Saturday, September 30, 2017

World-saving solutions and inspirations... and what's really in that tax bill

== Problem solving solutions ==

Contests to save the world? The MacArthur Foundation recently closed a competition called "100 & Change," which asks for proposals targeting specific problems on Earth. 

And now a new competition from the Global Challenges Foundation is calling for solutions to the world's most pressing problems, like conflict, climate change and extreme poverty. Registration for "A New Shape" is open until March 31.

The simple-minded genetic determinism of ignorant white nationalists is backfiring on them. They are getting genetic tests to prove how Caucasian they are, and very few of them are getting the results they expect. Anthropologist Raymond Firth wrote a long time ago that whenever two populations meet, they may or may not bleed, but they will most certainly breed.

This raises a potentially effective – and hilarious – way to combat these groups.  Show up at their rallies and hand out coupons for 23 & Me or…or some cheaper site… to get their haplotype inheritance markers tested.  At minimum, you’ll roil their pot, isolating the extreme racial purists and getting them acting hateful to many of their own recruits!  Even better, some of the marchers may get drawn toward both science and acceptance of complexity, plus identification with more than one simplistic (and actually nonexistent) “European” stock.  Heck, talk those Silicon Valley types into doing this in a test somewhere, then fund giving spit kits away at every rally!

== What the "Tax Bill" really is about ==

Gliding onward from "repeal and replace," now it's taxes. An architect of Republican Supply Side Economics reveals that he is sapient by admitting that evidence should change one’s mind. And evidence shows that Supply Side has always bee utter voodoo. Tax cuts for the rich have never - not once, ever- had any of the stimulative effects promised. And the Clinton tax increases led directly to the best growth since the 1970s.  Wealth transfers to the aristocracy are not invested in R&D or productive “supply” capacity - but instead inflate asset bubbles. Are you similarly sapient? Is your mad uncle?  “I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth.”

Moreover, GOP tax cuts always led to skyrocketing deficits. So, where are all the budget balancers and deficit hawks now?  See where I prove that (surprise!) it is always Democrats who are more fiscally responsible. What? You prefer your comfy cliches over actual evidence?

But let's be clear. Sure, every line of the new "tax bill" will benefit Trump and his fellow oligarchs, above all. Yes, Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. And other travesties. And your mad uncle who thinks these are ‘populists” is truly a jibbering, confederate loony. But the top goal of all Republicans, across every divide, has been to cancel out the Estate Tax… they call it the “Death Tax.” 

They know they’ll have to back off on some of their proposed middle class rapes and gifts to oligarchy, but that one will probably slip through, and there’s nothing more evil.  And it will slip through because half our neighbors have let themselves be suckered into fights over symbolism, like confederate statues, kneeling football players, and whether a “fence” can be upgraded into a “wall."

== Staunching the worst ==

Two bills introduced in August are designed to safeguard the independent prosecutor, whose investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has roused Trump's public and private frustration. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have proposed allowing a special counsel to contest any termination after the fact, while another bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) would require the Justice Department to seek judicial approval before any firing.

How silly!  Oh, sure, I am glad DP & GOP senators are recognizing the need to send DTrump a signal to leave the Mueller investigation alone. But in a BILL?  Where will you find the nineteen GOP senators willing to help 48 democrats to over-ride Trump’s inevitable veto?

As it happens, the Constitution has a provision that would let Congress - by simple majority - appoint an “other body” under the 25th Amendment that could do two things (1) make strong (though perhaps sub-binding) rulings about the President’s power to evade justice, and (2) issue - in conjunction with the Vice President, a temporary removal of presidential power. Elsewhere, I explain how this works.

== Art Inspires the Awakening of Our Union ==

With his new site, Woke Giant, Patrick Farley, the brilliant artist who did my Existence trailer and “Spiders” and First Word and so many other fantastic web comics, has been putting out incredible, moving posters to help inspire, as America wakes up again to the resurgence of confederate treason.

Meanwhlie... Blackwater's founder - Erik Prince - offers a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan.  Charging us just a few tens of billions/year and removing lawful supervision of conduct. In effect: "Let me handle things; just go back to your soaps and video games."  All right, that's my paraphrasing.  But no person - not even Rupert Murdoch - so personifies that effort, to shift America from an open-accountable and fact-using republic to an empire-oligarchy complete with mercenary armies, bread&circuses, a shift that the Romans went through with Caesar, and that Orson Scott Card extolled in his novel EMPIRE. (Indeed, a power transfer to unaccountable demigods that Card pushes in every single tale that he writes.) Watch for the other shoe to drop. Trump hinted that Afghanistan would have to start handing over mineral and other wealth (poppies?) presumably to Trump-Murdoch-Cheney connected companies.

Our parents in the Greatest Generation faced similar choices, as did their forebears in 1918, the 1870s and earlier.  For good reason (they knew more about this danger) they chose their favorite living human: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, instead of such monsters.

And monsters rise again... see Farley's image: You again? Stop the "Alt-Right" subtitled, "We beat 'em before. We'll beat 'em now." Though I would have given the loony-hateful romantics torches. Tiki torches. Tiki torches, fools? The fact-users that you hate got us to the Moon and Mars and Jupiter and Pluto, and are developing fusion power. You've chosen to wage war on all the folks who know stuff. How do you think that's going to turn out?

And while we’re on the power of art…

Don't Be a Sucker! is a short educational film produced by the U.S. War Department in 1943 and re-released in 1947. The film depicts the rise of Nazism in Germany and warns Americans against repeating the mistakes of intolerance made in Nazi Germany. It emphasizes that Americans will lose their country if they let themselves be turned into "suckers" by the forces of fanaticism and hatred. The film was made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces by simply revealing the connection between prejudice and fascism.

== political miscellany ==

This missive on Huffpost: Why Democrats Could Consider Registering Republican To Stop Trump” is a dumb version of my own earlier suggestion. Indeed, is it time to reconsider a mass migration of blacks and other minorities to Mississippi or Alabama? They are already almost 40%! Hey Amazon, set up shop there.

I could not care less about Louise Linton (Mrs. Secretary Mnuchin) and her tiff on Instagram.  Yes, she came across as a spoiled brat… though if you read her posting, I deemed it non-heinous. Bratty, but not as bad as reports.  No, what IS interesting is how this author on the NPR website-blog uses the non-event to riff onto “marginal disutility” in tax rates and to teach some interesting aspects about progressive taxation systems.

== Reflections ==

“He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.’  Donald Trump?  No. Look who.

“For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw wealth to itself by some means or other.”    – Edmund Burke (1780)

“Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution.”
      – Francis Bacon (De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum, 1623)

“That mankind as a whole shall become richer does not, of necessity involve an increase in human welfare.       – John Bates Clark

“Riches: The saving of many in the hands of one.”
                               – Eugene V. Debs

Those persons who comprise the independent classes are dependent upon two things: the industry of their fellow creatures; and injustice, which enables them to command it.
      – Based on John Gray (A Lecture on Human Happiness, 1825)

“No rich man is ugly.”
– Zsa Zsa Gabor

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's not left-vs-right, stupid. It is symbolism.

After a formal and erudite posting, let's relax and let our hairy opinions down to talk about lots of things... starting with symbolism.

Ah symbolism. It has always been of central importance to Republicans, who do very little else when in power. Take their obsession with the naming of Aircraft Carriers. (The other thing they do, of course, is hand over the nation's wealth to oligarchs. Hence their 21st Century affinity with Putin.) How ironic then, that U.S. conservatives style themselves as the hard-nosed, pragmatic bunch vs. wooly-headed, liberal idealism.

So what about all those Confederate statues that Donald Trump calls "beautiful"? New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu offers intelligent perspectives on the difference between remembering and revering historical figures.

What bugs me is the simplistic nature of all this. Hey, I am willing to parse a spectrum of confederate monuments, and Robert E Lee is way at the near end -- yes a rebel-traitor who owned slaves and tried to help dismember his country... but also representative of the one genuinely admirable virtue that the otherwise-horrifically-evil Confederacy could claim. Those virtues being (mostly) honorable battlefield courage and martial resilience. 

Those virtues were also displayed by Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Except for the "honorable" part. Unlike Lee, those two were pure sons-of-bitches, evil right down to their cores, and proved it repeatedly. 

Lee, in contrast, tried to control his army in ways that followed the letter and spirit of then-current codes of war. Moreover, he acted vigorously - in 1865 - to accept the offer of lenience made by Lincoln, and reciprocated by calling on all Southerners to "be good citizens" of the United States. That last bit -- staunching all calls for a guerrilla rising -- served the nation well enough to merit leaving a few effigies standing. A few street names in place.

(A side note: I've always thought Lee was over-rated as a general. He had one trick that he used - brilliantly and successfully - over and over... pounce on the flanks of a befuddled, lumbering, larger invading army. Aggressive, predatory defense. Yes, he was very good at that. But it did him zero good in his doomed-from-the-start Antietem and Gettysburg Campaigns. Moreover, when a general came along who shrugged that method off (Grant), Lee realized that he was doomed.)

If Forrest and Jackson had mostly yin, but a little positive martial yang, there's no justification for any hagiography of Jefferson Davis, whose image should be trampled far worse than Benedict Arnold (who actually saved the Revolution four times, before proving incompetent as a traitor.)

My conclusion? R.E. Lee could remain in statuary at public places if balanced by great heroes of progress and tolerance. The SOBs Jackson and Forrest should be sent to battlefields or parks run by the dizzy daughters of the confederacy, places where the topic is generalcy and no one interested in other things will have to deal with them. As for Davis's representations and most other confed monuments, that were erected in the 1920s and 1960s in order to scream white power? They should be chiseled to dust. And I include Stone Mountain. 

But thanks guys. This is rousing the Union, at last. 

== Farewell White House Science Office ==

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was one of our jewels. Normally, OSTP had about 60 staffers, to help assist WH personnel in creating fact-grounded policy. President Obama expanded it well past 100, bringing in loads of question-asking consultants and speakers… like yours truly (twice in 2016 alone). “The size of the office under the Obama administration reflected Mr. Obama's "strong belief in science, the growing intersection of science and technology—” reports CBS News.

Beyond advising the President on scientific discoveries and their implications for national policy, OSTP was involved in encouraging breakthroughs in STEM education and re-igniting a generation of skilled programmers. Heading OSTP was the Presidential Science Adviser, a position generally filled by some of humanity’s sharpest minds.

All of that is over. President Trump has attrited the Science Office of OSTP to zero… that’s zero staff to consult with West Wing policy makers over anything scientific or related to science. OSTP as a whole is down to a couple of dozen placeholders.

Elsewhere, I wrote about David Gelernter, who seemed a front runner for the Science Adviser post, under Trump. A bizarre and polemically-driven person, Gelernter apparently would have been far too scientific for this White House. Perhaps they sensed that he would be capable - in extremis - of saying the hated phrase: “um… sir... that’s not exactly true.”

That, after all, was the criminal offense of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which was banished by Newt Gingrich in 1995 for giving honest answers. And the fate now apparently destined for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for similar treasons against dogma.

It is this fevered spite against all fact-users that makes our current civil war completely unrelated to the old-hoary-lobotomizing “left-right” political “axis.” When all outcomes and metrics of U.S. health and yes, economics and capitalism do vastly better under democrats, fact users become Enemy #1.  And that’s all fact-users, now including even the FBI, the Intelligence Community and the U.S. Military Officer Corps. (Look up the term “deep state” to see how the mad right is justifying attacking even them!)

Fans of the movie “Idiocracy” - and die hard confederates - may openly avow wishing for this rise of the know-nothings.  But your conservative aunt might be swayed to pull away from this madness, if you dare her to name one profession of folks who actually know stuff that is not under open attack by her crazy husband and his ilk.

She knows she will need skilled people, from time to time.  Even if he convinces himself that fact-people are all satanic.

== Why didn’t Obama speak out? ==

The ability of our confederate neighbors to concoct excuses for the plantation lords seems to have no limits. Now that it’s openly admitted and proved that the Trump family, the Trump campaign manager and the GOP leadership all actively salivated over and sought Russian help, the new Fox line is “why didn’t Obama speak up?”

Now we know why. Because Obama did try to negotiate with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on a joint statement deploring any foreign meddling, in compromise language that would be non-partisan. It was the president’s job to be cautious and judicious and not leap to yell. (Remember those days?) What was their response?

McConnell threatened Obama that if he even mentioned the “Russia Thing” in public, the GOP leadership would accuse Obama of election meddling. No matter how much FBI and CIA evidence was presented to those two, the response was the same. In other words, outright, deliberate, partisan treason.

From Scout: "James Clapper, Former Director of U.S. National Intelligence, and John Brennan, Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum about Trump, Russian hacking, and national security. The entire hour-long conversation is a must-watch, remarkable for the candor and urgency expressed by two world-class intelligence minds.

Said Clapper: “One of the things I’ve recommended to the Senate Intelligence Committee is that maybe there should be a requirement in the future that before all presidential and congressional elections, 120 days before, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the FBI should say what’s the state of cyber intrusions that are designed to compromise the integrity of the electoral system,” Clapper suggested.

Clapper, of course, was referencing the tension the Obama administration faced between sharing what it knew about Russian interference with U.S. citizens and being perceived as trying to throw the election for Hillary. But while the U.S. may have been the most prominent example of international hacking designed to skew the outcome of its election, it certainly will not be the last.

Oh, but more and more grows clear. I have wondered for some time where’s been the reporting on Donald Trump’s mob connections. What? You are shocked? Shocked that a casino owner and slumlord, involved in international money laundering might have been in business with shady characters? Let’s be clear about this.  The sanctions against Russia that Putin and his Kremlin are angriest about are the ones specifically targeting money launderers. See Trump's Russian Laundromat, from The New Republic.

== Count the vote honestly ==

California officials have gone to the big Defcon hacker convention challenging the best to test security of votingsystems and ensure fair elections. You’ll find no representatives from red states. The top qualification to be the Republican Secretary of State is how eagerly and effectively you support gerrymandering, voter denial, rigged voting machines, plus “losing” thousands of registrations just before every single election.  Your Republican neighbors won’t even deny this, anymore.  They are proud of it, the confederates.

Which leaves the democrats as honest… but stupid.  The response to Trump’s “Voter Fraud Commission” should not be “there’s no voter fraud!”

It should be: “There have been almost no examples of fraudulent voting, but plenty of cheating by red state officials.  So here’s the deal. We’ll go along with your ‘investigation…’ plus gradually ramping up voter ID… in exchange for —

— a full appraisal of the nation’s voting machines.

— an end to the blatantly criminal and treasonous cheat called gerrymandering. See my proposed 3-sentence solution.

Make it an offer of a fair deal. "We'll address your concerns - like undocumented voters or dead people shambling to the polls - if you'll help stop the treasonous cheats of your side.

For the Dems to fail to express their objections in this positive and assertive way is just dumb.

So, sure, one side is more honest, caring and fact-based. But it’s still hell-bent on Idiocracy.

== Newsletters vs blogs == 

The world of “newsletters” is kind of elitist, in that they cost subscription fees - often paid by your employer - if you are high enough in the company to extort it. I have been urged to shift from blog mode to a newsletter, that could then help pay college bills!  But the tradeoffs are harsh:

1. Subscriptions to their newsletters can keep very smart people in business, doing their research, preparing solid reports. (Full disclosure: I get many of my newsletter subscriptions for free.)

2. But subscriptions limit the number of readers — and hence your immediate influence in changing things. Though you may be zeroing in on an elite.

Among the best and most important newsletters would be Mark Anderson’s Strategic News Service. Mark is a brilliant forecaster with one of the best, big picture views of how technological change sweeps through our certainties in business, science and the real world. SNS also runs the annual Future in Review (FiRe) conference.  If I time this posting right, it will come out while I am at this year's FiRe!

Among many other things, Mark has been the most powerful voice denouncing and revealing the devastating effects of tech-spying and IP theft, which are destroying the ability of Americans to keep paying for the trade deficits that have uplifted the entire developing world. This shortsightedly rapacious predation of western (especially Californian) creativity proves that the mercantilist powers are not as smart as they think they are.

Here’s a link to the opening of an SNS newsletter — a 2-parter written by one of Mark’s top Asian analysts — and I hope some of you will talk your company into purchasing you access.  Because this could be among the most important series that you read, when it comes to international affairs and trade.

Indeed, it reveals how extremely aggressive things have become, as we (via cheap WalMart imports) finance cultural and commercial and conceptual war against our very societal underpinnings.

(Often there are side routes to peeking in at these newsletters. Take this important example on Chinese business practices.  And this YouTube of a Mark Anderson talk on the problem, one of the biggest that our civilization faces.)

My newsletter subscriptions range from the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies to the Lifeboat Foundation to John Mauldin’s investment letter to George Friedman’s strategic overview.  In all such cases, ranging from left to right, I have a reputation as a challenging gadfly… hey, it’s my role in life!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The “Minimal Overlap” Solution to Gerrymandered Injustice

...Another generative idea that could not find a home in any media...

Gerrymandering has reached a point of such outrageous blatancy that it seems likely the US Supreme Court will have another look, soon. This NewYorker article dissects the problem, describing some new insights from logic and mathematics that might help the Court better to understand a foul practice that has warped and partly-stolen American democracy. A lot has changed since Justice Kennedy provided the deciding “we can’t see a way to do anything about it” vote, roughly a decade ago.

As I describe elsewhere, voters in many “blue states” have rebelled against their own Democratic politicians, ending gerrymandering via ballot measures.  Hence, with a few dismal exceptions - like Maryland and Illinois - this cheat has become ever-more associated with the Republican Party.

Ideally, solutions should come from negotiated legislation. When power abuse is generated by legislatures themselves, courts must step in. Hence, aware that losing this battle may end their lock on power, attorneys of the right argue that no alternative is intrinsically fair – including “impartial commissions.” Moreover courts are reluctant to interfere with state sovereignty.

Why did Justice Kennedy opt for the status quo, last time? Even in the face of blatant injustice, judges like to have two things:

* A simple, unambiguous metric that proves actionable harm. 

* At least one clean and simple remedy they can point to as an example.

The first requirement has been provided recently by an elegant standard of “voter efficiency.”  

But for the Court to articulate a workable remedy limiting gerrymandering, what’s needed is a fallback solution that is inarguably better than the present state of affairs - one that can be ordered if a state proves unable to devise a fair and impartial redistricting process on its own. To resolve Justice Kennedy’s dilemma, I will propose a solution so simple that it can be expressed in three sentences.

Here are those three sentences:


1. With allowances for contorted state borders, like Maryland’s panhandle, the districts that are drawn for State Assembly, State Senate and Congress shall meet a basic compactness standard, not falling below a reasonably generous area-to-perimeter ratio limit set by the court.

2. On advice from a non-partisan and unbiased commission, the State Legislature may assign boundaries to the districts of the State Assembly however they see fit.

3. Once those State Assembly boundaries are set, the drawing of boundaries for State Senate and Congressional districts will be computer-generated with the core provision that they must have MINIMAL OVERLAP with each other and with the State Assembly districts, sharing as few voters as practically possible.

There you have it. Three sentences. I’ve offered this suggestion for a decade and I promise that (alas) you’ll find it nowhere else. But what does it mean?

It means that the State Legislature may, if they choose, ignore the ‘neutral commission’ and connive, jigger or gerrymander districts for one house — the State Assembly — limited by some basic rule of compactness. But provision #3 ensures that the districts for State Senate and Congress will be utterly different. The more carefully the legislature’s majority partisans gerry-rig one house, the less effective will be their efforts in the other two.

The chief aim of gerrymander-cheating — to achieve government dominance by the most rabid of hyper-partisans — will be devastated and then grow weaker, over time.

 ==  Illustrating the Minimal Overlap concept ==

For some reason, the notion of minimal overlap seems obvious to some people, while others find it difficult to grasp. So let’s try using illustrations.

Sentence/provision #1 takes care of the worst, egregious cases, illustrated in our first figure.
As Figure 1 shows, a large fraction of gerrymander travesties would be eliminated by a compactness rule, setting upper limits to perimeter-area ratios. This limit can be fairly generous, since the rest of the solution happens through minimal overlap.

In Figure 2 we present a strawman set of six State Assembly districts that are (for the sake of simplicity) highly compact.

Let’s assume that the state legislature has, under rule #2, but limited by the compactness rule #1, arranged these assembly districts to maximize gerrymander benefits for the majority party.

Now, in our third illustration, let’s overlay districts for State Senate. These are required – under the court-ordered remedy of MINIMAL OVERLAP to be computer-optimized so that each senate district shares as little territory and as few voters as possible with any one assembly district.

Assuming the compactness rule is enforced, and that Senate districts are truly drawn according to provision #3, then Minimal Overlap – also called “anti-nesting” -- means that the political character of the Senate will not be warped by gerrymandering. Citizens who were disenfranchised before will likely get attention and an effective vote, in at least one chamber.

The districts for Congress, presumably larger, will nevertheless be kept off-kilter from the gerried State Assembly districts. The party in power will thus only get to have one chamber warped by self-serving, partisan political cheating.

Moreover, even if this method has flaws, it is a clear limiting case that deprives the courts of any “we see no clear remedy” excuse. For all its faults, Minimal Overlap is palliative, equitable and enforceable. It also gives a nod to state sovereignty and legislature privilege, by allowing the legislature to continue complete, discretionary control over one chamber, while the other two are set by a neutral computer reacting to their assembly boundaries.

