Whither High School lockers?

I was going to save this Washington Post story about how HS kids hardly use their lockers any more for quick hits, but since Drum blogged about it, how could I resist.  Especially as I have been generally bewildered by my high school son’s largely locker-free school and his willingness to be responsible all his stuff at all times.

I loved how Drum actually picked out the same absolutely asinine quote I had been planning on highlighting:

But then reporter Joe Heim talks to a high school principal who tries to explain why:

“The high school experience has evolved where learning is anytime, anyplace,” said Ann Bonitatibus, principal at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, where most of the school’s individual lockers were removed during a renovation last year. “The more that our campuses are like that, the more inclined our students are to have their materials with them at all times and all places so that way they’re learning at lunch, at 20-minute break periods or between classes.

Ha ha ha. Sure they are. My only question is whether Bonitatibus really believes this, or was just trying to put one over on Heim.

The real answer, of course, is: who knows? Lockers became uncool for the usual mysterious teenage reasons—probably because it annoys their parents—and now you get laughed at for using one. So nobody uses them, and if you ask why, they invent some reason or other to fob off on the oldsters.

Exactly.  Learning anytime, anywhere sounds like “enhancing corporate synergies” etc.  And I get that a lot of kids don’t like to wear jackets, but it can get pretty damn cold some days, even in NC.  My son (much to my consternation) has taken to simply wearing his jacket all day long.  Anyway, it’s one thing to have a backpack with you all day, but a coat?!  Anyway, kids today.  Get off my lawn!

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Photo of the day

From a recent Atlantic gallery:

A church and remains of an ancient village. which are usually covered by water, are seen inside the reservoir of Sau, in Vilanova de Sau, Catalonia, Spain, on January 11, 2018. One reservoir built in the early 1960s, submerging a village called San Roman de Sau and its 11th-century romanesque church, is so low on water that the ruins of buildings which are usually under water are now uncovered. 

Emilio Morenatti / AP

The gerrymandering times they are a-changing

538 just released this totally awesome feature on redrawing district maps in all sorts of cool ways.  And, yes, it is absolutely possible to draw fair maps across the whole nation providing a host of competitive districts.  What we shouldn’t do, though, is focus on shapes, as given the nature of Democratic urban concentrations, basing maps on “compact” districts provides a hefty Republican advantage (though not as much as their current gerrymanders).  So much fun to play with the map options (including for every state).

Anyway, it reminded me of an excellent piece from Jeffrey Toobin about the increasing wave of judges questions partisan gerrymandering:

The legal assault began on January 9th, when, in a powerful two-hundred-and-five-page opinion by Judge James A. Wynn, Jr., a three-judge panel struck down the North Carolina congressional-district lines. What’s most important about Wynn’s opinion is that he seems to have solved the biggest problem with judicial review of gerrymandering: the standard of review. Drawing district lines will always involve some degree of political calculation, but judges have struggled with the question of how much politics is too much. What rule should judges follow to determine if a gerrymander violates the Constitution? Wynn’s test is straightforward. As Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, puts it, under this standard, “a district map is invalid if (1) it was enacted with the discriminatory intent of benefiting a particular party and handicapping its opponent; (2) it has produced a discriminatory effect in the form of a large and durable partisan asymmetry in favor of the mapmaking party; and (3) no legitimate justification exists for this effect.” In plain English, Wynn’s test means that if politicians draw district lines solely to protect their partisan interests, they’re invalid. (The Supreme Court put the decision on hold, but this is a routine step when the Justices are considering a similar issue.) [emphases mine]

A comparable rationale seems to have motivated the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, earlier this week, to strike down the Republican gerrymander of the state’s district lines. In a brief order, with a full opinion to come later, the court held that Republican legislators violated the state constitution when they crafted districts that were so favorable to their party. Because the decision was based on the state constitution, as opposed to the federal, that means there is virtually no chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn it. The Pennsylvania court ordered new lines to be drawn in time for the 2018 midterms, including the primaries, so Democrats, who already have a favorable political environment in the state, have a new and better chance of picking up seats there.

As for the Supreme Court, I knew that Maryland had been added to the Wisconsin case, but hadn’t really thought about the politics of it.  I sure hope Toobin is right about this:

Still, the Supreme Court could slow or even stop the momentum against partisan gerrymandering. Last year, the Court heard arguments in a case challenging the Republican-drawn district lines in Wisconsin, and the Justices have yet to reach a decision. But, in addition to sympathetic comments by Justice Anthony Kennedy during the argument of the Wisconsin case, there is another reason for optimism. In December, the Justices agreed to hear a Republican challenge to a gerrymander by Democratic legislators in Maryland. During the oral argument of the Wisconsin case, several Justices expressed worry that they would appear unduly partisan by striking down a Republican-led effort; the chance to eliminate a Democratic initiative at the same time would satisfy the Court’s desire to appear even-handed in its application of a new standard—and would serve as a warning to all states that gerrymandering had become an out-of-control affliction across the country.

