Category Archives: Politics

מתוך רבים, אחד

The title of today’s blog is the Hebrew translation of the Latin phrase “E Pluribus Unum” or in English, “Out of many, one.”  The Latin version is prominently displayed on the Great Seal of the United States and most U.S. currency.  Reference to “many” has always been viewed as a descriptor of the diverse American population.  Diverse in terms of nation of origin, race, religion, gender and ideology.  However, this past Sunday, we witnessed a different, and perhaps, more utilitarian value of this adage.

Naftali Bennett: The rise of Israel's new PM - BBC NewsBy a vote of 60-59, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) sanctioned a new governing coalition, headed by prime minister Naftali Bennett, consisting of members from eight political parties.  מתוך רבים, אחד A New York Times headline describes the alliance as “A Fragile Israeli Coalition, With Some Underlying Glue.”  Fragile because its membership spans the political spectrum ranging from Bennett, Israel’s first orthodox Jewish prime minister and leader of the ultranationalist Yamina party, to Mansour Abbas, the first Arab-Israeli citizen to serve as a deputy minister.  The glue?  A desire to deny former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu another four years in office after what coalition members viewed as a 12-year toxic environment which divided the country.

Some American analysts such as Richard Haass, author and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, express pessimism about the coalition’s future.  Haass believes the new government will have a difficult time reconciling intra-coalition differences when faced with contentious issues such as expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.  In contrast, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, has a more optimistic outlook.  Page hopes the coalition, in order hold together, will be forced to find more centrist common ground, promoting compromise over confrontation.

I was originally going to title this entry, “David Versus Goliath: The Sequel,” with Israeli as the sling-shot toting future king and America as his adversary.  But in this version, David does not slay the giant.  Instead he sees the titan as merely a bigger version of himself, struggling with many  of the same issues, primarily interested in his own security and prosperity.  David says to Goliath, “We have too many experiences in common from which we can both learn.  Like us, your current legislative majority is hanging on by a thread, one vote, 51-50 counting your vice-president.  At any time, that majority could collapse.”

The litmus test for membership in the Israeli coalition?  Ensuring Netanyahu does not return to power.  All else is negotiable.  Which raises the question, “Why hasn’t a multi-party alliance coalesced in the U.S. Congress to ensure that Trump and his message of faux populism laced with corruption are banished from the political landscape?”  This is where David (aka Israel) provides the model America could emulate.

I know, you are going to point out we are mired in a two party system.  That may true de jure, based on the labels on which most sitting members ran for election.  De facto, there are at least six parties.

  • Progressive Democrats (Warren, AOC)
  • Centrist Left Democrats (the majority of the current members of Congress)
  • Conservative Democrats (Manchin, Sinema)
  • Conservative Republicans (Cheney, Romney)
  • Insurrectionist Republicans (Hawley, Greene, Jordan, et. al.)
  • Independents (Sanders, King)

In Israel, no member of the new governing coalition is expected to change his/her party affiliation.  Their only obligation is to caucus with the majority on parliamentary votes of confidence.  Why couldn’t the same be true in Congress?  Cheney and Romney need not switch parties.  But they should consider becoming part of a “democracy caucus” for which the unifying glue is unconditional support of expanded voting rights and accepting the will of the people.  Imagine if Romney or Cheney gave the the following speech on the floor of their respective chambers of Congress.

Today, I re-affirm my commitment to conservative Republican values and allegiance to the Constitution.  However, I fear both are threatened if the current leadership of my party continues to question the outcome of the 2020 presidential elections, pursues policies which restrict the ability of Americans to vote and promotes debunked conspiracy theories.  Therefore, until such time as my party rebuffs such attacks on democracy and the rule of law, I cannot support any return to power by Republican leadership.  On matters of leadership and legislative rules, I will caucus with the Democrats.

How farfetched is this scenario?  The seed has already been planted in the form of the “problem solvers caucus,” a bi-partisan group of 56 House members who are “committed to finding common ground on many of the key issues facing the nation.”  Their current agenda includes response to the pandemic, infrastructure, health care, immigration, criminal justice reform and gun/school safety.  Ironically, voting rights is not on the list.  However, the caucus did support several House rules changes to reduce gridlock authorized by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy continue to support Trump and his Trumpettes in Congress because they believe it is their path to re-assume the leadership in 2022.  But what happens if the ten Republican representatives and seven GOP senators who voted their conscience when it came to Trump’s second impeachment told the minority leadership, “We do not give a damn if a majority of the next Congress is elected as Republicans, you have already proven you cannot be trusted with the power of majority status.  Therefore, on the first day of the 118th Congress next January we will caucus with the Democrats.”

Seventeen GOP members of Congress–Liz Cheney (WY), Tom Rice (SC), Dan Newhouse (WA), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Anthony Gonzalez (OH), Fred Upton (MI), James Beutler (WA), Peter Meijer (MI), John Katko (NY), David Valadao (CA), Richard Burr (NC), Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE) and Pat Toomey (PA)–have the power to shut down the caravans that continue to make the unholy pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago.  My bet is many of the cowards who fear Trump voters while denouncing the former guy behind closed doors, will quickly turn once they realize permanent minority status is the consequence of doing otherwise.  As members on both sides of the aisle have often declared, “Being the minority party in Congress is no fun.”

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

CherGlobyl

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana/The Life of Reason (1905)

Talk about your go-to phrase.  I have lost count how many times over the last five and a half years I have introduced a topic with this quote.  That is because it does not matter how many times individuals who should know better ignore Santanaya’s advice, when given the next opportunity to benefit from his wisdom.

On how many occasions have people in positions of power  learned a simple truth about transparency in response to a crisis?  History tells us, “the cover-up is always worse than the crime.”  As evidence, consider the following Top 10 cover-ups going back 130 years.

  • Dreyfus Affair (1894)
  • Teapot Dome (1922)
  • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-72)
  • Tobacco Industry Denial of the Health Risks of Smoking (1950)
  • Thalidomide (1957-61)
  • CIA Efforts to Assassinate Fidel Castro (1960s)
  • Watergate (1972)
  • Ford Pinto (1970s)
  • Chernobyl (1985)
  • Pedophile Priests Exposed by the Boston Globe (1992)

PhotographEach of these cover-ups would have succeeded except for one or more brave individuals pulling back the curtain on these scandals.  Or as Nixon aide and Watergate mastermind G. Gordon Liddy once said, “The big problem with conspiracies is that people can’t keep their mouths shut.”  With the exception of White House legal counsel John Dean and FBI deputy director Mark “Deep Throat” Felt, few of these “whistle blowers” are household names.  More recently, Soviet scientist Valery Legasov’s (pictured) role as someone willing to speak truth to power was highlighted in the HBO mini-series Chernobyl.

However, each of the above scandals have their own lesser-known Dean, Felt or Legasov.  Take the Tuskegee experiment as an example.  In 1965, government social worker Pete Buxton found internal U.S. Public Health Service reports which documented mistreatment of test participants and raised questions about violations of professional ethics with superiors.  After years of inaction, Buxton gave copies of the reports to the Associated Press which finally led to termination of the program in 1972.

Perhaps you are asking, “Dr. ESP, why did you choose this morning to bring this to our attention?  Wouldn’t it have been equally relevant during the first Trump impeachment and the administration’s obstruction of justice to prevent public knowledge of the Ukraine quid pro quo?”  The answer to your question appears on this week’s front pages of the Washington Post, laying out what can only be a called “a trifecta of cover-ups.”  Here are the headlines.

  • Key impeachment witness Gordon Sondland sues Mike Pompeo and U.S. for $1.8 million in legal fees (5/24/21)
  • Justice Department releases part of internal memo on not charging Trump in Russia probe (5/25/21)
  • Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible (2/25/21)

It is hard to equate Sondland with Mark Felt or Pete Buxton as his actions are based more on personal self-interest.  But the filing does include new details which would not have emerged without Sondland’s input.  Sondland alleges Pompeo told him the Department of Justice (DOJ) would cover his attorney fees if he stuck to the party line Ukraine involved no quid pro quo and he resigned as ambassador to the European Union.  According to the filing:

Ambassador Sondland confirmed he would not resign because he did not do anything improper. After that, everything changed. Ambassador Sondland did not receive his attorneys’ fees, notwithstanding the promises from the State Department that the attorneys’ fees would be paid.

As has been the case too many times during the past five years when the White House and Congress ignored their constitutional responsibilities, the “hero” in the second story is a U.S. District Judge, in this instance Amy Berman Jackson.  Jackson did not hesitate to suggest Attorney General Bill Barr acted improperly by misrepresenting the the Mueller report consistent with internal memo prepared by DOJ political appointees, one of whom was supervising the Mueller investigation.  She also found Barr went beyond the long-held constitutional position that a sitting president could not be charged with a crime when he claimed, were there no constitutional barrier, he would not have prosecuted Trump.

I do not want to downplay the first two stories, but the consequences are limited.  Sondland may or may not get reimbursed.  Trump is out of office.  And most importantly, he and several members of his administration will face their day in court without the advantage of a potential White House pardon. Yet, it is the third headline which triggered today’s blog.  Why?  Because the pandemic impacted the health of billions of people, the global economy and perhaps the geopolitical future of democracy.

At a time when the line between democracy and autocracy is more blurred than ever, citizens across the globe go to the polls and wonder, “Does it really matter?”  I believe, the answer depends whether there is a simple, defining principle which separates the two.  And if we ever needed evidence to make a case for liberal democracy, the past year and a half is Exhibit A.

There are myriad possibilities about the origins of COVID-19, and in time, the truth will come out.  But I find it hard it hard to believe the Chinese would intentionally want to start a worldwide pandemic.  Why?  Because it flies in the face of Beijing’s efforts to convince developing nations democracy is an inferior form of government, plagued by chaos, dishonesty, greed and corruption.  That argument is harder to make when a lack of transparency which contributed to three million deaths is a prerequisite for survival of the alternative.  After all, Chernobyl and the associated deaths of 4,000 to 16,000 Soviet citizens (depending on the source) was one more nail in the coffin of the USSR.

If the Chernobyl cover-up was a black eye on Soviet communism, could COVID-19 and the unwillingness of Xi Jinping’s government to provide real-time, accurate information be China’s “CherGlobyl,” a metaphorical nuclear meltdown from which it may not recover?

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

 

WD-40 & Duct Tape

 

Long time readers know I am a member of the cult of synchronicity, constantly looking for those connections between two or more seemingly unrelated events.  Sometimes the chasm between the two are decades apart.  Sometimes the venues fall within vastly different arenas.  However, in today’s example, there is little space between time or venue.  Though the subject matter differs, the temporal and geographic circumstances are the same, the current session of the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the topics which triggered this blog is tied to two cases involving a California law which requires charities to disclose their largest donors (Americans for Prosperty v. Bonta and Thomas More Law Center v. Bonta).  NOTE:  The defendant Rob Bonta is the California attorney general.  The original concern was the state’s failure to protect certain confidential information about donors, a legitimate issue which has since been resolved.

So why would two conservative entities continue to pursue the case and appeal the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit which upheld the California law.  Because there is an increasingly blurred line between charitable entities, 501(c)(3) under the tax code, and political organizations, 501(c)(4).  Take one of the plaintiffs, Americans for Prosperity, as an example.  This 501(c)(4) entity was created by the Koch brothers and has been a major player in supporting Republican candidates at all levels of government, influencing supreme court appointments and championing conservative causes. Under current federal law, it is not required to report its major donors.

During Monday’s hearing, questioning by conservative justices suggested they see the California law as a slippery slope which could violate a donor’s right to free speech and freedom of association if the California statute were applied to 501(3)(4) corporations.  Justice Clarence Thomas made this point during oral arguments.

In this era, there seems to be quite a bit of loose accusations about organizations, for example, an organization that had certain views might be accused of being a white supremacist organization or racist or homophobic, something like that, and, as a result, become quite controversial.

In his latest attempt at false equivalencies, Justice Thomas skips over the fact the last time the Court addressed this issue was its decision in NAACP v. Patterson (1958) when the state of Alabama issued a subpoena for the NAACP’s membership list.  The NAACP argued publication of such information could endanger the safety of those who supported the civil rights movement, including desegregation of public facilities, opposed by the governor, state legislature and the state supreme court.  Keep in mind the case was brought less than three years after Emmett Till was lynched in neighboring Mississippi.

NOTE:  Justice Amy Coney Barrett participated in the oral arguments on Monday despite a request by three Democratic members of Congress she recuse herself since Americans for Prosperity had spent over one million dollars on an ad campaign supporting her confirmation.  To date, she has not responded to their letter of request.

Which brings me to the second case Mahoney Area School District v. B. L., which will be argued this Wednesday.  The case centers on a then 14 year-old student who, upon being passed over for promotion to the varsity cheerleading squad, posted a series of F-bombs on Snapchat directed at her school, the softball program, cheerleading and everything in general.  The rant was posted after school hours while she was at a convenience store.

To make their case, the school district draws on the precedent established in Morse v. Frederick (2007) in which the Court ruled an Alaska high school could prohibit students from holding up a sign which read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” even thought they were off-campus because it promoted drug use in violation of the school’s anti-drug policy.  (Not to mention, appropriating the Savior’s name to encourage doobie dipping probably struck the school administration  as sacrilegious.) But again, there is a false equivalency.  The occasion on which the students displayed the banner, although off-campus, was a sanctioned school event.  Students were permitted to leave campus during school hours to view the Olympic torch relay on its way to Salt Lake City.  And therefore, the school had the right to oversee whether student behavior under that grant of permission was consistent with on-campus policy.

What do these two cases have in common?  Both beg for common sense solutions, instead of convoluted legal parsing and unsubstantiated speculative impacts.  Remember, ever court decision often provides additional fodder for the next related case.  Of course, none of this will stop me from making convoluted arguments based on legal precedence to prove my point about the need for common sense.

Tinker v. Des Moines (@TinkVsDesMoines) | TwitterLet’s start with the latter case.  The standard by which many student freedom of expression cases have been decided was established in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969) which allowed school authorities to regulate speech if it resulted in “substantial disruption.”  In the specifics of that case, the Court ruled punishment for wearing black arm bands protesting the war in Vietnam was unjustified.  No students were threatened and there was no interruption of scheduled classes.

Did the Mahoney School District really thing Brandi Levy (previously identified only as B.L as she was a minor at the time) was causing “substantial disruption” by telling the world how pissed off she was at having to spend another year on the junior varsity cheerleading squad?  Likewise, does Ms. Levi think making this into a federal case serves her well?  Any notoriety, which would have otherwise vanished from Snapchat in 24 hours, is now chronicled in every major newspaper and on-line legal search sites.

While I believe the Court should and will protect her right of expression, any potential employer also has the right to question whether they want to hire someone who reacts to disappointment in such manner.  And forgive me for thinking this story line is more appropriate for a “made for TV movie” than the nation’s highest court.

I also believe the 6-3 conservative court will decide in favor of Americans for Prosperity without making the connection with Citizens United v FEC (2010).  Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in Citizens United, assumed, with the advent of digital technology, there would be full and instant disclosure of corporate contributions to political campaigns and causes.  He now admits he was wrong on this point.  Common sense tells us, if Americans for Prosperity is spending millions of dollars in support of a candidate or cause, we have a right to know who those “Americans” are.  Is it one or two people with deep pockets claiming to represent the people? Common sense also suggests we have a right to know who underwrote the rally on January 6th sponsored by “Women for America First.”  And who do they actually represent?  NOTE:  The number of newly established 501(c)(4) “social welfare” entities doubled in the year following the Citizens United decision.

In the remake of Gran Torino (2008), Clint Eastwood plays Chief Justice John Roberts who, invoking a Walt Kowalski quote, tells plaintiffs like Americans for Progress and Brandi Levy to quit wasting the court’s time and figure it out themselves.  “Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape.  Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone.”

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

Me, The People

It was an exceptionally good week in Florida if…

…you do not believe in the First Amendment.
…you think autocracy is better than democracy.
…you believe in situational activism by state supreme court judges.
…and most importantly, if you believe in gross hypocrisy.

The week began with enactment of House Bill 1 which, as described in Thursday’s post “Vladimir DeSantis,” reclassifies certain peaceful protests as riots and increases the penalties for participation in such activities.  I know the First Amendment specifically says, “Congress shall make no law” when it comes to “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” but as you will see in a moment, the state’s action in this case is just one more example of how the Republican governor, attorney general and state legislature selectively use the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution to justify their desired outcomes.

The latest abuse of its authority by the state’s Republican power structure was on full display Thursday when, as reported by Kirby Wilson of the Miami Herald, “A high-profile effort to legalize marijuana was all but killed by the Florida Supreme Court.”  After proponents had raised more than 556,000 of the required 891,589 signatures needed to put the proposed amendment to the state constitution on the November, 2022 ballot, a public referendum seemed within reach.  It would still require 60 percent approval by voters to take effect.

