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.
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 these 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.
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
Here is the Course Outline that I will follow throughout the course. Note: The outline is organized on the basis of the consecutive chapters of the textbook, but we will be taking several of the chapters out of turn. You may want to print the outline and copy notes directly onto your copy.
Here are instructions for two recent exams given in the course: all of the exams in the course have the same format: ten True-False questions, ten Multiple Choice questions, ten Definitions, and four Short-Answer Essay questions:
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. There will be questions on each of the chapters and readings, and I try to ask a proportional number of questions on each. There will be ten True-False questions (2 points each), ten Multiple Choice questions (2 points each), ten Definitions (2 points each), and four Short Answer Essay questions (three of which are worth 10 points, one of which is worth 20 points). Total: 110 points. 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 essential 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 mid-term will cover chapters 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, & 12 of the text, plus the Introduction, and Federalist 39 & 51, Forrest McDonald's newspaper article on George Washington, and the two newspaper articles on Pentagon Brownies and the Farmland Conservation Act that I handed out on Monday evening.
The final exam will be in exactly the same format as the mid-term. It will cover all of the assigned material in chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 and the following readings: (1) Federalist 10, (2) the excerpts from Prior, Price, and Starr, (3) the article "Voter Values" (Why did wealthy people vote Democratic and poor people vote Republican?), and (4) the article "Republican Operative Sentenced to Two Years" (What was Tyler Harber guilty of doing and why did his actions violate the Federal Election Campaign Act?). (This is the same article as the one linked to Campaign Finance Fraud below.)
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. On the exam, I will give you sixteen and you pick ten.
Grade Calculation Fall and Spring Semesters
Grade Calculation Summer Session
Please read (1) pages 188-205 and 210-216 of chapter six of the textbook and (2) the handout (three excerpts from articles by Prior, Price, and Starr) on news and entertainment.
Please read the following sections of the textbook. I suggest that you read the sections of chapter 5 first, then the sections of chapter 4. Please read chapter 5, pages 153-165 and 172-181, and chapter 4, pages 123-130 and 133-140.
Sentiment for a Third Party Rasmussen
Gallup Party Affiliation
Virginia GOP Has Choice of State Presidential Primary or State Convention.
For Monday please read (1) pages 386-411 of chapter 11 on the bureaucracy, (2) pages 68-75 of chapter 2 (fiscal federalism), which we did not read earlier when we read chapter 2, and (3) Federalist 51.
A few bureaucratic horror stories:
The magic rabbit disaster plan
2015 EPA Proposed Regs on Ethanol.
"Obama's ex-aides profit from experience".
An alternative to the legislative veto: The Congressional Review Act
Jonathan Turley on the "rise of the fourth branch of government."
Please read the Introduction, pages 13 to 39 of Chapter One, and pages 47 to 65 of Chapter Two of the Turner textbook. Note: only parts of chapters one and two are assigned. You are responsible for the vocabulary (see the lists below) that appears in the assigned pages only.
For Wednesday, please read (1) these excerpts from the recent Supreme Court case, Bond v. United States and (2) pages 39-42 in chapter one of the text on judicial review. The excerpts from the Bond case include the complete opinion of the court and an abbreviated opinion by Justice Scalia.
Please read chapter 12 of the textbook. For Wednesday, please read (1) these excerpts from the recent Supreme Court case, Bond v. United States and (2) the pages in chapter one of the text on judicial review.
Please read (1) the material on Political Parties in chapter 7 of the text, pp. 243-257; (2) the material on Campaigns and Congressional Elections in chapter 8 of the text, pp. 267-281, 298-302; and (3) the short newspaper article "Voter Values", linked here. The quiz will be a True-False, Multiple Choice quiz. Don't forget, the mid-term exam is on Wednesday, June 4th! Be sure that you have read all the assigned material by Wednesday. Catch up if you are behind.
You may be interested in this article on the June 10, 2014, Democratic primary. It will be taking place next Tuesday, and it explains all of the campaign signs that you see on your way to school.
Please read chapter 6, pp. 188-204, 210-216, and the readings by Prior, Price, and Starr that I handed out in class. The quiz qill be a definitions quiz. On the vocabulary sheet for chapter 6 below, you are responsible for all of the words in red. A couple of terms from the Prior-Price-Starr readings will also be included. Please reread these instructions for writing definitions:
Please read Chapter Five, pp. 153-165, 172-181,and Federalist #39 for Tuesday.
Article by Mike Wise of the Washington Post, an interesting follow-up to the article by Jonathan Rauch on prejudice. Not assigning it. Just saying.
And this one on the power of interest groups to influence political policy: "Vegas Union Blocks UFC From NY".
Johnson v. California.
Review the study questions following the Rauch article. For the court opinion, consider the following:
This is one of those "supervisory" opinions that the Supreme Court renders from time to time. Read the opinion carefully.
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:
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:
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.
2013 Budget Charts from zerohedge.com
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.
If you are interested in following political (and other) polls, the following are two good sources:
Rasmussen Political Polling Reports
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 2015 Budget Graphic
To guide you through Federalist #10, look for answers to the following questions:
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.
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:
"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)?
Study Questions for the Marcus Prior, Tom Price, Paul Starr articles on news v. entertainment, the survival of the news media, and the effects of fewer news media.
Key terms from Prior's "News vs. Entertainment" (you can either determine their meaning from the article itself or from other sources):
Key terms from Tom Price's "Future of Journalism":
Key terms from Paul Starr's "Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers":
Virginia GOP Has Choice of State Presidential Primary or State Convention
Lobbyists as Chief Fund-Raisers
Legislation Responding to Citizens United v. FEC Decision
"Libertarians: Don't Call Us Tea Partyers."
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.
Not all big lobbying efforts succeed.
Lobbyists Focus on States and Municipalities
The Revolving Door
Competing Lobbyists/Interest Groups
Increase of Government Employees since 1942
"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! Magic Rebbit Regulation
2015 EPA Proposed Regs on Ethanol.
North Carolina's 12th Congressional District
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