ABOUT THIS BLOG

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. 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. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· 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.

The syllabus is at http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/gov106-fall15.html

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Demosclerosis, continued


See above: The Iron Triangle

Read the Contract with America. Did it really propose to slash government?
A timeline of congressional reforms.

Monday, April 28, 2008

State Government Lobbying in Action

On Thursday, Dan and I went with the Rose Institute to Sacramento for the day. On the plane, I randomly got seated between two lobbyists who were heading up to Sacramento for the day. During the flight (and delay as Southwest tried to stop a mysterious fuel leak), I was able to have a long conversation with the two of them. They really represented the diversity of lobbyists and lobbyists' techniques. The one on my left, a lobbyist for some kind of builders association, was dressed very professionally in a suit and had lots of statistics and other information which he planned to use in his presentation (he never really told me what or who exactly he was lobbying). The one on my right, a mother who was president of her district's PTA, was relying less on statistics and more on an emotional appeal. She was talking to the Governor's staff and was trying to convince the Governor not to cut school funding. She had hand written letters from I believe fourth graders who had tried to explain to the Governor in their own ways why he should not cut funding. It was a very interesting experience to talk to both of them and hear them talk to each other because it was a real life example of much of what we have learned this semester.

Demosclerosis

A recap of lobbying expenditures.

Current campaign spending.

Economic indicators and estimates: a fever chart of demosclerosis?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Los Angeles Lobbies D.C.

A recent LA Times article highlights a prime example of local governments lobbying at the national level. A delegation of nearly 200 business owners and civic leaders from Los Angeles traveled to D.C. to lobby Congress for greater funding for transportation, education, small businesses, and many other interests. Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, Santa Monica Mayor Herb Katz, and LAUSD Superintendent Brewer were among the high-profile delegates on the annual "Access Washington" trip sponsored by the LA Chamber of Commerce. Villaraigosa rallied the delegation, saying "Our job is to advocate for our fair share. Most of you know full well that when you look at what California gets for its tax dollars, and what Los Angeles gets, it's obviously nothing of what we could or should receive." The group held meetings and news conferences with Members of Congress, such as Rep. Dreir (R-San Dimas), Rep. Clyburn (D-SC), Sen. Murray (D-WA), and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), among others. Pelosi told the delegation, "Know your power. [...] When you come, it makes a big difference. People listen." The delegation also lobbied for national issues affecting Los Angeles, such as immigration reform and passage of the Colombia FTA.

Local Government, Lobbying Review

The United States has a large number of local governments.

Local governments are creatures of the state.

Here in California, lobbyists must navigate municipal, county, and district governments.

Local governments often offer opportunities for public comment. Such opportunities may mean less than you think

As Nownes says, land use is a major issue for local government. Zoning is the word. A key concept is the conditional use permit.

Also as Nownes says, the process is so complex that interests often need consultants.



Big business does not always win:


Back to state government. Eminent domain is a big issue with the duel between Proposition 98 and Proposition 99.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Unbelievable Primary Show

Primary: The Musical! - courtesy of (Politico) Playbook TV's James Kotecki:



Mentioned: Rust Belt, China, Wal Mart

I think the video should show up above but just in case it doesn't

PicCell Wireless Contributes Money From Calls to Sponsor Lobbyists and Grassroots

Today I received this e-mail from the wireless company I used while abroad:

Dear Lindsay Mandel,

In December, you helped us write a donation check to The Borgen Project in the amount of $3,547.40. And you were giving by simply using your PicCell phone! For every call you made during a designated 12-day period in December, PicCell Wireless contributed $0.10 toward The Borgen Project's landmark efforts to pass the Global Poverty Act in U.S. Congress.

$3,547.40 makes a big difference in fighting the good fight
The donation covered the cost of sending a Borgen Project delegation to Washington, D.C. to build support for the Global Poverty Act. The remaining funds were used to reinforce a public awareness campaign.

Your impact by the numbers
3: Number of Senators who had co-sponsored the Global Poverty Act before PicCell raised enough money to send a Borgen Project delegation to Washington, D.C. to build support for the Global Poverty Act.

14: Number of Senators who have now co-sponsored the Global Poverty Act after The Borgen Project delegation arrived in Washington, D.C. In the weeks following The Borgen Project's meetings, the bill passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will next be voted on by the entire Senate.

Thank you for being part of this international effort!

Learn more about...
PicCell Philanthropy
The Borgen Project
The Global Poverty Act
How you can help

Kindest regards,
PicCell Wireless







Surprising Source of Obama Support

The New York Times reports that hedge fund managers like Barack Obama. Why?
In a word, access. Unlike Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama is relatively new to national politics and is therefore open to bringing new people — and new money — into the tent. For money types who want a table, or at least to look involved and get an invitation to the right parties, Mr. Obama is the candidate. As one of the hedge fund managers on the Alpha list said, “To be in Hillary’s inner circle, you had to be giving a decade ago, when Bill was president.” The same goes for Mr. McCain.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Image Improvement

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/

Direct Democracy and Grassroots

A humorous but accurate take on a day in a lobbyist's life.

Information on behested payments.

California campaign finance limits. Note the absence of limits for ballot measures.

The mechanics of direct democracy:


Ballot measures are big business. Firms specialize just in petition signatures.

ACLU Takes a Stand

This article, from CNN.com describes the ACLU's involvement in a Texas custody case between Child Protective Services and the Yearning for Zion ranch.  The ranch, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convicted of forcing female children into abusive, polygamist relationships.  The ACLU had a representative inside the courtroom and issued a statement of concern that the decision violated the basic right of the women and children on the ranch to worship and live as they please.  I thought this was a good example of an interest group monitoring and trying to influence the judicial branch.  
http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/04/20/polygamy.sect/index.html 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

McCain Direct Mail & Interest Groups

I drove home this morning to get a pillow. And as I walked in, what should I find on the entry hall table next to this week's issue of The Economist, but a direct mail piece addressed to my mother from none other than Senator and American Hero John McCain.

Although he spends most of the letter explaining how "liberals" like Obama, Clinton, and Pelosi are plotting to "win total control of the government" and laying out plans to "pass record-setting tax increases," he also takes a jab at MoveOn.org:
If liberal organizations like MoveOn.org have their way, our troops will be recklessly pulled out of Iraq and our enemies will be handed a victory they have neither won nor deserve. [sic] [replaced original underlining with bold]
Well, if MoveOn.org wants it, it must be a bad idea. I'm sure my mother would agree.

EDIT: This HTML Editor = fail. Here are the links to the letter:

http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh232/bigchris1313/Page1.jpg
http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh232/bigchris1313/Page2.jpg
http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh232/bigchris1313/Page3.jpg
http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh232/bigchris1313/Page4.jpg







State Lobbying: Stakes and Rules

Some video


Political maps of California 2006.

Oil companies are usually powerful. But in California, the education lobby is more powerful.



Want to know about lobbyists in California? Look here.

Some lobbyist profiles:



FPPC information on lobbyists

From the CA Lobbying Disclosure Information Manual: "Gifts made directly to members of an official’s immediate family are not subject to the gift limits unless the family member is also a public official described above, but are subject to disclosure on quarterly reports"

Institute of Governmental Advocates ethics code.

There are limits on gifts, but members have used campaign funds for personal purposes:

Inter-Governemental Lobbying

A number of mayors have gotten together to lobby congress on, "closing the gun show loop hole." Here is their new ad on tv:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Interest Groups, States and Localities

A curtain-raiser:



States and localities lobby Washington. Here is a tenant list in the Hall of the States building.

Sources on federalism and state government.

Except in California and Texas, state legislators represent many fewer people than their counterparts in Congress.

Where do they spend our money?


States tend to have plurality in the executive. Consider Texas.

Fifteen states have term limits on legislators.

Want to know about lobbyists in California? Look here.


A Break from your Paper

If you need a quick break while working on your paper watch this:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama Watches 60 Minutes

Senator Obama has a new ad up that focuses on the Congressman turned lobbyist Billy Tauzin:




Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chinese Embassy Highlights Positive Media Coverage

Washington Post: Chasing the Chinese Dream(10/22/07)

A Growing Number of the World's Emigrants Are Heading East,

Rather Than West, in Search of Safety, Tolerance and Opportunity

Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, October 21, 2007; Page A16

YIWU, China -- For more than three years, Khaled Rasheed and his family spent the nights huddled in fear as bombs exploded near their home in Baghdad. Like generations of would-be emigrants before him, he dreamed of a better life elsewhere. But where?

Finding a place that was safe was Rasheed's top priority, but openness to Islam and bright business prospects were also important.



Moatasem Anwar, 29, moved to Yiwu, a trading city about four hours south of Shanghai, after he and his family built up a thriving business in his native Iraq importing Chinese goods.
Moatasem Anwar, 29, moved to Yiwu, a trading city about four hours south of Shanghai, after he and his family built up a thriving business in his native Iraq importing Chinese goods. (Photos By Ariana Eunjung Cha -- The Washington Post)

It wasn't long before he settled on a place that had everything he was looking for: China.

For a growing number of the world's emigrants, China -- not the United States -- is the land where opportunities are endless, individual enterprise is rewarded and tolerance is universal.

"In China, life is good for us. For the first time in a long time, my whole family is very happy," said Rasheed, 50, who in February moved with his wife and five children to Yiwu, a trading city about four hours south of Shanghai.

Foreign Lobbying/War and Peace

Some last-minute tips for the next paper here or in other classes:

Colombia update: Bill Clinton has extensive ties. See his other speeches.

