Archives for category: Fascism

A reader of the blog uses the sobriquet “Democracy” to protect his or her anonymity. His/her comments are always thoughtful.

The attack on public schools — in Virginia and across the country — is not some spontaneous “parent rights” outburst. It’s orchestrated. It’s being funded and set into motion by right-wing “Christians” at the Council for National Policy, a far-right group that had outsized-influence with the Trump administration.

Richard DeVos, husband of Betsy, has been president of CNP twice. Ed Meese, who helped Reagan cover up the Iran-Contra scandal, has been president of CNP. So has Pat Robertson. And Tim LaHaye.

Current and former CNP members include Cleta Mitchell, the Trump lawyer who was on that call to the Georgia Secretary of State demanding that he find Trump more than 11,780 votes, and Charlie Kirk, head of Turning Point USA who bragged about bussing tens of thousands of people to the January 6th ‘Stop the Steal’ rally and insurrection. Two of the top peeps at the Federalist Society, Eugene Meyer and Leonard Leo, are also CNP members. (Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were high priorities for the Federalist Society and for CNP). Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is a member. So is Stephen Moore, the wack-boy “economist” that Trump wanted to appoint to the Federal Reserve but ultimately didn’t because he owed his ex-wife $300,000 in back alimony and child support, and who was an “advisor” Glenn Youngkin in his campaign for Virginia governor even though he’s been dead wrong about virtually all of his economic predictions and who helped Sam Brownback ruin the economy of Kansas.

The Council for National Policy is interconnected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network and Tea Party Patriots and a host of other right-wing groups. This is – in fact – the vast “right-wing conspiracy” that Hillary Clinton complained about. Glenn Youngkin made himself all very much a part of this.

Did this “new” Republican Southern Strategy work? Well, Youngkin won the Virginia governorship, and exit polls showed that Youngkin won 62 percent of white voters, and 76 percent of non-college graduate whites. And, Youngkin got way more of the non-college white women votes (75 percent) than his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe.

Here’s how the NY Times explained it:

“Republicans have moved to galvanize crucial groups of voters around what the party calls ‘parental rights’ issues in public schools, a hodgepodge of conservative causes ranging from eradicating mask mandates to demanding changes to the way children are taught about racism…Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate in Virginia, stoked the resentment and fear of white voters, alarmed by efforts to teach a more critical history of racism in America…he released an ad that was a throwback to the days of banning books, highlighting objections by a white mother and her high-school-age son to ‘Beloved,’ the canonical novel about slavery by the Black Nobel laureate Toni Morrison…the conservative news media and Republican candidates stirred the stew of anxieties and racial resentments that animate the party’s base — thundering about equity initiatives, books with sexual content and transgender students on sports teams.”

Republicans and racism. Who knew?

Lots of people.

Yale historian David Blight put it this way:

“Changing demographics and 15 million new voters drawn into the electorate by Obama in 2008 have scared Republicans—now largely the white people’s party—into fearing for their existence. With voter ID laws, reduced polling places and days, voter roll purges, restrictions on mail-in voting, an evisceration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and a constant rant about ‘voter fraud’ without evidence, Republicans have soiled our electoral system with undemocratic skullduggery…The Republican Party has become a new kind of Confederacy.”

And this Republican “Confederacy” hates public education.

Protestors calling themselves Dream Defenders occupied Governor Ron DeSantis’ office for a few hours today. They were arrested and removed by the police. Their goal was to call attention to his hateful policies.

Dream defenders Arrested Press Release

For Immediate Release

May 3, 2023

Akin Olla, (862)-202-5697‬,



Members of Dream Defenders and Allies Arrested by Police Using Rule Created to Target Them Specifically

Fourteen members of the Dream Defenders and allied organizations, including the HOPE Community Center, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Equality Florida, Florida Rising, and others were arrested by dozens of police from the Capitol Police and Florida Highway Patrol after occupying the office of Ron DeSantis. Police used the “Dream Defenders rule” to justify their removal from public property, which was created after their 2013 occupation of the statehouse to protest the murder of Trayvon Martin. The rule bans being in the Florida Capitol outside of operating hours. Reporters trying to capture the arrests were also removed, including one USA Today Professor who was forcibly removed by a police officer.

