Tim Scott and Ron DeSantis are the alternatives to Trump?

In the last week we’ve had South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis formally declare for President of the United States.

Hoo boy.

Tim Scott

Let’s start with Tim Scott. This guy thinks that his party — which in the last six years has explicitly become the party of racists — is going to elect a black man to be their standard bearer in a Presidential election?

This guy must be completely delusional.

Which right there should disqualify him from being elected President. 

I mean, yes Obama was elected President twice, but he was elected by Democrats and Independents. And Republicans still haven’t forgiven him for Presidenting while black.

On top of which, Scott is competing with the only other Republican candidate of color who happens to be from the same state: Nikki Haley. But at least she isn’t black.

This guy ain’t going nowhere.

Ron DeSantis

Then, we have Ron DeSantis. This guy’s primary claim to fame so far is that he has banned books and picked a fight with his state’s best known and most beloved employer.

Which fight he is losing.

Ron DeSantis is like Trump without the charm.

Wait, what? Trump has charm.

Well, yeah, he has a certain kind of anti-charm. I mean, if  he hadn’t been President of the United States and he were just some right-wing billionaire blowhard — like Elon Musk, for example — he can be kind of funny, sometimes. Even his predictable übernarcissism can be sort of entertaining.

In any case, Ron DeSantis doesn’t have any of that.

He mostly comes off like an asshole’s asshole, somebody without any discernible likeability. Since he started to become the main alternative to Trump, his poll numbers have begun to sink.

Then came the disastrous official launch of his campaign on Twitter.

Elon Musk’s glitch-filled roll out didn’t do DeSantis — and his image for competence — any favors. To be fair, that seems to have been Musk’s fault and not that of DeSantis, but it doesn’t really matter. That’s all that anybody is going to remember from the DeSantis launch. 

Just as what is remembered from Trump’s 2016 launch is his rolling down the escalator and calling Mexicans rapists. (Of course, it turned out that Trump was the actual rapist.)

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Don’t think DeSantis is Going to Win this War

Governor’s sometimes claim to have “created” jobs — which is almost always nonsense — but Governors can on occasion help to create the kind of political conditions in a state that are favorable to business, allowing those businesses to create jobs. But Governors rarely do things that directly strip jobs from their state.

Enter Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

In his on-going war with Disney he just got Disney to cancel plans to build a nearly $1 billion office complex in Florida and move more than 2,000 jobs to the state.


First of all, when did Disney become a progressive company? I mean, Walt Disney himself was known as a conservative and anti-Semite. To be fair, Disney died 57 years ago, and some of his family — especially his grand-niece Abigail Disney — have been much more progressive than old Walt himself, but still, this is Disney that we’re talking about.

Well, as of late, Disney has been making DeSantis look like John Birch.

Disney and DeSantis began to tangle back in 2021 when Disney required all its on-site employees to be fully vaccinated. The Governor announced he would impose fines against Disney and other companies with vaccine mandates. But it was in 2022 when when things really got going:

  • March 28, 2022, Disney issues a company statement (based on pressure from company employees) that the “don’t say gay” bill should be struck down by the courts.
  • April 19, 2022, DeSantis asks the Legislature to revoke Disney’s special district (the “Reedy Creek Improvement District”) and self-governing status when it meets in a special session on redistricting.
  • April 21, 2022, the Florida Legislature passes a measure to dissolve the district; subsequently the state discovers that it would have to find a way to pay off an estimated $1 billion in the district’s debt.
  • Jan. 25, 2023, Reedy Creek holds a public hearing on a series of agreements that will leave in place local land-use regulations that favor Disney for the next 30 years and a set of restrictive covenants that will limit what the DeSantis-aligned board can do with Disney’s property.
  • Feb. 6, 2023, the Legislature meets in special session and abandons plan to dissolve Disney’s special taxing district;  instead it releases a new plan to rename the district and let DeSantis choose the people in charge.
  • Feb. 8, 2023, Reedy Creek board meets for a final time and votes to approve the series of agreements and restrictive covenants that tie the hands of DeSantis’ incoming board.
  • Feb. 11, 2023, Legislature gives final approval to changes that would shift control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District from the Walt Disney Co. to DeSantis but leave the taxing district intact.
  • Feb. 27, 2023, DeSantis signs into law the bill to give the governor control over Walt Disney World’s governing body.
  • March 29, 2023, The newly appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District announces that it has discovered the development agreements and restrictive covenants that will limit its power over Disney’s property.
  • April 3, 2023, DeSantis orders his inspector general to conduct an investigation into the Disney-controlled board agreements.
  • April 17, 2023, DeSantis announces plan to revoke the development agreements that undercut the authority of the board he appointed and to impose new regulations on Disney operations. To come,
  • April 26, 2023, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts file a federal lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials, accusing DeSantis of violating the company’s First Amendment rights by utilizing political power for “government retaliation” purposes.
  • May 18, 2023, Disney announces cancellation of plans to  build a nearly $1 billion office complex in Florida and move more than 2,000 jobs to the state.

Truthfully, I don’t think DeSantis is going to win this one. While Disney is far from the largest employer in Florida, it is one of the most visible. Maybe the best known employer. And DeSantis is just getting a public relations black eye.

On top of which, I believe that Disney will win their legal case. If the First Amendment protects anything, it protects private parties from government censorship. And that’s exactly what we have here. And all because DeSantis cannot resist persecuting LGBTQIA people.

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Don’t Read Too Much into the John Durham Report

John Durham issued his 316 page special report yesterday, and it’s really a nothing burger. As the whole investigation has been. You may have forgotten what this investigation is about, so let’s review.

The Durham special counsel investigation is the one that was supposed to prove that there was a “deep state” conspiracy against Donald Trump, centered at the FBI. The same FBI that, btw, sunk Hillary Clinton’s campaign with their last-minute revival of allegations about her email server.

But whatever.

Over the course of his 3½ year investigation, Durham managed to indict three men: one of whom pleaded guilty to a charge unrelated to the origins of the FBI investigation; the other two were tried and acquitted. In both of those trials, Durham alleged the defendants had deceived the FBI, rather than alleging the FBI acted improperly toward Trump. And now he’s released his final report.

His final report did not, however, break any new ground that had not already previously been broken by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz in his 476 page report, released in December of 2019.

So, there is no doubt that the FBI was sloppy in its investigation of Trump. According to Durham, there was a “significant reliance on investigative leads provided by, or funded by, political opponents” of Trump. However, the report does not recommend any major changes on the guidelines and policies that the DOJ and FBI currently have in place, many as a consequence of the previous IG’s report.

Republicans will try to make big hay out of this — as they always do — but it’s a misdirection play. It has to be balanced out against the Mueller investigation, which found both collusion between the Russia and the Trump campaign, as well as repeated efforts at obstruction of justice. 

The Mueller investigation also led to 34 indictments, guilty pleas and convictions, which is 31 more than Durham’s report.

The Durham report is a lot like Rep. James Comer’s (R-KY) investigation into the “Biden crime family,” which is also going nowhere. Last week Comer and his Committee on Oversight and Accountability released a memo from the Majority (Republican) Members of the committee that was intended to update the committee’s work and proved exactly nothing. On top of which, anyone who has been paying even a little bit of attention knows that if there is a Presidential “crime family” it’s the Trumps. Their family business has already been convicted of criminal tax fraud, and will be facing a civil trial from the Attorney General of New York.

But you know today’s Republicans, whatever they are accusing others of is what they are already guilty of.

So, take the Durham report with a grain of salt. Yes, it wasn’t the FBI’s finest hour, but it was hardly the “deep state” imbroglio Republicans would love to have you believe in.

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Well, this was an Unmitigated Disaster

I didn’t watch the CNN town hall with Donald Trump, and I’m glad I didn’t. Watching #45 is like having dental surgery. Painful for sure. And, it sounds like this one was an unmitigated disaster.

Savannah Guthrie got pretty good marks when she moderated a town-hall style debate with Trump back in October of 2020. That one happened after Trump caught Covid, refused to participate in a virtual presidential debate, after which Joe Biden scheduled a solo town hall debate for himself. In case you forgot.

Kaitlyn Collins did not have nearly the same luck. For one thing she was working with an almost universally pro-Trump crowd. And having been schooled once by a female CNN moderator, #45 was apparently more ready to just steamroll over her.

Trump was back to his old ways. He lied and lied and lied, breaking out most of his greatest hits:

  • Trump continued to claim the 2020 presidential election was “rigged”;
  • Trump continued to claim that former Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to stop the counting of election ballots;
  • Trump continued to claim that Pence wasn’t under threat on January 6th;
  • Trump claimed that he requested 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol on Jan. 6th;
  • Trump continued to claim that he had the right to take classified documents to his Florida home (he didn’t) and more. 

Oh boy.

Some other “highlights” from the town hall included the following:

  • Trump was unable to criticize Russia or its leader Vladimir Putin;
  • Trump was unable to or say whether he wants Ukraine or Russia to win;
  • Trump could not say whether he would sign a federal abortion ban;
  • Trump said the debt ceiling should be used as leverage to negotiate spending cuts;
  • When asked why it wasn’t when he was in office he said that it’s “different now” because he’s not President;
  • Trump defended people who participated in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, saying he’ll pardon many of them;
  • Trump doubled down on his crude Access Hollywood comments about stars being able to do what they want with women;
  • Trump continued to claim that he didn’t know E. Jean Carroll and had never met her, despite the massive lawsuit she just won the day before.

There was some discussion yesterday that maybe E. Jean Carroll  should sue Trump again, since he can’t help himself but to defame her.

You know, one of the ironies from 2016 is that a lot of Trump supporters voiced the opinion back then that he “tells the truth” and asked the question “how bad can he be?”

Well, Trump has been proven over and over again to be a Guiness World Record holding liar. I think what they meant was “he voices our grievances,” not that he tells the truth.

And we know exactly how bad he can be after having had four years of him.

In any case, CNN did itself no favors yesterday, and probably lost a bunch of viewers, which the network can ill afford to do.

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A Nice Victory for Women Everywhere

It was a nice victory for women everywhere — and Elizabeth Jean Carroll in particular — with her victory in her civil sexual assault and defamation case against what’s-his-name, #45 yesterday.

A woman was believed.

Multiple women were believed.

Chickenshit Trump took the advice of his attorneys and did not come back and testify in person. His defense attorney tried to go with old tropes like “why didn’t she scream,” and “she couldn’t even remember the date on which this happened.”

Didn’t work.

It took the jury only three hours — three hours! —to come back with a verdict. 

Trump’s entire defense was predicated on his claim that Jean was “not his type.” But then, in a deposition he misidentified a picture of her from that time as his former wife Marla Maples.


That’s why his lawyers didn’t want him to testify.

And that old Access Hollywood tape finally came back to bite him. The one where he confesses, openly and proudly, that he regularly assaults women because he’s a “star” and when you’re a star “they let you do it.”

Yeah, it doesn’t actually work that way under the law.

Will this make any difference to Trump’s supporters?

Of course not.

Recent polling has Trump winning a head-to-head match up with Joe Biden because, well, Joe Biden is a moderate and competent man, and he needs to be punished for that.

The Republican party, the party of “law and order,” is having more and more difficulty with their leading man. In case you’ve lost track:

  • His organization has been convicted of criminal tax fraud.
  • He’s now lost this civil judgment to E. Jean Carroll.
  • He’s been indicted in New York for campaign finance violations and 34 felony counts of falsification of business records.
  • He’s going to be indicted in Georgia for criminal solicitation to commit election fraud when he asked the Secretary of State to “find” him 11,780 votes.
  • Special Counsel Jack Smith is leading the investigation into Trump’s involvement in the January 6th insurrection.
  • Special Counsel Jack Smith is leading a separate investigation into Trump’s deliberate withholding of classified documents.
  • NY Attorney General has a separate civil probe into the unlawful inflation and deflation of property values in order to avoid tax liability and gain loans and other financial benefits to which he otherwise wouldn’t have been entitled.

That’s our “law and order” former President.

His supporters still want to lock up “crooked” Hillary Clinton because she used a private email server for some classified messages. A server which, by the way, was never breached, and where there is no proof that any classified documents ever got into the wrong hands.


And Trump is the victim of witch hunt?

By now it should be blindingly obvious what the Republicans accuse others of is exactly what they’re guilty of. And yet, their supporters still fall for it every time.

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The Absurdity of the Coronation

Watching the coronation of King Charles yesterday, I was struck by several things: the first is just the absurdity of it all. The pomp and circumstance was so excessive, it really should have been like a mockumentary. A farce. I mean, Charles looked old and bemused, and occasionally uncomfortable, and I kept having to wonder what century we’re living in.

The second thing that struck me was the degree that Jesus Christ and the Church of England were interwoven into all of this. Obviously, the whole thing was taking place in a church, Westminster Abbey. But what seems to get lost — and the same thing is true for anything involving the Pope and the Catholic Church — is that Jesus was anti-imperial. He was (to the degree that we can determine this) a radical little wandering anarchist who was trying to throw off the yoke of Rome.

Anyway, how can anyone take all of this nonsense seriously? First of all, there is no Jesus, he died over 2000 years ago and despite what people say, he isn’t coming back. Nor is he in “heaven,” which is a child’s concept. And he isn’t blessing the coronation of King Charles, which would have been antithetical to everything that he (apparently) stood for. It’s just absurd, and yet here we have millions of people — and lest we forget, plenty of counter-protestors and anti-monarchists — taking this completely seriously and getting emotional about it and treating this as if this were an appropriate event in the 21st century.

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Half a loaf is still better than no laof at

I’m as disappointed as anyone about the defamation case against Fox News not going to trial. I was really looking forward to seeing Fox News hosts, executives, and members of the Murdoch family, the sweat distorting their make-up as they testify live, under oath, about why they lied over and over again to their viewers.

And, for that matter, all of America.

But it’s pretty hard to turn down $787,500,000 — more than ¾ of a billion dollars — when it’s offered to you. As one of the members of Dominion’s legal team pointed out, with a settlement they wouldn’t have to go through years of appeals. And it’s by far the biggest settlement ever against a media organization.

Still, there would have been something so cathartic out seeing the Fox cast testify under oath.

Would it have made a difference with Fox viewers?

Probably not.

A few might have had the spell broken by hearing their heroes publicly declare that they were lying. But most would probably have hung on, doing extraordinary cognitive gymnastics to keep believing.

As it is, Dominion got us half-way. They at least got Fox News hosts, executive and family members under oath in various depositions. We don’t have video of those depositions — which would have been more impressive — but half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.

And, we still have the Smartmatic defamation suit against Fox News. While Dominion was asking for $1.6 billion, Smartmatic is asking for $2.7 billion. They won’t get that, but since Dominion got $785 million, I would expect that Smartmatic wouldn’t settle for anything less.

That would be $1.57 billion, if both cases settle for the same amount.

So, there is still hope that there might be a public trial of Fox News.

A $1.57 billion amount would not put Fox News out of business — their last earnings report indicated they had revenues of $4.61 billion in the most recent quarter — but it would take a bite out of their operations.

So now the two largest defamation awards in the history of the United States are the $1.5 billion against Alex Jones, and the $785 million against Fox News. The next biggest awards (at least if the Internet can be believed) are a $222 million award against Dow Jones and a $33 million award against Oberlin College.

Oh boy.

Nice going, conservative blowhards. You really are #1.

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What is Wrong with America?

In the last two days there were two stories about innocent people being shot at somebody’s front door. For no reason at all.

The first story was about a 16 year old black kid named Ralph Yarl, a high school junior, who was shot last week when he accidentally went to the wrong house while trying to pick up his two younger siblings from a friend’s house. He was shot by white 84 year old home-owner Andrew Lester who never asked Yarl what he wanted, gave him a chance to turn around, or, by all appearances, had any interaction with him whatsoever.

Other than shooting him.

Yarl survived the shooting, even though he was shot in both the head and the arm — I guess shooting the kid once wasn’t enough for this old cocksucker — but was very seriously injured. There may be permanent damages.

Then, only a few days later, in upstate New York, a 20-year-old woman was shot and killed by a homeowner after the car she was in accidentally went to the wrong address. Kaylin Gillis and three of her friends were trying to find another friend’s house in Hebron, New York, when they mistakenly pulled up to the wrong house. They quickly realized their mistake and were turning the car around when the home-owner stepped onto his porch and fired two shots, one of which struck Gillis.

The group did not even get out of the car.

Because they had no cell phone coverage where they were, the group had to drive five miles to the nearest town to call 911. Emergency responders tried to perform CPR on Gillis, but she was already dead by that time. 

What the fuck is wrong with America?

Some people have argued that the prevalence of “stand your ground” laws has made the situation worse, as it has encouraged people to adopt a “shoot first” attitude.


I don’t know.

But there is something seriously wrong with this country — and I realize I’m not really breaking new ground here — and our complete and unholy obsession with guns.

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I pray that the Fox News case goes to trial

Tonight I pray to God — and I don’t even believe in God — the the Dominion voting case against Fox News does not settle out of court. Dominion is going to make a boatload of money regardless of whether they settle or not.

No, what is critical here is to get Rupert Mordoch, and Lachlan Murdoch, and Elizabeth Murdoch, and Suzanne Scott, and all of the Fox News Hosts under oath, on television, having to walk back all of the stuff that they said.

What is critical for the sanity of our country is that their credibility has to be publicly torn to shreds.

On television.

Under oath.

This is the only way that we can ever break the spell of this propaganda machine, this unrelenting and merciless propaganda machine.

And don’t tell me about how this could hurt journalism in general. If journalists are out there, lying to us every day — not making innocent mistakes or even completely idiotic mistakes — but intentionally lying to us day after day, then whether that’s coming from the left or coming from the right, they should be held to account.

When people do the wrong things even for the right reasons — for example, the Cult Awareness Network, which violated the civil rights of individuals in its efforts to “deprogram” adherents of Scientology — then they can be put out of business.

I don’t think Fox News will be put out of business regardless, although I wish they would. But their credibility has to be shredded.


Under oath.

For the sake of our democracy.

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Today’s Republican Party in Three Stories

Yesterday we had three stories that demonstrate how insane today’s Republican party has become. 

The Tennessee Three

In Tennessee, the Republican supermajority just voted to expel two of three lawmakers who had led an anti-gun protest on the House floor, in the wake of the murder of six people at the Covenant School. The two who were expelled were young black men; the one who just managed to hang on was a white woman. They all did the same thing.

All three admitted that they broke the House rules. In a sane world, they would have been reprimanded, which would be appropriate. But not expelled. The NC House Republican speaker tried to defend their actions by claiming that the protests were “worse” than the January 6th insurrection.

Maybe in a fantasy world. The January 6th insurrection was about overturning the government, and six people were killed. The NC protests were about getting the legislature to act on gun reform, and no one was in any danger.

You know who should have been expelled from the Tennessee legislature. All the Republican cowards who have yet to do a bloody thing to protect their children from sociopaths with assault weapons. That’s who!

Threats to Impeach Judge Janet Protasiewicz

In Wisconsin, Judge Janet Protasiewicz was just elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, giving the court the ability to determine the legitimacy of the most gerrymandered state in the nation, and also the chance to challenge the state’s ur-alt abortion restrictions. The state’s Republican party is already threatening to impeach her.

Say what?

Aren’t public officials supposed to be impeached for major malfeasance? For doing very bad things? This woman hasn’t even started to serve yet.

In a sane world there would be no talk of impeachment before she has taken office. Of course, if she were to be impeached, Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor could appoint her replacement, so it’s not clear what advantage this strategy would bring.

Clarence Thomas Ethical Violations

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has already proved on many occasions that he does not care about ethics. His wife Ginny is a Republican activist who was very engaged in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. That didn’t prevent Thomas from recusing himself in deciding cases that involved the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

By now it’s also well established that Thomas really did sexually harass Anita Hill, while he was the Director of the EEOC. That’s like the Director of the Internal Revenue Service being convicted of tax fraud. The Senate should have rejected his candidacy, but they had already rejected the candidacy of Robert Bork, and they didn’t think they could reject two candidates in a row. And we’ve been stuck with Thomas, the definition of an Uncle Tom, ever since. (Bork died in 2012 and wouldn’t have voted any worse than Thomas. Clarence, on the other hand, will probably live for another dozen years, and we’ll never be rid of that mother.)

Now it turns out that for almost 20 years Thomas and his wife have been receiving luxury trips from Republican billionaire and mega-donor Harlan Crow. These trips have included cruises on luxury yachts, stays in private resorts, and island hopping in Indonesia. Crow also gave Thomas numerous gifts, including a Bible valued at $19,000 (that once belonged to Frederick Douglass) and a bust of Abraham Lincoln valued at $15,000. At the same time, Crow gave half a million dollars to a Tea Party group founded by Ginni Thomas, which also paid her a $120,000 salary; Crow also served on the Board of Trustees for the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute, which often file amicus briefs before the Supreme Court.

None of these gifts were ever reported on financial disclosure forms.

Thomas responded to the concerns by noting that personal gifts don’t normally need to be disclosed on financial forms. That’s true, of course, but we’re talking about small personal gifts between family and friends, like a pair of cuff links from your children. Or maybe a golf outing at a friend’s country club. Not island hopping off a super-yacht in Indonesia.

But, as we know, there is no explicit code of conduct that governs the Supreme Court, so Thomas can sort of fudge a certain amount of plausible deniability. He claims that nothing judicial was ever discussed.


Maybe not.

How would we ever know? 

Harlan Crow is certainly politically active, and as with so many things with Thomas, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

But watch while Republicans rush to his defense in a way that they never would have done for Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

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