May, 2009 â€” 1
Spectator The Brown University
A Monthly Journal of Conservative and Libertarian Thought Volume VII, Number IV / May 2009 / TheBrownSpectator.com
Featuring H Slumbergate: Brown Police officers sleeping on the job H Obama's foreign policy H Book Review on Twilight H John Yoo comes to Brown
2 — Brown Spectator
The Brown Spectator
From the Editor
s a journal of conservative and libertarian thought and opinion, we are committed to the dissemination and discussion of the ideas and values of Western culture so often lacking on this University's campus. This is our last issue of 2009, and I am proud to have overseen it. The Brown Spectator is being handed off next year to a new group of Conservative and Libertarian "thinkers" who will hopefully continue the high quality production and writing that epitomizes the Spectator's legacy. As our new EIC Sean Quigley, and his staff continue to address often neglected ideas at Brown University I, the soon-to-be Editor-in-Chief emeritus, am proud to leave this magazine incapable hands.
Joshua D. R. Unseth
Interim Editor-in-Chief The Brown Spectator Joshua_Unseth@brown.edu
Table of Contents 5 – Letters to the Editor
Brown University 6 – The Libertarian Brown
Why we’re Ron Paul, not Barack Obama by Kevin Kay '11
Notes from a meeting of the Spectator staff by Susannah Kroeber '11
An open letter to the Janus Forum Steering Committee by Bryan Bishop
A Farewell to Officer Lombardi by Joshua Unseth '09
7 – To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance? 8 – Hardball at Brown
10 – Slumbergate
12 – Economic Collapse 2008
Bailout #2 by Frank Rinaldi '12
How the Democrats still offer slavery, and the Party of Lincoln still offers liberty by Travis Rowley '01
by Kristina Kelleher '09
Obama's crazy tightrope walk by Kristina Kelleher '09
Strong words; poor ideas by Kristina Kelleher '09
The benefits and drawbacks of the "purity industry" by Christina Cozzetto '10
13 – No Country for Black Men
Interim Editor-in-Chief Joshua Unseth
15 – Proposition 8 Fallout
16 – Pleasing Everyone
Vacant – Managing Editor Andrew J. Migneault – Asst. Managing Editor Joshua Unseth – IT Manager
Sean B. Quigley – Managing Editor Christina Cozzetto – Asst. Managing Editor
Joshua Unseth – Managing Editor Vacant – Asst. Managing Editor
Miguel Llorente – Cover Artist Christina DeOrchis, Kearsley Lloyd, Anna O'Neil – Contributing Artists
Lorenna Ellis, Phileda Tennant
Contributing Editors and Writers
Anthony Badami, Nathaniel Brown, Keith DellaGrotta, Frank Rinaldi, Harinand Tyagi
Stephen Beale, Brian Bishop, Pratik Chougule, Joanna Joly, Andrew E. Kurtzman, Joseph Lisska, Christopher McAuliffe, Eric Neuman, Travis Rowley, Boris Ryvkin
18 – Obama's Foreign Policy 20 – Taking a Step Back
Culture & Review
14 – We Just Disagree (lyrics)
by Dave Mason
by E.E. Cummings
Why the Twilight story should be seen as nothing more by Jonathon Maxcy '87
On the necessity of a governing class by Anish Mitra
by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Why the Twilight story should be seen as nothing more by Christina Cozzetto '10
15 – a politician is an arse upon 18 – Prospects for America
19 – Of the aristocrats, for the aristocrats, by the aristocrats 20 – Chambered Nautilis 20 – Just a Story
Winners and Losers
28 – Arlen Specter (Winner), and Nancy Pelosi (Loser)
May, 2009 — 3
et there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth. – John McCain
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4 — Brown Spectator
he Brown Spectator would like to acknowledge the Political Theory Project for the work it has done over the past year to promote invigorating political discourse on campus. Directed by Political Science Professor John Tomasi, the Political Theory Project strives to "encourage discussions that are more than merely ‘academic,’ or intellectually ‘fashionable," by driving "beneath the familiar and easy ideological labels." The Political Theory Project represents a model for how the concept of intellectual diversity can enrich the dialogue at Brown. Over the past year, the group has invited prominent speakers from a multiplicity of perspectives to discuss and debate issues which strike at the heart of American society. These include ideology in the academy, gender relations, and morality in constitutional interpretation. Moreover, it has pursued changes in the curriculum through its postdoctoral research program and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics concentration to help expose students to a wider array of courses. Starting this past Fall, the Political Theory Project has been supporting the launch of the Brown Political Union as a means of further facilitating student led debate on pressing political issues. The Political Theory Project demonstrates that "intellectual diversity" is not simply a guise for conservative affirmative action; rather it represents an ideal for rigorous campus discussion.
May, 2009 — 5
Letter to the Editor M
adam – On November 13, The Brown Daily Herald published an opinions article written by Sarah Rosenthal ’11, titled “No on Yes on Prop 8.” The piece presented a weak, and very misleading, argument that attempted to characterize the Christian church as following teachings full of contradictions, vice, and hate. In response, I wrote to the Herald to present a truthful account of the Bible’s message, yet the editors denied publication of my letter. Obviously, the Herald cares little for veracity but would rather help spread lies regarding a book that the majority of Americans value above all others. The Herald instead chose to print letters to the editor concerning Students for a Democratic Society and the Brown Democrats, among other topics. Let us hope this is not a display of the newspaper’s bias toward a certain ideology while it proudly claims fairness and neutrality. Commonly at higher learning institutions, Christianity is cited and explained under false pretenses and with misguided views. I believe this is a serious problem in need of remedy; and since the Herald did not support said honorable endeavor, I hope The Brown Spectator receives my letter more favorably. I would like to politely correct Rosenthal’s errors and ask further that, the next time she references the Bible, she read and properly understand the text before doing so. Rosenthal’s naiveté was most obvious with her mention of chapters in Leviticus. She mockingly states that in those chapters “where one can find the prohibition on homosexuality,” there is “also [a] prohibit[ion on] eating pork and shellfish, wearing polyester-cotton blends…and shaving.” These regulations were indeed mandated by God to the Hebrews of the Old Testament; however,
with Jesus’s death and resurrection, mankind entered into a new covenant with God. Hebrews 8:13 declares that the old covenant, and with it, the above regulations, are obsolete. The New Testament includes the teachings of the new covenant, and there exist many references to the sinfulness of homosexuality: in Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, and I Timothy 1, among other chapters. Our choice of clothing or food matters not to God as dictated by Christ, for example, in Matthew 15. Rosenthal additionally quotes that the Bible promotes an “underage, incestuous, polygamous sort of marriage.” I am not quite sure to which part of the Bible she alludes, as nowhere in the Bible can there be found age specifications for marriage; Titus 1:6 states men should “be the husband of but one wife” and Romans 1, I Corinthians 6, and Galatians 5, all label sexual immorality, such as incest, as sin. Accurate citations of the Bible show it exemplifies marriage as in Matthew 19:5 (“a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”) and in Ephesians 5:25 (“husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”). Jesus Christ is described as a bridegroom to humanity, and through His great love Jesus gave His life for His bride. If only all marriages were grounded in love like this. Sincerely, Keith DellaGrotta
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The Libertarian Brown Why we’re Ron Paul, not Barack Obama kevin kay '11
