phiffer.org

Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

How gerrymandered is a district?mike.teczno.com

Michal Migurski is working on a project for measuring legislative gerrymandering. Redistricting shenanigans can be detected from current, historical, and proposed legislative districts.

PlanScore is doing two things to address partisan gerrymandering.

We are creating score pages for district plans to provide instant, real-time analysis of a plan’s fairness. Each district plan will be evaluated for its population, demographic, partisan, and geometric character in a single place, with backing methodology and data provided so you can understand the number. We’ll publish historical scores back to the 1970s for context, current scores of proposed plans for voters and journalists, and dynamic scores of new plans for legislative staff who are designing tomorrow’s plans.

We are also assembling a collection of underlying electoral data from sources like Open Elections, elections-geodata, and other parallel efforts. Our goal is to provide valid scores for new plans in any state. As we await the outcomes of gerrymandering challenges in Wisconsin and North Carolina, voters and legislative staff in other states are wondering how to apply new ideas to their own plans. In 2020, everyone will have to redraw their maps. PlanScore will be a one-stop shop for district plan analysis.

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We will fight you and you will lose

Here are my responses to Donald Trump’s media accountability survey, which I’ve taken at face value. Yes, the questions are extremely one-sided, but they do allow for “other” responses.

Just to be clear, I certainly don’t advocate for participating in the survey. The research methodology here is dubious, to say the least. I hope I haven’t contributed to legitimizing it as anything but the propaganda that it is.

  1. Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?
    Using the word “movement” here diminishes the Office of the President, implies that you regard your power as extra-constitutional.
  2. Do you trust MSNBC to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
    It is telling that MSNBC comes first on the list, that you regard the network as the biggest threat to your legitimacy.
  3. Do you trust CNN to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
    Your outsize reaction to CNN’s reporting on the leaked memo has given it greater weight. You must realize the significance of a Carl Bernstein byline on it.
  4. Do you trust Fox News to report fairly on Trump’s presidency?
    I was surprised with the moral clarity and sharpness of critique in Shepard Smith’s reaction to yesterday’s press conference.
  5. On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans? (Select as many that apply.)
    (no “other” option available)
  6. Which television source do you primarily get your news from?
    (no “other” option available)
  7. Do you use a source not listed above?
    It’s so weird that you think TV news is the most relevant arm of the 4th estate. I guess it’s a generational thing.
  8. Which online source do you use the most?
    I financially support the New York Times, Democracy Now, and a handful of podcasts, but your question belies ignorance of the online media ecosystem. Any given “online” source could be your biggest threat (hint: all media are now “online,” it’s a useless category). Today maybe it’s BuzzFeed, tomorrow it will be someone else.
  9. Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?
    You have demonstrated a disregard for “the truth,” but I think your question is about whether more sources will go the way of Gerard Baker (editor of the WSJ), and fall into line with regime-approved framing of events. If that happens, I don’t see how the country will survive your Presidency.
  10. Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
    Many mainstream media sources are plagued by “the view from nowhere” where extreme views become legitimized by impartiality.
  11. Do you believe that the media unfairly reported on President Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting people entering our country from nations compromised by radical Islamic terrorism?
    I liked how Sarah Jeong characterized your EO on Twitter: “the Muslim ban is unconstitutional, illegal, a bad idea, and immoral. And those are different things.”
  12. Were you aware that a poll was released revealing that a majority of Americans actually supported President Trump’s temporary restriction executive order?
    Yes, I read about the poll, and it was disappointing. This is why we don’t put human rights up to a vote, why they are protected in the Constitution.
    Edit: there is a slight majority against the Muslim ban:

    National polls using random telephone samples have found support for the proposal ranging from 42 to 47 percent with slight majorities opposed (51 to 55 percent); Trump has cited Web and automated polls that show support cresting in the mid-50s, though those polls rely on less rigorous samples of the public.

  13. Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?
    Any time you hear someone complaining about “political correctness,” it’s really a demand that their bigotry should be tolerated.
  14. Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?
    This is such a tortured question, how did you arrive at this phrasing? Plus it’s meaningless without saying who is being taxed, and under what circumstances. I advocate for more progressive taxation as a means to address wealth and income inequality.
  15. Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?
    I do wonder how long it will be until Atheism isn’t a political liability in the USA.
  16. Do you believe that the media wrongly attributes gun violence to Second Amendment rights?
    I don’t think the Second Amendment protects individual gun ownership, but your question is about the media. I wish the media would give more attention to the connection between increased gun ownership and suicide and accidental deaths.
  17. Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
    Again with that divisive language: “our movement”? My fear is that “your movement” is about White Supremacy and racial violence. Your overly-defensive response to yesterday’s question about anti-Semitic threats is just the latest in a series of instances that make me extremely wary of your intentions.
  18. Do you believe that the media uses slurs rather than facts to attack conservative stances on issues like border control, religious liberties, and ObamaCare?
    You seem to think that disagreement and fact-checking is an insult. This is an authoritarian argument, that your position is above criticism.
  19. Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats?
    You were the outsider candidate, by definition you were going to be divisive to the GOP. But I do wonder if the media were too careful not to seem partisan in the last election, that they didn’t take you seriously (and literally) enough.
  20. Do you believe that the media creates false feuds within our Party in order to make us seem divided?
    You must feel extremely isolated right now. I think it’s because everyone within your party is considering whether they’re willing to go to jail for a political figure they never fully supported.
  21. Do you believe that the mainstream media has been too eager to jump to conclusions about rumored stories?
    Sure, anonymous sourcing weakens a story, but NINE anonymous sources forces a resignation. The key issue with the Flynn story is that he didn’t seem to realize his calls were being monitored. It’s a story about incompetence and that kind of sloppiness is what will get you impeached.
  22. Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?
    The premise of this one is so laughable, Mitch McConnell’s “top priority” was to limit Obama to one term. The strategy worked, but you don’t get to claim it didn’t happen. You cannot argue away the real political cost of obstructionism, and Democrats will have to answer to it as well.
    Edit: obviously Obama wasn’t limited to one term, but his agenda was severely checked by the GOP’s constant stonewalling.
  23. Do you agree with the President’s decision to break with tradition by giving lesser known reporters and bloggers the chance to ask the White House Press Secretary questions?
    You buried the most important question! You must have been embarrassed when “Betanyahu” saw how you conducted the joint press conference. The White House press briefing has become a self-parody of a cowardly dictator unable and unwilling to respond to difficult questions.
  24. Do you agree with President Trump’s media strategy to cut through the media’s noise and deliver our message straight to the people?
    To be fair, Obama set you up for this one. He set a precedent of media evasiveness that enables you to avoid accountability with impunity.
  25. Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?
    You are threatening the freedom of the press. We will fight you and you will lose.

Surveillance and inaction

NYPD skywatch tower
Photo: Life under occupation by Barry Hoggard

I am awash in thoughts and feelings this week. Donald J. Trump will very likely be our next President. This fact has already emboldened hate groups, leaving us to contemplate what the next four years could mean—especially for friends who will likely become targets of bigotry.

Should we go outside and protest? Should we turn inward and lean on our support networks? Do we start thinking about the 2018 midterms? Yes. Yes to all of it. If you need time away from this divisive election, you’ll be welcome to join us when you’re ready. I completely understand, especially if you worked on a 2016 political campaign.

For my part, I am regrouping, considering how I can do more, do better. Some friends have asked me about strategies for resisting surveillance. Digital privacy will become even more important in the coming years, and we should all collectively get better at protecting ourselves.

A very short answer is: switch your texting over to Signal, use a password manager. Start today.

Keep in mind that surveillance is for controlling your behavior. If you’ve ever said “but I have nothing to hide,” now is a good time to consider whether you intend to keep it that way. If you do choose to toe that line—maybe you want to wait and see if a President Trump keeps to his campaign promises—take a moment to consider how pervasive surveillance and the threat of anticipated consequences may be blinding you from a civic responsibility to resist.

I’d like to write more about this in the coming weeks, but for starters here are some links that might be helpful. Stay safe out there.

If you are wondering how precisely to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am figuring that out myself and would welcome your ideas.

The story of #RenunciaYagimletmedia.com

The most recent episode of Reply All is a fantastic antidote to recent developments in U.S. politics.

Download MP3

I challenge you to listen to this and feel cynical about politics and activism!

