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PSC 201: American Government

Ann Serow (ed) Lanahan Readings in the American Polity, 5e, 2011

Student Outlines, readings 24-62 | readings 63-81 | Serow 4e outlines index

(new readings only; outlines for previous readings are linked from timetable)
compiled from student contributions (thanks) by Jeremy Lewis, revised 12/3/17.

Contents (of readings new to 5e):
24: Sarah Binder, "Stalemate" (2003)
25: Gregory Wawro & Eric Schickler, "Filibuster" (2006)
26: Michele Swers, "The Difference Women Make" (2002)
28: Paul Starobin, "Pork: A Time Honored Tradition Lives On"
29: John Ellwood and Eric Patashnik, “In Praise of Pork”
30: Senator John McCain, "Hey There! SenJohnMcCain is Using Twitter" (2009)
34: Michael Cairo, "The Imperial Presidency Triumphant" (2006)
36: Craig Rimmerman, "Rise of the Plebiscitary Presidency" (1993)
37: Gil Troy, "Leading From the Center" (2008)
38: Bradley Patterson, "White House Chief of Staff" (2000)
40: Paul Light, " A Government Ill Executed" (2008)
46: David Yalof, "Pursuit of Justices" (1999)
47: Richard Fallon, "The Dynamic Constitution" (2004)
59: Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, "Politicians Don't Pander"
60: David Moore, "Opinion Matters"

Students' Outlines
24: Sarah Binder, "Stalemate" (2003)

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25: Gregory Wawro & Eric Schickler, "Filibuster" (2006)
Notes by Justala Simpson, Fall 2017

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26: Michele Swers, "The Difference Women Make" (2002)

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28: Paul Starobin, "Pork: A Time Honored Tradition Lives On"

notes by Amanda Wineman, Fall 2011
-Pork is defined as “that which a member seeks for his own state or district but would not seek for anyone else's constituency.”
-“earmark”
-In the past, pork was easier to notice
-canals, highways, bridges and other infrastructure that was necessary was often the result of pork
-did not used to carry negative conotations
-James C. Miller III, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is concerned with how they will get a handle on the federal budget with so much money going to pork-barrel spending
-the people need pork to have necessary projects receive funds and attention
-pork is a “staple of the legislative process, lubricating the squeaky wheels of Congress by giving members a personal stake in major bills”
-Despite how pork was defined in the past (as a way to get public projects-usually infrastructure- completed) the definition has changed to identify three different kinds of pork
-GREEN PORK- supported by environmentalists; many of today's projects include sewer projects, waste-site cleanups, solar energy laboratories
-ACADEMIC PORK- special projects sponsored by lawmakers for campuses back home; lawmakers on Appropriations committees try and add or distribute pork that would benefit schools back home
-DEFENSE PORK- not new or uncommon; in the form of defense contracts and location of military installments
-one reason pork is hard to handle is that some see it as wasteful and others see it as necessary
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29: John Ellwood and Eric Patashnik, “In Praise of Pork”

Notes by Amanda Wineman, Fall 2011

-symbol of out-of-control Congress

-opponents are more concerned with the “welfare of the nation” and less with with individual districts
-some believe that removing large pork projects would not solve the budget crisis but would symbolize that Washington has the political will to reform its spending habits
-authors believe that pork can sometimes be wasteful, but pork “doled out strategically, can help to sweeten an otherwise unpalatable piece of legislation.”
-removing pork would result in hindering congressmen from doing what their constituents want, and therefore these efforts are heavily resisted
-removal of pork only has “superficial appeal”
-definition differs among political scientists
-Edward M. Gramlich- “one guy's pork is another guy's red meat.”
-David Mayhew- “congressional life consists largely of “a relentless search” for ways of claiming credit for making good things happen back home and thereby increasing the likelihood of remaining in office”
-helps incumbent
-“ribbon cutting”
-pork used well by Franklin  Roosevelt
-pork used poorly by Jimmy Carter; his efforts to eliminate pork were futile
-cut spending in Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs
-raise taxes
-pork is often an act of statesmanship not of sin
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30: Senator John McCain, "Hey There! SenJohnMcCain is Using Twitter" (2009)

