Saturday, October 31, 2009

Can we leave some of them behind?

The No Child Left Behind Act is a nice thought. Wouldn't it be ideal if all children could receive a high quality education and do well in school? The idea behind the No Child Left Behind Act was a good one, but several flaws and oversights have led it to have the opposite effect.
The purpose of the Act was to guarantee all children the opportunity of receiving a quality education regardless of disability or minority status. Its goal was to have all children reach the level of proficient in the areas of reading and math according to state academic achievement standards and tests. The Act planned for 100 percent proficiency by 2014.
The most blatant problem here is that the Act left it up to the states to define what "proficient" means. This allows for there to be a discrepancy among states of levels of achievement, meaning some students are being challenged where others are not. This also creates a difference in scores on state and national tests. In 2003, 58 percent of Maryland's fourth-graders passed the state reading test but only 32 percent passed the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). That same year, Mississippi's fourth-graders had a gap of 89 percent and 18. This proves that schools are lowering their standards to produce an image of improvement.
Also the aim for 100 percent proficiency encompasses all students, disabled and advanced alike, which is unrealistic. All students cannot achieve to a high standard and some may just not want to. The only way schools have found to make up for this is to set the bar lower.
Another flaw is the punishment that low-performing schools receive. The NAEP has become tool to measure whether a school is progressing to meet the Act's standards. When a school is found to be failing, funds can be cut or redirected towards tutoring programs, and students are given the option to transfer to schools that pass the Act's standards. Pulling resources and students from troubled schools doesn't seem like a way to improve them.
We have dug ourselves into a hole that just keeps getting deeper. To meet the Act's requirements and avoid punishment, schools continue to lower their standards to create an appearance of progress and "proficiency." Slipping standards has reduced the quality of education students receive, which is why this law was written in the first place. Improving the level of education was a nice idea, but expecting schools to make every single child succeed was too much. Now No Child Left Behind might as well be Every Child Left Behind.

--waffle crisp--

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Patchin' Up Health Care

"Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a sweeping healthcare overhaul on Thursday that would transform the insurance market, create a government-run insurance plan and levy new taxes on the rich. Weeks of closed-door negotiations to merge three House healthcare plans produced a 1,990-page bill that would cost a net $894 billion over 10 years -- just below President Barack Obama's target of $900 billion -- and reduce the deficit by $104 billion over the same period, budget analysts estimated." (Whitesides, Smith)

President Barack Obama praised lawmakers in the House of Representatives for making the Affordable Health Care for the United States act as a "critical milestone" and trying to improve the heath care system. The bill has a government insurance option and the growth of Medicaid, but it does leave issues like abortion and immigration untouched. The bill will stop companies from refusing coverage to those that are sick. It will supply subsides to many people so they can afford the insurance, decide between commercial insurers and their plans next to the government option. "They have forged a strong consensus that represents a historic step forward." said Obama. ( This bill would make health care more affordable for the middle class and safer for senior citizens and will not expand the national deficit.

These quotes and articles address current issues we are discussing in class. An example would be how it discusses closed-door negotiations. This relates to our recent discussion on Chapter 12 Congressional Lawmaking.



Should Euthanasia Be Legalized?

Euthanasia is an issue that is highly debated. Should you be able to end your own life if you are in extreme amounts of pain or cannot retain a better quality of life? Or is ending a life (including your own) wrong in all circumstances? We should legalize euthanasia because people should have the right to die in extreme circumstances.

Euthanasia is not all the same, and it is important to know the different types. These types are broken up into two groups. These groups are active and inactive; and voluntary and involuntary. Active euthanasia is when a doctor takes steps to end a patient's life, whereas inactive euthanasia is simply stopping medical treatment to end a life. Examples of active euthanasia would be giving someone an overdose of painkillers, and an example of inactive euthanasia would be stopping a ventilator keeping someone alive. In most cases, inactive euthanasia is considered legal because you are not killing a person; you are just failing to save them. Voluntary euthanasia is when the doctor has permission from the patient to end that person's life, and involuntary euthanasia is when the doctor has no permission from the patient (but usually has permission from the family, because the patient cannot talk for his/herself.)

One of the reasons that we need to legalize euthanasia is that with technological advances, someone who is in extreme pain could live for the remainder of their natural life. Most people wouldn't want to live this way. In outlawing euthanasia we are forcing people to live that don't want to.

Another reason we need to legalize euthanasia is because people who would do this are probably going to die anyway. Many people who would end their lives are terminally ill, and are going to die anyway. Also, most of the people who would end their lives would die a painful death, and don't want to have to go through that. Euthanasia would be a way for them to have power over how and when they are going to die, so that they can prepare both mentally and emotionally, and would also give them control over something that they would have no say in.

For everybody, death is inevitable. Many people live in pain and agony every day. Many of these people have lost the will to live. Your life should be something that you have complete control over. If you were terminally ill, would you want to be told that you can't choose to end your life, or would you want to be given the choice to do so?

Wind Turbines For Schools - Why Not Papillion-La Vista South?

By Jeff Martin, USA TODAY

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Towering more than 12 stories above a school playground, a pair of wind turbines transform the gusts blowing over the lakes and ridges surrounding this northern Iowa town into power that provides about half of the school district's electrical needs.
Students here can "look right out the back door" to see the giant turbines capture the wind and learn how they can produce power, Spirit Lake schools Superintendent Doug Latham says.

