Thursday, March 16, 2023

Trump v DeSantis: both are evil & dangerous, but so far Trump seems to be prevailing


In my previous two posts I went to great lengths to (over)state what should be, but unfortunately is not, obvious to everyone: Florida governor Ron DeSantis, aka Der Führer of Floriduh, is a danger to democracy, as demonstrated over and over again by the rhetoric, policies, and actions of DeSantis and his fellow fascists in the legislature of the "Free State of Florida."

It would be a mistake at this point to dismiss the dangers posed by DeSantis and his allies, especially as he seems to be lurching headlong towards a run for the US presidency in 2024. But it would also be an egregious error to dismiss the current rethuglican front-runner: #NeverWasMyPresident
Donald John Trump. On the first of the two blog posts linked to in the paragraph above, I wrote that in many ways DeSantis is worse than Trump. I stand by that opinion, but it in no way negates or neutralizes the profound awfulness of Trump, and the threats that he poses.

The rivalry between Trump and DeSantis has been a steady theme in the news cycle for months, and in many ways it's very amusing. It's particularly amusing because most of the attacks are coming from Trump -- everything from his continuing efforts to find new childish nicknames with which to taunt "Meatball Ron," to a pro-Trump super PAC pot calling a DeSantis kettle black by accusing DeSantis of ethics violations.

So far, Meatball Ron has been very measured and circumspect in his responses to Trump's attacks, when he has responded at all. There's been a lot of speculation as to why, the most obvious probability being that he doesn't want to risk alienating that all-important MAGA cult. On the other hand,
some rethuglicans have said that DeSantis' lack of response is simply because there is no reason for him to engage now, and that besides, there's no evidence that the attacks from Trump are hurting him so far. Then again, DeSantis hasn't officially announced his candidacy, and once he does, it's entirely possible that Trump will destroy him on the national stage, as he has done to all of his previous rethuglican rivals.

In any case, it appears that more than one prominent rethuglican is in a bubble of denial regarding Trump's chances in 2024. Axios (March 14, 2023)
offers some blatant examples of rethuglican leaders' statements that more than likely will not age well. They're seriously underestimating the power of the Trumpcult and of Trump's ability to keep the cult members in thrall.

Trump has absolutely no intention of giving up his position as cult leader, as recently indicated in
his infamous "I am your retribution" rant at this year's CPAC. He has firmly stated that even if the great "political witch hunt" results in his being indicted, he will continue to run for prez. Nothing's gonna stop him!

Unfortunately he has a point:
with his campaign centering on his "victimhood" and his vows of vengeance, Trump's poll numbers seem to climb with each new development in the ongoing saga of investigations of him and legal actions against him. And the monetary contributions just keep coming in; he has yet to meet a potential personal/legal crisis that he hasn't been able to monetize. Who says crime (and civil offenses) don't pay? For Trump, they've paid off handsomely so far.

And while I don't believe for a moment that I have been overstating the potential danger of a DeSantis presidency, given all of the damage done in Florida so far by DeSantis and the Tallahassee Taliban, there's also a good argument in favor of the opinion that Ron DeSantis is overrated as a rival to Trump. Again, the crucial factor is the strength of the MAGA cult and the determination of their leader. Ana Marie Cox,
writing for the New Republic (March 13, 2023), summed it up quite succinctly.

Sure, the thinking goes, Trump’s presidency set the stage for a Republican nomination contest that looks to hinge on banning drag brunches and books, but Trump has been stuck in the wings squeezing out Truth Social posts for the past three years, while DeSantis’s stunts took Fox News’s center stage. Look at Ron go! He’s Trump “without the baggage.” He’s Trump “with a less crass delivery.” He’s “someone who gets them [Republicans] out of having to defend Trump.” He’s “Trump with brains” or, more modestly, “Trump with a brain.”

It’s a great argument if you think that today’s Republican voter—which is to say, a Trump voter—thinks that there’s anything wrong with Trump just how he is. You think they want a day off from defending Trump? Defending Trump is the entire GOP brand. Republicans sort both one another and their news (“news”) sources through a prism of Trumpiness. And as for DeSantis being the “smart Trump,” well, I’m not sure there’s anyone in the GOP base who actually asked for such a thing.

And then there's the aforementioned point that Trump has a history of annihilating his political rivals with the sheer force of his bullying "personality." A March 15, 2023 piece from the Daily Kos community (by a frequent contributor who goes by the name Dartagnan), bears the charmingly rhyming headline, "The Ron DeSantis wind-up doll is about to walk into a right-wing wall." It all has to do not only with DeSantis' own lack of charisma, but, more importantly, with -- you guessed it -- the nature of the Trumpcult base and their expectations.

As observed this week by The New York Times’ Reid J. Epstein and Maggie Haberman, the Republican political landscape is littered with the bodies of formerly viable candidates who have fallen victim to the Wrath of Trump. No longer do we hear the plaintive speeches of Jeb Bush promising a softer, genteel facade for conservatism’s lethal aims; no longer are we troubled by the wonky, opportunistic aspirations of Marco Rubio, the original “Tea Party” senator; nor are we beset by the strange and improbable presidential fantasies of Texas’ Ted Cruz. All of these putative “contenders” to the GOP throne in 2016 have slunk off into their little sinecures, each one resigned to the fact that their dreams of power will remain forever dashed as long as their orange-hued nemesis continues to walk the earth.

This has nothing to do with their personal platforms or pet policies. They all offered Americans only slightly varied shades of the same tasteless right-wing pablum. But they quickly found that their policies didn’t matter to a Republican base far more eager for entertainment and the stimulating prospect of bread and circuses than actual governance. And in terms of entertainment, Donald Trump’s performances were untouchable. Trump dispatched these so-called establishment Republicans with almost no effort, singeing their hides and forcing them into that shadow realm where failed Republican presidential hopefuls pine away the rest of their days, dreaming of what might have been...

 ...The essential, insoluble problem for DeSantis is that Trump can continue to deliver body blows to DeSantis ad infinitum, but DeSantis cannot respond in kind without alienating the Trump supporters he needs to win. He is never going to outbid Trump on policy issues because Trump will always claim that they were his idea to begin with. 

