The Electoral College Was Meant to Stop Men Like Trump From Being President (The Atlantic)

The Electoral College Was Meant to Stop Men Like Trump From Being President

As Michael Signer explains in his book, the framers were particularly afraid of the people choosing a demagogue. The electors, Hamilton believed, would prevent someone with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. And they would combat “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” They would prevent America’s adversaries from meddling in its elections. The founders created the Electoral College, in other words, in part to prevent the election of someone like Donald Trump.

The Right Way to Resist Trump (NYTimes)

The Right Way to Resist Trump

..the Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair.  Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.

Why is my WiFi slow? (because of a total lack of planning?)

The article Why is my WiFi slow? Why does my WiFi keep dropping out? addresses the technical issues of why WiFi sucks, but just treats the situation as given from G-d.  It’s not.   This is what happens when the mantra of “all government is bad” gets applied to the FCC.  They do nothing and let an essential service develop in a way that’s not reliable.

And, by the way, because the article only covers current problems, it doesn’t talk about one of the bigger technical fiasco’s of the 20th/21st century, the woefully inadequate WEP encryption that was the WiFi standard for more than 10 years.

Report: Government spends billions more hiring contractors over public workers

The article at cbsnews.com exposes the farcical effort to save money by reducing the “size” (number of employees) of the federal government:

“As Washington’s use of private contractors grows, the government is paying those contractors billions more than it would pay their government workers to do the same job, according to a study by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

In an attempt to verify frequently made claims that the government can save money by outsourcing its work, the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight (POGO) compared the total annual compensation for federal (and private sector) employees with federal contractor billing rates.

The group found that in 33 of the 35 occupational categories it reviewed, federal government employees were less expensive than contractors. On average, the federal government pays contractors 1.83 times more than it pays federal employees and two times more than what comparable workers in the private sector are paid.”

Sham justifications of the mass surveillance programs in the US?

A disturbing review of the surveillance programs instituted by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration.   From the NYTimes Op-Ed The Criminal N.S.A. (written by Jennifer Stisa Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and Christopher Jon Sprigman, professor at the University of Virginia School of Law) :

We may never know all the details of the [United States’] mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the government’s professed concern with protecting Americans’ privacy.

And from Al Gore (from an article in an IEEE journal):

[The NSA surveillance] in my view violates the Constitution…. The Fourth Amendment language is crystal clear. It isn’t acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the Constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is.

Amtrak’s 15 little-traveled longer routes lose nearly $600 million each year. Northeast routes, earn an operating profit of some $205.4 million

From The Washington Post Wonk Blog (by Brad Plummer):

The best way to think of Amtrak is that it’s essentially two different train systems rolled into one. One system is quite successful, the other isn’t.

First, there are Amtrak’s shorter passenger routes that run less than 400 miles and tend to connect major cities. Think of the Acela Express in the Northeast, or the Pacific Surfliner between San Diego and Los Angeles. These 26 routes carry four-fifths of Amtrak’s passengers, or 25.8 million riders per year. And they’re growing rapidly. Taken as a whole, these shorter routes are profitable to operate — mainly because the two big routes in the Northeast Corridor earn enough to cover losses elsewhere.

Then there are Amtrak’s 15 long-haul routes over 750 miles. Many of these were originally put in place to placate members of Congress all over the country, and they span dozens of states. This includes the California Zephyr route, which runs from Chicago to California and gets just 376,000 riders a year. All told, these routes lost $597.3 million in 2012.

Brookings has a neat interactive tool that lets you scrutinize each of Amtrak’s routes, looking at how many passengers they carry and how much money they make (or lose) each year.

Graphical breakdown of $12.7 trillion added to the national debt over the past 10 years

A section of the graphical table showing what caused the increases in the national debt over the past ten years. Blue sections represent Obama’s policies. Red sections represent Bush policies.

From the WhiteHouse.gov blog Where does our national debt come from :