More than 80 schools across the USA have installed some type of wind turbine, says Ian Baring-Gould, senior engineer in a wind technology center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Now, a program called Wind for Schools is aiming to bring smaller turbines to six states: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is the first program to use smaller turbines with a mission of educating students and the community about wind power, Baring-Gould says.

In Faith, S.D., home to one of the schools hoping to build a small wind turbine in the next couple of years, a fierce wind blows across the plains most days.

Angela King, who teaches science in grades 7 to 12 in Faith, believes a turbine will give students learning about wind energy the chance to "see it happening, rather than just reading it in a book."

Much of the first year of the three-year program has been spent identifying schools hoping to participate; South Dakota, for instance, announced its eight school districts over the summer, says Steve Kolbeck, a state public utilities commissioner.

About five schools in Kansas have the turbines, and schools in Montana, Idaho and South Dakota are now preparing sites and will have them installed during this school year, Baring-Gould says.

Now, the goal is to add wind turbines at about five schools per year in each state, for a total of about 30 per year overall, Baring-Gould says.

The turbines will be on towers up to 70 feet tall, and it's projected that they will produce around 3,000 to 4,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is generally enough to provide only a fraction of a school's electric needs, Baring-Gould says.

The price of a wind turbine will be about $6,000 in out-of-pocket costs, according to a Department of Energy project summary.

State grants may provide some of that cost, the summary states, and many project participants donate their time.

Curriculum guides for grade levels kindergarten through 12 are part of the program.

"The curriculum piece that goes with it is just as important as the hardware," says Tom Potter, the Colorado facilitator for Wind for Schools.

The curriculum will help train workers for the booming wind industry — an important aim of the overall program, Baring-Gould says.

"It's a big growth industry, and it's going to get even bigger," says Mick Womersley, an associate professor at Unity College in Unity, Maine.

Wind energy provided less than 1% of the USA's electricity at the end of 2006 but is expected to provide 20% of the nation's electricity by 2030 if the industry's annual growth of 25%-30% continues, according to Colorado Wind for Schools, which coordinates the program there.

Workers knowledgeable about the turbines will be needed, including people who know how to find suitable locations for them, a key skill, Womersley says. Womersley helped students build a turbine at Unity using a rebuilt car part — an alternator — purchased from an auto parts store. It was damaged last spring by gales, so Womersley is having his students shop around for a good turbine this semester. He didn't tell them which one to buy. "We'll get as much teaching out of it as we can," he says.

Martin reports for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Affirmative Action

                Affirmative action was started in the 60s as a way to ensure fair treatment for blacks and minorities in colleges and the workplace. These initiatives were very successful but it's 2009 and America needs to ask itself if these measures are still necessary. After all, the US has a black president, a Hispanic women as a  justice on the Supreme Court and two women have served as the Secretary of State.

                Proponents for affirmative action argue that minorities and women are still trying to catch up to white males . In 1994 one study found that women earned seventy-two percent of men's salaries, even if they had the same education and merit. The same study found the African-American men earned seventy-nine percent of a white male's salary in a similar position. Also minorities and women were less likely to be promoted to senior positions .

                In 1995, the Regents of the University of California voted to end affirmative action in all University of California campuses. Gender, race or ethnicity could no longer be used to judge a candidate for admissions. These programs were implemented in 1997 for graduate schools and 1998 for under-graduate schools.

                Proponents of affirmative action used the results of the ruling to support their case. There was a sixty-one percent drop in admissions of African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans at the University of California at Berkeley and a thirty-six drop at the University of California at Davis.What they fail to mention is that there was decline in the number of applications to all California universities from African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos . Any person that  doesn't apply to a university will not be admitted.

                These racial preferences have also caused minorities to be unprepared for the program into which they are admitted. Richard Sanders, a professor at the law school of UCLA,  has examined law schools and the bar tests in California to see the effect of racial preferences in the institution.  He found that students admitted by racial preference had a higher drop-out rates and lower bar-passage rates than white students at the same school or other minorities at a less prestigious school where they did not need racial preference to be admitted .

                Many opponents of affirmative action believe that minorities are using these programs as a crutch. Linda Chavez, a civil rights activist, believes, that while they were once necessary, affirmative action is now hurting the minorities it is trying to help.  They can send a message that minorities need help in being equal to white students when they are just as capable of going to college and getting a degree . One proponent for affirmative action called some schools, like Harvard's,  policies of offering to give a scholarship to help pay for any poor student's education just a Band-Aid solution. He thought it was nice, but he wondered how many poor kids in Texas would apply.Harvard's policy is the answer to leveling the playing field. This is everything affirmative action wanted. Schools are giving an equal opportunity to all students, no matter their situation. The entire goal of affirmative action was to provide equal opportunities for all men and women, no matter their race or gender.

                Affirmative action worked to level the playing field. Minorities have more opportunities than ever before to get a good education and succeed. The responsibility now lies in the hands of the minorities and women to take advantage of them.
--Miss Eli

Works Cited

Fewer Americans See Economy as Top Priority for Obama

Saturday, October 24, 2009

America's Expanding Belt

America's Expanding Belt
America the bold. America the beautiful. America the proud. What about America the land of big belts? In the early 1980's and certainly the years before then, issues of weight were rarely ever talked about. It simply wasn't a major concern. However, in the 21st century, it is one of the most prominent matters walking America's sidewalks and sitting in her office chairs. Some might blame this epidemic on not enough time to exercise or control what is eaten or not enough money to purchase healthy food; but the real problem is America's attitude towards food. America is fixated on food- all food - of every sort. "The more the better, the bigger the better", is the motto. The two biggest problems that have contributed to America's Expanding Belt and have become a "norm" in our society are:

