Supreme Court to hear #FaithlessElector arguments this month

SOCTUS-BldgThe Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments on May 13 about the constitutionality of Faithless Elector laws established by the states, and it will deliver an opinion this summer.

At stake is whether Electors are independent actors, or are bound by the laws of their respective states.

Until very recently, most scholars seemed to agree that if the question came before the Court, the Court would rule that Electors were free to choose according to their individual consciences, which is what the Electoral College was intended for. Indeed, the schism between what has come to seem customary and how things actually work was the dramatic–and dire!–premise of my 2016 thriller, Faithless Elector. Now it seems less clear. And even when viewed through a so-called States Rights lens (which this court might tend to favor), the potential gains are actually muddled.

Those who seek to preserve the Electoral College–in which the people of the United States do not vote directly for the president or vice-president–want to preserve an institution that has twice since the turn of the century delivered Republican candidates who lost in the popular vote–Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016. But such people should be careful what they wish for.

If the states prevail and the Court finds that Electors may be bound, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPV) will have more teeth in it. The core of the NPV is that states can direct their Electors to vote for whomever the national vote winner is, irrespective of the result in the state. States could also argue, as the plaintiffs before the Court do, that states would also be free to direct Electors not to vote for anyone who had, say, failed to provide his tax returns. Or not for one who was divorced, or an adulterer. We’re talking about state legislatures making these rules, after all.

The high court has never weighed in before because until the 2016 election no Elector had been penalized for voting against his/her pledge. No one had “standing” to bring a claim. Now they do. The Court is taking this case ahead of the upcoming election because adjudicating it in the heat of an election (or after the fact!) would be disastrous for the nation.

As I’ve pointed out on this blog elsewhere, the Electoral College was a compromise, one that most assumed would be ironed out in the fullness of time.

I fear that the Court’s decision won’t provide clarity, but will solidify an archaic system and add to the bitter acrimony already festering.

The Faithless Elector Argument Preview, posted on the SCOTUS-Blog is informative, and not over-burdened with legalese.

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The Imogen Trager #NoirPolitik Thrillers at a glance:

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

trilogy-draft

James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers  Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.

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The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) . You can check out Emergency Powers for free on NetGalley.

 

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Find them all through BookShop.org.  They are also  available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

 

Preparing for Crisis

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

On March 21st, The Hill and NBC, among others, reported that the DOJ was asking Congress for emergency powers during the COVID-19 Crisis. This leapt out at me, as I imagine it did a lot of Americans, who are strongly in favor of the rule of law, and habeas corpus, and who are aghast at the undermining of Constitutional prerogatives. But in seeking “emergency powers” AG Barr was also making use of the title of my new thriller (due out Oct. 1, 2020), called Emergency Powers.

DOJ-EmgPwrCentral to the thriller’s action (which I began writing in the spring of 2017) is a corrupted DOJ, a pliant Attorney General and a power-mad president who chips away at the underlying foundation of government. It’s up to FBI Agent Imogen Trager—unsure whom she can trust in the Bureau—to see that this crisis is not compounded.

And in the novel, the crisis the president and his cabal create will allow him to invoke emergency powers, and increase his grip on power. While the fictional crisis is much different from our current situation, politicians and policy people are fond of noting that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” It’s the heart of the story.

But in order not to waste the crisis opportunity, those who seek advantage must first be prepared, must have laid the groundwork. For Imogen Trager in the thriller, and for us in real life, it’s instructive to look at what has been prepared.

The dictum about never wasting a crisis is generally attributed to Rahm Emanuel, but it was first uttered by Stanford economist Paul Romer, and it echoes the political scientist, John Kingdon’s notion of “policy windows” and “policy entrepreneurs.”

These shifts can end up being positive, or negative. The point is that a set of policy entrepreneurs has an agenda, and that policy change comes about when the three streams of problems, politics, and policies connect. To gain advantage, they must be prepared ahead of time.

In the 1930’s, FDR responded to the Depression with the New Deal policies. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the “W” Bush administration hurried through its war-on-terror agenda, which included the Patriot Act, pre-emptive war with Iraq and enhanced interrogation. The Trump administration seems inward focused, bent on eroding Constitutional prerogatives. It’s disquieting to see what this administration has been preparing in the background.

Emergency Powers is the third book in the Imogen Trager thriller series, which began with Faithless Elector and Dark Network. As I’ve written elsewhere in this blog, I’ve been doing what could be called Kingdonian plot entrepreneurism.”

That is, rather than react and respond in a ripped-from-the-headlines manner, I’ve looked at the broader state of our democracy and thought forward: “How might it be made worse?” “What are the forces behind this decline?” and “What would it take to subvert those machinations?”

And, I’ve asked myself whether it could be stopped…

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The Imogen Trager #NoirPolitik Thrillers at a glance:

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

trilogy-draft

James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers  Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

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Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also  available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

Anything But Straightforward

For the Electoral College, the way forward is anything but straightforward.

In the 1796 presidential election, when one elector, Samuel Miles, who was pledged to Adams (Federalist candidate) changed his mind and voted for Jefferson (Democratic-Republican candidate), Federalist party members were outraged.

Samuel Miles-elector

Samuel Miles

One wrote, “Do I choose Samuel Miles to determine for me whether John Adams or Thomas Jefferson shall be President? No, I choose him to act, not to think.”

This has been the central question for the Electoral College for over 200 years, since the rise of national parties.

A scant four years ago, Faithless Elector debuted, and it’s been thrilling and challenging readers ever since. Its combination of strong characters pitted against forces larger than themselves resonated then, and it continues to do so now.  FaithlessElector-cvrAgainst the backdrop of a very close presidential race, the novel asks, “What if?”

What if Electors could be lobbied and bought? What if a group of ruthless conspirators saw a way to upend an election for their own gain? How far would the conspiracy go to keep the machinations quiet?

The questions FBI Agent Imogen Trager, Duncan Calder and Matthew Yamashita are forced to confront as they risk everything to uncover who’s behind the conspiracy and stop it, haven’t just remained salient, they have become more relevant.

Who decides the presidency?

Since Faithless Elector’s publication, we have witnessed the election of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote, but won in the Electoral College (the second president to so this century). Into the bargain, in 2016 we had seven (7!) Faithless Elector defections. Now, at the end of April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against so-called Faithless Elector laws in the states.

At stake, and the central plot point for the characters trying to save the presidency, is whether Electors are regarded as independent actors or mere delegates. That debate is over 200 years old.

The Supreme Court will decide, but as the twists and turns of Faithless Elector show–and the articles below demonstrate–the way forward is anything but straightforward. It’s unlikely any single group will be happy with the Court’s decision. Whatever it is.

 

Why do We Have an Electoral College Again?(NYTimes)

What if We Just Counted Up All the Votes for President and Saw Who Won? (NYTimes)

The Electoral College is long past its sell-by date… (NYTimes)

How to—Carefully—Surmount the Electoral College (Atlantic):

The Chaos Coming for the U.S. Election (Atlantic):

The Imogen Trager Thrillers at a glance:

trilogy-draft

Faithless Elector – Everyone thinks the election is over, but six weeks is a long time in politics. An idealistic, young researcher stumbles onto a plot to steal the presidency, with deadly consequences.

Dark Network – Without law, there’s only power. FBI Agent Imogen Trager is alone and in grave danger from a conspiracy she failed to destroy. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network, and even her own colleagues to defeat it.

Emergency Powers (Oct. 1) – No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

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James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector and Dark Network about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

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Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:  JamesMcCrone.com

 

A Split Ticket Presidential Bid

Joe Biden’s little remarked claim that he would consider a Republican running mate (CNN-12/30/2019) came and went during the Christmas-New Year week. This kind of Statesman seeming, half-measure is at the heart of the latest #NoirPolitik Imogen Trager thriller, EMERGENCY POWERS, due out October 1, 2020, and it sets in motion a series of disastrous events.Biden-Repub-runningmate-scrnshot

I expect that Biden was just hoping to generate some headlines during a slow news week, but a bipartisan ticket would probably only serve to dilute and confuse the issues facing the nation. Political party matters, particularly at the national level. Senators and Congress Reps vote with their party more than 90 percent of the time*.

FE3.Pawn-to-King.w copyDespite our claims as voters that we want our representatives to act independently, we would be aghast if a politician actually did vote that way. We certainly don’t. 90 to 95% of registered Democrats will vote for their party’s nominee*, as will the same number of registered Republican voters.

In the forthcoming Emergency Powers, as in Faithless Elector and Dark Network, there are forces at work outside of—and parasitic upon—the major parties. But they are effective (in the books, and some would say in real life) because these extra-party groups have captured the party’s leadership.

Though focused on Imogen’s struggles, and without being about current leadership, each book continues to have a ripped-from-the-headlines feel:  a fractious FBI, an undermined Attorney General, powerful people using all manner of treachery to maintain their hold on power—and to get more. And in Emergency Powers, the key to re-establishing faith in government and the rule of law was a Statesman-seeming compromise, a bipartisan ticket. But the conspirators aren’t satisfied. They’re avaricious and mean to control every lever of power.

Perhaps I shouldn’t say “ripped-from-the-headlines,” but anticipating them?

The Imogen Trager series demystifies the processes at work. The previous novels dealt with Faithless Electors as possibly corrupt actors in a presidential election (Faithless Elector in early 2016) and a factional FBI eating itself from within in Dark Network (2017). At the center of it all is the feisty Agent Imogen Trager, who will do battle with the conspirators, her own demons–and even her own colleagues.

What insights into real events will Emergency Powers bring?

 

In EMERGENCY POWERS (Oct. 2020) the investigation that was FBI Agent Imogen Trager’s undoing may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to tighten a puppet president’s grip on power.

Imogen is haunted—and sidelined—by a case she couldn’t solve. When the president dies in office, she knows that the conspiracy she chased down a blind alley still has life in it—and she needs to get back in the hunt. The new accidental president is no accident, and the old case may be the key to stopping a brutal, false flag terrorist attack meant to finalize the new puppet president’s grip on power. Imogen doesn’t know it yet, but she’s running out of time…

Emergency Powers goes on sale October 1st.

*I’m grateful to Nate Silver and the folks at the 538 blog, and to Ohio Northern University’s Prof. Robert Alexander for details on voting behavior.

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James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager political suspense-thrillers Faithless Elector and Dark Network , about a stolen presidency, a conspiracy, and a nation on edge.  The third book, Emergency Powers, is coming October 1st, and he’s at work on a fourth book called Bastard Verdict (w/t) .

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Find them through Indybound.org.  They are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.

Link to REVIEWS

If you live in Philadelphia, you can pick up your copies at Head House Books -or- Penn Book Center or in Princeton at Cloak & Dagger Books.
For a full list of appearances and links to reviews, check out:

JamesMcCrone.com