• Week 4: Federalism Debated

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 9/14/2014 5:00:00 PM
    Chapter 3 looks at the complicated aspect of federalism in our republic.  This principle sets our nation apart from most others.  The states created the national republic, but most of the Framers would be appalled at how few true powers the states have retained.  The 10th Amendment was intended to protect the states by reserving to them any power not delegated to the federal government or specifically denied to them. That was 1791! The line between federal and state authority has continued to be erased by that good ol' 14th Amendment and the Commerce clause's interpretation.  Marriage has traditionally been viewed as a "reserved power" of the states.  This rationale follows the language of the Tenth Amendment...there are no provisions giving the federal government dominion over marriage; the power is not denied to the states; so the power belongs to the states.  But the issue becomes the federal government's business when it violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.  The federal courts had a precedent to intervene in states' denial of marriage in the 1960's.  In Loving v. VA, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down laws that banned interracial marriages.  So, should they do the same with same sex marriage? In June, 2013, the High Court struck down DOMA and California's Proposition 8, but stopped short of ruling all gay marriages legal. NC voted to amend our state Constitution,  keeping marriage only between one man and one woman in May, 2012!  Now, states like Indiana and ours that ban gay marriage are both saying to the federal government: Keep your laws off our powers.Gay marriage proponent states like Massachusetts are lining up to head to court to have these laws struck down. Read the article below and respond to each of the following:
    1. Should the SCOTUS settle this issue once and for all? How should they rule & why?
    2. Do you support a 10th or a 14th Amendment view? In other words, who should define marriage the states or the federal government?
    3. What is the danger of this issue being settled by the SCOTUS? What is the danger in them not deciding this issue? 
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is midnight on Friday, September 19th. 
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  • Week 3: Separation of Powers

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 9/7/2014 3:00:00 PM
    The readings this week may seem fairly grueling as we delve into several primary documents. Among those that we will read this week are some of The Federalist papers. In #51, especially, an argument is given about how separation of powers will protect rights and keep the government from being abusive. Checks and balances tie the hands of the branch that over-stretch their authority. This concept of each branch overseeing a specific function is one of the cornerstones of our government.  You all learned in Civics that the legislature MAKES the laws; the executive branch CARRIES OUT the laws; the judicial branch INTERPRETS the laws. What happens, though, if Congress does not act? Can the President go forward anyway? Should he be able to implement policy as "Chief Executive?" President Obama is a lame duck President ineligible for re-election, but many congressional members must run again this fall. If the Democrats lose the Senate, the President is vowing to implement immigration reform with or without the help of the Republicans. Decisions by both parties are tied up in politics it seems, not in the "will of the majority."  Is this what the Framers intended?
    1. Read the article below to understand the conflict surrounding this issue.
    2. Comment on whether this blurring and blending of branches is a good or bad idea using the questions above to help.
    3. Explain your answers to the questions above thoroughly!
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is midnight, September 12th. 
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  • Week 2: Struggle for Independence

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 8/31/2014 9:00:00 PM
    This short week presents an opportunity to explore the founding of our nation and its struggle for representation in government. Had Britain simply allowed the colonies to have seats in Parliament or a little autonomy in what to tax or how to generate revenue, we may still be flying the Union Jack over our land. Our grievances grew as Britain cracked down on our ability to govern ourselves. Newspapers and town meetings helped spread the word from colony to colony about the egregious actions of oppression by the British. Now, fast forward to 2014 and you can imagine how the Chinese citizens of Hong Kong feel. Promised great autonomy when returned to China in 1997, these citizens are feeling betrayed as the powers in Beijing strip their freedoms of self-government. Hopefully you will see some parallels in their plight to our plight back in 1776. Here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the article below. What similarities and differences do you see between Hong Kong and the American colonies?
    2. Who should be more fearful: Hong Kong over a Chinese crackdown or China over a successful revolution in Hong Kong? Explain.
    3. How do you think this situation can or will impact the US? 
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is midnight on Friday, September 5th.
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  • Week 1: Political Power

