Well Thank God That Weekend Came to an End Open Thread

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the public clowning of Peyton Manning and the Broncos (I was rooting for the Seahawks but I came to see a game not a humiliation), now lacing up for a third (or fourth?) winter storm of the year. There are far more terrible things in life, but I would have preferred to see a few dozen more movies with Mr. Hoffman in them, all things considered. 

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In honour of the title of this diary.

(#313211)
mmghosh's picture

Members of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs choir perform a rousing rendition of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' before Friday's Opening Ceremony.

 

Best comment IMO

the best part happens at the 54-second mark. They show one of the old guys in the background, and the look on his face lets you know he's thinking, "This BS would have never happened under Stalin."

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Anyone noticed that Tom Friedman is

(#313186)

on an impossible-to-parody auto pilot program? From an interview last week:

 

TOM FRIEDMAN: We have experienced a huge "Gutenberg-scale" inflection point in the last ten years. The world has gone from connected to hyper-connected and from inter-connected to interdependent. This has been such a shift in degree that it has become a shift in kind.

Tom Friedman

(#313188)

probably gets several times your pay and has several thousand times your influence.  

 

I think you could write like him if you tried.  Try out the writing on us here, stop shaving your upper lip,  practice waking up before noon on Sundays,  and we'll watch for you on the talk show circuit in about six months.

I present to you the Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator

(#313217)

Ta da! I'm a bit disappointed that the generate button isn't a moustache, but otherwise this little baby has got to be worth several hunny large a year. Based on a concept by Michael Ward, author of the amazingly useful "List of Words that Could Conceivably Be Used to Describe Both the Super Bowl and a Superb Owl."

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

That is some quality entertainment.

(#313220)

Thanks.

Thanks seconded.

(#313227)
mmghosh's picture

-

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

JFCOAPS

(#313203)
HankP's picture

are you really pulling out the argument that more money = more correct? Or that more influence = more correct?

 

I blame it all on the Internet

Dude

(#313205)
M Scott Eiland's picture

You need to read the Onion for a few hours to regain your sense of when someone is engaged in open mockery. The moustache line in the second paragraph should have been a rather obvious hint that the material you were reading was not meant to be taken seriously.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Seattle's a big city

(#313204)

There ought to be a shop nearby where you can get your humor meter repaired.

The meter's fine

(#313222)
HankP's picture

looks more like an I/O failure.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

"probably gets several times your pay"

(#313189)

... per speaking engagement.

 

I can imagine your suggestion as part of an elaborate suicide ritual, where first becoming a near doppleganger of Tom Friedman and then strangling yourself would lead to some high form of satisfaction (if only momentary).

 

Save that, I don't see why anyone would mimic him -- it certainly ain't worth the money.

getting teh big bucks

(#313191)

its a bit easier when you marry money.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Yellen won't save us, she was our only hope

(#313184)

The unemployment rate has fallen mostly because people have given up looking for work, esp. in 2013. 

 

Yet Janet Yellen plans to let inflation slide and continue the taper because the US's official methodology for measuring unemployment doesn't count anyone who is so discouraged by the poor labor market that they just stop looking for work:

 

Least Surprising News Ever

(#313183)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Prominent Occupy loon Jesse Meyerson is a full blown apologist for Communism.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

You must concede

(#313198)
mmghosh's picture

that there is something wrong with modern capitalism, if communism can be even considered as a viable alternative.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Jesse's fallacy,

(#313259)
Bird Dog's picture

and yours, that an economic system (capitalism) should be compared with a political ideology. The real comparison is between communism and representative democracy.

 

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Communism and representative democracy are not incompatible.

(#313380)
mmghosh's picture

I have lived in exactly such a state for most of my adult life.

 

You are equating Leninism/Stalinism/Maoism with communist practice.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Think It Through

(#313382)

You live in such a state, not in such a country. Hence, private property is allowed. In communism it would not be.

 

Now to be sure, I'm not specifically a fan of private property as such. However, I understand that implicit in private property is a degree of decentralization of power, and specifically economic power. I do not believe that you can have a working democracy when all economic power is concentrated in the hands of one entity, whether it is the government, the party, or a tightly integrated economic plutocracy (the end state of current trends in the US and elsewhere).

 

To have a democracy you need a few thousand people with power independent from the government as well as each other. In a true communist country this is not possible, so inevitably the system will decay to Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, or something similar. The best of intentions will not stop this. The dynamics of such concentration of power are unavoidable.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

There doesn't seem to be a major disconnect

(#313383)
mmghosh's picture

between communism and private property - that was my point. Its a matter of definition, that's all. Both here and in China private property and private enterprises are allowed. In Cuba and Vietnam too, IIRC. So I would hesitate to be didactic about making private property the absolute negative criterion for a definition of a communist state.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

China is Quite Obviously Not A Communist State

(#313387)

It is a state led by a single political party, but unless you want to divorce the meaning of the word from its origins, Marx's communist manifesto and other writings, you cannot be serious that a country that tolerates, in fact encourages, Dickensian exploitation is communist.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Come on MA, are you suggesting that description

(#313388)
mmghosh's picture

implies perfection, or complete fidelity to a definition?

 

The perfect political or economic formulations don't exist anywhere.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

uh. what?

(#313262)

firstly you're mixing up compare with contrast. rookie mistake. ;-)

 

secondly... you really don't think capitalism comprises a political ideology? seriously? do you watch the news or read the WSJ (or actually, anything at all in mass media today)? 

 

and thirdly..... i mean, honestly i really don't know where to begin with such a clueless, ahistorical statement as capitalism merely being an economical system and representative democracy being the counterpoint of communism.

 

if you need a refresher, consider the times, places and systems where communism actually took hold. 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Capitalism is not a political ideology

(#313371)
Bird Dog's picture

And it is a fallacy to claim that it is, clueless and ahistorical even.

Quote: "Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry and the means of production are controlled by private owners with the goal of making profits in a market economy."

Words mean things.

 

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Of Course It Is!

(#313381)

The belief in private property is a political belief if there ever was one.

 

What is a political ideology? It is a set of ideas, principles, rules, and so on that define the scope of politics to make decisions in a society. A belief in private property is a belief in a specific set of limitations on political power, as well as a belief in a specific set of obligations that political power must meet.

 

The very second you define private property as a mechanism, you simultaneously limit access to resources by the government, while obliging the government to protect the integrity of that property from theft by others.

 

It is impossible to say that a theory of economics is not political when it places both burdens and limitations on government. That is the very definition of a political theory.

 

The most you can say is that capitalism is a partial political theory, in that it does not directly need to define other burdens and limitations that are only loosely coupled with economic activity but strongly associated with political thought. Capitalism tolerates lack of press freedom, lack of privacy, etc., so long as these do not materially harm the ability of capitalists to own property and capital.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

This assumes that the only rights a person has are the ones...

