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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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Simulation on Twitter !

Here is Twitter, blog, and email information for the simulation: the press, the administration, and the Senate.

PolitiClaremont  -- Katie Trettenero –-- https://twitter.com/PolitiClaremont
Charlize Johnson

POTUS – Julian Mackie -- https://twitter.com/HelloitsBarryO
Secretary of Commerce – Harry Pellicoro -- https://twitter.com/PennyPritzSoC
Secretary of State – Dane Brown -- https://twitter.com/fakejohnkerry

The Senate:

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) – Christina Coffin -- https://twitter.com/Ayotte4NH
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – Victor Lopez -- https://twitter.com/BarbDaBoxer
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – Annie Hwang -- https://twitter.com/SenatorMariaC
Ted Cruz (R-TX) -- Kosta Psaltis -- https://twitter.com/TedCruzFake
Deb Fischer (R-NE) – Kevin Covarrubias -- https://twitter.com/FishForNebraska
Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – Eddie Villa -- https://twitter.com/FakeJeffFlake
Tim Kaine (D-VA) – Meredith Cockerham -- https://twitter.com/T_Kaine
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) – Sloan Caldwell -- https://twitter.com/cmcsenklobuchar
Ron Johnson (R-WI) – Harry Arnold -- https://twitter.com/CmontJohnson
Claire McCaskill (D-MO) – Maddie Stein -- https://twitter.com/cmcsenmccaskill
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – Sho Kajima -- https://twitter.com/RitchMcconnell
Bill Nelson (D-FL) – James Gordon -- https://twitter.com/CMC_BillNelson
Bob Menendez (D-NJ) -- Kayla Nonn -- https://twitter.com/MoneyMenendez
Rand Paul (R-KY)  -- Ian O’Grady -- https://twitter.com/CmontRand
Harry Reid (D-NV) – Nadeem Farooqi -- https://twitter.com/CmcSenReid15
Marco Rubio (R-FL) – Chloe Zagrodzky -- https://twitter.com/ClaremontRubio
Jeanne Shaheen (D- NH) -- Kyra McAndrews -- https://twitter.com/JShaheenMachine
John Thune (R-SD) – Miles Wilson -- https://twitter.com/NotDaRealThune

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reid to Retire

Harry Reid -- the real one, not the simulation Reid -- will retire.  Carl Hulse reports at The New York Times:
Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”

He has already confounded the new Republican majority this year by holding Democrats united against a proposal to gut the Obama administration’s immigration policies as well as a human-trafficking measure Democrats objected to over an anti-abortion provision.

“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Next Couple of Weeks

1. For Monday, April 6, please read ch. 12 of Davidson.

2. Peer evaluation: On Monday, April 6 (the Monday after simulation) please bring in a short memo in which you identify three or four participants 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: please bring in hardcopy and do not put your own name on the sheet.

3 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 include  relevant supporting materials, such as: memoranda, bill drafts, or strategy notes. (Better yet, just refer to material that is already online, and provide the URLs.) Please be selective here: do not include everything, just the key items.

  • Essays should be 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 with Turabian endnotes.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Return essays to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Thursday, April 16. Your grade for the simulation will drop one gradepoint for one day's lateness, a full grade after that.

Appointments and Removals

"The Human Sacrifice"
The Smoking Gun Tape:


House hard-line conservatives turning over a new leaf?

Interesting article from Poltico about the "hell no" caucus  which discusses how the conservatives in Congress have started to adjust their obstructionist tactics since their recent loss over DHS funding. Members of the "freedom caucus" gathered after the loss and have since worked with less hard-line senate rebulicans to bring about a "yes" on the budget. The "Queen of the Hill" tactic was used. Still, people remain skeptical that the "hell no" caucus has turned over a new leaf.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

