The Soapbox March 2009
Volume VI Issue 4 Exclusive Interview: Governor Rendell A Satire on the Gay Marriage Debate ‘Change’ Through South African Lenses
Letter From the Editor Let me tell you about David, one of my best friends in high school. We hung out for an hour and half on the bus each day, for three years. David was very personable if you knew him, generous, and agreeable. He also drew hearty laughter out of everyone around him. The joke of the day, everyday, was that David was “lame”. Why was the bus late? Because David was “lame”. Why did David flunk his physics test? Because he was “lame”. Immature? Definitely. But David laughed along, and so did I. David worked hard for his grades, and got into the top-ranked Canadian university. I came down to the States. During my sophomore year winter break, I was hanging out with David when I suddenly had the compulsion to ask, “So, how did you feel about those jokes back in high school?” He said, “Pretty bad. I just went home and cried.” I was gutted by his response. Fun and jokes? No? A few weeks later, David abruptly stopped answering phone calls. One year later, I found out that he had dropped out of university, and had been shutting himself away for months. I haven’t seen him since that winter break. I’m still haunted by the wrenching thought that if I had only asked him how he felt back in high school… How much of our daily intentions are genuine, and how much are superficial? Rudyard Kipling once wrote that we should dream, but dreams may become our master. During a recent trip to the UN, I found time to visit Dr. Michael Doyle, who was a Special Policy Advisor for Kofi Annan. Dr. Doyle was one of the principal drafters of the Millennium Development Goals, a set of 8 goals aimed to improve the quality of lives of the poor around the world. They were the same set of goals that I had been lobbying UN delegates to implement for the past 3 years. But when I asked Dr. Doyle why they had not been implemented, he put it simply, “[Diplomats] all like the big photo op in New York… but they preferred not to have any pressure.” To anyone who has ever been curious about politics and social issues, Dr. Doyle’s words inevitably beg the question, “why bother?” From David, I learned that we better say and do something before it is too late.
Bob Ma (W’10)..........................Editor-in-Chief Ned Shell (C’12).............Senior Managing Editor e Maya Perl-Kot (C’10)..Associate Managing Editor Rachel Thomas (C’11)...............General Manager Patrick Stedman (C’10).........................Treasurer Nantina Vgontzas (C’11)..................Senior Editor Gideon Spitzer (C’11)......................Senior Writer
Greg Rollman (C’11), Bill Shotzbarger (C’10),
Nantina Vgontzas (C’11)
Editors Anne-Garland Berry (C’10), Janice Dow (C’11) Associate Editors Emily Blecker (C’12), Laura Drossner (C’09), Alex Melamed (C’11), Maya Perl-Kot (C’10), Ariela Rosenberg (C’12), Joel Tee (C’12) Copy Editors Sarah Heinz (C’12), Alisan Oliver-Li (C’10)
Senior Writers Josh Rittenberg (C’11), Gideon Spitzer (C’11),
Patrick Stedman (C’10) Staff Writers John Gee (C’12), Ned Shell (C’12), Bill Shotzbarger (C’10), Rachel Thomas (C’11) Associate Writers Patrick Bradley (C’10),Wenceslao G. Matos (C’11), Abdulaziz AlMulla (C’11), Elena Stein (C’10), Vanessa-Faith Daubman (N’10)
Art & Photography
Siede Coleman (C’11), Chiyel Hayles (C’11), Leroy Wilkes (C’09), Allison Zuckerman (C’12), Jonathan Coveney (W’09, E ’09), Janice Dow (C’11)
Business & Public Relations
Sarah Boice (A’10), Sunita Desai (C’09), Rachel Thomas (C’11),
Alicia Puglionesi (C’09), Bob Ma (W’10), Rachel Thomas (C’11) Copyright 2008 The Soapbox. It is forbidden to make any reproductions, in whole or in part, without the express consent of The Soapbox.
Bob Ma Editor-in-Chief
The Soapbox gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors: The Soapbox is an independent student publication of the University of Penn sylvania. We strive to provide a balanced and nonpartisan publication that critically examines relevant social, economic, and political issues. All articles are chosen by a Board of Editors based on argumentative merit and relevance. All opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and do not in !"#$!#%&'(')*%*+'%,-.".,"/%,&%*+'%'"0,&/'1'"*%,2%*+'%30.*,&/4
The Soapbox, March 2009
4 Interview: Governor Ed Rendell 5 Through South African Lenses 6 Cracks in the Glass Ceiling 7 Is T.A.R.P. a Good Step to End the Recession? 8 Guantánamo: A Necessary Complication 9 Is Obama the Republicans’ Only Problem? By Rachel Thomas By Elena Stein
By Rachel Thomas
By Patrick Bradley
By Wenceslao G. Matos By Bill Shotzbarger
Global 10 Interview: Michael Doyle 11 Europe’s Russian War 12 Students Clash Over Middle-East 13 Poem: Dear Gaza Anne-Garland Berry & Bob Ma By Patrick Stedman
By Bob Ma & Nantina Vgontzas By Marwa Ibrahim
Social 13 Blue Blood: Foundations of Aristocracy 14 8 Reasons Why Prop 8 “Saved” America 15 Drunk Teenagers Don’t Melt the Ice Caps By Abdulaziz Al Mulla By Ned Shell
By John Gee
The Soapbox, March 2009
Chilling with Ed Rendell “only a smart, Jewish lawyer can get us out of it” By Rachel Thomas
from some of the things that were done well in the past.
itting in the conference room, waiting for an interview, The Soapbox can hear the voice of Governor Ed Rendell echoing down the hall. Rendell strolls in, carrying only a red Dixie cup, a napkin, and a pen, pausing for a second before grabbing a phone from the corner of the room. Before we get to talking, Rendell makes a quick call to discuss the budget, tossing millions of dollars to different organizations, as if he’s deciding where to go for lunch in an hour. The Pennsylvania Governor and Penn alum (CAS ’65) puts down the phone, and starts talking to The Soapbox about various subjects. Amidst going off on the occasional tangent, Rendell discusses his experiences at Penn as a Pi Lambda brother, and how events of his life shape the kind of politician he is today. The Soapbox, even got a glimpse of what retirement may look like for the Pennsylvania native when his term as Governor expires in 2010.
Any memorable moments? Well, in 1968, when I was in law school (not at Penn), both Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy came to the Palestra within a month of each other, and that was really exciting. Actually, the most practical lesson of my years around Penn was when I was directing the Hillary Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania this year—we needed a spot for our closing rally the day before the primary at the Palestra. It was just incred ible: Chelsea spoke, the President spoke, it was awesome. Remembering the McCarthy
Can you tell us about your time at Penn? What kind of person were you back then? I was a political science major, and I had a bad habit of not paying attention to the courses that didn’t interest me. But I paid a lot of attention to the courses that I liked, and I did very well in those, and not so well in the others. I was elected vice president of student govern ment and ran my junior year for president and lost. I was in a fraternity, I was in friars, but student government was basically the thrust of my extracurricular activities. And, you know, I made some very good friends there, many of whom are my closest friends today, so that was probably my most valu able experience of all. And of course there’s so much you can learn about government by looking back and not only not repeating the mistakes of the past, but also learning
I wanted to try to do something about the root causes. It never occurred to me to go into the private sector, probably because I came from a middle class family and we had never wanted for anything. Even after 3"#$%$#$,+$4#9#-+1+2#7+:8#%-"#5-%-/,%:#;2+' sure or any need to accumulate things. So I decided I wanted to try to do something to affect poverty and good education, and to me this place was Governor. Who were biggest forces to push you to keep trying in politics? Well really it came from internally and probably from the things I was taught from my dad when I was young. Both my desire to serve and my belief that I could serve well. But after "0)#:0'+#8&0#(,*(#;205:+#+:+/ tions its very hard to get back up and try again, the media brands you as a loser in very cruel terms—it isn’t a very happy experience. Interesting story—in 1990, I came home from work and I stopped to get, I forget, probably a chees esteak. And as I was waiting for my order, I saw this older, poor, Irish woman. She kept :006,-*#%8#3+4#%-$#5-%::"#'(+# said “Are you Rendell?” And I said, “Yes mam,” and she said, “Well are you going to run for mayor?” And I said, pretty truthfully, “I don’t know, what do you think?” I must have taken her aback, and she rubbed her chin, then after about 30 seconds she said, “You have to. This city is so screwed up”—she didn’t use screwed up—“that only a smart, Jewish lawyer can get us out of it.” And I decided if she knew that, then I had a real chance to win. So, obviously, your desire to serve, but your desire to serve is in the context of how 80)*(#,8#,'#80#2)-#702#075/+#%-$#(0P)*(#,8# is to lose—thank God I haven’t lost since.
Photo by Jonathan Coveney and Kennedy rallies made me choose the Palestra. What led you to go into politics? My dad, who died when I was 14, was a huge believer in the Democratic Party. !"#$%$#&%'#%#()*+#,-.)+-/+#01+2#3+4#%-$# so I had that interest, but when I went to law school, I had a Criminal Law profes sor who was so inspiring, that within four 02#51+#&++6'#07#8(+#/0)2'+4#9#-+	#&%-8+$# to practice criminal law. I was elected Dis trict Attorney and I never thought those days about running for governor or mayor, but you cant help realize, and it sinks in slowly, that you are dealing with problems after they have been created. So I decided
When it was mentioned that you may have been a possible candidate for Vice President, you said you weren’t interested, stating that you “like to be your own boss.”
The Soapbox, March 2009
National Some people say, “Well I’m too busy.” No you’re not.
What did you mean by that? Well, it was somewhat of an acci $+-8%:# 82,;# ,-80# 3"# 52'8# +:+/8+$# 075/+4# '0# here I was at 32, elected as District Attorney 80#(+%$#%-#+<+/)8,1+#075/+#,-#*01+2-3+-84# and then for most of the rest of my working life, I was my own boss. And, if you’ve been "0)2#0&-#@0''#702#%#:0-*#8,3+4#,8'#$,75/):84#,7# not impossible, to turn around and work for somebody. You know when President Bush used the sort of inartful term, that he was “The Decider,” that’s actually true. It would @+#$,75/):8#702#3+#80#')@A)*%8+#3"#@+:,+7#02# my opinion to someone else. In the role of Vice President, you have to toe the line, and although its gotten me in a lot of trouble in my political career, although its also been the source of my continuing popularity, I tell the truth. Well the President doesn’t want a Vice President—and I don’t want to be a Vice President that’s disloyal to the President. So I think one of the most impor tant things in life, as well as politics, is that you’ve got to know yourself, and you’ve got to make decisions that are consistent with who you, are and what you believe in, and what you want to do. I just don’t think id be a good Number Two man.
Sometimes a politician has a policy that might go against the moral compass of their constituents. How would you justify a policy that might go against this? Well, it’s very hard to accurately gauge what the moral compass of your constituents is. And one person’s moral compass is 180 degrees away from another person’s moral compass. Well which moral compass is right? You have to make a deci sion on that. The most important thing I would say to you is, in almost every deci sion you make, there are almost no black and white decisions, everything is gray, and you’re choosing among alternatives.
!"# $%# &"'()(*%'*# +)*,# -"./(%012# 3'4# *)5%# to give back, and stay active politically— it’s the only way to effect and create real change in the political system. Is there anything you think you would be doing if you weren’t in politics? Well, in two years, it’s likely I wont be in politics, and what id like to do, is increase teaching, because I think teaching is public service. I do the sports television, which is fun—I want to do more of that. Id like to head up a foundation, I’d like to maybe write a book about my experiences. It wouldn’t be a serious book; I’d try to make it a funny book, which uses humor as a teaching vehicle. And then I’d probably like to set up a law practice where I take on interesting cases for people who are very challenged. So could I have done some of those things without having been Mayor or D01+2-02#52'84#;20@%@:"#-084#@)8#8(+2+#%2+# a lot of things I could have done. There are all sorts of ways to serve, and there’s a ton of ways to give back.
Would you like to give any advice to Penn students about life in general? Well, be true to yourself. Don’t try to force yourself into doing something that you’re not going to be comfortable with. I consider myself extremely lucky—I’ve spent basically 95% of my life in jobs helping ;+0;:+# %-$# ,8B'# %# 8+22,5/# 7++:,-*=# C02# 8(0'+# people who don’t get that feeling directly 7203# 8(+,2# A0@4# 9# %:&%"'# 8+::# 8(+3# 80# 5-$# time to do some sort of volunteer work.
American Politics Through South African Lenses Abroad student discusses the ‘change’ Obama has brought to South Africans’ perceptions of the US
By Elena Stein
understanding the enigma of South Africa was learning about the complexities of my own country. The experience brought forth a question many Americans have had to ask themselves while traveling abroad: Are we the exemplar for social, economic, political,
On my second day in the coun try, a new acquaintance began drilling me his past semester, I had the opportu about American aggression in Iraq. I con nity to study in South Africa, a coun sidered providing some information on try whose economic, political, and social the US’s nominal reasons for entering the dynamics have been woven in the legacy region before settling on something less of apartheid. I struggled to make confrontational. “Not all Americans '+-'+# 07# 8(+# 52'8# &02:$# ,-72%'82)/ 6"/# 7%/,87(# *,%# 3/(*# *)5%2# 5-# &08((58*%(# align themselves with American for ture amid third world development found my opinion on world affairs eign policy,” I offered. “Oh really?” problems, how one of the most pro worthwhile. he retorted. “So you didn’t agree with gressive constitutions in the world the US’s decision to bomb the World could yield such undemocratic politics, and religious freedom? Or are we the hege Trade Center?” and the invisibility of the HIV epidemic. All mon who directs international institutions It continued like this for the this was set amid the backdrop of endless in our own interest and arms the tyrants -+<8# 51+# 30-8('=# >8# 8(+# ?-,1+2',8"# 07# kilometers of radiant coastline that wind we chase, cloaking our foreign policy in the Cape Town, I sat in on a threeday lecture and twine from the Indian to the Atlantic, a mask of humanitarianism? series on the United States, where a bleak, stark contrast to the crime, corruption, and I never posed those questions humorless lecturer actually had the class racial tensions. aloud. But South Africans gave me their in stitches over how hypocritical, or even But even more fascinating than answers everyday. callous, our foreign policy sounded. Occa
The Soapbox, March 2009
National Cracks in the Glass Ceiling
Michelle Obama: Harvard grad, MominChief, or Michelle O?
