Follow the URL above and read the article titled "Special interest groups exert growing influence in N.J. campaigns".

After reading the article, what do you think about the impact of interest groups on political campaigns? Interest groups are supposed to be independent, but are they really? Do you think that the money these groups "donate" gains them some control or influence over the candidates they support? Is that fair for most of the public that cannot donate a million dollars to a campaign? What about the money they donate to campaigns, should their be limit on how much can be donated?

Follow the URL above and take some time to read through this news story by the Detroit Free Press. It is quite fascinating...

When did the city of Detroit first begin to see difficulties? Was or is any one person responsible for what has happened to Detroit? In your opinion what are the top three things that contributed most to Detroit's troubles? What are two things that could have been done to lessen Detroit's current problems? 

Watch the news story and read the article below. After, answer the following questions...

What is gerrymandering and why is it done? 
Is it illegal or unconstitutional? 
Who is gerrymandering good for? Explain.
Does it offer people fair representation? Why or why not?
What can people do to stop gerrymandering?
Do you think gerrymandering is a bad thing? Explain your position.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services
PHOENIX — Attorneys for the Independent Redistricting Commission are asking a federal court to dismiss what they contend is a power grab by state lawmakers.

Legal papers filed late Friday in federal court acknowledge there was a loss of power by the Legislature in 2000 when voters approved creating the commission and gave it the power to draw the lines for congressional and legislative districts. But Mary O’Grady said that does not make the system illegal.

“That was the intent,’’ she wrote.

O’Grady said the leaders of the Legislature, who are trying overturn at least part of the 2000 initiative, are “concerned more with the loss of power than the will of the people who elect its members.’’

The filing comes as Ray Bladine, the commission’s executive director, said lawmakers need to allocate at least another $1.25 million for the balance of this budget year that runs through June 30. And the big cost is defending three lawsuits against the commission, including this one filed by the Legislature.

Bladine said the request should be no surprise. He pointed out that the commission asked for an extra $2.23 million earlier this year but got just $1.12 million.

Hanging in the balance is who divides Arizona into its nine congressional districts.

Lawmakers are asking the three-judge panel to immediately overturn the part of the voter-approved measure that lets the commission draw those lines. That would free the Republican-controlled Legislature to redraw the lines before the 2014 race — a move that likely would upset the current 5-4 edge that Democrats hold in the state’s congressional delegation.

Central to the question is a federal constitutional requirement saying the times, places and manner of holding elections for federal lawmakers “shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.’’ That was the way the lines were drawn in Arizona through the 1990 redistricting.

The 2000 vote gave that power to the five-member commission. Proponents argued that would be less political than having lawmakers create districts designed to benefit themselves and their allies, to the disadvantage of political foes.

Republican legislative leaders sued last year to reclaim the power to at least draw the congressional lines, citing that constitutional language. They contend that provision allows the elected Legislature — and only the elected Legislature — to do that work.

But O’Grady said in the latest court filings the legislators are reading too much into that language. She reads it instead as an allocation of power between the states and the federal government.

“It’s talking about the legislative power of the state,’’ O’Grady said. “It’s up to the state to define how it’s going to exercise its legislative power.’’

In Arizona, O’Grady said, our state constitution gives that power both to the people and the Legislature.

“And the people established the commission to exercise legislative power over redistricting,’’ she said.

, something they are entitled to do.

Besides, O’Grady said, if the Legislature doesn’t like this system, “It is free to make and pass a new plan and submit it to the voters.”

House Speaker Andy Tobin, who is making a bid for Congress, and is one of the movers behind this lawsuit, had a plan to do that, but could not get it approved.

Further, O’Grady said the challenge by legislators comes too late — not just because the current process has been in place since the 2000 election, but because the Legislature was allowed to provide input into the maps crafted by the commission but chose to sue only after a majority of lawmakers did not like the final results

Spend some time and read the article below. Throughout this week we have spent time looking at the Constitution. Based on what you have learned so far and your own opinion, what do you think? The document is over 200 years old and the world today is a very different place from the time when it was written by the Founding Fathers. Still many regard our Constitution as the finest document ever written.

Should the Constitution be updated, revised, amended, or completely rewritten?  Where do you stand?

Also what are your thoughts on how Iceland is tackling the issue. Is social media a good place to take the lead on revising the most important legal document any nation can have?

Write at least 8 sentences stating your thoughts on the matter. Be thoughtful and take your time with your response.

