Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why FEMA Matters. And Why Romney Will Kill FEMA First Chance He Gets.

This is the argument for a government agency like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), which is simple: there are certain disasters - hurricanes in particular - that go beyond the scale that any privatized agency can reach.  Yes, libertarians, there are emergencies too big for state agencies and private corporations to handle.

Sandy is a perfect example: this is a storm that hit states from North Carolina up to Connecticut. Meaning the hurricane affected Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and especially the hardest hit New Jersey and New York.  Even land-locked West Virginia was hit by blizzards caused by the hurricane.  Can you imagine all of those states struggling for resources at the same time, with such problems as drinkable water and crashed nationwide power grids affecting them all at once?  And who would coordinate, make the decisions, organize all those states to work together?  This is where the Federal government with its larger-scope powers and deeper pockets can come in real handy.  And which is why a lot of the governors of the hardest-hit states are singing FEMA's praises right now.

And with regards to privatization: will there be just one corporation making deals with all those states, or will there be a competitive market with rival companies offering different services?  Can you imagine rival companies working together, or coordinating their systems to be in sync to work in unison during a disaster?  And given how corporations avoid liability and responsibility for upper management, who will dare take the lead on emergency responses that could make things worse?  With a public agency, there is at least a chain of command that HAS to work, that HAS to coordinate, and that HAS a level of accountability that would ensure that agency works as effectively as possible.

EDIT: Sullivan linked to a wonderful article from someone who works in the insurance business, and who presents in better terms why privatizing disaster aid - pretty much relying on insurance companies to pay for it all under Risk Management - wouldn't work in the real world.

Other examples of privatizing public agency services - such as making prisons corporate-run, the efforts of the Iraqi occupation to have companies handle services that civil engineers and the military could have better performed - make me wary of any privatization effort of services that affect our lives and well-being.  Above all, privatization brings with it billing woes and waste, abuses of authority, lack of oversight, and eventually even higher costs to repair any of the damages done.

And so why does this make a Romney Presidency a disaster in the making?

Because Romney will KILL FEMA.

As recent as his primary debates, Romney made it clear his belief that disaster responses could be best handled by the states (uh, WRONG) and perhaps even privatized by corporations (ah, let's give the corporations even MORE of our money).

As mentioned before about Romney's campaign, his one constant has been his massive tax cut.  A massive tax cut that he's going to have to justify by slashing every federal funding program (other than the Defense budget, which no Republican dare threaten.  If you think Social Security or Medicare are also safe, just remember that the current GOP wants to kill off every last remnant of the Great Society AND the New Deal...) in order to get anywhere close to balancing any budget (which STILL won't happen because all tax cuts do is create more deficits).  If Romney wins the Presidency, he is going to want his massive tax cut.  He gets that tax cut, it WILL be the death-knell of every federally-funded social program on the books, cutting deep into even what the states can do.  And this will kill any disaster relief - federal AND state - that we need to survive any disasters in the coming years.  And hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, floods are all constant: we get them every year...

This is one very big reason - out of HUNDREDS - to NOT vote for Romney for the White House.  Like it or not, the federal government exists and has powers and authorities above that of the states or any private entity.  The question is who in office will best manage those federal resources to ensure that our government works FOR us.  The question is who in office will take those duties seriously and not pass them off to underlings unqualified to do anything more than manage horse shows (having disgraced ex-FEMA director Michael Brown come out and accuse Obama and his FEMA team responded too QUICKLY is beyond a joke, it's an insult to every victim of Hurricane Katrina).  The question to all of us voting this election cycle is who do we trust to run our government when disaster strikes and who has the experience, focus, and skill to handle those disasters.

Romney is NOT the answer to that question.  Not ever.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Early Voting Starts Today in Florida for 2012

So I went.

Normally, I prefer going on Election Day itself.  I'm a traditionalist about civic duty in that regard.  But this year - for the first time ever! - I've gotten a Jury summons for that week, meaning I may be somewhat busy on Election Day.  So, best to get it out of the way...

And I took pics.  Cell phone camera, alas, so the images are a bit fuzzy.

The line wasn't too long at the Government Center, moved pretty quickly (got from front door to Elections Office door in about 18 minutes), and the voting itself went relatively smooth.

I think the turnout was big due to this being the first day to Early Vote.  Previously, early voting started this Monday, but the Republicans in charge of the state seem to have this sick notion of wanting most citizens to NOT vote, so they're doing their damnedest to stop us registered voters as much as possible.  Well, up yours, Rick "Fraudster" Scott, up yours...

EDIT: And remember, Floridians... VOTE NO ON ALL AMENDMENTS!  And please VOTE TO RETAIN THE JUDGES!

Just remember, everyone, GET THE VOTE OUT!  The more Americans voting the better!  C'mon, everyone!  VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Third Parties Are Doing Wrong

Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell came out in defense of Third Parties in the United States, highlighting a barely-noticed debate between the lower-tier Presidential candidates that NOBODY in mainstream media ever mentioned until he did.

But then he suggested something I feel is the wrong thing to say in a closely-held election we're having this 2012, when every vote counts for Obama facing a "why is Romney even getting this many voters considering how UNPOPULAR Mitt is" situation.  O'Donnell encouraged the voters in the non-battleground states - especially California - to go ahead and vote for a Third Party Presidential nominee.  O'Donnell may be thinking that "oh, enough party-line voters in places like California will STILL vote for Obama," but making any kind of protest vote even in supposedly solid states can bring up the woes and follies of the 2000 Election all over again.  Where enough votes get siphoned away from a major party candidate that DID NOT deserve to lose those votes (Gore) against the other major party candidate who'll turn out to be an unmitigated disaster (Bush the Lesser).

I get a little bit why Lawrence O'Donnell is saying this: he's as frustrated as a lot of us are about how the Two-Party system is strangling our government, our voting choices, our chances of branching off into different yet potentially incredible actions for our nation.  But O'Donnell is looking at this the wrong way.  Mr. O'Donnell sir, this is NOT how you encourage Third Parties to thrive in the United States.

This is the problem with Third Parties: they are more focused on the top office for election - The Presidency - and almost not at all for the more important offices lower on the ticket - such as Senate, House, Governorships, State Legislatures, etc.

The Third Parties all operate under the assumption that winning the Big One - the White House - will spring up enough voters to maintain a solid party base for years if not decades.  They seem to think that all it will take is the right face, the right celebrity, the right charismatic leader and enough people will rally to that person and viola!  They get a regular seat at the political table.  This is why you more often than not see a ton of names in the Presidential ballot - here in Florida, I'm counting TWELVE party candidates for Presidnet/VP, not including the Write-In option - but barely ANY in the other open elections for Congress, Senate, State Representative, etc.

