Privilege; What it is and how it works

Candice eetimesThis past year, I’ve noted an increase in discussion of “privilege”, who has it, and who doesn’t.  Or in far too many cases, people who clearly have it denying it exists.  But, as usual, I find that most of the discussion misses the mark by a very wide margin, largely because of a combination of failing to define what and how privilege is and operates and conflating privilege with advantage and entitlement.

Privilege is the flip side of bias and discrimination… one is privileged if they are free from laws, custom, or bias that reduces their rights and puts obstacles in the way of one’s pursuit of happiness.  Privilege doesn’t mean that one’s life is, or will be, easy; it means that law, custom, or bias doesn’t, or won’t, make it harder than it does for others.

The term “privilege” comes from “private law”, the acknowledgement that some people have legal rights and some don’t.  A king had a special status, a private law, that didn’t apply to his subjects, “rank hath its privileges”.

But there is another form, that which is given by custom and bias.  It should come as no surprise that, even today, most people, both men and women, still hold irrational biases that grant men more privileges than to women.  That bias is so strong that study after study have shown that women and minorities have to be demonstrably more competent and accomplished than white men to even hold their own in many domains. (Look up the “Matilda Effect“.)

Privilege of this sort does not lie within the individual.  It lies in those who surround the individual.  It is granted automatically, by law, custom, or bias.  One cannot consciously disown such privilege since it is not within their control to bestow it upon themselves in the first place.

From privilege can, and usually does, come advantage.  It is what allows some people to move forward in their lives in an easier manner.  It also accumulates.  When someone is accustomed to having privilege and to accumulating advantage, it often engenders ‘entitlement’, the personal belief that such privileges that come from law, custom, or bias are ‘owed’ to them, or that they ‘earned’ them, that they are due to them because of a perceived sense of superiority.  It should come as no surprise that most men, accustomed as they are to socially granted privilege, fail to see their privilege over their female peers.

Until very recently, men had legal rights that women did not in nearly every nation (and still do in far too many).  For example men had the right to vote, women did not. In Saudi Arabia, men can drive, women cannot.  Men weren’t likely to be fired from a job because they got married, women often were.  Men whose wives got pregnant were congratulated.  Women who got pregnant were often fired.  When I was young, one could open the newspaper to the “Help Wanted” ads to find that they were divided into two major sections, “Help Wanted – Male” and “Help Wanted – Female”.  Guess which category all of the higher paying jobs like tech and management positions were in.  This is ‘male privilege’ in its most naked and raw form.  But even when the laws change, the bias and discrimination will continue for generations.  (See my essay on James Damore and women in tech.)

During the first nine decades after the United States declared independence, people of African descent were legally held as chattel slaves with no legal rights while people of “pure” European descent were not.  This is ‘white privilege’ in its most naked, raw, and brutal form.  Even after slavery was abolished with the 13th Amendment and legal equality established by the 14th, many states, mostly in the South, found ways to legally restrict the rights and human dignity of their black citizens with “Jim Crow” laws; laws that only slowly were dismantled, mostly by courts showing that they violated the 14th Amendment on one hand, and the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts in 1964 & ’65 on the other.  The Federal government began to actively discriminate against blacks in the ’30s through redlining of largely black neighborhoods discouraging banks from lending money to buy homes and  investing in businesses.  This practice continued until the late ’70s.  This was also ‘white privilege’ in its naked and raw form.  But even when the laws change, the bias and discrimination will continue for generations.

