Redistricting as a not-so-secret Republican weapon

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Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein write for The New York Times that Republicans controlling the redistricting process (most specifically in North Carolina in this story) continue to use the process to dilute the political power of communites of color.

Mr. Reives is one of a growing number of Black elected officials across the country — ranging from members of Congress to county commissioners — who have been drawn out of their districts, placed in newly competitive districts or bundled into new districts where they must vie against incumbents from their own party.

Almost all of the affected lawmakers are Democrats, and most of the mapmakers are white Republicans. The G.O.P. is currently seeking to widen its advantage in states including North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Texas, and because partisan gerrymandering has long been difficult to disentangle from racial gerrymandering, proving the motive can be troublesome.

But the effect remains the same: less political power for communities of color.

The pattern has grown more pronounced during this year’s redistricting cycle, the first since the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and allowed jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination to pass election laws and draw political maps without approval from the Justice Department.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. also writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the redistricting process, looking at several states, including Pennsylvania.

Republicans have gone out of their way to draw maps that empower rural, predominantly white regions. They do so at the cost of disenfranchising voters in the diverse urban and suburban areas that have seen an increase in population. Republicans have deployed several tactics, but the most egregious are those that purposefully diminish the voting power of the communities of color: “packing” and “cracking.”

Both tactics are anti-democratic, and diminish the voting power of communities of color either by reducing the number of representatives they’re able to elect or diluting their influence altogether. For example, in Ohio, Republicans packed Black and Latino communities in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, into just one district, purposefully reducing representation of these communities in Congress. Meanwhile, in the same county, Republicans also split apart Asian American and Pacific Islander communities into separate districts, diminishing their voting power. In Texas, despite the fact that 95% of the population growth over the last decade has come from communities of color, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican legislature put in place maps that will actually increase the number of majority-white districts and reduce the number of competitive districts in Texas to just one. They purposefully drew these maps to ensure that rural, white areas electorally overpower the vote of more diverse communities.

There is no legitimate justification for these actions. It’s evident that Republicans have no qualms about bending or breaking the rules for their own gain and these maps show that. Their actions speak loudly to their unwillingness to implement fair redistricting processes and create fair maps that accurately represent voters, and they must be stopped — in the courts and in the states. Given what we have seen elsewhere in the country, it is essential for Pennsylvanians to pay attention as the map-drawing process reaches the critical juncture of considering draft maps.

Kim Parker, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, and Rachel Minkin of the Pew Research Center write that Americans are now more likely to prefer living in suburbs for a new reason: the COVID-19 pandemic.

About one-in-five U.S. adults now express a preference for living in a city, down from about a quarter in 2018. The share of Americans who would like to live in the suburbs has increased from 42% to 46% during this time, while preference for rural areas is virtually unchanged.

Regardless of where they live, nearly half of Americans (47% overall) say the pandemic has divided their communities; relatively few (13%) say it has brought people together. And many see a long road to recovery, with about one-in-five saying life in their community will never get back to the way it was before the coronavirus outbreak.

Across community types, about a quarter or more say the health and economic impacts of the pandemic remain major problems where they live, but the effects are felt most acutely in cities. More than four-in-ten urban residents (45%) say the economic impact of the outbreak is a major problem in their community, and 37% say the same about the health impact of COVID-19. By comparison, 31% of those in the suburbs and 33% of rural dwellers say the economic impact of the pandemic is a major problem in their local area, and about a quarter each say the health impact is a major issue.

Chabeli Carrazana writes for The 19th about emerging data and anecdotal evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic may be altering some notions of American fatherhood.

In most households where child care fell apart, it was mothers who were making the choice to quit work to care for children. The disintegration of care has pushed enough women out of work in the past two years to trigger a recession. What happened to moms was stark: Millions left the workforce, then hundreds of thousands more dropped out as the 2020 and 2021 school years began.

But what was happening to dads was less clear and, in some ways, more complicated.

As of October, about a million fewer fathers of school-age children were actively working in the labor force than pre-pandemic, compared with 1.4 million fewer moms of kids under the age of 18. In October, about half a million dads between the ages of 25 and 54 were on leave from work and another half a million were unemployed, according to data provided to The 19th by Misty Heggeness, a principal economist and senior adviser at the U.S. Census Bureau who has been closely tracking outcomes for mothers and fathers during the pandemic. (The available data does not reflect nonbinary people, but includes some LGBTQ+ parents.)

Those figures are all higher than pre-pandemic levels, but still largely trending downward month-to-month since early 2020.

What the data doesn’t reflect are all the decisions taking place individually, between partners and between colleagues — the places where gender norms that were once strictly followed, consciously or not, are becoming more fluid.

Paul Krugman of The New York Times says that concerns over inflation may be overblown—at the very least, we need to reference a time other than the the inflation of the late 1970s.

For one thing, despite high headline numbers lately, underlying inflation by the end of 2022 isn’t likely to be anywhere near 1980 levels. Standard measures are currently unreliable because of pandemic weirdness — who knew used cars could loom so large in the statistics? But possibly more robust measures like the Atlanta Fed’s “sticky price” inflation or the Dallas Fed’s “trimmed mean” suggest that a Powell disinflation, if it has to happen, would start from 3 percent or 4 percent, not Volcker’s 10 percent. In fact, the starting point for such a squeeze would be roughly the end point of Volcker’s squeeze, which raises the question of why we should even bother.

Back to that in a minute.

Even if we assume that we will have to get inflation down to 2 percent from, say, 3 or 4 percent, that’s only a third or a quarter of the 1980s adjustment. And there are reasons to believe that the cost would be even smaller than that comparison implies.

A number of economists have suggested that the current inflation looks more like 1946-48 than like the 1970s. Comparing the two episodes is tricky, in part because we don’t have standard measures of core inflation going back that far, and overall inflation was unstable as families still spent a third of their income on food. But one rough-and-ready way to get something like core inflation for the 1940s is to look at service prices, which were much less volatile than goods prices…

Corey Mintz writes for NBC News that the practice of tipping service staff is unfair in many many respects.

The incident occurred in early December when a group of more than 30 diners contributed to a $4,400 tip to be split between their two servers at the Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas. But then one of the servers, Ryan Brandt, told the diners that her manager said the tip had to be shared with all staff, with only 20 percent going to her. Then she was fired. (The restaurant issued a statement saying it wouldn’t disclose the reason she was let go.) So we’ve got an easy-to-hate villainous restaurant manager, a victim the audience can identify with — she has student loans to pay off! — and a whole squadron of heroes. All of which obscures what’s actually wrong with this story.

[…]

When sufficient tips are given out to boost wages above the minimum hourly rate, how those tips get divvied up lacks transparency and any guarantee of equity. There is no standardized way of splitting tips, and disclosure of tipping policies has not yet become part of the expected information a restaurant provides its customers.

While it can seem wrong that the Arkansas server had an intended tip snatched away, restaurant hosts, bartenders and bussers who don’t get handed cash directly might themselves working below minimum wage and relying on shared tips from their co-workers.

That restaurants have this policy of “splitting” tips and gratuities with the entire staff (as opposed to reserving the tip only for the servers of a table) is one reason I always carry some cash when I dine in, so I can always put the cash in the hand of whoever served me.

I also directly tip bussers who I notice working their asses off. I’ve worked in restaurants where waitpersons don’t tip their bussers for clearing their tables and keeping coffee mugs filled (among other support), and, as a result, I never assume that waitpersons tip bussers. One of the first waitresses that I bussed for told me to stop working so hard for coworkers who did not tip me. Within weeks of me following her advice, they started tipping me.

And then there was the busy-busy 1990 Easter Sunday, with customers lined up outside the door. One of the waitresses told the boss that I had stolen her $4 tip off of a table.

The truth: I didn’t steal her money. The customers put that money in my hand and thanked me for my service. I gave that waitress the $4; after all, I had already collected nearly $40 of my own simply from being the only busser in that dining room that day.

I got stories …

Aleksander Brezar writes for Euronews that the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, in part, may have sowed some of the seeds for the difficulties facing Bosnia and Herzegovina today.

One of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s three presidents, Milorad Dodik, spent the last three months pushing for laws that would see almost half of the country withdraw from its central institutions.

The nationalist Bosnian Serb leader is clearly aiming to weaken the country’s central government, including threats of creating his own Bosnian Serb army.

For many, this is eerily similar to the scenario that launched the 1992-1995 Bosnian War and has provoked fears of a renewed conflict in the country.

[…]

Drafted to bring the war to an end in 1995, the US-sponsored Dayton Peace Accords created two main administrative units in Bosnia — the Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, or RS, and the Bosniak-Croat majority Federation of BiH.

The two entities were given some autonomy, with an umbrella state-level government with its three-way presidency — with each member representing one of the three main ethnic groups — and a council of ministers overseeing the country’s main institutions, including the army, the top judiciary, and tax administration.

It is precisely these institutions that Dodik wants to pull out of.

Finally today, Richard Javan Heydarian writes for Al Jazeera, warning that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is on track to become the next president of the Philippines.

A recent survey has shown that the former dictator’s son can count on the support of close to half of all Filipino voters in the May 9, 2022 presidential election. His closest rival, Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo, has struggled to secure the support of even just a quarter of prospective voters. Having already convinced presidential daughter Sara Duterte to become his running mate, Marcos Jr currently enjoys a large lead just months removed from the election day. Since the Philippines has a single-round, first-past-the-post electoral system, where there are no runoff elections, Marcos Jr just needs to win more votes than all other candidates to clinch the presidency.

Former First Lady Imelda Marcos, notorious for her extravagance and rhetorical flourish, is now preparing to reclaim her place of pride in the presidential palace. While it is true that Philippine elections are widely unpredictable, the meteoric resurgence of the Marcoses is itself a stinging judgement on the profound failures of the country’s democratic institutions. Decades of judicial impunity, historical whitewashing, corruption-infested politics and exclusionary economic growth has driven a growing number of Filipinos into the Marcoses’ embrace.

[…]

A century ago, Spanish novelist George Santayana warned that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. In the Philippines, this warning has proved prescient. The memories of the pain Marcos inflicted on the country have been replaced by nostalgia for an imaginary “golden age” under the late dictator. And this nostalgia, coupled with many failures of democratic politics, paved the way for the resurgence of the Marcoses.

Regarding that last paragraph: I do remember that late 19th- and early 20th-century philosopher George Santayana was Spanish and not American, but it is a bit of a stretch to call Santayana a “novelist”; he only published one novel in his lifetime.

Everyone have a great day!





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