sionally, the laughing would subside for a serious question: “But how is the US so committed to nuclear disarmament when it pioneered nuclear technology — and it’s the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons?” Jaws dropped over descriptions of Japanese internment camps; eyebrows rose during clips of the McCarthy hearings. It was frustrating to bear labels that had been conceived before I arrived: opinionated, loud, obnoxious, ethnocen tric. As a result of this enmity, I consciously tried to detach myself from my American ,$+-8,8"4# 82",-*# ,-'8+%$# 80# $+5-+# 3"'+:7# %'# simply a foreigner who had come to learn about South African culture. But on November 4th, it all changed. As Obama was declared victori ous, I learned that the international arena would not just view the administration as different but would view all Americans ,-# %# -+&# :,*(8=# C02# ;+2(%;'# 8(+# 52'8# 8,3+4# my classmates found my opinion on world affairs worthwhile. # I03+# 07# ,8# '++3+$# A)'8,5+$=# E)2# country is certainly transitioning, and given (0%2#0)2#,-.)+-/+#+<8+-$'4#8(,'#,'#'03+ thing we should take pride in. But I myself did not change, so why should I be treated any differently? Two days after the election, I struck up a conversation at a party with a young South African woman, who told me that she would not have bothered to talk to me three days prior. “Why? What would you have thought?” She looked me up and down smugly. I was wearing jeans and an oversized sweater. “Slut.” Slightly startled by the candor, I mustered out, “And what do you think of me now?” She cocked her head to the side and thought for a moment. “Maybe a slut, maybe sensible.” As peculiar as her comment was, it was indicative of something important: This shift in perceptions of Americans is not necessarily rational. I doubt that my experience was unique to South Africa; it seems that a new image of the American is being constructed all over the world. But if it is based on Obama and not American individuals, is it something we can uphold? Let’s try.
gloves and shoes during the inau guration ceremony. Some go as 7%2# %'# /%::,-*# 8(+# -+&# C,2'8# H%$"# “Michelle O,” in reference to Jac J)+:,-+# K+--+$"# E-%'','4# C,2'8# Lady of the Kennedy adminis tration and trendsetter of the 1960s. Jackie O was great, but I want Michelle to be more than just a fashion icon. I want her to be an idol for all young women hoping to lead successful and powerful lives. The 2008 Presidential +:+/8,0-# 2+$+5-+$# 8(+# 82%$, tional idea of Commander inChief. I think it is time we %:'0# /(%-*+# 0)2# ,$+%# 07# C,2'8# H%$"=#F,::%2"#L:,-80-#&%'#8(+#52'8# to start this transformation. In1992 during her husband’s campaign for President, Clinton made the infamous statement that she doesn’t “sit home and bake cookies.” This remark caused immense problems for her husband and ultimately resulted in Mrs. Clinton’s removal from the campaign spot light. After Bill was elected, Hillary again /(%::+-*+$# 82%$,8,0-# @"# 8%6,-*# %-# 075/+# ,-# 8(+#M+'8#M,-*4#'03+8(,-*#-0#C,2'8#H%$"#(%$# done before. However, as accomplished as she had become, Hillary still received criti cism for her actions throughout Bill’s Presi dency. Because of her ambition during her own presidential bid, Clinton was pegged as “calculated” and “insincere”—attributes not positively associated with a woman. Is this 8(+#82%$+N077#%#C,2'8#H%$"#3)'8#3%6+#,7#'(+# decides to lead a successful career while her ()'@%-$#,'#,-#075/+O# Understandably, Mrs. Obama made a personal decision be the selfpro claimed “MominChief”: the protector of daughters Sasha and Malia while they adjust to their new surroundings. However, I fear that if Mrs. Obama decides to take on another career within her husband’s admin istration, she will receive the same criticism Hillary Clinton did in the late 1990s. In our country there is a stigma %88%/(+$# 80# 8(+# 8+23# PC,2'8# H%$"=Q# R0# matter how far women have come over the
Art by Janice Dow By Rachel Thomas
ast year was one for the women. Politically, women made many leaps, ,-/:)$,-*#8(+#2,'+#07#8(+#52'8#1,%@:+#7+3%:+# presidential candidate – newly appointed Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. How ever, no matter how much we women pound on this theoretical glass ceiling, we are still many cracks away from busting through. Recently many newspaper articles have praised Michelle Obama’s elegance and style. Yet, people seem to have forgotten that she is also brilliant. An accomplished Princeton University and Harvard Law graduate, Mrs. Obama is the former Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hos pitals. However, since her husband was elected president, all people care about is what Michelle is wearing. I recently visited the Michelle E@%3%# ;%*+# 07# 8(+# F)75-*80-# G0'8# &+@ site, where all but two articles regarding the C,2'8# H%$"# &+2+# %@0)8# (+2# /:08(,-*4# '(0+'4# or hair. On another news site, I read an article titled “What Michelle Means to Me,” expecting to hear praise about her edu cation, professional success, or indepen dence, but found the author explaining how novel it was that Mrs. Obama wore green
The Soapbox, March 2009
National ;%'8#$+/%$+4#8(+2+#,'#'8,::#%#/0-.,/8#@+8&++-# being a successful businesswoman and a successful mother. We should not place Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, and Michelle Obama, the stylish mother and
wife, into two separate categories. Both are successful and powerful, and both share the same beliefs and goals for women in this country. Hopefully, over the next four years we will stop criticizing women for simulta
neously being mothers and having success ful careers because until we overcome this divide in our society, we will never be able to elect – or accept – a woman as President of the United States of America.
