Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Stupid Ron DeSantis is bad for business

Wally is a good friend.  He and Cedric have been friends for years.  The two of them, Betty and I did a joint-post last night:

I bring up Wally because he is from Florida and Ron DeSantis is an embarrassment for Wally and many others (see Wally's "MY STATE NEEDS TO REJECT OUR LOUSY GOVERNOR").  Daniel Kline (THE STREET) reports:

Walt Disney never wanted a war with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The right-wing political leader, however, went after the biggest single-site employer in his state after its former CEO Bob Chapek made a statement criticizing DeSantis' so-called "don't say gay" legislation.

Hundreds (321 in total) of other companies have signed a petition from the Human Rights Campaign that broadly condemns anti-LGBTQ legislation, but those companies did not specifically call out DeSantis. So, the governor  -- in a move that plays to his political base -- has made a bunch of petty moves against Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report.

DeSantis stripped Disney of its Reedy Creek special district. He painted that move as taking away special status from the company. The problem is that Florida has thousands of special districts including one for The Villages, a retirement village whose residents are overwhelmingly conservative voters, and the Daytona Speedway, home to the Daytona 500.

The governor isn't some sort of Robin Hood taking away Disney's tax breaks, he's a politician using a well-known company as a plot point in his campaign for president. That's not a part Disney seems willing to play.

Disney CEO Bob Iger made it very clear that his company had other options for its billions of dollars during his company's most recent earnings call. He didn't say anything implausible like that company would leave Florida (it can't and it won't). Instead, he made it very clear that Disney could continue to invest in Florida or it could use that money elsewhere.

Call it a threat, or label it Iger simply showing DeSantis that he wasn't the one with the leverage, but it was a strong statement that Disney followed up on by pulling a $1 billion headquarters project from Florida. The company also canceled moving thousands of workers -- highly-paid white-collar workers -- from California to Florida.

Ron DeSantis?  Vote for him if you want to destroy the economy.  Vote for him if you want to see a politician put you in debt over the lawsuits he's not going to pay for.  That's what he's done. All of his actions are resulting in lawsuits.  His drag ban has eateries suing him (suing the state of Florida), his  no Chinese can buy land in Florida has Florida being sued, his book banning has Florida being sued.

Ron DeSantis isn't just an idiot, he's bad for business -- actively bad for business.  

Conventional wisdom says you should never pick a fight you can't afford to lose — but looking at the ongoing feud between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the state looks like it's on shaky ground.

After more than a year of escalation, Disney's latest move was to scrap a $1 billion development in Florida. The corporate campus could have brought more than 2,000 jobs to the Sunshine State, but reports said Disney's current relationship with Florida was one of several reasons the project was abandoned.

The announcement renewed questions about DeSantis' decision to pick a fight with one of the state's largest employers — and who had the most to lose: Florida, the governor, or the company.

"I think DeSantis has more to lose, as this incident made apparent, depending on whether, as a fairly skilled politician, he can somehow put a good face on this," Richard Foglesong, a leading expert on Walt Disney World's history and politics, told Insider last week. Foglesong authored the 2003 book "Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando."

study by Oxford Economics said that Orlando tourism generated $75.2 billion for central Florida in 2018. While that includes other attractions, Disney dominates the area's tourism with four theme parks and two water parks.

The study also said Orlando tourism accounted for nearly half a million jobs, bringing in $5.8 billion in state and local tax revenue for public safety, infrastructure, schools, and more.

Disney said it employed 75,000 people in Florida — which made it the state's second-largest private employer behind the Publix grocery-store chain, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

And Disney Cruise Line ships leave from three ports in Florida.

Are you getting why C.I. has said Bob Iger's not losing this fight?

Are you also getting how stupid and uninformed Jonathan Turley is?  Jonathan gives DeSantis a tongue batch pretty much daily -- that was the point of our joint-post last night.  The noted transphobe fancies himself an expert of everything but he doesn't know Disney at all.  Or grasp how important Disney is to Florida's economy.  C.I.'s also noted that it's probably not a good idea to tick off the creative types in the entertainment industry.  In the early 80s, due to crime and the state's image due to media, they had a real drop in tourism.  Ticking off creative types could lead to that happening again.  C.I. noted you're one 'gritty' reboot of Miami Vice away from giving the state a black eye -- or turning Scarface into a TV series.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, May 23, 2023.  Joe Biden again claims Beau Biden died in Iraq, Marianne Williamson's campaign continues to self-implode, an American is convicted of torture (sadly, it's not Bully Boy Bush who got convicted), and much more.

