Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rick Scott Ensures MILLIONS of Democrats Won't Vote! Where's the Outrage?

Bottom line: Jim Crow has returned to Florida.

St. Petersburg Times:

Not surprisingly, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law on Thursday pernicious election changes designed to benefit Republicans and suppress voting by minorities, college students and low-wage workers.

Election supervisors, who run elections in Florida, have predicted chaos and confusion at the polls because of these changes, which the GOP has falsely said was an effort to stem voter "fraud".

Miami Herald:
The League of Women Voters says it will suspend voter-registration activity in Florida because the bill requires such groups to register with the state and face fines of up to $1,000 for mistakes.

I'm sure that was the goal. Third-party voter registration groups such as the League of Women Voters, unions and the NAACP must turn in voter-registration cards within 48 hours or face HUGE fines, which groups have said would be difficult when they register thousands of new voters at a time.

In addition, this law cuts early voting in half. WHY? The majority of Obama voters in 2008 voted the first week of early voting. This new law makes it harder for low-income working people who don't have flexible hours to vote. The law even bars early-voting THREE DAYS BEFORE ELECTION DAY... to ensure casual voters don't vote the weekend before Nov. 2!!!

How that stems fraud is anyone's guess.

This law goes to the heart of the Democratic base. It will force women, minorities, and college students from getting actual ballots. They will be forced to use shady Provisional ballots....according to Politifact, the MAJORITY OF THESE BALLOTS ARE NOT COUNTED!!!

  • Women can no longer update their names at the polls if they changed their marital status. They've been able to do this for almost half a century with NO issues. They will be forced to go provisional.

  • College students will no longer be able to update their new address. Their votes will also be provisional... and unlikely to count

  • Minorities should be worried as well:
    There are many other new regulations, several depriving voters of their chance to work out problems at the polls. For instance, if voters are challenged for any reason, they would be required to cast a provisional ballot. And they could not receive legal help while in line, as before.

    As I said before in a previous post, vote caging operations are a go for the GOP for 2012.

Other nuggets of evil:

ALL volunteers who just want to register voters must now register with the Supervisor of Elections. (Keep in mind Gov. Voldemort didn't want a database for pill mill doctors because it would violate the drug dealer's privacy... yet has no trouble using a database to intimidate voter registrators.)

The news media and bloggers are now restricted from taking video or audio of voters at polling places.

Citizen-led initiatives... the only challenge we have to the teabag legislature.. are now requiring a ridculous 600.000 signatures that must be collected in just 20 months--not four years.

There's more, but you get the point. Gov. Scott said its all about preventing fraud. Except no one.. .not any of the elections supervisors, not the Secretary of State, can find any instance. The Tampa Tribune article mentioned only 31 cases ever investigated in the past several years. So spare me.

In addition, if this was REALLY about fraud, why go after early voters? The biggest chance of fraud is ABSENTEE BALLOTS.. but these were left alone. WHY? Guess where the GOP gets a lot of votes from?


Please, help me out here. CALL TO ACTION!

Rick Scott has already passed an archaic rule requiring nonviolent felons to wait five years after completing their sentences before applying to have their voting rights restored. Even though HE KNOWS this will purge THOUSANDS of innocent (and disproportionately black) voters from the rolls misidentified as felons like we did in 2000.

1. Contact the DOJ. Some of our election laws are subject to review because of the Voting Rights Act. This is a clear case of disenfranchisement. OBAMA! HOLDER! WAKE UP!

2. Contact the FLORIDA DEM PARTY. Tell THEM to wake the H&*LL up and start a citizen-led initiative that there can be NO changes to our election laws that restrict voting unless its put before the people!

This is so outrageous that even I am certain we can get 600,000 signatures in the time allotted. The govenor's office admitted they fielded a record number of calls... all of them opposed to this law. (Obviously, he cares not what the citizens want.)

3. Spread the message. Post what is happening here in Florida on your blog or post on someone else's. Talk to your neighbors, your friends, your family about what is going on. Please MAKE SOME NOISE... since the MSM has obviously decided to ignore this.

OH, and if they are in Florida, tell them to make sure they are registered to vote or to update their information at the Supervisor of Elections NOW!


DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! We just won the mayorship in JAX--one of the most right-wing cities in the US! We elected Alan Grayson in a GOP district. We passed the fair district amendments with over 60% last year...during the red wave election. Dems in this state are finally waking up... Don't count us out just yet...

