First They Came For The Bloggers…

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Creeping fascism strikes again as a Florida senator takes aim at bloggers – and the First Amendment.
From WFLA:

Florida Sen. Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) wants bloggers who write about Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and other members of the Florida executive cabinet or legislature to register with the state or face fines.

Brodeur’s proposal, Senate Bill 1316: Information Dissemination, would require any blogger writing about government officials to register with the Florida Office of Legislative Services or the Commission on Ethics.

Whether the writer files with the Legislative office or the Ethics commission depends on whom the article was about.

The bill would require bloggers to register if they wrote “an article, a story, or a series of stories” about “the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, a Cabinet officer, or any member of the Legislature” and receive any compensation for the post. Once such a story is published, the writer would have 5 days to register with the state. If any further stories about the listed officials are published, the writer would then be required to file a monthly report. They would also have to disclose how much they were paid for the story. Failure to do so would result in a fine of $25 per day that the registration or report is late, up to $2500 per report. The writer also much estimate how much they will earn from the post, though the bill allows later payments to be reported on subsequent filings. The bill exempts newspapers and “similar publications.”

This potential law seems intended to intimidate writers by making bloggers register with the government. Nothing in the bill states what will be done with the information – at least as it stands now – but leaves open the question of what the government might use it for in the future. Given DeSantis’ hostility toward the press, it’s likely he would sign such a bill, and he has a history of going after those who disagree with him.

Speaking of which, Florida is also considering making it easier to sue the press for defamation. A bill introduced by State Rep. Alex Andrade would make it easier to sue news outlets for defamation. The bill is modeled on ideas DeSantis expressed at a recent conference and directly challenges the Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. vs Sullivan, a 1964 case that created the current standard for being able to successfully sue someone for defamation. It states that a public figure (or private individual seeking punitive damages) must show that a publication acted with “actual malice” – meaning that they knew the information was false and published it anyway – or “reckless disregard for the truth” to prevail. For DeSantis, this is too high of a standard.

Sullivan established a higher bar for public figures to successfully sue for defamation. Not only would the new law do away with this long-established standard, but it would also change the definition of who is a public figure. This law would exclude people who are famous because they are defending themselves against an accusation, gave an interview on a specific topic, are public employees (except for elected and appointed officials) or had an image, video, or statement go viral.

The bill assumes that if a defamatory statement is not verified or corroborated, it is evidence of actual malice on the part of the reporter and assumes that any anonymously sourced information is false by default.

Because the defamation law is intended – as stated in the bill itself – to challenge the Sullivan standard, some of its provisions may end up affecting journalism not just in Florida, but nationwide. Presumably, any challenge to the law would have to go to the US Supreme Court to overturn Sullivan, and both Gorsuch and Thomas have indicated an interest in reviewing that standard.

If these proposed laws don’t seem too bad to you, keep in mind, they can always be expanded. Just as an example, when the “Parental Rights in Education” (aka “Don’t Say Gay”) law was a bill, they offered reassurances that it would only impact students through the third grade. Already, though, an expansion of the law is being proposed that would not only extend the restrictions through 8th grade, with conditions placed on what can be taught all the way through 12th grade, but it would also prohibit anyone from referring to a teacher or student by any pronoun besides the one that corresponds to their gender at birth.

DeSantis loves to say that Florida is “Where woke goes to die,” but clearly, Florida isn’t content with just killing “woke” (whatever that’s supposed to be.) These bills show they are just as happy to go after Free Speech as well.

Feb. 25 – Neo-Nazi Groups Plan National Day of Hate

Burning matches in the form of a Swastika with a STOP sign overlayed on top of them.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


According to Telegram posts located by Counter Extremism Project (CEP) researchers, several neo-Nazi groups in certain locations in the United States are planning an antisemitic “National Day of Hate” on Saturday, February 25. The participants are identified as the National Socialist Movement, two regional active club chapters in Iowa and California, and a small New York-based group. Other groups around the country may also be participating. The announcement post on Telegram encouraged propaganda activities such as dropping banners, putting up stickers and fliers, and vandalism through graffiti.

While activities such as those listed in the announcement are bad enough, there is always the concern that some participants will decide to go beyond the suggested actions.

