Fall 2013 II The Yale Undergraduate Journal of Politics Volume LXX
Worlds Apart An inside look at the first semester of yale-NUS college
Dear Reader, Thanksgiving break is upon us. Netflix, naps, and that novel we’ve been meaning to read since the first week of the semester beckon. We all know what awaits our return to New Haven — a few more problem sets, a few more exams (not to mention that dreaded Orgo final), and a few more all-nighters in the Branford library with nothing but caffeine to keep us company. This last week in November, though, is ours. Consider this issue of The Politic a present to take back home — to ponder during halftime, to curl up with at night, or to discuss amid bites of turkey and sweet potato latkes at your “Thanksgivukkah” celebration. And when the holiday finally, wistfully, concludes, your waistline may finally return to normal, but we hope The Politic leaves you with something lasting. In the pages of this issue, you’ll find a cornucopia of conversation topics to provoke those traditional family feuds. Still unsure where you stand on the Yale-NUS debate on freedom of speech vs. academic integrity? In our cover story, Benjamin Weiner and Eric Wang survey half of the student body at our Singapore sibling school to gauge their thoughts. Is your great-aunt Martha finally starting to come around on marriage equality? She might want to read Zach Young’s take on the secular arguments against same-sex matrimony. Have you heard enough about cousin Ethan’s new job at Goldman Sachs? Feel free to interrupt your uncle with Rhys Dubin’s article on polio eradication in the twenty-first century. When you notice an awkward and tense silence following your grandfather’s tirade against government meddling with his Medicare, lighten the mood with Alex Cooley’s piece on the future of space exploration. And if your father is still demanding plans for your future, scare him by recounting how inspired you are by Lai Yahaya, one of the eighteen Yale World Fellows The Politic interviewed for its new website series, who is fighting oil corruption in Nigeria. Ask if you can borrow money for a oneway plane ticket to Lagos, and see how quickly he drops the get-a-real-job routine. We are proud to present this issue of The Politic, Yale’s swiss-army knife conversation starter, capable of lubricating social interactions with family and friends of all political predilections. We thank you for your readership, your feedback, your support and your ideas. And as always, we hope you enjoy!
Faithfully, Eric Stern ’15 & Justin Schuster ’15 Editors-in-Chief
Editors-in-Chief Justin Schuster Eric Stern
Managing Editors David Lawrence Rachel O’Connell
Senior Editors Josef Goodman Noah Remnick
Associate Editors Amy Chang Rod Cuestas Anna-Sophie Harling Cindy Hwang Ezra Ritchin
Layout Editor Yuyeon Cho
Board of Advisors John Lewis Gaddis Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University David Gergen Editor-at-Large, U.S. News and World Report Anthony Kronman Former Dean, Yale Law School Ian Shapiro Director, Yale Center for International and Area Studies
Business Manager Aaron Mak
Illustrator Madeleine Witt Blog Editor Alisha Jarwala graphic designer Anthony Kayruz
Online Managers Derek Soled David Steiner
Disclaimer This magazine is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. The opinions expressed by the contributors to The Politic do not necessarily reflect those of its staff or advertisers. Pictures Pictures from Creative Commons used under Attribution Noncommercial license. http://creativecommons.org/licenses
Worlds Apart An inside look at the first semester of Yale-National University of Singapore?
J ac ek Ol e sz c z u k
Syria, Snowden & Obama
An Interview with Seymour Hersh
Be n jam i n W ei n er & Er ic Wa ng
A lex Cooley
To Infinity & Beyond? The Future of the U.S. Space Industry
T h e P ol i t ic
Leaders of Tomorrow
Er ic S t er n
Founding Fathers From the Classroom to the Retirement Home: A Look at Three of Yale’s Foremost Political Scientists
Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? A look at honor killings in Pakistan and night hunting in Bhutan
Interviews with Yale World Fellows, Class of 2013
M ei ry u m A l i & A n n a M ei x l er
Zac h a ry You ng
The Curious Case for Traditional Marriage Three Ivy League academics oppose same-sex matrimony in secular terms
R h y s Du bi n
An Old Enemy Returns Polio Eradication in the 21st Century
Zac h a ry Moh r i ng
The Intelligence Gathering Conundrum: Afghanistan 2013 and Beyond
A a ron M a k
Nightmare on K Street Citizen lobbyists — with a Politic reporter in tow — try to take down the NSA
M i k ay l a Ha r r i s
Keeping Up with the Obamas An Interview with Jodi Kantor
J ust i n S c h ust er & M att h e w C oh e n
Of Scalpels & Stump Speeches An Interview with Ben Carson
t h e p ol i t ic
2013 in Quotes He said, she said, a year in review· 3
Leaders of Tomorrow Interviews with Yale World Fellows, Class of 2013
“I’m a witness of how people fight to change things that aren’t easy to change.”
“[To go into politics] You need to operate in a zone of uncertainty.”
“I think that there’s a sense of belonging to the Yale community that never leaves”
Executive Director, National Center for Crime Prevention and Citizen Participation, Mexico
National Executive Member, Bharatiya Janata Party
Student, Yale School of Management
“Economics, inflation, the murder rate – these are the biggest problems of the Venezuelans, and I would say Chavez is responsible for this.”
“We are seeing 2,000 households a month change their cooking fuel from firewood to clean, liquefied petroleum gas.”
National Political Coordinator and Board Member, Voluntad Popular
Consul/ Political Officer, Embassy of Egypt in Damascus
Managing Director, Alitheia Capital
“I believe in the power of people and relationships to create understanding.”
“Evacuating your country’s nationals from places where you have widespread instability and violence is an extremely difficult job.”
“My age and my gender both became extremely challenging in [the finance] industry.”
“Mark Twain said, ‘I will never allow school to interfere with my education’”
Daniel W eisfield
R aheela Khan
Student, Yale Law School; Yale School of Management
Assistant Manager Treasury and Investments, Doha Bank
Executive Director, Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe
Every year, Yale University selects a class of World Fellows — rising global leaders from diverse disciplines and backgrounds — for a four month, on-campus residency program. The Politic interviewed the full Class of 2013 about their international leadership experiences. Visit www.thepolitic.org to check out the full series!
“Managing other people is almost like working towards enlightenment [...]”
“More and more, my films are becoming interventions in social realities.”
“Do you read the Economist? […] Our readership, in general, are very smart people, right?”
Renzo M artens
A bhik Sen
CEO and Co-Founder, Africa Health Placements
Creative Director, Institute for Human Activities
Managing Editor, The Economist Group
“If people don’t have the money to get an attorney, they go through the legal system alone.”
“Climate change is scary because it’s so huge, and so much has to change so fast. But it’s certainly not impossible.”
“We now position ourselves as pioneers of social innovations and philanthropy in China.”
Founder and Board Member, Justice Center for Legal Aid
Director of Global Development, Greenpeace InternationalParticipation, Mexico
Vice President, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation
“Be brave and be out there. That’s my advice.”
“Yalies should not take themselves too seriously.”
“I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel”
Yakubu “L ai” Yahaya
Sawsan Z aher
Managing Director, KingsBay Capital
Team Leader, Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform
Director of Social, Economic and Cultural Rights Unit, Adalah the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Founding Fathers From the Classroom to the Retirement Home: A Look at Three of Yale’s Foremost Political Scientists Er ic St er n
“Eric, come right inside,” a note posted on the door of Robert Lane’s apartment informs me. The air-conditioning clicks on as I enter. Two large bookshelves line one wall while faded posters supporting Howard Dean and Barack Obama are tacked up in the adjacent kitchen. “Professor Lane?” I ask the empty den. No answer. I drop my backpack on a chair and walk down a hallway, past a modern-looking painting, toward the one room with the lights turned on. “Professor Lane?” I ask again. “I’ll be right with you,” a quiet voice responds, “I’m just finishing up now.” Robert E. Lane is the Eugene Meyer Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Yale University. He arrived at Yale in 1950, where he taught full-time until 1987. In 2003, Lane and his wife Helen moved into an apartment in the Whitney Center, a continuing care retirement community in Hamden, just a few miles from Yale’s campus. When I meet him, Lane is wearing a gray cardigan; he has thick, saucer-like glasses and a hearing aid in each ear. As he guides me back to the den, he moves with a sure-footedness that belies the 96 candles on his last birthday cake. “Tell me again,” he says as he takes a seat at the kitchen table, “what exactly you’re looking for. You want to talk about Yale’s political science, and the department after all of these years?” *** The Whitney Center is a large, curving, red-and-purple brick building. The first floor has a cafeteria and a spacious lobby filled with high-backed red-and-white chairs. Posters advertise a variety of events: a wine tasting, a 6
symphony, a lecture on “Birding in Israel.” A mostly completed 1,000-piece puzzle sits on a low wooden table. According to Lane, the Whitney Center is the destination of choice for many elderly Yale professors. “This is the place that humanists and social scientists retire to. Natural scientists, less so. There are one or two here, a very distinguished chemist and a distinguished physicist” — Lane clears his throat and grins — “who was my enemy because he didn’t believe in climate warming. He wrote for the local Whitney Center paper here, and so I had to answer him.” Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Lane was among the best-known political scientists in the country. He twice headed Yale’s political science department, as well as the American Political Science Association and the International Society of Political Psychology. Today, he lives with his wife Helen on the sixth floor of the Whitney. “This is the place professors ought to go, because of the clustering of Yale people,” Lane tells me. Thirty-eight current residents of the Whitney — about 17 percent of the community’s total population — are former Yale faculty members. “If you were to factor in those who are alums, who worked for Yale or had a spouse who worked for Yale, including researchers, scientists, etc. the count would probably be closer to 60 percent,” Gretchen Joslyn, the Whitney Center’s Director Of Community Relations, said in an email. Lane, indeed, is far from the only Yale political scientist at the Whitney. Two floors below him is Robert Dahl, who is almost 98, and his wife Ann. Just down the hall from the Dahls is Herbert Kaufman, 91, and his wife
Ruth. James Fesler, another former member of Yale’s political science department, also lived in the Whitney until his death in 2005 at the age of 94. All taught at Yale and chaired the political science department in the 1950s and 1960s, during which time the university was almost universally recognized as having the best political science department in the country. According to University of Washington Professor Margaret Levi, Yale’s professors built “the first modern department of political science, a department that asked major substantive questions while using the best social science techniques available at the time.” David Mayhew, Yale’s Sterling Professor of Political Science, said it is “pretty remarkable” that the men — four of the last giants of political science — all moved into the same retirement community. “It’s a great generation, and we’ve been losing people. We’ve lost three faculty members in the last few years.” “Yale students really don’t realize the tremendous resource they’ve got at the Whitney,” Mayhew continued. “These guys were pretty incredible professors.” *** In 1940, Robert Dahl, now the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science, earned a PhD from Yale’s newly created government department. After six years serving in Washington and fighting in World War II, Dahl returned to New Haven. The department that greeted him was “not very large or prestigious,” said Dahl. “It was still an Ivy League university, but its scholarship was falling somewhat behind. The concept of political science,” he continued, gesturing
Clockwise from top right: Robert Dahl, Robert Lane, Herbert Kaufman.
quotation marks in the air, “was fairly new. Classical political theory, yes; but the idea that there might be an empirical science there was a new idea. And the conservatives in the department were outraged.” Political science at the time was grounded in philosophy, history and constitutional theory. The field very much resembled that of Plato’s time, when his works like The Republic, The Laws and In The Statesman created the discipline. Leading professors primarily focused on classic theorists and historical perspectives on the public sphere. In the late nineteenth century, a first wave of formal, descriptive studies were conducted, but the methodological analysis of politics was still almost entirely philosophical and juridical. As A. Lawrence Lowell, a former American Political Science Association President, remarked in 1909, “We are limited by the impossibility of experiment. Politics is an observational, not an experimental science.” Beginning at the University of Chicago in the 1920s, social scientists began to study political behavior using empirical techniques. They demonstrated for the first time that politics could be both innovative and scientific, a field distinct from history, law and
philosophy. But in the subsequent decades, academics continued to resist changes in the study of politics, largely adhering to the discipline as they had learned it. Under the direction of Dahl and his colleagues, Yale expanded on the Chicago School and began to build “a quite new kind of political science establishment that was not inhibited by tradition,” Mayhew said. “It was like Israel or Singapore or like the USA in 1800. They could do new things. They were lucky or wise enough to bring and keep here some very, very, very smart and creative people — a generation of innovators who could create a new political science.” Mayhew explained that many of Yale’s young political scientists wanted their discipline to be “more sciency” — to look at the actual behavior of people in the real world. In the 1950s and the 1960s, they pioneered what has since been termed the behavioral revolution, during which time rigorous, empirical study of individual and group behavior began to dominate the field. “During that period, we were outstanding, because we were first in accepting the behavioral science,” Lane said. Instead of simply examining institutions and interpreting texts,
Political science professors and staff in the late 1970s, David Mayhew is third from the left.
professors and students explored the motivations behind political activities: who was running for office, who was voting, and other behaviors. Behavioralism “became almost a fetish,” said Kaufman, another of the professors at the Whitney, making Yale’s graduate students exceedingly employable and spreading the doctrine to universities across the country. “A lot of these people were veterans from World War II — that was important,” Mayhew explained. “The experience showed them a new cut of the world; it took them out of their hometowns or academics. Some were in the service and some in the government, and the experience of the war made them think freshly about what politics might be and how they could investigate the world.” “Serving in the army, I quickly lost any scholarly snobbishness I might have had about people without formal education,” Dahl agreed. “The world became much more concrete for us, and we decided to investigate it more deeply.” *** Between 1955 and 1970, six Yale professors served as president of the American Political Science Association,
including Dahl and Lane. According to Richard Merelman, the author of Pluralism at Yale, a Professional Visibility Index determined that from 1954 to 1994, one in ten of the nation’s top scholars was a Yale political scientist. “As of 1970 or so,” said Kaufman, “the Yale political science department was setting the standards for political science in the country.” “One of the things that accounted for the prominence of the department was people like Bob Dahl,” Kaufman continued. “Practically every university tried to steal Dahl away from us. He was probably the most prominent political scientist in the country in his day, and possibly in the world.” His books, such as A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956) and Who Governs?: Democracy and Power in an American City (1961), remade the study of U.S. politics. Today, he is alternately described as the “Dean” and the “Pope” of American political science. The university at which Dahl first arrived in the 1930s would be unrecognizable to the diverse community that Yale is today. “The ‘Old Blues’ were still running the place,” said Kaufman, who began as an assistant professor in 1953 and, as a Jew, was “the department’s first minority.” Yale was dominated by families that had been sending their sons to New Haven for generations. Many of them were graduates of private preparatory schools. Nearly all were white and Protestant. The university presidency of Kingman Brewster, however, ushered in a wave of changes to admissions policies. “What Kingman did was to suddenly go for the best people he could as undergraduates, and not weigh whether you went to a typical feeding prep school, Choate or Phillips Exeter,” Lane said. “We didn’t get any rotten people anymore. The caliber shifted dramatically to the bright and curious, and that was because we didn’t get these guys from Choate who knew all the answers, but didn’t have any questions. That was exciting, and it was really a delight to teach those guys.” According to Mayhew, there was also significantly “more ideological combat in the 1950s and 1960s. Marxism was still alive at universities and there was a certain undecidability about where the world was going.” He
continued, “It was a gripping time. A lot of things were going on: the universities were in revolution, cities were self-destructing, the Vietnam War was going on, there was considerable policy innovation, the Cold War was in full tilt. There was more combustibility and change.” Academic life was greatly enriched by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, which welcomed political scientists into government with far greater frequency than either Presidents Eisenhower or Truman ever had. Many of Yale’s professors were politically active. Dahl became a leading opponent of the Vietnam War, attending protests and writing columns in The New York Times. He also sought — and won — a seat on the local Board of Aldermen. “New Haven already had the beginnings of an interesting city,” he said. “It was a wonderful and stimulating time to be there.” Kaufman was appointed to the New Haven city plan commission and later worked at the Brookings Institution. Fesler had served on Franklin Roosevelt’s National Resources Planning Board, consulted with the United Nations and worked in the administrations of Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso and New Haven Mayor Richard Lee. Lane, meanwhile, participated in marches on Washington while his wife traveled to Selma, Alabama for the Civil Rights protests. Yale was a “sensitizing” place, he said, where professors attempted to instill in students a drive to do great things. By the time Dahl, Lane, Kaufman and Fesler left the department, Yale — and the study of political science — had changed entirely. Women, blacks and other minorities were being admitted to the university in record numbers and town-gown relations had improved dramatically. What’s more, the new political science created at Yale had already influenced a noteworthy generation of public figures, from Joe Lieberman to John Kerry to George W. Bush. “So much happened so quickly,” Kaufman said. “It’s quite remarkable if you stop and think about it.” ***
ble to the behavioral revolution in generations. According to Fred Greenstein, who received a PhD in political science from Yale in 1960, the field is “less exhilarating in the pioneering sense.” For Dahl, Lane and Kaufman, days are no longer filled with graduate seminars, academic conferences and groundbreaking research. But that doesn’t mean they are ready to sit around idly all day. Lane, for instance, is still very much the political activist he was as a student. At Harvard in the 1930s, he helped organize the first union for waitresses and busboys, and convinced the university to offer scholarships to hundreds of student refugees following Kristallnacht. Since he arrived at the Whitney Center, Lane has established the National Senior Conservation Corps, which promotes ecofriendly practices at some fifty retirement communities nationwide. He still writes prolifically; after our interview, he returned to his current essay on “what happens after evolution.” “Lane has aged into his nineties acting very much the same as he did in his fifties,” Greenstein said. “He’s kind of like the Hollywood version of a tireless professor.” Nonetheless, Dahl, Lane and Kaufman are all now well past ninety years old and, of course, live in a continuing care retirement community. Dahl recently suffered a stroke and often resides in the nursing home wing of the Whitney. “But even with a stroke, he started at such a high level, he’s still ahead of most of us,” Kaufman quipped. In fact, of the political science faculty in the 1960s, Mayhew is the department’s only remaining holdover. And 45 years after arriving at Yale as an assistant professor, he is currently in the second of a three-year phased retirement. But when asked if he might one day move into the Whitney, Mayhew laughed off the question. “I’m not at that point quite yet,” he said. “Even if I were, there’s so much more to do. Political science is still changing. Who knows what will be the next revolution.” P
In many ways, political science is a less exciting discipline today. There has not been a breakthrough compara9
An Old Enemy Returns Polio Eradication in the 21st Century R h ys Du bi n
Nobody seems to think about polio anymore. In the collective consciousness of the Western World, it’s an affliction associated with old presidents and grainy, black and white children with leg braces. The imagery is always archaic — the braces are old-fashioned and primitive; the iron lung, the most iconic representation of the disease, is practically synonymous with impractical and outdated medical interventions. Yet as is common with many infectious diseases, what is old news to the United States is still a harsh reality in much of the developing world. Polio, indeed, is a disease that exploits conditions of physical iso10
lation, cultural distrust, economic disparity, war, and social upheaval. According to Dr. Robert Heimer, a professor of epidemiology and pharmacology at the Yale University School of Public Health, “Polio crops up in places where social dislocation is ongoing.” In many ways, preventable infectious diseases provide an interesting and disturbing means of assessing social, political, and cultural divides. They are a visible demonstration of the inequality and neglect that is still pervasive in many parts of the developing world. While relatively recent eradication campaigns have reduced the total number of worldwide cases by approx-
imately 99 percent, the disease is still endemic (i.e. has never been eradicated) in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Eliminating that last one percent of cases continues to be an uphill battle. Polio (or poliomyelitis) is an acute, viral, infectious disease spread primarily through fecal-oral transmission. In approximately 99 percent of cases, the infected individual shows no symptoms but still sheds virus. In the one percent of cases where the virus enters the bloodstream and central nervous system, however, it can destroy critical motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and the disease’s
characteristic paralysis, particularly in the legs. The disease has existed within human populations since prehistoric times. Egyptian paintings and carvings occasionally show otherwise healthy individuals with withered limbs, walking with canes. Until the introduction of higher sanitation standards, however, it rarely, if ever, reached epidemic proportions. Children were usually exposed to the virus in low, constant doses, resulting in a passive immunity that kept the disease in check. But towards the end of the nineteenth century, the advent of improved sewage disposal and clean water supplies radically decreased the number of children exposed to the virus, drastically increasing the number of individuals at risk for paralytic polio. Localized epidemics began to appear in Europe and the U.S. around 1900, and reached pandemic proportions in several instances throughout the first half of the twentieth century. 1952 was the worst year in American history: 58,000 cases were reported, with 3,145 deaths, and 21,269 cases of mild to severe paralysis. Even today, polio has no cure, but with the advent of two different types of vaccines in the 1950s, the prospect of eradication became feasible. Because there is no animal host or reservoir for the infection, it is theoretically possible to do away with polio completely. That the disease often affected prosperous communities unfamiliar with the ravages of infectious disease made polio an ideal candidate for eradication. Today, the remaining one percent of polio cases are located in some of the most geopolitically unstable regions of the world. This, experts contend, is no coincidence. “I don’t think its possible to look at the goals [of disease eradication] in the absence of the political situation,” said Dr. Michael Cappello, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine. “What we’re seeing in places like Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria, are examples of how short-term breakdowns in infrastructure lead to resurgence in disease incidence.” While there may be similar themes that run throughout the regions where polio still exists (namely armed conflict, physical remoteness, suspicion of western influence, and
lack of political will), the underlying problems themselves are highly particular and defy universal solutions. “If you immunize enough kids with effective doses, polio disappears,” said Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, “The reason why that hasn’t happened is very different, and different for each area within each country.” Syria represents an interesting test case, insofar as it is a country that had the disease mostly under control until the civil war began in 2010. Prior to the conflict, approximately 95 percent of children under five were vaccinated. As a result of a fundamentally inoperable healthcare system and a breakdown of basic sanitation services during the civil war, there are now an estimated 500,000 unvaccinated children who are vulnerable to infection. Twenty-two cases of polio-like paralysis (ten of which have been confirmed as poliovirus) have been reported throughout the country. Undoubtedly, the re-emergence of polio traces the development of conflict. Dr. Bruce Aylward, Assistant Director-General for Polio, Emergencies, and Country Collaboration at the WHO, recently discussed the disease in Syria with The New York Times. “The virus is the kind of virus that finds vulnerable populations,” he said, “and the combination of vulnerability and low immunization coverage, that is a time bomb. There is a real risk of this exploding into an outbreak with hundreds of cases.” The international nature of the conflict has generated a perfect storm of sorts — up to 4,000 people cross from Syria into neighboring countries every day, each one a possible carrier of the disease. “This is a virus that travels with population movements across great distances. It got to Syria through population movements. That’s very clear,” Rosenbauer told The Politic. A Pakistani strain of the disease has already been found in several children in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province, as well as in sewage samples taken in Israel and Lebanon. A recent article in the medical journal The Lancet reported that even Europe might be at risk from a polio outbreak in Syria. If, because of lax vaccination practices in non-endemic areas, the disease finds a niche,
the number of cases could explode. As a result, the international community quickly mobilized around the suspected outbreaks. “Everybody knew that Syria was a risk,” explained Rosenbauer. “Health ministers [from various countries bordering Syria] declared this a regional public health emergency, and each country is going to launch their own immunization campaigns aimed at rapidly boosting immunity levels.” Massive immunization drives have been initiated, with the goal of vaccinating over ten million children in Middle Eastern countries over the next several weeks. In contrast to the dramatic nature of the events leading to the re-emergence of polio in Syria, the continued presence of the disease in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan is a result of deeper, more entrenched cultural forces. According to Rosenbauer, the traditional problem areas of Pakistan “have been greater Karachi, the Quetta area of Baluchistan in the south, and then the federally administered tribal areas in the northwest.” Each area experiences particular problems, and there seem to be two different underlying causes for the difficulties experienced by eradication campaigns. In Karachi and Quetta, it was primarily what Rosenbauer termed “operational issues,” linked to a lack of political commitment or insufficiently planned operations — simply put, “kids were being missed.” In the tribal areas of North Waziristan, however, the issue can be traced in part to Taliban influence. In June of 2012, the group denounced vaccines as a Western plot to sterilize Muslims and imposed a ban on inoculations. Suspicions rose after a failed CIA attempt to identify the location of Osama bin Laden included a fake vaccination campaign in the city of Abbotabad. “It was a serious blow to polio efforts in many areas,” says Imtiaz Ali, a Yale World Fellow and Karachi-based reporter. “Since there was already ignorance about polio it was a big dent.” Ali’s assessment of the prospect of eradication in Pakistan was far less optimistic than Rosenbauer’s projections for Syria. “Polio, particularly in the tribal region and the Waziristan region, has become a victim of geopoli11
tics,” Ali said. “The problem is politics. And there is no easy solution to this.” While there have been attempts to de-stigmatize vaccination efforts, including ad campaigns featuring prominent religious scholars and politicians, the tribal areas’ physical isolation and fundamentally conservative nature make any real attempt at eradication incredibly difficult. Ali explained, “If the Pakistani military could control the entire region, they could give security to the polio workers. When that will happen? I don’t know.” Nigeria’s situation is much more comparable to that of Pakistan than Syria. “If you look at Nigeria, the main problem there has been getting strong political commitment at the local level, making sure the immunization campaign is properly implemented and properly run,” Rosenbauer said. The situation has improved markedly since 2003, when five states in the predominantly Muslim northern region (Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, and Buachi) boycotted vaccines on the advice of religious and local leaders, who reportedly endorsed rumors that the polio vaccine was an American conspiracy to spread
A man in Islamabad, Pakistan suffers from polio.
HIV and cause infertility. These responses were set against the backdrop of U.S. military engagement in Muslim countries, and court proceedings against Pfizer for ethics violations during antibiotic trials in Kano. Despite initial resistance, polio in Nigeria has been eliminated from all but two states, Kano and Borno. In Borno, the problem is still insecurity, mostly as a result of activity by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Though these situations seem wildly diverse, they do share distinct similarities. First, epicenters of the disease are generally isolated, economically disadvantaged, predominantly Muslim communities. Second, rumors about Western conspiracies often play a role in widespread distrust of vaccinators and vaccination efforts. The question then becomes: how do you eradicate a disease that is spread easily through asymptomatic carriers, and now primarily exists in some of the most conflicted and dangerous areas of the world? It seems that the consensus on effective polio eradication points towards education and local, micro-
level planning. “The scientific work demonstrating the impact is an important component,” explained Robert Heimer, of Yale’s School of Public Health, “but only a small component of what is necessary to make these programs acceptable to politicians and the broad public.” Most of these issues are what he calls “data proof problems” — issues where, no matter how much information you get, it’s very hard to change policy without significant cultural or political shifts. Every researcher and health worker interviewed for this story spoke to the importance of this type of local engagement. Dr. Elijah Paintsil, an epidemiologist from Yale who works on mother-to-child HIV transmission, explained his version of international medical cooperation: “Do not write an agenda. That has been a mistake over the years, in terms of global donations to resource limited countries. We are trying to reverse that and provide a model that works, that is sustainable, and that is based on mutual trust.” Paintsil’s work in Ghana is based on this notion of intensely local engagement. “They [the locals] know the local
structure and government better than we do. We are just helping them craft the message,” he explained. Imtiaz Ali put forward a similar notion in discussing Pakistan. “You have to put a very indigenous and local shape to the program. If you send outsiders, they will be suspected [of being informants].” Taliban forces are still killing vaccinators when they attempt to reach children in many regions. After all, the U.S. and Western nations have a vested interest in both eradicating the disease and also carrying out military operations. Though a proponent of education efforts and local involvement, Ali also spoke to the their strategic limitations, as vaccinators are often unable to reach those most affected by the disease as a result of insecurity. “As long as the Taliban are calling the shots and not allowing the polio workers there, I don’t see anything happening,” he said. The solution seems to lie in a tripartite structure of security, protection, and education. A study in the international research journal Nature put forward an appealing course of action. First, integrate social and political analyses into feasibility assessments (the scientific research side), strategic planning, and steering. Second, find out what is driving rumors and resistance. And third, design and monitor communication and engagement strategies that enable local populations to take ownership of their immunization program. “You engage local leaders, local traditional and religious leaders to speak on behalf of the program, to speak on behalf of the need to protect children from polio,” said Rosenbauer. Nevertheless, there does not seem to be a single “right way” to deal with these problems. Engaging the public requires strategic approaches sensitive to regional differences. The involvement of high-level figures in government, for instance, was useful in increasing vaccination rates in Nigeria and Kano. But in Afghanistan, the visibility of political figures proved too polarizing. Neutrality was needed in order to effectively convince community members to take ownership of the process. The unexpected difficulties involved in eliminating the last crop of
polio cases have raised questions about the feasibility of doing away with the virus once and for all. The number of diseases that are eligible for eradication is small, and many have questioned the reasoning behind devoting so much energy to one, perhaps to the detriment of other containment efforts. “It’s extremely difficult to eradicate a disease,” Dr. Cappello explained, “but once its done, you never have to spend again. The decision at the policy level can be very challenging.” This debate has been ongoing for much of the past few decades. Should the international community really be pursuing the eradication of polio? Or should the focus be on the mere containment of
the disease? The complexity of these issues in the face of 99 percent elimination has undeniably dulled political will in the past. Nevertheless, when the threat of explosive outbreaks emerges, the international community rallies. Rosenbauer is resolute. “If you look at Syria and Somalia at the moment, that should put that argument right to rest,” he said. “You eradicate this disease, or in ten years time you’ll have 200,000 new cases every year. Those are the choices you have. This is not a disease that can be contained.” P
Nightmare on K Street Citizen lobbyists â€” with a Politic reporter in tow â€” try to take down the NSA A a ron M a k
Five documentary filmmakers from Holland videotape a small audience listening to a presentation in the Washington, D.C. United Methodist Building. The attendees are understandably skittish at the sight of this foreign film crew. As volunteer lobbyists who have come from around the country to convince their congressmen to cease mass government surveillance, they have a complicated relationship with cameras and microphones. The speaker, Chris Lewis, begins by asking the cameramen in the room to tape him and not the attendees, adding, “We are talking about privacy after all.” The Dutch film crew starts circling to get a better angle of the audience; it is unclear whether they have a poor grasp on English or are just ignoring the request. Lewis is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Public Knowledge, a public interest group that promotes “openness of the internet.” Shortly after the Edward Snowden’s leaks, Public Knowledge and over one hundred other public advocacy groups formed the Stop Watching Us coalition. Today, October 25, on the eve of the coalition’s 2,000-person Rally Against Mass Surveillance in D.C., Lewis and his colleagues have scheduled meetings with more than fifty congressional offices for protesters who want to express their opinions individually. Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the ACLU, and Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology, take the stage after Lewis. Nojeim talks strategy. Congressmen in the Senate and House Judiciary Committees will be the most important lobbying targets as they might introduce the USA FREEDOM Act, he says, a law that will modify the PATRIOT Act and FISA to cease bulk phone and internet surveillance. The act is particularly important for privacy advocates now that the Intelligence Committees are planning to pass a competing bill that would codify many of these same surveillance practices. “It is like two trains coming at each other, and one is going to knock the other off the tracks. We hope ours makes it through,” Nojeim tells the audience. This weekend’s protest and lobbying efforts are meant to turbo-
charge the FREEDOM train. Richardson puts the lobbyists’ individual efforts into context. “Do not feel compelled to know a huge amount of detail or really sink in to this stuff,” she says. It seems that these volunteers are not here to offer reasoned arguments against mass surveillance, but rather to let their representatives know how much the issue means to them as voters. Most of the speakers stress that enthusiasm is more important than facts. *** At the end of meeting, Lewis tells the volunteers to find their teams, which organizers have prearranged based on each person’s state of residence. The idea is to have these constituents talk to their own representatives. Although I am not here to volunteer, I join the team closest to me: the Georgians. The Georgia group consists of two people. Michele Moore, a woman in her 60s, introduces herself. She wears a puffy neon yellow jacket, aquablue eye shadow, a matching blue neckerchief, and what looks like the entire contents of a well-stocked jewelry box. Michele says she joined the Stop Watching Us movement after personal struggles with invasions of privacy. She claims to have become the target of surveillance when, after working at a bank for twenty years, she blew the whistle on her superiors for dubious business practices. According to Michele, the bank tried to intimidate her by monitoring her cellphone calls, remotely controlling her computer, sabotaging her car, drugging her water, and cutting her “favorite shirt.” Since then, her strategy has been to remain vocal and visible through lobbying, so that the people in Washington notice her absence if the bank tries to make her “disappear.” The other Georgian volunteer, Warren Goodwin, is a blue-eyed, boyfaced firefighter from Atlanta with the vocabulary of a Cambridge professor. He identifies as an anarchist and wears a black T-shirt emblazoned with the acronym F.N.R.D. surrounding an eye in a pyramid — a reference to a trilogy of novels about the Illuminati. I consider asking him if he thinks displaying the Illuminati symbol on his chest will have any effect on his persuasiveness as a lobbyist, but he preempts the
question. “I’m not wearing this to the meetings,” he assures me, pulling out a mustard-brown suit jacket from his bag. I ask Warren why he is volunteering. He gives me what sounds like a pithy quote he has prepared for reporters: “Without privacy, there is no free speech. We are turning our cellphones into wiretap devices and our computers into the ‘telescreens’ of Orwell’s 1984.” Warren adds that Public Knowledge’s solutions are piecemeal; he thinks that we should be defunding the PATRIOT Act and FISA rather than amending them. Michele and Warren discover that the organizers have only scheduled one meeting for them with the staff of Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis. Because they have four spare hours, and because they are ambitious, Warren calls the offices of other Georgian politicians to schedule more. He arranges meetings with the staffs of Congressman Phil Gingrey, Congressman Paul Brown, and Senator Saxby Chambliss. I ask if I can shadow them as a student reporter. “It’ll be great to have an Asian face. We need diversity,” Michele responds. *** Security at the Cannon House Office Building is tight. Passing through is a chore, even more so today because Michele has brought a backpack and three computers strapped to a hand truck. We hold up the line of visitors for an uncomfortable five minutes to help her to go back and forth through the metal detector, disassembling and reassembling her accoutrements. We soon find ourselves in the tall, marbled halls of the House Office Building, which pack the congressmen’s offices side-by-side like dorm rooms. Warren and Michele know the layout well from past lobbying stints; Warren had advocated to end U.S. aid to Indonesia to secure the independence of East Timor and Michele had supported whistleblowers in the financial industry. The first two meetings with Congressmen Gingrey and Brown’s people fall through due to scheduling errors. Disappointed and with no staffers to talk to, Warren and Michele resort to harassing the bewildered interns working the front desks. The recep15
tionist tells us that they might have an opening in a few hours. We return to Gingrey’s office to meet with an aide for ten minutes — not a half hour with the chief-of-staff like Warren and Michele were hoping. Warren starts the pitch: “We are here to restore the Fourth Amendment.” He launches into a discussion about the collection of metadata, painting FISA as the harbinger of a dystopian America. Michele adds, “We are two Georgians who believe strongly that there is great potential for abuse.” She quotes Snowden’s statement about a “Turnkey Tyranny,” the idea that though the surveillance is currently benign, it could be misused in the near or distant future. Warren and Michelle have gone far beyond the two-line message that the organizers suggested this morning: “I understand now that the government is collecting information on innocent people, and we want it to stop. It is unconstitutional, it violates right to privacy, and I need you this fall to support efforts to reign it in.” This extra effort, however, seems lost on the polite but frustratingly equivocal aide. Michele and Warren are unsure if they are making any impact. They are uncomfortable just being a couple of passionate voters; they want their arguments to be evaluated and debated so that the staffers can truly understand why they are against mass surveillance, not only that they are against it. Later that afternoon, Warren
said it would have been better had the aide openly disagreed with them. Then it would not have felt like talking in an echo chamber. As we leave, Michele makes one last effort to break the aide’s cool and unyielding demeanor. She slyly mentions, “I see Phil [Gingrey] at the YMCA all the time.” Once outside the building, she explains that this remark is part of a carefully devised political mind game. “Now that they know I’ve seen his skinny little knees at the gym, we might have more luck.” I nod in agreement. Now they have leverage. Michele and Warren are hoping for a better meeting with Saxby Chambliss’s people. Though they have a less than flattering opinion of the Senator — Warren chooses the term “fascist” — the meeting with his staff is especially important. So important, in fact, that this is the only time that Michele asks me to check her hair and makeup. She looks good. We meet up with another team of lobbyists and enter the office. The front desk intern tells us there has been another scheduling error. “We drove all the way here to see him, you know how it is,” Michele implores. The intern apologizes, but says that the staffers have briefings all day. The lobbyists push, strutting their Georgian origins and likening the drive between Atlanta and D.C. to an odyssey of Homeric proportions. They manage to arrange a fleeting five-minute meeting with another demurring staffer, but
he soon leaves for another briefing. Upon leaving Chambliss’ office, one of the Public Knowledge advocates in the other team tells Michele, a volunteer photographer, and me to go to Senator Al Franken’s office to attend a pre-scheduled meeting with one of his aides specializing in Internet privacy. Michele, after the disappointments of the morning, is excited to talk to someone well-versed in the issue. Yet before long, we find ourselves in yet another senator’s office with no one to talk to due to what the receptionist calls a “snafu.” She offers us a meeting in a half hour with a different staffer, who is unfamiliar with the subject, down on the first floor. As we exit the office, Michele makes a furious beeline for the first floor. The photographer, wanting to discuss strategy, tells her to wait up. “Don’t tell me what to do!” she yells back. I chase after her. “I don’t know who our photographer friend is, but he seems to want to take over,” Michele tells me once we’ve found the office. For the whole day, she has been a well of calm optimism; this sudden spate of anger is startling. Perhaps, as error piled on top of error, and disappointment added to disappointment, this last “snafu” finally broke the camel’s back. She had recounted earlier in the day that, on previous trips to Washington, staffers treated her as a “nutjob.” She was hoping that this time, in light of the NSA leaks, she would actually make a change and voice her opinions. This day has most likely not lived up to her expectations. The photographer, a portly man with asthma, takes a while to catch up with us. When he finally does, he wails at Michele, “You are out of control!” “No, you are out of control!” she shoots back. They squabble over the power structure of our lobbying team. ***
K Street, a Washington, D.C. thoroughfare, known as a center for lobbyists and advocacy groups.
Michele and Warren’s less-than-triumphant day in D.C. is not surprising. According to Professor James Thurber, who directs the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute at American University, privacy groups like Public Knowledge are fighting an uphill battle. “The winners in Washington
Decoding the NSA 10
Every minutes, the NSA reviews terabytes of data. The same amount of data can be found in
of Americans believe that the United States is doing a poor job of protecting the right to privacy.
The average Facebook user has friends. "Three hops" - the virtual distance the NSA is allowed to travel from a target - from that user would produce a network of
Is the protection of civil liberties more important than protection from terrorist harm?
of Americans disapprove of the government listening to phone calls made in the United States.
5% Yes No
House Vote to Limit NSA Data Collection 100
The US is connected to other countries via fiber optic cables.
of Americans think that the illegal release of U.S. materials is justified if it shows that the government broke the law.
are those who want to keep the status quo,” says Thurber in an interview with The Politic. Public interest groups intent on change need to develop a kingmaker reputation by demonstrating that they can mobilize a sizeable contingent to threaten a representative come election time. Groups like the AARP and the NRA access congressmen by flaunting their nationwide grassroots structures, which allow them to mobilize voters in a certain state. “An intern may talk to you in the office, if you’re lucky,” says Thurber of less established groups. Public Knowledge’s struggles are twofold. For one, privacy groups usually do not have a well-developed grassroots base, which is especially important because their target is formidable. “There is definitely an establishment in the intelligence, defense, and telecommunications communities that makes it very difficult to gain power and threaten a member of congress,” Thurber says. He further claims that mobilizing volunteer lobbyists is a mistake and balked at the notion that facts could play second fiddle to enthusiasm. “If you have a bunch of amateurs coming in and volunteering because they feel strongly about [an issue], it’s very hard to have a common core of authority to pursue a clear objective.” Warren might disagree. When I meet up with him at the end of our day in D.C., his optimism is unscathed. He describes his experience as “the activation energy of a chemical reaction.” In the coming weeks, he plans on calling the offices he has visited over and over again to build on the small impact of his visit; he will undoubtedly return to Washington soon to restate his case. Warren believes that it was this sort of tenacious activism that finally ended U.S. foreign aid to Indonesia, and thus secured the independence of East Timor. He is confident that the privacy movement will grow and that he can help pull off another victory in the struggle against the NSA. In lieu of funding or institutional influence, Warren trusts the power of persistence. P
Of Scalpels & Stump Speeches An Interview with Ben Carson J ust i n Sch ust er & M att he w Cohen
Ben Carson is a professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as well as a political commentator, columnist and author. Born in 1951, Carson was brought up in poverty by a single mother before attending Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School. At just 33, Carson was named the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, the youngest major division director in the institution’s history. In 1987, he became the first surgeon in the world to successfully separate craniopagus twins, brothers fused at the head, an accomplishment that later earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Following several widely covered 2013 speeches on social issues and the federal government, Carson has become a highly sought-after conservative speaker and rumored 2016 presidential candidate. He has also served as co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center, authored four bestselling books, and served on the boards of the Kellogg Company and Costco. Carson is an emeritus fellow of the Yale Corporation.
Has there been one most influential person or event in your life that had the most significant effect on your career?
BC The most influential person would be my mother, who had a very difficult upbringing and only had a third grade education, but was a person who never made excuses and never
accepted excuses from us. I think in retrospect that was probably the best thing she ever did. TP You are most famous for the first ever separation of craniopagus twins, an operation that required a 70-person team and 22 hours. How do you prepare for something like that?
BC Each case is going to be different, obviously. Nobody really has an enormous amount of experience. You certainly want to read about what other people have done in order to add to your own basic knowledge. You also have to keep an open mind because one thing you can be sure of is it’s going to be different than what you expect. You need to be able to react to that difference, or there’s a good chance the patient won’t survive. TP
Why did you decide to retire from surgery at what could might be considered the prime of your career?
BC First of all, someone had told me that neurosurgeons die early. I didn’t believe that, so I wrote down the names of the last ten neurosurgeons that I knew who died. I calculated the average age of death and it was 61. I really didn’t want to die in the battle. Secondly, I wanted to be sure that Johns Hopkins was in very good shape, so I felt that it was a perfect time for me to exit. Also, I have been for many 19
years very, very concerned about not only the young people in our nation and their future, but progressively I’ve become more concerned about the direction of the nation itself. TP
Recently, you’ve received a great deal of national attention for your talks and lectures on the political circuit. How did you first become interested in politics?
BC I’ve always been interested, in general, about society. And I’ve always been very interested in history. But more recently, as I’ve thought about my children — and now I even have a grandchild with another one coming soon — I’m starting to think about their future. And the fact is, yes, there are some people who are alarmed, but some people really just say, “Eh it’s okay, don’t worry about it.” And that’s the kind of attitude that a lot of society is about before they self-destruct. I think that there’s something very special about America. Yes, we are the pinnacle nation of the world. There is no question about that. There have been others before us, and they’ve all done the same thing and that’s destroying themselves like tolerating political corruption and relinquishing fiscal responsibility. I think that because of the special nature of the United States there is a possibility that somehow we can learn from what has happened to others and actually change the course. Some people say that there is no point in fighting history, but I just don’t think that that is true. TP
We know that you are very vocal in the political policy debate. What are your thoughts on party affiliations and how they affect the political debate?
BC I personally wish that we had a national rule that when people vote, there can be no D, R or I on the ballot. They have to know what the person actually thinks, and not just vote on party affiliation. I think that contributes to the fact that a large number of people really don’t know who they are voting for. That contributes to what is going on in society. It was [once] a sacrifice, to go to Washington as a representative. But now, there is a really big dis20
Ben Carson receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2008.
connect between the people and their representatives. For instance, it’s easier for people to become more distant from their constituents, significantly so. And they don’t really represent their constituents. I get to see it because I’m out talking with thousands of people at a time virtually every day, and most of them don’t feel that their people really represent them at all. This is supposed to be a nation that was built for and by the people. TP To what extent has your medical career shaped your identity as a political spokesperson? As a career medical professional, what are your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? BC On your campus, there’s the statue of Nathan Hale, the teenage rebel. He is famous for saying, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” It takes bravery to make changes. People who will go along to get along and want everybody to like them seldom accomplish anything. In terms of the Affordable Care Act, my big concern is that it could put too much control of people’s lives in the hands of the government. And I think this represents a fundamen-
tal shift of power in the structure of America. People were supposed to be at the pinnacle of power; it is supposed to be a nation built by the people and for the people. The most important thing that anyone can have is their life and their health. This [act] is something that has fundamentally changed that relationship, and that’s very, very concerning. Most people don’t even realize what is happening. The real purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to gain control of people’s lives. As we see it rolling out, we are finding all of these things out about it. We spend twice as much per capita on healthcare than the next closest nation, and yet we don’t have good access and we still have a lot of issues. You can’t fix that with a 2,000 page monstrosity and 10,000 pages of regulations. TP
Given the current political atmosphere, what are your thoughts on the GOP and how do you see the Republican Party changing in the coming years?
BC I think that it’s important for both parties to recognize that we need to be doing things to help everybody. I think the GOP needs to really brand themselves as the “party of opportu-
nity.” What has happened with the Democrats, unknowingly I believe, is that they have maintained a lot of the downtrodden in a depressed situation. What you really have to do is provide people with a hand up, a way to utilize their resources and turn their resources into helping the community. There are a number of economic things to empower people. We need to be concentrating on those kinds of things, not on “somebody did you wrong.” It’s this arrogance that is permeating our society, as opposed to the “can-do” attitude that characterizes how America rose to the pinnacle of the world. TP
On the note of Washington doing what’s best for the American people, how would you evaluate the Republican and Democratic leadership during the recent shutdown fiasco?
BC Well I think that the “my way or the highway” mindset is extremely immature. I find it extremely disappointing. I think that we just have to keep trying to show that there is a better way. That we all have to live here together, that we’re all in the same boat. We need to stop fighting so much. Many of the politicians are above this, and the American people are not each other’s enemies, but we have people who drive wedges into any crack that they can see. And they create wars —
racial wars, age wars, gender wars, any kind of war that they can create — because it’s much easier to handle that than to deal with the whole problem. One of the things that I hope to do is to travel around the country and try to get people to realize that they are not each other’s enemies. They don’t know where the real enemies are. We should teach them how to identify those enemies. It doesn’t matter whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent; those people are just not helpful. TP
How do you integrate morals and family values into today’s political discussions?
BC Values are absolutely essential. The reason why America isn’t competing as well as in the past is because, in our public schools, we used to teach morals, we used to teach principles. We taught the difference between right and wrong. Our society today has become so politically correct that nothing is right and nothing is wrong, everything is relative. Because if you proclaim one thing to be right or wrong, you might hurt somebody. That is such an immature attitude and yet that permeates particularly universities where you have a lot of left-leaning faculty. I think if people thought through what they were teaching, they might be able to fix some of this. I think political correctness is anathema
to a free society, and I would encourage everyone to read a book called “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky. He points out a lot of what is going on in America in that book. TP To wrap things up on somewhat of a light-hearted note, the Wall Street Journal recently published an op-ed titled “Ben Carson for President,” which stated, “Carson may not be politically correct, but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.” Have you ever considered a run for office? BC It’s not something that I really want to do to be honest with you. Obviously I get a lot of pressure every place I go. What I see myself as is the voice of reason, helping to wake people up. Maybe someone will come along who really wants that title. I’m not the one who really wants to do that, but at the same time I also don’t want to run away from responsibility. I’d much prefer to learn how to play the organ and improve my golf game, but there are troubling things going on in this country and I would love to make this a better place for the future.
For the full text of this interview, visit www.thepolitic.org P
Worlds Apart An Inside Look at the First Semester of Yale-NUS College Ben jami n W ei n er & Er ic Wa ng
Petitions. Denunciations. Angry op-eds. When Yale-NUS College was first announced, it was met with controversy and skepticism in the Western Hemisphere. In Singapore, on the other hand, the college’s inaugural ceremony on August 27, 2013 was marked by jubilant festivities. Some 500 faculty members and supporters crowded a high, gleaming stage. Yale University and the National University of Singapore each presented the new college with a set of fifty books, authored by alumni of the respective institutions. 22
And incoming President Pericles Lewis — formerly Yale’s fresh-faced professor of comparative literature, famed among students for his dapper suits — marched out in red and white academic regalia, evoking Singapore’s national flag. Smiling down at the audience, Lewis proclaimed, “Now all of us here are embarked on our own odyssey — our own voyage of discovery into uncharted waters, dedicating ourselves as a crew to work together in building a new community of learning here in Singapore.”