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Tale of One Session: No More Business Oversight, No More Growth Management, Massive Cuts to Education

When the state legislative session finally ended, I realized something. I don't know exactly what we have here in Florida, but it is definitely not a Democracy. Floridians were shocked by the wacky laws that passed which stripped our rights and protections... each one worse than the previous. The right-wing, conservative republicans who represent a VERY small minority of teabaggers call all the shots. The few Democrats in the legislature could do nothing, not even debate!

The super-majority Florida rethuglicans, in their cozy, custom-drawn districts, were busy marginalizing the judiciary, ignoring amendments they don't like in our Constitution, and stripping power away from the citizens. The uneducated morons even outlawed sex. (No, sadly, I am not kidding.) The people are outraged, but helpless. I thought that this is what it must feel like to be in a dictatorship.

But then I thought I was giving into hyperbole. Of course we don't have a dictatorship--that would be an improvement. We get none of the advantages. (More efficiency? Less corruption? Florida? riiight). Cripes, we don't even get the damn charismatic overlord. Just a sickly-looking buffoon.

With absolute power, our republican legislators showed everyone what they are REALLY about. The middle-class, unemployed, homeless, veterans, mentally ill, seniors and disabled children all got punched in the gut with massive cuts totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Big corporations of course got a hefty tax break, which was stupid and pointless since the rethughlicans also left all the corporate tax loopholes in anyway. (Less than 2% of corporations bother to pay any taxes in Florida. So suck on that.) Tax breaks for things only the wealthy can enjoy, such as yachts and skyboxes, stayed put. So did the sweet, sweet government-run healthcare all republican lawmakers enjoy in Tallahassee. (At $2 a week for a few weeks "work", its the most generous in the nation.)

The bastards gutted education by over $1.1 billion. They cut almost all business oversight regulations: Movers can now change their prices mid-move, mechanics don't have to give written estimates, dozens of professions (like mold inspectors) no longer need a license, and the protections in place against our longtime problem with shady timeshare companies have vanished. I suppose we are so desperate for jobs we are begging all the shady and even criminal enterprises who fled the state to come back and set up shop so they can hire again. (Yeah, much better than those tens of thousands of jobs we would have gotten for high-speed rail, I guess.) There is also no more growth managment in this state. Developers can now build with impunity and no longer worry about building schools or roads to handle their new sprawl.

There was also time to add amendments to ensure teabag conservative turnout for the national election. There are many pointless, partisan amendments such as one overturning abortion, one loosening the separation between church and state, and another overturning the new health care law in Florida. (What health-care crisis? Don't you know it only costs two bucks a week?)

Simultaneously, the sickening voter suppression law returns Jim Crow to Florida by blatantly suppressing minorities, college students,and women from voting. It passed on a party-line vote. They also criminalized 3rd party voter registration. The League of Women Voters announced they will leave the state if Gov. Rich Snott signs it into law. Teabag Lawmaker Mike Bennett sees nothing wrong with making people "fight" to vote or even walk 200 miles to vote. (Republicans, however, can still vote absentee.)

Again. This was just. one. session.

Even worse, the supporters of the few bad laws that did fail have vowed to bring them up again next session. Look for the return of court packing, another try at the AZ anti-brown people law, and the promised new try of turning our parks into golf courses.

I am up to already up to #26 in my series.

I'm sick and tired of complaining. I cannot handle 3 1/2 more years of this crap. Do me a favor:

1. Register to vote. Stop what you are doing. Do it now. Make sure everything is squared away before the next election.

2. Get involved. Talk to people. Write your paper and your legislators. Volunteer-anywhere (candidate, party, outside group, etc.) Contribute. Risk criminal prosecution and register peeps to vote anyway (screw 'em!).

3. Vote. In the name of all that is holy, VOTE. Don't stay home to "make a point". Real people suffer. Besides, the dems here and in DC would just interpret your apathy as the result of not compromising enough. (Our party really is that lame.)

If you have a moment, take a moment right now:

1. Contact the DOJ. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires states with a history of voting discrimination, such as Florida, to submit any changes to voting laws to the DOJ for review. Florida is blatantly suppressing voting rights. Our Senator has asked them for this... take a moment and ask them as well. (What the hell is it you do anyway, Holder?)

2. Fight for fair districts. The rethuglicans are actually using taxpayer money to fight this. Fair elections are our best chance to end their complete and utter domination.

