The Gerrymander Is Still the Primary Invasive Species in This Country

·6-min read
Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Bettmann - Getty Images

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post)

Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin’ goes on and where winter here is an unknown thing.

So what’s happening on the redistricting front? Is the amphibian still the primary invasive species all over the country? Oh, hell yes. In Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers is touring the state promoting a “People’s Map Commission” proposal that was put together by a nonpartisan body, in contrast to the map that emerged from the Republican-majority state legislature that seems to maintain Wisconsin’s current status as one of the most ridiculously gerrymandered states in the Union. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

The GOP proposal focused on a “least change” methodology to maintain the core of existing district boundaries, which have been regarded as some of the most gerrymandered maps in the nation and have afforded Republicans strong majorities in both chambers for the last decade.

It should be noted that even the maps Evers is promoting preserve the current Republican majorities in the state legislature. They just ensure that those majorities are less absurdly out of balance with the popular vote totals. In response, the legislature’s Republicans have produced the customary mendacity.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said in an email the commission “prioritized partisan gerrymandering over core constitutional protections.” Republicans have decried the commission maps for splitting more counties and municipalities than the GOP maps, though they split slightly fewer than the current maps the GOP drew in 2011.

Oh.

Elsewhere in America’s Dairyland, a local sheriff has been watching too much Tucker Carlson—or maybe Gunsmoke reruns. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

The Racine County sheriff is recommending charges against five state election officials because they told clerks to bypass state law during the coronavirus pandemic and send absentee ballots to nursing homes instead of first visiting in person. Attorney General Josh Kaul blasted the move made by Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Wednesday, calling it "a disgraceful publicity stunt" and "an abuse of authority.”

Schmaling said Wednesday in a news release he wants Commissioners Marge Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson and Mark Thomsen to be charged with five separate crimes related to the incident, including felony charges of misconduct in public office and election fraud and three misdemeanor counts of being a party to a crime. Thomsen, Jacobs and Glancey are Democrats; Knudson and Bostelmann are Republicans.

It will never end. I don’t think we’re even at halftime yet.

Photo credit: John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock
Photo credit: John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock

The new bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission was so deadlocked by its Republican members that it simply gave up on trying to draw new maps for the state’s congressional delegation. No worries, though, because the Republicans in the state legislature have stepped into the breach. From the Columbus Dispatch:

Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate unveiled two different maps Wednesday for the state's 15 congressional districts. Both would leave Democrats with two safe seats despite voter-approved changes to curb gerrymandering.

Neither map would give Cincinnati a Democratic district even though 57% of Hamilton County voted President Joe Biden in 2020. The House GOP proposal would keep Cincinnati with Warren County, a heavily Republican area, for the 1st Congressional District, which would include both Reps. Steve Chabot, of Westwood, and Brad Wenstrup, of Columbia Tusculum, as drawn. The Senate GOP map would combine Cincinnati and several GOP counties to its east, stretching to Portsmouth.

New Hampshire, a woodland full of cranks that is mistaken every four years for being quaint, has two damn congressional districts. And yet, mischief is afoot even there. From WMUR:

Under the GOP plan, the 1st Congressional District would become more Republican-friendly while the 2nd District would be even more solidly Democratic than it has been for the past decade. House Democrats, who are in the minority in the Legislature, also released a plan, but it would make only a minor change.

So the plan seems to be to create one Republican district in perpetuity and one forever Democratic district, because God forbid that anybody actually try to appeal to voters from the other party.

The approach of the GOP majority has been to try to stay within the boundaries of fairness while attempting to change the 1st Congressional District from a swing district that has recently favored Democrats to a more Republican-leaning district.

Those boundaries seem to be fairly flexible.

Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP/Shutterstock

And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Good Egg Friedman of the Plains brings us a story from the Sooner State’s legal system and reminds us of what Friend of the Blog Dahlia Lithwick once said in a similar circumstance: “Oklahoma killed someone while trying to execute them.” From Tulsa Public Radio:

The state’s prisons agency is now likely to face new litigation, which may focus on the state’s description of the execution of John Marion Grant for the 1998 slaying of a prison cafeteria worker as “in accordance with” protocols.

Grant, 60, convulsed and vomited after the sedative midazolam was administered. That drug was followed by two more: vecuronium bromide, a paralytic, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart. Thursday’s lethal injection ended a six-year moratorium on executions in Oklahoma that was brought on by concerns over its execution methods, including prior use of midazolam…

…Grant was strapped to a gurney inside the execution chamber when the drugs were administered. After several minutes, two members of the execution team wiped the vomit from his face and neck. He was declared unconscious about 15 minutes after receiving the first drug and declared dead about six minutes after that, at 4:21 p.m. In a statement released immediately after the execution, state prisons spokesman Justin Wolf said it “was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complication.”

What exactly would Mr. Wolf consider a “complication”? Spontaneous combustion?

Oklahoma’s protocols call for administering 500 milligrams of the sedative. Arkansas and Ohio are among other states that use that dose of midazolam in executions. “It’s just an insane dose and there’s probably no data on what that could cause,” said Jonathan Groner, an Ohio State University medical school surgery professor and lethal injection expert. He added that sedation does not increase as the dosage goes up. “There’s a reason these drugs are given by anesthesiologists and not prison guards,” he said.

It should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court already has decided that this particular barbarism is neither cruel nor unusual.

This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

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