Review from 1/30 blog post: Wilson typology of policy arenas. An illustration: In the Dubai ports deal two years ago, Dubai was not able to prevail when the issue went public.

More here on diaspora politics and dual citizenship.

Ike warned about the military-industrial complex:



The complex still exists, but has shrunk since the end of the Cold War.

Groups against administration policy in Iraq:

An example of AAEI tactics:



See Moveon.org's "General Betray-us" ad.

Code Pink at work:

The major groups favoring administration policy in Iraq is Move American Forward.

Opinion on Iraq

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Hard" v. "Soft" Earmarks

The New York Times had an article on Monday about earmarks in which they used a term I had not heard before, hard earmarks and soft earmarks. Hear are some interesting sections from the article:

With great fanfare, Congress adopted strict ethics rules last year requiring members to disclose when they steered federal money to pet projects. But it turns out lawmakers can still secretly direct billions of dollars to favored organizations by making vague requests rather than issuing explicit instructions to government agencies in committee reports and spending bills. That seeming courtesy is the difference between “soft earmarks” and the more insistent “hard earmarks.”

How to spot a soft earmark? Easy. The language is that of a respectful suggestion: A committee “endorses” or notes it “is aware” of deserving programs and “urges” or “recommends” that agencies finance them.

After hard earmarks figured into several Congressional scandals and prompted criticism of wasteful spending from government agencies and watchdog groups, Congress cut back on their number last year and required disclosure of most of them. (There were more than 10,000, costing nearly $20 billion last year, according to the Congressional Research Service.)

But soft earmarks, while not a new phenomenon, have drawn virtually no attention and were not included in the ethics changes — and current ones under consideration — because Congress does not view them as true earmarks.

Their total cost is not known. But the research service found that they amounted to more than $3 billion in one spending bill alone in 2006, out of 13 annual appropriations bills. And the committee that handles the bill, which involves foreign operations, has increasingly converted hard earmarks to soft ones.

Soft earmarks are included in a number of spending measures, but they tend to occur more frequently in spending bills that give money to the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development and other foreign aid programs.

Federal agencies are not required to finance soft earmarks. However, officials have traditionally felt obliged to comply with such requests.

“Soft earmarks, while not legally binding, frequently come with an implicit threat: If you don’t take our suggestions, we will give you a hard earmark next,” said Andrew Natsios, former administrator of A.I.D. in the Bush administration.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Foreign Lobbying

With perfect timing, the campaign gives us a vivid example of foreign lobbying:




More detail from The New York Times:


Mr. Penn met with the Colombians in his role as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. He has refused to sever his ties to the company, which also represented Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and through a subsidiary represented Blackwater Worldwide, the military contractor blamed for numerous civilian deaths in Iraq.

The Japan Foundation is one avenue of foreign influence.

Look here for data on US affiliates of foreign companies.

FEC information on campaign contributions and foreign nationals.

There are restrictions on PAC activity by US subsidiaries of foreign corporations (see link above). But there are plenty of foreign-connected PACs.

An example of direct government lobbying: the Canadian embassy.

APCO issued a response to the Silverstein story.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Procurment Lobbying

Here is a current story about a big fight over a defense contract:

Northrop, which teamed up with Airbus parent EADS to clinch the first stage of the $35 billion program, is facing an official protest from losing bidder Boeing Co and threats from some lawmakers to block funding of the deal.

"We're making our way through them," said Paul Meyer, vice president of Northrop's air mobility systems unit, referring to individual members of Congress. "We are going to be very prevalent and stay focused in front of the press to make sure the facts are always on the table."

Boeing, which was widely expected to win the tanker contract, has faulted the Air Force's decision-making process.

Meanwhile, its congressional supporters -- chiefly from the states of Washington and Kansas, where Boeing has its main plane-making plants -- have accused the Air Force of exporting jobs and endangering national security by awarding the job to the Northrop/EADS team.

The surprise announcement in February sparked a war of words between Boeing and Northrop and their respective supporters, through speeches in Congress, on television and in prominent newspaper ads.

Boeing has protested the award to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is expected to rule on the case by mid-June. Northrop cannot perform any work on the tanker until the GAO rules on the matter.

But even if Boeing's protest fails, Congress has the power to block funding for the deal, which would effectively overturn the contract. That sets up a battle between two politically savvy companies to win hearts and minds in Washington.

Google and the CIA

Google's federal government sales team has recently struck a deal with the intelligence agencies. Google will supply its search technology in hope of making intelligence gathering and analysis more efficient. The search engine is meant to be especially helpful for Intellipedia, an open-source encyclopedia that requires security clearances to see its material.
Google probably competed with many other companies, especially Yahoo, for this opportunity, and one can imagine that lobbyists had a great deal of influence.

Interests Go to Court

  • The Supreme Court, interest groups, and the presidential campaign:




Professor Lofgren joins an amicus brief in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.