3. Support citizen-led intiatives. Sign the petitions. Ask your friends to sign them. Vote for them. Citizen-led initiatives have been made difficult with shorter timelines and a supermajority. Yet they remain our only check and balance left in this state... and the people have finally awoken. Support amendments allowing recall of our elected officials. Support the amendment initiative that gaurantees funding of our independent courts. Support the amendment initiative to repeal the voter suppression law... if all else fails.

It sux right now, folks. But it is not hopeless. Not by any means. Democrats CAN win in this state... hell, Alan Grayson is as liberal as they come and won in a GOP-drawn district. The red wave election last year STILL somehow garnered a super-majority for fair districts. Movements like Awake the State have spread and put the teabaggers to shame. Fight as hard as you can... and enjoy the spectacle while it lasts.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bill Maher Breaks It Down

As Stewie would say, "Spot on, spot on":

All right, New Rule, stop calling this place a mansion. It looks like a 5-unit apartment complex in Van Nuys. A mansion is where the Beverly Hillbillies live. This is more like the house they show on the local news when some Mexican's pit bull has eaten a baby.
New Rule, stop saying "we" got Osama. "We" didn't do anything. "We" were watching Celebrity Apprentice and eating Funyuns in our sweatpants. SEAL Team Six did the killing, with money we borrowed from Beijing that our grandchildren will have to pay back. So it was a joint Navy SEALs, People's Bank of China, grandchildren operation.

New Rule, the White House doesn't have to release the dead bin Laden photos, but don't pretend that we can't take it. We handled pictures of Britney Spears' vagina getting out of a car. Come on, television has desensitized us to violence, and porn has desensitized us to people getting shot in the eye.

New Rule, the Pentagon must apologize to Native Americans for giving such a universally reviled character as Osama bin Laden the code name "Geronimo"... and admit they should have gone with their second choice, The Donald.

New Rule, conspiracy theorists who are claiming that we didn't really kill bin Laden, must be reminded that they didn't think he did the crime in the first place! Come on, nutjobs, keep your bullshit straight! The towers were brought down in a controlled demolition by George W. Bush to distract attention from Hawaii where CIA operatives were planting phony birth records, so that a Kenyan named Obama could someday rise to power and pretend to take out the guy we pretended took out the towers! And I know that's true because I just got it in an e-mail from Trump.

And finally, New Rule. Now that it's become clear that the Republicans, the fiscally conservative, strong on defense party, are neither fiscally conservative nor strong on defense, they have to tell us what exactly it is they're good at.

Because it's not defense. 9/11 happened on your watch. And you retaliated by invading the wrong country. And you lost a 10-year game of hide-and-seek with Osama bin Laden. And you're responsible for running up most of the debt, which, more than anything, makes us weak. You're supposed to be the party with the killer instinct. But it was a Democrat who put a bomb in Gaddafi's bedroom and a bullet in bin Laden's eye like Moe Greene. Raising the question, how many Muslims does a black guy have to kill in one weekend before crackers climb down off his ass?

(wild audience applause)

Let's look at some facts. Now, for you Fox News viewers, feel free to turn down the sound until the flashing "FACTS" light at the bottom of your screen disappears.

When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that by the end of the decade, we would have paid off the entire debt, and have a $2 trillion dollar surplus. Instead, we have a $10.5 trillion dollar public debt, and the difference in those two numbers is mostly because the Republicans put tax cuts for the rich, free drugs for the elderly, and two wars on the layaway plan, and then bailed on the check. So, so much for fiscal responsibility.

But hey, at least they still had the defense thing, right? The public still believed Republicans were tougher when it came to hunting down dark-skinned foreigners with funny-sounding names. But Bush had seven years to get Osama. He didn't. He got Wesley Snipes. Only 6 months after 9/11, Bush said he didn't spend that much time on bin Laden, adding that he was no longer concerned about him, just as he wasn't before 9/11, when he blew off that mysterious, inscrutable memo entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the U.S." In under a year, Bush went from "Who gives a shit?" to "Wanted: Dead or Alive" and back to "Who gives a shit?" Why focus on the terrorist who reduced Wall Street to rubble, when you can help Wall Street reduce the whole country to rubble?

In 2008, the candidates were asked, if they knew for sure that bin Laden was in Pakistan, would you send our guys in without permission to get him? McCain said no, because Pakistan is a sovereign nation. Obama said yes, he'd just do it. And McCain called him naïve. Who's being naïve, Kay? And why can't you just admit that Barack Obama is one efficient steely-nerved multitasking black ninja gangsta President?

