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The problem of the super PAC
Newt Gingrich won huge
in South Carolina. Despite
twice being declared dead,
Gingrich is now close
to solidifying himself as
the "true" conservative
alternative to Mitt Romney.
Gingrich's comeback has
been funded through one
Supreme Court decision
and one giant check.
Throughout this race, his campaign has shown the power
of the political action committee.
The Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission, put most simply, allowed
for the creation of super PACs that can collect unlimited
amounts of money. These super PACs, as long as they do
not coordinate with candidates, can spend this money on
political advertisements without disclosing their donors.
On Jan. 8, Newt Gingrich's super PAC, Winning Our
Future, received $5 million from Dr. Miriam Adelson, wife
of casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. This money kept an
ailing Gingrich in the race for the South Carolina primary,
which he would later go on to win. Before South Carolina,
Gingrich had been far from frontrunner status. Early on,
his whole staff quit, and an onslaught of ads by Romney's
super PAC, Restore Our Future, hurt Gingrich in the two
Luckily for Gingrich, he was not as quick to leave a sick
campaign as he was a sick wife.
Before Citizens United, Gingrich would have likely
been forced to drop out. Now, some billionaire can single-
handedly finance the comeback of this former Speaker of
the House with a $5 million check.
The super PAC laws saved Gingrich's campaign. Many
have complained about the unchecked power of the
super PAC, most notably Stephen Colbert. Through the
creation of his own super PAC Americans for a Better
Tomorrow, Tomorrow — Colbert has raised awareness of
campaign finance issues with a sarcastic abuse of power.
Currently exploring a run himself, Colbert has given
control of his PAC to colleague Jon Stewart. In turn, he
has shown the careful way in which politicians are able to
collaborate without breaking laws.
"My staff did not make that ad," said Colbert, speaking
about his PAC's ads. "Jon Stewart's staff made that ad.
And they happen to be the same staff that used to work
for me on my super PAC. But legally,- Jon can hire them
away from my staff and they can work in my building
with other members of my staff, who are working on my
exploratory committee — but we keep them separate."
As a practical matter, this all seems wrong. A single
person gave $5 million and took control of the Gingrich
campaign. What if Adelson asked a favor of "President"
Gingrich? It seems wrong that politicians can slyly,
without coordinating with candidates, gain unlimited
cash for campaign ads. The problem is Qtizens United
was not wrong, even though it feels that way. I want it to
be wrong, but constitutionally it is likely accurate. There
should be more transparency, more regulation, maybe
even a constitutional amendment, but right now we
cannot constitutionally defend limiting speech in terms of
money contributed to political advertisements.
The initial problem of the super PAG is that it allows for
a horrible perversion of serious public policy problems by
the overwhelming power of money. TTie bigger problem
may be that constitutionally and ideologicdly, it is hard
for us to restrict free speech and say, "No, you cannot use
your money to advance your political beliefs."
Citizens United interpreted first amendment law
correctly. The true problem is that the Constitution may
be wrong on this matter.
Stop racism in the justice system
By Tiffany Kallam
I have always felt an intense drive
to pursue avenues to help others who
have been affected by societal and
legal injustices. Even more recently,
I have been focused and confident
in my future abilities to adamantly
advocate for others.
This previous semester, beginning
in September — while sitting in court
on another day, for another hour, in
another week of working as an intern
with a defense attorney — emotional
fatigue captured and ravaged me
like a hopeless bystander witnessing,
yet with little ability to contest, the
blatant, unjust atrocities that are so
engrained in our American system
Throughout the months, I sat in
the courtroom as the hours passed,
observing that the majority of men
on trial or charged were African
American or Latino and poor. The
majority of the attorneys, judges, or
bailiffs are white men who exude
a mannerism suggesting that they
have the world on a string.
A tree twisted and gnarled at
the very roots, the justice system
grows from the earth to the branches
that reach up towards the heavens
insincerely seeking forgiveness. It
has' deeply trdubled'Tfle'to see'SO'
many exhibit a silent complacency
It has been extremely difficult
to see so many men cry with their
lawyers patting them on the back and
assuring them that everything will be
okay. These same lawyers rush off to
expensive lunches to shoot the bull
and enjoy the fruits of that twisted
tree of justice while their clients sit
on the curb, waiting for the bus, or
sit in a cold cell waiting for their one
phone call to tell their family that the
money wasn't enough.
