TIME curiosities

Partying Politics: LIFE Goes to a Republican Women’s Bacchanal

Recalling the night when the Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Conn., discovered the pleasures of tobacco, poker … and strip tease

“On the evening of May 20,” begins an article in the June 16, 1941, issue of LIFE magazine, “members of the Young Women’s Republican Club of Milford, Conn., explored the pleasures of tobacco, poker, the strip tease and such other masculine enjoyments as had frequently cost them the evening companionship of husbands, sons and brothers.”

Thus the storied weekly and photographer Nina Leen chronicled the shenanigans that erupted when a group of GOP women got together for an old-fashioned “smoker” (noun: an informal social gathering for men only) on one long, memorable night in southern New England.

[See more from LIFE]

TIME faith

Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Tear Us Apart

US-POLITICS-IMMIGRATION-OBAMA
President Barack Obama meets with business leaders on immigration reform on June 24, 2013 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN—AFP/Getty Images

Russell Moore is President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Acting unilaterally threatens an emerging consensus

I disagree with President Barack Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration policy. I am for immigration reform, for all sorts of reasons that I have outlined elsewhere. The system we have is incoherent and unjust. I have worked hard to try to see the system changed, and will continue to do so. It’s because of my support for immigrants and for immigration reform that I think President Obama’s executive actions are the wrong way to go.

On more than one occasion, I asked President Obama not to turn immigration reform into a red state/blue state issue. People across the political spectrum support fixing this system, and it shouldn’t be a partisan wedge issue. I also asked him not to act unilaterally, but to work for consensus through the legislative process. To his credit, he did just that for a long while, and the Republican Congress took no action. He also told me, and others, that his patience was not endless on this.

Now the President says that he is out of patience and that he will use executive authority to achieve some of the goals of immigration reform. We can debate whether the President has the authority to undertake these actions unilaterally, but, regardless, this is an unwise and counterproductive move.

Yes, the Republican House has done nothing—up to this point. I am as frustrated with that as anyone. But as we all know, there is a new reality in Washington, with Republicans now the majority in both houses of Congress. The Republicans have said that they want to demonstrate that they can govern, and that they want to find areas where they can work together with the White House. Why not give them the opportunity to do so?

Over the past several years, a remarkable consensus has emerged on immigration reform, uniting the left, right and center. I am often in meetings in which those of us at the table can agree on almost literally nothing else. The business community, agriculture, law enforcement, religious constituencies and immigrant advocacy groups have come to this question with unique but overlapping points of concern. There are few Americans who think the system works as it is, and there is little support for deporting 11 million people from this country. This consensus is one to cultivate, not to tear apart.

Acting unilaterally threatens that consensus, and is the wrong thing to do. Even those who support broad executive action (including many friends of mine) acknowledge that the actions won’t solve the problem, only a legislative solution will. My hope is that the Republicans in Congress will not allow the President’s actions here to be a pretext for remaning in the rut of the status quo. Too many people are harmed by this broken system, many of them our brothers and sisters in Christ. The lives of immigrant families, made in the image of God, are too important for political gamesmanship.

More importantly, I pray that our churches will transcend all of this posing and maneuvering that we see in Washington. Whatever our agreements and disagreements on immigration policy, we as the Body of Christ are those who see every human life as reflecting the image of God. Immigrant communities are a great blessing not only to this country, but to our churches. Many of the most anointed churches in evangelism and ministry are led by immigrants to this country.

Whatever our political disagreements, we ought to continue to stand with them, and to see to it that the immigrants among us are welcomed and loved. Whatever happens in the White House, our churches must press on with ministry and mission.

Russell Moore is President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral concerns and public policy entity of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. Prior to his election in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught theology and ethics. Moore is the author of several books, includingAdopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches and Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ. A native Mississippian, he and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

Tackling Immigration Alone

Joe Klein is TIME's political columnist and author of six books, most recently Politics Lost. His weekly TIME column, "In the Arena," covers national and international affairs.

The President has good reason to bypass Congress. But he’ll pay a price

Can the president of the United States, wielding a magic pen, simply exempt approximately 5 million illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation? You bet he can. He has the power to set law-enforcement priorities. In 2012, Barack Obama ordered that children brought across the border by their parents and raised in the U.S.–the so-called Dream Generation–should not be targeted for deportation. He can expand that ruling to their parents and others. Both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush took similar actions on a smaller scale. The question is, why on earth would the President want to do it now, after the disastrous election of 2014? Newly minted Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said it would be like “waving a red flag in front of a bull,” which may have been more artful than literal. McConnell also said that he wouldn’t shut down the government (nor will the Republican leadership move toward impeachment). The President may have simply calculated that signing his executive actions would be more like waving a tissue in front of a goat.

It is not impossible that Obama is playing some hard-nosed politics here, even if his primary motivation is soft-nosed and idealistic. It is simple humanitarian justice not to separate families by deporting the parents of the Dream Generation. If John Boehner had brought last year’s bipartisan Senate immigration bill to a vote in the House, the situation might have been happily resolved. “But it’s like waiting for a bus that never comes,” says David Axelrod, a former Obama aide. The Republican definition of immigration reform is unacceptable to most Democrats. It consists of more money for border security and a fast track for skilled foreigners who want to immigrate; it does not include a path to legality for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here. Obama no doubt calculated that negotiations with the GOP on this issue were futile. On top of that, the President may not be too pleased with the members of his inner circle who told him to delay his executive actions last summer for “political” reasons, as he so awkwardly put it–that is, to save some Democratic Senate candidates who ultimately could not be saved. This President does not like to come off as tawdry or political. A quick executive move now is a way to rectify the games he’s played with Latinos.

But it also may be effective politics. In the long term, every time the Republicans start screaming and stomping about illegal Mexicans, it cements the Latino relationship with the Democratic Party, a demographic boon. There will certainly be a lot of screaming when Obama goes ahead with his plan–and then we will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, a traditionally fallow political period, and the immigration issue will be ancient history by the time McConnell convenes his Republican-majority Senate in January. Hence, another calculation: Despite the immigration order, the Republicans will still want to do business with the President. They will want to demonstrate that gridlock was all Harry Reid’s fault. The Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016 will need some bacon to bring home. There are trade bills that Republicans will certainly want to pass, and infrastructure bills, and perhaps even some tax reform. Obama will share the credit for those middling triumphs, and he’ll seem tough besides, having blasted through the “red flag” and gotten stuff done.

But there will be consequences. By moving ahead with the immigration plan, Obama sacrifices any leeway he might have had with Republicans on a range of more difficult issues. He was going to have a tough time selling an Iran nuclear deal–if there is such a deal–to Congress, but it could become impossible now. There will be all sorts of Obamacare challenges, some of which might have been avoided if the President had not pierced the illusion of comity. Democrats will argue that Obama was played for a sucker every time he anticipated the possibility of Republican compromise, and there is a lot to that. But that may well have been the last war. The coming legislative battles could be more subtle and pliable.

“He may be trying to goad us into doing something stupid” like shutting down the government or moving toward impeachment, says Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander. “But that’s not going to happen.” Indeed, Republicans have been talking in more surgical fiscal terms–defunding specific programs, like those that would implement the executive actions, rather than a wholesale shutdown. Worse, Obama’s immigration actions, noble as they might be, fly in the face of the national mood. At a moment when the public desperately wants some sort of reconciliation, he is sticking a finger in McConnell’s eye. After playing the reasonable grownup for the first six years of his presidency, he is giving up the high ground.

TO READ JOE’S BLOG POSTS, GO TO time.com/swampland

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

A Constitutional Moment

The Founding Fathers were clear about who sets immigration policy

The coming clash between President Obama and Congress over immigration promises to light up what I like to call a constitutional moment. This is a moment in which our politics are so divided that we have scraped away the soil of legislation and are fighting on American bedrock. Rarely has it shone more clearly than in respect of who has the power to decide who can come here and be naturalized as a citizen.

This is one of the reasons we seceded from Great Britain. King George III had been interfering with immigration to the colonies. It was one of the complaints enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. The British tyrant, the Americans declared, had endeavored “to prevent the Population of these States.” For that purpose, they said, George III had been not only “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners” but also “refusing” laws “to encourage their Migrations hither.”

The articles of confederation that first bound the newly independent states failed to solve this problem. Each state set its own policy on naturalization, with the potential for chaos. Hence the founders, who gathered in 1787 in Philadelphia to write the Constitution, granted to Congress the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” They could have granted this to the President or left it to the states, but they assigned it instead to Congress.

So Obama, in threatening to act on his own, is playing with constitutional fire. It’s not that I object to his liberality on immigration. On the contrary, for years I was part of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. It reckons that it would be illogical to stand for the free movement of trade and capital absent the free movement of labor. It once called for a constitutional amendment saying “there shall be open borders.”

That is based on the idea of human capital, the notion that in a system of democratic capitalism people have an incentive to produce more than they themselves consume. This system discovers that more people lead to a richer society for all. In my generation, this point animated the campaign for America to take in the boat people escaping Vietnam after the communist conquest. What a windfall they turned out to be.

I have also long plumped for a merger of pro-immigration activists and pro-life conservatives. A movement that cherishes pro-life principles contradicts itself when it emerges against immigration. Better to press consistently for the idea that more people are better, particularly in a country as underpopulated as the U.S., which ranks near the bottom of the world’s nations in population density.

All that, though, is trumped by the constitution. It not only seats naturalization power in Congress but also gives it almost total sway. The founders discussed adding language relating to how long someone must reside in America before becoming a citizen. In the end they required of Congress only that its rule be “uniform.” They didn’t want the states feuding over this and setting competing policies. They wanted a united front to the world.

Nor, the record suggests, did they want the President setting policies on immigration and naturalization. There may be talk about Obama having presidential “discretion” in enforcing immigration laws, but the record of the Constitutional Convention makes clear where the founders wanted discretion to lie. “The right of determining the rule of naturalization will then leave a discretion to the legislature,” James Madison quotes Alexander Hamilton as saying.

Madison followed by remarking that he “wished to maintain the character of liberality” that had been “professed” throughout the states. He was not for open immigration. He “wished to invite foreigners of merit and republican principles among us.” He noted that “America was indebted to emigration for her settlement and prosperity” and added, “That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture, and the arts.”

The Founding Fathers were not naive. They worried plenty about intrigue by what Madison, at one point, called “men with foreign predilections” who might “obtain appointments” or even seek public office. One can imagine that they would be horrified by the loss of control of the southern border, the lawlessness, the abuse of welfare and the scent of rebellion north of the Rio Grande. But the founders also feared a King–or a President who acted like one. They wanted the question of immigration settled by Congress and wrote an impeachment clause that glints in the fray.

Lipsky is the editor of the New York Sun

SOURCE: The Writings of James Madison, Volume IV

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

The Politics of the Keystone XL Pipeline in 3 Stories

House Votes On Full Passage Of Keystone Pipeline
Members walk down the steps of the House side of the US Capitol after voting on the Kyestone XL Pipeline, Nov. 14, 2014. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

The controversy around the project is not just a matter of environmental impact

On Friday, as the House voted to approve a proposal for the long-debated Keystone Pipeline, we rounded up TIME’s past coverage of the environmental questions behind the controversial pipeline — but, with the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on their own version of the proposal, it’s clear that the environmental impact isn’t the only factor influencing decision-making.

As these three stories make clear, the politics are nearly as complex as the science:

July 22, 2013: Beyond the Keystone Pipeline

Michael Grunwald posits that the energy agenda could be a big part of President Obama’s legacy, and that there are reasons beyond the climate why he might want to veto the pipeline even if the legislature approves it, as has been suggested he will:

It’s true that Keystone isn’t the ideal battleground for the fight against global warming. The Canadian tar-sand glop that Big Oil hopes to send to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico might come out of the ground even if the pipeline is rejected. Oil isn’t quite as awful as coal, and its competitors aren’t yet as viable as coal’s. But the Montgomery, Ala., bus system wasn’t the ideal battleground, either; it was just where Rosa Parks decided to fight. Presidents don’t get to choose what activists care about. Presidents just get to choose sides. “After all he’s done on climate, I just can’t imagine that he’d approve this,” says Tom Steyer, a billionaire Obama donor who is bankrolling a crusade against the pipeline. “It would be so disappointing to his supporters. Such a self-inflicted wound.”

Nov. 13, 2014: The Politics Behind Mary Landrieu’s Pipeline Power Play

Alex Rogers analyzes Senator Mary Landrieu’s call for the Senate to bring the matter to a vote:

The frantic maneuvering started Wednesday morning when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell promised [Landrieu’s challenger Bill] Cassidy a spot on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if Cassidy beats Landrieu in the December runoff. Landrieu chairs the committee and has touted her tenure there as a symbol of her influence on Capitol Hill.

Nov. 13, 2014: GOP Prepares for an Energy Battle

Denver Nicks takes a look at broader feelings about energy and the environment among the Republican leadership, revealing that the pipeline is just the beginning:

Near the top of [Mitch McConnell’s] to-do list is bringing the Keystone XL pipeline to a vote. Climate activists have made a priority of killing the proposed pipeline from oil sands in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, but it may soon become their Alamo. With the cooperation of a handful of centrist Democrats, the GOP could have a filibuster-proof majority on the question, forcing President Obama to approve or veto the project. Either way, he will be forced to show his hand on a question about which he’s been coy to date.

TIME Britain

Watch as the Man Who Wants to Be Britain’s Next Prime Minister is Taken Down by a Former Pop Singer

Myleene Klass attacked Ed Milliband over policy for a new tax on properties worth more than $3 million

Ed Miliband, the beleaguered leader of Britain’s opposition party Labour, was taken down on Monday night by a surprising foe: former UK pop star and television presenter Myleene Klass.

The clash took place on the UK panel show The Agenda, where both Miliband, who hopes to be voted in as Britain’s next prime minister in next year’s election, and Klass appeared as guests. Klass wasted no time in taking Miliband to task for his party’s proposed tax on homes worth £2 million ($3.1 million) or more — widely known as the “mansion tax” — in order to put more funds into the country’s National Health Service (NHS).

“For me, it’s so disturbing – the name in its own right: ‘mansion tax’” said Klass, who rose to fame in the early aughts, when she took part in Simon Cowell’s reality TV show Popstars. “When you do look at the people who will be suffering this tax, it’s true a lot of them are grannies who have had these houses in their families for a long, long time. The people who are the super, super rich buying their houses for £140 million, this is not necessarily going to affect them because they’ve got their tax rebates and amazing accountants. It’s going to be the little grannies who have lived in those houses for years and years.”

For his part, Miliband seemed unprepared for the attack, in spite of recent criticism in the UK press and rumors of backlash from within his own party. He responded to the criticism by noting, “I totally understand that people don’t like paying more in tax. The values of my government are going to be different to the values of this [current Conservative] government.”

Yet Klass continued to grill the politician on precise figures, while questioning whether the tax would actually help improve national health care.

“You may as well just tax me on this glass of water. You can’t just point at things and tax them,” she said.

Many people watching the interview took to social media to comment on Miliband’s weak defense:

 

 

 

 

Of course, there were also viewers who were turned off by Klass — who has an estimated net worth of £11 million ($17.2 million) — arguing that a tax on millionaires would cause suffering:

 

 

 

TIME politics

Is This the Solution to Partisan Gridlock in Washington?

John F. Kennedy
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy arrive at the Georgetown home of Joseph Alsop in Washington for dinner, Feb. 14. 1961. William Smith—AP Images

A long-abandoned Washington tradition hints at a simple remedy; one reducible to a single word, in fact: gin. Or vodka, if you prefer

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

The mid-term elections have passed and the country remains in partisan gridlock. Despite ongoing crises in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Africa, the president and his critics can seemingly do no better than snipe at each other in the media. Meanwhile, as the Pew Research Center points out, the 113th Congress is about to set a record—for the fewest laws enacted of any Congress in the past two decades. By comparison, the notorious “do-nothing-Congress” of 1947-49 was downright frenetic—passing the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and the National Security Act (which created the CIA) in the equivalent timeframe. The legislative accomplishments of the Senate and House this year include the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act and the Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act. What is to be done?

A long-abandoned Washington tradition hints at a simple remedy; one reducible to a single word, in fact: gin. Or vodka, if you prefer.

What most distinguishes the “then” from the “now” is that important people in the capital used to talk to one another—even party together. For nearly thirty years, from 1945 to 1974, the influential residents of Georgetown—a leafy, cobblestoned enclave of Washington, D.C.—gathered on Sunday evenings to discuss and debate the pressing issues of the day. The Georgetown set included Joe and Stewart Alsop, authors of “Matter of Fact,” a syndicated column appearing in more than 200 daily newspapers; Phil and Katharine Graham, publishers of one of those papers, the Washington Post; and an important but lesser-known figure: Frank Gardiner Wisner, who headed up the CIA’s department of dirty tricks.

The pundits, publishers, and spies of Georgetown shaped public opinion, advised presidents (John Kennedy was a frequent guest at Joe Alsop’s table), and—in some instances—became the instruments of American foreign policy. There was even a term coined to describe the power that the Georgetown set wielded in Washington: salonisma. It was, as Phil Graham observed, “a form of government by invitation.”

The most coveted invitation back then was to one of Joe Alsop’s “zoo parties” at 2720 Dumbarton Avenue, where the guest list was independent of party affiliation and typically included prominent senators and foreign ambassadors, a Supreme Court justice or two, some rising young star of the current administration, and, of course, Alsop’s own well-connected friends and neighbors. There, over strong martinis and Joe’s signature dishes of leek pie and terrapin soup, as the gilt-framed portraits of Alsop ancestors peered down at diners from walls covered in blood-red Chinese silk, the Cold War played out: the containment of the Soviet Union, McCarthyism, the nuclear arms race and the missile gap, and—inevitably, tragically—the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Indeed, it was Joe’s unapologetically hawkish stand on the war that alienated American readers and led to his downfall. “Matter of Fact” ceased publication late in 1974, weeks before North Vietnamese tanks broke down the gates of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

The zoo parties took place in staid and proper Georgetown, but they were notoriously raucous. Loud, alcohol-fueled disagreements often led to Joe’s kicking a guest out of his house for some untoward remark. (It was not considered an argument in the Alsop household, Joe said, until someone had stormed out of the dining room at least twice. At one Sunday supper, Phil Graham was halfway out the door before he realized that the house he was being ejected from was his.) But a letter of abject apology almost always promptly followed. It was rare indeed for any feud to be enduring.

The influence of the Georgetown set in Washington was all the more remarkable considering that Joe Alsop had a secret: he was gay, and, in 1957, had been ensnared in a honey trap at a Moscow hotel that was secretly filmed by the KGB. The Columnist, a 2012 Broadway play starring John Lithgow in the title role, opens with Joe in bed with his KGB lover, Andrei. (Alsop wrote an account of the Moscow incident at the time and sent it to the FBI and the CIA, which only recently declassified it. For the record, the name of the spy who seduced Alsop was Boris, not Andrei.) Subsequently, the KGB, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and numerous others of Joe’s enemies in Washington tried to blackmail Alsop into moderating his liberal anti-communist views—all without success.

Joe Alsop was ahead of his time in warning against Joe McCarthy (whom he and his brother savaged in their column long before Edward R. Murrow’s TV show), wrong about the missile gap (although it helped elect his friend, John Kennedy), and very much wrong about Vietnam. But he was right in despising those he called “the ideologists.” And the upcoming election may be the test of a prediction that he made thirty years ago, in 1984: “Either great American party that yields to its extreme group is doomed there and then.”

The Georgetown set and Joe Alsop are long gone, as is that staple of the Washington salon, terrapin soup—whose main ingredient has been declared a threatened species. The houses where once the Alsops, Wisners, and the Grahams lived are currently occupied by a D.C. real estate mogul, a hedge fund manager, and a young venture capitalist. And consequential foreign policy debates no longer take place over Georgetown dinner tables but between rival partisan think tanks, vying for space on editorial pages and blogs.

