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Volume 5 ~ Issue 2 ~ March 2009

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American Journalism is Dying... The Yeti is Reincarnated Online! Published with support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress (online at CampusProgress.org)


Letter

Find Us At.. Members

A rising tide lifts all boats. By the same token, a falling tide callously casts every ship upon the opposing rocks. Alas, Reader, The Yeti has fallen victim to the same economic crisis that has embroiled many a meritorious organization. Your faithful editors have decided it would be a wiser use of our time to move our publication online. Our new enterprise will remain The Yeti, but we are reworking our mission. Because we are still dedicated to furthering the progressive agenda in and around Tallahassee, we are simply taking our efforts online. We plan for TheYetiOnline.com to be a hub of liberal-progressive organizations, with an aggregated feed and compartmentalized blogs for each group. But, as we know, any website is only as good as its people. As we sign off from print, we ask you to join the conversation online. We will see you there.

The Yeti Collective Ginny Kotzias, President Shane Lynn, Vice President Ryan Jenkins, Editor-in-Chief

All Saints Café Café Shisha Canopy Road Krank It Up Momo’s Pizza Paperback Rack Quarter Moon Strozier Library V89 Radio Station Velvet Vintage Vinyl Fever Word Traffic About the Yeti Founded in April 2005 by a small group of students from FSU, The Yeti was created as a truly independent alternative to the corporately owned FSView. Fueled by a hatred for the official FSU newspaper’s constant drivel, our publication is for interested and active people by an ever-increasing collective of the same. The Yeti allows you to become the media at Florida State.

Contributors Dean Baker Tom Baxter Joe Brewer Glen Doran Chris Herget Hanneke Hoekman-Sites Christopher Hough Dan May Matt Miley Shayn Nicely Timothy Parsons Vineet Singal Kristen Soltis Geoff Thomas J.D. Walters Advisor: Paul Rutkovsky Front Cover: Ginny Kotzias Back Cover: Ryan Jenkins

Your Faithful Editors, Ginny Kotzias and Ryan Jenkins Printed with assistance from Campus Progress and the Student Government Association of Florida State University.

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TheYetiOnline.com If you didn’t know by now, that’s where we’ll be. Catch all of the same quality commentary, opinion, artwork, etc. Just catch it online from now on.

2 | Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February, 2008 | TheYetiOnline.com

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Welcome In this, the last print issue of The Yeti, we feature our usual blend of biting critique and insightful commentary. We are also very happy to feature the artwork of Matt Miley and the poetry of Sydney Weinberg. Check out our centerfold on the implications that Florida’s budget crisis might have for the Anthropology Department at FSU. See our dueling commentaries on the recent Presidential election that start in the next spread. And whether you love or loathe Twilight, make sure you read Shayn Nicely’s piece on Bella.

Barack Obama takes the Presidential Oath of Office on January 20th, 2009, to become the 44th President of the United States. His wife, Michelle, looks on.

Contents 4 What Happened Yesterday? ryan jenkins

14 A Different Case Against Separation of Church and State vineet singal

5 Making Lemonade: Being Republican in an Obama America kristen soltis

20 Reaching Out to Conservative Christians: A Time for Healing Old Wounds joe brewer

15 The Drink christopher hough

22 Assorted Poems sydney weinberg

8 Respect Your Elders: A Brief History of the Medical Profession ginny kotzias

10 Competing Views of Government: Universal Medicare or Government-Protected Insurance Companies dean baker

11 Winter Soldier Investigation: Iraq & Afghanistan: Proudly Served tom baxter

12 Protests, Not Pitchforks: Higher Education’s Mad March on the Capital

16

Noles Need Anthro hanneke hoekman-sites and timothy parsons

Proposed budget cuts that threaten the Department of Anthropology at FSU inspire a spirited defense of the discipline. 18 Man vs. Wild: Higher Energy Prices to Combat Climate Change are Ethically and Economically Justified j.d. walters

23 The Artwork of Matt Miley 24 BCS — Busted! chris herget

25 Crossword Puzzle 26 Defining Damsel: An Analysis of Bella Swan, Heroine of Twilight shayn niceley

30 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Undermining Military Readiness dan may

ginny kotzias

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 3


What Happened Yesterday? by

RYAN JENKINS

O

n November 4th, the American people voted overwhelmingly to install Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. In this retrospective, I try to pin down the most pivotal moments of the campaign and the most important issues that stuck in the minds of the voters. I hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane. This was a landslide. Obama’s final popular vote margin, as of 8 AM this morning, was 52% to 47%, with 117 million votes having been tallied. He won every demographic except white men and every age except those 65 and older. He won rich and poor, those with and without education, and he won every religion except Protestants. Both campaigns had been baptized by the fires of an unusually long, mediasaturated primary season. Barack’s struggle with Hillary Clinton got so negative at times that it was easy to lose sight of the fact that two historic candidates were fighting it out. McCain’s campaign, once presumed dead on arrival and having been scrapped entirely and run by volunteers at one point, rose from the ashes to best Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, his principal contenders. In the exit polls, an incredible 63% of voters chose the economy as the most important issue, followed by Iraq. To resonate with voters, the candidates had to craft messages around these two most important issues. Those debates were brought into higher relief by the turbulent financial crisis rocking Wall Street. In late Sep-

tember and early October, the rhetoric shifted to the effects of the crisis on “Main Street” and the candidates’ respective proposals. This election was seen by many as a referendum on the deregulatory practices championed by McCain that perhaps led to the implosion of several of the largest investment firms in the country. Polls indicated that voters trusted Obama more to handle the economy, which undoubtedly contributed to his win. There were also several underground issues: issues that might have been on the mind of many voters, but seldom reached the surface of mainstream media discourse. Regarding John McCain, many harbored concerns about his health and his age, with his being a 72-year-old four-time cancer survivor. Actuarial tables, it was reported, pinned his statistical chances of surviving two terms at a scant two in three, without factoring in his previous battles with potentially lethal skin cancer. However, the Republican campaign did a good job of keeping this topic off the table, despite concerns raised by Robert Greenwald’s Brave New PAC and MoveOn.org, both of which ran commercials briefly on this subject. Obama had more scurrilous claims to combat on his side of the campaign. The rumor that he was a Muslim was never put to rest with much the electorate, supported in part by his admitted childhood attendance at a Muslim school in Indonesia, a majority Muslim nation. It was often alleged that Republican operatives and surrogates were quietly stoking racial bias against Obama.

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The right’s persistence in mentioning William Ayers was seen as an excuse to mention “Obama” and “terrorist” in the same sentence, reinforcing a latent unease with some voters who were already put off by Obama’s dark skin, foreign name and ambiguous religious beliefs. Images of Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s inflammatory and “Anti-American” pastor flooded the airwaves during the primary season, but John McCain was credited with taking that particular line of attack off the table during the general election. Repetitive labeling of Obama as a socialist further contributed to the image of him as some sort of mysterious Other who was the legitimate object of fear and distrust. McCain-Palin rallies attracted the ire of frustrated conservatives who feared their candidate would lose. Palin encouraged them, alleged many, by using the rhetoric of “Pro-America parts of the country,” and “the real America” – inciting an ‘us vs. them’ mentality that plays well in rural Kansas but reflects poorly on a campaign in the national spotlight. Several times, some of McCain’s supporters in more bucolic areas of the country were reported – or recorded – yelling out, “Kill him!”, “Off with his head!”, or “Terrorist!” in reference to Obama. While the public could not be sure, it could be assumed some of the animosity directed toward Obama by rural Americans was race-based. The McCain campaign, in its waning days, was criticized for its flailing manner, appearing inelegant in its death throes, and using the “kitchen sink” approach that Hillary Clinton continued on 6...


Being Republican in an Obama America by

Kristen Soltis Editor’s Note: Boo hoo.

“I saw this Barack Obama guy on Oprah today. He was very impressive.” This, from my Republican mother, so very very many months ago. The narrative from there to here...well...you know the rest. What was at play in this election was in many ways larger than any ad buys or gripes about robocalls. This was bigger than debates, bigger than an infomercial. This was even bigger than a bailout or new registration. Americans like being a part of something bigger than themselves. In 2008, this was Barack Obama. So what now? As a Republican, how do we look at the day after, when the Obama victory is declared a “victory for America” by so many? When Congress has even larger margins for the Democrats? [When Al Franken is a US Senator?] What kind of lemonade can we make out of these lemons (if we choose to)? (more after the jump) I realize that the challenge of finding a silver lining in crushing defeat may result in quite a bit of criticism from my Republican colleagues. Perhaps optimism is misplaced on my part at a time like this. Maybe it’s false hopes. Who knows. But these are the

small glimmers of light - some serious, some not - that I see and am holding on to at a time when I’ve otherwise got incredible reservations about the thought that America may soon be confronted with a slew of policies I could not disagree with more. 1) The Potential Renewal of the GOP. I wish we could have won last night, but we didn’t. And in the face of a continued downward spiral, perhaps nothing could have made Republicans look inward - and look forward - quite like the results of last night. I am a young Republican, and I am concerned that the party I first felt matched my values has become mired in policy decisions and political action that depart from the things that I value. Last night was a rejection of the type of politics I also disagree with. Can we win elections by calling people liberals and socialists and antiAmerican? No. Can we win elections by misconstruing oppo research and converting it into disingenuous cookiecutter negative ads? No. Can we win elections by invoking the memory of Reagan and calling for a return to the

1980’s? No. Can we win elections by ignoring the Big Middle? No. Last night, I went to the DCCC website to keep track of the House races. Their online tool for charting this data was fantastic. I went to the NRCC website and was asked if I wanted to watch a video message from Ronald Reagan. I think this speaks to what happened in this election tactically in a small, silly anecdote. Republicans - likely many young Republicans, and many of the bright thinkers on this very site - will spend the next days and weeks and months (and years?) soul searching. I am certainly looking forward to the rebuilding of the Republican Party. 2) The Rebirth of Good Rhetoric. In this race, we frequently lobbed the criticism at Obama that he was merely a pretty speechmaker, an empty suit with eloquence. In the coming months and years, we will know whether or not this was true. But one of the things I am heartened to see return to politics is the idea that eloquence matters. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve watched too much Aaron Sorkin and that my old high school debater biases are showing. But now, in a world where CSPAN lets us watch banal discussion, continued on 7... The Yeti | 5


was also criticized for in the primary campaign. Joe Klein of Time Magazine, referring to the weekend of October 18-19, called the campaign “fabulously loony” and described McCain as “flipping out charges and attacks like a mud tornado.” “The truly remarkable thing about McCain’s attacks, especially on Obama’s economic policies,” added Klein, “is that McCain, in each case, is ‘guilty’ of supporting some version of the policies he’s attacking.” McCain’s campaign was perceived as discombobulated or “erratic.” He was rarely delivering the same message week to week, and he surprised pundits, for example, when he unveiled a plan to buy up old mortgages at the second debate. Flying to Washington to ‘solve’ the housing crisis was another sign of caprice on his part. McCain left on a whirlwind tour of nine states in the final two days of the campaign, but his efforts proved for naught. His last-ditch strategy was to campaign hard in Pennsylvania, relying on the geographic center of the state, which is heavily working class. McCain would go on to lose Pennsylvania by 11% on election day. McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin was energizing for a short period of time. But, as the nation got to know Palin, she racked up the highest unfavorable ratings ever recorded for a VP candidate. A majority of Americans felt that she was unqualified to be president – or vice president – and voters listed her as the number one concern about the Republican ticket. Noted hawk Ken Adelman

had this to say: “The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate. That decision showed appalling lack of judgment... that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.” Throughout the election season, a number of missteps provided opportunities for campaigns to capitalize and expose weaknesses in their opponents. During the primary season, in a private meeting with fundraisers, Obama described rural voters as “bitter,” noting that they “cling to their guns or religion.” A remark about “putting lipstick on a pig” was taken as an insult to Sarah Palin. Michelle Obama remarked that she was proud of America “for the first time.” Meanwhile, John McCain referred to a crowd as his “fellow prisoners.” He defined rich as people making $5 million a year or more. He couldn’t remember how many houses he owned, which was somewhere between 7 and 11 depending on what measure one uses. He alleged that Iran was training Al Qaeda, forgetting that the two represent bitterly opposed sects of Islam. After AIG collapsed and the Dow Jones Industrials index dropped around 1000 points in one weak, McCain remarked on a Monday morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, only to admit hours later that the nation was mired in a crisis. When John McCain designated Joe the Plumber as a last-minute hail Mary surrogate, he neglected to properly

