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Student Spotlight: August Umholtz

December 17, 2014
by

Audrey Bowler, Campus Communications Team Writer 

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Name: August Umholtz
Class year: 2018
Hometown: West Newbury, Massachusetts
Major/minor: Undecided – but I’m thinking about a Pre-Engineering track or Political Science.

What activities are you involved with on campus? I’m participating in the Eisenhower Institute Inside Politics program, and I’ve been going to College Democrat events, but as a First Year, I’m still kind of trying to figure out what to get involved in.

How did you become involved in EI? I first heard about EI when I was applying to Gettysburg. I went to the open house at the EI campus office during one of my visits, and the programs sounded really interesting. I knew I wanted to apply to a program as soon as I decided to come to Gettysburg.

What is your favorite thing about the EI program/job you’re currently involved in? The depth of the knowledge that Kasey Pipes has, and how much he’s able to work with us. I really do think that I’ve already learned a lot that I wouldn’t learn in a traditional classroom environment.

What are you most looking forward to/what was the most exciting part of your trip to DC? I’m really excited for some of the people we’re going to meet with – a few weeks ago, Kasey mentioned that there are already fourteen meetings booked for the weekend, so it’ll be really busy, but I’m looking forward to hearing all of their diverse perspectives.

What is your research project about? Why did you choose that topic? I’m looking at the role of money in politics, particularly the Citizens United decision, and seeing who really benefits and who doesn’t from that case. It’s had such an impact in the way that politics today happens, and how its changed things so dramatically.

Who is your favorite president? FDR, because he created so many programs that still exist today, especially social safety nets.

Where do you keep your Ike pin? In my dorm room, right beside my bed!

If you could take a selfie with one political figure, who would it be? It would have to be President Obama. I’ve seen him taking selfies before, so he’s obviously pretty good at it.

Student Spotlight: Amy Whitehouse

December 15, 2014
by

Audrey Bowler, Campus Communications Team Writer

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Name: Amy Whitehouse
Class year: 2015
Hometown: Niantic, Connecticut
Major/minor: Environmental Studies/Sociology double major

What activities are you involved with on campus? Right now, I’m participating in the Eisenhower Institute Environmental Leadership program, I’m leading an immersion trip to Alabama for the Center for Public Service over Winter Break, and I’ve been on the executive board for Autism Speaks for the past few years. I’ve also been involved with the Garthwait Leadership Center and and the EI Inside Politics program.

How did you become involved in EI? During my sophomore year, I participated in the Garthwait Leadership Center’s Emerging Leaders Retreat, which was working with the Eisenhower Institute. I became more aware of the programs, and I applied for Inside Politics during the fall semester of my junior year. It was an awesome experience, and I really wanted to apply for another program. It was kind of a snowball effect!

What is your favorite thing about the EI program/job you’re currently involved in? I really like that we’re designing our own research projects – we’re going into these communities in Charlottesville that I would normally never get the opportunity to visit. It’s allowed me to tie in my sociology major as well – I’ve been able to relate some of my research topics, like deviance within communities, to the Environmental Leadership program.

What are you most looking forward to/what was the most exciting part of your trip to Charlottesville? I’m not really sure what to expect – I know that Howard’s going to take us hiking, which should be really fun. I’m just excited to see how the communities we visit receive us, and how open they are to our questions. We definitely have a lot of questions, and we’re ready to think critically about how these communities work.

How has EI impacted your time at Gettysburg? The Eisenhower Institute has definitely made me more aware of the power of networking at Gettysburg. So many people that we’ve been put in contact with through EI are so willing and excited to help Gettysburg students. It’s really made me realize the potential that comes with networking. I think public policy can sometimes be written of as being boring, but I’ve made so many connections through it and have been able to relate all of my interests to some aspect of policy.

Who is your favorite president? Abraham Lincoln.

Do you (still) like Ike? Yeah, of course!

Where do you keep your Ike pin? On my backpack.

If you could take a selfie with one political figure, who would it be? Leonardo DiCaprio – who I’m considering a political figure given his role in United Nations as a Messenger on Peace and Climate Change. I think he would take a great selfie!

Student Spotlights

December 15, 2014
by

Kathryn Thompson

Ike’s Anvil is excited to showcase some of the great students we have on campus!

Pleas send any nominations to Kathryn Thompson at thomka06@gettysburg.edu

Immigration: What’s happening now and what is yet to come?

December 3, 2014
by

Victoria Perez-Zetune

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” President Obama challenges Congress and our nation on Thursday November 20, 2014 when he made his announcement about his plan for immigration[1].

June 2012, President Barack Obama originally passed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This allowed individuals that arrived under the age of 31 before 2007 that met other background checks and requirements to obtain a worker’s permit, license, and relief from deportation[2]. This program caused great controversy, and Congress felt the president had overstepped his power, but Congress continued to fail to act. In 2013, the U.S. Senate successfully passed a bipartisan immigration bill. Unfortunately, once the bill arrived to the House of Representatives, the bill died without a vote. President Obama once again urges and reminds Congress that a passed bill would replace his new executive order[3].

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gave relief to approximately 1.2 million undocumented youths, but the new announcement is predicted to cover 5 million individuals[4]. President Obama’s announced defined three main components that will be addressed. The first is an increase in border patrol. Attempting to further diminish illegal entrances into the United States, additional resources will be allocated to the border and to ensure rapid return to those caught. The second component is facilitating opportunities for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to remain the in country. Allowing high-skill workers to remain in the United States would fill vacant positions in our existing workforce with people that have the training as well as create jobs with new business created by these entrepreneurs. Finally, the President plans to “deal responsibly” with the undocumented immigrants in the United States. This means the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the inclusion of parents of citizen children for undocumented individuals who arrived before 20101.

Controversy over President Obama’s new announcement once again has occurred. The country is split over the decision. Only 45% of Americans find it acceptable that the president acted alone on immigration according to a Quinnipiac survey, but 68% of people disagree that the government should shutdown again over immigration4. It is up to Congress what happens next. Defunding the program is not an option despite the rumors claiming it is a possibility. Fees by users fund the program and Citizenship and Immigration Services would continue operating regardless of a government shutdown[5]. Congress is due to pass a new spending bill by December 12 or the government will stop all operations again. Even though this will not impact the new immigration plans, a government shutdown is a worry among Americans. Immigration, also, has not been resolved; this just a temporary solution. President Obama’s actions have not led to citizenship for anyone and issues surrounding unaccompanied minors from Central America seeking refuge persist. Furthermore, President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration could vanish as his presidency ends. Congress must unite to permanently address immigration and more urgently the upcoming budget.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/transcript-obamas-immigration-speech/2014/11/20/14ba8042-7117-11e4-893f-86bd390a3340_story.html

[2] http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30042847

[4] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/11/25/americans-split-on-obamas-immigration-action-but-firmly-oppose-a-shutdown/

[5] http://thehill.com/policy/finance/224837-appropriations-panel-defunding-immigration-order-impossible

Sports Betting: State or Federal Issue?

November 24, 2014
by

Erica Paul

Constitutionally, legislation surrounding gambling is supposed to be left to the determination of the states. As a condition of the Federal Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, the States should be allowed to have “primary responsibility for determining what forms of gambling can legally take place in their borders.”[1] The role of the Federal government in the issue is to protect states from other states interfering with their gambling policies, and to represent the national interests as a whole. Other important legislation was the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992, which essentially prohibited states from having sports betting in their state. [2]

Sports’ betting is the most recent topic in gambling. The divide between the authority of the states and the federal government is clearly shown as the NBA puts pressure on Congress to make states legalize some form of sports betting. NBA commissioner Adam Silver advocates a “national law” that “allows states to authorize betting on professional sports.” [1] Nevertheless, Silver recognizes that it would be necessary to have severe regulations and technological precautions. Examples of such precautions are “minimum-age verification measures, geo-blocking technology,” as well as “mechanisms to exclude people with gambling problems.” [2]

The current state of the legislation of sports betting is that four states, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Delaware, allow it. A referendum was voted on by the people of New Jersey to approve it, but there have been some complications in the court. Governor Chris Christie allowed for sports betting at “casinos and racetracks,” but organizations such as the NCAA and other sports leagues are fighting it. [2]

Personally, I do not think that sports betting is a great idea. Despite that, since some states have already passed laws allowing it, it should be nationally allowed. The federal government should “create a federal framework that allows” all states individuals the ability to bet on sports. [3] Individual states will lose money, as their residents will go other places to bet on sports if they really desire too. In addition, illegal sports betting is a thriving underground business with no regulation at all, accumulating a possible $400 billion each year. [3] Also, Adam Silver’s description of how to regulate sports betting seems too intricate to be feasible. He describes finding a way to prevent gambling addicts from betting on sports, but it would be unconstitutional to prevent someone from doing something they want too. Minimum-age verification measures would be extremely difficult to implement. Ultimately, although I agree that sports betting should be legal, Adam Silver’s precautions seemed to be too involved to use realistically. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see where gambling, as an economic option for many states, will head. Many states have legal casinos, a whole lottery system, and few even have options for legal online betting. Going forward, it is hard to say whether or gambling of this nature will become universal and regular in our country. We will have to wait and see how the federal government responds.

[1] http://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/nba-commish-adam-silver-sports-betting-needs-federal-solution/

[2] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/3001

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/opinion/nba-commissioner-adam-silver-legalize-sports-betting.html?_r=0

Lessons from Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2012)

November 19, 2014
by

Robert Shaw Bridges  

When we take up the mantle of cultural critique, what do we expect is the result? This is a question that philosophers and historians have long debated, and will likely remain unsettled until history provides us with an answer, sometimes one soaked in blood. From 1965-66, Indonesia erupted when a failed coup d’état gave way to the violent purge of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) by paramilitary youth organizations, among them the Pancasila Youth. After the establishment of the New Order in Indonesia under the military dictatorship of Suharto, participants in these mass killings were celebrated as heroes, and the murders of close to 500,000 Indonesians became officially sanctioned acts in wartime. With the resignation of Suharto in 1998 and his death ten years later, the people have become more receptive to discourse over the narrative. In 2012, evidence for this openness received international acclaim with the release of the documentary film The Act of Killing, by Joshua Oppenheimer. The film received the 2014 BAFTA award for best documentary among other awards and nominations, and through underground channels has reached millions of Indonesians. The story is shocking: a satirical representation of the spectacle of death, in which the killers become the narrators. The film’s protagonist is the former movie theater gangster Anwar Congo who claims to have personally killed 1,000 people in the purge. Throughout the film, the Anwar and his compatriots from the ol’ days are challenged to reenact their memories of carnage to the tune of their favorite Hollywood blockbusters.

Whether dressed as film noire gangsters or wearing a cowboy hat and pretending to be John Wayne, these seemingly unrepentant killers are asked to convey their crimes against humanity to a worldwide audience. The shocking message these erstwhile movie-stars deliver until the end is eerily reminiscent of that chilling maxim that motivated the Third Reich, “Might Makes Right.” The viewer is made aware throughout the film of the clear continuities between these fascist psychologies separated by time and space, familiar to all readers of Klaus Theweleit’s Male Fantasies. Several leaders of the paramilitary group who decades ago were burning homes and dumping bodies in the rivers of the Indonesian tropics, were filmed sharing a laugh or a snide comment about a woman’s dress or jovially talking about the ecstasy that comes with raping their victims. The film also makes clear that the dominant historical narrative in Indonesia condones this social praise of past acts of violence. Politicians and leaders of the paramilitary youth told them they were not just gangsters, but that they were “free men” who did a great service to their country. The fact that they were able to commit murder with impunity, as one former paramilitary executioner exclaimed, was proof that their crimes were sanctioned, and by extension justified. If the State did not provide them with enough damning propaganda to vindicate their consciences, Anwar and his friends found ways to persuade themselves of their own innocence. “They have to accept it,” said Safit Pardede, one of Anwar’s accomplices, “Maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better, but it works: I’ve never felt guilty, never been depressed, never had nightmares.”

Anwar, however, was not so lucky. Toward the end of the film, while watching the footage of his own reenacted scenes of carnage, Anwar shows signs of disturbance, of genuine disgust at his and his friends’ glorification of violence. At one point, he even becomes physically ill at the sight where he tied his victims to a pole and strangled his them with a metal wire. When asked by Oppenheimer how he felt after playing the victim of one of his crimes, he responds, “But I can feel it, Josh. Really, I feel it. Or have I sinned.” As a viewer, these moments give us hope that even if these men were ruthless killers, somehow they can regain their humanity. If they only realize what they did was wrong, we believe they are redeemable. This may be true. But is it the only lesson we should take away from Oppenheimer’s film? Perhaps these moments undermine the very message that should resonate with us. Ordinary people, who displayed no outward signs of psychosis, were capable of committing heinous crimes, and experienced no dissonance between their violent acts and their value system. They deluded themselves and were deluded by their social and political institutions into believing what they did was right, and today, they consciously suppress their suffering because their society approved their behavior, or perhaps they believe society forgave them for it. Regardless, Pardede reminds the viewer, the carnage has ended and the history is written and the victims just “have to accept it.”

Should we seek to redeem the killers? Or should we understand our very human capacity for and conditioning to violence? A similar phenomenon occurs in what many students on college campuses are now calling “rape cultures.” Fascism is not just an ideology; it is a state of mind, and an aesthetic that saturates culture at multiple levels. Certainly as political actors, the dominant narratives do not always sway us, nor do we accept the critique that we are all susceptible to the kind of violent ideologies that fed the Nazi regime in the thirties, or the state-sanctioned genocide in Rwanda. Through films like The Act of Killing, we seek to reconcile the humanity of the killers like Anwar with our own concept of humanity. We try to vindicate the part of them that we recognize and love in ourselves, rather than condemn the cultural mores that led to their downfall. Yet it may have been necessary to show the audience Anwar’s humanity to truly equate us with the madness of the social and cultural vectors that ultimately gave him the license to kill. What audiences should recognize is these men did not commit murder in a vacuum. There were contributive vectors, ways of fetishizing violence that were sanctioned, violence that many students in the United States believe is still sanctioned in our society, whether it is celebrated in public or reveled in behind a closed bedroom door.

Environmental Progress and Eased Tensions at the APEC Summit

November 18, 2014
by

Catherine Nardi

The influx of Republican candidates to Congress has America wondering which successes, if any, lie ahead during the remainder of President Obama’s final term in office.

However, as of November 9th, the President was concerned with other important issues. President Obama departed for China soon after the midterm elections to attend the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. On November 12th, the APEC summit concluded with what President Obama called a “historic agreement” [1] between the United States and China. The deal would include cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions “by nearly one-third from 2005 levels by 2025,” and by 2030, China would “peak it’s carbon emissions” and “increase the use of non-fossil fuels to 20%.” [2] As President Obama said, the agreement “is an ambitious goal, but it is an achievable goal.” [2] The agreement was the result of months of debate and planning, but is already being recognized as a remarkable attempt to target climate change.

The two nations have been at odds in recent years, especially as the US was suspected of crafting plans to insincerely “pivot” [1] their attention to Asia to ensure a political presence there. Tensions were exacerbated due to accusations that President Obama supported pro-democratic protestors in Hong Kong earlier this year [2]. Meanwhile, U.S. officials and media sources have repeatedly criticized China’s stance on human rights, inciting further discord.

Although the government received backlash for focusing on Asian interests, such focus may eventually progress relations with China. China is one of our strongest allies, and maintaining civil relations with them is crucial to our nation’s success. The “pledged cooperation” [2] on the climate change agreement marks a step forward in Sino-American relations.

Curbing emissions and improving air quality is a hot topic in foreign politics, particularly in big cities like Beijing and Paris where the air quality is dangerously unhealthy. It is an issue that requires action and is almost guaranteed to garner Congressional support. Americans that want to improve the current condition of the environment exist in both parties and thus both parties are open to taking action. This issue is one of the few that has the potential to get through Congress and through the Oval Office successfully now that the republicans hold the majority in Congress and a democrat remains in the White House.

The remainder of President Obama’s term in office is dependent upon his foreign success; it’s possible that his involvement in the APEC agreement will be one of his last notable accomplishments for the rest of his presidency. This past fall would have been a struggle for any President, having to handle continued threats from Isis and dealing with the Ebola pandemic. However, President Obama has little time left to make an indelible mark on history. Perhaps he has the opportunity, with this agreement and other future initiatives, to make environmental progress his legacy.

[1] http://time.com/3577820/apec-climate-change-barack-obama-xi-jinping-greenhouse-gas/

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/12/politics/us-china-summit/index.html?hpt=po_t3