In This Episode
- The US Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas over the state’s recently updated redistricting maps. The DOJ claims that Texas’s maps are unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act because they unfairly dilute minority voting power.
- MLB locked out all of its players last week after a five-year collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expired. It marks the first work stoppage for the league in almost three decades. Lindsey Adler, who covers the Yankees for The Athletic, joins us to discuss the issues at play.
- And in headlines: the U.S. will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced a Covid vaccine mandate for all private-sector employers, and California Congressman Devin Nunes will resign later this month.
Gideon Resnick: It’s Tuesday, December 7th, I’m Gideon Resnick.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, where for the rest of the month, we’ll be pretending our microphones are snowballs.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, it is our little way of getting into the spirit. Shouldn’t concern you as a listener, but we wanted to be transparent.
Josie Duffy Rice: And we’ll be pretending our headphones are earmuffs too. It’s true.
Gideon Resnick: And that’s as far as we’re willing to stretch reality. On today’s show, we’re going to dive deeper into the issues behind the historic lockout in Major League Baseball. Plus U.S. diplomats will not be in the stands for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Josie Duffy Rice: But first, on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal lawsuit against Texas over the state’s recently updated redistricting maps. Here’s Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday announcing the suit:
[clip of AG Merrick Garland] The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group.
Josie Duffy Rice: And when he said there that the maps violate Section 2, he’s talking about that section of the Voting Rights Act, which we’ll get into in a second. But Gideon, this is the first lawsuit filed by the DOJ regarding 2020 redistricting, but I feel like it’s probably not the last.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I feel exactly the same. So, a quick reminder here—we’ve talked a few times on the show about redistricting. It’s one of the most important decisions made by state legislators. Every 10 years following the census, every state legislature redraws their state and congressional legislative districts. Over the past few months, that process has been going on in states across the country. And traditionally, as we’ve talked about, redistricting often results in—if we put it nicely—shenanigans. Legislators are self-interested, plus each party obviously hopes to maximize their political power.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, not the good kind of shenanigans, either.
Gideon Resnick: No.
Josie Duffy Rice: Ultimately, it all comes down to which party controls the state legislature, and currently about two thirds of state legislatures are entirely controlled by Republicans. So the past few months have been heavy on Republican shenanigans. And where our Republican shenanigans more predictable than the great state of Texas?
Gideon Resnick: Truly nowhere. That is the rap. So Josie before we get into the lawsuit, then tell us a little bit about what these new maps in Texas actually look like.
Josie Duffy Rice: Sure. So Gideon, it’s a pretty predictable story. Both congressional houses are controlled by Republicans, as we said. Plus the governor is a Republican. So unsurprisingly, the redistricted maps for the House of Representatives, both state congressional houses, and the State Board of Education all heavily favor Republicans. This isn’t new—the old maps also favor Republicans—and it isn’t so much that the maps have changed. It’s that Texas has changed, and the maps basically ignore that.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, as is seemingly common in so many of the states that we’ve talked about. So what did the census say about how the state’s population has changed?
Josie Duffy Rice: So census data shows two major things happening in Texas. First, Texas gained more residents than any other state. It grew a whopping 16% in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020, and 16% is a lot, right, in a state that was already extremely big, like Texas.
Gideon Resnick: Totally.
Josie Duffy Rice: Second, people of color were responsible for 95% of that growth. Ninety five percent. In fact, for every one additional white resident that Texas gained in the past decade, it gained 11 additional Hispanic residents.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: So it’s pretty clear that people of color are responsible for the growth in Texas for the past 10 years. But the maps don’t show that growth. Instead, Republicans allegedly manipulated the districts to ensure that they kept power. So there are two new districts that are primarily white. Meanwhile, the number of districts where Hispanics are the majority went from eight to seven. The number of districts with a Black majority went from one to—ready for it—zero.
Gideon Resnick: Wow.
Josie Duffy Rice: And although the non-Hispanic white population shrunk significantly since 2010, there are more majority white districts now than there were before.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s really crazy when you spell it out like that. So can you talk to us a little bit more about the lawsuit and what it intends to do?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So in their lawsuit, the Department of Justice claims that Texas’s maps are unconstitutional and that they violate the Voting Rights Act because they unfairly dilute minority voting power. And it seems pretty cut and dry to me, Gideon. I don’t know about you.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: But when Texas has gained more people than any other state, 95% are people of color and somehow the maps benefit Republicans and white people. It just seems, I would say, suspicious. That’s the word I would use. The lawsuit mentions the quote, “extraordinarily rapid and opaque legislative process that led to these maps” and says that lawmakers quote, refuse to recognize the state’s growing minority electorate.” And by filing the lawsuit, the DOJ hopes that a federal court will block the state from using these new maps in the upcoming March primaries. So that’s the current goal. I would just add that while it’s ridiculous that they even have to file this lawsuit, it’s a very good sign, right, that Biden’s DOJ is willing to file suit in cases like these. I mean, it’s an important move, and it’s basically the only oversight mechanism they have at this point.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, you mentioned at this point, does the federal government have any other recourse when a state files blatantly unrepresentative maps like this one?
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, unfortunately, they don’t really anymore. So for 50 years, the Voting Rights Act required that some states, including Texas, were subject to what’s called pre-clearance—meaning they had to have their redistricting maps undergo federal review in hopes of avoiding this exact type of scenario, right? But in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted part of the law which eliminated oversight, and they’ve been chipping away at other parts of the Voting Rights Act in the years since. So this is the first time in half a century where oversight is basically nonexistent during the redistricting process. And that’s really why DOJ had filed this lawsuit to begin with. Here’s Attorney General Merrick Garland talking yesterday”
[clip of AG Merrick Garland] Were that pre-clearance tool still in place, we would likely not be here today announcing this complaint.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So the bottom line there, right, is that it was a mistake for the Supreme Court to gut that part of the Voting Rights Act because obviously states still need oversight.
Gideon Resnick: Right.
Josie Duffy Rice: And so now the DOJ is doing what it can with the tools that it has. We’ll have even more to say about redistricting on tomorrow’s show when we have an interview with a candidate for Georgia’s Secretary of State, Bee Nguyen. But also make sure to watch Crooked’s special livestream today, “What A Year.” A fundraiser to support local elections and protect voting rights.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Excited to hear that interview on the show. Another story that we’ve been following is the ongoing MLB lockout that we mentioned on the show a few days ago. It began early Thursday morning after a five-year collective bargaining agreement between owners and players expired and they failed to reach a new agreement. And this marks the first work stoppage for the MLB in almost three decades.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So Gideon, can you remind us of some of the issues at play here?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there are a lot. So for that answer, I caught up with Lindsay Adler. She’s a reporter who covers the Yankees for The Athletic.
Lindsey Adler: When the collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon in 2016, it was pretty clear it was a loss for players, and clubs and ownership sort of where there’s an inch they took a mile, kind of wound up coinciding with the development of technology that has made it much easier for clubs to quantify player value. When you can properly quantify that as a player ages, you’re not going to overpay. So all of this combined kind of led to the eradication of baseball’s middle class. So that’s a big concern for the union.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, she kind of summed it up by saying that these issues are coming quote, “at the intersection of competition and player evaluations and paydays.”
Josie Duffy Rice: That is really fascinating, especially the point about estimating player value. So what practical impact does this lockout have on players right now?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, it means they can’t use club facilities at all. You know, gyms, training centers, the like. Here’s how Adler said it’s specifically affecting the Yankees:
Lindsey Adler: The Yankees are based in Tampa, so a lot of players just live in Tampa in the off season and then they just work out at the player development complex so they have to find private facilities. It means that players who are rehabilitating injuries, they’re sort of pursuing their physical therapy independently. And coaches and staff members can’t communicate with players.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and she was also telling me that this is what she called a quote unquote “minimal impact lockout” for now, given that it’s happening during the off season. But those dynamics would quickly change if it stretches into spring training.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, definitely. So what does actually happen in the days since this began? Has there been any progress in negotiations?
Gideon Resnick: Not really, Josie. No, it has seemed like not much has happened at all, except online presences is changing. So when we mentioned this story last week, we said that MLB had scrubbed pictures of players themselves on MLB.com. And Adler said that the players took it a step further.
Lindsey Adler: A few players thought that it was funny to see that their likenesses had been taken down from the website entirely, and so sort of started like a social media campaign where they’re blacking out their likenesses and they’re like Twitter and Instagram avatars.
Josie Duffy Rice: You know, however they want to organize, I’m into it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. One last thing that was interesting. We’ve been talking a lot about labor activism throughout the past year on WAD, and this all kind of fits in and kind of doesn’t. Adler says that unlike the 1994 players strike, there’s a bigger sentiment nowadays in favor of the players and this acknowledgment of how much revenue they generate for the league.
Lindsey Adler: There is a much broader sentiment that understands that the players generate the revenue and they are looking to be compensated fairly for it. I mean, I cover a player who makes $36 million in a year. I understand why that’s hard for, you know, someone like me to see him as part of the labor class like myself, but when he’s generating the type of revenue that he is for club ownership, yes, it is the same dynamic between myself and my boss. It’s just at a much, much bigger scale.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So we’ll keep track of this story as it develops, but that is the latest for now. We’re going to be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: The U.S. announced that it will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over concerns about China’s human rights abuses. This means that no U.S. government officials will attend the games next year, but athletes can still compete. At a press briefing yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited China’s detainment and genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang as one of many reasons for the measure.
[clip of Jen Psaki] This is just an indication that it cannot be business as usual, that not sending a diplomatic delegation sends that message.
Gideon Resnick: The move also comes after Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s disappearance last month caused international concern for her well-being. Some U.S. lawmakers argue that the diplomatic boycott is not enough, saying that American athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete, and that the games should be relocated. Chinese government officials said yesterday that they will take, quote, “resolute countermeasures” if the U.S. follows through on the boycott, but they gave no details on how they plan to retaliate.
Josie Duffy Rice: British lawmakers are hitting the slopes early this winter, and we’re not talking about skiing. According to a report published by The Sunday Times, traces of cocaine were found in several places in the British parliament that can only be accessed by government officials. The Times report says that of the 12 bathrooms tested for drugs in Parliament, 11 had cocaine residue, including the one closest to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office. I do want to know if that’s in his office because he probably has one in his office too, right?
Gideon Resnick: You would think. If he doesn’t, then what’s going on?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I feel like he should demand an upgrade. The report also found that cannabis was quote, “being used openly throughout the building.” This discovery comes right before Johnson was set to announce his new plan to crack down on drugs in the country—he no longer gets his own bathroom, I’ve changed your mind. House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle called on police yesterday to investigate these findings, but the Metropolitan Police Service has yet to comment. And British lawmaker Charles Walker said that the House of Commons will discuss the issue next week.
Gideon Resnick: All I’m hearing is that one bathroom is being excluded and somebody is being left out of the arrangement.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, why is that the bathroom nobody wants to go to.
Gideon Resnick: Think we have the answer.
Josie Duffy Rice: That’s the first question they should ask next week when they’re wearing their wigs and they’re doing their investigation.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: What’s wrong with bathroom number 12, you know?
Gideon Resnick: What is wrong with it? New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced a COVID vaccine mandate for all private sector employers in the city by December 27th. He called this a quote, “first in the nation mandate”, and he also announced another rule that kids 5 to 11 will have to show proof of vaccination if they want to enter indoor venues like restaurants, movie theaters, and more. So kids get that QR code ready if you want to take that in-person Peloton class with Cody Rigsby. If you’re five and you’re listening, you know who Cody is. Don’t lie to me. The requirements began only four days before de Blasio leaves office. But in a press conference yesterday, he said he spoke to Mayor-elect Eric Adams and is confident that Adams will keep them in place once he takes office. However, New York City’s new mandates come amid dozens of lawsuits across the country filed by Republican states, businesses and others seeking to overturn these types of requirements.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m just picturing like, outside of New York restaurants where dogs are tied to trees, I’m just picturing kids who are not allowed inside also being tied to the tree.
Gideon Resnick: Right. If you can’t show the code, please kindly leave your kid outside and do not allow them to pee on any of the grass.
Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. The man who once took legal action against a cow-based parody Twitter account, California Congressman Devin Nunes announced he’ll resign from Congress later this month. He said he’ll be taking on a new role as CEO of Donald Trump’s media company. Yes, you heard that correctly.
Gideon Resnick: That is great.
Josie Duffy Rice: Nunez has been in the house since 2002 and is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. But he really hit the spotlight during Trump’s presidency when he recused himself from the investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election. And later the House Ethics Committee investigated him for how he handled the Russia probe. So he’s really just been a star, a true star.
Gideon Resnick: Oh yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: Democrats who hope to unseat Nunez in 2022 raised millions of dollars, but I guess we’ll never know if he could have prevailed. On-boarding at his new job might be tricky, though. We also found out yesterday that the SEC is looking into the deal between Trump’s media company and the shell company it is merging with. Gideon, I just want to say, imagine being the top of the Intelligence Committee and Trump comes to you is like, do you want to run my new, like, there’s nothing here yet, but you want run my media company? And in being like, yeah.
Gideon Resnick: And being investigated immediately.
Josie Duffy Rice: I feel like if you are at the top of the House Intelligence Committee, you should want to be there. That should be your goal. Shouldn’t be like an afterschool job where you’re like, OK, I’ll just move on, you know?
Gideon Resnick: Right, right. He’s exploring his extracurriculars.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, yeah.
Gideon Resnick: One of them he may pursue in college. We’ll find out.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, exactly.
Gideon Resnick: But you know, he needs, he needs to have options on his resume. I understand.
Josie Duffy Rice: Right. It’s true. It’s true. I will never hire him.
Gideon Resnick: No. I can’t say I will, either. Those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go: are you still looking for last minute holiday gifts?—I am. Check out all of our holiday merch, including our My Ho Ho Home is Melting ornament, What A Day tees, and more at the Crooked store. Make sure to place your orders by December 11th to ensure holiday delivery. So go to Crooked.com/subscribe store.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like to show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, defend a cow-based parody Twitter account in court, and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading, and not just the read-out on cocaine residue detectors like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And go play in the snow!
Gideon Resnick: It is your right.
Josie Duffy Rice: Gideon and I are in decidedly warm places instructing the rest of you to go play in the snow.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s because we’re sad.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yet do it because we can’t.
Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.