10.30.12 email@example.com - Monday on the Think Tank I was joined by Dr. Ryan Teten, Assistant Professor of the Political Science at ULL, who specializes in elections and campaigns. Dr. Teten will join me election night to offer analysis; we talked today to preview the race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
However, in a race that is already razor-thin in terms of polling, Dr. Teten brought up something that floored me.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy could wreck serious havoc across one of the most densely-populated areas of our country. Millions may not be able to vote, and the ensuing confusion could also escalate already-simmering charges of voter fraud between the campaigns.
What happens if the whole thing gets tied up in the courts into January, or there's not a majority winner in the Electoral College, or both? Well, according to Dr. Teten, it might mean Joe Biden becomes the next President.
You read that right. Not Obama… not Romney. Biden.
"It's one of the most interesting things that's in the Constitution," Dr. Teten told me. "If there is a delay in picking the president, there is a failsafe. If no one got a majority of the Electoral College, it would go to the House of Representatives. If we don't have results by Inaugural Day (January 20, 2013,) the sitting Vice President of the United States becomes president."
So, if the matter isn't settled by January 20, Smilin' Joe becomes president.
Dr. Teten explained further: "In the Constitution, there's actually separate balloting for president and Vice President. So, what they had assumed, and what the 20th amendment speaks to, if there was some kind of dispute that wouldn't allow the President to be chosen, that the vice-president-elect (would assume the Presidency). But the problem is, because they're on the same ballot right now, we wouldn't have either one. So what happens is you default to the sitting Vice President, because they knew the President could be in the competition. And so you'd be looking at the Vice President becoming the President of the United States until the mess was sorted out.”
Here's the full text of Section 3 of the 20th Amendment:
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The text above says Biden would be President "until a President shall have qualified." While that would presumably be when the House of Representatives (or court system) settles on the "winner." Dr. Teten says it may not be so clear-cut.
"Nobody has ever done this before. If we go this route, it could be a serious Pandora's Box."
And, here's an even stranger twist: Could we have a Romney-Biden White House?
The scenario of Joe Biden becoming president outlined above is if there is no majority winner in the Electoral College (a tie,) which is either tied up in the courts and/or isn't resolved by the House of Representatives. The Constitution provides that if there is a tie, then the House chooses the President. (More on this at LATimes.com.)
OK, so let's assume there is a tie...and it's NOT locked up in the courts...and the GOP-controlled House does choose Romney. Who chooses the VP? Well, it's the Democrat-controlled Senate. And if they pick Biden, we'd have a Romney-Biden White House.
Tune in to Garland’s Think Tank Tuesday/today at noon. He’ll follow up with a Constitutional expert about this intriguing possibility.
Whoa! I just got on Facebook and I already want off!
As usual whenever I get involved in a project I read and research, quite a lot. What I found so far in the social media universe is enough to make me ask anyone, “Why are you on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram , or any social media?” Here is why I ask.
From a Reuters report by Jim Urquhart: “Reuters hopes you’re not shy, because there’s a good chance you’re being watched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to a government document, the DHS has been monitoring social media as well as select blogs and message boards for more than a year.” Reuters found this out by filing a privacy compliance review last November, but the surveillance has been going on since June 2010. Among the sites monitored by Homeland Security are the New York Times’ Lede Blog, the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, as well as two Wired blogs. Many lesser-known names are also included on the list.
An October 12, 2012 Wall Street Journal article entitled “When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed 0n Facebook” details how a number of young gays who had kept their sexual preferences from the parents were outed to their parents and the entire world, against their wishes. They had simply joined gay organizations, such as a gay choir…then, unbeknownst to them, those organizations posted their memberships as a “Facebook group,” which in turn automatically showed up on all the member’s Facebook pages.
The same article also details how another young girl lost disability insurance benefits for depression when friends posted photos of her with drink in hand on their Facebook page.
Leaders of the ACLU say, “Facebook has slowly slipped the defaults on its software to reveal more information about people to the public and to Facebook’s corporate partners. Users are often unaware of the extent to which their information is available. When sensitive information is released, it is often impossible to put the cat back in the bag.”
BusinessWeek reports that Big Brother wants your Facebook password if you want to work for them. States such as Virginia, Maryland, and Montana (to name only a few) have required job applicants for government jobs to give up their social network passwords. Those applicants are required to open their accounts and files for the interviewers to read while the applicants are sitting across from them. The only delay in the requirement is a current lawsuit by the ACLU to stymie the practice. And, some schools are requiring scholarship athletes to turn over their entire Facebook history and passwords for monitoring by coaches and athletic departments.
It took the British press to find out that Homeland Security monitors are watching the very words we use (“Ten of the Stranger Words on the Homeland Security Watch List,” by Jeff Balke, Tue., May 29, 2012). Words like cloud, wave, canceled, San Diego, smart, pork, sleet and help. Have you used any of those words while on social media, media websites, or anonymous comment sections? Careful, they’re watching!
Facebook is growing at warp speed. It is the de facto King of the Hill of the social media universe. Each person’s Facebook page is being revamped to appear as a Timeline stretching back to birth. Does that mean that in the future there will be no place to hide? No nook or cranny to not be seen by a “friend?”
Wait for it…wait for it…you knew it was coming. George Orwell’s “1984,” Big Brother’s watchful eye, is omnipresent. It is a terrifying story of a world without privacy.
The powers that be say, "Don’t worry, we’ll do the right thing with your information." I don’t believe them.