Monday, December 26, 2016

Santa's Belt, Tainted Shrimp and Tainted Art, and Some Thoughts on Religion

                              

Each year at this seaon, the blog includes our traditional holiday story.  Here it is again.

Santa’s Belt  

Jack Lippman

It was that time of the year when things were getting hectic at the North Pole.  Santa and the elves had

been working overtime to make certain that everything would be ready to go on Christmas Eve.  After 

all, children of all ages throughout the world were waiting for Santa to bring them the gifts which they 

had been wishing for, gifts to make their dreams come true.

“Rufus,” Santa called out.  “Are all of the presents ready to load into my bag?  Have our helpers down on Earth, the toy manufacturers, gotten their toys and games ready for the kids?  And how about the parents?  You know, they all have to do their part too!  Hey, we only have a few days left!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Claus,” Rufus replied.  “There won’t be any foul-ups this year.  The toys are all ready to go!”

“And is my sleigh ready?  Are the reindeer in good shape?”

“Don’t worry, Santa,” Rufus reassuringly replied.  “The sleigh has been repainted, the runners greased and the harnesses repaired.  And the reindeer are just fine.  Comet and Cupid are over their colds and the others have even gotten used to Rudolf, who wasn’t even in that poem about us.  Even Donder and Blitzen have calmed down.  Santa, you must stop worrying.  Everything is going to be fine!”

It had been three years since Rufus had been promoted to the position of Chief Elf in Santa’s workshop.  Of course, he had been helping out there for many years but only recently had Santa learned of Rufus’ prior experience working closely with Merlin the Magician centuries ago.  Some of Rufus’ innovations, obviously learned from that apprenticeship with the ancient wizard, had greatly increased the efficiency of Santa’s operation.  For example, it was Rufus who had developed the mathematical formulas which, when put into practice, enabled Santa to defy mere physical laws and be in many different of places at the same time.  Rufus had solved the problem of running out of toys with a procedure which in effect, cloned one toy from another, so Santa’s bag was never empty. And of course, he used a lot of old Merlin’s techniques to ease Santa’s trip up and down chimneys throughout the world, without his red outfit ever getting dirty.  Finally, it was Rufus who convinced Santa to include intangible things such as peace, love, brotherhood and wellbeing among the gifts he left on Earth for those who deserved them.

It was just a few nights before Christmas when Rufus encountered Santa in a state of real panic.

“Santa, what’s the matter?  Why are you holding your waist like that?”

“Can’t you see, you darn fool!  I’m holding my pants up!  If I let go, they’ll fall down.  It happened this morning.  My suspenders snapped and I don’t have a belt big enough to fit around me to hold my pants up.  Rufus, they keep falling down and if we can’t fix them, how can I go out on Christmas Eve?  Rufus, do something to help me!  You must!”

“Now, Mr. Claus” the elf answered, holding back a snicker.  “I can see how this happened.  Come to think of it, I should have seen it coming and done something about it.  I’ve watched the way you’ve been eating all of that delicious food Mrs. Claus prepares for you.  Pies and cakes, chickens and steaks, soups and puddings, pizzas and knishes, pasta and dumplings and on and on.  I’ve seen you put away enough for an army at one sitting and top it off with a banana split and a chocolate bar.   What did you expect?”

“Stop your preaching, Rufus!  What would your Merlin do?  Come on.  Think of something so that I don’t disappoint all the children who’ll be waiting for me on Christmas Eve!  I can’t go out there with my pants falling down!”

“Santa, I don’t think suspenders will do the job for you any more because of the pear shape you’ve developed!  We must to get you a belt big enough to hold up your pants!”

“What do you think I’ve been doing all day?  I’ve been looking for one and there just aren’t any made that big.”

Rufus thought for a minute and stroked his chin.  He then turned his eyes upward and look toward the stars, fixing them on the constellation Orion the Hunter.  In an instant, using a mystic incantation remembered from his days with Merlin, he turned himself into a thunderbolt and flew up into the heavens directly at the strip of stars which formed Orion’s belt.  Grasping as many as he could, Rufus flew back to Earth and fashioned a belt from them for Santa.  The old man, finding for the first time since his suspenders had snapped that he was able to keep his pants up, was ecstatic.   