1. Portion Sizes. The truth is, American's eat too much in one sitting. These portion sizes have gotten out of control in the last few decades. Between 1962 and the year 2000, the number of obese Americans grew from 13% to an alarming 31% of the population. Walk into a fast food restaurant and order just a hamburger, and the cashier suggests getting a "meal deal", including a hamburger, a large fry, and a large fountain drink, for a cheaper price than just a hamburger. That would sound like a good deal to anyone looking to save some change. However, the bonus of more food for less money becomes a snag, as you must loosen your belt. Even top-notch restaurants dish out more than a fair share. Look on the menu and you will find an individual size, a lunch size, and family/dinner size. The restaurant gives you the choice of a 8 oz. steak or a 24 oz steak. A study from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that the frequency of eating out, particularly at fast-food restaurants, is associated with an increase in energy and fat intake. Even eating at home requires portion control. It is easy to overeat when one's attention is focused on something else, like the TV.
Human bodies are not designed to sift through five pounds of food, digest it, and find a place to store the extra goodies for later – in one sitting. If America could eat more like some Europeans, who eat five to six times a day with petite portions, we might be able to slim down and save our bodies the burden of overhauling.
2. We do not move enough. The 21st century is the time of technology. Every home has at least one TV and maybe a computer. These pieces of technology have become such a huge part of our lives, along with remote controls and video games. According to statistics, 20% of Americans are completely sedentary, 60% get no regular exercise, and 64% of school age children have no daily exercise. How are these results possible when there are numerous public gyms in every city and/or town, athletic stores that sell exercise machines, and the entire outside world of grass, sidewalks, and trails that are available to our use? People gain more weight if they eat more calories than they expend. So by not moving around every day, the hundreds of calories consumed within an hour sit in the gut.
Obesity, while it is encouraged by genetic factors out of one's control, is mostly a result of one's behavior and environment. Thus, it can be treated fairly easily. Secondly, the obesity problem is a new one that mushroomed in just twenty years. This means that it is a problem that can be fixed, perhaps in the same, short period of time that it took hold of the country. If children can learn to eat well and incorporate exercise into their daily routine, then the rates of obesity may just start to decline as they grow up and become adults. Educational programs, good parenting, and nutritious cafeteria food can make a big difference for kids. All it takes to reform the number of obese people is a simple change in diet - eat less in one sitting and eat healthier foods- and make time to exercise at least once day. Take care of your lifestyle and make sensible choices. In other words, alter the body and alter the environment to slim down America's belt.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama Sees Approval Slide in His Third Quarter

Is Omaha Still Safe?

According to statistics gang violence is a growing problem in the Omaha area.  The Omaha Police say that gang-related felonies are up 73% in the Omaha Area over the same time last year.  There are hundreds of kids living in Omaha today that are at the risk of entering into gangs. Gangs can offer the feeling of acceptance, protection, and sometimes money. The increasing high school dropout rate and unemployment rate in South Omaha are causing growth of gangs. The lack of family structure and support also causes a growth in gangs.  

Statistics show us that gang violence is an increasing problem in Omaha.  The police say that they have been adding about 30 new gang members a month to their list. In 2004 there were about 2,400 gang members and in 2008 there were about 3,600 gang members. That is a 50% increase in gang members in four years.  Police also say that they suspect that there is a new gang in Omaha making the total 29 known gangs in Omaha.  There were 44 homicides recorded in 2008, and 11 are said to be gang-related, that means 25% of the homicides recorded were gang-related.  Omaha's 2008 homicide total is the highest one-year total in the past several decades, and so far the 2009 total is 24 homicides.

Omaha has seen a rise in gang violence and gang membership in the last few decades but we have also seen a big crackdown on gang violence.  The Omaha area has set up more afterschool programs, which keep kids off the streets and away from the influences of the gangs.  The police department has a Gang Unit that specializes in arresting gang members My Question now is not "Is Omaha Still Safe?", but "What is the best solution?".  Nebraska politicians think that creating stiffer penalties is the way to go, but whatever it may be we just need to find the right one because Gang Violence is on the rise.  There is always more than one solution to any problem; we just have to choose the most effective.


   Love Spell
Click here to light up your life with a love spell!
Click Here For More Information

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prison Reform

          “The United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, houses nearly 25 percent of the world's prisoners” (Lithwick 28). By far, the US incarcerates more citizens than any other country, indicating that crime in this nation is a veritable monster, or that there is something seriously wrong with our prison system, and perhaps our legal system in general. The majority of US prisoners, though, were convicted for nonviolent crimes. Therefore, the problem ostensibly lies with our legal system and how we handle convicted criminals. Prison reform is needed, and quickly.
            We are not imprisoning the right people. It is estimated that 16 percent of inmates (350,000) suffer from some sort of mental illness. Inmates with psychiatric disorders rarely receive treatment, and the effects of incarceration make treatment after release far more ineffective. Also, depression as a result of incarceration makes suicide the leading cause of death among inmates, with nearly all victims suffering from mental illness. Further, the majority of inmates have committed nonviolent crimes. Prison, by definition, takes away almost every freedom and liberty granted to every US citizen. In a nation that esteems such qualities so highly, it follows that prison would only be reserved to those who present a serious threat to society or the freedoms of other individuals. This is not the case. 
            Approximately 60 billion dollars per year is used to imprison 2.2 million inmates.
This amounts to over 27 thousand dollars per inmate. Taxpayers shoulder their cost of living, so it is the taxpayer who is truly punished for crimes the inmate committed.
            Prison, as it stands, is outrageously costly, in many cases unjust, and extremely ineffective. In order to solve the problem, three things must be done. First, those who deserve to be there need to be weeded out from those who don’t. For the most part, this means those who commit serious offenses. Second, inmates need to work for their cost of living just as everyone else. Food and shelter has always been reserved to those who earn it, and inmates are certainly capable of earning it. There’s no reason why taxpayers should pay for their amenities. Finally, Prison needs to be a place that inspires reform. It needs to be harsh and it needs to make inmates afraid of returning once they are free.
Philip Whitehurst XXIII