(#313392)
Bird Dog's picture

...granted to you by government. I don't buy that as the natural state of the human condition.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Ha

(#313396)
HankP's picture

you mean "might makes right", correct? Because absent some sort of organized security that's what you get.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

No, I don't mean that

(#313425)
Bird Dog's picture

I am hopeful that someday you will understand the words that I wrote. 

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Explain then

(#313426)
HankP's picture

because there are no rights other than what you can take yourself and, if lucky and with a large enough number who agree with you, organize a government to maintain.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

This conversation was had before

(#313502)
Bird Dog's picture

You're on record as disagreeing with the American foundational principle that the people have no inalienable rights, hence your failure to comprehend what I said.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Exactly

(#313384)

An economy without ideology is a skeleton without muscles.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

bonus wiki entries!

(#313379)

since you're interested in the subject of words and their meanings.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_ideology

 

you're welcome.

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

i'll invite some resident philosphers to weigh in

(#313376)

on what constitutes an ideology

Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

but by your standards if capitalism in not an ideology then neither is communism. now obviously that is a ridiculous statement.

 

it speaks volumes though that the dominant economic paradigm of capitalism is so ingrained in the very bedrock of modern american political thought that you aren't able to question its principles or even recognize it as an ideology alongside others.

 

it's like arguing with a fish about what water is.

 

edit: again i invite to to consider what economic and political systems the 20th century states of communism found the most success against as an ideology (if not ultimately as an economy or even a humane political system). hint: they weren't representative democracies.

 

that's why your comment is ahistorical. its not an insult or a jibe, its just a fact.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Capitalism not a system of governance for a sovereign nation

(#313391)
Bird Dog's picture

no matter how much you try to bend and twist a definition. Communism is.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

No Its Not

(#313402)

Communism is not a system of governance. It is a set of principles focused on resource ownership and allocation of labor and the fruits of labor. This is so precisely because it is a response to capitalism, not to monarchy, for example.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Not as practiced by those...

(#313423)
Bird Dog's picture

...who professed their governance as communist. 

 

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

The system of governance under Lenin/Stalin/Brezhnev

(#313412)
mmghosh's picture

could be more accurately described as a oligarchic form of government, perhaps.

 

The Bolsheviki were a small group of revolutionaries who arrogated to themselves the right to rule as they knew that they were the only group in society who truly understood the principles of political economy and "dialectic materialism".

 

My original point of discussion with MSE was that it is a curious parallel that the 1% in USA look increasingly like a small group of revolutionaries who know that they are in the right in the matter of current political economy.

 

 

It is odd, that.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

haha oh really

(#313400)

communism is a theory of economics with a normative prescription for how they would best function. same as capitalism.

 

there have been many, many different systems of governance which have purported to advance communism. same for capitalism. 

 

it's not really worth trying to convince someone who evidently won't give this much thought beyond jingoistic slogans and cold war shortcuts and stereotypes.

 

do the reading. or don't.  

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

Still confused

(#313422)
Bird Dog's picture

The apt comparison is capitalism and Marxism, which is a socioeconomic theory that has failed to be put into practice by communist governments for the past 100 or so years.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Not that I'm a card carrying philosopher or anything

(#313385)

but I agree on the ingrained thing. People just see private property as the natural state of things when in fact it's a pretty wierd idea. That some piece of land, for example, that i might never even have seen and do not use can somehow be reserved just for me even when others might have a much greater connection to it or need for it is pretty odd.

Answers

(#313377)
M Scott Eiland's picture

A nation devastated by World War I and not fully emerged from feudalism, and another one that had been devastated by occupation and war and which also had not had time to fully emerge as a market economy.*

What do I win?

*--and which has wasted little time after the end of the Cold War in re-introducing market economy factors (while sadly not disposing of the totalitarianism in other parts of their governing philosophy).

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

correct

(#313378)

for the two major examples anyways. there were other states and socialist/communist uprisings throught western capitalist states in teh 19th century as well.

 

what do you win? well i guess you "win" the understanding that communism did not define itself in opposition to representative democracy. it opposed capitalism (i.e. private ownership of capital) whether autocratic, aristocratic, or feudal), in that it undertook to redistribute ownership of the nations capital to the "workers", even tried to do so through (ultimately bogus) democratic means.

 

it's an understanding that has eluded bird dog, so congrats.

 

so, where communism was able to get enough traction to replace entrenched political and economic systems did it replace "representative democracies" as we know them? obviously not.

 

(i'll gloss over the fact that although as you note russia was not "fully emerged from feudalism" it did have a sort of move toward representative democracy prior to the revolution of 1917. i don't think that sort of democracy is what we think of when we are talking about "commies vs democracies" today.)  

 

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

People Consider A Lot Of Insane Things

(#313202)
M Scott Eiland's picture

In this case, we have a f***ing moron who seems to be combining evasion, outright lies, and just inane arguments (some of the people communists murdered were other communists--that's good, right?) and tossing them in with a pile of burning straw men to create an opinion piece that a brain-damaged chimp should be embarrassed to have their name associated with.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

It's not "7 great things about communism"

(#313219)
brutusettu's picture

n/t

When you know you can't win a fair fight

(#313163)

you do stuff like this instead. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Didn't look unfair to me

(#313165)

Within the first sentence it's clear it's an anti-Lewis site.

 

Unfair:  creating a site that purports to be official but subtly makes the guy look like a crackpot.

Fair:  trying to get Google,  or common domain names like lewis2014.org,  to go to a website arguing against the guy.  Parodies are fine too as long as no reasonably intelligent person would actually be fooled.

How about cheap, juvenile and desperate-looking? -nt-

(#313167)

.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

You just listed the prerequisites to comment here.

(#313169)

text

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Truth. -nt-

(#313194)

.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

I am not desperate looking. nt

(#313171)
HankP's picture

.

I blame it all on the Internet

You're not desperate looking?

(#313196)

I'd say your "bear crapping broken glass" avatar paints a different picture.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Nope

(#313201)
HankP's picture

that's "I'll give Darth nightmares" looking.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

Or To Run The DNC

(#313170)
M Scott Eiland's picture

If "cheap, juvenile, and deseperate looking" isn't prominently featured on Debbie the D****it's business card and resume, she's guilty of false advertising.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Shouldn't you be enjoying your snow day? nt

(#313172)
HankP's picture

.

I blame it all on the Internet

Had To Go In For A Few Hours

(#313175)
M Scott Eiland's picture

My boss is trapped at home, being in an area farther away and with more hills. As I mentioned to another online friend on Facebook, Beaverton doesn't handle snow very well--but in this case the main roads are clear enough for me to get the mile to work with caution, but it began to snow again so I am bailing out with my boss' approval now that immediate situations have been dealt with.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

And I'm Home

(#313178)
M Scott Eiland's picture

And just in time, too--when routine braking for a red light at 10 MPH leads to what was technically an uncontrolled skid (though since it was in very light traffic, the result was more absurd than frightening), it's time to hunker down.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

My daughter has 1.5' in Corvallis

(#313180)
HankP's picture

with more on the way. I never got snow days in college.

 

Please tell me you have a dash cam video of your uncontrolled skid. I want to hear your voice get higher and higher.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

I Stayed Silent

(#313181)
M Scott Eiland's picture

But I did give a rather sheepish thumbs up to the pedestrians standing twenty feet away once I stopped.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Nothing quite like

(#313190)

Trying to figure out how to turn in the direction of the skid when you're backwards and in the wrong lane. 

They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

Everybody's too happy here

(#313124)

so I'll remind you that George P. Bush will be elected to a statewide office this year.  His only opponent in the primary is a self-described "technology consultant",  novelist,  preacher, and "delegate to the Jefferson County Republican Convention", and the filing date is past.

 

2024, maybe even 2020.  Mark my words.

Public sector wages, a drag on the recovery

(#313113)

 

Notice when public sector wages take a nose dive.The timing corresponds to the early 2010 federal discretionary spending freeze, which dried up federal aid to state and local governments, announced by Obama in the 2010 SOTU. 

I hate to say this again

(#313063)
mmghosh's picture

but Mr Brooks seems so intuitively in touch with things that matter, especially the last.

computers are increasingly going to be able to perform important parts of even mostly cognitive jobs, like picking stocks, diagnosing diseases and granting parole.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Pffffft.

(#313066)

One thing I hope technology stops rewarding sooner rather than later: newspaper columnists with inches to fill who get paid to pass off vapid supposition as cultural insight.

 

When we never need to hear from Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell, Peggy Noonan, George Will or David Frickin Brooks again, then I will clasp my hands together in a prayer of thanks to the gods of technology for delivering us from a long scourge of articulate idiots. The good news is, we're almost there: every single one of us has vapid opinions we're too lazy to really investigate but more than happy to type up and post to Facebook, The Forvm or other places online. Why do I need to watch David Brooks gather his latest bellybutton lint and call it a zeitgeist when there are thousands of people doing the same thing online for free, and most of them doing it better? 

 

His premise: impulse and emotion are going to replace the rote application of practical skills now performed by computers. The world needs trendwatchers, fashion designers, comedians and investigative reporters rather than people who do actual science, law, medicine, manufacturing, etc. Is that going to scale up to 180 million? No, it isn't. Will it scale up to 4 billion? No, it won't. Dumb idea. I am not a fan. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

"(One day will not just have 1D light amplification scanners

(#313065)
brutusettu's picture

but also 2D scanners and maybe even one day in the distant future, 3D scanners.  These scanners will need a few rare few to get them to perform usefully, the rest will be serfs, as they should be.)"

 

 

 

 

At 1st I thought Brooks just had to write a column and in that spirit, threw together a bunch of words to make an article long enough to satisfy his superiors.   But then I read gemli's comment:

 

 

Many of David Brooks' columns (e.g., Thinking for the Future, 12/10/2013) envision the same bleak landscape in which a small percentage of people with exceptional skills will have meaningful jobs while the rest of us are left to some unspecified fate. This is one of Mr. Brooks' favorite themes. His dystopian conservative visions always seem to end up with a few people of exceptional creative power running the show, while the rest of us polish their silver. This attitude is more insidious than Romney's 47-percent remark because it does not merely describe, however wrongly, an existing situation, but rather assumes that the defect is not in our circumstances but in our character. Our inability to navigate the future is not due to poor training, but because we show up with a busted rudder.

In telling us that relatively rare qualities are key to success in the future (voracious explanatory drive, making sense of information oceans, providing strategic guidance), he guarantees that most of us will be left out in the cold.

Once again, circumstances don't determine success, so improving the rabble's circumstances with government handouts will be a waste of money. It's an argument that justifies the income disparity that conservatives hold dear. It explains his fury at the Occupy Wall Street crowd, and his annoyance that people don't respect just authority.

Maybe he's right. But as a columnist, he should hope that the Opine-O-Matic 2000 will not make him redundant.

That captures my sense of him pretty well.

(#313067)

The Randian notion of a blessed super-class of doers and makers and shakers and the rest, paupers due to their own indolence, stupidity etc. It's not new. Aristotle makes a half-hearted attempt to justify slavery with the same tune in his ethics. The Victorians were past masters at it.

The conservative dystopia might be morally objectionable

(#313076)
mmghosh's picture

to some, but, objectively, that is what seems to be happening.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The fight's not over.

(#313109)

I don't read him as an honest chronicler, more of a propagandist, and this is first and foremost a propaganda war.

 

Look at the path to redemption he offers - if you're not blessed with one of the ephemeral graces that lead to riches, if you're not one of the chosen people, there is still a path to the promised land - "Enthusiasm". Enthusiastically support the new world order and there is hope for you.

It's nice Bernanke wanted to curtail QE before he left

(#313053)

so he personally could oversee the wind-down of a program that he personally began as Fed chair. 

 

... But maybe we could've expected QE levels to be driven by the data. Maybe we could've expected central banking policy to be decided by its effects on the entire country instead of this one guy's sense of his career and legacy.

 

Employment growth has been very unremarkable lately, GDP growth in a 6 month timeframe has been average, 12-month time-frame below average, inflation has been consistently below the Fed's own low target for years, etc. 

 

Bernanke was an extremely mediocre Fed chair who missed the housing bubble, betrayed the public with the terms of the bank bailouts, and who only looks good in comparison to northern Europeans bent on plowing their continent through worse economic growth than during the Great Depression. 

 

Two and one half boos and one-half cheer to the outgoing Fed Chair. 

 

SAve us Janet Yellen, you're our only hope.

Janet Yellen - the country's most powerful woman

(#313054)

She may well be the most powerful woman in American history and she may also currently be the most powerful woman in the world.

 

I know the Fed is BO-RING! but it's still a bit odd how little was made of her swearing in today.

Thank goodness the far left

(#313068)

torpedoed Obama's planned pick of Larry Summers so we got Yellen!

Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson

Oh, Lots of People Notice! Dow Plummets 326 points....

(#313061)

....that's a joke, but maybe not....really, is Dear Janet being tested? On the first day on the job...

 

Traveller

Why immigration reform won't happen

(#313051)

Because the House GOP essentially represents white America:

 

... of the 108 minority-majority districts in the House, Republicans represent just nine of them. The average House Republican represents a district that is 75 percent white.

 

In contrast, the U.S.A. overall in 2012 was 63% white.

 

In other words, the House GOP retained a 33 seat majority in 2012, despite receiving 1.2 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates, principally because minority voters are disenfranchised via gerrymandering.

 

And that's why immigration reform won't happen.

Race-baiting

(#313070)
Bird Dog's picture

This presumes that a majority of whites are racist and oppose comprehensive immigration reform for racist reasons. Pure rubbish.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Buh?

