Standing Room Only at Gerrymandering Talk

Dan Loeb explaining gerrymandering.

Dan Loeb explaining gerrymandering.

Many Pennsylvania voters are concerned about gerrymandering and want to work towards fair voting districts. Dan Loeb, publisher of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, gave a lecture on gerrymandering to an overflow crowd at the Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr. After all the seats were filled, dozens more people sat on the floor or stood on the sides and the back of the large meeting room.

State Rep. Mary-Jo Daley and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon were on hand to answer questions. Dan was introduced by Gayle Samuels of Fair Districts PA and the League of Women Voters.

Dan Loeb, a PhD. mathematician, said, “Voters are supposed to choose their legislatures. However, with gerrymandering, legislators choose their voters” (to ensure they will be re-elected). [Read more…]

Election Security Is a Matter of National Security

-David Dill

State-sponsored cyber-attacks seemingly intended to influence the 2016 presidential election have raised a question: Is the vulnerability of computerized voting systems to hacking a critical threat to our national security? Can an adversary use methods of cyber-warfare to select our commander-in-chief? [Read more…]

Political Gerrymandering in Wisconsin and Its Implications for Pennsylvania

Wisconsin's Congressional Districts

Wisconsin’s Congressional Districts

— Carol Kuniholm and Barry Kauffman

On Monday, November 21, a panel of three federal judges determined that the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2011 redrawing of State Assembly districts was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. This case, Whitford v. Gill (originally filed as Whitford v. Nichol), represents the first time in three decades that a federal court has struck down maps on the grounds that they give unfair advantage to a political party. [Read more…]

Trump Supporter Cites Japanese Internment Camps As “Precedent” For Muslim Registry

Carl Higbie, a retired U.S. Navy Seal, and Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief of the “alt-right” Breitbart News, were identified in emails to the press as being able to give interviews on behalf of Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s controversial chief adviser and former head of Breitbart. The emails were sent by publicist Maria Sliwa, who claims not to be working for Bannon. While it’s not clear who hired Sliwa, she is attempting to mitigate the negative media coverage depicting Bannon as a racist and an anti-Semite, according to The Wrap.

While Higbie was being identified as an interview source for the press, he was making his own negative headlines. During an interview with Megyn Kelly on the November 16th edition of Fox News’ “The Kelly File,” Higbie cited the Japanese internment camps during World War II as precedent for creating a registry for immigrants coming into the United States from Muslim countries. In response to Kelly’s comment that she had been reading that Trump’s advisers are considering drafting a proposal for a registry, Higbie said:

Yeah, and to be perfectly honest, it is legal. They say it will hold constitutional muster. I know the ACLU is gonna challenge it, but I think it’ll pass, and we’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will, maybe —

In the following exchange, Kelly pressed Higbie on using the example of Japanese internment:

KELLY: Come on. You’re not — you’re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.

HIGBIE: No, no, no. I’m not proposing that at all, Megyn, but what I am saying is we need to protect America from —

KELLY: You know better than to suggest that. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.

HIGBIE: Right, but it’s — I’m just saying there is precedent for it, and I’m not saying I agree with it, but in this case I absolutely believe that a regional based —

KELLY: You can’t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is gonna do.

HIGBIE: Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.

Backlash to Higbie’s comments has already started. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a statement calling on Trump to “denounce the comments” and pointing out the dark history of Japanese-American internment:

The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions. I am horrified that people connected to the incoming Administration are using my family’s experience as a precedent for what President-elect Trump could do.

Claim: Trump Never Said “Block Muslims”

— Laura Keiter

Fox co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that President-elect Donald Trump never advocated in favor of blocking Muslims from entry into the United States. In December of 2015, Trump read off a policy proposal calling for the “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming into the U.S. Trump doubled down in July, arguing that he is “looking at” banning people from certain “territories” where Muslims reside and on November 10 the Trump campaign staff removed, and then restored, Trump’s call for banning Muslims on his campaign website. After denying his call to block Muslims from entering the U.S., Guilfoyle’s co-host Dana Perino added that “ban and block” are the same and have the same effect: [Read more…]

Waking Up to a New World: A New President Is Elected

We awoke this morning to a new world. Of course, whenever a new president is elected, one can anticipate changes, if not in substance then in appearance, style and nuanced differences. But the change we anticipate today requires us to consider the notion of “a new world” more literally. [Read more…]

Jewish Organizations Respond to the Election of Donald Trump

In a letter to the president-elect on behalf of B’nai B’rith International (BBI), the organization’s president, Gary P. Saltzman, and its executive vice president, Daniel S. Mariaschin, congratulate Donald Trump on his “historic victory in the presidential election” and promise their “active support.” The letter continues, “We warmly welcome your election night pledge to help the country ‘bind the wounds of division’ and ‘come together as one people.’”

Donald_Trump_August_19,_2015_(cropped)After enumerating a litany of issues that the president-elect will confront when he assumes the office of president, Saltzman and Mariaschin direct their attention to Israel:

B’nai B’rith applauds your stated commitment to Israel’s security and your pledge to do everything in your power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We recognize that American leadership — and America’s crucial partnership with its democratic ally Israel — are essential to our shared goal of a peaceful and stable Middle East. It greatly reassures us, therefore, to know that Israel, the Middle East’s only democracy and a country that has battled terror and aggression since its independence, will have a staunch ally in the president of the United States.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) also congratulates Donald Trump on his victory, but urges reconciliation for this divided nation.

“We wish President-elect Trump well moving forward,” says David Bernstein, JCPA’s president and CEO. “We commend him on the message of unity he conveyed in his acceptance speech, and urge him to continue to work toward bringing the country together.”

“The American people have spoken,” says Cheryl Fishbein, board chair of JCPA. “And as our great democratic tradition dictates, it’s time for a peaceful transition of power.”

“We call upon the president-elect to continue to assure the nation, particularly constituencies feeling most vulnerable, that the country will live up to its highest ideals and respect the rights of all people,” says Bernstein.

Trump Ad Uses Anti-Semitic Themes

Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair, from Trump campaign ad.

Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair, from Trump campaign video ad.

Yesterday, the Donald Trump campaign released a video ad, highlighting his closing arguments for the American people. In the ad, the Trump campaign once again employed anti-Semitic stereotypes, except this time, the words were matched to images of respected Jewish leaders: Janet Yellen, George Soros, and Lloyd Blankfein. (Janet Yellen is Chair of the Federal Reserve, George Soros is a billionaire investor, and Lloyd Blankfein is the CEO of Goldman Sachs.) The ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt condemned the ad in a statement, and “Talking Points Memo” appropriately called the ad “anti-Semitic.” [Read more…]