Three months into this odyssey, the Class of 2017 has experienced the whirlwind of orientation and are nearing the completion of their first semester. After firmly planting their feet in Singaporean soil and their heads in the “great books,” the real work is beginning. Administrators and donors can create the space for learning, but it is up to the students to build their university from the ground up. The unique premise of the college, a collaboration between Yale and the National University of Singapore, practically guarantees that students
have to create their own model. They have no peer institutions to consult, no traditions to fall back on, and no guide to crafting the liberal arts in Asia. As one student told The Politic, “It’s definitely a one-in-a-million opportunity to be part of a culture that creates rather than adopts.” In Singapore, as in most of Asia, liberal arts institutions are practically nonexistent. Singaporean independence only came fifty years ago, and since then Singapore’s GDP per capita has increased more than a hundredfold and outstripped that of the United States. Like the other “Asian Tiger” nations, Singapore has stimulated this growth through robust investments in education for the sciences, engineering, medicine, and law. As a result, the National University of Singapore is consistently ranked among the best research universities in Asia. An unintended side-effect, however, is that the humanities are often cast aside in favor of STEM disciplines. In this sort of climate, it is no surprise that Singaporean officials looked West when designing their liberal arts institution. According to Lewis, Yale-NUS represents a change in thinking about higher education in the region. “It’s been championed by a number of Singaporean administrators. They understand that as the economy gets more complex, the knowledge economy expands,” he said. “We want our graduates to see themselves as citizens in the world. It is one way to make a difference in Asian higher education.”
interviewed cited it as a major factor in their decision to attend Yale-NUS over other elite institutions. In fact, the academic structure also deviates quite significantly from Yale. YaleNUS, with just 157 students, is more akin to a small liberal arts college, and it firmly adheres to a Common Core Curriculum. Imagine a school where Yale’s Directed Studies — an intensive program covering great thinkers of the West — incorporates Eastern thinkers like Confucius and works like the Indian Ramayana, and every student takes it. “The Common Curriculum at Yale-NUS is unlike any other undergraduate course in the world,” YaleNUS freshman Graham Link told The Politic. “It is at once a bridge across all members of the college community, as well as a sweeping primer of ourselves.” Fellow student Carmen Denia cited “the East-meets-West aspect of being in a liberal arts college in Asia,” and affirmed that the last half-semester made good on this promise. Students are also eager to create a new model of higher education. Andy Chen, a student and native of New Zealand, blogged about this enthusiasm in the entrepreneurial language shared by so many of his classmates: “YaleNUS is like a start-up in education. There’s the chance it could crash and
burn, there’s the chance it could create a new model for higher education, there’s the chance it might just become one-in-many liberal arts universities, but you know that regardless of the final outcome, helping Yale-NUS to grow and define itself will be an exciting and rewarding experience.” “There are no entrenched department interests — indeed, there are no departments. There are no courses or curricular tracks honed to a fine edge by years of individual or collective effort that might be endangered by a new approach. And there are, as of yet, no alumni,” a report by the Yale-NUS Inaugural Curriculum Committee explained. “Thus, a new institution like Yale-NUS has a unique opportunity to ask which of the various existing models of general education might be the most effective, and whether new models that do not exist at all in long-standing institutions might do even better. The question of ‘how do we get there from here’ simply does not arise; the only question is, ‘where do we want to start?’” Designing a cross-cultural liberal arts curriculum is no mean feat. Reports quickly streamed in of students pulling frantic all-nighters, and enthusiastic professors were forced to pare down their syllabi accordingly. The same newness that allowed them
*** In early November, The Politic surveyed 78 of the 157 students in Yale-NUS’ inaugural class. Some 62 percent of respondents believe that the liberal arts are valued in Singapore, giving their school a regional monopoly on this growing demand. Pek Shibao, a Singaporean sophomore at Yale who worked at Yale-NUS in the summer of 2012, told to The Politic, “This is the first outlet in Singapore where students can learn in a liberal arts style. Students are taking a risk going there and they know it and they love it.” An emphasis on the literature and history is a huge draw to many students in Asia, and several freshmen
Protesters at Speaker’s Corner, the only space in Singapore where demonstrations can be held without a permit.
to assign a crushing amount of work also made them nimble enough to make mid-semester adjustments without a hitch. In spite of the overzealous professors, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “We were all excited, everyone was excited — in fact, lots of people left the military to intern at Yale-NUS,” Shibao said. Denia discussed student life in terms not unfamiliar to students at Yale: “People are also very excited about teaching each other and being taught in turn. My own peers have been setting up a cappella workshops, dance classes, basketball games, Rector’s Teas, outings, drawing lessons, movie screenings, science tutorials, and charity projects while also taking part in the things I’ve been setting up with my circle of friends. It’s a very exciting place to be right now!” Since the beginning of the semester students have founded more than thirty organizations. One survey respondent wrote on The Politic’s anonymous survey, “THIS PLACE IS AMAZING.” Out of 78 respondents, in fact, 36 chose to write a paragraph in the optional “What else would you like us to know?” text box. Yale students, who frequently receive and ignore online polls, will surely realize this is extraordinary in and of itself. What’s more, in the responses from Yale-NUS students, there’s a serious, unironic discourse of changing the world and transforming higher education; the students are evidently excited to discuss their school. On this side of the Pacific, however, Yale-NUS is scarcely discussed by most Yale undergraduates. Aside from the occasional op-ed and University-led information session, the topic is rarely broached. So why, despite the efforts of Yale-NUS’s Class of 2017 to define their fledgling college, the heavy silence from New Haven? Undoubtedly, Yale College has been insulated from Yale-NUS from the start. Borne out of a personal collaboration between Presidents Richard Levin of Yale and Tan Chorh Chuan of NUS, the new institution was under the purview of the larger University. The project’s most salient moment came in the midst of criticism from Yale College faculty last spring, when the professors voted on a resolution 24
drafted by Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Mayer Professor of Political Science. The faculty commented on Singapore’s history of human rights abuses and political repression, and Benhabib brought her complaints about the lack of transparent dialogue and “naïve missionary sentiment” of the project to the Yale Daily News. Even then, Yale-NUS was already a fait-accompli. *** On October 14, 2013, President Lewis and his Dean of Students Kyle Farley, who were in New Haven for Salovey’s inauguration, held an open forum to update Yale College on YaleNUS’s first semester. Fewer than a dozen students attended. Many students at Yale-NUS, however, insist that the connection is alive and well. Administrators tend to define the relationship in terms of collaboration and partnership. “Yale-NUS draws on the resources and traditions of two great universities,” states official literature. Some of the college’s students fall back on familial metaphors to cut through the stuffy verbiage of their founding documents. “I like to visualize Yale as an older sibling who I know has got our back as we step out and try something challenging and new,” said Denia. Her classmate Graham Link framed the situation somewhat differently: “Yale is, put most simply, a parent, and has imparted us with many of its most basic lessons. But we are not Yale. And as with any ﬂedgling youth, Yale-NUS is working feverishly to carve out a niche of its own.” This sentiment is far from universal on the Singaporean campus. When asked, “Do you feel a strong connection to Yale?” students were evenly split, with 49 percent replying affirmatively and 51 percent negatively. Forty-nine percent of students said they feel equally close to Yale and NUS, whereas 18 percent indicated they felt closer to Yale and 33 percent indicated NUS. The Yale-NUS Class of 2017 did spend several weeks over the summer living in Berkeley College and experiencing New Haven. Twenty-one Yale professors currently teach at NUS as “Visiting Faculty.” And Yale-NUS students have access to more than
three dozen term or summer programs around the globe exclusive to Yale. But according to one respondent in the latter group, “Yale-NUS is not an independent school; it is a residential college of NUS that is thus closer to NUS than it is to Yale. People willing to study here should understand that Yale-NUS only has a minimal relationship with Yale, and thus they should only want to study here if they are interested in learning at a liberal arts institution in Asia and not because they want to be part of a school affiliated with Yale. Yale-NUS is an extraordinary opportunity, but it doesn’t share any fundamental similarities with Yale beyond the name.” Yet whether as a sibling, a parent, or simply a name, Yale inevitably looms large in the conversations taking place in Singapore. And buried beneath the glossy promotional material, reservations persist about the connection with New Haven. Some critics question the compatibility of a liberal arts education with a country whose track record on human rights and political repression is shaky. Others are uncomfortable with the premise of “Westernizing” Asian education and often raise Singapore’s long imperial history. But of the 78 Yale-NUS students surveyed, all 78 indicated that they thought higher education in East Asia would benefit from adopting some practices of Western liberal arts institutions. At the October open forum, Lewis said that academic freedom has never been a large problem at NUS and other universities with programs in Singapore. But many Yalies put their liberal arts educations into practice through political activism and community organizing, options that simply do not exist in Singapore like they do in the U.S. Is it hypocritical, Yalies wonder, to have Yale-NUS students read of Socrates’ principled defiance of the state in Plato’s Apology while forbidding them from taking the same stand outside the classroom? Lewis insisted to The Politic that the situation has been considered. “A student might be arrested during a political protest,” he said. “We’ve made it very clear what the laws are and the special protections our students have, so we’re well-prepared to deal with a crisis if it ever arises.”
YaleNUSCollege by the numbers Would you feel comfortable expressing your political opinion outside of the classroom?
Have you yet or do you intend to engage in political activism during your time at Yale-NUS?
Are the liberal arts valued in Singapore?
Do you feel a strong connection to Yale?
Do you feel a stronger connection to Yale or NUS?
What effect will Yale-NUS have on Yaleâ€™s international reputation?
18% Yale NUS Same
On November 3, 2013, The Politic conducted a survey of 78 of the 157 Yale-NUS students.
On the ground, the Yale-NUS Class of 2017 views these criticisms with disdain. 50 percent of survey respondents declared their intention to participate in political activism as students, and an overwhelming 96 percent said that they would feel comfortable expressing their political opinions outside the classroom. 49 percent indicated that they have already or intend to engage in political activism. Four out of five students would also
tell you that the criticism is entirely unjustified. “[Critics] would benefit from actually coming over here and seeing what it’s like before continuing to espouse their uninformed views,” said one student. Another would like to “cordially invite any Yale faculty members with doubts on their mind to visit Singapore once and allow us to answer any of their questions in person.” One respondent told The Politic, “The only problem I have with the
whole Yale controversy — aside from a clear lack of understanding of Singapore’s culture — is that I feel pressured to engage in political activism just for the sake of proving it wrong.” Of the 78 students surveyed, in fact, not a single one believed Yale-NUS would reflect poorly on Yale’s international reputation. “It feels unfair and unjustified to be criticized by people who have never visited our school or spoken to any of the students here,” one respondent elaborated. “I thought that Yale fostered an open-minded community. During our summer at Yale everyone was so nice, positive, and took really great care of us — it was one of the best summers I have ever had. Which makes it even more sad to think that some of the students, who attend that same school where I had those fantastic experiences, have written so many unjust and, frankly, nasty comments and/or articles about us. I am quite surprised at the hostility shown by Yale students.” More than one student informed The Politic that, regardless of country or culture, “haters gonna hate.” Ultimately, the best hopes for this ambitious experiment in education ultimately lie with its people, the intrepid students and faculty who have gathered at Yale-NUS from around the world. These thinkers and doers — chosen from among the world’s best instructors and some 10,000 student applicants — have dared to be part of something new in the face of doubts and uncertainty, acerbic op-eds and sky-high expectations. It is up to them to steer their “community of learning” towards what could either be an embarrassing footnote in the history of globalization or a celebration of Yale’s commitment to education across the world. The scores of students reached by The Politic, at least, are determined to choose the latter. P
Yale-NUS students are exposed to both the teachings of Western scholars (such as Plato) and Eastern scholars (such as Confucius).
