As I’m writing this, the week is certainly shaping up to be one filled with all manner of machinations, maneuvering, and manmade misadventures. To begin with, the Supremes are back in business. The first Monday in October is the traditional start to the Court’s new session. This will be the first one featuring four female judges wearing the long black robes, including the newest member, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Perhaps the most contentious case the Justices will consider concerns whether or not the state of Alabama’s congressional map illegally disadvantages Black voters. As happens after each census (the latest being 2020), all states with more than one Congressional representative usually redraw the boundaries for those districts. Surprise, surprise, those in power at the time of the re-mapping tend to create cantons that favor their party winning most of the votes in those areas.
This process has long been known as gerrymandering. That term dates back to the early 1800s when the then-Governor of Massachusetts, Eldridge Gerry, somewhat reluctantly signed off on a bill that created a State Senate district favorable to his party. An artistic wag at the time drew the new district to look like a serpentine salamander. The opposition at the time was quick to marry the Governor’s name to the image, and the apt moniker remains with us today.
The Supremes apparently now get the chance to say whether or not they feel Alabama’s congressional map violates part of the Voting Rights Act dealing with discrimination on the basis of race. Their decision may help clarify how the courts should interpret Section 2 of that Act in state redistricting cases. (It ain’t easy being a Supreme Court Justice.)
Also of note this week, two ne’er-do-wells on the world stage are continuing to demand that everyone pay more attention to them. Russia’s Vlad the Mad (aka the Grain Grabber) continues apace with his determination to annex four regions of Ukraine. This on the heels of many Ukranian patriots continuing to run roughshod over the new Russian conscripts who are having more than just a little difficulty holding onto territory their predecessors seized in the preceding seven months. Putin continues to threaten to step up the firepower at his command if things don’t improve quickly.
And speaking of nuclear nitwits, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un launched another of his test missiles recently. Instead of a short journey into the surrounding sea, this one streaked across the sky over Japan. The Japanese took a rather dim view of that action and undoubtedly prompted the “what if” game to be ramped up considerably in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the world. There have already been reports that U.S. and South Korean warplanes have been practicing bombing targets in the Yellow Sea, and joint drills are being held over the Sea of Japan by U.S. and Japanese fighter jets.
In addition, adding to the string of worry beads is the fact that OPEC, those fun-loving oil producers, have indicated they just might cut production. Saudi Arabia is usually the leader of the pack in that regard, and rumors are it will hold back a million barrels a day or more in order to boost the price. Which basically translates to pump prices once more rising for us just when they were inching downward to affordability again. (Maybe instead of a fist-bump with the Crown Prince, President Biden should have punched him in the nose. Well, maybe not, but perhaps he thought about it.)
According to some reports, it seems that rising energy prices would translate into the U.S. Federal Reserve continuing to raise interest rates perhaps at an even more rapid clip than it’s been doing recently. Which, of course, means higher prices for We the Consumers. Oh, joy. I can’t wait to see what a pound of chicken will cost next week.
Despite all the foregoing, as usual, the news is not all gloom and doom. Especially around my household. A young lady named Hope Carolyn Lewis made her triumphant debut into the world three weeks ago. Her mom, dad, and big brother (and grandparents, of course) are all doing great. Since she’s brand new to everything that’s going on, I’ve decided not to burden her with the news of the day until she’s had a chance to acclimate. Being an optimist, I’m trusting that her name is prescient regarding more peaceful times to come. And that as she grows and claims her place in society, the things that divide us will grow fewer and fewer as the things that unite us draw us closer together.
So, welcome, Hope. We’re really glad you’ve brightened up our world.
©MMXXII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer