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Interview with


Counterpoint a magazine of politics and culture

APRIL 2011

Jose Maria Aznar’s


Training the new face of the right

Counterpoint VOLUME 1.1, APRIL 2011 EDITOR Eric Pilch MANAGING EDITORS Kara Brandeisky Cole Stangler EDITOR-AT-LARGE Kitt Wolfenden CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Gavin Bade Rachel Calvert John Flanagan LITERARY EDITOR Matt Collins DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Ethan Chess DESIGN EDITOR Jessica Ann VISUAL EDITOR Jin-ah Yang DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY Benjy Messner CONTRIBUTORS JC Hodges Mark Waterman Iris Cohen EDITORIAL BOARD Eric Pilch, Kara Brandeisky and Cole Stangler

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This magazine was made possible with the support of Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, online at CampusProgress. org. Campus Progress funds, trains, and mentors students running a diverse and growing group of progressive campus media organizations. Grants and assistance can help you build and maintain a web site, expand print runs, and promote your organization on campus. For more, visit CampusProgress. org/publications. Counterpoint is run by undergraduate students at Georgetown University, but Counterpoint is unaffiliated with the University and funded solely by Campus Progress. The content is the responsibility of Counterpoint contributors alone, and does not necessarily reflect the views of University administration, faculty or students. Commentary, “On the Ground” columns about life at Georgetown, features, reviews and blog posts reflect the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Counterpoint. Editorials reflect the opinions of the editorial board.



The gay community has gained a lot, but what has it lost?


Increasing hysterics over the plight of the modern man



The Latin American Board at Georgetown and abroad


Washington D.C. disenfranchisement through the ages

The famed political consultant discusses his years at Georgetown and the Obama presidency



A Canadian’s perspective on the political philosophy driving the American healthcare debate


Email: Online at

How the EPA’s new rules will protect the lower class while cutting costs



Counterpoint publishes a variety of submissions from a progressive perspective. Both pitches and completed manuscripts are acceptable. Counterpoint also accepts letters to the editor from any perspective. Please limit letters to the editor to 400 words. Counterpoint reserves the right to reject pieces at the editor’s discretion, to edit for length, tone, clarity and accuracy, and to choose accompanying headlines and graphics. Email with submissions.

Photo image used under Creative Commons from Contando Estrelas.


How culture wars have morphed into an assault on women’s health

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Justus (italic, roman, and bold) by Justus Erich Walbaum; Petita (light, medium, bold) by Manfred Klein 2001-2008; Ingleby (italic) by John Engleby


18| ESSAYS FROM THE BRINK From his deathbed, a historian reminisces


As the “War on Terror” continues, Elliott and Martin miss the point

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APRIL 2011



Mission statement


uring the last three decades, the United States has passed through a conservative era. We have witnessed a myriad of consequences: widening inequality, violations of civil liberties, a militaristic foreign posture, environmental degradation, rampant consumerism and an increasingly vapid mass media. Ours is a reactionary era, but we have hope for a resurgent progressivism that can address the challenges of the twenty-first century. Counterpoint was founded with the trajectory of recent American history in mind, and we will be guided by our founding mission statement: “Counterpoint is a magazine of politics and culture at Georgetown University that will inform readers on critical issues of the day and articulate a vision for a new progressive future. We believe that positive change in American history has been brought about by those who are unafraid to challenge the prevailing status quo. We will tap into this tradition of reform while engaging readers and challenging

them to seek positive social transformation. The editorial position of the magazine will be progressive in outlook, but not limited by affiliations of party or creed. We intend to challenge and expose present injustices while serving as a critical and thought-provoking voice for change.” We believe that the years of undergraduate study provide a fruitful time to grapple with serious political and social issues. Students are given the opportunity to pursue their academic interests, reflect on the world and form opinions for four years. Many Georgetown graduates go on to work in politics, business, the nonprofit sector, academia and other fields where the power of ideas is immeasurably important. We believe that the career decisions students make and the convictions they hold will have meaningful consequences, and therefore deserve serious consideration and thoughtful discussion. With all this in mind, we ask you to join us in creating a magazine that will combat our present situation and comment on the consequential issues of the day here at this university, nearby in Washington, or elsewhere in the world.

We believe that positive change in American history has been brought about by those who are unafraid to challenge the prevailing status quo.

Unions under attack


fter a year of quiet preparation, workers at the Leo J. O’Donovan dining hall and members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee achieved a major victory for labor on campus by successfully organizing employees into a union. This action should be applauded by all members of the Georgetown community and will go a long way toward addressing concerns about worker mistreatment by Aramark, the company that is contracted to provide food services at Georgetown. Aramark has a troubling history with workers, and many employees have described a distinct shift in the attitudes and actions of managers since Aramark won a contract to provide food services in 2007. Fortunately, Georgetown administrators made the right move in reiterating their support for the University’s Just Employment Policy and stressing that Aramark must abide by the workers’ desire to form a union. The efforts of students, faculty and employees will almost certainly improve the situation at Leo’s by allowing workers to bargain for better wages and benefits. Yet, as workers are making important strides at Georgetown, the nation as a whole has been seized by disquieting attacks on unionized workers. This assault not only harms individual workers by depriving them of the right to bargain collectively, but also threatens to shift the balance of political power in the nation. The first flashpoint in the battle over union rights began in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker tried to end select public sector unions’ rights to organize. Walker’s radical plan was defended on the grounds that the state faced an enormous budget deficit and state workers were unwilling to compromise over compensation and benefits—a claim that ignores the substantial concessions public sector workers had already made. Democratic lawmakers responded by staging an unprecedented procedural move whereby they left the state, leaving insufficient quorum in the legislature. By taking advantage of a rule that requires quorum to appropriate funds, they were able to prevent the legislature from passing the law as it was written. However, Republicans eventually rewrote the bill to remove funding provisions and passed the legislation to snuff out public sector unions while Democrats were absent. Curiously, this plan exempted police and firefighters unions, both of whom supported Walker during his election campaign, laying bare the true motivation of the Governor and his allies—eliminating a source of political opposition. Similar assaults against unions have taken place in New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie has launched an aggressive campaign to prevent public sector workers from organizing, and in Ohio and Indiana where the battle to protect public sector organizing rights is ongoing. Although the benefits provided to public sector workers in these states are reasonably generous, unions have been open to negotiation, and the pensions and health care plans were not stolen. Aggressive state governors could have chosen to engage in tough negotiations


or even enlist the support of the public to put pressure on unions to accept deeper cuts. In other states with arguably more severe fiscal problems, like California and Illinois, governors have worked to extract concessions from unions without violating their fundamental right to have a seat at the bargaining table. Instead, this group of extreme conservative governors used looming budget troubles as a pretext to eliminate public sector unions, setting a chilling precedent for their private sector counterparts. The battles in many states over collective bargaining rights neglect the broader implications of these attacks on unionized workers. Historically, unions have won such important concessions as the 40 hour work week, paid sick leave and weekends. Most unions do valuable work allowing groups of employees to present a unified voice to management and improve their compensation and benefits. However, unions have championed a broader progressive agenda that benefits not only represented workers, but also the welfare of lower and middle income Americans. By seeking improved health care benefits, pay that increases with productivity, a higher minimum wage, and improved workplace safety standards, unions have unquestionably improved the lives of American workers. In the twenty-five states where a majority of public sector workers are members of unions, nineteen lean Democratic in their politics. However, in nearly all the ironically named “Right to Work” states, where it is very difficult for workers to organize, the states are controlled by Republican governors or lean Republican. “If Wisconsin and Ohio and similar states in the North eradicate public employee unions, it will certainly make it harder for Democrats to carry these crucial swing states,” John Judis noted in The New Republic. “The politics of the Midwest could increasingly resemble those of the South—where God, guns, and race often trump economic considerations among the white working class—and where, as a result, the narrow interests of business prevail.” While the battles over public sector unions continue, public opinion appears to be turning against the aggressive overreach of conservatives. In Ohio, liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown’s Senate reelection campaign was looking uncertain before recent events put his state in the national spotlight. Now, a recent Public Policy Poll showed him carrying a lead of 15-19 points against a range of potential challengers, including popular comedian Drew Carey. Similarly, a recall drive against Walker and vulnerable Republican lawmakers has gathered momentum in Wisconsin. Heartening developments have taken place at Georgetown over the past weeks, and in many ways the University’s labor-friendly policies assisted workers in their unionization efforts—something that cannot be said in a growing number of American states. The fight to protect unions across the country is about improving workers’ lives and ultimately about defending the necessity and relevance of organized labor. In spite of often tremendous odds, unions have struggled for immense gains over the last 150 years. We should not let politicallymotivated attacks from the right undo those hard-fought victories or limit unions’ ability to continue their struggles well into the future.




Out to be the same

BY J.C. HODGES The gay community has gained a lot, but what has it lost?


fter a spate of hate crimes in 2007, the fall of my freshman year, many LGBTQ students organized the “Out for Change” campaign, which successfully demanded more support for and recognition of sexual and gender minorities on campus. These students fought for, and won, a fulltime LGBTQ Resource Center and changes in policies regarding discrimination. Ever since, there has been a vast change in the gay life at Georgetown: many more people are out, there are gay leaders of student groups and there are gay members of all different types of organizations and teams. Furthermore, it has become a priority for many different organizations and institutions on campus to make the Hilltop a more welcoming place for gays and lesbians. This, on one level, is a wonderful thing. Individuals should not be barred from pursuing activities and goals merely because of sexual preference. When I came to Georgetown, the gays actively sought each other out. Now gay people don’t feel the same need to cleave to others of the same identity. Most consider this a great gain—people do not have to limit themselves to a certain social group solely defined by their orientation. It is easy to conclude that we are well on our way towards the liberal democratic dream—people are free to choose the lifestyles they want, do the things they want, and be with the people they want. Mission accomplished. But I wonder if something has been lost in this process. Maybe in the course of joining the rest of the campus and fully becoming Hoyas we have discovered that the grass is not much greener. Gays may be individually more integrated into campus life, but the gay “community” itself has become increasingly dispersed and fragmented. In my view, we should stop, take a look at what has happened over the past three years, and evaluate where we are today. ne thing I have increasingly noticed O over the years is that Georgetown is an incredibly normative place. Students here look alike, dress alike and act alike. People who don’t fall into the mainstream—at the risk of over-generalizing—are judged and stigmatized. When I was abroad, a friend decided she wanted to get a lip ring. Upon discussing it with friends who were still back at Georgetown—who reminded her that when she got back she would be “that girl”—she quickly recanted from the almost-faux pas. Georgetown has a real lack of diversity, but not (necessarily) along the lines of race, ethnicity, or orientation. Those problems could be addressed structurally. Instead, the campus culture itself is hostile to anyone who would act differently. This has at times taken on the extreme dimension of hate crimes. Without underestimating the horrendous nature of these events, I would say that in many ways such actions are less important than the small-scale, quotidian bitchiness of much of the student body— the snide comments, the cold shoulders, the weird glances for those who are “different,” and warmth and friendliness for those who conform. It’s amazing how many people from so many different backgrounds can all look ex-


Photo cour tesy of GU Pride


seen here at the National Equality March, have won important concessions from the University.

