Saturday, March 28, 2015

FL Legislator's "Revenge" Bill Goes After Children Allowing ALL Discrimination! (Take That Indiana!)

#161 of My Stupid State

The Florida wingnuts just can't freaking stand not being in the spotlight. They couldn't give us ONE day for Indiana to take the heat off with their inane hate bill. We always have to be #1 in bigoted buffoonery.

OK, here we go:

40 years ago, this state passed a gay adoption ban. When it was recently, (and finally), challenged in Court, the only so-called "expert" the GOP politicians could find (and pay) to defend it turned out to be a self-hating, male hooker. Yes, that happened. Somehow, the GOP lost the case.

Fast forward this week. Because the GOP lost that case, one of our dumbest state legislators, Rep. Jason Brodeur, proposed legislation that he is literally calling a "revenge" bill that plays with children's lives.

Jason Brodeur is a name I've mentioned before. He is my own legislator and already infamous for proposing that psychiatrists/docotrs be fined 5 million for asking someone if they have a gun in the house.

Now he has created legislation that will allow taxpayer-funded private agencies to deny kids parents for practically any reason. I give you PCB HHSC 15-03, the Conscience Protection for Private Child-Placing Agencies:

...adoption services conscience protection within s. 409.175, F.S., to allow private child-placing agencies to object to performing, assisting in, recommending, consenting to, or participating in the placement of a child if a placement violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.

The bill also protects the licensure, grants, contracts, and ability to participate in government programs for those agencies that object to performing adoption services required for the placement of a child if that placement violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.

It was pushed through House Committee on Thursday.

Lest you think this is just an LGBT issue, the answer is NO. ANYONE in a PRIVATE adoption agency can discriminate: ethnic, racial, political affiliation, religious difference--all banned.

  • A Jewish family can be denied a child because they don't accept our Savior.

  • An interracial couple can be banned because some racists sincerely believe that God intended eternal separation of the races because he put them on different continents.

  • A Vegan can be banned because that goes against a sincerely held religious belief that animals were created in this world to act as a source of food.

  • Did you vote for Obama? BANNED! That goes against a deeply held moral conviction of not allowing new Democrats to be raised. Besides, healthcare access is a sin in the Catholic Church according to some a$$*****.

  • Non-fundamentalist? I don't care if this kid EVER gets a family: only those willing to indoctrinate will be considered. Bible. Can't touch this.

  • And don't get me started on an atheist family. The only thing worse would be a loving gay couple.

By the way, this works the other way too. Brodeur was forced to admit that a private adoption agency who had a moral conviction to gun owners could deny a couple a child. As usual, he didn't think this through. No one who pushed it through committee did.

You don't like this? Tough. Not only would this be legal, Florida taxpayers would be forced to subsidize this discrimination!

What is even more appalling is how the Florida Catholic Conference got behind this stupid bill. I thought they opposed abortion and were pro-adoption? There are already PLENTY of obstacles in the adoption system, so why are they making it even more difficult? It is morally reprehensible and a sin.

If you bastards were caught in my agency I'd never let anyone adopt you, but that would be cruel, spiteful and hateful. Who do you think I am, Jason Brodeur?

Contact Your Florida Legislator and ask them to spend time fixing Florida's many, many, many problems.... and quick F***ing over kids with "revenge" bills who are suffering enough.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rick Scott's SuperPAC Raises 700K, Even Though He Can't Run Again

Nothing shady going on here. Just taking a half million form the Chamber of Commerce and several industry political money machines. One of the Chamber's PAC, ironically named Florida Jobs Pac, only has three contributors: Publix, Disney, and our power company, Florida Power and Light. That last one really cheeses me because we have no say in who our power company is, how bad they treat us, or how much they can gouge us. FPL literally gives money to those who are supposed to be protecting us from high rates, so they can raise our rates, and in turn give the money to Rick Scott.

As shameful as that is, at least it was an election year last year. What is going on in March 2015? Is Rick running for a 3rd term? Nope, just special interests giving large amounts so money to a lame duck governor to remind him that he still runs the state. Amendment 1 is big in the news (mostly because Scott and the GOP are ignoring it) so let's run an ad on something else. Big Sugar, which stands to lose needed land they legally promised the state, won't mind throwing a few more bucks Rick's way so he can talk about how great the minimum wage job growth has been here.

