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Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010


ISSUE XIII, 11/22/10 Also in this Week’s Edition:


By Ari Schaffer, ‘14

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By Hilary Matfess, ‘14 -Page 4


By Morgan Hitzig, ‘12 -Page 5 RETIRE THE PENSION The Justices of the California Supreme Court hear Martinez vs. Regents.

(McNew, Getty)

by Daniel Roettger, ‘13 Staff Writer


hose with a love of music and a sense of history will recall the Momma and Papa's classic, "California Dreaming" with its refrain, "Monday, Monday, can't help that day." On Monday, November 15, the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California in a case that symbolizes the consequences of the economic challenges and the demographic divide faced by taxpayers, politicians and educators in the "Golden State." The case was brought by a group of out-of-state students who attended California colleges and were obliged to pay considerably higher costs than were in-state students. Worse yet, from their perspective,


By Rachel Cohen ‘14 -Page 6

some of those in-state students were in the U.S. illegally. Why, they asked, should American citizens pay higher costs than non-citizens who were living in California illegally? This, they contended, was unfair discrimination. The case came to California's highest court from a state appeals court, which in 2008 held that the tuition benefit was unconstitutional. It turns out that, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a 1996 federal statute "... prohibits providing a postsecondary benefit to illegal immigrants, based on their state residency, if the same benefit was not available to legal residents." On this basis, the appeals court ruled in favor of the group of out-of-

JOHNS HOPKINS’s Only WeeklyPublished Political Magazine

state students. According to the Chronicle, there are an estimated 40,000 school-age children who benefit from this decision. However, bear in mind that California is wrestling with a $26 billion budget deficit that is likely to lead to layoffs, including those of teachers throughout the public school system. Moreover, remember that the cost of this decision is estimated to be about $290 million annually, according to the Center for Integration Reform. California's Congressman Brian Bilbray summed up the opinions of those who oppose the decision thusly, (Continued on Page 2)

Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010




Joshua Ayal

Harry Black

Sam Lichtenstein

Staff Writers

Executive Editors

Randy Bell Alex Clearfield Rachel Cohen Rohit Dasgupta Eric Feinberg Becca Fishbein Conor Foley Cary Glynn Benjamin Goldberg Paul Grossinger Dan Hochman Jordan Kalms Anna Kochut Hilary Matfess Daniel Roettger Ari Schaffer

Managing Editor

Will Denton Morgan Hitzig


Casey Navin Neil O’Donnell Faculty Advisor

Steven R. David JHU POLITIK is a student-run political publication. Please note that the opinions expressed within JHU POLITIK are those solely of the author. Please sign up for our e-mail list on our website,

NATIONAL REPORT (Continued from Page 1) "With California´s $26 billion deficit, taxpayers shouldn´t have to pay one cent for illegal alien higher education.... What part of illegal don´t you understand?" It turns out, though, that illegal immigrants actually have an established constitutional right to attend public school through the end of high school, but, once they reach college, they are ineligible for federal financial aid. As a result, states have become battlegrounds in the question of whether illegal immigrations should be able to attend public universities and, if so, how much they should have to pay. In fact, ten states (including, Florida, New York, and Texas) allow illegal citizens to pay instate tuition if – as in California – they attend high school for three years and graduate. California's Supreme Court reached its decision on Monday last, and did so unanimously. The Regents of the University had contended that that the criterion was not residency in the state of California, but rather attendance at a Californian high school and graduation from that school. Echoing this sentiment, Chief Justice Ming Chin wrote that the "fatal flaw" in the plaintiff's argument is that the in-state tuition benefit is not, in fact, based on Californian residence. Instead, students must show that they have attended and graduated from a California high school. Writing for a unanimous majority, Chief Justice Chin wrote that "Congress specifically referred to residence


– not some form of surrogate for residence – as the prohibited basis for granting unlawful aliens a postsecondary-education benefit." As such, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants was upheld, thereby adding a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate over immigration – and, crucially, what powers states have to make their own policies independent of the federal government. The lawyer for the plaintiff (and also the Secretary-of-StateElect of Kansas) stated that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would be forthcoming. Stay tuned. s

Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010

NATIONAL REPORT Pork Barrels and Republicans by Ari Schaffer, ‘14 Staff Writer The first major step of the newly empowered Tea Party was to secure a ban on earmarks in the Republican Party. Relenting after longtime support of pork barrel spending, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, agreed to a rule against earmarks by party members. The decision comes at the end of a long public outcry against this kind of government spending, incited by a series of scandals and concerns over the budget deficit. The battle rages on with officials on both sides of the aisle weighing in on the decision. The question of whether earmarks should be rejected or embraced has been part of American politics for decades. Coined the derogatory term “pork barrel spending” after the Civil War, earmarks are allocations of funds by politicians to benefit their specific districts. The positive aspect of earmarks is that they send money to districts or areas that may have been overlooked or ignored to deal with the broader concerns of the government. Much needed repairs or adding a small addendum to any bill or legislation can appropriate construction projects that the state government cannot afford. This gives a national politician the ability to take care of his constituents in a more focused manner rather than surrendering the needs of the district to the general will of the country. This last point, however, is as much a point for the opposition as for those who support it. Those against earmarks say, first and foremost, that national government’s purpose is to serve the national interest, while state government serves the state’s interests and local government, the local interest. Alternatively, those who oppose earmarks maintain that federal funds should not be wasted to gain support for the incumbent of a particular district. This point is even more critical when the economy is still suffering from depressed growth and people everywhere are trying to cut their own spending in the wake of the financial recession. Voices from both parties have spoken up to endorse the earmark ban, including President Obama and the soon-to-be Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who pushed through as similar ban among House Republicans. The earmark ban came after many days of fighting within the Senate Republican Party. Even Mitch McConnell originally opposed the new party rule arguing,


like other supporters of pork barrel spending, that it does not increase government spending. Rather, it just directs funding that would have been spent anyway. His challengers have argued that if it were not for earmarks that can be used to buy political support, proposed spending budgets would be a lot smaller and overall government spending would be significantly lower. The Democrats already fear the implications of the ban on earmarks. Given the broader context of a shift toward more responsible spending by congress, the moratorium signals a future of more restricted spending. The Democrats hope to pass a $1 trillion budget this year, but Republicans will likely only support a much trimmer budget. In its place, they have suggested an alternative budget, which reduced spending to 2008 levels, cutting domestic programs by $100 billion. A recent deficit commission report has recommended $200 billion in spending cuts, including an elimination of all earmarks, totaling $16 billion. Although not a significant cut in comparison to the larger budget, cutting earmarks would set a precedent for greater spending responsibility and prudence. Whether the pork barrel spending ban is effective or not, the Democrats will face budget opposition. Tea Party supporters believed their multiple electoral victories are owed to a populace tired of wasteful spending and bridges to nowhere. What they see as their mandate to control spending will bring an overhaul in government spending and, potentially, government program cuts across the board. They hope this change will bring the oversight long desired, and at least the first steps to eliminating government waste and political pandering. How the Democrats respond to these challenges will likely set the tenor for the political discourse until fresh elections in 2012. s

Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010

INTERNATIONAL REPORT The Rise of UN Women by Hilary Matfess, ‘14 Staff Writer

Under-Secretary-General for UN Women, Michelle Bachelet. former President of Chile.

The creation of organizations, institutions and declarations supporting the idea of gender equality and the empowerment of women has been fashionable in international politics for over 50 years. The newest embodiment of this trend is the creation of UN Women. By this January, the Division for the Advancement of Women, the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser of Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will all be united under the umbrella organization of UN Women. The purpose of creating another U.N. body regarding women is to have a more centralized plan of action and to reduce the repetitiveness in the current bureaucracy. This consolidation is in an attempt to strengthen the scope of existing policies, while encouraging the expansion of activities that empower women. Currently, UNIFEM is present in about 80 countries. The centralization of U.N. bodies regarding women will, in theory, allow for additional willing nations to receive assistance in pursuing polities that promote gender equality. With a proposed budget of at least 5$00 million and former President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, as Under-Secretary-General for UN Women, this new body wields a vast amount of potential. UN Women does not, however, lack controversies or obstacles. The United States took a very public stance during the election process of the board members, maintaining that Iran was unfit to serve due to its treatment


