A New Pledge of Allegiance for a New America

We’ve become a nation selfish to a fault.

We don’t want to pay taxes, but we want services.

We launch hate filled screeds about taxes as tyranny, yet don’t lift a finger to stop the steady erosion of real constitutional rights.

We rebel against the idea that health care is a right and then complain about how high the insurance rates of the insured explode from de facto coverage for those who have none.

Social Security is an unfair entitlement to those who don’t use it. It’s what keeps a loaf of bread in the house when they do.

If poor people need help, let them visit the local church. Of course, they’ll be taken care of… if they aren’t gay, or Muslim, or mentally unstable, or any of a thousand other reasons.

Unemployed people are a bunch of lazy goldbrickers living off the public dole. Unless, of course, we become them.

We want to cut taxes to cut a deficit, but want to give more tax revenue to businesses who pass it along to shareholders with nary a job created.

It’s only a matter of time…

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of Me, and to the republic which only I want, one person, among millions, and selfishly, with as little liberty and justice as possible for anyone who disagrees with me.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!



Analyzing the South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, Part 2




Mexican Immigrants and the 2012 Mexican Presidential Election

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

There are quite a number of Mexican citizens living in America. Much political attention has been paid to these people by both American political parties. Liberals hope that the votes of their children will carve out a new permanent Democratic majority. Conservatives, on the other hand, relentlessly campaign against undocumented immigrants and “amnesty.”

When immigrant rallies occur, conservative media frequently focus on immigrants from Mexico waving Mexican flags. The implication is that these people are more loyal to Mexico than the United States.

Let’s take this thought a bit further, to a subject which most conservatives don’t think about. Like the United States, Mexico will have a presidential election in 2012. There are a lot of Mexican citizens in the United States (whether documented or undocumented). What if they voted?

So far they have not. Before the 2006 presidential election, Mexicans living abroad had to physically be present in Mexico to vote. Given the difficulty and expense of doing this (for all expatriates, not just Mexican), this effectively disenfranchised the Mexican expatriate population.

Before the 2006 presidential election, a new law was passed. This allowed Mexicans living abroad to register for an “overseas” ballot. The expectations were quite high; imagine the power of Mexico’s enormous expatriate vote to affect domestic Mexican politics.

As it turns out, however, only 32,632 Mexican citizens living in America bothered to take the offer. Most of them probably didn’t know about the procedure, or perhaps found it too complex. Apparently Mexican immigrants are just as disconnected to Mexican politics as they are to American politics (or more disconnected, in all probability).

Whether turn-out will be just as low in 2012 is still a mystery. Still, it’s pretty fascinating to consider what might happen if expatriate voting actually went into high-gear. What if the current ban on campaigning abroad was overturned? Imagine the PRI holding a political rally in California (or better yet, Arizona!). How about the PAN running advertisements on Univision?

Probably nothing more would piss nativists off than having Mexican political parties physically campaigning in the United States for the Mexican immigrant vote. It’s a humorous, if slightly unrealistic, thought. 


A Proposal to Redistrict California: Northern California and Sacramento

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Right now states across the nation are engaging in congressional redistricting, as mandated by law after the 2010 Census. Most redistricting is in the hands of politicians and thus heavily corrupted; the political party in control of the process is now busily gerrymandering districts to ensure it stays in power.

California is an exception to this rule; it is undergoing a unique experiment with a citizen’s redistricting committee. This committee will draw districts according to communities of interest rather than political expediency.

This post, and the ones following it, will outline one possible way to redistrict California. It uses the program Dave’s Redistricting Application, which allows anybody to draw congressional districts. Credit should be given to the many users on swingstateproject.com, whose maps of California provided much of the basis for this drawing. Particular inspiration was taken from the maps of users DrPhillips and roguemapper (whose maps everybody should look at too).

Because California is such a big and complex state, the proposal will be divided into eight regions:

1. Northern California and Sacramento

2. the Bay Area

3. Central Valley

4. Central Coast

5. Los Angeles County

6. Orange County

7. the Inland Empire

8. San Diego

Each region will be the subject of one post. I have also sent this proposal to the California Redistricting Committee.

In drawing these districts, several factors have been considered. These are outlined below, in order of importance:

Equal Population – Congressional districts must have equal population, to the exact person. This proposal puts each congressional district to below 1,000 people of the target. This is actually a hard barrier to meet, since the voting districts of California are incredibly large (some have over 100,00 people) and difficult to deal with.

The Voting Rights Act – The Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) mandates the creation of majority-minority districts under certain circumstances and regulates the use of race in drawing congressional districts. It is an incredibly complex piece of legislation, with numerous court cases, and something I admittedly don’t fully understand. This proposal attempts to follow the VRA as best as possible, by not regressing current majority-minority districts (easy to do, given the growth of California’s minority population). It also draws new majority-minority districts where reasonably possible – a very subjective thing, true, but so is the VRA.

Communities of Interest – Drawing congressional districts that put together like communities is an extremely important part of this proposal. Too often California’s politicians have gerrymandered together unlike communities for their own political ends (which is the reason California now has an independent redistricting commission). This proposal attempts to stop that.

Compactness – No more weirdly shaped, spaghetti-style congressional districts. Unfortunately, compactness and the VRA do not go together – drawing majority-minority districts often leads to less compact districts. Since the VRA is supreme by federal law, it takes precedence; here compactness is sacrificed several times to the VRA’s mandate. Nevertheless, compactness is still a priority.

County and Town Lines – Town lines are useful indicators of communities of interest, while county lines aid compactness. This proposal attempts its best to respect both.

Partisanship – Actually, this proposal does not consider the political leanings of a community; it was drawn entirely without political data. Speculation of how these districts would vote is entirely absent from this proposal.

Now, let’s begin with Northern California and Sacramento:

Northern California

Link to Picture of Northern California

CA-1 (Blue):

Population – 59.6% white, 1.5% black, 27.3% Hispanic, 7.0% Asian, 1.6% Native American, 3.1% other

This district ranges from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the marijuana groves of Mendocino County. It covers a lot of space, but almost all the people live in the medium-sized towns and cities along the coast and dotted throughout the rest of the district (interestingly, it’s a lot less white than I initially expected). Perhaps the biggest problem with this district is that it divides the city Napa in two, the consequence of decisions made elsewhere in the map.

It is possible to advocate for a coastal district stretching from upper Sonoma County to the top of the state. This proposal decided not to do that for the sake of compactness; nevertheless, such a district would be well worth considering.

CA-2 (Green)

Population – 78.0% white, 1.4% black, 11.8% Hispanic, 2.4% Asian, 2.9% Native American, 3.6% other

This enormous district covers the northern-most portion of California. Like CA-1, there’s a lot of land covered here – but most of it is just empty space. Most of the population actually lives along the coast and in Redding.

CA-4 (Red)

Population – 79.1% white, 1.0% black, 11.9% Hispanic, 4.2% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.0% other

This district is composed of two entities. First are the exurbs of Sacramento, located in Placer County and composing the about half of the district’s population. They are joined by the communities in the mountainous Sierra Nevada, too small by themselves to form a single district.


Sacramento County is populous enough to support about two districts.

Link to Picture of Sacramento

CA-3 (Purple)

Population – 57.3% white, 7.7% black, 16.3% Hispanic, 13.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 4.8% other

CA-3 previously constituted a very gerrymandered district connecting suburban Sacramento with a bunch of unrelated communities. Since suburban Sacramento’s population has grown so much, it shrinks rapidly to compose only the eastern and southern suburbs of Sacramento.

CA-5 (Gold)

Population – 38.6% white, 12.3% black, 26.8% Hispanic, 17.2% Asian, 0.6% Native American, 4.6% other

Majority-Minority District

A wonderful example of California’s amazing diversity, CA-5 takes in downtown Sacramento itself. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are almost equally distributed – with whites composing a plurality despite being just 38.6% of the population. Moreover, this area is one of the most racially integrated in the United States; the district does not lump together a bunch of 90% white, 90% black, 90% Hispanic, and 90% Asian communities in one (as too often happens elsewhere). Rather, each people of different races actually live in the same neighborhoods.

The next post will take a look at the Bay Area.



There's more...

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Los Angeles

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on Los Angeles.

There are several parts to Los Angeles: the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, downtown Los Angeles, and the Long Beach area.


Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley

The San Fernando Valley has enough population for two congressional districts, while the Hollywood area provides an additional district.

CA-27 (Spring Green):

Population – 45.0% white, 4.6% black, 34.3% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in the western half of the San Fernando Valley. It stretches an awkward arm eastwards, mainly to take in some very white areas. This boosts the Hispanic percentage of the next congressional district:

CA-28 (Plum):

Population – 22.9% white, 3.0% black, 64.4% Hispanic, 7.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.7% other

Over-18 Population – 26.5% white, 59.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

In one of the more shameful episodes of the 2000 gerrymander, the San Fernando Valley split the Hispanic population in two in order to re-elect the two white congressmen representing the region. This district bumps the Hispanic population to 64%, taking in the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley. Redistricting with more detailed data could further strengthen the Hispanic percentage.

CA-30 (Light Coral):

Population – 73.7% white, 3.0% black, 9.2% Hispanic, 10.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 3.8% other

CA-30 is the Hollywood district, taking in such landmarks as Santa Monica, University City, and Beverly Hills. Demographically, the district is extremely white and mostly wealthy (one of the whitest and wealthiest districts, in fact, in all Southern California). The Hispanic population doesn’t break double-digits, which is quite shocking when one looks at the rest of the districts in this post. Despite the association of Los Angeles with Hollywood, the district is actually quite unrepresentative in terms of the people who live there.


San Gabriel Valley

The San Gabriel Valley is home to three districts and parts of several others.

CA-29 (Dark Sea Green/Grayish, located at the top left corner of the map):

Population – 42.0% white, 4.8% black, 35.1% Hispanic, 15.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.9% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is essentially composed of relatively wealthy suburbs – Glendale and Pasadena – in the less built-up areas of Los Angeles. If Los Angeles can be compared to a giant toilet, than CA-29 would be the somewhat dirty but still relatively clean toilet seat.

CA-32 (Orange Red):

Population – 17.6% white, 2.0% black, 28.4% Hispanic, 50.0% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.9% other

Over-18 Population – 25.9% Hispanic, 51.3% Asian

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Asian

CA-32 is a district drawn to be the only Asian-majority district in Los Angeles. It does this by connecting the communities around Monterey Park to those around Diamond Valley, both of which have little in common with each other. The connecting region between the two areas is geographically large but actually has very little population.

CA-38 (Medium Aquamarine, located at the center right of the map):

Population – 19.0% white, 2.3% black, 63.0% Hispanic, 14.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.4% other

Over-18 Population – 22.1% white, 58.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

The eastern suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley, which tend to be more Hispanic, are grouped together in this district. This is an easy district to draw, as the communities of interest are both obvious and create a VRA district in a very compact manner.


Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles covers five congressional districts, four of which will be discussed here (the other will be discussed  in the Long Beach section). Another district is located along the west shore.

CA-31 (Khaki):

Population – 1.6% white, 9.5% black, 87.9% Hispanic, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.5% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district composes part of South-Central Los Angeles, which used to be primarily black but now has become mostly Hispanic. It is incredibly Hispanic, enough so as to make one uncomfortable; it is quite conceivable that somebody will accuse this of packing Hispanics. A discussion about this problem will be discussed further at the end of this post.

CA-33 (Royal Blue):

Population – 7.3% white, 6.7% black, 67.8% Hispanic, 16.8% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% other

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

Downtown Los Angeles is a good description of CA-33. Its one weakness is that it splits East Los Angeles with the previous district. This happens only because it was impossible to draw the district within the required population deviation without splitting the city, given the application’s gigantic 20,000 person population blocks. With more detailed data, East Los Angeles would certainly stay within one district.

CA-34 (Lime Green):

Population – 16.5% white, 2.3% black, 68.4% Hispanic, 11.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

CA-34 takes in poor, primarily Hispanic communities in downtown Los Angeles. Seeing a pattern here?

CA-35 (Dark Orchid/Purple):

Population – 5.2% white, 40.9% black, 45.6% Hispanic, 5.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.2% other

Over-18 Population – 43.2% black, 41.4% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

Don’t be fooled by the Hispanic plurality; this district is drawn to elect a black representative. It takes advantage of low Hispanic turn-out and high black turn-out to ensure that even a Hispanic-plurality district will probably elect a black representative.

Right now there are in fact three black congresswomen representing this area, an relic of the time when South-Central Los Angeles was far less Hispanic and far more black. Given that the black population has absolutely plummeted in the past twenty years, this situation is not sustainable. A black-plurality over-18 district would probably elect a black congressman for the next ten years, even as the black population continues to fall.

CA-36 (Orange):

Population – 47.6% white, 5.2% black, 26.8% Hispanic, 16.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.8% other

Majority-Minority District

The wealthier western coastline of Los Angeles is home to CA-36. This district divides the Rancho Palos Verdes area in two; it’s impossible to get within the correct population deviation without doing so. This would not happen with more detailed data. More concerning is the fact that it takes in several poor downtown cities that have little in common with the wealthy coastline communities; this happens because those areas are too Hispanic to be incorporated into the previous district and thus have no place to go but here.


Long Beach

There are two congressional districts located in Long Beach.

CA-39 (Moccasin):

Population – 13.1% white, 14.5% black, 57.7% Hispanic, 12.5% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.0% other

Over-18 Population – 15.9% white, 15.2% black, 52.9% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district covers several more poor, primarily Hispanic communities north of Long Beach.

CA-37 (Dodger Blue):

Population – 46.1% white, 6.5% black, 31.4% Hispanic, 12.6% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

While this district looks compact, it does relatively poorly in communities of interest. Long Beach is a primarily Hispanic, industrial, and relatively poor community. On the other hand, Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach are primarily white, suburban, and wealthy communities. The trouble is that Long Beach is a large city, but doesn’t have enough population to support its own district. Unfortunately, given the design of this map, there is nowhere else for Long Beach to find more population than Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach.


Final Thoughts

There were three decisions which formed the basis of the Los Angeles area – the decision to make a majority-Asian district, the decision to make a black-controlled district, and the decision that no district would cross-over the mountains from the Los Angeles metropolis into the Antelope Valley.

These three rational decisions, however, are ultimately responsible for the weaknesses that do occur in the map. The reason Long Beach has to be combined with unlike communities is due to this, for instance.

More troubling is the way in which CA-31 packs Hispanics. CA-31 is located in one of the most Hispanic parts of the entire country, and any district in this area will have a very high Hispanic percentage. Still, the 88% number is quite high. The problem is that there is nowhere for the district to go. The areas to its north, south and east are just as Hispanic, so moving there won’t fix the problem. West of CA-31 is the black-controlled CA-35. However, taking in some less Hispanic territory there would end up destroying the only district designed to elect a black representative in all of California. The only other options would be to run thing, long strips from downtown Los Angeles to the Asian areas of the San Gabriel Valley (destroying a district designed to elect an Asian representative), or alternatively the white areas of Glendale and Pasadena (horrendous in terms of compactness and communities of interest). Once again one runs into the constant trade-offs present with redistricting.

The next post will take a look at Orange County, part of the overall Southern California area:




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