In one week, he produced his birth certificate, comforted disaster victims, swung by Florida to say hey to Gabby Giffords, did stand-up at the Correspondents Dinner, and then personally rappelled into bin Laden's lair and put a Chinese star through his throat without waking up any of his 13 wives! That's how it went down, I saw it on MSNBC.

Look, 30% of this country will always vote Republican. I'm just asking why. Yes, paranoia, greed, and racism are fun, but it's like when you see someone driving a Mercury. You think, did that person really wake up one day and think, "You know what car I really want to drive? A Mercury Mariner." No! You assume he knows someone who sells them, or he was molested by a KIA dealer as a child.

And I know this all sounds like harsh truth, but Republicans are supposed to be the party of harsh truths. Like, there's no such thing as a free lunch. And speaking of lunch, I think Obama just ate yours.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

My Stupid State Reaches #25 with Dismantling of the 3rd Branch.

A Democracy is where the majority rules and the minority has rights. We have neither here in Florida now. A small, extremist minority is calling ALL of the shots, and the overwhelming majority of Floridians are being completely ignored. I don't know what we have in Florida, friends, but it is NOT Democracy.

My Stupid State hits its 25th post. All of this madness in four short months. Let's recap a bit...

My last post I pointed out a few disturbing factors that allow the GOP to completely dominate 2 of the 3 branches of government here in Florida. After the red wave election of 2010, republicans now enjoy a 2 to 1 majority in both houses of the legislature. This was coupled with the expunging of many reasonable moderates replaced with complete whackjobs. Add to this mix a man who can reasonably be called the most corrupt governor in US history, and you have the beginnings of my 4-year long horror movie.

In one legislative session, (PLZ GOD LET IT END!), the Fleabag politicians immediately attacked the disabled, seniors, veterans, homeless, the mentally ill, and the poor. Next came teachers, firefighters, and public servants. They went after them with a viciousness that would give Satan pause. Next week, they will cut 4 billion in education, health care, and environmental programs. They say they are all about sacrifice... which they are--for others. It never entered their radar to close the billion dollar tax loopholes for the powerful, or have lawmakers give up thier SWEET $2 a week govt healthcare!

It got worse with legalizing payoffs, gun-nut legislation, eviscerating worker's rights, destruction of our environmental laws, no less than 18 attacks on women's rights (including the forced rape bill), etc., etc.

Not that they didn't care about jobs... the Fleabag lawmakers who decried bloated government hired tons of cronies and paid them handsomely. For the rest of us, there was one fix-all for our high unemployment: DE-regulation. Apparently, we are so desperate for jobs that the assholes actually proposed bringing back shady businesses that had fled the state. Dishonest mechanics, telemarketers, moving companies, and timeshare scams can now LEGALLY rip you off with impunity, but that's okay because they are hiring! Thanks!! (Much better jobs than that Obamarail!)

It's truly a wingnut's wet dream here. And just like a dictator who has fallen out of favor, the Fleabag lawmakers are pulling all stops to cling to power. There are only two main obstacles: an awakened, angry electorate and the court system, our third branch of government. The Fleabag lawmakers have already taken care of the electorate with a fast-tracked, blatant voter suppression bill that I covered in my last diary. Rachael Maddow devoted her show to it last week. So there's that.

So that just leaves us with the state judiciary. So far, the courts have not been willing to play ball with the GOP. You see, before there were highly-advanced computer models that drew districts to gaurantee GOP victories, there were actually Democrats in office. Heck, we even had Dem goopers in the 80s and 90s. There are still Democratic appointees left in the court system throwing wrenches into power plays.

Then the Florida Supreme Court did the unforgivable last year. Not only did they NOT throw out two grass-roots citizen-led initiatives (amendments 5 & 6) that would end gerrymandered districts in our legislative and congressional elections, but they had the audacity to throw out the GOP legislature's ominous Amendment 7--which was an amendment the legislature tried to sneak in that would "clarify" 5 & 6 if they passed. And by clarify, I mean overturn. It was so misleading that Judge Shelfer said it took him three days to understand what was written; and he tossed it off the November ballot.

With nothing to confuse the voters, amendments 5 & 6 won handily. The GOP could NOT let this stand. Judges, like the electorate, had to know their place in the new order. So here is how the state legislature is working over Florida's judiciary:

1. SB 1504, sponsored by GOP Sen. David Simmons, will revoke the Florida Supreme Court’s power to remove any proposed constitutional amendment from ballot just because it is "misleading to voters".

