Press "Enter" to skip to content

Author: Craig Cheslog

Ron DeSantis’ Authoritarian Message

Ruth Ben-Ghiat analyzes how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ used the Special Olympics to send an authoritarian message to voters.

DeSantis threatened the Special Olympics (pause and let those words sink in) with a $27.5 million fine if the organization did not revoke its vaccine mandate. It doesn’t matter to DeSantis that mandate is in place to protect the vulnerable people who compete.

Ben-Ghiat explains how this fits within a pattern of DeSantis deploying the traits of an authoritarian leader:

Such individuals also love to engage in the autocrat game of “making an example” of people or entities that other politicians might not touch due to their size, influence or popularity. The point of this game is to show that no one is above being punished by them.

This is why, along with the usual GOP targets (the LBGTQ community, Blacks, and immigrants) we find DeSantis going after the Special Olympics. That’s not the move you make if you care about being seen as decent, but it’s the move you make if you want to be feared. (emphasis in original)

DeSantis is a favorite for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, especially if Donald Trump does not run again. He is showing us who he is. He is showing us what the Republican Party has become. The danger to our democracy isn’t just about one former president and his group of close followers. An entire section of our country is supporting it.

Bad Legal Rulings and Online Misogyny Are a Toxic Mix

Michael Hobbs does an outstanding job explaining how the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial spun out of control and led to such a horrible outcome in this guest post at Parker Malloy’s The Present Age.

If you’re surprised to learn Heard’s narrative or the scale of the evidence supporting it, that’s because it has played almost no role in the internet free-for-all that has surrounded this case for the last six weeks. 

Hobbs puts the trial and the internet focus into context and explains why it led to a bad result in this case—and how it could lead to more problems in the future.

He also highlights something that stunned me when I first learned of it:

In hindsight, the verdict came down the minute the judge allowed the case to be televised. Jurors weren’t sequestered or sheltered from the internet in any way, meaning they were likely exposed to the same bad-faith memes and out-of-context clips as everyone else. Plus, this case has been swirling around the internet for years, making an impartial jury an impossibility in the first place. One man was allowed to stay in the jury pool after revealing a text from his wife that read, “Amber is psychotic.” (emphasis added)

How? How can that happen?

I hope you’ll read Hobb’s analysis of the case. It’s the best I’ve seen out there. I also hope you’ll subscribe to The Present Age, Parker Malloy does an excellent job with it.

Also, I know from personal experience how much of a negative impact false accusations can have on a person. But evidence is evidence. This trial is another example of what happens when sound judicial judgments lose out to a trial in the media and social media.

Process matters. We just have to do better.

What Do Cops Do?

Alex Pareene offers a theory about why the police act as they do:

Having spent many years observing cop behavior, reading news about cops, and occasionally even asking them for help, I have come to a pretty simple but comprehensive answer: They do what is easy, and avoid what is difficult.

Pareene offers several examples later in his newsletter to explain why do police have multiple people arrest someone on a minor misdemeanor while ignoring challenging investigations or not trying to stop a school massacre.

Don’t Lose The Plot

David Pell urges us to keep the central issue in mind even as we try to hold law enforcement accountable for its lies and failures in Uvalde.

This is not a story about doors. It’s not a story about cellphones in schools. It’s not a story about the evasive Uvalde police chief. This is a story about America placing a greater value on being able to buy machines designed to kill really fast than we do on the lives of our children. Don’t lose the plot.

Democrats Should Do Something

Molly Jung-Fast writes about the need for Democrats to do something in the wake of the recent gun massacres.

In her Wait, What? newsletter, she quotes Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman making an essential observation:

“At a time when the other side has basically declared war on reality, and is willing to lie about something as fundamental as who won an election, it’s important that Democrats not only call out the BS, but take a stand and don’t back down from a fight. When the stakes are this high, we need more Democrats who are clear and confident about what we believe, refuse to apologize for it, and don’t run away scared every time Republicans call us names.”

I’d love it if Democrats started fighting. Results can’t be guaranteed, but it would be great if we could see some fight and passion from our elected leaders.

Nuclear Weapons Planning

Tom Nichols explains in his Peacefield newsletter how the United States has lost so much of its nuclear weapon planning capacity since the end of the Cold War. This is a real challenge now that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has at least rhetorically put their use on the table during his Ukrainian invasion.

As Nichols explains:

The fall of the Soviet Union changed many things, but in nuclear matters it changed almost nothing. The missiles and their warheads remained where they were. They continue to wait in silent service. The crews in silos, submarines, and bombers now consist of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the people who built the first nuclear weapons and created the plans for their use. And yet for years we have conducted international politics as if we have somehow solved the problem of nuclear war.

Of course, we haven’t. If we ever see more peaceful times again, we shouldn’t again mistake ignoring these issues. Hopefully, we can survive the inevitable escalations or mistakes that a crisis such as the current one will create.