Bad assets to a weak economy
Is the Troubled Assets Relief Program a good step to leading us out of the recession? By Patrick Bradley
Months later, it is clear that Mr. Paulson’s injection of capital has been largely inef fective. Under the Bush Administration, T.A.R.P. has amounted to little more than giving corporate giants massive amounts of tax dollars with minimal restrictions or 01+2',*(8X# M%::# I82++8# 523'4# $+';,8+# 8(+,2# massive losses, still managed to dish out $20 billion in bonuses at the end of the year. Rather than issue loans, many banks hoarded the cash to counterbalance exces sive liabilities. President Obama, a proponent of T.A.R.P., has observed that “Many are frustrated by the results and rightfully so.” Having always sought to improve public perception of the rescue plan in its rhetoric, the Obama Administration is now attempting to frame T.A.R.P.’s efforts in a broader sense. They discuss
0-8('# (%1+# ;%''+$# ',-/+# 8(+# 52'8# ',*-'# 07# %# 5-%-/,%:# /2,','# 2,;;:+$# through markets across the globe. With the economy in depression today and recovery 7%2# 7203# ',*(84# /0-/+2-# %-$# ,::N/0-5$+-/+# about the future of our economy have per vaded both America’s wealthiest inves tors and the working families seemingly far removed from the realm of Wall Street 5-%-/+=# S)2,-*# 8(,'# $,75/):8# ;+2,0$4# 0-+# 7)- damental truth often overlooked is that the relationship between “Wall Street” and “Main Street” is incredibly symbiotic, and that trends in one sector of our economy can quickly converge within the other. This acknowledgement becomes especially dif 5/):8# &(+-# 5-%-/,%::"N'82%,-+$# &026+2'# are expected to part with their hardearned cash so that the federal government can @%,:#5-%-/,%:#,-'8,8)8,0-'#0)8#07#8(+,2#80<,/# investments. On Oct. 3, 2008 Congress approved C023+2# T2+%')2"# I+/2+8%2"# F+-2"# G%): son’s Troubled Assets Relief Program (T.A.R.P.) in a controversial, expedited revote. The plan called for $700 billion to be used in shoringup credit markets as the federal government purchased toxic assets – primarily mortgagebacked securities – that had been weighing on banks’ bal ance sheets, making it nearly impossible 702#8(+3#80#');;:"#%#72++#.0#/2+$,8=## Initially, Paulson intended to buy these troubled assets directly from banks to remove the volatile securities from the market. However, Mr. Paulson eventually decided that the Treasury would make direct investments into -,-+# :%2*+# @%-6'# &,8(# 8(+# 52'8# UVVW# billion, assuming that a large injection of capital would unravel tight credit constraints.
The Soapbox, March 2009
efforts to lower mortgage costs for hom eowners and allocate funds to small businesses in order to trigger job creation, while promising to issue further regula tions on banks receiving federal funds, in order to ensure transparent use of these funds an area in which the Bush adminis tration clearly failed. The Obama Administration has the 1+2"# $,75/):8# 8%'6# 07# '+::,-*# 8(+# >3+2, can public on this plan, and it is their task because there is no other option. The ,3;+-$,-*#,-'0:1+-/"#07#>3+2,/%B'#5-%-/,%:# institutions cannot be reversed with private capital. There isn’t a large enough source of money, and the hypothetical risk involved in buying up all of these troubled assets is largely insurmountable. To make it work, the Obama Administration must convince the American people that the underlying goal of restoring credit is vital to everyone, and not just to the tycoons on Wall Street. Beyond compromising the ability of banks and large corporations to obtain loans, a liquidity crisis will also affect small busi nesses and individual households. Most small restaurants and shops do not oper ate on a cash basis, and without favorable interest rates, are vulnerable to going out of business. This, along with the existing $,75/):8,+'#7%/+$#@"#:%2*+#/02;02%8,0-'4#(%'# massive implications for layoffs. President Obama needs to show the Ameri can people that giving money to big banks isn’t simply about enriching the rich, but is also a necessary step toward restoring 8(+# 72++# .0&# 07# /2+$,8# 8(%8# +-%@:+'# >3+2, cans to do what they like to do best – spend more money than they earn. President E@%3%#/%-#$+5-,8+:"#%//03;:,'(#8(,'# if he attaches simple strings to T.A.R.P.. Complete trans parency and limitations on executive pay are a good start.
Art by Siede Coleman
National Behind Which Bars?
What To Do With The Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay By Wenceslao G. Matos
Art by Chiyel Hayles
n January 22, 2009 President Obama signed an executive order which man dated the closure of the detention facilities at the Guantánamo Bay military base within a year. By doing so, he might have created a major foreign policy and national security issue. Although President Obama certainly has reasons to believe it is in his country’s best interest to terminate the use of the prison, the reality is that the Guantánamo Bay Prison must be reformed to make sure it conforms to the standards of American and international law, but must ultimately be kept open. There has been much debate over the legal ,8"# 07# 8(+# ;2,'0-+2'B# /0-5-+3+-8# ,-# 8(+# camp, as well as the methods used both to interrogate and try them. The Bush Admin istration used the prison to set up a parallel justice system to process those they consid ered “unlawful combatants” who, lacking uniforms and combat units, were deemed to be outside the Geneva Convention’s protec tion. The prisoners have been tried in spe cial military tribunals without several rights that are guaranteed to defendants under the U.S. Constitution (unconstitutional accord ,-*# 80# 8(+# I);2+3+# L0)28Y=# C)28(+2302+4# there have been repeated allegations of mis treatment and torture of detainees, causing national and global outrage and adding to the antiAmerican sentiment already perva sive in several parts of the world. There is no question that the U.S. government should not condone the use of torture or the infringement of its prison ers’ rights, not only because it is wrong in principle, but also because by doing so they contravene both American and international legislation and dampen the image of a super power that prides itself on the respect of civil liberties and the rule of law. However this does not mean that the prison should @+# +-8,2+:"# /:0'+$# $0&-4# %'# ,8# 7):5::'# %# 1+2"# important role of keeping potential terrorists and war criminals secluded where they can be questioned or maybe even tried without endangering American lives. The closure of the prison according to the executive order signed by President Obama implies the review of all the prison
ers’ status and the release of most of them back to their respective countries of origin, keeping only those set to face trial in the United States in custody. However there is no other facility ready to receive the pris oners in the mainland, and regardless of where they are housed, having potential terrorists within the U.S. still involves risk. T(,'#8(2+%8#,'#0-:"#3%*-,5+$#,7#8(+#;2,'0- ers publicly stand trial, as their mere pres ence could embolden terrorists groups to action. Another obstacle to Obama’s plan is political, as the relocation of the prisoners to a center in the mainland territory might be met with resistance from the local com munity. Therefore, if Obama’s plan is car ried out as intended, the U.S. will forfeit a facility fully capable of housing all the inmates in a safe location in exchange for a center in an unclear location within the U.S. territory, potentially involving civil ians. Instead it could continue to overhaul the military courts system while taking %$1%-8%*+# 07# 8(+# '82%8+*,/# @+-+58'# 077+2+$# by Guantánamo Bay’s location. The U.S. government should continue reviewing the detainees’ legal status and should eventu
ally free any prisoners against whom they do not have enough evidence. An alterna tive would be to try the indicted detainees in a military courtmartial as prisoners of war, which could allow the trials to take place at Guantánamo (away from civilians) with all the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In this way the United States would be able to safely process the prison ers while showing the world that it will not '%/2,5/+#,8'#:+*%:#%-$#302%:#,-8+*2,8"#80#$0# so. It is clear that Obama intends to send a message to the world that the United States intends to close the dark chapter of the abuses at Guantánamo Bay by shut ting down the prison camp. As a foreigner I can give credence to the importance of this task in order to restore the United States’ abroad appearance, which has been horri bly tainted by these episodes. However, in his rejection of the past administration’s shortcomings, President Obama shouldn’t reject what was arguably its guiding prin ciple: guaranteeing the physical integrity of the American citizens.
