Optional Support Materials

These items are not subject to the daily quiz, but will help you succeed in the course. I will sometimes reference them in class as well. They are ordered in the same order as is the course.

Note that in some of these items you will need to scroll down to see the information or links.

Page UNIT ONE Link Between Two Ferns: Obama interview Hilarious Funny or Die episode File Critical Thinking and Science Link Robots And AI: The Future Is Automated And Every Job Is At Risk Robots are already changing jobs as an endless array of robots enter our everyday lives. From trucking to service work to high-end jobs like doctors and lawyers, this documentary explores how robotics and artificial intelligence are changing the workplace. Link The Big Debate about the Future of Work Will Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Make Human Labor Obsolete? Economists and Futurists sometimes disagree about the future of the labor market. Link In These Certain Times Your beliefs are certainly the right ones. You certainly can be certain of it. The others' view are certainly false and just wrong. This is an absolute certainty. Page Tolerance in America: Something to be Proud of It is often said that the United States is a country of immigrants. Moreover, it is a country in which immigrants assimilate more readily than they do in many other countries. Yes, they maintain their communities, language, and culture to a degree, but they become "American" more quickly than they do, for example, in Europe. Their children become increasingly indistinguishable from other Americans. Here's something to be proud of; something to be encouraged by: Two recent (2017) examples of American tolerance. Link The Cost of the American Dream From the British journal "The Economist": a different perspective on American politics. Do all Americans really have an equal opportunity to become wealthy, as many believe? How much of a role does being born lucky play? One thing is for sure, in terms of wealth--it's better to be born in a rich country like the USA. Link Constitutionally Speaking - No Problem More Significant “an ignorant people can never remain a free people” Link JayWalking Citizenship Test Jay Leno tests average Americans Link The Constitution Quiz Link What the Founding Fathers Believed: Stock Ownership for All At the time of the Constitution's writing, capitalism was very different than the modern version we know today. What did the framers think of its potential for promoting republicanism, progress, and equality? What were their concerns and what would they think about today's increasing concentration of wealth and ownership in the hands of a very small number of Americans? File Four Key Indicators of Authoritarian Behavior (Table taken from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies DIe (New York: Crown, 2018), pp. 23-24.) We have recently seen the erosion of democracy and a return to authoritarian rule in many countries around the world. Americans have long assumed that the United States, with its long tradition of republican democracy and constitutional processes, is invulnerable to the threat of authoritarianism. Yet we are witnessing an unprecedented era in which all previous norms and traditions are being challenged or altogether ignored. Especially fragile is our long tradition of TOLERANCE (the respect of the legitimacy of our political rivals) and "forebearance" (the RESTRAINT of political leaders in exercising their power). Is our republic in danger? Link The Mueller Report Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Election Campaign. Volume 1 addresses claims of possible Trump Campaign conspiracy and coordination with Russian intelligence agents, and Volume 2 investigates evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice. Note: You can get this in a variety of forms-- by volume, by searchable pdf, etc... just Google it. Link PBS summarizes the Mueller Report in 30 minutes This is a good and objective summary of the Mueller Report. Link "The Mueller Report," told as a story The author of this piece says it's a shame that so few Americans are willing to take the time to read such an important document, so he writes it as a story with a few illustrations as well to make it more interesting and readable. This is not as straightforward and precise as is the above PBS summary, but is essentially factually correct. Link Presidential Power Listen to former President Richard Nixon's evaluation of the legal limits of presidential power. Link Excerpts from the Most Important American Speeches (1933-2008) Highlights from famous speeches, including FDR (Depression-era "Fear" speech and Pearl Harbor speech), Truman (Atom Bomb speech), Eisenhower ("Military-Industrial Complex" speech), JFK (Inauguration and Berlin speeches), MLK (the "Dream" and "Mountaintop" speeches), LBJ (Voting Rights and Vietnam speeches), RKF (MLK assassination speech), Nixon (Watergate Resignation speech), Reagan (Shuttle Challenger Disaster and Berlin Wall speeches), GHW Bush (Gulf War speech), Clinton (Inauguration speech), Gore (2000 Election Concession), GW Bush (9-11), and Obama (Election speech). Link Freedom of Speech: Black Lives Matter supporters visit a Trump rally What happens when a small group of Black Lives Matters supporters go to a Trump rally? Can anything good come of this? Watch it all the way to the end. Link 2021 Texas Constitutional Carry Law The Texas House passes a bill making it easier to carry a firearm in public. Link Should you fear the police? This is a thought-provoking commentary by a driver about her encounter with a police officer who stopped her. Why do people react very differently to seeing it? Link Implicit Bias Test The following site allows you to test your own "implicit biases." For more information, Google "implicit bias" to better understand the term and how the test works. Link Given the Me Too