Why Americans Should Stop Idolizing The Ivy League

Why Americans Should Stop Idolizing The Ivy League

After Hamas massacred 1,200 Israelis, gang-raped teens and kidnapped hundreds of innocents, 30 student groups at Harvard issued a statement reading, "We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

The anger that followed went beyond this dismissal of Isis-type barbarity. It pursued Harvard president Claudine Gay after she issued a mealy-mouthed response.

There was bit of a turnaround when prestigious law firms and other employers started rescinding job offers to students involved in these groups. Some companies may have objected to what they saw as overt displays of antisemitism. They may have also been shocked by the TikTok-level display of ignorance of the conflict's complexities, which these alleged top students had put on full display.

The main subject here isn't the current Mideast tragedy, but let us note: Students have every right to say stupid things, and employers have every right not to hire students who say stupid things. As for college administrators frightened of the children, that's a problem for the colleges.

This is about the undeserved reverence shown to these colleges no better than others with lesser brand names. How many times have my new acquaintances used the H-word to elevate their ordinary views?

Without a doubt, brilliant minds have attended and taught at Harvard, Yale, and the rest. But so have many mediocrities whose rich parents hired consultants to turn their offspring into the perfect packages these institutions want. That meant tutors to ensure high scores alongside some angle, such as prowess in a sport or carefully selected do-gooding.

Many in the media play the Ivy worship game. Reporters commonly put "Harvard-educated" or "Yale-educated" in front of some expert's name. If the person being interviewed went to the University of Nebraska or, say, Colgate, the alma mater is left a mystery. Never mind if the interviewee's less-glamorous school exceled in the area of expertise they were writing about.

My late husband, a senior editor at Princeton Press, set me straight on the hot air that fills the balloons of Ivy puffery. (I went to New York University.) Himself a product of elite education from prep school on up, he talked of seeking out writers at small colleges in the Dakotas who were actually doing original things. He found the professors who had spent their entire lives climbing the grades, from kindergarten to Ph.D. with hardly a break, tended toward the immature.

The most interesting intellectuals had held regular, non-academic jobs at some point: They had worked on a road crew or run a shoe store or painted houses. He was grateful to have been shaken out of his assumptions by time spent in the Marines. (He laughed about having to hide his background as an "Ivy flower" while being schooled on Parris Island.)

If these latest displays of cowardice by administrators at Harvard, Columbia and Yale vacuum up some of the fairy dust the worshippers sprinkle around these schools, so much the better. And that goes double if they prompt some rich alumni to move their donations elsewhere. How about funding organizations that help kids from struggling backgrounds get a foothold in a secure life?

One of the reasons so many super rich graduates give multimillions to the richest colleges is the same reason so many parents want their children to get into them. It gives them an opportunity to hobnob with other rich people or those whom they consider socially desirable.

"Should Ivy League Schools Randomly Select Students?" was the subject of a recent essay about how the COVID shutdowns gave the well-to-do an extra leg-up in these admissions. The more interesting question would have been, "When Can Everyone Stop Worshipping the Ivy League?"

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Joe Biden

In The Most Accurate Form Of 'Polling,' Biden Is Beating Trump

Don't you love those polls that have pundits racing to the news channels bucked up with hyper confidence? When you have one like the recent New York Times/Siena College poll saying that Donald Trump was leading Joe Biden in five out of six battleground states, the click-baiting headlines virtually write themselves.

But do the "early data points" say much about what will really happen a year from now? The pundits doing the hard-sell on their powers of divination say yes. After all, if the polls don't mean anything, who needs their interpretations?

On Election Day, Democrats did far better than expected in an actual vote. Possibly good news for Biden, no? But to many who make a living off polls, good news for Biden can't be real if it somehow clashes with their numbers.

"The contradiction between Democrats' success at the ballot box and their struggles in surveys seems to suggest the polling can't be right," political analyst Nate Cohn wrote in The New York Times. "It's an understandable response," he adds sympathetically, "but it's probably wrong." So don't think for a minute that the electoral results change the outlook for Biden in 2024.

But there happen to be better numbers than the ones Cohn and his prophesizing colleagues are citing. And they show Biden well ahead. The prediction markets for elections — essentially investors putting money on candidates — has a Biden win trading at 43 cents, which implies a 43 percent chance of victory, according to the Financial Times. Trump is trailing at 37 cents, while the other candidates are long shots.

What might make these markets a better indication of the candidates' prospects than those political polls? For one thing, they have a better record of accurately predicting the winner.

PredictIt is currently the biggest legal site for political-prediction trading in this country. A smaller political predictions market is Iowa Electronic Markets, at the University of Iowa. Like PredictIt, the Iowa market operates under the academic exception made by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. PredictIt works in a nonprofit arrangement with Victoria University in New Zealand.

The Financial Times sets forth the argument made by PredictIt founder John Aristotle Phillips that "prediction markets are a truth generator, powered by the invisible hand. ... If you trade based on fake news or half-baked punditry, you're going to lose your money."

Last summer, six U.S. senators wrote to the CFTC, calling political prediction markets "a clear threat to our democracy." Concern is warranted, but big money is already riding on electoral results, not the least of which are zillions in government contracts.

Wagering on presidential elections has been around since George Washington. Formal markets were organized around the time of Abraham Lincoln. Major newspapers would carry daily reports of their latest prices. These markets went into eclipse with the invention of scientific polling and the growth of other forms of betting, such as on horse races.

As the Financial Times reports, scholars who have studied political prediction markets found that "their collective forecasts were more accurate than even the most careful aggregations of polls." That seems the case especially for elections that are months off — like now.

Defenders of these markets further argue that letting the public put money on the line encourages civic literacy. As Kevin Clarke, a PredictIt trader, said, "It provides checks on how to interpret media, how to not just go by a soundbite, how to not allow a headline to take on a life of its own."

Undeterred by such criticism, mainstream punditry continues to place enormous importance on that Times/Siena poll "finding" that Biden is in trouble. Both legal political prediction markets, PredictIt and Iowa, say it's quite the contrary.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Yes, Even In Firearms-Friendly Maine, They Need Gun Safety Laws Too

Yes, Even In Firearms-Friendly Maine, They Need Gun Safety Laws Too

Rep. Jared Golden's about-face on gun laws is not surprising. He is a Democrat representing Lewiston, Maine, still convulsed by a mass shooting that took 18 lives. Formerly against tightening the laws, Golden now wants a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

One can understand why elected officials in rural areas, even in generally liberal states, would put forth the argument that guns really aren't a problem. Maine, after all, is a low-crime place. Its murder rate is fourth-lowest in the nation, despite a strong gun culture. Many Mainers rely on firearms to hunt for dinner. Vermont, another New England state with little gun violence and lax guns laws, has the second lowest murder rate in the country.