The Telegram announcement cites 4 groups as the participants, but, clearly, the purpose of the announcement is to get others involved as well. Police in Chicago and New York City have said that they are monitoring the situation:

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement on Thursday, “At this time, there is no actionable intelligence,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We continue to actively monitor the situation.”


A similar statement by the NYPD circulating online said that officers should maintain “elevated situational awareness” on Saturday – the Jewish Sabbath – for violent extremism.


While an NYPD spokesperson said while there are currently no credible threats, “out of an abundance of caution, the Department will deploy additional resources to sensitive locations, including houses of worship, throughout the weekend,” according to local news.

I’ve written a few posts lately on the issue of creeping fascism, the growing assault by state legislative and executive bodies taking aim at progressive ideas in schools, workplaces and society at large. Here, the fascism isn’t creeping. This “National Day of Hate” is in-your-face fascism intended to keep the public – and in this case, especially our Jewish neighbors – afraid of the extreme right-wing.

Jews have long faced significant anti-Semitic hate. In just one recent example, a twitter user, Rachel Bitecofer, posted a video of a man at an intersection, yelling hateful messages through a bullhorn at any car he thought was carrying Jews. Other common actions have included the desecration of graves, graffiti and vandalism at synagogues and other Jewish centers, the distribution of flyers throughout neighborhoods and, of course, attacks and murders.

Their goal is fear, and the extremists know that the more we fear them, the more power they have. Yes, caution is necessary when combating hate, but fear is not. One of the best ways to combat activities such as this is to keep your eyes open and if you see people participating in hateful activities, report it. For Feb. 25th, when this specific initiative is planned, keep a special look out for synagogues and Jewish Civic Centers or other Jewish gathering places. If you aren’t able to do that – for whatever reason – please at least spread the word so others can. Let’s help shove the fascists back under the rock they crawled out from.

Ron DeSantis Takes Aim At Higher Education

Ron DeSantis is upping his assault on education in Florida. According to the New York Times (Gift Link), he has now engineered a takeover of the small progressive public liberal-arts college New College by firing almost half of it’s board of directors who, in turn, fired the university president with the goal of transforming it into a “beacon of conservatism.”:

Mr. DeSantis’s education commissioner has expressed a desire to remake the school in the image of Hillsdale College, a small Christian school in Michigan that has been active in conservative politics.

Over 25 tumultuous days last month, the Republican governor removed six of the college’s 13 trustees, replacing them with allies holding strongly conservative views. The new board then forced out the college’s president, a career educator, and named Mr. DeSantis’s former education commissioner, a career politician, as her replacement. On Monday, the board signed off on paying its pick a salary of $699,000 a year, more than double what his predecessor earned.


One of the new trustees, Christopher Rufo, said in early January that the school’s academic departments “are going to look very different in the next 120 days.”

It’s not just New College DeSantis wants to change. His goal is to change public higher education throughout the state of Florida.

On Jan. 31, when the college president was ousted, Mr. DeSantis unveiled higher education policies — to further weaken faculty tenure protections, eliminate diversity and equity programs and mandate Western civilization courses — that for many deepened a chill that had already taken hold across Florida’s public colleges and universities. The state has made it harder for faculty members to retain tenure, asked students and faculty to fill out a survey about their political leanings and requested information about resources for transgender students.

DeSantis’ rallying cry for his assault on public education has been concern that schools are “indoctrinating” students, yet he has no problem with indoctrinating students with a conservative agenda, and in fact seems to think that should be their purpose. These are schools that are not only paid for by the student’s tuition, but by the state’s taxpayers, yet instead of giving students a solid, broad-based education, DeSantis’ goal – here as in K-12 schools – is to present them one single paradigm through which to view the world – that of white Christian males.

Its easy to say that if parents don’t want their children indoctrinated into DeSantis’ extreme right-wing agenda, they can just send their children elsewhere. But where would that be? A significant number families cannot afford private school tuition or the out-of-state costs for public schools in diversity-friendly states – and, of course, many of those families are minorities. It likely no coincidence that DeSantis wants to do away with any kind of studies that would allow minorities to learn the history and achievements of people like themselves. He’d rather keep them thinking that all the good in the world comes from the hand of white Christians.

