Ames Teams: It’s All About the Glory

BY JONAS BLANK

Team Gunther
Team White

The Gunther Team

It depends on who you ask, but some say 3L Greg Lipper will lose Ames.

Ask his teammates, however, and you’ll get a different story.

“Either we’ll have won, or we got robbed,” said 3L Mark Freeman of his team’s chances. The Gerald Gunther Memorial Team is named after famed liberal constitutional law scholar Gerald Gunther, whose textbook is one of the best known on the subject. Gunther died this July at age 75.

The Gunther Team consists of 3Ls Lipper, Freeman, Beth Mellen Harrison, Josh Solomon, Norina Edelman and Louis Tompros.

Team members said the choice of Gunther’s name was appropriate, as five of the six members are liberals. In this year’s case, Morales v. Gallows, the Gunther Team represents the more left-wing side as well. The case pits a tenant against a Christian landlord who seeks to exclude non-married cohabiting couples from her building. The petitioner’s name, Christina Morales, is meant to be a clever pun invented by the Board of Student Advisers, which administers the competition.

The Gunther Team prides itself on a tough work ethic. “We pulled all-nighters the night before our briefs were due,” Lipper said. Freeman added that, in total, the team has used all but 40 minutes of the total time available before brief deadlines, turning in their work at the absolute last minute.

Late nights and hard work are all part of the fabled Ames Competition, an annual event which has become both a social and legal spectacle of sorts for the Law School community. The competition mimics the appellate process, with teams filing briefs and making oral arguments before actual judges. Teams compete in three rounds: quarterfinals in the fall, semifinals in the spring and the finals the following fall. To make it this far in the competition, would-be litigators have to be among the best in their classes.

By this point, Gunther members say, there’s still a lot left to do.

Such as? “Learn the law,” jokes Tompros. Freeman, who serves as one of the team’s two oralists along with Lipper, added that, “Greg and I will have to learn not to say stupid things.” But the team’s self-effacing humor belies what is no doubt rigorous and carefully-honed preparation — as soon as they’re done interviewing, they will be rehearsing in front of a video camera to catch every possible nuance of their performance.

Asked to comment on the dire predictions of his chances — immortalized both in the name of an IM flag football team and The RECORD’s own Fenno column, Lipper sought to set the record straight.

“[The flag football team] is a bunch of people I lived with 1L year,” he said. “Last year they were ‘The Fighting Greg Lippers.’ So this year, I harassed them to name the team after me again.”

So what does the Gunther squad think of their opponents?

“The other team speaks for themselves,” Lipper said.

The White Team

“The other team calls us ‘the lifestyle team’” said 3L Mary Catherine Martin of the Byron White Memorial Team. The team is named after the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice and football Hall of Famer who turned down a position on the Yale Law Journal to play professional football with the NFL.

“I don’t think we’ve even pulled an all-nighter” added 3L Carlos Lazatin.

In contrast to their hard-charging opponents, the White Team — featuring 3Ls Martin, Lazatin, Jeffrey Lerner, Rita Lin, Nathaniel Reinsma, and Matthew Stephenson — takes their Ames practicing slow and steady.

“We’ve been having to do a little bit each day rather than a few bursts,” said Stephenson, one of the team’s oralists, for whom “a little a day” means about three or four hours.

By now, Stephenson says the team is focusing solely on refining its oral arguments. “We just need a little more practice,” he said. “These guys [the non-oralists] just throw questions at us. They hit us with everything they can think of. It’s like batting practice.”

It’s been a long but entertaining journey for the White Team, which, like their opponents, is made up almost entirely of Law Review or Section II members (and several who are both). All agree that one of the most important factors in choosing an Ames team is getting along with each other.

“Fit was a big factor for us,” said Lazatin. “We knew we were going to spend large amounts of time with each other.”

The White Team also prides itself on its diversity. Representing the conservative side petitioner in this final round — as the team says it has had to in every round — is a group of two liberals, two moderates and two conservatives. The team is similarly split along religious and regional lines, with two Protestants, two Catholics and two Jews. Two members each also come from the West, Midwest and East.

If the White Team wins, they will take home $750 along with the glory of being this year’s Ames champions.

“We’re not in it for the money,” said Lazatin. “I don’t think we’re getting a living wage if you work it out by the hour.” He added that the losing team takes home $650, making the entire Ames competition essentially a battle for $100.

Does Stephenson (who seems prone to sports similes) have anything to say about the Gunther opponents? “It’s like being a pitcher facing another famous pitcher,” he said. “I’m not worrying about the pitchers, I’m worrying about the hitters.”

Still, when asked, White Team members made the boast: Greg Lipper will lose Ames.

The (almost) perfect pizza joint

BY ALEX SUNDSTROM

Every pizza joint makes their own crust, and the better ones cook their tomato sauce rather than spoon it out of a can. But every morning, the workers at Real Pizza even make fresh mozzarella cheese from scratch. This sort of passion for ingredients is tough to find within walking distance of Harvard, where most pizza makes me weep bitter tears and yearn for Domino’s. At its best moments Real Pizza is comparable to my favorite Neapolitan pizza place in Rome. Given that the restaurant is the brainchild of Rene Becker, who owns the nearby Hi-Rise Café and is responsible for its delicious range of breads, this is not a big surprise, but nonetheless a pleasant one.

Becker will never be accused of pandering to the masses. At Real Pizza, all pizzas are 12″, the only soft drink available is a “Real Coke,” ($2), a made-to-order combination of Coca-Cola syrup and carbonated water that is warm, syrupy and verges on flat, and the few uncomfortable tables in the small storefront feel like a begrudging concession to would-be diners. The staff is brusque and curt, acting like priests at a pizza temple. Fortunately for the customers streaming in and out of the place all day, Real Pizza really is a temple, treating the authenticity and quality of its ingredients with a respect normally reserved for minor deities. Because all the pizzas are the same size, Real Pizza can employ a loud timer to make sure the pizzas come out just right each time.

The eponymous Real Pizza ($10) is the best showcase of these ingredients by far. The piquant, acidic tomato sauce has soft chunks of fresh tomato and the perfect amount of oregano, basil and sage. Even given Becker’s extensive background in baking, the quality of the crust is astonishing. The thin crust is a paradox: blackened and crisp on the bottom, it leaves trails of flour rather than grease on your fingers, yet it is moist, chewy and slightly sweet in the middle. The air bubbles and loft of the crust are quite surprising given the electric ovens Real Pizza uses. The mozzarella rounds the pizza out perfectly: Bubbling in pools on the pizza, it has a clean, buttery flavor with just a hint of sourness, and perfectly rounds out the flavor of the pie.

Adding a topping or two to the flagship pie can’t hurt, but the more exotic offerings at Real Pizza, while they retain the extremely high standard of the ingredients, combine them in ill-advised ways. The “Wolf 359,” one of many astronomy-themed pizzas on the menu, replaces the mozzarella and tomato sauce with Red Bliss potatoes, Reggiano parmesan and chives. It doesn’t’ work. The potatoes are soft, too similar texturally to the crust, and the whole result is too bland. It comes off like scalloped potatoes with an infusion of extra carbohydrates.

The white clam pizza ($17), with fresh clams, more parmesan, garlic and parsley is frustrating – the clams are tender and moist, despite being fired in the oven, if you pick them off the pizza, but the Reggiano parmesan totally overwhelms them if you eat the pie straight. This is not something you want if you’re paying close to $20 for what is essentially a small pizza. The Sicilian-style deep-dish pizza that is sold by the slice ($2 for cheese, $2.50 for pepperoni), dries out too much when reheated, and in any case has a skewed crust-to-topping ratio. The pepperoni is nothing special, leaking oil all over the fresh mozzarella and spoiling its flavor.

Italian cooking traditionally focuses on letting a small number of high-quality ingredients speak for themselves, and Real Pizza is certainly strongest when it does this rather than wandering off into pretentious complexity. Stick to the simple stuff, though, and your Real Pizza experience will be just that.


Getting There

Real Pizza

359 Huron Ave. Cambridge

614-497-4497

Hours: Mon-Thurs 9-9, Fri 9-10, Sat. 5-9

The Balcony

BY AMANDA GOAD

A sign on the door outside the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club’s production of The Balcony warned that the performance would feature loud noises and flashes of light. It didn’t mention “abstraction,” for which the audience also needed to prepare. Nonetheless, I appreciated the chance to see an excellent production of an interesting show.

I showed up to the performance unprepared, having been preoccupied in the days prior with civil procedure and the D.C. peace march. Knowing that The Balcony is a work by Jean Genet, I did piece together enough dim college recollections to expect something racy, complicated and French. Thus I brought along an anthropology grad student friend for help with any complicated conceptual stuff that might come up. As the lights went down, I hoped she would not be bored.

That proved not to be a problem.

Within the first 30 seconds of the show, ear-splitting sounds of warfare gave way to the sight of a prostitute (Emily Galvin) servicing a robed bishop (Greg Gagnon). As the madam negotiated with this and other clients and with her protégé/pimp (Uche Amaechi), the small audience gradually stopped giggling and began puzzling over such dialogue as “the devil himself is the most famous of bad actors.”

My friend leaned over after the second scene, and I hoped to hear a cogent explanation of the play’s message trip off her lips. Instead she said, “This is way out there.” I couldn’t argue. Eventually we stopped worrying about literal meanings and settled in for an evening of engaging (if sometimes bizarre to the point of absurdity) theater.

The title location in this play is the business headquarters of a brothel, managed by Madam Irma (Emily Knapp). While she matches up her employees (Sara Lindsay Bartel, Kathleen Stetson) with such clients as the Bishop, the Judge (Bill McAdams) and the General (Nicholas Ma), “the rebels” are said to be encroaching on the city. Each of the powerful men enjoys being dominated while questioning what his role will be in a post-revolution society. Meanwhile, one prostitute (Scottie Thompson) has run off with her main client (Dan Cozzens) while another important customer (Matt Boch, well cast as the Police Chief) is late for a balcony appointment, adding suspense to a charged situation

By the second act, political power has changed hands, giving way to new debates over who controls whom and what each individual hopes to achieve in society. The Queen’s Envoy (Peter Dodd) commands attention with particularly ridiculous lines in the midst of chaos: “A Royal Palace is never finished exploding!” There are revelations, confrontations, a castration. (Explaining any more of the plot or thematic content of this show would not only ruin the surprise of several dramatic turns, but also risk revealing my own confusion about what exactly was going on.)

Director Andrew Boch wrought focused performances from a large cast. The acting particularly impressed me with its roles so far removed from the presumed actual life of Harvard College undergrads — although sexuality, violence, domination and submission are of course, in their varying forms, universal. Emily Knapp had an especially large responsibility as Madam Irma, whom she played with great presence, although I think her demeanor changed too little as Irma rose and fell from power over the course of the show.

The producers (Helen Estabrook, Catharina Lavers, and Jeremy Reff) and technical director (Todd Weekley) also deserve credit for an all-around well-executed play. Yard-high pyramids and other impressive abstract sculptures (by Julian Rose) dominated the floor level of the set (designed by Harry Graff Kimball), while the carefully-appointed balcony loomed on scaffolding overhead. Highly appropriate costumes (designed by Meredith James and Melia Marden) featured a touch of ’80s punk, while the drum-and-bass music booming during scene changes enhanced the sensation that this was a very modern production, even though the play was written in 1955.

A bit of history: Jean Genet drew much of his inspiration from personal experiences as a thief, a prostitute and a soldier in the French-Algerian war. A band of his intellectual friends, including Jean-Paul Sartre, had bailed him out of jail a few years before The Balcony was published. The show indirectly invokes images of the Algerian war, the Spanish Civil War and other modern conflicts, as well as prison and a medieval court.

The Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, like so many other entities at the College, takes itself very seriously, but with good reason. The Loeb Drama Center, where this and all other HRDC “Mainstage” productions take place, is a large and well-appointed facility. The success of this show, with its challenging content and large cast and crew, bodes well for the remainder of the HRDC season.

For those interested in pushing dramatic boundaries even further than this abstract modern classic, the HRDC features innovative works on its “Experimental” stage. The next Mainstage show, meanwhile, will be much more traditional: Look for a production of Cabaret coming up next month.

The humble beginnings of ‘Bush unleashed’

BY ALLISON WHITE

While last week focused on the future – the next two years of “Bush Unleashed” — some of the most interesting political commentary in recent days consisted of looks to the past — to the Bush candidacy and to the Bush war effort. While these expositions offer a look at the development of George W. Bush from pol to statesman, the more interesting theme is the development of the media’s perception of President Bush, from poseur to President.

The widely-anticipated HBO documentary, Journeys With George (which will run through the month), chronicles the 2000 Bush campaign through the lens of Alexandra Pelosi, NBC news producer (and daughter of Democrat House Leadership hopeful Nancy Pelosi). While promo spots focused on moments of cartoonish Dubya-tude — mugging for the camera; spelling out “Victory,” YMCA-style; blindfolded, exclaiming “I can’t hear you, ’cause I can’t see” — the full feature focused less on Bush’s faux pas and more on Bush’s political maturity and the media’s relationship with him.

From Pelosi’s vantage point (namely, the back of a press plane, marked as much by its political coverage as by drinking and cavorting worthy of Hunter Thompson’s 1972 campaign chronicle), President Bush appears a novel, albeit charming, lightweight — as reflected in Pelosi’s late-campaign poll of her fellow reporters, which predicted Al Gore as the likely victor. A reporter compares the Bush campaign to a bologna sandwich: “A white bread candidate with a baloney message, with cheesy advertising.”

But by November, the reporters who spent a full year following the President came to realize that they had been duped by Dubya, their coverage of Bush colored by the rose-colored shade of a candidate whose down-home congeniality lowered their guard and dulled their critical instincts. Their film ends with Pelosi’s observation: “It’s funny if you think about it. We all got some good laughs at his expense. But in the end, who are we? He’s the 43rd President of the United States.”

Bill Sammon’s new book, Fighting Back picks up where Pelosi leaves off.  Fast-forwarding from November 2000 to September 2001, following Team Gore’s attempt to de-legitimize Bush’s Florida victory (the focus of Sammon’s previous work, At Any Cost), the Beltway focused on stem cell research, a dwindling economy, shark attacks and oft-laid, mislaid interns.  Against this backdrop, Sammon (White House correspondent for the Washington Times, whose right-wing bias was uncomfortably apparent from time to time throughout the book) examines two counterpoints to the Presidency: First, a media establishment that, in the style of Pelosi’s campaign press corps peers, sneers at the President (as exemplified by the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, whose “press pool” reports drip sarcastic contempt toward “our maximum leader,” “the compassionate president”), and second a core of Democratic consultants — Bob Shrum, Stan Greenberg and James Carville — who see Bush (compared to Bill Clinton) as “over-matched — [like] where you have a strong power forward against a weak guard — and they don’t match up.”

On September 11, however, the paradigm shifts instantly. No longer can the press and the “loyal” opposition treat Bush as a lightweight — in the words of Carville (the Cajun noticeably less ragin’ at Election 2002), “Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!” The change that Carville feared comes to instant fruition: Under threat of war, the President achieves instant legitimacy. The public rallies around Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, and Democratic opposition is subsumed to the unified war effort. The mealy-mouthed media’s criticisms (e.g., that the military warn Afghani targets of bombing raids with prefatory leaflets) earn it the sarcastic rejoinders of not only Rumsfeld but also the writers of “Saturday Night Live.” At a time when the President’s stature is secure, the media and the Left are utterly neutralized. Dems defer to Bush’s decisions; press pool reports speak in reverential prose.

