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Vote_12345LUMPENPROLETARIAT—An expert on constitutional law and criminal procedure, American legal scholar Dr. Akhil Amar, has authored a number of books.  His most recent is entitled The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era (2016).  Dr. Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, where he teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School.  Dr. Amar was formerly the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School and was named Sterling Professor of Law in 2008.  A Legal Affairs poll placed Dr. Amar among the top 20 contemporary legal thinkers in the United States. [1]

Dr. Amar joined free speech radio today for a brief discussion of the history of the antidemocratic Electoral College in the United States.  The Electoral College, of course, was created as an escape clause by the nation’s founding fathers.  Should the people ever manage to elect a President and Vice President, which the ruling class opposes, which at the time of the founding fathers was white property-owning males, the Electoral College can simply override the people’s will and elect whomever they please.  Of course, this is antidemocratic.  Let’s see what Dr. Amar has to say about this regressive institution. [2]  Listen (and/or downloadhere. [3]



UPFRONT—[26 OCT 2016]  [transcript pending; Electoral College segment is the second segment of this broadcast.]

[Introduction by co-host Cat Brooks]

[KPFA News Headlines (read by Aileen Alfandary), including the latest Trump news meme: ‘Trump may refuse to accept election outcome’  From a critical media literacy standpoint, can we say this is an example of ‘junk food news’?  Or ‘news abuse’?  The disproportionate amount of media time Trump gets continues, as he continues to be covered the most, Hillary Clinton the second-most, and alternative party candidates, such as Dr. Jill Stein, are virtually ignored.  This is happening, despite the fact that the real news story before the American people right now is the erosion of democracy, which the marginalisation of political alternatives produces.]

[First segment is a debate on California’s Proposition 60, which would require condoms be used in pornographic films.  Proposition 60 is one of 17 statewide ballots on the November 4, 2016 general election ballot.  Dr. Gary Richwald, former director and chief physician at the Los Angeles County STD programmed as well as a contributing author of Proposition 60, is arguing in favour of Proposition 60.  Siouxsie Q. James, a pornographic film performer, journalist, sex worker rights activist, and core member of the No On 60 campaign, is arguing against Proposition 60.  She is also the founder of The Whorecast, a podcast, which works to humanize sex work.]  (c. 30:30)

[KPFA News Headlines (read by Aileen Alfandary), including more of junk food news about Trump, and no mention of Dr. Jill Stein or other alternative presidential candidates, or their plight in the antidemocratic two-party system.]

[Second segment:  Dr. Akhil Reed Amar on the Electoral College and its connection to slavery.]  (c. 57:50)

[Abrupt end to interview, as if the studio engineer, or operator, just cut off the pre-recorded interview at midpoint.]

[snip]  (c. 59:59)

Learn more at UPFRONT.


[1]  At least two of Dr. Amar’s students have gone on to prominence.  Dr. Neal Katyal has a interesting legal record.  One of his more notable legal victories won a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court defending former Attorney General John Ashcroft against alleged abuses of civil liberties in the so-called War On Terror.  Another student of Dr. Amar, Dr. John Yoo, will be well-known to audiences of free speech radio for his semantical hair-splitting efforts at trampling human rights by trying to justify torture, or enhanced interrogation, in the Torture Memos and narrowing American habeas corpus obligations.

For example, on December 1, 2005, Yoo appeared in a debate in Chicago with Doug Cassel, a law professor from the University of Notre Dame.  During the debate, Cassel asked Yoo,

‘If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?’, to which Yoo replied, ‘No treaty.’  Cassel followed up with ‘Also no law by Congress—that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo’, to which Yoo replied, ‘I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.’

[2]  Notes on the free speech radio broadcast:

Not bad.  The interview seems to be incomplete, however, as it ends abruptly and there are closing remarks, no farewells.  It is an interesting, and engaging, interview with truly one of our leading legal experts.  It’s interesting that two of his students have gone on to become prominent figures in the field of law, at least one of them completely joining the dark side.

And the interview failed, at any rate, to round out the discussion about American elections and the Electoral College with the inclusion of the progressive electoral reforms of ranked-choice voting and proportional representation in Congress.  It would have been nice to hear Dr. Amar’s thoughts and that.  But, more importantly, it is absolutely crucial that we question our regressive winner-take-all system at every opportunity.  It’s bad enough when the corporate media avoids progressive electoral reform ideas.  But it’s really bad when free speech radio neglects, or fails, to do so.

The interview would have benefited from being allowed a full hour-long broadcast.  Then, Dr. Amar could have also been asked about ranked-choice voting, proportional representation in Congress, the 2016 Presidential Elections, including the role of third-parties, such as the Green Party and the candidacy of a progressive, such as Dr. Jill Stein.  Dr. Amar could have also been given a chance to make any closing remarks, or to answer a question or two about his new book, which they didn’t address.

Hopefully, these aspects might be rectified in future.

[3]  Terrestrial radio transmission.


[26 OCT 2016]

[Last modified 15:11 PDT  27 OCT 2016]