bolson: (Default)
New tactic on political idiocy: When they say something so blitheringly stupid that it's not worth denying it and correcting them, don't! Respond with a non-sequitor statement about some interesting policy.

Example non-segue I might use:
So, who wants a carbon tax?
I like rankings and ratings ballots.
Non-gerrymandered redistricting, anyone?
Should we be subsidizing clean renewable energy or taxing legacy energy?
In a certain light, even monetary policy could be interesting.

The more I think about this, the more I think it could work. In a debate, who are we? He's not the guy setting the agenda and I'm following, he's the guy spouting nonsense and I'm too cool for that and talking about something interesting instead.
bolson: (Default)
Some Democrats cheer when they see the Republicans getting crazier, because they think it'll help them win. I don't. I'd really like to see the whole country, perhaps especially those crazy Republicans, get more reasonable.
bolson: (Default)
An NPR story just now noted that retailers are charged $0.44 per debit card transaction. I found one source where credit card transactions run $0.30 + 2-3%. 2-3% looks like a pretty big additional tax when compared to common sales taxes of 5-10%. There was talk of a bill in congress to limit debit card fees to $.12 per transaction. That sounds like it would be a big win for consumers and retailers - a bit of a loss for bankers but dammit they should be able to operate efficiently and still make a big fat load of money being middleman to an increasing flood of zillions of little transactions.
bolson: (Default)
Can we subject our candidates for public office to a test of Gom Jabbar as part of the ballot access requirement?
Is this more or less onerous than Heinlein's proposed requirement (in Starship Troopers) that only military veterans can vote or be elected?
bolson: (Default)
And now I'm thinking about designing a sign to carry. In the sense that the whole system is mad and needs fixing, I could vie for either of my favorite system reforms: impartial redistricting and rankings ballot voting.

Should I:
A) Make a sign with one side each
B) all voting
C) all redistricting
D) not make a sign, signs are dumb
bolson: (Default)
I saw a 9-11-01 sticker on a truck today and got into my usual groove of think that the owner of the truck probably doesn't have much in common with me politically. Then my mind wandered to the term "Ground Zero" which has been back in the news a lot lately. I've always been irked by this term because I'm more likely to think of the three places which really defined the term: Trinity Site, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think an act of war that destroys a city and kills a hundred thousand people pretty thoroughly overshadows a (tragically effective) terrorist bombing of a couple buildings. I think calling the world trade center collapse site 'ground zero' is diluting the memory of the first three atomic bomb explosions. (7-16-45) 8-6-45 8-9-45 Never Forget
bolson: (Default)
A few weeks ago I got to wondering:
How many times has the US Senate had more Senators go one way and more population represented want the other way?

As is my habit of sometimes writing scripts to process the congressional voting record, I knew I could do this and last weekend got around to doing it. Here are the results on Senate population inversions. In short, it's not uncommon, some years are very bad, some years are pretty quiet.
bolson: (Default)
I heard this snippet from Rand Paul's acceptance speech on NPR this morning: "The mandate of our victory tonight is huge." (AP)

Huh, how huge is it?

population of Kentucky: 4,314,113
votes for Rand Paul: 206,812 (4.79%)
votes for top two Democratic candidates: 228,531 and 224,989 (5.30% and 5.22%)
Kentucky 2010 Primary Results

So, 4.79% of the population is a mandate, even when it's fewer votes than two other candidates got.
bolson: (Default)
Law makers need more software engineer friends. We know some things about designing large systems of complex rules for sanity and future maintainability. I read two pieces of law yesterday (redistricting related, one passed, one on the ballot in Nov) that fail miserably in some obvious-to-me ways.
bolson: (Default)
Shaws workers on strike
I hardly buy groceries, but I'll be going to Havest Coop a little extra for now.
The article is light on details, but it sounds like the dispute is at least partially over health care. One more thing that they would worry about less and be less of a sticking point in these things if we had good health care reform.
bolson: (Default)
I don't like Instant Runoff Voting, but I'm a little sad that Burlington VT repealed IRV election of their mayor. Sure, their second IRV run election was a flop, where three different counting methods could find three different winners, demonstrating that all of the anti-IRV FUD, dismissed as vaguely possible mathematical oddities, could actually happen in the real world. Still, I'm a little sad.

I want to see 'election reform', even if it's IRV, go forward and spread. I'll yell and scream at every stage I can that if we're going to do it we should do it right and use something better than IRV, but if that's the compromise I get I'll take it. And I'm afraid that because Burlington had a bad experience with 'election reform' (really all IRV's fault, IMFO), all such efforts will be tarnished. Every establishment politician who wants to raise Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt will be able to point at Burlington and make spooky noises about what terrible things could happen.

I've been focusing on redistricting lately, because programming that has been the more interesting puzzle and because the 2010 Census is making it timely, but I still think that getting people voting on rankings and ratings ballots could be the biggest thing to happen to Democracy since the US Constitution. Making that change may have just gotten a little harder because some people did it badly. (Which does not bode well for the current pretty-bad-compromise Health Care bill. :-/ )
bolson: (Default)
This still applies after 200+ years. It must be one of those constants of humanity.

"Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free."

-- Publius (Alexander Hamilton), Federalist #8, 1787-11-20


I'm sure this and other things like it have been mentioned often over the last eight years or so, but I just encountered it anew while reading The Federalist Papers and thought it bore repeating.
bolson: (Default)

Maybe you've seen this other places by now, but here it is again, the short version, with my own special formatting.

Almost half of our governmental power is elected by people who disturbingly often hold idiotic views that should be obviously bad and wrong. How can we form a civilized society and govern ourselves under these conditions?

In January, 2010 about two thousand self identified Republicans answered thusly:

Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?Yes: 39%Not sure: 29%No: 32%
Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?No: 36%Not sure: 22%Yes: 42%
Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?Yes: 63%Not sure: 16%No: 21%
Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?Yes: 24%Not sure: 33%No: 43%
Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?Yes: 21%Not sure: 55%No: 24%
Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?Yes: 53%Not sure: 33%No: 14%
Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?Yes: 31%Not sure: 33%No: 36%
Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?Yes: 23%Not sure: 19%No: 58%
Should Congress make it easier for workers to form and join labor unions?No: 68%Not sure: 25%Yes: 7%
Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and learn English?Oppose: 59%Not sure: 15%Favor: 26%
Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?No: 55%Not sure: 19%Yes: 26%
Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?No: 77%Not sure: 16%Yes: 7%
Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?No: 68%Not sure: 21%Yes: 11%
Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?No: 73%Not sure: 19%Yes: 8%
Should sex education be taught in the public schools?No: 51%Not sure: 7%Yes: 42%
Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?Yes: 77%Not sure: 8%No: 15%
Are marriages equal partnerships, or are men the leaders of their households?Men: 13%Not sure: 11%Equal: 76%
Should contraceptive use be outlawed?Yes: 31%Not sure: 13%No: 56%
Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?Yes: 34%Not sure: 18%No: 48%
Do you consider abortion to be murder?Yes: 76%Not sure: 16%No: 8%
Do you support the death penalty?Yes: 91%Not sure: 5%No: 4%
Should women work outside the home?No: 4%Not sure: 10%Yes: 86%
Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?Christ: 67%Not sure: 18%Other: 15%

I'll admit that there is some room for debate in some of these topics, particularly I support a pretty wide leeway in marriage dynamics, but most of these issues really just make Republicans look stupid.

If you are my friend and identify as Republican, please, either fix your party or leave it. Isn't this embarrassing?

DailyKos/Research 2000 poll, Jan 2010

bolson: (Default)
My paid lj account has lapsed, and so I shan't make a poll, but I was tempted to renew to make one:

Bigger speech today:
POTUS
Apple
bolson: (Default)
I heard on the news that Conan O'Brien got a buyout that means he can't do a new show for some months and can't use some of his old bits anymore. I have a great second career idea for him. He should move to Massachusetts, start a radio talk show, and then run for Scott Brown's senate seat in 2012.
bolson: (Default)
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a Democrat runs a lackluster campaign and loses to a wrongheaded smiling idiot republican. Kerry. Coakley. Whatever.

In other news, senate republicans think that 41 is greater than 59.
bolson: (links)
another helpful reminder. don't wimp out due to weather. just showing up is 90+% of the work. http://WhereDoIVoteMA.com/
bolson: (Default)
Health Care Town Hall with Sen. John Kerry
Somerville High School Auditorium
81 Highland Avenue
Somerville, MA 02143
Today, Wednesday, September 2nd
Arrival Time: 6:30 p.m.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m.

Maybe there will be some crazy people there to have shouting matches with.
Bonus points for bringing a sign. You don't have to wait in line for a microphone to hold up a sign.
(I'm not sure if I'll be there, might be working late.)
bolson: (Default)
From this morning's Democracy Now:
"... people who are incarcerated in Upstate communities are actually counted as residents of those districts, not as residents of the districts in New York City, where the majority of our state’s prisoners come from."
"... can’t vote, but count as residents ..."

So, a positive feedback cycle: powerful state legislators get prison projects built in their districts, get more people for the count but have a relatively smaller voter base. Small voter base likes the money coming in to the district, likes the power they have, re-elects their legislator.
I wonder how pronounced the situation is. I should check the Census data to see if there is an "in prison" column to the data along with all the other attributes.

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