Monday, April 25, 2016

Last Call For Rodent Intercourse 101

The GOP operation to take over state legislatures and House districts has been an unqualified success on a scale that defines just how impossible it will be for Democrats to ever have control of the US House for at least another decade, and probably two. This excerpt from author David Daley's new book shows us just what abandoning Obama in 2010 cost us: the House may not be in play for another 15 or 20 years at the least

In July 2009 Chris Jankowski sat down at his Richmond home with the morning New York Times. It had been eight months since Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the presidential election, capturing Republican stronghold after stronghold and helping to usher in a Democratic supermajority in the Senate. On television and on the front pages of newspapers, pundits had openly questioned how the GOP would survive to the next election. Even the brightest conservative thinkers thought the 2008 results signaled danger for the GOP. 
That July morning, buried inside a story about state legislatures and census projections, Jankowski read something that made him think 2008 wasn’t so fateful after all: “2010 is not just any election year,” wrote Timescorrespondent Adam Nagourney, “it is crucial given that this class of governors will be in charge as their states draw Congressional and state legislative districts as part of the reapportionment process after the next census.” Jankowski immediately recognized the opportunity. As written in the Constitution, every state redraws all of its lines every ten years. That means elections in “zero years” matter more than others. Jankowski realized it would be possible to target states where the legislature is in charge of redistricting, flip as many chambers as possible, take control of the process, and redraw the lines. Boom. Just like that — if Republicans could pull it off — the GOP would go from demographically challenged to the catbird seat for a decade. At least. 
“I read it and I thought we could do this,” Jankowski told me. As one of the leading tacticians behind the Republican State Leadership Committee, Jankowski had spent years trying to arm-twist GOP strategists and donors to spend more on down-ballot races: state houses, state attorneys general, local judges. Those might not be the sexy elections to invest in, but donations that would be a mere drop in the bucket to a presidential or Senate candidate might make all the difference at the local level. And unlike gridlocked Washington, D.C., policy outcomes could actually be influenced in state capitals. 
Every state handles creating their district maps a little differently. Arizona, Iowa, California, Washington, Idaho, and New Jersey all use various commission models. But the vast majority of states leave redistricting up to some combination of the legislature and the governor. Jankowski looked for states that were likely to gain or lose seats after reapportionment, and would therefore be tearing up the old maps and starting from scratch with a different number of districts. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, and North Carolina made that list. He looked for states where control was tight, and swinging just a handful of districts might tip the chamber to the Republicans, such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia, even New York. Then he checked for states where Republicans might control the legislature and the governor’s office, and would therefore be able to lock the Democrats out of redistricting altogether. He didn’t want a Democratic governor, for example, to be able to veto a plan. 
The annual report by Jankowski’s organization, the Republican State Leadership Committee, laid out the mission for the world to see: “Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.” 
“Our pitch document said, look, there are 25 true swing congressional districts,” Jankowski told me as we sat in the conference room of his Richmond offices. “We went back to those races from 2002 to 2008, and we found that $115 million had been spent on those 25 congressional races. All hard dollars. We had a graphic on the screen: 115 million hard dollars or $20 million in soft and we can fix it. We can take control of these 25 districts. We can take them off the table.” They called their project REDMAP.

Obamacare became the wedge issue to win those 25 REDMAP districts, and the rest became history. Democrats were completely, totally unprepared to deal with countering REDMAP in any way. Taking 25 districts turned into taking more than 60, plus the state legislatures needed to gerrymander the districts to become permanently Republican.

And the Democrats got slaughtered. 2014 made it even worse.  Now best case scenario is that Donald Trump is such an awful candidate that the Dems make headway, but that headway will almost certainly be lost in 2018.

It will take two, maybe three census redistricting cycles to undo what the GOP has done at the state level. Ironically the rise of Trump and the death of Justice Scalia may do more to save the country than anything the Democrats have tried to do in the last six years, or the next sixteen.

Wicked Webb We Weave

If you had former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on your betting slip on "Which Democrat would come to Andrew Jackson's rescue on the $20 bill first" congratulations, you're a winner.

One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a “monster,” as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being “known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,” as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness.

This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades.

Far too many of our most important discussions are being debated emotionally, without full regard for historical facts. The myth of universal white privilege and universal disadvantage among racial minorities has become a mantra, even though white and minority cultures alike vary greatly in their ethnic and geographic origins, in their experiences in the United States and in their educational and financial well-being.

Into this uninformed debate come the libels of “Old Hickory.” Not unlike the recently lionized Alexander Hamilton, Jackson was himself a “brilliant orphan.” A product of the Scots-Irish migration from war-torn Ulster into the Appalachian Mountains, his father died before he was born. His mother and both brothers died in the Revolutionary War, where he himself became a wounded combat veteran by age 13. Self-made and aggressive, he found wealth in the wilds of Tennessee and, like other plantation owners such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, owned slaves. He was a transformational president, hated by the reigning English American elites as he brought populist, frontier-style democracy to our political system.

I'm really not sure which is worse, Webb's revisionist views of Jackson, or Webb's revisionist views of race in 2016.  If you believe that white and black Americans share similar "educational and financial well-being" please do yourself a favor and go visit a black public school in your school district, and white one, and tell me they are in any way "similar".

Can't imagine why Webb got less than 1% of the Dem vote in this primary season, huh.

Bathrooms Going Bonkers

As predicted, after having lost on gay marriage, Republican bigots are rallying around state-level legislation denying trans rights in order to energize their hateful voters for 2016 contests and Ted Cruz is using it to try to save his failing campaign for the White House.

Transgender rights have become an unlikely and heated issue in the presidential campaign after North Carolina enacted a law that, among other things, mandated that people use the restroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate.

Cruz has seized on Trump’s assertion that the North Carolina law, which also rolled back other protections for gay, lesbian and transgender people, was unnecessary and bad for business — corporations including PayPal and Deutsche Bank scrapped plans to create jobs in the state after the legislation was enacted. Trump said there has been “little trouble” with allowing people to use the restroom they want, though he later said that states should have the power to enact their own laws. Trump also said he would let transgender reality-television star Caitlyn Jenner use the women’s restroom at his properties.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he probably wouldn’t have signed the North Carolina law, while both Democratic candidates have condemned it.

“There’s been a significant amount of conversation about it on the presidential level,” said Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel at the Human Rights Campaign, who said 50 anti-transgender bills have been filed nationwide this year. “In terms of it being new territory, the answer is yes.”

Cruz’s argument centers on the idea that allowing transgender women to use women’s restrooms would lead to deviants dressing up as women and preying on young girls. His campaign released an ad accusing Trump of capitulating to the “PC police” and asking viewers whether a grown man pretending to be a woman should use a restroom with your daughter or wife.

“Donald Trump thinks so,” the ad reads.

Cruz has woven his support of North Carolina’s law into his stump speech. There has been some backlash: A woman holding a “Trans lives matter” sign protested outside of a stop Cruz made in Allentown, Pa., on Friday.

Whether it's gay marriage 20 years ago or abortion issues ten years ago, the GOP has depended on measures designed to punish those people to get angry voters to the polls, especially in mid-terms.  It's worked in the past.  There's little reason to believe this won't continue to work in 2016, 2018 or beyond.

The notion that Trump-hating Republicans won't show up at the polls in order to get revenge on liberals is cute, but entirely wrong.  They'll show. They always do.


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