A Democracy is where the majority rules and the minority has rights. We have neither here in Florida now. A small, extremist minority is calling ALL of the shots, and the overwhelming majority of Floridians are being completely ignored. I don't know what we have in Florida, friends, but it is NOT Democracy.
My Stupid State hits its 25th post. All of this madness in four short months. Let's recap a bit...
My last post I pointed out a few disturbing factors that allow the GOP to completely dominate 2 of the 3 branches of government here in Florida. After the red wave election of 2010, republicans now enjoy a 2 to 1 majority in both houses of the legislature. This was coupled with the expunging of many reasonable moderates replaced with complete whackjobs. Add to this mix a man who can reasonably be called the most corrupt governor in US history, and you have the beginnings of my 4-year long horror movie.
In one legislative session, (PLZ GOD LET IT END!), the Fleabag politicians immediately attacked the disabled, seniors, veterans, homeless, the mentally ill, and the poor. Next came teachers, firefighters, and public servants. They went after them with a viciousness that would give Satan pause. Next week, they will cut 4 billion in education, health care, and environmental programs. They say they are all about sacrifice... which they are--for others. It never entered their radar to close the billion dollar tax loopholes for the powerful, or have lawmakers give up thier SWEET $2 a week govt healthcare!
It got worse with legalizing payoffs, gun-nut legislation, eviscerating worker's rights, destruction of our environmental laws, no less than 18 attacks on women's rights (including the forced rape bill), etc., etc.
Not that they didn't care about jobs... the Fleabag lawmakers who decried bloated government hired tons of cronies and paid them handsomely. For the rest of us, there was one fix-all for our high unemployment: DE-regulation. Apparently, we are so desperate for jobs that the assholes actually proposed bringing back shady businesses that had fled the state. Dishonest mechanics, telemarketers, moving companies, and timeshare scams can now LEGALLY rip you off with impunity, but that's okay because they are hiring! Thanks!! (Much better jobs than that Obamarail!)
It's truly a wingnut's wet dream here. And just like a dictator who has fallen out of favor, the Fleabag lawmakers are pulling all stops to cling to power. There are only two main obstacles: an awakened, angry electorate and the court system, our third branch of government. The Fleabag lawmakers have already taken care of the electorate with a fast-tracked, blatant voter suppression bill that I covered in my last diary. Rachael Maddow devoted her show to it last week. So there's that.
So that just leaves us with the state judiciary. So far, the courts have not been willing to play ball with the GOP. You see, before there were highly-advanced computer models that drew districts to gaurantee GOP victories, there were actually Democrats in office. Heck, we even had Dem goopers in the 80s and 90s. There are still Democratic appointees left in the court system throwing wrenches into power plays.
Then the Florida Supreme Court did the unforgivable last year. Not only did they NOT throw out two grass-roots citizen-led initiatives (amendments 5 & 6) that would end gerrymandered districts in our legislative and congressional elections, but they had the audacity to throw out the GOP legislature's ominous Amendment 7--which was an amendment the legislature tried to sneak in that would "clarify" 5 & 6 if they passed. And by clarify, I mean overturn. It was so misleading that Judge Shelfer said it took him three days to understand what was written; and he tossed it off the November ballot.
With nothing to confuse the voters, amendments 5 & 6 won handily. The GOP could NOT let this stand. Judges, like the electorate, had to know their place in the new order. So here is how the state legislature is working over Florida's judiciary:
1. SB 1504, sponsored by GOP Sen. David Simmons, will revoke the Florida Supreme Court’s power to remove any proposed constitutional amendment from ballot just because it is "misleading to voters".
Think about that for a second.
2. The Fleabags are attempting to disband the Judicial Nominating Commission, which currently chooses nominees for the Supreme Court and state courts. The commission was created to take politics out of the courts. Instead, the new plan has the executive branch, under Gov. Voldemort, be the SOLE authority to nominate state and Supreme Court justices. The public and the non-partisan Florida Bar would not longer have ANY input. (Take that, bitches!)
