Monthly Archives: July 2013

My US Government Final


My responses during my final exam for my US Government class

Author: Kara Adamo

Advantages of Incumbents vs. Challengers

Congressional incumbents tend to have more money to work with during elections because the house tends to reelect over 90% of its members. Because of this, corporations tend to throw more money at incumbents and their campaigns because they have a higher statistical likelihood of winning. It is an investment game. Those incumbents—reelected and in their debts—are more likely to push agendas that are favorable to said corporations.

The reason reelection is so likely is that on the whole people are more comfortable with what they are used to than with mystery. It’s almost like having a home-field advantage. Also, a previously elected congressman usually represents the predominant ideology of their district. The challenger, then, tends to represent the minority.


Steps in How a Bill Becomes a Law

The process of making a bill into a law is a long, logistical nightmare that one could argue is entirely counterproductive and encourages stagnancy in our legislative system.

Bills may be introduced in either the House or the Senate—with the exception, of course, for bills regarding financial matters. Those must be introduced in the House only.

First, members of congress draft a bill. This can also be done by outside groups, but for the most part it is handled by the executive branch. Then, the bill is introduced in the House of Representatives. The speaker of the house sends it to a committee, where it more than likely will die off. If it manages to make it through, it goes to Rules Committee where debate rules are decided upon and its scheduled debate time is set. Once the house begins to debate the bill, amendments may be added and then it goes to a vote. In the event that it passes, it is sent to the Senate.

When a bill is introduced by a Senator, it is sent to a committee and the whole process repeats itself. If the committee votes for the bill, it goes to the Senate floor and is called up by the floor leader who decides when the Senate will consider it. Then something called floor action occurs, where the bill is further debated and amendments are added again. If the senate passes it, it goes back to the house where a conference committee determines whether or not the changes are acceptable. They then work out a compromise with the Senate.

Both houses work together to work out a compromise and both must approve of all of the changes made during the conference committee. Then, after the bill has been beaten around until it is unrecognizable, it is sent to the president who has the ability to sign or veto the bill. If signed, the bill becomes law.

If the president decides to veto the bill, but the house and the senate want to override that veto, they are able to do so with a 2/3 vote.

And we wonder why it takes so long for them to do anything.


The Modern Institutional Presidency

Article 2 of the Constitution provides a list of limited formal powers for the president of the United States. It gives the president the power to appoint—with Senate approval—executive department heads, federal judges, and ambassadors. The president has the ability to negotiate treatise and to recognize ambassadors from other countries and remains the top civilian commander of all US forces. While Congress retains the authority to actually declare war, the president is given carte blanche in times of emergency.

These days, the presence of the White House Office and the Executive Office of the Presidency muddles things a bit.  Stifled under layers of bureaucracy, presidents rely on their gatekeeper, the White House Chief of Staff, to keep them in touch with everything.

There is also a media component now that was not necessarily a factor before. While there may be inherent limitations in the offices, there are conflicting public expectations to contend with, as well. Presidents must sell themselves as common Joe’s while simultaneously proving that they are above that very commonality that makes them relatable. They must juggle pragmatism with vision while thwarting attempts by both sides to throw off their policy initiatives. And even if they manage that, the media can and will spin it in another way to enhance ratings.


Executive Orders & Executive Privilege

Presidents are able to issue executive orders in order to avoid public debate and opposition because they do not require congressional approval. They generally related to administrative matters and have recently been used to carry out legislative policies and programs. Kennedy, for instance, used an executive order to eliminate racial discrimination in federally funded housing.

They are often used to enforce civil rights and impose sanctions and they are immediately treated as law. They also do not have to cite existing constitutional legislation to show authority thanks to written support in things like the Vestiture Clause, which states that “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”

Executive Privilege allows the president and other high-ranking officials to withhold information from congress. It is because of this that executive orders are sometimes pushed in the interest of time constraints and necessity.


Judicial Review

Judicial Review is the doctrine that enables the courts to annul legislation they deem unconstitutional. It differs from Judicial Restraint in that it involves their own interpretation of laws and usually their emotions and political agenda factor in. Judicial Restrain, theoretically, involves practice solely based in written law and existing legislation. The ability to deem one of those laws unconstitutional is taken out of the equation. The law is there and so it must be followed. Judicial Activism, on the other hand, involves judicial practices almost exclusively based in political agendas and emotion-based rulings. This becomes controversial in that it can be considered almost undemocratic. It almost gives judges the ability to overturn the will of the people by making laws instead of interpreting them. Still, some people believe that it is a required avenue in many cases because it promotes engaging conversations and progressive concepts like social liberties.


A Letter to the Jane Benning Fans


For those who were previously following the story The Playroom written under my alias, Jane Benning, I am writing to inform you that,  a.) yes, I will be revisiting the tales and more chapters will in fact be published, and b.) they will be posted under a new WordPress blog dedicated to exactly that. This way, if you subscribe, you will not be bothered by my other posts of different natures. The new blog will be dedicated specifically to those chapters and stories.   My apologies for the break from writing. I have been swamped this summer with going back to school and a number of other things. The semester ends this week, though, and so I hope to return to the tales of Madelyn and Mary Isler and the mysterious train conductor, Captain Ben O’Maley.


