Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winner of 2013 My Stupid State: No Changes to Stand Your Ground

#81 of My Stupid State

As usual, there was corruption, waste, bigotry, and a slew of stupidity that marked the GOP/Rick Scott reign in Florida. But the winner for this year was clear.

Right now in Florida, thanks to the NRA-controlled GOP legislators, perpetrators have more authority to shoot and kill than U.S. troops have in war. The law was drafted and funded by the NRA. It exposes police to criminal and civil penalties if they arrest someone who is claiming self-defense. (Hence, the SNL sketch about being a policeman in Florida).

Worse, it says that anyone can shoot anyone if they "reasonably believe" that they or someone else is in imminent danger. So the burden of proof is highly subjective: just someone believing or imagining a danger means you are in the clear--regardless of the fear is based on misperception or, as we here have often seen as the case, ethnic prejudices.

Worse still, it is obvious to everyone that the law is being used with malice by people murdering and then claiming "SYG". Which has happened quite often: the majority of people in Florida who claim SYG have a criminal record. And they have been successful in exploiting the SYG law: 70% of people who claim SYG go free.

A few examples:

Google "crazy stand your ground cases" and you will get dozens. People being set free under SYG even though they shot the victim in the back, or shot someone trying to deliver a paper, or misinterpreted a deaf guy. It goes on and on.

One of the major issue with the law is that the defendant, as it is written, can INITIATE the fight, pursue the victim and shoot them even if they are unarmed AND retreating. All the perpertrator has to do is claim at some point he was "threatened" by you:

Its so f-d up that even Durell Peaden, the former Republican senator who sponsored the bill, said the law was never intended for people who put themselves in harm's way before they started firing. But the NRA and thus, our GOP officials rejected even that simple tweak to the law.

After the Travyon shooting, Rick Scott put together a "task force" following the public outcry that was supposed to review the law and recommend changes. Even though researchers have shown that under SYG homicides have increased while empirical studies have found it simultaneously does not deter crime, no opposing research was allowed to be presented. In fact, the "task force" was made up of six people appointed by Rick Scott, including two of the original drafters of the SYG bill, three ALEC members, and this idiot.

Surprisingly, they recommended the NRA law be completely unchanged.

I haven't even up till now mentioned the obvious racial inequalities of the law. The graph speaks for itself:

 photo 11_zpsd993193a.png

I'll just say that right now, as I'm typing this, an active duty airman and father of three with no prior criminal history (unlike Zimmerman) fired his gun and did NOT kill (unlike Zimmerman) during a violent brawl he did not start involving 40 people and claimed to be in fear of his life.

He sits in prison for a 25-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder

The Daily Show featured this segment as one of their best of last year. Even a fake news channel can't make this stuff up. As John Oliver said, Florida needs to change our motto.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Scarier Than a Plastic Dinosaur

So, at a time when some people can't even pay their electric bill because Rick Scott's fabulous CONNECT website can't even put two and two together, golf gopher Jack Nickalus -- who a couple years back had wanted to build some golf courses in Florida state parks, to add to the absurd number we already have -- is holding a 10K per person fundraising dinner for Scott.


But don't worry. If you're one of those unemployed people, he'll gladly rent you one of those 18 holes to live in.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Watch Rick Scott Dodge Medicaid Expansion Questions

The federal government, under ACA, would cover ALL expenses for insuring newly eligible people from 2014 thru 2016. That share would only decline to 90% in 2022 and beyond. We stood to gain over $51 billion dollars, but our idiot GOP legislature rejected the Medicaid expansion.

Here in Florida, it would have covered 1/5 of our population: 3.8 MILLION people. To add insult to injury, the GOP legislature came up with its own alternative that would have cost Florida taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars and only cover 115,000 uninsured Floridians.

Rick Scott initially supported the Medicaid expansion and was pushing the teabag legislature to do the right thing after his mother passed away. There was a gleam of hope that for once, FOR ONCE, he would do the right thing. After the billions he has cost us and the untold damage he's done to this state, the average Floridian deserves SOMETHING good from this governor.

As predicted, he did a 180...

Put Our Website (or Any Website) on the HomeScreen of your Mobile Device!

You can do this for SemDem or any webpage you want on your Homescreen for any Apple or Android product.

It's actually pretty simple but I wanted to be as descriptive as I could. Video link included at the end if you need more visual.

APPLE Products:

  1. GO to the website you want on your homescreen
    (like http://www.seminoledemocrats.blogspot.com)
  2. Select the Arrow button . (This might also be a "plus" symbol on some browsers.)

  3. Select "Add to Homescreen"

Android Products:

  1. Go to website you want (like SemDem)

  2. Select the Options button
  3. Select "Bookmark/Add Bookmark" icon to save it as a bookmark
    (Depending on device, this might be under an option that says "MORE")

  4. Now that its saved as a bookmark, select the Bookmark icon on your homescreen.
    (If not on your homescreen, press your finger against any open area on your homescreen and select Shortcuts > Bookmark)

  5. Press your finger against the website under Bookmarks you want and presto!
    (It will either automatically put the shortcut on your homescreen, or give you an option that says "Add shortcut to Home")

Step by step short video if you need it. Let me know in the comments if you have difficulty.

Lenny Curry on Crist "Abandoning" Florida

#78 of My Stupid State

Today, I wasn’t planning a post, but I saw something which inspired me. I want to tell you just how stupid Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry thinks you are as a voter in Florida.

One of Curry’s steady drumbeats in opposing Charlie Crist is laid out in this quote:

"Charlie Crist has now officially filed to run for the position he once abandoned...When Florida needed Charlie Crist the most during difficult economic times, he ran away. If he really wants to be governor now, why did he quit the first time?"

An interesting question. Let me ask another one.

In 2006, Marco Rubio was the Speaker of the Florida House. For 2010, he ran for the same Senate seat Crist ran for.

To be fair, Rubio was at the end of his term limits in the Florida House. But he certainly could have run for a Florida State Senate seat, or even for Governor.

So now my question for Curry is: Did Marco Rubio abandon Florida during difficult economic times?

Or is it maybe that when there's a NATIONAL economic crisis, a US Senator has more they can do to help than a state governor?

Curry sure is counting on voters to not think things like this through. But that’s the only way Rick Scott will ever be re-elected, isn’t it?

Friday, December 27, 2013

ALEC Conspires to Tax Private Solar Panel "Freeriders"

Crossposted on Dkos.
#77 of My Stupid State

Besides a few blogs, only the British media has covered this story. Not even the local Florida press bothered to pick this up. Although ALEC's influence over Florida GOP legislators is very well-known, it is rare that they are covered in the press.

Based on private documents obtained by the UK's Guardian newspaper, ALEC is conspiring with utility companies to tax homeowners who dare to use solar panels on their private homes. This comes after conservatives screamed about keeping the government out of our lives and such...

This attack on green energy is being framed as ideological, but its really all about keeping utility rates sky-high.

Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States. They are in several states and once they took over Progress Energy became the largest public utility company in Florida. (They are my power company here in Seminole County as well.) They have always been a major backer of ALEC. Even after the mass exodus of companies that abandoned ALEC after their continued support for "stand your ground" laws after the Trayvon shooting, Duke stood by them. Hell, they even spent big bucks to host them in back in May.

Which is why the released documents showing Duke as a "lapsed" ALEC member is....most interesting. Duke Energy won't publically say if they are still with ALEC or not. My guess is that they support what ALEC is doing but no longer want the political baggage of being associated with them--especially when you consider their next move.

ALEC is dead-set on attacking green energy and has a number of proposals to do so. One of their more devious ones is their attempt to push high taxes on solar panels. Here in Florida, there are more and more houses figuring out it is a lot cheaper to put solar panels on their house. Even my teabag neighbor had several installed because "Obaaama wants high costs to keep us from coal..." or something like that.

But its not Obama he has to worry about.

John Eick of ALEC:

"As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system. They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non direct generation customers are being penalised," he said.

Eick dismissed the suggestion that individuals who buy and install home-based solar panels had made such investments. "How are they going to get that electricity from their solar panel to somebody else's house?" he said. "They should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity."

Read that last sentence again. Try to wrap your head around this: a solar panel FEEDS electricity into the damn grid. Solar panel users are "makers", not "takers", so a conservative should argue that they be given a damn tax credit. But no, ALEC is conspiring with utility companies to say they should instead be taxed for that.

It's sort of like giving a donation to charity but having to pay an extra fee because now the charity has extra work to do in handling your donation they otherwise wouldn't have had.

Only a conservative would understand that "logic".

Yet that is what they are arguing and, at least in Arizona, it has been somewhat successful. The main AZ utility company tried to charge $100 dollars extra a month to customers who had solar panels installed. That would have negated all or most of the savings of installing the panels in the first place, and essentially taxed them out of existence (which was the point). The company spent over $4 million on a lavish ad campaign to convince idiots that this was a good idea.

Arizona regulators eventually agreed to a $5 fee. It was a blow to the utility company considering they wanted to tax the panels out of existence, but it was still ridiculous that they had to pay anything extra at all.

Here in Florida, Duke Energy is silent on this topic. But I have no doubt where they stand.

After all, it was Duke Energy that was allowed to jack up rates on their customers to pay for a fantasy nuclear plant in Levy County — which they announced in August wasn't going to be built after all. But we will continue to pay on it for another FOUR YEARS because, as usual, lobbyists wrote the bill and consumers were left out in the cold (or in our case down here, the heat).

That happens a lot here.

To add insult to the indignity of having us cover the costs of their boondoggle (to the tune of thousands of extra dollars per customer), this "public" utility found a half-million dollars to donate to the state GOP!

So I think they are getting enough.

If you think so as well, please tell DUKE not to tax solar panels.

Governor Ad Hoc

#76 of My Stupid State

For this entry, let me begin with an illustration that will seem trivial, but in reality, is a perfect picture of why Rick Scott is unfit to govern.

One of Scott’s earliest veto-pen slashes was to a $50,000 request to conduct a “rainwater study.” Scott dismissed the project by saying that you could catch rainwater in a two dollar bucket. 

The plan in question, though, was a way to determine if the Department of Corrections could save up to 25% on water costs by catching rainwater. It wasn’t a study to just see “how you can catch rainwater,” to which the solution would indeed be a two dollar bucket. 

You may or may not think that study was useful, but here’s the point: Scott vetoed this project because he had no idea what it was for, and didn’t care enough to find out.

What does this mean in the larger picture? 

Scott has been rightly pilloried for making many other veto cuts, and with each of those, it’s harder to say whether it is more because he has the lack of the tin man (no heart) or the lack of the scarecrow (no brain). Cuts to rape crisis centers. Cuts to meals for senior citizens. Cuts to disabled children. The list goes on.

His comment on the rainwater study, though, is illustrative because it offers what may be his most explicit reasoning on record for why he made any particular cut. The sum of the matter is, these cuts, and many other ridiculous actions by Scott, are best explained by him not having any real understanding of what he is doing – and not caring enough about the people of Florida to even try to figure these things out.

Basically, Scott makes it all up as he goes along. We could call it Government Ad Hoc.

A Miami Herald posting captured an aspect of this poignantly:

Scott (since his time at Columbia/HCA and beyond) has a reputation as a delegator, he puts people in positions of authority and then generally follows their advice. Some who have known him over the years say there's a drawback to that: He's most influenced by the last guy in the room advising him.

 Yet another posting likewise illustrated Scott’s ad hoc method of governance:

Last Tuesday at a Miami Freedom Tower event, Scott ceremonially signed a law cracking down on firms that do business in Cuba and Syria. But he then issued a letter that called the very law he signed unenforceable and unconstitutional because it infringes on foreign trade.

Need more? Here’s one of my favorites. Scott vetoed a bill – passed unanimously by the mostly Republican Legislature – that would have exempted groups like Meals on Wheels from requiring an expensive ($45) background check on volunteers, that would have to be paid out of their own pocket. Scott’s thoughtless reasoning was that the bill would put older people at risk.

Really? Since when has Meals on Wheels started delivering danger instead of food?

The obvious question is: Is someone this clueless, someone whose decisions are this ad hoc, fit to govern? 

The obvious answer is: No.

Now I’m not saying a governor should not delegate responsibility. No executive officer, whether a President or a governor, can be an expert in all things, or have time to make every decision. That’s why a President has a Cabinet, and a governor has a staff.

However, at the same time, an executive officer owes it to the electorate to at least become familiar with the issues that impact the lives of tens of thousands, or even millions of people, before making a decision – and not simply swiping a pen thoughtlessly, or listening to the last person in the room.

It a recent internal poll by Scott’s administration, Scott was blasted hard on the point that he is perceived as not caring for people. Crist won that point of perception handily, and I am sure Rich and Nelson would do so as well.

It’s not hard to see why. It’s also not likely Scott can fix that, because he is clueless as to how to do so. It’s just not in his nature to care, and he has had no practice doing it, not as head of HCA, not as head of Solantic, not as governor. His actions speak much louder than his photo ops.

Photo ops? Yes. Photo ops of him serving at soup kitchens won’t work, when his policies have done so much to keep the people who are there in the same conditions. 

Dressing casually didn’t help him; he still looks (and acts) like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, no matter what he wears. 

Getting on social media didn’t help him – he’s no less adept at being evasive on there than he is in person, and his boilerplate responses just make him look more like a machine oblivious to the realities of what everyday citizens are having to endure under his clumsy watch. 

Workdays? An obvious filch from Bob Graham won’t help, because Graham acted human. Scott, in contrast, when he does a workday, looks like something from District 9 trying to pass as a human. It’s an obvious attempt to ingratiate himself with the people he’s shafting, and no one will forget that at the end of the day, he goes right back to his millionaire lifestyle, and leaves behind the minimum wage job at the donut shop without ever once living the life of a minimum wage worker who has to get by on scraps when the workday is over. 

And now he also tripped the light fantastic at Disney over the holiday – while thousands of unemployed people are about to lose their electricity and phone because of his busted DEO website.

Clueless? That’s putting it mildly.

Recently, Representative Perry Thurston called Scottdown for his reckless gutting of the Department of Children and Families. Up to 40 children have died during Scott’s reign, in good measure because DCF workers haven’t had the resources to do their jobs competently. The Scott administration’s boilerplate response was, “We are prioritizing spending on critical services as we craft the budget, and vital child protective services will not be reduced…''

Really? They already have been reduced; that’s the problem. This doesn’t even address Thurston’s concerns; it dodges them. And there’s so much more that proves Scott’s incapability to govern soundly, to the extent that there are times when it seems he goes out of his way to appear insensitive and incompetent:
Cutting funds to rape crisis centers – during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Cutting funds to the disabled – then attending the Special Olympics as though he were a dignitary.

Proposing cutting programs to the homeless while also professing to “care completely” about the problem of homelessness.

Authorizing the expenditure of $600,000 for cosmetic redecorating of the governor’s mansion, after cutting the jobs of state workers and so many other great needs over the prior several years.

Spending $400,000 for a state business logo, under the same conditions.

Vetoing $5.7 million for mental health programs, while leaving intact $10 million in funding for the production of violent films.

Claiming he had “nothing to do” with a voting limitation bill that he signed himself.

Insulting African-American legislators and students by telling them he grew up poor, just like they did.

Praising a charter school that got an F rating for its elementary school.

Refusing to close the online sales tax “loophole,” even though he admits it is unfair to brick and mortar businesses.

Asking that a study be done to determine if it really is dangerous to text while driving.

Rejecting an increase in a voluntary fee for auto tags concerned with state wildflower preservation, because it was a “fee increase.”

How much more of this type of ad hoc government can Florida stand?


As a close, I’d like to give a word of thanks to The Seminole Democrat, for the chance to write in this forum, and also for the My Stupid State series, which (along with the archive at rickscottsucks.us) was a very helpful source for compiling a listing of reasons why Rick Scott does not deserve re-election (and for research for these postings). I’ll have that list ready for publication very soon.

Happy New Year, all.