America has a long tradition of excoriating, painful, and powerful critiques of the arrested development of our democracy — critiques of the ravages of our imperial expansionist genocide of the Native Americans; of the crushing of of the lives of workers by the callous machinery of capitalist excesses; of the wholesale subjugation of women, gays, and lesbians; and most especially and centrally of the deeply democratic and dehumanising hypocrisies of white supremacy. This is why the lens of race becomes indispensable in our attempt to understand, preserve, and expand America’s democratic experiment.
Cornel West, Democracy Matters (2004)

Those guys in the picture are private paramilitary, not police

However, there were nearly 50 arrested at a peaceful women’s rights rally, and there were a LARGE number of riot police, disgusting.

America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
Hunter S. Thompson

The RCP poll aggregator has President Obama’s approval rating at 48%, two points over his disapproval average of 46%.

This is especially promising for the President, to have positive numbers, when the “track of the country” is polling nearly 30 points in the negative (30.3-62.0). This could be attributed to Congress’ poor polling numbers, with just a mere 12% approval.

In even more good news for the President, not one of the GOP candidates polls anywhere close to beating him, with Romney coming the closest at -4.8%. (Paul: -6.9%, Santorum -9.8%, Gingrich -10.9%)

109 playsDownload

Bloc Party - The Price of Gas

The price of gas keeps on rising
Nothing comes for free
Make like a stone, make like a plant
I can tell you, how this ends

U.S. poverty rate: Nearly one in seven people live in poverty

shortformblog:

  • 15.1% the poverty rate in the U.S. back in 1993 — the highest level in 20 years
  • 11.3% the poverty rate in 2000 — the lowest it’s been in the modern era
  • 15.1% the poverty rate in 2010 — MATCHING the 1993 high source

» What these numbers mean: The current poverty line in the U.S. is $22,314a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual, so anyone making less than that falls into these numbers. To put this into hard numbers, that means 46.2 million people are living below the poverty line. As for the middle class, their median income is $49,445 — actually down just a little bit from the year before. (Editor’s note: We just clarified the poverty line numbers.)

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“Now you are going to tell me that you planned a terrorist attack,” he continued.

“I haven’t planned any attacks.”

“I give you my word that you will be a rich man if you tell me you have been planning attacks. Don’t you trust me?” he asked.

“I don’t trust anyone,” I replied.

Immediately he slapped me hard across the face and knocked off the blindfold: I clearly saw his face. It was Suleiman.

[cont.]

Shortly after 9/11, Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen, was pulled off a bus in Pakistan and handed over to the United States. Treated as a suspected terrorist, Habib was transferred to Egypt where he was tortured for five months. In the above excerpt, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, Habib sees the face of his torturer and discovers that it is Omar Suleiman, then chief of Egypt’s spy agency. Suleiman has since become the Western-backed, de facto ruler of Egypt. Continuing to protest his innocence, Habib was eventually transferred to Guantanamo Bay for three years of interrogation. He was released without charge on January 11, 2005.

It’s time to change our broken political system.

(((AS A DISCLAIMER: This is a very basic arugument and is only meant as a structre to a larger and more specific arugument that would go into specific numbers, that post is in the works.)))

It seems that everyone involved in politics, no matter ideology, party affiliation, creed, code or class (save the super-rich and political class), thinks our political system is totally broken.

Is it because of fucked up campaign finance laws? (I’m looking at you Citizen’s United) Lying politicians? Corporate Media? Or even just corporations’ existence? Unfair representation? Two dead locked and incompetent major parties that would rather see the whole thing burn than to seek a real solution? Secret Muslim/socialist/communist/fascist/nazi/free mason/NWO conspiracy to take your guns and bibles? It seems to be all of these things. Well, except that last one, my apologies to Glenn Beck.

However, for the purposes of this post at least, I want to focus on just one: Unfair representation, and how I propose we remedy this and give a fairer representation of the people’s wants and needs is to switch to a Proportional Representation model. (author side note: along with huge campaign financing reform, campaign “time limits,” and the ability to vote from the Internet among some others)*

Now, we’re all familiar with our “winner-take-all” style of elections in the United States. It’s fairly simple in concept: one district, one representative. It is simple and almost elegant, but it has caused major issues for our politics and our nation. The true representation of the people’s beliefs is not achieved, minorities are just given the boot.

