Monday, December 06, 2004


Well, this is the end of the semester and finals are today. I hope that everyone does well and can take things that they learned in this course and it to better their grades elsewhere. I enjoyed the laughs and discussions in class and I hope that my English II course will be just as interesting. Dr. Tryon: keep up the good work! There are a lot of things that I could have blogged about, but I feel that at the close of the semester, I should write a goodbye blog. It has been a blog-filled semester and I wouldn’t trade it for another class. Thank you to my classmates for having engaging discussions and for making Chuck’s job a bit less difficult!!!! Goodbye English 1101 and Hello 1102, please entertain and keep me as your pre-requisite course has done.


I don’t really have much to say about this debate. It was a very important debate because it was not only the first presidential debate, but it is said that usually the winner of the first debate will win the election. During the debate, questions about the nation were asked and while Bush stumbled over his responses, he would attempt to elude the subject and instead take a stab at his opponent. Kerry seemed to piggy-back off of Bush’s responses and talk about how bad a job Bush has done. Bush didn’t really have much substance to his responses and he was very dramatic during the response. I felt like there should be a “poker face” exhibited during the presidential debates and President Bush did not exhibit one. DEBATE ONE WINNER (due to self control): John Kerry!!!We shall see how this alters the outcome of the election on November 2, 2004. It was fun watching the debate in with the other English classes and getting a chance to discuss the debates afterward. I enjoyed myself and I felt like it wasn’t a waste of time watching the debates.


This semester in English 1101-D4, I learned a lot about politics and the government. Before the beginning of this class, I was not very concerned with the election. I only listened to a few of the issues and hadn’t planned on looking at any of the debates. I feel like this class has made me a better political viewer. I can now look at both sides of a campaign and decide on which candidate’s values are most like mine. I had never posted or even written a web log before this semester. I barely knew what they were. I feel that my participation in this class was a very good experience and I was able to learn how to analyze arguments and essays. I have successfully written two essays on election issues that I would care to know nothing about, had it been before this semester. I enjoyed working in groups to create blogs and to consult other people for help when we have “writer’s block” or just need some good ol’ fashioned peer editing. I am glad that I was able to take a class with Professor Tryon this semester and it is a shame that I could not get into his English 1102 class


It seems that Ralph Nader wants a recount. Sources say that Ralph Nader would like to have a voter recount…not on his behalf. He feels that the voting results and the polls had too many discrepancies and conflicts. About three quarters of the discrepancies came in precincts using optical ballot-scanning machines, and more than 60 percent of those precincts used AccuVote ballots, Briggs said. The state uses optical scanners for AccuVote and Optech ballots. The AccuVote ballots require voters to fill in ovals, while the Optech ballots use arrows. The results led Nader's campaign to check the ballot scanners' accuracy through the recount. The effort included Litchfield, Sandown, Newton, Danville, Salem, Pelham, one ward in Somersworth and four wards in Manchester. Salem was the final precinct counted Tuesday. The outcome of this recount moved G.W. Bush’s numbers from 50% to 49% and Kerry had 50% of the votes himself, while Nader took home near 1% of the votes.


Well, since last Friday didn’t work out, my mother and I decided to get to the polls before they opened to avoid the morning rush. The polling place was right across the street so my mom decided to go and save a spot in line for me. After she called me about four times to wake me up and didn’t get an answer, she asked someone to save her place while she ran over to get me. When I got there, I saw all my neighbors and they were joking with me about not getting up to vote. The voting was very easy and didn’t take log at all. I like the electronic voting booths because they are very neat and look very technologically advanced. When I first walked in, there was a line to show identification and then another line to get a key card for the voting booth. The booths were spread out and very private, and in the end, you just take out your yellow key card and turn in your ballot. It didn’t take me long at all to finish and for the most part, I don’t see all the hype about voting. It isn’t fun, but I guess in the end, you could make a difference.


Yet another wave of sickness and disease has surfaced to take lives and cause pain to humans. In the Philippines, meningococcemia, a deadly disease, has surfaced and done nothing but hurt the beautiful country. It does not need to be explained that the health care around the world is not as advanced in other parts of the world as it is in the United States. The days of this disease causes citizens to wear face masks and fear contamination daily. With the medical advances being made in the United States, wouldn’t it be fitted for us to lend a helping hand? Research teams and healthcare professionals should be assisting the Philippines during this time of deadly disease. If the problem were to arise in the United States, needless to say, an immediate study would be conducted in order to find a cure for this disease before it turned into an epidemic. There should not have to be an outbreak in our homeland in order for action to be taken against fighting a disease and helping another country. Simply because we are separated by miles and miles of water, this does not mean we live in another world. We all live on the same planet and there should be no reason why the “World’s Police” cannot lend a helping hand.


Our group project was on a chapter in Good Reasons about rebuttal arguments. It was a great group presentation and we were able to keep the class entertained and engaged. Staying in the time limit was not a problem for our group as we presented worksheets, games, powerpoint presentations, and movie clips to enhance the lesson that we taught. My part of the presentation was to create a worksheet on rebuttal arguments and to run the game during class. Our game, “my butt is better:” was a game in which one person could try to guess which argument is better based on the information provided and leane during the group presentation. I really enjoyed this group project and I hope that one day, we will have another opportunity to work in a group together in order to produce another fine project.


We had been assigned a group blog project. My group members are Janie, Billy, and Luciana. Together, we decided to talk and write about issues that were going on around the world and discuss how they relate to the United States. We decided to call our group blog “world popo” because of the issues that are discussed on the website. At the beginning of the group blog, the biggest problem that presented itself was finding articles for the blog. A lot of the articles were concerning Africa and the major civil issues that were prominent there. With Africa being the Heart of the Earth, it pains me to see so many civil issues tearing the continent apart. It seems as though since the United States tries so hard to control or at least take part in many of the activities that other countries partake in. I feel like if the U.S. can snoop around in their private and public activities, then we can lend a helping hand in times of need and times of rebuilding, or peace-keeping.


The third debate was much better than the first one for Bush. He had better responses prepared and his “poker face” was awesome! He was quick on his feet and he made sure that he answered each question quickly and fully. Bush stepped it up this time and surprised America. He showed more acceptance of his opponent instead of always down talking him and attempting to make him look bad constantly. The reactions from John Kerry were the same as usual. They were smooth and calm, but they were continuously attacking President Bush and his administration. I think that this may have hurt John Kerry because of the simple fact that it made him appeal very negative to viewers and listeners of the debate alike. Kerry’s attitude toward Bush in the second debate turned me off a little bit, but I think that he might have won the second debate as well. This one is a lot harder to call. But the election is quickly approaching and I cant wait to vote, now that I’ll be legal.


Journeys with George is a documentary that follows President George W. Bush as he campaigns for the 2000 Presidential election. This documentary of President Bush is very entertaining, informing, and well done. It gives the viewer an up-close, personal view of our president. Had Bush have not won the primaries, the documentary would not be very popular at all today. During the course of this documentary, I was able to notice the change in President Bush’s attitude, demeanor, and his behavior around the reporters. At first, Bush was very happy-go-lucky and he didn’t seem to care much about what or who was video taping. He would just talk and give the reporters a run for their money. Toward the end if the movie, you can tell that George W. Bush has calmed down and become aware of his surroundings. Bush begins to watch his words and finds that he must be professional at all times because his actions can be used against him. Without his victory in 2000, there would be no movies and celebrations.


In a seminar on Monday, October 18, 2004, I had the pleasure of listening to another guest speaker. His topic of discussion was “Five Crises Problems Facing America Today.” The five areas that this preacher-turned motivational speaker talked about were: Crisis in Leadership, Crisis in Family, Crisis in Education, Crisis in Economy, and Crisis in Government. The crisis in family was weakening the home and therefore making the family system and its values weak. The crisis in leadership was and is still affecting the way this country is run. With a weak leader, the followers will too become weak. The crisis in education is hurting the children and the value of education everywhere. The crisis in economy is lowering the value of the American dollar and killing jobs that were available a few years ago. The crisis in government devastates the political system. American is last in industrialized nations and Georgia, where we live, is number 49 in the United States and the bar is continuously being lowered to “compensate” for the weak education system.


After a long and drawn out race, the election of 2004 is finally over. Both candidates put up a great fight and continued to campaign until the very end. The Democratic Party’s candidate was John Kerry and his running mate was John Edwards. The Republican Party’s candidate was the current president George W. Bush and his running mate was Dick Cheaney. Both candidates had views on several issues. At times, their views were similar, and at other times, they were very different. For example, the candidates both wanted to strengthen Homeland Security. It was a very long night when the votes were waiting to be counted. In the end, Ralph Nader won about 1% of the popular vote, and the results for Bush and Kerry were 51.1% and 48% respectively. There was a record turnout at the polls this year and the number of young voters was increased because of specific promotional campaigns including the famous “Rock the Vote”, “Vote or Die” and “Choose or Lose” programs. Due to the controversial results of the last election, many states chose to change their method of voting. In addition, many more absentee votes and early votes were casts. At the end of what seemed like an eternity, a night passed and there had been no winner declared. Around 1pm the next afternoon, Kerry conceded the election to George W. Bush.


Shortly before the election, on the day of the first presidential debates, we had a guest speaker come in and talk to us about problems and reasons why young people don’t get out and vote. We began throwing out ideas furiously. Some of the ideas and reasons included lack of concern, no real difference is made if the person you voted for doesn’t win. Another reason was the laziness of students and the lack of attentiveness to election issues. As a young crowd, we stated that we would like to hear more about collegiate issues like tuition, and other things that would affect us now and in the future. In the end, the conclusion was made that this generation was lazy and selfish. We didn’t care about anything unless it would directly alter or change our lifestyles and customs. The discussion we had was very engaging and entertaining. I even had some good suggestions!! I was proud of myself because I don’t normally talk in class discussion, but I really felt strongly about many of the problems that were presented.

early voting

On the Friday before Election Day, September 29, 2004, I left school to go vote at a DeKalb County early voting precinct. The precinct that I went to was on Memorial drive in Decatur. I was very excited about being able to vote and also have the opportunity to vote early. When I first arrived at the precinct, it was around 2:00pm and it was raining. The parking lot was fairly empty so my mother and I assumed that it would not be crowded at all. Even though I had heard a few horror stories about the advanced voting that took place earlier in the week, I didn’t expect it to be very crowded at all. As we walked into the building, a young guy greeted us and gave us papers to fill out. While we grabbed the papers from him, he kindly warned us of the three hour wait. Well, I was prepared, but as we continued to find the end of the line that snaked all the way around to the backdoor of the building and alongside the street, I began to think that this line could not possibly be three hours. I asked a family how long they had been waiting…Simply put….They had been standing in line from the time they had gotten there (7:00am) and were only halfway through the line!!! Needless to say, we waited until Tuesday morning instead.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

David's Blog Entry #15

As promised, here's my sappy final blog entry:

Until recently, English courses have long been the bane of my existence. Since middle school, a succession of uninspiring teachers managed to suck every bit of life from the subject: they over-emphasized grammar, over-analyzed texts, foolishly rewarded the use of "big words," and reduced writing to the monotonous application of formulas. As a result, I developed a stilted and pretentious writing style and perpetually despised the act of writing. The day I submitted my last paper, I believed, would be the happiest day of my life.

Thus, to be honest, I chose to take Dr. Tryon's course because I hated English and wanted to get my English 1101 credit as easily and as painlessly as possible (see here). I had hoped that this course would allow me to put English on the back burner and still score an 'A'. In retrospect, Dr. Tryon's course was easy. It never required too much of my time (except, of course, when papers were due) and it certainly did not interfere with my other courses. I did not expect, however, to gain as much from the experience as I have.

My writing, especially, has improved immeasurably thanks to blogging. I write with much more freedom and fluidity and a lot less pretense and self-consciousness than before. By removing the barrier of formality from writing assignments, it has allowed me to explain myself more openly and with much more clarity. Now, I no longer view writing assignments with the same degree of dread or anxiety as I did before: I simply view them as extended blog entries.

