AP US Government Homework

Homework (No Number)

Please bring your textbook to class tomorrow!


-Due Friday, January 17th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 536-549 (please note that this is two sections!)


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Should the fairness doctrine be brought back?



The meaning of Trump's election has been exaggerated.

A seven-step plan for ending the opioid crisis.

Oprah and the unbearable lightness of Democrats



-Due Thursday, January 11th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 527-534


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Does the media have too much influence over our political process?  Why or why not?



The decline of anti-Trumpism.

Not known for subtlety or nuance, Trump is handling Iran just right.

About that Golden Globes fiasco...




-Due Wednesday, January 10th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 519-522


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Some countries ban polls within a month of an election.  Should we do the same here?  Why or why not?


ALSO: Here is the study sheet for this week's test!




Did Sessions quietly increase the odds that Congress will legalize pot?

The Iranian regime can't keep winning for ever.

Warren Buffet shares the secrets to wealth in America.



-Due Tuesday, January 9th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 514-517. Also read this Atlantic piece from 2016 about political polarization


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent is political polarization rendering America ungovernable?



The excerpts from the book that everyone's talking about: "My insane year inside Trump's White House."

Publicly, we say #metoo.  Privately, we have misgivings.

Is Facebook driving our nation apart?



-Due Monday, January 8th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 508-513. Also, please listen to this chapter from This American Life: The Hamster Wheel. Not required, but highly suggested--this NYTimes series about the MTA and the terrible state of the subways: System Failure

1. How Politics and Bad Decisions Starved New York’s Subways

2. Lax Subway Upkeep Leads to Crippling Breakdowns

3. The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent can our system thrive without the specialized help of lobbyists?



The new reformer DAs may end the era of "lock 'em up" politics.

...Actually, critics of proactive policing are wrong.

Who's winning Trump's war with the press?



-Due Thursday, January 4th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 503-507


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent should we be worried about interest groups?



Al Franken's resignation is deeply unfair.

The West should support the protesters in Iran.

How can Trump help Iran's protesters? Be quiet.


-Due Wednesday, January 3rd

Homework 20

Read Remy, pp. 492-497


Are you a liberal, a conservative?  A moderate, a libertarian?  A communist, a socialist?  Write about your own political identity and how you came to feel the way you feel.



The double-edged sword of a party-line victory.

Good riddance to the blue state model!

What will it take to beat Trump?  The case for a generic Democrat.



-Due Friday, December 22nd

Homework 19

Read Remy, pp. 481-484


Should we have mandatory voting in the United States? Assume that you could check a "none of the above" option, and also assume that it would be easier to vote than today (maybe an election week rather than just one day).



A single vote leads to GOP loss of control of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Tax reform means that your paycheck will grow, says Paul Ryan in the WSJ.

Actually, the tax bill is an insidious way to fail working Americans, says Democratic Senator Ron Wyden.



-Due Thursday, December 21st

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 475-479


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: In the United Kingdom, political advertisements are forbidden--except for those on billboards.  Do you think we should have a similar system in the United States?



The Republican tax bill is an American betrayal.

The tax bill became less bad as it went through the legislative process.

The current sex panic harks back to the era of coddling women.



-Due Wednesday, December 20th

Thesis Paper Assignment

Please check out this instruction sheet for the thesis paper!


 After reading the sheet, please submit your thesis statement HERE before 11:59pm, December 22nd. The sooner you submit, the sooner you can start reading and/or writing. Once you submit, you can see my response on this Google spreadsheet. The essay paper will be due at 12:01am, Monday January 8th.

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 458-470 (please note that this is TWO sections)


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Many people have criticized party primaries by noting that they tend to be won by the most extreme candidates--thus polarizing the nation.  Do you agree with this critique?  Should we go back to nominating conventions?  What do you think?



Long shot Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate race.

How Doug Jones changes (almost) everything in the Senate.

Doug Jones's victory should make Trump nervous.


-Due Thursday, January 14th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 453-57.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Are political parties good or bad for the United States?  What do you think?


