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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering PTSD




Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who have given their lives in service to this country.

But what day is set aside for those vets who lose the battle upon return home?

A Talk to Me reader remembers such a friend.

"W. was already getting 70% for physical injuries having been badly wounded in Viet Nam by a booby trap at the age of 18. I knew how difficult it was for him to live with his injuries and he complained to me about his awful, repetitive night mares. I did what I could to get him help but it was not enough. His quality of life sucked and the compensation he was receiving was not enough to lift him out of poverty. Well, W. finally got an answer from the DVA about his claim, it was denied! W. then was unable to live with his demons any longer, went out into his back yard, and hung himself last Friday. ... Now I have known W. long enough to know he was certainly suffering from PTSD. I myself am a victim and I know lots of other vets who are also suffering. What is the problem with the DVA? Why was this deserving man allowed to slip through the cracks, like so many others and end his life?"

Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth want the answer to that very question. Earlier this month, both organizations filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the VA "...for allegedly failing to provide medical and mental healthcare to injured servicemen and women returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ... The case claims individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, are being deprived of mental health services in the early phases of the illness, when identification and treatment are critical."

(...)

A recent report revealed that 38% of soldiers and 50% of National Guard members coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan have mental health issues, ranging from stress disorder to brain injuries. The lawsuit claims that only 27 of the VA's 1,400 hospitals around the country have in patient post-traumatic stress disorder programs.

"The major thrust of this case is that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical side and the adjudication side are experiencing unprecedented delays in death and disability compensation," says lawyer Gordon Erspamer. "There are huge backlogs from the initial filing of claims (600,000 pending claims at the regional offices) and huge numbers at every stage of the appeal process."

Erspamer explains that this backlog is so overwhelming that it now takes about three years at the first stage of appeal and almost four years at the first court appeal. Meanwhile, on the medical side, the VA is turning away veterans for lack of resources and/or qualified doctors.

The government has moved to dismiss.

If you or a loved one has suffered damages in this health care case, please click here for more information regarding how to file a complaint.

For those veterans with thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Crisis counselors man the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7. Call 1-800-273-TALK. Veterans Press 1.

Don't wait. It may be too late for W but it's not too late for you.

Thank you for your service.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Weekend Zen




Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here .

Johnny Cash.

Hurt.

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Unhappy Friday: Unimaginable Tragedy



My hopes were that today's post would be one of triumph over a pulsating rip in the floor of the Gulf. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing such has not occurred.

On Thursday, an emotional Charlie Melancon spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The U.S. Representative and Louisiana native solemnly expressed what is becoming more and more evident with each passing day. "Our culture is threatened, our coastal economy is threatened, everything I know and love is at risk."

Everything I know and love is at risk.

This country's inability to seriously consider alternative sources of energy has brought us to a moment now referred to as one of "unimaginable tragedy".

We watch and wait. But will we ever learn?

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Would Ronald Reagan Offer Joe Sestak a Job?



The Republican minority has tried for well over a year and a half into the Obama presidency to make something (anything) stick to curtail any leaps and bounds forward from the wreckage left behind by the previous President that no one is supposed to mention any more.

Joe Sestak is the latest tarball to be thrown.

For those of you busy living your life away from the latest pathetic Right shipwreck, the lead up goes a bit like this.

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) recently defeated Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary for U.S. Senate. As the story goes, "... chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (offered) Rep. Joe Sestak an administration appointment in exchange for Sestak's not challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary."

Sestak--a three star Admiral and 31 year Navy vet--turned down the position of Secretary of the Navy, a job offer for which he is obviously well-qualified. Sestak himself indicated as much during a recent interview.

Such a statement is the equivalent to tossing chum into Republican shark-infested waters.

Seven old sharks--U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Jon Kyl or Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma--have formally queried Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the current situation similar to one that once went around.

Meaning...the conservative answer to all things bright and beautiful--President Ronald Reagan-- made a similar deal.

The Wilmington Morning Star,
November 26, 1981

Hayakawa's 'Not Interested' in Any Reagan Job Offer

Sen. S.I. Hayakawa on Wednesday spurned a Reagan administration suggestion that if he drops out of the crowded Republican Senate primary race in California, President Reagan would find him a job.

"I'm not interested," said the 75-year-old Hayakawa.

"I do not want to be an ambassador, and I do not want an administration post."