Around the time that the US declared independence, one of its leading statesmen, Thomas Jefferson, turned to reforming the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia including making gay male sex punishable by 20 years in prison.  This was considered very liberal in that it had been punished by death.  The year I was born, 1957, homosexuality was criminalized, punishable by years of imprisonment, in every US state.  Illinois became the first state to decriminalize homosexuality in 1961.  A smattering of states slowly decriminalized it in the following decades.  But it took the Supreme Court to decriminalize it in all of the states in 2003.  There are teenagers today who were born in states where it was still punishable by years of imprisonment!  In 1953, the President of the United States signed an executive order calling LGBT folks “perverts” and declared them ineligible to be employed by the Federal government, government contractors, or organizations receiving federal monies in any capacity and strongly urged our international allies to do the same in their nations.  Thousands lost their jobs, some committed suicide.  For decades lesbian and bisexual women would lose their children as courts terminated their parental rights and handed over their children to heterosexual couples to adopt.  The ban on gays and lesbians in the military was only repealed in this past decade.  Marriage equality for all couples, regardless of sex, was only enforced by the Supreme Court in 2015.  There are school children alive today whose parents were denied the right to marry when they were born.  Recently some states have passed laws that allow governments to outsource foster and adoption placement to private agencies that will deny LGBT people the option of adoption under the thin guise of “religious liberty”.  This is ‘straight privilege’ in its most naked and raw form.  But even when laws change, the bias and discrimination will continue for generations.

During the 19th and until nearly the end of the 20th Century, transgender people were criminalized in nearly all cities and larger towns by “anti-impersonation” laws.  Laws that prescribed fines and jail terms for wearing clothing not considered appropriate for their biological sex.  These laws were still on the books and enforced into the 1970s and in some locales even into the 1980s.  Beginning in the 1960s, transgender people who were under physician care for “transsexualism” were careful to carry letters and special ID cards from clinics that some, but not all, localities would honor, a sort of, “get out of jail free card”.  Beginning in the ’70s, some states would allow change of gender status on ID, others would not.  Today, there are states and localities which are passing so-called “bathroom bills” which would de facto criminalize transgender people again.  And of course, the current president has called for the continuation of the ban on transfolk in the military.  This is ‘cis privilege’ in its most naked and raw form.  But even when laws change, the bias and discrimination will continue for generations.

privilegeSo, yes, “Straight White Cis-Male” privilege, the freedom from bias and discrimination, and the accumulating advantages that brings, most definitely does exist.  And when a straight white cis-man denies it… well… I know entitlement when I hear it.

Further Reading:

Essay on James Damore and Women in Tech

 

 

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How to Save American Education?

Candice eetimesCan We Solve The School Funding Crisis?

For years, we have seen a growing crisis in American schools as funding cuts force teachers to buy school supplies and textbooks fall apart.  Our best teachers burn out and teaching to the test mentality tells potential educators that they wouldn’t be allowed to teach anything else.  It’s a lose-lose for everyone… except it seems, for the football coach and the PE instructor.

So how do we fix this?

First, we have to admit that schools, especially high schools don’t actually focus on education.  Yes, I know you think that is a strange statement; but hear me out.

Visit any high school during the weekend or evening.  Walk through the halls past the big and prominent trophy case.  What do you see?  You could be forgiven for thinking that you weren’t at a school at all, but a sports club.  All those trophies are for sports, not the school’s academic excellence.  Oh, some schools may have a small plaque, though more likely a mass-produced paper certificate, declaring the school to be “Excellent” and signed by a school administrator somewhere.  But come on… we all know those really big trophies go to the school with the best sports teams.

Visit any high school during the day.  Look at what the kids are wearing.  Notice something odd?  Some of the kids are wearing special clothing in the school’s colors.  Usually it’s the boys who are wearing jackets with school letters and girls wearing tight-fitting tops and short skirts in school colors… skirts that would be deemed to be against the school’s dress code if it didn’t have the official blessing of the school because of their special status as a uniform for… well.. not for academic excellence or achievement.  So, just who gets recognition and rewarded for what activities in these schools?

Can you imagine a school that awarded special clothing to elite academic performing students instead of elite athletes?