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The Great Big Adam Curtis Binge-Watchwww.listmuse.com

A comprehensive list of all of Adam Curtis’s documentaries, conveniently linked in one long list. There are a few I didn’t realize I hadn’t seen. I’ve heard that some of the videos include advertising breaks, so you may want to seek out alternate versions for those ones.

See also: that time I called into WFMU and asked Adam Curtis if he thought his use of imagery was manipulative (around 50 minutes in)

Link via Kevin Slavin

The brutal rationymag.com

New York magazine’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells identifies the key political fact that has emerged from the Intercept’s Drone Papers:

One question—maybe the most pressing question—is how the public feels about that brutal ratio of one targeted death to five or six unintended. The evidence so far is that the public is more or less okay with it.

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“This is something we should politicize”www.youtube.com

President Obama’s speech is worth watching in its entirety. Starts at 23:18.

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We are not the only country on earth that has people with mental illnesses, or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these mass shootings every few months.

Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response, here at this podium, ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it, we’ve become numb to this.

Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.

Vox’s Zack Beauchamp took up Obama’s challenge.

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WNYC’s State of the Union bingowww.wnyc.org

WNYC has a bunch of online stuff for tonight’s State of the Union speech. Not sure how I’ll pay attention to the enhanced web stream, the live chat (with the New Yorker’s own Amy Davidson), my Twitter stream, and also keep track of a bingo card, but I’m gonna give it a shot.

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The State of Detention: Performance, Politics, and the Cuban Publicwww.e-flux.com

Cuba may be an island but its culture does not exist solely for local consumption. Bruguera’s foreign audience is the only one at present that can easily consume the flow of information about her artistic proposals, political views, and serial detentions. The Cuban people remain outside the picture so to speak, but Cuba’s status as an art world superpower comes under scrutiny.

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Neil Freeman interviewed about his Electoral College Reform map

You may have seen Neil’s map before, where each of the US’s 50 states are redrawn to balance for population. It’s nice to see his project’s motivating ideas laid out like they are in this Paris Review interview:

I think that the biggest cultural change would be with the profusion of city-states. Many states overrepresent rural areas when it comes to divvying up funding for infrastructure projects and other spending. The alignment of metro areas and states would mean that decision-making power in land use and transportation would shift away from rural areas, which would probably mean less sprawl and more livable cities.

electoral10-1100

See also: Neil’s 50 states and 50 metros

The fifty largest metro areas, disaggregated from their states. Each has been scaled and sorted according to population.

#ShellFail behind the scenes (updated again)twitter.com

Here’s the amazing follow-up to yesterday’s Shell party malfunction now confirmed to be the work of The Yes Men.

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The terms ‘hoax’ and ‘fake’ don’t seem quite right to me. This is theater, plain and simple. The audience—both online and in person (?)—isn’t in on the joke for the first act, but this is all part of the larger theater experience. This video is act 2, and the resulting conversation and press coverage is act 3.

There’s a lot of symbolism packed into these short YouTube videos, but age is one of the more potent ones to me. The central character this video opens with is a stand-in for the many generations who’ve squandered the natural world at the expense of our inheritors. We don’t feel so bad laughing at her in the first act because of what she represents. That she’s already a well-known figure within the Occupy narrative makes the big reveal all the sweeter. Bravo, Yes Men!

Update: I may have spoken too soon about act 3. Check out Arctic Ready website and the accompanying Twitter account.

Update 2: There’s another written recap of the event on Salon.

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Why you should fear Mitt Romneywww.animalnewyork.com

All this talk about “Amercia” is a distraction:

Gaffes stick when they reinforce an existing criticism of a candidate. Is anyone really worried that Mitt Romney, whose personal crest may as well be a spreadsheet, is insufficiently obsessed with details?

Here is Jay Smooth explaining why the Romney “meh” response is dangerous:

Also, my site was down for a while earlier today. It’s all fixed now.

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Bill 78 and the casserole protestwww.youtube.com

From Common Dreams:

Bill 78 not only “enraged civil libertarians and legal experts but also seems to have galvanized ordinary Quebecers.” Since the law passed Friday, people in Montreal neighborhoods have appeared on their balconies and in front of their houses to defiantly bang pots and pans in a clanging protest every night at 8 p.m.

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