Tag Archives: Donald Trump

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.

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.)

Standoff between China and the US over seized underwater drone

UPDATE: The Pentagon says China has agreed to return the underwater drone. The original post is below.

China has seized a US underwater drone and the standoff is escalating. The US says the drone was a scientific research vessel, the Chinese say it was spying on their submarines in Chinese waters. It’s another in a series of escalating actions China is taking.

Is this because of Donald Trump accepting a phone call from the president of Taiwan and his increasing anti-China rhetoric? Maybe. And it’s interesting to note that a retired Chinese admiral, speaking at a conference sponsored by a state-run newspaper, called out the president-elect by name:

“If Trump and the American government dare to take actions to challenge the bottom line of China’s policy and core interests, we must drop any expectations about him and give him a bloody nose.”

More from the New York Times:

According to a Pentagon account, a Chinese Navy vessel that was shadowing the Bowditch — a common practice in the South China Sea — pulled up not far from the vessel. It then dispatched a small boat to seize the drone as the American crew was recovering it from the water, the Pentagon said. The Pentagon described the vehicle as an unclassified “ocean glider” system used to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature and sound speed.

An American naval expert did not disagree with Mr. Wu’s notion of what the Americans were probably doing. “Warfare and surveillance in the age of drones has not yet developed an agreed-upon set of rules,” said Lyle J. Goldstein, associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, in Rhode Island.

“This is increasingly a major problem as both China and the U.S. are deploying ever more air and naval drones into the contested waters and airspace of the Western Pacific,” he said.

The seizure was possibly another demonstration by Beijing that it can irritate the United States in a gray zone, just under the threshold of actual hostilities, Mr. Goldstein said. He said it was a time for “cooler heads to prevail,” to halt a cycle of escalation that “cannot end well for either side.”

WATCH: Happy holidays. NSFW.

A woman in Chicago has a 45-minute meltdown. For no apparent reason, she starts screaming she voted for Trump and the African-American store employees were discriminating against her for voting for the president-elect, something no one there had any way of knowing before she announced it. Her meltdown continues as she begins to berate everyone else in the store, accusing a woman’s husband of cheating on her and her infant of stealing.

Happy holidays.

Read more about the incident here.

UPDATE: The woman who shot the video has posted the following on her Facebook page:

It has been brought to my attention that people have identified the woman in the video I posted. I started taking that video to protect the employees of the store and I am glad that is working! But, I’m going to do something the president-elect is not going to do and ask people to stop throwing hatred at the woman in the video. Do not try to contact her or harass her. Do not post her contact info. Violence is not the answer. Also, SHE is not the point. Her actions are – and the fact that this behavior has been normalized is unacceptable. It’s happening everywhere. I posted this video so that people would see that this is real. What matters are the employees she hurled the insults at. This woman did not see anything wrong with her actions. If anything, she felt justified. She expected white people like me to agree with her and when they told her she was wrong and to stop, she spun out of control. What you don’t see in the video were other people united – different skin color, different gender, different sexuality – all united. I was not shaking in the video because of the woman shouting, I was shaking because the black employee standing next to me was so strong, unwavering and calm. This is bigger than one person and one incident. We have to stand up and say this is not okay every time. Don’t get caught up in demonizing one individual. This is bigger than that.

WATCH: Bad Lip Reading – The first presidential debate

This is probably the best Bad Lip Reading video ever.

The one and only VP debate of 2016

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence won the debate on style, but he failed to defend Donald Trump. Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine, on the other hand, fulfilled his role as Hillary Clinton’s running mate by doing the job he was supposed to do – defend the Democratic candidate’s record and policies.

Kaine started the debate over-caffeinated but settled down as the evening wore on. Pence started calm and relaxed, but he seemed to lose his patience as Kaine slowed his roll and got a handle on his rapid-fire delivery.

The ultimate loser of the debate was Trump, as we watched the official launch of the Pence 2020 presidential campaign, and the Republican VP candidate spent his time denying that Trump said the things he said. And the more obvious those denials became, the more we could see that Pence is looking beyond Trump for what the GOP will have to do in the aftermath.

Pence’s accomplishment last night was to supplant Ted Cruz as the de-facto leader of the religious conservative wing of the Republican Party.

The most amusing response to the debate comes from Donald Trump, the man who continually interrupted Hillary Clinton during the first presidential debate. He actually tweeted this a little while ago:

trump-tweet