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vet the man. As it turned out, Joe the Plumber was named Samuel, not a properly licensed plumber, owed back taxes, and would save more money under Obama’s tax plan. On October 10th, Newsweek commented on their own polling. “This is what a landslide looks like,” they said: “Obama appears to have broadened his coalition of support and made inroads with groups that have not reliably embraced him over the course of the long presidential campaign. He now leads McCain among both men (54 percent to 40 percent) and women (50 percent to 41 percent). He now wins every age group of voters—including those over 65 years of age, who back him over McCain 49 to 43 percent.” Though much of this is belied by the exit polling conducted by CNN, the impression of Obama’s wideranging coalition is accurate. My two cents? It has been said before, but this was perhaps the worst environment for a Republican candidate in a generation, if not longer. The sitting president had the lowest approval rating recorded by several pollsters. Obama was able to tie McCain successfully to Bush throughout the campaign. Obama, meanwhile, was a refreshing young candidate, an inspirational orator and former community organizer who was able to not only rally the progressive Democratic base, but motivate the youth, first-time and sporadic voters to show up on election day. The idea of electing the nation’s first black president was also understandably a motivating factor for many. ¶


where I arrived in Washington and was completely stripped of my desire to be a speechwriter because (at the risk of going a bit Peggy Noonan here) it looked like there wasn’t a market for making something beautiful, where everything is canned, preprocessed and predictable, it was refreshing to hear

a large, Obama-esque movement to make possible. 4) The Renewal of the Education Issue. The issue of education is by far one of my top policy issues. While I’m conflicted on the role that the President should actually have in education policy, the bully pulpit is a big deal - par-

There’s a prevalent belief among some on our side that we can win solely by making the other side unappealing enough that we become the default choice. America is sick of hearing how terrible the other guy is. a speech that was intended to inspire, not just a speech intended to hit all the right talking points. Let’s hope this trend catches on. It’s possible to have style and substance. I’m looking forward to a Republican who can live up to the challenge on both ends. 3) The Hope of Entitlement Reform. This may be the biggest pipe dream of them all. Maybe it’s just the delirium of being at work at 1 am. Who knows. But consider this - Obama’s speech talked about sacrifice, and it’s going to take an incredible amount of political will and capital to take on the task of reforming the entitlement programs in the United States. Only Nixon could have gone to China. Only Clinton could have done welfare reform. Can only Obama reform the massive entitlement programs? Is this complete lunacy? Weirder things have happened. This is my long-shot policy hope that is based in little more than a hope that such a large task may take

ticularly when you’re Barack Obama. He’s made statements that go against the desires of teachers unions. He treads carefully because he supports versions of and principles of things like merit pay. Democrats prioritize education. Maybe its because they want the teacher union vote, maybe its pandering, maybe its because they see a federal role in it and the GOP does not. But at this point, I view education as central to all of the major issues that face America in the coming years. I refuse to see America become the world’s “C’ students. If we can make this a priority, I am strongly in favor of it - whichever party is in charge. 5) The Death of Slash-and-Burn Vicious Politics. Let me be clear before I make this point - I am not indicting the Republican Party as entirely based on these sorts of tactics. Nor am I of the belief that the Democrats are blameless. Both sides are guilty. But there’s a prevalent belief among some on our

side that we can win solely by making the other side unappealing enough that we become the default choice. Why talk about what’s good about us when we can talk about how the other guy is terrible? America is sick of hearing how terrible the other guy is. From both parties. Of all the things the Obama campaign did, they built their case around what Obama would do. Were there negative ads about McCain? Yes. But there is a difference between a “negative ad” and an “attack ad”. Voters can tell the difference. You know it when you see it. And “attack ads” are out. I am heartened by the anecdote of Obama, hushing crowds that were booing Sen. McCain, saying “Don’t boo, just vote.” Crowds at both Obama/ Biden and McCain/Palin got fired up, got angry, and occasionally crossed the line. The tone of the campaign got negative, and both sides were culpable. But Obama has been a class act throughout this race, and I have hope that the tone of the debate in Washington and around the country will share that sort of class for years to come. The election is over, Obama has won. Let’s look forward and do our best to make sure that America really is better off in four years - and that an American that is better off has every reason to return the Republican Party to power as a result. It’s a tough challenge, but if tonight is proof of anything, it’s proof of this - anything is possible. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 7


Respect Your Elders A Brief History of the Medical Profession by

Ginny Kotzias

M

y Momma raised me to be quiet in church, to respect the authority of teachers and policemen, and to unquestionably admire the experience, knowledge, and ability of good doctors. Though Dawkins resolved the church issue and Thoreau tempered my penchant for unwavering subordination to authority, nothing in my childhood or adolescence remotely challenged the special esteem I had for those in the medical profession. Doctors had it all: bazillions of years of higher-level education, extensive on-the-job training, and inhuman wisdom regarding all things bodily human. Add the exorbitant price of health care to that mix (that which is more expensive must be worth the cost, after all) and BAM! It becomes perfectly rational to assume that doctors are the end-all, be-all of respected authority and have more or less been revered as such since Adam ate the apple. As any student of history knows, however, what is true today is not necessarily true for all times and places. Popular opinion regarding a number of different professions is fickle, finicky, and inconstant, and the reverence for medical professionals has soared across the spectrum of relevance and respect over time. In fact, for much of Western medical history, physicians have been regarded as working professionals, not unlike practitioners of other skilled trades. Yet today, we live in an America that offers physicians a trust that is incomparable to specialists in nearly any other profession, and sports a healthcare system that will cause over one million bankruptcies 8 | Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February, 2008

by the end of this year. Personally, I feel that the key to this phenomenon of ferocious admiration lies in the idea of “secret knowledge.” Let’s face it: the world of the body is a mystery to most people. We don’t understand how cuts heal, diseases spread, or medications work. We don’t know how to differentiate between benign and malignant cysts or how to measure the appropriate dosage of chemotherapy drugs to administer to ailing cancer patients. The study of medicine has exploded to include several thousand known conditions and hundreds of FDA-approved drugs, making it both impossible and dangerous for the modern layperson to promote self-healing without the help of a trained professional. We trust these people to cut us open, pump us full of toxic chemicals, microwave the dangerous parts of our sick bodies, and make us feel better. But we have no idea how they do it and Google anything that we don’t immediately understand. The education and internship required to become a doctor is intimidating to most people, so we’re happy to trade our hard-earned dollars in return for the years of difficult study and hard labor that our doctors have presumably borne on our behalf. We’ve created a supply and demand economy that, while almost immorally expensive, functions rationally enough: the supply of doctors with adequate knowledge is limited, and, since we value their education, their experience, and their time of study, we pay out the nose for excellent care. We not only revere doctors for their

personal histories of presumed excellence, but also for the mere reputation of the profession over time. Though we’ve come a long way in terms of medical advancements, doctors have not always been held in the highest regards of the population. The exact beginnings of conscious medicinal treatments for human ailments is tricky to ascertain yet we have evidence of primates using plant excretions to treat parasitic disorders and archaeologists have found healed wounds in the skeletal material of elderly Neanderthals, indicating that its roots run deep. Western medicine traditionally traces its inception to Classical Athens in the figure of Hippocrates, a man whose fame precedes him and whose ideas shaped several hundred years of medical knowledge. Hippocrates is responsible for the maxim that governs the content of the Hippocratic Oath: “Whenever a doctor cannot do good, he must be kept from doing harm,” and though he got a lot of stuff wrong – he popularized the notion of The Four Humors, a false cornerstone of medical theory and practice until the mid 19th-century –his influence has proved lasting. In the egg-head world of ancient Greece, Hippocrates’ learning was much revered and he gained considerable fame for his discoveries during his lifetime. However, like politicians, lawyers, and other professions involving control and authority, the role of the physician was satirized, criticized, and ridiculed by hoi poloi. Centuries later, Roman comedy poked fun at the over-education


of doctors, the uselessness of their work (all patients die eventually), and hyperbolized the bodily element of the medical profession: why on earth would you revere a man who spent his days with icky sick people? The average citizen was just as likely to care for their sick without a doctor, make a sacrifice or two at the appropriate temple, and visit a diviner or auger just to make sure that Uncle Joe was going to recover. After the fall of Rome and the advent of the Dark Ages, medical advancement slowed to a stand-still and the teachings of the ancients were either lost or became doctrine rather than workable hypotheses about the nature of body and disease. Physicians were universityeducated men who studied the ancient medical scholars, whereas everyday folk healers were barbers who cut hair, performed surgery, and initiated bleeding to balance unruly humors. In fact, the famous red and white striped pole that symbolizes the barber’s trade dates back to this period of regular bleeding when bloodied bandages would be tied to the end of a post which the wind would then whip into the internationally-recognizable peppermint-swirl of color. Monasteries in this period became makeshift hospitals, monks became rudimentary nurses, and superstition governed the course of many medical treatments. Charms, amulets, and prayers were used to buttress medical care, a practice which, like the sacrifices of their skeptical ancient ancestors, indicates a serious lack of confidence in the competency of these good-natured caretakers. With the outbreak of the Plague in the late medieval period, faith in medicine declined and attempts at scientific advancement – medical or otherwise – were largely obstructed by either the Plague or

edicts from the Catholic Church forbidding inquiry into natural matters. The Renaissance and subsequent Scientific Revolution refined experimentation methodology and opened the floodgates of medical inquiry to explore every facet and system of the human body. Over the next few centuries, this led to the resurfacing of medicine as a specialized profession that required education and a license to practice, eventually

