Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chapter 10 - The Essentials Of American Government

Vocabulary and definition from Chapter 10 - Congress

appropriations Budget legislation that specifies the amount of authorized funds that will actually be allocated for agencies and departments to spend.

authorizations Budget legislation that provides agencies and departments with the legal authority to operate; may specify funding levels but do not actually provide the funding (the funding is provided by appropriations).

Cannonism The attributes of a strong Speaker of the House of Representatives, based on the tenure of Joseph Cannon (R—Ill.), speaker from 1903-1911, who controlled the House with the force of his personality and his use of the rules at the time. He blocked legislation he did not like, controlled debate, and punished those who opposed him.

casework The assistance members of Congress provide to their constituents; includes answering questions and doing personal favors for those who ask for help. Also called constituency service.

cloture A method of stopping a filibuster by limiting debate to only 20 more hours; requires a vote of three-fifths of the members of the Senate.

conference committee A committee composed of members of both houses of Congress that is formed to try to resolve the differences when the two houses pass different versions of the same bill.

constituency Both the geographic area and the people a member of Congress represents. For a senator, the state and all its residents; for a member of the House, a congressional district and all its residents.

constituency service The assistance members of Congress provide to residents in their districts (states, if senators); includes answering questions and doing personal favors for those who ask for help. Also called casework.

earmark A specific amount of money designated—or set aside—at the request of a member of Congress, for a favored project, usually in his or her district. The dollar amount may be included in one of the budget authorization bills, but more commonly is in the committee report attached to the bill that instructs the relevant executive branch agency how to spend the money authorized for its operations.

enumerated powers Explicit grants of authority to Congress in the Constitution.

filibuster A mechanism for delay in the Senate in which one or more members engage in a continuous speech to prevent the Senate from voting on a bill.

gerrymander A congressional district whose boundaries are drawn so as to maximize the political advantage of a party or racial group; often such a district has a bizarre shape.

going public The process in which Congress or its members carry an issue debate to the public via the media; e.g., televising floor debates or media appearances by individual members.

implied powers The clause in the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to make all laws “necessary and proper” for carrying out its specific powers.

informal norms Unwritten rules designed to help keep Congress running smoothly by attempting to diminish friction and competition among the members.

majority leader The title of both the leader of the Senate, who is chosen by the majority party and the head of the majority party in the House of Representatives who is second in command to the Speaker.

markup The process in which a congressional subcommittee rewrites a bill after holding hearings on it.

minority leader The leader of the minority party in either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

pork barrel Funding for special projects, buildings, and other public works in the district or state of a member of Congress. Members support such projects because they provide jobs for constituents and enhance the members’ reelection chances, rather than because the projects are necessarily wise.

reapportionment The process of redistributing the 435 seats in the House of Representatives among the states based on population changes; occurs every 10 years based on the most recent census.

redistricting The process of redrawing the boundaries of congressional districts within a state after a census to take account of population shifts.

Rules Committee The committee in the House of Representatives that sets the terms of debate on a bill.

seniority rule The custom that the member of the majority party with the longest service on a particular congressional committee becomes its chair; applies most of the time but is occasionally violated.

Speaker of the House The leader and presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by the majority party.

special-interest caucus Groups of members of the House of Representatives and Senate who are united by some personal interest or characteristic; e.g., the Black Caucus.
standing committees Permanent congressional committees.

whips Members of the House of Representatives who work to maintain party unity by keeping in contact with party members trying to ensure they vote for party-backed bills. Both the majority and the minority party have a whip and several assistant whips.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chapter 2 Book Notes - Understanding American and California Government

Notes from Chapter 2 (Understanding American and California Government)

ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION: formed a league of friendship among the states – formed a weak national government.
• Established a Congress, but limited the powers Congress could exercise.
• No executive or judicial branch
• Allowed national and state level to make money
• Lack of national identity
• Congress was unable to raise an army (no draft/finance powers)
• Created decentralized government

Shay’s Rebellion: Merchants wanted to be paid in full for the money they had loaned, and the farmers didn’t want to pay b/c the tax burden was too high so they didn’t pay/blockaded attempts to get into their farms by authorities to claim the property. ..Hinted at mob rule which scared the wealthy.
• Think back to Aristotle: Democracy is a government by the poor over the wealthy
• Aristotle: Any government must keep everyone in the loop so there is no revolution or mob rule
• Shay’s Rebellion indicated a mob rule – worst form of democracy ever


Constitutional Convention: Philadelphia, 1787
The people sent were men: enlightened, education and experience
Rather than revise the Articles, they decided to make a new Constitution
Areas of consensus
The gov’t should be a republic
• Federalism – division of power between the state government and the federal government
• Supremacy clause: Constitution is the supreme law of the land
• 10th Amendment: Powers not delegated to the national government were reserved for the states
National gov’t should be stronger than under the Articles
Three separate branches: Executive, Judicial, Congress (Legislative)
• Separation of powers
• Creates a divided government where one political party does not control all the branches of government
• Checks and balances
Areas of conflict
• 3/5 Compromise
Trade and Taxation

Motives of the Founders
Philosophical Ideas
John Locke – social contract that establishes limited government
Charles de Montesquieu – separation of powers and checks/balances
Isaac Newton – Nature is a machine with parts, action/reaction = checks/balances
Political Experiences
Life under the Articles
Some were part of Declaration of Independence
Economic Interests
Protect property from the masses
Championed the right to property
Agreed with Madison, “ The first object of government is to protect property.”