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34: Michael Cairo, "The Imperial Presidency Triumphant" (2006)

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36: Craig Rimmerman, "Rise of the Plebiscitary Presidency" (1993)

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37: Gil Troy, "Leading From the Center" (2008)
Notes by Justala Simpson, Fall 2017

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38: Bradley Patterson, "White House Chief of Staff" (2000)

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40: Paul Light, " A Government Ill Executed" (2008)

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46: David Yalof, "Pursuit of Justices" (1999)

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47: Richard Fallon, "The Dynamic Constitution" (2004)



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59: Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, "Politicians Don't Pander"
notes by Michael Kasmarik, September 27, 2012

Background

• Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro provide a close examination of American politician’s nature towards the American public’s opinion. Instead of absorbing these opinions and using them to make policy, politician’s use those opinions and dissect them to create a stronger policy that will favor the party’s upstanding.
• Thus “pandering” becomes the word for describing this. Politicians ignore the public’s beliefs usually, creating a skewed version of what the people want.
• Their primary case for this reality was in the 1990s when the Clinton administration erupted during a scandal.
Argument
• In 1998 and 1999 President Bill Clinton was in the process of being impeached in the aftermath of a scandal involving his personal misbehavior. The Republican Party held the house majority during Clinton’s presidency. Overall the public did not approve of the President’s actions, yet there was enough of the population who still favored Clinton’s policies.
• For the Republicans, they took the public opinion against Clinton and used it to basically create articles intended for impeachment. The Republican’s entire goal was to get Clinton out of office. Unfortunately the efforts to impeach resulted in the party solely looking out for their personal interests rather than assessing a proper opinion. Disregard on the public opinion was vastly occurring.
• Politicians “assemble information on public opinion to design government policy.” Use research on public opinion to “pinpoint the most alluring words, symbols, and arguments in an attempt to move public opinion to support their desired policies.” Essentially the government only cares about what becomes the good for their party.
• Politician’s actions such as these are believed to impact the mass media. Meaning the news being told through the media has been designed to exploit the government’s feelings on issues and policies while disregarding what an average citizen wants to hear.
• 3 features of a political cycle: Washington officials manipulate the media to exaggerate conflicts because then their audience is more drawn in to listen. Political strategy involves threatening the personal well-being of individuals by making the stories far more intensified than reality. Cycle closes when the media’s coverage and public reaction create the politician’s desired action. Explaining that the government played the population in the political game. Thus giving them more public support.
• Government responsiveness to public opinion continues to lack as the decades roll on. Shapiro and Jacobs believe politicians are slipping away from their representing of the public. Each politician from their related party plays a game where the interest of their party comes first, and the public opinion only fuels their plans to create their own policy.


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60. David Moore, “Opinion Matters”
Notes by Linda Swayne, Fall 2011

• Written in 2008 after 2004-2005 polling on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge showed public ignorance and easily swayed opinions by different and leading questions posed
• Moore questions how well do polls measure what people are thinking
• Asking a single question poll rarely suffices; phrasing changes polling results with leading questions and different order of questions
• Pollsters got it way wrong in 2008 with Hillary Clinton / Barack Obama's New Hampshire primary outcome; she won 39% over Obama's 37% though polls forecast his win
• They didn't take into account last-minute Sunday TV ads and
• Non-response of public in polling was also a problem; due in part to answering machines, caller ID “screening calls” so perhaps Clinton supporters weren't reached
• More of the public using cell phones, which were historically excluded from polls, also affects polling results; Gallup began adding cell phone interviews in 2008 to reach young people
• Superficially held views versus cherished convictions need to be distinguished in survey questions; allowing public to admit they don't have an opinion will make polls more accurate
• Gender or race of interviewers and polls conducted by phone, online, through mail or in person make difference in responses
• George Gallup believed the right questions, objectively worded, could accurately measure the will of the people - “the pulse of democracy”
• Ultimately news media rely too heavily on polls; journalists are addicted to dramatic results, election “horse racing” and like sharply divided groups; they sometimes pump up false polling numbers to satisfy ratings; they need to rely less on poll reports


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