My Conversation With A Trump Elector

12th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "... if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President...."

12th Amendment: “… if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President….”

After an unprecedented campaign, the Electoral College will meet in the 50 state capitols and the District of Columbia to choose the next President. While three million more people voted for Clinton than Trump, 306 of the electors are from states won by Trump. Now, the National Security Agency and the CIA report intelligence showing that Putin directly intervened in the election on the behalf of Trump, and over 70 electors have requested intelligence briefing to see the evidence and understand the extent of Trump’s involvement. If 12% of the Republican delegates abstain or vote for anyone other than Trump, then Trump will lack the 270 electoral votes necessary to be immediately elected President.

At that point, the House of Representatives will choose between the three candidates with the most electoral votes. These three would presumably be Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and whoever else has the most electoral votes.

Last week I had the idea to order DVDs of the 2004 film Manchurian Candidate – a fictional story of a candidate who is the puppet of a foreign country – and mail it to various Republican electors in the hopes of spurring a conversation about the allegations regarding Trump’s ties to Putin.

I sent the DVDs with the following brief message
msg1

Republican elector Charles Buckels of Lafayette, Louisiana responded by email as follows:

From: Charlie Buckels
Date: Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 1:26 PM
Subject: Thanks for the DVD
Good movie. Have you seen Hillary’s America? It’s a better movie and it’s not fiction.
As BHO said, “elections have consequences”. We won, you lost. Get over it. If it would make you feel better I’d be happy to send you a participation trophy.
Even you will benefit from the opportunities that will be available TO ALL during the next 8 years of the Trump administration followed by 8 years of the Pence administration.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas
I’ll be proudly voting for Donald J Trump of New York

I responded:

Thanks for writing. I agree that elections have consequences: Hillary ran a mediocre campaign and lost . I for one am not asking you to vote for her, and I doubt she’ll run for elected office again.
However, if Trump was involved with any of the Russian hacking then he should not step one foot into the White House.
I have no way to tell if the rumors about Trump are true, but you do.
You and your fellow electors should ask for an intelligence briefing and find out if there is credible secret evidence that Trump is involved in high crimes or misdemeanors.
Please see if you can get the kind of briefing that convinced so many Senators on the foreign intelligence committee then decide for yourself. I don’t know what the secret evidence shows since I am just a citizen.
Afterwards, if you are not convinced, then you should vote for Trump and Pence as Louisiana has urged you to do in great numbers.
If on the other hand it no longer appears to you that Trump can be trusted to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” then please vote your conscience and write-in the candidate of your choice. Perhaps you could write-in Pence for President (as well as Vice-President). Alternatively, you could keep your ears open and see what Republicans are getting chosen in the various states that vote before Louisiana. (I have the schedule.) You might want to support one of them in order to ensure that he ends up among the top three finishers who the House of Representatives will chose among.
Never having been in Indiana I don’t know too much about Pence, but if you are looking forward to a Pence administration, then in the event you find the classified evidence about Trump convincing, why not start 8 years of Pence right away!
I am available if you want to discuss this further. I would be glad to talk to you by phone or come out to see you in Lafayette or meet you in Baton Rouge.
Thanks again for devoting your time and energy to our democratic process.

Charlie Buckels, a Republican elector for Louisiana.

Charlie Buckels, a Republican elector for Louisiana.

After Shabbat, I found the following note from Buckels in my inbox:

I wonder if you were this concerned when BHO told the Russian official on an open mic to let Putin know that he, BHO, will have more flexibility after his reelection.
The Russians didn’t create her emails. Even you said she lost due to a bad campaign..
Donald J. trump will be sworn in on Jan 20th. I’m really happy about that. We have a good chance now to recover from the damage that BHO did to our country.

Just and Rightful Authority

Every Shabbat, just after the Torah service, most Conservative synagogues recite the Prayer for Our Country, written by Rabbi Louis Ginzberg. Part of this prayer has troubled me since I first encountered it in 1998. I and others were independently led to “invent” an abridged, but more inclusive version of this prayer, by omitting three key words. [Read more…]

Rep. Elijah Cummings Inspires Voters and Volunteers in West Philadelphia

Pennsylvania is the keystone of the Clinton campaign’s legendary “fire wall” and maximizing the turnout in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia is key to victory in Philadelphia. Accordingly, the city of brotherly love has been graced by a who’s-who’s of luminaries in the Democratic Party.

For example, yesterday singer Katy Perry performed to a packed house at the Mann Center and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Bob Casey, Cory Booker and Madeleine Albright.

