Extreme Gerrymandering In Ohio Called Out

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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.

Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.

Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.

John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”

This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.

Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.

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You may reach the author via email at administrator@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

Little Known FBI’s Race-Based Surveillance

There have been numerous media reports about a very troubling practice by the FBI to designate Black activists as “Black Identity Extremists”, an often bogus designation which is then used to justify subjecting the said activists to all levels of surveillance–private, local, state, federal and even military surveillance in major cities like Houston, LA, Chicago, New York and others. The rationale, a bogus one, is that a “Black Identity Extremist” or BIE is more likely to attack law enforcement officers and thus needs to be placed under 24-hour surveillance.

The controversy surrounding this program, beyond its prima facie racism, centers around the ease with which a Black activist could end up in this designation. Several media reports have said that even mundane activities like organizing or attending a Black Lives Matter rally could in the eyes of the FBI qualify a Black activist as a BIE subjecting them to unjustified long-term government surveillance, the fruits of which could be used in their criminal prosecution. Needless to say, Black activists who support/sympathize with Black Lives Matter on social media (Twitter, Facebook) can also very easily be designated as BIEs. Simply put, this is a very serious problem that is yet to garner the mainstream media attention it deserves.

Yours Truly has ranted and raved about the lack of mainstream media attention surrounding this seemingly–let’s face it–racist surveillance by the FBI for quite a while now, wondering when House Democrats would take up this serious issue with the justice department.

Well, it turns out Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee (R-TX) did indeed raise this issue with then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a House hearing on November 14, 2017. Rep Jackson-Lee asked Sessions; “My question is, as I hold up the poster dealing with the report under your jurisdiction–Black Identity Extremists. It is interesting to me that you are opposing [meant targeting] individuals who are opposing lethal force, similar to the attack on Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on Cointelpro, but there seems to be no report dealing with the tiki torch parade in Charlottesville chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’. Why is there an attack on Black activists versus any report dealing with the Alt Right and the White Nationalists?” AG Sessions responded that he was not aware of the report.

Cointelpro which Rep Jackson-Lee referenced in her questioning was a controversial and secret surveillance program the FBI deployed on Black civil rights activists in the 60s, most notably, on the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Historians agree that the primary reason the FBI ran Cointelpro on Black civil rights activists was to scare them into silence. This is precisely why when Black activists hear about “Black Identity Extremists” they are immediately reminded of stories they’ve read about Cointelpro and are justified in questioning whether the FBI has indeed reverted back to its 1960s tactic of stifling Black dissent.

Bottom line the “Black Identity Extremist” debate is one that begs for serious mainstream media attention. The mainstream media and indeed members of Congress must not remain silent as a section of the population is unjustly subjected to heightened levels of government surveillance all in an effort to stifle their first amendment compliant political speech. At moments like these, Martin Niemoller’s famous words come to mind; “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

GA Sec Of State Investigating Dems For “Cyber Crimes”

Georgia GOP’s long and troubling history of minority voter suppression has finally garnered national media attention now that its Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is one of the state’s voter suppression kingpins is running for Governor against a historic Dem challenger Stacey Abrams. There is intense media scrutiny on the Georgia gubernatorial race because if Dem Stacey Abrams wins, she will become the first female Black Governor of a U.S. State.


One would think that given the intense media scrutiny surrounding the GA governor’s race, GOP’s Brian Kemp would work tirelessly to hide his troubling voter suppression past. Instead we are witnessing the complete opposite. Just a few weeks ago, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow exposed a scheme by Brian Kemp’s office to take away the vote of 53,000 predominantly black voters.

GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp has also resisted calls by his Dem challenger Stacey Abrams and others for him to resign from his role as Secretary of State while he is running for Governor. Any reasonable person would agree that there is an inherent conflict of interest to have a candidate running for Governor while at the same time presiding over the state’s elections.

As if Brian Kemp’s troubling voter suppression past and his apparent conflict of interest are not enough, we now find out that literally 2 days before the November elections, his office has opened an investigation into GA Democrats for alleged “cyber crimes”.

GA Secretary of State Press Secretary Candice Broce said, “While we cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cyber crimes.” If this is not the latest attempt by Brian Kemp’s office to kill Dem voter enthusiasm 2 days before the elections, I don’t know what is.

Bottom line, regardless of how the GA gubernatorial race turns out this coming Tuesday, Brian Kemp’s voter suppression tactics must be severely confronted. Simply put, no public official should ever be allowed to tinker with people’s right to vote with seemingly no consequences, as Brian Kemp has. If he is declared GA Governor on Tuesday, Stacey Abrams must immediately challenge those results. If however, Kemp and Abrams end up in a run-ff(most likely scenario), the Abrams campaign must strongly insist that he step aside as Secretary of State. He must not be allowed to run for Governor while his office investigates his challenger.

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out