They lived in harsh conditions, without bathing facilities, and with the constant threat of gang violence. Zheng herself was assaulted by gangsters, and the regular hostesses were sometimes raped. Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the Chinese hostess industry is the government’s complicity in its perpetuation. Condemned under socialism as immoral and bourgeois, the place of karaoke bars in Chinese society and culture has evolved over time.

predecessor once garnered the title Mr. Conservative. For the record, the contempt this author has shown for Nelson Rockefeller does not equate to his thoughts regarding John McCain. Senator McCain commands a level of respect like no other man in American politics, especially since the passing of Senator Kennedy. What he has done to serve his country and those close to him is quite unparalleled relative to many in the public sphere. But John McCain only recently suffered a demoralizing electoral defeat at the hands of President Barack Obama. Would the Democrats seek consul from Michael Dukakis, or John Kerry? Despite the devastating loss, McCain is now trying to remake the Republican Party in his own image, according to a recent story by the Politico. McCain has been actively recruiting, endorsing, and fundraising for certain candidates in House and Senate seat races that will occur in the 2010 mid-term elections. According to the Politico story, last week McCain formally endorsed GOP Representative Jerry Moran in the Kansas Senate primary campaign against his more outspoken conservative opponent, Representative Todd Tiahrt. He also hosted a Capitol Hill fundraiser for Moran. Of course, the great leaders of the current Republican Party are now accepting McCain’s counsel and trying to follow his vision. Senator Lindsay Graham (‘Grahamnesty’ for Dittoheads) of South Carolina stated to the Politico that, “I think he’s endorsed people with center-right politics because he has an understanding that the party is in trouble…and wants to have a

tone that would allow us to grow.” McCain friend and Republican strategist John Weaver said, “At a time when our party is struggling and has a lot of shrill voices and aggressive voices, he’s one that can expand our party.” McCain is the one to expand the party? Again, is John Kerry the one to expand the Democrat Party? A s stated, it is difficult to disagree with the notion that the Republican Party has long term strategic problems. Unfortunately, it seems that this dilemma may misguide the party leadership to follow individuals like Senator McCain and make the mistake of returning to Rockefeller me-tooism. We must not forget that the previous moderate period in party history officially ended with Nelson Rockefeller falling over intoxicated at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Though Gerald Ford won the nomination that year, just about everyone knew it would be Reagan’s in 1980. Reagan’s party went on to take over Congress in 1994 and keep it until 2006. Rockefeller’s party never gained any more than 135 seats in the House, and only once for two years controlled the Senate. Yet McCain is still the one to expand the party? It is hopefully clear by now that the Republicans must strictly adhere to their conservative principles to have future electoral success. The United States is still a conservative country by most measures, believe it or not. The tea parties and healthcare debate have shown us to still have what government professor Isaac Kramnick calls an “allergic reaction to government,” a rather healthy sign. Additionally, a recent Gallup poll showed that 40% of Americans consider

themselves conservative, while approximately 35% of Americans consider themselves moderate. So conservatives have a plurality in ideological labeling. This is not to mention that an equally recent Rasmussen poll showed that the candidate label that still resonates most positively with voters is “like Ronald Reagan.” One may ask that if conservatism is what wins, then why did the Republicans do so poorly in the 2006 and 2008 elections? The answer is simple. They did not adhere to conservative principles, especially regarding fiscal matters. With items such as Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, bank bailouts, the overall largest increase in non-defense spending since the New Deal, and a greater increase in regulatory outlays than under the Clinton Administration, the Republicans in Congress and President Bush betrayed their electorate. They made themselves out to be hypocrites and buffoons, and left their voters without any recourse. This is why the Republicans failed. But conservatism did not fail, and has not failed. As America’s Anchorman explained on November 5, 2008, “Conservatism was not on the ballot,” on November 4, 2008. The Republicans need to offer A Choice, Not An Echo. The must pick Goldwater and Reagan over Rockefeller and McCain if they are to rebound.

...see LIGHTS, page 9

NEW REPUBS ...continued from page 5

CR

Party must repudiate these people.” Nelson was roundly booed, and so began the marginalization of the moderate wing. It was said that Goldwater actually won the 1964 election—it just took 16 years to count the votes. The election of Ronaldus Magnus in 1980 on basically the same platform as Goldwater showed who was correct in 1964; Goldwater was, as Rockefeller was not. The coalition that emerged from this has been in tact ever since the 1970s, with its origins stemming from Nixon’s silent majority. That is, of course, until now. While it is not clear what the future holds for the GOP, it seems that what is now referred to as the “Reagan Coalition” is in tatters, or at least enduring some turbulence. Changing demographics, social norms, and new societal challenges have caused many to question the effectiveness of Reagan Republicanism in contemporary times. It is difficult to say whether or not this is a valid concern. What can be said though is that ever since the 2008 election and corresponding beating the Republicans suffered, the mainstream media has been spouting at the mouth of how the Republicans must “moderate” themselves to have future electoral success. But keep in mind the partisan allegiance of all mainstream outlets before running with this advice. What can also be said, at least it seems, is that the Republican Party should not be taking advice from Senator John McCain, who ironically enough holds what used to be Goldwater’s seat. The irony is in that John McCain is the contemporary standard bearer for Rockefeller Republicanism and the moderate GOP. His

Peter Bouris is a freshman in the College of Industrial Labor and Relations. He can be contacted at prb56@cornell.edu


October 2009

Campus

7

Chancellor of D.C. School System Speaks at C.U. POWER ...continued from front page

serious doubts, perhaps question even, about the long term viability of her methods and if they collectively constitute a solution. Rhee outlined two problems (I warned you) with the DC education system that one could summarily extend to other maladjusted urban schools: firstly, that political infighting has prevented any substantial change in the system; and secondly, that there was no accountability before she did her best to jeopardize workers’ job security, and rightly so. An illustration came in the form of an anecdote: a bureaucrat in her office neglected second checks and reviews in her paperwork, eventually costing the system $500,000 a year for two students to be educated. A similar tale was told about a special education transportation system costing $18,000 a year per student. These anecdotes were fairly lucid in exposing the static bureaucracy of the DC schools before Rhee’s appointment. The Cornell faithful absorbed her stories and reciprocated with the proper shocks and satisfactions. Still, her stories had a tendency at times to attenuate certain problems rather than allowing Rhee to present her resolutions. Rhee, as any mindful employer would, sought to fire ineffective workers rather than diffuse the cost down to the students in the form of poor education. Three decent, consecutive teachers, as opposed to three incapable ones, can change the direction of a student’s life, according to Ms. Rhee. With this in mind, Rhee had an even greater incentive to clean house. Here Rhee encountered a substantial barrier that still troubles her. One may only fire education workers in Washington for one of two (yes, two) causes: first, ineffectiveness, which must be established on the basis of scores on tests that the DC schools did not administer; second, teachers may be fired for “egregious acts”, i.e. hitting a student or stealing. Wasting the tax payers’ money does not count as stealing apparently.

The lecture progressed into a more demanding emphasis; instead of pointing out problems, Rhee outlined what she believed needed to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, Rhee circumnavigated telling the audience how she intended on convening these issues. “Education is the great equalizer,” said Ms. Rhee to Bailey’s crowd, after bemoaning the test score disparities between whites and blacks, a difference of some 70%. Black 4th graders in Harlem perform 2 grade levels higher than their counterparts in DC. Both groups have the same black culture and poor surroundings, so Rhee will not accept either one of those as a reason for the performance drop off. Education must be done properly to Ms. Rhee. Closing schools, to the chagrin of some insecure local politicians, and maintaining the current level of funding, athwart budget problems, would allow for greater focus on each student. Rhee proposes more money for social workers, guidance counselors, “the arts”, and for librarians in each school. Rhee prescribed two, yes two again, items to mend the leak. First, the system needs leadership. Rhee credits Mayor Adrian Fenty for his fulfillment of this need, for granting extensive power to her, and for refusing to cut school funding with the other budget items. Second, the schools need quality teachers. It could not be any more obvious that the schools need capable teachers but this has been a problem. The Washington Teachers’ Union holds a great deal of sway and people generally like to point to extrinsic causes of school failures, not teachers. Teach For America, among other groups Rhee is familiar with, gives the Washington DC school system hope for finding capable teachers. Ms. Rhee openly admits this is a quick fix, but drove home the point that “tapping external organizations”, even for a limited time, is far superior to the current system. Many attendees had their expectations for the evening met.

Rhee affirmed the role of voluntary service and the mandate of this generation to improve education by teaching. She also drew attention to the winds of change in her city, quenching the palettes of those who held simple curiosities about Rhee after she made the cover of Time and gravitated questions following the 2008 presidential debates. What went largely unnoticed was the implication of Rhee’s substance: here, for the first time, a Democrat running schools has pointed inwardly in citing the causes of educational problems. Corruption, bureaucracy, inefficiency, and poor teachers were Rhee’s adversaries, not politicians who deny funding. The reality has actually been quite the opposite: Washington spent over $9,000 per pupil according to the 2006 US Census report, third highest in the nation. COLA (Cornell Organization for Labor Action) has been whimpering and caterwauling for the past week now that Rhee has swept the cover off their dirty secret. A divorce from the bonds of labor represents a significant departure and a step towards progress, although we at the Review vehemently dislike that word, for the Washington schools. Should Rhee be able to institute a meritocracy, one that allows her to fire incapable people and reward capable teachers, Washington will be looking forward to a bright future. This is a cause for concern though. The teachers’ union shot down a proposal that would have paid teachers up to $130,000 a year (likely more than most Cornell professors make) in exchange for forfeiting tenure. Do the teachers really trust their faculties then? Are they in balance? Despite her accomplishments thus far, and Rhee was very happy to adumbrate each one, she has simply chiseled off the plaster and found a brick wall. Beneath her excessive stories, pats-on-the-back, and naïve optimism lays the bugbear of every government initiative: sustainability. Rhee’s plan for improvement depends greatly on external groups such as Teach For America. How long can the

Washington schools, even after marked improvement, rely on 2 year teaching commitments? How long can these teachers, who likely have contrasting long term aspirations, remain enthusiastic and focused? With her pay scale proposal in Hades, along with the Dodo bird and Obama’s “public option”, do those in minimal contracts have incentive to remain for several years? Aside from turnover, these schools face the prospect of either having department chairs who lack tenure or simply are leftovers from Rhee’s first purge. Another problem, far more disconcerting, is Rhee’s emphasis on “the arts”. What are “the arts”? Do they review the old masters or the delicacies of Mozart’s version of the Requiem Mass? Or do “the arts” mean expressionism? Haven’t these students already learned how to graffiti a wall? Meanwhile, only 40% of doctorates earned in math or science in the United States are granted to Americans. Rather than tap a new wave of enthusiastic students, taught by a more talented staff, Rhee endeavors to fund “the arts”. If Rhee’s struggles pay off, the gains may not be recognized in her time. Such a drastic overhaul, if successful, will improve in steps but the drastic difference will not be distinct for a generation, when there has been a decent sampling of college graduates from DC. All things unchanged, Rhee does not risk losing popularity or political capital soon. If Rhee seeks public office within the next decade, her future will be even brighter. A cabinet position is not out of reach either. The real question is: now that she has exercised the limits of her power, how much more can Michelle Rhee do?

Brendan Devine is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at bpd8@cornell.edu

The Review welcomes and encourages letters to the editor. Please send questions, comments, and concerns to cornellreview@me.com.

CR


Campus

8

October 2009

October’s Second ASSCLOWN Award P

resident Obama has been overstepping his bounds for a long time. Admittedly, he’s had a very tough road to follow from the streets of Chicago, through Bill Ayers’ living room, to the halls of power as a senator and eventually as leader of the free world. But he got an early start on the pompous windbaggery which former indulgents, take for instance Winston Churchill, have left until the end of their careers. President Obama had already penned two autobiographies (well, ok, Dreams From My Father was technically a memoir) before his candidacy for the presidency was even announced, and with little but a stack of “present” votes to his name. In the past, we’ve been willing to restrict our criticism to the man himself because, publishers aside, nobody’s been enabling him. That changed with last week’s announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama’s been hot soup for a long time (read: three years), but what has he done to deserve his prize? --Pen The Audacity of Hope --Officially be Oprah’s “The One” --Officially be McCain’s “That One” --Promise to get troops

out of Iraq and close Gitmo --Have the audacity… to hope In other words, Trina from “Tool Academy” might be a better laureate. This stings most not because I just

don’t like Obama. It’s more painful because it suggests that he might deserve reverence commensurate with prior winners—a suggestion that he himself has repudiated. The rationale for the prize is to help “build momentum” behind his nuclear disarmament and a return to a multilateral foreign policy from the Bush Doctrine. Some see it as a “vote of confidence” designed to call attention to the President (as

though he didn’t have enough). settle the Russo-Japanese War I’m sorry, I thought the Nobel Prizes --Cordell Hull, who played a critical were handed out in recognition role in organizing the United Nations of people who actually get things - - G e o rg e C . M a r s h a l l ( o f done! Nobel Committee—I promise the “Marshall Plan”), whose policies rebuilt war-torn Europe --Martin Luther King Jr., for his nonviolent civil rights work --Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for her care for the poor --F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela for efforts to dismantle South African apartheid. None of these were mere “votes of confidence.” The world had already benefited from their ongoing attempts to improve it. The prize stood, in each of these cases, as a testament to a job well done, not as a carrot for a job promised but as yet undelivered. to give every Afghan household So, because you not only delivered a puppy, cure AIDS and swine the prize to an undeserving flu, and get Israelis and Hamas recipient, but in doing so also to hug all day long. Let me just completely changed the purpose buy five puppies, and administer of the prize, we bequeath unto a swine flu vaccine to a homeless you, Nobel Prize Committee, an man to show some progress, award of your own: the Assclown. and then I can get my medal! Can we get a little comparison? What is getting a little vague progress on nuclear disarmament equal to? --Theodore Roosevelt, who helped

Should America Lengthen Its School Year?

P

LUCAS POLICASTRO STAFF WRITER

resident Obama is busy enough changing our health care, foreign policy, and the economy, but he still often finds occasion to toss up a radical suggestion or two. Chew on the latest: to remain globally competitive, American kids need a longer school year. No doubt, the President has exceptionally good intentions in the realm of education reform— he is “committed to ensuring that America will regain its lost ground and have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020,” according to the White House website. Indeed, everyone has been barraged by the grim statistics. America needs a whopping dose of educational reform, someway, somehow. Yet again, Obama insists that the solution to America’s deficiencies is to play a game of catch-up with the rest of “the world.” Quick, do what everybody else does, or we’ll

CR

be embarrassed in front of the global community! According to Education secretary Arne Duncan, we must “level the playing field” by mimicking the other team. This is a supreme fallacy. Generation a f t e r g e n e r a t i o n , A m e r i c a ’s leaders have enjoyed summer break (even the President!). What’s different now? Does summer in the twenty-first century cause children to lose IQ points? The fact that American schoolchildren enjoy a well-deserved break each year has no negative consequence on their education or lifelong intellectual verve. Why does the Obama administration believe that kids need more hours in the classroom?—should they be learning more material when many of them still struggle with literacy? Or rather, should they spend more time learning the same material to lessen their homework burden? Yes, that must be it— American kids simply don’t have enough time to play video games

after school, and our President is committed to turning that around. It now seems normal for Obama to push initiatives with little public support. In the case of the health care bill, he has agitated a majority of Americans. In this case, he would be agitating not just a majority, but 100% of helpless (voteless) schoolchildren. Pissing everyone off is not the proper way to inspire a new generation of thinkers and scientists (nor to placate teachers’ unions!). Perhaps a debate would go like this: “Mommy, why is Uncle Obama taking away our summer break?” “Because you are not learning enough. And he’s only shortening it by 20 days.” “So I’ll do more homework and read my textbooks!” “No, it’s not about that— you’re not allowed to learn under your parent’s domain. You need more time with the government.” A unique nation must find unique solutions to common problems, not just march to the beat of globalism. What is the root

Read the Cornell Review’s Blog! http://cornellinsider.com/

cause of U.S. schoolchildren’s lack of progress? There are three possibilities: substandard teaching methods, misallocation of funds, and sleep deprivation. The answer is unequivocally the lattermost. Cornellians tend to know this better than most thanks to the emphatic pleadings of Dr. James Maas, Professor of Psychology. The solution that the Department of Education needs to pursue, then, is to push back the school day, nationwide, by one hour. It’s that simple. Dr. Maas has shown it experimentally. Once that reform is in place, the positive effects are seen, enthusiasm grows, and it will be much easier to improve teaching and reallocate spending.

Lucas Policastro is a Freshman in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He can be re a c h e d a t l j p @ c o r n e l l . e d u


World

October 2009

9

Why They Lost Cornell military science professor talks about Iraq’s failed insurgency JOSEPH BONICA NATIONAL NEWS EDITOR

J

ust a few years ago, many students at Cornell can remember the war in Iraq being dubbed a “failure”, an “inescapable quagmire”. Reports of conditions on the ground seemed to rectify that belief, as whole provinces in Iraq, especially in the West and

far as to say that chance was one. These set of developments beg the obvious question of what was done to suddenly turn the tide. To answer that question, Cornell’s Peace Studies program hosted Lt. Steven Alexander, a Cornell military science professor and

South, were consumed by evergrowing insurgent violence, and the country appeared to be run by religiously motivated thugs as opposed to a democratically elected government. Then, suddenly, at the end of 2007 that all changed. Ground conditions improved exponentially, and military and political scholars the world over stated that the war had a chance of success, with some going as

multi-time veteran of the Iraq War, to answer that question in a talk entitled “The Failed Insurgency in Iraq”. In his last tour of duty the past year, Lt. Alexander spent considerable time collecting data on insurgency patters and changes in popular Iraqi opinion on insurgency. The results he found could be best summed up in a quote that he himself posted on the first slide from an intelligence officer in

from Newsweek.com

Conservatism Reconsidered

the Multi-National Force: “It’s not about how good we are as much as it is about capitalizing on how bad they are”. The Iraqi insurgency, quite simply, was not strong. Lt. Alexander then gave an overview of what exactly made a strong insurgency, in the context of the war. Firstly, and most importantly, every insurgency must have a strong cause to rally around. If an insurgency has this cause, it can be completely inept in everything else and still succeed. This was the case of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe; he was a horribly organized guerilla fighter, and during his rule his country has underwent unprecedented hyperinflation and a cholera epidemic, and yet thirty years later he remains in power because the people of Zimbabwe still believe his cause. Secondly, an insurgency must be well organized, but not so well organized so that independent cells have no knowledge of each other. Third, the strategy of an insurgency must be adaptable to certain situations. An insurgency must persist through both good times and bad, to prove to the citizens of a country and its own fighters that it is serious about

overthrowing a government. Finally, a successful insurgency is often a violent one that specializes in dealing almost indiscriminate death so as to destabilize a region. In the early days of the Iraqi insurgency, says Lt. Alexander, most insurgent groups had all of these, and it led to great success. Before explaining how things suddenly went awry, Lt. Alexander discussed what the causes of different insurgent groups were. First, there are the Sunni insurgent groups, which are composed of two distinct categories: religious insurgents and nationalistic insurgents. The religious insurgents are your AlQaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq, as well as the growing Jaish al-Islam. These are your run of the mill Islamic fundamentalists; they look for the restoration of the caliphate and the institution of Islamic law know as Sharia Law. Since these groups have such a strong religious motivation, they are generally considered irreconcilable. The Sunni nationalist insurgents are a bit lesser known; they consist ...see INSURGENCY, page 11

LIGHTS ...continued from page 6

BRENDAN DEVINE STAFF WRITER

F

ew read Russell Kirk nowadays. A curious student can venture to the eyrie of Olin and find shelves of his work with return dates antiquated by decades. Still, The Conservative Mind gathers an arcane following. Many in the Cornell Republicans are at least aware of the book and many have read it; the book lives on as the theory of the conservative condition, and it is a condition, not a calculus teeming with resolutions that debase the human personage to a few shallow equations and aphorisms. Russell Kirk was a man of letters, literally. The Conservative Mind was Kirk’s 1953 dissertation at the University of St. Andrews, located in a small Scottish town of the same eponym. To this day, Kirk is the only American to earn the Doctor of Letters degree from St. Andrews, the highest degree in academia but one usually reserved for honorary doctorates. Long before conservatism meant taking the Republican stance on

“the issues” (low taxes, love Capitalism, and roll with the tide of Evangelism), it followed the canons laid down in The Conservative Mind. “‘What is conservatism?’ Abraham Lincoln inquired once. ‘Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?’” First, a conservatively minded person believes in a “transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience.” The ailments of society, political or economic, are of moral root and are ethical problems. Secondly, he holds “affection for the proliferation of variety and mystery of human existence” over the banal uniformity that Liberal leveling imposes. Thirdly, the civilized world is indeed ordered in classes, meritocratic in method of course. Equality is before the law and before God, but equality if not to be of condition. ...see MIND, page 10

Now, the Chinese government is somewhat dependent on the sex industry to bring economic welfare and foreign investment. Many karaoke bars are even run by Chinese party officials. Those that are not, however, still have a relationship with the state. Often, bar owners must bribe state workers and offer them free entry to their establishments in exchange for permits and ignorance of the illegal activity that goes on there. Despite the demeaning nature of said activity, many hostesses believe they are in fact empowered by sex trade. They see it as a means by which they can assert ownership of their bodies and gain financial independence. Their ultimate goals are usually to either marry a client or make enough money to start their own business. Even if they are able to do this, though, they do not always permanently leave the sex industry. In her presentation, Zheng told the story of one

woman who married a client. They had several children together, and lived an apparently contented life. The woman, though, was inclined, again and again, to go in secret to the karaoke bars and continue working as a hostess. According to Zheng, the glamour of the job and the possibility of being chosen as the most beautiful out of a group of women draws even accomplished women back to a life of prostitution. Zheng’s book further explores the changing views of hostessing over time in China, its relationship to ideas of masculinity and femininity, and the lives of madams in the Chinese sex industry. The result of years of field experience, the Red Lights offers a unique and valuable perspective on this controversial segment of the Chinese economy. Lucia Rafanelli is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be contacted at lmr39@cornell.edu

CR


10

Thought

October 2009

Looking back at the Conservative Mind MIND ...continued from page 9

CR

Fourthly, freedom and the security of one’s personal property are closely linked. Fifthly, the conservative has “Faith in prescription and distrust” of the calculus of “sophisters.” And lastly, “change may not be salutary reform” (Liberals pay attention): the productivity of prudence and calmness often prevail in the end over hasty reform in the name of “the people.” The Conservative Mind is hardly a political polemic as much as it is a hagiography on the martyrs of the old ways against the soar teeth of industry and then the machine of collectivism. These conservatives include, but are by no means limited to, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John C. Calhoun, Arthur Balfour, Cardinal John Henry Newman, James Fenimore Cooper, Alexis de Tocqueville, and TS Eliot but most keenly two men: Benjamin Disraeli and the indefatigable Edmund Burke; men of great “moral imagination.” Like Kirk, few read Edmund Burke today outside of Isaac Kramnick’s introductory government class— yet Burke was a genius in all senses of the word. He combated with resolved vigor the silliness of equality and the naïve expectations of Rousseau’s epigoni. “In this partnership [of the state and of civil life] all men have equal rights; but not to equal things….” said Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, the work that earned him the wrath of his contemporaries who all but extirpated Burke’s prescience from the words of history. Prescription and human prejudices govern the world; absent from conservative thought are witticisms about the morality of the majority or the virtue of utility. Burke would indeed be displeased to hear the negativity of the word “prejudice” and its association with racism, for he believed prejudice was part of the human condition at the subconscious level, even before psychiatry developed. After all, “Individuals may be foolish but the species is wise.” “A moral order, a good old prescription, cautious reform- these elements are not merely English, but of general application; for Burke, they were as valid in Madras as in Bristol.” Herein lays the crux of the conservative mind that Kirk sketches. Man is not progressing towards Elysium. Man in fact is unchanging. Has public education bequeathed the stupid or the daft with great intellect? In America, “nearly everyone was schooled and almost no one educated” at the dawn of the twentieth century. No, man is not in flux. Without attention to Providence and the wisdom of one’s ancestors, who are we to expect beneficent posterity? Civilization is not some mystical compact as Rousseau said, nor is it the linear narrative of envy and struggle as the Marxists profess. It is a contract between men living, men dead, and men to be born yet, says Burke. This is why conservatism thrives outside the cities where men “are not soon to forego those yet to be born or forsake the wisdom of [their] fathers beneath their feet.” Generational wisdom led the often misquoted George Santayana to aphorize history: “Those who cannot learn from history are often doomed to repeat it.” Reverence, illative sense, and esteem: all the essentials of the conservative. Contrast him with Liberals who thrive off of antipathy for tradition. To the Liberal, “Order and privilege are to be condemned; total democracy, as direct as practicable, is the professed radical

ideal.” The story of the state is the same. What is Utilitarianism but Rousseau without the mystical trappings? What are Socialism and Communism but Utilitarianism without electoral turnover? These men of collective mind, operating under the fasces of “the people”, wish “to tamper with the living essence of society so that it would accord with their notions of mathematical nicety and administrative convenience.” No men are equal because none possess identical talents. True society is not egalitarian. To the Briton Benjamin Disraeli, “Class is order; without order, law crumbles.” Disraeli’s novels, Sybil the most notable of them, had great appeal to the middle classes; Disraeli illuminated a simple truth dismissed by the phlogistonic up-rooters: “Men cannot improve a society by setting fire to it: they must seek out its old virtues. And bring them back into the light.” The Liberal readers searching for edification here would do well to note that no exertions of invented rights will change the natural order. Rights are the invention of the opportunist, seeking to give out tokens as political patronage. Natural rights they say. When did these rights enter nature? Rights are not natural but the culmination of society’s good. Burke himself could not have shone any brighter light on the contrast between the endearing rights of conservatives and the egocentric entitlements of Liberals. The Conservative Mind makes a point of noting that “This lengthy catalogue of ‘rights’ ignores that two essential conditions which are attached to all true rights; first, the capacity for individuals to claim and exercise the alleged right; second, the correspondent duty that is married to every right:” If one “has the right to marry”, then someone else has to obligation to marry. Moments like these take The Conservative Mind beyond the vignettes on Hamilton and John Quincy Adams and give the reader some lessons. To the conservative, the state and the Church are organic systems, existing within the context of their times. This is why pompously universal philosophies fail, including the dictatorship of the unruly masses. What binds men then? To Disraeli and Burke and Adams, reverence; the same reverence can be read as an adhesive in the United States, where most citizens can still meditate upon the Declaration of Independence and Constitution with an affinity for their past and some glimmer of hope for their futures. The Conservative Mind is the narrative of men who loved their lives but saw a world crumbling around them. Henry Maine crushed Mill and Rousseau’s “state of nature myth” but did little to make a name for himself. Conservatives like Disraeli and WEH Lecky, says Kirk, disliked reform because it undermines merit. History may prove these men right, but historians often overlook these people in favor of those who were wrong but academically more interesting (the Benthams, Mills, Marxes, and Woodrow Wilsons of history). If The Conservative Mind has one flaw, it is pessimism. Perhaps though, the pessimism

