Constitutional Illiteracy is at Epidemic Proportions

I ran across this column yesterday in the Washington Post that was written by Anne Applebaum. Here’s a little background on Ms. Applebaum from Wikipedia:

Applebaum was born in Washington, D.C. Her parents are Harvey M. Applebaum, a partner in the Covington and Burling law firm, and Elizabeth (Bloom) Applebaum, of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Applebaum has stated that she was brought up in a “very reformed” Jewish family.[5] Her ancestors came to America from what is now Belarus.[6] She graduated from the Sidwell Friends School (1982). She earned a BA (summa cum laude) in history and literature at Yale University[7] (1986), where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. As a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics she earned a master’s degree in international relations (1987).[8] She studied at St Antony’s College, Oxford, before moving to Warsaw, Poland, in 1988 as a correspondent for The Economist.

Obviously an accomplished woman and seemingly well educated. With her top notch education and her life’s experience how is it possible that she is so ignorant when it comes to the U.S. Constitution? I surmise it’s because she is in fact well educated on the Constitution but that her education was based on bad information and/or propaganda.

The third paragraph is where the problem starts. Here it is:

Thanks to the quirks of our Constitution and the vagaries of our politics, the result is that all three branches of the U.S. government are dominated by minorities. In the White House, we have, for the second time in less than two decades, a president who did not win the popular vote. He was elected thanks to the electoral college, a system originally designed to block demagogues, but which no longer does. Electoral college delegates are not independent, as they once were; instead, they vote as their state party chairman decides. The effect is to skew the result.

The Electoral College system is not designed to block demagogues. Instead the system is designed to temper the popular vote and prevent corrupt foreign powers from meddling in the election. No electors can be from the Senate or House of Representatives and are directly elected by the voters in each state. She is correct in that the electors are no longer independent. That is the fault of corruption within our political parties that rigged the system to their advantage in all but two states (Nebraska and Maine are the only ones with independent electors). Originally electors were to be appointed by each state legislature in any manner they chose (that’s where the problem came in allowing political parties to change from appointment to direct election). If there is any change to be made to the Electoral College system it would be to return it to independence where electors have to vote in the manner that their district demands and not the mass population of the state. With the “winner-take-all” system small congressional districts are denied their voice because of the overwhelming populations in the major cities.

This next paragraph is just a gross misunderstanding of what the Senate is and who it is supposed to represent.

For many years now the Senate, our senior legislative body, has been grotesquely out of line, too. The 40 million people who live in California get the same two votes in the Senate as the 740,000 people of Alaska. The 20 million people of New York state get the same two votes as the 755,000 of North Dakota. A system created in the 18th century, originally designed to protect smaller states against the larger ones, now has the opposite effect. The inhabitants of rural America have a far louder voice in Congress than the inhabitants of urban America, well out of proportion to their numbers. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the confirmation of Supreme Court justices.

As originally designed the Senate is not supposed to represent the people (that’s the function of the House of Representatives) instead the Senate’s roll is to represent each state. This is the reason why there are only two senators from each state. Each state has an EQUAL voice in the government and is supposed to act as a more deliberative body that will slow down the passions of the people in order to prevent mob rule.  Senators were also supposed to be chosen by state legislatures and not directly by the people.  Ms. Applebaum, with her Yale education, surely must know this. How can someone be so ignorant of the role of the Senate?!?

Now we move on to the roll of the Supreme Court.

The minority-dominated Senate and the minority-elected president have now chosen Justice Kavanaugh. And, thanks to his appointment, our Supreme Court may well cease to reflect the views of the majority, too.

The Supreme Court is not supposed to reflect ANY views. They are supposed to interpret the law as passed by Congress and signed by the President. That’s why the judiciary is independent and appointed for life. They can remove themselves from public opinion and decide disputes based on the law and not on the opinion of the majority of the people. The judiciary, as a branch of government, was also originally viewed as the weakest branch of the three. The reason it was seen as the weakest is because the judiciary had no power to pass legislation nor any power to spend money. They were only to judge the application of the laws. Only in modern times did the court obtain extraordinary power and that’s why political groups that can’t get what they want through legislation turn to the courts to try to bend precedent in their direction.

Tyranny of the majority was a definite concern and it is why the founders of the nation made our form of government a republic and NOT a democracy. A republic was thought to take a more cool and calm approach to government and less susceptible to the whims of the majority.

