Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Make. It. Stop. FL Teabag Legislators LEGALIZE payoffs

I don't know if you realize this, but our state government has a reputation for corruption. (And all of this was before we elected a criminal to lead us.)

Well, our new Teabag overlords in the state legislature have finally figured out a way to end the illegal practice of taking payoffs under the table for favorable legislation.

They made it legal.

Just a few days ago, the GOP leadership overwhelmingly fast-tracked a law to bring back slush funds that will be, get this, directly managed by our legislative leadership.

The ignorant massess are none too happy. Here's columnist Howard Troxler from the St. Pete Times:

The Florida Legislature proved this past week, once and for all, that it is the utter Whore of Babylon.

It is now legal in our state to pay off the Legislature directly. Who says so? The Legislature.

This is not a joke.

This is not satire.

This is Florida — where the laws of our democracy are now openly, officially For Sale.

First time our legistlature has been called a whore, won't be the last.

The teabag lawmakers who even bothered to try to justify it (and really, why bother?) actually said it would be better to take direct payoffs because it is more "transparent". And besides, they are just sick of trying to hide it.

Former gov. Charlie Crist vetoed this last year, saying these funds were a "vestige" of Florida's corrupt political past and pointed out that the MASSIVELY scandal-ridden Florida GOP shouldn't be fighting so hard to bring them back. (A Democratic-controlled legislature banned these slush funds over 20 years ago.)

These funds will be HUGE special-interest fundraising machines for the GOP. Now, our legislative "leaders" are allowed to steer these unlimited amounts of campaign cash directly into separate accounts they control.

The worst thing about this isn't the fact that they will be taking bribes, even though this legislation streamlines the process. The worst thing I foresee is that our corrupt legislators will be able to "shake down" certain groups or businesses for contributions for exemptions to some of the draconian laws they are poised to pass. (So, eh, MickeY, right? Enjoying your little gun exemption? Ya know, some of the boys think it time we allow MAC-10s to be openly carried in the park. I might be persuaded to call it off, but I could use a little more "encouragement"...)

Everytime I think they can't go any lower, they pull out a stick of dynamite.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rick Scott Used Office to Rake in Billions!

How bad can it get? At least we are finally seeing the REAL reason he wanted to be governor.

First, let me bring you up to speed with 5 things you need to know:

1. Rick Scott made millions as CEO of Columbia/HCA. Well, technically, he made it through Medicare fraud, but Columbia was the vehicle.

2. After he was kicked out, he used his stolen money to found an urgent-care chain called Solantic. Shocking...Solantic also engaged in multiple, multiple forms of fraud.

3. Scott absolutely hated the health care reform bill. In 2009, he founded a national front group to run ads to tell people just how bad it would be for them. He spend 5 million of his own money just to let us know this...with no ulterior motive whatsoever.

4. He had a COMPLETE lack of interest in anything about Florida--until he suddenly decided to run for office last year. He spent 70 million of his own funds to win it.

5. In case I forgot to mention it. HE. IS. A. F%^&ING. CRIMINAL.

All caught up? Good.

So you may be wondering, as us Floridians are, what was Rick Scott's REAL motive for running? No one, not even his teabag supporters who put him in office say that Scott is interested at all in helping average citizens. His latest budget proves that.

So why? Is he delusional enough to think he can be president? Maybe. Is there another grand scheme I'm still missing? Perhaps.

But one thing several of us have already figured out is that he is hell-bent on recouping the money he spent. Yet look closer. From his budget proposal to policies he pushed just last week, we have one BIG reason he is now our governor.

In just four short years in office, Scottie is poised to make such a massive fortune that he could hire a Koch brother to plunge his toilet!

Wait. Isn't he rich already? He listed his net worth at $219 million When submitting the election forms. That would be plenty for most, but for people like Scott, it is abject poverty when you look at multi-billionaires like the Koch brothers. And for people like that, it is never enough. Its the same reason they fight tooth and nail for extra tax cuts and don't care if we have to cut every social service, kick every poor, disabled kid, and spit on every teacher to get it.

Right now, it is generous to say that Scott has a "questionable" relationship with Solantic. His co-founder at Solantic vehemenently denies that Scott is involved in day-to-day business. In fact, she said that he no longer takes business calls after he was elected. (I would really f%^#ing hope a governor of a major state wouldn't also try to run a business, but she thought it was a big concession.)

But us libral critics, never satisfied, selfishly insisted he do more to sever the financial relationship with Solantic in order to avoid an obvious conflict of interest.

And in January, our ethical governor FINALLY did. He transfered every bit of his Solantic stock.

Case closed.

I should be happy. But for some reason, I couldn't shake the feeling that he is somehow still invested in Solantic.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the person he transferred all of the stock to WAS HIS WIFE!

Now, Florida does have an Ethics Commmission. But this underfunded, toothless agency did nothing after three visits from Scott's legal team. Want a transcript of the meetings under our Sunshine Laws? Too bad. There weren't any! Whoops. They must have forgot... three times in a row.

Moving on.

Bottom line... Solantic makes money, Rick Scott's wife makes money, and I'm sure somehow, someway, Rick Scott will get a piece of that.

But our governor wouldn't be so blatant as to make any policy to funnel money to Solantic? My God, we would have to be some kind of stupid state to overlook something like that.

You be the judge:

1. Solantic primarily deals with people who have high premiums or no insurance. The main competitor for Solantic are publically-funded state clinics run by the FL Dept. of Health. Scott's budget proposal cuts ALL funding to these clinics!

(Yes, more than one person has pointed out the irony of him wanting pill mills to stay open while completely eliminating clinics that help the poorest Floridians.)

With the elimination of its biggest competitor, SOLANTIC profits will explode.


By pure coincidence, Rick Scott's wife's company doesn't accept Medicaid, but SOLANTIC does accept private Medicaid HMO reimbursments! (ca-ching)

No conflict of interest there.

3. As you learned if you watched Jon Stewart's hilarious take on Ric Scott last Thursday, the man signed an executive order requiring random drug testing of state employees at least once a quarter along with all applicants for state jobs. He is also pushing the right-wing legislature to use drug test harrassment for another group the GOP hates...welfare recipients.

We are talking hundreds of thousands of Floridians here going to clinics several times a year at least to get these tests. Hey, guess what clinic offers drug testing as a primary service?? Rhymes with MOLE-ANTIC!

4. Biggest one so far. The Palm Beach Post did a great article on this. Although Gov. Mr. Burns hates "Obamacare", he is gladly lobbying like hell for a massive federal block grant from a state waiver that the Act allows. The article says this type of grant is worth BEEEEELL-IONS.

Slick Rick's health policy adviser, Michael Cannon, said it would be in the form of health vouchers that consumers can use as cash for direct-pay medical care. This benefits particular clinics where patients like to pay cash.

Clinics like, (wait for it)....SOL..... (OK, I think you get the point now.)

Thankfully, our Florida Commission on Ethics has to decide whether that last one is a conflict of interest. Yes, that commission.

By the way, the commission has 9 members... 5 of which are picked by the governor. So... ya know. Just count on him to do the right thing.

Like his mama said, he's a good boy:

Jon Stewart Slams Rick Scott on Drug Testing

I heard about Jon's Rick Scott rant at work this morning. Although there was no shortage of material, I was wondering what it would be. Killing jobs? Killing education? Pill mills?

Nope. It was something I missed.

Drug Testing State Employees? Did he campaign on that?

[plays Rick Scott's campaign commercial pledging to drug test welfare recipients]

So close!

He wanted to drug test welfare recipients but ended up drug testing anyone who wants to work for the state of Florida!

Gov. Scott simply mixed up which group of worthless, public teat sucking leaches he wanted to kick in the nuts.

The entire segment on teabag governors is hilarious, but if you just want to see his entire rant on Rick Scott, it starts at 1:48.

Jon hit the nail on the head. Welfare recipients are always a conservative target and held in the lowest regard. So why not harrass and embarrass them to fire up the teabaggers for your campaign?

But in the short time since Gov. Skeletor's election, the teabaggers have gotten excited about a NEW target--dedicated state employees! (Fuck you teacher! Bite me firefighter!)