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Political Action Committees in College Football

Political Action Committees in College Football
The current college football post season consists of a bowl championship series otherwise known as the BCS. The BCS is a series of 32 bowl games that college teams compete in. These range from random no name bowls like the bowl to the BCS National Championship, where the number one and two teams in the nation play for the top honor in college football. The BCS system is often criticized because of its complex system of computer rankings, and coaches polls that often end unfairly for good teams. Recent outcries and debates have drawn the attention from Washington.
A group of college football fans have recently formed a Political Action Committee (PAC) to push for a college football playoff system much like the NFL. The fans are hoping that the influence of Congress will pressure college officials to make a change. "What we wanted to do was put together an effective way to ratchet up the political pressure." One of the PAC's founders Matthew Sanderson told the Omaha World-Herald.

Although a playoff system would be the fairest way to determine a national champion, the bowl system creates 32 more games in one season to create revenue for small towns and cities that the games are played in. The Chancellor of the University of Nebraska and chairman of the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, Harvey Pearlman, said that the BCS was one of the best things to happen to college football. "It modifies the traditional conference alignment with particular bowls to create the opportunity for the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams to meet in a bowl game, while preserving the bowl system to the benefit of 64 universities and many cities around the country," states Pearlman. College football players and fans also enjoy the bowl system because it allows teams that may not be the best in the country to get their chance at some postseason action. No matter how the post season is run, there will always be a love for college football within many fans hearts.


Frank Luntz On Voter Anger

One in Four Support Healthcare Bill, 33% Oppose

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Election Turnout Ideas Debated

LINCOLN — Proponents of election changes say Nebraska’s neighbors could teach the state a thing or two about registering voters — if the state wanted to learn.

Iowa and Wyoming allow people to register and vote on Election Day.

Kansas allows voter registration online, and Colorado plans to launch an online registration system next year.

Colorado and South Dakota both allow residents to cast ballots even if they have moved within the state and not re-registered at their new address.

All are steps being encouraged by advocates for change to add and keep more citizens on the voting rolls.

But Nebraska officials have reacted warily to those ideas.

Secretary of State John Gale said the current voter registration system is easy to use and works well. Although he says he is not closed-minded about new ideas, he takes a “very, very cautious” approach to any proposed changes.

“We’re not looking for fixes because we don’t sense that there is any failure in our system,” he said.

Some have philosophical objections to making voter registration easier.

At a public hearing Friday, State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont told of the efforts he made to vote with an absentee ballot while serving shipboard in the military. Janssen said others need to take similar responsibility to get registered and vote.

“Why are we changing the whole system for the people who are too lazy to get registered?” he asked.

Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln, chairman of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, has an answer for such objections.

He said making it easier for people to register is one way to get more people to vote and to take an interest in government.

“My own view is to expand participation and extend the franchise as broadly as you can,” Avery said. “My view is that improves democracy.”

Avery has twice introduced legislation to allow Election Day registration in Nebraska. His latest proposal remains in committee, along with a similar bill introduced by Sen. Kent Rogert of Tekamah.

Backers of the idea point to the experience of other states. Iowa, for example, had the fifth-highest voter turnout in the nation last year and saw 45,929 people register on Election Day.

A study by Demos, a think tank on election issues based in New York City, estimated Election Day registration could improve Nebraska voter turnout by 5.4 percent overall and as much as 10.6 percent among citizens ages 18 to 25.

But Gale and county election officials say the idea would create major headaches for poll workers, could slow down the voting process and would not give officials a chance to verify registration information.

Matching new registrants with the right ballots is more complicated in Nebraska than Iowa because of the many smaller offices on Nebraska ballots.

Nebraskans for Civic Reform, a group pushing Election Day registration, argues that the logistics can be worked out.

“It’s something that is feasible and it’s not rocket science,” said Adam Morfeld, the group’s executive director.

Nebraskans for Civic Reform also is pushing for an online voter registration option in Nebraska. The idea has not been introduced in the state before, but Sen. Bob Giese of South Sioux City plans to offer a bill next year.

Giese said Nebraska can learn from other states about using technology to get more people involved. Online registration would supplement, not replace, the current paper system.

“It’s the way things are headed,” Giese said.

Kansas’ online system is a collaborative effort by state election officials and the motor vehicles department.

People must have a driver’s license or state identification card to register online, and the system draws information and signatures from the driver’s license database for the voter registration record.

Brad Bryant, Kansas state election director, said electronic registration cuts down on the cost and inaccuracies of a paper-based system.

A study in Maricopa County, Ariz., found that it cost 83 cents to process a paper registration, compared with 3 cents for an online one.

Gale has not explored the idea in depth but worries about the safety and security of Internet-based registration. He said he expects it may be a decade before Nebraska takes the online leap.

There are no proposals currently for Nebraska to follow Colorado or South Dakota’s lead in letting people cast provisional ballots if they move within the state and have not changed their voter registration.

