Monthly Archives: August 2017

Take a look at one of the country’s most blatant gerrymanders

By Christopher Ingraham

A North Carolina state senate district recently sprouted a mysterious new appendage that just happens to encompass a lawmaker’s second home. The extension, and the bipartisan approval it won in the GOP-led state legislature, is a classic example of the backroom dealing that happens when lawmakers are allowed to draw their own legislative boundaries.

A little background: North Carolina Republicans redrew all of the state’s legislative maps in 2011, following the 2010 Census. Democrats immediately cried foul, contending that the maps were drawn with the express purpose of solidifying Republicans’ hold on power in the state.

Technically speaking, the term for this is gerrymandering — deliberately drawing legislative districts in a way that benefits your party (if you need a brief visual primer on how it works, read this). In North Carolina, the specific issue is racial gerrymandering, as Democrats have alleged Republicans intentionally diluted the political clout of black voters when they drew the maps.

Courts, by and large, have agreed. Earlier this year, a panel of federal judges tossed out the 2011 maps and told the legislature to draw new ones by Sept. 1. Lawmakers recently wrapped up their new district plans and are submitting them to the judges for approval. Critics say the new plans are just as racially gerrymandered, in their own way, as the old maps.

But allowing legislatures to draw their own boundaries invites and encourages self-interested behavior among legislators: Republicans and Democrats get together to divvy up a state’s voters with a primary aim of protecting incumbents across the board

The North Carolina district with the brand new appendage vividly illustrates the point. At issue is the border, in the Fayetteville area, between Senate District 21, held by Democrat Ben Clark, and Senate District 19, home to Republican Wesley Meredith. The …read more

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Trump treasury secretary won’t commit to putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

By Damian Paletta

Harriet Tubman. (H.B. Lindsley/Library of Congress/AP)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday would not commit to carrying out the Obama administration’s plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, saying he had not made a decision about the matter.

Mnuchin said the decision would be based on how to design the currency in a way that prevents counterfeiting, rather than whose portrait was on the bill.

“Ultimately we will be looking at this issue,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview. “It’s not something I’m focused on at the moment.”

Mnuchin added that “the issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes.”

President Barack Obama and then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew proposed last year to take President Andrew Jackson’s image off the $20 bill and replace it with Tubman’s. Tubman, an abolitionist who helped many enslaved people escape, would be the only woman and only African American on commonly used U.S. paper currency.

Under Lew’s plan, Tubman’s image would be on the front of the $20 bill and Jackson’s image would appear on the other side.

The process was supposed to take several years.

President Trump has said he is very fond of Jackson, at times remarking that his election was reminiscent of the populist campaign that brought Jackson into power in 1829. Trump has a portrait of Jackson on the wall in the Oval Office.

Last year, in an interview with NBC, Trump said Tubman was “fantastic” but said putting her on the $20 bill was an example of “pure political correctness.”

“Well, Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” Trump said last year. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come …read more

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