Here is a link to the new blog site:

The Twisted Tales of Jane Benning


I thank you for your interest and hope you enjoy what is to come.

Jane Benning

Frescos at the Villa of Mysteries: Panel 4.


My final paper for my humanities class this semester

Author: Kara Adamo.

 August 24, 79 AD.

 Cradled against the enchanting shade of Mt. Versuvius, the city of Pompeii woke to the stretch of warm sunrays sparkling against the Sarnus River. They swept across the city and touched on the impressive villas; they glowed against the temples and amphitheaters, and gleaned against shop fronts.


The city began to wake up. The streets began to fill with the chattering sounds of Greek, Germanic, Latin and Hebrew (Freeman). The ships that bobbed along the river were loaded up with jugs of wine for export.


At noon, a rumbling shook the walls; the beautiful women painted on tapestries and frescos danced with the movement.


A pillowing cloud of gray sprang from the top of Mt. Versuvius (Sigurdsson). The city streets became peppered with ash and pumice at a rate of six inches per hour.


This continued through the night until finally, the next morning, a surge of gasses, rock and lapillus shot towards the city (Sigurdsson).


And in an instant, it was gone.


For years, it was hidden.


Swept beneath a carpet of earth and pumice, the city of Pompeii lay dormant beneath the surface (Nappo). Its inhabitants and the city they knew remained encased: frozen in time beneath a world that had long forgotten them. The streets down which they walked, the temples where they said their prayers and the tables at which they took their meals were forever isolated…preserved and intact…beneath the lava that engulfed them and swallowed them whole.


In 1755, a preliminary excavation took route with the intention of uncovering Pompeii and the neighboring cities that were lost in the eruption. The attempt was futile, however, but a second excavation in 1814 at least managed to uncover the south wall of the amphitheater (Jashemski).


By 1909, however, techniques and tools had much improved. Successful excavations led archeologists and scholars to reconstruct, figuratively, what life would have been like in Pompeii before its end nearly 2,000 years ago (Seaford).


A fascination with the Villa of Mysteries began to take route when Amedeo Maiuri (Nappo) uncovered what is now referred to as The Initiation Chamber (Jackson). Perfectly preserved despite the trauma of the eruption and the two thousand years that followed, this room remains brilliantly painted with many thematic frescoes. The meaning behind these wonders taunts scholars the world over—forever shrouded in visual conceit, the actual intention may forever remain a mystery.


The currant thesis, however, views these frescoes as a chronological representation of a marriage ritual to the god, Dionysus. (McDonald).


For the purposes of this paper, we will look to one of the many scenes throughout the room: the fourth panel.


Here, the Silenus looks disapprovingly at the initiate in the third panel. He holds a silver bowl. Behind him, a young satyr gazes into it. It is speculated that he is staring at a reflection of himself in the future after he has died: symbolizing the act of coming to terms with one’s own death (Jackason). Given the supposed context of the panel, one could imagine that, in this case, it is the death of childhood and innocence. This is a rite of passage within the Cult of Dionysus: a form of divination during the course of growing up (Seaford).


It is also assumed that the bowl contains Kykeon, a drink used during participation in Orphic-Dionysian mysteries (Jackson).


That the utilization of Dionysian images was so prominent comes as no surprise. The Villa itself was situated beside—and possibly attached to—a vineyard and the prominent export in Pompeii was wine (Freeman). What does come as a small surprise is the unabashed, shameless adherence to a cult that deviated from the state religion of the time.


And so, these magnificent frescoes and their heretical tribute to a cult long-lost but fully encased in the rich cultural influences of their time, remain a mystery to us. They remain, perhaps, the most direct of connections to our past and the intrinsic qualities that have stood the test of time (Nappo): the qualities that make us human and define who we are during the course of our lives.




Works Cited


Sigurdsson, H. et al.   “The Eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.”  National Geographic Research. 1, 3.  1985, pp.  332-387.


Freeman, Charles. “Egypt Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean.” Oxford University Press. 1996.


Nappo, Dr Salvatore Ciro. “Pompeii: Its Discovery and Preservation.” 2011: n. page. Web. 28 Jul. 2013.


Jashemski, Wilhelmina.  “Excavations in the Foro Boario at Pompeii: A Preliminary Report.”  American Journal of Archaeology.  72, 1 (Jan. 1968), 69-73.


Seaford, R.A.S. “The Mysteries of Dionysos at Pompeii.” Pegasus: Classical Essays from the University of Exeter. 1981: 52-67. Print.


MacDonald, Elaine Rosemary. “The Frescoes in the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii.” Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg (2010).


Jackson, James W.. “Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii.” Old Stones. Web. 28 Jul 2013.