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The Michigan Review the michigan review


The Campus Affairs Journal at the University of Michigan

Volume XXIV, Number 4

October 25, 2005

MR October 25, 2005

What Is MSA? The Review’s Proposal for Responsible Student Government

Inside... Intelligent Design.............Page 3 Columns...........................Page 5 Housing Hunt...................Page 9 Cover Story.......................Page 4 Ethics and Freedom..........Page 7 Kremlin Rising...............Page 11

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the michigan review Serpent’s Tooth

■ The Serpent’s Tooth In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll two weeks ago, President George W. Bush had a 2% approval rating among African Americans compared to an 85% disapproval rating. To help improve his status among Black voters Bush has hired rapper Kayne West as a spokesman to replace recently indicted Karl Rove. As many of you know, the New York Times recently started charging for online access to many of their feature stories through a feature called Times Select. In a less publicized move, Michigan Review Editor-In-Chief James David Dickson has announced a plan called Mrevselect for the Review. For a fee of $60/ month online readers will have access to serpents’ tooth, and many online columns such as “The Angry Greek,” “Say What Coo,” and “Let’s Hug it out.” According to, Ted Kennedy recently tried to save six fishermen trapped near the shore by rising tides. Although

he was unable to reach the fishermen, he was able to call 911. For those of you keeping score at home, Kennedy is now 0-2 in water rescues, and 1-2 in calling 911. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case this term of Anna Nicole Smith vs. the estate of her late husband J. Howard Marshall. During oral arguments in the case, Smith and 85 year old associate Justice John Paul Stevens were missing from the courtroom. According to inside sources, there were loud noises coming from behind the justices’ chambers. Recently the New York Times reported that Anheuser-Busch will be ending its promotion of “Bud Pong,” a game created by the brewery, because it was too similar to “beer pong,” a popular game on college campuses. Officials expressed “shock” that the game was being played with beer instead of water. This serpent’s pretty much writes itself.

October 25, 2005 The Michigan Review The Campus Affairs Journal of the University of Michigan

In a Kinsey Institute study of college students, 60% of college students indicated that oral sex did not constitute “having sex.”… the Greek system has demanded a recount. An Australian insurance broker who was fired after coming to work drunk and urinating in a trash can has been awarded $10,000 after winning a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against because of his ADHD. In other news, Ted Kennedy has announced his candidacy for Australian parliament. In this year’s list of the “Top 10 deadliest animals,” horses took the top spot, causing 219 accidental deaths. Following in a close second was Mike Tyson.

James David Dickson Editor in Chief Paul Teske Publisher Sekou Benson Managing Editor Nick Cheolas Content Editor

Michael O’Brien Campus Affairs Editor

Assistant Editor:

Tomiyo Turner

Staff: Brian Biglin, Karen Boore, Rebecca Christy, Tom Church, Stephen Crabtree, Blake Emerson, Eric Hassett, Aaron Kaplan, Kole Kurti, Jacob Lee, Jeremy Linden, Frank Manley, Brian McNally, David Millikan, Alexandra Miller, the fringe than the mainstream. Whether this means that camAmanda Nichols, Danielle Putnam, puses are more conservative than in years past, or that apathy Yevgeny Shrago, Chris Stieber (a distinct phenomenon from conservatism, despite attempts by liberals to portray it otherwise) has replaced the contentious Editor Emeritus: Michael J. Phillips debates I anticipated to see more of, it would be an act of blindness to ignore that college life really has changed. The Michigan Review is the independent, student The majority of professors I’ve had have been ap- run journal of conservative and libertarian opinion preciative of my contrarian stances. Five years ago, then-Edi- at the University of Michigan. We neither solicit nor tor-in-Chief D.C. Lee wrote an article on the need to suppress accept monetary donations from the University. Contributions to The Michigan Review are tax-deductible conservative beliefs in order to survive academically. Today, I under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Serwould argue that it is even easier for a conservative student to vice Code. The Michigan Review is not affiliated with succeed than it would for a liberal one. Our ideas are fresher any political party or any university political group. and show the benefit of having been challenged, the polish of Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the refinement. We, not the campus Left, challenge the status quo, editorial board. Ergo, they are unequivocally correct and we are held to higher standards in our work. It’s much easier and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons repto distinguish one’s self through dissent than tacit agreement. resent the opinions of the author, and not necessarWe get the most out of our educations because our views are ily those of The Review. The Serpent’s Tooth shall represent the opinion of individual, anonymous constantly put to the test. Whatever one feels about Conserva- contributors to The Review, and should not necestive Coming Out Day, I do believe it’s important to spread this sarily be taken as representative of The Review’s message throughout the community: it’s safer and more socially editorial stance. The opinions expressed in this acceptable now to be a conservative on campus than it’s been at publication do not necessarily those of the advertisers, or of the University of Michigan. We welcome any point since the 1950s. Let’s take advantage of our opportu- letters, articles, and comments about the journal. nity to challenge the simplicity that mars academia, to question the easy answers put forth by our liberal counterparts, and make Please address all advertising, subscription inquiries, and donations to “Publisher,” c/o The Michigan Review: our educational endeavor a worthy one.

■ Letter From the Editor:


his past weekend I had a chance to attend the 26th annual Collegiate Network Editors’ Conference. The Collegiate Network and its parent organization, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, come eerily close to facilitating the Vast RightWing Conspiracy on college campuses nationwide by providing funding to 85+ schools, some of which with multiple papers. I knew going in that our experiences at the Michigan Review differed apace from those of other campus papers. The years of intense protests and counterprotests regarding everything from campus speech codes, affirmative action, and the war, seem to have, for now, subsided. The campus Left is notably (and thankfully) less activist and less vocal than it was when I came to campus in fall 2002, while the Right was and is almost entirely composed of people who loathe loud protest in principle. Given that apathy, rather than any specific political movement, is the enemy we must encounter most forcefully, it made sense last year to approach Ryan Werder, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Independent, about collaboration between our two papers. While I found it funny that this collaboration (which will resume next issue) would take place at the University of Michigan, of all places, I figured that much of the American college life was the “increasingly regressive and partisan” back-and-forth which marked campus relations since the early 1960s. After spe aking with other editors of CN papers, though, I’m convinced that the American college campus is, in 2005, far different than the campuses our predecessors came to know. This became clearer with each new speaker at the conference as they relayed tales from their glory days. There may be numerous radicals left on campus, but conservatives no longer are made to swallow their pride, and accept their position. While unfortunate things do occur from time to time, even in 2005, they’re much more the exception than the rule. Sure, the Michigan Review might get thrown out occasionally, and, yes, there are professors who will go to great lengths to equivocate Communism with the American system, or who blame all the problems of this country on white men, but thankfully this is more

All best,

Editorial and Business Offices: The Michigan Review 911 N. University Avenue, Suite One Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1265 mrev @ Copyright © 2005, The Michigan Review, Inc. All rights reserved. The Michigan Review is a member of the Collegiate Network.

James David Dickson Editor-in-Chief, the Michigan Review 2005-2006

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October 25, 2005

National Issues

Give me Liberty, and Give me Death

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Assisted Suicide Case

By: Frank Manley ‘07


n October 5th the Supreme Court heard heated oral arguments in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon. At stake is an Oregon state law that allows physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of an already-legal medication in order to end the life of a terminally ill patient. The law was passed by referendum in 1994 and overwhelmingly reaffirmed by Oregon voters in 1997. Despite the fact that only approximately 200 people have opted for this physician-assisted suicide to date, it is a very important issue to many Christian conservatives. In 2001, soon after Bush took office, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft reversed the policy of deference which the Justice Department had held during the Clinton administration. Ashcroft, along with his successor Alberto Gonzales, maintained that prescribing a mortal dose of a drug violates the 1970 Controlled Substances Act which states that any prescription must “be issued for a legitimate medical purpose.” This change in policy effectively made what was going on in Oregon a federal crime. Oregon quickly turned to the federal courts to have this new policy declared illegal. A federal district court and circuit court of appeals sided with the state before the case ultimately made its way before the high court. Unfortunately for the many people waiting to observe newly-confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts’ constitutional views, the constitutional issues surrounding the debate were already settled in the 1997 Washington v. Glucksberg case. In that decision, the majority decided the Constitution did not provide a right to die through the right to privacy or by any other means. The

decision did, however, explicitly allow for states to experiment with assisted suicide laws. The Oregon victory in the lower federal courts was largely due to this tenet of earlier precedent. Soon after the beginning of arguments, the justices began interjecting their questions. Roberts wasted little time before he made his voice heard. He and Justice Antonin Scalia grilled the Oregon legal team on a wide range of pertinent issues throughout the proceedings. Echoing questions surrounding the recent high court decision regarding the legality of California marijuana laws, they asked where a state’s right to allow doctors to prescribe ended and where federal law began. As Justice Roberts inquired, can one state allow the prescription of steroids for bodybuilding or authorize prescription morphine? When the lawyer for Oregon said that would be allowable, Roberts quickly followed up by implying that this undermines the enforceability and uniformity of federal law. On the other side of the issue, Justice Sandra Day O’Conner questioned the federal government’s lawyers. She pointed to the fact that the 1970 law in question does not grant the power to determine what is “a legitimate medical purpose” to the U.S. attorney general. In O’Conner’s opinion, trying to do so in the case of assisted suicide is especially problematic because the practice had originated and been reaffirmed by popular vote. O’Connor went as far as to ask if a later, anti-death penalty attorney general could declare prescribing lethal injection medication to be an illegitimate medical purpose and thus illegal. Thomas remained customarily silent, but he is thought to be in line with Roberts and Scalia. At the conclusion of oral arguments it was obvious that the justices were split. Retiring Justice

