Bye-bye 111 -- 12/22/10
The 111th Congress of the United States adjourned Sine Die.
Goodbye and good riddance to a disgusting collection of hacks and crooks and incompetents. I suppose, since a number of incumbents were defeated, one might hope that the 112th Congress will be a breath of fresh air and competency and honesty and reason.
Yeah, I suppose...
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution -- which was ratified in 1933 (and took effect in 1935) -- changed the dates on which incoming elected federal officials (i.e., President, Vice President, and Congress) officially took office.
The President and Vice President were sworn in and took office in March. This caused serious problems during the months following the November 6th election in 1860 when the newly-elected Abraham Lincoln could not take office until March of 1861, while the Democrat-controlled southern slave states -- especially South Carolina and the cotton states -- were passing secession resolutions and raising armies, and the hapless and incompetent President Buchanan was wringing his hands and dithering in the White House. (It is especially horrifying to watch this happening day by day in the Long Recall series on the American Interest website, where they post news articles and editorials from 150 years ago.) This problem arose again in 1933 when, in the midst of economic chaos, the nation was waiting for FDR to take office in March.
The same thing applied to Congress... something that made sense in 1788 when travel was slow and torturous, but not once railroads (and then highways and airplanes) made travel so much faster. This led to many lame duck sessions of Congress, where laws (both good and bad -- but guess which would have been in the majority) were passed by the votes of many who had been rejected by the voters. Perhaps now we need to change the Congressional term starting dates so that our repudiated and rejected political hacks can be sent on their way earlier.
When reading the events of late 1860 on a daily basis at the Long Recall, from the same newspaper sources that would have been available if I had been around then, I am struck by how the politicians (and the newspaper pontificators as well) seemed to be as clueless and biased and venial as those we have today. Looking at this optimistically, I think: well, despite such incompetent "leadership" we are here today, as a nation we survived. Looking at it more pessimistically, I think: look at where that incompetent "leadership" led them. No, we don't face a civil war, but the dangers of runaway inflation and economic collapse are looming higher and higher and they just don't seem to get it.
The best Congress money can buy.
A brief introduction.... (edited to update it from 2006)
A brief introduction for anyone who wanders in here from the Holidailies site -- I'm a middle-aged (*cough* okay,