of and policies towards women within its borders. Though Iran was successfully blocked from receiving a seat, Saudi Arabia was elected to the executive board. The ridiculousness of this ‘victory’ was not lost on pundits world-wide, who question whether UN Women can effectively work towards gender equality with a member like Saudi Arabia, where the rights of women are severely curtailed. Additionally, though the proposed budget is $500 million, whether UN Women will receive that amount is unknown; many speculate that the discrepancy between the proposed budget and funds actually received will be vast. Indeed, the proposed budget is twice the sum of the combined budgets of the organizations it is consolidating and overseeing. Funding, according to the resolution creating UN Women, will come from the regular UN budget and will be supplemented by donations from member nations. Unfortunately, with the world economy in shambles, it seems unlikely that states will allocate funds to what is largely perceived as a social or ‘soft’ issue. Beyond administrative issues, it has been suggested that there are fundamental flaws in the idea of a centralized organization dictating the gender agenda for a multitude of diverse nations. The U.N. bodies devoted to gender equality and the empowerment of women strive for cultural understanding and work to protect regional traditions. As a result, some argue that a further centralization of these organizations will make this task even more difficult and will merely increase the gap between the workers in the field and the administrators behind the desk. At the same time, the power of states to enact cultural agendas, particularly in the developing world, is called into question as non-state and transnational actions gain power. It is increasingly clear to analysts around the globe that cooperation between international organizations and transnational actors is important if lasting change in cultural memes is to be achieved. What is not clear is whether these new powerhouses will work together to enact change or whether societal change will merely be a battlefield upon which they clash. UN Women is not just the latest development in the field of gender politics; it has the potential to be either the poster-child for successful co-operation between international organizations and non-state actors or to be the quintessential failure of centralization in a globalized society. s

Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010

OPINION American Exceptionalism by Morgan Hitzig, ‘12 Executive Editor

The concept of “American exceptionalism” was a theme on the campaign trail, especially among conservatives and, particularly, among Tea Party candidates. The majority of Americans agree that the United States is a great nation, but why is America exceptional and why does it matter? The term “exceptionalism” has been bandied about, printed and reprinted, since President Obama was misquoted by Jonah Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times. When asked whether the United States was exceptional, the President responded, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Goldberg likens Obama’s view, as illustrated by this quotation, to “benign provincialism.” By stating that many countries are exceptional is to effectively state that none are in fact extraordinary. Conservative news outlets have picked up this quotation and used it as a rallying cry against our “unpatriotic” president. In reality, Goldberg’s scintillating tidbit from Obama’s speech was pulled out of context. The president went on to highlight some of the aspects of America that he finds particularly incomparable, including our maintenance of “the largest economy in the world” and our “unmatched military.” But by valuing the qualities of other countries, the sound bite, alive and well within 24-hour news cycle, has become that President Obama fundamentally denies American exceptionalism. Contrary to popular conservative belief, in his speech Obama does not reduce the idea of American exceptionalism to "benign provincialism." Rather, he explicitly asserts that the values immortalized by the Constitution are exceptional and he vigorously defends those values in front of a foreign audience. There are numerous examples of conservative authors egregiously, quoting and re-quoting, the line taken out of context by Goldberg. While the debate between liberals and conservatives over American exceptionalism will continue to rage, the crux of this issue shows a deep fracture within the discourse of American politics. Does anyone else agree that


there is latent insecurity in a country that requires its politicians to constantly declare how exceptional it is? Over the later half of the last decade, it can be argued that the United States has reached its point of imperialism passing and a populace in need of this much reassurance may be a sure sign of imminent decline. The United States may be the bystander of the discourse surrounding exceptionalism, but the discussion of having pride in the success of the American experiment has come largely to the aid of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement. The supposedly insufficient Democratic commitment to this idea will be a core Republican complaint in 2012. Mark my words, conservatives have begun to berate Barack Obama for his alleged indifference towards America’s preeminence as part of their move to, and focus on, heartland America. Real Americans, it will be argued, know America is the greatest country ever invented and they tend to shout it from the rooftops. Don't they? After the 2008 election, Sarah Palin was supposed to wither away into Alaskan politics, leaving the rest of America at peace with the fact that she would never be one heartbeat away from the presidency. However, her focus on this theme proves she is shrewder than many of her critics acknowledge and, much to my chagrin, she is a force to be reckoned with. Palin’s beliefs about American exceptionalism are, without a doubt, genuine. One thing is for sure; Sarah Palin knows her core constituency and knows how to court those within it. Her audience is made up of millions of Americans who are tired of false promises and are anxious about America's trajectory and their family's economic future. Palin offers her supporters rhetoric that deliberately and effectively feels as though, in a time of uncertainty, the United States could move back to its simpler roots. Palin has used Obama’s indignity towards American exceptionalism as a megaphone to the people she describes as “real Americans” to stand up and take pride in the success and individuality of the American experiment. One thing is for sure; Sarah Palin certainly knows the country she is courting. s

Volume V, Issue XIII

November 22, 2010

OPINION Retire the Presidential Pension by Rachel Cohen, ‘14 Staff Writer This past week, President Obama publicly announced his intent to crack down on earmarks in the federal budget. This initiative, while seemingly a good idea, arrives at an ironic time. The plan to eliminate “pork barrel spending” coincides nicely with the release of George W. Bush’s new memoir, Decision Points. Just to give some background, George W. Bush’s book reportedly received an advance of around $7 million. While the exact number of copies that Bush will sell is a fact only the future will tell, we do know that former President Clinton’s post-presidential memoir sold over 2.2 million copies, earning him a stunning total of $15 million. In addition to the royalties George W. Bush will be receiving for his new book this year, he will also be receiving nearly $200,000 from the United States taxpayer. It seems to me that one of the most obvious and leastdiscussed areas of pork barrel spending lies in the truly ridiculous (and antiquated) legislation that is the lifetime presidential pension. This law, officially known as the Former Presidents Act (FPA) was established in 1958 to provide annual retirement benefits to presidents, including a lifetime annual federal pension, lifetime protection by the Secret Service and reimbursements for any future office allowances they might incur. These office allowances include reimbursements for things like travel expenses, postal service costs, and staff salaries. The pension itself is not a set amount, but rather it matches the salary of Executive Level I personnel in the Cabinet, which currently set at a total of $191,300 per year. We used to live in an age where the presidents who most desperately needed pensions did not even fathom asking for one. Thomas Jefferson had no choice but to sell his 6,000-volume book collection to the government to pay off his creditors. James Madison found himself so debt-ridden that he pleaded desperately (and in vain) for a loan from the new Bank of the United States. Following his predecessor’s legacy, James Monroe was so destitute when he died in New York that his family couldn’t even afford to send his remains back to his hometown in Virginia. The notion of a lifetime government pension was not even considered at the founding of the American re-


public, with the memory of King George and his royal privileges still fresh in the young country’s conscience. But times have changed. Ever since Mark Twain published Ulysses S. Grant’s first presidential memoir in 1885, earning Grant nearly $500,000 in royalties, expresidents have found all sorts of ways to exploit their powerful position. Some particularly lucrative areas that have become popular trends are sitting on corporate boards and advising. George H.W. Bush currently reaps large benefits from his position as Senior Advisor to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm, while Gerald Ford received nice salaries from his involvement with both American Express and 20th Century Fox. These positions do not even include fees earned through speaking engagements across the globe. In 1989 Ronald Reagan gave two speeches in Japan, accepting an unbelievable fee of $1 million dollars for each speech. Nothing can compete, though, with Bill Clinton, who since leaving his position as Commander in Chief in 2001 has grossed over $65 million in speaker fees alone. The point is clear. While former presidents continue reap the rewards of a lifetime of fame and wealth, the fact that we are still using valuable taxpayer dollars to bestow more riches on our former leaders is absurd, especially at a time when our current president is making strong, declarative statements that he seeks to end unnecessary spending in the budget. A true act of admirable leadership would be for President Obama to eliminate the FPA, even though it is he who will ultimately gain from the law down the line. It is time to retire the pension. s

Volume V, Issue XIII  

Volume V, Issue XIII

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