actly the same. Polo shirts and boat shoes know no color or creed. This is probably due to a variety of factors, but among them is a lack of imagination. When the average Georgetown student wants to figure out what to do, they don’t ponder what would make them happy, or what seems exciting or aesthetically pleasing. They just look around to see what everyone else is doing. Back in the day, when sexual orientation necessarily meant that one wouldn’t fit into the broader campus culture, a funny thing happened. The gay community no longer felt as much pressure to wear certain things, say certain things, and act in certain ways. Since we had already lost the game from the outset, there was no point in trying to keep playing it. And in hindsight, that was in many ways a great good. We were freer to do what we wanted, for no other reason than we wanted to do it. Ironically, now that gays are more “accepted,” there is an added expectation that we will conform to all other aspects of Georgetown culture. We left the closet just to get in line at Georgetown Cupcake. This is partially the fault of gay rhetoric: “We’re just like you!” “Our love is the same as yours!” “Gays are just as a good of parents as straight people!” Well, what if I don’t want to be just like you? What if I would prefer to remain as I was before, because you are boring, shallow, or inane? his is the larger problem with the asT similationist approach. It necessarily implies that intolerance—cruelly keeping peo-

ple from fully participating in the larger cultural life of whatever society—is the greatest evil, because we are all “equal.” Well, what if tolerance (which is still undoubtedly necessary) is not the only important quality in the world? It turns out that being gay or lesbian (or bisexual, or transgender, or intersex, etc.) is not that important of an identity category. We’re really just bodies fucking other bodies. And you can tolerate people all over the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and still be an overall bad person. The problem with Georgetown’s


approach to gay issues is that it is rooted in the assumption that gays want to be just like everyone else. Notice how this implicitly avoids any sort of self-reflection or criticism of ‘normal’ people. Should gay people want to be like everyone else? Now that it’s available, many gay people have taken this route of “escape” and done exactly that—become just like everyone around them. This is why equality is not, and never can be, the goal. I don’t want to be equal to you. I want to do as I please. I fear that we missed a great opportunity three years ago to make Georgetown a genuinely better place, instead of merely expanding the reach of the dominant campus culture. We didn’t make Georgetown any gayer. We’ve just made the gays more Georgetown-y. So how can we attempt to make up for lost time? We have to change our mindset in terms of the way diversity, and campus life in general, operate. The end goal is not to give others a chance to recreate themselves in our image, but rather to encourage people to pursue a variety of activities, styles, and interests. To do what they find genuinely pleasurable— as problematic of a concept as that is—rather than bowing to a herd instinct and simply doing what everyone else does. Only when we value people because they are deep, kind, bold, or interesting will we actually live in a diverse and improved campus. We have to find non-mimetic ways of being on the Hilltop. It is crucial to point out that these problems are not institutional, meaning they cannot be addressed by the staff and administration. They are student problems, caused by us. If anyone will make them better, it will be us. It is your (and my) responsibility. Until such a time, we really have done the gay community—and the Georgetown community as a whole­—no favors.

ON THE GROUND is a regular column about life at Georgetown. Email editor@ to submit your own, or comment on J.C.’s piece at COUNTERPOINTMAGAZINE.ORG.

APRIL 2011


Regulation as social justice

How the EPA’s new rules will protect the lower class while cutting costs


from a factory in New Jersey. New EPA standards would regulate emissions from industrial boilers. Photo used under Creative Commons from United Nations Photo


ith the discussion in Washington centered on budget cuts, it’s easy to forget the flip side of the libertarians’ coin: the costs of nonregulation. As the Environmental Protection Agency showed us late last month, these costs are serious, but solvable with flexibility and creativity. On February 21, the EPA released longawaited adjustments to new regulations on toxic pollutants—contaminants including, but not limited to, mercury, lead and dioxins—emitted from industrial boilers and incinerators. These new regulatory guidelines represent a compromise between industry and government that is all too rare in today’s political climate. The choice to reduce the regulations’ cost by 50 percent was largely political, coming off the back of an executive order in January requiring a review of environmental, health, financial and safety regulations to ensure the rules were not imposing too high a cost on American business. However, after a voluntary comment period that allowed the EPA to evaluate feedback from industry representatives and the public, the agency found that it could gain the same health benefits under the original guidelines while cutting the cost of the regulations in half. From an environmental standpoint, this is perhaps not the ideal conclusion to the regulatory saga that has been going on since 2007. At that time, the EPA received a court order mandating more stringent regulation of lethal emissions. Considering the opposition from both parties in


Congress and the possible consequences in terms of lost jobs—some estimates reached as high as 300,000—this outcome is a meaningful victory for environmental interests across the country. It shows that when regulators are serious about protecting their citizens and flexible in their approach, industry can be persuaded to compromise and reject a fully anti-regulatory stance. Owners of industrial boilers are by no means thrilled with the new regulations, but even they have welcomed the compromise. Based on the EPA’s estimates, the new rules will result in $10 to $24 of savings for every dollar spent on regulation. These costs, which would have been transferred to the public if the EPA had not stepped in, represent a classic externality of the industrial system. The organizations producing the deadly pollution that has harmed and killed Americans for decades have not paid the cost of spewing the toxic material into the atmosphere. More often than not, the costs of these externalities are borne by the neediest in society—those who cannot afford move away from the pollution. The added burden of industrial contaminants poses a further obstacle to economic mobility in our country. Put simply, it’s difficult to move up the socioeconomic ladder if you must deal with health issues and their associated costs due to the poisonous air around you. On a macroeconomic level, these new regulations will save the heathcare system from additional costs and increase the


quality of life for millions of Americans. Through the new rules, the EPA believes it can prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths by 2014 and avert 310,000 sick days per year, according to information provided by the EPA’s Senior Press Officer Cathy Milbourn. It would cost society billions more in healthcare costs and lost productivity to maintain the status quo than it would to implement the new regulations and protect citizens from toxic air pollutants. Despite this fact, regulations that protect health and quality of life are adamantly opposed by the “small government” voices in Congress. ith the EPA now taking steps to W curb toxic air emissions, unregulated greenhouse gases come to the forefront as the most important case illustrating the costs of non-regulation. Unfortunately, the costs associated with climate change are likely to be more severe than any other environmental problem due to the global effects of the phenomenon. The EPA has been moving to regulate greenhouse gases in response to a court order similar to the one that mandated a review of boiler and incinerator regulations. However, this time it was the Supreme Court that compelled the agency to take action. In the 2007 case Massachusetts v. EPA, the Bush administration argued against its responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The administration was rebuked in a 5-4 decision, in which the court upheld the


COMMENTARY agency’s responsibility under the Act to decide whether greenhouse gases are detrimental to human health and to regulate accordingly. In December 2009, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and her agency determined that these gases are harmful to humans and planned to limit the sources of their emission. Defending her conclusion last month in front of a hostile House Energy and Commerce Committee, she said, “Scientists at the thirteen federal agencies that make up the US Global Change Research Program have reported that climate change, due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases, poses significant risks to the well-being of the American public.” These dangers include rising sea levels that threaten coastal American communities, and a higher incidence of extreme weather events spanning from severe drought, to hurricanes, blizzards and flooding. Warmer average temperatures will encourage the spread of disease-causing pathogens and destructive invasive species usually killed off by colder weather. All citizens will experience higher food prices as the reliability and yield of yearly harvests decreases. Furthermore, countless recreation and leisure locations will be lost to ecological destruction. These effects will be especially harmful in large coastal cities and surrounding areas—the very communities experiencing the greatest population growth in the country today. Yet, Republicans on the committee denied the legality and practicality of regulating carbon emissions. Representative John Sullivan (R-OK) contended, “This hearing is not about science. It’s about the destructive economic impacts of the EPA trying to use the Clean Air Act for something it was never designed to do: regulate greenhouse gases.” Regrettably, Representative Sullivan completely ignored the Supreme Court’s

Initial estimate of compliance cost ($420,000)

Revised cost of compliance after public input ($2,200)



Apart from the bill’s brainless ignorance of accepted climate science, it would also cost the American public trillions of dollars more than the common-sense regulation of greenhouse gases that the EPA is trying to instate. In the same statement before the Energy and Commerce Committee, Ms. Jackson went on to say that by 2020, the benefits of the Clean Air Act, begun in 1990, “are projected to exceed the costs by a factor of more than 30 to 1.” It’s painfully obvious that allowing the EPA to do its job would provide substantially greater benefits to society than the costs incurred. What’s more, the EPA’s regulations have been exceedingly accommodating to business, to a greater extent than many environmentalists can comfortably stomach. In

Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committe, has proposed a bill that, in its own words, would “repeal” the scientific findings on climate change. ruling and its implications. According to the Supreme Court, the Clean Air Act is intended to regulate air pollution harmful to human health. The EPA, following the recommendations of the nation’s leading scientific societies and federal agencies, determined that greenhouse gases fit the mold of harmful pollution. Therefore, the agency is compelled to regulate greenhouse gases to protect citizens’ health and quality of life. Such action would be, by definition, exactly what the Clean Air Act is supposed to do. Setting aside questions of legality, the EPA’s responsible and obvious finding on greenhouse gases is also under attack from proposed legislation in Congress. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has proposed a bill that, in its own words, would “repeal” the scientific findings on climate change.


the words of Ms. Jackson, “Although the EPA has not yet published proposed standards [for greenhouse gases], I plan to base them on commercially available technologies with proven track records. The standards will reflect careful consideration of costs and incorporate as much compliance flexibility as possible.” As displayed in the EPA’s compromise over toxic emissions, the agency is interested not only in protecting human health and well-being, but also in protecting businesses from prohibitive costs and job losses as well. Both their rhetoric and their actions have backed up this stance. nfortunately, none of these conU cerns has been enough for conservatives in Congress. They have continued

to ignore the clear costs of non-regulation and wage war on the EPA—even as the agency is lenient on businesses that emit





500,000 Graph by Eric Pilch

A RADICAL SHIFT in compliance costs due to small

adjustments in the regulations allowed the EPA to achieve nearly the same environmental benefits. A similar proccess could be applied to carbon emissions standards.

pollutants en masse. Why? The answer is simple. Those affected most by the consequences of non-regulation are ill equipped to escape them. These aren’t the voters who put Republicans back in control of the House last year, and the members of Congress know it. As with lethal emissions of lead and mercury, the wealthy are able to escape the impact of global climate change, both in America and abroad. The middle and lower classes will not be so lucky. These constituencies don’t have the financial clout that would allow them to buy their way into government protection from externalities, like large business interests buy their way out of being responsible for them. And unless emissions are regulated, the poor will suffer from health and environmental problems they did very little to produce themselves. There is no better example of a time when the government is obligated to step in on behalf of its citizens. Conservatives would abdicate this responsibility to satiate big business interests. It has been shown time and time again through the legal and legislative wrangling over the proposed regulations that Republicans would prefer to spare their base and corporate donors of a small increase in environmental regulation, rather than save all of society billions of dollars, prevent countless deaths due to environmental contaminants, and improve the health and well-being of the entire populace. The majority of the public has little recourse from the effects of industrial contaminants and greenhouse gasses in the face of government inaction. The high minded in government are doing their best to protect the public. Let’s hope these legislators and officials choose to do right by all their citizens and recognize the overwhelming costs of environmental non-regulation.

