Undecided Voters – Swing States – and The Electoral College

Are you like me and sick of the media playing to the “Undecided Voter” group?  I feel like at this stage of the campaign if you haven’t made up your mind between two very different candidates you are too STOOPID (sp on purpose) to get the privilege of voting.  I really don’t want my future decided by a handful of people, do you?

I am also tired of hearing about the swing states.  I do feel sorry for the people living there because I am certain that they are overwhelmed by a barrage of spiteful political ads.  Also, I do understand the importance of garnering the 270+ electoral college votes to win. But, again, why must my next president be in the hands of a few?  Are you feeling like me?  It as if my vote doesn’t count?  But it does!  I am important too! Or am I?

Guess what!  The election of the President of the United States is IN THE HANDS OF A FEW – only 538 to be exact.  They are the Constitutional “electors” – commonly known as the Electoral College.   In reality your individual vote barely counts when it comes to electing POTUS.

If you are like most Americans you probably don’t understand why we even have an Electoral College.  In fact, our Constitution never references an “Electoral College”, but rather Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment both refer to “electors,” not to the “Electoral College”.  Our founding fathers established this group of “electors” as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

You may be wondering what a “qualified citizen” is and how someone becomes one.  The Electoral College can be traced to the Roman Republic’s Centurial Assembly.  In that system, the adult male citizens of Rome were divided, according to their wealth, into groups of 100 (Centuries).  Each group of 100 was entitled to cast only one vote either in favor or against proposals submitted to them by the Roman Senate.  In America’s Electoral College system, the States serve as the Centurial groups (not based on wealth), and the number of votes per State is determined by the size of each State’s Congressional delegation (ie. 2 Senators plus one for each member in the House of Representatives amd 3 for Washington D.C.).  Currently there are 538 electors, and a majority of 270 votes is required to elect the President.

Historically, the Electoral College was created because our founding fathers were trying to solve several problems.  How do you elect a President when the nation…

  • is composed of thirteen large and small State – each jealous of their own rights and powers and suspicious of any central national government
  • contained 4 million people spread up and down a thousand miles of Atlantic seaboard barely connected by transportation or communication
  • believed, under the influence of such British political thinkers as Henry St. John Bolingbroke, that political parties were mischievous if not downright evil, and
  • felt that gentlemen should not campaign for public office (The saying was “The office should seek the man, the man should not seek the office.”).

How, then, to choose a president without political parties, without national campaigns, and without upsetting the carefully designed balance between the presidency and the Congress on one hand and between the States and the federal government on the other? Answer? – “electors.”

Even though a small number of us head to the polls on the first Tuesday in November, our President is not actually elected (or official) until much later.  Here is the timeline -

  • On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election the electors meet in their respective states.  They cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots and recorded on a “Certificate of Vote”.  The votes are then sent to Congress and the National Archives as part of the official records of the presidential election.  On the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors, the votes are counted in a joint session of Congress.  On the 20th of January, the President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States.

So officially the name of POTUS is not known until the 6th of January! Bet most of you reading this blog didn’t realize that!  Shocking isn’t it?  We think we know who the President is because we are watching the news release of the polling station results across the United States.

I believe the time for the “Electoral College” should be over.  Our ability to process a massive amount of information is so simple in our current times.  However, to remove the concept of the “electors” would require a Constitutional Amendment. And (sarcastically) how often does that happen? Well, there are 27 Amendments, but remember the first ten are the Bill of Rights, so it has only actually happened eighteen times in over 200 years.

Question? – Do you believe The Electorial College should continue to exist in American politics? Do you believe your vote really counts?

To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain. – Louis L’Amour

Freedom is the last, best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln.

You are only free, when you exercise your right to vote, so…

GET OUT AND VOTE!  Even if you aren’t feeling like your vote counts, it does.

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

For More Detailed Reading about the Electoral College and the Constitution, try these links:

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

 

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More important than 2008, Michelle Obama, #DNC2012

I watched Michelle Obama give her speech to the Democratic National Convention ( #DNC2012 ) and can honestly say I have never been so proud of a First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS).  She was graceful, elegant, heartfelt and inspiring at levels that no other FLOTUS, in my memory, has reached.  I am proud to say that I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and will do so again in November.

I don’t really consider myself a political person because I don’t like the game of politics, but this election is too important for me not to speak up.  You may wonder why I hold this man in such high esteem and am willing to put my faith in him for four more years.  You may ask, am I better off than I was four years ago?  You bet.  Not necessarily in the ways you might think.

In 2008 I was living in England as an ex-pat.  I moved there with my husband at the end of 2007 and then it was like the world collapsed.  The financial market plunged to a level that many could not navigate.  It was difficult for me to stay employed.  Who would you rather hire – an American or one of your own countrymen, in this case English, or some foreigner?  I can’t blame them, I would hire one of my own countrymen before I would hire an expat too.

