POL 104 American Government Assignments (Fall 2013)

For the Final Exam:

The final exam will be in exactly the same format as the two mid-terms. The final will cover only the material assigned and discussed since the last mid-term. Let me know if you plan to take it on Wednesday so that I may make enough, but not too many, copies.

I want to tell you all again how much I enjoyed the course. I truly hope you got something from the course and found it of interest. I appreciated all of the effort that you put into the course and the hard work you are doing to get your degree. Have a good Semester Break.

For the Class of December 4th:

For the last class, please read (1) the first part of chapter seven on interest groups (pages 226-243), (2) chapter eight on campaigns and elections, and (3) Federalist #10. A bit longer than normal for the last class.

To guide you through Federalist #10, look for answers to the following questions:

  1. How does James Madison define "factions"?
  2. Why are factions a particular problem for democracies? All kinds of democracies?
  3. Why shouldn't we focus on eliminating the causes of faction?
  4. Can we have any control over the effects of factions in democracies?
  5. What two devices were built into the design of the United States Constitution to address the problem of factions?

You might find this article by Mike Wise of the Washington Post and interesting follow-up to the article by Jonathan Rauch on prejudice. Not assigning it. Just saying.

And this one on the powe of interest groups to influence political policy: "Vegas Union Blocks UFC From NY".

For the Class of November 20th:

In chapter six ("Politics and the Media"), please read the following pages: 188-193, 196-199 (up to "Politics and the Press"), 201-204 (from "Political Knowledge and Attitudes" to "Believability"). The articles to read are in the Canon-Coleman-Mayer reader: Markus Prior's "News and Entertainment"; Tom Price's "Future of Journalism"; and Paul Starr's "Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)" (pages 340 to 363 in the reader). I think you will enjoy the articles. Short Answer essay quiz.

For the Class of November 13th:

We will continue with political behavior this week. Please read (1) pages 153-165 and 172-181 of chapter 5 of the textbook (we will skip the middle section on "political socialization" and the two vocabulary terms that refer to that section), (2) the article by Benjamin Ginsburg on polling that I handed out, and (3) the very short article in the Canon-Coleman-Mayer reader by Richard Morin, “Choice Words: If You Can’t Understand Our Poll Questions, Then How Can We Understand Your Answers?” The quiz will be a True-False Multiple Choice quiz with a question or two from each of the readings.

For the Class of November 6th:

MID-TERM EXAM. The mid-term will be exactly like the first mid-term that you took and will cover all of the materials that were assigned for October 2d (chapter 12 on the judiciary and the O'Brien article on the Supreme Court) and all the classes since the first mid-term. The class lecture material for this material will also be on the exam. In other words, everything we have studied that was not on the first mid-term will be on this exam: chapters 12, 3, 4, & 7; the articles by O'Brien, Rauch, Wilson, Judis, and Pomper; and the Johnson Supreme Court opinion. There will be a true-false question and/or a multiple choice question on the Johnson case, but not a short answer essay question.

There will be questions on each of the assigned chapters and readings, and I try to ask a proportional number of questions on each. Thus, out of the ten True-False, ten Multiple Choice, and ten Definition questions there will generally be at least two True-False, two Multiple Choice, and three vocabulary terms to be defined from each chapter of the textbook that we studied. Treat the Pomper article as part of chapter 7: I will use it for true-false and/or multiple choice questions. I may also use it for one of the short answer essay questions. If I do not use one of the other readings for a short answer essay question, I will use it for a true-false or multiple choice question. Most of the exam will cover material that we have discussed in class and that was in the reading assignments, but a few questions are based solely on the readings and a few solely on the lectures. I ask questions that I really believe someone who has taken a college course on American Government should know: I do not ask obscure facts. (You might think some of the questions are obscure, but that is definitely not my intention.)

For the vocabulary, since we only read parts of chapters 3 and 7, you are responsible for only the vocabulary that was included in the assigned parts of the chapters.

For the short answer essays, you should be able to write one paragraph of three or four sentences for a ten point question and two paragraphs of three or four sentences each for the twenty point question.