Those who chronicle the presidency often focus on a moment in time at which a candidate, aware of his imminent ascendancy to the presidency, experiences a noticeable shift in demeanor and temperament — the moment a man becomes The Man. This theme owned the early parts of George Stephanopolous’ Clinton memoir, “All Too Human,” as well as myriad other Presidential retrospectives. The theme also arises in the latter portion of Pelosi’s film. Sammon drills the President on this, and Bush admits that he has grown in his perception of the role of a president. But for as much as Pelosi and Sammon consider this question, their end product leaves one to wonder if, perhaps, what they see as the President’s growth and maturity is in fact less a change in the President and more a change in the press: Bush didn’t grow into the presidency so much as the press grew to accept Bush as president.

In times of economic prosperity and international tranquility, the thought that the president could unilaterally label our enemies “evildoers” without extended internal dialogue was unthinkable. But amidst the “cloud of war,” the public needed a leader who could see things in black and white and act accordingly — and, at that moment, the “silly simplicity” of Dubya became the “decisive vision” of President Bush. The press arrived at the shocking realization that the President need not be a policy wonk, a Rhodes Scholar, or even (gasp!) an Ivy League lawyer. Rather, when a leader surrounds himself with trusted minds, sometimes it’s good enough for the President himself to be a bold, decisive.… American. To those aggressively pursuing Ph.D.’s in social engineering, this may be a disconcerting assertion. The Democratic Party (inside and outside of the Beltway press) spent two years hiding from that reality. But last week, the voters made sure they heard it, loud and clear.

Choose HLS, get mail-in rebate!

BY GREG LIPPER

Just two days before my deadline, I was still unable to think of a column topic that would serve as a suitable pretext to dispel the latest prediction regarding the Ames Finals by Fenno — who appears to be a Malvoesque puppet of the Byron White Memorial Team. Fortunately, last Friday I found a flier in my HarkBox, sponsored by the Society for Law, Life & Religion’s abortion rebate program, with the following message:

“Did you know that every year, Harvard’s University Health Services uses a portion of YOUR mandatory health services fee to subsidize elective abortions? This policy is not mentioned in the glossy admissions catalogs. However, through the efforts of SLLR, you can request a rebate of that portion of your fee (and your spouse’s fee) by filling out the [included form]. Hundreds of students take advantage of this rebate every year. Please join us in once again sending a strong life-affirming message to the university.”

Was this flier a slightly tardy effort to energize the base of the Republican Party? A parody of last year’s HarkBox leafleting antics? An effort to signal that any university that would actually humor these rebate-seekers is missing more backbone than we had previously thought?

I will not venture to revisit the abortion debate. There are powerful arguments on both sides of the issue. Unlike my colleagues from the SLLR, I realized long ago that one’s position on abortion is so tied up in core value judgments that the mere regurgitation of the latest medical evidence will not persuade anyone who has thought about the issue — as just about everyone here has. And I also realize that for every flier featuring an incendiary photograph of an aborted fetus, there is a not-quite-as-incendiary but just-as-disturbing photograph of a suffering infant who just might have benefited from its mother having a bit more reproductive autonomy.

But what I will quibble with is the idea that a fundamental disagreement with a given university policy ought to exempt a student from a portion of their tuition bill. The price of living in and supporting an organized society is that you don’t get to agree with everything that it does. Even in the sterile confines of the ivory tower, the logic of this rebate program produces absurd results. Can a Christian Scientist refuse to have her tuition dollars used for any university-funded health services? Can a white supremacist decline to fund the Civil Rights Project? Can an anti-poverty advocate refuse to have his money finance anti-abortion literature?

Oh wait — death is different. After all, the flier features the words of Mother Teresa, who proclaims that “[I]t is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” An interesting choice of quotations from students who have each decided to spend $130,000 on a fancy legal education rather than donating that money to, say, feeding starving orphans — many of whom will instead die of malnutrition so that our erstwhile crusaders can pursue the careers of their choice. The decision to pursue postgraduate education rather than prevent world hunger is a splendidly ironic move from members of a student group that proclaims that “Life is a miracle …. [d]on’t use your tuition dollars to end it.”

We all make choices, more of which have an effect on human life than we would like to admit. It certainly makes life uncomfortable to acknowledge the consequences of seemingly innocuous resource allocation decisions that we all make on a daily basis. Money doesn’t buy happiness — but it does buy food, shelter and medical care — and there is only so much money to go around. This just means that every dollar spent on a DVD or a three-piece suit is a dollar not spent on these necessities. But expanding our awareness of life’s complexities — however unpleasant — is one of the reasons we devote our potentially life-saving dollars to three more years in the ivory tower. Those who still think in black and white at the end of that time should ask for even more of their money back.

RECORD Editorial: ‘Incompetent morons’ at HBS should respect free speech

BY

The administration of Harvard Business School caused the resignation of Harbus editor Nick Will because a humor cartoon indirectly referred to Career Services employees as “incompetent morons.” Such harsh criticism— from a cartoonist, no less — of the school’s extremely unreliable online Career System was, “deeply hurtful and demoralizing” for the Career Services staff, according to HBS Senior Associate Dean Walter C. Kester.

Protestations aside, the HBS administration did not merely “informally talk” to Will about their concerns. Rather, they admit to administering a “verbal warning” that was, by Will’s account, accompanied by the threat to hold Will personally accountable for any offending content in future editions of the paper. The HBS administration went on to suggest that the paper steer clear of what Will calls “questionable issues” in the future, Will claims that administrators also urged him to use Harbus writers to bolster Career Services’ image in subsequent issues.

HBS officials have focused on “two words” — “incompetent morons” — as the source of their ire. In fact, they claim that this whole situation could have been avoided if those words were omitted.

Here at Harvard Law School, any student even marginally educated in First Amendment principles knows that statements of pure opinion — such as one’s opinion that those providing an inefficient service are “incompetent morons” — are protected speech. Moreover, anyone who has read a newspaper or magazine lately is also aware that criticism is part of the mission of most publications. Even if that criticism is hurtful, it is protected speech so long as it is not libelously inaccurate. The Harbus’ cartoon does not even come close to that line.

Harbus editors and other students need not defend themselves by claiming the statement was directed at a computer program and not at human beings. The Harbus has an absolute right, as an independent newspaper, to express any opinion that it chooses about anybody — especially public figures on campus — in virtually any language it sees fit.

Business School officials claim that Will and The Harbus violated the school’s “Community Standards.” But these guidelines are totally unclear, establishing no boundary of acceptable conduct. And if they are meant to serve as a de facto speech code — as HBS tried to use them here — they are a disgraceful affront to the concept of academic freedom, and should be eliminated. They certainly should not be wielded against an independent student newspaper.

Universities have a peculiar habit of supporting academic freedom and free speech when it serves interests such as promoting the subversive and radical activities of professors they support. They trumpet the marketplace of ideas until they themselves are subjected to criticism in that market. They recoil at the prospect of supporting speech outside the ambit of their own ideological predilections. American universities were once havens of open discourse. Today, The Harbus incident reinforces the unfortunate truth: that speech within universities today is more restricted than in almost any sphere of American society.

The HBS administration’s action proved that, at least theoretically, it is capable of restricting campus discourse. But no amount of “Community Standards,” speech codes or veiled threats will ever make that decision right.