Think about that for a second.

2. The Fleabags are attempting to disband the Judicial Nominating Commission, which currently chooses nominees for the Supreme Court and state courts. The commission was created to take politics out of the courts. Instead, the new plan has the executive branch, under Gov. Voldemort, be the SOLE authority to nominate state and Supreme Court justices. The public and the non-partisan Florida Bar would not longer have ANY input. (Take that, bitches!)

3. Currently the state Supreme Court has 7 justices. Four were appointed by Republicans and three by Democrats. Under House Speaker Cannon's plan, Gov. Voldemort will get to name three Supreme Court justices immediately. THEN the court would be divided into two-- with the three remaining Democratic judges moved to a newly created criminal division.

This will ensure that when the redistricting maps hit the state Supreme Court, they will be ALL right-wing appointments. Nice. They can't even justify this one. This scheme will cost $21 million dollars when we can least afford it, and Cannon's claim that this will ease the court's "heavy caseload" ignores the fact that the court's caseload is now the lowest in 10 years!

4. The state legislature is giving itself the authority to nix judicial rules and procedures put in place by the Supreme Court. No power grab there.

5. The bar for judges to win re-election will be 60 percent! There is currently NO elected office in Florida that requires that. (By the by, our teabag governor got under 50 percent.)

6. Punish the courts by cutting their funding. In the same breath the state legislature is saying they want to increase efficiency, their budget cuts the high court's staff more than 50 percent. That'll learn 'em! (Staff increased for the other two branches, by the by.)

Every bar association, independent legal scholar, major state paper and national papers, including USA Today, call this scheme for what it is: a powergrab and payback.

Thankfully, some of these issues, like changing the make-up of the court, will require voter approval as a constitutional amendment. We need to begin fighting back.

I don't know about you guys, but I am sick of all this. I will be up to 100 posts by the end of this year alone. Let's start taking our anger and turning it into action.


First, I am calling on activists to start a citizen-led initiative to automatically fund the state judiciary with 1 percent of the state's budget. Currently, it is under .07%, and the legislature vindictively cuts it when they throw a tantrum. It is so bad that the judiciary had to beg for a $14 million infusion just to keep operating to the end of April! The courts cannot count on the legislature to do the right thing, and neither can we.

Second, speaking of citizen-led initiatives, some are trying to get a constitutional amendment to allow recall of public officials. Add your voice to this effort. Maybe the threat of a recall will give some of them a moment before trying to abuse power. It can't be worse than it is, so I say go for it.

Third, talk to people. You have the advantage of knowing what is going on. You know there is nothing "Christian" about what these Fleabaggers are trying to do. Don't be afraid to speak up. Most people get their information from commercials, which is to the GOP's advantage because they are bankrolled by massive corporations and powerfully wealthy folks. (To hear teabags talk, Trump, Koch bros., the oil companies, etc. are all outmatched by George Soros.) Let them know that the super rich and powerful don't need their help.

Fourth. Contact your legislator! Tell the Democrats to learn to fight in court, and tell the GOP that you know exactly what they are doing. It costs nothing, and some conservatives are actually getting nervous if thier scheme to stop fair districts fails. It can't hurt to speak your mind to them.

Fifth. Register people to vote. There are many more of us than them, and I for one will not be intimidated by the legislature's attempt to criminalize voting registration. F*&^ YOU! I'm ticked and next year I will volunteer.

Sixth. Donate. Whether its to a candidate or an organization fighting the Fleabaggers, they need help. Even a small amount adds up.

Sixth. VOTE. FOR GOD'S SAKES VOTE!!! Don't stay home to "make a point". The state Dems have no power as it is, and the weak-assed national Dems won't get the message anyway... they will think they need to compromise even more. But despite the complete control of this state by the right-wing nuttia, the high unemployment will NOT be blamed on the GOP. It will still be blamed on Obama or some other liberal boogeyman. (15 years of GOP rule, and Gov. Sick Rott still says the problem is "liberal" regulation?) All of us people not blessed with ignorance will watch more rights be taken away, more punishment, more suffering because of a mobilized, but very stupid, minority.

I know things seem dark now, but if my series has done anything I hope it will inspire my fellow citizens in the occupation to do just a little more than you planned to do. I hope those outside the state will contribute to our causes and candidates and not forget about us here come 2012. One day, we may get a legislature and governor we deserve.... state officials that do things FOR Floridians, not TO them.