Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida Judge Rules That Residents Have a Right to a Smarter Governor

The Constitution “does not grant you the right to govern a state like a blithering idiot,” the judge said.

(By Andy Borowitz, New Yorker)

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Isn't it amazing that when there is a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, those same people who scream and holler about their individual rights and, in our immediate situation, refuse to help their neighbors by wearing masks, demand immediate action from FEMA? This is one of the things that has always demonstrated to me the utter mendacity and hypocrisy of the Repugnants.

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Y'know, the constitutionality of vaccine mandates is really settled law, and has been for a long time. Look to Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 US 11 (1905), and Zucht v. King, 260 US 174 (1922), that together hold that public health requirements override individual desires, even in the absence of a public health emergency. For these governors, all well equipped with attorneys general, to claim otherwise is starkly disingenuous.

As Justice Harlan wrote in Jacobson, "in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand" and that "[r]eal liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own [liberty], whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others."

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Going to have to sit with this letter for quite some time, not just the issues covered, but the excellent citations and the multitude of responding comments which come from the community that has developed over the past couple of years trying so hard to be informed and make some sense of these critical times we are experiencing.

In my mind I am comparing the image of the Biden government and allies moving heaven and earth to fly tens of thousands of people out of Afghanistan in a coordinated undertaking never before attempted or accomplished, and reports of Hillary Rodham Clinton arranging private flights to remove at risk girls and women, versus the discordant reports of Betsy DeVos' brother, Erik Prince, charging $6500 a person for passage out - representative of both the individualism and opportunity for personal gain in a capitalistic system espoused by the GOP.

Not only has the former guy made comments in praise of the Taliban, but some of the policies being pursued by the GOP would have similar or worse effects on women's rights as those feared in countries such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and the dystopian novels such as The Handmaid's Tale.

One political cartoon portrayed the situation poignantly: Trump handing Biden a grenade labeled Afghanistan and saying "I've already pulled the pin."

I am also distraught by the fact the officer who fired the fatal shot defending the Capitol on January 6 has been identified by name and image, and compound that by the fact it turns out he is African-American. Violent action has already been taken in response to various conspiracies and by white supremacist groups, and they have put this individual and his family at mortal risk.

Any of the officers could have been called upon to do their duty on that day and in that situation. The repeated attacks and called for retribution of anyone who has taken a stand against the Big Lie and defended truth and stood up against tyranny and upheld the Constitution

instead of supporting the former guy or those competing for his base with aspirations for their own presidential run frankly sicken me.

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What a day! Biden kept his promise and the military executed his plan to fight back. Then a judge rules against DeSantis which was wonderful to hear. Unfortunately, he will appeal. Fortunately, he’s losing ground with oeople in his state. Then we see a letter from Republican House member Jim Banks, basically whining that Congress has no right to conduct investigations into private matters that the GOP seems to have had prior to and up to events of 1/6. No tears shed for these guys, but tears and sadness shed for our young Marines who lost their lives as well as the Afghanis they were trying to save.

Again, a reminder that not a single Repub voted for the Voting Rights Act.

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Apparently, Congressman Jim Banks, representing Indiana's Third Congressional District, could not be bothered with going to law school before publishing his letter to Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, arguing that committee subpoenas to telecommunications companies exceeded his authority under the Constitution. He presumes that the subpoenas relating to the individuals who invaded the House of Representatives and Senate in their assault on the Capitol building were in furtherance of a law enforcement effort to identify and prosecute those individuals for insurrection, inference with a governmental function, trespass, and several other federal crimes. That is his assumption, and that assumption is unfounded. As far as the Constitution is concerned, the function of Congress is to legislate, and congressional investigations can be wide-ranging and in great depth in order to fully understand the problem to be addressed by appropriate legislation in the future.

Whoever wrote that letter for Congressman Banks did a shoddy piece of work. Even someone with an undergraduate degree in political science knows, or has reason to know, that Congress's powers of investigation are not nearly so limited. The ongoing investigation is multifaceted, looking into the extent to which the Executive Departments of the Federal Government anticipated the January 6 invasion of the Capitol building, the extent to which they had prior warning about what was to occur, the extent to which they had prior information about who might be involved in planning and executing the assault on the Capitol building, and whether any Member of Congress or staff of the House of Representatives in any way facilitated that assault. Needless to say, Congressman Banks has made every effort to thwart the sort of official inquiry that the House Committee on Homeland Security is currently conducting. From my perspective, is simply another way that the Trump Republicans are abusing the courts to end democratic government as we know it.

I would have thought that Congressman Banks, in preparing his letter, would have hearkened back to his undergraduate years in college when he would have taken the introductory course in government, typically denoted as Political Science 101, which course focuses on the powers of government and how they interrelate. I would also have thought that he might have remembered selected readings and textbooks, old lecture notes, and reference to sources of information that he is privy to now, now that he is a Congressman, that would have edified him as to what Congress's power actually is under the Constitution. Doubtless, he may have remembered something about those studies and lectures he might have attended; but it is equally apparent that there is a great deal that he overlooked, or had not bothered to read, or simply decided not to mention in his letter to Chairman Thompson. Congress has plenary power to investigate what it will if a nexus to potential legislation, however tenuous at the moment that prospective legislation might appear to be. Mr. Banks' letter is certainly not going to derail the investigation; and doubtless, those outside telecommunications companies to whom subpoenas have been forwarded would be ill advised to rely on the shoddy piece of work that Congressman Banks has provided as a fig leaf to cover his obvious political concerns that members of his Republican conference within the House of Representatives were in fact complicit in staging the attack on the Capitol, and with it the House chamber in which Mr. Banks currently serves. Indeed, Congressman Banks, and members of his official staff, are subject to compulsory process to obtain any and all information that they may have had relating to the January 6 invasion. Could it be that Congressman Banks or any of his Republican cohort have reasons to want to suppress the inquiry that bear on their personal responsibility for enabling the January 6 invasion to happen. It would seem so, given the circumstance that a protest on January 6 have been widely advertised, and the Trump supporters from Indiana were known to have participated in the invasion.

Investigation into prospective legislation can go on for years, decades, before legislative draftsmen put pen to paper to prepare legislative proposals, policy statements, compilations of investigative reports, and information pertaining to such formative, even inchoate proposals. The court is going to turn thumbs down because information that might be turned up might prove to be evidence of a crime. Evidence of a crime, conducted in a new and novel way, are preeminently the subjects of pending legislation, even if those legislative proposals are scrawled on yellow legal pads, with scratch outs, and marginalia. It is all legislation.

The fact that Congressman Banks is supplying telecommunications companies and other outside parties with copies of his letter is highly unlikely to change the outcome of the investigation by the House Committee on Homeland Security. Those companies are already being queried by the Federal Bureau of investigation and the Department of Justice. This is simply request for business records maintained by those companies regarding activities by subscribers to services that those companies provide as part of their business. Law enforcement obtains those records every day. There is nothing privileged in those records. A congressional inquiry looking into the depth and breadth of the Capitol building invasion would certainly want to know how widely communications went using communication services provided by the companies to whom subpoenas were directed. In all likelihood, these records link phone calls from one telephone to others, stating the time, date, identity of the caller and recipient, length of call, and other metadata. None of this information will be used for law enforcement purposes, simply because the FBI exercises the same power to make inquiry. In other words, if the FBI is looking to put people in jail for their roles in the assault on the Capitol building; and the House Committee on Homeland Security is looking at the January 6 event on a much broader scope, including the identities of particular groups of people, not necessarily looking at individual members of such groups, it seems clear to me that there is a firm legislative purpose in protecting Homeland security against the domestic terrorism. The way that is done is through legislation, and in order to draft legislation that appropriately addresses the problems and threats to national security, Congress needs to have information that goes to the granular level of how this particular assault was planned, organized, propagated and advertised, and who did it. Congressional investigators and prosecutors may be looking at the same evidence for entirely different purposes. There is nothing to suggest that there is anything nefarious about the fact that Department of Justice investigators, FBI agents, and investigators employed by the Committee on Homeland Security are all conducting their respective inquiries; nor is there anything untoward about intragovernmental communications that share information: they all work for the same people, the American people. Let us keep that in mind. When it comes to the Constitution, the interests of the Republican Party, or any political party, enjoy no special standing. Here the phrase 'country over party' has real meaning. All else is propaganda.

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If you were to graph the extremism and treason gripping the GOP, with the horizontal bar being time and the vertical being degree of extremism/treason. the line over the past 20 years would look like a parabola, and in the past 12 months it would have approached going up at around a 90 degree angle. We are in far more danger from these scum now than we were 12 months ago. The election didn't resolve anything. They become worse and more dangerous by the week.

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It's far more than "individualism" vs "government help". All autocrats use government to help themselves. Republicans have become masters at this. They will take FEMA money, covid19 relief money, military and government contracts, power to stop abortions and to expand gun rights until there is no safety anywhere. But fight giving funds to others, voting rights to others, healthcare protection to others, etc.

It's always been "us" vs "them" for Republicans since Reagan. The change has been that it was once southern Democrats, now they are rebranded Republicans. They may say it's about "individual rights" but it's about their "individual rights", power, benefits & largesse at the expense of all others including now, our democracy, our nation.

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Our news is filled with recriminations over the 13 American soldiers (and sometimes the tens of Afghans) killed during that attack on the withdrawal, coming from the same people who make no sound over the thousand-plus Americans dying needlessly each day of covid-19. The hypocrisy is thick enough to bottle.

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Thank you Heather.

We are in a fix for certain. It is as if there are 2 completely independent governments within this Country. Total division. Us against them.

I do not see the concept of bipartisan in our future. This isn't how I thought life would be like when Biden took office. I think we all agreed it would be rocky at first. I'm back to not wanting to look at the news or read the papers.

I feel what we are seeing in Kabul was a well orchestrated shit storm set up by the last Administration to hobble Biden. I can honestly say that without wearing a tinfoil hat.

When I looked at my phone early this morning I found out a friend lost her son in Kabul. Caleb is one of the 13 souls that fought for this Country. It's heartbreaking.

Be safe, be well. Please put Caleb and his family in your thoughts.

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Thank you for your letters. I recognize that they take a great deal of your time and energy, but they help me focus on national and international events so much more clearly than if I’mleft to my own devices. Enjoy your weekend.

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What can you say after reading such a brilliant, compassionate, and reasonable account of the events that define America these days! It is so exhaustive that any comment would pale by not contributing much to what Heather exposed as the clear truth: about Afghanistan, about Biden, about the GOP weasels, and about the covid situation.

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Governors DeSantis and Abbott remind me of Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy University of Chicago students who kidnapped and murdered 14 year-old Bobby Franks. The two young men thought because of their status and superior intelligence they could get away with “the perfect crime.” Thrill seeking was their main motive. Clarence Darrow was able to finagle a life sentence for them both. Loeb was razor slashed and killed in prison in 1936 and Leopold was paroled in 1958.

DeSantis and Abbott are getting away with the perfect crime. They have within their power to save lives yet choose to lean on “personal responsibility and freedom” to supersede the public safety of their constituents. And now children are being infected and dying in record numbers. A deadly plan by the devil himself couldn’t be more devious. Citizens of Florida and Texas must say to them, “You have your ideals; we have our dead.”

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It should be mentioned that Herbert Hoover of all people, that icon of rectitude, coined the term “rugged individualism”, which has been incorporated into the lexicon of American virtue and used to beat back efforts to allow government to maintain a just and fair society.

As a real American icon has said “America has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor”

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Dear Prof. HCR,

Your expertise in weaving datum, events, facts and historical evidence bring together an intricate tapestry of the US/world stage where we, as spectators, must play the parts of active and involved audience members. I love that you educate us as critically aware spectators who can decipher and piece together the intrigue during these disruptive times.

How you can do all this with a new semester looming, is beyond me. I can barely pull my syllabi together without feeling depleted! All this to say: thank you! You are a life saver in this tragi-comedy of the 22nd century! I almost called it a theatre of the oppressed, but I refuse to see us all as totally suppressed and subservient. After all, you lead us through this political labyrinth with such insight and élan that we are bound to do our part!

P.S., any thoughts on Nafthali Bennett's visit?

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Today's letter is an excellent piece of writing, and a perfect parallel to your thesis in HOW THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR. I am now "devouring" that book at the rate of a chapter a day, with meticulous notes in the margins. So much of our history is finally making sense to me. Confederate ideology moved west only to be re-introduced to the national stage by Goldwater and Reagan, finally reaching a fever pitch with the era of Trump and the Confederate flags at the Jan. 6 insurrection.

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