So, Dr. Tryon, thanks. I enjoyed the semester and gained a lot from your course.

David's Blog Entry #14

Alright, I've had enough with blogging about "political issues." In the course of a week, I've researched and written the equivalent of four papers covering Kiev, the Russian media, the U.S. media, and America's energy situation. That's over 20 hours worth of work! It's 2:22 in the morning, I got 4 hours of sleep last night, I still haven't started studying for finals, and I'm strung out on Starbuck's Frappuccinos. So, instead of writing some half-assed blog entry about P. Bush's economic policies, damn the torpedoes, I'm gonna write a blog entry about nothing, dammit.

Then, I'll get all sappy and start sucking up in my next and final entry. ..


Here's a joke:
Q: How do you fit four gay guys on a single bar stool?
Don't know? Click here for the answer

In honor of our beloved text "Good Reasons," here are some song lyrics:
so here's what's striking me/that some punk could argue some moral abc's/when people are catching what bombers release/i'm on a mission to never agree/here comes the argument/here comes the argument/here comes the argument/here it comes

Do you know who I am?

Hint: I am gonzo.

A couple ways Georgia Tech could be improved:

  • Grade the sidewalks so that water will run off to the side when it rains
  • Relocate the campus to Vancouver, B.C.
  • Trade the football team for a stronger liberal arts program
  • Give Dr. Tryon tenure

Blah blah

Blah blah blah blah


Word Count: 250

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Luciana's Blog Entry #15

This semester of English has been a very good, productive, and unique experience for me. In the beginning, I would have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that all we talked about was politics. However, as I went to more classes and as I was doing my blog entries and reading my articles, I got more and more interested in politics, which was something that I totally disliked before having this class. I really liked the way that Dr. Tryon gave our assignments. By posting blog entries, it made me be more interested in doing my assignment than I would be if I just had to write a random paper. It was also very good because I had the freedom to express my own opinions about each editorial and article and I could as critical as I wanted to. It was because of this freedom that I had that I got more interested in this class and in politics. It helped me get a lot more involved with this year's election, too. Also, watching the presidential debates as a class helped me be a lot more attentive to it. If I watched it in my dorm, I would probably be doing something else at the same time and not really pay attention. I would be lying if I said that I participated in the class discussions, however, I listened to everyone's arguments and tried to understand their point of view. My shy and non-talkative personality impeded me to be part of these discussions, but it does not mean that I did not participate in the class. I really liked this class, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

David's Blog Entry #12/13

The Media and Money

In my sixth blog entry, entitled The Media and Democracy, I stated that “the U.S. media, by all worldly standards, is free.” Indeed, compared to countries such as Russia and China, the U.S. media is relatively free from government control. Since the advent of adversarial journalism in the early 20th century—when, with the development of commercial advertising, newspapers broke free from patronage and became financially independent—the media has often served as a watchdog of government activity. In monitoring Congressional proceedings, scrutinizing policy decisions, uncovering scandals, and investigating pork barrel spending, the media systematically positions itself in opposition to the government. By these indications, in addition to the strict code of ethics and the independent mindset cultivated in American journalism, one would think that the U.S. media is free from external influences.

This, however, is not the case. Though the U.S. media may be free from government influence, it is not free from economic influence. In its switch from patronage to advertising revenue, the media effectively exchanged subordination to benefactors for subordination to the bottom line. As a result, the landscape of the mass media has changed from a plurality of small news organizations to an oligopoly of large corporations.

The effects of this are ubiquitous: corporate control of the media is manifest in the marketing of television shows towards large swaths of the American demographic, the temperance and uniformity of mainstream news, and ultimately, in the norms and taboos of popular culture. What purpose, for example, do the unwarranted coverage of the Laci Peterson case and shows such as Temptation Island and Fear Factor serve besides padding the pockets of major networks? If Americans are fed mindless drivel, what becomes of their minds? By nature, a commercial media serves it owns interests, not the interests of its consumers.

In their book "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media," noted scholars Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman explored this subject in great detail. Through their "Propaganda Model," Chomsky and Herman defined five "filters" in society which determine what "news" are presented in the mass media. Collectively, they suggested, multinational conglomerates which own much of the media, advertisers, the reliance of the media on information from entities about which they report, dissent from powerful interest groups, and the "fixing" of popular ideologies, all serve to set the media's agenda—or rather, to determine what is newsworthy. The resulting effect is that the interests of the conglomerates and the corporations which advertise in the media are pushed upon the general public, and that dissenting or critical viewpoints are effectively ignored. They cited, for example, (1) Chrysler's letter to hundreds of news outlets stating that all editorial content which may be harmful or damaging to the company be submitted for review, (2) the consistency of such popular notions as "free trade is good," "globalization is beneficial to the economy," and "American foreign policy is benign" with the interests of the government and of corporations, and (3) the dearth of true dissent in the media (i.e. not Democrats vs. Republicans, pro-choice vs. pro-life, etc., but dissent challenging existing social structures and norms). Moreover, they noted that the current structure of commercially supported news will not end in the near future: instead, the nature of the beast ensures that the status quo will be maintained.

So, we are stuck in a dilemma. With either a state-controlled media or a commercially-driven media, the people are subject to opinions and ideas (propaganda, essentially) not of their own nor in their interest. The answer, I believe, may ultimately lie in news organizations set up as a public trust, to serve the public interest. Such existing organizations—including National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)—have remained faithful to their respective charters by serving as the foremost purveyors of quality, objective journalism—the only worthwhile form of journalism. This, along with a return to a plurality of independent, grassroots organizations, is the way of the future.

Word Count: 672

Jena’s Blog Entry#15: Class Wrap Up Discussion

This semester of English has been extremely interesting because I had a government class that ran parallel to it. I could compare what I learned in government to the topics and class discussion in English. I also liked how it was unique and unlike any other English class that I have taken. This was the first time that I have ever used a blog, and I think that it is an extremely useful tool to help with class discussion. It also helped me be even more prepared for class, and it is nice to review all of my old blogs and see what we discussed and spoke of, especially the ones leading up to the election now that we know the outcome of it. The class as a whole helped me become that much more involved in the election and understand the party platforms as well as what each candidate had to say about each aspect of the political arena. I also really liked watching the presidential debates as a class because I was more attentive to the debates, and I could have fun watching them with my friends from the class. It was also funny to see the entire room react to some of the issues and speeches in the debate. After watching this debate I went on to watch the other two as well as to pay more attention to the news and media. I also liked being provided with interesting articles to speak about because many of them were interesting. I really liked speaking of issues that pertained either to our class or to me personally because issues such as school pertain to me and for that reason are more interesting. Overall, I learned a lot in this class and I would recommend it to anyone who asked me about it.

Jena’s Blog #14: Faith, Morality, and Politics

A couple of times this semester I have thought of and discussed the influence of faith in politics. The first time was in my second paper and the second time was a class discussion over an article entitled “The Faith Factor”. In my paper, I discussed the question of whether or not it is essential for a presidential candidate to be Christian or just religion. My answer to the question was yes because of our current culture as well as the fact that historically we have never had a non-Christian president. This does not mean that we can never have a non-Christian president, but there is so much emphasis put on the issue of morality that most Americans cannot distinguish between the differences between religion and morality. The fact that John Kerry was not open about his religion may have cost him a good portion of the votes. The article I read discusses the fact that Christianity plays a major role in the election of the president. It also discusses how many Democrats are attempting to show how religious they are to America because they understand that faith does play a big role in elections. In a previous blog I spoke of the fact that most rural Americans voted Republican. Most of these “down home” rural areas stress religion even more than in urban areas. The Democrats would like to gain these votes by showing how they too can be religious, but I am not sure if that is the only reason that these Americans vote Republican. However, I do think that more Americans would rather vote for a Christian candidate than a Muslim or Jewish candidate. It is sad that Americans cannot just vote according to characters and morality, not just religion because religion and morality are two different things. The article somewhat mocks the whole issue of faith, and I agree that it is a little bit ridiculous. However, since Americans do not understand the differences between religion and morality, the two new presidential candidates in 2008 should probably profess their Christian faith and profess it loudly.

link to article:

Jena’s Blog Entry#13: Article Response: “Do College Students Work Hard Enough?”

After reading the article “Undergraduates Study Much Less Than Professors Expect, Survey of Student 'Engagement' Says” by Eric Hoover, I agree with some of the things that he says, and disagree with some of the others. At Tech, I do not think that this article applies because most students have to work ridiculously hard in most of their classes to get an A. In any case, I have been struggling to pass Biology 1510 as well as a giant portion of the class. My roommate said today, “I hate the grading at GA Tech because you never known what you have in the class until after the gigantic curves that some of the professors have to put on the grades.” I have a brother who attends West GA and I do not think that he studies half as much as I do, and he has no problem getting A’s and B’s in class. However, I do think that studying for 25 hours a week seems a little ridiculous. I have to admit that I have studied for more than that on several occasions; however it all depends on what week it is. Some weeks I have more things to do than the others, and it seems like I always have to do everything all at once. I have to say that one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve never been bored here at Tech. One night I had no homework to do, and I walked around trying to figure out what to do. Another part of the article that says that most college students get their information from TV is wrong at Tech. However, we are mostly nerds here so we get our info from the internet. We “facebook” for our entertainment and read the Slivers out of the Technique. I am not sure why the author included the fact that 90 percent of students are happy with their college experience because almost everyone should be happy at college, no matter how much work they have. It is great to get a new found freedom and meet new people. I have volunteered a few times this semester, and I think that a lot of Tech students get involved in such activities. The difference between Tech and those other schools is that we are almost all overachievers or at least extremely smart, so we know how to study, or we just understand things better the first time. However, I have learned and agree with the fact that the more you study, the better and more in-depth you can be over certain subjects.


Jena’s Blog Entry#12: Mapping Votes Response

I thought that the in class discussion over the two different maps of the United States over republican versus democrats was extremely interesting. It seems that most of the democratic voting populations are in the big cities, whereas the majority of the country is red or Republican by geography. However, as most everyone knows, the major populations are packed into big cities. Therefore, when the purple colored map was made, you can see that the majority of the states are fairly close in the race of Republican versus Democrat. Some states are a more blue color, meaning that they are more democratic, and some are more Republican and reddish. I think that this map is important to see because although Bush won the election with the majority of electoral votes, the actual race may have been closer due to the very close ratio of Republicans to Democrats. The ironic part of this election is that once again the Electoral Votes could have been the deciding factor, even if President Bush won the popular vote; only this time the Electoral College would have worked against the president. If Kerry would have won Ohio, then the race may have been a lot closer. However, he stepped down, which I think helped the country out a lot because in 2000 the uncertainty of whom the next president would be had the country in a political chaos. I think that these maps show a much better and unbiased view of America as a whole after the election than any of the media channels have shown.



the link for my blog 11 that is posted on Dr. Tryon's Blog is also listed below:

Jena’s Blog Entry#11: Frist Whines; I say “Get over it”

I am discussing one of the articles posted by Professor Tryon on his blog entitled, “Frist’s Fury over Filibusters”. In this article the author, John Nicols, speaks of how the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is frustrated over the Democrats filibustering the judicial nominations. He claims that a filibuster is a tyranny of the minority, but I think that he is wrong because in order to prevent the tyranny of the majority, the minority has certain rights to keep in order to be heard. The founding fathers wanted to make sure that the majority party did not become too powerful because then America would become like more of a monarchy than a democracy. I agree with the author of this piece because he speaks of how Frist is completely overreacting to the filibusters. There can always be a cloture vote to stop a filibuster if it is unnecessary, but some of the judicial nominations for appointment are extremely conservative, and if the judges cannot be balanced and fair, then the country will swing even more to the right. However, in some cases there can be an overuse of the filibuster, which the author would probably disagree with me in this case. I think that if all of the Senate’s time is taken over by filibusters, then the senate will get no work done and there will be serious congestion in congress. The efficiency and fairness in congress have to balance, and that is a difficult task to accomplish. However, as for the Majority Leader’s rating and ravings, I say get over it.

