‘We Want to Do It Better’

Wednesday, August 30, 2017Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.05.35 AM

Good Wednesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team
From the Magazine

The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math

Wisconsin State Assembly elections (before and after redistricting in 2011). Urban districts are geographically smaller because more voters (often Democrats) are concentrated in these areas.

Wisconsin State Assembly elections (before and after redistricting in 2011). Urban districts are geographically smaller because more voters (often Democrats) are concentrated in these areas. Infographic by Cataloguetree. Data by Campaign Legal Center.

In the late spring of 2011, Dale Schultz walked the short block in Madison from his State Senate office in the Wisconsin Capitol to the glass-­paneled building of Michael Best & Friedrich, a law firm with deep ties to his Republican Party. First elected in 1982, Schultz placed himself within the progressive tradition that made Wisconsin, a century ago, the birthplace of the state income tax and laws that guarantee compensation for injured workers. In the months before his visit to Michael Best, Schultz cast the lone Republican vote against a bill that stripped collective-bargaining rights from most public employees. But if Schultz had doubts about some of his party’s priorities, he welcomed its ascendance to power. For the first time in his career, Republicans controlled the State Senate and the State Assembly as well as the governor’s office, giving them total sway over the redistricting process that follows the census taken at the beginning of each decade. ‘‘The way I saw it, reapportionment is a moment of opportunity for the ruling party,’’ Schultz told me this summer.
Inside the law firm’s doors, Schultz took the elevator to what party aides called the ‘‘map room.’’ They asked him to sign a nondisclosure agreement, which he did without complaint. Schultz sat down and was given a map with the new lines for his rural district west of Madison. He and his wife, a former school superintendent, own a 210-­acre farm in the area, where they grow corn and beans and hunt pheasants. Schultz noticed that the newly drawn district mostly included precincts he’d won before. ‘‘I took one look at the map and saw that if I chose to run for re-­election I could win, no trouble,’’ Schultz remembered. ‘‘That was it.’’
Nearly all of the 79 Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly made a similar trip to the map room, signing the same secrecy pledge to see the new shape of their districts. The new maps efficiently concentrated many Democratic voters in a relatively small number of urban districts and spread out the remainder among many districts in the rest of the state. These are the twin techniques of gerrymandering, often called packing and cracking, which distribute voters to benefit the party that is drawing the district lines.
‘‘So glad we are in control!’’ one state senator wrote in an email to a key Republican aide after her visit. No Democrat was invited to Michael Best & Friedrich, though the Republican leadership paid $400,000 in legal fees on behalf of the Legislature as a whole. In July, the statewide maps were unveiled at a single public hearing.
Read more »

ON THE RUNWAYPresident Trump and Melania Trump boarding Air Force One on Tuesday.

Melania Trump, Off to Texas, Finds Herself on Thin Heels


The first lady set off for Texas, but her shoes got all the attention. Here’s why.

President Trump on Monday at the White House.

Harvey Gives Trump a Chance to Reclaim Power to Unify


Hurricanes are political events, benchmarks by which a president’s abilities are measured. But many of those in Mr. Trump’s orbit are worried he won’t be self-controlled enough to maximize the moment.

People in Tokyo watched news coverage of North Korea’s missile launch on Tuesday. The missile flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

As North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan, Analysts See Gains


Pyongyang did a more realistic test of the type of missile it had threatened to use to strike near the American territory of Guam.

Members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces parachuted during live-fire drills Sunday in the foothills of Mount Fuji.

A Pacifist Japan Starts to Embrace the Military


As the North Korean missile threat grows, there are signs that Japan’s citizens are moving away from the country’s postwar pacifism.

Tim Cook, center, the chief executive of Apple, visiting Capital Factory, a tech incubator in Austin, Tex., last week. Austin’s community college is the latest to offer a new curriculum that Apple developed for creating apps.

Apple’s Tim Cook Barnstorms for ‘Moral Responsibility’


Don’t expect him to become a politician, but the Apple C.E.O. sees gaps in governmental social policies that he believes companies like his are obliged to help fill.

Alex Michael Ramos, a suspect in the beating of an African-American counterprotester in Charlottesville, Va., turned himself in Monday.

Charlottesville Beating Suspect Is Arrested in Georgia


Video images helped identify the suspect, the second man arrested in connection with an assault on an African-American counterprotester on Aug. 12.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
James Fotis in Fox News:
“Under [the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio’s] command, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office boasted the highest percentage of Hispanic deputies, detention officers and staff in the state of Arizona. Moreover, he promoted more Hispanic officers to command positions than any other law enforcement agency in the state.”
Mr. Fotis runs the National Center for Police Defense, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to law enforcement and contributed to Mr. Arpaio’s defense. He argues that the verdict by a federal judge that held Mr. Arpaio in contempt of court was a “travesty of justice” and “politically motivated from the beginning.” He goes on to defend Mr. Arpaio against accusations of racism, noting that Mr. Arpaio has “two grandchildren who are of Hispanic descent.” Read more »
From the Left
Bob Bauer in Lawfare:
“Trump disrupted the operation of the criminal justice process to score a political point, and he believes that the ‘complete power to pardon’ gives him all the space he needs for this maneuver and requires of him only the most pro forma, meaningless explanation of his action.”
Mr. Bauer, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, finds the administration’s pardon statement to be “damningly” brief. He links Mr. Trump’s pardon to another piece of big news from Friday night: the departure of the White House adviser Sebastian Gorka — reading the pardon as a “gesture” to appease the “right flank” of his constituency. Read more »
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