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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 2007 / 3 Mar-Cheshvan

Mad Maps: It's time to draw the line on gerrymandering

By John H. Fund


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Gerrymandering — the drawing of district lines to favor a particular party, or incumbents in general — allows lawmakers to choose their voters, rather than the other way around. Almost all incumbents routinely win re-election and form a political elite that California's Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says has built "a fortress to keep the politicians in and the people out." In the next few days, the governor will have to decide if he will back what may be the last chance to substantially reform redistricting in California before the 2010 census.


The need is certainly there. In California, lawmakers in both parties have mapped out the state for their own benefit with the precision of a plastic surgeon. Of the 153 seats theoretically up for grabs last November — 80 in the state Assembly, 20 in the Senate and 53 in the U.S. Congress — only one changed parties. In 2004, not a single one did.


It was after that election that Mr. Schwarzenegger proposed a measure to have districts drawn by a commission made up of former judges, whose work would be approved by the voters. He put it on a 2005 special election ballot as part of his "Reform California" agenda. But he ran an unfocused campaign that was outmatched by his public employee union opponents, and all of his ideas were defeated.


But in order to ensure defeat of redistricting reform, both Senate leader Don Perate and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez felt compelled to pledge that they would move their own proposal to create fair districts. "Our commitment . . . is to fashion a bipartisan solution in a thoughtful way and put it on the ballot next year," Mr. Perata told the Los Angeles Times back in 2005.


Both men quickly lost their zeal once the redistricting measure lost. Last month the Legislature adjourned for the second straight year without acting on redistricting reform. The governor admitted that Mr. Perada hadn't shown "much interest" in the subject. Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton sheepishly acknowledged he should never have believed legislative leaders would limit their own power to draw districts. "Was I ever gullible," he lamented.


Instead, both legislative leaders have made a top priority of weakening the state's 17-year-old term limits law. Their brainchild, Proposition 93, will appear on the statewide ballot next February, along with the presidential primary. It is a convoluted measure crafted in legislative back rooms. Backers sell it as a strengthening of limits on legislative tenure, but in reality it would allow Messrs. Perata and Nunez and most of their colleagues to extend their time in office. Both men solemnly said they planned to pair term limits with redistricting reform: "We can't put one on the ballot without the other," Mr. Nunez told reporters in 2006. So much for that.


All of this presents Mr. Schwarzenegger with a dilemma. On the one hand, he has said he would refuse to support any weakening of term limits unless it's accompanied by a measure stripping legislators of the power to draw their own districts. But on the other hand, he has grown comfortable with the personal relationships he has built with existing legislators. "He doesn't like dealing with new people. He would like the players to stick around so he can deploy his charm on them," says one Sacramento lobbyist close to the governor's office. "It's possible he could trade away support for disemboweling term limits as part of some political deal."


But it's in the governor's interest to keep his pledge on term limits and push for redistricting reform again. Messrs. Perata and Nunez are currently stiffing him on his efforts to pass landmark measures on water policy and health care. Letting them off the term-limits hook would only weaken him, since the limit forcing him to leave office in 2010 would remain in place while the two Democratic leaders would remain power centers if their gutting of term limits passes.


"If he wants any legacy as a true reform governor, he should back redistricting changes now when there is still a political window for them before the 2010 census," says Roman Buhler, once a top aide on election issues to former Rep. Bill Thomas, and an adviser to the governor's failed 2005 redistricting reform. He points out that a ballot measure to reform redistricting could appear on the June (nonpresidential) primary ballot if supporters start to collect signatures now. Experts agree that the June ballot, which will not involve the hyperpartisanship and media clutter of a November election, offers the best opportunity to pass a reform measure.


He argues the political climate will be different in June 2008 than it was in 2005. Back then less than 70% of Republicans supported the overly complex measure proposed by their own party's governor. But today Mr. Schwarzenegger's approval rating is 59%, 25 points higher than in 2005. The Legislature's approval numbers have hovered around 30% throughout the last three years. At the same time, support for the general idea of taking away the power to draw districts from the legislature has remained popular with voters, who support the general idea by a 3-to-1 margin in most polls.


It's true Mr. Schwarzenegger has become estranged from GOP legislators since he moved left after his 2005 defeats to embrace a "postpartisan" agenda. But doing nothing on redistricting before he leaves office in 2010 would turn California into something approaching a one-party state without checks and balances. Tony Quinn, co-editor of the California Target Book, a nonpartisan analysis of state politics, says that if Democrats retake the governorship after Mr. Schwarzenegger's departure in 2010, it's "pretty clear" that they would use their control of the Legislature to push for the mother of all gerrymanders. "Democrats will use their mapmaking power to try to achieve a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature, thus wiping out the ability of Republicans to influence budget and tax legislation, which require a supermajority to pass," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times.


You would think California Republicans would take an active interest in the one-sided gerrymander that threatens them just over the horizon. The last time Democrats pressed their control of the redistricting pens, in 1981, they gained six congressional seats through what the late Democratic Rep. Phil Burton called "my contribution to modern art." One district was a 385-sided polygon. Another, which had the jagged and contorted contours of a Chinese dragon, included a floating "community" of boats in Los Angeles harbor that was disconnected from the rest of the district.


Almost everyone privately agrees that allowing California's legislature to retain monopoly control of redistricting produces bad government. It leads to polarizing elections in which moderates in both parties get squeezed out in primaries. It allows special interests to act as if they bought the Legislature — which in many cases they did. But politicians never give up power voluntarily, so the only way that district lines will be made more compact and demographically coherent is through a voter initiative.


The problem is much bigger than California. Even in pivotal elections like 1994 and 2006, most House races are mind-numbingly uncompetitive. Of the 435 House races contested in 2004, a mere seven incumbents lost. Only 37 of the victors received 55% or less of the vote. And for every bipartisan gerrymander such as California's, there is a Democratic one (North Carolina) and a Republican (Florida).


Political competition is the lifeblood of American politics. The ability to vote out incumbents has proved to be far more effective than selectively enforced "ethics" rules. If gerrymandering is allowed to become more sophisticated, voters and defenders of good government will have to become more tenacious in fighting it. It's time for Mr. Schwarzenegger to decide whose side he is on — that of the Sacramento power brokers he railed against when he won the historic 2003 recall election, or the people who will be increasingly disenfranchised if gerrymandering isn't brought under control.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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