Election to the Senate

Louis C. Wyman (RNew Hampshire) was declared the victor of the US Senate contest in 1974 in New Hampshire by a narrow margin on Election Day (355 votes). A first recount gave the election instead to John A. Durkin (DNew Hampshire) by ten votes, but a second recount swung the result back to Wyman by only two votes. The state of New Hampshire certified Wyman as the winner, but Durkin appealed to the Senate, which had a sixty vote Democratic majority. The Senate refused to seat Wyman while considering the matter. After a long and contentious debate in the Senate, with Republicans filibustering attempts by the Democratic majority to seat Durkin instead, a special election was held, with Durkin winning handily and becoming Senator.Wikipedia

I suppose the 1974-1975 debate over seating a Senator from NH took place in the newly elected Senate . Democrats were in the majority before and after the 1974 election; Mike Mansfield (D-MT) was the Majority Leader during both sessions.

The 1974 precedent–a special election to settle a near tie–seems good to me. The filibuster rule contributed played an important role. Under different circumstances, the precedent might not hold.

  • The lame duck Senate in 2020 will know how the 2020 election went.
  • McConnell is ruthless, but it isn’t clear to me what he might do to cling to power if Republicans don’t have a clear majority in the new Senate.
  • The new Senate will adopt rules and choose a leader. Does the former leader retain the position until a new leader is chosen? Could newly elected Senators be excluded from these votes, or defeated candidates be allowed to vote?
  • In 1974, there was no dispute over election procedures–hanging chads, mail-in ballots, illegal voters.
  • Might there be another lengthy debate over seating; might one party or the other appeal to the courts?
  • If there were a tie in the Senate, the Vice President would cast the deciding vote.

An unprecedented partisan outcome would be bad for democracy.

Posted in 2020, Congress, Political | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Twenty-fifth Amendment

government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. — Lincoln

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President. -Twenty-fifth Amendment

The Constitution allows Congress to create a commission on presidential fitness, but is it a good idea? The need for an effective way to remove a president in an emergency is apparent. Current provisions are ineffective.

  • Impeachment proved futile in the case of the Ukraine scandal, and would likely be futile under any circumstances..
  • Even though Trump’s cabinet reportedly contemplated action, today’s cabinets are unlikely to agree to depose their leader in any circumstance.
  • There is no other legal procedure for deposing an unfit president.

Yet a commission on presidential fitness might not provide an effective solution.

  • A commission, however constituted, would be suspected of political bias.
  • Commissioners elected by the people or party in power would be suspect.
  • An appointed commission would replace democracy with meritocracy.
  • Action by the commission would provoke a constitutional crisis. An unfit president would be expected to defy Congress.
  • In the present highly politicized time, the removal of a president for good reason might provoke retaliation for no good reason.

The fundamental problem is that The Constitution assumes some degree of wisdom and good will among elected officials and the people. In the absence of wisdom and good will, constitutional restrictions and long standing norms for acceptable behavior are inadequate. It is a dilemma–if the people won’t protect democracy, American democracy may be a lost cause.

Posted in 2020, Congress, Constitution, Political, President | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Is he trying to kill us?

Is he trying to kill us?

  • We know from Bob Woodward’s book that President Trump knew the danger, but ignored it.
  • Few precautions were taken until the pandemic exploded on the West Coast and in NYS.
  • He stopped cooperating with WHO.
  • We suffered from a lack of hospital supplies and equipment.
  • He encouraged governors to end the shutdown prematurely.
  • He arranged and attended super-spreader events.
  • Encouraged by his indifference, other super-spreader events went on without restrictions.
  • He claimed that all but the old were immune, as if seniors were expendable
  • He disparaged wearing masks.
  • He disagreed with and corrected government experts as if he knew better.
  • He mocked quarantine.
  • He told subordinates not to wear masks.
  • His action and inaction allowed the virus to spread at the capital.
  • He concealed his own illness.
  • He interfered with responsible government agencies.
  • He suggested vaccines would quickly be effective making other measures unnecessary.
  • He may have spread the virus himself including to his own family.
  • He left the hospital prematurely claiming falsely to be no longer contagious.
  • He suggested the treatments he received were or would be available to all.
  • He blamed the disease on others–China, WHO, Gold Star families.

I’m sure there is more evidence, but this is more than enough.

Posted in Health Care, Political, President, Trump | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Who knows what the future holds?

