Friday, February 28, 2014

ACTION: Florida Legislature Watering Down Medical Marijuana Initiative

The following is a repost from lunachickie

While Floridians have gotten medical marijuana on the November ballot, the current legislature appears to be trying to do an end run around it's usefulness. Bills have been introduced in both the Florida Senate and the House, which essentially limit "medical grade marijuana" to a substance that contains no more than 0.5 percent or less of any THC and at least 15 percent cannabidiol.

A substance: A. The letter A is really important here. In the world of marijuana, there's a grade called Charlotte's Web. Charlotte's Web is to typical marijuana--whether it's the truly medicinal type you get from a clinic or a doctor or the kind that comes from Joe Blow from Kokomo and his basement grow-room--as 3.2 beer is to Coors Light. That's about the only grade of "marijuana" you can get to smoke which meets this criteria:

0.5 percent or less of any THC and at least 15 percent cannabidiol (CBD).

Obviously, you can get this dose in a pill form. But it's practically worthless overall, if that dose in that form isn't going to help medicate what ails you. Let me let a professional explain it better:

Patients across the state are thrilled Legislators are beginning to realize the awesomeness of medical use of cannabis. What they fail to realize is just as the children with seizures get miraculous benefits from a high CBD/low THC strain of cannabis, that is one strain and one ailment. The rest of the patients gain just as miraculous benefits for their ailments with other strains. The rest of the patients need the rest of the medicine.

The current legislature has taken this restriction up in the form of two bills, FL SB 1030, and FL HB 843. You and me and anyone else who wants to see medical marijuana statutes be worth the paper they're printed on in the state of Florida need to get on the phone ASAP and call your Florida Senator and Representative--and email them while you're at it--and tell them to defeat this nonsense and support SB 962 – Medical Use of Cannabis. That is the responsible piece of legislation and is meant to legalize all the medicine for all the patients, as the writer says.

We NEED your voice, it is critical that this sneaky subterfuge not be allowed to stand.

Contact your FL Rep here.

Contact your FL Senator here.

Let me note now, so no one gets confused--the quoted paragraph from the "professional", and the link, came from a news site over in the next county from me. The gist of the actual story is about our pols "ethical dilemma" (and how they're seeking spiritual guidance) on legalizing A Drug. The paragraph above is part of a comment in response to that article. And the comment itself is amazingly full of excellent medical information, along with the information which alerted me to this situation. The author posted at 11:01 pm on 2/25, I urge you to read her post! (I can't link it separately).

What irritates me so completely is that this "news story" makes no mention of this anywhere. And I haven't seen this anywhere else, but I looked up the legislation and there it was--it appears exactly as the comment describes it.

FL Chain Charging Customers ACA "Fee"; yet STILL Not Providing Workers Healthcare!

Crossposted DKos

Several locations of Gator's Dockside, a restaurant chain here in Central Florida, have posted notices on the doors, every table, and even in the bathrooms that they are charging customers an extra "fee" for the Affordable Healthcare Act. They claimed they are doing this so they can afford to comply with the ACA and provide healthcare for their employees.

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I heard about this story a few days ago, but didn't write about it because it just didn't seem like a big scandal to me. 1% of a fifty dollar meal is fifty cents. If that's what it costs to bring healthcare to all your employees, by all means, take my two freaking quarters.

I decided to give the owners the benefit of the doubt that they were doing this for the employees and not as a political ploy. I did think it odd they would put a seperate line item on the bill just for ACA. Afterall, they don't do this for Social Security, Medicaid, or any assortment of expenses they had--so why single out ACA except to make customers mad? But again, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because they were providing their employees healthcare.

Then I learned that independent franchisees (outside of the restaurants in GOP strangleholds, like the infamous and creepy "The Villages") weren't participating. They essentially told the media it was unnecessary and stupid.

Then I learned this:

Though the restaurant blames the new surcharge on Obamacare, the employer mandate, which will require Gator’s Dockside to provide coverage to 70 percent of its full-time employees, actually won’t go into effect until 2015.

OK. So it IS unnecessary and stupid. So they are charging customers for something they aren't even paying.

It's starting to look like a political stunt. (The Heritage Foundation and other right-wing sites ate it up). Several customers took to their facebook page to complain.

But I said to myself, hey, at least Gator's Dockside is taking care of their employees.

THEN I learned this!

Only the restaurant's managers are receiving healthcare currently, according to CNN Money.

What. The. @#*&?!??!!?

So you are not only charging your customers for something that doesn't exist, you aren't even providing your workers the healthcare you said you would!

Giving the GOP owners the benefit of the doubt. My mistake.

Rick Scott Tries to Enrich Donor for School Bid With Taxpayer Funds

The superintendent of Hillsborough County schools, MaryEllen Elia, reached out to MacDill officials to address their concerns regarding education for children living on the base. Elia offered to convert a local school into a K-8 school, and offered to run a charter school for MacDill if that was the route they wished to pursue.

Her calls were ignored.

The superintendent had a plan for the children, but Rick Scott had a better plan to enrich his friend and campaign donor:

Jonathan Hage sat on Gov. Rick Scott's education transition team. He and his company, Charter Schools USA, have given more than $100,000 to Scott's Let's Get To Work fund and the state Republican Party.

Now it appears it was Scott — or someone very close to him — who suggested Charter Schools USA run a school at MacDill Air Force Base.

Meeting minutes obtained by the Hillsborough County School District, which opposes the school, describe the origin of a plan that is at the heart of a battle before the Florida Board of Education. See more

Rick Scott Supports AZ Anti-Gay Bill But Too Cowardly to Admit It

What does it look like when you support something that you know will hurt your re-election?

