Civics Lesson

OK folks…time for a civics lesson…or…how the US government works as they used to say on Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Readers who are of the same general vintage as Neil and Connie might remember how you took a Civics class in high school and you learned those sorts of things. However…younger folk who suffer from deluded school boards eliminating the requirement to actually learn how the country works might want to listen up and pay ‘ttention so’s ya’ll will know.

Before that though…a quick update on life under quarantine…or day 176 as we sit here on Labor Day 2020.

Last week we had dinner over at our friend’s Frank and Gail…he grilled some really tasty ribs and we had corn on the cob, tater salad, and coleslaw to go along with it…and some munchies before dinner…as well as a brew and some nice wine. After about 3 hours of good food and good company we headed home…since we did that on Thursday night we decided to just skip Date Nite last week. The day before we had dinner with them was the Elks Lodge monthly meeting…we attended and all I can say is that you have to be really bored before any meeting sounds like a good idea. On the bright side…we got word that the lodge will reopen the bar starting this week on Wednesday and that Taco Night on Thursday will start back up as well.

Taco Night on Thursday…well, the precipitated a change in Date Night. We had set it up for Thursday primarily because it was Thursday back in the  day when we were working…which was set up because you didn’t need a restaurant reservation for a Thursday and could just waltz in and have dinner…and having it on Thursday worked for us. However…there’s nothing magic about Thursday at all so we decided to move it to Tuesday night for this week and then Monday night as that doesn’t interfere with anything else on our schedule. Since Connie has to put on a dress and heels for Date Night…we figgered that her getting all dolled up every Thursday night for Tacos was overkill…’sides, we don’t want to go eat tacos every week anyway.

Neil found a great recipe a couple weeks back…garlic rice roasted chicken. What you do is take some leftover rice and mix it with garlic, herbs, and butter…then take a whole chicken and carefully separate the skin from the breast without tearing or removing the skin…then stuff the rice between the skin and the meat and roast it for an hour. The idea is that the rice sort of insulates the breast and keeps it moist until the legs and thighs are done…and also separates the skin from the meat so that the skin gets all nice and crispy…and the luscious schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) from the skin drips down and makes the rice even more delectable than the stuff you already added does.

However…rather than roasting for an hour…he decided to smoke and then roast it on our pellet grill. Two hours at low smoke temp of 165F then upped the temp to 400 for about another 40 minutest or so to get the meat all done and the aforementioned crispy skin and rendered chicken fat goodness.

The recipe then called for setting the bird aside to rest and adding 1/3 cup of sherry vinegar to the drippings to make a pan sauce. Neil thought that this was way too vinegary but did it anyway…and on tasting it determined that he was right after all. So…he added some wine, chicken stock, a couple other spice goodies and a bit of cream and the vinegar was still too strong so in went some honey…after a couple of additions the sauce was just right. Served over the chicken with rice and crispy skin and it was right tasty.

New wildlife sighting this week…here’s a small taste for ya with more details later.

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OK…civics lesson starts now.

I keep reading on the interwebs about how it would be terrible and an insult to democracy if the President were to win reelection while failing to win the “national popular vote”. There are a couple of problems with these claims. First off…there is no such thing as a “national popular vote”…that’s not the way that our Presidential elections work. Second off…the US of A…well, we’re not a democracy at all. A democracy is what they did back in the day in Athens Greece where all the voters got together in a meeting and made decisions…which we clearly can’t do with 330+ million residents. Nope…what we have is a federated democratic republic…an association of individual states with rights, responsibilities, and rules for how things work set out in this thing called the Constitution of the United States.

So here’s how the President gets elected…note that nowhere in here do the words “national popular vote” exist.

The founding fathers…well at least the ones that didn’t live in NY, MA, or VA…recognized that those 3 states had about 80% of the population in the entire country and that the needs/wants of heavily populated cities and states were different from those in sparsely populated agricultural states…what the progressive coastal elites call flyover states these days. So…the idea of a national Presidential popular vote election was dismissed and the founding fathers invented the Electoral College or EC. The EC grants one electoral vote for every Representative and one for every Senator and thus ensures that small states have a say in the election of Presidents. Now granted…the EC as setup does give a greater effect on the election for a voter in one of the flyover states than for a voter in the coastal states with large cities…but news flash…that’s the way it was designed. The EC is not perfect…in fact I could think of several ways that it could be improved…but the fact is that the EC and it’s makeup are enshrined in the Constitution…and it would take a Constitutional amendment to change that. Another news flash…the founding fathers actually realized that the Constitution might need changing as time went on and set up a procedure for doing that…but they deliberately made it hard…very hard…so that the Constitution would not be changed lightly.

An amendment takes 2/3 majority vote in both houses of Congress to be proposed…or 2/3 of the state legislatures can pass a law calling for a Constitutional Convention which can then propose amendments. After one is proposed…it must be ratified by 3/4 of the states (currently that’s 38) before taking effect, and the proposed amendment itself can include a time limit for ratification.

