Flashback: For Your Use When “Resistance” Relatives Attack At Thanksgiving Dinner

It all began here. How quickly we forget—or how quickly they hope we’ll  forget.

In two December 20, 2016 posts, “The Electoral College’s Day Of  Reckoning I and II,” Ethics Alarms covered the first attack on American democracy in what came to called here the “2016 post-election Ethics Train Wreck.” This has culminated in the current House Democrats’ impeachment fiasco. Make no mistake: it is a single plot, one that I never suspected would have continued this long, and caused as much damage to the nation as it has.

When your relatives start spouting talking points that they have  neither researched, thought critically about nor understand, consider reminding them where it all started, and who has really been responsible for bringing the United States of America to this sorry and thoroughly avoidable place. Most of the villains of the coup attempts to come outed themselves here: Democrats, the news media, academics, Hollywood, professionals, especially lawyers. Most had outed themselves earlier, of course, but still had plausible deniability. Not after this.

As you can see, they had decided, way back in 2016, right after the election after thaye had wept, and cursed, and rended their garments, that because they didn’t want Donald Trump to be President, they had a right to prevent him from taking office, and if that failed, then to interfere with his right to fulfill the duties of the office until they could come up with some way remove him. This is where it began, and this is what has been going on ever since.

Your resistance family members and friends have been been responsible because they enabled this. Don’t let them get away with it.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations

After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.

Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single  electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California.  Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.

The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his  intention  not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.

George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.

Three Ethics Observations on one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history:

1. Ironically, the Electoral College functioned exactly the way the Founders intended it to, and rescued the nation from a regional candidate. Trump won the nation, and Hillary was elected Queen of California. The country wanted radical change, while the huddled socialists, crypto-Marxists, radical college students, illegal immigration fans and nanny state addicts were happy with things as they are.

California is a complete outlier, virtually a one-party state. As an analysis by Investor’s Business Daily points out, between 2008 and 2016, the number of Californians who registered as Democrats increased  by 1.1 million, while the number of registered Republicans dropped by almost 400,000. Republicans in the state stayed away from the polling places because they had nobody to vote for in many places. Two Democrats, and no Republican, were on the ballot to replace Senator Barbara Boxer. Nor were there Republicans on the ballots for House seats in nine of California’s congressional districts. At the state level, six districts had no Republicans running for the state senate, and 16 districts had no Republicans running for state assembly seats:

Such Republicans as there were knew Clinton was going to win the state  and its 55 electoral votes,  so there was little motivation to cast a ballot.Clinton was getting all 55 votes, no matter what. Thus Trump received 11% fewer California votes than John McCain did in 2008, as  the number of registered Democrats in the state climbed by 13% since then. If California had voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5% wins — Clinton and Trump would have ended up in a virtual popular vote tie. Laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both efforts.

If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump won the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes.  The Founders installed a system that favors a candidate with broad-based appeal over all the diverse regions and cultures of a large nation, and that isn’t going to be easily dominated by a large voting bloc that is atypical of the rest of the population—like California in 2016.

2. Writer Daniel Brezenoff, the originator of the Change.Org  Electoral College Petition , appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to collect his Andy Warhol Fifteen Minutes of Fame chip. He repeated his undemocratic logic for overturning the election. Carlson accused Brezenoff of “resorting to less democratic means, putting the decision in the hands of even fewer people,” to which Brezenoff, who initially filed his petition using a fake name, responded, “That’s right, to protect the Constitution from an unfit President!”

The answer is smoking gun evidence of what was really afoot here.  Brezenoff thought Trump was unfit,just as I thought Trump was unfit, but the election showed that millions of citizens felt differently. We can’t ethically, logically, fairly, reasonably and Constitutionally come back after the election and say that a handful of not-especially-qualified electors are going to reverse the election result because our view is the right one.

We lost. The fact that we don’t like the result and are positive the winners just don’t understand is not sufficient to justify what the Democrats and progressives like Brezenoff were advocating.

3. It is disturbing and shocking—maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am— that no prominent Democratic leader publicly condemned the organized efforts to turn electors faithless. This, as much as anything else, validates my late decision  that the Democrats were too corrupt and untrustworthy to get my vote. Silence, as the legal maxim goes, implies consent, and the petitioners, historical frauds, harassers and intimidators all did their worst on behalf of the Democratic Party. Nothing but harm could come to the party and its member progressives from such an arrogant, defiant and  futile scheme, and nothing but further division could have come from a success, which basic civic literacy should have informed party leaders was impossible. Nonetheless, they said nothing–Obama, Michelle, Pelosi, Reid, Shumer, the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, the President. Nothing.

Was it cowardice, and the fear of tempting the rabid, angry Left from coming after them, mouths foaming? Or was it that they were willing to benefit from a Hail Mary pass, even one that destabilized the government and society? Bernie Sanders was especially cynical, telling interviewers before yesterday that he thought the Electoral College was beneficial, then calling for its elimination after the voting was over.