For the Class of October 30th:

Since we decided to have the mid-term on November 6 rather than next week (October 30), I have rearranged the assignment schedule a bit. As I indicated in class, I want to get to the subject of political parties in chapter 7 of the text, but chapter 7 also discusses interest groups, which I do not want to discuss at this time. Plus, at this point I cannot get the political statistics sheet that I told you about presented properly on the website. So, the assignment for class is the following:

Please read (1) pages 243 to 260 in the Turner text and (2) Gerald Pomper's article on "Parliamentary Government in the United States," pages 427 to 438 in the Canon-Coleman-Mayer reader. You are responsible only for the chapter seven vocabulary on "Political Parties" (see the bold heading halfway down the vocabulary list—I moved the vocabulary sheets directly below this assignment). The quiz will be a definitions quiz, and the political statistics material will be handed out in class.

The Washington Times had a front page article today that you might be interested in: "Libertarians: Don't Call Us Tea Partyers." Now don't get excited: this is not a new assignment! This is simply news item relevant to what we are studing in class, and I thought you would be interested in it. (Actually, I thought you should be interested in it, but then I am always optimistic.)

Course Outline

Turner-Stephenson Text Vocabulary Lists

Introduction and Chapter 1, the Constitution

Chapter 2, Federalism

Chapter 3, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

Chapter 4, Political Ideologies

Chapter 5, Public Opinion & Political Participation

Chapter 6, Politics and the Media

Chapter 7, Interest Groups and Political Parties

Chapter 8, Campaigns and Elections

Chapter 9, Congress

Chapter 10, The Presidency

Chapter 11, Bureaucracies

Chapter 12, Supreme Court

Chapter 13, Public Policy

Chapter 14, Public Policy and Economics

For the Class of October 23d:

Please read (1) chapter four on political ideologies in the Turner text and (2) the articles by James Wilson (pages 443-454) and John Judis (pages 456-463) in the Canon-Coleman-Mayer reader. You should also read the introduction to the Wilson and Judis articles by the editors, pages 439-440. Quiz will be a short answer essay quiz on the Wilson-Judis readings.

For the Class of October 16th:

We will continue with the focus on the judiciary by reading part of chapter 3 on civil liberties and civil rights, an article from the reader The Enduring Debate, and a short court opinion. Chapter 3 covers too many different areas for us to cover in one class, so this semester we will look at First Amendment issues and, in the second half of the chapter, at equal protection issues. The reading will also focus on discrimination, as will the Supreme Court opinion. Quiz will be True-False Multiple Choice covering all three readings.

Please read (1) pages 81 to 92 and 102 to 116 of chapter 3 of the textbook, (2) Jonathan Rauch's article "In Defense of Prejudice," pages 150 to 157 of the Enduring Debate text, and (3) Parts I.A and I.B, II.A, and III of the opinion in Johnson v. California. If you wish to read the whole opinion in Johnson, I have also excerpted parts of the two dissents so that Part II.B of the opinion makes some sense.

Review the study questions following the Rauch article. For the court opinion, consider the following:

  1. Who won the case?
  2. What did the winner win?
  3. What was the decision or judgment of the court?
  4. What was the issue or question that the court was asked to decide?
  5. Did the court decide that the California Prisons policy was unconstitutional? that it was constitutional?

This is one of those "supervisory" opinions that the Supreme Court renders from time to time. Read the opinion carefully.

For the Class of October 9th:

MID-TERM EXAM. The mid-term will cover all of the materials that have been assigned since the first class and all of the class lecture materials—except the material on chapter 12 and the federal courts that we covered on October 2d! There will be questions on each of the chapters and readings, and I try to ask a proportional number of questions on each. Thus, out of the ten True-False, ten Multiple Choice, and ten Definition questions there will generally be one or two True-False, one or two Multiple Choice, and one or two vocabulary terms to be defined from each chapter of the textbook that we studied. There will be one short answer essay and perhaps one or two True-False and Multiple Choice questions on each of the other readings that were assigned. Most of the exam will cover material that we have discussed in class and that was in the reading assignments, but a few questions are based solely on the readings and a few solely on the lectures. I ask questions that I really believe someone who has taken a college course on American Government should know: I do not ask obscure facts. (You might think some of the questions are obscure, but that is definitely not my intention.)

The questions are based mostly on basic facts and on definitions that we have discussed in class. For the multiple choice questions, review those terms that appeared in series: e.g., the four types of congressional committees; the different concepts of democracy; the constitutional amendments that tinkered with the presidential election and succession; and so on. These types of terms make great multiple choice questions! A couple of the true-false and multiple-choice questions will be based directly on questions in the "Pop Quiz" section at the end of each chapter in the text, but most of the test questions will not. The four readings on whch the short answer essay questions are based are Federalist #39, Forrest McDonald's "An Office Created For and By Him," the Washington Post article "Watch him pull a USDA-mandated rabbit disaster plan out of his hat," and Federalist #51. For the short answer essays, you should be able to write one paragraph of three or four sentences for a ten point question and two paragraphs of three or four sentences each for the twenty point question.

For the Class of October 2d:

Just to recap: the mid-term exam will be on October 9th, not October 2d. The material from the assignment for October 2d will not be on the exam.

For October 2d, please read chapter 12 of the textbook on the federal judiciary and chapter 41 of the Canon, Coleman, and Mayer reader The Enduring Debate, "The Court and American Life," by David O'Brien. We will begin using this reader for most of the additional assigned readings throughout the rest of the course. Let's make the quiz a definitions quiz on the vocabulary in chapter 12 with a bonus question based on the O'Brien article.

For the Class of September 25th:

The chapter on public policy (chapter 14) and Federalist 51 are the assigned readings for Wednesday. We will also finish discussing how the government agencies produce their rules and regulations (last part of chapter 11), as exemplified in the magic rabbit regulations. Study questinos for Federalist 51 follow.

A few study questions to lead you through Federalist 51:

  1. What is the initial question that Madison addresses?
  2. According to Madison, why should the basic power of government be separated?
  3. Does he insist on a strict separation and independence of the fundamental powers of government?
  4. How does he answer his original question?
  5. What is Madison's view of human nature, or at least of the nature of most politicians?
  6. How does his view of the nature of politicians inform his suggested design of republican government?
  7. In the final two paragraphs of the essay, Madison provides two additional reasons that the American system prevents the concentration of political power. What is the first argument Madison makes?
  8. .
  9. What is Madison's second argument? (The second argument recaps the case Madison made in Federalist #10 for an "extended" republic.)

For the Class of September 18th:

We have finally caught up to the syllabus. For Wednesday, there are three things to read: (1) chapter 11 on the bureaucracy, (2) chapter 2 on federalism, and (3) this article on the magic rabbit disaster plan (because we need articles for the short answer essays on the exam and because I think you will enjoy it).

The quiz will be a definitions quiz on the vocabulary in chapter 11. Please review the following instructions on writing good definitions:

Instructions for definitions quizzes.

One complete sentence for each term is sufficient. A definition is more than a true statement about the term; a definition captures the essence or the nature of the term being defined, and this is done by describing the genus and differentia of the term. In defining a term, the genus of the definition is the type of thing that the term is—the general class or category to which the term belongs. For example, the genus of the term "executive privilege" is "a right or a power of the president"; that is, it is one of the many rights or powers possessed by a president of the United States. The differentia of a definition is the particular characteristic that distinguishes the term in question from the other members of the class or category. The differentia that sets "executive privilege" apart from the other rights of the president is that it is his "right to withhold certain information from Congress and the courts." Thus, a good definition would be the following: “Executive privilege is the right of a president to withhold certain information from Congress and the courts.” This definition is a complete sentence; it is in genus and differentia form; and, it says more than something true about the term—it captures its essential nature. On the quiz I will give you eight vocabulary terms: you pick five to define.

For the Class of September 11th:

Please read (1) chapter 10 of the Turner text on the Presidency and (2) the article by Forrest McDonald, "An Office Created For and By Him," which I handed out in class. The quiz will be a short answer essay quiz on the McDonald article. A "short answer essay" is one paragraph of thre or four good, informative sentences. As you read the article, identify the several different traditions or conventions that George Washington started during his term as President and the reasons for each.

Be sure to download the vocabulary list for each assigned chapter and study the definitions that are given in the text or in class. A large portion of each mid-term exam will be based on the definitions.

The assignment for each upcoming class will be posted here in red. Directly below the assignment for the class of September 4 is a link for the Course Outline, which provides an outline for my lectures on each subject and chapter. Directly below that are links for the vocabulary sheets for each chapter.

Since we covered the material in the text's "Introduction" during the first class, during the second class we will focus on the formation of the Constitution (chapter 1 of the textbook) and on Congress (chapter 9). Be sure to get your textbooks—hardback, e-text, or rental—at the campus bookstore or online from BVT Publishing (BVT Publishing) as soon as possible.

The assignment for Wednesday, September 4, is the Introduction, chapter 1, chapter 9 of the Turner textbook, and Federalist #39, which is linked right here. The first quiz (on Wednesday) will be a Multiple Choice-True-False quiz. All quizzes will be given at the beginning of class: no make-ups. Inform me immediately if you will have trouble getting to class on time this semester.

