Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ACORN: Are they Really Filing Fraudulent Voter Registration?

Recently there has been much commotion in the media regarding the voter registration group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). ACORN has been accused of filling out fraudulent voter registration applications. However, fraudulent voter registration is not the real issue here, for there have been very little instances of it occurring; the real problem is voter suppression.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How the Times Have Changed

Over the past few weeks, America has witnessed Republican Presidential Nominee, John McCain, and Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama, engage in three seperate debates against each other. The first and third debates seemed to stick with what we now believe to be the traditional style of debate, but the second one resembled a town hall format. The 2008 Presidential debates are different than the Lincoln-Douglas Illinois senatorial debates. Both sets of debates discussed different issues and the candidates had different tactics for swaying the public.

One of the most discussed issues during the 2008 Presidential debates was the reduction of taxes. CNN's article, "McCain puts Obama on the spot in final debate," states that Obama wishes to increase taxes for businesses that gross over $250,000 a year, providing a tax break for the majority of Americans. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates tax breaks and economic stability was not a major focus of either candidate; Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas discussed the heated topic of the abolishment of slavery in America. Douglas supported the idea of democratically elected slavery; each state could vote whether slavery should be abolished or not, within that specific state. Lincoln felt that the federal government should abolish slavery, but supported what the American public truly felt was the right decision. As you can see, the 2008 Presidential debates seemed to focus on economic solutions to the free market meltdown, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates approached the constitutionality of slavery and the division of power between federal and state government.

Although the Lincoln-Douglas debates did have a couple instances of negative attacks on the opposing candidate, the 2008 Presidential debates contained far more accusations than actual presentation of policies. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Douglas accused Lincoln of complaining about the Supreme court ruling of the Dred Scott case. According to the National Park Service's transcript of the 7th debate, in response to the accusation, Lincoln stated,
I have done no such thing, and Judge Douglas so persistently insisting that I have done so, has strongly impressed me with the belief of a predetermination on his part to misrepresent me. He could not get his foundation for insisting that I was in favor of this negro equality any where else as well he could by assuming that untrue proposition.”
Douglas' claim was a manipulation of Lincoln's lack of a response and was absolutely false.

During the third debate, John McCain began focusing his tactics on casting Barack Obama in a bad light. The New York Times' article, Candidates Clash Over Character and Policy, McCain stated,
"...We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with Acorn, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
McCain is attempting to cast Barack Obama in a bad light in order to sway the opinions of the undecided voters.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Democracy and the Internet

Many Americans that are exposed to the internet are able to view a variety of websites and news sources. These sources report on a wide range of current events that deal with democracy such as Presidential debates, propositions and constitutional court cases. All of these sources have differing opinions and present the topics in different ways, allowing the American audience to base their own opinions on numerous sources of information.

In the ad above, provided by YouTube.com, Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama, is claimed to be associated with the organization ACORN, a group accused of filing thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms. The video supports John McCain's campaign, attempting to sway the opinions of voters. There are many ads such as this one that can be viewed via the internet, allowing Americans to gain knowledge pertaining to the 2008 Presidential race, one of the main examples of democracy in America.

The American audience has more opportunities now to educate themselves about elections and other democratic related topic then at any other point in American history. The internet offers more information than newspaper, radio or television. The internet is a valuable resource that provides us with a gold mine of knowledge regarding Presidential candidates, propositions and other forms of democracy. This information provided by the internet allows us to make decisions and form opinions about candidates and propositions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Newspaper Reflection

I am satisfied with final product of our newspaper article covering the seventh debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. I believe my best individual contribution to the newspaper article was my section of writing. My section covered Lincoln’s view of the Dred Scott case, whether he had publically complained about the case decision or if Stephen Douglas was simply making false accusations in order to mislead the public of Lincoln’s views of slavery. I feel that my lede is strong enough to capture the attention of the reader, yet it does not drone off into a run-on sentence. I was able to trim several quotes that I originally did not understand, and incorporated them sensibly in my writing.

Another element of the article that I am proud of is my caption for my picture. My caption: Lincoln and Douglas "Duke it out" in the seventh round of debates for the title of Illinois Senator. Lincoln withstood Douglas' Dred Scott cheap shot, and reaffirmed his views regarding slavery. The picture that I chose was a political cartoon of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas boxing in an arena; my caption perfectly described the picture and related it to my specific section of writing.

Although there are many elements of the newspaper that I am proud of, there are some aspects of the poster that I believe could be improved. One of the first areas of the newspaper that I noticed could be improved was the spacing between different sections of text. It seemed like all three of our article did not have enough separation from each other, the different articles seemed crowded together. This could have easily been avoided if we had taken a little more time to space out the different sections or repositioned each section slightly up.

Another area of the newspaper that we could have improved was the spatial relationship between the pictures and writing. I believe that the pictures accounted for too much space of the newspaper, the majority of the newspaper should consist of the actual written articles. I believe our final product would have look more professional if we had simply reduced the dimensions of the newspaper, allowing the text to account for the majority of the space and the images to be scaled down.

I believe that this project was very challenging due to the limited amount of time we were granted, however I believe that the time constraints motivated me to work at a faster and more efficient rate. On the very first day of this project I realized that I had to quickly choose the topic of my writing; I chose to write about Lincoln’s opinion of the Dred Scott case. I used more time to research my topic and my draft than I had originally hoped, but I believe that doing so was a good investment towards the newspaper.

Prior to this project, I had very little experience using the application InDesign, I was learning some of the basics of the program while designing the newspaper. I did not let my inexperience with the program discourage my efforts to produce a final product that I could proudly display. I managed my time well while designing the newspaper, trying not to concern myself too much with the fine details but more so the general organization and flow of the articles. I leaped out of my comfort zone, but I confidently landed on my feet.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

6 New Things I learned About Taking Pictures

This picture has a good composition because the lighthouse is closely aligned with one of the vertical lines, capturing the focus of the picture.
Photographer- James M. Bernatowicz
Photo Source

Depth of Field
The depth of field in this picture is focused on the red car. The green and yellow cars are out of focus, but the red car is clear and sharp.
No photographer listed
Seems Artless, Depth of field (DOF) camera guide, Photo Source

Eyes, Color, Fill the Frame
The deep blue eyes of this person jump out from all the other colors in the picture. The eyes grab the attention of the audience with an everlasting stare.
Digital Camera, Fill the Frame, Photo Source

Interesting Use of Light
The light in the is picture lightly illuminates the valley, giving it an almost heavenly aura.
Photoseek.com, Southwest USA Highlights: Desert Landscapes, Photographer- Tom Dempsey, Photo Source

Shooting at eye-level (of a subject that is not eye-level with you)
This picture of a dog is at eye level of the photographer, while the photographer is kneeling down. The background makes it seem as if you are sitting down staring at the dog.
OregonLive.com, Did the Kennel return a different dog?, Photo Source

Macro Photography
This picture sharply displays the fine details of the horrid house centipede's menacing body. Each individual leg is clearly visible, a clarity that serves only as a haunting reminder of how fast this abomination can chase you down.
Photo Source

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Devolution of Debate

On October 15th, 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas participated in the 7th of a series of debates in Alton, Illinois, in order to persuade the Illinois public to elect one of them as state senator. The debate in Alton discussed each candidate's view of the Kansas-Nebraska act, the Dred Scott case, and the constitutionality of slavery, some of the same ideas that were reviewed in the 5th debate in Galesburg, Illinois, and the 6th debate in Quincy, Illinois.

During his speech, Douglas attempted to label Lincoln as a hypocrite, stating that Lincoln did not support the idea of abolishment.

Lincoln stated that he never made any complaints regarding the Dred Scott case and Douglas’ allegations that claimed Lincoln had made such remarks, were in fact, false.
I have done no such thing, and Judge Douglas so persistently insisting that I have done so, has strongly impressed me with the belief of a predetermination on his part to misrepresent me. He could not get his foundation for insisting that I was in favor of this negro equality any where else as well he could by assuming that untrue proposition.”
Lincoln’s lack of complaint regarding the Dred Scott case during an earlier speech in Springfield, Illinois, brought his abolitionist views into question, whether he did or did not support the idea of abolition.

