Sunday, October 7, 2018

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

From time to time I’m reminded that I did spend (waste?) several years going to graduate school, including – in my view – a few hideous hours learning statistics. It’s not that I hate math; I just never was much good at it. My undergrad minimum requirement was algebra, and I completed the minimum. Solve for x.

Nevertheless, the stats training still comes in useful, from time to time. While wandering through my social media today, I stumbled across a report from CBS, ranking states by their rates of obesity. You can view the slideshow HERE. I studied it with passing interest, noting for example that my home state of Colorado is the least obese (22.6%). Washington, DC was included right behind Colorado at #50, and so on, down to #1 West Virginia, tipping the scales at 38.1%.

While I was looking at this report I noticed a trend which led me to ask the following question: What is the relationship between this data and the percentage of people who voted for The Donald? 

Why?

It’s not important why. Science is about questions, not excuses.

You can find the percentage of people voting for Trump on Wikipedia, HERE

The relationship of obesity rates to Trump voters – or any such relationship – can be expressed as a correlation, which basically reveals how change in the X-axis corresponds to a change in the Y-axis. As any scientist will tell you (and no media editor understands) correlations are not necessarily causal. In other words, X does not cause Y, or vice-versa.

With that in mind, let’s look at the data. Before we do, I need to confess to a small fudge: The CBS data allowed for ties. For example, Tennessee and Nebraska were tied at #14 (32.8% overweight). I disallowed ties, and gave the first state named by CBS the better ranking, that is, Tennessee #15, Nebraska #14. I don’t think it matters that much, but if you’re so anal that you must have it exactly right go pull the data and run it yourself, smart ass.

The measure of fit of a correlation (R) is between 0 and 1, where 0 is no relationship and 1 means that every change in X results in an exactly equal change in Y. In my experience, there’s a kind of background correlation where everything is related to everything else by about R=.20. Above a .50 correlation usually indicates some relationship. A .70 or above is generally strong.

The relationship of state rankings of obesity x percent of population voting for Trump?

R=.73 (0.728687783, to be picky about it).

Ta-Dah! That’s pretty good. I’ve seen worse results in some of my student’s Masters’ theses. Here’s what it looks like in a graph.



Okay, so now you want to know what it all means. Well, it means Americans are fat and Trump is allegedly President. I’m sure you could spend a few thousand words sorting through these results to draw some conclusions, and you might even make an interesting research paper out of it, but I’ll leave that to you. I offer the data up merely to demonstrate that I have a lot of time on my hands.

If you seriously want to review the raw data, email me and I’ll be happy to send it along.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Not That Motivated

I’m selling my boat. I’ve been quite fond of it, and spent many a happy hour drifting around not catching fish. Nevertheless, I just don’t use it enough anymore. (If you’re interested, the ad is HERE.)

Shortly after I posted the ad I got a text from some guy asking me to email his dad at a gmail address. I sent the email and got a response.

So He Said:
First and foremost, I would like to introduce myself being in the military. My name is XXX, I serve for the United States Army (SGT E-5), I am currently not in town at the moment as I am at the base and we are not allowed to make or receive calls frequently as phones communication are restricted but we do have internet access and that is our major means of communication to the outside world. So let’s get back to business!
I'm purchasing it for my brother as a birthday gift and he's not aware of me doing this because am making it a surprise. So can you assure me I won't be disappointed buying this from you? Also, I do have a few questions I would love to ask you about it.
(He then proceeds to list a handful of questions)

Looking forward to read back from you and I hope you can respond and answer my questions appropriately in your next e-mail?

Respectfully,
SGT E-5 XXX

And I Said:

Sgt. XXX:

Thank you for your inquiry.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a retired criminal fraud investigator and licensed/practicing attorney in North Carolina. As for your questions, most of the relevant information is in the ad. Perhaps the question most likely to inform your desire to proceed is, “Do you have a verified account with PayPal?” 

It doesn’t matter. I will only sell this boat in a face-to-face cash transaction, in a bank, where the buyer hands me the cash and provides the notary with proper identification for transfer of title. Please feel free to let me know if this fails to address most of your concerns. 

Regards, Tom Cadwallader, Esq.

