Posts Tagged ‘Senate’

Okay, we have covered some of this ground before in various other postings, but maybe given the current state of the “leadership” in D.C., and, the blaring ignorance of the most basic principles and the unrivaled gullibility of sheeple to ignorantly comment on and perpetuate the endless streams of stupidity run rampant on social media sites, it is time we break some of these key points of American Civics.

1.  We are NOT a democracy.  I know hard to believe after all these years of the blind following the blind for the truth to come out, but what we are as a nation is a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC which uses the democratic process.  Now that you have that term readily available, feel free to do something you have probably never done before; research something for yourself, and, in this case, Wikipedia will probably suffice as a somewhat accurate means of getting an answer.

2.  Impeaching the President will not actually remove him from office.  I know, I know, you have read three words from a really cool meme or skimmed an article from a less than reputable website that included the words: Impeachment; President; and, Obama, and think that is the end all be all of the current administration, but, before we go on remember that it would be the Vice-President who would replace him.  That would be Joe Biden for those of you who are not quite read up on current events.

So on with the act of impeachment.  What that really means is to bring charges against, and the sole responsibility for that rests in the hand of the House of Representatives.  Today, for those of you so inclined to hope for the process to begin chances are in our Republican majority House, it is quite possible that this may happen since bringing charges only requires a simple majority at this phase.  This however, is only step one of an intentionally difficult process created by our Founding Fathers.  So, on to phase two.  Charges are preferred and the defendant is now tried in front of the Senate with the trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  Here is where it gets difficult folks, each individual charge requires a 2/3 majority of the voting members of the Senate.

***BREAKOUT SESSION*** Just a little simple math before we go on.  There are 50 states in our Union with two (2) Senators per state. 50 (states) x 2 (Senators per state) = 100.  2/3 of 100 is 66% or a minimum of 66 to 34 YEA votes per charge of guilty  ***END BREAKOUT SESSION***

At the start of the 113th Congress this year the political party breakout is as follows: 52 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 46 Republicans.  So, now, refer back to the previous breakout session and math and factor in the fact that there has not been a partisan decision in either house of Congress for years and what do you think would be the likelihood of a 2/3 majority vote in favor of any of the charges preferred by the House?  Do I even at this point need to go on with the process should there be a miraculous vote of YEA for any of the charges?  I think not.

3.  Only the House of Representatives can provide funding for the government.  That is spelled out plain and simple in the Constitution.  This is regardless of whether or not we actually have a budget.  Appropriated funds, bills of taxation and programmatic funding are the sole responsibility of the House.  Senate approval and Presidential signature are pro forma if the House does not come up with the appropriations to begin with.  The Senate and the President can suggest a budget to the House, but the act must originate there.

4.  The President cannot create law, or, fund a program they create beyond the fiscal year, by Executive Order.

5.  Our current “2 Party” system of government is not the law.  What it is, is the inability of American citizens to give enough of a fuck about the state of affairs to demand better from our elected “leaders” and force them beyond politics and party representation.  We have allowed our President to be the leader of the party as well as the leader of the Nation and not always with the best interests of the country in mind (this is not limited to the current administration, it goes back YEARS).

The Tea Party is not a party.  It is a bunch of extreme right wingers who are further dividing an already out of touch party.  Libertarians are at least making an attempt to represent themselves as a legitimate third party by candidates running for offices as actual Libertarians.  And, let us not forget the Democrats in their entirety, they run the gamut from extremely left wing hippy-dippy give it all away for the greater good liberal to centrist moderation.  Say this for them though, they are good at rallying around a cause, using social media and deflecting attention away from a problem when it is more convenient than doing anything about it.  To sum it all up, we would all be better to vote on actual facts than by party politics and choose the right person to represent us and our needs, regardless of party affiliation.

6.  It is our responsibility as American citizens to insure that those we elect are representing us on the national stage.  Contrary to popular belief this is not representing us as individuals, but as the will of their constituency (that would be the best interests of all those they are elected to represent).  If we are not happy, and it would seem based on the recent satisfaction polls that we are not, then it is up to us to make sure that we are satisfied.

7.  The President is limited to two, four year terms in office with the possibility of an additional two years if they were elevated to the post as a result of the sitting President vacating the office (death, resigning, etc.).  This was done as a result of Congress ratifying the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1951.  This was their means of curtailing the power of the President and the possibility of unlimited power growth after the unprecedented four successful elections of FDR.  In all their forethought in regards to limiting the ability to build a kingdom by the President, they conveniently overlooked limiting themselves and their ability to become career politicians rather than elected people who SERVE at the WILL of the Nation and respect the OATH to the Constitution when they take office.

For those of you who may require a refresher in the Constitution click the word.

And for those of you old enough to remember when they tried to add a little bit of education to our Saturday morning cartoon time, a little School House Rock

Well, the furor has not died down at all on the Secret Service prostitution scandal.  One additional military member has been added to the list of offenders to the moral cause.  It also seems that Congress is chomping at the bit to open one of their ever impressive investigations into the matter.  They are reigning back so far from opening formal proceedings, allegedly to give the appropriate authorities of the respective agency/service to conduct their own investigations and mete out the appropriate punishments in the matter.

How very thoughtful of our above reproach Congressional members from both houses and political parties to give the current investigations time to conclude.  After all, it is much more cost-effective to conduct the investigations with the appropriate internal affairs agencies than it will EVER be for Congress to actually do it.  Those agencies will collect the information from all locations with assets available there to come to their final decisions.  Congress on the other hand will spend millions of dollars to not only pay their staffers and the media they will need to gum up the whole exercise in futility, but they would also pay those poor Columbian sex-workers for their time in order for them to come up to DC and testify before some sort of disciplinary body.  After all there is probably some Senator or House member that needs to see what the goods look like before they plan their next junket somewhere at tax payers expense.

Congress has such a good track record at conducting their investigations into things that do not directly concern them.  Look at the sports steroid issue that has been going on forever or the outcry for justice they recently voiced over the New Orleans Saints Bountygate and how the NFL handles it.  I am sure by the time the Stanley Cup is over in the early summer they will want a referendum on concussions in hockey and how ineffective Brendan Shannahan is at handing out punishment as the NHL enforcer for fair play.  Look how well the Bill Clinton impeachment and subsequent trial went over his “alleged” dalliances with Monica Lewinski and a cigar.

As already discussed in my earlier posting about the 3B’s, there were many personal and professional lapses for all the parties involved.  The authorities who are charged with the investigation and disciplinary actions of those involved already know what they are doing and the situation will take care of itself.  All of the Congressional bluster is just that, bluster, and has more of a political gamesmanship face to it than it does of substance or true moral outrage.  Congress will shut its mouth as soon as we hear about another Conservative Senator who gets caught in an airport bathroom with a member of the same sex, a la George Michael.

Someone suggested this topic to me at work this week.  It has been a fairly popular topic of Facebook type “motivational” posters and talking heads on some of the 24 hour cycle news services.  In an attempt to do some honest due diligence on the topic, I have taken my time and done a little research for information from reliable sources so as to be accurate as possible.  Prior to getting right down to financial compensation we will have a little bit of a description on the positions I will write about.

Our government runs on a bicameral system.  We have two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate.  Often, mistakenly, in conversation the House is referred to as Congress.  Congress is both houses together.  The House of Representatives is much larger than the Senate.  Fixed by law at 435, the number of representatives is apportioned based on population of the individual states per each census.  It is possible that a state may lose or even receive an additional number of representatives based on the rise or fall of the population base.  435 is also the number of total votes available in the Electoral College during Presidential elections.

The Senate is a number fixed by law at two (2) per state, for a current number of 100.  Originally, Senators were chosen for their terms by a vote of the legislature for the state which they represented.  Senators served their six (6) year terms not by popular vote, but as a term of service chosen by their state.  One of the fundamental differences between the two houses is that Senators are elected to represent the state, while Representatives are elected to represent their constituents of their assigned districts.  The election of Senators was changed by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

Each Senator serves a six year term on a staggered basis, so there is always a senior Senator per state.  Representatives serve a two year term with roughly half up for re-election each year.  The Senate is considered the Upper House and were considered the more educated of Congressional Members and representative of the sovereignty of the state.  Representatives due to their short terms  were intended to represent the people directly thereby being a more civil service oriented term.  Neither of the houses were ever intended to be career positions and in fact it was almost considered a hardship to perform the duties and responsibilities.  Salaries in the original years were of a compensatory nature because it was not easy to travel from home district; transportation was primitive and it could not be expected to have members traveling back and forth.  That is also another reason why Congressional sessions were established so that business could be taken care of en masse over a specified period of time, not creating a financial hardship and allowing members to maintain their own business ventures during periods they were not in session.  It was a civic duty, not a career choice.

