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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

House of Nitpicks

If you have not seen the first two episodes of Season 3, read no further.  If you have, click this link to find out why the story involves a legal impossibility.  Some background on the law here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Senate Procedure for Props on the Floor

Today, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma brought a snowball to the Senate floor to make a point as he argued against climate change. Inhofe is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He said, "we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record. I ask the Chair, do you know what this is? It's a snowball--just from outside here. So it's very, very cold out."

The purpose of Inhofe's demonstration was to prove his belief that human activity is not causing global warming. Senate procedure requires a unanimous vote for the use of a prop on the floor, which was granted to him retroactively.

Full video here

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Process IV


Filibuster and Cloture (graph and explanation here)

Famous Filibusters:

The Senate’s standing committees play an essential part in the legislative process, as they select the small percentage of the bills introduced each Congress that, in their judgment, deserve the attention of the Senate as a whole, and as they recommend amendments to these bills based on their expert knowledge and experience. Most bills are routinely referred to the committee with appropriate jurisdiction as soon as they are introduced. However, paragraph 4 of Rule XIV permits a Senator to bypass a committee referral and have the bill placed directly on the Calendar of Business, with exactly the same formal status the bill would have if it had been considered and reported by a Senate committee. 

Restrictive rules in the House


Divided government has been common. Split-party control of Congress has not.

Legislative productivity
Another view of productivity

But is the country suffering as a result?

Boehner on DHS: House Has "Done Its Job," "Waiting for Senate"

In a press conference Wedensday, John Boehner said he is waiting for Senate "pass a bill," implying GOP Senators should act first in the Department of Homeland Security impasse. Nevertheless, he specifically called out Senate Democrats in their efforts to filibuster the bill in the Senate due to its .

Senate moved forward with bill, after Democrats ceased their filibuster. The had previously objected to provisions in the funding bill designed to curb President Obama's immigration order. The Senate passed a "clean" bill today (an "engrossed bill) 98-2.

In moving the bill forward, Sen. Cruz promises not to sandbag, as he believes small delays will not make a difference in the GOP leadership's "fatally flawed" strategy. 

House GOP, in "wait and see mode," still appear divided on the issue, with more conservative members deeply concerned over DHS implementation of Obama's immigration orders. At any rate, Boehner will likely need help from House Democrats in order to pass the Senate's engrossed bill in the House as dissension in the House GOP ranks continues.    

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Real Life Filibuster

CMC alum Sahil Kapur reports at Talking Points Memo:
The fourth time wasn't the charm for Republicans.

On Monday, Senate Democrats again blocked House-passed legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security on the condition that President Barack Obama reverses his executive actions on immigration. They had filibustered the same bill three times in three consecutive daysearlier this month.
The vote was 47 in favor, 46 against, short of the 60 needed to defeat a filibuster.
Anxieties are growing on Capitol Hill, with less than five left before DHS faces a partial shutdown on Friday and no clear path to avoiding it.
"I'm very disappointed," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "at the political ploy used by congressional Republican leadership to force a shutdown of Homeland Security."
The next steps are unclear. Democrats remain unified against any DHS bill that stops Obama's immigration actions, while Republican leaders have shown no signs of backing off their demands.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the vote Monday the "first opportunity for Democrats to show where they stand after a federal judge preliminarily enjoined the Administration from moving ahead with actions President Obama himself referred to as ‘ignoring the law.’"
He didn't offer any hints about the way forward, although he switched his vote to "no" at the end to preserve his option to bring up the bill again.

Process III

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 Simulation Roles

Foreign Relations Republicans

Bob Corker, TN, chair:  Charlie Montgomery
Marco Rubio, FL: Chloe Zagrodzky
Ron Johnson, WI: Harry Arnold
Jeff Flake, AZ: Eddie Villa
Rand Paul, KY:  Ian O'Grady

Foreign Relations Democrats

Bob Menendez, NJ, ranking: Kayla Nonn
Barbara Boxer, CA: Victor Lopez
Jeanne Shaheen, NH: Kyra McAndrews
Tim Kaine, VA:  Meredith Cockerham

