Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Last Call For The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

We're now openly to the point where Florida Republicans are trying to criminalize any of America's history that makes white people uncomfortable.

A bill pushed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” when they teach students or train employees about discrimination in the nation’s past received its first approval Tuesday.

The Senate Education Committee approved the bill that takes aim at critical race theory — though it doesn’t mention it explicitly — on party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

Democrats argued the bill isn’t needed, would lead to frivolous lawsuits and said it would amount to censorship in schools. They asked, without success, for real-life examples of teachers or businesses telling students or employees that they are racist because of their race.

“This bill’s not for Blacks, this bill was not for any other race. This was directed to make whites not feel bad about what happened years ago,” said state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black. “At no point did anyone say white people should be held responsible for what happened, but what I would ask my white counterparts is, are you an enabler of what happened or are you going to say we must talk about history?”

DeSantis held a news conference last month in which he called critical race theory “crap,” and said he would seek legislation that would allow parents to sue schools and employees to sue employers if they were subject to its teachings.

Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. It was developed during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what scholars viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.

Conservatives reject it, saying it is a world view derived from Marxism that divides society by defining people as oppressors and oppressed based on their race. They call it an attempt to rewrite American history and make white people believe they are inherently racist.

The bill reads in part, “An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race
Setting aside the entire raft of accusations that this is cancel culture from a bunch of snowflakes, under this bill I can't see most of American history being taught at all because it would make somebody uncomfortable. 

Has anyone asked what DeSantis actually wants to be taught in the state's schools? The answer is "not accurate history" which of course is the point. We laugh about textbooks from Texas and Florida that tried to say Black folk benefited from slavery over the years, but that's the only history that will be taught going forward in Florida.

Here's the kicker:

The bill is called “Individual Freedom.” Republican Sen. Manny Diaz, its sponsor, said it is not about ignoring the “dark” parts of American history, but rather ensuring that people are not blamed for sins of the past.

“No individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by the virtue of his or her race or sex,” Garcia said. “No race is inherently superior to another race.”
And it just takes one person under this bill to "feel uncomfortable" and it's a criminal act, punishable by heavy fines.  No better way to destroy America's "dark" parts than to make teaching it to be a literal criminal act.

This will go nationwide under the next GOP administration, I guarantee it.

A Hail Mary For Voting RIghts

With voting rights legislation facing a tough, if not impossible vote this week in the Senate, Democrats are considering a Hail Mary pass to try to save the bill from GOP destruction.

Senate Democrats are scrambling for a Plan B to pass voting rights legislation after Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced last week that they would not vote to change the Senate’s filibuster rule despite the pleading of President Biden.

Now some Democrats are discussing a novel approach to circumventing a Republican filibuster that may allow voting rights legislation to pass with 51 votes without changing the Senate’s rules.

These Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), are exploring the possibility of forcing Senate Republicans to actually hold the floor with speeches and procedural motions.

They hope that the Republican opposition may tire itself out after a few days or weeks and that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) may be able to then call for a simple-majority vote on final passage and skip the formal procedural vote — known as cloture — on ending debate.

"There are a couple of paths here. Do we go down the path and do a long debate until it's done and then have a simple debate?" Kaine told reporters last week.

"We wouldn't need a rules change to pass the bill by simple majority if the debate is over. Theoretically, you do not need a rules change to pass a bill that's on the floor, you just have to allow debate to occur," he added.

The strategy has gained more attention from Senate Democrats in recent days as it’s become crystal clear that Sinema and Manchin won’t vote for a more straightforward rules change to lowering the procedural threshold for ending a filibuster from 60 votes to 50.

A second Democratic senator confirmed that colleagues are reviewing the idea of forcing Republicans to stage a talking filibuster to block voting rights legislation.

“We’ve discussed it,” said the lawmaker, who explained that if Republicans don’t occupy the floor with speeches and procedural motions, voting rights legislation should be allowed to come up for final passage under the Senate’s rules.

The problem with this approach, according to Democrats familiar with the discussion, is that it hasn’t been attempted in decades and no one is quite sure how it would play out procedurally.

Cloture votes to end debate in the Senate have become so routine that it’s become second nature to expect the floor is being tied up in debate when a controversial bill is pending.

More often, the floor is usually empty or has only a few members milling about while the clerk reads off the roll of senators’ names during a quorum call.

James Wallner, a former Senate Republican aide and expert on Senate procedure, says that Democrats could pass voting rights legislation with a simple-majority vote if they’re willing to put up with a lengthy battle on the floor.

“Democrats don’t need 60 votes at all. They’re in 51-vote territory. They can move to table any amendments that Republicans offer to the bill,” he said.
The two problems are of course "would the Dems be able to outlast the GOP on this?" and "WHo would be the 51st vote". The second question has an answer at least: VP Kamala Harris, who would have to be on hand for the entire battle.
But can the Dems pull this off? I don't know. I do know that right now, the bill is 100% doomed.
It's worth a shot.

Another #MeToo Moment For Matt Gaetz, Con't

Federal prosecutors have granted legal immunity to the ex-girlfriend of Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz as she testified last week in front of a federal grand jury. Gaetz is facing possible sex trafficking and obstruction of justice charges.

Prosecutors granted immunity to an ex-girlfriend of Representative Matt Gaetz before she testified last week in front of a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigation of the congressman, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Gaetz has been under investigation to determine if he violated sex trafficking laws and obstructed justice in that probe. Gaetz has previously denied all wrongdoing, and has said he has never paid for sex nor had sex with an underage girl.

The woman, who CBS News is not naming to protect her privacy, testified in front of a federal grand jury in Orlando last Wednesday. She is viewed as a potential key witness, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. One of the sources said she has information related to the investigation of both the sex trafficking and obstruction allegations.

"This may be a willing participant who has a smart lawyer who sought an immunity deal from the government," said former prosecutor and CBS News legal analyst Rikki Kleiman. "The government does not give immunity blindly, they know what they're getting in exchange."

Isabelle Kirshner, an attorney for Gaetz, told CBS News in a statement last week that "we have seen no credible basis for a charge against Congressman Gaetz. We remain steadfast in our commitment to challenge any allegations with the facts and law."

A source told CBS News last week that as a part of an obstruction probe, investigators are looking into whether Gaetz had a phone call with the ex-girlfriend, and another woman, who was already a witness in the federal investigation.

Multiple sources told CBS News that the ex-girlfriend and the other woman traveled to the Bahamas with Gaetz in 2018, along with a third woman with whom Gaetz was in a sexual relationship. That third woman was 18 at the time of the Bahamas trip, but investigators are also looking into whether she was 17 when the sexual relationship began.

Investigators are trying to determine if any of the women were paid and were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with the congressman.
Gaetz will never step down voluntarily, and I doubt there will be enough Republican votes to expel him unless he is convicted, a trial being something that wouldn't happen until 2023. He knows he can roll the dice when it comes to his re-election campaign, especially if Trump has his back yelling WITCH HUNT for the next several months.

Would Florida voters re-elect a Congressman facing sex trafficking and/or obstruction charges in connection with trying to cover all this up?

Of course they would.


Don't expect Gaetz to face any consequences. He's betting on the Duncan Hunter special in January 2025.
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