There is no break from seeing Rick Scott's mug in the four months since the election ended. The money is wasted on shameless self-promotion: long commercials where he touts his made-up accomplishments and pretends to be good governor. At least his ads when he was running were entertaining. Here's a few good ones....

Monday, March 23, 2015

John Oliver Features My Stupid State Destroying Lives Over Municipal Violations

Municipal violations are extremely minor offenses, for not wearing a seatbelt to failing to vaccinate your ferret. Several cities make a fortune off of these off of the backs of the poorest amongst us because they cannot afford the fines, so private companies step in to rape them for 1000 times more than they owe.

If you don't pay, you can be jailed or have your license taken away. An astonishing 64% of offenders have lost their jobs because they can't drive.

Of course, Florida is featured (6:15). An idiot Sheriff's deputy is bragging (in costume) of all the licenses he took: despite the fact that 88% were due, not to reckless drivers, but people who couldn't pay their fines.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Video: FL Senators Try (and Fail) to Get Rick Scott's FDE Director to Say "Climate Change"

This was kind of mean.

They know Bryan Koon, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency, will be canned if he says those words. It is the worst-kept secret in Tallahassee that Rick Scott threatened anyone in his administration if they simply say the words "climate change".

This Orwellian ban has already punished several state employees. One was ordered to undergo a mental health exam for refusing to not say the forbidden term. Another was suspended. The "words that shall not be spoken" were excised from all official reports--including a report that awkwardly was about climate change impacts.

Employees cannot to use the phrases ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming,’ 'sea level rise,' or ‘sustainability,’ attorney Christopher Byrd, who worked with the department's Office of General Counsel from 2008 to 2013, confirmed to Reuters.

They are given euphemisms to use instead. For example, the term you use for "Sea Level Rise" is "Coastal Resiliency".

The fear amongst the scientists (who Scott literally despises) and officials regarding this is never more apparent than when Bryan Koon was testifying before a Senate committee.

Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, asked him about the federal requirements for planning for climate change.

Koon replied that he was aware of "language to that effect".

Even Senator Jack Latvala, the republican who chaired the committee, joined in on the fun and asked "what were those words"? v Knowing Koon couldn't say the words "climate change", Jeff chimed in suggesting the term "atmospheric redeployment".

Jeff taunted Koon one last time by asking him to say the forbidden term.

Koon responded with "the issue you mentioned earlier".

The exchange can be seen here, starting at the 89:15 mark. Hopefully, someone more tech savvy will make a youtube of just the ending portion. (Dear Lord, don't watch the whole thing, it will bore you to tears. Just jump to the 89:15 mark.)

Even given this outrageous spectacle, Rick Scott still denies he banned any words. I guess everyone in his administration got together on their own and decided they wouldn't say a scientifically accurate term.

Sadly, Miami, according to the National Climate Assessment, is the city most vulnerable to damage from rising sea levels.

I'm sorry, I meant to say "Coastal Resiliency".

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rick Scott Spending Hundreds of Thousands Of Taxpayer Money on Lawyer Fees

This could have all been avoided if more people freaking decided to show up on election day.

Rick Scott's illicit removal of the top law enforcement commissioner with no public vote means a dozen of taxpayer-funded lawyers that are charging up to $400 EACH HOUR. On top of that, if Scott and his Cabinet lose, which is likely, all of the first amendment groups and media outlets suing would be entitled to have their fees and costs recouped.

Scott and Cabinet members have in-house counsel but are allowed under our stupid state to hire expensive outside attorneys while in office for actions "made in the course of duty".

This is hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have gone to save the rape crisis centers that Rick cut. Or money that could have gone to our suffering roads, schools, or heck, even donated to an animal shelter that takes in abandoned dogs---like Rick Scott's puppy.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Tale of Three States: Kansas, California, and Florida

Robert Reich recently pointed out that if you listen to rightwing groups like the Tax Foundation, you would think California is a horrible place for business. These groups rank it in the top 10 worst due to "high cost" and "burdensome environmental regulations". However, these same groups rank Sam Brownback's Kansas as one of the best.

Here's the problem with that:

Kansas is collapsing. In four short years, since the tea party takeover, Kansas has had three credit downgrades along with a billion-dollar budget deficit. They are struggling to fund basic services and their education system is hanging on by a thread, with cutbacks making it almost dead last in teacher quality, pay, student spending and pupil-teacher ratio. It's so bad that REPUBLICAN state Sen. Wint Winter Jr. said Brownback's tax cuts have been a "train wreck".

Yet while the Sunflower state is falling apart, the Eureka State is CRUSHING it.

By any metric you use, California has become the best state in the union for investors. A great Democratic governor (Jerry Brown) and a Democratic-led legislature turned California around in four short years from a 27 billion dollar deficit disaster into a surplus and, according to Bloomberg, an absolute mecca for corporations! California companies in the S&P 500 have delivered returns of 134 percent! (No other state comes close.) These same companies outperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 23%; and CA tech company sales account for 52% of all the tech sales in America.

So how can California have some of the highest business taxes and regulations in America, and yet be the most successful? The answer is simple. California invested in itself!

By cutting education, infrastructure development, and other vital social services, Kansas squandered the billions of dollars into paying for very wealthy people's tax cuts on the zombie alter of the failed cult known as "trickle-down economics". California, on the other hand, asked that its corporations contribute fairly and used the tax money to invest heavily in infrastructure, higher education, and research and development. Companies flocked to California and scored big. Also, as Reich points out, the environmental regulations not only didn't hurt the economy, they EXPANDED it. Companies were driven to fuel innovation in the fast-growing field of renewable energy. Furthermore, California didn't demonize immigrants, they welcomed them and gave undocumented immigrants driver's licenses.

California is once again leading the way.

Rick Scott, of course, is aggressively trying to follow the disastrous Brownback model. He's very lucky that our state has a lot of natural resources, great climate, and tourist attractions that help sustain us during disaster (like a hurricane or the current tea party legislature). However, he has done his damnest to hurt us.

Scott pledged over $266,000,000.00 in tax breaks and incentives for the promise of 45,258 jobs, a large portion of which went to minimum wage jobs with annual salaries that don't even break the poverty line.

Public transportation is a complete joke in this state, and our roads are infamously clogged (unless you want to pay thousands in the extremely corrupted tolling agencies). Rick Scott cut over a billion in education spending and has led the attack on higher education. Scientists are held in very low regard by our state government. Our health care needs are huge, but thanks to Scott and the GOP refusing all subsidies for Medicaid, a a Florida citizen with kids needs to make UNDER $3200 A YEAR to qualify. Our pollution laws have been gutted, and our state is the most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Who the hell wants that? The people with skills you need for your company will go where they will be appreciated. Companies want to go somewhere that at least invests in basic infrastructure: a place where corporate employees can access public transportation and send their kids to receive reasonable k-12 education. Companies want access to a highly skilled labor force, not one where the citizens earn bottom-barrel wages (because that's the overwhelming majority of jobs we have available here). They want a state where they can partner with top schools: Florida's universities our not known for their academic standards as much as they are for their football teams.

Also, since we now have legalized homicide with Stand Your Ground, anyone can claim they had a "reasonable fear" and shoot you in the face even if you are unarmed and minding your own business. OF COURSE you don't want to live here. I DON'T want to live here either. And unless you are starting a company that just wants to exploit cheap labor, you aren't going to move here either no matter how low our tax rate is. It is the same reason I don't choose to live in a dilapidated condo on Orange Blossom Trail. It would save me a lot of money and I wouldn't have to deal with homeowner's association rules and fees, but there is something to be said about quality of life.

I am told by my brainwashed conservative friends that California is terrible, but I don't see boarded up storefronts in San Francisco. I see everyone with a living wage and healthcare. I see carefree and happy, which are two words that are never used to describe Kansas--and since 2010, Florida.

We Need to Push for Guns in the FL State House

Last year, Georgia passed the "guns everywhere" bill, which allowed guns pretty much everywhere: schools, bars, airports, and churches.

The one place they banned guns? The goddamned state legislature. Proving that they didn't buy into their own BS.

We are facing a similar situation with our tea party legislature. As a first step, they are currently on track to forcing our safe college campuses to allow firearms. Like GA, the FL GOP-controlled legislature doesn't want any firearms allowed in their state house.

Screw that. If this passes, we need to go for a Constitutional Amendment that says firearms should be permitted in the State House with no restrictions. Dems will vote for it, and the gun nuts that infect the GOP will go for it. I would LOVE for the GOPers who oppose this to fight against it. What are they going to say? It's unsafe? It's stupid? Please, continue....

Who's with me?

Friday, March 13, 2015

FL House Panel Approves Guns on College Campuses

"It would allow for a tremendous peace of mind for parents to know that there is somebody at the school site who is trained and can actually be there to respond if, God forbid, one of these events happened," said Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami.

