Electoral College confusions | National Popular Vote Compact

Times Have Changed
Times Have Changed

Lawrence Lessig on why the Electoral College should be reformed or eliminated:

Yet this debate is much more interesting—and important—than a typical left/right fight. For the college, as it is, gives no one what they should want. It certainly does not give us what the Framers expected. And if we’re going to reform what everyone should recognize as a broken institution, we need strategies beyond amending the Constitution. (Any amendment from Congress would require 2/3ds of Congress to support it, and then 38 states to ratify it. That’s not even conceivable in the current political climate.)

The Electoral College today is defined by a choice that all but two states have made to allocate their electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state. If a candidate gets even a single vote more than the others, he or she gets all of the Electoral College votes in that state. 

This is the “winner-take-all” system. And the consequence of winner-take-all is that candidates for president focus their campaigns exclusively on the so-called “battleground states.” In 2016, 99 percent of campaign spending was in just 14 states — states representing 35 percent of America, and an older and whiter America.

The most plausible alternative to the Electoral College as it is is the National Popular Vote Compact. If states representing the equivalent of 270 electoral college votes commit to this plan, then those states would select electors committed to the winner of the national popular vote — regardless of who wins in the state. This change could happen without an amendment to the Constitution. It is certainly constitutional under the framers’ design.

The advantage of this alternative is that it would end the exclusive hold that the battleground states have on our presidential elections, and hence, on the president. Candidates would have an interest in getting votes from wherever they could get them. That might be New York or Texas (states that now just don’t matter). It might be Missouri or Kansas. The National Popular Vote Compact would make every vote in America count equally — and thus end the possibility that a president would be selected by a minority of American voters.

(click here to continue reading Electoral College confusions | TheHill.)

It is time to ring some changes…

The Change In Your Pocket Won t Buy You A Dream
The Change In Your Pocket Won’t Buy You A Dream

From their website:


The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Explanation  It has been enacted into law in 12 states with 172 electoral votes (CA, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). Map showing status in states.  The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 98 more electoral votes.  It has passed at least one house in 11 additional states with 89 electoral votes (AR, AZ, CO, DE, ME, MI, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR)  and has been approved unanimously by committee votes in two additional states with 26 electoral votes (GA, MO).

The bill has recently been passed by a 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57–4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, 34-23 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House, and 26-16 in the New Mexico Senate.

State winner-take-all statutes adversely affect governance. “Battleground” states receive 7% more federal grants than “spectator” states, twice as many presidential disaster declarations, more Superfund enforcement exemptions, and more No Child Left Behind law exemptions.

Also, because of state winner-take-all statutes, five of our 45 Presidents have come into office without having won the most popular votes nationwide.  The 2000 and 2016 elections are the most recent examples of elections in which a second-place candidate won the White House.  Near-misses are also common under the current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes.  A shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3,000,000 votes. 

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact would not take effect until enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). Under the compact, the national popular vote winner would be the candidate who received the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) on Election Day. When the Electoral College meets in mid-December, the national popular vote winner would receive all of the electoral votes of the enacting states.

The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.



(click here to continue reading National Popular Vote.)

It’s not just Trump — California voters can thank themselves for the state’s relevancy in this November’s midterm election

Can't Remember What I Was Thinking Of

LA Times reports some good news:

Fed up, and urged on by do-gooder organizations like Common Cause, California voters in 2008 passed Proposition 11, taking redistricting away from lawmakers and handing responsibility for drawing legislative boundaries to an independent citizens commission.
Two years later, voters passed Proposition 20, which gave the commission power to draw the state’s congressional lines as well.

But injecting competition into California’s moribund House races has been the rare election reform that has worked just as reformers said it would.

“I’m proud of it,” said Kathay Feng, a longtime champion of more politically representative districts who was instrumental in passing the redistricting measure as head of California Common Cause. She was especially proud, she said, of the 14 commissioners who set aside partisanship and ignored the personal interests of incumbent lawmakers in drawing new lines that stood up to repeated legal challenges.

California has even become a model for other states, said Feng, who also oversees redistricting reform efforts nationwide for Common Cause, a political watchdog group.

Voters in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah will consider ballot measures in November that would take redistricting away from self-interested lawmakers and place it in the hands of an independent commission. Earlier this year, Ohio voters passed a similar proposal.

(click here to continue reading It’s not just Trump — California voters can thank themselves for the state’s relevancy in this November’s midterm election.)

Hmm. Gerrymandering is certainly a foot on the neck of true democracy, especially as practiced by modern political operatives. We as a nation would be well served if more states removed the ability of politicians to create their own districts.

