Daily Bread for 8.14.21: Deserts

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 79. Sunrise is 6:01 AM and sunset 7:57 PM, for 13h 55m 47s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 37.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Aerial view of one of the fires in August 1933. Via Wikipedia.

 On this day in 1933, loggers cause a forest fire in the Coast Range of Oregon, later known as the first forest fire of the Tillamook Burn, destroying 240,000 acres of land.

David Daley and Gaby Goldstein write America is full of ‘democracy deserts’. Wisconsin rivals Congo on some metrics:

The United States is becoming a land filled with “democracy deserts”, where gerrymandering and voting restrictions are making voters powerless to make change. And this round of redistricting could make things even worse.

Since 2012, the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University has studied the quality of elections worldwide. It has also issued biannual reports that grade US states, on a scale of 1 through 100. In its most recent study of the 2020 elections, the integrity of Wisconsin’s electoral boundaries earned a 23 – worst in the nation, on par with Jordan, Bahrain and the Congo.


In Wisconsin, for example, voters handed Democrats every statewide race in 2018 and 203,000 more votes for the state assembly – but the tilted Republican map handed Republicans 63 of the 99 seats nevertheless. Democratic candidates have won more or nearly the same number of votes for Michigan’s state house for the last decade – but never once captured a majority of seats.

There are some measures in which all places are alike; no one committed to a respectable constitutional order would want Wisconsin to be similar to the Congo in commitment to liberal democracy. (Since Trump, it’s been necessary to remind that liberal democracy does not mean left-of-center; it means popular sovereignty that recognizes individual rights (‘recognizing and protecting a sphere beyond the rightful reach of government in which individuals can enjoy independence and privacy’).

Gerrymandering has fated Wisconsin with legislative control by a minority over the state’s majority. This ideologically and ethnically homogenous minority prefers to govern, almost to rule, this way. They favor their own control over any fair arrangement or fair maps.

There’s talk about Wisconsin as a place of deserts, of news or democracy. This talk sometimes assumes that deserts are places without life, empty of anything except sand.

That’s not true, of course. Deserts do harbor creatures; some kinds of life flourish in a desert’s arid sands.

It’s simply that the denizens of the desert are disagreeable or deadly to those of more temperate climes.

The Rise And Fall of Convertible Cars In The U.S.:

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