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1  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Why is the left opposed to school choice? on: Today at 05:15:33 pm
All schools should be the same. If we're in a situation where choice matters, we're doing something wrong.

How would you propose doing that? Geography and demographics are both extremely diverse. I'm not sure one could devise a one size fits all school outside of having every student access the same virtual classroom. Should physical schools all close? Even then the backgrounds of the students would be sufficiently diverse to prevent students from equally benefiting from identical virtual classrooms.
2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: [attention whoring] Antonio V, M.A. on: Today at 06:42:43 am
If it's digital why does it take three months?
3  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: Possible Ginsburg replacements if she retires? on: July 03, 2015, 07:33:36 pm
An interesting question is whether a retirement announcement at the end of next year's term could be use to get out the vote for a replacement of similar political stripe.
4  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: My Take on SCOTUS Ruling on: July 03, 2015, 07:30:54 pm
I don't find judicial activism when SCOTUS takes a precedent setting case to its logical conclusion. There's no question that CU opened the door to more money in elections, but that decision in and of itself doesn't constitute activism. The activism was in the original precedent (Buckley) to the extent that it equated promoting a particular candidate for election with promoting a political idea.

I'm not someone that likes to throw around the "judicial activism" label, as I think both sides can claim that in many cases depending on their particular perspective. I think what makes Citizens United particularly notably is that SCOTUS decided on its own to move the case from a simple statutory issue to a constitutional one that has had profound ramifications.

The Buckley ruling on self-expenditures by wealthy individuals was certainly a constitutional and not a statutory ruling. Since CU flowed from Buckley, how does one interpret it as a statutory to constitutional shift?
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: City of Hudson's weighed voting system under scrutiny on: July 03, 2015, 09:34:50 am
It is interesting to see all the growth they anticipated from the infill and development of North Bay.
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Walker's "anti-gay transition" on: July 03, 2015, 08:30:11 am
The last two Iowa caucuses were won by severely underfunded, Christian conservative underdogs.  Walker needs to compete for those voters.

But those IA caucuses haven't done so well the last two cycles at predicting the eventual GOP nominee. It only seems to serve to identify who will be the last challenger to the nominee (Huckabee, Santorum). I wouldn't have thought that Walker wants to be stuck in that role.
7  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Your favorite of the following Plains States on: July 03, 2015, 06:28:22 am
North Dakota. I've actually been thinking of checking it out for some time.

I'll be traveling through ND in a few weeks. I'll give you a report.

Make sure muon2, if it's on your route, to visit Theodor Roosevelt National Park.  Gorgeous and geologically interesting.  Not far from my hometown of Dickinson too, which is now much more populous than most of the time I was growing up there.  Enjoy your travels.

I wish I could add TRNP, but I expect it will have to wait. We have a drive from Grand Forks to Williston by way of the International Peace Garden and a midnight pick up at the Williston airport. The next day we have a long drive across northern MT to get to Cardston AB as the starting point for a day through Glacier NP. Our return drive is through SD.

North Dakota. I've actually been thinking of checking it out for some time.

I'll be traveling through ND in a few weeks. I'll give you a report.


Alright! Let me know how it compares to other states you've been too.


As in 2008 and 2011 I'll set up a travelogue thread in FC. Watch for it in late July.
8  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Your favorite of the following Plains States on: July 02, 2015, 08:01:49 pm
Texas. I lived there for a decade, my brother was born there, my favorite professional sports team (FC Dallas) is from there, and what do you know, so's probably my biggest political influence, Ron Paul.

Awesome state. It's big and mega-diverse, too. Almost like a few different states on its own.

Always wanted to go to South Dakota and see Mt. Rushmore, though.

I've been there  few times and it's worth the trip. If you get there and have a few hours to spare, head east to Badlands National Park. The landscape is awe inspiring. Wind Cave and Jewel Cave in the Black Hills are worth visits, too.
9  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Wyoming Rule Redistricting on: July 02, 2015, 07:00:29 am
Oklahoma with 7 Districts:





This map really shows the demise of the democratic party in Oklahoma. Two of the three most densely populated districts (CD 1,6,7) are over 60% McCain. The OKC sink (CD 7), the most democratic district in the state, is still 56% McCain. The other four districts offer no consolation, as they are at least 67% Republican. The democrats might throw some money at CD 7, but it'd take a wave bigger than a democratic 2010/14 to actually flip.

Why such erose shapes, especially for CD 5?
10  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: My Take on SCOTUS Ruling on: July 01, 2015, 03:22:02 pm
I don't find judicial activism when SCOTUS takes a precedent setting case to its logical conclusion. There's no question that CU opened the door to more money in elections, but that decision in and of itself doesn't constitute activism. The activism was in the original precedent (Buckley) to the extent that it equated promoting a particular candidate for election with promoting a political idea.
11  General Discussion / Constitution and Law / Re: My Take on SCOTUS Ruling on: July 01, 2015, 08:09:31 am
Antonio, if you are looking for the constitutional comparison, Citizens United is not a good choice. I think that CU followed fairly logically from Buckley v Valeo (1976), and that should be the focal point of concern for those concerned about campaign spending. In Buckley SCOTUS held that individual expenditures could not be limited since money was required to exercise free speech. Buckley also identified the importance of political association as well as political expression. If political association is as important then a group of smaller donors should be able to band together to compete against a wealthy individual. CU just identifies that associations acting through a corporation are such an entity. The concern should be whether the Buckley holding that essentially money equals free speech is appropriate.
12  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: My thoughts on AZ commission SCOTUS case on: June 30, 2015, 10:12:15 pm
I read the opinion and dissent and there were two points in the opinion that I thought were interesting observations. They note that the AZ constitution had the initiative in its original document when AZ was admitted as a state in 1912, and that the initiative was clearly identified as coequal as a means of enacting laws. Congress accepted AZ, so it seems that Congress was recognizing the initiative as part of the legislature. Roberts rebuttal of the AZ constitutional language didn't convince me in light of the unique historical circumstance of their constitution.

The other interesting part was the debate over the language in 2USC2a(c). The opinion points out that it was specifically changed by Congress in 1911 to reflect the growing use of initiative and referendum by states, and Congress allowed for their use by changing legislature to law. That would be Congress exercising its authority over the states. Roberts' strongest statement against that was that it was Congress adopting a state law not overriding it and that it can't replace one actor with another. He doesn't convince me that Congress can't say that plans derived from initiative procedures used in redistricting are valid redistricting plans. I think that Congress could pass a law establishing a national redistricting commission unless states have their own. This doesn't seem beyond the reach of that. I don't read the use of until the same way Roberts does, so I would find that the change to law from legislature is relevant.

Interesting points, but the ruling was not limited was it to the concept that Congress exercised its authority to authorize Commissions, and did it twice with respect to AZ as it were per your first point), but rather through a questionable interpretation of the term "legislature" (because of the compelling public policy issue in play)? What you are saying above would not have required a redefinition of the term "legislature" would it?

I think the best decision would have supported a fairly narrow ruling that perhaps only applied to AZ and avoided the messy question about the schizoid nature of legislature in SCOTUS' Constitution.
13  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: My thoughts on AZ commission SCOTUS case on: June 30, 2015, 10:08:54 pm
OH already has a redistricting reform amendment scheduled for the ballot on Nov 3, 2015. It proposes a bipartisan (but not independent) commission that will be limited to legislative districts.
Ohio has had a legislative redistricting commission for over 150 years.

Yes I should have been clearer that the proposed amendment expanded the existing commission and change voting requirement on it to force support from both major parties.
14  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Your favorite of the following Plains States on: June 30, 2015, 07:10:46 am
North Dakota. I've actually been thinking of checking it out for some time.

I'll be traveling through ND in a few weeks. I'll give you a report.
15  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Favorite University Series: Eastern Massachusetts on: June 30, 2015, 04:35:59 am
Brandeis, considering I'm going there. Go Judges!

Congrats from an alumni. What year are you in?
16  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: My thoughts on AZ commission SCOTUS case on: June 29, 2015, 09:37:41 pm
I read the opinion and dissent and there were two points in the opinion that I thought were interesting observations. They note that the AZ constitution had the initiative in its original document when AZ was admitted as a state in 1912, and that the initiative was clearly identified as coequal as a means of enacting laws. Congress accepted AZ, so it seems that Congress was recognizing the initiative as part of the legislature. Roberts rebuttal of the AZ constitutional language didn't convince me in light of the unique historical circumstance of their constitution.

The other interesting part was the debate over the language in 2USC2a(c). The opinion points out that it was specifically changed by Congress in 1911 to reflect the growing use of initiative and referendum by states, and Congress allowed for their use by changing legislature to law. That would be Congress exercising its authority over the states. Roberts' strongest statement against that was that it was Congress adopting a state law not overriding it and that it can't replace one actor with another. He doesn't convince me that Congress can't say that plans derived from initiative procedures used in redistricting are valid redistricting plans. I think that Congress could pass a law establishing a national redistricting commission unless states have their own. This doesn't seem beyond the reach of that. I don't read the use of until the same way Roberts does, so I would find that the change to law from legislature is relevant.
17  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: My thoughts on AZ commission SCOTUS case on: June 29, 2015, 09:07:57 pm
OH already has a redistricting reform amendment scheduled for the ballot on Nov 3, 2015. It proposes a bipartisan (but not independent) commission that will be limited to legislative districts.

There is a bipartisan petition drive to place an independent commission amendment on the 2016 ballot in IL. It would only affect the legislature due to the constitutional restrictions on citizen initiatives.
18  General Politics / Economics / Re: Greece to Leave the Euro Zone on: June 29, 2015, 06:07:34 am
Why does leaving the Eurozone have any connection with Greece in the EU? There are plenty of other EU nations not on the Euro.
19  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update for Everyone III - The Whinge Binge on: June 28, 2015, 10:42:28 pm
I won second place in Sister Cities International's worldwide essay contest. Now I apparently have to read my essay to the Boynton Beach City Council. I'm trying to get out of that part.

Lol. Good luck!
I already emailed the lady and told her that I might be out of town. That should give me an enough time to find a way to attend the meeting without having to read it.

Oh you should read it. At these type of council events the expectations are low, so you can only do well. BTW my wife is the head of our local Sister Cities group and is currently in Germany at our Sister City. I'm home alone with the cat.
20  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Your favorite of the following Plains States on: June 28, 2015, 10:05:57 pm
My brother was born in NE so they get my vote.
21  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: How soon will Houston pass Chicago? on: June 28, 2015, 06:38:13 pm
The Second City theater started in Chicago and opened a branch in LA a while back. Perhaps if they open one in Houston it can use the second city moniker, too.
22  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: June 28, 2015, 04:03:12 pm
"That's why I only described the BVAP as being in the low 40s, upper 40s or over 50%."

Where did you do that above? I can't find it in a senior moment. The upper 40's is the most interesting for VRA purposes, where I am not sure it is entirely clear whether such a district must be drawn (assuming it's enough to elect a candidate of the minority's choice).  We know that's a floor where a higher percentage BVAP CD can be drawn, but I am not sure that we know any more than that.

I wasn't able to get one in the upper 40's for 2020. My whole county plan is described in the text as just over 40%, and I described the plan with the Birmingham connection as over 50%.

The MCC minus Barbour on the extreme east has a 2010 population of 473K and a 2010 BVAP of 55.7%. The quota for a CD was 683K so an extra 210K was needed from other counties. For example jimrtex which took the MCC, completed the Montgomery UCC then added Monroe, Pickens, and Pike to the to within 1K of the quota and have a 46.4% BVAP.

My projection for those MCC counties in 2020 is 439K, a loss of 34K. The target quota for a 7 CD plan is 708K which is an increase of 25K. The net is that instead of adding 210K more, in 2020 the MCC has to add 269K more. If whole counties are used that will pull that number down from its 2010 level. Using Tuscaloosa as a whole county and chopping the Montgomery UCC might bring it close to 45%. Even then the 2008 Pres result on DRA was only D+1.
23  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: June 28, 2015, 10:53:32 am
As you know and I think concur CoI tends to be the squishiest of metrics for redistricting. However, it's clear to me that the public likes the concept. To the extent that I could quantify other groups that share a CoI, span counties, and are likely to have sufficient population to influence elections, I would do so. I've never thought that urban areas have a unique claim in that regard.

Projecting a BVAP percentage is quite a bit more difficult than projecting the population of a county. The Census doesn't estimate it and I have to use rolling 3-year or 5-year averages from the ACS to make a projection. That's why I only described the BVAP as being in the low 40s, upper 40s or over 50%. A more precise number awaits some more vacation time. Perhaps later this summer.
24  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: June 28, 2015, 10:13:49 am
The UCC rules exist to identify a community of interest that spans counties and is large enough to influence elections. By invoking UCCs one can get plans that avoid the dilution of that CoI's power, and for large UCCs avoid giving them excessive power. I contend that a minority of sufficient concentration spread over a number of counties represents an equivalent CoI, and a case should be made that redistricting should avoid dilution of their voting power as well. Personally I think using an equivalent approach helps make the case under the VRA that race is not a predominant factor, but one of a number of equivalent factors including county chops, UCCs and erosity. Of course one must avoid packing a minority under the VRA and that in my mind is a separate determination viewed when looking at the totality of a plan.

In the case of a 2020 CD plan in AL the issue will not be one of packing. If the current polarized voting persists I think that a neutrally-drawn CD (ie with the kind of rules we use) can't be drawn in a way that it is likely to elect the candidate of choice of the black minority. The CDs will just be too large, especially if the number drops to 6. With 6 CDs it isn't hard to draw a whole county plan where all 6 CDs vote Pub, and what if the AL legislature does that?. This may well test your assertion that the VRA doesn't require the bridge to Birmingham.
25  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 county population estimates out tomorrow, March 26 on: June 28, 2015, 08:35:08 am
Two years ago in the thread fleshing out the definition of UCCs we spent a lot of time looking at AL. We generally agreed that the Black Belt was a CoI that should not be unduly chopped, yet we also wanted to see what areas might be regarded as contiguous and reveal any gaps. The notion that one should not be forced to bridge across Tuscaloosa if other alternatives were available was important to you. You agreed the 40% BVAP threshold was a good one to distinguish which counties should be clustered. That gave rise to the AL MCC. For these rural counties and directly adjacent urban counties like Montgomery I don't think the packing problem would come into play. When I did MS the other day I replicated the process used two years ago.

In the first map I only claimed to preserve the UCC cover, not the pack. Since the other districts only hewed to a 2% variation and I could keep whole counties I did so for Birmingham as well, since a UCC pack violation counts the same as a county chop and I don't have reasonable county subdivisions for Jefferson or Shelby.

I would also note that in the first map I could chop the Montgomery UCC and add Tuscaloosa to up the BVAP%. With the declining rural population it won't be as effective in 2020 as it was in 2010 to make a high-40's BVAP CD with whole counties. So for purposes of illustration I left it as a low 40's CD keeping the UCC intact.


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