DeSantis v. Mouse and Other Farces

Some of you live in Florida. How is the governor’s war with Mickey Mouse going over with the natives?

I wrote awhile back that I thought the alleged DeSantis presidential bid had already peaked, and it seems the nation’s political analysts are coming around to the same conclusion. And I don’t think getting sued by Disney is going to help him any. I suspect the Disney lawsuit has merits, since from this distance it sure as bleep looks like the governor has been singling Disney out for punishment, presumably for speaking out about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. See, for example, Bess Levin, Disney Sues Ron DeSantis for Being a Colossal Asshole.

Last week, DeSantis threatened to try to change state law in order to subject Disney’s theme park to new inspections. Then he suggested his hand-selected board would look into raising the company’s taxes and that the land next to Disney World might be turned into a rival park or perhaps a state prison.

I’m guessing those public statements will be part of Disney’s evidence. Note that DeSantis is currently on a “trade mission” to Japan, Israel, South Korea and the United Kingdom, wife and kids trailing along. The Miami Herald is questioning who is paying for this trip and why the itinerary isn’t more public.

Liz Granderson at the Los Angeles Times notes that DeSantis didn’t seem especially concerned about “the Gay” early in his administration.

In June 2019, DeSantis and his wife appeared at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to mark the anniversary of the deadly 2016 shooting rampage there. They were approached by a state representative who expressed disappointment that the DeSantises’ proclamation about “Pulse Remembrance Day” hadn’t specifically mentioned the queer or Hispanic communities. And you know what the governor did? He corrected the omission, later tweeting: “today Casey DeSantis and I joined the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities in Orlando to pay our respects as our state and nation mourn and honor the precious lives that were lost.”

In 2018, during a Republican primary forum as he sought the governorship, DeSantis was asked about transgender people and the restroom debate in many states, and he said: “Getting into the bathroom wars, I don’t think that’s a good use of our time.

All that changed, Granderson says, is that he got bit by the presidential ambition bug.

 In other news: Josh Marshall has a fascinating blog post about Jack Teixeira, the kid who leaked classified information on the web for kicks. The government has filed a motion to keep Teixeira locked up awaiting trial, which seems sensible to me. But this is news:

Teixeira’s record suggests he was carrying most of the red flags we’d expect for a future mass shooter. You can see the filing here.

As the government filing explains, Teixeira was suspended from high school in 2018 when a classmate “overheard him make remarks about weapons, including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school and racial threats.” Later that year he was denied a firearms identification card because of the local police department’s concerns about his threats and suspension at the high school.

In addition to a steady stream of comments about violence and murder, Teixeira also had some fantasy and/or plan to carry out some kind of mass shooting event with an “assassination van.” He sought advice about the best kind of rifle to use from the back of an SUV or what he termed “mobile gun trucks” and “[o]ff-road” and good assassination vehicles.” It was apparently with this kind of hardware in mind when he said that if he had his way he would “kill a [expletive] ton of people” in an effort at “culling the weak minded.”

Finally, he had hardware to back up these fantasies/plans. He had extensive arsenals at both his primary home and that of his father, what the government calls a “virtual arsenal of weapons, including bolt-action rifles, rifles, AR and AK-style style weapons and a bazooka.” At his main home these were contained in a gun locker next to his bed, in addition to stashes of ammunition, “tactical pouches on his dresser” and some kind of silencer type device. Other military style gear in his home he apparently tried to throw away shortly before his arrest.

And, of course, the next question is, how the bleep was this individual assigned to a job that gave him access to classified information? But do read the whole post. See also The Online Racists Stealing Military Secrets at Rolling Stone.

In more other news: My heart goes out to E. Jean Carroll for having to testify yesterday. Today she’s being cross examined by Trump’s attorneys. The attorney who seems to be doing most of the talking for Trump is Joe Tacopina, and from what I’ve seen of him on television that’s going to be a nightmare for Carroll. He’s all aggression and bluster.

And the news won’t stop: Kevin McCarthy’s horrible debt ceiling bill passed by just two votes yesterday, and I note that there were two House Democrats who didn’t vote (Peters, Calif.; Watson Coleman N.J.). I’m wondering what was so almighty important for them not to be in the House yesterday. But McCarthy’s bill won’t ever become law. What’s the next step for the Chaos Caucus? And will the Biden Administration pull some kind of technical maneuver to raise the debt ceiling without help from the House? 

Paul Krugman recently (no paywall):

One possibility is that faced with looming financial chaos, McCarthy will allow a floor vote on the debt ceiling, and that a few sane members of his party will cross the aisle and help Democrats raise the ceiling. As far as I can tell, that’s the Biden administration’s plan A.

What about plan B? There are several options. Moody’s Analytics seems to think that the Biden administration might simply ignore the debt limit, invoking the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that the validity of U.S. public debt “shall not be questioned.”

Another possibility is the famous platinum coin. U.S. law allows the federal government to issue commemorative platinum coins in any denomination it chooses; so it could in principle mint a coin notionally worth, say, $3 trillion, deposit it at the Federal Reserve and pay its bills by drawing down the account thereby created. (The Fed would offset any effect on the money supply by selling off some of its large portfolio of U.S. government bonds, so this would in effect simply be borrowing through the back door.)

Yet another possibility would be to issue “premium bonds.” These are bonds that offer an unusually large “coupon,” i.e., annual interest payment, relative to their principal, the amount they pay when they come due. The Treasury could auction off these bonds for substantially more than their face value, in effect borrowing without increasing the official size of the debt.

All of these plans have drawbacks, and considered in isolation they each sound a bit silly. But they should be graded on a curve — compared not with normal fiscal management, but with the catastrophic consequences if the U.S. government simply stops paying its bills.