The Electoral College Explained

The Electoral College was designed to reflect the popular vote. A popular vote that depends on who is allowed to vote, and for whom.

For those of you who missed history class, or for those of you who don’t obsess about politics and elections on a regular basis, I offer this primer on the way that the United States picks its presidents and vice presidents. It is a method of selection like no other in the world. A needlessly complicated and arcane practice of voting for people who will vote for the people who will run this country, and we go through all these hurdles because of slavery. We call the result of that convoluted process the Electoral College (EC) and it still exists today, long after slavery is a thankfully distant memory.

Slavery? I hear you asking. Yes, slavery. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Or you could just listen to this episode of NPR’s Throughline.

Throughline – The Electoral College – October 15, 2020

The EC has a long and troubled history. The EC wasn’t even in the first draft of the Constitution. James Madison, who wrote the majority of the document, claimed he preferred direct election of the president by the people, but instead wrote into it that congress was to select the president. This mechanism was deemed too prone to intrigue by the members of the constitutional convention, and was seen as crippling the independence of the executive branch by making it reliant on congress. At least two of the original attendees of the convention favored direct popular election of the executive, but this idea was sacrificed even before the writing of the first draft of the document in order to make inclusion of the slave states palatable to the Northern states.

There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The historical fact of American slavery is something that the defenders of the EC should take heed of. The numerous slaves in the Southern states, slaves that the Southern slave owners and state representatives wanted counted as people for the purpose of apportioning representation, would have skewed the college and congress towards the South, which the North objected to. The South wanted slaves counted as people, for the purpose of representation, but not counted as people, for the purpose of profiting off of their slave labor. The impasse over the problem of representation in the legislature and at the voting booth threatened the entire constitutional convention, much like the problem of slavery threatened the possibility of American independence, not to mention the continued existence of the Union itself in 1860.

It was the invention of the three-fifths rule, a rule that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, that allowed for a compromise on representation, and through that a compromise on the election of the office of president. Changes have been made to the EC along the way from then to now, but the essence of the college itself remains the same as it was back in 1787; and that essence is a safeguard against factions having an undue sway over the selection of the President.

The concern was not that the people would pervert the process, but that the factions, the parties, were to be guarded against. This was the paramount fear in the minds of the crafters of the Union. The EC was part of the whole package of division of powers, allowing for the will of the voting population of each state to be carried directly to the then new capitol. The preservation of state power was what the EC was designed to protect, enhancing the ability of sectionalism to thwart the corrupting influence of faction.

Faction almost immediately took hold anyway.

Some states reasoned that the favorite presidential candidate among the people in their state would have a much better chance if all of the electors selected by their state were sure to vote the same way—a “general ticket” of electors pledged to a party candidate. So the slate of electors chosen by the state were no longer free agents, independent thinkers, or deliberative representatives. They became “voluntary party lackeys and intellectual non-entities.”Once one state took that strategy, the others felt compelled to follow suit in order to compete for the strongest influence on the election.

When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. According to Hamilton, the selection of the president should be “made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station [of president].” According to Hamilton, the electors were to analyze the list of potential presidents and select the best one. He also used the term “deliberate”.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1800 election saw the fears of faction take form for the first time. The Jefferson/Adams split and the resulting confusion of a tie vote for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr in that election lead to the first changes in the EC creating the running mates system that is still in use today.

The 1824 election, the first election in which the popular vote mattered, was the second time the EC failed to produce a president. Once again the House of Representatives was forced to debate and vote on presidential candidates, eventually electing John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, to the presidency. This so infuriated the winner of the popular vote in 1824, Andrew Jackson, that he broke with the party of Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) to create the Democratic party, a version of which still exists today.

The formation of the other half of the two-party factional control of the United States government came about with the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was with the election of Lincoln that the regional Republican party graduated to the national stage. Lincoln is one of four presidents who won the office while not being on the ballots in every state, and the only president to win the office while not being on the ballot in more than 5 states (he was not on the ballot in ten of the eleven slave states) he did win the EC successfully, probably because the slave states of the deep South were already pulling their support from the union and actively engaging in dissipating federal power to the several states so as to strengthen their own hands in the coming war that they were actively conspiring to start.

The electoral college is the only one where they choose their own masters.

Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals pg. 630

However, the EC was set up to reflect the population of the United States as a whole. It achieved this through tying a majority of the electors from each state to the number of representatives from each state in the House of Representatives. Each district of the House being determined through the arcane process of census and redistricting, the seats apportioned based on populations within geographical regions. One elector for every seat in the House of Representatives plus one for every Senator. Add in the three electors for Washington D.C. (the same number of electors as the least populous state) and you have the number of electors in the current version of the EC, 538. It is supposed to return results that roughly equates to the vote of the majority of the population of the United States, and has done its job pretty admirably right up until the twentieth century when Congress short-circuited the representation metric that the founders set up.

How did the House upset the metric? They crafted the last in several sequential measures that set the number of seats in the legislature. The membership of the House of Representatives has been kept artificially low for most of the modern age. the number of representatives was fixed at 435 in 1911 and has remained at 435 as the population of the United States has grown exponentially. This has lead to an ever-increasing number of people represented by a single seat in congress, a ridiculous number of people that the framers would never have envisioned as acceptable. The original minimum population per house seat was 30,000; but the current representatives for the House each represent about half a million people, at least, with the higher population districts containing about three-quarters of a million people.

This is important, because this is how you get to the point where a candidate can win by well over a million votes in the popular election, and yet lose the election by electoral count. The EC is rigged against the popular vote being reflected in the makeup of the college, because the electors are not properly apportioned to the populations of the various states. For that matter, the House of Representatives no longer serves its function as a direct representation of the people, because it too is not apportioned correctly even though it was set up specifically to serve this purpose.

If the House of Representatives was allowed to grow again, as it did throughout the history of the United States, we would end up with a House that was made up of several thousand people. This may sound like a radical change to you, increasing the size of the house, but we’ll get a better representational cross-section of America if we do this and thereby end a lot of the talk about disconnected Washington politics in the process. Will it be more difficult to get important work done? I doubt that it can get more difficult than it is already. I think we will have to find that out first hand. Keep this point in mind.

So we have this thing called an Electoral College that votes for our president for us. The EC is forced to vote for the party that controls the states who appoint the electors who make up the college. These faithless elector rules were recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The size of the EC is kept artificially small because of the size restrictions set on the United States House of Representatives, resulting in neither the House or the EC reflecting the thing they were supposed to reflect, the numbers of people who live in different areas of the country, directly.

Party/faction controls everything in the United States today and nothing can be done without one of the two parties holding a majority in both houses of the legislature both in the several states and in the federal government. Even if the parties manage to hold both houses, the president from another party can still keep the nation at a standstill if all they control is the presidency itself. One man who keeps the United States from doing its business both at home and abroad.

It is damnably unfortunate for the sane people who live in the United States that the Republican party is demonstrably insane, and is being led by someone who either does believe or pretends to believe insane things. It is even more unfortunate that the Republican party has rigged the census and the districts that are currently in effect to favor their insane party leadership.

It is of small comfort to the 240,000 COVID dead Americans that the current governmental travesty is not even the first time in twenty years that this kind of miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the system worked as it was intended, then as a general rule the electors would reflect almost perfectly the will of the people who vote in a presidential election. But the system is being held hostage by parties that see their interests as more important than the interests of the population as a whole, even the populations that they are supposed to represent directly. They hold all the keys to the power that supposedly resides in the people themselves, and we have to take it back from them while we still have a country that is worth saving.

These parties/factions will stop at nothing to get into power, that is the reason that they exist. The reason that they were created in the first place. Party has replaced intellect and reason. We have become a nation of political face painters with no more understanding of the systems that supposedly rely on our input than our pets understand the workings of a can opener. Idiocracy was too real to be funny. The Trump presidency has proven this to me several times over now. The parties tell us to wag our tails, and we wag away expecting to be fed, never understanding that we could work the mechanisms ourselves if we simply stood up and used the political voice that is guaranteed to us by law.

The thing I learned from listening to that episode of Throughline that I linked earlier is that the EC was almost removed from the constitution by amendments twice in our history. Once, when the changes in 1800 were worked out, and the second time when we almost got George Wallace as a president instead of Richard Nixon (Now, there is an alternative history that I’m glad to not be in) As recently as 2018, Elizabeth Warren and other notables have called for the elimination of the EC. Fixing the election system is doable, if only we make it clear that what we want is everyone to be included and everyone to be heard by someone who represents them.

The EC has failed to do its job. It has failed to justify its inclusion in the fabric of American society, three-fifths compromise notwithstanding. With the 2016 travesty in the rear-view mirror it becomes painfully obvious that we either must amend the constitution to remove the EC, legislatively render it toothless in every state legislature in the US, or modify the structure that dictates its size and representation. One of these three things must occur. Several states have already passed the legislation mandating the popular vote outcome.

Video from National Popular Vote! National Popular Vote! What It Is – Why It’s Needed

If we cannot render the EC toothless legislatively, and if we cannot amend it out of the constitution replacing it with the direct election of the president by the population of the United States, then what we have to do is the easier thing that I alluded to earlier. We influence our representatives to do the thing they can do for us and themselves, and it’s part of the job we send them to Washington D.C. to do in the first place. They should legislate an increase in the size of the House of Representatives, and through that increase negate the corrupting influences of faction and money.

What the study and report above shows is exactly what I said. The imposed limitation of 435 members placed on congress by congress itself is the limiting factor for gaining more influence over our representatives, for gaining an equitable voice in electing our president. This is one of the easiest things to fix, and it would fix the EC at the same time. With one simple bill introduced in congress we could increase the size of the congress and reduce the numbers of us per representative. We could make the representatives more focused on communicating with their much smaller groups of constituents, and be much more replaceable by those same groups.

A constituent base of 30,000 people means that my specific region of Austin would have their own representative in congress. A larger congress would be impossible to control externally by factional politics. It would lead to the formation of regional parties and a dilution of power in Washington D.C. We’d need to build facilities to house the additional several thousand representatives, which will be a windfall for the states and Washington itself. I don’t see how this works out as bad in any real way.

So rather than paying more money to influence my congressman, vying for influence with dollars I do not have, I propose we pay the congressmen less money and multiply their number by about a magnitude. Require them to listen to us if they want to keep their jobs. As a bonus, the EC will increase in size and we won’t see a repeat of this last election again. Pick one of those three options and work towards it, if you want to save this country from itself. 


Editor’s note. This is an update to the 2016 piece that I wrote anticipating that the EC could be made to do its job when Donald Trump had appeared to win the EC vote, even though three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. I expected that a majority of EC members would rebel and cast their votes for some other candidate rather than either of those two. I would have taken John Kasich at the time. At least he had a working brain, unlike Trump, and wasn’t hated by every conservative in the country, unlike Hillary Clinton. My hopes were dashed and there was no rebellion. The sheep that were put in place to vote for their parties nominee bleated, and we got President Donald Trump for four years.

I have now updated the update again, and moved it forward in time from it’s first publish date March 22, 2019 @ 6:54 am. I like this version better anyway.

Featured image is Howard Chandler Christy’s Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States which replaced a screencap of washingtonpost.com – How The Electoral College Works

Governor Abbott’s Voter Suppression Effort

Local officials in Texas say they plan to fight a new order from Gov. Greg Abbott to limit the number of places where voters can hand deliver mail-in ballots.

Abbott announced the order Thursday, the same day local election officials opened the drop-off sites.

NPR.org

I’ve been of the opinion for decades now that the governor’s office has overstepped its constitutional bounds. It started with Pointy Boots, err, Rick Perry, but Abbott has stretched the areas that the office was intended to govern into areas that are far beyond constitutional intents. I know that interfering in city and county business was exactly what the writers of the Texas constitution were trying to prevent, and yet Abbott has done this routinely over the last few years with the legislature’s help.

Local officials, both county and city, should call his bluff this time. Tell him that he can either get the Secretary of State to issue a guideline that makes that limitation on balloting official (but still questionable) or he can drag the legislature back into session to make the voting changes he calls for a legislative directive that is demonstrably constitutional. Otherwise, tough. The counties make those kinds of decisions and the counties have already made their decisions.

Greg Abbott is not the dictator of Texas, he’s just the governor. His job is to look pretty, sign bills and cut ribbons. That is the extent of his power. That he can only do two of those things is not our problem.

Facebook

The district court was wrong to rewrite Texas law. But the distinguished judge who did so was simply following in the Governor’s footsteps,” Ho wrote. “It is surely just as offensive to the Constitution to rewrite Texas election law by executive fiat as it is to do so by judicial fiat. Yet that is what occurred here.

statesman.com

Sneaker Netting the Vote

“There was a drive that was left out from the D’Iberville Civic Center,” Newman’s campaign manager Holly Gibbes said. “Those numbers were never counted. (Harrison County Circuit Clerk) Connie Ladner‘s office produced that thumb drive today and added it in.

