Monday, December 06, 2004

Last Post

I enjoyed the topic of this class. I have always been interested in politics, even when I was younger. I think that understanding the issues and taking a more in depth look at the candidates makes a person more suited to vote among other things. Looking at the sources that the news is coming from and examining the tactics used by the reporters was also helpful because it makes it easier to know which sources are reliable and which are not. I wish that we could have talked more about local politics instead of focusing on only the national level. Although that may seem like the most important part, it is also the hardest part to change. Focusing on the local level allows people to make actual changes in government because less people turn out for local elections and it is much easier to let your voice be heard and feel like you are making a difference moreso than just voting in an election where millions of other people are voting. In local politics, one voice CAN make a difference and I think it is an important part of government that we overlooked. This class made me go back and solidify some of my political beliefs. The class discussions made me go back and find more information on my own to think about better reasons and evidence to support my opinions. This class was very thought provoking and showed that young people do care about politics and what is going on in the world and are motivated enough to want to make a difference.

Election 2008

I read an interesting article from a newspaper about the election for 2008. It was all about how John McCain is setting himself up very well for the next election by his actions from the election this year. He defended John Kerry with the Swift Boat Veteran adds because he also had his war survice scrutinized by the Bush team in the 2000 primary. McCain also supported Bush for president showing support for the republican party. McCain also gave some critisims about Bush to the news media. He stayed between the two candidates, not leaning more one way making it so whoever one the election, he would not come out to look bad. I think this will help him if he decides to run for president again in 2008. I think he would have a great chance of succeeding if did choose to run again. McCain, unlike many other candidates runs a clean campaign. Thinking back to the 2000 primaries, he stated that he would not make personal attacks on Bush and he stuck with that, even when the Bush campaign said he opposed helping military veterans. McCain is also a moderate republican. He does not make all his decisions based on what is right for the republican party. He also doesnt try to legislate using religion and making all of his decisions based on the bible. McCain is a good choice for everyone, not just conservatives. I had the change to listen to McCain speak at a campaign event over the summer and he was an excellent speaker. I really hope John McCain decides to run in 2008, he has set himself up well for it and I know that I would vote for him.

Oil for Food and the French

How deep does the French connection in the Oil for Food scandal? Some suggest that people as high as Chirac could be tied to the scandal and even that the French sold weapons to Iraq on the eve of the US led invasion. So would this improve people’s opinion of the US if countries like France are exposed and found to have been involved in the scandal since they were major opponents of the US led invasion into Iraq in the UN Security Council votes. There’s one thing that’s for sure, that the next few weeks of months in which this scandal unfolds will have a major effect on the world as we could see things from the fall of the UN to the decreditation of important leaders, and hopefully an increase in US popularity. We all know that since the US invaded Iraq our public opinion in the world has gone down as many said we were abusing our power and doing something that shouldn’t be done without the support of the UN. Also, we all know that the UN has typically been considered a very reputable group. But if votes are for sale and someone like Saddam can make billions of dollars off of a program that’s started by the UN and things aren’t changed how can we listen to the UN. Now the worry is that without the UN then the only peace keeping force in the world will become the US since it’s the only super power, but there could be other ways. We can only wait and see how the scandal rolls out.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140478,00.html

Alabama book banning

In an interesting story, an Alabama legislator has proposed banning books from public and university libraries that have a gay character in them unless they’re depraved. While one person doesn’t represent the entire states, it’s sad that an elected official would suggest something of this sort. This comes as there are many debates over gays in the US right now in politics. The representative said that the purpose was to keep children from a homosexual agenda because it would ban the state from buying any books that recognized or promoted homesexuality. We could only hope that the state and our country is beyond this type of abuse to gays as this idea. We will see what happens with this bill in the future, but the idea behind this is ridiculous. In many states this year Amendments were passed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, in a new beginning of the battle that will ensue for a long time to come. People really need to get over their homophobia and realize that if they’re not gay then why does it matter if other people are. It’s not like they’re going to rub off on you. A child who reads about a gay character who is treated normal or even well is not going to make that child want to be gay. This Alabama representative needs to get over his homophobia and this bill needs to be shot down before it goes anywhere.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140480,00.html

Voting issues in Ukraine

In the Ukraine there have recently been some problems with the political system. It has been shown that the winner of the recent election falsified many votes for himself and a revote has been called for. Many protesters have been in Kiev for over a week in protests in which they hope to help pass some amendments that would hopefully make the next election more accurate of what the people really voted for. Part of the problem is the winner of the last election was the man who is supported by Russian Prime Minister Putin. The protests come as the election is only three weeks away. The new election comes as the Court in the Ukraine made a monumental decision to have a new election because of the corruption in the first. Some people are saying that this election will determine the fate of the Ukraine for a long time because it will decide what direction they will head in. This is why this new election will be so important to the country. At first when the corruption scandals arose, the US called for an investigation into the corruption. This seems obvious as the US has always tried to be an example of democracy and tried to make sure the people are fairly represented without corruption on the level of voting. Some people criticize that a foreign leader, such as Putin shouldn’t be supporting a candidate over others because it can create bias.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140528,00.html

Liberals not moral?

Is it true that liberals are just as moral as conservatives? The likely answer is yes. Many people fail to see the connections between liberal beliefs and religion because they’re blinded by the two major issues at hand right now in the moral platform, gay marriage and abortion. The truth is that liberals have many of the same domestic values as the church. The liberals have been the ones who want to help the poor people, who establish groups to help out people who are having problems, and the people who want more intervention. To me this sounds a lot like the role the church plays, so why can’t church goers side with the liberal views these days? I don’t have the answer to this question, but I can agree that it’s a gross generalization to say that liberals are out of touch on the moral platform. It just seems like the liberals, mainly the Democrats, need to reform their image to get rid of the misconceptions that are being made across the nation. Were the liberals not the ones who opposed the war? And was that not the same stance the Pope took? This is an issue raised in an article by Steven Waldman, which seems entirely correct. I mean are there really that many people in the world that would say that the Pope’s not a moral person? No. Now what can these people do to change their image. They need to change the emphasis of the issues, and change their approach to how they relate on issues. They need to create more pathos in their issues so that they can relate to the moral issues people on the same level.