== Arguments against Minimal Overlap ==

One objection that opponents to such a solution will assert is that voters should be represented by “communities of interest.” For example, one of the commonly used excuses for gerrymandering is that contorted arrangements are necessary in order to ensure that minority populations get some representatives who are of their ethnic persuasion.

There are two, decisive answers:

(a) The “communities of interest” argument is served by having one of three chambers divided that way. So long as those communities of interest are firmly ensconced and represented in one chamber, there is no inherent need for duplication. This is an original merit of bicameral legislatures.

In fact, there are strong arguments in favor of voters facing different coalition needs, in different houses.  Why should their Assembly, State Senate and Congressional delegates be clones of each other?  Apportioned one way — say in the Assembly — the community of interest might map onto national political parties, or else be optimized for ethnic representation. But mapped orthogonally in another house, entirely different matters of community interest — based on geography, markets, or some other basis — might come to the fore. State Senators will discuss different priorities at their town hall meetings than Assembly members, to the benefit of political problem-solving.

Anyway, a state senator who must negotiate among multiple constituencies and interests will be a busier one, and possibly one who achieves a lot more to break down our divisions.

(b) This method is a fallback, intended to persuade the Supreme Court that gerrymandering can be solved intrinsically, in a simple fashion that is inherently more fair than the present, biased-partisan cheating. And what could be simpler than three sentences?

Under the Minimal Overlap method, voters who now feel completely disenfranchised in all ways and in all chambers will thereupon very likely see their position improved. They will gain a chance that at least one of their three representatives will be someone who heeds their concerns. That is an improvement and a palliation of harm, and one that is far from arbitrary.

Voters thus would be guaranteed some relief from a conspiratorial injustice, in a fashion that is simple to execute. States may opt for some other method to eliminate the injustice. Many already have. But this method provides a backstop ensuring that the worst, most pervasive effects of gerrymandering will end.

== Implications of Minimal Overlap ==

Notice one “judo” aspect of this approach — that it allows hyper-partisans to have their way - somewhat - for a while, in one house. This might lessen resistance to reform by the most fundamentally powerful entities in American political life, state assembly members. It also splits away the self-interest of State Senators, reducing their motivation for hyper-partisanship - which is a desirable outcome in its own right.  Why should Assembly members and Senators connive together? Vive la difference!

Moreover, as State Senate and Congressional delegations become more moderate and less partisan, they will then tend to pressure the State Assembly to damp down its own cheating and partisanship.

The Court should also be made aware of the effect that impartial redistricting has had in many blue states and a few purples. While California remains dominated by the Democratic Party, impartial redistricting and other reforms (e.g. non-party primaries) have resulted in less bitterness between parties, not more. Less acrimony. Even in districts that wind up heavily Democratic or Republican, voters who are members of the minority party now feel more listened-to than before.

Earlier I mentioned that Illinois and Maryland and few other Democrat-dominated holdouts still outrageously gerrymander. Former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have specifically targeted these states, arm-twisting state legislators to end gerrymandering. When those Democratic Party holdouts comply, this horrifically blatant cheat and crime will be seen as an odious offense perpetrated primarily by just one party against the citizens of this great nation.

Nevertheless, the best solution will come from the Supreme Court, whose past reluctance must be met with a web of logic that allows no escape or wriggle room for Justices Roberts, Alito and especially Kennedy, erasing their earlier excuses for inaction. Minimal Overlap can serve as a example of a backstop remedy that’s simple, fair, and undeniably better than the outrageous status quo.


                     Cross-posted on Medium. 


David Brin is a scientist, tech speaker/consultant, and author.  His novel about our survival in the near future is Existence.   A film by Kevin Costner was based on The Postman.  His 16 novels, including NY Times Bestsellers and Hugo Award winners, have been translated into more than twenty languages.   Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and the world wide web.

Dr. Brin serves on the external advisory board of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC). David appears frequently on shows such as Nova and The Universe and Life After People, speaking about science and future trends. He has keynoted scores of major events hosted by the likes of IBM, GE, Google and the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies.

His non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association.    (Website: )

The Supreme Court case that could shift how Americans vote rests on a simple math equation, Lola Fadulu, Quartz. 2017       

FINAL NOTE: I tried taking this article every media outfit I could find. It's blatantly original and interesting and potentially of real value. When even the "good" outlets are rigidly exclusive, saving all slots for pals, nepotism and established old-farts, we are crippled as an imaginative, problem-solving society.