These Just In

Looks like the world community is getting more disorganized. I know just the man to call.

Posted by Gagdad Bob at November 5, 2008 5:39 PM

Perhaps the people who wish America and the West ill now realise that for approximately two months the USA is now paralysed? I believe that the phenomenon is called a "lame-duck President".

Someone please tell me why there is so long a delay between election and inauguration. It makes no sense to me whatsoever; in the UK, the same sort of ceremony is carried out the following morning. (Of course, the accession of our new head of state is theoretically instantaneous - the Queen is dead, long live the King - but I'm talking here about the person with the real power.) I suppose it's probably historical, because two hundred years ago the news took two months to travel. Time for the nation that prides itself on being the most advanced in the world (which BTW it isn't) to drag itself kicking and screaming into the 21st century, perhaps.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 6, 2008 3:08 AM

> Someone please tell me why there is so long a delay between election and inauguration.

Fletcher Clueless:

Was 2000 really that long ago for you?

And it takes more than a day or two to work up plans for the orderly transition of government for a nation of 310 million with a 10+ trillion dollar economy (although I'm sure Obama plans to fix that last part).

Posted by Obloodyhell at November 6, 2008 11:48 AM

OK, obloodyhell (nomdeplume if ever I heard one): I'll bite.

You have a point. It takes some time for such a transition. However: UK GDP in the 2007 year (presumably the latest available) was $2.77 trillion. It takes us approximately 12 hours to change over governments. Assuming your $10 trillion figure is correct, and assuming that the GDP is the important part, that works out to 43 hours. if the population figure is the important factor? Well, UK population is approx. 60.8 million. Using your figures it works out to 61 hours. In your system, it is 77 days between the two events, which is 1840 (approx) hours. Which is 30 times as long as the proportionate figure for the UK, using population figures. If one uses GDP as the relevant variable then the discrepancy is even greater.

There is no excuse whatsoever for the country that prides itself on being the beating heart of the free world to be effectively paralysed for two and a half months. None at all. For a country that is supposed to be forward-looking, you cling with incredible tenacity to utterly out-of-date prectices. Which wouldn't bother me at all, if there weren't some very serious people who wish both of our countries ill.

As for the planning bit; well. any civil service worthy of the name would have plans already worked out. Are you telling me that you don't even start planning until the last vote is counted? If so, the attitude behind that explains an awful lot.

By the way, what the heck does the year 2000 have to do with anything?

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 6, 2008 4:19 PM

Fletcher Christian,
By "2000", Obloodyhell was referring to the delay caused by the lawsuits over the Florida election results.

Posted by Morenuancedthanyou at November 6, 2008 5:07 PM

morenuancedthanyou; OK, now I see - but it's irrelevant. Even when there is no dispute whatsoever (as in the 2008 election) it still takes the same two and a half months.

By the way, sorry for the spelling error; it should of course have read "practices".

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 6, 2008 11:37 PM

Dear Mr. Christian:

Please read the US Constitution, specifically Amendment 20.

Mikey NTH

Posted by Mikey NTH at November 7, 2008 7:39 AM

Mikey, 20th Amendment duly read. Also the Wikipedia article, which may not be authoritative but makes perfect sense: "This amendment's primary purpose was to reduce the amount of time between the election of the President and Congress and the beginning of their terms. Originally, the terms of the President, the Vice President, and the Congress began on March 4, four months after the elections were held. While this lapse was a practical necessity during the 18th century, at which time a newly elected official might need several months to put his affairs in order and then undertake the arduous journey from his home to the national capital, it had the effect of impeding the functioning of government in the modern age."

So the Constitution was amended to account for changing conditions. I believe that said document is not written in stone; it can be amended with some effort. It should be, for the same reason that the 20th Amendment was passed. I say again; two and a half months of paralysis is ridiculous. And it can be exploited, and may well be. In fact, the Russians are already exploiting it. If it was only the USA that was going to suffer from that exploitation it wouldn't bother me at all - but that is not the case.

This sort of nonsense is just what I'd expect, from a nation that lost a billion-dollar space probe because of a confusion about which units of measurement were being used. Get into the 21st century, people. Your competition is already there. You lost the technological lead, in everything except weapons, years ago - and lost it to a country that used to be an enemy and is still not really a friend; Japan.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 7, 2008 1:03 PM

Just can't wait, eh, Fletch?

Posted by Jim Treacher at November 9, 2008 4:53 PM

Can't wait for what, Mr. Treacher? If you mean "can't wait for Obama" you have me wrong. I happen to think that of the two on offer McCain was the better choice, although it was more a matter of the lesser of two evils than anything else. Or perhaps the least rotten of a rotten bunch; if you really had to have a black President, Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice would have been much better choices (assuming either qualifies, of course). Yes, I am aware that neither wanted the job - and that ought to tell America something, too.

However, the point remains that for a modern state (any modern state, never mind the most powerful militarily in the world) to be effectively paralysed and, to use a different analogy, rudderless for two and a half months is ridiculous and also dangerous. What happens if a situation develops between now and Jan 20th that requires a declaration of war? Can you see Congress agreeding to such a request from a President that is on his way out and his party defeated? I can't.

The same would apply if the change in government was the other way around, in my view.

It would appear that Putin agrees with some of this; would he be doing his current missile-rattling if you had an effective President right now? I doubt it.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 10, 2008 2:11 AM