Electoral College Day, then and now

640px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesThe Electoral College meets today, with the designated electors meeting in state capitols to cast their vote for president.  In most states, electors are required, by law or by oath, to vote according to the election results of their state.  Nevertheless, this year electors are receiving thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls, insisting on the autonomy of the electoral college and begging them not to put Trump in office.  Even Democratic electors are being pressured not to vote for Clinton but a more conventional Republican, in the hopes of attracting enough Republican electors to switch from Trump.

In the first presidential election, each state voted, either popularly or by state legislature, for upstanding citizens and trusted local leaders who gathered together to deliberate on who would make the best president.  They voted, and the winner would become president.  That first Electoral College chose, unanimously, George Washington.  There hasn’t been a better president since.

But soon political parties came into existence, nominating their candidates. The electors came to represent a particular party.  They began to all be selected by a popular vote.  And soon we had the system we do today.  (See this for the history of the Electoral College.)

Would you favor going back to the original Constitutional method of picking a president? [Read more…]

Problems with the EXXON CEO as Secretary of State

Those ties themselves are problematic.  How can we have a Secretary of State with such known biases on behalf of a particular country, let alone one that has been our adversary?  But this looks especially bad since his nomination came just days after the CIA charges that Russia influenced our election in order to help Trump get elected.  True or not, Tillerman’s nomination contributes to the narrative that the Russians are taking over our government.
(3)  The appearance of plutocracy.  There are people on both the left and the right who say that our democracy is a sham because our country is really run by the big corporations.  Trump’s packing his cabinet with billionaires, Wall Street tycoons, and corporation CEOs plays right into that.
Trump hammered Hillary Clinton for giving speeches to Goldman-Sachs.  But he has appointed three Goldman-Sachs executives to his administration.  He owes his election to blue-collar workers the Democrats have ignored, but where is an advocate for that demographic in his administration?
Maybe the Trump phenomenon is just the return of the old pre-Reagan country club Republicans.  After all, Trump builds country clubs.  The Rockefeller Republicans were the party of big business, throwing in some socially liberal noblesse oblige.  
I had greater hopes than this.  Somebody, please, convince me that I’m wrong to worry.

Democrats lost because they raised religious liberty fears

2519766036_d988be0058_zThe reason the Democrats lost, argues David Bernstein in the Washington Post, is that their words, actions, and policies made large numbers of Christians afraid that their religious liberty is in jeopardy.  So even though they had major qualms about Donald Trump, they voted for him in large enough numbers to give him the victory.

Bernstein’s point, I believe, is that Democrats wouldn’t have to threaten religious liberty to meet their major policy goals.  The country could have gay marriage without punishing those who don’t believe in it.  The country could have legalized and insurance-subsidized abortion without making religious people pay for it.  LGBT folks could have legal rights and find acceptance–probably more acceptance– even if they made some accommodation to religious sensitivities.  And yet, Democrats threatened and demonized Christians, oblivious to the fact that this meant that a very  large percentage of the American public would not be voting for them.

Read Bernstein’s analysis after the jump.  Is he describing you? [Read more…]

CIA says Russia helped Trump 

41d3e943e7f3eb460e44 The CIA says that Russia deliberately interfered in the American election in order to help elect DonalTrump.  Russian hackers broke into e-mails of both the Democratic and the Republican national committees, but turned over only the Democratic batch to Wikileaks.  The correspondence between Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and various Democratic operatives proved highly embarrassing to her campaign and likely cost her some votes.

Trump and his people are denying the Russian involvement–but how do they know?  The CIA report doesn’t accuse the Trump campaign of collusion with the Russians.  And there is nothing to deny the legitimacy of Trump’s election.  I suspect the CIA has tried to help one candidate or the other in various foreign elections.  But still. . . .

This casts a cloud on any attempts by the new administration to improve relations with Russia, which Trump has said he wants to do.  Which is why, of course, the Putin regime wanted him to win.  For other problems it creates, see this.  The biggest issue, though, is that if a hostile foreign power can manipulate America’s democracy, we have a national security problem that the military can’t protect us from.
[Read more…]

Trump’s appointments & WWE connections

WrestleMania_32_2016-04-03_21-22-10_ILCE-6000_0270_DxO_(27979372475)Donald Trump’s choices for his cabinet and other high-level positions in his administration are interesting, to say the least.  He is stacking defense-related positions with generals, well-qualified to be sure, but this has some worried about the tradition of civilian control of the military.  He is awarding some loyalists but also including some Republican establishment figures, including, magnanimously, some who opposed him (such as Nikki Haley for UN ambassador, with Mitt Romney a contender for Secretary of State).

Some of his choices are disruptive.  Trump has picked Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.  But Pruitt has spent much of his time here in Oklahoma fighting the EPA, filing all kinds of lawsuits against the agency’s attempts to regulate Oklahoma’s environment and oil businesses.  Pruitt just doesn’t believe in man-made climate change or other tenets of Green ideology.  He does believe the EPA has been imposing unnecessary regulations that are too costly for businesses and that are a drag on the economy.  Putting him in charge of the EPA comes close to eliminating the agency. [Read more…]

The triumphs of nationalism

photo-1454991170847-afc8d5b828dd_optThe victory of Donald Trump–along with other political insurgencies in England, France, Italy, and other countries–was a triumph of nationalism.  It was not a triumph of conservatism, though conservatism went along for the ride and is generally hospitable to nationalism.  But the new political force is, above all, a rejection of globalism in favor of local cultures and a revival of the nation-state.  So says Mark L. Movesian in a stimulating essay, quoted and linked after the jump.

He says that nationalism can be either beneficial or malign.  Which do you think it will be this time, both in the United States and in the other countries where nationalism is coming back with a vengeance?

[Read more…]