But this is all wrong.  At least in this day and age.

Maybe back in the beginning, when Parties formed during the first years of our Constitutional system, it helped that the parties had natural leaders around which they formed - Federalists to Hamilton, Republican-Democrats to Jefferson - if only because everyone was starting off on the same footing.  And the way the voting system was set up - Winner Take All per district or state - it was simplest to have two parties fighting over parking spaces in DC (well, for the horse-drawn carriages).  It's interesting to note how when one party died off - Federalists, by the 1820s - the system so abhorred a vacuum that a replacement party - Whigs - formed to fill that vacuum.

But the Whigs quickly demonstrated why a party formed around one person - or one issue - doesn't last very long or do very well.  For the Whigs were formed in specific response against one person: Andrew Jackson.  When it came time to actually do anything regarding issues, the Whigs found themselves disorganized and leaderless.  Hating Jackson - which is natural, considering how much of a bastard he was - could only go so far.  It especially hurt because thanks to fate the first President Whig - William Harrison - died in 30 days, leaving his VP John Tyler the keys to the White House... and Tyler was only a Whig specifically because he hated Jackson.  Tyler quickly turned out to be a Democrat at heart and vetoed nearly every Whig legislation that crossed his desk.  This killed party unity before the party had a chance to solidify.

The successor to the Whigs - The Republicans - succeeded a bit better because they worked not only at putting up Presidential candidates - first in 1856 - but also lined up party members for the House and Senate.  They put a full platform, unlike the other potential Whig cast-offs like the Free-Soil Party: and THIS is how you're supposed to get a successful Third Party going.

The party is not as much its leadership as it is the voting base, the people who actually VOTE for those leaders in the first place.  For all we rail against the wingnut factions of the major parties, they serve a purpose of basic party foundation (the trick is to find the saner members of those factions to offer up for elections).  You need to coalesce a large enough group of like-minded citizens, get enough of them to volunteer for the less glamorous but still-vital offices at the state and congressional levels, and work hard at getting enough of those candidates elected to make a difference in office.

Better still, the ones you elect to the lower offices become viable candidates for higher office.  State Senator can campaign for Governor.  State Representative makes a try for Congress.  From the U.S. House to the U.S. Senate.  And from any of those higher offices, a genuine shot at the Presidency.

The thing the Third Parties need to do in this day and age is build from the ground up.  Don't even run a candidate for President until you've got enough party members elected to other offices who can then prove themselves in those duties that one of them can perform the duties of the President.

The other thing about getting a successful Third Party going is to KEEP GOING AS A THIRD PARTY.  We've had other attempts - The Populists in the 1880s-90s, for example - where that third party was gaining ground... only for that party to get absorbed by either the Democrats or the Republicans, whichever was closest in ideology to them.  Other times - the Bull Moose progressives under Teddy Roosevelt, the Reform Party of Ross Perot - the third parties were the vanity project of a particular headstrong candidate who focused only on the Presidency and did little to establish a solid ground game for their vanity parties to survive.  Once Roosevelt and Perot were out of the picture for each one, both parties crashed and burned.  It didn't help for the Reform Party that they got hijacked by Pat Buchanan in 2000 who turned that party into a mirror of himself - twisted and evil - before driving it into bankruptcy and then heading back to his home party of the Republicans with nary a scratch.

The successful Third Party is going to have to defend their way.  There will be attempts by both established parties - Democrats and Republicans - to kill off a third option for voters (because two parties make it predictable).  The Third Party is going to have to insist on retaining its own existence even when/if it has to caucus in Congress with one of the two major parties (especially making sure their party leaders do get key chairmanships to prove party value, and also not switch brands).

Dear Mr. O'Donnell: if you want a Third Party to come along and talk about the issues that NEED talking, that NEED solutions, then by all means promote the concept.  But do us all a favor: push those Third Parties to do the hard work of getting a groundswell of support by spreading out and getting more candidates into more offices down-ballot.  Meanwhile, right now, GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT FOR OBAMA AND MAKE SURE ROMNEY NEVER GETS NEAR THE OVAL OFFICE.  ahem.  Needed to be CAPS LOCKed, sir...


Now, off to lunch.  When I get back here, I wanna hear back from the most moderate party out there (hope that's the Modern Whigs) about getting on the ticket for Governor in 2014.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Whither the Electoral Scenarios?

My previous post may have been about the results - what to expect should Romney win, what to expect when Obama wins (pleaseGodpleaseGodPLEASEGOD) - but as I fell asleep a thought came into my head "Well, you didn't point to how they could actually get to the win via the Electoral College."

So here's this little side-post...

For those of you who slept through ninth grade Civics & Government class, the Electoral College was the system the Founders put into place for electing the President and Vice President: using electors from states equivalent to the number of Senators and Congressmen per state rather than a direct popular vote.

This was for several reasons: the Founders didn't trust the mass of voters (which even back then wasn't EVERY American); and they feared the possibility that Presidents would come to represent the largest population states and ignore the smaller ones.  The Electoral College was set up to reduce the large population counts per state to a more manageable system and make it so that candidates had to woo the states and not the large mobs.  The Founders also wanted to set up the Electoral College so that no one really won it and the results sent to the House of Representatives to have Congress choose their President (sadly, the times that DID happen - 1800, 1828, 1876, almost 2000 - the system didn't work).

Anyway, the race to the White House today is the race to get to 270 Electoral votes.  Out of 50 states, that means getting a couple of large Electoral States - California and New York have been solids for Democrats, Texas for Republicans (Ohio usually, but the dynamics of voter interests in the 21st Century are making Ohio a toss-up) - as well as getting enough of the mid-sized swing states (Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado... with large state Florida a major swing state because of major internal voter differences) to tally up to 270.  While the small states obviously suffer more today as the Electoral numbers create a massive difference between large (California is 55 Electoral) and small (Wyoming smallest is 3), small states tend to be static for prolonged periods and are counted on by either party to not switch much (except New Hampshire, the Florida of New England).

For Obama (much like any incumbent) the solution should be simple: get all the states he already won the first time in 2008 (image map from Wikipedia).  Some states he did win that had normally voted Republican over the past 20 years - Florida especially, North Carolina and Virginia, Ohio (major loss for the GOP), some of the other Midwest/Great Lakes states - are toss-ups again this election cycle.  The good news for Obama is that he could lose one or even two of those states (Florida and North Carolina in particular) and still clear the 270 bar with room to spare.  But if he loses Virginia, Ohio, maybe Pennsylvania or Colorado along with FL and NC then he loses the election.  So he really can't relax on ANY of those states (DAMMIT FLORIDA, you voters are already on my Sh-t List for voting Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott as Governor, hasn't his screw-ups waken you up to the fact you SHOULD NOT VOTE REPUBLICAN?!  Stop buying the GOP Snake Oil!  Redeem yourselves, VOTE OBAMA!  Sheesh...).

Romney has the tougher path: He has to win back the toss-up states the Republicans lost in 2008.  While most of the Red States will be counted on to stay Red (Texas, most of the Deep South states, Missouri, rancher states from Idaho to the Dakotas), he's not likely to flip any existing solid Blue states his way (even his home state of Massachusetts: for a candidate to lose his state is harsh under any circumstances win or lose).  So Romney HAS TO WIN Ohio... AND Florida... AND Virginia... AND North Carolina... AND Colorado...

This is why this election is such a nail-biter.  Florida and Colorado keep switching colors on the maps every two weeks (although it's looking like Florida has settled for Romney DAMMIT FLORIDA WAKE UP VOTE OBAMA).  Virginia is hovering just over the Leans Obama line.  Ohio may look like it's Leaning Obama but you can't take that for granted.

Making it wackier is that we're facing an election result where the popular vote and the Electoral vote might not match: Obama winning popular/Romney winning Electoral, or Obama winning Electoral/Romney winning popular (how THIS happens I've no idea: Romney is the LEAST LIKED candidate in modern history).  The resulting civil war should probably last a few years... /facepalm

There's been calls to eliminate the Electoral College over the decades, especially after 2000 when its flaws became oh so apparent.  Problem is, the Electoral system has one virtue: it forces candidates to campaign in more states than they would have under a Popular Vote system.  With just a Popular Vote, all the campaigning will be in California and Texas, maybe New York and Florida, as the candidates go after the largest states only.

The Electoral College doesn't have to die: it just needs to be tweaked to more reflect the popular vote within each state already.  Getting rid of the Winner Takes All per state is the way to go.  Nebraska has it so that their Electors are divided up by their districts and by state (for the Senate seats).  Of course, they've gerrymandered the congressional districts so it's kind of broken still, but the basic idea has merit.

A revised Electoral College would have the overall winner of a state garner the two Electoral votes reflecting the Senate.  The remaining Electoral votes (for the congressional seats) will be divided up by percentage of popular votes (different from Nebraska, which still forces the results by gerrymandered district).  If there's two congressional districts and Candidate A gets over 60 percent of the popular vote in that state, Candidate A gets those two Electorals: if Candidate A wins but is below 60 percent, Candidate A gets one Electoral and Candidate B gets the second.  In a state like California with a ton of Electoral votes, the percentage division suddenly gives Candidate B more to smile about.

What this would do is give the candidates more incentive to campaign through more states to win over more voters in each state.  Rather than rely on the base to keep that one state to their one party, the candidates will need to reach into those states to keep their group of voters intent and driven to get the vote out.  Even the smaller states will come into play as getting even one or two Electorals out of those states can go towards building up your count to 270: Especially since a Democratic candidate can no longer count on ALL of California's Electoral votes and a Republican candidate can no longer count on ALL of Texas.

This makes the system more responsive to the actual voters.  Voters will come to see that their vote DOES count as it could help their candidate win enough Electoral votes to matter, even though their residing state may go overall for the other candidate.

Today, however, we've got the nail-biter.  With any luck, the Electoral College and popular vote will reflect each other, the vote counts will work, the election will run smooth as possible.  With any luck... /stresses out

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Scenarios

It's almost over except for the shouting and more than likely a large segment of the population convinced the election results "stolen" no matter how it turns out for either Obama or Romney.  But it's basically down to these five scenarios:

Romney wins the Presidency, Republicans keep control of House, Democrats keep control of the Senate

If Romney wins, it will most likely be due to a strong Republican voter turnout (and an effective suppression / machine-rigging effort) which means the House elections will overall favor the GOP.  Certain candidates - the wackier ones like Allan West and Michele Bachmann - may lose out, but thanks to the age-old tested system of gerrymandering the Republicans can guarantee themselves two more cozy years of doing almost nothing in the House.
The Democratic Party keeping control of the Senate is looking to be a more likely thing regardless of the Presidential votes: Senate seats aren't gerrymandered - so far - and the odds of most of the Democratic incumbents returning are right now pretty solid.  The Republicans may yet take Missouri's Senate seat - to a candidate Todd Akin who out of all the Senate candidates out there LEAST deserves to win, will you WAKE UP MISSOURI DO YOU WANT AN IDIOT REPRESENTING YOUR STATE? - but may lose Massachusetts' seat as Elizabeth Warren now has a slight lead on Scott "Oh God Please Massachusetts Buy My BS About Being a Moderate" Brown.  Since the Democrats already have a 5-seat lead, switching seats or even losing one or two won't switch the Senate to the GOP.  That would take a huge upset of most the Senate elections, and in states where the GOP can't guarantee to suppress the vote or rig the machines...
What this means: does the phrase "We f-cking went back to the George W. Bush years?" mean anything to you.  Romney's platform may have flip-flopped all over the place, but his one constant has been that massive tax cut favoring the upper incomes, meaning that a majority of voters have once again ignored the consequences of Dubya's tax cuts of 2001-2003: cuts that led to nothing but massive deficits, and had no effect on job growth or economic stimulus but great effect on income inequality.  With a House willing to vote his way, all Romney needs is to get them to pass a version of his tax plan through the Reconciliation process requiring only a simple majority vote in the Senate... and then twist enough Democratic Senators' votes to get the 51 (or 50, as VP Paul Ryan can cast the tie-breaker) to pass it.  And then our economy will go into the crapper, the deficits will get worse, and you can expect Romney to blame Obama's term for the woes during his 2016 campaign, because after all tax cuts can never fail...
And that's the economic woes.  On another domestic front, Romney and the Republicans made such an effort calling for the repeal of RomneyCare ObamaCare that once in office Jan. 2013 they are going to be expected by their tea-partier wingnut base to actually repeal the whole thing.  Romney may yet weasel out of that, but like Molly Ivins said you gotta dance with what brung ya, and with a wingnut-inspired House egging him on we're bound to see portions of ObamaCare get cut... most likely bringing an end to efforts to cap escalating health care costs, which *is* something that can kill our economy right quick.  Not to mention the Medicare/Medicaid "reforms" that will turn Medicare into a voucher program that WON'T keep up with costs and Medicaid into a sorely underfunded block grant to states trying to keep the elderly and children pretty much alive.  This is where the Senate may prove a block to the repeal efforts, but one thing that has to happen is that ObamaCare is going to need funding, and all the House has to do is refuse to compromise on what gets spent and still be able to kill off those parts of ObamaCare they want dead.
And that's not even touching on the women's health issues.  The push by the pro-fetus crowd has never been more severe than this election cycle.  At least in previous cycles the major candidates favored exceptions for abortion such as rape/incest and the health of the mother.  But more and more Republican leaders - Akin and Ryan the more dangerous ones - refuse to even accept those concepts as "legitimate" and are ready and eager to ban abortion altogether (with vague "personhood" laws that would make even natural miscarriages equal to murder). Combine this with their push to deny cheaper health care coverage for birth control pills and other contraceptives, and you've got the makings of a society where women have no choices or means of taking care of their own bodies, and worse yet vulnerable to the whims of any rapist and stuck with pregnancies they morally do not accept.
And as for foreign policy... hoo boy.  When you've got a candidate in Romney who CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER maps showing how Iran has its own access to the sea without bothering with Syria which doesn't even border Iran, you've got a potential President whose grasp of foreign affairs isn't tenuous it's non-existent.  Romney does not impress our allies, this is a given.  Most of those nations' leaders were in power or close to during the Bush the Lesser years and they do NOT have fond memories of him.  Putting into the White House a man they are ALREADY viewing as WORSE THAN Dubya and you've got a recipe for disaster.  And speaking of disaster: A Romney administration is going to rely on the dregs of the Dubya years, a collection of Cheney-inspired neoconservatives obsessed with proving their manhood by sending other men off to die in mismanaged wars.  While a Democratic Senate may temper some of the foreign policy miscues that are bound to happen, the fact is most foreign affairs are handled by the Executive Branch, and it's up to them in the State Dept. and the White House to make treaties, maintain foreign ties, and represent us overseas.  Meaning the Romney crew can do whatever they like within the constraints of the Constitution.  Meaning, we're screwed...

