• Georgia Childhood Obesity PSA Battle

    The state of Georgia recognizes its high rate of childhood obesity. In order to begin attempting to promote healthier living for children, the state began airing a series of Public Service Announcements aimed at curbing behavior. However, the ads have been highly criticized.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Are the PSAs offensive? Why do you believe there is outrage over their airing?
    • Should Georgia continue with the campaign? Why or why not?
  • Candidates on the Web

    It is hard to deny that presidential candidates are expected to have a strong internet presence. No longer is just a website acceptable; candidates need to be present on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and every other site imaginable or risk being told that they are not tech savvy. CNN has recently began tracking candidate usage of different mediums through a campaign-tech scorecard.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Why has social media become so important for campaigns?
    • What are the risks and rewards of relying heavily on social media?
  • How Delegates are Allocated

    An often overlooked aspect of campaigns is how state parties choose to allocate delegates. Each year small changes are made but with more states trying to frontload their primaries to assure candidates pay attention, the rules have become even more important. Consider this primer, which examines changes between 2008 and 2012 GOP delegate allocation rules. And also take a look at this analysis of the changes.

    Discussion Starters:

    • How does proportional delegate allocation impact primary elections? Which candidates does it benefit? Hurt?
    • Are these changes good for the Republican Party as a whole? Why or why not?
  • Big Banks and Little America

    While much public discourse has focused on how Wall Street worked to harm individual Americans through bad mortgages, far less has been discussed about how the same big banks caused cities to face economic collapse--consequently putting even more citizens at risk. Consider the following story about the experiences of Jefferson County, AL (content warning: some strong language).

    Discussion Starters:

    • Who is to blame for the problems in Jefferson County? Voters? City officials? Wall Street? Why?
    • Should cities be permitted to file bankruptcy? Why or why not?
  • The End of the Iraq Conflict

    In October, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops would be leaving Iraq by January 2012.

    Today, the last troops actually left.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What do you believe were our main accomplishments in nine years in Iraq?
    • Do you believe Iraq will see more stability with our troops gone? Why or why not?
  • Time's Person of the Year

    Each year, Time names a person of the year. Some years specific individuals are named the winner while other years the award goes to a "type" of person. Consider the list of past winners. This year, Time named the protester as person of the year.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Do you agree with Time's selection? Why or why not?
    • Who else do you believe should have been considered in 2011? Why?
  • Budget Breakdown

    Let's face it, when we consider the federal budget, the numbers are staggering and are difficult for even the smartest financial minds in the world to comprehend. So instead, consider the following graphic:

    Discussion Starters:

    • How does this presentation impact your attitudes regarding the federal budget?
    • Do you believe society would respond differently to economic policy if it better understood what was being done? Why or why not?
  • Perils of Polling

    Without question, polling is as much an art as a science. However, it is important to remember that there is much science behind the work of pollsters.

    With that in mind, we are all aware that for the next year we will routinely hear about poll results constantly. Some from major media sources and others perhaps from within a candidate's own campaign. But, as a recent story suggests, likely voters are still capable of lying--causing poll results to be far from correct.

    Discussion Starters:

    • Why are polls so popular?
    • Why do you think likely voters may lie to pollsters regarding their beliefs and attitudes?
  • The Continuing Debate on Welfare

    The merits of America's welfare system have been long-debated. Proponents both for and against the program regularly point to extreme examples to try to demonstrate points. Recently, a blog post from a conservative college student who has worked at Wal-Mart received a fair amount of media attention for this very reason.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What do you think about the blog post? Youthful ignorance or a well-considered argument?
    • How can we help assure welfare is not abused while not allowing individuals to take advantage of the system? Is it possible?
  • All-American Muslim and Lowe's

    TLC's reality show All-American Muslim traces five Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan to show the lives of average Muslim citizens in the United States in the aftermath of September 11th. Recently, however, the show has become a media topic given the decision of Lowe's to pull its advertising. Lowe's made the decision after a strong protest campaign from the Florida Family Association, which objected to how positively Muslims were portrayed in the series.

     

    Discussion Starters:

    • Was it right for Lowe's to pull their advertising? Why or why not?
    • How could Lowe's have handled the protest differently?
  • Politics and Restaurants

    News stories have recently began running stories looking at politics and American restaurants. First consider this piece, which looks at how areas with Cracker Barrels and Whole Food Markets differ in voting patterns. As the article explains, in 2008, candidate Barack Obama carried 81 percent of counties with a Whole Foods and just 36 percent of counties with a Cracker Barrel —a record 45-point gap.

    At the same time, stories have surfaced about the political activities of Chick-Fil-A along with their donation history.

    Discussion Starters:

    • What do you take away from the article on Cracker Barrel and Whole Foods? How do demographics impact politics?
    • With regards to Chick-Fil-A, why do you believe the media has chose to run with this story for over a year now? Should it be relevant to the business? Why or why not?