Online misunderstandings

Plus, the Leandro "action plan" is out (huzzah!)

My recent newsletters on the federal election bills in Congress drew the attention of Bob Hall, a longtime progressive activist and the former head of Democracy NC. He suggested a jointly bylined op-ed column bemoaning the weaponization of alleged voting irregularities for partisan gain. We agreed states generally were better suited than Congress to handle election management. And reforms North Carolina implemented after COVID-19 hit were a success that the GOP certainly used to its advantage.

It was a hit, at least as an op-ed. So far, The News & Observer, Charlotte Observer, Fayetteville Observer, and Salisbury Post have picked it up. WFAE.org, the NPR affiliate in Charlotte, referred to it in a story about election reforms. 

The “socials” were less generous, and I’m somewhat to blame.

That was a mistake. Bob likes a lot more of H.R.1 than I do, and the tweet left him with the impression that I was saying Congress couldn’t override state legislatures. The tyranny of dead-tree-column-inch and 280-character-Twitter limits can lead to misunderstandings.

Lefty activists crawled all over me, while expressing disappointment with Bob. 

I followed up with what I hope were correcting, clarifying tweets. 

Fortunately, Gerry Cohen, who spent nearly four decades as a lawyer and bill-drafting expert at the General Assembly (and is now a member of the Wake County Board of Elections), stepped in. He noted that, yes, Congress could override state legislatures and run federal elections. But it has limited authority in state election management. So states could be left with separate rules for federal and state-only elections. He cited examples.

A link to the entire train wreck, here.

But the gist of the disagreement with me was that I had worked for a nonprofit that got money from, among others, the John W. Pope Foundation. In N.C. left-wing circles, I might as well have been taking money from Satan himself (if they believe in Satan). 

So much for ideas having consequences.

Then came the weekend and the representative for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, freshman Republican Madison Cawthorn.

Robby Soave of Reason (who’s writing a book about the issue!) weighed in, and the fun began.

(The thread has thousands of likes, replies, etc. So many I can’t follow even my own. So, a synopsis.)

A person weighed in, saying “Big Tech” has become more powerful than governments because Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has bragged he can affect elections. Hilarity ensued.

The tweeter interacting with me calls himself a “dissident liberal.” He’s clearly a youngish adult who’s into gaming (not that there’s anything wrong with it). But he also just plain doesn’t understand that Twitter controls no armies. It has no police powers. It can’t use eminent domain to seize your property or warrantless searches to break into your home.

David French and Jay Caruso handled the general issue of extreme online young people quite well.

Now go read a dead-tree book or hike somewhere or something.

Here come da judge-ment?

The parties in the generation-old Leandro lawsuit challenging funding of public schools to disadvantaged kids finally submitted their comprehensive action plan to Superior Court Judge David Lee, who’s supervising the case.

Others will comment sensibly on the ins and outs of the plan.

Still, only one thing matters: What will Judge Lee say? If he says, “Nice job, everyone. It would be nice to see this happen,” then there’s no problem. Lawmakers can talk about it and maybe implement some of it.

If instead he tries to order the General Assembly to impose the plan, then we have a potential constitutional crisis. Judges can’t order lawmakers to spend money. That’s what the litigants (who do NOT include the General Assembly) want Judge Lee to do.

Bring the popcorn.

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Let Marty talk to her husband

As I was thinking about Jay Caruso’s newsletter mentioning tech gadgets we now take for granted, I recalled how many movies, TV shows, plays, and songs that were written even a dozen years ago make little sense now. I remembered Ron Howard’s wonderful 1994 movie “The Paper,” and how Henry (Michael Keaton) consumed Cokes like water and desperately searched for change to feed the vending machine. And how no one born this century would understand the problem.

I couldn’t find a clip of that, but here’s another one that’s a delight. (What a cast!)