Department of Injustice: diluting a citizen’s vote

November 9, 2011

"...but some animals are more equal than others"

Found this post by Christian Adams over at the Election Law Center: the Department of Justice wants illegal and legal non-citizens counted as part of redistricting:

In the City of Irving case, the Department of Justice has asked for permission to make oral arguments that illegal aliens and noncitizens should be counted for state and local redistricting purposes.  As reported earlier at ELC, this position has the effect of diluting the legislative power of American citizens and shifting power to noncitizens and illegal aliens.  In areas with high citizenship, 100,000 citizens (for example) would have one legislator.  In contrast, areas with high illegal alien populations (say 20,000 illegal aliens, 10,000 green card holders and 70,000 citizens) would also get a single legislator.

ELC’s earlier discussion of vote-dilution is here. In essence, since districts must be of equal size in terms of population, that means a district with 100,000 people who are all citizens will receive less representation than a district of 100,000 people, only 70,000 of whom are legal citizens and 30,000 are illegal aliens or legal (non-citizen) residents. Apparently the courts require counting all people for House races, but haven’t spoken about state and local races.

This is clearly an attempt by DoJ to extend its power over states’ and localities’ ability to draw their own electoral districts. This is already done in some parts of the country under the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, but those laws are meant to protect the rights of citizens to a fair vote. Justice’s argument in Texas is an effort to dilute citizen’s votes.

Like Operation Fast and Furious, it is a perverse inversion of what the Department of Justice is supposed to be doing.

On reflection, DoJ’s push to count non-citizens seems to be an effort to create more “minority-majority” districts, many of which would likely turn into safe seats for the Democratic Party, which is nearly moribund at the state level in Texas.  The DoJ is using a racial spoils system to favor one party by diluting the votes of some citizens.

And that stinks.

RELATED: I recently reviewed Adams’ new book, “Injustice: exposing the racial agenda of the Obama Justice Department”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: the legislators’ whines are like music to my ears

June 9, 2011

Fixing the many things broken about the state of California will be a long, hard struggle, often a battle over inches than a vast breakthrough to victory. But those little gains can be meaningful, making subtle changes that have substantial effects, long-term.

One such was the passage by the voters of Proposition 11 in 2008, which took away the legislature’s power to draw its own district boundaries and gave it to a non-partisan citizen’s commission. This reform was extended in 2010 by the passage of Proposition 20, which took away the power to draw congressional districts from the legislature and gave it to that same commission. And we defended those reforms that same year by defeating Proposition 27, a blatant, cynical attempt by  Democratic oligarchs in Sacramento and Washington to trick the people into giving those powers back.

The commission is scheduled to release a draft map for congressional districts tomorrow; from the howls of pain and outrage coming from entrenched progressive legislators oligarchs, the commissioners did their job well:

Pols who have become fixtures in the state and on Capitol Hill and who have skated to reelection are preparing to face a political Armageddon. Decades-old seats will vanish. Some members will retire. Others will be forced to run against fellow incumbents from the same party.

“To say every politician in California is holding their breath would be an understatement,” said Jim Ross, a Bay Area-based Democratic consultant, who pointed out that a rough blueprint the commission released last week “sent some people into a fit.”

This day of reckoning has long been on the horizon. The independent citizen-led commission, initially proposed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and approved by voters in a referendum last year, has been meeting for the past two months with an eye toward demolishing each of the state’s 53 incumbent-coddling districts.

“I can almost guarantee you no one will be happy with the maps that will be drawn,” said former Democratic state Sen. Don Perata, who chaired the panel that oversaw redistricting a decade ago and who has been consulting with a handful of Democrats in the state delegation. “There’s a lot of concern.”

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, an outspoken Marin County liberal who in the preliminary plan loses much of her Sonoma County base, released a scorching statement hammering the commission for performing “invasive surgery” on her seat. A Facebook group called “Uniquely North Bay — Save the Sixth” has already popped up, backing Woolsey in her crusade against the proposal.

The apprehension extends into the southern portion of the state, where Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez approached California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton at a dinner party last week and complained about the preliminary blueprint, which pushed her into a GOP-leaning district with veteran Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

“It didn’t seem to make sense to me,” Burton, a longtime party boss, said of the draft. “Some of the districts seem kind of bizarre.”

You have to have been a resident of California for a while to catch the black humor in that quote. John Burton, who had been a powerful state senator at the last redistricting, and Perata both played a major role in drawing the current boundaries. For them to feign concern over “bizarre boundaries” is to make a crocodile’s tears seem sincere by comparison. These are the same two who had a hand in creating the gerrymandered farce that is congressional district 23, just one of many examples. And they’re worried about odd-shaped districts?

And you can bet I smiled when I read of Loretta Sanchez’s fears. Readers of this blog know of my contempt for her: she is a race-baiter, a bigot, and a woman willing to kick a Democratic colleagues not just when she’s down, but when she’s in the hospital recovering from being shot in the head. Watching her face off against a powerful Republican congressman like Rohrabacher will be a pleasure.

To come back to why this is a good and important reform for California, however, one has to understand the “safe seat deal” that was struck during the 2000 reapportionment: the Democratic and Republican leadership at the time agreed to a permanent “majority/minority” arrangement that practically guaranteed both unbeatable incumbents and a Democratic majority at the state and federal levels. This was done by drawing boundaries in such a way as to create districts with strong majorities for one party or the other. It also meant that the state legislators and congresscritters could afford to be less responsive to their voters, particularly those not of their party, because they were almost guaranteed reelection.

I believe you can see the problem with that.

What these reforms promise to do (and apparently do, given the squawking) is to end that corrupt deal and make almost all congressional seats more competitive, forcing candidates to pay attention to their voters — as it should be.  And I trust the same thing will be happening to the state legislature, too.

And it’s a bipartisan Good Thing; the Politico article notes Republican concerns, too, to which I say “good!” The Republicans made themselves junior partners in this corrupt bargain back in 2000, something they should never have done. Let them compete for seats, too; our ideas are the good ones, and I’ll bet we gain seats.

Meanwhile, I’m going to sit back and savor the tantrums going on in Sacramento and Washington.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gerrymandering: the legal way to rig an election

October 31, 2010

Why bother stuffing ballot boxes and getting felons to vote when you can just draw the district boundaries to ensure your guy or gal wins? Via Reason.TV, here’s an interview with Bill Mundell on the dangers of gerrymandering:

It may not be the sexiest political issue of our time, but it is of fundamental importance to the health of our democracy. Allowing legislators to draw their own districts creates a tremendous conflict of interest between creating districts that accurately represent a community of interests and thus fairly represent the people of an area, and the self-serving needs of politicians.

This is a particular problem in California, where “safe seat” (or “incumbency gerrymandering,” as Mundell calls it) boundaries almost guarantee the reelection of a state or federal legislator. The problem is so bad that almost every member of California’s congressional delegation gets reelected in election after election, even though Congress has a miserable approval rating. And the situation with our state legislature isn’t much different.

We took a big step to fix the problem in 2008 by passing Proposition 11, which took the power to draw legislative districts away from the legislators and gave it to a citizen’s commission. This year, we aim to finish the job by passing Proposition 20, which would do the same thing for congressional districts. But, you guessed it, the oligarchy has struck back, getting Proposition 27 on the ballot. If passed, this measure will eliminate the citizen’s commission created by Proposition 11. It is nothing less than a swinish attempt by the legislature and their allies in the House to seize power from the people and preserve their hand-drawn fiefdoms.

And you wonder why I call California’s legislature “arrogant.”

For the sake of genuine representative democracy in California, it is essential that Proposition 20 pass and Proposition 27 fail.

Put an end to gerrymandering. Break the oligarchy.

UPDATE: J.E. Dyer at Hot Air’s Green Room has an excellent post on seven votes that may determine California’s future.

UPDATE 2: Also take a look at an article in the LA Weekly about Props 20 and 27 and why you should give a rip. It includes a map of my entry into the California Hall of Shame for Shameless Gerrymandering, CD 23, which is 200 miles long and, at one point, only 100 yards wide.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California’s arrogant legislature

July 11, 2010

I’ve often said in recent years that California isn’t a democracy; it’s instead an oligarchy ruled by a corrupt and distant elite in the legislature who only appear before the people when they need our votes for reelection, but otherwise ignore us and treat us as bothersome children at best.

Next November’s election will see a glaring example of that oligarchy at its arrogant best. On the list of ballot propositions sits number 27, which will eliminate the citizen’s commission created to draw legislative district boundaries and give the power to the legislature.

What’s wrong with that, you ask?

Proposition 27 is a ballot initiative that effectively repeals Proposition 11, which the voters passed in 2008 for the express purpose taking the redistricting power away from the legislature. California has long had a problem with “safe seats,” assembly and state senate seats in which the incumbent is almost guaranteed reelection because the district has been gerrymandered to give the legislator a majority of favorable voters. The result was a group of lawmakers who really had no need to listen to the voters and could rule almost as they wished – in other words, as an oligarchy.

Allowing legislators to draw their own districts is like letting corporations create territories in which they agree not to compete with each other: for customers and voters, the lack of genuine competition and choice can only work to their detriment. Proposition 11 was meant to break this corrupt arrangement, and the citizen’s commission being formed now will get its first chance to draw genuinely competitive districts next year.

Yes, that’s right. The oligarchs behind this measure are trying to gut the commission before its been tried even once. So desperate are they to protect their incumbencies (and six-figure salaries, plus hefty perks) that they are going to try to slip this sham through, hoping the public isn’t paying attention. That’s how little they think of us, even as they claim it’s for the good of the state.

And this measure is not only intended to take back for the legislature the power to draw its own districts, but also gut the intent of Proposition 20, a follow-on measure to add the drawing of congressional districts to the duties of the citizen’s commission. Democrats in the California congressional delegation fought earlier combined redistricting reform attempts tooth and nail. But now that Prop 20 looks like it has a good chance to succeed, Pelosi, Berman, and others have joined with their Sacramento colleagues to protect their own safe seats with Proposition 27 serving as a Trojan Horse.

Make no mistake: the arguments in favor of Proposition 27 are bunk. It isn’t about democracy, saving the state money, or making those who draw the districts “accountable to the voters.” (PDF. That last is one of their sick jokes, I’d guess.) It is nothing more than an attempt by the oligarchy to thwart the will of the people and  preserve their legislative fiefdoms. Don’t let them fool you. Vote no on Proposition 27 and yes on Proposition 20.

And tell the oligarchs to go to Hell.

(via FlashReport)