Important day for Bush as Karzai will be inaugurated today

The inauguration of Karzai in Afghanistan is set for today, so is this a sign that things are going to get better. The security in the country is on the highest alert in a long time for this day with all security beefed up to make sure that nothing goes wrong. Bush sees this as an important step in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and a powerful sign in the war on terror if things go well because we all know that terrorists want to prevent this day from going well. Karzai has passed the test as he has been elected and the allegations of corruption have been put down. We can only hope that Karzai will be able to get things done. Something that isn’t mentioned a lot that needs to be fixed once there is a governing power in place is the opium problem in the country. Opium is the key proponent of the Afghan economy and Afghanistan is the number one producer of Opium in the entire world. While this is an issue to be dealt with later, it’s important that Karzai come in and be given the proper recognition, which thus far has gone well and if he continues to build his reputation in the country while keeping in faith with the US, things will likely go well for his term that he begins today. The world will be on watch today, lets hope for the best on this important day.

Now that all the talk is over, the real reasons why Kerry lost

With all the scandals that are being realized in the UN’s connection with the oil for food problem, what’s to happen to the connection between the US and the UN? The US has already gone against the UN when it made the decision to invade Iraq, somewhat hurting the effect of the UN, but this could be even worse for the organization. There are talks that Kofi Annan or a relative of him was involved in a scandal in which Saddam Hussein was making money off of the oil for food program and buying votes in the UN councils. This is detrimental to the reputation of the organization which was formed after WWII to help make the world a safer place. If the UN can’t be trusted to handle something of this level and votes of countries can be bought, how can this type of organization make decisions that affect the world? The answer is they can’t, and unless things are changed and moves made the link between the US and the UN may soon be severed. This would be a blow for the group as the US is the world’s super power and could cause others members to exit. So what’s going to happen to this group which has been a key decision maker in the world since its creation? We will see as more of the scandals are unraveled and changes are made. It has been mentioned that if Kofi Annan doesn’t step down since the scandal went on during his watch that the US will be forced to get rid of connections with the organization.

Scandal in the UN

With all the scandals that are being realized in the UN’s connection with the oil for food problem, what’s to happen to the connection between the US and the UN? The US has already gone against the UN when it made the decision to invade Iraq, somewhat hurting the effect of the UN, but this could be even worse for the organization. There are talks that Kofi Annan or a relative of him was involved in a scandal in which Saddam Hussein was making money off of the oil for food program and buying votes in the UN councils. This is detrimental to the reputation of the organization which was formed after WWII to help make the world a safer place. If the UN can’t be trusted to handle something of this level and votes of countries can be bought, how can this type of organization make decisions that affect the world? The answer is they can’t, and unless things are changed and moves made the link between the US and the UN may soon be severed. This would be a blow for the group as the US is the world’s super power and could cause others members to exit. So what’s going to happen to this group which has been a key decision maker in the world since its creation? We will see as more of the scandals are unraveled and changes are made. It has been mentioned that if Kofi Annan doesn’t step down since the scandal went on during his watch that the US will be forced to get rid of connections with the organization.

FCC in the spotlight

Sparked by the performance of Janet Jackson and a recent beginning to Monday Night Football, is the FCC cracking down too hard and creating censorship. While I can understand that there are people concerned about what’s being shown to the public, we shouldn’t be creating an environment where networks are afraid to show something because they don’t want to get fines. This really can affect the level of broadcasting and the variety on TV if the major networks are worried so much about what they show that they end up not cashing in on good ideas. This year has been an important one for this issue as the FCC has handed out its harshest penalties ever. So when is the FCC going too far in what they restrict? Is it really too much to show the back of a naked girl before Monday Night Football? The answer is too much, and the FCC needs to hold back on these crackdowns. When it gets to the point where on a related holiday, the ABC networks are afraid to show Saving Private Ryan, is when they’ve gone too far. Yes, the movie is very graphic and gory, but with the proper warnings after each commercial break and at the beginning, there’s no reason why a movie that attempts to depict to show the truths about war and help us remember those who fought in WWII is when they’ve gone too far. Currently some of the major networks are suing the FCC for the restrictions they’ve placed and for the fines, so we will see if changes can be made and free media can continue, with the old standards of show. I can only hope that we can go back to a place where some annoying moms that call to complain about what their children saw can’t have such a major effect on what I get to watch on TV.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Keep filibusters

Filibusters have been a part of the Senate since the beginning of it’s creation. A filibuster is a way for a speaker in the floor to halter a bill being passed because they believe there is something corrupt about the bill or that there’s a problem with it. Often times the speaker will not even talk about something on topic because the whole person is simply to waste time. Filibusters aren’t allowed in the House because the group is too large, but happen in the Senate. I believe that they are helpful because they allow more time for people to think about a bill before it’s voted on. This is the way it has been forever. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist believes differently. He believes that it’s simply a nuisance tool that helps the minority and that it should be removed. This reasoning is part of the reason I think it should stay because it’s important that the minority be represented, especially in a government that’s dominated by Conservatives because it’s important to have a balance of power in our government. Balance of Power and Checks and Balances are two of the most important concepts behind the creation of the U.S. government and key to it continuing to work. So why would we want to remove the filibuster, well you’ll have to ask Bill Frist that one because I don’t agree with what he’s trying to do, and I think the filibuster should be kept as a tool to be used in the Senate.

