Archive for the ‘Grand Rapids’ Category

2011 Michigan Redistricting: Gerrymanderliscious

June 22, 2011

Well, it’s been quite a while since my last post, but I figured this topic is important enough to warrant a return to the blogging world (even if it’s a brief return).  The Michigan Legislature recently released their maps for the 2011 redistricting.  For reference, here are links to the current boundaries:

Now, those were created by the 2001 Legislature, which was controlled by Republicans, and signed into law under Republican Governor John Engler.

They’re not bad, and look pretty good.  This year, it seems as if the Republican members of the Legislature have gotten a little more ambitious, and a little more creative.  So let’s take a look at what they’ve proposed.  Here are links to PDFs of all 3 maps, and I’ve copied the images below, where I’ll analyze them:

This first map is the proposed Congressional districts:

And here’s a zoomed in image of the Metro-Detroit area:

I’ll admit – I cringed when I saw the 14th district, and the 11th district isn’t exactly pretty either.  They’ve got some awkward separations, like putting Farmington Hills in the 14th, but keeping Farmington in the 11th; putting Bloomfield Hills in the 11th, while placing Bloomfield Township in the 9th; Southfield Township is placed in the 9th, while Southfield City ends up in the 14th; Clawson is split up; and Rochester Hills is split up.

In an attempt to squeeze Democratic Congressmen Sander Levin and Gary Peters into the same district and force a primary between the two, saving the Republicans from losing a seat, the map has turned into something I like to call gerrymanderliscious.

But it gets even more creative as we move on to the Michigan Senate map:

And again, a zoomed in view of the Metro-Detroit area:

For the most part, this one isn’t too bad until you get to the Metro-Detroit area. District 1 is incredibly awkward, as is District 6. But the really weird ones are 14 and 25.  You can’t see it on my uploaded images, but if you view the original map at 100% zoom, you can see that Springfield Township and Waterford Township just barely overlap for the 14th to be contiguous.  As for the 25th district, I’m guessing they’ve just connected them along a strip of County Line Road, but I’m not positive.

So that brings us to the state House of Representatives:

And again, a zoomed in view of Metro-Detroit:

And a zoomed in view of Grand Rapids and the southwest corner of the state:

The House map isn’t too bad, other than more awkward county splits than I’m really comfortable with. The Grand Rapids area looks pretty decent, although 86 is a bit wacky. And Metro-Detroit looks pretty good with the exception of the 13th.

So, by far, my biggest complaints are with the Congressional map, but what was really sad was the Republicans claims that they had to draw the lines like that to abide by the Voting Rights Act, which mandates 2 majority minority districts for Michigan.  That’s just nonsense.  There are plenty of ways to draw the lines so that you have decent looking districts that obey the VRA.

Obviously Democrats Sander Levin and Gary Peters weren’t happy with the maps, but even Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is unhappy with the map, because as of the current proposal, Oakland County, the second most populous county in Michigan, would be represented by people who all live outside of the county.

Now, gerrymandering can be a lot of fun; I enjoyed playing around and making this little beauty for Maryland:


But when it comes to ACTUALLY redistricting, our legislature shouldn’t be drawing crap like this for partisan gain. Doing so takes the focus off of the good things the Republicans have done in Michigan and tells voters, “We know you voted for us in 2010, but we don’t trust you for the next 10 years, so we’re gonna cheat to win.”

Am I advocating that the legislature adopts a plan where we have 14 districts and each one is competitive at a 50-50 level?  Absolutely not; that’d be ridiculous.  The GOP won in a landslide in 2010, so it’s expected that the maps will favor us, but there’s no need to mangle the maps the way they’ve done.  That’s just petty politics, and when the people of Michigan see that, it gives them a bad image of the party.

In a Surprise Move, John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama

May 15, 2008

Well, I figured that Edwards was going to stay out of this so that he didn’t influence the delegates (so that his delegates wouldn’t go over to Clinton or Obama just because he endorsed one or the other), but apparently Obama is far ahead enough that Edwards figures that Obama is  100% guaranteed to get it.  And Obama essentially is.  At this point, he could kill kittens on live TV and still pull off a win.

Anyway, while in Grand Rapids, Michigan, John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama.

