ABOUT THIS BLOG
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.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
An article published today reports that Speaker John Boehner has been dropping in the polls among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The largest drop came from Independents that demonstrated a 27 percentage point decline. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed similar results.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) appointed Congressman Dean Heller (R) to fill Sen. John Ensign's (R) Senate seat.
Hellen is already running in 2012 for a seat in the Senate.
DSCC Matt Canter comments: "As the unelected senator, Dean Heller will now be forced to explain to all Nevadans why he is working in Washington to end Medicare and cut loans for small businesses that create clean-energy jobs in Nevada. Becoming the unelected senator will come with a level of heightened scrutiny that will hurt Heller in a general election."
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
In an interview with Bonnie Gosh, Donald Trump "suggests that Barack Obama was a poor student, who didn't deserve to get into the Ivy League schools he attended."
Trump: "I heard he was a terrible student...he went to Occidental. Heard he was a terrible student."
And "Trump admitted he did not have any specific evidence proving Obama to be a bad student."
If Mr. Trump does indeed announce his intentions to run for President, he may want to refine his debate skills.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Robert A. Taft on labor law reform (Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose) :
A timeline of campaign finance reform and Wisconsin Right to Life and Citizens United
A timeline of congressional reforms.
Polarization of House and Senate.
Polarization of leaders
Friday, April 22, 2011
According to him if he won he would, "disband the Fed, like, now. … And send the IRS to prison."
He would also "inspire people to start making s— again. ... Cars, washing machines, all of it."
Maybe the Republicans in simulation were correct and Charlie Sheen is not the best person to explain policy to Congress or maybe, given his complex understanding of the problems facing America today, he's the perfect person to testify before Congress.
Embattled Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev) announced Thursday night that he wil resign from office in early May, a move that comes amid an ethics investigation into his conduct.
"While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings," Ensign said in a statement posted on his Web site. "For my family and me, this continued personal cost is simply too great."
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Choose one of the following:
1. Take any of JFK’s “profiles in courage.” Did JFK/Sorensen get the story right? How does this story illustrate similarities and differences between the Congress of its time and the Congress of 2011? In your essay, take careful account of the analyses by Connelly and Haskell.
2. Propose and defend a specific reform in the structures or procedures of Congress (including legislative-executive relations). Explain what you would accomplish with your reform. That is, drawing on what you have learned in this course, spell out the problem and tell how your reform would fix it. Use concrete information and cite credible sources. Give fair and careful consideration to counterarguments and practical obstacles.
- Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than three pages long. I will not read past the third page.
- Put your name on a cover sheet. Do not identify yourself on the text pages.
- Cite your sources. You may use either endnotes or parenthetical references to a bibliography. In either case, put your documentation in a standard format (e.g., Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style).
- Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
- Return essays by the start of class, May 4. Papers will drop a gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a letter grade after that.
You want polarization? Here's some polarization. Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.
Video and transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
The congressional oath of office dates from this era.
Background on the impeachment process.
There is an entire site on the Johnson impeachment.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Politico Article stated:
"The proposed order follows several actions by regulatory agencies that have a similar intent of making corporate and individual donations more transparent.
Last month the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a decree that could result in shareholders having more say in corporate election spending. Democratic appointees to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Election Commission are pushing measures that could make public currently anonymous contributions to outside groups."
He parodies the difference between PACs and Super PACs. Apparently, to create a Super PAC, one fills out the same form as they would to create a PAC, and then just sends a short cover letter declaring it a Super PAC.
Monday, April 18, 2011
While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that, in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as, “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterward”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable!
wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that there is a Senate of the United States; a body not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions and our government. The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South combine to throw the whole sea into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of existing dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety, for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole, and the preservation of all; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear, or shall not appear for many days. I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. "Hear me for my cause." I speak to-day, out of a solicitous and anxious heart for the restoration to the country of that quiet and harmonious harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich, and so dear to us all. These are the topics I propose to myself to discuss; these are the motives, and the sole motives, that influence me in the wish to communicate my opinions to the Senate and the country; and if I can do any thing, however little, for the promotion of thse ends, I shall have accomplished all that I expect...
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Before passing their own version of the budget resolution, House Republican leaders allowed a vote on a version by the Republican Study Committee, which contained much deeper and more unpopular cuts. Chad Pergram explains:
The House Republican braintrust assumed that a host of moderate Republicans would join nearly all Democrats to defeat the RSC’s idea. After all, if Democrats weren’t going to support the Ryan plan, they would certainly oppose the ultra-conservative budget drafted by Scott Garrett.
As the clock ticked down to 00:00 on the House scoreboard, the RSC plan was prevailing, mostly because few Democrats had even bothered to vote. Surely the RSC plan wouldn’t win, would it? Because if it did, the RSC would have short-circuited the Ryan plan and it would never even make it to the floor.
And that’s when Steny Hoyer showed his hand.
At 11:52 am, an email exploded onto BlackBerries all over Capitol Hill from the Democratic Whip Press Shop.
“We are now voting on the RSC budget. Democrats are voting present to highlight Republican divisions. By voting present, Republicans will be in a position of either passing the RSC budget, or voting against Club for Growth who is scoring this vote,” read the missive. “With Democrats voting present, Republicans are solely responsible for passage or failure of the RSC budget.”
By holding their votes until the last minute and then answering “present,” Democrats were driving down the total necessary to approve the resolution. In fact this tactic would drop the total WELL below 217. That’s because present votes don’t count against the final vote tally. In addition, the gambit of Democrats voting present hampered the GOP, which ironically, NEEDED Democrats to vote no against the RSC just to lug the Ryan budget to the floor.
First 12 Democratic present votes rolled in. It ballooned to 40 a minute later. Then the figure exploded all the way up to 152 in a matter of seconds.
Pandemonium erupted on the floor. You could almost hear Admiral Ackbar from Return of the Jedi declare “It’s a trap!”
The number of Democratic present votes continued to swell. Now the scramble was on. Could Republicans persuade some its members to switch their votes from yes to no before Democrats could get those who voted no to alter their votes to present?At least nine Republicans switched their votes, including House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) and the husband-and-wife tandem of Reps. Connie Mack (R-FL) & Mary Bono Mack (R-CA).
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Iraq War Resolution
- House committee
- Senate committee
- Members do NOT need security clearances
- The community
- Intelligence budget
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Republican budget bill also called for cutting a type of popular transportation grant. Since the cut was proposed, there has been an apparent rush to get work going on projects financed by the grants to keep them from being ended by any budget-cutting deal agreed to by the two parties and the White House. Consider the case of the Memorial Bridge, which stretches over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Me. The aging bridge, in ill repair, was set to receive $20 million in transportation grants.
But Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Representative Frank Guinta of New Hampshire — all Republicans who voted for the Republican spending-cut bill that slashed the grant program — worked to ensure that the bridge project would receive the financing, according to staff members from several of their offices.
The late ‘90s were a boom time like few others -- and not just in America. The unemployment rate was less than 6 percent in 1995, and fell to under 5 percent in 1996.
Deficits should be low to nonexistent when the economy is strong, and larger when it is weak. The Obama administration’s economists know that full well.While it's a long way out, if the economy does not recover by November of next year, will this kill the Democrats' chances in the 2012 election?
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Last night, with two hours to spare, the Federal shutdown was avoided. From the New York Times:
Congressional leaders and President Obama headed off a shutdown of the government with less than two hours to spare Friday night under a tentative budget deal that would cut $38 billion from federal spending this year.
Although compromise has been reached, Congress did not pass this compromise as a budget bill.
Because of the need to put the compromise into legislative form, Congressional leaders said the House and Senate would vote overnight to pass a stopgap measure financing the government through Thursday to prevent any break in the flow of federal dollars. The actual budget compromise would be considered sometime next week.
Looks like the government will endure, albeit still on a continuing revolution until next week.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Nancy Pelosi took the stage at Cohen Auditorium on the Tufts campus Friday afternoon with the federal budget in gridlock in Washington.
"Minute to minute, hour to hour, we're getting reports," Pelosi said. "As long as we don't have to take something to the floor, I can be with you right now."
Before leaving the stage, Pelosi was presented with some Red Sox apparel for her grandchildren and a stuffed Tufts Jumbos elephant.
"RSOL is not just a lobby group. The primary purpose of RSOL is to influence public opinion about the growing national hysteria concerning sex offenders and deviant sexual behavior. Specific strategies include promoting research, publishing articles and writing letters to the editor to demand that real protection of children from sexual harm be couple with civil liberties for all people concerned, including alleged sex offenders. We also support changing or amending existing laws that violate the rights of offenders and do nothing to protect children, especially those that humiliate and shame offenders, those that criminalize consensual sex among adolescents and young adults, those that restrict the residences and employment of offenders, and those that continue to incarcerate offenders who have completed their sentences under so-called civil commitment. We ure our state groups to propose such amendments, and also to oppose new, draconian legislation."
Here's another one, although they seem to operate at the state level.
"A statement released by Newt Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler...reports that the former House speaker would announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee on Thursday in Georgia...poised to become the first major Republican candidate to make a formal move into the 2012 race."
So far "potential candidates [have been] traveling to early voting states and eyeing each other cautiously, while not yet officially launching their campaigns. Several other serious contenders for the Republican nomination still appear to be weeks, if not months, away from making their own decisions."
-"Being the first candidate to announce...generate[s] a lot of buzz" (Tim Albrecht, the communications director for Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad)
-Causes a domino effect, and other contenders formally enter the race before they may have wanted.
-More time to utilize "grassroots politics" and gather supporters
-Make oneself prematurely vulnerable to political attacks from rivals
-Burn through "precious financial resources almost a year before the first votes are cast"
"If Gingrich does indeed take the plunge, his every utterance will be parsed," and with "a reputation for generating controversy through off-the-cuff comments, the former speaker will have to be more careful than ever in avoiding self-inflicted wounds as he transitions from the contemplative stage to an active campaign."
Personally, I think this one is my favorite: Good ol' Ike
Nixon's 1968 campaign video takes on a slightly different tone...
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The best explanation of campaign fundraising in the history of film:
Frogs do it:
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Jason Ryan and Huma Khan of ABC News report that five Sept. 11 suspects, including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators, will be tried by military commission at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration made it clear that this was not its first choice of action for trying the case.
Attorney General Eric Holder "placed the blame squarely on Congress creating conditions where the Department of Justice cannot try them in a federal court," according to the ABC News reporters. Holder went on to say that their Congress's decision would gravely impact U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts.
Congress "tied our hands in a away that could have serious ramifications," said Holder. "In reality, I know this case in a way that members of Congress do not. Do I know better than them? Yes."
Our simulation raised some questions about Congress ceding power to the executive, and Holder's comments point to a distinct point about the ways in which Congress can limit the power of the executive. By refusing to appropriate funds to hold Guantanamo inmates on the mainland or cover the expenses of the trial, Congress was able to force the Obama administration's hand on the trials of military detainees.
(Photo credit: RyanJReilly)
1) The economy is still in bad shape, and unemployment is higher than before he took office
2) Domestic defense (heaven forbid there should be another terrorist attack)
3) Foreign policy (Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan)
4) Swing States - Obama narrowly won Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Indiana in 2008, totaling 73 electoral votes
5) "A person can only be fresh once" - will the Democrats be able to rally behind Obama even though he did not deliver all of the "change" he promised?
Sunday, April 3, 2011
- From Bardella himself: [R]eporters e-mail me saying, “Hey, I’m writing this story on this thing. Do you think you guys might want to investigate it? If so, if you get some documents, can you give them to me?” I’m, like, “You guys are going to write that we’re the ones wanting to do all the investigating, but you guys are literally the ones trying to egg us on to do that!”
- "This is a place that, for better or worse, does recognize self-promotion," Bardella said. "It's about winning the daily news cycle and learning to navigate the new media world. Your priorities do become a little distorted, and you lose sight of who you are rather than what you're trying to portray."
- “Kurt has had danger signs,” said a House Republican aide who refused to be named to avoid dragging other members into the storm. “If you had said, ‘X press secretary did this,’ Kurt would have been eight out of 10 people’s guess.”
Advise and Consent (1962) had echoes of the Hiss-Chambers case.
The real-life hearing:
In 1998, so did Warren Beatty in Bulworth:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
3. Peer evaluation: This Monday, April 4, please bring in a short memo in which you identify three or four members of this class who did a particularly good job. Give a couple of sentences to each person you name, explaining why she or he stood out. Give special attention to those who did their work behind the scenes. Please take some care with these memos. In addition to using them for evaluating the assignment, I save them so that I may quote them in letters of recommendation. Evaluations are anonymous: do not put your own name on the sheet.
4 Writeup: In analyzing your role in the simulation, please cover these points:
- How well did your positions and goals match those of your real-life counterpart?
- What methods did you use? In the circumstance that you dealt with, would your counterpart have done the same?
- What obstacles did you face?
- What did you achieve?
- How did the simulation both resemble and differ from the real world?
- Overall, what did you learn?
You may attach or e-mail me relevant supporting materials, such as: memoranda, bill drafts, or strategy notes. (Better yet, refer to material that is already online at https://sites.google.com/site/congresssimulation2011/home and other sites) Please be selective here: do not include everything, just the key items.
- Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and between 5 and 6 pages long. I will not read past the 6th page. (Supporting materials do not count against the page limit.)
- Cite outside sources in standard format (e.g.,Turabian).
- Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
- Return essays to class on Wednesday, April 13. Your grade for the simulation will drop one gradepoint for one day's lateness, a full grade after that.
Just as I predicted, my House Rep. Martin Heinrich has announced that he will run to replace Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2012. I have long thought that Heinrich was a rising star in New Mexico. Even back when Heinrich was just a member of the Albuquerque City Council running for Congress, I predicted that he would be next in line for the Senate whenever Bingaman chose to retire. He won a close reelection in 2010, going against the national wave that knocked out many of his fellow freshman Democrats in close districts.
We will see what happens in 2012. I think Heinrich is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. The general election will likely be close between him and former Rep. Heather Wilson. This Senate race will be one to keep an eye on.
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