Thursday, March 30, 2023

The Mouse that Roared

It looks like in the long running feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney, that the mouse may have just pulled a fast one right out of the GOP's playbook. For those unfamiliar with the whole thing, the unpleasantness began when Disney had the temerity to publicly criticize DeSantis for his legislation that restricts discussion of mature subjects, like sex and sexual orientation among very young children in schools. FTR I strongly support it. There is no justification for discussing that kind of stuff with third graders or younger, which is what was in the bill. Disney, long a close ally of the Alphabet People, publicly criticized the bill. And that was enough to put the mouse in the crosshairs of Florida's notoriously thin-skinned governor who has a reputation for holding grudges and wielding the power of the state against those who dare to cross him. Personally, I think Disney is dead wrong here. But I tend to take that view of most liberals on most political issues. 

What disturbs me, and quite a few others, was the absolutely naked use of state power to retaliate against a business for daring to publicly disagree with him on a matter of public policy. DeSantis and his allies in the GOP dominated state legislature quickly rammed through a bill that stripped Disney, Florida's by far largest private sector employer, of special considerations it had long enjoyed including relative autonomy over its land and parks for the purposes of municipal governance. A special board that handled those things was to be dissolved and replaced by a new one, that would be composed of appointees of the governor with his allies crowing that this was going to be the end of Disney's ability to promote left of center practices in its parks, employment practices and corporate culture. 

During all of this Disney remained relatively quiet. But behind the scenes, they were plotting. 

Shortly before the old board's official date of expiration arrived, they formally ceded most of their powers and authority to Disney. The new board, hand picked by DeSantis, effectively has been stripped of any actual power over Disney, its land and parks. And boy are people ticked. The governor's allies in Tallahassee are questioning the legality of the move and vowing to overturn it. But FWIW sources at Disney, both on and off the record, are sounding pretty confident that they dotted all the legal eyes and crossed the tees. They even put in a special clause to prevent a court challenge on the basis of "perpetuity" issues. Technically, the cession of governing authority is not perpetual. In order to avoid that trap, Disney inserted a clause frequently used in British contracts by setting the expiration at "21 years following the death of the last currently living descendent of King Charles III." If any of Charles' grandchildren live into their 80s this could be in force for at least the next 100 years. 

Where did Disney come up with this idea? Oddly, the GOP has been doing it for years. In a number of states, North Carolina being a prominent example, when the Republicans have lost an election for statewide office that they cared about, but they currently still controlled the legislature and the governor's mansion, they would rush through bills in the lame duck sessions vastly curtailing the powers of the office that the Democrats were about to gain. Predictably this has almost always ended up in court battles with mixed results. 

My guess is that this too will end up in court. It's possible the GOP may try to pass a special bill nullifying the transfer of powers. But I don't see anything definitive happening soon. Even if it gets overturned, and that's a big "if," this fight could easily drag on for years. At least for the moment, Disney has thwarted DeSantis in a state that he virtually owns. And that is no small accomplishment.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Liberal Maverick Fighting Race-Based Affirmative Action

Old school American liberalism had little to do with the balkanization of America into varying, and often competing groups of victims based on race, ethnicity and gender/orientation. It was all about making sure that the working man got a fair wage, a safe place to work, decent schools for his kids and the reasonable hope that they might grow up to enjoy a better life than he had. And if perchance some misfortune should befall the family beyond the means of extended family or charity to take care of them, the government would make sufficient provision to help keep body and soul together until things stabilized and the family was able to again become self-sufficient. In other words, it was bread and butter issues. Today's wokery would be completely alien to FDR and Harry Truman. I found this to be...

Well worth a read.

Reparations for Black Californians could top $800 billion

SAN FRANCISCO -- It could cost California more than $800 billion to compensate Black residents for generations of over-policing, disproportionate incarceration and housing discrimination, economists have told a state panel considering reparations.

The preliminary estimate is more than 2.5 times California's $300 billion annual budget, and does not include a recommended $1 million per older Black resident for health disparities that have shortened their average life span. Nor does the figure count compensating people for property unjustly taken by the government or devaluing Black businesses, two other harms the task force says the state perpetuated.

Black residents may not receive cash payments anytime soon, if ever, because the state may never adopt the economists' calculations. The reparations task force is scheduled to discuss the numbers Wednesday and can vote to adopt the suggestions or come up with its own figures. The proposed number comes from a consulting team of five economists and policy experts.

Read the rest here.

California; the world's largest lunatic asylum masquerading as a state. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Rare Film Documentary of the Opening of Vatican II

I think most readers of this blog will agree that Vatican II, based on its fruits, was a near unmitigated catastrophe for the Roman Church. But this film footage, most of which I have never seen, is quite extraordinary and shows some of the ceremonial of the pre-conciliar papacy. On a side note John XXIII looks exhausted and unwell as he is being carried about on the sedia gestatoria.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Arrest Warrant Issued for Vladimir Putin for War Crimes

THE HAGUE (AP) — The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.

The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

It also issued a warrant Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.

The ICC said that its pre-trial chamber found there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”

On Thursday, a U.N.-backed inquiry cited Russian attacks against civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and killing in occupied regions, among potential issues that amount to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Roman Catholic Church is going mad

What the hell is going on?

(HT Dr. Tighe)

Are there really no small 'o' orthodox Catholic bishops left? Is there not a single Catholic bishop who grasps the danger and is prepared to call this out for what it is, heresy and schism? It's obvious to a convention of the blind, that Francis is not going to do his job. Why aren't the bishops organizing an emergency synod to deal with this? Gather a large number of pointy hats and issue a joint declaration stating point blank that the German church is a micro inch from full schism and if they actually follow up on any of their heretical proclamations, that the signers of the declaration will break communion with them and anyone who supports them. 

Russia says it does not recognise Hague court amid reports of arrest warrants

Moscow has said it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the international criminal court in The Hague, after reports that the court is expected to seek its first arrest warrants against Russian individuals over the war in Ukraine.

“We do not recognise this court; we do not recognise its jurisdiction,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday morning.

The New York Times and Reuters news agency reported on Monday that the prosecutor at the international criminal court (ICC) would formally open two war crimes cases and issue arrest warrants for several Russians deemed responsible for the mass abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 13, 2023

And now for some (rare) good news from Washington

There are signs of a thaw in the ice-cold relationship between the leadership of the two parties in the House of Representatives. The relationship, to the extent there was one, between Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi, his predecessor as Speaker of the House, was notoriously chilly and at times downright acrimonious. Since taking the Speaker's gavel, and despite being ideological opposites, McCarthy has been working with Pelosi's successor Hakeem Jeffries to try and repair lines of communication between the leadership of the two parties. This has included reviving old school courtesies like actually giving the minority party a heads up on upcoming legislation and consulting them on important items involving the House as a whole. It's early days but people on both sides of the aisle are noting the signs of a detente with cautious optimism.

Details here.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Pope Francis describes gender politics as "ideological colonization"

Pope Francis has said that gender ideology is “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations” today.

In an interview with journalist Elisabetta Piqué for the Argentine daily newspaper La Nación, Pope Francis explained the reasoning behind his strong statement.

“Gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations,” Francis said in the interview published on the evening of March 10.

“Why is it dangerous? Because it blurs differences and the value of men and women,” he added.

“All humanity is the tension of differences. It is to grow through the tension of differences. The question of gender is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all dull, all alike, and that is contrary to the human vocation.”

Pope Francis has frequently used the term “ideological colonization” throughout the 10 years of his pontificate, particularly to describe instances when aid money for developing countries has been tied to contraceptives, abortion, sterilization, and gender ideologies.

Read the rest here.

Proof that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Fact check: Trump delivers wildly dishonest speech at CPAC

As president, Donald Trump made some of his most thoroughly dishonest speeches at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

As he embarks on another campaign for the presidency, Trump delivered another CPAC doozy Saturday night.

Trump’s lengthy address to the right-wing gathering in Maryland was filled with wildly inaccurate claims about his own presidency, Joe Biden’s presidency, foreign affairs, crime, elections and other subjects.

Here is a fact check of 23 of the false claims Trump made. (And that’s far from the total.)

Read it all here.

Trump reminds me of a famous line about another robber baron from a different era, Jay Gould. "If he is speaking, he is lying. And if he is silent, he is stealing."

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Are Left Wing Campuses Pushing Some Students to the Right?

In the not-so-distant past, the Typical College Republican idolized Ronald Reagan, fretted about the national debt and read Edmund Burke. Political sophistication, to that person, implied belief in the status quo.

For that bygone breed, an education at an elite institution was a moderating finishing school. Even then American universities skewed liberal, but the conservatives of old had real opportunities to make their case — and have their ideas respectfully challenged — in the public square. At my own school, Princeton, I’ve been told, politics were mostly separable from personal relationships.

How things have changed.

Today’s campus conservatives embrace a less moderate, complacent and institutional approach to politics. Instead of belief in the status quo, many tend toward scorched-earth politics. But these changes aren’t solely the consequence of a fractured national politics.

They’re also the result of puritanically progressive campuses that alienate conservative students from their liberal peers and college as a whole. The distrust of authority, the protest and the disobedience that have characterized the left’s activism over the past half-century or so have arrived on the right. The American universities that once served as moderating finishing schools have become breeding grounds for conservative firebrands.

The story of this transformation, according to the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, starts around 2014, when Gen Z arrived on campus. The new progressive students were less tolerant of heterodox ideas and individuals. Demands to rescind invitations to speakers seemed to spike. The terms “microaggression” and “trigger warning” made it into everyday campus parlance. At Yale, for instance, a lecturer’s suggestion that students should determine which Halloween costumes are acceptable for themselves ignited a firestorm.

These changes were felt on my campus, too. “Princeton has become a much more politicized place over the last 10 years,” said Thomas Kelly, a philosophy professor. It’s also become more progressive. Diversity training sessions blatantly endorse progressive ideas: Espousing a colorblind ideal, for example, is deemed a “microinvalidation.” Bureaucrats police conduct and speech. Many programs cater to left-wing causes.

For those on the right, the experience is alienating. The typical American’s views on gender ideology or American history are often irrelevant to his or her day-to-day life. But for the conservative college student, life is punctuated by political checkpoints. Classes may begin with requests for “preferred pronouns” or “land acknowledgments.” A student who jokes about the wrong subject might face social punishment. All students should welcome challenges to their most cherished beliefs, but from what I’ve seen on campus, students are not invited to debate; they are expected to conform.

Read the rest here.