“Gov. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have chosen to attack many of Florida’s most vulnerable and historically marginalized communities with policies that attack who they are, who they love and how and what they learn,” said Dwight Bullard, Sr. Political Advisor at Florida Rising who was arrested during the protest.

The Dream Defenders planned the sit-in as part of a national protest called Freedom to Learn. The protest addressed the many issues facing Floridians, and called for a meeting with DeSantis to share the impact the legislative session has had on communities. Speakers used the 7-point platform, The Freedom Papers as a guide for their action, painting an alternative vision for the country to the agenda of extremist politicians like DeSantis. The Freedom Papers were created out of a process that engaged thousands of Floridians about their community’s most pressing needs.

“By virtue of being born, we are entitled to a real dignified democracy that gives us a say on our blocks, in our cities, in our schools, and the places we work,” said Nailah Summers-Polite, co-director of Dream Defenders and the first to be arrested.

“This is not a singular issue situation, this is the culmination of every repressive piece of legislation that has been passed this session. We need him to care for the people and not a cultural agenda to win his way to the presidency,” said Jamil Davis, Florida state organizing manager of Black Voters Matter.

“We need to build a national movement against Ron DeSantis, but to fight people like him all over the country. We need to unite and protect the little democracy we have left after centuries of domination by corporations and slave holders,” said Rachel Gilmer, Director of the Healing Justice Center, which works to treat the root causes of gun violence. “We will hold this space until DeSantis faces us and exposes himself as the racist neo-confederate that he is.”

Videos and Pictures here:
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Today was a big day in the Florida legislature, where GOP legislators are busy banning and defunding whatever they don’t like. DEI is the WOKE enemy of the moment. Professors who teach about racism or sexism need not apply.

TALLAHASSEE — As Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies target “woke” ideology, the Florida House on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that includes preventing colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

The bill (SB 266), which now will go to DeSantis, touched off a fierce debate about Florida’s higher-education system and campus speech.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion, like so many other terms adopted by the woke left, is being used as a club to silence things, to say that if you don’t agree with them, you are somehow racist or homophobic or whatever other word that you want to use to criticize people,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County. “The fact of the matter is these terms have been hijacked by those who want to use them to bully and use them to shut down debate, to actually do the opposite of what these words are supposed to do.”

But bill critics said diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are important and that the legislation will drive away top faculty members and students.

According to Wikipedia, Justice Louis Brandeis popularized the use of the term “laboratories of democracy” to describe progressive states.

Laboratories of democracy is a phrase popularized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann to describe how “a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”[

Florida is now controlled by religious extremists who do not hesitate to impose their personal beliefs on others. Florida is our very own “laboratory of fascism,” where the governor and the legislature pass laws to limit the rights and benefits of their people. I will continue to follow the trajectory of nascent fascism in the Sunshine State because other Republican-controlled states see it as a model.

Today, the Florida Senate expanded the “Don’t Say Bill,” requiring teachers to use pronouns that correspond to their students’ biological gender. Surely, given the tiny number of transgender students in the schools (1%?), this cannot be an urgent problem requiring legislation. But Florida legislators have boldly restricted pronoun usage and made it easier to ban books.

In one of the most controversial education issues of the 2023 legislative session, the Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a measure that would expand last year’s “Parental Rights in Education” law — known to critics as “don’t say gay.”

The bill, which is ready to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, also seeks to restrict the way teachers and students can use their preferred pronouns in schools, a provision that has drawn ire from LGBTQ-advocacy groups.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-12 along party lines to pass the bill (HB 1069), with Democrats arguing the measure is an effort to “legislate away the gay.” The House voted 77-35 to pass the bill last month. DeSantis is expected to sign it.

The Senate extended the Don’t Say Gay law from K-3 to K-8.

But Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, said the bill “marginalizes children” and represents an insult to teachers.

“This bill insults the professionalism of educators. It takes away freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom to be treated equally in our public schools,” Book said.

Wednesday’s vote came after the State Board of Education last month approved a rule change that largely prohibited instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades. The rule dealt with an educators’ code of conduct and spelled out that teachers could face suspension or revocation of their educator certificates for violations of the rule…

The bill also would require that it “shall be the policy” of every public school that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”

Teachers and other school employees would be prohibited from telling students their preferred pronouns and would be barred from asking students about their preferred pronouns….

The law goes on to make it easier to ban books.