Consider the following as you read Federalist #39:

Madison organizes the essay on the basis of two questions posed by opponents of the 1787 constitution.

  1. What question does Madison first address in the essay?
  2. How does Madison define "republican government"?
  3. How does Madison go about answering the question and what is his final answer?
  4. What is the next question he addresses?
  5. How does Madison define "federal government" and "national government" in Federalist 39?
  6. How does Madison go about answering the second question and what is his final answer?

I may also ask you these questions, so jot down short possible responses as you read the essay.

Polstats 2013 Grade Calculation Fall and Spring Grade Calculation Summer Session

Justice Scalia's opinion in Florida v. Jardines, decided by the Supreme Court on March 26th.

Jardines v. Florida. If you read or download the Jardines case from the Supreme Court website, you will notice that it comes in four parts:

  1. the two-page syllabus or headnote at the beginning of the materials;
  2. the ten-page opinion by Justice Scalia;
  3. the five-page concurrence of Justice Kagan; and,
  4. the twelve-page dissent by Justice Alito

Scalia's opinion is organized in typical fashion: (1) an initial statement of the issue in the case, (2) a summary of the facts and the prior judicial actions in the case in Part I, (3) an answer to the question or issue with supporting rationale in the different sections of Part II, (4) a pointed response to, and rejection of, some of the arguments of the losing party in Part III, and (5) a short restatement of the holding and decision in the case.

The headnote is helpful in getting an overall understanding of the case, but I would like you to read Justice Scalia's opinion in full and as much of Kagan's and Alito's opinions as necessary to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the precise question that Scalia says the Court is addressing?
  2. Where did this case come from?
  3. Which court(s) decided the question below? How did those courts rule (what did they say?)?
  4. Who appealed (or petitioned the Supreme Court to review) the lower court decision(s)?
  5. What is the Court's answer to the question presented (this is the "holding")?
  6. What reasons does the Court give to support its answer (holding)?
  7. Who won the case before the Supreme Court? This is the decision or judgment of the Court.
  8. Why does Kagan write a separate opinion? Does she disagree with Scalia about the decision or the rationale for the decision that Scalia sets forth?
  9. Is Scalia's opinion the "opinion of the Court" if Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg write separately?
  10. Why does Alito dissent? What is his main disagreement with Scalia's opinion? with Kagan's opinion?

I think some of you will be interested in these two articles: United States Debt Held by China and Bulk of America's debt held not by China but by U.S. itself.

Increase of Government Employees since 1942

The quiz on Wednesday will be a definitions quiz on the vocabulary in chapter 10. (Quiz on Thursday will be a Manager's Special: I'm the manager.) Please follow these instructions for the definitions quizzes:

Instructions for definitions quizzes.

One complete sentence for each term is sufficient. A definition is more than a true statement about the term; a definition captures the essence or the nature of the term being defined, and this is done by describing the genus and differentia of the term. In defining a term, the genus of the definition is the type of thing that the term is—the general class or category to which the term belongs. For example, the genus of the term "executive privilege" is "a right or a power of the president"; that is, it is one of the many rights or powers possessed by a president of the United States. The differentia of a definition is the particular characteristic that distinguishes the term in question from the other members of the class or category. The differentia that sets "executive privilege" apart from the other rights of the president is that it is his "right to withhold certain information from Congress and the courts." Thus, a good definition would be the following: “Executive privilege is the right of a president to withhold certain information from Congress and the courts.” This definition is a complete sentence; it is in genus and differentia form; and, it says more than something true about the term—it captures its essential nature. On the quiz I will give you eight vocabulary terms: you pick five to define.

2013 Budget Charts from zerohedge.com

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/02/13/us/politics/2013-budget-proposal-graphic.html

http://media.cq.com/media/2012/fiscal2013_budget/

There are many websites devoted to the 2012 presidential primaries. A couple that I have found useful in learning about the presidential nomination process are the Wikipedia website "Republican Presidential Primaries, 2012, and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) calendar of primaries and caucuses. The Wikipedia site lists the primaries and caucuses by date, and the FEC site lists them alphabetically by state.

Wikipedia Presidential Primaries Article

Of the many polling organizations, two well respected ones are The Cook Political Report and The Rasmussen Reports. Check them out.

A good general source of electoral politics is RealClearPolitics.

We will list sources for the economic crisis later in the semester.

An introductory course on American government focuses a great deal on basic facts and concepts. The concepts that you should learn for this course are listed on the vocabulary sheets below. (The textbook contains a list of "Key Terms" at the end of each chapter, but I am holding you responsible for the terms on the Vocabulary sheets, not the list of Key Terms in the book.) You might want to download these vocabulary lists as we go through the semester and make notes on them during class.

Election 2002

Voter Values

If you are interested in following political (and other) polls, the following are two good sources:

Gallup Polls

Rasmussen Political Polling Reports

Not all big lobbying efforts succeed.

The assignment for Monday is to read chapter 14 and the following three newspaper articles on the budget situation:

Monster Interest on the National Debt (February 17, 2011);

Government Shutdown article (April 4, 2011) The link at the end of this article to "Full Coverage of Government Shutdown" contains all the information you would ever want to have about what a shutdown entails.

Budget Battle Came Down to Three Men and their Weaknesses.

Though not assigned, you may be interested in the Status of FY 2011 Appropriations Bills.

FY 2012 Budget Graphic

To guide you through Federalist #10, look for answers to the following questions:

  1. How does James Madison define "factions"?
  2. Why are factions a particular problem for democracies? All kinds of democracies?
  3. Why shouldn't we focus on eliminating the causes of faction?
  4. Can we have any control over the effects of factions in democracies?
  5. What two devices were built into the design of the United States Constitution to address the problem of factions?

For Federalist #39. Consider the following as you read the essay:

Madison organizes the essay on the basis of two questions posed by opponents of the 1787 constitution.

  1. What question does Madison first address in the essay?
  2. How does Madison define "republican government"?
  3. How does Madison go about answering the question and what is his final answer?
  4. What is the next question he addresses?
  5. How does Madison define "federal government" and "national government" in Federalist 39?
  6. How does Madison go about answering the second question and what is his final answer?

I may also ask you these questions, so jot down short possible responses as you read the essay.

A few study questions to lead you through Federalist 51:

  1. What is the initial question that Madison addresses?
  2. According to Madison, why should the basic power of government be separated?
  3. Does he insist on a strict separation and independence of the fundamental powers of government?
  4. How does he answer his original question?
  5. What is Madison's view of human nature, or at least of the nature of most politicians?
  6. How does his view of the nature of politicians inform his suggested design of republican government?
  7. In the final two paragraphs of the essay, Madison provides two additional reasons that the American system prevents the concentration of political power. What is the first argument Madison makes?
  8. .
  9. What is Madison's second argument? (The second argument recaps the case Madison made in Federalist #10 for an "extended" republic.)

"Congress's Afterthought, Wall Street's Trillion Dollars," by Appelbaum and Irwin.

Election 2002. Compare the points made in these two older articles (2000 and 2002) with the results reflected in the exit polls of the 2004 and 2008 elections. Are the conclusions in the two articles still true (if they ever were)?

Additional Information about the Course:

Miscellaneous materials on the 2011 Budget Crisis:

Obama at Risk of Losing Liberal Support

Obama's New Approach: Entitlements on the Table

Budget Battle Came Down to Three Men and their Weaknesses

Shutdown Looks More Likely

Government Shutdown article (April 4, 2011)

Budget Impasse article

"Without a budget, Living in limbo"

House Approves 6th Supplemental March 15th

Miscellaneous Materials on Campaigns and Elections

Lobbyists as Chief Fund-Raisers

Legislation Responding to Citizens United v. FEC Decision

Gallup Polls

Miscellaneous Materials on Congress

Speakers of the House of Representatives

Congressional Elections, 1900 to 2012

John Dean on "Going Nuclear" and the Senate Filibuster

Example of Gerrymandering: North Carolina Congressional District 12

Robert Kaiser on Congress ("Three Reasons Congress is Broken").

Here's an article on Congressional Staffers that might be of interest to you.

Miscellaneous Materials on the Bureaucracy

"Obama's ex-aides profit from experience".

Questioning the Cattle Call: The Congressional Review Act

Jonathan Turley on the "rise of the fourth branch of government."

Bureaucratic Regulation at its Best!

Gun Law

Electronic Frontier Foundation Analysis or Center for Democracy and Technology Summary and Analysis or the Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research. See also report of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, July, 2003, on complaints arising fron the Patriot Act, Public Law 107-5.