Can’t Believe I Have to Repost AGAIN: The “Gerrymandering” Red Herring!

I can’t believe this “gerrymandering” crap still hangs on in March 2015. This is basic math, for chrissakes!

To obtain a majority in the House, you need 218 seats. In the 29 states that actually register voters by party, Republicans have 27 percent of registrations, which means three-quarters of voters are NOT registered Republican. Got it? It is mathematically NOT POSSIBLE for such a minority to gerrymander themselves into a majority.

I originally posted this on January 3, 2013, and it’s still valid. Stop believing this gerrymandering nonsense. Not only does the math not hold up on a national basis, but espousing this very concept makes many voters think their votes won’t count. It’s one of many things we say that results in depressed turnout, which helps the GOP win. If you think about it; the GOP doesn’t actually have to gerrymander, because our incessant discussion of it probably cost more votes than they could steal.

Here’s the article once again:

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The professional left’s latest chew toy is based on the concept of gerrymandering.  Basically, the argument goes, Republicans kept a majority in the House due to gerrymandering. It’s an interesting concept, but what makes it interesting is that they are so SURE they’re right about this, despite the fact that it’s actually mathematically impossible.  This can actually be proved by making a basic challenge; please show the math that gives a political party with 27% of all voter registrations nationally a Congressional majority over a party with 39% of registrations, at least in the 29 states and the District of Columbia that include party registration with their voter registration process.  (21 states don’t) You can’t. Even if Independents broke 2-to-1 for Republicans, the parties would be dead even, at best.

Though I could end the argument there, the math itself highlights other problems, especially one constant theme I’ve been highlighting on this blog for years.  Some liberals seem to want to believe that every problem is a conspiracy, and that it’s someone else’s fault, when the problem rests squarely on our shoulders.  The problem isn’t a grand conspiracy, but a failure to play politics in a meaningful, intelligent way.

The concept of gerrymandering is about a legislature drawing Congressional district boundaries so as to favor one party over another. The practice is as old as (small r) republican politics. There have been laws against it forever, but it’s very easy to skirt the law just enough to make it look less than obvious, so it’s still quite common. This is one case in which “both parties” actually do engage in it. But in most cases, gerrymandering is used to consolidate power for a few select individuals. It’s possible that gerrymandering could be used to give a party a majority in the few states where party affiliations/leanings are close to 50-50. But it is simply not possible to take a state that leans 55-45 toward one party, and swing a majority of seats to the other party through gerrymandering. In order to strengthen one district, you would necessarily have to weaken another. Continue reading

A White Guy Explains White Privilege to White… Liberals?

I am a white liberal. When I say “white,” I mean “WHITE!” My ancestry is half Irish, a quarter German and a quarter Polish. What I consider a decent tan turns my skin a relatively light shade of beige. Being born white doesn’t make me better than anyone, to be sure, but I’d be absolutely nuts to deny that having been born white hasn’t had built-in advantages. I mean, seriously… open your eyes and look around.

The more I read and hear, especially over the past few days, the more I realize how many supposedly hardcore white liberals have no concept of “white privilege” and think that, because they’re having a difficult time, well, there must be no such thing.They would be wrong, of course. The fact that some white people are poor or struggling does not negate the reality of white privilege at all. In many cases, white people make decisions that cause them to struggle. Note that I am not calling them “wrong” decisions. Not everyone is into money, power and being rich. Often, we make conscious decisions to go into a field where we just don’t make any money. Other times, the field we work in becomes obsolete or the company we gave our lives to goes under. None of that has to do with “white privilege.”

Put simply, white privilege is not about the choices white people make in life. It’s about the choices that are available to white people. Face it; white people have no hurdles to jump when it comes to doing anything in the United States of America. Anything we decide to do, we can at least try, without fear of any push back because of the color of our skin. It’s not hard to figure out why, really. White people built this country for other white people, and for 200 years, people of color were largely forbidden from even participating to any great degree. Even after we abolished slavery, we carved out little areas where all the “theys” could live apart from us and we built a society for all the white people and let “them” fend for themselves. Continue reading

What Are Americans’ Values, Exactly?

aclulogoI know it seems a bit jingoistic to say, but this truly is “my country, right or wrong.” The key words there are “or wrong.” The reason I protest or write columns about things I feel are wrong is because I love America and Americans. I don’t complain about things because I hate my country; I do so because we need to be better than we are, not accept things as they are and pretend they’re perfectly fine. I protest and try to fix things precisely because I plan to live here for the rest of my life, and because I hope that my son will want to live here and raise my grandchildren here, as well. I want everyone I love to live in a country where everyone has an opportunity to succeed, and impediments to success are minimal and certainly not based on skin color, gender, sexual preference or any other arbitrary “standard” people manage to come up with. The more successful everyone is, the better off we all are as a nation. We should aspire to be an example that every other country in the world wants to emulate.