American leaders once understood the relationship between cocktails and comity: Historians attribute the legendary effectiveness of Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson to the latter’s one-on-one, bourbon-and-branch water “conversations” with his political foes. Ronald Reagan’s diary reveals that the drinks he shared after hours with hisnemesis, House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill, contributed to the success of the Reagan presidency. (“We’re all friends here after 6,” the Tipper reportedly told the Gipper.) Why can’t a new host and a fresh venue be found for the long-gone zoo parties?—which served a political as much as a social purpose, and are sadly missed, and missing, in today’s Washington.

A final, cautionary note: the failure of the 2009 “beer summit”—where President Obama tried, unsuccessfully, to defuse a racial incident by sharing a brew with the antagonists at the White House—suggests that stronger spirits may be required.

Gregg Herken is an emeritus professor of modern American diplomatic history at the University of California, and author of The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington, to be published this month by Knopf.

TIME Environment

Congress May Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, but History Shows How the Debate Has Shifted Against Energy Producers

House Passes Bill to Approve Keystone Over Obama Objections
A copy of H. R. 5682, a bill which would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, on Nov. 14, 2014. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg / Getty Images

What can the Alaska Pipeline teach us about Keystone?

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate moved on Wednesday to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline, hoping a decision on the controversial pipeline will help decide a runoff election for a Senate seat in Louisiana. The pipeline, if approved, would transport heavy oil 1,179 miles from Canadian tar sands in Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska and then through existing pipelines to refineries in the Gulf Coast area. The proposed pipeline would serve as a major conduit bringing tar sands oil to domestic and international markets. Announced in 2008, the Keystone XL pipeline has since come under fire from environmentalists and today sits at the epicenter of larger conversations about the environmental impact of energy development and energy consumption. If both houses of Congress pass legislation to approve the pipeline, they would force President Obama to decide to either sign the bill authorizing construction or deliver an unpopular veto. The president has shown reluctance to rule on the pipeline as he waits for the courts to resolve legal challenges to the project, but a bicameral congressional action may force his hand.

While the controversy surrounding Keystone XL stems from contemporary conversations about climate change, it also echoes past conflicts between energy developers and environmental groups over pipeline construction. These pipeline debates were especially prominent in the 1970s as policymakers labored over environmental concerns and energy shortages. In 1973, for example, Congress authorized construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, superseding ongoing legal battles and ending five years of environmental obstruction. This is the resolution that today’s pipeline supporters hope to imitate by pushing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through Congress. But while the narrative arcs of the two pipeline controversies appear to be converging, the circumstances surrounding approval of the pipelines suggest different trajectories in the political balance between energy and environmental concerns.

Between 1969, when the project was announced, and 1973 when President Richard Nixon signed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the trans-Alaska pipeline faced similar scrutiny to the Keystone XL pipeline. Oil companies proposed the Alaska pipeline after discovering rich oil deposits along Alaska’s remote North Slope. The proposed pipeline would bisect long stretches of untouched public lands to carry petroleum 800 miles from the arctic to the port city of Valdez, where tankers would transport the oil overseas to the lower 48. President Nixon and his secretary of the Interior endorsed the route but environmentalists waged a stiff campaign against hasty construction. The pipeline, they argued, threatened local wildlife, would damage fragile permafrost, and failed to account for Alaska’s frequent earthquakes. They utilized new environmental laws to stall the pipeline until the petroleum companies adequately addressed the pipeline’s harmful environmental impacts.