Commerce Republicans

John Thune, SD, chair:  Miles Wilson
Roy Blunt, MO:  Joe Hylton
Kelly Ayotte, NH: Christina Coffin
Deb Fischer, NE: Kevin Covarrubias
Ted Cruz, TX:  Kosta Psaltis
Mitch McConnell, KY*:  Sho Kajima

Commerce Democrats

Bill Nelson, FL, ranking:  James Gordon
Maria Cantwell, WA:  Annie Hwang
Claire McCaskill, MO: Maddie Stein
Amy Klobuchar, MN: Sloan Caldwell
Harry Reid, NV*:  Nadeem Farooqi

*Added for simulation purposes

Process II

The committee system

Formal Process

Jeb Harvesting Endorsements through PAC?

Potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush's "Right to Rise" PAC has already begun making contributions. Last week, money went to Senators and Representative who will face a tough relection in 2016, such as Sen. Portman fromOhio and Rep. McSally from Arizona. Right to Rise also gave money to state Republican parties in states with early Republican presidential primaries, like New Hampshire. 

Although the PAC's activities have drawn public attention, the contributions totaled only $100,000--a small sum compared to the money spent in 2014. Nevertheless, a few thousand dollars is substantial this early in the cycle. Reports have indicated that the group hopes to raise $100 million by April 2015.

Jeb presides as the PAC’s honorary chairman, but he would have to step down if he were to run for president. Until then, he looks forward to supporting fellow Republicans: 

“I'm proud to support great conservative candidates who are committed to renewing America's promise by expanding opportunity and igniting upward mobility in our country...In the coming months, our PAC will continue to support conservative candidates and conservative policies that will ensure all Americans have the right to rise.”

Monday, February 16, 2015

Process I

Bill Drafting
The Name Game

A recent example: The QUIET Act

Do They Read The Bills? No.  John Conyers:

The fiscal cliff -- search for "algae"
The committee system

Research Assignment

Pick any bill from the 112th or 113th Congresses.  Explain its fate.
    Instead of giving a mere chronology, tell why the measure moved or stalled. What happened to previous versions? Which groups or blocs backed and fought it? Which strategies and tactics did its friends and foes use? Even if it failed or stalled, did it prompt the passage of a similar measure in a different form? Look at parliamentary strategies, major amendments, and roll calls.

    Get background from a source such as Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, where you may find the partisan breakdown of roll-call votes. (Use the hardcopy or the online version at http://library.cqpress.com).   You may also find a key-votes database at The Washington Post.

    Other possible sources include:
    Again, you should explain the outcome, not just describe the process.
    • Essays should be typed, stapled, double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
    • 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 to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Friday, March 6. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

    Sunday, February 15, 2015

    Problems at the CRS

    At The Washington Monthly, Kevin S. Kosar explains why he quit the Congressional Research Service:
    That environment changed abruptly in 2006. That year, Louis Fisher made comments to a reporter about the limitations of the whistle-blower protection law. It ought to have been a shrug-worthy comment, especially as the facts indicated that agencies defeated whistle-blowers in court almost every time. But someone in Congress took offense and complained. A media circus ensued, and the Internet lit up with anger. In the end, the agency transferred Fisher out of his job and into another agency within the Library of Congress. We had lost a valuable and productive colleague. Congressional requests that would have gone to him were routed to others at the CRS with much less experience.
    The CRS’s blood was in the water, and more attacks came. Many of us were particularly shocked when Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra, then chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, rebuked the agency. A CRS expert had written a confidential memorandum on wiretapping, concluding that the executive branch probably had not given Congress as much notification as the law required. Hoekstra told the CRS that it had no business writing about the topic. It was remarkable: the CRS’s expert had warned Congress that the executive branch might be taking advantage of the legislature, and a powerful member of Congress had essentially replied, “Shut up.”
    Agency management found this new operating environment both bewildering and a bit terrifying. The CRS gets all of its funding from Congress, and management had not forgotten that a decade earlier Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, had slashed the budget of the Government Accountability Office and abolished the Office of Technology Assessment. The CRS clamped down on its analysts talking to the media, and forbade the distribution of CRS reports to anyone who was not a member of Congress or an employee of the legislature.
    The crackdown had a large effect on CRS researchers. The job I had signed up for permitted and even encouraged publishing for an audience beyond Congress. In the new environment, outside writing by CRS analysts on public affairs became rare. Outside publications would not get you promoted and became a needless peril. Endlessly we were warned by management to avoid writing anything that might be perceived by someone somewhere as partisan or biased. Increasingly, I devoted my freelancing to uncontroversial, non-governance subjects like the history of whiskey.

    Simulation Committees

    Here is a tentative proposal for simulation.  We shall have two committees:

    Foreign Relations (membership roster here), which will deal with Cuba, Ukraine, and the authorization of military force against the Islamic State, among others.

    Commerce, Science, and Transportation (membership roster here), which will deal with cybersecurity, internet regulation, science, space, and competitiveness, among others.

    We will also have a Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid.

    You will notice that there are more roles than students in the class.  We shall fill out our ranks with some students from Gov 115, simulation alumni, and volunteers from the Claremont Colleges.

    This plan is subject to change, and if you have suggestions, please let me know.

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Party Discipline

    Here is a followup to Chloe's post.  The process for choosing subcommittee chair is in the rules of the party conference (or caucus, when the Democrats are in the majority), not the rules of the House. (see pp. 169-170 of Davidson).  Here is an excerpt from Rule 19 of the Republican Conference:
    Rule 19—Election of Subcommittee Chairmen
    (a) In General.—
    (1) In accordance with Rule 15, the method for the selection of Chairmen of the Committee’s subcommittees shall be at the
    discretion of the full Committee Chair, unless a majority of the Republican Members of the full Committee disapprove the action of the Chair.
    (2) The Chair shall formalize in writing for the other Republican Members of the Committee the procedures to be followed in selecting Subcommittee Chairmen and individual subcommittee assignments and shall do so in advance of the Committee's organization. The procedures may be modified by a majority vote of the Republican Members of the full Committee.
    As the article strongly suggests, the subcommittee chairs in this case are acting at Boehner's behest: "... GOP leadership made clear to all full committee chairmen that there is an expectation that subcommittee chairs will vote with Republicans on rules."

    Leadership concern with party discipline on procedural votes is nothing new.  Here is a UPI report from August 30, 1980:
    Representative Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., the Speaker of the House, has warned 44 Democrats who voted against a key parliamentary ruling last week not to repeat their defiance of party discipline.
    Normally easygoing, Mr. O'Neill told the 44 members that party discipline still existed and they were expected to support the party in major policy votes. Such a display of whip-cracking in the independent and ''democratic'' House of 1980 is rare.

    Representative John M. Ashbrook, Republican of Ohio, became upset Aug. 19 when the parliamentarian ruled out of order his amendment to block any Internal Revenue Service regulation that could cause the loss of tax-exempt status by private or religious schools.

    Mr. Ashbrook appealed the ruling, asking the House to overturn it. The chamber supported the parliamentarian, 214 to 182, but Mr. O'Neill and other Democratic leaders were upset because 44 Democrats had joined the Republicans on the losing side.
    Some House Democratic leaders felt that the vote showed that pressure groups were becoming more sophisticated in the ways of Congressional politics and were exerting pressure on members to vote against usually sacrosanct parliamentary rulings as a way of getting legislation passed.
    ''I was extremely disappointed to note that you voted against a motion to uphold the ruling of the chair last week,'' Mr. O'Neill wrote in separate letters to each of the 44 Democrats. ''It is elementary to our procedural control of the House that the chair be supported by members of our party. That is basic to a parliamentary body. In other countries, if such a vote were lost, the government would fall.''
    ''You should know,'' he went on, ''that from 1937 to 1968 there were no recorded votes on the chair's rulings. From 1968 until 1979, there were four votes. Now we have seen three roll-call votes in seven weeks.
    ''Members of the Steering and Policy Committee and the whip's organization have discussed these developments, some of them calling for disciplinary measures and meetings. I believe, however, that our best course is to call the above facts to the members' attention.
    ''I fully understand the pressures that are brought to bear by single-issue groups on such occasions, but I believe members have to be ready to support the orderly process when a member seeks to confuse procedure with issue.
    ''I trust you will take all these facts into consideration in the future. We must act together to enact a legislative program.''

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    Procedure and Party Power

    Politico recently published this piece about Boehner's efforts to control the House Republican majority.

    According to the article, Boehner has threatened to remove members in cushy committee leadership positions if they vote against him on rules. As we saw in the Straus reading, procedure is critical to the majority party and having fellow Republicans vote against advantageous procedure on appropriations and other legislation is counterproductive.

    This isn't the first time Boehner has threatened to remove committee leadership for insubordination. The article mentions that Boehner removed Reps. Nugent and Webster from the Rules Committee after Webster campaigned for the Speakership and Nugent backed him.

    The rebellion of Republicans under their own Speaker is telling of the divisions within the party. As the deadline for funding the Department of Homeland security approaches, it will be interesting to see if Boehner can control his party and keep having effective procedure power on the floor.

    Boehner and his power gavel


    The president is asking Congress for authorization to use military force.  Note that no president has ever acknowledged the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution or declared that such AUMFs

    The letter to Congress:
    The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to U.S. national security. It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland.
    I have directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. As part of this strategy, U.S. military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Although existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions, I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL. Consistent with this commitment, I am submitting a draft AUMF that would authorize the continued use of military force to degrade and defeat ISIL.
    My Administration's draft AUMF would not authorize long‑term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed to conduct such operations. The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership. It would also authorize the use of U.S. forces in situations where ground combat operations are not expected or intended, such as intelligence collection and sharing, missions to enable kinetic strikes, or the provision of operational planning and other forms of advice and assistance to partner forces.
    Although my proposed AUMF does not address the 2001 AUMF, I remain committed to working with the Congress and the American people to refine, and ultimately repeal, the 2001 AUMF. Enacting an AUMF that is specific to the threat posed by ISIL could serve as a model for how we can work together to tailor the authorities granted by the 2001 AUMF.
    I can think of no better way for the Congress to join me in supporting our Nation's security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL.
    February 11, 2015.
    From the president's draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force:
    This joint resolution may be cited as the “Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”
    (a) AUTHORIZATION.—The President is authorized, subject to the limitations in subsection (c), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines to be necessary and appropriate against ISIL or associated persons or forces as defined in section 5.
    (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION.—Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1547(a)(1)), Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(b)).
    (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS.—Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).
    The authority granted in subsection (a) does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.
    This authorization for the use of military force shall terminate three years after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution, unless reauthorized.
    SEC. 4. REPORTS.
    The President shall report to Congress at least once every six months on specific actions taken pursuant to this authorization.
    In this joint resolution, the term ‘‘associated persons or forces’’ means individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.
    The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107–243; 116 Stat. 1498; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    Congressional Leadership

    Why the portrayal of LBJ in Selma is horse-hockey.

    Speakership Elections

    Boehner's cursing (h/t Ian)


    LBJ in Frank Underwood's office

    LBJ and Charlie Halleck

    The moment that made Newt

    Gingrich on the difference between majority and minority:
    In short, overnight I found myself in a job far bigger than most people, even Washingtonians, understand to this day. The Speaker is the third-ranking constitutional officer. That in itself might seem weighty enough. In addition, the day-to-day job requires him not only to preside over, but to attempt to lead, 435 strong-willed, competitive, and independent-minded people. (Some wag has likened this to an attempt to herd cats.) After all, if these people had not in the first place been heavily endowed with all three of these characteristics—will, competitiveness, and independence of mind—they would never have been able to get through the process of winning a primary, followed by a general election, followed by the requirement that they represent 600,000 of their fellow Americans in the nation's capital. So if they sometimes made difficulties for one another, and for me, that was one of the great strengths of the system.
    All of this added up to the fact that, politically experienced as I was, everything seemed a little unfamiliar to me. I hadn't shifted from my old job to my new job fast enough. I hadn't shaken off some of the habits I had acquired being the minority whip. I'll give you an example. As the minority party, we were in the position of having to fight every day just to get some media attention. We tended to say and do things that were far more strident and dramatic than are prudent to do and say as the leaders of the majority who find themselves in front of the microphone every day. If you are seldom covered by the press, which was the case with House Republicans for forty years, you have a lot of leeway to make mistakes. But when you are in people's living rooms every evening, your mistakes are magnified.

