Monday, October 26, 2020

War of the Murder Hornets: IT BEGINS

So yeah, I have a bit of an obsession with MURDER HORNETS. I wouldn't call it a fear per se, I would consider it...

(buzzing noise)

AH FFFCCCKKKK THEY'RE HERE THEY HEARD ME SPEAK DISPARAGINGLY AHHHHH BREAK OUT THE FLAMETHROWERS

AHH MURDER HORNET
LOOK AT THAT SCOWL.
The Murder Hornet is all business... and its business is MURDER!

So while I'm on the run trying to avoid lethal stingers that SPIT VENOM (OH NOW THEY TELL ME THIS?!) let's celebrate the brave souls who went into harm's way to avenge all humanity and bee-kind against this insect form of Anti-Life (via the Guardian).

The state agriculture department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees farmers depend on to pollinate crops.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border was about the size of a basketball and contained an estimated 100 to 200 hornets, according to scientists who announced the find on Friday.

On Saturday, crews wearing thick protective suits vacuumed the invasive insects from the cavity of a tree into large canisters. The suits stopped the hornets’ 6mm stingers hurting workers, who also wore face shields because the trapped hornets were capable of spitting a painful venom.

The tree will be cut down to extract newborn hornets and learn if any queens have left the hive, scientists said. Officials suspect more nests may be in the area and will keep searching. A news briefing was planned for Monday...

It's not over. The war against MURDER HORNETS is never over...

And now having seen the weird-ass biohazard suits everyone had to wear into battle (WORST. STILSUITS. EVER) I need to edit that story I submitted to the Strangely Funny editors last month.

Via TMZ.com

Why the red lights? It's not that the MURDER HORNETS are color blind. It's that the MURDER HORNETS are so angry all they see is red.

(more buzzing noises)

OHFCKIVEPISSEDTHEMOFFAGAINRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN...


 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How America Fell Into The Darkest Timeline of 2020

(Update 10/24: Thank you Tengrain for linking this to Crooks & Liars on the daily Mike's Blog Round-Up page! Welcome to mah award-winning blog, people! Browse around, don't cost nuthin'...)

In some of my insomnia-driven nights of anxiety and stress, I wonder often just how the hell this all happened. In these moments I know I'm not the only one who thinks this, I know far too many people at work and online and in my circle of family and friends who are just as stressed as I am.


Part of me knows this Darkest Timeline didn't just crop up out of nowhere: This is the end result of decades of plans and schemes by a Far Right element of our political discourse that despised how things were turning in the 1960s and 1970s and had decided to play The Game more ruthlessly and recklessly than ever before.

But this all still seemed like it creeped up on us, doesn't it? Perhaps too much hope and too much faith in the Long Arc of Justice, I suppose. I can only speak for myself on that.

The groundwork of this destruction had been there ever since the fearmongering of the 20th Century against Communism and its first cousin Socialism, added to the racism that had ruined the United States since the days of Slavery and even worse through Jim Crow, the backlash against the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and to today with the struggle against police brutality against poor (read: Black) communities. (There's an item to discuss later on, that there's proof of how racism directly hurts the U.S. especially in the area of finance and Capitalism we're supposed to be so good at)

All that fearmongering comes into play as the partisan divide between the two major parties grew: Where there had been moderate factions in both Republican and Democratic ranks, the Republicans pursued a Southern Strategy that sought to merge all conservative thought - economic, ethnic, religious, cultural - into one Far Right Conservatism without room for Moderate bipartisanship and no love for accountability.

We've been at the point for more than a decade where John Cole's observationI really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties (re: the Republicans) is insane - has been proven again and again... and yet everyone else in a position to make note of it and react against that madness - the Beltway punditry - sit there and pretend these problems only cropped up yesterday. And worse, the media is already pretending that if trump is forced out of office this problem of being in the Darkest Timeline goes away.

trump alone is not the source of the cruelty, greed, and racism dominating current Republican ideology. It's been there before he rolled down that escalator in 2015, and there's every sign it will get worse once trump goes away. Look at Ed Kilgore's evaluation of past and future GOP malevolence documented in Steve Benen's work The Imposters, reviewed here in Washington Monthly:

...The Imposters is a skillful illustration of how rank cynicism allowed Donald Trump to easily take control of the Republican Party. Republicans, Benen shows, already had subordinated their traditions and alleged values to unprincipled hypocrisy, indifference to facts and empirical data, and self-serving partisanship long before Trump arrived. The GOP created a vacuum in its own soul that the 45th president was easily able to fill with his inflated self-regard and his uninhibited politics of lies and polarization...

Over the last several decades, the Republican Party has been conquered by the Christian right and the overwhelmingly white Tea Party movement. The former has a theocratic vision for America. The latter militantly opposes economic redistribution. These movements converged with a realization that demographic trends were unfriendly to their party’s older base, generating a white identity politics that found its natural expression in the intensely divisive and intermittently racist stylings of Trump.

Consider, for example, Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again.” It is effectively a pledge to return to the days when white men walked tall in America, Christianity was a quasi-official creed, and foreign influences were on the margins of national life—precisely the world that most Republicans yearn for. Trump’s steady appointment of conservative judges gives evangelicals, many of whom believe that abortion is literal murder, exactly what they want. His heavy (if erratic) investment in restrictionist immigration policies has always been central to his appeal, and the sudden lurch of the GOP in that direction after George W. Bush and John McCain championed a more diverse future was far from being just another area of Republican electoral opportunism...

The modern Republican cannot reform because they dare not. Even in the face of demographic shifts away from their power base - away from the religious extremists, the racists, and the defenders of the uber-rich - they had put in so much effort to create this power base they have no way to redirect that base onto different paths. They can't change their tune about immigrants being monsters, they can't take back their "Birth Control Is Murder" chants, they can't reject the massive and unpopular tax cuts they've granted to their deep-pocket overlords. 

Republicans have staked out positions of ideological value so extreme that any attempt to move away from them would cause permanent schisms in the factions they've merged together, and would push the party out of any national role - which it currently clings to only due to Minority Rule status thanks to gerrymandering and geographic factionalism - for multiple future generations. And given the purge of Moderates (the RINOs hunted into obscurity) since the early 1990s, there are no leaders among those factions willing or able to moderate themselves or find the power within the party's structure to force such decisions for the long-term good of their own organization.

One of the hopes of various pundits is that once trump is gone, some form of sanity will return to the Republican Party and they'll take steps to rehabilitate themselves and their image. But it's too late. And it wasn't even trump's fault they're like this. All trump did was show how to exploit the rage and fear to create a devoted cultish voting base. There is no coming back from this. The Republicans had their chance to reject Trumpism (tm) but ignored it when they refused to rally to the likes of Jeb, Rubio, Christie, or Kasich. It's all trump now, and when trump is gone his replacement will play the same strategy. 

This is now the foundation of the modern Republican Party: Racism, Sexism, Political Obstruction, Tax Cuts Forever, Own the Libs, Make America Lose Again. There is no savior coming to save the Republicans. It's trumps all the way down.

And if the Republicans succeed in rigging the game against Democracy and the needs of the nation, they're dragging the rest of us down with them.

The only way out of this pit of doom is to stop voting Republican across the board. Just stop. You don't have to vote Democratic, although that helps the most. Just stop putting Republicans in political power, because they honest-to-God cannot be trusted with that power, not now not for another ten generations, not until all this extremist madness is drained out of their descendants.

We can climb out of the Darkest Timeline, America. But we're going to have to leave the Republicans in that dark deep pit that they made for themselves.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

I've Dwelt Among the (Almost) Humans: A Quickie About Some Squickies

My college dorm roommate at UF was dating this one girl for a few months who shared a story about something a crazy in-law did over the holidays.

She had come across one of her in-laws, the brother to her sister-in-law, while the rest of the family was elsewhere in the house prepping for the holiday meal. The brother-in-law was lying on a guest bed, pants unzipped and stroking himself and looking right at her the whole time, as though what he was doing was somehow enticing or seductive. She fled the scene as soon as she could.

So I was a college-aged male, mostly no different from other hetero men that age intrigued (or obsessed) with sex and pretty girls (I admit to having a stash of Playboys in my college years), and even I was going "what an idiot!" that brother-in-law was. It made no sense to me, exposing himself to another woman (related by marriage) stroking off in a spot where any other relative could catch him and embarrass himself to the entire clan, acting as though the stuff he saw in pornos really worked out in Real Life.

I mean, I know guys are pervs. We shouldn't be, but we are. I know I'm not the cleanest person to pass judgment on others here, but even I knew there were limits, boundaries, proper behavior under all circumstances. I know we all need to live up to the admonition "don't be a Guy, be a Man." 

In short: Showing off your Pocket Rocket (i.e., your One-Eyed Bishop, your Trouser Snake, your Action Jackson, okay I'll stop) - especially in public, especially unsolicited - is/was/will be a bad idea.

And yet... We keep getting these stories of sexual harassment in the workplace, men exposing themselves in uncalled-for places and times, guys taking selfies of their self and forwarding them across the Intertubes as though ALL would bow in awe of their turgid-ness. Christ, even Captain America got caught with nude selfies in the mix, and he sent that out by accident (part of a photo dump he should have taken a closer look-see before he pressed the Send button).

This week alone two weird-ass storied dropped on the public newsfeeds.

A political pundit with the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin, got caught on a live Zoom chat with his... personage showing and it appeared he had been masturbating during a chat session (reportedly about election results). His excuse ultimately ended up being "sorry, I thought I had muted the video feed," as though that cleared him of beating off to 270towin maps. The HELL?

It does not help Toobin that he's faced previous accusations of illicit and unsavory behavior towards women - an extramarital affair here, unwanted advances there - that underscores the likelihood he's been into pervy activity whenever he thought the cameras were turned off.

And speaking about cameras being left on, here comes - gross - Rudy Giuliani, who meets up with Sasha Baron Cohen's character Borat in a sequel film released this weekend. In a case of setting Rudy up for a filmed prank, he gets talked into meeting a cute "reporter" (an actress playing Borat's daughter) in a hotel room for a drink. Before you know it, Rudy is lying down on the bed shoving one hand into his pants before Borat has to bust into the room (with Cohen staying in character) to stop the scene from getting any sicker. 

Giuliani's excuse - when the movie came out and everyone suddenly realized how much of a perv he is - is that he was merely "tucking in his shirt."

I'm a guy. Don't fucking lie to me, Rudy. You stand up to tuck in your shirt, not lie down (because standing up after you've reclined will untuck the shirt anyway).

Rudy was lying down ready to jack off in front of a woman where he thought it would be safe to do so - a hotel room - in some primate-like need to show off his tallywacker. It was reading the reports on this that triggered my memory of my roomie's then-girlfriend sick experience with that in-law.

So what do you think Giuliani does in situations where the guys catching him on film AREN'T there to prank him but compromise him?

After all these years of hearing the stories, reading about the unwelcome spread of dick pics, and all the real-world acts of exposure as part of the harassment habits of men in the workplace, I'm still unsettled (no, more like horrified) that my fellows among the male persuasion are so obsessed with their dicks that they are driven to act like dicks.

And this is why I do not laugh at Werner Herzog in Rick & Morty, where he reveals his sad, woeful tale of what we humans have exposed to him during his time studying us:


I've dwelt among the humans. Their entire culture is built around their penises. It's funny to say they're small. It's funny to say they're big. I've been at parties where humans have held bottles, pencils, thermoses, in front of themselves and called out, "Hey, look at me. I'm Mr. So-and-so dick. I've got such-and-such for a penis." I never saw it fail to get a laugh...

It's not a throwaway gag, folks. Werner Herzog is indicting male humanity with an unhealthy obsession with our own fucking dicks. It's an obsession that doesn't help us in any way, and it causes more stupidity and reckless disregard for women - and even other men - than needs to be in our world.

Christ, guys. Learn better discretion. Learn some manners towards other people for every occasion. KEEP IT IN YOUR FUCKING PANTS.

Don't be dumb-ass dick-obsessed guys. Be men.

Monday, October 19, 2020

I Voted Early Today in 2020

I found out today that not EVERY county in Florida has early voting going on this week, but today October 19 Polk County did start the early voting and so after work I drove from the library to the Bartow Community Center where they have it set up from now until Sunday November 1.

The parking lot was relatively small and it was packed, but the line was short enough that I was second in line and got to see the poll volunteer within a minute. Got the three-page double-sided scantron form printed out and I inked in my choices (BIDEN/HARRIS) and then fed the pages into the scanner, got my I VOTED EARLY sticker, and left.

I admit seeing a handful of pro-trump hats and even a trump mask, but the turnout of voters were a mix of ages, genders, ethnicities. I did not think to ask how the lines might have been earlier in the day, but considering Bartow is a relatively small town (population around 17,000 last I looked) a packed community center is a healthy sign of turnout.

Took the obligatory selfie outside:


By the by, the Early Voting location is doubling as a Vote-By-Mail ballot drop off, hopefully should be the same at other locations.

So I've committed my vote. Deep exhale. Yes, I know there's still madness in the next two weeks to survive, plus the madness post-election when the war over the actual counting commences. I've done my part in this regard. Placing my faith in the system that the machine will count me true, placing my hope with the county elections officers to do their jobs fair and honest.

Now I got to keep doing the job that the rest of us need to do: Advocate for massive voter turnout for the Democrats across the board, every state ballot every local referendum, get the DAMN vote out. Vote Blue in Florida. Vote Blue in EVERY state and DC, America. We can get the votes to throw that corrupt trump out of the White House and make every other elected Republican answer for their corruption and deception.

It's GO time, America. Save ourselves, Vote Biden...


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Royal Palm Literary Awards 2020 Winners

You might recall I am a writer of letters and such - blogging obviously - and that I've been nominated before with the Florida Writers Association's Royal Palm Literary Awards.

This year one of my entries - the article on "Seven Reasons NOT to Invade Iran" - had reached Finalist status qualifying for making the RPLA Awards (Gold first, Silver second, Bronze third), and last night the FWA held their awards ceremony (alas, due to pandemic this was not done at a fancy banquet with artistically done desserts but online, so ice cream at home was served).

Ta-da.


It always feels good to get recognized - especially by peers to whom I am grateful - for your creative endeavors.

So now, I hold dear the award won, and move on to writing the next blog article... about the heartbreak of having a beloved car model hijacked by Michigan gun nuts. DAMN THEM. Ahem, excuse me... going for the Gold this time (owstophittingme).


Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Greatest Threat to Rugged Libertarianism? Bears

Every time I see an article on Libertarianism failing on a grand scale, my Pragmatism radar goes off and I go arunnin' to see what the fuss is.

Shared through Lawyers Guns and Money, there is this report in The New Republic (behind a firewall for some of you, I need to start noting which sites are fee-based) by Patrick Blanchfield reviewing a book by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling about how Libertarians took over a small town in New Hampshire to build their Utopia:

...This is the so-called Free Town Project, a venture wherein a group of libertarian activists attempted to take over a tiny New Hampshire town, Grafton, and transform it into a haven for libertarian ideals—part social experiment, part beacon to the faithful, Galt’s Gulch meets the New Jerusalem. These people had found one another largely over the internet, posting manifestos and engaging in utopian daydreaming on online message boards. While their various platforms and bugbears were inevitably idiosyncratic, certain beliefs united them: that the radical freedom of markets and the marketplace of ideas was an unalloyed good; that “statism” in the form of government interference (above all, taxes) was irredeemably bad. Left alone, they believed, free individuals would thrive and self-regulate, thanks to the sheer force of “logic,” “reason,” and efficiency. For inspirations, they drew upon precedents from fiction (Ayn Rand loomed large) as well as from real life, most notably a series of micro-nation projects ventured in the Pacific and Caribbean during the 1970s and 1980s...

Particularly important for the story is one John Babiarz, a software designer with a Krusty the Klown laugh, who decamped from Big-Government-Friendly Connecticut in the 1990s to homestead in New Hampshire with his equally freedom-loving wife, Rosalie. Entering a sylvan world that was, Hongoltz-Hetling writes, “almost as if they had driven through a time warp and into New England’s revolutionary days, when freedom outweighed fealty and trees outnumbered taxes,” the two built a new life for themselves, with John eventually coming to head Grafton’s volunteer fire department (which he describes as a “mutual aid” venture) and running for governor on the Libertarian ticket.

Although John’s bids for high office failed, his ambitions remained undimmed, and in 2004 he and Rosalie connected with a small group of libertarian activists. Might not Grafton, with its lack of zoning laws and low levels of civic participation, be the perfect place to create an intentional community based on Logic and Free Market Principles? After all, in a town with fewer than 800 registered voters, and plenty of property for sale, it would not take much for a committed group of transplants to establish a foothold, and then win dominance of municipal governance. And so the Free Town Project began. The libertarians expected to be greeted as liberators, but from the first town meeting, they faced the inconvenient reality that many of Grafton’s presumably freedom-loving citizens saw them as outsiders first, and compatriots second—if at all. Tensions flared further when a little Googling revealed what “freedom” entailed for some of the new colonists. One of the original masterminds of the plan, a certain Larry Pendarvis, had written of his intention to create a space honoring the freedom to “traffic organs, the right to hold duels, and the God-given, underappreciated right to organize so-called bum fights.” He had also bemoaned the persecution of the “victimless crime” that is “consensual cannibalism...”

That Libertarianism has room to accept cannibalism is a problem shared with Far Right Conservatives, but we'll save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, back in Socialist Hellhole San Francisco Libertarian Heaven Grafton:

While Pendarvis eventually had to take his mail-order Filipina bride business and dreams of municipal takeovers elsewhere (read: Texas), his comrades in the Free Town Project remained undeterred. Soon, they convinced themselves that, evidence and reactions to Pendarvis notwithstanding, the Project must actually enjoy the support of a silent majority of freedom-loving Graftonites. How could it not? This was Freedom, after all. And so the libertarians keep coming, even as Babiarz himself soon came to rue the fact that “the libertarians were operating under vampire rules—the invitation to enter, once offered, could not be rescinded.” The precise numbers are hard to pin down, but ultimately the town’s population of a little more than 1,100 swelled with 200 new residents, overwhelmingly men, with very strong opinions and plenty of guns...

If the Libertarian vision of Freedom can take many shapes and sizes, one thing is bedrock: “Busybodies” and “statists” need to stay out of the way. And so the Free Towners spent years pursuing an aggressive program of governmental takeover and delegitimation, their appetite for litigation matched only by their enthusiasm for cutting public services. They slashed the town’s already tiny yearly budget of $1 million by 30 percent, obliged the town to fight legal test case after test case, and staged absurd, standoffish encounters with the sheriff to rack up YouTube hits. Grafton was a poor town to begin with, but with tax revenue dropping even as its population expanded, things got steadily worse. Potholes multiplied, domestic disputes proliferated, violent crime spiked, and town workers started going without heat. “Despite several promising efforts,” Hongoltz-Hetling dryly notes, “a robust Randian private sector failed to emerge to replace public services.” Instead, Grafton, “a haven for miserable people,” became a town gone “feral.” Enter the bears, stage right...

You hear that, Ed? Bears. Now you're putting the whole station in jeopardy.

Back to Blanchfield:

What was the deal with Grafton’s bears? Hongoltz-Hetling investigates the question at length, probing numerous hypotheses for why the creatures have become so uncharacteristically aggressive, indifferent, intelligent, and unafraid. Is it the lack of zoning, the resulting incursion into bear habitats, and the reluctance of Graftonites to pay for, let alone mandate, bear-proof garbage bins? Might the bears be deranged somehow, perhaps even disinhibited and emboldened by toxoplasmosis infections, picked up from eating trash and pet waste from said unsecured bins? There can be no definitive answer to these questions, but one thing is clear: The libertarian social experiment underway in Grafton was uniquely incapable of dealing with the problem. “Free Towners were finding that the situations that had been so easy to problem-solve in the abstract medium of message boards were difficult to resolve in person.”

Grappling with what to do about the bears, the Graftonites also wrestled with the arguments of certain Libertarians who questioned whether they should do anything at all—especially since several of the town residents had taken to feeding the bears, more or less just because they could. One woman, who prudently chose to remain anonymous save for the sobriquet “Doughnut Lady,” revealed to Hongoltz-Hetling that she had taken to welcoming bears on her property for regular feasts of grain topped with sugared doughnuts. If those same bears showed up on someone else’s lawn expecting similar treatment, that wasn’t her problem. The bears, for their part, were left to navigate the mixed messages sent by humans who alternately threw firecrackers and pastries at them. Such are the paradoxes of Freedom. Some people just “don’t get the responsibility side of being libertarians,” Rosalie Babiarz tells Hongoltz-Hetling, which is certainly one way of framing the problem...

This is where I point out the thing I learned from studying 19th Century Literary Utopias back in college: One of the obvious flaws in any Utopian attempt is how conflict inevitably arises between people arguing over what that Utopia should actually be. The paradox of Libertarianism - the obsession that the Individual is all that matters - becomes self-defeating when those Individuals try to impose their singular world-view upon other Individuals who might not see it the same way, and are following their own agendas. Who is going to stop Doughnut Lady, who is expressing her Libertarian ideal of co-existing with pastry-loving ursines? Someone else's problem after all, isn't it?

Back to Blanchfield:

Pressed by bears from without and internecine conflicts from within, the Free Town Project began to come apart. Caught up in “pitched battles over who was living free, but free in the right way,” the libertarians descended into accusing one another of statism, leaving individuals and groups to do the best (or worst) they could. Some kept feeding the bears, some built traps, others holed up in their homes, and still others went everywhere toting increasingly larger-caliber handguns. After one particularly vicious attack, a shadowy posse formed and shot more than a dozen bears in their dens. This effort, which was thoroughly illegal, merely put a dent in the population; soon enough, the bears were back in force.

Meanwhile, the dreams of numerous libertarians came to ends variously dramatic and quiet. A real estate development venture known as Grafton Gulch, in homage to the dissident enclave in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, went belly-up. After losing a last-ditch effort to secure tax exemption, a financially ruined Connell found himself unable to keep the heat on at the Meetinghouse; in the midst of a brutal winter, he waxed apocalyptic and then died in a fire. Franz quit his survivalist commune, which soon walled itself off into a prisonlike compound, the better to enjoy freedom. And John Babiarz, the erstwhile inaugurator of the Project, became the target of relentless vilification by his former ideological cohorts, who did not appreciate his refusal to let them enjoy unsecured blazes on high-wildfire–risk afternoons. When another, higher-profile libertarian social engineering enterprise, the Free State Project, received national attention by promoting a mass influx to New Hampshire in general (as opposed to just Grafton), the Free Town Project’s fate was sealed. Grafton became “just another town in a state with many options,” options that did not have the same problem with bears...

Blanchfield does step back to review the state of the state of New Hampshire itself, where the political conflicts between ideologies have collapsed into a clogged unresponsive mess. Decades of mismanaging and underfunding the agencies that do exist that should handle the bear threat (but can't) has contributed to the current crisis.

A lot of that mismanagement stems from the human urge to follow, the need to live up to, whatever philosophy (our own -Ism) drives us. A lot of the problem with bears isn't the bears, it's us.

The bear just wants to fucking eat donuts. That's the only -Ism the bear knows.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Florida 2020 General Election Ballot: Summon the Blue Wave, Please

Time again, another Presidential election cycle here in Florida with EARLY VOTING STARTING MONDAY OCTOBER 19, so I want to take a moment to post how the ballot looks - at least where I am in Polk County, here's a sample ballot - and offer suggestions on what to consider when you cast your vote.

(dramatic beat)

Okay, for anybody who's been following this blog for the last eight twelve years, you probably know that my overall suggestion is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN.

It's not just me. There are several prominent conservative figures who have recoiled from the monstrosity their own party has become and they're pretty much saying the same thing. This Republican Party will not reform itself or move away from its madness until they are utterly humiliated and driven out of power. (another beat) For the next fifty years.

The only way this happens is if enough Americans not only fully Progressive but also Center-Left and Independent show up to vote in unity against the corruption that the modern Republicans - not just trump but everyone from Mitch McConnell all down - are openly planning to commit.

So here's my bit, trying to educate my fellow Floridians on what to look for.

President

What part of "trump IS A VULGAR SUBHUMAN BULLYING SH-TGIBBON" have you missed on my blog?

I could go into 500 different reasons why you should NOT vote for trump/Pence in any way, shape or form. I can go into at least 5 reasons to vote FOR Biden/Harris. 1) Biden is a Passive-Positive Character in the Taft vein, 2) Biden will work towards a Big Tent party for Democrats of all stripes to join in for effective ideological gains, 3) Biden will restore the social safety net that the Republicans have been hacking at with fireaxes the last 20 years, 4) Biden will put on his Cabinet people who are dedicated to effective governance and will repair the damage done by trump's corrupt regime, 5) Biden will not turn every fcking day into an anxiety-riddled, Twitter-driven, Hellish STRESS TEST.

So in short: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD VOTE BIDEN/HARRIS

Congress

Florida does not have any Senate races this cycle, so it's all down to the House seats - all 27 of them - and with any luck the Democratic voter turnout will flip at least 14 of them Blue so that in case there's a Delegation vote in the House to resolve a compromised Electoral College result the vote will go for Biden.

In my case, I'm in the 17th District, covering south Polk County and much of the south inland counties, which are lightly populated and heavily conservative. Port Charlotte (Charlotte County) is kind of the only other major population center in the district, and I'm not familiar with the area but given how much of its population buildup was in the late 1990s with a lot of conservative shifting, I don't have my hopes up.

Yeah. I live in the middle of trump Country. Every other oversized Coal Roller truck has the worst taste in bumper stickers. And yet, I WILL DEFY YOU, STARS. I am calling for everyone in District 17 to vote for Allen Ellison

I am calling on everybody I know from Pinellas County to Pasco to Alachua to Broward to Duval even: BLUE WAVE, peeps. 

State Legislature

There's 120 State House seats up for vote, so that's about 120 seats we NEED to flip BLUE, Florida. It's only 61 seats to control the House (okay Republicans have a 71-to-46 advantage (3 vacancies), but all we need is to gain 12 seats on the 46 held along with filling those three vacancies...). 

Okay, in Polk County, that's Districts 39 (Dem Chris Cause), 40 (Dem Jan Barrow), 41 (Dem Jared West), and 42 (Dem Barbara Ann Cady) up for consideration. I'm in District 56, so I'm putting a vote in for James Davis.

The State Senate goes in groups, they are doing odd-number Senate districts this cycle and somehow Polk County does not carry any part of them (I am in District 26, so...). I may not have a direct vote for any of the 40 Senators, but I do call on the voters who ARE voting in the odd-numbered districts to VOTE BLUE WAVE. It's a 23-to-17 Republican control of the Senate, so if the Democrats can hold their 17 seats and flip 4, that would make it 21-to-19 in favor of Democrats... Just gotta flip ONE of the legislative houses, and then we'll see DeSantis held accountable for his mishandling of the pandemic...  

County Commissioner

The county seats go in rotations, so this year it's just District 3 up for a vote and that's Democrat Bob Doyel we need to support.

State Supreme Court / District Court Retention

We have a system in place where judges are appointed but then subject to voter approval to retain. In 2020, there is currently one person up for the State Supreme Court, Carlos Muniz. To sum him up: He was on trump's short list to replace Ginsburg's seat this month. Yeah. That's all you need to know. If you want more, he worked under Pam Bondi. Uh-uh. I don't trust his credentials one bit. VOTE NO and remove him.

The Appellate Court votes to retain are spread out, so here in Polk County (2nd Court District) we've got Drew Atkinson, Morris Silberman, Daniel Sleet, and Andrea Teves Smith to consider. At the moment I can't find anything on their biographies so I can't say who brought them to the table. For now, I'll trust to the better natures of our angels and VOTE YES to retain.

School Board

There doesn't look to be any listed this cycle. Hmm.

Lake Region Lakes Management

There's a race between John Lewis and Steve Enzor, but not much information on them. Going by Facebook pages, Enzor seems to have the background working with the city of Winter Haven and previous water management commission work, while Lewis shows more engagement with the community but I'm not sure what his full bio is. I leave it to you, Lake Region, if you know which is the better candidate.  

State Amendments

I've made my views on the State Amendments earlier, and while I'm set on certain ones I am willing to admit I may be wrong on my earlier opinions. I've been getting more pushback against the Open (Jungle) Primaries and the peeps chatting me on it are making valid points. Thing is, as a NPA voter, I still feel the need to support making the Primaries open to all and to encourage more voter turnout. If you want to vote NO against that, you're free to (I will vote YES because I think the Jungle Primaries are manageable and I want the NPA voters like myself to have more say in these votes). 

To repeat, I am NO on 1 (Citizenship requirement to vote, which is ALREADY a requirement), YES on 2 (Minimum Wage), YES on 3 (Open Primary), NO on 4 (Forced Second Ballot Referenda), NO on 5 (More tax exemption) and YES on 6 (Tax exemption carryover to widows of military veterans, I know this could be a NO vote but it's family-related).

Polk County Referendums and Charter Amendments

There's also County matters to vote on, and what we got are:

Referendum One: Extension of Limited Property Tax Exemptions for Businesses Creating New Jobs

Shall the board of county commissioners of this county be reauthorized to grant, pursuant to s. 3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, limited property tax exemptions, for a limited time, to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that create new full‐time jobs in the county? The time period for such reauthorization would commence November 6, 2022 and expire on November 5, 2032.

This sounds like a good idea, don't it? Supporting our Jobs Creators in the county. Thing is, how well is this exemption enforced? How are we guaranteed that our major employers in-county are fulfilling these obligations? In the short term, there's no guarantee of job creating while a pandemic is underway, and in the long term, businesses that need to hire full-time are going to hire full-time anyway. There doesn't need to be a tax credit to encourage them. I'd vote NO.

Charter Amendment One: Increasing Time Period Between Charter Review Commissions from 8 Years to 12 Years

Kind of what it says on the label. The argument in favor of this goes "We need to reduce expenses, and the Charter Review Commission doesn't need to meet THAT often." That may sound reasonable, but it runs the risk of the County facing administrative or committee crises that may flare up regarding the county charter during that longer time period. This doesn't feel like a smart thing to do. I'd vote NO.

Charter Amendment Two: Expense Reduction of the Efficiency Commission

The plot here is about cutting expenses for Polk County by deleting Articles 8.6 through 8.6.4 in their entirety of the County Charter, referring to the Polk County Efficiency Commission. You don't know what that would entail unless you actually READ Articles 8.6 through 8.6.4, so here goes (link goes to Charter PDF):

8.6 Polk County Efficiency Commission

Not later than January 31, 2005 and of every eighth year thereafter, there shall be appointed a Polk County Efficiency Commission...

Okay, what Charter Amendment 2 is doing is PURGING the Efficiency Commission altogether. They're cutting off an arm of the county government here. I am not entirely sure what the commission does, but since the title involves "Efficiency" I'd expect them to be going through the code of county ordinances weeding out overlapping rules, any outdated rules, and other stuff. Which may actually make things more affordable for the businesses and residents restricted by guidelines based in say 1897 but useless in 2020.

Thing is, it does not look like the county will replace this Efficiency Commission with anything more cost-friendly that would still do the same job. Without that, I'm worried the lack of an efficiency oversight committee would let the county commissioners reinstate unwieldly stuff. I'd vote NO

And just for those of you still following me for the Pasco County Mosquito Control Board election (Yeah, Mom reminded me by email this Monday), there's two seats (One and Three) up for vote for 2020:

Mosquito Control, Seat 1

Randy Evans (incumbent)
Seth Weightman 

Mosquito Control, Seat 3

James E. Bailey
Shanon R. Holm
Gary W. (Buck) Joiner (incumbent)

In previous years, I had little information to go by as the seats are too minor for the local papers to even name the candidates, but I think I found a site (Vote411 Voter Guide) that tries to cover the local stuff, so I've got the links above set to that site. Weightman didn't provide any info, so he's a blank and I can't recommend. The Seat 3 candidates at least provided responses, but Holm is the only one to check YES on the question about supporting sustainable energy and recognizing the Climate Change issues. So I'd suggest going with Holm if he's on your ballot. These are supposed to be non-partisan seats, so I won't consider a partisan stance on (OH FCK IT, VOTE BLUE IF YOU KNOW IT).

Okay. That's all I got for the Florida balloting. The Early Voting is Monday. Get to it.

#VoteBlue2020 #VoteBidenHarris