I can set my preferences as you describe, click on politics and subtitles within politics and cannot find my own threads there--threads I have tagged politics or those subtitles--much less many other threads started by others I am looking forward. ....
Your own topics can be found by going to "My Topics" (top of the page). Or, go here: http://able2know.org/user/foxfyre/topics/
Substitute another user's name for yours in that link and you'll find their topics, e. g. http://able2know.org/user/DrewDad/topics/
That might be an easier way of finding things.
Also, one issue with Politics is that it's large and probably has the most topics with one specific tag. Hence what you're looking for might be on succeeding pages.
To find topics you've tagged, go here: http://able2know.org/user/Foxfyre/tags/
or just click "My Tags". Substitute another user's name for yours in that link and you'll find their tags, e. g. http://able2know.org/user/Occom_Bill/tags/
Note that for Bill, since he's got a space in his username, you need to put in an underscore between the two words.
Also, here's a link to anything you have tagged as Politics: http://able2know.org/user/foxfyre/tags/politics/
Again, substitute different tag names and/or usernames and you'll find different stuff, e. g. http://able2know.org/user/kickycan/tags/sports/
That might also be a way to find stuff. Yet another way is with the search up top, which is based on Google so it's done the same way as a Google search. The difference is that it only searches within www.able2know.org
but otherwise you can use the same logic like putting double quotes around phrases you're searching for, etc.
I think one thing that's happening is there's a LOT of new stuff and so things might be missed, and then changes are made and it's tough to think, okay, that was the way it was done yesterday but now today .... "My Tags" and "My Topics", though -- I believe both of them have been there all along since the launch.
In any event, a lot of changes means it can be tougher to get used to things but since not everything can be changed at once (small group of developers who do not have 100% of their time devoted here), there are opportunities to get used to things, and then you may find easier ways to do stuff or at least means of asking for improvements. Nick and Craven are rather flexible and I agree with you on the idea of it not being all or nothing. Still, there's just so much they can do, plus they have to do a cost-benefit analysis, not only in terms of actual dollar costs but also in terms of performance and their own time they can spend developing, etc. Some changes will come quickly, others will await time, money, skill or something else, while others won't come until much later, if at all (and in the meantime, different solutions may be devised). And so it goes with development.