Sunday, December 15, 2013


As most of you probably already know, there was yet another shooting at a high school this past Friday (Dec. 13th) at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.  A young lady, Claire Davis (17) is clinging for her life after being shot by a classmate that was upset with one of the high school's staff members for kicking him out of a club.

Without a doubt, this tragedy is going to raise, once again, the debate over gun control and regardless of which side of that argument you may be on, there is another underlying issue that has seemed to go ignored.  Soon after the infamous Columbine massacre research revealed that access to guns amongst youth as actually declined over the years.  In other words, a high school student growing up in the 60s or 70s would more likely have access to gun than a high school student today.  It would go without saying that the further back in time that you'd go, the greater that number would increase (student's having access to guns).  Therefore, there has to be another issue of which needs to be addressed: WHY?  Why are students deciding to use such extreme methods as a solution to their problems?

I could literally go into a deep and philosophical discussion here, for this is an issue that I have a lot of opinions on, but I'll not reveal my viewpoints here.  Yet, I would love to hear your input on this topic.  I honestly do believe that it is a topic that needs to be discussed, locally, on the state level and on the federal level - and that topic isn't about gun control.

BLOG TOPIC: WHY!?  Why are today's youth resorting to such extreme methods as a resolution to their problems? Is society, as a whole, responsible or is this due to a major break down of the American family?  Do you believe that this is simply a "gun control" issue?

Again: please make sure you are respectful of each other's opinions...

This week's blog topic was suggested by the Key Element.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pay for Play

The quest for greater revenues and T.V exposure to a seismic shift in college football with top programs Texas and Oklahoma possibly on the move to the Pac-10 to create a mega conference and to bring in mega dollars for those institutions have re-opened the discussion of whether students athletes should be provided compensation for competing in sports. The reason why this topic has been re-opened is simple, there are some people who think that with all the money that these schools bring in during the season they should be able to provide the players with some form of spending to pay for things they may need. 

Some would argue that providing athletes with a stipend provide less opportunity for boosters to come in and make an offer for easy money to your player. Coaches wouldn't have to worry about their players getting work-study jobs to make a little money during the off-season, players can give a better effort with incentive and will also be more rested and have more time to be in the weight room.
With every positive, there is a negative. For example, paying a player will create a jealousy factor among students who are not athletes and then you have to figure in what athletes get paid because it would be difficult to pay every athlete because most schools have a multitude of different sports. 
Trust me - there are a LOT of additional pro and con arguments for this topic.  To be quite honest, I had to resist going on a tangent here and presenting a number of them, for as I was typing this up, my head began to swim with pro and con arguments (ya know, those little guys in my head are going to argue this one ALL NIGHT long... I'll never get any sleep!)

Blog Topic Question This Week: Dah!  I think it's pretty obvious!  Should college athletes be paid?  It really does look like a simple question - but looks can be deceiving!!!

Happy Blogging!

SPECIAL NOTE: This week's blog topic was provided by Lady Maya.  If any of you have an interesting topic you'd like for us to discuss, drop me an email!  If it's a good one, I'll post it!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Filibuster Issue

Ok, bear with me as I set the "stage" for this week's blog topic....

On November 21st, the Senate struck down nearly 225 years of precedent by ending the long-standing filibuster rules for most presidential nominations, a remarkable change in procedure that has been the subject of a years-long fight between Democrats and Republicans.  The vote was nearly down party lines, with a couple Democrats siding with the GOP that this was a dangerous move, politically.  This move is known as the “Nuclear Option!”  Oddly enough, those that preached against this move before, claiming that “…this “nuclear option” would fundamentally change the very foundation and structure of our democratic procedures and should never be implemented.” (Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.)).

First in 1917 and then in 1975, the Senate formally set up rules for “cloture motions,” the name given to the parliamentary device to shut down debate. It requires the affirmative votes of 60 sitting senators.

The Constitution cites only five requirements for Senate supermajorities, including impeachment convictions of presidents, but allows the House and Senate to set their own rules. Under long-standing resolutions, the Senate considers itself to be a “continuing body” whose parliamentary rules remain in effect unless a two-thirds supermajority votes to change them.