US President Joe Biden has once again come under fire for claiming that his late son Beau "lost his life in Iraq" -- a statement that alludes to the president's long-held view that poisonous burn pits were to blame for the younger Biden's brain cancer death at the age of 46. After making similar remarks at least twice earlier in the year, the president made his most recent ones to US troops stationed in Japan during his visit to the nation.

Yes, we're back to that again.  

Joe Biden recently told Marines stationed in Japan that his son Beau died in the Iraq war—an incorrect statement that the president has puzzlingly made several times in the past. “My son was a major in the U.S. Army. We lost him in Iraq,” Biden told the troops in Iwakuni on Thursday, according to a video obtained by the New York Post. Despite his son actually dying of brain cancer at the Walter Reed military hospital in Maryland, Biden has made the same claim about Beau’s death at least twice before. Last October, Biden told an audience in Colorado that Beau “lost his life in Iraq.” Just weeks later, he said “I’m thinking about Iraq because that’s where my son died,” during a speech in Florida. In reality, Beau died in 2015 after battling stage four glioblastoma—a diagnosis that the president has previously attributed to the “burn pits” in Iraq, which the military used to destroy trash while Beau was deployed from 2008 to 2009.

THE DAILY MAIL points out, "His death may have been linked to burn pits he encountered while serving in Iraq, although Beau did not die while fighting in the Middle East."  But Gustaf Kilander (INDEPENDENT) goes full on enabler in "Critics say Biden is lying about how his son Beau died – they are ignoring the full story:"

Right-wing media outlets have attempted to use Mr Biden’s comments on Beau’s death as a sign that the 80-year-old Democrat has memory issues, ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
[. . .]

In 2016, then the vice president, Mr Biden said his son’s cancer could have been caused by the toxic burn pits he was exposed to during his service in the Middle East.

The New York Times reported that Mr Biden said he was “stunned” when he read a chapter concerning the death of his son in the book The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers by Joseph Hickman.

First off, it's not a sign of 'cognitive decline.'  Or, if it is, it was evident before he was elected.  I'm not in the mood to spoonfeed lousy reporters who can't do their job.  But Joe made those remarks on the campaign trail.  We called it out in real time.  And a sign of just how sorry Gustaf is, 

Second, Gustaf and other lazies, there's no reason in the world to refer to some stupid NEW YORK TIMES article.  THE TIMES has 'reporting issues' to put it kindly.  If you want to go to Joe discussing burnpits and Beau, you go to that.

Which is right here, 'journalists.'

Biden also said that reading “The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers,” a book on the topic by Joseph Hickman, which included a chapter on his son Beau, opened his eyes to the possibility of a link to his son’s cancer.

“There’s a whole chapter on my son Beau in there, and that stunned me. I didn’t know that,” Biden said. He added, the author “went back and looked at Beau’s tenure as a civilian with the U.S. attorney’s office [in Kosovo] and then his year in Iraq. And he was co-located in both times near these burn pits.”

Joe's been making these statements forever.  If you're now appalled by it, my big question would be: Where were you when it started?

Because we've called it out all along, long before he became president.

Beau did not die in Iraq.  He came back to the US and died six years later.  

People shouldn't try to justify it or enable him on this. He needs to be held accountable.  But, again, this didn't happen this year or last year or in 2021 for the first time.  It may be a sign of something, but it's not a new cognitive decline because, again, he was making the statements that Beau died in Iraq while on the campaign trail.

Since we're discussing presidential campaigns, let me note how I love the liars.  Oh those Marianne Williamson freaks.  They lie and then they lie again.  We told you, before POLITICO ever published the story about Marianne's 'interacting difficulties,' that she was a nightmare to work with and that this went back decades.  Then POLITICO does their story about how Marianne terrorized campaign staff during her failed 2020 run fo the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  And The Merry Mariannes rushed to tell you it was lies, all lies.  POLITICO did another report about how her current campaign is in shambles and The Merry Mariannes are back insisting it's a lie.

It's not a lie.

The departure came about when Marianne ranted and raved over how her polling was stagnant and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had passed her in the polling from the moment he announced his candidacy.  That was the fault, she insisted, of her campaign.

Because 'positive thinking' never allows Marianne to own up to her own failures.

As this very public battle took place -- with four other players present -- it was offered to Marianne that she was ignoring key issues and maybe addressing them would bring her more support.  She sneered at the issues (which including that she needed to call out the war on the LGBTQ+ community) and said she was a "big thinking" candidate and these little issues were "beneath" her.  

