The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, April 11, 2005

Barney Frank is gerrymandered to buggery


I'm looking at a puff piece (bear with me...) for the Dems in the Boston Globe (bylined Rick Klein) under the extraordinary hed and dek Foes cite progress vs. Bush agenda: Say strategy fuels GOP infighting

The lede reads like a DNC press release:
Senior Democrats are increasingly confident that they have blocked Republicans plans for historic breakthroughs in legislation under GOP control of the White House and Congress, declaring that the Democratic strategy of unified opposition to major items on the leadership agenda has succeeded in turning Republicans against themselves.

Klein is clearly not calling into question the sanity of those Senior Democrats - he's waving those anonymice about like an upraised middle digit to poke in the eyes of his readers. The editorial agenda is as patent as one of Hack Franken's Catskills routines.

You sense his ears pricked and nose moist as he takes dictation from His Master's Voice (the emphasis is mine, if I may be permitted):
''The Democratic caucus has never been as unified, and you've seen it on Social Security, the budget, and judges," said Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada. ''It took a while for us to realize that we weren't in the majority. I think, though, we have learned the lesson well. And we have also learned that the majority party won't be in the majority forever."

Any journo worth his salt would have made just a little of the insultingly absurd claim in bold: barring a year or two in the 107th Congress, the Dems have not been the majority party in either house for a decade.

How much notice do these guys need?

Klein does mention that Lost Decade (Ray Milland only lost a weekend, and they made a movie about it!) - but look how he does it:
Nonetheless, after 10 years as the minority party in Congress, many Democrats who in the past have pushed for the party to offer explicit alternatives are realizing they can more effectively communicate their message by positioning themselves in the ways they oppose Republicans, said Representative Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat.

That's a pretty repulsive MO - providing a quote (which may or may not be direct [1]), but not identifying it as such until you have read it as the words of the journos.

He follows up with more Dem Pravda work:
But 100 days into the new Congress, Democrats have rarely strayed from the party fold.

Nominations (Rice and Gonzales, in particular)? Tort reform bill? Bankruptcy bill? Schiavo Circus?


That's not a party fold, that's Liberty Hall!

Perhaps the NYT Co has decided that, after all those Elisabeth Bumiller puff pieces for Bush they've included in the Times (not to mention the sterling work of Judith 'You Give Me The Carpet Salesman, I'll Give You The War' Miller), it's time to hedge their bets for 2006/08 with some pro-Dem puffery in the Globe.

Let's go back to Frank, though. Klein mentions he represents Newton, which sets me wondering about Frank's district, and sends me, via Wikipedia to the Congressional District maps. His is the Massachusetts Fourth District, I find; and, indeed, Newton (suburb to the west of Boston) is in his district.

It's not alone. That sucker screams gerrymander. It looks every bit as bad as the worst of the bug-splat and Rohrschach-crazy districts produced by the Georgia or Texas or California gerrymanders: it starts up around Brookline, snakes west (and tight) through Newton, veers south-west and narrows to a point before a chicane takes it south, when again it narrows to a point, before moving south-east and opening out like the Mississippi Delta through Taunton to New Bedford on the coast. There is an enormous gouge north-east of Taunton - a Republican stronghold, no doubt.

Massachusetts is not, apparently, required to produce racial gerrymanders under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [2]. Frank's gerrymander is, one might therefore suppose, purely partisan.

(Hint: a state in which Bush got 37% of the popular vote sends a delegation to the US House consisting of 10 Democrats and zero Republicans. Massachusetts Democrats clearly take no prisoners on redistricting: why should the GOP?)

One may judge the good faith of Barney Frank in the light of the fact that he is happy to benefit from the disenfranchisement of a third or more of his state's voters!

  1. It's not in quotation marks, so there's no advance warning to the reader that it's a quote. And, because it's not in quotation marks, you wonder whether different standards apply: whether the words have been paraphrased, or whether this is the writer's interpretation of a whole spiel. It's weaselling of a high order.

    In celebrity mags, fine. Martha Stewart, no probs. Not in a supposedly respectable newspaper, for crying out loud.

  2. It's not in the list of those states required to pre-notify. That's not conclusive of their being no VRA decisions governing Massachusetts redistricting, I believe.

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