Nov 27, 2006

Veteran journalist hits the nail on the head on harmful effects of Gerrymandering and Republican spin

Veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry has a unique way of cutting right through the BS and getting straight to the point. For a good example, last summer he called out Chris Ward on his so-called election reform bill, saying it was “the moral equivalent of Monica Lewinsky opening a charter school of chastity. If Chris were in another occupation, he might have a mattress strapped to his back.”
Lessenberry has worked as a foreign correspondent and executive national editor of The Detroit News, reporting from more than 40 countries. His writing has appeared in such national publications as Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe. He is also a professor of journalism at Wayne State University, and his freelance columns appear in The Metro Times, The Traverse-City Record Eagle and The Toledo (Ohio) Blade.
He hit another one out of the park today on his blog and radio show on NPR when he addressed gerrymandering and redistricting.

Here’s what the Republican spin on this is. They are saying that this was really a national election. They claim the vote in Michigan was really a vote against the way the war has been going, and also a reaction to corruption in the Republican Congress.
So were the Democratic victories in Michigan an accident?
Not at all. Instead, the media has been hornswoggled into believing Republican propaganda. This was in fact a moderate to liberal landslide. The truth is that the only reason Republicans control anything at all is due to the “accident” of outrageous gerrymandering.
Let’s look at the record. Democrats got a huge majority -- 54.4 percent -- of all the votes cast for state senate. But Republicans won 21 seats; Democrats only 17. How could this happen?
Simple. Five years ago, a Republican legislature and governor approved a plan to crowd all the Democrats into as few districts as possible, and stretch Republicans over as many as possible. This was subject to approval by a GOP-dominated Supreme Court.
They did the same thing in Congressional districts. Democratic congressional candidates got 300,000 more votes than Republican ones. But that translated into nine Republican winners, and only six Democrats. All the Democrats won by more than two to one.

For a local example, just take a look at Livingston County’s two state House districts. Instead of dividing them into a more logical east and west or even north and south configuration it resembles some sort of a big C. The 66th district takes in Milford where nobody there identifies at all with Livingston County, instead of South Lyon, for instance, where some residents are in the Brighton school district and where some Livingston County residents are in the South Lyon school district.


Anonymous said...

Boo hoo. That's the way the game is played. Whoever's in power gets to make the rules.

Watch what happens in 2010 when the Democrats control everything in Michigan. They'll do the exact same thing the Republicans did - maybe worse.

Don't pretend it's only the Republicans who gerrymander.

Communications guru said...

“Boo hoo. That's the way the game is played.” That’s your comment? What a jackass. No wonder you don’t have the courage to put a name to that ridiculous comment. I never said the Republicans are the only ones who germander, but they’re is no way possible that Democrats will do it any worse. I don’t want Democrats to do it either because the losers are the constituents and the voters.
There is only one thing that truly makes politicians accountable, and that’s elections. We have seen a perfect example here in Livingston County when we have politicians who know they will never have a competitive race and have to answer for their actions.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you and you call me names?

Communications guru said...

You are right – if I called you a name - that was very immature of me. But saying “Boo Hoo” is mature? I don’t think so. I will apologize to calling that person a jackass, but that doesn’t change the fact it was an absolutely ridiculous post.

liberals Hate America said...

This road map will be familiar to all veterans of the Clinton White House of 1993 and 1994. The most recent administration that had to deal with a Democratic House, the shopping from caucus to caucus and the festooning of moderate legislation with all manner of amendments will seem dejà vu to all of the early Clintonites. When Clinton proposed an anti-crime bill with a federal death penalty, he needed to add pork projects in the inner city like midnight basketball to get it past the Democrats in the House.

Nancy Pelosi will face the same obstacle. By the time her legislation emerges from the lower chamber, it will bear little resemblance to what she had in mind, liberal as that might have been. As Clinton said, after he watched the mangling of his legislative program by the various caucuses in the House, "I didn't even recognize myself."

liberals Hate America said...

The American voter wanted a change, it was not that they liked what the Democrats had to offer, as they had no agenda other then we hate Bush. The Moderate swing voter therefore is what brought the Dems to power. Not the Democrats political machine so don’t flatter yourself.

This will last only 2 years, once the American public see’s all the infighting in the liberal party. You will not get one thing passed, as the Liberal party is to divided. . First, one has to go to check with the Black Caucus, Thence to the Hispanic Caucus, then to the Democratic Leadership Council moderates and, even worse, to the Blue Dog Democrats -- the out and out conservatives.
This road map will be familiar to all veterans of the Clinton White House of 1993 and 1994. The most recent administration that had to deal with a Democratic House, the shopping from caucus to caucus and the festooning of moderate legislation with all manner of amendments will seem dejà vu to all of the early Clintonites. When Clinton proposed an anti-crime bill with a federal death penalty, he needed to add pork projects in the inner city like midnight basketball to get it past the Democrats in the House.
Nancy Pelosi will face the same obstacle. By the time her legislation emerges from the lower chamber, it will bear little resemblance to what she had in mind, liberal as that might have been. As Clinton said, after he watched the mangling of his legislative program by the various caucuses in the House, "I didn't even recognize myself."
After 2 years of your liberal committee hearing and the unrelentless attacks on the Bush administration from Waxman, Dingell, Levin and Conyers the American voter will once again be ready for a change. The Liberals are no more than Haters and the American voter will see you for what you are.
So enjoy yourself for 2 years and savor the victory, as it will be short lived. Your Liberal congress was D.O.A.

liberals Hate America said...

From Argus 11-29-06
This is a perfect example of the Liberal Mindset.Lets see waht happens in the next 2 years.

Thanks for GOP contributions

Now that the Republican revolution has abruptly ended, I'd like to thank the Republicans for their contribution. Thanks for intelligent design. Science is way too complicated. They came up with a concept to skip the math and just say, "God made you. No further questions needed!" Who needs science when you can just look up a Bible passage instead?

Thanks for Iraq. The profits at the arms factories, the prosthetic-limb-making companies and Halliburton are booming. Republicans always know how to create jobs and spur the economy.

Thanks for trying to ban embryonic stem cell research. Now the sick people who would live longer with new discoveries won't be bogging down the health system, draining our resources.

Thanks for trying to stop immigration. If those overweight rich people who hire immigrants would mow their own lawns, then the obesity epidemic will surely subside.

Thanks for stopping the gays from marrying and adopting. Now little foreign babies who need adopting will have to learn some self-responsibility and stop milking the American system.

Thanks for the highest deficits, the highest poverty rate and the highest number of uninsured Americans in history. Those tax cuts for the rich really did help.

Lastly, thanks for setting the bar so high for moral values. After all, who could have guessed so many Republican bigshots were crooks or gay pedophiles or hypocritical religious leaders who like drugs and a good "massage."

David Monk


Communications guru said...

For once I agree with you, hate America. It was a good letter that hit the nail on the head, just like Jack Lessenberry’s essay. I don’t really see what the letter has to do with Mr. Lessenberry’s essay, but you are welcome to come here and make and ass of yourself anytime you like, hate America.

Communications guru said...

Well, hate America; the process you just described about President Clinton’s Anti-Crime Bill is the same process that led to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and the greatest experiment in Democratic government in the modern world. I have no problem with it. You float this crap with zero references or sources, but it doesn’t matter because I have no problem with “midnight basketball.” There was already a federal death penalty, so I’m not sure how he could have proposed a death penalty when it already existed. I don’t agree with everything people from my party propose, and the death penalty is one thing I do not support. I do know his program had immediate effects right her in Livingston County, and the COPS program put more police officers on the streets.
I’m sure the Speaker will have the same problem getting the exact legislation she wants passed exactly as written, and I say good. The Congress will no longer be a rubber standup for the incompetent Bush White House, nor for anyone else. I applaud that development.

Communications guru said...

Well, hate America, I really could care less how you justify the defeat, console yourself or come up with an alibi for the defeat. I’m just glad it happened. I really hope you keep believing the myth the loss was not because of the Democrats plan. If you read the posts on the blog, and judging by your comments that are completely off the subject you don’t, I am primarily concerned with state and local politics where Democrats took control of the House. Now, I challenge you show me one Democratic state Representative who made Bush or the Iraq fiasco a campaign issue.

I sincerely hope you believe it will only be two years. You are right that the Democratic Party is somewhat divided. That’s because we have a much larger tent than small, closed-minded people like you, but in the end the solutions and legislation that come out will benefit the majority of the American people, not just the richest 1 percent.

I’ve already debunked your ridiculous “road map” rant in an earl post, so I won’t bother wasting anymore space on it.

We do not have the time to “savor the victory” because we are already busy trying to get the country and state headed back in the right direction again and clean up the messes you left us. In the meantime, just keep on believing it will only be two years.

liberals Hate America said...

Just as you did in the above post you have to resort to name calling as you lack a true understanding of the process of Government and have the withdraw into a childhood behavior to justify your means.

To stoop to your level as Pee-Wee Herman said “ I Know You Are But What Am I “

The statement the Democrat party is somewhat divided is an understatement.

You Liberals are already flip flopping on your supposed 6 for 06 promises. What is 100 hours as promised by Pelosi, When House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi talks about what Democrats plan to accomplish in the first 100 hours when Congress convenes in January, does she mean 100 consecutive hours, as in, say, from a Monday at 10 a.m. until Friday at 2 p.m., or does she mean something else? The answer is something else. Pelosi plans to enact the Democrats’ “Six for ’06” agenda in 100 legislative hours — not real hours. And a legislative hour is not just any hour that the House is open for business.

Meanwhile, there have been, in the last week, a number of indications that Pelosi might not be able to fulfill some of the key promises she made in the campaign, no matter how long she has. The “Six for ’06” agenda, according to a release from Pelosi's office, is this:
** Draining the swamp — break the link between lobbyists and legislation and commit to pay-as-you-go budgeting, no new deficit spending

** Making America more secure — implement the independent 9/11 Commission recommendations

** Giving Americans a raise — increase the minimum wage

** Making college more affordable — cut the interest rate in half on federally subsidized student loans

** Making health care more affordable — negotiate for lower prescription drug prices

** Ending subsidies for Big Oil

** Giving hope to families with devastating diseases — allow stem cell research
Problems might arise with several of those initiatives. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Democrats will not implement one major recommendation of the September 11 Commission — the one calling for an overhaul of how Congress oversees the intelligence community. It’s also possible that Democrats might not carry through with some other 9/11 Commission recommendations, at least not in the promised time frame. If that happens, look for party leaders to come up with a plan to allow more time to consider the issue. “For the things that they can’t do, they’ll create an internal commission to study the other recommendations,” says a GOP source. “It will be a commission to study a commission.”

Democrats are also said to be struggling with proposals to cut the interest rates on college loans. “It can be very expensive,” says the GOP source. “You have a cost component that is pretty complicated.” To avoid the problem, it’s possible Democrats might initially come up with a one-year plan to cut interest rates, in hopes of finding a permanent solution later. But in any case, it’s likely their actions will run afoul of Pelosi's high-priority commitment to restore “pay-go” rules — the policy that any new spending or tax cuts must be offset by similar cuts in spending.

Then there is the pledge to have the federal government negotiate prescription drug prices. Since the election, there have been a number of news stories suggesting that the Medicare prescription drug benefit, a frequent target of Democratic campaign attacks, actually works pretty well, is fairly popular with seniors, and might not be improved by the promised change. “As Democrats prepare to take control of Congress,” the Washington Post reported on November 26, “they are struggling to keep that promise without wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.”

Now, there is speculation that Democrats might attempt some sort of halfway measure, like simply removing a provision in the Medicare prescription drug law that forbids the government from negotiating prices. Yet doing that would not force the executive branch to begin negotiating, and it is unlikely the Bush administration would make any changes in response. On the other hand, Democrats might pass a bill requiring the government to negotiate, but that might take more time than Pelosi has allowed and open up a fractious debate within the party. “The problem is, you begin to run into disagreements between Democrats,” the GOP aide notes. “Would it actually result in lower prices?”

Finally, there is the issue of spending. A few days ago, the New York Times published a front-page story headlined, “In New Congress, Pork May Linger.” “Like their Republican counterparts, many Democratic appropriators consider earmarks a venerable tradition,” the paper reported, describing the narrowly-directed spending that Pelosi and others had criticized during the campaign. “Many of the new Democratic chairmen are among the most experienced purveyors of political bacon.” The Times reported that a number of powerful Democrats are determined to ensure that there will be no significant changes in the earmark system — in the first 100 legislative hours, or ever. Whether Pelosi will be able to defeat them in her effort to “drain the swamp” is not clear.

Again now you lib's have to Walk The Walk instead of your past last 6 years of just Talk The Talk. Time will tell.

Communications guru said...

Name calling? That’s all you got out of that post? How many tines do I have to keep debunking your long-winded, 4 a.m. rants, hate America, and all you get out of it is I called you a name? I honestly don’t even see where I called you a name. You cannot mean calling you small-minded? That’s just an honest assessment of your position and your party.

No, “The statement the Democrat party is somewhat divided is an understatement” is exactly that. You only see that because your party is so narrow with so many litmus tests only people with a small view of the world are allowed in the tent.

No, the Democrats are not flip-flopping on anything. Hell, they are not even in power yet, and you’re blaming them for stuff. I have no idea what the hell you're talking about, hate America, when you talk about the “first 100 hours.” As I said before and you ignored, I’m more focused on state and local politics.

Yes, time will tell, but you’re not giving them any.

liberals Hate America said...

Guru Please use spell check and make this at least a professional looking Blog

How many tines do I

rant in an earl post,

Communications guru said...

Right. Thanks for the friendly advice. If it’s not professional enough find another home for your rants.