Click for larger version
Hot on the heels of his official Twitter-disaster campaign announcement, the Ron DeSantis campaign has launch an attack on Donald Trump–for being too chummy with that demon Anthony Fauci. And what better evidence than pictures of Trump hugging and kissing Fauci? Pity they didn’t exist. But no problem! Deepfakes:
A Ron DeSantis presidential campaign video shows three pictures of Donald Trump hugging and kissing Anthony Fauci, all of which seem to be fake images generated by artificial intelligence. One professor told Ars today that there is “no doubt” the ad uses fake AI images.
As reported by AFP yesterday, media forensics experts say the images, which the DeSantis ad passed off as photographs taken during Trump’s presidency, have telltale signs of AI. Even non-experts may notice oddities, such as incomprehensible text on a sign that should say “White House” and “Washington.”
Of course, another giveaway is that then-President Trump and Fauci weren’t really on hugging and kissing term
The Ars Technica link above gives a lot of details as to how one can tell the images are fakes. No comment from the DeSantis campaign yet, although this is consistent with an m.o., part of which seeks to take advantage of the old adage that the ‘truth is still putting on its boots while a lie speeds around the world’. (I used to think the original was coined by Mark Twain, but it seems not…)
President Biden has trailed the idea of a Freedom Agenda as the central theme of his re-election campaign. (“The freedom for women to make their own health-care decisions, the freedom for our children to be safe from gun violence, the freedom to vote and have your vote counted. For seniors to live with dignity, and to give every American the freedom that comes with a fair shot at building a good life.”) It of course harkens back to FDR’s Four Freedoms (“the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear”).
What would a Bidenish Freedom Agenda look like if I were designing it for the 2024 campaign? Here’s my first very tentative stab at a draft. It’s not as pithy as FDRs!
- Freedom to vote. End political gerrymanders. Require states to enact policies that provide sufficient polling places and times to ensure fair geographic access, allocate resources designed to cut waiting times at polls, and set times to vote that fall outside working hours. Stronger rules, at least for ballots with federal elections, designed to minimize partisan meddling with vote counting and reporting.
- Freedom from tyranny. Protection against tyrants foreign and domestic. We need to be vigilant against domestic militias and other insurrectionists. We should continue our support for Ukraine and Taiwan lest we embolden their neighboring tyrants. Meanwhile, we should reduce our support for autocrats who abuse their people, and support pro-democracy movements, whenever strategically possible.
Personal Autonomy and Empowerment
- Freedom to control your own body. National legislation to overturn state laws telling people what they can do with their bodies, notably most forced birth legislation, and also most limits on what parents can do in directing their children’s care.
- Freedom to breathe. A strong clean air and clean water environmental agenda. Seek to remove the vast majority of man-made toxic–and especially carcinogenic and hazards to reproduction–out of our air, water, and food. Revisie our public health system to prepare for the next pandemic, so we don’t have to be afraid of each other’s breath.
- Freedom to learn. Public college should return to its history of being very low cost, or maybe even free. We could start with community college and the first two years of a four-year degree in state college. Plus,
- Freedom to read. Stop book-banning in schools based on parental vetoes that extend beyond their own children, while still leaving space for educators to select age-appropriate books for curricula and school libraries.
- Freedom to know. Stop textbook censors who are blocking mention of historical facts such as race discrimination, civil rights, and the Holocaust.
- Freedom to age in dignity. Solve the social security funding crisis even if it means new revenue source including removing the cap on social security taxes. Do not require people to work until they are older to retire, nor to survive on less when they do.
- Freedom to compete. Revive strong anti-trust enforcement, and re-tool it for new digital markets. Market power is too concentrated in a large number of industries. Part of this is the rise of network industries, and the so-called ‘winner-take-all’ economy but a lot of it is just due to lax anti-trust enforcement. When competition falls to monopolies, capitalism looses its dynamism, and owners and managers of dominant firms accrete more wealth and power than is healthy for society along with the ability to acquire (and sometimes choke off) innovative potential competitors. At its worst we get ‘too big to fail’ firms that can extort government support with insufficient consequences for management and shareholders when the firms make bad decisions.
- Freedom to organize. Revise state and federal laws to remove anti-union bias, including so-called right-to-work laws. It’s clear that unions do more for wage equity than any other single thing.
Missing from the above is something about global warming. “Freedom from roasting” doesn’t sound quite right….but “Freedom from climate change” or “Freedom from Carbon” sounds like a pipe dream.
Not on ver 0.1 of the list but maybe belongs on it: Freedom to travel Gun control. Better policing, which protects the innocent while not committing violence on them; probably this will require setting up new kinds of paramedics and social workers to take on dealing with people whose primary issues are due to illness and other factors.
Important issues that may not lend themselves to this treatment.
- Taxation/deficit issues in the shadow of inflation.
- Immigration reform.
- Basic structural reform of the national government:
- Ethics rules and term limits for the Supreme Court;
- Restructuring the Senate so it more closely reflects the national population — currently most states have smaller populations than LA County alone, but they each have two Senators. Something is wrong there. but ‘freedom from the dead hand of the past’ is not a good slogan…..
I’m surprisingly OK with the idea of President Biden running for re-election. Although not the second coming of FDR that his most fervent partisans predicted, Biden has been far more successful than I would have predicted. The giant climate and jobs bill, the rallying of NATO to help Ukraine (plus its expansion to heretofore neutral northern nations), the judges (on the whole), plus a lot of smart regulatory moves, all together it’s a remarkably good track record. I do worry about the upcoming debt limit fight, but that’s on Biden only to the extent that his team chose not to try to defuse the bomb during the lame duck session.
Anyway, despite all that, I thought this SNL bit was really funny:
“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” — West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943) (Robert H. Jackson, J.).
I’ll tell you what you can talk about in school — DeSantis to expand ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law to all grades.
Justice Robert Jackson
Now’s about when you would expect serious candidates for 2024 Senate election to let it be known they have an interest. For legal reasons, it often makes sense to delay a formal declaration until much later, but you would expect to see subtle online campaigns, maybe an exploratory committee or three. Yet on the Democratic side it seems awfully quiet.
Although far from great, the general political picture is more mixed than it might seem:
That last point is in my mind the key: I can’t think of any Democrats with a statewide profile who’d be a plausible candidate. Val Demings lost to Rubio, and I’ve seen no sign she wants another Senate race. That means the best Democratic candidate will be someone with a strong local base. I don’t follow local politics outside South Florida to even have an idea what the field is–which is a sign of the problem.