Showing posts with label US Congress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Congress. Show all posts

Feb 3, 2017

National Lame Duck Day

On February 6 National Lame Duck Day recognizes the ratification of the 20th Amendment on February 6, 1933 to the United States Constitution, or the Lame Duck Amendment.
The term 'lame duck' originated as a description of stock brokers in 1700s England who could not pay off their debts. The term later carried over to businessmen who, while known to be bankrupt, would continue to do business.
The official record of the United States Congress of January 14, 1863 read, "In no event ... could [the Court of Claims] be justly obnoxious to the charge of being a receptacle of 'lame ducks' or broken down politicians." In politics a lame duck is a person currently holding a political office who has either: lost a re-election bid, chose not to seek another term, was prevented from running for re-election due to a term limit, or the office held has been eliminated.
Prior to the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution there was, for Congress a 13 month delay between election day and the day the newly elected officials took office. In the case of a lame duck, this was a 13 month notice his or her job was terminating, crippling his or her influence. Hence the lame or injured duck. The 20th Amendment shortened this period from 13 months to 2 months and changed the dates for the beginning of the new Congress to January 3 and when the newly elected president took office from March 4th to January 20th.
During a lame duck session, members of Congress are no longer accountable to their constituents. It is possible for their focus to switch to more personal gain instead of acting on behalf of their constituents with an eye toward re-election. Lame duck Congresses have declared war, impeached a president, censured a senator, and passed the Homeland Security Act among other actions. Lame duck Presidents have pardoned many criminals, issued executive orders, confiscated land to create national parks, declared areas to be newly opened or newly restricted from drilling for oil, created additional federal judges, executive clemency for family members, and more.

Jimmy Carter's administration published more than 10,000 pages of new rules between Election Day and Ronald Reagan's Inauguration Day. When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration acted to block the implementation of 90 final rules that were issued in the final months of the Clinton administration, but that had not yet gone into effect.

Incidentally, unlike the United States Congress, there is no 'lame duck session of Parliament in most Commonwealth countries between the general election and swearing in of elected officials.

Dec 30, 2016

Political Time

Less than one hundred years ago, the US Congress passed the Standard Time Act in 1918, which established a single, standard system of timekeeping for the entire US and designated its five time zones by reference to the Greenwich meridian. 'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918. It both established standard time zones and set summer Daylight Saving Time to begin on March 31, 1918. Daylight Saving Time was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919.

After the War ended, the law proved so unpopular that it was repealed the next year with a Congressional override of President Wilson's veto. Daylight Saving Time became a local option, and was continued in some states and in some cities.

After many changes to the clocks, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 DST law  should "the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant". Going from 2007 forward, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. There are now seven time zones for the United States, EST (Eastern), CST (Central), MST (Mountain), PST (Pacific), AKST (Alaska), and HAST (Hawaii).

The earth is about 4.5 billion years old and finally, nine years ago, US politicians finally agreed to what time it is (unless it proves unpopular). Luckily they have not seen fit to change the calendar and we can still celebrate the New Year on January 1.

These same politicians tell us they can predict the future about many things, including global warming, but they cannot even agree on what time it is or if "energy savings are not significant".

Mar 13, 2015

Pi Day

Tomorrow is Pi day (not to be confused with Pi approximation day celebrated July 22) - On 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 in the morning will be a once in a century happening and we all get to celebrate it.
Pi Day was invented by physicist Larry Shaw and the first Pi Day celebration was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. In 2009 the US Congress officially recognized March 14 as Pi Day in the United States.