Roman comedy poked fun at doctors, the uselessness of their work (all patients die eventually), and asked: why on earth would you revere a man who spent his days with icky sick people? coming to a head as we discovered more about microorganisms and the immense complexity of the human body. After a prehistory of attributing maladies to malevolent spirits or vengeful gods, an early history of associating illness with imbalanced humors, and a rough period of battlefield medical advancements, the last 200 years have brought about changes in the public health that the American founders could never have imagined. World Wars I and II brought about a number of medical advances, such as the triage system, immunization against tetanus, the use of morphine for pain relief, mass-produced penicillin, and the quick infusion of blood plasma in order to stabilize patients. After the wars, the US continued to praise the scientific

community for the advances that had already saved so many soldiers and held such promise for the health of the rest of the nation. When we found ourselves deadlocked in the Cold War, the reputation of the hard sciences exploded beyond all measure. It was absolutely imperative that we use the strength of the scientific community to beat the damn Ruskies, and the role of doctors became intimately associated with this ideological war. Add to this the near-miracles that they had performed within a single generation and the public respect for medical professionals is easy to understand. Childhood killers like polio, ruebella, mumps and measles had been practically obliterated due to vaccines; heart attacks and diabetes were treatable with new defibrillators and the development of insulin. . . . the list goes on. Even within the last thirty years, organ transplants have nearly tripled their success rates, surgical cuts have been minimized to microscopic levels in order to promote quicker recovery times, and lasers are standard in any number of medical treatments. Your medical doctor has inherited this tradition of shock and awe, and it’s part-and-parcel of the popular reverence we willingly lay their feet. Though the advancement of the sciences in the modern period coupled with the existential crisis of confronting one’s own death is arguably the central reason that the American public is goo-goo eyed with the healthcare community, it is worthwhile to remember whence they came and implore them to do more good than harm. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 9


Competing Views of Government Universal Medicare or Government-Protected Insurance Companies by

Dean Baker, truthout.com

W

e all know that people have different ideologies about the proper role of government. Some people, who tend to be left of center, think that the government’s role is to try to promote the general good, by providing basic services, protecting the poor and the sick, and ensuring a well-working economy. On the other hand, there are others, who usually place themselves right of center, who believe that the proper role of government is to redistribute as much income as possible to the wealthy. These competing views of government are coming to a head in the debate over national health care reform. Those who think that the role of government is to serve the public good are likely to favor some form of universal Medicare. Such a system would almost certainly save a huge amount in administrative costs at the level of insurers, providers and government oversight. Private insurers spend more than 15 percent of the money they collect in premiums on administrative costs. By contrast, Medicare spends about 2 percent. Part of the insurers’ administrative expenses go toward marketing - an expense that would be unnecessary in a universal Medicare system. The other major factor driving administrative costs with private insurers is associated with their efforts to game the system. Gaming is the best way to make profits in the current system. If insurers can find effective mechanisms for either keeping sick people from being insured, or finding ways to deny coverage for expensive care, then they

stand to make large profits. Naturally, profit-maximizing insurers will therefore devote substantial resources to trying to avoid ways to provide health care to people who need it. At the level of providers, the wide range of divergent forms and policies employs hundreds of thousands of people in administrative positions in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and other providers. These people are often quite adept at dealing with various insurers, which is an important skill in our current system, but a task that would disappear if we had a universal Medicare system. Finally, the state and federal governments must devote substantial resources for oversight to police the practice of insurers. Oversight agencies are essential for limiting abuse. This task would be much simpler if there were not corporations that stood to profit by keeping people from getting needed care. While we could in principle shift to a universal Medicare system immediately, this would be an extremely difficult task politically and would present some serious practical problems as well. During his campaign, President Obama proposed something far more modest: give employers and individuals the choice to buy into a public Medicare-type program. Under this system, if people are happy with their current health care insurance, they would have the option to keep it. However, if they decided that the plan offered by the government was better, they could buy into it. In this situation, insurers would com-

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pete with the government plan in the market. If private insurers could offer health insurance that provided better coverage or charged less, then people would have the option to buy into a private plan. Of course, the government would also regulate the market so that private insurers could not cherry-pick their way to profitability by insuring only healthy people and dumping them when they became sick. The insurance industry already recognizes that it will lose out in this sort of competition. A government-run plan will be more efficient. We already know this based on the experience with Medicare. When private insurers have competed side by side with the traditional government Medicare plan, in the absence of government subsidies, the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries opted to go with the traditional Medicare plan. This is why the insurers are yelling that they don’t want to face “unfair” competition from a government plan. But, their complaint should be all the endorsement that the public needs to support a public Medicare-type plan. The public plan will be cheaper and better than what the private insurers have to offer. Why shouldn’t the public then have this option? We all know that the insurance industry executives and the company shareholders want to make lots of money, but maybe they should try to find an industry where they can compete. If the government can provide health insurance better and cheaper, then why do we need private insurers? ¶


Winter Soldier Investigation Iraq & Afghanistan: Proudly Served by

Tom Baxter, MSLS

I

am a life member of Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and Vietnam Veterans of America. I have been part of the team that has been standing in Florida’s Old Capitol, Sundays and Thursdays for more than six years, with our signs: justice, not vengeance, honk for peace, no torture, no more war crimes. I heard the Iraq Veterans Against the War were going to have a Winter Soldier Investigation. I was at the original Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971. They had my best wishes and some of my cash. In February 2008, I noticed they wanted Vietnam Veterans Against the War members to serve as security detail. The next day, I arranged to take time off and signed up that night. Next month, on Wednesday, 12MAR2008, I drove 15 hours and got to the National Labor College in Sliver Spring at about 2100 hours. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I pulled 12 hour shifts; Sunday, one six hour shift. In orientation, it was reemphasized that we wouldn’t get to see much of the event: our job was to keep it safe and secure for Iraq Veterans Against the War’s Winter Soldier Investigation. I did not mind too much; I knew that if listened, I’d be all pissed off and/or weepy. Sure enough, I listened to some and got pissed off and weepy. I really like to find some place to hide when that happens. But I was on duty, so I wiped my face with my hand, put my mask on, and bottled it up for a while. Standing at my post next to Barry Romo at the latrine, I tensed when a Me-

do it all again. dia badge came up. Another duty was to “The reason I’m proud is that I see my assure no Media entered the South Hall, and my comrades’ faces from 40 years where they could disturb “presenters.” ago in those kids’ faces. Perhaps what I He did not want to pass, he wanted some do here will save a few kids’ lives. Perreflection of some of those who were at haps not. But I have to do something. I both Winter Soldiers. will not be a ‘good German.’ I will not Barry went first. He gave a good talk about our physical and social destruction stand by silently as my government murders people because they got in the way; of Iraq: mass killing, tens of thousands as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “silence is thrown into jail without trial, rampant betrayal.” I look in their faces and wonder torture, an epidemic of sectarian terror how many will die by their own hand and attacks, pauperization, infrastructure destruction and the complete breakdown be buried by their children, parents and spouses. I look and wonder how many of of basic services and supplies. You know, a short history of ‘Operation Iraqi Libera- their fellow and sister soldiers’ memorial services they will speak at. tion.’ “I hope to hell they will not die as That is not what the media guy wanted to hear. He wanted personal reflection. criminals as Dwight Livingston or David Funches did. So here is the one I gave. “I weep for them as I did for my friends. “My name is Tom Baxter. In my home“I also weep for those down-range town, I am a respected professional. I am of the most powerful military force in a law librarian. I have respect among my the history of the world. Many of them, librarian peers and from the attorneys children who do the criminal acts of my and judges whom I know and work for. I government, lack access to water, food, am paid very well, although a fraction medical care, parents and education. of what the lawyers get. I was at the first “I weep for the kids that are selling Winter Soldier Investigation. I didn’t their bodies for food because we kill or testify. Like most veterans of both wars, arrested their parents and destroyed we neither witnessed nor committed their country.” individual war crimes. But all of us parA reporter asked, “What do you have ticipated in the crime of a criminal war to say when pro-war veterans say that started and based on lies, fought with this hurts their feelings.” criminal means. I was proud and willing “Well, I feel real bad that the truth to give up my professional status and do whatever tasks assigned. I spent 15 hours offends them. I feel even worse that they driving here and I’ll spend 15 hours home, are so brainwashed that they believe we have done good in Afghanistan, Cambotime well spent. I am proud of the hours dia, Iraq, Laos, Somalia or Vietnam. I feel I spent on latrine guard. I am proud I worse for those we killed for the crime of spent hours keeping a door with a overactive closer from slamming. I’d be proud ‘being in the way.’” ¶ TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 11


Protests, not Pitchforks Higher Education’s Mad March on the Capital by

Ginny Kotzias

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uring my one-session internship at the Florida Capital, I witnessed approximately a dozen protest marches, opened several hundred letters from constituents, and answered enough telephone calls to turn me into a complete internet convert. While I handled screaming Miamians and bandaged my paper cut fingers, my higher-ranking office mates categorized, filed, counted, and otherwise statistic-ified all of the aforementioned methods of demonstrating the dissatisfaction of the masses. How these numbers and values factored into the desired yay or nay vote was entirely beyond my comprehension (and remains so today) but even the young cynic inside of me hoped beyond hope that the tiny efforts of those people would supersede “politics as usual” and result in tangible change. Three years later, I found myself on the steps of the Capital building once again, this time as a protester. With several hundred (some estimates tout one thousand) of my professors and peers, I chanted, marched, and waved colorful posters in the name of preserving higher education. I looked up at the 22 (or is it 23?) floors of the Capital, then to each wing of the Florida congress and wondered if there was anyone even paying attention to our lowly mass of red, green, and orange bodies shouting for “FUNDING!” I wondered how our wants, needs, and names would be calculated by the

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office managers in that building and what my former employer thought of this hot mess. This, the leaders of the protest claimed, was democracy in action – a “gentle” nudge of the people in order to make their elected representatives represent their interests. For FSU students, the march began in front of Westcott, the traditional venue for campus marches and a prime spot for arousing the attention of ‘ol T.K. Two coalitions gathered on the morning of March 3rd: The Fate of the State, led by Drs. Daniel Vitkus and Robin Goodman, and Noles Need Anthropology, led by Drs. Glen Doran and Cheryl Ward. (Personally, I consider these groups to be two sides of the same coin – Florida education needs funding generally or else FSU’s Anthropology program is going to get axed specifically – but journalistic accuracy prevents me from equating spades with spades.) After passing around a few of my own handmade posters to various members of the crowd and envying cleverer signs (damn, why couldn’t I think up ‘Some cuts don’t heal?’ That’s genius!), the crowd charged onward towards the capital, making sure to stick to the sidewalks or else be reprimanded by golf cart-driving policemen. We chanted all of the standard slogans along the semi-abandoned streets leading from Westcott to downtown Tallahassee and even inspired a chorus of sympathetic car horns as we held up traffic along Du-


Opposite and above right: Photos by Sydney Weinberg. Above left: Photo by Ginny Kotzias. val. It was easy to get caught up in the energy that wove through our marching horde, gaining momentum with each initiatory whoop and dying down

The young cynic inside of me hoped beyond hope that the tiny efforts of those people would supersede “politics as usual” and result in tangible change. again as individual sections of the crowd lost their breath. As our masse pooled on the steps of the Capital, the calls and shouts got more colorful: “We are pissed, Charlie Crist!” (Nice nursery rhyme, kids, but aren’t we representing the boon of education? Couldn’t we be a tasteful or, dare I say it, sophisticated mob of shouting collegians?) Dr. Vitkus presided over the “Teach-In,” the series of talks given and songs played by various members of the community: Florida legislators, FSU and FAMU grad students, faculty, and an activist poet whose clever songs reminded me of the heady tradi-

tion of the Guthries (Arlo and Woody, not the chicken food chain). The subject matter was the importance of education to the livelihood of individuals and the health of the economy, the toxic effects of current cuts, and the importance of these demonstrations in turning the tides of political opinion. We were all encouraged to get involved with the legislative process, to call or write to our representatives and to get as many new people involved with our cause as humanely possible. My inner cynic raised her cocky eyebrow at their calls to action (there’s a reason why efforts made in apathy are often referred to as a “college try”) but the words of one of the senators on the Education Committee proved too strong for anything but honest idealism: “There are about 200 people in there who are making these decisions about your future. There are at least 400 or 500 of you standing in front of me. You have the power to influence their decisions.” (This is a paraphrase, of course, but you get the idea.) When compared with the buying power of special interest groups or the intrinsic clout of unions and organized parties, the ability of individuals carrying handmade painted posters and chanting simple demon-

stration cheers doesn’t seem like very much. I don’t know a lot about the counting and measuring process that goes on behind-the-scenes in those legislative offices, but in that single march, we outnumbered the entire state legislature 2:1. If all of us who were at that march make good on our promise, we have the ability to overwhelm the capital with phone calls, letters, and emails, effectively drowning out any course of action save ours: stop cutting funding for education. Tony Benn, the long-standing British politician and infamous socialist, once said that there are five questions to ask anyone in government: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you use it? To whom are you accountable? How do we get rid of you?” These protests and loud vocalizations of public opinion remind the state legislature about the duties that they owe to us, the constituency, and the power that we have to blow furious holes in any plans that do not serve our interests. It is, after all, only the absence of torches and pitchforks and separates a peaceful demonstration from a violent mob. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 13


A Different Case Against Separation of Church and State by

Vineet Singal, stanford university

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any one religion over the other. The purn Jan. 1, 2008, a 5 1/2-month pose of the establishment clause is clear old girl from an Oregon in that it is meant to create religious Church died of renal blockage equality, and prevent one religion from leading to a massive kidney infection. taking over another, contrary to mediA 6-year-old boy whose parents belong eval Europe where religious persecution to the Followers of Christ Church died was extremely common. last July from a hernia that strangled But the cold hard truth is that the his small intestine after more than 30 prescribed constraint of state regulahours of severe pain and vomiting. The tion on religion only perpetuates the boy’s doctor, Dr. Larry Lewman, said that his records show that as many as 25 privileged powers of majoritarian religions. This is not to say that having children in the congregation have died no constraints on state regulation of in the past two decades because their religion does not perpetuate the powers parents did not seek medical care. of the majoritarian religion or mode of While an extreme example of the belief. Rather, when the state does not impact of separation of church and favor one religion over another, as the state, the case of the Oregon Church establishment clause states, too often demonstrates the traditional argument one religion inevitably triumphs over against the separation of church and another. A policy of inaction or equal state: that a separate religious sphere treatment of religions fails to account free from state jurisdiction undermines for the inequalities of power relations. enforcement of basic human rights. In As Professor of Sociology Veit Bader of other words, giving the state authority the Universiteit van Amsterdam states, to sometimes bypass religious code “A constitutionally and legally equal and act to prevent violations of liberty should not be hindered by the state’s ob- treatment of religions does not prevent and quite often masks administrative, ligation to respect religious sentiment political, and cultural inequalities beand recognize religious freedom. tween majority religions and minority An even bigger question is not ones, a situation at odds with religious whether separation would prevent pluralism under the assumption of religious accountability to the law, but whether separation does the exact oppo- rough equality. This amounts to an unsite of what it’s supposed to do. The first intended entrenchment and legitimization of these inequalities.” amendment to the United States conIn other words, an agency to resolve stitution explicitly prohibits the United power inequalities and an agency that States congress from making laws “rerespects separation of church and state specting an establishment of religion.” will always be mutually exclusive. So, In other words, this establishment by allowing organized religion to define clause prevents congress from favoring 14 | Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February, 2008 | TheYetiOnline.com

the social norm without state constraint, the church will indirectly create procedural inequalities between members and non-members. The alteration of the perceived norm can be seen in the recognition of Christmas as a secular holiday but the perception of Hannukah as distinctly religious due to an overtly Christian influence in the United States. Joseph R. Duncan furthers this point in the Alabama Law Review, “The power system that has created all of these privileges has also created the political position and power that traditional Christian religion has held in the United States. Similar to the normalization and preference in our history of whiteness and maleness, there has also been a presumption, normalization, and place of power created for the Christian faith.” As Duncan explains, the imbalance of power is unperceived because it skews our conception of true equality. Separation of church and state entrenches the democratic system in this systematic inequality. So, while we may pretend that the first amendment creates a system in which religious equality exists, the actual truth of the matter is that such equality is impossible under a deregulated religious system which allows majority religions to trump over minority ones. The solution is not to prescribe one religion as the “right” religion. On the contrary, the state ought to provide aid to struggling religions and dying churches. Only then can religious equality be truly achieved. ¶


The Drink by

fiction

CHRISTOPHER HOUGH

“Y

ou stole her from me,” he stated calmly. If you would’ve heard his voice, you might have never realized that Bill Histin was holding a 0.45 mm pistol to my head and shaking like a prude buying her first vibrator, or rather, the vibrator itself. He’d stolen the gun from his roommate’s dresser. Now he was claiming I slept with his girlfriend. I knew the truth of the situation. “Bill…” I began, trying to remain as calm as he was. When a gun’s pointed at you, any one word that passes your lips can end your life. Therefore, you do not say many. “No, Jack! I know what happened!” He didn’t. “Vicky told me all about it.” She lied. I started up again, “Victoria and I…” “Vicky told me everything!” A girl blessed with a name such as Victoria shouldn’t be cursed with a nickname such as Vicky. This was not grade school. I was in Bill’s apartment, tied up and unable to move. There was only one lamp on near my face, making it seem like Bill had tried to fashion his room into one of those interrogation places you see in movies. I’m glad he felt the need to role play. Perhaps next we could play dress-up. Bill spoke, “Remember the party? You’d only had one drink so you can’t blame it on the alcohol. Vicky’d had several though. You took advantage of her in her weakened state. She told me!” Victoria was a smart girl. Not smart in the sense that she’d be first in her class or anything, but she sure

who it was before he did. “Coming, knew how to manipulate a man. She babe!” knew how to make a good drink too. She yelled through the door again, Once more, I tried to speak, “I know what you think Bill. But Victoria “OK, hurry! I’ve got a couple drinks for us!” isn’t interested in you. It was all a lie. Bill smiled in light of what was She just wanted…” happening, and talked to me, “I’m “Shut up!” Bill shrieked. His voice didn’t sound so calm anymore. I could going to kill you now. Then I’m going to open that door and enjoy my drink see tears forming above his high with my one true love. Then I’ll show cheeks as his face began to redden. her your body and she won’t care. BeEven grown men cry. cause we’ll be happy together.” I found “Vicky is mine, Jack. You forcibly this funny. You probably would too, took her from me and you….You…” but you don’t know the truth of what A solid tear ran down his cheek, happened. dropped off his chin and hit the carBill examined me for one last time, pet. The carpet was maroon. When and then he pulled the trigger. I felt a you’re in a high-stress situation, you sharp pain in my head, then that was notice small things like that. it. I fell down and Bill pushed me unBill gathered himself as best he der the bed. I felt so cold. I hope they could and looked me in the eye. His bury me in something warm. Perhaps eyes were a bluish green that one asI should have told Bill. After all, he is sociates with aquariums. Or at least I my friend. Perhaps I should have told did. him about that drink he was about to He spoke once more, “And that’s gulp down. I knew what was in it. It why I have to kill you.” I wasn’t surwould put Bill in my position in a matprised to hear this from Bill, even ter of minutes. Victoria sure did make though he was serious this time. Bill one hell of a drink. ¶ always gave off a crazy essence and nobody doubted that he had to ability to kill a human being. He kept drugs in his apartment that could kill a man within minutes if he ingested them. I guarantee you Victoria had taken some. Boy, was she clever. Bill placed the gun into my mouth. I’ve tasted better. It was already cocked and loaded, now he just had to do the dirty deed. Suddenly came a knock on the door. From outside: “Bill! It’s me!” Victoria. “There’s Vicky.” Bill told me. I knew TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 15


Noles Need Anthro Why the Impending Cuts to the Anthropology Curriculum at FSU are Unacceptable by

HANNEKE HOEKMAN-SITES and TIMOTHY PARSONS

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mpending cuts to the state education budget have left many students and professors at Florida State University concerned for their departments, futures, and jobs. Administrators – including the University provost and President T.K. Wetherell, have made it clear that entire programs and departments will be eliminated to compensate for a University budget shortfall in the tens of millions of dollars. The Department of Anthropology has already felt the crunch, in quite a foreboding way. The College of Arts and Science has issued a moratorium on the on accepting new students into Anthropology’s graduate program; and, Anthropology is rumored to be one of the departments on the chopping block if Florida legislators cut even more education funding from the new fiscal year. The uncertainty facing the Anthropology department is undeniable – but in a larger sense, this uncertainty is a harbinger of things to come for Florida State and the State of Florida’s education system as a whole if the legislature continues to hold education accountable for their poor fiscal planning. In Anthropology – as in most departments – graduate students play vital roles, both as researchers and educators. Graduate students conduct independent research for their degrees, and help raise the position of the department and University on a national and international level through conference presentations, publications, and grants. They offer teaching assistant support in

most undergraduate courses, and teach many of the upper-level courses that undergraduates rely on for credit hours and fulfilling of University and departmental major requirements. Without graduate students and graduate instructors, Anthropology and its students– as with almost any other department at FSU – must offer fewer classes and have larger class sizes. What’s more, fewer classes mean longer times to finish degrees for undergraduates, which will put an enormous financial burden onto undergrads and their parents. Although Anthropology is a small department, it serves all FSU students. Anthropology teaches more than 3000 students every year, and offers more

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natural science, multicultural, and diversity required courses than any other department. Even more, Anthropology is cost effective. A student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Anthropology costs the college 1/3 of the average Arts and Sciences degree (again, this is due to the relatively low overhead, small department size, and well-qualified graduate students teaching courses). In the world in which we live today, anthropology as a discipline provides a valuable service, and the department at FSU offers a unique curriculum. Anthropology focuses on the physical and culture context of humankind, and exposes students to a multicultural perspective on the global community. The Anthropology Department


