Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott called on Senate leaders Friday to provide more funding to help Florida rebuild after the devastating Hurricane Ian wiped out buildings, roads and power for millions of people.
Why It Matters: Several members of Congress from Florida previously voted against a short-term spending bill that includes aid for disaster relief.
What They Said: Rubio and Scott sent a joint letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee chairs that requested "much-needed assistance to Florida."
• “Hurricane Ian will be remembered and studied as one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States,” the Florida Senators wrote. “Communities across Florida have been completely destroyed, and lives have been forever changed."
• “A robust and timely federal response, including through supplemental programs and funding, will be required to ensure that sufficient resources are provided to rebuild critical infrastructure and public services capacity, and to assist our fellow Floridians in rebuilding their lives.”
• Rubio's office did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.
Yes, But: Florida lawmakers already opposed major disaster relief earlier this week.
Flashback: The Senate passed a stopgap bill Thursday to fund the government through December that included an $18.8 billion fund for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help states with natural disasters, CNBC reports.
• Scott voted against the bill, per the Senate roll call. Rubio was not present for the vote.
• The House voted in favor of the bill Friday. All 16 GOP members of Florida's Congressional team voted against it, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Scott's office pointed to a statement released Friday that said the continuing resolution (CR) in the bill "contains no funding for Florida’s response to Hurricane Ian."
• “Prior to Ian’s development, l made clear that I fully supported the proposed disaster funding for other states," Scott said in a statement.
• "This CR failed to fund the federal government until the new Congress begins in 2023, and that is why I could not support it.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz criticized Floridian lawmakers for not approving the measure.
• “The same week that Hurricane Ian brought so much chaos and destruction to Florida, not a single Florida Republican cared enough to vote in favor of hurricane relief for the people in their own state hit hardest by the storm," he said, per the Democrat.
• "That is a level of callous indifference and political opportunism that boggles the mind."
The Big Picture: Multiple Republicans in Congress previously opposed hurricane relief packages or supported proposals that aimed to reduce the amount of federal money given to major storm relief, according to the Daily Beast.
Go Deeper: Ian to weaken overnight, NHC says
Death and destructions are not the only things Hurricane Ian brought to Florida this week. Along with the storm surge and high winds which devastated the southwestern portion of the Sunshine State, Governor Ron DeSantis’ chickens have also come home to roost.
The man who first made his name in Congress by opposing hurricane relief is now begging the federal government to bail out his state. In doing so, he’s providing a timely reminder to the American people as to why Republicans — and DeSantis specifically — cannot be trusted to govern this great country.
First, let’s state what should go without saying: Floridians need and deserve our help. Following tornadoes in the western portion of Kentucky last year and flooding in the eastern part this year, I condemned liberals who suggested my home state “reaped what it sowed” by voting for the likes of Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. Florida is no exception. The people there, regardless of politics, are human beings and our fellow Americans. We have a moral and patriotic duty to come to their aid.
Yet, there was one thing those Twitter liberals got right: their criticism of McConnell and Paul. They too have opposed disaster relief for other (Democratic) areas. Indeed, Republicans seem to only care about Americans when they’re in red states. That’s despicable.
Florida’s answer to these heartless and calculating politicians is, of course, Ron DeSantis. We know just how cruel he can be – this is the man who ‘kidnapped’ refugees and flew them halfway across the country just this month. But DeSantis has always shown his true colors, going back to his earliest days as a Tea Party congressman.
In January 2013, the newly elected Congressman DeSantis opposed a $9.7 billion flood insurance aid package to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Though he expressed sympathy for the victims, he said that “allowing the program to increase its debt by another $9.7 billion with no plan to offset the spending with cuts elsewhere is not fiscally responsible.” In short, DeSantis was sorry for what happened, but not enough to help. His response was basically the equivalent of a shrug emoji.
Fast forward nine-and-a-half years. Now-Governor DeSantis wants the federal government to pick up 100% of the cost for debris removal and emergency protective measures for the 60 days following the hurricane. Yet when people bring up his hypocrisy, the Governor’s spokesman says that “we have no time for politics or pettiness.”
It isn’t politics or pettiness to point out a glaring double-standard, one that seems to prove Republicans are incapable of caring for anyone but themselves. Nor is it petty to point out that Florida — a state governed by Republicans since 1999 and in which Republicans control both houses of the legislature — is in the midst of an insurance crisis.