In the gun nut mind, a "bad guy" with a gun starts his killing spree somewhere on campus. Say, the library. All of the "good guys" with guns whip out their semi-automatics and fire back at him, Matrix-style. Perhaps delivering the kill shot with a witty line, "Time to check out". BLAM!

Reality: Gun violence is extremely rare on college campuses, due in no small part to colleges being gunfree zones. The last college homicide in Florida was 11 years ago. Sadly, outside of college campuses, gun violence has increased in cities all across Florida. The homicide rate skyrocketed since the passage of Stand Your Ground.

Reality: Several "good guys" with guns firing at a "bad guy" would likely be shot by police, who would have no way of knowing which one is the assailant.

Reality: In an environment where immature youths are not exactly known for making the best decisions with drugs and alcohol, perhaps it's not the best idea to add firearms into the mix.

Even John Thrasher, Koch-appointed FSU president and right-wing extremist, says this is a bad idea. He changed his tune when one of his friend's daughters was shot accidentally at a fraternity party.

Personal tragedy should not have to befall every lawmaker to stop recklessly supporting bills that only serve to spawn more violence.

Unfortunately, if this bill becomes law, the chance of that happening becomes more and more likely.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

MS GOP Lt.Gov Calls Hannity's Show "Terrible" In Open Mic Moment

The video tells the story.

Sean Hannity's "reporter" asked leading questions to two random people protesting in Ferguson, a woman "with a job" and a kid in high school. They were not the most articulate, but that was obviously by design. Hannity could then extrapolate out of those two people his talking point that all the protestors are mis-fed information.

Even though Lt. Gov. Kinder is a fellow wingnut, he shook his head and blurted out "God, that is terrible TV."

He had no idea that he was live!

Hannity heard the comment and seemed startled by it, but continued with his introduction assuming Kinder was with him. As you will see in the video, Kinder wasn't listening and clearly thought he wasn't on camera yet.

When Hannity was done being a blowhard and explaining how people should think (we report, you decide my ass), Hannity asked Kinder a question. Realizing Kinder wasn't listening, Hannity asked, "Peter, can you hear me?"

Whoops! Kinder realized he was on and immediately began rattling off on Sean's talking point. Yes, yes, you are so right, Sean.

But the damage was done.

As I was watching this trainwreck, I couldn't help but compare the quality of Hannity's crap-fest with Rachel Maddow. Heck, I don't have a million lemming followers but even I really do put an effort into my posts to make sure they are accurate and respectful of the intelligence of my audience. God knows that if I make wild assumptions or exaggerate, I am called out by at least a dozen people.

Rachel Maddow holds a doctorate from Oxford in political science. Her show is intelligent and thoroughly researched. I would be embarrassed if she conducted her show as amateurishly as Hannity does his, even though I agree with her point of view. Hannity is a college dropout who was also a failed radio host until he was rescued by Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes. Ailes needed someone incapable of critical thought and would tow the conservative line unquestionably. Hannity fit the bill.

Unlike liberals, conservatives just don't have much of a standard when it comes to someone who spouts their point of view. It is one of the reasons Bill O'Reilly still has a job on Fox even though he is a proven liar. You can lie about everything and you can be terrible, just tow the line.

Deep down conservatives know this, apparently; but it was still refreshing to hear it live.

Watch the video here:

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Rick Scott Solves Climate Change

Who knew it was this easy? Just ban people from saying it....

8 Reasons You Should Enjoy Email-Ghazi

One of my many bosses is a bit of wingnut. He told me that even though Rick Scott defrauded seniors out of millions in Medicaid fraud, he was okay with it because "if he's smart enough to do that, imagine how smart he would be as governor."

This is the same guy that came into my office and was outraged about Hillary's private email server.

I said, so "that's what you're mad about?" Of course. This is isn't one of those non-scandals where working-class people get fucked over. This is involving an innocuous decision by either an Obama or a Clinton. It has all of the three necessary components of a career-ending scandal: government bureaucracy, correspondence, and font.

After all, this would never have happened under a GOP administration. Do you think for a moment that the Secretary of State under George W Bush would have used a private email server to conduct business?

Oh, wait. He Did. Not only did Colin Powell do exactly the same thing, unlike Hillary, he didn't save any of his emails. He deleted all when he left, but that's kewl because his last name isn't Obama or Clinton.

Nonetheless, I was reassured by said boss that this would all be Hillary's undoing. The latest poll, taken just three days ago, completely validates him-- except the opposite. Hillary is leading her top GOP contender by 14 points over John Ellis Bush. And this was a republican poll!

I may not be the biggest Hillary fan, but I love how she can upset republicans like nobody's business. I'm enjoying this for several reasons...and you should too:

1. Realize that conservatives can't see the blatantly obvious: the only people upset about this and ranting like crazy are people who already hate Hillary.

2. Enjoy that this is what they have. This is ALL they have. This is what they will focus on. This is what they will pour money into. I can't wait to see the ads on this.

3. Watch for the conspiracy theory. Nobody can bring out the stupid and crazy that we have come to expect from the GOP. How will this tie into Vince Foster's murder?

4. This will remind everyone, AGAIN, how fake-scandal obsessed the GOP is: Whitewater real estate "scandal", travelgate, pardongate, filegate.... BENGHAZI!!! (Just another 3 years and a few more investigations will make that dam break, dammit!)

5. This will remind us all why we hate republicans. No law was broken, and yet the GOP is in a tizzy while breaking laws every day! Right here in Florida, they are gerrymandering like crazy despite our Constitutional amendment that says they can't. Even RIGHT NOW they are killing the Everglades by refusing to buy critical land to save it, despite a legal contract and yet another Constitutional amendment. So excuse me if I ignore your passion about an email policy.

6. The GOP will go overboard and launch 1000 investigations. When the Bush administration deleted 5 MILLION emails and the Democrats wanted to launch an investigation, they were asked "Are we simply going on a fishing expedition at $40,000 to $50,000 a month?" The person who asked that, by the way, was the king of pointless investigations, Darrell Issa.

Ironically, all of this will lead to the exact same conclusion as Benghazi. The GOP House will have to admit there is no scandal.

7. Hypocritical, righteous indignation on how can anyone be so nontransparent. Scott Walker was outraged by this, I tell you, even though he did the EXACT SAME thing and unlike Hillary, had staff engage in illegal activities. John Ellis Bush (JEB) also used private email to conduct government business along with the government server, but only chose only to selectively release 10% of those emails. When JEB did release the few emails he sent out, he also released people's personal data!

In fact, take a look at all the GOP hopefuls. Notice anything?

8. The GOP actually thinks this will work. So you learn that the GOP voted against eliminating the tax break for outsourcing, AND creating one for insourcing. You then learn about Hillary's email. Which do you think would hold more sway?

By the by, I truly don't care that Bush ever used a private email to conduct government business. He shouldn't have, but after everything that he's done from signing into law Florida's Stand Your Ground to playing god with a woman in a coma, I just can't give a #### about emails and emoticons. But that's just me.

I look forward to reminding my boss about this in a few months, but by then we'll be on to something else. Given that the scandals seem to get lamer each time, I'm thinking it will have something to do with rental fees.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

New Social Media Buttons

So on popular demand, I revised the social media buttons to Share on Facebook, Tweet, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Email. It is finally working, but this also means that all of the Likes I had on Facebook and all the other counters I had are now officially reset to ZERO. I don't mind if this will make a better experience for you. In other news, I have secured a domain name but am having trouble with the web hosting company. This is what I get for building this site on Blogger all of those years ago.

More on Florida's Koch Brothers Killing the Everglades

The Orlando Weekly has picked up last week's post on the Fanjul family destroying our Everglades and has added to it in an article entitled More on that viral blog going around about Florida's Koch Bros. killing the Everglades. Here's an excerpt:

Practically since Florida was settled, people have tried to manipulate the way Lake Okeechobee and its estuaries function – artificial flood control, drainage, levies and canals have been constructed around the lake to make the land surrounding it more useful, and to the south, much of the land – which used to be a direct source of fresh, clean water to the Everglades, which flowed from small tributaries that drained away from the lake – was converted to agricultural use. At one point, there was even an attempt to drain the Everglades and turn it into rich, fertile muck farming land. With agriculture comes agricultural byproducts – chemical runoff, toxic discharges and fertilizers that cause massive algae blooms and poison the water that makes its way south. The University of Florida's Water Institute just released a study recommending that the state accelerate its plans to restore vital watersheds around the lake to protect the Everglades from the poison flowing directly into it.

