Sunday, January 29, 2012

Political Compass

Since we will be creating political ads this week based on what party you have been assigned to, it might make sense for you to take another political ideology test in order to better understand what the political parties stand for.

Political Compass has a good "test" here. Please post what your status is after taking the test and whether you think the test is valid.

Monday, January 23, 2012

No More GPS Tracking

The US Supreme Court ruled that the police need to acquire a warrant before they can use GPS to track your activities. Here is a brief background of the case:

"A GPS device installed by police on Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones' Jeep and tracked for four weeks helped link him to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before an appeals court overturned his conviction."

Remember, that your right to privacy is not protected when you drive around in public. Anyone can follow anyone else on public roads. Why can't the police simply be able to attach a GPS device on your vehicle to make it easier to follow you?

Members of the SUpreme COurt thought otherwise: "Justice Antonin Scalia said the government's installation of the device, and its use of the GPS to monitor the vehicle's movements, constituted a search, meaning a warrant was required. "Officers encroached on a protected area," Scalia wrote.

Relying on a centuries-old legal principle, he concluded that the police action without a warrant was a trespass and therefore an illegal search."

Do you welcome this ruling by the Supreme Court? Was this an issue of privacy or does this ruling handcuff police (no pun intended) from doing their jobs?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King

On January 16 we celebrated Martin Luther King's birthday (which is actually January 15). King was devoted to a movement for racial equality at a time when he faced fierce resistance, especially in the South. Later in his life, King also addressed income inequality as well. King's movement was successful in the sense that African-Americans now face less de jure (formal) discrimination in the law. Blacks can vote without being subjected to a poll tax, schools are integrated, hiring laws are more fair and African-Americans have access to all the public places that whites do. However, plenty of de facto (in fact) discrimination still exists. The bottom line, is that race has played a big role in the history and government of the United States. How do you assess race relations in the US in 2012? Are we on the right track? Are we making progress towards a color-blind society? Or do we still have lots of work to do to stamp out discrimination and racism? What role should the government play in addressing this issue?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Presidential Image

Ideally, American voters would base their decision on an impartial analysis of a candidate's positions on the issues. Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. A candidate's "image" plays just a big role as policy issues. Let's see if that is the case for you. Please respond to the following issues of "image" for the candidates:
  • Two of the candidates are Mormon. Should one's religious affiliation make a difference in one's voting?
  • One candidate is 75 years old. Should excessive age make a difference in one's voting decision?
  • In 2008, race was a big issue. Should a candidate's race matter? What about gender?
I know that in theory, things such as age, race and religion should not play much of a difference. Why do Americans make such a big deal about these topics?