movement, "It's a scary time for men!" This woman wrote a song for men... Page UNIT TWO Link Rate Yourself: Interactive Quizzes (Pew Research Center--a good site for public opinion and data in general) Take these interesting short quizzes to identify your ideological position, partisanship, knowledge of the news, economics, globalism--and many other things, both political and non-political. Created by the Pew Research Center; you will find many other interesting things on this site. Page Media Biases These sites are devoted to evaluating biases among the media. Link Kellyanne Conway's interview tricks, explained President Trump's spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway is notoriously difficult to interview because she rarely actually answers the question she is asked, and uses the opportunity to change the subject and get in a Trump talking point instead. Link Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC: (scroll down to get to the YouTube video URL) Colbert actually formed a SuperPAC to teach Americans how absurd the laws are regarding political money in campaigns as a result of the Citizens' United case. Although SuperPACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money with few restrictions (unlike regular PACs), they are not legally allowed to donate directly to campaigns. Instead, they spend money on behalf of candidates and causes, are not allowed legally to even "coordinate" with candidates. However, because the heads of SuperPACs are almost always very close allies of the candidates they support, the coordination rule is largely a charade. Interestingly, a study in the Journal of Mass Communication and Society showed that Colbert's viewers were better informed of the role of PACs and SuperPACs than viewers of traditional news reporting. see: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15205436.2014.891138#.U4x_dyjt-1s Link OpenSecrets.org: Center for Responsive Politics Which interest groups give the most campaign money and which politicians get the most of it? Link Federal Election Commission Look here to see revealing reports, stats, and graphics on federal campaign financing (fund-raising, spending, etc.) as well as the law regarding campaign finance. Link Campaign Contribution-- or Legalized Bribe? Texas politics... Link Democratic vs. Republican Occupations This is an interesting infographic that shows the ratio of Democrats and Republicans in many of the country's major professions. Scroll down and "expand all" to get the complete list. Link Diffen: Compare and Contrast Differences (e.g., Republicans vs. Democrats) This is a useful site in clarifying the difference between two concepts. This URL points to a page outlining differences between Republicans* and Democrats*. However, on this site you will find essays, charts, graphics, and videos comparing many subjects, both political and non-political, including: Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists, Caucus vs. Primary, Electoral Vote vs. Popular Vote, etc. Diffen is a user-generated and user-edited site similar to Wikipedia, so not everything here is objective or well-edited, and I don't endorse all of its claims or definitions. Nevertheless it is a useful site for quickly getting to the heart of a matter if you are confused about two concepts. It compares and contrasts them in an effective and simple manner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . * FYI, actual party platforms are located at: https://prod-cdn-static.gop.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL[1]-ben_1468872234.pdf AND http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/papers_pdf/117717.pdf Link Funny (and effective) Campaign Advertisement This challenger is claiming that the incumbent is not available to his constituents and only cares about his connections with his big campaign contributors, like pharmaceutical companies. Link The "Daisy ad" This is the most famous political advertisement ever made for television. President Lyndon Johnson is arguing that his opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater, was a warmonger who had made loose talk about using nuclear weapons in Vietnam. The advertisement was only showed one time on television, but was very effective and is still discussed today. Link Valerie Plame Ad Probably the best advertisement so far for the 2020 election campaign. Valerie Plame is campaigning for the Third Congressional District of New Mexico. Link Gerrymandering explained This site is a simplified explanation of the American Civil Liberties Union's efforts to support voting rights. File Gerrymandering An explanation of gerrymandering on CBS News. (1) Watch the video at the link on the top of the page or (2) read the article, which is a transcript of the video. You can also watch it at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P_QNH7EYvcQ Link Ugly Gerry A unique alphabet based on actual American gerrymanders! Link Play the Redistricting Game! This game will help you understand REDISTRICTING (the process of redrawing representative district lines after every ten-year census) and GERRYMANDERING (manipulative and unfair redistricting done to favor and advantage some parties/groups/individuals/interests at the expense of others). Link Interactive Electoral College map Use this map to consider different scenarios needed to reach the 270 votes needed to win the majority of the electoral college. File How Red and Blue are the 50 states.docx Link Party Polarization in Congress This video shows you graphically how members of both parties in Congress are increasingly unlikely to vote with members of the other party. You will see that there used to be much more bipartisanship than today. Link Eric Reid: Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee Read why Colin Kaepernick and his teammate Eric Reid chose to kneel, or "take a knee" as a form of protest, and why they thought this was the more appropriate and respectful form. File The Student Vote Is Surging. So Are Efforts to Suppress It. Are politicians threatening your right to vote? This is a NYT article pasted into a file. But trying going directly to site so that you can get all the hyperlinks as well. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/24/us/voting-college-suppression.html Page UNIT THREE Link Oyez: Audio Recordings of Supreme Court Oral Arguments This excellent site gives you a feel for how arguments are made before the Supreme Court. If you have an interest in any case since 1955, use the search engine and type in case name (e.g., "Miranda v. Arizona", or even just "Miranda") to hear recording of the actual oral arguments. Each recording is accompanied by a full written text, and shows the justices who ruled in the case. Alternatively, the Supreme Court's site is: https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_audio/2016 Link Are you reflected in the new Congress? How many people in Congress share your descriptive traits? Check out this interactive site to see! Link The 116th Congress (2019) Use this interactive site to see who's in the new Congress after the 2018 midterm election. Link GovTrack- Track the progress of bills being considered in Congress GovTrack is a useful site for tracking legislation in the U.S. Congress. It has many other resources about government as well. It also has a popular Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/govtrack/ You may also want to check out Congress's official site (formerly Thomas.gov) at: https://congress.gov/ Link Texas Senate Filibuster State Senator Wendy Davis filibusters an anti-abortion bill in 2013. Link Ghost Voting Do Texas Legislators follow their own rules about proper voting procedures? Link Senior Citizens react to benefits changes Link Stabilize the National Debt: How would you do it? The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget created this simulation to show the tough choices that would be necessary to minimize deficit spending and stabilize the national debt at a lower level. Give it a try! Of course, what this simulation does NOT reveal is the tremendous pressure a member of Congress would be under by their constituents (members of their districts and states) and interest groups when considering spending cuts and tax increases. In other words-- this would be much more difficult if you had to worry about the reaction from your political opponents, the media, interest groups, and constituents. Any number of these options might be enough to ensure you were not re-elected. Link New York Times budget puzzle ...is located at the bottom. There are many other simulations, such as:_________ "http://usa.abalancingact.com/" (Federal Balancing Act: An Interactive Budget Simulation--- Not as sophisticated, but has 2016 numbers)____ "https://www.federalbudgetchallenge.org/app#/c/29/q/171"_____ "http://centeroncongress.org/e-learning-module-federal-budget-allocation"____ and many others. Link Executive Actions Use this link to see the White House "Briefing Room" pages that list recent executive actions (executive orders, memoranda, proclamations, etc.). You will see that most of them are not executive orders as is commonly asserted, but rather proclamations, presidential findings as directed by law, memos, etc. File Groupthink Handout Groupthink is a plague on good decision-making. It is a dysfunction caused when members of a group tend to loyally conform, stifle disagreements, suppress their own doubts, isolate themselves from outsiders, think uncritically, and deceive themselves. If groupthink is not deliberately checked, groups may make irrational collective decisions due to the lack of individual responsibility. We will discuss this regarding bureaucracies and presidential leadership style. Link Senator versus Administrator Montana Democratic Senator John Tester fights to get the Director of Indian Health Services to admit that the administration's budget cuts would do great harm to the agency's function, but the director is afraid to contradict the administration's position. Link State Takeover of HISD? Can the Texas government take over a local school district, and will it? Image Monetary Policy Cartoon This cartoon will help you understand the cycle of monetary controls used by the Federal Reserve Board. File Regulation arguments against and in favor of regulation File Tragedy of the Commons.pdf This handout outlines what can be done to resolve the tragedy of the commons and what the problems are with each solution. Link The Revisionaries Texas' textbook market is so large that it influences the entire US market, so its Board of Education's decisions about textbook selections are very important. This video focuses on the battle over including the theory of "intelligent design" rather than evolution in public school science books. Link Who is to Blame for the Texas Power Disaster? In 2020, with millions of Texans without power in the wake of a winter storm and frigid temperatures, everyone is looked for someone to blame — like the governor, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and even the “Green New Deal.” Link Regulation versus Free Enterprise and Private Development This story argues that the lack of proper land development regulation has made Houston flood prone and subject to massive liability to the costs of flooding. Check out the "slider" photo of Houston from 1986 to 2017. Link Greta Thunberg's speech to UN Climate Action Summit Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (16 years old in 2019) chastised world leaders Monday, Sep. 23, 2019 for failing younger generations by not taking sufficient steps to stop climate change. "You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words," Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Summit. File Green New Deal This is the congressional resolution introduced February 2019.