Tag Archives: Florida politics

What’s cool about Florida?

“Between the humidity, the sinkholes, the right-wing Latin Americans, the climate change, Ron DeSantis and the people who vote for him, what exactly is the appeal of Florida?” Eric Loomis asks at Lawyers, Guns & Money about the state with the prettiest name. “I guess it is that old people don’t care about the future and just want to be warm.” Continue reading

Teaching is an act of criticism.

With Florida’s State Board of Education unanimously voting to keep something called Critical Race Theory™ from the curriculum of public schools, it’s important to understand what this board and the governor of Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) have said is okay with them: Continue reading

‘Republican House members do not care about trans kids’

They are ghouls:

The Republican majority in the Florida Legislature on Wednesday unexpectedly rammed a ban on transgender athletes in women’s and girls’ sports through the legislative process amid an outcry from Democrats who called foul on the last-minute procedural moves used to get the issue passed in the final days of session.

House and Senate Republicans resuscitated the issue by attaching the transgender ban to a wide-ranging charter schools bill that was originally designed to create more avenues for charters to operate in the state.

To follow conservatives’ diseased thinking, popular culture and the tyranny of Big Business have conspired to thwart how men and women once related to each other; they can’t change minds on gay marriage anymore but they can metamorphose trans youth into cheaters in sports and bathroom rapists.

‘Anti-riot’ legislation is really ‘anti-protest” bill

Let us say you, consumed with righteous fury, take to the streets should the jury in the George Floyd murder case reach a verdict of not guilty. Protest leaders caution you and your colleagues to avoid provocations. Then, for reasons known to those who have attended these things and experts in crowd dynamics, shit gets crazy. To assume the cops will throw you in the paddy wagon isn’t a stretch; nor is a night in the hoosegow. Unless evidence exists of your destroying private property and/or assaulting the police, you might expect the charges to get dropped or at worst a misdemeanor. Continue reading

The hunting of the snark; or, how to embarrass yourself as a political reporter

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Congrats to Michael Kruse for publishing the year’s most imbecilic reportage. Turgid, arch, as cute as a kitten in a carriage, this magazine essay about Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ handling of COVID-19 is one of those embarrassments of tone and intention so complete that I hope it gets Pulitzer attention. He may have included a few quotes from Nikki Fried and other helpless Florida Dems, but they act as insulation: they conceal the lack of investigative reporting into Tallahassee’s covering up of deaths and the governor’s contempt for local virus control measures for starters. Kruse might point out, “Well, that wasn’t my job; we’ve already done that reporting already.” Exactly. His job was to write fan fiction masquerading as speculative journalism.

The following paragraph is the only example of cogent analysis:

For somebody with his manifest electoral potential, it amounts to an unusual, even unique mixture of natural talents and glaring liabilities—qualities that typically would be political kryptonite. DeSantis used the rise of the Tea Party to get elected to Congress. He used the rise of Trump to get to the governor’s mansion. And he has managed that vital alliance, say Trump and GOP insiders, arguably better than any other high-profile Republican—accruing the benefits while for the most part evading the frequent, familiar nicks and complications. Most nonpartisan observers have had to grant that DeSantis is not so much a Trump toady as he is perhaps a Trump trade-up—similarly transactional but significantly less bombastic, more ideologically coherent and much more disciplined and strategic.

Reread the last sentence, though, and the rot will singe the nostrils. “Nonpartisan observers” are as mythical as the minotaur. They don’t exist. “A Trump trade-up” as description suggests a concession: Trump was “bombastic,” ideologically incoherent, undisciplined, and not strategic.” Failing to identify the former president as the culmination of fifty years of conservative hatred against science, elites, balancing budgets, and the voters who chose other candidates is a classic Beltway fallacy; to identify an endpoint demands the incineration of received thinking.

These are merely my philosophical objections; by employing the first-person POV but using weasel word like “appeared to” (“From Ocean Reef to Lakewood Ranch to The Villages, they say, he’s appeared to prioritize the vaccinations of rich Republican donors…”), Kruse wants it both ways to cover his ass. This margarine greases the way for passages like this:

After Yale, DeSantis went to Harvard Law. His college baseball coach, who wrote him a letter of recommendation, when we talked last year remembered being taken aback by his immaculate transcript.

“He’s a fucking computer,” a senior DeSantis official told me. This is a person whom I consider to be intelligent, cleareyed, not a sycophant. During one of our conversations, this person texted me a clip from YouTube from the 1986 movie “Short Circuit.” The main character is a robot. Johnny 5, as the machine is known, takes in information at comical speeds while calling for more. “Input! More input!”

“That,” said this DeSantis official, “is him.”

Masochists may want to save the last third of Kruse’s essay — an epithalamion to wife Casey DeSantis — for when they need an emetic.

‘A lot of voters changed their minds between 2016 and 2020’

(Photo by MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Erik Levitz spoke to pollster David Shor again this week for a post-mortem on the 2020 election. Now that we can see the results precinct by precinct the conclusions are as sobering as a blow to the chest. The GOP chipped away at the traditionally Democratic African American bloc and broke huge chunks from Hispanics:

One important thing to know about the decline in Hispanic support for Democrats is that it was pretty broad. This isn’t just about Cubans in South Florida. It happened in New York and California and Arizona and Texas. Really, we saw large drops all over the country. But it was notably larger in some places than others. In the precinct-level data, one of the things that jumps out is that places where a lot of voters have Venezuelan or Colombian ancestry saw much larger swings to the GOP than basically anywhere else in the country. The Colombian and Venezuelan shifts were huge.

One of my favorite examples is Doral, which is a predominantly Venezuelan and Colombian neighborhood in South Florida. One precinct in that neighborhood went for Hillary Clinton by 40 points in 2016 and for Trump by ten points in 2020. One thing that makes Colombia and Venezuela different from much of Latin America is that socialism as a brand has a very specific, very high salience meaning in those countries. It’s associated with FARC paramilitaries in Colombia and the experience with President Maduro in Venezuela. So I think one natural inference is that the increased salience of socialism in 2020 — with the rise of AOC and the prominence of anti-socialist messaging from the GOP — had something to do with the shift among those groups.

As for the story with Hispanics overall, one thing that really comes out very clearly in survey data that we’ve done is that it really comes down to ideology. So when you look at self-reported ideology — just asking people, “Do you identify as liberal, moderate, or conservative” — you find that there aren’t very big racial divides. Roughly the same proportion of African American, Hispanic, and white voters identify as conservative. But white voters are polarized on ideology, while nonwhite voters haven’t been. Something like 80 percent of white conservatives vote for Republicans. But historically, Democrats have won nonwhite conservatives, often by very large margins. What happened in 2020 is that nonwhite conservatives voted for Republicans at higher rates; they started voting more like white conservatives.

Reread the following sentence. Many of us involved in local politics have been figuring how to discuss getting local police out of situations requiring mental health training, or, stickier, how to remove the stinger from Defund the Police as slogan. I can’t. The Trump flags in Westchester are gone; the Blue Lives Matter bumper stickers, proxies for Trumpism, remain. The Hispanics who turned to Trump in 2020 admire authority because it allows them to keep the possessions for which they have scrimped and worked two jobs — at least initially. This fear of unmasked antifa forces marching into West Miami to burn every speedboat and SUV in sight may abate in 2022, but I don’t count on it.

Florida GOP’s war against free assembly and speech

Taking cues from the hundreds of gated homes with perfect lawns and three SUVs and Blue Lives Matter flags in my beloved Westchester, the Tallahassee Lickspittle proposed a bill last fall whose intentions regarding the Bill of Rights amount to gobbles, not bites. Continue reading

‘They were clearly trying to destabilize our movement’

Ah, Florida.

When local Black Lives Matter activists started marching through the small, coastal town of New Port Richey, Fla., last summer — shouting slogans through bullhorns demanding racial justice — it took only a few days for the Proud Boys and other counterprotesters to show up and confront them.

Burly groups of mostly White men encircled the demonstrators. They revved motorcycles while yelling threats, obscenities and support for the police and President Trump, at times using their own bullhorns.

Amid fears that the confrontations could lead to clashes or shootings, police started enforcing the town’s rarely used noise ordinance, which essentially forbids disturbances louder than a close conversation between two people. But only the Black Lives Matter protesters were cited.

“We were harassed [by the counterprotesters]. We had a few guns brandished on us. … One guy even came up to me and flashed a White Power gesture in my face, but they didn’t get any noise violations,” said Christina Boneta, a Black 32-year-old mother who was taken into custody in late August and saddled with a $2,500 fine. “We are the ones who got the noise violations when, all summer long, we never threatened anybody, looted anything or burned anything.”

After months of public outrage and accusations of discrimination over the disparate penalties, New Port Richey police dropped the citations against Boneta and six other Black Lives Matter demonstrators in early January. But not before the Tampa-suburb became another front in the national debate over whether authorities treat left-wing protesters too harshly while cozying up to far-right extremists.

The contextual framework for this article is HB1, a bill proposed by Governor Ron DeSantis after last summer’s BLM protests scared the bejeezus out of white people. Never mind that Florida (the state with the prettiest name!) has laws punishing vandalism, arson, and resisting arrest; if I were to informally poll my neighbors in deepest Westchester, where Blue Lives Matter flags — a defacement of the flag more egregious than anything essayed by BLM — flapped crisp and stridently until the day after Joseph Robinette Biden’s inauguration.

Let’s be clear: seriously eyeing a presidential run, DeSantis wants violent protests in Florida so he can pin it on Joe Biden and run as the order candidate (I will not desecrate “law” by associating it with Ron DeSantis).

Finally, please note the article mentions Pasco County as a Ku Klux Klan redoubt for decades.

‘They should treat us like professionals’

I counted more bodies on campus in the last ten days than in all of Fall 2020: clumps of students basking in the crispness of a January morning, few of whom dicknosed their masks. Following a fall term held mostly online, the university, perhaps fearing a smack from Governor Ron DeSantis, increased the number of undergraduate in-person classes, though not as much as University of Florida upstate: more than 600 percent this semester, even as Covid-19 conditions in Florida (and across the nation) deteriorate. Continue reading