Gerrymandering and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has taken up a Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Whitford v Gill, in which some Liberal plaintiffs claim the State’s Republican legislature went too far in gerrymandering the State’s state legislature districts.  The plaintiffs are centering their beef on the idea that Republicans are overrepresented in the State’s legislature compared to State-wide voting tallies; Democrats didn’t get their “fair share” of the seats.

The plaintiffs are targeting Justice Anthony Kennedy in what is likely to be a sharply divided court, and some of Kennedy’s remarks at oral argument are, indeed, troubling.

A Referendum

Catalonia is trying to have one (had one as you read this) on whether the Autonomous Community should completely separate from Spain.  It’s turning violent as the Spanish military organization with police duties, the Guardia Civil, and the more civilian Policía Nacional, are using hammers and other such tools to break into locked buildings within which voting is occurring and truncheons and rubber bullets to try to block Catalans from entering and voting.

Nearly 850 civilian casualties had been inflicted by late Sunday, Dallas time.

On Catalonia’s Drive for Independence

The Wall Street Journal argued against it Wednesday.  I disagree ( a surprise, I know).

Nor is such a referendum permitted by international law….

This is a domestic Spanish affair; dragging international law into the matter is just cynical.

…they [Catalonians] fail to acknowledge the price all Spain pays for the national defense and diplomacy that keep Catalonia secure.

This is a cost that Spain no longer would have to bear if Catalonia succeeds in secession. As the Spanish, Catalonians, and Tunku Varadarajan, who wrote the piece at the link, well know.

Discrimination

Now FEMA is doing it, and it’s religious discrimination.  Churches, bastions of succor in times of disaster—like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—suffer their own damages in those disasters, as they did in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  However, unlike other charitable organizations in similar straits, churches are being denied FEMA assistance to recover.

Law on this is not clear because separation of church and state, New York University Law Professor Burt Neuborne is claiming.

The difficulty is that the Constitution has two provisions in it. It has a freedom of religion, but it also has kind of a freedom from religion which prevents government money from being used for religious purposes, worship purposes.

Nonsense

The National Park Service is handing $100,000 to UC Berkeley in a “research” grant to “to ‘honor the legacy’ of the Marxist revolutionary group the Black Panther Party.”  Worse, it did so without following its usual competitive bidding process for research grant money.

This cooperative research project between the National Park Service (NPS) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) on the Black Panther Party (BPP) is anchored in historical methods, visual culture, and the preservation of sites and voices.  The project will discover new links between the historical events concerning race that occurred in Richmond during World War II and the subsequent emergence of the BPP in the San Francisco Bay Area two decades later through research, oral history, and interpretation.

Interagency Coordination

Despite being dead for years, hundreds of veterans remained on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) payroll and received nearly $38 million in benefits, according to a report from the Social Security inspector general.

The SSA says this is the fault of the VA for not supplying accurate information, and it may well be.

Unfortunately, though, this failure isn’t unique to the VA.

The SSA, Medicare, and the IRS badly coordinate routinely, so that it’s often the case that Medicare recipients get overcharged for their Medicare premiums until the IRS and CMS (which runs Medicare) catch up with each other or the recipient appeals (which actually is a pretty prompt process, but it needn’t occur in the first place).

Senate Workings

Senator Jim Lankford (R, OK) had some thoughts on this in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.  In the main, he was pushing back against the desire of some to get rid of the filibuster, and he offered instead some other corrective actions that are worth considering.  In the main, I agree with him on the filibuster; although I believe that the Progressive-Democrats, when (not if) they next become the majority party in the Senate, will get rid of the filibuster altogether, and for the same reason they got rid of the filibuster on judge nominations other than for the Supreme Court: to stop those uppity Republicans from getting in the way.

It’s Murder

That’s what one of the signs held by a protestor says in the lead image of the Wall Street Journal piece on the soon-to-be-fatal plight of baby Charlie Gard.  The baby suffers from a rare mitochondrial disorder that usually is fatal.  The baby’s doctors insisted this case can only be fatal, and a British court (and a European Union court!  Is there any stronger argument for the Brits taking themselves out of the EU?)—because in Great Britain Government gets the final word on babies, not parents—agreed and agreed with the doctors’ further demand that baby Charlie be taken off life support to die.

Charlie Gard and the British Government

Or, Charlie Gard and sovereignty.

Charlie Gard is the baby with a rare genetic disease that has damaged his brain, probably fatally and soon.  The baby’s parents want to be able to try alternative treatments, or in the alternative, be allowed to bring him home to die there with his parents who love him rather than encumbered by the state’s bureaucrats and representatives, his parents also by-the-way present, in an emptily sterile hospital room.

The Mueller Investigation

Is Robert Mueller running a legitimate investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign or officials in it and Russia?

Robert Mueller hasn’t decided whether to actually investigate Trump: Report

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

Mueller Seeks to Talk to Intelligence Officials, Hinting at Inquiry of Trump

Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings

It isn’t possible for the Mueller investigation to be legitimate with all of these leaks about his investigation and its status and findings that he’s permitting to occur.  Or that, Comey-esque, he’s doing himself.