Since the beginning of 2020, ABC News reports, “at least a dozen insurance companies in the state have gone out of business, including six this year alone.” A further 30 are being watched by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation “because of financial instability.” Meanwhile, the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corporation — created as a last resort for desperate homeowners — has seen the number of policies it underwrites more than double since 2020.
The problems facing Florida’s homeowners are compounded by the shockingly low levels of flood insurance in a state barely above sea level. The New York Times reports that in the counties under an evacuation order for Hurricane Ian, only 18.5% of homes are covered through the National Flood Insurance Program. Of those, only 47.3% of homes inside government-designated floodplains have flood insurance, while outside of the area designated a floodplain by the NFIP — areas still very likely to have been damaged by the storm surge — only about 9.4% have flood insurance.
Ian, like Sandy in 2012, was more of a flood event than a wind event. As such, traditional homeowners’ and even hurricane insurance is unlikely to cover much of the damage. Those without flood insurance will be left to foot the bill to recover and rebuild, or to rely on the government for assistance.
In fairness, not all of this is DeSantis’ fault. He can’t control the fact that Florida is susceptible to hurricanes, nor can he control whether people have flood insurance or national insurers do business in the state. I’m also not inclined to blame him for the rampant litigation and insurance fraud in the state.
But it’s worth noting that insurance premiums more than doubled during DeSantis’ term. Former governor Charlie Crist, who is DeSantis’ Democratic opponent in his race for reelection, pointed out that “Floridians now pay the highest property insurance premiums in the country.”
Despite a new law allocating $2 billion to a reinsurance fund, which Bankrate says “can help home insurance companies share risk, which lessens the likelihood that any one company will become insolvent,” the damage from Hurricane Ian is likely to far exceed what that reinsurance fund can handle. It’s no surprise, then, that DeSantis is looking to Washington — and to President Biden, a man he routinely denigrates and insults — to bail his state out.
Washington and President Biden should and, I expect, will do just that — because unlike Ron DeSantis, Joe Biden is a decent man. He doesn’t play politics with people’s lives and homes the way DeSantis has done from quite literally the moment he first entered Congress. Biden will help Florida, not because it is politically beneficial to him, but because it is the right thing to do.
DeSantis will, no doubt, try to take credit for that. We should not let him. The man has shown us who he is time and again. The only reason he is advocating federal aid in this disaster is because it’s his own state, one which will suffer immense economic and humanitarian harm without it. Had this hurricane hit a blue state, though, DeSantis would probably be demanding we let our fellow citizens fend for themselves.
The Ten Pillars of Fascist Politics by Jason Stanley
Above is a July 6, 2021 twitter thread by Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley, PhD, which outlines the 10 pillars of fascist politics. It shows just how fascist most of the Republican Party has become under Trump’s leadership. The current MAGA GQP has incorporated each of the above 10 pillars into its talking points and philosophy.
This is why the GQP has been up in arms about Biden accurately calling their Trumpist political ideology “semi-fascism.”
Feel free to share this with your relatives and friends who want to defend the direction the GQP has been going in. [Just be prepared when they counterattack to explain why the Democratic Party is not “communist” or “socialist,” but a center left political party, with its most extreme members being social democrats (even Bernie Sanders and AOC aren’t really democratic socialists)].
Note: The visual formatting of how the original tweet in the thread appears, as well as the visual formatting of pillars number 2 - 9 were modified from their source; furthermore, the translation of “ARBEIT MACH FREI” AS “WORK MAKES ONE FREE” was added to pillar #10.
CBS News' John Dickerson asked New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has become the chronicler-in-chief of the Donald Trump era, "How long has Donald Trump been in your head, or you in his?"
"At least 11 years for this level of intensity," she replied.
"And what's it like to have Donald Trump in your head, or be a part of his thinking, for 11 years?"
"I had one of his old friends say to me, 'He doesn't wear well over time.' And I think that the collective we have experienced that at various points."
Haberman has been covering Trump since the late 1990s, as a metro reporter for the New York tabloids. In 2016 alone she had 599 bylines or co-bylines in The Times – more than one a day – and that pace has slowed only slightly in the years since.
Now, she's written a book about him: "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America" (published Tuesday by Penguin Press).
Dickerson asked, "I want to read from something you wrote: 'To fully reckon with Donald Trump, the presidency and his political future, people need to know where he comes from.' What do you mean, where he comes from?"