Ok, now to demonstrate how salaries of congressional members has changed from compensating them for their time to salaried career take a look at the following chart.  Note the per diem/per annum changes.

For a complete explanation of salaries of Congress persons and the President of the United States and the associated benefits take a look at the following Congressional Research Service report:

Congressional Salaries and Allowances

Now that we have established what our career political representatives milk from us each and every year while finding some not so creative or subtle ways of misusing our taxes, lets take a comparative look at what the rank and file may make in comparison in order to keep our country safe.  As a happy medium I will try to find salaries based on the 15 year of a career mark:

Police Sergeant – $63,648

Fireman – $47,470

Active Duty Military

Now, I will not so much complain about my salary in the military (E8 with 18 years).  This is my base pay and I get some other compensations as well.  Compared to when I came into the Army way back in the early 1990’s I do not do too bad.  The thing to consider is my compadres and I are actually fulfilling our volunteer obligations, close to 6000 of which have paid the ultimate sacrifice at some point in the last 10 years.  I am not sure to date what the overall police and firefighter statistics are, but our Global War on Terror started in part with the death of a few hundred NYC Police, Fire and EMS personnel, not to mention the several thousand civilians who were casualties of the events of 9/11.

Since 2001 Congress has approved for themselves $29,000 plus in raises while soldiers who have deployed and fought in far off hellholes have only realized an overall 10% increase in pay.  We have received on average a 2.5% increase per year and during 2011 with budget considerations nearing critical faced the potentiality of not getting paid for a few months, all while being required to continuing our service since we volunteered for it.  Congress nor the President was in danger of not getting paid during those particular months of crisis by the way.  I could not find the increase figures for police or fire departments for the same time period, but I really cannot believe with the budgetary constraints of most states and municipalities that they would receive more than a 3% per annum raise  other than in certain areas of the country.

Congress limited the number of terms a President can serve because they did not want another Roosevelt; someone who was able to establish himself in power of a period of years and influence how the country was run due to his longevity.  They never felt the need to limit their own power and term of office.  Both houses have placed their career mindedness over the needs of the country.  If they are going to collect a per annum salary rather than compensation for specified periods of work, then they should be available to work for the good of the country full time, with no session breaks.  They should also consider limiting the terms of office.  Term limits are amongst one of the many things that could help limit the influence of political lobby.  Political office should be a SERVICE to the country, not a CAREER for the politician.

Well it looks like some of our elected officials are starting to back down from their initial support of controversial Internet related bills.  One of the best known is Senator Marco Rubio from Florida.  According to a Huffington Post article, Rubio, one of the original people to put his name to the Senate’s PIPA has re-evaluated his stance and is paying a little bit of attention to his constituency and the fallout from the internet blackout supported by over 7000 internet companies today.  Companies like Google and Facebook did not completely close down but they did give visitors information related to the acts with Google blacking out it’s logo.  Wikipedia provided a place on its main page for you to put in your zip code and they would provide you the contact information for your elected officials; that was the only information they made available on their Web based encyclopedia.  Even WordPress, the provider of this blog space blacked out available information for hosted blogs on it’s Freshly Pressed page.

It is good to see a constructive protest for once.  Currently, there is no violence involved, although some feeling may have been hurt when their favorite site were not available.  I am sure the backlash on these hastily put together bills is being felt by their authors and sponsors on the Hill.  The intent was to try and protect American business but it was not done with the foresight required for something with global implications.  If the Occupy movements could put this kind of constructive effort into trying to right such an obvious wrong they may be seen as something more than just a bunch of people banging on drums, smoking dope and making public spaces unsanitary.  A protest only works when you have a goal and are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your aims.  Today some very economically sound companies were willing to take a hit in their pocketbook in order to get their point across.

UPDATE:  According to a Huffington Post article it looks like Google and WordPress will be joining the blackout in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  Some pretty big names going to have nothing but an information page tomorrow.  Current count is about 7000 websites.

 

Just a quick update on yesterdays posting about SOPA/PIPA. It looks as if both the Senate and the House are backing off on how fast they want to try and get these measures pushed through. It seems a lack of support from the White House and a proposed 12 hour blackout for some pretty major websites is bringing a little heat and giving these acts a much needed relook.  Take a look at the following article for a little more specifics and a few good link about what is going on.

MSNBC