When they were writing it, the authors of our Constitution were worried about the tyranny of the majority, not the tyranny of a minority. But two centuries after the fact, they have achieved the opposite effect. If the coming midterm elections do not reverse at least one and preferably both of the houses of Congress, that minority will have two years to entrench its power further, through gerrymandering, voter registration laws, court appointments, even changes to electoral law. And then all bets are off as to whether minority rule can ever be reversed.

What Ms. Applebaum says in the paragraph above is utter nonsense. If anything, the last election included, shows the system is still working as designed. If we didn’t have the electoral college system in place the election would have been decided by the 100 largest counties in the nation (which include most of the major cities). Most of the rest of the country would have been totally ignored and disenfranchised.

There are 3,100 counties in the United States. Hillary Clinton won only 500 to President Trump’s 2,600.  In my opinion, if the Electoral College didn’t abide by state’s winner-take-all electoral votes system, Hillary Clinton’s loss would have been massive. President Trump was extremely lucky to have pulled off the win that he did given that more people are moving to cities than rural areas.

It’s fine to feel like a loser when you’ve lost. But it’s not okay for someone, who is supposed to be highly educated, to spread such drivel.

Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post

 

I think Twitter has tweeted itself out… at least for me.

I joined Twitter back in May of 2007 under the handle @kevinb66. One year later I created the handle @kevinbae and used that handle regularly so I could have my name before some other Kevin Bae took it. This was back when news on technology was just starting to go mainstream and all the tech columnists and pundits that I would read or listen to joined. It was a great way to get the latest on all the tech things they were covering. A nice one stop shop.

Over the years, though, either the columnists and pundits moved on to other careers, stopped using the service, or started tweeting things I just didn’t care about. So, slowly, one by one I stopped following them until last week I reached the all time low of following one single tech columnist and therefore effectively stopped using Twitter.

Twitter, and most other social networking sites, have become useless echo  chambers. People are retweeting and discussing the same tweets and bullshit. There is nothing interesting out there anymore. The technology writers of today lack a certain depth of knowledge that makes their writing shallow and pretty uninformed. I don’t want to read the opinions of anyone who can’t see technology that existed prior to their birth. Home computers have been around since the late 1970’s and didn’t start with the launch of the iPhone.

The irony about this blog post is that it will get tweeted out to all my 48 followers (less my own few dormant accounts that follow me). It’s like whispering next to the speaker stacks at an AC/DC concert. No one will hear and no one cares and the rest of the crowd is distracted by the flashing lights and the loud music anyway.

President Trump is more correct than the media on Hurricane Maria death toll.

President Trump is more correct than the media on Hurricane Maria death toll. President Trump tweeted that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was between 6 and 18 when he left the island and the media is now touting that the true number of dead is about 3,000. Where did this giant number come from and which number is correct? According to the Washington Post, both President Trump and the new reported number are correct. How?

Direct deaths cause by the hurricane was set at 64 for the better part of the past year. President Trump could be correct in his tweet that the number of dead was 18 max when he left.

For much of the past year, the government had formally acknowledged just 64 deaths from the hurricane, which ravaged much of the territory and destroyed critical infrastructure.

The government of Puerto Rico, not being satisfied with the death count, commissioned a study to see how many people may have died INDIRECTLY from the aftermath of the hurricane. The phrase the media is using is “2,975 excess deaths” in the 6 months after the hurricane hit.

Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico led to a spike in mortality across the U.S. territory, with an estimated 2,975 excess deaths in the six months after the storm made landfall in September 2017, according to a sweeping report from George Washington University released Tuesday.

The government of Puerto Rico on Tuesday embraced the GWU estimate as the official death toll, ranking Maria among the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

So the magic number of 3,000 or more accurately 2,975, is an entirely made up number. It’s merely an estimate of the number of people that “may have” died as a result of complications or lack of access to medicine or some other cause that could possibly be related to the hurricane.

The GWU report has a limitation: It does not specify how people died. It is a statistical study based on death records and expected mortality rates. The researchers said they hope to conduct a more detailed investigation in the future.

“We can come up with a hundred different hypotheses,” said Lynn Goldman, dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health. She offered as an example the long-term lack of electricity, which prevented the use of some medical devices. “What we don’t have is the ability today to tell you these are the factors that caused this.”

In essence, President Trump is more correct than the media. 18 is a lot closer to 64 than 3,000. Fake news?

Read more in the Washington Post

Maybe this is why Trump calls CNN “fake news”.

Maybe this is why Trump calls CNN fake news. In this story, that was linked on the home page of CNN’s web site, CNN reports that, “Most Think Trump Will Lose in 2020”.  In the video on the web site they never bother to mention that the poll they’re referencing was taken in May of 2018. Today is August 16, 2018.

