Sunday, July 29, 2012


Dodging the press, hiding his tax returns, and fearing the base...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Make Some Noise: FL GOP's Sneak Attack to Outlaw Abortion

Florida is one of only 10 states that includes an explicit right to privacy in its State Constitution. It gaurantees:

"the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life."

Sounds like a post from one of your teabag friends on facebook, eh? In actuality, it was a Democratic legislature and Democratic governor that inserted that statement decades ago. That's right, that verbiage came from Democrats... not from an idiot dressed in a tricorne hat with teabags fighting against his own healthcare.

No, that idiot voted in right-wing legislators that are, in fact, DESPERATELY trying to get rid of that statement.

You see, the right to privacy is interpreted in our Federal Constitution, but Florida Democrats wisely enshrined it in our State Constitution. It gives our citizens the right to refuse medical care (which was key in the Terry Schiavo case); and ensures women are protected from government intrustion. Despite the super GOP majority and thier herculean efforts to limit abortion with dozens of bills, they have only been partially successful in limiting access because of our State Constitution and our impartial Supreme Court. (Which is also under attack by Rick Scott and his allies, but that's another post).

The problem, you see, is even if Romney is elected, and he replaces Ginsburg on the Supreme Court with a wingnut who joins 4 of the 5 (or 5 of the 5) conservatives in overturning Roe, Florida still CANNOT outlaw abortion because it enshrined the right to privacy. Furthermore, Florida voters have made it clear they do not want new restrictions on abortions.

So the Florida GOP does it always does. Lies to get what it wants.

This November, you will be treated to Amendment 6, which is entitled "Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights".

Read through the title again.

Notice anything about taking away your right to privacy? That's right, its not there. Just reading the title, which many voters do, it sounds all well and good.

Even those who bother to read through the text might not get its true intent. Here is the summary they will see this November. First part:

This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest.

This first part is pure and utter BULLSHIT. The amendment is written to seem like it is all about a prohibition on public funding for abortions, which is absurd because that is ALREADY ILLEGAL under state and federal law!

It is to disguise the true intent of the bill, which is vaguely included in the second part:

This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.

It specifies the state constitution can't be interpreted to give more abortion rights, but what it actually does is STRIP AWAY THE STATE'S PRIVACY CLAUSE.

Of course, having an amendment that says "Deletion of your right to privacy granted by the state; with intent to end abortion rights" would not get the 60% required to amend the state's constitution.

The state GOP is counting on the plethora of other issues, including other evil amendments (like Amendment 8) along with the national election to overshadow attention given to the Trojan Horse that is Amendment 6.

Given the apathy of today's Florida voter, they are smart to attempt this. But I still have to try. Please educate your friends on what Amendment 6 is truly about. There already is a prohibition on public funds for abortion, but you are sacrificing your own right to privacy so the state legislature can intrude into your personal affairs.

Even a teabagger should shudder at that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Unbelievable Disaster that is Rick Scott's Lt. Gov...

First off, the entire position of Florida Lt. Governor is completely useless. It was created in 1968, and is unique in that no job description for it exists anywhere in state law. The LG literally has no responsiblities whatsoever but to draw a six-figure salary, maintain a massive and equally pointless staff, and step in if the governor dies. (Before '68, it went to the Senate Prez.) For all the whining the state GOP does about the budget, they never consider cutting this position.

So it boggles the mind that anyone with half a brain cell could screw this up. Just sit on your butt and feed at the government trough. How freaking hard could that be?

If you are successful, it means no one has heard of you. Toni Jenning, Jeb Bush's lackey, was successful. She never made the news. Charlie Crist's #2 was a failure: he made headlines for flying all around the state on a government plane for personal outings.

Then there's Rick Scott's fiasco, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

Jennifer Carroll was a state rep who was not known for her legislative record, but was certainly known for her ethical lapses. She was nowhere on par with her boss and his greatest Medicare fraud in history, but an impressive resume of shadiness nonetheless. There was her using a fake diploma; filing bills to benefit her public relations firm, and that memorable time she falsified records to scam a government program.

Still, all she had do as LG was attend state dinners on time, meet and greet some girl scouts, and don't do anything stupid. Unfortunately, that was asking too much. It happened:

A one minute and 20 second recording, captured sometime in the summer of 2011, is at the heart of a controversial criminal case rocking the state Capitol.

The quality is poor, but in it you can hear John Konkus, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll’s Chief of Staff, and Carletha Cole, a Carroll employee fired in September.

The conversation is about a rift between Carroll’s office and the governor. It was given to a journalist after Cole was fired. After its release, Cole was charged with distributing the illegal recording. She wasn’t charged with making it.

That’s because Cole claims Konkus made the recording. She says he carried around a smart-pen that, with a click, would turn into a microphone, and secretly tape anyone within an ear shot.

According to a motion filed by Cole’s attorney, Steve Webster, the governor’s office instructed staff to “covertly record communications within the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.”

First off, yes... there is a "recording war" going on between the governor's office staff and the LG's staff. They are not getting along well.

Second, Carletha Cole is an African Methodist Episcopal minister, grandmother, and former magazine publisher. She has no criminal record whatsoever and was offered entry to a seminary prograam at Harvard. She instead foolishly took a job with Jennifer Carroll as a senior program analyst. She is now looking at several years in prison for giving a reporter that recording.

The Leon County state attorney has a personal vendetta against her and even said he is going to "war" with Cole.

You see, Cole made several public statements about the awful conditions in Carroll's office before she was fired. She said the infighting in the office made it akin to working in “a juvenile school” where staffers are “conspiring against one another.”

After she was fired, she dropped a bombshell: she claimed that she walked in on Jennifer Carroll and her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos, while they were in a "comprising position" in Carroll's office.

Ramos, according to Cole, carried on a lesbian love affair. Carroll, like her predecessor, had a penchant for excessive travel and according ot the Palm Beach Post, required Ramos to have an adjoining hotel room when they traveled.

Cole said when she discovered the affair she was made a target since that day.

In one incident, Capitol police were called to investigate a fire that had broken out in a trash can beneath Cole's desk after a cigar was thrown in there. Beatriz Ramos admitted to setting the fire:

Ramos has refused comment, but told investigators that she accidentally set the trash can on fire with a cigar she had been given during a St. Patrick’s Day party.

Cole said it was harrassment, but FDLE said the fire was just an accident. (PS, an article about FDLE shennanigans under this governor could stand on its on. Coming soon.) Given the fact there are several trash bins closer to Ramos' workstation, not to mention that the Capitol building is a No Smoking area, why would Ramos throw a lit cigar in Cole's private waste basket?

The court file also includes the results of a 2011 polygraph test that indicated Cole was truthful about everything she saw. The test was conducted by a retired polygraph expert who used to work for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Even without the lie detector test, I am inclined to believe Cole over Carroll just based on what I know about the character of both them. However, a compelling arguement could be made that the bombshell she dropped was just a vendetta Cole cooked up to carry out against Carroll for being fired. I'll leave that up to you to judge.

What this unquestionably shows is a chaotic office filled with distrust and unprofessional behavior, to put it lightly, that we are all paying for. Again, getting rid of the LG office, with all of her "travel aides" and webpage builders and whatever else would save the state enough to hire back all the useful public servants it fired; or perhaps go towards reopening the TB hospital Scott shut down during the worst outbreak in 20 years.

I should rephrase my original statement. A compelling arguement could be made against Cole by a COMPETENT person. Never to miss an opportunity to turn a scandal into an insult, Carroll decided to fight Cole by making this statement:

Usually black women that look like me don't engage in relationships like that.

Yes, Jennifer. Only ugly, fat people must be lesbians. You might be a pretty woman, but you are very ugly to me.

The HuffingtonPost asked Florida lesbians to post pictures showing her what lesbians look like.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Another New Low for the GOP: Spring Destruction

Since the 1980s, back when Jerry Falwell declared that respecting the environment was tantamount to worshipping nature, hating our natural resources seems to have rooted into modern GOP dogma. Of course, destroying Gods' creations always had more to do with the mistaken belief that it hurts corporate interests as opposed to blasphaming Christian belief, but nonetheless has persisted to this day.

For those of you not fortunate enough to see one of God's natural wonders, Florida has the most beautiful springs in the world. Florida is home to over 700 artesian springs, more than any other place on the planet. Some are large and popular, like Silver and Wakulla; many others are smaller and hidden. They are not only scenic. They are crucial to our economy (Silver Springs alone adds 61 million a year and supports over 1000 jobs) and, even more importantly, they are critical to our freshwater supply.

Naturally, they must be destroyed.

The photos of several of these springs today are heartbreaking. Yes, there has been unusual drought. Yes population is certainly a factor... but nothing can come touch the damage by our state leadership.

I wish I could say the problem was ONLY inadequate planning and protection. But that would mean the mindset would at least be to help these vital resources. No, the GOP's contempt for regulations has allowed nitrogen, phosphoruous, and other nutrients contained in run-off from storm drains, fertilized lawns, and septic tanks to completely slime them with algae and weeds. This has meant not only a nasty film on previously crystal-clear water, it also means choking the streams. Silver Springs has dropped to its lowest level in recorded history, and now has a green tint due to algae and weeds.

Naturally, Rick Scott and his teabag allies severely slashed funding for the state's water management districts. The limited money they have has so far been used to FIGHT environmental groups trying to reduce the nutrient pollution. Seriously.

If you think that is bad, consider this. The water management district Governing Board Members who hand out the permits are all appointees of Governor Cromedome.

Naturally, in thier zeal to allow as much overdevelopment as possible, we have a foreign company who actually expects crap that this to get through:

Now, a large-scale cattle operation and slaughterhouse is seeking a permit to withdraw over 13 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer -- more water than is used by the entire city of Ocala. Adena Springs Ranch would include up to 30,000 head of cattle in the springshed of Silver Springs, an area prone to runoff and leaching of nutrients and pollutants.

It will be allowed, that much I assure you. Why the hell shouldn't it? Horsby Springs at Camp Kalaqua was healthy and beautiful until a Walmart distribution center was permitted to be built in it's spring-shed.

And of course, do you guys remember this other GOP fiasco with Nestle not so long ago:

Nestle came into Florida and managed to pull off quite the coup.

The company got a permit to take water belonging to Floridians — hundreds of millions of gallons a year from a spring in a state park — at no cost to Nestle.

No taxes. No fees. Just a $230 permit to pump water until 2018.

Nestle bottles that water, ships it throughout the Southeast — much of it to Georgia and the Carolinas — and makes millions upon millions of dollars in profits on it.

Madison Blue Spring was already stressed... so the GOP allowed Nestle to pump millions of gallons from it... for $230... for the right to sell it back to us.

That's GOP leadership.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Time to Get Involved is NOW!

I never have any shortage of material for the My Stupid State series.

We are facing an unprecedented amount of money from the other side coupled with voter suppression we haven't seen since Jim Crow.

If you haven't ever gotten involved, I urge you to do so now.

Registering new voters and GOTV is critial.

League of Women Voters, Obama's FL Team, Fla Dems or your local party are just a few avenues. Whatever it is, for however long it is, just please... Do Something.

Rick Scott Rejects All Branches of Government; Appoints Self Dictator

Ever since Gov. Smeagol took office, he has made a nasty habit of making arbitrary decisions. One of the first things he did was to announce that he himself would stop all pending regulations for his "personal" review, even routine and necessary ones. He had no authority to do so and our state Supreme Court handed him his ass.

Rick Scott responded the way one would expect him to: with not one, but two schemes to dismantle the Court. (One last year to literally dismantle it that failed, and one this year that goes after all Democratically-appointed Justices.)

But the state Courts were not alone: he showed no regard for any other state institution. Not the Cabinet, the media, and certainly not the citizenry.

You may recall during the budget signing ceremony at the Villages, several residents who dared to wear anti-Scott T-shirts in a PUBLIC square were threatened with criminal charges of "tresspassing" by the Sumter County Sheriff's Office on the orders of one Rick Scott. He said he was justified by being the "chief law enforcement officer"; which I guess doesn't require knowing the law.

And so on... he tried to push through a horrible plan to force drug testing on all state employees (but himself). He decided to kill thousands of jobs by single-handedly killing high speed rail. And most recently, you might have heard, he is attempting to purge thousands of eligible voters while even daring the Justice Department to do anything about it.

Now, we see it with Health Care.

The Affordable Care Act was passed in Congress, with a supermajority in the Senate, signed by the President, and now UPHELD by a very conservative Supreme Court. It has been the "law of the land" since it passed; now it is confirmed.

Rick Scott promised last November, in talking with the Palm Beach Post, that if the Supreme Court upheld the law he would implement it:

"It's my job, if it's the law of the country, to be ready when it's the law … when it's the law of the land, we'll implement the law.''

As early as last Wednesday, he said he acknowledged that he would have to comply with the law "if it’s declared constitutional" by SCOTUS.

But now? After spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fight it in Court; after turning down more than $100 million in federal funds to set up health care exchanges; after promising repeteadly to implement it if its "the law of the land"; Rick Scott said yesterday that Florida WILL NOT implement the health care law.

Just like that.

Because he hates it and he says so. So there.

He is Dictator, after all. With a compliant right-wing legislature, who are we, the citizens, to complain?

Scott also said he is not going to expand health insurance through Medicaid, regardless that the federal government is paying almost entirely for the plan and a million people need it.

Of course, he has NO PLAN for the 4 million people in this state without insurance, although he has been in office for 1.5 painful years. (Actually, he sort of has a plan, but can't come up with a formal way to say "screw 'em".)

All he does is make the rounds on right-wing talk shows and lie, lie, lie. Just yesterday on Fox "News" he relayed a phony story about a mysterious "business owner" who told him he has to lay off 20 employees because he can't afford health care. Nevermind that the law specifically exempts any company with fewer than 50 people. This is Greta's Fox crowd he was talking to.

Dictators don't care about truth. They also don't care about the rule of law, much less the plight of suffering people.

The only good news is that Rick Scott is not actually a dictator... he only thinks he is. We do still have elections. Granted, they are MUCH more difficult with all the registration restrictions, handwriting analysis, purging and other roadblocks put in place the past 1.5 years, but they still exist. No matter how much money the Kochs give to Rick, no matter how many restrictions they place at the ballot box, there is no amount of pressure or suppression that is going to keep that bastard in office past 2014.

Maybe then Floridians can get the health care they deserve.