ABOUT THIS BLOG

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.


Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two Chambers

A Senate session.

A House session:

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
  • Sam Brownback (R-KS) 2008
  • Robert Byrd (D-WV) 1976
  • Dodd (D-CT) 2008
  • 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
  • Arlen Specter (R-PA) 1996

And of course rememember President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Two Congresses, Two Political Branches

Descriptive Representation and the 111th Congress




..............................................House Senate USA


  • Average Age...................57.0... 63.1... 37.8
  • % Women........................18....... 17..... 50.7
  • % African-American .....9.0..... 1.0...... 12.8
  • % Latino........................ 6.2..... 3.0...... 14.8
  • % Asian .........................1.6..... 2.0...... 4.4
  • Income....................... $174,000... $50,233*

*Median household income in 2007

Charlie Melancon has an official House site. In 2006, he had a campaign site but did not update it for 2008 because he ran unopposed.

Here is a 2006 Melancon ad:





Here we might see both Congresses:



What the Constitution says about Congress.


James Madison Rules!

Bicameralism and the separation of powers create internal friction within parties -- just as James Madison intended. Three examples:

President Obama's fundraising is causing heartburn for congressional Democrats. From Politico:
Congressional Democrats also are privately alarmed by Obama’s future fundraising plans. The Los Angeles Times reported that “Organizing for America,” Obama’s new
organization, “will employ a full-time staff of hundreds of professional organizers — possibly an average of between one and two workers per congressional district in certain politically important states.” The possibility that Obama will have a separate fundraising vehicle, outside the Democratic National Committee, which he already controls, has led to “delicate discussions” with party leaders on Capitol Hill. Conservative House Democrats fear that Obama will use his fundraising muscle to organize support in their districts — and then pressure them to back legislation that could hurt their reelection chances. “The Blue Dogs are really worried about this,” said a Democratic insider. “They are complaining to leadership about it already.”
According to Roll Call, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) is telling donors and would-be Senate candidates that focusing on the House is futile:
“I would love to get a Republican majority in the House, I just don’t think it’s feasible this cycle,” Cornyn said in an interview. “Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t make gains, and certainly they can. But we’re friendly competitors.” Cornyn is candid that his appeals to GOP campaign contributors include emphasizing that — contrary to the Senate — House parliamentary rules afford the Republican minority virtually no power to obstruct or shape the agenda of President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats. Individual Senators have available to them a powerful set of parliamentary tools regardless of which party holds the majority.

In CQ Politics, we see that different strategic situations face House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
Senior Republicans say Boehner and McConnell share a low-key managerial style, but that their differences may be highlighted when they confront a Democratic administration. A longtime appropriator, McConnell has long pushed for deals on big spending measures such as the stimulus. Boehner, leading a caucus that has grown more conservative, has taken a harder line on curbing domestic spending.“Mitch knows that on any given vote, he can influence the process through the use of the filibuster. John doesn’t have the filibuster. His job is difficult because he faces the constant challenge to boost morale. I mean, it’s not fun to lose every time,” said Sen. Richard M. Burr , R-N.C., the chief deputy whip to McConnell, a former House colleague of Boehner, and a friend of both.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Feinstein Internship

Senator Feinstein's Los Angeles office is looking for highly motivated college students for internship positions for the winter, spring, and summer sessions. I have included below information on the internship (please feel free to forward and post at your convenience), and former interns' testimonials of their experiences with our office in this packet for your reference. About the internship position:

Tasks and Responsibilities: Interns support our Field Representatives and Staff Assistants in drafting memos to the Senator, scheduling or attending meetings with staff, constituent letters, conducting background research, phone calls, document requests, morning press clippings, research projects, and attending events with the Senator when she is in the area.

Criteria: For many citizens, contact with Senator Feinstein's office is their only experience with an elected representative. Therefore, we need polite and friendly students with some familiarity with the American political system and current events. Additionally, strong writing and editing skills are a plus.*

Hours: Flexible hours (a minimum of 12 hours/wk) during the school year. We are very conducive to working with students' class schedules.

Application Process: Interested students should submit a cover letter, resume, and one page writing sample to Angeline_Macaspac@feinstein.senate.gov.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact me at the above email address or at 310-914-7300. We look forward to hearing from you!


Best,
Angeline Macaspac

Intern Coordinator
(310) 914-7300
Angeline_Macaspac@feinstein.senate.gov

* See, I told you so. -- JJP

Wednesday, January 21, 2009