squire magazine recently called Brown “That Maoist collective (e.g., the Sixth, Eighth, and Tenth Amendments). While the in Rhode Island.” Bill O’Reilly lambasted both the institution federal government hands down around 75,000 pages worth of and the administration as “pinheads” and “liberals.” The Princeton requirements every year, Brown has shockingly few that affect the Review ranked us as #18 on their list of “Birkenstock-Wearing, freedom in the New Curriculum, and even these are largely for Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians.” Yet as I spend more show and have little effect on the lives of students. and more time at Brown, the question for me is not “Are they For example, freshmen must talk with a faculty advisor before wrong?”, but rather “Just how wrong are they?” choosing classes. However, they are free to change classes or gradThere is no question that Brown’s students are overwhelm- ing options – which, with the advent of Banner, is now as easy ingly liberal. Unsurprising to anyone who has spent more than five as changing their Facebook statuses – without consulting their minutes on campus, 86% of students supported Barack Obama in faculty advisors. the last election, while only 6.3% supported John McCain, accordAnd what is the result of this freedom? Students taking four ing to a poll conducted last autumn by The Brown Daily Herald. classes in English every semester? Rampant abuse throughout But the politics of individual students hide the extent to which the University? No. What comes out of this freedom is one of the institution is libertarian. I hate to break it to you, Brunonia, the most balanced student bodies in the country. Partly because but as a college, we’re not Barack Obama; we’re Ron Paul. Brown attracts those who are intellectually curious and partly Brown’s libertarianism is because, according to Brown’s strongly manifest in two ways: website, “the New Curriculum first, the New Curriculum’s Instead Of Fostering An Environment Where Cam[gives] students the right to laissez-faire approach to class choose, the right to fail, and selection; and second, its lax enpus Officials Act Like The Government And Take A above all the freedom to direct forcement of almost every official their own education,” students regulation. Lot Of Power, Brown Students Reject This In Favor here tend to take a lot of differJust as libertarians object to ent classes. If Brown were really centralized power and to letting Of A More Libertarian Structure... a liberal institution, we wouldn’t too much power aggregate in the leave this kind of diversity up to hands of administrators, the New students to initiate; instead, it Curriculum objects to the placewould be mandated. ment of any power, over what classes to take, into the hands of adFurther, Brown’s libertarianism is manifest in its commitment ministrators and bureaucrats. With the exception of which classes to letting students do pretty much whatever they want, as long as constitute a major – which each department controls separately it doesn’t hurt anyone else (sound familiar?). Take, for example, – the New Curriculum famously does not impose requirements on Brown’s policy on alcohol. Officially, “with respect to alcohol, the students and allows them to take any or all courses pass/fail. University strives to prevent underage drinking”; while unoffiIf Brown were really a liberal institution, it would act more cially, the policy seems to be, “don’t do anything really stupid.” like liberal politicians. Liberal politicians think that the governTo make sure that Brown students don’t possess “kegs, largement generally knows what is best for its people and therefore scale containers of alcoholic beverages, and individually-sized mandates – to an alarming extent – what we can and cannot do bottled alcohol,” which are not permitted under ResLife rules, (although, I’m not ready to speak well of conservative politicians, Brown has mandatory room searches. who certainly like to mandate behavior every bit as much as liberal By now, I think everyone has experienced the sheer terror of ones). Instead of mimicking this model – like Columbia Univer- these searches. ResLife emails students a week before their rooms sity or the University of Chicago, which both have extensive core may be searched to notify them (i.e., to tell them to hide any items requirements – Brown acts exactly contrary to this sort of think- banned by University policy). And even when they search the ing. It gives students an almost unmatched capacity for choosing rooms, they are not allowed to open desks and drawers, or to look classes. at anything that’s not in plain sight. (Even so, one of my friends If Brown were really a liberal institution, it would set up regu- had a TV bolted to her wall, prohibited under University policy, lations to limit the freedom of the New Curriculum like Congress and the ResLife inspector, instead of citing it as a violation, comsets up regulations to offset certain freedoms in the Constitution plimented it). I want to make clear that I have no objections to
"Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone. " -Ayn Rand
this policy, but it certainly does not help the University to prevent underage drinking. Instead, it advances the University’s unofficial policy of personal responsibility. If Brown really were a liberal institution, it would not allow students this much freedom, especially the freedom to abuse the implicit policy. Instead, it could have instituted a system of capand-trade for drinking wherein Alpha Epsilon Pi would have to buy credits from Interfaith House and the sub-free floor of Perkins before holding “Body Chemistry. But rather than implementing this vision of liberal intervention, we see that Brown lets students act pretty much however they want, despite the rules. What is the result of this freedom? Record numbers of alcoholic students? EMS being overwhelmed? Again, no. While alcoholism is surely a problem on campus (as it is everywhere), and while EMS does need to be used almost every weekend, the vast majority of Brown students choose to drink responsibly. How is this possible without a strong central body setting
May, 2009 — 7
and defining the culture on campus? Due largely to Brown’s lax enforcement of any sort of alcohol policy and campaign to educate rather than enforce, alcohol is largely demystified and no longer the object of wonder on campus. This increased knowledge largely curbs the rate of binge drinking. The product of this education and lax enforcement is more personal freedom and responsibility. In sum, the institution of Brown University acts in contradiction to its students’ liberal leanings. Instead of fostering an environment where campus officials act like the government and take a lot of power, Brown students reject this in favor of a more libertarian structure wherein students are loaded with freedom and responsibility. The University doesn’t act like a liberal government because it does not promise to act as a safety-net for students who abuse either the New Curriculum or the alcohol policy. It’s surprising, then, that Ron Paul didn’t garner more support on campus. Perhaps by 2012 Brown students will be ready to give the country the same degree of freedom they receive at Brown.
To Whom Do We Owe Our Allegiance? Notes from a meeting of the Spectator staff
Susannah Kroeber '11
reating an appropriate topic for an article in any publication collective allegiance will falter to the detriment of our country. is the most daunting part of writing. Inevitably, it takes some Perhaps this is not an irrational fear, as our country was founded degree of invention especially when your focus is not on news, by the simple act of breaking our allegiance to the British Crown, and even if you are simply trying to report the facts, a good re- and less than a century later we saw that self-professed unity in porter learns to write between the lines. This prelude is to act as the Declaration of Independence falter with the redistribution of a disclaimer for the discussion in this piece. It was inspired by an allegiances, divided between the Union and the Confederacy. informal debate between several staff members at a recent meet- As Americans, we coddle ourselves and try to insist ing of our own staff. Take from that everyone is as loyal to our it what you will. country as we believe ourselves One staff member posto be. There can be no other exited an interesting question to As Americans, we coddle ourselves and try to insist planation to our paranoia about the group in response to a difdesecrating our flag, or the ferent staff member describing that everyone is as loyal to our country as we believe public demand for the recital himself as an American: “I don’t of the Pledge of Allegiance in understand how you can identify ourselves to be. our public schools. We soothe with such a large geographical ourselves with these public acts region.” This particular person of allegiance, and never stop to went on to describe himself as first as foremost a Rhode Islander, think how sincere they are. What kindergartener can understand which one can argue is a Federalist point of view and does not what a full declaration of allegiance means, let alone understand take into consideration, for example, geographical differences the words and abstract concepts of the pledge itself: “I pledge alwithin Rhode Island that come from having such a densely popu- legiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the lated and diverse citizenry. The response to the Rhode Islander’s Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, comments for another staff member was that allegiance to family with Liberty and Justice for all.” and identification with ones own family was more important that This is one interpretation of what it means to be loyal possessing a national identity and allegiance. to America. Its author, Francis Belamy, wrote it to commemorate “Allegiance” in American culture and history is one of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the the most defining aspects of our society, and as such there is seems New World, and it was not adopted officially as a national pledge to be a deep-rooted fear in our society that for some reason our until 1942. His original conception of the pledge included the
