Monday, March 7, 2022

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

As I said last month, the Supreme Court deciding that state legislatures, not courts, were the final word over elections would end our democracy overnight. For now at least, that fatal bullet has been dodged.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed North Carolina and Pennsylvania to use electoral maps approved by state courts to replace ones deemed to have given Republicans unfair advantages, improving Democratic chances of retaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

The justices denied Republican requests to put on hold lower court rulings that adopted court-drawn boundaries for North Carolina's 14 House districts and Pennsylvania's 17 House districts to replace electoral maps devised by Republican-controlled legislatures in the two states.

Republicans are seeking to regain control of the House, which is narrowly controlled by President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats, in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Party primaries in Pennsylvania and North Carolina are set for May 17.

The court has a 6-3 conservative majority. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the action concerning North Carolina.
Justice Kegstand filed a concurring opinion agreeing with Justice Alito, his only quibble was with the NC GOP filing this as an emergency measure.
So at this point, there's four Supreme Court justices willing to eliminate Democracy by allowing state legislatures to conduct elections however they want to for both state and federal elections, with zero oversight by state or federal courts.

In other words, once Republicans get control of a state legislature, they could make whatever election redistricting and voting laws that they want.

All they need is one more Justice.

Máquina De Ruido Conservadora

The right-wing noise machine, Spanish edition, is launching this week just in time for wrecking Democrats' chances among Hispanic voters in the 2022 midterms.
The nation’s first Spanish-language conservative network launches Tuesday morning on satellite radio, opening a new front in the political information wars targeting Latinos in the United States and beyond.

The network, called Americano, arrives during a crucial inflection point in U.S. politics, as more Hispanic voters show signs of drifting right and Democrats continue to sound the alarm about Spanish-language right-wing disinformation on social media and local radio, particularly in Miami, which is also Americano’s home base.

It's scheduled to launch first on SiriusXM radio, then on streaming TV this summer, offering a mix of news programming and commentary. The network has close ties to former President Donald Trump's campaign, as well as to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who now represents the more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Ahead of the Tuesday broadcast, Democrats in Florida raised concerns publicly and privately that the programming would contribute to the spread of misleading claims targeted at Spanish-speakers that skyrocketed during the pandemic and the 2020 campaign.

Americano’s founder and CEO, Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo, bristled at the notion that the privately funded network is going to purvey disinformation or misinformation, and accused Democrats of trying to cancel speech they don’t like.

"They’re scared. And they should be,” Garcia-Hidalgo said of Democrats in an interview. "Democrats took Hispanics for granted for too long, and no one thought to create a home for us in conservative media. There is an appetite for this. You see it on social media. You see it in elections."

Nowhere is that more apparent in the United States than in Miami-Dade County, home to a large and dynamic population with roots throughout Latin America, and a location where Trump dramatically improved his performance between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. The former president’s support was fueled by support from exile communities of those who fled leftist regimes or violence in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Colombia.

Aside from tapping into strong anti-socialist sentiment, Trump also broadened his Latino support nationwide with an emphasis on blue-collar, pro-business and anti-Covid lockdown messages that played better with Hispanic voters — from Florida to Philadelphia to Wisconsin to the Texas border.

Democrats, meanwhile, have attributed Trump’s gains in part to a deluge of Spanish-language disinformation in the lead-up to the 2020 election, and point out that he nevertheless lost Hispanic voters by double-digit margins nationwide. About a third of Latinos consistently vote Republican nationally.

Pollster Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based consultant who oversaw Barack Obama’s successful national Hispanic outreach, fretted that Americano could be a success — at least politically — even if it doesn’t spread falsehoods or conspiracies.

“For those concerned about the disinformation problem harming Democrats' chances with Hispanics, this is a Defcon 1 moment. We should worry,” Amandi said. “The Democrats’ response to all of this Hispanic outreach from Republicans — whether it's disinformation or conventional campaigning — is to do the bare minimum. Unfortunately, some Democrats are deluding themselves. The ultimate act of disinformation is to pretend that this is not a big problem.”


But as Steve M. reminds us, it's very much going to be wall-to-wall disinformation.

A great deal of Spanish-language disinformation made its way to Hispanic voters in the U.S. in 2020. It's not clear whether Americano plans to spread lies or simply rely on the usual anti-liberal bile. But buried in paragraph 26 of this story is one name -- a non-Hispanic name -- that should give us pause.

Americano’s chief strategy officer, former Trump campaign and White House adviser Michael Caputo, said the company “has investors, not donors.” ...

“I’m doing this because it’s going to be a profitable business. I could use some money after the Russia investigation,” he said, joking.

Though never charged with wrongdoing, Caputo was swept up in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election because of his past work involving Kremlin-linked Russian propaganda and his aid to the 2016 Trump campaign. This has led to a whisper campaign among Miami Democrats, who said his involvement with Americano was evidence that it would be a breeding ground for disinformation.
 It's not a whisper campaign at all, it's reality. Caputo is Trump's former HHS spokesman, largely responsible for pushing wild and dangerous conspiracy theories about the CDC, theories so wacko that he was forced to quit. Since then, he has publicly said that he believes the January 6th sedition was a false flag attack to cover up "Biden's election theft".

Of course it's going to be a massive outlet for direct disinformation, and it's going to be a key player in GOP control of Texas, Florida, Arizona and more. Democrats have no real long-term plan to counter it, either.

If Republicans get the majority of the Hispanic vote in November, you'll know why.

But It's For The Children

Florida Republicans are expected to pass and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign new legislation this week that would effectively outlaw LGBTQ+ references in any classroom under the 3rd grade, and DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw is demonstrating exactly why the bill actually exists: to label opponents as pedophiles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ press secretary Christina Pushaw tweeted accusations that people who oppose a sex education bill working its way through the Legislature are “groomers” or those who would not denounce “groomers” — references to pedophilia and people who help “groom” children for pedophiles and other abusers.

Her tweets drew angry condemnation Sunday from the bill’s opponents. They expressed disbelief that the Governor’s Office would characterize political opponents of a highly-controversial piece of legislation as groomers or pedophiles.

They’re talking about HB 1557, a bill passed by the House on party lines and ready for the Senate‘s special order calendar Monday. The bill officially is entitled “Parental Rights in Education.” Opponents dub it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, because it bans discussions of homosexuality in lower grade levels.

The bill would ban Kindergarten through third grade classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity,” or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

The legislation does not restrict the topics from being barred across all ages if the school district deems the instruction age-appropriate. Nor does it broadly restrict sex education for younger students.

Attempts by St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes and Democrats to amend the bill to explicitly ban sex education in those lower grade levels — instead of making references only to sexual orientation or gender identity — were shot down. That helped fuel opponents’ assertions that the bill is not really about banning sex education, but about banning any classroom references to gay.

Pushaw provided the pedophilia inferences from the Governor’s Office first on Friday night.

“The bill that liberals inaccurately call “Don’t Say Gay” would be more accurately described as Anti-Grooming Bill,” Pushaw tweeted.

She followed that up with: “If you’re against the anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4- to 8-year-old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

By Sunday those being called groomers were firing back.

“They’re saying we’re all pedophiles. It’s unhinged, unreal,” said Democrat Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando. “And coming out of the Governor’s Office, it’s so ridiculous.”

“#DeSantis’ spokesperson openly accused opponents of #DontSayGay of being ‘groomers’— aka PEDOPHILES. Bigoted attacks like this against LGBTQ people are the worst of the worst. They’re disgusting and dangerous and have NO PLACE in the Guv’s office,” tweeted Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando.

West Park Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones said in a statement: “Gov. DeSantis personally owes millions of Floridians an explanation as to why his spokesperson — whose salary is paid wholly with tax dollars — believes it is acceptable to label opponents to this bigoted bill as ‘groomers,’ a code word for pedophiles. It is outrageous that the Governor’s Office continues to use taxpayer resources to advance a radical, partisan agenda. Students, educators, and families across the state overwhelmingly agree: enough of the intimidation and targeted assaults on Florida’s most vulnerable.”

Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon of Jacksonville called for Pushaw’s resignation.

“@ChristinaPushaw has shown us she’s anti-Semitic and now that she’s openly homophobic. She definitely needs to resign,” Nixon tweeted.

The anti-Semitic accusation arose from Pushaw’s tweets in January questioning whether real Nazis were to blame for a Nazi demonstration in Orlando. She made that challenge instead of denouncing the demonstration.

Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy organization, called her new tweets a “bigoted anti-LGBTQ rant.”

“Governor DeSantis’ spokesperson said the quiet part out loud: that this bill is grounded in a belief that LGBTQ people, simply by existing, are a threat to children and must be erased. He chose Pushaw to speak his mind to the public. He owns this unbridled hatred,” reads an Equality Florida statement released Sunday.
Criminalizing LGBTQ+ people as "pedophiles" is the one of the oldest, most vile attacks that the right has in its arsenal, and this "we're protecting the children" idiocy is meant to draw rabid, violent support from Q-ball types and conspiracy theorists. DeSantis is sending a very loud and clear message that should he aspire to higher office, he will work to criminalize LGBTQ references in schools across the country.
And as always, it won't stop there.
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