Romney wins the Presidency, Republicans retain control of the House, Republican gain control of the Senate.

Very unlikely, but possible if the voter turnout is that good for Romney to win, it may trickle down to enough of the Senate races to give the Republicans the edge, or at least a 50-50 tie where Paul Ryan becomes the tie-breaker vote every time.
Under this scenario, everything mentioned above WILL happen, only more worse.  The Republicans will go into power under the delusion that their agenda won them control (when in fact it's going to be their fear-mongering and voter suppression efforts).  There won't be any Democrats in the Senate able to temper a full-bore tax-cut abortion-banning healthcare-killing war-hungry GOP agenda.  The Republicans will even pursue their "voter fraud" obsessions by passing tougher registration and ID laws for the whole nation (Republicans abandon states' rights within a heartbeat if it means completing their wingnut agenda).  It would be much like what we had between 2001 to 2006, only abortion WILL be on the table and most likely banned entirely, along with birth control.  We'll be Ireland, without the advantages of having England nearby for a gray market means of access (Canada, maybe, but most of our liberal states already border our cousins to the north eh?  It'll be the Red States down south - ironically where birth control and women's health are needed the most - that will suffer...). 

Obama wins the Presidency, Republicans retain the House, Republicans win narrow control of the Senate.

This is a very unlikely scenario under the Obama Wins multiverse branches.  While an Obama win is the statistical likelihood and the Republicans keeping the House also a statistical likelihood... as I mentioned earlier most of the Senate races seem set with only two possible up-for-grab seats at play, meaning the Democrats at least keep an advantage (as the Independents in the Senate caucus with the Dems).
But if the Republicans DO gain control of the Senate...
Just remember the level of obstruction the Republicans were able to perform with just the House under their control during the 112th Congress.  Combined with their Senate colleagues invoking cloture votes at twice the previous record total, and almost nothing got done.  Under this scenario of winning the Senate, the Republicans will hold Congress entirely under their control... and this will be a Senate that most likely includes the aforementioned moran Todd Akin.  Prepare for political war.
The Republican agenda of obstructing Obama at all costs will not abate under the general public expectations for bipartisan work.  Remember, the Far Right concept of bipartisanship is that "Democrats fold to us on everything".  They are going to want to force Obama to play their game their way, pushing for their tax cuts and spending cuts at the same time.  Refusing to fill any if all executive and judicial nominations that the government needs filled to operate effectively.  The push to investigate the Obama administration for every slight, every error, every possibility of an offense they can use as an excuse to impeach... I am not making this up.  We've seen this before during the Clinton administration, where they started off investigating Clinton's land deals and ended up impeaching him for lying about blow jobs.  Any excuse to impeach...
The only reason why the Republicans never followed through on their attempts to impeach Obama (and yes, they have filed such attempts for example over Obama's use of force in Libya without Congressional approval even though previous Presidents used such levels of force without so much as a hiccup from Congress...) during this congressional term is the obvious fact that an actual crime has to be found for the general public to even pretend it's needed, and it didn't help that a Democratic Senate would never follow through.  But with a Senate that will at least present an impeachment proceeding on the floor (even though the Republicans will NEVER get a 2/3rd majority needed to successfully impeach), the Congressional Republicans can use the impeachment proceedings to weaken, de-legitimatize, and embarrass Obama before the world and for history.  And they can do that over and over to their hearts content for at least 2 years while nothing else gets done.

Obama wins the Presidency, Republicans retain control of the House, Democrats retain control of the Senate.

Under the Obama Wins scenarios this is the most likely result.  This is how the stats and numbers are looking at the moment for the polling experts (pretty much Nate Silver).  It will pretty much be a status quo result bringing us back to what we've had the last two years.
And even then, this isn't a good scenario because the Republican agenda of obstructing Obama will not abate.
Whether this Congressional term (113th) gets anything done will depend on the Democratic leadership in the Senate (Harry Reid) agreeing to do what most of the Democratic base begged the Senate to do back in 2011: drop the cloture vote to a simple majority or even get rid of the filibuster rule altogether.  While the Republicans will scream bloody murder, the filibuster is NOT a requirement for the Senate to operate.  It's only been part of the parliamentary order voted on at the beginning of each term, and can always be voted out.  While there may be a need for a filibuster, its' abuse over the last 20 years have made it impossible to get much of anything done, and especially hampered our Judiciary by failing to fill posts, forcing fewer judges to handle greater caseloads.  If anything, dropping the Cloture requirement from a 60-vote to a simple majority will make it harder for the Republicans to even threaten a filibuster: they can still try, but all that will do is make for partisan theater.  With that done, the nomination processes should be smoother and more government positions filled.
The only problem then will be dealing with a Republican House standing as the "last bastion" against an Obama-dominated regime.  If it was a job herding cats before, this will be like working as an alligator teeth puller operating without pliers and standing waist-deep in a swamp.  The fight to get anything resembling a budget will be close to impossible without the wingnut faction in the House getting everything they want (which in a sane world won't happen).  Obama may yet want to finish out a second term where SOMETHING got done for job growth and economic stimulus, but the House will fight that every inch of the way.  And some legislation HAS to start in the House, not the Senate.  Meaning something approaching compromise has to be done... and Lord knows what Obama may have to give up in order to get a jobs bill passed...

Obama wins the Presidency, Democrats gain control of the House, Democrats retain control of the Senate.

If this election was a complete blowout for Obama, this might be plausible.  If the voter turnout among Democrats and moderates voting that way really did reach the levels required to win over enough House districts to reclaim the House after two years, this might be plausible.  But let's face facts: enough gerrymandered districts still exist in enough states to ensure enough Republican incumbents will stay, and in some redrawn districts the Republicans could gain a few more.  It's possible that in the process of gerrymandering, the Republicans spread themselves too thin to where enough Democrats and independent voters can sway the turnout their way (much like what happened in Texas when they made a ton of Republican-friendly districts but at a +1 or +2 advantage, very narrow odds of success there, and ended up losing an incumbent or two while the Dems cruised to +10 friendly districts).  But unlikely.
There's a 240 R - 190 D count at the moment.  For the Democrats to regain the House, they need to flip 26 of those seats, plus 3 of the current vacancies, to reach 219 seats over the Republicans' 218.  Historically, that percentage of flipped seats (five percent) has been hard to reach, especially in an era when entrenched Congressional incumbents have a 98 percent success rate (it'd be 99 percent, but there's that margin for error to consider).
But under the What If rules, this IS possible, so it needs consideration.
There will be a brief period of Democratic jubilation and relief.  The most likely opening moves would be to get a budget out that covers most of what Obama pledged: a tax hike on only the upper incomes (those in the 2 percent bracket) as well as a stimulus package combining job bills alongside spending programs on infrastructure to boost the construction industry.
The biggest struggles Obama had his first term during the 111th Congress where he had both Houses was due to the Senate blocking him with Cloture and Secret Holds (it didn't help that there were enough conservative Democrats to force Obama to wrangle out deals he otherwise didn't need to make).  As mentioned before in another scenario, if Reid follows through in dropping the Cloture requirement to simple majority it should free up that particular logjam.
The biggest problem will be legitimacy.  The current Republican leadership - Limbaugh, Norquist, Fox Not-News talking heads - have proven before to be sore losers.  No matter what for an Obama win, the cries of "voter fraud" and the Birther effort to deny Obama his own citizenship will merge into a huge hatefest that will be worse than we've already seen.  And what we've already been through since 2009 has been scary enough.  But under this scenario, where even the safety of retaining the House of Representatives doesn't happen, the screams WILL get worse, the agenda to obstruct WILL go into areas of madness that could border on open revolt...  The telling sign will be what the lame-duck session of the 112th House will do: if they lost the House with Obama winning, expect them impeaching Obama as first order of business.
No matter what, folks, do not expect the noise to die off after November 6th.  It's not over until common sense prevails...

These are the scenarios as I see 'em.  Still and all, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET THE VOTE OUT AND VOTE OBAMA.  Thank you.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Romney's Ever Fixed Mark

Dr. McCoy - I'd give real money if he'd shut up...
- Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country

It's not enough to point how just how often and how severe that Mitt Romney changes his story, changes his opinion, changes his political stance: how he, in fact, LIES on nearly every issue.

It's not enough to pile on to the observation of how Romney's currently best-known nickname got to be "Mr. Etch-A-Sketch".

It needs to be pointed out as often as possible how Mitt Romney is the LEAST-LIKED Presidential candidate in AGES, but that's not the point of this blog entry here.

The point of this article is to focus on what Mitt Romney REALLY WANTS if he becomes President.  It's kind of hard to do when he's got this well-deserved reputation for flip-flopping and pandering in such a way it's made other panderers - both Clintons come to mind - look like sagacious pillars of consistency.  But beneath all the bluster, behind all the constant "re-inventing" and "re-branding", at the base of EVERYTHING on Mitt's clouded and passed-over agenda (the one where he keeps saying "Trust me" as though that's always a good-enough answer): there is one consistent item on the agenda Mitt has NEVER renounced and ALWAYS persisted.

A massive tax cut.

Everything else on the table - abortion, foreign policy, Medicare/Medicaid and health care reform in general, education costs, energy needs - Romney has flipped on at least once this year.

But the tax cut plan, despite the occasional "tweaks" to how it's presented, has pretty much remained the same.  And it's remained the core element of Romney's economic package, as though the massive tax cut will solve all woes, create all jobs, save all mankind.

Even though a majority of Americans ought to f-cking know better by now.  Considering we've had a Republican President pass a massive tax cut plan roughly 11 years ago, and we've had all this time to see what the results have been (first chart from Ezra Klein, second chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) :

The Tax Rate of the cuts for upper income clearly get bigger, doubling and tripling in size for the top three brackets.  What does this say about the tax burden for upper income Americans?  How regressive have these Bush tax cuts really been?

Note how most of the deficit causes shrink eventually: The Bush Tax Cuts NEVER SHRINK AND IN FACT GET BIGGER

And consider this: Romney wants his tax cut plan to go DEEPER than the Bush tax cuts ever went.  He's asking for a $5 TRILLION cut, ostensibly across the board except for the fact that he's scaling it more for upper income over middle-and-lower incomes.  Because hidden in his tax proposal, Mitt wants to kill off the Alternative Minimum Tax and the Earned Income Tax Credit (both of which benefit middle and lower class taxpayers).  Check this chart (from Klein's guest-blogger Dylan Matthews):

Everyone under $25,000 income has to pay MORE taxes by 1 to 2 percent, while the jump from $147,000 to $150,000 income from a 2 percent cut straight up to a 6 percent cut.
This is what Mitt Romney wants.  This is his obsession, his passion, his ever-fixed mark.  Everything else on his platform changes from day-to-day like the Etch A Sketch candidate he is.  He wants this massive tax cut.

Even though FOR THE LOVE OF GOD we have all seen that tax cuts - especially cuts that are NOT PAID FOR by targeted spending cuts to balance it out - DO NOT WORK.  Even though we've got economic experts - from the usual suspects like Krugman to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center to serious fiscal Republicans like David Frum - screaming how Romney's tax plan is IMPOSSIBLE.  Romney is insisting on this tax cut plan, claiming it will "create jobs," "create growth," "fix government."

Tax cuts are not job creators : direct investment into business expansion and start-ups are.  Tax cuts do not stimulate the economy.  Tax cuts do not help curb spending: not only did spending get out of control during the GOP-led Bush era by so-called fiscal conservatives, but even hardcore fiscal conservative Ben Stein is now noting that at the current tax rates - "they're too low" - there aren't enough spending cuts to flatten out the deficit.

And Romney wants to make the tax rates LOWER.  No matter the excuse or justification.  He just does.

This alone should be disqualifying Mitt Romney from even being a Presidential candidate, for God's sake.  But he's up there on the ballot, and GOD HELP US the polls are getting too close for comfort.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Failures of Barack Obama

This has been coming up as a talking point for the wingnuts in the social media: that President Obama is a failure; that his policies are failing; that he's an embarrassment to our foreign allies, etc.

Here's a post this morning from a colleague of mine from TNC's Lost Battalion Horde, Geoffrey:

Random right winger I have been jawing with for a week.

I know, listen to the ProTips.

"Anyone supporting Obama is doing so because of ignorance or pure ideology. By any rational measure he has simply been a terrible president. The economy is terrible, the country is more divided than ever, and our foreign policy is in shambles."

This has been floating out there for awhile, and it angers me up every time I see it, because it's clear the person writing this has not really paid attention to what's really going on.  The willful ignorance, it burns...

So here, for all the Fox Not-News viewers who need a boot to the head to let them know just exactly what's going on in the Real World, I present to you the Failures of Barack Obama.

  • Obama failed to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.  Oh, wait...
  • Obama failed to save the auto industry.  Except that he pushed for the policies that did stave off bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler and kept linking industries such as the parts-makers dependent on the automakers going, essentially re-starting the entire automobile market and presiding long enough for both GM and Chrysler to pay back their loans.
  • Obama failed to end military operations in Iraq.  Except that Obama upheld the existing treaty we had with the Iraqi government to exit all combat troops in 2010, to where our small presence in that war-stricken nation is for ongoing rebuilding efforts (the least we could do considering we invaded in 2003 under false excuses by the liars in Cheney's office).
  • Obama failed to bring harmonious relations back among our major allies - especially our allies in NATO such as England, France and Germany - after the foreign relations miscues of the Bush the Lesser administration.  Just don't pay attention to the fact that Obama gets thousands if not millions to turn out at rallies when he goes overseas, that our political allies in Europe and Asia work well with Obama, that a majority of our allied nations would like to see Obama get re-elected... and that our allies and their citizenry are kinda horrified by the idea of a foreign policy fool like Romney getting anywhere near the White House...
  • Obama failed in Libya.  As long as you think a simple enforcement of a no-fly-zone (which is as much as our NATO allies closer to the ground would have accepted) to give the Libyan rebels breathing room to free their own nation - brothers doin' it for themselves, bro - from a violent dictator was a bad idea.
  • Obama is currently failing to act in Syria.  Considering that a THIRD invasion of a Middle Eastern Islamic nation would be a foreign policy debacle, that we don't honestly have the manpower to open another battlefront while Afghanistan is still a major military operation, that something of this scope requires our nearby allies like Turkey and other NATO nations to make direct efforts even they can't afford to make at the moment...  Expecting someone to just "bomb bomb bomb" everything and call it a win is not sensible foreign policy.
  • Obama is failing to stop Iran's nuclear program or overthrow it's brutal theocratic regime.  Except that Obama's economic sanctions are kinda working to where the Iranian economy is in worse shape than Greece's.  And again, is opening a THIRD invasion of a Middle Eastern a good idea?  Because simply bombing Iranian sites will most likely escalate into a ground war...
  • Obama failed to create jobs.  Considering every jobs bill proposal he brought to Congress was shot down by obstructionist Republican congressional leaders, then yeah it's totally Obama's fault for sticking to the system of checks and balances in the Constitution requiring such bills be left to the Legislative Branch.
  • Specifically, Obama's unemployment numbers during his first term NEVER got under 8 percent, the fiend.  Except that recent numbers adjustments for September 2012's reports found the official unemployment rate - the same rate George W. Bush went by - dropped to 7.8 percent.  As long as we also don't overlook that Obama's tenure saw consistent and large-enough private sector job growth that recouped all the jobs lost under Bush the Lesser's tenure, and as long as we don't note the fact that the public sector job losses - thanks to Republican-led efforts to cut back on social services and government offices - is keeping our unemployment rate an extra 1 percent higher than it would be...
  • Obama failed to fix our broken health care system.  Simply by getting passed in the 111th Congressional Session a major health care overhaul called ObamaCare that is based on REPUBLICAN reform proposals of the 1990s.  An ObamaCare package that for the most part stood up to Supreme Court scrutiny and is already showing positive effects on our nation's health care coverage.
  • Obama failed on gay rights.  Which is a shame because repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell has proven one year later after Obama's efforts that having Gays in the military does not harm morale or service one whit, and it was a real shame when Obama spoke out this May that he now supports gay marriage because it showed how pro-people he is...
  • Obama failed to do much of anything for women's rights.  Except pass the Lily Ledbetter Act enforcing equal pay in the workplace, promoting two women to the Supreme Court making that august body more reflective of the gender population of our nation, stood in defense of Planned Parenthood when the House Republicans sought to nuke it, argued for affordable access to birth control, and openly spoke about how "women are not an interest group: they're half the country and its workforce."
  • Obama failed to make the 2011-2012 Congress do much of anything, which led to the 112th Congressional Session to be the WORST EVER CONGRESSExcept it's not the President's job to make Congress work: it's the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader's job.  And there's not much Majority Leader Harry Reid could do with a cloture/filibuster system being abused like Punch-and-Judy dolls by obstructionist Republican Senators (Cloture motions have DOUBLED since Obama took office).  Here's a graph by the way of the number of bills passed by the 112th.  Every other Congress since 1947 passed at least 300 bills: the 112th Congress never even came close.

So you see, that's a lot of Failures on Obama's part.  As long as that's how you ignorant morans define Failure, you think?

What I said in the comments to Geoffrey's post:

By any rational measure we would recognize that our allies respect us more with Obama than during the Dubya regime: by any rational measure we would be celebrating Obama's decision to bring Bin Laden to justice the way millions of Americans wanted since even before 9/11: by any rational measure we would be celebrating our ending a military occupation of Iraq as a success: by any rational measure we would note that the economic woes are due to a Congress that is literally THE WORST EVER, failing to consider even ONE JOBS BILL even one that would help get veterans of our current wars off unemployment: by any rational measure we would recognize the country's divisiveness is due to unelected blowhards like Limbaugh, Beck, and the Birthers whose rage against Obama is based purely on emotion and willful ignorance. If Obama is a failure, then by GOD let us fail with him for FOUR MORE YEARS. 


All comments welcome as long as you can use curse words as effective as BRIAN BLESSED.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Florida Ballot Amendments 2012: The Big No

Welcome back to yet another installment - it's 2012 last I checked the calendar - of "We're Voting For WHAT This November?"

You might notice at the title of this blog entry that the subtitle is "The Big No".  That's because, up front, I wanna say that all eleven proposed amendments (minus an 12th that got kicked off the ballot by the state Supreme Court) on the Florida ballot this election are ones pushed by Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott and his GOP brethren in the state legislature.  They're known as "Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendments" as different from advocacy-based ones (called "Initiated Constitutional Amendments"), just so you know.

All of these proposed amendments are what the wingnut-led Republican legislature and fraudster governor want.  If they want them, WE NEED TO SAY NO TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM.  Very simple this year.  JUST SAY NO to the 2012 state amendments. 

That said, here they are (link to Ballotpedia which provides the references):

Amendment One: Health Care Amendment

This is the same one that was meant to be Amendment Nine back in 2010, but got kicked by the courts for being poorly worded and confusing.  This time they brought it back, but the intent is the same: the GOP are trying to nullify the ObamaCare requirements to mandate that people and/or businesses to purchase some form of health care insurance as a means of reducing overall health care costs.  Which is something even the United States Supreme Court upheld this summer.  Trying to put this into the state constitution is useless: the Supremacy Clause would immediate cancel this.  This is more a publicity stunt, and worse yet an attempt to bring back nullification (John C. Calhoun continues to rot in the deepest pit of Hell for this, among other sins) as a political issue.  As said before, VOTE NO.

Amendment Two: Veterans Property Tax

This is similar to a tax-break amendment offered up in 2010, but whereas that law was for veterans who were residents of Florida when they served this one covers all disabled veterans currently living here regardless if they were citizens of other states during their military careers.
This is arguably a sensible bill: it's a benefit for veterans who served this nation, and especially for those disabled and needing less taxes to burden them.  Unfortunately, this doesn't really benefit a whole of people at the moment, the amendment is being offered at a time where every county is struggling to generate enough tax revenue to pay for ANYTHING, and this is yet another bill being offered by Scott and the wingnut crowd meaning there is something rotten in here somewhere, I know it.  As said before, VOTE NO.

Amendment Three: State Revenue Limitation Changes

This amendment is designed to change the current method of capping state revenues: instead of capping based on personal income growth, this will cap it based on inflation and population changes.  Excess revenues will remain being placed in the "rainy day fund" until it reaches its excess at which point the state uses that money to spend on projects and/or reduce tax rates.
This is based on something called TABOR or "TAxpayer Bill Of Rights": a movement at the state level to change how states garner their tax revenues.  It's telling to note that 20 other states rejected this TABOR amendment: the one state that did - Colorado in 1992 - still had to revise this amendment later in order to pay for education needs by 2001 and had another ballot resolution in 2005 relaxing the harsher TABOR restrictions.  In short, it doesn't work very well.  And again, as the wingnut legislature is keen on this ballot, this reeks.  As said before, VOTE NO.

Amendment Four: Property Tax Caps

The proposed amendment would prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead property if the fair market value of the property decreases; reduces the limitation on annual assessment increases to non-homestead property; and provides an additional homestead exemption of up to 50 percent of the home's median value to first-time home buyers.  It caps commercial and non-homestead (that is, second or more homes owned by a person/family, not the primary residence) tax appraisal rates at 5 percent a year.
The first part - prohibiting tax increases in assessed value if the fair market value decreases - makes sense: the rest of this ballot is inexcusable.  This is basically an attempt to kill the counties' abilities to raise any revenue at all through property taxes: the Far Right obsession against taxes is getting to the point where honest government services - schools, road repairs, public safety, etc - are going to suffer HARD.  Estimates are that the tax base will get eroded by $1 BILLION over three years.  Considering the state is suffering through a recession, this is the WORST TIME to be cutting off public revenues at all.
Of the ballot amendments on this list, this one clearly and most decisively needs to be VOTE NO.

Amendment Five: Breaking the State Courts

The ballot has an official title, but the one I've given it is more accurate.
This ballot adds to the current system of how State Supreme Court Justices are picked - the governor fills a vacancy based on a recommendations list by an independent judiciary nominations/qualifications board, and the voters later vote to retain or remove, more on that below by the by - by having the Senate vote on confirmation beforehand.  This brings this more into line with how the United States Supreme Court gets filled, but it brings to it the risk of making judicial selections more partisan.  Also, this ballot would change how the courts rules can be overruled by the state legislature.  It would also drop the two-thirds majority vote requirement to a simple majority vote in the legislature to override a judicial ruling.  This ballot also grants the State House Speaker full access to all information from the currently-independent judiciary nominating committee to determine if a judge could be impeached even before that potential judge gets placed on the bench: basically, it allows the state legislature a means of intimidating anyone up for a judicial opening beforehand.
And this also would create TWO separate state Supreme Courts - one for Civil Appeals, one for Criminal Appeals (to my knowledge, no other state has separate high courts like this).  If it happens right now under the current political landscape, this would give Rick "I Mock Your Civil Action" Scott incredible power to nominate a whole slate of vacancies that could tilt both proposed Courts into partisan waters.
In short: this amendment kills the independent, balancing nature of the state's judicial system.  The entire concept of "checks and balances" between government and the courts will be crushed.  Nothing - outside of the federal government and federal courts - will keep the corrupted nature of the state legislature in check.
The state Chamber of Commerce supports this - mostly because it would give them a Civil Court packed with Scott's pro-business buddies.  A good number of state judges, plus the Florida Bar of lawyers, oppose this ballot: I honestly do not recall the last time our judges ever spoke out on any ballot before an election.  That should really tell us how wrong - how partisan - this ballot is.  VOTE NO

Amendment Six: Abortion

This proposed ballot would prohibit the use of public funds - except for federal funds, which are hard to come by in the first place - for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother's life.  Notice, no exceptions for victims of rape/incest.
This is basically making Florida one of the hardest states for women to be able to make their own medical health AND their own moral decisions. 
The wingnuts are all for this, even though this will make things WORSE for women who have legitimate needs - especially in cases of rape/incest - to get an abortion.  For the Love of a Benevolent and Tolerant God Who Respects A Woman's Right To Choose, VOTE NO.

Amendment Seven: Got booted.  However, thanks to a wrinkle in the law, the state Attorney General could rewrite this proposal and resubmit it once it fills the court's legal requirements, so it came back as Amendment Eight.  See next.

Amendment Eight: Religious B-llshit Amendment

Yes, once again I rewrote the ballot's title in order to make it more accurate.  There is nothing about "Religious Freedom" in this thing.  It's about giving religious groups greater access to public funding, in violation of the basic tenets of the Separation of Church and State.  (It's not about Freedom: It's about Teh MONEY)
The ballot says: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support, except as required by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.  What it means is that churches, religiously-based private schools, and/or religiously-run programs can get state money without ensuring that those programs remain secular in nature.
Proponents argue that they need to remove the current restrictions in order to allow church-led social programs more funding to help others.  Opponents point out this will open the floodgates to allowing religious groups unfettered access to public money, and pave the way to yet another push for the Far Right's "school voucher" agenda that would waste education funding on private schools at the expense of public schools.  Considering that churches and other religious organizations are tax-exempt thanks to the Separation of Church and State clause, this would mean those religious group will not have to put any money INTO state funds and yet be able to TAKE as much money as they can petition for: that is, they get OUR money for nothing.

Amendment Nine: Tax Exemption For Surviving Spouses of Veterans/First Responders

This is slightly different than the earlier proposed ballot in that this is a FULL exemption - not a Homestead Exemption which provides a percentage - from any surviving spouse of a soldier or first responder (police, firefighter, I think also EMT) to pay ANY property taxes at all.
This doesn't sound too bad on paper: but remember again, this is coming from a state legislature and state governor obsessed with the idea of killing off EVERY means of government revenue they can think of in order to demolish the entire public sector.  Any hit to tax revenue hurts our ability to pay for those first responders in the FIRST PLACE.  Consider the source of this ballot, and yet again, VOTE NO.

Amendment Ten: Tangible Personal Property Tax

This amendment is meant to strike down the ad valorum taxes levied by local governments - county and city - on any tangible property valued between $25,000 to $50,000.
On the face of it, my biggest concern is "what the HELL gets valued at such a narrow range as $25,000 to $50,000?"  Are we talking about items like cars and yachts or something?  The very nature of this ballot - its strict limitation on anything JUST WITHIN that price range, its focus on capping local governments' ability to raise revenue - makes me think this is a very bad ballot in a list of bad ballots.

Amendment Eleven: Senior Homestead Tax Exemption

The purpose of this ballot is to provide what looks to be a full tax exemption on any senior-owned property valued less than $250,000 where the resident is over 65 and had lived at the property over 25 years, and where the resident is determined by other laws as low-income.
This is, once again, an attempt by the wingnuts to kill of the counties' abilities to raise tax revenues.  It looks nice, and it may help those seniors who are on fixed retirement-based incomes.  But it's the Far Right, wanting to kill off another means of revenue: whack this one, and they'll go whack more.  It's also not certain to affect a lot of people, as there are very few elderly people here who have resided at the same place over 25 years.  This is Florida: most of our residents are transplants.

Amendment Twelve: State Student Council Association Seating On Board of Governors

Gonna try to explain this one as easy as possible.  The current student representation on the state university system's Board of Governors is filled by the President of the Florida Student Association.  This ballot would drop this in exchange for the current Chair of the council of State University Student Bodies, which would be created by the Board of Governors for each state university.  It's basically changing who gets to sit in the big kid's seat at the grown-ups table.  There may be politics involved here: the potential Chair being more favorable to the Far Right than the current make-up of the Florida Student Association.  In the long term, this doesn't improve a thing.  VOTE NO.

There's one other thing I want to add: the state Republicans - led by Scott - are pushing to have the Supreme Court Justices up for retention voted out. Justices are nominated by the governor to fill a vacancy when one occurs, but they all undergo periodic retention vote as a means of accountability to voters: the Justices can be voted out if there are clearly abusing their authority, but more often than not voters check off the vote and move on (I've never seen a judge voted out to my knowledge, please refresh my memory if this has happened in Florida since 1988 my first voting year).  Neither party - until now, which should be telling you something - has pushed for having all Justices up for retention be voted out: this had always been a non-partisan issue.  But now, Scott and his ilk clearly want to clear out a state Court that does not buckle under to his bullying, forcing out otherwise good judges so that Scott can fill those vacancies with his lackeys and stooges who will then bring a partisan taint to a judiciary that is supposed to be above such pettiness.

With regards to the retention of Justices, for the first time ever, I encourage and IMPLORE the voters of Florida TO RETAIN all three - R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy Quince - up for vote.  If only to tell Rick "F-ck You" Scott and his buddies that they will NOT win this fight, that they will NOT corrupt our state courts with their partisan bullsh-t.

Save our State.  Vote NO on Rick Scott and his misdeeds.  And let's get ready to toss his corrupt ass out the door in 2014.

Also, it would really be swell for everyone in Florida to Stay Sane And Vote Obama.  :-)

Also wik, I once met Senator Bill Nelson en route to a Florida Gators game a few years back, and I also approve of his overall job performance (and again, Go Gators) so yeah Vote Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

Not a huge fan of the Bilirakis political machine, so definitely Vote Jonathan Snow for Congress 12th District.

As for the Pasco County Mosquito Control... well, the Mosquitoes were REALLY out of control this year, I think the whole board didn't do a thing to teach them skeeters how to behave in polite society, so shame on...  what, I'm misreading the constitutional authority of the county mosquito control?  Well, okay, that's up in the air still for me...

Did I miss anything?