Quick Hitters – November 16th, 2015 Edition

Gentle Wandering Ways
Gentle Wandering Ways…

Apologies if you are one of the few brave and foolhardy souls who still subscribe to my daily newsletter. Your email contained a bunch of gobbledygook links today. Some background: before Twitter and Facebook, there was a social URL-sharing network called Delicious. Users of Delicious shared snippets from webpages, which is sort of how I still use Twitter1

Delicious was, and still remains, integrated with Google’s long neglected RSS engine, Feedburner. In other words, if you subscribe to my email newsletter, or use my blog’s RSS feed, you see Delicious links, Flickr images as well as occasional actual blog posts like this one merged together. But2 yesterday I started using a new RSS reading app. NetNewsWire has been my RSS reading app of choice since 2002, but it is feeling increasingly neglected, without much integration into the web services of 2015, so I purchased a competitor, Reeder, and lo-and-behold, posting directly to Delicious is an option! If I can press a button and post to Delicious, I’ll use the feature more frequently. With NetNewsWire, posting to Delicious meant logging in the site, copying and pasting the URL, copying and pasting the snippet, adding tags – about the same amount of effort would yield an actual blog post. With Reeder, I just press a button, and if I want, add tags. Much simpler. Except as I discovered this morning, the Delicious post gets mangled somewhere between Feedburner and Reeder. Basically, the URL is not properly formatted and looks like

The%20Great%20Controversy%3A%20Ben%20Carson%2C%20 Ellen%20G.%20White%2C%20and%20Seventh-day%20Adventism  [del.icio.us] Posted: 16 Nov 2015 12:33 PM … [del.icio.us]

Reeder Fail

Reeder Fail

Not acceptable. Oh well.

Here are the five snippets I wanted to post, but didn’t have the stamina nor time to annote/respond to. One snippet I did manage to later turn into a blog post, but I’m including it here anyway …



The Great Controversy: Ben Carson, Ellen G. White, and Seventh-day Adventism

Ben Carson has famously said that a Muslim who wishes to become president of the United States must “reject the tenets of Islam.”

But what about members of his own church — The Seventh-day Adventist church? Must they reject its doctrines in order to become president?

The SDA church was co-founded by Ellen G. White, who was its original leader and prophet. She is to Adventists what Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Muhammad are to Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Muslims, respectively (not respectfully). And her book, The Great Controversy, corresponds to Science and Health, the Book of Mormon, and the Quran. And it fully deserves to be among them, as one of the the worst books ever written.

Someone should ask Dr. Carson if he believes in Ellen White’s prophecy in The Great Controversy with regard to the “big role” that the United States will play. Specifically, is the United States the two-horned beast that speaks like a lion of Revelation 13:11?

If so, he should renounce that belief (along with the rest of White’s “prophecy”) before anyone should consider voting for him for president.

(click here to continue reading Dwindling In Unbelief: The Great Controversy: Ben Carson, Ellen G. White, and Seventh-day Adventism.)


Björk on Iceland: ‘We don’t go to church, we go for a walk’ Björk used to walk across the tundra singing at the top of her lungs. John Grant left America for its rocky grandeur and Sigur Rós’s music captures its isolation. What is it about the Icelandic landscape that hypnotises artists?

(click here to continue reading Björk on Iceland: ‘We don’t go to church, we go for a walk’ | Music | The Guardian.)


Cornel West tears into hypocritical “sister Clinton” while filling in for Bernie Sanders at an Iowa BBQ “Democratic socialism isn’t some kind of alien element. It’s organic and indigenous in the history of this nation.”

West turned to Sanders’ main opponent for the Democratic ticket, claiming that “we have to be honest about our dear sister Hillary Clinton — when it comes to my gay brothers and my lesbian sisters, one year, she says ‘marriage is just male and female.’ A few years later, she says she’s ‘evolved.’ I say, ‘I’m open to evolution.’

“But there’s certain issues that should cut so deep,” he concluded, “that you don’t need to be a thermometer — you can be a thermostat!”

(click here to continue reading Cornel West tears into hypocritical “sister Clinton” while filling in for Bernie Sanders at an Iowa BBQ – Salon.com.)


The Velvet Underground – see the video for Some Kinda Love (live) The new Complete Matrix Tapes box set is a brilliant insight into one of rock’s greatest bands – and we’ve got this track from the set

This Friday sees the release of The Complete Matrix Tapes, bringing together all the recordings made of the Velvet Underground at the San Francisco venue on 26 and 27 November 1969. Heard in their entirety, the recordings are revelatory – you get to hear wildly different versions of the same songs, Lou Reed chatting and joking with his audience, and a rock band exploring the limits of their performance – right up to a 38-minute version of Sister Ray.

While most of the 42 tracks on the four-disc box have been heard before, nine are exclusives. What’s more, the tracks previously heard on The Bootleg Series, Vol 1: The Quine Tapes were in nothing like this level of fidelity. In a world of box sets packed with unnecessary fillers, this one is anything but.

