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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
December 19, 2023

Man accused of leaving dog in garbage bag in Family Dollar dumpster

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A man was arrested after he allegedly placed a dog in a garbage bag in a dumpster at a Family Dollar in Lehigh Acres, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Employees at the store found a bag in the dumpster on Thursday and noticed it was moving, deputies said. The employees opened the bag to find a 16-year-old Shih Tzu dog with a rope around its neck.

The employees rushed the dog, Xyla, to an animal hospital.

Anthony Bellman was allegedly seen on surveillance video removing the trash bag from his trunk and putting it in the dumpster, according to deputies. ............(more)


December 19, 2023

Florida was supposed to be the future of the GOP -- now the state party is in shambles

Florida was supposed to be the future of the GOP — now the state party is in shambles
Gov. Ron DeSantis grasps desperately for attention, as the state party chair is pushed out after a rape allegation

Senior Writer

(Salon) It may seem hard to believe right now, but this time last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the rest of Florida's Republican Party were being heralded as the post-Donald Trump future for the GOP. Republicans had underperformed in the 2022 midterms in most parts of the country — except in Florida. DeSantis won re-election that November by a whopping 20 points, which was especially impressive considering his 2018 margin of victory was less than half a percentage point. Desperate for some sign that there was hope for their party after Trump, Republican elites decided DeSantis had discovered a magic formula with his aggressive culture war politics that involved book-banning, dropping the word "woke" every few seconds, and waging war on Disney.


On Sunday, the Florida GOP did everything in their power to push their party chair, Christian Ziegler, out the door. Ziegler has been under investigation for rape, after a woman who alleges she had previously had a three-way sexual encounter with Ziegler and his wife contacted the police. Ziegler has refused to resign, even though there is apparently video showing him having sex with the accuser. So the party reduced his salary to $1 and stripped him of legislative power.


This draconian war on reading was central to the argument that the Florida GOP would lead the national party into its post-Trump era. Instead, the 2023 election demonstrated that book banning backfired politically, causing a surge of angry pro-education parents to turn out and elect Democrats to run school boards. Other post-election anaylses show that "don't say gay" laws and attacks on trans kids are also political losers. The Zieglers and their "brilliant" strategy turned out to be an egg.


Ultimately, that may be why the Florida strategy isn't the godsend Republican elites wanted it to be. The DeSantis/Moms for Liberty methods both managed to be so fascist they scared normal people, but fell short of what the MAGA base longs for. They angered regular people by banning books for minors, but by leaving the books legal for everyone else, they frustrated the larger ambitions of the Christian right. They banned acknowledgment of LGBTQ identities in school, but have done little to turn back the clock to the time when it was simply illegal to be gay at all. The Florida GOP promise was a path to authoritarianism that would somehow not offend the majority of non-authoritarian Americans. But it was an empty promise, and the party's current shambles shows it. ..............(more)


December 18, 2023

Right-wing tantrum over Jill Biden Christmas video accidentally reveals how much MAGA hates America

Right-wing tantrum over Jill Biden Christmas video accidentally reveals how much MAGA hates America
When the "war on woke" is over, the only entertainment left for Trump cultists will be Dear Leader's speeches

Senior Writer

(Salon) Last week, First Lady Jill Biden, rejecting her predecessor's loathing of Christmas cheer, posted a sweet and silly video of the Dorrance Dance company performing a tap dance to a jazz reimagining of "Dance of the Floreadores" from "The Nutcracker Suite."

To normal people, the video was a bit of old-fashioned Christmas cheer in the great American tradition of musical extravaganzas like those of Busby Berkeley. To MAGA-Americans, however, it was a moral and aesthetic outrage that was going straight into their file labeled "Why Now Is The Time For American Fascism." Tellingly, despite the flood of angry comments, Republicans struggled to articulate exactly what they found so offensive. Vague terms like "weird," "grotesque and abhorrent," and "classless" accompanied odd accusations that the performance reminded them of "The Hunger Games." Chaya Raichik of Libs of TikTok whined that it "should’ve come with a sensitivity label." To her million-plus Twitter followers, right-wing influencer Brigitte Gabriel groused, "Children should not be watching this smut!"


Well, MAGA has their reasons to beat around the bush, but that shouldn't stop the rest of us. Anyone with working knowledge of right-wing trigger points knows what fueled the outrage, and it's not just a general right-wing aversion to fun. It's plain bigotry. The first smiling face we see in the video is a Black woman. Throughout the video, many of the dancers read as people of color and queer people. Plus, the music is jazz, not classical. We are apparently at that point in fascist development where they reject syncopated rhythms as decadent and emasculating.


Biden's haters dug up a statement of anti-racism from the troupe's leader, Michelle Dorrance, and held it out as some kind of gotcha. But they gotcha'd themselves, by dragging that subtext right into the daylight. Racism and homophobia are obviously what's fueling this tantrum. Getting outraged over an anti-racist statement is an unwitting admission of what they can't say out loud. (Well, most, anyway. There were a few MAGA types who flatly stated their objection: "This is gay as hell." ) All the coded language about "weird" and "classless" and "smut" was just a thin veil over the real grievance: The people MAGA hates were up in the White House having a good time. .................(more)


December 17, 2023

Let's stop funding George Santos' theatrical dishonesty - he's not even a good liar

Let's stop funding George Santos' theatrical dishonesty – he's not even a good liar
On Cameo and podcasts, Santos proves that the road to obscurity cuts through the alley of temporary notoriety

Senior Critic

(Salon) America loves scammers, glamour and shamelessness. America also has a spot softer than a newborn’s fontanelle for shallow nonsense. So when we say we get the impulse to fork hundreds of dollars over to former New York Congressman George Santos so he’ll call your best friend a filthy hooker, we’re not endorsing that choice. It simply indicates we know what kind of market is out there.

So does Santos, a con artist extraordinaire facing a 23-count federal indictment for wire fraud, identity theft and other crimes, which each count linked to some crazy story. He isn’t above ripping off a disabled U.S. Navy veteran or writing bad checks to an Amish man, both over transactions related to dogs.


Observing Santos’ flaming burn through his 15 minutes made me revisit philosopher Harry Frankfurt's 1986 essay “On Bulls**t.” He expanded into a book nearly two decades hence, but the original take does a fine job of breaking down what Santos is and why he’s ultimately doomed to disappear. In short, he’s not a skilled liar, made obvious by those charges piled on him. If he were, we’d be more concerned about Santos building a semi-respectable post-government career after this burst of notoriety passes.


Santos’ rise to power is a symptom of that cancer, i.e. the vomit and diarrhea caused by the illness. The good news is that means he's flushable. ..............(snip)


December 16, 2023

"Egregious": Oklahoma Republican governor's ban on diversity programs "raises significant concerns"

(Salon) Oklahoma this week joined Florida and Texas in blocking diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities and state agencies.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order Wednesday mandating comprehensive reviews and significant cuts to DEI offices and programs at public colleges. The order prohibits universities from using state dollars, property or resources to fund DEI offices and programs and also orders them to “eliminate and dismiss all non-critical personnel.”


But targeting DEI programs and initiatives isn’t new for GOP-led states. In May, Florida became the first state to ban funding for DEI initiatives, raising concerns among university staff in Florida who expressed worries about the ambiguous nature of the ban and potential job losses.


“For many of us, this news evokes deep concern and uncertainty about the future, and in many ways feels like a step backward,” (Univ. of Oklahoma President) Joseph Harrosz Jr said in the letter. “Please be assured that key to our ongoing successes as the state’s flagship university – now and forever – are the foundational values that have served as our constant north star: access and opportunity for all of those with the talent and tenacity to succeed; being a place of belonging for all who attend; dedication to free speech and inquiry; and civility in our treatment of each other.” .................(more)


December 15, 2023

DC: Metro GM says 10 stations and 67 bus lines may be cut, 2,000 layoffs possible if budget gap isn't filled

Metro General Manager Randy Clarke warned of dramatic service and job cuts if the transit agency doesn’t close a $750 million budget gap in the first half of 2024.

Metro has sounded the alarm for months, saying that if a solution isn’t found, it could change the transit system as we know it, with stations potentially closing early and heavy cuts to how many trains run.

We’ve known about some of the potential implications for months, but Clarke gave more specifics in this week’s media briefing on his proposed "balanced but significantly reduced" budget for next year. It lays out a sort of doomsday scenario, showing what would change if the operating budget isn't increased.

Clarke said service cuts are a last resort and a decision he hopes he doesn’t have to make. ..............(more)


December 15, 2023

Los Angeles: Metrolink to pause service systemwide Dec. 26-29

Metrolink will pause service systemwide from Dec. 26 to Dec. 29 to complete infrastructure upgrades, maintenance and repairs. Trains will not run on any of Metrolink’s seven lines and Arrow service will also be suspended. Planned work will help Metrolink provide safer, more efficient service as the Los Angeles mega-region prepares to host high-profile international events, including the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in the coming decade.

“Placing our system temporarily out of service was necessary to complete the final phase of a three-year modernization project at LA Union Station, which connects six of our seven lines and serves as the agency’s central hub,” said Metrolink Chief of Program Delivery Justin Fornelli. “We’ll be upgrading the signal system where trains enter and exit the station but we’re not stopping there. This unique break in service will allow us to tackle state-of-good-repair projects across multiple lines, as we work to deliver the safest, most reliable passenger rail experience possible.”

Modernization work at Union Station will replace 1930s-era signal relay technology with a state-of-the-art, microprocessor-driven signal system, allowing Metrolink to simultaneously run multiple trains on multiple tracks as they enter and depart the facility. The increased capacity will decrease delays while the updated technology will improve safety through this heavily trafficked corridor.

Metrolink will perform additional maintenance at Union Station to create a better customer experience. Planned projects include repairing concrete on platforms, freshening paint, cleaning canopies and gutters, adding more lighting tied to emergency power in the tunnel and servicing high-voltage components to reduce the likelihood of power outages. ........................(more)


December 15, 2023

Republican voters know Trump isn't joking with his "dictator" remarks -- it's why they love him

Republican voters know Trump isn't joking with his "dictator" remarks — it's why they love him
MAGA folks are gaslighting reporters when they say Trump is kidding

Senior Writer

(Salon) Stupid or evil?

It's the perennial question that haunts those of us who support democracy when gazing upon the red-hatted minions of Donald Trump, who are working to destroy it. The everyday Republican voters who issue ungrammatical and fact-averse defenses of their beloved orange demagogue are a forever mystery. Are they really just too stupid to know that backing Trump means ending democracy? Or are they fascists who long for an American Reich, where all the people who made them feel bad for being racist will be made to suffer? On one hand, Trump supporters do sound like a bunch of morons, leading credence to the "stupid" theory. On the other hand, it's impossible to believe anyone could think a guy who attempted a coup is safe for democracy. Most Republicans hold down jobs and manage to dress and feed themselves, suggesting they aren't so braindead as to miss that Trump cannot wait to be a fascist dictator.


To be certain, many a Trump supporter claims to believe that he's merely "joking" when he says he wants to be a "dictator." Some may even keep a relatively straight face as they tell reporters, as one Republican, Clyde Carson, did, that Trump "was trying to fool with the media" and "he just done that because he knew the news would go crazy with it."

But it's worth unpacking this comment for a moment. The 53-year-old Carson admitted that he thinks it's good to lie to the media, who he has no doubt been trained to loathe after absorbing decades of right wing propaganda. As he notes, his hero, Trump, lies to the media. Which is not to single Carson out. The issue with believing anything Trump voters say to reporters is this: They hate reporters. They believe lying for the MAGA cause is righteous. Indeed, nothing is seen in MAGA-land as a better time than trolling reporters with lies and bullshit. And so their claims to believe Trump is "joking" must not be taken at face value. ...............(more)


December 15, 2023

George Santos has now taken to selling gossip on X for $7

(Salon) After garnering attention on Cameo, the personalized video service on which he claims to be making over $80,000 a day, George Santos has branched off into a new money-making venture, offering up gossip on Congress, the media and celebrities via a subscription sold on X (formerly Twitter) for $7 a month.

In a clip posted to the platform on Wednesday, Santos breaks down what the subscription offers, issuing a warning along with it.

“You're going to go nuts with what's coming your way," the ousted Congressman says, seated in what appears to be his home office. "Hey Congresspeople! Beware! Hell hath no fury like a . . . scorned," he adds, making a cutesy little face where one guesses an expletive would have otherwise been verbalized. ...............(more)


December 15, 2023

A Running List of Politicians Talking About Making Divorce Harder

(Mother Jones) In 1969, then California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law into existence, allowing couples to legally separate without having to prove wrongdoing by one party. It soon rippled out throughout the country. The change had immense benefits for women; it bolstered economic independence and provided a safer route for domestic violence survivors. States that allowed one partner to solely push for divorce saw about a 20 percent decline in female suicide, per a 2003 working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

This blip in Reagan’s legacy stands in stark contrast to his resounding rhetoric around family values. (Reagan, according to his son, would later call backing no-fault divorce his “greatest regret” in life.”) In the 1970s, the right took a cultural turn—emphasizing domestic strength through “the family.” It was a politics that smeared efforts by women, queer communities, and other groups to obtain equal rights and representation as decadent degradation of the status quo. Abortion and gay marriage were among the myriad of issues the right fretted meant the death of the nuclear family and, in turn, the strength of America. While these fights didn’t disappear, they ebbed throughout the beginning of the 21st century. Yet, recently, as we’ve seen with increased attacks on reproductive justice and LGBTQ health and safety, conservatives are legislating and discussing them with renewed fervor.

As part of this push, Republican politicians across the country have been revitalizing the desire to roll back no-fault divorce—couching it in faith, and patriotism. This fight spans from provocateur–podcasters like Steven Crowder to the official GOP platforms in both Texas and Nebraska. Some politicians are all in—ready to scapegoat no-fault divorce for the ails of our society—while others are beginning to flirt with the idea. ...............(more)


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