AFD Micron #5

Systemic racism doesn’t mean white men in suits having secret meetings to decide how racism happens. The murder of Sam DuBose was clearly unpremeditated and spontaneous. It’s also clearly related to the overwhelming dehumanization of black people throughout American history, the normalization of immediately using violence to deal with them, police forces that are willing to cover for each other, and so on; snap decisions made with the weight of enough racist psychology behind them don’t demand conspiracy theories.

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US Supreme Court won’t stop plan to cut down Ohio early voting

Gregg Levine of Al Jazeera America reported on the abrupt end of Ohio’s same-day registration/early voting combo week and rollback of Sunday voting, after an emergency stay (of a lower ruling invalidating the reductions) by the Supreme Court:

[Tuesday] was to be the first day of Ohio’s “Golden Week,” a six-day overlap between the end of voter registration and the beginning of early voting for the November 4 General Election. But on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State and allowed to go forward a plan that significantly reduced the number of days voters could cast early ballots.

 
So what was being reduced and who was being affected most by the changes?

The [2005] provisions that allowed voters to register and vote the same day (the ballot counted only if the registration checked out) proved popular in African-American communities, as did weekend voting […] Ohio’s GOP-dominated government moved to cut the number of early voting days to 28, eliminating the Golden Week, some Sunday voting, and limiting operating times of polling stations to reduce availability outside traditional working hours.

 
This goes right back to the points Nate and I discussed on Episode 101 of Arsenal For Democracy, earlier this week, about the Republican efforts to suppress early voting options that benefited minorities.

And what happened when a lower court tried to block the reduction of early voting options on the grounds that it was a violation of the Voting Rights Act because of the disparate impact on minority and low-income voters?

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted rushed an appeal to the Supreme Court…

While his appeal is pending, he received an emergency stay, which allows the new, restrictive rules to go into effect, thereby reducing early voting options significantly in this year’s statewide elections in Ohio. Which is interesting because:

Husted is, himself, locked in a tight election battle with Democrat Nina Turner, an Ohio state senator.

 
Funny how that works. Looks like the Supreme Court just interfered in a close partisan election. Woops.

Levine also warns that this emergency stay may signal an impending second round of gutting the Voting Rights Act, possibly with the effective elimination of Section 2, which relates to changes in voting practice that have discriminatory effects, whether intended or not. The Supreme Court has never issued a written opinion on Section 2 since its amendment in 1982. Last year, of course, the court canceled the geographic formula in Section 4 that required special scrutiny and explicit Federal approval for changes in certain jurisdictions with a history of egregious discrimination.

Toledo, China

The New York Times today has an interesting article on how the Rust Belt city of Toledo, Ohio — population 280,000 — became a magnet for Chinese industrial, land, and business investments in less than a decade. Hundreds of trade reps and businesspeople have traveled back and forth in both directions, along with political officials. Many millions of dollars worth of investments in Toledo have resulted from these exchanges, as have deeper cultural ties.

In part it was lucky geography and its old manufacturing base:

“They looked on a map, figured out where we were sitting and saw the benefit,” said Mayor Bell, a gregarious former University of Toledo defensive lineman, referring to Toledo’s location near a number of large cities in the United States and Canada. “They could see that this town needed to be helped a little bit and that it could be on the upswing — that there was potential, that they could do something, that it could be incredible and it would not probably take a whole lot to do.”

[…] The city is a major transit hub, crossed by railways and highways, and has the busiest general cargo port in the Great Lakes region. Housing is affordable, and the abandoned factories, including those where windows, bottles and windshields were once made and shipped around the world, mean there is plenty of space.

 
But the city has also hauled in extensive investments with trade missions to China that are out-performing much bigger cities and even state governments. That may be somewhat cultural and because of, not despite, Toledo’s relatively small size:

The city’s informal “handshake culture” has also helped, Chinese and American business officials said, as deals that might unravel amid the bureaucratic machinations of a bigger city can be completed in Toledo in a matter of weeks.

 
It seems that in a globalized world, direct local diplomacy and local trade isn’t just for the cities and communities in the heartlands of the developing world. It’s possible to form such links here at home.

Republicans splinter on $50 bill

A couple weeks ago, I looked at a proposal by a southern Republican representative to replace Grant with Reagan on the $50. Students of (northern) history will recall that Grant is reviled in the South for a) winning the civil war, b) enforcing strong Reconstruction policies with martial law and c) wiping out the original KKK. Reagan, on the other hand, used dogwhistle campaign tactics to win the South in his presidential campaigns, emphasizing pro-segregation code words like “states’ rights.”

While Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) insists that this is a pro-Reagan move, not an anti-Grant one, and notes that he chose one Republican to replace another, I think it’s pretty obvious why most his 17 co-sponsors hail from the South.

Now Republicans outside the South are splitting over the proposal, despite their love of Ronald Reagan. Ohio Republicans are particularly annoyed because Grant was a native son:

State Representative Danny R. Bubp, a Republican from the [Ohio] district that includes Mr. Grant’s birthplace in Point Pleasant and childhood home in Brown County, is preparing a resolution that would oppose the currency change.

“The Union may not have won the Civil War had President Lincoln not had the wisdom to put Grant in charge,” Mr. Bubp said. “He was just the kind of guy who needed to be there at that time, and we should not diminish his place in history.”

 
Oh snap.

This post originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.