When you lose your job in a foreign country it is even harder to return to the States.  How will you save enough to move back?  How will you pay for a plane ticket?  Where will you get the money to put down a deposit and rent a new place if you are even able to get back home?  If you move someplace where you need a car, how are you going to pay for it?  You have no job and no money and perhaps few or no prospects.

We are all safer in the world, because overall, Obama is a popular and trusted President.  Most of the world respects him and they too believe that he is more concerned about the welfare of others than he is about enriching his own pocketbook.  Can you honestly say that about his opponent?  A man who thinks re-modeling his beach house, where he has an elevator just for his cars, is the right thing to do when people in the world are starving and needing work?  A man who closes companies and outsources jobs? A man who was born into wealth and then tries to convince us that he made it own his own? (You do know that his wealthy self-made father was the one who financed his company don’t you?)

Want more proof that we already have the right man in the White House? Consider these facts:

  • 29 straight months of job growth.  Over 4.5 million private sector jobs have been added back since the Bush administration. When Obama took office, we were losing over 700,000 jobs per month as a direct result of the Republican policies
  • Obama made an unpopular decision to extend loans to the auto industry, but saved over 1 million jobs.
  • He has doubled investment in scholarships and financial aid so that students from working and middle-class families have the opportunity to pursue higher education
  • Obama supports alternative energy over fossil fuels.  These are efforts that will ultimately save our planet.
  • Obama believes in true equal rights.  He repealed “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell.”   He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. He believes in marriage equality.
  • He is working even the tax burden by reforming the tax code and closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires.  He is keeping taxes low for those who make under $250,000 per year.
  • Obama believes that women should be able to make their own choice about their body.
  • Affordable Health Care Act (or ObamaCare as some refer to it) still stands after attempts to repeal it and  being brought before the Supreme Court by greedy special interest groups
  • Osama bin Laden is dead.  Yes, he made the tough decision to raid the compound when others advised against it.  Once again the right thing to do over what is politically popular.

I am proud to support President Obama and believe that he should be given four more years.  He supports issues that make a difference in all our lives – access to affordable health care, access to higher education, more balanced taxation, strong and well-received foreign policy, saving our planet, and doing the right thing over political pressure.  President Obama works for all of us, not just the ultra-wealthy.  He not only believes in the American Dream, but he is a true product of it.  Please join me in supporting his re-election.

Michelle Obama – (Barack Obama) believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity… you do not slam it shut behind you …. you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

All voting age Americans – I ask you, please help the whole world by voting for Barack Obama in November.

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

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#PussyRiot – OMG What is that? #Freedom

Earlier this week I saw the words Pussy Riot and Punk Band scrolling through social media and then more traditional media outlets.  First I found it annoying because my reaction was simply that some musical group named themselves “Pussy Riot” to garner attention to sell more songs.  It seemed tawdry and just the kind of name to create controversy and garner their “fifteen minutes of fame.”

The first news article I watched showed a masked group of young females overtaking a church and being seemingly destructive.  I thought, “Yes, they should be punished.  Who takes over a church to perform a protest song?”  This thought just demonstrates how I didn’t have enough information.  I still believe the women deserve to be punished, but the most of the world apparently believes that the two-year prison sentence (hard labour) they have been given does not fit their crime.  And after doing a bit of research to understand the issue, I agree. Here is why:

Many have seen the trial of these women – Nadeshda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 and Maria Alekhina, 24 – as a trial, not about the crime they were charged with of “inciting religious hatred and hooliganism”, but rather about the dictatorship-like rule of President Vladimir Putin.  Since Putin assumed office in May he has instituted laws that levy heavy fines on “unsanctioned public meetings, crackdown on dissent and restrict the actions of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that provide vital public services.”  The Kremlin has stated that this law is necessary and is meant to deter outside influences on internal politics.  In reality this law is affecting the independent election monitor Golos, human rights group Amnesty International and the anti-corruption group Transparency International.  Even the US State Department has expressed “deep concern” about the structure of this law.

Again you may ask, so why should I care?  It is simple really.  These women chose a platform that was certain to attract attention to demonstrate that they deserve the right to have a say in their government and the laws that affect their lives.  You may say, “But these women violated a church, how can I support that?”  What you may think or believe about religion may change when you read the closing statement of Samutsevich where she stated that Christ the Savior Cathedral was being used as a political symbol by Putin.  Kirill Gundyaev, Putin’s former KGB collegue, took over head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church had become the backdrop of the “politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].”  For those of you who find their “take over” of a church appalling, maybe it helps you to understand that this particular church was a symbol for something other than religion.  It was and still is a symbol of Putin’s power.

If you believe that we all deserve the basic human rights of freedom of speech and protest, then you should support the international outcry against Putin’s tactics to suppress the Russian people.

Question? – What can you do today to show your outrage at Putin’s dictator-like rule? Speak out.  Tell your friends.  Tweet.  Read more articles.  Post comments.  Get involved.  This is your world too, take a stand.  Freedom is important to us all.

Freedom is the last, best hope of earth. – Abraham Lincoln.

 

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

 

Video of Pussy Riot created by The Guardian – a new single that coincides with the verdict -http://gu.com/p/39zed/tw [Hint: If you don’t like their music, turn off the sound and watch the video. It is compelling.]

 

Further Reading about the Pussy Riot Trial, Closing Statements and Putin’s laws:

Why Pussy Riot matters http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/17/why-pussy-riot-matters/ #cnn via @CNN

Russia Sentences Pussy Riot Members to Two Years in Jail http://buswk.co/Q7qHtO via @BW

http://www2.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/digital-amnesty/pussy-riot-jailed-speak-out-them-once-more

Pussy Riot, sentenced to two years in a penal colony, release new anti-Putin single – Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/08/17/pussy-riot-sentenced-to-two-y.html via @BoingBoing

BBC News – Russia: Controversial NGO bill becomes law http://bbc.in/MQVhHg

Russia speeds law on rights groups, snubbing U.S http://reut.rs/N5shRV via @reuters

Chess Champ Garry Kasparov: ‘They Were Trying to Break My Leg’  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/17/chess-champ-garry-kasparov-they-were-trying-to-break-my-leg.html via @thedailybeast

 

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Restore #America, Restore the #Dream, Educate!

This morning a tweet caught my eye…

Gloria Williams Lupo ‏@gwlupo If you really want to know what is wrong with our economy, read this by Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz. [I created a shorter link for you: http://bit.ly/RDMs9j]

I read the article and learned that Jospeh Stigliz is not a man to be discounted lightly.

Stiglitz has taught at Yale, Oxford and MIT. He served on President Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisers, then left the White House for the World Bank, where he was the chief economist. He’s now a professor at Columbia University.

Mr. Stiglitz believes that “Education is the vehicle for social mobility.”  But currently we have created so many barriers that just a mere 8% of students in the best colleges come from the bottom half on the income scale.  Poorer students can’t get in because their elementary and high school educations can’t complete with the educations received by the wealthier students.

He also believes America’s economic struggles arise directly from “the growing gap between wealthy Americans and the rest of us.”  I don’t understand why anyone can support the Romney/Ryan ticket when their focus is catering to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the majority of the country.  Here are some facts about Ryan’s approaches to education:

*  Early Childhood Education: As chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan was the architect of a budget proposing to cut $1.1 billion from early childhood education, which would deny more than 2 million poor children the opportunity for high-quality early education.

*  K-12 Education: During his 13 years in Congress, Ryan has repeatedly supported cuts to education funding, including blocking support intended to help avoid educator layoffs and prevent ballooning class sizes. In fact, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the budget could have “disastrous consequences for America’s children.

*  Title 1 And Special Education: Back in March, Duncan told the House Appropriations panel that oversees education spending that the Ryan budget could cut Title I grants to districts, which right now total $14.5 billion, by as much as $2.7 billion, while special education could be cut by as much as $2.2 billion. Special education state grants are currently funded at $11.6 billion.

*  Pell Grants: Ryan has voted repeatedly against increasing Pell Grants, which provide need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education.

*  School Vouchers: The Wisconsin representative has also cast votes during his seven terms in the House that show, among other things, support for school vouchers.  His running mate, Mitt Romney, has called for a more expansive policy of school vouchers, which give public money to families to attend private and religious schools.

*  For-profit Colleges: Ryan has often shown his support for for-profit colleges, and earlier this year he voted for a measure that sought to stop the Education Department from implementing regulations intended to stop deceptive marketing by for-profit colleges, the focus of a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation.

*  Teachers: Paul Ryan voted against the conference report of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which included billions of dollars to help prevent widespread teacher layoffs and included $1 billion to support the early childhood program Head Start.

*  Class Size: Along with Governor Romney, Ryan apparently believes that class size does not matter.

By selecting Ryan, Romney has found a natural ally in his plan to destroy the foundations of American education and turn our children’s schooling over to the private sector. Or, as Romney himself put it, “Opportunity in America means people get as much education as they can afford.”

The poorer you are the less likely you are to succeed financially.  It’s no surprise that we have grown a generation of people that believe that can only get ahead by being 1) a reality tv star, 2) a professional sports star, or 3) a pop star.  What about the education system we need to expand our technology or protect our planet?  Did you know that many technology jobs go unfilled by Americans because we haven’t provided the training our own citizens need to be able to fulfill the well-paying roles?

What do you think should be done? 

I think we should invest in education.  Our country was founded on this very principle.  Please do not take this stand lightly.  One of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, said:

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

I tweeted: “Opportunity in America should mean we have equal access to education, both primary and secondary!” I hope you agree.  Please share my article if you do.

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#Olympics – Go 4 Gold – What about Silver?

This week, like many others, I was glued to the television watching the outcome of various Olympic events.  In spite of my disappointment of having to watch the events several hours after they had ended and I knew the medal results before tuning in. [Yes I’m one of the many who believes the NBC airing of the 2012 Olympics sucks!]

I saw Viktoria Komova, the Russian gymnast, burst into tears as she realized that she had not won the gold medal, but instead received the silver.  I felt deep empathy for her and it made me cry with her (even writing this I tear up a little), and at the same time celebrate that Gabby Douglas had won her gold.  Viktoria is the daughter of two gymnasts and she is magical to watch.  I kept thinking she looked so frail and tiny and at any moment would just break.  Her grace and movement was so fluid she looked more like a ballerina performing the unbelievably difficult twists and turns that are now demanded of the top tier gymnasts.  In fact she had a greater dancer-like quality than any other gymnast I can remember watching.  [You can watch her in action on her official website http://russiangymnasts.net/viktoriya-komova/eng/news.php ]

I saw on Twitter and other social media so many people trashing her for crying and saying she had a bad attitude or was a poor sport.  It would be wonderful if she was thrilled with receiving any medal, but she had just spent her young life focused on the gold.  It seems that so many people forget that she is really very young, only 17.  Even training very hard for the Olympics, she was like many teenagers – with her favorite food being pizza and her favorite movie Twilight.  This was probably her only chance to compete for this honor; gymnasts rarely get to go to the Olympics a second time because of their miniscule career span – 4 more years is a lifetime.

She was not the only Olympian I watched this week that was more than just a little disappointed with receiving the silver medal.  I watched the men’s swimming relay (400 meter freestyle) where the USA team took the silver medal and France took the gold.  Afterwards, as NBC lined them up to interview them, the four  #TeamUSA members looked more than disappointed, they looked disgusted.  I didn’t feel sorry for them like I did the emotional Komova because their attitudes hit me negatively.  Instead of looking at frail young girl, I was looking at four large and incredibly muscular guys.  I didn’t read anything about them being un-sportsman-like or having a bad attitude.  I read headlines like “Settles for Silver” or tweets that France’s Yannick Agnel must have been a “merman” due to his powerful sprint in the last 50 meters of the race.  Why did so many criticize the tiny gymnast but no criticism for equally “unsportsman-like” behavior of the USA swimmers?

It annoys me that there seemed to be a double standard for so many viewers and the media about what is acceptable to criticize and what is not.  My biggest question is what is so wrong with Silver?  It’s the OLYMPICS!  With over 7 billion people on our planet, the number of people that get to be in the Olympics is infinitesimal in comparison.  I think we should celebrate all the athletes that attend the event, with a few exceptions – the badminton teams that threw their matches, the hate messages tweeted by some athletes, etc.

Let’s celebrate gold, silver and bronze.  Let’s celebrate the participants.  Let’s support the hard work that went into just getting there.

Life is short. Play for fun.  Support one another. Cheer for everyone!

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

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#Olympics – What’s it all about?

We always have the urge to cheer on our own countries and the winners of the medals, but how often do you cheer on the athlete who is in last place?  The story of the Niger rower, Hamadou Djibo Issaka, caught my attention today.  It gave me a little thrill to see a story posted about the crowds cheering on the guy who was in last place.

@Caroline_Roche Olympic Rowing: Niger Rower Hamadou Djibo Issaka Crawls Home To Roaring Crowd http://huff.to/SZLSlZ  via @HuffPostSports #myjourney

Sometimes we get so caught up in winning we forget that the Olympics are really about great sportsmanship.  This rowing event is the best evidence that the Olympics can pull people of every nation together.  Frequently I like to cheer for the underdog just because I feel that is the person who needs my support the most.  It is easy to vote for the superstar favorite.

The next time you are cheering for your favorite team and /or athlete, save some extra special cheers for those who didn’t win but put themselves “out there.”

One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it – Knute Rockne.

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

UPDATE – RT’d by the real Evander Holyfield !

@holyfield Great story! RT @Caroline_Roche It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters – Evander Holyfield #olympics #inspire

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Champion of the Earth and #OlympicCeremony

Inspired by the spirit of the Olympics and all that it represents I want to share the attached ….

Please pledge to save our planet.

Live, Learn and Love,

@Caroline_Roche

- follow me on twitter and / or comment on my blogs.

http://pinterest.com/carolinescastle/

 

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