Category Archives: Florida

Florida Conservative Justices Can’t Wait to Get on Anti-Abortion Bandwagon

Florida Supreme Court Building 2011Most maps of the state of abortion law in the US usually show Florida as a state where abortion will still be legal after the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. That’s because Florida State Supreme Court precedent holds that abortion is a right protected under the Florida Constitution.

Indeed, the Florida Constitution, unlike the US federal Constitution, explicitly protects an individual’s right to privacy (against the state, not against private parties, alas).

As recently as February 2017, a majority of Florida Supreme Court justices supported abortion. The court struck down a law that required a woman seeking an abortion to wait at least 24 hours between meeting with a doctor and obtaining the procedure.

Justice Barbara Pariente quoted her late colleague Justice Shaw’s statement from In re: TW that the state privacy provision “is clearly implicated in a woman’s decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy.”

But don’t let that fool you. In contemporary Florida, your rights don’t mean much.

Not only is the hard-right, DeSantis-appointed, conservative majority on the Florida Supreme Court ready willing and able to cast precedent to the wind when they feel like it, but according to the usually reliable Florida Bulldog, the Justices have already started drafting memos on how to overrule the state abortion-rights decision even though there is currently no such case before the court.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Florida | Leave a comment

Latest Wrinkle in DeSantis Plot to Kill More Floridians

DeSantis COVID PolicyI so wish I were making this up. Our glorious Governor, Ron DeSantis (R-Covid), has hatched a new plot to spread the pandemic in Florida: he’s inviting all the law enforcement officers from other states who got fired for not getting a COVID vaccine to come on down and infect us here.

The reasons why cops and other first responders need to be vaccinated are obvious: they come into contact with a lot of people, which makes them higher risk to contract and then spread the virus. Plus many of the people police come into contact with have no choice about the contact, be a stop for questioning, a stop-and-frisk, or an arrest. Vaccinating police officers vastly reduces the chance they will become both ill and if ill, seriously ill, which is good for public safety because it means they are far less likely to be infectious and because it means they are available for duty.

In hopes of attracting these viral vectors to Florida DeSantis stated that he’ll ask his the state legislature to pass a law giving a $5000 bonus to any out-of-state police officers who relocate to Florida.

As to the argument that vaccinated police officers might be dangerous to our lives, DeSantis has an answer, albeit one utterly detached from reality:

“On a scientific basis, most of those first responders have had Covid and have recovered,” DeSantis claimed without evidence. “So they have strong protection and so I think that influences their decision on a lot of this that they have already had it and recovered.”

DeSantis delivered this fantasy on Fox News of course.

(It’s true that five times as many police officers have died of COVID as have been killed in the line of duty, but that’s a far cry from saying they all have natural immunities. It is also true that the evidence of the relative merits of natural immunity and vaccination immunity levels and reinfection rates are confusing and even contradictory.  But where the idea that cops have all had COVID comes from, I have no idea.)

Posted in 2022 Election, COVID-19, Florida | 2 Comments

DeSantis Urgently Seeks More COVID Deaths in Florida

DeSantis COVID PolicyImagine you are the Governor of the great state of Florida. You look out at the state from your perch in Tallahassee, and consider how to make best use of your control of gerrymandered majorities in both houses of the state legislature. What problem in the State might catch your eye, one so serious and immediate that it requires a special session of the legislature in November — rather than waiting until the regular session two months later?

If you are Governor DeSantis, it seems you decide that Florida’s #1 urgent problem is that not enough people have died from COVID-19. And, having made this observation, you set right out to solve the problem.

This is, most horribly, neither a joke nor an exaggeration: Governor DeSantis announced today that he plans to call a special session of the Florida legislature in order to pass laws that would ban any local government from imposing a vaccination mandate, and create incentives designed to discourage businesses from doing so.

The original trial balloon suggested a ban on private businesses demanding that workers get vaccinated, but perhaps claims that this was dictatorial socialism caused a mild retreat: now we’ll just have a law that makes businesses liable for any medical harm that results from a mandatory vaccination, and a removal of existing protections for businesses from coronavirus-related liability if the businesses mandates vaccination for their employees.

You may think I’m being over the top here, in saying that DeSantis wants more people to die, presumably to allow more posturing to further his Presidential ambitions.  But don’t take it from me.  Take it from State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), whom the Sun-Sentinel quoted as saying DeSantis’ plan is “disgusting”:

“It’s so nakedly political,” Smith said. “And Floridians will die because of DeSantis’s political ambitions. Gov. DeSantis is more than happy to trade the lives of Floridians for GOP votes in Iowa and campaign contributions in Utah. In 2021, being a Florida Republican is more about being anti-vax and pro-COVID-19 than anything else. … Welcome to Florida, where politics have become deadly.”

In any functioning polity we would impeach DeSantis; in Brazil they might indict him for mass murder. Instead, here, we take him seriously as a candidate first for re-election, then perhaps for President or Vice-President. That is our #1 urgent problem.

Posted in COVID-19, Florida | Leave a comment

Real or Onion?

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., questioned Tuesday if the United States should rethink its diplomatic relationship with Australia given its strict, military-enforced COVID-19 lockdowns…

“You know, you guys, look what’s going on in Australia right now. You know, they’re enforcing, after a year and a half, they’re still enforcing lockdowns by the military.”

“That’s not a free country. It’s not a free country at all. In fact, I mean, I wonder why we would still have the same diplomatic relations when they’re doing that. Is Australia freer than China, communist China, right now? I don’t know. The fact that that’s even a question tells you something has gone dramatically off the rails with some of this stuff.”

So, real or Onion? You decide, then click through for the answer.

Continue reading

Posted in COVID-19, Florida, Onion/Not-Onion, Politics: International | Leave a comment

LA Times Says Gov. Ron DeSantis is #1 Reason Why Florida is Doing So Much Worse than California on COVID

DeSantis COVID PolicyLA Times, How Florida fell so far behind California in battling the coronavirus:

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, California and Florida have stood as polar opposites in how government should respond to the coronavirus.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year backed sweeping stay-at-home orders, and this summer supported targeted vaccination requirements and indoor mask rules. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis led efforts to ban health rules: he issued an order prohibiting mask requirements and signed a law banning vaccine passports — requirements by businesses or government agencies to show proof of vaccination to gain services.

[…]

A Los Angeles Times analysis found that of the nation’s 50 states, Florida had the worst COVID-19 death and coronavirus case rate for the summer.

California, by contrast, for the summer had only about one-sixth of Florida’s COVID-19 death rate, and one-third of Florida’s case rate.

For every 100,000 Floridians, 70 residents died over the summer, while for every 100,000 Californians, 12 residents died.

[…]

Higher vaccination rates and mask use indoors “have helped to blunt this fourth surge in California as compared to Florida,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, medical epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “We are seeing better application of public health measures in California compared to Florida.”

Of the nation’s 10 most populous states, Florida now has the second worst cumulative COVID-19 death rate since the  pandemic began, with 262 deaths for every 100,000 residents. Only New York has a higher death rate — 281. California’s rate is 176.

[…]

In other words, if California had Florida’s cumulative COVID-19 death rate, an additional 34,000 Californians would have died. And if Florida had California’s death rate, 18,000 fewer Floridians would have died.

[…]

Some epidemiologists and infectious diseases experts say Florida was hurt by leaders there making statements contradicting those made by leading scientists and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advised by late July that masks again be worn again in indoor public settings.

[…]

DeSantis, Florida’s governor, has made statements contradicting the CDC, stating in an executive order that “forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification.” In fact, there is plenty of evidence suggesting masks help: a study published last week by the CDC found that, in Arizona’s two most populous counties, schools without mask requirements were 3½ times more likely to have coronavirus outbreaks than those with mask rules.

[…]

In Florida, [University of Florida epidemiologist Cindy] Prins said she and other public health experts found their work and expertise criticized, misconstrued and politicized around whether masks work, vaccine efficacy and the merits of social distancing.

[…]

[Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which runs a widely cited forecast of pandemic projections] lamented key steps that could’ve inspired more people to get vaccinated. DeSantis, for instance, notably declined to get vaccinated in front of news cameras, and held an event criticizing government vaccination requirements, where he stood along side several workers employed by the city of Gainesville who said the government shouldn’t force them to get vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.

Thank you Governor DeSantis!

Posted in COVID-19, Florida | 1 Comment

Annals of Unsurprising Research Results

Masks are like shoesIn a vastly unsurprising piece of news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published two studies that show masks can help protect children from COVID-19 and prevent large outbreaks in schools. The result holds even when there is a high level of community transmission and the highly contagious delta variant is present.  (Spotted via Daniel Politi, Slate, CDC: Schools With Mask Mandates See Fewer COVID-19 Outbreaks. )

Of course here in Florida, the DeSantis presidential campaign strategy of killing off as many Floridians as it takes to satisfy the cravings of the red-meat Trumpist GOP means that the state of Florida punishes school districts that put their students first and require masks.

Not only that, but in the latest development, DeSantis and his new weird, weird, state surgeon general, have announced that asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID do not have to quarantine — they can attend school if they want — presumably also without masks?

So, once again, DeSantis supports a pro-COVID policy.  And the state suffers for it.

Posted in COVID-19, Florida | 2 Comments