Monday, December 30, 2013

Gerrymandering: the movie

By Bill Kraus

It is probably fitting, maybe masochistic, that I end the year watching a movie entitled Gerrymandering.

It is not new. It is not playing at a theater near you. It is a colorful summation of the purposes and results of gerrymandering over the years in many places.

The stars of the movie are Texas and California. The movie was made before the respective Democratic and Republican legislative majorities and their complicit governors had their way with the supine voters of Illinois and Wisconsin respectively.

The formidable Tom Delay re-mapped the state of Texas to give the Republicans six more sure seats in the U.S. Congress. In California the then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger led the fight for a referendum which removed the power to redistrict from the incumbent legislators who were, he pointed out, addicted to the power to gain advantage and preserve incumbencies.

The 77-minute documentary makes the points we are now familiar with with some interesting embellishments.

The embellishments first.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The good news

By Bill Kraus

1. It’s different than the former California Speaker Jesse Unruh’s dictum, “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, take their money and vote against them, you don’t belong in this business,” and John Boehner’s scolding is directed at the dreaded third parties who want to dictate elections from the outside, but it is a huge step in a welcome direction nonetheless.

It is important to remind everyone that power still resides in those in office not those who think the money they spend on their screeds put them in office. This seems to be a revelation to those who prefer buying votes and voters to getting into the trenches and fighting for the right to rule.

It is also a reassurance to those of us who contribute only votes, that we still count more than the idiot billionaires and the cult organization with their benign labels and questionable agendas.

Who knows what might happen next. Following the Supreme Court’s suggestion and the Boehner lead, we might even be told who it is exactly who is funding and running these organizations that want to run the game from the bleachers.

Let the people decide? What a novel idea.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bad answers, wrong questions

By Bill Kraus

When Assembly Speaker Robin Vos tells a credulous Rotary Club that the present system used for redistricting is working just fine and that the Iowa system being proposed to replace it doesn’t work and is unconstitutional to boot, it is time to reload and remind in case any of us ever gets a chance to refute and clarify.

The present system is working just fine in one way. It is working just fine for those incumbents who Speaker Vos favors.

Through a combination of collusion, artful mapmaking, and imaginative computer manipulation the system has produced eight sure-to-be-re-elected members of Congress and a solid majority of Republicans in the state Assembly in a state where the Democrats outpolled the Republicans by some 200,000 votes in the last statewide election.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Forcing politicians to think

By Bill Kraus

Before you pick a candidate or vote for one, you must ask that person whether they have read Thinking, Fast and Slow.

If they have not, offer to buy them the book. If they do not accept your offer, vote for someone else.

The book was written by a Nobel Prize winning economist and tells us things about the way our brains work that are startling, revealing and scary.

The book introduces you to that stranger in you, which may be in control of much of what you do, although you rarely have a glimpse of it.