Science! gerrymander

Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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David Brin: Don’t let them steal your vote! What you can do…

By David Brin

Citizens can fight back without waiting for courts or politicians

Yes I am talking about you.  And you don’t have to agitate or march or petition or write your Congress-critter.
Here’s my one final point about gerrymandering and all of that. As I have said repeatedly, there is a way that citizens can rebel against gerrymanderthe foul crime committed by both parties against our right to vote. Sure, try all the methods I described last time.
  • Push for other blue states to follow California and Washington by going to neutral (and sane) districting.
  • Push ballot initiatives.
  • Make a major issue out of the fact that all red states adamantly refuse to stop blatantly cheating.
  • Take it to court…

…but while all of that is simmering, there is something each of us can do, as individuals. A simple but effective measure.

Re-register to be a member of whatever party rules your district.

Think.  Except in a few blessed states where citizens rebelled, the politicians have rigged electoral maps so you’re in district that’s overwhelmingly either democratic or republican. This is why especially GOP office holders only care about primaries and their radical base, not the average citizen. But this scheme will fall apart if all the democrats in a republican-gerried district simply re-register as republicans!  (Or vice versa in Dem-gerried districts.)
cloutWhat will you lose?  Nothing. In fact, you may get a giggle out of shocking your friends with your official party ID!
It does not commit you to that party’s agenda.  In merely allows you to vote in the only contest that matters, the primary.
And suddenly, you gain clout! You might make a difference between (say) two republicans, one of them a screeching dogma-harpy and the other a somewhat reasonable Goldwater-type who believes in science and pragmatism, along with a creative free market.  Even if you disagree with the latter candidate over a million matters, she or he is more likely to negotiate.  And possibly even listen to folks like you. Heck, if enough folks follow your lead and re-register, that might encourage the Goldwater types to step up.
This assertion was proved absolutely true when California switched to non-partisan elections, and suddenly two dems were fighting it out in liberal leaning districts. (Gerrymandering as it declines: Surprising results!) And lo… both dems suddenly discovered: “We got a lot of republicans here. If I talk to them, they might help me win.” Suddenly, in lefty Santa Monica, long time conservatives who thought their vote would never count woke up to find candidates eager to shake their hands.
Seriously. This is the short term solution.  If the pols rig things so that one party owns a district, then join that party! All you will do is expand the power of your vote and undermine their vile scheme. You’ll throw all the connivers’ calculations into a cocked hat.  It’s called jiu jitsu. We need to become good at it.
And now…
…I had allowed a fair number of political matters to pile up.  So here’s a potpourri of items:

Calls for secession! 

Lest we forget: there’s an America that hates the rising nerdish era. It isn’t taxes but the growing influence of scientists and all manner of geeks, that is behind Culture War, as stoked by certain media chains. One surface manifestation? You’ve all heard of the petition drive by some mostly southern-red malcontents to secede from the union.
Now now… the numbers are small and bearable…. Still, I would love to ask their neighbors for pictures of these folks just a few years back, waving U.S. flags with fevered patriotic gusto while shouting “Yew-Ess-Hay!”
They are the “summer soldiers” Thomas Paine wrote about. They are Jefferson Davis, who led the cadets at West point in swearing undying oaths to their nation “right or wrong,” then scampered off in indignation when his “grievances” amounted to whining that his side lost an election for the first time in 30 years.
Schoolyard whining whenever the other team gets its turn at-bat. I am not afraid.
A side note. The American Christian communities and seminaries weren’t always so doctrinaire on abortion.

realityRevenge of the reality-based community

This interesting commentary comes from Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan aid and Heritage fellow, now a contributor to the American Conservative. Other dissident conservatives such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan have joined Bartlett in condemning “epistemic closure” or the fact that today’s American right is all about telling itself incantations and stories, with no remaining points of contact with science, pragmatism or reality-based thinking.
I have long predicted the rise of The Adults on the right — the Buckley and Goldwater types — finally angry enough to try taking back the conservative movement.
Ah, but frankly, though I welcome Bartlett’s migration toward the light… and admitting that President Obama is center-right by any rational view of things… I can’t help feeling a bit cold.
His missive, while interesting,  comes across as self-referential and you must skim a dozen paragraphs listing his past conservative credentials before getting to the meat, including his concession that Paul Krugman has been right far more often than anyone else on the national scene.

Will the next Bubble/Crash come from “stuff”?

Because of staggering levels of excess inventory: Like a global tsunami, world markets are about to be hit with a supply of any-price goods in almost every category, from commodities to high-end electronics.
  • Personal computers from champion Lenovo, today, are generating about .5% margins, with Dell and HP reeling. Lenovo doesn’t care.
  • Telecoms equipment is going for half price already, and likely will drop from there, via ZTE (whose profit fell 48.5% over the last half-year, and 85% YTY in the last quarter) and Huawei (with only a 22% drop).
  • Container ships that leased for over $100,000 a day on the world market four years ago, today – thanks to a huge over-buildout by China – are going for $2,000.  Watch out.
 This could be the next big bruise.
Political Potpourri

Might open source methods do a far better job of running smooth U.S. elections, rather than the deeply suspect voting machine companies now contracted in so many states?
EconomyArticles and speculations by David Brin about Taxes, economics and markets… especially pertinent as the House and Senate start negotiating the Big Budget Deals.
Virginia lawmaker: Children with disabilities are God’s punishment to women who previously had abortions.
For a variety of reasons, the best computer models suggest that – even if culture war ends and the dems and gops negotiate a sensible budget agreement, and many other good things happen — the US unemployment rates will be stuck well above the Pre-Bush rates, for the foreseeable future.




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