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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 18, 2007 / 2 Tamuz, 5767

Is this Congress or Parliament?

By Paul Greenberg


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Where do these people think they are, the House of Commons? The other day the U.S. Senate, sometimes laughingly referred to as the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, considered a motion of no confidence in the country's attorney general.


To what end? There is no constitutional provision in this country for a vote of no confidence. It's a parliamentary, not congressional, maneuver. And should remain so. Let's leave it to the Brits—like cricket, haggis and toad-in-a-hole.


In a parliamentary system, a government that loses a vote of no confidence is toppled and may even have to face new elections. Here our chief executive serves for a fixed term—four years, for all you civics students out there—and the members of his Cabinet, including the attorney general, and, yes, all those federal prosecutors who just got fired, serve at his pleasure. Not at the pleasure of the U.S. Senate.


So what was the point of this motion of no confidence?


The short answer: none at all.


The news stories kept referring to the vote as "symbolic." It would have been a way to signal the Senate's displeasure with the current attorney general. A particularly pretentious way. Like putting on an English accent. Like the ones you hear these days on tonier office receptionists and NPR. Trendy bunch, these senators.


Why not just pass a good ol', all-American resolution of censure? That's what the Whigs did to Andrew Jackson—before the Jacksonians came back in the next election and expunged the resolution from the Senate journal in a boisterous ceremony. Resolutions of censure can backfire.


Even if this if this vote of no confidence had passed—instead, it failed to garner the 60 votes required to proceed—the effect would have been the same: nothing at all. Symbolic votes are just that, only symbolic.


It's the president of the United States, currently one George W. Bush, who gets to pick the members of his Cabinet, including the attorney general. Here's what he had to say about the Senate's action, or lack of same, last week: "They can have their votes of no confidence, but it isn't going to make the determination about who serves in my government."


Linguistic note: In his typical (awful) way with words, the president tends to use the terms administration and government interchangeably, but that's a whole other problem. The problem with the Senate, at least this week, is that it seems to have confused itself with a European parliament.


There is no shortage of paeans to the Constitution of the United States in senatorial speeches, but any senators who think it contains a provision for a vote of no confidence might need to study it some more. Some senators seem to think it's their confidence in a Cabinet officer—or lack of it—that should determine whether he continues to serve. They are, to put it mildly, dead wrong.


No doubt about it, Alberto Gonzales wouldn't win any popularity contests in the U.S. Senate—or in the country. For that matter, neither would George W. Bush. But maybe that's one reason the founders settled on a fixed term for the president of the United States, so that the executive branch wouldn't come to resemble a revolving door, with its chief officials leaving office whenever their popularity waned. The founders took pains to separate the executive and legislative branches of government, rather than allow one to dismantle the other.


Here is what Trent Lott, the Mississippi senator, told his colleagues as they solemnly debated a parliamentary vote of no confidence: "This is a non-binding, irrelevant resolution proving what? Nothing." And then he added: "Maybe we should be considering a vote of no confidence on the Senate or in the Congress for malfunction and an inability to produce anything." A decent immigration bill, for example.


Expressions of no confidence, like resolutions of censure, can backfire. And at last report, Congress was doing even more poorly than the president in the polls. The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll just found that Congress' approval rating had fallen "to its lowest level in more than a decade"—27 percent, which was down from 36 percent in January. Compare that showing with the president's 34 percent approval rating, which is no great shakes, either, but it's better than Congress'.


Yet the Senate is inviting a constitutional confrontation with the executive branch by issuing subpoenas for former White House officials like presidential counsel Harriet Miers and political director Sara Taylor—the kind of subpoenas a long list of presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Harry Truman have stoutly resisted. And for good reason. For the power to subpoena is the power to destroy, and once the executive branch submits to such inquisitions, its independence is compromised. It becomes answerable to the legislative branch, which is not how the American system is supposed to work—as opposed to a parliamentary system.


No wonder the American people are losing confidence in this Congress.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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