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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:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Group Research Assignment

I have divided the class into four work groups of four or five students each. Every group will assign each of its research questions to one of its members. Within each group, every student will ask another to review her or his paper. The reviewer’s name should appear on the paper, along with that of the author.
  • Essays should be double‑spaced and no more than six pages long. (Use twelve-point type.) I will not read past the sixth page.
  • Use secondary sources to establish context. Use primary sources for the bulk of your research. Seek information in scholarly journals and government publications. Wherever possible, rely on hard data such as election returns and polling results. Do not just rely on news media accounts, which may be inaccurate.
  • Cite your sources, using proper format, such as Turabian.
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you.
  • Submit essays to the Sakai dropbox by 5 PM on Friday, 14 November. (Yes, you have two extra days.) Papers will drop a gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a letter grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.
Blanchard-Reed, Chong, Covarrubias, Dobie


Greenberg, Hill, Ivy, Landeros


Landgraf, Ludlam, Ma, Muller, Pandya
Peck, Plumlee, Stewart, White, Zemke

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.