Saturday, October 10, 2015

Killing The Florida Gerrymander 10/10/2015: Only Mostly Dead

So, this Friday the judge presiding over the Congressional redistricting to align with the state's Fair Districts amendments gave his final approval on a map.  Via the Tampa Bay Times:

...(Judge Terry) Lewis rejected the Florida Legislature's third attempt at redrawing its congressional districts and recommended a map proposed by the challengers to the Florida Supreme Court for its final review. His ruling adopted the bulk of the map approved by lawmakers in the northern and central portions of the state and reconfigured the three districts in Hillsborough County and split Sarasota County.
The challengers, a coalition of League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida and a group of Democrat-leaning individuals, agreed with the Legislature's configuration of 20 of the 27 districts proposed in a staff-drawn base map but asked the court to adopt their changes to the remaining districts. Lewis agreed.
"The Legislature has thus not met its burden of justifying the proposed versions of Districts 20 through 27," he wrote in a 19-page ruling. He said that a map drawn by the challengers showed no evidence of being drawn with partisan intent and "best complies with the directions" set out by the Florida Supreme Court in July...
...The recommendation will next go to the Florida Supreme Court which must review the maps, including the court testimony and record, and decide what will be the final boundaries for the 2016 election cycle. On Friday, the court gave the parties until Oct. 27 to respond to Lewis' ruling...

Problem with the Times article: does not provide a link to what the map will be, so I gotta go hunt down the map via another source.  Gimme a year.  Searching... searching... have you ever considered the benefits of owning a fine set of encyclopedias?  Searching... ah here we go.  Found a map at the Miami Herald article.

Okay.  Um... hurm.  I'm a little disappointed.

In terms of getting rid of the worst elements of gerrymandering - the long stretchy strings that cover ten counties - this map gets rid of two or three of the more obvious offenders.  Problem is, there's a new stretched-out gerrymander up there on the Florida-Georgia border.  Instead of having the Fifth stretch down to Orlando from Jacksonville it's now stretching from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.

We've traded one sin in for another.  Couldn't they have made a compact Fifth District out of that part of Duval County/Jacksonville down towards Alachua?  Something still roughly rectangular and geographically sane?

The benefits to this map is that it resolves some of the odder shapes of the old maps that congealed around South Florida and the I-4 Corridor.  Daytona's district makes sense.  South Pinellas is now all one district, and they put as much of Hillsborough County into one district as they could.  I'm still bothered by that part of the South Florida map - the purple blob to the west end of the population center - where it looks like they've split up spaces between cities rather than keep things compact.

All in all, it's a better map than before... but it still suffers from its own stretching issues.

Does this have something to do with ensuring there are minority-majority districts?  Looks that way, considering how the Fifth District is still a stretched snake.

If anything, this proves that the Constitutional provision to map out districts will create gerrymanders regardless of intent.  Requiring saner map-making alone will not resolve this problem of more effective, more accountable representation.

We need to look at other solutions along with this.

Going to a Proportional system for the House seats may be the only real thing that could fix this.

Otherwise, we may need to increase the number of representatives from the current 435 seats.  Considering we haven't increased that number since 1929 and considering that our nation's population has tripled since then, our need to increase representatives to cover more people would fix gerrymandering by tightening district shapes to mass population (read: Urban and minority) centers, ensuring minority districts while avoiding the geographic sins of stretching out into rural areas that would need their own representation.

In the meantime, this isn't over.  The state's Supreme Court has to give final say on this.  Which is likely, considering 1) the district judge is right in that the Republican-controlled legislature kept failing to abide by the amendments and 2) we're running out of time if anybody wants these maps usable for 2016.

In the meantime, for the LOVE OF GOD STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN.  Thank you.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Dear House Republicans: We Make Our Own Hells

"So this is hell. I'd never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the burning marl. Old wives' tales! There's no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is—other Republicans!" - paraphrasing Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit

This is what you wanted, Republicans.

You've spent almost 40 years driven by a political narrative that government simply doesn't work, that the federal government is bloated and unmanageable and bad for people.  "Government is the problem" is the essential message left over from the Ronald Reagan era, what the GOP campaigned on over these decades, and that mindset has given you a party full of elected officials eager to break the whole thing down to prove it.

This has led to one great embarrassing fact the entire world can no longer ignore: Your own party is now an ungovernable mess.  The Republican Party, having gotten to where it cannot govern the nation - that it refuses to govern despite trying to hide the damage done - is now at a point where it cannot govern itself.

Party discipline is next to non-existent.  Any semblance of seniority or merit no longer matters.  Nobody sane wants the leadership positions, and the ones that do cannot appeal to a voting base and subset of fellow politicians who abhor that sanity as though it were weakness.  What was once a coveted high seat of power - the Speakership of the House - it's become a mousetrap with a Sword of Damocles hovering overhead.

I never could bear the idea of anyone's expecting something from me. It always made me want to do just the opposite. - No Exit

The House Republicans are driven by one true narrative: Beat the Democrats. Drive Obama Out of Office in Disgrace.  No Compromise.  No Shame.  That the Democratic Party wants government to work for people is part of the Republican rage against government: Dare not allow the Democrats to be ever proven correct.

Instead of standing for ideas, for reforms, for action, the Republicans are now in defense of dogma, for obstruction and delay and denial.  The only action the base of the party wants is a full government shutdown to press their social agenda.

And those insurgent radicals truly believe the shutdown will give them everything they want. Unlike the last two four times our nation's gone through this since the Gingrich takeover of the House back in 1994.  And these radicals truly believe the doom-sayers terrified of the government defaulting on debts are wrong and that the nation's finances are untouchable.  And these radicals truly want it all to fail because they've been told all this time that government NEEDS to fail.

Instead, we're all seeing what this obsession with destruction is doing.  It is tearing their own political party the Republicans apart from the inside.  Their refusal to govern is making it impossible to govern themselves.

Can Americans accept leadership from a party incapable of finding its own leadership?

One of the ironies in No Exit: there's a door to Hell.  It can let people out.  It's not guarded.  It's not even locked.  The characters in Sartre's play are too emotionally twisted and spiteful towards each other - and themselves - that they refuse to even try walking out.

This is your Hell, Republicans.

I'd welcome you to it, but you're all still intent on dragging everyone else in with you.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

In The GOP Madhouse, The Last One Standing Will Be A Mad King...

So that escalated quickly:

Days ago, House Speaker John Boehner bowed out as their leader after a papal visit and now House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is reportedly taking himself out of contention for the job.
Herding cats is apparently too difficult...
McCarthy’s announcement is a stunning development despite more than a week full of turmoil surrounding his inarticulate admission that the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s investigation is no more than a political ploy meant to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions — an admission that Clinton and Democrats have hammered nonstop over the airwaves and in Congress...

I previously had an article about the sudden madness due to happen when Boehner resigned, and I was not far off.  I had figured McCarthy wouldn't win the Speakership because he was the "conventional" "Establishment" leader left standing... which the rebel Republicans would dismiss because he still would NOT be crazy enough for their taste.

I didn't expect McCarthy's own ineptitude damning himself.  As noted in the Salon article, McCarthy had made the gaffe of publicly admitting the ongoing Benghazi investigation was more to weaken Hillary's campaign efforts for the Presidency than for any justice of those killed during that tragedy.  It gave Hillary the excuse to play the victim, it justified the Democrats' ongoing argument that this Republican-controlled Congress was more about partisan objectives over genuine governance, and it underscored the overall waste that the GOP House has committed ever since 2011.

And while the notice is also stating the House is suspending the Speakership vote, sooner or later they need to have someone replace the departing Boehner.  This is problematic because - with McCarthy out - there is no one left with any reasonable expectation of sanity who wants the job.

Officially two Representatives - Dan Webster and Jason Chaffetz - put there names out there and are expected to stay in the race.  Problems with both: Webster is a social conservative of the Freedom Caucus with ties to a fringe religious movement that abounds in sexual hypocrisy.  Chaffetz just recently made headlines as the chair of the committee that tried to bash Planned Parenthood and did so in the most gross, ill-informed, over-the-top manner that NO ONE even the Far Right took as legitimate.