The campaign's not going off the rails, it is off the rails.

This may surprise but, despite her well known vanity,  Marianne remains incapable of self-examination.  Oh sure, she's always been her own favorite topic.  But she can't admit any wrong doing and her own 'introspection' plays out like gushing press releases.

She's killing her own campaign.  

More say they will be leaving soon.

The Merry Mariannes throw hissy fits online and have been doing that since day one.  Remember Krystal Ball screeching and screaming that everybody get on board with Marianne?

They're idiots.  Marianne is not happening and won't ever happen unless the candidate learns to listen.

It'll never happen because the professional 'speaker' doesn't believe listening is part of an exchange since she never got paid to listen.

The Merry Mariannes can lie and spin and even deceive themselves but, currently, the only one who appears to be a viable candidate to rival Joe is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In other news, WFMZ reports:

A Stroudsburg man has been convicted in federal court of torturing an Estonian citizen in 2015 in Iraq.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it was in connection with running an illegal weapons manufacturing plant in Kurdistan.

Ross Roggio, 54, was convicted of torturing an employee who raised concerns about what they were doing.

On the matter, the US Justice Dept issued the following:

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, May 22, 2023

Man Convicted of Torture and Exporting Weapons Parts and Related Services to Iraq

A federal jury convicted a Pennsylvania man on May 19 for numerous crimes, including the torture of an Estonian citizen in 2015 in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in connection with the operation of an illegal weapons manufacturing plant in Kurdistan.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Ross Roggio, 54, of Stroudsburg, arranged for Kurdish soldiers to abduct and detain the victim at a Kurdish military compound where Roggio suffocated the victim with a belt, threatened to cut off one of his fingers, and directed Kurdish soldiers to repeatedly beat, tase, choke, and otherwise physically and mentally abuse the victim over a 39-day period. The victim was employed at a weapons factory that Roggio was developing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq that was intended to manufacture M4 automatic rifles and Glock 9mm pistols.

In connection with the weapons factory project, which included Roggio providing training to foreign persons in the operation, assembly, and manufacturing of the M4 automatic rifle, Roggio also illegally exported firearm parts that were controlled for export by the Departments of State and Commerce.

“Roggio brutally tortured another human being to prevent interference with his illegal activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Thanks to the courage of the victim and other witnesses, the hard work of U.S. law enforcement, and the assistance of Estonian authorities, he will now be held accountable for his cruelty.”

“Today’s guilty verdict demonstrates that Roggio’s brutal acts of directing and participating in the torture of an employee over the course of 39 days by Kurdish soldiers could not avoid justice,” said U.S. Attorney Gerard M. Karam for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. “We thank all the prosecutors and law enforcement agents who worked tirelessly to address these acts that occurred in Iraq.”

“Today’s milestone conviction is the result of the extraordinary courage of the victim, who came forward after the defendant inflicted unspeakable pain on him for more than a month,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Torture is among the most heinous crimes the FBI investigates, and together with our partners at the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, we will relentlessly pursue justice.”

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is firmly dedicated to pursuing those who commit human rights violations, like Roggio, to ensure perpetrators face justice for their atrocities,” said Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tae D. Johnson of ICE. “Our investigators will continue to work tirelessly with government partners so these horrendous acts do not go without consequence.”

“The illegal export of firearms parts and tools from the United States often goes hand in hand with other criminal activities, such as the charge of torture on which the jury voted to convict the defendant,” said Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson of the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office. “I commend our law enforcement colleagues for their dedication to bringing justice in this case.”

Roggio was convicted of torture, conspiracy to commit torture, conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, exporting weapons parts and services to Iraq without the approval of the Department of State, exporting weapons tools to Iraq without the approval of the Department of Commerce, smuggling goods, wire fraud, and money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23 and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Roggio is the second defendant to be convicted of torture since the federal torture statute went into effect in 1994.

The FBI and HSI investigated the torture and were joined in investigating the export control violations related to the firearms manufacturing equipment by the Department of Commerce’s BIS Office of Export Enforcement.

Trial Attorney Patrick Jasperse of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd K. Hinkley for the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case. The Estonian Internal Security Service, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, and the Pennsylvania State Police also provided valuable assistance.

Members of the public who have information about human rights violators in the United States are urged to contact U.S. law enforcement through the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE, or complete the FBI online tip form or the ICE online tip form.

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