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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:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Happiness and the Stuff of Life

Franken might resign tomorrow.

Seventeenth Amendment:
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
The Constitution: Article II, section 3 and state laws.  A possible replacement for Franken.

Trump just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation  (299 US 304 (1936)):
Not only, as we have shown, is the federal power over external affairs in origin and essential character different from that over internal affairs, but participation in the exercise of the power is significantly limited. In this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, "The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations." Annals, 6th Cong., col. 613. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, at a very early day in our history (February 15, 1816), reported to the Senate, among other things, as follows:
"The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations, and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success. For his conduct, he is responsible to the Constitution. The committee consider this responsibility the surest pledge for the faithful discharge of his duty. They think the interference of the Senate in the direction of foreign negotiations calculated to diminish that responsibility, and thereby to impair the best security for the national safety. The nature of transactions with foreign nations, moreover, requires caution and unity of design, and their success frequently depends on secrecy and dispatch."
Happiness and "the stuff of life" (ch. 15), which brings us back to...

Danielle Allen!

Saving Private Ryan and the actual Lincoln letter

Monday, December 4, 2017

Practice Final 2017

The following will give you an idea of the format of the final exam. As you prepare, also take a look at the air midterm.

I. Briefly identify 12 of 14 items (4 points each). Explain each item's meaning and significance.
  • Democratic memos
  • The "fundamentals" in election outcomes
  • Selective incorporation
  • Article II
  • Homogamy
  • The jury “as a political institution”
  • Majority faction
  • The 10th Amendment
  • Isolates
  • The Creationism Act
  • Transactional politics
  • The Seneca Falls Declaration
  • Timothy Matlack
  • The Fiske Report
II. Short essays. Answer three of four. Each answer should take about half a page. (6 points each).
  • Explain the origin and meaning of the following passage: " In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." 
  • Explain the differences among PIE, PO, PIG and POG.
  • Explain the origin and meaning of this passage: "Whenever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy."
  • Franken has a short chapter titled "I Screw Up."  How did he screw up?  (No, it does not involve recent revelations.)
III. Answer two of three essay questions (17 points each). Each answer should take about 2-3 large bluebook pages or 3-4 small bluebook pages.
Bonus Questions (one point each). Very briefly identify the following:
  • Doug Jones
  • Sally Yates
  • John Conyers
  • Kevin deLeon
  • Francis LaBelle


The tax vote

 Tax Bill Impact on Higher Education  -- yeah, it means us.

Trends With Benefits

This episode of "This American Life," examines the growth in federal disability payments and how this reflects the growing lack of economic opportunity in non-college educated America. One of the mot valuable parts of this episode is not the quantitative analysis offered but the qualitative depiction of life in struggling economic communities presented through interviews of the people in those communities. This episode also delves into the complexities of the legal industry built up behind federal disability programs and their role as a welfare replacement.

Coming Apart IV, 2017

Honesty and Trust
  • The 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that unmarried people are far more likely than those who are married to be unaffiliated. It also shows, however, that both groups – those who are married and those who are not – have grown less religiously affiliated in recent years, though married people have done so more slowly. Among married adults, 18% now describe themselves as religious “nones,” up four points since 2007. More than a quarter of unmarried adults (28%) have no religious affiliation, up nine points in recent years. Within the broader category of unmarried U.S. adults, the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is especially evident among those who are living with a partner (26% were unaffiliated in 2007, compared with 35% today) and those who say they have never been married (24% vs. 34%). Both of these groups consist mostly of young people. Those who are divorced or separated and those who are widowed, two groups that consist mainly of older adults, have seen more modest increases in their shares of religious “nones.”