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The strange story behind the Democrats' failure to flip Florida

November 11, 2020 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld

One day after Florida election officials announced that President Trump and Republican candidates had so badly beaten Democrats up and down the ballot that pundits were asking if Florida had become an irreversible red state, Joe Biden’s Florida campaign held a statewide conference call.

“There was a Florida campaign call today that said Florida allowed us [Biden] to win the Midwest,” said Ion Sancho, a retired longtime Florida Democratic county official, who cringed at the explanation. “It felt like a setup.”

“Biden didn’t go all-in—in South Florida,” said Sancho, who ran elections in the state’s capital county for nearly three decades. “It was a feint to draw Trump’s eyes off of the real prize, which was the three rust-belt states. He never planned to do it [win Florida] from day one. The Midwest was the prize all along.”

Biden’s feint was helped by ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in mid-September announced that he would spend $100 million for late-breaking media and voter-contact efforts in Florida. The feint led Trump, whose campaign was cash-poor, to concentrate its spending and rallies in Pennsylvania and Florida, especially in South Florida’s metro areas where a vast electorate including diverse Latino voting blocs lived.

“The way I look at this [result] is that the effort here in Florida caused the Trump campaign to spend time, money and resources that could have made a difference in states closely won by Biden,” said Larry S. Davis, a Hollywood, Florida, attorney who this summer helped litigate a Florida Democratic Party lawsuit to preserve digital voting records, in case the state’s 2020 results were contested.

“This was a battle we lost, but it helped win the war—a war this country could not afford to lose,” Davis said.

Nobody likes to hear their hard work campaigning was not a priority. But Sancho’s observations underscore what Democrats must do to win in big and complex states like Florida. His experience also contrasts with neighboring Georgia, where he has seen Democrats and voting rights activists steadily organize for years, and where Biden narrowly beat Trump (in a vote that will be recounted) and where two U.S. Senate runoffs will decide control of that body and much of Biden’s agenda.

“In Georgia, the community of color groups have been active,” said Andrea Miller, executive director of the nonprofit Center for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's why Ron DeSantis' new stand-your-ground proposal is so disturbing

November 11, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Like many other states in the U.S., Florida experienced civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. And this month, the Miami Herald reports, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing for an expansion of the state’s stand-your-ground law as part of “anti-mob” legislation.

But critics of the proposal are expressing concerns that it could lead to acts of vigilante justice.

Denise Georges, a former prosecutor for Miami-Dade County, told the Herald: “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

The debate over what constitutes vigilante justice and what constitutes self-defense is not a new one in Florida. Sanford, Florida is where, on February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot during an altercation with Sanford resident George Zimmerman — and Martin’s death was followed by many heated debates over whether Zimmerman acted in self-defense or conducted himself like a vigilante. In July 2013, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of manslaughter and second-degree murder charges.

Eight years after Martin’s death, Floridians are debating DeSantis’ proposed expansion of Florida’s stand-your-ground law.

Miami Herald reporters Ana Ceballos and David Ovalle explain: “The draft legislation put specifics behind DeSantis’ pledge, in September, to crack down on ‘violent and disorderly assemblies’ after he pointed to ‘reports of unrest’ in other parts of the country after the high-profile death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a White Minneapolis police officer. The proposal would expand the list of ‘forcible felonies’ under Florida’s self-defense law to justify the use of force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the ‘interruption or impairment’ of a business, and looting — which the draft defines as a burglary within 500 feet of a ‘violent or disorderly assembly.’”

According to Ceballos and Ovalle, “Other key elements of DeSantis’ proposal would enhance criminal penalties for people involved in ‘violent or disorderly assemblies,’ make it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest, offer immunity to drivers who claim to have unintentionally killed or injured protesters who block traffic, and withhold state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.”

The far-right DeSantis has been a major ally of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'We're in for rough seas': Why this legal scholar really fears Trump's attempt to keep power no matter what

November 11, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

How concerned should we be about President Donald Trump’s efforts to contest the projected results of the 2020 election and refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden?

Much of the commentariat is unwilling to take Trump’s attempts to remain in power very seriously at all. They paint it largely as an emotional reaction by the president, and they depict the Republicans and aides who are supporting his push as people who are coddling an erratic man while actually knowing better. While most observers acknowledge the danger of casting doubt of the electoral process and inflaming resentment and distrust of government among Americans, they refuse to entertain the possibility that Trump’s efforts to stay in office could succeed.

But Eric Segall, a professor of law at Georgia State University, told me the media is dismissing the gambit far too quickly. Trump remains a genuine threat to the constitutional order, and though Biden is expected to win around 306 Electoral College votes, the election results aren’t finalized yet. The president has shown great control over the Republican Party, and Segall argued that he still has an outside shot of retaining the powers of his office.

“He has been underestimated from the beginning,” Segall told me. “They’re underestimating him again.”

The big problem with Trump, he argued, is he has no background in politics, no respect for the rule of law, and no adherence to constitutional norms.

“Your first job in government shouldn’t be the president of the United States,” Segall said.

But now that he has the office, he’s inclined to do whatever he can to keep it.

“I think he learned from Roy Cohn that you never concede, anytime, anywhere,” Segall continued. “Never concede, never give up, always declare victory, never accept loss. So just as a psychological, personal matter, we know Donald Trump won’t go away quietly.”

So how could Trump actually win, despite the counts showing Biden ahead in several enough swing states by a healthy margin? While the election lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign and other Republicans have gotten a lot of attention — even as most have been quickly dismissed by the judges who look at them — Segall said they don’t really have anything to do with the law. The point is to create a cloud of illegitimacy around the election results.

Trump’s “long game,” Segall said, relies on Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona.

“Those states all have Republican legislatures,” …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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We're witnessing the birth of a dangerous new strain in the right-wing movement

November 11, 2020 in Blogs

By Joshua Holland

Donald Trump has a lottery ticket’s chance of overturning Joe Biden’s decisive victory in the 2020 election. There’s no evidence of fraud that would hold up in a court of law. Biden’s margins are beyond what might be reversed in recounts. And while the Constitution gives states the power to determine how their electors are selected, all states have laws on their books awarding them to the popular vote winner (aside from a few congressional districts in Nebraska and Maine).

Given that Trump is using these bogus claims of a stolen election to shake down his followers in order to pay off campaign debt and fund his new PAC, some have questioned how dangerous his refusal to accept the results really is. Perhaps he’s working toward acceptance, or keeping his base engaged for two upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia that will determine control of the chamber next year. According to reports, many elected Republicans who back his silly claims are only doing so to humor him, and to avoid the wrath of his cult-like supporters, and privately acknowledged that the election is over. “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?” one senior Republican official told The Washington Post. “No one seriously thinks the results will change.”

But this is ultimately a distinction without a difference. The GOP is delegitimizing the Biden presidency so they can launch a new, meaner and more conspiratorial Tea Party movement. Republican operatives, including some veterans of the first Tea Party groups, are behind the “stop the steal” protests now underway across the country. A new poll conducted by YouGov for The Economist found that 86 percent of Trump voters believe that Biden did not win the election fairly, and a plurality of all voters said they thought there was enough voter fraud to swing the results of the race.

Meanwhile, Trump has decapitated the senior civilian leadership of the Pentagon and much of the intelligence community and replaced them with Trump loyalists, many of whom are conspiratorial nutjobs. We don’t know towards what end, but it is a brazenly authoritarian move that’s inconsistent with the idea that he’s just trying to keep donors’ dollars flowing.

By following Trump’s lead, Republicans are guaranteeing that Joe Biden will be dogged by a new sort of Birther movement. Whether intentionally or not, they …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Brilliant supercut of Fox News hosts shows how they completely flipped on election challenges since 2016

November 11, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

After President Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, opinion hosts at Fox News angrily demanded that Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton and Democrats concede at once. But four years later, the same Fox hosts are making no such demands of President Donald Trump, who might end up losing to President-elect Joe Biden by more than 300 electoral votes after all the counting is finished.

And a supercut video by the Washington Post shows how badly Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and other Fox News hosts have flip-flopped from what they were saying about election results four years ago.

The video opens with Fox News’ Steve Doocy, who co-hosts the morning show “Fox and Friends,” saying, in 2016, “There is absolutely no way to rig a national election” — compared to November 9, when Doocy wondered if voter fraud was widespread enough to “overturn an entire election.”

Hannity, on November 28, 2016, is seeing slamming Democrats for trying to “undermine a democratic election and, of course, Donald Trump’s decisive victory” — only to slam Democrats, on November 9, for trying to avoid probes of “ballot irregularities and outright illegality.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, in the video, is seen on November 28, 2016 scoffing at the idea of Russian inference in that year’s presidential election. But on November 9, Carlson is seen saying, “We don’t know how many votes were stolen on Tuesday night. We don’t know anything about the software that many are saying was rigged.”

Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends” is seen in the video saying, in November 2016, “If there’s ever an election that doesn’t need a recount, it’s this one.” But the video then cuts to Kilmeade, on November 10, complaining that he fears Trump will be deprived of recounts that he is entitled to.

On November 29, 2016, Ingraham in seen in the video scoffing at the idea that “Donald Trump is not the duly elected president of the United States.” But she has a totally different tone on November 6, saying, “I love these legal challenges because we have to get to the bottom of all this.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Black Heroes Throughout US Military History

November 11, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

Meet the standout soldiers, spies and homefront forces who fought for America, from the Revolution to World War II.


American Revolution

Peter Salem shooting British Royal Marine officer Major Pitcairn at Bunker Hill.

During

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World War II


Photos of Colonel Charles McGee, a pilot for the famed Tuskegee Airman.

As the first Black aviators to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen broke through a massive segregation barrier in the American military. Their success and heroism during World War II, fighting Germans in the skies over Europe, shattered pervasive stereotypes that African Americans had neither the character nor the aptitude for combat. And their achievements laid crucial groundwork for civil rights progress in the decades to come…

To learn more, read: 6 Renowned Tuskegee Airmen

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WATCH: Tuskegee Airmen on HISTORY Vault.

World War II Women


Female worker operating a hand drill on a Vultee ‘Vengeance’ A-31 Dive Bomber, in Nashville, Tennessee, 1943.

Rosie the Riveter—the steely-eyed World War II heroine with her red bandanna, blue coveralls and flexed bicep—stands as one of America’s most indelible military images. The image has come to represent the steadfast American working woman the millions of female laborers who kept the factories and offices of the U.S. defense industries humming. But what the iconic “Rosie” image doesn’t convey is the diversity of that work force—specifically the more than half-million “Black Rosies” who worked alongside their white counterparts in the war effort.

Coming from throughout the United States, often as part of the Great Migration, “Black Rosies” worked tirelessly to fight both the foreign enemy of authoritarianism abroad and the familiar enemy of racism at home. Leaving behind dead-end, often demeaning work as domestics and sharecroppers, Black Rosies took on new roles in the economy, in service of the war effort. They worked in factories as …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Activism That Led to the First Black Marines

November 11, 2020 in History

By Colette Coleman

A. Philip Randolph proved instrumental in urging FDR to open up the Marines—and other military branches—to African American recruits.

It was just a month since the Japanese had , Judson Jeffries describes Executive Order 8802 as “altering, in a meaningful way, the racial demographic of the U.S. military.”

The Marines established a new training facility for Black recruits at Montford Point Base, North Carolina, which was separate from—and inferior to—that of their white counterparts in Camp Lejeune some miles away. While Executive Order 8802 mandated that the Marines couldn’t discriminate against Black recruits, it didn’t end segregation.

In a 2006 interview, one of the groundbreaking new recruits, LaSalle Vaughn, described his shock at the segregation of and subpar conditions for Black trainees when he arrived at Montford Point. “I walked inside that gate, and all I could see was nothing but Black people,” he says. “Nothing but Black, nothing but tents. No mess hall, no theater, and all those things, that was supposed to be there.”

READ MORE: Black Americans Who Served in WWII Faced Segregation Abroad and at Home

From 1942-49 about 20,000 African Americans began their careers as Marines at Montford Point. By the end of the decade, President Harry S. Truman had signed Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the military, and Montford Point closed. Once again, it was Randolph who proved instrumental in pressuring the executive branch to get this edict, which intersected labor and civil rights, signed.

“Mr. President, the Negroes are in the mood not to bear arms for the country unless Jim Crow in the Armed Forces is abolished,” Randolph told Harry Truman, according to a 1968 oral history housed by the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.

Truman, sympathetic to the cause, and aware of Randolph’s already storied reputation, asked in reply, “Well, what do you want done?”

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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6 Black Heroes of the Civil War

November 11, 2020 in History

By Iván Román

Whether as soldiers, spies, recruiters or medical personnel, African Americans made crucial contributions to the Union cause.

As America’s Civil War raged, with the enslavement of millions of people hanging in the balance, African Americans didn’t just sit on the sidelines. Whether enslaved, escaped or born free, many sought to actively affect the outcome.

From fighting on bloody battlefields to espionage behind enemy lines; from daring escapes to political maneuvering; from saving wounded soldiers to teaching them how to read, these six African Americans fought courageously to abolish slavery and discrimination. In their own way, each changed the course of American history.

Harriet Tubman: Spy and Military Leader

Harriet Tubman: Soldier/Spy (TV-PG; 2:23)

Harriet Tubman, best known for her courage and acumen as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, led hundreds of enslaved men, women and children north to freedom through its carefully prescribed routes and network of safe houses. But once the Civil War started in 1861, Tubman used her skills as a spy and expedition leader for the Union Army.

In 1862, she traveled to a Union camp in South Carolina, to help formerly enslaved people who had taken refuge with Union troops, and to work as a cook and a nurse. But despite being unable to read herself, Tubman gathered intelligence for the Union army, organizing scouts to map territories and waterways and pinpoint the location of Confederate troops and ordnance.

In 1863, she became the first and only woman to lead a military expedition during the Civil War, to resounding success. Tubman led 150 soldiers on three federal gunboats up South Carolina’s Combahee River for a surprise attack on the plantations of prominent secessionists, using intelligence she gathered from enslaved people to bypass hidden confederate torpedoes. Along the route, they stopped at several spots to rescue more than 700 enslaved people. Between enabling such a massive escape and burning and pillaging plantations, Tubman’s expedition dealt a major military and psychological blow to the confederacy. About 100 of the Black men rescued that day joined the Union Army.

Tubman went on other expeditions and kept gathering intelligence. One Union general was reportedly reluctant to let Tubman leave South Carolina because her services are too valuable to lose” as she was “able to get more intelligence than anybody else” from the newly free people.

READ MORE: After the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman Led a Brazen …read more

Source: HISTORY