Nebraska allows people to cast provisional ballots only if they have moved within a county and not re-registered.

Gale was hesitant about the cost and potential value of an expanded system of provisional ballots. He said he believes most people who move change their voter registration when they change the address on their driver’s license.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Husker Hero: Ndamukong Suh - ESPN Video

Democrats claim only 20% are Republicans

The latest average from says Republicans account for 22.5 percent of adults polled.
In a recent round of partisan fighting, Democrats made a claim that piqued our curiosity: that only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans. The comment grew out of the partisan food fight that followed President Barack Obama's surprise win of the Nobel Peace prize.Republicans criticized Obama, claiming he had accomplished little in his first nine months to deserve the award. Democrats swung back, attacking Republicans for being divisive and unpatriotic in their attacks on the president.In a particularly heated statement, Democratic National Committee communications director Brad Woodhouse compared the Republican response to Obama's win with the responses of terrorist organizations."The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the president for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the president of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party," Woodhouse said.He continued, "The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore — it’s an embarrassing label to claim."The number surprised us, so we decided to look into Woodhouse's claim that only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republican.The accuracy of Woodhouse's remark depends on how broadly you define someone's party affiliation. Pollsters typically ask people to identify their party, but results depend on whether you also include people who say they "lean" to one of the parties, or whether you restrict the label to include just registered voters who are likely to vote. Recent polls indicate he was right for broad surveys that were not limited to likely voters. According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 21 percent of adults identified themselves as Republicans, while 33 percent said they were Democrats.An early October CBS poll found basically the same numbers, and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken in September found Republican identification at 18 percent. A check of, a Web site that aggregates recent polls and averages the results, reveals that, overall, about 22.5 percent of adults identify themselves as Republicans, while 33.7 percent identify themselves as Democrats, if you average recent polls. Note that these averages are a little squishy because each poll has a different margin of error, but they give a good estimate of where the country stands.While these numbers may seem low, consider that they typically only include strong and moderate supporters of either party. "Leaners" — those who consider themselves independent but usually lean toward a particular party — are not included.Also, when screened to include just registered voters who are likely to vote in the next election, the share of people identifying with a party increases: 33 percent identify with Republicans and 39 percent identify with Democrats, according to the average. So among the population that is politically active, a higher percentage of people identify with a party.To put the numbers into more context, we talked to Karlyn Bowman, polling analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. She confirmed that lately the self-identified Republican number has hovered in the 20 percent range.
Indeed, the chart shows that since the November 2008 election, the Republican number declined from about 28 percent to 22.5 percent.
So Woodhouse is in the ballpark if you rely on a universe where all adults either identify with a party or are considered independent. But other methods used by pollsters boost the Republican percentage because they screen for voters who are registered and likely to vote, or include more voters who are "leaners." So we find his claim Mostly True.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Censorship

In the United States and many other countries around the world, the
practice of banning books still continues at the national and
sub-national level. The majority of the banning takes place in the
school system. In 2004 alone, over 500 books were challenged because of
their content. The argument supporting book banning is the same as it is
for other forms of censorship; by banning certain books from schools,
they are protecting students from exposure to indecent and controversial
material. The argument against banning books is that students and
parents should have the right to decide whether a book contains indecent
or controversial material, and whether or not they want to read it.
The issues that are most often considered controversial include
language, politics, religion, or sexuality. For these reasons, many
books that are now considered classics have been banned in the past.
Students will likely recognize some of the banned books from their
English classes. In fact, at school, we have read many of these once
banned books, including The Scarlet Letter, Huck Finn, Of Mice and Men,
Lord of the Flies, Ordinary People, Separate Peace, The Handmaid's Tale,
and To Kill A Mockingbird.
The debated issue involved with banning books is if censorship, in order
to protect students, should be allowed. Many that have read the above
books can agree that most, if not all, do contain offensive material.
However, the reason why many works of literature contain offensive
material is to provoke thought in the audience. In a high school
classroom, the offensive content of some works of literature definitely
provokes thought and is often the topic of countless discussions.
However, there are some instances where the offensive nature of the
literature has a negative effect, especially in the case of younger
students. It all comes down to a single question then, should certain
books be off-limits, or should everyone have the right to decide what
they want to read?

Nada for NASA

 Humans have been interested in space ever since we came into existence. Yet with all this interest we fail to make ends meet as a space exploring species. Ever since the Apollo missions of the space race with the Soviet Union NASA (or National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a government run agency)funding  has been reduced dramatically. This has been largely due to the fact that people think the moon was the last stop. This is not the case. George Bush planned to return to the moon by 2020 and land a human on Mars and return him safely by 2050. These plans have come under recent stress. On September 9th, 2009, The Augustine Panel, the panel that was set up a few months earlier to advise the president of funding to NASA, came to a conclusion. That NASA needs $3 billion more added on to their $18 billion budget. This may seem like a lot of money to a common person, but in reality it is very small. Eighteen billion dollars is less than 1% of the government's budget.

How will NASA get this money? There are many plans out there to get NASA this extra $3 billion so they can continue to proceed from the moon to Mars. The Augustine Panel came up with a few, but they aren't very good in my opinion. One of the options says to deorbit the International Space Station in 2016 and use the money put into that to get to the moon. The panel warned that this was a last resort option though. Another plan involves scrapping the planned rocket to take men to the moon and Mars and use commercial rockets instead. This way the government doesn't pay for the rockets directly.

