The Whitest District of Them All, Part 1

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. “The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2″ can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Challenge

The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. All of these groups are minorities in the United States.

Whites, on the other hand, compose a majority of America’s population, numbering more than three out of every five Americans.

This makes creating the whitest district possible an extremely difficult task. It is usually quite obvious where to look when attempting to create a district composed entirely of one minority. For Asians, one goes to the San Francisco Bay Area; for blacks, one goes to the South Side of Chicago, for Hispanics one goes to Miami and South Texas; for Native Americans one goes to Oklahoma.

Whites, however, are different. There are so many extremely white areas in the United States that it is impossible to determine, at first glance, which area is the whitest of all. One needs to go through tedious trial-and-error to find out.

Strategies

There are several guidelines to follow in trying to draw the whitest congressional district possible. Firstly, there are already some very white congressional districts out there. The state of Vermont is 95.3% white. Then there is Maine’s 1st congressional district, which is 96.8% white. That’s a good lower-bound number.

In drawing these districts, I tried to find all the precincts which were more than 98% white. I then linked the precincts together into one continguous district using the whitest precincts between them. This process led to some very strange-looking districts.

The whitest parts of America have several characteristics in common:

Geography -  Anyplace within 1,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean is not white enough. Nor is any part of the former Confederacy.

There are several reasons for this. The states in the former Confederacy do have a lot of 98% white precincts. However, one quickly runs out of them and must then start taking in precincts with significant black populations. The problem is different in the Plains; these places are very white, but population is just too small altogether. One eventually is forced to take in minorities, because nobody lives in the 98% white areas of Nebraska or Idaho. Finally, in the Rocky Mountains and West Coast there are no 98% white areas at all; they are too integrated (Oregon, Utah) and/or the minority population is too high (California, Texas).

Rural America – The whitest parts of America are almost all rural. America’s cities and suburbs are always less white than its rural areas; I have not seen one exception to this rule so far. Indeed, it is extremely rare to find a 98% white precinct in any suburb or city at all. Perhaps only Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dayton, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis have 98% white precincts.

Stagnant/Hard-to-Reach – In addition, they tend to be out-of-the-way. These places are generally a fairly long drive from major cities or highways. Economically, the whitest parts of the United States tend to be fairly stagnant (or in decline); there is not much going on. Indeed, one of the surest ways to tell that a place is undergoing rapid economic growth is an exploding Hispanic population.

Republican – Whites lean Republican, and it’s not surprising that extremely white congressional districts vote Republican. There are some exceptions (e.g. New England), but most of these districts voted for Senator John McCain.

The Districts

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

And…here they are:

#5: Indiana


Population – 97.8% white, 0.2% black, 1.0% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other.

Indiana takes fifth place, with a 97.8% white district. This district weaves through rural Indiana to take in the whitest parts possible. It avoids the northwestern part of the state, which is slightly less white. Notice how the district forms enormous loops around the major cities and towns of Indiana where the minority population is greater.

Politically, this district would favor the Republican Party by a large margin. It gave Senator John McCain a healthy 60.0% of the vote; President Barack Obama took a mere 38.5%. Given that Mr. Obama overperformed tremendously in Indiana, a normal Democratic candidate would probably do even worse.

#4: Kentucky


Population – 98.0% white, 0.3% black, 0.7% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

Kentucky, the heart of the Applachians, takes fourth place. It’s interesting how the “other” population is so relatively high in the district.

This district actually looks somewhat compact. The core of its population is in the mountainous area bordering West Virginia. Indeed, that part of the country is the whitest part of the United States; unfortunately for redistricters, it’s divided into three states. The district then reaches several arms out to take some other very white parts of Kentucky to the west.

Politically, parts of this district were ancestrally Democratic; President Bill Clinton might have won it. Since then Appalachia’s white working class has shifted strongly Republican. I’ll take a wild guess and say that it went Republican in 2008.

#3, #2, and #1

The next post will deal with the three whitest districts in the United States. Try to guess which states they’re located in!

--Inoljt 

 

Evan Bayh Becomes Lobbyist - Of Course!

MSNBC host Cenk Uygur on former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh accepting a lobbyist job after claiming there was too much money in politics.

 

Weekly Audit: Police Defy Order to Clear Protesters from Wisconsin Capital

 

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

On Monday afternoon, the Capitol Police in Madison, Wisconsin refused to enforce an order to clear the Capitol building of hundreds of peaceful protesters who have been occupying the site to protest Governor Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D), who spent Sunday night in the Capitol building with other protesters. Roys describes what happened at four o’clock on Monday afternoon when the government gave the order to clear the protesters from the building:

And after several hours of the same sorts of scenes that we’ve been seeing all week—singing, chanting, drumming, speechifying—the Capitol police captain, Chief Tubbs, made an announcement, and he said that the protesters that had remained in the building, they were being orderly and responsible and peaceful and there was no reason to eject them from the Capitol.

Police attempted to clear the building of protesters on Sunday night, but they relented when the protesters refused to leave and allowed them to stay another night. On Monday, the police decided not to eject protesters already inside, but no additional activists would be allowed in. The governor plans to deliver his budget address on Tuesday afternoon. Walker is expected to call for spending cuts that could exceed $1 billion dollars.

Gov. Walker has threatened mass public sector layoffs if the Democratic senators do not return from Illinois by March 1. However, the Uptake.com reports that one of the absent legislators, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, claims Walker is not telling the truth. Erpenbach says the unions have already agreed to come up with the money the governor needs to balance the budget, and therefore, he has no need to lay anyone off to bridge the gap.

Wisconsin 101

Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive describes the epic scale of the Wisconsin protests:

This is the largest sustained rally for the rights of public sector workers that this country has seen in decades — perhaps ever.

The crowds at the state Capitol have swelled from 10,000-65,000 during the first week all the way up to 100,000 on Feb. 26. Hundreds of people occupied the Capitol building with a sit-in and sleep-in for days on end, and total strangers from around the world ordered pizzas for them.

In case you’re still wondering what all of this means, Andy Kroll, Nick Baumann, and Siddhartha Mahanta of Mother Jones have joined forces to bring you this “Wisconsin 101″ primer.

The Republicans in the Wisconsin House passed a bill that would take away collective bargaining rights for public sector unions, restrict their ability to collect dues, and force them to undergo yearly recertification votes. But the bill cannot become law until the state Senate also passes it. Currently, 14 Democratic state senators are hiding out in Illinois to deprive the Republican majority of the quorum they need to vote on the bill. However, as Kroll notes, if only one Democrat breaks faith and returns to Madison, the Republicans will be able to pass the bill.

Nationwide solidarity

Jamilah King of Colorlines.com brings us a photo essay on the solidarity rallies held around the country over the weekend in support of the Wisconsin protesters. From San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Atlanta to New York, people took to the streets in support of the right of workers to organize. Also at Colorlines.com, historian Michael Honey draws parallels between the situation in Wisconsin and Dr. Martin Luther King’s last crusade. Shortly before his assassination, King stood with the sanitation workers of Memphis to demand collective bargaining rights and the power to collect union dues.

George Warner of Campus Progress profiles some young activists who took to the streets of Washington, D.C. to express their solidarity with the Wisconsin protesters. About 1,500 people came out to a rally in support of the protesters on Saturday.

Anonymous strikes again

In a bizarre twist, a loosely organized coalition of anarchic hackers known as “Anonymous” attacked websites linked to Koch Industries on Sunday, Jessica Pieklo reports for Care2.com. The Koch brothers are among Gov. Walker’s most generous benefactors. The hackers launched a distributed denial of service attack on the website of the Koch-funded conservative group Americans for Prosperity.

In addition to generous campaign contributions, the Koch brothers gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn paid for millions of dollars worth of ads against Walker’s opponent in 2010. Walker is evidently very grateful to Koch. Last week, a writer for a Buffalo-based website got Walker on the phone by pretending to be David Koch.

Don’t look now, but…

Meanwhile, in Indiana, the state assembly reconvened on Monday to find most of the 40 Democratic members had decamped for Illinois. The legislators are apparently taking a page from the Wisconsin playbook. Indiana’s Republican governor is trying to pass legislation that would make permanent a ban on collective bargaining by public sector workers and the Democratic legislators are seeking to deny him the 2/3rds quorum required to vote on the bill.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Religious Extremism And Misconceptions: How Current Christian Controversy Has Marred the Faith's Beauty

 

Full Disclosure:  I view myself as a proud and devout Christian and identify with the Episcopal denomination.  

Recently, a lot of controversy has been associated with several different "sects" of Christianity.  Most who are reading this have probably already heard the news regarding a "Christian Militia" based in places like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana etc.  These self-proclaimed "anti-Christ fearing militants" were all eventually arrested after information over a plot to kill a police officer emerged.  They call themselves The Hutaree, which accoring to Rachel Maddow is a made up term that they thought sounded good.

Beginning Saturday evening, the FBI staged multiple raids across Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio to arrest nine members of an apocalyptic Christian militia who were allegedly conspiring to murder police officers, carry out terrorist atrocities, and initiate a war against United States. The initial raids captured eight of the suspects. The ninth was captured on Monday. Fortunately, every member was detained without bloodshed – no Ruby Ridge, no Waco, no pretext for revenge along the lines of Oklahoma City.

Source:  The Guardian (UK)

This is unfortunately only one of the many Christian extremist groups making headlines today.  

Another group, which no doubt more people are familiar with as opposed to The Hutaree, is called the Westboro Baptist Church.  (This church doesn't have any formal ties with the actual Baptist denomination that most can associate with and therefore considers itself an independent Baptist church)  

The reason I bring this up is because they have personally hit home with me.  Their picket schedule coming up has them landing their homophobic butts in my home state of West Virginia.  They apparently are prepared to picket the University of Charleston and The Capitol building, both located in the state's capital of Charleston, WV.  

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pickets from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., plan to visit Charleston early next month.

Source:  The Charleston Gazette

These people are the scumbags who protest the funerals of fallen soldiers that come home from war, and who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this wonderful country we live in.  They are the ones who carry the "god hates fags" signs, and even has a website with the same name.  

Fortunately, in wake of such planned pickets, many people on facebook are organizing peaceful protests for these so called Christian extremists.  I personally cannot bring myself to even associate such blatent hatred with Christianity, but that is what they call themselves and therefore what they are referred to as by others.  

Both of these situations, along with the current mess in the Catholic church, I'm afraid have hurt the public view of Christianity.  The crux of this diary isn't meant to preach religion towards anyone, so please don't take it as such.  This is merely to show that it is unfortunate how bad the religion has been portrayed in the media.  

The same, however, can be said for the Muslim faith as well.  We as Americans should embrace religious diversity, not discourage it.  Unfortunately, due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the constant misconstruing of the Muslim faith by several different outlets, much fear and skepticism is associated with the faith.

I hope that in time, better perceptions of both faiths will be displayed for everyone to see, and not these negative and embarrassing ones.

Evan Bayh Gets a Challenger

My posting over the next week and a half is going to be light as I head into finals season (thank you Examples & Explanations for making law school studying go more smoothly), but I will be jumping in the conversation as much as possible over this time frame.

One story that popped out at me this morning during a break from reading Glannon on civil procedure was the news that Evan Bayh now has a challenger.

Former GOP Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) announced Thursday that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana in 2010.

As a former Congressman, Hostettler will not be an easy competitor for Bayh. That said, Hostettler was one of the most conservative members of Congress during his time and office, and Hoosiers turned him out of office in ignominy in 2006. Just how bad was Hostettler's performance three years ago? Despite the fact that his district leans 8 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole, Hostettler lost to Democrat Brad Ellsworth. By 22 points. So Bayh would not necessarily be well served to stark quaking in his boots or to, as a result, shift to the right by embracing a Republican filibuster on healthcare reform. Moving to the right on healthcare reform certainly isn't helping Blanche Lincoln.

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