Sunday, February 15, 2015

Revelatory Dream

Dream Machine
Yesterday I was recording with Robert Michael Pyle. (If you are interested in what we are up to, here is a link to some work we did a couple of years ago.) I was playing guitar to Bob’s prose about Darwin’s voyage of the Beagle. During one part of the performance, I was straining to hear what he was saying, however, I could make out things through little bits and pieces. Later, during a break, I was trying to remember the school of psychology that studies how the mind can construe fragments of a visual image for a complete mental recognition. I was stumped.

Last night I had a dream where someone handed me a book with these partial images made up of typed dots and dashes . It was like …_ _ .. .. , and  I could see just enough where it was the face of Zeus. I looked at the cover of the book and the title was “Gestalt Psychology”.

Wow! During sleep, my long-term memory (LTM) was working in concert with my amygdala and visual association area to remind me of what the school of psychology I was straining to remember.

I had gone to sleep a little stressed. I have been rushing some of my studies lately and made a mistake. I was telling myself to slow down and I am slashing some minor commitments. As of late, I think my mind can get cluttered so LTM is getting blocked. The dream was liberating and clearing. I felt great after a solid, good night’s sleep.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Making A Place on the Ballot for Women

This article will look at electoral rules that best accommodate how a gender component, within an association’s nominating rules, could guarantee a woman a place on the general election ballot.

There is a gender gap in our politics. According to the Center for American Women andPolitics, a total of 104 women will serve in the 114th Congress. Women make up 24.2 percent of the state legislatures. We have seen a steady rise in holding office since 1917, the year the first woman was elected to the US House. Notwithstanding, women still only hold 19 percent of the seats in Congress.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part III: An Inclusive Compromise

This is the third installment regarding a recent federal court ruling finding the City of Yakima’s elections in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). I write about how the City is offering a compromise remedy that better serves Latinos, if not all voters.

Soon after the summary ruling finding Yakima in violation of Sec. 2 of the VRA, political and opinion leaders suggested the City not appeal. Governor Jay Inslee wrote a letter to the city council saying, “I want to respectfully request that the Council send a clear message by voting to not appeal the Court’s decision and instead focus on implementing a plan to address this serious issue.” The Seattle Times editorial board wrote, that, “Yakima should abandon any notion of a costly appeal.” And guess what? Yakima did not appeal. It did however, offer a compromise that allows it to stand by its argument regarding representation for all of the city’s Latino voters — and not only those who are drawn into exclusive districts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part II: Options for the City & All ItsVoters

by Krist Novoselić

A federal court has ruled that Yakima’s elections are in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Some may think that the City’s only options are to accept seven individual districts or appeal the ruling. This assumption is untrue as Yakima has more alternatives available than ceding to a district plan or wading forward with more litigation. A simple change to the voting rules can have Yakima keep at-large elections, while at the same time remedy issues of voter dilution.

Exclusive districts are not a solution mandated by the VRA. Making these so-called majority-minority districts is a decision by the parties in the lawsuit. Judge Rice’s ruling may have called on the City to submit a district plan, notwithstanding, legal precedence allows the defendant jurisdiction the choice of election systems as long its proposal actually does remedy the vote dilution. In other words — Yakima can choose to implement voting rules other than majority-minority districts.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part I: Racially Polarized Voting

By Krist Novoselić

 On August 22, United States District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice ruled that the City Of Yakima’s voting system was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling identifies the city’s at-large voting system as the culprit for racially polarized voting. In the next installment about this issue, I will argue that the problem is winner-take-all rules and not at-large arrangements. Yakima can use this ruling to move beyond districts towards a truly inclusive voting system for all its voters. Until then, let us look at a recent instance of racially polarized voting in Yakima County.

Washington State held a primary election in August of 2012. One race for a seat on the State Supreme Court raised concerns over the issue of racially polarized voting in the Yakima area. Election returns revealed vote count disparities in the race between Steve Gonzalez and Bruce Danielson. Danielson, an obscure lawyer from Kitsap County beat Gonzalez who was an incumbent by appointment to the bench. Research points to voters choosing the candidate on surname alone – voters simply rejected the Latino.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Standing With Eddie Vedder and the Real Possibility of Peace

Palestinian / Israeli Separation Wall
Thank you Eddie Vedder for speaking up for peace in our world. Eddie has gotten some criticism over comments he made about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. That situation has been messed up for so long, it is no wonder that even mentioning it is toxic. Let’s face it, the relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a disaster! I don’t know how many times I have heard the same explanations and excuses and it matters not, there is a continuing catastrophe between those two peoples.

Our world is connected as never before. People from all corners of the planet share culture and commerce at the click of a mouse. In contrast to this great convergence of humanity, Israel is building tall concrete walls while Palestinians fire rockets over them. There's a shared recent history between these people, and I think there could be a shared future that's more in tune with what's going on with our ever-connected universe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Youth Vote: A Cheap Date

Nate Cohn writes this article in the April, 28 NYT’s Why the Democrats’ Turnout Problem Is Worst in NorthCarolina. The issue for Democrats is that young voters tend to sit out midterm elections. Sen. Kay Hagan is up for reelection this year and this situation is bad news for her. Hagan’s margin of victory in 2008 came from voters under the age of 30 — a voting bloc that gave her 71 percent of their vote that year. The Obama-mania of 2008 responsible for this turnout is long gone. Cohn makes this point and how it will be tough for Hagan to achieve these numbers with the youth vote this year.

Hagan is a Democrat, and like the GOP, these "state parties" are basically soft money conduits around individual campaign contribution limits. A party is supposed to be a group of likeminded people who pull others into the arena of elections. Instead, the two state parties cling to voting rules that push people away. And they use social media in accordance with their top-down group structures. It is an exclusive system that never follows up when constituencies like youth show up to vote.

Democrats have been doing this for too long. I recall the 1992 election with the big Rock The Vote effort that helped elect the Clinton / Gore ticket. There was a huge youth turnout and all the Democrats could do for this constituency was the Motor Voter Bill. My point is that there was no real effort to keep these voters engaged. The 1992 and 2010 midterms had a similar dynamic and, by what Cohn is reporting, we’re set to see it gain in 2014.

I am not a youth voter. I want a democracy for all ages. Part of making this happen is a willingness to abandon the two state parties for new forms of association. This is why I am interested in using new political social networking platforms. I want to associate with people who want to engage elections with new tools to challenge the current broken paradigm. This means advocating reforms and running candidates outside of the state party structure in 2014 and 2016. 

With the right tool, we can build a democracy for the ages.