Ratification of the Constitution
Emphasize a real division of power between the national and state government
Faulted the Constitution for lacking a bill of rights
They were localists – wary of trusting officials far away in a central location

Changing the Constitution
By Constitutional Amendment
By judicial interpretation
By political practice

McCulloch v. Maryland: National bank dispute
Marshall “The power to tax involves the power to destroy,” and the states shouldn’t have the power to destroy the bank because it was “necessary and proper” to carry out Congress’ powers to collect taxes, borrow money, regulate commerce and raise an army.
Marshall, “If the goal of the legislation is legitimate, then all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional.”
Marbury v. Madison: Powers of judicial review.

Implied power of Congress

Civil War and Reconstruction
Civil War: 1861-1865
Reconstruction: 1865-1876
Emancipation Proclamation: Slaves shall be forever free in Confederate states where the Union army was not in control (unenforceable).
The Gettysburg Address
The Reconstruction Amendments
13th: Abolished slavery, constitutionalizing the Emancipation Proclimation
14th: All persons born or naturalized in the US are citizens – this overturned the USSC’s ruling before the Civil War that blacks – free or slaves – could not be citizens.
14th: Equal Protection Clause; all states must treat people equally and, Due Process Clause; all states must treat people fairly
15th: Right to vote to blacks.
These all had an enforcement provision “Congress shall have the powers to enforce this article by appropriate legislation”

Great Depression and New Deal
Judicial Rulings
Political Practice

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review Questions for Chapter 2 of "Understanding American and California Government."

1. What is the Supremacy Clause and where is it found?
2. What Amendment limits the terms a President can serve?
3. What are the requirements for becoming a Senator or Representative and where are they found?
4. What are the enumerated powers the Constitution gives to Congress?
5. What is the 10th Amendment known as? What does it say?
6. What are the freedoms granted in the 1st Amendment?
7. What is the only Amendment to repeal another Amendment? What issue does it concern?
8. What is Article 1 about?
9. What is the first line of the Constitution?
10. What does the preamble to the Constitution say?
11. How many branches of government are there at the federal level?
12. What is federalism?
13. From where in the Constitution does Congress get implied powers?
14. What were the five main concerns of the Constitution writers? These five concerns represent issues that they wanted to make sure were covered in the Constitution.
15. Draw a chart that explains the primary duties of each branch of government, and the checks the other branches have on that primary branch.
16. What is the Full Faith and Credit clause, and where is it found?
17. What Amendments are known as the Civil Rights Amendments and what do they guarantee?
18. What Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and what do they – in general – guarantee? (No specifics).
19. Who were the Federalists and what did they want?
20. Why did the Anti-Federalists lose the fight against the Federalists?
21. What are some of the compromises that were made to get the Constitution ratified?
22. What is the “Great Compromise” and what did it result in?
23. Explain the differences between the Articles of the Confederation and the Constitution.
24. Who was involved in writing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence?
25. What provisions were in the original Constitution (that may or may not be there today) to prevent the masses from having too much influence or power in government?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Government 1, Chapter 1 notes (Understanding American and California Government)

Chapter 1 notes – Government 1
Understanding American and California Government
Welch, Gruhl, Comer, Rigdon, Gerston and Christensen

Politics: means through which individuals and groups shape government impact on society, competition for the distribution of resources
Political culture: shared body of beliefs and values that shapes perception and attitudes towards politics and government and in turn influences political behavior

Aristotle: Politics is the most noble endeavor a person can engage in because it helps them know themselves and because it forces the individual to relate to others. Through political participation, individuals pursue their own needs and interests while being required to consider the needs of others. It is through political participation that we learn to balance our needs against the needs of society as a whole.

Thing America is composed of/known for:
• Immigration: nation of immigrants, causes political cleavages
o Nationalistic/anti-foreigner views arise during politically troubling times, such as war.
o Easier to divide against immigrants
o Immigrant groups, even if initially persecuted, have gone on to grow and play a role in gov’t.
• Religious diversity
o Earliest settlers came here to escape religious persecution
o With its independence, US disassociated from England’s church (Anglican) and decided that there would be no national religion – not the same as no religion in gov’t
• Economic and demographic diversity
o Worker v. owner is classic American example.
• Political culture
o Significance for America: our political culture doesn’t mean we all agree, it simply means we all agree to abide by election results, discuss things non-violently and embrace conflict between viewpoints as well as cooperation.
o Learning political culture:
 Most of the Founders believes that an educated citizen was necessary to the survival of the new republic.
 Jefferson said only educated citizens would be able to understand issues, elect virtuous leaders and “sustain the delicate balance between liberty and order in the new public system.”
 Mass media helps encourage and disperse the political culture of America
• Core values of America: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
o Individual liberty
 Natural rights cannot be overruled by a government, can only be ceded to the government so long as government is functioning in the interests of the people
 Bill of Rights is a result of concern that gov’t would trample on individual rights
 Not an absolute commitment, rather a contingent one because restrictions on rights can be imposed based on good of the whole (ie no yelling fire in a croweded building)
o Political Equality
 One person = one vote
o Popular Sovereignty
 The government rules with the consent of the governed (the people)
o Majority Rule
 The majority makes the decisions, even if those decisions are unpopular (think Prop. 8 in Caliornia)
 Minority go along because they hope to be the majority some day.
o Minority Rights
 Protection for natural and constitutional rights of minotiries
 The judicial system often provides this
o Economic Rights
 Right to own property
 No taxation without representation (Boston Tea Party)
 In reality, people with more wealth have more influence on government
o Political participation
 Must have citizens participate or else the populations’ wishes are not represented
 Elect those who make the decisions – a republic
 Representative government