O’Conner chose to hear the arguments despite the fact that she will likely be replaced by Harriet Miers before the final decision comes down. Even if she does end up casting a vote in the case, her final conclusion is not likely to be the deciding factor. If the other eight justices are divided equally, she will almost certainly abstain from voting and let the case be reheard after her replacement has been confirmed. The public remains largely divided on this issue, and the division runs through race, gender, religious, and political lines. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found that 46% of the voting population approve of the practice, 45% disapprove, and only 9% are undecided. There is no consensus even among conservatives. That same poll showed that there is no consensus among people who identify as Republican. Nearly 1/3rd of Republicans polled said the practice is allowable. In effect, this is a social issue that directly pits the so called “Religious Right” Republicans against states’ rights and small government Republicans of a more libertarian persuasion. Barring any unforeseen delays involving O’Conner’s resignation, the court will likely hand down a decision by the end of the year. Whatever the final vote is, this is clearly an issue that inspires passionate debate and gives cause for contemplation even among those who currently have little interest in the matter. Important questions, including those involving limits on federal power and governmental involvement in personal life-and-death decisions, have been raised which will determine the fate of one of America’s most controversial medical practicesMR

A Discourse on Intelligent Design Bringing Clarity to the Controversy

By Chris Steiber, ‘07


HERE DID MAN come from? “ Who made man?” questions of this nature have existed since the beginning of time, whether that was 6,000 or 6 billion years ago. Countless people have offered their own opinion of the origin of man, each version dissected and examined in the public square. The tone and aggression of the debate, however, has grown more shrill in the past several months. Yet another skirmish is taking place in the boardrooms and chambers of the Kansas State Board of Education, with the “reformers” of Intelligent Design (ID) taking on the evolutionism “establishment” within public schools. In 2004, the State Board appointed a committee of 25 scientists and educators to revise the Science Standards used Kansas public schools. Eight of these 25 committee members proposed revisions to the standards that whose goals were: to “make clear that evolution is a theory and not a fact,” to inform stu-

dents “about the scientific controversy surrounding the origin of life”, and to explain “that scientific knowledge can be used for good and evil.” This created an uproar in national academic circles, as people like Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel wrote letters to the Kansas State Board, criticizing the revisions and urging their rejection. But what is the role of religion in science, and science in education? Several misconceptions must be cleared, however, before a proper analysis can begin. Firstly, what is Intelligent Design (ID)? Intelligent Design “holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.” In other words, ID-supporters posit that observable facts point to a “planner” who designed the processes, rather than evolution happening “by chance.” Secondly, are the revisions

forcing the teaching of Intelligent Design? No, the revisions do not mandate the teaching of ID. In fact, the revisions desire to “exclude intelligent design from standards, without prohibiting it.” Another common misconception is that Intelligent Design is another term for Christian creationism. Creationism, however, is a theological concept, based purely in religion, while Intelligent Design is a theory based on logical inferences made from observations in nature. The criticisms of ID are numerous as well. Opponents of ID claim that the “exclude but not prohibit” clause is simply an attempt to create a loophole in the standards so that the theory may eventually enter the public school textbooks. While evolutionists will admit that evolution is a theory, they argue that much of what we study in science is in fact theoretical. Simply because something is a theory does not mean it isn’t true, or that it is a scientific “shot in the dark.” Theories are “explanations based on evidence.” Evolutionists argue that

proponents of ID, by requiring the teaching of the controversy surrounding the evolution debate, and emphasizing the theoretical nature of evolution, are creating “educational anarchy” in K-12 environments. To use an analogy, children need to learn how to hit a tennis ball and the basic rules of the game before they can enjoy the sport of tennis. While there are many who plead ignorant to the entire evolution/intelligent design debate, there is an underlying conflict that concerns a much larger demographic than middle-school science students: what is the role of freedom in education, both for the teacher and student? In other words, do we make education a system where what is truthful and correct is rammed down a student’s throat, or is it primarily the opportunity to allow students to learn for themselves, to let the make their own decisions based on their personal judgment of the facts?


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the michigan review



The Michigan Review is the independent, student-run journal of conservative and libertarian opinion at the University of Michigan. Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Editorial Board. Ergo, they are unequivocally correct and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons represent the opinions of the author, and not necessarily those of the Review. You can contact the Editorial Board at:

on voting for members when it comes to conflict of interest decisions (which, if enforced, could lead to expulsion), and a clear policy on viewpoint neutrality when it comes to funding groups. These steps in the right direction, along with increasing measures taken to establish its credibility, will place MSA on the right path to relevancy. MR

My Party, Right or Wrong American politics beyond partisanship

■ From Suite One:

MSA’s Crisis of Credibility


A Proposal For Meaningful Reform

HE MICHIGAN STUDENT ASSEMBLY (MSA) has problems. This point is made clearer with every passing election and the declining voter turnout it brings. The Winter 2005 election saw Students for Michigan Party leader Jesse Levine take the presidency with just over 2,600 (out of roughly 25,000) students casting ballots. In the winter 2003 Presidential race there were 6,716 students who cast ballots. In the past week MSA has tried to raise its visibility by having a root beer keg on the diag, and through its attempts to promote the upcoming Ludacris concert. MSA has an especially important role on campus, serving as the student body’s liaison to the administration and allocating funds to student groups. MSA’s importance as a decision-making body far outstrips its relevance to students on campus, and somewhat unfairly. The aforementioned winter 2005 election, for its record-low turnout, contained a ballot measure in the interests of all students, that to raise student fees by one dollar in the upcoming year. The fee increase, which applies to everyone, was passed by approximately 9.2 percent of the student body; less than ten percent of students raised a tax on the other 90-plus percent of campus. The pronounced lack of student interest makes the technically democratic MSA increasingly oligarchic, a body in which fewer and fewer students are making decisions which affect all of us. Even though this paper supports MSA funding for student groups, spending must exist within certain limits. To establish such limits, we propose that to increase student fees, MSA elections must have 20% voter turnout. A democratic institution with less than 10% voter turnout can barely be said to have legitimacy, let alone the mandate that a request for greater student fees requires. Having a voting quorum on MSA elections for fee increases to be implemented would give MSA a more effective mandate. If 20% of the student body had to vote in an election before MSA could impose greater student charges, MSA would be left no choice but to address its credibility gap. How it would do so is another question, one better left for our elected representatives. At any rate, quorums would force student groups on campus and MSA leaders to lobby the whole student body as to why a student fee increase is necessary and what the average student would stand to gain from the increase. Right now, spending increases are basically rubber-stamped because MSA voters are such a self-selecting group that many people who would vote at all are also the people more than happy to part ways with the dollars for MSA’s new project. One wonders where all this money is going, and whether we’re getting a return on our investment. For example last year MSA doled out over a $1,000 to fly in South American coffee farmers to a scarcely attended event to promote fair trade coffee. Also for the past three years MSA has funded bus trips to Washington DC, so that students could spend a weekend protesting in the Nation’s Capital. In another example the Public Interest Research Group In Michigan (PIRGIM) asked for nearly $20,000 from the committee discretionary, but their request failed. With the new quota system in place, there will be a greater likelihood that MSA will fund events such as the recently organized Ludacrais concert that appeal to a broad cross section of the student population, instead of events tailored to a select group of students. The quota system will also make MSA become less politicized and stop MSA from taking positions on controversial issues where there is not a general student body consensus such as affirmative action and the war in Iraq. The quota system could also force MSA to take action on long standing promises such as bringing a Taco Bell to campus or having meal credit flexibility in the residence halls. Things that majority of the campus cares about and expects from its student government. But none of this is to suggest that MSA has not been effective considering the circumstances in which it operates. President Jesse Levine and former Representative Stuart Wagner have been instrumental in implementing code changes to make MSA funding mechanisms more accountable. These changes include restrictions