This truly is a great country in many ways, but the fact is, we’re slipping and too few will acknowledge it. And frankly, it’s not “patriotic” to see your country slipping and do nothing to reverse the trend. We don’t take care of the poor, and we pretty much make them fend for themselves, which places them in a cycle they cannot break away from. Consider the barriers we set up with low welfare payments, a lack of child care support and the fact that we don’t provide the poor with decent jobs or training. Our welfare system produces despair and quashes hope. It doesn’t create more working, productive citizens. And what’s worse, even when they do get a job, we don’t see to it that they make enough to live up to even a minimal standard. You know those neighborhoods in every city that none of us will drive through? We create those ourselves; it’s not an accident.

censorshipIt’s a funny thing; Americans probably talk about morality more than any other society in the world, yet we don’t seem to follow up with action. We give more money to charities than any other country, while we do little to nothing to help people here. Up until recently we were the only industrialized nation in the world where a citizen could get sick and lose everything, and even though we’re trying to fix that, there are still many who would go back to the old way. We’re still the only industrialized nation with a useless and seriously underfunded welfare apparatus, and yet we seem to assume that welfare mothers are lazy or duplicitous when they dare wait in line to prove they’re worthy of their pittance. We attach shame to the use of welfare and SNAP money, despite the fact that most people who get welfare will pay far more in taxes than they will ever receive over their lifetimes. We claim to care for our children, so we pass laws that brand molesters forever, even though we do little to nothing to see to it that all children have enough to eat, basic health care or loving adoptive parents, whether they’re black, brown, white, gay or straight. We seem to claim a God-given right to pollute the air and water at will, to build as many roads as we want, to kill every species of animal that gets in the way of our bizarre concept of “progress” and to threaten and toss bombs at anyone who doesn’t think exactly as we do. Continue reading

It’s Past Time to Tax Religion

RobertsonChurches have become increasingly political in recent years, and that’s fine. There is a right to free speech and all. However, if they insist on inserting themselves into politics, why should they be allowed to get away with not paying taxes? The rest of us don’t get to do that, whether or not we’re religious. Is a church entitled to more rights than any member of that church?

I can hear Republicans screaming about “religious freedom” already. However, there is nothing in the Constitution that mandates that churches be tax exempt. Besides, paying taxes is patriotic; it’s how we get a better country. It’s how we keep the capitalist system going. And again; since their congregants pay taxes, why should the people who preach to them get away with paying nothing, especially if they’re going to try to tell them how to vote?

The single greatest example of religious hypocrisy has to be the concept of the right wing “Christian” church. Given that Jesus was pretty strongly progressive, how does that work, exactly? Where in the New Testament does Jesus tell politicians to deny health care to poor people? Why do so many supposedly “Christian” churches support spending cuts on programs most needed by the poor, while happily handing extremely rich companies like BP and ExxonMobil billions of extra dollars every year? Is it too much to ask that religions that demand things from government at least demonstrate some level of scriptural support for their claimed religious privilege? Continue reading

Rules for Being a Republican

Pure EvilI compiled these on my old blog back in 2005, and while some are a bit dated, most are still relevant today:

  • You must believe that being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime – unless you’re a millionaire right wing radio gasbag; then, it’s an “illness” and requires prayer for “recovery”.
  • You must believe that those born to privilege achieve success on their own, but all of the people who put them there are lazy and stupid.
  • You must believe that ethics are an inconvenience that only stupid Democrats bother with, and that any way you raise money is okay, so long as you don’t get caught.
  • You must believe that folks who work for their money should be taxed at a higher rate than those who get their money for nothing. In fact, you believe that rich people should be exempt from taxation.
  • You must believe that being “morally upright” means hating gays and liberals, and hating anyone else who doesn’t hate gays and liberals. In fact, it means hating anyone who isn’t you.
  • You must believe that, to rid the country of crime, you must rid the world of people not like you, like those who aren’t white.

Continue reading

The Absurdity of Religious Exemptions

Whatever happened to this notion about rights in which your right to do something ends when it infringes on another’s rights? You know, like you have a right to drive, but you can’t run over a church group at the park.

Finger wagEvery American should understand that rights are never unlimited, right? It’s why you have the right to free speech, but you don’t have the right to incite a riot or threaten a public official or a neighbor. You have the right to a free trial, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, but the police can keep you in jail before your trial, just in case they’re right and you actually did kill those people.

Rights are not unlimited and absolute; not even religious rights. It’s why you can’t take some online course, declare your own religion and stop paying taxes. You can’t claim a religious exemption and sacrifice virgins (assuming you could find one) in a barbecue pit in your backyard. You can’t claim a religious exemption and claim that snorting cocaine or heroin is part of your ritual and be left alone by police. Continue reading

Put The Progressive Messaging Machine Back on the Rails

There have been so many potentially game-changing moments for the progressive movement over the last few decades, but the game never actually changes. The fact of the matter is, the progressive movement has largely been toothless for more than a generation because we let opportunities slip away because they don’t meet our unrealistic expectations. As I mentioned last week, we are largely losing the messaging game. And the primary reason for that is that some of us – unfortunately, the loudest and most prominent of us – have become so enamored of our own idealism that we think it’s reality, and we don’t understand why everyone doesn’t feel the same way. 

We lose the messaging game in large part because we don’t listen.

ScreamerThe loudest on our side, whom I call PUBs (Progressive Unicorn Brigade) because I’m not crazy about the term “emo,” tend to be reactionary, and they take every political disagreement so personally, it’s impossible to conduct a civil conversation with them. Disagree with a PUB and you get a reaction similar to one you’d expect if you’d kicked a dog. They are always arguing with other liberals, and arguing with the right wing, and arguing with conservative Democrats, and arguing with Obama, and arguing with blacks, and arguing with… you name it. The problem is, with all of the reaction and the arguing, where’s our message supposed to come from?  Continue reading

Help Create a Pragmatic Progressive Media Network…

A Clarification:

Apparently, some people are under the impression I put the cart before the horse, and I did not. 

I have been trying to raise money for this network for a few months now, although for about half that time I was inactive because of stuff that was going on in my personal life. Some are under the impression that I am doing all of this alone, and I am not. For most of last year, I recruited people to run their own blog and to do a podcast, and I have about half the planned positions filled. I also have writers and skilled podcast producers interested. All of that happened as a result of recruiting on Twitter, on my podcasts, and through a number of other progressive fora.

I have not made any commitments as yet, because I don’t know where the financing will come from. It absolutely cannot come from me at the moment. Hence the fundraising, which I didn’t start until after the election, and didn’t start in earnest until after Christmas.  This is not for me, it is for liberals everywhere who are not given a voice because the professional left controls our side of the debate. 

But no one we have lined up will commit without knowing there is support. Would you? This is about raising enough to get started and showing that we have enough support to make a go of it. The goal is modest; it’s not exactly enough to make anyone rich. At least at first. But it is enough to start something that could get rid of the GOP and out-shout the professional left. 

We now return to our regular programming. 

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Sadly, the far right and the far left have a lot in common. A LOT.

  • They pretend to know everything there is to know about politics, while demonstrating little or no knowledge of how the politics works, or even what it is.
  • They claim to represent a whole bunch of people who don’t actually agree with anything they say.
  • They demonstrate contempt for the vast majority of the electorate, by turning words like “moderate” and “centrist” into epithets.
  • They are so ideologically rigid that they dismiss all but about five percent of the electorate who think just like them as virtually irrelevant.
  • They dismiss the results of democracy as an inconvenience.
  • They are make demands of politicians that they should know can never actually happen.

bush_headupassI could go on (and on). The only real difference between the far right and the far left is that the far right has adopted and virtually taken over a major political party, while the far left seems to suffer under the delusion that liberals don’t need anyone else to be successful. They believe their ideas are so all-powerful that their mere existence will force the American people to adopt them and turn the United States into a progressive utopia.

hillary1There are no unicorns, folks. Continue reading

Stop Creaming Re Saint Reagan: He Was Actually One of the Worst

There is recently yet another round of right-wing lionization of Saint Ronald of Reagan going on as we speak. (No, I will not tell you where it’s happening. It’s not worth the pain and suffering.) It’s puzzling, really. Not only do they lie about the few decent things he did and pretend he was just like them, they also largely ignore the fact that he was a really terrible president. Horrible. It would be hard to come up with many that were worse. Definitely Bush. And probably Hoover. Maybe Nixon.

What did Saint Reagan do to become such an idol? Republicans talk about him like he was a demigod whose name should be spoken with reverence, with heads bowed and hands folded in prayer. Even some lefties – especially professional lefties who used to be Republicans, and there are a lot of them  — speak of him as if he was a breath of fresh air on a spring day.

He wasn’t. His rise marked the beginning of the second worst political period in our history.  Continue reading

Proof of Republican Incompetence (Updated)

The reason we elect a government is to serve us. Oh, sure, there are some who think we elect a government so we can all have a unicorn and live in peace and harmony forever, but that’s not reality. There seems to be a meme out there that, somehow, both major political parties are the same – the term “two sides of the same coin” has been used a lot. That is not true, and people need to know it. Voters should know what to expect when the modern Republican Party is in charge, and this data shows exactly that. Facts have a liberal bias, and we need to stick to them.

The fact is, Republicans do not serve us and don’t even try to, while Democrats at least they try to, and they often succeed. The programs we claim to love so much were all started by Democrats. Continue reading