Republicans Say the Quiet Part Out Loud: Fewer People Should Vote
Don’t count the wokes + we still use Facebook + NCGOP wants both sides in the classroom + NC Dems want easy weed and divorce + Joe Manchin … just stop talking + the Standard Model is busted
Thurs., April 8, 2021
Howdy, friends. There’s a ton of news to plow through today, so, you know, without further ado, etc.
Weather: Hot, mostly cloudy this afternoon, thunderstorms possible. High in the low 80s.
Today’s Numbers: 69, 23
Percentages of Americans who say they use Facebook and Twitter, respectively, according to a new Pew poll.
Facebook usage has held steady for the last five years. Twitter dipped a bit around 2019 but has recovered its position circa 2018.
The long-term grower is Instagram, which started around 10% in 2012 and is now at 40%.
YouTube and Reddit are the only social media sites that have seen significant growth since 2019.
TikTok enters the poll at 21%. (Ask your kids. Or maybe their kids.)
+TODAY’S TOP 4
1. The Right (for the Right People) to Vote
Less than 24 hours after Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, argued that invoking comparisons between Georgia’s voting restrictions and Jim Crow was Godwin’s Law Part 2, his magazine published a piece that has very unsubtle echoes of the Jim Crow mentality.
That is, not all people are equally qualified to vote. Meet Kevin Williamson:
One argument for encouraging bigger turnout is that if more eligible voters go to the polls then the outcome will more closely reflect what the average American voter wants. That sounds like a wonderful thing . . . if you haven’t met the average American voter.
Voters—individually and in majorities—are as apt to be wrong about things as right about them, often vote from low motives such as bigotry and spite, and very often are contentedly ignorant.
This is true—as demonstrated by, among other things, the presidency of Donald J. Trump. Williamson goes on to argue that the Founders put in place restraints on small-d democracy, which is also true. The Constitution enshrines rights, which courts exist to protect.
The problem is that, if we decide some people are lesser voters, then we have to decide who those lesser voters are.
For Williamson, there are a few hard lines:
Under 30? Probably not.
Don’t have access to government ID? Sorry.
Been convicted of a felony? Tough.
Let’s discard the age thing for being dumb and arbitrary. (I could just as soon argue for ditching voters over 80 on account of them not having much future to worry about.)
The bigger question: Should we give white Republican lawmakers responding to Trump’s obviously bogus fraud claims the benefit of the doubt when they claim they actually care about “election security”?
What they believe is just what Williamson wrote: The fewer voters, the better.
Take Mississippi’s election chief, who criticized President Biden’s executive order encouraging better access to voting because “he is worried that the nation will suffer if more ‘woke’ and ‘uninformed’ college students become registered voters.”
Secretary of State Michael Watson, who didn’t read the executive order long enough to realize it doesn’t mention automatic voter registration, told a local TV station this: “You’ve got an uninformed citizen who may not be prepared and ready to vote. Automatically, it’s forced on them: ‘Hey, go make a choice.’ And our country’s going to pay for those choices.” (Mississippi Free Press)
I’m fine with this line of thinking—so long as I choose who gets to vote. (Watson probably wouldn’t make the cut.) See how that works?
Suggested reading: I’ll touch more on HR 1, the For the People Act, in a second. For now, check out this piece on North Carolina’s election laws in The Assembly, from former Carolina Journal editor Rick Henderson. I don’t agree with it all, but it’s worth a read.
Because I can’t help myself:
2. NCGA Filing Deadline Nears, Let’s Get Crazy
The General Assembly’s bill-filing cutoff is nigh—the Senate’s deadline was (kinda sorta) Tuesday; in the House, local bills are due today, non-appropriations/non-finance bills are due May 4, and appropriations/finance bills are due May 11; the all-important crossover day is May 13—which means everyone is unloading whatever they’ve got, whether it’s going to pass or not. Most of it won’t.
Rule of thumb 1: If it’s introduced by a bunch of Dems with no Republican support, consider it DOA.
Rule of thumb 2: If it’s a bunch of Republicans doing a Very Culture War Thing, Cooper’s going to veto it.
SB700: An Act to Require Balanced Political Viewpoints in the Implementation of Public School Instruction
“The State Board of Education shall require that all curriculum, professional development, and teaching standards used to implement instruction … reflect balanced political viewpoints. When the viewpoint of one of the two major political parties in the United States is presented through materials, assignments, lectures, or other instruments for instruction in any classroom or other area of the school, the viewpoint of the alternative political party shall also be presented and given equal weight during the same instructional unit.”
There’s no date limit on this partisan-balance thing, so presumably any class on the Civil War is going to have to give Jefferson Davis equal time, and the Civil Rights Era will have to give our pal George Wallace up there “equal weight.” Rules are rules, right?
The bill would also require school districts to post to their website all instructional materials used during the previous school year.
Likelihood of passing? Zilch.
SB 688: An Act to Authorize and Regulate Sports Wagering in North Carolina
Schools aren’t going to build themselves, so why not gamble our way to prosperity?
“If passed, it would authorize sports gambling on professional, college, electronic and amateur sports or any other events approved by the NC Education Lottery Commission. The lottery commission’s profits go to education. Under the bill, the commission would collect an 8% tax on the monthly adjusted gross revenue of gambling companies, sending half of the revenue to a fund that would promote job growth and economic development.” (N&O)
Gambling could bring in $50 million a year, the sponsors think.
Likelihood of passing? Plus: bipartisan sponsorship and a whole lot of money. Minus: moral hazard, UNC opposition. Place your bets: 20% chance.
SB 459: An Act to Reduce to Required Period for Actual Divorce, Etc.
North Carolina has some, shall we say, anachronistic laws when it comes to the dissolution of matrimony. I believe I’ve previously mentioned the cuckolding law—aka alienation of affection—whereby you can sue your spouse’s lover if their affair breaks up your marriage, because your spouse is property or whatever. But there’s also the law requiring you to wait one year (!) while living apart (!!) before one party can file for divorce.
SB 459, filed by Democrats, would get reduce the waiting period to six months, allow the divorcing couple to cohabitate for financial reasons in the meantime, and jettison the alienation of affection lawsuit.
Likelihood of passing? Next to nil.
SB 660: An Act to Regulate the Dissemination and Removal or Destruction of Booking Photographs
There are websites—run by the worst people—who gather mugshots from all over the country, then make people pay lots and lots of money to have them removed from the internet. SB 660 tries to rein that in.
“A law enforcement agency is prohibited from providing a copy of a booking photograph in any format to a person requesting a copy of the booking photograph if (i) the booking photograph will be placed in a publish-for-pay publication or posted to a publish-for-pay website or (ii) the booking photograph is prohibited from disclosure under G.S. 132-1.4.”
“A person who requests a copy of a booking photograph from a law enforcement agency shall, at the time of making the request, submit a written statement signed by the person affirming that the booking photograph will not be placed in a publish-for-pay publication or posted to a publish-for-pay website.”
The bill goes out of its way not to include news publications, but I can’t help but wonder if that distinction won’t raise First Amendment questions.
Likelihood of passing? Bipartisan sponsorship, good cause, let’s say 33%.
SB 669: An Act Enacting the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act
Democrats are engaging in the annual ritual of introducing a medical marijuana bill that will never see the light of day even though roughly 97% of the state supports it. We can dream, can’t we?
▶️ OTHER STATE NEWS
Ronnie Long, who spent 44 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit—after being railroaded by racist cops and prosecutors who hid evidence—received a $750,000 check from the state of North Carolina for his trouble. He doesn’t think that’s enough and, well, yeah. (WCNC)
3. Joe Manchin, Mr. No
On Monday night, the Senate parliamentarian told Democrats they could use budget reconciliation twice every fiscal year, clearing the way for, well, lots of things: infrastructure, social welfare projects, healthcare.
On Wednesday night, Joe Manchin announced that he preferred gridlock.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III said Wednesday that under no circumstances would he vote to eliminate or weaken the legislative filibuster in his most definitive statement yet on the topic, dealing a blow to Democrats’ hopes of pushing major aspects of President Biden’s agenda through Congress.
The West Virginia senator also suggested in an op-ed published in The Washington Post that he would be opposed to using the budget reconciliation process, under which certain legislation requires only a majority vote, again to circumvent the filibuster, an avenue Senate Democrats have considered for passing Biden’s ambitious infrastructure package.
From Manchin, who either has been living under a rock the last 10 years or so or believes that Congress simply shouldn’t pass laws—including laws to protect democracy.
“The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”
“Our ultimate goal should be to restore bipartisan faith in our voting process by assuring all Americans that their votes will be counted, secured, and protected.”
“We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today. Legislating was never supposed to be easy.”
Just a few weeks ago, Manchin said he was open to reforming the filibuster.
Perhaps coincidentally, earlier on Wednesday, President Biden said he was open to negotiations with Republicans on the infrastructure bill, though he hastened to add:
“We’ll be open to good ideas in good-faith negotiations. But here’s what we won’t be open to: We will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction, simply, is not an option.”
The question, of course, is whether Manchin sticks when the chips are down. (As Thom Tillis demonstrated not so long ago, WaPo op-eds are hardly gospel.) It’s one thing to say he wants a new era of bipartisanship now. It’s another to be the last vote standing in the way of a $2 trillion infrastructure bill that’s being blockaded by Mitch McConnell’s obstruction machine.
4. The Particle That Breaks the Laws
Let’s end on a note about physics. Specifically, the muon, a particle that’s doing all kinds of weird stuff that scientists can’t quite figure out.
Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle seems to be disobeying the known laws of physics, scientists announced on Wednesday, a finding that would open a vast and tantalizing hole in our understanding of the universe.
The result, physicists say, suggests that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science. …
The particle célèbre is the muon, which is akin to an electron but far heavier, and is an integral element of the cosmos. Dr. Polly and his colleagues — an international team of 200 physicists from seven countries — found that muons did not behave as predicted when shot through an intense magnetic field at Fermilab.
The aberrant behavior poses a firm challenge to the Standard Model, the suite of equations that enumerates the fundamental particles in the universe (17, at last count) and how they interact. …
For decades, physicists have relied on and have been bound by the Standard Model, which successfully explains the results of high-energy particle experiments in places like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. But the model leaves many deep questions about the universe unanswered.
Most physicists believe that a rich trove of new physics waits to be found, if only they could see deeper and further. The additional data from the Fermilab experiment could provide a major boost to scientists eager to build the next generation of expensive particle accelerators.
It might also lead in time to explanations for the kinds of cosmic mysteries that have long preoccupied our lonely species. What exactly is dark matter, the unseen stuff that astronomers say makes up one-quarter of the universe by mass? Indeed, why is there matter in the universe at all?