October 25, 2005


E AT THE MICHIGAN Review are disappointed by the nature of political discourse in America. The so-called leaders of this country seem endlessly engaged in bitter and simplistic squabbles that often obscures real issues. Witness the recent ethics scandals of Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Tom DeLay, which have degenerated from principled investigations into perhaps legitimate wrongdoing to petty partisan bickering. Said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, “there is a pattern of corruption and an abuse of power consuming our government” – by which she meant, our governing party, the Republicans. But DeLauro did raise a great point in her condemnation of the GOP: “Washington has got to get back to doing what is in the public interest.” More and more we’re forced to look at important issues which effect our quality of life as little more than partisan battles in our ongoing political and culture wars. Take the Harriet Miers nomination In the immediate hours after Bush announced the Supreme Court nomination of his legal counsel, liberals were enraged. Charges of cronyism and Miers’ lack of qualifications were heard throughout the land, and they were determined to reject Bush’s dubious pick. But, when they realized that conservatives, too, were angry, the tone changed. Suddenly, Miers deserved a “fair hearing.” Although Miers’ sparse public record includes statements here or there which indicate that she might even be pro-life – which, to most Democrats, would serve as a clarion call to mobilization – most Democrats see her nomination and the resultant conservative infighting as the chance to “rubberneck.” They would rather run the very probable risk that a pro-lifer join the Supreme Court than do anything that would break up an all-too-rare fight in the conservative camp. “The best thing the Democrats can do is to let this process play out,” said an influential congressional aide in the Los Angeles Times. Something is terribly the matter. Beyond whatever one may think of Miers’ politics, it is important that we all take a stand against the nepotism so clearly driving her nomination to the highest court in the land. While the conservative gripe against Miers would certainly lead to a far different conclusion and result than most liberals would appreciate, everyone’s interests, in addition to our common, basic demand of accountability of government officials, would be served by a tough confirmation hearing. If Miers is qualified to serve on the court in spite of her sparse public record, and if her loyalty to the Constitution trumps her loyalty to President Bush, she should be confirmed. If not, Democrats must be willing to stand beside Republicans in demanding a more qualified nominee. But this problem does not end with Harriet Miers. The often unnecessary, dichotomization of issues such as the environment speaks further to the extent we’re expected to decide on important, quality-of-life issues on the basis of party lines. These old tropes tend to solidify a groupthink mentality whereby people are supporting particular issues on the mere basis that their party supports that issue, and their opposition does not. Simple as that. And although this allows Democrats to console themselves after election defeats because they’ve done “the right thing,” and although this mentality permits Republicans to end the day thinking they’ve staved off threats to all they hold dear, this really prevents deeper exploration into issues and stunts the political growth of the American people. The mainstream media is, no doubt, implicit in all of this. In its rush to fairly and quickly summarize the views of both parties, nuance is lost. Important distinctions remain unmade. But at the end of the day, the onus remains on us to demand more of our political leaders. This will require an examination of what we believe, one hopefully uninfluenced by the Crossfire-like nature of political discourse in America. MR

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■ Let’s Hug it Out


October 25, 2005


It’s the Economy, Stupid

ost of us have had a job or two in our lives, so we know the satisfying feeling you get when you have worked hard and earned money. No doubt, among most of us workers, we have also experienced that gut wrenching feeling when we look at how much we earned and how little we keep. Thankfully, none of us have made enough money yet to experience a long term loss of this money; rather, we come back second semester to get our taxes back, just in time to blow them on tequila shots in Mexico. However, that light at the end of the tunnel called graduation brings salaries with incomes Paul such that we do not get that early Teske spring surprise. This all has me thinking about taxes. The tax code is the one thing President Bush has certainly made a positive mark. Over Bush’s tenure, his Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), the follow up Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, and the recent proposals by the Presidential Tax Reform Panel have all made positive changes to American tax code. In case you do not remember, the EGTRRA was the part of Bush’s economic stimulus package that cut income taxes as well as capital gains taxes. At the time, this did not mean much to us, but as we all start thinking about money more practically this was actually a big deal. The plan cut all income taxes brackets from as much as 5% for the lowest bracket, 3% for the middle three tax brackets, and 4.6% for the highest bracket. Along with these changes, dividends taxes were lowered

to 15% for those in the highest four brackets and capital gains taxes were reduced to 15% for the highest three brackets and 5% for the lowest brackets. In 2003, these taxes were accelerated and reduced slightly by the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, dropping the highest bracket to a 33% tax rate at income levels of $319,000 or more. I have to say, back then I did not know what any of this meant, but my experiences the past three years have allowed me to value low taxes. Specifically in comparison to the tax structure of certain European countries, such as Germany and Great Britain, countries I was able to visit this summer. Many people argued and still argue that the tax cuts only created more disparity between the classes, yet a more stringent tax structure would just push everyone to a lower level and make it difficult to emerge out of a middle or lower class wage bracket. The highest tax bracket in Germany is at 45% for taxable income over €52,152, which translates to $62,000. In Great Britain, the highest tax bracket is at 40% for income over £30,313, which translates to $52,000 at a spot exchange rate. These kinds of tax rates make me incredibly happy that I live in a country that was founded by people pissed off about taxes. If you want to talk about a tax structure that hurts the middle class, then people need to look more closely at the tax structures of Europe than they do America. What incentive do you have to make more money when you only get to take home 60% of what you earn? On top of income tax, add on social security, local and state taxes, and retirement funds and your hard work does not add up when you get to the bottom line. The Bush packages in 2001 and 2003 were throwbacks to the Reagan-era belief that stimulus came from letting the people keep and create wealth.

However, since his second term began, Bush’s vision of an ownership society, in which we create our own wealth from retained assets, seems to have fallen by the wayside; people do not see anything Bush did with taxes as a positive. If anything, the past year has been the biggest nose dive for Bush as far as accomplishing what he envisioned with the ownership society. Social Security reform has hit a wall and been replaced with controversial Supreme Court decisions and CIA leaks. On top of this, America faces rising interest rates, oil and gas prices, and concerns of inflation, all of which have many forecasting a bear market. All of these negative events are no doubt at play in the President’s approval ratings, which are at a dismal 39% compared to the mid to upper 50’s he had from post 9/11 2001 to 2003. Amongst all of this negativity it is often hard to find anything positive about the current momentum in this administration. Perhaps, though, Bush could win back the hearts of his traditionally fiscal conservative supporters with the implementation of a simplified tax code in 2006. This past week the Bush commission on Presidential Tax Reform Panel recommended two plans revolving around simplification of the federal tax code, and the implementation of a consumption tax. Although these plans do not aim to reduce taxes dolled out by citizens, they do intend to make the process much less complicated, which hopefully could pave the way for larger-scale reform later. If anything, Bush needs to re-focus his attention back on the economy and his campaign promises of an ownership society if he wants history to remember his tenure as president kindly. MR

■ The Angry Greek


s the confirmation battle for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers heats up, so to do the debates surrounding the “proper” way to interpret the constitution. Here, the battle lines are no longer simply “liberal” or “conservative,” but deal with “strict” or “loose” interpretations of the Constitution. ConNick servatives have often Cheolas professed their strong belief in a “strict” interpretation of the Constitution, as did President Bush earlier this month, stating “[Miers] shares my philosophy that judges should strictly interpret the laws and the Constitution of the United States, and not legislate from the bench.” Judges “legislating from the bench” has been a particular pet peeve for conservatives for many years. Strict constructionists have resented numerous judicial “legislative” tactics: for example,

The Constitution, My Way propagating “hostility” to religion never conceived by our founding fathers, and the finding of phantom “rights” to abortion and sodomy. Despite the rhetoric regarding strict constructionism, usually spouted by political conservatives, it is hard to see how any modern-day politician could advocate a true “strict” interpretation of the constitution. The Founding Fathers would have trouble comprehending the structure of today’s federal government – Departments of Agriculture, Education, Transportation, etc. – or the thousands upon thousands of federal laws on the books. The government assumes people are too stupid and too ignorant to run and protect their own lives, so drugs are criminalized, and laws are passed to force citizens to wear helmets on motorcycles and seatbelts in cars. The government assumes it citizens are incapable of providing for themselves, so they have enacted massive welfare and wealth distribution policies – not just for those who cannot, but for those who will not support them-

selves. Even the famed strict constructionist Thomas Jefferson seemed to have put his ideology aside when he purchased the Louisiana Territory – a power hardly granted to the federal government in the Constitution. So when we hear modernday politicians and judges talk of “strictly interpreting the laws of the Constitution,” we must take it with a grain of salt. That said, strict constructionists do make a number of valid arguments. Many were outraged at the recent US 9th circuit court ruling deeming the Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional. Even though the words “under God” were not added to the Pledge until 1954, supporters argued that the recitation of the Pledge is a patriotic act, devoid of religious motives. The First Amendment requires only that the government not “establish” a religion, or prevent the “free exercise” thereof. Not mandated – and never intended by the founding fathers – was the “hostility” to religion propagated by those who look to remove all traces of religion from the public sphere.

