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Asheville, NC, USA
Updated September 16, 2016

Blue Ridge Journal
"A Potpourri of Good Sense"
presented by H.Paul Lillebo

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New Trix Quartet

All essays by topic

Recent essays:
Replace Trump with a woman
Mindless campaign and media
Presidential Candidates 2016
The Press in elections
The flap over voter ID
The Real population problem
Democrat President'l Candidates?
The Georgia Guidestones
Islamist terror & Islamic culture
Unconstitutional amendments
Nationhood & Multiculturalism
Good Friday
NSA, Snowden, national security
Nebulous cosmology
Another Washington disaster
Bye-bye privacy
U.S. states as power centers
Asteroids, meteors, and us
World peace - regional security
A New Year's wish list
Israel and Palestine
No Emancipation Celebration?
Presidential debates again!
The "Roberts trick"
The sins of The Fathers
NC vote on same-sex marriage
Updating the U.S. Constitution
Reforming a moribund Congress
A Civilization built on hot air
The "Occupy Wall St." protests
Arguing about God
The irrational stock exchange
The danger of belief
Obama's asteroid boondoggle
Presidential MQ's
"Don't ask, don't tell"
The Second Coming
Glob. Warm'g - western guilt?
Rot of campaign finance
Health care debacle
Cities in the sea
On human population
Education for democracy
Are 3 gods better than 1?
Stupid is as stupid does
A new economics
Immediate energy solution
A Public Stock Exchange
The Dawkins delusion
Viceroy of the carpenter?
Charisma and Democracy
US missile shield for Europe
Eve of Eden
A fable of fools
China's cheap labor
Memorial Day: an addition
Congress & representation
On doing stupid things
The Calendar & diplomacy
Science & Religion
The American President
The spark of life
Liberal & Conservative
Real campaign issues
Evolut'n/Creat'n conundrum
The toy kings of Europe
The disease of militarism
The Supreme Court...
Reps, Dems & coup d'état
On going to Heaven
"Creationism" in school
Mars Madness
Global warming
Free public transit
Lotto: a new poor tax
EU: the new imperialism

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And just for fun:
Some odd tales

For your mental delectation:
(Click the puzzle to solve it)

The world's current top chess players:
(I'm left out again...) for more details and full list

Suggested Related Essays:
"Hillary memories"   and   "The presidential candidates."

Current essay:

The Intriguing Possibility of Gary Johnson

Gaming our electoral oddities

James Madison's system of indirect election of the President (the "Electoral College") and the 12th amendment to the US Constitution may rescue us from our current electoral dilemma.

Less than two months to the election, and a feeling of helpless horror is sinking over the US electorate: We don't have a decent, qualified presidential candidate on the ballot. Which means, next year we won't have a decent, qualified President. What we've got on the main bill is two jerks who are remarkably alike in their personal character. They're both profane, avaricious, self-serving, thin-skinned egotists whose first reaction upon being provoked is to explode and go for the jugular, before segueing to the inevitable lie or excuse. Neither is qualified for the job: Trump's main skill is leaving others holding the bag. Clinton's greatest achievement – as she called it in her book – is the Libya bombing, which Obama has called his greatest mistake. They both – like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton – have lists of friends and enemies. Friends are rich folks who can benefit them, enemies are mainly folks with principles.

So, what to do? Even though the presidential ballot will have plenty of names to choose from, there is no doubt that the American voters will choose among the Republican and the Democratic candidates – the two avaricious egotists. But, because there are enough voters who recognize the horror of either candidate succeeding, the candidacy of the former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, is edging up toward 10% nationwide. Not enough to win, naturally, but he may gain another 5% before the election and become a factor. Here's how:

Our electoral college system works like this: Each state has as many electoral votes as the size of its congressional delegation (House and Senate together). My state of North Carolina, for example, has thirteen House districts, so with the two senators that's a congressional delegation of fifteen – that's our electoral votes. The states with the smallest population (Wyoming, Delaware, etc) have only one House representative and therefore have three electoral votes. The largest state, California, has 55 electoral votes. In 48 of our states, the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all the state's electoral votes. The candidates who gets a majority of the electoral votes (270) has won the presidency. (Here's the relevant arithmetic: 435 House members + 100 senators + 3 for the District of Columbia = 538 total electoral votes. Half of that is 269.)

Now, there's not much chance that Gary Johnson will get a majority of the popular vote in any state. The electorate is not going to be that broadminded. Most voters will hold their nose and vote for their usual party. (Everyone buys into the duopoly's "voting-for-a-third-party-means-throwing-away-your-vote" myth.) Governor Johnson's opportunity lies in the states of Maine and Nebraska, where you don't have to win the whole state. In these states, the contest for electors is run district by district, so that to win one electoral vote you need to win the popular vote in one House district. Unfortunately, Maine only has two districts, and Nebraska only three. So while you don't need to win the whole state, you'd need to win a substantial portion of it. Johnson would be well advised to spend most of his time and funds in these two states.

Gary Johnson's dream scenario is that no candidate gets 270 electoral votes, and that he gets at least one. Granted, it's a long shot, and the more electoral votes Johnson gets, the better his chances to deny someone else a majority. But let's say it happens: Johnson picks up one vote in free-thinking Maine, where Mrs.Clinton would otherwise expect to get all. As a result, the final tally is Clinton 269, Trump 268, Johnson 1. No one has a majority. What happens now?

At this point, the election is over, and the selection of the president goes to the House of Representatives. This would be done on January 6, 2017 by the newly elected Congress. By the twelfth amendment to the US Constitution, the House must choose from the three candidates who got the most electoral votes in the general election, and the number of electoral votes they received doesn't matter – 1 is as good as 269. To do this, the House would hold a unique kind of vote: each state delegation – no matter how large – gets one vote, which they will determine by caucus within the delegation. A majority of the delegations (26) is needed to win. So the question isn't which party controls the House, but which party controls most state delegations. Currently the Republicans have the majority in 32 of the 50 state delegations; this may change in the new Congress, but the Reps are unlikely to have lost control, so they would be able to determine the next president. So, if this happens, how do the House Republicans feel about Mr.Trump? Mostly, they don't like him. Not one bit. They're not even convinced he's a Republican. Trump hasn't got many invitations to campaign with House members this fall. They're not running with him, they're running away from him.

You see where I'm going with this. If the House Republicans don't like Mr.Trump, and can't stand Mrs.Clinton, they'll have a third choice (but only if Mr.Johnson succeeds in getting at least one electoral vote, etc. etc.). Gary Johnson was, after all, a Republican governor, he's not obnoxious and offensive like the other two goons (even if he doesn't know what "an Aleppo" is), and it would give Congress the satisfaction of having saved the nation from disaster. And his policies? Hey, it's an emergency – and Congress is after all in charge of policy. And isn't he kinda cute in his oddball way...

OK, I'm not saying all this is likely. It's a 100-1 shot, or less. But somebody occasionally wins a lottery, somebody shoots a hole in one, the Almighty sometimes (not often enough) reaches down and helps fate along. I'm just saying, it could happen; we could get our third President Johnson.

H. Paul Lillebo

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Previous essay: 
The Fall of Mr. Trump, the rise of Madam President.

No, it's not who you think!

The Republicans need to renounce Mr. Trump and withdraw his nomination, replacing both candidates on the current ticket with a fresh slate. The winning ticket will feature not one but two women.

Next previous essay: 
Mindless Campaign, Mindless Media

Where's the beef?

A presidential election campaign is the great quadrennial opportunity for a national conversation about our future – about how well we've done and where we've failed; about how we will improve our society as we go forward. The conversation is carried by the candidates for that high office, and is urged forward by "The Press", which is expected to remind the people of our failures and urge the candidates toward solutions. But our Press, print and electronic alike, is completely failing to fulfill its necessary role in a democracy.

2016 Election:

Former Clinton campaign chair and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was fired for conducting a fraudulent primary campaign for the benefit of Mrs. Clinton, has been formally accused of fraud in a lawsuit underway in Florida. After her firing from DNC, DWS was hired by Hillary, who said she valued DWS's skills.

Trump 40%, Clinton 39%, Johnson 7% in the latest Rasmussen national poll. A surprising come-back by Mr.Trump, which perhaps is connected with the recent release of the FBI's full report on Mrs.Clinton's security fiasco. Hillary Clinton's "unfavorability" rating is also at new highs, pushing 60% in some polls.

Clinton protegee, PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, has been convicted on 9 counts of felony for abuse of power and lying under oath. (Sounds Clintonesque.) She is reportedly considering whether to resign her office before sentencing, which will come in September. At that point the question should be moot, as it will be difficult to perform her duties from a jail cell.

FBI chief excoriates Hillary Clinton for "extremely careless" treatment of classified material (here's an interesting contrast of fact and fiction), but predictably declines to indict the candidate his boss supports. Mr.Comey said he declined to prosecute because Ms.Clinton's carelessness was not intentional. But as many have pointed out, the federal penal code prescribes criminal penalties for "gross negligence" in guarding classified material, with no requirement of intent. One might think that four years of extreme carelessness with secret and top secret material – and Hillary's mail setup was very much intentional – would meet that standard. In any case, in Mr.Comey's testimony to Congress today he said that FBI's examination of the email traffic on Hillary's server contradicted on several points the testimony she had given to Congress under oath. Some members of the committee seemed interested in that information.

Washington ethics watchdog ("FACT") names Hillary Clinton the most corrupt politician of 2015.
It's nice to see someone get the recognition they deserve. On a list of the eight most corrupt politicians of both major parties, Hillary was in a class of her own. She was cited for "overwhelming evidence" of a range of ethics violations and abuses of the public trust, involving the Clinton Foundation, preferential corporate donor treatment as Secretary of State, and campaign violations. Isn't it about time we call a crook a crook?

Visit the Hillary Page:
"Thanks for the Memories"

The true Hillary Clinton is not the construct we see running for president of the United States. Indeed, "true" is not a word we are used to associating with Mrs. Clinton. Her 40 years in the public eye call up vivid memories of scandals and lies, incompetence, bribery and other corruption, financial irregularities, felonious friends, and a supremely embarrassing tour in the White House with a supremely embarrassing husband, "Horny" Bill Clinton, who again is a co-applicant to return to the White House.

For some inexplicable reason, a substantial portion of the Democratic Party's voters seem to have excused Bill and Hillary's past outrages, or – if they're young – they may simply be unaware of the real Hillary, who by now has learned to play nice to the public. Many who do remember the 90's find it astounding that the party cannot find an honest, qualified leader as a candidate for the presidency. The above link should help with recalling the nature of the schemes of the former president and his wife, and their unquenchable and unprincipled lust for power.

It's particularly strange to see both the Democratic and and Republican parties offering us family members of recent presidents as candidates. We have 320 million people in this country. The attempt to convince us that the wife, brother, or son of the president would be the best president reeks of corruption, of improper money influence and maintenance of the political power elite. Family dynasties have been customary in some countries, but it's not a custom we ought to adopt in the U.S.  The effort by Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush to seem and sound "progressive" or "renewing" is a sham and a fraud. One can only hope that the American people will, in the end, not allow themselves to be duped by these slick snake-oil hawkers.

Washington Post: Jim Webb on the need for an Independent President
Webb decries the development of extremism and triviality in our elections, and the partisanship threatening to destroy this country's ability to govern itself.

Poll: Not trusting Hillary
The nationwide Quinnipiac University poll (PDF) sampled eligible voters.

To the question, "Would you say that [candidate] is honest and trustworthy?" – asked about six candidates of both parties, Sanders led the positive responses, while Clinton led the negative responses with 61% "no", and Trump elicited 54% "no" replies.

In an unprompted word association question, the words most often immediately associated with Hillary were 1. "liar", 2. dishonest, and 3. untrustworthy. Most frequently associated with Donald Trump were arrogant, blowhard, and idiot. So it could be an interesting election.

Curious election footnote:
The Washington Post reported (8/5/2015) that Bill Clinton placed a phone call to Donald Trump shortly before Trump declared his presidential candidacy. The former president urged Trump to get more involved in politics, and told Trump he would be a valuable addition to the Republican party's discourse. Clinton may not have urged Trump to run, but he knew Trump was near the moment of decision. Was Clinton sowing the seeds of tumult in the Republican camp? Setting up a perfect foil for his wife's barbs? Dangerous sport, exchanging barbs with Trump.

All text © H. Paul Lillebo