is condign; after all, the book’s title was to be The Conservatives’ Rout. Kirk is a romantic, the last of a dying kind (although enough keep popping up to write The Education of Henry Adams, Reflections on the Revolution in France, and The Conservative Mind). Russell Kirk is wistful over the loss of nature to the mechanisms of industry (he did call cars “mechanical Jacobins”). Not all was lost though: Kirk’s ally, William F. Buckley Jr., would create a conservative media wave in National Review and the TV program “Firing Line” that gave mainstream credence to the mindset that “was nearly extinct in the United States” by the First World War. Reagan won the Presidency in 1980 and began a long line of conservative dominance in elections for years to come, though of course the definition of “conservatism” would undergo great evolution in this time, too. Kirk ends The Conservative Mind with “Conservatives’ Promise.” While Kirk laments his disconsolate attitude towards the loss of faith, he, like Burke, leaves future conservatives with a prescription, using the words of TS Eliot: “Conservatism is too often the conservation of the wrong things. Liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things.” What then shall we do for the “permanent things?” Kirk’s words are not merely heuristic but also mandating to the inspired mind and heart. We are tasked with the preservation of the old ideas, not because they are old, but because they are eternal. Man’s nature is not to be changed; it is to be lived with. This generation should read The Conservative Mind, as well as Burke, Eliot, Santayana, and Newman, if it seeks to know the faith of its fathers and the need to capture its future. History is not linear at all. Learn from the energies of Burke and from the lethargy of the Adamses! Seize your posterity! Brendan Devine is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be contacted at bpd8@cornell.edu


THOUGHT

October 2009

11

The Failed Iraqi Insurgency INSURGENCY ...continued from page 9

of the 1920’s Revolutionary Brigade and the Islamic Army in Iraq. These groups look for a restoration of Sunni-dominant rule in the country, and are thus diametrically opposed to the democratically elected Shiite government currently there. What is different about these insurgents is that their motivation is political, which means their goals can be achieved politically as opposed to violently. Often times, leaders of these groups are in fact open to political action, and thus are considered reconcilable by the United States armed forces. A fair number of the “Awakening Councils” sometimes mentioned in the news come from these insurgents. Lt. Alexander tells much the same story with the Shiite insurgents, but with one important difference. The Shiites also have religiously motivated groups, most notably the ISCI Badr and Jaish al-Madhi, known more commonly as the Madhi Army, the terrorist group under Muqtata alSadr. While religiously motivated

in nature, they do not seek the goal of Islamic law; rather, they simply fight for the defense of their religion. Nonetheless, the army still considers this group irreconcilable. The second group of Shia insurgents is criminal cells. Most of these cells have sprung up only recently, with the break-up of the Madhi army into many smaller groups. These are your typical gangsters and thugs. They do violence to innocent people to get money and in some cases political influence. These groups, however nefarious their intentions, are also willing to enter the political sphere to gain what they want, and are thus considered reconcilable. It is important to know the motivations in each group because they help explain where each group came apart at the seams. For the religious Sunni insurgents, their downfall came with their rule of the Anbar province in the middle of the war. Once they had established a base of control, Al-Qaeda and Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq instituted

Islamic law upon the townsfolk. This meant such ridiculous things as having your hand chopped off for smoking in public and being made to wear traditional Islamic garb at all times outside the house. In addition, the organizations imposed a 20% tax on everything the people made and owned. Since the Iraqis are a secular people, this did not fly well. This made their cause extremely unpopular. Just as the presence of a strong cause can replace any inadequacies, the lack of support for a cause can outweigh any positives. This shift in popular opinion helped to create the Sunni “awakening councils”, which turned to the United States armed forces as their best source of aid. The Shiite insurgents also did things unpopular with the people, causing a mass departure of support and the de-evolution into numerous criminal elements. The next big mistake, said Lt. Alexander, was in organization. T h e i n s u rg e n t g r o u p s w e r e extraordinarily well organized; in fact, the problem that led to their downfall was over-organization.