Congress lame duck session this week

For Congress, there’s not much worse news then finding out you have to come in for a lame duck session meeting when you think you finally have some time to yourself, but Congress is now in session to do something about the stalled intelligence reform bill. Some of those who oppose the bill say that they fear that the bill could cause a delay in relaying satellite information to commanders of the army, which could mean bad news. Apparently leaders of the US armed forces have spoke to the House in classified sessions about how they fear this bill will hurt their ability to do their best. This will be the bill’s last chance of getting passed this year, and Pres. Bush has been urging for it to be passed. The major part of this bill is the creation of a national terrorism center and leader. Bush says he will continue to work with Congress to get this bill passed which came as part of the 9/11 panel recommendations. Typically their aren’t sessions during the lame duck period, but this year there have been many because there was a lot still left to be done for the year. Along with this bill mentioned, there was a lot of budget stuff that had to be handled. The part that draws the most concern about this bill is the part where it creates a national intelligence director. The debates will ensue this week and we will see if anything gets done.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140522,00.html

Gov't intervention in steroid problem?

The word is getting out, and many records are beginning to be questioned. There are claims floating around that many of our major winning athletes have taken performance enhancing drugs to help give them an edge on the competition, some of which include Barry Bonds, Olympic athletes and many more. Now the question is becoming, if they did use steroids which were banned from their sport, what should the penalties be? Lawmakers are warning that if Major League Baseball doesn’t create stricter enforcement of their steroid use policy, that they will be forced to step in and require stricter testing and penalties. John McCain has said that he would like to see all professional athletes being tested at the same standards as the Olympics. In the past week many were accused in the media that they were reported of taking steroids for enhancement. There has been talk that some of their records could be removed, including Bonds record of 73 homeruns in one season. In the major league, testing once a year is required but that policy expires in 2006, and Bud Selig would like to see that policy extended. Selig has promised a crack down on the issue and harsh penalties for those who broke the rules. Bill Frist has also said that if the problem can’t be addressed by the leagues themselves that government intervention will be pushed as necessary to fix the problem. Part of the concern comes from the fact that young Americans look up to the players and we don’t want them to follow in those players footsteps with the steroid use.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,140553,00.html

Final Post

So since everyone else is doing this, I might as well. When I heard the topic for this class, I almost dropped it. I was not interested in politics and I must admit that I'm still not. This class was interesting though in its own way. The debates were cool but pretty much only because I like to argue and this class allowed me to do that. The class in general was pretty good but I wish that we had discussed the actual issues a little bit more instead of just what editorials were saying and what tactics the media was employing. The movie "Journeys with George" was really neat and it showed us a different view od the president. The blogs weren't very interesting at all in the beginning because it was as though we were required to do blogs on certain topics. After I kind of started to do blogs on different stuff, they became a little more interesting because they allowed me to express my opinions and I really like doing that. That is also why I liked the class. I really like expressing my opnions to others. The class did excite in me a bigger need to express my political beliefs and to defend my choices. It also made me reevaluate some of my beliefs. The class made me realize that young people need to pay more attention to politics because if they do not make informed choices now, they will never be able to make any difference in this world and their future will not be very great. This class has made me step back and look at the world in a different way which should be the purpose of every class. I enjoyed this class and if I had been able to I would have taken another course with you.

Last Blog

I noticed for the final blogs a lot of people were just writing about their experience in the class so I thought that I would do the same. I really enjoyed this class over the course of the semester. I am semi-interested in politics so I found the discussions to be very interesting. I also found it very interesting to be able to listen to people that have opinions differing from my own and to be able to discuss different issues with them. When I first learned that the class was going to be at 9:30 in the morning I was a little upset that I was going to have to wake up twice a week, but after the first few classes I found I really didn’t mind waking up to come. I learned a lot throughout this class the first being what a blog was. I had never heard of blogger before but I have found it to be quite interesting looking at different blogs and seeing what other people have to say about things. I also learned a lot about politics. I found my self watching the news and keeping up with current events that I would have never paid any attention to in the past and I hope that that habit will continue. I thought that it was nice that we could discuss things in the class without arguing. Furthermore I never felt threatened in the classroom and I was always comfortable sharing with the class. In conclusion I would just like to say thank you for a great semester and have a happy holiday. I hope that my experience in lit. 1102 will be as good as this when has been.

The Supreme Court

An important part of future politics is the Supreme Court. First of all, the court, in my opinion is the strongest branch of government. This is because their decisions can not be overturned be either the executive branch or the legislative branch, so they really don't have anyone to answer to regarding their decisions. Also, the Supreme Court does not have term limits, justices are appointed for life, which gives them more power than people who do have term limits. They have no risk of not getting reelected or any constituents to report to. I also believe the court is legislating from the bench instead of strickly interpreting the constitution. They are only supposed to set standards based upon the constitution, but because their power has become so great, they are making laws and legislating, which is not in their expressed powers.

Many of the Supreme Court members are getting old, which means they will not be justices any more either because they are going to die or retire some time soon. Because Bush was reelected, the court will be conservative. He is going to appoint new people who will uphold his same ideas, especially about moral issues like abortion, and gay marriage as well as ideas about affirmative action. This will have a large impact on the legislation of the United States because of the current debates about gay marriage. Bush appointing new justices will pretty much ensure that gay marriage will be deemed as wrong or illegal in most places throughout the country.

