I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Congress in the 19th Century

The Compromise of 1850

Webster 1/26/1830:
 Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as, “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterward”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!
Daniel Webster, 3/7/1850 (during the South Carolina secession crisis):
I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. 
Thomas Hart Benton and pistols in the Senate

You want polarization? Here's some polarization. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts


Lincoln-Douglas debate (24:32)

Congress and the Civil War

The Lincoln movie and parliamentary procedure

The Lincoln movie, more generally...

The congressional oath of office dates from this era.

Background on the impeachment process.

There is an entire site on the Johnson impeachment.

Another impeachment

Monday, April 27, 2015

Congressional History, Part I

Polarized Congress

Federalist 52:
As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people. Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured.
Federalist 55:
THE number of which the House of Representatives is to consist, forms another and a very interesting point of view, under which this branch of the federal legislature may be contemplated. Scarce any article, indeed, in the whole Constitution seems to be rendered more worthy of attention, by the weight of character and the apparent force of argument with which it has been assailed. The charges exhibited against it are, first, that so small a number of representatives will be an unsafe depositary of the public interests; secondly, that they will not possess a proper knowledge of the local circumstances of their numerous constituents; thirdly, that they will be taken from that class of citizens which will sympathize least with the feelings of the mass of the people, and be most likely to aim at a permanent elevation of the few on the depression of the many; fourthly, that defective as the number will be in the first instance, it will be more and more disproportionate, by the increase of the people, and the obstacles which will prevent a correspondent increase of the representatives.

Chart: Number of Representatives and Total Population

An attack ad (almost verbatim from an actual newspaper hit piece):

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looks like life is imitating simulation again... sort of. This article details the compromise reached on the human trafficking bill (the one with the anti-abortion provision) and Amy Klobuchar (who I played) is at the middle of it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Foreign Policy and Intelligence

Intelligence and Oversight: Hearings in the 1970s:

Final Paper

Answer one of the following:

  1. Take any of JFK’s “profiles in courage.” How might a critic disagree with the analysis? How does this story illustrate differences and similarities between the Congress of its time and the Congress of today?
  2. Propose and defend a specific reform in the structures or procedures of Congress (including legislative-executive relations). Explain what you would accomplish with your reform. That is, drawing on what you have learned in this course, spell out the problem and tell how your reform would fix it. Use concrete information and cite credible sources. Give fair and careful consideration to counterarguments and practical obstacles.

  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page. 
  • Cite your sources. Use Turabian/Chicago endnotes. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Monday, May 4. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.