This is the second of a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.
No matter where you are in the world you undoubtedly hear a lot about American politics. You cant turn on a screen without seeing President Trumps tangerine visage plastered in front of the press, with quotes snapped right from his twitter feed running around the blogosphere for years to come.
But what do you actually know about the system that put Trump in the top office?
The federal government of the United States is split into 3 branches, The Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court and the Lower Courts), The Legislative Branch (which is split into the United States Senate, which has two senators from each state, and The United States House Of Representatives which has 435 members from congressional districts, these two institutions are collectively known as the United State’s Congress). And thirdly the Executive Branch (the offices of the President and The Vice President of The United States).
The reason for the separation of powers between the three branches of government, was to create a series of checks and balances, so that no one branch of government could become more powerful than the other. For example the President can veto a bill from congress, the congress can vote down legislation introduced by the president, or the courts, when petitioned, can decided that legislation is unlawful or not in the spirit of the law.
The federal government is based upon the written constitution of the United States, which sets out the way the government should be run, the power of state legislatures, as well as the rights bestowed upon citizens of the country. There are currently 27 amendments to the constitution, the first 10 of which make up the bill of rights, and the others deal with issues such as suffrage, presidential term limits and successions, congressional salaries, and the prohibition/ reinstating of alcohol.
American law can get a little confusing to outsiders, because there are different laws for different states so you actually have 51 different sets of laws for one country. But its actually no different from the way the UK is set, federal government in Washington devolves law making responsibility to local state legislatures, the same way that the UK government devolves law making powers to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. These state legislatures will make laws on many things such as education policy, traffic laws and even controversial things such as gun regulation, gay marriage and drug decriminalisation.
The state governments are governed in much the same way as the federal government, The governor of the state will be held accountable by the state senate and both can be held accountable by district courts and the supreme court.
Hopefully that helps shed some light on the way that laws are made across the pond.
I just saw a facebook post, wherein the poster, was complaining about the price of petrol. Petrol prices seem to do nothing but increase, so its understandable that motorists around the world would be put out by increases in price. However when you actually think about what it is your buying, you may realise that your actually paying a pretty good price.
What your actually buying are the exploding carcasses of dinosaur’s that have been liquidised by time and pressure. That’s right, I said exploding dinosaur remains. So when you think that by filling up your car you are in fact actually trafficking (pun absolutely intended) in the remains of an extinct creature. So think on that when you decide to drive that hundred yards for a loaf of bread. Think about those millions of creatures that gave their lives, over millions of years, just so you could drive your shit little Skoda.
I mean the clue is in the name, fossil fuels, but it doesn’t really get the picture across does it? I mean how would you feel, knowing that your mortal remains would be used so some lazy bugger can go on a beer run? I know how I would feel about it. This is why I think I would like to see more being done for hydrogen cars, or other forms renewable transport, I think we can all agree that there needs to be more investment into that sort of thing, if only because you’ll never get me on a bicycle.
I want to start by saying that I haven’t really ever been a fan of Donald Trump. That being said I want to offer to him my congratulations. In one day as President Of The United States of America Mr Trump has managed to do more in the fight on obesity than President Obama managed in eight years of office, by inspiring hundreds of thousands of men and women to take to the streets in protest, Mr Trump is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of people, estimated at half a million in Washington alone, going out and getting some much needed exercise.
Not only this, Mr Trump is also directly responsible for getting more people from Black, Latina and other ethnic backgrounds involved in the political process, which is surely a good thing. Especially given that yesterdays marches were predominantly Women Against Trump marches, this shows that Mr Trump is already giving women a rallying point in the male dominated political elite, he’s giving them a voice, even if it is to just shout curses against him.
I think this post reflects how my mind works, its a dark place. Especially if I can put a positive spin on massive protest marches, but my moral flexibility would probably allow me to take a press job in the white house if one were going.
I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics
ON BEING IDLE.
ON BEING IN LOVE.
ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
ON BEING HARD UP.
ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
ON THE WEATHER.
ON CATS AND DOGS.
ON BEING SHY.
ON EATING AND DRINKING.
ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)
On Being In Love
Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.
That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.
Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.
This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.
So the bad news from last week is that the orange beast, Donald Trump, won the election to become President Of The United States. I’ve written about Mr Trump’s extremist policies in previous posts. Now however he may have actually done something that I approve of, well something I don’t overly disapprove of at any rate.
Mr Trump has put forward a name for the position of secretary of commerce. Linda McMahon, the former Chief Executive of WWE. Sources close to the Trump team have suggested the potential appointment.
On the face of it this seems like a bad idea, cronyism and nepotism at its best, Mr Trump’s links with the McMahon family are well known, with Mr Trump actually being a member of the WWE hall of fame, and footage of Mr Trump’s ringside antics played throughout the campaign. However, when you look at it in depth the logic behind the decision starts to shine through.
As Secretary of Commerce, Mrs McMahon’s role would be to promote American businesses and industries. Along with her husband she has grown the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) into a company worth over $600 Million, with assets both stateside and abroad. And whilst her political credentials are somewhat lacking, she does have the business acumen both domestically and overseas to actually be a candidate worthy of consideration. Another consideration to mention is her media profile, which is a positive, the WWE is a major media operation and she was at its head, and at times in the past she has even been an on screen presence, and this will only serve her well in the position.
One final consideration is that Mrs McMahon is a woman, and from President Elect Trump’s view, handing out a high level cabinet position to a woman could do a lot to help repair some of the damaging rhetoric of his campaign, and may even bring in a few more women voters for the 2020 elections.
Having taken a little break from blogging due to my health (I’ll live), I’m back with some new rambling self indulgence. In the past I’ve tried to keep this blog free from taking sides in elections or when it comes to party politics, but given the crap that comes out of his mouth, I can’t not talk about Donald Trump.
Its like something out of a satirical work of fiction where a massively racist right-wing, real estate mogul, reality TV star is now the front runner for the Republican nomination for president of The United States of America. This man, who has been declared bankrupt four times, could possibly be the next person in charge of the second largest economy in the world. During the course of his campaign Mr Trump has managed to offend Muslims, Mexicans and even major players within the Republican Party.
One of the Apprentice (US) hosts policies is a ban on Muslims entering the the United States and some form of identification for all Muslim Americans (I would suggest a six pointed star, but I think someone may have already used it). Basically Trump is saying that all members of the Muslim community are terrorists, which is absolutely ridiculous, by Mr Trumps own logic, all white Christian Americans are members of the Ku Klux Klan and that all Irish People are part of the IRA.
Now leaving aside the obvious parallels between the 2016 US Elections and the German elections of 1932 (and another prolific racist with a comb over), fellow members of the Republican Party have been condemning Trump left, right and centre, but trumps policies aren’t just old hand me downs from 80 years ago, they’re genuine antiques from the 2,200 year old Ming dynasty. Yes that’s right one of would be president Donald Trump’s policies is the building of a giant wall spanning the length of America’s southern most border. And why? Because according to trump most Mexican’s are all drug smuggling rapists.
The worst part of this is that people seem to be responding to this, as Trump is now the favourite to win the Republican Nomination (with a projected win of 8%), I have to ask is this the beginning of some Orwellian nightmare or the climax of some form of practical joke? or to quote R.E.M is this the end of the world as we know it? And could the world be facing the Premiership of President Trump?
I have to ask how this has happened? You may think that Mr Trump has a right to say whatever he wants because of freedom of speech (which unfortunately in the US he does, as enshrined in the US Constitution) however if he were standing in the UK I do feel that he would be facing charges for inciting racial hatred under section Section 29 (A) of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act (2006).
Its that time again when the great circus that is American politics is looking for a new ringleader, the man (or woman) to try and get as many acts on message and in the right place at the right time. This is something that seems to happen every four years. I cant believe its been four years since the international community was treated to the absolute bore that was Mitt Romney going up against the political irrelevance that is the incumbent, President Barack Obama, a man whose greatest achievement in two terms of office has been a second term in office. But enough about the legacy of President Obama (or lack thereof) and on to the next inhabitant of the oval office.
For those not in the know and who are we kidding there are many who just don’t care and have never bothered to look too closely into how these things are done. America is a two party state. Representing everything from the neo-fascist to the centre right is the The Republican Party (sometimes know as the GOP) and representing everything from the centre left to the borderline communist you have the Democratic Party.
Now in order to select a presidential candidate both parties hold open primary elections where members of the party vote for who they want to represent their party in the final push for presidency. So the four main contenders on the side of the democrats are:
Hillary Clinton: who was a former first lady to president Bill Clinton, she became the first first lady in history to hold elected office as senator for new york in 2000 and stood for president in 2008 (losing in the primary to Barack Obama), during the Obama presidency she served as Secretary of State until 2013. Mrs Clinton is avid supporter of women’s rights and is an active campaigner against wage inequality. (find more about their campaign here)
Lawrence Lessig : is an Ivy League academic, attorney, and political activist. He is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. (find more about their campaign here)
Martin O’Malley : has served as the Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore after beginning his political career as a Baltimore City Councilor in1 991. He is pro immigration and as governor, he made illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children eligible for in-state college tuition, and in 2012, he also oversaw the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Maryland. (find more about their campaign here)
Bernie Sanders: is the senator and former congressman for the great state of Vermont serving as chair of the senates committee for veteran’s affairs between 2013 and 2015, and before coming to Washington was mayor of the City of Burlington, Vermont. Mr Sanders is known as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform (find more about their campaign here)
And here are the many more contenders for the Republican Nomination:
Ben Carson: Was the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland until his retirement in 2013, and is now an author and political commentator. (find more about their campaign here)
Ted Cruz: Is currently a serving senator for the state of Texas and also a former solicitor General for Texas. He is pro outreach and thinks that growth and opportunity should be the hallmarks of a republican government. (find more about their campaign here)
Carly Fiorina: Former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard and former advisor to republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. (find more about their campaign here)
Mike Huckabee: Former Governor of Arkansas, former Chair for the national governors association, has previously stood in the 2008 presidential primaries losing to John McCain. (find more about their campaign here)
John Kasich: The Governor of Ohio and former member of congress for Ohio’s 12th district where he served as Chair of the House Budget Committee from 1995-2001. Before leaving Ohio for the capital he served with distinction as a member of the Ohio State Senate for the 15th district. (find more about their campaign here)
George Pataki: Former Governor fo New York, and member of the New York State Senate for the 37th district and former representative for the 91st district on the New York State Assembly as well as a former Mayor of Peekskill. (find more about their campaign here)
Marco Rubio: US Senator for Florida, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and former member of the Florida House of Representatives for the 11th district. (find more about their campaign here)
Rick Santorum: Is the current Senator from Pennsylvania and former chair of the Senate Republican Conference as well as a former Congressman for the 18th district of Pennsylvania. (find more about their campaign here)