APRIL 2011



The boys are alright Increasing hysterics over the plight of the modern man

ctress Katherine Heigl is making a career out of playing every good girl’s worst nightmare: the successful woman who cannot find a decent man. First, in “Knocked Up,” she played an entertainment news reporter, accidentally pregnant with Ben’s (Seth Rogen) child after a drunken one-night stand. Ben lives with his band of pothead friends who are all unemployed with plans to start a soft porn aggregation website. The movie poster features Rogen looking disheveled and bewildered, with the question across the top: “What if this guy got you pregnant?” After that film came “The Ugly Truth,” in which bad-boy male chauvinist television host Mike (Gerard Butler) teaches television producer Abby (Katherine Heigl) the “ugly truth” about what men really want—only to fall in love with her himself. In “Life as We Know It,” after a disastrous first date, Holly (Katherine Heigl) and Eric (Josh Duhamel) are given shared custody of a baby when their friends die in a car crash. The poster features Heigl chasing after the baby— and after Duhamel, who walks by in his underwear, taking a swig of beer. It’s the same story, repackaged again and again. Outrageously beautiful but neurotic woman meets immature, selfish man-boy. Through a sufficient amount of nagging and accidental charm, the man falls in love with her, gives up his boyish ways, and gets dragged across the finish line into adulthood and domesticity. Director Tom Dey was even less subtle in “Failure to Launch.” Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) needs his parents to actually hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker) to pretend to date him, help him develop a sense of independence, and finally “launch” him into the real world, at 35 years old. You can guess how the story ends. The movies may be trite, but the media is saturated with their messages. And journalists have taken notice. “Where have all the good men gone?” Kay S. Hymowitz recently asked in the Wall Street Journal, citing “Knocked Up” as evidence

one needs them anyway. There’s nothing they have to do. They might as well just have another beer.” And we’ve always heard that feminists hate men. t’s time to give men some credit. Men do I face serious, and different, problems in the modern age. But most of them are eco-

nomic. More 20-somethings—men and women— are moving back in with their parents. But they aren’t doing it because it’s the overwhelmingly cool thing to do. They’re doing it because we’re coming out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. More men than women have lost their jobs during the economic crisis. But the problem isn’t successful women taking jobs away from slacker men. It is an increasingly knowledgebased economy, which disadvantages traditionally male-dominated fields like manufacturing, construction, and similar jobs that emphasize strenuous manual labor. Meanwhile, according to the recent “Women in America” White House report, women as a group are still earning 75 cents to every man’s dollar. More women may graduate from college—the male-female ratio of college graduates is now 43 to 57 percent— but women still fail to advance to the highest rungs of most career ladders at proportionate rates. Now, attacks on teachers’ unions overwhelmingly affect women, who account for 70 percent of the education sector. In that sense, many of the problems facing 20-something men are economic, and their female counterparts are struggling with the same issues, in different ways. Our generation simply won’t have the same job security as our parents. Few workers will have generous pensions. We will change jobs, and careers, with more frequency. The privileged among us will have to take more unpaid internships. The less-privileged will reel from the effects of low-skill jobs shipped overseas. The best solution is to provide all youth with a path to higher education, which will be the ticket to success in our knowledge-based economy.

“Gender wars” assume that everything is a zero-sum game—if women are winning, men must be losing. that young men are discouraged from taking responsibility. (Hymowitz, a conservative writer, was promoting her subtly-titled new book: “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.”) Reihan Salam dubbed the economic crisis a “he-cession” in Foreign Policy. The Atlantic was more ominous: It is, actually, “The End of Men.” “Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does,” Hymowitz concluded. “Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men’s attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No


Since the 1970’s, wages haven’t been rising with productivity, so many families need two incomes just to make ends meet. Our generation couldn’t settle down and start families in our early 20s, even if we wanted to—we just can’t afford it. onservatives like Hymowitz will argue C that feminism has just gone too far. She laments that we’ve lost the “life script” that tells us what to do at each point in our development. “For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children,” Hymowitz writes in the Wall Street Journal. “If you followed the script, you became an adult, a temporary custodian of the social order until your own old age and demise.”


Hymowitz frets that the average age of marriage is rising, seeing this as a sign that men are delaying family and responsibility. If only we found the lost script, settled down, and forced men to assume their traditional responsibilities, then everything would be fine, Hymowitz says. This is, not coincidentally, how the man-boy problem is solved in Hollywood. But the way Hymowitz uses it, “script” is a nice euphemism for “rigidly-policed gender roles.” There’s a reason we threw out the old script. Today, many people wait longer to receive married because they want to get an education, start a career and achieve some level of economic stability before they assume the responsibilities that come with family life. People who wait longer to get married are less likely to get divorced. The Pew Research Center found that states with a high percentage of women married before 24 have an aboveaverage divorce rate. Well-educated parents are also more likely to raise children who succeed in school. Later marriages mean that both men and women have the freedom to explore their interests, talents and identity before committing to marriage. Hymowitz is mistaken to see this as a sign of immaturity. ooking at it another way, today’s L comedies celebrate the freedom of new young adulthood. The male characters

could be much less exaggerated, and young men today do lack respectable Hollywood role models with substantive goals. But to a certain extent, today’s male characters are realistically flawed, and their fears reflect the anxieties of a rapidly changing age. Men in comedies are exploring their bonds with each other, their sense of purpose, and their role in a world that does not define their role for them. That’s all positive. What we do need are more dynamic female characters. In too many movies today, women are only plot devices. Male characters are allowed to be lost and confused, only to slowly find their way. Female characters too often have a singular goal: find a man. In between finding and keeping a man, women are allowed to dress up and get drunk for the purpose of entertaining men. This relentless search for male attention is falsely sold as female empowerment. Instead, we need more female characters with substantive, independent goals that have nothing to do with finding a husband. We need a culture that gives women the license to do the same identity-searching men are allowed. Finally, if we actually value families, we’ll stop portraying marriage as an institution that fun-loving man-boys are tricked into by their nagging girlfriends. We will stop sending messages to young men that it’s “emasculating” to stay home with children or be involved in their lives. “Gender wars” assume that everything is a zero-sum game—if women are winning, men must be losing. When it comes to our marriages and our families, we should be working together. That doesn’t require returning to the old script, where men and women were forced into rigid gender roles before they were ready. But directors in Hollywood could consider rewriting some of their scripts, which sell both men and women far too short.



An accident of history

Washington D.C. disenfranchisement through the ages


riving along Pennsylvania Avenue, “America’s Main Street,” is a lesson in the development of the world’s oldest constitutional republic. The White House and Capitol, which bookend this grand boulevard, showcase the struggle of checks and balances. However, it’s hard to miss the ominous ticker that stands close to the White House. Every day, it counts up dollar-by-dollar the taxes D.C. residents have paid without a vote in Congress. Almost any American can tell you that the central drama of the War of Independence centered around the idea that the British imposed “taxation without representation” on North American colonies. But in a move that would become one of the great ironies of the American Revolution, the first U.S. Congress created a federal district whose residents would suffer just the same fate. The U.S. constitution calls for “representatives of the various states” in Congress, but D.C. was expressly created independent of the 13 states. Also, the constitution gives Congress complete authority over the federal district, which was just the kind of government the American patriots fought to avoid. The creation of this disenfranchised District of Columbia was an accident of history, a convergence of the interests between a skittish federal government concerned for its safety and a reticent South that wanted a capital close to its sphere of influence. There are ways to remedy this inconsistency, but there are no simple fixes to a problem that is more than 200 years in the making. n June 20, 1783, nearly 400 ContinenO tal Army soldiers protested at Independence Hall, then the seat of Congress, over

unpaid wages for service in the Revolutionary War. At the time, the national government had no standing army of its own under the Articles of Confederation. So when the mutineers arrived in Philadelphia, Congress had to beg the government of Pennsylvania for protection. The national legislature was forced to decamp to Princeton, New Jersey. After a shameful exile, Congress formed a committee to study the

idea of creating a “federal town” to secure its own safety. The committee recommended the creation of a district over which Congress would have exclusive jurisdiction. The proposal made its way into the U.S. Constitution as Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, also known as the District Clause. The measure, which comes near the end of a long list of delegated federal powers, calls for Congress “to exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.” James Madison defended the District Clause in Federalist No. 48 by cautioning that “a dependence … on the State comprehend-

“[Some fear that] senators elected from the District may be too liberal, too urban, too black, or too Democratic.”


ing the seat of Government for protection in this exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence.” He also addressed Pendleton’s worry that future citizens of the federal district would be disenfranchised by arguing that they would retain voting rights in the ceding states. In concluding, Madison promises, “a municipal Legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them.” As an extra safeguard, Alexander Hamilton, one of the delegates of the original Constitutional Convention, added an amendment guaranteeing that the residents of the new federal district would temporarily retain their old state citizenships for the purposes of voting, to gain full representation later. However, this language never made it into the final draft. Sure enough, when the District of Columbia was formally organized under the Organic Act of 1801, the residents of D.C., who had been previously represented by congressmen from Maryland and Virginia, formally lost congressional representation.


Washington D.C. City Hall tracks federal taxes paid by District residents.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Travlr


In 1800, D.C. had only 8,144 residents. By 1870, the population had grown to 131,700. The Civil War and the resulting increase in federal power raised the profile of the District of Columbia and made a more modern and efficient government necessary. The Organic Act of 1871, which created a single government for the District, called for a presidentially appointed governor and a bicameral legislature with local suffrage in the lower house and presidential appointees in the upper house. D.C. also had a non-voting delegate to Congress during this period. But when D.C.’s second governor, “Boss” Andrew Shepherd, went on a financially ruinous spending spree, Congress abolished this form of government. In the place of an elected legislature and congressional delegate,


the president would appoint a three-member Board of Commissioners. But the triumvirate that would rule Washington for almost a century to follow was not accountable to the people it served. Its only distributional requirement was that the Board be composed of one Democrat, one Republican, and one engineer of no specified party. While the Board was theoretically the local government of D.C., Congress regularly interfered with D.C. affairs through the District of Columbia committees in each chamber. Only the most marginal congressmen were appointed to what was viewed as an undistinguished committee. This attracted fringe elements from both parties, such as Chairman John McMillan (D-SC), a staunch segregationist who would rule the city through the 1960’s and early 1970’s. But greater sovereignty for the District would only come when D.C. residents actively campaigned in McMillan’s district to have him ousted from the head of the D.C. House Committee. After that, the D.C. Home Rule Charter sailed through Congress and was signed by the President in 1973. In 1974, the charter was put to the citizens of D.C. and overwhelmingly approved. However, the Home Rule charter provided neither voting representation in Congress, nor full sovereignty for the District of Columbia. Congress still has the privilege of vetoing any law the local government may propose, and D.C. only sends a nonvoting delegate to Congress. Efforts to expand D.C.’s voting rights came in 1978 with an amendment that would give the federal district representation as if it were a state. However, the amendment failed to be ratified by the requisite number of states prior to its expiration in 1985. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who co-sponsored the amendment, famously claimed that opposition “has seemed to arise from ... the fear that senators elected from the District may be too liberal, too urban, too black, or too Democratic.” then, D.C. has continued to lack votSince ing representation in Congress and has

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second governor of the District of Columbia, also known as the father of modern Washington. He bankrupted the city.



joins Mayor Adrian Fenty and D.C. Vote in lobbying Congress for a vote.

city, as devised by Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

Photos, from left, used under Wikipedia Commons from UpstateNYer, under Wikipedia Commons from Tneely, and under Creative Commons from KClvey

also suffered painful vacillations in its sovereignty. Throughout the 1990’s, Republicans refused to allow the District to pass progressive legislation that would have legalized domestic partnerships and medicinal marijuana. Also, from 1995 to 2001, a budget crisis prompted Congress to override the District’s home rule and require all laws to be submitted to a Congressionally-approved Budget and Control Board. Congress can similarly alter the terms of D.C.’s nominal sovereignty at any time. While 59 percent of D.C.’s revenue came from local taxes in 2001, monies collected by the D.C. government are treated as federal taxes and must be appropriated to the District by an act of Congress. Congressional Republicans, in particular, have used this requirement as an opportunity to pass so-called “budget riders” that stipulate how D.C. may spend its own revenue. The most recent batch of budget riders came with the Republican Revolution of 1996, when House Republicans managed to place restrictions preventing the implementation of D.C.’s medical marijuana, domestic partnership, and

here are four potential remedies for T D.C.’s current voting rights and sovereignty situation. D.C. could be returned to