Opposite: FSU undergrad Skye De Moya examined artifacts with a budding archaeologist at a recent mock dig outreach program (picture by Geoff Thomas). Left: Anthropology students Kelly Daire, Bruce Darnell, and Dan Seinfeld distribute information about course offerings and encourage students to write letters supporting higher education funding at a recent Market Wednesday event. (picture by Glen Doran). Bottom: FSU grad student Kathryn O’Donnell helps students uncover artifacts at a recent mock dig outreach program (picture by Geoff Thomas).

at FSU also strengthens FSU’s state, national, and international reputation. Students at all levels receive significant support for future education and most graduates are employed within the field or a closely related one. Faculty members conduct research in human evolution, skeletal biology, maritime archaeology, and archaeology in Florida, Mesoamerica, and China. Two graduate students have recently received prestigious National Science Founda-

tion Dissertation Improvement Grants. Such an achievement would be notable in a department of any size – in the relatively small department at FSU, it emphasizes the quality and importance of the graduate research. The bottom line is this: Florida State is facing more funding cuts, but eliminating entire programs is a destructive strategy. The elimination of even one relatively small department at FSU negatively and potentially disastrously

impacts the educations and careers of students in the department, but also stresses the entire University in terms of its ability to provide a quality education. What can you do? If you are concerned about the funding cuts facing Florida education, write your state senator and representative today. Go to www.flsenate.gov and search for your representative using the zipcode search in the lefthand column. Once you identify the legislators that represent you, write them a letter or give them a call. Tell them that education in Florida is important, and it needs to be funded. If you are concerned about the possible elimination of the anthropology department at FSU, write President T.K. Wetherell and tell him! He will assume you do not care about anthropology if he doesn’t hear from you. Have you taken a class in anthropology that made you look at the world in a new way? Have you explored what it means to be human in a physical or cultural anthropology course? Write to tell him what you learned—what really sparked your interest. President T.K. Wetherell, 211 Westcott Building, FSU, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1470. ¶ TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 17


Man vs. Wild Higher Energy Prices to Combat Climate Change are Ethically and Economically Justified by

JD Walters, princeton university

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n the spring of 2008—a time that may now seem impossibly long gone now given our economic troubles—lawmakers in Washington gathered to debate the WarnerLieberman-Boxer climate change bill. The measure was designed to “reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough between 2007 and 2050 to avert the catastrophic impacts of global climate change” by means of a cap-and-trade system, similar to the one endorsed by both presidential candidates during their campaigns. Touted as the first ‘passable’ climate change bill in U.S. history, it met stiff opposition from Republican senators and ultimately failed to attract enough Senate votes to avoid a filibuster. Opposition to the bill clustered around one main issue: potential increases in the cost of electricity and gas to consumers. As Mitch McConnell, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, put it, “The impact of this climate tax is too great to bear…At a time when Americans are struggling to pay their bills and when the price of gas seems to be rising higher and higher every day, [the Democratic] majority is showing itself to be laughably out of touch by moving to a bill that would raise the price of gas even higher.” At the time of this remark crude oil and gasoline prices were spiking, but since then, prices of both commodities have plummeted, dramatically reorienting the energy mar-

ket. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma echoed McConnell’s sentiments and added, “Any action has to provide real protections for the American economy and jobs, and we must protect the American families. Any action should not raise the cost of gasoline or energy to American families, particularly the low-income and elderly who are most susceptible to energy costs.” Even strident global warming activist agree that the potential cost of any climate action bill to American families should be taken into account when debating its merits. This article discusses Senator Inhofe’s stipulation that “any action should not raise the cost of gasoline or energy to American families.” One could infer from this comment that any environmental legislation that would raise energy prices, even if potentially effective in accomplishing its stated aim, would be unacceptable to Senator Inhofe. This dilemma raises a key question in environmental ethics: assuming that effectively combating climate change requires expensive policy measures which would impact many people’s lifestyles, how can we justify such lifestyle changes when other concerns seem more pressing? Environmentalists argue that this is a false dichotomy: ultimately it is in humanity’s best interests to reverse damage caused by industrialization and fossil fuel consumption because the changes in the biosphere that

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result from these activities put all humans at risk, now and in the future. Also, the problem should be a high priority because the biosphere has already changed dramatically as a result of human activity. Scientific studies now routinely link global warming from greenhouse gas emissions with glacier melting; increased incidence of hurricanes and other serious weather conditions; extreme drought in some parts of the world and extreme flooding in others; an increase in ocean acidity and other large-scale effects. A recent Pentagon National Intelligence Assessment projects that in the coming years, the United States will face significant threats to national security due to climate-related shortages of food and water, as well as health problems for its people. If extensive use of carbon-intensive energy sources like coal and oil are responsible for altering the climate in this way, it would only make sense from an economic perspective to include these detrimental factors in the price of these fuels. The problem, however, is that this is necessarily a long-term, global perspective, which can seem very impractical or out of touch compared to the pressing short-term worry of a higher electricity bill. This past summer, many American families felt first-hand the impact of electricity prices more than doubling due to the skyrocketing price of oil and infrastructure capital. Often, these families face the impossible choice be-


Above: The price of gasoline in the United States, from 1990 through 2007, adjusted for inflation. tween food and medicine, or food and paying the bills. Critics object that the ultimate effectiveness of putting a price on carbon as a means of slowing or reversing global warming is open to question, and that in any case it is unfair to tax people for lifestyle choices imposed upon them due to lack of incentives for alternatives. There is also the issue of developing countries, which for the first time are seeing Western standards of living come within their reach, and are suddenly being confronted with the demand to slash growth of energy consumption and impose stringent regulations on use of fossil fuels and other resources. Many of the economic objections to higher energy prices from carbonintensive sources are unfounded. A tax on carbon would create revenue that would allow the reduction of taxes in other areas, such as income, business or property taxes. Investment in ‘green’ energy is an excellent way to create new jobs and businesses.

Developing countries, moreover, need not face a cut-and-dry decision between sustainable practices and development. Early investment in ‘green’ energy sources and sustainable development, unhindered by market distortions in the form of subsidies to big agriculture and fossil fuel industries, has every potential of increasing the standard of living without increasing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of environmental degradation. But sacrifice, or at least perceived sacrifice, is unavoidable as people experience dramatic lifestyle changes. If reliance on polluting energy sources has not prevented large numbers of people from ‘falling through the cracks’ and kept them mired in abject poverty, there is no reason to expect that switching to green energy would eliminate these problems altogether. As with any economic scheme—including the present, carbon-intensive status quo—there would be winners and losers. Specifically, corporations

that have so far profited from selling carbon-intensive energy would be forced to change their business models. Many would not continue to be profitable. So the question that remains is: how do we justify dramatic life-style changes in the short-term for long-term objectives? The only way to do this is to recognize our moral obligation to the developing world today and future generations. Energy prices today, whether high or low, do not accurately reflect the damage we are inflicting on these countries because of global warming. This is not just a case of the United States putting the interests of its own citizens first; it is an act of aggression to deprive the poor and future generations of the environmental resources they need to increase their standard of living. Higher energy prices may cause great economic inconvenience, at least initially, as wealth is redistributed to favor those industries that have a smaller carbon footprint. But an economy that is built on exploitation is inimical to the ideals upon which the American democratic experiment is based. The only way free-market capitalism can be made to work for the benefit of all people instead of a just a fortunate few is to have a price mechanism which takes into account all the costs of an activity or product, not just the obvious ones of labor, raw material, and investment capital. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 19


Reaching Out to Conservative Christians A Time for Healing Old Wounds by

Joe Brewer, truthout.com

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bama’s recent reversal of the Bush administration’s ban on stem cell research offers progressives an opportunity to reflect upon our relationship to religion. We can take this moment to consider how our views of religion differ from those of many conservatives - and how we might start the healing process with these fellow Americans while working to address our most important issues. The perspective I will share is informed by the cognitive sciences – a crosscutting field of research that explores the workings of the mind. This is a powerful lens that offers many insights into the nature of political discourse around religion and morality.

Distinguishing Fact From Belief A common criticism progressives make about conservative religion is what we see as a stubborn blindness to facts. We have been known on occasion to call fundamentalists stupid, or worse, because they place belief over fact. What we fail to realize is that we are similarly blinded by our faith in the power of facts. Many progressives believe that human beings are “rational actors” who consciously weigh the pros and cons of every decision to “maximize our self interest.” This view is based on the notion that all people reason in the same way, which leads to the belief that people only need to get the facts and they’ll reason to the right conclusions. This view of human nature is a belief. And it flies in the face of the facts! Research in psychology, linguistics,

anthropology and a host of other fields, has shown that this view of the mind is inadequate at best, and is fundamentally wrong in many important respects. So what happens when a belief is confronted by a fact? The belief trumps it. This should make sense because every fact requires a context to make sense. And the foundation of every context is some idea about how the world works. Beliefs are this fabric of our inner worlds. My goal here is not to criticize progressives for holding a faulty view of humanity (though I do want to help improve upon this deficiency), but rather to make the point that human beings are “believers” before we are “knowers.” Our beliefs, often called presumptions, shape what we consider to be valid and what we consider to be suspect. This is a basic truth of human nature. And it is something we share in common with our fundamentalist neighbors. Painting Demons (The Distortion of Truth) If I had to pick one word to describe the political discourse around religion in the US, I’d say that it is toxic. Conservative Christians paint liberals as godless and devoid of morality. We tend to paint Conservative Christians as radical hatemongers completely devoid of compassion. We each see the other through our own worldview. And we tend to focus on the negative. Last year I had a conversation with my brother, an intensely religious person who considers himself to be a fundamentalist. It was one of those heart-to-heart talks

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intended to get to know each other after years of growing apart. I was a bit surprised to discover that my brother actually believed that I had no morality because I don’t believe in God. I pleasantly discovered that he is strongly motivated by his concern for the suffering of children in sub-Saharan Africa, where he does missionary work. Through the conversation, we learned as much about ourselves as we did about each other. Progressives have a similar opportunity if we can get beyond the stereotypes that paint our opposition as demons. The truth of each side has been grossly distorted by the vitriol of toxic discourse. And it is hurting all of us. The existence of stereotypes is not the problem. Cognitive psychologists will be quick to tell you that human reasoning is always shaped by “heuristics” that guide our understandings of complex issues. We use stereotypes, idealizations and simplifications all the time. Our brains cannot generate fluid streams of consciousness without packaging knowledge “on the fly.” So stereotypes are here to stay. We can, however, be more sensitive to the stereotypes that shape our thinking. Religious distortions are commonplace today; just as many racist and sexist stereotypes were prominent in times past. And they are just as destructive to our politics as the old relics were to previous generations. While we’re at it, we might also want to challenge the idea that progressives aren’t religious. Just because I don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that progressives are godless. In truth, I am in the minority.


Most of my progressive brothers and sisters apply their faith to guide them toward a more just and compassionate society. Reclamation of Faith Progressives are all too familiar with the damage done in the name of God. Many of us, even our Christian brethren, are appalled at the travesties committed by the religious right. We have watched the legal sanctioning of discrimination against the GLBT community. Scientific integrity has been replaced by attitudes left over from the Dark Ages, and our security is now compromised because of it with a destabilized climate, tainted foods and toxic toys. And the lifeblood of innovation, fundamental research, has been stalled by a fear of losing authoritarian control of the human story. These are lessons we should not - and must not - forget. Yet, it is vital that we realize that fundamentalism in the United States is not a monolith. It is vibrant and diverse. And it can change. As the American story returns to its progressive roots, we have the

its forms. I may not believe in God, but I am a man of faith. I have faith in the basic goodness of people. I can work alongside my religious friends as we lay the foundation for a new economy based on the principles of human dignity and the common good. This is a faith that deserves to be reclaimed by the religious and secular alike. Bridging the Great Divide For too long progressives have abandoned the landscape of morality in political discourse. It is time for us to make our values clear and put them at the forefront of our agenda to address society’s ills. But we must also realize that we can’t succeed on our own. We’re going to need the trust and support of those who have opposed us in the past. The work is just too vast for us to do on our own, especially if we continue to be opposed by a group of misinformed and fearful people who don’t really understand what we’re about. The first step to bridging the divide

The truth of each side has been grossly distorted by the vitriol of toxic discourse. And it is hurting all of us. opportunity to break the religious right’s stranglehold on religious language. They talk about “family values” but refer only to a narrow impression of strict father homes where daddy knows best. They speak of being “pro-life” as the myopic view that every choice is black or white. We know better than this. And it is our responsibility to expand the discussion of family values to include living wages and healthy communities. It is in our power to build a nation on the premise that life is precious and should be celebrated in all

between progressives and conservative Christians is to admit that we haven’t taken our end of the conversation seriously. Blaming them for their faults has been easy, and generally it hasn’t done us much good. Getting them to see that we have values too, some of which they are likely to agree with, is a much more difficult (and promising) piece of work. All these years of “only the facts” and “pushing policy platforms” has alienated those who don’t already see things the way we do. It’s not a very effective way to

show people how our hearts work, which is how they’ll know if they can trust us. It is time for a new strategy that recognizes the importance of belief and the centrality of values in knowing where a person stands - and why. Barack Obama has done this admirably. He often speaks of the empathy deficit, responsibility to the people, and the basic goodness of Americans. It’s pretty easy to see where he stands. All you have to do is listen to what he says. We can do this too. The United States needs a progressive vision more than ever before. We have eight years of political devastation to undo. And it has to happen while creating jobs, ending military occupations in the Middle East, addressing the climate crisis, and transitioning our cities and towns toward greater resilience and prosperity. Our responsibility as citizens is to make politics civil again. Our fundamentalist neighbors have been manipulated and lied to by the powers that exploit them, often for personal gain. They are generally good-hearted people who have been fed distorted messages about who and what we are for as long as they can remember. These people - our neighbors - need to know that we are good-hearted people too. They need to know that we stand for something. And we need to let them know exactly what it is. While the media machine spins out its stories about what Obama’s renewed commitment to stem cell research means, we can tell our own stories. Neighbor to neighbor. Person to person. Heart to heart. It is time for the healing process to begin. We can change the nature of our politics and move beyond historic lines of division. A good place to start is with members of our local communities. All it takes is a little trust and an open heart. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 21


Assorted Poems by

SYDNEY WEINBERG

Guilt

love poem in winter

Missing It

I am your mother and I made you squealing pink potato, with hands and feet for roots, parents for roots with a strong, branching heart that grew, webbed red and blue with veins like vines and wide, wet eyes.

i have never been very good when it comes to defining love or falling in it, as if love were the everglades, a duck pond, a ditchwhich is why it came as a surprise, this weekend, after you spent all of saturday with my cousin and me, and after you sunk in my bed and my body like a warm submarine, to realize that i loved you, when love had always been a word (i’d thought) too much abused by sonnets and pop songs.

I left the wack jobs and living gods back in Dublin, where I found ‘em.

I watched your body unfold like a lawn chair. I watched as water turned the color of your hair dark and back. You had a laugh like a little old man and you blinked your eager hands. We fought, your daddy and I. We let the neighbors line our windowsills with ears. there are no erasers or cosmetic lasers with which to vaporize the fights, the time I yelled eat shit and die and the words came through your bedroom wall, and woke you like a grizzled nurse. And so the next time you return home to here, the next time I watch you descend down the death white steps, I’ll be waiting in the airport lobby, balloon-faced, hugging flowers, forgetful as time allows.

and so i wear your body like a coat. it is winter and my teeth chatter, my heart feels like a cold, bruised raisin, and i try not to move, keeping my warmth collected. i can’t tell you enough how much i love when you just have to touch me— i mean my hair or frozen claw of hand, that is. you go immediately to my head (lover as whiskey, warm rum lover) which is unfair; in the binary of us i am always cold and you are always tea.

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The place feels like a dream, now. Like a dream my brain invented one long, hot, tortuous night, without my self howling like a referee carving the turkey of real or unreal. I made the mistake of reading Baudrillard, (Baudrillard on nostalgia and constructs). Now when I talk or think about Dublin longingly I feel Baudrillard’s clammy French hand kneading my shoulder like cold clay. Oh Baudy, Baudy my dear! Dear, darling philosophizing shaman, isn’t there some well I can drown you in? Some pissed-off mule I’ll tie you to? The rest of this poem will stretch on like the muscles of a pioneer, mine silvery verses so horrifyingly long, like horse cock— and it won’t be remotely poignant, or retain a smidgen of poetic technique. it’s just going to be lists of place names, names of streets... that kind of thing. ¶


Featured Artwork by

MATT MILEY

Artist Statement My work is a reflection of my journey to find spiritual awakening, Identity, and intellectual growth beyond the confines of traditional institutions and dogma. In a transparent landscape, perhaps in the landscape of one’s self, my drawings are images of humans in a state of becoming or becoming undone. These anthropomorphic forms and lines materialize into a landscape where figures are “Pulling for Detail” Pen and Ink on Mylar 22" x 39" 2008

interacting with that landscape and each other. The figures pull, uproot, and hide fragmented lines and systemic forms to reveal intricate and repetitive systems that surround and penetrate their bodies. Willed introspection and mythological propositions are employed as schema to guide me through this journey. ¶

“Off Center or The Refusal” Pen, Ink, Gauche on Paper 30" x 22" 2008

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 23


BCS – Busted! by

chris herget

A

nother year has passed, and another BCS controversy has arisen. While University of Florida fans are celebrating for another year, Utah fans are screaming for a change, as did Boise State fans did two year ago.  The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) was created back in 1992 to determine the number one team in college football by placing the number one and number two teams together in one championship game. In principle, the BCS is a brilliant solution to figure out who the number one team is but it has just as many weaknesses as it has strengths. Since the inception of the Bowl Coalition, a predecessor to the BCS, the number one and number two teams only met eight times within its 57 years of existing. The BCS is batting a .700, with the number one and number two teams matching up seven out of the last ten years. Looking at statistics alone, it seems like the BCS has a better track record than the previous system, but that is where its strengths end. With college football players being bigger in size, lifting more weights and playing better than their former counterparts, more and more teams are competing for the top spot as the number one team in the nation. With BCS busters like Hawaii, Utah, Boise State, and Missouri it seems like more and more recent teams have a hatred toward this system, denying the teams access to play for the championship game.  Hawaii, having played to an undefeated regular season, was invited to play in the Nokia Sugar Bowl against Georgia. Even though they were undefeated, they did not play in the BCS championship game against either a two loss LSU team or a one

loss Ohio State team. I believe they did not get invited to the game because of their media coverage (an average Hawaii home game broadcasts at 10 pm EST) and their strength of schedule, (they do play in the Western Athletic Conference). The BCS rankings are determined by the average of the AP (Associated Press) poll, Coaches poll (Each division-1 coach is asked to rank the top 25 teams), and six independent polls, (Peter Wolfe, Wes Colley, Sagarin, Seattle Times, Richard Billingsley, and Kenneth Massey ratings). These polls are independent of each other, selecting their top 25 teams in the nation. In each of the polls, the highest and lowest ranking teams are dropped, then the remaining teams rankings are averaged. This process, on the surface, seems like the most logical way to compile a bunch of rankings from many different sources, and then average the rankings out. But the BCS is far from perfect. The University of Southern California may be the most abused school in this current selection system. In 2003, after several hard fought games on the gridiron, USC, LSU and Oklahoma were undefeated heading into BCS selection day. Although being ranked number 1 in both the AP and Coaches Poll, USC was not selected to play in the National Championship game. In 2006, undefeated Boise State defeated then-favorite Oklahoma 43-42, in one of the most exciting post-regular season games in college football history. After the celebration died down, avid Boise State fans were somewhat anxious to find out if they were to be named the number 1 team I the nation, post BCS. Despite having the only undefeated record that season, Florida defeated Ohio State to claim their

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second national championship. Over the past college football year, Utah, Boise State and Texas Christian were all ranked in the top 11 in the BCS polls prior to final BCS selections. The University of Cincinnati and Virginia Tech were ranked 12 and 19 respectively prior to the selection. Cincinnati and VT were both selected to play against each other in a BCS game (FedEx Orange Bowl) over two of the three teams that were ranked higher than they were, (Utah was selected to play in the Nokia Sugar Bowl due to a BCS selection rule). Every major collegiate sport has a playoff system. Why not football? Some supporters have said that if you add a playoff system to college football, you will run the kids dry, making them work another 3 or more weeks without being paid for their hard work. I understand that football is the most grueling and physically straining of any collegiate sport, but that is what the kids signed up for. If you don’t want to play, don’t play. The NCAA baseball season usually starts mid February, around the 20th, and ends in late May, usually around the 20th-22nd, not including the conference championships or the national championship playoff. Factor in both of the playoffs (conference and national), baseball players are playing for more than three and a half months, usually three times a week. Do the math, three times a week, for three months. That is a lot of games for collegiate baseball players. Collegiate basketball starts mid-November, around the 15th, and ends at the middle of March, around the 15th. This four-month period does not include March Madness, which usually ends the first week of April. Do the math for this one. Each team plays


Custom Crossword Puzzle

3/15/09 11:23 PM

Political News and Players 1 2 an average of two games a week, for 3 almost five months, (if you make it to the Final Four). Collegiate football usually starts in early September and stretches into late November, not including each team’s 7 conference championship game. Then 9 there are weeks of nothing, including the over-hyped Heisman presentation and decisions to be made for the pros. 12 13 Between the first week of December (the assumed end of the regular season 16 and end of conference play) to the start of bowl games, there is at least a three week break. (Though admittedly, each 17 team does get a BYE week during their regular season, to catch up on sleep, plot strategy and whatnot.) 19 Now, if the only debate as to whether or not we should have a playoff system is because of the length of the football schedule, I think we can take advanAcross tage of the three-week break between ACROSS regular season and bowl season. Start 3 ___3  ___ scheme; the fraudulent investscheme; the fraudulent investment tactic the playoff system the week after conemployed bytactic Bernieemployed Madoff by Bernie ment 5 Chairman of the Republican National Madoff ference play is done, (after the conferCommittee 5 Chairman of the Republican Naences championship games). Allow the 9 "The __ __ is the one option that is not on tional Committee rankings to continue averaging their the table." Obama, on healthcare reform 9  “The __ __ is the one option that is teams, and include the top 32 teams be- 10 "I hope he fails." on to thewithdraw table.” Obama, on health11 Obamanot plans all American ing selected by these ranking systems. care reform troops by 2011 Let the averages of these teams be the 16 This 10  “I hope he fails.” term has been retired as a classification for11  prisoners held at Guantanamo Obama plans to withdraw Bay. all Amerinumber in which they fall in the playoff 17 "Hotbed of terrorism" - The Economist; can troops by 2011 system so that during the first week

Lahore, __

in December, college football fans will Down witness the first round of the college http://www.variety-games.com/CW/Puzzles/659221764-puzzle.htm 1 Sec. of State Clinton’s solution to the football playoff system. After this first Israeli-Palestinian conflict weekend, we will be down to 16 teams, 2 AIG planned for $165 million in __ the following week to 8 teams, and so until the Treasury secretary interon until the final two teams meet, prefvened erably sometime in early January. This 4 Employee __ __ Act; union and system, if the dates work out, will land labor legislation 6 Pork spending earlier in the year, and with two bye 7 “Right of __;” Bush policy allowing weeks right in the middle of the playhealthcare workers to deny treatoffs set aside for the rest and well being ment on moral or religious grounds of our athletes. 8 John Boehner opposes this law This system is, of course, would reform work in a perfect world. But hey, at least there would be no argument over who is the best football team in the nation. ¶

Crossword 4

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16  term hasClinton's been retired as ato the Israeli1 This Sec. of State solution Palestinian conflict classification for prisoners held at 2 Guantanamo AIG planned for Bay.$165 million in __ until the Treasury secretary intervened 17 “Hotbed of terrorism” - The Econo4 Employee __ __ Act; union and labor mist; Lahore, __ legislation 19  should be called the __ification 6 “It Pork spending America” - Sen. Gregg, on 7 of "Right of __;" BushJudd policy allowing Obama budget healthcare workers to deny treatment on 20 Governor of Louisiana and potential moral or religious grounds 8 GOP John Boehner opposes this law reform presidential nominee in 2012 12 Foremost critic of pork projects in stimulus bill

12 F  oremost critic of pork projects in stimulus bill 13 The oxymoron of “green” energy technology 14 Obama reversed Bush’s policy regarding __ stem cell research 15 “__ happens.” Cheney’s CNN-reported defense of former Pres. G.W. Bush 18 International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of the president of this country

(1)two-state (2) bonuses (3) ponzi (4) free choice (5) Steele (6) earmark (7) conscience (8) marijuana (9) status quo (10) Limbaugh (11) Iraq (12) McCain (13) clean coal (14) embryonic (15) stuff (16) enemy combatant (17) Pakistan (18) Sudan (19) France (20) Jindal TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 25

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Defining Damsel An Analysis of Bella Swan, Heroine of Twilight by

Shayn Nicely

I

sabella “Bella” Swan, the Disney-esque heroine of the much-hyped fantasy series Twilight, has skin described as “translucent-looking,” a penchant for falling over and hyperventilating, and decision-making skills that are entirely reactionary, typically to the lead male although occasionally to competition with other females or to placate a parent.

When engaged in a struggle, Bella cannot defend herself with even wit. She only attempts to run once (449), an attempt that is peppered with the words useless and weak. Though the narrator, Bella is rarely described as anything other than confused, awkward, dazed, helpless, child-like, hesitant, whispering, bewildered, or curious--as well as frequently forgetting to breathe or having a wildly stampeding heart. Meyer’s marinades Bella in the words moron and idiot as well. On page 55, Bella muses, “Possibly my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress.” Page 364 is the first time Bella notably picks herself up from a fall, notable only because the other 363 pages were spent using the shoulders of nearby men for support. On page 427, she firmly asserts her will when she says “I don’t want to go back to sleep,” but this is weighed down by earlier passages in which hysteria bubbles in her voice and she likens news of her boyfriend’s

arrival to a life vest. Most pages have equally blinding renditions of womanhood resident. On page 319, Bella faints because Edward kisses her. The technical term for this is swooning. Bella is often called reckless, which implies a little too much action on her part. Recklessness is the wrong word for it. (The most pro-active thing Bella does is endangering her own life by following the late-established villain’s exact instructions.) It’s more the same whimsical, fated birthright we get in fairy tales. She simply is around when bad things happen. It’s Wrong Place Wrong Time Syndrome combined with zilch in the way of free will. When cornered in an alley by a troop of nefarious older men on page 161, Bella is too weak even to scream. She only “tries to swallow” before her crush arrives to rescue her (then takes her to out to dinner). Edward slings, flings, and restrains her about twenty times total (including minor incidents where he merely carries her, or binds her wrists, or fastens her seatbelt, and major inci-

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dents like saving her life four times); Edward tucks Bella into bed, and chauffeurs her everywhere, even when she protests. At times, unfortunately, one must question the accidental nature of the damsel in distress; this is a sentence I am sickened to say, as it is so severe and unhealthy a lesson in a book aimed at young girls. Shortly after Bella is rescued for the second time, she actually has the epiphany that she could purposefully place herself into harm’s way for the hero’s attention. The final point of the book seems to be her decision to use her own near death as an argument for why her boyfriend should change her innately and eternally into something like him. She feels this is the solution to the “inequality” in their relationship and does not want to consider what it would do to her family (pages 474-475). The plot unfolds in an orchestrated formula of coincidence and unidimensional stock characters mostly serving as status bulletins to define the centerpiece of the novel: how much Bella and Edward (smoldering male lead) freaking love each other and how important they are to various on-lookers. On her first day of class in a new town, boys throw themselves at Bella in the form of chivalry, then antler’s clash. This happens every time Bella has an encounter with a male character who isn’t her Dad. These fleeting moments with Bella’s father are the most poignant in the book, even though Bella is lying through most of them. The only fe-


damsel |’damzl| noun archaic or poetic/literary a young unmarried woman. and wile, if not omission and lying; the than the other, and the dance of predamale characters, save the e-mails from damsel in distress can, at times, be as tion will be sexualized. Edward Cullen Bella’s mother Meyer’s glosses over, is the brooding, emotionally unhinged, insidious and damaging to the image are unmemorable to Bella and only of femininity as the femme fatale. Bella enigmatic vampire and Bella Swan is truly gain names and features of their discovers the legend of the Cullen his languishing human girlfriend, who own (typically one) when needed as quickly begins to spend her alone-time vamp clan by flirting with a Quetelade second choices to tie up the loose ends avoiding thought and forcing herself to boy on the beach until he tells her (“I created by all of Bella’s new would-be fluttered my eyelids the way I’ve seen sleep (“I was relieved when it was late suitors. The clearest definitions of girls do on TV,” page 122), then allowenough to be acceptable for bedtime,” these types are presented in Mike and followed by overdosing on cough medi- ing herself the moral luxury of feeling Jessica. Mike, oft likened to a golden guilty for leading him on ( “...knowing cine to knock herself out on page 251) retriever, is the perpetually crestfallen that I’d used him. But I really did like as if all cause should hum to a pause boy-next-desk who eventually dates Jacob. He was someone I could easily Jessica at Bella’s behest. (You could say without Edward’s influence. When in be friends with,” when a paragraph Edward’s presence, Bella stares, is untheir entire relationship is a reminder ago, she was covertly winking to him able to think, and uses analogies to of how desirable it is to be or be with because she was “eager to make him stone and angels--as well as the words Bella.) Jessica is the frizzy-haired sidehappy” for the information he’d given perfect and perfectly--a lot. We get kick who only ever babbles, bubbles, her. This is the onset of another famous it. We get it. He’s hot. Perhaps this is rambles, or chatters. Her purpose in female stereotype: the virginal whore). not Bella’s fault. Maybe Bella used to the Twilight universe is to periodically In a facade of empty gestures, Bella be an intelligent, self-sufficient lady question Bella about her relationship, learns the secret to making vampires typically in awe. Even a mother-daugh- before she came under the influence by imploring a vampiress, Alice, with ter reunion taking place in the hospital of das vampyr. Her brief yet stellar the old “I thought we were friends!” bit, performance in regurgitating informa(464-468), a scene one would normally which she then self-validates in spite tion during Biology leaves us torn on find ripe for the plucking, is somewhat of having just met Alice that day and the subject of Bella’s mental compedecapitated by more false pretenses never really speaking to her otherwise. tence. After all, she mentions the word from Bella, and her mother oddly dis“And we were friends now, somehow,” “misogyny” in relation to a paper on playing more interest in the story of Bella asserts on 413, though on page Edward than in how her daughter came Shakespeare, and Mike doesn’t even 415, right after Alice reveals how to know what it means. Bella must be to allegedly fall down two flights of make a vampire, Bella completely smart. stairs and out a window. loses interest in her. “We lay silently, Yet every piece of information she Some of this can be excused as the wrapped in our individual meditagarners over the course of this novel dynamics of a vampire/human relations. The seconds ticked by, and I had tionship. Granted, one partner is going is given to her by other characters almost forgotten her presence, I was so through the familiar tricks of flattery to have to be stronger and smarter

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enveloped in my thoughts.” She ignores Jessica in a similar fashion every single time Jessica talks, which is why she is always merely babbling in a vague nebula to Bella’s side. “She talked of nothing but the dance . . . I was far too lost . . . to notice much of what she said . . . not bothering to pretend to listen anymore . . .” (page 145) She even refers to her friends as irrelevant on page 355. Maybe Bella is just a bitch. Sometimes intelligent, self-sufficient women can be bitches. Maybe Bella simply uses emotions against people, lies a lot, and ignores her friends when they’re not talking about her because she’s self-centered and fake but also brilliant and ambitious. I can’t say this kind of female lead is a positive role model, but at least she teaches women to take care of themselves. However, when there is no immediate crisis and Bella is alone, she doesn’t dabble much in critical reflection on the situation. She mostly just changes clothes, cooks for her Dad, and tries not to think before failing and fantasizing about Edward. When there is an immediate crisis and Bella is alone, she retreats into fantasy about her inevitable rescue. On 426, Bella thinks, “If I could just see his face again, I would also be able to see the solution that eluded me now,” as well as, “Just a few more hours to keep breathing till he was here.” On 434, when faced with her own death and armed only with herself as defense, Bella welcomes surrender like a martyr. “My path was set. I just had to follow it now,” she thinks, even though her path is set by the man who is trying to kill her, James (a “tracker” who ap-

pears in a thunderous smack of deux ex machina to finally give us conflict on page 375; there are only 498 pages altogether). James even complains of how easily Bella is tricked and caught. Yet the Twilight universe, for some reason, hinges on her. Aside from Bella’s obvious, helpless beauty and the occasional sarcastic quip, she doesn’t seem to offer anything to hold onto by way of substance. Bella’s most glaringly frequent quality, when with

