CHICAGO – When Michael “Moose” Cusack was born in the Chicago Lying-in Hospital in 1956, doctors told his parents that something was wrong — he had Down syndrome. They advised: don’t bring him home. It was better to institutionalize him early, his parents were told. John and Esther Cusack’s first step toward challenging the status quo was bringing their son home. They raised him, loved him and nurtured him the same as his four sisters. Their support allowed Moose to become a champion. As a 12-year-old, he competed at Soldier Field with a thousand other athletes, some swimming in an above groun...
Some analyses of Trumpism and Republican populism have claimed to detect a strain of anti-corporate sentiment. It is true that today’s right-wingers are willing to criticize big tech companies for supposedly treating them unfairly, but most of the time the GOP continues to serve the interests of big business.
That was clear during an important hearing just held by the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust, commercial and administrative law. Subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.), vice-chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), other Democratic members and the witnesses all raised serious questions about the current regulatory system, focusing on issues such as disclosure and social equity.
The Republicans, on the other hand, did their best to change the subject or spoke in favor of less rather than more oversight. Ranking member Ken Buck (R-Colo.) used his opening remarks to attack “executive overreach” and praise the Trump Administration’s wholesale attack on regulation.
Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) spent his time attacking what he claimed was a plan by the Justice Department to treat parents critical of school boards as domestic terrorists. One of the witnesses, NAACP climate justice director Jacqueline Patterson, was asked by Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) whether she was a revolutionary. She was also chastised for a facetious tweet about vaccines. The comments of GOP members on regulation were mainly limited to attacks on “woke bureaucrats.”
Despite these antics, there was a serious exchange between the Democrats and the witnesses on the failures of the current regulatory system. These issues are also addressed in the Stop Corporate Capture Act introduced by Rep. Jayapal. The legislation would create more transparency in rulemaking, reduce corporate influence over the process and create a framework for considering social equity. It would fine companies that lie about the impact of public interest rules. It would also create a Public Advocate to provide for more robust public participation.
It turns the usual discussion on its head. Rejecting the idea of executive overreach, the bill correctly diagnoses the problem as a situation of what one might call regulatory anemia. Agencies are not aggressive enough in tackling serious problems relating to the environment, the workplace and the marketplace. The parties meant to be targeted instead are playing an outsized role in creating the rules. Hence the reference in the bill’s title to regulatory capture.
Jayapal’s proposal is what one might call a populist approach to reforming the regulatory system—one that is not likely to receive support from corporate lobbyists. When they are not simply kicking up dust, Republicans, by contrast, are doing the bidding of big business by continuing the Trump Administration’s drumbeat against regulation.
This is one of those areas in which the conventional labels of U.S. politics continue to baffle me. Why are those working to benefit giant corporations called populists, while those who are seeking to rein in that power are called elitists?
‘What wannabe totalitarian, fascist dictators do’: Alarm over DeSantis move to form his own ‘personal militia’
Critics are responding with alarm to news Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is asking for millions of taxpayer funds to create his own militia force, separate from the existing National Guard.
CNN calls it "a World War II-era civilian military force that he, not the Pentagon, would control." And while the law allows for the move, it was created "as a temporary force to fill the void left behind" when the state's National Guard was deployed overseas, and "disbanded after the war ended."
But the highly-controversial Florida Republican, seen as one of the top 2024 GOP presidential candidates, is also making clear his motives are a further escalation in his war of words against the Biden administration.
"DeSantis also said this unit, called the Florida State Guard, would be 'not encumbered by the federal government.' He said this force would give him 'the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible.'"
For some reason, Ron Desantis now feels the need to create a state militia under his control. pic.twitter.com/q4EJUEGG4i
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) December 3, 2021
It's also being seen as one more potential attack on science during the coronavirus pandemic era. All National Guard members must be vaccinated. DeSantis opposes all vaccine and mask mandates and has invited unvaccinated, fired police officers from others states to move to Florida – and offering them a $5000 payment.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, now a U.S. Congressman but running to unseat DeSantis, called DeSantis' militia a "handpicked secret police" force.
No Governor should have his own handpicked secret police. https://t.co/BWEPhM5rHa
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) December 2, 2021
Perhaps one of the strongest warnings comes from SiriusXM Progress host Dean Obeidallah, who calls it "the beginning of a 'Red Army' as the GOP prepares for war."
DeSantis also said this unit would be "not encumbered by the federal government." In other words it would be Ron DeSantis personal militia. You know like political leaders in Iraq and Syria have. #TrumpsRedArmy https://t.co/rmZ93fa7mr
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) December 3, 2021
"The same Republicans who claim Jan 6 was not a terrorist attack but just a 'tourist visit' now tell us not to be concerned with Ron DeSantis forming a personal militia that he says will 'not encumbered by the federal government,'" Obeidallah adds. "This is a Red Army!!!"
MSNBC's Joy Reid likened the move to fascism, asking: "So… y’all know this is fascisty bananas, right…?"
Attorney and DeSantis critic Daniel Uhlfelder noted the governor's "classic authoritarian move" on bringing his son to the announcement.
In a classic authoritarian move Ron DeSantis brought his young son to brag about announcement of his reinstatement of long defunct Florida state guard. The Florida state guard would be under DeSantis’s sole power without any interference. @RemoveRon pic.twitter.com/tr6HyDJmZL
— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) December 3, 2021
"More setting up for 2024 coup!" tweeted Amy Siskind, The New Agenda founder and author of The Weekly List.
Research and strategic communication CEO Fernand Amandi describes DeSantis' move as "What wannabe totalitarian, fascist, authoritarian dictators do."
Alec Baldwin said he does not feel guilty for the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of "Rust," as he explained that he started cocking the gun that killed the cinematographer but did not pull the trigger.
"I feel that someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is. But I know it's not me," the US actor told ABC in his first major interview since the on-set tragedy in New Mexico in October.
"I mean, I honest to God, if I felt that I was responsible, I might have killed myself," he said in the interview broadcast Thursday.
Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on the low-budget Western when the Colt .45 he was brandishing discharged a live round that struck Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who survived.
The former "30 Rock" star said the criminal investigation should focus on discovering who had brought live rounds onto the set of "Rust."
"I don't have anything to hide," he said.
Describing the incident in detail, Baldwin said he had been told the gun was "cold" -- industry lingo for a firearm containing no live ammunition -- and had been instructed by Hutchins to point the gun in her direction as she prepared to film the scene.
"I let go of the hammer. Bang. The gun goes off," he said.
"Everyone is horrified. They're shocked. It's loud. They don't have their earplugs in... the gun was supposed to be empty. I was told I was handed an empty gun."
Baldwin said he initially thought Hutchins may have fainted or had a heart attack, and was only told she had been killed with a live round hours later following a lengthy police interview.
He dismissed suggestions that live rounds may have been introduced on set as an act of sabotage, saying it was "overwhelmingly likely that it was an accident."
Baldwin, along with other people working on "Rust," is facing two civil lawsuits, while prosecutors have refused to rule out criminal charges.
He said he would be "stunned" if Hutchins' husband did not also file a lawsuit against producers, including himself.
The tragedy has sent shockwaves through Hollywood, and led to calls for guns to be permanently banned from sets.
Baldwin said he had been called a "murderer" since the incident, but disputed claims from some critics that it was an actor's responsibility to check weapons.
But, he said, the tragedy had changed things for him.
"I can't imagine I'd ever do a movie that had a gun in it again," said Baldwin.