Scott Hardie | April 21, 2022
If you're not aware of the kerfuffle between Florida governor Ron DeSantis and the Disney corporation, this article sums it up.

Speaking as a longtime Floridian, longtime Disney follower, and former insider about Florida tourism, let me say how insane it is that this corporation is beefing with this state government. The amount of tax revenue that the company generates and the amount of leeway that they have enjoyed in return have always been off-the-charts; no other company has wielded anywhere near that much influence. Disney has enjoyed all kinds of perks over the years, from a no-fly zone over the theme parks (barring emergencies like medevac) so that aircraft noise doesn't bother guests, to single-handedly killing the high-speed Tampa-to-Orlando rail because the project board wouldn't agree to a stop at Disney World and no stops at SeaWorld or Universal Studios. The idea that either of these parties would ever want to go against one another after so many years of fruitful partnership is just... unprecedented. And on top of that, the party in charge of state government right now happens to be the Republican party, which is supposedly pro business and pro tax relief, which their recent change about Reedy Creek defies.

There are all kinds of ulterior motives that might inform the Reedy Creek changes, from Disney suspending political campaign contributions (which shouldn't even be legal imho but that's another discussion), to this being mere political theater because DeSantis is positioning himself for a presidential campaign (and also quietly deflecting attention from other shitty things he's doing). But what irks me is the publicly stated reason: That the company dared speak out against the "Don't Say Gay" bill, and is being punished for it.

Yes, that's right. A government is openly punishing a company for expressing an opinion critical of it. This is legal depending on your interpretation of the Florida constitution, which has an equivalent of the federal constitution's first amendment: "Every person may speak, write and publish sentiments on all subjects but shall be responsible for the abuse of that right. No law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press." You see, DeSantis and his allies in the legislature aren't banning Disney or its CEO from criticizing the law; they're just holding them responsible for abusing their right to criticize the law.

This shit scares me. The "Don't Say Gay" law, as rightly criticized as I think it is, is a fairly normal Republican law. As I've said elsewhere, DeSantis has done other normal Republican things that don't bother me even though I disagree with them. But this authoritarian stuff, coming down hard, unprecedentedly hard, on anyone who dares criticize him? That's not normal, not at all. It sends a chill through me. The fact that it keeps making him more popular every time sends another chill through me.

How has the world forgotten the severe danger of dictators and fascists having complete control of their local economies and industries, and abusing their power to suppress all criticism and opposition? I feel like this is a childhood social studies lesson that every American ought to know in their bones. It was the very stuff that our nation supposedly opposed in principle, as far as I was taught. And now "patriots" embrace it and cheer it on? I can scarcely think of anything less patriotic. Of course, the tilt towards authoritarianism is not just in Florida and America, it's all over the world in recent years; just ask Viktor Orbán and Marine Le Pen. I simply can't wrap my head around how so many people seem to have forgotten what evil looks like and want to vote it back into power again.

Your thoughts?

Steve West | April 21, 2022
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

Samir Mehta | April 22, 2022
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Scott Hardie | April 22, 2022

What is the party? It used to be blithely pro-business and pro "traditional values". What is it now?
It's still for that stuff at the ground level. There are still GOP politicians running in smaller races on pocketbook issues and positive imagery. But the noisy circus drowns them out. It's similar with Democrats, who are obsessively consumed with race and gender issues at the highest level despite the less symbolic and more grounded policies the party used to pursue, and still does in quieter corners. I'm so disappointed every time I see national Democrats focus nobly but fatally on these issues again and again. Some Democrat -- Pelosi? I forget who -- recently gave a speech in which she referred to them once again as "the party of the working man," and I just busted out laughing, because how Democrats still see themselves is wildly out of line with how everybody else now sees them.

The only thing exciting to me about the world we're entering into is that it's truly a new era in history. I was raised with the expectation that the global liberal order, the Western worldview created in the wake of WWII, was going to last for at least the rest of my life, and I didn't expect to see significant changes in the world. I once thought that the changes in the wake of 9/11 might be the biggest geopolitical turning point that I'd live to see. But that "excitement" is as far as it goes for me. This lurch into authoritarianism and nationalism has already proven very dangerous in history, and it's coming at the worst possible time, when the world needs cooperation and mutual trust in order to solve climate change. We're climatologically doomed to extinction if we don't end this isolationist nonsense and learn to work together again, but things are trending further and further away from that.

Samir Mehta | April 22, 2022
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