AND: The study sheet for Test 5 can be found here!


ALSO: Dollree Mapp, the plaintiff in the famous Mapp case died not too long ago.  Here's a really interesting obituary from the New York Times.


...and for those of you smarting over college deferrals/rejections, I recommend this piece from 2004.



What the hell is happening with these Alabama polls?

Alabama race ends, fittingly, with more controversy.

"I'm not convinced that Al Franken should resign."



-Due Tuesday, December 13th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 437-443. Also read this Economist article about plea bargains.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Should plea bargains be eliminated?



Inside Trump's hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation.

Why the "Arab Street" didn't just explode.

Mattis's low-key approach pays dividends abroad.


-Due Tuesday, December 12th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 430-435


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent should tort law be reformed?



Somewhat rambling but interesting take on the Christian cake baker from Andrew Sullivan.

You might find this particularly interesting... the world might be better off without college for everyone.

Al Franken's improbably rise and sudden fall.


-Due Monday, December 11th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 422-428


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Evaluate the major legal principles of the American legal system.  Do you agree with them?  If not, what might work better?



Neil Gorsuch's radical first amendment theory could sabotage civil rights law.

Franken departure could pressure GOP on Moore's fate.

The rallying cry of Jerusalem may have lost force.


-Due Friday, December 8th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 412-418


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do you agree with the Court's ruling in the Bakke case?  Why or why not?




CHECK here to see your grade.


-Due Wednesday, December 7th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 406-410



For those interested--here is a debate/discussion between Justices Stephen Breyer and the late Antonin Scalia. It's about an hour and a half, but it is quite fascinating (if you prefer to watch it in bite sized nuggets, you can go here). This is Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.com's take on the goings-on.




The Democrats' dangerous obsession with impeachment.

The Republican tax bill is not the victory they think it is.

God's plan for Mike Pence.



-Due Wednesday, December 6th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 398-405.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Have we gone too far in the creation of protections for the rights of the accused?


Also, if you are interested in learning more about the diversity lottery, check out this Dan Baum piece from December 5th, 2005 New Yorker (PDF).



Yes, Donald Trump, you said that.

Corey Lewandowski on Paul Manafort: "I've got a crook running my campaign."

Tax cuts on the rich must--and will--be repealed.



ALSO: The Great American Word Mapper



-Due Tuesday, December 4th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp.391-397.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Many have criticized the doctrine of jus soli and claim that it is subject to abuse.  Should jus soli be abolished? Why or why not? Also, read this article from the 2011 New York Times on birthright citizenship.



Sex life in American can hardly be run by the Red Queen?

Elizabeth Warren's Pocahontas pickle

Women in 2018: Hear them roar!



-Due Thursday, November 30th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp.387-390


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Are our current immigration laws too harsh?  Or should we have a less permissive policy?  Why?



Justice Neil Gorsuch--what the right hoped for, what the left feared.

Trump dismantles the Foreign Service.

The latest on the GOP tax plan in the Senate



-Due Wednesday, November 29th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 376-382


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do you agree with the outcome of the case of the Nazi march in Skokie?  Why or why not?


AND: The study sheet for Test 4 can be found here!



ALSO: Check out this Planet Money podcast called "Schoolhouse Rock Is A Lie"--though the filibuster has changed a bit since Reid's reforms.



Tax reform hangs in the balance as the GOP heads into a critical week.

What's next for the Republican tax bill?

He wanted Jihad. He got Foucault.



-Due Tuesday, November 28th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 371-375. Also check out this justification from New York Times of their decision to publish the WikiLeaks info dump of diplomatic cables a couple of years ago.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do you agree with the New York Times here?


ALSO: For those of you interested in the Supreme Court, here is a scholarly comparison of the strict originalism (also called textualism) employed by Justices Scalia and Black when making decisions.


AND: The famous Brandeis concurrence to the Whitney case.



Maybe Al Franken shouldn't resign?

How evil is tech?

Congress settling sex assault claims with public money?



-Due Wednesday, November 22nd

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 366-370. Also please read this interview "Plain Words and Constitutional Absolutes," with Justice Black from 1962. Additionally, here's a pretty incendiary piece from Slate arguing that Supreme Court Justices "are not really judges."


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Is "clear and present" danger the proper test for legal free speech?  Or are you inclined to agree with Justice Black? 



It's absurd to put Al Franken in the same frame as monsters like Harvey Weinstein.

Can Al Franken's Senate career survive?

The Republican plan is the opposite of tax reform.



-Due Tuesday, November 21st

Homework 18

Read Remy, pp. 358-364.  Also check out this piece on the attempt to abolish "under God" from the pledge of allegiance.


Should religion be totally banished from the public sphere?  Should "In God We Trust" be expunged from our currency, for example?  Use the info in the reading to answer this question.


-Due Monday, November 20th



Is this watershed moment turning into a sex panic?

Al Franken to Roy Moore's rescue.

Battle of the Republican strategists: Karl Rove v. Steve Bannon

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 355-357


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Justice Hugo Black believed in total incorporation--he thought that all of the rights in the bill of rights should apply to the states.  In the end, we now use selective incorporation.  Do you agree or disagree with Black? Why or why not?


-Due Friday, November 17th



Republican Senator Chuck Grassley weighs in on the blue slip controversy.

Democrats are weaponizing the Senate tax bill.

Republican voters don't care about policy. They just want political blood.

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 343-348


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do the other branches have enough power to really stop the Supreme Court?



Roy Moore is poison in the Republican bloodstream.

How Roy Moore's deeds are forcing an awakening on the left.

...and what would Democrats do if their Senate majority hinged on a child molester?



-Due Thursday, November 16th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 336-341


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Does the Supreme Court have too much power in shaping public policy?



The GOP mobilizes against Moore.

Republicans reverse course on "blue slip" approval of judicial nominees.

Reckoning with Bill Clinton's sex crimes.



-Due Wednesday, November 15th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 331-335.  Also read this article by Howard Bashman.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent to you agree with Bashman's argument?





The GOP is still shackled to Donald Trump

A piece criticizing a NYT Op-Ed which the author argued that his children could not be friends with whites

Liberals are still aghast at Donald Trump, but what good has it done?





The time Richard Nixon met Robocop--and was lucky to avoid arrest!


Probably the oldest photograph containing a human being.


-Due Tuesday, November 14th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 320-326


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Is it right that Supreme Court Justices serve a life term? Why or why not?  What alternatives might there be? I also want you to read this article from The Atlantic magazine on law clerks.  It's a short and interesting piece.





The GOP's Roy Moore problem just got a whole lot worse.

Rand Paul was attacked a week ago.  What the hell is going on?

Are we drifting towards war with North Korea?





Watch 15 different sorting algorithms do their job!  With sound effects!  More fascinating than you might think.


-Due Monday, November 13th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 312-317


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Evaluate the process for the selection of federal judges.





Lessons learned from Virginia

Could Alabama be next?

Don't be fooled: Democrats still don't have a winning message





Recapture the archery techniques of the ancient masters!


-Due Friday, November 10th

Homework 17

Read Remy, pp. 305-310


Almost no one in American history has had anything bad to say about judicial review--that's why this 1825 opinion by Pennsylvania judge John Gibson is so notable.  Please read it in Eakin v. Raub


Was John Marshall right to grab the power of judicial review? Do you agree with Gibson’s critique? Explain.





Virginia win soothes Democrats and makes GOP sweat.

Tax reform is never easy, but GOP majorities hang in the balance.

Government action is not the answer to mass shootings.



-Due Thursday, November 9th

Homework 16.

Read Remy, pp. 291-298


As you can see from the reading, bureaucrats have a great deal of power--yet they are totally unelected.  Should our bureaucracy be more democratic?  Should we introduce some sort of election system?  Why or why not? Explain.




Here's the link to the study sheet for Test 3.





A post-Obama Democratic party in search of itself.

Nancy Pelosi has Donald Trump right where she wants him.

Founding Friendship: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.



-Due Friday, November 3rd

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 284-289



FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Given how hard it is to fire incompetent federal employees, was the move towards civil service reform such a good thing?





Halloween Massacre

What the attack in New York revealed about the Islamic State's supporters

John Yoo rides again!



-Due Wednesday, November 2nd

Homework (No Number)

Please note that we are skipping the beginning of Chapter 9, Section 3,  but read Remy, pp. 266-7--just the section on Executive Privilege. and Chapter 10, Section 1:  pp. 275-283.  Also, please check out this piece by David Iglesias, "Out of Bounds," from back in 2008.



FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Does executive privilege give the President too much power to keep secrets?  Why or why not?



Here is the actual text of the Manafort/Gates indictment.

Papadopoulos--the bit player the center stage in Russia indictment.

Robert Mueller is just beginning to put the pressure on...



-Due Wednesday, November 1st

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 252-259. Also, check out this editorial about the Senate's treaty powers. For fun, Google the authors!


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do executive orders and executive agreements undermine the powers of Congress?




The site you've been waiting for: Vice-presidents with cephalopods on their heads.



Virginia governor's race isn't just about the candidates.

Here's something for Democrats to meditate on.

John Boehner unchained!



-Due Tuesday, October 31st

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 245-250. Also read this summary of the National Emergencies Act.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: To what extent do presidents take too much power during times of emergency?



The week Trump won

As Donald Trump turns his back on the world, the stage is set for Xi

..or might Xi Jinping's star be burning too bright?


-Due Monday, October 30th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 234-239


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Has the President consolidated too much power for himself through the growth of the Executive Office of the President?



-Due Friday, October 27th



Republicans are starting to notice another big problem with their tax plan.

A useful summary of recent polls for key races.

Why "Medicaid for all" will sink the Democrats.






Ranked by scientists and historians--the greatest 50 inventions of humanity.

Homework 15

Read Remy, pp. 228-232. Also read this article from John Dickerson on the decline of the cabinet.  It's from 2004, but is still relevant.


Is there anything that can be done to make the cabinet more effective? Should it be made more effective?


-Due Thursday, October 26th



With Flake's retirement, a battle for the soul of democracy.

The DOOM LOOP of modern liberalism.

Democrats in their labyrinth.




This map showing the evolution of the top name for girls since 1960 is fascinating--like watching generals slug it out for territory.

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 220-226. Also, check out Five Reasons to keep the Electoral College by Judge Richard Posner. 


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Should the Electoral College be scrapped?  Why or why not?  If so, what should be put in its place?


-Due Wednesday, October 25th



On Safari in Trump's America

...and Trump Voters Aren't Animals to be Studied on Safari

Identity Politics Death Grip

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 213-219


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Evaluate the constitutional requirements for becoming president.  Are they a good idea?  Why or why not?



What Dubya missed about nationalism

Famous Black Athletes Have Always Led the Way

Draining the Swamp



-Due Tuesday, October 24th




Hypnotic letter painting skillz.

Big Think Pieces

How American Politics Went Insane


Are We All Unconscious Racists?


America's First Addiction Epidemic


Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 198-203


When Republicans took control of the House and Senate in 2010, they banned earmarks.  Read this (year old Washington Post) article defending earmarks and asking for their return.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Should earmarks, also known as pork, be returned to the House?


-Due Thursday, October 19th



Trump is afraid that his tax plan is doomed. He should be.

Colin Kaepernick is not good enough to win his collusion suit against the NFL.

The end of an era in California politics?

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 194-198


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY:If anything, do constituents have too much influence on their members?




Here is a really fantastic interactive budget, though it is based on the 2010 fiscal year.  It focuses on how small a percentage of the budget is discretionary non-defense spending. Unfortunately, it's in Flash, so you might have to use an old browser...


Optional Reading

Richard Fenno is a political scientist who became famous through his exploration of how members of Congress act in their home districts and how these actions aid in their reelection.  He wrote a book called Home Style on these matters, but the book grew out of an academic article entitled House Members in Their Constituencies: An ExplorationHere's the article--it's great; but its not required.



From Carson to Kimmel: the collapse of the late night empire.

How Ta-Nehisi Coates gives whiteness power.

The GOP is no party for honest men.

...and meet your new robot overlords!


-Due Wednesday, October 18th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 189-192. Also, here is a great article about the way that the Senate circumvents the requirement that the House pass tax legislation first.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY:To what extent is it fair to argue that the federal government spends too much money?


Also, here's the study sheet for Test 2.



-Due Tuesday, October 17th



What's behind Trump's recent executive actions.

How to fight the new Trumpcare.

Jeff Flake's lesson for Republicans: Cross Trump at your own risk.



Bonus Graphics

A great graphic design visualization of how a bill becomes a law.


The North Carolina gerrymander

Homework 14

Read Remy, pp. 181-188


Written Work: Have the founders created an overly cumbersome legislative process?  Or should it be easier to make a bill into a law?



Trump deals a stunning blow to Obamacare. Polls, pundits still underestimating Trump. The fractured GOP.



-Due Monday, October 16th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 172-176


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Given the breakdown in communication between Congress and the President, should reforms be undertaken to improve this relationship?  Can they?



Democrats are playing checkers while Trump is playing chess? How Elizabeth Warren became the soul of the Democratic party.  Steve Bannon's enemy isn't the Republican Party...it's Donald Trump.



-Due Friday, October 13th



The Useless Web

Homework 13

Read Remy, pp. 167-171. 


The reading spoke about the practice of legislative oversight, and also how limited it is.  Scholars Matthew McCubbins and Thomas Schwartz published a very influential defense of Congress in their 1984 piece "Congressional Oversight Overlooked: Police Patrols versus Fire Alarms." (PDF)  Please check it out.


Written Work: Do you agree with McCubbins and Schwartz? Why or why not? Explain.



What Bob Corker really fears. Are European leaders committing mass suicide? Either take the border seriously or no deal on Dreamers.


-Due Thursday, October 12th

Homework 12

Read Remy, pp. 157-165


THE COMMERCE CLAUSE! Read the opinion of the Supreme Court in the 1942 case Wickard v. Filburn.  Also, please watch this video from Reason Magazine on this issue--Wheat, Weed and Obamacare. Note that Reason has a strong libertarian bias--they are affiliated with the Cato Institute.  Note, as an opposing point of view, that it was via the commerce clause that the Civil Rights Act was applied to private businesses.


Written Work: Has Congress overstepped its bounds when interpreting the commerce clause? 



"This is the America We Deserve." Are the Democrats going to blow their chance to defeat Trump with a McGovern Redux? Also, the "Vicious Virtue" of Hollywood liberal.


-Due Wednesday, October 11th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 146-150


Check out this article on the powers and responsibilities of Congressional Staffs. 


Also, check out Legistorm--a website that shows all of the staffers in Washington and their salaries. If you're challenged to log in, I have created an account for the class:


username: stuystudent

password: imastuystudent


Here is a link to the staff of Senator Schumer--note that there are two such pay periods, so the numbers you see can be multiplied by two to see what yearly salary the staffer makes.  And here is a link to the salaries of the staffers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee--the committee fought over by Waxman and Dingell.  Note that there are four pay periods in the House, so to determine yearly salaries, multiply the numbers you see by four.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: "Members of Congress have become cripplingly over-reliant on their staffs. Staff budgets must be slashed in order to force our legislators to do the work for which they were elected."  Do you agree or disagree with this quote?  What do you think?



Some Big Think articles for the long break.  "Democrats can abandon the center--because the center doesn't exist." "American wasn't built for humans."



-Due Tuesday, October 10th

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 141-145


Also, check out this article from the New York Times about the struggle for control of the House Energy and Commerce Committee between auto industry advocate John Dingell and environmental activist Henry Waxman. Also look at this piece about the Senate finance committee.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do committee chairs have too much power?  Why or why not?



-Due Friday, October 6th



"We don't need your prayers in Las Vegas. We need gun control." "Democrats have no idea how to prevent mass shooting." Would the GOP legislature actually vote to ban bump stocks?



Optional Multimedia

Fascinating audio piece that asks: Why do we blink?

Homework 11

Read Remy, pp. 138-140


Also, please read this blog entry by enormously prolific Judge Richard Posner on the filibuster.


Should the filibuster be abolished?


-Due Thursday, October 5th




Why gun control is a losing issue for the Democrats. Gerrymandering has broken our democracy! ... or do the Democrats just want to ensure themselves a constitutional right to win elections?




Optional Stuff

Interesting piece on procrastination from the New Yorker.  Read it AFTER you finish the homework...

Amazing mashups (of Youtubers) by Kutiman and (of Muppets) by Pogo.

Homework 10

Read Remy, pp. 132-137


Also, click on this link to the web site of the radio program "This American Life." I want you to listen to a segment about life in the minority in the House of Representatives called "Bully's Pulpit"--it comes 42 minutes into the show and is about 13 minutes long. (Note: it might take a couple of minutes for the program to load in its entirety)  If you want to save it, you can right click on the link and download the mp3 to play on your cell phone or whatever.


Written Work: To what extent is the House is too dominated by the majority party? Should anything be done to change this?



There  can be no truce with the second amendment says Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker. Well, stop politicizing mass shootings says David Harsanyi of The Federalist.



Behold the amazing hexaflexagon!



-Due Wednesday, October 4th

Homework (No Number)

There is no written work, but do the reading and be prepared to discuss the question below.

Read Remy, pp. 123-130


1. Read this (somewhat old) article by Jeffrey Toobin about the increasingly sophisticated techniques behind gerrymandering.

2. Read this piece about the Supreme Court case about to happen on this very issue!

3. For fun, check out this website that lets you create your own gerrymandered districts.  Wow!


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Has gerrymandering made a mockery of the House of Representatives?  What realistic solutions are there to the problems that Toobin explains?



ALSO: Richard Feynman explains why rubber bands work. Fascinating stuff.


-Due Tuesday, October 3rd

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 112-116. Also, check out this article from the New York Times from a couple of years ago.


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Given the tremendously low turnout in local elections, to what extent should we be worried about our federalist system?


-Due Thursday, September 28th





Is there actually any point to protesting? "I used to sit for the national anthem too." Alabama insurgent victory spells trouble for establishment GOP?




Best underwater photos of the year.


Funniest 30 seconds of a country music video ever.

Homework (No Number)

Read Remy, pp. 106-110


“States' rights, as our forefathers conceived it, was a protection of the right of the individual citizen. Those who preach most frequently about states' rights today are not seeking the protection of the individual citizen, but his exploitation. . . . The time is long past - if indeed it ever existed - when we should permit the noble concept of States' rights to be betrayed and corrupted into a slogan to hide the bald denial of American rights, of civil rights, and of human rights.” --Robert Kennedy


FOR DISCUSSION ONLY: Do you agree or disagree with this quote?  Note that today, some states are more progressive than the nation as a whole, passing laws legalizing marijuana use, same sex marriage and imposing tighter restrictions on industrial pollution and emissions.


-Due Wednesday, September 27th




Here is the study sheet for this Friday's test.



The madman theory of North Korea. 10 years in jail, but still awaiting trial.  The secret of Angela Merkel's longevity--flip flops. (thanks to Max Lobel and Daniel Ju for the links)


Optional Stuff

Impressed by the eloquence of Justice Antonin Scalia, but hate his conservative opinions?  Here's a roundup of some of the times that he sided with liberals--or at least civil libertarians.


Now that the UK has seen off Scottish independence, it still faces the threat of Devo Max!

Homework 9

Read Remy, pp. 103-105



To what extent is it fair that state universities charge out-of-state students more tuition?  Explain your reasoning!



-Due Tuesday, September 26th



The NFL won't forget September 24, 2017 anytime soon.   Alabama's curious special election. And the politicization of everything.



Optional Reading

What is it really like to be a baby?

This is a pretty cool video.

Homework 8

Please read Remy, pp. 95-102. Then check out this critique, which calls our sacred national document imbecilic.


To what extent is our constitution "imbecilic"?



-Due Monday, September 25th



Ta-Nehisi Coates and the politics of contempt.  The FBI tap on Manafort is a big deal. Is Chuck Schumer having too much fun with Donald Trump?

Homework 7

Read Remy, pp. 84-90. Also, read this 2012 piece that argues that it's too hard to amend our Constitution.


If you could add any amendment to the US Constitution, what would it be and why?


Due Wednesday, September 20th



What happened on Election Day?  American's political axis tilted. How long will Trump keep swimming with the Democrats? Don't buy all the PR-style hooey about "dreamers."



Optional Stuff

Amazing Japanese mochi making.

Homework 6



Take a look at these failed amendments and these proposed amendments.


Also, please read James Madison's Federalist 10 and 51


Finally--here's a fantastic site that allows you to explore the ratification of the Constitution in depth.


Did the Founding Fathers make the Constitution too difficult to amend?  What do you think of the amendment process in general?  Did seeing the failed or proposed amendments change your mind? Explain.


Also: for those who are curious to see James Madison's notes of the Philadelphia Convention, they can be found here.


-Due Tuesday, September 19th



What's up DACA?  What will conservatives think about Trump's contortions on the issue? The strange case of Donald Trump and the missing infrastructure. Is Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic party off a cliff?


Optional Reading

Here's an interesting map of the United States with 50 new states--all with more or less equal population.

Homework 5

Read Remy, pp. 63-67.   Also check out this review of Robert Dahl's book "How Democratic Is the American Constitution", written by Hendrick Hertzberg (the editorial editor at the New Yorker magazine). Finally, THE CONSTITUTION. Read it in FULL! Get thee to the interactive Constitution. Even if you do have a physical copy, the site is worth a visit.


Written work: Pick an article from the Interactive Constitution article and creatively disagree with it.



Trump agreed with Democrats to pass DACA protections into law last night... or did he? Hillary Clinton looks back in anger. Maybe changing demographics of the United States don't favor the Democrats after all?


-Due Friday, September 16th


Optional Reading

Proof that my no laptop policy is awesome?

Drilling. It kills your desire to learn... doesn't it?

Why are some languages faster than others?

"No Evidence of Disease"--this is a hell of a story.

Homework 4 

Read Remy, pp. 53-58.  Also read this article about the Constitutional Convention.


Here's a quote from famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, on the Constitution:


There is much declamation about the sacredness of the compact which was formed between the free and slave states, on the adoption of the Constitution. A sacred compact, forsooth! We pronounce it the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villany ever exhibited on earth. Yes—we recognize the compact, but with feelings of shame and indignation, and it will be held in everlasting infamy by the friends of justice and humanity throughout the world. It was a compact formed at the sacrifice of the bodies and souls of millions of our race, for the sake of achieving a political object—an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come. Such a compact was, in the nature of things and according to the law of God, null and void from the beginning. No body of men ever had the right to guarantee the holding of human beings in bondage. Who or what were the framers of our government, that they should dare confirm and authorise such high-handed villany—such flagrant robbery of the inalienable rights of man—such a glaring violation of all the precepts and injunctions of the gospel—such a savage war upon a sixth part of our whole population?—They were men, like ourselves—as fallible, as sinful, as weak, as ourselves. By the infamous bargain which they made between themselves, they virtually dethroned the Most High God, and trampled beneath their feet their own solemn and heaven-attested Declaration, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights—among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They had no lawful power to bind themselves, or their posterity, for one hour—for one moment—by such an unholy alliance. It was not valid then—it is not valid now. Still they persisted in maintaining it—and still do their successors, the people of Massachusetts, of New-England, and of the twelve free States, persist in maintaining it. A sacred compact! A sacred compact! What, then, is wicked and ignominious?


Do you agree or disagree with the above quote?  If you do agree, were there any alternatives? What do you think?


-Due Thursday, September 14th


OTHER POLITICS NEWS: Trump has stabbed the GOP in the back--will it be worth it? Single-payer health insurance--a bad idea that Democrats love. And why legal efforts to Mideast peace are misguided.

Homework 3

Read Remy, pp. 48-52.  Also read the Articles of Confederation. These also can be found in the back of our textbook (pp. 808-811).  Also, read this article comparing the European Union to the Articles.


1) To what extent were the Articles of Confederation totally unworkable as a blueprint for the new nation?


2) Analyze at least one article in the Articles for HW.  Show why it's a good or bad idea.


OTHER POLITICS NEWS: Long and well-written New Yorker piece about possible nuclear war with with North Korea. Do retiring Republican representatives augur well for a Democratic takeover of the House? And is it time to restrict the President's power to wage nuclear war?



-Due Wednesday, September 13th

Homework 2

Read Remy, pp. 42-7 and the Declaration of Independence found at pp. 770-773.


Also, check out this piece about the impact of the Declaration in early US history


To what extent did the United States live up to the revolutionary ideals of the Declaration of Independence? Should it have?


ALSO: Former George W. Bush advisor writes (originally in the Wall Street Journal) about Obama's "Deplorable DACA Decision," while former Obama Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano explains "Why I'm suing the Trump administration over DACA."


-Due Tuesday, September 12th


Optional Stuff

Two pieces from Vox: (1) 38 Maps that Explain the Global Economy and (2) How to Win a Nuclear Standoff.

Homework 1

Two broad assignments for Monday:


Assignment 1

1) Make sure you have a Dropbox account!


2) Share a folder with me.  The format should be as follows:  If your name were Joe Biden and you were in my 3rd period AP US Gov class, the folder would be entitled: Joe Biden, 3.  My e-mail address for sharing is mpolazzo@gmail.com


3) Upload a headshot (not a whole body picture) of yourself that (a) is not too large and (b) actually looks like you. Place it in the shared folder. Name it joebiden.jpg (substitute your first and last names).  Please note that all headshots should be in JPEG form!


4) All uploaded data is due by the start of the period that I teach you on Monday!


Assignment 2

We are beginning to use the textbook, henceforth known as "Remy."  Read pp. 35-40.  Also, take a look at these excerpts from John Locke's Second Treatise of Government. 


Written work: What do you think of Locke's work?  What are his hypotheses and do you agree with them?  Why?


What format should this work be in?  It should be:

1) In PDF form.  You should be able to use Word or any other word processing software to save as PDF. Also Macs and some other programs allow you to print to PDF.  Also, Google Docs allows you to save as a PDF. PLEASE NOTE THAT HOMEWORK SUBMITTED IN .DOC OR .DOCX FORM IS NOT GRADABLE!

2) Double spaced

3) No longer than two, but no shorter than one page.

4) Titled "HW 1, John Smith" if your name were John Smith

5) Uploaded into our shared Dropbox account by the start of class  tomorrow.


AND: Current events coverage! Why did Trump cave to Schumer and Pelosi? Why North Korea is a black hole for American spies. And is Trump right to want to eliminate the debt ceiling?


-Everything Due Monday, September 11th



Optional Stuff

Here is a short George Orwell essay about good writing: "Politics and the English Language." Let it be your guide.


Here are some fascinating charts.  Curious about where the federal budget goes?  This chart by Death and Taxes is a nice graphical representation here (I know they are trying to sell the poster, but you can still look at all the spending and taxes using the magnifier tool).


Also: want to engage in a bit of military procurement through the Department of Defense?  No problem!  Simply master this organizational chart.


Wait... one last thing!

I'm not usually one to post scholarship stuff, but this one seems pretty good: the Jack Kent Cook foundation pays $40,000 a year and is for seniors with some financial need. Here's a link with more info--though the application process doesn't open until Thursday, September 14th


Please go to this form and enter in your information!


-Due Friday, September 8th