The bill also would build on another controversial 2022 law that increased scrutiny of school-library books and instructional materials. The bill, in part, would take steps to make the process of objecting to books and instructional materials easier…

In instances where an objection is made based on possible pornographic content or material that “describes sexual conduct,” the bill would require the materials to be removed from schools within five days of the objection and “remain unavailable to students of that school until the objection is resolved.”

Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, described that part of the bill as a “ban-first, review-later” policy.

Mercedes Schneider points out that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis believes he can win over the Republican base by turning stuff he doesn’t like into felonies. With so many new laws on the books that carry criminal penalties, Florida will need more prison cells.

Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, and the Republican supermajority in the Florida House and Senate are passing incredibly extreme, right-wing legislation, which will surely help DeSantis to curry favor with an extreme, right-wing Republican base in order for DeSantis to become Republican nominee for president in 2024….

Imposing felonies seems to be the legislative way in Florida of late; as a result of a new law in January 2023, the state’s teachers, librarians, and other school officials are packing up library books for fear of being charged with a third-degree felony for allowing the public access to non-government-approved books. But freedomand liberty.

The abortion ban cited above imposes possible third-degree felonies for any medical professional who assists, say, a woman who discovers at 10 weeks that her fetus has no skull. According to DeSantis’ law, since this woman’s life is not in danger, she should (must!) carry the pregnancy to term and give birth to a child without a skull (a child with a 5 percent chance of living one full week and no more).

Surely such cruelty is not good for any forthcoming DeSantis-as-Prez campaign.

A man who sneaks into town to sign such a bill into law under cover of darkness surely knows as much….

So, here’s the rub:

In order to get the Republican nomination, DeSantis needs all of this punitive, “felony” legislation. However, in order to win the presidential election, such fascist extremism is DOA.

Republican megadonors are noticing DeSantis’ extremism.

On April 15, 2023, the Financial Times published an article, entitled, “Top Republican Donor Sours on Florida Governor’s Stance on Social Issues.” From the article:

Top Republican donor Thomas Peterffy [worth $26B] is halting plans to help finance the US presidential bid of Florida governor Ron DeSantis due to his extreme positions on social issues. 

“I have put myself on hold,” the billionaire told the Financial Times. 

“Because of his stance on abortion and book banning . . . myself, and a bunch of friends, are holding our powder dry.” …

In January, Peterffy told the FT that he was a fan of DeSantis and was “looking forward” to backing a presidential bid by the governor.

But now, he says: “I am more reluctant to back him. We are waiting to see who among the primary candidates is most likely to be able to win the general, and then put all of our firepower behind them.”

Ahh, the DeSantis quandary: How to sell out to the base and also win the general election?

Might be a good idea to sign into law Florida legislation that does not include the words, “third-degree felony.”

Scott Maxwell, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, reports on Orwellian legislation that has been proposed by conservative elected officials. These officials don’t want professors to teach about racism. It is sure to be divisive and make someone uncomfortable. Thus they find it necessary to ban “teaching theories that suggest “systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” This is a recent addition to the state’s higher education bill (SB 266).

This legislation is intended to shield students from unpleasant facts.

Students should not be taught about the origin of Florida’s law (recently revised) that did not allow former felons to vote, ever.

Maxwell writes:

That policy was instituted in the wake of the U.S. Civil War by Florida politicians who were, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, trying to stop the state from becoming too “n*ggerized.”

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, an African American Democrat who founded Orlando’s Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture, said the goal of the legislation is to distort history so students will never learn the history of systemic racism. Nor will they learn that the University of Florida did not admit Black students for its first 100 years. Legislators want to bury those facts, as they want to bury the history of lynchings and massacres. Nor do they want students to learn about the unequal sentences imposed on Blacks and whites convicted of the same crimes.

There were examples galore. Like two 17-year-olds in Lee County who were both charged with robbing gas stations with guns. Both had precisely three prior records as juveniles. Both made off with a few hundred bucks. The Black teen got four years in prison. The White one avoided prison altogether…

Thompson actually floated a legislative proposal to more thoroughly study the discrepancies found in the Herald-Tribune’s “Bias on the Bench” series to get more complete numbers and see what, if anything, needed fixing. Her idea was rejected.

Then, the Florida Supreme Court went a step further, curtailing “fairness and diversity” training for Florida judges.

This seems to be the new Florida way for handling systemic inequality. First, you nix efforts to fix it. Then you try to ban even discussing it.

