Florida The Current Situation The Good Fight

The fake brochure that DeSantis used to con the migrants into boarding the plane to Martha’s Vineyard, and other facts about this cruel political stunt

DeSantis may have been inspired by a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show

A still from Tucker Carlson’s xenophobic “Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard” segment.
He should just ’fess up and call the show The Tucker Carlson White Power Hour.

A couple of days ago, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz astutely tweeted that “when GOPers do depraved stuff it’s worth looking for the Fox host who suggested it.”

To no one’s surprise, the Fox host who suggested it was the host of Fox’s own White Power Hour: Swanson frozen foods heir Tucker Carlson, host of an old-timey whitefear-and-ragestoking evening show.

The migrants were given fake brochures about Massachusetts’ refugee benefits

DeSantis insists that the migrants boarded the plane voluntarily, but the migrants say that they were misled by a “blonde mystery woman” named “Perla,” who offered them McDonald’s gift cards, a free flight to a “sanctuary,” and other assistance. 

The newsletter Popular Information obtained a phony brochure written in English and Spanish that was provided to the migrants, pictured below:

Designed (poorly) to look like an official brochure, it says that migrants who arrive in Massachusetts would be eligible for a lot of benefits, including:

  • 8 months’ cash assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation to job interviews
  • Job training
  • Job placement
  • Registering children for school
  • Assistance applying for Social Security cards

Popular Information got the brochure from Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based law firm representing 30 of the migrants.

DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske told Florida’s Voice that the brochure was legitimate and that the information it contained was accurate. However, what she omitted is even more important:

  • The brochure was not produced by the State of Massachusetts, nor is it official. It’s a “homemade” document pieced together from cut-and-pasted text from various Massachusetts government sites.
  • While the benefits listed exist, the migrants to whom they were given are not eligible for them. While refugees are eligible for such benefits, these migrants are seeking asylum, and refugee benefits don’t apply.
  • The devil is in the details. In trying to provide DeSantis with a loophole, Fenske insisted “the brochure does not say migrants immediately have access to the benefits.” But it worked — the idea was to convince them that those benefits were forthcoming, and all they had to do was board the plane.

Boston-based immigration attorney Matt Cameron summed up the situation quite well:

“DeSantis clearly does not know the legal difference between refugees (who are eligible for resettlement benefits) and asylum applicants (who are not).

It’s legally no different than promising someone who you know to have had no military service that they will be eligible for veterans benefits.”

Cameron also said the brochures “are either evidence of criminal intent or criminal stupidity.” My feeling:

Loki: “Bit of both.”

FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) paid a secretive Oregon-based company to fly the migrants, and now that company’s website is offline

Here’s a record of a payment from FDOT to one “Vertol Systems Company Inc.” dated September 16, 2022 for the sum of $950,000. It’s courtesy of the @TampaniaBlog Twitter account:

They tweet:

In fact, if you go to the Transparency Florida site, you’ll see that FDOT has already paid Vertol Systems a total of $1.565 million dollars:

Vendor search result from Transparency Florida showing $1.565 million in payments to Vertol Systems

Typically, you’d be able to go to Vertol Systems’ site and see that they’re based in Oregon’s Hillsboro rather than Florida’s Hillsborough County and that they’re in the business of “specialized aircraft solutions specific to unique requirements.”

But you can’t. The site has been taken down…

…and quite interestingly (yet unsurprisingly), their LinkedIn company profile is unclaimed:

A Texas sheriff is launching an investigation into these flights, since they were a join operation with Texas

From the Daily Beast:

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar confirmed the investigation during a press conference Monday “to clear the air for everyone,” alleging that 48 migrants were “lured under false pretenses” to stay at a hotel for a couple of days, shuttled to a plane, flown to Florida, and eventually transported to Martha’s Vineyard, where they had been promised work and solutions to other problems.

From Sheriff Salazar’s Twitter account:

DeSantis’ plan is backfiring

And garbage human that she is, Christina Pushaw, Rapid Response Director for DeSantis’ reelection campaign tweeted this:

Here’s a screencap, just in case she deletes it, as she is wont to do:

The Good Fight

“Being a woman is kind of like being a cyclist in a city where the cars represent men.”

Screenshot of tweets: "Being a woman is kind of like being a cyclist in a city where all the cars represent men."
Tap to view at full size.

A very apt observation. Here’s the text:

  1. Being a woman is kind of like being a cyclist in a city where all the cars represent men.
  2. You’re supposed to be able to share the road equally with cars, but that’s not how it works.
  3. The roads are built for cars and you spend a great deal of physical and mental energy being defensive and trying not to get hurt.
  4. Some of the cars WANT you to get hurt. They think you don’t have any place on the road at all.
  5. And if you do get hurt by a car, everyone makes excuses that it’s your fault.

Thanks to Alison Armstrong for the find!

America The Current Situation The Good Fight

Just a reminder…

Black man wearing T-shirt that says “Stop pretending your racism is patriotism.”

For context:

America The Current Situation The Good Fight

Timely: Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn”

Zen Pencils — “Cartoon quotes from inspirational folks” — take some of the best quotes and statements out there and present them in comic form. They just updated their rendition of Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” statement to fit the current times. It’s worth reading:

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 1 of 8

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 2 of 8

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes.”

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 3 of 8

“Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small.”

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 4 of 8

“It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you.”

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 5 of 8

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 6 of 8

“But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death…” Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 7 of 8

“…narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does.”

Sophie Scholl’s “I choose my own way to burn” — part 8 of 8

“I choose my own way to burn.”

Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl was a resistance fighter against the Nazis in Germany in the early 1940s. She was a key member of Weiße Rose — German for “White Rose” — a resistance group run by students at the University of Munich.  Weiße Rose distributed leaflets, painted graffiti, and took part in actions to call out the Nazis and inspired resistance against fascism.

The Nazis executed her at the age of 21 for treason on February 22, 1943.

The Current Situation The Good Fight

“Just not a political person”

“Just Not a Political Person” poster
Tap to view at full size.

My response to “I’m just not a political person” is usually either “Bullshit” or “So, you’re just useless then.”

To borrow a paragraph from Sami Fishbein Sage’s essay, Unpacking “I’m Not A Political Person”:

It’s A Privilege To “Not Be Political”

When you say you’re not political, you’re telling on yourself. What you’re saying is that you’ve only been on the receiving end of all these invisible perks the government provides, rather than being on the side that suffers from the lack of them or that is even actively harmed by them. For example, it’s only because of active participation in politics that same-sex marriages are legal. That happened less than five years ago, and it would no doubt be the dream of a conservative Supreme Court to overturn it. Try telling your gay friend, whose marriage status could be in real jeopardy based on election outcomes, that you’re not political and see how they react.

By the bye, you can order this print on Etsy.

The Current Situation The Good Fight

Put these sunflower seeds in your pocket, so they’ll bloom when you die on Ukrainian soil.

My long-time friend Marichka Melnyk (I met her in 1989!) made me aware of this exchange between a Ukrainian woman and a Russian soldier, and her offering to him was so powerful and right-on that I had to share it here.

The video is above, and a translated transcript appears below:

Woman: Who are you?

Soldier: We have exercises here. Please go this way.

Woman: What kind of exercises? Are you Russian?

Soldier: Yes.

Woman: So what the fuck are you doing here?

Soldier: Right now, our discussion will lead to nothing.

Woman: You’re occupants, you’re fascists! What the fuck are you doing on our land with all these guns? Take these seeds [sunflower seeds — the sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower] so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.

Soldier: Right now, our discussion will lead nowhere [clearly, they’ve been given talking points]. Let’s not escalate this situation. Please.

Woman: What situation? Guys, guys. Put sunflower seeds in your pockets, please. You will lie down here with the seeds. You come to my land. Do you understand? You are occupiers. You are enemies.

Soldier: Yes.

Woman: And from this moment, you are cursed. I’m telling you.

Soldier: Now listen to me —

Woman: I’ve heard you.

Soldier: Let’s not escalate the situation. Please go this way.

Woman: How can it be further escalated? You fucking came here uninvited. Pieces of shit.

The Current Situation The Good Fight

Never forget what MLK did for “Star Trek”

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura on the original “Star Trek” TV series.
Public domain photo by NASA.

After the original Star Trek TV series’ first season in 1966, Nichelle Nichols — a.k.a. Lt. Uhura, Communications Officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise — considered leaving the show. She considered the stage to be her true home, and she’d received an offer to act on Broadway. She’d even told the series creator Gene Roddenberry that she planned to leave.

She would’ve left, had it not been for a fan who’d showed up at a fundraiser in Beverly Hills to meet her. At the fundraiser, Nichols was informed that there was a fan who really wanted to meet her. Here’s the story, in her words:

“I’m looking for a young man who’s a ‘Star Trek’ fan. So I turn and instead of a fan there’s this face the world knows, with this beautiful smile on it.”

That fan is pictured below:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taking a break at the podium.
Public domain photo by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. Source: Library of Congress.

“This man says, ‘Yes, Ms. Nichols, I am that fan. I am your best, greatest fan, and my family are your greatest fans. As a matter of fact, this is the only show that my wife Corretta and I will allow our little children to watch, to stay up late to watch because it’s past their bedtime.’”

She told King that she wished she could be marching alongside him, but he said she was already doing that, in her own way:

“He said, ‘No, no, no. No, you don’t understand. We don’t need you to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for.’”

She told him that she was leaving Star Trek, and he pleaded with her to stay on the show:

“He said, ‘Don’t you understand what this man [Roddenberry] has achieved? For the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing and dance, yes, but who can go into space, who can be lawyers and teachers, who can be professors — who are in this day, yet you don’t see it on television until now.’”

She changed her mind and stayed on the show for the rest of the series, and went on to help recruit women and minorities for NASA.

Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan

She also inspired another Star Trek actor: Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Goldberg has often told the story about how the Uhura character inspired her when she first saw her on TV — she ran shouting throughout the house, shouting:

“Come here, mom, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”

Thanks to MLK, we have Lt. Commander Nyota Uhura (she got a first name in the novels, which finally made it to the screen in the 2009 Star Trek film, where Zoe Saldana played Uhura), and the continuation of Star Trek’s breaking new ground in representation, which is happening even today.

I’ll close with this interview with Nichelle Nichols, where she tells the story of how Dr. King convinced her to stay on the show: