April 16, 2010

Ooh! Blogging from my blackberry? Welcome to the '90s...let's have some fun!

September 28, 2008

Paul Newman's Obit

This line was in Paul Newman's obituary today: "He loved drinking beer
and playing elaborate pranks on friends." Could one want anything better
to be said in remembrance?

September 20, 2008

Tony Blair on Jon Stewart

See it here.

May 06, 2007

pete@mcroberts.com has sent you a message.

The following email has been sent to you by pete@mcroberts.com
Interesting article about Gordon Brown, who will soon become the British Prime Minister upon Tony Blair's resignation. I am really interested in the way the leadership election will look!
By Christopher Adams, Political CorrespondentPublished: April 30 2007 22:17 | Last updated: April 30 2007 22:17
When Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair as prime minister at the end of June – as, barring a catastrophe, is certain to happen – he will still be something of an enigma for many British voters.
Within a few weeks, and after serving a decade as chancellor of the Exchequer, the deliberative strategist who made the Bank of England independent, shaped many of Labour's social and economic reforms and kept the pound out of the euro, will finally become the government's frontman.
This article can be found at:
"FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of The Financial Times.
Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2007

April 27, 2007

Study Guide

 Here are about 30 basic themes. This list is not exhaustive, but should serve as a reminder to you as to where we have gone. Thank you,


2007 Study Guide

Intro to American Gov’t

“Events, dear boy, events”



1)       Framing of the Country – Escape from Central Gov’t

2)       “Tyranny of the Majority” – changing nature of that term

3)       States as Key Players;  they are the central feature of the Constitution, and the national government derives from them

4)       The Civil War Amendments’ greatly expanding the power of the federal government

5)       “State Action” requirement of constitutional violation, and the ONE exception to that

6)       Locke/Jefferson – roots of political theory

7)       Parliament/Monarchy – roots of political practice

8)       Conception of equality and how it has changed from 1789 to 2007


1)       Establishment of Judicial Review – facts and aftereffects. Be prepared to detail specifically the facts leading up to the suit being filed. You should know who Marbury was, who Madison was, and who Marshall was.

2)       Explain why the suit was filed in the Supreme Court, instead of one of the ‘lower courts’ Congress established.

3)       Explain the difference between Appellate and Original Jurisdiction as it relates to MvM and the Judiciary Act.

4)       Explain the political tension the court was under (remember – John Marshall was appointed by Adams, who was just defeated by Jefferson). Explain the ‘two bad alternatives’ assumed that the court was under, and explain the ‘third option’ invented by Marshall. And be sure to use its proper name (Hint: J_______ R________).

5)       Difference between ‘state courts’ and ‘inferior/lower courts’

6)       Describe the meaning of ‘good behavior’ and what it might mean in our context.

7)       The Vice President typically presides over the US Senate. In the case of the impeachment of a President, the Chief Justice does. Why do you think this is?

8)       What is John Roberts’ job title?


1)       Nature of House v. Senate – which body represents what constituency?

2)       Two Chambers compared to England’s Parliament (will also be an ‘executive/presidency question). Why do we have a separation of powers? (Remember English/Colonial history here!)

3)       What is the appointment process and how is it similar to passing a bill?

4)       How are Senators elected? How were they elected, and why?

5)       How are Members of Congress elected, and  what process, held each ten years, determines how districts are set up? We spoke recently about an early reference to that process involving slavery and taxes. Be prepared to discuss that reference.

6)       Who is the leader of the House of Representatives and who is the Leader of the Senate? Which position do you feel is more important?

7)       Explain what processes a Senator can use to prevent something being passed.


1)       Who elects the President, and how are they chosen?

2)       What does the popular vote determine in the several states?

3)       What body determines the manner of elections for federal office?

4)       Who won the popular vote in the year 2000?

5)       Who won the popular vote in the year 2004?

6)       Name the only two Vice Presidents in history  (that we know of…I hear Walter Mondale has a mean temper) to have shot a person while in office.

7)       What is the group of people who collectively make up the Executive Branch called, and who hires and fires them?

8)       In Iowa, describe our process for selecting candidates for President

9)       Be prepared to offer your analyses of the differences between the six top candidates for President from both parties

April 09, 2007

Finals Schedule and Other Info

Class, we are on the home stretch. I hope that this schedule helps you prepare for this next full month. I have every faith that each of you will do a good job, not only on your exam, but during these weeks in which heavy participation is required.

Please note that there are two schedules listed below, one for the Tues/Thurs AM course, and one for Tues PM. Also please note that the Tues/Thurs class will meet in Black Hawk Hall as we ordinarily would on Tues AM, but will then move to our new room in Grundy 203. For the Thurs. PM class, there is no change.

Also please note that although I make every attempt to check my email once a day, that is no longer the best way to reach me. If you have a question, please feel free to call me locally at 961-1260. I encourage you to do so when you have a question.

Now, let’s get started!


Tues 10 Apr: Written M v M questions (see below) and finish The Bill discussion.

Th 12 Apr: Talk about M v M

Tues 17 Apr: Ch. 11 (The Presidency)

Th 19 Apr: M v M paper due, discuss study guide

Tues 24 Apr: I hand out study guide

Th 26 Apr: Discuss exam

1 Apr: Oral Exam

8 Apr: Final Exam

Tues Night Class:

10 Apr: Ch. 11 (The Presidency)

17 Apr: Bill Discussion (I will also hand out written questions for Bill paper)

24 Apr: Oral Exam Study Guide

1 May: Discuss Oral Exam, turn in Bill paper

8 May: Oral (Final) Exam

For Tuesday, 10 Apr AM Class, please use the following as a guide for your Marbury v. Madison written assignment. This is not a series of questions, rather a reminder as to main issues we’ve discussed. Please give me a two page, single spaced paper, with five questions you have raised during our discussions and through the reminders below. Then, answer them! Your paper should have no more than one inch margins and have 12 point font. You have a lot of leeway with this – simply put, spot issues, describe them, then answer the questions you have raised in the context of our classroom lectures and your own thoughts.

As a reminder,


History and Constitutional Basis for the Supreme Court

Constitutional Limits on the Court’s Power

Facts Behind Marbury v. Madison

The Change in the Court’s Power

How does a case reach the Supreme Court and how is it decided?


Persuasion – then and now – what’s the power of the court?

What does Judicial Review really mean?

The majority on the Court has changed several times in the past years. As a result, decisions made in the past – were they done today – would turn out differently. As a result, the Court clearly has the power to change the law at their discretion. Do they? If so, why, and if not, why not?

March 04, 2007

Internet and Politics!!

Sweet home Al-Obama!?