The environmental obstruction of the Alaska pipeline lasted five years and only weakened as new anxieties about domestic energy supply emerged. In the early 1970s, as American energy production peaked and consumption continued to climb, informed observers noted that an energy crisis loomed. Without changes to America’s energy production or consumption, the country faced acute shortages on the horizon. In this context, the trans-Alaska pipeline seemed the necessary panacea to oncoming energy woes. While fears of energy crisis grew in Washington, so did political support for the pipeline. In the summer of 1973, both houses of Congress passed bills to override remaining legal impediments to the pipeline, an action similar to those taken in the House and Senate this week. A few months later, in the wake of an embargo imposed by the Arab petroleum exporters, President Nixon signed the new legislation authorizing the pipeline. Nixon approved the pipeline in the midst of the country’s most pronounced energy shortage since World War II, signaling a transition from an era of energy abundance to a new era governed by energy needs.

The Keystone XL pipeline debate mirrors the controversy surrounding its Alaskan predecessor. Environmental groups, as they did in the 1970s, also oppose the new pipeline. Keystone XL, they argue, represents “an environmental crime in progress” for its reliance on tar sands oil. Oil products refined from tar sands burn dirtier than conventional oil, releasing as much as 37 percent more carbon than regular gasoline according to the Sierra Club. The increased emissions from tar sands oil intensify the growing threat of climate change, a decades’ long trend of warming global temperatures caused largely by increasing levels of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. By blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, environmentalists hope to prevent the consumption of this dirty fuel.

Keystone XL’s advocates disagree. They claim that impeding the pipeline will not prevent the consumption of Canadian tar sands. Instead, they say that Canada will continue to develop their energy reserves without American involvement. Blocking the pipeline, they suggest, will only exclude the United States from economic benefits of Alberta fossil fuel development. TransCanada, the consortium constructing Keystone, argues that a pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf is necessary, valuable, and inevitable.

But unlike the approval of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which followed the biggest event in the history of American energy shortage, the pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will occur only days after one of the country’s most significant steps to curb the harmful effects of energy consumption. On Wednesday, as congressional leaders announced their intention to vote on Keystone XL, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced a joint agreement to cut carbon emissions. While the agreement promises only cautious steps to roll back emissions, it marks a historical first step in a joint effort between the two biggest energy consumers. The US and China agreed to mitigate the fossil fuel pollution that causes climate change and its associated global impacts. Meanwhile, Congress prepares to authorize the transportation of a fuel source that exacerbates the same problem.

So while the two pipeline decisions appear similar on the surface, they reflect very different trajectories in the political balance between energy and environmental concerns. Congress’s approval of the trans-Alaska pipeline, coming in the wake of the Arab oil embargo, portended an era that emphasized the rapid development of domestic energy reserves. By immediately following the momentous bilateral emissions agreement reached by the US and China, the Keystone decision suggests not a nation ready to embrace its high-carbon energy options, but rather the dying gasp of a partisan position that is growing more and more untenable from both a political and scientific perspective. Energy interests will win more legal battles against the environmental adversaries, but unlike the circumstances of the 1973 decision that showed a new embrace of domestic energy development, the political debate surrounding today’s decision marks a reluctance to continue along that same path.

Matthew K. Kahn is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University. His dissertation is tentatively titled “To Conserve or Develop: The Politics of Energy Extraction and Environmental Protection, 1969-1980″

TIME Sexual Assault

Rose Byrne on Frat Culture and How Bystanders Can Stop Sexual Assault

The actress is a spokesperson for the White House's new anti-sexual assault campaign, 'It's On Us' which aims to speak directly to students about prevention

In a new campaign spot for the White House’s “It’s On Us” anti-sexual assault campaign, a schlubby bystander becomes the hero. This otherwise zoned-out guy on a couch decides to get up and intervene when he sees another young man trying to stop an inebriated woman from leaving the party, thereby potentially stopping a sexual assault.

The PSA is a new tactic to address what has become a crisis of sexual assault on American campuses by focusing on the role of bystanders. Recent research shows that 1 in 5 women is the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault during college, and one in 16 men have also experienced some kind of sexual assault. And while the issue has gained attention in the media and through White House efforts to end assault on campus, pop culture is still rife with imagery that undermines these efforts to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault. Just this week a sexist music video depicting men in a fraternity telling women to “shut the f*** up” when the women refuse to “do girl on girl” went viral.

As the debate about sexual assault on college campuses has raged on, the blame has often fallen on the both the victim and the assailant for drinking too much or making other poor choices. Rather than being caught up in the debate over fraternities and binge drinking, the White House is attempting to reframe the argument. “Is it on her? Is it on him? The campaign says, ‘It’s on us.’ So we’re offering a third narrative,” Rachel Cohen Gerrol, executive director of of the PVBLIC Foundation, which helped push the campaign, explains to TIME.

“One of the questions we’ve gotten is why doesn’t this campaign say directly to men, ‘Stop raping’? And the reason for that is that the campaign is research-based,” Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, explained at an Advertising Week panel on the campaign. According to research, campaigns can change the behavior of those surrounding a person committing sexual assault: teach college kids bystander intervention, and they will be more cognizant of what a dangerous situation looks like and how to stop it.

“We don’t really have any evidence that a PSA campaign or t-shirts would change the behavior of an actual offender.”

The new spot is a followup to the White House’s first ads for the campaign, a star-studded video where celebs ranging from Jon Hamm to Kerry Washington to Vice President Biden and President Obama himself say that “It’s on us” to stop sexual assault. One of the campaigns celeb advocates is Rose Byrne, an Australian, who says she didn’t know much about fraternity culture or the problem os sexual assault on campus until she was offered a role in Neighbors, the Seth Rogen summer comedy about a couple with a baby who gets into a prank war with the fraternity next door. She did her research and was surprised by what she found. This year, fraternities have come under fire not only for their hazing tactics but also for being the scene of many alleged incidents of rape and assault.

“For me, it was eye-opening doing that film because it was all about how powerful fraternity culture is and how intimidating it can be,” Byrne told TIME. “What I’ve learned is that environment can be very intimidating for victims of sexual assault.” It was after wrapping the film that she jumped at the chance to join the White House in their campaign educating college students—and specifically college freshmen, who are at the highest risk of being assaulted—about bystander intervention.

AWXI - Day 4
Rose Byrne attends the It’s On Us: From Activism to Action w/Jason Harris and Rose Byrne panel during AWXI on October 2, 2014 in New York City. Monica Schipper—2014 Getty Images

The site will offer myriad ways that students can intervene to prevent an assault, whether it’s telling a possible assailant that his or her car alarm went off or spilling a beer on him or her. The toolkit of suggested ways to intervene may eventually be supplemented by prizes for students who come up with the most creative methods, according to Jason Harris, CEO of Mekanism, the advertising agency that designs the spots for the campaign. The site also encourages students to intervene in conversations about sexual assault online that devolve into victim blaming.

“As you see this conversation begin to happen on social media, and you see people starting to say, ‘Well of course she was asking for it. She flirted with him or she slept with him before,” says Rosenthal. “When you intervene in those conversations, that’s just as important as the interventions that you’re talking about in the moment that you see something happening. That’s how we create a new social norm.”

The other social norm the campaign is trying to change: athletes being held to a different standard than their peers. Given the very public problems with sexual assault in national sports leagues, the White House will also be partnering with the NFL, PGA Tour, NASCAR and the NCAA for the campaign. And schools with storied and highly influential sports programs are already making the pledge, including the entire football team at Penn State and Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s basketball team at Duke.

As Byrne points out, the problem among athletes who are allowed passes for their bad behavior spreads far beyond America. “There’s a lot of cases like this in Australia. Sporting teams and football teams and the FAL and the NRL historically have been involved in horrible gang rapes,” she says. “There’s absolutely a culture in Australia of those sorts of things being wrongly tolerated because of who those men are.”

The White House has found changing the culture on campus through school administrations is a daunting task. That’s why the campaign also slyly speaks directly to the students rather than the institutions themselves, some of which had long fought the idea that sexual assault among students is a matter for their adjudication. “Schools have to deal with their boards, they have to deal with their funding, they have to deal with the people who support them mostly via athletics—the biggest donors at universities buy athletic fields and things like that,” says Gerrol. “And students could give a s***. And they just say this is not going to happen, not on our watch, not on our campus. So it’s easier and faster to make change with people who are not beholden to donors.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser