Posts Tagged ‘government’

An Algorithm Could End Gerrymandering

June 26, 2017

We know gerrymandering is a problem. The Supreme Court has long recognized the potential for abuse in legislative redistricting. But what is an objective measure to rule of fairness? Wendy Tam Cho of the University of Illinois proposes a “Computational Method for Identifying Extreme Redistricting Plans.” You can read Professor Cho’s complete paper here.

What’s your state’s redistricting law? Find out here.

Related:

“Why the Supreme Court’s decision to review Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is such a big deal,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

“Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.,” Michael Cooper, New York Times

“Where Gerrymandering Is Containing City Power,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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John Oliver on Gerrymandering

June 22, 2017

The Rule of Law: He who rules makes the law. Legislators often reshape voting districts to keep their parties in political power. John Oliver explains.

Related:

“Why the Supreme Court’s decision to review Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is such a big deal,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

“Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.,” Michael Cooper, New York Times

“Where Gerrymandering Is Containing City Power,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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Gerrymandering: Jagged Lines of Partisan Power

June 20, 2017

Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University explains “Gerrymandering.” Animation by Smart Bubble Society.

Related:

“Why the Supreme Court’s decision to review Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is such a big deal,” Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

“Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.,” Michael Cooper, New York Times

“Where Gerrymandering Is Containing City Power,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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Alt-Right’s Bannon Ousted From National Security Council

April 5, 2017

Alt-Right's Bannon Ousted From National Security Council

Far-Right culture warrior Steve Bannon was bounced off the National Security Council yesterday as national intelligence director Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs chair General Joseph Dunford were to rejoin the grownups on the NSC principals committee. One rumor says Mr. Bannon was only on the NSC to babysit fellow lunatic Michael Flynn, who has since resigned. This move probably means a cleansing apocalyptic nuclear war is less likely the top US security strategy.

General H.R. McMaster, who replaced Mr. Flynn as national security adviser, is said to be behind the change. In a more puzzling move, two former Republican governors with no defense or foreign relations experience, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, were added to the principals committee. A sobering thought: Mr. Perry, who wanted to abolish the department he now heads, is in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Bannon still skulks through the corridors of power and may head a shady outfit called the Strategic Initiatives Group.

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Crash Course for New Presidents

February 16, 2017

Have you recently arrived in Washington’s Executive Mansion only to find that the U.S. Government doesn’t run by fiats, diktats, decrees and Executive Orders? Here’s a quick video rundown on the government. Hope you like to watch TV!
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Trump Appoints ‘Foreclosure King’ As Treasury Secretary

December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints 'Foreclosure King' As Treasury Secretary

President-elect and self-proclaimed swamp-drainer Donald J. Trump has named Goldman Sachs alum and former hedge fund partner Steve Mnuchin as his Treasury Secretary. Mr. Mnuchin, who was finance chair of the Trump campaign and the producer of Suicide Squad, became infamous as the “Foreclosure King” when his OneWest Bank foreclosed on over 36,000 family homes during the financial crisis. OneWest specialized in “harsh, repugnant and repulsive” foreclosures on the homes of minority families and the elderly, and in one celebrated case foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman over a 27 cent error.

The Department of the Treasury controls mortgage guarantee agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and runs the MHA mortgage relief program and the Hardest Hit Fund, which helps homeowners most in danger of foreclosure due to the financial crisis. Oh, it also regulates banks.

More:

“Trump Treasury pick made millions after his bank foreclosed on homeowners,” Lorraine Woellert, Politico

“Steve Mnuchin: Evictor, Forecloser, and Our New Treasury Secretary,” Peter Dreier, American Prospect

“Trump Was Always Going to Be a Gift to Wall Street. His Pick for Treasury Secretary Proves It.,” Jordan Weissmann, Slate

“Donald Trump voter who lost her home to new Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin has ‘no faith in our government anymore,’” Josh Boak and Jeff Horowitz, AP via Salon

“Angus King: Trump’s not draining swamp, he’s adding alligators,” Mark Hensch, The Hill

Bonus:

“Before heading to the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin will grace the silver screen in ‘Rules Don’t Apply,'” Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times

“The fiancée of Trump’s twice-married new Treasury Secretary, 53, is 35-year-old actress who sparked fury after she ‘invented parts of her memoir about nearly being killed in Africa,'” Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail

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Image (“American Dream, after Grant Wood”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Ben Carson at HUD: Pyramid Scheme?

November 30, 2016

Ben Carson at HUD: Pyramid Scheme?
Last we heard of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, he was proposed for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, presumably because he lives in a house and once lived in a city. We assume President-elect Trump will appoint a city planner as Surgeon General.

Dr. Carson’s fascination with Egyptian pyramids may influence U.S. cityscapes during the Trump administration. On the other hand, his spokesman told the press that Ben Carson thinks he’s unqualified to run a federal department. Any department. Oh, and the good doctor recently diagnosed the HUD-administered Fair Housing laws as “communist.”

More:

“Ben Carson Is Trump’s Pick for HUD Secretary, for Some Terrible Reason,” Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

“Ben Carson for HUD Secretary, Why?” Kriston Capps, CityLab

“Stop Treating HUD Like A Second-Tier Department,” Andrew Flowers, FiveThirtyEight

Update:

“Turns Out Ben Carson Didn’t Grow Up in Public Housing,” Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Mike Pence Casting Out the Lobbyists From the Trump Transition Team

November 18, 2016

Mike Pence Casting Out the Lobbyists From the Trump Transition Team
“Swamp-drainer” Donald Trump’s initial transition team was chock full of the very lobbyists he had railed against on the campaign trail. It was embarrassing, so the president-elect brought in holy warrior Mike Pence to drive the money changers out of Trump Tower. Trump Tower has revolving doors, but the new administration’s incoming officials will pledge to forego lobbying for 5 years. As we know, ethics are very important to the founder of Trump University.

More:

“Donald Trump’s Lobbying Ban Effectively Bans Very Little,” on Schwarz, The Intercept

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Image (“Mike Pence Casting Out the Lobbyists From the Trump Transition Team, after Antoine Jean-Baptiste Thomas”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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If Goebbels and Rasputin Had a Baby ….

November 15, 2016

If Goebbels and Rasputin Had a Baby ....

President-elect Donald J. Trump has named noted misogynist and anti-semitic racist propagandist Stephen K. Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. Mr. Bannon’s role will be stalking the corridors of power and whispering in the president’s ear. If Goebbels and Rasputin had a baby, it would grow up to be Steve Bannon.

Not everyone is pleased with this key appointment:

Fear rises that Bannon could bring the ‘alt-right’ into White House,” Katie Glueck, Politico

“White nationalists’ ‘man in the White House’? Bannon appointment provokes angry rebukes,” Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times

“Critics See Stephen Bannon, Trump’s Pick for Strategist, as Voice of Racism,” Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman, and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times

“After Bannon Appointment, Southern Poverty Law Center Steps Up Fight Against Hate,” Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua, Haaretz

“Trump appointment of Bannon raises ‘white nationalist’ fears,” Demetri Sevastopulo and Sam Fleming, Financial Times

“Glenn Beck: Bannon has ‘clear tie’ to white nationalism,” Mark Hensch, The Hill

“Warren: Steve Bannon’s Appointment Shows Trump ‘Embraces Bigotry,'” Kristin Salaky, TPM Livewire

“Anti-Hate Groups Erupt Over Trump’s Latest Hire,” Rob Garver, The Fiscal Times

“Democrats Condemn ‘White Nationalist’ Bannon’s Appointment,” Christina Flom, Roll Call

Others, on the other hand …

“KKK, American Nazi Party praise Trump’s hiring of Bannon,” Tim Devaney, The Hill

“White Nationalists Rejoice at Trump’s Appointment of Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon,” Stephen Piggott, Southern Poverty Law Center

“White nationalists see advocate in Steve Bannon who will hold Trump to his campaign promises,” Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie, CNN

“White Nationalists Are Thrilled With Donald Trump’s Pick Of Steve Bannon As Chief Strategist,” Matt Ferner, Huffington Post

“Giddy white nationalists hail Trump choosing Steve Bannon as his ‘minister of propaganda,'” Brad Reed, Raw Story

Related:

“Watchdog Group Alleges Illegal Super PAC Payments To Steve Bannon,” Matt Shuham, TPM Livewire

“What Is The ‘Alt-Right’? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media,” Oliver Willis, Media Matters

“Donald Trump Building Team of Racists,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

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Top image. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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President Trump May Govern From His Tower

November 15, 2016

President Trump May Govern From His Tower

President-elect Donald J. Trump wants to spend three-day work weeks in the White House and long weekends holed up in New York’s Trump Tower, according to the New York Times. Reporters can’t pursue this further because the President-elect is holed up in Trump Tower. President Trump may also take long weekends at his golf resorts in New Jersey and Florida.

3 days in DC and 4 days at home is the weekly schedule of the denizens of Congress. That pattern was established in 1994 so Republican congressmen could spend more time raising big-time campaign funds instead of just passing laws and stuff. Who made that happen? Ethically challenged House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich, now a key Trump advisor.

More:

“NYT: Trump May Split Time Between White House And Trump Tower,” Caitlin MacNeal, TPM Livewire

“Will Donald Trump even live in the White House?” Jeva Lange, The Week

“Trump Tower: The home of a reality show, a campaign and now a transition,” Jenna Johnson, Washington Post

Related:

“With Trump Using Tower as Base, Fifth Avenue Grinds to a Halt,”Sarah Maslin Nir,  New York Times

“Trump Tower, Fifth Avenue, and the Militarization of Urban Public Space,” Justin Davidson, New York Magazine

“New York mayor to ask feds to help pay for Trump security,” Harper Neidig, The Hill

“How Donald Trump will retrofit Midtown Manhattan as a presidential getaway,” Marc Ambinder, Washington Post

“Secret Service wants to shut down traffic on Fifth Ave. around Trump Tower when the President-elect is in town: sources,” Rocco Parascandola, Dale W. Eisenger, and Leonard Greene, NY Daily News
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Image (“The Trump Tower of Barad-Dur”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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