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 8/24/2014 11:00:00 PM
    Welcome back for your senior year! I will post a blog each Sunday on a topic related to our weekly readings, discussions and course objectives.  It will be YOUR responsibility to comment on the article each week BEFORE Friday at midnight.  Each comment will be up to 10 points.  Comments posted after Friday at midnight but before Sunday at 6:00 p.m. will be docked 3 points; comments posted after the Sunday deadline will be docked 5 points.  Completing the post each week is not an option. I expect each and every one of you to comment on each and every topic. To get full credit you also must read the article and react to all questions posed in the blog post.  Failure to do so will take 3 points from your grade. I also insist that you use correct spelling, punctuation, grammar.  I will correct minor oversights, but I will NOT spend my valuable time capitalizing "I" and "texting" slang.
     Whew! Now that I have gotten all of that out of the way, let's jump in. Our first discussions will center on the definitions of power, authority and legitimacy. We will also focus this week on the types of power. One type of power we will discuss on Thursday is pluralist power; whereby many groups compete for power so no one group has complete control. Many Americans like to believe this is the perfect theory when it comes to our country. I think it helps us somehow sleep better at night knowing that power is watered down so there is no one "Big Brother." So, let's test this theory. Who is watching you? Do you feel like being monitored if it makes everyone safer? Read the article below, then come back here and comment on all of the following:
    1. What do you think are the biggest benefits to being monitored by your insurance company? 
    2. What are the biggest dangers to your privacy in your opinion?
    3. What type type of power does this create and for whom? (See ch. 1 for an explanation of these!)
    4.  Finally, what are your overall feelings about this type of program?
    The last day to post a comment for full credit is midnight on Friday, August 29th! 
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  • Summer Week 5: Voting and Elections

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 7/13/2014 7:00:00 PM
    Please do the blog posts in order! (Start with week 1 and move through them in numerical order.)
    Wow!  This is the last blog for the summer.  Time is flying by quickly. There are so many other topics that we will be exploring this next school year that I was in a conundrum about which topic to pursue. One of the most hotly debated topics is NC's newly passed Voter I.D. law. So, let's tackle it!  Republican legislatures all across the nation have enacted new laws that require voters to show a picture i.d. These laws, they argue, will prevent fraud and maintain the integrity of our electoral system. Democrats, however, are calling "FOUL!" They have, of course, turned to the government's referee, also known as the court system. Democrats liken these laws to poll taxes that disenfranchise the poor, the urban population, and disproportionately minorities (all that tend to vote blue.) North Carolina is arguing over this issue and people are taking sides. So, here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the article below.
    2. Which side do you most agree with: the Democrats or the Reublican? Explain why.
    3. What could be done to make this law more fair, if anything? Is this law even necessary? Explain! 
    4. Finally, after reading the article, tell me who you think will win this lawsuit & why.
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday). A 2-point bonus will be awarded to those students that post all five comments before July 31. This post will be available for comments until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2014.  
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  • Summer Week 4: The Presidency

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 7/6/2014 9:00:00 AM
    Please do the blog posts in order! (Start with week 1 and move through them in numerical order.)
    As we start the semester exploring the topic of power, invariably we must look at our own concentrated version of individualized power--the President.  What always strikes me as odd is how my students (as well as the general public) think of the President as an autocrat!  Love him or hate him, our President gets much of the credit and blame for nearly everything.  People call every congressional action by the President's name.  We hear phrases like "the Bush surveillance program" and terms like "Obamacare" in the media. These terms and phrases imply that the President acted alone to implement policies and programs. Nothing could be further from the truth! If and when immigration reform is passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, it will likely be called the "Obama immigration reforms." Americans will forget about the months and months of creation, deal-making, and compromising in Congress and just assume that President Obama wrote, passed and implemented the law. Long after President Obama leaves office, he will still exude power. He will command attention by the media, much like former Presidents Clinton and the Bushes do. How history will judge these four presidents remains up in the air and changes as time passes. With that introduction, here is what I would like you to do this week:
    1. Read the short article below.
    2. Comment on whether you agree or disagree with the observations made by the author. How will President Obama be remembered?
    3. What do you feel is the main component on how a person judges a President's performance? 
    4. Finally, what do you think this article says about a President's legacy?
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday). A 2-point bonus will be awarded to those students that post all five comments before July 31. This post will be available for comments until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2014. 
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  • Summer Week 3: The US Supreme Court

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 6/29/2014 9:00:00 AM

    The judicial branch is probably the most misunderstood of the three branches in our national government.  Americans have a high standard of justice and when we feel justice is not served (perhaps like we may see in the George Zimmerman or Casey Anthony cases) we get angry and rail against the system.  Our country has always had a passionate love-hate relationship with this branch.  Many of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence concerned this branch:

    • He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.  
    • He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 
    • For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.  
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury: 
    • For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
    In convincing the states to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton wrote the following about the judicial branch in The Federalist, #78:
     "It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter."

    I am not so sure Hamilton would agree after looking at the many controversial decisions from this year's session of the US Supreme Court!  Our Court surely handed down some of its most contested rulings in nearly a decade. With a simple majority of five, the US Supreme Court can strike down any law, halt any action, or refuse to intervene to save a life.  When you couple those powers with the fact that these members serve for life--THAT'S power!  Click on the links below to look over the following case summaries from the session that just ended. Post your comments as to: 
    1. Whether or not you agree with these decisions & why or why not, and;
    2. Whether or not we have concentrated too much power in the hands of too few.  
    Remember, you may not post more than one time per calender week (Sunday-Saturday).  A two-point bonus will be awarded to those that post comments for all 5 blogs by July 31, 2014.  All comments must be approved, thus there will be a delay in seeing your comment posted (I am not on the Internet at all times!)  The last day to post a comment for this blog is August 24, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.
    Comments (27)
  • Summer Week 2: Congress

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 6/22/2014 9:30:00 AM

    One topic this course emphasizes is that Congress is the "first branch of government." What that exactly means today is often up for interpretation.  The Framers gave the Congress the powers to tax, the power to make laws and the power to fund nation's programs-just to name a few.  Most Americans, however, give the President the blame or credit--depending on their ideological point of view.  Although Congress passed the healthcare law, the stimulus packages, TARP, and the deficit budgets that have led to our nearly $17 trillion debt, the American public calls these "Obamacare," the "Obama Recovery," or the "Obama Bailouts."  I am certain James Madison would scratch his head at our misconceptions.  He would not be surprised, though, at the lively two-party system that has emerged.  I am certain he would point to these "factions" (as he called them in the Federalist #10) and be satisfied that there is a balance of power between the two.  In the article below,politics are to blame for the ongoing immigration mess between our divided Congress.  The Republican-controlled House of Representatives wants to tackle the lack of border control; the Democratic-controlled Senate (and the President) want to reduce the long, complicated processes of citizenship and legal status. The Senate hammered out a bill with strong support for both border patrol and amnesty, but this bill has been halted in the House. With the stunning defeat of Eric Cantor, in what many believe over his support for reform, the issue has become even more stalled. What to do? What kind of compromise will be hammered out, if any?  Read the article below (I apologize for the "bad word" in the article), then comment on what you think our course of action should be.  Which side do you most agree with and why?  What should we do about this tense issue of immigration? The second link is to public opinion polls on what a majority of Americans think.  How do your views stack up?  In your post, make it apparent to me that you have read the article and studied the trends.



    Remember, you may only post one comment per week (Sunday-Saturday).  This post will be available for comments through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 24th.

    Comments (27)
  • Summer Week 1: Power

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 6/15/2014
    Welcome to the AP Government Blog!  The goal of my blog is to help my students develop a deeper understanding of the topics we will explore this year and to help you take that understanding to make real world connections.  The first topic we will explore in August is power.  All year we will explore the essential questions of Who governs? and To what ends?  We will also explore the ideas of authority and legitimacy in obtaining power.  So, how does one gain power over people?  What or who gives them that power?  How does that person get others to follow?  When atrocities occur, when should the US and other countries intervene? If we do get involved to what extent and what costs? If we don't get involved, do we let other destructive regimes call the shots?
    Before you begin, please sign in to the site in the upper right corner using your student id number and password.  If you cannot get the site to log you in, PLEASE start your post with your name.  Failure to do one of these two will get you no credit because I will have no way to know who posted the comment.
    Here is what I would like you to do in this post:
    1. Click on the following link to read the article.  Read the entire article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/isiss-gains-in-iraq-fulfill-founders-violent-vision/2014/06/14/921ff6d2-f3b5-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html?tid=pm_pop
    2. Analyze the article using the questions below so that I can tell you have read the article and have a thorough understanding of its content.  How does someone like Zarqawi gain such a following, even in death? Should the US be alarmed at the rise of ISIS? What should our response to this situation be? Who should we hope rises to power: Iranian-backed Prime minister Maliki, ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, or just let them battle it out in a civil war? 
    3. In your post, please relate the topic to the article's content. You may also respond to postings by fellow students.  Please use proper rules of grammar and language.  This blog is not a place to text message!  
    4. Some of you may have strong feelings concerning this article's topic...Please keep all responses appropriate!  If you feel the need to attack, attack the position--NOT THE PERSON.  
    Remember, you may not post more than one comment a week (Sunday-Saturday)!  This post will be available for comments through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 24, 2014.
    Comments (27)
  • Week 33: DC Trip Reflections

    Posted by Selina Jarvis at 5/30/2014 8:00:00 AM
    John Dewey once said, "To reflect is to look back over what has been done so as to extract the net meanings which are the capital stock for intelligent dealing with further experiences." Another way of stating his meaning is reflection helps us learn from our experiences and grow in our decision-making. I had a great time in DC: the tours, the play, the pictures, the camaraderie will all be memories I will carry with me concerning the class of 2014 . This week's post is completely optional. I want to read it next year while I look at your pictures and DC board. Okay, before I get mushy, I want you to use this week's blog to tell me:

    1. What was the best thing you did in DC? (Focus on scheduled events here!!) 
    2. What was one thing you learned or did in DC that brought government to life? 
    3. What can I do to make the trip even better for future groups? Now, be reasonable...you know I can't extend the trip!

    This post will count as 5 points on your lowest test grade. I will keep this post up throughout the entire summer and maybe some of next year to motivate that group. Hopefully they will read last week's post first. I have had a great time with you all. I expect BIG things from the class of 2014! Don't let me down.
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