Archive for September, 2017

Worthless argument by Grofman and Gaddie for Gill v Whitford

September 29, 2017

Gill v Whitford is the Wisconsin redistricting case where Democrats try to use the concept of an “efficiency gap” to demand States be gerrymandered in a pro-Democrat way.

The basic problem the Democrats face is that a large % of Democrats live in geographically compact areas where they’re a large majority of the total residents.  As such, non-gerrymandered districts, ones that are compact and honor natural (rivers, hills, forests, etc), physical (highways, railroad tracks, etc), and political (city limits, county lines, school districts & other social boundaries) boundaries, tend to result in districts where Democrats either have 70%+ of the vote, or else 45%-.  In response to this, the Democrats developed the “efficiency gap” (better called the “misery gap”, since the goal is to have 49.99% of voters stuck with a Representative they don’t like), basically an attempt to demand proportional representation rather than the first past the post way that Americans do our elections.

Chris Winkelman and Phillip Gordon do a wonderful job taking apart the idiocy (with a bonus reference to SNL’s hilarious “The Bubble” skit). However, Bernard Grofman and Ronald Keith Gaddie have filed an Amicus brief with an argument so bad I feel the need to take it apart.

They start with a doozy of a claim:

Modern, computer-driven redistricting now al- lows the political party in power to craft extremely sophisticated partisan gerrymanders. With vastly improved computer speed, memory, and storage, map drawers can design district lines so precisely that they simultaneously maximize their party’s gains and eliminate most competitive districts—ensuring that the party in power enjoys an electoral advantage that endures throughout the following decade, irrespective of voters’ subsequent choices.

There’s a very large problem with this.  The computer power and storage capacity available to us now, compared to the (less than) 300 million data points known as American voters, is not significantly better than the power and storage capacity available to a State government, Legislature, or political Party in 2000 – 2001.  Pretty much everything of value to a gerrymandering program will fit into ~1KB per individual, which means you can fit the entire country into less than 1/2 a terabyte.  So what people will be able to do in 2021, or were able to do in 2011, is not significantly better than what they could do in 2001.  But in 2006 and 2008, the voters’ subsequent choices changed, and as a result the Democrats took control, and kept control, of both the House and the Senate.

So this claim, fundamental to their thesis, is utter garbage.

Their thesis is this:

The Court should adopt a test for unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that re- quires a showing of three specific elements: partisan asymmetry, lack of responsiveness, and causation.

All three a worthless.

1: Partisan Asymmetry

 

The first element, partisan asymmetry, is based on the idea that a citizen’s representational rights must not depend on the party with which he chooses to affiliate. Unlike a claim that the plaintiff is entitled to a specified number of seats, an asymmetry standard requires only that the parties and their supporters receive equal treatment—that they have like opportunity to translate their votes into representation. Thus, if Party A would garner, say, 60% of the seats when it wins 53% of the votes, Party B should also garner about 60% of the seats when it wins 53% of the votes. If it would not, partisan asymmetry is present.

You may very well have a Constitutional right to live how you want.  What you do not, can not, and should not have is a Constitutional right to live without consequences.  If a large number of Democrat voters are eager to live in places where 80% of their neighbors agree with them, that’s their choice.  But the proper result of that is that 37%+ of their votes are going to be “wasted” when voting for a Representative, because rational redistricting will put those city residents into districts made up of other like city residents.  It’s only a corrupt partisan gerrymander that would match up some of those city residents with suburban residents who are not so ideologically monochromatic.

But that’s what’s required in order to not have “partisan asymmetry” in districts, when there’s “partisan asymmetry” in how people chose to live.

2: Lack of Responsiveness

The second element, lack of responsiveness, screens out cases where the political process can provide a remedy.  It examines whether a map is responsive to shifts in voters’ allegiances, such that any disparate effect on voters is unlikely to persist throughout the decade following redistricting.

The problem with this fantasy is that it’s only provable in the negative, after the fact.  Did the incumbent Party lose a “safe seat”?  Guess it wasn’t safe.  While the authors provide this claim:

Based on historical data—how much voters’ preferences swung in prior elections—experts can identify the full range of realistically possible election outcomes (vote shares) and then determine how many legislative seats, if any, would change hands in response to a comparable change in voters’ choices.

The problem being that populations change, people change, circumstances change.  In an era where Donald Trump and David Brat hold elective office, no reasonable person can believe that “experts” can actually tell us what the election results will be next month, let alone 8 years later.

I found this line especially humorous:

There is consensus among social scientists that three discrete concepts are critical to detecting and measuring the extent of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander

There is consensus among sane people that 80%+ of “social scientists” are Democrats or to the Left of Democrats.  The only thing their consensus about X “proves” is that the Left wants X.

The authors further go on to claim:

First, the newest, computer-driven redistricting now allows map drawers to make very precise refinements to district lines down to the census-block level. With this sophisticated new technology, map drawers can fashion maps that eliminate meaningful competition for most districts. See McGann et al., supra, at 87 (“[A]rmed with modern geographical information system software and an absence of judicial constraints, it is possible to engineer so much advantage that [a map can] satisfy both … goals” of “seat maximization and incumbent protection.”).

A: They’ve been gerrymandering down to the census block level for decades.

B: “Seat maximization” and “incumbent protection” are diametrically opposed goals.  You want “incumbent protection”?  Then you want your Party’s seats to have enough “extra voters” that even in a bad year your guy still wins.

You want “Seat maximization”?  Then you want your voters spread as thinly as possible, so that you’re winning nine districts 51 – 49, rather than seven districts 55 – 45.  The issue is not “what will those godlike computers let the evil gerrymanderers do?”  The issue is “which do you value more, SM or IP?”  If “gerrymandered victory margins are no longer so thin that they risk disappearing”, it’s not because of computers, it’s because the people doing the redistricting in 2011 had less appetite for risk than did the 2001 redistricters.

 

3: Causation

Causation means that the partisan asymmetry is a result of invidious discrimination, not neutral factors or chance…. That is, we must compare the map’s disparate effects against a neutral baseline.

Reality check: any time humans are doing redistricting, they’re going to be trying to get an advantage for their side.  So either this test always “fails” the redistricters, or the purpose of this is to let partisan judges find “bad faith” in gerrymanders they don’t like, and “good faith” in ones they do like.

 

 

Implementation

The authors claim “The analytical tools for evaluating partisan asymmetry, lack of responsiveness, and causation have also dramatically improved since Bandemer, Vieth, and LULAC.”  They are wrong.  The test of partisan asymmetry is worthless so long as Democrat voters cluster, and Republican voters don’t.  It’s also worthless so long as the Voting Rights Act is interpreted to require “majority minority” districts that can elect Democrat “minority” candidates.

Moreover, new measures of asymmetry developed after LULAC rely on no “hypothetical” counterfactual at all. For example, the average-median difference is “a simple measure of asymmetry or skewness … [with] well-defined mathematical properties.” Wang, Three Practical Tests, supra, at 372. The average-median difference compares each party’s actual vote share in its median district to its average actual vote share across all districts. If the party’s median vote share is significantly lower than its average vote share, partisan asymmetry is at work.

Yes, because Democrat voters are clustered, and you expect the city districts to be more unbalanced than the non-city ones.

We continue to believe that experts can reliably assess the responsiveness and asymmetry of a newly enacted map by projecting the results of recent past statewide races onto the new district lines, especially in light of current extraordinarily high levels of partisan polarization.

Reality disagrees.  To quote from Winkelman and Gordon:

In the 2016 general election, there were 12 Democratic members of Congress who won election in districts where Trump won the vote. Similarly, there were 23 Republican members of Congress who won in districts where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

And that’s the core problem with all this.  Candidates matter.  “Experts” do not.  You want to require districts with certain levels of compactness, etc?  Great!  I’m all for it.

But the rest of their program is pure BS.

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A response to National Lawyers Guild, Penn Law Chapter

September 11, 2017

The National Lawyers Guild, Penn Law Chapter, got their panties in a wad over Professor Wax pointing out the obvious fact that not all cultures are created equal, and that bourgeois culture is superior to most.

I wrote the following reply.  Being the kind of Marxist thugs that try to destroy someone’s life for disagreeing with them, I’m sure they won’t post it. So here it is:

While we do not challenge Professor Wax’s right to express her views, we question whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course.

If you are that bad at logic, you must be horrible lawyers.

Which is rather sad, since you are clearly also horrible people.

By attempting to get Professor Wax fired for her views, you are indeed “challeng[ing] Professor Wax’s right to express her views”. Which every single person with a functioning brain understands.

What every single person with a functioning brain ought to also understand is that your attempt to establish that only left-winger may teach, is going to end with Republicans destroying all government support for “education”, since there’s absolutely no reason for us to give money to thugs (you’re advocating firing someone for disagreeing with you. That’s the definition of a thug) to indoctrinate people in evil “values”.

How stupid DO you have to be not to realize that?