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February 27, 2009 04:37 PM UTC

Friday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

–Baba Dioum


66 thoughts on “Friday Open Thread

  1. Redistricting will soon be upon us.  So I have a question for you.  Would you be willing to lose partisan advantage in the state of Colorado by redistricting EVERY district (state and federal) competitively instead of carving out perpetually “safe” seats?

    It seems to me one of the ways to change politics at all levels is to actually make the politicians fight for their seat every cycle.


    1. Until we get more competitive races, we in Colorado Springs will always be burdened with a Lamborn or a Schultheis.

      Wouldn’t it be great if the local primary voters knew that if they were nominating nut jobs, that they stood a real chance of losing their “safe seat”?

      I’m sure there are some democrats who would like to see more moderate voices within their own party also.

    2. I think the only 2 criteria is to maximize the number of competitive districts and to keep the borders of each district geographically sane. The idea of making a district such that most voters in each have a common view doesn’t work, because you don’t get a candidate who matches the district in general, you get one who is much further right/left because of who votes in the primary.

    3. Frankly I think that an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to that effect would be great.  Unfortunately it would have the same chance as a spitball in hell of getting past our established political class.

    4. The competitiveness or non-competitiveness of a district is secondary to the logical of the boundaries to me. Of course, the people who are actually responsible for doing the redistricting are going to be very partisan mpotivated so it is an uphill battle to keep boundaries sane.

      I have already begun doing some serious number crunching in anticipation of redistricting. Of course those numbers are subject to accurate counting by the Census so are likely to not be what we actually use. So everything else I say is with the caveat that Census counting and reality are not very similar. These districts are based on numbers that are based on the best indications of reality that I could quantify.

      In any event I have been able to draw up a congressional district map that keeps every county whole except Arapahoe (CD1 is larger than one county but big enough to be two whole ones). The only real political shocker (and it is a big one) of this map is that Pueblo and El Paso Counties are in the same district which then becomes competitive with a slight GOP advantage in registration. The map ends up being 2 safe Dem districts (1 & 2), 1 safe GOP district (6), 1 mostly safe safe GOP district (4), and 3 totally competive districts (3,5,7).

      Then I took the Senate Districts and was able to fit exactly 5 SD’s in each Congressional District (7 CD’s, 35 SD’s, 5×7=35) and again with very few partial counties in a district (the bane of my existence!).

      I am just getting started with HD’s so I’d have to report back on that later. My intention is to hang on to these plans until the Census is done and see if they still work numerically. If they do I will be working hard to build support for logical redistricting and try to convince the legislature/redistricting commission to adopt this, or a similarly thought out, plan.

      1. But I believe my own CD is fairly balanced and would not want to see it tipped to give the extremist loons of Mesa County an advantage.  We’ve been represented by R’s and D’s with Congressman Salazar now.  If you are stealing Pueblo to balance El Paso, you would probably be unbalancing CD3 unless you make it up by an offset.  Understanding that El Paso may need more balance, it should still not be done at the expense of CD3.  There are greater populations north of El Paso which could bring more balance.

        1. .

          each CD should have about 715,000, on average.  

          If the county is kept intact, you can only add on about 50,000 before the imbalance in # of persons in each District gets out of whack.  

          If you strip off Chaffee, Lake, Fremont, Park and Teller counties from the current CD-5, you can only add about half of Pueblo.  Or a fraction of Douglas County to the North.  

          But hey, if it disenfranchises conservatives, the end will justify the means, huh ?


          1. I based my numbers on the most recent calculations from the Census bureau (July 08). For split counties I had to do a little extrapolation based on info gathered from County Clerks. Thankfully there are not many of them, because that is a mathematical headache!.

            They have El Paso at 561,913 and Pueblo 156,087 for a total 718,000 (yes it actually adds up to an even thousand!).

            They have the population of Colorado at 4,939,456. Divide that by 7 to get an ideal CD size, which is 705636.

            El Paso and Pueblo combined are 1.75% more than the ideal. For my plans, I used a +/- 2% as an acceptable range for districts to fall into.

    5. but I think it’s a silly idea. Congressional races are every two years. A decent campaign takes at least a year, and for an open seat up to two. Your proposal would basically have politicians perpetually campaigning, leaving them no time to learn how to actually do their jobs, or really distinguish themselves in any way.

      Look at the people who get the most done in the House. People from swing districts? Not so much; they’re just trying to keep their heads above water, and can’t ever do anything big or principled for fear it might alienate voters in their districts (particularly since their opponents, under your scheme, will always be looking for any angle to attack them).

      Besides, how would your districts be fundamentally different? Right now you have a problem of carving out “safe” districts in weird ways. OK, nobody likes that, it’s ugly. But how are you going to carve up Denver so that it’s a competitive district? Don’t you think Denver is a district on its own because the people who live there have more or less common interests and views? Do you want a district that takes eastern Denver and extends out to the farming areas of eastern Colorado?

      It’s Supreme Court doctrine that districts be as compact as possible to still represent constituents with common interests. People with common interests tend to vote for the same party. Places like Boulder, Denver, and yes Colorado Springs will not reasonably represent their constituents if you tear them into bits for some artificial notion of partisan equality.

      1. I take great solace in the fact that nothing significant will happen around redistricting because it’s such a dumb crusade.

        Truly competitive districts will separate actually communities of interest…that’s just not fair.  There’s no reason whoever represents Denver should also represent a bunch of ranchers in the interest of competition.  

    6. Sarasota has had a city council of three districts and two at large seats, mayorality rotating amongst them.  This is since 1985 so that Newtown, historically home of blacks, had a minority commissioner.

      For the third time in ten years, the business and developers have a “strong mayor” item on the ballot.  But it’s not so much a strong mayor decision as it is to add two “at large” commissioners.  It would possibly, and even probably, permit four commissioners in the same general area, plus the mayor.  The latter is supposed to “work with” the city manager.  I.e., interfere.

      Let’s hope that the citizens put the kabosh on this package once again.

      BTW, we live in the minority district.  Too bad the guy is a jerk, nothing to do with his race.  Just a jerk.  

    7. I would support creating districts that follow natural boundaries.  Some will be competitive and some won’t.  How are you going to get a competitive district that includes Denver unless you have long snaky districts?

        1. that completely fail to accurately represent the majority of their residents…  Typical voter turnout in the current 1st is lower than in the current 6th…you’d be giving them two republican members of congress…

        2. Cutting Denver in half just so Diana DeGette has to run a competitive election makes no sense, and would probably be struck down by the Supreme Court as soon as it was challenged.

        3. And it was not sane when it was done last time.

          The carving up of Jeffco and Araphoe to make present-day CD’s 6 and 7 was an abomination in my view. Each of these two counties has at least 3 CD’s in them and neither of them is big enough to be a CD by them selves.

          That is the madness I was to see left behind.

          Redistricting should be based on the following criteria:

          equal number of inhabitants

          follow county boudaries

          within a county, follow city boundaries

          within a city, follow neighborhood boundaries (or major thoroughfares if formal neighboohods don’t exist)

          Furthermore, the population of present-day CD6 has grown much more thab present-day CD1, so adding the two together and divide by 2 does work mathematically.

      1. Used top be Chris Rock’s writing partner back when he had his HBO show. He’s one of the funniest comedians out there right now.

        I highly recommend his stand-up DVDs, and his short-lived HBO show “Lucky Louie”. It was a sitcom that had the feel of the 50s and 60s sitcoms, only extremely dirty. Some truly funny stuff.

  2. from the Denver Post

    State Sen. Dave Schultheis said he has no regrets Thursday, one day after he voted against a bill requiring testing of pregnant women for HIV because, he said, he didn’t want the state to limit the consequences of “sexual promiscuity.”

    Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, said that he wouldn’t have changed what he said during debate on the bill Wednesday, when his comment angered Democrats and Republicans.

    1. I love how he has established the hard line that HIV equals promiscuity.

      A woman (a virgin) and a man (also a virgin) marry and are 100% faithful. Five years later they have a baby, and the baby has health issues, and it is discovered the baby has HIV.

      Working backwards, the parents are both tested and both are found to be positive, so a risk factor survey is done.

      Turns out the father is a cop and the mother is a nurse’s assistant in a busy metropolitan hospital. One of the parents was likely exposed to the virus through an unnoticed accidental needle stick and gave the virus to the other, and the baby got the virus at birth. Had the mother been tested, steps would have been taken to nearly eliminate the transmission of the virus to the baby.

      But Schultheis says the baby deserves it because it’s a good thing that the mother feel guilty for her sinful promiscuity. Even though she has never done the nasty with anyone but her husband, who has never done the nasty with anyone but her.

      “Douchebag” doesn’t even come close. The guy is a fucking psycho.

      1. Though there are certainly other ways to get AIDS, what’s wrong with people who have sex with more than one person in their lives? Why do they deserve to get horrible deadly diseases?

        Lots of people date until they find someone they can settle down with, and dating often involves sex. There’s nothing unusual about it.

        It’s one thing for Schultheis to decide it’s icky and not for him. But his desire to see people die for having more sex than him is truly one of the most drooling psychotic things I’ve ever heard an elected official in this country say.

  3. The guy is clearly bat-shit insane. From the Washington Independent

    I talked briefly to former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) last night, before he addressed the inaugural meeting of Young Americans for Western Civilization, a new paleoconservative group.

    “They absolutely did anything they could to stop me from coming here,” said Tancredo. “They hated the idea. That’s been the way they’ve done this for the last five years. Grover Norquist, they would rather have. That guy should be in jail.”

    Tancredo explained that Paul Sperry’s book, Infilitration, about the influence of “Muslim spies” in Washington, is very damaging to Norquist. “How Grover Norquist has escaped indictment I will never know. If half of the stuff is true, and I believe it’s all true, he’s a dangerous guy. But they tout him here, especially on immigration.”

    Even Republican wingnuts are going to find him nuts.

  4. .

    Obama concludes what may end up as the most important speech of his Presidency more than half an hour ago,

    and not a single Progressive has made even one comment on this blog.  

    The thread I started last night has elicited 2 comments, both from folks I believe to be conservatives who oppose the war

    (if I got that wrong, sorry.)


    1. is that we never should have gone to Iraq in the first place, but that once we were there it was our responsibility to make sure it’s in good shape once we leave. So I’ve never supported the “out of Iraq NOW” line.

      I don’t know much about the logistics of this anyway, so I keep out of those discussions.

        1. Iraq is one of those falsely created that could only be held together by a strongman, just like Yugoslavia. We took that guy out for no good reason, and look at the mess we made.

          I really do want us out of there, and I want it to be under ideal conditions. Problem is, those ideal conditions may be impossible to achieve.

    2. This speech, which is all it was, fulfills another campaign promise (with minor variations). In that respect, it was no surprise. Frankly, the foreign policy issues on Obama’s plate aren’t limited to Iraq, so this speech was simly…..expected.

      I didn’t hear any significant surprises. C-Span went to open phones immediately afterward. IMHO, the larger story is the rabid, off the wall, viscious anti-Obama rhetoric being heard.

      That there are Americans who would want the U.S. to stay in Iraq, with it’s costs, it’s immorality, it’s damage to the region, is….well, just astounding.

      Thanks for all the great work you’ve been doing in this arena Barron X.

    3. have been public for days, do not represent a radical change and the extent to which the majority of Dems is supposed to go nuts over an additional few months and a somewhat higher residual troop level than was first proposed has been highly over-estimated.  

      Obama, if you were paying close attention during the election, never claimed it was all set in stone before he actually could become President and have access to all the relevant info and consult with his Generals. There is certainly some unhappiness on the left but not enough to cause a major uprising on the part of garden variety Dems.

      I personally find it difficult to start frothing at the mouth over a three month adjustment or a decision to go a little easier on the troop reduction for now.

      I’m glad we have a President who makes his final decision AFTER getting advice, not before.  Bush’s inability to adjust to reality and make changes was a disaster I don’t care to see repeated.

    4. despite my prolific comments, sometimes I don’t have time to read a speech during work to comment on it. Much quicker just to respond to other people’s comments.

      An evening speech is much more likely to get instant feedback. It’s just how it is.

    5. …who were involved in planning, operations and logisitics. The timetable announced will be tough, but doable.

      Without droning on about TPFDL and other logistically-derived acronyms, most redeployments are done in peacetime  – bad guys have been beaten, normal combat operations are over and there’s no need to sleep with the M4 carbine at your side.

      This is going to be a withdrawal under contact – the mundane jobs of unbolting shit and packing up will have to be done under the watchful eye of other soldiers/marines packing serious heat.

      Someone up at Echelons Above Reality (EAR) will have to decide what goes back to the US, what goes back into storage in Kuwait or DG, and what gets left behind. And any of that will have to be evaluated for tactical or strategic value for A-Q, 1920s or anyone else that wants to mess with the Iraq gov’t.

      Convoys of stuff going back to Kuwait or Basra harbor will have to be guarded at the same force levels that they are today. That means Aviation assets will be one of the last things to get packed up, along with medical and some logistical hubs.

      And that’s also not factoring in all the contractor shit we’re responsible for bringing back. I suspect that KBR will be told “tough shit” and left to fend for themselves, perhaps paying the same elevated prices to the Iraqi gov’t that they themselves charged  the US only a few years ago.

      In short, we can’t tell the Iraqis that were going out for a smoke, hop into the Hummer and drive off. This will take longer than a peacetime redeployment.  This is going otbe tight, but I suspect the troops doing the packing will have some “motivation” to move things along quickly…

    1. Every time my gf and I go, we just get both and share, because we can’t decide which we like more.

      A trip there may just may be added to my schedule for this evening.

  5. Maybe a bit more. I can still have one on occasion (and really want one today), but expect I won’t start back up unless I actually break down and buy a pack, which isn’t even remotely tempting.

          1. in a less convoluted sense, don’t let a past failed attempt at quitting smoking keep you from trying to quit again RSB.  I’ll get off my soapbox now as I am sure it is wildly annoying.  Sorry.

    1. but I urge you not to try the once in a while thing.  I finally quit on my third try over 25 years ago by NOT doing that.  After a while I felt so good about being able to tell myself that I hadn’t had a cigarette for X amount of time, I realized that if I had one, I’d  have to start from scratch on my streak.  That became a stronger and stronger motivation in itself as time went on. My streak is still going but it stopped taking  much effort after the first few months and stopped being something I even thought about not so long after that. Trust me,  thinking a cig once in a while is no problem is a trap for most.

  6. By Zachary Roth – February 27, 2009, 12:39PM

    Looks like the game is up.

    Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night — about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

    Turns out it wasn’t actually, you know, true.

    In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and then TPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.

    Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee “during Katrina,” and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn’t have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, “that’s ridiculous,” prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

    But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone “days later.” The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.


    So, what little of a political career he had has now been demolished.

    Oh, wait, he’s a rising star in the GOP – then lying to make a point is not only authorized, but encouraged!!!

    1. Can this really be?

      Everyone knows that Pubs always tell the truth.

      Fucking liars. Every day they are caught in new lies.  Not just spin or nuances, outright lies.

      Even Bobby, the star now heading for Lake Ponchatrain.  

    1. I think that actually would speak well of Romanoff in that he is acting like a politician willing to do something that may upset some in the party and to fight for a seat that will be an uphill battle.

      It takes that kind of attitude to accomplish difficult things in D.C. So while some would view his doing this as a negative, I’m not sure it should be viewed that way.

      However, that would leave most of us voters in a quandry come primary time, especially if Bennet does a good job in the meantime.

      1. A willingness to primary Bennet, and take the heat for it, is not necessarily something that “would speak well of Romanoff,” though it might under certain conditions.

        Yes, being “willing to do something that may upset some in the party” is an admirable and courageous trait, but only when it is done to serve some greater good, not when it is done merely to serve one’s own career ambitions.

        Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against career ambitions and ego-involvement. They are both powerful motivating forces, and can be productive elements in the right context. But a commitment to a reasonable degree of party discipline, and a willingness to subordinate one’s ego and ambition to the greater good, are necessary correlaries.

        So, being willing to primary Bennet would only speak well of Romanoff if Romanoff honestly believes that doing so is the most rational and effective way to advance what he is convinced are the best policies for the nation. That involves a pretty complex, necessarily heuristic, calculation about how to valuate the various probablities, risks, costs, and benefits to the party. If, after doing so, he were to honestly believe that contesting Bennet in a primary advances those goals more than it hinders them, all things considered, then, and only then, would it be an admirable thing to do.

        Otherwise, it’s merely self-serving.

        1. What made me think about this was something from David Halbertson’s book “The Children” where he discussed John Lewis’ first race for the house and how Lewis toward the end used the fact that his opponent was an alcoholic to win.

          His point was that Lewis’ willingness to do what was required to win was a sign that he would be effective as a congressman. Up till then one of the big worries was that in his staying above the fray he would be ineffective.

          1. John Lewis is one of the real American heros and one who improves with time.  Halbertson captures that time and that struggle brilliantly.  Thank you. Thank you.

            My single recommendation for educational reform, other than they should stop reforming education, is that teachers read that book to seventh graders, one page at a time, for the whole year.  

            Back to topic:  SH, when the hell did “primary” become a verb?  Bennet should have an easy time of it within the party because he is backed by BMC as well as what is emerging as the Obama machine.  I think it would be extremely difficult to beat Bennet in the primary…even if it looks like Romanoff would do better in the general.  

            I can see Ritter being challenged.  My guess is that Ritter has no taste for that kind of fight and would probably seek and find a spot in the administration….maybe running the Peace Corps… which he would be very good…..

            although not yet.  god saves us from Barbara O’Brien.

            1. Sometime before I began using it as such. I had never used “primary” as a verb until responding to other posters who already did so (and, of course, I wanted to emulate the cool kids and appear as hip and up-to-date as they are). For my part, I have no problem with it becoming a verb, if the conventions of usage make it one. Such is the nature of language.

            2. you (Dwyer) should read MIT psycholinguist Stephen Pinker’s “The Language Instinct,” and especially the chapter “The Grammar Mavens.” The formal rules of language follow rather than precede the informal ones created by usage. This is why reference to dictionaries as authorities concerning the meaning of ambiguous words is so lame, and why doing contortions to avoid splitting infinitives sometimes feels so very wrong.

              I once had a debate with a sociology professor over the “appropriate” use of the word “unique.” She was terribly offended by the common use of the word as a relative term, as in something being more or less unique than something else. It either is unique, or isn’t, dammit! But I argued that in the real world, nothing is completely dissimilar to anything else, and that how unique something is depends on how dissimilar it is to other things to which it is being compared, and degrees of uniqueness are obtained by broadening the context. For instance, a chair made of oak is unique in a context of all other chairs being made out of mohagony, but if you add a metal chair into the mix, the metal chair is “more unique,” since it is the only one not made of wood. The point: The literal meaning of “unique” is less expressive, has less communicative power, than the conventional usage that had evolved.

              This is the beauty of language: It is not some simple contrivance that must adhere to a set of arbitrarily defined rules, but rather an organic entity far more sophisticated than what its users (necessarily and usefully) reduce it to in their dictionaries and grammar books.

              A good writer needs to know the rules. A great writer needs to break them.

              Thanks, Dwyer, for providing me with the opportunity to go off on this tirade! Grammatical (and stylistic) tyranny is one of those pet-peeves of mine that I like to rail against from time to time!

              1. ….and flow to simplify.

                Without “primarying”, one would have to say something like “Run against him in a primary.”  Yet, we all instinctively understand what “primarying” is.  

                One of my observations about English and Spanish is that the latter is much more wasteful of words.  Look at bilingual signs, and the Spanish message takes more words and more lines.  I’ve think I’ve seen one, and only one, where this wasn’t true.  A lot of this has to do with possessives and also our willingness to use diminuitives and nicknames.  And thank god, no genderizing of words.

                Steve’s hat.

                La sombrero de Stephan.  

                Obviously both languages communicate, and communicate well.  I’m proposing the English is more malleable over time, improving communications for efficiency.  

                1. I have known many Mexicans (not in my wife’s family, as it happens), particularly a certain aspiringly officious type, who would never say in five words what they can possibly say in 500, somehow believing that the more elaborately they speak, the more credibility and dignity they have.

                  English, I do believe, has benefitted from the lathe of linguistic syntheses, and perhaps some cultural pragmatism and tendency toward informality (American English more than British, but even the British, who do not have the reputation from our point of view, have a tendency toward earthiness). You can even call it linguistic laziness: We like to shorten things. Robert becomes Bob (whereas in Mexico he is “Roberto Frederico Jemenez Rodriguez,” but “Roberto Frederico” to his friends), Richard becomes Dick, and so on.

                  If you look at the history of Indo-European languages, there certainly does seem to be an evolutionary trend toward increased simplicity: The numbers of tenses and declensions decline with each successor language (eg, Spanish less than Latin, and Latin less than Indo-European itself). English, being a descendent from German, but one reinvented with a huge French injection as a result of the Norman invasion, might be considered a generation later than its contemporaries (like a nephew who’s as old as his aunts and uncles). That might be part of the explanation for English’s greater simplicity (though simultaneous larger vocabulary).

            3. Although when I read to middle schoolers (used to do that for Reading to end Racism) I would read the chapter “The Children’s Miracle” from parting the waters. As it is about kids their age it really gets their attention.

              And if I got to pick one book to read to elementary school kids – “The Children’s Story” by James Clavel. Unlike his other books, this one takes 3 minutes.

          2. no politician can be effective, either in getting elected or in getting legislation passed, if that politician isn’t willing and able to engage in some realpolitick. On the other hand, the public good cannot be maximized unless politicians are willing to subordinate their self-interest (or, even better, unless we continually refine our political system such that the subordination of their apparent self-interest to the public interest actually is in their own interest to accomplish). The anger that some Democrats would express at Romanoff challenging Bennet in a primary is a mechanism for aligning Romanoff’s interests with the Party’s interests: If doing this bold and courageous thing would destroy his political career, then it is foolish rather than bold and courageous.

            In other words, I’m not against him robustly and intelligently advancing his political ambitions, and certainly am hopeful that he does so with great success. Neither am I against the rest of us responding in ways that make his calculations align with broader calculations of how best to advance a progressive agenda in Colorado and the United States.

            Putting this in the context of Halbertson’s book, Romanoff’s willingness to do what is required to win (up to a point) may well be a sign that he would be effective as a congressman, but it may also be that waiting for a less politically damaging opportunity is, in fact, what it takes to win.

            On a slightly different note, I do not agree that the public good is best served by character assassination of an opponent, and hope that the electorate increasingly punishes recourse to such tactics, thus making them strategically unintelligent as well as publicly dysfuntional.

    1. I don’t necessarily agree with the logic behind the end to the raids (that the Federal government shouldn’t try to circumvent state law) but it’s a great start.

      Now people in Colorado can get their medicine without worrying about the Feds busting down their door. This is a huge victory for people who believe in reforming drug laws.

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