(#313075)

Are we supposed to pretend that race does not correlate with political ideology and affiliation in America?

 

I assume Republican politicians wish to gerrymander however they may win and don't especially wish to disenfranchise minority Democratic voters any more than white Democratic voters.

 

But whatever the intent, the stats suggest the effect. I'm not an expert on these numbers but it sure looks to me like the current House districting has disenfranchised a large segment of the population that is largely minority voters. 

 

You may have heard about this issue, oh I don't know, when reading about a court case or two on precisely this topic since the 2010 redistricting. I guess those cases were all based on pure race-baiting rubbish and should've been dismissed out of hand.

 

Conservatism in 2014 America: any mention of race is "race-baiting or playing the race card", and we can therefore ignore it.

Buh, indeed

(#313161)
Bird Dog's picture

Are you supposed to pretend that the sole reason for opposition to comprehensive immigration reform is solely for racist reasons? This is why I find your race-baiting both wanting and simplistic.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

A semi-coherent straw man

(#313177)

I think your straw man got drunk and fell over

Sorry. . .

(#313179)
M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .but if normal political gerrymandering results in a disproportionate impact on certain ethnic groups because they vote overwhelmingly for one party, perhaps those groups should consider lobbying for banning the practice altogether, rather than whining for the right to benefit from the practice when their party is in the majority (and getting seats set aside for particular racial groups to elect members of their own race as a matter of right) and blocking it while they're not. IOW, tough s***.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

This word "disenfranchised"

(#313078)

Maybe we could get your definition.   I don't think merely being on the losing side of an election constitutes disenfranchisement.    If having a Congressman you didn't vote for is a bad thing,  it seems the optimum result would be packing each district full of people of the same race and party to minimize "disenfranchisement".  

 

So,  what is your preferred algorithm for choosing district lines?    It appears you want a result that looks like a proportional representation system,  but I don't believe having g compact district lines, drawn without regard to race or party, will give you the result you are looking for,  and it will only get worse as geographical segregation by race and party decreases.

 

 

How about an exemplar case?

(#313080)

E.g., when a political party retains a 33 seat majority in the legislative body that is supposed to be the most representative component of the federal government (this body in fact being known as the House of *Representatives*), despite receiving 1.2 million votes fewer than its opponents.

 

In this case, the other party must in fact win by an estimated 7% more of the popular vote in order to have even a 1 seat majority in this supposedly representative body.

 

That sounds like significant disenfranchisement to me, and according to many psychologists, if you can't recognize exemplar cases, you don't possess the relevant concept.

Represent what?

(#313083)

They aren't supposed to represent parties- that kind of thinking is a large part of the problem - and they aren't supposed to represent the national vote total, either.  They are supposed to represent the people in the districts from which they are elected.   Each district had an election,  and I'm not aware of any in which the candidate with fewer votes was the one sent to Congress.   If you want to talk about disenfranchisement,  go ahead a talk about voter ID,  intimidation, etc,  but if someone got to vote, they were not disenfranchised.  

 

Your mistake, as I see it,  is that you believe you or I have some kind of voting interest in all of Congress.   Wrong.  I get to vote in my district, and not in any others,  and it's none of my business what the electors in the other district do.  It would be childish for me to claim that I've been "disenfranchised" if the voters in the 3rd district of New Jersey don't elect the person I wanted them to.   For that matter,  it would be childish to make that claim even in my own district;  however,  I at least can legitimately claim a 1/500,000 or so say in the process.   

 

I suppose you could make a secessionist-type argument that it's unfair to be drawn into the boundaries of a democratic unit in which your point of view will never win.   But it is, essentially, a secessionist argument.   

 

I've suggested my solution (Article V convention required) -  don't elect Congress from districts,  elect them by nationwide subscription.  Each voter gets a voucher.  Someone collects 500,000 vouchers,  they are in Congress.  No particular election day,  whenever they get the 500,000,  they're in.   If they drop below 400,000,  they are out,  immediately.  

 

No one would be represented by a Congressman they despise. 

 

 

 

 

"that kind of thinking is a large part of the problem"

(#313098)

I get that you want people who don't have a D or R party affiliation to not be included in the disenfranchised #s, but it's a point around the margins, not an "error".

 

The rest of your comment essentially denies that voters take into account party affiliation when voting, including how a politician will coordinate with other members of the same party and that party's leadership when in office.

 

You call recognition of the existence of political parties by voters and how their potential representatives would function in those political parties "childish".

It's not at all childish to prefer

(#313103)

one party over the other.  What I consider childish is calling it "disenfrachisement" when one's party loses.  A Republican living in DC can never be on the winning side of an election there,  but I would dispute that he is disenfranchised,  even though (theoretically) the boundaries between DC, MD, and VA could have been chosen differently to give him a "fair" chance, and incidentally, to give the Democrats living in what is now DC influence over more districts.

Think you're missing catchy's point

(#313084)

which seems to be that Democratic districts are overpopulated to a tune of 1.2 million voters nationwide, while Republican districts are underpopulated. This is a distribution/representation problem. Those 1.2 million voters should have an extra Congressperson or three, but instead they're getting shafted by redistricting. 

 

This has nothing to do with who is getting represented... black, white, Republican, Democratic. It's the simple fact that 1.2 million people have less representation in Congress than a fair distribution would provide because they've been carved out in the map drawing exercise. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Same error

(#313089)

Each person has at most one representative,  the one for their district.  If they feel that person doesn't represent them, then they have zero.  The only possibilities are zero and one.  

 

Perhaps you and catchy identify so strongly with the Democrats that you feel that all 200+/- of them in Congress are "your" representative,  and if more Democrats are elected,  you have more representation. 

 

People who aren't strongly partisan,  or who belong to a party that isn't in Congress,  just don't see it that way.  Ruben Hinojosa (D) is "my" Congressman,  and even though I didn't vote for him he's not so horrible that I disown him. 

Your response doesn't math very well.

(#313093)

Let me, with my 550 GRE math score, shed some supernumerary light on the subject. You could look at it two ways.

 

Way 1

 

Each person has one representative who they share with X number of fellow residents in their district. Your ability to choose a representative to your liking is therefore 1/X. The larger X is, obviously, the smaller your marginal ability to select a representative. In an ideal world, X would be the same for every voter. The problem catchy has identified is that X is measurably smaller in Republican districts, and measurably larger in Democratic ones. Democratic district votes are therefore diluted. More people have to select one representative in a more crowded electoral environment. If you are in a Democratic district, regardless of which party you vote for, your vote counts for less individually than when you are in a Republican district, and you have less ability to select a representative to your liking. 

 

In other words, the marginal value of your vote is diminished by comparison with the marginal votes of voters from Republican districts. 

 

Way 2 

 

For every 100,000 voting-eligible Americans, there are Y number of Representatives in the House. In an ideal world, Y would be the same for any given set of 100,000 Americans. But instead, in the world we live in, any given 100,000 Americans living in a Democratic district have (Y - 0.54%) of a representative, while any given 100,000 Americans living in a Republican district have (Y + 0.54%) of a representative. It may seem like a small difference, but with 435 voting members of the House distributed among 222,000,000 voters, it's a big difference.  

 

Having fewer representatives, in other words, being underrepresented, in a legislative body quite obviously translates into diminished influence in that legislative body. Votes from Democratically aligned districts are therefore diluted regardless of whether those votes are for candidates Democratic, Republican, Independent, or Kang or Kodos. 

 

In other words, the influence of your elected representative is diminished by comparison with the influence of reps from Republican districts. Republican-aligned districts have more reps per voter; Democratic-aligned districts have fewer reps per voter. The basic imbalance is an advantage for voters in Rep districts and a disadvantage for voters in Dem districts regardless of their own voting preferences.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

What is X?

(#313095)

Let's start by disassembling Way 1:

 

"Each person has one representative who they share with X number of fellow residents in their district."

 

Is X all voters in the district,  or have we reached the stage where only people of your own party count?   If X is all voters in the district,  then this statement makes no sense:

 

"In an ideal world, X would be the same for every voter. The problem catchy has identified* is that X is measurably smaller in Republican districts, and measurably larger in Democratic ones."

 

I think you are fundamentally mistaken about how modern gerrymandering is done.  X is essentially identical for all districts in a state,  and even the evil anti-voter Supreme Court will not let them differ by more than 1%.  But in reality, there are far more accurate than that at the census date (see link below).  The old English "rotten borough" method where Tory districts are small populations is not used in modern times.   Redistricting is done by state,  and unless a state has more than 50 districts (only CA),  the discretization steps are more than 2% so there is no chance to change the number of seats by jacking with the total population of the district.

 

All districts have the same population and the gerrymandering algorithm depends on how risk tolerant you are.  If a state with 10 reps is 55%R,  45% D,  you can try to make all districts 55-45 and have a chance to run the table 10-0,  but 55-45 is risky if you have some bad candidates.  You could instead pack three districts full of D's,  concede those, and then distribute the remaining D's so that the other 7 districts are a bulletproof 78-12.   You are absolutely guaranteed 7-3 with only 55% of the population.

 

The first method (high-risk high-return) is preferred by the overall party strategist,  the second method is favored by incumbents.  The real argument in the smoke filled room is how many seats will be conceded to protect incumbents. 

 

On to Way 2:

 

"For every 100,000 voting-eligible Americans, there are Y number of Representatives in the House. In an ideal world, Y would be the same for any given set of 100,000 Americans. But instead, in the world we live in, any given 100,000 Americans living in a Democratic district have (Y - 0.54%) of a representative, while any given 100,000 Americans living in a Republican district have (Y + 0.54%) of a representative."

 

Again,  that is not the algorithm (and it would not be effective if it were.)   Here is a link to a plan produced by the ultimate gerrymanderers,  the Texas Legislature.

 

The least populous district has 698,487.   The most populous has 698,489. 

 

I'm sorry,  but even the most strongly partisan/racist/corrupt plans have Y the same in each district.

 

--------------

 

*PS -  I don't believe catchy ever implied X is different.   His complaint,  as I understand it,  is that Democrats have been assigned to the exactly equal districts such that they are either in a district where they could never elect a Democrat,  or packed into a district that is so Democratic that they don't need to show up to vote.  That complaint has some truth to it.

 

 

 

 

Yep, I misunderstood what catchy was saying.

(#313096)

Sorry for making you type all that out. I assumed packed districts would be necessary to make sense of catchy's data, but I was conflating party affiliation with raw voters-per-district. Agreed that districts should not be drawn with regard to party, either pro, anti or to achieve "balance." All parties should compete on a level, affiliation-agnostic playing field. Obviously that isn't the reality today, though, and Republicans have drawn district lines so as to maximize Republican chances of controlling the legislature. That ain't a good thing.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

As Is True When Democrats Do It

(#313097)
M Scott Eiland's picture

It's a shame Stinerman isn't around. He's always good for a pointed rant over the evil of gerrymandering per se.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

I don't like gerrymandering, whichever party does it

(#313099)

I just wasn't in the mood to change the topic from which party is doing it more and to which ethnic groups in 2014 as opposed to say 1984.

But you'd need very careful gerrymandering

(#313102)

to get the results I think you want,  namely,  states with 45% Dem voters ending up with 45% Dem congressmen.   By gerrymander I mean deliberately taking party and race into account in drawing the districts.

 

If you randomly assigned precincts to districts with no concern for either geography, demographics, or party,  most districts would be very close to 45% Democrat,  and you'd win few if any seats.   The only thing it would help you with is forcing the Republicans to nominate centrists who can hang on to the 55%.

 

<Concern Trolling> Which brings up another issue you might want to consider.  Consider two far-left Congressmen - Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) and Raul Grijalva (AZ).   Lee has held her seat for years because her district is overwhelmingly Democratic,  and that is the result of Republicans overstuffing all the Houston democrats into her district in order to make the suburban districts safe Republican.  I'm not from AZ but I'd guess Grijalva's case is similar.

 

If they'd drawn somewhat more "fair" districts,  the Democrats might have a chance at two seats instead of one in that area,  but instead of one Sheila Jackson Lee you are going to get two Democrats more along the Clinton/Bill Richardson line.  I know you really love centrists. </Concern Trolling>

That's a very acheivable and desirable goal

(#313110)

you'd need very careful gerrymandering to get ... states with 45% Dem voters ending up with 45% Dem congressmen

 

It happens in states where politicians, especially Republicans (note to MScott: I'm referring to today's Republicans, not those in office 30+ years ago), don't carve up the districts:

 

... 62 percent of the two-party vote went to Democrats and the average mock delegation of 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans exactly matched the newly elected delegation. Notably, California voters took redistricting out of legislators’ hands by creating the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

 

As for concern trolling, the country polls so far to the left of the policies that our politicians enact/fail to enact, anything that moves towards more direct democracy should be overall welcomed by the left. 

Is my calculator broken?

(#313111)

38/(38+15) = 71.6% of the delegation on 62% of the vote.

 

The only fair distribution would be 33-20.   Systematic massive disenfranchisement of Republicans in California.  California needs to be bailed into the Voter Rights Act and put under federal supervision for 50 years.

 

EDIT:  For comparison,  in TX the delegation is 66% Republican on 58% of the vote.  Whatever evil stuff TX Republicans are doing, CA Democrats are doing with almost the exact same level of greed.   I think your example here is not showing what you want it to show.

More than 1.2 million

(#313088)

Given that the GOP lost by 1.2 million, that would be the right number if seats in the House were currently evenly split.

 

Since the GOP has a 33 seat majority, the number is probably greater.

You still haven't explained

(#313092)

why the percentage of seats in Congress should match the national percentage of vote for each party.   You are assuming that parties have some kind of moral value,  and that people should align themselves along partisan lines rather than having opinions on specific issues.  Those are awful big assumptions.

 

Your explanation of why this is important should be meaningful to the plurality of voters in the US who do not consider themselves members of a party.

 

"You are assuming that parties have some kind of moral value"

(#313094)

Wha?

 

I may be assuming some national identity to the parties here given that their members align on a lot of issues, but any ethics just has to do with legislatures reflecting the will of voters.

 

Will of which voters?

(#313101)

You can't expect, even with hypothetical ethical legislators,  that the legislature of one state would prioritize the will of voters in other states over voters in their own state.  That's not their job and would in itself be ethically questionable.  So you wouldn't get a close match to the national percentages even with imaginary fair minded people doing the districting.

 

Your argument holds, at best, within a given state.

"Your argument holds, at best, within a given state"

(#313112)

Well that's all I need. Here it is again:

 

In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats.

 

In other words, a less than 1% vote advantage in these states was turned into a more than 2-1 election advantage. 

 

This is systematic disenfranchisement via gerrymandering. I know this because disenfranchisement via gerrymandering is a thing, and this is a paradigmatic case of it.

Let me ask another question

(#313114)

'cause I know you like answering questions.

 

District of Columbia.  85% Democrat,  15% Republican.

 

Would you expect their delegate to Congress to be Republican 15% of the time?   Or would you assume that 85 beats 15 every single time?  I think the latter.

 

How bout I ask the question, since you never answered mine

(#313115)

7 states. 50.5% R, 49.5% D.  

 

Would you expect Rs to win more than 2/3rds of the time?

I would expect

(#313116)

them to win far more than 50.5% of the time,  since 50.5 does in fact beat 49.5. 

 

Modern polling is accurate to 4% or so,  so a district that is carefully measured at 54-46 will produce a Republican close to 100% of the time.   So,  50-50 gives you a 50% chance of winning.   54-46 gives you a 100% chance of winning.  50.5-49.5 is somewhere between those two.

 

IIRC Nate Silver was giving Obama something like a 80% chance of winning off of a 51-47 advantage in polls.

 

Of course those districts you're concerned with aren't really 50.5-49.5,  they just average to that.   My point is only that percentage of the vote is not percentage chance of winning,  or percentage of districts won when averaged over many districts.

Just on the probability

(#313118)

"I would expect them win far more than 50.5% of the time, since 50.5 does in fact beat 49.5."

 

But in over 100 trials you wouldn't expect elections to come out with Republicans winning nearly 70% of the time.

 

To push your own style of argument on you -- surely you can't be saying that 50.1% of the popular vote should result in all 435 House seats belonging to a single party.  

 

Worse, if this gerrymandering were implemented in all states, the GOP could lose an election 38% - 62% and still retain a majority in the House.*

 

That's just not how representation in the House is intended to function.

 

*- by my quick guesstimate, anyway.

Should?

(#313119)

"surely you can't be saying that 50.1% of the popular vote should result in all 435 House seats belonging to a single party."

 

If you mean "should" in the moral/ethical sense,  I think each seat should belong to the party that won a plurality in that seat's district,  and there is nothing more to be considered.  If the result is very far from 50.1%, so be it.

 

If you mean "should" in the expectation sense,  no,  of course I don't expect that,  because voters are not distributed uniformly.  But,  as MSE already pointed out,  the natural distribution does not favor Democrats.    Inner cities are as much as 90% Democrat,  so 40% of the population is disenfranchised (as you'd put it) since their votes aren't needed to win the seat.   OTOH,  suburbs, small cities, and rural areas are generally not 90% Republican. 

 

Geographic boundaries that do not explicitly take party into account will definitely not give you the PR you want - e.g. see your CA example in which a supposedly non-partisan commission disenfranchised (as you'd put it) more people than the TX plan. 

 

OTOH if you take party into account,  how do you avoid disenfranchising (AYPT) independents, who might prefer to elect a D for one office and an R for another?   Seriously:  suppose the voters want Democratic congressmen 55-45 and want Republican state senators 55-45:  that is going to be very tough to accomplish.

 

To sum it up:  you want proportional representation.  We don't have a such a system and no district-based system can simulate it. The only reliable way to do that is to scrap the whole district thing and go to actual PR system. 

 

Note that as politics divides less by geography and more by class/gender it will become ever more difficult to design districts to get the results you want.  Eventually it will be impossible.

 

----

 

This "intended" business....  the original "intent" of districts was that people who live close to each other have common interests.  Many of the framers were hostile to the idea of factions and parties,  so I doubt their intent was to create equal opportunity for parties that wouldn't even exist in their current form for another 90 years.  

 

If you want to honor intent,  districts should group people with common interests.  That would in general mean districts should cover compact areas that avoid mixing inner cities,  suburbs,  rural areas,  and areas with distinct languages/cultures.  But of course doing that would not give you anything close to PR.  Much the opposite.

 

 

Maybe I'm missing a subtelty

(#313135)

but would Single Transferable Vote work fine in a district system.

 

Not that the one party system you have over there will allow it of course.

STV

(#313137)

Yes, that would work in states with two or more representatives,  or at least get a lot closer to what catchy wants.  And of course it would eliminate redistricting.   But as you point out,  federal law requires single member districts,  and the one party we have is unlikely to allow it to be otherwise.

 

STV has some imperfections,  by the way.   Like any PR system it tends to enforce party discipline,  and I think we have too much party discipline as it is.

As long as you have multiple candidates

(#313140)

it should still change the landscape. It allows people to vote for 3rd parties without letting the other side in.

 

Catchy could vote for the Communist Workers Redistibution and Jazz Party (Marxist/Leninist) without letting the republicans in.

 

You might see more party discipline, but you'd also see a lot more parties too. After a few cycles you might see some people picking up seats. Of course. Some of those people would probably be complete crazies.,

JFTR

(#313164)

IMO the Jazz part is at least as dangerous and un-American as the Communist Workers part.

OK, most people aren't fine

(#313120)

if one party takes all 435 House seats with 50.1% of the popular vote, but you're a libertarian so of course you're willing to bite the bullet. Along with the entire ammunition factory if necessary.

 

I didn't understand why CA has less proportional representation than the 7 R-redistricted states. How so? I thought it was simulating PR pretty well, which is why it was highlighted in the NYT article. I thought it put the lie to your "we can't have nice things anyway, so just live with this" argument.

 

 

 

CA Democrats fooled the electoral commission

(#313162)
Bird Dog's picture

As documented here. Because of this, an untold number of Republicans were disenfranchised, according to your standards. My advice is this: If you want more "fairness", then tell your Democrat friends to win more state houses.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

"an untold number of Republicans were disenfranchised"

(#313173)

I can tell you about the number: way fewer than in 7 states where Republicans redistricted.

 

In CA, Ds won the overall two-party vote 62/38 and took 71% of CA's House seats. Perfectly reasonable.

 

Meanwhile Republicans across 7 states turned a less than 1% vote advantage into 68% of the seats. 

 

Nobody cares whether or not you care about fairness, I'm just pointing out that Republicans are disenfranchising a disproportionately large number of racial minorities to win elections.

 

If you think it's not fair to point that out, my advice is to get over it.

Not to be a turncoat on this issue,

(#313121)

since I bolloxed the election math above, but I have to chime in to say that 50+1 is pretty much the law of the land. No matter how slim the margin, if a party is able to hang on to a slender majority, then in a winner-take-all system they will be able to control most or all of the government indefinitely. That's just how it works. 

 

There is definitely something wrong with Republican partisan gerrymandering, but the fact that it leads to 50.1% of the people controlling the government is a feature not a bug. There isn't anything wrong with 50.1% rule. There is something wrong with a ruling party drawing district lines to cut the legs out of their rival.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

OK how about retaining a majority

(#313122)

when losing the popular vote by 42-58%?

 

B/c that's what Republicans have engineered* in 7 states they redistricted in 2010.

 

*- according to my estimate

Which states are we talking about?

(#313123)

Turning 42-58 into a majority is a fairly impressive bit of gerrymandering,  I'd like to see the details of how it was done.

 

Note: it is not possible to gerrymander a state with one at-large rep.  I assume no such states are in your seven.

Ive linked an NYT piece by Wang twice already

(#313125)

My guestimate is based on that

Hmm

(#313130)

Wang says:

Third, gerrymandering is a major form of disenfranchisement. In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats. Given the average percentage of the vote it takes to elect representatives elsewhere in the country, that combination would normally require only 14.7 million Democratic votes. Or put another way, 1.7 million votes (16.4 minus 14.7) were effectively packed into Democratic districts and wasted. 

Now we've got to get from that to "retaining a majority while losing the popular vote by 42-58,  b.c. that's what Republicans have engineered".    I suppose you meant they engineered it so that they could have got a majority off of 42%, in those seven states.   I didn't see such a simulation for those seven states in Wang's article. 

 

Wang did make a serious attempt and his methodology is more sophisticated than our vapid (thanks, J) remarks here.   However, I see some flaws,  maybe unavoidable,  e.g.  using randomly picked districts nationwide as his standard for what percentage it takes to fairly win districts,  when those districts have presumably been gerrymandered.  

 

Another flaw is that there isn't a good way to take into account uncontested, or even more difficult, effectively uncontested races.  If the Republicans run an unfunded, disowned joke candidate in a D district,  that runs up the D percentage way over 50%,  and by Wang's reasoning, somehow disenfranchised the extra Democrat voters.  If they ran more serious (but losing) candidates in those districts,  that would make the gerrymandering appear less severe,  even though it's exactly the same district.

Re: your worries

(#313133)

using randomly picked districts nationwide as his standard for what percentage it takes to fairly win districts,  when those districts have presumably been gerrymandered.

 

Presumably the gerrymandering would mostly cancel out. We have reason to believe the random sample doesn't lean D b/c Ds won the overall popular vote yet the GOP retains a remarkable 33 seat majority.

 

there isn't a good way to take into account ... effectively uncontested races. 

 

Reasonable point, but this may again mostly cancel out. Don't know either way.

 

you meant they engineered it so that they could have got a majority off of 42%, in those seven states.

 

Yeah that's my guess.

I guesstimated off that passage

(#313131)

and the 7-8% overall nationwide +D vote it would take to return the GOP to even a one seat minority in the House. 

 

You seem unfamiliar with the level of gerrymandering in Republican states:

 

In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates received half of the votes in House contests, but Republicans will claim about three-quarters of the congressional seats. The same is true in North Carolina. More than half the voters in that state voted for Democratic representation, yet Republicans will fill about 70 percent of the seats. Democrats drew more votes in Michigan than Republicans, but they'll take only 5 out of the state's 14 congressional seats.

 

I might be a bit off with the 42-58 but I might not -- it's a reasonable guesstimate. 

 

... From your earlier comments, this doesn't matter. Each voter got to vote in a district, however it was constructed. We can't have perfection, so no biggie.

It's no biggie

(#313134)

because I don't care about Republicans (as a collective) or Democrats or whether either of them is treated fairly.  They're worse than useless organizations that deserve no protection whatsoever.  To rephrase the arguments against the Citizens United decision - rights are for people, parties aren't people, so they have no rights.  What you propose is to further permanently entrench the two party system by making fairness to Republicans and Democrats - but not independents or anyone else - a formally institutionalized part of the system.   Jeebus man, it's bad enough as it is.

 

You took a dig at libertarians above.  As a party we're 2% of the population.  By your logic,  we ought to have 7 seats in Congress and 1 governorship.  I think I'm mature enough to realize we haven't earned any of that,  and that a system that tried to enforce 7 seats and a governorship for us would be gravely unjust to the non-libertarians forced to live in that state and those districts.

In defense of the two-party system

(#313192)

Yeah, that's about how much it deserves -nt

(#313193)

.

Your critique of the two party system is a different convo

(#313174)

Btw, I'd be fine with any party earning over 5% of the vote having roughly proportional seats in Congress

I acknowledge that

(#313117)

"percentage of the vote is not percentage chance of winning"

 

My point is that when they are entirely out of sync you undermine any sense in which over 400 elections across the country represent that country. 

 

I'm not claiming any aberration no matter how small between % of the vote and % of representatives is disenfranchisement, but you seem to be hard-lining the position that any old relationship is just fine.

 

I'm avoiding getting bogged down with definitions and borderline cases, b/c we're not talking about a borderline case here: a less than 1% advantage that results in over a 2/3rds win is not borderline (and a single trial presidential election is an irrelevant comparison). 

 

those districts you're concerned with aren't really 50.5-49.5, they just average to that

 

That counts in my favor, not against. It shows widespread, systemic gerrymandering that disenfranchises voters across more than a 1/4th of the entire voting population, with all the worst offenders (except IL) in R-controlled states.

 

For a case like DC with an 85-15 split, my hope is that it reasonably evens out given places like Dallas-Fort Worth. That's supposed to be part of the benefit of having multiple districts within states across the country.

 

The House is a federal legislative body and how elections function at the national-level is a legitimate worry. You oughtn't just say "each voter got a vote w/in her district" and leave it at that.

Republican Run States Gained Seats, Democratic Ones Lost Them

(#313090)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Luck of the draw (and internal migration patterns, which is a case of people "voting" with their feet). If it had been the other way around, Democrats would have been in the position to do likewise. Complaining about being on the currently non-benefiting side of a 200 year old practice is, again, laughable.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

"Democrats would've been in the position to do likewise"

(#313091)

That may have been true 30 yrs. ago, but you might remember my complaint that your conservatism often comes across as about 30 yrs. out of date:

 

Confounding conventional wisdom, partisan redistricting is not symmetrical between the political parties. ... Both sides may do it, but one side does it more often.

