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Rath Darkblade
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Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:55 pm

So a few months ago, the local supermarkets got rid of all plastic bags, on the grounds that they were pollutants and got into the rivers and seas and creeks, and killed wildlife and so on.

I've no objection to that. But this morning, I forgot my fabric bag at home and had to carry some heavy things in my hands, and thought: "I miss ye olde plastic bags". ;) So I expressed that thought out loud.

To my surprise, a local greenie - one with a pierced nose and a tattoo of the Rainbow Warrior on her left arm and of Steve Jobs on her right arm, and wearing a very short skirt, a green hemp top and an expression of utter annoyance - accused me of being "an ultra-conservative polluting fascist", a "tool of The Man", and so on.

When I pointed out that plastics as a whole - not plastic bags per se - were a useful material, she insisted that they weren't, and that if it were up to her, she'd get rid of every single thing made of plastic that there is. :roll: She kept on yelling that plastic is murder, and that by wishing to use it, I was killing seal cubs and local fish. :roll:

So maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I remember the days when milk and juice and soft drinks came in glass bottles with metal tops. The switch to plastic not only made drinks cheaper, but also made the bottles less brittle. If you accidentally knock over a plastic bottle, it will - obviously - not break.

Perhaps too much plastic is bad for the environment, and perhaps it is a challenge. But to get rid of it entirely... sorry, miss. Not today. Besides, I never even argued with her: I never said that plastic wasn't a pollutant, only that it was very useful. There's plastic everywhere you look: it coats your car keys, it's in your mobile phone case, it's in your car. Bottles and chip packets and jars are made of plastic. Supermarket shelves are made from it. Fresh bread is wrapped in a plastic bag. What does ice-cream come in? That's right - plastic tubs. ;)

I still don't know what I did to deserve that little charade/outburst... :roll: Any ideas?

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by notbobsmith » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:53 pm

Yes, your local "greenie" was out of line. As with everything, it all comes down to moderation and there are few simple answers. Way back when, plastic bags were used to replace paper shopping bags due to concerns about deforestation. Plastics are, to a point, recyclable. The problem is that the US is terrible at recycling and we're pretty much the only country in the world that does single stream, which is really inefficient. Plastic bags can't go into single stream because the fans in the sorting facilities that blow off the light paper will also pick up the bags, contaminating the paper and making it useless. Using glass bottles with metal tops seems like a good idea. Both glass and metal are infinitely recyclable. But they are also heavier, so the trucks carrying them consume more fuel. So which is worse? The same goes with local produce. It seems like a good idea. Support local farms and the food doesn't have to travel very far. But which has the greater carbon footprint: tens of thousands of pickup trucks driving around local produce to the farmers market, or a single freighter carrying a million tons of produce from Peru? Ethanol: fuel derived from corn. No need for fossil fuels, right? Except that the plants consume fertilizer, which is manufactured using natural gas. Petroleum can be transported via pipeline, but ethanol holds onto water which can corrode the pipes so it has to be transported by truck. So it takes fuel just to move it around. So which is worse? Landfill vs. incineration? Nuclear power? And on and on...

Like I said, no easy answers and there are times when a lightweight, flexible material is unavoidable and even potentially beneficial.

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:43 pm

Hmm. I can see your points, bob, and they're good points. :) I remember you said you were a chemist, so I'm sure you know all about this topic - much more so than laypeople, like me. :)

I'm not sure what you mean by "single stream". :oops: Can you explain, please?

