Friday, September 24, 2010

(Posting #3a): Thoughts on the War in Afghanistan

After today's discussion in class, I am confident that each of you has at least as much background knowledge as a typical American voter (and probably more!). Please use this thread to continue the dialogue we began in class today: what are your opinions about the on-going U.S. War in Afghanistan?

GO FARTHER! In December, 2009, President Obama gave a major policy speech at the US Military Academy in West Point, NY, outlining the rationale for the war. You are welcome to watch that speech in its entirety here or check out a shorter excerpt. For a contrasting point-of-view, consider this article in which Afghani activist Malalai Joya suggests that "...[American] occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war.” For more background on the conflict, please see this interactive feature at the Council on Foreign Relations website.

1. To satisfy requirements for this assignment, you must either: 1) post your opinion - thoughtfully; and/or 2) respond to one of your classmates' posts - in the spirit of deliberative dialogue. (Daily Work grade)
2. Remember to 'sign' your post with first name and last initial - so that you'll earn credit.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Posting #2b) 1st Amendment Hypothetical: "US v Terry Jones"

For a moment, let's assume that Terry Jones had burned the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11:

Would Jones' controversial actions have been protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution?
Should Federal law prohibit the act of burning the Koran - to protect American troops abroad; to protect Americans from renewed terrorist threats at home; and/or to show the world that Americans remain tolerant of diverse religious traditions?

Read the background for "US v Terry Jones" assignment here.

GO FARTHER! For a retired Supreme Court Justice's point-of-view on the Constitution as a "living document" and the role of the Court, listen to (or read) NPR's interview with Justice Stephen Breyer here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Posting #2a) Problem-Based Learning: A Call to Collaborate on Project Design

I've been thinking about this Verizon advertisement: the Internet provides a forum that doesn't care about age and experience - only the QUALITY OF IDEAS...

PROBLEM: Younger Americans are less involved in the political process than fellow citizens who are older. According to this report from the US Census Bureau: "In 2008, younger citizens (18-24) had the lowest voting rate (49 percent), while citizens who fell into older age groups (45-64 and 65-plus) had the highest voting rates (69 percent and 70 percent, respectively)."

  1. How can students develop AUTHENTIC (real) VOICES in the political process - as we head toward elections this November?
  2. How can students INFLUENCE the public debate on issues they care about in MEANINGFUL WAYS??
  3. How can we MEASURE the IMPACT of students' political action on political leaders, on elections, on issues???
I want your HELP to develop a project that's broad in its scope, 'messy' in its details, and REAL in its impact. In the process, I envision playing a role similar to the guy in the suit from this YouTube video... can you imagine it? Envision it??

Let's work on this together: have a look at my DRAFT of the assignment:
  • What are your thoughts about developing this PROJECT?
  • What are your recommendations for teams working to define their projects and develop their action plans?

Friday, September 3, 2010

(Posting #1) Reflections on the Iraq War

I've created this thread so that we can continue our class discussion about the Iraq War. I've attached a link to President Obama's primetime address here - you may wish to view it again (in its entirety?) before you post. Also, it might be helpful to read liberal and/or conservative reactions to the speech. EJ Dionne, a left-leaning columnist for The Washington Post, offers his thoughts here, and Karl Rove, a conservative political consultant who worked for George W. Bush, comments here.

To satisfy the requirements for this assignment, you must either: 1) post your opinion - thoughtfully; and/or 2) respond to one of your classmates' posts - in the spirit of deliberative dialogue. (Daily Work grade)

1. Consider writing in MS Word and using copy-and-paste to enter your comment... at least until you are comfortable using our blog.
2. In order for the post to be saved at our blog you'll need to sign-in; use this opportunity to follow our blog!
3. Remember to 'sign' your post with first name and last initial - so that you'll earn credit.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mixing is not Plagiarism... really?!?

I know this is a stretch because it's a long way from the current affairs that we usually talk about in Government... but... I can't resist hearing your thoughts about 17 year-old German author Helene Hegemann's new novel and the controversy (outrage?) over her "sampling" full pages from another author in her work. Interestingly, Ms. Hegemann has apologized for "not being more open about her sources." She did not apologize for using another writer's words without permission, though... she claims that "there's no such thing as originality anyway." UGH! I'm stunned that Hegemann's novel is up to #5 on the German best-seller list... and it's been nominated for a prestigious writing prize, too. Read the full story HERE and then post your comments...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Helpful Advice for President Obama?

In a recent opinion editorial, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks offers a diagnosis for President Obama's sagging approval ratings and advice for 2010. Read the column here and then offer your reaction - what do you think about Mr. Brooks' point-of-view? What advice would you offer President Obama for 2010?

Monday, January 4, 2010

How Effective is a "Kick in the Pants" from President Obama?

How would you describe Ms. Stoltberg's view of Presidential power? What do you think of her point-of-view?