And Then He Said:

Thanks for the understanding and swift response,

I Really Appreciate Your Response. I would have Loved to Pay You an Upfront Cash Payment or Face to Face deal, but I would Urge You to Understand that PayPal is all I have got Left for this Transaction.Kindly bear with me as i will Deposit your Funds and you will have your cash before pick up arrangement kindly let me know if you are okay with this

I do appreciate the way you answered my questions!. I'm satisfied with it's condition and i believe i wont be disappointed I want you to know am serious in purchasing it and am sure he's gonna love and enjoy it more than you did. My mode of payment is PayPal since i have no access to my bank account online, but have it attached to my PayPal account. Since I'm requesting this transaction to be done via PayPal, I will be responsible for all the PayPal fees/charges concerning this transaction, as i would be well pleased getting your feedback with all paypal information as listed below

I look forward hearing from you with your PayPal information as requested below.

PayPal e-Mail Address:
PayPal Account User Name:
Firm Price:
Home Address/ Pickup location Info:
Cell Phone#:

I am ready to purchase it, so you can take the add off Craigslist and consider it sold to me and its new owner which is my brother. PayPal is just like paying into bank account. It takes a minutes to get an account with them. Just go to www.paypal.com and create a personal account with them. Keep me updated once the registration is completed so I can walk you through the next steps.

Best Regards

And Then I Said:

I’m sorry. You misunderstood me. What I said was, “Fuck You.” Cheers, T.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Objective Reality

“There must be some kind of way outta here” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief”

             I never thought I’d see the day where the very existence of an objective reality needed a defense, but apparently, the day is nigh, or long past nigh. It’s a tricky problem, trying to prove the existence of a true “reality.” Not as tricky as proving the existence of God, but curiously a related question.
            Objective reality implies the existence of things that are universal and fixed; independent and unconditional. Take gravity (disclaimer: I am not a physicist). According to modern physics, gravity is a law. It varies according to certain criteria, and while all the mechanisms may not yet be understood, it IS. You don’t get to fly off the Earth just because you don’t believe in it. Moreover, there’s just one gravity for everybody. Gravity operates on you and me in precisely the same manner, to the extent that we occupy the same gravitational space. It doesn’t differ according to our personal characteristics or beliefs or preferences.
            We don’t argue much about gravity, because it’s too esoteric and irrelevant to our daily lives. It’s background stuff. Another kind of reality we tend to accept is order based upon generally agreed rules. Poker, for example. In all the forms of poker of which I am aware, four of a kind beat a full house. That’s one of many rules regarding the game. The rules are absolutes. Games are pointless without rules, and when we join in, we adopt the conventions, however opaque their origins.
             This is where we’ve gotten into trouble. Imagine if someone sat down at your poker game and said, “I’m a disciple of poker guru Baba Rum Raisin. According to the holy Raisin, a flush is a pure form of beauty, and therefore is the best hand in the game.” Normally, we’d all put our guns on the table and ask the stranger to relinquish his seat. But what if, at a table of nine players, four Baba Rum disciples showed up, and of the remaining five players, one was open to considering the alternative (because there are good people on both sides, no?). And that’s the road to Hell we’re skipping down today. 
  Change the reality, change the rules.
            As is so often the case with rules, that hierarchy of poker hands is based on an underlying objective reality – the law of true probability. That is, if you deal an infinite number of random poker hands over infinite time, the weaker hands will appear more frequently than the stronger hands, exactly in the order of their ranking. Many rule systems in life follow a similar sort of order. For its flaws and imperfections, the rule of law is (historically) similarly arranged. Crimes of greater damage and injury carry more severe restrictions and penalties. This system has held up admirably in civilized society, albeit brought low from time to time by fear mongers and fractious politicians and racists of various sorts.
            To repeat, he who would mess with the rules must first rewrite reality.
            It has been ever thus. To accommodate slavery, the founders of our country created the legal fiction that a shanghaied and enslaved African was 3/5s of a human being, and to be counted accordingly in the decennial census. It boggles the mind to wonder how they arrived at that precise fraction, but we need not wonder why. Slavery cannot be justified if all humans are equal in their worth. Deny the reality; change the rules.
            One mechanism by which this is accomplished is false equivalency – the artificial backbone of spineless journalists everywhere. Back a few dozen years ago when I was a journalism major (the wellspring of all my troubles) we were hammered with the idea that you need to present both sides of the story. No one ever said that they must be presented as if they are equally true. When you wrote a story about a person shooting his spouse, you were expected to present it as an allegation, and if you had access to the shooter, you might say that the offender denied shooting anyone. You were not obliged to present an alibi, or discuss the character of the victim, or trace the long and treacly mess of their relationship. That stuff was for the National Enquirer. The journalist’s responsibility is to the facts, in proportion to the evidence for their support.
            Evidence.
            Evidence. What is the evidence? Does the evidence fit with reality, or do we need to alter reality to suit our version of events?
 