Yes, it's true that there are no easy answers. That's why, while I was disconcerted and even a little shocked by her attitude, I was also amused by it. ;)

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of an election right now (yes, another one), and my local electorate is swarming with what used to be called "greenies" and "tree huggers". I'm not sure what the politically-correct term is, but if they get in my face like this, I don't think I should be polite or politically correct to them. ;)

Of course, there's a world of difference between being concerned about the environment, and being plain rude. That lady was rude, full stop. ;)

Incidentally, since I mention the current election - I did the maths, and we've had 6 Prime Ministers in the last 12 years. :shock: Imagine having a new POTUS every two years. I don't know what that says about Australia, except that maybe, we the people don't know what they want out of our politicians, but we're sure they're doing it wrong! :lol:

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by notbobsmith » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:42 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:43 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by "single stream". :oops: Can you explain, please?
Recycling in the US has always been relatively low. So in the last few years, a lot of municipalities introduced "single stream" recycling. Rather than someone separating recyclables in different bins (like what most of Europe does), everything (glass, paper, cardboard, the different kinds of plastics) goes into a single bin. It gets picked up and goes to a sorting center for the various recyclables to be separated. This is done in part by hand and by machine. This is why plastic bags aren't supposed to go into single stream. Big fans are used to blow loose paper from everything else, but plastic bags end up being blown off too. There are a lot of problems with single stream, though. For one thing, people seem to think a magic recycling fairy does all the work with separating things, so people put in things that can't be recycled which makes it more difficult for the center. I live in a condo complex, and just yesterday someone put a garden hose in the recyclables. It's not recyclable. Mixed plastics can be separated to a certain point, but it's not as useful as just one plastic type clean. Much of the paper gets shipped to China. For a while this was economical. Because we import so much stuff from China, more cargo containers come in to US ports than go back. So shipping something back to China costs next to nothing. It goes to their processing centers to be recycled. Unfortunately, because everything is mixed, the paper we send is not of the best quality and contaminated with other junk. So they end up throwing a lot of what comes in away. Since their economy is growing and they have their own trash problems to deal with, they decided that they don't want our paper any more unless it's above a certain quality. This has put a lot of recycling centers in a bind, so now a lot of stuff that goes to the recycling centers ends up being landfilled/incinerated anyway.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:43 pm
Incidentally, since I mention the current election - I did the maths, and we've had 6 Prime Ministers in the last 12 years. :shock: Imagine having a new POTUS every two years. I don't know what that says about Australia, except that maybe, we the people don't know what they want out of our politicians, but we're sure they're doing it wrong! :lol:
I'm not sure I fully understand parliamentary systems. I remember reading that from 2010-11 Belgium "did not have a government" for 589 days. I'm not even sure what that means. How can you "not have a government" for nearly 2 years? But I guess that gives you one up on Belgium. :)

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am

Hmm. Recycling-wise, I suppose we're one-up on the USA: as well as the bins for garbage, we have three separate recycling bins: one for garden waste (leaves, deadwood and so on), one for paper/cardboard, and one for "all other" (i.e. plastic, etc.) I presume it's a good system - I don't know how it works in the recycling plant, though.

As for parliamentary systems - all right, I'll try to explain how it works in Australia. I'll also try not to get too stuffy and boring. :lol:

In Australia, we have seven states: WA (Western Australia), NT (Northern Territory), SA (South Australia), QLD (Queensland), NSW (New South Wales), VIC (Victoria) and TAS (Tasmania). I live in Melbourne, Victoria's capital and biggest city.

Each state is divided into constituencies, a district represented by one or more elected officials. Each constituency is further divided into divisions - smaller sub-districts that represent anywhere between 5 and 10 suburbs, and which return one MP. Whoever is chosen goes to the Australian House of Representatives (the Lower House), and there are 150 seats.

There's also the Senate (i.e. the Upper House), and each State constitutes one multi-member electorate. Currently, 12 senators are elected from each State, and one-half every three years. It's done in what's known as "optional preferential voting", i.e. the voters can number 6 or more boxes on the voting form, and whoever gets the most votes goes to the Senate. Alternatively, voters can choose to vote for individual candidates in their own order of preference (i.e. I want Mr X as my first choice, Mrs Y as my second etc.) - and in that case, at least 12 boxes must be numbered.

That takes care of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I told you it was complicated. ;)

Then, the leader of the largest party in parliament forms the next government. The voters don't get to choose on that. Technically, the head of state (in our case, the Queen - or her representative, the Attorney-General) can choose who the Prime Minister will be. But if parliament don't like who the PM is, they can immediately defeat the government with a motion of no confidence. So the head of state is limited by convention to choosing a candidate who can command the confidence of parliament.

Once the PM is elected, he chooses his Cabinet - a set of Ministers who will advise him, act on his instructions, and will be (more or less) loyal. These are the Cabinet Ministers, and have their own portfolio - the Police, the Army, the Environment, Health and so on. (They're a bit like Secretary of State in the USA). The rest of the MPs (Members of Parliament) in the PM's party form either the front-bench (more loyal MPs) or the back-bench (less loyal ones). The PM also has the support of the Party Whip, whose job it is to bring MPs into line and "persuade" them to vote the way the PM wants. ;)

Unfortunately, not all MPs are always loyal to the PM - sometimes because they want to mount a leadership bid (with the support of the back-benchers), or sometimes because they're genuinely stupid. :P A leadership bid is treated as extremely serious; it is, more or less, someone trying to "back-stab" the current PM and take his job. In the past 12 years, a sitting PM has been ousted like this at least four times - it was a Labour PM twice and a Liberal PM twice. (I'll have more to say on parties in a minute).

Of course, there's more than one party, and the 2nd biggest party usually forms the Opposition. They also have their own MPs, their own Whip and their own Cabinet, known as the Shadow Cabinet. Their job is to oppose anything that the current government says and does. ;)

As for parties - here are the parties we currently have (and please note, I'm trying not to be partisan - this is how things are):

Major Parties
1. Labour. Generally left-wing, they were formed to represent the interests of the unions. They still have a reputation for being union-driven, for promising too much, and not being good at balancing the budget.

2. Liberal. Generally right-wing, but not extreme. They represent the interests of the bosses. They have a reputation for being good at balancing the budget, but for being mean to "the workers" (i.e. blue-colour workers). They're in coalition with the Nationals.

3. National. They represent the interests of farmers, who mainly live in the Bush (i.e. small country towns) and the Outback (i.e. desert). In the big cities, the Nationals are generally regarded as a joke; for the farmers, they're a big deal.

Minor Parties (i.e. extremists)
4. Greens, aka the environmentalists. Extreme left-wing. They have one major policy - the environment - and that's it. Everything else they say is generally obtuse, offensive, or both.

5. One Nation. The most extreme right-wing voice for the past 20 years. They pretend to speak for "ordinary Australians", but generally give voice to racist views as well as ignorant ones (think anti-vaxxing). Their origin is in far-north QLD (a little like the US Bible Belt). They are regarded as an embarrassment, even in QLD.

6. Clive Palmer's United Australia Party. Clive is an ignorant loud-mouth, but a rich one. He made his money from mining and from ignoring his workers. He promises the moon, but doesn't deliver (think mini-Trump). Even his slogan is similar: "Make Australia Great". Avoid at all costs.

7. Miscellaneous. Tiny parties that will never get anywhere, like the Hunters and Shooters Party, the Car Enthusiasts Party etc. I'm not sure why they're even here.

Anyway, that's pretty much how Aussie politics works. I hope I didn't bore anyone. *blush* :)

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by notbobsmith » Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:06 am

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am
That takes care of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I told you it was complicated. ;)
It's different, but not all that much more complicated than the US system.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am


Then, the leader of the largest party in parliament forms the next government. The voters don't get to choose on that. Technically, the head of state (in our case, the Queen - or her representative, the Attorney-General) can choose who the Prime Minister will be. But if parliament don't like who the PM is, they can immediately defeat the government with a motion of no confidence. So the head of state is limited by convention to choosing a candidate who can command the confidence of parliament.

Once the PM is elected, he chooses his Cabinet - a set of Ministers who will advise him, act on his instructions, and will be (more or less) loyal. These are the Cabinet Ministers, and have their own portfolio - the Police, the Army, the Environment, Health and so on. (They're a bit like Secretary of State in the USA). The rest of the MPs (Members of Parliament) in the PM's party form either the front-bench (more loyal MPs) or the back-bench (less loyal ones). The PM also has the support of the Party Whip, whose job it is to bring MPs into line and "persuade" them to vote the way the PM wants. ;)

Unfortunately, not all MPs are always loyal to the PM - sometimes because they want to mount a leadership bid (with the support of the back-benchers), or sometimes because they're genuinely stupid. :P A leadership bid is treated as extremely serious; it is, more or less, someone trying to "back-stab" the current PM and take his job. In the past 12 years, a sitting PM has been ousted like this at least four times - it was a Labour PM twice and a Liberal PM twice. (I'll have more to say on parties in a minute).

Of course, there's more than one party, and the 2nd biggest party usually forms the Opposition. They also have their own MPs, their own Whip and their own Cabinet, known as the Shadow Cabinet. Their job is to oppose anything that the current government says and does. ;)
I think this is the part I don't understand. I guess in some ways the PM is like our Speaker of the House; not elected by the people and tries to goad party members into action. Although you make it sound more like a political free-for-all.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am
Major Parties
1. Labour. Generally left-wing, they were formed to represent the interests of the unions. They still have a reputation for being union-driven, for promising too much, and not being good at balancing the budget.

2. Liberal. Generally right-wing, but not extreme. They represent the interests of the bosses. They have a reputation for being good at balancing the budget, but for being mean to "the workers" (i.e. blue-colour workers). They're in coalition with the Nationals.

3. National. They represent the interests of farmers, who mainly live in the Bush (i.e. small country towns) and the Outback (i.e. desert). In the big cities, the Nationals are generally regarded as a joke; for the farmers, they're a big deal.

Minor Parties (i.e. extremists)
4. Greens, aka the environmentalists. Extreme left-wing. They have one major policy - the environment - and that's it. Everything else they say is generally obtuse, offensive, or both.

5. One Nation. The most extreme right-wing voice for the past 20 years. They pretend to speak for "ordinary Australians", but generally give voice to racist views as well as ignorant ones (think anti-vaxxing). Their origin is in far-north QLD (a little like the US Bible Belt). They are regarded as an embarrassment, even in QLD.

6. Clive Palmer's United Australia Party. Clive is an ignorant loud-mouth, but a rich one. He made his money from mining and from ignoring his workers. He promises the moon, but doesn't deliver (think mini-Trump). Even his slogan is similar: "Make Australia Great". Avoid at all costs.

7. Miscellaneous. Tiny parties that will never get anywhere, like the Hunters and Shooters Party, the Car Enthusiasts Party etc. I'm not sure why they're even here.

Anyway, that's pretty much how Aussie politics works. I hope I didn't bore anyone. *blush* :)
People sometimes decry our two party system, but I have to wonder if it controls the chaos a little.

Well, it's interesting to hear another perspective. Having worked with a number of foreign nationals over the years, I'm always amazed how well versed they are with our system. Probably better than the average American.

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:56 am

notbobsmith wrote:
Fri Apr 26, 2019 12:06 am
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am
Then, the leader of the largest party in parliament forms the next government. The voters don't get to choose on that. Technically, the head of state (in our case, the Queen - or her representative, the Attorney-General) can choose who the Prime Minister will be. But if parliament don't like who the PM is, they can immediately defeat the government with a motion of no confidence. So the head of state is limited by convention to choosing a candidate who can command the confidence of parliament.

Once the PM is elected, he chooses his Cabinet - a set of Ministers who will advise him, act on his instructions, and will be (more or less) loyal. These are the Cabinet Ministers, and have their own portfolio - the Police, the Army, the Environment, Health and so on. (They're a bit like Secretary of State in the USA). The rest of the MPs (Members of Parliament) in the PM's party form either the front-bench (more loyal MPs) or the back-bench (less loyal ones). The PM also has the support of the Party Whip, whose job it is to bring MPs into line and "persuade" them to vote the way the PM wants. ;)

Unfortunately, not all MPs are always loyal to the PM - sometimes because they want to mount a leadership bid (with the support of the back-benchers), or sometimes because they're genuinely stupid. :P A leadership bid is treated as extremely serious; it is, more or less, someone trying to "back-stab" the current PM and take his job. In the past 12 years, a sitting PM has been ousted like this at least four times - it was a Labour PM twice and a Liberal PM twice. (I'll have more to say on parties in a minute).

Of course, there's more than one party, and the 2nd biggest party usually forms the Opposition. They also have their own MPs, their own Whip and their own Cabinet, known as the Shadow Cabinet. Their job is to oppose anything that the current government says and does. ;)
I think this is the part I don't understand. I guess in some ways the PM is like our Speaker of the House; not elected by the people and tries to goad party members into action. Although you make it sound more like a political free-for-all.
Hmm. In the past 12 years, it's been a bit of a political free-for-all (unfortunately). I don't think we've had a Prime Minister in the last 12 years who served his full term without being "knifed" by one of his own party. Let me look it up:

1. Kevin Rudd (Labour) - Dec 2007 to Jun 2010. Knifed by J. Gillard (Labour);
2. Julia Gillard - Jun 2013 to Jun 2013. Knifed by K. Rudd;
3. Kevin Rudd (again) - Jun 2013 to Sep 2013. Defeated in election by T. Abbott;
4. Tony Abbott (Liberal) - Sep 2013 to Sep 2015. Knifed by M. Turnbull (Liberal);
5. Malcolm Turnbull - Sep 2015 to Aug 2018. Knifed by S. Morrison (Liberal);
6. Scott Morrison - Aug 2018 up to now. And there will be an election soon.

So we've had half-a-dozen PMs in 12 years. Not a good look for the country, and not good for our stock markets.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:54 am
Major Parties
1. Labour. Generally left-wing, they were formed to represent the interests of the unions. They still have a reputation for being union-driven, for promising too much, and not being good at balancing the budget.

2. Liberal. Generally right-wing, but not extreme. They represent the interests of the bosses. They have a reputation for being good at balancing the budget, but for being mean to "the workers" (i.e. blue-colour workers). They're in coalition with the Nationals.

3. National. They represent the interests of farmers, who mainly live in the Bush (i.e. small country towns) and the Outback (i.e. desert). In the big cities, the Nationals are generally regarded as a joke; for the farmers, they're a big deal.

Minor Parties (i.e. extremists)
4. Greens, aka the environmentalists. Extreme left-wing. They have one major policy - the environment - and that's it. Everything else they say is generally obtuse, offensive, or both.

5. One Nation. The most extreme right-wing voice for the past 20 years. They pretend to speak for "ordinary Australians", but generally give voice to racist views as well as ignorant ones (think anti-vaxxing). Their origin is in far-north QLD (a little like the US Bible Belt). They are regarded as an embarrassment, even in QLD.

6. Clive Palmer's United Australia Party. Clive is an ignorant loud-mouth, but a rich one. He made his money from mining and from ignoring his workers. He promises the moon, but doesn't deliver (think mini-Trump). Even his slogan is similar: "Make Australia Great". Avoid at all costs.

7. Miscellaneous. Tiny parties that will never get anywhere, like the Hunters and Shooters Party, the Car Enthusiasts Party etc. I'm not sure why they're even here.

Anyway, that's pretty much how Aussie politics works. I hope I didn't bore anyone. *blush* :)
People sometimes decry our two party system, but I have to wonder if it controls the chaos a little.

Well, it's interesting to hear another perspective. Having worked with a number of foreign nationals over the years, I'm always amazed how well versed they are with our system. Probably better than the average American.
[/quote]

The two-party system is common to most Westminster-style democracies, which include those of most of the UK and the British Commonwealth (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Israel etc.)

There are also so-called People's Democratic Republics (China and North Korea are two of the biggest). Like all People's Democratic Republics, they are totalitarian dictatorships. :P

I don't know too much about how the American system works, except how the President is picked. How does the US system work? I'm curious.

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by notbobsmith » Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:52 pm

Okay. Here goes.

Congress:
The Senate:
As you probably know, the US has fifty states. Each state gets to elect two senators. They serve six year terms and elections are held every two years, so every two years one-third of the seats are up for election.

