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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:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Inequality: Bringing It Home

The president's address on immigration: "Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger; we were strangers once too."  The line is Deuteronomy 10:19.

Here is what he said in 2006:
Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.
The Senceca Falls Declaration and the Declaration of Independence

And so back to the 1960s...

Census data on share of population with college and data by gender

The increasing economic importance of education

Education, inequality, and the college sorting machine

Ranking of colleges by economic diversity

The Onion has noticed.


I'm Just ... An Executive Order

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

The Bill of Rights
  • Amendment I  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 
  • Amendment II A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  • Amendment III No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. 
  • Amendment IV  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
  • Amendment V  No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
  • Amendment VI  In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
  • Amendment VII  In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
  • Amendment VIII Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  • Amendment IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
  • Amendment X  The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Other Amendments

Confirmed Appointments

Partisan agendas cause many diplomatic seats around the world to be empty as Republicans are unwilling to confirm Democratic appointeesThis is especially true after Democrats created rules to slow down appointments and eliminate shortcuts. In fact, some positions have been unfilled for over a year. These vacancies are rehabilitating to U.S. foreign policy interests. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez D. said, "The vacancies are in some of the most critical countries in the world in terms of national-security issues." The Wall Street Journal created the below chart to show that the average waiting time for approval was 238 days. 

 This week 14 of Obama's appointments were confirmed by the Senate. Two district judges were confined Tuesday as well as ambassadors to Vietnam, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and the United Arab Emirates. A list of all confirmed appointments can be found at the U.S. Senate's website. Democrats are making a big push to get appointments through before the Republicans take control of the Senate. This new push shows some measure of bipartisanship in the Senate.

Here is Politico's covering of the Story.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Civil Rights

How it did not happen:

Barron v. Baltimore and Gitlow v. New York

Civil War Amendments

Amendment XIII

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Amendment XV

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bureaucracy and Public Policy

Tocqueville (p. 692) on "The Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear"
It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principle concerns, directs their industry, makes rules for their testaments, and divides their inheritances. Why should it not entirely relieve them from the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living?…It covers the whole of social life with a network of petty, complicated rules that are both minute and uniform, through which even men of the greatest originality and the most vigorous temperament cannot force their heads above the crowd. It does not break men’s will, but softens, bends, and guides it; it seldom enjoins, but often inhibits, action; it does not destroy anything, but prevents much being born; it is not at all tyrannical, but it hinders, restrains, enervates, stifles, and stultifies so much that in the end each nation is no more than a flock of timid and hardworking animals with the government as its shepherd.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Air Midterm, Fall 2014

Relax. This “air midterm” does not count toward your grade; do not even turn it in. Instead, use it to appraise your own progress in the course. Try out this test, either in your head or on paper.If you flounder, then you should take more care with class sessions and assigned readings.

I. Identifications  In a short paragraph each, explain the meaning and significance of the following items. What is fair game for an identification?
  • Items that we have discussed in class or on the blog;
  • Items that appear in bold or italics in the readings;
  • Items that cover several pages in the readings.
  1. “Energy in the executive”
  2. Jon Huntsman
  3. Self-evident truths
  4. Moeurs
  5. Ninth Amendment
  6. Iowa caucuses
  7. The Supremacy Clause
  8. Super PAC
  9. Federal Register
  10. VEP
II.   Short essays.  In a couple of paragraphs each, answer the following.
  • Explain different meanings of political party.
  • Explain the political impact of the Three-Fifths Clause.
  • “[A]nd to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit.”  Explain.
  • “The President of the United States possesses almost royal prerogatives which he has no occasion to use, and the rights of which he has been able to make use so far are very circumscribed; the laws allow him to be strong, but circumstances have made him weak.” Explain.
III. General Essays (2-3 bluebooks pages each)
  • According to Tocqueville, what are the main causes that maintain a democratic republic in the United States? Explain.
  • Is federalism beneficial? Explain.
  • Should we amend Article V to make it easier to amend the Constitution and call a constitutional convention?
IV. Bonus questions (one point each) Very briefly identify the following:
  • Mia Love 
  • Kay Hagan 
  • Melissa Stephan 
  • Bob Chanin 
  • Robert McNamara