3. Currently the state Supreme Court has 7 justices. Four were appointed by Republicans and three by Democrats. Under House Speaker Cannon's plan, Gov. Voldemort will get to name three Supreme Court justices immediately. THEN the court would be divided into two-- with the three remaining Democratic judges moved to a newly created criminal division.
This will ensure that when the redistricting maps hit the state Supreme Court, they will be ALL right-wing appointments. Nice. They can't even justify this one. This scheme will cost $21 million dollars when we can least afford it, and Cannon's claim that this will ease the court's "heavy caseload" ignores the fact that the court's caseload is now the lowest in 10 years!
4. The state legislature is giving itself the authority to nix judicial rules and procedures put in place by the Supreme Court. No power grab there.
5. The bar for judges to win re-election will be 60 percent! There is currently NO elected office in Florida that requires that. (By the by, our teabag governor got under 50 percent.)
6. Punish the courts by cutting their funding. In the same breath the state legislature is saying they want to increase efficiency, their budget cuts the high court's staff more than 50 percent. That'll learn 'em! (Staff increased for the other two branches, by the by.)
Every bar association, independent legal scholar, major state paper and national papers, including USA Today, call this scheme for what it is: a powergrab and payback.
Thankfully, some of these issues, like changing the make-up of the court, will require voter approval as a constitutional amendment. We need to begin fighting back.
I don't know about you guys, but I am sick of all this. I will be up to 100 posts by the end of this year alone. Let's start taking our anger and turning it into action.
First, I am calling on activists to start a citizen-led initiative to automatically fund the state judiciary with 1 percent of the state's budget. Currently, it is under .07%, and the legislature vindictively cuts it when they throw a tantrum. It is so bad that the judiciary had to beg for a $14 million infusion just to keep operating to the end of April! The courts cannot count on the legislature to do the right thing, and neither can we.
Second, speaking of citizen-led initiatives, some are trying to get a constitutional amendment to allow recall of public officials. Add your voice to this effort. Maybe the threat of a recall will give some of them a moment before trying to abuse power. It can't be worse than it is, so I say go for it.
Third, talk to people. You have the advantage of knowing what is going on. You know there is nothing "Christian" about what these Fleabaggers are trying to do. Don't be afraid to speak up. Most people get their information from commercials, which is to the GOP's advantage because they are bankrolled by massive corporations and powerfully wealthy folks. (To hear teabags talk, Trump, Koch bros., the oil companies, etc. are all outmatched by George Soros.) Let them know that the super rich and powerful don't need their help.
Fourth. Contact your legislator! Tell the Democrats to learn to fight in court, and tell the GOP that you know exactly what they are doing. It costs nothing, and some conservatives are actually getting nervous if thier scheme to stop fair districts fails. It can't hurt to speak your mind to them.
Fifth. Register people to vote. There are many more of us than them, and I for one will not be intimidated by the legislature's attempt to criminalize voting registration. F*&^ YOU! I'm ticked and next year I will volunteer.
Sixth. Donate. Whether its to a candidate or an organization fighting the Fleabaggers, they need help. Even a small amount adds up.
Sixth. VOTE. FOR GOD'S SAKES VOTE!!! Don't stay home to "make a point". The state Dems have no power as it is, and the weak-assed national Dems won't get the message anyway... they will think they need to compromise even more. But despite the complete control of this state by the right-wing nuttia, the high unemployment will NOT be blamed on the GOP. It will still be blamed on Obama or some other liberal boogeyman. (15 years of GOP rule, and Gov. Sick Rott still says the problem is "liberal" regulation?) All of us people not blessed with ignorance will watch more rights be taken away, more punishment, more suffering because of a mobilized, but very stupid, minority.
I know things seem dark now, but if my series has done anything I hope it will inspire my fellow citizens in the occupation to do just a little more than you planned to do. I hope those outside the state will contribute to our causes and candidates and not forget about us here come 2012. One day, we may get a legislature and governor we deserve.... state officials that do things FOR Floridians, not TO them.