"New York in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, was a very, very unique setting," Haberman said, "because of this combination of dysfunctional and sometimes corrupt forces that touched on media, that touched on City Hall, that touched on the political party system in the various boroughs, that touched on how real estate projects got done, and which touched on racial tribalism, John, and that is a big piece of what he took from his life in New York."
The current incarnation of that racial tribalism shows up in some of Haberman's scoops about Trump's presidential years. Like other books of the Trump era, "Confidence Man" has gotten attention for new revelations: Trump considered firing his son-in-law, and engaged in casual transphobia. But Haberman's larger goal is to put the scoops in the book, and her Times coverage, in an archeological framework, to chart a 50-year, steady, unchangeable DNA.
She said, "Donald Trump is generally the same, depending on the context. And he tended to treat the White House as if he was still in a real estate office dealing with local county leaders, as if it was still 1980."
"What are the elements in the Donald Trump playbook that he's had his whole life?" asked Dickerson.
"He has a handful of moves that he has used forever. And people tend to impute a ton of strategy to what he's doing. But really, there are these moves. And it's the quick lie, it's the backbiting with one aide versus another, it is the assigning blame to someone else. All of this, again, is about creating a sense of drama, a sense of chaos, and often, John, about keeping the responsibility off him."
Haberman's reporting has irritated and embarrassed Trump. Yet, he agreed to sit down with her three times this past summer.
Dickerson asked, "Were you surprised he talked to you for your book?"
"No; he talked to everybody for their books," she replied. "It's an almost reflexive need to sell himself."
"He said at one point to somebody else, but with you in his presence, [that] you were like his psychiatrist?"
"He treats everyone like they're his psychiatrist. This is not a specific-to-me thing. This is what he does. He works everything out in real time with everyone."
Haberman offers new detail about Trump's refusal to accept defeat in 2020, quoting sources who heard Trump say, "We're never leaving."
Dickerson asked, "Donald Trump's reluctance to leave office, was that part of that playbook that developed so many years ago, or is that something new?"
"It was both," she said. "It was part of the theme of him believing that everything was always going to work out with him, because it always had. Whether it was his father helping navigate systems for him or helping him financially, or elected officials lining up for him, he always believed things would work out. And after November 3, 2020, it became clearer with each passing day that that was not going to happen, and he did not know how to handle it."
When he did leave the White House, he wasn't empty-handed, as FBI agents found in that search of his Florida home.
"When Donald Trump referred to things in the White House as his possessions, there was a long history of him doing that," Dickerson said. "Do you then think that that's why he took those classified documents?"
"I do, actually. I think it's also possible he took them for another reason, and we don't know what that is. He sees everything in terms of leverage, whether he can have an edge over someone else. He definitely likes trophies."
Trump is facing legal peril in multiple jurisdictions: A fraud suit in New York; election interference charges in Georgia; the January 6th riot investigation; and then those documents from Mar-a-Lago, where he's mostly holed up these days.
Dickerson asked, "You write that when you saw him after he left the White House, that he seemed shrunken?"
"In one of the interviews, he had very visibly lost weight, and so that was certainly physically shrunken, but he just seemed diminished," said Haberman. "And one of the things that I discovered as I was talking to people through the course of the last year is that he became this almost Charles Foster Kane-like figure who was sort of roaming around his club and existing in his own world and having to be reminded of when holidays were, someone totally out of the rhythms of normal daily life."
"What's your view of whether he'll run again?"
"With the caveat that I don't know and that I could be proven wrong, I think he's backed himself into a corner where he has to run," said Haberman. "I think that he needs the protections that running for President (he thinks) would afford him in combating investigations that he calls a 'witch hunt.' And it is the way that he fundraises and makes money. So much of his identity now is about being a politician. So, I expect that he will run. That doesn't mean that even if he declares a candidacy, that he will stay in the whole time."
Whether he runs or not, Trump has left his mark on the GOP, whose national party labeled the January 6th riots "legitimate discourse," and where a third of the Republican candidates running for election in 2022 have adopted his lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
"Has he essentially transferred the skills of the New York real estate world, as strange as that is, into a political party?" asked Dickerson.
"He has transferred how he views the New York real estate industry into the Republican Party," Haberman replied, "and not just the New York real estate industry, but the New York political system. We've seen it in ways that are overt with the Republican Party in terms of comments that get made at rallies, and we have seen it in subtler ways in terms of how candidates deal with journalists or how they engage with basic facts sets."
"Not everyone has reacted in some form of emulation to Donald Trump, but most of them have."