See https://climate.nasa.gov
           Which brings us to global climate change. We’ve been warned about it for a long time. Climate change based on carbon dioxide creating a greenhouse effect was first proposed in . . . 2012? No. 1996? No. 1945? No. 18 goddamned 96 – and that was based on even earlier research. We’ve known about this danger for at least 122 years. Just six days ago, NASA cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” So (wipes his hands), that settles that, eh?
            Hahahahaha. Global climate change just doesn’t work with a business model that deeply depends on the production of greenhouse gases. Ergo, attack the reality. The evidence is unreliable (look at how cold it is today), scientists disagree (false equivalency between 97% of climate scientists and 3% who have no vested reason whatsoever to dissent), it’s a conspiracy by scientists to bring down the capitalist system (because all scientists are libtard snowflakes), maybesobut it’s not manmade (oh well then, bring on the Apocalypse).
            I understand as well as anyone that none are so blind as those who will not see. (I checked and that’s not a religious quote, but it comes close. See Matthew 13:13, Jeremiah 5:21, Isaiah 6:9-10). I’d amend the expression to read, “none are so blind as those who deeply believe.” Because (back to that proof of God question) “belief,” in the final analysis, is the suspension of evidence. And yes, we all have things we believe, and who cares if they are real? Belief is a comfort, after all.
            In 1951, a longshoreman named Eric Hoffer wrote a book titled “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.” Hoffer understood all too well the power of belief and its ability to transcend rational thought. “The True Believer” is a roadmap for our current chaos – the discontent of the “new poor” (e.g., former middle class), the tribal and identity politics, the glorification of the past and future and depreciation of the present, the unifying power of hatred. “(T)he ideal devil is a foreigner,” Hoffer says (p. 93). You may think that guy in the White House is a madman, and perhaps he is, but someone close to him has read Hoffer’s book.
            Blind allegiance to a belief system is fine when the faith expressed is of a positive New Testament sort, the goodness of man, the kindness of strangers, love for the poor and dispossessed, etc. It helps if there’s a certain consistency in the system, for example, IF people don’t believe in murdering fertilized human eggs THEN maybe they should also draw the line at abusing children and executing convicts. Herein lies the failure of American Evangelicals. As Michael Gerson (himself an Evangelical) explains, the movement lacks an organizing theory of social action, or any of those “if-then” kind of rules. They fill the vacuum by subscribing to the sources who are “currently defending, and exploiting, them. . . . Fox News and conservative talk radio.” (See Gerson, here).
Fox News, their talk radio allies and enablers in D.C. politics are trying to rewrite reality on a broad scale. Legitimate journalism is “fake news,” traitorous criminals are the victims of “witch hunts,” despotic leaders are deified. The new rules likely to follow are a reason to despair. 
            In North Carolina today, the alt-right legislature has proposed six constitutional amendments. Two of these are designed to realign the three branches of state government: to sap power from the executive branch and hand it over to the legislature. The first of these deprives the Governor of appointment power to replace judges (thus further politicizing the judiciary). The second shifts appointments for 400 boards and commissions to the right wing super-majority in our House and Senate. A third proposal caps income tax at 7%. This has two effects: It permanently deprives our public schools of adequate funding, and it transfers the tax burden to the poor, students, retirees, etc. in the form of sales tax. The fourth is a darkly veiled attack on Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, masquerading as a poisonous “victim’s rights” pastry, complete with a name in the icing: “Marsy’s Law.” Among other features, it would allow a rapist to challenge his victim’s decision to abort. Another “guarantees” hunting and fishing rights, that is, it sweeps aside environmental and game management regulations. The final amendment would require voters to produce ID – a proven system for suppressing Black (likely Democrat) voters. There’s a frantic effort underway by Carolina lawmakers to shield voters from knowing anything more about these amendments other than their titles. Five previous governors (including the legislature’s former personal puppet, Pat McCrory) have come out in opposition to these “reforms.”
Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
            I have no prediction about how things are going to go, near or far term. I do know that I fell for the “it will all be better after the election” nonsense in 2016, and I’m not on board with the optimists today. I think I’m going to stick with reality. It’s gotten me this far (so far so good), and rarely disappoints.

Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth
“All Along the Watchtower,” Bob Dylan, 1967

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Impeach Who?

The sun broke sharply through the windows this morning, both here and in D.C.,
revealing the fresh hell that passes for politics these days. GOP lawmakers scrambled to close the shades, least they perish in a burning flash of smoke and dust. So, what’s on their agenda today?
            It’s an oily mix of lies and misdirection and venality as usual, of course. 
            Most recent are the phony impeachment papers drawn up against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, as the regime operatives continue to eat their own in a frantic battle to distract from their distractions. The authors of this mostly baseless pack of lies are none other than North Carolina’s own Mark Meadows and Ohio’s Jim Jordan. 
Meadows, you’ll recall, was first elected to office following the illegal gerrymandering of his district. He has distinguished himself in a variety of ways – he signed the contract from Hell, the so-called Contract with America, and was an important figure in the disastrous government shutdown of 2013. He voted against relief for Hurricane Sandy, prefiguring his hatred of all things good and kind. His former Chief of Staff Kenny West resigned after being MeToo-ed, but in a rare display of generosity Meadows continued to pay West after he left office, to the tune of $58,000. The oxymoronic Office of Congressional Ethics found this to be a violation of House Rules, and . . . crickets. His shining accomplishment (?) was driving John Boehner to resign, paving the way for noted Libertarian and cowardly lyin’ Paul Ryan.
Jordan, on the other hand, should probably keep his head down and hide out in his coffin, but he’s not known for his good sense. What he is known for, lately, is that he’s the former wrestling coach from Ohio State who is accused (by several of his own student wrestlers) of knowing about sexual abuse committed by the team doctor, doing nothing to stop it, and now refusing to acknowledge it. Instead he has doubled down, claiming that these sexual abuse allegations are some “deep state” conspiracy to distract from his investigation of Rosenstein. Riiight.
Which brings us to the famous Devin Nunes memo alleging misconduct by the FBI (and, by extension, Rosenstein) for misleading the FISA Court in their applications for warrants against Carter Page. Page is a former foreign-policy advisor to President What’s-His-Name. Page’s notable qualifications include consultant to the petroleum industry and alleged Russian butt-boy. As it turns out, the FISA Court stood up for themselves by releasing un-redacted copies of the warrant applications to members of Congress, and a (highly redacted) version to the press. In a stunning turn of events, another North Carolina Congressman – Richard Burr – went on CNN to stand behind the FBI, saying there were “sound reasons” to issue the FISA warrants. I cannot imagine what makes What’s-His-Name angrier: that Burr is not supporting the false narrative, or that Burr went on CNN.
So, the FISA warrants are demonstrably correct and thorough, and establish probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an operative for Putin. Everyone now knows that except Devin Nunes, who “hasn’t read them yet.” What to do? Impeach Rosenstein, of course. 
Fortunately, that train isn’t even going to leave the station. Too soon, guys – too soon. The sun is shining and we can see all around, the birds singing and flowers blooming and light descends into the dark recesses of the Congressional cesspool. You need to wait a little, until summer turns to fall, and the sky blackens, and death is all around. Late September, maybe. Things should reach a fever pitch by then.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Short History of Civility