Each independent cell was so isolated that, as the lieutenant put it, “The guy next door to you could be building the bomb you got the copper wires for and you could have no idea he had anything to do with it.” This lack of communication led to disorder within the ranks, and allowed counter-insurgency forces to easily track terror cells and eliminate them piece-by-piece. Overall, the talk was an excellent and detailed summary of the U.S-led effort to quell the Iraqi insurgency. This article merely scratches the surface of all that was said, and was well researched by someone who did their work in the best source of all: right in the arid desert heat of the battle.

Joseph Bonica is a sophomore in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He can be contacted at jmb582@cornell.edu

The “Community Clause” Lives to Die Another Day DENNIS SHIRAEV / JOHN FARRAGUT CAMPUS NEWS EDITOR for cornellinsider.com

At last Thursday’s SA meeting, a “ C o m m u n i t y Cl ause 2.0” resolution was introduced. In this newly proposed resolution, the entire body of non-SA students that attend meetings would be allocated 2 community votes. Instead of each member in attendance getting one vote, the entire b o dy o f n o n -SA a t te n d e e s would vote on a given motion/ resolution and then 2 votes would be allocated to whatever the majority of those students voted for. If it’s a tie, then the two votes would be split. If only one person shows up, then he or she will only get one vote. This new rule gets around one of the biggest issues with the original Community Clause Resolution. As many students pointed out, what would prevent a large student organization, like the Cornell

Republicans or Cornell Democrats, from bringing their entire club to SA meetings and then having a consolidated majority on every vote? We’ll have to wait until the next meeting for a vote on the new resolution, but I’m still skeptical that it will increase student interest/involvement in the Student Assembly. Read the fine print. Just like the original resolution, “community votes” come with five asterisks attached (see quote at right): So what exactly are the nonSA attendees going to be voting on? For more skepticism, check out John Farragut’s Resolution 4- A Postmortem article from the latest print issue of the Review. If that weren’t enough, last week’s meeting yielded the best S.A. logic of the week: We need to increase funding for Slope

T

he communit y clause may only be exercised on final votes of sense-ofbody resolutions pursuant to Bylaw 1.3.a.4, which excludes (1) funding and budgetary decisions, (2) amendments to the SA Charter and Standing Rules, (3) the ability to make motions, (4) creation/dissolution of committees (5) selection of officers, committee members, and liaisons from the popularly elected SA (i.e. allocation of the Student Activity Fee, SAFC appeals, approval of Parliamentarian, Liaison to the Provost, etc.). Day because then we’ll be able to afford better performers, and if we have better performers, fewer people will feel the need to drink on the slope, which will increase safety and decrease drinkingrelated costs! So by increasing costs, we actually decrease costs. This man deserves a position in the Obama White House designing health care policy.

Dennis Shiraev is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at des255@cornell.edu John Farragut is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at jdf222@ cornell.edu

Find us on the web: http://thecornellreview.com/

CR


The Cornell Review

12

October 2009

Wisemen and Fools “You know the one thing that’s wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say.” -Bill Clinton “I would say that anything that is indecent and violent in TV is a crime against humanity and they should shoot the head man responsible.” -Ted Turner “I have opinions of my own— strong opinions—but I don’t always agree with them.” -George W. Bush “I’m sure a lot of you have tripped out on alcohol. It’s a lot safer to do it on marijuana.” -Mike Gravel “As for the one Mormon in the race, the candidates who really

believe in God will beat him “The hardest thing about any anyway.” political campaign is how to -Reverand Al Sharpton win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” “Those who are too smart to -Adlai Stevenson engage in politics are punished by being governed by those “The reason that there are so who are dumber.” few female politicians is that -Plato it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces.”. “When I was a boy, I was told -Maureen Murphy anybody could be president; I’m starting to believe it.” “Some men change their party -Clarence Darrow for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the “Politicians are the same all sake of their party.” over. They promise to build a -Winston Churchill bridge, even where there is no river.” “Democracy is being allowed -Nikita Khrushchev to vote for the candidate you dislike least.” “Truth is not determined by -Robert Byrne majority vote.” -Doug Gwyn “All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of

reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.” -Albert Einstein “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best videos of all time!” -Kanye West I’ve now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go. -President Barack Obama Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. -Alexander Hamilton

In your heart, you know we’re right.

Join The Review CR

Send us an email at wpl5@cornell.edu or come to GWS 160 on Mondays at 5:00


Cornell Review XXVIII #3