The Soapbox, March 2009
National Is Obama the Republicans’ Only Problem? Can Obama singlehandedly collapse the Republican Party as we know it? expanded by an average of 3.4% annually I+/0-$4#&,8(#%#)-,5+$#*01+2-3+-84#E@%3%# after the 1982 recession, the Republican has the ability to pass laws quickly through Party has generally been seen as the party both Houses of Congress, where the Demo with the best plan for growing our nation’s crats have substantial majorities, assuming economy. In 2008, Americans found them these laws are inline with the best interests selves in the midst of a credit crunch, with of our country and not only those of the a recession looming on the horizon. The median voter realized that the economi HOW 2008 HURT THE GOP: cally conservative policies of Bush and the Republican party – mainly tax cuts for The Presidency: Barack Obama wins 53% of the popu the wealthy and deregulation lar vote and 365 electoral votes to John in markets – were not work ing. Throughout the 2008 McCain’s 46% of the popular vote and election season, Obama 173 electoral votes. consistently lead McCain in public opinion polls about The Senate: whom Americans trusted Democrats gain control of both houses of more with the economy, and Congress, with 58 Senate seats and 255 in the middle of a recession seats in the House of Representatives he was able to win the gen eral election because he was The Voters: perceived as the candidate J)%:,5+$# 80# :+%$# )'# 0)8# 07# 63% of moderates vote for Obama CNN.com this economic mess. While the McCain campaign was 62% of voters say the economy is the worried about mundane most imporant issue of the election bbc.co.uk issues like how many houses the McCains owned, which newspapers Sarah Palin read, %-$#(0)/(#(+2#0)858'#/0'84#E@%3%B'#6+"# S+30/2%8,/#G%28"=#C,-%::"4#E@%3%B'#%$3,- '82%8+*,'8#S%1,$#><+:20$#2%-#%#-+%2#.%&:+''# istration must remain clean of any scandals campaign focused on a new direction for 02# )-A)'8# ;2%/8,/+'=# >:8(0)*(# C02@+'=/03# the U.S. If newly appointed Chief of Staff ranks Clinton as the most economically Rahm Emanuel and the rest of Obama’s prosperous president since World War cabinet can continue this success over the II, his legacy was severely tarnished by an next four years, it could be a long time until extramarital affair and the Republicans were able to win the White House in 2000. another Republican president is elected. Obama and the Democratic Party Of course, it’s extremely early to make such a statement about Obama’s colored the electoral map a darker shade of legacy. But it’s possible, even if dependent blue than we have seen in recent years. The 0-#%#-)3@+2#07#7%/802'=#C,2'84#8(+#UZVW#@,: median voter was leftofcenter, even in lion dollar bailout plan must be carefully states like Virginia and North Carolina. The crafted so that American tax dollars Republicans remain divided and searching are spent prudently to effectively for a new face of their party, despite naming jumpstart the economy and AfricanAmerican Michael Steele as Chair credit markets. That stimula man of the R.N.C. If Obama can stay true to tion would occur through tax his promises of change and new direction cuts and increased govern that resonated in voters’ minds, and most ment spending: Obama and importantly use discretionary spending to the Democrats pledge to sub successfully stimulate the economy and ',$,[+##'/,+-8,5/#2+'+%2/(4#3%6+# create jobs, it could be a long time until we rural areas more technologi '++#%-08(+2#\+;)@:,/%-#;2+',$+-8#,-#075/+= cally sound with faster internet, and work to organize health care records systems more effectively.
By Bill Shotzbarger
Art by Leroy Wilkes
he inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 was a monumental event in United States history, most impor 8%-8:"#@+/%)'+#,8#&%'#8(+#52'8#8,3+#%#&(,8+# man of European descent was not sworn in as president. Presidential posters that hang in history classrooms of American schools will forever look different from how they did when we were educated there. Never theless, Obama and the Democrats’ near perfect campaign and relatively large win could in fact say more about the Republican Party than about the Democrats. Addition ally, if the recession ends with Obama in 075/+4#,8#/0):$#3+%-#%#:0-*#;+2,0$#07#S+30 /2%8,/#)-,5+$#*01+2-3+-8= The Republican Party is currently split between the religious right and eco nomic conservatives, and the 2008 Repub :,/%-# G2,3%2"# '+%'0-# /0-523+$# 8(,'=# !,88# Romney and Rudy Giuliani, two strong candidates with ample experience govern ing and balancing budgets, were deemed too socially liberal and were rejected by the religious right. On the other hand, Mike Huckabee was never seen as a serious can didate for economic conservatives, and was only able to carry states in the Deep South and Midwest, along with West Virginia. S i n c e the success of Re agan o m ics in the 1980s, w h e n G D P
The Soapbox, March 2009
Global Talking With Michael Doyle #9"0)&-#:4;)("/#*"#<"3#:''8'2#=.($8'4#*"#:5-#>.*58'' By AnneGarland Berry & Bob Ma What is your thought on progress of the MDGs? Some are being met—basically on target, we’ll see what happens with this big recession we are heading into. The rate of growth in India and China—just about alone—was reducing the global proportion of poverty by what would be about by half by 2015 because India and China are so huge. There are others that are not meeting those goals—there’s been progress on education, but not enough. There has been progress in HIVAIDS, but not enough. Water is still an issue. While some regions are doing very well, Africa, Central Asia, are not doing well, and Central America is barely improving. The basic message is that we’re not halfway there yet except on this one global measure of poverty reproduction.
f you could tell me about your life before your professional career, a little back ground? I have always been interested in doing academics as well as public policy. I taught it Princeton for a long time. When I was on leave from Princeton, I served as Vice President at a small think tank in New York. I worked closely with the U.N. in 8(%8#2+*%2$=#9#3+8#K05#>--%-#,-#8(+#]^'=#9-# 2001, when he needed someone to replace %#72,+-$#07#3,-+4#K05#>--%-#/%::+$#3+#);# and asked me whether I’d be his Special Advisor, which I did from 20012003 on leave from Princeton. Then, it was time to go back to the university world. I decided to go to the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia, but I continued to stay engaged with U.N—I chair the U.N. Democ racy fund set up in 2005 that also organizes a global colloquium of university presidents who meet with the Secretary General once a year.
And 2008 was supposed to be the halfway mark? Do you think the U.N. is not doing enough? Most of the responsibility will devolve upon member states. They can’t do it on their own. China and India both depend on access to capital markets in ways that allow them to pursue productive divisions of labor %-$# @2,-*# ,-# 8(+# ;2058# *20&8('# 8(+"# -++$=# They need access to technology, and that’s where the international community comes in. The real substantive drivers are domes tic and internationally private, some World Bank. The U.N. is a small part of the dollars and cents level. Its role, however, is at the ideas level. It encourages governments to %$0;8#$+1+:0;3+-8#%'#8(+,2#52'8#;2,02,8"=##
Was President Gutmann a member of that? She is. As is the president of NYU; we invite presidents from universities all over the world—China, Japan, India, South Africa, as well as others. So, could you tell me about your work at the U.N.? Assistant Secretary General is the rank; my job was to be the Special Advisor for policy planning. Mostly, the job was to pro vide policy advice directly to the Secretary General. Major issues I worked on include putting together the Millennium Develop ment Goals. The member states outlined broad philosophic goals in the summit of Sept ember 2000. My job was to crystallize them into clear goals, targets and indica tors that could be monitored and for which the international community could develop strategies. And with the World Bank, Inter -%8,0-%:#!0-+8%2"#C)-$4#?=R=#/033)-,8"4# we did that the summer of 2001, and the General Assembly approved it in Septem ber 2001.
What do you think about how the Obama Administration is going to handle foreign policy? I was one of their advisors during the campaign on multilateral and international law issues. So, I am a fan of Obama, and I’m hopeful. We’ve heard some good rhetoric
about engaging in more negotiation, less militaristic solutions, more intentions of multilateral cooperation. We know that you are married to Penn President Amy Gutmann. How have you been able to balance family life in New York and Philadelphia? Monday through Thursday, I am here in New York. I am very active in Columbia’s academic life, and most weekends I spend in Philadelphia. She spends two to three days a month here in New York, fundrais ing. We have been doing that since 2000. Our kids are all grown, and we don’t even have a dog or a cat, so we manage this life pretty well.
Do you think the U.N. is doing a good job on the ideas level? The original goal was to translate the MDGs into their home languages and have it be adopted as a resolution of their leg islatures as national goals. Since the gov ernment had already agreed to at the head of state level, it should have been pretty easy. What we lost by the governments not agreeing to that was that we lost a lot of momentum, the kind that produces stron ger commitment down the road. I was very disappointed by that.
Would you ever consider working at Penn? Yes! It’s a wonderful university, but not while she’s the President. It’s nice to have the separation. It’s easier than being mar ried to the boss. When she retires from the Presidency at Penn, we will probably both still want to teach, and we’ll probably want to do it at the same university.
The Soapbox, March 2009
Global Europe’s Russian Winter What happens when the heat is off By Patrick Stedman
fter trudging along Locust Walk in the snow, it’s easy to take for granted that welcome relief of hot %,2# &(+-# +-8+2,-*# %# @),:$,-*=# # C02# 30'8# Americans, heating is something we can expect in the winter months. But for many Europeans, a warm house relies on warm relations between Ukraine and Russia. And these days, diplomacy in the former Soviet Bloc has been frostier than the weather. Though gas became a contentious issue immediately after Ukraine and Russia parted ways in the early 1990s, a successful agreement was worked out in 2001 to monitor the volume of gas Ukraine was transporting. It wasn’t until Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” with the ousting of proRussian Leonid Kravkuch and succes sor Viktor Yanukovych that the problems began. Ukraine’s new stated policy of NATO and EU membership led to a break down of trust, and pitted the two countries against each other. Disagreements over gas prices and transportation arose, affect ,-*#*%'#.0P#%::#07#_)20;+=## But while nasty rhetoric and debate can be tolerated, the fact that gas was cut off completely for over a week this winter shows just how tense relations between the /0)-82,+'#(%1+#@+/03+=##C02#"+%2'4#\)'',%# has allowed Ukraine to pay well below market value for gas. But Ukraine’s out spoken determination to join with Europe, coupled with its bold threats to block the Russian navy from using Crimean ports during the Georgian War, has provoked Russia. Of course, in order to resist Rus ',%-# ,-.)+-/+# ,-# 8(+# :0-*# 8+234# ?62%,-+# needs stalwart allies in the US and espe cially Europe. The current gas crisis has severely limited their prospects of acquiring dependable EU support. Europe relies on Russian gas to heat homes and businesses. Despite the fact that such gas disruptions turn public opinion against Russia, they also direct anger at Ukraine. After all, Ukraine’s stubbornness on the issue is just as responsible as Russia’s for the absence of
The Soapbox, March 2009
gas. All this crisis does is show Europe how tense relations between Ukraine and Russia are, and that saving Ukraine is going to be more trouble than it’s worth. Indeed, Russia has too much control over Ukraine for it to be a reliable member of 8(+# )-,0-4# %-$# C2%-/+# %-$# D+23%-"# (%1+# gone so far as to say that they don’t want Ukraine in NATO any time soon. And the United States, militarily overstretched and politically spent, is unlikely to risk its stra
because the south and east of Ukraine are predominantly ethnically Russian. In the event of a major Ukrainian shift towards Europe there is a chance the country could split due to Russianinspired uprisings. Ukraine is between a rock and a hard place. Russia has too much control over Ukraine’s economy and population for it to @+#%@:+#80#@2+%6#077#7203#\)'',%-#,-.)+-/+# without help, and its chances of acquiring outside help are becoming increasingly slim. With the US overstretched and the _?# )-&,::,-*# 80# 523:"# @%/6# ?62%,-+# 702# economic and political reasons, Ukraine’s prospects for getting out from under Rus sia’s thumb are decreasing. Ukraine’s only hope in the short term is that the loss of Russia’s international credibility for con trolling Ukraine outweighs its value as a satellite. But with Russia poised to start drilling in the arctic and constructing a new pipeline bypassing Ukraine, Russia appears to have more tools left to purchase allies. And unfortunately, money tends to talk louder than morals. Spring may be just around the corner, but it looks like this winter’s just beginning.
“Russia controls 90% of Ukraine’s economy and will not be afraid to use its sway to hurt Ukraine if it enacts any unfavorable policies.” tegic goals in Iran and elsewhere by anger ing Russia further. Ukraine seems to be left without any international backers. Not to mention, a lot has changed in the past year. Russia’s moves in Georgia over the summer indicate a more aggres sive strategy, and while the chances of an invasion are slim to none consider ing Ukraine’s size, Russia controls 90% of Ukraine’s economy and will not be afraid to use its sway to hurt Ukraine if it enacts any unfavorable policies. Russia also has an advan t a g e
Students Clash Over MiddleEast By Bob Ma & Nantina Vgontzas
n January 15, a day after the start of the semester, Penn students spoke out on the recent violence in Gaza. The student organization Penn for Palestine organized a march to protest the “genocide and mass slaughter of innocent Gaza residents.” Simultaneously, a '8%8,0-%2"#2%::"#02*%-,[+$#@"#8(+#G+--#9'2%+:#L0%:,8,0-#%-$#/03;2,'+$#07#51+#';++/(+'#%-$#%#;2%"+2#702#;+%/+#+<;2+''+$#');;028#702#9'2%+:B'# right to defend itself. based on their religion…But I don’t think ,8# A)'8,5+'# 8(+# -++$# 702# %-# 9'2%+:,# '8%8+`9# think the Holocaust is horrible, but at the same time I think it’s been used to justify war crimes, genocide, ethnic cleansing, which ethically is very wrong. Who are you here with? Raphael McNamara: I’m part of the City College of Philadelphia student govern ment. I found out about this event through a coalition of forums on Gaza How are the media portraying this con ?)&*@
Aysha ElShamayleh (C’10): I’m the VP of Penn Arab Society and am active with Penn for Palestine.
McNamara: I think that this is a racist issue. When Europeans came to America and took away Native American land, that was by demonizing them; terrorism isn’t just sui cide bombing; it’s targeting civilians, which is undeniably what’s happening; it’s deny ing people of their right; I think the reason that most Europeans and Americans aren’t standing up for it is because of the dehu manization of Palestinians and Arabs in a general sense
What kind of war is this?
Do you have ties to the MiddleEast?
ElShamayleh: I think it’s a political war. I don’t think religion has any part in it. The way it was started…OK, they say that Israel &%'#;20106+$#@"#F%3%'#52,-*#20/6+8'4#@)8# you have to go back as to why Hamas was 52,-*#20/6+8'=#98B'#@+/%)'+#9'2%+:#'+%:+$#8(+# borders. It’s like an openair prison… They have no food, electricity, medicine, water, and you are bombing them…A few weeks ago they decided Arabs can’t run in Israeli elections…It’s very political. I don’t think it’s a war because in a war you have two sides, and both sides have the means. The G%:+'8,-,%-'#$0-B8#(%1+#8(+#3+%-'#80#5*(8=## They only have primitive rockets. It is geno cide, ethnic cleansing.
McNamara: About a year and a half ago I met a woman from Saudi Arabia on the Internet. I found out later that she was part 07# %# *20);# $+-",-*# 8(+# (0:0/%)'8=# C203# what is happening now, her sisters are talk ,-*#%@0)8#5*(8,-*#9'2%+:4#'(+B'#8%:6,-*#%@0)8# 5*(8,-*#9'2%+:=#T(+'+#%2+#&03+-#7203#I%)$,# Arabia. My ties to Israel are pretty loose, but my feeling is that I have to do something to stop this negative stuff.
Dara Elass (E’10), President Penn for Palestine
Pro- Palestine Who are you here with?
What are your thoughts on the Holocaust? ElShamayleh: I think it’s a war crime. I do sympathize with Jews for going through that experience. I don’t think anyone deserves going through that. It’s not jus 8,5+$# @+/%)'+# ()3%-# @+,-*'# &+2+# 6,::+$#
Pro- Israel I see you are not of Jewish heritage, why are you here? Adam Delelegn (C’10): I came here to sup port Israel, their right to defend them selves Can diplomacy work? S+:+:+*-X# C02# 3+4# ,8B'# ;20@%@:"# -08# *0,-*# to work. I’m a Christian. I believe what the Bible has to say regarding the future, so in my mind there isn’t going to be peace.
Hart Levine (E’10), Hamas will never have peace with Israel; they follow futma; everytime they want a /+%'+52+a# F%3%'4# F+[@0::%(4# C%8%(# b# &+# need to get rid of all of them. What is your view of Islam? Delelegn: It depends where it is. Here in America it’s different from the Middle East…If you study sharia law, Islam is fas cism. You can’t even have a Jew stand on the land of Saudi Arabia….I think a lot of Mus lims don’t read what’s written in the Koran and the Hadif…I think if you delve into it, it doesn’t really say that Islam is peaceful as most people think it is in the US. How much death and destruction before it is fair for Israel to pull out? Hart Levine (E’10): What’s the fair cost for peace and security in your land? I don’t think I can place a number on that. What about the antiIsrael protests across Europe? Levine: [Europeans] see civilians dying, but they don’t see who’s to blame for it…I think if people really saw what’s going on, they would also blame Hamas.
The Soapbox, March 2009
Blue Bloods Where does aristocracy come from?
Dear Gaza, An ode to a distant land
By Abdulaziz Al Mulla
The Soapbox, March 2009
I can hear your cries and your screams. I can hear your women wailing and your men praying to God in tired, coarse voices … ever desiring justice and peace. Oh Gaza, what ails me is that young girl lying on the .0024#&,8(#;,-6#@0&'#,-#(+2#(%,2=#T(+"#'%"# her head was smashed. Oh Gaza, what drains all my strength to continue facing this heartless world, is that little boy look ing fearfully at the solider pointing a gun at him. The solider too is a human being. He was one day a child who longed for noth ing but to go out and play, to run freely in the endless horizon. Now he stands fool ishly against his own humanity. He has learned to hold guns, to load them with bullets, to point them at children, and to pull the trigger. Oh Gaza, that baby looks so blue. When his mother gave birth to him, when she dreamed to raise him well like Salaheldin, like Mahmood Darwish, like a hero, and even before that, when she promised him while he was a playful creature in her uterus, that he will live a long, happy life, did the thought cross her mind that he would die so soon? Oh Gaza, oh the place where only the scent of blood travels freely, brushing on the walls of the city and on the cheeks of the living, what else do you have to say when there is no one listening? Oh Gaza, I promise you, with every remaining speckle of humanity in me that I am listening, and that I will continue to listen. And one day, long after your children are buried in the depths of the ground, you will tell your stories to the world, and everyone will listen.
Art by Allison Zuckerman
ne of the most interesting proofs of the commonality of mankind is the development of similar political structures across the globe. Take ancient Egypt, feudal Japan, tribal Middle East and the royal IndoEuropean people as examples. In each of these societies, struc tures arose that allowed for the instillation of an aristocracy – landed gentry if you will – that were the powers to be, for all intents and purposes. The creation of this class was largely due to beliefs of human divin ity, as well as economic conditions. Peoples banded together to form a primeval politi cal entity, laying claim to a cartel of political and economic power. Over time, however, this idea of human divinity began to die out, especially amongst Christians. None theless, the idea that nobles were somehow superior remained an important idea. The etymology and development of this concept of a natural aristocracy originates in Spain. Sangre Azul was a term used to describe the Spanish royal family, which roughly translated means “blue blood”. It was used to distinguish Visigothic peoples, a group with a pure bloodline, from the Moors.. Robert Lacey, a respected British historian, explains the genesis of the blue blood concept as follows: It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an aristocrat’s blood is not red but blue. The Spanish nobility started taking shape around the ninth cen tury in classic military fashion, occupying land as warriors on horseback. A nobleman demonstrated his pedigree by holding up (,'#'&02$#%23#80#$,';:%"#8(+#5:,*2++#07#@:)+# blooded veins beneath his pale skin—proof that his birth had not been contaminated by the darkskinned enemy. Under this system, many families rose to prominence. With time, however, the once clearcut line between the blue blooded nobles and the mixed peasants grew increasingly vague. Many factors led to the disintegration of the blueblooded /:%''=#C02#0-+4#8(+#-0@:+'B#+/0-03,/#;0&+24# based on agriculture, was soon no longer applicable. With the opening of trade, those of “regular” blood were able to amass per sonal fortunes due to the mobility of goods
%-$# /033+2/+=# C)28(+2302+4# 6-0&:+$*+# became more accessible, and caste systems began to crumble. In today’s society, no visible caste system exists. Yet, one particularly strik ing modern example comes to mind. That is the reform of the House of Lords in midnineteenth century Britain. This was the sight of a formal and purposeful redis tribution of power and wealth from the blueblooded rulers to a group of elected representatives. In the concluding decades of the 19th century, Sanford and Townsend published a list of thirtyone prominent English families. They argued “the political power may depart… but the social power must increase.” This is a perfect illustration of the omnipowerful bluebloods. In terms of wealth, in the late nineteenth century, these oldestablished landed families were amongst the wealthiest of England, a fact that has not changed in the 20th century. In fact, Thompson, an authority on the British caste system, has found only two or three families of the thirtyone that have not maintained their position. Having explored the evolution of blue bloods, it is interesting to consider where this idea exists in modern society. Although an outdated value, many blue bloods exist and dominate various social micro cosms. Perhaps this value is not as outdated as it would seem.
