Web Assignments
Introduction to American Politics and Government
Government 101
Fall 2003

For each web assignment, please write a short response paper that answers the questions.  

Required Web Assignment #1, Constitutional Scavenger Hunt

This exercise is intended to encourage you to read the Constitution very closely.Answer all the questions, print out your answers, and bring them to class.Make sure you cite the article and section of the Constitution where you found the answer.

  1. Where must bills for raising revenue originate?
  2. Of the enumerated powers granted to Congress in Article I, Section 8, how many would you classify as economic/commercial (think designed to promote or faciliate trade or business), political, military, or other?
  3. The original Constitution explicitly mentions only 1 “Right”. What is it?
  4. What is the constitutional criteria for removing a president from office?
  5. Does the Constitution give the Supreme Court the power of judicial review?
  6. What do Article I, Section 10, Article VI and Amendment X state about the relationship of the federal government and the states?
  7. How is the president chosen? How are electors chosen?
  8. The original Constitution addresses slavery in three specific sections, how they count for purpose of representation, the importation of slaves, and the return of escaped slaves. What did the Constitution say about each of these issues? What are the exact words the Constitution uses to identify slaves in each of these sections (This is trickier than it sounds since the words “slaves” and “slavery” are not mentioned in the constitution.)
  9. What does the Constitution or any of its amendments say about income taxes?
  10. Can a person who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States be elected as a Senator or Representative in Congress or hold any office in the federal or state government? How is such a disability removed? Any ideas why Congress passed this amendment?
  11. Which groups or individuals have gained the right to vote via an amendment to the Constitution? Cite the specific group, amendment, and year it passed. 
  12. What section of the Constitution states 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?
  13. In reading the Constitution, was there anything you came across that you did not know about before?

Web Assignment #2, Finding Media Bias

You have 2 options for finding media bias.

Option 1:The Media Watchdogs Assignment

Take a look at the two watchdog groups. One of them claims that there is a left-wing bias in the media and the other one claims there is a right-wing bias. Which side has a more convincing argument? Which one of the groups do you agree with and why? Is it possible that they both make valid arguments?Have the watchdog sites influenced the way you view the sites of the mainstream media?

http://www.aim.orgAccuracy in Media, a conservative media watchdog group. Go to the News/Publications section and click on AIM Report.

http://www.fair.org/Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. A national liberal watchdog group detailing media bias and censorship; this is primarily a site full of FAIR’s own reports and magazine.Go to the EXTRA! Section and click on one of the news articles that looks interesting.

Option 2: "The Deliberately Biased Media." No doubt you’ve heard charges of bias in the media. Why not examine how intentionally ‘biased’ media write about the world. Select an article or editorial in both Mother Jones or The Nation and The National Review (if possible, on the same subject). Briefly summarize the article and react to it. Now, pick an article from the mainstream press for comparison. Do you see differences in news coverage between the ideological press and the mainstream media? Explain.

Biased Media

http://www.motherjones.comMother Jones Magazine interactive web site
http://www.thenation.com/The Nation is arguably America’s premier Left Wing Magazine.It includes left (not liberal) perspectives on politics and current affairs.

http://www.nationalreview.com/ The National Review Online—America’s Conservative Magazine.

Mainstream Media

http://public.wsj.com/home.html Wall Street Journal
http://www.nytimes.com/New York Times

Web Assignment #3 Congress as a Representative Institution

In “The Electoral Connection”, David Mayhew offers a pretty specific set of guidelines to incumbent members of Congress on how to ensure their reelection (advertising, credit claiming, and position taking).The question is, do representatives actually do these things?  

To find out, I want you to go to the House of Representatives web site http://www.house.gov/and click on members’ office.This will list all the representatives by name.  Clicking on a name takes you to the representatives’ web page.Different representatives will have very different web pages, but look around for instances of advertising, credit claiming, and position taking. Good places to look are the press gallery or press release section, constituents pages, photo gallery, constituent services.  I think you will find it pretty fun and interesting.

In your response paper,
1.  Choose two representatives from different parties and different parts of the country and compare their web pages.  
2.  Does each representative engage in advertising, credit claiming, and position taking?  Provide examples of each.
3.  Can you tell what party the representative is from based on their web page?  
4.  What is your impression of each representative from the web page?  What comes first, their district or public policy?

Web Assignment #4-  The Democratic Primary

The purpose of this assignment is for you to get an understanding of how our presidential nomination process works.  Since Republicans already have their candidate, we will focus on the Democratic primary.  

1.  Select a Democratic Candidate.  Either pick one you are interested in or go to
SelectSmart.com answer the list of nearly 20 questions, click the button, and the site will identify which of the 2004 candidates you agree with the most.  Project Vote Smart: Presidential Election 2004   This site provided a great directory of the 2000 candidates -- with basic biographical information, issue survey responses, calendar and links -- and is now doing the same for 2004.

Democratic Candidates for President
Howard Dean
Governor of Vermont, Liberal
John Edwards
Senator from NC
Dick Gephardt
former Leader of House Democrats
Bob Graham
Senator from Florida
John Kerry
Senator from Massachusetts
Dennis Kucinich
House member from Ohio, former Mayor of Cleveland
Joe Lieberman
Senator from Connecticut, Gore's VP candidate
Carol Moseley Braun
former Senator from Illinois, first African-American female Senator
Al Sharpton
Reverend and social activist
Gen. Wesley Clark

former 4-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander

2.  Go to your candidate's web site.  

What are their key issues? Why do they want you to support their candidacy?  What kind of Democrat are they?  What is their campaign strategy?  Are their ideas "fresh and exciting"?  Do they give you ideas for how you can participate in the campaign?  It is also worth looking at
Slate's Campaign 2004 Field Guide   which has several series of short features explaining who the 2004 presidential candidates are, what they're saying, and where they propose to take the country, to get an outside perspective.

3.  How is your candidate doing?
 Check out these sites

What are the barometers or measures journalists and others observers use to identify who is doing well?
How is your candidate doing according to journalists?
Does this seem like a good way to choose a president?

NHPrimary.com - A cooperative site from NH.com and the Nashua Telegraph. Think of this as a one-stop site for keeping up with all the latest developments in the important New Hampshire primary race.

The New Republic Primary  

Political Wire 2004 Campaign Archives

ABC's The Note  

4.  Will your candidate get the nomination?  Check out the Iowa Presidential Nomination Market where you can purchase shares/bet on which Democratic candidate you think will win the nomination. It has proven in the past to be a fairly accurate predictor of who will win.  

5.  Want More?  Check out C-Span's Road to the White House  covering the various Presidential candidates. Constantly updated.

Web Assignment #10, The President in Action

How do Presidents Govern?  To answer this question, go to the White House web site (http://www.whitehouse.gov/) and look at the web site.

, White House news (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/)
  1. How does the president’s presentation of self compare with the individual members’ of Congress on their web pages.  What would Greenstein say about W's presentation of self?
  2. Next go to the press releases and briefings in the briefing room, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/briefings/ What issues is the president or his assistants talking about? What does this page suggest about the importance of the media to the modern day presidency? 
  3. Next go the Your Government section, http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/, and look at the Executive Office of the President section.  Check out the various offices, especially the Office of Management and Budget.  The two areas to examine within OMB are the
    1. Statements of Administration Policy (on lower right part of web page)
    2. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Regulatory Matters.  
--what do these two pages suggestion about the imperial presidency?
4.  Email the Administration using one of the three options:

President George W. Bush: president@whitehouse.gov
Vice President Richard Cheney: vice.president@whitehouse.gov

White House Web Mail