Governors who run for president are in the enviable position of holding up their accomplishments and promising to do more of the same on a national level. That is literally the basis of Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis‘ presidential campaign. He promised to “Make America Florida.”
But as the DeSantis presidential campaign sputters and flails, with the Florida Republican firing campaign staff amid heavy spending and weak poll numbers, the governor continues to campaign on the promise of turning America into a version of what he likes to call the “free state of Florida.”
How are things in the free state of Florida?
While inflation has plummeted to a mere 3% nationally, down from over 9% just one year ago, Florida’s inflation is the highest in the country, more than double the national average, with several metro areas labeled inflation “hot spots” thanks in large part to housing woes. The Florida housing crisis stems from massive home owners insurance hikes, and DeSantis’ focus on chasing undocumented workers out of the Sunshine State. One year ago in May, CBS News labeled Florida “the least affordable place to live in the U.S.”
To great concern from critics last year, DeSantis restarted the Florida State Guard, an entity first created in 1941 that his predecessors effectively shut down. Lawmakers handed him an initial $10 million. Earlier this month Florida lawmakers hiked their initial approval from 400 troops to 1500.
In announcing he was reconstituting the Florida State Guard, DeSantis suggested its purpose was “to respond to a projected active hurricane season,” and added: “In a natural disaster-prone state such as Florida with a potentially active hurricane season on the horizon, there is a clear and present need for a larger civilian emergency response force.”
That claim is repeated on the Florida State Guard’s official government website.
“In a state that battles hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and more every year, we are prepared for whatever mother nature may bring,” the front page of the Florida State Guard’s website reads.
“Funded at the state level, the Florida State Guard partners with the Florida National Guard and other disaster response agencies to respond quickly and ensure that communities are provided with humanitarian assistance and disaster response services they desperately need. The Florida State Guard is able to stay longer than the National Guard, at the discretion of the Governor, to provide humanitarian and disaster response services over a greater period of time—allowing the National Guard to return to other duties. The two forces complement each other.”
Despite that very publicly-stated focus, the veterans DeSantis’ State Guard hired are quitting, with some saying they are being trained as a paramilitary force, a joint report from the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times states.
“According to records reviewed by the Herald/Times and interviews with program volunteers, a number of recruits quit after the first training class last month because they feared it was becoming too militaristic.”
Many of the recruits are veterans from the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Weeks into that inaugural June training, one volunteer, a disabled retired Marine Corps captain, called the local sheriff’s office to report he was battered by Florida National Guard instructors when they forcibly shoved him into a van after he questioned the program and its leadership,” the report states.
Major General John D. Haas, Florida’s adjutant general overseeing the Florida National Guard, the Herald reported, in a statement “said the State Guard was a ‘military organization’ that will be used not just for emergencies but for ‘aiding law enforcement with riots and illegal immigration.'”
A retired 20-year Navy veteran, Brian Newhouse, told the Herald: “The program got hijacked and turned into something that we were trying to stay away from: a militia.”
“On the first day of training,” the report states, “Newhouse said he was escorted off the base after lodging several complaints, including that the National Guard’s schedule required training on Sundays, instead of allowing members to use those days for religious services and personal time, as was the original plan.”
How did DeSantis’ first class do?
“On June 30, the State Guard graduated its first class, 120 recruits, far below the 1,500 members state lawmakers approved this year.”
And yet, DeSantis, a former Navy lawyer (“JAG” officer) is touring the country, hitting battleground states, and attacking the U.S. Military, and its Commander in Chief.
The Florida governor claims the U.S. Armed Forces are “woke,” because of President Biden, and unable to successfully recruit.
He promises to remake America’s military.
“When we talk about reinstalling integrity in our institutions, we mean things like our own military,” DeSantis told supporters in South Carolina. “You know, I volunteered to serve in the Navy, volunteered to serve in Iraq, got to serve alongside a lot of great patriots, got to be part of a mission greater than myself, and really was happy to have done it.”
He claimed, “for the first time in my life, I have veterans coming up to me all too frequently saying, ‘I don’t know if I’d want my kids or grandkids to serve in today’s military.’ Why? Because they’re focusing on political agendas, woke ideology, things that are not central to mission accomplishment that causes morale to decline, and it causes recruiting to suffer and even at the height of the fighting in Iraq in places like Fallujah where I served, you still had people showing up to sign up for the Marine Corps and the army knowing their next stop was going to be western Iraq.”
DeSantis claims “people are not signing up because they want to sign up to a military that is focused on the mission. They don’t want to join a woke military. They don’t want to be part of social experimentation. And so as Commander in Chiefon day one, we rip all the woke out and we get back to business and the military. We’re going to be serious about it.”
Watch below or at this link.
“They’re focusing on political agendas, woke ideology, things that are not central to mission accomplishment, that causes morale to decline…as Commander in Chief, on day one, we rip all the woke out and we get back to business in the military.” —@RonDeSantis 🔥 pic.twitter.com/CbxQtQjeNv
— Team DeSantis (@TeamDeSantis) July 16, 2023
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Republicans Kill Bill to Protect IVF After Claiming They Fully Support It
After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that frozen embryos are “children,” causing several medical facilities to pause their in-vitro fertilization services, Republicans rushed to get ahead of the growing national outrage.
Many Republicans insisted that although they oppose abortion and support the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, they did not think it would have effects this far-reaching. And they insisted, repeatedly, on-camera, they absolutely support in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
“Once you pass a law or accept the view that life begins at conception, IVF & some forms of birth control are at risk, along with abortion. It was never ‘just’ about abortion & women pay the price for all of it,” wrote professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance on February 23. Three days later she added, “It’s pretty simple. If life begins at conception, IVF is off the table. If you make an exception for IVF then we’re just having a conversation about who you’re willing to make exceptions for.”
Republicans insisted they were willing to make an exception for IVF.
For years, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who has given birth to two children with the help of IVF, has tried to pass legislation to protect IVF.
Republicans each time have killed the bills.
Her latest attempt was Wednesday.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) on Wednesday spoke against the bill.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith blocks an attempt by Sen. Tammy Duckworth to enshrine access to IVF in federal law on Wednesday by saying it would legalize the creation of human cloning and “human-animal chimeras”
1) The bill does no such thing.
2) It’s not pronounced that way pic.twitter.com/0CbDd1LXGw
— Marcus Baram (@mbaram) February 29, 2024
Sen. Duckworth stamped out Hyde-Smith’s claims, saying, “She said at one point the bill would allow for chimeras — human-animal hybrids — it does nothing of the sort. All the bill says if you want to seek reproductive technology you can …”
Sen. Hyde-Smith then killed the bill by formally objecting to Duckworth’s bill on Wednesday, which the Illinois Democrat tried to pass via unanimous consent.
It was the second time in two years Sen. Hyde-Smith has killed that bill.
“They’re hanging this on Hyde-Smith. But the entire senate gop has now united to block a federal law to keep ivf legal,” observed Talking Points Memo publisher Josh Marshall. “They’re all coming out saying that frozen embryos are equal to living children.”
Also on Wednesday, the lone House Republican supporting legislation to protect IVF withdrew her sponsorship of that bill.
Rep. Anna Luna (R-FL), the only Republican in either chamber of Congress cosponsoring legislation to codify protections for IVF access nationwide, just withdrew her cosponsorship of the bill: pic.twitter.com/DaBAykcsri
— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) February 29, 2024
The Biden campaign on Thursday blasted Republicans for claiming to support IVF then killing the bill that would have protected it.
NBC: Democrats, led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, tried to expand IVF protections at the federal level, but Senate Republicans blocked the bill pic.twitter.com/ssq4fEQlKt
— Biden-Harris HQ (@BidenHQ) February 29, 2024
Watch the videos above or at this link.
‘Injustice’: Experts Condemn Supreme Court’s ‘Fundamentally Corrupt’ Trump Decision
Legal and political experts were stunned by the Supreme Court announcing Wednesday it will take up Donald Trump’s claim of presidential immunity, despite there being no contradiction in the lower courts. Compounding experts’ surprise and concern over granting certiorari was the length of time it took to announce the decision, and that they will not hear arguments until April 22.
“The Supreme Court heard and decided Bush v. Gore in THREE DAYS. THAT was expediting a case of national importance,” noted Tristan Snell, the former New York State prosecutor who led the successful investigation and $25 million prosecution of Donald Trump’s Trump University. “The Supreme Court apparently now thinks expediting means THREE MONTHS. Clearest evidence yet that SCOTUS is corrupt and broken.”
Professor of law and MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who served at DOJ for decades, asked: “Why on god’s green earth did the S Ct [Supreme Court] not take the case earlier when the Special Counsel sought review directly from the District Court? They have really played into Trump’s hands.”
He adds: “The Supreme Court is going straight for the capillaries: an issue the DC criminal case does not raise, namely the outer bounds of a presidential immunity doctrine.”
Weissman Thursday morning noted that the Supreme Court’s actions essentially make Trump “de facto immune.”
“By granting the stay, [SCOTUS] is essentially saying that [Trump] is de facto immune…And I think it ends up being that they’ve given a win to Trump here, and I think they’re gonna give a win to Trump in the Colorado case as well.”
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 29, 2024
Foreign policy, national security, and political affairs analyst and author David Rothkopf replied, “I think you have answered your own question. The only reason to handle this the way they did is to, at best, play Trump’s delay game and, at worst, set the stage for one of the most indefensible, corrupt decisions (or outcomes) in US history.”
“Those who did not understand the urgency of stopping the threat posed by Trump, MAGA and the dark money right, those who did not actively hold them accountable with every available institutional tool, may have been the undoing of American democracy…no matter their intentions,” he noted.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, decision by the Supreme Court to hear the Trump immunity case is outrageous and, at its heart, fundamentally corrupt,” Rothkopf also wrote. “The Appeals Court decision was bullet proof and there is no case Trump has any sort of immunity. The decision not to hear it until late April makes further significant trial delays likely. They are deliberately delaying the trial without any reasonable legal reason to do so. This is a political decision and, in my estimation, an ugly one.”
“If a special counsel had been appointed early in 2021,” Rothkopf also wrote, “if Trump obstruction of justice had be prosecuted, if Trump had not been granted special treatment on his theft of classified documents, if the classified documents case had been brought in DC as it should have been, Trump might very well be in jail now.”
He also pointed to this monologue from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, calling it “correct.”
.@chrislhayes: The SCOTUS order “was a clear unmistakable sign from the MAGA majority of the Trump-created court that they are with him. That they are going to use their power to make sure that he does not face trial in an election year for attempting to end American democracy.” pic.twitter.com/fgrrP0tEw0
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) February 29, 2024
University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University Laurence Tribe blasted “the SCOTUS decision to slow-walk Trump’s outrageous immunity claim — the claim everyone knows would be rejected 9-0 by any self-respecting court.”
Noting the Supreme Court could have taken up the case back in December, Tribe told CNN, “There’s nothing new under the sun” in this case. “It doesn’t make any sense to stretch this out this way.”
“We can be sure that they want to use this case to settle a whole broad range of issues, contrary to their supposed practice of deciding no more than you must decide. In fact, the Chief Justice once famously said, if we don’t have to decide something, that means we have to avoid deciding it. He’s obviously violated that mandate here and the struggle within the court results in injustice for the nation.”
Tribe also slammed the Court for choosing to announce it will decide “the broadest possible question.” He suggests they could stretch it out even more, by taking the case, hearing it, then sending it back to the lower courts again.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 29, 2024
Daily Beast columnist and “recovering attorney” Wajahat Ali observed: “A thoroughly corrupt Supreme Court with right-wing justices bought out by conservative billionaires and beholden to Christian nationalism should not be expected to side with justice, the rule of law, or democracy. Elections matter.”
CNN Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic on Wednesday said, The fact that they delayed this order … suggests that they certainly did not embrace the urgency that Special Counsel Jack Smith tried to impose upon them, way back in December.”
“Former President Trump’s effort to run the clock has a partner in the Supreme Court at this point,” she notes.
“Former President Trump’s effort to run the clock has a partner in the Supreme Court at this point.” pic.twitter.com/bjgbTxA1RP
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) February 28, 2024
Watch the videos above or at this link.
Comer Announces Public Hearing After Hunter Biden Closed Door Testimony
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer announced he will hold a public hearing with Hunter Biden after the president’s son testified behind closed doors for most of Wednesday.
“I think this was a great deposition for us, it proved several bits of our evidence, that we’ve been conducting throughout this investigation, but there are also some contradictory statements that I think need further review,” Comer told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“So this impeachment inquiry will now go to the next phase, which will be a public hearing. And that’s something that I think everyone in the media has been asking a lot of questions about. Something that I know that Mr. Biden and his attorney both demanded, just as I said, when we said we were going to do the deposition first, we will have a public hearing next.”
It’s unclear what other witnesses Chairman Comer and Chairman Jordan will present.
Comer claimed that parts of Hunter Biden’s testimony contradicted some of their previous witness’ testimony, although he refused to elaborate.
Hunter Biden stated in the opening remarks he released publicly Wednesday morning that Chairman Comer and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan had built their “entire partisan house of cards on lies told by the likes of Gal Luft, Tony Bobulinski, Alexander Smirnov, and Jason Galanis.”
“Luft, who is a fugitive, has been indicted for his lies and other crimes; Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies; Bobulinski, who has been exposed for the many false statements he has made, and Galanis, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud.”
Politico described Hunter Biden’s opening statement as “blistering.”
“I am here today,” the President’s son began, “to provide the Committees with the one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business. Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never.”
Watch Comer below or at this link.
Comer announces another impeachment public hearing pic.twitter.com/UjlWAs8zbb
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2024
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