On a Brokered Convention

There are many who will discuss the rules and the ins and outs of a brokered convention. This is all well and good considering that’s where it looks like the Republican primary is headed. Given the glut of information out there on the topic, I’m going to attempt to skim the edges and address a grievance being fielded by the Trump campaign (rolling your eyes can strain them so try not to).

Many contend that, even if we arrive at a brokered convention, Trump simply must be the nominee. After all he’s gotten the majority of the votes right? Erm, not so much. If we look at the numbers a majority would in fact mean that he reached that oh so magical number of 1,237 delegates. Given that the primaries were divided initially between some 17 candidates he has gotten the most votes, but it’s a bridge too far to say he got the majority (51%) of votes.

Given that he likely will not have the votes, most say the delegates at the convention should still nominate him because he has the most of any candidate running. This presents several problems. The delegates may not believe he would have won had there been only one or two competitors instead of 16. The delegates may not believe he can beat the presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton (and polls indicate that may be the case). Furthermore, after the initial rounds of voting and even from the start many delegates are not required to pick who their states voted for. Why? The Founding Fathers.

Yes those rascals in wonderfully powdered wigs had an inkling about the common man. They felt that, at times, people might be misinformed, hoodwinked. They did not trust all people to be fully aware of the people they were voting for or to make properly educated decisions when voting. The fix? The electoral college (and by extension delegates at the conventions). Despite the uninformed nonsense you hear about us electing our Presidents directly, we do not. These delegates can and sometimes do vote differently than they are asked to by their states.

It is crucial to remember this as the convention gets rolling, if it comes to that. If Trump has the most delegates and yet is not elected as the nominee, it is not quite such a travesty as a procedural anomaly. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does we must remember that the rules are in place to (theoretically) protect us from poor choices and give our parties the best chance at winning the general election. Whichever side you fall on, it will be an interesting election to be sure.



A Brief History: Twin Towers

Digging into the old high school files, I thought this one was interesting enough to post since I have been way too busy to post recently… (forgive writing errors, like I said it’s from high school)–

In 1943, the idea was raised to create a World Trade Center in New York City. The New York State legislature ended up passing a bill to begin plans for the project which they gave to Governor Thomas Dewey. Most economic development was taking place in Midtown Manhattan and to change that and distribute the development, David Rockefeller suggested putting the buildings in Lower Manhattan. Port Authority eventually took over Hudson and Manhattan railroad because ridership was going down. They decided to place the World Trade Center on the west side of Lower Manhattan so riders could easily get there when the train stopped.
On September 20th, 1962, Minoru Yamasaki was chosen as the lead architect while Emery Roth and Sons was chosen as associate architects. Originally, Yamasaki thought of the twin towers and wanted them to be 80 stories high, but to meet the square footage requirement the towers were stretched to 110 stories high. The design included express and local elevators. The express elevators made stops at the 44th and 78th floors, from there local elevators could be taken to the floor people wanted. January 18th, 1964, the designs were revealed to the public. All in all there would be seven buildings spanning over 16 acres. Steel and concrete beams would make up the structure of the buildings. The towers especially were designed to sway in the wind  in order to negate some bad effects the wind could create.
August 5th, 1966 began the groundbreaking for the construction site. In 1970 the North Tower was finished and the South Tower followed a year later. In all, the Twin Towers cost Port Authority $900 million. Starting 1970 and 1972 respectively, the North and South towers began accepting tenants in their office spaces. When completed, the towers were the tallest buildings in the world, especially tower number one which was outfitted with a 360 ft antenna. The buildings themselves were 1,368 feet tall, beating the Empire State Building which held the previous record. At first tenants were hard to come by but eventually private businesses mostly tied to Wall Street began to move in. Eventually by the 1990s, about 500 companies resided in the building including Morgan Stanley and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
On average, fifty-thousand people worked in the buildings while approximately two-hundred thousand people visited the towers every day. The towers became an icon of New York and the United States of America. Problems however stood on the horizon for the buildings. February 13th, 1975, a fire erupted from the 11th floor of the North Tower. The fire quickly spread through insulation to affect the 9th through 14th floors. The building had no sprinkler systems so water was thrown upon the fires which were put out fairly quickly and no damage was done to the fireproofed steel but some water damage occurred on the floors in addition to the fire damage. On February 26th, 1993, the terrorist Ramzi Yousef left a truck filled with 1,500 pounds of explosives in the underground garage of the North Tower. The explosion left a 100 foot hole through a couple sublevels of the structure and the building was evacuated of its 50,000 or so occupants. Six people were killed by the blast and much repair work had to be done as the blast weakened the underground supports. The conspirators were detained and charged for their crimes.
The worst turn came on September 11th, 2001 when at 8:46AM terrorists flew a hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 plane into the North Tower which became lodged between the 93rd and 99th floors. At 9:03 a second plane struck the South Tower, United Airlines Flight 175 hitting between the 77th and 85th floors. The South Tower burned for 56 minutes and at 9:59 AM fell to the ground to be joined by the North Tower 29 minutes later which burned for 102 minutes. In all 2,754 were pronounced dead after the attacks as people were killed by the impact, the fires, inhaling dust and smoke, and jumping from the towers. The event would be the launch point of America’s War on Terror which sought to bring justice to those who were behind the horrific attacks and those like them. In addition, the city has begun to rebuild on the site and as of March 2011, the first tower stood at 58 floors while the other buildings were beginning construction and projected to be done by about 2020. The event forever changed the view Americans had on the world in which they lived and the isolation of the United States since its last war.

Putrid Air or Something Else??

Last post I told you about my favorite resource for looking up medical theories and practices throughout history. Today, I want to write about one of the more interesting books I found in the digital collection. The work is titled, “An inquiry into the various sources of the usual forms of summer & autumnal disease in the United States, and the means of preventing them: to which are added, Facts, intended to prove the yellow fever not to be contagious” by Benjamin Rush. Rush was one of our nation’s founders and also a respected physician in Pennsylvania. Generally, when he spoke on an issue, people were pretty darn sure he was right and they followed his advice. Well, as with most historical medicinal treatises we can now prove his work wrong (to some degree).

In the early days of America, Yellow Fever was a very common disease, especially in coastal areas. Carried by mosquitoes, the disease was deadly to a good portion of those who contracted it. However, experts of that time had completely false notions of what caused Yellow Fever and other similar forms of disease. They figured that the disease was contracted by those who breathed in bad air. Yes, I just said that. They thought miasmas (their term for bad air) produced by rotting vegetables and wood, stagnant air and water, and just about anything putrid smelling would get you sick and would be even more deadly if you did anything to “excite” the disease like exercising or being too hot or too cold.

Now, in some respects we can actually say Benjamin Rush and his colleagues were quite right. These rotting products and stagnant water were indeed problems. They simply did not understand the mechanism by which the disease was passed along. The conditions they described actually caused the real problem to appear, they created breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Today, mosquito control experts say that any amount of stagnant water even as small as a bottle cap can become breeding grounds for thousands of mosquitoes. For those who lived along the coasts of early America, these mosquitoes were a part of daily life. They were considered an annoyance but not much more.

Eventually we came to understand the connection between the two and nowadays we link many diseases to mosquitoes and have proper controls for them in the public health sector. I just found it so interesting that Rush and others were unable to see this as it makes me wonder what we aren’t seeing with say cancer or other prevalent diseases and conditions. What will we look like to future generations of scholars and doctors? Just some food for thought.

Thanks for reading and Best Wishes,

The Poli Sci Guy

Disease if you please…

One of my absolute favorite topics- which may seem odd- is that of the role of disease in history. Reading up on yellow fever in 1800s America is fantastic. Exploring letters about camp conditions during the Civil War is pretty amazing. When I am looking for these topics I generally tend to go to a site I found sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (http://collections.nlm.nih.gov/) which has a whole collection of digital books on the subject. I thought as my first post I ought to allude to something which has been of great interest and assistance to me in my studies. I hope some of you find it as interesting as I have!

From Humble Beginnings…

So basically, we all know the government is pretty messed up. Right, left, or straight down the middle, nobody seems happy, and with good reason. In many ways our nation has improved dramatically, but in many ways it is falling apart. Personally, I am an avid fan of history (I actually teach it and have a Political Science degree- hence the name). I feel like by looking back, we can look ahead with greater confidence. Am I an expert? By no means. I’m just like you, I simply care about what’s going on. Do I have all the answers? By no means. However, if the common goal is to make America the best dang place on Earth- and I posit it should be- then we have to start with dialogue; not screaming back and forth on a talk show or throwing names around, but honest to goodness dialogue. We also have to take an honest look at our history, and that of all who came before us, to understand where we are headed.

With those goals in mind, let’s get started!

P.S. While I do love history and politics, a lot of other things cross my mind that I just can’t help but write about. Forgive me for my endless digressions.