Is it time to update the U.S. Constitution?
By Fareed Zakaria 

We all know how Americans revere the Constitution, so I was struck by the news that tiny, little Iceland is actually junking its own Constitution and starting anew using an unusual - some would say innovative - mechanism.

The nation decided it needed a new Constitution and it's soliciting ideas from all of Iceland's 320,000 citizens with the help of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This social media method has worked. Ideas have been flowing in. Many have asked for guaranteed, good health care. Others want campaign finance systems that make corporate donations illegal. And some just want the country to make shark finning illegal.

There is a Constitutional Council. It incorporates some of these ideas, rejects others, but everything is done in plain sight on the web. As one member of the Constitutional Council said, the document is basically being drafted on the Internet. 

Now, why do they need a new Constitution anyway? Well, after Iceland was crippled in recent years by the economic crisis, they all wanted a fresh start. And, anyway, they felt the document was old and outdated, drafted all the way back in 1944.

You might be tempted to say that Iceland doesn't have any reasons to be proud of its political traditions in the manner that the United States does. Well, think again.

Iceland is home to the world's oldest parliament still in existence, the Althing, set up in 930 A.D. The rocky ledge on which they gathered represents the beginnings of representative government in the world. So Iceland has reasons to cherish its history, and yet it was willing to revise it.

By contrast, any talk of revising or revisiting the U.S. Constitution is, of course, seen as heresy. The United States Constitution was, as you know, drafted in a cramped room in Philadelphia in 1787 with shades drawn over the windows. It was signed by 39 people.

America at the time consisted of 13 states. Congress had 26 senators and 65 representatives. The entire population was about one percent of today's number - four million people.

America was an agricultural society, with no industry - not even cotton gins. The flush toilet had just been invented.

These were the circumstances under which this document was written.

Let me be very clear here, the U.S. Constitution is an extraordinary work - one of the greatest expressions of liberty and law in human history.

One amazing testament to it is the mere fact that it has survived as the law of the land for 222 years.

But our Constitution has been revised 27 times.  Some of these revisions have been enormous and important, such as the abolition of slavery. Then there are areas that have evolved. For example, the power of the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, is barely mentioned in the document. This grew as a fact over history.

But there are surely some issues that still need to be debated and fixed.

The electoral college, for example, is highly undemocratic, allowing for the possibility that someone could get elected as president even if he or she had a smaller share of the total national vote than his opponent.

The structure of the Senate is even more undemocratic, with Wisconsin's six million inhabitants getting the same representation in the Senate as California's 36 million people. That's not exactly one man, one vote.

And we are surely the only modern nation that could be paralyzed as we were in 2000 over an election dispute because we lack a simple national electoral system.

So we could use the ideas of social media that were actually invented in this country to suggest a set of amendments to modernize the Constitution for the 21st Century.

Such a plan is not unheard of in American history.

After all, the delegates in Philadelphia in 1787 initially meant not to create the Constitution as we now know it, but instead to revise the existing document, the Articles of Confederation. But the delegates saw a disconnect between the document that currently governed them and the needs of the nation, so their solution was to start anew.

I'm just suggesting we talk about a few revisions.

Anyway, what do you think? Should we do this? And if we were to revise the U.S. Constitution, what would be the three amendments you would put in?

Watch the music video below. Pay close attention to the lyrics of the song. You may have to listen to it more a couple of times. You may also find it helpful to refer back to your book, pages 44-47. Hopefully it all sounds familiar to you.

  • Who are the characters in this video? Name as many as you can.
  • Who is the singer referring to when he says "It's too late to apologize"?
  • What is this song all about? Name three or four specific things that the singer talks about in the song.
After viewing the videos below please answer the following questions to the best of your ability. 
  • What could be an argument to defend the position of the Republicans?
  • What could be an argument to defend the position of the Democrats?
  • Which side or argument to do you agree with most? 
  • Are you or anyone you know effected by the shutdown? 
  • Feel free to add any additional thoughts, opinions, questions or comments you have on this topic.

    Blog Guidelines
      I will post a current event blog each week on Sunday night. 

      You have until Thursday night (before class on Friday) to post comments and receive credit.

      Follow these requirements to ensure that you earn full credit for the blog assignments! 
      - Comment using your first 
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      - Read/view the entire article or
         video given each week.  

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         "I agree" or  "I like it" !

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    November 2013
    October 2013