8 — Brown Spectator
words “equality and fraternity,” but due to widespread disapproval of equal rights for women and blacks, this phrase was not included in any widely read version of the final. Should this still represent our view of allegiance today – an irrefutable allegiance to a country without the promise of equality? We have continued to redefine our national allegiance at every transitional moment in our history, from the state-by-state view of our nation under the Articles of the Confederation to the formation of a national Constitution thirteen years later, to the battle between those two ideologies in the Civil War, to the uprising of patriotism and national oneness during World War II. Unfortunately, what it means to profess allegiance to our country of such great geographical diversity has been in stasis since the introduction of the Pledge of Allegiance. We cannot define what it means to profess our own loyalty to the United States of America, nor do we have the freedom to describe what that loyalty means to us in relation to all the
other instances in which we must declare our loyalty: to our country, our state, our family, our friends, our religious institution, our ethical code, our work, our way of life. Indeed, it even varies as to whether we can group these into one Pledge of Allegiance or if we feel the desire to describe each of these loyalties separately. Given this inability to be able to individualize our allegiances in a national context, it does not surprise me that people are now questioning this requirement to profess allegiance in a static manner to an ever-changing government and population. The reasons why we fight to defend, work for, or live in our country are all different, defined by geographical region, social and economic class, religious beliefs, education, and political ideologies. Without a way to voice these allegiances, we are seen not as individuals, but as a homogenous mass populous who can all recite the same pledge. Maybe it is that fear of homogeny that prompts us to identify as anything but “only Americans.” •
Hardball at Brown
An open letter to the Janus Forum Steering Committee
est anyone imagine this a paean to the spring ritual of Brown’s administration, these events of great public concern and interest varsity baseball season, we’re speaking here of an intellectual were nonetheless brought to the fore without the heckler’s veto, squeeze play. We’ll leave for another day the question of whether once sure to have characterized such charged discourse at Brown. our vernal worship in the ‘house that Ruth [Babe not Simmons] The Janus Forum thus reaches for Brown’s best tradibuilt’ is but another of Marx or Sade’s opiates of the masses. tions, re-distinguishing the one Ivy-League campus that main Still, this is about the Janus Forum hitting it out of the tained an open discourse on the subject of slavery in antebellum park once more. To an academic world that has seen the UN Dec- academia. While universities such as Harvard censored debate on laration of Rights as virtually its own charter, questions of implied the topic as too evocative of passion, a real civic discourse weighoccidental hegemony and utilitarian exception revealed – at least ing the merits of abolition flourished at Brown under President to the skeptical mind – the chinks in the armor of its absolut- Francis Wayland’s premise that “moral progress came not through ist defenders. The astounding success of this discourse was not conflict and name-calling, but through a gradual process of enits claim to have established truth, but to have sought it in the lightenment, nurtured by respectful, reasoned dialogue” (a parafirst place – in the very face of phrase of Wayland’s philosophy the pervasive, socially enforced as summarized by the Report unanimity that had descended of the Brown University Steeron the University. Inside Salomon, passion played but civility reigned. ing Committee on Slavery and Like the tragic-comical Justice). “Cone of Silence” popularized Perhaps in the future, such an observation will not be Those who sought the conin the sitcom come cinémacert of such reasoned dialogue theque “Get Smart,” the normal so pertinent, and the Janus Forum seems to moving on the human rights implicacampus discourse unfortunately tions of the ‘War on Terrorism’ prefers the comfort of intellecthe campus in that direction. were greeted by a few dissenttual silence. ers from discourse demonstrat The rapt attention to ing in front of Salomon. Their this moral conundrum, and the degree of respect afforded its dis- own consciences impelled them to object to the propriety of John putants, distinguished what could instead have been the venue for Yoo’s resolution of this tension, although they had yet to give him perpetuating Brown’s fading reputation for puerile revolutionary a hearing. This was neither unsurprising nor unseemly, because stunts – the trite exercise writ large by those who have no argu- their actions did not extend to the concept that they had decided ments, only shaving cream. this question for others, but rather emphasized the passion they One must credit the Janus Forum for the intellectual held for their own decision. structure of a colloquy on the universality of human rights be- Inside Salomon, passion played but civility reigned. Pertween Amnesty International Executive Director Larry Cox and haps in the future, such an observation will not be so pertinent, and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo. By crafting the Janus Forum seems to moving the campus in that direction. a larger context than simply criticism of Yoo’s tenure in the Bush And having thus ingratiated myself with those steering
the forum’s direction, I spring my real trap, a nomination for the Hardball Question Award. The last question in this case was the best formed. It started with a classic head fake, a wandering delivery that made me think the most juvenile inquiry might be at hand – perhaps a demand whether smoking dope was a human right or such. Instead the questioner gathered himself for a concise query of the mutual exclusivity of positive rights to education and social security in the UN Universal Declaration of Rights with its equally earnest guarantee of property rights. After all, he asked in earnest, if you must take my property to make provision of rights for others, how could the document ever be consistently observed? Many asked significant questions of John Yoo that were worthy of the forum and distinguished the questioners as thoughtful individuals, but that Larry Cox should get the most logically challenging question is a credit to the breadth of thought brought to bear by Brown students. This question was not dispositive of who won or lost the debate but it most stymied one of its participants. Cox was forced to retreat into an admission that the commitment to property was somewhat nominal and unclear.
May, 2009 — 9
This was a significant concession for Cox, who premised the very existence of human rights on the sanctity and coherence of the Declaration. His lukewarm of property rights was in notable contrast to his unswerving commitment to the social rights embodied in the Declaration. This made it clear that what he held was not an objective commitment to the Declaration as a whole, but rather an embrace for its aspirational qualities that were coordinate with his own worldview. To the extent that Cox’s belief in the universality of human rights is evidenced by the Declaration, its own internal inconsistency is a fairly large blind spot. And pointing that out deserves the recognition conveyed by the coveted Hardball Award. Brian Bishop is on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity and directs the Foundings Project for the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. The Foundings Project uses the organic lens of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions, their text, structure, and history, to inform debate over contemporary public policy. •
Brian Bishop is on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity and directs the Foundings Project for the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. The Foundings Project uses the organic lens of the United States and Rhode Island Constitutions, their text, structure, and history, to inform debate over contemporary public policy.
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10 — Brown Spectator
A Farewell to Officer Lombardi Joshua Unseth '09
n 2006, Brown’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) was ac- there has been an awful lot of bad during the last few years). cused of racism after Chipalo Street ’06 MA’07, an African- One night, while biking home on John Street, I watched American masters student, received an abrasion above his eye after the taillights of a car pull through the Hoppin House archway being arrested. More recently, DPS has been accused of suppress- (Hoppin House is on the corner of John St. and Benefit St.). I ing sexual assault data. Needless to say, after receiving its lumps thought nothing of it. Then again, by mere coincidence, the same DPS’s morale is at an all-time low. Before reading this, I want thing happened the next night. It piqued my curiosity. I parked you to remember, first, that DPS has been the victim of many my bike, waited a few minutes, and walked through the carriage accusations without basis; and second, that a majority of Brown’s arch that led toward the back of the building, where there was police force is actually here to protect and serve. And so, while I parked a running car. I crept warily toward the vehicle and pressed think the department’s disconsolate state is unfortunate, there is my face against the window. Inside was an officer (whom I later little excuse for the few individuals who are featured in the rest of identified as Henry Lombardi) dressed in full uniform. He was this article. slouched over, fast asleep, a mere five minutes after he’d parked. In the midst of a financial crisis, Brown’s budget is After asking questions of numerous officers in the departpinched. Not even a private University is safe from the undulating ment, I discovered that Mr. Lombardi’s habit of sleeping on the uncertainty of the markets. And job was well known. “You don’t yet, DPS has put in a request bother him about it, he won’t for more money in order to hire Brown seems to have made more of an effort to ensure bother you,” two different offimore officers so as to alleviate cers told me on separate occathe pressures of understaffed that safeRIDE is running efficiently...than it has to sions. One officer even claimed shifts. It was a request that was to have brought the problem to months in the making. Chief ensure that the campus is well policed Captain Paul Shanley a long Mark Porter told his officers betime ago. The officer said that fore the end of last school year after being caught, Lombardi that they were going to begin doing regular checks of buildings told the chief that he had been having some sleep issues, took all around campus. If you listen to the police scanners, they are time off, and came back, supposedly cured of whatever ailed him. perpetually abuzz with officers calling in locations from all over. But apparently that was not actually the case. In fact, it seems that “Charlesfield and Brown,” I heard over the scanners, just Lombardi has been sleeping on the job ever since the day he got days after high-school students had left Brown’s campus following to Brown. And he’s not the only one. their summer classes. There I stood, at Charlesfield and Brown at Just down the road from the Main Green, behind 25 4:04am, and there was no officer. The car that called was parked in George Street, is a parking lot that is nearly impossible to see a parking lot right next to Keeney Quadrangle, and there were no from the road. Like clockwork, between 2am and 5am, one of officers to be found. This seemed to be a consistent trend. While Brown’s police vehicles sit idling. It is Officer John Heston’s favorBrown’s police logs are chock-full of calls from different locations, ite hideaway – where he is of no use to anyone. In mid-October, I if you are at one of those locations when they are radioed between approached Heston. As he was parked behind 25 George Street, the hours of 2am and 6am, chances are that you will be all alone. I knocked on his window and asked him what he was doing. “It’s But calling in false locations was only one of a number of miscre- my break; I get a break,” he told me. But it’s curious. Heston sits ancies which I observed throughout the time that the Summer@ in his car on a regular basis for nearly three hours while his break Brown program was underway. is only supposed to be thirty minutes long. What is even more All of this was occurring under the watchful eye of Lieu- curious, however, was the department’s response to my discovery tenant Henry Lombardi, who was the inspiration for this story. of resting Heston. Rather than addressing the issue, the DPS’s Last semester, Lombardi tendered his resignation and headed Lieutenant Jackson had Heston sit at a computer, looking at pictoward retirement. Lieutenant Lombardi was the third-shift su- tures of students in order to identify who had approached him pervisor with DPS for several years. He’d been here long enough (yours truly). to see the department go through the good and the bad (although, Needless to say, DPS has a lot of problems. They are an
I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.
unregulated mess. Brown seems to have made more of an effort to ensure that safeRIDE is running efficiently, even outfitting them with GPS units, than it has to ensure that the campus is well policed. As a result, free from scrutiny, officers like Lombardi
May, 2009 — 11
and Heston can sleep their shifts away while students are robbed (sometimes at gunpoint) or beaten up by local riffraff, and no one is the wiser. •
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12 — Brown Spectator
Economic Collapse 2008 Bailout #2
frank Rinaldi '12
n the month of September, the federal government passed a bill However, there are two gigantic problems with this that called for spending over $700 billion of public money in claim. First of all, where will all of these regulators come from to order to take over failed assets from Wall Street firms. This plan ensure businesses are acting ethically? Furthermore, who will train was supposed stop the bleeding and enable the financial markets them? And most importantly, who will determine what is ethical to start their path to recovery. It is important to note that even be- or not for businesses to do? It is unlikely that this regulatory force fore this general bailout plan was enacted, numerous firms such as will have any other effect besides making it more difficult to do Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and others had already re- business. ceived individual public loans. It has become quite apparent since The second problem is related to a great quote by Milton the approval of these measures that none of these classic Keynes- Friedman: “the greatest advances of civilization, whether in archiian approaches to stabilizing the economy have even slowed down tecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculthe bleeding, let alone solved any major problems. ture, have never come from centralized government.” New, more This first attempt at resuscitating the economy occurred efficient business practices will not be developed by a regulatory under the Bush administration’s watch. Now America has entered board, but by entrepreneurs who have seen and learned from the a new era with a new president. Obama is a man who has claimed disaster of this time and taken those lessons into account when to be about good ideas, not poliestablishing their own firms. tics. He has quite often stated A bailout simply disables the the he wants to take measures creation of new business innothat will work. Surely, then, he vations by maintaining the exishas noted the utter failure of The bailout is directly delaying progress. tence of firms that have proven the bailout as an economic tool. their ineptitude and inefficiency Right? in the marketplace. By allow Unfortunately, this has ing them to retain their market not been the case. Despite the power, new businessmen with mile-high pile of evidence, from nearly every economic metric, new ideas are hindered from developing their own companies, and clearly indicating that government spending in response to mar- must wait to rise through the corporate ranks in order to express ket failure does not work, this is precisely the solution our new their innovations. The bailout is directly delaying progress. president successfully pursued. Obama was been one of the stron- Another severe problem with firms not changing their gest advocates of the second major bailout plan urging Congress basic business models is that all of this money, like all of the pubto hastily come to agreement on a bill in order to start America lic money that has already been spent, will essentially go down on the road to recovery. He has received his wish as the second the drain (or, rather, into the pockets of CEOs). The models that bailout plan was officially signed into law on February 17th. This these companies are functioning under are ones that have proven time the price tag was a whopping $787 billion. to lose money for all except the top officers. The American people In a prior article that I wrote about the first bailout plan, are thus only ensuring that major executives throughout the coungreat detail was given to explaining both the theoretical economic try continue to get their high bonuses, in spite of the fact that the problems and America’s history with bailouts. Rather than regur- companies in question have not achieved anything. gitate that information again (all of which applies to this plan as Changing gears slightly, towards a standpoint of pure well), this article will take a more contemporary angle, explaining national interest, this is a terrible idea for America. America’s nahow this plan severely hurts American national interests, and how tional debt currently stands at roughly $10.7 trillion, while the it is simply a case of “kicking the can down the road.” amount of tax receipts taken in for 2008 was about $2.98 trillion. In order to truly make it out of this severe recession (de- The amount of receipts is likely to fall in 2009. These simple facts pression if you prefer), it is absolutely necessary that firms change spell major trouble for America. While America’s geopolitical potheir business models, as current circumstances have proven the sition and military might in the world allows it a certain level of modus operandi to be untenable in the long term. However, to a leniency when it comes to loans, the reality is that, at some point, certain extent businesses are resistant to change. If they can con- they must be paid off. It is not advisable to continue to borrow tinue to operate as they have in the past and to remain liquid, when the amount of collateral that America has seems to be dechange will not occur. The government has been allowing many of creasing every day with the rise of China, India, and the European the firms responsible for much of the damage to continue operat- Union. ing under the status quo. Obama has spoken at great length about Furthermore, it is important to note who holds most of how this new plan will ensure a new way of doing business that this debt: China. While at the current moment there is a tenuous protects against the type of greed and corruption which led us to friendship between the two nations, it is quite clear that the two this disaster. are headed for a collision. How intense or heated this will become
is unknown. However, allowing a nation who could become a potential enemy at any moment to hold the majority of a mountainous debt does not seem to be in line with our national interest.