“The thumb drive and all the affidavits, absentees and what could be counted is what put Dixie up by one vote.”

Gibbes said there are still three affidavit votes that have yet to be certified. Those three voters have 96 hours to bring their photo IDs to Ladner’s office in the Gulfport courthouse. Those individuals and their votes are only known by Ladner.

Sun Herald, Lost thumb drive changes Coast Senate race.

I’ve never understood why we do anything we do the way we do it. Everytime some moron gets caught doing stupid stuff like this people start chanting Paper ballots! Paper ballots! I get that paper ballots are more reliable and provide an alternative when an initial count goes awry. A paper trail comes in handy when you screw up counting the votes the first time, like the officials clearly have screwed the count up for this race in Mississippi, this time. They’re going to need paper ballots to recount now. Hope they have them. But how about we don’t screw up the vote the first time, when we go to vote in the future? Why don’t we start with that?

Yes, the current crop of electronic voting machines are questionable in accuracy and are pretty much just black boxes filled with proprietary software authored by the lowest bidder in a government contract executed more than twenty years ago. I’ll grant that they are shabby and their ability to count accurately is questionable. But even given all of that, why on Earth would you a) put electronic voting records on a thumb drive, EVER and b) why would the entity entrusted with counting those ballots ever accept votes that were passed on that way? We make all this crap way, way harder than it has to be.

There is encryption software out there now that could keep your identity as a voter private, but at the same time tell third parties who your vote was for. There is blockchain bookkeeping to keep all of those individual ballots together and properly tabulated. But instead of using the technology we have available to us now, we are sneaker-netting the ballots on thumb drives? Why bother to count at all if that’s the level of security we’re relying on? Heads he’s elected, tails she is sounds just about as effective. A lot cheaper, too.

Yes, paper ballots are preferable to that kind of crap, but why are we doing things that way in the first place? We start the election on this or that day, we hold the ballots open with every person able to verify their ballot is still present and correct until the day when the voting is supposed to end, and then we hold the election ‘open’ until the count is done AND everyone has verified their vote was in the count.

Thumbdrives? Thumbdrives. (shakes head in disgust) I need a drink.

Facebook

Mississippi passed a voter ID law 2014. That law require voters to show state approved photo identification at the polls. If you show up to vote without a “proper” ID, you can still vote, but you have to return to the district voting office within 96 hours and show your ID. If you don’t, your vote doesn’t count.

So, they’ve got a law to certify voters, but not one for … thumb drives.

Stonekettle Station

Wrong Again. Why am I Not Surprised?

On this day in 2015, Robert Reich started his status about the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) with this gloomy paragraph,

Donald Trump is leading all other Republican candidates — not just in polls but also, according to Google Trends, in Google searches. This could push Trump even higher in Google’s search rankings, and such higher rankings would in turn bring him even more support.

He went on to prophesy that the OHM could well win the presidential race based on Google’s skewing of the preferences of Americans through their use of specific algorithms to produce search results. At the time, I was completely oblivious to the structural problem in the internet’s construction, the bias that serving us more of what we wanted to see lent confirmation to the beliefs that we operate under on a day to day basis. This fact alone probably explains why I thought Hillary would win (she did win, but not where it counted) Google served me results that confirmed my bias, masquing the discontent that was felt by far more people than I ever suspected. Felt most especially in three key states that squeaked out a lead for the OHM in the Electoral College. My response three years ago was,

Donald Trump is and will always be a three time loser. In order to be this at running for President, he will have to run one more time after he loses this bid. I encourage him to stick with it. I would like to be right in a prediction for once. In the meantime Bill and Opus for President 2016.

Sadly, Bill and Opus did not win, although the brain that briefly inhabited Bill the Cat’s body did apparently get enough electoral votes to become president. The conspiracy that aliens are controlling the OHM remotely remains a distinct possibility, however, since the brain of Donald Trump has never been found after it left Bill’s head.

Looking back at my utter cluelessness as to just how ready nearly half the US voting population was, willing to watch the entire place burn rather than vote for Hillary Clinton, makes me wonder just how much of that ire is Facebook and Google’s fault? How much of my cluelessness is the fault of their algorithms and how much is my own desire to see the United States continue in some recognizable form?


