## Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The mathematician in me chuckles every time they bring up gerrymandering.  Everybody thinks they know how to spot gerrymandering but they are usually mistaken. They see a district that has a contorted boundary and say, Aha! Gerrymandering!   However, the definition of fair district representation is one that reflects the demography and voter registration of a state as a whole.  Districts must be weighted with voters and demographics.  It’s not just spatial topography.  Consider Illinois, an easy example which has one large metro. The state is 56% Democrat in registration.  How would you construct a perfectly gerrymander-free state map?  Northeast is Chicago where most Dems and blacks reside.  The rest of the state is R and suburban or rural.  If you were to construct entirely rectangular districts with a high density of small rectangular districts in Chicago, you’d still be quite gerrymandered.  There is hardly any black representation in the larger part of the state. (well, okay, East St. Louis but that's just 55,000 people nowadays) Chicago is heavily Democratic. Hence the Chicago districts would vote D but the thin D-population in the other districts would probably make them become R districts. And that results in majority R representation for the state.  You’ve done the thing that gerrymandering has always achieved for the party in power. The opponents are forced into “ghettos” that vote highly their way.  The rest of the districts then distribute the remaining opposition voters into defeatable portions.  So if Illinois is 56% D and has 15 districts but the 6 districts of Chicago contain 75% Ds, the other 9 districts would be 55-45% R’s, and the state delegation would be, counterintuitively, 9 R’s and 6 D’s.

The “Fair” thing would be to have districts whose boundaries are like rays that begin in Chicago and extend across the entire state.  Thus an equal proportion of blacks would live in all districts as well as 56% Ds vs. 44% Rs.  But here lies the irony.  Nobody wants this. If blacks have less than 20% representation in all districts, they would find elections difficult and there would likely be very few black representatives—unless like Mia Love of Utah, you are a conservative that gets white votes moreso than even blacks.  That is, there would be no black “safe” districts. Secondly, politicians would hate campaigning simultaneously in Chicago and Cairo. Perfect demographics (that you can solve with a computer) makes for hard politics and pricey advertizing.

Because D’s tend to gather in small areas of large metros, and engage in identity politics, they will be forever tormented by gerrymandering. But in fact this may have been what the Founders envisioned when their constitution installed the Electoral College and the Senate that would not allow, as Madison called it, “one corner of the country to rule us all”.

## Friday, February 2, 2018

### Obama, not Trump, was a narcissist

Stung by criticism of Obama as being narcissic, Democrats have taken to calling Trump the same thing.  But narcissism is an actual psychological syndrome.  And it differs from egotism, a common symptom of politicians.  You have to think big of yourself to run for office because the opposition will be making all sorts of salacious, dire, wrongful allegations about you.  Most people would just say To Heck With It, but a pol drives on, desiring to change or advocate for the better of their country.

Narcissism is characterized by grandeur and complete lack of humility, ego that shuts out all others, self-worship that makes enemies of all who disagree, inability to learn from mistakes, and thin-skinned of criticism. When Trump picks up the Marine’s hat that blew off in the wind next to the helicopter, but Obama demanded the Marine hold an umbrella over him in the rain, that shows some humility in Trump but calls to question that in Obama.

Grandeur means an individual who dreams of his greatness, above all others in history.  The sun rises and sets on his opinion.  He thinks he is the smartest person in every room.  This was quite true of Obama.  Shortly after he became President, Treas. Sec. Geitner told him, “Your legacy is going to be preventing the second Great Depression.”  Obama replied, “That’s not enough for me.”  His cabinet meetings were few and according to former Secretaries, consisted in him doing virtually all the speaking.  Implication: The rest of you are fools. Listen to me. In Berlin, before he was elected, he gave a speech and said, “I’m the One you have been waiting for, the one the world has been waiting for.”  Narcissism is considered to have been the character of a number of hideous dictators of the 20th century--Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein.  These kind of leaders do autrocities with little remorse because in their minds everything is justified to promote them personally.  Of course, in a lesser individual, the delusion of being Napoleon or Caesar is grounds for institutional mental health. They are often incapable of achievement because, in gradeur, they attempt jobs for which they have not assembled skills, the guy who interviews for CEO who can’t read a treasurer’s report.

Obama wrote not one but 2 autobiographies by age 40. He hardly showed up in the Illinois House for debates.  He only gave lectures that were My Way Or The Highway. When it came to foreign policy, Obama made all his own decisions, according to John Kerry, because he believed only he  understood the issues. When asked which President he was most like, Obama chose Wilson, a character whom historian Forrest McDonald said considered himself “little short of messianic.”

Contrast this to Trump who addressed Li and China as equals, who loved throwing out packages to hurricane workers.  Trump has shown ability to make connections with people, has a pragmatic problem-solving skill, and is said by almost everyone that he listens a lot when you come into his office.  This was shown in the Immigration negotiations that were broadcast live TV with Democrat and Republican leaders in the White House.

Ego that blames all your problems on those you disagree with, who discards old friends and supporters with little thought is another characteristic.  Obama discarded Oprah, Jesse Jackson, and Jeremiah Wright suddenly. When a major supporter, labor leader came to the White House just days into Obama’s Presidency and asked him to reconsider a certain bill because it was adverse to the union’s members, Obama had him abruptly shown the door. He was never invited back.  This treatment was echoed by many others, including Oprah. Using Valerie Jarrett, a lesser-endowed intellect, and Michelle to be his gatekeepers, Obama locked to door to many supporters. Jarrett eventually locked horns with Rahm Emmanuel, a skilled politician, and Obama lost his legislative majority. They had disagreed over advocacy of Chicago as an Olympic destination and support of Solyndra.  Wealthy Jews complained that they gave Obama great sums of money and never heard from him.

Contrast this with Trump who argues often with Tillerson and Ryan.  He has kept holdover Democrats in his administration thinking he can win them over, only to discover he couldn’t  (Comey).  He relies on Generals for military advice instead of purging them like Obama did.

Solyndra and other eco-companies are good examples of how Obama was so cock-sure of his opinion that he never learned—another common delusion of a narcissist.  When Boehner told him that the economy’s problem was uncertain on taxes, cap and trade and healthcare, Obama slapped his hand on the table, “you’re WRONG!” Boehner said after the meeting, “He’s got so little appreciation of how Congress works.  If you challenge him, he’s furious.  He gives you the death stare.  He has no close relationship with any member of the Senate and certainly not in the House.” Pelosi said his relationship with House Democrats was “frosty.”  Harry Alford, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce said, “we are all happy about the symbolism—America’s first black President.  His view of business is that it should be a few major corporations, totally unionized, working with government.” [the very definition of fascism]

So for good reason, many would describe Obama as a genuine narcissist.  Trump is like that old loud guy you used to have for a boss.  Big ego, caustic comments, but he sure knew real estate (or banking, or farming, or auto mechanics).