The actual language in the higher-ed censorship proposal is a hot mess, full of nebulous catch phrases and vague bans, forbidding curriculum that, for example, “teaches identity politics,” as if that’s a statutorily defined thing.

The goal seems to be to generally chill speech, so that no one’s quite clear what they’re allowed to teach…

Thompson noted that the chilling effects are already happening with Florida schools canceling classes that they fear might offend legislators.

Teaching students actual history and sharing with them concrete contemporary data isn’t unpatriotic. Trying to stop or censor that is.

As Ron DeSantis and his compliant legislature tightens their control of tenure and academic freedom in the state’s public universities, many of the faculty at the private University of Miami have joined to protest the attack on their colleagues.

It has long been said that the states are “laboratories of democracy.” If you wonder why I post so much about Florida, it is because it has become a “laboratory of fascism,” where the state’s leadership is intent on controlling thought and expression, research and study.

Nearly 1,000 faculty, staff and students at the University of Miami have signed an open letter opposing a state bill moving through the Florida Legislature that they say is an “unprecedented attempt to exert political control over free thought and professional expertise in higher education.”

As a private university, UM isn’t funded or governed by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the 12 public universities in the state. As such, it wouldn’t be affected by House Bill 999, and its companion Senate Bill 266, which could make it harder for professors to hold onto tenure and would give university presidents the authority to hire and fire faculty, instead of deans, department chairs and faculty committees currently making those decisions.

Because of these proposals and others in the bills, some of UM’s faculty, staff and students are “standing in solidarity” with their counterparts at Florida International University and the state’s other public universities.

“We affirm our commitment to the principles and practices of academic freedom and shared governance in all Florida institutions of higher education, whether public or private,” reads the missive, which a small group of UM faculty members started in early April and now want to share with as many people as possible, particularly elected officials…

Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at UM, said she stamped her name on the open letter because she sees the bills as an attack not only on education, but on democracy.

“I’m incredibly angry, and I’m concerned for students everywhere, and I’m particularly saddened for my fellow faculty members at public universities,” she said. “Florida is becoming known as a state where intellectual freedom goes to die.”

Read more at:

The Florida Legislature passed amendments to laws today to revoke Disney’s efforts to escape the control of Governor Ron DeSantis. The governor was outraged because Disney openly opposed his “Don’t Say Gay” law. He got the legislature to dissolve Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek district. But before the legislature acted, Disney made an agreement with its own Reedy Creek district board to extend its control for decades.

DeSantis’s new board met today and began the takeover process, raising Disney’s taxes. The legislature acted to void Disney’s efforts to extend its own control. The new law will lead to legal challenges.

Imagine, if you dare, a DeSantis presidency. Any corporation that dared to disagree with his multiple prejudices would be singled out for spiteful treatment. DeSantis is a mean, angry, hateful wannabee dictator. Woe to those who dare to challenge him.

Florida legislators on Wednesday quickly responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to retroactively invalidate an agreement between Walt Disney World and its special taxing district, adopting amendments despite warnings that the proposal will not withstand a constitutional challenge.

The Florida State Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules Committee each added an amendment to bills regulating land use and development regulations that requires the DeSantis-appointed board overseeing all of Disney’s parks and resorts to vote on the Disney agreement that limits the authority of the governor’s new supervisors to infrastructure and taxing issues.

The move came on the same day the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors met and announced a series of proposals that will require the governing board whose revenues come from Disney to raise taxes on itself.

Under the amendments added to SB 1604 and HB 439, special districts would be prohibited from complying with development agreements executed three months or less before new laws take effect that change how district board members are selected.

The amendment also would give new boards four months to review any development agreements and decide if they should be re-adopted. “The Legislature sets up special districts and allows them, and therefore we should be able to change how we think some of those things need to happen as we move forward,’’ said Rep. Stan McClain, R-Ocala, the sponsor of the House amendment.


But Democrats, who have for years criticized Republican lawmakers for their willingness to give Walt Disney World favorable treatment, said the amendments now appeared to be singling out the company for punitive treatment.

They warned that if passed, the provision would violate the Constitution. “I’m all about corporate accountability, but this isn’t it,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. “And it continues to be a distraction for us to focus on real life issues by continuing the Disney versus DeSantis drama.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said he worried the amendment would “set a very bad precedent” that “opens up the floodgates” for future legislatures. He said the Disney-backed district appears to have “operated within the law, and this shouldn’t be how we govern.”

Both McClain and the Senate sponsor, Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, were asked if they could name other special districts to which the law would apply and how many would be affected. Neither could answer.

“I’m not sure how many, but I can think of one,’’ Ingoglia told the Senate Rules Committee, referring to the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The amendments come after DeSantis announced there would be “more to come” in his war against Disney, the largest single-site employer in the United States with 75,000 workers and an economic linchpin of the state’s tourism industry.


Last year, DeSantis wanted to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special taxing district created in 1967 to pay for municipal services to the 39-square-mile area where Disney built its theme parks, hotels and resort areas at a time when the nearest urban development was more than 16 miles away.

After Disney officials voiced opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which prohibited classroom instruction on gender identity issues in certain grades, legislators rushed through a bill to dissolve the district.

But, after it became law, Disney quietly pointed to another state law that requires the state to pay for any outstanding debts before a special district is dissolved and, if the district were to be dismantled as the governor wanted, it would cost Florida taxpayers nearly $1 billion.

Lawmakers returned in special session in February, repealed the law dissolving the district and replaced it with a plan to allow the governor to appoint the district’s governing board.

But, before that law could take effect, Disney outmaneuvered the state by adopting a series of development agreement and restrictive covenants that undermined the authority of the DeSantis-appointed board. Invalidating those agreements, however, is expected to be a lengthy legal fight.

At its meeting on Wednesday, Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board voted to void the agreements with no discussion. But because state and federal contract law may create legal obstacles to that decision, the legislation attempts to help them achieve the goal.

In the House, McClain had difficulty explaining the amendment under questioning from Eskamani. “The Florida Constitution says we can’t pass retroactive laws impairing contracts. Can you explain how is your amendment constitutional?’’ she asked. “Obviously this would be a new law,’’ McClain answered.

Read more at:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is going after Disney again, trying to prove he’s a tough guy. He is angry at Disney because the corporation—Florida’s largest employer—issued a statement opposing the Governor’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

First, DeSantis retaliated by dissolving the Reedy Creek District, a special self-governing district controlled by Disney, which supplies all services to Disney’s theme park. DeSantis created a new board called the Central Florida Oversight District Board of Supervisors to oversee the district, packed with his cronies.

But before the legislation passed, Disney quietly held public meetings and granted its district decades of future control.

Outraged, DeSantis threatened to increase hotel taxes and put tolls on the roads to Disney. He also told the State Attorney General to investigate Disney. Not a nice way to treat the state’s biggest employer.

Now he is wreaking vengeance again:

The Disney versus DeSantis fight headed into round three on Monday as Florida’s governor announced that the Florida Legislature will revoke the last-minute development agreements that undercut the authority of the governor-controlled board and unleashed a litany of retributive efforts aimed at to the powerful corporation.

“We want to make sure that that Disney lives under the same laws as everybody else,’’ said Gov. Ron DeSantis at the headquarters of the Reedy Creek Improvement District near Orlando.

DeSantis said he has authorized state agencies to increase regulatory oversight over Disney operations, such as the monorail and amusement rides. He suggested the DeSantis-controlled oversight board could use undeveloped land not owned by Disney for other purposes.

“Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks,’’ he said. “Someone even said like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.”

The announcement comes two days before the newly-named Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s Board of Supervisors is scheduled to review a new proposal to strengthen its authority over planning, zoning and land development regulations for the special taxing district that operates the 39-square-mile property on which Walt Disney World exists.

DeSantis must be terrifying every big corporation in the nation. This is a guy who puts his nose into corporate governance; he is also hostile to corporations that embrace equity, diversity and inclusion programs and environmental policies.

His desire to exercise political control over private corporations will not win new friends for him except his yahoo base.

Steve Hinnefeld writes about a threat in Indiana to ban books and to criminalize librarians who allow anyone to check out a banned book.

Hat’s off to Indiana’s librarians. They turned out in force last week when legislators considered making it easier to ban books and prosecute people who provide material that’s “harmful to minors.” And they pushed back when lawmakers suggested they didn’t know what they were saying.

The legislation was written and ready to roll. For now, though, it’s off the table. Steve warns that it could be attached to another bill. Hoosier librarians are watching.