Maryland, Congress could give D.C. the right to vote by legislative initiative, the non-federal portion of D.C. could be admitted as a state, or a constitutional amendment could grant D.C. residents additional rights without altering its status as a federal territory. In 1847, frustrated by a lack of development on its side of the Potomac, the portion of the District of Columbia ceded by Virginia successfully petitioned to be returned to that state. What’s left of D.C. is what was ceded by Maryland. Becoming a part of Maryland would give D.C. a vote in both houses of Congress, but the plan has only ever enjoyed limited debate in Congress and neither Maryland nor D.C. voters support the measure. Recent activism has centered on a legislative path to equal representation. In 2007, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act, which would give D.C. a single vote in the House of

But the triumvirate that would rule Washington for almost a century to follow was not accountable to the people it served. needle exchange programs. Also, Congress repeatedly threatened to weaken D.C.’s gun laws before D.C. v. Heller struck them down, and tried to abrogate the District’s traditionally liberal contraception and abortion laws. This subversion of the democratic voice of the people is unfair and, in the case of limiting anti-HIV initiatives such as needle exchanges, leads to severe consequences. When Democrats returned to the majority in the House in 2006, they repealed almost all of these riders, but there is nothing to prevent the new Republican majority from bringing back these undemocratic measures. Although it is apparently not so obvious for lawmakers, Americans who are informed on the issue demand that D.C.’s unjust situation be remedied. In 2005, D.C. Vote, an organization that pushes for D.C. voting rights in Congress, conducted a poll of around 1,000 adults from around the country. Only 18 percent correctly identified that D.C. does not have full voting rights in Congress, but 82 percent of those polled supported equal voting rights in the House and Senate.


Representatives. However, last-minute Republican amendments that threatened to abrogate D.C. gun laws caused the bill to die in the House. Even if the measure had passed, there are serious questions as to its constitutionality. On one hand, the Constitution only calls for the states to be represented in Congress. Others argue that the District Clause gives Congress the ability to extend representation to D.C.. In National Mutual Insurance v. Tidewater (1949), Congress ruled that the District Clause allowed Congress to extend state-like privileges to D.C. in entering lawsuits against parties from different jurisdictions, even though the Constitution only establishes this right for states. In the same manner, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) argues that Congress may extend voting rights to D.C. in the House of Representatives. However, incongruously, Hatch argues against representation in the Senate on the grounds that that the body was explicitly created to represent states. This bizarre reasoning seems disingenuous when one learns that


Utah, Hatch’s home state, would have gained a House seat as a result of the DCVRA, in a trade meant to placate Republicans. In the last decade, proposals for D.C. statehood have gained traction among local activists. All the candidates at a recent D.C. Council election forum supported the idea, and 59 percent of D.C. residents who participated in a recent Washington Post poll supported statehood. Most proposals call for a “rump” federal district around the White House and Capitol Complex, while the rest of D.C. would be admitted as the state of New Columbia. This would remedy D.C.’s voting rights problems by giving the District two Senators and a Representative in Congress. However, some believe Maryland would have to approve this decision because it ceded the land for D.C. It is unlikely that Republicans would get behind a proposal that would give solidly Democratic D.C. two votes in the Senate. The surest road to representation is a Constitutional Amendment that would give D.C. voting rights or would permanently alter its status, but this was unsuccessful in the 1980’s when it was first proposed. A more concerted effort on D.C.’s part might make the difference. Unfortunately, Congress also bars the D.C. government from spending money to advocate for D.C. voting rights or home rule. he road ahead for D.C. voting rights T is uncertain. A constitutional amendment and an act of Congress that would give

D.C. equal voting rights have both failed, and there is no indication that Republicans will allow New Columbia to become the 51st state any time soon. That said, D.C. residents have shown that they can overcome great hurdles. The fight for the present Home Rule Charter butted up against the likes of segregationist John McMillan. Home rule activists succeeded by going into his district and campaigning for their rights. Full District of Columbia voting rights and increased home rule are clearly the best possible remedies to the District’s unjust situation. However, the poisonous rhetoric and deal-making on Capitol Hill make it difficult for politicians to arrive at this obvious conclusion. Activists must therefore take the viable proposals of statehood and constitutional enfranchisement directly to the American people. Once they have been made aware of the situation, it is hard to imagine that a people raised on the legend of “taxation without representation” will do anything but oblige D.C.’s request.



The power of the purse

How culture wars have morphed into an assault on women’s health


fter a slew of new Republicans toted their socially conservative agendas to Washington last November, the House has become the legislative outlet for right-wing opposition to women’s reproductive rights. The pro-life movement’s assailments on abortion rights have often had far-reaching effects for basic reproductive health services. And in the current Congressional session, we’re witnessing this exact consequence. While these efforts demonstrate a patent disregard for the reproductive health and rights of all women, the provisions being pushed through the House are most detrimental to lower-income women and display a shocking lack of regard for their well-being. The opposition to women’s reproductive rights specifically targets Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides family planning services and education. Many of the measures also broadly attack women’s rights by imposing intolerable limits on the rights established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. efore Roe, abortions were only legal in a B handful of states. Elsewhere, the highly dangerous back-alley abortion was one of the few options for women who couldn’t afford to travel to another state or obtain a safer—but still illegal—underground abortion. By legalizing the practice, Roe moved the procedure from the dangerous realm of back-alley dealings to sterile operating rooms. Self-induced

These costs range from $350-$650 at an abortion clinic to $500-$700 at a physician’s office. Like most medical procedures, abortions are much more difficult to secure without insurance. For many Americans, these funding limitations would eliminate the pragmatic effects of the right to choose, rendering it a right in name only. eyond their disregard for women’s conB stitutionally-protected right to choose, current Congressional efforts also display an

alarming lack of concern for women’s overall health. H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act,” features a conscience clause that would allow public hospitals to deny a woman the right to an abortion even in cases of abuse and in highrisk pregnancies when the woman’s life is at stake. This legislation reflects twisted priorities that value the right of the unborn over that of the already living. Under this bill, it would not be unfathomable for a pregnant woman to die due to a physician’s unwillingness to perform a life-saving procedure. In another effort to eliminate reproductive health resources that overwhelmingly benefit low-income women, the House’s 2011 budget proposal would cut the $317 million allocation to Title X. This legislation is the only the only federal funding dedicated to family planning and was first signed into law by Richard Nixon as part of the Public Health Service Act of 1970.

Terminating Title X’s funding would do little to prevent abortions, but it would encourage unintended pregnancies by limiting the availability of birth control. abortions—such as the infamous coat hanger procedure—were largely replaced by professional medical operations. Doctors could then provide regular post-op care. Since 1973, however, social conservatives have attempted to stymie the right to choose that was granted by Roe, in many cases seeking to impose such stringent restrictions as to nearly eliminate it. Recent attempts to obstruct this right would disproportionately affect low-income women. H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would make permanent the provisions of the Hyde Amendment, which has been routinely attached as a rider to the federal budget since 1976, and which bars federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape and incest. The amendment is most inimical to lowerincome women who rely on Medicaid, as well as Native Americans and military women who are covered by federal health care. The provision would also render abortion less accessible for privately insured women, as it would impose tax penalties on anyone under a private insurance plan that covers abortion services. Without insurance, the cost of an abortion depends on factors like length of pregnancy, health of the mother, and any complications.


Because of the Hyde Amendment, no Title X funding is used for abortion services. Rather, the program funds family planning services, including contraception and associated counseling. Any private organization that receives Title X funding must also offer a range of sexual and reproductive health services that include cancer, STI, and HIV/ AIDS screenings; breast and pelvic exams; and testing for diabetes, high blood pressure, and anemia. The beneficiaries of these services are generally low-income, young, or uninsured, and most have never had a child. Of the women served by Title X-supported clinics, 60 percent live below poverty level, while only 21 percent are covered by Medicaid. Title X helps fill the coverage gap created by Medicaid’s rigid requirements and provides an invaluable social safety net that allows millions of women to prevent unintended pregnancies. While Title X’s history is littered with attempts to limit its scope, no previous Congress has dared to completely eliminate the program’s funding, which includes a $75 million allocation to Planned Parenthood. Conservatives have also rallied behind the Pence Amendment, which would termi-


nate an additional annual allocation of $330 million to Planned Parenthood and would bar the organization from receiving any federal funds in the future. By voting to erase Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, conservatives in Congress have demonstrated that their moral objections to abortion rights extend to the crippling of reproductive health services that overwhelmingly serve low-income women. Planned Parenthood provides women access to education and affordable birth control in addition to abortion services. Although abortions account for only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget, the organization’s provision of the procedure puts the group at odds with pro-life politicians. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood estimates that 1 in 4 U.S. women receive health care from the organization at some point in their lives. Many of their patrons are young or uninsured, and Planned Parenthood provides a myriad of health services, including cancer screenings, HIV/AIDS and STI tests, and mammograms. In many cases, these clinics offer the only accessible resources for women who cannot afford more expensive alternatives at private hospitals. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has decried the House’s budget proposal and the Pence Amendment as “the most dangerous legislative assault on women’s health in Planned Parenthood’s 95-year history.” The women who will feel the brunt of this assault are the low-income women who comprise the vast majority of Title X’s beneficiaries. hose who oppose awarding federal T funds to private organizations argue that these dollars free up private funds that

will then be used for abortions. This convoluted relationship is tenuous at best and over-represents the amount of private funding that is actually used for abortion services. Terminating Title X’s funding would do little to prevent abortions. Rather, it would encourage unintended pregnancies by limiting the availability of birth control and education. The Guttmacher Institute estimated that, in the absence of 2008 Title X funding, there would have been a third more unintended pregnancies and abortions. Preventing these unintended pregnancies saved taxpayers $3.4 billion in 2008—$3.74 for every dollar spend on contraceptive care. By defunding Title X, conservative Republicans will not accomplish their goal of limiting abortions. Instead, they are placing potentially lifesaving reproductive health services out of grasp for those who are not covered by private health insurance or Medicaid. The right’s opposition to abortion rights extends from contentious funding cuts to perennial efforts to limit abortion access out of existence. While efforts to extend these limitations have been ongoing since 1973, the legislative proposals during the current Congressional session display an unprecedented lack of regard for the health of women and their Constitutionally-protected right to choose in favor of dangerous ideology.

