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The Arc of History is Long ...but it bends toward justice.
BAMA ’ S VICTORY , THE ELECTION OF
America’s first African-American President, is so overwhelmingly historic in nature that it is hard to take in, especially for the heroes of the civil rights movement. “When I heard last evening that Pennsylvania had gone for Barack Obama, I think I had an out-of-body experience,” Congressman John Lewis told MSNBC Tuesday night, “I jumped, and I shouted for joy. And my feet left the floor, and I just kept jumping. Something lifted me up, and I shed some tears. And I tell you, I have cried so much during the past few hours, I don’t think I have any tears left.” Rev. Jesse Jackson, who ran for President unsuccessfully in 1984 and ‘88, was also shown on cable news stations with tears in his eyes. For the last year and a half, everyone awaited the moment when America’s racist tendencies and legacy would crop up and squelch Obama’s Presidential ambitions, but that moment kept on not arriving. Obama’s victories demonstrated that white Americans would vote for a black candidate, first in the Iowa caucuses, where, Obama said last Friday, his “faith
in the American people was vindicated,” and then in other states across the country. A desire among African-American voters to avoid commitment to a potentially futile candidacy allowed Clinton a lead in the demographic until February of 2007, when, for the first time, a majority of African-Americans supported his primary campaign. As it became clear that Obama’s campaign was amounting to something more than another basically quixotic effort à la Sharpton and Jackson, African-Americans cautiously allowed themselves to hope. Obama’s black support continued to increase towards eventual near-unanimity. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been invoked in these historic months, and rightly so. In particular, one quote has cropped up again and again: “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” Obama’s election is the consummation of 400 years of struggle here in North America, and hundreds more years of struggle in Britain and Europe. It is impossible to think about the triumph of the Obama movement without also thinking about those years of sorrow, and
By SAM JACK about the countless numbers who lived and died without seeing so much as a ray of hope that injustice might end. And although this is a moment of catharsis for the Civil Rights movement, for the African-Americans and allies invested in the movement, and indeed for all of America, the long arc of history must still bend further. On the same day that Americans elected the first black president, they passed amendments to the state constitutions of Florida and Arizona banning gay marriage. In California, where the state Supreme Court had previously ruled for the recognition of same-sex marriages, Proposition 8 narrowly found a majority, and the step forward in California was reversed, though litigation is still ongoing. The result in California is particularly shocking. In a state where Obama won the Presidential election by a wide margin of 61 to 37 percent, Proposition 8 passed by 52.5 to 47.5 percent. This means that at least some voters who cast a ballot to put the first African-American in the White House simultaneously voted to approve a measure that is the moral equivalent of laws in this country that
The end of the conservative movement.
MERICA’S THIRTY-YEAR FLIRTATION WITH
conservatism is over. I realize this sounds like a strong statement. That’s because it is – and as uber-right-winger Grover Norquist pointed out on Harvard’s WHRB-FM Tuesday night, obituaries for conservatism have been written after every election for decades. But I contend that Tuesday’s results, taken in historical context, are especially persuasive: American politics are realigning away from the freakish, unnatural, destructive paradigm of the Reagan-Clinton-Bush era and back into their usual, characteristically progressive mode. It’s a great time to be a young liberal. Remember, conservatism as we understand it has been a brief and abnormal phenomenon. Prior to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, there hadn’t been a single government that we could identify as “conservative” on today’s terms; just look at the prior 50 years. FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, and Carter were all progressive Democrats to varying degrees, Eisenhower was a moderate who frequently repudiated the right wing, and Nixon (people forget this) ran a progressive administration that opened relations with Communist China, experimented with price controls in the domestic economy, founded the EPA and passed the Clean Air Act, and even made The Harvard Independent s 11.06.08
a push for universal health care. None of this is out of the ordinary in an American context; what’s out of the ordinary is Reagan’s experiment and the years of conservative wingnuttery that followed it. This was the work of a few Wall Street cowboys, who effectively browbeat the Congress and media into supporting their radical deregulationism, and underwrote it by harnessing the untapped power of the religious right. It appeared to be a successful experiment for a while — certainly its simplicity and lack of moral relativism made it wellsuited for campaign commercials and TV commentary — but as the left knew all along and as has become clear to everyone during the Bush years, conservatism just does not work as a governing philosophy. It is an inherently stupid ideology founded on inherently bad ideas, and there is no reason to think it’s coming back anytime soon. Now consider this week. On Tuesday Americans gave a strong mandate to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, a party that, under the leadership of Howard Dean, has moved boldly to the left in its policies and tone. The themes Democrats sketched out in 2006 — universal health care, fair taxes, keeping big business in line, social progressivism and pluralism, and realitybased foreign policy — were affirmed in 2008. We have overwhelmingly elected an
banned mixed-race marriages — laws that were definitively struck down in the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. Exit polls showed that AfricanAmericans supported Proposition 8 by a margin of 69 to 31 percent. That’s a result that is difficult to respond to, since AfricanAmericans certainly know something about government disenfranchisement. Although the northeastern states seem on track to enfranchise gay couples (Massachusetts and Connecticut have already done it), many other states are moving in the opposite direction. And with an incoming president who doesn’t support gay marriage, a Loving v. Virginia for gay people seems a long way off. But still, the “long arc of history” is bending; the same exit polls showed that voters under 30 supported equality by a margin of 67 to 31 percent. Another quote from Rev. King seems appropriate here: “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” Sam Jack ‘11 (sjack@fas) hopes that we’re ready for the new tasks.
By MARKUS KOLIC
unabashedly liberal government. But in historical context, the breaking of racial barriers aside, this isn’t a particularly big deal. Clear-eyed liberalism is just returning to its natural role as America’s governing consensus ideology, and it’s likely to remain there for some time to come. This sounds strange and implausible to us right now, but trust me, you’ll get used to it. I’m especially confident of that because the Republican Party is in a shambles right now. After a universally loathed presidency and two consecutive humiliating defeats, the GOP has no credible public voice going forward. The 2012 primary looks like it will be angry and chaotic; the loud and angry booing of Sarah Palin at McCain’s concession speech is just the first salvo of a brewing intraparty civil war. After all, Reagan’s Republican Party was never a natural governing coalition. It was an uneasy alliance of limousine-libertarian yuppies, embittered white xenophobes, and religious zealots. The GOP has always been held together with baling twine and duct tape. It likely would have collapsed much earlier were it not for the anomaly of 9/11 and the crude but effective tactics of Karl Rove. Now, out of power and lacking the firm leadership they need, the Republicans will probably just eat each other alive (of course, Democrats shouldn’t just celebrate this.
When your opponent’s ship is sinking, as the blogger Markos Moulitsas so often says, throw them an anchor). I don’t mean to sound too optimistic. There is work to be done, especially in beating back a Washington media that still fetishizes centrism and will take every opportunity to tell Democrats they’ve moved too far to the left, painting the entirely fictional picture of the “center-right nation” that is already filtering from Republican spin into mainstream analysis. The Obama administration will need to harness the energy of this election to make immediate, dramatic policy change — a plausible universal health care plan would be a great first step — and the grassroots organization Obama built will need to continue persuading Americans that their way, the progressive way, is the best one. Liberals’ worst enemy has rarely been conservatives. Rather, it has been their own caution and self-doubt. With luck, Barack Obama’s unique political skills will help Democrats overcome that problem and put the placid centrism of the Clinton years behind them. But it will happen, in all likelihood, in a new and exciting paradigm, and in an American political environment that exists largely without the cancer of conservatism on it. Markus Kolic '09 (mkolic@fas) posted the election night coverage on WHRB FM. email@example.com
A Time for Change 10 things the Republican Party must do to win in 2010 and beyond. By JEFFREY KWONG
STOP SULKING. ENOUGH WITH THE socialism jokes, and the mildly racist and bigoted comments about Obama. America is not dead and freedom is still alive and well. Democracy is like a pendulum. As high school AP Democracy teaches, it swings to the left once in a while. Obviously, losing hurts and there is no way to sugarcoat it. The most inclusive and moderate Republican on the national ticket in recent history lost and the Democrats have increased their margins in both the House and the Senate. But the Republican Party will rebuild and we need to heed John McCain’s words, “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating [Obama] but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger better country than we inherited.” At the end of the day the optimism and hope that we have as Americans are powerful forces we can use to rebuild this country and the Republican Party. 2. Rebuild and repackage the “Grand,” “Old” Party. First off, any party that has a monicker with the words “grand” and “old” needs repackaging. George Bush was called a “Brooks Brothers Republican” for a reason. But the fact is, for too long the Republican National Committee has been built on networks of lobbyists and K Street interests (interests that multiplied as the 8 years under Bush passed). It is time to refocus attention on the party outside the beltway; the 56,376,672 voters that went for McCain. We need more leaders that come out of working classes because they are the best spokespeople for the party. Our national leadership is already undergoing a major facelift but it’s still too hard to tell which way it will go. The House Republican leadership will be sacked. Adam Putnam, the photogenic Florida Republican and GOP Conference Chairman has already resigned his post effective November 5 and the Republican
Party has to make the choice: to lurch rightwards or lean towards the center. Signs are that the more right-wing element of the party led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, will take over Putnam’s position, which does not sit well with voters who backed McCain’s more maverick style. At the end of the day, the jumping off point is our common platform and agenda but we need more eloquent, more attractive, and dare I say it, more diverse spokespersons for the party. 3. Build coalitions. In the last four years alone, as president of the Republican Club and Right to Life, I have witnessed the transformation of the campus conservative movement into a more dynamic, diverse, and welcoming presence. Here on campus, conservatives are fighting for pregnancy and infant services on campus alongside Radcliffe Union of Students and the Women’s Center. We have co-sponsored events with BGLTSA, and this month, we have a political debate on LGBT issues and the roles conservatives are playing in battling homophobia and promoting equality. In the last year, the Republican Club has featured three anti-poverty speakers challenging conservatives on issues of social justice. Conservatives nationwide need to take this example and build ethnic, religious, cultural, and gender coalitions that deliver votes. It’s not about pandering; it’s about having an open door, reaching out and collaborating on common agendas. That is the key to winning at politics. 4 . S upport LGBT rights and equality. The 2008 CNN exit polls show Sen. John McCain received at least 1.3 million votes from gay and lesbian Americans or about 27% of the LGBT vote, an increase from 19% support for President Bush four years ago. As a gay Republican, I know that the Republican Party continues to be the home of some individuals with bigoted and homophobic views, but the party as a whole is increasingly accepting and embracing
LGBT issues. Surprisingly, at the 2008 Republican National Convention, more Republican delegates support recognition of same sex couples (49%) than do not (46%), and the Republican Party continues to attract the attention and votes of gay and lesbian voters in this country. Let’s stick with the values of Lincoln and make our big tent party open to gay and lesbian people that share the same dreams, values and hopes as all American families. 5. Emphasize fiscal conservatism and forget about Iowa and the ethanol subsidies. I am a Republican first and foremost because of fiscal issues. At the Harvard Republican Club, I found out that many members were not coming to meetings because they thought the club and party nationwide put too much emphasis on divisive social issues. We need to take the spotlight off social issues and highlight big-tent issues like the economy and fiscal spending. The Republican Party as a whole has lost its way when it comes to watching the deficit and cutting the budget. The deficit hawks like Susan Collins will play a formidable role in the near future to lead our party back to its ‘Econ 101’ basics — stopping spending and government crowd-out! 6. Speak to urban America. It is a fact of demography that the coasts will continue to serve as magnets for population growth. Our generation especially lives in a dynamic, energetic, and New Yorkcentric world that idolizes diversity and metropolitan culture. The Republican Party needs not only to maintain the suburban bases that hug our city centers but start an offensive to appeal to urban America. As a native San Franciscan, it is always amazing how “liberal, urban” voters still manage to vote with the GOP on various issues on the ballot. It’s because urban voters, like their rural counterparts are sensible. In 2008, SF voters supported a plan to reinstate the JROTC in high schools despite protests from peaceniks, rejected a measure to legalize prostitution,
and even said ‘no’ to a measure to invest in renewable energy and make the local electric company “city owned.” The Republican Party can appeal in big cities with a tough-on-crime agenda, a plan to cut property taxes and other fees, and emphasize school reform. The Democrats cannot be given an eternal free ride in the cities of America. 7. Change our world view. Americans are increasingly seeing themselves as a part of the global family. Alarmists have charged that younger generations are less and less patriotic, and Bill Bennett often cites a survey that found most college students do not consider American values superior to those of other cultures and nations. That should not be surprising but as Republicans, we need to be more aware of these sensitivities and embrace a more global outlook. Issues like climate change, free trade, and curbing human rights abuses in China and the Sudan immediately come to mind as good issues for the Republican Party to tackle. 8. Be intellectual and sharp with our ideas. Americans are smart and want truth in advertising. The Karl Rove tactics of utilizing divisive wedge issues need to suffer a painful death. My mother can smell bullshit in political ads from a mile away (and she is an English language learner) and so can the average nurse, busboy, or florist. Americans don’t just agree with Simon Cowell on American Idol because he’s mean — it’s because he is telling the truth! The same logic applies to American politics. We root for the common ideals of fair play and humility and know “truthiness” when we see, hear or feel it. Our collective ability to detect half-truths about a candidate’s alleged atheism or ties to a suburban hooker is amazingly honed and accurate. The Republican Party needs to be better than scare tactics and robocalls and embrace truth in advertising. We can use facts and figures to present our ideas. Americans are not afraid
CONTINUED ON PAGE 6 11.06.08 s The Harvard Independent
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness The LGBT community deserves to share in the American dream. By MARCO CHAN
S THE JOYOUS SCENES AND IDEALISTIC
proclamations that accompanied Obama’s win danced in my mind, I realized that I had never felt so American in my life. Never mind that I am a Portuguese-Canadian of Chinese origin, the hopeful eloquence of both presidential candidates had the same effect on me as it did on the other spirited revellers last night. Having grown up watching network feeds and reading textbooks imported from across the border, I am familiar with the notion that everyone can theoretically achieve the American Dream. I fell asleep in a giddy and surreal daze, feeling like perhaps this vision had finally been made concrete in the form of Obama’s victory. The next day started with radically different emotions as I remembered to check on results still streaming in from California. What I saw I did not want to acknowledge, and so I brushed the sleep from my eyes and furiously scoured more websites in hopes of finding contrary evidence. As I came to my senses and gained a clearer picture of the situation, I could not contain a painful sense of disappointment and dashed expectations. The President-elect had spoken of great possibilities and a shared dream for all Americans only last night, while he remarked on the power of democracy. This morning, I wondered where this shared American experience had gone. I discovered that California voters had chosen to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry by passing Proposition 8. On the same day voters made history by vaulting Obama over the racial glass ceiling, they decided to single out another group and tear away their fundamental right to marry. I empathized with the sense of betrayal that many LGBT Americans must have felt. The power of democracy seems to have worked in a The Harvard Independent s 11.06.08
regressive direction. Are the dreams and ideals that were outlined in Grant Park not to be shared with America’s gay and lesbian citizens? While the day was certainly a watershed for progressive voters, LGBT Americans suffered at the ballot boxes. In California, Florida, and Arizona,
Later in the day, emails started pouring in from the various queerrelated lists-servs, with many sharing my conflicted feelings. Some were more hopeful, and as more information flowed in, I gained a better perspective on the previous day’s electoral harvest. Though the No on Prop 8 campaign had
Are the dreams and ideals that were outlined in Grant Park not to be shared with America’s gay and lesbian citizens? voters deemed the affection and love of dedicated same-sex couples unfit for public recognition. In Arkansas, the electorate voted to prohibit gay and other unmarried couples from adopting or becoming foster parents, fundamentally questioning their capacity to love and care for the next generation. As I went about my day trudging from class to class, I exchanged bittersweet looks with queer friends while to some others I vented my disappointment. A part of me rejoiced with friends who linked Obama’s win with the history of civil rights in America, but another part remembered that 70% of AfricanAmericans voters supported Proposition 8, according to CNN’s exit polls. The irony of one marginalized group taking away the rights of another was too much.
