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Ohio district maps rejected, but don't think gerrymandering is only a Republican tactic
By Gary Abernathy
Ohio map drawing goes on, but both parties gerrymander
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that both the state legislative and congressional maps drawn by Republicans — although by different processes — are too gerrymandered, and has ordered new maps to be drawn. Shown above is a proposed congressional map created by Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives.
While it’s being reported that the court’s ruling was a big slap-down to Republicans, it’s more likely that GOP officials who drew the maps knew that the first effort was a Hail Mary; in other words, let’s draw the most partisan maps we can, and take a chance the court will say OK.
That didn’t happen, so now Republicans will have to pull out Option 2 on both maps — probably just slightly less gerrymandered — to see if that flies. For the state maps, Republicans were ordered to play nice with the Democrats and be more inclusive, so there will be at least a pretense of doing that. Then, there’s always Option 3, etc., until the court finally says yes.
Anyone who thinks that only Republicans play the gerrymander game should think again. Check out this story from Newsweek, based on Associated Press reporting, about what Democrats have done in Illinois:
The new Illinois congressional district map was given an "F" grade by a nonpartisan evaluation group because of the gerrymandering tactics border drawers used to give Democrats a significant advantage, the Associated Press reported. … Even with Illinois losing a seat due to population loss, the map was drawn to create a congressional delegation of 14 Democrats and three Republicans starting in 2022, a change from the current 13-5 split. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan group that evaluates maps, gave Illinois' maps an "F" grade, saying they give Democrats a significant advantage and are "very uncompetitive."
For those inclined to criticize, fine, but criticize both parties.
The Oath Keepers, accused of pre-planning their actions on Jan. 6, were in fact lucky to coordinate a carpool
The downside of charging members of the Oath Keepers, including the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, with sedition in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol is that it gives this group and other fringe elements of society much more attention and credibility than they deserve. Rhodes and the Oath Keepers were mocked over the weekend by Saturday Night Live, and not taking them seriously is in this case appropriate.
Their history suggests that Oath Keepers members are firmly entrenched in the land of make believe, essentially playing “army” in their backyards — but only those who leave their recliners. They reportedly claim thousands of members, but motivating more than a handful of them to climb out of their BarcaLoungers and follow orders was a challenge, considering that only 10 members, aside from Rhodes, have been charged so far with sedition. And of those 10, not all of them were people who actually went inside the Capitol.
NPR reported back in November that there appeared to be about 40,000 members, based on leaked records — but to join, you didn’t exactly have to show up to basic training and go through weeks of grueling drills. You just logged onto the internet, found the Oath Keepers’ website, typed in your name and contact information, and, voila, you’re in the club!
As NPR reported:
Included in the Oath Keepers leak were chat logs, emails and a list of nearly 40,000 names and contact information for members. Many of the people whose information appears in the Oath Keepers leak have confirmed to NPR and other news organizations that they did, in fact, sign up with the group.
CBS News has reported that in total, “at least 40 Oath Keepers were at the January 6 rally” in Washington. Forty. The vast majority of the thousands of “members” just sat at home around the country, most not involved at all, and only a relative few communicating online, according to reports.
The descriptions of the efforts of those who did show up or participate on Jan. 6 are embarrassing to them. For instance, there’s this from The Washington Post (italicized sections indicate copy from the Post; other comments are my own):
The defendants who have already pleaded guilty acknowledged they were among a group that forced entry through the Capitol’s East Rotunda doors after marching single-file in tight formation up the steps wearing camouflage vests, helmets, goggles and Oath Keepers insignia.
Get your official Oath Keepers insignia and a free decoder ring, boys and girls!
Some defendants also admitted to stashing guns in a nearby Arlington, Va., hotel for possible use by what they called a “quick reaction force.”
Seriously? As others have noted, this group, bent on destroying democracy, was careful not to violate local laws by bringing guns onto D.C. property. They left them in an Arlington hotel, just to be on the safe side.
In an interview with The Washington Post last February, Rhodes acknowledged that effort, saying the quick-reaction force was “only if the president calls us up.” “We thought antifa might try to storm the White House,” he said, without evidence. If such a thing happened, he posited, D.C. gun laws would no longer apply, because “we would have been part of the military.”
But until then, obey the gun laws.
The “quick reaction force” was waiting to spring into action “only if the president calls us up” to be “part of the military.” Right. Or perhaps they would be sworn in as a branch of Space Force if UFOs unexpectedly attacked.
Many media outlets have noted that sedition is a difficult charge to prove. As the Post reported:
The federal government last brought sedition charges in 2010, against members of the self-described militia Hutaree in Michigan who were accused of plotting to rise up against the government. A judge dismissed the charges, saying the government failed to prove the group had firm plans to launch attacks. The last successful federal sedition prosecution came 26 years ago, when Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “blind sheikh,” and nine others were convicted of plotting to blow up the United Nations, the FBI building and bridges and tunnels between New Jersey and New York, part of an effort to change U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
Chances are, a jury will listen to these folks testify and determine that they were too disorganized and clueless to be considered capable of planning or carrying out “sedition.” Violence? Sure, anyone can cause violence. Trespassing? Vandalism? Assault? Obstruction of Congress? Yes, yes, yes and yes, even if most of it happened with no planning at all.
As The Post has noted in earlier stories, most people who invaded the Capitol had no connection to any organized groups.
A Washington Post review of court records last year found that the vast majority of those charged federally were not known to be part of far-right groups or premeditated conspiracies to attack the Capitol. Instead, they were mostly everyday Americans, including community leaders and small-business owners, who appeared to believe Trump’s false claims of election fraud and gathered in Washington to protest or try to stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
What happened on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol was shameful and embarrassing. It should be remembered as one of the darkest days in American history. There were lives lost, and many more people seriously injured. The Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys or anyone else who took part in breaching the inside of the building — causing injuries, fear and panic in an effort to interrupt a constitutional ceremony to certify the election of a new president — should be held fully accountable.
But the pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring charges like sedition against the Oath Keepers or other fringe groups is part of a political calculation designed to connect such radical and relatively small organizations to the Republican Party as a whole when, in fact, most rank and file Republicans never heard of them until the media began devoting so much time and attention to them. But the more fringe groups like these can be kept front and center in the public’s mind, the more they can be used to smear the GOP en masse.
Charge as many people as the law and the facts justify charging, but with charges that apply and can be proven. And hopefully, reporters will do a better job of putting groups like this into context in regard to their overall reach, influence and capabilities.
Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.
Yesterday, the nation paused to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., one of history’s greatest Americans.
For many partisans, the weekend was a chance to insist that if he were alive today, King would be advocating for the Democrats’ voting rights bill. Maybe. It’s always tricky to claim to know how someone who’s no longer with us would feel about a specific piece of legislation or current political movement. People often do that, including on the right, invoking everyone from Lincoln to Reagan. Yes, King fought for minority rights on many fronts, including voting. That hardly means that the current legislation being pushed by President Biden and other Democrats, along with all its specific provisions — many of which don’t get a lot of publicity — would be championed by King.
We have enough from King’s actual life to remember and honor him. While his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 is his most famous, I’ve always been struck by what is no doubt his next best-remembered remarks, those made in Memphis on April 3, 1968, just a day before his murder, when he said:
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
If that’s not evidence of a premonition, I don’t know what is.
King was a brilliant man, an inspirational leader and someone who should be admired and revered by all people, regardless of race. Rightly remembered as a great civil rights leader, he was also one of our most gifted Christian ministers. Long live his memory and message.
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