Political Malfeasance in Action

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) received nearly $1 Million in Wall Street contributions while killing a tax hike on certain Investment Bankers.

I grew up in the 1960’s in Buffalo, NY where it seemed that candidates for election to public office couldn’t get nominated until they could prove their ability to attract illegal political contributions. Over my professional career, I spent significant time in other northeast states, counties and cities where political corruption was often the norm.

Most of the corrupt elected officials I observed were guilty of getting their driveway paved; their house painted; maybe a new roof. Not good, not appropriate, and certainly, not acceptable.

The recent behavior of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) relative to the Carried Interest federal tax loophole puts the actions and behaviors of these historic elected officials in NY and CT into the category of ‘fixing parking tickets’.

The despicable and nefarious posturing by Sen. Sinema has blessed Carried Interest, sometimes known as ‘the cockroach of tax breaks, allowing it to survive another potential assault by Congress.

The proposal to increase the holding period requirement to qualify certain income paid to investment bankers for the lower Carried Interest tax rate was removed from the landmark ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ of 2022 (H.R. 5376) recently passed by both the Senate and the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 16, 2022.

The “compromise” to remove Carried Interest was demanded by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) which she justified on a complex and convoluted set of criteria, and which potentially might be related to the $1 Million in campaign contributions she received over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased exponentially under the original plan.

The concept of Carried Interest dates back to the 16th century, when ocean-going ship captains would often take a 20 percent “interest” of whatever profits were realized from the cargos they carried. This approach is logical and defensible on the risks to life, property and personal capital undertaken by ship captains.

In 21st century America, the meaning of Carried Interest has evolved to describe a tax loophole — an income tax avoidance scheme — which allows some private equity and hedge fund investment bankers to classify large amounts of their compensation related to performing services (i.e. managing and/or investing other people’s money) as investment gains, which substantially lowers the amount they are required to pay in taxes.

Today’s Carried Interestis essentially a payment (bonus or commission) for investment services that is taken out of the profits of the money managed for investors. Private equity firms use pooled money from large institutional investors (pension funds, college endowments, ultra-high net worth individuals, etc.) to acquire controlling interests in struggling, underperforming or undervalued companies. When the investment are made, these acquired entities agree to pay the private equity firms Carried Interestout of the investment profits on top of management and other fees.

Under our current tax law, when the carried interest income is paid out of the private equity firm to individual partners, directors, etc. it is taxed at the preferential (‘capital gains’) rates granted to investment income, even though the income represents compensation for services. In all other contexts, compensation income – salaries, bonus, commissions, etc. – is taxed everywhere else as ordinary income.

Investment professionals often are required to contribute capital if they are eligible to receive carry, although it varies by firm and by position in the hierarchy (from 23% of associates/senior associates to 71% of managing partners). Essentially, the Carried Interest tax loophole acts as a magic wand to turn ordinary compensation income into preferentially-taxed capital gains income for a few thousand specially entitled individuals each year.

Private Equity (“PE”) is a $4.5 Trillion industry which tends to follow a predictable model: Use very high levels of debt to take control of underperforming (or undervalued) companies and then extract as much value as possible over a short- to intermediate time frame.

One of my favorite movies, “Other People’s Money” (1991: Warner Brothers [directed by Norman Jewison]; starring Danny DeVito and Gregory Peck) almost perfectly illustrates the potentially powerful impact of leveraged debt strategically deployed against a weak management team. In the film, the end result is: (a) closure and liquidation of New England Wire & Cable Company, a boring multi-generational family manufacturing business; (b) the loss of hundreds of decent jobs in a small American city; and (c) millions of dollars of ‘pirated booty’ transferred to anonymous private equity investors, with a mighty fine Carried Interest reward paid to Danny DeVito (the investment banker).

Zero value added to the overall U.S. economy.

Devastating value lost to a small American city, its residents and the regional economy.

Sure, the investment banker (Danny DeVito) took home a fine bonus. He probably was able to buy a nice airplane and maybe a vacation home in the Hamptons.

Meanwhile, the wire and cable products formerly supplied by the now defunct domestic company now are being sourced from a foreign firm. The American city where the former Wire and Cable business was located lost tax revenue which had formerly been used to support local schools and public works. And, local families abruptly lost their incomes, and their homes potentially went into foreclosure.

Most alarming: U.S. taxpayers subsidized the whole mess because of this crazy, foolish and irrational tax break known as Carried Interest.

Some will say that the movie, “Other People’s Money” is a 1991 dinosaur which has no relevance in 2022.

Yet, the devastation continues. In our current environment, retailers are particularly vulnerable to leveraged buyouts, and they provide the most visible examples of companies which have been acquired, pillaged and wrecked by private equity firms.

In January 2020, the New York grocery chain Fairway filed for its second bankruptcy in less than four years and announced plans to sell off its stores, due to several efforts by PE firms to extract value from the franchise. The Fairway failure joins a long list of casualties that includes: Sears; Toys R Us; Payless ShoeSource; and Sports Authority, among many others.

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In theory, PE firms snap up underperforming companies using ‘patient capital’; they bring in professional managers to revamp current operations; and then sell the companies through a Public Offering to generate a healthy return.

In practice, the PE industry revolves around deals known as leveraged buyouts, where the PE investors put up a small amount of their own money to purchase a company and borrow the rest. The acquired business becomes responsible for repaying the debt, which puts an immediate strain on cash flows.

In their quest to generate cash and improve operational efficiency, PE firms often: lay off workers, and cut pay and benefits to remaining workers; they sell off owned real estate and lease back; they sell trademarks and other ‘off balance sheet assets’.

PE firms sometimes extract cash using “dividend recapitalizations” where they use the acquired company to borrow additional money which is then used to pay investors. Beyond that, they often charge the businesses they acquire millions in ‘management fees’.

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Shifting the treatment of so-called Carried Interest income from capital gains to ordinary compensation income could raise between $1.4 Billion and $18 Billion annually from income tax on a very small number of investment bankers.

Most informed Americans refer to the lower tax rate on Carried Interest as a loophole that allows already wealthy private equity, hedge fund and other investment managers to pay a lower tax rate than the majority of their employees and other American workers. Once they are fully informed, a significant majority of voters across the political spectrum support legislation that would close this loophole.

“It’s a real rich benefit for the wealthiest of Americans,” said Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “Why should a private-equity manager be able to structure his or her compensation with low-taxed gains? That seems wrong.”

Sen. Sinema was elected to the U.S. Senate by voters in Arizona to represent their interests.  It’s hard to see how continuing this awful Carried Interest loophole is in the best interest of anyone in Arizona, other than to Sen Sinema herself because it seems to provide a rich and reliable source of political contributions to help ensure her continued reelection.

And that also seems wrong.

The time for action on responsible gun control has long passed, yet the opportunity is front and center.

Wayne LaPierre carved out a very lucrative career for himself based on a concept that former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger called “one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public.”

In 1996, under extraordinary pressure from the NRA and other pro-gun rights factions, Congress essentially shut down support for CDC-supported-research into the causes of gun violence.

Human Brain Development: Despite a paucity of research on gun violence, we can look to dozens of studies on human brain development which have provided a rich array of data strongly supporting the fact that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age.

Specifically, the frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act — develops later in males than in females.  The majority of research tells us that females tend to reach maturity toward the end of adolescence; where in males, the frontal cortex is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

One research paper from an independent private college published in 2015 asserted that, “Men commit over 85% of all homicides, 91% of all same-sex homicides and 97% of all same-sex homicides in which the victim and killer aren’t related to each other.”

The vast majority of mass homicides in the U.S. over the past decade have been committed by American males under 25 using a military-style assault weapon with high-capacity magazine(s).

Although we lack irrefutable proof of causality, it seems reasonable to postulate that eliminating the availability of firearms, accessories and ammunition which are derived from and/or modelled on military grade assault weapons would likely reduce — and eventually eliminate — the opportunity for young American males to obtain and/or use these deadly weapons.

Silver tongued orators: While many of our elected officials in Congress have used their silver tongues to concurrently placate the people and please the NRA, our nation has been violated by domestic terrorists, generally armed with AR15-style weapons.

AR-15: The small-bore, high-velocity AR-15 rifle was originally designed for military use under the mandate: “high-velocity; full and semi auto fire; 20 shot magazine; 6lbs loaded; able to penetrate both sides of a standard Army helmet at 500 meters.” When it entered Army service in the 1960s, it was renamed the M16.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994) outlawed the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” for civilian use. Unfortunately, that Ban expired in 2004, and since then we have observed the NRA (and some other groups) spending millions of dollars annually on lobbyists to quash any attempts to even discuss rational and reasonable gun control measure.

Example:  An Assault Weapons Ban bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein with 37 co-sponsors (S.736 — 117th Congress) was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary in March 2021 where it has languished ever since.

NRA response to Feinstein’s bill:  ‘Outlawing commonly owned semi-automatic rifles every day Americans use for hunting, recreational shooting, and self-defense will not reduce gun crimes or firearm related homicides. The ban she’s currently offering is just one more attack on the rights of law-abiding gun owners that will have zero effect on crime.’

The NRA has long taken the position that semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 are used for “recreational target shooting, hunting, and home defense” and states that ‘law-abiding firearms owners shouldn’t be penalized because of homicidal loners who use semi-automatics like the AR-15 for criminal purposes.’

The vast majority of independent firearm experts don’t support this position.

Recreational target shooting?  Sure.  Who could refute the adrenaline rush of firing a weapon that is as close to a machine gun in operation as you can legally possess?

Hunting?  Not so much.  The best practice guideline for hunters incorporates a ‘quick clean kill’ which ideally is a one-shot kill, resulting in an immediate downing of the animal; minimizing suffering; reducing damage to the meat; and making the harvest and field dressing much easier.

The AR-15 variants are often effective due to their ability enable anyone to ‘Spray and Pray’ – not for conformance with the one-shot kill preferred by responsible sport hunters.

Home defense?  Not in my home, and hopefully not in my neighborhood. Although the AR-15 is a ‘relatively short’ long-gun, it can be tough to maneuver and aim in tight quarters. With a muzzle velocity in excess of 3,000 fps, it will over-penetrate, sending bullets through the walls of your house, endangering family members and possibly into the walls of your neighbor’s house.  When equipped with a quick-change 30 round magazine — and firing at a rate of 45 rounds per minute — it’s not hard to imagine how many rounds can be launched in a very short period of time.

The core solutions to put a halt to senseless massacres — primarily orchestrated by young domestic terrorists — are well-known.  Eliminating assault weapons is # 1.

Congressional Focus and Priorities:  Instead of working collaboratively to fix a myriad of strategic and critical domestic problems, a rather sizable number of our U.S. elected officials seem to prefer to focus their time and effort on banning books; legislating elementary school curriculum and content; and punishing those who don’t agree with them.

It’s time for our Congress to tell the NRA that they will support rational legislation on 2nd Amendment Rights, with the caveat that in a modern, polite and peaceful society, there is no place for civilian possession and /or use for firearms, accessories and ammunition which are derived from and/or modelled after military- grade assault weapons.

President Biden:  You are absolutely on the right track.

Members of Congress:  No more groveling; no more boot-licking; no more vacillating at or with the NRA.  You still have the time and ability to redeem yourselves as decent human beings. Please don’t squander this opportunity.  Support, fast-track and pass S. 736.

Let me be very clear: I am a gun owner, a member of the N.R.A. and a supporter of the Second Amendment.

I recently wrote an impassioned letter to Senator Marco Rubio imploring him to support a permanent ban on military-style assault weapons, similar to the (now-expired) Federal Assault Weapons Ban which outlawed manufacture of AR-15 and other assault-style weapons for civilian use.

My research confirms a strong and direct correlation which connects a small number of domestic males under age 25 with AR-15-style weapons and military-grade ammunition to mass shootings across the U.S. The massacres in Uvalde; Buffalo; Sandy Hook; Aurora; Boulder; Parkland; Las Vegas; San Bernardino; Sutherland Springs; Nashville; Midland–Odessa; Poway; and the Tree of Life Synagogue each support the hypothesis.

Sen. Marco Rubio holds an A-plus rating from the NRA and has received at least $3.3 Million of NRA campaign money, thus I thought it might be an uphill battle trying to engage Marco Rubio in an honest debate regarding the probability that AR-15 style weapons might be a root cause of the U.S. epidemic of gun violence.

Instead of responding to my observations which are directly and irrefutably confirmed by exhaustive research (including my own), Sen. Rubio went right down the NRA rabbit hole.

Sen. Rubio said to me, “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

His entire reply to me is attached.

I’m not right off the turnip truck, yet I remain flummoxed, baffled and bewildered that we continue to support and elect cyborgs like Marco Rubio hoping for rational and productive governance of our nation.

Dozens of polls and studies reveal general agreement among American adults which favors sensible gun control reform legislation, incorporating a variety of strategies such as:  (a) increased funding for mental health services; (b) universal background checks; (c) a national ‘red flag’ law; (d) training and/or licensing requirements; (e) more consistent rules across state lines.

Each and all of these would likely contribute toward reducing senseless gun violence. Yet, the Root Cause of our present dilemma seems to center around one specific type of firearm, often called “AR-15 style”.

These are high-capacity military-style weapons which can be fired semi-automatically and/or have the capability of being easily transformed into a rapid fire weapon. There is no legitimate purpose for these weapons in a civil society, and the ultimate goal to remove this Root Cause from the equation ought to be a total and complete ban on the civilian purchase, sale or possession of such weapons.

The next critical variable is ammunition. There is no logical or defensible reason to support civilian sale, possession or use of military grade ammunition categorized as: hollow point; full metal jacket; armor piercing; green tip; black tip; or any other sort of ammo which is not used by regular gun owners for target shooting or which is appropriate for legitimate hunting purposes.

As painful as it might seem to Wayne LaPierre, Jason Ouimet and others at the NRA, these AR-15 style weapons and military grade ammunition seem to continually and disproportionally fall into the hands of a few people who have really bad agendas.

If we eliminate the very weapons and ammunition which seem to attract the interest of folks with bad agendas, we will be making some real progress.

Please listen carefully, NRA.

The great majority of us don’t want to take guns away from our neighbors; we don’t harbor animosity toward responsible gun owners; and we often are gun owners and NRA members ourselves.

We do believe there is a balance – a sensible equilibrium — which respects, supports and honors the American tradition for people to keep and bear arms in a manner consistent with a civilized 21st century society.  

Let’s work together to find that balance.

A timeless and highly polarized topic….

The AR-15 was designed by ArmaLite in 1957 in response to a request from the U.S. Army to develop a rifle with “high-velocity; full- and semi-auto fire; 20 shot magazine; 6-lbs loaded; able to penetrate both sides of a standard Army helmet at 500 meters”.

When it entered Army service in the 1960s, it was named the “M16”. When the semi-automatic version of the rifle was later introduced by ArmaLite to the civilian market, it was known as the “AR-15”.

From 1994 to 2004, AR-15-style rifles were subject to (the now-expired) Federal Assault Weapons Ban which outlawed manufacture of these and other assault-style weapons for civilian use.

Following the expiration of the Ban, AR-15-style weapons attained great popularity in the U.S. They have been used in countless mass shootings across the U.S. (including: Buffalo; Sandy Hook; Aurora; Boulder; Parkland; Las Vegas; San Bernardino; Sutherland Springs; Nashville; Midland–Odessa; Poway; and the Tree of Life Synagogue.

I wonder if the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. could be directly correlated to the extreme popularity of this weapon?

Meanwhile, most independent firearm experts don’t consider the AR-15 (or its clones) to be a good choice for either hunting or home-defense uses.

One reason is that its standard .223 caliber ammunition doesn’t offer much stopping power for anything other than small game. It is a very high velocity cartridge (muzzle velocity > 3,000 fps). When combined with the capacity to fire up to 45 rounds per minute, the AR becomes extremely dangerous to bystanders in home defense situations due to over-penetration and random ‘spray’.

Many hunters find the rifle controversial, arguing that AR-15-style rifles encourage a “spray and pray” technique which is contrary to best practices.

One way to reduce over-penetration and improve stopping power is to use hollow point or soft point ammunition; some opt for the more controversial ‘green tip’ rounds vs. the standard full metal jacket rounds.

One hunter, a former soldier himself, said it well, “I served in the military and the M-16 was the weapon I used. It was designed as an assault weapon, plain and simple. A hunter doesn’t need a semi-automatic rifle to hunt. If he says he does, he sucks as a marksman, and should go play video games. During hunting season, you can see more men running around the bush all cammo’d up with assault vests and face paint with tricked out AR’s. These are not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors.”

The folks in Ukraine are fighting for their very existence against an outside enemy that wants to destroy them and their entire country. Here at home, we experienced another mass shooting at an elementary school, this time in Texas (5/24/22). The solutions to put a halt to these senseless massacres — primarily orchestrated by young domestic terrorists — are well-known.

But, instead of fixing critical domestic problems, a rather sizable number of our U.S. elected officials prefer to focus their time and effort on banning books; legislating elementary school curriculum and content; and punishing those who don’t agree with them.

It’s very sad, indeed.

Don’t Say Gay

April 26, 2022

a.k.a. Parental Rights in Education

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed House Bill 1557 “Parental Rights in Education” a.k.a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ which prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

DeSantis stated, “Parents’ rights have been increasingly under assault around the nation, but in Florida we stand up for the rights of parents and the fundamental role they play in the education of their children.”

Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo further said, “Parents should get to decide what their children are taught, not the government or teachers unions.”

And, I absolutely agree. Public schools are available to everyone, and public schools are a compromise between cost and value. For those who have unlimited resources and who want a custom experience for their children, there are a variety of private schools to choose from. And, home schooling is an option for some.

Typical governance of public schools is through an elected school board comprised of residents in the District who take an oath to represent all who are stakeholders in the District.

Thus, parents have a strong voice in deciding what and how their children are taught. Parents can get actively involved in who is running for school board, and to support candidates who most closely mirror their personal values.

Take a look at this school board Oath of Office from Illinois:

“I, (name of member or successful candidate), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of member of the Board of Education (or Board of School Directors) of (name of school district), in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and the laws of the State of Illinois, to the best of my ability.

“I further swear (or affirm) that:

“I shall respect taxpayer interests by serving as a faithful protector of the school district’s assets;

“I shall encourage and respect the free expression of opinion by my fellow board members and others who seek a hearing before the board, while respecting the privacy of students and employees;

“I shall recognize that a board member has no legal authority as an individual and that decisions can be made only by a majority vote at a public board meeting;

“I shall abide by majority decisions of the board, while retaining the right to seek changes in such decisions through ethical and constructive channels;

“As part of the Board of Education (or Board of School Directors, as the case may be), I shall accept the responsibility for my role in the equitable and quality education of every student in the school district;

“I shall foster with the board extensive participation of the community, formulate goals, define outcomes, and set the course for (name of school district);

“I shall assist in establishing a structure and an environment designed to ensure all students have the opportunity to attain their maximum potential through a sound organizational framework;

“I shall strive to ensure a continuous assessment of student achievement and all conditions affecting the education of our children, in compliance with State law;

“I shall serve as education’s key advocate on behalf of students and our community’s school (or schools) to advance the vision for (name of school district); and

“I shall strive to work together with the district superintendent to lead the school district toward fulfilling the vision the board has created, fostering excellence for every student in the areas of academic skills, knowledge, citizenship, and personal development.”

For those parents who desire a more hands-on role in how their children are educated, there are a number of additional options: (1) regular and active participation in PTA; (2) regular and active participation in parent teacher events, including parent/teacher night and parent/teacher conferences; (3) active and regular daily involvement in children’s homework and assignments; (4) regular and active involvement in after school activities, including sports, band, debate, theater, etc.

As to the quote from Mike Pompeo, it must be taken in context to Pompeo’s personal history and beliefs:

Pompeo is affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, where he has served as a local church deacon, and taught Sunday school. In talks before church groups, Pompeo has said that Christians needed to “know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world” and that “politics is a never-ending struggle… until the Rapture.”

Until the Rapture.

Yes folks, it seems to be true. Ron has apparently changed his name to ‘Gaston’

Florida Governor DeSantis recently signed into law a “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents. It was based on highly speculative and obscure ideas; it prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

In an ironic twist, it was reported that Gaston LeGume, the egotistical misogynist and racist villain from Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, recently assumed the identity of Florida Governor DeSantis.

No longer content merely to be the handsomest most admired man in town and everyone’s favorite guy, Gov. Ron “Gaston” DeSantis now seems to be on a quest to punish his creator – The Walt Disney Company — for gross intransigence.

Last week, DeSantis announced a move to take away Disney’s independent special district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, created in 1966 as a Florida Special Taxing and Governance District.

Gov. Gaston went on to say, “When Disney denounced Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, they crossed the line. As a family-friendly business it should understand parents not wanting young children taught about gender identity in public schools.” <Gaston then publicly abdicated any and all personal rights of succession within the Disney Empire.>

The Walt Disney Company responded quickly. “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country” they said. “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights.”

Last seen in The Villages, Gov. Gaston DeSantis proclaimed, ‘I am The Governor. Any and all executive orders, proclamations, and rules I proclaim shall have the full force and effect of law. There is no place in a civil and just society for elementary math textbooks which indoctrinate elementary school students with concepts like race essentialism. Furthermore, although the Citizens United decision gives corporations and certain special interest groups the right to unlimited spending on most political issues, it does not give any rights to corporations to create a regional environment virtually free of crime, mosquitos, weeds, trash and potholes which attracts tourists from international destinations.’

DeSantis further stated, ‘It is patently clear that The Disney Company operates in a physical environment which is well above the Florida ‘status quo’, much of that due to The Reedy Creek Improvement District which owns its utilities; administers its planning and zoning; defines its building codes; employs the inspectors; and maintains its own fire department, roadways and highways. It even has the authority to levy taxes.’

Currently, Florida has term limits for some elected officials. The Governor is limited to two 4-year terms.

The Walt Disney Company has served as an important magnet for tourism and economic development in Florida since it opened in 1971, and it has no term limits.

Florida’s tourism industry suffered an estimated 60.5% drop in visitors as the coronavirus pandemic hit hard during the 2nd quarter of 2020, with international travel off more than 90%. Disney World has mostly recovered, trending back to 50 million tourists a year and generating more than 70,000 jobs directly, making it the biggest single-site employer in the U.S. The millions of tourists visiting Disney World not only spend money at the resort but also across the Orlando region and the entire state of Florida.

We can pause and pay our respects to Florida’s elected officials – including the Governor[i] – who lost millions in potential political contributions from Disney when the Company decided to cease making political contributions in Florida. <In fact, ‘pay to play’ is illegal for very good reasons.>

Gov. Ron ‘Gaston’ DeSantis and his cronies have devolved into the Boss Tweed era of Tammany Hall, and it’s time that we stop them in their tracks.

“No one’s slick as Gaston; No one’s quick as Gaston; No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston; For there’s no man in town half as manly”….

Ron “Gaston” DeSantis is an uncouth and unprincipled bully who has no place in public office.

[i] Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. made four contributions to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC from May 2019 to March 2021 for a total of $106,809.38.

Yes, this is an amazing story, not quite at the top of what DeSantis is engaged in, but pretty close.

There is an old saying that, ‘there is nothing lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut’ and DeSantis is jousting with fellow snake Texas Governor Abbott to see who will reach the bottom of the rut first.

You’ve got to hand it to DeSantis on his ability to generate national headlines, following the model perfected by P.T. Barnum in the 19th century: (1) ‘I don’t care what people say about me as long as they say something’ and, (2) ‘There ain’t no such thing as bad publicity’.

Let’s not forget some of the other Governors running in the 2022 Race to The Bottom.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) recently signed a new law making it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion.  Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed laws banning transgender girls from high school sports; restricting the way schools teach about race and gender; and eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) recently launched campaign advertisements which double down on Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ false statements about the 2020 election results.

Several other conservative incumbents who have used scorched earth strategies in their policies and practices – like it or not — now find themselves in the high visibility arena:  Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R); Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R); Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R); and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) all face primary challenges, fueled by more main-stream Republican contenders.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel probably did the best retort to the Florida math textbook situation.

He said, ‘The Florida Department of Education rejected dozens of math textbooks because they made reference to Critical Race Theory.  If you don’t know what Critical Race Theory is, don’t worry – neither does Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.’ And Kimmel’s monologue goes on from there…

[>>> Watch the Kimmel monologue here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QgdS-G8pi8

“The legacy of Mitch McConnell’s obdurate and unwavering positions will haunt us for many decades.”

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the federal mask mandate for airplanes and other modes of public transportation on April 18, 2022, writing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority and failed to follow proper rulemaking procedures.

Her decision led to U.S. airlines and other transportation hubs to promptly drop their mask mandates.

Judge Mizelle sits on the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She was nominated by former President Donald Trump in September 2020 at age 33, and confirmed by a 49-to-41 Senate vote later that year.

She graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2012; worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and in private practice, and served as a law clerk for several federal judges as well as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  She belongs to the conservative Federalist Society, which advocates for an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Following her nomination as a Federal Judge, the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said that a majority of the group had deemed that Mizelle did not meet the requisite minimum standard of experience necessary to perform the responsibilities required by the high office of a federal trial judge.”

Despite the ABA’s recommendation to McConnell and the Senate to reject Mizelle’s nomination, the U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination in November 2020 along partisan lines.

Sarah Palin announces run for Congress

We currently have an excess supply of Wombats, Obstructionists, and probable Seditionists serving in Congress.

Some of these characters include: Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia; Jim Jordan of Ohio; Lauren Boebert of Colorado; Matt Gaetz of Florida; Madison Cawthorne of North Carolina; Louie Gohmert of Texas; Paul Gosar of Arizona; and several more.

These are folks who were nominated by their Party and encouraged to run for public office; and who were then elected to represent their constituents in Congress.

These also are the same folks who live large in public media, seemingly hell-bent on destroying the foundations of the American political system and American political values.

We recently learned of the death of Don Young of Alaska, a highly respected and the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A special election to fill his vacant seat will be held August 16, and the winner of the special election will finish the remainder of Young’s term, which ends in January 2023.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has announced her intention to run for Congress to replace Don Young.

In her announcement, Palin said our nation “is at a tipping point,” and she spoke of the need to address “out-of-control inflation, empty shelves, and gas prices that are among the highest in the world.”

“I’m in this race to win it and join the fight for freedom alongside other patriots willing to sacrifice all to save our country,” Palin said.

Sarah certainly knows the right words to say; she only lacks the knowledge and abilities to deliver on whatever promises she intends to make.

We’ve seen enough of Sarah Palin’s wisdom, experience and character from her run as the VP candidate under John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

We certainly don’t need Sarah Palin in Congress to further degrade and destroy the foundations of our American political system and political values.