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, March 31, 2010

Second Night of Simulation on C-SPAN

Sim: Murkowski Op-Ed on Claremont Factor

I (Sen. Murkowski) wrote an op-ed on the Claremont Factor. I have copied it here for your reading pleasure:

Dear friends and distinguished colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that I have introduced an amendment to the Democrats' Big Funding Deal Act for the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind that would deal directly with the severe problem of homeless students that the great State of Alaska faces. Unfortunately, our great state has one of the highest homeless populations in the nation, and many of those individuals are children already at high risk. These students need extra attention. They need an education, and they need a home.

That's why I proposed a bipartisan amendment with my distinguished Democratic colleague Patty Murray from the State of Washington. The opportunity to home-school children is a priority of mine and of the Republican caucus in general. But homeless children do not have homes. So instead of home-schooling, I proposed school-homing.

A school-home would allow homeless children to attend school in an environment in which they can be safe. A mix between a boarding school and a homeless shelter, a school-home is critical to alleviate the most severe problems facing the great State of Alaska's homeless population: a lack of a home, and a lack of education.

I urge my colleagues in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to support this amendment in the mark-up hearings tomorrow night, and I urge my colleagues in the full Senate to keep this amendment to the Big Funding Deal as we move to floor debate. It is what is best for our children and what is best for our communities.

All my best,

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Senate Shuts Down over Reconciliation

Apparently Senate procedure requires unanimous consent for any hearings after 2pm. When Democrats won a vote to debate the HC reconciliation bill yesterday, Republicans responded by sending everyone home:

Congress and Interest Groups I

Interest groups spend much more on lobbying activities than campaign contributions.

The best explanation of campaign fundraising in the history of film:

What is lobbying?

Frogs do it:

Two Explanations of How the Simulation Works

You have entered the Matrix.

In this alternate universe, the rules ... change.

Monday, March 22, 2010

H--- No!!!

Boehner says it all.

The Internet and the Health Care Bill

TechPresident's Micah Sifry has a post examining the role of the internet in the health care battle, comparing the circumstances of the 93-94 health care battle to the 09-10 battle.

Sifry writes that the internet opened up the legislative process (bills posted online) and that this allowed more debate and discussion to take place.

I'll buy that transparency and debate are good for democracy and bill making, but did the internet drag out the process? Make it more difficult? Are those both good things in the end? Could Congress have done a better job of leveraging the internet to have managed the health care debate more effectively?

Congress, Courts, and Interest Groups

Blue slips

Miss the debate?

Between the Rules Committee hearing on Saturday and the floor session yesterday, I spent an unhealthly amount of time watching C-SPAN this weekend. Alas, I wasn't able to focus on all 11 hours to debate. In case you missed some (or all) of the proceedings, The Huffington Post put together a 10 minute video of the highlights:

Some of my favorite parts were the procedural maneuvers not shown in the video, like the line of GOP reps taking turns asking for "unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks in opposition to this flawed health care bill," and David Dreier's exchanges with Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter during debate on the rule. Also, check out Pelosi making her way into the Capitol with the gavel used to pass Medicare in 1965, while a crowd of Tea Partiers chant "Kill the Bill!":

And Obama's remarks on the passage:

"This is what change looks like."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care, Dennis Kucinich, and President Obama's "Power to Persuade."

Before Spring Break we talked about Congress and the president. Davidson and Oleszek write, "To persuade members to support their programs, presidents often grant or withhold their patronage resources." (307)

NY Times columnist Timothy Egan wrote an article in today's paper about House Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and the end of his opposition to health care reform. When President Obama accompanied Representative Kucinich on Air Force One to his district in Ohio for a rally, he used the Presidential "Power to Persuade" to get Kucinich's vote. The plane ride helped:

"Until the last minute, it looked like even an executive sky ride would not move the pure heart of Dennis Kucinich. When you’ve seen a U.F.O., as Kucinich says he has, a mere lobbying session at 32,000 feet by the Leader of the Free World, urging you to join your party in a cause that has eluded Democratic presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, is a tough match. But let’s give him credit — he swallowed his pride and switched. Obama may not yet have the defining legislation of his presidency on his desk, but he’s already pulled off a small miracle: getting the holier-than-thou purists of his party to realize that they have to govern every now and then."

Full text of the article can be found here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/the-purists/?hp

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Listen up, especially those of you on HELP:

The Second Weirdest Ad of the Season

From the people who brought you "Demon Sheep,"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

President and Executive Branch

Saturday Night Massacre:

Signing Statements

Executive Orders and some recent examples

The Antiquities Act


House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee:

  • GAO and CBO

  • Legislative Veto and the Presentation Clause (Art I, sec. 7, clause 3): Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

The Interplay of House and Senate

Remarks by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) illustrate the complicated interplay of House and Senate. The Hill reports:

Republicans have the votes in the Senate to prevent key changes to Democrats' healthcare package, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) asserted Wednesday.

Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said House Democrats should be wary of voting for the Senate's healthcare bill under the assumption that another bill to make changes to that bill would necessarily make its way through the Senate.

Kyl suggested that the GOP would have enough votes to sustain points of order they might raise against a bill sought under budget reconciliation rules to make changes to the original health bill to win over the votes of House Democrats."There are a lot of things they want to see fixed that are going to be subject to parliamentary point of order in the Senate," Kyl said during an interview on Fox News. "And we believe we have the votes to sustain those points of order, which means that those things will come out of the legislation."

Is he right about the Senate vote count? Nobody outside the Senate can say for sure. What is clear is that he is waging psychological warfare on the House Democrats, who worry about getting BTU'd.

“Overentertained and distracted — that’s right,” - Sen. Harkin

Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, testified before the Senate education committee regarding the United States' declining educational advantage relative to other developed nations. Schleicher informed the committee that even Canada, where their 15 year olds remain a year ahead in school compared to the 15 year olds in the United States. Among the 30 OECD countries, "only New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and Mexico now have lower high school completion rates than the U.S.,” Schleicher stated.

Charles Butt, chief executive of a supermarket chain in Texas, also testified concerning employers who faced increasing difficulties in hiring qualified young workers. Although Butt's expertise remains in management and not sociology, he claimed that America's culture undervalues education, saying " “Schools are inheriting an overentertained, distracted student." Rumors are circulating among Washington interest groups that he will make an appearance in Claremont, California in coming weeks to expand on his testimony.

Senator Tom Harkin agreed with Butt's cultural criticism, contending " “Overentertained and distracted — that’s right. The problem lies with many kids before they get to school, and if we don’t crack that nut, we’re going to continue to patch and fill.” Harkin has not specified how to "crack that nut," but early childhood education programs seem to have potential.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Massa's Slippery Slope

Congressman Massa softened his take on the allegations leveled against him. In an appearance on the Glen Beck Show last night, he backed away from the position that he only made a sexual joke. Now Massa asserts that his greatest offense was to tickle a staffer, but some of his statements still fail the smell test. From a NY Times blog post on the scandal:

“Now they are saying I groped a male staffer,’’ he told Mr. Beck. “Yeah I did. Not only did I grope him. I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me. It was my 50th birthday. It was kill the old guy. You can take anything out of context... Mr. Massa, who is married, explained that he and his aides — 'all bachelors' – lived together because they could not afford Washington’s 'outrageous rents.'"

Whether more information about Massa's alleged groping and acknowledged tickle parties comes out remains to be seen, but his career is dead regardless. If Capitol Hill elements really are conspiring against Massa, his approach to this situation must delight them.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Massa: Frack you, Democrats!

Rep. Eric Massa, conservative Democrat, single-payer health care advocate, and alleged homosexual, has decided that he's not going to retire without a fight. Although he announced that he was going to step down because his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had resurged, word leaked to Politico that he was actually being investigated for sexually harassing a male staffer.

The "salty old sailor" decided he would have none of that. As one of the few Democrats to vote against the health care bill, he recently accused the Democratic Caucus of forcing his resignation in order to secure universal health care.

On a radio show, he revealed the origin of the sexual harassment ethics complaint, a table at a wedding full of male Hill staffers:
"One of them looked at me and as they would do after, I don't know, 15 gin and tonics, and goodness only knows how many bottles of champagne, a staff member made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid and his points were clear and his words were far more colorful than that," Massa said. "And I grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, ‘Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you.' And then [I] tossled the guy's hair and left, went to my room, because I knew the party was getting to a point where it wasn't right for me to be there. Now was that inappropriate of me? Absolutely. Am I guilty? Yes."
Apart from learning that Eric Massa is the final Cylon, we also learned that the staffer who filed the complaint was not actually hit on! In fact, it was a witness who felt uncomfortable and complained to House Maj. Leader Steny Hoyer! Weak sauce, man. Everybody knows that such alcohol-fueled jackanapes and repressed homosexual behavior is de rigeur on the Hill!

More importantly, though, is that Hoyer himself openly discussed a pending ethics investigation:

"Steny Hoyer has never said a single word to me at all, never, not once," Massa said. "Never before in the history of the House of Representatives has a sitting leader of the Democratic Party discussed allegations of House investigations publicly, before findings of fact. Ever."

"I was set up for this from the very, very beginning," he added. "The leadership of the Democratic Party have become exactly what they said they were running against."

Massa's rants against Rahm Emanuel, however, are the best part:

“Rahm Emanuel is son of the devil’s spawn,” he said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive.”


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Presidential Support

From CQ Weekly -- presidential support & opposition

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Obama White House and the Hill

From the NYT Magazine article that I asked you to read:
Obama’s White House is run by Rahm Emanuel, a former House leader who was generally considered to be on a fast track to the speakership before he resigned to become chief of staff, and it is teeming with aides plucked from the senior ranks of both chambers. Obama seems to think that the dysfunction in Washington isn’t only about the heightened enmity between the parties; it’s also about the longstanding mistrust between the two branches of government that stare each other down from twin peaks on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
From today's Washington Post:

Rahm Emanuel is officially a Washington caricature. He's the town's resident leviathan, a bullying, bruising White House chief of staff who is a prime target for the failings of the Obama administration.

But a contrarian narrative is emerging: Emanuel is a force of political reason within the White House and could have helped the administration avoid its current bind if the president had heeded his advice on some of the most sensitive subjects of the year: health-care reform, jobs and trying alleged terrorists in civilian courts.

It is a view propounded by lawmakers and early supporters of President Obama who are frustrated because they think the administration has gone for the perfect at the expense of the plausible. They believe Emanuel, the town's leading purveyor of four-letter words, a former Israeli army volunteer and a product of a famously argumentative family, was not aggressive enough in trying to persuade a singularly self-assured president and a coterie of true-believer advisers that "change you can believe in" is best pursued through accomplishments you can pass.

An astonishing piece of political journalism appeared in Tuesday's Washington Post. Not astonishing for the scoop or hard work it evinced, although the reporter, Jason Horowitz, is a very good one. Astonishing for how it may have gotten into the paper in the first place. For what it says about the feuds within the Obama administration. And most of all for what it tells us about how wisdom is defined in this town.

Under the headline Hotheaded Emanuel may be White House voice of reason, the article goes on at great length for a newspaper piece – maybe 1,500 words or so – describing the ways in which Emanuel, alone among the top White House brass, has his finger on the pulse of Congress and (by implication) the nation and has tried to steer Obama toward wise action. This comes on the heels of a column by Dana Milbank in the Post about 10 days ago making the same case.

Coincidence? Probably not.

The Milbank column, as I noted at the time, seemed pretty clearly to have been done with Emanuel's cooperation. Milbank has said he didn't speak to Emanuel, but obviously Emanuel's points of view on various matters could have been communicated to him through others

Monday, March 1, 2010

There Goes My Fun...

Harold Ford Jr. has dropped out of the Democratic primary for Kirsten Gillibrand's seat. Thus ends one of the worst attempted political transplants since Alan Keyes.

The Domino Effect: Bayh and Feingold

Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services under Bush, announced that he is considering challenging Russ Feingold in the 2010 senate race. IMHO, Feingold doesn't have too much to worry about (yet). He may be uber liberal, but he's generally well-liked within the state and hasn't given anyone a reason to doubt him. As long as he avoids any major missteps or scandals, Feingold is still secure in his seat. The Thompson campaign would merely be a bigger drain on the campaign budget for both parties, as Thompson is a more serious challenger than the other current Republican candidates.
This is exactly the situation that pundits were chattering about after news of Evan Bayh's retirement-- that Democrats will barely hold on to their majority and need every seat they can get to maintain it. This may be the beginning of a Domino effect, with Bayh's seat up for grabs and a potentially tougher race for another Democratic seat...will it continue?

Congress and the President I

A leftover from last week, some legislative slang:


Statements of Administration Policy

We shall see a classic video presentation of LBJ working his will on Congress. Here is an audio on the same topic. (And another.) Could you picture similar conversations with President Bush?

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