DeSantis’ Mickey Mouse Move

Florida’s Governor DeSantis says he is punishing the Disney corporation for speaking out against the his “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, a bill aimed at preventing  kindergarteners to 3rd graders from being taught anything relating to LGBTQ. 

Of course everyone knows these kids aren’t old enough to give a DeSantis about LGBTQ.  So, what’s the real reason for taking away Disney’s authority over its park? And what’s the real reason for making sure no-one says “Gay” in kindergarten to 3rd grade classrooms?

To gin up Trumpers!  

In running against Trump in 2024, he needs to win over Trumpers. The way to do that is to out-Trump Trump. And the way to out-Trump Trump is to scare Trumper parents into thinking their kids are in danger of becoming… LBGTQ! And the way to do that is by telling them LGBTQ is a teachable event, not a hormonal one.  After all, there’s nothing about it in the Bible, right? 

So, scaring parents is good. But out-Trumping Trump by smacking Disney upside the head is even better. DeSantis’ thumping one of the biggest media corporations in the country is bound to scare other media corporations into political compliance, something Trump was never able to do. Yeah DeSantis!

Well…maybe not.

Maybe DeSantis is also ginning up moderates of both parties who see his “Don’t Say Gay” bill as the political stunt it is. 

And maybe, when Orange and Osceola citizens have to shoulder Disney’s billion dollar bond debt, not to mention every day municipal costs (fire, water, sewer, police, etc…) – up to $2200 per household -they’ll get ginned up too – against DeSantis.

On the other hand, that can’t happen until 2023, well after DeSantis wins the  2022 election for Governor of Florida. By which time he will be well on his way to a White House bid.


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The line between humor and pain.

The source of most humor is pain. Someone trips over a banana peel, flips head over teakettle, and we crack up. Why? Because he had no idea it was coming. We laugh at someone else’s pain, even if it’s just embarrassment.

You know what was funny about Chris Rock’s joke about Will Smith’s wife, actress Jada Koren Pinkett Smith, being bald?  Not much, really. (Next time, don’t forget the banana peel Chris.)

What was funny is what happened immediately afterward: Will Smith marched onstage and slapped Chris Rock, spiking his career… Will Smith’s, not Chris Rock’s. Chris’ career is soaring, now.  Will Smith just lost a bunch of contracts, which is funny – in an ironic way of course.

See that’s the basis of humor – someone gets hurt, screwed, or upended totally unexpectedly.  

Guys, particularly, like physical humor. That’s why the Three Stooges get laughs today, almost 100 years after they first made audiences laugh. 

My first grade teacher always said, “Use your words, Henry” And I did. But I got a lot more laughs when I tripped over my untied shoe lace or caught a baseball with my face than when I screwed up a math problem.

Women usually get laughs with their words.  They are more sophisticated I guess (I’m a guy, so Mars and Venus).

Humor isn’t always funny.  Like when I flunked Statistics 101. There was nothing funny about having to repeat the dullest course in all of schooldom… schooldumb.

Humor has also traditionally been a way to of trying to deal with very unfunny stuff. 

When I was still in my formative years, a TV comedy named “Hogan’s Heroes” made fun of a German WWII prisoner of war camp or “stalag”. Its first season was 20 years after the end of WWII, enough time, I guess, to erase the horror of real Nazi stalags. Actor John Banner became arguably the most famous character in the cast with just one line, “I know nu-uh-thing!!!” Although the show was a hit, some of the WWII vets I knew had a hard time with it.

“Mash”, a war comedy about the Korean War was launched 20 years after that war. But because its audience was still experiencing the Viet Nam War, its humor often recognized the stupidity, futility, and immorality of war instead of erasing it.

I wonder if 20 years is Hollywood’s magic number for dealing with the horrors of war. I kind of doubt it’s the magic number for many others.

I think it will take a lot longer than 20 years to erase the horrors of the war Russia is raging on Ukraine. Like many of my generation, the images from Ukraine feel like color renderings of photographs from WWI and WWII. 

The places, the faces: identical. Putin, Hitler: identical. The US then and now: we can only hope.

Which brings me back to the Will Smith-Chris Rock fluff-up. Chris Rock’s joke was funny to him because he thought Jada Koren Pinkett Smith had shaved her head to look cool. It wasn’t to Will Smith who knew the real reason: a skin disease. 

