Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hhmm, Those Are My Monkeys...

Yup, it's also my circus...

Not to insult the entire 114th Congress, but well, they are part of the problem.

Monday morning, first thing in the lab, a co-worker asks me if I've seen so-and-so. Well, he's not in the lab (which isn't that big). As he's on a different project, I immediately reply with -

"Not my circus, not my monkey."

Oddly enough, my colleague had never heard that phrase before. I'm not sure where I first heard (read) it, probably here on the Web of World-Wideness. But his constant chortling and the mumbles of "hahaha, not my monkey..." got me to thinking about the provenance of that phrase.

Apparently it's from Poland and the short story is that it means "not my problem." I like this answer from a Polish fellow (who, surprise, surprise, lives in Poland*) -
As others already said it means “not my problem”, but in some special context, like:
“I won’t interfere or bother myself with trouble in a place I don’t belong to or have no authority — it’s someone else’s job to deal with this.”
I'll bet you're wondering by now, "Gee Sarge, how do you say that in Polish."

Well, there's the smartass answer: "że."

Then there's the Juvat answer, "Not my circus, not my monkeys. In Polish." (Not that different, intent-wise, from the smartass answer.)

Finally, there's the real answer: "Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy." Which is pronounced roughly: "nee moy tseerk, nee moy-ee mow-py mal-puh." (Thanks to an alert reader! Who speaks Polish!) Hopefully, by now you've perhaps discerned the meaning behind this (so far) rather rambling post.

After seeking the back story to "Not my circus, not my monkeys," as I was turning my attention back to my duties, a colleague (a different one than the aforementioned one) asked me if I had seen the latest hubbub concerning the political circus currently taking place in this benighted country of ours.

"I am aware of the story but..."

I almost said, "Not my circus, not my monkeys." Which is when the subject for today's post hit me.

Damn it. This is my circus and those are my monkeys! If you're an American citizen then it's also your circus and your monkeys. As much as I'd like to keep the hatch closed and let the storm pass me by, that's not going to happen.

The government of these here United States was designed to function with all the precision of a Swiss watch. Each part contributing to the whole. Furthermore, no section of government is supposed to be supreme to any other. Checks and balances dontcha know?

But if one or more parts of the government cease to function according to design, then the machine starts to run a bit rough. Sputters, doesn't get very good mileage, etc., etc. So what happens then?

Well, what's supposed to happen is that the citizens (who really are the final arbiters in government affairs) step in and remove the malfunctioning parts, replacing them with parts who will function properly.

The parts are your elected representatives, the remove and replace bit is what we call an election. I know, I know, this is a Presidential election (said with great gravitas) and will set the tone for years to come, blah, blah, blah.

Ever heard of the Electoral College? Yeah, they actually elect the President. Sure it's meant to reflect the "popular" vote but actually doesn't have to!!!

Yup, it's happened before. One fellow "wins" the election and the other guy takes the oath on the 20th of January. To wit -
The 2000 election was the most recent when the candidate who received the greatest number of electoral votes, and thus won the presidency, didn’t win the popular vote. But this scenario has played out in our nation’s history before.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn’t reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.

In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn’t win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush.
However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266. (Sources - here and here.)
While we the people don't elect the President directly, we do elect folks to the House of Representative and the Senate (which that last bit was not intended by the Founders, see the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution). Many (including Your Humble Scribe) consider the Seventeenth Amendment to be a bad idea, a bug, not a feature. YMMV. (Naturally.)


We elect the House of Representatives and the Senate. Guess what happens in government if the Congress doesn't fund it? By law, nothing.

Guess who gets appointed to the Supreme Court if the Senate doesn't approve them? By law, nobody. Same goes for treaties. (See the Iran nuclear "agreement." Not a treaty, Senate didn't approve it, wasn't even presented to them.)

So if Congress does nothing, the Executive and Judicial Branches can run rampant, might as well have an absolute monarchy for all the Congress would be worth.

But, but, what about Supreme Court Justices? They get appointed for life, right? Well, yes and no. For you see, a Supreme can be impeached and then removed. Just like any other elected or appointed government official. Really? Yes, really. Impeachment for a Supreme works the same as for a President. How is that? (You ask.)

Well, the House of Representatives has to hear the charges against the accused and if they vote to impeach (it's similar to an indictment in a court case), then the Senate decides whether or not to convict. So while Supremes are appointed for life, there is a method and a means to remove them from the bench. (You can read more here. Or here. Or you could look it up in the Constitution. I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.)

Again, that's up to Congress. And here's how we, the people, feel about them -
Not very impressive innit?

So while the Presidential race gets all the ink (and oxygen, dear Lord can the media waste oxygen on this topic), it's the Congressional races you really need to pay attention to.

Do you like your Congress-critter? Yes?

Well, no one else does. Trust me, mine suck, yours suck. They all have pretty much not been doing their jobs since about '02, and they weren't real impressive before that. I mean, seriously, approval ratings averaging generally 40% and under for over forty years? That's a long time. That's a lot of explaining to do. To us.