Proportional Representation is by far a more modern and flexible system compared to the “winner-take-all” system. Forms of proportional representation are used all over the world in countries including Germany, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland and South Africa, and has been used for local elections in New York, Cincinnati, Toledo, Boulder and is still used today in Cambridge with their “Accuvote” system.

There are three basic forms of proportional representation (with a variation on one): The party list system (open and closed), the mixed-member system, and the choice vote (or single-transferable vote). [I will not be covering all of these systems. I recommend a read of this, to get a better idea of the other systems I don’t go into detail about.]

While I think The Choice Vote is best for local elections, I think they would cause too much over complication for a federal election. With that many votes shifting around, it would cause huge delays along with making recounts a huge headache. (Think of this system as almost working on the curve)

The system I think would strike the best balance between complexity, fairness and quality for federal House elections is the Open Party List system.

The Open Party List is fairly simple, and is probably the closest to our system making for an easier transition. Like with all Proportional systems, this system uses multi-seat districts to achieve a better representation of the people. This example shows three different divisions for a 50-seat senate. (50 single seat, 10 5-seat, 5 10-seat)**

This maybe slightly confusing to some here in the States, but basically it groups a bunch of seats into multi-seat districts and the seats are handed out by proportion. For example, in a 10 seat district the Democrats win 40%, the Republicans win 30%, the Greens win 20% and the Libertarians win 10%. The Democrats would receive 4 of the 10 seats, the GOP would get 3, the Greens 2 and so on.

Each party in this system will post a list of nominees equal to the number of seats available, and the seats won by each party gets given to on the candidates on the ballot.

What makes the Open Party different from the Closed Party system is that you choose the individuals within the ballot to give your vote to. The vote still goes to the party so that it may gain seats, but instead of the seats being distributed by going down a list, they are awarded to the candidates by who garnered the most votes for the party. It is like a primary and a general wrapped into one.

As an example, let’s assume this is a 5-seat district with these candidates:

Now, let’s assume that the Greens won 2 of those 5 seats. In a Closed Party system, the seats would go to the two top names on the ballot (Watenberg and Hernandez), but in an Open Party System the two seats would go to whomever got the most individual votes.

As we know, most elections aren’t so clean in the percentage department, so the easy way to solve this is to have a rounding system. Say that it is a 10-seat race with 100,000 vaild votes with the spread among the 5 parties is 42%, 27%, 12%, 11% and 8%. It would take 10,000 votes to win 1 seat. (fairly simple math so far.) So you take the that number off first:

  1. 42,000 = 4 seats + 2,000 excess
  2. 27,000 = 2 seats + 7,000 excess
  3. 12,000 = 1 seat + 2,000 excess
  4. 11,000 = 1 seat + 1,000 excess
  5. 8,000 = 0 seats + 8,000 excess

Notice how that only equals 8 distributed seats? That is where the excess is important. If the number in excess is greater than 5% (5,000 in this example), than another seat is awarded. For this result, the numbers 2 and 5 parties would each recieve a seat, bringing the total to 4, 3, 1, 1, 1.

(Bare in mind that small variations in the percentage may affect the number of seats.)

This system could do wonders for minor parties who can’t compete with the big money of the major parties, but that can have a huge ground and local influence. It also gives people more a choice and a feeling that their voice is being heard more clearly which would hopefully fight voter apathy and discontent.

I think this system, paired with serious PAC and campaign finance reform could do wonders for our political discourse and would help to try to foster at least some cooperation (Majorities would be very difficult to get so coalitions would be almost required). Hopefully this system, or one similar can be put in place to at least try to fix this nearly completly broken one we have now.

Fight for your voice, fight for your representation, fight big money and oligarchy.

Together, we can make a change.

=======================================================

*I would like to clarify, this can really only practically affect the House of Representatives on the federal level. The senate is limited in seats for a reason, and the presidency is, of course, winner take all. (However, I would want to put some limits on how long they can campaign and how they take in money.) Essentially, that would make us a sort-of MMP system with the Senate using the same single-member, direct vote, and the House switching to the system I discussed in the post.

**Personally, I am more in support of larger seat districts because they will represent the diversity of ideas of the people in the district, but that is just a personal preference.

(Images from http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/BeginnningReading/howprwor.htm, I did not make those images and will remove them if and/or when I am)

I highly suggest further reaserch into this. I am positng only one of the sourses I have been using because that one most closely shows what I wanted to say and it had some neat pictures. Going through the source-list on Wikipedia is a good place to start, I usually trust school.edu sites the most though.