Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Key Question

Should the Supreme Court have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws?

The Supreme Court should have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review because it reviews the actions of the Legislative and Executive Branch to be sure they are acting accordingly to the constitution.

The Constitution does not explicitly grant the Supreme Court the power of judicial review but it does give the power of the Court to overturn laws deemed unconstitutional. In Federalist No.78, “A Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain it’s meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body,” said Alexander Hamilton. The Constitution says that the judicial power of the United States should be in one Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court doesn’t have the power of judicial review then who would, the states?

The Supreme Court first established its power to declare laws unconstitutional in Marbury v. Madison in 1803 in the system on checks and balances. The power of checks and balances allows judges to have the last word on authoritative issues among the three branches of government. The federal government grants the three branches the ability to set bounds to their own authority.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Washington Post Articles!

In a recent Washington Post article, the problem of age based job discrimination is brought up. A 63 year-old women has been unemployed for a year and a half, during that time she has spent the money she had saved for retirement and will now need to work for an additional 10 years. she has applied to hundreds of jobs and gone to numerous interviews but never gets the job, why? her age! Elizabeth Razzi wrote that more mature applicants should now include a photo of themselves which will call attention to their older age. Although businesses are not allowed to discriminate on age, sex, religion, or nationality, it is something many applicants are aware of.

2. Same-sex marriage
Introduced in October, a bill allows for same-sex marriage in the District. This has caused a bit of controversy for Catholic organizations. In 2001 in Portland a law was passed requiring company's to give equal benefits to same-sex spouses. Catholic Charities refused to sign. They were able to do this because health benefits are regulated by federal law. Federal law does not require employers to recognize same-sex domestic spouses, therefore private employers can not be made too. In DC, a similar battle has been going on. Should employers have to offer benefits to same-sex spouses? Everyone must follow the law, and Catholic Charities has "no basis for demanding a special religious exemption." The debate on whether Catholic Charities will have to pay for benefits in same-sex domestic partnerships is still underway.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

People fighting for their rights- December 10, 2009

Haymarket Massacre- Labor rights

The Haymarket Square Massacre too place in Chicago in 1886. Workers wanted an 8 hour work day and the companies did not think they should have to limit workers hours. The workers decided to form a rebellion and go on strike. Once on strike, things broke out into chaos. All the workers wanted was shorter 8 hour work days, but things got out of hand. One day there as a massacre when workers fired back at police

Women's Rights

In the early 1920's women were expected to take care of the house, the children, and do what their husbands asked of them. On August 26th, 1920 the 19th amendment was finally passed granting women the right to vote. Still today in 2009, many women feel like they do not have equal rights compared to men. But does voting really make you equal? No, allowing women to vote does allow them to have an input into society but in 1923, then the National Women's council tried to get laws passed to grant women equal rights. Although the specific law was never passed, women are thought of as having equal rights to men.

I Have A Dream

Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech is one of the most memorable speeches in history. He talks about standing up for your rights and rise to the challenge. When Martin Luther King gave his famous speech in Washington DC in August of 1963, there were many white people in the audience of 200,000 that supported him. He was asking for racial equality and for an end to discrimination. In his speech he was able to education people of the inequalities that African Americans were facing and also inspire them to rise above it.

Hewy Newton

Hewy Newton fought for equal rights between all people, even homosexuals. He said you must respect all people. People "must gain security in ourselves and therefor have respect for all people."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Observations from class 12/8/09

1. What is the worth of a human being?

All human beings are important. One can have more importance then others but all lives are valuable. Some may say a humans worth is based on their contributions to society, how much money they make, or their material goods, but you must remember even the people with not so glamours jobs are also valuable human beings. All human beings are "worthy" no mater what gender, ethnic group, wealth, or ability.
2. Different minority groups

American Indians, Caucasians, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Caribbean, Pakistani.
3. Graph of ethnicity in the United States:

4. How does a persons worth get determined in America?
In America, a persons worth us usually based on wealth and what kind of contributions to society. In America, the more money a person has the more respect they are given and people look up to them more. Also, if a person contributes in a positive way to society, they are considered to have more wealth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Washington Post Article Reviews

1. Gate crashers at the White House

Tarq and Michaele Salahi are one of the most talked about couples in the country right now. They claim that they were invited to the White House dinner but they were not on the guest list. But how did this happen, many Americans are asking? At each Secret Service checkpoint, the workers assumed that they would be caught at a further check point. The Salahi's did not "crash" the White House dinner to show faults in the Secret Service, but to hopefully get a spot on a TV show, "The Real Housewives of DC." The Salahi's were able to snap a photo with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other notable people such at Katie Couric. I don't know what is more shocking, the fact that Tarq and Michaele Salahi were about to get past security or that they had the guts to do something like that! As the story had been unfolding, there has been reports that the Salahi's are known for party crashing. Attending events with Oprah, Black Eyed Peas singer, and other notable figures. It is not yet clear weather or not the Salahi's will face any criminal charges or what is to come for them, but it is clear the heightened security will be in case for further White House events.

2. Up the intrigure: Let a stranger divide a couple

On Wednesday, Sally Quinn of the Washington Post published an article on weather or not couples should be seated next to one another at a dinner party. This discussion has taken place because at the recent White House State dinner, the Obama's sat a different tables, as well as the prime minister and his wife. Author of this article, Sally Quin, believes that couples sitting at separate table for a dinner party is actually good. It allows them to socialize then with other people and not be worried about the kids back home or deciding who would be picking up the dry cleaning and taking little Billy to soccer practice. Separate table allow for couples to talk to multiple people in one night. Quinn says it is fine for couples to be seated at the same table, but recommends sitting across from one another rather then right next to. This is something I had never thought much about, it is generally common for couples to sit next to each other when out at social events. Sally Quinn reports that many women in LA don't want their husbands sitting next to other beautiful women. This article has sparked some discussion between couples, but as for now, it is socially acceptable to sit next to your spouse or at a different table without causing a lot of discussion.

3. Newseum trims its staff once again

In April of 2008, the Newseum reopened its doors at a larger location. It is one of Washington's newest attractions and since opening in the spring has already trimmed its staff twice. many visitors continue to come to the Newseum but the struggling economy is bringing in diminished donations which forces the Newseum to make cuts. Just recently, the Newseum cut 26 full time positions and 13 part time personal. Although the number of people who are visiting the Newseum continues to increase the amount they are able to donate is diminishing. With this struggling economy, it is sad to hear of anyone loosing a job and company that are forced to make budget cuts and lay off employees, but it must be done. Hopefully, by 2010 author Jacqueline Trescott reports, the Smithsonian's budget will be back on track.

4. No criminal charges for Woods

$164 may be a lot of money for a traffic violation to the average citizen, but to Tiger Woods, that's nothing. $164 is how much the Florida Highway Patrol issued a citation for after Woods was in a single car-crash Thanksgiving night outside his home. There were no traces of alcohol in Wood's system when the accident took place nor any other substance therefor Wood's was only charged with "careless driving." The idea of domestic violence has been brought up during the investigation but Woods refuses that allegation. Both Tiger Woods and his wife Elin decline to meet with Florida Highway Patrol investigators. I have a feeling this wont be the end of the investigation, but give the guy a break. We don't need to know where he was going, that's his personal life. If Woods chooses to make a statement that should be done by his freewill, for now he will take the $164 fine for careless driving.

5. 'Cyber Monday' traffic rises 8%

We have all herd of 'Black Friday' before, the biggest shopping days of the holiday season. For many retailers 'Black Friday' offers great discounts and price check to kick off the holiday season, hoping to bring the store out of the red and into the green. in recent year, "cyber Monday' has became popular. It used the be the day when everyone would be back at work doing online shopping for any items that they weren't able to scout on on 'Black Friday.' These days, most people have computers at home, which makes "Cyber Monday" even more exciting. Many stores offer free shipping and other deep discounts to lour in consumers. this year, about 8% more people participated in 'Cyber Monday.' Though I must say I participated in both 'Black Friday' shopping at the mall and 'Cyber Monday' from the comfort of my own home, I much rather preferred online shopping then waiting in long lines in front of frantic shoppers on 'Black Friday.'

Monday, November 23, 2009

What it means to be an American!

The Question: What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?

I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty. 
—John D. Rockefeller, American philanthropist

Out of the ten civic values, responsibility is the most essential to being an American. This civic value has been seen throughout history from the days of Thomas Paine, construction of the constitution, President John F. Kennedy, as well as played out in our everyday lives as American citizens living in the twenty first century.

You can’t practice responsibility if you don’t know what it is. Responsibility means meeting and completing obligations promptly and willingly without expecting anything in return. Responsible citizens think about others and how their actions affect the people around them. With responsibility comes taking ownership for your actions whether they are good or bad and dealing with the consequences when necessary.

The founders of our country based its beginning on responsibility. The Declaration of Independence clearly states citizens have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Liberty requires people to show responsibility for themselves and for the common good. To have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as stated, citizens need to be responsible. This would be accomplished through personal actions by obeying laws, volunteering, paying taxes, and voting. When citizens act responsibly, society benefits. It is the irresponsibility of people that makes society suffer at times. If everyone did his or her part, society as a whole would flourish tremendously. Being an American requires a strong sense of responsibility. Serving on jury duty is just one more way to take responsibility as an American.

Not only did the founding fathers of our country think that responsibility is essential to being an American, President John F. Kennedy couldn't’t agree more. One of his most famous lines ever is, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” He was urging all citizens to take up more of a responsibility to help the common good of society. Responsibility can have a negative or positive connotation. It can be “negative” meaning exemption from blame and liability or “positive” meaning responsibility to help serve others. President John F. Kennedy did his part in being a responsible citizen. He served as military service commander during World War II before becoming involved in politics. President John F. Kennedy encouraged all people to do their part and show responsibility as American citizens.

Responsibility is a civic value that is surprisingly easy to follow. Just arriving places on time, getting your work done on time, even recycling are all examples of being a responsible citizen. Responsible people think about the consequences of their actions if they are not carried out thoroughly and promptly. It is the general public’s responsibility to practice the civic value of responsibility.

Throughout history, responsibility has been a civic value that is essential to being an American. With the writing of the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers acknowledged its importance. In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy was sworn into office, he emphasized the importance of responsibility and how it will make for a better society if everyone does their part. Now it is up to us -- the newest generation -- to carry on the essential value of being an American by practicing responsibility. If every person does their part, whether in a big way such as joining the military or something as simple as caring for your family, paying taxes on time, or performing volunteer work, American society would be better off. Responsibility is an essential civic value of all Americans and should be held to higher standards.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Common Sense?

Common Sense by Thomas Paine was written to address the tyranny against the British government towards the people that lived in the American Colonies. For me, this document wasnt "common Sense" to read. It was hard to understand it at some points because of the way it was written. The style and language used is very different from modern writing, but back when Thomas Paine wrote this document, the language was easily understood by many people.

When Thomas Paine first wrote Common Sense in 1776, it challenged the British government. He used plain language and writing style so a wide variety of people would be able to read and understand the document.

The main point in Thomas Paine's Common Sense was to show to the people the way King George was running the government and looking out for the people. He demonstrated and explained the role that government should and should not play in society.

This was the first document which openly asked for independence from Great Britain. Common Sense spread the message of independence to many people in the American colonies, encouraging them to keep fighting for their independence.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Declaration of Independence

In John Locke's Second Treatise of Government he creates a model of his ideal civil government, which is created by the people to ensure their “natural rights” -- life, liberty, and property.

I believe that Thomas Jefferson in writing The Declaration of Independence, was influenced by Locke’s views. You can see this from the preamble to The Declaration of Independence. It portrays Locke’s ideas of the “state of nature” and the “politic society”.

I think Thomas Jefferson not only read John Locke's Second Treatise of government, but agreed with many of his ideas and pulled from it to for the Declaration of Independence.

The biggest comparison would be
John Locke wanted everyone to have the the "right to life, liberty, and property" which is used in the declaration as "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." So you can see that Thomas Jefferson pulled from John Locke's ideas.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Second Treatise of Civil Government

This is my perspective, from a politically clueless high school senior:

The Second Treatise of Civil Government by John Locke begins by describing the state of nature in which people lived. Locke had three main point that I think are important:

1. All people are equal and have natural rights

2. Believed in having executive power to enforce the laws and defend civil liberty

3. Believed in people having the right to "life, liberty, and property"

As I was reading John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government, I thought to myself, "What would Locke think about our government at this time?" Would he support it? Would it prove his point? What would Locke think if he were alive today?

When trying to think of an answer to my own question I kept coming back to his main point on "life, liberty, and property." Locke believed that in order to protect ones right to "life, liberty, and property" they would be willing to give up some other freedoms to have the government protect them. An example of Locke's theory played out in modern government is as follows.

Shorty after the September 11 attacks, eight years ago, President Bush put into place the "Patriot Act." This act allows the government to look up information about you without having a warrant. It was put into place to help national defense security keep tabs on suspicious people. The Patriot Act is a prime example of people giving up there freedoms of private property to in return feel more protected.

John Locke's ideas are the bases of the constitution. His views on the nature of man are shared by most Americans. "Life, liberty, and property" are all very important to modern government and I think that if John Locke could come back in time, he would be satisfied with the way the government was being ran over 300 years after he wrote the Second Treaties of Civil Government.