            As it turns out, Sandie is inordinately fond of “Hamilton.” So much so that she brought the soundtrack for us to listen to in its entirety on a road trip to Savannah. Ironies ensued.
            Spoiler alert: Hamilton dies in a duel, at the hand of Aaron Burr (one hand, one pistol, one shot). The whole matter of dueling figures prominently in the play, beginning with a piece named “Ten Duel Commandments,” and followed by a section entitled “Meet Me Inside,” in which Washington takes Hamilton to task for his involvement (as Laurens’ second) in a duel between Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens and Major General Charles Lee. Laurens accused Lee (correctly) of going around bad-mouthing Washington. 
Washington tells Hamilton that duels don’t solve the problem, and Hamilton says “You’re absolutely right. John should have shot him in the mouth. That would have shut him up.” Hamilton goes on to name Lee and Thomas Conway as agitators who take Washington’s name and “rake it through the mud.”
Here’s the part: Both Lee and Conway were shot in duels. The play doesn’t describe the Conway duel, but it is covered rather nicely in Battles of America by Sea and Land, authored in 1878 by Robert Tomes, Ph.D. Tomes described Conway as “the main instigator of these disgraceful intrigues against Washington” and as the leader of the “disreputable Conway Cabal.” It seems that one General John Cadwallader did, in fact, shoot Conway in the mouth. Conway thought he was dying and wrote Washington a nice letter of apology. Then, failing to die, he ran away to France. Cadwallader is alternatively spelled Cadwalader, and yep, General John is perched somewhere out on the Revolutionary War branch of my own family tree. That’s a picture up there of him with his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Anne.
Savannah served up a whole new side-dish of duels. You can’t throw a rock in the Colonial Park Cemetery without hitting someone who died from a duel, or killed someone in a duel, or both. Perhaps most notable are Button Gwinnett (signer of the Declaration of
Independence and Governor of Georgia) and General Lachlan McIntosh. McIntosh killed Gwinnett; they are buried near to one another. In fact, the Savannah cemeteries were the preferred dueling grounds for most of the city’s duels – “pistols for two, coffin for one.”
In the play, Hamilton and Burr agree that dueling is “dumb and immature.” 
Perhaps so.
Nevertheless.
My old friend and Libertarian Larry Carlson used to say, “An armed society is a polite society.” I take his meaning, despite the NRA having twisted it all out of proportion to sensibility. Supporters of dueling believed it useful in settling matters of honor, but that was never really the point. What dueling was good for then, and what I believe it might be good for now, is as a test of courage.
Because I don’t believe there are more than five or six people, collectively, in the Congress, in the Cabinet, or in the employ of this current president, that have an ounce of courage. No guts, nada.
Let’s put that group to the test.
First, the great majority of them have never faced the prospect of having someone (or something) return fire. No military training, no police experience, no combat role. I doubt if more than one or two have ever gone to sleep with a shoulder black and blue from being pounded by the kick from of a couple hundred 7.62 mm rounds. Many drive around in armored vehicles sandwiched between bodyguards. They whine and snivel when they get kicked out of restaurants, or insulted on TV. The only one in recent history to actually shoot someone was Dick Cheney, who claimed it was an accident, and whose victim laughed and took the blame.
Somehow, they even rate special protections, god knows why. Take Rand Paul (Please!). Paul is out mowing his yard when he gets blindsided by neighbor Rene Boucher, who drop-kicked the hell out of him for piling yard debris in Boucher’s yard, among other things. Six broken ribs. Boucher is initially charged with misdemeanor assault, but, no, it turns into a Federal case because Paul is a member of Congress. Despite the fact, mind you, that there was no political motive behind the assault. Even Paul admitted so. And Boucher, instead of paying a fine and getting probation, ends up serving 30 days in jail. Free Rene Boucher! By the way, Paul’s another Libertarian. He should fully support my friend Larry’s point of view and all its implications.
Don’t get me wrong. These guys (and women) are more than willing to drop the hammer, so long as the odds are in their favor and someone else has a finger on the trigger. Send in ICE. Call out the National Guard. Support our law enforcement.
Let’s create a permit system for dueling, and put their names on the list.
Can you imagine Sarah Huckabee Saunders trying to second for Trump? “Well, he really can’t come before dawn, because, you know, twitter-feed. I’m sorry, bone spurs, so sad.”
Put them on a list and print their hideous faces on playing cards, along with the Ten Duel Commandments. A single exception: Much as he is a world-class slime-ball, all-around snake, a perfect 10 in gutlessness and person I am most likely to sucker punch if he ever shows up at my grocery store, I’m afraid we must leave Steve Miller off-limits. The guy has a forehead the size of a billboard – he’d never stand a chance.
And also, get a copy of the Hamilton CD. It’s fucking brilliant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Me and Anthony Bourdain

            I’m kind of a bush league alcoholic. I bring this up because I was thinking about Anthony Bourdain and what it was that might had driven him to suicide. I was a fan, even have an actual autographed copy of Kitchen Confidential. That book provides a clue: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
            That’s a point of view I clearly shared when I was 25 years old and pounding down half a quart of vodka every day. Smoked a little weed, sometimes, and cigarettes. Two packs a day. Good times.
            I gave up weed when I joined the ranks of law enforcement. After years of trying, I finally managed to divorce cigarettes. I was 40, give or take. And liquor? Meet my little friend.
            Most days now, I have 3 or 4 drinks a day. I almost never drink before 6:00 pm. Four drinks are not enough to get me truly drunk; just enough to let me play loose and aggressive on the play-money poker sites (I presently have $4.5 million on Poker Stars). I’m not likely to come down with cirrhosis but my liver doesn’t love me. My other internal organs are similarly disapproving, but such is the nature of compromise with addiction. When I drink 5 drinks I feel it – I lose at poker, I’m slow-witted in the morning and my tennis game is crap. (It usually is anyway, to be fair.) When I have 3 drinks I feel good in the morning and my tennis game improves, but that worm in my ear promises that I’ll feel MUCH better if I have 4 drinks the next night. And I always listen to the worm.
            I’m retired now, but I never missed work because of my drinking. I have the usual amount of depression but if you’re not depressed from time to time you’re not paying attention. Drinking set a bad example for my youngest daughter which I stupidly figured out too late, but what do you expect from a half-hearted alcoholic? I’ve been happily married for 27 years and anyone who knew me 28 years ago (or longer) would have given 9 to 2 odds against that ever happening.
            I know this, though – everything I say about my alcoholism is a rationalization. I’m just a not-very-accomplished drunk, which for me is par. I can live with it. I never had any inclination towards really diving into the amusement park, the way Bourdain did. I won’t eat half-cooked entrails or fish fermented in dirt, and I never had any inclination to try drugs that required injection. Tony lived hard and fast and like many others (Hemingway comes to mind) he burned out too soon. I’m guessing so, anyway. I’ll outlast him by 10 years, maybe 15, who knows? In some ways, I win. In some ways, not so much.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Gerrymander Circle-Jerk

I’m not going to bore you with the full history of gerrymandering, because you learned about it in 9th grade if you’re my age, and in college if you’re significantly younger (50 is significantly younger). I will share the origins of the term – a map most of you have seen – named for Governor Elbridge Gerry, in 1812 Massachusetts. Dunno what Massachusetts is named for, but it is a spelling bee buster. Anyway, here’s the map:

This gerrymander favored the Republicans over the Federalists, and every party in power since then has been guilty of the practice. At first the Supreme Court deemed gerrymandering a political activity, and therefore out of the reach of the Court. Later gerrymandering based on race was outlawed, the practice was determined to be justiciable, and districts were required to be of relatively equal numbers of voters in federal elections (one person one vote). We had a voting rights act, and then we didn’t, and that’s where things pretty much stand today.

You would think that a representative democracy – if that’s what the US is – would by now have found a way to be, well, representative. But no, not so much. As recently as July of last year, the 4th Circuit Court said that the North Carolina’s voter ID law targeted people of color with “almost surgical precision.” You could almost hear the state’s liberals moan ecstatically in unison. This ruling was challenged, went to Supreme Court, and was promptly denied reconsideration. Shortly thereafter, the Supremes struck down both federal legislative and state General Assembly districts as illegal gerrymanders.  Here’s what the illegal federal map looks like:


In the lawsuit that resulted in the ruling described above, it was noted that you could drive the length of District 12 with you car doors open and kill everyone in the District.

I don’t have a good map of the 28 State senate and house seats the Court said were illegally gerrymandered. Feel free to Google it; it’s basically just a map of the state. I do have one of many proposed maps -- this one created by a computer -- that purports to represent nonpartisan districting:
There’s been a lot of pissing and moaning by members of the legislature since these rulings about “When!” and “How!” and “It’s Not Fair!” They’ve been throwing their food on the floor and weeping loudly and stamping their little feet. But they’re not complete idiots, all evidence to the contrary. They have now declared that they are going to draw maps in which they take NO ACCOUNT of race. The implication is that they are only going to consider political preference in their next effort. Purely political = not justiciable, or so they’re hoping.  And that’s damned clever, because in North Carolina race and party preferences overlap with . . . wait for it . . . almost surgical precision. Ta Dah!

Here’s a map of the State by race:


And here’s a map of voter preferences in the 2012 election (when Democrats actually got off their asses to vote):
 See what I mean? (That outlier over there on the left is Buncombe County, home of hippie haven Asheville, a very Boulder, CO kind of college town.)

And so, as we gird up for the next round of lawsuits, let me modestly suggest that In The Meantime, we do not have a lawfully elected legislature. It seems to me that actions of a racially gerrymandered political body are ipso facto racist and/or unconstitutional.

Wait, Tom! You’re not suggesting that everything the Legislature has done since those 28 gerrymandered seats were filled needs to be redone? Why, that could delay any new work for months – even years!

And the problem with that would be? According to Mark Twain (or, maybe, Gideon J. Tucker) No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Seriously, I wouldn’t mind at all a return to the days when we funded our schools and our Medicaid system and it was still illegal to drive over people in the streets.