The War in Iraq

Throughout the class, we have discussed the war in Iraq with some people saying it is unjust because we found no weapons of mass destruction. People against the war also stated that we are going after the wrong enemy, that Bin Ladin was the one who attacked us, so we should be going after him instead of Houssain. In defense of the war, it is just to attack Houssain and Iraq. This leader has terrorized his own people. If he is so creul to the people who live in his own country, imagine what he would do to people who are not his followers and are against him. Houssain is an evil man and posed a potential threat to the United States. During the Gulf War, we knew exactly where he was and could have gone in and captured him at this time, but instead, we pulled our troops out, so now we are correcting our past wrong decisions. Also, people argue that our enemy is Al-Quieda. I have a news flash, al-Quieda is not found soley within the borders of Afghanistan. It is not like these people are wearing shock collars that go off when they cross the border into another country. There are operating cells in Iraq and throughout the rest of the middle east. By ending a regime that is training its citizens to attack our country, it begins to lower the potential threat against our country. The US could have used different strategies throughout the war. We, as a country tend to use the first face of power, which is the physical brute force. In order to win this war, we have to use the third face of power, which is convincing the citizens that the old regime is bad. When these countries we are against have the children believing they should go against the United States, it means for generations we will be fighting the same war unless we find a way to stop this kind of thinking. The war in Iraq, in my opinion, is just, but there are better ways to go about winning the war than we currently employ.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Last Post

I have decided to make my last blog entry one that talks about what I have learned from this class. Well I definitely learned a lot about politics but I know that is not all that this class was supposed to teach. I know the class was supposed to teach how to form an effective argument and I really think it succeeded. I’ve always been one of those people that loved to argue but was never able to form a good reason for my argument. I love to contradict people to see what they have to say about a topic or to see if they can defend what they think but I’ve never been good at actually defending my own points. My arguments usually consisted of phrases like “because I said so” or just plain “I win”. I feel like after taking this class I can now form much better arguments in conversations. I never have enjoyed being involved in discussions about politics and I still do not think I would voluntarily join one, but I definitely feel much more comfortable in these discussions. My family is very diverse when it comes to politics and that has always made me uncomfortable because I never knew how to make a good point.

I know that this class wasn’t supposed to only effect political discussions and I don’t think that’s all I have learned. I’ve noticed that I’m now much more relaxed when a situation comes up in which I have to defend my opinion. I think this class has made a big impact on how I carry myself during an argument. I can now be in a situation where I have to make a valid point to someone to try to persuade their opinion and I don’t feel as uneasy because I feel like I am better prepared to make a good point and be able to make a change in what some one else thinks.

Foreign Countries

I have always heard people say that citizens of foreign countries care more about politics than citizens of the United States. I believe this more now than ever before because my sister just came back from England and has told me of some of the things she observed while she was there. She told me that while she was there she heard more about the presidential election than she had while she was still in the United States. My sister is a very political person. She always knows more about current events than I do, so the fact that she says that Europeans were more concerned with the election than the American’s is something that I trust her about.

During the election, we spoke of an article that argued that Europeans should have the right to vote in the American elections. The students that my sister encountered that lived in England, for the most part, probably agreed with the author of that article. She mentioned quite a few times while she was there, that there were many English students putting on protests about the election in the United States. I don’t know anyone my age that knows enough about foreign politics to hold a protest of any kind concerning them. In England, the television stations aired live coverage of the Presidential election late into the night and morning. I have no idea when elections in Britain are, much less who is running or who I would support if I lived there.

All over Europe and other nations overseas, there are people who know more about American politics than many people who voted in this years’ election. It is sad to think that citizens of other countries know more about politics in the “most powerful nation in the world” than its own citizens. I guess it can be assumed that if the United States were not the most powerful nation, American citizens would know more about politics in whatever country was more powerful. I think the United States takes advantage of the fact that we have so much power in the world and that its citizens have the power to choose the leader of such a powerful country. I think if the citizens were to realize this they would take the elections much more seriously.

Affirmative Action

There have been many debated about affirmative action including court cases from the University of Michigan. I believe affirmative action is completely wrong. It is supposed to be making up for past wrong doings for minorities. Why should people now have to pay for the mistakes of people from a long time ago? All people now are given equal opportunity to succeed in the country. Minorities now have all of the same rights as white people and it has been that way for many years now. Society is now more accepting of diversity and people who are unlike themselves. I know that my ancestors did not own slaves, they were working on their own farms in South Dakota, so it seems unfair that I would have to suffer now to give people equal opportunities when they already have equal rights and all they have to do is work hard to make it happen for themselves. While listening to the Neil Boortz radio show, they had a discussion about affirmative action. The guy who was for it said that after years of discrimination, the stereotypes and the ideas of society in general are too hard to overcome and affirmative action is needed for these minorities to get ahead in life. Neil Boortz had very good counter responses to this. He stated that affirmative action is racial and gender discrimination. Boortz argued that affirmative action is no longer needed and that black people are successful without using affirmative action and that not having a level playing field when a person is younger is no excuse for them ending up in jail later. He also said that not all white people have had power passed down to them through generations; they have to work just as hard as blacks to gain good paying jobs in America. All of these are very true points.

The Internet

Although the Internet has been around for a while it is now starting to have an even bigger effect on how the world is working. The Internet contains a huge variety of information, from sports to politics, from conservative to liberal. You can find anything on the Internet. The newest set of first time voters are the children who grew up with computers and the Internet readily accessible in their homes and schools. Many of these voters are now in colleges where using the Internet is an every day event. I, myself, cannot imagine a world without the Internet.

The Internet played a big role in the election this past October. During the debates prior to the election, viewers were searching the web, checking facts as the debaters were saying them. Every major newspaper and television news station has a website that was kept updated on the current events of the election. Every debate was published online and searchers could find articles supporting the candidate they supported and articles against the candidate they did not support. There are many sites were you can actually find the entire transcript from a debate.