Being black or Latino or poor
constitutes a different definition of
equality, justice and freedom; the
weight of the shackles that have
never been removed tips the scale
of justice towards a "lighter" shaded
definition of justice.
I completed my time with the
internship this semester and my
observations of the people within
the system were intertwined with
frustration, rage, and sadness.
There were days I left court in tears
and I would drive home or back to
campus crying for these persons and
The more I cried, the angrier I
became. I knew my tears wouldn't
make things better or change
outcomes for these people. I would
leave court feeling so conflicted.
I knew that I needed the hurt
and the heartache as motivation to
continually find ways to help fight
the inequalities and injustices within
our complicated system, but I knew
as well that tears dry and fade and
in the end will not help change our
It has been evident to me that
the symbolism of these injustices is
pervasive within our culture. It is that
which is symbolically represented
as the iconic figure of our justice
system. The woman, cast in stone
with turned cheek and blinded eye.
firmly lifting a scale representing
an eternal duty to justice is a facade
that merely portrays a utopian
and idealistic view of equality and
Upon closer examination, the
woman is actually heavy with
burden and her back is bending. She
is stone because she is hardened by
the continual practices of injustices
towards citizens of her beloved
country. Her cheek is turned and
her eyes are blindfolded because she
is ashamed to see the prejudice and
contradictions within a system she
Her face is solemn because she
knows that within her symbolic
"freedom," "equality" and "justice,"
her scale tips towards the lighter and
whiter side of right.
As citizens within this system,
it is imperative that we perform
our duty to liberate ourselves
from fear and silence, to advocate
for our fellow human beings. It
is imperative that we fight the
debilitating ugliness of injustice
and bias, whether the injustice and
bias be conscious or unconscious,
to lift ourselves towards a strong,
cohesive and mutually respectable
community. It is imperative to
question ourselves and each other on
our own prejudices and demand that
the covenant of silence that obscures
and deflects these faults be broken
and reconstructed through efforts
and policies of visionary equality
As a colleague of mine
resoundingly stated, "It's time to ask
ourselves 'Where's the outrage?"'
FDA connections should not affect women's health
while we have a
responsibility for our
health. I'm left wondering
if possible corruption
within the drug industry
often prevents us from
being well enough
informed to begin to carry
out this responsibility.
At Guilford College,
it is said that nearly 50 percent of Guilford's female
population take some form of birth control. Thanks to the
drug companies, that could be a major problem.
Little did anyone know that, less than a month after
eighteen-year-old Michelle Pfleger left her home to be a
freshman at Elon University in 2010, she would collapse
Pfleger, whose physical health was no different than
many on our campus, died from a massive blood clot after
taking Yaz, a birth control pill, to treat her acne.
After independent studies showed Yaz to have a higher
blood-clotting risk than similar products, an FDA advisory
committee convened to decide whether these studies
justified taking Yaz off the market.
What wasn't publicly disclosed until recently was that
four of the panel members held ties to Bayer, either as paid
consultants or in the form of research funding.
The American public needed to know that a potential
bias existed. The recent actions of the FDA seem to lean
more towards corporate bias than concern for women's
The FDA did not follow its own protocol to disclose those
corporate ties to the other committee members who voted
15 to 11, saying the benefits of Yaz outweighed its risks.
Meanwldle, the FDA outright barred the voting power
of one panel member, who has been in the medical field for
40 years and does not receive funding from pharmaceutical
The FDA claimed that Sidney Wolfe, who co-founded the
Health Research Group with Ralph Nader in 1971, had an
Wolfe told The Guilfordian in a phone interview that
he was barred from voting because he said the drug was
unsafe in a newsletter his organization circulates.
"Essentially, the FDA said I had a conflict because I had
an opinion," said Wolfe. "As a researcher working in the
field, of course I'm going to have an opinion — every expert
in the field has a well-informed position."
It borders on corruption when the FDA is willing to
accept the votes of financially interested parties, while
disqualifying a phpician for offering a highly qualified,
Keeping Yaz on the market shows that Bayer thinks it is
okay if some people occasionally sicken or die from one of
Bayer is making a staggering $2 billion a year in sales
from Yaz. This shows that tlie company has a vested interest
in keeping it on the market.
Anything short of finding unbiased panel members to
vote on FDA committees is a crime against students, families
and the American public who trust the FDA acts on its due
diligence instead of appeasing corporate interests. Sadly,
it looks like that this corrupted system of appeasement is
precisely what has happened here. ,