Whatever course of action NASA takes I will support. I believe exploring space is one of the most important things we can do as a species. The technology to get up there and live up there for extended periods also benefits people on Earth. One of the Apollo NASA administrators said, "Comparing technology today and what we had back then is shocking. We essentially went to the moon on the computing power of one laptop and one digital pocket watch. Why can't we get to Mars now?" I think he makes a very good point. NASA has gone very far with what money they have; I think they deserve a little bit more money.

-Marmaduke Maximillian Winchester III


  1.) Brooks, Jeff. "The Space Review: Putting NASA&#8217;s budget in perspective." The Space Review: essays and commentary about the final frontier. 2 July 2007. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <>.

2.) "Cash needed to fuel return to moon." Omaha World-Herald 9 Sept. 2009, Main News sec.: 3A. Print.

3.) Cornish, Neil J. "Lagrange Points." Department of Physics, Montana State University. 21 May 1999. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <>.

4.) Dunbar, Brian. "NASA - What Does NASA Do?" NASA - Home. 9 Mar. 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <>.

5.) Powell, Stewart M. "NASA's mission for billions more may be an uphill battle | National | - Houston Chronicle." Houston news, entertainment, search and shopping | - Houston Chronicle. 13 Sept. 2009. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. <>.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pro-Choice, Not Pro-Abortion

In the abortion war, it's quite easy to find yourself on two equally insane sides: for or against. But the entire argument doesn't have to be this black and white. If one wants to find real solution for the problem, then we should be finding common ground in this debate. The liberal argument is that you can't stop abortions, and it's a woman's right to privacy. The conservative argument is that everybody has a right to life. The thing that's being lost in these absolutist views is that both sides don't want high amounts of abortions. The liberal argument isn't saying "We love abortions!", which is what the conservative argument hears.

So all of us want lower abortions, what can we possibly do with this? The only way that is seen (for the most part) to lower abortions is to make it illegal, or put a cap per woman on it. That route simply will not work. If you even begin you try do either of those, ACLU will have a tantrum, not to mention the obnoxiously morally grayness of it all.

So what is possible for us all to do if we want to lower abortion numbers without bluntly making it illegal? The fixing of the situation requires one approach to the situation: education.

When it comes to young women, there is a distinct correlation between higher education and abortion rates. This basically means, the better educated a woman is, the less likely a teen pregnancy is to happen, thus lowering the chances for abortion. So, if we simply educated women (essentially educated the entire country) better, the abortion rates should fall.

The other major section of society that has abortions is women who, because of economic situations, pretty much have to have an abortion. If they had the child, they couldn't pay the hospital bills, the daycare bills, the food, the clothes, etc of the child. So the only way to fix this situation is to raise the economic situation. But how do we raise the economic situation? Education.

The abortion war is simply not as black and white as it would seem. We all want abortion rates to fall, but the only question is how. A simple answer is education. If we educate our women, we can lower the need for abortions with poor women and teens. This would give our country a far more "pro-life" disposition, while still acting within the "pro-choice" requirements.

-Madonna Wayne Gacy

Hotmail: Powerful Free email
with security by Microsoft. Get it now.

Nobel Jury Speaks out in Defense of Obama Prize

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize this year and that is what this aritcle is about. Some people think its good that he won it while others don't think he has done anything to recieve it. This article ties into American Government because its a honnor that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize because he is the president of the United States. Some people think its a good thing for our government because it shows the other countries what he is trying to accomplish during his time as president. It also shows that the United States is attempting to make changes in world policies and show other countries that peace is a good thing.

Illegal Immigration in the United States

Immigration is commomly defined as the act of entering a new country to settle permanently. Immigration is becoming a major issue in many countries including the united states. One major issue in the United States is that some people think that immigration is a good thing. Well, it is under some circumstances. The united States was built off of immigration. When immigrants enter illegally, our government needs to step in. There is an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. The majority of illegal immigrants in the United States come from Latin America, mostly Mexico.

Illegal immigrants compete with the citizens of the U.S. for jobs which causes problems with unemployment in the U.S. These immigrants usually settle for undesirable or hard jobs at very low wages. This allows illegal immigrants to secure jobs that citizens cannot, based on the simple fact of cheap labor. Many of the illegal immigrants that get through easily secure jobs as maids, toilet cleaners, ditch diggers, fruit pickers, pool cleaners, carpenters, brick layers and roofers. Although some of these are sufficiently compensated middle-class jobs, illegal immigrants are able to do the same work for very low wages, therefore ruining the local job economy. Besides the local job economy issue, illegal immigrants pose another problem to governments as they will do anything to find work after getting through. Some of these immigrants are employed in the sex trade increasing illegal prostitution and the eventual threat of sexually transmitted disease.

Within the current economic conditions there are many employers who are willing to employ illegal immigrants for the lower wages they would work for. Therefore the incentive for people to cross borders illegally is currently more than it has ever been before.

The US constitution states that it will protect all citizens from invaders and illegal immigrants should be classified as invaders since they cross US borders illegally. The problem occurs when state sectors such as healthcare and education are drastically affected by the large ammount of illegal immigrants claiming it for free.

In California alone, some 50 hospitals have been forced to close down due to the fact that they could not turn a profit. This was mainly due to the free care given to illegal immigrants. Also Illegal immigrants' children born in the US are American citizens and they often attend US schools. Research indicates that illegal immigrant parents want their children to be educated in Spanish and not English, forcing these schools to spend millions of dollars on Spanish education. Some illegal immigrants cause violent crimes and end up in US prisons, paid for by US taxpayers.

