Thursday, January 19, 2023

Last Call For Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't

Alabama's new GOP Secretary of State Wes Allen was one of the few 2020 election deniers that won his race as the state's top election official, and his first act is pulling the Yellowhammer State out of a bipartisan national compact to share voter roll information.
On his first day in office on Monday, Allen terminated Alabama’s membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a consortium of roughly 30 states that share data about their voter rolls to keep them up to date, citing concerns about data privacy.

“I made a promise to the people of Alabama that ending our state’s relationship with the ERIC organization would be my first official act as Secretary of State,” he said.

Allen’s quick move, fueled by right-wing conspiracies about ERIC that spread last year, alarmed election administration professionals.

“Anything that makes elections more secure is a target for the election deniers, and the attacks on ERIC are just another tactic in this effort,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, an organization that works closely with election administrators.

Becker, who is a non-voting member of ERIC’s board after helping spearhead its launch a decade ago, attributed the decision to the lies about election administration spread by election deniers.

Allen first promised he would leave ERIC on the campaign trail last year, shortly after the conservative website Gateway Pundit published a series of stories falsely tying ERIC to George Soros, the progressive-leaning billionaire. Those stories, which called ERIC a “left wing voter registration drive disguised as voter roll clean up,” spread among Republicans who were already fanning other conspiracies about election administration, helping turn ERIC into a target of far-right organizations. Allen himself referred to Soros in explaining his hostility to ERIC in early 2022.

ERIC is financially supported by its member states, including many staunchly red ones that are governed by Republicans, such as South Carolina and Texas, as well as many blue states. The current chair of ERIC, Mandi Grandjean, is the deputy assistant secretary of state of Ohio under Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Trump-endorsed Republican.

John Merrill, Alabama’s outgoing secretary of state whom Allen replaced, and a Republican known for his own poor record on voting rights—he threatened to go after hundreds voters who mistakenly thought they could vote in a partisan runoff, failed to inform voters of their rights, and lashed out at critics of the state’s voting rights record—steadfastly defended ERIC throughout 2022.

“This continued narrative of ERIC being a George Soros system is untrue. ERIC was not founded nor funded by George Soros, and to claim otherwise is either dishonest or misinformed,” Merrill said in November. Becker echoed that characterization on Wednesday. “Putting aside the nature of those attacks, it’s just 100 percent false,” he said.

Tammy Patrick, the CEO of Election Center, a national organization that represents election administrators, stressed that ERIC was built to meet the practical needs of officials from both parties. “From its inception ERIC has been a bipartisan effort,” she told Bolts on Wednesday. “The policies and functionality were all created taking into account the perspectives of election administrators from across the political spectrum.
Increasingly, Secretaries of States in red state offices are being elected to destroy election integrity, not to protect it. The eventuality is that state elections will be so one sided in both candidate qualifications and vote qualifications that Republican legislatures will simply take over the state's "broken" election system and just declare GOP candidates to win, all the time.

At the very least, so few people will vote that Republicans will win anyway, and that's the point.

Jacinda Rescinded, Or, Totally Out Of Petrol

“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple,” she said.

Her term as prime minister will conclude no later than 7 February, but she will continue as an MP until the election later this year.

“I am human, politicians are human. We give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time. And for me, it’s time,” she said. Ardern said she had reflected over the summer break on whether she had the energy to continue in the role, and had concluded she did not.

Ardern became the world’s youngest female head of government when she was elected prime minister in 2017 at age 37. She has led New Zealand through the Covid-19 pandemic, and major disasters including the terror attack on two mosques in Christchurch, and the White Island volcanic eruption.

“This has been the most fulfilling five and a half years of my life. But it’s also had its challenges – amongst an agenda focused on housing, child poverty and climate change, we encountered a … domestic terror event, a major natural disaster, a global pandemic, and an economic crisis,” she said.

Asked how she would like New Zealanders to remember her leadership, Ardern said “as someone who always tried to be kind.”

“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go,” Ardern said.

Over the past year, Ardern has faced a significant increase in threats of violence, particularly from conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine groups infuriated by the country’s vaccine mandates and Covid-19 lockdowns. She said, however, that the increased risk associated with the job were not behind her decision to step down.

“I don’t want to leave the impression that the adversity you face in politics is the reason that people exit. Yes, it does have an impact. We are humans after all, but that was not the basis of my decision,” she said.

Ardern said she had no future plans, other than to spend more time with her family.

She thanked her partner, Clarke Gayford, and daughter Neve, whom she gave birth to while holding office, as “the ones that have sacrificed the most out of all of us”.

“To Neve: mum is looking forward to being there when you start school this year. And to Clarke – let’s finally get married.”

The prime minister’s announcement comes as New Zealand enters a closely-fought election year, with the date of the vote announced for 14 October. Polling over recent months had placed the Ardern-led Labour party slightly behind the opposition National.
People quit jobs all the time.  This one just happened to be Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Ardern is going to face a lot of ruthless attacks for admitting this, because national leaders aren't supposed to just up and quit on their people like this. But you know what? She's doing the right thing for her, and that makes it the right thing for New Zealand.

Bring it on,” Jacinda Ardern told a cheering crowd in early November, addressing party members at Labour’s last conference before the next election. It was a battle-cry for a party and leader who know there’s a tough fight ahead.

In the weeks that followed, political headwinds accelerated: projections of a recession, stubbornly high inflation, national fears over crime, grim polling and enduring pockets of anti-government conspiracists dominated the news cycle. The last year and a half have been brutal for the progressive leader, who has slipped from near-unprecedented levels of popularity to some of the lowest polling of her political career.

The last polls of 2022 had Labour at about 33%, compared with the centre-right National party’s 38-39%. Those results are among the lowest of Ardern’s leadership, representing a turn back toward the bleak polling the Labour party was mired in when she first took over in 2017.
Hopefully the country will be able to move on and continue recovery, but it's going to do so without Ardern.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to keep Florida safe from several horrible things, including masks, vaccines, and Black history.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing legislation to permanently ban Covid health measures aimed at mitigating the virus in the state.

The legislation would prohibit vaccine and mask requirements in schools, mask requirements at businesses and the so-called vaccine passports showing proof of vaccinations. It would also bar employers from hiring or firing employees based on whether they have been vaccinated, and would prohibit the firing or de-licensing of medical professionals who might disagree on Covid protocols.

“When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom’s linchpin,” DeSantis said in a press release. “These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners.”

DeSantis has been a vocal opponent of pandemic health measures despite his initial support for vaccines, which he once called lifesaving, in 2021.
Yes, free speech must be defended when the topic is vaccines, but not Black history.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has rejected a College Board request to approve an African-American Studies course in his state on the grounds that the course violates state law, according to a report. The Advanced Placement (AP) program, of which a pilot has been launched, was reportedly rejected by DeSantis’ administration in a letter to the College Board from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation.

The rejection letter dated Jan. 12 said “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,” according to National Review. The letter reportedly added: “in the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion. DeSantis’ controversial “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” signed into law last April, aimed in part to combat the teaching of critical race theory in Florida.
Stanley Kurtz over at NRO is all but ecstatic, of course.

On January 12, however, the administration of Florida governor Ron DeSantis wrote a letter to the College Board informing it that Florida was rejecting its request for state approval of APAAS. The letter, from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation, goes on to state that, “as presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” At the same time, the letter notes that “in the future, should College Board be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion.” In short, DeSantis has decided that APAAS does in fact violate Florida’s Stop WOKE Act by attempting to persuade students of at least some tenets of CRT.
As far as I know, this is the first time that any state has refused to approve a College Board Advanced Placement course of any kind. While there were serious expressions of concern by some states during the 2014 controversy over the College Board’s leftist revision of its AP U.S. history course, no state or school district actually refused to approve the course. So this is a bold and unprecedented move by DeSantis.

DeSantis’s refusal to approve APAAS is entirely justified. Although the College Board has pointedly declined to release the APAAS curriculum, I obtained a copy and wrote about it in September. There I argued that APAAS proselytizes for a socialist transformation of the United States, that it directly runs afoul of new state laws barring CRT, and that to approve APAAS would be to gut those laws.
AP level Black history "significantly lacks educational value."
Never forget what DeSantis an his ilk think of us.
How many more red states will ban AP Black History classes? 

Destroy a people's history, outlaw it, and you destroy and outlaw a people.

But Black Lives Matter, Ron. So does Black history.
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