The House of Representatives:
There are 435 members of the House. The number is actually kind of arbitrary. At first, a representative was assigned to a certain number of people. As the population of the country grew, so did the umber of Representatives. Since the House was getting too big, it was decided to fix the number of Representatives. It just so happened to be 435 at the time. Each Representative serves a two year term and serves a district within a state and is voted into office only by the citizens of that district. Each district has roughly the same population. As the population shifts (a census is done every 10 years), the number of Representatives a state has can change, though usually not by very many. The greater issue is that within a state, the district maps often need to be redrawn so that they all have the same population. The shapes of the districts are decided by the state and there's no real clear guidance as to how it has to be done. This has led to a number of court cases since if you draw the district lines in a particular way, you can favor a particular party. This is called "Gerrymandering", named after a 19th century Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, who drew a district in such a way that people compared it to a salamander.

The Senate tends to be more moderate since they have to appeal to the entire state. Since Representatives are only voted into office by their district, some more "colorful" personalities end up in the House.

Both the House and Senate comprise the legislative branch and are responsible for writing laws which get sent to the President to be signed or vetoed, which Congress can override with a two-thirds majority. They can take a matter up concurrently so if you follow the news, you'll often hear about a "Senate bill" and a "House bill" working through the various committees until they are eventually merged into a single bill.

Interesting fact: The capital of the US is, of course, Washington D.C. When a capital was being chosen, it was decided that any state where the capital resides would have too much power. So a separate district was created (the District of Columbia). So Washington, D.C. is not a state... and does not have any Senators or Representatives. In fact, residents of Washington D.C. couldn't even vote for the President until 1961 with the passage of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution. Washington has a non-voting delegate who can introduce legislation and sit on committees, but other than that, 700k people in our nation's capital have no congressional representation.

The Executive branch:
You mentioned that you knew how the President is elected so I won't go into that. The President is responsible for executing the laws passed by Congress. The President nominates Cabinet Secretaries. The most relevant are the Secretaries of State, Defense and Treasury and the Attorney General. These positions are confirmed by the Senate.

The Judicial Branch:
The Justices of the Supreme Court are nominated by the President and approved by Congress. There are currently nine Justices and they all serve lifetime appointments. The most significant Supreme Court case in US history was Marbury v. Madison in 1803. The particulars of the case aren't very relevant, but what was significant was that they struck down a law as being unconstitutional. This was not something that was explicitly stated in the Constitution that they could do. But ever since, they have the final word on what is or isn't law in the US. The Court has become increasingly politicized in recent years. Since they serve for life, they typically retire during an administration with the same political leaning so that president can nominate a similar justice. Shifts in the political make-up of the court don't happen too often.

You may already be familiar with our political parties. Democrat (liberal) and Republican (conservative). There are a few smaller parties. The two "biggest" are Libertarian and Green, but these are almost irrelevant on the national stage. They barely have a presence in most states either.

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by Rath Darkblade » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:32 am

Hmm, interesting. You mentioned that members of the Executive branch (e.g. the various Secretaries) are confirmed by the Senate, and that the Justices of the Supreme Court are approved by Congress - can the Senate or the Congress disapprove? What happens if the Senate or the Congress don't agree with the President's nominations?

There have been several significant Supreme Court cases that I'm aware of. The most significant in living memory that I know is Roe vs. Wade, 1973. I know that various conservative groups have tried to knock it down ever since, and various libertarian groups have resisted. As I understand it, it has as many opponents as backers, so I won't get into that hornets' nest.

Yes, I noticed that the Supreme Court has become politicised. It's been like that since at least the Clinton era, I believe - and possibly even earlier.

Yes, I'm very familiar with the Democrats (donkey) and Republicans (elephant, aka GOP) parties. I sometimes wonder what some of the US's most revered Presidents would make of today's parties. Lincoln, for instance, was a Republican but he was measured and thoughtful, and could always see the point of the other side. He strove always to bring the secessionists back into the Union, and it's a tragedy of his time that he was assassinated. I wonder how the USA would have turned out, if Lincoln was around for the Reconstruction era - it might not have been as sharply divided as it was under Andrew Johnson.

