Daily Archives: September 22, 2011

Some thoughts on the complexities of governing in the United States (or why John Boehner is boxed in)


There’s a good article here on why the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Can’t Make The House Work.

The article really shows the challenge American federal politicians have in promoting and passing legislation. Not only must any legislation get through both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it must also get past the veto of the President. (Not to mention it must not be found unconstitutional by the various courts up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court.) I recommend the article highly.

There is another issue not touched on here. And that is that John Boehner the politician is boxed in. I think Boehner has to try to govern with not only the majority of the majority. He also has to heed  a minority of Republicans in the House that are associated with the Tea Party and whom act like they have a veto. I think that Boehner believes that if he does not acquiesce to them, then he will lose his job as Speaker to someone who will. The result is that he is a much weaker Speaker than any Speaker in along time. Weaker than Pelosi or Hastert, and certain weaker than DeLay or O’Neill. (Gingrich went from hero to zero after 1998 and wasn’t so much weak as dead after the revolt.) He barely can get enough votes at any given time to scrap together a majority and keep his job.

By the way, this shows too the complexity of governing in the United States. There are so many gates, both formal and informal. I think this is bewildering to most people. Indeed, alot of the time I see people complain, saying things like: “why doesn’t the President do something?”; and being totally ignorant of the fact that the President can’t even formally initiate any legislation. He can work with the House and the Senate to initiate something he approves of and would not veto, but it is up to them to do that. And it is up to the leaders in the House and the Senate to gauge whether or not they even want to take it up. If they don’t, the President can rail all he wants, but to no avail. (The president does have other means to effect change, and he has alot of power in foreign matters, but his power is limited in terms of setting domestic legislation.)

Americans, certainly American columnists, need to have a better awareness of how their system of government works. It’s not a dictatorship or a monarchy, and its doesn’t operate the way the governments of Britain or Canada operate. It’s a good form of government, albeit one not conducive to getting a lot done quickly and easily, unless in catastrophic times.

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When does autumn start? It depends….

I was surprised reading this, A CUP OF JO: First day of fall, that the first day of fall is actually tomorrow, the 23rd. I thought it always fell on the 21st! According to this, the date moves around quite a bit. Usually Fall/Autumn starts on September 22, but in 2011, 2014 and 2015, it falls :) on the 23rd.

Good to know.

 (Image linked to from A Cup of Jo.)

The diseases that kill are the ones we know

While new and exotic diseases are frightening, the ones to worry about are the ones we already well know, based on this article (Global health: Developing diseases | The Economist) and this chart:

I suspect as the developing world gets richer, mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCD) will grow to become a greater cause of death. And yet this is a partially a good thing, because when it comes to NCDs, each of us can take action to delay or deflect or prevent some of them. Much more so than poor people in developing countries struggling with communicable diseases, I suspect.

(Found via Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Thanks!)