This bit of awkwardness:

In an interview with host Chuck Todd on Wednesday Scott was repeatedly asked whether he thought Brewer should sign the bill. Other Republicans have said she shouldn't. Each time he was asked, Scott refused to answer saying he hadn't seen the legislation.

"Chuck, I've not seen that bill," Scott said in response to a question from MSNBC's Chuck Todd on the bill.

Holy Cow.

You are a tea party governor so of course you know you are going to be asked if you support it.

The full text of the bill is one page. You don't even need to read the whole thing (definitions and legal-eaze make up most of it).

Chuck tried one more time.

"Do you think religious -- do you think a bill like that, religious beliefs, should be used as a basis of denying services to a gay couple?"

"I haven't seen the bill, but I can tell you I'm trying to recruit companies every day to our state," Scott said.

If Chuck really wanted to see Rick dance he could have read him the key paragraph about discrimination and asked if he agreed with it.

Of COURSE Rick supports the bill. But he's not going to say it. In fact, if it was presented to him this year I would bet he would veto it because it would be the death-knell of his campaign. But I guarantee you that if Rick's voter suppression succeeds and he squeaks by another victory... you will definitely see this bill become law in Florida.

Maine GOP Rep Apologizes for Saying Men Should Get to Rape Women... Because Abortion

The GOP's growing chart may need an update. Perhaps a new bar at the bottom redefining rape as "pursuit of sexual freedom"?

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It took 18 years, but Lawrence Lockman finally apologized yesterday for comments he made as press-secretary of a pro-life group on the issue of violence against women:

"If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?” Lockman said. “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

Talk about being unfit for office.

Note to Lockman and others: if you have taken to defending rape as your argument against abortion, maybe its time to reconsider your position.

Lockman has been Gov. LePage's most staunch ally. He is the quintessential teabagger. He refused to pay his taxes, uses hate speech, and is a proud bigot. He has a decades-long history of saying stupid and very offensive comments, which would have been useful if compiled before his recent election in 2012.

I have never heard of a Democrat having to apologize for making rape comments... the GOP can't seem to help themselves. The Democrats need to spotlight these comments front and center because it shows the world what kind of people they really are.

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Gov. LePage and Rep. Lockman, two peas in a pod

WOW! It's up to 177 Reasons Now!

I normally would update after every 5 reasons, but I found a whole lot of them in my most recent check of my fave sources (this blog, plus Too good to keep!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Florida's Tea Party Government Forcing Firefighters to Fight Wildfires Alone

Crossposted on DKos
#95 of My Stupid State

A story that isn't getting much attention. A few days ago a representative from the Florida State Fire Service Association literally begged the Florida Legislature: "Please stop sending us to wildfires alone!"

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Naturally, Rick Scott thinks this is dandy. The expensive private attorneys hired to defend stupid decisions by the State (and they do very well the past few years) said the National Standards for Firefighters somehow don't apply to those firefighters who fight forest fires--because that makes sense.

Scott's Chief Labor Negotiator, Mike Mattimore, made some ludicrous statement along the lines that we would have to double up all high-risk jobs, like child protective investigators: "We can't go doubling them all up".

They estimate it would cost 2.9 million to bring them in compliance with national standards. Even assuming that is the case, I would be more inclined to believe that Rick Scott is just being fiscally responsible if it wasn't for the fact that he was recently demanding that the legislature spend $100 million to subsidize tourism executives!

But the difference is that 100 million helps his corporate backers whereas this only saves lives of some blue collar rescue workers. So screw 'em.

Tommy Price, President of the Florida State Fire Service:

“It really is amazing that when presented with a major safety concern like this of sending a firefighter alone to a fire at any time, someone in the Governor’s Office or DMS could not address the issue at their level and now these state firefighters have to go to the Legislator and beg them for this change…"

Retired Wildland Firefighter Sayer explained how small fires can turn to an inferno in no time:

Let me put this out there: As a single resource on a 25 acre fire one night, the wind shifted as I was headed up the right flank of this fire. I wasn’t even half way up the flank, so now I’m on the rear of a 50 acre fire.

He also smacked down the argument that sending one more firefighter would strain resources:

[The fire] required another District, 6 more dozers, 2 engines and extra Supervisors and took over 12 extra hours to put out what ended up being an 800 acre fire. Oh no, let’s not “tie up” one more firefighter when we can commit dozens later. Feel free to show this to the powers that be.

Wildfires in this state are devastating and deadly. Firefighters shouldn't have to beg to get the basic standard.

The Commissioner of Agriculture oversees the Florida Forestry Department. His name is Adam Putnam--naturally an ally of the incompetent trifecta of Rick Scott and Pam Bondi.

Throw them all out this November.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Now It's 170 and Counting

My list of non-partisan reasons to boot Rick Scott is now up to 170. Items 163-167 are the new ones. Kudos again goes to the Seminole Democrat for inspiring a couple, and I also got a "threefer" out of Rick Scott's latest song and dance over flood insurance rates. Hypocrisy sure offers a lot of opportunities for Rick to make a fool of himself.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

DISGRACEFUL: Orlando Sentinel Runs Letter Justifying Fear of Blacks

Crossposted as a Rec diary on DKos

Dixie Tate was the Letters/Readers Forum editor for the Orlando Sentinel for 31 years and was replaced by Terri Winefordner in 2008. I have been on the whole disappointed in her selections, but today I am downright outraged. Out of the hundreds to thousands of letters she gets I cannot fathom why she decided to feature this one, on Sunday no less: 1 reader threatened by black male youths" by Scott Davis of Deltona:

Regarding Jeremy Levitt's column, "Hassle Doctrine denies justice for young black males in Fla.," in Thursday's Sentinel:

Levitt hit the nail right on the head when he stated, "Floridians naturally consider black male youth threatening."