So even though both Trump and DeSantis are dangerous, in many ways they are not evenly matched. And in a way that's a pity. If only the Trump-DeSantis rivalry could somehow result in the two of them completely eliminating each other from public life, the country would be much better off. Of course I am not in any way suggesting any type of physical violence. Even so, that old limerick about the two cats of Kilkenny keeps coming to mind...

There were once two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought that was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit,
They scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

A girl can dream, anyway.

Friday, March 03, 2023

In Ron DeSantis' Flori-duh, freedom's just another word for fascism


This post has been updated with additional content as well as editing of original content for the purpose of flow.
~ CC

As Florida governor Ron DeSantis jackboots his way around the nation to promote his new manifesto (titled, apparently without irony, The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival), it is becoming increasingly clear that DeSantis is confusing freedom with another "f" word, fascism. (Particularly, it seems, where the news media are concerned.)

In my previous post I discussed at great length some of the many reasons that DeSantis is bad for Florida and would, if elected president, be truly awful for the US of A. But the fascist stench from the Sunshine State is not just coming from the governor's mansion.

A not insignificant portion of it is emanating from Mar-a-Lardo, of course, as The Great Fatsby continues to hold court at his favorite gaudy golf motel. Whether he's presiding over dinners or lavish bashes (dee-jaying old show tunes and Celine Dion songs in between posing with a seemingly endless string of siliconed, Botoxed, and egregiously overly-eyelashed courtiers); or holding court with the members of various state rethuglican parties in hopes of increasing his chances in 2024; or participating in the recording of a cringe-worthy "song" to benefit the "political prisoners" who attempted on January 6, 2021 to violently overthrow the U.S. government; or in various ways simply continuing his long tradition of grifting, Donald Trump just won't go away. And he appears to be giving DeSantis a run for his money in the 2024 presidential campaign.

But even that's not the extent of it. For the foul odor of fascism is all over Florida, being disseminated in large part by the state's rethuglican party, via some truly appalling bills that, if not directly supported by DeSantis (a point that isn't completely clear as of this writing) are at the very least in alliance with his dystopian vision for Florida and America.

To begin with, there is
the proposed bill that would effectively abolish the Democratic Party in Florida. It's a long shot but, if passed, it would compel more than four million voters to register with a different party or be unaffiliated. From the Forbes link in the first sentence of this paragraph:

State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia (R) filed the “Ultimate Cancel Act” (SB 1248), a bill aimed at the Democratic Party that directs the state’s Division of Elections to “immediately cancel” the filings and status of any political party that has “has previously advocated for, or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude.”

The Democratic Party did have a pro-slavery platform in the 19th century around the time of the Civil War, though it then went on to support civil rights and most Black voters in the U.S. now identify as Democrats...

...While DeSantis has
described the state’s Democratic Party as a “dead, rotten carcass,” he has not yet endorsed Ingoglia’s bill, and the lawmaker told WFSU the governor “did not know anything” about the bill’s drafting and he “[doesn’t] know if [DeSantis] knows that the bill has actually been filed.”

But I'm willing to bet that DeSantis is very well aware of the legislation, and is perhaps not so secretly smirking about it. In case you're wondering about the "reasoning" behind this fascist measure, there's a clue in its working title, "The Ultimate Cancel Act." It's pure revenge, on behalf of whiny right-wing snowflakes everywhere, for the greatly exaggerated phenomenon of "cancel culture." From Forbes again:

“For years now, leftist activists have been trying to ‘cancel’ people and companies for things they have said or done in the past,” Ingoglia said Tuesday. “Using this standard, it would be hypocritical not to cancel the Democratic Party itself for the same reason.”

What it boils down to is that according to Ingoglia and the proto-fascist mob, when they engage in public protests against an individual, a product, or a company, they are simply exercising their God-given and Constitutionally-granted freedom of speech, and if they choose to stage a boycott, it's for a righteous cause. When "the left" attempts to so the same, on the other hand, it's an example of "cancel culture," and it constitutes a crime against truth, justice, and The American Way. In any case Ingoglia, and the proposed bill he so proudly flaunts, deliberately gloss over a core fact of American history that everyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the subject knows, and that is explained in just about every report I've read about this matter, including on the Truthout site.

Early in its history, the Democratic Party fought to preserve the institution of slavery and to uphold other vehicles of white supremacy, including Jim Crow laws in the South after the Civil War. Partway through the 20th century, however, the platforms and voting blocs of the two major political parties underwent a dramatic shift; in the years since, Republicans have actively campaigned to disenfranchise Black voters and to suppress any acknowledgment of the ongoing effects of slavery and racism in the U.S.

Indeed, Republicans in Florida, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), recently passed laws to restrict educators from teaching factual accounts of Black history in the U.S. — a move that many scholars and activists
say is proto-fascist.

Should Ingoglia's indecent proposal not be sufficient to satisfy a fascist's appetite, there is also a proposed bill, SB 1316 filed by Senator Jason Brodeur of Sanford, Florida that would force paid bloggers who write about the Florida governor or other top elected officials to register with the state. Yes, you read that correctly: register with the state.

Specifically, bloggers would be required to register either with the Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics within five days after posting a story mentioning the governor, another member of the Florida Cabinet, or a state legislator. They would also be required to file monthly reports every time another state elected official is mentioned, or face a $25.00 per day fine (up to $2,500.00) for failing to report their activities and compensation. Included in the legislation is language conflating paid bloggers with lobbyists, who are already required to register.

The bill excludes bloggers who write for the website of a newspaper or other similar publication, but contains no exemption for online-only outlets or TV stations and networks. And indie bloggers would apparently be completely at the mercy of this legislation.

So I guess it's a good thing that I'm in Texas, and that, apart from the exceedingly rare but very much appreciated donation, I am not compensated for anything I write on this blog. (Contrary to the long-time claims of certain Scamworld hucksters and fascists in their own right, such as Not-Doctor Leonard Coldwell, the Little Hitler of Scamworld, who for years falsely insisted that I was being paid millions by Big Pharma to defame him and other "natural healers," and who, incidentally, currently lives in Florida himself (Ocala) and has abandoned Donald Trump in favor of Ron DeSantis as the Savior of the American Way. Coldwell, as you may recall if you've been following this blog for a while, unsuccessfully sued me, my fellow blogger Jason "Salty Droid" Jones, and a few other parties back in 2015. The legal drama ended when his own incompetent lawyers, who apparently realized, belatedly, that they should never have taken the case, threw him under a bus.)