This kind of widespread whitewashing of Florida’s public education is part of DeSantis’ growing fascism, and not only is it pushing minorities back into a lower place in the social hierarchy, it’s attracting more fascists to the state:

As DeSantis increases attacks on the #LGBTQ community and beyond, Neo-Nazi organizers are moving to Florida to grow their movement.

Recently, a small group of neo-Nazi Groypers, followers of Nick Fuentes, have attempted to hold events across #Florida campuses lauding Adolf Hitler and promoting Holocaust denial, all under the banner of Kanye West’s run for president in 2024.

In addition to seeing Florida as a friendly place to recruit new members, as DeSantis’ creeping fascism continues to spread to all areas of the state, Neo-Nazis and Christian Nationalists will see it as a great place to raise famlies where their kids can be safe from learning about slavery, the nation’s treatment of Native Americans, the white fight against minority civil rights and – most importantly, I suspect – the still-evolving repercussions of our national sins.

If DeSantis and his fascist fans aren’t going to be happy with a right-wing extremist takeover of Florida – they want the whole country. Many tried to warn of the dangers Donald Trump posed and we came close to losing our Democracy because people didn’t take the message seriously. This time we really can’t afford to lose. After the disaster Trump proved to be, people may be more willing to hear the warnings this time. Adding your voice can help make sure there are plenty of warnings for them to hear.

The FBI and Religious Espionage

Hands folded in prayer, holding a rosary, resting on the back of a pew in a church.

In a letter sent to FBI Director and US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Virginia Attorney General and the attorneys general of 19 other states demanded an explanation for a memo recently leaked from the Richmond, VA, office that targets certain Catholic groups as possible domestic threats and suggests recruiting people within the churches to spy on fellow worshipers.

The memo, which became public on February 8, targets Catholics as potential threats due to their religious beliefs and is a cause for concern among the attorneys general.

The [leaked] memo, which distinguishes between acceptable and unacceptable Catholic beliefs and practices, seams to suggest that Catholics who prefer a traditional Latin mass and pre-Vatican II teachings are “radical-traditionalists” who could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” The document further implies that the FBI should develop “sources with access” in “places of worship,” suggesting that the FBI may begin recruiting Catholics to spy on their fellow worshippers.

A full copy of the letter about the memo can be found at the bottom of this page.

The signatories to this letter are not a group of people I would normally agree with about much, as they are the attorneys general of some of the most conservative states in the country. And there are several examples and comments I disagree with in the letter. The main theses of the letter, however, that the FBI should not be defining “appropriate” and “inappropriate” beliefs and practices or targeting individuals because of their religion, are ones I can support wholeheartedly, as long as it’s applied to all religions equally. If someone truly is a threat, then there will be indications of this in their general behavior as well, not just in their religious life.

Saying that “Catholics who prefer a traditional Latin mass and pre-Vatican II teachings are “radical-traditionalists” who could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”” is a pretty sweeping statement. There are likely many older Catholics who may prefer the old ways for reasons that have nothing to do with any kind of extremism.

Of course, part of my concern stems from how easily the FBI could target my faith in a similar way. Because a number of the violent, fascist, white supremacist Heathen groups focus on Odin, the FBI could suggest that Heathens who consider themselves “Odinists” or “Wotanists” could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” The thing is, there are many Inclusive Heathens, who also consider themselves Odinists and are not a threat to anyone. The FBI would be better served by seeking to find those who have white supremacist tattoos or engage in nakedly racist behavior in public, own several weapons, often speak in violent terms and so on – all things that can be observed without taking their professed religious beliefs into account.

Didn’t we learn anything from the fallout of the NYPD targeting Muslims and trying to get eyes into the mosques following 9/11? Or is this a lesson law enforcement will have to keep relearning?

Hopefully, the program suggested by the memo never got off the ground or will be quickly shut down. Either way, people of faith will apparently need to keep an eye on law enforcement if they want to protect their civil liberties.

Letter to Attorney General … by Ezra Hercyk

Nationwide Effects of State Decisions

One of the biggest dangers our country faces today is the creeping fascism of people like Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump and other right-wing extremists. So far, most of the damage has been confined to the conservative red states, but that may not always be the situation. In a current anti-abortion case, the results would affect every state – even those that have upheld a woman’s right to choose.