Here’s a brief recent history of the Senate’s rules disputes:

May 2005: A bipartisan “Gang of 14″ agrees to work together to avoid blocking several judicial nominees selected by President George W. Bush. Senators who helped negotiate the deal included John Warner (R-Va.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

February 2010: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) dismisses an effort by some Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, saying the chamber’s procedures were designed to prevent the majority party from unilaterally changing the rules. Some junior Senate Democrats were pushing to change the rules to avoid GOP attempts to block nominations and legislation.

Early January 2011: Senate leaders use a parliamentary trick to leave the chamber in a state of suspended animation — in reality adjourned since Jan. 5 but officially considered in a long recess that’s part of the same individual legislative day — until later in the month as they work out a proposed change in the rules.

January 22, 2011: The chamber makes its most significant rules change in 35 years by agreeing to speed up its work by limiting the use of the filibuster and dropping the confirmation process for about 400 federal agency nominees.

November 2012: Shortly after Election Day, Reid and McConnell begin sparring over several days on the Senate floor after the Democratic leader once again threatens to change the rules by eliminating the filibuster vote needed to formally begin debate on legislation. He would allow for a final filibuster vote, thus making the chamber run more efficiently.

December 2012: Showing how far some are willing to go to challenge what they consider arcane rules, a federal judge hears in a case about whether Congress is constitutionally required to pass legislation by a simple majority vote and whether the Senate’s filibuster rules violate such a requirement.

January 24, 2013: Reid and McConnell agree to a bipartisan compromise authored by a handful of senior senators. The new rules essentially short-circuit one filibuster vote during the “motion to proceed” to a bill, when the chamber begins considering legislation. Republicans had increasingly filibustered the motion to begin debating legislation to slow the passage of bills or block them.

July 11, 2013: During a blistering floor dispute over threatened rules changes, McConnell said that if Reid goes through with the so-called nuclear option, “our friend the majority leader is going to be remembered as the worst leader here ever.”

July 26, 2013: In another near-meltdown, Republicans agreed to confirm several of President Obama’s executive branch nominees and, in exchange, Democrats agreed to leave existing filibuster rules in place. The agreement came after an unprecedented closed-door meeting of senators in the Old Senate Chamber.

Nov. 21, 2013: Senate Democrats voted to change the chamber’s rules so that federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote supermajority that has been required for more than two centuries. The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominees..... at least for now.....

There are a number of pros and cons to this change.  Click Here to view an article written that sites some of these issues, as presented by Dr. Galloway, the senior specialist in American government for the Library of Congress.

Topic Question: Is the change in the Senate rules on filibustering a good thing that is basically long overdue, or will it have fundamental changes that go way beyond current issues?  Will this change set a "dangerous imbalance" in our government, especially if one party is in control of both the House and the Senate?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are College Rankings a Good Thing?

Believe it or not, you're heading toward this topic like a speeding bullet train!  Think about it, it's almost mid-term (January) which means that you'll be 1/2 through your Junior year or to put it differently, you're ONLY a year and a half from GRADUATING!!! (Ok, reality just slapped you in the face!!)

U.S. News & World Report this week released its annual college rankings, which include data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities. This year, Princeton came out on top of the national university rankings, while Williams College stayed in the top spot among national liberal arts schools.

This year, the rankings formula was changed to place more emphasis on student outcomes. "U.S. News strives to provide students and their families with the most comprehensive data available," said U.S. News' director of data research, Bob Morse, in a statement. "Measuring outcomes is critical to understanding how well a school retains and educates its students." High school rank, meanwhile, received less weight than in years past.

Of course, the release of the rankings also brought out the critics. Here's a sampling of the headlines: "Why U.S. News' college rankings hurt students"; "Why U.S. News college rankings shouldn't matter to anyone." (Click on these links to read the articles) Critics claim that the rankings give universities bad incentives when it comes to raising tuition and ginning up oversized pools of applicants; they also claim that the rankings don't place enough emphasis on affordability or the job prospects of graduates.

Even President Obama got in on the action recently, when, while announcing that the U.S. Department of Education would be releasing college ratings of its own, he said, "Right now, private rankings like U.S. News & World Report puts out each year encourages a lot of colleges to focus on ways to game the numbers, and it actually rewards them, in some cases, for raising costs. I think we should rate colleges based on opportunity. Are they helping students from all kinds of backgrounds succeed?"

Topic Question: Are College rankings beneficial or do they really matter when it comes to selecting a college?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


You read the topic heading correctly....Secession.  It has reared it's head once again.  Contrary to what many Americans believe, there was no amendment passed in the post-Civil War years (Reconstruction Era) that official made it illegal for a State to secede from the Union.  The question here becomes, if that should be something added to the Constitution or should States be "allowed" (that is a tricky phrase) to break from the United States.  Many people believed that the question of secession was closed once the Civil War ended, but there is a growing movement amongst several States to either completely break from the Union (forming their own independent country) or portions of a State wishing to break from their current State and forming a new State.

Read this article that appeared in The Daily Beast on Sept. 12th of this year. - Secession Fever Sweeps Texas, Maryland, Colorado, and California.  (This article focuses on three of the States that have the greatest traction toward some form of secession, but there are a few additional ones that have just begun to move in that direction)

This Week's Blog Topic:
Should States be allowed to secede from the United States?  Do they have the "right" (another tricky phrase) to do so?  Would such an a move create extreme problems for the United States, as a whole?  Do you believe that this could lead to another "civil war"?  Or is this simply (as the article seems to hint at), a movement lead by disgruntled Republicans and Libertarians (conservatives)?  

Sunday, October 20, 2013


You may have head the story about the young college girl named Rachael Sacks that wrote an essay online about being "rich" or maybe a better interpretation would be about "not apologizing" for being rich.  I've included the link below to the original essay and a link to the article that appeared in the New York Post.  Ms. Sacks essay has created a media firestorm, with people becoming furious about her essay, labeling her as a "spoiled rich kid" (something she actually doesn't deny) and other things I can't repeat here.  As a matter of fact, Ms. Sacks makes the cover of Saturday's New York Post (printed version pictured above), with the headline being "Mean Little Rich Girl."

Here's the original essay written by Ms. Sacks: I’m Not Going To Pretend That I’m Poor To Be Accepted By You

Here's the link to the New York Post article: "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Rich"

This week's Blog Topic is two-fold:
1. Is the media (and everyone that is upset over this) making something out of absolutely nothing? Is Ms. Sacks original essay properly depicted in the media?
2. Has our society became overly sensitive over economic differences - upperclass, middle class, and lower-class?  Why or why not?

Monday, October 7, 2013


Yeah, you read the title for this week's blog correctly and no, it's not a play on words.  You have been debating some hot topics for the past couple of weeks and I decided to give you a break from the political and social issues and let you have some fun - even though the topic is a serious one!!!

The idea for this week's blog comes from one of your fellow APUSH 2 students that had the NERVE to say that Twinkies were terrible!!!  HELLO!!! Twinkies, like them or not, are an American icon and just as American as apple pie!!!  When the company announced that they weren't going to make them anymore, riots nearly broke out across the nation and people swamped their local stores to stockpile their supplies of this national treasure!!!  Once again, AMERICANS spoke and forced the change and Twinkies are being mass produced, once again, from sea to shining sea!!!

So, that got me to thinking... and as you all know, that is a VERY dangerous thing for me to do... and I came up with this week's blog question!!!!

Should Twinkies be officially declared, by an act of Congress, America's National Junk Food??  If not Twinkies, what? (yeah, I have to give equal opportunity for those of you - and you KNOW WHO YOU ARE, MA.... that may have a different opinion!)

PS> Be on the look out for the KeyElement & Lord Gehm Twinkies public service announcement coming soon!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is It Time For Another Party????

First, I'd like to say that I was really impressed with the great discussion from last week's post.  As stated in that post, the purpose wasn't to scare anyone about your future as an American adult (quickly approaching!!), but hopefully to make you aware of the reality and to get your great minds to working - for I honestly believe that there is a solution (like many of you) and that solution will have to come from your generation....I hope, for your sake, your children's sake and the future of our country.

That brings me to this week's blog topic.  Let me give you some information (or insight) before I pose the actual question.

For years, the American electorate has stated that they'd like to have a PRIMARY third party to select from; a party that could take on the "old guards of democracy," - the Democrats and the Republicans.  Yet, we have to ponder on the question of rather or not that is a viable and even more importantly, a realistic option?  The last time that the U.S. had a distinctive choice for a 3rd party was when a candidate ran in the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections - Ross Perot (oddly enough, this candidate warned about much of today's problems...).  During those perspective elections he was able to obtain a combined 30 million votes!

Since then, U.S. voters have become since the rise of a number of 3rd political parties; some of them have been fairly moderate, some have been extreme and of course, others down right bizarre.  As of 2012, the United States maintains five major political parties and a dozen other minor political parties (i.e., Modern Whig, Objectivists, Socialist Equality, etc.)

Yet, the question remains, would a 3rd PRIMARY party be electable?  The Americans Elect (founded in 2011) has gained some traction since former Republican Louisiana  governor and 2012 presidential candidate sought the party's nomination.  The Libertarian Party is also gathering popularity due to Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and so has the Constitution Party.

Although millions of Americans are calling for an alternative to the established two-party system, it seems that the alternatives lack the resources, historical success and possibly the moderation that those stubborn elephants and donkeys have.  Not only that, but with so much money and power the GOP and Democrats have, would a 3rd PRIMARY party have to become just as bad and powerful as the other two parties to survive?

Jesse Ventura, the former Minnesota Governor once stated:

"I believe the system is so corrupt, the two parties have corupted it so bad, that any third party, in which to be successful, will likewise have to corrupt itself.  If you already have a two-headed monster, lwhy would you need three?"

Undoubtedly, there is a lot to consider when thinking about this topic.  Look back at history when third parties have tried to rise up (Populists, Greenback, etc) and how the two primary parties have always swallowed them up.

Therefore, this week's topic question is:
Even though millions may believe that a third party is needed, is it really a violable solution?  How would this effect our current election process?  Make sure you defend your point-of-view!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Runaway Train....

Take a minute and click on this link (it'll open in a separate window) - the United States Debt Clock.  Take a hard look, don't just give it a quick glance...really look at it for a minute or two.  A couple things that I want you to pay close attention to.

  1. At the top left hand side - the US National Debt number (quickly approaching $17 Trillion)
  2. Look at row on the clock that has, "Total US Interest (2013)", "Interest Per Citizen," and the real shocker, "US TOTAL DEBT" (That one is approaching $60 Trillion)
  3. Lastly, go to the bottom row and look at the figure for "US Unfunded Liabilities" (if you don't know what those are, or anything on the clock, just place your mouse over it and a pop-up box will appear at the top of the clock to give you a brief description).  That amount, is UNFUNDED, which means WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO COVER IT SO WE BORROW.....
Now you may be wondering why I have ask that you look at this (and I do mean LOOK at it!).  First, it isn't to scare the pants off of you (even though it does me), but to let you actually SEE what you are about to inherit when you turn 18 years old; for that is when you officially become adults, since that too is the age of which you can legally vote.  Secondly, in no way shape or form, did I have you look at this so we could toss about which political party is at fault; for regardless of which political party you may or may not be associated with, it really is a mute point at this juncture.  The sad reality is that we have a serious problem...a very serious problem.  It is true, that no country can really operate in today's world 100% debt free, but I think we'd all agree that likewise, a country cannot sustain this amount of crushing debt.

The truth is, the debt problem has become a runaway train and unless someone can come up with a REAL solution, we all know what happens to a runaway train.

So, this week's topic is...


Sunday, September 15, 2013

"America" - What does it mean today?

Welcome to your first blog of APUSH 2.  Just like last year, I expect some great conversations and awesome insight!!!  Not to mention, I know you just can't wait until we do the TERM GAME again this year!!!!  :-)

This week, we are going to be discussing what has become somewhat of a hot topic lately... the role of America in world politics and rather or not we should continue to be the "World's Policeman."  Surprisingly, the varying viewpoints on what "America" means today crosses political boundaries and you can find different viewpoints amongst Democrats, Republicans and even Libertarians.  As always, those viewpoints normally have to do with what part of the 3-prong spectrum (liberal, moderate, or conservative) the individual happens to belong to, yet according to a pole done by ABC News last week, it's pretty obvious the definition of America's role in world affairs has dramatically changed over the past 20 years.  Twenty years ago, most Americans still believed that we had a moral responsibility to be heavily involved with other countries affairs and they also believed that we, as a democratic republic, were the "shinning examples" for other countries - countries that looked up to the United States and respected our opinion and assistance.  That doesn't seem to be the case today - at least according to some.

TOPIC: In your opinion, what does "America" mean today?  Are we still "morally" obligated to get involved with other countries affairs - should we still be the "Policemen of the World"?