So what better way to fire up your base than by harrassing these NEW targets?

Oh, and make a little scratch while you are at it. His company Solantic (now owned by his wife) happens to be in the drug testing business. Just sayin'... Man's gotta get something for the 70 mil he put into this thing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finally! CNN Calls Fox News LIARS!

It's almost 15 years late, but I was wondering when a real news organization would ever call out the obvious fraud on anything. If you are like me, you've been frustrated that an obvious propoganda arm that has no journalistic integrity whatsover has been allowed to pretend otherwise.

In fact, Fox News has been a bully.. using its pundits to go after any real news organization that gets in its way, or dares to challenge their phony "fair and balanced" meme.

But Fox News hit a little too hard against CNN. And Nic Robertson had had enough.

Fox News claimed that Reuters crews and CNN were lured into being "human shields" by Khadafi's buses that toured the destruction in Tripoli to prevent allied forces from bombing.

Nic Robertson lost it:

Outrageous and absolutely hypocritcal.
When you come to somwhere like Libya, you expect lies and deceit from a dictatorship. You do not expect it from the other journalists.

He rants about Fox News claiming that they refused to send anyone on the bus because it was all propoganda. But they did, and Nic calls them on this lie.

They sent a Fox News toadie to go along with the 40 real journalists with a hand-held camera who even admitted to them that he had no idea why they sent him.

I urge you to watch the video. You can see his anger building as he talks. He basically says he has no idea why the hell Fox News is even there. The FAUX correspondent NEVER LEAVES HIS HOTEL ROOM!

I see him [Steve Harrigan] more times at breakfast than I see him out on trips.

I don't know who he's talking to here to pick up and find out what the story is. When we go on these government trips... it is for a simple reason. We don't want government officials to film it themselves, edit it themselves, and hand it off to us. We want to look for ourselves...That's why we go. BECAUSE WE ARE NEWS PROFESSIONALS!

This follows Bill Keller, chief editor for the NYT, on his comments going after not only Fox but their idiot viewers.

When Fox cried about it, I loved his statement:

I don't think anyone at Fox believes they are producing even-handed, impartial coverage," he said. "...To say otherwise, to pretend to be something else, does strike me as cynical."

Colbert did a funny take on it:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Radio Advertisement for Florida Drug Tourism (Scott Shops)

Who says our governor isn't good for tourism?

Apparently, a few of my fellow citizens are up in arms about this advert running on the Philips Phile:

I think its great. The anger needs to be directed at our governor and his cronies, not satire.

According to NPR, Florida is the epicenter of the pill mill epidemic:

A major reason pill mills have proliferated in Florida is because, unlike most other states, it lacks a system for monitoring drug prescriptions.

Logically, our teabag, criminal gooper opposes it.

He actually claims that it is an invasion of the privacy of drug dealers.

As Carl Hiassen at the Miami Herald so succinclty put Rick Scott's oppostion:

Has Florida finally elected a certifiable whack job as governor?

Pill mills are a huge business here. Crack is so 1980's, and Meth is last year. Drug dealers have blatantly moved into strip malls. They set up these storefront operations that dispense dangerous narcotics like tic-tacs.

Last month, drug agents raided dozens of pill mills (I guess we can now call them "Scott Shops") in South Florida. It was a series of busts, from Palm Beach to Miami, that included more than 20 arrests and the seizure of more than $22 million.

But as the US Drug Enforcement Agency put it, we can only arrest so many. We are the number #1 state for "pill mill tourism" and supply the entire eastern U.S. with illegal prescription narcotics like Vicodin, Percocet, and others. The pill mills kill 7 Floridians a day.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration says that only a good state database can stop it in its tracks. Every law enforcement agency in the state wants the database. Even the GOP Governor of Kentucky (who's state is inundated with these pills) is trying to talk sense into Gov. Voldemort.

It's so bad that the drug company that makes OxyCotin volunteered to donate $1 million towards the database. (Sorry, Rush).

Even our right-wing Senate President and his AG won't stand with Rick on this one. Only House leader Dean Cannon, desperate for some teab lovin', is sticking by Rick on this. Cannon jumped on board after Slick Rick shocked everyone by saying he wanted to kill the database because it was an invasion of privacy!

Are you *&^%ing kidding me!? Everytime I register my car I go into a state-run database, and no one calls that an invasion of privacy! But drug-dealers?

By the way, Scott is not only against the database, but also decided to shut down the only office fighting the pill mills once he took office. The FL Office of Drug Control, which was making at least some headway into the pill mills, is no more.

I guess after making his fortune defrauding seniors, he has a soft spot for phony medical businesses.

As the advert says, if you are from out of state and looking for prescription drugs, remember: Florida is open for business.

And yes, Carl, it appears we did elect a whackjob for governor.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

FL: Stop the Forced-Rape Bill!

My Stupid State Series

Rape is defined as "unlawful penetration through either physical force or duress".

Our teabagging legislature is on the verge of forcing a woman who wants to terminate her pregnancy to submit to a completely unnecessary medical procedure that also happens to be the most instrusive: a vaginal ultrasound.

This is not for any medical reason. None at all: they admit it is all ideological. It is about pressuring a woman to not exercise her legal right by being violated and psychologically traumitized.

The bill will be repeat of the one that failed last year. The process will go like this:

1. The woman will be probed against her will

2. She will then be lectured by the doctor

3. She will then have to PAY FOR IT

These are the same teabagging SOBs who were screaming about government intrusion of health care. And what exactly is more intrusive than forced violation for the sole reason of ideology!?!

This awful bill was attempted last May by zealots in our legislature, some of whom referred to abortion as a holocaust, but thankfully, a few moderate Republicans voiced concern and it was vetoed last year by Charlie Crist.

I was one of many who contacted my representative about this. Last year, I had someone who was GOP but was at least reasonable. (This year I got this guy.)

When I wrote about what they wanted to force women to do, several people who had the procedure done posted about it:

its a vaginal probe that looks like a straight dildo and is covered with a condom. Trust me, I had one. It is invasive when you have consented to it. I only had one with my first pregnancy and refused them for every other one.

Annie R:
I had it done too, with my permission and still cringe to this day. And it was definitely vaginal. It felt like an assault. I cried during and after. I just wrote Crist and explained it from start to finish, trying to appeal to his "humanity."

Now, those term-limited moderate members are gone--replaced with teabaggers. We have no semblance of sanity this year. Our governor Uncle Fester has said he will support it, along with a dozen other bills that promote the forced-birth agenda:

  • A ban on coverage of abortions through private health insurance!

  • A bill making it harder for a minor seeking an abortion to obtain a court order to avoid having to tell her parents or guardians.

  • A bill requiring a physician to determine the age of a fetus before performing an abortion. (WHAT?!?!)

  • An outright abortion ban (that is hoped to go to the Supreme Court).

  • A bill to give to give all revenue from specialty plates to a religious, anti-abortion organization.
    (Thanks to Jeb Bush, our idiot state created the first state-sponsored fund-raising vehicle for anti-abortion zealots. Here in Orlando, the head of a religious organization oversees the distribution of funds.)

If you live in Florida, contact your representative and tell the bastard to try focusing on jobs for a change. I am always for letting them know how you feel, but I am not delusional into thinking that many of them give a rat's ass about their constituents (at least as long as Rick Scott is allowed to stop the anti-gerrymandering amendments).

This bill, along with the others, will most likely pass. So the our best chance is to fight it in court. Show some love for Florida Planned Parenthood. As you can tell, they are going to have quite an exhausting year.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

How Much of a Monster Is Rick Scott?

People need to know just how much of a MONSTER Rick Scott really is. I don't use that word lightly. How evil is he?

Forget gutting education, high-speed rail, and the litany of abuses I've documented in my series. (The goddamned legislative session hasn't even started yet!)

This one example really hits home.

Florida was hit extra hard by the recession, with the GOP focused for years on giveaways that only benefit the superwealthy, the working class saw sky-high unemployment and the worst housing crisis in the nation.