Then again, both the Roosevelts were larger-than-life, though for different reasons. TR was a tough-as-nails big game hunter, and it's ironic that the teddy bear is named after him. ;) In contrast, FDR's reforms - which today we take for granted - might have been controversial in their time, but the America of that time needed them, and badly. After the Teapot Dome scandal under Harding, Coolidge's tough economic approach stemmed the flow and reduced the national debt. But Hoover's disregard for the mess that Prohibition was creating, and the Wall Street Crash, were probably the last straws. As a patient, America was bleeding, and FDR's reforms were a clot that stabilised it and brought it back from the brink. Recovery took a long time, but the USA recovered. (And yes, I do admire all three (Lincoln, TR and FDR) enormously).

So I wonder what they would make of the political climate of today. It would probably confuse or depress them. What's your view? :)

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Re: Plastics! Plastics plastics plastics...

Post by notbobsmith » Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:57 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:32 am
Hmm, interesting. You mentioned that members of the Executive branch (e.g. the various Secretaries) are confirmed by the Senate, and that the Justices of the Supreme Court are approved by Congress - can the Senate or the Congress disapprove? What happens if the Senate or the Congress don't agree with the President's nominations?
The Senate can disapprove. I'm not a historian or expert in politics, but I don't think that happened all too often. I can't think of an example in recent history. Cabinet positions are usually not terribly controversial. The President usually picks someone who is competent and is vetted so no skeletons come out of the closet. If something comes up, the nominee withdraws. Otherwise, the nominee gets approved without any problem. But now we have a Secretary of Energy who, during a prior run for President, said he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy (among other departments). And a Secretary of Education who thought it should be "left to the states" if they should comply with a federal law concerning disabled students. Both confirmations went along party lines (with the Secretary of Education requiring the Vice President to break a tie vote). Supreme Court nominees are a little more controversial since the President nominates one with a similar ideology, but even they usually get through without too much trouble.
Rath Darkblade wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:32 am
Yes, I'm very familiar with the Democrats (donkey) and Republicans (elephant, aka GOP) parties. I sometimes wonder what some of the US's most revered Presidents would make of today's parties. Lincoln, for instance, was a Republican but he was measured and thoughtful, and could always see the point of the other side. He strove always to bring the secessionists back into the Union, and it's a tragedy of his time that he was assassinated. I wonder how the USA would have turned out, if Lincoln was around for the Reconstruction era - it might not have been as sharply divided as it was under Andrew Johnson.

Then again, both the Roosevelts were larger-than-life, though for different reasons. TR was a tough-as-nails big game hunter, and it's ironic that the teddy bear is named after him. ;) In contrast, FDR's reforms - which today we take for granted - might have been controversial in their time, but the America of that time needed them, and badly. After the Teapot Dome scandal under Harding, Coolidge's tough economic approach stemmed the flow and reduced the national debt. But Hoover's disregard for the mess that Prohibition was creating, and the Wall Street Crash, were probably the last straws. As a patient, America was bleeding, and FDR's reforms were a clot that stabilised it and brought it back from the brink. Recovery took a long time, but the USA recovered. (And yes, I do admire all three (Lincoln, TR and FDR) enormously).

So I wonder what they would make of the political climate of today. It would probably confuse or depress them. What's your view? :)
You know a fair bit about US presidential history. :) Republicans like to claim ownership of Lincoln, but the politics of the time were very different. The Republicans of today are not the Republicans of 150 years ago. And you are right, people forget how controversial FDR's New Deal was but few would be willing lose the social programs now. As for what they would think now? Every generation seems to have a "this is the worst thing ever" period. I sometimes wonder if things were as rosy in the past as we think they are. I mean we had the Civil War. A party after Jackson's inauguration nearly wrecked the White House. Alexander Hamilton was shot! At least that hasn't happened again in a while. We sometimes think of the 18th and 19th centuries through Jane Austen's lens, all prim and proper, when that often wasn't the case. A lot of dirt could have been lost to history.

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