We are thankful that the Harvard Law School administration has been less heavy-handed in its treatment of campus speech, from recent dealings with The RECORD to support of several recent student protests. But we must not forget that the freedom of students to express themselves through independent means is not a privilege but a right, one that all universities should support.

This incident, like most examples of campus censorship, will be an embarassing one for Harvard Business School. That the HBS administration has shown itself willing to chill student criticism of campus institutions, wielding milquetoast “Community Standards” as its weapon, suggests that its ranks include more “incompetent morons” than even the “Career Dink” cartoon suggested.

The West’s suicidal tendencies

BY CHRISTOPHER POLLMANN

Over one year after the September 11 attacks, it may be possible to actually reflect on this cataclysmic assault. In this very provisional contribution to an ongoing inquiry, I wish to show that with its response to the attacks, the Western world seems to threaten the survival of mankind in a new way, in addition to the destruction of the environment and war.

The atomization of Western society and the mechanization of human life have given individuals — now emancipated from social control and projected out of their original social contexts — the means to destroy human life, possibly on a broader scale than on September 11, with the help of nuclear power, biological, chemical and genetic weapons.

I would claim that the perpetrators of the attacks are themselves representatives of our civilization and its two main features: individualism and technology. The attacks thus reflect suicidal tendencies of capitalist society.

On the surface, the perpetrators do not seem to belong to “our” society, because they claim to follow a version of Islam and to be part of a community inspired by that faith. But what I consider decisive for qualifying human beings and their lives as individualistic is their material, rather than spiritual, practices. Western society’s individualism stems not from differences in faith and philosophy, but because contemporary people are increasingly deprived of quasi-organic bonds with the natural and human environment — through family, village or tribe — that characterize traditional societies. Instead, in our increasingly atomized society, humans rely on each other less and less; everyone is supposed to obtain her own living.

Similarly, I do not assume that the terrorists were non-individualistic, just because they said they were and because they opposed the Western way of life. If we examine some of those presumably responsible for the attacks, we find (according to the information available) that they were living in a completely unnoticeable way in industrialized countries like Germany and studying at Western universities. Even if their perfect integration is a result of their ambition to hide aggressive intentions, succeeding in such concealment entailed a high degree of self-mastery — the very quality that epitomizes capitalist individuals.

Moreover, the terrorists used modern technologies: airplanes filled with jet fuel as weapons, skyscrapers as targets and mathematical formulae determining the point on the buildings, 20 percent from the top, to maximize destruction. Their preparation for the attacks — traveling, taking flight lessons, studying plane routes, airport security and sky control and coordinating themselves — required the setting of goals, long-term thinking, strategic planning, self-discipline and other features of what Max Horkheimer called instrumental reason, which defines, along with other aspects, the modern subject.

Instrumental reason doesn’t leave much place for feelings like sorrow, fear, rage and shame. Instead, it rationalizes and represses feelings, like hatred, which may have motivated the perpetrators. As psychoanalytic theory shows, the rationalization and repression of emotions is one of the characteristic aspects of Western civilization.

Nothing distinguishes the perpetrators’ way of behavior from what Western military commanders, secret agents, political leaders and others do — except their faith. But this specific motivation does not alter the individualistic and technological character of their behavior. It is merely a particular way of searching for, expressing and justifying power, since claiming one’s religious faith in public implies the desire to make other people adopt it.

John Le Carré has described Osama bin Laden as “a man of homoerotic narcissism”; “he radiates with every self-adoring gesture an actor’s awareness of the lens,” displaying “his barely containable male vanity, his appetite for self-drama and his closet passion for the limelight.” Narcissism is perhaps another feature of capitalist society: The isolated individual may need public recognition in order to compensate for the loss of the aforementioned quasi-organic relationships.

For all these reasons, the perpetrators were part of our Western societies, in the sense that they were their products and that they behaved like us. I agree with Indian writer Arundhati Roy: bin Laden is indeed “the American president’s dark Doppelgänger.”

Using a very provisional analogy, some currents of Islamist fundamentalism may be understood as a sort of fascism, with respect to their objectives, means and recruitment. Their goals could be, as in fascism, the industrial modernization of society, control and domination of women and elimination of criticism. Their tools may comprise, a superficial communitarian stance against capitalism and the liberal nation-state, designed to conceal increased exploitation of workers and women. Recruitment is based on a profound feeling of humiliation — such as by Western society today — and consists of attracting well-educated elites frustrated with traditional politics.

Now fascism, I would claim, is not the opposite, but rather the continuation and modernization of capitalism and individualism under extreme circumstances. Fascism is the brutalized but superficial revolt of the atomized masses against their existential loneliness.

U.S. intelligence agencies received several advance warnings of the terrorist attacks. Some elements in the Bush administration may have even facilitated the activities of the hijackers in order to obtain a suitable pretext for American military intervention in the Middle East. Confirmed, these allegations would reinforce a shocking complicity between the perpetrators and factions in the Bush administration. However, I am not a friend of a conspiratory perspective. That is why thorough investigations are urgent.

Pollmann is a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School

The ‘moral hazard’ of Israel subsidies

BY DONOVAN RINKER-MORRIS

In recent editorials such as Alex Gordon’s Nov. 7 piece in The RECORD, the divestment campaign has been characterized as anti-Semitic, imperialistic and now “intellectually lazy.” The ad hominem flows so freely that perhaps the best starting point for debate is where Gordon and I agree: “Israeli settlers who intimidate and beat people…are not entitled to their criminal behavior.” We diverge over whether U.S. taxpayers and Harvard must continue to subsidize this criminal behavior, to the tune of over $3 billion a year in official aid and unknown millions in private aid.

While it is facile to claim that divestment singles out Israel and should include Palestinian and other violators as well, the fact is that Israel controls access to U.S. official aid to the Palestinian Authority, just as Israel controls access to official offices of the PA. When Egypt incarcerated a human rights activist on trumped-up charges last year, President Bush responded by denying further aid. When China slaughtered thousands in Tiananmen Square, the U.S. responded by at least raising the possibility of denying most-favored nation trade status. Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Iran are already under strict sanctions. Only Israel is immune to any official U.S. criticism.

This has not always been the case. President George H.W. Bush temporarily denied loans to Israel in 1991 without a guarantee that the money would not fund settlements in the occupied territories. He was also branded anti-Semitic by Israeli cabinet members, and aid to Israel has remained unquestioned by any major U.S. official ever since.

It is odd that subsidies to American minorities, farmers and manufacturers can be challenged, but not subsidies to Israel. In these other cases, the fear of moral hazard is a recurring thread. In the case of Israel, the issue never arises.

Gordon presents the most superficial answer as to why Palestinian innocents are unjustifiably killed: Israeli’s war against terrorism requires military strikes. Just as wars of repression were conducted against Native Americans because “savages” among them attacked white settlers, attacks on Palestinians are, in Gordon’s rhetoric, justified because of terrorists among them.

The U.S. government subsidized white settlers in numerous ways, including the use of military force to quell “hostiles” whenever they threatened whites. As in the case of Israel/Palestine, the vast majority of America turned a blind eye to the impact of this support, which encouraged settlers to manufacture spirals of violence that would be quelled by the army whenever the “natives were restless.” The parallels are uncanny and disturbing to anyone who has spent extended time in both reservations and refugee camps.

Ending American aid and investment in Israel will not destroy Israel, the most powerful state in the region. That is not the intent. Instead, divestment eliminates the moral hazard inherent in current U.S. policy, which promotes militants on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. In view of the blank check from the U.S., Palestinian militants have no incentive to negotiate with Israel because there is no possibility of achieving parity. Israeli militants likewise can conduct their outrages with impunity, because if the Palestinians retaliate, Israeli militants gain not only increased moral and financial support from America, but political advantages in the Israeli electorate as well.

The only time the blank check from America was even questioned, Israelis rejected a militant leader and elected Yitzhak Rabin, thus permitting a peace process that might have yielded a solution. Sadly, as Palestinians and Israelis learned that the temporary delay of 1991 was an exception, radicals on both sides worked to undermine any possible peace. By challenging U.S. subsidies to Israel, the divestment campaign seeks to restore balance, in part because Israel, unlike other regimes in the Middle East, is likely to respond to moral suasion and economic loss.

It is unacceptable that hundreds of Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, just as it is unacceptable that thousands of Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. It is equally unacceptable that American subsidies help fuel the hostilities by which both are killed. Absent the blank check from America, Israeli society will rein in their own radicals, desist with the construction of settlements, and perhaps then a real solution may emerge.

It is an odd form of anti-Semitism to respect Israelis enough to believe that they will end the occupation once outsiders refuse to provide moral and financial support to it. As in the case of South Africa, where Bishop Desmond Tutu finds parallels to Israel/Palestine that American professors overlook, once outsiders refuse to provide economic and moral support to blatant injustice, insiders can act responsibly and resolve it.

Perhaps Gordon believes that maintaining the status quo that produces the violence will ultimately lead to a peaceful resolution. One wonders if that is not itself intellectually lazy, not to mention irrational.

Editor’s Note: Gordon’s piece may be found online at: http://www.hlrecord.org/news/316905.html

Bush’s stem cell mistake

BY JACOB APPEL

Fifteen months have elapsed since President Bush called a halt to federal funding for research on new lines of pluripotent stem cells. That decision, which placed him squarely at odds with the majority of Americans and many of the most respected leaders in his own party, rested upon a highly misguided approach to the ethical questions involved. Subsequent developments in the availability of pre-existing stem cell lines have revealed that his decision rested upon several highly flawed factual assumptions as well.

At the time of the President’s decision, an ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll revealed that Americans supported federal funding for stem cell research by a margin of more than two-to-one. Supporters included not only traditional liberal constituencies, but also a majority of Roman Catholics and Evangelical white Protestants. Some of the nation’s staunchest opponents of abortion are among the strongest supporters of such research, including Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, Trent Lott of Mississippi, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Gordon Smith of Oregon, former Senator Connie Mack of Florida, former President Gerald Ford and former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

These prominent conservatives have joined the growing chorus of leading scientists who believe that research on pluripotent stem cells may hold the clues to curing such scourges as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and leukemia, and may help victims of spinal cord injuries to walk again. They also understand that these breakthroughs — if the appropriate research is properly funded — may be only a few years away. But most importantly, they recognize that stem cell research has nothing at all to do with the destruction of human life: Small cell clusters produced in petri dishes are not human being and they are not even potential human beings. Unless they are implanted in the wombs of women — and surely no one suggests conscripting women in which to implant them — they will remain small cell clusters indefinitely.

The President justified his halt to federal funding on the grounds that many pluripotent stem cell lines already existed and that these would be available to researchers. Yet of the 64 lines cited by the Bush Administration in August, 2001, fewer than ten are now available to the scientific community. Roger Pederson, a leading California-based investigator who has since taken his laboratory to England, points out that these lines were cultivated with mouse cells and are all but ineligible for transplantation to humans. In addition, even if these lines were all made widely available, even if all the challenges of keeping the fragile cells alive were surmounted and all the patent battles resolved in favor of expanded access, most researchers currently believe these 64 lines will not come close to satisfying the needs of medical science. In short, the President made his decision upon one set of facts. Since it now appears those facts are inaccurate, it would seem prudent to reexamine his decision.

Unfortunately, what should be a rather straightforward scientific matter has been clouded by a small group of vocal extremists. While we should certainly allow these individuals the right to wallow in their superstition and ignorance —much as in a free country we permit people to advocate a geocentric model of the universe and a flat earth — we should not let them impose either their scientific illiteracy or their moral bankruptcy upon the rest of us. Nor should we allow our president to succumb to their political pressure. This is especially the case when the cost in human lives and human suffering will be as painful as it is likely to be.

It is highly likely that the incoming Congress will vote on a measure to renew federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. You can substantially increase the chance of its passage by taking a moment to write to your senators and your member of Congress to urge them to take a passionate and public stand in favor of this life-saving research. The life you save may be your own or that of someone you love.

1L Experience: Course evaluations

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

I was excited to read in the Adviser last week that, “1Ls will be able to submit their elective course selections via the Web on Mon., Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. until Thurs., Nov. 21, at 12 p.m.” An elective! Exciting! So many choices! Unfortunately, all of them are about the law.

Having no idea what I want to take, my first reaction was to check the online Course Evaluation Guide and see what’s gotten good reviews in the past. The first evaluation I clicked on was very helpful: “Students generally liked [the professor]. Four students found him ‘clear.’ Other students said [he] was ‘not clear’ (4).” Very informative. Clearly, the Course Evaluation Guide has modeled itself after the Zagat’s Guide to Restaurants. The food was “good,” but “bad.” Service was “lightning-quick,” but “painfully slow.” I was “delighted,” but “poisoned.”

I read another review: “Comments [about the casebook] ranged from good, well-edited, and challenging, to fine, relevant… unclear, horrible, boring, unorganized, the ‘worst’, impenetrable, and too complex.” Ah, yes. The more adjectives, the better.

I was also disappointed at some of the math in the course reviews: “Twelve students commented that the casebook was bad and poorly edited (8).” But perhaps those course reviews were tabulated by the students referred to in another review: “As for prerequisites, one student recommended second-grade math, while another suggested fourth-grade algebra.” The course was Family Law. No, I’m kidding. But, seriously, did we really learn algebra in fourth grade? I thought fourth grade was when I learned how to tie my shoes. They must have attended a private school.

It was nice to see agreement about the value of course materials: “Students seemed to blame [the professor’s] power point presentations (11)… [a] significant number of students did find [the professor’s] power point presentations helpful (10).” In another review, “Some students stated that the casebook was ‘poorly edited,’ ‘poorly organized,’ and ‘not great.’ Other students found the book ‘good’ and ‘decent.’” Wonderful.

Some students apparently used their course reviews to show off their knowledge of obscure vocabulary words: “[o]ne student called the course ‘unnecessarily obfuscatory.’” In another review, “[o]ne student described [the professor] as ‘baroque in his formulation of the issues.’” Yet another student described a professor as a “pedagogical trainwreck.”

I was perhaps most amused by the following excerpt from a review: “[t]wo students declared that they would ‘love to have [the professor] as [their] grandfather.’ A minority dissented. They found him confusing, unable to bring students to the point, and grating.” Grandfatherly qualities indeed.

What was truly baffling about the course reviews was the lack of agreement regarding how the course was taught. Given the options — “Socratic, no passing,” “Socratic, passing allowed,” “Voluntary participation,” “Group/panel asked to prepare,” and “Lecture,” one would think it would be fairly easy to get a consensus from the reviews as to how each class is taught. But we are not so lucky.

For one class, 22 students said the class had voluntary participation, and 58 said a group was asked to prepare. Can there really be that much confusion between the two?

One of the more baffling splits was a full five-category spread — 10 for socratic, no passing, 41 for passing allowed, 17 for voluntary participation, 2 insisting a group was asked to prepare, and 37 selecting lecture. If you can’t even get this question right, how can you even think about passing the final exam? Odder still was a class that 99 students said was Socratic, no passing. Seems pretty clear. Yet two students said passing was allowed, two said it had voluntary participation, and one said it was a lecture. I don’t want any of those five students in my study group.

My favorite comment out of all of the reviews I looked at seemed truly out of left field: “Students felt that [the professor] should avoid bashing the South (3).” Not just one student — three! I guess that’s what you should expect when you take Emancipation Law. Or maybe they meant Langdell South. That would explain the hole in the wall.

The conclusion I draw from reading all of these course evaluations is that the evaluations need an evaluation of their own. Because while they’re “comprehensive” and “organized,” they’re also “contradictory,” “confusing,” and “utterly useless.” The proliferation of “quotation marks” makes them “difficult” to “read.” In “sum,” they’re “good,” “bad,” “long,” “short,” “clear,” “unclear,” “unnecessarily obfuscatory,” “baroque in their formulation of the issues,” and “grandfatherly.”

Maybe I’ll just cross-register.

Reconciling Person with Profession

BY TREVOR GARDNER

Every profession places a unique set of demands on the minds of its practioners. Law is no different. As students step away from the workplace or an undergraduate academic setting into the arena of legal education, they often undergo a significant cultural transition. The Office of Student Life Counseling seeks to ease this transition. Dr. Mark Byers, the director of the office, and his staff, work to provide psychological support services for normal developmental issues in the law school experience.

Byers maintains that legal practitioners must continually assess the interaction between the demands of the profession and the lawyer’s sense of self.

Byers said that from the start of law school, students must learn to situate themselves within the field according to the nature of their personality, beliefs and values. The reconciliation of the personal and the professional is a problem students regularly bring to the office.

“Law deals with social constructions and strives for a kind of objectivity that feels uncomfortable when you’re first exposed to it. It almost demands that you come to terms with your personal values and your other identifications in order to figure out where you fit in the profession,” Byers said.

However, Byers identifies the most common problem among HLS students as being the question of “competence and calling.” He said that when determining future careers, high achievers generally ask, ‘What am I good at, and what am I good for?’ The question, ‘What do I enjoy doing?’ is often secondary, if considered at all.

“A lot of [students’] decision making is based on the assumption of continued competence,” Byers said. “You sometimes talk to people who say that they had the option of going to Harvard Law School or a business school and they only got into one Harvard school, so that’s the one they went to. At a certain point you run out of being good at everything and you have to decide what it’s good to be.”

Byers has also worked closely with Prof. David Wilkins to help students think through the formulation of occupational identity as a third idenity, joining community and personal identities. Students often struggle with the challenge of orchestrating the three identities, and must determine whether they are committed to making the three co-exist. According to Byers, the students best able to negotiate these various identities are those who reflect regularly on their life experience.

“[Entering law school with] almost any other experience in life gives you binocular vision. It allows you to see [the law school experience] with two different sets of eyes. The more varied your experience in life, the more varied you’re going to view legal education, the more you’re going to want to reflect upon it.”

The Office of Student Life Counseling has introduced a number of services intended to encourage such reflection. One of the office’s more recent initiatives is an event series called, “Balance in Life and Law.” The series includes yoga workshops which run through Dec. 19, taught by Brenda Fingold, formerly of Hale and Dorr. Brenda worked as a partner in the litigation department for 17 years, and then as the firm’s partner responsible for training and development.

Byers, and the office’s two other counselors, Dr. Tracy Newburgh and Dr. Sheila Statlender, each offer an area of specialization within psychology that provides benefits to the HLS community beyond individual counseling sessions. Newburgh has worked with women’s groups at the law school, and focuses on issues of women in the law, multi-cultural settings and speaking phobias. She was instrumental in bringing Renee Myers, a diversity consultant and alumnus, to work with the Black Law Students Association in assessing the classroom experience of minorities at the Law School. Her collegue, Statlender, spends much of her time educating students about the work-family balance in law school and in the legal profession generally. She serves as staff liason for the HLS Parent at Law School (PALS) organization.

The most recent research on the legal profession confirms that the Office of Student Life Counseling is critical to serving the basic needs of the law school student community. Lawyers are said to be more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than other professionals, and suffer severe emotional distress over the course of a career.

Byers said that he has encountered a wide range of responses to the law school experience, few of them being mild. “[Research data] says to me that legal education is an extreme situation in a person’s life. It may be extremely gratifying or extremely frustrating, but it is a high-demand and difficult situation. People’s reactions are predictable and there is no point in pathologizing them. Much of the psychological distress goes with the turf and it isn’t a reflection on the students’ moralities, ethics or gumption. It’s a tough place.”

The Office of Student Life Counseling is located in Pound 309.

HL Central hopes to restart NYC bus

BY MIKE WISER

Students used to meet the
HLS-NYC bus in front of Pound Hall.

HL Central’s HLS-New York City bus was ultimately a victim of its own success. In the ten weeks the service ran, from January to March of this year, over 3,000 passengers made the four-hour coach trip from Cambridge to Manhattan. In the end, that very popularity led to noise complaints, competition from other operators, and problems with the city-licensing officials. Now, after months of no busses, HL Central says that it’s getting things worked out and hopes to have the service up and running before Thanksgiving.

An Instant Hit

The idea for a bus service, like HL Central itself, started in the head of T.J. Duane ‘02. While there were buses that ran from South Station to New York (and of course the famous “China Town Bus”), Duane felt that a lot of students at the Law School would take advantage of a more direct way of getting to New York. While he’d been thinking about the service for years, Duane finally decided to make it happen after September 11.

“I really started to move on the idea after 9/11, when it seemed like there was a more pressing need/desire to go to New York,” Duane explained. He now works for a law firm in New York City, but maintains some ties to the organization.

To make the service happen, HL Central approached a number of bus companies about the possible service, including Entertainment Tours, Greyhound and Peter Pan Tours. While some of the companies were skeptical, Entertainment decided to give it a try. HL Central was to advertise the service, while Entertainment would run a $20 per way route catering to weekend commuters from the Law School to New York City.

Neither Duane nor Entertainment could have imagined how popular the service would be. What started as a weekend service with a few buses per weekend proved to be so popular that Entertainment and HL Central decided to expand it to a seven day a week service with three buses running daily in each direction. Entertainment Tours even replicated the idea at Northeastern University and Boston University after the HLS route proved so successful.

Karen Abravanel, a 3L, who rode the bus a number of times and has worked to help HL Central revive the service, told The RECORD that she was happy with the service. “It’s comfortable, convenient, and relatively quick. The driver usually shows a movie, which helps to pass the time,” she said.

The Problems of Success

Convenience led to success and success led to competition. Initially skeptical, Greyhound and Peter Pan decided it was time to get in on the act, and were soon offering a competing service that ran on basically the same schedule and picked up passengers at the same location.

“I was very disappointed to see the Peter Pan/Greyhound service on campus — mainly because they were unwilling to do it until they saw how successful it could be, but then tried to jump on board by just pulling their own bus behind the one we arranged to have there at the exact same times,” Duane said.

With as many as six buses pulling up daily in front of Pound Hall for just Entertainment’s route, neighbors began to wonder whether HLS was turning into another South Station.

“There were complaints in the community about noise levels being too high. The buses were waiting about six in the morning to get the first shipment of people in for morning traffic into New York. Neighbors were complaining there were big buses,” Dave Flechner, a member of HL Central who is dealing with the bus issue, told The RECORD.

It didn’t take long for complaints from tired neighbors to the City Council to reach to Cambridge Licensing Commission, which sent out a police officer to warn the coach operators that by picking up passengers on a public street without a city license they could be cited. And with that, all of the New York-HLS services ended.

Flechner explains that the original plan was for the buses to stop on Jarvis Street (behind Pound Hall), but that many of the drivers found the maneuvering to be too difficult and they began to stop on Massachusetts Avenue. He also says it was the Greyhound and Peter Pan buses that were the main noise culprits.

Whatever the cause, a meeting of the Commission (at which Duane spoke) confirmed that the operators would need a license to continue to operate on Mass Ave. And as Flechner explained, “Cambridge doesn’t like to give licenses very freely.”

A New Plan

At the end of May, with the service ended, HL Central began the long process of searching for a location on the University’s private property where the buses to stop without a Cambridge license. But navigating the school’s bureaucracy is never easy, and it is certainly never quick, as Flechner and HL Central soon discovered. However, Flechner is hopeful that a solution is near and the service be back in operation in the next few weeks, possibly before Thanksgiving or next week’s Harvard/Yale game.

The plan is currently for the service to operate of out a driveway near Memorial Hall. All that is needed is approval from Harvard’s transportation office. As a backup, Entertainment may try to use the University-owned Jarvis Street again (this time not stopping on Mass Ave.), but some administrators are wary about upsetting neighbors again with complaints about noise.

Plan C? There isn’t one, but Flechner says HL Central is doing its best to get the popular service back.

Law Review holds annual Supreme Court Forum

BY TIFFANY BENJAMIN

hlrspeaker1.jpg

Amid cameras and a sea of security, Aharon Barak, Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, and Harvard Law School Prof. Charles Fried discussed their contributions to the November issue of the Harvard Law Review Monday evening.

The annual Law Review Supreme Court Forum is held to commemorate the first Law Review issue of the year, which is the Supreme Court edition. Prof. Elena Kagan moderated the forum, in which students and faculty filled Austin North to capacity and spilled over into other rooms.

Barak’s comments focused on his foreword, “A Judge on Judging: The Role of a Supreme Court in a Democracy” in the current Law Review issue.

“If I am asked, ‘What is your role as a judge on a supreme court?’ my answer is not, ‘My role is to adjudicate.’ Clearly, my role is to adjudicate. But that is only the beginning of that because I think that the answer, ‘My role is to adjudicate’ is not enough,” said Barak.

“What is my role as a judge in a democracy?” he asked, “One is to bridge the gap between law and life — to bridge the gap between law and society — and the other one is to protect democracy.”

Barak stated that his judicial philosophy focused on allowing judges to show discretion. He advocated a broad scope of judicial review, including judicial oversight of impeachment proceedings. He claimed that, “America is obsessed with original intent” and that other democracies and jurists throughout the world put much less emphasis on the concept. He noted that, for him, interpretation of the law was key to judicial review.

“For me, democracy is not just legislative supremacy. For me, democracy is not just rule,” Barak said. “For me, democracy has a deeper meaning, a deeper understanding. There is a morality behind the need for democracy. Democracy means supremacy of values, supremacy of some ideas.”

Barak added that in matters of law, there was not one basic value or idea that was correct.

“I never claim to express truth,” he said. “I do claim to express something that is legitimate in a democratic system and something that is better than other options. I have no claim to the truth. I also have no claim to comprehensiveness. Human beings are too complicated and human relationships are too complicated to be able to represent only one truth.”

Of his judicial philosophy, Barak said “I may be right, I may be wrong, but I am consistent.”

Fried discussed his faculty comment on Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, focusing on the importance of dissent. Fried attempted to link his faculty comment on the role of the dissenting judge in the court to Barak’s statements on the role of judges as a whole.

Fried’s comments focused on how judges use their power of discretion when they do not have clear precedent on how to decide a case. “The time comes where the text and the history and the customs simply give out and you do what is correct,” said Fried.

Speakers deconstruct prison-industrial complex

BY KRISTEN NELSON

Former prisoner Michael Bonds, now Operations Director of BLACKOUTBoston Arts Collective, spoke about his difficult time in prison.

Although there are as many as six million of them in the United States, prisoners and the system in which they exist often seem invisible to the American public. At an event intended to shed light on this frequently overlooked topic, students gathered on Tuesday night to hear an accomplished panel of three discuss race, class, gender and the prison-industrial complex.

The panel was co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association and the American Constitutional Society, and featured Clinical Instructor Soffiyah Elijah of the Criminal Justice Institute, Prof. Margo Schlanger, and former prisoner Michael Bonds, Operations Director of BLACKOUTBoston Arts Coll-ective, a group of artists and activists that seek to empower communities of color through art, education and activism.

Discussion focused on the size, scope and demographics of the American prison population, the changing landscape of prison litigation, and possible alternatives and reform movements.

Schlanger began the evening with a graph demonstrating the exponential increase in the American prison population over the past 20 years. She said that though the growth of the American prison population reached a plateau in the last couple of years, the prison population quadrupled between 1980 and 2000, while the general American population increased by only a quarter. At the end of last year, federal correctional facilities were operating at 131 percent of capacity and state facilities were at close to 100 percent.

Elijah estimated that there are currently more than 6.6 million people under some form of correctional supervision in the United States — more than the populations of many countries. The United States currently boasts the world’s highest rate of incarceration: While only comprising 5 percent of the world’s population, it accounts for 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

Elijah said the majority of prisoners are young, poor and non-white. Sixty-two percent of the nation’s prison population serving one year or more is African-American or Latino, and ten percent of black men between the ages of twenty-five and twenty-nine are incarcerated. In addition, women are one of the fastest growing segments of the prison population. Since 1995, the American female prison population has increased 36 percent — 75 percent of whom are in their child-bearing and rearing years.

Elijah noted the profundity of the implications of these statistics for families. The majority of state and federal prisoners have at least one child under the age of eighteen. Seventy percent of state-incarcerated parents do not have high school diplomas and half of them are black. In addition, the majority of American prisoners are housed in correctional facilities over 100 miles from their home communities. Such placements make it difficult for families to visit or even call, due to exorbitant rates charged to prisoners for phone calls.

In addition, added Schlanger, prisoners’ home communities are no longer able to count the displaced for census purposes. Instead, though most cannot vote while incarcerated, prisoners are counted in population tallies for the communities in which they are housed, which are often predominantly white or segregated.

While the effects of the burgeoning U.S. prison population are somewhat tangible and undoubtedly disheartening, the causes are a bit more elusive. Schlanger and Elijah cited a variety of contributing factors, including the profitability of the prison industry, harsh sentencing laws and unequivocal racism.

“Prison is a multi-billion dollar industry,” Elijah said. “Someone is making a dollar off of everything you can think of that is attached to running a prison.” She pointed to the growing trend towards privatizing prisons as another indicator that incarceration is lucrative. In turn, this drives campaign contributions, with the end result that “legislators think the best solution is to lock people up and throw away the key.”

“Three-strikes” legislation and truth in sentencing laws may also be to blame. In many states, as well as the federal system, prisoners are now required to serve 85 percent of their sentence before they can be considered for release. Many states have also abolished discretionary parole. In addition, Elijah cited the increased use of federal conspiracy charges in drug cases, which carry longer prison sentences.

Finally, Schlanger and Elijah both pointed to racism at the heart of incarceration. “If there were a bunch of white kids facing five years in prison for drug charges, the drug laws would get changed,” Schlanger said. Elijah noted that minorities also engage in types of crime that are more frequently policed. For example, they may use drugs in more public spaces than whites in affluent areas, and as a consequence are more frequently detected and arrested.

The two also noted the disparities in sentencing lengths for possession of crack versus cocaine, which is used more by middle and upper class whites. In sentencing terms, possession of one gram of crack is equivalent to possessing 20 grams of cocaine, a ratio Schlanger called “outrageous.”

While the incarcerated population grows and prisons and jails exceed capacity, it has also become increasingly difficult to litigate against the correctional system. According to Schlanger, the 1996 passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) completely altered the litigation landscape for prisoners.

“In 1995, damages actions against prisons were 15 percent of the federal docket,” she said. “Prison litigation is now down 45 percent as a result of the PLRA.” The act, one plank of Republicans’ Contract with America, restricts attorneys’ fees, requires inmates to pay filing fees regardless of indigency, prevents prisoners from filing answers unless judges determine their suits to be non-frivolous and places strict restrictions on recovery.

In effect, the PLRA forced lawyers into defensive mode, Schlanger said. Post-PLRA, any existing injunctive decree against a prison was terminable on a motion by the defendant, unless attorneys could re-prove that the decree was needed.

While Schlanger and Elijiah focused on the larger implications of the prison-industrial complex, Bond spoke of his personal experiences with the criminal justice system, including eight years spent behind bars, a sentence he began serving only months after his daughter was born. He described dehumanizing conditions at the “super-max” prison in which he spent the last few years of his sentence, including enduring 25 months on 23-hour lock-up and finding eggshells and paint chips in his food.


Despite these experiences, upon release, Bond “refuse[d] to become a recidivist.” Although he has encountered difficulties finding and maintaining a job in part due to the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system that makes his ex-prisoner status available to employers, he has gotten his vendor’s license, started a small business and writes poetry on the side.

Panelists fielded questions on topics ranging from the economics of the prison industry to the shift in strategy in prison litigation. When asked about possible solutions to the problem of the burgeoning prison population, Elijiah and Schlanger both noted the importance of bringing the issue to the attention of the American public. “The overwhelming majority of the nation’s population is not aware of what is going on with prisons,” Elijiah said.

Vino & Veritas

BY JUSTIN DILLON

Columnist’s note: This column cannot reasonably be construed to incite a race riot. If you’re a 1L, feel free to keep reading.

This column is about Bordeaux, a region in France that makes what some people (like myself) consider the best wines in the world. In fact, the best wine I’ve ever had was a 1982 Chateau Talbot, which had a nose so big it made my head snap back. (You can imagine how fun I am to drink with.)

The problem with Bordeaux, however, is that it’s in France, which means the names of the wines are in French, which means that they can be very hard to remember. Compare, for example, the names of some of the best-known American wines – such as Silver Oak, Beringer and Screaming Eagle – with the names of some of the best-known Bordeaux wines – such as Talbot, Margaux, and Mouton Rothschild (and don’t get me started on things like Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande).

The problem, for non-French-speaking ignoramuses (ignorameaux?) like me, is that most of the wines are just named after dead French people you’ve never heard of, so they’re not as visual as, say, Silver Oak or Screaming Eagle (both of which come in highly distinctive bottles, unlike many Bordeaux, which often have nothing but the name of the wine in hard-to-read cursive on the front). All of which can make French wines, and Bordeaux in particular – with its “I know I’ve heard of it but I have no idea what it is” allure – somewhat intimidating.

Hence this column – a quick and dirty guide to help you know what questions to ask next time you’re looking for Bordeaux in a restaurant or wine store.

The dominant grape in most red Bordeaux is either Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. (White Bordeaux, which is very good but not one of the world’s great whites, is usually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.) Most of the wines also have other grapes blended in – so you could have, say, a wine that’s 70 percent Cabernet, 20 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc.

The first thing to figure out when ordering Bordeaux, then, is whether you want something that’s going to be softer and Merlot-dominated, or brawnier and Cabernet-dominated. (Keep in mind that these are rough distinctions.)

If you want something that’s Cabernet-based, ask for something from the Left Bank, which includes the Médoc, Haut-Médoc (which in turn includes, pause for breath, St. Estèphe, Paulliac, St. Julien and Margaux), Graves and Pessac-Léognan.

If you want something Merlot-based, ask for wines from the Right Bank regions of St. Emilion or Pomerol. Remember that be-cause Merlot is softer and somewhat more approachable than Cabernet, Merlot-based wines might be a safer bet if you’re relatively new to wine.

And if, as is likely, you remember none of these names after you finish reading this column, just remember to ask your waiter about which ones are Merlot-dominated and which ones are Cabernet-dominated. Even that will help him guide you to something you’ll like.

Because this is only a rough guide to Bordeaux, the only other factoid I’ll burden you with is a list of vintages to look out for (or stay away from). Because Bordeaux is divided into different regions, the vintages tend to be region-specific, but overall, 1991 and 1992 were terrible, 1999, 1995 and 1989 were very good, and 1982 and 1990 were stellar.

And then there’s 2000, which wine guru Robert Parker recently called “the greatest vintage Bordeaux has ever produced.” If you see a 2000, odds are it’s very good. Odds are also that it’s not yet ready to drink, so ask whoever you’re buying it from when it’s supposed to mature. Parker said that one of the vintage’s stars, Chateau Ausone, will be ready to drink between 2020 and 2075. If you’re old enough to buy wine today, the Ausone will probably outlive you.

Before turning to the tasting notes, I’d like to put in a plug for the legendary Rakoff/Wilkins dinner, which will once again be auctioned off at tonight’s Public Interest Auction. Seven friends and I finally had our dinner this past Sunday, and it was exquisite.

Dean Rakoff led the multi-course cooking efforts, the highlights of which were his homemade potato bread with caraway seeds, pasta with mango-curry sauce and a dessert so good I literally moaned (albeit quietly). And Professor Wilkins brought up from his 4,000-bottle cellar a different and excellent wine with every course, including a 1985 Guigal Cote Rotie, a 1985 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Rabaja, and a 1990 Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos St. Urban Rangen de Thann. (Got all that?) Add in the fact that Rakoff and Wilkins – neither of whom I knew at all – are warm, gregarious hosts, and it made for a terrific dinner.

I won’t tell you how much we bid, but suffice it to say that if you want to win this thing and you’re working for a firm next summer, think in terms of a day’s salary per person. (Hint to 1Ls: the only way to win the good items is to plan ahead. I found that out the hard way when I lost this dinner my 1L year to some better-prepared 2Ls.) A day’s salary may sound like a lot of money, but it goes to the great cause of helping your public-service-minded classmates defend murderers and make the world safe for trees.

Tasting notes:

(I bought all of the following wines at Marty’s.)

For this column, I bought two Bordeaux from the Right Bank and two from the Left Bank. First the Right Bank. The star of the evening was the Chateau D’Aiguilhe Cotes de Castillon 1998 ($22.99-and see what I mean about hard-to-remember names?), which was just a striking and complex powerhouse of a wine. Huge, cassis-like fruit combined with overtones of tobacco and a finish of dark chocolate made this a hedonist’s delight. As the wine developed in the glass, I also began to detect hints of asphalt and clove. Had I given it more time instead of going after it like a seventeen-year-old on prom night, I’m sure I would have noticed even more.

Also very good, but tighter and more challenging, was the Chateau Bel Rose Lalande de Pomerol ($16.99); not quite as ready to drink, it had terrific cigar box overtones and an earthy, chocolately finish. The fruit was there, but it was more buried than its predecessor’s.For the Left Bank wines, I braved the 2000 vintage-and I say “braved” because of the low odds that these wines would be ready to drink. Both were good, but both did, in fact, need more bottle time-even after being decanted in the morning and open all day. The Les Cavaliers du Hâ Haut Medoc 2000 ($10.99) did finally peek out a little, with some cherry-raspberry fruit amid the tight tobacco. And the Chateau Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes ($12.99) also quite tight, tasted of dark fruits and cigar boxes. My guess is that in three or four years, these wines will taste two or three times as expensive as they are, so if you’re willing to be patient, buy a few and try them out.

Finally, two excellent wines that are not from France: The Barnett Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 1998 ($26.99), from California, was a knockout. Made in the bold California style, it has concentrated cherry fruit and overtones of cola and coffee; it paired perfectly with roasted salmon. And leaping to Italy, the Grimaldi Giacomo Dolcetto d’Alba 1999 ($14.99) had a fruit-bomb nose and Dolcetto’s characteristically earthy, plummy flavors, as well as a focused, cassis-like sweetness that made it almost impossible to put down.