 

In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats. Given the average percentage of the vote it takes to elect representatives elsewhere in the country, that combination would normally require only 14.7 million Democratic votes. Or put another way, 1.7 million votes (16.4 minus 14.7) were effectively packed into Democratic districts and wasted.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/the-great-gerrymander-of-2012.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Democrats Have A Built-In Disadvantage. . .

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M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .at partisan gerrymandering due to the fact that majority minority districts are by their nature overwhelmingly Democratic (and will be until they can figure out a way to make sure the white voters in the district are overwhelmingly Republican compared to the average). That definitely falls into the "not our problem" category as far as Republicans are concerned.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Gerrymandering Can Result In That

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M Scott Eiland's picture

Again, if you and Catchy are suggesting abolishing gerrymandering for *all* purposes, I'm in. If the argument is that *this* particular instance of a 200+ year old practice is illegitimate where the previous ones were not, then you've lost me.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Gerrymandering Has Existed For 200+ Years In This Country

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M Scott Eiland's picture

And if you propose to ban it comprehensively, I'd be glad to support that effort. However, claiming that the current round is somehow uniquely a manifestation of Republican EEEEEEVILLLLLL is laughable.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Why laughable?

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Republicans were in charge of the latest round of redistricting and their advantage became even greater afterwards.

 

Isn't this simple self-interest on their part to require more than a 7% popular vote loss to lose their majority?

 

One interesting question is whether this is out of historical norms for gerrymandering. You're welcome to comment on that since you brought up the history rather than straw-man what I've been saying. 

"historical norms of gerrymandering"

(#313105)
brutusettu's picture

fwiw, these better computers that David Brooks alluded to in another post, those may have helped gerrymandering, as with the musings among a number of GOP professionals that they are constantly wronged and it's fair game to take have a little gamesmanship in them and cheat within the rules far more than normal.

So. . .

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M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .that's an answer of "no" to supporting a comprehensive ban?

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

No, it presumes whites vote Republican

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and that therefore race-based gerrymandering is responsible for Republican control of the House. Immigration reform would erode much of the Republican advantage gained by drawing district lines like a Rorschach inkblot. Therefore they oppose it. Racists make up an important voting bloc for Republicans, but not the entirety. 

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Creating Majority Minority Districts. . .

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M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .by necessity increases the majority percentage in majority districts. A phrase using the words "hoist" and "petard" comes to mind with regard to liberal conduct here.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

There's no quoque like tu quoque. -nt-

(#313074)

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

More Like Cause And Effect

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M Scott Eiland's picture

Racial gerrymandering is a liberal game, and it has *always* benefited Republicans, who ironically are the ones who fight it in the courts.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Isn't 63% a majority?

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mmghosh's picture

-

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Sure, but 100% of white America isn't conservative

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A majority among only 63% of the population is dictating America's agenda.

As Opposed To A Majority of 17%?

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M Scott Eiland's picture

Oddly enough, I can live with that.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

Indeed.

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mmghosh's picture

In fact, I might even suspect that catchy's "white America" also commands a substantial majority in the !%, who presumably own the majority of the country's land, and wealth.

 

Some, including me, might say - so what?  There will always be the rich and the poor.  Is possession of extreme wealth by a small class really so important?  Should it be? Should it even matter?

 

I'm a little surprised why catchy, being a philosopher, is so outraged at this, and for so long.  Surely the subset of not-very-well-off Americans is a very small subset of the total planetary populace (even of the not-very-well-off populace) - who seem to have worked out that envy of the extreme wealthy is a pointless activity.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Nobody cares that people are wealthy, manish

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and I think I've explained this at least 3 times prior, but here goes again.

 

The super wealthy are getting wealthier by putting their boot on the neck of the rest of the population.

 

Average incomes are falling for the majority in America and have been for most of the past decade while wealth has exploded at the very top. Poverty, unemployment, and debt are both at very high levels in the country I'm from precisely because the super rich are vacuuming up all the country's wealth.

 

If the very wealthy were merely riding a tide of widespread prosperity to new heights, no one would care. But in fact median living standards are falling in America or entirely stagnant. So it's not envy for the zillionth time.

 

You're basically saying no one should ever object whenever someone richer massively screws them over. Otherwise, envy.

But, catchy, the same is happening all over the world

(#313126)
mmghosh's picture

as America controls 50% of the world's economy.  The super-rich in the USA are vacuuming up everybody's wealth.

 

The American working class and middle classes (the most educated, advanced, literate, aware etc etc) are happy to let them do so - remember AndrewSshi's comment about the line manager working for the boardroom, against his class interests?  You will have to justify why you consider this to be a bad thing, when the majority of your countrypeople don't.  And don't go on about what polls say.  How people vote in the elections is the thing - you must admit that the kind of person who wins the vote in the USA is a viable, personable articulate centre-right politician of whichever party.  

 

As for objecting to screwed over by the super-rich, I think the best example is the population of Afghanistan who have objected to being screwed over by Western powers for 4 decades now - and look where it got them.  Would you say South Korea is screwed over - in spite of accepting virtual economic dictatorship by the super-rich of the chaebol for what, 50 years now?

 

Christ proposed the neatest theory of defusing class war, on the hypothesis that the first shall be last on Judgment Day (that means the droned over droners, btw).

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The same isn't happening in Latin America

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My overall optimism for the US is that its fastest growing population is Latino and they have different sensibilities from the average white line manager who identifies with his company's boardroom.

 

America has always drawn its strength from immigration. Who knows, it may re-invent itself yet and toss off the center-right/right wing corporate stranglehold that is depressing average living standards. 

 

As for S Korea, it's improved in many ways in large part bc the left and student pop went to the streets in the 80s precisely to better the average person's lot. Greater democracy and over a 1000 unions were formed, followed by increased average living standards and universal health care.

 

I think your "nothing can change, it's ever the way of the strong and the weak" is a mostly boring rationalization to shut down leftist concerns about social justice.

A pointless activity when you have no power,

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but the American poor still wield some. It slips away every day, but it's not gone yet.

Educating children on inequality

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How to Write a Political Suicide Note, by Chris Christie

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Check out this juvenile temper tantrum in the form of an email from the beleaguered governor's office. It's like someone turned over the rock of Jersey politics, and now it's so hard to look away. Now if we could just do New York, Chicago, Providence, Houston, New Orleans, LA, etc.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Only if...

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Bird Dog's picture

...Christie's claim that he had no knowledge turns out to be untrue. As it is, he has every right to fight back. The NYT public editor noted the major change in the story and chastised the editor for not mentioning it. Still, Christie may be toast because of the pile-on that is continuing to unfold.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

There's a difference between fighting back

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and throwing a juvenile tantrum in public. Digging up dirt on someone from high school automatically counts as the latter. It's now officially impossible to take Christie seriously as a national leader.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes