Take a Gander at this Gerrymander

I’ve got an update for you related to a very important – arguably the most important – Supreme Court case being decided this term.  But first, here’s a good rule of thumb when it comes to the Supreme Court: it’s never a smart idea to try to predict the outcome of a case.gerrymandering cartoon

Even though you may think you know where a particular Justice’s ideological leanings will cause him/her to end up, and even though the questions a particular Justice asks during oral arguments may seem to make it obvious which side they’re sympathetic to, there will always be cases that end up surprising you.  While many Supreme Court cases these days do turn out exactly the way we expect them to, even the most seasoned Court watchers have felt the sting of a bad prediction coming back to smack them in the face a time or two. Continue reading

(Not So) Gun-Shy

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while:  why do people who generally avoid talking about politics or taking a public position on political issues make an exception for the gun control debate?   This observation is just based on anecdotal evidence — what I’ve seen with my own friends & acquaintances, so maybe you’ve experienced something different. Gun USA But I’d venture to guess that if you start to pay attention to it, many of you will notice the same phenomenon among your group of friends & acquaintances as well.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on Facebook, just to keep things simple.  It gives us a big sample group in a semi-public forum.  What I’ve seen there is that other than a very small handful of friends, most people avoid talking about politics or commenting on political posts.  Continue reading

King of Flop

One of the best parts about this time of year is that we get all of the year-end lists and superlatives, e.g. “The 100 best books of the year” or “Word of the Year” or for political junkies “Politifact’s Lie of the Year.” And earlier this month, Time magazine named its 2017 Person of the Year.  This year, Time chose to bestow that designation on “The Silence Breakers.” King Trump 2

But Time gave second place to none other than President Donald Trump.  Trump, likely foreseeing that he wouldn’t be chosen for the top spot, sent a tweet a couple weeks in advance of Time’s announcement to let us all know that he never wanted that dumb title in the first place. In other words, he pulled the old “you can’t fire me, I quit.”

The silliness had me thinking back to last year, when Time did choose Trump as its person of the year.  Shortly after Time announced that choice I read a really interesting in depth analysis of Trump’s Person of the Year cover image.  Since Trump seems so disappointed to miss out on winning the title again this year, I thought we’d let him relive some of last year’s glory by going back and taking a look at that cover and that analysis again right now.  Continue reading

The Purge: Election Near

As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.  That’s what the old cliché tells us.  And it tells us that for pretty good reason:  since 1896, Ohio has voted for the winner of the Presidential election in every election cycle but two.  But now that saying may be about to take on new meaning, as the U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear oral arguments in a voting rights case out of Ohio that could affect how elections are conducted all around the country. Continue reading

Forces of Evil in a Bozo Nightmare

If there’s one thing I hope Americans have learned from the Trump presidency and unified Republican control of Washington it’s that nothing is sacred. The 2016 election has probably been dissected more finely than any election in our country’s history,  but I believe one under-examined factor in the election result was complacency.rainbow & US flag

I think Trump’s win, at least in small part, came down to complacency on the part of people who would have come out to oppose Trump had they been more aware of how much was at stake.  Or perhaps – if not complacency – then a failure of imagination or a lack of understanding about just how much there was to lose under a Trump presidency and full GOP control of government.

Don’t get me wrong – there were many, many people who did get this, and were out there doing everything in their power to warn about it and to try to turn people out to vote for Hillary. But at the same time, there were a number of people who had been lulled into the comfort of eight years of the Obama presidency and the progressive advances that came along with it on a number of fronts.  Whether it was on the environment, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, etc., I think many people (even if subconsciously), felt, “yeah, we’re good now,” without taking into account how easily any or all of those gains could be reversed.

I’m hoping that now, nearly one year into Trump’s presidency, people are realizing that there’s almost nothing – no progress – in this country that can’t be undone when governmental power changes hands.  And on that note, I have an update on a legal dispute over same sex marriage rights that I first wrote about back in July in a post called “Wedded Miss.” Continue reading

Magic Mitch

Do you like magic shows?  I think the occasional magic trick can be fun, but I’ve never been especially excited by them. But here’s something I really did enjoy: back in July I read a post by law professor Michael Dorf that used magic as a metaphor for what was happening with the GOP and its attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.  magic

Dorf’s analogy stuck in my mind because I thought it was an elegant – and accurate – way to describe the strange and seemingly inexplicable behavior we were watching.  I’m bringing it up now, several months later, because I think the same metaphor aptly describes what’s happening with the GOP tax bill. Continue reading

Mandate with Destiny

The old saying goes: nothing in life is certain but death and taxes.  But I think there’s one more thing we can be certain of these days and it’s that Republicans will never give up trying to dismantle Obamacare.speeding ambulance The drive to kill Obamacare has become so deeply ingrained in Republicans over the last 7 years that it’s almost instinctual at this point.  So you won’t be surprised to hear that there’s now arisen yet another effort to tear down the dreaded health care law.

However, this time, the primary driver of this effort is not actually the desire to kill Obamacare in and of itself.  The main motivation this time is an even higher calling for the Republican Party: the desire to give corporations and rich people big tax cuts. Continue reading

So Blue

Today I have an unfortunate update for you on a recent DC Deciphered post, Justice Colored Glasses.  In that post I argued that one very small bright side of the Trump presidency is that Democrats/progressives blue glasses cropare finally starting to understand the importance of something the Right has long made a top priority: the federal judiciary.

This has happened for several reasons, but one is that the media has been doing a good job in recent months of focusing on efforts by Trump and Republicans to reshape the judiciary in a much more conservative direction.  So at the end of that post, I shared with you a recent NY Times article that I thought gave a nice, broad overview of how the right is pursuing this goal.

In addition to giving a picture of just how quickly Trump is changing the face of the judiciary and how crucial this project is for the right, [that article, by the Times’ Charlie Savage] gives details about how far outside of the mainstream some of Trump’s nominees have been.  Savage also covers the array of procedural tricks the Republican Senate is using to help Trump usher these changes through.

So now here’s the update: In that article, Savage described one procedural constraint that still remained on Republicans to slow them down in their rush to remake the judiciary.  There was one constraint left that still allowed the minority party –  currently, the Democrats – to have some ability to weigh in on the makeup of our third branch of government.   But in the short time since that article was published, Republicans have done away with that last restraint.

Continue reading

There’s a Hypocrisy in Our Democracy

Facebook has once again gifted me with one of those “Memories” of an old post that had slipped my mind until it popped up again on my timeline this weekend.  hypocritesThis one was from just a year ago.  And, as you’ve probably deduced since I’m writing about it here, it was politics related.  Written on November 16, 2016 it was just a couple weeks after Trump’s election win, and it was my attempt to gather my thoughts of the entire preceding year into just a few words. Continue reading