OUTSIDE THE LINES

Posted in Rants on October 4th, 2017 by Ed

There is real hope that the Supreme Court could deal a blow to partisan gerrymandering schemes during this term, which bodes well for the aftermath of the 2020 Census.

But it wouldn't be 2017 if I let you get excited. Don't get very excited. This isn't going to end gerrymandering or even partisan gerrymandering; it may put an end to partisan gerrymandering so blatant, so "Ha ha fuck you what are you gonna do about it" bad that when the map is rejected in Federal court one can only say, "You could have gotten away with it, but you got greedy."

Look. Gerrymandering is no longer an art. It is a science, thanks to GIS software, massive data mining of social and demographic data, and bitter partisanship. People who are good at this sort of thing could gerrymander a Republican majority in the Illinois State Legislature (which is currently 2/3 Democratic). If you think I'm kidding, trust me – I'm NOT an expert and I can do it. As long as one throws shame out the window and is willing to draw the most patently ludicrous districts without any reference to reality or legal precedent, it can be done.

The era of party bosses eyeballing wall maps and drawing districts with a marker are gone. This is block by block, house by house precision. The technology has made political power and sheer gall the only impediments to gerrymandering the hell out of a state.

Turning 45% of the vote statewide into 60% majorities in the state leg as Wisconsin Republicans did may no longer pass muster if the Court does rule against the state. However, defining what is and isn't "partisan gerrymandering" will not have a clear definition. Like many things dealing with this topic it will have to be treated on a case by case, "I know it when I see it" basis. The Courts have long recognized that race is a relevant factor in redistricting, so…I mean, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to draw districts in a way that favors your party while using "Well, we were just keeping Communities of Interest together!" as cover.

A favorable ruling would be a rare bit of good news in this otherwise abysmal year, but go into it with your eyes open. This is, at best, going to end only the most comically over-the-top abuses of the redistricting process. All of the ordinary gamesmanship and attempts at system-rigging will putter along. That would be a net positive, but certainly no reason to have a ticker-tape parade.

THE SACRED HARVEST

Posted in Rants on October 2nd, 2017 by Ed

Bill O'Reilly is the only right-winger who is honest about the whole movement's position on the 2nd Amendment.

This is the problem in a nutshell. "The price of freedom." It doesn't matter how many people die. The rights of every impotent old white guy who needs to hoard guns in order to Feel Like a Man are more important than human life. The rights of suburban commandos to stock up on guns to fend off the Young Black Bucks or the Thugs or whatever euphemism is currently in fashion are more important than human life. The rights of some guy to indulge his hobby (Can I make chemical weapons in my basement and call it a "hobby" as long as I don't use them to kill anyone?) are more important than your right to leave the house and be reasonably certain that you're not going to get shot at random.

Mass shootings are to the modern US what human sacrifices were to some societies, but replace the sun with 2nd Amendment and the bountiful harvest with Freedom. If 58 people have to die so that we may enjoy the freedom to own 35 guns – the killer had at least that many – that is a sacrifice white America is prepared to make. YOU are a sacrifice they are prepared to make. You don't matter. Nothing matters. All that matters is Larry Limpdick's need to feel tough or manly or important or strong or ready for the Race War he and everyone else in the comments section of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is certain is coming because BLM or campus libtards or something.

We have so thoroughly normalized a completely demented, paranoid, conspiratorial, afactual right-wing worldview that a man can buy 35 guns and not only are there no meaningful obstacles to doing so but the fact isn't even considered especially noteworthy or out of the ordinary. The very fact that we live in a society where a person can announce that they own 10 or 25 or 50 or 100 guns and the overwhelming, immediate response is not "What in the living fuck is wrong with you?" followed by a psych evaluation is the definitive proof that this will keep happening over and over and over again.

It's not merely acceptable, it's normal. And it's not merely normal, it's a sign of patriotism and masculinity. You don't like guns? What's wrong with you? You queer or vegan or somethin'? Don't you love your country?

This will never stop in a society that thinks there is nothing abnormal about fetishizing and stockpiling something that has no purpose – "fun" doesn't count here, sorry – other than to kill.

The guy who did this is not scary because he is insane or mysterious. He is scary because he is normal. All of us know probably a half-dozen of this guy. Because we live in a society that tells itself that it's perfectly normal for a person to stockpile enough weapons to outfit a brigade of paratroopers. Despite the insistence that this is a perfectly normal and healthy thing for a human being to do, it is not. It is fucked up. And until we drop the "mental health" canard and admit to ourselves that the problem is we have allowed a deeply violent, paranoid, and twisted worldview to become so ordinary as to attract little notice, these sacrifices will continue on a more or less regular schedule.