HIDDEN BRAIN Voting With A Middle Finger: Two Views On The White Working Class October 15, 2018

No matter what the answer is, the America that emerges from under the OHM’s attempted dictatorship will be a different America than went into it. That much is certain. It is certain because America has already changed under the OHM’s naked propagandizing, suppression of the government’s regulatory ability, disregard for disaster relief, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. Whether that change is for the better or the worse will be determined this November. I’ll see you all at the polls.

Political Contributions ARE Bribes

Countable

If “money is speech” then requiring that there be no political contributions on the part of anybody is revoking their first amendment rights. Unconstitutional, just on the face of the proposal.  But the problem really is that money may be speech, but political contributions are bribes, and the contributors know this just as well as the politicians do. Political operations should be funded by the government, directly. As a function of ensuring the best government we can get. Financial contributions accepted by a candidate or representative should be seen as the corruption that it is.

Now, this was specifically offered as a solution to yet another of the Orange Hate-Monkey’s rage-tweets about the witch hunt that was out to get him being biased against him. About investigators working for the justice department being free to voice their opinions through donations to political campaigns. In that light, this is just more smoke. it doesn’t help the problem in question and only obscures it more. I expect better service than this, Countable. 

Email and Crime

No, I don’t follow the OHM.

This little gem showed up as a notification on my phone today, Sessions Speeds Up Clinton Email Case. Just in case anyone is mystified by how this is still a thing we talk about, I will direct you to the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) need to beat the dead horse of Hillary Clinton’s political aspirations on a near-daily basis. He rage tweets so often about Hillary Clinton you would have good reason to think that she won the office that he now occupies. And while she did win the office by a landslide in the popular vote (three million more votes than the OHM) we all know that the slavery compromise of the Electoral College has corrupted the intentions of the authors of the Constitution we still live under, requiring us to pay lip service to the OHM as president when he is quite literally the furthest thing from presidential that most of us can imagine. There is no more visible example in the United States today that the system we live under is corrupt and requires maintenance and repair, than the fact that the OHM sits in an office that he has no traceable ability to perform in even a substandard fashion, and that he was given the office by people who could have done otherwise but felt they were powerless to do so.

So the OHM has gained the office of President of the United States. He has personal control over the largest military ever assembled on the face of the Earth, with more destructive capability than is needed to reduce the Earth to an essentially lifeless husk. If you have half the imagination that I do, this prospect gives you nightmares you awaken screaming from several times a week. That kind of power is resting in the hands of our Presidential real estate developer and Russian money launderer.  The fact that he laundered and continues to launder money for the Russian mob will be demonstrable by the time that Robert Mueller finishes his investigation into Trump’s business practices, and anyone who thinks that isn’t grounds for impeachment all on its own doesn’t understand business or politics. Why the OHM continues to pretend that he didn’t coordinate with his buddy Vladimir Putin, even though half his campaign staff has now been brought up on charges relating to the investigation of Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is anyone’s guess. Only his stormtrumpers are dumb enough to believe the theater he creates daily to distract us from the fact that the proverbial Manchurian Candidate sits in the office of the president. Oh, what about Crooked Hillary? What about the other losers that I beat to get here? Why aren’t they under investigation?

Let’s talk about the OHM’s predecessors, then. Let’s talk about their use of email to avoid embarrassment at having their machinations revealed to the voting public. And since we are talking about crimes that went down in previous administrations, let’s go all the way back. Not just to Hillary and her nearly unprecedented willingness to cooperate with investigators on the subject of her email correspondence, but all the way back to George W. Bush, the infamous W, and his administration’s completely different take on public access to correspondence that they didn’t want us to have,

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?

Eventually, the Bush White House admitted it had lost 22 million emails, not 5 million. Then, in December 2009—well into Barack Obama’s administration—the White House said it found 22 million emails, dated between 2003 and 2005, that it claimed had been mislabeled. That cache was given to the National Archives, and it and other plaintiffs agreed, on December 14, 2009, to settle their lawsuit. But the emails have not yet been made available to the public.

Newsweek, The George W. Bush White House ‘lost’ 22 Million Emails

When the Republicans pictured above are on trial for deleting their records rather than hand them over, I will care about the records that Hillary Clinton turned over. Millions of messages deleted by every significant figure in the W Administration, and no one is investigating these very real crimes. Not one official has been charged with a crime relating to their destroying this information, no one has gone to jail. The selective memory of stormtrumpers and GOPpers is the problem here, not Clinton’s public records.

For those of you who think this is a smokescreen, that what I am and others are suggesting, is that Hillary Clinton be let off on a technicality, let me set you straight. Hillary Clinton surrendered her emails that weren’t her private correspondence. I know that the idea that politicians don’t have something to hide (especially female politicians. Female politicians who seem overly fond of privacy) just strikes the average cynic as implausible, but there it is. She complied with the request from legitimate authority and has suffered no end of pain over it. People are convinced there is a crime there somewhere. There just has to be, after eight inquests and millions of dollars spent. Surely there is something?

No. No there isn’t. I know this breaks your heart but if you want to satisfy your intense interest in other people’s private correspondence, why don’t you go look through George W. Bush’s email records? Why? Because you can’t. Because they destroyed that information rather than turn it over when it was requested by legitimate authority.

But really, why go back in time at all? There is no need to look any further than to the sitting president, since an example of the kinds of transgressions that drive stormtrumpers and GOPpers alike into frothing fury when it comes to Hillary Clinton can be found sitting at the right hand of the OHM. His son-in-law was recently reported to be using a private email server to conduct official White House business,

As a candidate, Mr. Trump aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, for her use of private email while she was secretary of state. Some of Mr. Trump’s allies outside the White House are urging him to press for a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, even though an F.B.I. investigation into her handling of classified information has been closed. At Mr. Trump’s rallies, his supporters still break into cheers of “lock her up!” – New York TimesKushner Used Personal Email Account for Government Business

So we can add this hypocrisy to the list of administration officials past and now present, officials who have also not been indicted for using a private email server to conduct government business. Will the Republicans now be chanting Lock Him Up? Don’t hold your breath.

A version of this was originally posted here, I let the freak flag fly this time out. I don’t think I can get more pissed off that this is still a thing than I am right now. I can give it a shot if you think more visible anger would help. 

Is the FEC Ready for the November Election?

The FEC has to be fully staffed and prepared for contingencies when the Russians start trying to interfere in the elections this year. If Trump the Orange Hate-Monkey attempts to soft pedal this his impeachment should be accelerated so that he will be out of office before the election. He is a Russian stooge. We don’t need him mucking up the works and blaming others.

The West should be testing Russian facilities that actually matter for how hardened they are against cyber attack. We should be making sure you can’t even turn a light on in Moscow. After a few months of that, it won’t take an election to get rid of Putin.


Editor’s note. Countable comments posted to the blog. Where are the reports of foreign interference in the 2018 elections? Certainly not in my newsfeed. I’ll have to go looking, I guess. If I can ever catch up, I will.

Facebook ≠ Good Governance

Facebook wants me to use Facebook to contact my representatives in government. I’ll get to the issue of my never giving Facebook the authority to be the messenger to and from my representatives in government eventually. First I would like to explain why none of these people really want to hear from me again.

There is one preliminary quibble I need to get out of the way. Facebook claims my local government representatives are on Facebook. this is false. Austin’s mayor is on Facebook as part of this new Townhall function they’ve come up with, so there is a representative of my local government. But not nearly all of them, or even more than that one. No one below that, local townsfolk who have actual knowledge of what I need and might want to say to them are on Facebook as part of this function that Facebook has given itself. None of them; City Manager, City Councilmember, County Commissioners, Justice of the Peace,  County Clerk, Municipal Court, Police Department, Fire Department, EMS, Austin Utilities, Texas Gas, Or the various information service providers, all of whom are between me and my access to Facebook who has deemed itself my conduit to speaking to my government representatives, are listed as being part of this townhall dublafluwichy they’ve invented for Facebook.

Now, these guys? These guys aren’t local, but one of them was. So I’ll follow him. He’s also the only one of these people who would willingly take a call from me personally and not actually ignore anything I say, so he’s the only one worth talking to. Now, you could say, What about Dawnna Dukes? She’s local. Yeah, she’s local, but there’s no point in talking to her. She wasn’t present to do her job this session in congress, and I voted for her for the first time in 2016 only because she promised she’d retire and let a special session pick her replacement. This time around I will vote for anybody who runs against her in the primary. Anybody. I’ll vote for anybody running against her in the general. Anybody. That’s how much I want her out of the seat she’s sitting in.