One of the earliest major cases regarding church-state separation is the 1962 case Engel v. Vitale regarding prayer in public schools. The court, in holding the school prayers unconstitutional, stated ‘“We think that by using its public school system to encourage recitation of the Regents’ prayer, the State of New York has adopted a practice wholly inconsistent with the Establishment Clause. There can, of course, be no doubt that New York’s program of daily classroom invocation of God’s blessings as prescribed in the Regents’ prayer is a religious activity. It is a solemn avowal of divine faith and supplication for the blessings of the Almighty.” Whether one agrees with this ruling or not, the justices at least interpreted the Constitution when applying the law to the case they were given. However, after more than 40 years of church-state rulings, the 9th Circuit Court did not interpret the Constitution itself, but relied on several “tests,”


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Hey Hey! Hockey’s back

By Amanda Nichols ‘09


fter a 16-month lockout, the National Hockey League finally reopened its arenas on October 5, 2005 to a collective sigh of relief by hockey fans. The League, however, may not feel as relieved. Although they won a costly battle with the NHL Player’s Association and crafted a Collective Bargaining Agreement based on their terms, there was no way to guarantee the return of the game’s comparatively small fan base. Therefore, many clubs have drastically cut ticket prices or created types of “kickback” systems for season ticket holders (i.e., the “Joe Bucks” given out by the Detroit Red Wings organization). Free calendars, free merchandise, miniature replicas of the Stanley Cup to all spectators in attendance on opening night—the NHL is giving out anything it can to help fans forget the lost season of 2004-2005. Perhaps giving out 300,000 Stanley Cups erased the League’s failure to award the real trophy last year for the first time since 1919. And, perhaps displaying a sleeker product and a quicker, higher-scoring sport will erase the first-ever yearlong lockout in any professional sport. Although the game looks distinctly different on an external level—no two-line passes, tag-up off sides, shootouts to break ties—the league is also op-

erating differently on an internal, financial level. As expected, the labor dispute that kept hockey off the ice for so long was all about money; the players felt they deserved the salaries they were able to earn through free agency, while the team owners argued they were losing hundreds of millions of dollars each season because of the League’s economic situation. While this was not a new issue, it came to a head when the CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA expired on September 15, 2004 and no new arrangement had been made. The lockout quickly turned into a battle of wills between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Head Bob Goodenow and their incompatible ideas of how cost certainty should be achieved, and Bettman officially cancelled the season on February 16, 2005. But now hockey’s back. The two sides hammered out an agreement over the summer and, much to the players’ chagrin, the new CBA fits Bettman’s ideas of how the game should function as a business enterprise. Formerly, NHL teams had no financial restrictions; therefore, if an owner’s pockets were deep enough, a team could theoretically purchase a championship. Now, each team must operate under a salary cap of $39 million, including all players’ salaries, signing bonuses, and performance bonuses. They also must not spend less than $21.5

million annually. To put these figures into perspective, the 2003-2004 payroll of the Detroit Red Wings was approximately $70 million, so these new restrictions drastically level the playing field between big-market teams (i.e., Detroit) and smaller-market teams (i.e., Florida Panthers). Concurrently, no player’s annual salary can be more than 20% of the maximum payroll (or no more than $7.8 million), and all players with existing contracts took a 24% salary cut. This narrows the financial disparity between superstars and rookies and prevents salary over-inflation. Furthermore, teams operating in a market with 2.5 million or fewer TV households or who are in the bottom 50% of the league in revenue are eligible for revenuesharing funds in order to keep their clubs competitive within the league. Clearly, the CBA favors the owners; the cost of keeping a club competitive has been dramatically reduced, and those teams who struggle get increased assistance from the more economically stable franchises. But how can this new system fit into a free market economy? Many agree that salaries should be reduced across sports, but should clubs that cannot generate revenue continue to operate on the excess profits of more successful teams? The NHL has grown from six to thirty teams and has created

October 25, 2005 clubs in nontraditional hockey markets. Some expansion experiments prove successful: the St. Louis Blues entered the league in 1967-1968 and have made the postseason for an all-time sports record 25 consecutive seasons; and the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders, two expansion teams of the 1970s, won a collective nine Stanley Cup Championships in the 1980s. Most expansion teams, though, do not see such success. Therefore, the NHL’s expansion, not the players’ salaries, could be the true cause of the league’s economic instability; the next few seasons will be the true test of that. However, if the economic model set forth in the current CBA does work to increase fans and revenues in smallermarket areas, the NHL is in for a financial windfall. If hockey is able to increase its fan base in the United States, the NHLPA could work for a more equally compromised CBA and a more financially “free” league. Only time will tell the true economic consequences of the CBA, but hopefully the loss of the NHL’s 20042005 season will at least increase the appreciation of true fans for the return of the game, if not also the structure of labor disputes resolution in sports as well. MR

Weah in the Lead: Liberia’s Elections By Sekou Benson ‘06


n October 11, the west African nation of Liberia held its first national democratic election in fourteen years. Previously, the country was ruled by military dictator Charles Taylor, who has been in exile in Nigeria since 2003. Taylor ruled the country with an iron fist and was notorious for amputating body parts of his political opponents. Since Taylor’s exile the country has been ruled by interim president Gyude Bryant. Along with the presidency, Liberians also cast votes for the Senate and the House of Representatives, and there was no shortage of Liberians running for office. Twenty-two people ran for president, 206 candidates for 30 Senate seats, and 512 for 64 seats in the House of Representatives. The results of these elections will have an impact on the United States because of its history with the country. Liberia has had a special relationship with the United States since its founding in 1822 because of its status as a former colonial possession and as a nation that was used as a refuge for newly freed American slaves. The country was also used as an air force base for the United States during World War II. The capital of Liberia, Monrovia, is even named after a US president James Monroe. The country is an especially vulnerable time in terms of poverty and educational opportunities. According to the Central Intelligence Agency fact book, the country has a literacy rate of only 57.5% and

an unemployment rate of 85%; also, 80% of Liberia’s citizens live below the poverty level despite the country’s abundance of natural resources such as rubber and diamonds. Many experts have speculated that some of the causes of Liberian poverty include the civil war that preceded and continued after the Taylor administration as well as corruption by the country’s leaders. Whoever wins the presidency will be faced with the challenge of changing these statistics and the government culture. The election rules require that the winning presidential candidate receive 50% of the vote or more. If no candidate receives a majority, then a run-off occurs with the top two vote winners. The run-off is scheduled for October 26th. The two candidates who survived the initial presidential election, Geroge Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, are of contrasting backgrounds. Johnson-Sirleaf appeals to the older generation and the Liberian elite. Weah appeals to the masses, and the younger generation. The first candidate George Weah, 39, of the Congress for Democratic Change Party is a former soccer star and philanthropist. Weah has had no formal education, but has still been able to generate a huge following. Weah is known in Liberia for his generosity. He once withdrew $20,000 from a bank and distributed it to fellow citizens walking by. Weah has become the populist candidate in the race. According to initial results released the Monday after the election, Weah had garnered 30 percent of the vote. This vote total put him on top of

twenty-two person race. Many people believe that Weah would not be a good leader because of his inexperience in government. In fact, his campaign website focuses more on his soccer skills than on his ability to be a good governor. In fact, that lead advertisement claims he received most of his education on the soccer field. One of the things in his favor is respect from the citizenry, because people will put trust in his modest background that resembles most of the populace. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 66, of the Unity Party is a Harvard-educated former economist at the World Bank. She also served in Liberian President Samuel Doe administration back in the 1980s as finance minister. Johnson-Sirleaf is no stranger to electoral politics; she unsuccessfully ran against Charles Taylor in the 1997 presidential election, one which many regarded as rigged (Taylor won with 75% of the vote). Taylor eventually charged her with treason. Johnson-Sirleaf has garnered the support of the intellectual community and the elite compared to the more populist support that Weah has received. If elected, Johnson-Sirleaf would become the first female head of an African nation. Right now, she has a tough road ahead as she gathered a little over 19% of the vote in the initial election compared to the 30% that Weah received. MR

the michigan review

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October 25, 2005

Campus Affairs

Ethics on the March By Rebecca Christy ‘08


oday, government corruption, sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and dishonesty in the corporate world seem to dominate the media. The question must be asked: where is our society lacking in the teaching of ethical behavior? In 2004, The University of Michigan created The Presidential Task Force on Ethics in Public Life in response to the prevalence of ethical dilemma in our society. It is hard to disagree that public universities have become more diverse in regards to religion and culture over the past 200 years. Thus, it has become difficult for universities to teach ethics based on static moral and religious ideals. In recent decades, most public universities have avoided confrontation by choosing to incorporate ethics into courses by relating them specifically to the professional world. Yet, given the increasingly diverse atmosphere, is there a way to teach individual ethics appropriately at a public university? The Presidential Task Force on Ethics in Public Life believes there is. Disregarding a concentration in Philosophy, an undergraduate liberal arts degree at the University of Michigan requires no courses in ethics. Currently the University offers courses such as Sociology 122 and Psychology 122, which focus on the ethics of diversity. The task force does not believe that the University is failing at providing classes which study ethics, but thinks these courses are difficult to identify based on their names and class descriptions alone. There are also more eth-