Tomorrow, it will be Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen’s turn to perform on Independence Mall, along with Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Today, campaign volunteers canvassed neighborhoods all around Philadelphia, knocking on more doors than the rest of Pennsylvania combined. They were encouraged in this effort by Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard County, Maryland. He dropped by the West Philadelphia Democratic Campaign Field Office at 1575 N. 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. After rallying the eager volunteers, he visited local churches to greet the congregants.

Bill Clinton Stumps for Hillary in Main Line

Bill Clinton addresses volunteers in Ardmore, PA campaign office

Bill Clinton addresses volunteers in Ardmore, PA campaign office. Photo: Joel Parlish Photography

Hillary Clinton was busy yesterday preparing for her final debate with Donald Trump (this evening in Las Vegas), but the campaign was far from idle with her surrogates mobilizing voters in swing states (and red states which have turned purple like Arizona and Texas).

Her husband Bill Clinton headlined a rally at Montgomery Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and then visited campaign offices in Ardmore and Bristol to speak to the volunteers in this swing state who will be key to electing Hillary as the 45th President of the United States.

As rumors spread that Bill Clinton was in town, the Ardmore campaign office at Lancaster and Cricket Avenues was packed shoulder to shoulder in the unseasonable 84° heat. Bill Clinton drew distinctions between his wife’s Stronger Together campaign with Trump’s divisive politics where victory by some can only be had at the expense of others. He lauded his wife’s ability to get bipartisan support for her major initiatives such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which enjoyed the support of about two-thirds of both chambers of Congress.

[Read more…]

Vote for Presidential Debate Question: Torture

The Commission on Presidential Debates is asking people to vote on questions to ask Clinton and Trump. We have proposed a question relating to the limits on the kinds of orders which a president can issue as commander-in-chief.

When should the generals refuse a direct order from the president?
Can the military disobey an order from the president if they believed a preemptive strike requires Congressional authorization or an interrogation technique violates the Geneva convention?

Vote here.

We believe this question is especially relevant since Donald Trump insisted at the Fox News Debate last March that he can bully the generals into following illegal orders.

FOX HOST BRET BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.

So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

DONALD TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding.

This really started with Ted, a question was asked of Ted last — two debates ago about waterboarding. And Ted was, you know, having a hard time with that question, to be totally honest with you. They then came to me, what do you think of waterboarding? I said it’s fine. And if we want to go stronger, I’d go stronger, too, because, frankly that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.


Similarly, Trump promised to attack the Iranian navy if their soldiers make rude gestures.

And, by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people, that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.

Perhaps a reasoned discussion of the limits of presidential authority are in order before we get to a constitutional crisis where our military leaders have to choose to follow their commander-in-chief or the law. Heaven help us if they disagree on what to choose.

The moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz have agreed to consider the most popular questions, so please vote. Consider it practice for November 8.

Trump Is Unreliable for Israel, GOP National Security Officials Say

Continuing in the trend of widespread condemnation of Donald Trump from longtime GOP foreign policy and defense officials, a group of several current and former senior Republican officials on Thursday expressed significant concern over their party’s presumptive nominee and his positions regarding Israel. In a letter from GOP national security experts published earlier this week, signatories declared Trump would be “the most reckless president in history.”

[Read more…]

Getting Sets Quickly in Columbus

Available at the special price of $21 through 9/15/2016 with discount code EX097

Available at the special price of $21 through 9/15/2016 with discount code EX097

Hannah Gordon won the championship for the game Set in 2006 the one time it was held. She returned to Columbus, Ohio, this week with her parents Liz McMahon and Gary Gordon, for the Mathematical Association of America MathFest 2016. She challenged conference attendees to the game. In the unlikely event she were to be defeated, attendees would get a free copy of their book The Joy of Set.
[Read more…]

PA Veterans Find Trump’s Remarks Offensive

Ahead of Donald Trump’s event in Mechanicsburg on Monday, Pennsylvania veterans condemned Trump’s offensive remarks and called on Trump to apologize to a Gold Star family he personally attacked multiple times over the weekend.

Donald Trump has attacked the US Armed Forces repeatedly: Calling it weak and ineffective, accusing our soldiers of stealing reconstruction money from Iraq, and denouncing prisoners of war for being captured.

Congressman Chris Carney, a former Commander in the United States Navy Reserve:

Folks like me who have served this country honorably for many years are absolutely disgusted at Donald Trump and what he said about those who have sacrificed for this country. It is clear Trump has neither the temperament nor the experience to be Commander-in-Chief and to lead the forces of the United States – especially when we have such complex issues bedeviling the country and the world right now. It is unfathomable that a man like that would want to sacrifice the honor of the military for his ego. Anybody who looks at this objectively will realize that Donald Trump is as hollow as it gets when it comes to being Commander-in-Chief.

Donald Trump has called for the military to violate the Geneva Convention’s ban on torture and conduct reprisal killings of the family members of enemy soldiers and terrorists: “We’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable.”

However, as retired Army Major General Gale Pollock pointed out, our soldiers have all taken an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” and are required to refuse illegal orders.

We asked Pollock what protocol troops and officers are trained to follow if they are given an illegal order. She responded that you are supposed to raise the issue with the person who gave the order and explain why you believe the order to be illegal. If this does not solve the problem, then the issue must be brought up the chain of command. This is why the question of illegal orders issued by the commander-in-chief is especially problematic. To whom could our military appeal to countermand such illegal orders? This would raise the specter of a constitutional military-civil crisis where our military leaders were forced for the first time in US history to ignore the orders of its civilian leadership.

“After 36 years in the Army, I believe very strongly in the values we share in the military. Loyalty duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” said I think we have seen a trend of the military being insulted, whether it’s our prisoners of war, men who sacrificed their lives, or veterans. I am just really troubled by this, and I think it’s important we recognize that these behaviors, these accusations are unacceptable for a leader in America. Pennsylvanians respect the men and women who serve. And I would hope that many of us would be offended by the continued insults against our military that Mr. Trump has offered.


Last week, Mr. Khizr Khan the father of a Muslim American war hero gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention. He also called out Donald Trump’s offensive and divisive religious discrimination that would have prevented their son – an Army captain who gave his life to save other soldiers in his unit – from even entering the United States of America.

Fmr. Navy Lt. Commander Manan Trivedi was the battalion surgeon with the first units to cross the Iraq border in 2003.

Frankly, I find Donald Trumps latest rhetoric disgusting, disgraceful and reprehensible towards veterans. It’s just one more piece of proof that he lacks any kind of judgement to be our Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand the ultimate sacrifice that people like Captain Khan and so many others have made. For Donald Trump to denigrate his family and service is beyond the pale.

For him to attack a mother who is still grieving for her son. It’s shameful.

This is not the first time for Trump. Remember his comments about Senator John McCain. Time and time again, Trump has insulted our veterans, and our men and women in uniform deserve better.

Meanwhile, Trump’s most vitriolic supporters are praising him for refusing to apologize to the Khans including Trump’s advisor Roger Stone who called Khizr Khan a “Muslim Brotherhood agent”. Similarly, the white nationalist video blogger Ramzpaul and the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer spouts hatred:

So, an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan infiltrates the US military, with the intent of getting high-quality training to use in his jihad against Whites, and also perhaps for the purpose of sabotage, and accidentally gets his dumbass killed.

And now, the Jews tell us we’re supposed to celebrate him as a hero? Just because he’s dead? […]

I am hereby calling for the Khan family to be immediately deported to Pakistan. What’s more, I want their terrorist son’s body dug up and shipped back with them.

This terrorist filth has no more right to rot in our ground than he had to walk on it.

Trump’s comments on the Khan family are the latest in a series of his disrespectful rhetoric and record aimed at American veterans and military families such as lying about donations to veterans’ charities, firing employees because of their military service and verbally attacking prisoners of war.

At Democratic National Convention the Sky is the Limit

People have come to Philadelphia from all over the country to attend the Democratic National Convention (DNC). In addition, the international press has followed our election, and the delegates from Democrats Abroad represent American expats who voted in over 140 countries.

_87569069_c0097730-international_space_station,_2009-splWhile interest in the convention spans the globe, the DNC may be having an additional observer pass overhead. The International Space Station (ISS) will be flying 249 miles over Philadelphia at 9:20 pm, from West-Southwest to Northeast, rising to 19° from the zenith, probably around the time that Chelsea will be getting ready to introduce her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States by a major political party.
[Read more…]

Meet the Most Senior PA Delegate: Benjamin Franklin

Ralph Archbold as Benjamin Franklin at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Ralph Archbold as Benjamin Franklin at the National Museum of American Jewish History

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice bumped into Pennsylvania’s most senior delegate at the National Museum of American Jewish History, before the Bend the Arc reception during the Democratic National Convention. To our delight, Benjamin Franklin took the opportunity to chat with us about the convention and his relationship with the Jewish community. [Read more…]