yet to officially concede, preparations were already underway in California to overturn the proposition. Elsewhere, voters in Connecticut successfully defeated a ballot question that would have led to an opportunity to eliminate the right to marry for same-sex couples there. The trickle of information also pointed out that Jared Polis of Colorado became the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. Congress as a non-incumbent, to join Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank as the only LGBT Members of Congress. Also in the West, the openly bisexual Kate Brown became the first LGBT Secretary of State in the country and is now the second-highest ranking elected official in Oregon. Dozens of LGBT candidates at state, municipal, and judicial levels join their ranks as new and powerful voices of
American diversity. This, combined with the election of arguably one of the most queer-friendly presidential candidates ever, by late afternoon led me to think that perhaps the results did not paint such a grim picture of the road to true equality in America. As I started to write this, I realized that what I want to remember most is a jubilant and inclusive America with all citizens reveling in the kind of liberty and protection enshrined by the Constitution. The setbacks are painful, but now everyone that believes in an equal America needs to channel their frustrations into energy to champion democratic ideals in our every day lives. It is important to take heart in the progress we did achieve on Election Day, and to be inspired by the courage of LGBT trailblazers in the often hostile political world. It is important to be ready to support the political fight for equal employment benefits and increased legal protections against discrimination and violence. Politics aside, we need to transform today’s satisfaction into a genuine willingness to educate. We need to remember the strength of diversity as we encounter homophobia. Negativity will not change hearts, but care, kindness, and visibility as loving and responsible citizens will. LGBT Americans simply want to share in the same ideals and opportunities that all citizens aspire to, well outlined by the President-elect on the eve of his victory. Let us gather hope and remember his words on Election Night, “The true genius of America [is] that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.” Marco Chan '11 (mchan@fas) is co-chair of the BGLTSA. firstname.lastname@example.org
indy forum CHANGING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 of conservatism; they just want it presented in a way that is pragmatic and sensible. George W. Bush despite all the demagoguery surrounding him, especially in liberal circles, still rates high in terms of “authenticity” compared to most American presidents and leaders. We need a combination of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan’s personalities and a good dose of honest intellectualism. Common sense is not dead and the Republican Party needs to know how to be sensible in the way we market our ideas and people. 9. Think less economically and more spiritually. This seems contradictory especially given #5 above, but hear me out. Americans to this day admire George W. Bush for his work on PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief). When Michael Gerson came to the IOP to speak on PEPFAR, it was astounding how many in the room had teary eyes as Gerson recalled his trips accompanying President Bush to AIDS-ravaged African villages. We empathize with dying AIDS orphans. In the words of Michael Ignatieff, we abhor pain and torture because we as humans feel pain and understand pain. As a whole we appreciate the call for a higher power and a higher purpose. We are the largest charitable givers as private citizens in the world for a reason and that’s because it makes us feel good. As Republicans, we need to be more spiritual and compassionate in the way we create our policies and communicate our message. Increased funding for healthcare, education,
and the environment increases the credibility of Republicans and at the same time, there are market-friendly and market-responsive ways to achieve these “higher” goals. 10. Be excellent leaders and role models. When asked, “What are you doing for the Asian American community,” Secretary Elaine Chao told a group of Harvard Asian Americans at the IOP once that, “I am doing the best I can for the community by doing a good job.” She nailed it. Republicans need to do the same – the Ted Stevens and Mark Foleys of the GOP need to be kicked out of the party. Americans do look at leaders as role models and leaders need to be moral ethical, and good. Is that too much to ask for?
“I understand the Democrats’ argument that Sarah Palin is inexperienced. But when people bring out cultural prejudices against her, it’s a very hypocritical way of talking. I’m very impressed with her. It has been all of three months since she’s come out of Nowhere, Alaska onto the national stage. She has evolved from not carrying herself well in interviews to doing very well in the vice presidential debate. As a female, as a young woman in this society, I admire her. I really do.” — Katherine Cagen ’12
“It’s kind of an emotional release that it’s actually happening, that we can expect change in the near future. … Barack is an exceptional candidate. I think he’s going to rewrite the history books. It’s exciting to be a part of it.” — Ben Supple, Kennedy School of Government First-Year
In conclusion, in order to win in 2010 and beyond, Republicans need to continue to innovate and define ourselves in terms of America in the 21st century. We have gay marriage in two states, alternative fuels are now a necessity — not an innovation — and more Americans are finding themselves members of a global world with a global worldview. In order for conservatism to win again, we need to be better spokespersons for our movement and our party. Elections are always around the corner. Jeffrey Kwong ’09 is a Government and East Asian Studies concentrator in Winthrop House. He is President Emeritus of Harvard Republican Club and President Emeritus of Harvard Right to Life.
Voices From Election Night “People want one single solution and they want it now. When people have a microwave and TV dinner culture, it’s to be expected. … People are placing a lot of faith in the person of Barack Obama. You hear a lot of people talk about how Barack Obama is going to fix global warming, Barack Obama is going to fix the economy. I don’t remember there ever being a massive trend of the face of a political candidate on a t-shirt. No politician can do all that. Politics as a whole can’t do all that.” — Matt Cavadon ’11
11.06.08 s The Harvard Independent
Video Blogging with the Stars How Barack Obama ignited the most embarrassing celebrity trend since Uggs. By FRANCES MARTEL
GLARING LIGHT PIERCES THE COMPUTER
screen. A dark shadow appears, spinning like a pagan demon. The protagonist bursts onto the scene from the side of the makeshift cinematic tableau in a dramatic spiral Klaus Kinski would be proud of. And so begins a nauseating five-minute ordeal evoked by the legendary words “DIDDY OBAMA BLOG DIDDY OBAMA BLOG DIDDY OBAMA BLOG.” Diddy (also known as Sean Combs), the New York rapper famous for his turn of the century “Vote or Die” campaign, has made a personal mission of getting out the vote for Barack Obama. And yet he has done little in the way of television or even musical support for his candidate. He has not appeared much on talk shows or bought any airtime for his candidate. In his internet appeals he has even refused professional production aid for his videos. He may not be the only celebrity fired up enough to participate, but he is the most prominent in a phenomenon quite new to the extremely new medium that is internet video: do-it-yourself punditry with no publicists, record label executives, or miscellaneous top hats giving an opinion along the way. As members of the YouTube generation, most young people have become accustomed to celebrities spawned out of, essentially, thin air. People like Tay Zonday, Chris Crocker, and Sammy Stephens of “Montgomery Flea Market” fame have become household names exclusively through this medium. Even individuals significantly removed from our generation have benefited; Cuban-American YouTube pundit Jose Buergo and 80s pop star cum bemused punchline Rick “Rick Roll” Astley are examples. But the step from a celebrity-creating mechanism to a celebrity-soapbox mechanism may be a bridge too far for The Harvard Independent s 11.06.08
YouTube. Sure, anyone can make a web video, and that’s a large part of the site’s popularity, but not many people can call upon the resources of these celebrities. The star wattage celebrities add makes the surreal quality of the entire medium stand out even more. YouTube's now serves as a democratizing tool for creative sorts of all shapes and sizes, wallets and resources. So it's surprising when our celebrities choose YouTube as their platform for political statements instead of something a little less democratic. Like, say, a big studio film or platinum-selling album. But a lot of people contribute to big studio films and platinum selling albums. And YouTube must have the same appeal for celebrities that it holds for the rest of us: all it takes to enable a stream of hot celebrity political ranting is a webcam. Barack Obama has been the muse
of dozens of tiresomely earnest liberal Hollywood types. To quote Gabe Delahaye of Stereogum.com, “As much as I like Barack Obama, he really turns everyone into the fucking worst.” Not every celebrity needs Obama to come around “inspire” them to “enact the change we need.” Take the proto-Diddy Obama blog by German director Wim Wenders related to global warming. Wenders is famous for wasting about 30 years of the film world’s time with vacuous plots, nonexistent character development, and a lot of nondescript driving. He must have turned to YouTube and found the perfect venue with which to seal his legacy as a vapid, ambiguously anti-American intellectual. Wim Wenders goes on for about three minutes in one video about how wonderful it is not to have a car and receive tickets, despite the fact that the
bulk of his films depict people driving pointlessly in cars. Wenders' highly sought after opinions on micro- and macro-financing are also declaimed. I’ve never suffered from insomnia since the video came out. The blame for nightmarish political advocacy videos should probably not rest exclusively with the website, or the power of a political campaign. Rather, this phenomenon is created by the union of two very powerful critical masses: a user-friendly communication medium and a two-year-old emotional Twilight Zone of a presidential campaign. Celebrities who are sensitive to political issues and afflicted by liberal guilt have now found an escape mechanism easier than even drug abuse: the Internet. When their personal assistants look away, they can plug in the webcam and make gruesome career mistakes. Take John Taylor, for example, bassist and founding member of legendary 80s pop band Duran Duran. After more than 25 years of careful image development that required hours of meticulous preparation before appearing before a camera, YouTube gave Taylor an outlet to express himself in the raw: only him, his beloved bass, and a webcam. And what did the celebrity do with his five minutes of stolen time with a computer? Half-sing a political endorsement. Now that he’s got a direct line to the masses and a message we’re all told we can believe in, Taylor is golden for YouTube superstardom. And, once each of us cashes in on our fifteen minutes, we will be too. But if we want to catch up with Tay Zonday, we’d better turn on the webcams and start making fools of ourselves right this instant. Frances Martel '09 (fmartel@fas) wouldn't be caught dead in Uggs. email@example.com
A state-by-state breakdo Washington Ballot Question Initiative 1000 — Doctor-Assisted Suicide Allows doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill, competent, adult residents of state by self-administering lethal medication prescribed by a doctor. The person is required to have a predicted death in less than six months. Yes 1,045,625 59% No 736,591 41% Oregon Senate Race In Oregon, Democrat Jeff Merkley narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Gordon Smith to gain a seat for the Democratic Party in the next Senate. Merkley, a five-term state legislator, won 48% of the vote to Smith’s 47%, a difference of only 8,000 votes. Merkley’s win represents the first time in over 40 years that a Democrat has defeated a Republican incumbent in an Oregon U.S. Senate race. Merkley served as Speaker of the House in the Oregon State Legislature during the 2007 session.
South Dakota Ballot Question Initiative 11 — Abortion Prohibits all abortion unless the mother’s life or health is threatened. It is also prohibits abortion if a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest continues for more than 20 weeks. No 206,479 55% Yes 167,520 45%
California Ballot Questions Proposition 4 — Parental Notification of Abortions Requires physicians providing care to minors to notify guardians at least 48 hours in advance if a minor requires an abortion. It also requires a waiting period before the abortion can be performed, but does not require the parent’s consent to perform the abortion. No 5,143,165 52% Yes 4,751,583 48% Proposition 8 — Gay Marriage Amends the state constitution to ban gay marriage, states that only marriages between men and women are recognized, and overrides the earlier California Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriages. Gay rights advocates plan to take legal action to nullify the result. Yes 5,376,424 52% No 4,870,010 48%
Minnesota Senate Race Republican incumbent Norm C political commentator Al Franken battle in Minnesota’s Senate race. Franken by only 477 votes out state law requires a recount. Co who joined the Republicans in 19 former Senate seat in 2002. Frank on Saturday Night Live from 1975 has also written books such as Lie Tell Them. Each candidate polled a Barkley, a former Senator and Jesse 15% of the vote as an independent c
Nevada Presidential Vote Along with Colorado and New Mexico, Nevada was one of three Western states totaling 19 electoral votes which flipped to the Democratic column in 2008. The Democratic victory was due to growth in urban areas like Las Vegas, increasing Hispanic populations, and strong unions. Nevada went for Obama 55%-43%. Colorado Senate Race Democratic Rep. Mark Udall won Colorado's Senate election, defeating Republican Bob Schaffer by 52% to 43% or about 100,000 votes. Both men have logged service in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Schaffer lost a race for Colorado’s other senate seat in 2004. The two candidates were campaigning to replace Republican Sen. Wayne Allard who will retire at the end of this term. Udall served on the House Armed Services Committee and is a strong advocate for veterans' rights. Udall voted against the Iraq War in 2003 and backs Obama’s plan for a phased withdrawal. Colorado Ballot Question Amendment 46 — Affirmative Action Amends the state constitution to prohibit affirmative action, or the discrimination against and preferential treatment for any individual, group, ethnicity, or gender. No 993,555 50% Yes 979,517 50% Arizona Ballot Questions Proposition 102 — Gay Marriage Amends the state constitution to ban gay marriage and defines a marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Yes 1,040,633 56% No 801,892 44% Proposition 202 — Illegal Immigrant Employment Amends state constitution to prohibit employed illegal immigrants by revoking or suspending busines license of a person who knowingly hires an illegal immigrant. Also calls for fines for under the table wages. Yes 727,665 49% No 1,051,059 51% Alaska Senate Race The self-styled “coldest state with the hottest governor,” Alaska made waves for reasons other than Sarah Palin this year. Known for his stalwart defense of the Bridge to Nowhere (among other pork projects) and his famous description of the Internet as “a series of tubes,” Sen. Ted Stevens, the senior Republican in the Senate, made more headlines this summer: he was indicted and, on October 27, found guilty of failing to report gifts from lobbyists totaling over $250,000, a charge he denies. Despite the conviction, 46-year-old Mark Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage and potentially Alaska’s first Democratic Senator since 1981, found it difficult to take down the incumbent. At press time, Stevens led by less than 4,000 votes and the race was too close to call.
The 2008 Electoral College Vote
New Mexico Senate Race Democrat Rep. Tom Udall won the New Mexico Senate race, defeating Republican Rep. Steve Pearce 61% to 39%. Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, who previously held the seat, was New Mexico’s longest running senator. Udall’s victory marks the first time since 1973 that the State has sent two Democrats to the Senate since 1973. While serving in the House, he served on the Appropriations Committee as well as being the Co-Vice Chair of the House Native American Caucus.
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g the Map
own of how America voted. Michigan Ballot Questions Proposition 1 — Medical Marijuana Allows for medical use of marijuana that is limited to registered patients who have certain debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Hepatitis C, and epilepsy. Yes 3,005,678 63% No 1,792,497 37% Proposition 2 — Stem Cell Research Amends the state constitution to permit human embryonic stem cell research — with restrictions. The stem cells must have been created for fertility treatments and must be discarded if not used for research. There is also a stipulation that eggs cannot be used after 14 days of cell division. Yes 2,520,240 53% No 2,271,071 47%
Coleman and satirist and n are locked in a razor-thin . With Coleman leading of almost 2.9 million cast, oleman, a fiscal conservative 996, won Paul Wellstone’s ken, a writer and performer and 1980 and 1985 to 1995, es and the Lying Liars Who about 42% of the vote; Dean e Ventura associate, garnered Ohio Presidential Vote candidate. Home of Joe the Plumber, Ohio was a key state in George W. Bush’s victories in 2000 and 2004, but Democrats Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland won the gubernatorial and senatorial elections in 2006 amidst several scandals in the state GOP. Winning big margins in rust belt areas like Akron, Obama took Ohio 51%-47%. Indiana Presidential Vote Like Virginia, Indiana hasn’t gone blue since 1964, but economic anxieties and a nominee from a neighboring Midwestern state helped to swing the Hoosier State to the Democrats. Obama won it 50%-49%.
New Hampshire Senate Race In a race close to Harvard hearts due to the campaign legwork of dozens of students, former governor and Institute of Politics director Jeanne Shaheen defeated Sen. John E. Sununu in a rematch of the 2002 Senate campaign. Shaheen, a Democrat, served as New Hampshire’s governor from 1997 to 2003. Sununu attacked Shaheen on tax policy and cast himself as a moderate, but, like many incumbent Republicans, he was hampered by his ties to President Bush in a state which has been trending Democratic. Shaheen won, 52%-45%, becoming the first woman in American history to be elected both to a governorship and to the U.S. Senate.
Nebraska Ballot Question Initiative 424 — Affirmative Action Amends state constitution to end affirmative action by not discriminating against and refraining from giving preferential treatment to any individual, group, ethnicity, or gender. Yes 384,839 58% No 283,451 42% Massachusetts Ballot Question Question 1 — Income Tax Calls to cut the state personal income tax rate in half for 2009 and eliminate the state personal income tax starting in 2010. No 2,063,565 70% Yes 901,733 30% Missouri Presidential Vote Missouri is sometimes called a political bellwether – it’s gone 25 for 26 in picking presidential winners since 1904 – and indeed this central state is like the country in microcosm, with urban “coasts” (St. Louis and Kansas City) and a rural middle. Early Thursday morning the race was still too close to call, with McCain holding a 6,000-vote lead out of 3 million cast.
Virginia Senate Race & Presidential Vote The last Democratic presidential nominee Virginia voted for was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, but the growth of the D.C. suburbs has made Northern Virginia one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, shifting the state’s demographics. Called just after 11:00 Eastern time, Obama took the state 52%-47%. The Old Dominion’s Senate race featured a matchup between two former governors, Republican Jim Gilmore and Democrat Mark Warner, in a contest for the seat of retiring Republican Senator John Warner (no relation). Mark Warner, who had campaigned for the Senate in 1996, was the wire-towire leader in the race and Warner won by a 64%-34% margin. Nationally prominent, Warner was once seen as a presidential hopeful, but announced in 2006 that he would not run. He later delivered the keynote address at the 2008 DNC. In the Senate, Warner will join another freshman Democrat North Carolina Senate Race In a huge upset win for the Democratic Party, Democrat Kay Hagan defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina’s Senate race 53% to 44% or by about 350,000 votes. The historic win gives the Democrats control of a Senate seat that has been Republican for the last 35 years. This race marked the first time in history and the eighth time in national history that two women from major parties were running against each other for a senate seat. The 9% margin of defeat was the largest suffered by any incumbent senator in the 2008 election cycle. Georgia Senate Race The Peach State may be headed for a runoff election between incumbent Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Tim Martin. Chambliss, a conservative Republican, is a leader of the Gang of 10, which made a bipartisan proposal on energy policy in August. Martin is a Vietnam veteran, longtime state representative, and 2006 Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. At press time, with 99% of precincts reporting, Chambliss seemed to be agonizingly short of a majority, with 49.9% to Martin’s 46.7%, and Libertarian Allen Buckley’s 3.4%. The runoff, sure to attract national attention, would be held December 2.
Arkansas Initiative 1 Initiative will ban gay couples from adopting children. Yes 579,695 57% No 437,720 43%
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Florida Presidential Vote & Ballot Question Site of the 2000 recount, Florida has some electoral quirks on the demographic side as well with unusually high elderly, Jewish, and Cuban-American populations. McCain’s assets in the state included popular Governor Charlie Crist, but Obama managed to make up an early organizing deficit. Florida wasn’t called until late Tuesday night, but it went for Obama 51%-49%. Amendment 12 — Gay Marriage Amends the state constitution to ban gay marriage and defines a marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Yes 4,717,753 62% No 2,883,849 38% firstname.lastname@example.org
IOP ELECTION Photos by PATRICIA FLORESCU
11.06.08 s The Harvard Independent
LAME DUCK DAYS
President Bush makes plans for last days in office. By RACHAEL BECKER
HE INTENSE CAMPAIGNING OVER THE LAST
21 months, first in the primaries and then in the general election, pushed President Bush out of the spotlight, especially as more and more Americans lost confidence in his administration. Now that Sen. Obama has clinched the election, however, Bush does not plan on riding out his last few months relaxing at Camp David. The first event on Bush’s post–election calendar is a summit of the G–20 countries (The G–20 is a group of 19 of the world’s largest national economies, and the European Union). The summit, which will take place on November 15 in Washington D.C., will discuss the causes of the current economic crisis, what individual countries are doing to address the issue and which reforms should be put in place to prevent a similar economic meltdown in the future. So far neither John McCain nor Barack Obama has been invited to the discussion or the dinner that Bush is hosting the night before. White House press secretary Dana Perino said, “We don’t want to box
the next president in.” She also said that both men “were supportive of the idea” when they were told of it. In addition to addressing the current global economic issues, Bush will take steps to reshape his legacy in the Middle East in the months before Obama’s inauguration. According to White House officials, the Bush administration plans to reestablish a diplomatic presence in Iran, the first since Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The sources, who were quoted by the McClatchy Washington Bureau, spoke anonymously because the official announcement won’t be made until mid–November. The administration plans to establish a post to represent American interests in Iran that is not officially an embassy. The post would issue visas for travel to the U.S., and attempt to present a more favorable view of American culture and politics to the Iranian people. Iranian president Ahmadinejad told The New York Times in September, “I have announced before
that we will look at [a U.S. interests post in Iran] with a positive frame of mind,” but some other Iranian leaders such as Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki have not been as open to the idea. This new attitude towards the Middle Eastern nation is markedly different from the hard-line previously taken by Bush. In 2002, he named Iran one of the three countries in the “Axis of Evil” and had refused, until July of this year to engage in diplomatic talks with Iran about its use of nuclear power. The second major change Bush plans to make in the Middle East affects troop numbers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He recently announced that 8,000 troops would leave Iraq by March 2009 and would not be replaced. 4,500 other troops are to be transferred in order to help stabilize an increasingly volatile Afghanistan. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff came to these decisions on troop levels after receiving a report from General Petraeus, the top ranking military commander in Iraq, about the progress the U.S. is making
in the country. The report states that if Iraq continues to stablilize, troop levels should be reduced throughout the first six months of the upcoming year. President–elect Barack Obama has mixed feelings about the current president’s plan. He commended the president for “moving in the right direction” by increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. However, he also criticized the plan for not including a timetable, saying, “In the absence of a timetable to remove our combat brigades, we will continue to give Iraq’s leaders a blank check instead of pressing them to reconcile their differences … We will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion surplus.” Currently, there are 146,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and another 31,000 deployed in Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether Bush’s plans for the troops or his attempts to re–open diplomatic ties will change the way his legacy is construed after he leaves office on January 20, 2009.
