Saturday, January 31, 2009

Samson is Our Own Blago, but Florida is Not Illinois..

GOP leader Ray Sansom has only been House Speaker here in Florida since late November. However, his ethical lapses began immediately. Hours after he was sworn in, the Board of Trustees at Northwest Florida State College agreed to hire him to a part-time administration job that paid $110,000 a year.

There were no other applicants for the job and no advertisements. Sansom faxed his application from his office in the state Capitol.

The St. Pete Times noticed something fishy about that:

Soon after news crept out about the job, details began to emerge about a small college that had done unusually well in the annual budget roulette of Tallahassee. Sansom was the House's top budget writer during those years.

In 2008, Sansom accelerated funding for a student services building, taking what had been a $1 million appropriation and turning it into $25.5 million — the largest single appropriation for any college in the state.

This isn't even the first and only scandal--there are plenty of others that clearly show he abused his power to help himself and his buddies. It's just that this one got the most buzz and caused Ray Samson to step down "temporarily".

That's right. Samsom is planning to come back once his "name is cleared". Despite every major newspaper in Florida calling him out and asking him to step down, including his hometown paper, he is still expecting to come back and screaming that he had done nothing wrong.

That does sound familiar.

The difference is that Blago had no defenders in the Illinois legislature and they moved quickly to remove him from power. Gov. Charlie Crist, Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach and Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer said nothing about Ray Samsom--except to commend him for stepping down yesterday. There also seems to be no plans to choose a new speaker who can serve out his 2-year term.

I can't really blame Samsom. After all, according to the St. Pete Times, this behavior has permeated the Florida legislature:

  • Sen. Mike Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican slated to become Senate president, earned $38,000 a year from Brevard Community, where he did not have to teach but only produce a book on the Legislature. He has since got himself a $75,000-a-year job at the University of Florida as a part-time lecturer.

  • Former House Speaker Marco Rubio of West Miami took a part-time job at Florida International University for $69,000.

  • And Sen. Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach helped create a reading center at Florida State University, and then took a $120,000-a-year job overseeing it, which she gave up once her employment hit the newspapers.

It's just business as usual.

The state GOP should learn from the mistakes of their national party. With complete control of all three branches of government not but two years ago, they quickly devolved into a culture of corruption that has led to the mess we are cleaning today. I remember talk of a "permanent majority" not too long ago--which lasted all of two years.

One would think the state GOP would be trying to avoid a similar fate.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Planned Parenthood Should Sue Florida

First, a little background:

Here in Florida, former governor John Ellis Bush (W's brother), aided by our hapless right-wing legislature, authorized a "Choose Life" license plate. The plate was supposed to "provide for the material needs of pregnant women who are committed to placing their children for adoption." However, it acts as a fund-raising agent for zealots who to run anti-abortion "Crisis Pregnancy Centers", whose sole purpose is to keep women from having abortions, even it is means harrassing and lying to women. (One women's story in a local paper was particularly disturbing).

It is the only instance where state funds are given to religious organzations for distribution.

Fast forward to today:

There are literally over a hundred specialty plates offered in Florida. More than any other state. (Click here to see most of them.) Family Values, Trees, Soccer, you name it... we got a plate for it. Stephen Colbert even supported the "I Believe" plate one lawmaker is pushing hard for:

So no wonder one such group that wants their own plate is the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Despite the fact that Florida hardly played any role in the Civil War, and few would think of Palm Trees and Disney when they hear the term "Confederate Heritage", the group wants that term emblazoned on yet another specialty license plate so they can raise money for cemetaries, scholarships, etc. The have also met all of the requirements: a $60,000 application fee, a marketing strategy and a survey with 30,000 motor-vehicle owners who say they intend to buy the tag.

Despite meeting the requirements, our state legislature refused to sponsor the bill or even bring it up for a vote. So the SCV is now suing the state.

Whether you agree with this group or not is irrelevant. The point of the lawsuit is valid: equal treatment. When a group wants to have a parade, you must meet the requirements set out by the city or county--the government can't deny a permit because they don't like the message. The legislature can't pick and choose which special interest groups deserve to have a license plate (and fund-raising vehicle) and which ones can't because they don't like the message.

The Orlando Sentinel recently ran a column blasting our legislature for this debacle and saying they have no one to blame but themselves for this mess due to their rush to sign off on the ill-conceived "Choose Life" plate (while denying the counter pro-choice plate).

Planned Parenthood needs to watch this case closely. If the confederate group is defeated, their lawyers have suggested they will then move to have the specialty-plate law declared unconstitutional.

My guess is that the legislature will cave and we will soon have ridiculous license plates on pick-ups emblazoned with the stars and bars. If that happens, Planned Parenthood needs to pick up the ball and run with this.

One plate, emblazoned with the words "Reproductive Freedom", going to a fund to replace sexual ignorance with sex education, undoing the damage caused by the CPCs, and offering real family planning which would prevent abortions in the first place.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For My GOP Friends This Inauguration Day...

I thought I would be gloating this day, the way you did 8 years ago. Even though it was the closest election in history, and even though there was a cloud of illegitamacy, you guys wanted to rub our noses in W's victory. The speeches leading up to it were condescending, including one speech I vividly remember where the speaker said how great it felt to say "EX-president Clinton".

But this is a new day.

Not only will I not be gloating, I actually accept what you said so long ago... that God chose W. to be president. Let me explain...

Our country has a miraculous history. By all logic, our nation should not exist. We were a ragtag militia going up against the greatest military in the world. Yet we not only survived but flourished after the Revolutionary War. We had brilliant leaders like Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin who forged the path. We experimented with this crazy notion of letting the people, peasants, rule in a time of absolute monarchy. We became a beacon of hope for the world.

Amazingly, at our most perilous times, we have had great men lead us just when we needed them. James Madison during the War of 1812, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, Roosevelet for WWII, and Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Could you imagine what would have happened if we had James Buchanan, Martin Van Buren, or Franklin Pierce as the president during the Civil War?? Could you imagine if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were in charge during the missile crisis? (*Shudder*)

There is probably only one time in history, however, where George W. Bush's black and white, absolute vision of good and evil would have worked--and that's after the attack of 9/11. Al Qaeda had no side, no justification--they were just pure evil. For the one and only time in his presidency, immediately after the aftermath, Bush said just the right things and we all had each other's back. That was just what we needed during that time.

Unfortunately, he squandered opportunity, bi-partisanship, and universal good will into a narrow-minded agenda. This, along with stunning incompetence and bad decisions, led our nation into what has been the darkest of times. Yet through fear-mongering, he streched his agenda into a second term.

But let me say this, if there was no darkness, there would be no light.

If there was no George W. Bush, there would be no Barack Obama today. Bush's stunning incompetence and bad judgment caused millions of Americans to conclude that ideology, even racism, were luxeries they could no longer afford.

In our short history, we have not only never elected a minority--we never elected anyone without an Anglo-Saxon name. But just like our nation, whose existence defies all logic, we now have not only an African-American getting ready to be sworn in, but one with the same/similar name as two of our national enemies. Given the powerful smears by association thrown at him by your machine, the obstacles he had to overcome were not just huge, they were monumental.

But because he showed how a president should act--a steady leader who made decisions based on sound logic instead of "gut" reactions, and because he talked to people like adults instead of lowly pests who need information "spun" to them, he won people over. And he didn't just win, he won big. Places like Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina. I was awed on election night.

This is why we believe he can do anything.

I believe that old saying that it always gets the most dark before the light--and I do finally agree with you, my GOP friend, that this was all divinely planned. Like you, I believe our nation was founded "under God" and is blessed. And once again, we have been blessed by our selection of just the right leader in what is now another perilous time. Obama is ready to guide America out of crisis.

And even though you do not support him, he will help you too. And I am glad you can witness history with me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dubya Ditches Phony Ranch: Moves to "Whites Only" Community

I visited Crawford,TX back in 2004 when I was visiting Waco. The whole town was just a post office, barbershop, coffee diner, a blinking yellow light, and three small shops dedicated to a complete moron. The luster wore off the prez in this little town as it had for the rest of the nation long ago, but luckily they won't need to put up with him much longer. Surprise, surprise, now that W. done being prez, he's dropping the "cowboy" schtik and is selling his ranch.

Democrats speculated that he would as soon as he left office. See here and here.

Bush didn't even bother to pretend by holding on to it for a little while--he bought it right before office and got rid of it days before he leaves office.

He bought the phony ranch in 1999, right before he ran for president. It was always just a huge prop:

  • There were never any animals on this "ranch", no farming, no nothing.
  • There was plenty of "brush" that he pretended to clear--for what reason is anyone's guess.
  • He was terrified of freaking horses, for crying out loud!
Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico and a real rancher, was appalled with his equinophobia and derided him as a "windshield cowboy"!

But Bush was never a cowboy. It was an image he copied from Reagan--another fake cowboy with a fake ranch. What Bush really was, and still is, is a spoiled, Conneticut-born, Harvard/Yale legacy, son of a multi-millionaire college cheerleader.

It runs in the family. His brother pretends to be named JEB for the hicks--(his name is John Ellis Bush you morons!). But at least JEB, nor anyone else in the Bush family, tries to have a fake Texas drawl.

Dumb followers thought he would "retire" on his phony ranch. Now Bush shows his true colors. He is moving into a $2 million house in an exclusive neighborhood that, until 2000, had a covenant that only white people could live there!

Granted, they gracefully made concessions for some minorities: "servants" of color could live there according to the covenant. If I had the choice to live anywhere I wanted, I certainly would not set foot in such a bigoted neighborhood. Yet these are the kinds of people Bush and his wife are obviously more "comfortable" with. Good riddance.

What is most insulting is that the mainstream press hasn't mentioned this at all. After years of playing up the fake cowboy image at the "Western White House", not a word about it being chucked. I guess it's not nice to call someone out as a phony, and compared to the lies that Bush has bestowed on the American people for the past 8 years, I guess playing a fake cowboy is small potatoes.

I will really enjoy the cult followers of this colossal moron who will no doubt still make excuses. Why stop now? But at least we can finally laugh about all this (and at them) since Bush's exit is here and he can't hurt anyone anymore. That's right, Bushies--our pain has finally ended. Unfortunately, yours is just beginning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dawn is Coming--the Countdown!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No Politics Today

Just Kittens.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Vern Buchanan...Our own Al Franken

According to the Herald Tribune, with Jeb Bush out, (Thanks for sparing our state the embarrassment of being responsible for yet another Bush disaster, by the way), Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key has "emerged as one of the leading Republican contenders for the seat being vacated in 2010 by Sen. Mel Martinez."

Telling, since Buchanan, who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, was named one of "The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group. The GOP knows how to pick 'em.

So why do I compare this Bush clone to Al Franken? These men are polar opposites in both ideology and ethics.

It is because both men have had contested elections, and both men had their elections certified by their respective state election authorities.

The difference is that the Democratic Congress in 2006 SEATED Buchanan on January 4, 2007, even though the election was not completely settled. If you recall, Democrat Christine Jennings challenged the results in court because 18,000 voters from Sarasota County, according to the electronic machines with no paper trail, skipped the Congressional race vote in the 2006 election. According to the touch-screen machines, more votes were made for an inconsequential hospital board than for the people's own Congressional representative.

The court challenge ended in June 2007, but the matter dragged on until February 25, 2008, when the House formally accepted the findings. And yet, Vern Buchanan was allowed to act as a representative throughout the entire process...even though there was an obvious dark cloud over the election.

Fast forward to today. NO ONE is saying there was any problem with the election equipment or any shady activities going on in Minnesota. It was just a very close election. Even if Minnesota allowed Norm Coleman to cherry-pick votes from the areas of Hennepin County that are overwhelmingly pro-Coleman, which they won't, he will still lose. There is no way Norm Coleman can win. But that is not stopping them from trying to drag this out for as long as they can, denying Minnesota a crucial voice in national affairs.

Ironic, since Coleman actually had the gall to lecture Franken at the beginning when the results showed him slightly ahead and say, laughably, that he would he would "step aside" if he was in Franken's shoes and save taxpayers the money.

Funny how his concern for the taxpayer changed now that he lost.

The Senate should recognize the canvassing board's final tabulations, and seat Senator Franken over the objection of hyper-partisan Republicans like John Cornyn of Texas. Senate Democrats should quit playing nice and at least seat Franken on a provisional basis until Coleman finishes his never-ending lawsuits.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

How'd He Do? A Fair Evaluation of the Bush Years...

He still makes me angry. The Middle East is blowing up right now... and he's on vacation (literally). After a final couple of "Screw You" executive orders, including one that allows medical personnel to refuse anyone treatment for any reason of "conscience"--(one nurse pointed out that this would mean she would refuse treatment to Bush and Cheney), Bush is exiting as abysmally as he came in.

After all of our suffering, don't let the door hit you on the way out...

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! A better, stronger America starts January 20!