This year candidates made college aged voters a high priority on their list of votes to receive. There were many ads on television encouraging young voters to “Choose or Loose” or “Rock the Vote”. These ads did not actually give any information about any particular candidate so most young people considering voting turned to the Internet to learn about their choices for candidates. Each candidate and political party had their own website where you could learn about the candidates policies on different issues. The Internet was very helpful in informing voters about their political options if they were not able to watch the debates or go to a political rally or learn about the candidates in any other way.

Final Blog; Class Summary

When I found out that this class was going to focus on politics and the presidential election, I was less than thrilled, as I assume many of the other students in this class were. However, Due to this class, I now have a better understanding of the way campaigning works. I also feel as if this class help inform me of the plans and policies of each candidate, which helped me decide which one I wanted to vote for when the election came on November 2nd. I know that I was probably not the best student in the class and that I did not participate in class discussion as much as I could. I also could have worked on my blog entries a little at a time throughout the semester as opposed till waiting till the week before they were due to do almost all of them. If I had actually worked on them throughout the semester, I might have had a greater understanding of what was going on in class and been able to participate more. However, I did truly enjoy this class and got a lot out of it.

I feel like I learned the most in this class from the group blog projects that we did toward the end of the semester. I liked these because we were able to focus on just one thing, so we gained larger amounts of knowledge about whichever subject or topic that our group chose. While my group did wait until almost the deadline to get things rolling, we did find a lot of good articles and have some really good entries, and I got a lot out of them. I feel like I am very informed about the candidate’s positions about the topic that my group chose: education. However, I think it would have benefited me more if I had had this knowledge before the election as opposed to after it. Either way, I did learn a lot.

Media Bias

Frank Rich wrote an article in the The New York Times entitled “This Time Bill O’Reilly Got It Right.” The article talks about the fact they Bill O’Reilly “expected the media to brutally dismember CNN and the new boys on John Kerry’s bus” because of the “vicious attacks on Fox News for allegedly being ‘G.O.P. TV’.” The fact is though that Fox News is G.O.P. TV. Some people think that a liberal biased station was bound to come around simply because of the fact that Fox News is conservatively biased. I personally, however, think that O’Reilly had a right to be angry that no one said anything about the fact that two hosts on CNN joined Senator Kerry’s campaign. I think that news broadcasters bring their own politically opinions to the televisions instead of keeping it to themselves. I personally do not think that news stations or programs should be biased toward either party and even if they are, they should not show it. The news should be reported one-hundred percent accurately, not with a liberal or conservative biased simply because of who is presenting it. However, because of human nature, I know this is not possible. Two people, telling the same story, with different conservative and liberal backgrounds, will remember the story differently and therefore tell it differently. They cannot help it. The same thing happens with media bias. However, this is no way to prevent it, so media bias will always be a problem.

Voting Worth the Trouble?

Jim Holt makes a very good point in his article, “Is Voting Worth the Trouble?” He is right; the probability that any one vote cast in a United States presidential election will decide the outcome of the election is about .00000001%. With such a small impact, is it even worth voting? Holt goes into several different reasons why it seems like you should not vote. However, in the end he says, “The moral, if there is one, is to vote out of duty, not self-interest.” The truth is, voting is a duty, and a right. People often want to criticize the national government or the way the President is running the country. Then, if you ask them if they voted, they say no. If you want to criticize, then you have to vote. If not, you have not right to criticize what they are doing. If you dislike them so much, then go out in the next election and vote for their opponent so that you can get them out of office. However, when elections are like the one this year, more people may be less inclined to go out in vote. They may not want President Bush in office anymore, but they do not want Senator Kerry in office as President either. They fill as if it is pointless. However, like Holt says in his article, they should still go out in vote simply because it is their duty, even if it is for the lesser of two evils as many people called choosing a candidate in this election.

College-Aged Voters

This is in response to the article in the Washington Post about college-aged voters feeling the tug of recruiters and the article The Tufts Daily that says Kerry’s campaign is focusing on college voters.

The Washington Post article is saying that there is larger number of college-aged voters who are saying that they are going to go out and vote in this election than 1972 when eighteen year olds won the right to vote. The article is also saying that Senator Kerry is dropping in polls when it comes to the support he is receiving from these voters. I am not sure I agree with this though. At the Georgia Tech campus, it seemed as if most students supported Senator Kerry above President Bush. However, this may not be true. The article quotes Robert Lee, a 23-year-old newly graduated student from Colorado State who is now working to recruit members to the College Republicans, as saying “…I feel we’re a silent majority. I think at least half of the students are on our side.” I hope that this is right, because I am a supporter of Bush.

The article in The Tufts Daily says that Senator Kerry is focusing his campaign on college voters. I think this is a very smart move on his part, because college-aged students are who will be their main supporters in the years to come. In addition, they are the future of America. However, the results of a Harvard University poll show Senator Kerry with a large advantage over Bush when it comes to support from college students is being questioned by some college-aged Republicans because of a poll that came out in March that showed President Bush with a lead in support from college students. However, regardless of the polls and their results, it does seem that Senator Kerry is spending more time campaigning to college students than President Bush.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Filibusters

The article titled “Frist’s Fury Over Filibusters” brings up the issue concerning filibusters in the US Senate. Filibusters are used when the majority party in the senate plans to have a bill passed that the minority is not going to agree with but will also not be able to defeat. Certain bills only have a certain time period in which they can be brought up in the senate. If this time period passes the bill can not be brought before the senate again. To succeed in filibustering in the senate, a senator or group of senators must hold discussion that prevents the other party from bringing their bill to the table. There are certain rules involved in filibustering. I’m not exactly sure what they are but they include rules such as, the senator must remain standing, conscious and talking throughout the entire process. This article is about the current Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who thinks that the use of filibusters should be made unconstitutional in cases of executive nominations. Even other Republicans disagree with Frist on this issue. They see that if they make filibusters unconstitutional now that it will come back to haunt them when the Senate is led by Democrats again. Frist insists that the minority party is trying to have too much power and is trying to prevent President Bush from nominating Republicans to the Supreme Court. The Democratic Party is only trying to prevent the nominations of a certain 10 individuals who they see as unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. Even Republican Senator Robert La Follette, at the beginning of the 1900’s argued that filibusters should never be voted against because the filibuster is the only thing that the minority party has to try to keep the majority party from having complete control.

