The American Government

Below are links to US Government Three major branches (Legislative, Executive and Judicial) and the many federal departments and agencies which report to the President's Executive Branch.

Also MILITARY Services, state politics, and political terms.

Also Flight Radar 24 that allows you to follow airline flights in the western world IN REAL TIME as they are flying over the US, Europe, and certain other nations.

The Legislative Branch
The two bodies work in the US Capitol. House members serve for 2-years and are elected by 235 districts. Senate members serve for 6-years and there are two from each state.

After the 2020 elections, the Democratic party held slight majorities in both the US House and the Senate after defeating the Republicans who held the Senate under Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who is now reduced in power to 'Minority Leader." Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) has been Speaker of the House as majority leader there, and now Sen. Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY)- took control of the Senate as Senate Majority leader.

The Senate Majority Leader is a powerful position in Congress because the Senate confirms judges and presidential appointments and the Senate leader controls debates and other key appointments.

Wikipedia: Legislative Branch

The Executive Branch

The elected President, Joseph "Joe" R Biden, presides over all the nation's federal agencies. (Discussed below) He serves for a 4-year term and was elected in Nov 2020 and he began service at his inauguration on January 20th 2021. Biden's vice president, who presides over the Senate and would replace in case of his incapacitation or resignation, is Kamala Harris, former Democratic House member from California, and former Cal attorney general.

President Biden was vice president under former President Barrack Obama for eight years beginning in 2008. Before that, Biden was a Senator from Delaware. He is up for re-election in Nov, 2024. Biden defeated former president Donald J Trump, a controversial New York real estate mogel who served one term. Trump, who ran as a Republican, was impeached twice by the US House for high crimes and misdemeanors but was not removed by the US Senate which was composed of a narrow Republican majority.

the Executive Branch

Presidential Order of Succession just in case he is convicted and removed, or resigns from office.-- Fm NY Daily News 2/2017

United States Judicial Branch

The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United States-- 9 justices appointed by the president and confirmed for life by the US Senate. Under it are federal courts in districts around the nation. 

After the death of two Supreme court justices, and President Trump's appointments which were quickly approved by his Republican Senate under Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the voting power of the court now favors Republican appointments, but the Court Justices don't always vote in cases favoring Conservatives. That is generally the intent of the President and Senate in selecting them, however.  The latest addition was chosen by Democrat President Biden, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman appointed.

The Supreme court today is controversial because it's always been controversial but today leans far more to the political right than a majority of the population prefers. It's useful to research how it happened the court moved from fairly middle of the road suddenly to got a very unpopular SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).  The shocker was a court that overturned 50 years of women's rights to abortions on demand.   Here was a very helpful and thoughtful response from NPR (National Public Radio) that I'm bound to share.

NPR - Court History and shift to the right.
A discussion from National Public radio on the positions of recent and current Justices and how their view have altered decisions.

US Federal Courts
Operation of the Federal Court and federal Prison systems

The Highest Law:  

Under the Constitutions, the federal courts have limited jurisdiction over criminal affairs and laws in the US, except when they appear to violate the United States Constitution. State courts handle most criminal cases, such as assault, murder and property crimes but federal laws that are in place, such as civil rights cases and interstate laws fall under the federal justice system, prosecuted by the US Justice Department.

Analysis:  Conservative politicization of the Court over abortion.  The court drew substantial criticism for repealing abortion rights in 2022 which had been established law under Roe v Wade for fifty years and public polls demonstrated a large majority of women favored women's choice related to abortion for both safety and financial reasons.

 Republican politicians who favor the wealthy, have long opposed abortion and gay marriage, in part to build their voting base with conservative religious voters. Senate Leader McConnell has been a die-hard party politician and he received extreme criticism for stacking and politicizing the court by ignoring Democratic President Obama's nominee a year before the end of his term.  Calling the reverse of abortion law his greatest career achievement, McConnell sat on the nomination until Republican President Donald Trump was elected and nominated a Republican instead.   Both of Trump's conservative nominees, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Barrett had misled the Senate during their hearings, indicated the abortion protecting law was established and they would respect that, but after being seated, both reversed the law causing its repeal.   A second point of dissatisfaction between liberals and conservative balance on the Court is that Conservatives tend to roll back liberal social gains of the last few years including election protections for minorities, gay marriage, even birth control, and the view corporations have First Amendment rights to contribute large, anonymous campaign sums to political candidates--typically to Republicans.

 Justices serve for life, promising years of very conservative decisions from the body that was designed to be non-partisan.

Wikipedia: the Federal Judiciary

Cabinet Level Departments

The major federal Executive Departments are supervised by the Executive Branch under the President and most Department Secretaries form the President's Cabinet.   The President appoints the Cabinet members who supervise their departments, which employ many thousands of federal and contract workers in Washington and scattered all over the country at outposts around the world on foreign soil.

US Federal Agencies
Federal Agencies generally fall under the Executive branch, led by the President. Other departments whose appointed heads are members of the President's Cabinet is a larger list. They include the Department of Health and Human Services, Departments of Labor, Veterans Affairs, the Post Office, Department of Energy, Interior overseeing parks and federal lands, Treasury governing the American money supply, and Transportation overseeing highways, aviation, shipping, and more. Below are some key departments many Americans are familiar with:

Wikipedia: Summary of the Departments 

Links to the Cabinet Level Departments

The Secretary of State.  Maintains  US Embassies, consulates, outposts, Overseas Travel information, Passports, Ambassadors and diplomatic staff.  

The Secretary of State oversees the Embassies around the world and often personally conducts the highest level negotiations on behalf of the President with similar level leaders around the world.  He or she works for peace among nations and conducts both political and economic relationships.  Consider the Secretary of State as the US personal emissary in foreign relationships.

Most Americans contact the State Department for Passports to other nations and when traveling, to Embassies and Consulates.

Wikipedia: US Foreign Relations 

Secy of Defense
Joint Chiefs of Staff

 Army    Navy    USCG  
    Marines      USAF        SpaceCmd

The Attorney General, federal investigations
Prosecution of federal laws
Deputies and regional District Offices

   FBI   DEA   ATF   ICE    more

Dept of Homeland Security
  CIA     Immigration
Federal Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness

The EPA is a large regulatory agency that assures the health and safety of the nation's resources to include maintaining clean air, water, and land. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education.

It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures. It inspects public and private entities and has the power given by Congress to order chemical and polluting cleanups, measure pollutants according to Clean Air and Water regulations and it's own directives on business operations to safeguard the environment.  

Department of the Interior

National Parks Svc 
Oversees all Public lands and waterways,  including reserved federal forest lands and designated Historic Sites of land and buildings around the nation to promote and save the nation's cultural heritage. It includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Reclamation.Ocean Management, Fish and WIldlife Management, Geological Surveys.

Veterans Affairs 
GI Bill, Health, Education, Loans, more

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin
National Weather Service 
and NASA. Also supervises regulations related to the business climate and overseas shipping and trade, Census Bureau, Patent Office, Bureau of Standards, NOAA (Weather)

Bureau counts the population and collects data for public use every 10 years. This site shares certain public data by state and city, by gender, age and racial demographics. The Census Bureau does not release information it collects from its house-to-house enumeration until after 70 years. It collects the names, ages, exact address, and occupations of all adults and children, as well as their countries of origin if foreign born. The Census bureau has released the results of the 1950 census. It has done so across the country where possible since the early 1700s. The department releases for a fee the information found it the states and cities with maps and enumeration documents down to the street and house level, and who was residing in them at the time. The easiest way for the public to get information on ancestors is to log in to the Mormon Church's huge website to search for relatives and it will when possible, automatically locates each census address of record by matching the names, and those living there at the time it was collected. Before the Civil war, Negroes were also listed, generally only by first name and age if known at the time of the census.. (A 1940 sample from Detroit:)

Genealogists find a great deal of information from that Census data provided by whomever answered the door when the enumerator knocked. The information is not always accurate because residents may not know the exact ages of residents there, or speak sufficient English or name spelling of fellow occupants, which ordinarily are family, and sometimes boarders at the homes and apartments.

Tragedy struck the Commerce Department in the early 1920s when a disastrous Washington DC fire destroyed almost all of their stored census documents of 1890. Because of those lost records, researchers can only see who and where residents might have been in 1880 or 1900--a twenty year span. After the fire, the Commerce Department made changes to assure US census records be more securely archived.
National Aeronautics and Space Admin (NASA)
Operates the US space program, including launching space vehicles into orbit for communications (satellites) and exploration; runs the astronaut training programs with help from the military.

Department of the Treasury
   Internal Revenue Service 
Secret Service, IRS, financial safeguards by banks and other institutions, safeguarding the money supply from counterfeiting and also overseeing federal firearms safety regulations.

Transportation Dept

Supervision by NTSB (Natnl Transportation Safety Board), overseeing aviation safety FAA, rail, Fed Highway Admin, Pipelines, Trucking and Water shipping industries.
Pete Buttigieg is Biden's director.

Health and Human Services
This department has a huge budget because Social Security and Medicare are among the largest departments serving mostly retired and handicapped citizens. Money is collected from workers' paychecks and used to send checks to recipients, generally after age 62 or 65 or those approved for disability payments.   Republicans have wanted to cut both of these popular programs but that is difficult politically because so many Americans depend on those checks which amount to a percentage of their highest annual earnings when they were working.
Social Security  
Retirement, Disability Benefits for Americans

   Medicare   FB
Medical Care for Retired and Disabled Americans


Housing and Urban Development
  Supervising low income and elderly housing programs in major cities and providing special funding for those who qualify and find spaces in existing programs or buildings.

Assistance, regulations, subsidies to farmers, meat, dairy and other food inspections, meals programs for schools and the poor.  It has a very large department to fund its army of farm advisors and scientists and subsidy programs.   Other than the military, it may staff more than all other departments.

Dept of Labor
Supervision of Labor laws, including OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health), Wage and Hour regulations, Unemployment Insurance, Union management.

Dept of Energy
Manages the nation's Energy policy and supervises with extensive regulations, the  energy generation including nuclear power and works to prevent nuclear proliferation to other nations.

Supervision of federal education regulations, special education for the handicapped and monitoring equal opportunity and some study of pupil achievement.  (most school administrations are actually run by school boards at the local, state, and tribal levels but DOE does fund many programs from the federal government.

Lesser Agencies of importance

The Postal Service
Postmaster General appointed by a board. The post office has regional centers that automate most of the sorting of mail and packages and Post offices in most cities and towns. THE USPO funds itself through sales of stamps and Counter charges for letters and packages. Additionally, the PostOffice contracts with private carriers like UPS, FedX to efficiently deliver packages to homes and businesses of the goods' last mile to their destination. Similarly, USPO contracts private companies to both pick up and deliver mail to and from heir destinations.

The federal governments recordkeeper


Wikipedia in Simple English
123,000 articles Perfect for those whose
language isn't primarily English,  
Fewer details than

BestLinks US for Dummies
100 links of Political and Economic Terms and topics, many from Wikipedia

Wikipedia Articles

US Political Parties

Federalism:  The Role of States

Republican and Corporate influence on state legislatures.

This group writes conservative legislation for state Republican legislators to attempt passage on pro-business, women's choice, and election practices favoring Republican control and power.

Progressives and Democrats seek to reduce the influence ALEC member corporations and political activists exert to promote, and even author Republican laws seeking to cut public services and provide corporations with advantages in state laws and some social issues favored by religious and other groups to keep them supporting Republican politicians.

STATES Politics Generally Non partisan

Essay: End the ELECTORAL College

An essay from Democracy Now on why the way we elect our president isn't democratic when small states get more power than more populated states.   This is an explanation.  Simple Wikipedia discussion on the system 

   Alt-Park Svc FB : 1.3m like this rogue site

Protecting Your Rights

 The ACLU    
The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization of attorneys dedicated to fighting for citizen civil rights, both as Friends of the Courts, and also in some cases, actual representation of important cases raised by people who cannot fight the big fights.

 Police Injustice

What's the difference between 
Republicans & Democrats?   

Four Freedoms Speech 
President Roosevelt 1941

Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear,-98.24/6
Real time all worldwide airline flights (Except China and Russia and other closed nations..  To visually follow an airline flight, know the airline and flight number, or the Departure or Arrival Airport date and time. 

 This site will graphically show you where the flight is in the air and even drill down to the airport and see if it has landed and on the airport tarmac.  Additional information about the aircraft itself is included.   This is a great site to WATCH FOR FLIGHT CHANGES and follow jetliners even in Europe and other parts of the world.

Google:  Nuclear War Checklist

UN - United Nations 

Suburban Population Statistics
(by States and Cities;
not a Census bureau site)

Interactive Maps 
Maps of the US, States, World, history
Your Child Learns - free online education

If It Were My Home 
(country comparisons)

A Treasury of Primary Documents
This is an invaluable set of links to American and European classic and important documents throughout history--like the Bible and early translations, Constitutions, early Colonial, historic documents from the US Founding Fathers back to the Middle ages and more than you even know about.

Tenth Amendment Center
Dedicated to Constitutional limits on Feds
Government, US and World History    UPI Defense News
Private news organizations covering the military

YouTube Marine Corp Recruiting Commercials

Music Video:  Military Tribute by Kiss' Gene Simmons & Audience,

Air Force Band mobs the Smithsonian

Defense One

Military News Video Essays:  
A peek at the supercarrier USS Gerald R Ford
Newest carrier in the mideast, Hell on the seas in detail

The growing Chinese threat now and ahead 
A detailed look at the present and future US Navy submarine innovations

YouTube One Hour film
 by Rachel Maddow, PhD, MSNBC
Parody site.  Don't let your kids read
 any of the doomsday stuff