ics courses which are taught at the graduate level in the schools of Medicine, Law, Public Policy, Engineering, Urban Planning, and Business. The task force, however, believes that issues of ethics do not only arise for specific professions which require a graduate degree, but that all students face ethical issues on a daily basis. As they stated in their final report, “All students may confront ethical issues related to academic integrity, career choices and recruiting, athletics, drinking and drug use, relations with friends and intimates, and relations with employers, coworkers, neighbors, and property owners.” Currently students in the College of Engineering and the School of Public Health confront issues of ethics on a regular basis by signing honor codes to maintain academic integrity. A similar style honor code may be in the works for the College of Literature Science and the Arts. The main goals of the committee involve expanding the number of ethics courses offered at the undergraduate level while integrating ethical issues into already existing courses. They would also like to provide more opportunities in general for discussion of topics such as plagiarism and issues between students and teachers. On September 26, 2005 President Mary Sue Coleman announced that the University had given $500,000 for the project, which includes creating grant money for more research in the field of ethics. The task force also chose to look at other universities across the nation which have already implemented ethics in their curriculum. There seems to be two major approaches to the study of ethics. The University of Ohio, Dartmouth College, and the University

of British Columbia appear to focus on applied ethics, which seeks to understand why some institutions allow opportunities for unethical practices to occur. Harvard, Duke, and Yale University are known for their theoretical approach to ethics, which concerns itself with differing opinion about practices such as abortion. The University of Michigan hopes to use these programs to determine what the specific goals of an ethics program on campus would look like. The report analyzes possible issues with instituting ethics courses, such as students potential to resist them especially if they become a mandatory requirement for graduation. Many may feel that personal ethics is a private decision in which one should not be imposed on by others. There are also questions on how to approach teaching ethics courses without professors appearing biased, or students feeling alienated in a classroom if they feel their beliefs are in the minority. None of these reasons appears to be cause enough to keep ethics courses from becoming more available at Michigan. The University has already instituted similar programs such as the Race and Ethnicity requirement for LSA students which one can argue creates the same potential for these issues. If a quality education consists of preparing students for success beyond the walls of this University, it is difficult to disregard the importance of ethics. Right and wrong may not be as clear as black and white. MR

The Abrams Report on the First Amendment By Danielle Putnam ‘08


hen one thinks of the phrase academic freedom, the belief that students have the right to express their ideas freely comes to mind. Although this is true, an important aspect of academic freedom is who has academic freedom. But more importantly, why is academic freedom so significant? Floyd Abrams addressed these issues in the Fifteenth Annual University of Michigan Senate’s Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom held Thursday, October 6, 2005. The question of academic freedom was not an issue at the University until 1954 when three professors, H. Chandler Davis, Mark Nickerson, and Clement Markert, were suspended, two of whom were terminated, for their refusal to give testimony during a visit to Michigan of a group from the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities. The University Senate Assembly, after repeated suggestions, resolved this matter on November 19, 1990. The University recognized that academic freedom is essential to the formation of “the rights of free inquiry, free expression and free dissent that are necessary for the life of the university.”

To uphold these promises the University provided for a constant reminder of their importance, hence creating The University of Michigan Senate’s Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom. This year, Floyd Abrams gave this lecture. Mr. Abrams is a partner in the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and is the William J. Brennan, Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Law at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He recently published, Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment. He is considered one of the most prominent First Amendment lawyers of this time and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court and has been cocounsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. When addressing the issue of academic freedom, Mr. Abrams discussed how an issue at Dartmouth reversed the fact that a charter of a college could not be overcome and a public college cannot be responsible to a state government, hence encouraging the development of private colleges which would be independent of the state government. He also said that academic segregation on racial grounds limits the

university. More important to his lecture was his discussion of a case a Columbia University student brought before the Supreme Court claiming that a professor was harassing students with different views, impeding on the students’ academic freedom. The professor was holding a discussion about the Gaza / Israeli invasion and, as the student claimed, yelled at her and told her to leave his classroom because her comment that the Israeli troops gave warning was denying the blatant fact of what was happening. She also claimed that he became excessively angry and was constantly disrespectful of students’ opposing opinions. The same professor also asked an Israeli student, during an off campus lecture, how many Palestinians he had killed. During this same period, Jews, Blacks, and Republicans all filed complaints against this professor on the base of harassment about their views. Most significantly, Mr. Abrams has been representing New York Times reporter Judy Miller in the Valerie Plame leak case. He provided insight not revealed in the major media about the specific negotiations between Miller and her privileged source, VP Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby. He opined that journalists

should receive more First Amendment Protection, and that current constitutional jurisprudence on the matter hardly goes far enough. These situations raised the question of designing an academic Students’ Bill of Rights wish would protect their academic freedom. In this bill, professors would have to respect and consider the possibility of different views, which some professors believed was imposing on them to teach anything that is unsettled or settled. Mr. Abrams concluded that in order to maintain academic freedom at a university, a lost of risks must be taken in order to reap the benefits that free speech brings and avoid state government intervention of free speech. He also supported the idea of a Students’ Bill of Rights which would not be severe in its guidelines, but straightforward. In order to maintain one’s academic freedom, one should follow the suggestions of Mr. Abrams. One should not be afraid to take a stand for what they believe in and to protect that belief. After all, doesn’t the First Amendment give students that right? Mr. Floyd Abrams believes so. MR

the michigan review

Page 8

Cultural Commentary

California, Here We Come

By Blake Emmerson ‘09


October 25, 2005

What college students are watching

n a Thursday evening about two weeks ago, I felt incredibly rushed. I had to finish a final draft of an essay and finish studying for my calculus exam. After I finished the paper and before I started studying for my calculus exam, I decided to travel up a few floors in what I thought were the friendly confines of Bursley Hall to ask a quick question about sociology. When I reached the door, I was immediately struck by how many people were inside this room. What could they possibly be watching that warranted an entire floor to be packed silently around a tiny, 12-inch television set? Thinking I could get in and out of the room, I found the person I was looking for. As I opened my mouth to ask the question, I was bombarded with an in synch “shhhh!” I realized quickly that my question was not going to be answered by anyone in that room. Without asking any more questions or caring to peer at the TV screen, I went to another hall to ask a calculus question. Once again, an entire room was filled with teenaged girls, not noticing that someone may have something important to ask. After being denied twice, I finally entered the room and looked at the TV. On that screen was the weekly favorite, The OC. Throughout the past few years, college girls and guys alike have been gathered around on weeknights to take a break from studying to watch shows such as Real World, The O.C., and Laguna Beach. Fad TV shows are nothing new, but something about this fad strikes me as odd. I have watched all of these shows—once. It is hard to find many people who will argue that any of those shows will evolve into a classic program. So, once again, I made a trip around Bursley, taking basically the same route, this time not wondering about a homework problem. What I was asking was much more important: Why are college TV shows college TV shows? What

makes these programs unique in the eyes of teen America? I asked questions in the hope of coming up with a consensus about why people watch these shows. Even though I gathered conflicting results, I did come up with some answers on my journey (some more obvious than others). For starters, it is a social activity. Very rarely do you see people watching these shows by themselves. It is a chance to get away from the grind of weekday college life to watch drama. Many students interviewed agreed that males see it as more of a social activity than girls, since many guys tend to watch it with girls or watch it to be able to converse about it with girls. In high school, I was constantly nagged by a couple of close friends to start watching The OC. I expected the reasoning to be because the show was fascinating or entertaining, but instead I was greeted with a typical male response: “Watch it because the chicks love it.” Unlike many of the people living in Laguna Beach, CA, many Michigan students are forced to earn some money before they can drive around in Corvettes. Most Michigan students don’t have the luxury of having their parents buy them new sports cars for their sixteenth birthday. By simply tuning into the show Laguna Beach, college-aged people can catch a glimpse people their age that are living the high-life. Many people I talked to admit that they envy the “good life” that characters in these shows are leading. On The OC, Mischa Barton’s character, Marissa, has a history of skipping her high school class and once had an alcohol problem. Despite her extensive social adventures, which include lesbian experimentation, she remains idealistic in the eyes of many viewers because of her good looks and her social status. Students interviewed seemed to enjoy watching characters that they can look up to. After all, it is everyone’s dream to be able to party hard and still have parents buy them Louis Vuitton purses and new

Corvettes. Lastly, people simply see these shows as entertainment. Laguna Beach, a reality show by genre, is undoubtedly staged. Everyone interviewed agreed that the social situations shown by the show are manufactured backstage. Interestingly, that fact doesn’t seem to tarnish general opinion of the show. I heard many comments similar to, “Who cares? It’s just a fun show to watch.” “It’s all the stuff you wish you could do but can’t” stated one girl about happenings in the various “college” TV shows. There is nothing truly new about fads targeting a certain age group. TV shows and bands have their target audiences. In the music scene, “Indie” music, or music released on an independent label, has truly become important in today’s college culture. Most people interviewed worship each song on the Garden State Soundtrack, which is the microcosm of a new wave of Indie music. The Shins, among other bands, can singlehandedly point to the Garden State Soundtrack to their newfound success. What’s the connection between music and TV shows? Indie music belongs to late high school and college students. Indie is not something little brothers and parents will listen to. Laguna Beach and The OC really are the same way. The social situations are too complex for young children and too immature for adult audiences. Every element in society wants something to call their own. The craze did not just begin, and it is also not about to end, either. People’s faces seemed to light up when I mentioned Laguna Beach and The OC, and people were more than eager to shed some light on why they like the shows so much. The motto of the new generation: “California, here we come.” MR

