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1. Do Away With the Electoral College (Keyssar) The New York Times
2. Leveraging buying power: A lesson from the private sector (Kelman) Federal Computer Week
3. Picking a vice-president is a science in itself (Kamarck) Examiner.com
4. Child Abuse at Penn State: The Former University President's Responsibility (Heineman) The Atlantic
Do Away With the Electoral College
The New York Times
Commentary by: Alex Keyssar, Malcolm Wiener Center
Topic: The Electoral College system
In a presidential election season, it seems obvious (yet again) that we should rewrite parts of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution — so that we can dispense with the Electoral College and hold a national popular vote to choose our chief executive.
Indeed, if we were drafting a constitution today, few people would even consider a presidential electoral system like the Electoral College. (Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, in the mid-19th century, characterized it as “artificial, cumbrous, radically defective and unrepublican.”) The concerns that prompted the Founding Fathers to adopt this system — a distrust of popular elections, worry that the people would be unfamiliar with national candidates, a desire to reinforce the great constitutional compromises between large states and small states, slave states and free states — have lost much of their salience since 1787. …
Leveraging buying power: A lesson from the private sector
Federal Computer Week
Commentary by: Steve Kelman
Topic: Purchasing alliances in the private sector
The front page of the business section of today’s New York Times (yes, Washington Post readers, the Times has a standalone business section that is several pages long) featured an article called “16 Million Reams of Paper, Please,” about how private equity firms such as the Blackstone Group have banded together to negotiate better pricing on common items such as office supplies, overnight packaging, and commodity IT for the companies they own in their portfolios.
“We have incredible leverage,” a senior Blackstone executive was quoted in the article as saying, “The more volume we have, the lower our prices go.” The purchasing entity, called CoreTrust, uses both pre-negotiated contracts and reverse auctions to bring prices down. They basically demand that their vendors give the purchasing entity the lowest price that has been negotiated by any of the companies owned by the private equity group. …
Picking a vice-president is a science in itself
Quoted: Elaine Kamarck, Belfer Center
Topic: Vice presidential selections
Mitt Romney's choice of vice-president is not in any way a wide-open field. In fact, it is the most undemocratic selection process one can imagine. Although theoretically he has the freedom to choose anyone, the nominee must be opposed to abortion. …
Over the decades most vice presidents were chosen for “balance, either geographic or ideological,” says Elaine Kamarck, a former Gore aide who is now a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “That built a tension into the relationship–and that tension kept the vice president in a subservient and unnatural position.”
The selection of Al Gore forever changed that formula. Gore was a youthful moderate Democrat from an adjoining state to Clinton's Arkansas altering “a balance model to a partner model.” …
Child Abuse at Penn State: The Former University President's Responsibility
Commentary by: Ben Heineman, Belfer Center
Topic: Penn State child abuse scandal
In the months after Penn State's failure to report evidence of Jerry Sandusky's child abuse to law enforcement authorities became public last November, it became clear that the university had encouraged a toxic culture of silence to deflect any inquiry. Rather than investigate the assistant coach for serially molesting young boys, university officials chose to protect its vaunted football program.
In an exhaustive investigative report released today, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, retained by Penn State's trustees, confirms this disgraceful failure of leadership, one that is all too frequent at the top of important institutions. …
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