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Politics

Narrow Republican Lead in Pennsylvania Congressional Race

default article imageRepublican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick has a four point advantage over Democratic challenger Scott Wallace in the race for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District (PA-01), according to a recent poll released by the University’s Polling Institute on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science, explained that the most important aspect at play in the PA-01 race is that it will be one of the first general elections in which the state will be using its redrawn Congressional District maps, after the former maps were considered unconstitutionally gerrymandered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

 “Pennsylvania was seen as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country,” he said. “State-wide, this should offer Democrats an advantage in terms of vote share and seat distribution. Specifically for [PA-01], Fitzpatrick is the incumbent in [PA-08, from the previous map].”

 Fitzpatrick won his election with nearly 54 percent of the vote in 2016. At the time, his district included Philadelphia suburbs, which leaned more Republican.

But the new PA-01 district now includes parts of Lansdale, which tends to lean much more Democratic, Chapman explained.

The newly drawn districts create the potential for a close race on Election Day.

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White House Limits Kavanaugh Probe

default article imageThe Trump administration has prevented the FBI from investigating Julie Swetnick’s allegations of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, multiple White House officials briefed on the matter told NBC News on Saturday, Sept. 29.

Multiple White House officials, under anonymity, confirmed to NBC News that the White House counsel’s office has given the FBI a list of specific witnesses they are permitted to interview in the reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh, an unexpected method which deviates from Senator Jeff Flake’s (R-Arizona) request following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote for floor confirmation last Friday, Sept. 28.

Under the administration’s restrictions, FBI investigators are not permitted to obtain information about witness and co-conspirator Mark Judge’s employment at the supermarket where Dr. Blasey Ford testified she saw him working which, “would [otherwise] help better narrow the date of the assault she testified about to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Katherine Parkin, Ph.D., a professor of history and gender studies.

The FBI is also prohibited from investigating Kavanaugh’s multiple accounts of drinking in college, which Parkin said, “will of course have tremendous bearing on the testimony provided by his second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, and her account that he stuck his penis in her face, as they hung out in a group of friends at Yale.”

Because of the recent limitations on the FBI’s probe, Parkin said, “The sincere call for a FBI investigation, sparked by two women [Maria Gallagher and Anna Maria Archilla] who confronted Senator Flake about their experience having been sexually assaulted, has instead immediately devolved into a farce.”

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The “Trade-Off” of U.S. Tariff War with China

default article imagePresident Donald Trump issued new tariffs on approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, on Monday, Sept. 17.

The first cycle of ten percent tariffs were already been in effect since Monday, Sept. 24.

The administration’s recent tariffs are set to reach a rate of 25 percent by Jan. 1, 2019, and come in addition to the $50 billion worth of goods that were already taxed earlier this year.

In response to the first round of tariffs, China countered by implementing tariff’s they import from the U.S.

As a result, the Trump administration enacted the new tariffs. Nearly half of all Chinese imports to the U.S. now have levies or tariffs on them.

The tariffs will only affect certain Chinese goods; selective products established or listed by the Trump administration.

The first round of tariffs focused primarily on industrial equipment, whereas these tariffs affect a range of products such as electronics, food, and clothing.

Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, explained that it is important to keep in mind that China and the U.S. are two of the biggest economies in the world.

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University Hosts Senator Kyrillos as Public Servant-in-Residence Panelist

Senator Kyrillos Public ServantThe University hosted an open-forum panel discussion on pension and benefit reform with the Public Servant-in-Residence program in the Wilson Auditorium on Friday, Sept. 28.

The Office of the President and the Department of Political Science and Sociology coordinated the Public Servant-in-Residence program, and is featuring former New Jersey state-Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) as its 2018-2019 Public Servant-in-Residence.

Throughout the academic year, Kyrillos will be leading four panel discussions, focusing on pension and benefits reform, bridging the partisan divide, jobs and the economy, and oceans and shore protections, respectively.

