Monday, March 10, 2008

Peace Through Torture

It is difficult, if not impossible, to fathom at this point how the Bush administration can justify the actions they have taken. The most recent disgusting example of rampant disregard for the safety of Americans is the veto of the interrogation limits for detainees. While intelligence experts and interrogators continually identify the ineffectiveness of torture, overwhelmingly Americans fail to understand this. This disconnect is dangerous because it has been shown that torture can increase similar acts of violence from those on the other side of the conflict. The American people and those around the world must not let these actions continue. A concerted effort to hold those responsible for torture could be one positive step in creating sustained change.

Another aspect that has been identified as playing a role in the veto is executive power. Like many of the actions taken during his term, Bush has continually attempted to enhance the power of the executive generally and the presidency specifically. This is in direct contrast to the rhetoric of big government as a pariah on society. It is hard to imagine trying to secure your legacy by making the world less safe and free through torture. History will not look positively on the wasteful War On(of) Terror that has been undertaken during this administration. It is even more disgusting that McCain gives the Bush administration nearly a free ride in his discussion of their actions. I have a campaign slogan for him "Making America Less Safe for only Three Trillion a War!" I guess it may be a little too long...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rough Mid-Terms

Today we will be handing back students' graded mid-term exams. I am quite concerned about being killed by a mob of angry students at the end of it. Grades overall were not so great. The test didn't seem overly hard and the folks that did well, on average, did really well. As with most classes, there were those folks that clearly never read either the text books or the assigned articles, despite the fact that the expectations for the exam were laid out clearly throughout the class.

Getting back their mid-terms is going to be a rude awakening for some students. Particularly those who did well on their literature reviews, but clearly didn't put in equivalent time preparing for their exam. Overall I would have to say I was hoping they would do better. I am not sure if they got a sense of false confidence or just were too busy with other exams. When I originally saw the exam I thought it was going to be too easy if anything. All of it was covered clearly in lecture and the readings that were covered were among the more interesting. Even the essay questions closely followed the format he previewed in class.

I was also surprised by the questions most people got wrong or right. Most people were able to correctly provide the definition of induction (in social research, collecting the data and then building a theory based on it, as opposed to deduction), a term I thought was going to be more difficult. Many people got respondent validation(having your participants read through your results to see if your interpretation is accurate) wrong, surprisingly. Particularly with the amount of times this idea was referenced in class and in the readings.

Oh well, lets hope they learn the lessons and make a more concerted effort for the final.

(Update: Twelve out of the fifteen students that failed the final didn't show up to pick them up. No surprise there, but it doesn't bode well for them to keep missing lectures.)