The worst, of course, was Hillary Clinton. Had integrity meant anything to her (we know it never has) she would have known that her unequivocal condemnation of Donald Trump for suggesting that he might not “accept the results” if he lost the election mandated a “Stop this nonsense now” message to her traumatized and infantile supporters (see photo above). She couldn’t mount the guts and principle to do it. A miniscule-to-the-vanishing-point chance that somehow, through some combination of luck and cosmic intervention, an elector uprising would give her the power she craves was sufficient to inspire Hillary to even surpass the hypocrisy she had displayed by joining in Jill Stein’s ridiculous recount efforts.

It was said of Hubert Humphrey that in his passion to attain the Presidency, he proved himself unworthy of it. Hillary Clinton has made Hubert Humphrey look wonderful in retrospect.

To be fair, so has Donald Trump.

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools

The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month (With Bonus Points Because Saying Something This Gallactically Stupid On TV Makes Other People Dumber When They Are Watching To Learn Something): MSNBC’s Chris Hayes

“The weirdest thing about the Electoral College is the fact that if it weren’t specifically in the Constitution for the presidency, it would be unconstitutional.” 

MSNBC host Chris Hayes. Yes, he really said this. He really did.

Res ipsa loquitur. I suppose I won’t be excessively stating the obvious to again note, for the second time today, that when a pundit utters something this idiotic,  no one should care what he thinks about anything else.

Oh, one more thing. Imagine the mockery on Hayes’s own network if President Trump said this.

The commentary around the web on Hayes’ revelation has been hilarious, and I was tempted to re-publish some of the best here, but I’m curious to see what the Ethics Alarms regulars will come up with.

Don’t let me down.

The Right To Be Unethical: The 10th Circuit Allows “Faithless Electors”

This is professor Larry Lessig. Is it unfair of me to believe that this particular pose is signature significance for a pompous ass? Nobody in the history of photography who wasn’t pompous  posed this way, Lessig has several pictures like this.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Denver ruled 2-1 this week that the Electoral College system established by Article II and the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows Presidential electors to vote against the candidate the popular vote in their state commits them to vote for. In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled  that primary candidates for party electors can be required to pledge to support the party’s candidate, but according to this decision, that pledge is not enforceable.

The 10th Circuit’s decision was a victory for Michael Baca, a Colorado elector who in 2016 cast his vote for John Kasich, then governor of Ohio, even though state law at the time required him to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote, who was Hillary Clinton. Baca said his intention was to persuade enough members of the electoral college to cast votes for Republicans other than Donald Trump in an effort to deny Trump a victory.

Ooh, good plan! One way to avoid this problem is for states to make sure their electors aren’t arrogant, undemocratic whack-jobs.

The state removed Baca as an elector and canceled his vote, causing two other electors to abandon their plans to vote for Kasich. All three joined the lawsuit against the Colorado secretary of state’s office, but the 10th Circuit found only Baca had standing to sue.

It seems that the decision has strong Constitutional law behind it. Baca v. Colorado Dep’t of State said in part, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

Timothy Egan’s spectacularly dishonest op-ed for the Times, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred,” was one more conservative- and Trump-bashing exercise disguised as a history lesson, albeit for Americans who know little about history and foolishly assume that they can trust pundits like Egan to enlighten them. Of course, all such exercises in time-traveling appeals to authority are inherently dishonest. 18th century minds, even those as sharp and creative as the Founders possessed, would go into shock at most of what they saw today if somehow provided the opportunity, and would take a while to understand why things have evolved as they have.

Frequent commenter JutGory sat down and treated Ethics Alarms readers with an analysis of developments the Founders would have had trouble with without indulging in the sort of cherry-picking and distortion Egan did to pander to the Times’ progressive readership. The result of what Jut called his “retro-prognostications” is a genuinely educational post, and a distinguished Comment of the Day.

Here it is:

If we are doing retro-prognostications, I bet I could do better:

Disclaimer: the Founders would probably be a bit mystified at the technological advances in general.

They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

They would probably be surprised at how much power the Supreme Court (the weakest branch) wields. Of course it only wields that much power because the other branches have gotten more powerful. To wit:

They would be surprised by the 16th Amendment (income tax), as it is a direct tax of the individual by the Federal Government, but okay (“Yay, Amendment process).

Of course, money is power, so, with more tax money comes more power.

They would be completely baffled by the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators). That opens the Senate up to national influences, instead of influence from a small group of state legislators. That was kind of the whole point of the Senate: to represent the States, not its citizens.

But, you can’t pass a farm subsidy bill if Senators answer to their legislatures.

Can’t get universal healthcare if Senators stand in the way.

But, you change the Senate selection process, you get popular candidates, supported by national appeal and no specific understanding of the needs of the State (Hello, Al Franken!)

The power grab of the Commerce Clause would puzzle them. Continue reading

Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 5/23/2019: Here, There, And Everywhere, With Hugs

Good morning…

Reflections: In D.C., today is being treated like a Friday, as it is assumed that everyone is taking off tomorrow for an extended 4-day weekend. It is irrelevant to ProEthics since we don’t take vacations, and ethics never sleeps, but impactful to Ethics Alarms, which means that I will be blogging for a handful of stalwarts—thank you all—and otherwise talking to myself.

This has me already thinking about Memorial Day, which in turn causes me to think about my father, who will be spending the holiday, now and forever, with my mother at Arlington National Cemetery. Being a World War II veteran was second only to being a father and husband in my father’s view of his life’s priorities. In his final years, he often drove down to the Mall and the World War II Memorial, wearing his vest with his medals, and served as kind of a volunteer exhibit himself, a real, live Word War II veteran for visitors, especially students and your tourist, to take photos with and interview. Many of his encounters that began with, “Excuse me, are you a real soldier from the war?” ended with him being hugged and even getting gifts. Now I regret I never accompanied him in some of those weekly excursions into old memories and personal pride. I only found out about them after his death in 2009.

A about a week after my dad died, I was at my parent’s condo with my mother. A knock on the door brought another resident of Fairlington South ( an Arlington, VA development converted from Army barracks during World War II) into the room. He was an active Vietnam vet, about my age, who had engaged my father to speak to his veterans’ group a few times, and who obviously admired Dad a great deal. He entered cheerily and asked, “Where’s Jack?” When I told him that Dad had died, the expression on his face melted into abject shock and grief so quickly and vividly that the image haunts me to this day.

I don’t think I fully appreciated how much my father was respected and loved by even casual acquaintances who knew about his service and character until that moment.

1. Theory: If you can’t win under the rules, change the rules. Nevada has joined the states attempting to by-pass the Constitution with the scheme of directing its electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote regardless of which candidate the state’s residents favored. I think that means 15 states, all with Democratric Party-dominated legislatures, are trying this stunt so far in frustration over Al Gore and Hillary Clinton joining Andrew Jackson, Samuel Tilden and Grover Cleveland on the list of Presidential candidates defeated by the Electoral College.

This is grandstanding: the device is unconstitutional on its face, and sinister mischief: the idea is to pander to civic ignorance (“Of course the popular vote winner should become President!” is an easy call if you don’t know anything about history or why the Electoral College was installed) and almost guarantees a Constitutional crisis and maybe violence in the streets the next time a Democrat loses despite a popular vote edge. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)

“In 2016, nearly three million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump – but Trump took the presidency. That’s not exactly the sign of a healthy democracy. Democracy hangs on the idea that whoever gets the most votes wins.”

—-Senator Elizabeth Warren, dumbing down democracy to a partisan audience at the Center for American Progress ‘Ideas Conference’ 

No U.S. election proved the foresight of the Founders and their Electoral College innovation more clearly than the 2016 edition. A single state, California, culturally estranged from the majority of the nation in dramatic, perplexing, even bizarre ways, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton by more than 4 million votes. This single, virtually one-party state, under a pure popular vote system, would have overcome the will of the rest of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, which narrowly favored Republican Donald Trump by more than a million votes. This was exactly the kind of scenario the Electoral College was devised to avoid—indeed, devised in order to have a country at all. The smaller states, then as now culturally distinct from the more populous states and fearing a permanent fate of being dictated to by their larger cousins, insisted on such devices as the U.S. Senate, where all states had equal power, and the Electoral College, which prevented an,overwhelming mob of single-minded voters in one region dominating the choice of a national leader in perpetuity.

There are other benefits of the device as well. The Electoral College tends to handicap single issue candidates and radical ones. It requires that contenders for national leadership appeal to all regions, or at least not to just a powerful few. Narrow issue, increasingly extreme parties as Warren’s Democrats have become are definitely penalized by the Founders’ system, which is why contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination are already taking aim at it. What the Electoral College should be doing is to force Democrats to become more inclusive, less divisive, and rational. Instead, they are already working to de-legitimatize the results of the next election, should it not go their way. Continue reading

Nate Silver Explains How Not Only Does “Bias Make You Stupid,” It Makes Others Stupid Too.

natesilverEthics Alarms covered some of this topic years ago in a post about how the news media’s unceasing and uncritical fawning over Barack Obama made him a less effective, indeed a bad, President. (If someone can find the link, I’ll post it. I don’t have the energy this morning.) Now polling and stat guru Nate Silver has written an intriguing analysis of the 2016 election that argues that liberal news media bias—you know, that thing that doesn’t exist—perversely helped elect President Trump. In an earlier January essay, Silver wrote,

National journalists usually interpreted conflicting and contradictory information as confirming their prior belief that Clinton would win. The most obvious error, given that Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, is that they frequently mistook Clinton’s weakness in the Electoral College for being a strength. They also focused extensively on Clinton’s potential gains with Hispanic voters, but less on indications of a decline in African-American turnout. At moments when the polls showed the race tightening, meanwhile, reporters frequently focused on other factors, such as early voting and Democrats’ supposedly superior turnout operation, as reasons that Clinton was all but assured of victory.

In his most recent article, Silver explains… Continue reading