Photo by Ashley Jurius on Unsplash

DeSantis And Graham, These Meanies Are Red, Not Blue

“Some things are not forgiveable,” Tennessee Williams wrote in his masterpiece, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the most unforgivable thing in my opinion, and the one thing in which I have never, ever been guilty.”
Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, are you listening? Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are you listening?
The latest actions taken by DeSantis and Graham shows the truth as expressed by the great Greek philosopher, Seneca, who said, “All cruelty springs from weakness.”
DeSantis, Graham, are you listening? I think not.
The depths of their unfathomable cruelty and depravity were on display, first when Graham suggested a national ban on abortion, with little or no exceptions. And later DeSantis took the transparently, blatantly, despicable political action of shipping two plane-loads of Latinos who had fled persecution in their homeland, unannounced, to Martha’s Vineyard where residents scurried to find ways to house, feed and care for the newly-arrived migrants. The action was ironically taken on the first day of national Hispanic Heritage Month, and a day before the annual Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
Both are examples of political desperation because the Republicans are feeling weak, reeling from recent Democratic successes and Republican blunders, not to mention the very likely indictment of trump.
Graham’s latest cruelty was exposed when he held a news conference on Tuesday proposing a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote about a woman, Ashley Beasley, who questioned Graham and explained how she found out at 16 weeks that her son had a condition that would prove fatal. Beasley chose not to have an abortion and delivered her son at 28 weeks.
“When he was born, he lived for eight days,” Beasley said. “He bled from every orifice of his body, but we were allowed to make that choice for him. You would be robbing that choice from those women. What would you say to someone like me?”
Graham’s bill includes painfully, narrow exceptions for rape, incest and life-threatening pregnancies, but does not allow abortions in the even of severe fetal anomalies as in the case of Beasley or pregnancies that are otherwise nonviable.
In words that can only be described as duplicitous and ignorant, at best, Graham responded to Beasley, “The world pretty much has spoken on this issue. The developed world has said at this stage into the pregnancy the child feels pain, and we’re saying we’re going to join the rest of the world and not be like Iran.”
Goldberg proceeded to tear apart Graham’s thesis.
She explained that his argument is that American abortion laws are permissive and that banning abortion at 12 or 15 weeks would bring us in line with Europe. France and Spain, for example, both permit abortion for any reason through 14 weeks, and Germany through 12 weeks post-conception.
Lindsay failed to note that in most of Europe, abortion is state-subsidized and easily accessible early in pregnancy, so women don’t have to wait for later abortions while they struggle to raise money for the procedure.
Restrictions on later abortions also have broad exceptions in some European countries. According to Goldberg, until this summer, Germany maintained a Nazi-era ban on advertising abortion and while abortion is still technically illegal, it’s been decriminalized during the first trimester. Past the first trimester, abortion is allowed to protect a woman’s physical or mental health, taking into account her “present and future circumstances.” For low-income women, abortion in Germany is publicly funded, Goldberg wrote.
Even in Iran, where Graham says abortion is mostly legal, women can petition a panel to get an abortion in cases of severe fetal disability.
In the real world, not in the political witchcraft of Graham’s world, a woman can get a blood test at 10 weeks to check for some prenatal genetic disorders. The test can express risk levels, not certainty of the disorders. Goldberg quoted Dr. Kristyn Brandi, an OB-GYN and abortion provider in New Jersey and the board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, who said that diagnoses about fetal or genetic abnormalities are usually made at 15 to 20 weeks, too late for an abortion under Graham’s evil plan.
At 20 weeks, pregnant patients are typically offered an anatomy scan, which checks for problems like anencephaly, in which a fetus’s brain and skull fail to develop and other serious matters. Under Graham’s bill, abortion is denied unless the woman would die from an abortion. That effectively would bar an abortion for any woman who gets the horrible news from her amniocentesis or her anatomy scan but is not likely to die.
Graham is pandering to gather support from right wing Republicans as polls show many Americans are angry at the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade. But his Macchiavellian cruelty is likely to backfire and foment anger at Republican callousness. Graham has good reason to be quaking in his political boots, if you believe a poll by the N.Y. Times-Siena College that found that 62 percent of registered voters oppose the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, while 30 percent support it.
Further, the poll showed that 52 percent of registered voters strongly oppose the ruling overturning Roe, vs. only 19 percent who strongly support it. And 57 percent of women strongly oppose the ruling, compared with 15 percent who strongly support it.
The poll found that 62 percent of voters favor keeping abortion always or mostly legal, versus only 31 percent who think it should be mostly or always illegal.
Of course, the polls had Hillary Clinton soundly defeating trump.
And then there was Desantis who surprised federal and blue state officials on Wednesday when he airlifted to Martha’s Vineyard migrants who recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. It was part of a concerted and well orchestrated campaign by DeSantis and Republican governors in Texas and Arizona to highlight their claims about a migrant crisis by sending migrants to Democrat-heavy cities such as Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago.
The 50 migrants were told they were being taken to Boston.
DeSantis denies a political motive but he could have sent the migrants to Mississippi or Alabama or even Florida but the color of those states is decidedly red and that would offer no political points. Politics was clearly the rationale when the governor decided not to alert state or federal authorities about his plan to relocate the migrants. That might have given authorities time to prepare food, shelter and other services but it would have blunted the political drama.
Earlier this year, DeSantis convinced the Florida state legislature to set aside $12 million for the migrant relocation effort. He had suggested but later rejected an idea to ship migrants to Delaware, President Biden’s home state
Meanwhile, DeSanti’s efforts drew praise from a group that has been defined as a hate group with close ties to white supremacists.
The decision was applauded by R.J. Hauman, director of government relations and communications at Federation for American Immigration Reform, a non profit, anti-immigration organization that is influential among Republican immigration opponents.
The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies Federation for American Immigration Reform as a hate group with close ties to white supremacist groups. The group was founded in 1979 by Michigan surgeon and white nationalist John Tanton. Co-founders included Otis Graham and former Gulf Oil CEO, Sydney Swensrud.
“It’s beyond hypocritical to see mayors get upset at governors for transporting illegal immigrants to their so-called sanctuaries because it’s ‘inhumane,’ when they’ve been silent on Biden policies that incentivize the same people to put their lives in the hands of actual human smugglers and cartels,” Hauman said.
Tanton was a white nationalist and anti-immigration activist. He also co-founded the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigration think tank; and NumbersUSA, an anti-immigration lobbying group. He founded the pro-eugenics organization, Society for Genetic Education.
Under Tanton’s leadership, the group accepted a total of $1.3 million between 1985 and 1994 from the Pioneer Fund, a non-profit foundation dedicated to “improving the character of the American people” by, among other things, promoting the practice of eugenics, or selective breeding.
The Pioneer Fund was incorporated on March 11, 1937, modeled after the Nazi Lebensborn breeding program, which encouraged propagation of those “descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States and/or from related stocks, or to classes of children, the majority of whom are deemed to be so descended.”
Tanton had met with leading white supremacists and associated closely with the leaders of a eugenicist foundation once described by a leading newspaper as a “neo-Nazi organization.” He had made racist statements about Latinos and was concerned that they were outbreeding whites.
DeSantis’s actions also were condemned by some that likened it to the so-called reverse freedom rides of the 1960s. In 1962, southern segregationists sent African Americans from Southern cities to mostly Northern, and some western, cities by bus. They were given free one-way bus tickets, and were promised high paying jobs and free housing, but neither materialized.
The reverse freedom rides were a parody of the Freedom Rides which were organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) beginning in 1960. The reverse rides were organized by George Singelmann, a member of the New Orleans Greater Citizens’ Council, in retaliation against Northern liberals.
It was Singelmann’s way of testing the north and proving that white northerners weren’t sincere in their desire for racial equality, something like DeSantis’s efforts to prove blue state hypocrisy about immigration.
The rides were an effort not just to get press coverage but also to remove some African Americans from state welfare rolls, not unlike the call to reject migrants because of their alleged costs to the nation.
Singelmann and the Citizens Council planned to send thousands of African American Families to the North. They were rebuffed in efforts to secure $100,000 from the Louisiana legislature and had to rely on individual and group donors. The first reverse freedom riders arrived in New York on April 20, 1962. By Spring of 1963, the southern segregationist scheme had been exposed and the Citizens’ Council ran out of funds. By the end of their operation, they hadn’t met their goal, but still managed to lure 200 to 300 African Americans into participating in the reverse rides. The most common destinations were New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Sounds familiar.

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