Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Food for the Blind is Closed

The new AP Gov course blog, The Hitchhiker's Guide to National Affairs, is here.

We've moved from a metaphor of blindness to one of needing a ride, and, of course, that all-important advice: DON'T PANIC.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A quick take on Hillary's speech

In her speech at tonight's conventions, Senator Hillary Clinton asked the questions that may very well convince her supporters to join the Obama camp: "I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?" This is an attempt to unify all the Democrats behind Obama. Will it work? Is Hillary eyeing a Presidential run in 2012 or 2016 already? Should Obama have chosen her as his Vice-Presidential candidate?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Final official word to 08 with scores and all that...

Hiya,

(if there is anyone still out there)

This page is still bookmarked and I noticed a new comment saying Hi to me.

So hi to ya'll right back.

Summer was already going great -- b/c that's what summer does -- when I was told that 77% of you passed the AP exam. Yay. A couple goofy threes notwithstanding, the results were pleasing in general but not optimal. So it goes. Mr. Corti and I will strive to do equally well if not better next year.

More than any % can measure, the collective you were a pleasure to teach. So thanks for that.

I'm also pleased to report that several Aragon alum are working full time on a political campaign (guess which one!) this fall. I'd trade umpteen "5" scores for one actual person in the field trying to improve the public area -- practice is greater than theory. But I still hope you got enough theory and rigor last year to make this fall's campaign a little bit more meaningful.

I don't know if next year's class will keep the name for this blog or move onto their own name, but whether this is the last post for this year, or for all time, you all take care and have yourselves a prosperous and safe first year of college.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hurricane warning in the Atlantic

According to federal forecasters, there is a good chance of there being 6 to 9 hurricanes forming in the Atlantic. Furthermore, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials have supported predictions of some of these major hurricanes as well as mentioning the possible formation of an additional 12 to 16 storms. While the forecasters said there is a 60% to 70% chance of their predictions coming true, it's impossible to predict what mother nature will present us with. For example, in 2005 forecasters predicted 12 to 15 storms to appear during the season, but there ended up being a record breaking 28. With the upcoming season quickly approaching (June 1 - Nov. 30), it's vital that people living in hurricane prone areas are prepared, regardless of the predictions.

Company offers to clone family pets

We all know that cloning is possible, we also know that cloning is more-often-than-not quite successful. However, what you may not know is that companies have begun to offer cloning services for family pets. A particular company in Mill Valley, here in California, has been granted the sole worldwide license for cloning cats, dogs, and select endangered species. BioArts International, aptly named, was given this right under the "Best Friends Again" program. This program works together with a Korean company called the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. The company will offer slots to customers willing to pay about $100,000 for the clone.

Should cloning be legal, or to what extent should it be legal? Cloning endangered species seems reasonable, but house pets? Or is it all just wrong?

Original Article: http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2008/05/22/company_offers_to_clone_family_pets/1594/

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gay Iranian Takes Refuge in British Asylum

Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian student was granted right to Asylum from Britain in order to escape possible conviction and death in his home country. After going to England to study, Kazemi discovered that his lover had been hanged by the Iranian government as punishment for breaking Iranian anti-sodomy laws. Most human rights groups believe that the law is a pretext for discrimination. While reading the original article I kept seeing similarities (with the exception of the death penalty) between this and the Texas anti-sodomy laws. The discrimination brought by the Iranian anti-sodomy laws kept reminding me of Lawrence v. Texas.

Link to original article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/05/20/international/i174955D23.DTL

Senator Kennedy Diagnosed With Cancer

After being hospitalized due to a seizure last weekend, senator Kennedy was discovered with a brain tumor Tuesday morning. With the condition of Gliacoma, most doctors estimate the senator having one year left. The news upset many in the senate, in particular Sen. Robert Byrd, who wept for Kennedy during a speech on the Senate floor. Having served 46 years in the Senate, Edward Kennedy influenced a major portion of American policy and left a great impression on politicians and citizens alike. Recently Kennedy has been on the national spotlight for endorsing Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary Election. Kennedy is not up for re-election until 2012, however it is unlikely that he will be able to fulfill his term with his current condition.

Original Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/kennedy;_ylt=Ag2XkWcl7Y9wT1N180QwcwOs0NUE

Monday, May 19, 2008

Liberia's Cannibalistic Ex-President

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is on trial for war crimes committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War. Charges include murder, rape, torture and using children as soldiers. During the trial a witness testified that Taylor ordered his soldiers to eat their slained enemies, a questionable technique used to scare enemies. The witness Joseph "Zigzag" Marzah, former chief of operations, also testified that Taylor casually ate a human liver. Charles Taylor denies being a cannibal and ordering soldiers to eat slained enemies and pleads innocent to the war crime charges. The court has yet to make its decision.



Link to the original article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/05/19/taylor.trial.ap/index.html

Sunday, May 18, 2008

American Sniper Uses Quran for Target Practice

According to recent news brought by Yahoo( http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080518/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq) a American soldier has been kicked out of Iraq by U.S. millitary commanders for using a Quran as a practice target. The Quran was found on May 11th by Iraqi police, with 14 bullet holes. In a apology ceremony, a U.S. commanding officer kissed a new copy of a Quran in front of a local Sunni tribe in hopes of preventing escalation in reaction to the actions of the American sniper. Though the apology was accepted, it isn't the first time American soldiers have abused the Iraqi people and customs. The U.S. millitary emphasizes that co-operation with Sunni tribes is vital for succes in Iraq. If U.S. soldiers continue to offend Sunni tribes, then they will be less likely to work with U.S. forces. Will the recent abuses and other events influence the U.S. to finally begin the process of leaving Iraq? To what extent will Sunni tribes co-operate with the U.S.?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rights for Same-Sex Couples

The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday. ruled that sexual orientation "does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." This ruling will take effect in 30 days. This was brought to court when several gay couples, the city of San Francisco and gay rights groups filed a lawsuit claiming unlawful discrimination when a lower court ruled it illegal that San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many people, including myself,  believe that this is a just ruling and it will cause broader acceptance for people who are homosexual. However, many people who do not agree with this ruling claim that a constitutional marriage amendment should be placed on the November ballot, and that a federal marriage amendment should be created. Although I know that the majority of the students in this class believe in establishing rights for same-sex couples, do you agree that this decision should be made by the public? Is it fair that something constitutional in one state is banned in the next? Could this ruling have national effects on marriage rights for people who are homosexual?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Natural Disasters: China or U.S.?

A friend of mine brought up a very good point following the earthquake disaster in China--why were we so quick to send them relief but took forever to get relief within our own country for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina? Don't get me wrong, of course it's wonderful that we're doing anything we can to help in such a situation! But, something just seems really weird with our response to Hurricane Katrina (that most of us can agree was an almost total failure) against our immediate attention to this out of country earthquake.

This definitely needs more information, but anyone with any facts about how we've helped either situation, I'd love to see the research unfold!

Charges Approved For Accused 9/11 Terrorists

On Friday, May 9, a military judge approved charges against five men accused for plotting September 11, including the alleged mastermind, and rejected charges against a man suspected of planning to be the "20th hijacker." If they are convicted, the Guantanamo Bay detainees will face the death penalty. The sixth man, Mohammed al-Qahtani, will remain in custody as an enemy combatant because the charges against him were not approved. The civilian lawyer for al-Qahtani says that he had been tortured at Guantanamo Bay. She was not surprised that the charges against him were rejected because she believes that the military does not want him to be tried because military interrogators abused him. I think it is very good news that the men who took part in 911 are being brought to justice, but was it done so at the cost of torture? Although the claims of torture are not yet proven to be true, how far is too far? Are we willing to have questionable imprisonment methods in order to carry out justice and to possibly enhance national security?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Can Israel Survive for Another 60 Years?