The following is the video of the speech, followed by a transcript courtesy of The Centrist Voice (I’d have transcribed it myself like I normally do, but I still haven’t recovered my audio device functionality):

Thank you, thank you. So, the question is — thank you. Thank you. So the question is what am I doing here? You know, I was promised a jet ski. And I hadn’t gotten it yet. I am proud to be here with all of you, proud to be in Michigan, proud to be in Grand Rapids. During the course of this presidential campaign, I’ve gotten to know the candidates and the top candidates very, very well. We have all been out speaking about the causes that are so near and dear to our heart as Democrats. And now we’re here down to two amazing candidates. And before I get too far, I want to take just a minute and say a word about my friend and your friend, Senator Hillary Clinton.

She won’t be your friend much longer.

In the past few weeks, I’ve got — past few months and past few weeks — I’ve gotten to know Senator Clinton very well. We’ve talked. We’ve met in North Carolina. We’ve talked about the things that she cares about, that every single one of you care about: about the men and women in this country who don’t have health care; about the children who don’t have health care; about the men and women in America who just want to have a decent job and go to work. We’ve talked about our own children, our own families.

And what I’ve learned during that time, and I’ve gotten to know her very well, is that she believes with every fiber of our being that America can be a better place, and that we need change to make America what it’s capable of being. And I want to tell you — and I know this is hard to understand sometimes — but it is very, very hard to get up everyday and do what she’s done. It is hard to go out there and fight and speak up when the odds turn against you.

Um, the odds weren’t just against her.  It was as if she had  placed a bet on rolling a pair of dice a total of 1.

And what she has shown, what she has shown, is strength and character. And what drives her is something that every single one of us can and should appreciate. She cares deeply about the working people in this country. She cares about the families who are losing everything because somebody got sick. She cares about our men and women who are putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. This tenacity has shown her strength and her determination. She is a woman who, in my judgment, is made of steel. And she’s a leader in this country, not because of her husband, but because of what she has done — because of speaking out, because of standing up.

And we, when this nomination battle is over — and it will be over soon — brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats and, in the fall, stand up for what matters for the future of America and make America what it needs to be. And we are a stronger party, because Hillary Clinton is a Democrat. We are a stronger country because of her years of public service. And we’re going to have a stronger presidential nominee in the fall because of her work.

No, you’re really not – you’re going to lose utterly.

Now, what brought all of us here is the profound –


What brought all of us together is the profound belief that we can change this country, that there are servicemen and women in Iraq who can come home starting today; that our kids deserve to go to better schools than we went to; that we can run our cars on something other than oil; that we have good jobs that can fill these empty factories; and that the anxiety that all of our people face every day can change when we finally make two Americas one America for every single one of us.

This is why you’re here. You’re here because of the hope that you carry in your heart to make this country better. And we have so much work to do in America, because all across America, there are walls. There are walls dividing the way things are and the one America that all of us want to see. And, in fact, there’s a wall around Washington, D.C. The American people are, today, on the outside of that wall. And on the inside are the big corporations and the lobbyists who are working to protect a system that takes care of them.

And guess who struggles every single day? Working men and women in this country see that wall when they have to split their bills into two piles — one pay now, one pay later; when they get bullied at work, because they want to join a union; when they see disappointment on the face of their son or daughter, because they can no longer pay for that child to go to college; when their CEO gets a golden parachute, and their job gets shipped overseas. And you know something about that here in Michigan — when their wages drop and their kids go hungry. And guess who’s doing just fine? The insiders, the lobbyists, the special interests.

Um, unions have lobbyists too, so you can’t argue for unions but against lobbyists.  That’s contradictory.

Our job, come January of next year, is to tear that wall down and give this government back to the American people. There is another wall that divides us. It’s the moral shame of 37 million of our own people who wake up in poverty every single day. In a nation of our wealth, to have millions of Americans who work every single day and still can’t pay their electric bill and pay for their food at the same time. There are mothers out there working two jobs every day to try to keep their kids from going to bed hungry. There are men and women who have worked hard all their lives, so that they can try to buy a home. And they’re living in a tent city, because they got nowhere to go.

This is not OK. And for eight long, long years, this wall has gotten taller. Yesterday, I was in Philadelphia. And I was announcing an initiative to cut poverty in American in half in the next ten years. And I am proud to say, today, that Barack Obama stands with me in this cause. We also have a wall that divides our two public school systems in America. It is not OK that a child born into a wealthy family gets the best education in the world. And a child born in a small town or the inner city barely gets by. Their education is our education. We’re going to fix that system for them and make these schools work for everybody.

I’ll agree with him here – not his methods, but the principle.

How about health care, right? The big drugs companies, insurance companies, HMOs, the politicians who take their money, they’re getting their way. And they love that wall just the way it is today. Well, it’s going to be gone as soon as we create real and meaningful universal health care for every man, woman and child in America.

Yeah, that wall will be gone, and so will the possibility of a decent health care system.  McCain’s plan of encouraging competition is MUCH better.

And there’s also a wall that’s divided our image in the world. The America as the beacon of hope is behind that wall. And all the world sees now is a bully. They see Iraq, Guantanamo, secret prison and government that argues that water boarding is not torture.

I’ll give him Iraq.  And McCain is against water boarding and other means of torture.

This is not OK. That wall has to come down for the sake of our ideals and our security. We can change this. We can change it. Yes we can. If we stand together, we can change it.

“Yes we can” – that gets so freaking annoying.


And the reason I am here tonight is because the Democratic voters in America have made their choice, and so have I. There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership. There is one man that knows how to create the change, the lasting change, that you have to build from the ground up. There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two. And that man is Barack Obama.



This is not going to be easy. It’s going to be the fight of our lives. But we’re ready, because we know that this election is about something bigger than the tired old hateful politics of the past. This election is about taking down these walls that divide us, so that we can see what’s possible — what’s possible, that one America that we can build together. Barack Obama understands that to his core.

Oh, it’s going to be REALLY easy … for us!

You know, as I’ve traveled this country, as I’ve learned from traveling this country, from talking to students like those that we took to New Orleans, who volunteered their spring break to go to New Orleans to work to help rebuild the city; a former Army captain that I met who served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, even after he was badly injured at a grenade attack. And I’ll never forget a man I met named James Lowe who was born with a cleft palate that kept him from being able to speak. And he had no health care coverage and lived for 50 years in America not able to speak, because he had no health care.

It’s sad, but that’s not the government’s job.  Did you pay for Mr. Lowe’s health care?  No.  So then why do you expect me to pay for it?  You’re MUCH richer than me, and you argue against rich people keeping lots of money for themselves.

What I’ve learned, and what Barack Obama has learned, this campaign is about them. It is about you. It is about the people. It is not about us. And that is what we are fighting for.

If it’s all about them, you’d set a campaign spending limit and give some of the money back to them.


And it’s about the one America we’re going to build for them. One America, where Main Street is strong; one America, where struggling towns come back to life, because we finally transformed our economy by ending our dependence on oil; one America, where the men and women who work the late shift, who get up at dawn to drive a two- hour commute, and the young person who closes the store to save for college. They will actually be honored for that work. One America, where no child, no child, goes to bed hungry; when we finally end the moral shame of 37 million Americans who wake up every day in poverty.


One America, where we finally start tackling the real health care crisis in America; one America, with one public school system, where a boy in the city and a girl in the suburbs will wake up every day with an equal chance to a quality education. One America, that rebuilds our moral authority in the world, not just with our strength, but with our soul. One America, where the walls will fall, when the war in Iraq ends in 2009, and our servicemen and women –


And our servicemen and women will come home to the heroes’ welcome that they deserve. And we will take care of our veterans. We’re going to get this part of the war right. We will never again stand by while men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States of America stand in line and have to wait for health care. We will never stand by while 150,000 men and women who wore our uniform, veterans, go to sleep every night on grates and under bridges — not in our America, not in our America, and not in our America when Barack Obama is president of the United States of America.

There won’t be an America when he’s President, because he won’t BE President.


You know, we’ve been in this kind of place before. In times of war, great depression, deep divisions that tore at the soul of this nation, we came together. And we went to work to make sure that we passed on a stronger and better country to our children. We will meet this challenge again. This is who we are. This is our moment. This is our time to take down these walls, to close our divide, and build one America that we all believe in. If you want that, if you believe in that, then join me in helping send Barack Obama to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; because we believe that in our America –


Because what all of us believe, what all of us believe, is in this America that we love so much, no matter who you are, no matter who your family is, and no matter what the color of your skin, none of those things will control your destiny; and that that one America that I’ve talked about is not only possible, but it will be achieved under President Barack Obama starting in January of 2009. Thank you. God bless you. I’m honored to be here with you. Thank you, all.

So, there you go.  All chances for Clinton are officially over.  She’s done.  But, she won’t drop out – she’ll keep fighting.  I don’t think she’ll take it to the convention anymore, but she’ll at least take it to June 3rd.

And that is why McCain will win.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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