And the state Legislature now has a chance to buy a big chunk of land from U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, but – shocker – it's not jumping at it. According to the News Service of Florida, legislators are reluctant to buy the land which they have the option to purchase until it expires in October. Then, the land just goes back to being agricultural land owned by the Fanjuls, U.S. Sugar and other interests, and the dumping, algae blooms, nitrates and whatever else Big Sugar pours into the lake and its estuaries keeps coming.

Why is the Legislature dragging its feet on this?

A Ray of Sunshine: Rick Scott Drops Welfare Drug Test Appeals

In the midst of the depressing news about growing scandals and abuses, here's a ray of hope showing that if you put Rick Scott's back to the wall, he'll fold like a house of cards. Scott has declined to further press his appeals on the case regarding drug testing of welfare recipients.

The whole effort was a joke by Scott for several reasons:

  • It was a clear violation of the Constitutional provision against unreasonable searches.
  • It stood to gain him some personal profit, since he owned a company that did drug tests. (He got caught at that one, though.)
  • While it was in effect, it only found a tiny number of drug users. Sure, probably a few drug users just didn't apply for welfare knowing they would test positive. But the state has spent so much on legal fees, and on tests for those who didn't come up positive for drugs, that the expense has outweighed the savings. (The state had to reimburse those who didn't test positive.)
  • Scott once justified the program on the grounds that he was worried about children in families of drug users. For some reason he didn't seem concerned about children in well to do families.
Take it to heart: Rick Scott can be taken down. You just need to find the right tools. With any luck, we'll find one that will earn him an orange jumpsuit wardrobe.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Rick Scott's New FDLE Chief Won't Investigate Corrupt Cops

Rick Scott abruptly ousted the 35-year career veteran and revered head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gerald Bailey, when he refused to do illegal favors for Scott, such as closing investigations on his friends and opening investigations on his enemies. When the scandal broke, (dubbed "Baileygate"), it was so bad that even state leaders in the GOP called for an investigation. (Thank God for Rick that Pam Bondi was elected AG).

So Scott replaced Bailey with a personal friend, Richard Swearingen, who was head of Rick Scott's security detail and was more apt to play ball. So now that ol' Swearingen was sworn in, how are things running at FDLE with his brief tenure?

This should give you an idea:

Earlier this week, the Sentinel reported that an Orlando Police lieutenant — one who specialized in prostitution arrests — had been accused taking nearly $10,000 from a prostitute who said she paid the money "to protect her from getting arrested."

To most people, this looks like a problem. Not, however, to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

After reviewing the woman's complaints — including bank records that showed 17 deposits, totaling $9,500 into an account belonging to Lt. Samuel Riggi — the FDLE concluded: "These allegations do not warrant criminal investigation by FDLE at this time."

The FDLE released a heavily blacked out report on this incident. The local journalist who investigated, Scott Maxwell, said not only did the FDLE not try to get answers, they didn't even interview Lt. Riggi.

It's appalling, I agree. On the other hand, it sounds like Bailey's replacement is more closely aligned to the kind of person Rick Scott is comfortable with.

Orlandoans: We Reject the I-4 Tolls

The massive I-4 project is going to put toll roads on our Interstate. Our lucrative toll roads are already run by one of the most corrupt agencies in Florida history: the Expressway Authority. Recall that last year, Rick Scott got involved and somehow made it even worse. He appointed a personal friend to the board who had a direct conflict of interest, and was so blatant in abusing his position for his own personal gain that he received a 15-year prison term.

The fact that no one pays for crimes in this state means he was really that bad.

With an upcoming election, Rick Scott was forced to do something about this scandal. Instead of dismantling the agency, he made it LARGER and somehow, even more shady. The renamed Central Florida Xpressway Authority is now under investigation by the Federal Security and Exchanges Commission for engaging in backroom deals, including 9.5 million to a secretive bond salesman, Norman Pellegrini.

The funds for our toll roads NEVER go to our community: they only go to make more toll roads lobbyists, developers, board members, and shady politicians. The I-4 tolls will be a windfall for these characters. Toll roads on the interstate, besides being inherently unfair, will breed corruption in a state that already has had it's fill.

Everglades To Be Killed This October by Florida's Own Koch Brothers

Most Floridians don't even know who they are. I wish I didn't. You probably haven't heard of them.

But you are paying them.

TIME magazine has called them the "First Family of Corporate Welfare"

John Ellis Bush (JEB), Rick Scott, and other GOP politicians kowtow to this family like no other. They were a top donor for W. And they are almost singlehandedly destroying our Everglades.

Welcome to Keeping up with the Fanjul family of Palm Beach. The Fanjul family is synonymous with the term "Big Sugar" here in Florida. They control 1/3 of our nation's raw sugar.

This family collects over 60 million a year in Federal subsidies. As a result, you pay an artificially high price for raw sugar, but of course that's not all. You not only support their hedonistic lifestyle (such as Casa De Campo, their 7000 acre multimillion resort), horrible labor practices, and right-wing politics: you support the killing of our Everglades National Park.

I am not being hyperbolic. The Park is actually going to die, along with Miami's fresh water supply.

One of their subsidiaries is Florida Crystals (among other sugar affiliates). You can see how much of the Everglades that is by itself on the map below. (See the orange and yellow)

That huge lake is Lake Okeechobee, the 2nd largest freshwater lake in the Continental United States. You can pick it out on any map because it is so large. The Fanjul's use this lake to irrigate their crops. The discharge is toxic.

The irrigated water should be recycled in a reservoir, but it isn't. The family dumps it in the coastal estuaries. The level of toxic algae it creates is stunning.

Before Tallahassee was taken over by teabags, our state was making an effort to clean up the Everglades. The one crucial piece was a binding contract that the sugar industry signed that would sell land to the state to create a reservoir. Not only that, Florida passed Amendment 1 last year. The whole purpose of that amendment was to guarantee a source of funding for land acquisition to protect Florida's Everglades and our very fragile estuaries.

Despite the GOP's election wave last year, Amendment 1 received 78% of the vote.

Our state has an opportunity to buy the land we need from Big Sugar, (the land is shown in the article here), at fair market value. The University of Florida issued a report yesterday to say it's desperately needed. The contract ends on October 12, 2015.

Unfortunately, it isn't going to happen.

Our GOP legislature and, as always, Gov. Sick Scott, are steadfastly refusing to purchase the land we were promised. You see, one big reason the rightwing interests didn't pour money into fighting Amendment 1 is they knew they could just ignore it. Just look at Amendments 5 and 6 back in 2010: they were supposed to end gerrymandering. Didn't happen. They completely ignored those as well, which is why every black neighborhood from Jacksonville to Orlando is crammed into District 5. Because f*** you.

In fact, the only amendment that Pam Bondi and Rick Scott ever fought for was the only one declared illegal by the courts: banning gay marriage.

Rick Scott cares nothing about the Everglades. Heck, he made money allowing fracking in the Everglades before he was caught (and still won re-election). Of course he's not going to care about toxic water.

By the way, if all of this is new to you, I don't blame you. As always, our local media is silent. Also, our state party hasn't said anything. Heck, even though this critical issue is next to our DNC chair's home, Debbie-Wasserman, she hasn't said one word. She is too wrapped up in a failed Senate run.

Please go to and add your name. At the very least, we can let our politicians know that we were watching.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Buy this land

We have the opportunity to buy 46,800 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area at fair market value until Oct. 12. After that, the contract expires and we will never get another shot at building the reservoir for the Everglades.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

How Florida would look with fair districts

Is it that hard to create an algorithm to draw legislative districts after each census? Why do self-interested politicians need to be involved at all?

The answer to both questions is NO.

These programs and algorithms already exist. Brian Olson is a software engineer in Massachusetts who wrote a program to draw "optimally compact" equal-population congressional districts in each state, based on 2010 census data. Olson's algorithm draws districts that respect the boundaries of census blocks, which are the smallest geographic units used by the Census Bureau.

And as you can see, the states look A LOT better. Just look at Florida!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Latest Reading on the Corrections Barometer

The Tampa Bay Times tells the latest news. As I pointed out in a comment I left, it's clear that the Scott administration is slow-walking the process of getting rid of these prison health vendors who have screwed up the system so badly. You can't help but think that if it hadn't been for these corporations being donors to Scott's campaign, they would have been out on their posteriors by now, rather than us waiting for some vague timeframe "before the start of 2016" for changes to occur.

So for now, this barometer reads "Tea Party Rick Scott" in charge.

Yeah, it's MINORITIES Stealing White Roles. F**k you Michelle Rodriguez!

Failed, mediocre actress Michelle Rodriguez (@mrodofficial) proved why some people shouldn't try to talk outside of a script. She was asked about her portraying a Green Lantern in an upcoming movie. Her response:

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Because of this whole 'minorities in Hollywood' thing ... It's so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people's superheroes. Make up your own!

