Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Corrections Barometer Forecasts Foul Weather

In an earlier post here I said we ought to keep an eye on how Rick Scott handles the crises in the Department of Corrections to see whether we would be getting Happy Face Rick Scott, or the same old Tea Party Scott. After the hiring of reformer Julie Jones as head of corrections, it looked a lot like we'd be getting Happy Face Scott.

It didn't take long for Tea Party Rick Scott to come roaring back from the grave, though.

Jones clearly admitted before legislators something that had never been admitted so openly before: that private prison vendors (favored by Scott and his business cronies) pick and choose the best inmates. The next day, testifying again, Jones retracted that statement, apparently having been re-educated.

Then Scott submitted his budget for corrections. Jones had had a wish list which meant a much bigger corrections budget. How much came true? Well, Scott suggested about $51 million more for the budget, but here's where that went:

Money to investigate increasing inmate deaths - $0.

Money for filling staff vacancies - $17.5 million. Some, but nowhere near what Jones wanted.

Money for raises for correctional officers - $0.

Money for the private vendors that took over health services, and have been in the news lately for not doing it properly - $7.9 million.

Money for security cameras - $1.7 million.

Money for construction and repair costs - $15 million.

I think we get the picture. Tea Party Scott is back with a vengeance, giving away tax dollars to his corporate friends while continuing to neglect the safety and welfare of the human beings that serve us in their dangerous jobs behind bars, as well as the health and safety of the incarcerated.

So what's next, now that this barometer leans Tea Party Scott? Sadly, unless the Legislature changes any of this, we may see more violence, more inmate deaths, riots, gang takeovers in the prisons, and worse before anyone wakes up. The question is whether it will happen before or after the 2016 Presidential election. If it happens before, then Scott may well have just handed Democrats the White House in 2016.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

FL Black Man Beat Up for Lawfully Carrying Gun: Zero Con Outrage

One thing you get used to in Florida in recent years is seeing people with guns walking around. Admittedly, they are mostly out-of-shape white dudes. However, this week, a 62-year old black man walked into Walmart. A white, middle-aged man saw the black man and spotted a holstered gun. He freaked out and screamed "He's got a gun!", then proceeded to tackle him. The white man punched him, held him down, then put him in a chokehold--all the while thinking he was a hero.

Problem was the old black man, Mr. Clarence Daniels, had a permit, as he repeatedly screamed as he was being choked by Mr. Michael Foster. The poor guy was just trying to buy coffee creamer.

Now just imagine if the races were reversed here. Imagine if an elderly white man with a gun was tackled by a black man. Two likely outcomes:

1. This would be a huge story on Fox News with many talking heads warning our 2nd amendment rights were in danger,
2. More hysteria from conservative media about black "thugs", and
3. Most likely, the black guy would have been killed.

Of course, since the guy who committed the assault was white and the law-abiding citizen was black, I haven't heard one peep about this from conservative media. No condemnation of the attack, and no outrage from gun nut groups. After all, Mr. Foster was only reacting to the minority hysteria that they all generate about scary black people. No chance if he was your typical fat, white redneck that he would have been tackled and choked.

Florida has the highest number of concealed weapons permits in the nation. Rick Scott and Adam Putnam held a celebratory press conference when Florida became the first in the nation to surpass one million. It was one day before the Sandy Hook massacre.

I'm all for a law-abiding citizen to own a handgun, but this should disprove the NRA talking about that walking around with one automatically makes you safe. In this case, the "bad guy", Mr. Foster, was able to wrest it away from Mr. Daniels pretty easily. If I was the victim here, I'd give serious consideration to pepper-spray instead.

This could have ended in mortal tragedy very quickly. If the victim was a lot quicker, he could have killed Mr. Foster; or, Mr. Daniels could have been killed by Mr. Foster by his own gun--both cases would have been legal under Florida's Stand Your Ground law since both could claim they feared the other.

Of course, in those hypothetical scenarios, my money wouldn't be on the white guy going to jail.

GOP State Senator Argues He Can Legally Drive Drunk

No, this is not an Onion headline. This is the argument that is currently being made by KY State Senator Brandon Smith, who is, ironically, the chair of the Transportation committee. He was recklessly driving 20 miles over the speed limit while intoxicated (.088 on a preliminary breath test).

Smith was quite distraught over this, and by this I don't mean the DUI itself but the fact that he was arrested at all. His attorney is using an obscure law that was written in the 1800s to get his client off that says:

"The members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses".

In other words, as long as Smith doesn't commit a serious crime, he can pretty much do anything he wants while the General Assembly is in session. Since the dumbass got wasted on the opening day of the KY legislature, Jan. 6, he could get off scott-free.

The law was written in the 1890s, the days of the old West, to keep unscrupulous people from preventing legislators from passing laws. It assuredly had nothing to do with shielding a disingenuous lawmaker from drinking and driving--especially since cars hadn't been invented yet.

If the judge applies the law, then I would think that he would simply be tried after the session. I really doubt that this law can be the magic bullet that Smith thinks it is to allow lawmakers to drive drunk, shoplift, or expose themselves.

However, other "experts" disagree with me and think he may end up getting off completely. Even so, Smith has infuriated his constituents--even his conservative ones, by not owning up to his actions. No one likes seeing privileged people getting away with crime (unless you live in Florida).

The GOP in Kentucky are amateurs. If you want to make it so that lawmakers can get away with misdemeanors, like taking bribes or shooting up a neighborhood, just legalize it. That's how we roll in the Sunshine State, anyways.

Is Happy Face Scott On the Way Out?

Our gracious host here broke the late news about the newest Scott scandal, so I won't steal his thunder. But I'd like to note what this will mean in the broader picture (especially if Scott ends up resigning in disgrace), and if, as I have said, a deal was brokered between him and lead GOP Presidential candidates like Christie and Jindal to be on his best behavior, in exchange for their campaign props.

Democrats, my advice as an independent voter: We have numerous recorded quotes from those GOP candidates during the campaign, saying how Scott was an honest man, a good man, a man of integrity.

Collect those quotes now and get ready to use them. Because they will be a gold mine when any one of those GOP candidates is on the stump in 2018.

That's all I'll say, other than that I have decided to remove my former blog (Rick Scott Must Go), for a couple of reasons. One is that I plan to do something else with the material soon. The other is that this blog has become my home for this sort of thing now, and it will serve to streamline some of my activities.

If I go quiet for a bit, it's because I'm working on something.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rick Scott's FDLE scandal blows open, demands probe

Scott Maxwell:

If someone accused Rick Scott of being a liar who abused the power of his office, I wouldn't normally call that big news..

I might just call it Tuesday.

Scott, after all, is one of the least popular governors in Florida history. And he's been dogged by critics since the day he stepped in office.

But the latest accusations against Scott aren't coming from longtime critics. They're coming from one of Florida's top law-enforcement officials — a respected veteran who worked closely with the governor for the past four years.

And that, my friends, is a big deal ... and why Scott now has a full-fledged scandal on his hands.

Read More

Naturally, AG Pam Bondi won't be anywhere to be found. If it's not about taking a bribe or fighting gay marriage, she's not interested.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What's the opposite of zero tolerance?

Remember when Rick Scott's top fundraiser, Miguel Fernandez, quit over two senior staffers who mocked Mexican accents?

Remember how afterwards the Rick Scott campaign smeared Miguel ruthlessly and Rick Scott himself personally defended the two racist staffers? Rick said they were doing a "great job". Rick Scott's campaign director, Curt Anderson, called Mike a "renegade donor", writing "bizarre emails", and slammed his resignation as "immaterial foolishness". Then Scott's campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, called him a liar.

Well, I guess it all worked out in the end and all of them finally got what was coming to them: Big, Fat Bonus Checks! Gawd, I hate this place.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rick Scott Barometer #2: Sunny Skies or Fair Weather?

In my earlier post I pointed out that Corrections will be a good barometer for whether we'll have Tea Party Scott or Happy Face Scott for the next two years. Will he allow reform, or choke it in the cradle? We now have a second barometer, though it is one we knew was coming: Education.

Keep in mind the genesis of this: Scott promised record per-student funding for Florida education, not as his own idea, but as a "yeah, me too" to Charlie Crist's demand that cuts to education be restored.

But will it make it through the Legislative sausage grinder unscathed?

And how will he pay for this increase, while supposedly cutting taxes at the same time?

In this case, watch carefully what the Legislature (GOP-dominated) does to Scott's proposal. If they disfigure it (not simply minor changes), see how he reacts. Will he demand that they do what he asks? Or will he give it the Medicaid expansion treatment, and remain silent?

Scott put himself between a rock and a hard place with this promise. But remember, if he makes good on it, it isn't because he cares about Florida. It's because he made a deal with the GOP Presidential hopefuls who campaigned for him (and even repeated his campaign lies) to behave himself so that the GOP could (they hope) capture Florida in 2016.

Will the barometer show that Scott is only be education's "fair weather" friend? Wait and see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If Darwin was right, we wouldn't be here...

So Florida...

a giant cockroach-choking-hazard-infested, Hooters-dining, reptile-abusing, Everglades-draining, election-ruining, stripper-motorboating, b*llsweat-Senate-genitalia-shaped, 24-hour mugshot factory.

And you're basically telling me you won't perform weddings for gay couples to "preserve the sanctity" of your courthouses for these people...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

So Rick Scott Wants To Run For President....

Oh Dear God WHY?

[Rick Scott] is a hugely divisive, charisma-free governor with a sketchy past, all of which might be overcome by his biggest asset: a vast personal fortune, which in American politics can fix just about any candidate's problems.

I honestly think he believes he can do this. Here's a man who should be serving time instead of office; and waking up every day in amazement of how much he gets away with-- and how little people in this state actually care. (I wake up every morning wondering the same thing.)

I really hope he goes for it. I do. I'd love for him to piss away his personal fortune that he amassed scamming people and selling favors. Also, maybe if he runs for president, someone will actually point out all the horrible things he's done to us as governor (unlike last time).

Of course, I am assuming the rest of America isn't as apathetic as Florida is towards our political leaders. Not only should I not underestimate America's apathy; I should also never underestimate how low the GOP will set the bar for their leadership positions.

Keep in mind I never thought "Gov. Rick Scott" would ever be a possibility either.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meet the new conservative rising star: Florida freshman "Democratic" Rep. Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham (D) won her seat in one of our rare, balanced districts of the red Northern section of Florida. Although District 2 has 16% more Democratic voters in the district than GOP, it normally leans GOP because that's how Florida voters roll.

She replaced a teabag incumbent that was so incredibly terrible, he couldn't even win in a red wave election. Steve Southerland was the guy who said that his $174,000 congressional salary "wasn't very much", that his job "didn't mean much" to him, and also justified a male-only fundraiser by saying he once went to a "lingerie shower". Really, he was that bad.

Democrats, including myself, worked hard for Gwen. She was the daughter of a popular, former Democratic governor and promised to fight for the working class. Graham won her seat.

And what has she done?

In her first week in Congress, she has voted with the GOP every single time.

  • She voted against ACA.
  • She voted for the Keystone pipeline.
  • She voted to gut Wall Street reform.
  • She voted against Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
She bragged on her facebook that she is setting an "independent" tone: if by independent you mean voting 100% of the time with your political enemy.

Let me tell you something, Gwen: the playbook you are using has never worked. I mean NEVER.

When Bush was astronomically unpopular, some republicans tried to run from him. They all lost. The Democrats who ran from Obama this past election? Landrieu, Grimes, et al? They got their wish--they won't be anywhere near him.

Bottom line: You can't run from your party. The GOP voters in your district are going to vote for GOP candidates. Period. There is never, ever, ever, a reason for them to vote for you. You can vote party-line GOP for the next two years and they will still not vote for you. The reason? A GOP candidate will do the exact same thing but will give the GOP a larger majority against Nancy Pelosi. You are tied to Obama and Pelosi whether you like it or not.

Maybe that was a problem for you. At least you were smart enough not to say it. However, I might add, if that was a problem for you, perhaps you shouldn't have run as a Democrat.

If anyone is wondering how a failed and evil party like the GOP is able to hold onto power, it's because of people like Gwen Graham, who refuse to accept victory.

In a few short years, and despite constant GOP opposition, our Democratic agenda under President Obama has turned this economy around. Low unemployment, record DOW, low gas prices, and 10 million Americans with health insurance.

With a track record like that, republicans would be trying to put Obama's face on Mt. Rushmore if he was one of them.

Instead, they attack and degrade at every turn. Imagine how much further along we'd be if the GOP actually put Country ahead of their failed obsession of trying to doom this nation's first minority presidency. What's silly these days is how the GOP switched from saying the sky is falling to now desperately trying to take credit for the turnaround. Mitch McConnell literally said the past 57 months of job growth was due to him becoming Majority Leader one week ago. Pathetic doesn't begin to describe it.

And yet, we still end up with losers in our party because we have Democrats like Graham running from her own platform. Instead of protecting the working class, Graham just joined the GOP in voting to shift insurance costs to working people from wealthy corporate families, like the Waltons.

Gwen Graham ran as a Democrat, but is governing like a teabagger. She is running from the very people, the ONLY people, willing to elect her.

If you think this is a winning strategy, please let her know:

As for me, I will be supporting her yet unnamed primary challenger.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Kid counts down from 21. Everyone loses it.

Something very powerful I wanted to share with you. Truly an amazing kid:

This One Picture Will REALLY Piss Off Florida Wingnuts

First gay couple in Florida to legally wed. A Sheriff's deputy (in uniform) to a former Marine.

On this blessed day, allow me to be the first to say: In your fat FACE Pam Bondi!

Congratulations are in order:

Detective David Currie, 50, and his now-husband Aaron Woodard, 33, tied the knot shortly after midnight on Tuesday, when the state legalized gay marriage.

And after requesting permission from his superiors, Currie walked down the registry aisle with full support of the Broward County Sheriff's to wed in uniform.

Does this disgust you, wingnut? Don't you support our cops/troops?? Why do you hate police officers??

Kudos to Scott Israel, Broward County Sheriff, for saying it was a "great thing" that the detective was proud enough of his agency to want to marry in his uniform.

We have finally turned a corner in this state. We went from rampant homophobia (perfectly encapsulated by former governor Jeb Bush's rant comparing gays to pedophiles and drunk drivers) to now seeing statewide support for marriage equality.

Marco Rubio and other backwards politicians are pushing Florida AG PamBo to continue to fight this already lost battle to the US Supreme Court, even though they recently shredded her last minute plea for an injunction. PamBo tried to argue that marriage was meant only for couples who planned to breed and provide "enduring family relationships".

This coming from a childless, twice-divorced adulterer who currently has a "living in sin" arrangement with her boyfriend.

Oh, and the happy couple shown here? They are foster-parent certified and plan to raise children! (Gay adoption has been legal in Florida since 2010, when then-AG Bill McCollum's leading "expert" he paid to fight it turned out to have a proclivity for hiring male hookers.)

I wish David and Aaron the best in their new lives together and the love they will bring to their children who deserve it and badly need it.

You see, Pam Bondi, THIS is what a real marriage looks like. Maybe try it sometime before you bash it?

In case you wanted more pictures of the happy couple.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Fact Check the Inaugural

With the politicians out of town these past few weeks I haven't had any inspiration to bellow out a few lines, but it's worth your time to check this fact check of Rick Scott's second inaugural address. It doesn't tell us whether Tea Party Rick Scott or Happy Face Rick Scott is in charge, but it does tell us that Lie Like a Rug Rick Scott is still there.

The most bodacious moment, in my opinion: Where Scott openly boasts that he plans to  continue to try to pilfer jobs from other states. Ignoring, of course, states headed by Republican governors, especially Republican governors that campaigned for him.  

Meanwhile, let's not forget that we're still waiting for some jobs he doled out tax breaks for to show up -- four years later.


Saturday, January 03, 2015

Open Enrollment "Obamacare" till Feb. 15, 2015

We are in the open enrollment period. This is the period of time during which you can enroll in a Qualified Health Plan on the Healthcare Exchange. You can go on the for plans and prices. Your state may have their own exchange set up, but otherwise, you'll need to go to this federal site. That is certainly the case here in Florida.

Since I had a health crisis in late 2013, I have become very familiar with how health insurance works. Everyone should know the basics on deductibles, copays, types of plans, etc. Here's a quick video:

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Obama to Disband the Marine Corps

Recommended on DailyKos

You didn't know this, did you?

On a flight home I sat in between two individuals, a Marine and boxing promoter. The boxing guy was an older gentleman, and told interesting stories, such as meeting Don King. Both men were very pleasant and that helped make time pass on the flight. We were all combat veterans and all Southerners, so we had a lot in common. Then the discussion, inevitably, turned to politics.

The older guy turned to the Marine and said "You know Obama is getting rid of the Marine Corps, right?"

The Marine was puzzled. He hadn't heard this news. Neither had I. "Yeah, Eric Holder just had a meeting with the Joint Chiefs. Obama is going to disband them by Executive Order."

Hooooo boy. We are going to do this now, are we? Putting aside for the moment why the head of the DOJ would be involved with restructuring a military department in the DoD, I said: "I don't think any president can just disband a branch of service. Also, this would be pretty big news. Don't you think it would be all over the news instead of a message board?" I assumed it was a message board because I follow GOP conspiracy theories on rightwing sites, and never heard of this one. Even the Marine, who was no Obama fan, agreed this sounded very stupid and we moved on to other topics.

We all parted ways and thanked each other for the talk. I told the Marine I'd see him on my flight back since there soon wouldn't be a base for him to go to.

Sure enough, I got back home and did some checking on the interwebs. Although I couldn't find anything about Obama disbanding the Corps, I did find a story that Obama was going to disband the National Guard and Reserves by fall of this year, a post that Hillary Clinton is, in fact, going to dismantle the Marine Corps, and various other hysteria/delusions in the mind of a brainwashed conservative.

I thought about the flight and wondered, how can such a seemingly intelligent, normal man suddenly suspend logic and spout such nonsense?

How can, on one hand, we discuss rationally our jobs, our cars, our families, and then BOOM, a switch goes off and FEMA camps, immigrant take-over, birth certificate time-travel, Sandy Hook being a hoax, and the ever present secret army of "jack-booted thugs" (you know, the bad kind who take your guns away, not the good kind who shoot unarmed brown people).

Paranoia, fear, contempt... it's disturbing. I think to myself, do you ever listen to how stupid this all sounds? We are coming to the end of Obama's two terms. Gun rights haven't been curtailed in the least. If anything, they've expanded and it's easier to get a gun than ever before. Also, no one was taken into camps and locked up (unless you count the record number of undocumented immigrants Obama allowed that to happen to before deportation).

Even the conspiracy theories have gotten lamer. It went from all of us being destroyed to Michelle Obama wants to take dessert away. No. Seriously.

Fox News just reported that Obama is going to ban doughnuts!

And not just doughnuts. Watch the report. Obama's jack-booted FDA is coming after (and they list these) popcorn, Christmas cookies (ohhh he hates Christmas!), crackers, frozen pizza, and canned frosting. Fox News host Clayton Morris actually said they would be prohibited!

Hoooo boy. I shouldn't have to explain this, but what they are referring to is the FDA ban on trans-fat, which was enacted well over a year ago. Trans-fat isn't needed to make anything, and has already been eliminated by doughnut companies for years! (This includes the stupid doughnut Morris was displaying.) In other words, trans-fat is a dangerous, non-essential ingredient that has already been replaced. No one gave flying f***.

Yet Fox is lying to its viewers, again, telling them that their favorite desserts will be BANNED! Cue the outrage--just like when they recently reported that Obama would personally fund a Muslim museum during a government shutdown (their source: a parody website!)

Or this past October when they told their viewers that Obama was purposefully letting Ebola in America because his "affiliations and affinities" were with Africa! Sounds incredible? Yes, because you are rational. But you don't win the LIE of the YEAR award from Politifact for being rationale. This year, Fox News won for spreading false information about Ebola. (It can go with their past year awards.)

And now, at the end of the year, Fox had to cap off their lying streak by reporting that coming soon in 2015, your favorite sugary treats will be taken by the aforementioned jack-booted thugs. As Cenk said in the video, it is pretty much guaranteed that one of your brainwashed relatives will state, matter-of-factly, that Obama is coming after our doughnuts. It was on the "news".

Yet in a few months, when we see that our doughnuts are still on the shelves and no one is trying to take them, the Fox viewer will not once ever stop and say to himself--"Hey, they lied to me!". That is because he will already be outraged at the next lie. The cycle will continue, and I'll keep trying to get through.

To all of my conservative friends, past, present, and those I'll meet on flights in the future: Can one of your New Year's resolutions be that when you hear something SO INCREDIBLE about your president or, in fact, any politician, that you will put a minimum amount of effort to verifying it is true before you spout it as fact? Just ONE google search will usually do it.

That's all I ask. You'll seem more normal, less gullible, and you'll find that people will enjoy your company without suddenly questioning your intelligence.

Happy New Year my friends, and Benghazi.