Is it real news or fake news to report on a poll taken in May and pass it off as if it is current? Opinions change rapidly and it leaves me wondering if there was a more current poll that shows the opposite.

See it for yourself at CNN

Everyone is a victim. Some Asians say Crazy Rich Asians isn’t Asian enough.

Everyone is a victim. Some Asians say Crazy Rich Asians isn’t Asian enough. This continues to crack me up. While American Asians are all gaga over a movie with all Asians the other Asians in Asia (I’m trying to use the word Asian as many times as possible so I can have a blog post that is mostly Asian) are saying that the movie smacks of “Chinese privilege” and that brown Asians (the oppressed Asians) are being represented in a racist way.

“Part of the way that this movie is being sold to everyone is as this big win for diversity, as this representative juggernaut, as this great Asian hope,” said Sangeetha Thanapal, a Singaporean Indian writer and activist who is researching a doctoral dissertation on the concept of Chinese privilege in Singapore.

“I think that’s really problematic because if you’re going to sell yourself as that, then you bloody better actually have actual representation” of Singaporean minorities, she said.

And these judgments by Asians in Asia are being made before they’ve even seen the film. They are pre- judging based on the movie’s trailer.

“Mind you, I’m happy that there are non-East Asian actors involved in major roles,” said Ng Yi-Sheng, an author and gay rights activist whose debut poetry collection won the 2008 Singapore Literature Prize.

“But judging from the trailers, the browner Asian characters are predominantly guards and domestic workers and drivers,” Mr. Ng said in an email. “That’s kind of oppressive, don’t you think?”

When will the day come when we finally move past all this crap? Hopefully as ethnicities integrate more and more across the globe that we will realize that we need to treat people as people. There really are no races. Discrimination is human nature. We all do it and not all discrimination has malice.

At the very least watch the damn movie before criticizing it’s content. Damn it! My last two paragraphs didn’t use the word Asian at all until this very sentence. Maybe I was unable to attain my goal because I’m only half Asian. If I was full Asian I would have tried much harder. It’s a constant internal battle I have. My Asian side is in constant war with my non Asian side.

From the New York Times

Switching to the Brave Browser

There’s a new web browser in town and it’s name is Brave. I discovered this relatively new web browser listening to some podcasts and decided to try it out. It’s fantastic. It’s light, it’s fast, and it blocks ads and tracking natively. The picture shows how many trackers and ads that were blocked just from the normal sites I visit.

Watch this video and give it a try.

It’s about time something provided some competition to Google’s Chrome.

US media outlets depend on our national ADD when reporting on President Trump

US media outlets depend on our national ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder in case you didn’t know) when reporting on President Trump. They are counting on the fact that few of us will watch the entirety of any of President Trump’s press conferences. How do I know this? Because I watch the press conferences and then read the reporting. Before I go any further take the time to watch the Trump/Putin press conference in Helsinki. It’s a little over 45 minutes but at least you’ll see and hear it for yourself.

There was nothing new in this press conference other than President Trump citing the “Pakistani gentlemen” that were working for Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I haven’t seen that put forward in the press and it was still largely ignored by most media reporting on the press conference. There was a brief mention of it in the Washington Post’s editorial but it was poo pooed as a right wing conspiracy theory.

Here are the editorial headlines that do not describe what I saw.

Chicago Tribune: Trump dances to Putin choreography

The Wall Street Journal: The Trump First Doctrine

The New York Times: Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America?

The Washington Post: Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly.

The editorials contain some truth and some accurate quotes but they are not entirely in context nor do any of them really convey the truth of the press conference. They are painting  a picture of a President that is under the thumb and controlled by Russia when in reality this was Trump being Trump. Self promoting and bombastic while also poking his opponents in the eye.

Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for liberty, freedom of association, and freedom of speech

If President Trump was good for anything he was good for placing Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Without that appointment the decision today would not have happened and labor unions would have been able to continue to strong arm people into supporting the unions’ political causes.

This one decision (and the slashing of regulations across the board) makes me glad that Trump was elected President over Hillary Clinton. A President Clinton would have turned the Supreme Court further into making law where it doesn’t exist instead of applying the laws as written.

The confiscation of one person’s rights to serve another is never justified.

The anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, which funded the challenge, predicted the ruling would free more than 5 million public employees from supporting their unions.

For the unions, which traditionally support Democrats, the ruling will mean an immediate loss of some funding and a gradual erosion in their membership. Union officials fear that an unknown number of employees will quit paying dues if doing so is entirely optional.

The ruling is likely to have a political impact in many states where these unions have been strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

Read more from the LA Times.