And what's true in northern New England is true throughout much of rural America. What fuels the impression that homicides are high in these areas is that the official statistics for gun deaths include suicides, which account for just over half of the deaths by firearms. Wyoming had one of the lowest homicides rates in America but the highest gun suicide rate in 2021, according to the latest numbers.

In opposing sensible gun laws, the National Rifle Association summons visions of peaceful gun-owning communities centered on hunting. Of course, the killing machine used in Lewiston was designed not for hunting deer but for mowing down large numbers of humans in seconds.

The massacre in Maine also underscored the insanity of letting anyone with severe mental illness own any firearm. The Lewiston killer, paranoid and hearing voices, was mentally ill enough to be hospitalized during the summer. And less than two weeks after he legally bought a high-powered rifle, he had run-ins with New York State police and his National Guard superiors.

Maine might have seen a stadium full of waving red flags regarding this sick man if it had red flag laws at all. But it doesn't. These laws enable the authorities to take away firearms from someone they have reason to believe is dangerous. Maine has a weaker yellow flag law. It requires a family member to first contact law enforcement when they fear someone at home is a threat to himself or to others. After that, police would take the disturbed family member into protective custody.

Many New Englanders harbor the delusion that these shootings are mainly a problem to their south and west, in places like Texas, Florida or Colorado. But of course, one of the most horrific school shootings took place in Newtown, a leafy Connecticut town where a mentally ill local kid shot dead 26 at an elementary school. And shocking as that event was, it was not enough to bring about a national ban on assault rifles.

Efforts to merely limit who may buy them are doomed to fail. The 20-year-old Newtown killer simply picked up his mother's assault weapon plus 10 magazines with 30 rounds each.

Maine's two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, won't go the distance to backing a ban on military-style weapons. They've even supported an amendment to a spending bill that would forbid the Department of Veterans Affairs from automatically alerting the federal firearms background check system if a veteran is mentally unable to manage their benefits.

One would like to think that Golden has seen the light and is not proposing tighter gun laws only because his own community is in mass mourning. Whatever the reason, though, he is now in the right place.

To sum up: No one who is not in the military or law enforcement should possess a military-style weapon. No one who has been deemed severely mentally ill should own any firearm. Those reforms shouldn't be so hard to support, including in gun country.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Will Montana Voters Notice That GOP Carpetbaggers Are Ruining Their State?

Will Montana Voters Notice That GOP Carpetbaggers Are Ruining Their State?

We get the allure of the Great American West, the majestic landscapes, rivers teeming with trout, clean air. When TV talk show star Kelly Clarkson announced she and her family were leaving Los Angeles, she said her first choice was "Montana." She kept moving, though, landing in New York City. Business considerations, you know.

But we understand what she meant by "Montana." And during the pandemic, a lot of claustrophobic Americans thought likewise and transferred themselves to Big Sky Country. Too many for local tastes.

And that might be the boost Sen. Jon Tester needs for a reelection race that Democrats in Trump country are finding difficult. Why so many allegedly live-free Westerners would listen to a real estate blowhard from Manhattan who talks like a mobster, and thinks that way, too, over a Montana wheat farmer is a mystery.

But there's hope in the Tester camp that Republicans represent a phenomenon that could close off the wild gorgeous spaces that ordinary Montanans treasure — or even their ability to buy a house in town. There's growing discontent over the state's population boom, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In 2021-22, the state's migration rate exceeded even that of Florida. House prices have shot up 42% since before the pandemic. In Flathead County, rich outsiders are snapping up lakefront property. That means rising prices, which mean rising property taxes forcing families to sell their cabins, according to the Journal.

One likely Republican challenger to Tester is Tim Sheehy. He is already being tarred as a multimillionaire who "got rich off government contracts." What could sink him, though, is apparent evasion of Montana taxes. Despite owning a 20,000-acre spread in central Montana with about 2,000 cattle, Sheehy appears to have not paid Montana taxes on his animals over several years.

Another is Matt Rosendale, originally a real estate developer from Maryland. Rosendale is among the handful of right-wing hotheads who helped boot Kevin McCarthy out of the House speakership. Rosendale claims to be a rancher, but actually, he leases the land and others work on it.

Elsewhere in Montana politics, the Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte just vetoed a bill that would have restored $30 million to a program dedicated to improving public access and conserving wildlife habitat. Writing in the Daily Montanan, local conservationists John Todd and Christopher Servheen noted that 130 of 150 state legislators, from both parties, supported the bill. "It was a boon for wildlife and for the activities and way of life that make Montana so special, a testament to our love for the outdoors and our commitment to preserving them for generations to come."

It is hard to explain how Gianforte got elected governor in the first place. He was a rich executive from New Jersey who made a pile of money, bought a big hunting estate in Montana, and promptly made war on locals who thought they could walk to a fishing stream they used for generations.

In 2009, Gianforte sued the state to remove a public easement that gave anglers, walkers and others access to the East Gallatin River via his property. In the old days of the West, landowners didn't fret much about their neighbors crossing their property.

Gianforte is among rich out-of-state buyers from all over the world who are amassing huge tracts of land in the rural West and erecting no-trespassing signs around their kingdoms. Their friends jet in to do private hunting in the vast landscapes that are being closed off to ordinary outdoorsmen.

As for the regular people living in Montana, the right wing that yaps about freedom is fencing them off. In the end, though, they get what they elect.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Chesebro Looked Impressive On Paper, But Sadly Had No Ethics At All

Chesebro Looked Impressive On Paper, But Sadly Had No Ethics At All

Where did Kenneth Chesebro come from? Son of a Wisconsin music teacher, he amassed sterling credentials, a Harvard Law degree chief among them. On paper he was impressive. But then he joined a conspiracy to overthrow the democracy. Chesebro gives credentials a bad name.

He applied his legal skills to veil criminal activity under plausible-sounding theory — all the while covering, so he thought, his own posterior. In the end, Chesebro was charged with working on slates of faked electors to overturn results in several states.

One can only marvel at his fancy legal spinning designed to facilitate the destruction of America's revered institutions. But being the careful lawyer he was, Chesebro told the Trump camp that the scheme "could appear treasonous." You don't say.