Here's an interesting article by the reliably provocative Christopher Hitchens that I'm sure some of our more regular commentators will find interesting.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

California's Huge Step to Preserve its Wildlife

The owners of a large stretch of land have reached a deal with a group of environmentalists to set aside the largest parcel of land for conservation in California's history. After many legal battles, the Sierra Club has finally come to the agreement that they would not challenge proposed development on the Tejon Ranch, which is a huge piece of land north of Los Angeles, in exchange for almost 240,000 acres to be preserved. This area is 375 square miles or desert, woodlands and grasslands. It is eight times the size of San Francisco and almost the size of Los Angeles. This land sits atop the Tehachapi Mountains and is home to many very diverse wildlife and plants. After nearly two years of negotiations, it is finally agreed that almost 90 percent of the ranch will be protected. Do you think this is a promising option for protecting our wildlife? Could it illustrate a stronger push in the future to protect the environment? How significant is this preservation?

Please Go To Class!!

I think most of us would agree that it would suck if we had to take an Economics final so please, please go to class!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Reminder of TX v. Johnson

This week, a student has been considering filing a lawsuit against a teacher who placed his Mexican flag in the trash can on Cinco de Mayo. Facts seem to be a little wishy washy on both sides due to the student's lack of proficiency in Engilsh, but none the less his flag was physically placed into a garbage can by his p.e. teacher on a very special day. The teacher claims it was for school safety because of racial tension on campus and that he had no where else to place it. Yet again, we're back to our good 'ol list of cases that Mr. Silton has given us. Should different laws apply on school grounds? Or does high school violence give enough of a cause to limit carrying a flag around campus on a holiday, and therefore allow this teacher to take away his flag?

I know TX v. Johnson had to do with United States flag burning, but if we can't burn a flag, are we allowed to throw it away? To me, it seems like the same meaning in slightly different form. Yes, burning the flag is slightly more dramatic, but throwing it out is equally degrading to the meaning. Similarly, in a country built on freedom of almost anything possible and respecting the differences between people, should we be able to degrade OTHER flags in a country built upon citizens from all over the world?

More Information

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

College Drug Bust

About 100 people, 75 of which were students, were arrested in an undercover drug sting at San Diego State University today. This investigation was initiated by campus police after a student's fatal overdose a year ago. Officials claim to have confiscated more than $100,000 worth of drugs in "Operation Sudden Fall," including four pounds of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana and 350 ecstasy pills. They also took one shotgun, three semiautomatic pistols and $60,000. Among those arrested were students majoring in homeland security and in criminal justice, one even worked under campus police as a student community service officer. In addition to facing criminal charges, the students are also suspended from SDSU and have been evicted from their housing. How could colleges prevent these kind of "mid-level distributors" who sell more than someone might buy for personal use? Should colleges take these extreme measures in order to limit their students' drug use? Was this an appropriate way to handle the situation?


Drunken Pirate Loses Her Teaching Credential

Miss Stacy Snyder, who is 27, has lost her teaching credential from Millersville University because the administration caught wind of drunken pictures of herself on Myspace. She will not be able to get her credential now because of a picture of her in a pirate hat drinking from a Goodbar Cup with a caption that reads "drunken pirate" and her favorite activity was listed as "dancing like an a**hole." The University also said that she would not have received it anyways because she had "unsatisfactory performance" and "unprofessional behaviour." Her father, however, claims that, "I don't think its fair...She could have been a good teacher."
Does her behaviour really warrant a withdrawl of her teaching credential? Becoming a teacher includes making changes in your life so that you become a role model and do not encourage questionable behaviour.She was young, however, and had not graduated yet, so is this an extreme example? Lots of college students have pictures of themselves partying on myspace, so was it just bad luck that she got caught? How justified is the school's reaction?

http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=4791295&page=1

Monday, May 5, 2008

True-Life: What To Do About Criminal Pirates

Like the stories of pirate-hood in Pirates of the Carribean, recent boaters in the Atlantic have come upon violent men with money symbols in their eyes. Recently, Colin Darch was faced with such a problem. "With boats on each flank and almost 20 pirates armed with AK-47s, he and his five crew members would not escape. The pirates rushed aboard, firing their weapons into the air and ordering the crew to lie down". This mariner and his crew were quite lucky, it only took them six weeks to come up with $700,000. Unlike the 1700s, these modern-day pirates are now holding men for ransoms as large as 1.2 million dollars for a small crew. Maybe it's just me, but I always thought that this pirate idea was a crime of 3 centuries ago when people still believed the world was flat and had an end! Little did I know, the navy has been monitoring the waters off the East Coast of Africa for the five past years because of the increase in such water-crime. "The Navy works with France, the Netherlands, Britain and Pakistan in what is known as Combined Task Force 150, a maritime coalition that has taken on additional anti-piracy roles around Somalia" and keeps a warship present! Especially living where we're blessed to live, it's funny to think that such primitive ways of life still exist at all. Maybe I live in some cardboard box, but who knew Johnny Depp could have actually done a true-life interview to get to the core of his gold-loving, boat-taking character over the past two years. How else should the U.S. be involved in this open water crime? Or should we be involved at all when we have a war-focus elsewhere?

More Information

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spiritual Attack or Medical Misjudging?

In Weston,Wisconsin an 11 year old girl suffered from diabetic ketoacidosis. However, Her family refused to even take her to a doctor for a diagnosis. They believed that the sickness was a "test of faith" and that the young girl would quickly recover after a week or so after some "emergency prayer". She appeared to be weaker and slower for about two weeks before her death, which was ironically on Easter Sunday, and may have shown milder symptoms for up to two months before. The parents believed that it was just signs of puberty and that faith would heal her. Both the mother and the father are being tried for second-degree reckless homicide.
First of all, I would like to say wow. I am a Christian, but this seems extreme to me. This girl lost her life because she wasn't even given a chance to see a doctor. God is a healer, but completely relying on His power for medical treatment seems very Old Testament. I think that the parents really misjudged this. Diabetes is exactly what scientists are working on healing, and making progress. Why not take advantage? What do all of you guys think?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bush's "Misson Accomplished" Sign has Fith Anneversary

Five years ago, after President Bush made a dramatic entrance on an aircraft carrier, he claimed that "Major combat operations have ended" and, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, and still goes on." Behind his a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner was ever so proudly displayed. While the press had a field day making his sign the but of every joke, his press secretary claimed that, "President Bush is well aware that the banner should have much mire specific."
Tomorrow will the the fifth anniversary of this symbolic failure of a sign. It will always be a symbol of Bush's cockiness, however. It seems like too much of a coincidence to a legitimate mistake to me. Although it is not that important, the press will still ridicule him for it. Is it worth making such a bid deal out of? It is funny, but shouldn't something like this just be overlooked? Or are we all just tired of Bush, if no the entire conflict in Iraq in general?

http://www.comcast.net/news/articles/general/2008/04/30/Bush.Mission.Accomplished/

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now Obama is Outraged by Former Pastor's Comments

Within the past few weeks, Rev. Jeremiah Wright has become a frenzy in the media. Formerly, he has claimed that the U.S created the HIV virus to exterminate minority races. This obviously has caused some outrage. But at the time Obama only denounced what the Reverend said, not the man himself. Now, however, when the Indiana and North Carolina primaries are nearing does he show complete outrage by the Reverends actions. Obama is now saying that, "His comments were not only divisive and destructive, I believe they end up giving comfort to those who pray on hate," Rev Wright also claims that "If Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected," and, "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."
Is the pastor hinting that Obama secretly complies with his own beliefs, or is he just denouncing politics in general? Obama has stated that "He is not the same man I met 20 years ago" and claims to hardly relate to his beliefs. Is Obama just making up for lost votes by suddenly becoming outraged? It seems to me that he should have dealt with it more harsh when he actually made the comment. Doesn't it seem strange that now, when its time for the primaries, that he is so outraged? Is his sudden change of heart going to win him any votes? What do you guys think?