May, 2009 — 13
Albert Einstein once noted, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Never has there been a better time to heed these words than now. •
No Country For Black Men
How the Democrats still offer slavery, and the Party of Lincoln still offers liberty Travis Rowley '01
he Coen Brothers’ 2007 film No Country For Old Men re- downright mean” and admitted, “For the first time in my adult volves around the tale of several young men engaged in a lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” And any Google search violent race for a satchel of cash. Tommy Lee Jones plays an aging of Jeremiah Wright provides a score of videos showing Barack sheriff investigating the depressing trail of bloodshed, markings Obama’s longtime pastor condemning America for practicing that inform the old man that the customs and morals that guided “state terrorism” and for “inventing the HIV virus as a means of his generation have decayed even faster than he has. Jones ends up genocide against people of color.” We find Wright referring to the as a depiction of the anguish experienced by people left without a United States as the “US of KKK A” and thundering, “Not God country they can call home. bless America. Goddamn America!” Democrats remain on their quest to offer similar anguish His all-black congregation cheers. to African-Americans, as liberals now embark on their fifth de- To be without a home is to live with pain. But this has cade aimed at stripping these reliable party constituents of Ameri- been the Democratic scheme for decades – to promote governcan nationalism. ment intrusion by convincing Liberal mouthpieces minorities that most Americans, have long emphasized a shameThe misinformation campaign has succeeded. Many especially Republicans, reject ful American history, one them. Republicans are racist, and marked by slavery and segregablack Americans now view racial solidarity as more against affirmative action. Demotion. And they insist that, even crats care, and will give you stuff. today, a majority of Americans important than black individualism. The misinformation camhold contempt for dark-skinned paign has succeeded. Many people. “Something is clearly black Americans now view rawrong when the government’s cial solidarity as more important most effective affirmative-action program is the preference people than black individualism. Each year a handful of notorious black of color receive when entering not college, but the criminal-justice leaders convene an event called the State of the Black Union, calling system,” proclaims one prominent progressive text titled A Cov- all “brothers” to recognize the uniformed plight that all Africanenant With Black America – which goes on to say that there is “a Americans endure. multi-headed, multi-tentacled monster out there devouring blacks Liberals stripped blacks of their country, so they conwho live in certain neighborhoods.” cocted a new one – the Black Union. Such rhetoric has caused many African-Americans to ex- Because racial camaraderie has resulted in more than perience feelings of anti-Americanism and national detachment. 90% of blacks predictably voting for Democrats, the advice to be Blacks now see mirages of racism everywhere, albeit disguised by more “inclusive” is oft delivered to the GOP. Replicate the way in “code words” and “institutional racism.” The outrage last year over which Democrats pander to minorities in order to attract blacks to the Barack Obama’s being referred to as “articulate” provided a power- Republican Party. ful example of this paranoia. But safeguarding the feelings of minorities by adhering Anger and hatred typically accompany blacks’ racial anx- to liberals’ politically correct pap is precisely the cause of blacks’ iety. Before the start of a game last year, the NBA’s Josh Howard adoption of big-government, anti-American liberalism. Do Resaid to a live camera, “The Star-Spangled Banner is going on. I publicans really want to be associated with such a philosophy? don’t celebrate this [expletive]. I’m black.” Denver Nuggets guard The advice is backwards. Blacks are the ones to make Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to even stand for the National concessions. They must abandon their liberalism before the party Anthem, stating that the American flag was a “symbol of oppres- of conservatism can consider their membership. A simple matter sion” and that the United States has a long “history of tyranny.” of principle. In Democratic circles, this is known as “patriotism.” Yet, in order to convince Republicans to alter their strat These are not so much black sentiments, as much as they egy, Los Angeles-based writer Chaise Nunnally recently referare liberal. But many blacks now subscribe to the anti-American enced the Don Imus controversy, in which Imus referred to the wing of contemporary liberalism. Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” Even Last year Michelle Obama said that America was “just though Nunnally found the opinions expressed by conservatives
14 — Brown Spectator
involved in the debate “legitimate and defensible,” he thought that “they also struck the wrong note in communicating with the black community on a racially sensitive topic.” Nunnally’s counsel was to be more racially symbolic, recommending Republicans find “a more race-sensitive tack to woo black voters.” Join the left in their truth-stifling political correctness in order to trick blacks into voting for you. That’s how much liberals respect minorities. Republicans would be better off listening to black conservative columnist Thomas Sowell, who recently reminded his readers, “Most Americans’ principles are closer to those of the Republicans than to those of the Democrats….[Republicans] won big when they stood for something and told the people what that something was…Ronald Reagan was the classic example. But
another example would be the stunning Republican victories in the 1994 Congressional elections…Articulating the message of Newt Gingrich’s ‘contract for America’ was a key to that historic victory.” Republicans win when they underline conservatism, not when they dilute their principles by pandering to special interests. They should leave such prostitution to the Democrats. For black Americans addicted to Democrats’ coddling sense of self-pity and collectivism, they will find no such slavery within the Republican Party. Only when blacks finally recognize the big-government whip held in Democratic hands, can the Party of Lincoln help them regain their independence, sustain their dignity, strengthen their families, and recapture their country. •
Travis Rowley (email@example.com) is the Chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and author of Out of Ivy: How a Liberal Ivy Created a Committed Conservative.
We Just Disagree Been away, haven't seen you in a while. How've you been? Have you changed your style and do you think That we've grown up differently? Don't seem the same Seems you've lost your feel for me So let's leave it alone, 'cause we can't see eye to eye. There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree. I'm going back to a place that's far away. How bout you? Have you got a place to stay? Why should I care? When I'm just trying to get along We were friends But now it's the end of our love song... So let's leave it alone, 'cause we can't see eye to eye. There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree. So let's leave it alone, 'cause we can't see eye to eye. There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree.
May, 2009 — 15
Proposition 8 Fallout Kristina Kelleher '09
magine having your address made public on the Internet. Imagine your employer receiving threatening phone calls for not firing you. Imagine your business being boycotted and picketed until you resigned. Imagine patients leaving your practice that you have built up from the ground. Imagine having to resign from managing a popular restaurant after 26 years of loyalty because of demonstrations. These are just a few of the stories of people like Scott Eckern, Richard Raddon, Alan Stock, and Marjorie Christoffersen, who saw their lives fall apart recently. What was their crime? Exercising their constitutional right, perhaps obligation, to free political speech and electoral participation, by donating to California’s Proposition 8 campaign, which successfully amended the state’s constitution so as to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This campaign was in response to the California State Supreme Court’s decision creating the right for homosexuals to marry. While men and women of good character may disagree about whether or not homosexuals should have the right to marry, all Americans should recognize the right for all citizens to participate in the democratic process and express their opinions, whatever those opinions might be, free of threats or intimidation. Voltaire, the consummate liberal (in the classical sense) once famously said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Unfortunately, today’s “progressives” do not respect Americans’ right to express their beliefs in political speech and campaign contributions. Many people, likely plenty of students here at Brown, believe that men and women like Scott Eckern, Richard Raddon, Alan Stock, and Marjorie Christoffersen, deserved to have their home addresses and employers made public on websites like eightmaps.com. It is important to consider the precedent that these actions create and the significant threat that these actions pose to the freedom of speech and the right to privacy in the future. It is a tragic reality that after the contentious Supreme Court nomination battle of Judge Robert H. Bork, a battle that
centered around his academic writings and speeches, law professors and lawyers called law review journals across the country to pull their articles before they were published and put into the public domain, fearful of being “borked” in future political considerations. What will happen now to the average voter who is thinking about donating to a political candidate or campaign? I suspect something similar. Think about some of the possibilities. Consider if Rhode Island voted on a ballot initiative to legalize homosexual marriage. What would happen if the RomanCatholic Diocese of Providence kept track of those who donated to the campaign to legalize gay marriage, made a list of those Catholics who supported gay marriage, and decided to deny them communion at Mass; or if they fired teachers, administrators, or faculty at LaSalle Academy or Bishop Hendricken, for their support of gay men and women to marry? What would happen if Catholic Charities decided to divest from community programs that were managed by supporters of gay marriage? The right to privacy has been extended to protect such things as contraceptives, abortion, and HIV/AIDS status. Perhaps it is time that we add political participation to that list. While McCain/Feingold and similar campaign-finance legislation were well intentioned – to exorcise the evil of big money in elections – it is time to recognize that denying any citizen the right to participate or not participate in the political process in privacy is misguided. America cannot be said to have a truly free and democratic political system unless all citizens are free to express their opinions through advocacy and contributions without fearing threats or intimidation for their actions. While, for better or worse, Proposition 8 will likely be overturned by California voters in the ballot box in the near future, the problems of the Gestapo tactics used by Proposition 8 opponents against private citizens is likely to remain. If the right to privacy has any meaning in a democratic form of government, it must certainly be extended to protect the right of citizens to vote for and contribute to the candidates and causes of their choice in private, without fear of intimidation or revenge. •
a politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man -E.E. Cummings
16 — Brown Spectator
Pleasing Everyone Obama's crazy tightrope walk Kristina Kelleher '09
