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, January 30, 2008

Hillary and Gen. Casey

I was able to find a clip of Sen. Clinton interacting with Gen. George Casey (then Commander of Multii-National Forces in Iraq, now Army Chief of Staff).

Here she is, quizzing him on deployment readiness:

John McCain certainly commands a lot of respect from military commanders due to his experience and expertise, and that is evident in the clip Professor Pitney posted. When McCain speaks it reminds me of a father lecturing his children when they've been bad. Here, it doesn't seem like Hillary is as comfortable in that role as McCain is. But, Gen. Casey is not stupid; he realizes he is potentially speaking to his next boss, and is appropriately deferential.

Hillary doesn't make generals cry, but she can hold her own.

Earmarks, Hill Style, Home Style

n his State of the Union address (below), President Bush denounced wasteful earmarks. Yesterday, he signed an executive order telling officials to ignore "earmarks included in any non-statutory source."

Some lawmakers, such as Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), post their daily schedules online.

Washington staff play an important part in Hill style. Here is a brief description of some job titles. In this clip, see see aides to Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Florida).

John McCain, much in the news today, has a very assertive Hill style:

And Colbert has a unique take on Wexler's home style:


Pres. Bush in his SOTU address to Congress asked that the number of earmarks be cut in half this year. (full story) The number of earmarks attached to a single bill are incredible. The 2007 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill contained 1,753 earmarks totalling $1/2 billion. Map of earmarks

Monday, January 28, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

Two Congresses/Two Chambers

House Senate USA
% Women 16% 16% 51%
% Black 09% 01% 13%
% Latino 06% 03% 14%
% Asian 01% 02% 05%
Mean Age 56 62 37.5

Median Household Income (2006): $48,201
Congressional salary: (2008): $169,300

Louisiana Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon (meh-LAW-sawn) has an official site and a campaign site. See a 2006 campaign ad, below.

One major difference between the chambers is that few House members run for president, and seldom get far when they do (see Duncan Hunter and Dennis Kucinich). But a fairly large fraction of senators have gone for the White House:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) 1996, 2000
Joseph Biden (D-DE) 1988, 2008
Sam Brownback (R-KS) 2008
Robert Byrd (D-WV) 1976
Hillary Clinton (D-NY) 2008
Christopher Dodd (D-CT) 2008
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) 2000
Tom Harkin (D-IA) 1992
Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 2000
Edward Kennedy (D-MA) 1980
John Kerry (D-MA) 2004
Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) 2004
Richard Lugar (R-IN) 1996
John McCain (R-AZ) 2000, 2008
Barack Obama (D-IL) 2008
Arlen Specter (R-PA) 1996

Thursday, January 24, 2008

McCain draws "First Blood"

The '08 star power-Cold War continued its escalation on Thursday, as John McCain enlisted the help of former two-time world heavyweight champion, Rocky Balboa. Fox News reports that Sylvester Stallone is supporting McCain in his bid for the Republican nomination.


His well-timed endorsement coming just a day before the 1/25 release of "Rambo" (*insert shameless plug here*), Stallone says that McCain is a real-life version of the action hero. "(L)ike a rough action film, you need somebody who’s been in that to deal with it."

Stallone brings with him a long history of international diplomacy and foreign relations. For those of you lucky enough to recall 1985's Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa singlehandedly defeated the USSR and ended the Cold War after knocking out Soviet sensation Ivan Drago in Moscow.

This move counters Chuck Norris' steadfast support of Mike Huckabee. Fox News is already hyping an epic battle between Walker Texas Ranger and John Rambo. Analysts also expect that in the coming weeks we will see The Rock give his support to Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney will be backed by the cast of "Big Love."

But in all seriousness...what exactly is the appeal of celebrity backers? One has to wonder how much weight these endorsements will carry. Rambo and Walker aren't going to sway Super Tuesday one way or the other, yet their support routinely makes the front page on FoxNews and CNN and Norris even stood behind Huckabee at the post-Iowa press conference.

Part of this may be the gimmick, yet in today's TMZ-addicted world, it is entirely possible that actors do have some political pull. George Clooney is bound to win a few votes for Obama and Michael J Fox's ad campaign was key in McCaskill's win in the 2006 Missouri senatorial race. For voters who do not routinely read the papers or listen to talk radio, it is much easier to vote for a celebrity rather than a candidate's platform.

And this begs the question, which will make the bigger difference for McCain: the support of the Boston Globe or the support of Rocky Balboa?

The WGA Comes to the Hill

See the video and story below. Why did the writers go to Capitol Hill? Why did members of Congress take part? What does this episode tell us about their constituencies, their Hill style and their home style?

The Washington Post reports:

Usually, the Rayburn Building is the kind of place reserved for all sorts of serious goings-on conducted by sober-looking folks in suits. The people who think they're running the country. Which is to say, it's not too often that you see the likes of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) donning a ZZ Top-esque beard and proclaiming "solidarity" with the people who really matter -- entertainment types.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008