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Universal healthcare and social freedom

A Canadian’s perspective on the political philosophy driving the American healthcare debate


Photo used under Wikipedia Commons from Samuell


s a Canadian, observing the healthcare debate that took place in the United States over the past two years has been fascinating. Like nearly everyone of my generation, I have never paid for medical treatment in my life. My parents have never been concerned about cutting back on household expenses or cancelling vacations due to a medical procedure. Whenever the dinner table conversation turns to someone’s visit to a doctor or recent surgery, any good Canadian will invariably say, “I’m so thankful to live in this country where medical care is free.” Yet, for the first time last week, I received a bill for medical services—a strange experience for someone unaccustomed to this practice. Canada is often called the “51st state,” and in many respects, this is accurate. However, attitudes toward healthcare seem to place the two neighbors oceans apart. When comparing healthcare systems, the numbers don’t lie. Nations with public systems perform better and offer a more substantial return for their taxpayers’ investment. This begs the question: what is holding back the wealthiest and most advanced society on the planet from making the change that so many other nations have carried out so successfully? The fundamental problem is one of political culture. Both the failure and success of universal health care reform in the U.S. and Canada is due to subtle but important differences in the way each society perceives the role of the state. o understand the differences in the pubT lic discourse, it’s important to look at the different ways the two counties arrived at their

present systems of medical care. In Canada, a Baptist minister named Tommy Douglas introduced the concept of “socialized medicine.” Douglas became the Premier of the agricultural province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan politics in the 1950’s was dominated by the tradition of agrarian social populism—a powerful political movement at the time. Against staunch opposition from the medical community, Douglas passed legislation creating the first public, single-payer healthcare system of any province in Canada. After this regional success, the former preacher began making his way across the country advocating for socialized medicine on


a national scale. Prime Minister Lester Pearson allied quickly with Douglas, and together they pushed the Medical Care Act through Parliament in 1966. Only 18 years later in 1984, Parliament unanimously made any form of private health care illegal in the Canada Health Act, which remains the major framework for Canada’s socialized system today. Comparatively speaking, many of the arguments that defined the healthcare debates in 1960’s Canada and late-2000’s America were the same. Taxes, doctors’ pay, and quality of coverage were all discussed in both national debates. However, what obstructed debate and what will continue to hinder reform efforts in America is the more prevalent focus on bedrock issues. In the United States the debate is, regrettably, no longer about patient care or social wellbeing. Instead, the conversation is focused on buzzwords like “freedom,” “individualism,” and “socialism.” Conservatives in the United States have been able to frame the debate in terms of issues and ideas that are very powerful in the minds of American citizens. Often during the healthcare debate we heard Sarah Palin speak of “death panels” and argue that the President wanted to “take away our freedom” with socialized medicine. As a Canadian, it is hard for me to believe that constant insurance company involvement in the healthcare sector provides a deeper and truer “freedom” than the American system— where corporations seek to prevent patients from receiving care whenever possible. It is a great tragedy that the conservatives have managed to appropriate “freedom” as their turf in this debate, because the status quo is hardly a reflection of the term. or Canadians, these kinds of ideas don’t F bring us to our feet in the same way they do for Americans. The nation wasn’t borne out

of bloody struggles like to the one that forged the modern American identity firmly on the side of individualism. Canadian political scientist Gad Horowtiz had long argued that Canada retained a streak of classical British Toryism. Toryism as an ideology stresses the communal approach to governance, and stands in opposition to classical liberalism. As a result, social democracy found fertile


the father of Canadian universal healthcare, speaks to servicemembers.

ground in Canada, where many of the elite trace their roots back to the Tory loyalist migrations of the American Revolution. Horowitz says, “That Tory touch was the philosophic seed that permitted Canadian socialism to sprout.” The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—our Bill of Rights—aligns perfectly with this explanation for Canadian receptiveness to social programs. The Charter calls for “Liberty, Order, and Good Government.” It is significant that two-thirds of the triad is devoted to the pragmatic notions of a well-regulated state. The Canadian version of a pithy triad is clearly different from the American one. It points firmly towards a society that values pragmatism and sound governance above the ideals of classical liberalism that are so prominent in the American political sphere. After the long and drawn out debate that has stretched on in various forms for decades, the frustrated advocates for universal healthcare are certainly asking what can be done to realize their dream. Although political culture changes very slowly, the task is not insurmountable. Liberals to need focus less on statistics and complex arguments, and frame the debate in a different way. Anyone who glances at the numbers can see that a single-payer system offers taxpayers superior returns and maximizes social benefit. Progressives must do a better job making the case that a single-payer healthcare system is the mark of a modern and wealthy society, and is fundamentally compatible with American values. This latter point is demonstrated by the fact that public support for America’s truly socialized programs, Medicare and Medicaid, remains sky high. Part of this process involves progressives working to redefine “freedom” and change the way it is currently used in the political lexicon. “Freedom” from insurance networks would offer every citizen the ability to choose the physician they want. For Canadians, universal healthcare is an important part of our social freedom. To become a reality in the United States, liberals and progressives must change their messaging and firmly root their argument in the values all Americans cherish.





Building an alternative

The Latin American Board at Georgetown and abroad


here are three natural states in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a promotional video made in 2007 for Georgetown’s Global Competitiveness Leadership Program. The first of them is the mythical “El Dorado,” a female voice says in Spanish, as the video shows stunning images of forests, lakes, and beaches. Next comes a second state, characterized by the “vendors of dreams,” who use the “populist” promise of El Dorado to sustain their power. A series of images and videos glide across the screen: Bolivian President Evo Morales, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and ex-Argentine President Nestor Kirchner. El Dorado, and its “promises of a better tomorrow” have not yet arrived from the politicians who promise it. The music reaches a crescendo before we are introduced to the final natural state: the “desperation of the people.” The video explains that in this state there is “chaos” and “the ideologization of the region.” An image shows indigenous activists carrying a banner asking for “land and liberty.” The people are impoverished; there is unemployment, illiteracy, and infant mortality. Democracies are unstable. Citizens lack faith in the political system. Yet, there is still hope that the people will “wake up.” It’s only a matter of unleashing their ambition. That’s where Georgetown comes in. With White-Gravenor Hall in the background, former Spanish President José María Aznar appears on screen to tell us there are new leaders who can solve these monumental problems—and the Latin American Board’s Global Competitiveness Leadership Program is here to train them. The video’s abridged narrative of Latin American history appears to reduce the region’s immense structural problems to a singular failure to embrace the free market. It is a vision for development and governance that has the institutional support of Georgetown University’s Latin American Board, an organization founded in 2006 and chaired by Aznar. Like many other business schools across the country, the McDonough School of Business hosts certificate programs in addition to its more intensive degree programs. But under Aznar’s watch, Georgetown’s Latin American Board has been marked by an ideological slant in its operations and has generated an active alumni network, which makes it unlike any other certificate-granting program at the school.


he Board’s main activity T is the Global Competitiveness Leadership Program, which

brings 35 to 40 students from Spain, Portugal and Latin America to Georgetown for a four-month certificate program in “Global Leadership.” GCL aims to train future political, business and social leaders affecting change in Latin America. The program has brought in speakers such as the philosopher Francis Fukuyama, famously aggressive Cuban embargo-supporter Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R. FL), conservative Peruvian writer Álvaro Vargas Llosa, and Aznar himself. The program’s syllabus, guest speakers and visits suggest an aggressively pro-business vision of development and governance. It is a vision that hearkens back to the 1980’s and 1990’s, when nearly every government in the region looked to the Washington Consensus for guidance as they implemented policies of trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation on a massive scale. When a wave of progressive and centre-left reformist governments came to power, these policies were brought to a halt—in large part because politicians campaigned on promises to roll back unpopular neoliberal reforms. “There’s been a big break from traditional parties ... in Latin America. It’s been occurring in South America, but also Central America, where the traditional parties were discredited because of their systematic application of neoliberal policies,” said Alex Main, policy analyst at the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy and Research, who suggested that these policies remain quite unpopular to this day. “These traditional parties were swept off the map to a larger extent. And you had new movements gain power.” So while the kind of rhetoric employed by the Latin American Board—extolling the virtues of the free-market and its apparently selfevident links to liberty and democracy—may be commonplace in the United States, the Board’s talk about training future leaders in “competitiveness” is unquestionably directed at the current political situation in Latin America. In most cases, the preferred kinds of leaders are not in power. “We’re just trying to promote certain ideals— the importance of liberty and the importance of democracy. We’ve noticed there’s a lack of certain ideals in current leadership in Latin America,” GCL Academic Coordinator Diane Garza said. “[The GCL students] are already leaders. We


just want to polish them. How can we prepare them? Give them tools and knowledge, take them outside of their bubble and send them back.” ot every GCL alumnus becomes immediately involved in political activities upon returning. There are even a few who engage in social entreprenuership. But a disproportionate number have taken up leading roles in neoliberal think tanks in the region, many of which are affiliated with the Fundación para el Análisis de los Estudios Sociales, a think tank chaired by Aznar and funded by the Spanish Partido Popular. Others have created similar leadership programs based in Bolivia and Ecuador. Several Spanish GCL graduates from the program’s early years are now involved with FAES and the Partido Popular. Prominent graduates include the current PP international relations advisor, the current head of the secretary for international relations for the PP (who also serves as coordinator for the program of global issues for FAES), and a PP advisor in the lowerhouse of Spanish Parliament (who was president of iClass, the GCL alumni association, for 2009-10.) Pia Greene, a 2007 alumnus from Chile,


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is FAES coordinator for the country and also works at the neoliberal Fundación Libertad. Greene notably penned a piece for the Hispanic American Center for Economic Research entitled “To be or not to be pro Pinochet,” in which she concludes, “At the end of the day, Chile and the whole world learned that societies require the biggest dose of liberty to prosper: Pinochet’s government was not an exception, since they were the ones who planted the seed of a big success.” The article is accompanied by a video featuring a montage of photos of Pinochet set to Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Alejandro Barja, a 2007 alumnus from Bolivia, went on to found a replica of the GCL program in Bolivia—the Bolivian Foundation of Leadership for Global Competitiveness, or FUNBOLIDER—which aims to train leaders to build a nation that is “just, competitive, open to the markets and lives in harmony.” GCL graduates are also particularly involved in Ecuador. Pablo Arosemena, a 2008 alumnus and FAES coordinator for Ecuador, is now executive director of Fundación Ecuador Libre, a think tank which also employs several other Ecuadorian GCL graduates. The president of the foundation is Guillermo Lasso, a bank executive and executive board member of the Latin American Board. Arosemena initially agreed to do an interview and asked to see a list of sample questions, but then did not respond to an email that included a list of questions about the Board and its relationship to FAES and his foundation. Under the leadership of Lasso and other GCL alumni affiliated with the Fundación Ecuador Libre, Ecuador’s Competitiveness Leadership Program was first held in 2009. Students who apply are selected by the think tank to participate. he Latin American Board is ultimately T about magnifying and extending the Georgetown name in Latin America, accord-

ing to co-founder and Managing Director Ricardo Ernst. “I think Georgetown has a great opportunity of owning the Latin American region,” said Ernst, who is also deputy dean of the McDonough School of Business. “One of the challenges that [Georgetown President John] DeGioia [often talks about] is how do we make Georgetown a global university … We would argue that through the initiatives and the work of the Board, plus the GCL, plus the networks and all the things we are doing—we are helping to define what a global university is all about.” A loose alumni network called the Latin American Alliance had existed in the years prior to the Board’s inception in 2006, but Ernst said that he and Alberto Beeck, another member of the executive board, thought that the University should make a deeper investment in the region. When Aznar arrived at Georgetown, the three were able to pool to-


gether their resources and contacts to create the GCL program and assemble an impressive collection of business leaders to serve on the executive board. GCL’s mission calls for “a new generation of emerging leaders with the essential tools in order to promote competitiveness, progress, regional integration and the insertion of the region into the global agenda.” This year’s GCL program features students from 16 different countries spread across Latin America, Central America, and the Iberian Peninsula. In order to apply, GCL aspirants must be between 24 and 34 years old, residents of “Ibero-America,” speak English, and possess an undergraduate university degree. Felipe Dib, a GCL participant this year from Brazil, said that he noticed a certain ideological perspective to the program, but that it didn’t diminish its value. “It has a liberal aspect. A right side—if we have to say left, right, center,” Dib said. “We listen, we have to judge from that perspective. I agree with many points; I disagree with some.”

necessary to compete in a globalized market.” “In the beginning we had a lot of criticism. All these neoliberals …” Ernst said as his voice trailed off. “I said [to the critics] publish in it. Publish in it. If you have a paper that describes [a topic] with academic rigor, why would we not publish it?” The academic journal’s advisory board boasts an impressive array of high-profile names: five ex-Presidents from the 1990s and early 2000s (Aznar, Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, Vicente Fox from Mexico, Ricardo Lagos from Chile, and Andrés Pastrana Arango from Colombia), a former director of the International Monetary Fund (Rodrigo Rato) and the current president of the InterAmerican Development Bank (Luis Alberto Moreno). The editorial board is filled with a slew of well-known economists and regional experts as well. The first issue, released in 2007, also included Aznar’s “Latin American Agenda for Freedom,” which was also printed by his think tank and has become kind of mission statement of FAES in the region.