Florida attorney general joins Trump Pennsylvania ballot fight - South Florida Sun-SentinelHowever, a little known provision in state law requires the state attorney general to petition the Florida Supreme Court to advise whether the measure is, among other things, “facially valid under the United States Constitution.”  And that is what Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody did on December 19, 2019, shown here warning state legislators you could still make a doobie “this big” under the proposed 2.5 ounce possession and transport limit.  Though the petition generally met pro forma requirements, i.e. text of proposed amendment, name and address of sponsors, etc., it did contain one misleading statement.  Moody reports the sponsors had not obtained the required signatures as of December 19, 2019 date of her petition; however, she failed to mention that the deadline was actually February 1, 2020.  Recognizing the court’s consideration of the AG’s petition would likely exceed that deadline, the sponsors decided to postpone the vote until the 2022 mid-term election making the deadline for signatures February 1, 2022.

On April 22, 2021, by a 5-2 vote, the justices ordered the amendment initiative be stricken from the 2022 ballot for the following reasons.  First, “the proposed amendment unqualifiedly permits the use (and distribution) of recreational marijuana is affirmatively misleading.”  Second, it violates the Supremacy Clause as marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.

It is hard to accept the term “unqualifiedly permits” when the text includes the following:

The Department (of Health) shall issue reasonable regulations necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this section.

Furthermore, the new section of the Florida Constitution would be titled “Adult Use of Marijuana” defined as some 21 years of age or older.  Does that not count as a qualification? It also limits possession, purchase or transport to 2.5 ounces, prohibits targeted advertising to persons under the age of 21, and prohibits use in public places.  For those who do not understand that these clauses represent limits to recreational use, the section of the proposed amendment which contains these qualifications is titled “(c) Restrictions.”

Only if you ignore the contradiction between “unqualifiedly permits” and the actual text of the proposed amended can anyone come to the conclusion that the proposed summary which would appear on the 2022 ballot is “misleading.”  Decide for yourself.

Permits adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason. Permits Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell, distribute, or dispense marijuana and marijuana accessories if clearly labeled and in childproof packaging to adults. Prohibits advertising or marketing targeted to persons under 21. Prohibits marijuana use in defined public places. Maintains limitations on marijuana use in defined circumstances.

As to the court’s second objection, to understand the hypocrisy of invoking the Supremacy Clause look no further than the existing conflict between Florida’s medical marijuana law and current federal statutes.  The Florida Supreme Count had no problem allowing the 2014 initiative related to medical marijuana to go forward despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Gonzalez v. Raich (2005), upheld the federal government’s authority to prohibit the use of cannibas for medical purposes consistent with the Controlled Substances Act.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Charles Alan Lawson (a 2016 Rick Scott appointee) notes “the majority’s reasoning and conclusion are logically irreconcilable with this Court’s precedent.”  He too points to the 2014 advisory opinion related to medical use of marijuana in which the majority brushed aside any potential conflict with federal law, stating:

This Court has . . . never required that a ballot summary inform voters as to the current state of federal law [or] the impact of a proposed state constitutional amendment on federal statutory law . . . .

However, this narrow example of hypocrisy by the state supreme court is nothing compared to that of the governing philosophy of Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration.  That same Ron DeSantis who has built a national following on the premise citizens have a right to decide for themselves if they should or should not wear a mask in public or should be required to show evidence of COVID vaccination.  That same Ron DeSantis who signed legislation that now allows citizens to petition the government only in such manner as prescribed by the state under threat of imprisonment or being charged with a felony.  Which of course is something that actually violates the Supremacy Clause which prohibits state and local authorities to limit rights guaranteed under federal law.

When the process of deciding public policy can be controlled by such a limited number of individuals, maybe the next proposed amendment should focus on the preamble of the Florida constitution and change the phrase, “We, the people of the State of Florida” to “Me, the people…”  If you are going to borrow language from the U.S. Constitution, perhaps you should consider governing by the same principles.

EPILOGUE

None of the above legal analysis addresses the question, “What could possibly be the motivation for such twisted logic?”  Many political consultants and pundits, myself included, have wondered why the Democratic Party has not taken a page out of the GOP campaign playbook when it comes to using the initiative process to gin up the party base.  Analysis of several federal and state elections show Republican turnout was bolstered by ballot initiatives on issues of high importance to their voters such as anti-immigration and sanctity of marriage propositions.  I have long argued Democrats could boost turnout among younger voters, who heavily support Democratic and progressive candidates, by championing two issues: legalization of marijuana and net neutrality.

Based on the 2018 mid-term election, we know how important turnout can be in congressional and gubernatorial races.  In Florida, a half percent difference would have led to a different outcome.  Certainly, increased younger voter participation in 2022 can make up that deficit in Democratic support.  Therefore, is it any surprise a Republican dominated Florida Supreme Court with backing from a Republican attorney general, Republican members of the state legislature and the conservative Florida Chamber of Commerce chose this issue as the “red line” to invoke the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution?  Especially since 16 states have done exactly what the Florida amendment would allow, and none have been taken to court by the past three presidents or reprimanded by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Can you say implicit voter suppression?  I knew you could.

I at least take comfort in the availability of medical marijuana in Florida, as I am sorely in need of a doctor’s prescribed relief for my growing angst over the erosion of democracy in the Sunshine State.

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP

 

Vladimir DeSantis

 

Irony, thy name is Florida.

DeSantis signs 'anti-riot' bill into lawOn Monday, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed H.B. 1, an act “relating to combating public disorder.”  The bill passed on strictly partisan votes by Republicans in both the House and Senate with the exception of one GOP senator who voted with Democrats opposing the measure.   It contains the following provisions which fly in the face of supposedly traditional GOP governing principles.

  • Defines riot “as an assembly of three or or more persons, acting with a common intent to assist each other in violent or disorderly conduct” (you can kiss the First Amendment goodbye).
  • Creates the second-degree felony of “aggravated rioting” if more than 25 participants cause bodily harm or $5,000 in property damage or use a deadly weapon (good thing for Oath Keepers and Proud Boys the U.S. Capitol is not in the Sunshine State).
  • Disorderly conduct includes “imminent” danger of injury or property damage (otherwise known as the “psychic full-employment clause”).
  • Limits the ability of local governments to reduce the operating budgets of municipal law enforcement agencies (so much for decentralized decision-making).
  • Prohibition of obstructing traffic by standing on a street, highway or road (of course it does not apply to obstructing traffic on waterways a la pro-Trump regattas).
  • Calls for imprisonment without bail until arraignment of anyone arrested for participating in a riot (unlike Kyle Rittenhouse who was allowed to go home after fatally shooting two people with an illegally obtained assault weapon).

These are just the highlights.  And how does DeSantis characterize these 61 pages of big government oversight?

If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.  There’s just nothing even close.

Now those are words from a man of conviction.  Except of course when it does not fit his narrative of us versus them.  During a Monday appearance on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle, Florida’s tough-talking strongman suggested jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial convicted the ex-police officer because “you basically have justice meted out because the jury is scared of what a mob might do.”  Just so I understand this correctly, three people standing on Duval Street in front of the Florida Supreme Court with a sign that says “H.B. 1 is unconstitutional” is a riot, but four police officers killing an individual at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis is not.

You want more irony? On March 2, 2021, during his state of the state address, DeSantis took umbrage against those who he claimed were promoting the “cancel culture” and “political correctness.”

Florida has always been a state that strongly supports free speech, and we cannot allow the contours of acceptable speech to be adjudicated by the whims of oligarchs in Silicon Valley.

I cannot wait for the remake of Blazing Saddles, when DeSantis is cast in the role of Governor Lepetomane (Mel Brooks in the 1974 original) and declares, “We can’t allow oligarchs in Silicon Valley to control speech.  That’s our phony-baloney job.”

What could possibly go wrong?  Look no further than this morning’s headlines.  For example,  Reuters reports, “Russia arrests over 1,700 at rallies for hunger-striking Navalny.”  Or as DeSantis and his legislative “red guard” would describe it, “Russia jails over 1,700 without bail for riots that blocked traffic.”

The day before the Navalny protest, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federalist Council in a nationally televised speech which sounded a awful lot like DeSantis’ justification for Florida’s anti-riot law.  Putin dared anyone to challenge his handling of Alexei Navalny.

Organizers of any provocations that threaten our core security interests will regret what they have done like they’ve never regretted anything for a long time.

Putin might as well have ended by saying, “You know, like my comrade-in-arms and future president of the United States Ron DeSantis.  But in Russia, we don’t need no stinking H.B. 1.”

As he leaves the podium, Putin passes Konstantin Kilimnik, hands him a manila envelope, and says, “Konstantin, I have your next assignment, should you decide to accept it (like you have a choice, haha).  As always, should you or any of your SVR team be caught or killed, I will disavow all knowledge of your actions.”  (Mission Impossible theme plays as Kilimnik reads the contents of the envelope before it self-destructs.)

For what it’s worth.
Dr. ESP