(click here to continue reading The Velvet Underground – see the video for Some Kinda Love (live) | Music | The Guardian.)


Ryan Gosling confirms role in Blade Runner sequel

The actor will star alongside Harrison Ford in the sequel to the sci-fi classic

he offered this fairly long-winded account of where Deckard has been living following the events of the original film:

We decided to start the film off with the original starting block of the original film. We always loved the idea of a dystopian universe, and we start off at what I describe as a ‘factory farm’ – what would be a flat land with farming. Wyoming. Flat, not rolling – you can see for 20 miles. No fences, just plowed, dry dirt. Turn around and you see a massive tree, just dead, but the tree is being supported and kept alive by wires that are holding the tree up. It’s a bit like Grapes of Wrath, there’s dust, and the tree is still standing. By that tree is a traditional, Grapes of Wrath-type white cottage with a porch. Behind it at a distance of two miles, in the twilight, is this massive combine harvester that’s fertilizing this ground. You’ve got 16 Klieg lights on the front, and this combine is four times the size of this cottage. And now a spinner [a flying car] comes flying in, creating dust. Of course, traditionally chased by a dog that barks, the doors open, a guy gets out and there you’ve got Rick Deckard. He walks in the cottage, opens the door, sits down, smells stew, sits down and waits for the guy to pull up to the house to arrive. The guy’s seen him, so the guy pulls the combine behind the cottage and it towers three stories above it, and the man climbs down from a ladder – a big man. He steps onto the balcony and he goes to Harrison’s side. The cottage actually [creaks]; this guy’s got to be 350 pounds. I’m not going to say anything else – you’ll have to go see the movie.

(click here to continue reading Ryan Gosling confirms role in Blade Runner sequel | Consequence of Sound.)

  1. if you follow me, and why shouldn’t you, you’ll notice the majority of my my tweets are links to news and other articles []
  2. and you knew this was coming, right? []

Biden phones winner of memorable Coralville election

Promised For Tuesday
Promised For Tuesday

Sometimes that Koch dollar doesn’t spend as easily as expected. As a follow up to a previous post, turns out Coralville successfully tuned out the Koch agenda…

In a contest that attracted the attention of Vice President Joe Biden and spending by the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity, Coralville’s three incumbent candidates are staying for another term.

Unofficial results Tuesday showed John Lundell winning the mayoral contest and Tom Gill, Bill Hoeft and Laurie Goodrich winning seats on the council in an election with record-breaking turnout.

Shortly after Lundell’s victory became apparent, the City Council member said, he received a surprise phone call from Biden.

“He indicated that he was very proud of our city, that we took on the Koch brothers and successfully beat them by such a huge margin,” Lundell said. “That was another aspect of this election that was unanticipated, that after the polls closed that I’d be speaking to the vice president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Biden phones winner of memorable Coralville election | The Des Moines Register | desmoinesregister.com.)

Election 2012

Barack Obama is way too far to the right to be my ideal candidate, yet in America’s binary system, there is no way I’d vote for anyone else. Mitt Romney is a travesty, and his sort of politician is anathema to me. When I was 22, I might have voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein, but since the Electoral College matters in a way it shouldn’t – in an ideal world – I’ll cast my vote tomorrow for Barack Obama. 

Please  Vote
Please Vote


Congratulations to Barack Obama
Congratulations to Barack Obama

No electioneering beyond this point
No electioneering beyond this point

Talk About Wasting Money
Talk About Wasting Money

Thank you for voting
Thank you for voting

Thank You For Voting 2011 HipstaPrint
Thank You For Voting 2011 HipstaPrint

Obama palooza
Obama palooza

Dewey Defeats Truman
Dewey Defeats Truman

We Will Vote
We Will Vote

Let Amercia go in the crapper - Vote Mitt
Let Amercia go in the crapper – Vote Mitt

Early voting ballot receipt
Early voting ballot receipt

IBEW Local 134 - polling location
IBEW Local 134 – polling location

Tomorrow We Vote
Tomorrow We Vote

Rolls Royce dealer, Chicago
Rolls Royce dealer, Chicago

Bedtime Story - drawing by Barry Blitt
Bedtime Story – drawing by Barry Blitt

I Think I'll Wait For The Movies
I Think I’ll Wait For The Movies

Old White Men For Obama
Old White Men For Obama

No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts
No Corporate Welfare for The Ricketts

Fist Bumps
Fist Bumps

Obama 2008 - Pilsen Paletero
Obama 2008 – Pilsen Paletero

Obama for America Illinois Headquarters
Obama for America Illinois Headquarters

IRS May Make Political Groups Pay Dearly for Keeping Donors Secret

Get What You Deserve
Get What You Deserve

Wow! That would be great news. Not Thelonious Monk dancing (YouTube) great, but close…

For years, the IRS has done little or nothing to check the rise of overtly political groups that claim a special tax-exempt status in order to funnel secret money into election-related advertising.

But in a sign that the agency may be waking from its slumber, the IRS has sent detailed questionnaires to several Tea Party organizations — and possibly other political groups — to determine if they truly qualify for the 501(c)(4) designation intended for groups whose exclusive purpose is to promote social welfare.

Should any group currently calling itself a 501(c)(4) have its designation denied or revoked, tax experts said the consequences could be severe, including fines of 35 percent or more of the money they raised in secret.

And the groups might have to make donors’ names public.

The tax code requires 501(c)(4) groups to be operated “exclusively” for social welfare purposes — which does not include intervention in political campaigns. The IRS has allowed the groups to engage in political activity as long as it was not their primary purpose. But for many of these groups, it’s hard to see what other purpose they could possibly have. It’s also hard to see why a political group would file under section 501(c)(4) instead of under Section 527 — the part of the tax code explicitly designed for political groups including PACs and super PACs — other than to hide its donors. Like the C4s, the 527 groups are allowed to raise unlimited funds and pay no taxes. They just have to disclose who donates money.

Reform groups have been pressuring the IRS to enforce its rules for months. In February, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to the IRS, which stated: “It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the statute for political organizations formed primarily to advocate for a political candidate or to run attack ads against other candidates to take advantage of section 501(c)(4).”

(click here to continue reading IRS May Make Political Groups Pay Dearly for Keeping Donors Secret — And Out Them.)

That is exactly why – hiding their donors from public scrutiny. The IRS shouldn’t drag their feet, but do this now, before the 2012 election…


Disclose Act of 2012

Victim of Fuzzy Thinking
Victim of Fuzzy Thinking

I strongly support this legislation! If Citizens United gave corporations the right to speech, at the very least, citizens should know who is contributing the cash to fund political campaigns. Public companies eventually have to report such expenditures, but every corporate entity should have the strength of their convictions, and sign their name to policy they support.

Imagine if each of the vicious attack ads staining the presidential campaign had to name the five biggest donors paying for the propaganda, and end with an “I approved this ad” statement from the attack group’s chief operative.

This thin ray of sunlight is at the heart of a new House proposal to repair some of the damage done to American democracy by the Supreme Court decision allowing campaigns to be flooded with unlimited, and largely cloaked, corporate, union and other special-interest contributions.

The Disclose 2012 Act, introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, is a tighter version of the 2010 bill that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. The new measure would require disclosure of donor names within 24 hours for contributions of $10,000 or more — making it hard for “super PACs” and other money vehicles to take advantage of loose reporting deadlines. Union and corporate leaders and others would have to own up to sponsorship in their ads, while informing shareholders and union members how their money is spent politically. Lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club would also have to disclose their campaign spending more clearly.

(click here to continue reading Sunlight on Secret Donations – NYTimes.com.)

Via Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s website, this summary:

The “DISCLOSE 2012 Act”



1. ENHANCE PUBLIC REPORTING, BY CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS, OF CAMPAIGN-RELATED ACTIVITY: All corporations, unions, other outside groups, and Super PACs will have to report, to the FEC, within 24 hours of making a $10,000 campaign expenditure or financial transfer to other groups which can then be used for campaign-related activity.

2. REQUIRE CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS TO STAND BY THEIR ADS: All leaders of corporations, unions, other outside groups, and Super PACs that make campaign-related Ads, will have to stand by their ads and say that he/she “approves this message,”. In addition, this bill will require the top financial contributors to be disclosed in the Television and Radio advertisements.

3. REQUIRE CORPORATIONS AND OTHER OUTSIDE GROUPS TO DISCLOSE CAMPAIGN-RELATED SPENDING TO SHAREHOLDERS AND ORGANIZATION MEMBERS: Corporations, unions, and other outside groups will have to disclose their campaign-related expenditures to their shareholders and members in their periodic and annual financial reports. This would also require these groups to make their political spending available to the public, through a hyper-link to the FEC, on their websites.

4. REQUIRE LOBBYISTS TO DISCLOSE CAMPAIGN-RELATED EXPENDITURES IN CONJUNCTION WITH THEIR LOBBYING ACTIVITIES: All Federally registered lobbyists will have to disclose their political expenditures in their Lobbying Disclosure reports in conjunction with the report of their lobbying activities.

To read the full text, click here (PDF, 29 pages).

Making The Same Mistakes
Making The Same Mistakes

The Sunlight Foundation blogs its support:

The bill will create robust reporting requirements for Super PACs, corporations, unions and nonprofit organizations that decide to make campaign expenditures. It will also require reporting of transfers by those groups to others making such expenditures, to prevent the money laundering that makes it easy to hide huge campaign contributions.

DISCLOSE 2012 will also require ads to contain disclaimers by the top officials of such groups, similar to the stand by your ad mandates required of candidates. In addition, shareholders and members of outside groups will be informed of campaign spending, and lobbyists will be required to report their spending on independent expenditures and electioneering communications.

When the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case, it hung its hat on the theory that systems were in place to ensure unlimited corporate and union spending would be disclosed on the Internet. The Court was, at best, naïve. Because the Court created a whole new kind of spending, there was no disclosure system in place. (And the moribund Federal Election Commission would never be able to create such a system through a rulemaking process.) DISCLOSE 2012 creates that system of transparency and as such should receive wide support from members on both sides of the aisle.

Early primary spending has demonstrated that previously unheard of expenditures will become commonplace and overwhelm the 2012 elections. At a minimum, voters have a right to know whether the Super PAC that paid for an ad they just watched is tied to a candidate, or was funded by corporation or union with very special interests. Candidates will know who is footing the bill for ads that support their candidacy, even if such ads are technically not “coordinated” with their campaigns. With DISLOSE 2012, the voters will know too.

(click here to continue reading House Democrats Introduce DISCLOSE 2012 – Sunlight Foundation.)

Gingrich, Perry disqualified from VA primary ballot

Adult Signature Not Required
Adult Signature Not Required

These jokers are also not really serious about running for the presidency, though at least they went through the motions, unlike the other grifters we mentioned yesterday.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday.

The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.

The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.

(click here to continue reading Gingrich, Perry disqualified from Va. primary ballot – Virginia Politics – The Washington Post.)

compare and contrast to President Obama:

President Obama was the first presidential candidate to submit his signatures Dec. 2.

The Democratic Party of Virginia certified his signatures Friday. He was the only Democrat to qualify for the ballot so the State Board of Elections will cancel the primary. All Virginia delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be cast for him, said Brian Moran, party chairman.

My quick internet search didn’t yield an answer to this question: has this happened in the past? Has a party’s nomination ever been derailed because a candidate wasn’t organized to fulfill the requirements in a particular state? I’ve followed politics pretty closely my entire adult life, and can’t recall this happening before, but maybe my memory is faulty.

So, unless something changes, only Romney and Ron Paul are actually on the VA ballot. Can we stop pretending the other grifters are serious candidates now?

Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum not on VA primary ballot

Thank you for voting
Thank you for voting

Seems strange not to do what is necessary to get on the ballot in VA, unless these candidates are actually not serious about running for president, and are just going on book tours, supported by other people’s money…

Four Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul — submitted paper work in time to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot.

No other GOP contender will be on the Virginia ballot. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures with Virginia’s State Board of Elections by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.

(click here to continue reading Bachmann, Huntsman, Santorum not on Va. primary ballot | Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

Thirteen electoral votes is not nothing: New Hampshire only has four, Iowa has seven. Atrios called them grifters, which is more descriptive…

Can we please stop discussing these non-serious candidates now?

Rahm Emanuel To Stay on Ballot

Seven Memories

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that Rahm Emanuel is to remain on the ballot. I haven’t decided who I might support in the mayoral race, but am pleased with this result:

On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s seven justices overturned the ruling of the appeals panel, though two of the justices issued their own reasoning for allowing Mr. Emanuel to run. In the majority’s opinion, which was written by Justice Robert R. Thomas, a Republican, the justices raised sharp questions about what the appellate court had concluded, suggesting that such issues of residency had essentially been settled in this state for 150 years — until this week.

“Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above,” Justice Thomas wrote, continuing later, “but was instead free to craft its own original standard for determining a candidate’s residency.”

The opinion repeatedly cited a case from 1867, in which an Illinois resident had been appointed as a judge, but had been challenged for not meeting a five-year residency requirement because his family had lived in Tennessee for eight months. That long-ago ruling — in the judge’s favor — focused on his intent (he refused to sell his Illinois law books, for instance), not on his physical location, the justices found. The same principles, the justice wrote, control Mr. Emanuel’s case, “plain and simple.”

Under the appellate court’s decision, the justices said, all sorts of circumstances would now come into question: Where does a member of Congress who spends several days a week in Washington reside legally? What about a state legislator?

“Under the appellate court’s test, considerable doubt would arise as to whether any of these people could meet a residency test that requires one year of ‘actually living’ or “actually residing’ in the municipality,” the majority wrote.


(click to continue reading Court Allows Emanuel on Ballot for Chicago Mayor – NYTimes.com.)

and from the WSJ:

Mr. Emanuel was born in Chicago, owns a house here and represented the city’s North Side for three terms in Congress before he moved to Washington in early 2009 to work for President Obama. He didn’t move back to Chicago until October.

Objectors cited his absence to disqualify him. Mr. Emanuel argued that even though he moved to Washington, he maintained his residency by renting out his house instead of selling it, paying property taxes, keeping his cars registered in Chicago and voting in city elections. He also stored family heirlooms in a locked crawl space in the basement of his home.

Mr. Emanuel further argued that Illinois law provides an exception for candidates who leave the state on business for the U.S. government. The appellate court ruled that a person running for office must be physically present in the city and the government exception applied to voters but not to candidates.

In their opinion, five of the Illinois Supreme Court justices chastised the appellate court for its “mysterious” analysis that it said resulted in “tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard.”

The justices said that under the appellate court’s analysis, congressional representatives living in Washington or state representatives living in Springfield would be constantly subjected to “confusion” with respect to their residency.

Instead, the court upheld the long tradition of using “physical presence” and “intent” when interpreting residency questions in Illinois. It also said that the only way to lose residency once established is through “abandonment” of the physical presence, also a question of intent.

In Mr. Emanuel’s case, the court said, he did not abandon his residency because his intent was clearly to remain in his Chicago house. “The candidate left many personal items in the Hermitage House, including his bed, two televisions, a stereo system, a piano, and over 100 boxes of personal possessions,” the court said.

(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel Can Stay on Ballot, Court Rules – WSJ.com.)

I also object to the residency law on principle. Voters should be allowed to make up their own minds if a carpet bagger would best represent the interests of the city. Chicago should not have this silly paternalistic law on the books. Once in office, or serving as police or whatever, then perhaps1 residency rules could pertain: does seem to make sense that an Alderman should reside in the district the Alderman is representing, at least after the election. Would it really matter if a police officer lived in Gurnee, but worked in the Lakeview district?

But the one year prior to running rule seems a bit bogus, to me.

  1. maybe []

Emanuel’s Ballot Access

Broken History

In case you haven’t heard, last October Chicago’s Mayor-For-Life, Richard M. Daley suddenly announced he wasn’t running for re-election. Within a week, Rahm Eamanuel quit his job as Chief of Staff for Obama, and announced his candidacy for mayor.

He’s having some difficulties:

CHICAGO — With only a month to go until Election Day, more than $10 million in campaign money and an overwhelming lead in the polls, Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, was disqualified on Monday from appearing on this city’s ballot for mayor.  A panel of Illinois Appellate Court justices, in a 2-1 ruling, found that Mr. Emanuel failed to meet a state code stipulating that candidates for mayor reside in the city they hope to lead for at least a full year before an election.

Mr. Emanuel maintains that his time in Washington, which ended in October, was always meant to be temporary and ought not affect his legal status as a resident of Chicago. He filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court late Monday to stay the appellate court decision and expedite an appeal.

(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel Tossed Off Chicago Mayor Ballot – NYTimes.com.)

Gapers Block’s Ramsin Canon has written an excellent overview of the Rahm Emanuel case, including this:

The decision was split 2-1. The majority opinion is seductively argued. Basically, they build upwards from the idea that the Chicago election law is conjuctive and not disjunctive—in other words, it is an “and” not an “or.” Where there is an “and” in a statute, that means that two distinct, non-redundant elements are necessary. The two elements in question here: (1) Is candidate a qualified elector? and (2) did candidate “reside” in Chicago for a year before the election?

The majority finds that he meets the first element but fails the second and, therefore, fails to qualify. The reason he fails the second, they argue, is because the legislature must have intended “reside” to mean something different from merely “have a voter-qualifying residence.” Here they draw a distinction between “constructively” residing (think of this as “residing as a matter of law”) and “actually” or “factually” residing (think of this as “residing in the common sense”). Emanuel’s attorneys anticipated this problem by arguing that he meets an exception to this requirement as he was away due to business on the behalf of the United States—typically considered a “service member” exception, i.e., you don’t want soldiers to lose their residency because of their military service. However, the majority doesn’t think this applies to candidacy but rather only to voting. Citing a case called Ballhorn, the majority holds in other words that legislators wanted candidates to actually live in a place in order to represent it:

Those [residency] requirements ensure “that those who represent the local units of government shall themselves be component parts of such units.” This intent of the legislature moved the majority to find that Emanuel failed to meet the intent of the legislators in creating these requirements. The majority is concerned, so they say, about the rules of “statutory construction” which require them to respect the legislature’s intent in writing laws. One of the basic rules of statutory construction is that courts shouldn’t assume words are superfluous or redundant, and that if something was included, it was included for a reason. If the legislature had merely wanted candidates to be qualified voters for a year prior to elections, rather than qualified voters who also resided in the district for a year, then they would not have made a distinction.

Importantly, the majority did not give a Rule 316 certification, meaning basically that they added a hurdle to Emanuel’s appealing their decision. Had they given the certification, it would have gone straight to the Supreme Court.

(click to continue reading Make Sense, Be Honest: Emanuel’s Ballot Access – Gapers Block Mechanics | Chicago.)

If you recall, Cecil Adams argued that Emanuel *should* be on the ballot, but we’ll see what the Supreme Court of IL has to say, as I’m sure the appeal is being furiously written right now.

Whether or not, Emanuel has further options is unclear…

What happens if the state Supreme Court  declines to take the case or affirms the decision of the appeals judges that he cannot be on the ballot—and that would also mean, says Tenenbaum, that Emanuel would not be eligible to be a write-in candidate—can Rahm take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court?

“The only way to get to the U.S. Supreme Court is through a petition for certiorari, and [Rahm] would have to raise a United States Constitutional issue,” Professor Tenenbaum said. “I have not seen one, although he could try and argue that if residence has one meaning for voting purposes [Rahm has consistently voted here] and another for candidacy, it denies equal protection, but that would probably be a stretch.”

(click to continue reading Northwestern Law Prof on Rahm’s Prospects Now – Felsenthal Files – January 2011.)

Looking up at the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune editorialized, in part:

With startling arrogance and audaciously twisted reasoning, two appellate judges ignored more than 100 years of legal precedent, invented a new definition of “residency” and ordered Rahm Emanuel off the Feb. 22 mayoral ballot.

With the election just four weeks away, the appellate panel voted 2-1 to reverse the decisions of the Chicago Board of Elections and a Circuit Court judge. It’s an adventurous, flawed ruling that has immediate and profound consequences. The case is headed to the Illinois Supreme Court, but the ballots are headed to the printer — without Emanuel’s name. Early voting begins Monday.

In a blistering dissent, Appellate Justice Bertina E. Lampkin accused her colleagues, Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall, of “careless disregard for the law,” and harshly criticized them for refusing to ask the Supreme Court for an expedited review.

Lampkin accused the majority of ignoring case law that clearly supported Emanuel’s argument —including a significant case in which Hoffman prevailed.

“The majority’s new standard is ill-reasoned and unfair to the candidate, voters and those of us who are charged with applying the law,” Lampkin wrote. The decision “disenfranchises not just this particular candidate but every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him.”

…Instead, the two appellate justices twisted themselves into a pretzel to come up with an argument to disqualify him. Insisting that they had “no Supreme Court directive” on which to rely and hanging their hat on an interpretation found in a case they acknowledge “lacks precedential force,” the justices decided that the phrase “resided in” has one meaning when applied to voters and another when applied to candidates.

This distinction, Lampkin notes, “is a figment of the majority’s imagination” and “a standard that the majority just conjured out of thin air.” In the process, the justices disregarded a case that has guided residency rulings for 122 years, she wrote.

“An opinion of such wide-ranging import and not based on established law but, rather, on the whims of two judges, should not be allowed to stand,” Lampkin wrote. Amen.

(click to continue reading Rahm Emanuel knocked off mayoral ballot – chicagotribune.com.)

Rahm and the residency requirements for mayor

Layers of Meaning

Cecil Adams wields his logic knife1, and slices, dices the controversy about Rahm Emanuel’s residency.

[Rahm Emanuel’s residency] is the most ridiculous controversy to come down the pike in, oh, a good two months. For example, John Kass writes [in his basement, probably]:

I appreciate and respect Rahm. Sure, he’s profane, but so am I when I’m not typing, and he’s got a great sense of humor. And I believe he should be on the ballot.

Still, there’s that nagging issue. It’s called the law.

Please, spare me the melodrama. While wacky things have been known to happen in Illinois courts, under any reasonable reading the law squarely favors Rahm.


(click to continue reading Straight Dope Chicago: Does Rahm meet the residency requirements to run for mayor?.)

Witchy oops in Oak Park

and the main reason Rahm has residency, as Cecil Adams see it:

Chapter 36, Section 3.2(a) of the Illinois Compiled Statutes includes the following provision:

A permanent abode is necessary to constitute a residence within the meaning of Section 3-1 [which says who’s allowed to vote in Illinois]. No elector or spouse shall be deemed to have lost his or her residence in any precinct or election district in this State by reason of his or her absence on business of the United States, or of this State.

Nonetheless, it seems clear the Illinois election code is meant to cover similar situations: if you go to work at the White House, or become an ambassador, or perform some comparable public service, you retain your state residency during your absence. It’s not necessary to delve into who’s currently renting your house or any other such nonsense.

(click to continue reading Straight Dope Chicago: Does Rahm meet the residency requirements to run for mayor?.)

Seems pretty straightforward to me, especially since the main people raising objections seem to have solely political motivations.

  1. whatever that is, I assume my metaphor is not so obscure as to be confusing. I’ll admit to needing more coffee []

Bush Still Doesn’t Like McCain

Not sure if this changes anything, but amusing nonetheless:

Bush-McCain-celebrate Katrina.png

George W. Bush’s bombastic return to the world stage has reminded me of my favourite Bush anecdote, which for various reasons we couldn’t publish at the time. Some of the witnesses still dine out on it.

The venue was the Oval Office. A group of British dignitaries, including Gordon Brown, were paying a visit. It was at the height of the 2008 presidential election campaign, not long after Bush publicly endorsed John McCain as his successor.

Naturally the election came up in conversation. Trying to be even-handed and polite, the Brits said something diplomatic about McCain’s campaign, expecting Bush to express some warm words of support for the Republican candidate.

Not a chance. “I probably won’t even vote for the guy,” Bush told the group, according to two people present.“I had to endorse him. But I’d have endorsed Obama if they’d asked me.”

Endorse Obama? Cue dumbfounded look from British officials, followed by some awkward remarks about the Washington weather. Even Gordon Brown’s poker face gave way to a flash of astonishment.

(click to continue reading Bush: “I probably won’t even vote for McCain” | Westminster Blog: The latest on UK politics | FT.com.)


Russ Feingold Loss is a Loss for All of Us

Watching - Polapan

More on why Russ Feingold losing his seat to a Tea Party Know Nothing is a travesty…

Civil liberties advocates lost a Senate stalwart Tuesday night when Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) was defeated by Ron Johnson, a little-known plastics manufacturer whose shibboleths against health care reform and government spending tapped into populist anger.

For years, Feingold was one of the few — and sometimes the only — voice in the Senate skeptical of the government’s increasing demands for domestic surveillance power and control of the internet. He was one of 16 Senators who voted against the Communications Decency Act of 1996, an internet censorship bill later struck down by the Supreme Court, was the only Senator in 2001 to vote against the USA Patriot Act, and he introduced a measure to censure President Bush for his illegal warrantless wiretapping program.

“Senator Feingold was a true champion of civil liberties,” said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, D.C. “He spoke out against the Patriot Act and the dramatic growth of government surveillance programs when many other Senators stood by silently. His voice and his commitment to the Constitutional rights of all Americans will be missed.”

In 1997, before many Americans were online, Feingold set out to repeal the CDA, which criminalized sending “indecent materials” to minors on the net, even before the Supreme Court heard the case.

“One can be a speaker, a publisher and a listener using the internet,” Feingold said, years before the term Web 2.0 became trendy. “The threat of the Communications Decency Act is its undeniable ability to stifle this free-flowing speech on the Net.”

Feingold was a maverick in his own party, strongly opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and voting against the TARP bank bailouts. Unlike many Democrats, however, he embraced his vote on health care reform, saying there was nothing wrong with helping to get the uninsured health care.

(click to continue reading Civil Liberties Watchdog Feingold Loses Senate Seat | Threat Level | Wired.com.)


2010 Elections


Well, that was a disappointing result, wasn’t it? Quite a somber mood today in Progressive corners of the country, in contrast to 2008 where it seemed as if we had finally turned a corner. Russ Feingold lost to some climate change denier, John Boehner is going to be the first orange Speaker of the House, and Harry Reid will still be Senate Majority Leader in all likelihood. Bleh.

I’m disappointed that the Democrats ran shitty campaigns, perturbed that Barack Obama has been so centrist and milquetoast that liberals couldn’t or wouldn’t rally around him, and even more discouraged that the nation’s electorate allowed themselves to be swayed by talking points, duped by false statements, and swayed by the gazillions of advertising dollars that flooded the election. Chief Justice John Roberts is partially culpable, with his judicial activist over-reach, allowing corporations1 to purchase elections for their minions.

California voted to keep the Drug War farce alive, Rick Perry won reelection as Texas Governor, the GOP is already planning to shut down everything beneficial to our country, except military spending, of course. Serial liar Mark Kirk won in Illinois, helped in no small part by the $8 million in outside money spent against Giannoulias. Alan Grayson lost, with a probable result that future Democrats will not speak frankly and candidly in the future about the Rethuglican juggernaut. Even the despicable Rick Scott and Marco Rubio won in Florida.

Dewey Defeats Truman

Bright spots? A few I guess, if you squint. Both Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman lost, California’s ridiculous Prop 23 lost, Barney Frank and Lloyd Doggett both retained their seats, and maybe Ken Buck lost to Michael Bennet.

Big sigh, in other words. Not to mention, the GOP/Tea Party are notoriously poor winners – cocky assholes when they lose, even worse in victory. Insufferable bastards, nearly each and every one. Since these tactics worked so well in 2012, I expect 2014’s election cycle to be even more toxic – more corporate dollars involved, more lies and liars, and our country will suffer.

  1. Citizens United vs. F.E.C. []