Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Collegial Codes and Conspiracies

November 20, 2016

A few Tuesdays ago – a day we will all recall for decades to come, if we live that long – I just couldn’t bring myself to watch the election returns. I was disgusted by the campaigning, the candidates, and the pompous potshots by everyone from ants to asshats.

After reading that Nate Silver had the chance of a popular vote/electoral mismatched vote as high as 10% [1] – and hoping to dear God that would not be the case – I squirreled myself safely away from outside earshot of the TV and commenced to thinking about the Electoral College.  Its birth.  Its history.  What it means today.  Then I tapped out a pretty good rough draft of an essay.  A Joe Girard classic format.

The essay was overtaken by destiny. As Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogard) said in Casablanca: It seems destiny has taken a hand. Maybe someday I’ll finish it and publish it.  Here’s what happened.

I tapped my notes out on my ASUS tablet, onto which I’ve installed the Politico app (a well-regarded and usually considered slightly left-leaning news source).  Politico feeds news headlines – usually very, very occasionally – across the bottom of my screen.  After a couple of hours I took a peek.

Virginia for Clinton.  Of course.

Florida for Trump.  Odd, but Okay, not totally unexpected.

North Carolina for Trump.  Less unexpected.

Then the feed that Ohio was looking like a Trump win.  And possibly Pennsylvania too.

Now to Central Time Zone.  Wisconsin looks like a Trump win.

Oh… My… God.  This could really be happening. It IS happening. I saved the draft essay and browsed to the CNN and Fox sites for maps shaded red, pink, purple, sky blue and navy blue.  Some quick math showed Trump with a very plausible path to 270, well before 10PM Mountain Time.

And THAT was the end of the Electoral College essay.


Soon, on December 19, 2016, the 538 Electors from the 50 states, plus DC, will meet in their respective states and District, and cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States of America. Presumably at least 290 will vote for Donald Trump, and 232 for Mrs Clinton, with the destiny of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes STILL not determined at this writing (although it is looking like a slim margin Trump win at the time of this writing).

This is the “Real” Election for President and Vice President.  When we voted for Clinton or Trump (or whomever) on November 8, we were actually voting for an entire slate of Electors who are pledged to vote for those candidates on December 19.

Some people are saying it ain’t over til it’s over; it ain’t over till the fat lady sings; and other such mixed metaphors. Well, they’re right.  That’s how the system works and Mr. Trump is not officially President-elect until those votes are cast.

Before discussing that, let’s talk about who these Electors are.

They are not just Joe and Jane average-citizen who have signed a pledge to vote a certain way, if they should themselves get elected.

They are party loyalists.  The life blood of their respective parties. Almost always they’ve been very active in their state’s political parties.

For example, an elector from California is Christine Pelosi.  The daughter of Nancy Pelosi.

An elector candidate from Maryland is Michael Steele, the (black) former head of the Republican National Party.  [Maryland went for Clinton, so Steele will not be voting as an Elector on December 19].

All potential candidates for Elector are screened by their state parties well in advance of the election. It’s obvious that the main qualification is party loyalty, and the bar for party loyalty – as you can surmise and see from the examples – is very high.

Can you imagine a Pelosi voting for anyone other than Mrs Clinton?

No, of course not.

But for those who simply fall ill at the very thought of a President Trump, let me offer an alternative outcome.  It involves my own wildly conceived conspiracy.

The Electors were chosen, in most cases, well before it was clear that Mr Trump would be the Republican candidate.

Since their selection by their state parties as Electors, an astounding number of Conservatives and Republicans have gone quite public with their disdain for Mr. Trump.  So much, that they did not support or vote for him.  From the ranks of politicians there is, for example, Mitt Romney and all the Bush families. Karl Rove considers Trump “a complete idiot.” Three term South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler didn’t support Trump. Neither did former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman (who lost his seat to comedian Al Franken by a few hundred votes in 2008). John Huntsman.  Christine Todd Whitman.

It’s actually quite a long list, which I will spare you the tedious task of scanning.These are big name Republican politicians who openly did not support Trump.  Trump was publicly shunned.

And then there’s the “conservative” intelligentsia.  Jonah Goldberg, chief editor at at National Review (William F Buckley’s magazine!! For crying out loud) lambasted Trump every chance he got.  Glenn Beck ran far away from the “idiot” Trump.  George Will brilliantly pointed out on a Sunday Talking-heads news show this summer that Trump “has been a Republican for all of about 15 minutes.”

These were the “Never Trump” folks. Their cast was large, significant and influential.

That Trump won without much support from the faithful Right is truly astounding.

But could it also be his undoing?  As most of the Electors were chosen before it was certain that Trump would be the Republican candidate … could they turn the tables on him since so many “Conservatives” and “Republicans” don’t consider Trump a true Republican? Not a qualified representative of their “party of values” to serve as President.

That’s the genesis of my conspiracy theory.

Now, don’t presume that ANY Republican Electors will vote for Mrs. Clinton.  Not gonna happen. Mrs Clinton is stuck at 232 and no petition is going to get her to the 270 needed to be President.

But … What if 37 or more Electors conspired to cast their Presidential vote for someone more … uh, digestible… than Trump?

That would reduce his tally from 306 to 269, or less.  A person cannot be elected President outright by the Electoral College with fewer than 270 votes.

But whom would these 37 (or more) unfaithful Electors vote for, and how would they choose such a person?

Well, consider the Constitution’s provision in such a case. The House of Representatives chooses the next President, and they can only choose from among the THREE candidates who receive the most Electoral votes. [In 1824 John Quincy Adams ran second to Andrew Jackson in the Electoral tally, but was chosen by the House as 6th President, since Jackson did not secure a majority of Electoral votes and was considered, by many, to be too wild and uncivilized to be President.  He eventually did win outright in 1828 and 1832).

Here’s how the House of Representatives chooses: Each state gets only ONE vote.  And a clear majority, that is 26 states, is required.

When the new Congress is seated, next January, the Republicans will have a majority of Congressional seats in about 33 states, the same as now.  Suppose … now just suppose, a band of unfaithful Republican Electors spoke secretly with Republican House leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) and decided to bump Trump.

In this conspiracy, 37 Electors (who are sworn and pledged to vote for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump) break their pledge.  Most vote for the pre-arranged preferred candidate, let’s say it’s Joe Girard.  Ha!! Just kidding.  Let’s say Mitt McCain (another fictional character). Who then comes in third place.

When the votes are sent to Washington, no single candidate has a majority.

The top three candidates are sent to the House for consideration.  And John Romney is chosen.

Yes, this is the stuff of cheap fictional novels.

And it’s not going to happen.

But it IS possible. Trump COULD still be thwarted.

Sincerely, I am your conspiracy theorist …

Joe Girard © 2016

[1] Nate Silver has become something of a highly regarded prognosticator in election season.  I think he’s more of an eccentric and talented statistician.  A wizard with numbers.  Here are a couple of his newsfeeds in the last week before the 2016 election.

(a) http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-odds-of-an-electoral-college-popular-vote-split-are-increasing/

(b) http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/election-update-the-campaign-is-almost-over-and-heres-where-we-stand/

[2] Politico is highly regarded. I take it to be slightly left leaning by this review, and that it’s editorial leadership came from Washington Post. http://www.allsides.com/news-source/politico

Also slightly Left per this research (as well as NPR’s taxpayer funded slight Left lean):



We are all Citizens, but not United

Author’s note: 3/13/2016 — On the occasion of my first visit to Barr Lake State Park, Colorado

We are an organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control.
Through a combination of education, advocacy, and grass roots organization, we seek to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, individual freedom including freedom of enterprise, and national security.
Our goal is to restore the founding fathers’ vision of a free nation, guided by the honesty, common sense, and good will of its citizens. [1]

There are very, very few natural lakes in Colorado, outside of the mountain area. Probably zero. Grand Lake, from which the Colorado River flows, on the western extreme of Rocky Mountain National Park, is the only significantly sized lake in Colorado, but it is in a pretty mountainous area. Fact is: most of Colorado – particularly east of the Rockies – is parched most of the year. Hence: no lakes.

This was a problem for 19th and early 20th century farmers. Creeks and shallow draws would fill with water during spring and early summer snow-melt run-off, only to go mostly dry for most of the rest of the year. Farmers united to form cooperatives and local water management corporations to manage water so that food could be produced for Colorado’s rapidly growing population. And for its growing economy.

Even a mildly casual observer of eastern Colorado’s terrain notices that it is crisscrossed with ditches and pock-marked with man-made lakes. These provide water – with senior and junior water rights – via Western water law. Such laws can appear as twisted as the ditches and canals that were developed along with them.

One of the water gems in the Denver area is Barr Lake. Originally a buffalo wallow [2] near current Brighton and Lochbouie, it was a low draw that gathered water in the spring and early summer, allowing grasses to grow and attracting animals like the bison, rabbits, coyote and hawks. The location gained interest as a potential reservoir when the Burlington & Quincy railroad came through in the early 1880s (a well-used Burlington-Northern line still passes by there).

Over the decades a ditch was dug which drew water from the South Platte River to this low-lying area. The ditch was enhanced and — for a while — others added. A dam was added, and  large reservoirs were built that provided a huge number of benefits. Eventually the reservoirs were joined into a single large water management body of water: Barr Lake.  But the bottom line was it provided a steady supply of water. Water for farmers – at first mostly sugar beet farmers: at the time referred to as white gold. Water for native trees like Cottonwoods to grow. Water attracted waterfowl. Fish came. Eagles, osprey, even seagulls. It became an end-point and a stop-over for migrating birds. A gem.

Since the early 1900s the Barr and Milton Reservoirs have been owned and managed by the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Company (FRICO). FRICO was incorporated in Colorado in 1902, as a corporation with the mission of protecting the water quality, and steadying the quantity, of water available for agriculture in and on the front range of Colorado. This is the beginning of how many of the Farm-to-Table and fresh Farmer’s Markets products get to our tummies every week, every day. Agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry in Colorado. It provides food, and jobs. Barr Lake is central to that.

FRICO manages Barr Lake in coordination with the State of Colorado’s Wildlife and State Park departments. Eagles nest and winter there. Osprey spend their summers there. It is host to an education center and a raptor center. It is the locale of some of the best birding in Colorado. Barr Lake is central to the wonderful wildlife of Colorado’s front range prairies.

Birding at Barr Lake, Brighton, Colorado

Birding at Barr Lake, Brighton, Colorado

Now, I want you to imagine a situation wherein a legislator or executive of the state of Colorado (or the Federal Government) wished to do something to harm the interests of the farmers, nature enthusiasts, and birders of Colorado. Perhaps they wish to allow a little more industrial effluent into the canals that feed the lake. Perhaps lay state’s claim to the water for some use they deem could help raise more tax dollars; like more suburbs.

Would we allow FRICO to speak in defense of the lake? If the politician had a shady past and questionable judgment, would we allow FRICO to allege that the politician had ulterior motives … that they didn’t hold the best interests of our citizens in high priority? Would we allow them to produce a documentary movie?

Hold that thought.

I live in the town of Erie, which is an incorporated Town in the state of Colorado. Naturally, it has a Chamber of Commerce, which is an incorporated corporation in the state of Colorado with the mission to promote the community; to promote its economics, businesses, environment and culture.

Imagine a situation wherein the state has legislators, or candidates for office, who wish to impose their own visions on Erie. More fracking, less fracking. Taking 10% of our water rights for state needs. Revoking access to commercial areas. Limiting annexation possibilities.

Would we allow the Chamber of Commerce to speak in defense of the interests of Erie?

To point out where said politicians had demonstrated poor judgment in the past? To produce and market a movie about said politicians?


For almost all groups of individuals who have some common interest … corporations are formed. Be they Home Owner’s Associations, Labor Unions, Kiwanis Clubs, Optimists Clubs and Rotary Clubs, or Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Some groups, like from the quote atop this essay, wished to inform the public about a candidate for president whom they found especially egregious. The year was 2007 and her name was Hillary Clinton. Do we allow people to express their concern about her qualifications and history? They made a movie about their concerns and were subsequently sued.  The suit ended up in the Supreme Court. In the end — long after the election — they won their case: the freedom to express their views.

You might recognize this as the famous/notorious “Citizens United” case. (Actually Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission). Perhaps not. But the claim (mostly from the Left) is that “corporations aren’t people.” At least insofar as freedom of speech is concerned.

Many are very agitated that “corporations” have a free voice in politics. About how our country is run. I can’t completely disagree with that. I’m concerned too.

Great. Let’s go with that. Let’s shut down free speech for corporations. If free speech and access to deliver a message is bad for Citizens United, and Nabisco and Hersheys and Exxon and Chevron and Monsanto … then it’s bad for the Farmers Irrigation and Reservoir Company, most Chambers of Commerce, most community service organization, Home Owners’ Associations, Unions and …

Let’s hold on a minute. Magazines, and Newspapers and TV stations are corporations. Or they are parts of corporations. They often do the hard legwork of investigative journalism that tells us what is wrong with US politics.

Think early 1970s: Woodward and Bernstein at the Washington Post. Deep Throat. Exposing a sitting president (Nixon) as obstructing justice. A defiled president then resigns in ignominy. And rightfully so!!

If we shut down political free speech by corporations, we are effectively saying that magazines and newspapers and radio programs and TV programs and even on-line blogs have no right to express their opinion. Or attempt to express their opinions. Or make movies …

Because … OMG! … they might be corporations.

Maybe all these “Citizens United” worry-warts are all correct. But it is a very, very slippery slope. Here in the United States we protect freedom of speech, even if it is from a corporation, or from someone whose message we really don’t like.

And if it’s money in politics we’re actually afraid of, remember this: for the 2016 election … no one was better funded than Jeb Bush. After that, it’s the same Hillary Clinton, who has had no problem tripping all over that money and — perhaps fumbling the ball directly into Bernie Sanders’ arms.  Or worse: Donald Trump’s.

I admit to being conflicted. I might be wrong. Yet, even in this case I choose to cling tightly to expansive interpretation of First Amendment rights, which includes freedom to express thoughts and freedom of press — whatever we might construe “press” to mean in this digital era. I welcome your comments, either below or via emails.

Joe Girard © 2016

[1] My adaptation of the mission statement of Citizens United.

[2] Officially, there are no “buffalo” in North America. Any such animals are actually Bison. Still, terms like Buffalo Wallow are commonly used.