So in other words, right now the Republican House may get for its leader a religious extremist who'll push a "women submit" agenda (at the least) or an opportunistic liar still far too eager to pander to those religious extremists anyway.  It's not so much a rock and a hard place as it's all jagged ship-tearing rocks.

The delay McCarthy is forcing on the leadership vote looks for all intents an effort to give whatever leadership is left in the Republican ranks to find a "sensible" replacement candidate who can appeal to both the "normal" party members - the ones who DON'T want to commit mass suicide with a debt default or government shutdown - and the increasingly dangerous Far Right "freedom" usurpers causing all this chaos from the back benches.


If you poll the Beltway media elites, they'll all clamor for the likes of Paul "Death Budget" Ryan as the best possible candidate to appeal (to them and them alone, suckas).  Thing is, Ryan is proving how smart he is by refusing to put his name on ballot in the first place.

After seeing what happened with Boehner (and now McCarthy), the risk of getting your political career imploded - damned if you refuse to give the Far Right its pound of flesh, damned if you do and the country collapses from their self-destructive path - is much too high.

If you look at the field of House Republicans, too many of the public figures are radicals in the conventional sense - openly hostile to bipartisanship, constantly railing against Obama and Democrats as threats to America's safety, and eagerly pandering to the talking heads on the Fox Not-News channel - that would not appeal outside of their base audience.

We're even hearing talk about the Republicans in the House voting for someone outside of the whole building - legally, there's nothing in the rulebook that says an elephant can't play baseball uh run the Speaker's duties - but even that would be so out of the ordinary - and so against tradition - that most Americans would recoil from it.  So forget that, Cruz.

If the Establishment tries to find someone they can back, the likelihood is growing that enough of the radicals in the House will refuse to support him, leading to a divided House right at a moment - November requires a vote on the debt ceiling, December requires another attempt at a budget deal - where there would be enough chaos that the radicals win their battle no matter what.

It's getting to the point where the only sane move is for enough moderate Republicans to avoid voting altogether, and allow the Democratic caucus to vote for their Speaker candidate as a minority-controlled House (there is a way that can happen).  Otherwise they might cross the aisle and vote for Pelosi outright and end this debacle for at least this year.  But THAT move would be political suicide for many of those "traitors"... and the Republicans will easily go back into grievance mode - as if they ever get out of that mode even when they're in charge...

Crazy is growing crazier by the day in Congress, people.

This is what happens when the Republican Party let the crazies - the anti-taxers, the religious extremists, the haters, the war-mongers - drive the nation's car.  Car hits rail, rail gives way, car flips over cliff, and we're all in the back seat screaming our heads off as the jagged ocean rocks await us below.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Back In Florida For Another Round of Crazy Republican Gun-Loving

The first time I saw this online, even as a Floridian I was stunned the crazies running my state would even go this far.

The Florida Legislature has a bill that would make it easier for "Stand Your Ground" shooters to claim self-defense and make it even harder to prosecute them:

A key supporter of Florida's "stand your ground" law filed a bill Tuesday that would shift a burden of proof to the state in cases in which people argue they used force in self-defense.
The bill (HB 169), filed by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, came about two months after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that people who use "stand your ground" defenses have the burden of showing they should be shielded from prosecution. In such cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants are immune from prosecution under the law.
But Baxley's bill, which will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, would place the burden of proof on prosecutors in the evidentiary hearings. The bill said it is "intended to correct misinterpretations of legislative intent made by the courts" and would apply retroactively to pending cases.

Here's the You-Gotta-Be-F-CKING-KIDDING-ME part: the law makes it clear that the shooter will then get up to $200,000.00 back from the state for the "inconvenience" of being put through the trial process for "wrongful prosecution".


Now granted, the article columnist Scott Maxwell notes that the $200k provision is akin to a stalking horse/poison pill, something so odious to consider that the bill's backers can easily cleave it out as a "compromise" in order to win enough votes over to pass the true intent of the bill: To make it easier to get away with murder.

Still.  Do we pay back others suffering from wrongful prosecution, like people jailed for drug possession they never had, or for some poorly-applied warrant that ended up with the cops illegally charging them for "resisting arrest"?  I honestly want to know if we've got a system in place that automatically does that, 'cause I usually see that people who do get found out as wrongfully prosecuted have to file for damages and sit out another decade of court fights to get even pennies back for the years and lives lost.  Is this something legislators routinely consider in other crime "reforms"?

Because here's the scary thing.  WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY VOTE AND PASS ON THAT FULL BILL?  They don't take out that $200,000 "rebate"?

Because here's what happens if that payment stays in there: you're giving shooters a FINANCIAL reason to pull that trigger.

"Hunting Season" is the least offensive description you can make of this.

My God.  When I accuse gun-worshipers of converting the Second Amendment's provisions for well-regulated state militias into a free-for-all License To Shoot Anybody They Hate, this is what I'm pointing to.  This insane desire these gun-nuts have to make it not only easier to own guns but also easier to USE their guns under any excuse.

And now they want to get PAID to do it.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Jeb? Just Ain't Campaigning As the Smart One Anymore... (update)

(Update below)
In the wake of the tragic shooting in Oregon yesterday, the instinctive response for the gun-worshiper types is to argue that "no one could have predicted" the fact that we've got mass shootings on a near-daily basis.  Or even worse they would argue "if we had laws in place the bad guys would still get guns and kill people."

They love that second one.  Given most of the gun-worshipers are Far Right Republicans - I will grant there are a few librul tree-huggers who lock and load - that "regulating of guns" fits their Randian Libertarian narrative of "laws are too restrictive and government shouldn't be nagging us".

It's a script. It's been worked out for decades now.  For someone to go off-script would be a foolish and reckless endeavor...

Jeb Bush in South Carolina argued against calls for greater gun control on Friday, saying “stuff happens.”

...oh sweet f-cking Jebus.

Look, I'll admit I am not a fan of The Jeb*.  He's been on my "Oh Hell No" list since 1994 when he did something during his first (failed) gubernatorial attempt that personally offended me.  But for him to just flatly say "Stuff Happens" after a tragedy that claimed nine innocents and injured as many more, on a topic where more and more Americans are outraged by the inaction against gun violence...  It's the tone-deaf attitude he projects that is just killing his campaign.

If you watch the interview clip and the follow-up with the press, Jeb^ just isn't even in this, he's stammering and jumping around on his logic.

He even tries to bring up examples of "impulsive regulations" by arguing about safety fences around pools, as though keeping young children from drowning is a step too far.

Gawker even points out how bad an argument this can get for TEH SMART BUSH:

After challenging a reporter to tell him “what I said wrong,” The New York Times reports, Bush clarified that he meant “Things happen all the time. Things. Is that better?”
Not really, but that didn’t stop him from going into detail about what he meant by “Look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
“A child drowned in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around pools,” he said, “Well it may not change it. Or you have a car accident and the impulse is to pass a law that deals with that unique event. And the cumulative effect of this is, in some cases, you don’t solve the problem by passing the law, and you’re imposing on large numbers of people burdens that make it harder for our economy to grow, make it harder to protect liberty.”
A liberty-eroding, people-burdening law about pool fences is an oddly specific example. I wonder if any state has ever actually passed such a --
(quoting another source, the Sun-Sentinel from 2000) After the House voted 109-8 for the bill on Friday, Preston met Gov. Jeb Bush, who committed to signing a bill that requires new pool owners to pick a way to keep unsupervised children out of the water.
That's right, folks: Jeb# cannot remember the safety regs he himself signed as a Republican governor.  Granted, a lot of us can't even remember the breakfasts we had three days ago, but you'd think he'd have reviewed his own record somewhere and reminded himself "oh hey, here's a topic about government regulating I might wanna avoid later."

Here's another thing: that liberty-eroding law of putting up safety fences around pools happened to help contribute to a nine percent drop in fatal drownings overall, and for infants it dropped by 45 percent.

'Cause here's the weird thing about safety regulations: they are meant to save lives.  Hence the whole idea of "well-regulating" firearms as a safety issue for millions of Americans who DO NOT WANT TO GET SHOT.

For Jeb>< to bring up sensible regs as an argument against "liberty" - as though freedom requires risking life and limb for yourself or others on an hourly basis - is one of the dumbest things he could have done at an ill-advised time and using the worst talking points to do so.

Let's be honest, Republicans: Jeb? Bush is an overrated, stumbling moron.  He's starting to make Rick "Oops" Perry look like a Mensa member.

There's a reason why the Establishment candidate is polling in fifth place now in some polls.  Well, actually there's several: being an idiot is one of them.

Update: I've been seeing more comparisons of Jeb(ish) online today to a particular character on The West Wing:

The show got a lot of hype from the fact they predicted Barack Obama's win by basing Matt Santos on him.  At the time they created Bob Ritchie - a Florida governor - as Bartlet's opponent for the re-election cycle, the belief was that they based Ritchie on Dubya.  Who knew they had the Florida Bush brother and not the Texan one right all along?

When you look back on this Jeb, "Stuff Happens" is when a majority of Americans decided to kick your ass.

Insanity Is Repeating the Same Shooting Over And Over Again and Expecting a Safer Gun-Happy Result

Yet another shooting in a public place.  Yet another school where a classroom becomes a war zone.  Yet another week in the United States where the body count per year for our gun deaths rivals most civil wars raging in other countries.

Yet another moment for an exasperated Obama to step before the cameras just wondering when the hell Congress - and it IS the job of Congress to pass these laws - is going to do its job to make our public places ours again by enacting gun safety laws:

A visibly frustrated President Obama delivered remarks about the shooting Thursday night. Before he walked up to the podium, CNN said this speech was the president’s 15th on mass shootings since he took office.
“As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. “It's not enough.”

Yet another round of distractions about gun violence in the United States.  The gun-worshipers will likely argue about the need for more guns - which doesn't keep American safe - or argue for "good guys with guns" needed in our public places - ignoring evidence that it rarely helps and that the community college was a conceal-carry location.

Yet another realization that this nation has borne the pain of a mass shooting at least once a week:

Just remember, October only started this Thursday...
Are you horrified yet that the number in each colored box isn't the number of victims, it's the number of shootings across the nation...

Another realization that we are truly an insane nation, allowing the same thing to happen over and over and over again - the ease of access to guns by angry guys who can use those guns to kill far too many people - and allowing the Republican-led and NRA-owned Congress to DO NOTHING in the face of actual preventable deaths... The insanity of pretending maybe sooner or later things will improve, that maybe next time a good guy with a gun will finally save the day, or that the guns will jam, or that we'll someday run out of angry guys.

And while we're crying over the shooting in Oregon, there's been a mass shooting in Inglis Florida with three dead and one wounded... there's been other shootings across the nation in our cities and our towns...  All of which we could work to prevent if we had safety laws and better regulation of firearms.  But oh damn, we dare not say the dread phrase "well-regulated" because we'll hurt the NRA's collective feelings, and have them screaming "shall not infringe" as those words are the only ones that matter in that damned Second Amendment.

If you're calling me crazy about claiming the Second Amendment has been turned into a license to kill, you're ignoring the fact that for 180 years our nation did just fine following that amendment with harsh gun permit laws and regulations of use, with a focus on it honestly geared towards that concept of state militias.  But the NRA went batsh-t crazy in 1977 (wonder why) and their arguments about unregulated gun ownership dominates our nation and destroys basic common sense.

And now we're at the point where the Second Amendment is infringing on an even greater right: the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.  We can't anymore: not at our schools, not at our churches, not at shopping malls or movie theaters, not at the parks, not in our own damn homes.

I may not claim to be sane, but I am not crazy when it comes to wanting our nation and our communities to be safer.  More guns doesn't make us safe.  The Second Amendment no longer makes us safe.  Common sense regulations on gun ownership and sales do make us safe.

Every other nation on the planet that allow gun ownership have common sense regulations in place.  Their streets and schools do not run red with blood.

Ours do.  Is the United States as a whole that mad, that blind about guns?

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Democratic Debate Drinking Game for October 2015 Even Though The Election Is Still 2016 And All: The All's Fair In Love And Gwar Version

In the interests of fairness and balance, and in honor of this being the first month that the Democratic candidates for President will publicly face each other in the THUNDERDOME of... of... whadda ya mean, "no weapons"?  That's gonna put Hillary at a severe disadvantage...

Anyway, we've had excuses for Americans - and pretty much the whole galaxy - get drunk as they watched Republicans go batsh-t insane on stage trying to out-pander Trump each other.  Now we gotta watch the Democrats.  And while five of the six (official) candidates are relatively sane - I'm gonna make you "spot the loony" - there may well be a need to hit the bottles once or twice (or 108 times) during the slogfest.

Also wik, I will update this later to add links to any custom drinks or craft beers that my ally and co-conspirator Pinku-Sensei can put up on his Crazy Eddie Motie's News blog!

Update 10/9: Adding a few more rules here... turnout is picking up by the way, thanks for showing!

Update 10/10: At last.  Pinku-Sensei has a drink order in place for Hillary Clinton!  Together, we will cause much hangovers across the globe...

Follow-up to the Update: He's got the drink order in for Bernie Sanders now.  I think for Martin O'Malley he's gonna go for whatever Omar thinks is best.

Continuation of the Follow-up to the Update: And now he's got the drink order for Joe Biden in.  You can't stop Pinku-Sensei you can only hope to contain him!

That said, some of the rules from the previous drinking games I've set up for the Republicans still apply here, but I'll rehash:

  • No shirts
  • No shoes

...okay, serious now.  Here are the ground rules about drinking:

1. Respect your liver.  Have the decency to pass out before you drink to death.
2. Choose a designated driver to make sure you can get home safe.  Also have buckets and towels ready for any vomiting.
3. Get your declaration of love for your friendly toilet bowl done while you're sober.  Make sure the crawl path between your chair and that toilet is free of any sharp objects that can cut your kneecaps.
4. Even if you drink only water for this game, be aware that too much water is toxic.
5. Do not be surprised if something insane, insulting, and inconceivable not even covered by this drinking game happens during debate night.  Even with this being Democrats - the party that respects the electoral process - there are going to be moments where someone is going to cross a line to make an argument.

If anyone has suggestions for drinking rules regarding the Democratic round, I will consider and add them to this list.  Lemme rephrase this: If anyone has suggestions for rules regarding the Democratic roud that do not delve into conspiracy-driven fantasyland Fox Not-News talking points, I will consider and add.

So, here now for the CNN debate set in Las Vegas (!) for Tuesday October 13, 2015 is the DEMOCRATIC PRE-PRIMARY "2015 IS STILL TOO DAMN EARLY FOR THIS SH-T" DRINKING GAME.  (Notice: Updates are likely).

General Rules

  • If any candidate has to defend the Obama administration, take a drink.
  • If any candidate other than Hillary has to defend the Clinton administration, take a drink.
  • If any candidate has to defend the Jimmy Carter administration, shout "that's 40 years now" and take a drink.
  • If any candidate has to defend LBJ's Great Society and civil rights efforts, finish off a bottle and throw it at the screen.
  • If any candidate brings up income inequality as an issue, cheer and take a drink.
  • If any candidate brings up education reform that involves actually raising more money to pay for more and better teachers and more modern public schools, cheer and take a drink.
  • If you notice this rule-maker is a little biased about certain issues, take a drink.
  • If any candidate jokes about what happens in Vegas staying in Vegas, drink whole bottle if you are with the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and/or Tourism office.
  • If any candidate disappears and is later found working a slot machine feeding it coin after coin muttering "I can win this thing, I can win this thing", drink whole bottle.
  • If an Elvis Impersonator gets on the stage and provides valid arguments about issues during the debate, drink whole bottle and get that Elvis' agent to see if the guy will run for office.
  • If any of the candidates accidentally wind up getting married to each other in some wacky sitcom hijinks, drink whole bottle.
  • If Mulder and Scully show up asking what the candidates know about the nearby airbase, drink whole bottle.
  • If aliens show up asking the candidates about Mulder and Scully being in a relationship, cheer and drink whole bottle.
  • Update: If any candidate jokes about getting elected to the Presidency before House Republicans can even settle on a Speaker, take a drink.
  • Reminder I will add updated rules to any sensible suggestions, thank you.

And for the specific candidates, well there's currently only six - although everyone in the Beltway media keeps pining for the fjords uh Joe Biden - so this list is shorter than the Republicans.  Lessig is campaigning on the Democratic ballot but for some reason - is he below a cut-off line in the polling? C'mon, this is a smaller field, they can fit Lessig on-stage even if he's polling just six people total - he's not been invited (yet).

I'm still adding Biden though just for the sh-ts and giggles.  And if he declares before October 13 - like right at Monday October 12th 11:59 PM EST - CNN will consider him eligible.  Yes, the media is that desperate for a horse race.

Hillary Clinton

  • If Hillary enters the stage being carried by six of her handlers on one of those Egyptian royalty carts to the walk-up song "The Bitch Is Back," drink every bottle you got.
  • If Hillary reaches the podium and declares "KNEEL FOOLISH MORTALS FOR I AM YOUR OVERLORD", genuflect and take a drink.
  • If Hillary tries to laugh a little too eager before shredding the soul of the fool who dares question her, take a drink and avert your eyes before the bloodshed covers the screen.
  • If Hillary makes a valid point about how overblown the attacks on her character have been the last four eight  twelve twenty thirty forty years, take a drink.
  • If Hillary directly answers a moderator's question about Benghazi, take a drink.
  • If Hillary directly answers a moderator's question about Vince Foster, take a drink.
  • If Hillary refuses to dignify a moderator's question about the Lewinsky scandal, take a drink.
  • If Hillary mocks Trump, take a drink.
  • If Hillary gets asked about Jeb Bush and she replies "Jeb who?" cheer and drink whole bottle.
  • Update: If Hillary gets asked about the partisan nature of the congressional Benghazi committees, and she leans over the podium and shouts at the cameras "Hey How'd That All Work Out For Ya, McCarthy?" and laughs like a sadistic hyena, cheer and drink whole bottle.
  • If Hillary wins the evening as expected, slides on her sunglasses, checks her smartphone for texts and idly announces "Khaleesi out, bitches," drink whatever's left of your bottles.

Bernie Sanders

  • If Bernie ever gives off the vibe of being that absent-minded economics professor from your college courses, take a drink.
  • If Bernie talks about single payer replacing ObamaCare, bang your head against the nearest desk/counter and take a drink.
  • (Update) If Bernie points out that the size of the auditorium seating is smaller than most of the turnouts he's been getting at his campaigning events, take a drink.
  • If he shouts out halfway through the debate "Great Scott!  It's almost October 21, 2015!  I need to go warn Marty about this!" and hops into a nearby DeLorean with a flux capacitor and flies off, take three drinks in honor of the Back to the Future trilogy.

We're still waiting for our HOVERBOARDS, Doc!

Martin O'Malley

  • If anyone else quotes a line from the TV show The Wire to O'Malley's face, take a drink.
  • If the line is from Omar, mutter "A man gotta have a code" and take two drinks.
  • If O'Malley tries to hit Hillary on an issue, shout at the screen "Yo Bey you come at the queen you best not miss" and take a drink.
  • If O'Malley brings up his Irish background, refuse to drink.  Dammit, have some standards.

Jim Webb

  • If Webb's walk-up music is "In The Navy" by the Village People, take two drinks.
  • If Webb says "Semper Fi" at any point of the debate, pull out a silver dollar coin and slam it hard on the wooden table or bar in front of you and shout "Oo Rah".  Then take a drink.
  • If Webb challenges any person present to an honest-go-God wrestling fight, take two drinks and call the WWE for when the Pay-Per-View event is gonna be.
  • If Webb offers up a social conservative answer to a debate question, take a drink for each social conservative Democrat you know personally.  You may end up going thirsty, I know, but this is a rule. 

Lincoln Chafee

  • If Chafee gets confused for one of the lesser Republican candidates and told by the CNN moderators to wait outside, take a drink.
  • If Chafee has to defend the fact his state of Rhode Island is smaller than most American suburbs, avoid Beth Pizio's wrath and take a drink.
  • If Chafee brings up the fact that he's the only Republican (former) who voted AGAINST the Invasion  of Iraq 2003, take the beer bottle from the nearest Republican partier and take a drink from that bottle, then hand it back. If there are no Republicans near you, shrug it off.  If the Republicans near you already finished off their bottles, mock their existence.
  • If Chafee mentions the war, take a drink and act like John Cleese did in that episode of Fawlty Towers.

Lawrence Lessig

  • If Lessig even shows up, take a drink because it means someone at CNN or the DNC lightened up.
  • If Lessig talks about campaign reform, take a drink.
  • If Lessig talks about campaign reform, take another drink.
  • If Lessig talks about campaign reform, take another other drink.
  • If Lessig expresses realization on-stage that campaigning on a single-issue topic like campaign reform is going to limit the number of reasons for people to take a drink during the drinking games, drink whole bottle. 

Joe Biden

  • If Biden strolls on-stage in Ray-Ban sunglasses and a Stratocaster slung under one arm, take a shot of whiskey from that stash you rescued from CBGB, rock and roll and motherf-cking A.
  • If Biden gets to the podium and goes "This is a big f-cking deal," take two shots of whiskey.
  • Whenever Biden gives an answer that shows he can be a genuine alternative to poor Hillary, take a shot of bourbon.
  • If Biden commits a gaffe that still endears him to the Democratic voting base, take two shots of bourbon.
  • (Update) If Biden answers "We're not gonna build a wall at the border, we're gonna build a water slide!" that means he's reading this blog, so cheer and drink the whole bottle.

There you go, you fanatics of the freenets.  Again, if you've got any suggestions add them to the Comments below or tweet me at @PaulWartenberg


Do NOT Drink and Vote.  Even though the urge will tempt you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Killing the Florida Gerrymanders: September 2015 Edition

The slower-than-it-needs-to-be struggle over fixing the Congressional districts and eliminating those damned gerrymanders is circling the last leg of this twisted marathon, as per the Tampa Bay Times:

...Judge Terry Lewis will decide which of the seven maps proposed to him by the GOP-controlled House and Senate, or the variations on those maps drawn by the challengers, will emerge as the final political boundaries voters will see in the November 2016 elections...
...When lawmakers tried and failed to resolve their differences in an August special session, the court threw it back to Lewis, who had been supervising the case that has cost taxpayers more than $8 million for the last 3½ years.
The challengers, a coalition of League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida and a group of Democrat-leaning individuals, told the court in closing arguments that they agree with 20 of the 27 districts proposed in a staff-drawn base map but want the court to adopt their changes to the remaining districts.
Also changed is the fact that because lawmakers erred, they now have the burden of proof to show that the maps they have drawn do not violate the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution and comply with the guidelines set by the Supreme Court...

That last paragraph tells me that we may still see another round of bickering, this time from the Republican side of things who'll try to use the amendments to their advantage by nitpicking as much as possible to prolong and delay well into the 2016 election cycle, making it less likely we'll see better districts by that election cycle.

The desire to see the courts just f-ck with district drawings and just change the whole damn thing to Proportional seating would be sweet... but it would bring up the problem of actual judicial activism and legislating from the bench.  Then again, our actual legislators are not doing a damn thing.

I hope instead Judge Lewis dumps the Florida Republican Legislature maps into the nearest dumpster and go with a straight-out, easy-to-read map with streamlined, geographically sane, density-based districts we're supposed to have.

And thus endeth September.  Who's up for October to be any crazier?