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Hartmann: Bad actor Josh Hawley auditions as Disney villain | hartman | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events

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Click to enlarge Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gestures to a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory on January 6, 2021. Some protesters then raped and stormed the Capitol.  - FRANCIS CHUNG / COURTESY OF E&E NEWS AND POLITICO

Francis Chung / Courtesy of E&E News and Politico

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) gestures to a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory on January 6, 2021. Some protesters then raped and stormed the Capitol.

There’s no depth to which insurgent Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, won’t sink in his ambitious pursuit of national office.

It’s no surprise, then, that Hawley openly pandered to the Republican Party’s butterfly base by proposing that the federal government declare war on an American corporation: Disney.

In his latest bill, titled the Copyright Clause Restoration Act, Hawley proposes to take Disney’s copyrights away from characters such as Mickey Mouse for the specifically stated reason that, according to Hawleys, Disney is woke.

The three pages invoice would limit copyright for works created at age 56. Currently, Disney holds copyright for 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation. The shortened window would apply retroactively and, due to other restrictions, the bill only applies to Disney. If passed, it would immediately strip the company of its most iconic characters.

There are other terms to describe what Hawley would ask the feds to do by retroactively revoking some of Disney’s copyrights. The first word that comes to mind is confiscate. Or, perhaps, impound. Or the even more familiar flight.

Normally, the debate over the imposition of limitations on copyright protections would represent a fair subject on which reasonable people might disagree. But there is nothing normal in these times, nor anything fair or reasonable about the bill.

Professor Paul Goldstein, intellectual property expert at Stanford Law School, was succinct:

It is a manifestly unconstitutional taking of property without compensation.

Haley Press release announcing that his bill cast doubt on any question of his intention:

The era of Republican subsidies to big business is over. Thanks to special congressional copyright protections, woke companies like Disney have earned billions while bowing increasingly to woke activists. It’s time to strip Disney’s special privileges and usher in a new era of creativity and innovation.

Now that’s special. Hawley was first inflicted in Missouri at age 2 when his wealthy banker father moved the family to Lexington, Missouri so he could join Boatmens Bancshares. If memory serves, Boatmens was pretty cool with Republicans and big business.

But far be it from me to suggest that there is hypocrisy in Hawley’s vicious attacks on the same powerful forces that made possible his posh private upbringing in prep schools or his elite college education in the Stanford and Yale universities. After all, as Hawley’s proud support of Trump’s historic tax cuts for the wealthy has proven, all of his populist chatter is an outright lie.

I’ll give Hawley as much credit: he does it all with a straight face. And so far, his haughty, haughty delivery doesn’t seem to bother the down-to-earth grassroots folks the Hawleys only associate with in real life for photo ops.

True to the MAGA playbook, Hawley relinquished any pretense of advancing a broader governmental interest of the people. Kind of like how Republican hardliners in Missouri demanded a 7-1 congressional redistricting card in their partisan favor without a lip service to what is fair or just to voters in the state. (Just as Hawley’s Bill is bound to do, the card failed.)

It’s about punishing Disney for its wakeful defense of the rights of Florida’s LGBTQ community following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Dont Say Gay laws and other homophobic attacks. Republicans responded to this affront with shameless and unapologetic political revenge.

Florida-headquartered Disney has exercised its once-respected free speech rights to take a stand against DeSantis. The governor responded by attempting to revoke a special tax district set up by a bipartisan agreement more than half a century ago in a unified effort to persuade Disney to build its massive Disney World resort outside the small town of ‘Orlando. (Turns out DeSantis doesn’t have the authority to dissolve the special tax district until the state first pays off $1 billion in bond debt.)

To be fair, Hawley’s vengeful attack on Disney was almost entirely motivated by his need not to be demagogued on the subject by DeSantis, his potential rival for the GOP/QAnon presidential nomination in 2024.

It’s ironic, though not as much as Hawley is trying to punish free speech. They are, after all, the same moron who advanced the bizarre idea that Simon & Schuster violated my free speech rights by refusing to publish their book after they attempted to overthrow American democracy in early 2021.

Irony doesn’t matter to Hawley. Headlines and news clips do. They are vital to his electoral ambitions as they can be multiplied by a million by Hawley on the same social media platforms he claims to despise. It is important to understand that the political essence of Hawley is just an eternal confluence of lies. Hawley is not just the classic politician who will say anything to get elected; he is the one who will contradict anything to get himself elected.

Following this formula, Hawley need not bother with concerns about honesty in any form. Think about it: The guy is an insufferably smug, pompous, Ivy League-educated critic of elitism. Someone who fits this description is too cynical to worry about what other people think.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the ultra-conservative editorial board of the New York Post had to say about his latest blunder:

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) is trying to ensnare Mickey Mouse in mindless, destructive appeasement of those outraged by Disney’s own mindless political appeasement.

haley this week proposed a bill to remove Disney’s copyright protection on Mickey Mouse and other iconic characters

You can certainly argue that copyrights now last too long (creators of all kinds would vehemently disagree), but that’s blatant partisan backlash, exactly what Americans don’t need from Congress.

Remember, these words come from the political right. On the other side of the fence, the Washington Post was ruthlessly dismissive:

DeSantis crushes Josh Hawley in culture war primary, an opinion headline proclaimed.

When DeSantis signed this bill against Disney, he didn’t just threaten to use state power against an enemy, he woke up a society, he did. Tackling his own state’s most iconic business, which employs tens of thousands of Floridians and brings billions of tourist dollars to the state each year, only demonstrated his zeal.

And because the action was real, it generated huge media coverage and more feedback from the left than Hawley’s rinky-dink proposal will ever get. This bolstered the credibility of DeSantiss Own the Libs, helping to reinforce the idea that DeSantis is right-wing culture’s greatest warrior.

Now it hurts. That kind of East Coast talk makes a Midwesterner want to defend Hawley. After all, this war with Disney is at the heart of hating LGBTQ people for fun and political gain. Hawley doesn’t give way to anyone on this, and by God he has his GLADD.org page documenting his extremism to prove it.

And as far as DeSantis crushing it in the culture war, well, that may be true for now. But for the long haul, it’s a battle to see who lies and hates best. So never rely on Josh Hawley.

Updated May 16, 2022, 3:08 p.m. This post has been updated to change glaad.com to glaad.org. We sincerely regret the error.

Ray Hartmann founded the Riverside Time in 1977. Contact him at [email protected] or catch it on Donnybrook at 7 p.m. Thursdays on Nine Network and Saint-Louis in the know with Ray Hartmann from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday on KTRS (550 AM).

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