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About this Blog

During the semester, I shall post course material and students will comment on it. Students are also free to comment on any aspect of American politics, either current or historical. There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges. This blog is on the open Internet, so post nothing that you would not want a potential employer to see.

The course syllabus is at:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Election Viewing Party

Hi guys, I'm putting on an election viewing party on November 4 from 4:00 to 10:30ish, depending on how many races are called decisively, in Marks basement (Still being finalized - if you have a better place, let me know). Feel free to invite friends from outside of class. There's also a Facebook event for the party, though I'm not "friends" with about half of you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Political Organizations: the Lobbies and the Streets

Twelve Things About Interest Groups
  1. Even registered sex offenders have a group.
  2. So do frats.
  3. Lobbyists have their own lobby. Seriously.
  4. Foreign and domestic governments engage in lobbying.
  5. Teach for America is an interest group.
  6. Advocacy organizations take several forms.
  7. Spending on federal lobbying is comparable to spending on federal elections.
  8. And not all advocacy work counts as lobbying.
  9. The revolving door keeps revolving -- especially for shadow lobbyists
  10. Philanthropy is a form of interest group influence.
  11. Once an interest group buys a friend, it can leverage that friendship.
  12. Even think tanks are part of the interest group universe.
NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin speaks frankly about power:




Alinsky's 13 Rules:

  • RULE 1: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
  • RULE 2: Never go outside the experience of your people
  • RULE 3: Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. 
  • RULE 4: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. 
  • RULE 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. 
  • RULE 6: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.
  • RULE 7: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  • RULE 8: Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
  • RULE 9: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  • RULE 10: The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. 
  • RULE 11: If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside. 
  • RULE 12: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. 
  • RULE 13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. 





























Extremely Important Videos About Law and the Courts

XY had a great post from John Oliver. Here is another:



 We also talked about civil litigation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (great comic; great show) but he did a segment on civil forfeitures (which we touched on briefly today) a couple of weeks ago. It's a good primer on civil forfeitures if you knew nothing about it going in.


Supreme Court and Elections

Hi guys,
I decided to share this story because we are discussing the Court System this week. The Supreme Court has recently made several decisions that will impact the 2014 election. This has included a decision to allow Ohio to stop early voting a week early. The decision has been heavily criticized by Attorney General Eric Holder because this is a voting block often used by African American voters. Here is CNN's coverage of the story. The Supreme Court also ruled on North Carolina voting laws allowing the state to eliminate "same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting". Both Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor disagreed with this ruling because of its negative impact on African American voters. Here is Politico's covering of that story. Soon the Court may be asked to rule on Texas's ID voter law. Texas's law may prevent minorities from voting. However, in another recent case the Supreme Court upheld a decision in Wisconsin that would ban a voter ID law which could prevent minorities from voting. This is interesting to me because it shows how the Supreme Court can influence the Executive and Congress by helping determine which demographics may vote for the officials that hold those offices.

Law and Judiciary II

Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.
Reasons for increasing judicial power (Amar, pp. 216-218):






From Topkis's comments:
Now, this bill was of course drafted by a theologian, or somebody versed in apologetics.
There's an amusing bit of evidence on that subject in the very language of the bill.
The bill keeps using... the Act keeps using the term "evidences" in the plural.
We lawyers never speak of "evidences" in the plural.
We speak of "evidence", the singular.
And I got nagged by it, and I looked it up the other day.
And of course the only dictionary reference to "evidences" is to Christian apologetics: the evidences for Christianity.
This is a matter of theological disputation.
SCOTUS biographies