We, the people.

Go. Vote. Toss them out, they suck, let's get some new blood in there.

I mean seriously. They are the problem. Not the solution.

This is our circus, those most definitely are our monkeys.

Sarge sends...

* Growing up there were a lot of Poles in my hometown, the older generation all spoke Polish. Not to mention Chicago. Bang-bang.


  1. The 17th Amendment is a travesty. The Several States no longer have a voice in the Federal Government, that power having been defacto transferred to the political parties. NOT a Good Idea. But neither Tammy Baldwin, nor, I suspect, Harry Reid would be in the Senate, if were not for direct election. Neither one should be.

  2. I just have to ask, what is the cause of your animosity towards circuses and monkeys comparing them to politicians like that? Circuses and Monkeys at least have entertainment value. Politicians (and I wouldn't have capitalized that, but Blogger forced it) are just unindicted criminals. Instapundit proposes a 5 year revolving door tax on earnings after leaving office. I think that's a good start. There should also be a 2 year stint in the slammer as punishment for any undiscovered, yet certainly committed, crimes.

    But...that's just me....being charitable.

    1. I actually like monkeys, circuses on the other hand, meh.

      You were being charitable.

    2. Circuses today have fallen to PC, but have you ever watched "The Greatest Show On Earth" with Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton and James Stewart? Circuses were cool back in those days.

    3. Brilliant film. Circuses were cool BITD.

  3. I'm in favor of popular vote over electoral college, however the argument that losing the popular vote and winning in the EC is no more valid than arguing the score of a football game by most offensive yards gained. If the President was decided by popular vote, candidates would campaign differently (a good thing) and more people would vote (a good thing). For instance NJ is going to vote Democratic, guaranteed, no question, so neither candidate will campaign or address NJ issues and many voters will stay home because they know their vote is meaningless.

    1. Rhode Island is much the same way. Solidly Democrat, if the (D) party ran Stalin in Little Rhody, Stalin would win.

      I go to the polls just so it isn't 100% (D). I'm contrary like that.

  4. TROW DA BUMS OUT!!! But not *my* Bum, 'cause my Bum? He brings home da bacon.

    And that, boys and girls, is why the 17th sucks. Just another hundred bums, except representatives on steroids, because they have six years to do damage, rather than just two before we can correct the problem. Not that we do, some 85% of the time. Instead, we keep our "Bum" in office. For the bacon.

    1. Not to mention that the Senate does have some pretty serious powers, like approving Supreme Court justices and treaties. The 17th is a very bad idea.

  5. The analogy I came up with for the political animal who is a congressman is he (or she) is like a grain of sand.
    By itself, relatively harmless.
    With others, like sandi the reduction gears.

  6. The 17th amendment was one of the worst next to the 13th. You see it all the time that senators vote for laws that directly harm there states and no repercussions because they have an 85% chance of being reelected and 6 years for the people to forget about it.
    IF this country ever has an artice 5 convention the first to go should be the 17.

    1. Concur, 17th needs to be assigned to the dustbin of history.

  7. Now, not to quibble, but I notice an error in regards to the Polish annotations. The letter that looks like an "L" in "malpy" (forgive me for not having a Polish keyboard to properly produce l with a line through the vertical part) is in fact pronounced as a "w" is pronounced in English, Polish having a letter that looks like "w" but which is pronounced as is the letter "v" in English. Thus the Polish word "malpy". assuming the "l" has a line through it, is more correctly pronounced as "mow-py" would be in English. Polish is such a confusing language - and that is before you get to the 4 or 5 versions of the English letter "z"!

    1. Not a quibble at all Ryszardsh! I will make that correction.

  8. If nothing else, this is the CLASSIC case for term limits! Sigh...

    1. Term limits seems to be the only reasonable cure for what ails government. Make them concentrate on their jobs rather than their re-election campaigns.

  9. And we need to keep voting them out, to help keep the monkey cages empty of lobbyists as well.

  10. Chris, you are on a roll.

    As for me, we have the technology to be able to hold direct elections, so let's get rid of the republic and go to direct democracy.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. I like my Republic. Question is, can I keep my Republic. Given the state of education and the scads of LIVs out there, direct democracy would be absolute chaos. Everybody could then vote for free stuff, wouldn't even have to go through the middlemen, er, Congressmen.

    2. Well, direct democracy is but one part of the changes I would make. If I were to lay it all out for you, it would make more sense, I believe.


    3. Please do, I'm keen to hear your ideas. (Maybe I might learn something, stranger things have happened!)

    4. All of it is 7 to 10 thousand words. And I'm much better at talking than writing. Call me ( 503/ 636-0397 ) and we can start.


  11. Term limits and confiscation of all funds accumulated while inside the Beltway as a government employee or elected official except for salary and blind trust income. A start, anyway. regards, Alemaster

  12. In the context of having a monkey on your back, had a boss who would say, presented with a situation or problem, "That is not my monkey, and your are not giving it to me".


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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