Elections

After finding this site and doing some quick math in my head I’ve figured out that only once in history has a presidential election been decided by so narrow a margin as the last two elections in this country. The last time that the election was so close was in 1916, in the election between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes. This election was decided with a 52% to 48% margin or victory for Wilson. I can only wonder why recent years have brought on such close elections. It is a little scary that a person can be elected president when literally half the country does not approve of him. I understand that the way a democracy works is that “the majority wins”. The only problem is that the majority is getting smaller and smaller. In most elections in the past there has at least been a semi-unanimous choice for the president. Now it seems that no one is ever voting for someone that they like, rather someone that they like more than the other guy. I think it is sad that for the first half of President Bush’s first term in office, it was very difficult to find someone that could actually say that they liked Bush and supported all of his ideas. Only after September 11th and the start of the War on Terrorism could you ask someone what they thought about Bush and you would actually find someone who would admit that they liked him. I grew up a in very conservative town and found it hard to believe that I could ask adults if they voted for Bush and they would say no and yet he still won. It is disconcerting that in such a conservative town, even the most conservative people I knew didn’t voted for the man and he still won. I think the reason the elections are getting so close is because people are losing trust in candidates and the parties are not electing candidates that the people can feel completely confident voting for.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Faith Factor

So did the Democrats miss on the faith issue in this year’s election? The answer is yes. The “Faith Factor” article assesses the Democrats failure to appeal to those whose primary issues relate to religion. The answer to the first question is yes, they did miss. Kerry tried to show that he was a faith based person, but he didn’t address the issues at hand this year. An overwhelming amount of people were focused on the gay and abortion issues which obviously many tied to religion are going to side with Bush’s side which opposes gay marriage and opposes abortion. Another big mistake that Kerry made was his mentions of Cheney’s gay daughter, which was a step he never should have made because it made him seem out of touch with the religious issues. Also, the Kerry group waited way too long to try and show that Kerry was a church going Christian, as the world all knew the Bush was as the debates and such began. So why is a nation that was created in hopes of not having ties between religion and government being determined on such an important issues. This is because many people want to vote for a person that carries the same beliefs as they do, and the majority of people in this country are Christians. So will the Democrats ever be able to get this edge back on the religious issues, since liberals are often thought to provide similar things to the public as churches do? Next time they’ve got to create new issues and mention of new topics that put them in a better light over religion or they will lose in this area yet again.

Contradictions

Reading the article called “The Faith Factor”, by Barbara Ehrenreich made me think of a question that I’ve started to wonder about recently. The issue is one concerning conservatives view on abortion mixed with their view on social services. It is obvious that most, if not all conservatives are against abortion for one reason or another. It is also common knowledge that conservatives are also against most forms of social service (welfare, social security, etc.). The part of this that confuses me is how conservatives can have no problem bringing an unwanted child into the world but when it comes to supporting that same child they are not willing to help. Often times the reason a woman has an abortion is because she does not want the child or will not be able to support that child. If the child were to come into the world the mother would either have to put it up for adoption or would need help providing for the child. Conservatives want to take the choice away from the mother and then not help the mother provide for a kid that she knew from the beginning that she would not be able to support. These contradictions make it hard for me to understand how conservatives could justify not wanting to give financial support to people who need it.

Waldman's article

In his article, Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels, Steven Waldman points out many stereotypes that are often held against Republicans and Democrats. He uses his article to show how opinions of the opposite party are usually not accurate. He points brings up concerning religion, morals, intelligence and family values. Waldman points out five commonly used labels for each side and tells the truth about behind them. In the article Waldman shows many statistics to support his arguments.

I think this article is a very good thing and I’m glad someone finally wrote something like it. There are too many stereotypes and labels being used every day in political arguments. Every political argument includes party-based tags being placed on members of the opposite party. These disputes do nothing other than offend the other party member. Every group of people, especially ones so large that they consist of half of the country, has a wide variety of people in it. Some stereotypes may hold true for certain members in a group but certainly not for all of them. The only thing a stereotype succeeds in doing is offending the other group.

Waldman does a very good job finding common stereotypes and contradicting them. He points out facts such as the fact that many liberals are just as moral as conservatives. Liberals believe that the war in Iraq is wrong based on the moral belief that a war should not be started unless it is absolutely justified. Waldman also shows that while liberals call Bush supporters morons, they are just as smart as many liberals. He points out statistics showing that the least educated voters voted for Kerry in this years’ election. Waldman article is very effective in disputing many common arguments that are used in political arguments today.

Dinner Conversation

My house consists of two liberals and two conservatives. As you can imagine this makes for very interesting dinner table conversation. Over Thanksgiving break a very interesting conversation came about at dinner one night. The conversation was between my father (conservative), my mother (liberal), my grandmother (liberal), and myself (somewhere in between but leaning more liberal). The discussion was about abortion. My father is against abortion as would be expected from a conservative and the rest of us were for abortion in certain extreme circumstances. My father was arguing why he thought abortion was wrong for any reason (the whole it’s a human life and it’s murder if you abort it argument). Then my grandmother threw out the argument of “Well what if Catherine got raped and got pregnant? Would you force her to carry that child to term?” This really made my father think. I’m sure he had heard the abortion because of rape argument before, but I don’t think he had ever considered it being one of his own children. I think most people don’t look the every possible situation when they hear an argument like that. People hearing an argument and look at it completely objectively. Although it is good to be able to look at things objectively, sometimes you don’t get the whole picture unless you put yourself into the situation. My father had always looked at the situation with the thought that it wasn’t his daughter having to make the choice so it was an easy decision: abortion is murder. I think when my father looked at it from this view it changed his mind and I now think that he supports abortion in situations of rape because he wouldn’t want one of his children to have to go through all that for a child that it wasn’t their choice to have.

