Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Days The Schadenfreude Ends

Just found out about this three days ago.

Remember ole' Florida Speaker Ray Sansom?  The guy who got caught sneaking appropriation funds for an airport at a small college that would have benefited one of Sansom's buddies?

Well, the trial finally took place... but at a key moment where the prosecution was about to present a witness that could prove a conspiracy, the defense's argument against that witness was sustained by the judge... meaning the witness couldn't testify until the prosecution could prove through other means that there was a conspiracy afoot.

The prosecution couldn't.  The entire case pretty much unraveled and the charges were dropped.

Meanwhile back at the ranch in Tallahassee, our state legislature is passing "reforms" with campaign financing.  They just passed a law re-establishing something called "leadership funds":

If you are an interest group in Florida, a corporation, a lobbyist seeking favor, you go to these "leadership" funds run by lawmakers… And you pay them.  They will launder the money into local elections around the state, to keep electing more obedient followers.
This is so astonishing a corruption that it defies belief.
The bill in question is House Bill 1207, passed in the 2010 legislative session.
Then-Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed it. Last Thursday the Legislature overrode the veto.
The House vote was 81-39. The Senate vote was 30-9.
The twisted logic used in the Capitol, and what your legislator will try to tell you, is that it's better for the Legislature to be paid off directly.
See, they will write it down in a separate little report. So this is all about "informing the public" and "transparency."
If they try to give you this line, just ask this question: "So, is it legal to make unlimited payoffs to 'leadership funds' that are operated directly by the leaders of the Legislature, or not?"
People ask: What can I do?
You can call or e-mail. You can go to the House's website (www.myfloridahouse.com) or the Senate's (www.flsenate.gov) and find contact information for your legislator. (I beg you to be firm but civil, especially to the hard-working staff — the world is rude enough already, isn't it?)
But they (The Republicans) are counting on you not to do anything at all.
Instead, here is what they are counting on you to do:
Re-elect them...

Robert Troxler's article is heart-breaking, but it really shouldn't come as a shock anymore.

The Republican Party goes out of its way to claim that they are "fiscally responsible", that they "know business and how to get things done", that they "can create jobs", that they can destroy "the Liberal Agenda of having lazy unemployed people" feed off "our" hard-earned tax dollars.

And then when in power, the Republicans slash corporate taxes, shift the tax burden ever more onto a middle class that can't handle it, cut social services on families and kids already struggling, spend all the other money on vanity projects that don't serve a majority of people, and sign over public-run services to privatized companies run by their old college buddies that will charge more and increase the odds of waste and corruption.  All because they can lie and trick voters into fearing anyone else getting control of the government reins.

And then to make sure their party stays in power they re-write the election laws or pursue questionable practices like twisted gerrymandered districts and voter suppression efforts.

Someone just polled how our nation is becoming "more conservative."  With the Far Right conservatives screwing more and more people out of their jobs and homes and private lives, HOW THE HELL IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Policy of Truth Is Very Much Needed In The U.S.

Lane Wallace, a contributor to The Atlantic, had a recent piece on lying in the media.  The article starts off with the revelation that the Canadian law books has a provision that "A Licensee (media outlet) shall not broadcast ... d) false or misleading news".  There was a recent effort to revise that provision when a Far Right tabloid sought to begin a new news channel "to challenge the mainstream media" which around here sounds like they were trying to start their own Fox-Not-News channel up there.

Wallace's article then considers the impact of if the United States could or would consider such a law here (some snippage):

But the question remains ... why don't we have a similar requirement here in the U.S.? Traditionally, both broadcast radio and television and cable television stations have been subject to regulation, including content regulation, by the FCC. Although that regulation originated from the fact that airwaves were extremely limited, and not accessible to everyone, the regulation continued even after the birth and expansion of cable television, because courts recognized that television and radio are "uniquely pervasive" in people's lives, in a way print media are not... why can't we have a restriction on broadcasting (or cablecasting) false or misleading news?
One reason is probably the same reason the Fairness Doctrine no longer exists. It's laughable now, with the explosion of narrow-interest fringe websites and narrow-audience, right-wing and left-wing cable shows on Fox News and MSNBC, but in the deregulation atmosphere of the 1980s, the FCC's rationale for getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine was twofold: first, that the Fairness Doctrine inhibited the broadcasters' right to free speech, and second, that the free market was a better regulator of news content on television than the government. Specifically, the FCC said that individual media outlets would compete with each other for viewers, and that competition would necessarily involve establishing the accuracy, credibility, reliability and thoroughness of each story ... and that over time, the public would weed out new providers that proved to be inaccurate, unreliable, one-sided, or incredible.

One wonders, really, if the FCC had ever studied human behavior or the desire of people to have their individual points of view validated. Far from "weeding out" providers of one-sided, or even incredible information, we now revel in... a selection of news outlets that never ever challenge our particular points of view.

Contrary to the FCC's theory, our particular public seems to reward, rather than punish, outrageous or one-sided news providers. And while that may make each of us feel nice and righteous as we pick and choose our news broadcasters and commentators, one would be hard-pressed to argue that it enhances the quality of our public--or even our personal--discourse.  Especially given the questionable "truth" of many of the statements or inferences made on those highly targeted outlets. In theory, we could all fact-check everything we hear on the TV or radio, of course. But few people have the time to do that, even if they had the contacts or resources...

...Think about it. We prohibit people from lying in court, because the consequences of those lies are serious. That's a form of censorship of free speech, but one we accept quite willingly. And while the consequences of what we hear on television and radio are not as instantly severe as in a court case, one could argue that the damage widely-disseminated false information does to the goal of a well-informed public and a working, thriving democracy is significant, as well. What's more, if we really thought everyone had the right to say whatever they wanted, regardless of truth or consequences, we wouldn't prohibit anyone from yelling "fire" in a crowded theater that wasn't actually on fire. We wouldn't have slander or libel laws. We wouldn't have laws about hate speech. And we'd allow broadcasters and cablecasters to air all words and all images, no matter how indecent, at all times. 

Ah. But what if a broadcaster or cablecaster didn't know the information was false? I suppose you could prohibit only knowingly airing false or misleading information. But on the other hand, if a station were at risk for sanction or a license revocation for getting it wrong (even if the FCC rarely enforced the measure), it might motivate reporters and anchors to do a bit more fact checking--and even, perhaps, a bit more research into alternative viewpoints--before seizing on and running with a hot or juicy scoop or angle. 

It's odd, really, that the idea of requiring news broadcasters to be fundamentally honest about the information they project across the nation and into our homes sounds radical. Surely we wouldn't argue that we want to be lied to and misled, would we...?

This is what I wrote in a comment field to Wallace's article.

We make Holocaust denial a criminal offense because it is fraud: historical fraud as well as financial fraud (how much money do those guys make from their followers buying up their books and t-shirts?). We're not making the deniers martyrs: we're identifying them as the criminals they are.

Hate speech is also made up of "false and misleading news." And Hate speech has a tendency to lead into violent action. So we regulate and criminalize Hate speech as well.

Just look at the "debate" over health care. There have been lies aplenty by those opposed to the recent reform act ("Death panels" above all). Check the link to PolitiFact: http://www.politifact.com/trut...

Because of the "false and misleading news" about the Health Care Reform efforts, a majority of Americans are mis-informed about the program, don't know that some of the benefits are available now for use, and a sizable number already believe (WRONGLY) that the Health Care bill signed by Obama is already gone. This the damage lying does through the media and through our elected leaders. What the First Amendment defends - the open marketplace of ideas - cannot operate properly when that marketplace of ideas is swamped by falsehoods and frauds.

Holding our media and our elected officials accountable to the truth - Truth Based On Facts, Not Opinion, And Certainly Not On Lies - should go a long way towards cleaning up the mess we are in now.

I've been arguing on this blog for some time that we need a revision of the law - even in the Constitution itself - to spell out once and for all that Lying (or any other form of falsehood) Is Not Protected Speech.  You may get argument about censorship, about the "thought police", stuff like that.  But lies have no place in a nation that's supposed to be based on Truth Justice and the American Way.

Breitbart Delendus Est.

Off-Topic: Things I Learned at MegaCon 2011

I'm posting here because more people follow this blog than my writer/geek blog.

1) The High-Speed Rail between Orlando and Tampa would really help tourism.
Driving on I-4 from the Tampa Bay metro area was stressful and hazardous even in the early morning (before 6 AM).  I left that early because previous experience taught me that parking at the Orlando Convention Center for MegaCon is a nightmare if you get there too late in the day (say, before 10 am).  So I drove early.  And traffic was still bumper-to-bumper the moment I got on I-4.  Even taking I-75 down from where I live to get onto I-4 wasn't as bad: and that part of I-75 is 2-lane traffic, not 3-lane like I-4.
If we had high-speed rail in place, I could get to a parking garage along the rail, pay for the day (money to the state or private operator, cha-CHING), get on the rail, and ride into Orlando and then back again without the worries of traffic.  And if the rail was planned out smartly, there would have been a stop right near the Convention Center well within walking distance (it's right there on the interstate, where the rail would have co-existed).  And if not, then

1a) Orlando (and the whole Tampa metro) would really benefit from a metro-wide light rail system too.
From what I know, most MegaCon attendees are from the Orlando area.  Lacking a light-rail (cable car, elevated monorail, I wouldn't suggest subway because the landmass is sediment-based), all attendees have to come by car or metro bus.  That means massive traffic tie-ups (buses use the same roads after all).  It also means a massive headache trying to find a parking space if you don't get there too early.  So everyone gets there too early.  For now, getting there before 8 AM is decent enough, but at this rate it'll be 7 AM as the prime arrival time within another three years...
Orlando would benefit incredibly from a light-rail metro.  Like most metros that boomed from the Eighties onward, Orlando has huge suburban sprawl.  Connecting the suburbs to key areas - business districts, downtown, sports arenas, and above all THE THEME PARKS (where they work as well as visit!) that dominate the landscape - would go a long way.  College students in particular (UCF, Rollins, et al) would use such a rail system.  Visitors coming in via airport could hop on a rail, circle to a connected hotel, drop off, clean up, and hop back on to ride the rail out to Disney World (which is actually pretty disconnected from Orlando proper.  Only car traffic that I know of can get there, and I've seen how congested the roads in and out of the Magic Kingdom can get.  You'd think Disney would extend that monorail system of theirs out to International Drive or something...).
And this is just from my visiting Orlando for a day to hang out at a comic-con.  The daily use of a metro rail system would be 1) influx of money, 2) jobs, 3) viability of a metropolis to stay connected moreso than with congested car traffic.
I live in the Tampa metro area.  Trust me, a light rail system here connecting our colleges (USF, U.Tampa, St. Pete College) to our downtowns (Ybor party district, St. Pete Baywalk) to our beaches (Clearwater Beach to Ft. DeSoto) to our stadiums (Trop, Ray Jay) to our cultural centers (Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, the Dali, Ringling Museum in Sarasota) could go a long way too for both tourism and business.
People will still have cars: as a means of variable long-distance commute it has advantages over a fixed-line rail system.  But the light rail gives them more options.  And again, in a tourist-driven economy like Orlando (and Tampa), it helps business.

Now, onto the business of comicdom.
2) The problem of showing up TOO early for a comic-con?  You stand in line for 2-3 hours crowded with 15,000 other early arrivals waiting for the doors to open.
You know, it wouldn't kill you MegaCon guys to have something going on before the doors open to the main showroom floor: like say have a coffee-donut get-together of geeks in one of the smaller side rooms for panels/events, or get a cosplay group enacting Shakespeare whilst in anime costumes on the foyer floor.  I mean, sheesh, it gets DULL waiting for the doors to open man!

3) I didn't see any overriding costume theme this year.
Previous visits?  In 2009, with Watchmen coming out soon to theaters practically every outfit was Rorshach or Silk Spectre.  In 2010, after the release of Cameron's Avatar, you could swing a catgirl by the tail and hit 100 different guys dressed as Na'Vi.  This year?  Even with the coming of Captain America, X-Men First Class and Thor movies for Marvel, and with Green Lantern for DC (with a Wonder Woman-based TV show in the works, but oh GOD don't get me started on how Hollywood is SCREWING that up), there wasn't one dominant costume.  Yes, there were a handful of Lanterns, and a couple of Captain Americas, but not the huge numbers of Rorshachs I saw two years ago, or the Na'Vi of last year.  If anything, there were a ton of anime characters (especially for girl cosplay).

4) One of the things you see every year at the con: the same actors from cult shows of the Seventies and Eighties at the autograph section.  And that's okay.
Jennie Breeden once wrote it's not an official con until you see Lou Ferrigno there.
Because when you don't see them there, you gotta worry if they're feeling alright... :{
Sometimes there's a lot of fun seeing the recent arrivals you don't normally see, if only because Hollywood made either a sequel or a remake, meaning fan interest will be high on you again.  This year I saw Cindy Morgan on the floor, mostly due to TRON: Legacy coming out this past December (there was some fan outrage the sequel didn't find time or space to include either of her characters Yori or Lora.
Sometimes it's weird to be spying on the celebrities you watched growing up as a teenager, or when you were a younger adult clinging to your geeky ways.  Kevin Sorbo was there: he looked so much thinner than I was used to seeing him.  Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers from the late Seventies was there again.  Last time I saw him he didn't look so good - diabetes - but this year he is thinner and more energetic, so it looks like he's doing well.  Here's hoping.  Erin Grey, I'm convinced, does not age.  Jonathan Frakes was there: his beard had gone gray and his hair... it was just... I mean.  Let's face it: Our heroes get old... so do we...

5) The MegaCon floor planners still do not carve out enough walkway space between vendor pavilions to allow huge fat geeks like me to maneuver easily through the mobs.  It doesn't help that people stop not to shop but to chat with people they've just bumped into.  I know the have to fill the floor with as much merchandise as possible to cover the costs of hosting a con in a huge place like the Orlando Center, but they ought to 1) widen the walkways by another 4-5 ft and consider every third island of booths to have one corner left void for standing room / meet-and-greets.

Oh.  You're here for the pictures.  Okay.

Big pirate boat in the middle of the main hallway leading into the showroom.  There is that Pirates of the Caribbean movie coming out, and the MegaCon covers all geekery: comics, SciFi, anime, fantasy, gaming, and pirates.
 Scottish Stormtrooper.  I had no way to adequately include a photo of his kilt.  The camera kept breaking down from the level of awesome.
 R2D2 working the showroom floor like a pimp.  R2 be comin' yo.
 There is something to be said about how nice it is that girls get into geekdom.

Most people would recognize the lady on my left (your right) as Raven: popular character from the Teen Titans comic and animated show.  The lady on my right is dressed as Yoko Littner from an anime show called Gurren Lagann: If you hadn't heard of it yet, basically it's Studio Gainax's attempt to create a Saturday morning cartoon show.  ...You never heard of Gainax?  Um.  How about FLCL and Evangelion?  ...okay, you need to watch more anime...
 This is Deadpool.  He kills people.  Either for money, or if you said something bad about the TV show The Golden Girls.  Or the slash fic he writes for his favorite show The Golden Girls.

The only reason why I'm still alive is because I told him he needed to find a Rorshach and sing the theme song.  Good thing his attention span is shorter than a centipede's shoestring.
 Jennie.  The Devil's Panties.  Read it.
 The guest speaker for the day was WILLIAM SHATNER and he was there to talk about this self-published book of poetry he wanted to read to us.

This is about as close as I dare get, and the camera I own it's one of those high-end professional cameras with super Zoom and light-source adjustment.  Suffice to say, Shatner looked good but ambled during his presentation in a free-form-thought kind of way.  Also, he threatened the world with more singing.  But it's got ZakK Wylde and Brian May backing him.  What could possibly go wrong?
 I want to end this blog entry by thanking TNC Lost Battalion member bactrain (AKA Ciruce) showing up for a post-convention get-together at Bahama Breeze.  He came with his SO Cecelia, both pictured here.

Sad to say we didn't get more people asking to attend from the OTAN group.  I know one Battalioneer unable to attend, but I had thought we had a few more Floridians on the comments than this... :-(  Still, anyway the Cuban sandwich at Bahama Breeze was pretty good.  Got my Cuban food for the month out of the way.  ;-)
I changed shirts - after walking a crowded convention for most of the day, it was the least I could do - and was wearing the tee for the Lost Battalion gear.  That is what the logo looks like on a tall fat guy.

So: Final thoughts.

Orlando and Tampa need high-speed rail.  Both cities need local metro light rail.  MegaCon needs to have pre-door opening activities.  And they need to widen the walkways a little more.  And you all need to read more webcomics and watch more anime.  Tsk.

Now, back to your originally-scheduled political outrage at your state GOP crooks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Problem Of The Unemployed, And Why We Need To Get the Long-Term Unemployed Back To Work

Over on Ta-Nehisi's Open Thread (For The Horde) for the day, commenter JHarper2 wrote an entry about the suffering he's enduring with kidney disease and the long wait he has for surgery and treatment.

Most of his entry borrows the writing of a young Irish woman (Regina H) also suffering while waiting for a replacement kidney, and while the original gist of the article is about enduring an illness, the woman writer compares the wait to being unemployed: (highlights mine)

...This week, I spoke with an academic who has studied the effects of unemployment, psychologically as well as socially.

He talked me through Year One. How the initial stress and nail-biting over bills and mortgages fades into feelings of depression, of failure. The gradual and growing feeling of becoming invisible.

The back-end of Year One is a watershed, for if Year One becomes Year Two, then the unemployed person is statistically unlikely to ever work again. They are then classed as long-term unemployed. Bye-bye fulfillment, farewell dignity, rest in peace all the hopes and dreams of that fragile human being.

It is not that they are suddenly useless. No, it is because over the months of nothingness, they become the disappointed parent to their own situation; they fill their heads and their sleepless nights with criticisms of how they have let themselves and their families down.

Their confidence is an early casualty, they become depressed, they start staying up late and losing the best part of the day to a lethargy that doesn't lift until noon. They falter their way through a calendar's worth of groundhog days, until they sink into dependency, and then, they stay there.

This conversation was of an enormous amount of interest to me, mostly because the feelings described were familiar.

I asked him to differentiate between levels of damage: the impact of being out of work as a result of this blasted recession VS the impact of not working because you are sick.

He told me all his hefty books would say there should be a world of difference. Being able-bodied and idle should have worse consequences than being unwell and unproductive...

The comparison of unemployment to illness is apt: not the physical aspects of illness but the psychological effects.  The ennui.  The repetition of useless duties about the house.  Withdrawal from friends and the world (mostly because you can't afford to).  Isolation and regret and doubt and no one else relying on you for good things to happen.  Sleepless nights.

And I see all those signs in myself: Unemployed now for two years and counting, unable to wake up early, unmotivated half the time, stuck in minor routines, questioning every action I commit to, staying up past 2 in the morning some nights for no reason but just sitting there both bored and unable to carry myself to bed...

I job interviewed this Monday.  The potential employer's stress question was "Why do you think you'll do a great job here?"  I answered "Because I've worked public service when I worked with libraries, and... there's that satisfaction of helping someone get that one thing, that one book off the shelf they were looking for. It's like... you know, when you help get a turtle off the road and walk him back to the swamp so he doesn't get hit by a car, and you feel good for the whole day because you saved that turtle, and that really happened to me too when I worked in Broward, I saved a turtle and felt good for the whole day, that's what I get out of doing a great job."

I wanna get back to work.  I wanna get back to thinking I can help people, that I can do something, that what I do has value.  I wanna get back to saving at least one turtle a day.

Dear Federal Government: WE NEED JOBS.  Dear Corrupt Bastard Overlords of Finance: WE NEED JOBS.


Monday, March 14, 2011

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy: March 2011 Edition

There's just been so many things going on that it's hard to get an essay-length discussion going on any of them:

1) In the foreign news: there's the earthquake in Japan.  The earthquake alone proved survivable - all those regulations for construction pay off - but nothing seemed to prepare people for the tsunami that followed.  What's worse, the tsunami caused damage at two different nuclear reactors (reactors have to be near water sources for coolant), one of which had a hydrogen gas explosion... which kinda leaves one with the feeling of OH F----CCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!

2) In the Middle East: most of the peoples' uprisings have led to what is happening now in Libya.  Because Qaddafi was not the kind of dictator to run for it when the going got good, it basically exploded into a civil war... which is going badly for the rebel forces that had existed for some time there because of two things.  The rebels were never that well-organized and the pro-Qaddafi forces have airplanes as an advantage.  The push to enforce a No-Fly zone as a way for the Western and Arab League nations to level the playing field against a hated dictator (without the loss of our own forces in the deal) has been debated but not resolved.  Because enforcing the No-Fly requires risk, and the Western powers that would have to pay that risk are still a bit squeamish about it.  No one is going to actually do it until a nation (uh, France?  England?) ups and volunteers their own air force to do the job. (Guess what, everyone's waiting on the U.S. to do it... again...)

3) Here at home: the Republican-held state governments are still screwing us over.  Going after the unions won't fix state deficits.  Cutting our schools' funding won't help families.  And gaining the power to take control of city governments you "claim" as "bankrupt" just so you can have privatized forces seize the towns and remove legally elected officials doesn't help the economy, it only destroys our rights as voters and citizens.

4) And the Republicans' budget plans at the federal level?  A new study released today from Moody's - not the most reliable source ever since their ratings scandals from a few years back, but trusted when it comes to gauging honest-to-God economic impacts - reveals that the GOP plan of spending cuts would cost this nation about 700,000 jobs.  They are the third professional or "qualified" source - including Goldman Sachs (not a librul institution), and the GAO - that has determined the GOP plan as a "job-killer".

Considering our unemployment woes are at CRISIS level in this country - in both depth of unemployment and its' prolonged negative impact - the last thing we need are MORE UNEMPLOYED.  Remember how the Republicans campaigned that they were gonna create jobs?!  THEY LIED.

5) Also, sports.  The NFL players and owners failed to agree on a CBA, so they went into Decertified Union/Lockout mode.  Thing is, because of the Lockout the owners can't hire "replacement" players, so both sides have incentive to get a deal done.  Let's just hope the third party in all this - the FANS - don't get screwed with higher ticket prices.

6) Oh, and Breitbart and his protegee O'Keefe are total jerks.  How bad are they?  GLENN BECK's people are calling bullsh-t on O'Keefe's "expose" on NPR.  When the batsh-t crazy guy is calling you out for lying... and proving it... you have got serious issues.

Breitbart Delendus Est.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Photos from the Awake The State Rally in Clearwater

Specifically it was Countryside, but that's not a designated city name or anything, so technically it's Clearwater.

If you know your way around Pinellas County, it's the intersection of 580 and McMullen Booth.

The event was planned for 4 PM.  I showed by 3:30 just in case parking was an issue (at that time, it wasn't).  No one was there yet so I walked the intersection pedestrian crosswalks awhile until more people showed.

The first photo was taken about 3:40 pm.

This was the first group of sign wavers standing in favor of:
Schools and Teachers
Union workers in general
The Unemployed

This group is standing on the NW corner of the intersection.  Behind them is the Countryside High School.

The next set of photos are as the afternoon went on, between 3:45 to 4:45.
You'll notice the crowd getting bigger.

By the by, while the pro-union, pro-schools rally was going on, a counter-protest of Tea Partiers carrying Rick "I DIDN'T CARE HE COMMITTED MEDICARE FRAUD" Scott banners and the "Don't Tread On Me" flags were on the southeast corner of the intersection.  The photos of their rally will be toward the end of this entry.  I wanna document how the pro-sanity rally was doing first.  :-)

The pro-school rally sent a few brave souls across McMullen Booth to wave the banners on the other side of the street.  There are these turn lane islands in the intersections that allow for a few gatherers to stand and wave to the cars.

This photo was taken about 4:20.  You'll notice the crowd grew from the 3:40 size to something larger.  You can see the cameraman for the local Fox News channel (yes, they sent a camera crew to our side.  I didn't see them go to the Tea Partier side of the street, oddly enough).  Where the cameraman is, that's the far left flank of the line.  The crowd is shoulder-to-shoulder and the line circles around the corner to the end of the right turn lane.  I'll demonstrate later.

Here's me.  Yes.  I need to lose weight.

The sign I borrowed from one of the rally organizers who brought extra.  I only brought a camera.

The photo was taken by a lady who was also taking pictures of other pro-school attendees.  I should have taken my hat off so you could see me squinting more clearly.  Heh.

This was the small group standing in the turn lane island at our corner.  You can see the McMullen traffic heading north.  It's very hard to see but in the distance are the Tea Partiers (look behind the red sign, you'll see two over that guy's shoulder).

Here's the attempt I made at 4:45 to take a series of photos of the line of pro-school pro-union protesters.  The far right of that line is where the turn lane merges into 580 traffic.  There are few gaps in this line.
Here's the second panning photo.  You can see part of the turn lane island over the large brown banner.

I had to move a little bit to the right to take the third panning shot.  You can see people are still arriving by 4:45 pm.  Some of them were smart enough to bring chairs.  My back was killing me at this point.  Never bring a backpack to a rally unless it's full of bottled water.

Still panning to the left here.  This was the one spot I saw a gap in the line.  You could fit about two people there.  Pity.

And here's the final panning shot of the far left of the line.  It's stretching a bit further down the left, compared to the photo I had earlier at 4:20 pm.

I'd have to say this was a good-sized turnout for the pro-school, pro-union crowd.  Most of them showed up in red shirts (it was one of the local union chapters, but I forgot to ask which union).  Nearly all of them showed with hand-made signs (and for those of us too lazy to make one, the rally organizers had extras printed out).

Now, you ask.  What about that opposing group.  What about the Tea Partier group that was on the opposite corner of the intersection with McMullan Booth and 580?

To the right you will see the first two of the Tea Party, pro-Scott crowd.  There was another guy to the right off the photo, but this was the best I could with my camera.  This was taken about two minutes before I took the first pro-union, pro-school crowd, so this was at 3:40 pm.

This was at the height of the crowd size for the Tea Partiers.  Remember, this is the opposite corner of McMullen Booth and 580.  It mirrors the opposite corner in terms of roadside length.  I took this photo about 4:45 pm, when I finished the long photo pan of the pro-union crowd and then crosswalked over to this side.

There's almost nobody here.  I counted about 16 people.  Even if I miscounted, there was no way there was more than 20 Tea Partiers here.

I called them the Tea Party crowd because three of them brought those yellow "Don't Tread" flags with them.

I took this photo a few seconds after that second one.  I moved further down the line and angled my camera to try and get a better image of their line along the street.

You can see it better here.  There are clear gaps between clumps of 2-3 people spread out over less space.  The far left of that photo was about the end flank of their line.

Like I said.  There's almost nobody here.  Compared to the other side of the street, that is.  There had to be at least a 4-to-1 advantage to the pro-school, pro-union (and yes, anti-Scott) crowd.

Coming out to this event gave me hope.  It gave me the awareness that in truth there are a TON of fellow Floridians who are in favor of doing right by our schools, who are in favor of doing something to fix our unemployment crisis.  It gave me hope that there are more Floridians out there angry about how reckless and crooked someone like Rick "JOB KILLER" Scott really is.  It makes me hope that others are going to realize that the Tea Partiers are truly FEW in number (and from what my fellow ralliers told me, the Tea Partiers didn't even understand the debate.  They were only out here to rally for Scott and against unions.  They were really only there because the Awake The State group was there).

It also gave me a backache.  Ahhh, I seriously need a back massage.

Thank you to everyone who attended the rally.  And let me know what those cops were doing on the Tea Party side of the street with their lights flashing (uh-oh!) when I left at 5:30 pm.  What happened over there?

Today's Rally for Awake The State

I'll be heading out shortly to the Clearwater gathering for Awake The State this afternoon.  I think the one scheduled for Tallahassee should be over by now, wonder what the turnout up there was like.

I'll be taking my camera.  Will take photos and share when I get back.

Just gotta remember the basic rules of rallying:
1) Don't piss off the cops if there's any there for crowd control
2) Don't jump in front of vehicles.  You will lose those battles.
3) Don't use any hand gestures that can be misconstrued as instigating.
4) Don't start a fight you can't finish.
5) Don't screw up.

See ye there.

Before I go: a link to an article highlighting just how terrible Rick "F U" Scott already is.  And we've got at least 4 years of this crap to endure unless someone (the state Lege impeaches) or something (business scandal) intervenes between now and then...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Awake The State

This March 8th, across the state of Florida, there are protests planned to speak out against Rick "JOB KILLER AS WELL AS MEDICARE FRAUD" Scott, and to try and get the GOP-controlled State Legislature to not go as batsh-t crazy as the state leges in Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, and Indiana when it comes to f-cking up our state's already wobbly educational system and labor woes.

Yeah, I know.  Like Republican politicians listen to anyone who are not Far Right radio blowhards or Teabagger tax-cutters.

Still, if anyone's got the means and the time to drive up to Tallahassee, or to any of the other events listed at the website this Tuesday, do so.  It helps to greet and meet with fellow Floridians who are, you know, waking up to the fact that 2.5 million of our fellow residents SCREWED US with a CROOK for a governor.