What made him do it? It isn't that he had been a Democrat who went to the other side. Yes, he had helped his Harvard mentor Laurence Tribe work for Al Gore in the disputed 2000 election. If he jumped the political chasm to advocate for Donald Trump, that was his right.

But if he truly believed in the MAGA cause, that the election was stolen, he wouldn't have agreed to flip on Trump. He would have taken the lumps and tried to defend himself in court.

The best explanation for Chesebro's performance is simpler, and boy, it is sad.

"He wanted to be close to the action," is how Tribe put it. He wanted attention.

Chesebro's Ivy polish was surely a draw for Trump given the downmarket personas of his other legal advisers. There was the batty Sidney Powell, the strutting John Eastman in his jaunty hat and flapping scarf, and the pathetic Rudy Giuliani.

Making a plea deal in the Georgia election interference case, however, puts Chesebro in the intimate company of Powell, whose swanning on TV about the plot to steal the election got so weird Trump had to fire her. Even back then, Chesebro was too smooth to join Powell in her utterly nutty claims that a dead Hugo Chavez was pulling the strings for Joe Biden. A discussion of what Powell truly believed is best left to the psychiatric profession, not the legal one.

Chesebro reportedly did tell the Trump team that a Supreme Court ruling before Jan. 6 would be more favorable to their cause if the justices feared there would be "wild" chaos on that day. This was a reference to Trump's Dec. 19 tweet: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

What could be the harm in adding a tablespoon of intimidation into the devil's cake mix? Though Chesebro opined that there was only a 1% chance the justices would step in, appealing to them, he offered, could have "possible political value."

Both Chesebro and Powell made plea deals to snitch on other Trump allies. They include promises not to lie at the co-defendants' trials. Back in September, Scott Hall, a Georgia bail bondsman, became the first Trump ally to plead guilty in the racketeering case.

They're all getting sweet probation deals.

On January 6, Chesebro donned a MAGA hat and descended on the Capital to stop the certification of the election that Joe Biden clearly won. But he will not spend a day in prison, unlike the dopes who charged past him and broke into the Capital.

Because he knew what he was doing, Chesebro proved himself more ethically vacant than the Trumpian mobs. He applied oily legal arguments made potent by an elite education. Supporting an insurrection against the United States, he undoubtedly figured, could be a good career move.

Chesebro now says he abhorred the violence on January 6. Wouldn't he just.

Froma Harrop's column for Creators Syndicate appears in more than 150 newspapers. She is based at the Providence Journal. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Mitt Romney

Why Romney's 'Centrist Third Party' Is Such A Very Stupid Notion

One can sympathize with Mitt Romney for deciding not to run again in Utah for the U.S. Senate. The traditional Republican has found himself isolated in a party where majorities still revere Donald Trump.

Romney had apparently discussed the idea of forming a new centrist party with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin. It would "endorse whichever party's nominee isn't stupid," Romney told biographer McKay Coppins.

That sounds sensible, but it actually might hurt the cause of peeling away the curse of Trumpism. Here's the problem:

A designated centrist would drain votes from Democrats as well as Republicans — and in the very swing districts that Democrats need to win if our politics are to return to normal. The far more effective strategy is to simply support Democrats running against the crazies.

The end game must be to make the Republican Party lose power. When that happens, the GOP may fix itself or another conservative party could rise from the ashes.

We know there are attractive Republican moderates who are not stupid — but who recently replaced Democrats in purple districts. They may denounce the lunacy of the authoritarian right, but their positions are of no consequence if their very presence in Congress empowers the worst of the worst.

And the worst of the worst are running the House of Representatives. Ever since the pathetic Kevin McCarthy sold his soul for the speaker's gavel, a handful of mephitic self-promoters have taken control. They now threaten to shut down the government for some stupid reason or another. They get away with their stunts because McCarthy has the slimmest of majorities.

Without the Republican moderates, he'd have no majority at all. The Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries would almost certainly be in charge. (Jeffries is so moderate that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez contemplated having him primaried by a left-winger.) The day may come when the Hatfield-McCoy approach to politics is replaced by a more cooperative rivalry, but it won't under the current Republican leadership.

The most admirable Republicans are those who choose to run bravely facing the tsunami of Trumpian sludge. We speak of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who sought reelection knowing she would almost certainly lose the primary to one of Trump's flying monkeys. The same goes for Peter Meijer, the Michigan Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment.

Cheney has said that if Trump again becomes the GOP nominee in 2024, she will campaign for Democrats running against Republicans spraying election lies. Her idea is simple and could be effective.

Helping Cheney's cause are Republican donors now hiding their checkbooks from the current party leadership. Consider the example in Michigan of real estate mogul Ron Weiser, who gave Republicans $4.5 million in the 2022 midterm. He's now had it. He can no longer stomach the "ludicrous" claims that Trump won Michigan in 2020.

"I question whether the state party has the necessary expertise to spend the money well," he told Reuters. Translation: They've joined the grifters.

By the end of March, the Arizona Republican Party had less than $50,000 in cash reserves. Why so little? It had spent over $300,000 on lawsuits intended to throw out Arizonans' votes for Joe Biden. And it blew more than $500,000 last year on an election night celebration for Trump-backed candidates, every one of whom lost in the midterms.

A third-party candidate might attract Republicans loath to cast a ballot for a Democrat. We get that. But rather than risk dividing the electorate in a way that could help the toxic election-deniers, disaffected Republicans would do well to partner with Cheney.

In this country one party or the other wins power. And that's why a third party could boomerang on its sponsors.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

AOC Seems To Be Growing -- In The Best Possible Direction

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been giving interviews of late, serious interviews. The New York representative is clearly maturing. The celebrity-obsessed lefty has turned into a working member of Congress. That's good for all who want the Democratic fringes to stop attacking their moderates and join them — and moderate Republicans — in preventing a fascistic Trumpian future.

If you are sensing distaste of both the far left and the far right, your hearing is fine.

Ocasio-Cortez recently described herself as "evolving, learning, challenging myself, but also rooted and grounded in who I am and why I'm here." Sounds promising. As second ranking Democrat on the powerful House Oversight Committee, all should welcome this great improvement over her early fundraising hailstorms against "enemy" Joe Biden.

Further down in that New York Times interview, Ocasio-Cortez was asked what changed the most about her since she took office. Her answer was short of satisfactory. "We were in transition between an older party and a newer one, in terms of where we were coming from ideologically."

The Democratic Party of Joe Biden looks a heck of a lot like the older party, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt party that did big things in the face of massive conservative opposition. Biden has overseen a nearly $400 billion investment to curb climate change, the lowest unemployment in 54 years and major cuts in health care costs. Perhaps his greatest feat was the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to fix bridges, roads and public transportation — and expand broadband internet.