Was 2004 election a realignment?

Realignment is the process by which one party supplants another as the dominant party in a political system. Since 1790, there have been five realignments in the United States government. Many partisan operatives and political scientists think that another realignment could be happening as a result of the 2004 election which gave the Republican Party a reelection victory in the presidency and gains in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The people that believe this is a realignment argue that the Republican advantage in Washington, D.C. leaves them in a position to win long-term loyalty among key voter communities and create a long-term majority. If this is true, then the 2004 election would qualify as a “realignment election.” However, this election, as is every presidential election, is being scrutinized for evidence of a developing realignment. In the past, predictions of realignment have proved to be untimely. Therefore, there are many skeptics and opponents to the thought of this election being a realignment. Opponents to the thought of this election as realignment are saying that this election was nothing more than a close election in the time of war the broke in favor of the incumbent party. Additionally, Ruy Teixeira, a liberal political analyst whom does not think the election was a realignment, said that the electorate this year “tilted, but it didn’t tilt very much.” Teixeira also said that Bush merely took advantage of the natural power of incumbency, which he believes is accentuated in wartime. However, it does appear that President Bush received a larger percentage of voters in this election that traditionally vote Democratic than he did in the 2000 election. However, exit polls also showed that self-identified independents tended to favor Democratic candidate, Senator Kerry, in this election. The debate on whether this election is a realignment or not will continue for quite some time. However, if the Republicans continue to do as well in Washington, D.C. as they did in this election, it could prove that this election was the beginning of a realignment.

Undergraduate Study Habits

The survey information given in Eric Hoovers article about undergraduate study habits is fascinating but I don’t think it necessarily applies to all colleges or all college students. I think that there are many colleges out there in which you don’t have to apply as many hours to make A’s and B’s. I have many friends from high school who now attend a college in which they are learning things that I learned early in high school. There are many colleges that do not require as much time to be devoted to studies.

Although I do not spend 25 hours studying every week, there are weeks when I spend more than 25 hours. Weeks such as “Dead Week” at Tech make up for the weeks when I spend less than 25 hours on homework. I may not actually spend 25 hours studying every week, but I have at least 25 hours of work that I could do every week. I think that grades do reflect how much time a student puts into outside of class class-work each week. Although Hoover says that students who did not put in as many hours studying still got A’s and B’s in classes, you have to take into account that some students can cram right before a test and still make an A, and there are some students who, when taking a survey such as this one, look at the questions and say “no, I don’t study that much but I still make good grades”. When these students take the survey they embellish a bit and suddenly a B GPA becomes an A. These and other factors could play a huge role in why these statistics should not necessarily be taken too seriously.

The final post

I want to make my final post as one that kind of explains what I learned in the class overall. Honestly, when I heard the topic for the class at the beginning of the semester, I wasn't too thrilled. I have never been one that took too much interest in politics, so I figured the class was going to be a drag. But I do have to say that I really did end up enjoying the semester. I learned a lot about something I knew very little about before, and I had multiple chances to discuss my opinions in class. I think that class discussion took a significant part in my interest in the class because it gave me a chance to hear what other people thought about both political and social issues. It also gave me a chance to hear opposing viewpoints and actually opened up my mind to some of the arguments those people held. I was never one to dismiss a differing opinion, but the discussions just let me see other people's reasons for believing in the things they believe in. I also discovered that some people can support a candidate and be totally against his stance on social issues but completely supportive of his foreign or domestic policy. Mostly, the class just gave me an opportunity to hear what other students thought. That's one big thing that I will take away from English 1101: the knowledge that young people have their own set of values and beliefs, and that our voice really does matter in this country.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Apparent Increase in Economy

I posted a link to an article in August called Excuses, Excuses, which was about the reasons that President Bush’s administration is giving for the poor economy. One of these reasons is the stock-market collapse that started in March of 2000. While both the economy and stock-market have been fluctuating up and down during President Bush’s presidency, I would like to predict that both, especially the stock-market, are on their way up. Throughout 2004, the S&P 500 has been bouncing up and down, but in the month of November alone, following the reelection of President Bush, it has increased dramatically and is now at a fifty-two week high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is also up dramatically from its fifty-two week low that it encountered toward the end of October. While it is not yet up to what its fifty-two week high is, it looks as if it is heading there. Additionally, the NASDAQ Composite is also on the rise. It has been on the rise since its fifty-two week low in August, but the largest increase has been in November. Like the Dow Jones, it is not quite to the height of its fifty-two week high, but appears to be heading there. I believe that the large increases in the stock-market in the month of November are a direct effect of President Bush getting reelected. I also believe that it shows that our economy is on the rise.