That said, it’s pretty much all in Anthony Kennedy’s court.  All we can do is hope he does the obviously right thing.  Though, I do wonder about the possiblity of other states ruling based on their state constitutions, as Pennsylvania has.

 

The strategery of the post-shutdown

Really liked this post from John Cassidy which nicely lays out the strategic advantages for Democrats from the shut-down agreement:

Progressives worry that Schumer and his colleagues will capitulate again in February, which could happen. But a number of things will be different then. For one thing, they will already have assured six years of funding for chip, the public health-insurance program that serves six million children…

The second difference is that, by mid-February, the deadline for reaching an agreement on the Dreamers will be almost upon us. Over the weekend, Democrats were vulnerable to the argument, made by McConnell and others, that they had shut down the government over an issue that doesn’t have to be resolved immediately. In three weeks, Republicans won’t be able to say this.

Thirdly, by February 8th, the “Common Sense Coalition,” a group of twenty-five moderates led by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, which helped resolve the weekend standoff, might well have put forward an actual bill to protect the Dreamers and give Donald Trump the funding he wants to build his non-wall along the border with Mexico. If that bill passes, as seems likely, the White House will be under pressure to declare victory and call on the House Republicans to fall in line…

As the Huffington Post’s Matt Fuller pointed out, “The Democratic position of not voting for a government funding bill until there’s a daca deal seems much more reasonable if there’s actual legislation that’s passed the Senate and is being ignored in the House. You’d be certain to hear the words, ‘Give us a vote, Mr. Speaker!’ ” …

Another key point is that the potential roadblocks to a deal would still be there if the Democrats had again rejected McConnell’s offer. They might be even larger. With the government closed, Trump and the Republicans would be pounding the Democrats, claiming that they were holding hostage two million federal employees. None of the critics of Monday’s deal has explained how the Democrats would have been able to change this dynamic as the shutdown went on and large elements of the public got more disgusted about it. It seems fanciful to suppose that Trump, whose entire outlook on life is circumscribed by his obsession over whether he is “winning” or “losing,” would have capitulated and given the Democrats a better deal than the one McConnell offered.

By agreeing to reopen the government, the Democrats didn’t insure the Dreamers will be protected: the critics are right about that. But they didn’t give the house away, either

Exactly.  Good points all.

Meanwhile, Michelle Goldberg reminds me why I was not a fan before she moved to the NYT:

It’s hard to overstate how disgusted many progressive leaders are. “It’s Senator Schumer’s job as minority leader to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed to do it,” Ezra Levin, a co-founder of Indivisible, a left-wing advocacy group modeled on the Tea Party, [emphasis mine] told me. “He led them off a cliff. They caved.” (An Indivisible chapter is planning a Tuesday evening protest outside Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment.)

Right– because we need liberals emulating the Tea Party.  Ugh.  If Goldberg had not noticed, the Tea Party was busy undermining a number of Senate seats Republicans should have won with quixotic quests of ideological purity and insistence that a party lacking the presidency somehow accomplish all it’s policy goals.

And Paul Waldman makes the case that this is really all on Paul Ryan now:

But whatever the Senate passes would then have to pass the House. The trouble there isn’t getting the votes, because a bill that was acceptable to the Senate would likely be able to pass the House without much of a problem. Presuming all or nearly all House Democrats vote for it, it would only need two dozen of the 238 Republican members to join in. The question is whether Ryan would allow a vote on a bill. If he does not, the dreamers would lose their work permits and likely be driven underground. Some could be deported — ripped away from their families and the country they grew up in, to be sent back to places they barely know. It is no exaggeration to say their lives are in Ryan’s hands.

And what do we know about what he’ll do? Like most Republicans, when questioned about dreamers, Ryan says the right things. Last January, Ryan had a powerful exchange with a dreamer mom, during which he hailed her contribution to her community and said he and Trump want to act to allow people like her to “get right with the law.” More recently, in September, he said that dreamers should “rest easy,” because the Republican-controlled Congress would make sure they get to stay. In December, he again said he wanted to “make sure that we don’t pull the rug out from under people.”

But if Ryan is going to be true to those sentiments, he might have to break another promise — one he made to the hard-right Freedom Caucus…

What it ultimately comes down to is these questions: How deep is Ryan’s cruelty? Will he condemn hundreds of thousands of dreamers to possible deportation because he’s afraid of the ultra-right members of his caucus? Or will he do what he himself says is the right thing? [emphasis mine]

We all know that once the threat of the government shutdown has passed, there won’t be any immigration compromise. The conflicts within the Republican Party are just too deep. So it’s now or never, and the fact that dreamers are going to have to rely on Paul Ryan’s humanity makes it hard to be optimistic.

And, in a similar vein, Yglesias make it crystal clear.  If you want to blame somebody for the Dreamer’s status, blame Republicans, damnit!

[And, if you are too young for GWB, and wondering about the title of this post.  I’ve always loved “strategery” and enjoyed using it ever since (9’25” in at the link)].

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