Some research states that more illegal immigrant mothers gave birth in California alone than American taxpaying citizens. When an illegal immigrant gives birth within the United States the baby is a citizen of America and therefore cannot be deported. However since the baby requires a primary caregiver, generally the mother and some relatives also become citizens. Although the US constitution states that illegal immigrants cannot enter the country and live in the US, limited resources allow them to migrate and make use of the rights and facilities given to and paid for by US citizens. So remember, how would you feel if you didn't get a job because an illegal alien said he would do it for a lesser wage?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Throughout the years, assisted suicide of terminally ill patients has been a very controversial issue. Assisted suicide and euthanasia date as far the 16th century, when Sir Thomas More wrote in his book Utopia, "Should life become unbearable for these incurables the magistrates and priests do not hesitate to prescribe euthanasia." Some view it as "mercy killings" because it ends the patient's pain and suffering. I, along with many others, disagree and believe that it is murder. The patient is not in the proper emotional state to decide between life and death and they may also feel less important to those who care for them.

The word euthanasia originates from the Greek words eu meaning "good" and thanatos meaning "death". Euthanasia is one of the many ways that physicians help to assist a patient's suicide. There are two types of euthanasia: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is when both the patient and the physician agree to help the patient end his or her life. Passive Euthanasia, considered part of voluntary euthanasia, involves cases were the patient is in a vegetative state and are removed from life support or the doctors are instructed not to resuscitate. It would also include "living wills" in which the patient leaves instructions not to use heroic efforts or extraordinary means to save them.

Involuntary euthanasia is when someone other than the patient and the physician takes the life of the patient without the patient's consent. Popular forms of euthanasia are over-dose, or lethal injections of the type of drugs that are commonly used for those who are on death row.

The emotional state of people who have a terminal illness is very different from the emotional state than that of those who are healthy. Some think that they are just a burden to their friends and families and that may cause them to choose death rather than fighting. When they make that decision, they are not thinking clearly. They think that they will help their family by choosing to die, but they do not realize that they are taking something from their family, someone they really care for.

Those who support assisted suicide do not realize that when you give someone the choice to end their life, some people feel that the doctors do not care about them. That may make them think that there is no reason to live because nobody cares if they were to live or die. That causes them to feel pressured into dying and just offering that is like murdering them because they no longer have a sense of self-worth.

Those who are for euthanasia say that it will only be a choice for those who are terminally ill. That all depends on what your definition of terminal means. If you were to look up the definition of 'terminal' in the dictionary, it is says that it is "causing, ending in or approaching death; fatal". According to the famous assisted suicide doctor Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a terminal illness is "any disease that curtails life even for a day." Dr. Kevorkian, a.k.a. Dr. Death, assisted in over 130 suicides in a span of ten years. Kevorkian was tried many times for assisted suicide, eventually convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison.

If assisted suicide was legalized, according to Dr. Kevorkian's definition, someone could choose to end their life instead of taking advantage of all of the treatments for whatever it is that they have. Just in the past ten years doctors and scientists have discovered many treatments, if not cures, that can allow someone to continue their life as they would if they were not sick.

Also, just because someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness does not mean that they will die right away nor does it mean that what life the have left will be unproductive. Many experts even admit that there is no way of pinpointing for sure how long a person has to live after they are diagnosed. Some people can live 20 years with a terminal disease, like when elderly are diagnosed with the incurable disease of Alzheimer's.

Some argue that assisted suicide is how people can control the time, the place, and the way they die. It can be an important aspect to someone so they can say good-bye to those they love and they know that they will no longer be in pain from day to day. If we were meant to know when and where we would die, we would have no reason to live in the first place.

The reality is that we do not know when we are going to die. We are humans that should live our lives and treasure the time we have with those we love. Our death should not be chosen because it is cheaper. We should never choose to die because we are made to believe that we are a burden to our family. We are more of a blessing because they will be able to spend more time with us even when we are sick. We should end our lives feeling like we have meant something to those we have known. We should end our lives, knowing that we have fought to stay alive and sought the cure to our illness.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action was initially mandated by Kennedy to improve opportunities for African Americans during the civil rights movement. His intention was for contractors and employers to hire employees without regard to race. Affirmative action was originally a good policy to try and prevent racism in businesses. Kennedy's successor, Johnson, however, took this policy further and required employers to specifically hire minorities. From there, concepts such as quotas and "the four-fifths rule" (which required employers to hire four-fifths as many women and minorities as white men) were introduced.
Many people generally support affirmative action in theory. The problem that both supporters and non-supporters of the policy find is the use of quotas. These are a set number of minorities that a university or business will attempt to fill, even if it means accepting a less-qualified person over a more-qualified one. Allan Bakke, a white medical student, was denied a place in the University of California's medical program while minorites with much lower test scores were accepted. Out of 100 available places in the program, 16 were reserved for minorities. The Supreme Court agreed that the university's admissions system constituted an unacceptable quota, but it said that it was legal for the school to consider race as a "plus" in an application.
Many supporters of affirmative action believe the policies to be absolutely necessary in our society, which they view as unequal and biased against women and minorities. They argue that the government can't regulate human prejudices against them, and that affirmative action is designed to "compensate" for these prejudices. They also advocate the idea that affirmative action makes up for past injustices committed against certain groups.
However, the problem with affirmative action is that it causes "reverse discrimination", favoring a minority because of wrongs committed, not against that person, but against people years ago who happened to be of the same minority group. Why should women get special treatment over men? I, personally, find it insulting that someone would think we need it. I would much rather get into a university because I'm qualified, not because the admissions system gave me a few "bonus points" because I'm female.
Also, people don't choose their race and they don't choose their gender, so why should they be punished or rewarded for something they can't control? Yes, there has been slavery in the past. Yes, it took a couple centuries before blacks and women could vote. But we've moved forward from that, and there is much less racism and sexism around now than there once was. Unfortunately, discrimination is not something you can altogether eliminate; it still exists. But granting someone a job or a place in a university based on race or gender is only promoting continual discrimination.
Instead of just giving jobs and slots in universities to those who are under-privileged, the government should ensure that more minorities are academically prepared for college and post-graduate careers by raising the standards for primary and secondary education in low-income school districts, and also by encouraging more extracurricular opportunities. A greater emphasis on socioeconomic-based aid programs in higher education would offer equal opportunity to all races and ethnicities, for the socioeconomic differences between high- and low-income families represent a greater injustice than racism. In fact, of the 41.2 percent of American children that were living in low-income families in 2005, 11 million were white, 8.8 million were Latino, and 6.5 million were black.
Children who grow up in poverty attend underfunded and poorly managed schools and don't have the same opportunities afforded by middle class students. All these factors play against disadvantaged students when it comes time to apply to college. For this reason, college admissions should reform the affirmative action policies, basing them on socioeconomic conditions rather than race so that all disadvantaged students are given increased opportunity.

-Sweet Tea

House Votes to Expand Definition of Hate Crimes

Published: October 8, 2009
WASHINGTON — The House voted by a wide margin on Thursday to expand the definition of violent federal hate crimes to cover those committed because of a victim's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
Skip to next paragraph

The Caucus

The latest on President Obama, the new administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.

Democrats and advocates hailed the 281-to-146 vote, which put the measure on the brink of becoming law, as the culmination of a long push to curb violent expressions of bias like the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming college student.
"Left unchecked, crimes of this kind threaten to ruin the very fabric of America," said Representative Susan Davis, Democrat of California.
The hate-crimes measure was approved as part of a broad $681 billion Pentagon policy measure, a strategy that infuriated House Republicans who accused Democrats of employing a form of legislative blackmail.
Most Democrats voted for the measure, as did more than 40 Republicans.
Republicans who opposed the measure said Democrats were essentially forcing through contentious social policy by tying it to a highly popular measure that authorizes military pay, benefits, weapons programs and other essentials for the armed forces. Even some Republican members of the Armed Services Committee who helped write the underlying legislation said they would oppose it solely because of the hate-crimes provision.
"We believe this is a poison pill, poisonous enough that we refuse to be blackmailed into voting for a piece of social agenda that has no place in this bill," said Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, a senior Republican member of the committee.
Republicans also criticized the substance of the legislation as an effort to prosecute "thought crimes" in which the motivation of the attacker has to be discerned.
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, called it radical social policy. "The idea that we're going to pass a law that's going to add further charges to someone based on what they may have been thinking, I think is wrong," he said.
The final Pentagon measure must still be approved by the Senate. But the hate-crimes provision has broad support there, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said the contents of the overall measure outweighed his own objections to including the hate crimes provision.
President Obama supports the hate-crimes measure, though the White House has raised objections to other elements of the bill related to military procurement. If it is signed into law, the legislation would reflect the ability of Democrats to move ahead on difficult measures with their increased majorities in Congress and a Democrat in the White House.
"Elections have consequences," Mr. McCain said.
The hate-crime provision had passed both the House and Senate in previous years as a separate bill, but the bill could never clear its final hurdles. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was fitting that Congress was acting now because Monday is the 11th anniversary of Mr. Shepard's death. The legislation is known as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for Mr. Shephard and a black man who was killed in a race-based attack in Texas the same year.
"When I came to Congress 22 years ago, hate-crimes legislation was one of the items on my agenda," Ms. Pelosi said.
The hate-crimes legislation allocates $5 million a year to the Justice Department to provide assistance to local communities in investigating such crimes, a process that can sometimes strain local police resources. It allows the Justice Department to assist in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes if asked to do so by local authorities.
"The problem of crimes motivated by bias is sufficiently serious, widespread, and interstate in nature as to warrant federal assistance to states, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes," the measure says.
Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded reports of more than 77,000 hate crimes from 1998 through 2007 and that crimes based on sexual orientation were on an upward trend.
"The hate-crimes act will hopefully deter people from being targeted for violent attacks because of the color of their skin or their religion, their disability, their gender, or their sexual orientation, regardless of where the crime takes place," he said.
Raising a criticism of the legislation that has circulated among conservatives, Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 House Republican, said the measure could inhibit freedom of speech and deter religious leaders from discussing their views of moral traditions for fear of being caught up in the law.
"It is just simply wrong to use a bill designed to support our troops to reverse the very freedoms for which they fight," he said.
But Democrats noted that the bill specifically bars prosecution based on an individual's expression of "racial, religious, political or other beliefs." It also states that nothing in the measure should be "construed to diminish any rights under the 1st Amendment to the Constitution."
Still, Republicans said the hate-crimes measure was unconstitutional, and a court challenge is expected if it becomes law.

This Article is related to American Government because it's talking about how Democrats want to create a bill that says that a crime committed against someone because of their gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs is a hate crime. Many Republicans don't agree with this because they think that any crime is a hate crime, not just one committed because of a certain persons belief or life style. The Republicans think that this bill is unconstitutional and they will fight to end this bill if it does get approved by the senate and becomes a law.