My Name is Earl - Electoral College discussion

TV Arts

"That must be some black stuff."  ;)

This show has more gags per minute than any show I've seen in the last 
decade.  (a caveat: I never saw "Arrested Development"; I hear that one 
is funny too)

Good little bit, wasn't it! The black guy was the only one who had an
ounce of intelligence about voting .. must be by the Repubs try so hard
to keep them away from the polls! ;-)

P.S. Arrested Development is great, too. It's ending, though, so just
wait and see them all on DVD next year. Worth your time.
Except that he doesn't seem to realize that the US is a representative
form of government, not a pure democracy where "majority rules". Or
that the main purpose of the EC is ensure that the minority is not
rolled over by an entrenched majority.

On the other hand, Crab Man is just a TV character assigned a single
throw-away line. So I'll cut him some slack on those points.
"Except that he doesn't seem to realize that the US is a representative

form of government, not a pure democracy where "majority rules". Or
that the main purpose of the EC is ensure that the minority is not
rolled over by an entrenched majority."

No, it was a device created to allow the slave states their unequal
representation (the "3/5's" rule--remember?) which evolved after the
Civil War into a device to allow Republicans to steal elections.
You are aware, aren't you, that Abe Lincoln was the first Republican

And apparently you have forgotten that there were no slave states after
the War Between the States. The 3/5's rule was there before the first
state approved the Constitution in order to keep the more populous
Southern states from dominating the smaller northern states. The
Fourteenth Amendment abolished the 3/5's rule to allow the
carpetbaggers to steal elections.

So you pretty much have everything backwards.
Congratulations on being half right. At least you correctly identified
the "3/5's rule" as a tool for apportionment, not as a valuation of the
slaves as people.

But what was being apportioned was each state's number of
representatives to Congress. Any effect on the Electoral College was
indirect and peripheral.

As far as the EC "evolv(ing)... into a device to allow Republicans to
steal elections", that is only post-2000 revisionist blather. After
all, the Electoral College put Bill Clinton into the White House TWICE
even though he never won more than about 43% of the popular vote.
And each state was alloted one elector per representative*. The basic
effect of that was that the slave states were alloted more
representatives per voter than the free states, and that their
representation in the college was greater in proportion. Thomas
Jefferson received fewer popular votes than John Adams, but won the
election thanks to that 3/5s rule, as did most of the Southern
As for stealing elections, every instance of a popular vote winner
being denied the Presidency by the college benefited the candidate best
described as conservative.
Go on describing the US as a representative republic, rather than a
base democracy, and see what that gets you in an election. It's an
evasion practiced by people who like to deny the basic fact of American
democracy--we don't vote for Edmund Burke here.

*"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the
several States which may be included within this Union, according to
their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the
whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a
Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all
other Persons."
For the value of "representative" that includes both members of
the House and the Senate.  No state could ever have less than
3 electors.

The Southern states wanted bondsmen to be counted at 100% for the
purposes of representation, but balked at having their market value
so fully calculated for purposes of taxation.  Nothing in the 3/5ths
Compromise prevented a Southern State from allowing slaves to
be freed, in which case they would be counted at 100%. Remember
that in those days there were plenty of free men who couldn't vote,
mainly due to property qualifications, which varied from state to

I guess that telling the truth is a handicap to victory. :)

The U.S.A. is a constitutional republic with democratic
(The House), aristocratic (The Supreme Court and the Senate),
and even monarchical elements (The Presidency).  Even today's
"Democratic Party" started out as "The Republicans."

I'm more Lockean than Burkean, but a surprising number of
American conservatives hold Burkean values, even if they don't
know it.

* See the debate @

What was really odd about the Crab Man's EC objection is that
local elective offices are the least encumbered by restrictions that
some see as anti-democratic, theoretically.  In practice, machine
politics have gummed up the works in many a county, but the
episode never mentioned any problems like that in Camden.

As I said, an indirect and peripheral result.

Even if that's true (and even if we stipulate the meaning of
"conservative"), so what?

Let's see, the US is a republic, check... and we elect representatives
to enact our laws, check... yep, "representative republic" is still a
better description of our form of government than "base democracy",
whatever that is. Not an evasion, simply a statement of fact, though I
will admit your Edmund Burke reference eludes me.
He did, however, win pluralities; no one else received more votes.
(For the record, I'm merely noting a distinction between those
elections and the 2000 election.  I'm not criticizing the Electoral
College system.)
It always amuses me how many hold to conspiracy theories about the GOP
stealing elections.  I guess not many remember or don't bother with history.
The patron saint of the Democrats, one John F Kennedy, won one of the most
iffy elections in history.  There were stories of dead people voting in
Lyndon Johnson's Texas, Joe Kennedy going through counties in W Virginia
handing out cash.  Then the Chicago machine of Mayor Daley is legendary for
voter fraud.  So much so jokes were coined about it.  "I want to be buried
in Chicago so that I can stay politically active after I die."

The big difference, as far as I can see, in the JFK victory of 1960 was the
GOP didn't whine incessently about it for the next 8 years.

"Vote Early, vote often".
I just read your whining 45 years after the fact.
Are you that stupid that you take someone pointing out a fact from history
as whining?  I'm not the GOP either nor am I registered as a Republican.
Let's see.  That election was in 1960, and now it's 2005.

Hmm.  Isn't that more than 8 years?
Except for the GOP whining about it, you seem to have a fair grasp of their
being a number of years in history at least.
Nixon was ready and willing to challenge the Chicago vote. Then someone
reminded him that it would mean a Democratic challenge of the downstate
vote, and he gave up that idea. (Yeah I know, the rural vote is marked
by virtue and honesty. Don't live in the sticks, do you?)
Since Chicago is like New York City and far outnumbers the rest of the
state, challenging the areas outside of the city wouldn't have achieved very
much.  The "someone" who told bascially told Nixon to let it go was the
Republican party.   Meanwhile, the Democrats will shortly be in year 6 of
their continued whine-fest about the Bush administration and how this
Presidency is bogus.
Democrats are also:
* trying to get minors (<18 years old) the right to vote
* trying to get felons the right to vote
* trying to get illegal immigrants the right to vote

  Illegal immigrants are already counted in the census and
have altered the representation in the U.S. House & electoral
college.  California has been the biggest beneficiary.

As far as I know the Democratic party has adopted none of these 
positions.  I'd love it if you could prove any of this.

That said, ex-convicts should have the right to vote.  (Once they're off 
probation, anyway.)  Most states' policies in this regard are based 
post-Reconstruction laws intended to keep black folk out of the voting 
booth.  In the present day, such laws do have just that effect.  And 
besides keeping actual ex-cons from voting, we've seen that 
(intentionally?) inaccurate record-keeping has disenfranchised thousands 
of others as well.  Just ask President Gore about that one.

I'd love to see proof of this as well.  I doubt this argument just 
because of the sheer size of the state.  I would therefore bet that 
Arizona or some smaller state has been the biggest beneficiary.
So would I -- but in a political newsgroup, not here in a TV 
The Democratic party hasn't officially adopted these as 
part of a nationwide platform (yet), but local Democrats are 
the ones pushing to expand voting rights to these groups.  
You can do your own research (tip: California, Massachusetts,
New York).

   I don't care about the origin, I think it's a good idea 
to keep FELONS from difficult is it NOT to commit
a felony?!  Such laws only keep FELONS (black & white) out 
of the voting booth, not "black folk".  How do you think
law-abiding black folk would benefit if black felons voted?

  I'd prefer fixing the innaccurate records instead of 
giving felons the right to vote.  Should violent felons
be given the right to own firearms after they serve their

   I saw the story on CNN(?) a while back.  They said CA was 
the biggest beneficiary and had gained 22(?) seats in the U.S.
House of Reps.  And to gain those seats, other states lost

First of all, assuming that all convicted felons were 100% guilty,
which we have found out is not true in every case (sometimes decades
after the fact, through such devices as DNA testing), they still should
have a say.  They know first hand the conditions in prison and should
be able to express their opinions electorally.

Are you saying that anyone convicted of a felony should be
(metaphorically) branded for life as such.  If someone participates in
an armed robbery of a store when 19, goes to jail for 3 years and is
released, should they never be allowed to vote the rest of their lives,
even if they live cleanly after that?

Oh please.  You know that's a terrible analogy.  Even that I would say
should be time limited.  If they have a clean record for, for example,
15 years after their time, I would say that they could apply and be
reviewed and possibly be granted a license to own a gun again.
Apparently forgiveness, rehabilitation and redemption are not part of
that poster's vocabulary. I know, it's just whiny liberals that don't
want to discard people like garbage.
[email protected] 
I know, it's just whiny liberals that don't want to discard people like
I guess you fall into the Scarlett Letter camp, eh? Brand them for

I believe if they've served their time and are off parole/probation it
seems inhumane to deprive a felon of the right to vote.

