Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Kingmakers

Scholar's Mate (C) Karophyr

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.  Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates.  The CPD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c) (3) corporation.

 Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on October 31, 2011, those candidates qualify for debate participation who (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations' most recent publicly-reported results.

Who is the CPD?

Co-Chair: Frank J. Fahrenkkopf – RNC Chair 1983-1987

Co-Chair: Michael D. McCurry - Press Secretary, Clinton Administration, Director of Communications. DNC 1988-1990

Co-Chair Emeritus: Paul G Kirk – DNC Chair 1985-1989

Howard G. Buffet: Eldest son of Warren Buffet
John C. Dansforth: Republican Senator, UN Ambassador
John Griffen: Who is John Griffen, International Man of Mystery?
Antonia Hernandez: President & CEO California Community Foundation a $1.24B  philanthropic organization, former Kennedy campaign coordinator.
Rev. John I. Jenkins: President of the University of Notre Dame
Newton N. Minow: JFK Campaigner appointed to the FCC, former FCC Chair. Senior  Counsel
Sidly Austin, recruited Barack Obama to the firm.
Richard D Parsons: Former Chair & CEO Time Warrner, Former Rockefeller and Ford
staffer, economic advisory staff for Obama
Dorothy S. Ridings: President & CEO Council on Foundations
Alan K Simpson: Republican Senator, Republican whip 1985-1995

Executive Director: Janet Brown – Republican staffer (John Danforth, Elliot Richardson)

At a 1987 press conference announcing the commission's creation, Fahrenkopf said that the commission was not likely to include third-party candidates in debates, and Paul G. Kirk, Democratic national chairman, said he personally believed they should be excluded from the debates

While rule 1, constitutionally eligible, and rule 2, on the ballot in enough states to actually get elected president (270 electoral college votes) make sense, rule 3, a 15% showing in an average of 5 national polls would appear to be solely to exclude third party candidates from the debates.  This leads one to the conclusion the the CPD is bi-partisan not non-partisan.

As far as third party candidates go, the only discussion on CPDs website is a fairly ambiguous paragraph titled Voter Ambivalence About Third Party Candidates: “The authors here focused on the first three-way match-up in a general election presidential debate.  Participant reaction to Ross Perot and James Stockdale's presence in the debates suggested that the dynamics, content, and tone of the exchange during the debates were distinctly affected by their presence.  Focus groups found this element impacted their attitudes about independent candidates.”

Catch-22: Until third party candidates can actually participate in the national election process, there is little chance of them ever meeting the participation criteria of the CPD.  How can the CPD claim to “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners” when they exclude all but the Republican and Democratic candidates for office?

Can it be that the CPD’s true agenda is fostering the status quo?  In my humble opinion they do a disservice to the American people and Democracy itself.


Unknown said...

Mr. Romney certainly did pass the test, and in the very least tied the outcome with the President. In my opinion, President Obama did not act very Presidential but Mr. Romney did. Obama had no trouble demonstrating his command of foreign and national security issues. He deals with these issues every day. It’s my view that President Obama was the the one who stammering and used the 'uhs' and didn't have the answere as ready as Mr. Romney had. Mr. Romney appeared to be in much better command of the issues at hand while President Obama appeared to be talking disparate platitudes and aiming for oddly placed gotcha moments, but I don't think that it worked. But Mr. Romney made it look as if the President was the one who appeared unqualified .I was a bit disappointed that Romney let the specific Benghazi question slide, but I guess that was his plan, maybe he thought that everyone already knew the answers to that and he decided not to go there again.


Ducky's here said...

Can it be that the CPD’s true agenda is fostering the status quo?
I think we both know the answer to that.

Good topic. This group has been quietly operating in the background making sure these debates are as harmless as possible.

Les Carpenter said...

In my never humble opinion the purpose is, as Ducky suggests, to preserve the status qou and insure no third party candidate gets to the national "finals."

Gary Johnson should have been there..

Ducky's here said...

... and also to make sure the beltway crowd stay firmly in control.

There is no reason Johnson and Stein shouldn't participate. If for no other reason than to reveal how lame these two are.

Anonymous said...

Of course it was to protext the status quo. As I recall, the presidential debates use to be the domain of the League of Women Voters. When Ross Perott made such a strong showing, the Republicans and the Democrats got together to organize the CPD to protect themselves from future third party candidates.

