Everything We Know About the American Heartland

We are three lawyers in Austin, Texas talking about the American Heartland and what we know about the American Heartland.

Everything We Know about Partisan Gerrymandering

October 16, 2017

Show Notes

We begin the episode by discussing whether we should discuss follow up first. John Siracusa © 1922.


We decide to not do any follow up and go directly to the main topic.

Gill v. Whitford

We actually discussed this case in Episode 11, Everything We Know about Voting Rights.

Justice Sotomayor was on point with her questions:

But they kept going back to fix the map to make it more gerrymandered. That’s undisputed. The people involved in the process had traditional maps that complied with traditional criteria and then went back and threw out those maps and created more -- some that were more partisan. . . . So why didn’t they take one of the earlier maps?
Could you tell me what the value is to democracy from political gerrymandering? How -- how does that help our system of government?

Efficiency Gap

The best demonstration of the efficency gap:

Efficency gap computer simulation

Appellee’s Test

The appellees lay out their test for determining partisen gerrymandering:

First, it must find that the map was designed with discriminatory intent: “to place a severe impediment on the effectiveness of the votes of individual citizens on the basis of their political affiliation.” Second, it must determine that the map causes a “large and durable” discriminatory effect: one that is “sizeable” and likely to “persist throughout the decennial period.” And third, it must conclude that there is no valid justification for this effect: no way to explain it the legitimate state prerogatives and neutral factors that are implicated in the districting process.”

False Positives

The problem with false positives:

Sure. So I think some of the problems with the criteria that have been suggested, in particular with the tests that focus on these symmetry metrics, is that so far the metrics that we have, I mean, they identify false positives roughly 50 percent of the time.
This is plain -- Plaintiff’s expert studied maps from 30 years, and he identified the 17 worst of the worst maps. What is so striking about that list of 17 is that 10 were neutral draws.

Sam Wang

Sam Wang’s amicus brief poses a different test.

Texas’ Brief

Ken Paxton files an amicus brief

Predictions on Gill v. Whitford

Ruchit: 5-4 Whitford, but no standard. Four justices will sign on to Breyer’s test. Kennedy will write his own opinion, which five justices will agree with, but he won’t actually articulate a test.

TJ: 5-4 Whitford, but affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Court will likely find that these partisan-gerrymandering claims are justifiable, but will refine how to bring such a claim.

AJ: 5-4 Whitford


TJ: Please take care of my plant dot com

AJ: Big Mouth on Netflix

Ruchit: Google Pixel Buds


Everything We Know about Common Carriers

October 7, 2017

Show Notes

We start this episode starts by defining the American Heartland, with guest Laura Braunsberg.

Follow up

People tweeted at us and we spend a segment of the episode reading tweets:

Is Twitter a common carrier?

And will they ever ban him for violating their terms of service?

Lightning Round

Where we go through a few follow up topics fairly quickly.

North Korea

Crazy stories about North Korean hijinks.

New Travel Ban

Constitutional or no?

French Frog Emmanuel Macron

Macron’s patriot act. Seems like Macron is not liberal. ??‍♂️


Laura: Super Troopers 2 has finished post production.

AJ: Wired: The Hidden Laborers Training AI to Keep Ads off Hateful Youtube Videos.

TJ: Zach Braff discovered he’s used to advertise erection pills.


Everything We Know about Graham-Cassidy

September 25, 2017

Show Notes

Ruchit and AJ promise to block walk for Tom as long as there are only two or three blocks to walk.


Uber has been banned by the City of London.

We talk about healthcare again

We take a break for a week, and the GOP tries to pass a new healthcare law. Trigger warning: AJ and Ruchit take a deep dive into the technical details of healthcare policy.

Avalere estimates that it would cause a $215 billion cut between 2026, while the CBPP pegs it at $239 billion. Broadly, the two analyses agree: Graham-Cassidy means less money put toward health care programs.

Both show pretty clearly the trade-off Graham-Cassidy makes: it sends money from states that have high Obamacare enrollment (largely through Medicaid expansion) to those with less robust sign-ups. According to Avalere’s analysis, California loses $78 billion while Alabama gains $5 billion between 2020 and 2026.


AJ: Party World Rasslin; watch the Video.

TJ: How logos are remembered.

RS: BioLite Fire Pit


Ruchit steals popcorn


Everything We Know about Arbitration

September 23, 2017

Show Notes

Ruchit’s computer might have been hacked by the same hackers who hacked Equifax.

Trump declares war on North Korea

But first, Trump threatens to totally destroy North Korea.

Equifax Breach & Arbitration

Equifax had a giant security breach between mid-May and July, in what Ars Technica described as the worst leak of private info ever.

[The breach may have] compromised data from 143 million Americans including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. About 209,000 credit card numbers were exposed as well as “dispute documents with personal identifying information” for 182,000 Americans, the company said in a news release.

Arbitration Clauses

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Game: Who said this about Arbitration.

Do I believe in arbitration? I do. But not in arbitration between the lion and the lamb, in which the lamb is in the morning found inside the lion.

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor for almost forty years, between 1886 and 1924, and the nation’s leading trade unionist and labor spokesman. Not United States v. Cruikshank.

Never arbitrate. Arbitration allows a third party to determine your destiny. It is a resort of the weak.

Attila the Hun

Predispute arbitration agreements are problematic in a number of ways, one of which is the fact that such contracts are signed well before any dispute arises between the parties. These predispute agreements are often vague and give little notice to the signing parties of the kinds of conflicts that will subject them to arbitration proceedings and the specific rights they are surrendering. Because predispute agreements are entered into before the grounds on which the waiver of rights is based can be known, there is no real “meeting of the minds,” as contract law requires between two parties who commit to a binding agreement.

Ex parte Allen, 798 So.2d 668, 776–77 (Ala. 2001). (Roy Moore, concurring). Roy Moore was the Alabama Supreme Court Justice who refused to follow the Supreme Court precedent in Obergefell, among other scandals and ethics problems.


AJ: Was this headline a Breitbart headline or a KKK headline?

TJ: How does HBO’s Insecure light black actors?.

A tip for taking better selfies:

[S]he has a tip dark-skinned folks can use to improve their club selfies using just their phones. “Stand close to a soft light source and turn three quarters to the light, so that it’s not filling in everything the same way. Kind of like a Rembrandt painting.”

RS: $33 dress shoes from Amazon.


In the after show, we discuss the Apple keynote and all the new Apple things AJ is getting.


Everything Lara Knows about North Korea

September 15, 2017

Show Notes

This week, we invite Lara to talk about North Korea because she had objections about our last episode on NK. AJ worries he is socially inappropriate.

North Korea Redux

Kim Jong-Il wants to nuke Fayetteville, NC, AK, and TX. Should we fret?

North Korean leaders

The Washington Post published an article, North Korea could cross ICBM threshold next year:

The new assessment by the ­Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which shaves a full two years off the consensus forecast for North Korea’s ICBM program, was prompted by recent missile tests showing surprising technical advances by the country’s weapons scientists, at a pace beyond what many analysts believed was possible for the isolated communist regime.


Lara: Alaska Dispatch News, Eagles 1, Drones 0.

AJ: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

TJ: Budget Bytes