Project Wonderful

Monday, March 2, 2015

Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

From the Brennan Center:
On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which will decide whether Arizona voters had the power - through a citizen ballot initiative - to establish an independent redistricting commission to draw the state’s congressional maps every ten years.

The case could invalidate congressional redistricting commissions in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey, and Washington and, depending on how the court rules, also could throw into doubt the tie-breaking procedures used in four states to resolve legislative deadlocks over maps as well as redistricting commissions in New York, New Jersey, and Maine. A measure approved by Florida voters in 2010 to tighten redistricting standards also could be at risk.

The ramifications of the case extend beyond redistricting, however. The Arizona Legislature's constitutional challenge to the commission is based on the Constitution’s Elections Clause and contends that the clause should be read to mean that the “times, places and manner” of federal elections can be set only by state legislatures or by Congress. That clause governs not just redistricting plans but a wide range of laws related to federal elections. If Arizona’s independent commission is struck down as unconstitutional, dozens of other state laws also could be at risk. These include 21 state laws adopted by ballot initiative and another 45 that needed approval by voters via a legislative referendum or constitutional amendment. Examples of such laws include Mississippi's voter identification law, Oregon's vote by mail ballot elections, and Ohio's ban on straight party voting. In short, the ruling, expected in late spring or this summer, could be a blockbuster.
Does anyone else see a huge problem with elected officials being the only ones who draw the lines deciding who elects them? Hello gerrymandering! Partisan redistricting only provides a vehicle for the party in power to solidify its hold on a state and its Congressional seats. Not to mention the fact that bipartisan and non-partisan commissions are almost always more favorable to Democrats than partisan gerrymandering schemes hmm... Partisan gerrymandering dilutes the will of the people, serves to disenfranchise voters and favor politicians. The idea that the Supreme Court would consider banning alternative redistricting methods CHOSED BY THE VOTERS is ludicrous to me. But ya know, what do I know?

Lady Times!

The number of things I would like to blog about far exceeds the time I have to blog. This leads to a terrible cycle of me filing away articles in order to give a subject the time it deserves, only to have a story become irrelevant or me to get so overwhelmed with articles I meant to blog about that I forget what I was going to say in the first place.

One of the topics that seems to get short shrift is women and electoral politics, precisely because there is so much I want to say that it is difficult to choose what to write about. I decided that rather than ignore all the amazing articles I want to share with you until they pile up, when things get too backlogged I will simply link to a bunch of articles so at least I've shared them, if not editorialized. Here are some now.

A brief history of women running for President. Did you know that the first women to run for a major party's nomination was Republican?

The amazing Barbara Mikulski announced that she will retire at the end of her current Senate term. Mikulski is the longest serving woman in Congress and is know for her mentorship of other female Senators both Democratic and Republican. It's hard to overstate what Senator Mikulski means to those of us who are passionate about women's political participation. Feelings.

International Women's Day is coming up on March 8th! Here is a brief history thereof. In related news, asking "why isn't there an International Men's Day?" is a good way to get me to uppercut you. #MakeItHappen

In news that will surprise exactly nobody who has been paying attention, women make more effective legislators than men. It's nice to have another study confirm it though. Turns out women are more likely to introduce, pass, get cosponsorship and gain bipartisan support for their bills.

Apparently the UK's Labour Party thought it could woo women voters with a pink bus? John Oliver has the smackdown.

A New York Times article talking about how Hillary Clinton will message gender in the 2016 campaign. My favorite part is picture caption that begins "She and her husband, Bill..."

And oldish news,but on the other side of the spectrum, Rand Paul shushed a female reporter like she was a dog barking at company. Because the best way to avoid answering a question is to demean women.

And an Idaho lawmaker asked if women could get remote gynecological exams by swallowing a pill, because apparently knowledge of basic female anatomy should not be a prerequisite to legislating medical decisions on behalf of women.

Republican Congresswomen blocked a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks because the bill did not make provisions for victims of rape and incest. Although that may not be the most reproductive justice friendly news you've ever heard, it is critical because it shows the importance of having women at the decision-making table in every scenario. Good on Republican women for standing up for other women! (Even though it's not to the extent I would like.)

And finally... not directly about electoral politics but definitely political and about women, this amazing video shows what would happen if theft victims were treated like rape victims and why women often don't report sexual assault.

BAM! Thanks for reading. I have to go get some sleep before Day 2 of the EMILY's List conference which is, as expected, AMAZING!

Campaign Feminist Love and Mine,


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Advocate From Where You Stand: MILF Edition

This Peruvian anti-harassment PSA is pretty cool. As I've pointed out before, women deserve respect because they are people not just because of their relationship to men, in this case their mothers. However, I would argue that this ad makes that point potently by "humanizing" these targets of harassment in the most intimate way possible. You can read more about the campaign here.

Koch Party!

Okay. The title of this New York Times article really sums it up. "Koch Brothers’ Budget of $889 Million for 2016 Is on Par With Both Parties’ Spending"

They are spending like they are their own political party! Are you KIDDING? Are you KIDDING? How is this democracy?

As the three senators addressed the audience of rich donors — effectively an audition for the 2016 primary — they dismissed a question about whether the wealthy had too much influence in politics. At times they seemed to be addressing an audience of two: the Kochs themselves, now among the country’s most influential conservative power brokers.

Mr. Cruz gave an impassioned defense of his hosts as job creators and the victims of unfair attacks by Democrats, while Mr. Rubio suggested that only liberals supported campaign finance restrictions, so as to empower what he said were their allies in Hollywood and the news media.

Wow. God bless America.

NOI Turnover

Big news about which I have no insider knowledge. Very sad. I have a lot of love for NOI's work and many of the people associated with it. You can read about it here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Missouri State Rep Mike Moon Gets Honorable Mention In Worst Person Contest

This human mustache display case is State Representative Mike Moon. He introduced a resolution in the Missouri House to "insist that each member of the Missouri Congressional delegation endeavor with ‘manly firmness’ and resolve to totally and completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, settling for no less than a full repeal.”

I don't even know where to go with this. Do I make a sex joke? Do get I feminist ragey? Do I talk about how heartless is it that Republicans want to deny people healthcare to serve a political agenda? Oh, look I just did all three.

In response to criticism Moon offered, It is just like going to war," Moon said. "You want a soldier to fight like a man. If a woman is in the trenches, you want them to fight like a man, too.” As my friend Natalie quipped, "I didn't mean to offend women, what I MEANT was that women are not as good as men." Dude, you're making it worse.

Moon also pointed out that the phrase "manly firmness" is taken from the Declaration of Independence describing the founding fathers' opposition to King George. Much respect to the men who risked their lives for our bold experiment in democracy, but when it comes to gender equality I hope we've evolved since then. (*Cough, cough Thomas Jefferson was a rapist.*)

US Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill pretty much nailed it. "He's referring to a point in time when women were chattels and didn't have the right to vote. I think we can update our vocabulary...I don’t think you prove your manhood by kicking folks off their health coverage and once again letting insurance companies discriminate against women and sick people."

I'll take Senator McCaskill's common sense feminism over Rep Moon's "many firmness" any day.