Lincoln believed that new western territories should be deemed slavery free. During his speech he quoted Henry Clay in order to support his idea of emerging territories outlawing slavery.
"I desire no concealment of my opinions in regard to the institution of slavery. I look upon it as a great evil, and deeply lament that we have derived it from the parental Government, and from our ancestors. I wish every slave in the United States was in the country of his ancestors. But here they are; the question is how they can best be dealt with? If a state of nature existed, and we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man would be more strongly opposed than I should be, to incorporate the institution of slavery among its elements."
In contrast with the Lincoln Douglas debates, the recent Presidential debates have fallen short of the standards for political discussion. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, candidates were given 60 minutes to recite their speeches and 30 minutes to respond to the speech of their opponent. These longer answers to questions and rebuttals allowed for candidates to explain their policies throughly, preventing far more misunderstanding or misrepresentations to occur. The current Presidential debates limit candidates to far shorter responses to questions, usually only 2-3 minutes each, resulting in general outlines of their policies rather than detailed answers.

I believe that Lincoln and Douglas were far more affluent and engaging speakers than John McCain or Barack Obama. There have been several points during the current debates in which I have felt very disappointed with the level of confidence behind each candidate as they speak.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Larger Numbers of Young Voters Fill the Voting Booths

Whenever I watch any news report relating to the upcoming Presidential elections, one of the most common topics discussed is the increase in the young voter demographic. Most news sources seem to emphasize that young voters will have a very large impact upon the 2008 Presidential elections. In February 2008, the organizations, Rock The Vote and CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement), released a report detailing young voter registration and turnout trends. In reference to the 2004 Presidential elections, the report stated,
In 2004 an estimated 20.1 million young people voted, and the younger voter turnout rate was up 9 percentage points from 2000 to 49 percent...
The number of people ages 18-29 that cast their vote during the 2004 Presidential elections, increased by 9% from 2000. The Presidential debates are beginning to draw the interests of younger Americans, contributing to the size of the overall voting populous. This increase may prove to be the winning edge for a Presidential candidate.

USA Today/MTV/Gallup, recently conducted a poll directed toward the young voter demographic. The poll asked participants which Presidential candidate they favored; the ages of participants ranged from 18-29 years old. The poll found that 61% of the participants favored Barack Obama, while only 32% favored John McCain. Barack Obama appeals to younger voters almost twice as much as John McCain does. This greater appeal to young voters may give Barack Obama a slight advantage over John McCain.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Case to Spark Civil Action

In 1846, a slave named Dred Scott attempted to purchase his freedom from his owner. Dred Scott sued for his freedom that same year. After two separate trials, his case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court for review in 1857. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott could not sue for his rights because he was a slave; he was considered property, not a citizen, therefore he was not granted the same Constitutional rights as American citizens.

This limitation of Constitutional rights to African Americans angered many Republicans of the North. In the March 9th, 1857, issue of Evening Journal, the Republican author states, "The three hundred and forty-seven thousand five hundred and twenty-five Slaveholders in the Republic, accomplished day before yesterday a great success -- as shallow men estimate success. They converted the Supreme Court of Law and Equity of the United States of America into a propagandist of human Slavery. Fatal day for a judiciary made reputable throughout the world, and reliable to all in this nation, by the learning and the virtues of Jay, Rutledge, Ellsworth, Marshall and Story!...All who love Republican institutions and who hate Aristocracy, compact yourselves together for the struggle which threatens your liberty and will test your manhood!" Many Republicans in the Union viewed the ruling in the Dred Scott case as a disgrace to the ideals of freedom that America was founded upon. Those who recognized the hypocrisy embedded within this case and stood in retaliation could be considered true Americans.

This case inspired many individuals, as well as the entire Union, to more aggressively approach the goal of abolishment. In 1861, shortly after the Dred Scott case ruling was delivered, the the Union and the Confederacy engaged in what would become known as the American Civil War. Shortly after the Union defeated the Confederacy, the 13th amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery in the U.S., with the exception of incarceration of individuals for criminal offenses. 3 years after the ratification of the 13th amendment, congress ratified the 14th amendment, establishing former slaves and individuals of African descent as citizens and granting them Constitutional rights. The installment of these two amendments would set in motion the beginnings of the civil rights movement in America that would eventually award all U.S. citizens with equal civil liberties.