No, its only "natural" to fear the pigmentation in someone's skin if there is something wrong with you. (And wait...blacks don't count as Floridians?) But please, let's hear your justification of racism:

Just turn on the local news at 6 p.m., and you see a substantial number of young African-American males arrested for a variety of violent crimes night after night. It is the same when you read the local newspaper.

The local media here does love to focus on the "dangerous black kid", which is what the Sentinel is doing right now. That is why we have "Stand Your Ground" laws that allow scared white people to shoot and kill unarmed black teens. The news media chooses what they focus on, and they choose to focus on the violent black youth myth. The media here never leads with issues that are far more likely to actually kill you, like our Governor closing TB hospitals, cutting healthcare or allowing severe pollution in our water. No, the "guy with the gun" will always lead the story--especially if its a black guy.

In the 24 years I have run my own business, I have been robbed three times. All by young black males.

I live in a gated community, and last year, while I was at work, my home was burglarized. My surveillance cameras recorded two young black males committing the crime.

Naturally, we will take your word, Scott. The Sentinel sure did. It does fit into your preconceived narrative of African-Americans having a proclivity for being violent against whites--and make no doubt, THAT is what Mr. Davis is arguing.

And its bullSh---. The reality is most crime is intraracial. 86% of white victims were killed by white offenders, and 94% of black victims were killed by black offenders.

I did my own research and was shocked to find the disproportionate numbers of black-on-white crime in the United States.

Googling black-on-white crime will lead you to a ton of right-wing and supremacist sites, which is where he no doubt got his "research". Again, as I pointed out, most murders are actually intraracial, not interracial. But the Anti-Defamation League says white supremacists are hyping claims of a so-called "epidemic" of black-on-white crime as propaganda to instill fear.

The numbers are disproportionate, but not in the way Mr. Davis thinks. According to the FBI, in 2011, there were 3,645 victims of racially motivated hate crimes. Nearly 72% of them were victims of an offender's "anti-black bias," as the FBI puts it. The victims of an "anti-white" bias? Only 16%! Black youths have more to fear from Mr. Davis than the other way around.

He closes:

Yes, I do find many black youth threatening, and with good reason.

The words of a bigot in Florida do not disturb me. For they are many, they are legion.

The fact that Central Florida's only major newspaper chose to give their limited but loud platform to filthy fear-mongering on their most popular day with no opposing viewpoint is what disturbs me. And spare me any defense that this somehow contributes to a "discussion" on race. The letter's entire point is to say its okay to fear someone based solely on their skin color. What exactly does that contribute?

Scott Davis doesn't have to live in fear everyday of being a white bigot. The same can't be said of innocent black teenagers, who today in Florida can be gunned down because their audacity to exist can be a capital offense. I know of a mother who is absolutely TERRIFIED to let her happy, brilliant, and yet black teenage son out of the house for running into a white "thug" who, according to the verbiage in SYG, only has to claim he was terrified for his life. For bigots like Mr. Davis, being black is all that qualifies.

And thanks to you, Terri Winefordner. Your decision to feature inaccurate, hate-filled, white supremacist propaganda adds nothing to rational discourse but it does make it that much harder for this young man to go out---and a lot easier for someone to "stand their ground" against him.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Rick Scott rejected high speed rail stimulus funding: Now supports rail project with ties to top aide

Hattip to Pakalolo:

Gary Fineout of the Associated Press reports:

The $200 million that Florida Gov. Rick Scott pledged this week to put toward a train depot at Orlando's busy international airport also will benefit a company that previously employed the governor's chief of staff.
Adam Hollingsworth worked for companies connected to the company behind All Aboard Florida, a private passenger line that would link central and South Florida. All Aboard Florida stands to get a significant boost from the airport depot.

Text messages obtained by The Associated Press show Hollingsworth discussed the rail project with a top aide in the Scott administration while he was still working for Flagler Development Group and Parallel Infrastructure.

Three years ago, Scott scuttled a planned high-speed rail line linking Orlando and Tampa after he rejected billions in federal aid awarded to the state. He said the project was too risky and predicted the state would wind up subsidizing the project because ridership and revenue projections were "overly optimistic."

Florida's $2.6 billion high-speed project would have been paid for almost entirely by the feds. Washington had agreed to send Florida all but $280 million of its cost. And some companies vying to run the trains indicate they'd cover the state's share. They were willing to do that because they believe running the Orlando-Tampa route would give them a leg up on operating a second high-speed rail line from Orlando to Miami — and other fast trains outside Florida.
I think Rick Scott rejected the high-speed project so that it would project a badge of honor among this tea-bagging governors desire to curry favor with the conservative base. And also, because, well, President Obama is black.

Rick Scott has no such concerns with the Orlando Airport project.

Scott told the AP on Thursday that the request from the airport "made sense" because Orlando is growing and because he wants to attract more tourists to the state. He did not answer when asked if he had spoken to Hollingsworth about the project.

Florida East Coast Industries announced in March 2012 that it would spend $1 billion to build the All Aboard Florida line by combining 200 miles of existing tracks and 40 miles of new track between Miami and Orlando.

At the time, Hollingsworth worked as CEO of Parallel Infrastructure, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries. On his job application with the state, Hollingsworth said he was responsible for helping with sales, marketing and "growing the business into new markets."

Hollingsworth stepped in as chief of staff after Steve MacNamara abruptly resigned following a series of news stories detailing his job performance and handling of contracts. Hollingsworth, who spent time as chief of staff for then-Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, had ties to Scott's campaign manager and had worked previously for the railroad company CSX.

Hollingsworth, who worked on Scott's transition team in late 2010, exchanged several text messages with Scott's deputy chief of staff shortly before the All Aboard Florida project was publicly announced.

Hours before the release came out he texted Carrie O'Rourke and told her she would get a copy of it in advance. "If you see any hiccups, let me know," Hollingsworth texted. "Thanks for all your help."

Last year, All Aboard Florida reached an agreement with Orlando International Airport to develop its central Florida rail station at the depot the airport wants to build south of the main terminal. The nearly $700 million project includes a people mover that will shuttle passengers between the rail station and the airport.

All Aboard Florida's site states the project has economic and environmental benefits. I don't disagree that economic and environmental benefits will result, but for the economic benefits it sounds like it will be going to Rick Scotts friends, aides and contributors. This will be a massive project almost to the scale of the funds rejected by Scott previously. The difference is the high speed project President Obama offered was shovel ready and would have employed tens of thousands of workers who desperately needed the jobs.

* Travel time: The new passenger rail service will transport passengers between downtown Miami and Orlando in approximately three hours.

* Schedule: All Aboard Florida will offer hourly service starting in the early morning with last departures in the evening. All Aboard Florida is also determining tailored schedules for special events and venues.

* Stations: Station design is advancing. The route will include stations in downtown Miami and Orlando, with intermediate stops in downtown Fort Lauderdale and downtown West Palm Beach. Stations will provide access to international airports, seaports and existing transit systems.

* Services and amenities: The new passenger rail service will provide premium amenities, including Wi-Fi internet service, gourmet meals, reserved seating, and will be fully equipped with easy-on/easy-off baggage compartments.

The approximately $1 billion project will operate on a regular schedule throughout the day, transporting passengers between South Florida and Orlando in approximately three hours. All Aboard Florida estimates it will create 6,000 direct jobs to construct the system and over 1,000 more jobs to operate and maintain it.

Why the AZ "anti-gay" law is a lot worse than you think

Crossposted on DKos

Has anyone supporting this legislation actually read this bill?

I did. You should to. Full text is here.

First off, it is the most amateurish and poorly written bills I have ever seen.

And I live in Florida. Florida! Where our legislators offer bills criminalizing wearing pants too low or photographing pastures. Heck, we even have a law written so poorly it essentially allows people to shoot people they don't like...

And I can tell you with certainty that even here in Florida this bill would not pass.

(Not because our legislature isn't just as bad, but because we have a powerful tourist industry that would never allow their legislative minions to put something out that would screw them over so royally.)

The key portion of this bill contains these idiotic condition statements that blow my mind. It says that you can discriminate against someone as a religious exercise and seek relief in a judicial proceeding as long as three things happen:

1. That the person's action or refusal to act is motivated by a religious belief.

2. That the person's religious belief is sincerely held.

3. That the state action substantially burdens the exercise of the person's religious beliefs.

Hard to know where to begin. "Sincerely held". WTF? How the hell do you measure/judge someone's sincerity? ("I kicked 'em out because of my religion, but to be honest I'm not all that sincere about it")

Moreover, the media is hyping this as an "anti-gay" bill. Nowhere does the word "homosexual" or "gay" appear. This bill goes waaay beyond sexual orientation. It simply says that anyone can get a pass if sued for discrimination as long as its a A. religious belief B. sincere (I'm super cereal about that!) and C. the government is giving you grief about it (which is why you'd be in court in the first place).

In other words, anyone can use bigotry to discriminate against anyone as long as they claim its religious.

Don't like those brown people? (Which apparently is a thing in Arizona) Throw 'em out of your bar. Dark-skinned people are God's curse. Its my religion, your honor.

Maybe you just plain don't like black people. Maybe your religious beliefs align with Sharron Angle, who opposes the color black on religious grounds as "thoroughly evil", "ungodly" and "wicked". Guess what? AZ got your back.

Jews? Imperfect. Can't serve those who won't be saved.

Pregnant? Get out of my store! I hate out-of-wedlock parents! For that matter, I hate wedlocked parents to0! (I have an odd religion.)

Divorced? Have tattoos? Play football? Wear polyester? All are banned in the Bible. Also, Leviticus says male gays are an abomination--which is exactly what it says about people who eat shrimp.

Jesus spoke in every book of the New Testament about the evils of greed and excess wealth. You might say He was focused on that. So if anyone should be turned away it should be those with money. (Which I doubt you'll ever see). At this point I'd quote all the vicious things He said about homosexuality, but it was apparently so offensive to Him that He never mentioned it at all... not once.

Sure, SEM, you may say. This bill flies in the face of federal laws that protect Americans from discrimination by race and religion, which means lawsuits are going to flood this state when that inevitably happens. You would think a state awash in debt might think twice, but not if there's another group of people it gets to hate.

Arizona must LOVE boycotts. Arizona was subjected to a mass boycott after they became the first state to rescind MLK day in 87. (They finally caved and now even celebrate a way). In 2010, a white supremacist state senator named Russell Pearce sponsored and passed the first Anti-Brown law, which has cost the state hundreds of millions in lost revenue. Now they get to target the gays along with the added bonus of codifying their bigotry for pretty much anyone. If Janet is dumb enough to sign it into law, AZ will get to have their biggest boycott yet.

It is true that the reason behind the bill, and the media obsession, is the anti-gay agenda set forth by the fundamentalist Christian bigots who claimed they wanted the right to oppose the "sinful lifestyle" of gay unions. As Erick son of Erick said on RedState, he does not oppose "the gays" (although he says he is dangerously close to starting to if they keep demanding rights), he just wants the right of people to refuse to support the celebration of a gay marriage:

...there was no proof that the business owners refused to serve gays. In fact, in more than one case they could show that they did, in fact, have gay customers. But they did not want to provide goods or services to a gay wedding because of their religious beliefs.

But this bill doesn't even do that, genius. It does exactly what you said it wouldn't do, allow you to refuse service to gays JUST FOR BEING GAY. For that matter, it allows you to refuse service to anyone for any personal-held bigotry as long as you say its religious.

If I lived in Arizona, my only solace would be that I can deny service to any right-wing Christian bigot, which is against my religion. You see, my God just really hates stupid people. Sincerely.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"No one cares about crazy people"- Scott Walker's Staff Mocks Dead Mentally Ill Woman

Its like the 2010 teabag governors compete on who is the biggest bastard.

I primarily write about the pain and embarrassment that Rick Scott is to Florida, but I have to give mad props to Scott Walker in Wisconsin for nipping at his heels.

By now you've heard of the Walker email scandal. His closest aides have been discovered with disturbing emails ranging from highly offensive to highly racist. This newly discovered one is just depraved.

Scott Walker was a Milwaukee County Executive during the scandals of the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. This facility was a mess and had serious issues with sexual assaults (one of the patients even got pregnant).

Scott Walker didn't give a rat's ass except for saving his own. He laid out in an email his priority:

“We need to continue to keep me out of the story as this is a process issue and not a policy matter.”

Rapes are a "process issue" not a "policy issue". Got it.

Zero concern for the patients or problems at the facility. The only concern was that he not be implicated. Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff referred to the facility as "our looney bin" and coordinated with Walker's campaign, illegally mind you, to deflect criticism of Walker's handling of the mismangement.

Things got very ugly when a young woman named Cindy Ancza, who was once a healthy pharmicist technician, was unfortuntely placed in that facility when she became mentally ill. She died of starvation there, losing 22 lbs in a few weeks.

Ancza's distraught parents filed a legal complaint against the facility. Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff forwarded it to Walker and told him it wasn't public. Walker emailed back "Then we should not make it public".

The following is a transcript between Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleisch corresponding (again, illegally) with a County official and with Walker's campaign manager Keith Gilkes through personal email:

Gilkes: "Ok - any time after Nov. 2nd would be the time to offer a settlement"

Rindfleisch: "[Democratic opponent] Barrett is going to make this the center of his campaign"

Joan Hansen, County official: "yep and he is still going to lose because that is his base"

Rindfleisch: "Yep. No one cares about crazy people."

These are the people running your government.

Fight the voter suppression and get out the vote. Send the teabaggers back to the slime-filled rock they crawled under.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Six People Die Per Day Because of Rick Scott

Over a million Floridians should have medical care but for pure spite, they don't. The GOP legislature here in Florida, which pays 8 bucks a month for health care funded by us taxpayers, denied health care for millions of Floridians.

Harvard University and the City University of New York estimated between 7,000-17,000 AVOIDABLE deaths would occur because Medicaid expansion was rejected. This means Charlie Crist was right on point by saying his fellow Floridians are dying needlessly:

"[Scott] said he was for it, Medicaid expansion, for about 30 seconds. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but not much," Crist said on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown." "Didn't lift a finger to get it passed."

"What are the results? About a million of my fellow Floridians are not getting health care today, and I am told by friends at SIEU (sic) that means that six people in Florida die every day as a result of that. Every day," Crist continued...

"If people are sick, and they aren't getting health care, what happens? They usually get sicker, or they die," Crist added, calling the claim "common sense."

Orlando 3D Printing Company Selling Chris Christie Traffic Study Figurines

The guys at Orlando-based nuProto are at the cutting edge of 3D printing, which is a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material. Their latest creation was featured on Hardball with Chris Mathews. Its a Chris Christie "Bridgegate" action figure. Keep in mind that each one is made on demand from a 3D printer, not a plastic mold.

You can get one at shapeways. (If that's not your speed, they also have a Vladimir Putin sex toy. Good work, guys!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crist: Life of the (New) Party

Florida’s next governor’s election is still months away, but it is at least certain that Charlie Crist will play a major role in it – even if he does end up eventually ceding to someone else in the Democratic primary. His memoir, The Party’s Over, is a well-timed effort that is part biographical, and part election tactic. A very wise tactic. People have a lot of questions about Crist’s loyalties, and he makes a plausible attempt to explain himself.

I use the word “plausible” on purpose. Crist is still a politician, and I take any word coming out of the mouth of a politician with a grain of salt.  I’m sure critics will claim there are flaws in his explanations, and some of them may end up even being right. But for the record, here’s a rundown of points that may interest readers of this blog.

Crist explains his decision to run for the Senate in much the same way I expected, when responding to Scott fanatics who say he “abandoned” Florida. Crist explains that he felt that, during a national crisis, he could be of more service to Florida serving as a senator than as a governor. And that's undoubtedly true.

He explains his gradual conversion from Republican to Independent to Democrat in terms of realizing his ideology was becoming less suited to an increasingly mean-spirited Republican Party that was coming under the sway of Tea Party fanatics. Crist identifies himself as a Republican, in the earlier time, in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt: Populist, conservationist, and so on.  He also says that his decisions to first run as an Independent, and then as a Democrat, were not his idea from the start, but ultimately, were reactions to suggestions made by others. These points blunt criticisms of Crist as a turncoat, which are already a fundamental part of the Rick Scott (non-)campaign.

Crist doesn’t spend as much time in this book arguing for his views as he does explaining them. He often expresses surprise that others can hold contrary views. I wish he’d argued more for his views, even on points with which I disagree with him. But maybe he didn’t have to. This book seems to be more about energizing his potential voting base than convincing those with different views to change their minds. Having dealt so much with Scott fanatics whose minds are impervious to new ideas, I can understand why Crist wouldn’t bother with arguments. 

He describes the Scott administration in much the same way this blog’s authors would. Scott squeaked to a win with barely a few tens of thousands of votes, but acts like he won with a million-vote mandate. Dissenting views are not welcome at the table. Instead, the table is thrown into the pulper. (Crist’s image, not mine!)

There’s a chapter on Rick Scott as governor (“terrible,” Crist calls him). In the prior chapter Crist discusses the transition, and says Scott told reporters that Crist would be “hard to replace.” If he can get that quote on something recorded, he ought to use it as a response to that ad where Scott quotes Democrats badmouthing Crist. In the chapter on Scott, there’s nothing new – which is not to say, it is not relevant – except a personal story Crist tells of his longtime barber, whom he had appointed to the state barbering board. This hardworking, good-natured guy would have been slated to take over a national association related to his profession, but Rick Scott decided to cut him, and because of that, he was no longer eligible to become part of that national association.

That’s pretty well the Scott administration in a nutshell. Scott doesn’t care about people, or how hard they’ve worked to achieve their dreams. He could never portray himself as caring about people, which is a big advantage Crist (or any of the Democratic candidates) has over him. Many of Florida’s voters are starved for a government that knows the meaning of the word “compassion” after four years of being trashed and kicked into the gutter by Scott. 

It’s a pretty decent book. You should buy it. At the very least, it will annoy Rick Scott if you do.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yes I'm Angry! A Complete Abortion Rant For Florida and Beyond

Crossposted on DKos

2011. The tea party took full control of Florida and other states as well. Anti-abortion laws skyrocketed to an all-time high. Florida passed so many that Rick Scott actually threw an abortion assault party at the governor's mansion:

  • They passed the strictest parental notification law in the US.
  • They took license plate funds going to adoption services and diverted them to anti-abortion groups.
  • They prohibited insurance from covering abortion.
  • Last year, they even tried to remove Florida's privacy protection in our Constitution with an amendment vaguely disguised as something else.
  • Under Scott, Florida women must now undergo a medically unnecessary and expensive ultrasound. (Charlie Crist vetoed this bill in 2010 when it also required women to listen to the description on the ultrasound. I don't know exactly how they were planning to force them, but that's what the bill said.)
Next year we are faced with the personhood amendment. GOP Rep. Andy Gardiner summed up the justification: "We all say we are for less government, except here."

I was angry, but in July 2012, I hit a boiling point.

A federal judge finally allowed a Tampa Bay woman to seek damages for a horrible wrong. This poor woman was victimized three times. First, she was brutally raped. Second, when she tried to get help, she was instead thrown in jail for an outstanding warrant (for a "failure to appear" charge when she was a juvenile). As bad as it was for the rapist to be walking free while the victim was thrown behind bars.... it got much worse. A "rape kit" procedure was performed and the Tampa Rape Crisis Center doctor prescribed two emergency contraception pills: one to take immediately and one 12 hours later. Yet when she asked the person running the jail for the second pill 12 hours later, she was denied because of the jailer's "religious beliefs".

Florida has a broad refusal clause that allows people other than just pharmacists to deny prescription medication. Now call me cynical, but I believe the most personal decision a woman can make, the decision to have a baby, should at least include the woman. Since she will be the one to raise it, take care of it, and financially support it, I just think she should have some say in this. I don't think a monumentous decision to have a baby should be made only by a violent criminal and an ideologically-driven jailer. (I don't say "religious" jailer because the terrible things that go on at that jail, like throwing a quadriplegic out of his wheelchair, isn't religious in any sense of the definition.)

Ideologically-driven crusaders not only defended the jailer's actions but regarded the jailer as some sort of hero. Its easy to blow these people off, but in our state they "serve" in the legislature. The only thing worse than an ideologically-driven crusader is one with legislative power...

Because it is here that our leaders see nothing wrong with people denying prescription drugs they don’t like, or promoting the rights of a soon to be discarded Petri-dish over a sick child, injecting themselves into a family fight over a legally dead woman, or making inappropriate pro-life license plates with proceeds going to deadly “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” that are actually state-funded anti-abortion propaganda centers that pretend to be professional health facilities.

Strangely enough, these folks lament the right of abortion while simultaneously promoting it. They oppose comprehensive sex education courses in favor of sexual ignorance, and make ridiculous cuts to our most vulnerable citizens that make it almost impossible to raise children in favor of tax breaks and giveaways for those who need it least. (This hypocrisy makes. me. ill.)

All of this is illogical if your goal is to curb abortions, but logic rarely enters into the abortion debate. It’s about feelings. The feelings of anger or even hate that I have for the fat, well-dressed man screaming at the frightened teenager in front of an abortion clinic are the exact same feelings the abortion protestors feel towards the poor teenager. (With the added glee of taunting “You Got to Play, Now You Got to Pay!”)

Forced birthers will fight for a fetus and insist it be given more rights than the mother. However, once the fetus becomes a baby, when NO ONE questions or debates that it is a life, they don't seem to care if it gets kicked to the curb. Food stamps, programs for the disabled, health care? They fight AGAINST these things while trying to force a woman to bear child. The same ones protesting abortion wouldn't consider lifting a finger to help improve the horrendous state of our orphanages, mentor a needy child, or, God-forbid, consider adoption as an option—especially if he or she is a minority. But they'll protest up a storm on the weekend. (One protester explained that God “called” him to protest, but probably others are “called” to do “that other kind of stuff”.)

I HATE self-righteous indignation. I hate even more people without morality, empathy, or common sense. If you are cursed with any or all of those values, then you understand my suffering.

Yes, I am angry. I can't write about abortion without getting angry. You so-called "pro-lifers" reading this probably feel the same way. I'm sure you are calling me names and spewing venom as you finish this sentence. I get it... but now that I've ranted, let me propose putting past our mutual contempt for just a moment and lets agree on SOMETHING:

By making it easier (and cheaper) to adopt, by making day-care more affordable, and by making it easier for those who need it to get the help they need to support their baby—abortion rates would DROP dramatically.

I can PROMISE you that this way would curb a lot more abortions than making it illegal ever could.

The abortion debate has devolved into arguments over legalization. What I would argue is that abortions will not stop if made illegal: the wealthy will be able to afford to go wherever it is legal, and the poor will return to the back-alley procedures. The fight over legalization is a losing strategy anyway: the reality is that newer abortion drugs will make most procedures requiring a clinic moot. Then what will you do? Its a heckuva lot easier to target clinics than try to stop a pill.

Besides, think this through. Suppose Roe is overturned and your favorite Southern state makes abortion illegal. Now suppose a woman decides to go to a clinic and drives to a state where abortion is legal or even to Canada or Mexico. Who exactly would be charged? The doctor? (Not likely, its legal where he or she is and your Alabama laws won't apply) The driver/parents? (Really?) The impregnator? (No, never the male) The woman? (This is usually the consistent answer from the protestors... although the suggested punishment I hear varies from jail to some sort of "counseling").

Let me ask you straight up: ARE you serious about curbing abortions or just in promoting a misguided ideology that only results in increased abortions? If you are really serious about curbing abortion, try giving the woman the support she needs so she will want to have a baby and be able to take care of said baby. Again, changing minds and offering support is not only the Christian thing to do, but in the end, is the only real viable thing to do.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Et tu, Jobs Governor?

I'm reading Charlie Crist's biography right now as part of research for my next major post, but in the meantime, here's a story of how yet another one of Rick Scott's beneficiaries of corporate, tax incentives -- is going down the tubes. Scott has given this company, Digital Risk, as an example of a job creator, and now they're laying off hundreds of people. Clearly he didn't have the business sense to recognize this bad risk when he saw it, huh?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Minority-Heavy Polling Places Eliminated in Florida County

Because they are bastards:

On a party-line vote, a Florida county’s Republican majority Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to eliminate almost one-third of Manatee County’s voting sites.
This was a proposal from right-wing elections supervisor Mike Bennett, who dismissed the unanimous opposition in the public meeting to eliminate dozens of polling sites in minority areas. Keep in mind that this is the guy who supported the Voter Suppression Act of 2011 by admitting he wanted to make it harder for people to vote:
I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Florida Hispanic Politician Switches to Democrat

You will recall last year that RNC's Florida Hispanic Director, Pablo Pantoja, switched to become a Democrat over his party's "culture of intolerance" and hate.

Today, he's joined by former State Representative and Republican activist Ana Rivas Logan--who ripped up her Republican voter registration card at a press conference.

She has had it with the Florida's GOP:

"It's a party that has been radicalized and held hostage by a group of extremists. It's a party that attacks women and minorities -- and one that asked me, and my former Hispanic Republican colleagues in the Florida legislature, to turn on their own people by supporting extreme anti-immigrant policies. It's a party I was no longer proud to be a part of."

What she's talking about is Rick Scott's obsession with bringing the Arizona-style anti-brown people law here to Florida. Because of her ethnicity, Mz. Rivas had continuously been pressured to support it--most recently by the new lieutenant governor.

The original bill, that Scott really wanted and promised to sign if it made it to his desk, was even worse that Arizona's. It explicitly exempted white people. (It was written that Canadians and Western Europeans were "presumed" to be here legally.)

To ask her to support such an atrocity must have been a punch to the gut. What is even more insulting is Rick Scott's backpedaling in an election year to seem less hateful. Recently, a FL GOP House aide was trotted out to say Rick Scott was actually very pro-Hispanic, but he's just "not flashy, he's quiet about it".

He's so superstealth about it, in fact, that it almost appears to the layperson that he is actually anti-Hispanic. If Rick Scott is really so pro-Hispanic, he has a funny way of showing it:

  • Vetoed a bill that passed overwhelmingly in both houses that would allow children of undocumented immigrants to obtain a temporary dr. license
  • Tried to illegally purge thousands of Hispanic voters from the rolls
  • Signed 2011 voter suppression law that vigorously targeted Hispanic voters; Hispanics stood in line the longest, were more likely to have to use a provisional ballot and almost twice as likely to have those ballots rejected
  • Still trying to bring AZ anti-brown law to Florida
  • Spent tax money to fight Latino resident citizens from claiming in-state tuition

Scott's pollster, Tony Fabrizo, determined that Scott can't win without some minority outreach. So Scott is in full pander mode. He recently said he would "consider" at some point letting DREAMers pay in-state tuition. His Lt. Gov. followed up by saying he couldn't even remember how he voted on it. (One guess as to how he did.)

So that should help.

Rep. Rivas is simply realizing what most Hispanics already know. Out of the two major parties in America, there is one party that is constantly apologizing for bigoted slurs, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and tolerance of think tanks that promote that Hispanics are permanently intellectually inferior--and another party that isn't.

For those two options, the choice is pretty clear. Welcome, Ana.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Rick Scott Just Blocked Early Voting for University Students

Crossposted on DKos

Breaking: Rick Scott is a freaking ass.

The city of Gainesville dealt with huge lines last year (as did most Democratically-leaning cities, with 6-hour waits). The city asked to use the University of Florida student union for early voting.

Rick Scott's corrupt Sec. of State, Ken Detzner, said NO.

Lori Edwards, Polk County Supervisor of Elections called it what it was: "Strategic. They're worried about young people voting."

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters, called it "jaw dropping to consider that we wouldn't open up the student union, the student library and other buildings on campus to make it easier for our leaders of tomorrow to start their civic duty of voting."

Are you ticked off? Take some action:

  • Progress Florida organized a phone campaign to complain and is gathering responses: Hook it up.
  • Let Rick know on his facebook page that all the voter suppression and scheming isn't going to make one iota of difference.
  • And, best of all, make this backfire on the bastard. Join Crist's campaign.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Today: Judge Who Let Off "Affluenza" Teen Murderer Rules Out Any Jail Time At All

Recall last year a 16-year old rich kid, intoxicated and on Valium, plowed into and killed four pedestrians. He was indignant and non-remorseful from the moment the cops arrived and throughout the trial. The defense attorney argued that the kid's "cushy upbringing" should set him free because it didn't allow him to understand the consequences. Incredibly, District Judge Jean Boyd agreed with the defense and awarded 10 years probation. America was introduced to a new term: affluenza.

Boyd, who had no trouble sentencing a less affluent black kid to a 10-year prison term for less, had the final opportunity to do the right thing this week.

She already ruled out any punishment for the guilty pleas of intoxicated manslaughter last year, but at the time did not sentence the teen regarding the intoxication assault charges for the people who didn't die but were severely injured (one is paralyzed and the other suffers severe injuries).

Prosecutors this week asked again for jail time.

Again, Judge Boyd said absolutely not. She closed the hearing and declined to add a separate verdict for the two disabled victims.

Maybe she thinks the kid will learn about responsibility when he goes horseback riding, does yoga and has chef-prepared meals at the Newport Academy in Newport, California.

Something for you to think about today as you muddle through your day as part of the "other" America.

Join the thousands who signed the petition to get Judge Jean Boyd OFF THE BENCH!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rick Scott's Voter Purge Sequel More Nefarious

#95 of My Stupid State

Ken Detzner took over as Sec. of State when the previous one, Kurt Browning, refused to go along with Rick Scott's incredible assault on voting rights and his voter purge that even Rick Scott admitted was flawed. Recall that Detzner put together a list in 2012 of about 180,000 "potential" noncitizens that conservatives touted to rile up their base. The problem was that it was complete bull*%&. A quick examination showed that the most of the names didn't belong on there. The most fundamental scrutiny of the list had it whittled down to 2600 names. It was then sent to election supervisors, and they found it riddled with errors. Democrats noted it disproportionately targeted Hispanics. It was whittled further down to 207. Then 198. Finally - 85. Keep in mind that this is out of almost 19.5 million people.

And how many prosecutable cases of voter fraud? One. Just one. And he wasn't even a Democrat. (I am gleeful that after all the money was spent they snared only one "gun enthusiast" who probably voted for Scott.)

So what does Rick Scott do for his election this year after such an epic fail? Apparently, weighs his options and decides all the bad publicity is worth trying to purge hundreds of thousands of voters again.

The ensuing bad publicity? Nothing a bus tour can't fix. Detzner conducted the "Project Integrity Tour" across Florida to "inform" the public about the new and improved voter purge.

THIS time things will be different.

THIS time, they will be much worse.

Now they are using the Department of Homeland Security System Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) to cross check our voter rolls. If you are not on this list, its enough for the Scott team to kick you off.

Here's the problem from the DOH's own website:

the inability of the SAVE Program to verify [a person's] citizenship does not necessarily mean that [the person is] not a citizen of the United States and ineligible to vote

So we have the Department of Homeland Security’s Memorandum of Agreement with Florida specifically stating it shouldn't be used to crosscheck citizens. Furthermore, this database is a fee-based system, which would make it far more expensive than the 2012 purge.

So why the hell are we using this database?

Rick Scott is making this database the end all, be all.... you had better be on it. This means that a lot of people who get kicked off, (people who have the surname 'Hernandez' for example), will have to spend a lot of time and money restoring what never should have been taken. A naturalized citizen will need to show their naturalization certificate-and God help them if they lost it. A replacement copy will take months and cost $345.

No answers as to why Rick Scott and Ken Detzner think it isn't enough to just fill out the affidavit of citizenship on the voting registration. That is a much simpler and cheaper way to prosecute and puts the onus on the state, not the citizen.

There are also no answers as to why thy are pushing an issue that doesn't exist. No research has been provided to anyone on this magical tour why the issue of in-person voter fraud is worth spending so much on--especially considering not one of the 67 Supervisors of Elections has asked for it.

People stood in line up to 9 hours in South Florida to cast ballots because they were angry their rights were being trampled on. You would think slick rick would have learned by now.