Thursday, January 14, 2016

3.3 State of the Union

1. The longest spoken State of the Union is Bill Clinton's speech in 1995.
The longest written State of the Union is Jimmy Carter's work in 1981.
2. 1973 was the last year a State of the Union was written.
3. Bill Clinton and Obama both liked to use lots of words in their speeches, making their ideas complex instead of short and sweet.
4. Carter wrote and spoke his State of the Unions, while modern presidents no longer write out their State of the Unions.

Bully Pulpit
1. The bully pulpit is the way in which presidents are given the most powerful voice and place to persuade the American people and politicians to support their policies.
2. No member of Congress or the Supreme Court and stand alone and speak his or her mind like the president can.
3. Although Obama has made many more public comments than any 19th century president, the pattern is still the same. Even with the bully pulpit, public opinion about the president is going to decline throughout his or her term. Congress is not easily persuaded by the president.
4. The media greatly influences the public. Journalists filter through the president's comments and present them to the people.
5. Leaders could not alter public moods in their favor. They could only contribute to and benefit from the moods that already existed.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

3.2 "The Boss Wants Gun Control"

1. The Attorney General is the head of the US Department of Justice. He or she is the main legal advisor to the government and represents the country in legal proceedings.
2. If there is a Republican president next term, he will likely reverse Obama's actions right when stepping into office. Lawmakers will challenge new executive actions in court. A congressional Republican even threatened to block funding for the Justice Department to stop the executive actions.
3. Guns can easily be purchased at gun shows. Many people can sell guns without a federal license. People can also purchase a gun from a friend.
5. There are not many people helping running background checks. People purchasing firearms through a legal entity are able to avoid background checks.
6. The changes can tighten the gun show loophole and increase the efficiency of the federal background system to avoid cases from falling through. Obama's actions will not stop all people from purchasing guns illegally, but it can at least stop some people.
7. Many Republican congressmen are not interested in getting any gun laws passed, so it is difficult for any lawmaker to pass laws about gun control. The NRA also plays a role in keeping Congress from passing helpful gun laws. The bills are too heavily negotiated and will not pass.
8. States have their own budget issues, so they do not fully comply to the federal background check system and some aspects of gun owners' past may not turn up in reports. States have not taken very much action, because they are afraid that their citizens will not agree. There are some states that have tried getting stricter gun laws, but other states have made gun laws looser.
9. It would take decades for the mild gun control measures proposed to make a significant impact.
10. To have a more immediate impact, the US would have to find a way to quickly remove the number of guns in circulation.

3.1 Congress in 2015

1. They changed the main federal statute governing K-12 education and the federal disability insurance system and settled the federal highway funding and Medicare payments. There were many tax changes.
2. There were many Democrats in Congress, and Obama was president. This allowed more bills to be passed and for the Congress to work together better.
3. The leaders have stopped trying to make Obama look bad, because they are running against Hilary Clinton, not Obama. The Republican leaders do not really like the GOP candidates, so they are not super interested in helping them.
4. Policies can be successful on both sides. If both Republicans and Democrats are getting things accomplished, both sides win.
5. Republicans won business tax victories that were important to them, while Democrats won tax cuts for the working poor that they wanted. Both sides had to let the other side push up the budget deficit, but neither side cared much about the deficit.
6. He says that lawmaking in Congress has been behind closed doors with much secrecy.
7. Policy makers have made sure nobody on the outside knows what deals are being discussed. Consequently, outside groups have less opportunity and incentive to act as spoilers or draw red lines. People often do not know about deals until the vote is held.