Monday, September 29, 2014

State Senate Candidate (22) Judithanne McLauchlan In Winnable Race

At a time when academics and scientists are being attacked, it's nice to see a professor fight back.

Judithanne McLauchlan was ranked one of the top 25 professors in Florida while working at the University of South Florida. She has worked in every branch of government, including the Clinton White House, and has all the political saviness required as a former state party field director.

She has served on the board for one of my favorite organizations: the League of Women Voters. (This group has been at the forefront in our battle against voter suppression in this state; and is also responsible for the successful challenge of the gerrymandered legislative maps.) Judithanne has been a fixture on television because of her knowledge of the hot-button issues, and has written a book that explores how members of Congress try to influence Supreme Court decision making.

Imagine. Someone serving in our State Senate who knows how government works AND has the people's best interests at heart.

Senate District 22 is a swing district that tends to lean Democratic. There is NO reason why this district should be red. Her opponent, GOPer Jeff Brandes, is known for sponsoring bills that would allow anyone access to guns during a zombie apocalypse and being the lone vote against Medicaid expansion in the State Senate.

Jeff Brandes, who has taken buckets of money from Duke Energy, is responsible for sponsoring the bill to maintain Duke Energy’s nuclear cost recovery fee. For those of you who don't know, this allows Duke Energy to charge us EVERY MONTH for a nuclear power plant that THEY DECIDED NOT TO BUILD!!

Yes, that really is a thing here. If you are not from Florida, don't ask how that can happen.

Judithanne McLauchlan is neck and neck in the polls with Brandes. Brandes is worth over 10 million and has money pouring in from outside groups to help him defeat Judithanne. The only thing he's been able to attack her on is positions she's never held (No, Jeff, she never supported a state income tax) or a medical bankruptcy she had 25 years ago (And what kind of people are responsible for that, Jeff?)

Judithanne committed the unforgivable GOP crime of getting sick while poor. Lucky for us, it gave her the passion to fight for affordable healthcare for the very people that our so-called legislators are supposed to be looking after. It made her a better candidate and will make her a great state senator!

I wholeheartedly endorse and ask for support for Judithanne McLauchlan. If you agree, support her here:

John Tobia's Sham Office

Florida Rep. John Tobia, District 53, doesn't even live or run an office in his own district. Just this complete sham.

Yes, you have to live in your district to run in it. You have to have an office in the district. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Florida State's GOP Experiment Another Sign of Coming Florida Brain Drain

Just a few years ago, after the Tea Party took control in Tallahassee, the Koch brothers worked out an agreement with that city's ubiquitous university, (Florida State), to have unprecedented influence over their professors and curriculum.

As a sidenote, the Koch brothers offered 10 to 20 times as much money for a similar arrangement with ivy-league colleges, like Yale, but were turned down for obvious reasons.

Just last week, Florida State (FSU), in a selection process that was nothing short of a sham, picked Koch-promoted, creationist, global-warming denier, and ALEC's "Legislator of the Year" JOHN THRASHER to be the new president of FSU:

The FSU community has been staunchly opposing Thrasher's candidacy for president because he is, by almost all standards normally applied to university presidents, a terrible candidate for the job.

Whereas university presidents are almost always required to have a Ph.D., Thrasher lacks real academic credentials. As a legislator, Thrasher has opposed institutions that are essential to higher education like faculty unions and tenure, was caught violating ethics laws twice in the Florida House of Representatives, has voted several times to cut Florida’s higher-education budget, and he himself sponsored a failed bill that would have made exactly this kind of legislature-to-university transition illegal for him to make. Thrasher also is currently serving as chair for the reelection campaign of Florida Gov. Rick Scott - who appointed FSU Board of Trustees Chair Allan Bense (and others), who in turn has handpicked much of the search committee's members.

Congratulations, FSU. I guess you've given up any hope of ever becoming a top tier, prestigious university.

In case some of you within this state are unaware, Florida has a reputation. An INTERNATIONAL reputation. (And you can't blame me, I just document). Sure, we all laugh when Seth Meyers does his game show Fake or Florida?, or we get mocked on SNL or Late Night. Sure, we all roll our eyes when our politicians say or do stupid things, or get angry when they pass dangerous and stupid legislation.

However, who do you think is paying attention? A research chemist told me that she is leaving to publish somewhere else because European colleagues think there really is something wrong with the people down here.

You know, there's a reason that scientists, engineers, and people in other technology-related fields flock to progressive areas such as New England or California. No one thinks "If I'm gonna make it, it's got to be in Florida!" Yes, that's laughable. For a reason. You can't hold intellectuals in disdain and then expect them to want to be here. You can't claim to love STEM, but then mock actual scientists (as GOP politicians here have done repeatedly regarding the environment and climate change--even though Florida is the most vulnerable on the planet with all that expensive real estate on the coastline.)

Florida already ranks at the bottom with Alabama and Mississippi for education spending, but it's not just our crappy schools. We have the lowest paying jobs, no consumer protection, and our public services (parks, libraries, transportation) have been eviscerated by Rick Scott. This is to say nothing of doing things that people in other states take for granted, like visiting a movie theater without getting shot.

Meanwhile, professors and scientists who actually care about their reputations will go to a state that doesn't make international headlines every month with another round of stupid and whose government does not hold them in contempt. It's not like it would be hard to find a better functioning and more respectable government anyway.

As for me, like many of you, I am stuck here for a myriad of reasons. I have no clue how Thrasher is going to fuck up FSU, or which school the Kochs will go after next, or what the legislature has in store for us in this conservative wetdream hellscape that is Florida. I'm sure it will all pale in comparison to whatever the felon who currently runs our governor's office will do once he has unchecked power with no re-election effort to worry about after the next election.

Pray for us all.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Attending Crist Event? Expect Your License Plate To Be Recorded

Little disturbing:

The state Republican Party and Gov. Rick Scott are stonewalling on questions about why the party sent staffers to videotape and photograph the license plate numbers of people attending a fundraiser in Tallahassee for Gov. Rick Scott’s Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Scott and a party spokeswoman both refused to answer questions about the incident today.

This was the private home of Democratic Chair Allison Tant. She appropriately pointed out that the invitations weren't a secret: this wasn't one of Rick Scott's secret Koch meetings. Guests were touted on Facebook and donors listed on the financial report.

It's disturbing but typically this kind of GOP slimy-ness doesn't bother me because we're used to that kind of stuff here.

What bothers me is that these weren't overzeoulous Rick Scott supporters who were doing this (because that mythical creature doesnt' exist).

These were paid state GOP employees send by the Rick Scott campaign:

In an interview, party spokeswoman Susan Hepworth acknowledged the demonstrators and photographers were state GOP employees, but when asked the purpose of the tactic, she wouldn’t give a direct answer,

“That’s what trackers do,” she instead responded. “Did anyone actually say they were intimidated?”

But that’s not, in fact, what trackers do. They don’t normally pay attention to attendees at the events -- in fact, they usually try to remain inconspicuous and avoid interaction with the press or supporters.

Trackers are sent to record politicians at public events. They are not sent to harass and intimidate people.

It's not illegal, just creepy. Just wrong.

And totally Rick Scott.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Civics 101 for Low-Information Scott Voters

I've found that supporters of Rick Scott are lacking in some of the most elementary knowledge about how our state is governed. That seems like a truism, given that they support Scott in the first place. But I've found that they are lacking knowledge in some very specific areas that are critical to Scott's campaign. Here are the top three points I'd like to cover.

Independent is not a party.
Over and over again the refrain against Charlie Crist from the Scott camp is: "He doesn't even know what party he wants to be!" Or, "He keeps switching parties!" If they get specific enough they may say Crist changed parties twice.

But no, he didn't. Crist was a registered Republican when he ran as an Independent against Rubio and Meek in 2010. He did not run as a member of the "Independent Party." 

To  be sure,  there are parties with similar names (like the far rightist American Independent Party, or the Independence Party), but that is not what Crist was running as. He ran as an Independent in the sense that he had no support from an established political party.

I'll also point out that Scott fanatics generally have no idea that switching from one party to another isn't that unusual. One of their heroes, Ronald Reagan, switched his D to an R. Hillary Clinton switched from an R to a D. In their eyes the worst offender would have to be Theodore Roosevelt, who threw away his R to become a BM (Bull Moose). He not only switched parties -- he started his own!

Florida law requires our state budget to be balanced. It is also amazing how many of Scott's flock say that Crist, during his term, "treated the state budget like a credit card," put the state in debt, and so on. No, he didn't, and he couldn't have. Florida is required by law to have a balanced budget. We can't spend more than we take in. 

The only "debt" we have is a type of bond debt, which is used for certain types of building projects. That sort of debt did increase under Crist, and did indeed decrease under Scott, but it had been increasing for years under past governors and is not a "credit card" kind of debt that a governor can just use as they please.

The Legislature, not the Governor, holds the purse strings. That leaves one last civics lesson for Scott's followers. Saying Crist did this or that with the state budget, or that Scott does whatever with it, leaves out a huge part of the equation: The Legislature. There's a political myth, one we can even see on the national scene ("Obama quintupled the national debt!"), that our executive branches have dictatorial powers, especially over spending. They don't. Our executive officers can suggest a budget, they can wheedle or coax members of the legislative branch to approve budget measures, and can even veto expenditures. Ultimately, though, how much is spent is in the hands of the legislative branch, not the executive branch. That means any blame Scott's flock assigns to Crist, properly belongs to the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature. 

There are plenty of other civics lessons that Rick Scott's gang could use, but these three lie at the heart of many of their complaints. If you can get one to listen to you for a few minutes, do your best to educate them.

I know. That's the hard part.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BUSTED! Rick Scott Caught Using Donor as "Fake Victim"

H/T to Indie Thinker

If you follow FL scandals (and admittedly, there are too many to follow them all), then you might have heard about Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein. The scandal is real and was featured on CNBC's "American Greed". (I find it entertaining, but legislators here use it as a "how to" manual).

Scott Rothstein became very wealthy and donated to the GOP and its many politicians, including then-gov Charlie Crist.

Scott Rothstein was a swindler. He was Republican. But the state GOP saw an opportunity to falesly accuse Crist of somehow being involed in his Ponzi-scheme. The FL GOP spent serious money to run an ad from a "victim" who cries about being "swindeled" by Crist and Rothstein. They ran the ad 4000 times!

The media, and everyone else, asked a very simple, obvious question: Who's the guy?

The ad never said who he was. When asked directly, no one in the GOP or the Scott campaign would say. However, Rick Scott swore he was real and not an actor. He kept saying, "You should ask Charlie [Crist]"; "Why won't Charlie release him?"

Because it was YOUR fake ad, dumbass!

If he was real, why the hell wouldn't they say who he was? The negative ad had an effect in this race pulling down Crist a little, but if he was legitimate, his story alone could have been devastating. The only reason to hide who he is would be the obvious....

It's complete and utter bull****.

The media here had to actually hunt the guy down. Finally, they succeeded. It's Ft. Lauderdale investor Dean Kretschmar. And now we know why Scott kept it a secret:

Kretschmar fails to mention that his Fort Lauderdale lawyer is William R. Scherer, a Scott donor and GOP operative. Rothstein once called Scherer a “mentor.” And Scherer also tried to help get a lenient sentence for Rothstein — the very man Scherer’s client trashes in the ad, which has run about 4,000 times in Florida at a cost of at least $2 million.

“Scott Rothstein,” Kretschmar says in the ad, “swindled a lot of people — me included — bankrupted many families.”

But Kretschmar wasn’t bankrupted.

Kretschmar recouped most of the roughly $8 million that he personally gave Rothstein as part of an investor group known as Razorback.

Crist responded with an ad of his own, but he can't match the millions Scott spent to spread the false ad.

Of course Rick Scott lied. That's all he knows how to do. The irony here is that Rick Scott has actually USED his office to waste BILLIONS o taxpayer money on his crappy, corrupt cronies:

  • Like his buddy whose companies are raking in billions for his Medicaid privatization scheme
  • Or this bastard, a Scott aide, who is receiving massive subsidies for his crappy train, which is the REAL reason Scott rejected federal funds for high-speed rail
  • Or this crony, now a jailbird,who used the Xpressway Authority as his personal play account. Scott rammed him thru on appointment over objections.

    I could go on, but I really don't need to.

    At least we won't be bombarded with that ad now that Rick Scott has been called out on it. Now the GOP can move towards genuine ads directed at their base, like calling Charlie a commie whore who looks like and AIDS victim.

    Despicable, but at least they are being honest this time.

  • Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Rick Scott's "Mystery Man" Exposed

    There are a lot of ways to contribute anonymously to political debate. Letting your face be plastered all over television isn't one of them.

    I wasn't surprised to read this story of how Rick Scott's "mystery man" in his anti-Crist ad -- the one who said he was defrauded by Scott Rothstein, and implied as heavily as he could that Crist let Rothstein buy judgeships -- was exposed within just a couple of weeks. Among the curious facts: Yes, he was defrauded by Rothstein, but he got all his money back. His attorney is a Scott donor...who also happens to have been good buddies with Rothstein. I'll let you read the rest. The Miami Herald deserves to keep its thunder for this one.

    What I will add to this story is the observation that it says a great deal about Rick Scott and his followers. Scott expected those who viewed this ad to blindly accept it and obey the implied, attached order to swerve your vote his way because of it. He never expected anyone to do the very simple searching that was needed to expose this "mystery man" as a fake. Many politicians expect us to be dumb sheep to some extent, but Scott takes that to measures unheard of. He expects us to react to his claims as if he were a CEO and we were employees he could fire at any moment.

    Make sure this story gets spread around.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Religious Extremists Successfully Ban Teaching Evolution in School!

    Pretty ticked off here. These woman-hating, gay-bashing, minority-opposing, intolerant religious nuts finally went a little too far...


    ISIS Bans Teaching Evolution In Schools

    The new curriculum even went so far as to explicitly ban Charles Darwin's theory of evolution...

    What a bunch of whackjobs.

    Oh wait.. you thought I meant....

    Whoa... Whoa... Whoa

    C'mon. ISIS are murderous, ethnic-cleansing, evil, ignorant, bottom-dwellers.

    Today's GOP is simply willfully ignorant.

    But I can understand initially why you read the title and instantly thought this was some GOP, right-wing bullcrap. Things like:

    Again, just to crystal clear, you cannot compare America's right-wing nuts to a bona-fide terror group. They are nothing alike (sans the bad English). One group actually threatens to kill teachers who challenge them. The other just fines them 1000s who try to register their students to vote.

    Most teabaggers are decent people when you get to know them. Not so the psychopaths running Mosul. In fact, they only have one thing in common: taking pride in hateful ignorance.