Maryland Senate Advances Bill to Bypass Electoral College

Maryland Senate Advances Bill to Bypass Electoral College – National Constitution Center

The bill, which the Senate approved 29 to 17 yesterday, would award the state’s 10 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide — not statewide. A similar bill was approved yesterday by a House committee and is expected to come before the full chamber today, and O’Malley signaled his backing.

I’ve never understood this idea. Why remove your state from the equation completely? In the “development” of the Constitutional system we’ve undergone in our history, states are, in many ways, becoming mere administrative regions of the national government. Why should they accelerate this process by taking away some of the leverage they have in making sure their interests are voiced? For example, right now, ethanol production is a big issue partly because of Iowa’s farmers. If Iowa were to adopt this system, it would lose its ability to fight for its interests.

Also, moving towards a popular vote system would increase the incentive for voter fraud. Under the Electoral College, if a massive vote fraud occurred in, say, Los Angeles, only California’s results would be directly affected. Under a direct vote system, the entire nation’s results wold be affected.

Further, the notion that states are ignored because of the Electoral College won’t be solved by this system. (One obvious response to Maryland, in particular, is “Stop being so reliably Democrat.”) If candidates are solely looking at voters, rather than states, they’ll go where they can get the most bang for the buck. A Republican is not likely to pick up many votes or change people’s minds in Maryland, so should he campaign there. Similarly for a Democrat in Georgia. A 5% swing of the vote in Maryland won’t make much of a difference in a direct vote system, but under the Electoral Vote system it switch the state’s electoral votes, which would make a large difference. Candidates will focus on swing areas with large population centers to an even greater extent than they already do. This proposal would have the exact opposite effect it’s intended for.

This sums up my feelings pretty well:

Some lawmakers argued yesterday that a popular-vote plan could become unwieldy if the national count is close.

Sen. Michael G. Lenett (D-Montgomery) predicted “mass chaos” if a national recount were necessary. “While the electoral college is not flawless, the alternative might be worse,” he said.

Lenett also said the system proposed could just switch the target for candidates from closely divided states to large cities with many voters — a scenario that would not necessarily empower Maryland.

I can live with the idea of providing electoral votes by Congressional district with the statewide winner getting the remaining two Electoral votes, but I think that similarly disarms states in their ability to promote their own interests, again driving candidates to markets with large populations and geographically smaller congressional districts. The more I look at it, the smart the Electoral College becomes.

What are the stem cell opponents scared of?

Personally, I’m scared that those supporting ECSR will make false claims and misrepresent facts.

Ms. O’Donnell has twisted words that mean one thing into something completely different — and false. S.B. 5 specifically outlaws the creation of human versions of Dolly the sheep. It does not outlaw the procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transplantation when, and only when, it is used for medical research and therapeutic purposes.

Here, David Dietz (the author of the article) attempts to draw a distinction where none exists. Cloning and somatic cell nuclear transplantation are the exact same thing. The sole difference lies in what happens afterwards. In cloning, the clone is allowed to grow and live. In SCNT, the clone is killed and harvested for its parts. There is no difference between cloning and SCNT; a “ban on cloning” that does not include a ban on SCNT is not a ban on cloning.

Ms. O’Donnell claims that she fears that enactment of S.B. 5 “will open the floodgates to human egg trafficking, exploitation and even the death of thousands of women.” This is absolutely absurd.

The in vitro fertilization process is a completely voluntary procedure undergone by women with fertility problems who are trying to conceive. It is a difficult and unpleasant process, and women routinely allow a number of eggs to be harvested so that they won’t have to go through it again. The eggs are then mixed with sperm in a petri dish and some of the resulting embryos are implanted in the woman, hopefully leading to a successful pregnancy. The remaining surplus embryos are then frozen in nitrogen and stored, sometimes for years in case they are needed again, or they are disposed of.

What Mr. Dietz fails to address is Christine O’Donnell’s point that, given the high rate of failure of the cloning process used in SCNT, a huge quantity of egg cells will be needed from women. It’s not just take a few and you’re done. Only a very small percentage of cloning attempts are successful. It took 430 attempts to successfully clone Dolly. That’s 430 eggs that were taken in order to create one clone. Here’s the full breakdown of the failure points:

Each empty egg was then filled with an adult cell taken from a sheep and zapped with an electric current to fuse the two. Of the original 430, only 270 eggs were successfully hollowed out and fused with other cells and only 29 of those grew into small balls of cells known as blastocysts, the precursors of embryos. Of these, only one that was implanted developed successfully, dividing and growing inside a surrogate female until, five months later, Dolly was born.

So, let’s say the ratio improves due to more experience with cloning. That’s still 215 eggs for each successful clone. And that doesn’t even take into account the embryos that will be used in unsuccessful experiments, or in the entire process just to get to the point where scientists have a good process built up.

Mr. Dietz is clearly off the mark when he claims there won’t be any great demand for embryos. We’re easily talking millions of eggs to get to even the first cure. Women will have to be exploited for their eggs, and it will be poor women who are most likely to be taken advantage of. Ms. O’Donnell and the women at Hands Off Our Ovaries are correct, contrary to Mr. Dietz’s claims.

He then brings up the non sequitur of in vitro fertilization. As I mentioned recently, I would like to see in vitro banned, but am aware it’s not happening any time soon. But the debate over IVF has nothing to do with the current debate over ESCR. IVF is not cloning. Mr. Dietz brings it up to attempt to discredit by association Ms. O’Donnell’s points, especially since HB 76 is being rewritten to make sure IVF isn’t covered by the anti-cloning regulations contained in that bill. This point is a complete non sequitur.

Since the majority of his editorial is actually about IVF, should we take this editorial as a tacit admission that ESCR is not that beneficial and can only be supported by attacking unrelated points?

On its 125th Anniversary, the Knights of Columbus Stands Out

Knights of Columbus – 125th Anniversary Site

The Knights of Columbus has also long been actively involved in American public life. Before and throughout World War I, the Knights ran “Army Huts” — facilities that provided recreation, snacks and comfort items to the troops near bases and near the front. The huts – whose motto was “Everybody welcome. Everything free” — were a predecessor to the USO. During the 1920s, in direct opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights lobbied President Calvin Coolidge to pressure the Mexican government to stop its persecution of Catholics in Mexico. Ultimately, the lobbying paid off, and an accord was reached between the Church and the Mexican government.

In the 1950s, the Knights of Columbus led the effort to have the words “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The organization continues to speak out on important social issues — especially in the area of the protection of human life — today. Among the many notable Knights over the past 125 years were: writers Joyce Kilmer and Miles Connolly, sports legends Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Vince Lombardi, Floyd Patterson and Ron Guidry, and statesmen Al Smith, Henry Hyde, John F. Kennedy, Jeb Bush and Sargent Shriver.

Last year, the Knights of Columbus donated more than $139 million and 64 million volunteer hours to charity.

I’m a Knight and I definitely recommend membership for any adult Catholic male. It’s a great way to get involved with an outstanding organization, do good, grow in your faith and build friendships.