No one can predict what the future holds, but it is interesting to speculate:

In 2016, Trump won NY-23 57% to 43%. Tom Reed lagged Trump by three percent, winning over Tracy Mitrano 54% to 46%. National polls today have Joe Biden over Donald Trump 57% to 41%. If national polls apply to NY-23, Reed would have to lead Trump by 8% to be even with his opponent, Tracy Mitrano.

I am appalled by Tom Reed’s negative political advertising. With nothing to say about himself, he stoops to attacking his rival with altered images and misleading claims. There is no apparent need for Tom to go low; perhaps he delights in cruelty. It is hard to take his professed concern over domestic violence seriously, when he stoops to besmirch a woman he scarcely knows.


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Posted in 2020 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Who decides about experimental drugs?

This article on Covid 19 was written by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport and is published here with permission. Views expressed by contributors are their own.

When I get sick, I follow my doctor’s recommendations. As everyone
should. Science Rules!

But science is not good for TRUMP, who has repeatedly ignored and
belittled scientists and epedemiologists, saying he knows best! Over the
last few months (YEARS in TRUMP TIME) President Trump has ignored advice
to wear masks, pushed coronavirus treatments including
hydroxychloroquine (many, many times), bleach and bright lights (not as
much). He has indicated an interest in Oleandrin, a product pushed by
major Trump donor, the My Pillow Guy.

We should all be interested to see his medication list now that he is
ill with Covid-19.

According to the President’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, President Trump
is presently receiving the following medications:

an experimental antibody cocktail made by the pharmaceutical company
Regeneron, vitamin D, zinc, Pepcid, melatonin, aspirin, dexamethasone (a
steroid reserved for severe infections).

As far as we know, he is NOT taking:

hydroxychloroquine, Oleandrin (pushed by the My Pillow Guy), Bleach. 
Nor has he been subjected to light strong enough to illuminate his
internal organs

 I will leave it to the reader to make their own conclusions.

Posted in Health Care, Political, President, Trump | Tagged | 3 Comments

Mortality Rates

This article on Covid 19 was written by Arthur Ahrens of Branchport and is published here with permission. Views expressed by contributors are their own.pundit


The 1918 flu epidemic, the so-called Spanish flu, killed 675,000 people in the US when the population of our country was 103,000,000. Hence, a mortality rate of 0.7%.

Woodrow Wilson was president then, and had no time for the virus. He was consumed with prosecuting the war in Europe. The 1918 Sedition Act made it a crime to say anything the government perceived as harming the country or the war effort. U.S. Newspapers downplayed the risk of the flu and the extent of its spread, resulting in superspreader events like the Liberty Loan March in Philadelphia in September, 1918.

The Army’s medical department recognized the threat the flu posed to the troops and urged officials to stop troop transports, halt the draft and quarantine soldiers; but they faced resistance from the line command, the War Department and President Woodrow Wilson.  By the end of the year, about 45,000 U.S. Army soldiers had died from the flu.

Wilson never acknowledged the flu, yet caught a debilitating case in April 1919. This so weakened the man that he was unsuccessful in controlling the European thirst for vengeance against Germany in the Paris Peace talks, resulting in the punitive and cruel Treaty of Versailles, which set the stage for the Second World War.

Wilson suffered a severe stroke shortly after in October 1919. Some authorities believe that this was a direct result of his severe case of the flu. The stroke resulted in his incapacitation. His wife, Edith, became gatekeeper to the president, assumed a large role in running the government after his stroke, influencing decisions affecting both domestic and foreign policy.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are eerie parallels between the 1918 and current viral pandemics.
  • Woodrow Wilson’s decision to pursue the war irrespective of the pandemic accelerated the disease spread and increased its massive death toll.
  • Pandemics occur in waves. The second wave in the 1918 pandemic was the most deadly. Other waves will likely occur during the current pandemic.
  • Innate optimism, strong libertarian instincts, native distrust of national government, diversity, sectarianism, and partisan division hinder American efforts to fight pandemics.
  • Exceptional times call for exceptional measures and exceptional leadership to unite against a common foe.

Covid-19 has a mortality rate of ~3%, as opposed to the H1N1 which had a mortality rate of 0.7%. Crunching the numbers results in a terrifying result.

I’m hoping that Trump’s affliction will change the course of our response to the novel coronavirus. The realist in me does not believe that for one moment.

Posted in Health Care, Political, President, Trump | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Some things are hard to believe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping anti-corruption package that they’re billing as a successor to post-Watergate reforms — updated for a potential post-Trump Washington.–Kyle Cheney

Some things are hard to believe:

  • A President who repeatedly misrepresents facts is respected by many.
  • A President would pardon close associates
  • Administration officials would secretly correspond with foreign governments
  • An Administration would ignore Congressional subpoenas.
  • The Hatch Act would be flaunted
  • The Emoluments Clause would be moot.
  • A President would disregard intelligence briefings.
  • Inspectors General could be removed on highly questionable grounds
  • The Dept. of Justice could be made subservient to a Presidents political interests.
  • A President would demand personal loyalty from subordinates
  • Administration agencies would adjust their recommendations to a president’s whims.
  • Whistle blowers would be fired.
  • A president would stonewall on releasing tax returns.
  • Confidence in fair elections would be seriously called into question.
  • A defeated presidential candidate might suggest clinging to office.

I am sure there is much more.


Posted in 2020, Political, President | Leave a comment

Facebook policy for representatives

Rep Tom Reed (R-NY-23)

This official page is intended to be a place for residents of the 23rd Congressional District to comment on current issues facing our nation. Comments that attack or are intended to harass an individual, group, or organization are unacceptable and will be promptly removed. Everyone has a right to express his or her opinion without fear of harassment. Individuals who repeatedly engage in such behavior will be reported to Facebook for Terms of Service violations.

As this is an official page, campaign references must be removed to comply with House Ethics rules. Users who repeatedly violate this rule may be blocked from posting on this page.

Please help us keep this a welcome place for everyone. Thank you.

Rep Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-5)

The purpose of this page is for Congressman Josh Gottheimer to communicate with the citizens of New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District regarding matters of federal policy and for [his/her] constituents to provide pertinent feedback regarding those communications. We welcome your comments, however, please note that this is a moderated online discussion site and not a public forum. Comments posted to this page will be monitored. Comments that (i) are unrelated to the purpose of this page or are not topically related to the specifics of the posting, (ii) contain fighting words, graphic or gratuitous violence, vulgar language, profanity, nudity, obscene or indecent language or sexual content, or false representations of fact, (iii) promote or incite illegal or fraudulent transactions or activities, (iv) threaten, intimidate, harass, or defame any person or organization, (v) constitute “spam,” such as content that appears to be from internet bots or repetitive, copy-paste statements, (vi) are commercial in nature, such as advertising, promotion, or endorsement of services or products, or solicitation of funds, (vii) contain personally identifiable information about another individual, (viii) misrepresent the commenter’s identity or affiliation, (ix) contain links to any site [that is unrelated to the topic of the original post], and/or (x) constitute campaign-related communications, electioneering, or fundraising efforts will be removed and may result in the inability of the author to comment on future posts.


  • There is a big difference between these two statements.
  • Tom Reed flagrantly disregards his threat to remove offensive material.
  • It isn’t clear if either statement is consistent with House Rules.
  • Josh Gottheimer is known to remove critical comments.
  • All comments, including harsh criticism which is censored, may be valuable to the representative.
  • If criticism is censored, viewers may get a false sense of the representatives popularity.
Posted in Campaigning, Constituents | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Gray Panthers revisited

Susan J. Douglas, writing in The New York Times, reminds us of the Gray Panthers of the 1970s. The leader was Maggie Kuhn.

Infuriated by being forced out of her job at 65 (and even more irked that her parting gift was a sewing machine), and outraged by what gerontologists in the 1970s championed as “disengagement theory” — the notion that it was normal and natural for older people to simply withdraw from society — she took on what was then, and still is, one of the most socially acceptable biases in our country: ageism.

The idea that seniors should disengage from politics after retiring seems totally wrong to me. Working people might well avoid social media and political conflict. There is less reason for seniors to do so.


Posted in Seniors, Social Security | Leave a comment

Tom Reed’s local fundraising

One can search FEC data for political contributions from cities. Here is what I found for the current election cycle as of Sept. 11, 2020.

Branchport   $5,600 One person
Dunkirk   0  
Geneva   $10,100 $4,080 from Hudson Data, LLC
Jamestown   $5,500 Most from Jamestown Business College
Naples   $1,000 One person
Owego   0  
Penn Yan   $1,250 Three persons
Silver Creek   0  
Waterloo   0  
FEC Data

For comparison, Corning Inc. contributed about $20,000.

Hudson Data, LLC advises on outsourcing and seeks to hire foreign workers. No wonder they favor Tom Reed.

Posted in 2020 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment