Five Quick Things: The Chamber of Commerce GOP v. Ron DeSantis - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Five Quick Things: The Chamber of Commerce GOP v. Ron DeSantis
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill targeting Disney’s special tax district, April 19, 2022 (WPLG Local 10/YouTube)

I don’t know about you guys, but this has been a week. I’m more worn out than that Biden staffer who had to play Donnie Darko Easter Bunny was last Sunday.

Accordingly, let’s try to make these Five Quick Things truly quick, yes?

1. The RINO Empire Strikes Back Against Ron DeSantis

You knew it was a matter of time before the “establishment” Stupid Party GOP would begin clucking over the things Ron DeSantis and the thoroughly based and thoroughly correct Florida Legislature is doing.

Specifically, we’re now being lectured by the likes of National Review’s Charlie Cooke and radio host Erick Erickson about the Florida Legislature’s passage, and DeSantis’s impending signing, of a bill eliminating the self-governance provisions of special districts in the Sunshine State like the one Disney enjoys.

In 1967, as an incentive that was part of the foundation of the 40-square-mile Walt Disney World complex outside of Orlando, the Reedy Creek Improvement District was created by that state’s Legislature. It essentially makes Disney’s park a jurisdiction unto itself, giving it all kinds of advantageous perks under the law.

Now, thanks to Disney declaring war against Florida’s electorate by creating a national, or even international, controversy over the Florida anti-grooming law and going further in openly stating its intention to use its cultural products to push a “queer” agenda on American kids (and those around the world), the Legislature is choosing to claw those advantages back.

According to Cooke, this is a thicket the Florida leges and DeSantis are diving into. And Erickson says it’s all just political theater, because the matter will go to court.

Well, to Cooke, one might respond, “We’re all already in this thicket.” When the most prominent entertainment media conglomerate on Earth is now openly grooming children into exotic sexualities, the problem is a whole lot bigger than whether the politicians in Florida start to throw shade at them and make trouble for their corporate welfare improvement district. And to Erickson, so what if it goes to court? Do you not realize what a mess it is to have to fight the state in a state court? Disney’s welcome to litigate this until the cows come home, and to spend a decade doing it.

The point of this, as the Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson correctly noted, is that rogue evil-empire conglomerates like Disney who politicize themselves and engage in divisive virtue-signaling must be punished for doing so.

And this guy’s take is pretty good, too:

And to the establishment/anti-MAGA/Stupid Party crowd, the question remains: where were you when Disney and these other corporations you’ve been in bed with for so long decided to go woke? If these people are your friends and you’re so compelled to simp for them, how come you’ve had no influence on them?

Or are you on their side on things like the anti-grooming bill?

Politics ain’t bean bag. The ineffectiveness of the GOP over the past 30 years and more is a direct function of this idea that it’s more important to fight by the Marquess of Queensberry rules than to win.

Disney isn’t the same company it was in 1967. In 1967, Disney was worth doing this deal with. Now it isn’t. Disney didn’t hold up its end, so Florida is pulling the plug. If that makes for a messy breakup (it won’t; Disney isn’t leaving Florida), and DeSantis and the Legislature are fine with that, what’s to criticize?

We’re going to see more and more of this as the GOP learns to fight and win. Stupid Party gonna stupid. But the rest of us are moving on.

2. A Rare Bipartisan Bill Worth Noticing

Speaking of Stupid Party, I’m sure our readers know where that comes from: it’s the old joke that says the GOP is the Stupid Party and the Democrats are the Evil Party, and when they get together to pass bipartisan legislation it’s invariably both Stupid and Evil.

That joke is funny because it’s true, at least most of the time. But I think I’ve found an exception — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO). It’s a bipartisan bill whose lead sponsor is Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar (there are 12 sponsors in all, including six Republicans — Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy, Cynthia Lummis, Josh Hawley, and Steve Daines), and it seeks to deaden some of the advantages the Big Tech oligopoly has carved out for itself in the online marketplace.

For example, if you want to sell products through Amazon, you’re all but forced to surrender your freedom to price products to them. You aren’t allowed to undercut Amazon’s price by selling lower through your own website. The bill would put a stop to that. It also addresses the fact that if you search for something through Google, you’re going to get bombarded with ads from Google’s digital network, plus the page will be full of internal Google stuff.

And yes, you can say that it’s Google’s search engine, so why shouldn’t it serve Google’s interest? That’s valid. Except when Google controls some four-fifths of the digital advertising space as is, and Google’s search engine controls the lion’s share of that market, you don’t have a free market. You have a monopoly, or at least a very tight oligopoly.

The old-fashioned approach to breaking up this logjam whereby a tiny number of oversized Big Tech companies can self-deal their way into a closed market would be to do what the old-school anti-trusters did to Ma Bell and Standard Oil: to swing a fat hammer and smash those giant companies into tiny bits, which then compete against each other and others in a newly opened market.

That could be done in the case of a Google, Apple, Amazon, or Facebook. But it’s doubtful that you’d achieve what everybody wants. Force Alphabet to spin Google’s search engine off into its own company, and you’re still going to have a dominant player in the search market. Force Amazon to spin off the Amazon Prime video streaming service, and you’re still going to have Amazon’s dominance in the online shopping market.

What AICO seeks to do is end the self-dealing. It speaks to something Russ White talked about yesterday here at The American Spectator: platforms and publishers. If Amazon or Google want to have the platforms, they can’t use them for their own ends. The platforms have to be neutral. They have to be a public space, tended as such, and not slanted for ideological or political, or even for commercial, ends.

It’s either that or we’ll have to treat them as public utilities.

Because there isn’t a good way to break up Amazon the way Standard Oil was broken up.

The Federalist has a good piece on AICO. Check it out here.

3. They’re Not Overdoses. They’re Murders.

A really awful story came out of New Orleans this week (which isn’t unusual, sad to say):

A student that died under unknown circumstances after she disappeared with a rideshare driver following her first Mardi Gras parade apparently died of fentanyl poisoning and ethanol intoxication, the coroner’s office told WWLTV.

Ciaya Whetstone was at a New Orleans bar with friends following the parade Feb. 19 and reportedly left with an Uber driver to go back to her apartment. According to Whetstone’s roommate, Whetstone went home, changed clothes and left the apartment again with the Uber driver.

The timeline following their departure is unclear. Whetstone was later brought to a hospital in a private vehicle that same night and was pronounced dead.

Whetstone’s family has been pressing for answers since her death.

“No information from the police. […] No information from Uber on the background of this driver, his route,” said Atlanta-based attorney L. Chris Stewart. “They don’t know if she was sexually assaulted. They don’t know if she was drugged. They don’t know anything.”

There’s a temptation to ignore stories like this as an old-fashioned drug overdose. But when fentanyl is involved, your ears should perk up.

Back in December, the DEA warned about the possibility of things just like this happening:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is sounding the alarm on fentanyl as it is raising the stakes in the illegal drug trade.

Fake counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, a chemical potentially 50 times more potent than heroin, are making the nation’s illegal drug supply more deadly, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

“The supply of these pills is going up exponentially,” said Joseph Palamar, a drug epidemiologist at New York University Langone Health.

“They are easy to transport and difficult to track. Pills are the ultimate fake out. You can fake out your parents, your friends, your partner, law enforcement.”

The nation recorded the highest number of fatal overdoses on record at approximately 100,000 over a year-long period through this April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Mexican drug cartels are spreading this illegal type of fentanyl across more corners of the U.S. where unsuspecting people sometimes ingest an unpredictable amount and mixture of the controlled substance that could kill them, the report added.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have seized an excess of 20 million fake pills this year, such as those that are designed to pass for prescription pain meds like oxycodone, but their mass production by the drug cartels complicates how the agency can control the supply.

And just Wednesday, an illegal immigrant was caught in Michigan with 20,000 fentanyl pills the cartels had loaded him up with.

Those pills were marked as Oxycontin.

So when you hear that some kid died of a “drug overdose” and fentanyl was found in his or her system, don’t disregard it as a dope addict who went too far. That, in many cases, is not what’s happening at all. Instead, that kid was murdered by a Mexican drug cartel, with the Chinese Communist Party as an accomplice, using fentanyl disguised as a recreational drug in pill form. Lots of people who’ve never even tried drugs before are dropping dead from fentanyl poisoning.

They’re finding fentanyl in everything from bags of Skittles to vaping pens in contraband coming across the border. And yet the Biden administration still refuses to put a stop to what’s literally an act of war against this country.

4. We Can Survive Minus CNN Plus

On Thursday, word hit that CNN+, the streaming service that failing news network CNN had launched earlier this year to some fanfare, including having blown $8 million to lure Chris Wallace from Fox News as one of its marquee assets, is kaput.

Oh, well.

CNN+ had less than 10,000 subscribers, which meant a lot fewer people were checking out its content daily than are reading our stuff here at The American Spectator.

Hell, my site The Hayride does more traffic than that. Maybe CNN should have given me a chunk of Chris Wallace’s $8 million. I have some uses for that swag if they want to give it away.

Paid streaming news is a very weak business model. It’s really only viable in a conservative context seeing as though left-skewing news products are ubiquitous. But it’s more than that — nobody cares what Chris Wallace says. Nobody cares what any of the main CNN “talent” says.

Here and there I’ll talk about cargo cult economics, and that’s a good explanation for what CNN tried to do here. You’re aware of cargo cult economics, right? If not, here’s a good explanation.

The people who ran CNN already didn’t have a clue how to generate an audience. But they saw that other networks, Fox News among them, were starting streaming services and generating subscribership. And they figured that was something CNN needed to do as well.

But CNN+ was a lot like those bamboo planes and control towers the Pacific Islanders put up. It was an accoutrement of a successful media entity without the actual substance of one.

You have to fill a streaming service with content people are willing to pay to consume. CNN has none. And the cargo cult went hungry and died off.

Oh, well. Life goes on for everybody but Chris Wallace.

5. My Series of Novels Is Now Complete

Here’s some cool news: I’ve just published the fourth, and for now final, novel in my Tales of Ardenia series. It’s called Quandary, and it’s now available at Amazon. The paperback version is $22.95, and the Kindle version just $9.95. A signed copy of the paperback version is available direct from the author for $27.99 here.

When I started out three years ago with the novel-writing project, I told myself I’d write four of these in a series and then that’d be it. I could write a fifth one, and I could do revised editions of the four. Part of me wants to. But I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, so as of today I’m …

Not a retired novelist. Perhaps a novelist in remission.

In any event, if you’ve read the three previous Tales of Ardenia books, AnimusPerdition, and Retribution, this fourth one will be your favorite. It’s a big epic story, but it moves fast. The plot is rich and complex but easy to follow nonetheless. And it builds to a big, double-sided climax that you might not quite expect.

The folks who’ve read these books are screaming at me that someday they’ve got to be turned into a super-bingeable TV series. I agree. But those are never as good as the books are, right? So feel free to check them out. And signed copies of the complete set are available here.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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