So…what’s wrong with this process for amending? Well…it’s hard…that’s the total problem for the progressives. They hate the idea of flyover states having a say in how the country is to be run and want to institute this “national popular vote” to elect the President. The idea is that the coastal large city states which are dominated politically by progressives would then be able to elect the President of their choice…in other words they want to change the rules in their favor.

Now…I’m all in favor of them changing the rules for Presidential elections…but they have to follow the rules on how to change the rules…in other words they need a Constitutional amendment. As discussed above…that just ain’t happening…because it’s too hard.

So…the progressives came up with this thing called the 270 Vote Coalition or something like that where states that join it pledge to award their EC votes to whichever candidate wins the popular vote…and if they get 270 EC votes worth of states to join then they get their way without the pesky bother of having to amend the Constitution. States get to choose how to determine their EC votes…but I think a lot of states citizens would be mightily displeased if the candidate that did not win their state were to receive their state’s EC votes. The coalition currently has the votes of states totaling 196 EC votes…essentially all of the Democrat controlled states…16 in total. Fortunately…the likelihood of getting any more is low as the flyover states are unlikely to vote to reduce their effect on national politics. 

Further…the coalition states that once a state is in…they can never leave.

So…is this coalition…it’s actually named the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact…is it actually legal? Depends on who you ask and if it ever came into effect the Supreme Court would have to vote on it…which means that whether strict or loose constructionists are in charge would likely determine the outcome.

On one hand…the Constitution says that each state has the right to determine how it’s electors in the EC are determined and who they are to vote for…under this clause it seems that a state could decide to award it’s EC votes to the mythical “national popular vote” winner.

On the other hand…the Constitution also states that states may not enter into an agreement or compact with another state without the approval of Congress…which would seem to make the Compact illegal.

The entire issue comes down to the fact that progressives want their way and demand that the rules be changed. But it’s too hard to change them the correct way so the compact is just an end run around the Constitution…very similar to the way that the anti gun crowd wants to make an end run around the 2nd amendment by legislating it out of existence. Gee…I wonder if they would also be in favor of legislating the freedom of the press right out of existence…for instance by the passage of legislation along the lines of the Official Secrets Act in the UK where the government can mandate something as an official secret and thus the press and news are legally prohibited from publishing or covering it. I’m guessing they would be not in favor of reducing that right…but like many on the left they pretty much only believe in free speech that they approve of.

So…speaking of this whole “national popular vote” thing which progressives tell us is because President Trump and bush were both elected “illegitimately” since they didn’t win the mythical “national popular vote”…let’s talk about another election where the person elected President failed to win the mythical “national popular vote”. Back in the day…in 1824 to be specific…John Quincy Adams was elected President despite receiving the second highest total of EC votes…he received 84 to Jackson’s 99 and two other candidates received 40 and 38 but no candidate received the 131 required for election. So…the vote went to the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote…not each Representative…and by some political manipulations Adams was elected President. Six states did not have any popular vote for president at the time…the legislature appointed the electors…so the whole “national popular vote” didn’t really apply.

Speaking of “national popular vote”…there was another president who was elected despite receiving less than 40% of the popular votes…although by that time almost all states had popular votes for President…and the guy who won with <40% of the vote was…Abraham Lincoln.

Ok…back to the teaser image way back at the top. It seems over the past couple of weeks that wildlife is starting to return…birds in particular…we spotted this Great Egret the other day and Neil wandered out to get a few photos. Like always…he starts farther away and takes insurance shots as he gets closer…but this time he used a tip from one of his forums to (a) not stare at the animal as you approach it but just glance to the side periodically and (b) don’t walk straight towards the animal but sort of zig zag with periodic stops to prevent startling it into fleeing. He took advantage of the stops to get more insurance shots…especially as he did not have the bird lens on the camera as moving the tripod would be too much movement and would have likely startled it. He ended up with some nice shots including a series as it took off and headed the other side of the pond. It was originally on our side of the pond right behind the corner of our lanai.

You can tell it is a Great Egret and not the similarly size and white Great White Heron (the latter is actually closer to a Great Blue Heron and I won’t try to explain the difference between a heron and an egret)…it’s the legs. Great Egrets have black legs and Great White Herons have yellow greenish legs…both have yellowish beaks. Juvenile Little Blue Herons are also white as are several other egret and heron varieties but those have either size or other distinguishing characteristics.

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Interesting things found on the net.

Our friend Bill sent this one along…and I have to tellya there’s a lot of truth in it.


Younger readers might not get this one.


This is what a dead vole looks like…or actually it is the impression left behind in the snow by the owl that caused the vole (essentially a mouse) to become dead.



And finally…another one that has a lot of truth in it.





About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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