In addition to Kyrillos, the first panel included New Jersey Senate President Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D-Glouster); Richard Keevey, a former-Budget Director and Comptroller for New Jersey; Tom Byrne, former-Chair of Senate Investment Council, and member of the New Jersey Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission; Peter Reinhart, Esq., Director of the University’s Kislak Real Estate Institute, and a member of the Fiscal Policy Working Group; and Gordon MacInnes, a former New Jersey state-Senator, and President and Chief Executive of New Jersey Policy Perspective.

“The program was created to provide a venue for public officials to share their expertise with students and the campus community at Monmouth University,” writes University President Grey Dimenna, Esq., in an email inviting students to attend the forum.

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Democratic Lean in NJ 7th District

default article imageDemocratic candidate Tom Malinowski narrowly leads incumbent Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District race, according to a recent poll released by the University’s Polling Institute on Thursday, Sept. 20.

This district includes all of Hunterdon County, and parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union, and Warren counties; and it has been represented by Lance since 2008.

According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), the district has a score of R+3, meaning it tends to vote Republican.

Republican candidate, former-Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney won the district by six points in the 2012 presidential election.

However, the district swung by one point for Democratic candidate, former-Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

“It’s a brutal campaign season for moderate Republicans running in blue states like New Jersey,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, and an associate professor of political science.

“Many pollsters are predicting a pink wave of women voters that could potentially tip the scales for Democrats against moderate Republicans, which the current controversy involving Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh makes worse,” he added. 

Patten also attributes the Democratic lean to the recent tax reform bill passed by the Republicans in Congress last December.

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Puerto Rico Struggles, A Year After Hurricane Maria

default article imagePeople gathered in San Juan, Puerto Rico to mourn the thousands who died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria last year, on Thursday, Sept. 20. Government officials denounced the inactive role which the U.S. federal government has played in recovering. 

Congress has invested billions of dollars in efforts to help reconstruct Puerto Rico after the Category-4 hurricane hit the island last year, but devastation continues to ensue.

Danica Coto, from The Associated Press, and based in Puerto Rico, said that eight months after the storm, “major power outages are still being reported, tens of thousands of insurance claims are pending, and nearly 60,000 homes have temporary roofs unable to withstand a Category-1 hurricane.”  

The mayor of San Juan expressed frustration with U.S. relief efforts through the Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) and other federal assistance programs.

She told CNN in an interview, “The [Trump] Administration killed the Puerto Ricans with neglect. The Trump Administration led us to believe they were helping when they weren’t up to par, and they didn’t allow other countries to help us.”

According to Ralph Cuseligo, DSW., an assistant professor of social work, “the U.S. government could have done more to provide aid to Puerto Rico in the wake of Maria.”

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Supreme Court Stays Decision to Disclose “Dark Money” Political Contributions

Supreme Court Dark MoneyThe U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a lower federal court, which requires all non-profit groups to disclose the identity of any donor giving more than $200 when such groups advertise for or against political candidates, on Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The ruling was a result of a six-year-long case brought on by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.

According to its official website, CREW “uses aggressive legal action, in-depth research, and bold communications to reduce the influence of money in politics and help foster a government that is ethical and accountable.”

In Oct. 2012, CREW filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), requesting that a conservative non-profit group called Crossroads GPS should be required to disclose the names of their donors.

The request was issued after Crossroads GPS ran a $6 million campaign in opposition to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

On Aug. 3, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted CREW’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denied the FEC’s and Crossroads GPS’s cross-motions.

According to the FEC official litigation records, the court “stayed the vacatur” for 45 days to provide time for the FEC to issue interim regulations consistent with the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The Court also vacated the Commission’s dismissal of an administrative complaint against Crossroads GPS and remanded the matter for reconsideration.

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Protests Continue During Kavanaugh’s Hearings: Women’s Rights and Roe v. Wade

Kavanaugh Hearings 1Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh attended a hearing with Senators to discuss his stance on abortion on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

A group of women dressed in red gowns and white caps stood outside of the hearing room in silent protest.

As the hearings continue for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, protests from groups opposing his appointment have increased.

 During Kavanaugh’s testimony on abortion, fifteen women lined the balcony above the hearing room, overlooking the Senate offices.

The women’s costumes were meant to carry a solemn message from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, which portrays a world wherein women are devoid of basic human rights: namely, control over their own bodies.

 These women are members of Demand Justice, an organization which strongly opposes Kavanaugh’s confirmation based on his prior rulings on abortion and healthcare as a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge.

 Protests have not only taken place outside of Congress and the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., but also through fundraising to target Senators who are undecided about their confirmation vote.

Many activists involved have been arrested for disrupting the confirmation hearings, protesting their concerns over Kavanaugh’s stance on social issues. These protests have led to criticism from Senators, such as Republican Benjamin Sasse from Nebraska, who claims that the Supreme Court is not the appropriate venue to debate politics.

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Senior Trump Official Publishes Anonymous Op-ed

Trump Official AnonymousThe New York Times published an anonymous op-ed at the request of a senior official within the Trump Administration, which contained claims that are devastating to Trump’s presidency, on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

In the op-ed entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance inside the Trump Administration,” the author, identified as a “senior official in the Trump administration,” asserts that “the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”

The unnamed official attributes President Trump’s behavior to his “amorality.”

In the prelude to the article, the New York Times added a statement saying “[they] believe that publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to [their] readers.”

Historically speaking, anonymous sources are common in matters of national, political news; yet, it is rare occurrence when editorial pieces are published anonymously.

Julian Garcia, a professor of journalism, affirms the importance of anonymity in certain circumstances saying, “For those who believe in an open and free press, anonymous sources are important.” In establishing the weight anonymity carries in journalism, Garcia commented on the material published.

“The revelations were not the least bit shocking to me because I feel like many of us knew this already, regarding the president’s behavior. But to have someone so close to him, working in his administration, confirm this, was huge,” he said.

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Govenor Murphy Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill

default article imageDemocratic Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy’s Earned Sick Leave bill, A-1827, will become effective on Oct. 29 of this year.

“This is not just about doing what’s right for workers and their families,” he said of paid sick leave at the bill signing in early May. “This is about doing the right thing for our economy and protecting more New Jerseyans’ place in that economy.”

This latest adjustment to state law requires all New Jersey employers to provide paid sick leave to all of their employees.

“Liberals and conservatives will have a different opinion about this, as they do with anything else,” said Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of the political science. One of the issues being discussed is the bill’s budget.

Some legislators are also worried that this new law will dramatically change the state budget until it is finalized. “There will be some arguing, some disagreements among ourselves, between the legislature and the executive,” said New Jersey State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) during the signing of the law on May 2.

“But we will get together and we will have a budget that appropriately sets the priorities for New Jersey,” she assured.

Those eligible to take paid sick leave from work include full time and part time workers. The new law requires employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours that their employee works, with a total annual cap of 40 hours per employee.

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Trump’s Attack on Amazon Signals Disconnect Between Government and Big Business

default article imageAmazon, led by Jeff Bezos, has undergone a widely publicized ascendance to become one of most valuable global companies. The world watched it enjoy unprecedented growth and expansion with notable milestones such as the release of Alexa, a first of its kind voice assistant, and the acquisition of Whole Foods.

According to a report by CNBC, the company’s most recent fourth quarter earnings yielded revenues of $60.5 billion, blowing past Thomson Reuters’ initial projections of $59.83 billion.

The company’s net income at the close of 2017 was $1.9 billion, more than double the former year and a record high for the company. The close of the fourth quarter also included a $789 million tax benefit, a direct result of the recent change to the U.S. tax code which passed in December 2017.

In Amazon’s early days, the company’s central business model was constructed with the prioritization of growth pursuit over profits, routinely underpricing their products, and placing a higher value on consumer welfare and gaining popularity.

Even with massive sales, the company still prices products below market value. Its emphasis on consumer welfare, which it defines as short-term price effects, was often criticized by economists and deemed ill to compete in the capitalist marketplace.

In a series of recent tweets spanning from March 29 until April 3, President Donald Trump scrutinized Amazon, calling it a “no tax monopoly,” while accusing it of “pay[ing] little to no taxes to state and local governments.”

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu