Monday, June 7, 2010

Plants and Infections

Apparently, the plants that have genes that make them more hardy and less susceptible to plant infections and diseases also have the disadvantage of being extremely slow growers. The longer a plant is in a young, not adult stage, the more exposed it is to danger of that kind. This beneficial gene comes with a trade off. The growth gene for the immunity gene. This is valid and important because they will most likely find a way to link this to humans and it will be interesting.

Maybe its just me who feels like this matters to humans. What do you think? Is this an important discovery in science research or not? Why?

New Rasmussen Generic Ballot Numbers

Earlier Today, the polling service Rasmussen Reports came out with new polling data comparing a generic republican to a generic democrat. Although initially the results are unsurprising (Republicans are up 9 points over Democrats), further calculation and comparison turns out to reveal more interesting data. Neil Stevens of Red State Blog calculated the swing form democrat to Republican from last election, and based on these numbers (when third party victories are factored out) it is an astronomically high 22 point swing towards the Republican side from 2008. This hypothetically translates into a 60 House Seat gain for republicans this November; but as the author notes, a lot can still happen between now and then.
1. How much stock do you put in polls such as this one when predicting electoral outcomes?
2. Do you agree with the conclusions the article's author drew from the data?

States and Medicaid

During these hard economic times states are suffering in many areas, one of them being Medicaid. Both state and federal governments are struggling with budget cuts and with where to find the very needed money for Medicaid.

Do you think Congress should pass the 6 month extension on Medicare funding?
How reliant should states be on federal money for Medicaid?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Obama Appointment

Obama to appoint a new director of national intelligence. He has selected Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr. to fill the post left by Adm. Dennis C. Blair.

Respond to one of the two:
1) Clapper's appointment is quite controversial because of his military position. Many people believe someone outside the military should be appointed. What do you think?
2) According to the article, President Obama forced Mr. Blair to resign from his post as director of national intelligence. How do you think he did that?

Oh God...Not another post on the oil spill

While you guys are probably very sick of responding to articles concerning the recent oil spill, I wanted to discuss something different about the incident. The article that I have posted discusses the recent news that employees of BP may in fact have to face criminal charges for the spill. The articles details the three environment laws, the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Refuse Act, all of which have been violated by the spill and how having done so could lead to massive fines and even imprisonment. While it is agreed upon that no one meant for the spill to happen, the negligence that was associated with it is a criminal offense. What do you guys think? Should some people have to spend time in the clinker?

Texas Execution

Texas is about to execute a man 32 years after his crime. Many say he has changed for the better. He even wrote a letter to the family of the deceased sounding fully regretful and responsible for his actions. Even police officers speak of the changed character. What should happen? Should this "changed man" be killed on June 15th the senior graduation day?

Approval Ratings

Recently, Obama's approval ratings have been steadily declining. How do you feel that Obama has been doing as president? And do you think that his approval ratings will decrease, increase, or remain the roughly the same?

Oil Spill

A recent oil spill in the Gulf has been causing chaos for many. Fisheries and fragile wetlands are continuously being damaged with each passing day. My question is who do you think should be responsible for the spill and to clean it up? Obama? BP? Also what do you think should be done to solve the problem.

Bush defends waterboarding

1. Do you agree with Bush that waterboarding is an accetpable punishment or do you agree with the Obama adminstration that it is considered "cruel and unusual"?
2. Do you think it was an effective punishment for the people behind 9/11?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Arizona Law

The Arizona law is a law recently passed in Arizona allowing police to search and ask for proof of immigration status based upon reasonable suspicion. My question is do you think it is constitutional?

Monday, May 31, 2010

AP US Gov Current Events

Final blog assignment: Please find a current events article of interest to you (2010) that relates to one or more gov concepts that we have studied this semester. Once you have found an article from a reputable news source, publish a new post (click on pencil sign and then new post) that gives a brief introduction to and thoughtful prompt or question related to the issue, and then link the article for your colleagues to read and respond to. Then later in the week read another student's new post and linked article and provide a thoughtful comment to their prompt or question.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Do You Have to be a Judge to Serve on the Supreme Court?

President Obama has just announced Elena Kagan, as his pick for the United States Supreme Court to replace Justice John Paul Stevens who is resigning at the end of this term. Kagan is the current Solicitor General and former Dean of the Harvard Law School, and carries an impressive reputation as a legal scholar and jurist. However, the fact that she has not served as a federal court judge has caused many to question whether she is qualified for a job on the Nation's highest court.

In fact, Kagan's appointment encourages renewed national dialogue about what qualities are important to become one of the nation's elite judges in general. For example, does it matter that the Court, with Kagan, would be comprised of 8 Ivy League jurists educated at either Harvard or Yale, or that 4 of the 9 justices are from New York, or that 6 are Catholic and 3 are Jewish? Does diversity in Court composition matter?

After reading the article linked below please answer any one or more of the following question, making reference to the article in at least one comment posted:
  1. Do you think prior experience as a judge should be a requirement of any potential nominee to the Supreme Court?
  2. Is diversity in Supreme Court composition important, and if so, to what extent?
  3. Do you think President Obama made a good choice in picking Elena Kagan for the next Supreme Court justice of the Untied States? Why or why not?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Freedom of Religion or Discrimination?

Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the issue of whether a public university's anti-discrimination policy is in fact a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The Hastings College of Law has a nondiscrimination policy that requires official student groups to admit any Hastings student who wants to join the organization. However, the student-led Christian Legal Society on campus contends that by requiring it to allow gay students and nonbelievers into its leadership would force the group members to renounce their core beliefs and that "the policy violates the Constitution's guarantees of free speech, association with like-minded individuals and exercise of religion." The student group is suing the Law School because it wants access to various benefits and the student activity fees that go along with official sanction by the University. However, it does not want to adopt the University's nondiscrimination policy that applies to all other student groups.

After reading the article linked below, how do you think the Supreme Court should decide this case? And in your opinion, is this case more about civil liberties and freedom of religion and association, or, is this really a civil rights case about discrimination against gay students?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Supreme Court Justices: the "empathy" Criterion

Six months after President Obama took office he had the opportunity to name a successor to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Justice David Souter. Among other typical requirements such as intelligence and experience, he also spoke of empathy as "an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes." President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a female Hispanic appellate court judge from the Second Circuit, who was eventually confirmed by the Senate. Her prior remarks precipitated healthy criticism from Republicans and legal scholars alike for her now famous "wise Latino woman" reference anad other remarks she made about her own view of judging.

Please read the article linked below and respond to any one or more of the following questions:

1) Given the fact that the Supreme Court has been charged with protecting minority interests from the self-serving majority in this country, is empathy a legitimate criterion for new Supreme Court nominees?
2) Is it realistic to presume that any judge can separate his or her personal background, experiences, and perspective from his or her decisionmaking on the bench?
3) Are you concerned that Justice Sotomayor will be biased in her decisionmaking on the Supreme Court, or do you think she was merely stating what we all know to be true: that the Supreme Court does engage in judicial activism from time to time, and as such, does make policy when it feels the need to do so?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Executive Power and Signing Statements

Many people believe that the unprecedented expansion of presidential power was the defining feature of the Bush presidency. Much of this expanded executive authority was accomplished through the use of signing statements--written comments issued by a president at the time of the signing of a bill. In the past, signing statements were nothing more than commentary by a president on the appropriateness or timeliness of certain legislation. Since the Bush Administration, however, signing statements have been used to effectively veto parts of legislation that the President believes to be unconstitutional, or with which he does not agree. President Obama seems to be continuing in the footsteps of his predecessor in his frequent use of signing statements ( ).

After reading the New York Times article linked below, do you think the presidential use of signing statements is justified given the president's role as Commander-in-Chief and his duty "to faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution" especially in this post-9/11 world? Or do you believe that the use of signing statements undermines the notion of separation of powers as conceived by our Founding Fathers? Please justify your answer with specific reference to the article.'s%20Embrace%20of%20a%20Bush%20tactic%20riles%20Congress&st=cse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do corporations have free speech first amendment rights?

A landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling recently stripped away restraints on corporate political spending opening the door for a barrage of corporate-sponsored campaign advertising in upcoming elections. By a 5 - 4 vote, the Court overturned two of its own decisions as well as the decades-old law prohibiting companies from funding their own candidate ads. The Court held that the ads constitute free speech and, as such, are protected by the First Amendment.

After reading the article linked below, please answer one or more of the following questions:

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to direct unlimited funds to ads that target specific candidates for election?

In a broader sense do you believe that a corporation should have first amendment rights? A corporation is defined as an institution made up of individuals. Would our founding fathers agree with the Supreme Court's position? (Check out the Washington Post report).

Do you think we should go to a system of public financing of presidential election campaigns to make elections more fair?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama and Public Opinion

Public opinion polls play an important role in American politics. They provide a medium through which people can voice their opinions on any given political issue, including the job performance of the President of the United States. A president's standing in the polls, or approval rating, is closely monitored especially in an election year by the press, the public, and the Washington political community because of the close connection between public support of the president and the political fortunes of the democratic members of Congress up for re-election.

In order to be effective public opinion polls must be conducted correctly and provide statstical information that is accurate and understandable. Consumers of public opinion polls, including policymakers and voters, must have confidence in the information such polls present in order to be significant.

After reading the article linked below, do you think the polls mentioned in the article are accurate indicators of the public's approval of President Obama's job performance? Do you think these polls help or hinder our democratic process? Finally, what are your thoughts on Obama's declining approval ratings and this type of polling in general?

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Ghosts of Anti-Federalism

The first significant American political debate about the proper role of government between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists rages on! Back in 1787, Anti-Federalists were highly mistrustful of those who proposed the need for a strong central government with much greater responsibilities than was conceived by the Articles of Confederation. Not much has changed. Today, people are divided once again (and not necessarily along political party lines) about the proper role of government in their lives.

Since he took office one year ago, President Obama has lobbied heavily for government intervention in resolving some of the country's most hotly debated and most difficult issues. Some people have welcomed calls for government intervention into seemingly broken health care, finance, and environmental systems. Other people are convinced that such government intervention is nothing short of furthering a socialist agenda.

In his article linked below, Joseph Ellis, suggests that these difficult problems facing our country today can only be resolved if we view the government as "us"--"the chosen respresentative of our collective interests as a people and a nation" rather than "them"--intruders into our individual freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

What do you think? After reading his article, do you agree or disagree with Ellis that the ghosts of Anti-Federalism must be laid to rest and people need to trust government to resolve the country's most difficult issues?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Welcome EHS AP Gov Students!

I am really excited about launching our spring semester classroom blog. I hope this will be an interesting forum for you and your colleagues to share your opinions about current issues related to U.S. government and politics. You will find that most of the issues addressed in this blog will directly relate to concepts that we discuss in class, as well as to those covered on the AP exam in May. In fact, studies by the College Board have shown that students who follow the political news tend to do better on the AP Gov exam. Thus, staying up-to-date on current events will be an essential component and goal of this class.

You will receive more information about how this blog will work shortly. In the meantime, please answer the poll question located in the green column to the right before logging out. Thanks for visiting our classroom blog. I look forward to some fun conversations in the months ahead!

Ms. Nimmo