The battle over how and who the 2020 U.S. Census has begun, with billions in funding and questions of congressional apportionment — and which party will be dominant (or not completely irrelevant) going into the next decade — hanging in the balance. The opening salvo is the Trump administration’s plan to include a U.S. citizenship question as part of the standard form. Given the White House’s distaste for immigration and immigrants generally and undocumented aliens in particular, it’s logical to expect that such a question would drive down response rates among folks not born in America (with special emphasis on urban areas) and skew the results toward rural, whiter and more Republican states and municipalities. This, of course, would be just dandy for the GOP, a party that’s proven repeatedly since 2010 that it will stop at almost nothing (blocking federal court nominations, shutting down the government, creating ludicrous gerrymanders) to preserve power.
Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain School District made national news this week when the district superintendent described their policy of placing boxes of smooth, round river rocks in each classroom. The plan calls for students to distract a school shooter by throwing the rocks at him or her. The plan, of course, received universal ridicule on social media. I think there’s a practical application, though.
Faced with questions over who, exactly, decided to blow $31,000 on a dining room table for his offices, HUD Secretary Ben Carson put the blame on his wife, Candy, despite email evidence that they both were involved. Setting aside that the affair is just the latest example of Trump’s ethically challenged cabinet members’ teste for the good life, the incident brought to mind the case of erstwhile state Rep. Ken Smith, who attempted a similar maneuver a few years ago. The local reaction then was more or less the same as it’s been now.
I’ve drawn a lot of cartoons blasting Pennsylvania’s ridiculously gerrymandered congressional districts, a map tailored by the GOP-controlled state legislature to deliver its party a 13-to-5 majority every two years. That map is effectively dead and buried now, although die-hard GOP partisans are now attempting to impeach the Democratic members of the state supreme court who righted the ship.
O frabjuous day, indeed.
Busted NCAA tournament brackets are a common hazard every March, but this year’s bounty historic upsets takes the cake. Here’s a 2011 cartoon from the vaults that could easily run today.
Democrat Conor Lamb’s razor-thin special-election victory in the heavily GOP-gerrymandered 18th congressional district has Republicans scrambling. Many, like Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, are downplaying the significance of Lamb’s victory, painting him (incorrectly) as a conservative who defeated an underwhelming opponent in Rick Saccone (which is totally a correct take).
The bottom line, though: A Democrat beat a Republican in district won by Trump in 2016 by better than 20 points, and that was tailor-made to — in the words of one GOP strategist — “elect a box of hammers.” The loss therefore doesn’t bode well for the GOP, which before Trump’s election was guaranteed a virtual sweep this November.
Lackawanna County’s laughably outdated property reassessment (the last one was done in 1968) is back in the news.