Jena’s Blog#10: Journeys With George

here's the other of my two deleted blogs:

This blog discusses the in class video over the documentary Journeys with George. I thought that the film was excellent, and I laughed through a lot of it. The narration and ability of an “up close and personal” interview with the future President was not just funny, it also showed an in depth look at the campaign trail. I have decided after watching this that I really like George Bush as a person because he is hilarious, and he knows how to be both serious as well as a comedian at times. Another interesting thing that occurs in the video is the fact that Pelosi is a strongly liberal woman, while Bush is a strongly conservative male. Therefore, their conflicting viewpoints made for an excellent movie. There was a lot of satire in this film especially when she spoke of the food, traveling, or any other aspect of being a part of the media. Another interesting thing to observe was the fact that she was not just making the film for nothing, but she needed it for her job. If Bush had lost the primaries, then the documentary would not have been as popular as it is today. Therefore, I thought it was even funnier when she did not even vote for Bush on her ballot. Yet another great thing about this film is that it not only showed how the presidential primaries work, but it also showed how the media followed them around and just how much the entire group traveled. Overall, I was greatly entertained by the film, and I would have liked to have requested a Journeys with George II for the past election.

Jena’s Blog Entry #9: Voting

ok, so the blog messed up... AGAIN and two of my blogs weren't posted. Luckily I save them all so here is my ninth blog:

This year was the first year that I was able to participate in a presidential election. I have been paying attention to the presidential elections ever since I can remember, and this year I am excited to finally be able to vote. I think that it is sad that not very many young Americans are willing to participate in the election. Some people feel as if their vote does not count, but I feel that my vote, even if it is for an electorate from the Electoral College, does mean something. A great example of this would be the 2000 presidential election because there were only a few votes in Florida that barely determined the presidential election. I also do not think that it is fair for Americans who have the opportunity to vote and then do not to criticize the president. I feel that as long as I put my vote in, that I have the right to say whether or not the President that I did or did not vote for is doing a good job. If I did not vote, then I would not feel right about complaining about the government and what it does. Also, the government is a representation of the American pubic, so if the American public does not speak out, then the representation will not be adequate to its constituents. I actually voted by absentee ballot this time because I felt that I could see the ballot and have a longer time to decide my vote. I thought that it was a great process and I cannot wait until the next election when I get to do it again!

Blog 15: The Full Stop

This class has been a great learning experience for me. I got to learn a lot about the US election system. Being an international student the whole system is very different for me. I come from India, the largest democracy in the world and most of the election procedures are different in both the countries. India has a multiple party system in which any number of parties can contest the elections unlike US where the Republican and the Democratic parties are the two main parties in the elections. The part that is similar for both the countries is the election campaigning of the candidates. The campaigning is a huge event in US and India. The republican convention in New York was an extremely popular event. I wrote my first paper on the convention and it was the first time I was following an event like that and it was a very interesting experience for me. A very positive effect of this class was that I was keeping up with the news and this gave me a feeling of being completely involved in the elections. Although I couldn’t vote in the elections I was very excited at the election time and was eagerly awaiting the results, since I had followed the election procedures so closely over the semester I understood each candidates stand and had a favorite in mind. The part I enjoyed the most was the movie, Journeys with George because the movie showed the humorous side of the President.

Pray for DeLay

Here's a bonus: an "Urgent Prayer Alert" for Tom DeLay.

I found it quite amusing.

Friday, December 03, 2004

David's Blog Entry #9/10/11

Something Stinks in Congress...

Tom DeLay, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, has recently come under fire for his "creative" fundraising. In particular, he is under investigation for his role in the fleecing of Indian casinos and for using corporate money in Texas state elections--along with countless other charges.

Here are two examples of Mr. DeLay's fundraising tactics:

The National Leadership Awards
Approximately two years ago, numerous people around the country, including writers, businessmen, an Air Force chaplain, and a convicted sex offender, received congratulatory phone calls stating that they had been nominated by Mr. DeLay for a national leadership award. They were told that upon accepting the award, they would be invited to private dinners with Congressmen and "quarterly startegy sessions in Washington." In addition, they were promised an exclusive black-tie dinner with the Vice President and the publication of their names in a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal. In return, all they had to do was contribute a small gift of $300 to $500 to secure their place in the WSJ ad.

As it turned out, the "national leadership award" was a fundraising scam perpetrated by Mr. DeLay and his staff. In addition to lending his name to the awards, Mr. DeLay recorded a generic congratulatory message to all the award's nominees.

In response to a reporter's inquiry into the matter, Mr. DeLay and the National Republican Congressional Committee stated that the awards were entirely proper and that there were "thousands of happy recipients around the country."

Link to MSNBC article
Personal account from an award recipient
A Liberian journalist (!) receives the award (This one is both sad and funny at the same time. The press release writer had no idea what the national leadership awards were really about)

The Indian Casino Fiasco
If you thought that the National Leadership Awards were sleazy, read on: the stakes are higher, the people involved will surprise you, and the scam is much more sinister.

The story begins with Jack Abramoff, a top Republican lobbyist with close ties to Tom DeLay, and Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former spokesman. In an effort to raise funds for Congressman DeLay, the Republican Party, and themselves, the pair hatched and executed a plan to fleece Indian casinos out of millions of dollars. Here's how:

In the state of Louisiana, two Indian tribes were competing for gambling revenue. The Coushatta tribe wanted to prevent the Jena tribe from building a casino in the vicinity of their own existing casino, for obvious financial reasons. That's when our two perpetrators stepped in: they approached the Coushatta tribe and offered to help shut down the Jena tribe's casino.

Once they were hired, Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon began by contacting Ralph Reed--the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, former head of the Christian Coalition, and Mr. Abramoff's protege--and asking him to perform a favor: they wanted Mr. Reed to use his connections with preachers and ministers across the country to create a holy coalition against gambling and, in particular, the Jena tribe's casino. The favor cost them approximately $2.5 million dollars.

Dutifully, Mr. Reed created the Committee Against Gambling Expansion (CAGE)--comprised largely of people within the Louisiana Christian community and funded, ironically, by gambling money--which ultimately stopped the Jena tribe from building their casino.

For their help in shutting down the Jena tribe's casino, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon raked in over $32 million in lobbying fees from the Coushatta tribe. The story, however, is not over. In a brazen act of duplicity, the pair also approached and received payments from five other Indian tribes in return for help in battling the anti-gambling organization (i.e. CAGE) that they created! These payments, along with the $32 million they had previously received, came to a total of more than 66 million dollars.

Here are several links for further reading:
The plot thickens - a good summary of the scam
The scam in depth
Jack Abramoff bio
Ralph Reed's misdeeds
Michael Scanlon is hiding from the law

In addition to the two aforementioned scams, House Majority leader Tom DeLay has also been involved in the following: (1) the misuse of public funds, (2) redirecting money to the Texas GOP, and (3) creating a children’s charity, Celebrations for Children, Inc., to cover his illicit fundraising activities. The litany of abuses and scams just. doesn't. stop.

Here's another:

A month ago, three top associates of Mr. DeLay were indicted by a grand jury for illegal activities tied to Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC), a political action committee founded by Tom DeLay. (Links 1, 2)

And another:

Republicans in Congress, anticipating an onslaught of indictments against their beloved Majority Leader, have recently voted to change their internal rules so that indicted Republican congressmen are able to keep their leadership positions. This has since been dubbed "The DeLay Rule." (Link)

And finally, to cap it all off, here's a picture of Mr. DeLay:

I'm gonna go puke now...

Word Count: 834

Jena’s Blog Entry #8: The Second Presidential Debate

I watched a lot of the second presidential debate in my room, and it was very interesting. I think that this debate was a lot more intense than the first because there is a lot more pressure compiling as the election draws nearer. There is much confusion over who won the debate because depending on which television station you look at, you will see a different result. The major consensus, however, is that the debate was a close one. This debate interested me greatly because it was in a town-hall forum fashion, where the audience asked their questions directly to the candidates. I thought that it gave a more personal aspect to the debates because the questions came from domestic every-day Americans and not a newscaster. John Kerry impressed me when he looked into the camera and promised not to raise taxes for the poor. I think that Bush may have taken somewhat of a beating because there were some questions that he tried to avoid. He spoke a lot over the subject of the No Child Left Behind Act, even when the question asked was not very relevant to that. However, Bush’s presence was felt, and I think that he did much better in this debate than in the last one. There were also some interesting moments when you could see the tension, which I thought made the debates more interesting. Overall, I thought that Kerry may have won the debate because he has superior debating skills, but I also thought that the debate was close and Kerry barely won.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

David's Blog Entry #7/8

FAQ: America's Energy Situation

On October 10th, I posted the article "Pump Dreams"--which examined America's current energy situation in great detail--with the intention of writing a blog entry on it. Well, almost two months later, here it is --in an easy-to-digest FAQ format.

The article may be found here: link

What is America's current energy situation?
Americans consume approximately 20 million barrels of oil per day, which is over a quarter of the world's oil supply. More than half of this (60%) is imported from foreign sources such as Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Venezuela. Estimates indicate that in as little as forty years, the U.S. may exhaust its supply of oil. This, combined with increasing rates of consumption at home and abroad and shrinking oil supplies worldwide, means that Americans may face an oil crisis--serious supply shortages and sky-rocketing prices--within a few decades or even years.

What can we do to prevent a future oil crisis?
Because crude oil is a nonrenewable resource, oil supplies will continue to decline. Nevertheless, we may soften the blow of the impending crisis by (1) conserving oil and (2) weaning ourselves from oil consumption. Conservation measures may include raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards--the level of fuel economy automobile manufacturers are required to meet--and establishing a gasoline tax. Weaning ourselves off of oil, however, is a much harder task. Although the U.S. possesses abundant supplies of coal and natural gas, the nation's infrastructure is oriented towards oil consumption--think, for example, of the thousands of filling stations in use across the country. Switching to an alternate fuel source would entail years of research and billions (possibly trillions) of dollars. Ultimately, a sensible plan for avoiding a future crisis must include an aggressive dose of both measures--conservation and a switch to alternate fuel sources--endorsed by a realistic and proactive government.

What is the government currently doing about this?
During the latest presidential campaign, President Bush dangled the promise of energy independence in front of millions of Americans. In particular, he presented a plan to free America from foreign oil by increasing domestic oil production--by allowing drilling in ANWR and elsewhere--and decreasing oil consumption through such means as conservation awareness programs and the use of hybrid vehicles. Many analysts, however, agree that President Bush's plan amounts to little more than an empty campaign promise. Half-hearted conservation measures and increased domestic drilling would not appreciably decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Drilling in ANWR, for example, would displace only 5% of our oil importations. In addition, the immense political influence of the oil industry, combined with President Bush's proven energy industry friendly track record, indicate that no serious conservation measure that threatens the energy industry's bottom line would slip through Congress. The current administration, however, temporarily skirted the problem through alternate means: by invading Iraq and securing its oil fields, which represent the world's second largest oil reserves. Nevertheless, the world oil supply will inevitably continue to shrink, and the impending oil crisis will be only be delayed for a future generation of Americans.
On the whole, America's energy future looks pretty bleak. Because an impending energy crisis is still decades or years down the road, energy policy is a low political priority. Unless the government addresses the nation's dependence on oil directly and immediately, millions of Americans will be inevitably hit with a sharp spike in oil prices and major supply shortages. Americans must be willing to recognize that cheap oil is not a birthright, accept short term increases in energy costs--from a gasoline tax, for example, and invest seriously in alternate sources of energy.
Word Count: 614

Luciana's Blog Entry #14

An editorial reviewing and analyzing the results from this year's election was published by the Miami Herald newspaper. The author wrote how he thought that the election results were great considering the fact that there were no hanging chads. I agree with the fact that because the state of Georgia made stupid mistakes and begun the conspiracy that the Jeb gave his brother a very nice Christmas present, we had some troubles with the election. After all, we can not become a perfect state, and there are many other worse ones, such as Texas, who tried to succeed from the union. The author goes on describing a solution for a better voting system, which is through uniform voting standards, due to the availability of many possibilities depending on each polling place. I was an absentee, and I heard on the Atlanta news that they were checking signatures on absentee ballots in Georgia, and if the signatures did not match, they did not count it as a vote. I do not think this should be acceptable. Signatures can be very unique, and you don't know how accurate the machine or the person measuring the sameness of the signatures can be. And just because they do not match, it should not be a reason for these votes to be thrown away. It is not fair for us, who are citizens of the United States.

Luciana's Blog Entry #13

The results of this year's elections turned out to be just how I predicted. I could see coming that Bush was going to get four more years of being America's president. I was glad to see Kerry conceding to Bush. He lost by a pretty big number of votes, with most of the country favoring Bush except for the Northeast. I noticed that all the major cities had a democratic view point. I thought the media did a better job at covering the campaign than how they covered Bush's first campaigns. Even after going through all the SBV and its terrible campaign ads and having the Libertarians look like your annoying little brother, the campaign turned out to be pretty just. The rest of the world may think that it was very stupid for the Americans to vote for Bush once again after all the trouble with the Middle East, but there were a lot more other factors that made us favor Bush instead of Kerry. After all, voters are not stupid; they don't just choose a random candidate just because his name sounds cooler, for example. Also, foreign countries can not do anything about our election, nor change our opinions. Perhaps we needed a smoother coverage against our own public out cries. I think the country will move towards not changing the Electoral College. However, I think they should do so, because I would like to have my vote counted as a regular vote. There may be many conflicts dealing with moneys that people have lost and gained through the election, but people should just accept the decisions because elections in America are way too ample and complicated.

Gun Control

Key Antigun Program Loses Direct Financing

On December first Congress eliminated all funds for the Project Safe Neighborhoods. This organization is a key part in the Presidents plan to remove illegally purchased guns from the streets. Congress instead used the money that was previously allotted to the Safe Neighborhoods organization to fund other programs that focus on all law enforcement not just on gun enforcement. Although the President pet organization did not receive any funding from Congress, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received an additional twenty million dollars million to finance its programs. There is still two hundred million dollars in funding available to other anti-gun programs related to Safe Neighborhoods. Many anti-gun supporter view this lack of funding as a weakness in the government’s promised to crack down on gun crimes. The administration points to Safe Neighborhoods as the most effective to remove illegal gun owners from the streets of America. It also is attributed to the seventy-six percent increase in federal gun prosecutions in the last four years and a significant decrease in gun crimes. As with everything else the statistics attributed to the Safe Neighborhoods program is being questioned by other groups such as Americans for Gun Safety. They believe that the program simply focused on common street criminals instead of seeking major black market dealers of illegal guns. The results of the change are yet to be determined. Only the next four years will reveal the results whether good or bad.

Senate favors Pro-life supporters

Changing Senate Looks Better to Abortion Foes

With the coming and going of this past election, many things have changed. Due to the many Senate seats up for grabs this election power has shifted from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority. Another thing that the Senate has gained this election is many new, strong opponents of abortion. Abortion bans have always has a difficult time gaining support in the Senate but with the addition of abortion opponents such as Tom Coburn the task will now be less daunting. Pro-choice supporter Tom Daschle also lost his Senate seat this election. Many bills that were once unable to be considered much less have the number to pass will now more than likely will be passed. These bills are in generally very focused restrictions to abortion rights. One such restriction that hopes to pass would make it illegal to circumvent parental consent laws by taking a minor across state line to receive an abortion. Anti-abortion supporters are also hoping that general attitude of the senate towards abortion rights is also changing. They hope the Senate will change with the perception that he nation is moving more toward pro-life sentiments. Surprisingly the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Gloria Feldt believes the opposite is happening. She feels that the new Senate is much less concerned with reproductive health and abortion rights. It will be interesting to see how the new Senate deals with the increasing demands to address abortion rights.

MoveOn,org is MovingOn to bigger/better things. Moves on to New Battles

The non-profit organization has received a huge amount of publicity during this past election’s campaigning. The liberal group was first founded during President Clinton’s impeachment. It served as an on-line petition for the government to “censure him and move on to other business. The group’s publicity began to rise as it emerged as the leader in protesting the war in Iraq. Recently it waged a proverbial war against the re-election of President Bush. The group raised more than $30 million dollars for its campaign. Once the group’s only presence was on the internet, but with the funds it collected from many people including billionaire George Soros the group hosted concerts and aired political commercials. The group is still hoping to move its influence even more off line. Many suspected that the group’s activity would fall off the radar after the substantial loss in November. But the group’s leaders feel the opposite. They see this as the time where more activity from the group is needed. Their focus for the time being is preparing for battles over the privatization of Social Security and nominations for the Supreme Court. Looking even farther into the future, hopes to create think tanks to interact with conservative organizations and to build grass roots organizations to beat out the Republican grass roots organization. The group plans to continue its trade mark response system by rapidly dealing with the issues at hand. The next four years look to be promising for the groups with such ambitious goals.

A win for America's children.

Court Panel Says New York Schools Need Billions More

Lack of funding in the public school system of America has become a huge problem in recent years. As the years have passed, the cost of providing a sound, basic education for America’s children has increased while the amount of money available is staying static or decreasing. America’s children are slipping further and further behind the already low standards. Finally the New York City Council for Fiscal Equity has had enough. This group has sued for the city for more money to provide education to the city’s children. Justice Leland DeGrasse appointed a panel to review the system. This panel has recommended a 43% increase in the state’s school budget which is now $12.9 billion. The increase will provide $5.6 billion each year to cover the basic cost of education, and it will also provide $9.2 billion over time to build new classrooms, laboratories and other facilities necessary to relieve overcrowding and reduce class size. This ruling has placed some tight time restrictions for improving the system. The panel demanded that within 90 days the state develop and begin to execute a plan to add $5.6 billion to the budget each year. This plan will be phase in over four years with a gradual increase over the period. The panel also called for the state to devise a plan to provide the system with the extra $9.2 billion to cover school repairs and construction. This plan will phase in over five years. This case will hopefully open the doors for other states to gain funding for their school system. Currently, there are lawsuits for education in most of the states that have not reached decisions. This case should prove helpful in creating change in those states.

Blog 14: Validity of the Elections

The article “Activists Continue to Challenge Ohio Ballots” in voices the complaints of the activists in Ohio. After Bush has been declared as President for almost a month people of Ohio are not satisfied with the result of the election. Some activists including Rev. Jesse Jackson are demanding a recount. Since Kerry gave up after seeing the unofficial results the people have been criticizing the election procedure. According to Jackson the validity of the votes should be checked since too many questions are being raised. Most of the citizens of US were hoping that the 2001 election is not repeated at the 2004 elections as well, but now people are concerned about the validity of the election. Jackson said that it does not matter whether Kerry wins or Bush wins but the matter of concern is whether the elections are fair or not. Many critics are blaming the electoral voting machine for giving Bush extra votes. Everyone is demanding the Supreme Court to look into the matter and call for a recount. The chances of a recount now are very unlikely because Bush has already been declared President and Kerry withdrew himself. Blackwell is a GOP leader and he oversees the election procedures, he was called on to step down from office by Jackson. Even if Jackson is concerned about the fairness of the elections it is said that he is protesting because “his candidate” did not win.

The link is:

Blog 13: Bush Win for India

The article “Indo- US Ties will Continue with Bush’s Win” in an Indian newspaper, the Indian Express, states that the ties between India and US will flourish under President Bush. The IT industry of India and the job market are happy to have Bush as President of US for four more years. The ties have already been made between the countries and since Bush is President no time will be wasted in strengthening the ties. The main issue of concern for India in the 2004 US elections was outsourcing. Outsourcing is very important to India because many Indians get jobs because of this policy. Kerry was not very favorable to outsourcing but Bush had always said he welcomed outsourcing and it will continue if he becomes president. According to Indian ambassador, Lalit Mansingh the business ties between the countries will strengthen while they could have come under strain if Kerry would have been elected. It is also observed that the countries are at a platform where their relations will increase and it wouldn’t have made a difference even if Kerry was elected but a lot of time would have been wasted in working out new plans for the countries. US elections have always been a matter of concern for the entire world. Since US is a super power the president of US is a very important post for every country. Every country looks for its benefit and awaits the result of elections with the same excitement as US itself.

The link is:

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Why can't we just get along?

For every person in the world there is a stereotype that could be applied to that person. Just as the terms cheerleader or jock carries a certain connotation depending on the person who hears them, so do the terms Liberal and Conservatives. The American political system has long been plagues by these stereotypes. It is these stereotypes that are driving the two sides further and further from each other, preventing mediation between the two. The fight has reached a point in where both sides think that the other is their archenemy, and that each is unwilling to listen and compromise with the other. In the article Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels, Steven Waldman does a good job of calling out the certain assumptions that come with the terms liberal and conservative. He then addresses each to attempt to persuade the other side that the other is not as bad or as completely opposite as the stereotype would make it seem. If liberals and conservatives would both look at the other group and try to see where the other was coming from, or even looked past the extremist views, both sides would find that they are not much different than their so called “archenemy”. This realization might make it easier for both sides to reach a compromise that both can live with when dealing with important decisions. Or at least it might calm down the heated arguments between the two groups for a while.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Blog 12: A Close Call for President Bush

The article “Iraq and the Election of 2004” rightfully states that President Bush almost lost the elections because of the war on Iraq. The writer, Christopher Preble says that the Iraq war created a doubt in everybody’s mind that whether Bush will be reelected. If it wouldn’t have been for the war the win would have been very easy for the President. Senator John Kerry was very critical of the country’s economic condition but the economic state was on a rise. The unemployment rate had decreased in 2003 and most of the statistics were favorable for the President. His popularity had increased tremendously after the 9/11 attacks. However, much to everyone’s surprise Bush’s popularity was declining constantly following the attack on Iraq. Earlier the citizens supported the military action but as time passed they realized that the war was not in the benefit of US. Many people blame the fluctuation in the President’s popularity on other factors like the budget deficit and some of his foreign policies but it is clearly noted that as the military action in Iraq increased Bush started losing his supporters. The reason Bush got the support of the citizens back was because he successfully convinced most of them that the war on Iraq was a continuation of the war on terrorism. Kerry could have easily made use of this aspect by making his strategy in Iraq in interest of the people but he failed to explain his plan. But even now if President Bush does not change his policies in Iraq it may still cost him his popularity in US.

The link is :

Luciana's Blog Entry #12

The documentary "Journeys with George Bush" was very interesting to read because it provided me with many information about the president, describing him since the beginning of his 2000-2004 term until now. It brought a very in-depth view between Bush and its candidates. I think that if I have seen this documentary before this year's elections, I would have voted for neither candidates. While I was watching the documentary, it was very hard for me to believe that politics was all a fake. Campaigning seemed more like a pep rally rather than a demonstration that results in a national decision. I was also very surprised to see the president acting very goofy in front of the cameras. It made me think that I was no different than him. However, the video revealed that president Bush matured a lot throughout his four years of being the president of the United States. He worked very hard through his actions so that American citizens could look up to him and respect him. Although he looks like a very serious guy now on cameras, I'm sure that he still has that goofiness inside him, but he now learned to hide it when in front of cameras and other respected people.

Luciana's Blog Entry #11

College life. Who does not want to experience one? Everybody does. There is no pressure from anybody to do anything, you have plenty of time to do whatever you feel like doing, you can do whatever you want, there is no curfews, etc. You basically have freedom when you attend and live in a college. The article demonstrates a very precise picture of college life. Most freshmen that enter their new way of living have a hard time getting used to their independent actions, and therefore end up not appreciating living in a college. Also, time management is also something that college students are strongly challenged with. Because they have so much time before and after their classes, they do not think of studying or doing their homeworks until it is a day before the due date or a couple hours before the class. That is why college students are always complaining that they have too much to study or too much work to do. Being able to manage your time is very crucial. Also, in order to relieve all the stress that college students go through, they should engage themselves in a side activity that makes them not think about their duties for a while. It has been proven that it works, therefore, students in college should not just study but involve in different activities and interact with their neighbors and classmates. Emphasizing more on the advertisement of these activities to these students would be a lot more helpful for them to get involved.