Ocasio-Cortez voted against it.

And that was a turning point for much of her Queens-Bronx constituency, which was also tiring of the nonstop showing off. As a result, Democrats started launching primary challenges against her. Speaking of which, Ocasio-Cortez reportedly tried to find someone to primary Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a fellow New York Democrat, in 2022. His "sin" was moderation. Jeffries is now the highly polished and capable House Minority Leader.

Can Ocasio-Cortez win back our love? First she has to win back our respect. Democrats can't get things done unless they win elections. For the longest time, Ocasio-Cortez didn't seem to care whether Democrats won or not. She joined her hero Sen. Bernie Sanders in torching Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for president — even after Trump was the Republican nominee. You see winning elections wasn't as important as building the movement. Or, as Bernie put it, "the moovement."

Clinton, Ocasio-Cortez explained, was "this consummate insider that was bankrolled by corporate money." Which led the interviewer to ask why then has Ocasio-Cortez refused to join other Democrats in abandoning Twitter, now X. It is owned by Elon Musk, a consummate insider with, we hear, a lot of corporate money. Though Musk has used Twitter to frustrate the investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Ocasio-Cortez still feeds his social media company her 13 million followers.

By the way, it's fine with me that she has been working with Rep. Matt Gaetz on legislation to ban members of Congress from trading stocks. Gaetz may be an extraordinarily creepy Florida Republican, but the cause is good.

Ocasio-Cortez conceded that this cooperation might make some in the progressive wing "suspicious" of her. Radicals in both parties take this childish view that their champions commit ideological treason when they share an elevator with the other side. Anyhow, she added defensively, the Republican actually leading on that legislation was the moderate Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

That's progress for a Democrat who, in times past, couldn't even work with moderate Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez is growing up, and that's a good thing.

And so do we love Ocasio-Cortez now? Not yet. First we must forgive her. That will be slow in coming.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Rudy Giuliani

Promoting Trump's Lies, Rudy Giuliani Finally Sank To The Very Bottom

The Italian poet Dante mapped out nine circles of hell, each circle representing a sin. As the circles went deeper into the inferno, the sins attached to them grew more horrible.

Without much reflection, MAGA world has engaged in Dante's three lowest sins. From less terrible to most terrible, they are violence, fraud and treachery. The January 6 attack on the Capitol was violence. The efforts by Donald Trump and his flying monkeys to steal the 2020 election was fraud. And the betrayal of Americans' trust in the sanctity of their democracy was treachery.

Another circle should be dug for Rudolph Giuliani, who, in addition to encouraging violence, lying and treason, practiced human cruelty with no conscience whatsoever. We refer to the two innocent Georgia election workers on whom he preyed, Ruby Freeman and her daughter Shaye Moss. Not only did he smear them with blatant lies, but he publicly identified them as targets knowing the monkeys would sweep down and attack.

Giuliani accused the women of pulling fake ballots out of suitcases hidden under the ballot counting stations. With a racist flourish, he likened these two Black poll workers to drug dealers "passing out dope."

Trump himself singled out Freeman 18 times in a phone conversation with Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's secretary of state. He called the 62-year-old temp worker "a professional vote scammer," "a hustler," and a "known political operative" who "stuffed the ballot boxes."

Fulton County and Georgia officials totally rejected the fantastical story. One America News Network ran with it.

It's one thing in political combat, even unfair political combat, to fume over alleged cheating by unknown forces. It's quite another to name people you've charged with fictional crimes in the knowledge that it would endanger their lives, in this case, piling on a layer of racist sludge.

These women were subject to a flood of threatening phone calls, some terrifying. Freeman reported callers saying, "We're coming to get you. We are coming to get you." And the creeps threatened Moss' teenage son. The menace grew physical as simians banged loudly on their door in the night.

The intimidators, of course, could keep their identities secret. That's the coward's way.

Another sick vision in Trump's campaign to defraud the American electorate featured the "salt of the earth" Michigan Republicans who agreed to act as phony electors, all part of a plot to change the honest outcome in their state. It was unsettling to see how easily wholesome exteriors could cover so much moral rot. All they needed was a command from Trump, and they were ready to spread their furry wings and betray their country.

So effortlessly will MAGA world gang up on a scapegoat, it will go after its own. We speak of Ray Epps, the Arizona man who participated in the January 6 riot but was designated as a sacrifice to be tarred as an undercover government agent. The story was that he pushed violence as a means to disparage Trump and his followers. Tucker Carlson beat this drum, setting off a wave of toxicity that forced Epps and his wife from their home.

Freeman and Moss have reached a settlement with One America but are still suing Giuliani for defamation. Giuliani has admitted that his statements were "false" and would not dispute the "factual elements of liability." But his defense is that those vile accusations were "constitutionally protected" under the First Amendment.

I trust the women have good lawyers. May they bleed that vampire dry. Whether the First Amendment protects such vicious lies remains to be seen. But Giuliani should hope that Dante's "Inferno" was product of a poet's imagination. If it exists, he's in deep trouble for a long, long time.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Jimmy Patronis

Are Culture Warriors Just Too Stupid To Get How Business Works?

Jimmy Patronis, Florida's "chief financial officer," said that Farmers Insurance pulled out of Florida not because it was losing money there but because the company was "woke." How that wokeness manifested itself, he does not say.

The profit motive is apparently a very shocking concept to the state official tasked with overseeing Florida's financial regulation. But if he does "get it," this would be the latest example of a right-wing Republican trying to undermine capitalism for political ends.

Let's not dignify Patronis' statement by calling it a "lie." Nor is it just stupid. It is "shtupid."

Because it is undeniable that losses are what's driving some property insurers out of Florida, mostly due to massive flooding. And this problem is hardly limited to Florida. In Louisiana, 49% of which is below sea level, insurers are pulling back on offering homeowner's coverage — or piling on the price tag.

State Farm has said it won't accept any new applications for property and casualty insurance in California. Flooding is not the main reason. Fire is.

Allstate is also not signing new policies in the state. Why? The company says that the cost to insure new customers in California is "far higher" than the price customers are paying for its policies. When an insurer spends more paying off claims than it collects in premiums — that's called losing money.

Rest assured that California's reluctance to ban children's books about Tango, a penguin raised by two daddies (apparently true), in no way influences its insurers' decisions, one way or another, to cover properties there.

