Two days after I blasted him for acting like a college freshman explaining to a frustrated professor why he needed a ten-day paper extension, Governor Ron DeSantis read a staff summary of what Humanizing the Vaccum has been posting and shut down Florida (the state with the prettiest name!). Plague years require delusions of grandeur, let me assure you. This move produced a new rush on grocery stores because people can’t read. In a welcome move two days after his dilatory nature might’ve doomed my state, DeSantis follows other governors by suspending evictions and foreclosures, albeit for the next forty-five days. Yet if you’re a preacher who runs a megachurch y’all can still have Sunday service, according to an exemption in his executive order. Continue reading
The rains have come. Twenty days of continuous sunshine disappeared behind a film of grey, a pattern familiar to Floridians in June. For the first time since traveling the second week of March, I can’t sit on the terrace and peck at these submissions. I’m glad it happened now; a day earlier, what with answering two dozen emails and grading and recording a lecture, would’ve killed me to work indoors. Maybe the rains aren’t local; maybe it’ll rain at Florida beaches open because of the intransigence of a lickspittle governor. More on that later. Continue reading
“The sorrows that befall Florida and soon other red states will be blamed on the symbolic capital of deracinated liberalism, New York city, with its immigrants, bad values and dirty ways,” Josh Marshall observes, trying to fathom the shallowness of Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ smeared glass of a brain. After all, does DeSantis imagine northeastern snowbirds will come to settle in Aventura and Naples in late March and early April? Some readers may have gasped at this photo from St. Johns County beaches taken yesterday afternoon. To live in Florida is to understand how gasping is as contagious as COVID-19.
Striking obsequious poses for the sake of his master in the White House, DeSantis would rather blame New Yorkers than his administration for not closing the beaches — not closing down the state. The numbers have startled me: Florida cases keep multiplying, a result of newly available testing. To imagine Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) matching or surpassing New York isn’t out of the question, and gerontocracies like The Villages are neutron bombs ready for detonation. As I remarked to a friend yesterday morning, you’d think DeSantis, obsessed like his master with the appearance of caring about Big Business, would’ve taken his cue from Walt Disney World; the park wasted no time shutting its gates two weeks ago.
Add to Lil’ Trump’s incompetence and indifference his dollar store bullying tactics. In a possible violation of the Florida Sunshine Law, DeSantis has excluded the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald from its briefings. The superb Mary Ellen Klas, who covers Florida politics for The Miami Herald at the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau, has the story.
Days earlier, Klas asked that the governor’s staff help protect reporters by holding Zoom-style video conference press briefings so that questions could be asked without requiring reporters to gather in close proximity.
The top editors of the Herald, Times, el Nuevo Herald, Bradenton Herald, Palm Beach Post, Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel made the same request of DeSantis’ office in a March 20 letter. DeSantis’ office did not respond, according to Miami Herald President & Publisher/Executive Editor Aminda Marqués González.
The governor’s office continues to hold briefings that run counter to the recommended 6-foot-rule that public health experts say is necessary for social distancing.
On Twitter, Klas said a reporter for the News Service of Florida was told that he would be shut out as well if he insisted that Klas be allowed to cover the press conference in person. She posted a video of the DeSantis spokeswoman, Meredith Beatrice, explain that Klas could view the press conference on a state-sponsored public affairs media service that live streams state government events.
The public has never given a damn about journalists’ complaints, so I regard this incident as an example of Lil’ Trump’s fecklessness.
Hoping his master will nominate him in the next two months to head the coronavirus task force when Pence, Fauci, et. al exhaust his patience, Ron DeSantis governs my state as if he wanted Donald Trump’s base to die before Election Day:
DeSantis pointed to crowded beaches in California and the stream of travelers from New York to Florida as evidence that those orders aren’t working.
“And the fact of the matter is, a governor is not going to start imprisoning people just because they leave their house,’’ he said. “So you’re going to have a lot of non-compliance.”
DeSantis announced that while the state won’t halt the number of people who are fleeing to Florida from other states, he will require “anybody traveling from those regions in New York or New Jersey to the state of Florida is going to have to do a mandatory 14-day self isolation.”
And what of the health of the state’s largest concentration of the Three R’s — rich, retired, revanchist — and their contribution to his master’s electoral prospects?
The governor said earlier Monday in a press conference at The Villages that he wants “good data” on the coronavirus to drive his decisions about whether to shut down the state. He implied that it isn’t yet a major concern in many parts of Florida.
“We’ve still got 20 counties with zero infections and I think about 26 that have 2, 3, 5, 7 type of infections,” he said.
But the data he’s relying on may be inadequate and out of date. As of midday Monday, Florida had conducted just over 13,000 tests in a state of more than 21 million people. Because a person may get multiple tests, the number of people who have been tested is less than 13,000
Kudos to the Miami Herald for the last paragraph rebuke. The number of motorists arrested for speeding doesn’t vitiate the need for speed limits; evidence of fraud doesn’t undermine the case for a welfare system; finding only one case in landlocked northern Bradford County doesn’t prove the county won’t see a surge. I’m terrified to speak to certain relatives who remain, to quote Elizabeth Bishop, “awful but cheerful” about Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) already enduring the worst of it.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the degree to which the GOP-controlled Florida legislature has eviscerated Amendment 4, passed by 65 percent of voters in 2018. Regarded by its authors as a way to re-enfranchise felons who’ve completed their sentences, Amendment 4 has become an excuse to collect the bureaucratic, anodyne twenty-first century version of poll taxes. If the authors had wanted their amendment to require court costs from applicants seeking voting rights restoration, they would’ve said so. Besides, the state lacks an agency that keeps track of restitution to families. “What we have now is an administrative nightmare,” said U.S. district judge Robert Hinkle last month.
An excellent example local reporting that has gotten little national attention, Orlando Sentinel published an examination of LGBT discrimination at Christian schools whose students receive taxpayer-funded vouchers. “That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome,” Leslie Postal and Annie Martin dryly note.
The Sentinel found 83 schools that refuse to admit LGBTQ students or could expel them if their sexual orientation or gender identity were discovered. Some also refuse to educate students whose parents are gay or to hire staff who are gay.
Another 73 schools call being gay or transgender a biblical sin but do not explain how those views play out in admissions or student discipline decisions.
Some of the private schools depend on the vouchers to cover tuition for nearly all their students.
At Worshipers’ House of Prayer Academy in Miami, for example, at least 112 of 130 students got a scholarship last year. The school’s website says it has “zero tolerance” for “homosexual activity” because God calls it “an abomination.”
As the Sentinel reported in its 2017 “Schools Without Rules” series, the private schools that take Florida scholarships operate largely free of state oversight, setting their own standards for teacher credentials, facilities and curriculum, which can fall short of the requirements the state imposes on its public schools.
The schools are also able to set their own admission standards, which could include rules about sexual orientation and gender identity as well as demands for church attendance and certain academic benchmarks, such as satisfactory test scores and good grades.
In the same week that the Supreme Court heard the Montana tax break case , I shudder at the likelihood John Roberts and His Furious Five will affirm a state’s right to pay for private educations using public funds, and the private school administrators have already set themselves up as victims pleading for Fourteenth Amendment protections; they should have the liberty to discriminate against LGBT students, they argue, despite accepting my tax dollars.
These developments represent a triumph for former governor Jeb Bush, whose laughable 2016 campaign for president has wiped the collective memory of his effort to privatize education in Florida — the state with the prettiest name!
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, one of the best reporters covering legal and LGBT questions, takes a closer look at the State with the Prettiest Name’s ongoing voter suppression project. Despite the passage with overwhelming support of Amendment 4 in 2018, my state legislature, readers may recall, passed a bill last May with devastating caveats: you can vote so long as you pay all fees.
I noted last November how these developments have unfolded in Miami-Dade County. Here we are:
There is little doubt that GOP legislators opposed the amendment because they feared it would disproportionately enfranchise Democrats. But their bill has led to a bizarre system in which Democratic counties are reenfranchising their voters while Republican-majority counties are not. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough all overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. They are Democratic strongholds in a state with notoriously close elections. In 2016, Trump beat Clinton by about 113,000 votes. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade hopes to grant about 150,000 former felons the right to vote. The reenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters in primarily Democratic counties may very well swing the 2020 election.
Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis barely won election to the Senate and governorship, respectively. Nibbling at vote totals like re-enfranchising would do would seriously impair Donald Trump’s reelection in the most erratic of swing states. The stupidity of the state legislature is clear: god knows how many white GOP-leaning voters it has kept disenfranchised! As awful as this looks for the red counties of Florida, these margins might be enough to tilt the state blue in 2020, and these dumbfuck GOP legislators are just dumbfuck enough not to realize what they may have done.