[...]

In an interview earlier this week, Ed Rollins, who will become the president's chief political adviser in January, said Hayakawa would be offered an administration post if he decided not to seek re-election. No offer has been made directly to Hayakawa, Rollins said.

Similarly, Hayakawa said in a statement, "I have not contacted the White House in regard to any administration or ambassadorial post, and they have not been in contact with me."


Ouch. That's a GOP plank walker. (Read the article in its entirety here).

As for that other President, the guy who served up a hot mess over two terms who shall remain nameless in this post? Well, "...former Bush (whoomp, there it is!) administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter offered the following observation: "The allegation that the job offer was somehow a 'bribe' in return for Sestak not running in the primary is difficult to support."

(...)

“Nice try” is what I would say to the White House. I would prefer if the White House were to stay out of Democratic primaries and focus on the tasks at hand. Then again, President Bush occasionally intervened in Republican primaries (including on behalf of Senator Specter in 2004). The less partisan politics in the White House the better (I would like to see the President abolish the White House Office of Political Affairs). This, however, is nothing new and it hardly rises to the level of a major ethics controversy.


Now, that's just embarrassing.
(Read more over at Legal Ethics Forum, 5/24/2010).

To summarize, if political horse-trading were illegal, our prisons would be filled with politicians (and lobbyists).

Turn off the Faux Noise, head to the beach. I'll keep an eye on the landsharks.

***
"I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny - Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.

--Senator Margaret Chase Smith, (R-ME)
Years of service: 1949-1973

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crist and Rubio Fail Copyright 101




Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio are spinning "right round round round".

David Byrne of the Talking Heads has filed a $1,000,000 lawsuit against Crist for use of the tune Road to Nowhere while Steve Miller played nice with Rubio and merely asked Take the Money and Run no longer be used by the Senator wannabe.

Both Florida candidates for U.S. Senate used the recordings without proper permission to attack each other's...

...record.

Snare roll, cymbals crash.

I'm here all night.

Be sure to tip your waitress.




***

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Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Clean an Oiled Bird



Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, the International Bird Rescue Research Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are out working the front lines providing triage for birds downed by ill effects encumbered by the ever-belching BP oil leak in the Gulf.

We've all seen the photographs. But would any of us know what to do if confronted with a bird weighed down by oil?

Because untrained handling could induce further trauma, best case scenario is get the bird to the closest treatment facility. Once assessed and stabilized by the experts, a warm bubble bath of one percent Dawn soap is drawn for our impacted friends.

As reported by Popular Mechanics:

(...)

"... As one person holds the bird, another washes its feathers vigorously. Toothbrushes and cotton swabs help remove caked oil from the bird's head and eyes, and a Waterpik removes oil exclusively around the eyes. When tub water gets dirty, rescuers move the bird to a second, third and fourth tub until the water remains clear. It can take up to 15 tubs until the bird gets clean; one pelican can require 300 gallons of water."

Rinsing can be just as important as washing, according to the IBRRC. Trained volunteers, biologists and vets use a special spa nozzle, set to a specific water pressure, to rinse the detergent from the bird's feathers. When the suds are all gone, the birds sit under a pet drier (hairdryers hurt aquatic birds' skin) and preen their feathers. "Bird feathers are naturally waterproof but after washing, each feather must be aligned properly," writes IBRRC executive director Jay Holocomb on the organization's website. "Each feather is made up of microscopic barbs and barbules that hook together like Velcro. Once hooked together, they become a tight waterproof barrier. Each properly aligned feather overlaps another like shingles on a roof, creating a temperature-controlled barrier."


See for yourself over at AudubonMagazine.org.

(In retrospect, it's hard to believe danger to the winged ones is a much mentioned downside parroted by anti-windmill types).

You can help the effort without donning a Hazmat suit. One bottle of Dawn equals one dollar donated to wildlife relief efforts. Find out how your purchase makes you an Everyday Wildlife Champion over at Proctor and Gamble.

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Florida's Wabba Dabba Do




While Rand Paul Palin-ed out of Sunday's Meet the Press, a whole lot of newsmaking was going on right here at home.

***

--The NAACP and the League of Women Voters filed suit in attempt to strike Amendment 7 from the November 2 ballot. The Florida Legislature hurriedly wrote and just as hurriedly passed their version of a redistricting amendment through the Senate at the close of session to counter and confuse voters regarding two anti-gerrymandering citizen initiatives, Amendment 5 and 6.

League of Women Voters President Deirdre Macnab sums up Faux Districts 7 as "dishonest". "Our whole lawsuit is based upon the premise that this amendment does many things that are misleading in the way they're worded," Meyer said. "It's written with such wabba dabba that constitutional lawyers have trouble figuring out what it does, much less the ordinary voter."

Upon passage, Fair Districts Amendment 5 and 6 would amend the Florida Constitution to ensure that post-census, voting districts are redrawn based on keeping communities intact rather than allowing the Party in legislative power to redistrict to favor or disfavor a political party.

Passage of Amendment 7 would negate both or either/or Amendment 5 and 6.

Read more over at The Palm Beach Post, 5/21/2010.

***

--It's two--two--two endorsements for U.S. Senate by the Florida Education Association: candidates Charlie Crist, Independent and Democrat Kendrick Meek.
``Kendrick Meek has always been a strong backer of public education and our positions for as long as he has been in public service,'' FEA President Andy Ford said. ``We think an independent Charlie Crist working for Floridians would also be a great asset in the Senate.''

Noticeably absent from roll call. Republican candidate Marco Rubio.

Read more over at The Miami Herald, 5/23/2010.

***

--With Rand Paul AWOL, the Meet the Press gang had plenty of time to dish BP Oil in the Loop. Seems those who have covered the toughest news stories of our time are a bit worried by what this way may come.

(...)

MR. WOODWARD: The, the question is, what do you do now? And I, I mean, look, this whole thing may be not just going around Florida...

MR. GREGORY: Yeah.

MR. WOODWARD: ...but up the East Coast.

MR. GREGORY: And you just...

MR. WOODWARD: My God, it's going to come right here and destroy your set before, before the year is up.


Journalist Bob Woodward had suggested earlier in the conversation that perhaps the great minds of Google should be consulted on How Best to Plug a Leak.

Read the transcript over at NBC.

***

Wabba. Dabba. Do.

Talk to Me.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekend Zen



School's out with fever

School's out completely.

Alice Cooper.

School's Out.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Friday



Hello, Summer.




It's the last day of school.

Happy Friday.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Arlen Specter et al




The people of Pennsylvania chose last night's primary to retire long-time Senator Arlen Specter.

Party-switching may be somewhat frowned upon up that way, but mixed with a sentiment of an anti-incumbent citizen rumble grumble combined with low voter turn-out in traditionally held Specter country--with more than 90 percent of (Philadelphia) precincts reporting, fewer than 160,000 voters had cast ballots--all the bananas fell into place for Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak.

Facing a tough Republican primary not too long back, Specter tossed his Republican moniker for more Democratic views. Wasn't the first time either. Back in the 1960's, he jumped ship from the Dems to the Reps, a strategy that politically worked for over thirty years. But these days, many feel such action appears a big opportunist. "I wasn't sent to Washington to play it safe," Specter said last night. "I have something to show for what I've done."

I imagine if Arlen Specter were Charlie Crist's age, he'd consider an Independent run. Yet, the low voter show in his home area of Philly is one heckuva send-off hard to ignore.

In other national primary news, Senator Blanche Lincoln faces a primary run-off against her Democratic rival Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, John Murtha's former assistant Mark Critz won his late boss's seat and Kentuckians salute Rand Paul with a raised cup of tea in congratulations for his easy win in the Republican primary.

And here at home, the bigger story--tar balls wash up on the Keys.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Florida Law Struck Down by SCOTUS



The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that juveniles convicted of crimes other than murder cannot be sentenced to life with no chance of parole.

"Life in prison without the possibility of parole gives no chance for fulfillment outside prison walls, no chance for reconciliation with society, no hope," Justice Kennedy wrote. "The juvenile should not be deprived of the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential."

Currently, 129 prisoners serve time under such a sentence. Seventy-seven of those prisoners serve time in Florida.

With the Florida law struck down by the Court's decision, AG Bill McCollum fully expects "...offenders in this case be resentenced to a very long term in prison." (So much for hope and reconciliation).

Are get tough policies the best approach to use with juveniles?

Talk to Me.

(Read more over at The Sentencing Project and Youth Today).

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Brevard County Libraries




Victor Hugo once said, A library implies an act of faith.

Simply, the library lends the books for patron check-out and the patron brings the books back.