“[The GCL students] are already leaders. We just want to polish them. Give them the tools and knowledge and send them back.” The GCL syllabus benefits from its relative institutional free rein. As an advisory board to the Office of the President and the Provost, the Latin American Board is required to meet with the President and Provost only once a year. And because the Latin American Board is a certificate-granting program, the GCL syllabus is not reviewed in the same way as the syllabus of a typical degree-granting program at Georgetown. Provost James O’Donnell said that this is, in fact, a fairly common arrangement. For instance, Georgetown’s School for Continuing Studies grants certificates, not degrees. For the University’s many certificate-granting programs, responsibility for oversight and quality control lies with the faculty who administer it. In the case of GCL, this means Ernst, who along with Diane Garza effectively designs and approves the syllabus each year. Ernst emphasized that the GCL program is not ideologically biased, and stressed that he has brought GCL participants to meet the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian ambassadors in years past to challenge the students’ views. “Neoliberal, neoconservative, all this stuff … it’s a set of rules that people want to assign labels to them,” Ernst said. “At the end of the day, what do we believe? In freedom of expression, freedom of beliefs, and the fact that the market is very strong.” Of those three beliefs, one seems to stands out above the others in the mission statement of the Board’s academic journal, the Journal on Globalization, Competitiveness and Governability. The mission statement calls for a “re-conceptualization” of the State. In order to ensure integration into the global economy, its final paragraph reads in Spanish, “It is necessary to abandon protectionism and isolationism, and substitute them with processes of liberalization and deregulation.” And then even more bluntly, “In this context, the State renounces its primary role in the development of the country, limiting itself to establishing the appropriate bases so that economic agents can reach the levels of efficiency


“It’s a little bit naïve to pretend, well, I don’t have a philosophy, [that] I just move through the world without having one,” Ernst said. “I would argue that we believe in the Jesuit tradition of let’s have a debate, let’s talk about it ... We believe that by having a conversation with people who do not [agree with you], there is a possibility of you changing your view or you reinforcing your own belief. And that’s why we’re 100 percent open, 100 percent open to any type of conversation or discussion.” Fr. Dean Brackley, S.J., who is a professor of theology at the Universidad de Centroamerica in El Salvador—where he has taught since 1989, after volunteering to fill the position of one of the six Jesuits massacred by the rightwing military—remained unconvinced by this claim. “If the Board really embraces ‘debate and dialogue,’ they might broaden the participant field,” Brackley wrote in an e-mail. “Maybe they could invite President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who explicitly espouses Catholic social teaching. Maybe they could invite ex-President [of Honduras] Manuel Zelaya, presently in exile in the Dominican Republic. Maybe they could invite Nobel Peace Prize winners Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina or Rigoberta Menchú of Guatemala. They could invite any number of eloquent victims of human rights abuses in Latin America.” Fr. John Dear, S.J., a priest, activist and writer nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also disputed Ernst’s appropriation of Jesuit values. “I don’t know any Jesuit thing about being open for ‘debate,’” Dear wrote in an e-mail. “We are on the side of Jesus, who was against all oppression, poverty, war and empire.” he GCL program is split up into four T leadership modules—political, business, social and personal leadership—and the

syllabus is structured so that different weeks in the program are focused on one module at a time. Each module features lectures, presentations, speakers, and sometimes includes visits


FEATURE to institutions in Washington. This year’s participants have already toured Capitol Hill and met with a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They have also visited the Gallup Poll headquarters, the Brookings Institute, the Organization of American States, and the Pentagon. Visits to the State Department, the CATO Institute, and the National Democratic Institute—a conservative think tank based in Arlington, Va.—are planned. In addition to lectures related to each module, guest speakers come in to give non-academic lectures. Because the GCL program also focuses on “social leadership,” there are some notable exceptions to the standard fare of powerful business figures or right-wing political leaders. This year’s program, for instance, includes a visit from Felipe Vergara, the CEO of Lumni Inc., a company that offers scholarships to students in exchange for a percentage of their future income. But that isn’t to say that GCL shies away from speakers with a political agenda. In the first week, there were guest lectures from Orlando Gutierrez, professor and co-founder of the Directorio Democrático Cubano, an anti-Castro group, and Patricio Walker, a senator from the conservative Christian Democrat Party of Chile. There was also a guest lecture on “Personal Leadership” from Pedro Burelli, a Venezuelan oilman, investment banker, and fierce critic of President Chavez. Burelli colorfully recounted a conversation he had with Chavez as he was considering a run for the presidency. Burelli told the students Chavez was “absolutely devoid of any factual knowledge.” “That’s an incredible phenomenon—that this guy had nothing in his head,” Burelli said. “... [He is] completely irresponsible. He’s talking, making statements based on things that he had no clue [of]. And that, sad to say, is a very potent combination to win an election.” Burrelli added that the widespread support that propelled Chavez to power was a direct result of mismanagement by the previous administration. Aznar himself also delivered an address— but a photographer for Counterpoint was barred from entering because the former President’s security team did not authorize photos, according to Garza. The address was then deemed to be off-the-record for press. Another guest speaker was Pablo Casado, an up-and-coming star in Spain’s Partido Popular and personal advisor to Aznar. Casado, a former representative in the Madrid Assembly and current president of the Madrid branch of his party’s “Nuevas Generaciones” faction, is probably best known for a memorable address at his party’s 2008 convention. While Casado might seem like an odd choice next to the other higher profile names who visited the program, Ecuadorian journalist and sociologist Decio Machado wasn’t surprised at all by Casado’s presence. In fact, Machado said that Casado is emblematic of FAES’ larger strategy for training political leaders for Latin America. Machado, who helped found the Madridbased political newsmagazine Diagonal, argued that Aznar’s FAES has developed a political strategy in Latin America based on the Partido Popular’s dominance of the Madrid Assembly. Young, articulate, foreign-educated men and women with backgrounds in business, like Casado, have re-energized the party and come to comprise a majority of the representatives in Madrid. Machado said that FAES is trying to import


Photo by Eric Pilch

THE GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS LEADERSHIP PROGRAM brings in Latin American students for a four month certificate program.

this successful model to Latin America, where the organization is training a new generation of leaders to present a coherent alternative to the progressive or populist-leaning governments that hold power. “There’s a formation of new political cadres with a new ideological basis that is as much from the entrepreneurial world, the business world, as it is from the political world,” Machado said in Spanish. “What they’re doing strategically is [building] a new line of young neoliberals that can take up the old right.” fter years of operating self-sufficiently, A there seems to be a recent effort on behalf of the Board and for the GCL to engage more with the Georgetown community. “When I came in to work with this, it was at the point at which this was very much under the radar because nobody had taken the time, or had the vision to say, hey, let’s promote this,” Diane Garza said. Garza, who has been the GCL academic coordinator two years, said that she is now making a concerted effort to publicize the Board’s activities—in marked contrast to years past. Although publicized events used to be few and far between, Garza said she is now trying to coordinate an event this month with CLAS. Additionally, the Latin American Board and CLAS are also now sharing event calendars, and Ernst said that he was trying to coordinate a meeting with School of Foreign Service Dean Carol Lancaster, CLAS Acting Director Erick Langer, and other faculty who study Latin America. Langer declined to comment on specifics on the Latin American Board but said that he wanted to improve the relationship between both organizations. “When I started, one of my first efforts was to clear the air and get everybody on the same wavelength,” Langer said. “I’ve been working very hard to open things up and make sure we coordinate.”


Despite these small steps, there remains a remarkable lack of awareness of the Board’s presence and its activities among some of Georgetown’s most senior faculty in the government and Latin American studies departments. Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for Spanish and Portuguese Gwen Kirkpatrick said that she first learned of the Board when it was mentioned in a Latin American Studies executive committee meeting this year. Multiple faculty members said they were unfamiliar with the Board’s specific activities, but they expressed concern about the choice of speakers for the GCL program and its limited interactions with the rest of the University. They declined to speak on the record. This lack of familiarity with the Board stands in stark contrast to the way Ernst characterizes the relationship. “We have been trying from the very beginning to actually cooperate with them … our idea is, to what extent can we outreach and make this one voice for Latin America?” Ernst said. Kirkpatrick characterized the relationship differently. “This is not the face of the whole university in its relation to Latin America,” Kirkpatrick said. “There’s a whole dimension of research and teaching that goes on that isn’t reflected in it … There’s a whole lot of social justice and cultural exploration that’s done at Georgetown that’s not reflected here.” Joanne Rappaport, professor of anthropology, remains concerned about the Board’s lack of transparency—and suggested that the University’s “contents initiatives” should be aired in public and undergo the scrutiny of specialists. In the Board’s case, this means CLAS. “Such programs should not compete for limited funding and spaces … with regular academic programs such as Latin American Studies, which is what has happened with the Latin American Board,” Rappaport wrote in an e-mail. “As much as outreach is important at a university like Georgetown, these activities should not cut into or detract from the fundamental objectives of our university, which are academic in nature.” particularly telling example of the A Board’s institutional isolation is its reaction to a long-term community service

project led by Veronica Salles-Reese, associate professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department and director of the Latin American Studies Certificate. Salles-Reese’s project, the Georgetown Community Andean Education and Leadership Project, calls for greater University assistance to students who benefit from the Indigenous and Afro-Latino Scholarship Program. The IALS program, funded in part by Georgetown, finances educational opportunities at small universities in Latin America and community colleges in the United States for 80 students hailing from rural parts of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. SallesReese’s proposal aims to engage Georgetown undergraduates in the IALS students’ home communities once the scholarship students return, and calls for Georgetown to match up IALS students’ with NGOs in their countries so that they can implement projects in their communities. Salles-Reese also wants to establish a “buddy system” linking Georgetown undergraduates with IALS scholars, and

APRIL 2011



Photo cour tesy of FAES press room

wants financial support for IALS students to install water-purifying plants in their communities. Salles-Reese, who is taking an unpaid leave of absence to work on the project, said she had contacted Ernst and attempted to obtain financial support from the Board, but that he had never gotten back to her. “The students that come here to the Board are usually entrepreneurial, they are leaders, and they’re upper-class,” Salles-Reese said. “I presented [the proposal], but I have had no support. No answer. And I gave it to Ernst a long time ago when I started the project.” The Board’s lack of support for the project appears to contradict both the social leadership aspect of its GCL program and its efforts to work together more with the rest of the University. Ernst doesn’t see it that way. He said that he met with Salles-Reese and circulated the proposal among the executive board, but it didn’t receive enough support. “One thing [the board] is not is a bank,” he said. “It’s not a bank to finance any and every single proposal.” He added that the executive board is mostly focused on funding the scholarships for GCL students. The investment in GCL students is one that theoretically pays off long after the students complete the four-month program. GCL participants pledge that they will return to their home country to apply the

knowledge and experience obtained from the program—or the Board reserves the right to rescind the certificate. This pledge for students to return to their countries of origin is, in effect, at the heart of the Latin American Board project. “If at the end of the day, we want to change the region and make it more competitive … how can we do it if we take [only] 30 students a year? That’s too slow of a program, too slow of a process,” Ernst said. “That’s when we de-

is Honorary Chairman of the Latin American Board.

school students are able to take advantage of the tuition-free, academically superior public universities, forcing poorer students to pay the cost of a private university education. There are also graduates like Roberta Machado, who looked to a GCL graduate’s organization in Chile as a model to found CREA + Brazil, an organization that provides extracurricular activities to middle-school-aged kids. But the board also seems to expect something else from its “multiplier effect.” The 2011 GCL program hosts Felipe Algorta, a current Uruguayan parliamentarian of the conservative Partido Nacional, Carmen Iglesias, a Spanish member of FAES, and Victor Lopez Torrents, a member of the Partido Popular’s Nuevas Generaciones. In Ecuador, for instance, the “multiplier effect” has created a group of GCL alumni affiliated with the neoliberal Fundación Ecuador Libre, which could have very real political ramifications come the next presidential election in 2013. With President Correa’s opposition weak and fragmented, Ecuadorean journalist Decio Machado suggested that Guillermo Lasso, who is a Latin American Board member, executive president of Banco Guayaquíl, and president of the FAES-affiliated Fundación Ecuador Libre, could make for a strong dark-horse challenge from the right. There would certainly be no shortage of bureaucrats for his administration. “Lasso is surrounded not by the traditional

The multiplier effect, or the idea that alumni start up projects in their home country when they return, has resulted in the extensive network of GCL alumni.


cided, let’s multiply it and created the underlying principle of the multiplier effect.” The multiplier effect, or the idea that alumni start up projects in their home country when they return—to train “even more leaders” and “catalysts for change,” the website explains— has resulted in the extensive network of GCL alumni that exists today. t would be a vast oversimplification to asI sume that the Latin American Board is simply a political project of President Aznar.