Monday, April 28, 2008

tax rebates

Lately i've been hearing alot about these tax rebates that are coming. My parents and my boss have mentioned it. I decided to do a little research on the subject. First of all the tax rebates have began to be distributed today. The amounts are being given based on the amount of people in a family. This entire event is a attempt to stimulate the economy. I personally think this will not work. People that I have talked with say they will be saving the money. Kinda counterproductive to the idea. It is good for the citizens if they recieve the money. However this brings up another point. Who is recieving the money. This is not a negative statement. I just wonder if everyone will get money. It seems that the amount will be massive if everyone gets a equal amount. The news article I read says it will be going to 130 million households. I dont think that counts everyone. I just think it will be a failure as a economic growth starter. I hope to hear everyones 2 cents

article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-04-28-tax-rebates_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

EARTHQUAKE!!

There have been quite a few little earthquakes recently, especially recent ones in Reno, Nevada reching a magnitude of 4.7, which was the largest since a 5.2 one way back in 1953.  The recent Reno quake started small and has been growing, which is odd seeing as earthquakes are supposed to do the opposite.  Mogul, an area west of Reno, was hit with 100 earthquakes the day before "the big one."  Scientists have pre-warned residents that they need to stock up on food, learn how to turn off water/gas, and secure books and such.  Nevada is number three, behind California and Alaska, for most seismic activity.  At first I began looking at this article like a joke, seeing as we don't get many earthquakes over here, even though midwest/east coast rumors say that we're always shaking, but as I read on.  It kind of freaked me out a little too!!  I don't want any 1989 repercussion or anything.  Let's let the quakes travel back to Evansville, Indiana where they hit a few weeks ago.  (almost went to school there!)

Aqua-Terrorists?

I recently read an article on coastal safety from terrorist attacks.  Presidential officials believe that the next possible attack could come by water and want to regulate the boats that stream the United States coast.  The 18 million small boats in the country will participate in a type of neighborhood watch.  Also, new devices are hoped to be created to enhance servailance and detection of dangerous materials in the water.  Billions of dollars have already been spent on regulating large cargo ships that terrorists could use and (mostly east) coast states have  been ready with diving teams and such in cases a warning should come about.  They're also talking about making boaters have certificates of ownership and registration or licenses...Should this be such a drawn out, debated ordeal?? Or should be just drop it all together or making some sort of quick decision on regulation of the shores?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Many Children Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 was supposed to create clear, reliable data that told parents how local schools stacked up against schools elsewhere in the nation. It has not worked that way, thanks in part to timidity at the Department of Education, which initially allowed states to phony up even the most basic data on graduation rates.
It's pretty disappointing that states are trying to cover up the fact that high school graduation rates are too low. They should acknowledge that there is a problem, and address it; figure out what can be done to make sure more students graduate from high school.
I've heard many teachers complain about the No Child Left Behind Act and i agree that the law has many flaws. However, I do think that it is a good idea and thus it should not be totally shelved because it was poorly designed from its inception. I think it is a good idea to have some federal government oversight into out public schools so that all Americans can be guaranteed a quality public education.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/opinion/28mon3.html?ref=opinion

Athletes in the Armed Forces

I recently saw a report about how athletes who go pro can skip there two years of service if they can stay in the league for two years. Instead of serving the two years minimum that all people who go to the academy, they instead will become recruits. This policy doesnt apply just to athletes, but of all people who become famous through the public such as American Idol and things like that. So far five people have been allowed to have this effect them including most recently Caleb Campbell. This is a nice rule for those people, but should we have it when some people who go to the academy are having to go back to Iraq on their third and fourth times around. I feel that this rule is good for peace times, but when you are needing soldiers, I feel that we need soldiers and we cant afford to let some be allowed to leave with out serving their two years minimum.

Boycott on Olympics

With the Olympics in Beijing coming closer, the bigger quwestion of whether or not people should boycott things from China. While after watching an interview with Hershel Walker, former hall of fame running back, he was saying that instead of just boycotting products from china, we should stop having all of our companies being shipped out to China for cheaper reasons. He brings up a good point becasue if you really want to get your point across and show how you feel. Also if you really want to boycott China, I have heard people saying that they would boycott these products during the olympics, but would that really have that much effect when the olympics are only here for a month. Why not boycott those products for good until you get what you want and not just do it for a short period of time.

Making the Grade

With it being draft weekend all of the analyst are grading how the teams did and giving out grades. But do these grades really matter when these picks wont show how good they are until they are in the league for a few years. Yet the same for presidents approval rating. Usually when they come into the presidency they have a high approval rating, but is it a good rating on the president. When it will take a few years before you can really say if they were a good president or a bad one, just like how it takes a few years to tell if some rookie will turn out to be a superstar or just a bust.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Obama's Reverend

I recently read an article about how Obama's reverend to his church felt unjustifiably accused. He said that the sound bites were not what the whole speach was about and how he is someone who will speak out against the goverment. But is it too late for Obama. Did this man hurt his chances of winning the primary and even the presidency? The GOP in North Carolina is going be running anti Obama commercials of him with his reverend. Will Obama being connected with this church and pastor hurt him is the big question becasue he was apart of the church for such a long time and he never spoke out against what they said. So either he truely believes it or he just was to lazy to change churches. I feel that if he does win the democratic primary, the republicans will rip him up for this and it will hurt him in some states.

Genetic Discrimination?

I recently saw an article about legislation that just passed through the Senate that would ban genetic discrimination. I'm not exactly sure what genetic discrimination entails but i think that is good to know that our rights are being protected before concerns even arise about the intrusiveness of this new technology. The article reminded me a lot of the movie
Gattaca, a science fiction flick about genetic diagnosis. It really amazes me that actual science is catching up to our science-fiction movies.
Genetic testing holds great promise with its ability to help diagnose and foresee medical problems much earlier so i found it hard to believe that insurance companies would actually oppose the practice because they might have to pay many claims to people who were previously thought to be healthy. Isn't saving lives and making progress in the field of science and medicine more important than the profits of insurance companies?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7366264.stm

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Charities are needing charity...

I don't know if anyone has noticed or anything, but there has been just a teeny little rise in gas prices that has been creeping up and up and up the past few years.  Along with these rising fuel prices, cost of living has also increased.  However, people's salaries have not kept up with these fast-paced increases.  This trend does not help with charities either.  In order to have a charity, people must donate.  Due to these factors, there is more need (and more people who need) and less donations.  The Salvation Army, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Goodwill aren't just for the homeless.  Volunteers at these locations have all agreed that more and more working class people are needing these services.  The trouble is...there isn't enough to go around, with donations low and all.  Food donations are low too because of strong agricultural exports.  "Donations of canned goods are down 35 percent from last year; dairy and frozen meat donations are down by 26 percent."  "The federal government donated $242 million in surplus food to food banks, soup kitchens and emergency shelters in 2003. Last year, it donated $58 million in surplus food to the same places."  Congress is looking at a farm bill to increase aid to food banks...but really??  How much will that help with everything else sky-rocketing??  What to do...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Race to the White House

Here we are almost 4 months into the primaries now, and we still dont have two candidates for the president. With Hilary winning Pennsylvania today, it puts here back in the race. With 780 delegates still to be handed out, Obama is only leading by 138. Since February 12, Obama has had the lead in the primaries, but has not been able to put it away and run off with it. Obama since then has been able to expand his lead, but the door is open for Clinton to swoop in there and take the driver seat. This race probably wont end until the final primary on June 3. But it still might not be finished and might after to be decided at the Convention. The one thing though that Hilary has on Obama is more superdelgates which could help here out if it goes to the convention. Then on the complete opposite side, the republican primary has been over for a while having McCain winning the Republican side after blewing past the competition. Does this democratic race help people get excited in politics again because it has been so close, but will it hurt the democrats later on in the general election which McCain has been able to get ready for and not had to deal with others for awhile now?

NAFTA

Both Clinton and Obama, in an effort to court working-class voters, have spoken out against NAFTA ( a free trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada):
"The summit was overshadowed by Tuesday's Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary race between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who have threatened to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA or renegotiate it to push for more protections for workers and the environment.

With fears about job security already being fanned by downturns in the economy, trade has become a key issue of the presidential election. Bush argued that NAFTA has fostered prosperity in all three countries and that Clinton and Obama are wrongly using anti-trade messages to lure working class voters. Free-trade opponents say expanded international trade helps businesses, but threatens U.S. jobs and keeps wages from growing.

Bush warned that without NAFTA, migratory pressure from Mexico would be worse."

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jmKuBNlBk0kzs6GTa4n8q6--MkVQD9076F780


My question is, does NAFTA threaten the economic prosperity and independence of the US? However, I think the long term health of the global economy is more important than appeasing some undecided workers in Appalachia. Ultimately the US does have a lot to gain from thriving markets and close ties to neighboring nations and that should take priority over some upset Americans. Eventually, environmental and worker's rights issues must be addressed in NAFTA and in future trade agreements but that is no reason to pull out of an agreement that has raised trade between the 3 nations from $290 billion to $1 trillion since 1994.

It may just be a conspiracy theory but i heard somewhere that NAFTA would eventually evolve into a union a lot like the EU between the US, Mexico, and Canada with a common currency called the amero. Is this plausible?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yearning for Zion...

As many people already know, recently, police got a phone call from "a 16 year-old girl who was pregnant and being sexually abused by her middle-aged husband" on April 3rd.  This phone call came from the small town of Eldorado, Texas from an isolated Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints sect on the Yearning for Zion ranch.  Police investigated the polygamist religious group's site and found 416 children, none of whom had defined parents.  No child could identify one mother or father, but pointed to many.  Court and state officials are trying to sort out how these isolated children can be housed and cared for in the outside world without anymore shock or trauma from the whole case.  They believe it will also be hard to trace the children's parents and family lines because of the girls 15 years or younger who have interrelated blood lines.  The other main question is, how old were these women when they gave birth?  It is illegal in the state of Texas for a girl under 16 to marry, even with her parents' consent.  What do you think will be the outcome of the whole ordeal?? How do you think officials will/should handle case??
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/us/22raid.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

High School Bomber

Over this past weekend on Saturday, the parents of a senior of a South Carolina high school reported their son to the cops after discovering the materials necesary to create a bombs. He had not created it yet, but according to him it would only take him minutes to put it all together. I was just wondering how safe schools really are when kids are able to access these things very easily. I know we have secure the building drills every so often, but if someone had a bomb like this kid was going do, how would we fare. It seems very scary how anyone could get this items and that it could be used anywhere.http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/21/school.bomb.plot/index.html

Pennsylvania Shmensylvania

On the eve of the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, I wonder, is this really a decisive battle between Obama and Clinton or will the duo continue to heckle each other until the convention in June? Media outlets continue to disagree about ow important the PA primary really is but in my opinion, the winner of tomorrow's primary will not win the candidacy. If anyone has any theories or predictions it would be interesting to see how the class thinks this one will play out. Will Obama stage a come from behind victory in PA and all but lock up the nomination for his party? Will Hillary trounce Barack as the polls suggest and take some momentum going into the primaries in Indiana in North Carolina?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Border Controversy

I recently read about a story near the American-Mexican border which seemed a little controversy to me. Two men were patrolling the border when they observed a Mexican man illegally passing from Mexico to America transporting drugs. The men pulled out there firearms and shot. The men took the drug trafficker into custody. What happen was the men who took the drug trafficker got into trouble. The men were not legally allowed to fire there weapons. The government then were going to allow the drug trafficker off just to testify against the two men who fired there weapons. Does anyone think that this is American justice? I thought we were trying to prevent illegal immigrants? I also thought the U.S disliked drugs...Hmmmm.

Bruce Springsteen Endorses Obama

Rock star Bruce Springsteen endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for president Wednesday, saying "he speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years."

In a letter addressed to friends and fans posted his Web site, Springsteen said he believes Obama is the best candidate to undo "the terrible damage done over the past eight years."

"He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next president," the letter said. "He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where '...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.' "

Do such celebrities make a difference in elections such as this one? Do celebrities use the elections to further there own careers and put themselves in the spotlight?

Visited Barack's Occidental College

I thought this was interesting because I visited Occidental this past weekend, where Barack Obama attended college. The school administration referred to him as "Barry" Obama. Doesn't this seem a little like Barack was americanized there? Also the administration has a program which allows 15 students to attend United Nation conferences which meant they would be the only undergraduates there, which Barack Obama attended. To become a Senator or a successful politician do you guys think it matters whether you go to a school with such limited special opportunities?

Interest Rates Drop

The Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate by three-quarters of a point, resulting in two months of Fed's most aggressive action in 25 years, to battle a spreading credit crisis. Wall Street loved it, bursting to its biggest gain in five years. The strong Fed action seemed to convince investors, at least temporarily, that the central bank will do anything it can to keep the country out of a steep recession. The reduction triggered announcements from commercial banks that they were cutting their prime lending rate from 6 percent to 5.25 percent . This rate is the benchmark for millions of business and consumer loans. Can this drop of interest rates and boosting stock market end or prevent the recession? Can this spur spending in the general public?

Obama Hates on Bush

Democrat Barack Obama, who often argues that John McCain is the same as President Bush, said Sunday that the Republican presidential candidate would be better for the country than Bush has been.

"You have a real choice in this election. Either Democrat would be better than John McCain," Obama said to cheers from a rowdy crowd in central Pennsylvania. Then he said: "And all three of us would be better than George Bush."

"But what you have to ask yourself is who has the chance to actually really change things in a fundamental way so that 10 years from now or 20 years from now you can look back and you can say, boy, we really moved in a new direction and we put the country on a better path," Obama added as he wrapped up an event at Reading High School

Obama was trying to argue that he is the better choice over Democratic rival Hilary Clinton in Tuesday's primary in Pennsylvania. But the Illinois Senator ended up mixing in praise for McCain at the same time — and giving Clinton an opening to criticize. Does this comment by Senator Obama make him look soft and kind of endorsing McCain? Are all the candidates actually better than President Bush?

Ruling on Home Schooling

Parents of an estimated 166,000 children in California are eagerly awaiting a state appellate court ruling on whether they have a constitutional right to home-school their children without a teaching credential. That question sprouted unexpectedly on Feb. 28, when a panel of three judges ruled that parents or tutors of children who are home-schooled must be certified by the state, basing their ruling on a rarely enforced state education law. Few parents knew the law existed. Parents of an estimated 166,000 children in California are eagerly awaiting a state appellate court ruling on whether they have a constitutional right to home-school their children without a teaching credential. The court's ruling threatens to send back to the classroom those children who now spend their days studying math, Spanish or the Bible in the comfort of their living rooms. Do you think that parents without teaching credentials should be able to teach their kids at home? If the courts ruled that it is required to be certified, "99.5 percent of families wouldn't qualify." Can we really trust parents to teach their kids the right material that other schools are teaching?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Energy

While each candidate agrees that the United States depends far too much on imported oil and gas, opinion varies on how to lessen the burden and how to promote research and development of other energy sources.

The Republican Party
Proposes a national energy strategy that will rely on the technological prowess of American industry and science. Would not support subsidizing every alternative or tariffs that restrict the competition that stimulates innovation and l
ower cost. Believes barriers to nuclear energy are political not technological. Would provide for safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and give host states or localities a proprietary interest so when advanced recycling technologies turn used fuel into a valuable commodity, the public will share in its economic benefits. Proposed a bipartisan plan to address the problem of climate change and stimulate the development and use of advanced technologies. It is a market-based approach that would set reasonable caps on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and provide industries with tradable credits.

The Democratic Party Proposes reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 by using a market-based cap-and-trade system. Would invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy. Supports next generation biofuels. Proposes increasing fuel economy standards and would require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources by 2025. Would create a Global Energy Forum and re-engage with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Which Party really has the upper hand in this issue? Which one is going to work better?Is this a very important topic for the American Public?

Superdelegates Influences

Yet despite Hilary trying to attack Mr. Obama all debate long the super delegates and party leaders showed that none had been persuaded much by her attacks on Mr. Obama’s strength as a potential Democratic nominee, his recent gaffes and his relationships with his former pastor and with a onetime member of the Weather Underground.

In fact, the Obama campaign announced endorsements from two more super delegates on Thursday, after rolling out three on Wednesday and two others since late last week in what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated show of strength before Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary. Obama advisers said that one of the pickups on Thursday, Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. of the District of Columbia, had initially favored Mrs. Clinton, but Clinton advisers denied that, and a Thomas aide said he had been neutral before Thursday. Is the race for the democratic tilting quite aways from Hilary? Are her chances diminishing as of late? Should the super delegates be the deciding factor for the Democratic nominee?

Laws on Abuse

Cardinal William Levada, a high-ranking Vatican official whom Pope Benedict XVI hand-picked to succeed him in his old job as head of the Vatican's office, offered early signs on Friday that the Vatican will change its internal, or canon, laws concerning the church's response to sexual abuse allegations; a matter that has become the main topic of the Pope's American visit. The changes would follow adjustments made some time ago involving the church's statute of limitations with regard to some particularly offenses. The Cardinal suggested that laws meriting amendment may involve statutes of limitations regarding abuse cases. This seems to be the first step in trying to actually clean up the problems in the church. Many times priest that had been caught for sexual abuse where just given a warning and preceded with their job as nothing bad happened. Why has it taken so long for people to realize that this is a serious problem? Do you think that all of the priests that sexually abused other members are finally going to be punished? Or is this all talk and we are not going to see any improvement in our churches?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can McCain be Taken Seriously

John McCain at times seems as though his old age has got the best of him while speaking to the media. "Grandpa McCain" as I call him, made a mistake recently about not knowing the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. McCain claims to be the best candidate for the Presidency and for foreign affairs but that seems to be the case. McCain also made the mistake of calling some people of Iran Al Queda when there wasn't any there. I can see why there is not much media covering McCain because of the tight Democratic nominee race but that shouldn't be a reason to dismiss McCain's faults so quickly. He is going to be running for President. Is McCain's old age a factor going into the Presidential election? Can McCain be trusted as President even with the mistakes being made in his so called "best field" of foreign affairs?

Bill Clinton Starting to Bring Down Hilary Campaign

Recently Bill Clinton has been coming to his wife's defence in attempt to help her image stay clean and fresh. He also has run his mouth off about the Obama campaign. But its not working, its hurting Hilary. Bill Clinton came to his wife's defence about the sniper fire in Bosnia but got all the facts wrong. This made both Clinton's look like liars. I may sound bias but the media agrees. Bill Clinton could have just shut his mouth and let the story pass but he had to make it worse. He later called the Obama campaign a fairy tale and has been trying to tarnish Obama's image for some time. This is unusual because Bill Clinton was, in the public majorities eyes, was a good president. Should Bill just chill and stay out of his wife's campaign? Should Bill really say anything to the media considering he is in the most bias position possible? I think if your not going to stay objective then you should just stay out of it let the advisors handle it.

Debate Disgrace

With the Democratic nominee at stake I wanted the Pennsylvania debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would be an exciting spectacle. The debate was full dumb questions asked by former Bill Clinton advisor, George Stephanopoulos, about why Mr. Obama did not wear an American flag pin on his suit. We know where Stephanopoulos's bias was. Obama's association with a minister, who was critical of American policies, was also a big concern. The interesting parts of debates are usually the exchange of numerous ideas that provide the American public about which candidate believes what, not whether or not they are unpatriotic because they wont wear a pin. Also the moderators got to the "most important questions of the general public" by like question 16. Should questions for debates be screened prior to airing on national television? Should Barack Obama be criticized for little "unpatriotic details" or should the media be shamed and called disgusting Obama attackers?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why I Love the Internet part MCCXIII

Funny.

Lethal Injection

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the most common method of lethal injection used to execute condemned prisoners is constitutional, a decision sure to restart the nation's dormant death chambers. But the court's splintered reasoning seems likely to result in more challenges to the way capital punishment is administered in the United States. In a 7 to 2 vote, the justices said the three-drug combination used by Kentucky, similar to that used by the federal government and 34 other states, does not carry a risk of substantial pain so great as to violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. I know we probably already covered this topic but what are people's thoughts about capital punishment. Also, do you think that lethal injection is inhumane due to the time it takes to pass through the body causing a "substantial risk of serious harm," or should we continue to use this way of executing. If people have such a problem with lethal injection, why don't we just stick to another method? I think we should just go old school and use the guillotine.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Climate Change

President Bush proposed a new target Wednesday for stopping the growth of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The president also called for putting the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants within 10 to 15 years. Bush's goal is to reduce emission levels in the power sector well below where they were projected to be when he first announced his climate strategy in 2002. Also, the president the president remains opposed to a Senate bill that would require mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, calling that proposal unrealistic and economically harmful. However, maybe mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions would be more beneficial than Bush's proposal. Why is Bush's new target the year 2025 for stopping greenhouse emissions? Can't he propose a new plan that can take affect in a couple years? And do you think we will ever solve the problem of global warming?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gun Control

State lawmakers across the country are ramping up efforts to pass new restrictions on guns, following nearly a decade in which state legislative efforts have been dominated by gun advocates. Much of the proposed legislation — some 38 states are considering gun-related bills — focuses on cutting off gun access to convicted criminals and the mentally ill and on improving methods to trace guns used in crimes. Hopefully states are going to be able to enforce gun related laws which would make it harder for many citizens to buy a gun. What I want to know is how come we keep waiting so long to propose bills to control who buys guns? Wouldn't this stop random gun shootings at schools or other places? If these bills are not passed are we ever going to see strict regulations of gun control?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cartoons

Here are some political cartoons from msnbc to sum up the week:





Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama's Response

I thought it would be interesting to post Obama's Response to the criticism he has received for the comments that he made, as mentioned in Matt's post.

The NY Times has an article with Obama explaining that he "didn’t say it as well as [he] should have.” I think that he truly did simply choose the wrong words, but still believes in what he was originally saying. He is afraid that people are voting out of emotion because of their economic problems rather than what they actually felt.

It is not yet clear what effect his remarks will have on voters, but with the primary in Pennsylvania is approaching on the 22nd the candidates need to be aware of their choice of words. Obama hopefuls need to prey that his explanation will please those who were offended by his comments. It, however, should be noted that he has not yet apologized for what he said. He simply has stated that he could have said it more eloquently. I think that he might need to make a formal apology if he hopes to not be labeled as an elitist.

Bitter?

This week, Obama made the following comment:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Clinton seized the chance to criticize him for patronizing the rural areas of America, focusing especially on the word "bitter". Now people think it's going to cost Obama working class voters just because he had a poor choice of words.

Do you think it's a good strategy for Clinton to attack Obama for making some offhand comments? After all, everyone makes mistakes, but as we've seen, people in the political world don't seem to care. And ultimately, will Obama's comment really make him lose voters?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gasoline

Does anyone remember a time when gas was under 2 dollars? Has anyone noticed that gasoline prices have been steadily increasing over the past couple of days? I was getting gas and a few days later the same gas station had gas priced at 2 or 3 cents higher. According to CNN gas prices has once again hit another "all-time high."

Some of the numbers that they talked about were:
  • In one day the national gas price went up by .8 cents
  • Gases prices have rose 19.9% since last year
  • California has the most expensive gas price at 3.737 dollars a gallon, while New Jersey is the only state to see prices below 3.10 a gallon
But what does this all mean besides the fact people will have to start selling their organs in order to pay for these high prices? I think that with gas prices at an all time there is a much larger incentive for scientific companies to think of other sources of energy. This is especially true for large corporations as diesel prices have gone up by a lot with in the last couple of months. These larger corporations, as pointed out by the article, use diesel for their large trucks so they will want to find a cheaper way to transport things. This also hopefully will sway more people to either carpool or take public transportation which will help the environment. I certainly don't see the gas prices decreasing any time soon...

Prom...

I know that this post isn't necessarily all that relevant to what this blog is necessarily intended for, but I couldn't pass up its relevance.

Everyone knows that prom is just around the corner--tomorrow to be exact. With the school assembly that we seniors recently had, I felt that everyone could enjoy this article.

Here are some tips from the Onion on how to make your Prom "Unforgettable."

Prom-Planning Tips

April 2, 2003 | Issue 39•12

Prom season is just around the corner. Here are some tips to help make your prom night unforgettable:


  • The prom is a magical experience, a chance to do such grown-up things as get all dressed up, drink nine Smirnoff Ices, vomit in a limo, and pass out in Mom's azalea bushes.
  • The theme is one of the most important elements of a prom. Choose carefully between "Tropical Paradise" and "Stepping Out In Style."
  • Don't forget the corsage! Fresh flowers are necessary to mask the smell of sweat and foot odor in your school's dank, poorly ventilated gym.
  • Try to plan ahead, so you are not more than two or three months pregnant for your prom.
  • Next to a bridesmaid dress, a prom dress is the most important dress you will ever wear.
  • If you were not asked to prom, you can still have fun by putting on a dress, buying a taco-salad party platter from the local Pic-N-Save, and dancing in your bedroom as a portable radio plays the latest Top 40 hits.
  • This will be the biggest night of your life if you happen to die in the next few weeks.
(This post has been censored)



From China's Point of View

I found an article in Reuters today. It was titled: China says unity at stake over Tibet. In this article Chinese officials were saying the dispute with Tibet derives from "National unity" rather than human rights, or religious/ethnic conflict. They continued by saying that they were "hurt" by the fact that the European nations were considering not attending the Opening Ceremonies.

I think that it is very interesting that the Chinese are so quick to criticize others for their condemnation. They believe that other countries aren't looking at all the facts, and their actions are justifiable. This is ridiculous that the Chinese not only are doing horrible things to the Tibetan people, but also are surprised and "hurt" that other nations look down upon them for their actions. Do you think that is is outrageous? Any other comments?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Speaking of Polls

Here's another poll talked about on CNN. It suggests that a McCain-Rice ticket would beat a ticket with both Obama and Clinton in New York, a mostly Democratic state. Of course, this doesn't really mean much, since Rice isn't going to run for VP. Also the percentage difference in the polls were so small that it probably wasn't accurate. But it goes to show, like Derek said, without party unity in the Democrats, a Republican might be in office for four more years. You can draw your own conclusions from these two polls.

Election 2008...again

I know that the presidential election can sometimes get too much attention from the media, overshadowing other important current events, but I think that this poll is worthwhile to look at. CNN has looked at an Associated Press Poll, and while it may not be all that accurate, it does show something that should be considered. Between the three candidates they seem to be almost neck and neck with each other.

Because McCain doesn't have a huge opponent in the Republican Party he has a huge advantage over both Obama and Clinton. According to the article: "Close to a quarter of Obama supporters reported they will back McCain if the Illinois senator fails to get the nomination, while a third of Clinton backers said they'd vote Republican if Obama is the Democratic nominee."

This division within the Democratic Party may lead the U.S. to having another Republican President. If McCain is elected as President you know the war will only continue. Do you believe that we are going to have another Republican President? Is the divide too wide that if a voter's candidate doesn't get elected they will vote for Republican?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rich v. Super Rich

Some of you may have seen this already, but it's a mock skit from the Onion dealing with the upper class of America. It would have fit in with the poverty unit, but still pretty relevant. Just another aspect of capitalism.

The Widening Gap Between America's Rich and Super-Rich

Petraeus Plan


General David Petraeus has asked to stop troop withdrawals. Although this is bad, it wasn't necessarily unexpected. However, this does mean that we should not expect major troop pullouts until after the November Election.

The general proposed "we undertake a 45-day period of consolidation and evaluation. At the end of that period, we will commence a process of assessment to examine the conditions on the ground and, over time, determine when we can make recommendations for further reductions." Some say that this may be a plan which never ends. The general doesn't even promise that troop withdrawal will even begin after this "45-day period" only that it will once again be evaluated.

This may cause the war in Iraq to become an important issue in the presidential debates leading up to the November election.

Here is the US News article on this issue, which also has links to other newspapers.

Stem Cells

As many of you know, government funding of stem cells was greatly reduced in 2001 by the Bush administration. Companies were only allowed to do research on the less than 60 lines that were created before Bush's announcement.

But now that a new president will soon be elected in November 2008, stem cell funding from the government might be possible. Although the candidates (McCain, Clinton, and Obama) all have different views on this issues, they all believe in some relaxing on the restriction of stem cells. The Pew Forum has their exact views on this issue as well as their views on other topics.

I think that government funding of stem cells would be a great move. There is so much to be found in this field, even the possibility of curing cancer. Do you think the government should be involved in its funding? If not, do you even think stem cell research should continue?

China's Actions: A Bit Closer To Home

Because Matt recently posted on a topic similar to this one, I'm not going to ask whether or not you believe the U.S. should "boycott" the Olympic Ceremonies. However, I will bring up a slightly different topic.

As many of you know the Aragon Music Program a group composed of almost 200 people when including students, parents, and teachers will be traveling to China this summer. They have already been kind of thrown into this Tibet controversy. Because they are going to China, they need to get visas at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. As you can imagine, there were hundreds of protesters screaming at people who were entering in the building.

While Aragon Music Program certainly doesn't support China's actions, some people are beginning to speculate whether or not they should even be going to China. I believe that it just needs to be clear to the students that this is a time of controversy and they need to be aware of the facts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More on the Recession

Federal Reserve policymakers slashed key interest rates last month to fight a widening credit and housing slump. Stocks are falling. 232,000 jobs were lost in three months. Sounds like that recession part of the cycle we learned about in class. Even Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, finally acknowledged the possibility of a recession.

Jon Co had a similar post last week about a recession, but my question isn't whether or not we're headed for a recession, but what's going to happen to us, meaning students, once the economy starts falling more. We're going to college and/or joining the workforce soon, so what effect would a recession have on us for the next couple months or years? I think we'll be fine, since our needs are pretty basic. What do you think of all this?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Boycott Olympic Opening Ceremonies?

Senator Hillary Clinton urged President Bush today to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games because of China's policies in Tibet and Darfur, referring to the recent protests in Tibet and the Chinese government's lack of pressure on Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.

While this view is shared by some, Barack Obama isn't so sure about boycotting the opening ceremonies. He says that he thinks the events in Tibet are "a real problem," but is "hesitant to make the Olympics a site of political protest."

I'd have to agree with Obama on this one. Sure, not having the US at opening ceremonies would be a good sign of protest, but would it really make China change its policies? How effective do you think a boycott would be and is it worth it?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

McCain v. Obama

In today's political ticker from CNN there is an article about an occurrence in which Ed Schultz, a radio talk show host, called McCain a "Warmonger". He spoke at  the North Dakota Democratic party event, at which Sen. Obama also spoke. McCain was upset by the choice of words, although it is true that he is a supported of the very unpopular Iraq war.
 
McCain then put some blame on Obama's part for this choice of words because he also spoke at the event, however, Obama was not there when it was said, and Ed is not an official supporter of his campaign. Obama even denounced this radio host because he criticized him by referring to him by his middle name, Hussein. 

I just thought this was foretelling of the disagreements to come between Obama and McCain, if Obama can gain the Democratic nomination. Who do you think will win?

"If Superdelegates Were Smart They Would Choose Clinton"

So Cole Murphy-Hockett, part of the class of '07, wrote this blog about a month ago, and for those of you who didn't read it, I thought it was a very intelligent, well-thought out analysis of the primaries as of early/mid march, and is definitely worth a read. (I know its not my turn for blogging this week, but I thought its worth the effort to post)

I hope I don't get any negative flack for writing this. I support both Clinton and Obama, and no matter who gets the nomination I will support and vote for him or her. Either candidate will be better than McCain, and either will be infinitely and unarguably better than Bush. It's just that, in the name of procrastination, I started reading a bunch of articles and found some interesting things that I think people should be aware of.

Obama claims superdelegates should lend him their votes because he has won more states and has more pledged delegates than Hillary. I agree on the second point, it's kind of undeniable that he has managed to amass more delegates, which, ultimately, is what the nomination comes down to. However, I found it interesting that Obama claims he should win based on the number of states he has been victorious in. It seemed to me that Clinton won the bigger, more important, states, but I wasn't sure so I explored further.

I wrote down all the states, as of today, that Obama has won, and I wrote down all the states that Clinton has won. Obama did indeed have almost twice as many, 27, to Clinton's 16. But which states are the important ones? I grouped them by size: Clinton won most of the larger ones, Obama most of the smaller ones. In order to quantify the relative importance / size of the states, I wrote down the number of electoral votes each candidate would receive from winning each state in the upcoming election. I know electoral votes have no bearing on the primaries, but whoever the eventual victor is, (s)he will have to compete in the actual election when electoral votes are notoriously important. It's definitely fair to consider them in a race this close. Anyways:

Clinton 263, Obama 202

(I counted Texas as a win for Clinton even though Obama won the caucuses. The primary is definitely more representative of the state as a whole...)

So then the thought occurred to me that no matter the number of electoral votes a candidate amassed, that some of these wins, in the actual election, would never even happen. Some states are red states, some are blue states, and some are swing states. It's likely that no matter who the candidate is, the blue states will go to the Democrats and the red states will go to the GOP. So I looked at swing states.

Clinton 95, Obama 60

Clinton appears to be more capable of winning the all-too-important swing states. Ohio and Florida, arguably the two states that gave Bush the white house in the last elections, Clinton won. (Both Obama and Clinton's names were on the ballot in Florida, neither campaigned there... it seems like a fair contest). Should not superdelegates, in a race so, so close, look at which candidate can better deliver these crucial swing states in the general election?

I also looked at the number of red states each candidate has won.

Obama 76, Clinton 51

A large portion of Obama's delegates thus come from states he (nor Clinton) would never be able to win in the general election. Less of Clinton's wins come from these GOP dominated red states.

In order to try and encompass all aspects of this analysis, I took the electoral votes from all the contests thus far, and added up all the blue state votes to give them to each candidate. In the general election, both will be able to win these votes. I then added the swing state votes each candidate received to that candidate's total. Finally, I subtracted the red state votes each candidate received from that candidate's total.

In finality: Clinton 227, Obama 167

If the general election were occurring right now, it seems Clinton would have the upper hand based on this information.

I know superdelegates are supposed to take a lot of factors into account when they make their choices, but I think one of the most important factors is electability. It seems as if Clinton is better prepared to deliver the important swing states and that a greater percentage of Obama's votes thus far have come from red states that he would never win in the general election. Should not the superdelegates support Clinton based on these factors?

Should not superdelegates support Clinton based on the disenfranchised voters in Michigan and Florida (granted Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan)?

A recent poll in Mississippi, the place of today's primary, suggested that Obama backers are more inclined to support Clinton backers than vice versa. 42% of voters who chose Obama said they would not mind if Clinton was the nominee, whereas only 10% of Clinton backers said the same for Obama. Moreover, 6 in 10 said that Obama should choose Clinton for his running mate if he wins, whereas only 4 in 10 said Clinton should choose Obama.

If Clinton can better deliver crucial states, and Obama backers are happy to support her, then should not superdelegates deliver the nomination to her?

Obama still has more delegates than Clinton does, however a large portion of these delegates come from caucus votes. Caucus attendants aren't representative of the voting populace as a whole, generally only strong supporters of a candidate take the time to attend a caucus. If one thing in this election is certain, Obama's supporters are clearly more vocal and active than Clinton supporters. I have never in my life seen such excitement for a candidate. It's a great thing for politics. However, should these fewer, more fervent supporters be given greater weight than the quieter, equally numerous (perhaps more so), supporters of Clinton?

As I said before, I support both candidates. The whole change vs. experience debate has no effect on me. Both candidates are qualified for the job, perhaps Clinton a little more, however I'm sure Obama would do just fine. Both would be able to effect change, perhaps Obama a little more, but again, it will be difficult even for him to unify a country so split on partisan lines. Rhetoric can only go so far, both candidates will find it difficult to make sweeping changes in Washington next January.

After looking at the statistics and trends, it seems as if Clinton may be the smarter choice for superdelegates. People say she's not as electable, but the facts beg to differ with that assumption. With a race so close, it's obvious that superdelegates will play a large role in the nominating process. Some say that they should bank on the side of the candidate with the most delegates after the primaries, but if the difference in delegates is less than 5%, shouldn't the superdelegates (the supposedly knowledgeable party insiders) be able to consider factors that the general voting public may have overlooked?

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with me that's fine, but note that I tried to present everything as objectively as possible.

Cole Murphy-Hockett

Thursday, April 3, 2008

McCain's Economic Plan

This article is written from a different perspective. It is written from the point of view of Elizabeth Edwards, wife to John Edwards. Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer and she claims that under McCain's economic plan, it "would do nothing to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those, like her and Mr. McCain, who have pre-existing medical conditions." McCain's response "was condescending and dismissive — a statement that Mrs. Edwards doesn’t understand the comprehensive nature of the senator’s approach, which would harness “the power of competition to produce greater coverage for Americans,” reducing costs so that even people with pre-existing conditions could afford care." The article continues to bash McCain's economic plan. I was wondering whether this really promotes the public into siding with the Republican party. The opposition is not disagreeing with McCain's economic plan, but his own party is doubting the plan. How does this make the Republican party look? I know many people in our class are liberal, but how does this change/ not change your view on the Republican party at the moment?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Speaking of a Recession:

Here is an article to take some time to look into. It talks about the possible recession in the US. Ben Bernanke: (the Federal Reserve boss) speaks of how the real GDP has not grown much in 2008 and there is a possibility that it may contract a little. Not only is this a little striking, but it raises the attention of the public. I just wanted to see how our economics class would react to this article. It's interesting because, in class, we talked about how GDP may not even really be a measure of a nation's economic process, but more of a nation's economic activity. Now, those are two completely different things and it's interesting to see how some people react to this article. My reaction, personally, is not to be too concerned, but to still acknowledge the aspect of a possible recession. How do my fellow classmates feel?

Planning for the Inevitable?

I was sifting through recent news and I noticed how everyday there are more and more ways to help our environment. This is great, everyone (especially americans) really needs to make changes now to their own lifestyles to protect our world for a better tomorrow. But I was thinking, how much do these little tips like turning off power switches or using less water really change our environment? And how much do we have to do to ensure that our planet stays with us?

It seems to me like although everyone wants to make a change and stop the effects of Global Warming, it may only slow it down if do anything at all and things will really change then. This article I read seems to have a plan for when we hit rock bottom. It's about how after Global Warming everyone will move to the poles to get away from the roasting equator, and people will be able to live in underwater cities. It seems too rediculous to me that the world could live underwater around only the two poles but it is an interesting idea. Any other takes on the progression of our environment?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy April FOOLS!

Here is a excerpt from an interesting article about Hillary Clinton's odd humor:

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton walked somberly into a press conference Tuesday and stood before microphones. Reporters tensed, sensing something big might be afoot.
"This has been a very hard-fought race," she said. "We clearly need to do something so that our party and our people can make the right decision. So, I have a proposal."
The tension grew. Reporters shifted in their seats. Was she dropping out of the race? Offering to join rival Barack Obama as his running mate?
April Fools!
"Today, I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl-off," Clinton said, provoking relieved laughs from the assembled scribes.
Clinton carried on, making reference to Obama's disastrous outing at a Pennsylvania bowling alley Saturday.
"A bowling night. Right here in Pennsylvania. The winner take all," she went on. "I'll even spot him two frames."
"It is time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all the pins to be counted. I'm prepared to play this game all the way to the 10th frame. When this game is over, the American people will know that when that phone rings at 3 a.m., they'll have a president ready to bowl on day one." ...

There is more amongst the article. Clinton fills her speech with puns and small jokes to humor her audience. I just wanted to get a reaction from my adolescent peers about this "humorous" speech and how they feel about it. N-j-o-y!

Poor Oil Companies

Congress is preparing to question oil executives from the five largest publicly traded companies as to why they need 18 billion dollars in tax cuts over the next ten years. This comes as a huge suprise under the backdrop of record gas prices and record profits. Congress is considering taking away the tax breaks and putting the money towards alternative energy research, which I think is a great idea. Hopefully, congress' questions will shed light on why exactly we are facing such astronomical gas prices and if there is any possibility of the prices going down in the near future. What should we do? Should we allow these companies to recieve huge tax cuts, or should we demand a greater effort be put into alternative energy research? In my opinion, the environment is the most important issue, and we should therefore force them to either invest more money into alternative energy research or we should deny them the tax cuts. What do you think?

Look out for those 2nd graders!

A 7 year old student showed up to school on monday with two loaded handguns in Baltimore County, Maryland. The guns were discovered when one fell out of the student's pocket during class. The teacher immediately took her students to the office and called the police. Upon searching the student's locker, the police found the second gun, which was also loaded. Police believe that the child had no intention of harming anyone, simply believing that the guns were toys. He was staying at his uncle's house, and most likely found the two guns there. While the child will not be charged with any crime, the uncle will likely face charges of child endangerment and leaving guns within a child's reach. While there will be no charges brought against the child, he will likely be expelled because that is the mandatory punishment for bringing a firearm to school. This story was extreemly suprising to me because I couldn't believe how irresponsible the uncle must have been to allow that to happen. This is a compelling argument against the "right to keep and bear arms" as decreed in the Constitution. Do you think that this type of occurance, along with many recent school shootings are enough cause to increase regulations on firearms? What do you think is a fair punishment for the uncle?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Google Hackers

It seems like today all our internet needs and wants can be found on google. And I'm sure like myself, you all use google on a daily basis to search for practically anything. In fact I found this article on USA Today by searching through current event on google. So it seemed to me that this article was a bit frightening by how easily all our PC's could be getting bugs and viruses, or giving others our most secret passwords without knowing it at all. Anyways it just interested me how much our privacy can be invaded through the internet and it seems to be basically "anything goes" in our cyber world, good thing I have a macbook.

Can the Environment be turned into a game?

Talking about the environment in class today got me thinking about doing an interesting blog about the environment, so here it is:

"Eco Creatures," a flabby but somewhat child-cute game for the Nintendo DS, caught my attention just as it was intended to: It's "an eco-friendly adventure," said the press release from publisher Majesco Entertainment. And how is that? Well, it "promotes awareness of the perils of over-industrialization, deforestation, pollution, extinction and global warming, as well as their effects on various life forms." The age rating is Everyone, which means the game is recommended for anyone 6 or older. The controls are poor. You find out early, for instance, that you can't fight effectively without making yourself stupidly vulnerable to attack. Even little kids know that makes the game a dubious value at $30, regardless of any environmental merit. You're supposed to nurture your creatures, but it's hard to get in the mood when the clunky game play is making you crazy.


This little bit comes from a Mercury Review of the game. I think that it is a great idea to incorporate the idea of saving the environment into a game, but does it seriously have to be so lame? It's an interesting topic and what's your take on it?

haha:

Obama wins over Texas

Sen. Barack Obama has won the overall delegate race in Texas thanks to a strong showing in Democratic county conventions this past weekend. Obama picked up seven of nine outstanding delegates, giving him a total of 99 Texas delegates to the party's national convention this summer. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton won the other two, giving her a total of 94 Texas delegates, according to an analysis of returns by The Associated Press. Obama leads the overall race for the Democratic nomination with 1,631 delegates, including separately chosen party and elected officials known as superdelegates. Clinton has 1,501, according to the latest AP tally.

Senator Barack Obama has won over the current president's state. Is this a turning point for the Obama campaign or is this just a stepping stone?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Don't Mess with North Korea!

After South Korea's top military officer said he would consider attacking North Korea if it tried to carry out a nuclear attack, North Korea responded by threatening South Korea with complete and utter destruction. "Our military will not sit idle until warmongers launch a pre-emptive strike," said an unidentified South Korean military commentator. "Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire." This aggressive attitude comes unexpected from South Korea, which has traditionally been content to watch passively as North Korea developed their nuclear capabilities. On Friday, North Korea test-fired a barrage of missles into the sea, and warned that it would "mercilessly wipe out" any South Korean warships that strayed into North Korean waters. This event sheds new light on the North Korean conflict. They are obviously capable of harming millions of innocent citizens, both in Korea and abroad, and it is impossible to know if they are only bluffing or if they seriously intend to launch any missiles. With increased activity, the U.S. government may find it necessary to intervene in the name of national security as it did in Iraq, although that is less likely because there isn't much oil to be found in Korea. What are your opiniones? Should the U.S. intervene with greater force in North Korea in order to protect innocent lives in South Korea and America, or should the U.S. stay out of it and avoid the possibility of another "War on Terror" in a new location? Does North Korea pose a credible threat to anyone around them or are they all talk?

Democrats Fight Back

42 Democratic congressional candidates banded together last Thursday to announce that, if elected, they will push legislation calling for an immediate drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq. They hope to only have a small security force remaining in Iraq to protect the U.S. Embassy in
Baghdad. This announcement came as a suprise becuase the issue of the War in Iraq was expected to take a backseat to many pressing economic issues in the upcoming elections. The nation's attitude towards our continued occupation of Iraq is continually souring and it seems that we are closer than ever to a possible end to the conflict. It has yet to be seen if these politicians will actually follow through on their promises, if they even get elected. Should the War in Iraq be the primary issue in the upcoming elections, or should we concentrate on other threats to our country, such as economic recessions and social issues? Also, many people point out that the intense controversy over the war causes disunity among Americans, and makes it even harder for us to triumph in Iraq. Is it wrong for these candidates to so openly oppose the actions of this nation, or are they right in what they are doing?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour

There is something very interesting going on tonight


EARTH HOUR

a brief summary: Earth Hour encouraged people to turn-off lights and electrical appliances for an hour, to help combat climate warming. National landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne's Federation Square were dimmed, as lights were switched-off across the country of Australia, at 8:00 p.m. their time.

The time to turn off your electrical appliances is: 8-9 p.m. TONIGHT, March 29th! (i hope that is the correct day, i completely lost track of days during spring break. that term paper!)

Major participation is planned in 25 cities around the world, on six continents. Four Earth Hour flagship cities in the United States—Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco—are leading the way. Other participating U.S. cities include Denver, Miami and Charlotte. Globally, Copenhagen, Sydney, Manila, Tel Aviv, Bangkok, Dublin and Toronto are among the cities that will be involved.

So... after you read this, turn off your computer!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Operation Chaos

This is relatively old news, but i was reading about the election, and found something that led me to beleive that republicans might not be as nice as we think they are. Rush Limbaugh, a conservative talk show host, is publicizing his scheme to get John McCain elected in the general election. He believes that Barack Obama is by far the stronger candidate, and would therefore present the greatest obstacle to McCain. Now that the Republican nomination has been secured by McCain, Limbaugh is urging people in states with open primaries to vote as a democrat, and cast their vote for Hillary Clinton. Limbaugh believes that if enough Republicans vote for Clinton, she can triumph over Obama, and ultimately lose to McCain, ushering in four more years under a Republican President. What are your opinions? Is this immoral or wrong? Is Limbaugh wrongfully manipulating Democracy in America, or is he just advocating strategic voting? This is good news for Obama supporters though, because it shows that he is seen as the stronger candidate by many people outside of the Democratic party.

Barry Obama

According to Newsweek, for much of his life, the man we know as Barack Obama was called by the nickname Barry. Oh, what a scandal! It was not until he started attending Columbia University that he stopped going by the nickname Barry and began to be called by his formal African name. In my opinion, the press has just run out of things to talk about when it comes to the primaries. Newsweek took an unsignificant, but somewhat interesting fact about Obama, and turned it into the front page story. But as it turns out, much of the story wasnt about the nickname, but simly delved into Obama's past and his personal life, which i feel has no place in American Politics. Do you think that this was a front-page worthy story? In my opinion, there are more important things to report on that the fact that Obama liked to eat "chicken satay, traditional fried rice and meatballs the size of tennis balls."