As with the proposal to do away with the Democratic Party in Florida, it's not clear at this point if DeSantis supports the anti-blogger legislation, but it certainly seems DeSantis-friendly.
[Note: see update below.] For sure, it's democracy-unfriendly. From the Orlando Sentinel, March 3, 2023:

Bobby Block, executive director of the Florida First Amendment Foundation, said the measure goes beyond anything he’s seen in the United States.

“From my own experience, the only places where journalists would ever have to register with the government have been apartheid South Africa, the countries behind the Iron Curtain, the USSR, Zaire, Burkina Faso, and socialist Ethiopia,” Block said. “... I don’t think Florida being in that company of those countries is a good thing.”

The Orlando Sentinel article also notes that this bill is the second one from Brodeur this week that targets the media.

The bill is the second from Brodeur this week that would put extra restrictions on the media.

His other one, SB 1220, proposes sweeping changes to Florida’s libel and defamation law, making it easier to sue journalists by automatically presuming information from anonymous sources to be false and preventing journalists from shielding the identity of sources.

That's right in sync with DeSantis' agenda for the news media.

UPDATE: A few days after this post was initially published, Business Insider reported that DeSantis had weighed in on the blogger bill. At a press conference held on Tuesday, March 6, he claimed that the bill is "not anything that I have ever supported," and that he doesn't "control every single bill that has been filed..."

Finally, there are the Florida rethuglicans' legislative assaults on the transgender community, particularly transgender youth, their families, and medical professionals who provide care for them. Two bills, HB 1421 (filed by House Health & Human Services Chairman Randy Fine, R-Brevard County and Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto), and SB 254 (filed by Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville), would make it illegal for doctors to provide treatments such as puberty blockers and hormone therapy to transgender minors. These bills are, at best, a solution in search of a problem; after all, in February, both the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine had moved forward with rules that would prevent doctors from providing these treatments to minors. The proposed legislation, however, would take things further by placing such prohibitions in state law, with dire punishments for violations.

From the WUSF Public Media/WUSF 89.7 web site:

...The House version would require that doctors lose their licenses if they commit violations, while the Senate bill could lead to criminal charges for a person who "willfully or actively participates in a violation."

The House bill also would make changes including preventing health insurers and HMOs from providing coverage for treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery and would largely block people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates. Both bills would bar state agencies and local governments from spending money on such treatments...

...the LGBTQ-advocacy group Equality Florida issued a news release about the House bill that said it would "strip families of their medical freedom, put government in control of insurance coverage decisions, and codify a ban on transgender people being legally recognized as themselves."

Representative Randy Fine, whose committee held a panel discussion in February that Equality Florida described as a "sham panel," actually compared gender-affirming care to the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi butcher who conducted horrendous medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz. Even worse, Fine used his own Jewish creds to justify this outrageous comparison. (He got a lot of blowback for this.)

The two bills cited above are just the latest in
a series of actions by Florida lawmakers and Governor DeSantis' administration that target transgender people, and the LGBTQ+ community at large. Again, that's right in keeping with the state's general march towards fascism.

I could go on and on about Florida rethuglican lawmakers' assaults on freedom and civil rights. But I think you get the drift. In case you want a slightly more comprehensive recap of horrible bill proposals in Florida, though, here's a handy list, written by Thomas Kennedy and shared by Jordan Zakarin on the Progress Report site.

From a larger world perspective, the Florida rethuglicans appear to be in good company, and by "good," of course, I mean atrocious.
An opinion piece on the Mother Jones site (March 4, 2023) suggests that Senator Jason Brodeur's blogger registration bill, and several other pieces of legislation by Florida rethuglicans, were inspired by Hungary's authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has become a darling of the American far right. The question of whether Orbán was the inspiration or the legislators dreamed up these dystopian measures on their own is on a par with the question of whether Donald Trump is lying or delusional: in both cases, either possibility is equally awful.

* * * * *

Given the Sunshine State's current political climate, it's no wonder that Florida has become a magnet for far-right groups and individuals, including the notorious former dictator president of Brazil (and election denier/riot inspirer, and, of course, Trump buddy), Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro did tell the Wall Street Journal last month that he plans to return to Brazil some time this month to "lead the opposition" and, presumably face whatever charges are pending against him. Meanwhile, he has become yet another darling of the American Reich in general (even being featured, along with Trump, at the 2023 CPAC clown show), but he seems to have a particular affinity with Florida, and vice versa -- and I suspect it's not merely because of the relatively high population of Brazilian expats in the state. I think a big factor is that increasingly, Florida seems to be a haven for despots and wannabe despots.

In case anyone is tempted to say that I, being in deep red Texas, have no room to rag on Florida, rest assured that I've ragged on Texas plenty as well. I am painfully aware that I live in a state that is aggressively trying to turn itself into a Christo-fascist dystopia.

I wrote about this in September 2021, as 666 (an apt number) new laws, mostly the creations of Texas rethuglicans, took effect. Included among these laws were additional restrictions on abortion (ahead of the overturning of Roe the following year), efforts to further disenfranchise voters who tend to vote Democratic, and laws to make guns even more accessible than they already are.

Much more recently, Texas state Representative Bryan Slaton has put forth
a creepy proposal to cut property taxes for married straight people who are committed to breeding. Couples with four children would get a 40 percent tax break, and those with ten or more kids would pay no property taxes at all. In a statement about the proposal, Slaton said, “With this bill, Texas will start saying to couples, ‘Get married, stay married, and be fruitful and multiply." Married couples without offspring could also get a deal -- a 10 percent tax break -- but the married couple must be a man and a woman, and they cannot have been divorced. From the Daily Kos article linked to above:

There’s a high degree of Christofascism going on here, since it’s all about straight marriage, premised on the assumption that you are already homeowners and thus high up enough on the social ladder to be worthy of this state-sponsored beneficence. It’s heavy on the culture war, something that Stalin and Putin didn’t have the luxury of demanding. But that’s certainly where the scheme originates.

In 1944, following a decade of his purges, as well as massive losses in WWII, Stalin decided Russians needed to start replenishing the population. In came the “Order of Maternal Glory,” encouragement of Russian women to become “Hero mothers.” It didn’t really matter to Stalin if they were married or not—he just needed the production.

Along with some
snazzy medals (first-class to mothers who bore nine children—they didn’t all have to still be alive; second-class to mothers of eight; third-class to mothers of seven) the Hero Mothers also got perks, including childcare assistance, boosts to their pensions, and priority access to foods and other goods that were in constant short supply. The award existed until 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved. Most of the former republics ended it.

Putin revived the plan in 2022, with some modifications: Moms can get a monetary reward of the rubles equivalent of approximately $16,000 -- but for 10 children, once the 10th child turns one year old -- and all of the other children have to have survived.

And now we have a similar type of proposal in Texas.
Here's more about it from Jef Rouner at the Houston Press, focusing on the probable motivations of the legislator who proposed the bill.

Slaton’s bill likely has more to do with his extreme religious views. Slaton, who is a former minister, is one of the state’s most fervent conservative culture warriors when it comes to painting regressive polices as Christian dogma. It’s Slaton who has proposed banning minors from all drag events, something that could potentially outlaw trans people from being around children at all, depending on how the law is written or interpreted. Slaton has spent much of his time in the state legislature tacking on various anti-LGBT amendments to bills as part of his ideological crusade.

Granted, it's just a proposal so far, but the very fact that it's been brought up is an indicator of where Texas rethuglicans stand in the race to take America back -- back decades, that is, if not centuries.

So yes, the Texas political climate is horrible too. But that doesn't let Florida off the hook.

PS ~ The good news, if there is any, is that DeSantis and gang's far-right/fascist policies and bills are not popular with the majority of Floridians.
Here's a rundown from Jordan Zakarin at Progress Report, including a well-deserved scolding of Florida Democrats. On the other hand... Zakarin, along with Jen Cousins, also report that DeSantis' mean-spirited school board is doubling down on their mission to impose their fascist dogma on the schools, making life even more miserable for students, parents, and teachers. As reported on March 13, 2023 on Progress Report, the Florida Board of Education, which is packed with DeSantis cronies, plans (among other actions) to expand the already draconian "Don't Say Gay" legislation up through the 12th grade.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

DeSantis: Der Führer of Flori-duh is a rising star in America's growing fascist movement


This post has been updated with additional content as well as editing of original content for the purpose of flow.
~ CC

It can't be stated loudly enough or often enough: Florida governor Ron DeSantis is a fascist. As of now he's a mere spark, relatively speaking, but his elevation to the U.S. presidency could very well burn our democracy to the ground. What DeSantis is doing to Florida, he apparently wants to do to the entire country. In other words, "Make America Florida." Gaaagh!

I've spent years barking about #NeverWasMy President
Donald John Trump -- and I know that this has cost me some readers, but so be it -- but in many ways, DeSantis is ever so much worse. That's no exaggeration; DeSantis is so bad that even some (actual) conservatives are very concerned.

Granted, it's all too easy, particularly in these deeply divisive times, to slap the label "fascist" or "Nazi" on people, organizations, ideas, or actions with whom one disagrees, and I am well aware that those labels have at times been unfairly applied to opponents by both "the right" and "the left." But I think it is entirely appropriate to employ such words when referring to DeSantis. For starters, follow the first link in the first paragraph (here is that link again). It contains links to articles about various aspects of DeSantis' fascistic tendencies, including opinions by experts on the history of fascism, authoritarianism, and autocracy.

Or if you want to narrow your focus a little bit, check out this February 10, 2023 Esquire opinion piece by Jeff Vandermeer, who, speculating about a DeSantis presidential run (or, worse, a win) wrote:

In the end, it may not matter whether DeSantis is a “mad king,” a cipher like Rick Scott, an ideologue, an oligarch, an autocrat, or a rather ordinary politician in the right place at the right time. The effects of DeSantis’ actions remain the same, while in his rhetoric he often takes the term “bully pulpit” as literally as possible.

Florida and its people don’t deserve this desecration—no place does, even as DeSantis and his Republican predecessors have managed to turn an absolute paradise into a place that is close to a failed state. Because what Ron DeSantis does, at base—including to his base—is simple. He inflicts damage in pursuit of political gain. On purpose and with abandon and with no regard for collateral harm.

What trickles down, then, in the end, along with all of this “freedom,” is nepotism, corruption, cruelty, greed, and—both by design and as a byproduct of all the rest—shockingly bad ideas about governance.

Why would you want any of this inflicted on the nation?

This is the Ron DeSantis of Florida, who wants to become the Ron DeSantis of America. To tell us to our dying day that we are not communities of loving grace and communion, that we are not all connected, that acts of loving kindness are for fools and traitors. To tell us that only some of us matter, not all of us.

Maybe, in the end, if we do not heed the warnings, DeSantis will tell us, in a thousand lacerating ways, direct and indirect… that none of us matter.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media coverage so far seems to have understated the threat. This December 2022 Truthout post by Henry A. Giroux addresses the infamous migrant-busing political stunts orchestrated by Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott. Giroux lamented the fact that most of the mainstream media reporting on the matter failed to connect the dots between those stunts and unpleasant historical precedents.

It is worth repeating that little was reported about how this story echoed a segregationist past of Jim Crow racist policies and violence. And almost nothing was said about how DeSantis’s politics of disposability was part of a similar logic carried to extremes in the past in fascist regimes such as Nazi Germany. Not only did DeSantis build on the legacy of American white supremacists such as former Gov. George Wallace, he also took a lesson from the history of fascism in trying to ride white supremacy and nationalism to further his political career.

DeSantis’s publicity stunt of using migrants as political pawns was also disconnected in the mainstream and liberal media from his attempt to erase the history of the Jim Crow era as part of his larger project of a politics of disposability. For instance, little was said connecting this racist policy to DeSantis’s passing laws banning books about Black history and racial narratives from schools and libraries, along with limiting what teachers can teach about racism — a policy that clearly indicates how DeSantis is following in the footsteps of the Nazification of education in Hitler’s Germany...

Presidential aspirations aside, DeSantis appears to be on the fast track to becoming the dictator of Florida. And Florida's republican supermajority has happily handed the reins -- and the reign -- over to him. From The Guardian, February 18, 2023:

It turns out, following a special legislative session last week that handed DeSantis victory after victory in his culture wars against Disney, transgender communities, students, migrants and communities of color, the person with the greatest freedom in Florida to do exactly as he pleases is the governor himself.

In November, voters granted
DeSantis’s wish of a veto-proof Republican supermajority in the state legislature. In a five-day session, those politicians validated every one of his demands.

They granted DeSantis
total control of the board governing Disney, the theme park giant with whom he feuded over his anti-LGBTQ+ “don’t say gay” law.

They gave him permission to
fly migrants from anywhere in the US to destinations of his choosing, for political purposes, then send the bill to Florida’s taxpayers.

And they handed
unprecedented prosecutorial powers to his newly created, hand-picked office of election “integrity”, pursuing supposed cases of voter fraud.

The special session is over but DeSantis’s devotion to seeking retribution against those who disagree with him is not...

 In other words, he's not just a tyrant, but a petty one at that. 

From the tyrant's playbook: seizing control of education and the media

Dumbing down the schools and universities
DeSantis is working hard to push his "anti-woke" agenda at all levels of education in Florida, from elementary schools to colleges and universities. Arguably, education has always been political, but DeSantis seems to be ratcheting the politix up to alarming new levels, waging a war on Florida students of all ages, as well as those tasked with educating them. From a February 28, 2023 piece in The Nation:

Teachers, superintendents, and school board members in Florida have been assaulted, demeaned, and targeted with death threats. Their classrooms are being surveilled, and anonymous members of the public contact administrators to report a “crime” as benign as finding a rainbow flag pinned to a bulletin board.

Amid the threats, DeSantis has
signaled that he will fight a federal investigation into increased teacher harassment in Florida and nationwide.

As this is happening, children watch and learn and get caught in the middle. The people they rely on in school are forced to pay more attention to being under attack than on teaching. Politicians and extremist school board members tell them that some classmates are less equal than others. And the stories they read and the way they learn have been yanked away from them...

I don't know about you, but those pictures of empty bookshelves in elementary school classrooms haunt me.

But I would be remiss if I were to completely gloss over the nuances of this issue, and there are indeed nuances, as explained in this thoughtful March 1, 2023 piece on the Bulwark site, by Cato Institute member and contributing editor to Reason Cathy Young. To put it very politely, I am not a fan of libertarians, particularly in their current incarnation, but Young aptly points out that along with the illiberalism being pushed by DeSantis and his ilk, there's such a thing as progressive illiberalism as well. Citing DeSantis' "War on Woke" on education, particularly as reflected in Florida House Bill 999, Young wrote:

But Democrats and dissident conservatives attempting to describe and respond to this worrisome trend often resort to badly flawed narratives that distort the overall picture in several ways.

First, these narratives sometimes exaggerate the right-wing depredations they critique—for instance, by equating the rejection of the African American studies AP curriculum with an outright ban on teaching African American history.

Second, they tend to discount the very real problem of left-wing illiberalism and ideological diktat in education, dismissing all complaints about it as either astroturfed right-wing disinformation or misguided centrist panic that plays into the hands of the right. To acknowledge that at least in some cases DeSantis and his imitators are responding to real problems and tapping into valid concerns may complicate the narrative, but it doesn’t mean that the “anti-woke” right is fighting the good fight. It just means that the political fights over these issues often pit the proverbial two wrongs against each other—and that the sane middle desperately needs alternatives.

Young went on to list a few examples of "progressive illiberalism." I know what you're thinking, but it would be a mistake to dismiss this piece as mere "whataboutism" or "both-sides-ism." And she did draw attention to an important distinction between the two types of illiberalism.

Attorney and writer Wendy Kaminer, a former American Civil Liberties Union board member who has for years been a strong critic of what she sees as the progressive abandonment of free speech principles, is equally harsh about the right-wing pushback in Florida and other red states. The new Florida legislation and the earlier Stop WOKE bill, she told me by telephone, represent nothing less than “a state-imposed orthodoxy on education, and especially on higher education. It’s saying that there is no such thing as academic freedom, that professors are simply employees of the state and they have to parrot whatever the state tells them to parrot.”

But Kaminer (who is a FIRE advisory board member but stressed that she was speaking only in her capacity as an individual) also pointed to an irony that she believes a lot of progressives miss: The conservative backlash operates by using “theories that were developed on the left” and have been widely applied through college speech codes over the past thirty years or so—theories about the harms of speech that is viewed as traumatic to the listener and the right of listeners to be safe from hurtful or offensive expression.

“You see a very similar hostility to free speech coming from both the ‘woke’ and the ‘anti-woke,’” says Kaminer. However, she adds, while progressives have largely censured speech that they regard as harmful—essentially, as a form of assaultive conduct—using “cultural power” and institutional power, the right, with its current strength in state legislatures, is currently doing it “by force of law.”

"By force of law" -- that's the crucial difference. Cathy Young continued the thought, explaining that this is not an absolute distinction, as, "To some extent, laws prohibiting racial and sexual harassment under Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act bring the federal government into speech regulation that is not always limited to targeted harassment of individuals." Even so, she added:

In some ways, red-state “anti-woke” bills are broader and cruder in their attempts at speech regulation: No campus policy against “discriminatory speech” has ever tried to kill entire academic programs and majors the way HB 999 would kill critical race scholarship and gender studies. (Here, DeSantis is taking a page from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the proud champion of “illiberal democracy” and the darling of American “national conservatives,” who signed a decree effectively banning gender studies programs in Hungarian universities five years ago.)

Indeed. Nuances aside, in my book the DeSantis/anti-woke brand of illiberalism is doing the most damage by far to educational systems, not only in Florida but all across the nation. Notwithstanding the usual gang of hysterics who can't stop working the base into a frenzy about the "woke mob," "progressive illiberalism" isn't even in the running, damage-wise.

Jackboots stomping all over the First Amendment
And then there is DeSantis' war on the news media. Similar to Trump's threats, during his first presidential campaign,
to "open up libel laws," DeSantis wants to rewrite defamation law in America to make it easier for "public figures" like himself to sue news outlets (and, apparently, others who post critical content about said public figures). From Politico, February 23, 2023:

At the governor’s urging, Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature is pushing to weaken state laws that have long protected journalists against defamation suits and frivolous lawsuits. The proposal is part DeSantis’ ongoing feud with media outlets like The New York Times, Miami Herald, CNN and The Washington Post — media companies he claims are biased against Republicans — as he prepares for a likely 2024 presidential bid.

Beyond making it easier to sue journalists, the proposal is also being positioned to spark a larger legal battle with the goal of eventually overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limits public officials’ ability to sue publishers for defamation, according to state Rep. Alex Andrade, the Florida Republican sponsoring the bill...

...Free-press advocates call the measure unconstitutional and suggest it could have far-reaching consequences beyond major media outlets.

“I have never seen anything remotely like this legislation,” said Seth Stern, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “I can’t say I have seen every bill ever introduced, but I’d be quite surprised if any state Legislature had seriously considered such a brazen and blatantly unconstitutional attack on speech and press freedoms.”

Here is a direct link to the proposed bill, HB 991, which was introduced by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), a DeSantis ally. A February 23 piece on the Florida Politics site has more about the matter. As well, the libertarian Reason site shed light on the consequences of this bill's passage.

This bill is only the latest attempt from Gov. DeSantis to chill dissenting speech in Florida.

"The bill is an aggressive and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to rewrite defamation law in a manner that protects the powerful from criticism by journalists and the public," says [Joe] Cohn [the legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression]."And it really champions the rights of the powerful and public figures in particular as compared to the rights of ordinary people to raise questions and lodge criticisms.

Understand, however, that Ron DeSantis certainly does not hate all media. To the contrary: he seems to adore FOX News, and vice versa, much to the growing chagrin of Donald Trump. And he is not above exploiting and weaponizing certain DeSantis-friendly alt-media. According to a February 28, 2023 Grid story, there are at present a half-dozen right-leaning conservative websites, some of which have only emerged over the past two years, that cover DeSantis on a near-daily basis and enjoy access to him and his administration that most of the rest of the media emphatically do not.

Currently the most notable of these is the online-only "news" site Florida Standard, which was only launched in July of 2022 but has published one-on-one interviews with DeSantis and his crackpot state surgeon general. That's the type of access that DeSantis rarely grants to mainstream Florida newspapers. From the Grid story:

“It’s all built around a very partisan agenda,” said Rick Wilson, a Floridian and co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project. “The desire to have your own biases reinforced is across the political spectrum, but only on the far right is it as sophisticated and weaponized — particularly here in Florida.”

These sites play an outsized role given their small staff and traffic, which hover around, or less than, 100,000 monthly viewers at each site, according to data from the media tracking service SimilarWeb. As DeSantis builds his reputation among Republicans nationally, there is a quiet pipeline flowing from these local sites up to major national figures. Conservative stars like Ben Shapiro (5.5 million Twitter followers), Mark Levin (3.4 million followers), Matt Gaetz (2 million followers) and Benny Johnson (1.3 million followers) have all tweeted DeSantis-focused stories written by small conservative Florida news sites, and articles have been routinely cited not just in the right-wing press but the mainstream media, too.

Florida Standard and its editor in chief, Will Witt (who didn't respond to interview requests and questions from Grid) have a fine record of pushing conspiranoid content.

In November of last year, Witt cited the baseless “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which has been embraced by extremists such as the Buffalo supermarket mass shooter, that today’s influx of immigrants is a deliberate attempt to increase the number of Democratic voters in the United States. Witt retweeted a clip of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) discussing embracing immigrants in the U.S. and added: “Great replacement is just a theory huh?”

And earlier this year, the Florida Standard published a series of articles about covid that falsely spread information about covid vaccines, such as a
story focused on the idea that mRNA can spread from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person.

It all seems to fit right in with the DeSantis dystopian vision for Floriduh... and the nation at large.

Then, of course, there are social media, most notably Twitter.
A January 25, 2023 article in The Daily Beast (updated on January 26) reports on how Ron DeSantis's political operation has silently been recruiting conservative "influencers." All of them seem to be fine, upstanding people, at least by current rethuglican standards.

According to five Republicans familiar with the discussions, the governor’s top lieutenants have quietly recruited a network of conservative social media influencers as part of a broader attempt to circumvent the mainstream press and appeal directly to GOP primary voters nationwide.

And who are, according to the three Republicans who received the initial pitch, among the ranks in DeSantis’ digital army?

Jack Murphy, a podcast host and self-described “alpha-male giga chad” involved in a quasi-professional cuckolding porn scandal. John Cardillo, a former Newsmax TV host and unregistered arms dealer who allegedly stiffed the Ukrainian government for
$200,000 worth of body armor plates. Christian Walker, Herschel Walker’s right-wing influencer son who helped tank his father’s Senate campaign. David Reaboi, a Hungary-loving and Qatar-hating bodybuilder with longstanding ties to John Bolton. And Caleb Hull, an ex-Trump digital strategist who has said some very, very racist things.

This is the DeSantis A-team, and they’re fighting a battle for a presidential campaign that hasn’t even started yet—with plenty of DeSantis face time, dinners, and photo ops.

The only point with which I disagree is that DeSantis's presidential campaign "hasn't even started yet." That wasn't even true in January, and it's certainly not true now. In any case, it's a pretty sure bet that all of the restrictions DeSantis is frothing at the mouth to place upon real news media and journalists won't apply to the Führer-friendly "news" media and "influencers."

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

A history of cruelty and sadism?
Finally, there is some online buzz, though not so much from the mainstream media as of now, regarding Ron DeSantis' murky military history. How relevant this is to the DeSantis of the present and future, I couldn't begin to say, but it's worth noting that he has been accused of enabling and encouraging the torture of detainees back when he was a U.S. Navy JAG lawyer serving at the infamous Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba.

The Bulwark brought up this issue
on a February 28, 2023 piece (see the second item, "Is Ron DeSantis a Sadistic Torturer?"). The piece references a transcript of an interview with one of those detainees, Mansoor Adayfi, formerly detainee #441 and also known as Abdul Rahman Ahmed. The interview was originally aired on a Nov. 18 interview podcast of Eyes Left, hosted by U.S. Army veteran and anti-war activist Michael Prysner. (The author of the Bulwark article, Bill Lueders, suggests that the House GOP, being on such an investigative frenzy, should investigate the allegations against DeSantis, among a couple of other matters. But he's not holding his breath, and neither am I, and neither should you.)

January 26, 2023 article on the Florida Bulldog site has more detailed info about the torture allegations, as well as other aspects of DeSantis's military career. To begin with...

Not much is known about DeSantis’s duties at those locations [Guantanamo and Fallujah, during the Iraq war]. DeSantis has released only limited highlights of his military career – noting in a speech, for example, that he spent Christmas 2006 in Guantanamo without his family – and has declined repeatedly to be interviewed about it, most recently to Florida Bulldog. His official biography, cited by Wikipedia and other information sources, touts that he “still serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve,” but the Navy says otherwise.

A Navy data sheet about DeSantis provided to Florida Bulldog last week lists his separation date from the Navy as Feb. 14, 2019 – a month after his first inauguration. “He’s not active or reserve. He’s not a member of the Navy anymore,” said U.S. Navy spokeswoman Lt. Alyson Hands.

Forty-two pages of heavily censored U.S. Navy records released to the Florida Phoenix during DeSantis’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign say his naval duties included things like assistant urinalysis coordinator. At Guantanamo, where hundreds of people scooped up in the George W. Bush administration’s post 9/11 War on Terror were held indefinitely without trial and amid multiple allegations of torture by the International Committee of the Red Cross and others, the Phoenix reported the records showed that from March 2006 through early January 2007 “DeSantis’s primary duty was a trial counsel – meaning a prosecutor. The record also showed that DeSantis was described as a ‘JTF-GTMO [Joint Task Force Guantanamo] scheduler/administrative officer.’” No further details were released...

The aforementioned Gitmo detainee, Mansoor Adayfi, was held without charges at Gitmo for 14 years. He alleges that JAG Officer DeSantis observed, allowed, and participated in illegal acts of torture to help end a 2006 hunger strike by dozens of detainees.

“I saw a fucking handsome person who was coming. He said, ‘I’m here to ensure that you’re treated humanely.’ And we said, OK, this is our demand, you know. We’re not asking for much,” Adayfi said. He said DeSantis went on, “And if you have any problems, if you have any concerns, if you have…just talk to me.’ And you know we, we, we, we’re drowning in that place. I’m like, ‘Oh, this is cool.’ That person actually writing something. He will raise the concerns, but it was [a] piece of the game. What they were doing, they were, they were looking what’s [going to] hurt you more, to use against you.”

Adayfi, now 44, said DeSantis watched with amusement as he and other detainees were repeatedly force-fed Ensure, a “meal replacement” shake, through a nasal feeding tube pushed down their throats.

“Ron DeSantis was there and watching us. We were crying, screaming. We were tied to the feeding chair and that guy; he was watching that. He was laughing basically when they used to feed us, because…our stomach cannot hold this amount of Ensure. They used to pour Ensure, one can after another, one can after another. So, when he approached me, I said this is the way we are treated. He said, ‘You should start to eat.’ …I threw up on his face. Literally on his face.”

DeSantis’s office did not respond to several requests for comment this week. However, shortly after his election to Congress in 2012 he told PBS NewsHour his time serving in the Navy shaped him as a leader. He told PBS that senior officers are accountable for getting their job done because there are consequences if it’s not done well.

The Bulwark piece mentioned above also has details about the torture allegations.

Adayfi alleges that the Ensure was laced with “some kind of laxative” so he and the other prisoners were “shitting ourselves all the time.” After these sessions, “we were moved to solitary confinement—really cold cells. It was like five times a day. It wasn’t feeding. It was just torture. Five times a day.”

He says the guards also beat them, with DeSantis standing by...

DeSantis didn't use his name in Gitmo, so Adayfi did not know DeSantis's true identity in real time, but says he recognized him after the governor rose to national prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic. He insists that DeSantis is indeed the one who witnessed his torture, encouraged it, and laughed at his suffering. To my knowledge, DeSantis has not yet publicly commented on these allegations, but if and when he does I will add that information to this post

There's really so much more to write about Ron DeSantis, but this post is already more than long enough. But I'm not done yet. Expect more in future posts. For now, I'll leave you with this February 27 commentary regarding a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, said opinion piece having been penned by a self-described liberal, no less, who accused his "fellow liberals" of exaggerating the dangers of DeSantis. The "liberal," Damon Linker, suggested that DeSantis is not, in fact, worse than Trump. But there are different flavors of evil, and Trump and DeSantis are both in their own ways monstrously evil, and both would be disasters in the Oval Office. Linker's piece is pretty weak sauce. The bottom line is that American democracy has never been in greater danger from the rising tide of fascism -- and Ron DeSantis is becoming a bigger threat by the day.

PS, added 6 March, 2023: The inimitable John Oliver mercilessly roasts Ron DeSantis on everything from the latter's bizarre dating tactics back in the day, to the usual fascism stuff.

PPS, added 14 March, 2023: A key point of DeSantis' still-unofficial presidential campaign is his outrageously false claim that Florida (meaning DeSantis) was right and "they were wrong" regarding the state's responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alternet (March 10, 2023) reports that Florida's "right" results rank among the worst in the nation. (But don't expect facts to get in the way of DeSantis' narrative and the "Freedom" Fascists' overall covidiocy.)

DeSantis isn't the only source of fascism in the Sunshine State. Next on my Whirled:
In Ron DeSantis' Flori-duh, freedom's just another word for fascism.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Rabbits and Roe and reproductive rights


There's a perversely poetic symmetry in the fact January 22, 2023 marked both the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit* -- that universal symbol of fertility and prolific reproduction -- and the would-be 50th anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the United States Supreme Court ruling that revolutionized women's reproductive rights by effectively legalizing abortion throughout the U.S.

Roe, though widely celebrated by women's rights advocates, was consistently fought from its earliest days, a fight that grew
fiercer and more violent over the decades. Arguably, anti-abortion terrorism even helped fuel the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Even so, many of us clung to the increasingly thin hope that Roe would survive at least to the half-century mark. But when SCOTUS overturned Roe on June 24, 2022, that hope was dashed. And this weekend has been filled with marches and demonstrations that both celebrated and protested Roe's demise.

The anti-choice factions, whom I prefer to call the forced-birth fascists, have been exploiting the 50th anniversary of Roe not only to gloat, but also to double down on their commitment to ending abortion in America altogether, with
"fetal personhood" being a key obsession. Pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, declare that the fight for reproductive freedom is far from over.

Still, there's no doubt that it is going to be a fight, and in so many ways it seems like we are right back at square one. In
an opinion piece in The Guardian, US columnist Moira Donegan wrote:

In contrast to its political controversy, abortion in the Roe era was – as it is now – aggressively common. Approximately one in four American women will have an abortion at some point in the course of their reproductive lives.

The figure lends credence to the pro-choice assertion that everyone loves someone who had an abortion – and the accompanying quip that if you think you don’t know a woman who has had an abortion, you really just don’t know any women who trust you enough to tell you. But part of the legacy of Roe is not just that these women you know and love have been able to have freer, healthier, more volitional lives, but also that their abortions, for many of them, are not worth confessing. For most, abortions were not tragedies to be whispered about, or life-altering moments of shame, but banalities, choices to which they were unquestionably entitled, and from which they could move unconflictedly on. But Roe is gone. Now, for many women, these choices are crimes.

Donegan mused about how Roe opened a door for women to lives of greater dignity and self-determination, even though there were numerous flies in the ointment almost from the beginning.

This, at least, was the aspiration that Roe came to stand for: women’s freedom, their independence, their acceptance as equals in the American project. Of course, it never quite did work out that way: the Hyde amendment, which banned Medicaid funding for abortions, was passed just three years after Roe, in 1976, and effectively excluded poor women from Roe’s promise. Black women faced the dual barriers of moral judgement and eugenicist legacy – for them, often neither the choice to abort nor the choice to parent were fully free. Members of the anti-choice movement, assisted by a judiciary that became increasingly willing to do their bidding, were inventive and sadistically persistent in chipping away at abortion access, making it more expensive, more onerous, and more stigmatized than other kinds of medical care...

In an opinion piece on, journalist and journalist professor Claudia Dreifus reflects on the awfulness of life before Roe. She had first-hand experience.

In my college circle, one routinely heard the most horrific stories: operations in motel rooms, surgeries without anesthesia, abortionists who’d raped women seeking their services. Strange as it seems today: this was common. I had a friend who developed a pelvic infection after a back-alley abortion; she was rendered infertile.

I found myself pregnant in 1964. I was 19. At first, I tried to self-abort. I failed. A friend of my mother’s connected me with a doctor in Pennsylvania.

On the way there, I felt terrified. What if he wasn’t a genuine physician? Would I contract an infection like my friend did? The thought that I might die kept repeating itself. As I drove through the bleak January landscape of rural Pennsylvania, I thought “Whatever the risks, you must do this. There’s no turning back.”

I’d drawn the lucky card. He turned out to be a real physician. I had the operation under anesthesia and with proper medication. He provided abortions because he believed in it, never charging more than $100. His community protected him....

But Dreifus' happy-ending story was more the exception than the rule. Horror stories abound.

One of those horror stories was immortalized in the
April 1973 issue of Ms. Magazine, in a cover article titled, "Never Again," written by journalist and advocate Roberta Brandes Gratz. The lead photo in the piece shows a nude and bloodied woman, sprawled face down on the floor of a motel room following an illegal septic abortion in 1964. That photo has haunted me, and apparently millions of other people, for decades. It became a graphic symbol of the pro-choice movement.**

Like many millions of other women, I had a safe and legal abortion in the Roe era, in a clinical setting. I was very young, and for many reasons, having a child would have been a disaster both for me and for the child. My procedure occurred during the earlier years of Roe, when widespread anti-abortion demonstrations and violence were still in the future. So I did not have to face a gamut of screaming protestors, or be escorted into the clinic by an armed guard, or go through a metal detector, or communicate to the receptionist through bullet-proof glass.

Yet the procedure was emotionally wrenching for me, as it is for most people who, for one reason or another, have to make this decision. I rode an emotional rollercoaster of fear and doubt and sadness, punctuated heavily by an overwhelming feeling of relief. My nights were marked by a series of vivid dreams, both before and after the procedure. I vowed that I would never again get into a situation where an abortion was necessary. I kept that vow through the years, and in case you're wondering, I had no regrets then, nor do I now, that I chose to end my pregnancy.

It saddens and angers me that regressive forces have worked so hard, and continue to work so hard, to deny other pregnant people the same rights I had so many years ago. But it is encouraging to know that in the highest levels of government there is an ongoing effort to restore and preserve reproductive rights. For instance, there's the official
Statement from President Joe Biden on the 50th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Decision:

Today, instead of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, we are acknowledging that last year, the Supreme Court took away a constitutional right from the American people.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision, Americans, time and time again, have made their voices heard:  women should be able to make these deeply personal decisions free from political interference. Yet, Republicans in Congress and across the country continue to push for a national abortion ban, to criminalize doctors and nurses, and to make contraception harder to access. It’s dangerous, extreme, and out of touch. 
I’ll continue to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose. Congress must restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law – it’s the only way we can fully secure a woman’s right to choose in every state.

In keeping with this statement, Vice President Kamala Harris announced President Biden's new memorandum ensuring safe access to medication abortion, and helping to safeguard patient and provider safety and security.

Of course, that's just a presidential memorandum, issued by a president for whom the forced-birth fascists, many of whom are MAGAs, have no respect, and it's a pretty safe bet that they will do everything they can to get around it. But... it's something. And it shows that we have not and will not give in to those who would force a ten-year-old to bear the child of her rapist, or a woman with a dead fetus or an ectopic pregnancy to just grin and bear it.

In the Year of the Rabbit and beyond, reproductive rights, or lack thereof, will remain front and center in political battles all across the United States, and for that matter,
in numerous other countries across the globe. We shouldn't expect the issue to go away any time soon. For abortion became a political issue decades ago, and as I've said a few times on this blog, in politix, as in Scamworld, there are no neat and tidy endings. If you want to join the fight for choice and progress, here's a Google link to some resources.

* Note: It is the Year of the Rabbit everywhere except in in Vietnam, which stubbornly insists that this Lunar New Year ushers in the Year of the Cat.

** The April 1973 Ms. article also features a dramatic illustration by the late artist
Miriam Wosk. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I took the liberty of snapping a pic of the page in my copy of this issue, as I did the first page. No infringement of copyright is intended.