There are GCL students this year like Felipe Dib, who wants to create an educational institute in his native Campo Grande to better train public school teachers. Dib wants to reverse what he called the “paradox” of the Brazilian educational system, in which wealthier private



FEATURE Photo cour tesy of Ricardo Ernst, Georgetown University website


is the Director of the Latin American Board progream at Georgetown.

politicians, but by a new generation of technocrats formed in this new line of young politicians with elite academic backgrounds who have studied at foreign universities,” Machado said in Spanish. “This new generation of conservatives is the strategy of FAES.” Machado argued that the influence of FAES is part of a growing trend in the region. Amid the backdrop of progressive or center-left governments rising to power and leaving traditional political parties in the dust, foreign think tanks and NGOs are playing an increasingly important role in rebuilding an alternative to the economic and social policies they see as backward, anti-competitive, and in some cases, anti-American. Of course, foreign think tanks and NGOs have long supported policy or regime change in Latin America. Greg Grandin, professor of Latin American history at New York University, pointed to the practice of “democracy promotion” carried out through groups like the National Endowment for Democracy, which receives funding from Congress. He highlighted that the political objectives of such groups are often couched in vague rhetoric that celebrates the virtues of freedom and democracy. “It’s using the rhetoric of the free market as proxy for freedom in general,” Grandin said. “It’s an ideological campaign to promote a definition of democracy as indistinguishable from free markets.” Grandin cited the failed 2002 coup against Chavez, the 2004 coup in Haiti, and the 2009 coup in Honduras as examples of foreign-funded groups helping to overthrow governments in the region. “[The coups] are really carried out by these NGOs that are funded through these democracy promotion networks. They’re unaccountable,” Grandin said. “They will fund another group and another group. It’s a way of creating parallel organizations that may remain inactive until they’re needed.”


Evo Morales blamed foreign-funded NGOs—and FAES specifically—for fueling the 2008 unrest in Bolivia, which stemmed from an internationally-condemned autonomy referendum in the natural gas-rich province of Santa Cruz. And in Venezuela, the Latin American Board has more than a few intimate connections to the opposition. Rosa Rodriguez, who served as associate director for the Board and academic coordinator for GCL from 2006 to early 2009, was also serving at the time as a representative to the United States for SUMATE, a self-described “pro-democracy non-governmental organization.” However, the group is widely referred to in the international press as an “opposition organization” and has received funding from the NED. Rodriguez, who is now an independent consultant and no longer works for SUMATE, writes on her LinkedIn resume that part of her job with SUMATE was to “develop strategic relationships with U.S. government officials and agencies.” She was also responsible for posting the 2007 promotional video online. Rodriguez initially agreed to answer questions by email only, but then did not respond to a list of questions sent to her. And on the executive board sits the powerful Gustavo Cisneros—a Venezuelan media mogul who was the wealthiest man in Latin America, according to a 2006 Forbes ranking. Cisneros’ political views are no secret, and neither is his backing of the failed coup in April 2002—so much so that Newsweek said Cisneros was “at the vortex of the whole mess.” His private television station Venevisión broadcasted a firmly anti-Chavez line in the days leading up to the coup, and he allegedly used his offices to host the interim government that fell after two days. Certainly, the Latin American Board has not engaged in anything resembling a coup since its inception. But the kinds of speakers


and visits that comprise the GCL program, the Board’s explicit objective of creating and training leaders who interact in a massive network of alumni with seemingly similar political views, and some members’ informal relationships with think tanks and FAES suggest that the Board is very serious about combating current political trends in the region—even if the political leadership component is not the only dimension of its flagship program. t the moment, the University appears A unconcerned about its support for what has developed into a much larger network of

individuals, organizations, and political connections. Provost James O’Donnell said that because GCL is ultimately a Georgetown program, the University expects the faculty who administer it to engage in quality control. He also emphasized that Georgetown is always sure to maintain its institutional oversight. “We are very careful that donors do not define or manage our academic program,” O’Donnell said. But this refers only to the GCL program. On its website, the Board advertises the leadership programs in Bolivia and Ecuador, which can and do pursue donors without the oversight of the University. The program in Bolivia displays the Georgetown name and logo on its website. O’Donnell said that these splinter programs have not come up in conversation. “The University is pleased with the work of the group and the input they provide regarding important issues related to Latin America,” University spokesperson Julie Bataille wrote in an email. “Georgetown is appreciative of President Aznar’s involvement and support.” Perhaps the University is unaware of the deeper irony—that exactly two hundred years after independence for most South American countries, the head of Georgetown’s Latin American Board is a Spaniard.

APRIL 2011



Bob Shrum

Bob Shrum, a 1965 graduate of Georgetown College, served as a speechwriter and campaign advisor to Democratic candidates for nearly 40 years. He is the author of No Excuses: Confessions of a Serial Campaigner and wrote Ted Kennedy’s famous address at the 1980 Democratic convention. Shrum now contributes a column to The Week and teaches at New York University. Interview conducted and transcribed by Eric Pilch. What stands out about your time at Georgetown as an undergraduate?

I spent a large portion of the four years involved in intercollegiate debate and was named the top debater in the country my senior year. It was in many ways the most powerful part of my education and had a big impact on my life ever since. [The University] was a smaller place than it is now, and it was a wonderful place to grow and to learn. It was more a college than a university at that time. The emphasis, I think, for most of the faculty, though not all of it, was more on teaching than on research, and I think I got an extraordinary education. In those days, the Philodemic Society both sponsored the intercollegiate debate team and conducted weekly debates. I was a constant participant in those weekly debates, and we were constantly debating public policy, the Kennedy Administration, politics.

The Philodemic Society is a very conservative group now.

I was asked to judge the American Medal Debate—I won the American Medal when I was in college—several years ago, and the topic was “Resolved: the ancients were superior to the moderns.” And I thought it was absurd. To me it wasn’t a serious debate about serious issues. I probably wouldn’t be very involved in today’s Philodemic as its presently constituted, but I would be involved in intercollegiate debate. We debated whether or not the compromise that president Kennedy had negotiated with the communists through Averill Harriman that neutralized Laos was the right policy or not. We debated civil rights. We debated the great issues that pressed in on upon that time and that were very much alive and on campus. Georgetown was, when I was there, a relatively conservative campus. But it was a stimulating, interesting environment, and you felt constantly close to what was happening because of the city you were in.

How would you diagnose the 2010 midterms for the Democrats? Did you see the outcome as inevitable?

I think the midterms were, more than anything else, a referendum on the economy. They were a rerun of what happened to Ronald Reagan at the other end of the ideological spectrum in 1982. People were frustrated with the level of unemployment and the apparent slowness of the recovery, and Democrats paid the price. We could have saved more seats if we had a message that went beyond just asking people whether they wanted to go forward or back, which seemed contentless and not very motivating. Frankly, a lot of people, when asked if they wanted to go back, didn’t necessarily want to go back to Bush. But they would have liked to go back to full employment, their house being worth more, their 401k being substantial and


whole. So I think that was the wrong question. We should have fundamentally posed a question about who was going to fight for the interests of ordinary working people in this country and who was going to fight for the elites.

Given your experience as a consultant, how would you rate the administration’s messaging and tactics thus far?

Well first, I’m not a consultant anymore. Now I teach at NYU, and I commentate and write about this stuff. I’m a big defender of the President. I think he’s achieved more legislatively than any progressive president in 50 years. The much-derided stimulus I think undoubtedly kept the country and the world from plunging into a second Great Depression. The mess [Obama] inherited from Bush was even worse than anyone thought at the beginning, so it’s taken longer to turn around. I have real disagreements with some of my progressive friends who believe he should have held out on a public options in the health care bill at all costs. The cost of that would have been no health care bill. The financial reform bill could have had some provisions that were stronger. I think Chris Dodd and Barney Frank who are decidedly progressive and people I admire did the very best job they could getting a bill that could pass through Congress working with the President. If you look at the sweep of what was done, it’s really considerable. Now we’re going to have a great battle because the Republicans want to undo as much of this as they can. I think they’re probably not opposed to closing down the federal government to try to get their way. They’re testing the waters now to see if they can come up with some explanation that blames the President for closing down the federal government. If they think they can pull it off, then I think they would actually dare the move. On the debt limit, you have these people from the Tea Party. And, actually, I think at the Tea Party meetings they must smoke something, because they actually believe that you could refuse to raise the federal debt limit and that would be a viable policy. Refusing to raise the federal debt limit, which Ronald Reagan did regularly by the way, would throw the full faith and credit of the government into doubt, probably cause a huge panic in financial markets, affect the value of everyone’s home and make ordinary financial transactions very difficult. It would be an insane policy. But you have people who want to do it.

Do you see the administration getting anywhere with the new Congress?

Look, the President has done the right thing in saying, “I’m ready to work with the Republicans.” Do they, for example, want to work on entitlements? The President has said he’s prepared to work with them on reforming corporate tax rates. So you could do that in return for closing


Photo used under Creative Commons from kenudigit

BOB SHRUM is enjoying retirement after 40 year career running campaigns for Democratic candidates.

loopholes and get a lower corporate tax rate. I think all those things are smart. Will they work? I don’t know, and I doubt it. But, on the other hand, there are a lot of people who doubted the president could ever pull off the deal he pulled off in December. Now Republicans are going to try to defund the federal government to the greatest extent possible. I’m cynical enough to think that they would actually welcome an economic stagnation or new downturn as a route to victory in 2012. There’s probably going to be, at some point, a very big battle.

You worked for Senator Ted Kennedy for years, including in 1980. Obviously President Reagan won the 1980 election, arguably shifting the perception of politics in this country. Given your vantage point as a former strategist, do you see any hope of a revitalized liberalism in the vein of Kennedy?

I certainly do but it depends on the course of the next two years. At this point in the Reagan administration, David Broder wrote a column writing off Reagan. He said, this is a failed presidency and we’ll think of it as kind of a 1.5 year period when Reaganism was tried and found wanting. Then the economy revived, and Reagan was reelected and he inaugurated a new conservative era. Obama was criticized for saying this during the campaign—I don’t know if you remember —that Reagan was a transformative president. Hillary Clinton tried to turn that into Obama saying he agreed with Reagan’s policies. That obviously wasn’t what he was saying, but it was true. So I think a lot of this depends on events, and I think there is a real chance, if the economy turns around and Obama is vindicated, that you will see a more progressive moment in America.

Do you have any desire to get back into the campaign world, or have you left that behind forever?

I think forty years was enough. It wasn’t quite forty years, but it was almost forty years, and I probably did it as long or longer than anybody else. It was a powerfully rewarding life in which I got paid for doing what I loved and what I deeply cared about. I can’t imagine a more ideal occupation than that. So I’m very happy with it. But I really enjoy teaching and I enjoy writing, so I’m retired, period.




Essays from the brink

THE MEMORY CHALET By Tony Judt (Penguin Group, Inc. $25.95)

From his deathbed, a historian reminisces


magine for a moment that you are completely immobilized, save for the ability to speak with some difficulty. Every movement you wish to make—from scratching the itch on your leg to readjusting your glasses—is not possible without the help of another. Now consider this predicament if you retained complete control over your mental faculties. This was the position of famed historian Tony Judt shortly before his death from ALS, more commonly called Lou Gherig’s disease. “The salient quality of this particular neurodegenerative disorder is that it leaves your mind clear to reflect upon past, present, and future, but steadily deprives you of any means of converting those reflections into words,” Judt writes. As a prolific communicator of ideas— Judt calls historians “philosophers teaching with illustrations”—this posed nearly an insurmountable challenge. Yet, Judt responded by constructing The Memory Chalet, a moving memoir of short reflections that usually address an idea or theme from his life. Each of the chapters was composed fully in Judt’s mind, often while lying sleeplessly at night, and then communicated verbally and transcribed. The resulting portrait reveals a man who not only had intimate involvement with momentous events of the twentieth century, but who would also come to be regarded a leading public intellectual on both sides of the Atlantic from his post at New York University. Like Christopher Hitchens’ celebrated memoir that provides firsthand accounts of the evening when Bill Clinton did not “inhale” at Oxford, Hitchens’ sheltering of Salman Rushdie after the Iranian fatwa, and Hitchens’ travels to Iraq with major architects of the invasion, Tony Judt seems to have a remarkable ability to be present at

Judt opens the essay with a description of his own budding relationship with a graduate student, thirty years his junior. This is buttressed by the cautionary tale of a tenure-track professor ruined by accusations of sexual harassment. Judt openly questions the decision to spend time with his student. But the initial anecdote is left hanging as he transitions to comment on the profound changes that resulted from the sexual revolution and their impact on romantic relationships. Then, in a bold and unexpected move, Judt returns to the opening scene of the essay, in a manner that is astonishing. “So how did I elude the harassment police, who surely were on my tail as I surreptitiously dated my bright-eyed ballerina?” he asks. “Reader: I married her.” Despite the shocking nature of Judt’s conclusion, the essay highlights his ability to effortlessly blend memoir and social commentary—a feat that makes the book a tremendously gratifying read. While each of the chapters of The Memory Chalet paints a picture from Judt’s life, one animating theme runs throughout the pages—namely, the author’s fervent belief in public goods and services and the erosion of their provision in both England and the United States over the past thirty years. Judt was born and raised in the aftermath of the Second World War, during the creation of the British welfare state. He recounts a fascination as a young boy with the London tube that serves as a vehicle to discuss the virtues of public transportation and the unfortunate privatization of the British railway system. Similar fondness is evoked for the more egalitarian British society of his youth, when rampant materialism was much less prevalent. The defense of social democracy became an animating theme of Judt’s work

“We never doubted there would be an interesting job for us and thus felt no need to fritter away our time with anything as degrading as ‘business school.’” TONY JUDT

major historical moments. As a young Zionist, Judt worked on a Kibbutz during the Six-Day War, although he would not give up the opportunity to study at Cambridge, as he was urged to do by Israeli settlers. While studying as an undergraduate, he would travel to Paris for the famous 1968 student protests. In later life, Judt learned Czech to cope with a failed marriage and mid-life crisis. This new skill allowed him to conduct seminars in the Soviet bloc, where he would befriend many of the dissident figures who liberated and led Eastern Europe in the 1990’s. Yet, the personal is illuminated along with the historical in The Memory Chalet. Many of the essays explore the fragility of human interactions, the nature of academic life, and Judt’s unending fascination with the United States, his final home. Among them is the brilliant “Girls, Girls, Girls.”


late in life—not the typical outcome for an academic who was hardy known outside the ranks of modern French historians in his younger years. His 2005 magnum opus Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 is considered to be not only a standard-setting book on the subject, but as literary critic Nikil Saval explained, can “be seen as one long paean to the construction of welfare states across Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II.” Toward the end of his life, Judt’s alarm about the total erosion of these institutions that protect the common good was articulated in both a compelling and increasingly public manner. The book lll Fares the Land, also composed as the effects of ALS ravaged Judt’s body, provides a bracing critique of the “overwhelmingly materialistic and selfish quality of modern life” and urges young people to focus on careers that serve the


Photo by Eric Pilch

public interest. This is a theme taken up in The Memory Chalet, as Judt reminisces about Kings College, Cambridge contemporaries who disproportionately worked in the arts, education, public service, and journalism—what he terms “the unprofitable end of the liberal professions.” In The Memory Chalet Judt writes, “Unlike young people today we never doubted that there would be an interesting job for us and thus felt no need to fritter away our time with anything as degrading as ‘business school.’” The power of Judt’s overarching critique, articulated in many forms, comes not only through the conventional focus on greed and inequality but in the distinctive way he ties these concerns to the health of society as a whole. Drawing on a plethora of comparative data in Ill Fares the Land—ranging from social mobility to the incidence of mental illness—he makes the case that the rightward turn in both England and the United States has led to profound consequences. “As recently as the 1970’s, the idea that the point of life was to get rich … would have been ridiculed: not only by capitalism’s traditional critics but also by many of its staunchest defenders,” he writes in Ill Fares the Land. As the profits of the modern economy have been channeled overwhelmingly to a privileged few and the public sector suffers from neglect, Judt’s warning from the verge of death should not be overlooked. The posthumously published collection of essays that became The Memory Chalet is a fitting tribute to a man overflowing with ideas, and serves as a testament to the power of his mind until the final moment his body failed.

APRIL 2011


In Donald, the joke falls flat As the “War on Terror” continues, Elliott and Martin miss the point


t’s a rough time for political humor. After 2008’s Democratic takeover, the burden of bitter stone-throwing has fallen to Republicans, whose attempts at dark humor are rarely funny and often veer into the uncomfortably violent. The Tea Party’s grassroots following has made it worthy of political jabs from the left, but even to libertarian sympathizers the jokes come too easy; there’s little humor in calling a group senile and extremist when those are simply proper descriptors. But then, who to take aim at? With Republicans back in the House, flaccid jokes on John Boehner’s name and skin tone have started to emerge, the weak results of rusty machinery. Until the GOP starts to do things worthy of disdain, however, the far wittier end of the political spectrum is at a want for suitable targets. And thus we’re left with things like Donald. According to the jacket, “Donald is a highwire allegory” exploring “what would happen if Donald Rumsfeld…[was] abducted at night from his Maryland home [and] held without charges in his own prison system.” Coauthored by Stephen Elliott and Eric Martin, respectively founder of and contributor to the progressive cult-crit webzine, The Rumpus, the novella is also published by the proudly independent McSweeney’s publishing house. That is to say: expect little nuance here. Which is not inherently problematic. The best satirists know that to give your target a fair shake is to undermine your own argument—this is the reason Stephen Colbert is a far more effective cultural critic than Jon Stewart. The bigger problem here lies in the timing. We’re five years removed from the end of Rumsfeld’s second tenure as U.S. Secretary of Defense. The joke’s gone stale. But Elliott and Martin push the joke nonetheless in Donald, even if the novella’s conceit seems like a tossed-off idea laughed about over dinner and then forgotten. When exploring specifics, the pair’s satire is expectedly hit-or-miss. Rumsfeld’s search for guidance

in the Qur’an—the only book he can get his hands on while in captivity—is delightfully ironic. Irony centered on showing Rumsfeld as sympathetic, however, shows the holes in the groupthink that produced Donald; it assumes too much. In order to find humor in a broken Rumsfeld’s outpouring of emotion, one must have already assumed him to be incapable of such emotions. As a meta-joke, the conceit works slightly better. The Darkness at Noon-esque exploration of a leader falling prey to his own system is well-presented here, even if it would have been more powerful five years ago. Although at times the authors leave Rumsfeld behind to simply explore the details of American military torture and interrogation, their protagonist’s voice frequently shines through. Elliott and Martin’s Rumsfeld is cold and calculating, with an all-knowingness that serves as a constant reminder of who is facing this torture. The presentation of torture and its psychological effects serves as the novel’s strongest feature. The detached, almost journalistic way with which they approach Donald’s torture is enlightening for those unaware of the practices in American detention camps. McSweeney’s brand of postmodernism—which strongly advocates the blurring of fiction and non-fiction—seems especially appropriate here. With no way of truly knowing what goes on in these high-clearance camps, well-researched fiction may be the best we can get. These psychological effects also show the novel’s sole impressive technical achievement. Rumsfeld’s descent into deliriousness delivers the requisite time manipulation and questions narrative reliability—not new tropes, by any means, but interesting ones. Outside of this, though, the novella is technically unfulfilling. Elliott and Martin’s prose is unremarkable, the clunky sort that gives the minimalism explored here a bad name. Structurally it is equally mundane—despite their connection to McSweeney’s, Elliott and Martin’s approach is decidedly unplayful, dry and chronological.

With no way of truly knowing what goes on in these high-clearance camps, well-researched fiction may be the best we can get.


continues to defend the tough policies he put into place.



DONALD By Eric Martin and Stephen Elliott (McSweeney’s Publishing $12.00)

Photo by Eric Pilch

This is because of the grave sincerity with which they approach the subject. For all the satire, Elliott and Martin are dreadfully serious about their disdain for Rumsfeld. And though it’s an understandable despisal, one has to wonder about the pair’s cardiovascular health. Such protracted, pent-up fury can’t possibly do them any good. It also leads to what is perhaps the book’s most important question, which the authors themselves probably did not mean to ask: why hasn’t this changed? Sure, it’s cute to see the framer of the highly-questionable “War on Terror” be (quite literally) beaten by his own system. But isn’t it a bigger concern that this system is still in place? Although Donald is a work of fiction, its world remains a real one, its occurrences not impossible. The passing of the torch from the Bush administration to the Obama administration has seen little more than a change in name for Rumsfeld’s war. There are, of course, excuses to be made for the new administration. And though some of them may make logical sense, there really is no excusing the continuation of a truly detestable addition to the American system. The mainstream left’s blind eye can be attributed to little more than fanboyism, supporting the team for simply being the team—the worst possible symptom of our two-party system. To be against anything Obama does, it seems, is to support Republicans—even if that means supporting his continuation of Republican policies. For a novella all about irony, then, Donald’s main accomplishment is rather ironic. By closely examining our nation’s system of torture and interrogation techniques, Elliott and Martin have brought up an understandable anger. They direct this anger at a past target, and the result is pedantic intellectual exercise—miles away from the activism we should encourage. Having fun at Donald Rumsfeld’s expense doesn’t change the fact that there are still innocents going through hell at the hands of America.


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