Good lord, at least many of them will have earned their GED which so
many legal voters seem not to have.
There's not a set number of representatives so other states don't lose 
them more than they lose poplulation. What increases the number in all 
states is a gain in population, whether it's by birth, people moving in 
from other states, or immigration. Legal or illegal.

The number of members in the US House of Representives 
has been 435 since 1929.  I'd say that is a set number.

Each state has at least one member of Congress, or 3 when
the US Senate is included.

Fewer than 10 states have a single member in the US House.
California had 52 US House members in 2002.
No, you're the one who made the assertion.  You prove it.

Let's see if I can come up with some reasons:  1) Many ex-cons are now 
law-abiding black folk.   2) 13% of black men are disenfranchised under 
current law 
regular black folk share a lot of concerns with these other brothers; 
3)W would be screwing up Texas rather than the entire planet right about 
now.  (This one benefits blacks, whites, Latinos, Inuits, Samoans, 
Pomaks, Slavs, Arabs, Israelis, sons of Adam, daughters of Eve, and 
Muggles alike.)

...but that will never happen, because it's a source of corruption.  The 
effort involved to keep 100% accurate records - the only acceptable goal 
here - is too large for states to handle.  There are always mistakes in 
the felon list, and there's really no way for voters to keep track of 
this themselves.  More troubling, mistakes in this list tend to affect 
one party (Democrats) more than the other.  So there's a natural 
political incentive for Republican officeholders not to do too good of a 
job of correcting the problem.

I'd agree that firearms are a different matter altogether.  And I might 
agree that violent ex-cons shouldn't get the right to vote back at depends.  But the blanket policy is no good.

Most states have policies allowing most ex-cons to petition to get their 
suffrage rights back, so states don't think that it should always apply 
to all ex-cons.

I am strongly in favor of a national ID of some sort that would handle 
most of these issues.  But there's so much opposition to accurate gov't 
record-keeping that I don't think that will ever happen.

That assertion is false on its face.  California has 53 seats in the 
house.  You're asserting that 22 of 53 seats are due to illegal 
immigration? So almost every other Californian is an illegal alien? 
Don't think so.

Perhaps CA had gained 2 seats (rather than 22).  That's a more 
believable figure.  Even so, 2 seats out of 53 is not more substantial 
than, say, 1 seat of AZ's 8 (for example).  That's the main point I was 

I had no idea the Crab Man could start such an argument.
Nah, you can pretend to be surprised when you finally see/hear
a news story about <18yo or non-citizen voting initiatives.

  Was the law regarding felons voting enacted before he/she
committed the crime?  If there are cases of a voting restriction
being passed after he/she was arrested, those felons should
not be subject to the new restriction.  
  Once again, how difficult is it to NOT commit a felony?

  Because they are convicted felons, not because they are
black men.  There should be less disenfranchised black men
because of a lower crime rate, not because the number of
black felons are seen as a significant voting bloc.

  I'm sure they do share concerns with the truly reformed
felons.  Regardless, ex-cons have free speech & freedom 
of association (after probation) and can donate time & money 
to any cause they choose.  Black ex-cons can easily help
their community by getting involved.

Wow, I thought I was pessimistic.<G>  There's corruption
"everywhere" many fights against corruption should
be abandoned because giving up is easier than fixing

There are methods to correct errors in the list and to make
exceptions for certain convicted felons.  A real ID system 
or a nationwide voting procedure would reduce the number 
of mistakes, also.

   We'll have to agree to disagree...  
   I think if some felons get the right to vote after "serving 
their time" and "paying their debt to society", the only fair 
solution would be a blanket policy affecting all convicted 
felons.  They are either free citizens again (including 
voting & firearm ownership) or they are not.

But the default position is to restrict felon voting and fix 
problems that arise.

I teeter back and forth on a national ID...  Sometimes, I see it
as the ultimate solution that will solve multiple problems.  Other
times, I see it as one big potential for invasion of privacy or
a method to restrict freedom of movement if the gov't chooses.
But, being a pessimist, I assume all the proper dead people in 
Chicago would acquire the new ID and continue voting.<G>

You're right, my number was way off.  California has "only" 
gained 3 seats in the U.S. House due to non-citizens/illegal 
residents being counted.  Other states have gained 1 or more
and all those gained seats were lost by other states.