After decades of making good money, what's causing insurers to report less-than-zero profits after paying claims? It's the parade of cataclysmic weather events made worse by rising temperatures. There have always been hurricanes. But warming sea surface temperatures are already spawning more very destructive Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

The Biden administration is pushing policies to address this terrifying trend. Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis dismisses concern over global warming as "left-wing stuff." Well, not dealing with that "stuff" certainly frees up hours to go after Disney and drag queens.

Let the grown-ups worry about how drought, floods, killer heat waves and related pestilence are hurting their economies. Never mind the human suffering, should these guys care.

DeSantis' sharpest offensive against companies trying to make a living was his law forbidding them to require passengers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID. This meddling reached its nutty summit in the heart of the pandemic when DeSantis attacked the cruise ship lines operating out of Florida for insisting that passengers be vaccinated.

Face it, spending days stuffed on a ship with several thousand strangers, many carrying a potentially deadly disease, did not appeal to cruise patrons at the time. That went double for the older ones, who make up a large chunk of these companies' business. Thanks to COVID, the number of people who took cruises fell to under 6 million in 2020, down from almost 30 million the year before.

Is it possible that these businesses insisted on the COVID shots because they wanted to keep their customers and, thereby, make money?

Back in the real world of both climate science and business judgement, warming temperatures have made home coverage anywhere near the water unaffordable, if not unattainable. The price of homeowners insurance in Florida now averages an amazing $6,000. Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel recently said "that kind of economic cost is probably not enough to offset all the wokeness in the world or even the taxes."

Face it. Private companies don't want — and can't be forced — to lose money. It's time right-wingers got "woke" to that.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

The Summer Of 'Barbie' Couldn't Come Too Soon

The Summer Of 'Barbie' Couldn't Come Too Soon

Every summer has an obsession. The best ones are inconsequential.

Way back in 2013, we were "arguing" over Robin Thicke's song Blurred Lines, also featuring Pharrell Williams. The song came under attack for allegedly reinforcing rape myths. The suspect line — "I know you want it" — was oft repeated. Frankly, that sounded to me like an observation, accurate or not, but hardly forced sex.

Rolling Stone laughed it off. "Thanks to its lascivious, Pharrell-spun hook," the magazine smirked, "it held the whole world in its slightly skeevy grasp all summer long."

This summer the talk is of Barbie. Finding any controversy over the renewed fascination with the 64-year-old Mattel doll will be quite a stretch. The inspiration is Greta Gerwig's upcoming movie Barbie, about what happens when the doll enters the human world. Due perhaps to the lack of anything else that's fun, bubblegum Barbie pink is now everywhere, even on the cover of Businessweek.

Now I haven't seen the movie. But it should be a happy trip in Gerwig's imaginative hands. And Ken is with her.

Though I don't know much about Barbie the movie, I know a whole lot about Barbie the doll, having been handed an early version some years back. I recall being intimidated by the "mature" figure, particularly her generous bazoom and freakishly tiny waist. Up until then, our dolls took the form of babies or young children. Suddenly we went from roller skates to pink Corvettes. Mattel reproportioned Barbie a few years later to reflect the human female a bit more realistically.

The Barbie wardrobe was always flashy. There's Barbie in slinky cocktail dresses. There's Barbie the foxy stewardess from the Pan Am days. Even Barbie Rodeo Cowgirl! had a come-on look, with her low-slung bell bottoms and cropped red sparkly vest.

I recall an eight-year-old who came to visit carrying her "box of Barbies." It was a shoebox containing heads, legs, naked torsos and tiny hip boots made of gold Mylar. The young visitor saw nothing macabre about the contents. I think she planned to assemble a whole Barbie — or most of a Barbie — as the afternoon went on.

An aunt in Houston, fearful of leaving her house, would sit all day at her sewing machine and make spectacular sun dresses for my cousin's Barbie. Nowadays, home seamstresses and foreign sweatshops alike churn out Barbie outfits.

The French took to the doll but not to the American brash styling. And so, some years ago, a French fashion designer created tailored tweed suits for Barbie.

As an international phenomenon, Barbie was not free of controversy. In 1994, Kuwait's College of Sharia and Islamic Studies supported a fatwa against the she-devil doll, joining Iran's ayatollahs, who had long banned her.

In 1998, sensitive souls in Puerto Rico objected to the Puerto Rican Barbie as too Anglo. This took Mattel by surprise. The toymaker had proudly presented one of the dolls, in a traditional white ruffled dress, to the wife of the Puerto Rican governor. Whatever. Come Christmas, Puerto Rican Barbies flew off the store shelves in San Juan and environs.

This summer's Barbiecore craze has spawned parties for which grownup women dress in the pink spandex and platform shoes covered in glitter. Has anyone found a pink Corvette?

In a 1977 interview, Barbie's creator Ruth Handler explained why she felt girls should have a sexy doll with puckered lips and thick eyeliner: "Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future." If she says so.

Anyhow, it's nice to color our world pink, if just for a few summer weeks.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Elon Musk

Did Elon Musk Wreck Twitter Because He's So Lonesome?

Why does Elon Musk have to be the center of everyone's attention every day? Has he no hobbies? Is running an industrial empire less than a full-time job? Perhaps he's just lonely. Perhaps social media is not filling the need for human companionship — as many a depressed adolescent can explain.

At times the richest man on the planet, Musk certainly has options. He's already done remarkable things, such as supercharge the age of the electric vehicle and send rockets into space. Yet he chooses to pick public fights that offend his customers, while having negligible effect on public policy.

There was no business reason for his buying Twitter other than wanting to control a galactic megaphone. OK. But then he destroys its usefulness by letting a sewer of disinformation mix in with the good stuff. And he attacks the valuable creators who were filling up his feed for free.

Makes no sense unless the Twitter thing is a massively expensive form of psychotherapy to treat a lonely man's need for connection.

Musk seemed to be operating under the illusion that the children could never find another place to post their short messages. Mark Zuckerberg over at Meta, home of Facebook, is showing him otherwise.

Zuck's new social media site, Threads, is now trucking Twitter's user base to its feed. Meanwhile, Twitter ad revenue in the second quarter was down about 40 percent from a year ago, and that was before the Threads launch.

As an exhausting exhibitionist, Musk has company among the Silicon Valley CEOs and tech bros in playing the contrarian game. That means uttering controversial hooey meant, it seems, to set them apart from lesser beings plodding through reality.

Not only did Musk make Twitter worthless as a source of actionable information, he turned off users and advertisers alike by shooting off his mouth. He went so far as to traffic in an antisemitic-flavored reference to George Soros. It's pathetic how unoriginal that was.

The last straw was limiting the number of posts users could read each day. "If you think about it," Ashley Mayer, a venture capitalist, tweeted, "Elon Musk is the greatest PR person of all time. He has us rooting for Meta!?!'

Unlike the other challenges to Twitter that didn't get far, Meta has managed to create an easy-to-use site, many of whose features are familiar to Twitter users. And Meta could plug Threads into its enormous Instagram following. Musk is suing Meta for allegedly stealing Twitter employees and trade secrets. Meta says that's not the case.

Psychiatrists are seeing a surge in drug addiction among financial hotshots, in part to fight off loneliness. A good number, The Wall Street Journal reports, "turn to addiction to mask the reality that achieving their goals — like launching their own fund or making $100 million — can still leave them feeling empty."

Even if they want to develop genuine friendships, the billionaires can't be sure who really likes them, who is only after their money. As for intimate relationships, Musk has had two wives, one of them twice. Now he has none.

One would expect Musk to have better things to do than pursue grudge matches with a tech writer. Sure, Kara Swisher is the dean of tech writers, but is Musk so thin-skinned as to send her an email calling her an "a—-hole"? Apparently, yes.

Funny, but Swisher used to be one of his confidants. Now even she seems to be off Musk's "friend" list, though she's getting great mileage out of his attacks on her. As for Zuckerberg's Twitter replacement, all Threads needs to do now is pick up the tweeters left shipwrecked by an evidently troubled man.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Chris Christie

Dull DeSantis Can't Beat Trump -- But Maybe Colorful Christie Can

The sane world agrees. You don't get more bizarre than Ron DeSantis' latest foray into culture war lunacy. We speak of that campaign video that bashes gay America while flashing a picture of Brad Pitt as a hunky Achilles.

What homophobic crackhead made this ad? The Florida governor recalls Herbert Lom in The Pink Panther movie, where as an Inspector Dreyfus gone mad, he's seen banging angrily on a piano in a mental institution.

DeSantis clearly seems to be trying to get to the right of Donald Trump. But Trump doesn't look to his right as much as to his audience. He commands a big chunk of the Republican party by constantly entertaining it. The only other Republican who can also put on a show is, ironically, the most forceful Trump critic vying for the Republican nomination. He is former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Say what you want about Trump. He would sell Alaska to Vladimir Putin, and throw in our nuclear secrets. He'd tell his deplorables that Gatorade better prevents polio than the vaccine. As long as he can deliver a lively line, he's got his base.

But Christie can also deliver a line. True, his poll numbers remain in the single digits, but they're going up while DeSantis' are falling. A recent New Hampshire poll puts Christie third among registered voters. His six percent is creeping up on DeSantis' 19 percent.

What Trump has and Christie has but DeSantis has none of is a sense of humor. Perpetually beating up on Disney is political strangeness personified. Sending his wife Casey out to "humanize" DeSantis is not going to work. A former TV personality in tight party dresses and stiletto heels seems an imperfect spokeswoman for "mamas" in Iowa.

DeSantis wants to sell himself to caucusgoers in Iowa as the anti-gay, anti-abortion upholder of the faith. But if the Republicans of Iowa — and MAGA country in general — wanted a real Christian, they'd be filling auditoriums for Mike Pence. Instead they lie prostrate at the feet of the Golden Calf from Manhattan, an adulterer who cheated on his third wife.

Like Trump, Christie is out there. Though he's from New Jersey, he plays the part of a New Yorker with an outer borough accent. Christie is the only challenger to blast at Trump with a left hook, although Asa Hutchinson deserves credit for saying in his gentle Southern style that Trump is not fit to be president.

One of Trump's main appeals to followers is that he seems to say what he thinks, even the outrageous stuff. Much of what comes out of his mouth is ignorant sewage, but to many it sounds like honesty because of the tough-guy persona. In 2016, Trump famously went for the jugulars of other Republicans running for the nomination. Christie knows where his opponents' neck veins are.

Christie is also colorful and good on TV. That means TV is going to give him more airtime. It was Trump's television persona, after all, that made him a national figure able to win the 2016 nomination in a race against top-drawer Republican figures.

The other Republican candidates are mostly scaredy-cats, trying to replace Trump without saying "mean" things about him. As for policy positions, it's hard to see how DeSantis is going to wow Iowa with his abortion ban. Even Kansas wouldn't go there.

It's interesting that conservative Peggy Noonan recently wrote in her Wall Street Journal column, "Chris Christie could easily defeat Joe Biden."

I'd like to think that it would not be easy for anyone to beat Biden, given his pile of successes and a strong economy. But Christie could possibly do it. DeSantis could not.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

New York City

Our Cities -- And Our Country -- Need 'Conservative Liberals'

The more people you pack in limited space, the more those people have to follow the rules. Law, order and good manners are essential to the healthy functioning of our towns and cities.

Democrat-run cities often have an unfair reputation as hotbeds of left-wing activists intent on letting miscreants run wild. That's because lefty activists have bigger megaphones through which they often shout ludicrous proposals, like cutting police forces in the middle of a crime wave.

In reality, these cities usually have two political factions — progressive Democrats and moderate Democrats. As the disruptions caused by COVID shutdowns unleashed disorder, electorates in these cities started moving toward the moderates. That's happening from San Francisco to Chicago to New York.

Their voters are jettisoning many of their fringe politicians. San Franciscans famously recalled their uber-progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin. Who can forget former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan who created the outrageous no-go zones for police during the 2020 protests?

Durkan was replaced by Bruce Harrell, whom Fox News called a "pro-police candidate." And New York's mayor is former police captain Eric Adams, a law-and-order guy along the lines of Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani in his sane days.

In Portland, Oregon, left-wing excess let homeless encampments spread and trash pile up. The city is suffering economically and psychologically from the departure of the REI sporting goods store. REI cited thefts and break-ins in its decision to leave. Moderates are fighting back.

Before going on, let's recognize that though most big cities are Democrat-run, those with Republicans in charge have problems as bad or worse. For all the handwringing over the crime surge in San Francisco, violent crime is worse in Miami, whose mayor, Francis Suarez, is a Republican candidate for president.

Nor are these cities as monolithically Democratic as many think. Giuliani and Bloomberg were elected mayor as Republicans. And San Francisco has the highest percentage of independent voters of any county in California.

In New York City's outer boroughs, local officeholders are being challenged by candidates to their right who happen to be other Democrats. Public safety is a major issue.

One of the most interesting races involves Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. Two years ago, Katz barely won the Democratic primary against lefty Tiffany Caban, who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now Katz is being primaried by a Democrat who is accusing her (unfairly) of being soft on crime.

Ocasio-Cortez has not been endorsing candidates for city council of late, and, as it's becoming clear, they don't want her endorsement. As Jeff Leb, who runs super PACs that champion moderates, put it, "A lot of the luster of AOC's endorsement has really gone out the window. The more she endorses candidates, and loses, it devalues her."

The pandemic hurt cities in several ways, but those downward trends have begun to reverse. Tourist dollars disappeared for a while, but the visitors are returning even to troubled San Francisco. In New York, they're back big time.

Downtown office towers may not soon enjoy their previous high occupancy rates, but more employers are calling their workers back to the office. Transforming some of these office spaces into residences could lower some high rents as well as repopulate business districts.

In the big cities, rare is the successful politician who rails against gay marriage. And anyone who portrayed drag queens as a threat to America would get laughed off the podium. There's also no bashing of immigrants, who, in fact, make up a large part of the electorate.

Call them conservative liberals, if you want. They are really moderates. The cities need their pragmatism to keep the gears turning. Actually, the country does as well.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Beyond Loony: The Far Right's Moral Panic Is Just Embarrassing

Beyond Loony: The Far Right's Moral Panic Is Just Embarrassing

Tennessee passed a law that bans drag performances anywhere minors might attend. Happily, a federal judge stopped it. Very happily, the judge is a conservative, reminding all that some conservatives value principle over politics.

The assumption underlying the law is that a performance in which a man wears a dress — or a woman pastes on a mustache — is by definition obscene. Therefore, it must be outlawed.

In his 70-page ruling, Judge Thomas Parker called the law "unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad." He writes, "If Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution."

Not an original thought but one that needs repeating these days.

The Trump appointee was not defending obscenity, but trying to stop the right wing from defining it downwards. Parker wrote that "no majority of the (U.S.) Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic or scientific speech."

As an example, Parker raised the specter of a female performer who wore an Elvis Presley costume and imitated the King. Under the recently passed law, she could be considered a "male impersonator." (Imagine how the jails would fill on Halloween.)

Over the course of my sheltered life, I have seen a few drag shows. They came off as funny and not remotely obscene. I don't doubt that they could be, but so could the routines performed by high school cheerleaders or contestants on Dancing With the Stars.

Meanwhile, anyone who doesn't want to see crossdressing at the Memphis Pride Festival would be well advised to not attend the Memphis Pride Festival. That's how grown-ups handle it.

Over in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to replace grown-ups with government and portraying drag performances as a dagger at the heart of American greatness. He sent out the apparatus of state government to revoke the Hyatt Regency Miami's alcohol license over a holiday show that featured stars from RuPaul's Drag Race. Set aside a private company's right to run its business as it sees fit, the hotel required that anyone under the age of 18 had to be accompanied by an adult. So where was the problem? Parental control works both ways, you know.

One related thought: If the politicians really want to shield youth from obscenity, they should take away their cellphones.

Elsewhere in DeSantis' Florida, a schoolteacher was fired for showing sixth-graders a picture of Michelangelo's statue of David. As the chair of the school board tried to explain, the issue was not with the marble masterpiece but the "egregious" failure to warn parents that their children would see the "potentially controversial" work of art.

"Teachers are the experts?" the chairman asked bitterly, "Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me?" Well, teachers aren't perfect, but their judgement on educational matters might be superior to that of a mom repeating right-wing talking points in a grammatically challenged email.

What is controversial about David? He's naked — and, if truth be told, he's also well-endowed. At the same time, a giant copy of the statue stands outside a palazzo in Florence for anyone to see. Seven-year-olds live in Florence.

Heaven knows the left fringe has its share of ludicrous dictates. The difference between the far left and the far right, though, is that the former tend to lose national or statewide elections, whereas the right-wing crazies more often prevail.

Passing a law that would penalize a girl who sings at a bar dressed as Captain Hook? Let's see how they can cook up new ways to waste everyone's time. It's impossible to embarrass these guys.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Wind Energy Production

Why Are Texas Republicans Taxing Their State's Abundant Clean Energy?

Texas is currently America's leader in wind and solar power. It provides 28 percent of America's wind energy. If it were a country, it would be the fifth biggest source. Surprisingly, it's about to eclipse California in production of solar power.

And so why aren't Texas Republicans bragging about all that? Why, on the contrary, are they attacking clean energy with regulatory and tax burdens? Perhaps it's their co-dependance with oil and gas interests.

On the psychosis level, renewables serve as a right-wing culture-war toy. After all, they are the pride and joy of President Joe Biden and concerned environmentalists everywhere. Same goes for the science behind planet warming.

Renewables have become "a four-letter word," according to a big Texas landowner trying to stop a real rancher from putting a wind farm near his rich-man ranch. (His land is his land, and so is his neighbor's.)

This leads to a plausible guess: Some of the older Texas money sees green energy's amassing of economic power — with its growing empire of wind turbines and solar farms — lording over parts of Texas they're supposed to be lording over.

Well, we will need fossil fuels for the near future, but they are headed into the sunset. We don't power our lamps anymore with whale oil.

If there weren't so many Texans gaining economic benefit from America's green energy policies, one might say, "Boys and girls, go out and play your game."

But they're going after a source of big money and bigger money to come. In olden times, Gov. Rick Perry likened the state's wind projects to Spindletop, the spectacular 1901 gusher that turned Texas into an oil giant.

Last year, over a third of the country's clean-power projects were in Texas. One reason, ironically, is that Texas is a low-regulation state that lets people easily build things. Plus, it has loads of open land swept by mighty winds.

But one of the bills before the legislature would require renewable energy projects to get permits from the state and an environmental impact statement from the Parks and Wildlife Department. Any property owners "within 25 miles" could call for a hearing. It goes on.

The Earth Liberation Front would look on that regulatory aggression with envy.

You would think that the self-interests in green energy would stir some brain cells in the Texas Capitol. But Gov. Greg Abbott blamed the 2021 electricity blackouts that left millions of Texans without heat in frigid temperatures on ... wind turbines. They did freeze, as did gas-powered plants, coal-fired plants and a nuclear plant.

Industrial and consumer users of energy are complaining that the proposed disincentives for green energy will drive up their electricity costs. One of the biggest developers of renewables in Texas, Enel, now says it might reconsider its expansion plans if confronted with new bills targeting their projects with higher costs.

(Imagine a governor in Florida threatening his largest taxpayer and employer over some minor disagreement and then the company saying it would halt a big planned development. These are strange times we live in.)

Two years ago, Elon Musk moved his electric vehicle carmaker, Tesla, to Texas. His plan was to "end the Oil Age." And when Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords, Musk quit Trump's advisory council.

Sure, Musk has gone mental over woke activism — whose clout he greatly overestimates — but you wonder what he thinks about the bold efforts in Texas to punish the very industry he relies on. America now has 55 plants making EVs.

As for the Texas political leaders or anyone else who wants to stymie green energy: What's wrong with these people?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

Ron DeSantis

Could Ron DeSantis Even Win Florida In 2024? Maybe Not

Ron DeSantis apparently wants to be president. His pitch rests on the "Florida blueprint," the stuff he's done as the state's governor. But the assumption that the American majority wants much of the DeSantis program is shaky. It's not even clear that Floridians do.

A Pew poll has 56 percent of Floridians supporting legal abortion in all or most cases. And that was taken before DeSantis actually made abortion illegal. Polls also show most Floridians opposed to permitless, concealed carry of weapons. Thanks to DeSantis, angry shoppers mumbling to themselves at Publix can hide weapons of war in their backpacks.

One doubts that many residents of Florida lose sleep over drag queens. (I don't think about drag queens for months at a time.) But strictly regulating them is a DeSantis obsession that he includes in his blueprint.

Of greater concern are his unhinged attacks on business, and of all businesses, his state's biggest private employer and taxpayer, The Walt Disney Co. As for his jihad against Disney, I simply can't explain it.

Then there's his ban on vaccine mandates. He even mocks Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed program for developing a COVID vaccine, one of the former president's few glories. With the virus largely corralled, there are few mandates anymore. But in the jaws of the pandemic, DeSantis forbade cruise companies operating in his state from requiring proof of COVID shots. Can you imagine the strain on businesses trying to lure older customers to a crowded ship during a potentially deadly pandemic?

DeSantis has apparently never held a serious job in the private sector.

Now onto Florida politics. Florida has not become a solidly red state as pundits confidently declare. Barack Obama won the state twice, and a Democrat just got elected mayor of Jacksonville, the state's largest city. Joe Biden thinks Florida is up for grabs in 2024, and his political antennae are pretty sensitive.

As for DeSantis' commanding victory in 2022, he was running against a ghost candidate and a Democratic Party that couldn't find a pulse. In 2018, he defeated Andrew Gillum, an ethically challenged Democrat who had called for abolishing ICE, the immigration enforcement agency. Even then, DeSantis won by less than a point.

Densely populated South Florida is not the American South. It teems with migrants from the North who may like Florida's lower taxes and its weather in February. And they may dislike left fringe ideas on gender pronouns and such.

I know lots of these people, and one thing they want is access to abortion. And their reasons go beyond wanting a way to end their 16-year-old daughter's unwanted pregnancy. They can afford to do so, even if that means a trip back to New Jersey.

But they do understand that abortion bans force mostly poor women into having children they can't afford. Unwanted children living in poverty are more likely to fall into lives of crime and other dysfunction. These voters know that even in a state with a meager social safety net, the bills come to them.

Meanwhile, Florida is one of only 11 states that hasn't expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, thanks in part to DeSantis. That's even though the state would never have to bear more than 40 percent of the cost.

And who pays for the unnecessary emergency room care — for the sore throats or a couple of stitches? Guess who. By the way, Florida has the most expensive emergency room care in the country, averaging $3,102 a visit.

If Florida Democrats find an acceptable candidate, they might just recapture the governorship. America probably doesn't want to become DeSantis' Florida. Florida may not like that either.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

If Republicans Really Want Border Security, Here's A Plan That Works

If Republicans Really Want Border Security, Here's A Plan That Works

Donald Trump's solution was to build a wall and insult migrants. Left off his playbook for curbing illegal immigration was any punishment for employers who hired undocumented workers. That would inconvenience farmers, he said.

As it turned out, the wall wasn't built, and those entering illegally didn't care about the insults. They wanted work, and they got it.

Fixing immigration requires two things. One, we must remove the job magnet by punishing employers who hire the undocumented. Two, we must determine how many immigrants we need and with what skills. That will mean accepting more people legally.

Neither solution relies entirely on police, horses and miles of wall. And that brings us to the unexpected quiet at the border following the end of the Title 42.

Under Trump's Title 42, purportedly designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, migrants were quickly turned back at the border. What sounded stern was nothing but a revolving door. Title 42 came with no consequences for illegal entry. Anyone turned away could try again and again and probably succeed.

The Biden administration's new policy seems actually tougher. Someone caught coming over the border illegally would face a five-year ban on reentry. And those breaking the law could also face deportation and possible criminal prosecution.

More than anything else, that five-year ban on even trying to get here illegally is probably bringing more peace to the border.

But here is a dilemma that may persist: The great majority of migrants come here for economic reasons, not fear of persecution at home. There are pathways for economic migrants to apply for legal status, but getting a green light might take years or fail. A way to jump the line has been to show up at the border and ask for asylum.

Up to now, the initial bar for establishing a credible fear of returning to one's country of origin has been fairly low. Those who pass it are given a court date for a final decision where a grant of asylum is much harder to obtain. But because of the court backlog, such migrants would have years of working in this country before their case is heard.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas insists that it's now harder to make that first credible claim at the border. We will see what happens. In the meantime, Biden is opening new pathways for legal immigration in regional processing centers throughout Central and South America.

Note that illegal immigration to the United States hit its lowest level in 40 years under Barack Obama, not Trump. Obama was not afraid to deport people or confront personal attacks by the open-border forces on his left. Biden will have to do likewise.

And Republicans will have to stand up to the cheap-labor right. Trump's apparent rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis, has yet to show that courage.

DeSantis recently signed a law that required big Florida companies or those doing state business to check the legal status of all hires with an electronic database. Left out were most restaurants, tourist operations, maintenance services — the very businesses that employ large numbers of undocumented workers.

Florida Republicans recently passed a bill that hands DeSantis $12 million to fly undocumented migrants to such liberal places as Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Wouldn't that money be more usefully spent enforcing labor practices in the kitchens and on landscaping trucks in Miami? (That assumes they really care.)

According to the Migration Policy Institute, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties are home to nearly as many "unauthorized" people as the entire state of Massachusetts, which has well over two times the population.

America needs both parties to secure the border. Democrats have started, and Republicans are invited.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.