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On Friday, Carl Quintanilla of CNBC News reported that Florida Republicans are quietly planning to reverse a key decision touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis designed to retaliate against the Walt Disney Corporation for criticizing one of his signature anti-LGBTQ laws.
Specifically, they are planning to reverse their previous move abolishing the Reedy Creek Improvement Act — a decades-old provision that allowed Disney to build Walt Disney World in the swamps outside Orlando and set up their own local government taxing district to administer the area.
This comes just weeks after DeSantis, who touted his war against Disney politically during the election campaign, was re-elected decisively — but before the repeal of the taxing district could actually take effect.
DeSantis and Republicans in the legislature abolished Disney's self-governing status to great fanfare earlier this year, in response to the corporation's public criticism of the so-called "Don't Say Gay" law.
Republicans claimed the measure was aimed at preventing sexual topics from being discussed with elementary schoolers, but experts and teachers warned it was written so broadly it can be used to effectively ban any gay teacher from mentioning their spouse in class or any transgender teacher from using their preferred pronouns.
Those fears, so far, appear to have been justified, as several LGBTQ teachers around Florida have resigned or been fired after acknowledging their identity in class.
It became clear even during passage of the measure to repeal the district, which would take effect in June of next year, that lawmakers hadn't thought through the consequences. Officials in Reedy Creek have stated that the repeal violates state law, as the debt issued for the project hasn't been paid off. Tax experts have even warned that if the repeal takes effect, property taxes would have to increase throughout much of the Orlando area to pay off the outstanding bonds.
DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw denied any tax increases would occur, although she did not give any legal assurance, simply saying that a plan to prevent that happening would be released later.
‘Another happy jobs day’: Economists thrilled with ‘amazing’ report as jobs growth beats expectations, wages increase
The Biden economy added a whopping 263,000 jobs last month, crushing expectations of 200,000, and wages are growing as well, leading one economist to declare "another happy jobs day."
The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adds that unemployment remains at a near-historic low of 3.7% in November, "and has been in a narrow range of 3.5 percent to 3.7 percent since March."
University of Michigan School of Economics Professor Justin Wolfers exclaimed, "It's yet ANOTHER happy jobs day. Payrolls rose +263k, well above expectations."
"This expansion just keeps on rolling on," added Wolfers, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.
Wolfers also takes on those who have been falsely pushing "recession" talking points.
"BTW, remember all that recession talk? It was nonsense. Bollocks. Cow dung," he tweets. "There never was a recession. And the economy sure doesn't look like it's in one now. Job growth at this rate is the economy singing: 'This is a robust expansion.'"
And he also slams the doom and gloom forecasters.
Economist David Rothschild sums up where the Biden economy is compared to the rest of the world.
"Economy is far from perfect," he writes, "but conditional on the worldwide pandemic and supply chain issues generated from pandemic: US economy has done *amazing* over last 2 years."
In news alerts The New York Times reported hiring "continued to exceed expectations," The Wall Street Journal called it "a sign of continued strength in the labor market," and even Fox News reported it as "stronger-than-expected." CNN referred to the jobs report as "robust" and "defying expectations."
"America’s jobs engine kept churning in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, a show of continued demand for workers despite the Federal Reserve’s push to curb inflation by tamping down hiring, The Times reported. "The labor market has been surprisingly resilient in the face of successive interest rate increases by the Fed over the past year. Even sectors normally sensitive to borrowing costs, like construction and manufacturing, have been slow to back off the brisk pace of growth they posted coming out of the pandemic."
The BLS also broke down unemployment numbers by demographics.
"Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (11.3 percent), Whites (3.2 percent), Blacks (5.7 percent), Asians (2.7 percent), and Hispanics (3.9 percent) showed little or no change over the month."
The days-long spectacle of Kanye West's final descent into ignominy reached an odious new low on Thursday when the antisemitic rapper (who now styles himself simply as Ye) appeared on Alex Jones' "Infowars" show with his new entourage led by white supremacist Nick Fuentes to declare that he was a big fan of Hitler and "we got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time." He ended the day by posting an image of a swastika intertwined with a Star of David to his recently restored Twitter account, which was later suspended (again). Elon Musk tweeted that he had tried his best to keep Ye on the platform but the rapper finally "went too far."
Really, Elon? Ya think?
It took most Republicans more than a week to say a peep about Ye and Fuentes' dinner with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last week and most of their comments were along the lines of "Trump should show better judgment in his dinner companions." A handful, notably House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, eventually announced that the GOP "has no place" for antisemitism or white supremacy. Over the course of this week, most prominent members of the party found some way to say they disapproved of all this unpleasantness, even if it those words had to be dragged out of them. The controversy is simply too offensive to avoid altogether.
But there is one very prominent Republican who has not said a word: the other Florida superstar, Gov. Ron DeSantis. For a man who has never seen a culture-war issue he didn't want to jump into with both feet, this seems odd, especially since he's being widely touted as the answer to the party's "Trump problem." That would assume that the Trump problem has something to do with his embrace of white supremacy and bigotry in general, and there's not much reason to think DeSantis sees that as a problem.
Rolling Stone reports that the Florida governor and his team have made a calculated decision to say nothing on this issue that's roiling the political world:
"In ongoing discussions following his reelection, including this week, I've been asked to keep my powder dry," says Dan Eberhart, a longtime GOP donor — and former big Trump donor — recalling his conversations with Team DeSantis. (Eberhart is now backing DeSantis for 2024). "My understanding is that the DeSantis team doesn't see upside in kicking off the fight with Trump this early, even if it may be inevitable. Wading into the Fuentes fiasco just isn't worth it for them. The media will harpoon Trump without Team DeSantis lifting a finger."
This explanation is all about political positioning relative to Trump. It doesn't sound as if "Team DeSantis" has even given a passing thought to the question of whether this issue should be addressed on the merits. There's a good reason for that. DeSantis and his crew, much like Trump, understand perfectly well that to win the Republican nomination they will need to cater to the large and growing faction of base voters who see no problem in Trump consorting with antisemites and white supremacists and bigots of all varieties, and even openly approve of it.
There have been several antisemitic demonstrations in Florida in recent months that had nothing to do with Donald Trump and DeSantis made no move to denounce any of it. As the headliner at the Turning Point Conference in Tampa last summer, he refused to disavow a group of Nazis who demonstrated outside the convention center with swastikas and flags that said "DeSantis Country." Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., condemned the neo-Nazis, tweeting, "This is a disgusting act of hateful anti-Semitism and doesn't belong in Florida, our nation or anywhere across the world," but the governor himself stayed silent, leading the Orlando Sentinel and the Miami Herald to call him out.
An earlier Nazi rally in Orlando last spring had DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw suggesting that the demonstrators were Democratic plants. She later deleted the tweet but an earlier post (for which she also had to apologize) about Georgia Republicans being manipulated by the Rothschild family — an ancient antisemitic trope — suggested Pushaw's true inclinations. Whether that reflected yet more cynical political strategy or heartfelt belief is unclear, not that it makes any difference.
DeSantis never responded directly, although he ultimately call the demonstrators "jackasses," as if they were just a few youthful pranksters who'd gotten out of hand. Instead he blamed the "Democrats who are trying to use this as some type of political issue to smear me, as if I had something to do with it," insisting, "We're not playing their game." As with the current Trump-Kanye controversy, he reduced it to a question of political advantage instead of addressing the issue itself.
It's not just about Nazis. DeSantis has the same reaction to non-swastika white supremacists as well. Over this past weekend a plane flew over the football stadium in Jacksonville with a Confederate flag and the unambiguous message "PUT MONUMENTS BACK." When asked about it, the Sunshine State's leader once again refused to directly confront the issue:
This is the man that Jim Geraghty extolled in the Washington Post as a "return to normal," claiming that "DeSantis would be a Republican nominee without Donald Trump's worst and most destructive impulses and habits." Apparently, coddling neo-Nazis and other white supremacists as valued members of the GOP base is not among those destructive impulses, because there is no visible daylight between Ron and Don on that score.
Ron DeSantis is also an election denier, an anti-vaxxer and a Jan. 6 conspiracy theorist. As New York magazine's Jonathan Chait reported, he marked the first anniversary of the insurrection "by wooing right-wing social-media personalities with an invitation to his office, dinner at the governor's mansion, and rooftop drinks." No one should fool themselves into believing that because DeSantis doesn't have Trump's specific personality defects he doesn't share Trump's deplorable political instincts.
We are seeing in real time the revival of overt antisemitism and racism on a level we have not seen for decades. It is the primary source of energy on the right and it's fueling the campaigns of the top two candidates for the 2024 Republican nomination for president. in 2024. In that respect, there isn't a dime's worth of difference between them.