-only exist to indirectly inform Bella about Edward. When Bella and Edward become close enough to no longer need them to relay information, these characters completely disappear for the rest of the novel. When Edward and Bella are in the Q&A phase of their relationship, his questions to her are only paraphrased and rarely answered, whereas uncovering Edward’s history and talents is the axis of their activities together. This is why Bella seems to

Shortly after Bella is rescued for the second time, she actually has the epiphany that she could purposefully place herself into harm’s way for the hero’s attention. Edward and when without, is her undying devotion to him. For this reason, it’s difficult to reconcile her with being the recipient of this line: “You never do what I expect. You always take me by surprise.” This makes no sense in context with the entire rest of the novel. A more appropriate statement from Edward would have been, “I am the moon, and your emotions are the tide.” The sad and eventual reality of the novel is that the Twilight universe only appears to hinge on Bella by virtue of the importance of her life (or death), and the fact that she narrates, when in actuality the Twilight universe hinges on Edward. The sudden strangling importance of Bella’s life is first instated by Edward, and then is exacerbated by him, so truly, the only reason the Twilight universe seems to hinge on Bella is her narration. The initial cluster of characters--Mike, Jessica, Eric, Angela, Tyler, even Charlie-

28 | Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February, 2008 | TheYetiOnline.com

fade to a stop without Edward nearby. The story isn’t about her, even though she’s telling it, so she ceases to exist without Edward in frame. The events in Bella’s life have nothing to do with her, and have only been God-like accidents to bring her closer to Edward. In a more dire, sociosexual way, the relationship between Edward and Bella speaks volumes to an audience of Young Adult female readers on the pre-Liberation gender roles of men and women. This is apparent not only between Edward and Bella, but in every opposite-sex transcript of the text, although between Edward and Bella it is most frequent and oddly highlighted. “He might have let me pass if I hadn’t wobbled slightly. Then again, he might not have. His arm created an inescapable snare around my waist... I couldn’t resist him in anything.” Half of their interactions are question-andanswer. She even asks him, on page


Bella seems to have with Edward is his (page 382) These stereotypes are even 200, what she should say when Jessica more stark when concerning human admitted tendency toward eavesdropasks her about her feelings. The other ping, spying, and invading her privacy; male/female interactions. Bella views half of their interactions are command her mother as emotional and flighty Edward is always “unrepentant.” What and submission (often paired with the to the point that she cannot keep food a romantic word for a stalker. Every adverb “disapprovingly”), Bella martime Bella is bothered by this tendency in the fridge or gas in the car, but her veling at his superiority. “‘I’ll have a saving grace is the man in her life, Phil. of Edward’s, she either chooses to let it Coke.’ It sounded like a question. ‘Two Cokes,’ he said,” on 168 and “‘Drink,’ he go or is sexually distracted by him. On “Of course she had Phil now, so the bills would probably get paid . . .” Another ordered. I sipped at my soda obediently page 292, Meyer’s writes, “‘You spied perfect example is Jessica, who is often on me?’ But somehow I couldn’t infuse . . .” the following page. When they slighted as a gossip even though her my voice with the proper outrage. I kiss, it is always only Bella who loses lines are rarely more than paraphrased, control of her body, “blood boiling” and was flattered.” However, as the meanwho only becomes sincere toward “wildly gasping,” while Edward continu- ing behind Edward’s actions begins to Bella after she is “sure of Mike,” (79) settle, Bella sours. It’s never directly ally disentangles himself, is likened who is “elated by the attention” from spoken, as criticism of Edward never to unresponsive stone, and tells her to boys on page 30 and “shadows Mike” is, but perhaps Bella comes to find his behave (“I held properly still. Then I on page 118. Every human female spying distasteful because it reveals sighed,” page 366). This undercurrent an inherent lack of respect or trust? On character either suggests that women of dominance, submission, and female are emotionally charged to the point page 306, Bella speaks “icily” of this sexual repression is reminiscent of the of incapacitation, that the primary obin bed, and Edward ignores her and Victorian Era. jective in society is male attention, or says “So, if you don’t want to sleep . . .” Edward Cullen, the sparkling focal both, while the most common human In reality, a man like this doing these point of Twilight, is condescending, male character, Charlie (Bella’s father), same things would have serious emoviolent, obsessive, and judgmental, spends most of his time eating her tional and mental problems surfacing especially for a love interest. These dinners in silence and then watching in that behavior. On page 309, Edward qualities all sound very sexy and dark baseball on TV. ¶ slides the entire psychodick spectrum when they are adjectives. They transbetween “Please?” and “threatening late quite differently in dialogue and darkly” in 2.5 sentences. He shushes action, and even more differently still in real life, where these men eventually Bella with his finger on 338; grips her “like a toddler” on 297. receive restraining orders. “‘Where It’s not only the vampire/human do you think you’re going?’ he asked, element. That’s understandable. Natuoutraged. He was towing me toward rally, Edward has the edge of experihis car now, pulling me by my jacket. ence, having been born in 1901. But He’d probably just drag me along anythe vampire/vampiress interactions way.” There’s our hero using physical hold the same exact gender stereoforce to subjugate Bella’s will. “‘Let types. Though one would assume these go!’ I insisted. He ignored me. ‘You are women would be made bold by physiso pushy!’ I grumbled.” And here is Bella ultimately accepting his behavior, cal superiority, the vampiresses always only resort to coaxing and empathy when she doesn’t quietly applaud the as methods of persuasion. “‘Edward, protective quality of this “iron cage.” let’s just talk this through.’ ‘You don’t In spite of these that would norunderstand!’ he roared in frustration.” mally be red flags, the only problem TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 29


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Undermining Military Readiness by

Dan May, princeton university

A

merica’s military capacity is at the breaking point. Engaged in two counterinsurgency wars, numerous peacekeeping operations, and other routine overseas deployments, the United States ground forces have little reserve capacity to respond to new global crises. In fact, they have maintained their current deployment levels only by resorting to stop-loss orders, reserve call-ups, and ultimately, less selective recruiting. This approach is not sustainable over the long term. With forces stretched so thin, it seems shortsighted that the military continues to discharge openly homosexual soldiers from its ranks under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Strategic necessity demands an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It is time that the military establishment listened. America’s ground forces are not large enough to accommodate its current set of deployments. Today’s army has only ten combat strength divisions at its disposal. During the Cold War, it had eighteen. Policymakers in the Department of Defense understand this problem and are beginning to remedy it. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has drawn up a plan to increase the size of the Army and Marines by 92,000 persons over the next five years. At a time when the military is trying to expand, it makes no sense to continue discharging homosexual soldiers. About 10,000 service members have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since its inception in 1993; the cost to hire and train replacements is astro-

the elite universities that have eliminomical. More importantly, though, nated their ROTC programs, either. surveys done by the Servicemembers Dozens of colleges and universities Legal Defense Network estimate that across the country turn the military 41,000 additional homosexuals would away on the grounds that it discrimijoin the military absent the ban. The nates against homosexuals. This issue Defense Department is denying itself has been prominent enough to elicit an enormous recruiting pool by insistcomments from John McCain and ing on a heterosexual military. Barack Obama. At a recent Columbia “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has damUniversity forum, both candidates aged the military even more in certain commented on the refusal of Columbia specialty professions. In the last few years, the military has discharged over and other universities to allow ROTC units. While both agreed that the in50 Arabic and Farsi speaking linguists stitutions should reinstate their ROTC because of their sexual orientation. programs, Obama continued by assertThese linguists are absolutely critical ing that this reinstatement should be to success in Iraq and Afghanistan. accompanied by the elimination of the They help soldiers communicate with the local population, avoiding mistrust “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a stance that McCain does not share. and misunderstanding. Linguists Some pundits have argued that also translate battlefield intelligence opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” reports that help root out terrorist and is only a pretense meant to hide insurgent groups. Reliable linguists the true disdain for the military in are extremely difficult to recruit, espeacademic circles. Even if this is the cially given the occupational hazards of battlefield work. While replacing dis- case, overturning the policy would force these people to be honest about charged ground troops may be costly, their opposition to American military replacing quality linguists is virtually power. Students are much less likely impossible. to sympathize with overt anti-military Less tangibly, “Don’t Ask, Don’t sentiment than with a crusade against Tell” undermines civilian support for bigotry. Eliminating “Don’t Ask, Don’t the military, particularly on college Tell” might not win over the professors, campuses. Many in academia, who but it will certainly improve the preswould otherwise have no problem with tige and recruiting draw of the military a military presence, oppose Reserve among students. This can only help the Officer Training Corps (ROTC) units War on Terrorism. College graduates because of the military’s discriminatory policy towards homosexuals. Yale, have the analytical tools necessary to carry out complex counterinsurgency Harvard, and Columbia, among other operations, process intelligence reelite universities, have banned ROTC units from their campuses. It is not just ports, and manage the military’s pro-

30 | Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February, 2008 | TheYetiOnline.com


curement apparatus. These are exactly the specialists that the military needs to fight the War on Terrorism most effectively. Clearly, attracting such bright, young officers is more vital to the military’s overall mission than keeping homosexuals out of the ranks. Supporters of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy make a litany of arguments in its defense. Some claim that homosexuals in the military will clash with homophobes in the ranks and undermine unit cohesion. Others argue that homophobic soldiers would leave the military rather than serve alongside open homosexuals. Yet every piece of empirical evidence contradicts these arguments. First of all, the military is not an inherently homophobic institution. According to Zogby polling data, three quarters of American

XKCD

soldiers have no problem interacting with homosexuals. On the ground evidence corroborates this polling data as American soldiers fight alongside homosexual members of foreign militaries every day. In fact, many critical US allies, including Great Britain, Israel, and Canada, allow homosexuals to serve in their armed forces. Experts predicted disaster when those militaries integrated; their predictions simply never materialized. In reality, today’s criticisms of homosexual integration echo the arguments opposing the integration of African Americans into the armed forces in the 1950s. Black integration, it was said, would anger white racists, hurt recruitment, and undermine the integrity of the military. Those arguments were wrong then and they are wrong

now. Black integration was good for the military and American society as a whole. To this day, black Americans serve valiantly at all levels of the United States armed forces. More critically, though, military integration paved the way for civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Having served alongside blacks, many of these white soldiers came to realize that their preconceived racial stereotypes were just not true. When these soldiers entered the voting population and the political classes a decade later, they shifted the civil rights landscape of the United States. Homosexual integration could easily have the same effect. Regardless of one’s views on homosexuality, though, it is clear that the United States military needs more ground troops. With the forces at its disposal today, the American military cannot credibly deter rogue states from seeking greater regional hegemony. Nations like Iran and North Korea are effectively free to act because the United States cannot deploy enough soldiers to stop them. Given that strategic reality, it makes no sense to deny homosexuals the opportunity to serve. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prevents 41,000 potential soldiers and dozens of critical specialists from joining the ranks of America’s military. It also denies military recruiters access to some of the nation’s best and brightest young college graduates. If the United States is serious about fighting the War on Terrorism, it needs these people badly. ¶

TheYetiOnline.com | The Yeti | 31


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www.theyetIonlIne.coM Volume 5 ~ Issue 2 ~ March 2009 Published with support from Campus Progress/Center for American Progress (online at Ca...

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