Losing the Vote, Keeping the Seats

gop costume party
(Ben Sargent via GoComics.com)
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Detail-intensive, depressing/infuriating article from Bloomberg:

A majority of Americans disapprove of the Republicans in Congress, yet the odds remain in the party’s favor that it will retain control of the House. One big reason the Republicans have this edge: their district boundaries are drawn so carefully that the only votes that often matter come from fellow Republicans.

The 2010 elections, in which Republicans won the House majority and gained more than 700 state legislative seats across the nation, gave the party the upper-hand in the process of redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional seats. The advantage helped them design safer partisan districts and maintain their House majority in 2012 — even as they lost the presidential race by about 5 million votes. Also nationwide, Democratic House candidates combined to win about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

“The Republican-created maps in most states set up a sort of seawall,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “As the decade goes on, people do shift party allegiances and move in and out of town, and so the effects erode a little bit, but it’s still a seawall and it’s still keeping some of the flood of 2010 in,” Levitt said. …

Map-making software is cheaper, more powerful and widely available, compared to a decade ago. State lawmakers can build databases with detailed voter registration figures, election results and population data to project campaign outcomes and demographic trends.

It may also be easier to predict voter preferences. Party- line voting is increasing: fewer than 30 districts backed the presidential candidate of one party and a House candidate of the opposite party in 2012, the lowest total in at least 90 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“If you’re a map-maker drawing lines, that’s just gold for you, because you can very reliably use partisan voting patterns in one election to predict what it might be in another, or much more so than you could before,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a Takoma Park, Maryland-based nonprofit that wants to change the redistricting process to reduce partisanship in Washington.

The 2012 results show how Republicans gerrymandered congressional lines to produce favorable outcomes even in states that lean Democratic….

64 replies
  1. 1
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Well, the good news is that 2020 is a presidential election. If we can drive turnout up and either re-gerrymander the crap out of maps or even have independent commissions do the map, we can turn the tide for good.

  2. 2
    Mike in NC says:

    Yep, we’re going to spend many years suffering the consequences of so many assholes deciding to sit out voting in 2010.

  3. 3
    lojasmo says:

    I blame obama.

    P.S. Fuck you, Ben Franklin.

    (that felt surprisingly good)

    ETA: Ted & Helen, NR, Corner Stone, and every other firebagging bitch in the hizzzy.

  4. 4
    Redshirt says:

    We’re doomed.

  5. 5
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    That’s why we on the left need to make 2012 a paramount year for GOTV. If people came to Texas, and did voting drives and moving people to the polls, we could make the state more competitive and maybe drive Perry out of office. We could do this in other states where the gerrymandered districts are thinly Republican majority.

  6. 6
    mclaren says:

    Ah, the siren song of the ever-hopeful naifs. “Things will turn around by 2020.” Yeah. Right. When gasoline hits $20 a gallon and massive droughts are blighting food crops to the point where food riots are shutting down our major cities.

    Things will be better in 2020, when U.S. national security spending rises from its current 8% of GDP to 12% of GDP, and when the TSA and DHS are conducting random sidewalk checks and roadblock stops of ordinary citizens and those who are found without proper I.D. are taken away in black hoods to “undisclosed areas” for “further processing.”

    Things will turn around for progressives in 2020, when the Supreme Court has revisted the Dredd Scott decision and legalized slavery, allowing corporations to wholly own men and women and children if they fall behind on their credit card payments. Things will be better in 2020 when posting a comment about how you intend to protest at the RNC leads to a riot-armored SWAT team pre-emptively breaking your door down and shooting you 137 times with automatic weapons because you have been deemed to offer “material support for terrorism.”

    2020, that’s when we progressives can really start to push our agenda forward. From our tiger cages where we crouch begging for water while the DHS interrogators shock us with electrodes and repeat for the hundredth time, “I have paralyzed that part of your mind which resists commands. We are going to re-educate you now, citizen…”

    Yeah, 2020. That’s the date we can look forward to as the turning point for the marvelous resurgence of liberalism and progressive policies. Until we get blown up by a drone while walking down the street because “the targeted killing was successful, even though the target was not correctly identified” and the drone operator who fired the Hellfire missile gets a medal and a promotion.

  7. 7
    r€nato says:

    the Republicans fought like hell to get rid of the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission in Arizona. Just as hard as they have fought our Clean Elections law.

    Fortunately, they failed to kill the IRC. As a result, allegedly far-right Arizona actually has 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans in the House. You bet it would not have turned out that way last year, had the GOP gotten its way with the IRC.

    Jury is still out on whether they will succeed in getting rid of Clean Elections or at least rendering it impotent.

  8. 8
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @mclaren: So no flying cars then?

  9. 9
    Peter says:

    @mclaren: Jesus, mental illness is a hell of a drug.

  10. 10

    Losing the Vote, Keeping the Seats

    The epitome of Republican mindset: Fuck You, I Got Mine.

    Rove mastered the art of modern conservative political assholery, and now its writ large for all to see. Twist it to serve your purposes, and if that doesn’t work, break it so no one else can use it. In this case, “it” is the House of Representatives. “It” will remain broken perhaps until 2022 or 2024 – the redraw of 2010 didn’t really sicken the Body Electorate until 2013. Now its toxic shock syndrome until we flush that sewer line.

    It is of vital interest to every non-Republican to vote in every election until further notice. Just as the Republicans manage to sustain rage, hate, fear, assholery, to hang on to what power remains to them, every single non-Republican must muster hope, courage, love, tolerance, and GET TO THE GAIA-DAMNED POLLS.

    Fuck me hard, I hate these soulless two-bit ratfuck criminals. It’s like inheriting a leaky nuclear power plant next to an open-pit waste dump full of rusted drums with the skull and crossbones pasted over everything.

    @mclaren: Die in a fire today, please. kthxbai.

  11. 11
    r€nato says:

    OK leave it to me to be the turd in the punchbowl… does anybody here really believe that if 2010 had been a Democratic year instead of a Teabagger year, the Dems wouldn’t have put their fingers on the redistricting scale as well?

    Are we griping that the GOP is much ‘worse’ (better) at tilting the board in their direction than Dems are?

    Serious questions.

  12. 12
    OzoneR says:

    @r€nato:

    does anybody here really believe that if 2010 had been a Democratic year instead of a Teabagger year, the Dems wouldn’t have put their fingers on the redistricting scale as well?

    It’s possible, because they did gerrymander the fuck out of Maryland and Illinois cause they could.

    But they’re not a ruthless as Republicans, Democrats actually care about democracy. And it many cases, as we saw in New York, California and Florida, Democrats win by just leaving shit alone or by doing things fairly.

  13. 13
    mclaren says:

    @Peter:

    Thanks for describing me as mentally ill. At least half of what I wrote is happening right now.

    [1] The TSA is already conducting random VIPR highway stops. It is already taking away people who refuse to provide proper ID for “further processing.” Yes, the TSA — at train stations, bus stations, and on highways.

    [2] American citizens have already been tortured into mental incapacity by U.S. interrogators, and their testimony extracted under torture used in military commission courts.

    [3] Texas was just authorized to start using drone in domestic airspace. Wanna bet that within five years those drones will be armed?

    [4] A lot of analysts predict $175-a-barrel oil by 2018, with concomitant major economic disruptions. For example, the financial analysts at Deutsche Bank. Perhaps they’re mentally ill too.

    [5] Agronomists and climatologists worldwide have been sounding warnings about how brutal droughts threaten global food production. But of course, we can safely dismiss those scientists too, since they’re obviously “mentally ill.”

    Keep up the denial. Ignore the headlines like “Causes Of Midwest Drought: La Nina And Global Warming Thought To Contribute To Dry Weather.” Stick your fingers in your ears and yell “NA-NA-NA-NA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

    That’ll fix America’s problems.

  14. 14
    OzoneR says:

    @mclaren:

    The TSA is already conducting random VIPR highway stops. It is already taking away people who refuse to provide proper ID for “further processing.” Yes, the TSA — at train stations, bus stations, and on highways.

    That wasn’t real dude, that was just the episode of NCIS you were watching.

  15. 15
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    I seem to recall that those who are Democrats, did got to the polls in 2010, it was the rest of the electorate, who generally don’t vote in mid terms, that stayed home. So where was that GOTV in 2010, even though it was clear that there was a Tea Party storm raging in the land? Case in point I went to a labor rally in 2008, and it was wall to wall people for the Obama/Biden ticket as well as the the down ticket races, in 2010 it was meh! People aren’t going to vote if they don’t have a reason or a care. I think that is the job of the Democratic Party and the OFA to GOTV. Otherwise don’t blame the voters, cause you gave them no motivation to vote for you.

  16. 16
    Redshirt says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: In a world of flying cars, one poster dares speak the Truth…

    This Summer, in a 21st Century Fox Production, McLaren stars in “We’re Doomed”.

  17. 17
    mclaren says:

    @BruceFromOhio:

    mclaren: Die in a fire today, please. kthxbai.

    Exhibit A in “Why Democrats keep losing elections and have no ability to influence public policy.”

    When your solution to looming problems is to hope that the people who identify them die screaming, the epistemic closure has reached the point of brain death.

  18. 18
    OzoneR says:

    @mclaren:

    Exhibit A in “Why Democrats keep losing elections and have no ability to influence public policy.”

    Democrats won 3 of the last 5 national elections.

  19. 19
    r€nato says:

    @OzoneR: actually Dems won 5 of the last 6 national elections. One of those was stolen by the Supreme Court.

  20. 20
    OzoneR says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    I think that is the job of the Democratic Party and the OFA to GOTV. Otherwise don’t blame the voters, cause you gave them no motivation to vote for you.

    And yet there they were in 2012! What was so different in 2010 than in 2008 and 2012?

  21. 21
    efgoldman says:

    @r€nato:

    Serious questions.

    Dems have historically gerrymandered too, notably in the North. And generalities aren’t worth the pixels they’re typed in.
    Having said that, especially since the 70s, Dems tend to play fair. Its always Dems who do things like non-partisan redistricting, and campaign finance reform, and public financing; all things meant to create a fair and level playing field. From the TeaHadi/GOBP side, fairness is a sign of weakness. They are totally results-oriented no matter what they have to do to win. That’s why we see so much anti-democratic and possibly fascistic action on their part. They can read the demographic tables as well as we can. Their object is to leave nothing but wreckage once they are forced out of power.

  22. 22
    OzoneR says:

    @r€nato: I was including midterms- 2012, 2008, 2006. They lost 2004 and 2010.

  23. 23

    @r€nato:

    does anybody here really believe that if 2010 had been a Democratic year instead of a Teabagger year, the Dems wouldn’t have put their fingers on the redistricting scale as well?

    In Ohio, I think it’s the law to do so.

    In my view, it goes back to the “tire irons and anthrax” observation Cole made a while back – Dem redistricting lets in people like Betty Sutton, Marcy Kaptur, and if you are really lucky, Louis Stokes. Or, in other places, Barney Frank.

    Republicans send people like Jean Schmidt and John Boehner, and in other places, Michelle Bachmann.

    So yeah, let them Dems have at it, and draw it up. The odds are better for survival in the long run.

  24. 24
    The Moar You Know says:

    @mclaren: The really hilarious thing about your rant is that you don’t even live in this country.

  25. 25

    @mclaren:

    When your solution to looming problems is to hope that the people who identify them die screaming, the epistemic closure has reached the point of brain death.

    Ummm, no, I’m just tired of your stupid bullshit comments, and wish you to die in a fire. Keeping it simple, bro!

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @efgoldman:

    Dems have historically gerrymandered too, notably in the North. And generalities aren’t worth the pixels they’re typed in.
    Having said that, especially since the 70s, Dems tend to play fair

    From what I understand, liberal and moderate Republicans in the North also contributed to cleaning up the system and making it fair, by being “the other liberal party” that you could vote for when the Democrats got too corrupt, without needing to worry that they’d seize the opportunity to bust your union, steal your pension and defund your public services.

  27. 27
    r€nato says:

    @mclaren:

    I’d like to take you seriously, but your post is a melange of Alex Jones fantasy (the TSA VIPR thing), stuff progressives should really be concerned about (government-sponsored use of torture, whether on Americans or others), hysteria about real problems (whatever changes are wrought by global climate change, it’s not going to turn the midwest in to the Sahara by 2020, these kinds of hysterical predictions make all of us look like idiots to be ignored when they fail to come true), and problems that aren’t really a problem ($175/barrel oil? Sounds like a damn good reason to drive an electric car).

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Moar You Know: Really? I assumed she was in Texas for some reason.

  29. 29
    mclaren says:

    @OzoneR:

    That wasn’t real dude, that was just the episode of NCIS you were watching.

    No, that wasn’t real. When the TSA conducts warrantless searches at train stations nationwide, that’s a just a symptom of my mental illness.

    It’s one of hundreds of random checks being done across the country. Thursday morning it was at Austin’s Amtrak Station.

    “We have a surge of uniformed law enforcement appear at train stations, bus stations where we have a mass number of people”, said TSA Asst. Federal security director George Robinson.

    Robinson says this team of Homeland Security, TSA agents and Air Marshals are looking for any kind of criminal activity on some our busiest transportation systems.

    “Now that the security at the airports is increased so the bad guys are traveling on trains and buses so we try to deter that,” said Robinson.

    It was a bit of a surprise for many hopping on the train

    .

    Federal Agents along with APD officers used K-9’s to find narcotics, or explosives. Rocky, a retired military dog also searched for baggage inside incoming trains. On this day the search found nothing suspicious.

    Source: “TSA VIPR Team Searches Amtrak Station,” 24 January 2013, FOX News, Austin TX.

    Likewise, this news report is also a hallucination conjured up by my mentally brain:

    The TSA has announced its intention to expand the VIPR program to include roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, setting up a network of internal checkpoints and rolling out security procedures already active in airports, bus terminals and subway stations to roads and highways across the United States.

    Up until now, commercial trucks and other vehicles only were subject to warrantless searches and radiation scans at specially designated “state-owned inspection stations” traditionally set up at rest stops next to highways. These internal checkpoints, run by Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the TSA, involve trucks being scanned with backscatter x-ray devices in the name of “safety” and “counter terrorism”.

    These inspection stations are now being expanded to normal roads and highways, unleashing an army of TSA agents who will be given a free hand to litter America with internal checkpoints in a chilling throwback to Soviet-style levels of control over the population.

    “Inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are likely to be more involved in roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, according to TSA officials,” reports the industry website BulkTransporter.com.

    ”VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams can be extremely effective, serving as a visible presence that is random and unpredictable,” says William Arrington with TSA. “VIPR teams are an essential part of protecting highway transportation vehicles and other critical infrastructures.”

    Source: “TSA Invades Roads and Highways With VIPR Checkpoints.”

    And in Philadelphia, where cops stop and conduct TSA-style patdowns of random citizens on the street, this is also a figment of my warped deluded imagination — including the video where you can see the police conducting random suspicionless pat-downs of pedestrians on the street. Pay no attention. That’s just an optical illusion. It’s not happening.

    In Philadelphia, you don’t have to visit the airport to have the government molest you, TSA-style “stop, question and frisk” pat downs are already being conducted by police on the streets targeting people who act suspicious, by doing things like putting their hands in their coat pocket.

    Pay no attention to headlines like TSA’s VIPR Teams Now Conducting ‘Suspicionless Searches’ at Train Stations. It’s all just a figment of my mentally ill imagination.

    Denial: the solution to all America’s problems!

  30. 30
    r€nato says:

    @OzoneR: my bad.

  31. 31
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @mclaren:

    I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist, but I also feel obligated to point out that the ‘food-and-oil-crash-fueled riots’ apocalypse and the complete descent into an Orwellian state predictions have been made quite often over the last, oh, 50 years. Honest question-were you saying the same sorts of things 10 years ago about how life would be like now?

    Edit: And I see you’re citing Fox News and Alex Jones. Well, you know what they say about the company you keep.

  32. 32
    r€nato says:

    @mclaren: yeah I fucking nailed it. You’re quoting from PrisonPlanet. Alex Jones paranoid bullshit.

    Literally every fucking mass shooting in this country gets credited by Alex Jones and his cretins to a grand One World Government conspiracy to snatch all our guns rather than, you know, being blamed on the fucking asshole who decided killing a bunch of innocent people in cold blood was the answer to all his problems.

  33. 33
    mclaren says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    The really hilarious thing about your rant is that you don’t even live in this country.

    More delusion and fantasy. You people have really gone off the deep end.

    I’m a U.S. citizen who’s lived in the continental United States for my entire life. But continue gibbering your drivel, by all means. It’s getting bizarre enough to be amusing.

    Next, we’ll hear that I’m a three-headed alien from Arcturus, no doubt…

  34. 34

    @r€nato: …the fucking asshole who decided killing a bunch of innocent people in cold blood was the answer to all his problems.

    … and who then shoot themselves. If they would just do the last part first …

  35. 35
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @OzoneR: First of all there is always a drop off in the mid terms of voters, nd usually the winning party loses a few seats in the mid terms, what was different was the GOP was on a major tear, with the Tea Party, while the Dems only getting those who were the party supporters. I did not see the excitement in 2010 that you saw in 2008, plus there was a sense of that there was a loss of morale, especially when you remember that the Democratic Party controlled both the House and Senate, and a feeling nothing was done except the ACA. You got to realize that most people don’t give a f–k about party. They will vote in the presidential elections, cause they bring excitement, but the the downtickets? Meh. And the midterms? Well you saw it with the Tea Party. The GOP was motivated big time IN 2010(just like the Democratic Party in 2006) the Democrats, like I said about the labor rally, it was dead. People don’t have an obligation to vote for you, unless you give them the motivation or the other side sucks so bad.

  36. 36
    Suffern ACE says:

    @r€nato: There are several states, like say, Wisconsin & PA, where the conventional general agreement was to preserve the two party system for incumbents. That’s why you saw the Democrats bolt in Wisconsin. If they were shocked by that, they hadn’t been paying attention, frankly. But there are a lot of Dem leaders who just don’t seem to get that their republicans aren’t actually different.

  37. 37
    CaseyL says:

    Voter turnout in off-year elections is never as high as Presidential years. Thus it has always been, and ever shall be.

    The CW about 2010 has shifted: Dems voted just as much as they normally do (i.e., not much, in an off-year); it was the independents who didn’t turn out.

    There just aren’t enough firebaggers to make a difference. To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure how many of them really are ostentatiously disaffected Democrats. I suspect most of them are non-voters altogether, who like to portray themselves as persons of lofty principle for whom no candidate is good enough.

  38. 38
    mclaren says:

    @r€nato:

    yeah I fucking nailed it. You’re quoting from PrisonPlanet. Alex Jones paranoid bullshit.

    So FOX News staged the video of that TSA train station stop? That’s what you’re saying? Really?

    The website bulktransporter.com cited by the PrisonPlanet website is just making things up? When bulktransporter.com reports

    Involvement in roadside inspections is part of the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) program that was developed several years ago by TSA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). VIPR started in the aviation sector and has now been expanded into surface transportation.

    ”VIPR teams can be extremely effective, serving as a visible presence that is random and unpredictable,” says William Arrington with TSA. “VIPR teams are an essential part of protecting highway transportation vehicles and other critical infrastructures.”

    Arrington adds that VIPR teams normally will be accompanied by a uniformed highway enforcement officer. VIPR team members may or may not be in uniform, but they will carry DHS credentials.

    …that’s just something the people at the bulktransporter site invented out of pure paranoia? Really?

    Let’s check that:

    Roving security teams increasingly visit train stations, subways and other mass transit sites to deter terrorism. Critics say it’s largely political theater.

    Rick Vetter was rushing to board the Amtrak train in Charlotte, N.C., on a recent Sunday afternoon when a canine officer suddenly blocked the way.

    Three federal air marshals in bulletproof vests and two officers trained to spot suspicious behavior watched closely as Seiko, a German shepherd, nosed Vetter’s trousers for chemical traces of a bomb. Radiation detectors carried by the marshals scanned the 57-year-old lawyer for concealed nuclear materials.

    Source: “TSA Screenings aren’t just for airports anymore,” Los Angeles Times, 20 December 2011.

    Whoops.

    Your denial of documented facts just got you into world ‘o hurt, buckaroo. When you start calling news articles published in the Los Angeles Times “paranoid bullshit,” you’ve just segued from denial into outright dementia.

    Have a nice trip in Fantasyland.

    The rest of us prefer to believe reports published in major newspapers. Out here in the real world, news reports published in periodicals can’t be dismissed as “paranoid bullshit” simply because someone finds them inconvenient.

  39. 39
    OzoneR says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    especially when you remember that the Democratic Party controlled both the House and Senate, and a feeling nothing was done except the ACA. Y

    If passing the most progressive piece of legislation in 40 years is not enough to motivate them to vote, then they’re probably never going to.

    You and i differ because you think there was a way to get them to vote in 2010. I don’t.

    My proof- they came back in 2012, what motivation did they have then? By your logic, they would’ve had less motivation.

  40. 40
    efgoldman says:

    @Chris:

    …without needing to worry that they’d seize the opportunity to bust your union, steal your pension and defund your public services.

    Exactly. I voted for many a liberal Republican at the state level. But not since 1972. The liberal GOBP of those days were very slightly to the right of where Bernie Sanders is now.

  41. 41
    Suffern ACE says:

    @OzoneR: If you’re still around – I know you live down in the big city. So do you have any idea why I’m supposed to be convinced that an Inspector General is supposed to solve the NYPDs problems or why I’m supposed to be concerned that if one is created, a blood running through the streets in a crime wave unseen in decades is supposed to unfold?

  42. 42
    fuckwit says:

    Keep calm and GOTV.

    And, that will mean knocking on doors in VERY RED gerrymandered districts.

    In 2014, but plan on it now.

    Do it.

    Save money for the plane tickets, bus tickets, train tickets, and hotel rooms. And make sure you have an unlimited cellphone plan.

    There is no need to panic. There is need to do more of what we did in 2008, 2010, and 2012, and do it on an even grander scale in 2014.

    This is all going to come down to GOTV, and also persuasion and engaging with and finding common ground with people way farther to the right than we’re perhaps used to engaging with.

    Yes we can.

  43. 43
    OzoneR says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    So do you have any idea why I’m supposed to be convinced that an Inspector General is supposed to solve the NYPDs problems or why I’m supposed to be concerned that if one is created, a blood running through the streets in a crime wave unseen in decades is supposed to unfold?

    Currently the police are policed internally. Frankly, they don’t do that bad of a job policing themselves considering the fact that its internal, but there is often some bias. The idea of an independent IG (which actually has the support of one of NYC’s GOP Council Members), takes the oversight out of the department, which is essentially a fraternity.

    Many cops actually support the idea of an IG, because they believe that is the best way for these cases and judgments to be seen as fair in the public eye. (Cops who are accused of wrongdoing and are acquitted are often still marred by the experience because few believe the investigation was fair “Oh, they’re just watching out for their own).

    However, the concern is, in the hands of the wrong mayor, the independent IG will become nothing more than the epicenter of a witch hunt and cops will be hesitant to use force when necessary, or just let the worst criminals run a muck, because they fear being the next Rebecca Nurse.

  44. 44
    Chris says:

    @efgoldman:

    Yeah, I’m kind of sorry I lived after the GOP’s complete takeover by the right wing. I have a feeling I’d have voted for many a Republican throughout the twentieth century if I’d had a chance to. Not at the presidential level (at least not since FDR), but definitely at the local one.

  45. 45
    Ted & Hellen says:

    I’d like to hear an explanation as to why, no matter what the category or situation, the Dems are always the hapless supposed victim.

    Those darn Repukes are just so darn mean.

  46. 46
    mclaren says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I wouldn’t consider myself an optimist, but I also feel obligated to point out that the ‘food-and-oil-crash-fueled riots’ apocalypse and the complete descent into an Orwellian state predictions have been made quite often over the last, oh, 50 years.

    As for living in an Orwellian state, if you haven’t noticed, all your emails and all your phone calls and all your text messages are being collected in a central database in Nevada. If you don’t think this is real, recall what just happened to Gen. David Petraeus.

    Americans are now subjected to suspicionless searches, K-9 dog sniffing, and police pat-downs in train stations, bus depots, airline terminals, cruise ship terminals, and on the sidewalk, for no reason.

    Americans now have all their bank records and credit card transactions and all other financial transactions collected in a central database which is shared among many different federal agencies.

    Americans can now be detained indefinitely without being arrested and held in secret prisons without charges, according to the NDAA legislation passed by congress.

    Americans are now subjected to near-universal camera surveillance in many thousands of public locations, and on almost all private business malls and business establishments, including office buildings, restaurants, motels, hotels, and public areas like concourses.

    Whether you want to call this “Orwellian” is up to you.

    It’s a fact.

    These are the conditions on the ground in America right now, all around you.

    As for food prices, let’s take a look at the Los Angeles times once again:

    “Midwest drought worsens, threatening food prices,” Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2012.

    [Picture: A field of dead corn sits next to the Lincolnland Agri-Energy ethanol plant.]

    The drought that has gripped the gut of the United States is intensifying and shows no signs of lessening, according to a report released Thursday.

    The latest map of the United States and Puerto Rico reflects that 53.44% of the land is now in moderate drought or worse, up from 53.17% the week before, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Severe drought or worse is reported in 38.11% of the country, up in a week from 35.32%; extreme drought or worse is reported in 17.2% of the land, compared with 11.32% the week before.

    We don’t have detailed accurate predictions for global warming yet, so we can’t map out specific timelines. The climate models are complex, and the timelines involved are too long for month-by-month predictions. What we do know is that a scientific consensus has now formed that global warming is happening much faster than anyone expected.

    Let’s take a look at a video from ABC News:

    “Global Warming Accelerating, Say Scientists.”

    Ignore the science. But do it at your own risk.

    Deny the reports in the major newspapers. But don’t expect to be taken seriously if you do.

  47. 47
    David Koch says:

    When gasoline hits $20 a gallon and massive droughts are blighting food crops to the point where food riots are shutting down our major cities.

    $20 a gallon! Food riots!

    Thanks for the tip I just bought 10,000 shares of Exxon and ConAgra.

    C.R.E.A.M. bitchez!

  48. 48
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Are we griping that the GOP is much ‘worse’ (better) at tilting the board in their direction than Dems are?

    I think the technology got better, to the point that it had become possible to redistrict to a much more effective degree with the aid of software designed for the purpose. The Democrats definitely never pursued gerrymandering on a national scale to the degree that the Republicans have, but it might just be because they couldn’t. It’s hard to know.

    At any rate, it’s a genuine problem, to an unprecedented degree, as Sam Wang has done a good job of pointing out:

    http://election.princeton.edu/.....rrymander/

    I’m not terribly interested in exploring the question of whether Democrats are morally better than Republicans on this score, but on the other hand, it definitely isn’t the case that the current situation is just the way it’s always been.

  49. 49
    danielx says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    Actually, the DHS VIPR concept is neither imagination nor paranoia, but reality, I’m sorry to say. Given the way DHS tends to interpret the law, they could set up a checkpoint where you could get stopped while riding a bicycle – those alloy tubes could be filled with plastique, y’know. And hey, why would you mind if you’re not doing anything wrong, etc…

  50. 50
    Redshirt says:

    I guess I’ve always just looked forward to Dystopia.

  51. 51
    mclaren says:

    @Ted & Hellen:

    Fanatical non-stop denial of reality isn’t a good strategy if you want to fight a political opponent.

    As we see in this forum, most Democrats simply cannot bring themselves to accept the facts on the ground.

    You can’t formulate a winning strategy in a political battle if all your effort is concentrated on refusing to acknowledge observed reality.

    This leads to Democrats as victims, constantly blindsided by the reality they denied. Democrats were flabbergasted, absolutely stupefied with disbelief, when the Iraq invasion so many of them in congress voted for in 2003 turned out to be a giant scam.

    Democrats were stunned and gobsmacked when the gutted financial regulations their sainted Bill Clinton worked hard to repeal led to the greatest global economic meltdown since the Great Depression.

    And right now, today, Democrats are preparing to be stunned and shocked speechless when the national security state their adored idol Barack Obama has done so much to build atop George W. Bush’s rotting antidemocratic legacy falls someday into the hands of some far-right Republican president who will use it to do everything I’ve warned it can be used for.

    Democrats: constantly gobsmacked by reality. The epistemic closure on this website really is nearly as extreme as on the far-right sites like Red State. The only difference? Here, the epistemic closure takes the form of relentless denial of Barack Obama’s extreme far-right positions on the economy (austerity policies, no prosecution of Wall Street financial crime lords) and national security (prosecution of federal whistleblowers like John Kiriakou who get sent to federal prison, while the torturers whose war crimes those whistleblowers revealed go free) and foreign policy (each time one of Obama’s unwinnable foreign wars winds down, he starts a new one in another part of the world; now Obama’s Pentagon has opened up the Africa Command, heralding a whole new continent for endless unwinnable pointless foreign wars).

    Denial after denial: John Cole said back in 2010 that he was “tired of hearing about how Obama is cracking down on state marijuana dispensaries.” Obama was a good guy. It was all just bogus propaganda from FOX News, right?

    Wrong. The record is now clear: Obama has massively stepped up prosecution of state marijuana dispensaries by federal DEA teams. Grannies in wheelchairs are getting handcuffed by Obama’s federal SWAT teams in record numbers…but, as always, the loyal Democrats must deny, deny, deny, deny, deny.

    Anyone who points out these documented facts is “mentally ill.” That’s the ticket. That’s the winning strategy for 2016! Tell anyone who points out observed reality: “Die in a fire.” Scream at the Democrat who points out the facts on the ground: “You’re mentally ill.”

    That’s not a great way to develop a strategy to win political battles. Hence the Democrat-as-perpetual-victim stereotype.

  52. 52
    mclaren says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    On the other hand, another group of political scientists has run the numbers and claims gerrymandering isn’t the basic problem.

    “Gerrymandering is not what’s wrong with American politics,” Washington Post, 3 February 2013, John Sides.

    The important thing in this graph is the black lines that capture the relationship between, essentially, how liberal or conservative the member’s constituents are and how liberal or conservative the member is. Those lines should slope downward: the more liberal the district, the more liberal the member. But the lines are mostly flat, with only a slight downward slope among Republicans. No matter whether Obama won 20 percent or 50 percent of their district, Republican representatives have voted similarly — that is, they have taken conservative positions on average. No matter whether Obama won 50 percent or 80 percent of their district, Democratic representatives have taken liberal positions, on average. Constituency hasn’t affected anyone’s overall voting behavior that much.

    And the 113th Congress is no exception. Here, via political scientist Nolan McCarty, is a picture of ideology in the 108th House compared to the 2004 vote for George W. Bush in their district:

    In sum, Democrats and Republicans are just polarized, no matter whether their district is red, blue or purple. It’s hard to imagine that creating more competitive districts will mitigate polarization. Members in purple districts are pretty polarized, too.

    Those graphs look convincing. I find it hard to believe they’ve been faked.

    From the data, it looks like extreme polarization is more to blame for the current situation in Washington than gerrymandering.

  53. 53
    mclaren says:

    There is, incidentally, an excellent essay on the radicalism of the current Republican party as a mirror image of today’s utopian left.

    “Utopia, it’s often been remarked, is a word with Greek roots that mean “no place.” I would submit that if you have to reach back more than a half-century to Eisenhower (the notion of Reagan or Bush I being at peace with the New Deal is hard to square with any narrative of American history I’m familiar with) to find a place on the right for your political ideal, then your politics are as utopian as that of the most radical leftist, who, after all, also believes that his Promised Land is a mere half-century out of reach.”

  54. 54
    Pyro Joe says:

    The amount of passion for pie mclaren has expressed here today is admirable. I think we should all applaud her dedication to pastry.

  55. 55
    Joe Buck says:

    In states with a D majority, or even a purple state, it might be possible to get a referendum passed to do mid-decade redistricting with lines drawn by a California-style independent commission.

  56. 56
    priscianus jr says:

    @PsiFighter37: re-gerrymander the crap out of maps

    There actually is no need to re-gerrymander. It’s not even a good idea. Just de-gerrymander.

  57. 57
    Emerald says:

    Look this is easy. Claire McCaskill led the way by surreptitiously funding Aiken’s primary campaign and getting him nominated, thus getting herself re-elected in a seriously red state.

    The Republicans are on the verge of splitting their party anyway. All we have to do is identify appropriate loonies in the districts we need to win and fund their third party campaigns, thereby splitting the wingnut vote and electing Democrats.

    And if Democrats are not cynical enough to do that then we deserve to lose.

  58. 58
    Bubba Dave says:

    @Emerald:
    Honestly, what this country needs right now is George Wallace!

    OK, not so much really, but I think there is a huge constituency out there for something like his mix of economic progressivism and hating on the “other.” Put together a third party that sounds like Bernie Sanders when it talks about the social safety net and sounds like Jeff Sessions when it talks about marriage equality and abortion and affirmative action, and you have a party that can win 30% of the vote in the Deep South.

    The open question, of course, is how much of that 30% comes out of the Democratic share of the vote. But honestly, if the result is that some of the lockstep Republicans are replaced by nativist populists– well, that hypothetical congressman is right on some of the issues, vs. the Republican who’s right on exactly zero. If the Dem wins, that’s better. and if the Repub wins anyway, well, that’s no worse than the status quo.

    I would find those Wallacites morally repugnant, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be politically useful.

  59. 59
    NCSteve says:

    @r€nato: North Carolina was gerrymandered by Democrats in 2000. When they were done, it had seven Democratic seats and six Republicans when the numbers said it should have six Democratic seats and seven Republican. Republicans gerrymandered North Carolina in 2010. It went from seven Democratic seats and six Republican–which matched the state demographically if not geographically after a decade of immigration from other states–to three Democratic seats and ten Republicans.

    That’s the difference between how we do it and how they do it.

  60. 60
    cvstoner says:

    The people may dislike the Republicans, but they dislike those dirty hippies more.

  61. 61
    someguy says:

    You want to eliminate safe Republican seats, you’re going to have to eliminate a lot of safe Democratic seats to do it.

  62. 62
    cleek says:

    @Pyro Joe:
    ain’t that the truth. whew. mclaren’s a lunatic… for pie!

  63. 63
    Emerald says:

    @Bubba Dave: Hmm. I don’t know where you got George Wallace from that when I’d just referenced Claire McCaskill messing with the Republican primaries. I doubt an appeal to racism would work, as most of these folks already respond to that. So, that approach would not split them.

    They already appear to be splitting along the lines of the establishment Rs who want to win vs. the teabag purists. The sitting R congresscritters already worry about a primary campaign. We need to give ’em one. What we need to do is what Claire McCaskill did: pick an unelectable primary opponent and keep their funding going into a third party-style bid if our guy loses.

    The point is: split their vote. A direct appeal to racism wouldn’t do that, so no, finding twenty George Wallaces wouldn’t work, speaking purely on a practical level.

  64. 64
    mclaren says:

    @Pyro Joe:

    The amount of interest Pyro Joe and Cleek have in molesting underage girls is remarkable. If I were them, I would refrain from boasting about molesting underage girls in public, however.

    Cleek and Pyro Joe may also want to think twice about claiming that people are saying things they clearly and provably haven’t said. Making those claims may lead others to claim that people are saying things they clearly have provably haven’t said.

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