And it wasn't even a funny line.  Joy's reply and Earl's
reaction made the scene.<G>  I don't think we're arguing,
just disagreeing...a real internet argument would've sunk
to us calling each other nazis by now...

Well, boo-hoo. Your quarrel apparently is with the Constitution, 
which from 1789 directed allocating representatives according to the 
"whole number of free persons" (Art I sec 2), modified by the XIV 
Amendment to "the whole number of persons".
1) That doesn't change the fact that illegals are affecting
   the representation of U.S. citizens in the government.
2) I doubt if the founders or post-Civil-War citizens thought
   there would be MILLIONS of illegals colonizing the country 
   combined with MILLIONS more non-citizens affecting the 
   distribution of House seats and gov't funds while American
   citizens just watched.
3) My 'quarrel' is with modern politicians (Reps & Dems) who 
   are not doing their jobs and with Americans who don't 

And exactly what have you, personally, done to change things. I mean,
other than display your racism here?

Of course the founders were not concerned with illegal aliens - they
were still fighting Indians on the frontier.
LOL! True. The founders *were* the illegal aliens.
I've only donated money and written letters...but what in the 
world did I say that gets me labled a racist?!

Don't you mean Native Americans, you racist?
That was my point...the founders considered a lot of different
scenarios, but didn't foresee a situation in which enough
foreigners/non-citizens lived in the U.S. to affect the 
political representation of U.S. citizens.

No, he means Indians. (The feather kind, not the dot kind.)
[email protected] (Roger Blake)
Indians. (The feather kind, not the dot kind.)
Whether Kennedy benefitted from electoral fraud (and he did) or George
Junior benefitted from electoral fraud and a conservative Supreme Court
(and he did) is irrelevant to any discussion of whether we should have
an electoral college.  Based upon the facts and any rational train of
thought, anyone with a knowledge of history and the ability nto think
for themselves should  be for the abolishment of the electoral college.
 It was there to appease the states of small population and the slave
states.   The question is, why should the minority dicrtate to the
majority?  They should not.

Of course, the mainority needs to be protected against the majority as
well.  Which is why we have a judicial branch of government, which the
the righties seem to want to shut down.

I've long since come to the conclusion that people in masses are
ignorant, stupid, or assholes.  

How quickly you have forgotten what FDR did to the Supreme Court to
bring it under his control. 
This last sentence/paragraph explains exactly why we have, and need,
the electoral college.
Technically, what he threatened to do.  There is no guarantee he would
have succeeded.  Also, hadn't the number of justices been increased

I did not forget and while I agree wholeheartedly with FDR's policies,
I agree that badmouthing them and threatening to pack the court with
people supportive of his plans was incorrect.

As an aside, the belief in "freedom to contract" held by the Court at
the time was pretty twisted in that it did not take into account power
disparities between the contractors or the effective collusion that
goes into market prices for labor services.

You appear to be under the assumption that that the electoral college
is free from people with the above traits.
No, the judicial branch does not exist to "protect" anyone. That is the
function of the executive branch in its law enforcement role.

The judicial branch exists to interpret the law, like a referee. And
like a referee, it is not the job of the judicial branch to pick
winners and losers, just to make sure the game is played by the rules.
Then you agree that we stiffer regulations on businesses and
corporations with respect to such matter as the environment, labor, and
occupational safety?  That's the alternative to a strong judiciary.

Constitutionally, the judiciary is one of the three branches of
government.  It is not subservient to the other two.

That's up to the legislative branch. And it's up to the voters to elect
a legislature to pass the laws the voters would like to have in place.
Of course those rascally voters often have to be convinced that stiffer
regulations are actually to their own benefit.

Nor is it superior to the other two.
Two words: nationwide recount
[email protected] 
the main purpose of the EC is ensure that the minority is not rolled
over by an entrenched majority.
As long as Democrats keep believing things like that they'll keep
losing national elections. So keep it up.
"Earl" is probably one of the best shows I've seen in a while, along
with "The Office" and "Everybody Hates Chris". Interesting how all the
sitcoms I'm watching have no laugh tracks. Anyways, I'm still cracking
up over the "Hostess snack wedding cake" from last week's episode.
I don't think that's a coincidence.
[email protected] (It's about time) <<<Arrested Development is
great, too. Worth your time.>>>
"Earl" is probably one of the best shows I've seen in a while, along
with "The Office" and "Everybody Hates Chris". Interesting how all the
sitcoms I'm watching have no laugh tracks.