Syria, Snowden & Obama An Interview with Seymour Hersh Jacek Ole sz c z u k Seymour Hersh is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who regularly contributes pieces on military and security issues to The New Yorker. In 1969, Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize for his work revealing the cover-up of the My Lai Massacre in the Vietnam War. He has also been an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. In 1983, Hersh’s biography of President Richard Nixon, “The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House,” won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hersh has also received five George Polk Awards, as well as the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language.
What is your opinion on the situation in Syria?
SH Bashar, period. It is all over. It has been over for a long time. There is so much hostility towards [President] Bashar [al-Assad], towards Hezbollah in America… you can’t see straight. Bashar is the only game in town. At the minimum, six, eight months. He is winning the war, he is going to win the war. Do you really think — and despite what Israel says — do you really think you want Mouhawis or Salafists to get control of that country, and the Sunnis control the opposition? Israel would move in two minutes to strike them out. So I do not think there are any options but Bashar. He might take some FSA [Free Syrian Army] or some of the secular opposition in a coalition government with him. I think that would be great if he shared a little power. He might not. But is no alternative. TP
You also said that the Obama administration “lies systematically” but that the media do not challenge him. Why do you think that is?
SH I used to work at the New York Times. It’s still the best newspaper in America, probably in the world. Local
stuff they do okay on, but when it comes to covering Washington it is comical. Look, this is the President who fired Stanley McChrystal for mouthing off within two days after he came back, and then he gets General Clapper, the guy who lied to Senator [Ron] Wyden about what the NSA is doing but doesn’t bother him. This is the President who, according to all the books I have read, had the most amazing Internet and computer operation in the re-election campaign. But what’s happened? Look, I voted for him twice, I have no problem saying that. I just think that on foreign policy he is a terrible disappointment. He was going to throw missiles at Syria? For what? He had not made the case that Syria did the gas warfare. Well? He has not made to me, he has not made it to any people in the government. It is a very strong possibility they did not. But the bottom line is that he certainly did not know when he was talking about firing missiles. I can tell you right now there are many people in the Pentagon who are most unhappy about that, that this guy was going to fire missiles to protect this red line. I do not know, I am not qualified, I have not read enough Melanie Klein or Anna Freud or Freud to know what the hell is going on with him but there is something wrong with the guy.
What is your opinion on the actions of Mr. Snowden?
SH Well, look, obviously he violated confidence, and you can’t reward somebody for that, but he certainly opened the doors. He got all of this issues sensitized. The spying, getting intellectual information, and getting information about corporations — it is very handy. Snowden has not told us anything yet that we did not know. He has not said a single thing that makes you think NSA guys know what they are doing what it comes to spying on people that want to hurt us. I think their record is abysmal and I think it is one the great scandals of our time how little they have done to actually stop a terrorist before it happens. Not 9/11, not the guys in Boston. Let us see nine, ten years after 9/11 we got some guy who blows up his pants, his underwear on a plane and that is a panic? That is the best they can do after ten years? Gets on a plane and sets himself on fire. Come on, that is a big scare? Not to me.
For the full text of this interview, visit www.thepolitic.org.
To Infinity & Beyond? The Future of the U.S. Space Industry A le x Coole y
In April 1961, the Soviet Union posed a grave existential threat to the United States. Four years earlier, the Soviets had shocked the U.S. with the successful launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik. Yuri Gagarin had just become the first human to orbit the planet, and the frightening prospect of a communist-controlled nuclear missile base in outer space appeared more and more realistic. With his country rapidly losing the space race, President John F. Kennedy announced the ambitious goal of sending an American to the moon before 1970. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other 28
things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” he declared, prompting a massive increase in the size of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA’s share of the federal budget shot up from less than one percent in 1961 to five percent in 1966, and Kennedy’s dream was realized in 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in “one giant leap for mankind.” Fifty-two years after Kennedy’s promise, NASA’s $17 billion budget comprises less than 0.5 percent of federal spending, and recent disagreements in Washington have further handicapped the government agency. Mandatory
sequestration cuts decreased NASA’s budget by roughly five percent and forced the agency to scrap research programs and space missions. NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011, causing some to proclaim that NASA’s demise was imminent. Yet while the space race is over and its resources are constrained, the agency is once again hankering to fundamentally alter the nature of space exploration. *** A generation ago, no private corporation had the resources to challenge NASA’s monopoly over an expanding American presence in the
solar system. But the downsizing of NASA has ushered in a sharp growth in the number of private space companies. One of these is Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company formed in 2010 with Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt as key investors. The company promises to conduct missions that NASA does not. Another — Virgin Galactic — seeks to give ordinary citizens the opportunity to explore space, whereas only expert astronauts have participated in NASA spaceflight in the past. Virgin Galactic has created the commercial space industry and hopes to make space tourism profitable. Similarly, the private space company SpaceX
has developed plans to send paying citizens to Mars. Last year, billionaire Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced his company’s intention to land a rocket on Mars by 2018 and eventually start a colony of 80,000 people. Are corporations really the future leaders of space exploration? Not everyone is convinced. “Private enterprise cannot lead a space frontier,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson told The Politic. “They have never led a frontier in the history of cultures, if that frontier was expensive, dangerous, with uncertain risks. When that happens, you can’t value it in the capital markets. Private enterprise
comes into the fold after governments have explored the frontiers, drawn the maps, assessed the danger points, and understood the risks.” For NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the alleged competition between NASA and private space organizations simply does not exist. “The real competition is between private space companies,” he told The Politic. “SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, are three very strong competitors right now to see who is going to get NASA’s contract to take humans to the International Space Station. It is industry versus industry to determine who is going to be the winner in carrying humans to places like the ISS and other destinations we will develop in the coming years.” Currently, NASA lacks the capability to launch humans into orbit, so it relies on private companies to transport astronauts to the International Space Station to perform servicing missions. Thus, the private companies are really working for NASA, and the real competition is for which company’s bid NASA accepts. Contracting these transportation services to private companies then frees up time and resources for NASA to spend on what Bolden characterized as its most important goal: deep-space exploration. Human spaceflight has never reached an asteroid, for instance. But NASA has spent $2.8 billion to launch an asteroid into lunar orbit, with the intention of eventually sending astronauts to it. NASA is interested in exploring asteroids for a variety of reasons, including exploitation for economic gain. “Asteroids [contain] industrial materials that we can use to set up manufacturing plants that could serve as the basis for a future thriving economy,” said Tom Jones, a former NASA astronaut and advisor at Planetary Resources. If astronauts were able to extract valuable resources from asteroids not found on Earth, Jones explained, these materials would create new industries and employment opportunities in the U.S. Perhaps the most compelling reason NASA is focusing on asteroids is to prepare for future expeditions to Mars. Both President Obama and Bolden have promised to send a man into Mars’ orbit 29
by the 2030s, and asteroid exploration is the first step in achieving this goal. Bolden confirmed that asteroid exploration would have lots of spillover effects for Mars missions. We must “[refine] our life-support systems for humans traveling to [outer space],” Bolden said, “as right now the life-support systems that we have are not as resilient and robust as we need them to be for what could be a three-year journey to and from Mars.” “By designing the solar electric propulsion system that we intend to use to move the asteroid, we again are finding a new propulsion method of sending large cargo and the like to Mars,” Bolden continued. “So most of what we are doing and hoping to do with the asteroid is actually in preparation for sending humans to Mars.” *** Today, Mars seems like America’s most promising springboard for expansion. Americans have always dreamed of extending their frontier, after all, and pushing deeper into the unknown. “It is sort of like humans deciding to go across the Mississippi River,” Bolden explained. “They didn’t
decide they wanted to do it just to see what was over there and come back to the East Coast. They settled there. Then they crossed the Rockies and settled there. Then they got to the West Coast and they still weren’t happy. That’s just human nature.” “I think [humans] want to live somewhere else, in addition to Earth. That’s not to replace Earth, but in addition to Earth. And so the ultimate goal of NASA’s endeavors in trying to get humans to Mars is so that humanity can live there one day.” While Bolden stressed Mars’ importance to enhancing the living opportunities for Americans, Mars may also have great political value for the United States. Tyson argued that international competition affects NASA’s desire to be at the forefront of deepspace exploration. “If China said, ‘Let’s put a military base on Mars,’ we would be on Mars in ten months,” he said. Just as Americans were galvanized to shift the balance of the space race when the Soviets were dominating, Tyson contended, a credible foreign threat to settle Mars could motivate Americans to assert hegemony by increasing the size and scope of NASA.
General Charles Bolden, Jr. assumed the role of NASA Administrator on July 15, 2009.
No matter the specific size of its budget or the growth in private space companies, NASA is not going to “fall from space,” Bolden said. Private agencies will perform contract work for NASA and allow the agency to concentrate more fully on deep-space exploration. Yet the ultimate success of these missions rests in the hands of the American public. The primary challenge for sending Americans to Mars, Bolden explained, is not technological but “actually fiscal, and a matter of national will.” In order to accomplish its ambitious goals, NASA will require sustained federal funding and a popular mandate. It is thanks to substantial public support, after all, that NASA has been critical in countless scientific breakthroughs, from GPS and the Internet to Tempur-pedic mattresses and the cordless vacuum. “I could go on and on,” Bolden said, “but that makes a difference in people’s lives.” For the full text of the interview with General Charles Bolden, visit www.thepolitic.org P
Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? A look at honor killings in Pakistan and night hunting in Bhutan Meiry u m A li & A n na Mei x ler
In September of this year, an Indian court sentenced four New Delhi men to death for gang-raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman. They had assaulted her so brutally that she died two weeks later. The attack ignited a firestorm of protest and policy changes in India, from street demonstrations and online petitions to tougher punishments for abusers. International media outlets covered the rape with an intensity usually reserved for royal weddings and celebrity trials, calling attention to the need for greater safety measures for women in India.
A late 2013 survey of more than 10,000 men in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka found that 24 percent of Asian men admitted to committing rape. In some areas, the figure rose as high as 62 percent. The study, conducted by the United Nations, found that shockingly few of the self-admitted rapists — 72 to 97 percent across countries — ever faced legal repercussions, like the men in New Delhi gang rape case. Gang rape, indeed, makes up only a small part of the story of vio-
lence against women in Asia. Yet the international community fixates on violence it can understand — like unambiguous sexual assault — and ignores other pressing threats to women’s well-being. As a result, it tends to overlook two of the most egregious forms of violence facing women in Asia: honor killings and night hunting. *** In 2012, in the town of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, a mother and father killed their 15-year-old daughter for talking to a young man outside her 31
Women queue for free food distributed in the suburbs of Islamabad, Pakistan.
