I wrote down my predictions for some of the court’s upcoming decisions a few days ago. I was, unfortunately, correct on gerrymandering. The issue of whether to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is not finally resolved – just suspended for the time being.
The Court fooled me just a little on gerrymandering. I thought their reasoning would be that coming up with a test is too complicated. They didn’t. They said, in effect, that a the party in the majority during a census has the right to discriminate against minority parties to any extent they want for the next ten years. While stating that partisan gerrymandering is reprehensible and unjust, they said it is not their job to fix it. It is political, not judicial. Huh?
How is it not the job of the Supreme Court to ensure that basic constitutional rights such as the right to representation are not in their scope? How is one person – one vote no longer important?
How is the right of an individual state to discriminate against a party so that they are intentionally underrepresented in the House of Representatives of the United States not a Supreme Court interest? The effects of those gerrymanders go well beyond the borders of the offending state.
The court is supposed to interpret and enforce the constitution. The framers foresaw a representative democracy established as a republic with many interests competing. The competition of interests is an important feature. It is the means of managing power and preventing overwhelming power from accruing to any one group. SCOTUS just said that cheating in the state vote to achieve more power than proper representation should allow is not something they can deal with. This blatant distortion of representation is “political” and not “judicial”.
They also said that racial gerrymandering is not acceptable because the constitution outlaws racial discrimination. Then, in the next breath, they say that political gerrymandering is ok. But political gerrymandering has much the same effect as racial gerrymandering. The case being adjudicated works mostly against Democratic minority voters because they have a higher proportion of black and Latino voters. It still has a racial effect then, doesn’t it?
The impact of course is not limited to the people’s selection of their own representatives. The major effect is on the House of Representatives. That’s why so much money from outside the state flows in to contested House races. The same people draw districting maps for state elections and can therefore control which voters have a say in future elections within the state. Because they concentrate voters of each party in specific districts, they also create districts in which partisans have more power and can continue to select less moderate people for their primaries. Now Senators are involved as well as Representatives. You see how that evolves into our current extreme and partisan Congress.
I am very disappointed in the court. They were the closest thing to a functioning branch of government we had.
This is a departure from my normal political topics. In the past few days I have described why the free market does not work with the healthcare system in the United States at least two times. Because both were sort of ad hoc, I decided to write one that is a little more complete. Neither of my readers will mind a change in subject and I get to review interesting stuff.
This article is based on classical economic theory. The Austrian school of economics will argue that some of the assumptions below, notably perfect knowledge, are not valid. The Heritage Foundation has published a refutation of the original argument at http://www.heritage.org/health-care-reform/report/compelling-evidence-makes-the-case-market-driven-health-care-system. I’ll come back to these later. Note that I am not a practicing economist so there will be valid disagreements with some of the items below. However, taken as a whole and observing the healthcare market, I believe the argument to be valid. Continue reading
Pundits often attempt to explain the president’s actions and motivations. I catalogued many Trump actions, tweets and comments in a framework based on my characterization of him. Almost everything he does can be explained if viewed through this framework. Simply, the framework describes the president as a
- whose only goal is his personal brand management.
Let’s be clear. I still think the Donald is a thin-skinned, narcissistic bully whose only goal is self-promotion.
Nonetheless, CNN and other media outlets must de-escalate the Russia story and find more time for other news. There are two reasons for this. First, there is other important news. Second, roughly one-third of the country doesn’t care. If you want to maintain (or reestablish) a reputation for fair coverage, you can’t spend all your on-air time talking about something a third of your potential viewers think is unimportant and won’t be interested in unless something much more definitive comes to light. It looks more like harassment than news coverage to a lot of people and is divisive. Don’t stop reporting on new facts related to Russian election-meddling, possible collusion and hacking. Just don’t spend all day and all night covering the same issues. Continue reading
The Republicans should stop messing around with health care bills, state their goal clearly and get on with it. They could have a vote and be on to the next subject in a week.
The problem they are having is that they keep trying to create a bill that both takes all the money away, strips the government’s involvement (individual mandates, essential benefits, etc.), gives individuals more control and options and simultaneously continues to provide some acceptable level of care to 20 million people more or less. This is the eat-nothing-and-lose-five-pounds-of-fat-while-gaining-ten-pounds-of-ripped-muscle-without-excercise-in-one-week diet.
What they need to do is state the obvious: Continue reading
Kelly Anne Conway and Donald Trump Jr have both used the “no harm, no foul” excuse in relation to the recently disclosed meeting between Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with a Russian attorney. Because the Russian attorney failed to deliver derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, as Trump apparently had expected, they say “nothing to see here, move along”. No harm, no foul.
I’m not sure that applies to politics. Continue reading
Looking back to the Obama years, I have to say they were boring. Yes, Republican obstruction provided some excitement from time to time. Remember when they were ready to shut down the government? That was a hoot! But generally the No-drama-Obama years were more dulls than lulz.
No more! It began with the president’s promise to unify the nation in his inaugural address. You remember. Continue reading