A publication of the JOHNS HOPKINS Political Review EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Will Denton, Hannah Holliday MANAGING EDITOR Alex Clearfield ASSISTANT EDITORS Randy Bell, Jeremy Orloff, Matt Varvaro LAYOUT EDITORS Ana Giraldo-Wingler, Victoria Scordato
STAFF WRITERS Julia Allen, Colette Andrei, Megan Augustine, Michael Bodner, Rachel Cohen, Virgil Doyle, Eric Feinberg, Cary Glynn, Anna Kochut, Chloe Reichel, Daniel Roettger, Ari Schaffer FACULTY ADVISOR Steven R. David
VOLUME XI, ISSUE I MARCH 12th, 2012
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
WEEK IN REVIEW Super Tuesday
Murders in Afghanistan Threaten US Mission
Romney wins six of ten primaries on March 6th. Santorum takes North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Gingrich carries his home state of Georgia. Ohio proves to be the closest call, with less than one percentage point separating Romney and Santorum. Taken as a whole, the day is seen as a predictable showing of Romney’s strength but is by no means a decisive defeat. The delegate math continues to look extremely favorable for the former Massachusetts Governor.
On Sunday, an American soldier killed 16 Afghan civilians in an unprovoked attack, nine of whom were children. The soldier, a Staff Seargant was part of village stabilization efforts. The attack comes in the midst of a debate over America’s future and longterm goals in Afghanistan.
Putin Reelected After a four year hiatus from the office of President, during which time he served as Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin is once again elected to Russia’s highest office. While his control over Russian policy has never been in doubt, the legitimacy of this most recent election has been called into question with reports of ballot stuffing.
James Q. Wilson Dies The political scientist known for the practical application of his “broken windows” theory of criminology is dead at the age of 80. Hopkins Professor Steven M. Teles, eulogized Wilson for the Washington Monthly online.
Sandra Fluke Controversy President of Georgetown University, John J. DeGioia, issues statement condemning the “vitriolic” language used by political pundits like Rush Limbaugh against law school student Sandra Fluke amid controversy over birth control requirements in the new healthcare law. Read the letter at: www.georgetown.edu/message-civility-public-discourse.html
Syrian Army Attacks Rebel Stronghold in South On Wednesday, army forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime assaulted the southern city of Dara’a. The protests, which began in Dara’a a year ago after school-children were killed for writing anti-government graffiti, and the ensuing conflict, have led to nearly 230,000 refugees, according to the UN.
STATISTICS CORNER GOP Presidential Nomination Polls ILLINOIS Rick Santorum 31 Newt Gingrich 12 Mitt Romney 35 Ron Paul 7
NATIONAL 28.8 14.8 33.7 11.3
Sources: Chicago Tribune, RCP, Gallup
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
INTRODUCTION by Will Denton, Editor in Chief
t is my pleasure to announce that JHU POLITIK is now the POLITIK PRESS, a publication of the Johns Hopkins Political Review.
This first issue in our new format represents the collective effort of the editorial staff to rebrand and refocus our mission in order to better serve our loyal readers and student writers. For the past four years, JHU POLITIK has filled a critical need on the Homewood campus as the only student publication devoted to politics. In that time, we have expanded and grown. Through our evolution as an organization, we have always been focused on a singular goal: we seek to disseminate the writing of Hopkins students who are passionate about politics. The POLITIK PRESS is a new construction that is different from our previous format both in substance and style. We are and always have been a nonpartisan paper. As an opinion journal, the POLITIK PRESS hopes to provide a forum for political discussion on our campus.
Notes Section: This blank section of every issue will allow our readers to jot down their thoughts and reactions immediately. We want the hard copies of the POLITIK PRESS to become conversation pieces in and of themselves. The Johns Hopkins Political Review will encapsulate the POLITIK PRESS, a weekly publication, and the POLITIK MAGAZINE. Our special series will continue in the POLITIK MAGAZINE, a semesterly journal that explores a single theme in depth, featuring interviews with experts and critical commentary through original student essays. We believe that magazine making is an art, and that is why presentation and good design matter just as much as the text that you read. It is the responsibility of the magazine-maker to provide the reliable, quality content in a way that is intelligible and enjoyable to read. To that end we are committed to making political publications that Johns Hopkins deserves. s
As you read through this issue you’ll notice a number of new features: The Week in Review: Instead of publishing full length factual articles in our weekly paper, we have chosen instead to provide a digest of the most relevant domestic and international political events—all on a single page. 4 Opinion Pieces: All student writing in the Politik Press will be founded on the personal opinions of our writers. By publishing these short political opinion essays, we hope to open political dialogue on campus. The Bulletin Board: Calendar for upcoming political events on campus.