Homeless children in this state have reached an epidemic proportion. It's so bad that the CBS show 60 minutes showed a heart-breaking tale from my own Seminole County (where I get the name SemDem).

You can watch it here if you are interested.

It's the kind of story that would make most people misty-eyed. But what does Florida's Mr. Burns want to do? The criminal that the teabaggers put into office?

Completely eliminate ALL homeless help in this state!

The contempt he has for the homeless is so great, he is even cutting a homeless awareness day, designed to bring attention to the plight of the families in our state that are living in thier cars in Wal-Mart parking lots, which costs NO MONEY WHATSOEVER.

Fucking. Monster.

(Again, I'm not exaggerating. I met a mom with her two daughters begging for money at the Wal-Mart on Colonial Dr., and one entire family living in a van at the Sanford Wal-Mart.)

Even if you think the $7 million that helped the 74,000 people last year is too generous, how can you, Mr. Teabagger, justify our governor demanding an extra $343 million for his OWN OFFICE BUDGET?


If didn't make it to the Awake the State rally, then donate your time, write a letter to the editor, volunteer to canvass, contribute, or at the very least, DON'T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP TO OTHERS. Get Pissed Off.

I am.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Koch Brothers Buy Economics Departments for Gulf Coast and Florida State University

Really Florida State?

Charles Koch, the billionaire rightwing libertarian, bought hiring rights for Florida State University's Economics Department for a pawltry 1.5 million dollars. Since the guy makes 3 million an hour in investments, you'd think FSU would have sold out for at least an hour of his time.

The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations.

et tu, FCGU

Grants from Koch also supported the "ideological transformation" at the Economics Dept. at Gulf Coast University:

At Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, every student who majors in economics and finance gets a copy of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged…FGCU now has a core group of a half dozen economists whose research supports the ideas of free-market capitalism, still an unpopular subject in most faculty lounges. They teach this material to more than 250 economics and finance students (one class is titled “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism”), organize lectures by leading thinkers, publish their research in well-respected journals and hold influential positions in groups that promote free markets.

Yale University was at least offered 20 million, but they turned it down because they proclaimed no one should dictate hiring or curricula. But that's why Florida has no ivy leagues.

How Bad is "Hair"odoplos? REDSTATE calls him corrupt!

You've hit rock bottom when these lemings call you out for corruption:

Mike Haridopolos: Another Corrupt Overly Coiffed Politician Running For The U.S. Senate

...My advice to Senator Haridopolos is to

a) Quit running for U.S. Senate and concentrate on the job you are getting paid for by the People of Florida.

b) Once your term is up, Go into the private sector and see how the real world lives (My God, the man only knows academia or elected politics) and

c) If you are going to write a tome for academia, for pete’s sake put some effort into it. You latest example doesn’t even meet the standards of a paper written by a Freshman on a Florida State Football Full Athletic Scholarship who got his Girlfriend to write it for him the night before it was due.

My advice to Florida Republicans: Do not elect this man...

Do Not Let Rick Scott Get Away With Ignoring Fair District Amendments!

Part XII of My Stupid State Series:

You see, I know my state... the stupidity can fill a book. (And rest assured that when I finish it, I won't charge you $152,000 for one copy.)

Our state government is hopelessly broken, and has been for a long time. I can't believe a year ago I thought we hit rock bottom when our GOP overseers used our money to fight the "immorality" of gay adoption, (even trying to tear kids out of loving homes); while simultaneously refusing to pass a law banning animal bestiality.
(Goat sex? Cool. Gay adoption? Ewwww).

But here we are. Two months into 2011, and its getting bad to worse. But there is ONE thing we cannot let our state legislators destroy. It is the ONE thing that is the single worst thing that Rick Scott has done.

I'm not talking about last Friday, when high-speed rail officially died.

I'm also not talking about his jaw-dropping budget proposal, nor his fight for drug dealer privacy, nor his illegal firing of Florida's only protector against slimy nursing homes, nor any of the tons of other crap within his very short term in office.

I'm talking about the ONE thing we can't let rail or the budget or even our hot, sexy goats distract us from. It is the single chance we have to end the stupidity.

We must demand that Rick Scott stop illegally obstructing the implementation of the Fair Districts Amendments.

Floridians overwhelmingly passed these two Constitutional Amendments to end gerrymandering last November--our only bright spot last year. These amendments would stop our incumbent legislators from drawing their own districts.

I don't need to lecture anyone why gerrymandering is bad. But it is worse in Florida than anywhere else. It is why lawmakers feel they can get away with anything, even hot goat sex.

It is a big reason why in a state where there are approx. 100,000 more Democrats than GOP, NOT ONE state legislator lost his seat even in the blue wave election of 2008. In fact, of the hundreds of state legislative elections in the past decade--only 10 have lost. The incumbents don't even bother campaigning. Our Congressional districts aren't much better. They look like they were drawn by a meth addict. Corrine Brown lives in Jacksonville but somehow represents Orlando. My Congressman's office is in St. Augustine--100 miles away from my house in Winter Springs!

Wingnut lawmakers tried to stop it. They passed their own amendment proposal that was purposely written incoherently which, if passed, would have thrown out the Fair District Amendments. A judge saw through the scheme and threw it out. GOP PAC money poured in to defeat the amendments, but it failed as well. Even in this nutty state, the amendments passed with a whopping 63% of the vote, and in a red-wave election to boot.

Of course, a federal lawsuit was filed against it... and not one, but THREE very expensive law firms were hired by our GOP Speaker to help overturn the amendments. (Apparently, we can't afford teachers but we can afford to pay high-priced lawyers to overturn our own damn vote!)

However, all of that hard work and dirty tricks to keep the amendments off the ballot, fight them when they were on the ballot, and trying to sue to stop them now were all for naught. WHY?

Rick Scott is simply not going to implement them.

Just three days in office, Gov. Rick Scott blocked paperwork needed to make the Fair Districts laws take effect. He didn't tell his constituents. It was only discovered by an attorney who called to check on its progress at the Deptartment of Justice. (Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires Florida to submit any standards to be pre-cleared through DOJ.)

The Counsel to FairDistricts Now called the Secretary of State’s office and was told, “We cannot tell you why, only that we were directed to do so.” (Rick Scott's new Sec. of State actively campaigned against these amendments.)

Another official said that he did not know if the paperwork would be resubmitted.

Seriously. Our Governor, elected with under 50% of the vote, apparently has dictatorial powers and can alone choose not to implement Constitutional Amendments that passed with a super majority.

When called on it, a goober rep said it is part of Rick Scott's “effort to assess the rules, regulations and contracts of the previous administration.

Except, these aren't "rules, regulations, or contracts of the previous administration"! THEY ARE GODDAMNED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS! There is nothing to "review" or fine print to examine. There is no cost-benefit analysis to conduct. These are not new state rules imposed by an underfunded state agency. THESE ARE AMENDMENTS APPROVED BY FLORIDIANS!

Another excuse from Scott's deputy communications director was that census data has not been transmitted to the state yet. What the hell this had to do with getting pre-approval from DOJ is anyone's guess.

But as of just last week, IT HOLDS NO WATER. THe data has arrived.

Yet there is no indication that Rick Scott will move forward with this. As I write this, he is working hand in hand with his allies in the state legislature, who hate these amendments more than he does.

These bastards will stop at nothing to defeat these amendments using any legal or illegal maneuver. But fair elections are the only chance our poor state has in ending all of the nonsense.


Let these bastards know you are watching:

Email Dean Cannon

Email Rick Scott

Email your FL State House Representative

Email your FL Senate Rep.

To help:

Fair Districts Florida has converted to Fair Districts Now for the definite upcoming legal battle. If you know a redistricting lawyer or just want to help, Email Ellen Freidin of FDN.

Contribute or volunteer to help the Florida DNC.

One more thing.. AwaketheState Rally March 8--click to find one near you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Fat Cat Teachers

The greed that led teachers into the profession has now corrupted it. I am sick of all these "fat cat" teachers. States are broke... we can only afford to give extra tax cuts for the superwealthy or keep a few teachers, not both people!