                             
                      
                              
               Star map showing the constellation, Orion the Hunter

A few nights later, Santa was able to travel his appointed rounds delivering gifts to children of all ages throughout the world.  As he headed back toward the North Pole, he smiled up at the constellation Orion the Hunter, whose belt, as you can see on any clear evening when you look up in the sky, consists of only three stars, which was all that Rufus left up there.


Circling the Earth, Santa made a promise to go on a diet.  He had learned his lesson.  Soon, recognizing the welcoming lights of the workshop far below, the reindeer guided the sleigh into a slow descent and the jovial old man once more waved his hand to the world, crying out, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night, especially to you, Rufus!”
                                       

Shrimp and Art


The one magazine I subscribe to, and read each week, is Bloomberg Businessweek.  
It is far more than just a business magazine.  It also focuses in great detail on technology, politics, economics and almost every other important aspect of our culture.  It even comments on fashion and style.  (Discounted annual subscriptions at about $30 a year for 50 issues are available if you look for them on the internet.)  I get the feeling that the news and articles in it cost far more to produce than what its advertisements and subscriptions take in, and that it must draw upon other resources of Bloomberg’s vast communications network to make it such a fine publication.  I recommend it highly.
      
In any event, last week’s issue included two articles which I would be remiss if I did
not pass them on to this blog’s readers.  One, dealing with tainted seafood, shrimp in
particular, has resulted in my deciding to permanently forgo that tasty delicacy. But 
decide for yourself.  Read the article on contaminated shrimp by clicking right here! 

  
The other fascinating article dealt with art auctions on cruise ships, and made it very clear that a vessel’s gambling casino is not the only place on board a cruise ship where passengers can easily be separated from their money.  You can read that eye-opening article by clicking right here.


After checking out these two articles, I suspect some of you will be doing three 
things … swearing off shrimp, staying away from art auctions on cruise ships and 
possibly subscribing to Bloomberg Businessweek.
JL

                                                            


One Can Be "Too" Religious


Religious beliefs give meaning to life.  Mankind has always wondered how the universe came to be, how “life” was created and what forces govern that “life” as it has evolved over time.  Some say we will never know the full answers to questions like these.  Some say the answers are such that the human mind is incapable of understanding them.  And so, until we have the true answers to such questions, if ever, mankind must depend on faith to satisfy its curiosity. 

The form the organized structure of such faith takes is known as religion.  By believing in religion, any religion, mankind is provided with answers, but they must be accepted as unprovable matters of faith, not requring universally irrefutable evidence.  Proof is not necessary.  Such answers in the form of religious beliefs serve to give meaning to life for some. Others who lack such faith appear to be none the worse for it.  Those who turn to religions are equally comfortable.

Religion takes many forms.  All seek to provide answers and all are equal.  The answers provided by the Roman Catholic Church, for example, are equal to the answers accepted by an illiterate native on a remote Pacific island who worships the vastness of the ocean or a gigantic tree which has been there for generations.  It doesn’t matter what a religion’s beliefs are.  What is important is that the believer is satisfied that he or she has found answers to the “incomprehensible” in that religion’s teachings.

Problems ensue when believers in one religion are strongly convinced that their beliefs are the correct ones and that those who accept what other religions teach are not correctSome are so zealous in their beliefs that they are intolerant of those who believe otherwise.  The word “non-believer,” to them, is no longer merely descriptive but suddenly becomes one of damnation.  Sometimes this can lead to their attempting to deny the right of other religions to exist. This attitude on the part of zealots can even result in the justification of murder of those who believe differently.

As a result, we have had massacres, inquisitions, pogroms and bloodshed in the name of religion throughout history.  The Crusades are an example as are the Shia-Sunni division in Islam and the Roman Catholic-Protestant division in Christianity, all of which involved the killing of people who believed differently.  When the Biblical Israelites entered the Promised Land, they did not treat those already living there kindly.

