Palin: I’m an idiot, but I won’t admit it

Sarah Palin is yet another in the long line of Republicans who isn’t familiar or interested in American history:

Sarah Palin insisted Sunday that history was on her side when she claimed that Paul Revere’s famous ride was intended to warn both British soldiers and his fellow colonists.

“You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don’t you?” “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace asked the potential 2012 presidential candidate.

“I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere,” replied Palin, a paid contributor to the network.

She didn’t, did she? Let’s take a peak:

“He who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringing those bells, and makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

Here is the reality of the situation:

The colonists at the time of Revere’s ride were British subjects, with American independence still in the future. But Revere’s own writing and other historical accounts leave little doubt that secrecy was vital to his mission.

The Paul Revere House’s website says that on April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot leader in the Boston area, instructed Revere to ride to Lexington, Mass., to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.

In an undated letter posted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Revere later wrote of the need to keep his activities secret and his suspicion that a member of his tight circle of planners had become a British informant. According to the letter, believed to have been written around 1798, Revere did provide some details of the plan to the soldiers that night, but after he had notified other colonists and under questioning by the Redcoats.

Intercepted and surrounded by British soldiers on his way from Lexington to Concord, Revere revealed “there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up,” he wrote.

Revere was probably bluffing the soldiers about the size of any advancing militia, since he had no way of knowing, according to Joel J. Miller, author of “The Revolutionary Paul Revere.” And while he made bells, Revere would never have rung any on that famous night because the Redcoats were under orders to round up people just like him.

“He was riding off as quickly and as quietly as possible,” Miller said. “Paul Revere did not want the Redcoats to know of his mission at all.”

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Milky Way look-alike

This is an old image, but I’ve seen it in the news lately for whatever reason (maybe it was retaken?) It’s a galaxy in the Pavo constellation located about 25 million lightyears away. Known as NGC 6744, it is a look-alike of the Milky Way.

Stop gerrymandering

As I’ve said several times in the past, gerrymandering hurts the nation:

Take Georgia, where jockeying has begun in advance of a state General Assembly session to redraw boundaries for seats in Congress and the state legislature. Some observers expect that U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop — a black Democrat serving a constituency that’s half white — will end up with a heavily black base after black voters are redrawn out of the district won last year by Republican U.S. Rep. Austin Scott. That way, Scott can concentrate on solidifying his support among overwhelmingly white tea partiers.

“In political terms, it’s resegregating the South,” Harpootlian said. “Without those majority-minority districts in the South, Republicans would not have come to the dominance they have come to.”

This article happens to be about racial gerrymandering, but this sort of redistricting is bad in all its forms. Whatever party gets the opportunity to redraw lines will do so in its own favor. This is a big part of the reason we get such polarization in our politics.

It will probably never happen, but there needs to be a constitutional amendment regulating how federal districts are drawn. There ought to be an objective formula that draws lines in box or near-box shapes based upon population. The only deviations should be relatively minor ones, much in the way time zones deviate for practical reasons.

We could get a few wingnuts from both sides of the aisle out of Congress if we were smart about this.

Dear Bruins,

Come on.