Pelosi's Documentary

I enjoyed watching Journey’s with George, the documentary on President Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign that Alexandra Pelosi made. I loved the way that it showed President Bush as an average, everyday guy who could laugh, joke, and mess up with the media crew that was following him on his campaign trail. I think the thing that interested me the most was that Pelosi was Democrat and she was making the documentary about a Republican candidate for president. I would have assumed that since this was the case that the documentary would not show Bush in a very favorable light, but it did, which shocked me. This is why the documentary is liked by most Republicans like the documentary. Unlike other documentaries, such as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, Pelosi does not try to make President Bush out to be a bad guy even though she may not have been completely fond of him at the beginning of the film. However, as the documentary progresses, you can tell that her opinion of him also changes to a more appreciably attitude as they seem to develop a sort of friendship. I found it interesting how Bush actually took the time to interact with the group of press. It showed that he did not think that he was better than them. The film does not make Bush look perfect though. It does show him messing up a few times and at one point on the plane, it shows that Bush knows that public speaking is not one of his strengths. He understands that he is not perfect; he is just trying to be the best candidate that he can possibly be. However, Pelosi did not try to make the film bring out his weaknesses; she just tried to show who President Bush really is.

Liberals vs. Conservatives

I think Steven Waldman did a very good thing when he wrote his article, “Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels.” He was trying to help both liberals and conservatives understand the meaning behind why the others feel they way they do about a certain topic. Now, since the article mentioned abortion and the pro-life believes, I feel it ok to step up on my high-horse and give my opinion on this.

The first thing I want to say is that I am neither a liberal nor a conservative. I have opinions that agree with both sides. When it comes to abortion though, I am highly conservative and I would like to back up why this is so. I am not one of those super-religious people who use religion in the arguments against abortion. I merely believe that, like the article says, life begins at conception, and therefore, abortion is murder and wrong. There is a lot more to it than that though. If you know someone who has had an abortion, then you might agree with me. Abortions are harmful to the women who have them. Most people have heard of soldiers have post-traumatic depression after returning from war, and I’d like to argue that a very similar thing occurs to women who have had an abortion. I have seen first-hand what can happen. My sister had an abortion of twins almost two years ago, and she hasn’t been mentally healthy since then. She went through a time of very serious depression, and she is still suffering from it. This is a depression that was sparked because of the abortion. If could see how the abortion has affected her, you would understand how it is psychologically damaging to any women. Abortions are murder, but they are also damaging to the psychological health of those who have them. This is a belief that most conservatives share on why abortions should be outlawed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Study Habits

I have to disagree with Olesya about how the article on study habits reflects students at Georgia Tech. I know from personal experience, that I do not study more than twenty-five hours a week. I would not doubt it if I spend less than ten hours a week studying. This holds the same for my roommates and their friends. Granted, we aren’t the students that are going to get A’s in all of our classes. We’re more like the people that are probably going to get C’s but we’re hoping to get B’s if we are really lucky. I know that I have not spent as much time studying this semester as I should have. Part of this is because I was working with the school’s softball team and it occupied a lot of my time. However, I also know that I could have spent less time on the phone with my boyfriend at night and used it studying. On the other hand, when I knew I had an assignment due, I did it to the best of my ability; I just didn’t take extra time to make it great. I did not ever do more than was asked; I simply completed the assignments. I know that I do need to study more next semester and I plan to do this. I’m hoping to get myself up there near the twenty-five hours of study a week mark.

I do however agree with Olesya that the statistics in this article probably do not count top-notch schools. Technology school (such as Georgia Tech or MIT) and Ivy League school students have to spend a lot of time studying to do well in their classes. Additionally, students who make it into these universities are usually the type of student who are very driven and either do not mind studying or actually want to study.

Still no votes in Leipzig

Globalization is inevitable. Advances in technology are one of the largest reasons that it occurs. However, because of globalization, government policies are now affecting not only the citizens of the country that made them, but also the citizens of other countries. I completely disagree with the article “Still No Votes in Leipzig,” which proposes allowing non-America citizens the right to vote in the United States Presidential election. I do not think that this means that people from other countries should be allowed to vote in the United States. Citizens of the United States do not get to vote in the elections of other countries, even though their policies also affect us. Most importantly I think, is the fact that voting for a president requires more than just comparing the candidates policies on foreign affairs. Like Olesya said in her response to this article, citizens of the United States have to consider the candidates domestic policies as well. If people from around the world were allowed to vote in the United States elections, they would cast votes merely based on the candidates’ foreign policies. This may or may not be the best choice for president for the American people. Citizens from other countries can not choose what is best for the American people when it concerns domestic affairs. Also, the probably do not really know what is best for us when it comes to foreign affairs. If they want to have a say in what goes on over here, then they should move here. I think that the author of this article just wants to cause controversy, because nothing he writes really holds much value. There are too many reasons that go against what he is suggesting to make what he wants to happen an even half-way plausible idea. I think the mostly simple way to put it is that people from other countries should not be allowed to vote in United States elections. If they want a say that bad, they should move over here and be come citizens, then they’ll have a right to criticize our government.

Student Study Habits

A lot of the information and statistics in Hoover's article does not apply to Georgia Tech as well as several other "high-education" schools. For instance, I'm sure that people at Princeton or MIT have to spend more than 25 hours per week studying. Studies like this are usually meant to look at schools that do not have as difficult a program as Ivy Leage schools or top tech schools. They are meant to analyze the situation in colleges and universities all over the country who's quality of education does not match that of some of the top schools in the country. Now I don't have a big head, and I don't look down on any other college. All I'm saying is that Tech is up there with the type of education it provides to its students, and that is exemplified by the careers that Tech graduates (the few that do) hold after college, several studies and reviews by newspapers and magazines, and personal experience as well. Most students here probably spend more than 25 hours per week studying because in order to do well on classes, you have to devote a lot of time to looking over the material involved in each class. Especially now with exams next week, several students are spending most of their time either in their dorm rooms or in the library or some other place that offers a quiet environment for studying. One of my first-year friends even commented that she "had never seen the campus so quiet before." So students at other colleges may not have to spend more than 10 hours per week studying and still come out with mostly A's and B's, but here at Tech you have to buckle down.