But you know what’s really funny about the whole thing? The media spent nearly as much time on that story as the Ukraine story. Ok… not funny…at least for 20 years or so.

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“I Need Ammunition, Not A Ride.”

There’s something very different about the Russia-Ukraine war. In other wars started by Russia, most other countries condemned Putin, or just sighed in resignation went on with their lives.

“If we remain silent today, we will be gone tomorrow.”

87 nations didn’t rise up against Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad when all those Syrians got killed. 87 nations didn’t shame China for it’s attempt at genocide of Uighurs.

Light will shine over darkness.”

This time the US, Europe and others erupted in outrage, decrying Putin’s bullying and sending C-17’s filled with billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.  

Makes you wonder: what makes Ukraine so special?

The story has taken over the media. Every day we read heart rending stories of refugees – women and children, mostly – leaving Ukraine. Everyday we read inspiring stories of others who stayed to fight the Russians. Everyday we read about people from other countries crossing into Ukraine to join the fight.

“It’s a victory when the weapons fall silent and people speak up.”

It’s been deja vu after deja vu of WWII: mothers and babies with blood on their faces, buildings with only one wall standing, black smoke fires where hospitals used to be. 

“We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war…You will not have a quiet place on this earth, except for a grave.”

Putin couldn’t win with quick, surgical strikes, so he reverted to the time-honored Russian tactic of total destruction, decimating everything, from buildings to morale.

“We have tasted freedom and we will not give it up.”

But we’ve seen these scenes before, plenty of them, from WWII, Korea, Syria, Iraq, China, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Crimea…

… Everywhere but LA…Oops! Then Chris Rock insulted Will Smith’s wife and got smacked for it by Will. 

So much for peace and love at the Oscars. 

Which probably ticked off Senators Graham, Hawley, and Cruz who would have liked to physically smack Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson, but chickened out and used their words instead. 

Sorry, too much TV.

So what’s different about this war?

“When you attack us you will see our faces. Not our backs but our faces.”

Is it the fact that the scenes are so reminiscent of the Nazi’s attacks on Poland, France? Is it the fact that Ukrainians are white and blond and straight out of Central Casting? Is it the fact that Ukraine is so close to Europe?  

The answer is yes…and no.

Yes, the WWII images still echo in our memories. Yes, Ukrainians are from Central Casting. Yes, if Russia can do this to Ukraine, Europe should worry.

But no, those scenes aren’t why 87 countries are uniting against Russia. They’re uniting against Russia because of rare, inspired and inspiring, leadership. 

“Nobody is going to break us; we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is that leader. He is the Hollywood hero that has been missing for so long. He is Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Jack Kennedy.

His off-the-cuff comments are better than the best lines of John Wayne, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig or any other Hollywood hero. He’s real, a throwback to when national leaders led with their character. He connects with Ukrainians and everyone else because he doesn’t speak politics; he speaks his heart.

“I’m not in hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Would people be so outraged at Putin without him? They weren’t when Russia took Georgia in 2008. They weren’t when Russia took Crimea in 2014. They weren’t when Russia attacked Donestk  and Lugansk in 2014. Things didn’t change until 2019, when Zelenskyy became President.

“I’m not iconic. Ukraine is iconic.”

Sorry, Mr. President. As the quotes here illustrate, you are iconic too.  

“This might be the last time you see me alive.”

I really hope not.

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Truth, Justice, and The Ukrainian Way

I feel sorry for  Russia…almost. Putin believed his own BS to the point of attacking a country the size of Texas with hearts the size of Texas’ self-image. As anyone from Texas will tell you, that doesn’t bode well for Putin.

Who’d a thunk Russia’s military would be so under-trained, under-supplied, and under-inspired? Who’d a thunk, just a few weeks into a war, Putin would have fired 8 generals and have four more killed in action?  

His only hope is not running out of missiles and artillery shells before Uncle Xi can help. 

One of the more intriguing parts of this story is how many military experts sided with Putin in predicting a quick victory for Russia.

Another is the world’s reaction. 87 countries  have come out against Russia. And most are not just verbalizing; they’re supplying Ukraine with everything from weapons to SUV’s to medical supplies to food. 

400 companies have shut down the Russian operations. Putin’s response? He’ll nationalize them. I wonder what movies he’ll stream on PutinFlix, or what food he’ll serve at McPutins, or what economic losses he’ll tabulate in Putexcel.

In a way, we may owe Putin a thank you. He’s brought much of a painfully riven country back together. Democrats and Republicans (well, except the Tucker-Trump fans) are speaking out against Putin.

Americans are donating millions of dollars to Ukraine. Our veterans are volunteering for the Ukraine military. Others are opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees. 

Congress actually took time off from trying to pass H.R. 2116 – the CROWN Act, a bill banning race-based hair discrimination, to pass legislation sending money and weapons to Ukraine. 

More shocking, they all sat together. Yes! Without spitting on each other –  last Wednesday – to listen to a real leader speak about real patriotism, real sacrifice.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, for whom English is a third language, used simple words to talk about truth, justice and what was once the American Way.  

Move over Superman, your real life persona has arrived.

Which reminds me of another country’s response to an earlier Russian dictator. “There are so many Russians and our country is so small, where will we find room to bury them all?” said the Finnish people when Stalin attacked them in 1939.

Now there’s inspiration.

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The Woman On The Couch

She’s a young woman in her twenties: smart, energetic, empathetic, self-sufficient, a quick learner.

She’s a full-time medical assistant and part-time babysitter working for lousy pay to support herself and save for medical school. 

She sits on the couch, crying.

Not because of the twelve hour days. Not because of the stress of preparing for the MCAT. Not because of the long drives to the small home in Northeast Philly to visit her little siblings.

Nope. She is crying because her countrymen are being blown-up, shot up, cut-up, and slaughtered by Vladimir Putin.

This young woman and her family immigrated to the US from Ukraine when she was nine and her older brother was eleven— six years before her sister was born, seven years before her twin brothers were born. She was raised in rural Ukraine by her grandfather (who died just a few months ago) and her grandmother. Her parents had to find work in separate nations to feed the family. 

Sixteen years later she is well-educated, hard-working, thoughtful, kind, and ambitious. She doesn’t have a shred of an accent. 

What she does have is a visceral and ethereal bond with her birth country. What she does have is relatives trapped in Ukraine. What she does have is zero— not a prayer’s chance in Hell— of helping them or any of her countrymen. What she does have is a smartphone where she can watch the destruction of a peaceful, beautiful country, while helpless to do anything about it.

So she cries.

She cries while missiles fly and bombs fall, while Putin’s 190,000 troops surround, smash, and smother a country that has never done a thing to harm Russia or Putin— except feed them from it’s bountiful farmland— while politicians from the US and Europe furrow their brows at polls and probabilities, and shrink from their human responsibility to stop the Hitler wannabe.

She cries while Putin thumps his chest and threatens Europe just as Hitler did in 1938. She cries while Putin duplicates Hitler’s attack on Czechoslovakia which led to WWII. She cries while Europe and the US apply Chamberlain-like diplomacy.

She cries while the former President of her new country marvels at Putin’s “genius”, while ratings king Tucker Carlson turns up his snotty little nose at Ukraine and Ukrainians.

She cries while you and I worry about the price of gas, how much vegetables will cost, and if Major League Baseball will open its season on-time. She cries while Americans argue over how to cherry-pick history,  as Ukrainian civilians line up for AK-47’s they don’t yet know how to fire, creating history LIVE and on camera. She cries when Ukrainian marine Vitaly Skakun blows up himself and the bridge he’s standing on to block Russian troops at least for awhile.

She cries because she can’t do anything else.

If that disturbs you as much as it does me, here’s an idea: if you know anyone like this young woman or people from any other countries under Putin’s threat, call them and let them know you care, offer help if they lack anything, or just a shoulder if they don’t. 

Find legitimate places to send help to Ukraine and the 50,000 who have already escaped and thousands more who will flow to countries bordering Ukraine.

Help those who eventually make it to the US. 

And tell Carlson, Trump and their soulless buddies what the troops on Ukraine’s Snake Island told the Russian ship that ordered them to surrender or die: “Go F**K Yourself!”

It’s the response our military heroes have given to enemies from the Revolution forward.

It’s the response we should all give.

It’s the response this young woman would give if she had any alternative. But she doesn’t. So after a day of work, of studying, of babysitting, she sits on her couch. 

And cries.

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)