house. The parents beat their daughter and doused her with acid. They told police that they thought their daughter was having an illicit affair with the man, which in their opinion warranted death. “It was her destiny to die this way,” the mother explained. Such an act is referred to as an honor killing: the murder of women, and occasionally men, for disgracing their family or clan. “Most honor killings occur in countries where the concept of women as a vessel of the family reputation predominates,” said Marsha Freeman, Director of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch at the University of Minnesota, in National Geographic. Any violation of family honor renders a woman liable to being killed, in order to protect her family’s standing. Violations range from marital infidelity to pre-marital sex to mere flirting. Usually, a male family member — a husband, father, or brother — carries out the killing. Honor killings remain prevalent in rural Pakistan. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2012 report, 913 girls and 32
women were killed for this reason last year. At least 604 of the victims were killed after being accused of having illicit relations with men, often without proof, and 191 were killed because they had married by their own choice, against their families’ wishes. In Sindh, a province in southern Pakistan, honor killings are known as karo-kari. The word karo literally translates to “black man” and kari, to “black woman.” According to the Asian Human Rights Committee, the term implies that offenders have blackened themselves by committing sin and dishonoring their families. The original meaning of the word shames both the man and the woman involved — one cannot call a man a karo without calling out his kari. However, punishment for karokari almost always falls on the woman. According to Akmal Wasim, a professor at Karachi’s Hamdard University, the manifestation of a man’s honor has traditionally been his wife in societies located on the Indian subcontinent. “The decision in karo-kari cases is usually to kill the woman, or [give] away
girls from the perpetrator’s family or from the victim’s family, depending on the case, as a settlement between the parts,” he explained. “So in this case we have other women ‘wiping out’ the alleged sin committed. It is a clear example of the way women are considered sexual property.” This attitude toward women is not specific to a single religion. Although Islam is the predominant religion in Pakistan, honor killing also exists in non-Muslim cultures. In 2012, at least seven Hindu and six Christian women also fell victim to honor killings. The issue is not religion, but rather location; honor killing predates Islam on the Indian subcontinent and, according to experts, is indicative of the region’s patriarchal culture. Pakistan’s constitution formally guarantees gender equality, stating that “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. Steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life.” But the constitution might as well not exist in many rural areas, where the decisions of local tribal councils often take precedence over the Pakistani penal code. This dual legal system has produced a deep rift in attitudes toward honor killings. People living in cities deem honor killing barbaric, while many in tribal areas find it acceptable. An editorial published in the English-language national newspaper Express Tribune — whose readership is largely urban — referred to Pakistan’s tribal belts as “primitive societies […] where men address any real or perceived breach in their honour in extreme fashion.” Perhaps in light of mounting national and international backlash against honor killings, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s 2012 report did note certain cases in which the police and courts opposed family members and tribal councils. For example, when one woman left her husband to elope with a cousin, her father and husband threatened to kill them both and asked the police to arrest the couple. The Sindh High Court, however, halted the arrest and provided the couple with protection. Perhaps the best way to approach honor killings, experts say, is
to change cultural attitudes and thus prevent them from happening in the first place. The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported, “Sindhi newspapers now publish stories of women coming out and giving statements in front of the court in favor of ‘love marriages.’” These kinds of gestures, no matter how small, empower women to make their own decisions regarding marriage and will hopefully transform the deeply rooted prejudices that give rise to honor killings. *** Imagine lying in bed late at night, your parents and siblings on floor mats by your side. They all breathe heavily, but no one stirs. You hear the sounds of the night animals and insects, a chorus in the dark. Before long, it is interrupted by shuffling outside your house. A shadowy figure sneaks into your window. If you were a young, Bhutanese woman, this could have been the man with whom you had arranged a nighttime tryst. However, it could be a violent prowler.
The trouble is, in Bhutan — more than 1500 miles from Pakistan, but similarly rural and poor — the lines between these two visitors, one welcome, one feared and reviled, has been blurred. The practice of “night hunting” or “night prowling” — in which men enter the houses of adolescent, unmarried females for nocturnal sex — has long been a traditional courtship ritual in the rural areas of eastern and central Bhutan. It encompasses a wide range of behaviors and sexual relations, from consensual, planned, and consistent sex between two individuals to gang rape. The vernacular word for night hunting is Bomena, which literally translates to “going towards the girl” — it does not have the predatory implications of “hunting” and “prowling.” According to social scientist Dorji Penjore in Love, Courtship, and Marriage in Rural Bhutan, “Bomena is a lengthy and complex process, sometimes lasting a year if it is meant for finding a marriage partner. But it can also be as short as [a] one night affair depending
Indian women protest after a highly publicized gang rape in New Delhi.
on one’s motive. It is like modern day dating, an institution which helped young ones to find their partners.” Traditionally, women have the right to accept or reject their visitors. In this way, Bomena was part of a Bhutanese culture that empowered women. In fact, the society is matriarchal, with daughters inheriting property. When men and women are ready to enter cultural adulthood together (called jai do jong, coming to the surface), men will stay to be discovered by women’s families. Some parents pretend to be asleep even if awoken, taking night prowling as an essential facet of courtship and sexual release. Despite Bhutan’s increasingly westernized culture, public dating and premarital sex remain taboo in rural areas. Accordingly, young men and women often prefer secretive nighttime sex. Should a “prowler” be discovered, however, he is often assigned to be the woman’s husband, regardless of circumstance. Bomena, nonetheless, has increased the number of fatherless
children and single mothers, consigning women to poverty, depression, and social stigmas. It has become less common for extended families to live together, so the burden of caring for children falls heavily on women and their nuclear families. Women with unwanted pregnancies frequently drop out of school. Moreover, they face regulations that make single parenting increasingly difficult. For example, only fathers can register their children as citizens. Unregistered children are denied access to schooling, social programs, and health services. Urban and rural Bhutanese people often clash over night hunting, as city dwellers typically see the practice as sexual exploitation. Bhutanese law increasingly addresses sexual violence and rape, but does not fully safeguard women against the potential ills of night hunting. In 1996, for instance, Bhutan raised the minimum age for women to marry from 16 to 18, the same age as for men. Bhutan outlaws rape with its 1996 Rape Act, which stipulates different penalties depending on the aggressors’ and victims’ age. The Rape Act, however, does not apply to “night hunting,” a loosely-defined term. Bhutan also signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1980, and the government came to regard Bomena as gender discrimination, joining the National Commission for Women and Children, the U.N., and nongovernmental organizations. These forces claim Bomena can be addressed with law and education, but they have not yet enacted any measures to that effect. Moreover, no law in Bhutan protects women against domestic violence or abuse by intimate partners. Few Bhutanese laws, in fact, address Bomena directly, though men proven as fathers are required to financially support the children they conceive through night hunting. According to Phintsho Choeden, Executive Director of Bhutan’s National Commission for Women and Children, the government is generally wary when confronting Bomena, claiming it does not yet have enough data to directly link fatherless children to night hunting. Sexual abuse in the form of Bomena is clearly difficult to combat.
It occurs in communities that vary in terms of culture, geography, and socioeconomics. But there are specific legal steps that Bhutan can take to better protect its women from the ills of Bomena. The government can enact laws and proper enforcement to protect women from abuse by intimate partners, experts say, as most Bomena occurs between villagers who knew one another previously. Women can also be educated about what qualifies as forcible sex, empowered to say no to potential suitors and report unwanted intruders. In this way, women may eventually combat cultural acceptance of unwelcome night hunting and voice a need for consent. Bomena cannot and should not be eradicated completely, because in some cases it still involves traditional, consensual courtship practices. There must, however, be comprehensive education and laws to differentiate intruding rapists from secret suitors,
a complex task for both government bodies and citizens. *** The news media today rarely give cases of sexual assault the column inches they ought to command. And even when the press does focus sexual violence, the coverage is often limited to just the most straight-forward, salient examples, like the recent gang rape in New Delhi, India. Yet injustice by way of sexual violence has many forms, ranging from honor killings to night prowling, but all must be regarded with cultural sensitivity. When responding to such violence, we must examine a place’s traditions and cultures, deeming which values ought to be preserved and which, unfortunately, continue to foster gender-based evils.
The Curious Case For Traditional Marriage Three Iv y League academics oppose same-sex matrimony in secular terms Zach a ry You ng
On the morning of June 26, 2013, cheers erupted outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. News of the Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor rippled through the crowds. Same-sex marriage supporters brandished posters, waved rainbow flags, and shared hugs, tears, and kisses with loved ones. Chants of “DOMA is dead!” emerged from the din. The 5-4 ruling struck down a major section of the Defense of Marriage Act, opening up hundreds of federal benefits to married same-sex couples. Less than an hour later, media “runners” sprinted down the steps again to announce a 5-4 dismissal of Hollingsworth v. Perry, clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry in California. Both decisions were hailed by gay rights activists as major steps in the 36
right direction. Supporters proclaimed their vision of a day when same-sex marriage would be legal in all fifty states. Their optimism was understandable. National polls indicate that support for marriage equality has gained momentum in the past two decades, especially among younger generations. Same-sex marriage is now legal in sixteen states and counting. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center two weeks before the Supreme Court decisions showed that a slight majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage for the first time. Moreover, significant majorities on both sides of the issue feel that legal recognition of same-sex marriage has become “inevitable,” destined to make a lasting mark on modern America.
Yet while same-sex marriage supporters celebrated the June 26 decisions, three academics were busy at work preparing a response. Sheri Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George — authors of “What is Marriage?,” an influential essay and book of the same name — posted a blog entry in The Public Discourse the following day, imploring readers to “keep up our witness to the truth about marriage, by word and deed, until it is safely beyond judicial overreach.” Girgis, Anderson, and George rose to prominence in the same-sex marriage debate following the publication of “What is Marriage?” in the winter 2011 issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The essay, which made a secular case for defining marriage as between a man and a woman,
became the most downloaded paper on the Social Science Research Network in 2012. That year, Girgis, Anderson, and George expanded the paper into the book, What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense. The authors’ backgrounds are almost as surprising as their arguments. Girgis, Anderson, and George — Ivy League academics with secular inclinations — are unexpected proponents of a viewpoint that is often characterized as religious and anti-intellectual. Moreover, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is largely considered a “generational issue,” Girgis and Anderson are both below the age of 32. “What is Marriage?” originated from private conversations about matrimony among the three authors. They began by reframing the question behind the same-same marriage debate. “We came to see that the real question is not ‘Who can marry whom?’ but rather ‘What is marriage?’” explained George, a professor at Princeton University. They decided that addressing the latter question was essential to answering the former. While surveying conceptions of marriage, Girgis, Anderson, and George noticed two conflicting beliefs. Samesex marriage proponents appeared to understand marriage as an “emotional bond” fulfilled by consent — a conception George felt was “radically at odds” with its historical meaning. The authors instead see marriage as a conjugal relationship fulfilled by bearing and rearing children, defined by George as the “comprehensive sharing of life… founded upon the bodily union made possible by the sexual-reproductive complementarity of man and woman.” From these beginnings, Girgis, Anderson, and George constructed an argument against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. They defended their conception of marriage on moral and practical grounds, responding to key objections along the way, such as “If not same-sex marriages, why infertile ones?” as well as, “Why does the state have an interest in regulating some relationships?” and,“Isn’t marriage just whatever we say it is?” Stunned by how much attention their article received, the authors expanded their argument to widen its readership and address key critiques.
While recognizing its ultimate lack of success in the Windsor decision, George credited the argument with influencing Justice Samuel Alito’s dissenting opinion. Outside the legal system, George believes that their work has helped those opposed to same-sex marriage better understand their beliefs. “We frequently hear from Catholics, Evangelicals, Latter-Day Saints, Orthodox Jews, and more recently Muslims, who tell us that they had not really understood the basis of their belief in marriage… until they read our book,” he said. To an admittedly lesser extent, they were able to convince some same-sex marriage supporters to switch sides. Unsurprisingly, “What is Marriage?” has attracted a number of vocal critics. Joseph Fischel, a professor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) department at Yale, challenged the authors on several fronts. Noting the authors’ failure to “engage in any serious way with scholarship by historians of marriage,” Fischel countered their central claim that a true purpose of marriage exists, defined by monogamous permanence and the possibility of procreation. “That love or monogamy has anything to do with marriage is an invention of modernity and certainly not universal,” he said. “To neglect political power and property transfer as enduring (but also historically contingent) properties of marriage is tendentious.” Fischel questioned their moral and pragmatic arguments, citing a contradiction in their definition of conjugal marriage. “[They] want to argue that marriage is a good unto itself independent of procreation, but then at other times insist that goodness of the marriage relies upon sexual complementarity and its moral product: the child. You cannot have it both ways.” He also criticized the practical consequences that their view of marriage would have on same-sex couples already raising children. Denying them marriage would result in a loss of the stability, benefits, and protections conferred by legal recognition. “So much for the child,” Fischel remarked. According to Fischel and other proponents of same-sex marriage, the underlying premise of their argument also threatens single parents, unmar-
ried parents, and other legal guardians. “What truly underpins their defense of man-woman marriage is not sexual exclusivity, durable intimacy, or even procreation, but nostalgia for a normative order that never was,” he pointed out. Although Fischel doesn’t think that Girgis, George, and Anderson are bigots, he characterized their argument as “absurd and ahistorical at best, and disingenuous and eugenicist at worst.” Maria Trumpler, Director of Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources and a lecturer in the WGSS department, agreed with of Fischel’s critiques. Her research as a social historian suggests that marriage is an “ever-changing thing that people create for the purposes that they deem to be important,” she said. Outside of details about time, place, and procedure, she added, “there’s [no] absolute notion of what marriage should be.” Despite his critiques, Fischel commended Girgis, George, and Anderson for “jumpstarting a needed conversation” among same-sex marriage supporters. “We cannot, without further qualification, base our moral arguments for marital inclusion exclusively on either love or consent,” he conceded, stressing the importance of using other normative tools for the movement’s advancement. Trumpler expressed hope that the debate will finally be resolved in order to shift focus to other LGBTQ issues that are perhaps more pressing, such as discrimination in the workplace and military. “There’s a concern within the LGBTQ community with the amount of energy, time, and money [advocating for same-sex marriage] has taken,” she noted. In any case, Girgis, George, and Anderson have succeeded in galvanizing a nationwide debate about the nature of marriage. For George and others, the idea of marriage — conjugal or otherwise — had been “simply taken for granted.” While this is no longer the case, the full impact of their argument in the legal or social realm remains to be seen. P
Burning Bridges The Intelligence Gathering Conundrum: Afghanistan 2013 and Beyond Zach a ry Mohr i ng
“Snowden and Manning fucked us. Who would want to work with us?” asked one former CIA officer. Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, he told The Politic, not only leaked a record number of classified intelligence documents, but damaged America’s credibility on the world stage. And with revelation after sullying revelation of each American snooping scandal, the world grows 38
increasingly weary of U.S. involvement in the global arena. Intelligence gathering from local sources is often the only feasible way of managing the diverse threats the U.S. faces. But as distrust of the United States abounds, reliable intelligence is more difficult to procure — even as it becomes more essential in places like Afghanistan. According to Michael Rubin
(YC ’94 GRD ’99), a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, “Intelligence is crucial to any strategy in Afghanistan. Sometimes, the guy selling cigarettes outside a mosque for weeks on end can be as valuable an intelligence asset as a multibillion [dollar] satellite.” The number of Afghan sources willing to cooperate with the U.S. is rapidly dwindling, especially in
recent months. The root of this problem is the growing perception that the U.S. cannot protect its secrets. As Rubin explained, “What we have is a perfect storm regarding distrust, not only from Snowden but also from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks before him. Many want the United States to succeed, but not if doing so exposes their own families to retribution.”