Take a look at how much land and monies are devoted to what activities.  Those big gyms with roll-up bleachers and electronic scoreboards aren’t cheap.  The plumbing in the locker rooms took a pretty penny.  Those lawns and outdoor bleachers aren’t cheap either.  All of that expense for only a small handful of students who will never participate in any meaningful way in those activities, save as parents sitting in those bleachers, once they are adults.

How many of the teachers at the school became teachers so that they could be coaches of those sports?  Does the math teacher have a degree in mathematics?  Or does he have a degree in physical education and coach a team after school?  Does that science teacher have a degree in chemistry, biology, or physics?  Not likely given that they could make five times as much in industry if they actually learned something of those subjects in university.  If your school was anything like mine, most of those teaching STEM courses barely passed an intro survey course.  (Our physics teacher had no idea what anti-matter consisted of… and failed me for using trigonometry to solve a physics problem involving light refracting through different media because he didn’t understand the math.  My freshman algebra teacher taught us to “guess” what values would solve the equations.  Yes, PE majors in college teaching future STEM students is a great idea.)

Is it any wonder that our schools are in trouble and that our students do so poorly in academic subjects like science and mathematics, especially compared to students from other nations?

“Sports are embedded in American schools in a way they are not almost anywhere else. Yet this difference hardly ever comes up in domestic debates about America’s international mediocrity in education. (The U.S. ranks 31st on the same international math test.) The challenges we do talk about are real ones, from undertrained teachers to entrenched poverty. But what to make of this other glaring reality, and the signal it sends to children, parents, and teachers about the very purpose of school?”

So why do we spend so much effort on physical education and sports at the expense of actual education?  The reason may surprise and even anger you.  It certainly does me!

WAR!!!

It’s so that we can turn young people, especially boys, into cannon fodder!  Yes, the requirements of the military who would draft and then have to train up young men to be big tough soldiers ready to slog through mud and march many miles with a heavy backpack, to make them into able-bodied infantry ready to die for his country.  The military can save time and money getting our youth ready to be grunts by transferring that task to our schools.  Just consider this bit from “A Brief History of Physical Education In America’s Schools”,

“Interestingly, the driver behind the establishment of the physical education system in America was war—in short, the fitness of soldiers in combat became a country-wide priority. After the end of the American Civil War, school systems implemented physical education programs and enacted laws that would make the inclusion of physical education programs compulsory in all public schools.

After World War I ended, distressing overall health statistics revealed that one-third of all drafted recruits in the U.S military were not physically fit for combat. The government interceded and passed legislation intended to advance the quality of physical education classes throughout the country. During World War II physical education programs became more common for men and women due to the physical fitness that was required in military service and for manual labor jobs.”

It’s no accident that during the Cold War and the Vietnam War, during a large military draft and build-up, that the Federal government ran television ads from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.  In fact, the Council was created in 1956 after a conference held at the Naval Accademy.  The next conference on the subject was held a year later at the Military Academy at West Point.  Years later, the Council was renamed to include sports as a means of increasing physical fitness, readiness to be foot soldiers.   Our nation’s school’s focus on sports and PE are the direct result of our military’s intervention in our educational policies.

Our schools care more for preparing our students to become cannon fodder than educated citizens.  So, knowing this, one understands what’s wrong with our schools and how to fix them.  Stop being a pre-boot-camp for the Army and become a true school for the future of our democratic republic.

We could easily find the monies needed for our schools… by simply eliminating PE and after school sports.  School should be about learning.  Athletic Clubs shouldn’t double as schools.

(Addendum 5/27/2018:  In case you were wondering just how badly America stack up against other nations in science knowledge and understanding:

https://amp.businessinsider.com/science-questions-quiz-public-knowledge-education-2018-5 )

Further Reading:

Essay on how to ensure higher education opportunities for all

References:

A Brief History of Physical Education In America’s Schools

The Case Against High School Sports

History of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness

 

 

The Misguided IQ Debate

Candice eetimesThere has been an uptick in the number of articles, podcasts, and online debates about IQ differences between groups, most especially regarding the so-called ‘races’ and of course between the sexes.  There are typically two sides, both equally right and at the very same time equally wrong.  One side cites IQ studies that show that there are differences between groups and thus conclude that there are genetic differences between them.  The other side says that is pure racism or sexism.  The first side then claims that the second side is anti-science and knee jerk “social justice warriors”.

In all of this debate, I have read only one man, who straddled both sides, who came closer to the right answer when he said that those talking about the IQ differences in the science literature is about two different phenomena.  One, is where we note that there are average differences between defined groups.  The other is where we research the genetics of IQ.  The two do NOT meet.  Sadly, he failed to go into enough detail to explain why.

First, lets talk about the genetics studies of IQ.  The first thing researchers wanted to know is what it the “heritability” of IQ.  To do this they used twin studies, noting the differences and similarities in IQ scores of  identical vs fraternal twins in situations where they are raised together vs apart.  This leads to four different cases.  In one case, it is assumed that both siblings share both genetic and environmental influences while in the other case, only 50% of the genes are shared while maintaining the same early environmental influences if they are raised together.  If raised apart… well, you get the idea.  From this, studies have led to estimates of 50% to 80% heritability.  That is to say, that genetic differences can account for half to 80% of the VARIABILITY of IQ scores.

Remember, so far, we’ve been looking at the variability of individuals within a population, not the differences between populations.

Here we need to understand why the studies show such widely different results.  It is caused by the very nature of environmental influences.  The closer to optimal environmental conditions, the greater the genetics will explain the variability and thus the presumed heritability.  If everyone in a study had absolutely perfectly optimal environmental conditions, ALL of the variability would have to be from the genetic differences and thus a study would show that IQ was 100% heritable.  But life is never the same for two individuals.  And they certainly aren’t the same, nor optimal, for all individuals everywhere for all time.

Thus, the differences in environmental conditions may (they don’t have to automatically be this way) lead to greater variability in a population and thus lower the estimates of heritability.  The question to be asked is how sensitive is IQ to differences in environmental conditions?  The answer is… an amazing amount !  How do we know this?  The Flynn Effect.

Please take a moment to read the Wikipedia entry on the Flynn Effect (so I don’t have to repeat what it says):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

The Flynn effect describes the changes in average IQ scores in the same genetic population (gene pool) over a very short period of time.  We don’t have to know what causes the effect.  We need only note that the effect has caused a significantly larger change in average IQ within populations over time than the putative differences found between populations (and in the difference in range of IQ between the sexes).  Is it too much of a stretch to conjecture that any putative differences found between populations is more likely to be attributable to environmental differences, that populations are distributed along different points of the Flynn Effect, than to any putative differences in genetics?

Thus, we see that one group has jumped to the wrong conclusion about the differences between populations because of ‘racial’ bias and another group is reacting in an anti-science manner out of fear that any conclusion will adversely effect disadvantaged populations. Both are wrong.

The number of genes and the number of environmental factors are both very large… too large to come to any conclusion regarding putative differences between populations at this time.

Besides, this argument is looking at the wrong thing.  We shouldn’t be looking at the genetics.  We should be looking at the data to find out what is the optimal environment and ensuring that each and every human being on the planet experiences it.

Free Speech vs. Academic Freedom

Candice eetimesHow do you define “free speech”?

We need to ask because lately, people have been arguing that our college campuses have abandoned free speech.  However, it would appear that they are confusing “freedom of speech” with “academic freedom”, a much different concept.  Further, many outsiders, visitors and speakers not part of the official university community, have claimed that their “free speech rights” are being denied on campuses.

Lets clear a few things up.  First, “free speech” rights are part of the American value system both culturally and legally, codified right in our Constitution in the Bill of Rights.  However, that right is NOT the right to be heard.  It is the right to NOT be arrested when speaking out.  That is to say, if you say something critical of policy or politician, you may NOT be arrested and prosecuted.  It does not give a person the right to demand that an institution provide a platform to disseminate that position.  A university is well within its rights to turn away a would-be speaker.

What people are really asking for is a form of “academic freedom”… another value occasionally professed by centers for higher learning.  But once again, not a right guaranteed by any law.  This freedom is usually granted to instructors or researchers who have gained a contractual protection called ‘tenure’.  But even tenure may not protect an individual who steps outside of other norms and values held collectively by the university community.

No university or college is under any legal or moral obligation to provide a platform for an outsider, either under the rubric of “free speech” nor of “academic freedom”.  An invited speaker does so purely as a courtesy on both sides.  No one’s rights have been abrogated if a would be speaker is disinvited for any reason.

Having dispensed with the notion of rights, we may turn to the question of wisdom of turning away such speakers.  There is something to be said for providing a wider range of ideas and opinions to be heard on campus to provide a better education, or perhaps to bolster deeper cultural understanding.  However, when a would-be speaker’s primary reason for speaking is to gain the imprimatur of respectability and even of implied correctness for their ideas from having spoken at an institution… and that institution’s values would oppose those ideas and would seek to deny attaching its reputation to those ideas, the institution would be better served by denying that platform.

Let’s be specific, speakers calling for discrimination or other illtreatment of others do NOT have a right to expect university support for their ideas nor to provide a platform from which to call for these injustices.

On the other hand… when an institution has invited a speaker, that speaker has the moral expectation that they will not be subject to undue harassment and physical danger.  Members of the university community have the right to speak against the ideas of the speaker, but not the right to shout them down, as that interferes with right of other members of the community to hear out the speaker, which was after all, the reason for inviting the speaker.  One does not have to be respectful of the ideas or opinions of the speaker; but one must be respectful of the rights of others to civil conduct during a presentation.

Video Review: The Expanse

Candice eetimesI finally had the chance to watch the first two episodes of The Expanse.  It has been well reviewed by others.  Those reviews all speak well of the production values and the scientific realism of the show.  Sigh…

First, there are lots of wonderful high quality details… but as I’ve explained before, one of my pet peeves is the fetish that Hollywood has for transparent displays.  This show has them in abundance.  It’s irritating and pulls me out of the story and into my career as an expert on display design.  But that isn’t the only problem with science and technology on the show.

In one scene, a hard-boiled cop with a streak of cynical corruption pours liquid from a bottle into a glass… that goes sideways… SIDEWAYS!  Ummmm… if that’s the effect of gravity of Ceres, then the engineers of the habitat messed up and didn’t plumb the building.  Then it occurred to me… perhaps they are trying to show the effect of Coriolis?  No, that can’t be right as Ceres has a rotation (day length) of nine hours.  The coriolis effect would be far too small to be noticed.  Ok… could it represent that the bottle was under some pressure and Ceres tiny 0.03g gravity wasn’t involved?  This would make more sense… but the bottle didn’t seem to be a pressured bottle.  Nothing I can think of would explain the behavior of the liquid.

Thinking of gravity… at that tiny gravity, everyone on Ceres should have been loping, not walking… and certainly NOT running as occurred in several scenes.  The moment someone tried it, they would be bounding off the floor!  And then there is the issue of shipboard gravity/acceleration.  While it may make superficial sense for people to use magnetic boots in zero g, a long time favorite staple of budget limited science fiction film, actual walking in them makes zero sense.  Walking is a form of “falling” forward and toward the floor then catching yourself.  Without real gravity/acceleration walking just isn’t possible.  The best that could occur is to use the mag boots in situation where one wants to lock oneself into one “standing” position so as to enable working on tasks that require that torque be applied by one’s arms.  Then… there are the scenes where ship acceleration is used to provide gravity.  Yes, the physics allow that… the energetics do not.  One would not provide constant moderate g burns to rocket around the solar system.  It would take more reaction mass than the mass of the ship!  Then there is the sillyness of the design of the chairs used during high g burns… sigh… one would not be sitting upright!  One would be lying down, lazyboy fashion, so that one’s heart didn’t have to fight the acceleration to keep blood flowing to one’s brain (drugs or no drugs).

Speaking of energetics and economics.  The notion of capturing ice in the outer solar system and storing it in a ship that then brings it back to the belt makes zero sense.  Ice is very plentiful in the outer system in the form of comets and Saturn’s rings.  One would simply (as if anything in space is “simple”) strap an ion rocket powered by plutonium Radioactive Thermal Generator (RTG) to nudge it into a least energy orbit to the belt.  If that’s not enough water and other gasses… do it over and over.  No human should be riding it back down to the belt.  There should NEVER be a shortage of water available to the belt.

OK… I love the show for it’s hard science fiction feel… I just wish that they had a better science advisor!  Or perhaps, had chosen to base the show on a SciFi book series where the author knew better?

Additional Reading:

What Hollywood Gets Wrong In Futuristic Science Fiction

Free Range Childhood…

Candice eetimesWhen my daughter Liz was ten years old, I would pick her up from school and take her directly to the ice rink where she could skate and I could sit in comfort and occasionally glance through a window from the warm lobby to see her zooming backwards at high-speed to throw herself into the air to perform a double mumble-mumble. (I could never keep the moves clear in my head.  They all looked the same to me.)  I usually read a book while Liz was on the ice.  Every now and then she would zoom up to the window, tap on it to get my attention so she could show off to me.  A happy child doing happy kid things.  Life was good.

Then one day, a woman a few years younger than me came up and angrily demanded that I, “do something about” my daughter.  I glanced up from my book, searching through the throng of mostly pre-adolescent girls on the ice until I spotted Liz, chatting and playing with another little girl… whew!  For a moment, I thought that Liz had perhaps gotten into a fight with another child or hurt herself.  I turned back to the woman and asked what she was so agitated about.

“Your daughter is distracting mine from her practice!”

Oh boy… an “ice skating mom”… you know the type, living out their dreams of athletic and artistic narcissistic glory through their children.

“What I see is too little girls doing what kids that age should be doing, playing, socializing, learning how to make friends.”

Off the woman huffed, put out by my total lack of concern or sympathy.

That was decades ago.  Today, not only are parents totally controlling every moment of their children’s lives and thoughts, our neighbors are turning us into the authorities if we too do not hover over our children, never letting them out of our sight for a moment, never letting them be… like kids used to be… kids.

Older adults can remember walking or riding their bike to school alone.  Playing in the park with their friends while their parents were at work or at home.  We used to play with the neighbor kids down by the creek, in a tiny copse of trees and brush, get our shoes squishy wet catching pollywogs in a jar with nary an adult in sight.  If we got hungry, we dropped in on any one of our parents houses for cookies and milk before running out to toss a frisbee or jump rope in the suburban street.  The boys would be playing baseball with a light bat and a taped up ‘wiffle-ball’.  (The wiffle-ball, if you don’t have such memories, was a plastic ball with holes in it so light that it could never break a neighbors windows… but because of the holes, they couldn’t be thrown very far, so the boys would tape them up with black electricians tape to make them more aerodynamic and a tad heavier.)

Sometimes, an ice cream truck would come by… and kids would haul out their dimes from their pockets to get a treat… and we didn’t have to ask permission from our parents.

But today’s kids will never have these memories unless this horrid practice of over supervision of every moment of their lives isn’t countered with a counter movement back to sanity… cause as it is now… parents are afraid that the neighbors will call the police and child protective services if they so much as let their kids play in the front yard alone.

Hurray for Utah.  (And I never thought I would be happy about anything that came out of that homophobic state.)  They have specifically made a law that allows kids to be kids.  The “Free Range Parenting” movement, which is really just a return to the type of parenting that was the norm before the past two decades, has finally pushed back against the “stranger danger” and “oh my god your child can’t walk to school alone like that” fear mongers.  Hurray for Utah.

Now, let’s see this same sanity return to the rest of the Western world.

Electoral College Is Only One Problem…

Candice eetimesMany folks have been calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College for a number of reasons, one of which is the failure of our recent election to install the candidate who won the most votes.  Personally, I have even more issues with the system in that we no longer vote directly for an Elector, but instead we have bypassed the original intent by voting for a slate of Electors by party in a winner take all contest in many states.  Then, we have laws that would seek to enforce the winner take all slate vote during the actual Electoral election some weeks later for the candidate that they had pledged to when selected by their party.  This present system could not be further removed from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States of America back in the late 18th Century.

So lets imagine that those original framers were somehow alive today and able to debate the issues anew based on what over two hundred years of the history of our republic have taught us about their great experiment.

First, all of the abolitionists would be both satisfied and horrified that their misgivings about slavery had come about.  Yes, there were active abolitionists at the convention.  But in order to pull together the States into the Union, a compromise was needed.  My favorite aphorism about politics is that “Good politics is compromise… unless it is one’s own rights that are compromised”  Unfortunately, all of the framers were white men.  I would add “straight”… but in fact a few of them were very likely gay or bi, both from historic evidence and from statistical probability.  No black men.  No women.  That slavery and institutional disenfranchisement of women were baked into the constitution were just two of the great injustices found in this otherwise great document.

Did you know that at the time of the framing of the constitution that one of the states allowed women to vote?  Yes, New Jersey allowed women to vote if they met the same qualifications as men… which was they had to be financially well off.  But since far more men then women owned property, they booted women off the island in the early 19th Century.  Yes, women’s rights went backward, a lesson for LGBT folk as well.  We can’t be too vigilant.

There would be another problem that the framers would now recognize.  The status of the Vice President.  In real practice, the “Vice President” is actually the “President of the Senate” with the ability to vote there in the case of a tie vote.  But the VP is also in the line of succession.  As we saw in the case of the death of FDR during WWII, the then VP, Harry Truman, was totally unprepared to step into the Oval Office at first because he had been outside the loop.  He had truly been the President of the Senate… NOT the an actual member of the Executive Branch of the government.  This needs to be fixed.

Finally, as we’ve seen this past year, the framer’s fears that a popular but utterly unsuitable candidate might be installed by an ill-informed public if given the direct vote was realized due to our having disabled the original mechanism of the Electoral College.  There has even been calls for the other party to double up on the problem by encouraging yet another such candidate to stand for election to oppose him.

The original framers would, I strongly believe, be aghast.  I certainly am.

We do not need another celebrity President.

So, in the spirit of being at a Constitutional Convention, I propose several amendements to our constitution:

Item:  The Office of President of the Senate be separate from the Vice President of the United States.  The President of the Senate to be elected solely by the Senate for a term of six years.  To be qualified, the candidate must have been previously a Senator for at least a full term, with honor, and may not be a currently sitting Senator.

Item:  The Office of President of the United States of America is to be elected by direct popular vote of the People of the United States and its Territories for a term of four years and may not serve for more than two terms.  To be qualified, the candidate must have served at least one term, with honor, as the Governor of one of the several States.

Item:  The Office of Vice President of the United States of America is to be elected by direct popular vote of the People of the United States and its Territories.  To be qualified, the candidate must have served at least one term, with honor, as the Governor of one of the several States.  During their tenure as Vice President, the officer shall hold the position and responsibilities of Secretary of State.

Item:  The line of succession should the President be unavailable or unable to fulfill the responsibilities shall be as follows, the Vice President.  The Office of Vice President would then be filled by a qualified candidate elected by a college consisting of the current Governors of the several States only until the next Federal election.

Item:  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.