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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired for two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

03-08-2023 - Voting By Mail, a Politickler, a Cerabino Column and Homage to Shakespeare

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Now is the Time to Check on Voting by Mail

Many registered voters in Florida prefer to ‘vote by mail,’ but the ability to do so can expire without the voter being aware of it.  By visiting https://www.pbcelections.org/Voters/Vote-By-Mail, or by just CLICKING HERE, Palm Beach County residents can update their ‘voting by mail status,’ or find out whether they have already done so.  (I found that I was okay to vote by mail until Dec. 31, 2024.)  Don’t make any assumptions.  Go to the site and sign up to vote by mail;  if you already have done so, the site will tell you so.

Florida’s anti-democratic Republican politicians routinely attempt to make it harder to vote. This is only one of the traps they set, like making it a crime to offer a bottle of water to someone standing in the hot sun in a voting line on Election Day. That is why this is important.

If you vote elsewhere in Florida, contact your county Supervisor of Elections.  Elsewhere in the country, contact the appropriate State agency.


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Shakespeare Would Definitely Understand 2023

Let's talk about William Shakespeare who would be right at home in the middle of today’s political debates between the defenders of democracy in the United States and its assailants.  This will not be as painful as it sounds.  Stick with it!

Shakespeare’s language, although English, is the English of over four centuries ago so it sometimes is hard to understand.  But stick with me.  I will help you out later on in this posting.

 Shakespeare wrote about 35 plays, many of them tragedies like ‘Hamlet’ or ‘King Lear’ and many of them lighter fare, comedies such as ‘As You Like It’ or ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ But he also wrote plays that dealt with politics.  That was tricky business because writing the wrong thing in those days could result in one’s head being chopped off.  So he set these political plays a couple of centuries earlier and presented them as ‘historical plays.’ Two of them, Henry IV - Part 1, and the very beginning of Henry IV - Part 2, are the subject of this posting.

Here’s a very brief summary of those two plays.  Henry IV (also known as Harry or Bolingbroke) came to the throne through his predecessor’s murder which he had engineered and as a result, had enemies who were out to get him.  He managed to defeat the army of Henry Percy (also known as Hotspur) who wanted to replace him as King.  That’s where Part 1 ends.  Part 2 dealt with what happened thereafter, including his conquest of France, and ended with his death, to be succeeded by his son, Henry V (also known as Hal.)  Got it?  (If you’re really interested, read both plays and learn all about Falstaff, Shakespeare’s comedy lead, and that day’s version of a would-be Steve Bannon.  In Shakespeare’s next play, Henry V, we learn of Falstaff’s death.)

Shakespeare introduced Henry IV Part 2 with an ‘induction’ that is reproduced below.  It was spoken by an actor, called ‘Rumour’ who was dressed in a cloak covered with images of tongues.  Get it?  Tongues spread rumors.  He might have been wearing a MAGA hat as well.  Here are the words Shakespeare put into his mouth, with my comments inserted in red to help guide you through it.  I have also broken the speech into paragraphs.  This stuff is really pertinent today!  Here goes.

  "Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues

Rumour: Open your ears; for which of you will stop
The vent of hearing when loud Rumour speaks?
I, from the orient to the drooping west,
Making the wind my post-horse, still unfold
The acts commenced on this ball of earth.
(everywhere, I’m saying)
Upon my tongues continual slanders ride,
(I am a liar)
The which in every language I pronounce,
Stuffing the ears of men with false reports.
(He’s proud to be a liar and he’s talking about the kind of lies our defeated former president tells and that his followers repeat.  Big lies)

I speak of peace while covert emnity,  (I talk peace, but mean war)
Under the smile of safety, wounds the world; (my good words are harmful) And who but Rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful musters and prepar'd defence,
Whiles the big year, swoln with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant war,
(I hide preparations for war ... these are Shakespeare’s political ‘peacenik’ political comments.)

And no such matter? Rumour is a pipe (like a wind instrument)
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
(as you find daily on Fox)
And of so easy and so plain a stop
(as with the holes fingered by blowers on the pipe)
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wav'ring multitude,
(like the many who watch Fox)
Can play upon it.
(and even be able to repeat it.  It's simple like the instrument shown above)  But what need I thus
My well-known body to anatomize
Among my household?
(you already know I lie) Why (then) is Rumour here?

(and here is where Rumour stops lying)  I run before King Harry's victory, (carrying the news of it)
Who, in a bloody field by Shrewsbury,
(that’s where Henry IV defeated and killed Henry Percy, Hotspur) Hath beaten down young Hotspur and his troops,
Quenching the flame of bold rebellion
Even with the rebels' blood. But what mean I
To speak so true at first?
(But why am I telling you the truth anyway? That’s not what I usually do.  I am in the business of lying) 

My office (official task) is to noise abroad (spread the rumor) that Harry Monmouth (Henry IV was from that region of the British Isles) fell
Under the wrath of noble Hotspur's sword,
(a big lie)
And that the King before the Douglas'
(one of Hotspur’s associates) rage
Stoop'd his anointed head as low as death.
(another lie)
This have I rumour'd through the peasant towns (
I guess I’m back to spreading lies to the gullible believers in what were then the red States of England) Between that royal field of Shrewsbury (I am back to spreading these lies everywhere) And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone, (an old castle – like Mar-a-Lago?)
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
(still bitter over how Henry IV got the throne … or the defeated former president, sulking there, still denies losing the 2020 election.  Both liked hearing lies.)
Lies crafty-sick
(mentally anyway). The posts come tiring on, (it’s all over the news on TV and online)
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learnt of me
. (All they report are the lies I’ve made up, even though I knew the truth, like Rupert Murdoch) From Rumour's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.
(smoothly reporting lies, like Tucker Carlson does, a worse thing to do than to tell the truth)"

I suppose that last line explains why Rumour, whose voice was obviously that of Shakespeare, did tell the audience the truth about the battle before he reverted to his role as a liar.  Rumour, in this speech, apparently did have a conscience.  Today, Attorney-General Garland is still seeking a liar with conscience enough to finally speak the truth.

Quite a fellow, that Shakespeare, a man for his time and for ours as well.  Maybe he should have a time slot on MSNBC.


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The Florida legislator who introduced legislation requiring blogs (which were compensated in some manner) that included political commentary on Governor DeSantis and his crew in Tallahassee to register and file monthly reports … is the same fellow who was connected with the stealing of elections from Democrats by running phony third party candidate to siphon off some of their votes.  Election fraud is a way of life with him.   (A Frank Cerabino column from the Palm Beach Post on this subject is included at the end of this article.)

While I am not certain that this legislation regarding blogs has DeSantis’ support, it certainly serves as an evil warning for Floridians.  In Nazi Germany during the 1930s, those wise enough to sense such warnings left the country and avoided the Holocaust a few years in the future.

Would you want Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, or their ilk in the White House?  Of course not!  Remember that Ron DeSantis was one of this unsavory team before he decided to leave Congress and run for governor.  Politically, he is still with them and that is reason enough for Americans of all political persuasions to see that he does not get the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, and if he does, to work for his defeat.

That’s difficult in Florida where DeSantis controls both Houses of the Legislature.  The Democrats do not even have a State-wide leader to head up a ‘shadow’ government working for legislation that is in the interest of most Floridians.  Both Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist were flawed candidates but the Democrats had no one better with which to oppose DeSantis last year.  So they lost.

The Cerabino column:

First they came for the bloggers

"If you’re a political blogger in Florida, look out. You may be next.

It’s hard to keep up with the forays into authoritarian dystopia going on here in the “free state of Florida.” But I’ve found that a good rule of thumb is to allow that anything is possible. So, I wasn’t completely surprised by a new proposed state law that would require bloggers to register with the state if they write anything about Gov. DeSantis, his cabinet or his Republican-controlled state legislature.

Sure, it’s cartoonishly anti-American but DeSantis has already made it known he wants to find new ways to muzzle any disobedient voices in the media.

“We’ve seen over the last generation legacy media outlets increasingly divorce themselves from the truth and instead try to elevate preferred narratives and partisan activism over reporting the facts,” DeSantis said last month as a way to chum the waters.

So, why not start at the fringes by going after the ones least able to defend themselves, the bloggers? Put on your pants and come out of your bedroom. They’re comin’ for you, fellas.

Not surprising. That’s what bullies do. But it is shocking to see just how ham-handed this effort is.

Maybe that’s why after a week of blistering bad press over the bill, DeSantis backed away from it on Tuesday, saying that he doesn’t support it.

The attack on bloggers is buried in an otherwise innocuous bill that makes some cosmetic changes to the timing and frequency of the printed public notices that are required for government agencies to make about sales of land.

That goes on for nearly the first five pages of the nine-page, Senate Bill 1316 bill. Then, surprise, surprise! The rest of the rest of the bill is devoted to creating an unrelated mechanism for the state registration of bloggers.

Political bloggers who don’t register would accrue state fines

A blog is defined in the bill as a website or webpage that “hosts any blogger and is frequently updated with opinion, commentary or business content.”

The bill exempts websites of newspapers as falling under its dragnet.

“If a blogger posts to a blog about an elected state officer and receives, or will receive, compensation for that post, the blogger must register with the appropriate office,” it reads.

It goes on to require bloggers to file monthly reports “on the 10th day following the end of each calendar month from the time the blog post is added to the blog.”

In the filing to the state Ethics Commission, bloggers are required to disclose any monetary or other compensation they get, and the identities of those who support the blog.

Late or missing reports would accrue a $25-per-day fine that would cap at $2,500 per month.

If you think this is reasonable, that the state has a vested interest in weeding out the financial underpinnings of any blogger who has the temerity to question or criticize DeSantis and his wet-noodle enablers, consider this: The sponsor of this bill aimed at finding dark money in political blogging is Jason Brodeur, a guy who ought to be the last guy picked to accomplish this dirty work.

An unlikely champion for political transparency emerges

Brodeur, a state senator from a district that includes parts of Orange and Seminole counties, was at the heart of a secret plot to fool voters in key senate races by financing sham shadow candidates during the 2020 elections.

The Seminole County Republican Chairman Ben Paris was convicted of election fraud in creating a sham independent candidate in a three-way race as a way to siphon votes from the Democratic candidate in Brodeur’s successful election effort.

The sham candidate, Jestine Iannotti, was pictured as a Black woman in election mailings sent to Democrats, when she was in fact white and planning to move to Sweden after the election. She accepted the $1,200 filing fee to get in the race through a political operative trying to get Brodeur elected.

This is part of a larger plot where some $500,000 in dark money was used by shadowy groups to break election laws to fund sham campaigns to help Republican candidates.

By the way, none of this has been investigated by DeSantis’ and his crack election crimes unit. Talk about being divorced from the truth.

Convicted fraudster, Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County Tax Collector now serving an 11-year sentence, testified in a deposition that Brodeur was part of the planning for the fake candidate in his race, a contention that Brodeur has denied.

“Brodeur was there,” Greenberg testified. “Present in the conversation, just like he’d be sitting around this table.”

So, making Brodeur the sponsor of the bill that tries to make blogging look like political puppetry seems like a stupid idea. Even for Florida.

C’mon, Republicans. You’re not even making a modest effort at being credible anymore.

You’ve got 28 of the 40 seats in the Florida Senate. With those kind of numbers, you ought to be able to find a secret-funding sleuth better suited than Brodeur to lead on this issue.

The way it stands now, you’ve put a ridiculous bill in the hands of a ridiculous advocate.

At the risk of setting myself up for future registration requirements with Florida’s goon squad, I’m asking very reverentially if there’s some secret contest you’re all having to see who can demonstrate the least respect for the intelligence of Floridians."

Frank Cerabino is a columnist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at fcerabino@gannett.com.


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Have a nice day.

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