uring a heated primary season in 2007, Republicans often of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed argued that the Democratic Party was living in a Septem- conflicts and counterterrorism operations, and to identify such ber-10th world. In fact, Rudy Giuliani would often point out that options as are consistent with the national security and foreign Democratic presidential candidates would not even use the words policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.” “Islamic terrorism” during their debates or campaign appearances. The Task Force consists of the Attorney General and the SecreThe typical Democratic response was that Giuliani was using a tary of Defense as Co-Chairs, and also includes the Secretaries national tragedy to bolster his own political future and engaging of State and Homeland Security, the Directors of National Intelin the politics of fear. (During one debate, now-Vice President Joe ligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Chairman of Biden said, ‘There’s only three things he [Giuliani] mentions in a the Joint Chiefs of Staff. sentence: a noun, and a verb, and 9/11.” While both of those Executive Orders were significant, In fact, during an April 26, 2007, debate, moderator Bri- the order that received the most fanfare, but least amount of an Williams asked the eight Democratic candidates: “Show-of- critical analysis, was Obama’s Executive Order Ensuring Lawful hands question: Do you believe there is such thing as a global war Interrogations. In the order, Obama officially revoked all “execuon terror?” Three candidates – Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, tive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, and Christopher Dodd – immediately raised their hands; Obama including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central hesitated before joining them; and Dennis Kucinich, John Ed- Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to Januwards, Joe Biden, and Mike Gravel did not raise theirs. ary 20, 2009.” To such ends, the Order limited interrogations to Like in the April 26 those techniques outlined in the debate, Obama’s hesitancy to Army Field Manual 2 22.3, “unstake out a position on the So far, Obama has publicly reversed some Bush strategies, less the Attorney General with proper balance between security appropriate consultation proand civil rights remained a ma- by such actions as ordering the closing of Guantanamo, vides further guidance.” jor issue throughout the election while at the same time quietly keeping many of the The Attorney General excycle. With left-wing activists ception, provided for in Section pushing for a return to a Sep- most controversial Bush counterterrorism tools, such as 3, part c, to use interrogation tember-10th world (e.g., Helen methods beyond those provided rendition. Thomas asking about “so-called for in the Army Field Manual 2 terrorists” in Waziristan) and 22.3 opens the door to whether the intelligence community or not since taking office and championing their success at preventing terrorist attacks by us- receiving national security briefings Obama has come to appreciing enhanced interrogation techniques, the question still remains: ate the value and necessity of enhanced interrogation techniques. Now that President Obama has taken the oath of office, is he In fact, shortly after the three Executive Orders were released on returning to a September-10th world or continuing the Bush- January 22, an Obama administration official told the Los AngeCheney strategies? les Times that the administration planned to preserve the rendi So far, Obama has publicly reversed some Bush strate- tion program that had been used extensively by both Presidents gies, by such actions as ordering the closing of Guantanamo, while Clinton and Bush to capture and interrogate suspected terrorists. at the same time quietly keeping many of the most controversial The official told the Times, “Obviously you need to preserve some Bush counterterrorism tools, such as rendition. tools – you still have to go after the bad guys. The legal advisors On January 22, President Obama signed three Execu- working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some tive Orders changing America’s anti-terror program that had kept circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within America safe from any attacks on our soil since September 11th. certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.” In one, Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the The decision to keep the very controversial rendiGuantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities, tion program put the Obama administration in the particularly Obama vowed to determine what to do with the suspected terror- awkward position of defending the Bush administration’s much ists held at Guantanamo Bay and to close the facility within one criticized legal position of denying access to court hearings for year. national security purposes. In a story on February 9, ABC News’s A second Executive Order, Review of Detention Policy Senior White House Correspondent, Jake Tapper, reported that Options, established a Special Interagency Task Force on Detain- the Obama administration would keep the Bush position in the ee Disposition to “conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful lawsuit, Mohamed et al v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a case involving options available to the Federal Government with respect to the five men who were suing a Boeing subsidiary for its cooperation apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. According to the
report, a source inside the Ninth U.S. District Court reported that “a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn’t changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.” In response to the Obama Justice Department’s position in the Jeppesen Dataplan case, Executive Director of the ACLU, Anthony D. Romero, said, “Eric Holder’s Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This
May, 2009 — 17
is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.” With pressure mounting on both sides of the aisle over what strategies and tactics are appropriate to employ in America’s ongoing War on Terror, look for the Obama administration to continue to struggle walking the tight rope of balancing America’s legitimate security needs while at the same time appeasing the ACLU.•
Obama's Foreign Policy Strong words; poor ideas
Kristina Kelleher '09
resident Barack Obama has said that he wants to be a trans- between right and wrong. As President Bush put it, “The moral formational leader. During the primary, Obama said that he choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, wanted to be more like President Reagan than President Clinton which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed disbecause Reagan fundamentally changed government and left an sidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation impact on the world. Considering the momentous change that and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy Obama has promised, it is ironic that he is almost certain to have of bullies.” To the world President Bush declared: “All who live in no foreign policy legacy. While George W. Bush liberated more tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not igthan 50 million souls in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Obama nore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand seems more interested in winning the support of the world’s poten- for your liberty, we will stand with you.” tates than in spreading freedom In contrast to President or democracy. The differences Bush, President Obama’s vision between Bush’s transformaSo far, Obama has publicly reversed some Bush strateof America on the world’s stage tional diplomacy and Obama’s as presented in his inaugural go-along-to-get-along attitude gies, by such actions as ordering the closing of Guanwas evasive and lacked any bold are starkly highlighted in their vision. While President Obama respective inaugural addresses. tanamo, while at the same time quietly keeping many said that America remained “the In his second inaugumost prosperous, powerful naral address, George W. Bush of the most controversial Bush counterterrorism tools, tion on Earth,” he did little to outlined his “Freedom Agenda,” say what responsibilities came which set new goals for Amerisuch as rendition. with that power. Choosing to can foreign policy. President ignore the real threats presented Bush declared, “For a half a cento the United States by terrortury, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on ists, and the constitutional means that the Bush administration distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of employed to obtain information from terrorists to prevent future relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical – and then there attacks, President Obama offered platitudes by saying that “for came a day of fire.” Having learned the lessons of the costs of our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our sabbatical on the morning of September the 11th, 2001, Bush ob- safety and our ideals.” President Obama said, “Those ideals still served, “There is only one force of history that can break the reign light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.” of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, (Of course, protecting the lives of tens of thousands of American and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the citizens (I’m sure he would agree about Michelle, Sasha and Maforce of human freedom.” lia), are a lot more than “expedience.”) As President Bush observed, the “great objective of end- Thus, Obama began to expand on his own foreign-poling tyranny is the concentrated work of generations” and that the icy objectives. President Obama said to “all the other peoples and “difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America’s influ- governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals ence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America’s to the small village where my father was born, know that America influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in free- is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman, and child who dom’s cause.” seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once President Bush simplified this foreign policy as a struggle more.” Obama pointed to past generations who “faced down fas-
18 — Brown Spectator
cism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” Obama elaborated on these goals by saying that America would “meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.” Obama said that this would be done by beginning “to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.” Obama’s also discussed the threat of terrorism by stating that “those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken – you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.” Further, to “the Muslim world,” Obama said that the United States seeks “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.” More, Obama said to “the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without
regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.” While Obama’s eloquence is unquestionable, it is important to consider the consequences of and inconsistencies in Obama’s foreign-policy message. For one, it will be difficult to end the “suffering outside our borders,” “lessen the nuclear threat,” or “defeat” terrorists while at the same time exhibiting “the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” The terrorist safehaven in Afghanistan created by the Taliban would not have been removed, and Saddam Huessein’s murderous baathist regime would not have been toppled had America chosen “the tempering qualities of humility and restraint” rather than military force. In the real world, evil-doers like the mullahs in Iran, al-Qaeda in the mountains of Waziristan, and Kim Jong-il in North Korea only understand one language: the language of force. It took a precision bombing mission in Operation El Dorado Canyon against Tripoli and Benghazi in order to knock Mummar al-Gaddafi off his perch as a supporter of international terrorism. Slobodan Miloševi? was not persuaded by platitudes of “Hope” and “Change,” but by American bombing missions and troops on the ground to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Obama’s ideas on foreign policy are naive and dangerous. Closing Guantanamo Bay, handcuffing the abilities of the CIA to gather information from terrorists with the Army field manual, and trying to achieve peace and freedom by negotiation without any reasonable threat of force are a recipe for disaster. Bush kept America safe from September 12, 2001, to the end of his administration. Obama ought to try to learn the lessons from President Bush’s accomplishment rather than living in a September-10th world. •
On the Prospects of America There shall be bright learning fix her last retreat, Her joyous sons, a num'rous concourse meet; Each art shall there to full perfection grow, And all shall be known that man shall ever known; There shall religion pure from heaven descend, Her influence mild thro' all degrees extend; Each different sect shall then consenting join, Walk in her domes, bend before her shrine; Virtue shall reign, each heart expand with praise, And hail the prospect of celestial days.
-Jonathon Maxcy (valedictory poem of 1787)
Culture & Review
May, 2009 — 19
Of the aristocrats, for the aristocrats, by the aristocrats On the necessity of a governing class Sean Quigley '10
hough I wish that I could write, “We are all elitists now,” the string of letters and columns which reacted negatively to Anish Mitra ’10’s recent column (The Brown Daily Herald, “A little elitism goes a long way,” Feb. 27) confirms that populism is still in vogue. It seems, in fact, that the Sirens of democracy, leveling culture and disrespect for the rightful leadership of the aristoi have intoxicated the public – even Brown men (and women) – to no end. I hope therefore to make a strong case both for the fact of a natural aristocracy among the citizenry and for the liberal notion that such an aristocracy can (and should) incorporate all persons worthy of existing among that elite. The vulgar crowd is unfit to groom the members of the governing classes, and Brown undergraduates especially must internalize this truth in order to fulfill their noble duties. This concept of the natural aristocracy has for quite some time been overlooked in the American body politic. Though one inevitably exists, demagogical politicians claim simply to be agents of the people – thus giving them a license to pursue tyrannical ends that a self-identifying, moderation-prone aristocrat would never even contemplate. For while the demagogue acts by ‘representation,’ the aristocrat acts by duty. Innumerable federal agencies (for instance, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and even Defense) also claim such mandates, and have consistently offered radical departures from traditional Anglo-American liberty in order to pursue the alleged will of the people. That will of the people, of course, is almost invariably either the rigid ideology or personal interest of any given politician or bureaucrat. Moderation is never a virtue of the populist. Rather, radical change from the trajectory of history is his virtue; he was neither schooled in the wisdom of our forebears nor properly humbled by the sheer incapacity of the human mind to accomplish much of anything. So he levels away, all the while crying democracy and demanding an end to the power of traditional elites. (Think of the maniacal FDR attacking “economic royalists.”) Notwithstanding the claims of the power-hungry, a natural aristocracy does exist. That is simply one of the consistent facts of life, which figures as diverse as Thomas Jefferson, Friedrich Nietzsche and H.L. Mencken have repeatedly noticed. Some are more intelligent, more talented or more gregarious than others, and only the envious or the excessively haughty would deny it. In a letter to fellow natural aristocrat, John Adams, Jefferson remarked, “The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and govern-
ment of society….May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government?” (Somehow, the crowd-obsessed Democratic Party claims Jefferson as one of its founders.) This natural aristocracy is, unlike a bureaucratic or purely hereditary aristocracy, heavily meritocratic in nature. Institutions such as the colleges of the upper-crust Ivy League, then, serve as a chief means by which the members of that natural aristocracy can interact and exchange the stuff of mind and manners in a dignified environment. Brown, to remain true to its historical identity and to maintain an influential base of alumni, must continue to be an institution of the aristocrats, for the aristocrats, and by the aristocrats. The natural aristocrats, to be sure. Brown must continue to harness the most creative, most intelligent, most cultured and most promising minds in America and abroad. And although I would want my alma mater to retain the spirit of New-England, nonconformist Protestantism, I would likewise want Brown to search for all natural aristocrats, wherever they may be. I wager, too, that Mitra desires not to limit Brown’s undergraduate seats to “elite white Protestant males,” which Alyssa Rutledge ’11’s bland satire (The Brown Daily Herald, “A modest proposal,” March 6) claimed – particularly because he is neither white nor elite nor Protestant. After going to Brown, however, he may one day become part of the elite, just as I (and others) hope to become. Honestly, what is wrong with wanting to better oneself and to inject educated class into one’s life? Why do so many people bristle at the idea of becoming part of an elite that entails grave duties and refined behavior? Is it a matter of feeling ashamed for natural talent? An admirer of Alexander Hamilton, a natural aristocrat if ever there were one (and a man born into terrible material circumstances), I detest that worldview which places the uncouth above the urbane and the coarse above the sophisticated. Exclusion is not my hope, and reaction not my politics. Indeed, I would like Brown to search far and wide for the most naturally aristocratic students. For some reason, I think that Brown already does that. Once we get them, however, perhaps we should do a better job of civilizing them and allowing them to network properly. I fail to see why that is so offensive. •
20 — Brown Spectator
Culture & Review
Just a Story
Why the Twilight story should be seen as nothing more Christina Cozzetto '10
finally broke down and read Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, over but all that Bella’s self-deprecation does is to keep her annoying. winter break this year. Curiosity was my entire reason for read- She has very little self-esteem, even after causing the ing it, but that curiosity came from several different sources. One most handsome and mysterious boy in school to fall in love with was how the series as a whole has been touted as the next Harry her. However, you don’t feel sorry for her; you just want her to shut Potter, and how there seemed to be a significant overlap in reader- up. Her defining character trait (her only character trait without ship (but only among girls, I found out later). Since I love Harry Edward) is her clumsiness, which is ridiculous: Meyer might as Potter, reading the book thus made sense. well have tried to define someone only by a speech impediment. I was also curious about its popularity, and how many She exists as a person only through her relationship with Edward. critics have said the plot is horrendously unhealthy and unrealistic Trying to decide what Bella was going to do with her life if she (aside from the fact that it’s about vampires) due to its negative hadn’t met him is a difficult and pathetic task, since she shows no portrayal of female sexuality. Additionally, I wanted to find out real interest in any subject or activity, or even any interest in her why some critics considered the series to have a pro-life message. “friends.” If you’re not a member of the gorgeous undead, Bella The series, written by Stephanie Meyer, covers several Swan wants nothing to do with you. years in the life of Bella Swan, a girl of high-school age who gets But Bella’s lack of personality is only part of why any involved with the underground world of vampires after meeting remotely feminist critic would dislike this series. For some backand falling in love with the vampire, Edward Cullen. The series ground information, Edward’s family, by definition, is a set of covers their relationship from their first meeting to their wed- “vegetarian” vampires: they only feed on animal blood, not that ding and the birth of their first of humans. Therefore, just being child. It is narrated mostly in near Bella, whose blood is refthe first-person by Bella, and The worst part of this supposed “pro-life” message is erenced as Edward’s “brand of takes place mostly in the town heroin,” is a huge challenge for of Forks, Washington – which the way in which Meyer (through Bella) ranks the life him. It’s made even more diffiactually has received significant of the child over the life of the mother. This is a gross cult by the fact that Bella really attention and increased tourism wants him to bite her and turn due to the success of the books. misinterpretation of what the pro-life movement her into a vampire, even encour I will come clean right aging him constantly to do so. actually stands for now about how much I’ve actuThe reader is led to believe that ally read. The series is made up his resistance to her temptation of four books, and I read the is noble and romantic. first and skimmed the last, with a three-minute Wikipedia search