News Items on Legislation and the Process


At The New York Times, Derek Willis writes that a bill on sex trafficking stalled in the Senate when Democrats discovered antiabortion language.  Actually a Democratic staffer spotted the language but got the blame for not alerting members (who failed to read the bill). Willis proposes avoiding such problems by treating bills as if they were web pages, with links to relevant laws and rules.
Sound far-fetched? It isn’t. The way most congressional legislation is drafted (using computers) makes it possible to add markup — like citations to laws — to the text of bills. That ability has been in place since 2001. What happened to the sex-trafficking bill, which would create a fund for victims, is an example of how marking up legislation like web pages (and then publishing them) would be useful.
The sex-trafficking bill’s offending language isn’t exactly transparent; it doesn’t mention abortion at all. It says, if you can parse the legalese: “Amounts in the [Domestic Trafficking Victims’] Fund, or otherwise transferred from the Fund, shall be subject to the limitations on the use or expending of amounts described in sections 506 and 507 of division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (Public Law 113-76; 128 Stat. 409) to the same extent as if amounts in the Fund were funds appropriated under division H of such Act.”
The “limitations” referred to in the bill say that money can’t be spent “for any abortion” except in cases of incest or rape or “for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.” But in order to know that, a reader of the bill would have to know what was in part of the law passed in January 2014 or know what search keywords to use in those sections. The abortion restrictions, which are commonly known as the “Hyde amendment” after Henry Hyde, a former Illinois Republican congressman who opposed abortion, are a regular feature in Republican-authored spending bills.
There’s already an effort to modernize most congressional legislation drafting, but it isn’t coming from inside government. The Cato Institute, the libertarian-leaning research and policy organization, created the Deepbills Project, which takes legislation published by Congress and adds references, including to existing laws and government organizations like federal agencies and congressional committees.
Matt Fuller reports at Roll Call:
Republicans are breaking out their procedural rulebooks for the House budget resolution, with leadership getting creative to appease defense hawks who want additional spending and conservatives who are apt to reject more military dollars that aren’t offset.

The House Rules Committee Monday set up a series of votes this week on six budget proposals: The one reported out of committee, the version reported out of committee with an additional $2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, a leaner Republican Study Committee budget, a House Democratic Caucus budget, a proposal from the Progressive Caucus, and one from the Congressional Black Caucus.

The budget with the $2 billion additional defense dollars is the one House leadership ultimately wants to see adopted. That proposal will be the final vote in the series.

Here’s how the process works: the budget that gets the most votes is the one that wins. In congressional parlance, it’s called “Queen of the Hill.”

GOP leaders had to get funky with the rule after the Budget Committee reported out a bill without the additional $2 billion that Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee said was critical to their support. It seemed like the Rules Committee would just include self-executing language — making a bill with the amendment to the base text — but conservatives balked. They threatened to vote down any rule that simply added money without an offset for that expense and without a real vote.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Congress and the Other Branches

Foreign Relations hearing 

 Commerce hearing

Forms of delegation:
The Administrative Procedure Act
The Congressional Review Act.

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.

NAIL: Nominations, Appropriations, Investigations, Legislation

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Hope for Republicans in the Battle Against Obamacare

The Wall Street Journal reported today that many uninsured Americans are preferring to pay the penalty rather than enroll during the special enrollment period. A poll done by McKinsey & Co.'s Center for U.S. Health System Reform found that only 12% of uninsured Americans would change their mind and enroll in Obamacare after they were made aware of the penalty. This could be good news for Republicans like Paul Ryan who are trying to create a GOP-friendly health care alternative to Obamacare. If uninsured Americans are not enrolling, then it will be easier politically for the Republicans to replace Obamacare.
Source: Wall Street Journal

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Who Writes the Bills?

Clark Mindock reports at Open Secrets:
The Senate Subcommittee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to consider amending the Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates the production, importing and disposal of specific chemicals. Days earlier, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) criticized the access the American Chemistry Council seemed to have been able to get to the bill’s drafting process.
“Call me old-fashioned, but a bill to protect the public from harmful chemicals should not be written by chemical industry lobbyists,” Boxer told the San Francisco Chronicle .
The bill, if enacted, would be the first time in nearly 50 years that TSCA — which deals with chemicals like asbestos — was updated. That is a process, supporters of the bill contend, that should be informed by the industry most affected by it; but if left solely to industry, opponents respond, the result could seriously undermine the purpose of chemical regulations to protect public health.
The alleged authorship was discovered as the bill circulated Capitol offices in the form of a Microsoft Word document, and someone noticed the “company of origin” listed in the document’s digital properties was the ACC. A spokesperson for Sen.Tom Udall (D-N.M.), one of two sponsors along with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), has said the ACC’s name was put in that field by mistake.
“That document originated in our office,” said Jennifer Talhelm, Udall’s communications director, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was shared with a number of stakeholders including at least one other senator’s office. One of those stakeholders was the ACC. We believe that somebody at the ACC saved the document, and sent it back to us.”
The American Chemistry Council gave over half-a-million dollars to candidates in 2014, and spent $11.4 million on lobbying. It boasts a long list of industry members, many of which spend a pretty penny themselves to influence the federal government.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Staff Oops

David Espo and Erica Werner report at AP:
Senate Democrats blocked debate on stalled human trafficking legislation for a second day Wednesday as a Democratic senator's office belatedly conceded that a staff aide knew weeks ago that the measure included a controversial abortion-related provision.

Democrats have said for more than a week that their side of the aisle was not aware of the provision until a few days ago, nearly two months after the legislation was made public and long after a bipartisan vote in the Judiciary Committee on Feb. 24.

Several Democrats have accused Republicans of sneaking it into the measure without their discovering it.

But Julia Krahe, a spokeswoman for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, said an aide to the Minnesota Democrat "had seen the language" relating to abortion before the committee voted.

The aide "did not inform the senator. The senator takes responsibility for the work of her office and missing the provision and she is focused on moving forward to find a way to fix the bill and protect victims of trafficking," Krahe added. Her disclosure came in an email Tuesday evening in response to an inquiry first made a week ago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Flip Phone Caucus

While many members have become increasingly tech-savvy, some lag far behind.  Senator Schumer, who still has a flip phone, said “Maybe once every four months, I do one email.”  He also does not know that his phone is not called "the 3G."  Senators McCain and Graham do not use email, though McCain used his iPhone to play iPhone poker during a Syria hearing.  Luckily, the many staffers understand and use email frequently.        

Storing Emails From These Senators Will Be Easy, if They Ever Send One

Congress and the President II

We had not only failed to take into account the ability of the Senate to delay us and obstruct us, but we had much too cavalierly underrated the power of the President, even a President who had lost his legislative majority and was in a certain amount of trouble for other reasons. I am speaking of the power of the veto. Even if you pass something through both the House and the Senate, there is that presidential pen. How could we have forgotten that? For me especially it was inexcusable, because when I was Republican whip during the Bush Administration one of my duties had been precisely to help sustain presidential vetoes.
Item Veto v. Congressional (Legislative Veto)

Just Like Simulation!

Any course alum who reads this article will have the same reaction:  THIS IS JUST LIKE SIMULATION!

Mitch McConnell has caught Democrats between a rock and an abortion rider.
After weeks of Democrats questioning his unwillingness to schedule the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general, the Senate majority leader announced at a press conference Tuesday that the Senate will vote to confirm her next week. There's just one catch: Members will have to get past legislation that includes a controversial abortion rider first.
"This is bad," Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for Judiciary Committee Democrats, said Tuesday.
Not long after agreeing unanimously to move forward with a bill to combat human trafficking on Monday, Democrats discovered the abortion language that had been sitting near the start of the bill. They're now refusing to allow Republicans a final vote on the bill, potentially carrying out a filibuster that could last well into next week.
To get their vote on Lynch, Democrats will have to get off of the trafficking bill. And, so far, Republicans aren't showing any willingness to remove the controversial abortion language.

Democrats are furious that McConnell's top deputy, Republican Whip John Cornyn, snuck—in their telling—a provision into a bipartisan human-trafficking bill that would prevent any of the funds reserved for trafficking victims from being used on abortions or Plan B contracepton (known as the morning-after pill).

Cornyn argued Tuesday that the legislation including the abortion language was posted publicly on Jan. 13. It earned a dozen Democratic cosponsors and passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously without a single Democratic member or aide flagging the abortion language.

It was on page four.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Congress and the President I

1— Strongly Support Passage
2— Support Passage
3— Do not Object to Passage
4— No Position on Passage
5— Oppose
6— Strongly Oppose
7— Secretary’s veto Threat (single and multiple agency)
8— Senior Advisor’s Veto Threat
9— Presidential Veto Threat 

Is the Revolving Door Equally Open for Members of Congress?

Interesting article from the Hill from last December talking about the revolving door phenomenon, and how for the group of congressmen who were recently defeated, the job market will be especially tough:

"The current job market in the influence industry is the toughest in years, several headhunters said, with former lawmakers facing stiff competition for a limited number of high-ranking positions...At least 58 lawmakers will be leaving Congress in January, either because they lost their reelection races or have decided to retire."

The article explains how the congressmen that will be in the highest demand are those that can negotiate with Republicans:

"The November elections also handed defeats to several Democratic senators — Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Udall (Colo.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), among them — whom headhunters say will be valuable because of their reputation as being dealmakers with Republicans."

Saturday, March 7, 2015

American Voting Rates Low

During Obama's speech in Selma, he criticized Americans' apathy towards voting.  This article provides data on how the US compares to other countries in voter turnout rates among the voting-age population.  The US rate is 54.6%, and Uruguay is in the lead at 97.1%.  The article also has data on US voting rates based on race.  It would be interesting to see data on the percentage of registered voters to compare with the US voting rate.


Monday, March 2, 2015


CQ Vote Studies

National Journal Vote Ratings

Roll Calls

Lobby Data

The Republican's Looming "Demographic Disaster"

Here's an interesting chart from The Fix's Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post. It lists when states are projected to become minority-majority and assumes this spells trouble for the GOP. 

Supreme Court considers constitutionality of independent redistricting

A case about the constitutionality of Arizona's independent redistricting commission which could force hundreds of congressional districts to be redrawn. The case could have wide reaching effects on independent commissions around the country. From Politico

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