Art by Leroy Wilkes
Social Eight Reasons Why Prop 8 “Saved” America A satire on the gay marriage debate By Ned Shell
ccording to the Census Bureau, about 50% of current marriages will end in divorce. Indeed, I have many friends whose parents have sepa rated. I often wonder how two people, who at one point in their lives loved each other so intensely that they vowed to never part, could permanently decide to end their life together. How did so much love trans form into so much animosity? Was it a lack of commitment? Sexual problems? An
“Dumbledore would be able to marry Grindelwald, and interwizard affairs can be dangerous.” )-(+%:8("# %$$,/8,0-O# G+2(%;'# +1+-# ,-5 delity? Although these explanations seem plausible, the real culprit is samesex mar riage. What is it about those gays that makes them want to get married so badly? Don’t they know that they are destroying the sanctity of marriage? If gays and lesbians could get married, what would stop people from marrying their pets? Nothing less than total anarchy would ensue. In an interview with GQ Magazine, Mike Huckabee could not have been closer to the truth when he said: “You have to have a basic family structure. There’s never been a civilization
that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived.” Moral of the story: samesex mar riage would destroy civilization as we know it. To further persuade the masses of the impending doom samesex marriage brings, I have compiled eight reasons why Cali fornia’s Proposition 8 to ban the stateconstitutional right to same sex marriage has saved America:
MAIN REASONS FOR DIVORCE Extramarital affair 27% C%3,:"#'82%,-'#N#cZd Abuse 17% Midlife crisis 13% Addictions 6%
Samesex marriage would destroy the sanctity of normalpeople marriage. That’s why straight couples never get divorces.
Gay sex is a sin. That’s why straight people never cheat, lie, kill, hurt, or do anything else that is also consid ered immoral according to the Bible.
I%3+N'+<# /0);:+'# %2+# )-58# 80# @2,-*# up children. Little boys and girls need both a mommy and a daddy. That’s why it’s illegal for children to be brought up in singleparent households.
\+$+5-,-*# 3%22,%*+# ,'# )-8(,-6%@:+=# after all, women are still property, dowries are still given to the husband, and interracial marriage is still illegal.
Samesex couples should not be allowed to marry because they are unable to have children. That’s why we pro hibit infertile men and women from tying the knot, too.
The right of the majority to oppress the rights of a minority is an inherent component of the Constitution. Being gay is a virus. If samesex mar riage were legalized, who knows how fast it would spread!
Art by Allison Zuckerman
Dumbledore would be able to marry Grindelwald, and interwizard affairs can be dangerous. Let’s be serious now. What is it about '%3+N'+<# 3%22,%*+# 8(%8# 8+22,5+'# 8(0'+# who would put millions of dollars towards advertising in support of Proposition 8? Wanda Sykes, lesbian comedian, shrewdly commented in a recent standup show that if people really wanted to protect the sanc tity of marriage, they would ban divorce. Wouldn’t that do more towards protecting marriage than prohibiting others from get ting married? When the Constitution was written, it was, contrary to the above “eight reasons,” meant to prevent mob rule—to protect the rights of the few from the whims of the masses. Yet when California decided to have people vote on whether or not a minority should be allowed the right to marry, it was acting in opposition to what our founding fathers intended. In conclusion, let me leave you with a 5-%:#8(0)*(8X#97#"0)#$0-B8#:,6+#*%"#3%22,%*+4# don’t get one.
The Soapbox, March 2009
Drunk Teenagers Don’t Melt the Ice Caps
:#A/".7#"1#&"00%A%#7/%()4%'*(#*,)'B#*,8*#0"+%/)'A#*,%#4/)'B)'A#8A%#+)00#$%'%3*#("&)%*By John Gee
about it too much. In fact, the right to drink is important, and teenagers are not the ones who made it so – adults are. A sophisticated party in today’s culture requires serving alcohol, which means those between the ages of 18 and 21 are effectively criminal ized if they want to behave like adults in a social setting. On the other hand, by raising the drink ing age, we prevent drunkdriving deaths. Drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 is illegal not because it is harmful to others in itself – and not even because it is harmful to the person drinking – but because many teenagers endanger others by driving while intoxicated. There are, of course, other arguments for the higher drinking age,
ver the summer, a group of more than one hundred college presi dents formed The Amethyst Initia tive and suggested that we should allow 18 yearolds to drink alcohol. There was some thing of a debate at the time, but, given the state of the election season, concerns such as the economy naturally overshadowed their proposal. Yet the discussion over the drinking age is still of great interest. Aside from my obvious personal stake in the issue as a college freshman, I see in it the secu rityversusfreedom line of thinking that (%'# $+5-+$# 3)/(# 07# 8(+# /0)-8+28+2202,'3# and environmental policy debates. At what point should a government sus pend its citizens’ rights in order to maintain their security? #C,2'8:"4#9#@+:,+1+#8(%8#:+*%:# adults do have the right, in principle at least, to possess and consume alcohol, and that raising the drinking age takes something consequential away
neither would this debate. Therefore, drunk driving is more or less the only danger a higher drinking age protects us from.
“Drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 is illegal not because it is harmful to others in itself – and not even because it is harmful to the person drinking – but because many teenagers endanger others by driving while intoxicated.” The protection of life is certainly worth the right to drink when the word “life” is illdefined. We bargain lives away all the time by driving cars (even sober), skydiving, licensing guns to people, fight ing wars, and that most doomed of enterprises, having life in the first place. Being alive is quite risky, and we’ve decided that we’re not all that concerned with a statistically small chance of death. So, the question is really whether or not the right to drink is worth the protec tion of a specific number of lives. More than that, it should be worth the time, money, and effort necessary to enforce a drinking age of 21 effectively , which we don’t do now. Given the ubiquity of alcohol on col lege campuses, and even at high school parties, I doubt we can. Moreover, I have to believe that there are more nuanced meth ods of controlling drunk driving – education, a graduated drink ing age, etc. Simply establish ing a drinking age higher than any other in the world is a very crude tool. As out of fashion as it may be in economic circles, I think this attitude of default libertarianism makes the issue much clearer. Government must intervene in many things – that’s its job – but there is no less effective government than a habitually paternal nanny state.
“Legal adults do have the right, in principle at least, to possess and consume alcohol, and that raising the drinking age takes something conse quential away from them.” 7203# 8(+3=# >$):8'4# @"# $+5-, tion, should be allowed to make decisions freely so long as they do not harm others. If we don’t think people of a certain age are mature enough to make those decisions, they shouldn’t be considered adults. But creating a separate age to drink, one higher than the legal age of majority, causes the de facto social disenfranchisement of thousands of individuals otherwise considered adults – over half the college population. I hear fairly often that the drinking age is too trivial an issue to worry over, and that teenagers care
The Soapbox, March 2009
Art by Chiyel Hayles such as alcoholpoisoning deaths and the detrimental effects of alcohol dependence. However, alcohol has tremendous potential for abuse even by those over 21. If we deter mine alcohol is too dangerous or its effects too negative, it should be illegal for every 0-+=#C)28(+2302+4#,7#!=>=S=S=#$,$#-08#+<,'84#
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The Soapbox with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell Photo by Jonathan Coveney