Haberman writes that Trump told her how much easier his life would have been if he'd never run for President. And he looked back not on what he'd accomplished, but on what the presidency had meant for Donald Trump.
Dickerson said, "When Donald Trump asked himself in your presence 'If I had to do it all over again,' what did he say?"
"What he said was the answer is yes," Haberman replied, "because the way he looks at it is, he has so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are. And it was very evident that he saw the presidency as the ultimate vehicle to fame."
By sending immigrant refugees to northern states on false claims of work and housing, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott are mirroring the 1962 playbook of the southern White Citizens’ Council who conducted “Reverse Freedom Rides” protesting desegregation by sending Black citizens to northern cities, with false claims of work and housing.
This is why the GQP is so determined to forbid schools from teaching anything more than a whitewashed American history.
If one does not know the repeating patterns of history, it is hard to know how to combat what is happening in the present--or how present day actions might be a part of a larger, more threatening movement.
In case you missed it, and you’re forgiven if you did, former President Donald Trump isn’t happy with the special master he fought so hard for. “Special master” is a fabulous duet of words that should be reserved exclusively for samurai training, BDSM orgies and chess rankings. Alas, “special master” in today’s context gets lumped in with terms such as “Senate parliamentarian” and “Hatch Act” that I have been reluctantly forced to acquaint myself with over the past six years, all because Trump is an asshole who turned America into the No. 1 asshole country in the universe.
And so we come to said special master, Judge Raymond (British accent) Dearie, whose appointment has not stopped the Department of Justice from poring over some of the most sensitive documents they seized earlier this fall from Mar-a-Lago: documents that Trump definitely accidentally absconded from the White House with after his term as President came to an end.
Dearie has not been kind to Trump’s lawyers and even tried to force Trump to appear in court under oath. These plans were scuttled by a federal judge Thursday, but the special master’s moves are just one of many signs that the walls are closing in around our beloved Don-Don. The Department of Justice is still actively engaged in a criminal investigation of Trump. One of Trump’s most vocal defenders in the past is currently arguing that the former President’s attempts to ward off the probe may in fact be aiding it. I love it, unironically, when Trump hires people who he assumes will protect him and then they’re like, “Actually, fuck this guy.” And there are so many people like this out there! Fantastic.
Meanwhile, the House Jan. 6 Committee is still in the process of conducting hearings on Trump’s role in the failed insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol, hearings that have already resulted in onetime Trump ally Cassidy Hutchinson testifying that Trump actively ordered security not to prevent armed rioters from reaching the Capitol. Meanwhile meanwhile, New York’s attorney general just filed a massive civil suit against Trump and his awful family for committing flagrant acts of real estate fraud. Meanwhile meanwhile meanwhile, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is also jumping onto the hogpile, convening a grand jury that may be looking to charge Trump, or at least associates like Rudy Giuliani, with gross election malfeasance in 2020. Any one of these investigations could result in Trump being supremely fucked, but I’d like to use this space now to demand that the “could” part of this no longer apply.
It is time, both procedurally and metaphorically, to fuck Donald Trump. After all, if the guy who defended Trump against presumed white knight Robert Mueller thinks that Trump is in a highly fuckable position, let’s go ahead and take advantage of that.
It’s well past time, really. If you disdain Trump as much as I do, you’ve been on a six-year-long catharsis hunt in which every victory — even the 2020 election! — has felt hollow. I thought Trump was finished when he fired James Comey. I thought he was finished when Mueller was drafted to investigate him. I thought he was finished when he got COVID-19. You get the idea. It’s been an agonizing stretch in which all of us have had to live through Donald Trump being president, Donald Trump violently refusing to stop being president and then Donald Trump threatening to become president again. All Americans deserve a break from his bullshit. We voted Joe Biden into office for this very reason.
And yet, here Trump remains. Still here. Still not officially fucked. For six years, I’ve been waiting for a cavalry that always arrives unarmed. I’ve been counting on Democrats to put Trump’s head on the chopping block when that party’s leaders all share a bizarre reticence to prosecute him because they believe that indicting Trump is an indictment of the American Idyll or something. It’s possible that Trumpism is a fad and will die out on its own. Perhaps as soon as November, when a red wave that the dreaded polls supposedly once foretold fails to materialize. But given the damage that Trump and his cohorts have wrought, it feels wrong, IS wrong, to hope nature takes its course with this movement. I’ve done the hope thing. I did it in 2008. It only got me here, so you’ll excuse me if hope and I aren’t on the best of terms right now.
What I require, and what is there for the taking at last, is action. All of this due diligence has to be for something, and not just for due diligence’s sake. If Democrats want me to have faith in their precious institutions, then what I need is for those institutions to do what the label on the “Institutions” box promises and indict this man. I’m as sick as you are of the “Today would be a good day to charge Donald Trump with high treason” brand tweets that have polluted the internet since his inauguration, but the receipts are flooding in and the excuses have all sunk to the bottom of the sea in a beautiful, idiot boat. Truly, today WOULD be a good day for the hammer to drop. Don’t wait until after the election, when Republicans will have fucked with an election that they have already pledged to fuck with. Don’t gimme some bullshit about how there’ll be another civil war if we dare to prosecute Trump because I already watched the insurrectionists try to start that war and fail miserably. Most of those people thought they were going to a furry convention or something. And don’t put on your law degree and tell me about dangerous precedents and how fluid the definition of “crimedoing” is. I’ve been watching this shitshow for six years now. I know what I’m looking at. I’m looking at robbery, treason, fraud and awful nutrition habits. Everyone knows what went down, what is going down and what Republicans WANT to go down. And I think I’ve had enough of the down parts. Joe Biden may be an underwhelming replacement, but even he had the stones earlier this month to call all this out for what it is:
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
That’s accurate as it comes to rhetoric, but it also serves as an implied order … to the DOJ, to the state of New York, to Willis and to Congress: It’s time. Let’s get on with it.
Once we recognize that libertarianism is essentially neo-feudalism, and that it is now the dominant conservative philosophy of the Republican Party, it’s not hard to understand Republican priorities.
The basic idea of neo-feudalism, at least as I discuss it here, is that power is properly derived from wealth and the willingness to seize it, and not from votes. Power is held by employers and investors, who use it to build loyalty among the less fortunate, by means of patronage or bullying, without being hindered by popular elected officials.
While this aligns somewhat with fascism, neo-feudalism has different reasons for many of the same priorities. Yet it’s still a a weaponization of the state’s power for the use of wealthy individuals, the church, and corporations—specifically away from traditionally marginalized or non-wealthy groups. (I’d call it more of a “semi-fascism,” although perhaps it’s just another example of how fascism localizes itself wherever it rises.) Shrinking the size and power of democratic government is therefore essential to this philosophy, because it moves power away from the majority and their votes, and toward individual wealth and existing power.
Those with the most capital tend to have a small check on their activities in a democracy already, because they aren’t elected officials and their power can’t be voted away. They also have a built-in barrier to being elected, despite their ability to spend more on their races, because in a democracy the policies they promote will be unpopular with most citizens.
So instead, they build fear and distrust of any government by and for the people by targeting marginal groups, and then point to the weakened and/or untrusted state to create a power vacuum that they themselves can fill. Trump himself is a good example of how this works in action, and the continuing election of extremely wealthy fraudsters like Rick Scott show just how popular this anti-democratic movement has become.
Here are some the tools being used:
Citizens United & unlimited campaign contributions to PACs, including from foreign sources, to ensure higher influence of wealth in votes
Deliberate shift away from democracy and voting by limiting who can vote
Push for any assistance to be church- or corporate-based, creating reliance on generosity of individuals and not society as a safety net for poor
Intense opposition to any government assistance, as it lessens employer dominance; this includes govt-funded healthcare, unemployment assistance, social security, etc.
Pumping money into military budgets at expense of everything else, for this system will require massive enforcement AND because a weak government makes foreign takeover a real concern
Privatize everything, even the military, to link corporate control to all of society’s functions - and enables massive profit-taking for the well-connected (look at the immense fortunes built by decades of ineffective “training” in Afghanistan)
With this “neo-feudalist” lens, it becomes fairly straightforward to predict where the GOP will land on any given issue. Despite their lack of a policy platform, we don’t actually need to read it. After all, it would only expose their most unpopular beliefs, and we can ascertain those simply by looking at what keeps power in the hands of the powerful.
From their opposition to social security, to universal healthcare (harder to exploit people when they aren’t desperate), to FEMA (can’t funnel money through their own organizations that way), to women’s rights, to contraception (same issue on exploitation), to military privatization, to private prisons, to taxes (especially to taxes), it’s all predictable if you see what shifts power to the already-powerful.
It’s what conservatism has always done. It’s simply more brazenly authoritarian now, because it’s fighting back against real power from an engaged and evolving nation.