An anti-abortion group, The Alliance Defending Freedom, has filed a suit that would force the FDA to revoke its approval of mifepristone, claiming it is unsafe. Mifepristone is one part of a two-drug regimen that can be taken in the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy to end it. This is currently the most common form of abortion used in the country.

A judge in Texas is preparing to make a ruling in this case, but just because he’s in Texas doesn’t mean his decision would only impact Texas. If he rules the FDA must revoke its approval, the pill would become unavailable in the entire US. According to Bloomsburg Law:

Medical associations have defended the safety of mifepristone, a drug that studies show is safer than and sends fewer people to the emergency room than Tylenol and Viagra. Many attorneys say ADF’s argument is without merit, though note Kacsmaryk’s track record suggests he’s likely to give a sympathetic ear.

“This would be the first time a court has ever taken a drug off the market over the objection of the FDA and a drug sponsor. It’s just totally unprecedented,” said Greer Donley, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Of particular concern in this instance is that the ADF chose to file their petition in this particular court in order to get this particular judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, who is a Trump appointee and known to be sympathetic to conservative causes.

The federal trial court judge in the Northern District of Texas has halted federal action meant to protect asylum seekers and tossed rules expanding teen access to birth control. He also rejected a policy that stopped doctors from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Kacsmaryk now has the opportunity to strip a common drug used in medication abortions of its federal approval and block regulators from enforcing a Labor Department rule that permits private-sector employers to consider environmental, societal, and governance factors when choosing investments for 401(k) plans.

Deliberately filing a case in a district where the plaintiff is most likely going to get a sympathetic judge is known as judge shopping. Kacsmaryk’s court is popular for conservatives to file in, not only because of his own conservative leanings, but because any appeals of his rulings will go to the 5th District Court, which is also notoriously conservative, and from there it goes to our conservative-loaded Supreme Court.

The courts are likely to become one of the biggest battlegrounds in the fight against creeping fascism. President Biden needs to push through as many judicial nominations as he can while we hold the Senate to counter the large number of judged Trump was able to appoint. As for judge shopping, unfortunately, I don’t know of a solution for that. Hopefully, someone more educated in the law will have some ideas.

Want to Know Which Books are Being Banned in Florida?

A little girl is standing in a room full of empty bookshelves, some with cobwebs on them. The caption is "GOP-Approved School Library"

With Ron DeSantis’ “moral crusade” trying to outlaw anything that might be offensive to white Christians men, Florida is becoming a pretty scary place. What makes it worse is that he wants to be President and what he’s doing in Florida now is what he wants to do to the entire United States. Because of this, his actions and actions taken by officials in Florida counties and cities deserve close attention.

Among his worst offensives is his rampage on books in schools. PEN America a literary freedom advocacy organization published a list showing 176 books that had been banned in Duval Country, Florida. This list was published on December 6th, 2022, so there may be more books on it now, as if the current list isn’t long enough.
They report:

PEN America on Tuesday presented a joint letter with We Need Diverse Books and authors and illustrators of 176 books removed from classrooms in Duval County, Florida, in January 2022 for “review.” They have been kept in storage for 10 months with little indication of when they might return to classrooms.

The removed titles were part of the Essential Voices Classroom Libraries Collection, purchased by the district in 2021. This collection “features characters representing a variety of ethnicities, religious affiliations, and gender identities,” and includes children’s picture books such as Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin, and Berenstain Bears and the Big Question by Stan and Jan Berenstain.

Looking through the titles, I keep wondering what could be offensive about some of these books. Yes, they celebrate the lives or accomplishments of women or non-whites, talk about how non-white or non-Christian families might celebrate certain holidays, contain stories about non-white families or families that might look different than the so-called “ideal”, or relate tales from other countries. But why should that be considered offensive? Right, it shouldn’t.

This is just one example of the new fascism that right-wing extremists want to force us to live under. If we don’t find ways to stop what’s happening in Florida, even if Ron DeSantis himself never become President, others with his same ideals just might, with disasterous results. If you’re part of a school board or are a parent active in your schools, fight for your kids to be able to read books like those on this list. And even if you’re not, do whatever you can to help defeat candidates who want to bring this kind of creeping fascism to the US. We have too much to lose.

News on “The Traitors”

According to Andy Denhard at “Reality Blurred Peacock has announced a Season Two renewal for their great reality show “The Traitors.” In addition, they will be bringing Season One of “The Traitors UK” to the US as well. According to Denhart, the US season was filmed first, but reports are that the UK season, which uses the same challenges and castle, is even better. He speculates that this is because the crew had a chance to work out all the bugs. We’ll see!

It’s 3 AM. Do You Know Where Your Violent Protest Is?

Earlier tonight on his FoxNews show, Tucker Carlson said we need to be afraid of Antifa again because they’re organizing “violence” across the country tonight. He even cited comments by the head of the “Fredericksburg, Maryland chapter” to buttress his claims. But at 3AM, all appears to be quiet in our major cities – or they’re at least not being disturbed by violent hordes of anti-Fascists. The FoxNews webpage has no stories on violent protests happening this evening, nor do CNN’s or MSNBC’s. So, what happened? Where did the protests go?

As may be obvious, there never were any protests planned. The threat was a lie. Antifa isn’t organizing anything. It can’t. Why not? Because Antifa isn’t an organization in any normally understood meaning of the word. There’s no organizational structure, no leader/president/CEO, no headquarters or local/regional chapters (not even in Fredericksburg, Maryland). There’s no way to apply to be a member, no membership fee or donations, no member roster, no membership list, no meetings and – sorry Tucker – no organizational plans. It can’t be a militia, and it can’t be mobilizing to commit violence because it doesn’t exist in that form.

Antifa is a portmanteau used to indicate that someone or something opposes Fascism. It literally means “anti-Fascist” and came into vogue to describe the tactics employed by people protesting Fascism. Some right-wing leaders and broadcasters, however, have made it one of their biggest boogiemen, casting it as an mysterious, violent group dedicated to ruining our way of life (and by their reckoning, “our” means “white people’s”.)

There are sufficient genuine threats in the world that we don’t need either side creating imaginary ones. While it’s possible that some people opposed to Fascism are plotting to engage in violence, “Antifa” as an organization is not. Rather than telling scary stories about large groups planning to riot “on both coasts and in the middle,” wouldn’t it be better to focus on any actual, known threats? The problem with that, of course, is that focusing only on real threats doesn’t scare nearly enough people, and history has shown that one of the most effective ways to get communities to accept an authoritarian, totalitarian, or Fascist government is to keep them afraid, and offer authoritarianism as the best way to protect everyone.

By morning, most who saw Tucker’s breathless fear-mongering will have forgotten there were supposed to be violent riots overnight, but the bit of fear he inflicted upon them as they watched his show will still be there. They’ve been given another reason to fear “Antifa” – whatever that may be – and have subconsciously absorbed it. And that’s how an imaginary “political militia” engages in imaginary “violence” and becomes another reason for people to think they need a strongman government to protect them.

David Crosby 1941 – 2023

David Crosby with an extremely large joint

David Crosby, a singer and guitarist who played with The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash/Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has passed away at 81. According to Slate:

The Croz, who died Thursday at the age of 81 following a “long illness,” embodied the rebellious, abrasive, creatively innovative spirit of late-’60s California as well as anyone of his time. As the co-founder of two of the greatest American rock bands—the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills & Nash (& sometimes Young)—Crosby played an indelible role in some of the most influential tunes of the folk-rock era: for the Byrds, songs like “Eight Miles High” and their covers of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (both No. 1 hits), and for CSN(Y), tracks like “Guinnevere,” “Wooden Ships,” and “Almost Cut My Hair.” He also played with several other notable artists of the period, adding his jazzy six-string licks and vocal harmonies to recordings by James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King, and onetime girlfriend Joni Mitchell (whose career took off because of Crosby, and who later broke up with his cheating ass by penning a song about it).

One of Rock’s great elder statesmen, Crosby had a long and prolific career. His last studio album, “For Free” was released in 2021, and was followed by a live album in 2022.

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