Anonymous said...

Romney has this election WON, so he played it safe and let Obama try to bully him and attack him, Romney didn't take the bait. So Pbama acted like the bully he is and lied his ass off. Where is the Fact Checker when you need her? Three out of the three lies, we're proven to be lies! So say the official fact checkers.. Not the self appointed one!

Anonymous said...

All Obama had as his agenda was to attack Rney, nothing else, his record stands for it self. FAILURE... Period.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

Romney held his own against a derisive Obama.....except for declaring the Afghan surge a success...and resorting to the "apology tour" canard. Lost points all for a for petty meme.

Shaw Kenawe said...

It's not just Mr. Romney who has a problem with facts and truth, it's also his supporters who have a problem with honesty in posting their comments, pretending that they are the author of those words:

Anita Davis: "Obama had no trouble demonstrating his command of foreign and national security issues. He deals with these issues every day. It’s my view that President Obama was the the one who stammering and used the 'uhs' and didn't have the answere as ready as Mr. Romney had. Mr. Romney appeared to be in much better command of the issues at hand while President Obama appeared to be talking disparate platitudes and aiming for oddly placed gotcha moments, but I don't think that it worked..."

Reply 2 - Posted by: Tianne, 10/23/2012 5:38:33 AM (No. 8954546)

Yes, Mr. Romney certainly did pass the test and, in my opinion, President Obama did not. FTA: “For his part, Obama had no trouble demonstrating his command of foreign and national security issues. He deals with these issues every day.” It’s my view that President Obama ‘had no trouble’ (if one doesn't count the stammering and the 'uhs') not because ‘he deals with these issues every day’, but because he prepared for this last debate by being tightly sequestered with, and schooled by, the people who really do deal with the foreign and national security issues ‘every day’. To me, Mr. Romney appeared to be in much better command of the issues at hand while President Obama appeared to be talking disparate platitudes and aiming for oddly placed 'gotcha’ moments.

Reply 5 - Posted by: Timber Queen, 10/23/2012 6:49:09 AM (No. 8954606)

I was bitterly disappointed that Romney let the specific Benghazi question slide, and did not press Obama on the lack-of-security issue.
--Posted at Lucianne

Ralphie's been at it for years.

Ducky's here said...

Of course it was to protect the status quo. As I recall, the presidential debates use to be the domain of the League of Women Voters.
Absolutely correct. Shocking that I'm in such agreement with my conservative brethren.

Constitutional Insurgent said...

@Steve - "Why waste time with useless candidates"

We're wasting time with Obama and Romney....why not others?

viburnum said...

The only predictable responses around here come from trolls who don't actually bother to read the posts, or comment intelligently. They just stop by to annoy people.

viburnum said...

The prosecution rests.

J.O.B. said...

FinnTann- This post is plagiarism.
LOLOLOLOLOLO. I did the same post yesterday.


I agree 100%. A true debate will occur tonight, and it won't be dictated by a MOU.

jez said...

You'd still be stuck with a 2 party system because the spoiler effect is an inherent part of the FPTP voting system. Over here in Britain we recently had the opportunity to switch to AV, a voting system very nearly as bad as FPTP; the only practical difference is that AV solves the spoiler effect. The pro-AV campaign was botched, so that's the last we'll hear about any of that for another 40+ years. grumble.

Fredd said...

Third parties do nothing more than dilute the divergent support of one or both of the 'status quo' parties.

Our two party system encourages laying out two separate philosophies of managing our national resources. All a third party aims to do is muddy the waters between the polar opposite views of the two status quo guys, and create confusion among the electorate.

Ban third parties. They damage democracy, not encourage it.

Anonymous said...

Obama won the insult contest by a landslide. But he looked like a school yard basketball player in doing so.

jez said...

Fredd: what you say is only true thanks to the inadequacies of your voting system... other voting systems are available!

Constitutional Insurgent said...

@Fredd - Banning third parties [if that were even remotely possible] runs counter to everything we hold dear; the right to exercise our political opinions and influence politicians and parties. Not much could be more damaging than trying to fit the polity into two organized and rigidly controlled political channels. One might as well declare one party and one party only.

One of the problems with the two party system is that we are burdened with two camps [and their media accomplices] that purport to be ideologically opposed, but in reality squabble over the mere inches of intellectual real estate that separate them.

Politics in a representative democracy should embrace choice, not the lack thereof.

J.O.B. said...

Fred- The problem with the two party system is the platforms they run under. It's an adhere to or lose mantra. Look at Romney. I'm still confused if Romney is a Tea Party type Conservative, or a Moderate Conservative, or Rino if you will.
Is it possible that he placated one crowd in the Spring, but now is in dire need of the Center vote.
You can't possibly know where Romney truly stands. And I'm not calling him a Flip-Flopper. He is playing the game, as it was set up by the CPD.
It is up to us as citizens to make the THIRD Party viable. Debate is tonight at 8:00 P.M. CDT. Here's the link.

The reason this debate will be better is simple. None of the four participants agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding.

Ducky's here said...

@Fredd -- Our two party system encourages laying out two separate philosophies of managing our national resources.
Fredd, Fredd, wake up.

Is that why Obummer's building the pipeline? You should check out the reports on the property taking. Makes Connecticut look pretty mild.

Anyway, not much difference although we do thank Romney for shutting down the coal fired plant in Salem.

Can't think of anything Obummer has done that's pro environment. Let us know how you think they differ.

FreeThinke said...

It's THE OLIGARCHS forever rigging things to work to THEIR advantage no matter WHO wins our elections.

The process is a Western form of Kabuki -- a Punch and Judy Show -- Bread and Circuses, and all that.

If this is not true, why is that NOTHING EVER CHANGES for the BETTER?

Ronald Reagan was our last "good" president, and it looks now as though his victory over The System was a fluke.

The process might work well, IF it could be freed from the contamination of that comes with too much manipulation.

But that would be impossible because of the First Amendment -- always a two-edged sword.

Freedom is a bitch to maintain, ain't it?

~ FT

FreeThinke said...

Outlawing the practice of GERRYMANDERING and imposing a simple square GRID PATTERN over each of the states to define voting districts, and then letting the chips fall where they may would make good start towards reform of our sick system.

Staging each election ONLY on ONE designated ELECTION DAY between the hours of 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM would be another giant step toward reform.

Establishing uniform VOTER ID laws throughout the country would be yet another big help in cleaning up the process.

Holding elections on a SATURDAY would be a great help in facilitating access to the polls too.

Using good common sense would solve most of the problems, but no -- we love to squabble.

QUESTION: Where would most people be if they nothing to bitch about?

ANSWER: Nowhere!

~ FT

Finntann said...


Plagiarism: an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author.

Two articles on the same topic do not constitute plagiarism, although I am glad we agree at least on the conclusions of the subject.

For the record, I wrote this during the second debate when Jill Stein, Green Party candidate, was arrested attempting to get in. It's been sitting out in blog la la land ever since waiting for Silverfiddle to schedule it, which I'm sure a subpoena to blogger will reveal ;)


Trekkie4Ever said...

There was a few things that I wish Romney would have responded to, especially in Libya.

However, Obama lied and lied and just kept on with the same ole pathetic rhetoric we are all so used to.

And one more thing, when he mentioned visiting Israel, yeah that was how long ago??

Finntann said...

Steve, get over yourself.

This post has nothing to do with Romney and/or Obama.

It is a commentary on the deck being stacked against third party candidates by being excluded from the process by an organization composed almost exclusively of RNC and DNC apparatchiks.

Truth be told, I'm voting for Romney as the lesser of two evils because Johnson doesn't stand a snowballs chance in hell of getting elected. As I've counseled some of my fellow libertarians, a vote for Johnson is a vote for Obama.

@Fredd: Ban third parties. They damage democracy, not encourage it.

I would say that your two-party system has already broken our democracy and third-parties had nothing to do with it.

Have you considered the possibility that a third party in our legislative system would promote compromise? As it stands now, no one compromises, because they all think that all they have to do is wait two years until the next legislative election cycle.

We have a two-party system by happenstance, it is not defined or enshrined in any of our founding documents. I suggest you read George Washington's Farewell Address cautioning us all on the hazards of "party".

Anyway, what makes you think they are polar opposites? The way I see it I can have big government with social entitlements or big government with corporate entitlements. Buddy, you got a two-headed coin... yet you insist on continuing to flip it in hopes that it may come up tails.

Good Luck

Finntann said...

Steve, keep a civil tongue in your head or head for the trashcan, your choice.

If you wish to make cogent points on the topics under discussion you are more than welcome to contribute.

Your comments that I have allowed to stand are marginal at best, left in place only to provide context for other more serious comments. Gratuitous schoolyard insults will not be tolerated in the future.

Make your point like an adult, or waste your time typing, all I need to do is push one button, and I am ready, willing, and able to do that from here to eternity.

Man up!

Finntann said...

Here is an excerpt from George Washington's Farewell Address on the subject of party politics:

"Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

Now... is that not an apt a description today as it was in 1796?

Finntann said...

Well...the appeal for rationale civilized behavior didn't work.

Bye Steve!

viburnum said...

jez: " Over here in Britain we recently had the opportunity to switch to AV..."

This? http://www.crosenstiel.webspace.virginmedia.com/stvrules/av/index.htm

Thanks, but no thanks. We've already had one civil war.

viburnum said...

Steve: "...SF deleted my comments"

As usual, you haven't been paying attention.

Finntann said...

No, Steve, wrong again as usual.

I deleted your comments.

Civil discourse may stay, insults will go and with your track record around here, civil discourse mixed with insults stands a 99% chance of going too.

But congratulations, I've been doing this for four years and you're the first person I have ever felt needed moderation and I've let some pretty obnoxious, insulting, and offensive stuff stand.

I don't care if you disagree with us, but do so in a rational and coherent manner, comments that are nothing more than insults will not stand.

And that, is all I have and will say in the matter.


Hack said...

So we should have every Jill Stein and "The rent is too damn high!" guy on the national stage? It would be a complete circus allowing everyone who attempts to run a shot in the debates. And if Gary Johnson were to have participated, he would have lost more votes, not gained.

jez said...

What's the problem? Is listing candidates in order of preference too hard for the average voter?

How else do you mitigate the spoiler effect, if not through more expressive voting such as this?

FreeThinke said...

Human beings may have the capacity to use reason, but we are not rational creatures.

David Hume was correct when he said, "Reason is but the slave of Passion."

~ FT

FreeThinke said...

Hack, Gary Johnson may -- or may not -- have lost votes had been given the chance to be heard, but I for one would like to have seen that put to the test.

I just watched most of the Third Party Debate moderated by Larry King broadcast at 6:00 AM on C-Span.

In my opinion Governor Johnson is not presidential timber largely because of his physical appearance, but with the exception of his advocacy for the legalization of recreational drug use everything he had to say -- largely echoes of the positions put forth by his admitted hero Ron Paul -- made perfect sense.

We would be better off if we the electorate had free and fair access to ALL points of view. As things stand today, the process is far too orchestrated, choreographed, and stage managed by Controlling Forces from On High, who rig the process to serve THEIR interests and not OURS.

That is a truth certainly "self-evident" to this old observer of the increasingly depressing political landscape.

~ FT

PS: I would agree that crypt-Marxist Jill Stein is an unmitigated ass. (:-x

jez said...

Freethinke: the trick is to cultivate a passion for reason.

Les Carpenter said...

FT, Agree completly. Although there is small difference between recreational drug use and that of alcohol, which is also a drug.

viburnum said...

Jez: "What's the problem? Is listing candidates in order of preference too hard for the average voter?"

The same ones who couldn't manage to poke a hole in a piece of stationary?

Not to mention court battles over the partisan interpretation of illegible handwriting?

And then there's rule 4b

jez said...

Implementation details. In my opinion, the numerals 1-6 are all pretty unambiguous, but if that's a red flag to you consider Egyptian or Roman numerals, or punching multiple holes.

What do you think happens in the case of a tie under FPTP?
(In France, a tie in the 2nd round presidential election is awarded to the oldest candidate!)

viburnum said...

Other than a tie for President in the electoral college the Constitution doesn't address the issue. In the case of a tie there, the House of Representatives chooses the President.

Remember that there is no actual "National" election here, they are all carried out by the states. We'd have to research the various states for how each resolves the issue of a tie, though off the top of my head I know of local elections decided by the toss of a coin, or cutting a deck of cards.

As for ambiguity in numbers, Brits must have better handwriting. On a large list of candidates I can easily see people insisting that 7's are 1's and 3's are 2's, and visa versa. Not to mention the Federal case against the disenfranchisement of the dyslexic.

Finntann said...

@The same ones who couldn't manage to poke a hole in a piece of stationary?

Good point.

We have sort of, an indirect semi-proportional voting system via the electoral college, although as viburnum points out the rules for states are set by the states.

Each state gets the a number of electoral college votes equal to the number of representatives and senators, the minimum number being three, also, the District of Columbia also gets 3.

Electors pledge at the state level to vote for the candidate they are supposed to, but different states have different rules for "faithless electors", who go astray.

The entire system was put in place at the start to prevent urban industrial areas from dominating the government by sake of population alone (remember, we're a representative republic, not a democracy).

Some examples are Alaska, which is .25% of the population but .5% of electoral college votes. It helps increase the leverage of smaller states, has little effect on middling states, and slightly reduces the leverage of large states. If I recall correctly California loses 2% in the electoral college vs population.

In a direct democratic election, the president could be chosen by as few as five states.

This used to be taken a bit further when senators were appointed by the state legislatures, but since the 17th amendment senators have become more of a populist super representative than they were orginally planned to be.

One intent of the original legislature appointment method was to prevent the partisan gridlock seen today.


(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I'm voting for Gary Johnson because his candidacy (and career in politics) most closely reflects what I'm looking for in a President. He won't win, but I will have voted for the candidate I can stomach.

That that vote may keep my swing state of Missouri's 11 Electoral College votes out of Romney's final total is just a relished benefit.

Seeing Obama out of the White House is good.

But seeing a Romney Presidency keep conservative / libertarian Presidential candidates for the White House off the field until 2024 is not so good.

jez said...

"I know of local elections decided by the toss of a coin, or cutting a deck of cards."

That sounds pretty much like how rule 4b would turn out in practise. You could fix this without altering the character of AV: just stipulate your preferred random method for breaking a tie. (or leave it up to the states, if you prefer.)

Also, you don't have to use numerals.

I don't think your objections really get to the heart of AV, these are implementation details that are easily overcome. There are flaws with AV, but they're mostly the same flaws as with FPTP, except that AV solves the spoiler effect.

What it comes down to is, do you want the most hated candidate to be able to win?

That's what FPTP allows: all the most hated candidate has to do is split the vote of the hating majority between his rivals, and the minority who like him will prevail. That's why people have to vote tactically.

AV allows you to fully express your wishes. If your options are a jelly bean, a sherbet dib-dab, and a bag of shit, wouldn't you like some way of expressing that your least preferred option is the bag of shit? Under the current system, you have to guess which of the jelly bean and the sherbet are most popular and vote for that, lest a vote for your true preference for sherbet split the vote and inadvertently let in the bag of shit.

viburnum said...

jez: "...lest a vote for your true preference for sherbet split the vote and inadvertently let in the bag of shit."

Which pretty much explains why most libertarians ( small "l") are voting for Romney. As a case in point, the Libertarian vice presidential candidate from 2008 has come out strongly in support. While that, naturally, annoys the Libertarian party diehards, but it's simply an indication of how much work we have left to do to establish ourselves as serious players. That, or execute the sort of takeover of the Republicans that the socialist leaning left accomplished with the Democratic party. The Tea party can be seen as a move in that direction.


jez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jez said...

I don't understand why you consider these type of takeover shenanigans immediately preferable to an attempted fix to the voting system. It's FPTP that reduces the field down to just two realistic candidates, not the media or the debate moderators or anything else.

I'd prefer to improve the system so that it supports more realistic candidates, rather than disenfranchise all those non-Libertarian traditional conservatives.

viburnum said...

It's not preferable, it's simply more practical. While we've always had minor parties the system is essentially weighted towards having two due to the necessity of winning a majority of electoral college votes for President. While it's still possible to get that in a three way race, i.e. Clinton in '92, a serious third party could regularly prevent that and throw the election to whichever party controlled the House.

Despite the pretensions of the current National Popular Vote movement, changing that system to a direct election would require a Constitutional amendment which takes the assent of 3/4's of the states, after a resolution proposing it from a Congress with a vested interest in the status quo. Even when they had total control of Congress the Democrats did not proffer one. Those proposed were tabled without a vote.

As for passing amendments, the latest, the 27th, was proposed Sept. 25, 1789 and ratified May 7, 1992

jez said...

Well a direct election is not a brilliant idea, but I take your point about the difficulty of passing an amendment. It isn't always a good thing to have so much constitutional inertia. :)