In the early 1990s, a furor erupted over attempts to carve out two or possibly three "majority-black" congressional districts in the state of Georgia. As the controversy mounted, all the usual charges and countercharges filled the air. When liberals argued that racial redistricting was necessary to make up for a long train of abuses, conservatives accused them of trying to create safe Democratic seats in an otherwise hostile South. When Republicans argued that such districts were a new form of racial segregation, Democrats shot back that it was a little late for Republicans to raise such an alarm.
Eventually, a conservative-dominated Supreme Court put an end to the debate by coming down squarely on the side of the GOP. Newt Gingrich and his troops were exultant.
But what no one seemed to notice amid the tumult was that as bad as the House of Representatives might be on minority representation, the situation in the Senate is many times worse...
Now in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. That's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, and down here you're on your own.
--Joel and Ethan Coen, Blood Simple (1984)
P ressed as to why his state had been so slow to take advantage of the federally funded Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), George W. Bush replied during the second presidential debate that it wasn't his fault--it was just the way things are done in Texas. "Our CHIPs program got a late start," he explained, "because our government meets only four months out of every two years, Mr. Vice President. May come [as] a shock for somebody who's been in Washington for so long, but actually limited government can work in the second-largest state in the union."
In other words, the fact that hundreds of thousands of children had to forgo health insurance because the legislature meets so infrequently was not a sign that...