Kelsey Meisch ’17
Is party alignment falling out of perspective? Governor Chris Christie reclaimed his title as New Jersey’s governor on Wednesday night, winning re-election as a Republican in a traditionally blue state. Does this mean that New Jersey’s dominant Democratic Party is losing its base? No.
New Jersey did not vote along party lines, but instead on the quality of the candidate. Christie proved his leadership capabilities in reaction to last year’s Hurricane Sandy, a storm which caused New Jersey to declare a “state of emergency.” Christie, in his pursuit of emergency recovery funds for the state, even took some heat from his own party. During the 2012 presidential election more attacks followed when, with Mitt Romney as the GOP candidate, the Governor sought President Obama’s help in securing disaster. However, Christie remained firm in his pursuit to be “Jersey-Strong” and “Restore the Shore.” In the article, “Hurricane Sandy Blows Chris Christie to the Top of the Polls” in US News, Ross Baker, political science professor at Rutgers University stated: “The aggressiveness with which [the Governor] stood up for the state will certainly make him as a decisive leader.” This perception of Christie definitely showed in Wednesday’s election results. The incumbent governor won re-election with over 60 percent of New Jersey’s vote. Of that Christie acquired 56 percent of the female vote, 51 percent of the Hispanic vote, and 1/3 of all Democrats and Liberals. In New Jersey only 39 percent of voters hold a favorable impression of the GOP, yet Christie still won due to the quality of credentials.
Christie’s re-election definitely puts him in the running as the GOP presidential nominee in the 2016 election. He may just be the kind of ‘electable’ candidate the party needs for it to recover after the government shutdown. As Perry Bacon Jr. said in his article “The rise of Chris Christie and other lessons from Tuesday’s results,” Christie may have won against a lightly-regarded Democrat Senator Barbara Buono and not a more fierce or well-known candidate, however Christie goes to show how a Republican can carry a democratic state.
A serious question remains in Christie as a presidential candidate—can he survive his own party’s critiques? Liked by the media and by the people for his “larger-than-life” personality, Christie can raise money in short periods of time; however, is he the candidate the Republican Party is looking to support? Some conservatives feel Christie’s ability to work with Democrats so comfortably may be a warning sign he will “sell out” conservatives, and in the end they doubt his loyalty to the party. Critics also disapprove of Christie receiving money from Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act that the Republican Party fiercely is against. Additionally, while Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul advocate their conservative natures, Christie seeks a more moderate path, which may in turn hurt his support from Republican constituents. Further still, Christie has been known for his high temper. Will these aspects of Chris Christie lose him Republican support?
Other questions regarding Christie’s presidential bid revolve around his pro-life and anti-gay marriage stances. These issues will definitely be brought up if the Governor seeks candidacy in the 2016 presidential campaign.
Not all Republicans have associated a negative connotation with Christie. Some admire his hands-on approach to solving issues. National Republican Committeeman for Massachusetts Ron Kaufman stated, “Any time you get a Republican running in a state like New Jersey, and running really strong like his is, it’s a signal that everyone in our party takes notice of and respects. Chris Christie is someone that will be a leader of our party for the next three or four years”.
Governor Chris Christie’s roots in bipartisanship can only help him in a country torn by a partisan leadership that has led to serious stalemate like the recent government shutdown. As Alexandra Jaffe stated in her article, “Christie starts down 2016 path,” Christie’s re-election has brought him closer to becoming a contender in the 2016 election. It’ll be interesting to follow the long-term impacts from his new term, if only to see any consistent popularity among Democratic and Republican constituents.
Amy Whitehouse ’15
Social justice and sports are not often associated with one another. Despite their seemingly separate entities, a heated debate has ensued right in our nation’s capital. The National Football League (NFL) is the world’s most lucrative sports organization, enjoying extensive success and influence in American culture. The Washington Redskins are no exception to this, as they are valued at over 1.7 billion dollars.
The Redskins have been in the spotlight recently, especially this past week, for something unrelated to the team’s performance. The team’s name and mascot, has been increasingly petitioned to be changed to something less offensive. “Redskin” is defined in the dictionary as a derogatory term used to describe an American Indian. For this reason, over two thirds of sports organizations from high school to professional levels have dropped American Indian mascots.
The crusade against the Washington D.C. team has been spearheaded by several American Indian activists who have effectively turned the issue into a national conversation. President Obama, a self-declared sports fan, recently weighed in, saying that if he were the owner of the team, he would seriously consider changing the mascot. Onenida Nation Chief Operating Officer Peter Carmen explains that the “r word” has “destructive effects on native peoples” and the NFL team’s use of it “promotes a racially-defined slur”. As long-time American Indian activist Suzan Shown Harko points out, this change will not come easily,
“You’re not just dealing with the one Washington team” she explains to The New York Times, “It’s one monolith after another laden with money and the power it represents”.
Some of the press has even taken a stance on the subject. This week the major west-coast newspaper The Sanfransisco Chronicle has decided to drop its use of the name, and will refer to the team as “Washington”. The newspaper says the decision is in conjunction with its policy of not using racial slurs. The Chronicle aligned with several other publications such as Slate, Mother Jones, and The Kansas City Star.
One man with the money and the power to do so remains the major defender of the Redskins name and mascot. Owner Daniel Snyder has continually and publically spoken out about his vow to keep the name, calling it “a badge of honor” for the team.
This past week, the debate has continued to progress. On this past Wednesday, Snyder met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the issue. Snyder did this just one day before a scheduled meeting between American Indian representatives, and Goodell and his staff. Snyder claimed to be “traveling” and unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.
On Thursday, several leaders from Onedia Nation met with NFL executives to request NFL-issued sanctions against Snyder for conduct detrimental to the league. Ray Halbritter, an Oneida representative, said he and his group were disappointed by the NFL’s defense of the use of the name. The NFL issued a statement saying they listened respectfully and discussed the views of Onedia Nation, and “the meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue to facilitate listening and learning” – Though the NFL may be learning Snyder is unwilling to compromise.
As the protests grow louder it will be interesting to see how many people need to be moved by offense for any action to be taken, by either the NFL or the Redskins franchise. Washington, D.C. is at the heart of our country’s policy making. How important is political correctness in the home of politics? Native Americans are often an uncounted minority in this country, and many people’s exposure to Native Americans is what they see in the media. Redskin’s advertisements, jerseys, and other paraphernalia adorned with the fierce American Indian mascot paints a very specific portrayal of the diverse conglomerate of tribes. Arguments are being made on both sides of the issue. Petitions have been drawn, and even a statement by the President himself. Though federal legislation will probably not be the determinant in resolving this, the issue is important in forming America’s larger identity.
By Kelsey Chapman ‘15
German president Angela Merkel’s mobile phone has dominated international news this week amid allegations that it was the target of extensive surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). This new development is just one of many brought about by the aptly named “Snowden effect”. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has created more than just domestic issues for the United States; the secrets he has revealed have caused diplomatic repercussions across the globe.
A BBC article written late last week outlines just how far the “Snowden effect” has spread. That Wednesday evening the White House planned on hosting an event for Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff cancelled the event and her visit to the United States in protest over the apparent wide-reaching surveillance operation undertaken by the NSA. The Brazilian President has joined a club of international leaders whose personal communications have allegedly been surveilled by the agency. Just last Thursday James Bell of The Guardian accused the NSA of monitoring the phone calls of 35 world leaders. Worse yet, the article alleges that the NSA was given the phone numbers by an official in a separate U.S. government department. This revelation comes on top of the German diplomatic debacle, the worst between the two countries in living memory.
The allegations against the NSA made by German magazine Der Spiegel are especially disastrous for the United States, considering President Obama’s close relationship with Merkel. President Obama is reported to have told the German leader that he wasn’t aware of her phone being bugged. But as Roger Cohen, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times put it in his recent article “The Handyüberwachung Disaster,” “The White House’s assurance to her that the United States ‘is not’ and ‘will not’ monitor her communications was tantamount to confirmation through omission that in the past it has.”
Angela Merkel isn’t the only European leader who has expressed outrage over allegations of surveillance by the National Security Agency. Early last week reports in the French newspaper Le Monde alleged that the NSA had intercepted French phone traffic on a massive scale in the past. More and more revelations on NSA surveillance were made apparent to EU leaders as they met for a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday of last week. Adding to a scandal that now includes France, Germany, Mexico and Brazil, the latest allegations against the NSA were published by Spain’s El Mundo newspaper. The publication reported that the agency collected tens of millions of Spanish citizen’s phone calls. News reports of NSA spying have dominated the EU summit in Brussels as many leaders expressed concern over the allegations as well as a growing mistrust of the United States.
Europe isn’t the only part of the world that has expressed growing dissatisfaction with the United States. Pivoting to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has been in the news more recently over their decision to decline an offered seat on the UN Security Council. Riyadh explained their decision as an intended message for the U.S., rather than the UN. Their grievances include President Obama’s failure to intervene in the conflict in Syria, his tactics in solving the Palestinian issue, and his increasing dialogue with Iran. Journalist Jeff Jacoby in his Boston Globe opinion piece “Saudi Arabia’s message to Obama” explained that, “Saudi Arabia’s refusal to take its seat on the Security Council had much less to do with the United Nations than with calling attention to Riyadh’s alarm and frustration at how its most important Western ally has been acting.” Other traditional allies of the United States in the Middle East such as Israel, Jordan and Turkey have expressed similar concerns with U.S. foreign policy in the region.
It looks like Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” will have to take a back seat as he struggles to maintain traditionally strong relationships with increasingly dissatisfied allies all over the world. Country by country, diplomatic concerns will have to be addressed if the United States wants to keep its ties with countries, especially the likes of Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Brazil. Whether or not these recent incidents will cause only brief embarrassment or longer-term diplomatic damage is hard to tell. So far frustrations have only been expressed with angry rhetoric, but the United States risks more concrete political and economic consequences if it fails to address the concerns of its closest allies. This is not a risk that the country should take lightly.
Jenna Rush ’14
These past weeks headlines across the nation concentrated on the government shutdown and Congress’ inability to reach an agreement on appropriating funds for the 2014 fiscal year. While everyone’s eyes werefocused on the shutdown, other newsworthy events around the nation went unnoticed. The following are four of the biggest stories that got left behind:
1. Janet Yellen was nominated to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve
On October 9th President Obama announced that he was nominating Janet Yellen to serve as the next chair of the Federal Reserve. Should the Senate confirm her, Mrs. Yellen will be the first woman to hold the. Her confirmation is likely to go through smoothly. Yellen currently serves as the Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman.
2. Malala Yousafzai visited the White House
On October 11th Malala Yousafzai met privately with President Barak Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia Obama. Yousafzai is the 16-year-old Pakistani student who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out in support of the right of girls to attend school. President Obama and his family wanted to thank her for her inspiring work for girls’ education. During the visit Yousafzai expressed her concerns that U.S. drone attacks against targets in Pakistan are fueling terrorism. She, like others around the world, sees’ innocent people killed in these attacks, breeding resentment among the Pakistani public. She encouraged the President to refocus issues on education.
3. Medal of Honor awarded to Captain William D. Swenson
On October 15th, President Obama awarded Captain Swenson the military’s highest honor. Captain Swenson received the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during an ambush in Afghanistan on September 8th, 2009. During the ambush Captain Swenson repeatedly called for air and artillery support, yet recieved none Despite not receiving any aid, Captain Swenson valiantly fought to save his comrades in the middle of a storm of bullets. He is the sixth living person to receive the Medal of Honor for service in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
4. The overshadowing of the rollout of Obamacare
One of the more ironic aspects of the government shutdown was that it overshadowed the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (widely known as Obamacare). Republicans in particular missed the spotlight opportunity to fault the program for the website glitches that hindered thousands of people as they tried to explore the online insurance marketplace at healthcare.gov. During a time when Americans should have been asking tough questions about the program, news outlets focused instead on the shutdown. Many Democrats argue that the glitches in the online program prove how many Americans want insurance. Despite perceived shortcomings and achievements during the rollout, the fact of the matter is that such issues were put on the backburner due to the shutdown.
Amelia Smith ’17
Yesterday morning shortly after 7 a.m. a loud “pop” was heard at Sparks Middle School in Nevada. Soon after teachers and students began running for their lives as yet another school shooting commenced. At the end of the day two boys were sent to the hospital in critical condition, while a teacher and the shooter were killed. The Reno Gazette-Journal quoted Kyle Nucum, a student at Sparks, recount how he had seen the teacher Mike Landsberry tell the assailant to put the gun down right before the student fired, killing him instantly.
With every shooting a new debate over legislation on gun control arises. Gun control laws vary from State to State. For example, in the District of Columbia would-be gun owners must not only obtain a permit clearing them to own a firearm, but as well have this permit present to purchase the weapon, register it as such, and undergo a background check as well as testing. Further still, there is a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines of more than a 10 rounds. On the other hand, in my home state of Florida none of these regulations exist. However, after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case ruling this year, Florida lawmakers are beginning to scrutinize the Stand Your Ground Laws, gun control regulation more broadly, as well as the role of mental illness and it relation to gun violence. During its last legislative session a law was passed in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate that prohibits the purchase of a firearm by someone suffering from a mental illness.
Most recently the Supreme Court declined to hear a case upholding Maryland’s standing firearm’s legislation. Currently residents of Maryland must demonstrate reasonable cause for a permit to carry a handgun in public. This is in accordance with laws in California, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, and Massachusetts Maryland has also passed new statutes, in affect on October 1, 2013. These new laws ban over 45 types of assault weapons and require fingerprinting of those with gun licenses.
A logical response to a series of mass shootings would be to demand for tighter gun control. However, according to David Sherfinski of the Washington Times a recent poll shows that less than 50% of Americans are in favor of stricter gun control laws. This is a nearly 10% drop from the same poll taken after the Newton, Connecticut shooting. National Rifle Association spokesmen Andrew Arulanandam said , “I think [the American people] understand and they agree with the NRA that in order to reduce crime and reduce the instances of mass shootings, we need to fix our broken mental health system, we need to increase prosecutions of our violent crimes and we need to provide a blanket of security for children in our schools.”
On the other side, The Philadelphia Experiment blogger Solomon Jones argues that we live in a new world and must adapt to what is happening around us. He argues that had the Newton, Connecticut shooter used a knife or club he would not have been able to inflict nearly as much damage as he did with his mother’s Bushmaster Rifle.
I agree with Arulanandam’s statement that mental health is the underlining issue with all of the public shootings we have seen this year. Our mental health system needs to be reevaluated. Unfortunately, mental health is one of those issues that no one wants to talk address, as it is so complicated. I also feel the need for national laws regarding gun control. I believe in the Second Amendment, but don’t see a need for assault weapons or high-capacity magazines to be available for purchase. Solomon Jones argued in his article that the founding fathers most likely did not see their muskets evolving into the AK 47’s of today. I am in favor of mandatory background checks in order to obtain a gun license.
It seems to me that public shootings are becoming a part of our everyday lives. It’s almost as if one occurs every month. What do I find the most distressing? That I do not find myself shocked when I hear about these mass shootings. How many people must die in such a way before our lawmakers feel moved to pass legislation regarding gun control?
Anika Schneider ’15
For the past two weeks the country has been plagued. Not by what many Republicans fear, that is, too much government, but rather the partial shutdown of the Federal Government. Many controversy and blame lie on both sides of the aisle when dealing with the US Government, but in this case it seems to be the general consensus that it was the Republican Party’s fault and more specifically the Tea Party and more radical factions the party. For example, in the article for MSNBC by Ari Melbar, “Why the Republicans Lost”, he blames the Republican leadership because a majority of the Congress opposed a shutdown. He also faults House Speaker John Boehner for never holding a vote one a clean bill before the deadline for funding the government expired. Melbar claims that if Boehner had held the vote that 200 House Democrats would have voted for it in addition to 17 House Republicans, which would have held the majority and avoided a shutdown. Melbar therefore believes that Boehner took a completely avoidable shutdown and made it unavoidable. The article goes on to state that a “clean funding” bill’s overall spending would have been much closer to what Republicans wanted than what the Democrats had proposed, spurring on the Tea Party’s demands. However, this seems to have been a serious strategic misstep for the Tea Party. In the past President Obama had been more willing to compromised, but this did not mean he would or could compromise in regards to the Affordable Care Act. This piece of domestic policy commonly holds Obama’s name when referred to as “Obamacare”. There was no way the President could sign a bill reversing this policy, nor would the Democratic Senate pass such a bill.
John B. Judis, writing for “The New Republic”, calls the shutdown “one of the worst crises in American history.” Judis views the shutdown as a void in the philosophical social contract between the government and its people. Believing that these extreme rightest, those responsible for the shutdown, are a reactionary movement rather than a true conservative movement, Judis said this was displayed in their choice to dismantle the federal government – this may be true. In the time that the government was shutdown many people failed to notice that Obamacare’s exchanges technically flopped. This would have immensely helped rightist’s’ claims were everyone not so distracted by the shutdown. Ironically, where this failure should be causing the public to lose confidence in the law, at least according to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, since the government shutdown there has been a seven-point increase in the popularity of the law! This combined irony seems to support Judis’s claim that this was a reactionary government shutdown rather than a logical political strategy to move conservative politics forward.
From an opposing perspective Erick Erickson, who wrote “Obamacare or the Debt Ceiling” for RedState, argues that the GOP is winning the shutdown. He trusts that when people turn on the news they will come to blame the Democrats for the shutdown. Erickson believes that people will view Obamacare as the reason why veterans can’t tour their own memorials and why cancer treatment is not taking place at NIH. Indeed, he considers it to be clear that the GOP is holding up well while putting Democrats in an awkward position.
I believe that not only are the Democrats in an awkward position, but that everyone is in an “awkward” position. It seems to me that when the rest of the world watches the leader of the free world shutdown its own government every American is left in an awkward position. This might be especially true for those furloughed workers who just discovered that they’re nonessential. Certainly this is true for the 9 million mothers and infants who were put at risk when funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children was stopped. Whether your opinion is that the shutdown was Obamcare’s fault, the Tea Party’s or a strategic effort, the shutdown was indeed awkward, having had real effects on real people who depend on our Federal Government.
How would you celebrate your 123rd birthday? Maybe with fireworks or a huge party with friends and family and of course lots of presents? Well, today happens to be the late but incredibly great President Dwight David Eisenhower’s 123rd birthday so we’d like to tell you a bit about his life as well as share a couple facts we bet you didn’t know about the 34th president of the United States!
One of seven kids, Ike made it to West Point and in spite of all his exploits, he graduated at the top of his class. All the while, of course, he was busy building connections and networking with others along the way, knowing then that he would spend his life serving his country.
That service included holding down the fort on the home front during World War I and playing a major role in World War II – President Roosevelt appointed Eisenhower to the post of Supreme Allied Commander and he oversaw the successful Normandy invasion known forever as “D-Day.” Not surprisingly he emerged from the war a national hero, was begged to run for president by both parties, and eventually capitulated and won on the Republican ticket in the 1952 election. Eisenhower was reelected to a second term and during those eight years he led the country to new heights in the post-war era.
After his presidency, Ike and his beloved wife Mamie, who he fell in love with at first sight after his West Point days, retired to their farm in Gettysburg and lived the retired life to the fullest; indulging in countless games of golf, oil painting, and hosting dinner parties. But, Eisenhower was called upon by Presidents Nixon and Kennedy and they and the visited the Eisenhower estate frequently.
The nation mourned the day when Ike passed away; March 28th will be forever etched in our memory. A memorial service was conducted in the National Cathedral soon after but Ike had wanted to be buried next to his first son who had passed away at age three, and rests in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas to this day.
Quick facts about the man whose name embodies the American essence:
- Ike’s parent’s were Jehovah’s witnesses and extreme pacifists, making his choice to enter a military academy that much more surprising.
- While at West Point, he failed to make the soccer team which he later cited as one of his greatest disappointments, but while on the football team he played against the future Hall of Famer and Olympian Jim Thorpe.
- He was a man who knew what he wanted; as soon as he laid eyes on Mamie Geneva Doud, Ike knew she was the woman he would marry.
- Eisenhower led the charge in organizing the Nuremburg trials and was responsible for much of the justice that was rendered.
- He is one of only five men in the history of the United States military to have been awarded the fifth general’s star.
- After returning home from WWII, Ike served as the president of Columbia University as well as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
- Eisenhower was the first president in the 20th century to have won the presidential office without ever having held a previous political position.
- Ike was not one to twiddle his thumbs while in office; a few things he was responsible for included ending the New Deal Coalition, deposing the leader of Iran, formulating the “domino” theory, creating the International Highway System, launching the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- He was an avid golf player and even had a putting green installed in the White House for when he just needed to hit something!
- Camp David was named in honor of his grandson, David Eisenhower.
This great man will live on in our memories’ forever, and what he did for our country can never fully be repaid. After all, he was the only president in the 20th century to be bald, and how can we knock that? Happy Birthday, Mr. President, from all your admirers of the year 2013 – hope we’ve made you proud!