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, May 4, 2011

Putting It All Together

  • Two political branches: Presidency & Congress
  • Two chambers: House & Senate
  • Two orientations: "right eye" & "left eye"-- all politics is local v. all politics is national
  • Two kinds of party: government & opposition
  • Ideological and material interests overlap
  • Means of influence:
  1. Electoral campaigns
  2. Grassroots lobbying
  3. Inside lobbying
  • Ideas about culture and human nature
  • Ideas about economics
  • Ideas about process: Progressive reforms
  • The thinkers: Madison and Wilson
  • The policy guys
  • The leaders

Monday, May 2, 2011

Levin: "They have a lot of explaining to do."

Bin Laden's "hideout" in Abbottabad, Pakistan -- National Geographic

Since the new of his death broke last night, some members of Congress have wondered aloud about the possibility that Osama bin Laden received protection from the Pakistani military.

Senator Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested to reporters this morning that he thought the Pakistani military was aware that bin Laden was in Abbottabad—a town that serves as a garrison for Pakistani soldiers. Politico reports that Senators Collins and Lieberman, both of the SASC, joined Levin in raising such concerns.

Collins said that it was ‘very difficult’ for her to understand how bin Laden’s compound did not raise suspicions among Pakistani officials, noting that there were no phone or Internet lines attached to the residence, the waste was incinerated and that there was barbed wire surrounding the unit.

Because Congress appropriates foreign aid to Pakistan, including funding for anti-terror operations, these questions are appropriate. According to an article by National Geographic, the town of 120,000 is home to thousands of stationed Pakistani troops.

Senator Levin said this morning: “They have a lot of explaining to do.”

Blackhawk Down 2.0 Averted

Politico published a story online today detailing the elite task force's mission as the President watched from the Capital.

The helicopter carrying Navy SEALs malfunctioned as it approached Osama bin Laden’s compound at about 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, stalling as it hovered. The pilot set it down gently inside the walls, then couldn’t get it going again.

It was a heart-stopping moment for President Barack Obama, who had been monitoring the raid in the White House Situation Room, surrounded by members of his war cabinet.

“Obviously, everyone was thinking about Black Hawk Down and Desert One,” a senior administration official recalled.

The SEALs disembarked.

“The assault team went ahead and raided the compound, even though they didn’t know if they would have a ride home,” an official said.

The special forces put bombs on the crippled chopper and blew it up, then lifted off in a reinforcement craft just before 4:15 p.m., capping an astounding 40 minutes that gave the United States a tectonic victory in the 10-year war on terror touched off by 9/11.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54093.html#ixzz1LELadRxJ

Contemporary Congressional History

Senate Leaders

Housequake 2006

CMCers Celebrate in D.C.

In continuing the mass coverage of Osama bin Laden news, I wrote up a little piece on the Port Side covering some CMC students in the D.C. Program (Tom Boerigter and Congress class alums Kayla Benker and Alyssa Roberts) celebrating outside the White House last night.

They got some good pictures and video of the celebration.

Congress and Bin Laden

The operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden's death is a good example of a way in which the executive can quickly take action to address a national security threat without consulting Congress. As we've discussed in class, this power is a virtue when a threat requires a swift, unified response, but Members of Congress often complain that they wish they had more oversight when the action proves unpopular or commits American troops to a longer engagement.

Members of Congress were not consulted before Obama ordered the operation, and were informed of the operation's success only after.

According to NPR (listen in at about 1:58), the President, Vice President and Director of the National Terrorism Center called the leadership of both chambers as well as members of the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees in the hour before the President's address around 11:30 pm on Sunday evening.

Marco Rubio Claims he will not Run as VP in 2012

In an appearance on Meet the Press, Marco Rubio said that he wound not be on a 2012 ticket as Vice President under any circumstances. He said, "I want to be a senator and I want to be a senator from Florida." Given the lack of exciting candidates from the Republican Party and Obama's recent success in capturing Osama Bin Laden, this may not be a bad move for Marco. Then again, maybe someone will be able to convince him to change his mind.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden Hideout

Nicholas Jackson of The Atlantic released information identifying the location of Osama bin Laden's compound, a mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 80 miles north of Islamabad.

Bin Laden is Dead

By this point most of you have probably seen the news reports about the President's upcoming address to announce Bin Laden's death. What I find interesting is that the story was largely broken through twitter; actual news sources were a good 10-15 minutes later. It makes me wonder if the appearance of the news first on twitter was intentional or an accident. CNN's website cites "Congressional and administration officials" as sources, which makes me think Congress was briefed at least slightly in advance. We will probably never know, but it would be interesting to find out how much of the way the information was released was deliberate and how much is a result of Congress being unable to keep a secret. It will also be interesting to see what effect the news has on Obama's approval ratings and his political capital when dealing with the Republicans in the House.

Since I first posted, I found this article that offers a little bit more detail about the way the news spread. The BBC also has an interesting piece on the role of twitter in breaking the news.