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Politics

Volume 83 (Spring 2012)

Women Taking it to “The Man”

Democratic lobbyist Hillary Rosen dismissed Ann Romney's credibility behind advising Mitt Romney’s economic agenda as a result of Ann Romney’s lack of real work experience, driving a deeper wedge between stayat- home moms and working ones. 

Rosen described Romney as “never [working] a day in her life.” She further went on to comment that Romney does not know the needs and concerns of women who work outside of the home. She was later rebuked and apologized for her disparaging statement. 

Although Rosen did not criticize Ann Romney again, she continued to discuss Mitt Romney’s view of his wife as his economic adviser for women. “I think the issue that I’m focusing on is, ‘Does Mitt Romney have a vision for bringing women up economically, and can he himself stop referring to his wife as his economic surrogate?’ That’s an important thing. He’s the one that keeps doing this. Not me,” she said in an interview on CNN. 

NPR released “Rosen’s Words About Ann Romney Fuel ‘Mommy Wars’” late last week in response to the upheaval.

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Early Polls Have Obama Over Romney

With six months until Election Day, President Obama has taken a slight lead over his likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney. Although there is much time before November, this shows how the race will begin to take shape before the summer. Real- ClearPolitics.com has President Obama with an advantage of 3.2 points nationally over Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. That calculation takes into account national polls from various polling institutions.

However, looking at the Electoral College gives President Obama even more reasons to be optimistic. No matter what the polls say about each candidate or their approval rating, you still need 270 electoral votes to become the Commander-in-Chief. Taking a look at the electoral map shows that the President currently has a distinct advantage. Counting states that are ‘safe’ for each candidate, (winning by 15 points or more); Obama already has 161 electoral votes to Romney’s 131. Add the states that are leaning for each candidate (15 to eight point advantage) Obama increases his lead 227-170. That only leaves the toss-up states, or those that are within eight points for either candidate, left to determine the winner. 11 states currently fall into this category. They account for 141 votes each with Obama needing only 43 of those to win.

A closer look at the toss-up states sees Obama with a lead in a majority of them. Florida’s 29 votes are currently in the president’s column with a 4.2 point lead over Romney, taking the vote count to 256. Obama is also leading in Pennsylvania by six. A win in Pennsylvania and Florida will see the President going over the 270 threshold and winning reelection. Romney could win the remaining nine toss-up states and still lose. In fact, the only toss-up states that are currently red for Romney are Arizona by 5.4 and Missouri by three. The President also sees a 5.3 point lead in Ohio, a traditional battleground state. There are many different ways Obama can win from the tossups while Romney would need to steal many of the states that are currently blue.

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Pushing Back Against Bullying

Anti-Bullying Laws Top the List of Political Stories

The Outlook concludes the school year with a continuation of the top 10 political stories of the school year. In this issue are the top five.

5. Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Congress

politics-obamaDuring President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union speech, Arizona congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords returned to Congress. On January 8, 2011, Giffords was shot by an assassin during a “Meet your Congressman” event in Tucson. Giffords was shot in the back of the head and was placed in critical condition. Giffords has since made great strides in recovery but it is far from over. During the State of the Union she handed in her letter of resignation to a cheering Congressional chamber.

In the time following the shooting, Republicans and Democrats put aside differences and became Americans. At the time of the shooting, the groups were split on how to fix the debt ceiling. President Obama made a speech in Tucson in the days following the shooting. “As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together,” he said.

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Santorum Suspends Presidential Bid

Rick Santorum officially dropped out of the presidential race last Tuesday in a speech in front of supporters in Pennsylvania. The Republican hopeful had spent the previous few days tending to his ailing daughter, Bella, who was hospitalized for a rare genetic disease. Bella was discharged from the hospital Monday night.

Trailing Romney in his home state of Pennsylvania, the Santorum campaign has seen little chance to be able to make up the delegate difference with Mitt Romney. Realclearpolitics. com has Santorum trailing Romney in delegates by 272-656. Santorum would need 872 delegates to win the nomination. National polls, however, show Santorum trailing by an average of 19.5 percentage points according to RealClearpolitics. com.

Santorum is most likely to still play a pivotal role in politics. According to thehill.com, Santorum has already talked to his staff about the possibility of running again in 2016. The day he dropped out of the race he spoke with James Dobson in a “Conversation on faith, family and American values.” His suspension of his campaign for 2012 may have just ended as the 2016 election run began. The Daileykos.com also believes Santorum has switched to 2016 mode “I think he has been planning his run based on 2016 all along. Santorum won two elections in a swing state.” If Santorum thought Mitt Romney would be the victor in the next presidential elections, he would not be thinking of 2016.

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Dishonoring the Family Can Lead to Murder: The Story Behind Honor Killings

According to UNICEF’s website, “An honor killing, also known as honor murder, is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community.”

Dishonor typically stems from one of the following behaviors, the website explains: dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community, wanting to end or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring to marry by own choice, engaging in heterosexual acts outside of marriage or engaging in any homosexual acts.

As a result of rigid beliefs as to what is right and wrong in cultures throughout the world, thousands of women, teens and even men have been forced to adhere to their family’s strict belief systems or face the consequence of dishonor which can lead to death.

The acts that brings dishonor to many families and communities continues to grow as individuals from various cultures come to the United States, a country in which there is no law regarding honor killings. According to the United Nations website, “In many societies, rape victims, women suspected of engaging in premarital sex and women accused of adultery have been murdered by their relatives because the violation of a woman’s chastity is viewed as an affront to the family’s honor.”

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The Final Countdown Begins

The Outlook Chooses Top 10 Stories of School Year

For the final two editions of The Outlook, we will be listing and explaining the top 10 political stories of the school year. Each story will explain what the event was, how it affected the school year and why it was so newsworthy. This week will include events 10 to six and next week will have events five to one.

10. Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa)

Everyone who has been on a computer since the failed passing of the Stop Online Piracy Act, whether they were aware of what SOPA was or not, knew there was some buzz surrounding website restriction and pirated content. SOPA, a bill proposed to help target and eliminate the trading or downloading of illegal content, had sparked many angered outcries. not really because of the bill’s goal to stop the distribution of pirated content but for possible Internet censorship. Theories such as the government going into one’s computer and searching for illegal content had many people paranoid, which, in turn, inf luenced people to conduct protests.

But was this bill really necessary, especially when the 1998 Millennium Copyright Laws are already in place? Professor Robert Scott, specialist professor of radio and television, believes that an actual action towards stopping piracy was long overdue, doesn’t quite think that this bill in particular in going to do all too much in stopping illegal distribution. “I’ve worked on initiatives involving intellectual property rights and piracy issues and I continue to watch how significantly more challenging these issues have become. I’m very concerned for my friends who work in entertainment media and I remain concerned for the future of related industries and our economy as a whole. But I also believe SOPA and PIPA may not offer the most effective solutions. As we continue to experiment with new tools for information sharing and media distribution, we should also be more involved with the process of ensuring our freedoms as consumers, producers and citizens,” says Scott.

He goes on to mention that even though such piracy acts may not be the entire solution, everyone should care especially the college students. Scott states that, “Today’s college students use social networks and other Internet tools more than any other previous generation. The expectation is that they will continue to do so after they graduate – professionally, socially, as a form of communication, and in terms of their media consumption.” Moreover, many of these students will start careers in media and technology fields. It is time for this generation of digital natives to become less reactive and more proactive in the process. Instead of complaining via social networks and advocating online protest blackouts, we should become active participants in how we define and shape the future of the Internet.

9. Kony 2012

Kony1.jpg colorChild soldiers: Not a very gentle topic and one that most people would like to not. But, on March 5, 2012, the Kony 2012 video released on YouTube by Invisible Children took that very topic and forced people look at the issue head on. Most importantly is that it made people react in a way they had never before. Sophomore social work major Tess LaFera believes that this video gained so much attention because of the high levels of emotion used, especially when seen through the perspectives of the families of these child soldiers. LaFera goes on to mention that “The use of child soldiers has been an issue for at least the past 20 years, but people didn’t know much about it until the multimedia and social networking boom. While there is much controversy surrounding the Kony 2012 video and Invisible Children, the issue of child soldiers should be a priority especially among young people such as ourselves, because it’s a grave violation of human rights. The perpetrators of these crimes are violating internationally recognized documents such as the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Beyond that, they are putting children in danger of serious psycho-physiological ramifications, if not death.”

However freshman communication major Rezwan Ahmed, although agreeing as to the reveal of child soldiers, sees a different issue in the whole topic. “People finally realized that child soldiers are real things and mass media made it extremely easy to share the video, which is great. Though personally, I find it annoying when people care about child soldiers in Africa more than the ones that we killed and tortured and detained in Abu Gharib and Guantanamo,” Ahmed contends.

Whatever one’s point of view on the topic, it can safely be said that the whole issue of child soldiers seems to of finally come to light and people are actually speaking up about it. Funny to think that it all began with a 30 minute YouTube video.

8. SuperPACs

Political Action Committees or (PACs) are organizations filed with the government during political campaigns. The 2010 Supreme Court case, Federal Election Committee v. Citizens United, changed how these groups have to release information concerning donors and amounts of the donations. The Court saw that corporations are given the same protection under the First Amendment because political speech is the reason the Free Speech part of the First Amendment exists.

These political action committees have made news in running ads for political candidates of their choice, especially since donors and amounts do not have to become public knowledge. Gregory Bordelon, lecturer of law, said, “SuperPACs have been generating a lot of buzz not only because of the Citizens United case but also because of a D.C. Court of Appeals Circuit case called Speechnow.org v FEC, since media attention tends to focus more heavily on presidential election cycles rather than midterm election years, coupled with the fact that the fact that this is the first cycle in general that effect of these holdings are truly being realized, we’re seeing extraordinary amounts of money as independent expenditures being used to support presidential campaigns

Political comedian Stephen Colbert had segments dedicated to coverage of the SuperPACs and how they operate. This is how more people discovered what their functions were. Colbert won a Peabody award for his programs coverage of SuperPACs.

Michael Phillips–Anderson, communication professor, believes these SuperPACs have significantly impacted the Republican nomination. “SuperPACs have significantly changed the way that nomination and presidential campaigns are conducted. The Republican nomination contest went on longer than expected mostly because of spending by groups other than the campaigns themselves,” says Phillips–Anderson.

A lot of students may be asking, “Why should we care?” These SuperPACs are giving money to those in political campaigns and with a presidential election in November; every single part of these campaigns is under a microscope. The campaigns produce millions of dollars for each candidate and people want to make sure that each candidate is on an equal level. Most SuperPACs are large corporations who look to get candidates elected with their best interests in mind. So the question becomes: “What about the rest of us?”

Phillips-Anderson expresses concern for college students. “Monmouth students should care about this topic because the people giving these unlimited sums of money, when we do know who they are, are rarely people who have the interests of college students in mind. Their goal in spending the significant sums of money is to support candidates who will not seek radical change except to further reinforce their specialized, usually financial, interests. None of the large donors have expressed any interest in helping students pay for college or providing wellpaying jobs,” Phillips–Anderson says.

Boredelon added, “For many MU students, this will be the first presidential election in which they cast a vote. I think seeing the campaigning of the candidates, the disclosure amounts to the FEC and observing how the confluence of spending and campaigning culminate in November may spark an interest to become part of the reform on this matter.

7. The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring was a revolution in multiple Middle Eastern countries. These revolutions across the Middle East led to toppling of dictatorships decades old. The major dictators to fall were President Mubarak of Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. There is still a violent revolution going on in Syria where the sitting leader, President Bashar al-Assad, refuses to surrender power.

Egypt had been under Mubarak’s rule since 1981 and was forced out by non-violent civil protesters. Miriam Ayoub, a sophomore social work major, visited Egypt in summer 2011. She said the atmosphere really changed since the last time she visited. “There were many stories of robberies and vandalism done by the escaped prisoners at night.” She also said the military’s presence was heavily felt. Ayoub said, “There were army personnel with their tanks guarding the apartment complex.”

Libya’s leader, Gaddafi, put up a fight to keep control and ultimately lost out to the will of the people. Libyan rebels received air support from United Nations, which includes the United States, to allow for a possible democracy to occur. Gaddafi had been charged with numerous human rights violations and even attempted to attain nuclear weapons in the 1980s.

The Arab Spring rages on as Syrian rebels continue to fight to topple President Bashar al- Assad. Assad’s military has been seen on video beating, torturing and killing citizens of Syria. Social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube have displayed the actions and have gained international support from humanitarian groups.

6. Donald Trump and

donald trump coloredObama’s Birth Certificate When the name Donald Trump is heard it is almost immediately recognized, whether it is in relation to real estate, to any kind of pop culture phenomena and, as of this year, in the game of politics. It is quite obvious that Trump has a great amount of inf luence, no one can really deny that, but when Trump started going after President Obama demanding the President’s birth certificate, some eyebrows were raised. Professor Michele Grillo, assistant professor of criminal justice, has her theories as to why several news outlets were paying such close attention to this story, even if they were skeptical. “In my opinion, I think this was a top story for two reasons. First, it was Donald Trump who pushed this issue. Trump is well known in the business world as well as the political community. When he speaks, people listen. Because Trump felt this was an important issue, it made everyday people also believe this was an important issue. Second, once Trump brought the issue forward, the media highlighted Trump’s request for President Obama’s birth certificate. If the everyday public sees this headline daily, the public will come to believe it is an important issue that needs to be resolved,” says Grillo.

 

Grillo goes on to state she believes that the whole birth certificate scandal was taken to too high of an extreme. “I definitely view it as an invasion of privacy. However, when one runs for president, you also realize that your right to privacy is diminished to a certain degree. In addition, certain information, such as a birth certificate and yearly taxes, are a requirement for public record. The fact that Obama’s birth certificate was “demanded” was ridiculous, and whether or not it was demanded, Obama would produce a birth certificate anyway. I think that Obama not releasing it when it was first demanded was not in his best interest, as if he produced the certificate more quickly, the issue would have gone away that much sooner,” Grillo acknowledges.

Although the whole issue between Trump and Obama’s birth certificate seems to have faded away and won’t have all too much impact on anything in the near future, it seems safe to say that the nation’s interest was captured by the entrepreneur in a manner that didn’t have to end with the phrase “You’re fired.”

Supreme Court Hears Health Care Bill Arguments

The pending United States healthcare law was taken to the Supreme Court last week. The nine justices heard arguments from the Solicitor General, representing the defense, and Paul Clement, Florida Attorney General, representing the plaintiff.

President Barack Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill, enacted in 2010, intends to aid Americans in obtaining and paying for health insurance. It is expected to expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are currently uninsured, according to CBS News. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage of children based on pre-existing medical conditions. Those here illegally are not eligible to purchase medical coverage, even if they pay fully on their own.

However, the individual mandate states that by 2014 those who do not have medical insurance will be fined an annual fee of $695. There will only be exceptions made for some low-income people. The debate for the individual mandate was held on Tuesday, March 27. The Solicitor General’s argument for the mandate was weak, believes Dr. Gregory Bordelon, rofessor of political science and pre-law advisor.

“Honestly, the solicitor general did not perform well on Tuesday for the individual mandate argument. He seems to pick it up a little bit with the taxing clause argument and his rebuttal, but that was a hot topic in the news that day and on Wednesday - whether his seemingly slow pace agitated the justices and whether Paul Clement’s forceful advocacy (on behalf of the state of Florida) will be a factor in the justices’ conference decision,” he said. Bordelon also believes that Clement did well in comparing the health care bill to the case of McCulloch v. Maryland in terms of interstate commerce. “Had the federal government in McCulloch forced people to put their money in the then-newly created bank of the United States, you may have had a different situation than what happened in that case.”

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GUC Stuffs Bullying Into a Locker

Professor Jennifer Shamrock of the Communication Department along with three of her senior students: Kiley Minton, Alexa Passalacqua, and Natalia Starosolsky conducted a presentation entitled “Bullying in America” for the 11th annual Global Understanding Convention on Wednesday, April 4.

Throughout the presentation, Shamrock and her students showed pictures and video clips of children and young teens that have lost their lives to the inescapable realities and pressures of bullying. While bullying continue to grow harsher each year, school administrators throughout the country are failing to put an end to the problem that has plagued America’s youth. As devastated and grief stricken families look for answers, they turn towards current laws and legislations in their home states.

Bullying is forcing kids to stay home from school, some missing a total of one third of their total school days; the problem only gets worse for some, the group’s presentation explained.

For example, one of the main videos that Shamrock and her group focused on was a news report from Anderson Cooper called “Bullied to Death,” that told the story of Asher Brown, a 13-year-old boy from Houston, Texas who ended his life as a result of bullying. When Cooper questioned the boy’s parents, they said, “Asher was picked on for not wearing the same clothes, for his stature, for his Buddhist religion and for being gay.” However, despite Asher’s parents’ complain of their son being bullied, the administrators of Asher’s school denied knowing that the boy was bullied at all.

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The Naked Truth Behind the Strip Search Decision

Take a moment to imagine the following: one second you are driving down the road with your wife and son, carefree and content. In the next instant you are being pulled over, arrested for supposedly not paying a fine and strip searched at a correctional facility not just once, but twice. To some, the situation described might seem over exaggerated and farfetched to say the least, but for Albert Florence the situation was all to real.

According to an article released on April 2 in the New York Timeson in 2005 Florence’s wife, who had been operating the vehicle, was pulled over for speeding. As the traffic officer ran through the usual procedure of processing a speeding violation, he had discovered that Florence had failed to pay a fine, which lead to his arrest. After Florence was taken into custody, he was admitted to Essex County Correctional Facility, where he was first strip searched, and then transferred to a Burlington County holding facility where he was searched for a second time.

After Florence’s release, it turns out that the fine that had led to his arrest in the first place was, in fact, paid. However, the fact that there was a confusion about the fine wasn’t the problem in Florence’s eyes, the problem was that he was subject to strip searches for something so minimal

Florence has since sued, claiming that strip searches of those arrested for minor infractions violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against any kind of unreasonable search and seizure, along with requiring probable cause and a judicially sanctioned warrant; the case has made its way all the way up to the Supreme Court in a case labeled Florence v. The Board of Chosen Freeholders.

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Why the World Should Pay Attention to China

Dr. Kevin Dooley, Dean of the Honors School at the University, gave a presentation on China as part of Global Understanding on April 5 to approximately 40 students, faculty and visitors. Dooley’s presentation was about how China is becoming an important country in understanding where the world is going. He started out with the fact that China is the second most Googled term worldwide. Dooley started by stating the question: “Why does China matter?”

Dooley mentioned the five major countries that will have major impacts in the next 50 years: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). The unique part about China is that it is the only one not a democracy. “There is an old idea that wealth means democracy and that statement is being challenged by China,” Dooley stated during the presentation.

Dr. Rehka Datta, political science professor, who spent time in China last semester agrees with Dooley, “China has demonstrated tremendous economic growth, into the double digits. Government investment as well as opening of its economy has resulted in massive development of infrastructure, construction, education, the military, and other areas.”

An article in the New York Times by Charles Kupchan said, “Washington has long presumed that the world’s democracies will as a matter of course ally themselves with the United States; common values supposedly mean common interests. But if India and Brazil are any indication, even rising powers that are stable democracies will chart their own courses, expediting the arrival of a world that no longer plays by Western rules.”

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What is the “Stand Your Ground” Law?

Stand-Your-Ground-LawTeenager Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Sanford, Florida while walking home from a convenience store on February 26. The alleged gunman, George Zimmermann, was the head of his local neighborhood watch group, and claimed the shooting was committed in self-defense. The killing has caused a great deal of controversy from critics of the Florida police that have not arrested Zimmermann on any grounds. Martin, being a 17-year-old African-American, has brought race-relations to the forefront of politics and policy debate once again. President Obama has openly voiced his sympathies for the Martin family. Zimmermann has yet to be indicted on any charges.

The focal point of this policy debate however is Florida’s highly controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. This statute states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is a reasonable belief of threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Proponents of this legislation state that it is common sense to be able to defend yourself in hostile situations while opponents state that it is the right to commit murder in many cases. The National Rifle Association lobbied extensively for the passage of such laws in the early 2000’s. The interest group strategized and invested in states that were likely to pass the law Since the Martin killing, the NRA has halted lobbying efforts in Alaska. Last week, a New York Times op-ed piece by John F. Timoney cited that since 2005 when the law was passed. Florida homicides that are considered “justifiable” have nearly tripled.

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