Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Health Care: Round Tables, Dem. v. Rep., Pro v. Con

Since we're studying the Legislative Branch now, what else would be talking about if not Health Care? Obviously it's a very complex issue and a very complex bill (which isn't even close to being in its final form yet), but we have some expert commentary on video to help us out!

While I ABSOLUTELY encourage you to watch all 4 video clips (none is longer than 7-8 minutes), you only need to watch a total of 2. There are 2 pairs of videos, and you need only choose one video from each pair.

First of all, the 2 clips below both show a 'round table,' panel discussion of what the House vote on health care means and what might be coming next. Again, it would be great if you watched both, but you only have to pick 1 of these 2 to watch.


Now, the next 2 clips are also from the Sunday talk shows, but instead of analysts, journalists, and pundits, they involved some of the actual 'players' on both sides of the health care game. The first is a discussion with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen (the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and Indiana Congressman Mike Pence (the 3rd ranking Republican in the House). The second clip is a conversation with Tim Kaine and Michael Steele, the Chairmen of the National Democratic and Republican Parties, respectively. Again, it would be great if you watched both, but you only have to pick 1 of these 2 to watch.


Obviously, there were lots of different opinions expressed in these videos, and some of them were certainly using carefully selected facts/statistics or at least being 'spun' so that they were poltically self-serving. Here are the questions on which I'll be interested to hear your thoughts:

  • On the 'round table' discussion videos, which points (either for or against the chances of health care reform being passed) seemed most important? Which seemed the most logical and to have the best arguments to back them up?
  • On the 'Republican v. Democrat' discussion videos, who seemed to win the argument in your mind? Was it the Democrat (Van Hollen, Kaine) or the Republican (Pence, Steele)? Why? Which arguments stood out to you as making the most sense?
  • I realize you may not have all the relevant background information yet, but what do you think the chances are that a major comprehensive health care reform bill will be passed in the next few months? Are you in support of this bill passing? Why/why not?
  • Any other thoughts/opinions/ideas that came to while watching these video clips and that you're dying to share?

Remember, these posts are due by Friday, November 20, the last day before Thanksgiving break. Really try to make 2 separate entries: one that is an initial reaction to the videos and the questions I've posed, and then a different posting which is more of a comment/reaction to something one of your classmates has said. Thanks--I look forward to your comments!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Projections & Predictions: Congressional Elections 2010!

Hello out there! It's me again! Wow--what a fantastic job you all did in your comments and responses about the Bill Clinton video, as well as to one another. I'm very excited to see where our 'blogosphere conversations' can go throughout the rest of the semester; I may jump in now and then myself to clear something up or pose another question based on someone's comment (don't worry: this won't add to the number of posts you each have to make!).

If I can make one request: I love the back-and-forth discussion that went on, and in 99.9% of the comments I didn't sense anything more than honest and respectful disagreement about the issues, but I thought it was important for me to be perfectly clear when I ask that we don't attack one another and don't get too personal in our comments. I love that you all are so willing and eager to express yourselves and that you do so in such a thoughtful and articulate way, but I will hold you responsible for anything you post that is inappropriate or purposely hurtful to one of your classmates.

OK, now that we've got that out of the way, this next post is all about the midterm Congressional elections that are coming up about 12 months and 3 weeks from now! I handed out 2 readings in class, and if you click the above link it will take you to another column, this one written by University of Virginia professor Larry J. Sabato (if that name sounds familiar, it's because he's one of the authors of our AP Government textbook!). Here are another couple of links that you might want to take a look at:


http://www.cookpolitical.com/ (this is the "Cook Political Report" that is mentioned in one of the readings I handed out in class--you'll need to surf around a little bit to get the actual information about specific races from state-to-state for next year)

Based on ALL of this information, here's what I'd like your thoughts on:

Why do you think it's so common--almost expected--that the party in power will lose Congressional seats in the first 'off-year' election of a President's term?

What is your reaction to the various authors' predictions about Republican prospects next November? What about the Democrats' response to these predictions? What seem to be the most credible reasons each side gives for their position?

Even though you may only now be getting familiar with these issues and with how Congressional elections work, if you had to make a prediction yourself right now, what do you think will happen in the 2010 elections? Right now the House is 255-178 for the Dems, and the Senate is 60-40 for the Dems; what do you think those numbers will look like on November 3rd, 2010?

I look forward to your comments (deadline is next Friday, 10/30)--if possible, try and remember to post as a comment to THIS post, rather than starting a new post of your own.

Thanks, Silvy :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bill Clinton on "Larry King Live"

Watch this interview by Larry King of former President Bill Clinton? What did you think of Clinton's thoughts on how Obama is doing? Given his experience trying to get major health care reform passed 15 years ago, what did you think of Clinton's take on the prospects of Pres. Obama succeeding in his fight to overhaul health care?

What about his comments on the political situation in New York? And on former Pres. Carter's assertion that much of the opposition to Obama is based, to some extent, on racism? What are your own thoughts on Pres. Carter's claim?

Anything else that stood out to you from this interview?

Make sure you post at least TWO (2) comments by Friday, October 9. These can be either comments directly on the video and/or responses to something a classmate has posted.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering: "yes," "no," "good," "bad," "I agree," "I disagree," etc., do not count as full posts! I don't want to put a minimum number of words or sentences on it, but please put some thought into your comments!