The critics have a point, and there is a clear argument to figure out the missing plot. I apparently missed some Romeo- that Edward’s desire for Bella’s blood is a metaphor for any male’s and-Juliet-style suicide attempts and angst. My sister read the first desire to sleep with his lover. Her own desires (and therefore fetwo books, was told that the fourth, Breaking Dawn, was actually male sexuality as a whole) are painted as impure. the third, and got several hundred pages in without noticing. Plus, What the feminist critics miss by focusing on the negaI was the one who told her she was reading the wrong book. tive portrayal of female sexuality is just how inherently stupid My first source of curiosity about this series was sated Bella’s plan is. She doesn’t want to become a vampire to do all sorts about 50 pages into the first book: the series has only one thing in of vampire things; she wants to do it so that she can be immortal common with the Harry Potter books, and that’s popularity. Any like Edward and be with him forever, and in the process cut off critic who thinks that Harry Potter readers will automatically love every other aspect of her life. As a source for comparison, Edward this series clearly has read neither. Ignoring any comments on was turned into a vampire in 1918 to “save” him from the Spanish plot, character development, or quality of the writing, the Harry Influenza, had no choice in the matter, and was an orphan at the Potter series is an epic adventure, while the Twilight series is, over time of his transformation. In other words, he was going to die if anything else, a romance; hence its overwhelmingly female fan he had not transformed, and was utterly alone. base. Bella, however, has parents, has friends (although they, With regard to plot, character development, and quality too, are barely developed as characters), and is not actively dying. of writing, J.K. Rowling’s series easily wins in each category. In She pushes herself on Edward with the ultimate goal of being case the fact that I skipped half of the Twilight series didn’t give one part of a whole, and nothing else. (Cue the various “I can’t it away, I did not enjoy reading these books. The main difficulty live without you” suicide-plot variations of the second book.) This I had with them was that I disliked the person who narrates the plan would be equally repulsive and idiotic if Edward and Bella’s books. The girl has very few redeeming qualities. Normally, self- roles were switched: no one, male or female, should be living solely deprecation in a heroine works well at keeping the character real, for the existence of another.
Culture & Review
My third source of curiosity was answered in the final book. The reason for the apparent “pro-life message” in this series appears in that installment, when Bella becomes pregnant immediately after her wedding. The child is a half-vampire, halfhuman baby, who grows rapidly, meaning that it would be nearly impossible for Bella to carry the child and survive the pregnancy. Edward encourages her to abort the fetus, but Bella refuses, stating she feels a connection to her child. This is all well and good, and is a somewhat legitimate pro-life plot point. However, it is during the delivery that it all goes wrong. Bella’s labor is long, painful, and gruesome; it nearly kills her; and she is ultimately saved only by being transformed into a vampire. Meyer’s description of this childbirth is horrendously overblown, turning the miracle of life into a bloodbath. The worst part of this supposed “pro-life” message is the way in which Meyer (through Bella) ranks the life of the child over the life of the mother. This is a gross misinterpretation of
May, 2009 — 21
what the pro-life movement actually stands for, as the idea of ranking the life of the unborn baby above that of the mother is one which the movement has been attempting to refute for decades. Meyer (hopefully unwittingly) adds significant fuel to the fire just by writing a few hundred pages about a mutant vampire baby. Politics and plot quality aside – to be fair, I know why this series is so popular for teenage girls. My sister, who read the first book before me, explained it rather well. She said, “I completely understand why young girls like this book. Every teenage girl wants a gorgeous, mysterious boy to fall in love with her for no reason, and then risk his life to protect her.” She’s completely right, and the series serves the purpose of romance novels very well. Therefore, I can only hope that the girls who read this story see it as just a story, and don’t begin to make their moral and political decisions based on anything Meyer writes. •
The Chambered Nautilis This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,The venturous bark that flings On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings, And coral reefs lie bare, Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair. Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl; Wrecked is the ship of pearl! And every chambered cell, Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell, As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell, Before thee lies revealed,Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed! Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread his lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year's dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn! From thy dead lips a clearer note is born Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn; While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
22 — Brown Spectator
Culture & Review
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May, 2009 â€” 23
Congratulations to the class of 2009 Alma Mater! we hail thee with loyal devotion, And bring to thine altar our off 'ring of praise; Our hearts swell within us, with joyful emotion, As the name of old Brown in loud chorus we raise. The happiest moments of youth's fleeting hours, We've passed, 'neath the shade of these time-honored walls, And sorrows as transient as April's brief showers Have clouded our life in Brunonia's halls.
And when we depart from thy friendly protection, And boldly launch out upon life's stormy main, We'll oft look behind us, with grateful affection, And live our bright college days over again. When from youth we have journeyed to manhood's high station, And hopeful young scions around us have grown, We'll send them, with love and deep veneration, As pilgrims devout, to the shrine of Old Brown. And when life's golden autumn with winter is blending, And brows, now so radiant, are furrowed by care; When the blightings of age on our heads are descending. With no early friends all our sorrows to share; Oh! then, as in memory backward we wander, And roam the long vista of past years adown, On the scenes of our student life often we'll ponder, And smile, as we murmur the name of Old Brown.
24 — Brown Spectator
Winners & Losers
Winners and Losers, November 2008 Winner - Arlen Specter
inally, after years of pretending to be a moderate Republican, the extremely liberal Arlen Specter left the fledgling conservative party to join the radically liberal other team. Are we lamenting the loss? Surely not. While Specter's political promiscuity ads to the already-daunting size of the Democratic party, the action probably won't change the way he votes. We at the Brown Spectator would like to commend Mr. Specter. Switching parties is, perhaps the first honest thing he's ever done in his long & scandalous political career. And honesty is something we value very highly. We believe that democrats will appreciate much more than the Republicans the driveling pompiety that drips from the mouth of Mr. Specter. For if Joe Biden gives us any indication, bumbling arrogance is a laudable quality among Democrats. •
Loser - Nancy Pelosi
nlike her newfound colleague, Arlen Specter, Madam Pelosi has expresses not a whit of honesty. After accusing the CIA of abiding by a non-existent policy to lie to members Congress, this former loud-mouthed leader of the Democratic party, this feminine example of power and glory, is fast proving that she is no different than her fellow politicians. While it has been said of truth that it sets man free. For Democrats,, it seems that it is truth that keeps on coming back to bite them in the ass. P.S: A special shoutout is in order for our former Vice President Dick Cheney who has made exposing Pelosi's vicious lies priority number one in recent weeks. •