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Page 9 By Stephen Crabtree


the michigan review National/Campus Affairs

The Miers Quagmire

N OCTOBER 3, 2005, at 8:00 am EST, President Bush announced his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. He described her as a gifted litigator, and cited her status as the first female head of the Dallas Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and Texas Lottery Commission. He stated that she would “strictly interpret our Constitution and laws.” Pres. Bush dismissed anticipated concerns about her lack of official statements on hot-button issues, or any experience practicing constitutional law. He insisted that sometimes, the best Justices are those who have never previously served as judges, citing the late Chief Justice Rehnquist as an example. Nonetheless, by 8:01 am, there was already strong dissent. Miers was declared to be an unqualified, unsubstantiated, indecipherable, inexperienced, unacceptable, elderly nominee, who was chosen because of her vague views and close personal relationship with the President. Such statements would not be shocking, of course, if not for the fact that those were the comments from the Republican activists. President Bush responded the following day with a Rose Garden speech in which he implored his supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, telling them once again, “I know her heart,” and declaring her to be “the best nominee [he] could find.” Still, the steady drumbeat of dissent has not faded, but has grown louder – especially from the right. On October 6th, former majority leader Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) announced his strong hesitation over Miers on MSNBC. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and

Tom Coburn (R-OK), two of the ten Republicans on the 18-member Senate Judiciary Committee, have also expressed hesitation to confirm her. While Republican Sens. Crapo (ID) and Hatch (UT) have given their endorsement of Miers, several other conservatives, including Sens. Allen (VA), Enzi (WY), Inhofe (OK), Santorum (PA), and Thune (SD), have outrightly refused to give automatic support to the President’s nominee. Some prominent religious-right figures, such as Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition have endorsed Miers, but other leaders and commentators have not been so kind. Radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have come out in cautious opposition. The list of strongly detracting conservative columnists includes Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Michelle Malkin, Peggy Noonan, Bob Novak, and George Will. The right-leaning weblogs at,, and others show further evidence of dissatisfaction by the grass-roots Republicans. To say the least, the President’s conservative base is not pleased. Now one may ask where the Democrats have been throughout this process. Miers nomination was recommended by minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and has been hesitantly supported by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), both of whom voted against the confirmation of Judge Roberts last month. Among the Judiciary Committee’s eight Democratic members though, only Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA) has yet to announce any stand on Miers nomination. The other seven members are already complaining of Miers being a “stealth

October 25, 2005

nominee with no paper trail.” Among the other Democratic Senators, one can still expect that most of the twenty-two who voted against Judge Roberts will vote against this nominee as well, and may likely be joined by others, due mostly to the charges of favoritism and the lack of any record of statements on constitutional law. Liberal interest groups such as NARAL, the National Organization for Women, and People for the American Way, and leading liberal columnists Maureen Dowd, and E. J. Dionne have also decried Miers’ nomination as blatant cronyism, and have pressured the President to submit papers showing the nominee’s legal views on abortion, homosexual rights, environmental protection, the separation of church and state, and a host of other hot-button issues. The online web-logs of and have blasted Miers’ nomination just as strenuously as many grass-roots activists from the right, though they have, of course, been happy to let the disenchanted Republicans join the fight. So, as Peggy Noonan’s column asked, “What Was the President Thinking?” Many commentators have now concluded that Pres. Bush chose Miers to be a “compromise nominee,” one who could win support of Democrats, without losing the support of Republicans. Unfortunately for Bush, his compromise is one that has left no-one happy, least of all his own base. With the 2006 midterm elections looming, some are even suggesting that Bush is leaving his base with little reason to support his party. To be sure, the political rumblings caused by this nomination may last for years to come. MR

October and Ann Arbor’s annual housing scramble By Tom Church ‘09


all break is over. That means it is time for some good old fashioned apartment hunting. If you thought midterms were not enough, shopping for an apartment in Ann Arbor will teach you the real meaning of the word stress. Currently students are forced to look for housing for the following year a month or two after they move into college. Students who already have an apartment are forced to resign their lease or forfeit their apartment for the following year. Does that sound a little screwy to you? The problems abound with the current system, and soon something will be done about it. The main gripe that students have about the current lease signing situation is that first year students who want to live in an apartment their second year are forced to sign leases for apartments with students that they barely know. Face it, many first year students hang out with whoever lives around them for the first few months in college – students who they would not be friends with or get along with in a normal environment. As the year goes on, students drift towards

other students more like themselves. So what happens? The first year students sign up for a lease with other students that they do not know and then live they together when a much easier solution would present itself a little bit later down the road. The same situation stands with the Greek system as well. Part of the reason why Greeks refuse to push fall rush back to the winter is because many students would already be locked into housing contracts for the forthcoming year. Pushing the lease signing back might make the Greeks consider a later rush, and let students get to know each other and the Greek houses before rushing. This problem is basically a failure in the marketplace. The students perceive that there is a shortage of supply of apartments and then run out extremely early in the year. Landlords get the better end of the deal. They know almost ten months in advance which apartments will be filled and can plan accordingly. Landlords currently have no incentive to push pack the lease signing. The frantic demand also mitigates their need to provide up to date sanitary and living standards. Some landlords provide housing with old

wiring that needs to be redone, but fail to do so because students will pay rent regardless of what shape the house is in. Hold onto something. MSA may come through for students on this one. The External Relations Committee (ERC) has been working with Major Hieftje extensively to remedy the situation. In the proposal under consideration, lease signings would be pushed back to sometime in December. Hieftje made it an issue all the way back in 2004 when he ran for the mayoral position and he has brought it up at different times since then. Hieftje has put off action because he claims he wanted to make sure that he really has the support of the students. ERC has made it one of its main priorities and is committed to showing the mayor that students do care. Thursday October 27th, ERC will be out in the Diag with cell phones so students can call the mayor’s office and leave a voicemail letting him know. Many students call foul on the mayor and city council because many issues dealing with students are dealt with when students return home in the summer. Some of the policies that the council has brought over the summer that affected students were changes

to parking policies on residential streets and the couch ban which was taken up last year. Along with going after the lease signing issues, MSA has also taking steps to help students with legal problems that often happen with their land lords. In July of this year MSA successfully lobbied the University Regents for a fee increase of $.50 for Student Legal Services (SLS) to hire an attorney to specifically deal with housing issues. According to MSA president Jesse Levine, an attorney is expected to be hire in the next 30 days. Pushing the lease signing back is a welcome change to the current system of housing. It is the first step to remedying the false perception that students cannot get housing unless they sign leases in the few months after they get here. MSA has a much greater chance to pull this off than earlier attempts. This may be one of the few times where students end up thanking MSA, not cursing it. MR

the michigan review

Page 10

October 25, 2005

Campus Affairs

Where Soul Meets Body

Death Cab Rocks Michigan Theater By Amanda Nichols ‘08


nn Arbor on a Friday night can be a very interesting place. College students trickle from house to house wearing incredibly impractical shoes or tightfitting throwback t-shirts (or both). Thirtysomethings kick back outside Espresso Royale or behind the front window of Potbelly, reliving some memory lost long ago. Teens still in braces pace in front of Starbucks and Urban Outfitters, trying to soak up some of the collegiate mystique to carry back to high school on Monday morning. Now imagine these three groups converging in one small, dark theater to see the same band. A Seattlebased alt-pop-indie-rock band that somehow fits each person’s different definition of “good” music, a group for which each is willing to sacrifice (or at least postpone) their traditional Friday night rituals. It could only happen when Death Cab for Cutie comes to town. This was just the situation on October 14, when Death Cab visited Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater in promotion of their most recent album, Plans. This is their first album released by a major label (Atlantic); all previous discs were released through independent label Barsuk Records, whose other artists include Aqueduct, Rilo Kiley, and They Might Be Giants. But, when listening to Plans, one recognizes no difference—the transition is seamless. The songs are still sometimes catchy, sometimes haunting, and always beautifully melodious. Although on all previous albums, frontman Ben Gibbard (also a member of The Postal Service and for-

merly of All-Star Quarterback) penned the band’s tunes, guitarist Chris Walla put his songwriting chops to the test with “Brothers on a Hotel Bed.” Although longtime Death Cab fans may still favor Gibbard’s ballads, Walla’s debut fits perfectly on Plans and into the rest of the band’s repertoire; it could easily pass as a Gibbard original creation, and it might be the best song on Plans. Yes, things are a-changin’ for Death Cab these days, but rest assured: they haven’t sold out. Their concert proves they’re the same musically-driven band they’ve always been. After the opening act, Youth Group (whose music sounded reminiscent of the headliner’s earlier projects), cleared the sparsely decorated set, anxious fans waited for Death Cab to take the stage. When they finally did at just after 9, the crowd rose to its feet and excitedly welcomed the band back to the Ann Arbor area. Death Cab kicked off the evening with “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” a relatively upbeat ditty that also serves as the new album’s first track, and then played two more songs before addressing the crowd. No one seemed to mind, though; the audience was there for the music, not the band’s geeky (but entirely natural) bobbing dance shuffles. Besides, it’s easier to accept that the cherubic, soft-spoken voice is coming from a large adult man when he’s singing rather than speaking. Perhaps Gibbard knows this as well, for he only humbly thanked the crowd after each song and bid them adieu “with a kiss on the cheek” before the encore. It’s not often anymore that a musical act can

recreate the studio sound in a live atmosphere, but somehow Death Cab is able to sound almost identical to their albums without the use of any backup tracks or recording. Although the concert focused much on Plans—they played the whole album—Death Cab did indulge the crowd in some older favorites. Reactions to “Title and Registration,” “The Sound of Settling,” and “I was a Kaleidoscope” were resoundingly enthusiastic, but the crowd became perhaps most passionate in response to “Transatlanticism,” the third (and final) song of the encore. However, Death Cab has ended their past four shows in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area with “Transatlanticism,” so if there can be any criticism of the evening, it is only that they need to pick a new encore for the returning fans. How this eight-year-old quartet of Gibbard, Walla, Nick Harmer (bass), and Jason McGerr (drums) has gained such an eclectic crowd with only rich lyrics and bare stages (save some flashing lights) has something to do with a little television show called The OC. Main character (and resident geeky dreamboat) Seth Cohen is an avid Death Cab fan; thus, their music is frequently featured and the band even played a concert on the show last season. But don’t let this pop culture exposure serve as a deterrent; it may explain the initial hook for teenage girls and even some college students, but Death Cab’s amazing music is really what keeps anyone interested. MR

YAF on the UN

National Sovereignty Day to Protest United Nations Flag By Yevgeny Shrago ‘09


or most students, Monday, October 24 is just another day. They will spend it recovering from the weekend and going to class, like any other Monday. A few might notice the United Nations flags flying around campus, though they will probably not realize that it is UN Day, a holiday created by presidential proclamation to commemorate the formation of the United Nations in 1945. They will proceed with their daily lives, unaffected by a holiday that has no bearing on them. Then they will cross the Diag, and see a different view. They will notice a UN flag unlike the ones that have been flying around campus. It will be defaced with slogans written in red marker. It will be trampled, dirtied and disgusting. It will be surrounded by a group of students commemorating a different sort of holiday. October 24 is also National Sovereignty Day (NSD). The Campus Leadership Program (CLP) created national Sovereignty Day. This division of the conservative

think-tank, The Leadership Institute, United States. is, according to their website, trying to The conservative group put“foster permanent, effective, conserva- ting on this event is Young Americans tive student organizations on college for Freedom (YAF). YAF has had a nocampuses across America.” For existing table presence on campus last year for conservative groups, they provide a va- example they held a protest on the GEO riety of programs to increase awareness strike. YAF vice chair Clark Ruper was of the CLP’s objectives. Among these one of the organizers of the event. He is Conservative Coming Out Day, which describes the event as a way to stress the led to a protracted series of editorials in ineffectiveness of the United Nations. “I the Daily. don’t think the [United Nations] encour The planning packet for NSD ages world peace but just more conflict,” opens with a cover said Ruper. letter from Michael The major G. New, a court-maractivity planned tialed, dishonorably for NSD by YAF discharged soldier is the protest of who refused to parthe UN flag flyticipate in a United ing above Ann -Ann Arbor resident Karl Sowislo Nations peacekeepArbor city hall ing effort in Maceto commemorate donia n 1995. He the United Naimplores readers to tions. According “keep their sons and to Ruper, flying daughters from becoming cannon fodder the UN Flag with the American Flag is for a New World order.” The packet then an insult to the country. The CLP manual proceeds to suggest a variety of ways to suggests defacing the flag with red paint protest against any group that seeks to to symbolize those who have died on UN impose international standards on the peacekeeping missions. YAF will do this

“I’m extreme...I’m down for anything!”

with red marker instead. The packet instructs the organizers to have a sign up sheet for those who believe that America is equal to other countries, and then to offer them a one way ticket to Iraq, North Korea or the Sudan. The packet repeatedly lumps all opponents of its agenda as leftists, equating support of American involvement of the UN as Communism in a suggested flier for the rally. The mock fact sheets rehash the participation of accused Communists from the height of McCarthyism. The secondary purpose of NSD is to serve as a recruiting event. The Campus Leadership Program packets stresses the usefulness of this day, as well as other events, to gaining membership, instructing them to take down the names and e-mail addresses of everyone who agrees, and actively solicit. What’s next for YAF? Look for them to be protesting the BAMN rally on October 27. According to YAF’s sources inside of BAMN, Al Sharpton may be there. There will also be more from the CLP. MR

Page 11

the michigan review Book Review/Opinion

Book Review: Kremlin Rising

By Kole Kurti ‘09

I’m not blaming Stalin. I am proud of him,” Tanya, a Russian high school student, says to her teacher’s dismay. Tanya defends everything from the Bolshevik Revolution to Lenin to Stalin’s gulags, and she is not alone. In this typical Russian high school history class, much of what the students say seems to come straight from old Soviet propaganda fliers, despite the fact that all of them were toddlers when the Soviet Union fell. The most democratic individual in the classroom is the teacher, who grew up under Communism This is the Russia we are introduced to in Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of the Revolution, in which Peter Baker and Susan Glasser give us an inside look at Russia today and Vladimir Putin’s ever-important role in the erosion of its democracy. Their Russia is a land of stark contradictions where the Communist system may have disappeared but the Communist mentality lives on. It was taken for granted that Russia would slowly drag its feet towards democracy when instead it has embarked on a dangerous path towards authoritarianism while the outside world and even Russia’s own citizens have barely blinked. In Kremlin Rising, we see a nation stuck between two worlds. Gone are the days of the ‘90s, where everything foreign was good and people eagerly embraced “chaotic capitalism,” as Putin refers to it. Now, as the authors make clear, democracy is a dirty word in Rus-

■ The Deep End


ollege students have commitment issues. We are said to suppose to saunter into our collegiate career with an unspoken understanding that, for the four years or so, our undergraduate education is to be a time when we can safely examine ideas at a distance, getting a taste for what the world has to offer, and making conclusions about that which best explains the world around us. This highly idealized vision of the academy, though, hardly belies the reality on the ground. The typical atmosphere of a college campus today is one of reticence towards embracing definitive conclusions about anything, and a similarly reluctant attitude to even put in the effort to thoughtfully explore much else in the realm of ideas. This lack of willpower to explore philosophy and ideas is perhaps one of our greatest generational flaws. David Brooks, the conservative New York Times columnist, but hardly a moralist, writes of our generation in his book On Paradise Drive, “When you talk to them about character, you notice that they are hesitant to say anything definitive, as if any firm statement about which lifestyle choice is conducive to firm character development might break the code of civil-

sia, associated with the widespread corruption and instability of the previous decade. In the Russian mind, the experiment of democracy has failed, and it is time for a change in the system. Many look back with a kind of paranoid nostalgia to the “good old Soviet days,” when they imagine they were better off. This is what makes the rise of a former KGB agent to power so frightening: it was not a random man’s selfish power grab, but rather the very logical fruition of the frustrations of the Russian people. Baker and Glasser go into great detail to show how Putin created a Potemkin democracy. Vladimir Putin made sure to stress democracy in his first inauguration speech back in 2000 and presented himself as a truly liberal individual, yet he immediately set out to dismantle the revolution of the 1990s. The television stations may have fancy graphics, but they are all stateowned and have state-controlled scripts; even independent newspapers fear stepping out of line. The justice system has judges and juries, but 99.3% of defendants are found guilty. Elections have multiple candidates, yet the results have already been determined. The Parliament has opposition parties, but they are all subservient to Putin. Putin presents his government as reformist and modern, yet he has filled it with former KGB spies who express no remorse for their past deeds. There is, however, a general sense that Putin has brought order to Russia, and most appear willing to accept greater stability in exchange for less freedom.

October 25, 2005

What makes Kremlin Rising such a remarkable book is how the authors have managed to cover all of the important national issues in Russia today and yet, at the same time, have given us a very intimate look at the lives of individuals. The authors describe the massacre in Beslan, and at the same time introduce us to a mother of children who died in the school. The vast differences between glitzy Moscow, where a staggering proportion of the country’s wealth is concentrated, and the provinces are explained in detail, and we are also introduced to Tatyana. She lives in Moscow and makes $1,500 a month while her brother, who still lives in their hometown of Mokshan, makes $70. Such stories are what really set this book apart from others. They give you a glimpse of life in Russia that monotonous studies and statistics never could. Kremlin Rising is eye-opening and insightful; Baker and Glasser clearly have a masterful understanding of the current situation in Russia. The book does not give solutions to Russia’s problems, but it does allow the reader to see exactly how they managed to occur. What is clear from Kremlin Rising is that the democratic revolution is over, and a new authoritarian devolution has taken its place. Putin did not even bother to mention the word democracy in his second inauguration speech. He did, however, mention the fall of the Soviet Union. He referred to it as a “national tragedy on a colossal scale.” MR

What Are We So Afraid Of? ity.” In short, we are a generation that has become morally illiterate, and willfully so. The problem, to be clear, is not one so much of students not believing in and fighting for the right ideas and causes, respectively. That serves as nothing more than tired fighting words, and an overlyMichael simplistic reduction of O’Brien many of life’s questions. The far direr problem, in our case, isn’t that we are coming to wrong conclusions—it’s that we are not interested very much in being conscientious in thinking about complex issues. Ours is a state of being where we can easily expound the value of, say, a “socially just” world. Hardly any person of any ideological stripe would deny that “justice,” as an abstract concept, is a bad condition in societies and cultures. We have, all too often, an unwillingness to explore in much depth the pressing questions of meaning that ideas represent. We’re taught all too often what value is. But unless a student becomes adventurous and endeavors to take philosophy

classes, we often lack the knowledge to know how to think about what value is. Tolerance is an important principle to embody. It means respecting that people have taken the time and effort to commit to certain ideals and lifestyles, even if profound points of disagreement exist. But tolerance and a firm commitment to one’s own principles need not be mutually exclusive. Many on campus argue that standards of right and wrong can only be self-applicable, and that these values are only relative; we have no right to impose our beliefs on others. But to hold a value for oneself needn’t be an affirmative restraint on others’ belief or practices all the time. Objective standards of value should be the primary determinant of our actions. But our generation has largely fallen into the paradoxical situation of arguing that the only objective rule for humanity is that there are no objective rules for humanity. Which brings us back to commitment. College students are reluctant to even try to look for coherent philosophies of life, let alone live them out. In many a student’s mind, enduring principles and the autonomy of college life are necessarily and irreconcilably at odds. Rue the day that we stumble upon something that we

hold firmly to be true, and have to integrate that philosophy into our daily lives! Having options is very important to the newly-liberated student, but it also means thoughtful, conscientious consideration of what the options and choices around us mean in a more transcendent sense, and not just a pragmatic one. But the idea that embracing conclusions about life is alienating to ourselves and others ignores that the actions we take and the choices we make have broad implications. The important point here is that before we can even have a credible conversation in society or on campus about what is right and wrong, we must indulge ourselves to investigate what truth is and what it means. This, though, is hardly an exhortation to ideological or philosophical uniformity. The imperfect nature of the human condition dictates that it’s impossible to ever reach this metaphorically asymptotic point. But students, of all people, should never be discouraged from coming to thoughtful conclusions about values, and then being prepared to live those principles out. It’s the first step away from our illiterate state. MR

the michigan review


derived from church-state rulings over the last 40 years, to determine the constitutionality of the Pledge – namely the “Lemon” test, “endorsement test,” and the “coercion test.” Thus, instead of determining whether the Pledge was compatible with the First Amendment, the 9th Circuit Court addressed compatibility with interpretations which forbid a much wider range of activities. For example, it is hard to argue that the optional recitation of two words in a patriotic pledge constitutes an “establishment” of a religion, or inhibit the “free exercise” of any religion. The court however, in striking down the pledge, made a number of suspect statements, arguing that “in the context of the Pledge, the statement that the United States is a nation ‘under God’ is an endorsement of religion.” The court also ruled that the Pledge may “reasonably appear to be an attempt to enforce a ‘religious orthodoxy’ of monotheism,” and thus failed the coercion test. Thus, one can see how modern-day church-state rulings rely heavily on precedents set, and not necessarily the Constitution. Modern-day strict constructionists, and many conservatives, may find Justice Potter Stewart’s 1962 Engel dissention much more compelling: “The Court does not hold, nor could it, that New York has interfered with the free exercise of anybody’s religion. For the state courts have made clear that those who object to reciting the prayer must be entirely free of any compulsion to do so, including any ‘embarrassments and pressures’…With all respect, I think the Court has misapplied a great constitutional principle. I cannot see how an

October 25, 2005


‘official religion’ is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it.” Instead of interpreting the words of the Constitution, judges now examine whether a government act has a “religious intent,” or can be “reasonably interpreted” to be a government “endorsement” of a particular religion, and consider the “feelings of disapproval” felt by nonbelievers. Michael Newdow, who filed the Pledge lawsuit on behalf of his daughter, argued that his daughter was “harmed” as she had to “watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in ritual proclaiming that there is a God, and that our’s [sic] is ‘one nation under God.’” Apparently, this “harm” was all that was needed to strike down the pledge. But while strict constructionists can make a strong argument against the slippery slope of religious hostility in the public sphere, true strict constructionists, contrary to popular belief, may have a much harder time arguing against issues such as abortion, sodomy, or physician assisted suicide. If we examine the paramount case in this situation – Roe v. Wade in 1973, legalizing abortion – we can see holes in the strict constructionist argument. Traditional constitutionalist arguments allege that the Supreme Court has “found” rights in the Constitution – to abortion, sodomy, etc. – that simply do not exist. In fact, omitting citations of precedent, Roe reads as follows: “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy….This right of privacy…is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” Those who favor a literal reading of the constriction certainly have an argument against this passage.


anti-ID crowd are upset with the idea of teaching alternatives to the accepted norm, to teach a critical analysis of evolutionary theory. In their opinion, all the proponents of Intelligent Design are doing is clouding the waters so they might confuse children into becoming creationists. This movement to prohibit the teaching of an “unaccepted” scientific theory is decidedly illiberal. At one point in time, mainstream science supported such “truths” as: the world was flat, white people were a genetically superior race, blood-sucking leeches were a cure for nearly any disease, that smoking was a soothing and healthy practice, etc. The point is not to undermine all science as “bunk,” and to revert to a scientific Luddism, denouncing every advance in learning. Rather, history has shown that what is most effective for society is a healthy skepticism, an always-probing mind, and a willingness to look “outside the lines” for solutions to problems, instead of a blind memorization of the facts of accepted modern practices. In an article for October 17th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Jonathan Malesic writes about the tension between teaching the truth and

The problem with Roe – and cases in general where “judicial activists” have “found” rights that do not exist – is that once judges prohibit government action by “finding” rights for individuals, they must do the same to justify restraining the government on other issues. Thus, the court must “find” a right to Sodomy, abortion, death, or privacy, when striking down laws deemed unconstitutional. Thus, “strict” constructionists can argue that “judicial activists” should not “find” rights that do not exist, and that a return to a literal reading of the Constitution would inherently permit the government to restrain acts such as abortion and sodomy. A much stronger argument can be made by true strict constructionists. Those who really favor a strict interpretation of the constitution argue that the document was devised to restrict the power of the federal government. Its powers were explicitly listed and granted, and other powers were left to the states. In terms of individual rights, numerous rights were listed, but most importantly, the document specified that the fact that certain rights were not listed did not mean that they did not exist. In short, judges should not have to “find” rights for individuals, but should generally restrict the government to powers explicitly designated to it – namely the duty to protect life, liberty and property. And Roe v. Wade does weigh abortion against the state’s right to protect life. The majority opinion, while not attempting to answer the question of when life begins, does look at the rights of the fetus, arguing “the law has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life, as we recognize it, begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except

indoctrination: “There is a continuum that runs from cultivating in students a healthy desire to know, through instilling certain cultural and intellectual tastes, to taking advantage of their openmindedness by feeding them the ideological catchphrases that rest like foam atop our considered opinions. It’s easy to slide along that continuum, as the line separating education from indoctrination is poorly defined. . . Despite our temptation (it’s our job, after all) to interpret texts, art objects, and past events for our students, to tell them how things stand in the world of ideas so that they can thereby adopt the right ideas and tastes, there is a point in every course where it has to be up to the students to interpret those things. In those moments, we teach best by letting go.” Although there are many claims made for “personal freedom” in the realm of politics, sexual orientation, or religion, the arena of academics is often left out of the discussion. Just like an individual’s choice to worship whichever God they choose, how someone interprets scientific data is a choice as well. When we become more concerned with censoring the public discourse for “acceptable” ideas to be taught rather than personal freedom in schools, the great “liberal education” we all seek has been lost. MR

when the rights are contingent upon live birth.” However, the court did recognize state interest in preserving both the life of the mother, and potential life. Hence, the court devised a system of “trimesters,” (later invalidated by Planned Parenthood v. Casey) to stipulate when the government could and could not regulate abortion, based on its interests in preserving life. To summarize, the court rightfully examined whether the state had an interest in regulating abortion, and when it could and could not do so. Therefore, the finding of a “right to privacy” was not critical to the Court’s ruling. Instead of individuals having to possess specific rights to guarantee liberty, the court could have easily stated that the state had no interest in regulating certain abortion procedures. This could have been done by simply examining and interpreting the Constitution – the procedure touted by so many strict constructionists. The Supreme Court has set a dangerous precedent – essentially asserting that the government has the power to limit individual liberties so long as a specific “right” to that freedom is not explicitly granted to its citizens. Furthermore, any modern-day politician (aside from Libertarians) who professes to be a strict-constructionist is highly suspect. No intellectual who supports a strict interpretation of the Constitution could possibly participate in a Congress which passes bills such as this summer’s massive transportation pork bill. As is the norm with politicians, many do not really want the Constitution interpreted in a single fashion; they want it interpreted their way. MR

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