I Don’t Love Joe Biden

October 20, 2022

But should we blame him for our current economic malaise?

When I was a young pup, I remember Uncle Cal frequently referring to certain elected officials as “a Horse’s Ass”. Back then, I didn’t know what he was trying to infer, but it sure sounded good!

Uncle Cal is long gone, but it seems the supply of Horse’s Ass elected officials has expanded significantly and I’m frustrated, angry and simply miserable as I watch and listen to ‘broadcast journalists’ and various political pundits who seem to have no grasp of economics as they explain current economic conditions to an audience of [potentially] economic illiterates. Thus, the origin of my current ‘rant’:

Stock Prices, Inflation, Recession & Economic Cycles

Economic cycles – also known as business cycles — are a reality, and they can be tracked over time.

They generally are predictable, although not in precise time frames. Economic cycles consist of four identifiable phases or stages:  (a) Expansion; (b) Peak; (c) Contraction; and (d) Trough.

Every economic cycle includes a period of euphoria and exuberance marked by a sustained period of economic growth; followed by a period of uncertainty and lethargy linked to a period of economic decline.

The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. By the time Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion.

That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest period of expansion on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

Donald Trump has never failed to speak his mind.  During the campaign leading to the 2020 presidential election, Trump proclaimed, “If (Joe Biden) is elected, the stock market will crash!”. [In 2018, Trump said, “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win.” In late January 2020, Trump also said, “We have it (coronavirus) totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”]

Facts are facts:

  • Five years ago (October 20, 2017) the S&P 500 closed at 2,575; it closed today (10/20/2022) at 3,666, an overall 5 year gain of 42%; an average of 7.3% per year.
  • Ten years ago (October 2012), gasoline sold for $3.62 per gallon in Florida.  AAA shows the current Florida price per gallon at $3.38.
  • Case-Shiller reported a ten year 288% price increase for housing in the Tampa Bay area (where I currently live) from Mid-2012 to Mid-2022.  This is partly due to (1) recovery from the Great Recession; (2) stimulus due to artificial below market interest rates (Fed Policy); and (3) supply/demand imbalance primarily due to local and regional housing policy decisions over time.
  • The most recent CPI-U release from BLS reflects an annual inflation rate of 8.2 % through September 2022, the highest in four decades.  Yet, if we look back to 2012, we can see the average annual rate over that decade computes to about 2.5% annually, with near zero periods during the Pandemic.

What’s really going on? There are a number of pieces to this puzzle, including:

  • The lingering effects of a Pandemic;
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  • Aftershocks (direct and indirect) from draconian tariffs enacted beginning in 2018;
  • Ongoing ripple effects from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA); and
  • Various supply chain issues, both domestic and international.

The root cause of our current intersection of inflation and stock market volatility likely traces back to 2010, when the Fed launched “QE2” – quantitative easing – essentially increasing liquidity in the domestic economy to stimulate economic growth. One of the outcomes from QE is a decrease in bond prices due to falling interest rates, combined with a run-up in stock prices as investors search for yield.

When the Fed announced its QE2 plan in November 2010, 30-year mortgages were at 5%; and the S&P 500 index was 1,200.  Over the course of the next few years, rates on 30-year mortgages dropped as low as 3.3%, while the S&P 500 index inched toward 2,010 (which it reached in September 2014).

Meanwhile, the CPI from 2010 to the end of 2020 remained relatively calm, reflecting the lagging effects of the economic recovery which began in mid-2009.

It is relatively easy to look into the rearview mirror now to observe that the Fed’s responses to (a) the Great Recession; and then (b) impacts of Covid on our economy helped to create an environment which fueled the inflation we are facing today.

In March 2020 — in addition to a promise to inject a Trillion dollars into the U.S. banking system — the Fed cut the federal funds rate to a range of 0% to 0.25%.

The rapid and aggressive response by the Fed likely saved our economy from implosion, but also helped inspire a dramatic run-up in both stock prices and home prices:  The S & P 500 index rose from 3,000 in early March 2020 to reach 4,700 in November 2021 as investors chased phantom returns on investment. (Stock prices were further bolstered by massive stock buybacks inspired by the 2017 TCJA).

Home mortgage interest rates are a critical determinant of purchasing power for most borrowers.  As far back as 1971, 30 year fixed-rate mortgages had never been offered below 7%; they moved up to 9% in 1974; climbed to 11% in 1979; and reached a peak of 16.6% in 1981.

Our economy is a long game.  The few months when home mortgage interest rates were at or below 5% is an aberration enabled by Fed policy.  Now that long-term mortgage rates have settled into the 7% to 9% range [which seems rationale and appropriate based on history], home prices will also stabilize.

It seems convenient for some to blame Joe Biden for (a) high gasoline prices; (b) rapidly rising consumer prices; (c) a stock market ‘meltdown’; and (d) even for supply chain dysfunctions.

A quick look at history confirms that there is a rather significant lag between the point when policy is affirmed and enacted; and the future point when we begin to see and experience results from those actions.

The Biden White House has pledged to fight against inflation, and has stubbornly refused to blame the Fed for our current economic symptoms.
Although there seem to be plenty of contributing factors, the real truth is:  We relied almost entirely on monetary policy to steer the ship for more than a decade, and that approach brought us to this moment, not 24 months of Democratic control in the White House.

And, if the Fed would just slow down their relentless and uncompromising initiatives to raise interest rates to the point of choking off the economy as they attempt to rein in inflation, we might experience a smooth correction, and a gentle return to the economic expansion phase we all want to see.

Dear Senator Cotton:

One of the most recent national events which amplified the chasm between political party affiliations in the U.S. was the August 24, 2022 announcement by President Biden of a plan to wipe out significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of low- and moderate-income Americans.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark) was on the rapid response team to counter the Biden announcement, saying:

There is no such thing as student loan forgiveness—this is a bailout, paid for by the large majority of Americans who never went to college or who responsibly paid off their debts. President Biden’s plan ignores the true culprit: bloated, self-serving colleges. I’ll be introducing a bill to hold these colleges accountable for debt, lower tuition, support non-college career paths, and save the taxpayers billions.”


Cotton’s comments strike me as purely partisan, at best, and likely incendiary and divisive.

Meanwhile, some on the ultra-progressive side have dismissed this initiative as ‘too little, too late’’, while others on the far right have said, ‘It’s just not fair to those who sacrificed to pay off their student loans; and to those who are more deeply in debt”.

I must confess:  I’m not convinced that broad-based blanket cancellation of student loan debt is an optimum solution to the real problem at hand.  But, based on current conditions in the world of student loans, it’s probably a necessary step toward creating a new paradigm for educating the future workforce in America.

My personal preference is to look at a problem not just at the surface, but right down to root causes.
[i.e., ‘I don’t like this situation. How can it be fixed?’].

So:  What is the real problem, and where do the root causes lie?

I am sympathetic with Sen. Cotton’s sentiment: ‘this plan ignores the true culprit: bloated, self-serving colleges’.

What Sen. Cotton fails to mention is that – beginning in the late 1950’s, and codified by the passage of the federal Vocational Education Act of 1963 — our elected officials created and sustained an environment which enabled an acrimonious socio-economic division between:

  • those who go to college to earn a 4-year degree, intending to pursue a ‘white collar’ career;
  • those who pursue the training, experience and credentials needed to become a ‘blue-collar’ professional (electrician; plumber; carpenter; auto mechanic; machinist; etc.); and today
  • those who opt into a ‘new-collar’ career in a middle-skill job which requires some tech skills, but not a 4-year degree. Some examples include: I-T support; coding; cyber security; and developing web applications.

Passage of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 marked an expanded view of the value of ‘occupational education’ and the various pathways along career ladders in a wide variety of occupations which would likely lead participants to family wage jobs and careers. Missing from the 1996 legislation was a roadmap to help parents understand, encourage and support their children to pursue their dreams and passions within the framework of economic and financial reality.

Many parents continued to encourage their children to attend a 4-year college to pursue a college diploma in any major, including Art History; Religious Studies; Philosophy; Music Studies; Sociology; Archaeology; English Literature; Film; and myriad other fields, rather than pursue a potentially lucrative vocational education.

College degrees are important and admirable, yet they can result in credentials not valuable or important to employers.  From a potential income perspective, some majors are terrible for those who need to borrow – and subsequently repay — loans for tuition and ancillary college expenses.

Some simple interventions which might help transform our currently broken student loan system:

  1. Mandatory Financial and Economic Education: A critical and logical step to enhance Student Loan Debt Relief is to mandate successful completion of a comprehensive financial and economic education program prior to any student loan borrowings;
  2. Develop an income rating system informed by U.S. Department of Labor projections on salaries and future job openings which would limit the amount of eligible student debt based on major. (See addendum).
  3. Realistic oversight of private colleges and private lenders: The Financial Crisis of 2007 opened our eyes to private and unregulated ‘shadow bankers’ which originated predatory mortgage loans.  There is current evidence that our student loan crisis has been enabled by similar private, lightly regulated lenders which prey on uninformed borrowers, frequently those who are first generation college students and/or those who are enrolled in for-profit colleges.

Dear Senator Cotton: We have identified a few ideas which we think deserve deep and thorough investigation, hopefully leading to appropriate regulatory oversight: a truly honest and valuable use of your time and position.  Instead of offering partisan, incendiary and divisive commentary which serves no useful purpose at all, you are invited to use any and all of these ideas to embark on a positive and affirmative journey to make durable and favorable changes to our entire post-secondary system.

I don’t either.

Ryan, Trump and McConnell: These were our leaders on January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day

Just because you and I don’t remember the 2020 Recession, that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The official arbiter of recessions — the Bureau of Economic Research — says there was one.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion following the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

The National Bureau of Economic Research officially recognized the Recession of 2020 as the shortest on record at just 2 months, with the trough of that recession occurring in April 2020.

One milestone which helps to mark the 2020 recession is the price of oil. During the month of April 2020, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate was absolutely erratic, actually closing Negative at (Minus $37/bbl) on April 20, 2020. [Was gasoline free that day? I don’t recall.]

Back to January 20, 2017, Trump’s Presidential Inauguration Day.

Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, was serving as Speaker of the House.  Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, was the Senate Majority leader.

Ryan was first elected to the House in 1998 at age 28. He developed a reputation as a no-nonsense deficit-hawk fully focused on reducing entitlements and reducing taxes. Ryan had been serving as Speaker of the House since 2015.

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was Paul Ryan’s swan song, eagerly supported by Trump and most congressional Republicans.

Unfortunately, it was exactly the wrong time to enact this complex piece of legislation, primarily because it relied on untested assumptions at a point in time when the U.S. was riding the tail end of the longest economic expansion in history. It created massive increases in our national debt; it favored investment increases in oil and related industries (which to some appeared to be a means to curtail pending increases in oil prices); and exuberant expectations that repatriation of corporate profits parked offshore would be used to create domestic jobs turned into a massive stock buyback across the market.

In early February 2018, Paul Ryan began to reflect on the true consequences of the TCJA. He tweeted, “Julia Ketchum, a secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She didn’t think her pay would go up at all, let alone this soon. That adds up to $78 a year, which she said will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

In April 2018, Ryan announced his intention to retire from Congress on January 3, 2019 — the end of his current term — thus ending a 20-year career representing his constituents in Wisconsin — so that he could spend more time with his family.

Left to its own devices, the 2017 TCJA may have created an unchecked economic calamity.

Then came the Covid-19 Pandemic which turned into an unforeseen international societal and economic tragedy – and clearly was the trigger which caused the 2020 recession. Yet, the impacts of Covid didn’t begin to surface until 1st quarter 2020, so there is a 24 month period following the January 2018 introduction of the TCJA which economists are now examining to help create real context around current (mid-2022) economic uncertainties.

Even a neophyte like me can add the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine to: (a) the long-term economic damage created by the TCJA; (b) the Covid wild card; and (c) the economic devastation of Trump’s tariffs, particularly on our agriculture sector. When we spread the numbers, we can begin to see an almost perfect recipe created under Trump’s watch sufficient to decimate any economy.

Despite the open hostility and recalcitrance of elected Republicans currently serving in Congress, I must give Joe Biden and the Democrats a 5-Star rating for refusing to capitulate, and for keeping the ball moving forward.

A recent post by Mark Sumner on Daily Kos both caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/6/17/2104655/-Donald-Trump-operates-on-One-Simple-Trick

I’m retired, so I have plenty of time to read, reflect and think about things. I try not to let the intensity of the moment get to me. I’ve found it’s better for me to stop, think and express my feelings in words. It may not change anything, but it does soothe me and help keep my blood pressure under control.

Here is my reaction to Mark Sumner’s excellent observations:

It seems that Trump has much in common with each of the historic figures (below).

They represent a rare but dangerous sub-species: Charismatic leaders who lack any social conscience, and are further devoid of the ability to empathize and identify with others on a genuine personal level.

In classic terms, these folks are narcissistic psychopaths, and most satisfy some of their urges by torturing and/or killing others. They are high-functioning individuals each of whom developed a rich repertoire of very effective coping mechanisms which allowed them to ‘fool some of the people all the time’.

Where Trump deviates from the rest of these folks is that he just isn’t very smart.

He refuses to read, study and listen to experts which limits his ability to develop a deep understanding of the world around him, thus leaving him incapable of originating, advancing and executing a productive and original strategy.

Trump is evil but shallow; he acts entirely on impulse. He treats his closest advisors like cannon fodder. Throughout his long career of grifting, pillaging and piracy, he never saw a bridge he wouldn’t burn.

I believe if Trump does live another 5 years, he will experience a precipitous fall from grace dwarfing even the saga of Bernie Madoff.

However the future unfolds, Trump will most certainly join this list of very bad actors for all of eternity:

Adolf Hitler; Joseph Stalin; Vlad the Impaler; Pol Pot; Heinrich Himmler; Saddam Hussein; Idi Amin; Josef Mengle; Ivan the Terrible; Genghis Kahn; Ayatollah Khomeini; Vladimir Putin; David Koresh; Charles Manson; Jim Jones. And the list goes on…

Stock Prices, Inflation, Recession & Economic Cycles

Economic cycles – also known as business cycles — are a reality, and they can be tracked over time.  They generally are predictable, although not in precise time frames. Economic cycles consist of four identifiable phases or stages:  (a) Expansion; (b) Peak; (c) Contraction; and (d) Trough.

Every economic cycle includes a period of euphoria and exuberance marked by a sustained period of economic growth; followed by a period of uncertainty and lethargy linked to a period of economic decline.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he inherited an economy in its 91st month of economic expansion following the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. That expansion continued into 2020, becoming the longest period of expansion on record, peaking at 128 months in February 2020.

We know that Donald Trump never fails to speak his mind.  During the campaign leading to the 2020 presidential election, Trump proclaimed, “If (Joe Biden) is elected, the stock market will crash!

[In 2018, Trump said, “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win.” In late January 2020, Trump also said, “We have it (coronavirus) totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”]

Facts are facts:

  • The S&P 500 fell from 4,766 in late December 2021 to 3,900 today, a 20% loss;
  • We’ve seen the price of gasoline hit $5.00 per gallon, up from $3.00 just a year ago;
  • Case-Shiller recently reported a 34.8% price increase for housing in the Tampa Bay area (where I currently live) from March 2021 to March 2022;
  • The most recent CPI report reflects an annual rate of 8.6 percent through May 2022, the fastest rate in four decades.

What’s really going on?

There are a number of pieces to this puzzle, including:

  • The lingering effects of a Pandemic;
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine;
  • Aftershocks (direct and indirect) from draconian tariffs enacted beginning in 2018;
  • Ongoing ripple effects from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA); and
  • Various supply chain issues, both domestic and international.

But, the root cause of our current intersection of inflation and stock market volatility likely traces back to 2010, when the Fed launched “QE2” – quantitative easing – essentially increasing liquidity in the domestic economy to stimulate economic growth. One of the outcomes from QE is a decrease in bond prices due to falling interest rates, combined with a run-up in stock prices as investors search for yield.

When the Fed announced its QE2 plan in November 2010, 30 year mortgages were at 5%; and the S&P 500 index was 1,200.  Over the course of the next few years, rates on 30 year mortgages dropped as low as 3.3%, and the S&P 500 index toward 2,010 (which it reached in September 2014).

Meanwhile, the CPI from 2010 to the end of 2020 remained relatively calm, reflecting the lagging effects of the economic recovery which began in mid-2009.

It is relatively easy to look into the rearview mirror now to observe that the Fed’s response to the impact of Covid on our economy helped to create an environment which fueled the inflation we are facing today.  In March 2020, in addition to a promise to inject a $ Trillion into the U.S. banking system, the Fed cut the federal funds rate to a range of 0% to 0.25%.

Those actions of the Fed likely saved our economy from implosion, but also helped to inspire a dramatic run-up in stock prices:  The S & P 500 index rose from 3,000 in early March 2020 to reach 4,700 in November 2021. (Stock prices were further affected by massive stock buybacks enabled by the 2017 TCJA).

While it seems convenient for some to blame Joe Biden for high gasoline prices; rapidly rising consumer prices; the stock market ‘meltdown’ — even for supply chain dysfunctions – history tells us there is a rather significant lag between the point when policy actions take place, until begin to see the results from those actions.

The Biden White House has pledged to fight against inflation and has stubbornly refused to blame the Fed for our current economic symptoms.

Although there are plenty of contributing factors, the real truth is over a decade of relying almost entirely on monetary policy to steer the ship brought us to this moment, not 18 months of Democratic control in the White House.

Chair of the Select Committee Rep. Bennie Thompson (D, MS) & Co-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R, NV).

Today is June 9, 2022, the first day of a series of public hearings convened by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, Chaired by Thompson, with Co-chair Cheney.

They are an Unlikely Duo, truly polar opposites in most ways, yet bound together by at least one common thread: an oath of office where they individually affirmed a solemn promise to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”.

Thompson began his service as a Member of Congress in 1993 representing the 2nd Congressional district of Mississippi.  He is a black male; currently age 74; born, raised and still a resident of Bolton, MS: a small, rural and hard-scrabble town in Hinds County, approximately 20 miles from Jackson, the state capital.

Thompson’s voting record has been solidly ’liberal’. His legislative platform is and has been focused mainly on agriculture and rural issues; civil rights; homeland security; equal education; and health care reform.  He is a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Cheney began her service as a Member of Congress in 2017, representing the Wyoming at-large Congressional district. She is a white female; a lawyer; age 55; 3rd generation Wyoming resident on her mother’s side. Her father, former U.S. VP Dick Cheney, represented WY in Congress for 10 years.

Cheney is known as an “ideological conservative”, and a solid representative of the Republican establishment, noted for her focus on national security; support for the U.S. military; a pro-business stance; hawkish foreign policy views; and fiscal and social conservatism.

Prior to her ‘fall from grace’ for refusing to capitulate to the “stolen election theory”, Cheney chaired the House Republican Conference, the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership.

It seems perfectly clear from watching and listening to this first public hearing jointly moderated by this Unlikely Duo that the January 6th Insurrection is a seditious conspiracy against the Constitution of the United States.

It seems entirely plausible that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell have continued to advance and support blatant political lies — fully disproved by both facts and the courts —aimed to support what has come to be known as the “Big Lie”: an imaginary alternative outcome from the 2020 presidential election.

Are Kevin and Mitch potentially guilty of Sedition themselves, or merely complicit in their disruptive and subversive actions?

Most sad:  Rod Serling could have produced an entire season of The Twilight Zone off the McCarthy/McConnell fabrications.

A Mitch McConnell scout on patrol

Mitch McConnell is no stranger to massacres involving semi-automatic assault weapons.

In 1989, a workplace massacre in downtown Louisville took the lives of eight and wounded 12 using an AK-47, and it remains the deadliest mass shooting in Kentucky history.  McConnell, well into his first term as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, said he was “deeply disturbed,” declaring, “We must take action to stop such vicious crimes.” And he added: “We need to be careful about legislating in the middle of a crisis.” And in the days and weeks after, he did not join others in calling for a ban on assault weapons like the AK-47 used by the shooter.

Following the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012, the Obama White House embarked on a robust policy response.  McConnell — then the Senate minority leader — vigorously downplayed that effort.

Fact is:  McConnell has never wavered on his absolute objection to any sort of gun control legislation.

On the day after the Uvalde elementary school massacre, Senate minority leader McConnell took to the Senate floor to declare himself and the nation “sickened and outraged by the senseless evil” that left at least 19 students and two teachers “innocent young lives murdered for no apparent reason at all.”

No mention of guns or any potential legislation, just the statement, ‘Words simply fail.’

After tasking Sen. John Cornyn (R, TX) to negotiate with Democrats on potential legislative actions to stop the epidemic of gun violence in America, McConnell went on the record stating, “Background checks and ‘red flags’ will probably lead the discussion — those are for sure two items that will be front and center.”

What?  No mention of high-velocity high-capacity semi-automatic military style weapons?  No mention of high-capacity magazines which allow the shooter to mimic a machine gun?  No discussion about military style ammunition which launches at 3,000 + feet per second, and has the likelihood to fragment and/or expand to create an exit wound the size of an orange?

What?  No mention of studies on human brain development which have proved that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age? 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.

We know that: (1) Over 85% of U.S. homicides are committed by males; (2) Male brain development is delayed to early adulthood; and (3) 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).

Yet, McConnell stays focused.  “We have a Second Amendment to the Constitution. We take it seriously. There’s the right to keep and bear arms in this country,” McConnell said.  “And so what I’ve done is encourage some bipartisan discussions that are going on. In fact, I just had a call with one of the members of it to see if we can find a way forward consistent with the Second Amendment that targets the problem.”

And another McConnell soundbite: “I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre. I’m going to keep in touch with them, and hopefully we can get an outcome that can actually pass and become law rather than just scoring points back and forth.”

Translation:  McConnell will encourage and support activities related to school security and mental health, but don’t expect him to ever say “gun”. Mitch may be the very best Silver Tongued Orator we will ever encounter live and in person.

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.

Some Thoughts on CPAC 2022

February 28, 2022

Has our education system failed us?

Over the past 3 decades, the U.S. has slowly lost its edge as the world leader in public education.  U.S. student proficiency in science and math – generally thought to be the foundation for independent and critical thinking – is mediocre, at best.

In a recent international comparison of achievement among 15 year old students from 71 countries, U.S. students ranked 36th in math, and 24th in science.

Some of these students — who have already been denied a rigorous education – are most vulnerable to inculcation and indoctrination.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that young adults who lack independent and/or critical thinking skills are likely to become the next generation of CPAC attendees.

Donald Trump is an expert communicator, highly skilled in techniques which are frequently cited by experts in mind control.

Trump focuses on a small number of issues which are emotionally important to a narrow group of people who feel lost or disenfranchised.

His communications are intended to provide understanding, comfort and answers to his audience, thus to gain their trust, despite often vague solutions to the identified problems.  Here are a few actual and verified Trump communiques (in no particular chronological order) which may have helped rally and solidify his audience:

  • “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  • “I am the only one who can make America truly great again.”
  • “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”
  • “I’m intelligent. Some people would say I’m very, very, very intelligent.”
  • “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
  • “We need a president with tremendous intelligence, smarts, cunning, strength and stamina.”
  • “Obama and his attack dogs have nothing but hate and anger in their hearts and spew it whenever possible.”
  • “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
  • “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
  • “I have a great relationship with African Americans, as you possibly have heard. I just have great respect for them. And they like me. I like them.”
  • “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
  • “[John McCain is]… not a war hero. He’s a war hero – he’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
  • “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in 3 years!”
  • “Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it than when other people have led it… If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.”
  • “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
  • “We can’t let people down when they can’t get any medical care, when they’re sick and don’t have money to go to a doctor. You help them.”
  • “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” [post-Charlottesville, VA; 2017].
  • “Corporations are literally going wild over this, I think even beyond my expectations.” [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; 2017]
  • “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.” [Re: Covid-19:  Jan. 2020]
  • “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!”
  • “So, look, all I want to do, is I want to find 11,780 votes.”
  • “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
  • “This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”
  • “Nobody has done more for Christianity or for evangelicals — or for religion itself — than I have.”
  • “They say, ‘Trump said Putin’s smart.’ I mean, he’s taking over a country for two dollars’ worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in.”
  • “As grave as the dangers are abroad, it’s the destruction within that spells our doom. Our most dangerous people are people from within. These are people that must hate our country because they make us weak. They indoctrinate your children to hate their parents while calling you a hateful racist. They use big tech to censor you. They use the deep state to spy on you. They use the intelligence agencies to frame you. They use the media to slander you. They use the legal system to persecute you. It is a persecution. They use rigged elections to disenfranchise you and destroy you and ruin your lives.”

Yes, Mr. Trump.  If we follow your lead, we must fear the left-wing fascists and dumb political leaders from within.  Some have said that these dumb political leaders are ‘truly evil people’ who are ‘afraid to do the right thing.’

Meanwhile, others have singled out a contingent of Republican elected officials – including: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida; Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee; Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana; Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma; Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas; Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and several more.

Concurrent with the CPAC conference, Rep. Greene distinguished herself as a speaker at a white supremacist event — the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) – also held in Florida.

Guests at the AFPAC conference openly cheered Russian President Vladimir Putin, and approved comparisons between Putin and Adolf Hitler, while calling the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “awesome.”

Despite a subsequent statement from the RNC Chairwoman saying “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party,” there was no rebuke of Marjorie Taylor Greene by name.

Yes, Mr. Trump.  There may be some left-wing fascists and dumb political leaders who were elected as Democrats.  If you could take just a moment to identify them and accurately describe their aberrant behavior(s), that would really be great.

Yet, we have irrefutable media evidence of public officials who were elected as Republicans and who have gone out of their way to favor Mr. Putin over our elected president.

Best I know:  This is clear essence of sedition, perhaps emanating a whiff of treason.

Perhaps, Mr. Trump, you will take a few moments to respond to these conclusions drawn from real facts?

Ron DeSantis: ‘We are right, and they are wrong.’

Ron DeSantis is a bully, and he has proved to be an awful Governor.

DeSantis thrives on political theatre, and he specializes in public events which use inflammatory tactics to rally a base of confused, uninformed and/or angry voters.

Since taking office in January 2019, DeSantis has:

  • Signed a sweeping voter suppression bill into law, citing baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Proposed a special police force to oversee state elections — the first of its kind in our nation — intended to protect Florida from nonexistent threats.
  • Opened pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites in wealthy Florida neighborhoods where his donors live.
  • Let nearly a million COVID-19 tests expire.
  • Appointed a science and medical contrarian (Lodapo) as Florida’s Surgeon General.
  • Occluded Florida COVID-19 data by firing DOH scientist (Jones), then sending armed tactical police to raid her personal residence.
  • Actively promoted the use of monoclonal antibody treatments as an alternative to vaccine.
  • Consistently refutes FDA guidance creating confusion and putting Florida residents at increased risk from COVID.
  • Orchestrated a fundraising tour across America while the Delta variant sickened and killed Floridians.
  • Signed laws restricting abortion access (2020).
  • Supports an oppressive abortion bill (SB 146 and HB 5) like the one in Mississippi.
  • Urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • Refused to accept that climate change is an existential threat to our state.
  • Failed to prepare Florida’s coastal communities for rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes.
  • Ignored the “red tide” algae bloom that scares off tourists, risking the engine which supports 1.6 million jobs and contributes over $96.5 Billion to the Florida economy.
  • Actively and aggressively created tension in our public education system resulting in a mass exodus of teachers and staff from Florida schools beginning in spring 2020.
  • In 2021, he targeted eight large school districts for defying his order prohibiting schools from enforcing mask mandates, helping to create toxic conditions for school district superintendents. This led to highly politicized and public confrontations and an unusual exodus of qualified and experienced leadership.

This is Ron DeSantis. He currently is Public Enemy Number One in the State of Florida.