US politics can be very interesting, and the structure of American democracy has its positive points worth reflecting on by us Irish as we look to the reform of our political system. I personally think that as we consider the reform of our Senate, we might look Stateside and get some ideas. Perhaps change the Senate into a house freed from the Dail, directly elected every five years, not falling when the Lower House falls. Other ideas like staggered elections is also interesting - why not have half the senators go out every two and half years so the House is refreshed? Perhaps that might be too democratic and uncontrollable for the Irish system.
However, some things in the US have me scratching my head, one of them is the shutdown. Why close everything because a budget fails to pass? Yes, I understand civil and public servants's salaries are included in the budget, but I think the intelligent people on Capitol Hill or in the West Wing can come up with some arrangement to keep the country running while the parties fight it out in the Houses.
One of the silliest aspects of the shutdown was this law preventing priests from saying Mass on Sunday. Now that has been sorted - the House of Representatives has passed a resolution permitting religious services for the military during a shutdown. However, as I think about this I have to ask a question. If the shutdown has been so strict I presume the President and his family have been cooking for themselves since the shutdown? After all the staff in the White House are government employees. I presume Obama and his kin can eat since, I think, they pay for their own food. I would also presume that he or the First Lady would have had to pop out to do the shopping. After all, if soldiers can't get Mass because of the shutdown, why should the President be exempt?
So, my dear US readers: have any of you seen Barack or Michelle trolleying down the aisles of K-Mart or Walmart in the last week? If so, let us know.