That relationship --so neatly bookended in good financial times--stands at risk here in Brevard County, both in our school and county libraries. Media assistants face the loss of their jobs next school year as the School Board tightens the financial belt while the public libraries struggle to maintain financial footing.

The Brevard County Library Board recently asked the County Commission to consider raising the present library tax rate of $44.21 per $100,000 of assessed to $57.50, the old rate from 2005.

Two of Brevard's five county commissioners--Andy "a tax increase is a tax increase, period!" Anderson and Trudi "the libraries are mismanaged" Infantini--decried that option with a couple of flaps of the Tea Party flag. Helping to lead the charge, WMMB morning radio talk show, Bill Mick, who recently referred to those who stood in support of the library as a "yellow-shirted gang".

Mary Bolin, Chuck Nelson and Robin Fischer demonstrated faith in the heartbeat of the community by voting to keep the libraries off life support by directing staffers to research the "rolling up" of the library special-district tax rate.

The libraries are a service to us all, regardless of religious or political beliefs. In my opinion as a taxpayer, it's the best money the public's tax dollars can spend and as a citizen, it's my kind of no money fun. Yet, why is it these learned founts of knowledge are the first to be financially targeted by the no tax types?

Back in 2007, the Commission postponed the opening of four proposed libraries. (The Eau Gallie Library, 3/14/2007) That same year, the big discussion revolved about the cost of the complimentary plastic book bags offered patrons. (Paper vs. Plastic, 7/18/2007) In both cases, saving a few bucks led the conversation. And who isn't for saving a few bucks?

But cutting out the heart of the community through closing branches, slashing hours and increasing user fees?

No. Way.

But I've got an idea.

Why don't we save a few bucks by reducing the County Commission by two seats? Anderson and Infantini can be the first to go.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weekend Zen



She's my Tallahassee lassie


Down in F-L-A.


Freddy Cannon with Andy Kaufman on conga.

Tallahassee Lassie.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Friday: It's Pain Time, Baby




We, the People of Florida need Terry Tate in Tallahassee.





Speaking of pain, check out just Who's Who running for office here in Brevard.

Happy Friday.

(Video won't load? Watch here).

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Faux Districts



Pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, sit back and get familiar with Faux Districts (or what the Miami Herald calls The Incumbent Protection Act).

The redistricting amendment shoved through the Senate at the close of session counters two anti-gerrymandering citizen initiatives on the ballot November 2.

The Miami Herald, 4/21/2010:

(...)

"Legislators failed to quash the state petition drive that will put amendments 5 and 6 on the ballot. Their lawsuit failed, and now they're betting on legislative tactics. Blaming the Republicans in charge is easy, but the truth is this is about power, and the Democrats have their own sorry history on gerrymandering to stay in control.

(...)

Amendments 5 and 6 would make it much harder to manipulate redistricting to serve any special interest. Districts would have to be compact, contiguous and ensure fair representation for minorities and communities so that cities like Fort Lauderdale wouldn't be split up into four congressional districts. If new districts don't meet those requirements, voters could -- and should -- take the issue to court."
The Florida Constitution stipulates the process of redistricting after completion of the Census. What is not stipulated--the favor or disfavor of a political party upon redistricting. The constitution must be amended to include such language.

Placing the Legislative Amendment on the ballot is one smacker of a dirty political trick. Should all three Amendments pass, the Legislative Amendment negates voter passage of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6.

So get knowledgeable and pass the word to friends and families about the wool the state legislature is attempting to drop before their eyes.

Vote YES for Fair Districts Amendment 5 and 6.


***


THE FAIR: VOTE YES!

FairDistrictsFlorida Reforms:

AMENDMENT 5

STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

BALLOT SUMMARY: Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

Full text:

In establishing Legislative district boundaries:


(1) No apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.


(2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.


(3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.

AMENDMENT 6

STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING


BALLOT SUMMARY: Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.

Full text:

In establishing Congressional district boundaries:

(1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.

(2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.

(3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.

***
THE FAUX: VOTE NO!


The Legislative Solution:


HJR 7231 AND SJR 2288:

The Florida Constitution requires the Legislature, by joint resolution at its regular session in the second year after the United States Census, to apportion state legislative districts. The United States Constitution requires the reapportionment of the United States House of Representatives every ten years, which includes the distribution of the House‘s 435 seats between the states and the equalization of population between districts within each state.

Two citizen initiatives, related to redistricting, have secured placement on the 2010 General Election ballot. Amendments 5 and 6, promoted by FairDistrictsFlorida.org, would add standards for state legislative and congressional redistricting to the Florida Constitution. The amendments do not contain definitions for the proposed new standards, which may have the effect of restricting the range of redistricting choices available under the federal Voting Rights Act.

The proposed joint resolution would create a new Section 20 to Article III of the Florida Constitution. The new section would add new state constitutional standards for establishing legislative and congressional district boundaries. The proposed standards in the joint resolution would complement the proposed standards in Amendment 5 and 6 and provide for a balancing of the various constitutional redistricting standards.

Specifically, the proposed joint resolution would require that the state apply federal requirements in its balancing and implementing of the redistricting standards in the state constitution. Both the equal opportunity of racial and language minorities to participate in the political process and communities of interest are established as standards that are on equal footing as any other standard in the state constitution. Therefore minority access districts can be considered, and communities of interest can be respected and promoted, as matters of legislative discretion. Finally, the joint resolution asserts that districts and plans are valid if the standards in the state constitution were balanced and implemented rationally and consistent with federal law.

The proposed joint resolution would require approval by 60% of the voting electorate in Florida‘s 2010 General Election.

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The Party is Over



Last week, I observed "the same people who shoved their way into the Schiavo family uninvited shove(d) their way into the medical examination room waving a mandated ultrasound" as political follow-up to the otherwise bone-headed (and eventually vetoed) legislative proposal known as SB6 aka Merit Pay). (The Florida Ultra-Conservatives, 5/3/10).

I picked up on a sense of desperation on the part of the Republican majority and commented upon on a sense of tides turning, similar to Marco Rubio's plummeting polls once Crist bolted for the zen of No Party Affiliation.

After years of a majority lock of the state legislature, why the big rush to push through extreme legislation, as in extremely crafted and extreme in political ideology? Do they feel as I that Florida voters will soon whip out the Tallahassee welcome mat out from under them?

Yes. But not in the traditional voting sense.

The midterms elections are always a touch and go sort of event as far as citizens showing up at the polls, unless voters have their eye on a horse in the big race. No worries come November 2010. The Rubio-Crist Senate Derby will certainly drive voters to the polls. Also, the incessant tea pot whistling "vote 'em out" has voters motivated and ready to clean house....any House.

In my beloved state, the Florida GOP (especially those holding the neo-con seats) expect voter turn-out tsnaumi huge this November.

And Fair Districts is on the ballot.

After years drawing their own districts to ensure reelection, the current majority sees the writing on the wall. (Fair Districts, 5/11/2010). Should every Floridian vote YES for Fair Districts Amendment 5 and 6, the power lock for their party--for any party--is over.

Future civic-minded hopefuls running for a state legislative seat will make their case before their own communities, whether overwhelmingly blue, overwhelming red or a mixture of the two. Should Fair Districts pass, future political races in Florida will truly become competitive.

These guys won't go down easy. Expect a legislative ad campaign to rival health care.

And that's what all the rush is about. With the passage of
Fair Districts Amendment 5 and 6), the Party is over for the GOP (and they know it).

Vote. Vote. VOTE.

(And vote YES for Fair Districts Amendment 5 and 6).

Take Florida back.



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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fair Districts



Republicans sit back in cozy control of 64% of the state legislative seats. Yet, only 36% of Florida voters are Republicans.

With all the political eggs obviously gathered in the one basket, who let the fox into the hen house?

Mr. Gerry Mander opened the door.

Talk to Me (Meet Mr. Gerry Mander, (8/6/2007):

(...)

Redistricting updates district lines to reflect shifts in population to guarantee the equality of your vote.

Let's use the creation of the 24th Congressional district--(formerly Tom) Feeney's district--as an example of what happens when too many Hatfields run Appalachia. The Republican majority drew lines to dip and weave through the friendly and unfriendly areas of Brevard, Orange, Seminole and Brevard counties, creating a district of the then 156,292 registered Republicans compared to 126,976 Democrats.

Gerry help(ed) Tom get a lock on his district. Once elected, incumbents like Feeney--are virtually protected from outside competitors. In many cases--as witnessed here locally--incumbents ran unopposed because the McCoys can't run a competitive campaign against a Hatfield in a territory controlled by--you got it...the Hatfields.

Gerry helps out unopposed incumbents because they don't need your vote anymore to retain office. As a result, elected officials become less accountable to their constituents and more allegiant to their party, who in turn provides a hand up the political ladder.

Without fear of being held accountable for their lack of productivity, state legislators don't sweat the bad times of property tax reform and insurance crisis too badly. They know Gerry's got their back--at least, until term limited out. The fun starts all over again with Gerry leading the game of Political Musical Chairs , almost guaranteeing the faces will simply swap political seats in Hatfield county.


Fair Districts will help Katie bar the door against legislative and congressional Etch A Sketch. The citizen initiative--Fair Districts Amendments 5 and 6 --is on the ballot this November. With the passage, communities would remain intact, preventing the creative division among multiple representatives.

The current majority (including some members of the minority) is none too keen on the possible loss of their power grab and have initiated their own redistricting plan in the form of a constitutional amendment. Although FairDistricts addresses "...the (fair) representation of racial and language minority voters...", with the passage of both amendments, that's the wedge factor state Senator Mike Haridopolos chose to dissuade voters.


The Miami Herald, 5/11/10):

(...)

Haridopolos helped propose another amendment -- also on the ballot -- that says lawmakers shall ``take into consideration the ability of racial and language minorities to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice.'' The amendment also says ``communities of interest other than political parties may be respected and promoted.'' That brings the number of redistricting amendments to three on the ballot.

Haridopolos said the new amendment ``clarifies'' the Fair Districts proposals. Opponents say it causes confusion, in part because ``communities of interest'' isn't clearly defined.

Senate Democratic leader Al Lawson and Democratic Sen. Gary Siplin, leader of the black caucus, sided with Haridopolos. In the House, Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg was the only black Democrat who supported the Republican initiative.

Siplin acknowledged that he helped draft the amendment to ``protect'' senators like him.

During redistricting, Haridopolos says, it's also ``possible'' that a minority-heavy congressional seat in the Orlando area might be drawn with Siplin in mind.



Expect lots of dollars to be spent in effort to confuse Floridians into thinking the Legislature actually knows what's best for us.

As I said back in 2007, kick Gerry out.

Incumbency should not be a monarchy--for any political party.

Read more about FairDistrictsFlorida here.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Oink




"For the chicken, it’s no big deal to give up a couple of eggs for breakfast. There’s plenty more where those Grade A’s came from. But for the pig? Giving up the bacon is a total sacrifice."

Should you contribute money to a political campaign this year?

Sunday Debate your pro or con viewpoint.


Talk to Me.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Weekend Zen




This summer I hear the drumming.

Four dead in Ohio.

Neil Young. Ohio.


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Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Friday: FOX News

Belgian artist Francis Alys lets a fox roam free after hours in the National Portrait Gallery.



Seen from the high viewpoint of the security cameras, the fox (named Bandit) looks a little puzzled among all the paintings of the great and the good. Like the guards, the fox is out of context; an intruder, observed dispassionately.

Pun intended.

Happy Friday.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

5 Myths about Immigration



The Washington Post bills 5 Myths as "a challenge to everything you think you know."

Doris Meissner
authored the May 2nd post, discussing the 5 Myths about Immigration. The former U.S. Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization and senior fellow at The Migration Policy Institute took the list online in discussion to address the following misconceptions commonly held by many against immigrants.


1. Immigrants take jobs from American workers.

2. Immigration is at an all-time high, and most new immigrants came illegally.

3. Today's immigrants are not integrating into American life like past waves did.

4. Cracking down on illegal border crossings will make us safer.

5. Immigration reform cannot happen in an election year.


The responses may challenge everything you thought you knew.

Read the answers
here.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Rasmussen of Marco Rubio




The Poll conservatives enjoy quoting best places Charlie Crist in the lead of a three way race for U.S. Senate.

(...)

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Florida Voters finds Crist earning 38% support to Republican Marco Rubio’s 34% and Democrat Kendrick Meek’s 17%. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

(...)

...Republicans and unaffiliated voters in Florida are more likely than Democrats to have voted for an independent.


The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent age points, so basically Rubio is either inching ahead or falling behind, depending on one's view through the political looking glass. The poll also found 62 percent approved of Crist's performance as governor, a 6 point jump since April.

Either way, this race Crist has lopped off plus or minus 20 points from Rubio's previous lead.

Those are the sort of numbers prompting response.

And apparently, the best the Florida GOP can think up is to auction off a doesn't look so much like Crist portrait on eBay. Oh, and launch a website www.CantTrustCharlie.com.

(Didn't take the Reps long to link up a photo of Crist with the jailed attorney Scott Rothstein, who ponzi-ed about South Florida to the tune of $1.2 billion. The flip through the family photo albums also turns up additional photos of conservative favorites all smiles with the scam artist, i.e. Ms. Suddenly Silent on Oil Drilling Sarah Palin and her former governor colleague and current Marco Rubio puppeteer, Jeb Bush.

The Florida Senate race will be some fun to watch, especially so, since the story has gone national.

Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil




“There was a tower of flame and the most amazing spectacle — the burning oil would hit the ground, and bounce up, and explode, and leap again and fall again, and great red masses of flame would unfold, and burst, and yield black masses of smoke, and these in turn red. Mountains of smoke rose to the sky, and mountains of flame came seething down to the earth; every jet that struck the ground turned into a volcano, and rose again, higher than before; the whole mass, boiling and bursting, became a river of fire, a lava flood that went streaming down the valley, turning everything it touched into flame, then swallowing it up and hiding the flames in a cloud of smoke.”


Upton Sinclair, Oil! (1927)






"The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s--air pollution and risk of oil spills--are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969. There hasn't been a major drilling related spill since then, though shipping oil by tanker continues to be risky, as the Exxon Valdez taught us. To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes in the 1950s."


--Steven Hayward, The Energy Policy Morass (April 26, 2010)

***


The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
(1908 – 1990)


Florida watches...and waits.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Florida Ultra-Conservatives




As I observed the same people who shoved their way into the Schiavo family uninvited shove their way into the medical examination room waving a
mandated ultrasound, I pondered what was going on with Florida lawmakers?

It's as if the Republican-led legislature is pulling out all stops and by doing so, is crashing and burning as so adeptly characterized by Florida Today editorial cartoonist Jeff Parker.

With Governor Charlie Crist parachuting to safety via veto of the Merit Pay bill, why continue to push the ultra-conservative moral agenda through with what smacks of the hint of desparation?

The Florida GOP has held power for many years. Why the big push of the moral agenda on the rest of us Floridians knowing full well a line-item veto wielding moderate U.S. Senate-seeking Governor sits in the Big Chair?

Does this group of ultra-conservatives feel Florida voters will soon whip out the Tallahassee welcome mat out from under them? Did Crist betray a seemingly hand-picked group of legislators with a hidden agenda--Thrasher, Haridopolos, Cannon and Jeb Bush governing from the sidelines--who wrongly assumed the governor a member of the team?

Or has this group of very few people simply lost their moral compass?

As reported by TCPalm (2/2/2010):

(...)

Around the Capitol, most trace the conservative revolution back to July 26 — when Sen. Jim King died at age 69. He was a giant in the state Senate, helping steer the chamber to a moderate course on issues like school vouchers and the Teri Schiavo life-support battle.

“It’s the amazing the difference one person’s passing can make, and that’s Jim King,” said Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres. “He was the moral compass of the Senate. His departure has veered us far right. You used to be able to rely on the Senate to block the bad bills from the House. Now the bad bills come from the Senate.”

Taking King’s place was Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who is also the state Republican Party chairman. Thrasher has quickly amassed power in the Senate as part of a new crop of conservatives.

House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Boca Raton, has noticed the shift.

“The Senate has certainly gotten more conservative in my eight years here, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that former House members have moved over to the Senate,” Hasner said. “I think you’ll see that trend continue.”


If we allow these sort of political thinkers to continue their jobs and run (ruin) our beloved state and somehow, Attorney General Bill McCollum wrangles his way in as the next Governor of Florida, well, set another place at the dinner table. They're all in their places with nice shiny faces.

Are we going to sit back and let that happen?

As the late columnist Molly Ivins once said, "You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to."

These guys are inviting themselves into your home to make your private decisions.

Talk to Me.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weekend Zen




Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Away above the chimney tops


That's where you'll find me.




Somewhere over the rainbow


Bluebirds fly.


Jeff Beck.


Somewhere
Over the Rainbow.



(For my brother, Vance. Happy Birthday).

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