The other two state Schmos? The ones who represent the entire state of Texas? I’ve never voted for either of them at any point in history, and I doubt that I ever will. One of them is a crazed religious zealot who wants to kick all Hispanics out of the state of Texas and thinks that the transgendered, homosexuals and atheists are threats to the christian way of life, and the other one is Dan Patrick. The less said about him the better.

These guys are definitely not local. District twenty-five is a gerrymandered piece of shit that the Texas GOP came up with to get rid of what was then the only sitting Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives. They failed. He’s still there sitting in the seat he inherited from J.J. Jake Pickle.

Roger Williams is from Killeen, a place way up North of Austin. He’s not local. If Texas was broken up like the Atlantic states are, He’d be from Maine while I was from Connecticut. Not even vaguely similar. Killeen is as much like Austin as a Catholic is like a Baptist. Jesus is their shared savior but they aren’t exactly sure how that is.

Likewise John Cornyn is from Texas but his notion of what Texas is and mine will never be the same. Ted Cruz is Ted Cruz. I’ve talked to both of them before. I’d rather have a conversation with my dog. I’m pretty sure my dog understands me better and I’m quite comfortable calling my dog a friend I can relate to. If I could relate to those two I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.

All three of those guys, Williams, Cornyn and Cruz are on the same list as Dawnna Dukes, which is a low point for Democrats for me. The one Democrat who represents me is the one Democrat I want to be rid of; the one Democrat that I would vote for anybody on the ticket other than her. The other three are just typical Texas Republicans. People I generally have no use for but are stuck in the same state with anyway. Their twisted values are as familiar to me as the taint of oil refinery polluted air around Houston and Borger. The shell-shocked town of West. The destitute colonias along the Texas-Mexico border. No, I know these people quite well. They are the problem, not the solution.

All of the negative observations above goes double for both Mike Pence and Donald Trump. Mike Pence may end up being the person in charge of the federal government but that will only be because the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) is completely incapable of holding government office successfully. His probable presidency will not be because Mike Pence has the slightest clue in which direction reality lies or an idea of what good governance is or might be. He’s only the Vice President because the OHM picked someone everyone would be less inclined to trust than him. We can’t impeach Trump, then we’d have to face President Pence. Except we have to impeach Trump because he’s probably a lunatic, making him more dangerous to the world than a President Pence would be to us.

Fresh Air, Understanding Mike Pence And His Relationship To Trump: ‘His Public Role Is Fawning’, October 18, 2017

Having now taken the tour of Facebook’s townhall offering, I’d like to make a counter-offer. Be careful, Facebook. You are starting to look like the Post Office. The Post Office was Benjamin Franklin’s invention that allowed an informed public to be created and through it for representative governance to be possible. If you are the Post Office, then you are subject to direct federal oversight. You are a part of government; and as such, can be dictated to by the exact same representatives you list for me to contact. You can be altered, ordered or dismantled by the government without an appeal to the population at large. Without a claim to private business or privacy protections. Branches of government can come and go at the government’s whim.

With a user base of over a billion people, I have to wonder if there is anything with enough power to bring you to heel? I’m beginning to doubt that there is an entity with enough authority to govern the internet in general and Facebook in particular. But it may be about time that we starting talking about that kind of authority, if not well past that time.

James Comey Gave the Election to Donald Trump

From Robert Reich’s Facebook wall comes this. Today, nearly seven months after the election.

About 12 percent of Bernie Sanders’s supporters in the Democratic primary crossed party lines and voted for Donald Trump in the general election, according to a new analysis.

In several key states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — the number of Sanders to Trump defectors were greater than Trump’s margin of victory, according to new numbers released Wednesday by UMass professor Brian Schaffner.

What do you think?

I get really, really tired of the armchair quarterbacking of political events. That’s what I think. I think the three critical states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan were so close as to make the term “victory” an almost meaningless label to apply to either candidate, which is why I ignore most pundits when they talk about why the race turned out the way it did. None of them could do better than Nate Silver and fivethirtyeight.com did before the election and even the best science around still gave Hillary a better than 70% chance of winning. I’ve known virtually since the second or third week after the election that there was only one person to blame for swinging the election to Trump in the final weeks running up to election day.