    Homestyle and Alma Mater

    In class, we discussed the importance of a member of Congress's connection to her district. In order to appeal to voters and win reelection, members must show that they identify and empathize with their constituents. Prof. Pitney mentioned that, although although he was not born in Wyoming (an informal qualification for office in the state), Dick Cheney emphasized that he graduated from the University of Wyoming.

    The Washington Post published this useful infographic that displays where the senators from each state wen to college. One of the primary observations is that 6 in 10 senators went to college in that state they represent. Moreover, fewer senators went to Ivy League schools than one would expect--only 18%. (Compare this number to the law schools on the Supreme Court.) It is also interesting to see which states elect Ivy Leaguers. There is also a large BYU contingent in the Mountain West stretching from Arizona through Idaho. My conclusion is going to college in state advantages candidates in running for office. Second, an Ivy League education may help, but it depends on which state you hope to represent (and maybe their education level?).

    Monday, February 9, 2015

    Parties and Leaders

    • Party in the electorate (PIE) 
    • Party organization (PO) 
    • Partisan outside groups (POG) 
    • Party in government (PIG) 
    Party campaign committees:

    Republican... RNC NRCC NRSC
    Democratic.. DNC DCCC* DSCC*

    *Chair appointed by party leader

    The Four Strategic Postures Since 2000 (House, by election year)

                                                    Majority                      Minority

                Pres Party                    Dem 08                      GOP 06
                                                    GOP 00, 02, 04           Dem 10,12,14
                Out Party                    GOP 10,12,14             GOP 08
                                                    Dem 06                       Dem 00, 02, 04

    Note:  even majorities of the president's party may split with the administration agenda.  See Democrats on trade in 1993 and 2014.

    Hill leadership

    Congressional Member Organizations

    Sunday, February 8, 2015

    "God Bless Him and Good Luck"

    At The New York Times, Jeremy Peters office a neat illustration of the points that we are covering this week:
    You could see the mischievous delight in John A. Boehner’s face as soon as he heard the question Thursday.
    Did he, the speaker of the House, have any idea how his Republican counterpart in the Senate was going to corral enough Republicans to support a plan that keeps the Department of Homeland Security funded?
    “No,” Mr. Boehner said, shrugging his shoulders. Then, he grinned as he contemplated the task that faced Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader. “He’s got a tough job over there. I’ve got a tough job over here. God bless him and good luck.”
    Now that they control both houses of Congress, Republicans are beginning to learn the limits of their newfound power. For the third day in a row, Senate Republicans called a vote on a bill to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded. And for the third time, it failed to clear a Democratic filibuster.
    The problems were old and new: political divisions within the party, difficulties over managing the expectations of conservative lawmakers, and the simple arithmetic of getting to the filibuster-proof threshold of 60 votes when there are only 54 Republican senators. The tactics that had served them well when they were in the minority were now being effectively exploited against them.

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Congress: A Member's Perspective

    This is highly relevant to our discussion of the two Congresses and more.


    Plus, the article ends on a hopeful note:

    "Congress is still necessary to save America, and cynics aren't helping
    Discouragement is for wimps.

    We aren't going to change the Constitution, so we need to make the system we have work. We are still, despite our shortcomings, the most successful experiment in self-government in history. Our greatest strength is our ability to bounce back from mistakes like we are making today. Get over your nostalgia: Congress has never been more than a sausage factory. The point here isn't to make us something we're not. The point is to get us to make sausage again. But for that to happen, the people have to rise up and demand better."

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015

    Elections: Setting, Strategy, Tactics

      Some ads
      Hill Style:  John McCain takes on his former friend in 2013:

      Home Style:  John McCain and little old ladies in 1993:

      Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit

      Burgess Everett reports at Politico:
      Senate Democrats are falling back in love with the filibuster.
      After eight years of complaining about obstructionism, the Senate’s new Democratic minority is embracing some of the same tools Republicans had wielded so skillfully to jam the legislative machinery. On Tuesday, Democrats used the filibuster to stop a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security — and roll back President Barack Obama’s immigration policies — dead in its tracks.
      Democrats’ relationship with the filibuster had been on the rocks when they ran the Senate, a time when the GOP regularly used the procedural weapon to disrupt the majority’s agenda. Democrats responded by gutting the filibuster on nominations, making “Republican obstruction” a go-to explanation for the Senate’s gridlock and complaining bitterly when the GOP minority blocked debate from even opening on bills.
      Then came Tuesday’s 51-48 vote blocking the DHS bill. This was the first time a Democratic minority had blocked a bill from coming to the floor for debate since Aug. 3, 2006, when Democrats stifled legislation that would have raised the minimum wage and decreased the estate tax.
      Casual Senate watchers could be forgiven for thinking that Democrats and Republicans had simply exchanged talking points after the 2014 election. Now in the majority, Republicans are the ones accusing the minority of keeping the Senate from getting things done.
      You heard it here first:  the parties have flipped before. 

      Tuesday, February 3, 2015

      Something You Probably Didn't Know About Mitch McConnell

      Today Mitch McConnell called himself a "big fan of vaccinations."


      Congressional Record, April 12, 2005
      I was struck with polio when I was 2 years old. My dad was overseas fighting in World War II. Polio was similar to having the flu--you felt sick all over. Except when polio  went away there were residual effects. In my case, when my flu-like symptoms went away, I had a quadricep in my left leg that was dramatically affected.

      My mother was, of course, like many mothers of young polio victims, perplexed about what to do, anxious about whether I would be disabled for the rest of my life. But we were fortunate. While my dad was overseas my mother was living with her sister in east central Alabama, only about 40 or 50 miles from Warm Springs. As everyone knows, President Roosevelt established Warm Springs, where he went to engage in his own physical therapy, as a center to treat other polio victims. So my mother was able to put me in the car, go over to Warm Springs, and actually learn, from those marvelous physical therapists who were there, what to do.
      They told my mother she needed to keep me from walking. Now, imagine this. You are the mother of a 2-year-old boy. And we all know how anxious little boys are to get up and get around and get into trouble. So my mother convinced me that I could walk, but I couldn't walk--a pretty subtle concept to try to convey to a 2-year-old. In other words, she wanted me to think I could walk, but she wanted me to also understand I should not walk. Now, obviously, the only way to enforce that with a 2-year-old is to watch them like a hawk all the time. So I was under intense observation by my mother for 2 years. She administered this physical therapy regiment at least three times a day--all of this really before my recollection. But we now know the things that happened to us in the first 5 years of our lives have an enormous impact on us for the rest of our lives.

      So this example of incredible discipline that she was teaching me during this period I always felt had an impact on the rest of my life in terms of whatever discipline I may have been able to bring to bear on things I have been involved in. I really have felt my mother taught me that before I was even old enough to remember.
      So this went on for 2 years. My first memory in life was stopping at a shoe store in LaGrange, GA. We had left Warm Springs for the last time, and the physical therapist there had told my mother: Your son can walk now. We think he is going to have a normal childhood and a normal life. We stopped at a shoe store in LaGrange, GA, and bought a pair of saddle oxfords, which are low-top shoes--my first recollection in life.

      Followup to Our Discussion of Recruitment

      Joe Mathews writes at Fox and Hounds:
      There is a new form of punishment for those who dared to chair the California Republican Party: you have to run for offices that you know you can’t win.
      This take-one-for-the-team reality has become a trend. Former party chair Ron Nehring made a no-hope run for lieutenant governor last year (and wrote some interesting emails I enjoyed reading). Now former chair Tom Del Beccaro appears to be getting closer to running for a U.S. Senate seat that is all but certain to stay in Democratic hands.
      Why do they do this? The answer seems to be less about ambition – since winning the office isn’t possible – and more about duty. Nehring said he was running because he believes the party should field candidates for every post, and because competition is the essence of democracy.
      Del Beccaro, in a recent email, said he was looking at the Senate race “because I want our side to be heard.” He added: “Over the next 4 years, there will likely be 2 US Senate seats and the Governor’s office in play. If ever we are going to engage with California voters, the next four years will be the time.”

      These runs indicate desperation. Party chairs have to recruit candidates, and recruitment must be hard, especially for statewide offices and for legislative offices in more Democratic regions of the state. So what’s the honorable thing to do when you can’t find a candidate? Become a candidate yourself.

      Blog Archive