*** Weak protection of source confidentiality compounds systemic challenges for the U.S. in Afghanistan. As Afghans increasingly perceive a decline in American regional influence, they become less willing to supply hard intelligence. Rubin and the former CIA officer, who spoke with The Politic on the condition of anonymity, agreed that this phenomenon arises from a combination of pragmatism and Afghan culture. Because most Afghans think the U.S. will lose the war, their strategic interests are refocusing on their neighbors in the region. One-time alliances with U.S. officers — which were politically advantageous when the U.S. was a stronger player in Afghanistan — are now shifting to Pakistani, Taliban, or Iranian officials. “Afghans put survival of the family above commitment to any regime or ideology,” Rubin explained. “Already, we see Afghan patriarchs who send one son to join Afghan National Security Forces, and the other to join a Taliban group, just so the family can have leverage in both camps.” Afghan proclivity to defect to the winning side means that any apparent decline in U.S. power leads to a decrease in available human sources, many of whose loyalties are available “for rent — not purchase — to the highest bidder,” said the former CIA officer. The tendency of Afghans to align with the victorious side, coupled with the reality of fading American interest in the region, drives Afghans away from the U.S. cause just when their loyalty is most crucial. Troop withdrawal, experts argue, has been the nail in the coffin for an American sphere of influence. “The United States lost the war the second President Obama announced a timeline to withdraw,” Rubin said. Afghan citizens, soldiers, and government officials interpreted withdrawal as the clearest possible signal that America is no longer the dominant external force in Afghanistan. “[Afgahn President Hamid] Karzai has been purging his inner circle of those who are more pro-American and replacing them with those more
sympathetic to Pakistan,” Rubin continued. “Karzai sees his survival linked more to his eastern neighbor at present.” By announcing a date for its departure, the United States accelerated the multitude of forces working against its intelligence gathering efforts. Now that Afghanistan knows for certain that formal U.S. presence will cease in 2014, its own realignment with Pakistan and other regional powers becomes equally certain. ***
Is there any hope for the U.S.
in its final months in Afghanistan, and in future intelligence gathering? The U.S. now exists in Afghanistan at the intersection of a dwindling pool of sources, a lack of civilian trust, an Afghan governmental policy inclining towards Pakistan, and a necessary reliance on local intelligence to maintain its presence in the region. These factors have driven the U.S. to rely more heavily on its liaison partners — intelligence agencies from allied countries — to compensate for other losses in intelligence. Still, U.S. agencies have effective methods of collecting essential intelligence on the front lines. According to the former CIA officer, “The talking point that terrorists don’t attend diplomatic cocktail parties is bullshit. You can get sources the way you always did. You find the people who hate your enemy and you motivate and control them with stuff they want.” Although many Afghans are now more eager to ally themselves with Pakistan, Rubin and the former CIA agent agree that at the very least the U.S. gathers enough intelligence to be successful in achieving its missions until it fully withdraws its troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Nonetheless, as the CIA officer concluded, “Keeping our shit secret and off the front pages would be handy.” P
Keeping Up with the Obamas An Interview with Jodi Kantor Mik ay l a Ha r r is Jodi Kantor is a New York Times political correspondent and author of the best-selling book The Obamas. She graduated from Columbia University in 1996 and attended Harvard Law School for one semester, only to realize her true passion for journalism. Kantor was an editor for Slate before she joined the Times. Prior to publishing The Obamas, Kantor wrote numerous articles about President Obama, the First Lady, and their two daughters. Recently, she has turned to writing more about women’s issues. On September 7th, 2013, she published the article “Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity,” detailing Harvard Business School’s attempts to fight its own gender disparity.
TP Let’s start with a generic question. How did you get into journalism? JK I got into journalism almost despite myself. I grew up in Staten Island, and I didn’t know any authors or any journalists. But my parents did have a New York Times subscription, and I absolutely gobbled the paper up every day. I read it from a really young age, like when I was 12 or 13 years old. I would sit with the newspaper after school. It had a huge impression on me. But I never realized that I could actually be one of the people writing or editing the stories. All these years later, I ask myself why I was never able to picture myself in that position, but I’m from an immigrant family. There was pressure to pursue a professional degree and make money, and, like I said, I didn’t know anybody in the field. I think it was also harder being a woman, because you really have to have the confidence to say, ‘I am able to write stories that people want to read.’ It’s very hard to have that confidence when you’re a young person, particularly a woman. So I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I did law internships [and] a couple of fellowships after college, and then I went to law school. When I was at law school, I had an epiphany that I wanted 40
to be a journalist. And I knew if I wanted to be a journalist that I needed to get the heck out of law school. My parents were absolutely horrified, but I convinced Harvard Law School to give me a leave of absence. I was able to get a job as an editorial assistant at Slate.com, which was then a start-up. I think, like a lot of Yale students now, I was a product of this system of meritocratic achievement that always tells you that you have to do the conventionally prestigious thing, and journalism was a real risk. It’s easy to tell this story now because I ended up as a writer for the New York Times, but at the time, I had a lot of uncertainty about what I was doing. But it was also the best decision I ever made. TP Turning to your book about the Obama’s marriage, what particularly interested you about their marriage? Why did you think it was worth writing a book about? JK There are a couple of reasons. One is that presidential marriages are just fantastically interesting, because the First Lady is the only person who really understands what the President is going through. On the surface, she’s supposed to be this sort of bland,
inoffensive, nonpolitical figure. In reality, that’s almost never true. She is one of the President’s most influential and private advisors. A conversation that the President and the First Lady have at three in the morning in their bedroom can end up being far more influential in terms of presidential decision-making than whatever happened in the Situation Room at two o’clock the next day. The Obama’s marriage in particular fascinated me because it was a real back-and-forth and a real debate. If you look at the Obamas before they get to the White House, they basically spent their entire marriage arguing — and I mean arguing in a robust way not arguing in a nasty way — about many political questions. They wondered, ‘is politics the best means through which to achieve social change?’ And, ‘is political life really livable?’ They knew that, in the White House, they were going to have to tackle those questions like never before. Michelle Obama is a natural skeptic and certainly a skeptic about government. Barack Obama is pretty hard to understand. He is an intensely private person even in this public role, and my theory of the case was that if you could understand Michelle Obama’s reaction to a lot of what was
Obamacare was just unpopular on the face of it, and ultimately that was not something that the administration could hide. Also, there are times when the spin-doctors can’t contradict reality. The Obama aides and advisors spent a long time in 2008 arguing with Hillary Clinton’s campaign about experience, but ultimately, when Obama got to office, we really could see that although he brought freshness to Washington, he did not have a lot of economic or national security experience. There was just no disguising that truth. TP
going on within the administration, then you could have a much better idea of what the debates and challenges of this administration were behind closed doors. What the Obamas were going through personally in the White House was very connected to what they were going through politically. Also, there was just this interest in the unusualness of the Obamas. They were true outsiders. Yes, he went to Harvard Law School, but in political terms, they really came out of nowhere. They had not spent a lot of time in DC. He had been a state senator for seven years, he did not lead a particularly political life, [and] he was not one of these politicians who spends all of his time in green rooms. Michelle Obama was the opposite of our standard idea of a political wife. So the question of what was happening with these two people in this essentially very foreign world to them was very fascinating for me. TP
In interview sources around the White House, or politicians in general, how do you dig for the actual truth? Do you often find them sugar-coating the reality?
JK To truly answer that question, you would have to ask me to teach a seminar at Yale. Obviously, a lot of what we do does involve pushing sources to be as truthful as possible.
Another way we do that is just by, frankly, weeding out a lot of what they say. A lot of interviews for political stories consist of multiple talking points. Then finally somebody says something fresh and insightful, but then more talking points. I’m not suggesting that all talking points are bad; sometimes it’s good to include them to get a sense of what the administration or campaign is trying to say. But in that case, what you’re really talking about is a sort of inefficiency to political reporting, because you have to sit there and listen to a lot of stuff you know you’re not going to include in the story. The other thing I would say is to not forget that the Obama campaign spent about one billion dollars in 2012 trying to make the President look absolutely perfect. So it’s absolutely true that, as political journalists, sometimes we feel as though we’re going up against a billion-dollar machine one story at a time. On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to ultimately hide the truth in politics. There was a really long time in the Obama administration when everybody in the White House would try to convince you that the President’s health care initiative was either more popular than we understood or was about to become more popular than we understood. That actually may be true now, but for a long time, it just wasn’t true. There was no hiding it.
What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
JK First of all, don’t let the problems in the industry deter you from going into journalism for two reasons. One, even though our business problems are very daunting, I do think there’s a lot of optimism and hope out there. Two, I also think that even if you don’t do journalism for the rest of your life, it is a fantastic thing to do for a few years. The skills you learn in journalism ranging from dealing with people to organizing and composing your thoughts to learning how to tell a story in a compelling way will be useful in whatever you do. The other thing that is really important is to keep in mind [is], for your first few journalism jobs, you shouldn’t worry so much about the prestige of the publication you write for. Look for a fantastic environment, for really creative people, and for interesting story ideas, but don’t get locked in that prestige-oriented mindset where you feel that unless you’re working for The New Yorker what you are doing is not important. I know this is easy for me to say coming from the Times, but it’s true. It can even be very beneficial to work for a publication that very few people have heard about because you have a lot of creative freedom and time to develop your writing skills. And if your work is great, it’s going to get noticed no matter what publication it’s in.
For the full text of this interview, visit www.thepolitic.org P
2013 in Quotes
He said· she said· a year in review·
“As the saying goes, I have big heels to fill.” Secretary of State John Kerry on day one of his new job
Feb.4 “You didn’t mess up!” Sasha Obama
joking to her father after he correctly recites the presidential oath
“Occasionally, I get a little bored.” Sen. John McCain (R-A Z)
“I’ll talk until I can’t stand anymore. Don’t worry, I have government-run health insurance.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-T X) during his filibuster
on why he was playing iPhone poker during a hearing on Syria
“I brought some muffins!” Vice President Joe Biden welcoming back EPA employees after the shutdown
“This is my mid-life crisis.” First L ady Michelle Obama about her bangs
“If they want to get you, over time they will.”
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis
Edward Snowden on America’s surveillance programs
jul 29 jun 26 “I feel jubilation, I feel fabulous, I feel every gay word I can think of.” California Rep. Mark Takano on the Supreme Court’s gay marriage rulings
nov.5 “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. Probably in one of my drunken stupors.” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford 43
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