While staring at the Shelby County decision this morning, I was suddenly reminded that one of the non-southern jurisdictions made subject to Section 5 preclearance requirements following the formula in Section 4 was Monterey County, California, where I now live. I haven’t studied this intensively, but it seems Monterey County and three other California counties fell under the VRA in 1970 thanks to blatantly discriminatory tests for voter registration and a recent history of exceptionally low voting and registration numbers (mostly, I suspect, because of the large presence of unregistered farm workers in the county’s vast table salad fields). On several occasions in the 1990s the county incurred rejections of voting changes by the Justice Department (along with private suits) for alleged dilution of minority (in this case Latino) voting influence. I don’t know if there are currently fears about discrimination by the county (though again, unregistered Latino farm workers still live in the country in large numbers), but I’m guessing local liberals have little interest in pushing it to “opt out” of Section 5 via the procedures in the VRA for doing that. Interesting.

In any event, here are some mid-day news/views treats:

* So what will be the big attack line on Obama’s climate change speech? One opening bid is “the war on coal.”

* John Fund pens first major conservative column labeling destruction of VRA Section 4 as a “civil rights victory.” We’ll see a lot more of that directly.

* The Fix offers a handy-dandy Section 5 coverage map.

* Putin lets us know Edward Snowden is a “free man” who’s still hanging out at the Moscow airport.

* Turnout in MA Senate special election not atrocious, but still down from 2010 special that elected Scott Brown.

And in non-political news:

* Facebook admits 2012 “data bug” that exposed information from 6 million users in 2012.

Back after absorbing the president’s climate change speech.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.