Saturday, August 01, 2020

Faithless electors? Revisiting the Electoral College

Folks on both right & left rejoice over the near unanimous decision that states can force 'faithless" electors to vote as the state's voter majority declared, for president. Well, you'll not be surprised to learn that I have a more complicated opinion. This decision might - maybe - scotch scenarios where -say- Wisconsin GOP legislators try to steal the state's electoral votes from Biden. And yes, as-is the Electoral College is a travesty, not behaving like a "college" of sages, at all. 

OTOH, for Kagan to write that electors were never meant to be anything other than mathematical conduits is disingenuous. The very word "College" suggests that in the ideal case they might meet and deliberate to choose the very best person as Chief Executive.

Distance made that ideal impossible, in olden times. Today, it's a mockery because parties assign slates of names as electors pledged to their candidate... and in most states voters never even see the electors' names. But that doesn't have to be so! Especially in these modern, cyber-times. One could envision a dozen different ways that electors themselves might be chosen with voter input, making them more than honorary rewards for party service.

But something else. Back in late November 2016, I tried to circulate a notion... that one moderately rich person might rent a luxury resort hotel somewhere, provide extra security, and simply declare: 

"All recently elected Electors may come at free business class travel and stay for two weeks, unbothered by anyone except hotel service staff. They may do or say anything they like, relax, argue, be a 'college' or not. Hands-off."

Three sentences that would rock the nation. 

If more than 270 did show up, there'd be a 'quorum' of sorts for conversation and argument, though the voting would still come back home in each state capital, in mid-December. And sure, the electors would mostly be party loyalists, even hacks. Still, faced with the intolerable, a deal might be struck.

Still, picture it. Envision this had happened in 2016... and the subsequent Kaine-Pence Administration...

Oh, I agree with most of what Lawrence Lessig and his colleagues at EQUAL CITIZEN try to accomplish re electoral reform. Even when I disagree a bit, as in their Electoral College endeavor, I still urge you to swing by and give it a close look. 

Oh finally note this case was actually very specific: "Monday’s ruling upholds a $1,000 fine against Peter Chiafalo, one of three Washington state electors who cast their ballots for Colin Powell rather than for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the state’s popular vote." 

Hence the Court declared that states may “punish” electors who decide to go their own way. It still doesn’t prevent the actual act of voting for someone other than their party’s candidate. Hence, an elector might vote against a monster as a willing, sacrificial act… or else take the penalty as the cost of a bribe. As usual, the Court has ‘clarified’ almost nothing.

== What this cathedral stands for, really ==

The new, 6 billion ruble Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, in Moscow, is a grand statement of Vladimir Putin’s vision of what is most important in Russia: Russian Orthodox faith, national pride and the armed services. Steps are made of steel from captured Nazi tanks.

And yes, Papa Stalin was a wise leader and father of the nation who never signed any pacts with Hitler! Try to put it all together. Putin's glorification of the Eastern Orthodox Church while keeping the Soviet KGB intact, except for its name, and filling the ranks of Russian government and billionaire oligarchy with former commissars who were raised for decades reciting Leninist catechisms as sacred scripture. Putin once declared that the fall of the USSR was "history's greatest tragedy."

What do these contradictions mean? It's simple. Marxism-Leninism was always just another "potemkin" surface of symbols and incantations to justify a streltsy-feudal system - augmented by secret police - that has gone unchanged since the czars. So they switched symbols and incantations quicker than a Vegas magician backstage between scenes? So?
They had tried and utterly failed to suborn the Western left and trade unions for 80 years. But switching emblems and chants to "traditionalism," with strong mafia flavors and by flattering/blackmailing western aristocrats, they have swiftly and completely take over the Right in America and Europe.

Again, these are the very same men, using the same tools aimed at the same end, with different lipstick. And the western Right has thrown themselves at their feet. 

Alexis de Tocqueville predicted - long before there was a Karl Marx - that the final struggled over humanity's fate would be between Russia and America. It was understandably narrowminded to leave out China! But impressive, nonetheless.

PS... Get and read Sorokin's amazing short sci fi novel "Day of the Oprichnik."

Here’s a link to the Obama Administration’s pandemic guidance booklet - and then to a line by line comparison vs. the fumbled, murderously incompetent actual behavior of the entire GOP establishment and Fox-zone.

== They are on our side, get used to it ==

My longstanding assertion that we can count on the US military officer corps is backed up in powerful stuff by Luncian Truscott IV - a West Point graduate - who is scion of five generations of American military heroes (including one featured in the movie ‘Patton’). He’s also a Jefferson descendant (like many black folks). This Truscott article about the military’s loathing of Trump concludes with:

“It's getting serious out there, folks. The word "treason," as in giving aid and comfort to the enemy, is being thrown around not only on op-ed pages but in Congress. This may turn into yet another Ukraine aid scandal, in which Trump commits impeachable offenses and simply gets away with it because Republicans refuse to confront his treachery, let alone  do anything about it. But he's surrounded by people in important, powerful positions who are privy to big, important secrets, and they want him out of office. With their leaks about the Russian bounties, they have in effect put a bounty on Trump's head. He has been wounded by the coronavirus, he's wounded by the economy, he's wounded by Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the streets and he's getting grievously wounded by this. 

“You know he's desperate when he starts calling a real threat to the lives of our soldiers fighting on foreign soil a "hoax." Trump is a threat to our national security. He's not a president. He's a co-conspirator with dictators who are enemies of this country. He's a traitor, and he needs to go."

Oh, it's not just Kremlin "bounties" on US soldier lives, or the endless "deep state" insults or the slavish devotion and kowtowing to Putin or the relentless destruction of our alliances. The officer corps is furious that this miserable narcissist ordered an entire valuable, irreplaceable West Point graduating class to congregate and risk infection by a disease with longstanding CHRONIC repercussions just so he could yammer at them for 20 minutes then stumble down a ramp.

Any of you lefties who kneejerk refuse to accept as allies the brave women and men who wear crewcuts and hairbuns... you are too stupid for words.

== Last chance for unusual tactics? ==

We're getting locked in to the campaigns for November. I have tried everything to get my book of political ideas - Polemical Judo - before the eyes of anyone who might be interested in agile, new tactics (any one of which could have made a big difference, this year), and have got nowhere. Alas.

Well then, some humility. I'll do what I can, like urging many of you to step up, across the next few months. For example, this site offers not only ways to donate, but direct methods  for you to volunteer. Voter registration, for example. Phone banks. (Now you can do however many hours you feel like, from your own home.)  Or watch Trevor Noah who will give you links to volunteers as a poll worker, thus helping to thwart the coming wave of cheating.

== And finally… ==

A professor in Shanghai has offered a controversial solution to two major problems in China, an excess of 34 million males, plus a reluctance of Chinese women to have more than one child. The “solution”: allow women to have multiple husbands, and they will have multiple babies. What starts out almost sounding woman-liberating soon gets spoiled, however: “Plus, it would just be more efficient, he continued, suggesting that women would have no trouble meeting the physical needs of multiple husbands…. It’s common for prostitutes to serve more than 10 clients in a day,” Ng wrote, before taking off on another offensive tangent. “Making meals for three husbands won’t take much more time than for two husbands,” he added.

Okay, one starts to see a pattern why Russian, Japanese and Chinese women have been going on a low-simmer reproductive strike.