We have James Comey to thank for President Donald Trump. As 538 has mentioned more than once, Comey gave the election to Trump with his letter on October 28, 2016. It was Comey, Comey and more Comey, which is why I shed no tears at his leaving the FBI. Without Comey’s letter we have a Hillary Clinton presidency. This is undeniable,

The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify, by contrast. At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.

538

Could Clinton have done a better job? Without question. Clinton herself is another subject I hope to tackle at some point (here) but she did no better and no worse than any of the male presidential candidates before her as far as her activity and campaign go.

So let’s not play these games that the DNC wants us to play right now. They want us to keep Bernie Sanders from changing the Democratic party. They want us to embrace the neoliberalism introduced by Bill Clinton. That is a part of history now. What the future holds is anybody’s guess but you don’t earn the label progressive or liberal by looking to that past. That is Conservatism and playing the Republican’s game. That is playing to lose. Let’s play a progressive game next time and see if the GOP can keep up. Let’s play to win for a change.

Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression. Part Two

I generally find the Decode DC podcast to be very informative, at least. Generally worth my time to listen. I remember Jimmy Williams from my days of watching MSNBC. He was a favorite on The Dylan Ratigan Show and while I didn’t always appreciate his take on the issues at hand, I generally had to admit that he had a point he was trying to make. This episode?

President Trump believes he would have won the popular vote — if it weren’t for the 3 million people that voted illegally. Even though there’s no evidence to support his claim, he put together a commission to look into the issue, and their first meeting is today. They’ve already been pretty active, asking for voter data from all 50 states. But what exactly is going on with this commission, and what can we expect?

I didn’t need to listen to thirty minutes of in-depth analysis to know what to expect from the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) farcical Voter Fraud Commission. Even Republicans agree that the commission will not uncover any real issues with voter fraud. Republicans have never been shy about their goals when it comes to voters; they want to suppress votes that are cast against them.


Pennsylvania state rep. Mike Turzai in a rare moment of sincerity. Getting Romney elected was the goal, suppressing the vote was the tool they were going to use.

If Kris Kobach‘s term as the Secretary of State (SoS) for Kansas is any measure, the commission is going to work tirelessly to suppress the votes of liberals and progressives across the nation. These groups are the illegal voters in the minds of conservatives, it is just a measure of how they are going to keep them from voting in enough numbers to unseat them from their thrones of power. What Downsize DC took thirty minutes to say, I can spell out in very few sentences.

There are excuses that the commission will use to purge voter rolls, as Kobach did in Kansas and as Conservative/Republican SoS’s did in a number of states. But in the end these are all excuses to do the thing they want done. Suppress enough votes to keep Republicans in power. Every person who understands what happens when you keep a large enough fraction of a population from participating in government should be recoiling in horror at this point. They will be recoiling in horror because this course is a recipe for a violent response, what always happens when frustrated people are kept from even the appearance of a having a voice in government.

What this all means is that we must resist. We must keep the pressure on our separate state governments. We must keep the local politicians aware that we are watching them and they had better not attempt to keep us from exercising our rights as Americans. We liberals, progressives and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, we will all vote in 2018 and we will replace them if they even make noise about resisting us. About suppressing our rights, denying us our voice. This needs to be made very clear to them now, so that there are no violent surprises later.

Voting is not a privilege, it is a duty. In my opinion it should be a requirement, mandatorily enforced with fines for failure to participate. Election day should be a paid holiday, a national festival. Everyone should be encouraged to participate in anyway that they can, not driven from the field with acrimony and mudslinging. It is an embarrassing failure of communication, one of the biggest embarrassments of this nation, that we cannot look our opponents in the eye and contend with their differing viewpoints without casting them as enemies. As other. May I live to see the day this changes.


The first post of mine to ever get an addendum that wasn’t pre-written, but still appears the first time the article was published. I have no idea (No. Idea.) why this wasn’t published to the blog. No clue. I just didn’t hit publish, apparently. Which is fine as it turns out because just yesterday a new episode on this subject dropped that I really should add to this blog post that will be back-dated on the blog to July but really isn’t being published until November 10th.

“Twenty-three thousand people who were prevented from voting in two counties alone because of this law, and Donald Trump only won [Wisconsin] by twenty-two thousand votes.”Ari Berman 

Let me translate that for you. The OHM is president (in part) because Republicans and conservatives denied people the right to vote in Wisconsin and several other states. They violated our rights and gave the OHM the office he now holds. He didn’t win it, he doesn’t deserve it.