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Information pages:

NOTE: The above links to separate Web pages with chronologies and other kinds of political information are also found in the respective subsections below.


Politics in general

"Politics must be understood through reason, yet it is not in reason that it finds its model. ... Politics is an art and not a science."

~ Hans Morgenthau

There are two main obstacles to objectively analyzing political decisions, behavior, and outcomes:

1) The values-laden subjective social milieu in which the observer finds himself or herself,

2) the essential self-reinforcing characteristic of most political phenomena, which gives rise to nonlinear, often-unpredictable outcomes.


I would define politics as follows:

The pursuit of power in the public realm, the exercise of such power for particular or general purposes, and attempt to legitimize such power.


The Common Good Broad principles vs. particular interests: Agendas behind noble plans


Basic principle of politics

The things that one must do in order to get power (deal-making, disparaging opponents, etc.) often clash with considerations of the common good, which are supposed to influence public policy decisions.

Reality vs. utopia:

"Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."

~ E. H. Carr,
The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 (1946)

E. H. Carr: "Here, then, is the complexity, the fascination, and the tragedy of all political life. Politics are made up of two elements -- utopia and reality -- belonging to two different planes which can never meet."

Paradox of collective action:

Security - power dilemma:

Diplomatic negotiations and two-stage game theory:

Liberal - Conservative Conundrum:

Following in the tradition of Charles Tilly, Bruce Porter provides considerable empirical and theoretical backing for the argument that war mobilization and the modern interventionist welfare state have been mutually reinforcing phenomena. As he writes,

Liberal and reform-minded political leaders abhor war, but recognize the opportunity it presents for social reform; conservatives revere military institutions and traditions, but are often wary of actual conflict, sensing its potential for revolutionary change. (Bruce Porter, War and the Rise of the State, 1994)

This book deals with "state building," the long process by which fractured regional powers become unified into nation-states as a collateral effect of waging war. In my terms (see Dissertation), the hypothesized affinities between foreign policy and economic policy -- orthodox-compliant (OC) on one hand and defiant-heterodox (HD) on the other hand -- may be regarded as a manifestation of the historical tendency of societies to forge a unified identity and pursue greater social justice when threats from other countries increase: "we're all in this together." This conclusion is likely to be appalling to old-fashioned Marxists who believe that war is essentially a capitalist plot, such as Hannah Arendt. The hypothesized OC affinity is be consistent with the libertarian position expressed by Rummel, suggesting that the roots of peace lie in liberal capitalism -- not necessarily liberal democracy. (from my Dissertation Chapter One: final section)

Did you know?

Africa is a continent, not a country!

Well, of course you did. (But you'd be surprised by some of the students these days...)

International politics

World cultural regions

Chronology of world politics

Year President Wars Other big issues and events
1960 Eisenhower U-2, Berlin, Congo
1961 Kennedy Bay of Pigs invasion; Laos Vienna
1962 Kennedy Laos Cuban missile crisis
1963 Kennedy Assassination of S. Vietnam Pres. Diem Assassination of Pres. Kennedy
1964 Johnson Vietnam: Gulf of Tonkin; Laos Beatlemania
1965 Johnson Vietnam, India-Pak. U.S. intervenes in Dominican Republic.
1966 Johnson Vietnam Riots in U.S. cities
1967 Johnson Vietnam, Mideast (Six-Day War) "Summer of Love" in S.F.
1968 Johnson Vietnam Tet Offensive MLK, RFK assissinations, urban riots
1969 Nixon Vietnam, U.S. into Cambodia U.S. lands on Moon; Woodstock music festival.
1970 Nixon Vietnam, Cambodia, U.S. into Laos Terrorism, airline hijackings in Mideast.
1971 Nixon Vietnam, Cambodia Dollar crisis, China
1972 Nixon Vietnam: NVA offensive, Cambodia. China, USSR
1973 Nixon Cambodia; Yom Kippur War "Peace" in Vietnam; Watergate, inflation
1974 Nixon / Ford Cambodia Watergate, stagflation
1975 Ford Commies win in Cambodia & Vietnam; Angola
1976 Ford Angola civil war Bicentennial of U.S. independence
1977 Carter U.S. human rights campaign
1978 Carter Turmoil in Iran; Nicaragua Revolution
1979 Carter China-Vietnam; USSR intrvenes in Afghanistan Iran Revolution
1980 Carter Iraq invades Iran. Iran, Cuba
1981 Reagan Iran counterattacks Iraq; Israel bombs Iraq. El Salvador civil war
1982 Reagan Falklands; Lebanon; Iran-Iraq
1983 Reagan Iran-Iraq Euro-missiles, SDI;
1984 Reagan Iran-Iraq Euro-missiles, Nic.;
1985 Reagan Iran-Iraq Euro. terrorism. Nic.;
1986 Reagan Iran-Iraq Gorbachev-mania, Libya
1987 Reagan Iran-Iraq Helsinki summit; Iran-Contra; Wall St. mini-crash
1988 Reagan Iran-Iraq war ends. S & L crisis, Japan trade dispute
1989 Bush I U.S. occupies Panama. Tienanmen Square massacre, Berlin Wall is taken down.
1990 Bush I Iraq occupies Kuwait. Budget battles, Cold War ends, Germany reunifies.
1991 Bush I Iraq/Kuwait (Desert Storm) Commie coup fails, USSR dissolves
1992 Bush I Budget, Russia
1993 Clinton Croatia vs. Serbia Health care debates; NAFTA is passed.
1994 Clinton Bosnian civil war, uprising in Mexico GOP wins election.
1995 Clinton NATO intervenes in Bosnia. GOP "Revolution," Clinton-Gingrich showdown.
1996 Clinton N. Korea threatens war, Taiwan
1997 Clinton Asian financial crisis
1998 Clinton Kosovo Clinton impeachment
1999 Clinton Al Qaeda strikes U.S.S. Cole. Sudan
2000 Clinton Somalia
2001 Bush II 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda; U.S. forces enter Afghanistan. Congress passes huge tax cut bill.
2002 Bush II Afghanistan is stabilized. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security is formed.
2003 Bush II U.S., U.K., et al. liberate Iraq. WMD intelligence cast in doubt.
2004 Bush II Upsurge of violence in Iraq. Swift Boat ads against John Kerry.
2005 Bush II Iraq is destabilized. Abu Ghraib torture scandal; Hurricane Katrina
2006 Bush II Iraq is further destabilized. Iran, N. Korea; Dems. win election.
2007 Bush II Bush begins "Surge" in Iraq. Darfur genocide
2008 Bush II Iraq is stabilized; violence in Afghanistan. Mortgage crisis, Wall St. bailouts
2009 Obama Afghanistan; Sri Lanka rebels are defeated. "Great Recession," stimulus, Haiti & Chile earthquakes
2010 Obama Obama begins "surge" in Afghanistan. Euro crisis; "Obamacare" health reform; tsunami in Japan
2011 Obama U.S. forces kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Euro crisis, "Arab Spring," deadlock over U.S. debt
2012 Obama Afghanistan; civil war in Syria. Obama wins reelection vs. Romney; "fiscal cliff" looms.
2013 Obama Afghanistan; civil war in Syria. Ed. Snowden flees U.S.; budget impasse, govt. shutdown in Oct.
2014 Obama Russia seizes Crimea, etc. from Ukraine; ISIS "caliphate." Police kill Michael Brown in Missouri; Black Lives Matter.
2015 Obama U.S. forces enter Syria to fight ISIS. U.S., 11 others sign Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
2016 Obama U.S. air attacks help Iraq retake Fallujah from ISIS. Trump wins election, but many suspect Russian hacking.
2017 Trump U.S. attacks Syria: chem weapons? ISIS strongholds fall. Trump closes Mexican border, withdraws from TPP & Paris Accords.
2018 Trump U.S. withdraws some forces from Syria & Afghanistan. U.S. withdraws from Iran nuclear deal, raises tariffs on China.
2019 Trump Turkey threatens Kurdish militias in Syria. Mueller Report; Trump meets Kim Jong Un, is impeached over Ukraine.
2020 Trump U.S. drone kills Iranian general, missile counterattack. covid-19 pandemic: lockdowns; Trump disputes election.
2021 Biden U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan; Taliban victory. Jan. 6 assault on Capitol, Trump is impeached; George Floyd is killed; riots.
2022 Biden Russian invasion of Ukraine; NATO sends military aid. Extreme heat in Europe & western U.S.; FBI seizes Trump documents.

SOURCES: World Almanac and Book of Facts (2022), Washington Post, etc.

National politics

"Energy in the executive is the leading character in the definition of good government."

~ Alexander Hamilton,
The Federalist #70.

The Executive Branch


The Judiciary

Current Supreme Court:

Federal Court system

The United States Court of Appeals consists of ten "circuits" (districts). "The Ninth Federal Circuit has a well-deserved reputation as a bastion of left-liberalism, but its problems don't end there. It has 28 active judgeships and its jurisdiction encompasses western states, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population, which creates all sorts of distortions." (Sept. 2005.)

U.S. Circuit Courts

Political parties

Past national party chairmen:

Term GOP elephant logo
GOP elephant logo
1993 David Wilhelm / Debra DeLee Haley Barbour
1995 Sen. Chris Dodd * Haley Barbour
1997 Roy Romer * Jim Nicholson
1999 Ed Rendell * Jim Nicholson
2001 Terry McAuliffe Jim Gilmore / Mark Racicot
2003 Terry McAuliffe Ed Gillespie
2005 Howard Dean Ken Mehlman
2007 Howard Dean Mike Duncan
2009 Tim Kaine Michael Steele
2011 D.B.* / Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Reince Priebus
2013 Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Reince Priebus
2015 D. Wasserman-Schultz / *Donna Brazile Reince Priebus
2017 Donna Brazile / Tom Perez Ronna (Romney) McDaniel
2019 Tom Perez Ronna (Romney) McDaniel
2021 Jaime Harrison Ronna (Romney) McDaniel

Asterisk (*) denotes general chairman, responsible for public speaking and fundraising, serving along with a party chairman focused on managerial duties. SOURCE: Wikipedia, etc.

State & local politics

"All politics is local."

~ attributed to Tip O'Neill, former Speaker of the House

Books about politics

Aristotle, Politics introduction by Max Lerner (New York: Random House / The Modern Library, 1943 [orig. circa 340 B.C.]

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers, introduction by Clinton Rossiter (New York: Mentor Books, 1961 [orig. 1788])

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, introduction by Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985)

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, introduction by John Plamenatz (Cleveland: Meridian Books, 1963)

Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man and Power Politics (Chicago: Phoenix Books, 1967 [1946])

Locke, John. 1980. Second Treatise of Government. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing.

Bruce Porter, War and the Rise of the State: The Military Foundations of Modern Politics (New York: The Free Press, 1994).

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man(New York: Avon Books, 1993)

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: Phoenix Books, 1962)

Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (New York: Scribners, 1932)

Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital, and European States, AD 990-1990 (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1990)

Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979)

John H. Herz, Political Realism and Political Idealism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951)

R. Douglas Arnold, The Logic of Congressional Action (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990)