What I am getting at is that a great deal of the trouble in this world can be blamed on people who believe too fervently in their chosen religion.  To me, that is a greater curse than a total lack of religious belief or having faith in things like witchcraft or devil-worship. 

It appears that of the three major Western "Abrahamic" religions, Judaism and Christianity have matured sufficiently so that they no longer insist on their respective faith’s exclusivity.  Islam, the youngest of the three, has not yet reached that point, and some of its adherents still believe in jihad, a war or struggle against non-believers, which does not exclude violence.  In the Middle East where Islam is dominant, sadly, religious belief and politics are inseparable, complicating the problem. 

A final word of caution: Be careful of those who take their religious beliefs too seriously, putting them ahead of their membership in the human race.  Their zealotry can lead to violence. Religion and its rituals seek to provide comforting answers to questions which are unanswerable for many.  That is good, but that is all it should be. It should never be a justification for violence against those who believe otherwise.

A religion which cannot even tacitly accept the existence of other religions and which denies their right to seek another path to the mountaintop is very dangerous.  It can inspire its most zealous followers to commit heinous acts.  This has been true throughout history, and it remains true today.
JL
                                   
                                                      




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Jack Lippman 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stupid?, Compromises, A Trustworthy Media and the Fifth Chrissy Frost Story




The following comment appeared in my posting of December 12 on this blog:

"Perhaps it is time to stop calling certain Americans “gullible” and state what they really may be: “stupid.” Call it what you may, but it was a quality in the 2016 electorate that the Democrats badly underestimated.  It resulted in millions of voters casting ballots for a candidate whose appointments clearly indicate that they voted against their own interests!"


I must tell you that of the many followers of this blog, only one was sufficiently offended by that comment to pass his thoughts on to me.  I considered apologizing, because this particular individual certainly is not stupid.  But that does not change my opinion of the millions of other voters who did indeed knowingly, and stupidly, vote for a candidate whose positions were clearly not in their own interests, and whose appointments are quickly proving that. How else can they be described?   

And I still reserve the adjective "gullible" for those whose votes for Trump were not primarily for him, but actually against the losing candidate, because they fell for the preposterously overblown email server stories and the unsubstantiated last minute attack by a politicized FBI Director.
Jack Lippman

                                 


A Bundle of Compromises

In our government, as set up by the Constitution and its Amendments, small States are guaranteed a greater voice than their population warrants.  This was intentional so that the large States, in this unification of “states,” would not dominate the government.  We were “united” back then but we were still, and are today although to a lesser extent, a collection of independent “states.”

This manifests itself in the Senate, where each State, regardless of size, has two seats.  In the House, this shows up when one recognizes that a Representative from a large State, such as Florida, represents far more individuals than one from a small State like Wyoming, where the population actually might call for less than one Representative in Congress, an impossibility. 

And since the Electoral College consists of one vote for each of a State’s Senators and Representatives, this small State imbalance in selecting a President continues in the College for all but two States.  In Nebraska and Maine, it is done differently by the choice of these two States.  There the popular winner gets two electoral votes (one for each Senate seat, maintaining that small state advantage) and the popular winner in each Congressional district gets the one vote for that district.  This is more “democratic” than a State’s Electoral votes all going to that State’s popular winner as is the case in the 48 other States.

Some advocate doing away with the Electoral College.  I do not agree with them since that would take away the guarantees given to smaller States in the Constitution.  But I do think the way it is done in Maine and Nebraska is an excellent compromise.  For example, if in a State with 20 Congressional districts, twelve of them voted Republican and eight Democratic, the Electoral votes would be thusly split, twelve to eight.  The total popular vote in the State would determine where the two remaining Electoral votes stemming from the two Senate seats would go.

Think about this the next time you hear talk about getting rid of the Electoral College. Its structure, while not the most “democratic” on a national basis, represents the kind of compromise necessary to cause our fifty “States” to be “United.”  Without the ability to compromise, these United States might not have endured.  Our government is based on separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, balancing each other but all anchored to the structural backbone of the nation, the Constitution.  And that document is a bundle of compromises.  Remember that when we lost the ability to compromise, the Civil War resulted.  
JL

                                     


Trustworthy Media

In view of the declining ability of the media to easily provide Americans with enough information to make intelligent decisions about voting, we are losing the “well-informed electorate” which is essential to democracy according to some of our Founding Fathers’ words.  Much of this is because our journalism depends on an economic base to operate, and that base is shrinking as advertisers drift elsewhere, or have undue influence on what the media presents to the public.  By media, I mean newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet.

Without a trustworthy media, we are no better than Peron’s Argentina, Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia.  People can’t come up with the “truth” without a press that does the job of seeking it out and clearly presenting it. In fact, Russia calls its heavily opinionated major newspaper “Pravda” which translates as “the Truth,” even though its content might be the exact opposite of truth.  Beside government interference, the existence of trustworthy media is also endangered by economic pressures. Media requires money to exist and money talks.

In our nation’s early days, to make certain newspapers survived, our government subsidized them with reduced postage rates and payments for doing the government’s printing work.  Eventually, as increasing advertising revenue reduced the necessity for this kind of support, media became profitable in its own right, but began to lose its trustworthiness.  Ownership and advertising influenced what was disseminated.  Today, print media is collapsing financially while internet, radio and TV media are still seeking ways to attain permanent profitability.  But that profitability is most often thought of as a business goal rather than a means of keeping the public, the electorate, “well-informed.”

Somehow, in this setting, “trustworthy” media must continue to exist.  Public radio and television attempt to fill this role with minimal government assistance.  But that isn’t enough. The Bible (John 8:32) advises us that “Ye shall know the truth and it will make you free.”  I recall that as being on the masthead of a no-longer-existing New York City newspaper and it is engraved on some public buildings as well.  These are very important words for us to consider well beyond their Biblical context.  Without access to “the truth,” democracy will be difficult to preserve.  And that is why independent, unfettered journalism is important.  It must be kept alive.  It is conceivable that government may have to ultimately play a role in guaranteeing this with taxpayer dollars, but there must always remain an impenetrable wall between government and the media.
JL 



Goldfinger

Jack Lippman

(This is the fifth of a series of very short stories featuring Chrissy Frost, singer, senior citizen and Queen of the Condo Circuit.  Who knows, I may combine them into a book.  For the first four installments, check out the postings of July 11, July 27, September 6, and November 10.  In that last one, the reader was introduced to Rocky and Nutsy.   Become a Chrissy Frost fan!)

The Assistant State Attorney introduced Chrissy to the person who was the one who really wanted to talk to her, and then walked out of the room.  Confronting her was a tall, smiling Black woman with the figure of an NFL offensive lineman.  Rising from behind a desk, she grasped Chrissy’s hand, motioning her to sit down.

“I really want to thank you for coming, Ms. Frost.  We just had to get to speak with you.  My name is Cleopatra Cohen.  Don’t laugh, but that’s the name I was born with.  Maybe someday I’ll get to tell you how it came to be, but now, we have to talk. Please call me Cleopatra.  I hate being called Cleo.”

Cleopatra, Chrissy sensed, was the kind of person you could not help but like.

“Okay, but please tell me what this is all about,” Chrissy said.  “And you can call me Chrissy.”

“Fine, Chrissy.  First I want to let you know that I’m a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.  I’m a Fed.  I usually work up north, but they sent me down here to Florida for this assignment.  And it involves you, Chrissy, if you are willing.”

Chrissy nodded.  “Tell me more.  And if I don’t want to hear anymore, I can leave? Isn’t that the way these things usually go?”

“That’s the idea, but I don’t think you will.  You see, we’ve checked you out.  We know your brother died in the line of duty as a cop, so that sort of puts you in the law enforcement family. Listen to me, Chrissy.”

Chrissy leaned toward Cleopatra and listened.  She learned that Nutsy Buttsky, with whom she was having such wonderful times, was a major player at  the Florida end of the heroin pipeline which started a thousand miles across the Caribbean in Columbia and emerged in the dark of the night on lonely beaches on the Sunshine State’s coast.   And Buttsky wasn’t his name either.  It was just one of the many aliases he has used, she learned.  His real name was Isaac Christos O’Leary, Cleopatra explained. 

“He certainly had me fooled,” Chrissy exclaimed. “That’s almost as wild as Cleopatra Cohen.”  But why me?

“Because he likes you.  We’ve been chasing him for years, but he has always been a loner, getting close to no one, except guys like Rocky.  Actually, he met Rocky in prison ten years ago.  We could never work with guys like Rocky, they can’t be trusted, but you’re a different story, Chrissy."

“He’s been in prison?”

“Yes, he did eight years for manslaughter.  He ran down a dealer who cheated him. Struck him with his truck.  Then backed it over him.  An accident, he claimed.  But now, Chrissy, he’s into importing drugs and the stuff he brings in is responsible for a lot of the crimes and deaths you read about in the papers every day.  It’s a dirty business.  We know he has you fooled, but he really is a bad, bad dude. And it looks like you’re closer to him than anyone has been in years.  Can’t figure out why he likes you but, that’s why we’re sitting here talking.”

Chrissy made her decision.  “That son of a bitch, what do you want me to do?”

Cleopatra opened a small box on the desk and pulled out a bracelet, with several semi-precious stones embedded in it.

“Where did you get that?” Chrissy asked.  “That’s one of my bracelets.  I thought I lost it. I’ve been looking for it for a month now.”

“Not exactly, Chrissy.  This looks exactly like the one we managed to lift from you.  We have yours.  Don’t worry.  It’s safe and you’ll get it back.  But we’d like you to wear this duplicate instead.”

Chrissy didn’t know what to think.

Cleopatra continued.  “The purple stone, I think it’s an amethyst, that’s really a GPS sensor. Keep wearing it and we will always know exactly where you are.  And this topaz is a recording device.  All you do is tap it and it starts recording and one of our operators will be listening in.  Tap it again and it stops.  It’ll work for about a hundred hours without a recharge, and I hope this thing is over long before that’s used up.”
“So you got me wired?,” Chrissy asked.

“That’s old-fashioned.  Works with suits and coats, but you really can’t hide a wire down here, the way people dress in Florida.  This is better.”

“So what do you want me to do?”

Just keep on living your life the way you’re doing it, singing for the retirees, seeing O’Leary or Nutsy, or whatever he calls himself now.  If he ever talks about going somewhere, particularly at night, or taking a trip, maybe to a beach, or mentions names, try to record it by tapping the topaz.  Simple enough?  If we want any more help, we’ll let you know.  Now think about this for a minute, Chrissy.  Is all this okay with you?  You could get hurt.  Remember, Nutsy is really a very dangerous criminal.”

“I’m okay with it.”

“One more thing,” Cleopatra added.  “I noticed you have a small flower pot with some impatiens in it by your mailbox.  Do us a favor.  If Nutsy is in the house with you, or you are expecting him, keep the flower pot to the right side, facing the street, of the mailbox.  It he’s not around though, keep it on the left side.  Helps us keep track of where your Nutsy is.  That’s important.”

“You mean O’Leary.”

“Whatever. You can always say you have run out to check your mailbox for something you’re expecting, when you have to switch it.  Okay?  And not a word of this to your sister-in-law or anyone else.  Okay?  When I want to talk more with you, I will get to you.  Don’t worry about that.”

Chrissy nodded again.

“Look, Chrissy.  Technically, Iike they say in the spy movies, I’m your handler.  I’ll be watching you. You’ll be okay.  Don’t worry.”

Chrissy nodded again, and the interview was over.

And that night, when she was performing a midweek gig she had picked up at the Upstairs Lounge at the Isle Casino next to the trotting track down in Pompano, she made sure to think deeply of the lyrics as she sang her opening number, from the 1964 movie of the same name:

“Goldfinger,
He's the man, the man with the Midas touch,
A spider's touch,
Such a cold finger,
Beckons you to enter his web of sin,
But don't go in
Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But his lies can't disguise what you fear,
For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her,
It's the kiss of death from Mister … Goldfinger.”

(To be continued)
 

HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.

Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

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BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

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DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Number 68 of the Federalist Papers

Here's a Special Edition of Jackspotpourri, devoted to Number 68 of the Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton.  It says it all.


Here it is in its entirety.  Federalist Paper Number 68, written by Alexander Hamilton, explained what the intent of the Electoral College was.  It is written in what today may seem to be archaic language, but please, attempt to read it.  Please. Give it some time. Please try to read it all.  (Note that the part about selecting the Vice President was subsequently changed by the Twelfth Amendment.)

The Federalist Papers were a series of articles written by Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison (all three signed the articles, “Publius”), with the aim of getting the State of New York to approve the new Constitution of the United States of America.

Remember that those who wrote the Constitution did not sufficiently trust the people to elect the President. They gave us a republic, not a democracy.  (They were well aware of the bloodshed “democracy” was bringing to France at that time.)  And they did not trust Senators nor Representatives, which the people (or at least those who would have the right to vote) elected, to do it either.  They wanted a “safer” way to select the “Chief Magistrate” which in the Papers is synonymous with the Presidency.  

And here is Alexander Hamilton trying to sell that “safer” way to the citizens of New York.  (The highlighting is mine, not Hamilton’s).  Please read it.  It was important in 1788.  It is important in 2016.



Alexander Hamilton


Mode of Electing the President
From the New York Packet.
Friday, March 14, 1788.

To the People of the State of New York:

THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. The most plausible of these, who has appeared in print, has even deigned to admit that the election of the President is pretty well guarded. I venture somewhat further, and hesitate not to affirm, that if the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent. It unites in an eminent degree all the advantages, the union of which was to be wished for.

It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any pre-established body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.

It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. The choice of SEVERAL, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements, than the choice of ONE who was himself to be the final object of the public wishes. And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias. Their transient existence, and their detached situation, already taken notice of, afford a satisfactory prospect of their continuing so, to the conclusion of it. The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.

Another and no less important desideratum was, that the Executive should be independent for his continuance in office on all but the people themselves. He might otherwise be tempted to sacrifice his duty to his complaisance for those whose favor was necessary to the duration of his official consequence. This advantage will also be secured, by making his re-election to depend on a special body of representatives, deputed by the society for the single purpose of making the important choice.

All these advantages will happily combine in the plan devised by the convention; which is, that the people of each State shall choose a number of persons as electors, equal to the number of senators and representatives of such State in the national government, who shall assemble within the State, and vote for some fit person as President. Their votes, thus given, are to be transmitted to the seat of the national government, and the person who may happen to have a majority of the whole number of votes will be the President. But as a majority of the votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided that, in such a contingency, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates who shall have the five highest number of votes, the man who in their opinion may be best qualified for the office.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: "For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,'' yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

The Vice-President is to be chosen in the same manner with the President; with this difference, that the Senate is to do, in respect to the former, what is to be done by the House of Representatives, in respect to the latter.

The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice-President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous. It has been alleged, that it would have been preferable to have authorized the Senate to elect out of their own body an officer answering that description. But two considerations seem to justify the ideas of the convention in this respect. One is, that to secure at all times the possibility of a definite resolution of the body, it is necessary that the President should have only a casting vote. And to take the senator of any State from his seat as senator, to place him in that of President of the Senate, would be to exchange, in regard to the State from which he came, a constant for a contingent vote. The other consideration is, that as the Vice-President may occasionally become a substitute for the President, in the supreme executive magistracy, all the reasons which recommend the mode of election prescribed for the one, apply with great if not with equal force to the manner of appointing the other. It is remarkable that in this, as in most other instances, the objection which is made would lie against the constitution of this State. We have a Lieutenant-Governor, chosen by the people at large, who presides in the Senate, and is the constitutional substitute for the Governor, in casualties similar to those which would authorize the Vice-President to exercise the authorities and discharge the duties of the President.

PUBLIUS.

Okay, it’s 1788 and you are a legislator in New York State.  Would you vote to approve the Constitution, with the Electoral College as part of Article Two?  Well, you did.

But now it’s 2016, you’re an elector, and you have just read Federalist Paper Number 68.  What are you going to do on Monday, December 19, 2016.


Jack Lippman

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