Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Last Call For School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Con't

Republicans are convinced that the Virginia playbook will work for them all over the country, and are ready to launch hundreds of bills designed to codify the white backlash against Black Lives Matter and American History itself by declaring all of it to be "critical race theory" and banning the entire thing from schools, colleges, and workplaces.

Missouri state Rep. Brian Seitz has one clear priority for the 2022 legislative session: “Shut down” critical race theory in his state. He intends to do that by passing a bill that would forbid public school teachers from discussing critical race theory, an examination of how race and racism permeates American society.

In South Carolina, a bill lawmakers may consider in coming months would require K-12 public schools to post online detailed lists of instruction materials and curriculum. Another bill would go a step further by banning any state-funded entity like colleges, private contractors and nonprofit organizations from promoting “certain discriminatory concepts.”

And in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is urging the GOP-led state Legislature to pass a measure that would allow parents to sue school districts that teach lessons rooted in critical race theory.

Attacking the study of racism in the United States emerged as a leading culture war cause for Republicans in 2021. But state lawmakers have only just begun focusing on the issue, which promises to dominate red-state legislatures across the country this year.

Legislators in at least a dozen Republican-controlled statehouses — including in Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio — plan to push dozens of bills in upcoming legislative sessions that aim to halt teachings about race and society and give parents more say in what’s discussed in classrooms.

There’s a clear power incentive: Republicans are amped up by the party’s November election sweep in Virginia, where education was a top issue, and intend to campaign on such bills leading up to the midterms.

“There is a huge red wave coming,” Seitz, a pastor and business owner, said in an interview. “Virginia is just a microcosm of the rest of the United States.”

Critical race theory is an analytical framework originally developed by legal scholars examining how race and racism have become ingrained in American law and institutions since slavery and Jim Crow. Many conservatives began using critical race theory as shorthand for a broader critique of how race and social issues are being taught in the K-12 education system.

Their criticism centers on the belief that white students are being told that they are oppressors because of their race. In turn, history lessons about the the founding of the nation that adopt some of the tenets of critical race theory promote discrimination against white students and depict students of color as victims, they argue.

Yet most public school officials across the country say they do not teach any curriculum based on the theory, even in districts and states where lawmakers are seeking to ban the practice. Some Democrats and other critics say the anti-critical race theory push is motivated by a deep fear among white conservatives about changing racial awareness in the U.S. and an unwillingness to grapple with how the legacy of slavery manifests today.

A major question is what sort of long-term impact these bills will have — whether they will end up being mostly symbolic acts to energize GOP campaigns or actually permanently transform what millions of students are taught.

Academics are concerned about the “chilling effect” these bills will have on teachers as Republican lawmakers “race to outdo each other to pass the most extreme legislation,” said Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Acadia University who has been tracking these bills. He’s worried about teachers already making changes to courses and readings to avoid potential backlash from parents and in advance of any legislation being enacted.

Sachs said he believes people are “not taking the scale of this threat seriously” and it’s a mistake to dismiss parents’ concerns by denying that teachers are not changing the ways they teach about the persistence of systemic racism in the U.S. He pointed to former Virginia Gov. Terry McCauliffe’s comments during the 2021 gubernatorial race as the wrong approach. McAuliffe said that outrage over the theory is a “made up, racist dog whistle” that has never been taught in Virginia schools.

“One better response is to highlight how dangerous and extreme some of these bills are and the terrible consequences when teachers operate in a climate of fear,” he said.
No offense to Professor Sachs there, but you'd better believe that there are tens of millions of GOP voters who want teachers to operate in a climate of fear of parents and the state.  The GOP won Virginia because outraged white parents who didn't bother to vote in off-year elections did, and Democrats stayed home.

That won't be as much of a case this year, obviously. But Republican voters are going to show up. Once again it's a question of if Democratic voters will even be able to vote in many counties and precincts at all.

House Of Pain, 2022 Edition

According to Cook Political Report's House maestro, Dave Wasserman, Democrats managed to make out slightly better than in 2020 when it comes to House districts, because Republicans really can't gerrymander things more than they did in 2012.

The surprising good news for Democrats: on the current trajectory, there will be a few more Biden-won districts after redistricting than there are now — producing a congressional map slightly less biased in the GOP's favor than the last decade's. The bad news for Democrats: if President Biden's approval ratings are still mired in the low-to-mid 40s in November, that won't be enough to save their razor-thin House majority (currently 221 to 212 seats).

The start of 2022 is an ideal time to take stock of the nation's cartographic makeover. New district lines are either complete or are awaiting certification in 34 states totaling 293 seats — more than two-thirds of the House (this includes the six states with only one seat).

A Cook Political Report with Amy Walter analysis finds that in the completed states, Biden would have carried 161 of 293 districts over Donald Trump in 2020, an uptick from 157 of 292 districts in those states under the current lines (nationwide, Biden carried 224 of 435 seats). And if Democrats were to aggressively gerrymander New York or courts strike down GOP-drawn maps in North Carolina and/or Ohio, the outlook would get even better for Democrats.

However, the partisan distribution of seats before/after redistricting is only one way to gauge the process. Because Democrats currently possess the lion's share of marginal seats, estimating the practical effect of new lines in 2022 still points towards a wash or a slight GOP gain.

As we've written all cycle, redistricting was never going to be the GOP bonanza depicted in some sky-is-falling narratives on the left. Yes, Republicans wield the authority to redraw 187 seats compared to 75 for Democrats. But that's less lopsided than in 2011, when Republicans had nearly a five-to-one advantage. And many GOP-controlled states are already gerrymandered, limiting Republicans' ability to wring them for additional gains.

In Texas, Republican mapmakers' main objective was to shore up their own vulnerable incumbents, not seize a lot more Democratic seats. Republicans passed on going nuclear in Indiana and Iowa, and for parochial reasons appear unlikely to dismantle remaining Democratic seats in Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. In fact, so far Republicans have only gone on offense in Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio — all of which face court scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Democrats unabashedly gerrymandered Illinois, New Mexico and Oregon. They scored highly favorable maps from commissions in California and New Jersey, and to a lesser extent Michigan. Republicans' only mild commission "wins?" Arizona and Montana. And five states where the GOP had exclusive authority back in 2011 — Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — are now under split or commission control.


So no, despite my pessimism, Democrats have persevered and held up aggaingst gerrymandering.

But that still leaves a lot more factors to deal with in 2022, and nearly all are in the GOP's favor. 2022 can definitely be saved, but it's going to require a lot of work, work that needs to start now that these new districts are being approved.

The Big Lie, Con't

Donald Trump just found out that because he's not the guy in the Oval Office anymore, that the media is under no contract or law to cover his vile, anti-democratic authoritarian bleating. His big January 6th anniversary speech for tomorrow has been canceled because he's being starved of attention...finally.
Former President Trump is scrapping a planned news conference on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The former president had planned to use the Thursday news conference at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., as counterprogramming for a scheduled prayer service at the Capitol to commemorate the events of Jan. 6.

In a statement, Trump blamed the House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 riot for the cancellation. He said he would instead touch on many of the themes he had planned to discuss at the news conference during a rally in Arizona set for Jan. 15.

“In light of the total bias and dishonesty of the January 6th Unselect Committee of Democrats, two failed Republicans, and the Fake News Media, I am canceling the January 6th Press Conference at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday, and instead will discuss many of those important topics at my rally on Saturday, January 15th, in Arizona – It will be a big crowd!” he said.

Before Donald Trump canceled his planned Jan. 6 press conference, several key allies — including hardline Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — made clear they thought it was a bad idea to invite the national media to Mar-a-Lago to mark the deadly riot.

Why it matters: Trump would have inevitably used his press conference Thursday to portray the rioters as political prisoners, whitewash their actions that day and lie about a "stolen election." Divisions had widened between the former president and congressional Republican leaders over how to handle the anniversary. Trump — like his most fervent allies — wanted to go on offense.

Congressional leaders wanted to narrowly condemn the rioters, avoid criticizing Trump or assigning any responsibility to him and quickly pivot to attacking Democrats over their handling of the Jan. 6 investigation.
I'm not saying that Trump being talked out of a self-aggrandizing tirade carried on national TV is a breakthrough, but it's also clear that a lot of Republicans saw this as ludicrously damaging to their re-election chances, too. They are right to believe that the biggest single obstacle to regaining control of the House and Senate is in fact Trump's big fat mouth.

Besides, Trump will make an ass of himself next week, on Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. It could very well be a situation where the GOP wished Trump had vomited up his stored bile on the 6th instead.


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