Thursday, January 22, 2009

Article on Cogress: US Democrats Flex New Power...

The article US Democrats Flex New Power, Pass Pay Equity Bill discusses the fact that now, with the democrats in control of Congress and the White House, many more liberal bills are being passed and made into law. The bill discussed in the article is the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was passed in the Senate last Thursday. The bill, of which a similar version recently passed in the House of Representatives as well, is now being discussed in a conference committee to iron out the differences and prepare it to be sent to President Obama's desk. He is expected to sign the bill into law early in his term. Once the bill is passed, the requirements for discrimination suits would be changed so that "each new discriminatory paycheck triggers a new 180-day statute of limitations" during which people can file lawsuits against employers for pay discrimination. The bill in essence overturns a 2007 Supreme Court Decision that made it tougher to sue for pay discrimination. (The Supreme Court had said the suit must be filed within 180 days of the first offense.)

The article directly relates to how a bill becomes a law and how the strong majority of Democrats in US politics will affect many bills in the coming months and years. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is very similar to one that the Republicans blocked last year. However, now that the Democrats are in control, the bill was approved 61-36 and, according to the article, "Democrats now expect to pass many of the bills previously stalled by Republicans and send them to President Barack Obama to sign into law."Therefore, the article supports the idea that Senate and House of Representatives are very important in American politics because of the power they have over the development of bills into laws. Without the majority of Democrats in the Senate and House as well as the Democratic control of the presidency, the article makes it clear that many bills proposed by the Democrats would not be able to become laws and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act may have been stopped on the Senate floor.

Mock Congress

Well, I am taking this opportunity to resign as speaker of the house. It was an interesting experience, but not one I would ever like to have in any seriousness. I have no intentions of ever entering politics, but did find the mock congress i recently partook in amusing. I think that it was most definitely a rough go at representing the House of Representatives, but did help me to understand bill making to some extent. I wish the discussion could have been more directed and that is largely my fault, so I apologize. I must say it was difficult to accurately represent Congress because we don't really know much about the real world of numbers. As seventeen and eighteen year olds we don't know how much things cost or how much any percent of tax will earn us. Therefore, our numbers were constantly off and constantly being debated instead of generally debating the bills, but nevermind that. It was still an interesting experience and I rather wish we would have had more time to thoroughly discuss the topics and ideas that came up during the mock congress.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I was really glad that so many teachers at school allowed us to watch the live video coverage of President Obama's inauguration. It is an historical event that I'm glad I got to see live if even only on television. I thought that it was interesting how almost depressing Obama's speech was. It was by no means the uplifting, "I'm going to make these next four years great" speech that I think many inaugurations could be. It mentioned several times the crises that America faces and the need to stay strong and have faith in America. I think overall it was a good message, but not what I was expecting.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

The climatic filibuster in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is an interesting example of a sometimes used congressional technique. Jefferson Smith used the technique to the best of his abilities. After doing poorly against the political machines in congress initially, Mr. Smith, with the help of his female counter part, successfully implemented the filibuster to attack the political machine of James Taylor. However, the movie was rather movie-esque. The success of the political machines and the inability of many, such as the Boy Rangers, to combat them seemed exaggerated, but I liked the movie nonetheless. It illustrated the workings of congress in a not entirely inaccurate way and was entertaining at the same time.

Pork 2

According to the article by John Ellwood and Eric Patashnik, pork may not be desirable, but may be necessary to provide incentives for congressmen to make some tough decisions. Those decisions include cutting programs or raising taxes to try and decrease the ever expanding budget deficit. It is wise to limit pork and try to only use it for sensible, helpful programs, but it is not wise and probably not possible to eliminate it entirely. Instead the object of politicians and pork ought to be, as the article states, to "harness the pursuit of self-interest to public ends." In other words, pork may be necessary in some situations as an incentive for congressmen to work towards more important legislation that may be originally unfavorable.

The above paragraph is what the article says and to a certain degree I agree with it. I agree that it would be difficult to convince politicians to give up pork entirely because pork allows them to play the hero in their constituencies. However, I don't think that pork should necessarily be used as a bargaining chip. It may be idealistic, but I would like to think that politicians ought not need an incentive to work for the betterment of the nation instead of for their own self-interest. However, as I said that idea is idealistic, I understand that it will not come to fruition. Politicians will forever be working for their own reelection and the interests of the nation, of reducing the federal deficit, will generally take a back seat to the self-interest of our politicians. Therefore, I once again agree with the article that the best the country can hope for is simply the harnessing of the self-interest of our politicians, possibly, although I dislike the idea, with the wise apportionment of pork.

harness the pursuit of self-interest to public ends

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I think that porking deserves to be a controversial subject. There is no clear right or wrong concerning porking. I am not a big proponent of porking, but I believe that it is most necessary to try to find a balance. Yes, constituencies need money and porking is a rather good way to get that money, but money doesn't grow on trees. Sometimes it is necessary to think of fiscal responsibility rather than the needs of the constituents. Simply handing out money left and right through porking may help some areas, but such an action would also be fiscally irresponsible. Not only must a government take over its constituents, but it most take care of itself and one way to do that is to be fiscally responsible and know when it is necessary to cut back on porking.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

David Price Reading

To be honest I thought David Price's essay was rather boring for the most part. Sure we should be interested in what our representatives do, but to know their daily schedule seems excesive. Yes, politicians go to a lot of meetings and talk a lot and get things done every now and then, but who exactly they're talking to everyday is of little interest to me.

I must say that the essay did gather more of my interest near the end when it began discussing the modern state of political campaigning, etc. The essay becomes more agressive towards the end in its disapproval of attack campainging and cynical politics.

An interesting line is the line in the second to last paragraph, "All of us feel occasionally that "I'd rather vote against this than to have to explain it," but we should worry if we find ourselves taking this way out too often or on matters of genuine consequence." It is funny the apathy not only of many American voters, but also appparently of our politicians.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I can Gerrymander with the best of 'em

I actually rather enjoyed that gerrymandering game. It was annoying that you couldn't see behind the people and i didn't realize I could move them for the longest time, but it was actually a rather entertaining game. Obviously, I bet actual gerrymandering is a lot more complicated, but it is interesting to see how redistricting affects politics.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bennett to Senate

I think Governor Ritter's appointment of Michael Bennett to the US Senate seat recently vacated by Ken Salazar is an interesting choice that will probably pay off in the end. Michael Bennett was the head of the Denver school districts before the appointment and in his three years in the position has made some good steps forward including working to rejuvenate a failing school by closing it and then reopening it one grade at a time better than before. The school system in Denver also did very well financially under Bennett. Overall, not much is known politically about Bennett, but I think he'll be a fine senator. He has established himself in the education sector and it will definitely be interesting to see how he does in other areas. Being practically a no name before this appointment, it is imperative, if Bennett would like to keep his seat for more than the two years left in Salazar's term, that he makes a name for himself and becomes recognized by many Coloradans who, before his appointment, generally knew nothing about him.