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, February 24, 2010

Nuclear Option?

Apparently Republicans (including Orrin Hatch...woo!) are trying to make people think reconciliation is the same as the nuclear option. This clip also shows some of the procedural flip-flopping we were discussing today in class (Republicans getting mad at Democrats for using reconciliation; the opposite happening historically):

Joshua "Lemon" Lyman

This is one of my favorite clips from the West Wing, and it hits most of the points we've made while dealing with how the White House can influence Congress. For those unfamiliar with the show, Josh Lyman is the Deputy Chief of Staff (and is modeled after Rahm Emanuel), whipping votes for a gun control bill.

Family Guy

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Simulation Prep: Obama on NCLB

As we prepare for the simulation, let's start thinking about how Republicans on the HELP committee can oppose the administration's goals for the overhaul of No Child Left Behind.

Despite lacking policy details, this New York Times article outlines Obama's recommendation to
require states to adopt “college- and career-ready standards” in reading and math to qualify for federal money from a $14 billion program that concentrates on impoverished students.

Monday, February 22, 2010

CMC Sim Roles

For simulation purposes, we have added some senators who do not sit on the actual committee. Note also that there are two Lamar Alexanders: both will vote in committee and on the floor. We refer to such roles as "doppelgangers."

Environment and Public Works

Issue: climate change.

James M. Inhofe (OK) -- Andrew Grimm
George V. Voinovich (OH) -Cori Williams
David Vitter (LA) -- Dan Andrew
John Barrasso (WY) -- Nick Ostreim
Mike Crapo (ID) -- Heath Hyatt
Christopher S. Bond (MO) -- Will Kahn
Lamar Alexander (TN) -- Kevin Shuai
Mitch McConnell (KY)* -- Nirant Gupta
Olympia Snowe (ME)* -- Emily Meinhardt

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Issue: No Child Left Behind.

Michael B. Enzi (WY) -- Mark Munro
Judd Gregg (NH)-- Nelson Gil
Lamar Alexander (TN) -- Tina Nguyen
Richard Burr (NC) -- Maxwell Morris
Johnny Isakson (GA) -- Jacinth Sohi
John McCain (AZ) -- Rory Baird
Orrin G. Hatch (UT) -- Kayla Benker
Lisa Murkowski (AK) -- Michelle Kahn
Tom Coburn, M.D. (OK) -- Trevor Beltz
Pat Roberts (KS) -- Alyssa Roberts

Scott Brown is planning to vote for the Democrat Jobs Bill. Probably prudent in Massachusetts, but may take away from his position as Republican Godhead.

Helpful Table about President's Health Care Proposal in Comparison to the House and Senate Bills



Forms of legislation

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Climate News

The Washington Post reports:

Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and several other coal-state Democrats sent a bluntly worded letter to Environment Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson Friday night challenging the agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants and other industrial sources.

The Rockefeller letter--which was also signed by Democratic senators Mark Begich (Alaska), Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Pat Casey (Pa.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Carl Levin (Mich.), and Max Baucus (Mont.)--poses a serious challenge for the Obama administration. While the administration is still pushing for Congress to pass a climate bill this year, it has not ruled out controlling greenhouse gases through regulation.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is the public option back from the dead?

Senator Bennet, who was appointed to fill Colorado's senate seat and is facing a primary challenge from former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, is leading an effort to pass the public option through reconciliation. He sent the following letter to Harry Reid:

We respectfully ask that you bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.

There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach - its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.

So far, at least 17 senators have signed onto the letter including Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein. Bennet is also gathering signatures at savethepublicoption.com and has started a facebook group.

While he was iffy on his stance on the public option over the summer, Bennet took a strong stance in November when he said he'd lose his seat to support health care reform:

The Denver Post has already criticized Bennet's push for reconciliation, despite strong support for the public option in Colorado. Earlier this month, Representative Jared Polis from Boulder, CO sent a similar letter to Harry Reid along with 120 members of the House.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Legislative Research

Bill Drafting


Do They Read The Bills? No.

Simulation Roles

For simulation purposes, we have added some senators who do not sit on the actual committee. Note also that there are two Lamar Alexanders: both will vote in committee and on the floor. We refer to such roles as "doppelgangers."

Environment and Public Works

Issue: climate change.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lobbying the Black Caucus, Legally

The NY Times has published a long, analytical piece explaining how the Black Caucus has "taken advantage of political finance laws" to amass large sums of money from corporations and labor unions. By donating not to the caucus' PAC but to its network of associated non-profits and charities, interest groups have garnered much political clout masked in philanthropy.

Interestingly, the caucus has spent more money on fancy galas, during which "lobbyists and executives who give to caucus charities get to mingle with lawmakers," than on scholarships for African-American children and young adults.

The article goes into extensive detail about specific interactions between caucus members and corporations. It is worth reading; it supplements our readings about campaign finance and primes our discussion on Congress and interest groups.

Congressional Committees

Committee List

Senate Committee Jurisdictions

Investigative Hearing on Walter Reed

Ledbetter Hearing


Reactions to Evan Bayh's Retirement

Politco's Arena section has a great range of responses to Sen. Evan Bayh's retirement. The bottom line? Everyone's surprised and all agree this means Dems are one step closer to losing their majority in the 2010 election.

My favorite reaction:

Martin Frost Attorney, former Democratic congressman :

re Evan Bayh:

The sky is officially falling.

How Harry Reid - and Democrats - Might Avoid Losing

Politico reports that Harry Reid may have a third party challenger: a group calling themselves the Tea Partiers have qualified for the November ballot in Nevada and are close to nominating a candidate for US Senate.

Right now Reid is trailing any of three GOP challengers by about 10 points, garnering slightly more than 40% of the vote. Until this morning, I would have bet large sums of money that he would lose his seat.

But if the Tea Party challenger and the GOP challenger split the conservative vote, Harry Reid can win. If Tea Partiers put up third party candidates in a handful of close races, Democrats could stave off disaster.

EDIT: just saw that Evan Bayh is retiring. Interesting considering that he was crushing opponents in polls, but he's pretty fed up with Congress. So that's another Democratic seat that, like North Dakota, is probably flipping with the incumbent out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The sad decline of the Kennedy Family

HEYO. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of the late Teddy, has announced that he will not seek reelection and will retire at the end of the year.

According to Politico, a number of factors added up to this decision, including his drunk driving problems, his father's death, Scott Brown's election, and a strong Republican contender. Possibly taking his seat for the Dems? Providence mayor Buddy Cianci, who just got out of a five-year stint in federal prison for a corruption conviction. Oddly enough, a Mafia figure is probably more fitting for Rhode Island than a Kennedy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DeVore on Glenn Beck

Chuck DeDovre appeared on Glenn Beck's show on Monday night. Interesting interview with a short constitutional lesson...

Limits of the Party Identification Variable

As you finish your papers, ponder the limits of party identification in polling. An individual's party affiliation is a good predictor of her or his vote, but statewide party identification sometimes produces anomalies. Stuart Rothenberg explains:
Gallup found self-identification in South Carolina at 42.8 percent Democratic and 42.3 percent Republican, for a Democratic advantage of one-half of 1 point. That makes the Palmetto State “competitive” according to Gallup’s system of classification.

That may indeed be the way people in South Carolina identify themselves by party, but it isn’t the way they vote. The state has two GOP Senators, a Republican governor and four Republican Congressmen, compared with two Democrats. The last Democratic nominee for president to carry the state was Jimmy Carter in 1976 (before most of the South had realigned), and in 2008, Republicans won large majorities in both chambers of the South Carolina Legislature.
The moral is that party identification may be a lagging indicator. In South Carolina, many older white voters may still think of themselves as Democrats even though they often vote Republican. So in judging a state's leanings, look at election results, not just poll data.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Interesting article from FoxNews about the 2010 election and the "anti-Washington" sentiment that voters are feeling.

...As Americans look ahead to the mid-term elections, anything new is preferable to anything old, -- such as an incumbent. And despite recent Republican wins in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey, this is not necessarily good news for Republicans.

Americans dispense just about as much disdain for Republicans (42 percent favorable; 46 percent unfavorable) as Democrats (42 percent favorable; 48 percent unfavorable), according to a Fox News poll released Friday.

The real dynamic seems to be a revolt against insiders -- as voters say they would choose a challenger over an incumbent by a two-to-one margin (38 percent to 19 percent)...

Link to full article...

Campaign Finance and Home Style

Campaign Finance Limits

How not to do a town hall: admit that your staff reads the bills for you so that you can pass huge legislation very fast.

Constituents may bring up issues that sound boring, narrow, or technical -- but those issues are important to somebody, so a lawmaker better take them seriously.

Senator Jon Tester posts his daily schedule.

Tweets on Demon Sheep

A post on the conservative FrumForum blog highlights a series of tweets by a Campbell political consultant on Fiorina's Demon Sheep ad. Anyone else think they're unprofessional and petty?:

100% of the people I know who have watched @CarlyforCA’s video have laughed out loud.

And no, Carly, we’re not laughing with you. We’re laughing at you.

SFist: ‘Tom Cambpell must be thrilled right about now.’ http://bit.ly/c5rIUm

The last time a campaign put demon eyes in a commercial, it lost by 13 points.

#DemonSheep is proof-positive the adage ‘all attention is good attention’ has never been true. /via @NathanWurtzel

‘It is now Campbell’s web-savvy campaign that is attempting to use the ad to raise money for his Senate run.’ http://bit.ly/b8vjtP

How’d ‘all publicity is good publicity’ work out for John Edwards?

So anyone think @CarlyforCA’s chances went up in the last 24 hours?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The "Naked Guy In A Truck"'s online strategy

Interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle about Scott Brown's web campaign strategy: taking the Obama model and "putting it on steroids." Notably, the campaign decided to use the web not as a platform to win over undecided voters, but to mobilize the supporters they already had:

...With an initial budget of just $1 million for the entire campaign, "they wouldn't win via a TV ad blitz."

But Brown had a different kind of capital. "Scott had [already] invested in online media," Luidhardt says. "He had about 4,000 Facebook fans and a decent-sized e-mail list already."

That was the foundation. "We made a conscious effort to focus on building up his social media following and the 'Brown Brigade,' a new social networking organization," Luidhardt says. The Brown Brigade was created on the Ning social network platform, which provided a key way for volunteers to come together, coordinate and organize, entirely on their own.

The campaign Web site was designed for these kinds of people, those already favorably disposed toward Brown, and for the purpose of turning favorability into footwork. "We didn't try to explain the policy positions or try to win over undecided voters. It was about building up the online supporters," Luidhardt says.

Other interesting tactics: Brown would personally reply to every tweeted message his followers sent, even writing happy birthday messages to his Facebook friends.

GOP is Recruiting Newcomers for the House

Republicans are looking for people with no political experience to run on the "anti establishment" wave.

If you are still looking for a paper topic there are some names in here you might consider...


Friday, February 5, 2010

Demographics and Congressional Elections

There is an important new National Journal article that we shall discuss on Monday. See excerpt below. For full text, click here.
Generally, the greater the district's nonwhite population and the higher the education level of its white residents, the more likely it is to be represented in the House by a Democrat. In contrast, the analysis found, the whiter the district and the lower its number of white college graduates, the more likely it is to elect a Republican...
In the struggle for House control, the two parties thus face tests with contrasting timeframes. As racial minorities and better-educated whites, or both, become a larger share of the population in more districts, the long-run challenge for Republicans is to compete across a demographically broader range of districts than they do now. Democrats face a more immediate trial: Avoiding a repeat of the huge wave, particularly among working-class whites, that carried Republicans to control of the House in 1994. The increase in the number of high-minority and well-educated districts provides House Democrats defenses that they lacked back then. But if the tide of white working-class discontent reaches high enough or spills over to include enough upscale white voters, even those levees may not protect the House majority that Democrats labored so long to recapture.

(Note that the research associate for this article is Cameron Joseph, CMC `08, who wrote his senior thesis on the South and the GOP.)

Demonsheep Update

From the San Jose Mercury News:

If all press is good press, Carly Fiorina's bizarre campaign video depicting her opponent as a red-eyed demon sheep is a blockbuster hit.

If widespread mockery matters, the joke may be on Fiorina.

Whatever the case, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO's 31/2-minute Web video attacking Tom Campbell in the Republican Senate primary has gone viral, drawing more than 191,949 views on YouTube, rising to the top of Twitter topics and spurring commentary on dozens of political news sites

The Demonsheep ad has inspired yet another YouTube remix of Der Untergang:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Weirdest Ad of the Season (So Far)

Demand Question Time

A politically diverse group of bloggers, commentators, techies and politicos on Wednesday will launch an online campaign urging the President to hold more question time like sessions with Congress.

The group's website, DemandQuestionTime.com, launched this morning and as of the writing of this post has 2571 petition signatures.

A few interesting things: perhaps this could save the President's agenda. Nate Silver, who runs 538, has done considerable analysis on the Democratic Party's messaging strategy particularly as it pertains to health care. He argues that public opinion is souring, at least in part, because the public doesn't know what's in the bill. He creates a nice table:

The President, at his question time with House Republicans in Baltimore, told the GOP to stop crying "Commie" and instead look at the actual legislation, hoping to shrink the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. However, as long as the pinko message is working, it's hard to imagine why the GOP would.

But question time could bring a new age of political discourse, where the President can use his personal touch and debating skill to rewarm the public. Rather than have each side spout talking points, you could have a legitimate debate (was anyone else super excited when the West Wing did the Santos/Vinick "real" debate)?

This could help members of Congress. Nobody watches floor speeches or committee debates, and I'm certain few would watch Presidential question time. But certainly more would, and face time with the President, arguing the merits or follies of policy, would increase visibility. Imagine if after "you lie" the President and Rep. Wilson had a brief chat about covering illegals. It would have boosted the President's bipartisan and personal credentials while elevating Rep. Wilson to equal footing with POTUS. It also might have cleared up confusion about the President's policies.

The Demand Question Time folks say it best:
We live in a world that increasingly demands more dialogue than monologue.

At the conclusion of my writing, the website has 2683 "signatures." Oh, the age of Web 2.0.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Updated Information on Parties

Gallup has new data on state-level party identification:

In total, 23 states plus the District of Columbia can be classified as solidly Democratic, with a 10 percentage-point or greater advantage in party affiliation in favor of the Democrats. This includes most of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, most of the Great Lakes region, and the Pacific Coast.

Another 10 states can be considered Democratic leaning, in which the state's Democratic supporters outnumber Republican supporters by at least 5 percentage points but less than 10 points. These are Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Four states are solidly Republican, with a better than 10-point advantage in Republican affiliation -- Wyoming, Utah, Alaska, and Idaho. Alabama qualifies as the lone Republican-leaning state, with a 6-point advantage in Republican affiliation.

That leaves 12 states that are competitive, with less than a 5-point advantage for either party. Among these 13 states, 6 tilt in a Republican direction: Montana, Nebraska, Mississippi, Texas, North Dakota, and Kansas. Six tilt toward the Democratic Party: Georgia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A late post, but the imagery in the Republican response to this year's SOTU was too fun to ignore. McDonnell addressed a group in the Virginia Capitol to create the illusion of speaking before Congress. That those gathered are almost entirely McDonnell supporters gives an amusing rally-like vibe in an event posing as a serious attempt at statesmanship.

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