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Mississippi’s far-right secretary of state is terrified that Biden will encourage 'woke' college students to vote

All over the United States, Republicans in state legislatures have been pushing voter suppression bills that are designed to make it more difficult to vote. African-Americans are a major target of the bills, which President Joe Biden and other Democrats are comparing to segregationist Jim Crow laws of the past. And Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson, a far-right Republican, has another demographic he would like to keep away from the polls: college students.

During a March 26 interview with Mississippi's WLOX-TV, Watson railed against Biden's March 6 executive order on voting access as well the For the People Act — a Democrat-sponsored voting rights bill that was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but now faces an uphill climb in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats have a narrow majority. Republicans have often expressed worries about Millennials voting Democrat, and Watson is obviously worried about members of Generation Z rejecting Republicans if more of them are registered to vote.

Watson told WLOX, "So think about all those woke college and university students now who will automatically be registered to vote whether they wanted to or not. Again, if they didn't know to opt-out, they're going to be automatically registered to vote — and then, they receive this mail-in ballot that they probably didn't know was coming because they didn't know they were registered to vote."

Biden's executive order of March 6, however, says nothing about automatic voter registration, and it does not mention college students. But that didn't stop Watson from turning college students into the boogeyman, especially if they are what he considers "woke."

In right-wing media, the term "woke" is often used as an epithet to mean extreme political correctness and "cancel culture." Some liberals have, at times, been critical of "woke" culture as well, including "Real Time" host Bill Maher — who has said that he makes a distinction between "woke" and liberal. But when Maher uses the term "woke" in a critical way, he has very different motivations from someone on the far right such as Watson.

Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, a Democrat served as secretary of the U.S. Navy under President Barack Obama, has been highly critical of Watson's comments — tweeting, "His talking points are from (the) 1950s. Slightly updated. Literacy tests anyone?"


Watson's stand against college students voting is a departure from what he said in the past. When he was running for secretary of state in 2019, Watson said he wanted to make it "easier" for college students to vote and was open to having on-campus polling places.

Here’s why the ‘tortured logic’ of Sidney Powell’s defamation lawsuit defense is so weak: conservative law professor

On March 22, lawyers representing far-right attorney Sidney Powell asked a federal judge to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against her. Conservative law professor Kimberly Wehle, in an article published by The Bulwark on March 25, lays out some of the major flaws in Powell's defense.

After the 2020 presidential election, Powell was among the attorneys who filed lawsuits promoting then-President Donald Trump's bogus, totally debunked claims of widespread voter fraud — and she had a lot to say about Dominion, claiming that its voting technology was used to help now-President Joe Biden steal the election just as it was used to help the late leftist President Hugo Chávez steal votes in Venezuela. It wasn't hard for Dominion to debunk Powell's claim, as Dominion's equipment had never even been used in that South American country.

Now, Powell's defense in the defamation lawsuit is that her claims after the 2020 election couldn't possibly have been taken seriously.

"Powell seeks to have it both ways," explains Wehle, who teaches at the University of Baltimore law school and is a former assistant U.S. attorney. "Through her lawyers, she claims, on one hand, that she based her allegations on facts. On the other, she asserts that no reasonable person would believe that her claims were facts. Powell's word salad of tortured logic and self-contradiction will fool no one."

Wehle goes on to point out that some media figures — including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Fox News' Tucker Carlson — have "rebutted defamation charges by arguing that not everything they say on air can be construed as verifiably true."

"Powell's case is a bit different," Wehle observes. "She did not speak as a news anchor or pundit, but as a lawyer who was acting in the capacity of a lawyer — and thus, bound by a slew of ethical obligations of candor and accuracy that accompany a license to practice law. For starters, she cannot make insupportable factual representations to a court without running afoul of sanctions rules."

Wehle points out that in a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff must "prove that the defendant acted with actual malice."

The law professor observes, "In her papers, Powell argues that her feeding of the Big Lie wasn't actually defamatory, and that the complaint should therefore be dismissed outright, without any investigation into the facts underlying her statements…. Powell also waves around the 1st Amendment to justify dismissal of Dominion's case, but that argument may be overblown, as defamation claims aren't per se unconstitutional. The question is whether Powell's statements were actionable as a matter of law."

Powell's attorneys, in her defense against Dominion, argue that "reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process." And Powell's team compares her to both the U.S. Department of Justice and the NAACP, arguing that "making public announcements as to the status of cases that affect the public interest is an accepted and time-honored means of keeping the public advised about litigation that may have a profound effect on their lives."

"Of course," Wehle writes, "Powell's false assertions that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections at the behest of a deceased dictator, Hugo Chávez, and that the company bribed Georgia officials for a no-bid contract, were hardly in the public interest. To compare her to DOJ and the NAACP makes a mockery of the rule of law and the judicial system."

Veterans rip Trump as a ‘traitor’ for his mask photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital

I'm sure he was upset that the media broadcast Joe Biden's speech on climate and energy on Tuesday morning so the White House scheduled a Rose Garden "press conference," which was actually an excuse for him to deliver one of his sprawling campaign speeches. It turns out that as much as Trump may love the look of a rally venue filled with screaming fans, what he really loves is the sound of his own voice.

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Trump stuns observers as his press conference goes off the deep end: ‘Self-destruction of the president’

I'm sure he was upset that the media broadcast Joe Biden's speech on climate and energy on Tuesday morning so the White House scheduled a Rose Garden "press conference," which was actually an excuse for him to deliver one of his sprawling campaign speeches. It turns out that as much as Trump may love the look of a rally venue filled with screaming fans, what he really loves is the sound of his own voice.

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