Thursday, December 18, 2014
Did they re-elect Tea Party Rick Scott, the one who cuts funds for disabled children and education? Or did they re-elect Happy Face Scott, who put those funds back?
As I've said before, while I think we need to watch out for Tea Party Rick Scott returning, I think that we'll see Happy Face Scott, thanks to the national GOP, which needs Florida badly for the 2016 Presidential election. The fact that Jeb Bush is taking steps to run for President in 2016 makes this even more likely: How embarrassing would it be for him to run, and not win Florida?
The good news (maybe) is that we now have a barometer to help us figure out which Rick Scott was re-elected. That barometer is Julie Jones, Scott's newly selected head of the Florida Department of Corrections.
The fact that Scott selected her so soon after the resignation of Michael Crews is itself nothing sort of parting-the-Red-Sea miraculous. Remember, Scott was the one who took nine stinking months to select a new lieutenant governor, and left hundreds of lower appointment positions unfilled. Scott is never in a hurry to replace people, and that he brought Jones in so quickly is a point in favor of the return of Happy Face Scott.
Another point in favor is Jones herself, who has a reputation as a tough reformer. She's so hardcore on reform that even Mike Fasano likes her. (Fasano is one of the few Republicans in this state we can count on to be reasonable. He campaigned for Charlie Crist against Scott, and is one of those Republicans in the populist mold, who hearkens back to the time when Theodore Roosevelt represented the ideals of the GOP, with such progressive ideas [horrors!] as conserving the environment and standing up to big business interests.) Jones wants to do everything from which Scott has previously recoiled: Not just clean up corruption, but also increase community outreach and request more funding for corrections. Tea Party Scott would be especially reluctant to endorse the latter.
Watch corrections carefully. If Jones is allowed to clean up the messes Scott's neglect has caused (via his catspaw, Crews), then it's a sure sign we'll be seeing Happy Face Scott in charge through at least the 2016 Presidential election. On the other hand, if she ends up suppressed, or canned like Edwin Buss, Scott's first corrections secretary (who was also thought of as a reformer), we'll be seeing a return of Tea Party Scott.
It's a good barometer. Keep your weather eye open.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
We already lost the governor's race to one of the worst people in political history--twice. Unlikable, criminal, and a colossal screw-up, Rick Scott should not of won. Yet he did, in an election that has had our lowest turnout in history. As I expected, our perpetually stupid state party took the wrong message from their defeat: AGAIN. Next time, they say, they'll run a conservative:
Former State Dem Chair Rod Smith:
"We simply cannot write off a quarter of a million votes, and have a chance," said Smith.
Translation: For all the talk by Democratic strategists about the importance of driving up turnout among Democrats in South Florida — especially minorities — Democrats will never be successful if they don't also improve their standing among voters in North Florida, especially white voters.
What makes more sense: getting Democrats to the polls or convincing teabaggers to vote for you? Dumbass.
Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn, interviewed on Bay News 9 who said he "may already be the frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018":
...we asked him why he did zero to help Crist this year and what Democrats need to do next time.
"Democrats have to have a candidate that can compete in areas other than the traditional Democratic areas. If you cannot compete, and if you don't have a compelling message, and if you aren't looked upon as someone who is pro-business, who is centrist, who is all about getting things done, north of Orlando you don't stand a chance," Buckhorn said.
You stupid. stupid. stupid people.
You think Alex Sink and Charlie Crist were raging liberals???
Alex Sink was the freaking president of Bank of America! Bank-friendly, wishy-washy, and a horrible campaigner: she embodied everything the FL Democratic Party looks for in a candidate. She campaigned more in the North than the Democratic base in the South. She was uncomfortable running in the minority areas of Miami. Enthusiasm was non-existent in an already tough midterm election, save for the drive to stop the worst fraudster in history from taking office. She failed. After her loss, she learned nothing and tried to get a Congressional seat earlier this year. Somehow, her Democratic strategists thought that attacking the president and running from ACA would be a winnable strategy. Not so much.
After her loss, my party gave up and said "F It, run a republican". So we ran Charlie Crist. Crist as is "centrist" as a politician can possibly be. He's run as a conservative, an independent, and a Democrat. No liberal activist has ever accused him of being a liberal.
So what's next, geniuses? Should we run Ted Cruz?
We did not lose over money. Scott ran ads 2-1. You will never match GOP funding-but you don't have to. What you DO have to do is run on a strong core message and stick to it. Most of all, you need a candidate who will RALLY THE BASE. That means running a GD progressive!
Try to run someone who will actually EXCITE our voters to the polls. Alan Grayson is such a person. He has the name recognition and the national presence to bring in necessary funds, and he will have an army of volunteers THROUGHOUT our state.
There are more Democrats than republicans, but they don't turn out for the Jim Davises, or Alex Sinks or the Charlie Crists. I PROMISE you the problem isn't having a candidate who will run from our platform and will be indistinguishable from the GOP candidate. In our leadership's small minds, this will make him "more acceptable" to white republicans, but they will vote for the candidate with the R beside his name anyway. WHO THE HELL CARES if they vote against our candidate hating him more or less?
I can go on about the failures of our leadership, but that's counterproductive. I would rather just have Alan Grayson run in the primary in 2018. I don't even care if the FL Dem leadership likes him or not--so far everyone they have opposed has been successful anyway.
Look, we tried it their way every single time. What's the definition of insanity again? Let's say this once, JUST ONCE, we try to run a Democrat. A Democrat that embodies our principles and fights for what he or she believes in.
And just see what happens.
The squakers at Fox News have managed to make a partisan issue even out of a holiday greeting. Corporations and strangers usually go with the generic "Happy Holidays" not because they secretly hate Christians and want to wage a "War on Christmas", but more likely to be considerate of all faiths, including those who don't celebrate the birth of our Christian savior.
I do say "Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends, and "Happy Hanukkah" to my Jewish friends. But I usually wish people a happy and safe holiday season who I don't know. It's the same reason I don't go up to strangers in April and say "Happy Passover!"
If anything, the strangers get more out of this than my Christian friends... I am wishing them to be festive the entire season from Christmas to New Years, instead of just one day.
I suppose to make Bill O'Reilly happy, instead of "Happy Holidays" his bosses could have the Wal-Mart greeter memorize the following instead:
Have a Merry Christmas
and/or a Contented Feast of the Immaculate Conception
or Happy Hanukkah
or Joyous Kwanzaa
or a Kickn' "Tet"
or a Blissful Bodhi Day
or a Cheerful Maunajiyaras
or Wonderful Festival of Lights
or a Blessed Ramadan
or a Good Winter Solstice
and/or a Joyful Canadian Boxing Day
and a Festive Festivus,
and a Happy New Year!
--oh, and welcome to Wal-Mart.
Or you could just do what Fox News actually does, and wish their viewers Happy Holidays. (Suck it, Bill)
Two years ago today, children were slaughtered by a nut with an assault rifle that was designed to do the most damage in the shortest amount of time. According to a Newtown EMT on that day, that objective "was achieved."
The mother was NRA-certified gun nut who thought it was just dandy to let her deranged kid play with high-powered assault rifles.
The killer showed no mercy. Some of the teachers, whose entire profession is constantly mocked by conservatives, gave their lives for kids who were crying that they just wanted Christmas. Yet the NRA and their supporters told the parents, in some cases literally, to go to hell. No limits to anyone for any killing machine no matter how lethal. Background checks were somehow an "affront" to the Constitution or some bullshit.
Since Newtown there have been 100 school shootings. This is a uniquely American problem. Other nations that allow citizens to carry guns don't have this problem. This is a direct result from a vocal minority being allowed to suppress any sensible legislation, and have politicians cower in their shadow. This despite poll after poll showing upwards of 85% of people favoring sensible gun laws, and the NRA being defeated roundly in every ballot initiative this past election (in what was the most red election in history).
I want today to be a day of remembrance, for the lives that were lost and what could have been if Americans didn't allow evil entities to use fear/hate to manipulate them or apathy to turn a blind eye.
All of the children killed to this point deserve better, plus the ones that will be killed inevitably tomorrow.
Monday, December 01, 2014
Less publicized was the departure of Herschel Vinyard of DEP, who never met a polluter he didn't like.
And now, just a day after I first wrote this...Scott's DOT secretary resigned, also under a cloud of scandal.
So if you thought Scott's second term would be cleaner than the first, it looks like you were wrong. Instead we can expect more of the same, as Scott guts state agencies to fund corporate tax breaks for corporations like Colt Manufacturing that still haven't brought jobs here after nearly 4 years. (In fact, get this....something I just discovered while writing this...now it looks like Colt is in danger of going belly-up. Now that was a great investment of your tax dollars, wasn't it?)
It would be nice to bring something good out of all of this musical chairs in Scott's cabinet, but about the only thing I can suggest is that maybe we place some odds for who's likely to hit the dirt next.
Maybe we should start a roulette wheel with all of the Scott's cabinet members on it and spin it to see who resigns next.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Our banner among the state blogs of DKos...
Thursday, November 13, 2014
When Rick Scott was simultaneously cutting taxes and budgets early in his first term, the hue and cry became so great that he turned generous on us and restored many of the worst cuts. I happen to believe that is in part because he is a man without principles. Sam Brownback, in contrast, seems to have some degree of principle in him, and despite hue and cry in his own state when the damages piled up, he stuck to his guns.
The result? You can see it reported in papers from the area. Kansas is going into a deep revenue hole, and as a result will have to severely cut government services at some point in the near future -- including vital projects related to infrastructure, and education. Like Florida, Kansas has a balanced budget requirement, so there's no way for them to get around it. Brownback has said he refuses to consider reversing past tax cuts, or cancelling future tax cuts that are part of his plan, even though his utopian vision of businesses flocking to Kansas with more jobs has yet to come to pass.
In fact, Kansas is a very, very good example of how tax breaks for businesses don't lead to jobs, even moreso here than in Florida. Wichita, Kansas is the home of the industrialist Koch brothers, who have enough cash to wipe their rear ends with $10,000 bills every day. They also have more than enough money to start new businesses in Kansas that could employ every single unemployed Kansan for years to come, even if they never turned a profit. But as our blog host has remarked more than once, there's no reason for a business to hire anyone unless they need to. They sure won't hire someone just so they can give them a job and pay for, you know, unimportant stuff like food and shelter.
One more thing about Kansas to make you feel better about Florida. Opposition to Brownback in Kansas was even greater than opposition to Scott in Florida. In fact, opposition to Brownback was downright bi-partisan. So how did Kansas voters respond to this rare display of unity? Why, they re-elected Brownback of course -- and by an even larger margin (50% to 46.1%) than Floridians re-elected Scott.
Now don't you feel a WHOLE lot better?
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Amendment 1 was a slap in the face of GOP legislators who keep destroying our land. It requires that a percentage of real estate taxes go to buying land to protect our water and environment, instead of the GOP's slush funds.
Despite the loss of Amendment 2, which would have allowed doctors to prescribe medical cannabis, (although they can still prescribe OPIUM--which makes no damn sense), it received 58% of the vote! A few years ago that would have been a victory, but the GOP pushed for an amendment a few years ago to require 60% passage. (Ironically, that was the only amendment that year not to make the 60% threshold). Even in a red anger election, Amendment 2 was only two points shy of passage! They will hopefully try again in 2016 with the blue wave. Don't worry--it's coming.
Amendment 3, which was a power grab by Rick Scott, lost handily.
Meanwhile, across the nation minimum wage laws won everywhere, including the four red states of Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Paid sick leave was granted (everywhere but in Orange County). Voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected the "personhood" amendment, which has now lost in every single state they tried. The biggest loser of the night? THE NRA! Gun control measures won everywhere, including Washington State where people are now required to undergo criminal background checks before buying guns online. (How radical.) And Oregon and DC legalized marijuana. (We just said at least for people suffering and dying). Which reminds me....
2. Florida Democrats can push much of their agenda through FL Constitutional amendments
The majority of the state wants a clean environment, teacher protection, sensible gun laws, worker's rights, and a higher minimum wage. All of these CAN be on the ballot in 2016.
Maybe, JUST MAYBE, the Florida Dems will finally figure out that they can get a lot of what they want through these amendments since most Floridians support them. We have a real shot at this, compared to zero chance of trying to reason with the GOP gerrymandered nutcases in the legislature. Yes, there are some GOP PACs and interest groups that might fight, but they typically bankroll candidates and don't spend money on amendments. Case in point, in 2010 Floridians received a lot of protection from extreme gerrymandering in 2010 because of two amendments that passed. The GOP claimed they only passed because everyone was pouring money into the state races. Also, Amendment 1 passed this year because no one wanted to spend big bucks this year saying they hated the environment.
3. Rick Scott and arrogant GOP will overreach, insult, and destroy. That will build the anger in 2016 as it did in 2012.
This happens every damn year after the midterms. These awful teabag guvs do their worst work during that time period. As usual, people who stayed home in the midterms will then come out in droves to support the Dems. In 2011, that is when Scott was at his peak of horror: voter suppression, HS rail kill, the emergency cuts for the disabled kids, cuts for rape centers and Veterans, massive education cuts, the scheme to turn all of our parks into golf courses, his veto of driver's licenses for immigrants along with his hateful harassment measures, etc. etc.
He is now no longer restrained by anything because this was his last election. He has no more reason to pander to the Latino and other minority groups after his extreme makeover this year. He can be his true bigoted self. Speaking of which...
4. This will tick your GOP buddies off: Rick Scott only won by backpedaling hard this year pretending to be more liberal
After cutting education by 1.3 billion in 2011, he gave a lot of it back after suddenly realizing that wasn't a great move for an upcoming election. He suddenly reversed position on every anti-Latino measure he favored: he undid his vetoes of 2011 along with dropping any support of any AZ-type bill. He let a young girl suffering from a horrible seizures get some relief from cannabis oil. He rolled back some of the more extreme voter suppression efforts after the 2012 disaster here. Also, for the first time in 15 years, this year went by with no new gun bill.
Those of us who paid attention knew exactly what Scott was up to. But it says something that both he and Charlie both thought the key to winning was moving to the Left.
Florida will no doubt be a battleground in 2016, and the GOP will PUSH HARD for him to keep this up, or at least remain less teabag crazy. Scott, however, has absolutely no incentive to do so. He made a lot of promises that will contrast to how he will inevitably act by 2016, thus helping ensure a blue state for Hillary.
5. I will have plenty to write about
Seriously, I wondered how I would do it with a sensible governor.
6. Rick Scott legally can't be our governor after 2018
No matter what, in 2018 Rick Scott will disappear. Believe it or not, the state and national GOP will actually be relieved. Despite years they put in cultivating a political process in this state that leans heavily towards the GOP candidate, and despite the 75% turnout of angry non-minorities in midterms, they had to spend MILLIONS and MILLIONS and MILLIONS to prop up Scott because he was that bad. The GOP, along with the Kochs and special interests, would much rather have spent that money elsewhere. However, turning a dog from a 10+ deficit is no cheap task. If they put up somebody who was even remotely sensible, they could have spent a lot less.
The bad news is that Pam Bondi might be our governor after Rick Scott leaves. If the FL Dems wiseup as I mentioned above, and we start early, and maybe for ONCE not put a GOP-lite candidate as our only selection--we might pull this off next time.
7. Good night for Congressional Dems: Balance kept with one surprising pickup
Well done, Gwen. Gwen Graham ran in the conservative panhandle and STILL beat incumbent Steve Southerland. She made up for the one loss in a conservative district in South Florida. Also, Patrick Murphy, who defeated Allen West just two years ago, kicked butt again. And then there's Alan Grayson, who really should be our nominee in 2018. Speaking of which...
8. Alan Grayson showed how it's done.
He didn't back off and decide the key to winning was run scared and bash Obama. No, he touted the Obama successes--cheap gas, low unemployment, record dow, and the fact that Floridians have healthcare despite GOP obstruction.
Alan Grayson really should be our nominee in 2018. He fires up the base, says what everyone is thinking, hits hard, and uses GOP tactics against them. Also, he damn sure can't be labeled an "extremist" --since that is who is running Florida right now.
FL Dems... maybe put up somebody who isn't GOP lite? Alex and Charlie didn't cut it. Alan would eviscerate Bondi in both ads and debates. I really think he would pull it off but even if he didn't, everyone if Florida would know her shenanigans.
9. Florida activists might finally channel their anger where it belongs
Gerrymandering and dark money helped the GOP, but the neither can be blamed on the state elections. Yes, voting was made harder, but people had ample opportunity to vote.
Although the GOP has an overwhelming money and power structure advantage, one of the biggest reasons we failed was our apathetic and pathetic state party. I go into more detail about this in my last post. Most candidates can't count on any kind of support from their own party. Myself and other activists had to put together our OWN event to raise funds for local Congressional candidates: they wouldn't even loan us freaking chairs! I called a dozen local chapters and none of them ever got back with me on coordinating something. My own local party had NO GOTV effort. People here complained they couldn't even get stupid signs for their lawn. What the hell is the point?
The fringe activists took over many of the local GOP parties in 2010, and others just set up their own tea party organizations. Dem activists who are both hungry and NOT stupid need to start taking control. Waiting for the FL Dems to clean up their act is a guaranteed strategy for losing every time.
10, The city of Tallahassee, where the corrupt legislators "work", just passed the first anti-corruption bill in the United States
Tallahassee residents showed the FL GOP what's what with this groundbreaking stuff that even the Koch machine was unable to defeat. The momentum for this great success should be carried on in a Constitutional Amendment for the entire state in 2016. I would LOVE the presidential candidate (likely Scott Walker) to explain why he opposes this. The momentum for intelligent but obvious no-brainers like this law is on our side, and we should take advantage now.
OH, and one more thing....If all else fails, maybe South Florida will finally be serious about succession. No less extreme than having Rick Scott for another four years.
Candidate after candidate told me they received little if any support from the local or state Dem party. There was hardly any GOTV. There was some phonebanking, but mostly from the Crist campaign. I could find no volunteer efforts for canvassing. There was no listening to the activists about crafting any kind of message. We should have hit the FL GOP hard on their policies against Latinos, the environment, the disabled, the Veterans, and middle class families, but there was none of that. I don't even know what their message was--I truly think they didn't have one.
I recall when a young activist took over the Seminole County Democrats in the 2000s--we knocked on doors, registered voters, and then organized a fleet to drive people on election day. She made a difference and was one of the grassroots leaders that made victory possible in 2006 and 2008. This year I didn't see any opportunities like that. The GOP and the Koch group, FL AFP, swarmed neighborhoods like mine. According to the my local party's website, the only volunteer opportunities were helping the community--a noble goal but kinda misses the boat in an election year. There were no canvassing efforts, and a lady even contacted me, mistakenly thinking I was a Seminole County Dem official, and demanded to know where her lawn sign was before telling me not to bother.
I worked with an activist this year to hold our OWN event/fundraiser for Dem candidates across the state. No help from any local party, and the FL Dems even refused to announce it on their website. Eight candidates showed from across the state and some online. Crist had promised he would stop by but one of his very young "schedulers" called right before the speeches to say he couldn't come. He regretted it when he found out the turnout was great and we had more Veterans, voters, and candidates than the place he went to. WE also found out his running mate was right next door doing a failed campaign stop at the "Villages". Seriously--who the hell were you trying to talk to there?
The leader of the national party, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, from my own state, is frankly the worst leader we've ever had. Dean fired up supporters and had a successful 50 state strategy, with the revelation that we can't win national elections with fucking the coastal states and Illinois. With Debbie WS, we went right back to that mindset. She supported the "run from Obama" strategy, outright refused to go after the Veteran vote, and didn't offer help to her own party candidates. She even attacked medical marijuana, which had a 90% approval at the beginning of the year. I expect to fight--but not my own party.
Activists have to take control of the county parties. Change has to come from within. If that doesn't work, we need to organize for ourselves. Otherwise, a state with 500,000 more Democrats will forever be an entirely controlled GOP state.
Thursday, November 06, 2014
I certainly think we need to be prepared for that possibility, and I respect the views of those who think this will be the case. It isn't at all far-fetched. But I proposed earlier in a comment here that maybe Scott would instead turn his focus towards enriching himself as much as he could (such as by encouraging fracking in the Everglades) rather than cutting budget items. That's because I believe that Scott is truly a man of no principles, save his own personal gain: It seems to me the best way to explain why he abandoned his Tea Party promises like the Arizona-style immigration law, and verbally approved of other things that his Tea Party base found offensive, like Medicaid expansion. It is also why he calls himself pro-life even after making money off abortions at HCA.
After some thought, I'd like to propose a reason why this seems a more likely approach, and one we can hope will be true (although in the same sense we might hope to be hit with a fiddle instead of with a grand piano). Oddly enough, the nationwide GOP may be our best (albeit unwitting) ally in keeping Scott leashed. And no, it's not because they care about us -- it's because they care about their own skins.
The GOP knows it needs Florida to win the Presidency in 2016. This is not in question. They need Texas AND Florida to balance the electoral weight of New York and California. Otherwise, they may as well not even field a candidate.
Scott called in several GOP Presidential hopefuls to aid his campaign: Perry, Christie, Jindal, Bush, Rubio. Walker probably would have been here too, if he had not been running himself in Wisconsin. In 2012, even a year or so after the worst of Scott's atrocities, Scott was so toxic that the GOP breathed a sigh of relief when a hurricance gave Scott the perfect excuse for not speaking at the GOP convention in Tampa. But now, they have staked their fate for the 2016 race on Scott by standing shoulder to shoulder with him.
What does this mean? Speaking figuratively, we can imagine a scene on Scott's campaign bus where Christie is taking Scott by the scruff of the neck and saying, "Don't screw this up for us." (Again, you didn't think they were here because they cared about the people of Florida, did you?) If Scott returns to the highest grade of toxicity, the same he had in his first years, the GOP Presidential aspirations will wither away gruesomely, like chaff under fire. As it is, in 2012, they couldn't take Florida while Scott's toxicity was slowly waning and the atrocities like budget cuts to disabled children were still fresh in our memories. The GOP, with their "wave" of 2014 wins, is under the miscroscope to perform, and needs to have the next two years with Florida's citizens thinking happy thoughts about Scott. Cutting funds to disabled children won't accomplish that.
But do these GOP hopefuls have anything to hold over Scott if he does not behave, you may ask? Yes, I think so. Scott may or may not have political ambitions beyond being governor, but if he does have any, they will be quashed if he does not do exactly what the national GOP wants, or if he embarrasses them. But even if he has no such ambitions, the GOP could still make things hard on his private holdings in various states. And of course, even if they can't hold anything over Scott, they could still take sanctions over whoever wants to be Scott's successor. Make no mistake -- when he rubbed shoulders with the GOP hopefuls, Scott stuck his head in a velvet vise that could as easily give him a massage as snap his neck in two.
Speaking as an Independent voter, I'd recommend that Democrats keep in mind, and keep at the fore, how Christie, Jindal, Perry, Rubio and Bush repeated Scott's campaign lies. Those lies could be used to discredit each of them on a nationwide scale, if any of them manages to capture the GOP nomination. (That also assumes Perry stays out of jail.) But for the present, I'm suggesting that Florida's position in the national election scene may stave off the worst of Scott's possible actions. It may even make him relatively tame, but perhaps that is hoping too much.
We can only hope this is a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy forecast for Florida's future.