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
US-CUBA TRAVEL SHOULD BE OPEN TO ALL by Jeremy Orloff, Assistant Editor
visit to Cuba necessarily intersects with the United States’ unique policies towards our neighbor to the south. In January of this year I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in Havana with a group of Hopkins students under the instruction of Professor Eduardo Gonzalez. Professor Gonzalez led the trip as an Intersession course on Ernest Hemingway’s life on the island. Hopkins was able to restart this program, which had been on hiatus since 2004, due to the Obama administration’s decision to allow for easier travel between the United States and Havana. Besides easing restrictions on student, religious, and humanitarian groups, the Obama administration has completely normalized regulations for anyone who wishes to visit a “close relative”, according to the State Department. Cuban Americans can come and go freely, stay for as long as they wish, and bring with them remittances so long as their recipient relatives are not members of the Cuban government, the Communist Party, or labor unions. The easing of travel restrictions on Cuban Americans is a kind gesture for those who have been unable to travel easily to the country of their birth. However, this must be a temporary and transitional policy. It may be less cruel than previous prohibitions that prevented almost all visits from the US to the island, but in a way, it is even more awkward. A policy that distinguishes between American citizens based on the nationality of their family members is inconsistent with the values of the United States and our policies towards the other nations of the world. Until all restrictions are lifted on travel to Cuba, the full political benefits of American tourism on the island, which range from humanitarian goals of easing poverty to diplomatic goals of establishing strong social ties between Cuban and American citizens, cannot be fully realized.
There is no question that the Obama administration’s travel policies have been received well by Cubans and their American relatives. The airport in Havana, where we arrived via a chartered flight from Tampa, was filled with reunited families awkwardly hauling the fruits of capitalism - big screen tvs, mountain bikes, furniture, and purebred dogs - into the streets of a country where even the most mundane consumer goods - toothpaste, pencils, and gum - are displayed like expensive jewelry under the glass countertops of community ration shops. Hope remains for even better relations between the United States and Cuba. Not since the missile crisis of 1962 have the stakes been as high as they are today. With the Castro brothers both in the twilight of their lives, there is, for the first time in half a century, real potential for significant political change. Iran and Venezuela continue to make entreaties to Cuba, bolstering the hopes of both governments for greater influence throughout Latin America. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, there are huge economic possibilities for American investment in Cuba. As the rest of the world nations, including Europe and China, reap the rewards of a strong tourism industry there, American companies have been forced to leave this market untapped only 90 miles south of Florida. Even more lucrative is the potential for oil exploration off the coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico. While the lifting of the trade embargo is seen in Cuba as the most critical step that the United States can take, the Obama administration can still work to normalize relations by expanding its travel policy and to let more and more Americans move freely across the Gulf. Although such a move appears more likely than ever, we must remember that many policies in the history of US-Cuban relations have appeared at first to be only temporary measures. When Kennedy signed the embargo in 1962, no one could have imagined it would still be enforced, along with Castro, into the second decade of the 21st century. s
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
SANTORUM & THE POLITICS OF GAY MARRIAGE by Randy Bell, Managing Editor
uch has been made about the subject of gay marriage in recent political memory. Ideally, Americans would honor their charge to defend equality for all citizens or, at the very least, worry about fixing a broken economy before concerning themselves with the gender of people getting married thousands of miles away. In the 21st century, one would expect that societyâ€™s main concern would be the acts of execs, not the act of sex. But, like the relapse of an addict in detox, it appears that an immature populace will fight tooth and nail against any deviation from the America in which it grew up. In a conflict as old as time, those wishing to find progress must withstand the puritanical fundamentalism that has staggered us behind the rest of the developed world. One might assume that opponents of gay marriage are just angry citizens who have and always will exist in this nation to spread bigotry. Surely, the best and brightest that we elect to run our country are mature enough to keep the national dialogue on more critical foci. Such an assumption, though, is as valid as the claim that allowing gays to wed would affect this country in any negative fashion whatsoever. It is no wonder why our economy and foreign policy are as beaten up as Chuck Nadel after a bout in the Octagon: the men and women that we elect to resolve such dilemmas would rather concern themselves with what happens in the bedroom than with real and tangible problems crippling the middle class.
distaste for all three, going so far as to say that he favors laws prohibiting sodomy and the sale of contraceptives for married couples. He even claims that babies conceived of rape are â€œgifts.â€? Santorum represents a practice innate to politics, but which has only recently manifested itself in the topic of gay marriage: that of scapegoating a minority demographic to keep the national focus off of important issues and to rile up the base of the party. Perhaps Santorum recognizes that he has no real solutions to the practical problems affecting most or all Americans - including unemployment, gas prices, and taxes - and would rather bide his time in debates ranting about a topic on which he appears to have many more opinions. Or, perhaps Santorum actually believes that gay marriage rivals other policy issues in importance. After all, he has suggested that gay marriage will cause the breakdown of the family if legalized and, were that to actually happen, there would indeed be few, if any, more pressing national issues. In fact, it may not be much of a stretch to think that, according to Santorum, the legalization of gay marriage in several states over the past few years may well be the cause of the economic struggles that this country faces today. s
Perhaps the greatest source of such diversion is Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia in his effort to demonize the six million openly gay men and women in this country. As perhaps the only major contender to Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination, Santorum has consistently been bombarded with questions regarding his position on homosexuality, contraception, and abortion. His stance on these issues is uncommonly radical and he has made no secret of his
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG? MILLER v. ALABAMA by Alex Clearfield, Managing Editor
n 2003, Evan Miller, a 14-year-old from Alabama, murdered a man in cold blood. Miller and an accomplice, 16-year-old Colby Smith, beat Cannon with a baseball bat to the point of unconsciousness and then burned his mobile home down. It was determined that Cannon died of smoke inhalation resulting from the arson. Three years later, Miller was convicted of capital murder and given a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Miller’s attorney’s have argued that such a sentence is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause, and that it should be overturned or lessened. They maintain that Alabama’s mandatory life without parole sentence for juveniles committing capital crimes violates the Eighth Amendment, and the 14th Amendment’s incorporation of that clause to the states. On March 20, the Supreme Court will hear his case, Miller v. Alabama, and a similar case, Jackson v. Hobbs. The Supreme Court, in a pair late-1980s cases, ruled that the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment for juvenile offenders who committed their crime at 16 or 17 (Stanford v. Kentucky), but was for those under the age of 16 (Thompson v. Oklahoma). Stanford was overturned in 2003 (Roper v. Simmons), and currently no juvenile offenders can be executed. That leaves life without parole as the most severe sentence for juvenile offenders, and can only be used in homicide cases. How young is too young to not be fully accountable for a crime? The bright-line test utilized by Alabama, which imposes a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole those convicted of murder, indicates that 14 old enough. But this bright-line test does not account for other circumstances, such as the age and background of the convicted. This is not justice, and the Supreme Court must thoroughly examine such tests when applied to juveniles.
In Miller v. Alabama, a reasonable argument can be made for imprisoning Evan Miller for life without parole, despite his age. However, imposing a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juvenile offenders convicted of capital murder, without consideration for the offender’s age or extenuating circumstances is cruel and unusual punishment. Each capital case has different circumstances. The degrees of premeditation and the relevant background information vary from case to case, and applying the same standard to all cases of a type is not justice. Miller, even though he suffered from parental abuse and neglect and was addicted to drugs, clearly was involved in the murder and set the fire that led to Cannon’s death. Miller and Smith got Cannon drunk, robbed and beat him, and burnt his home down. This is damning evidence. But what if the circumstances were different? Would a life sentence without parole be appropriate then? Maybe yes, maybe no, but he would receive one nonetheless. Such is the danger of “bright-line tests. Alabama state law mandates such a test, with a certain sentence being meted out for certain offenses. Without considering possible mitigating circumstances, such as a history of abuse or mental illness, those otherwise not deserving of such harsh sentences will go to prison for life for crimes committed as a teenager. That is cruel and unusual to the extreme. It is not justice to apply a blanket test to this case. The bright-line test utilized by Alabama should be struck down. The Alabama courts, and the courts of all states, must evaluate capital cases on their own merits without the use of blanket sentences for all crimes meeting a list of specific attributes. The Supreme Court must do its job and judge the Miller case on the merits to determine if the sentence is cruel and unusual for this specific case and this set of circumstances. s
Volume XI, Issue I
March 12, 2012
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