Category Archives: Politics

The Cookie Jar

“I’ve caught you with your hand in the cookie jar!”

“No, you haven’t!”

“Dude, yes I have! I’m looking at you right now! You literally have your hand in the cookie jar!”

“I don’t! This is not even a cookie jar!”

“Dude, it says ‘cookie jar’ right on it!”

“Fake labels! Besides, just because I have my hand in it doesn’t mean I’ve got a cookie.”

“But you’ve got cookie dust on your tie, so obviously you’ve been eating them!”

“Witch hunt! Look, can you see my hand inside the cookie jar? It’s not a transparent jar, so you don’t even know that it’s my hand.”

“But it’s connected to your arm.”

“You’ve got hands on your arms, too! So does almost everyone else. What about them? Why aren’t you investigating them for stealing your cookies?”

“BECAUSE I’M LOOKING AT YOU RIGHT NOW WITH YOUR HAND IN THE COOKIE JAR!!!”

“There aren’t even any cookies in this jar. You’ve really got to stop with this obsessive persecution of me to distract from your own crimes.”

“My own crimes?”

“Yeah! You put cookies in this jar and did NOTHING to stop people from stealing cookies! THIS IS YOUR FAULT!”

“But just a second ago you said there were no cookies in there.”

“I did not. I don’t know where you’re getting this fake news from.”

(The sound of bloody squelching as I repeatedly bash my skull into a wall.)

The Simpsons troll Trump

It’s not the first time. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

Life will appear to go on

There is a misconception that if we lose our rights life will grind to a halt. It’s not true. As we lose the right to collectively bargain, the right to have our votes counted, the right to say what happens to our own bodies, everything will still seem almost normal. As we lose the right to a clean and healthy environment, the right to safe food and water, the right of a free press, the right to not be discriminated against because of whom we love or what religion we believe in (or not at all), life will go on. Reality shows will continue to air, the latest fashions will still be in the stores, and pop stars will still lip-sync forgettable ditties. Life will go on. We’ll hardly notice the important things we’ve lost until it’s too late.

Urgently needed travel ban doesn’t seem all that urgent

The new travel ban signed by President Trump takes effect in 10 days. This on top of the delays since the White House announced a new executive order was on the way.

Previously, the president had tweeted:

travel ban tweet

This doesn’t lend credence to President Trump’s insistence that the travel ban was urgently needed because “thousands” of “bad dudes” were pouring into the US with plans to carry out terrorist attacks.

Who benefits?

Things I learned from reading Malcolm Nance:

Vladimir Putin seeks to rebuild a Russian empire for the enrichment of himself and his fellow oligarchs.

A weakened and dismantled USA and EU are essential to his goal.

An America distracted by chaos and instability serves the Russian leader’s purpose.

The one person who benefits from everything that’s happening in American politics right now is Vladimir Putin. And he seems like he’s getting everything he wants exactly the way he wants it.

With this election, Vladimir Putin, the former director of Russia’s intelligence agency, sees the election of Donald Trump as the fastest way to destabilize the United States and damage its economy, as well as fracture both the European Union and NATO. These events, which start with the election of Trump, would allow Russia to become the strongest of the world’s three superpowers and reorder the globe with a dominant Russia at the helm. — Malcolm Nance, “The Plot to Hack America”

plot

WATCH: Bad Lip Reading does Inauguration Day

All we can do now is laugh. All we can do now is laugh.

How to reform the Electoral College to avoid another “loophole president”

A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans who voted in this year’s election want to do away with the Electoral College, that archaic holdover born at a time when the founding fathers wanted to placate southern slave states so they’d get on board with the new Constitution.

The founding fathers had different ideas for the Electoral College. For some, the idea was to ensure smaller population states (like slave ones) wouldn’t be outvoted in every election. (It’s also the genesis of the infamous “three-fifths clause.”) It wasn’t so much about states’ voting power as it was protecting the south from the north.

Another idea was that the College could be a fail-safe mechanism in case the people voted for a criminal, an idiot, a fraudster, or someone who wasn’t qualified to lead the nation.

Whatever the intent was, it’s an idea fraught with problems. The most glaring fault is when the EC goes counter to the popular vote, as it did this year with Hillary Clinton receiving some 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump, not a small margin. Many feel the current mechanism violates the principle of one person one vote, as it gives people in smaller states much more voting power than people in larger states.

lawrence-lessigProblematic as it is, getting rid of the College would require a constitutional amendment, and that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. But it can be reformed. It can be made fairer. It can be amended so that it more accurately reflects the will of the people.

Last week I spoke to Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the former director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. He acknowledged that the Electoral College won’t be consigned to the dustbin of history in the near (or maybe far) future, but he shared a couple of ideas for reform that might correct the faults.

The first way is for states to abolish “winner take all,” the principle where the state popular vote winner (even if it’s just by one vote) gets all of that state’s electors. He said there’s already a group of people preparing litigation to challenge the principle immediately after the election. If the Supreme Court rules that it’s a constitutional violation, and Lessig thinks it would, then the EC and the popular vote would more fairly align. So far, only two states have done away with “winner take all.”

But Lessig was more excited by another idea for change, one that could reform the EC without litigation or a constitutional amendment. He explained:

[…] that change is advanced by the National Popular Vote Project. What that project is, is a compact among states, and what the states have basically said is when states representing at least 270 electoral college votes all join a compact, what they promise to do is to allocate their electors to the person who has won the national popular vote. So if you can get 270 votes together into one, then they will switch their votes to whoever wins the national popular vote automatically and therefore avoid any more questions about the person winning the national popular vote not being sworn in as president.

Lessig said he has high hopes for this idea.

[…] they’re actually on their way to getting to 270, and I’m sure this election cycle is gonna re-energize the movement towards that solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the time we get to the next election the possibility of this “loophole presidency” will have been removed.

Both of these plans are more workable than abolition, though I must say the best idea is to do away with the Electoral College. Every other elected office in the United States is chosen by popular vote. The presidency should be, too.

(There are some who defend the EC despite its inherent unfairness. The three most common defenses are debunked here. I present the link for additional reading.)