Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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

Once again, the voter fraud in America is revealed to be Republicans in red states voting extra times for the fascists.
To the extent that the United States has a retirement community known to national audiences, it’s probably The Villages in central Florida. As regular readers probably recall, it has also earned a reputation as a far-right Republican stronghold.

A few years ago, for example, when Donald Trump promoted a video showing a parade of supporters in golf carts — one of whom shouted, “White power!” — it was recorded at The Villages.

It was against this backdrop that we learned in 2021 that three residents of The Villages were charged with voter fraud. A fourth soon followed. As we discussed at the time, according to local police reports, the accused tried to game the system by voting in Florida, while also trying to cast absentee ballots in other states. Not surprisingly, they got caught.

Whatever happened to these charges? I’m glad you asked.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, two of the accused — Charles Barnes and Jay Ketcik — pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony. Though the charges could’ve resulted in prison sentences, both received probation. They were joined by Joan Halstead, who pleaded guilty last summer and also received probation.

This week, the final member of the quartet followed suit. WKMG in Orlando reported:

All four residents of The Villages charged with voting twice in the 2020 election have now admitted to the crime, court records show. John Rider, 62, recently entered into a pre-trial intervention program that will allow him to avoid potential prison time if he successfully completes court-ordered requirements and refrains from violating the law.
It’s worth noting for context that Rider originally pleaded not guilty. Evidently, he changed his mind ahead of a plea agreement in which he received probation.
Old white GOP voters in red states who knowingly vote twice get probation.
Black women in red states who accidentally vote at all without being eligible? Five years in prison. 

Thus endeth the lesson.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

As we enter Black History Month here in the US, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is announcing a proposal to all but remove both the teaching of that history and the descendants of those who survived it from Florida's public schools and universities completely.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he intends to ban state universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in hopes that they will “wither on the vine” without funding.

“It really serves as an ideological filter, a political filter,” the Republican said while speaking in Bradenton, Florida.

The proposal is a top priority for DeSantis’ higher education agenda this year, which also includes giving politically appointed presidents and university boards of trustees more power over hiring and firing at universities and urging schools to focus their missions on Florida’s future workforce needs. DeSantis, who is said to be weighing a potential 2024 presidential bid, has seen his standing among conservatives soar nationwide following his public stances on hot-button cultural and education issues.

In a press release about the announced legislation, the governor’s office called diversity, equity and inclusion programs “discriminatory” and vowed to prohibit universities from funding them, even if the source of the money isn’t coming from the state.

Diversity, equity and inclusion programs are intended to promote multiculturalism and encourage students of all races and backgrounds to feel comfortable in a campus setting, especially those from traditionally underrepresented communities. The state’s flagship school, the University of Florida, has a “Chief Diversity Officer,” a “Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement” and an “Office for Accessibility and Gender Equity.”

Tuesday’s announcement was foreshadowed in December when the governor’s office asked all state universities to account for all of their spending on programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion or critical race theory.

DeSantis announced his higher education agenda in Bradenton, a 15-minute drive from New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college where DeSantis has installed a controversial new board with a mandate to remake the school into his conservative vision for higher education. DeSantis said his budget will include $15 million to restructure New College and hire faculty.

The new board met on Tuesday, leading to protests on the campus.

One of DeSantis’ new board members, Eddie Speir, wrote in an online post that he planned to propose in that meeting “terminating all contracts for faculty, staff and administration” of the school, “and immediately rehiring those faculty, staff and administration who fit in the new financial and business model.”
On top of all that, DeSantis says he will radically change the curriculum of Florida's public education system as well. 

Mr. DeSantis’s embrace of civics education, as well as the establishment of special civics programs at several of the state’s 12 public universities, dovetails with the growth of similar programs around the country, some partially funded by conservative donors.

The programs emphasize the study of Western civilization and economics, as well as the thinking of Western philosophers, frequently focusing on the Greeks and Romans. Critics of the programs say they sometimes gloss over the pitfalls of Western thinking and ignore the philosophies of non-Western civilizations.

“The core curriculum must be grounded in actual history, the actual philosophy that has shaped Western civilization,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We don’t want students to go through, at taxpayer expense, and graduate with a degree in Zombie studies.”

And you can say goodbye to Black history, gender study, and any queer history courses in the state, too. We're teaching "Western history" now, and those people aren't welcome here anyway. If you want a real education, you won't get it in Florida after DeSantis gets done.
Of course, if he ends up in the White House, you will see all those courses gone all over America as Department of Education funding and accreditation will be cut off from any school in America that dares teach anything other than the Approved Glory Of Whiteness.
Believe me when I say when it comes to stripping Black folk of our history, he will have plenty of help.

After heavy criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board released on Wednesday an official curriculum for its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies — stripped of much of the subject matter that had angered the governor and other conservatives.

The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum.

And it added something new: “Black conservatism” is now offered as an idea for a research project.

When it announced the A.P. course in August, the College Board clearly believed it was providing a class whose time had come, and it was celebrated by eminent scholars like Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard as an affirmation of the importance of African American studies. But the course, which is meant to be for all students of diverse backgrounds, quickly ran into a political buzz saw after an early draft leaked to conservative publications like The Florida Standard and National Review.

In January, Governor DeSantis of Florida, who is expected to run for president, announced he would ban the curriculum, citing the draft version. State education officials said it was not historically accurate and violated state law that regulates how race-related issues are taught in public schools.

The attack on the A.P. course turned out to be the prelude to a much larger agenda. On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis unveiled a proposal to overhaul higher education that would eliminate what he called “ideological conformity” by among other things, mandating courses in Western civilization.

In another red flag, the College Board faced the possibility of other opposition: more than two dozen states have adopted some sort of measure against critical race theory, according to a tracking project by the University of California, Los Angeles, law school.

David Coleman, the head of the College Board, said in an interview that the changes were all made for pedagogical reasons, not to bow to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes, he said, came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”

So this Black History Month, remember that Black history will soon be outlawed under a DeSantis administration...

A Taxing Problem, Black Taxpayers Matter Edition

Black taxpayers are three times more likely than white taxpayers to face IRS audits, even adjusting for all other factors, and the system has been designed to do that in the wake of Republican cuts to the agency.
Black taxpayers are at least three times as likely to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service as other taxpayers, even after accounting for the differences in the types of returns each group is most likely to file, a team of economists has concluded in one of the most detailed studies yet on race and the nation’s tax system.

The findings do not suggest bias from individual tax enforcement agents, who do not know the race of the people they are auditing. They also do not suggest any valid reason for the I.R.S. to target Black Americans at such high rates; there is no evidence that group engages in more tax evasion than others.

Instead, the findings document discrimination in the computer algorithms the agency uses to determine who is selected for an audit
, according to the study by economists from Stanford University, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago and the Treasury Department.

Some of that discrimination appears to be rooted in decisions that I.R.S. officials made over the past decade as they sought to maintain tax enforcement in the face of budget cuts, by relying on automated systems to select returns for audit.

Those decisions have produced an approach that disproportionately flags tax returns with potential errors in the claiming of certain tax credits, like the earned-income tax credit, which supplements low-income workers’ incomes in an effort to alleviate poverty. Those tax returns are more often selected for audits, regardless of how much in owed taxes the agency might recover.

The result is audit rates of Black Americans that are between three and five times the rate of other taxpayers, even when comparing that group to other taxpayers who also claim the E.I.T.C.

The I.R.S. does not detail how it selects returns for audit. But the researchers were able to isolate several apparent explanations for why Black taxpayers are targeted so much more frequently. One is complexity: It is much harder for the agency to audit returns that include business income, because that process requires expertise from individual auditors. Such returns appear to be audited less often than returns from otherwise similar taxpayers who do not report income from a business.

Black taxpayers are far less likely than others to report business income. And Black taxpayers appear to disproportionately file returns with the sort of potential errors that are easy for I.R.S. systems to identify, like underreporting certain income or claiming tax credits that the taxpayer does not qualify for, the authors find.

In effect, the researchers suggest that the I.R.S. has focused on audits that are easier to conduct and as a result, finds itself disproportionately auditing a historically disadvantaged group rather than other taxpayers, including high net-worth individuals.

“What the I.R.S. chooses to focus on when it conducts audits can either undercut or complement our progressive tax system,” said Daniel Ho, an author of the study who is the faculty director of Stanford’s Regulation, Evaluation and Governance Lab, known as RegLab, where the study originated.
Auditing low-income taxpayers is much, much easier than auditing high-income taxpayers, and the poorest taxpayers are much more likely to be Black.
In other words, decades of systemic Black poverty makes Black folk easier targets for the IRS to pick on. We're the low-hanging fruit and the easiest to beat more money out of.

God forbid the IRS went after, say, Donald fucking Trump or Elon Musk, right?

No wonder Republicans want to eliminate the IRS and drop a 30% sales tax on everyone. They want to provide "subsidies for the poor" but of course red states will simply refuse to have that particular program for anyone, and surprise, it's as regressive as it gets.

The cruelty skips the middleman.
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