Obama’s Plan Highlights from Obama's "Blueprint for Change." Compiled by RIVA RILEY
HE COMPLETE "BLUEPRINT FOR Change" Obama released during his campaign is more than 80 pages long. Here are some of the highlights. Obama plans to:
The Economy: - Provide "energy rebates" of $1,000 to American families by taxing the "windfal profits" of American oil companies. In addition, Obama will adjust the tax rates for 50 million workers to provide additional tax cuts for this group. Obama's plan result in a complete exemption from income tax for 10 million Americans. - Address the crisis in the housing market, by giving relief and provide information to homeowners; especially homeowners earning less than $50,000 per year. - Create a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank" to address the The Harvard Independent s 11.06.08
shortcomings of U.S. transportation infrastructure. The organization Obama proposes would be fueled by $60 billion dollars of federal money over a period of 10 years. Obama says that the bank would create more than two million jobs and would spur economic growth. - Emphasize the importance of increased economic regulation. Obama would give the Federal Reserve more power to oversee financial institutions and the Securities and Exchange Commission more power and responsibility to investigate federal agencies and market manipulation. The Healthcare System: - Increase regulation of the health care industry and introduce a public health plan. Obama plans to "rein in" the cost of healthcare and make it possible to obtain coverage regardless of any "pre-existing conditions."
- Reduce inefficiency by investing more in preventive medicine and public health policy and by increasing access to general practitioners, regular check-ups, and screenings. Education: - Reform No Child Left Behind. - Provide incentives to charter schools which follow federal guidelines for accountability and performance. - Institute tax credits to cover the full cost of community college tuition and approximately two thirds the cost of a state college tuition. - Institute "pay for performance" incentives for teachers,
Poverty: - Increase the minimum wage from $6.55 to $9.50 and give benefits to working parents and parents paying child support. Obama also plans to "strengthen families" by imposing more severe penalties on men and women avoiding childcare payments, by helping families with young children, and by giving workers more sick days. - Create "Promise Neighborhoods." This is a program Obama would like to install in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty and crime. "Promise Neighborhoods" would provide comprehensive services and education to families and children from birth straight through college. The program, based on the well-known and successful Harlem Children's Zone, would debut in 20 cities.
- Increase subsidies and incentives to students of education.
Songs for a New World
A playlist to commemorate eight years of George W. Bush.
By ANDREW COFFMAN
OBAMA’S VICTORY ON TUESDAY means one thing for sure: George W. Bush will no longer be president, barring some extra-Constitutional coup. To many, January 20, 2009 will be a joyous day, to dozens of others, a tragic one. To others still, it will mean nothing more than a new face to make fun of. I'm not passing judgment on any of these points of view. However, in anticipation of that day, and in the spirit of Election Day, I've created a playlist to celebrate, lampoon, criticize, and say goodbye to our nation’s most beloved (and only) president. ARACK
"It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue," by Bob Dylan The song rejects the folk/protest movement of the time, but it is perfectly legitimate to skew the song to fit a political agenda, and this is a practice that I intend to engage in liberally over the course of the rest of this list. This is a fairly brutal first track. Dylan scornfully sneers, “You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last/ But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast./Look out the saints are coming through/And it’s all over now, Baby Blue. The most obvious interpretation imagines the song addressed to Bush, who is here referred to by the belittling diminutive “Baby Blue." The song’s final lines (“Strike another match, start anew/ And it’s all over now, Baby Blue) raise an interesting question: where does Bush go
now? Back into business? Alcohol? A secret shadow government? In another sense, though, and this should be pleasing to the less liberallyinclined, the song can be interpreted as being addressed to an infantile Democrat (Baby Blue) who for the past eight years has smugly contented himself with easy Bush-bashing. All you haters, it’s time to get a new scapegoat. The Surge worked. “The Day That Never Comes,” by Metallica This one is pretty self-explanatory: “Waiting for the one/The day that never comes.” But January 20 is coming all right. The 70 percent of Americans who disapprove of Bush need not fret. To paraphrase the song, the sun (though not the son, I emphasize) will shine. This I swear. “Call On Me,” by Eric Prydz An anthem of proletarian uprising which repeats the politically charged line “call on me” over and over, this song works as a vicious attack on the failed policies and politics of the Bush Administration and is a perfect introduction to an Obama presidency. The music video also makes me want to start doing aerobics. “Let’s Impeach the President,” by Neil Young Too bad for Neil Young, but it’s getting a little late to impeach Bush. Still, he has to be happy that we no longer have to worry
about filing impeachment proceedings and all the messy paperwork and politicking. Also, once Bush leaves office, this song will be completely irrelevant, so let’s get our fill of it while we can. “The Good Life,” by Weezer On this classic track from the band 1996 release Pinkerton, Rivers Cuomo bemoans his frustration with the past eight years and expresses his eagerness for a return to the party lifestyle of the Clinton years: “It’s time I got back/And I don’t even know how I got off the track.” It’s clear that Cuomo is a disillusioned former Bush supporter: “Excuse the bitchin’/I shouldn’t complain/…Everything I want/Is taken away from me/But who do I got to blame/Nobody but me.” Perhaps he initially voted for Bush expecting the former party boy’s antics to carry over into the White House, but instead, all Bush brought was boring-oldman material, such as wars and breaches of civil liberties. Cuomo, and really anybody in his right mind, would much prefer the carefree, licentious days of Clinton: “And I don’t wanna be an old man anymore/It’s been a year or two since I was out on the floor/ Shakin’ booty making sweet love all the night/It’s time I got back to the good life.” We can only hope for an Obama sex scandal, and then let the good times roll! “Breaking the Law,” by Judas Priest
This one’s too easy. Illegal wiretaps? Torture? Making war on false premises? Yes, George Bush has broken the law, but let’s give the man some slack and recall his reminder that being President is indeed tough work. Rob Halford takes Bush’s own perspective: “You don’t know what its like, you don’t have a clue/If you did you’d find yourselves doing the same thing too!” Once you become President, you’ll understand just how hard it is to resist lying to the public in order to make wars for empire! “Capitol G,” by Nine Inch Nails “I pushed the button and elected him to office and/He pushed the button and he dropped the bomb.” Wait, I don’t see what this one has to do with George Bush… “One More Time,” by Daft Punk Well, the Bush Administration sure was fun while it lasted, but alas, everything must come to an end at some point (except the War in Iraq). Now it’s time for a new, fresh take on the Presidency. That means four more years of the same kind of the failed big-government, imperialist policies that have led us into a deep financial crisis and a never-ending global war — and I’ve never been more excited! This calls for a dance party. Cue the Daft Punk! Andrew Coffman ’12 (acoffman@fas) has donated his byline to get out the vote for Steve Papadopoulos.
A Myopic Biopic
W. is a sad commentary on American politics.
N THE MIDST OF A HEATED REELECTION
campaign in 2004, President George W. Bush offered the American people these words: “The true history of my administration will be written 50 years from now, and you and I will not be around to see it.” Given that a disastrous war and the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression have unfolded under Bush’s watch, it seems unlikely that history will vindicate the forty-third president of the United States. Still, Bush had a point: his presidency has not yet come to a close (though the end is very, very near). For this reason, Oliver Stone’s biopic of Bush, W., comes too soon; it is a film doomed to irrelevance, and strikes me as a simplistic portrayal of a man who will stand in the history books as a president who transformed life in America and America’s image around the world. W. chronicles Bush’s journey from drunken frat boy to Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Bush parties in Texas bars, runs to Daddy for help in a sticky
situation, meets his wife Laura (Elizabeth Banks), runs for governor of Texas, and experiences a religious rebirth. Flashbacks to Bush’s formative years are interspersed with scenes of the conception and early stages of the war in Iraq. The film focuses on the relationship between Bush (Josh Brolin) and his father, former President George H.W. Bush (James Cromwell). Stone suggests that “Dubya” was driven to run for public office by a desire to surpass the accomplishments of his father (as well as that aforementioned call from God). Brolin does a credible job at impersonating Bush’s swagger, and Cromwell is masterful as a disappointed, stoic father. Centering the narrative of W. around the relationship of the two President Bushes is a compelling choice in some ways, as it provides the film with a clear focus (and the audience with an easy way to understand the inferiority complex hiding under Dubya’s cowboy hat). Still, this approach is ultimately unsatisfying. There is nothing about Bush’s campaign for president. Nothing about the contested
By CAROLINE CORBITT
results of the 2000 election. Nothing about September 11. According to W., the central crisis of Bush’s presidency has been the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq (it turns out that Daddy’s advisors exaggerated the evidence that Saddam Hussein was sitting on a nuclear arsenal). Obviously, the scope of W. was limited by the time that it takes to make and distribute a film. It could not have encompassed the fallout over the market crash or the way that Bush’s influence has dwindled as Barack Obama’s star has risen, though both of these events will no doubt be important parts of the “true history” of the Bush administration. And so we’re left with the question of why Stone chose to make W. now, rather than waiting. Given that the release of the film was timed three weeks before the November 4 election, the answer seems obvious: he wanted to shock the world and sell a whole lot of tickets while anti-Bush sentiment among many Americans was at an all-time high. Thus far, W. has been a box office flop, taking in only a modest $20 million.
Considering that the election is now behind us, whatever buzz has been generated over the film is likely to die down. Bush is depicted more sympathetically than many liberals would probably prefer. He is a well-intentioned pawn in the game of Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss) and Karl Rove (Toby Jones). Scenes of Bush adrift in a baseball field reinforce the image of a pitiable, clueless figure. Republicans and Democrats alike can object to a trend the film epitomizes: the perversion of politics into entertainment. Regardless of how much you personally respect Bush, the release of a Hollywood movie about our current leader strikes me as disrespectful to the office of the presidency. W. is an interesting portrayal of Bush’s first term in office and his relationship with his father. But as commentary on the legacy of the forty-third president of the United States, it is about as thoughtful as Joe the Plumber. Caroline Corbitt '09 (corbitt@fas) doesn't care to listen to Joe the Plumber. 11.06.08 s The Harvard Independent
PRO VS. COLLEGE FOOTBALL Different ways to play the same game. By ANDREW RIST
between college football and pro football is that college football is played on Saturdays and pro football is played on Sundays. Of course now they also play college football on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday nights, and the NFL network has expanded pro coverage to Thursday and Saturday nights, complicating everything for everyone everywhere. There are, however, subtler differences in regulations, talent, and strategy, and I want to run through them for you. So if you happen to be watching TV on a Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday night, run across a football game, and want to know what level they are playing on, here is a very roundabout way figuring it out; a way that is a lot more interesting than looking at the names of the teams and figuring it out from there. The first difference is the most obvious — the rules. NFL receivers are required to get two feet down in bounds after a catch, while college players only need one foot down. The pros get twominute warnings when there are two minutes left in each half, while colleges let the clock stop for a few seconds after a first down. These differences aren’t really the interesting part of the equation. The interesting parts are parts two and three. To the interesting parts: The skill level in the NFL is much more evenly distributed. There are 32 teams in the NFL, versus 119 teams in Division 1A. There are 65 teams in BCS conferences, which, let’s face it, is where most of the good players go, and while NFL players can play for ten or fifteen years in the league, college players only play in college for four (and the best ones don’t even play that long). So only The Harvard Independent s
the best of the best get to go from the college ranks to the pros. All this results in smaller gaps in talent across teams. To put it another way, where a college defense will h a v e s ome players that are great playmakers and others that are glorified placeholders, a pro defense will have nine or ten defenders that can make big plays, and one or two that have to be covered up. Because of this situation, strategies at the two levels tends to diverge. College offenses are often geared towards exploiting weaknesses by making all eleven defenders do their job.
The various permutations of the option are designed to exploit the uneven distribution of talent across college defenses, since each defender has an assignment, and the defense will fail if the right player fails. The play that most college teams run now in one form or another is built to spread out defenders and find that one advantageous matchup to exploit. This is why college defenses blitz so much. Blitzes attempt to exploit the same uneven distribution of talent for the offense, and if blitzing works, it neutralizes any concern over disadvantageous match-ups. It sounds like college kids have all the fun, and there’s a large body of evidence
to suggest just that. College kids get to run the spread, the option, and the spread option while throwing for 500 yards a game. The NFL has a different approach to game strategy. On offense, you’ll often see a “run to setup the pass” approach, in which teams try to limit risk by pushing the ground game until they’ve pulled the safeties close enough to throw over the top for the big gain. Consequently, Mike Martz’s wide-open offense is what passes for creativity in the NFL. Where college offenses try to make every defender play their role to perfection, pro offenses look to develop as many weapons as possible in order to force a defense to “pick their poison.” In the pro game, conservative defenses that blitz sparingly are common. This is why there is such a high premium set on fast defensive ends that can help to pressure the quarterback without a blitz. Bill Parcells was a great innovator for discovering that he could play a 3-4 defense, blitz one of his linebackers every play and still keep seven defenders in coverage. Pro defenses don’t worry as much as collegiate defenses about their weaknesses and instead like to sit back and defend the whole field. This dichotomy has interesting ramifications over the course of a football game. A lot more chances are taken in a college game, and more chances leads to more exciting plays. Pro games often lead to tense finishes. There are advantages on either style, but luckily no one has to choose. As I pointed out to start this article, college football is played on Saturdays and pro football on Sundays—or something like that. Andrew Rist ’09 (arist@fas) is a great innovator for knowing the difference between Saturday and Sunday. email@example.com
Two in a Row for the Big Three? Evaluating the Celtics' chances as repeat champions. By ALEXANDER W. MARCUS
CELTICS’ CHANCES OF repeating as NBA champions? The online sports book tradesports.com puts the Celtics’ chances at about 18 percent, which seems roughly in line with conventional wisdom. But given the sporting success of the past few years, optimism runs wild in New England, so it is worth taking a closer look to see if conventional wisdom is selling the Celtics short. Since the NBA-ABA merger, 9 out of 31 NBA champions have repeated the subsequent year. This would seem to indicate that the Celtics have a significantly better shot at the title (29 percent, in fact) than they have been given credit for. Even more encouraging for Celtics fans is the fact that 6 other NBA champions went on to reach the finals the following year, meaning that a full 48 percent of teams at least made it to the finals the year after a championship. On the other hand, 6 of the 9 repeats came from coach Phil Jackson’s 3 threepeats, two with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 90s, and the most recent with the Lakers at the beginning of the decade. Removing these dynasties from the sample leaves the Celtics with scantier odds of 3 out of 22, which translates to a 14 percent chance. From this angle it appears as if the conventional wisdom is perhaps a bit too optimistic. At this point, it is worth digging a little deeper and quantifying just what sort of champions the Celtics were. The Celtics won 66 games last year, sixth most among the 32 NBA champions in our sample. Of the 5 teams that won more games, 4 went on to repeat as champions the following year, with the lone unsuccessful campaign belonging to the Boston Celtics of 1986, who fell to the Lakers in the 1987 Finals. This was no ordinary Lakers team, either; the Lakers would repeat as champions the following year, and in fact reached 9 of 12 NBA Finals from 1980-1991. From this vantage point, the Celtics’ chances of repeating appear to be quite good. Furthermore, despite the advancing age of the Big Three (Paul Pierce,
HAT ARE THE
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are 31, 32 and 33, respectively), the 2008 Celtics were actually a relatively young team among NBA champions. The team had an average starters’ age (weighted by minutes played) of 27.8, just below the average among NBA championship teams of 28.4. Of the 9 repeat champions, only the Chicago Bulls of 1991 and 1992 were younger; it appears as though age only slows teams down inasmuch as a team’s players are not championship-caliber. Good, old teams can (and often do) win titles.
registering with an estimate of 49 percent. While these forecasts might seem at first blush to be quite rosy, it’s useful to see where they are coming from. Although repeats are rather infrequent events, repeats come in bunches and are born out of dynasties. The 2008 Celtics won a phenomenal 66 games, which places them right in the middle of this elite group of repeat champions. One response to this argues that the Celtics are no dynasty, but this is an ex-ante judgment of an ex-post designation: how
How many would have looked at the Bulls in 1991 and pronounced them 6-time champions, while at the same time telling Larry Bird in 1986 that he would never win another title? Using the statistical techniques of probit and linear regression, we can make the previous observations more precise. It is useful to include a dummy variable to control for the Bulls of 1998, since they are the only team that did not attempt to repeat. Instead, management tore down the team and assembled a new one that won a pitiful lockout-adjusted 41 fewer games the following year, a drop-off more than 3 times greater than the second-largest drop-off. A linear regression estimates that the Celtics have a whopping 46 percent chance of repeating, while a probit regression is even more optimistic,
many would have looked at the Bulls in 1991 and pronounced them 6-time champions, while at the same time telling Larry Bird in 1986 that he would never win another title? For those who see the glass as halfempty, however, there is still reason to be optimistic. Although Celtics fans should be confident that their team has a fair shot at repeating, 2009 is likely to be a much more difficult road for the Celtics than was 2008. Good, old teams have had great postseason success, but they have seen their regular season fortunes somewhat diminished. Once again removing the 1998 Bulls
from the sample, we see that on average, championship teams win 3 fewer games than they did the previous year. Returning once more to the technique of linear regression, we see that the Celtics can expect to win a whopping 6 fewer games than they did last year. Still, this is nowhere near as bearish a forecast as that on tradesports.com, which estimates a regression of 12 fewer wins. To put this in historical perspective, other than the 1999 Bulls only the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers have suffered a worse subsequent campaign, and even then, only barely (13 fewer wins). Additionally, the bare fact that the Celtics will most likely win fewer games is no reason for immediate concern: the 9 repeat champions won on average about 4.5 fewer games than they had the year before. At this point, we can conclude by characterizing the teams that tend to repeat as NBA champions. These teams tend to be rather old and very good (as measured in wins). They also tend to regress markedly in the subsequent regular season — yet they still find significant postseason success. Perhaps this is the effect of coaches resting these old but “battle-tested” teams during the regular season. I, for one, would not mind seeing Paul Pierce spend a little more time on the bench in the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead. So does this mean the Celtics will be NBA champions again this year? Nobody can know for sure, but they certainly have all the ingredients necessary for a repeat. What about a recipe for a dynasty? I would not go that far, but Celtics fans still have reason to be thankful. Things could be much worse – they could be rooting for the Clippers. Alexander Marcus ’09 (awmarcus@fas) is the co-president of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, an undergraduate g ro up dedi ca t ed t o a nsweri ng t he interesting questions of sports with statistics, economics, and anything else that is useful. Check out their blog at hcs. harvard.edu/~hsac/Blog. 11.06.08 s The Harvard Independen
to the indy's new executive board
Production Manager Candice Smith
Associate Arts Editor
Associate Graphics Editor
Associate Business Manager
A Fond Farewell Reflecting on three years at the Indy.
T SEEMS LIKE ONLY YESTERDAY THAT WE
stepped in to take the reins of the Indy. Last November, we, young and idealistic, came into the roles of President and Editor-in-Chief with bold visions for the organization. We wanted to professionalize the Indy, grow its finances, and build upon its student-driven legacy and entrepreneurial flavor — and we did. This past year, our staff has produced consistently strong content, captivating graphics, and solid ad sales. But it wasn’t always easy. We can’t forget those sleepy Wednesday nights in our freezing corner office, seeing the sun rise as we walked back to Leverett, Dunster, and Quincy from the Quad. Burned into our memory are those 4 am calls to Kevin, our somewhat judgmental The Harvard Independent s 11.06.08
but still beloved representative at our printer. And what could be more memorable than spending one’s birthday at a five-hour letter-stuffing marathon as we worked to get our annual fundraising mailing out before the holidays? Yet, through stressful production nights, graduate board meetings, and recruitment drives, we somehow survived. We emerged not only unscathed, but more importantly, with the assurance of having made our mark on this publication — and having made lifelong friends in the process. We have had the privilege of working with a diverse group of writers, designers, and business personnel who bring their own visions for the organization to every story they write, every graphic they
draw, and every financial strategy they develop. We cannot begin to describe how proud we are of the Indy. Since freshman year, we have collectively seen the business, content, and design sides of the publication. We have seen how each section brings to the paper its own quirks and talents, creating an alternative weekly that evolves each week to reflect the undergraduate perspective. Each Thursday, we bounced ideas off of every member of our Executive Board and saw our labor materialize into 16 pages dropped in every doorbox on campus. The Indy has been a highlight of our college experience, a time that will color our Harvard memories for quite some time. We leave with every confidence in
the incoming executive board, especially our successors, Diana and Sam. But it is strange and sad to bid farewell to a publication that we have seen through thick and thin for so much of our college careers. Then again, we might never leave. We may just be in denial, but watch out Indy class of 2030 — with luck, we might just be the ones scrutinizing your progress at Fall Grad Board. Sincerely, Edward Chen, Sally Rinehart, and Caroline Corbitt The Indy will miss Edward Chen (chen31@fas), Sally Rinehart (rinehart@ fas), and Caroline (corbitt@fas) too. firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPTURED & SHOT