Thursday, October 27, 2011

Best. Blog. Ever.

The blog you are about to read is the best ever. I have proclaimed it, thus it be so. October is American Cheese Month, Caffeine Addiction Recovery Month and Feral Hog Month. This month has some awkward recognitions: it’s National Bake and Decorate Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month and National Caramel Month while also being National Dental Hygiene Month. It’s also Pizza month and appropriately it’s also Sausage month. Nothing about Pepperoni. And not to leave anybody out it’s also National Vegetarian month which is not to be confused with November, National Vegan month. Seems like this blog should be in December which is Awareness Month of Awareness Months Month though I’m just celebrating October as National Sarcasm Month. (See full list.)

Video Version of Blog:

President Obama issues nearly 200 Presidential Proclamations per year…about on par with President Reagan. President Bush (#43) had approx. 120 and President Clinton averaged 125. In March I missed “National Poison Prevention Week” but escaped unscathed. That’s probably because I skipped “Read Across America Day.” I’m happy to have passed on “National Donate a Life Month.”
I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong about establishing days/weeks/months to observe certain issues. Theoretically it raises awareness and provides a context to educate, inform and enlighten the population. For particular industries it probably helps justify certain lobbying costs. For example, May 28 is National Asparagus Day. Did you also know that in honor of the day each year there’s a National Asparagus Queen?

In these days of hyper partisanship governments at the local, state and federal level have few ways to acknowledge constituents. Anybody can order a flag that has been flown above the U.S. Capitol – but there is a fee. The flag will have only flown for a second or two because of the voluminous requests... 100,000 flags fly each year.

Presidential proclamations are not just ceremonial. Pardons are effected through the proclamation process, like President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon and President Carter’s pardoning of Vietnam Draft Evaders.  Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freeing 3.1 million of the country's 4 million slaves is perhaps the most significant.

An Executive Order from the President differs from a proclamation because it is usually made as a clarification or direction to an Act of Congress which authorizes the President to do so whereas a proclamation is a directive of established powers. Both have the weight of law.  President Obama has issued 97 Executive Orders to date. George Bush (#43) issued 290, Bill Clinton 363. The champion, however, is Franklin D. Roosevelt who issued 3,728…573 in 1933 alone.

In and of themselves, most of the proclamations and executive orders facilitate the function of government. That changed significantly this week when President Obama said he will start issuing executive orders to forge new economic policies because "we can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. … Where they won't act, I will.”

The U.S. system of government has three equal branches of Government. By design. By intent. It’s a checks and balance system. It was born out of an abundance of caution in not wanting to replicate the parliamentary system of Britain. If we as a country want to throw it out, then we have a process to do so. But until that happens, it is wrong for one branch go around the other. No matter how frustrating things are.

Pundits, politicians and every day Americans bemoan the state of political discourse today. Both the “Occupy Wall Street” and the “Tea Party” movements give voice to the impotence that people feel about government’s ability to solve problems. Consider, however, that the system is actually working. Americans are divided on how to solve entrenched problems. The popular vote for elections have for generations shown a nearly 50/50 divide. It is therefore appropriate that the political system is also at an impasse.

The stalemate can either be accepted or solved through leadership. A leader is somebody who will come up with a way to navigate the impasse while maintaining their integrity, if not necessarily adhere to their orthodoxy. Leadership is not doing an end run around your opponent. It is not running a war by Executive Order as President Clinton did in Bosnia. Or fighting terrorism by Executive Order as President Bush did. Nor can Executive Orders fix the economy as President Obama hopes. Maybe they can all get in a room and figure it out on November 4 which is National Common Sense Day. If not, there’s always November 21 to 28: National Deal Week.

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