Michelle's "evidence" included Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and the recent online campaign for Idris Elba to become Bond. (In which case she has a soulmate in bigot extraordinaire Rush Limbaugh.)

Yeah, that's the problem. Minorities are stealing all the superhero roles. That's why you never see a white male playing a superhero, except for Batman. And Superman. And Iron man. And Green lantern. And Spiderman. And Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Mr. Fantastic, Spiderman, and fuck it... every other comic book hero I can think of!

So allow me to respond.

First of all, Fuck you Michelle.

I think Hollywood has a LOT of problems, but white people being passed over for minority roles is NOT one of them! White actors get cast far more than performers of all other races combined. The fact they get a few scraps doesn't mean white roles are suddenly endangered.

Secondly, the green lantern roles weren't written to be "white" Two of the most popular green lantern characters in the comics were John Stewart (black) and Kyle Raner (Hispanic).

Third, I don't recall YOU or Rush or any of the white bigots defending your ignorant self-hating statement ever complaining about white actors playing roles that were SPECIFICALLY written for minorities!

Have you watched a movie called the Hunger Games? The character of Katniss was "Olive-skinned" and "dark-haired" according to the book. The author was very detailed in her descriptions of the physical appearance of the characters. However, the casting call director specified that the role should go to a "Caucasian" actress!

J-Law did fine in her portrayal, yet so could have 1000s of talented, olive-skinned young women whom that role was intended for--especially considering roles for dark-skinned women in Hollywood are hard to come by. They were never even given a shot because the role, in this day and age, was for "Whites Only"!

I also don't ever remember complaints from people saying "roles should be pure" when Jake Gyllenhaal played the lead role of the god-awful "Prince of Persia", and you can't tell me he was the "best actor" for the role. He sucked. The film suffered.

In Cloud Atlas, Jim Sturgess played an Asian superhero in full "yellowface", complete with horrible prosthetic slant-eyes. This was soon after he took a role based on an Asian character in the film "21". When there was outrage, he responded by this sensitive tweet:

@mrjimsturgess Yellowface? Blackface? Pinkface? Pinkberry? Blackberry? Crackberry? Blueberry? Strawberry? Bananas? Frozen Yogurt? All the toppings? Lovely!


Where was Michelle Rodriguez then?

Avatar, the Last Airbender, was a tremendous animated series with an ethnically diverse cast of characters. M. Night saw them and decided to make all the leads white. (Although since his adaptation is possibly the worst film ever made, I can't say I'm too disappointed in that instance.)

I can't think of too many instances, as in any, where a minority stole a white role. In just the past few years, however, I could talk about Ben Affleck's hero in Argo, who was actually Hispanic. Or KAAAAHHN being portrayed by ultrawhite Benedict Cumberbatch; Angelina Jolie portraying the Cuban/African wife of Danny Pearl; Johnny Depp playing Tonto; and the entire nation of Egypt being played by Anglo-Saxons in Ridley Scott's/Rupert Murdoch's "Exodus".

I could write pages more, but you get the point.

Michele's buddy, racist blowhard Rush Limbaugh, (whom she fucking quoted), argued that an accomplished British actor can't be 007 because he could never be black. He was "Scottish", we are told.

The fact that there are Scottish black people never entered the bigoted mind, nor the fact that every other actor past Sean Connery who portrayed 007 HASN'T BEEN SCOTTISH! Roger Moore, Daniel Craig-- and Pierce Brosnan isn't even British!

And please don't get me started on every person in film who has portrayed Jesus. White Caucasians weren't in Judea 2000 years ago, you idiots. He doesn't have sandy blonde hair and blue eyes, Megyn Kelly.

But this obviously was never about keeping a character "true to a role". And this sure as hell isn't about picking "the best" (which only ever happens when a white person is picked for a minority role). And finally, to address Michele's nonapology, this is not about helping minorities "come up with their own stuff"--they can't even fucking play the roles that are theirs. This is about white privilege. This is about status quo. Hollywood is a white industry.

As Chris Rock put it in his excellent essay on this subject, if there is a hot role in Hollywood, not everyone reads for it.

It was never like "Is it going to be Ryan Gosling or Chiwetel Ejiofor for Fifty Shades of Grey?"
This won't change unless we are more vocal about what is going on.

As for Michelle Rodriguez, I would love to boycott her films, but she has nothing I ever want to see. Fast and furious should have died six sequels ago. It seems she's doing a good job killing her own career faster than I can help.