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Coming in a week where we saw a 16 year old kill a policeman with a gun he bought for just $140, a political action committee is trying to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would do away with permits to bear arms in Florida.

That’s correct. No. Permit. Necessary.

From The Florida Independent:

The proposed initiative, titled “Unalienable Individual Right to Bear Arms; No Permit Required For Any Manner of Bearing Arms,” would change that wording (.pdf) so that the right to bear arms

“cannot be regulated away or infringed upon; no permit shall be required for any manner of bearing arms in Florida, only the open carry of handguns may be regulated by law. Permits may be issued by request to facilitate travel in reciprocal states and as an exemption to waiting periods.”

The amendment currently has zero valid signatures — to be placed on Florida’s 2012 ballot, it needs 676,811.

The PAC proposing the ballot initiative is one led by Richard Antolinez, of Jupiter, Florida, who is listed as the Chairperson and Treasurer. The registered Agent is listed as John Parsons.

So there you go. Just a few thousand signatures from say, NRA members and their votes are all that stand in the way of people carrying guns with absolutely no permit required. That will make it even easier to kill citizens, and even more policemen than we have lost already in recent months.

No. Permit. Required.

Feel safer Florida?

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If reports today from the St. Petersburg Times are true, Florida Gov. Rick Scott will not back down in his decision to turn down federal funding for the high-speed rail project in Florida. If he does that, he’ll be throwing away thousands of jobs, millions in money the state has already spent on the project, the will of the voters who favor the project, and decades of hard work in bringing Florida forward in what is a desperately needed new mode of transportation for its citizens.

All that Rick Scott has used to base his decision on throwing it all out the window is one study. Unlike his campaign promises, he didn’t wait for a study from the Florida Department of Transportation to make his decision. Nope. Instead he relied on a “study” from the Reason Foundation, which has ties to none other than David H. Koch.

Yes, that’s the same David H. Koch that another Governor thought he was talking to on the phone as reported yesterday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker all but showed that it is the Koch’s who are behind the Gov.’s push to crush the unions in that state.

Yes, the same Gov. Walker who Rick Scott spoke to yesterday on the phone, who Scott said was having a “tough” time right now in his maneuvers to strip away collective bargaining powers from the unions there. Scott also spoke of the upcoming meeting of the Republican Governors Association this weekend where, I’m sure, more of the strategy in what appears to be an orchestrated plan against the middle class in this country by the Republicans and their backers, like Koch Industries, will be on the agenda.

It’s becoming more clear every day that while people may have thought they were voting for Republicans who had their best interests at heart, they were really electing corporate interests who couldn’t care less about them and are pulling all the strings. Many of the Republicans in power right now clearly have no idea how to govern. But that doesn’t matter to these corporations because they don’t either. They are interested in protecting only one thing: their bottom line. That’s why those voters are being sold out. The corporate interests like Koch Industries are using their investment in Republicans in order to do away with jobs, human rights, regulations, and any number of other things.

One of their biggest “gets” was apparently Gov. Rick Scott, who told us he wanted to run Florida like a business. Those voters may have thought this meant prosperity for the state of Florida and its residents, and he’s still telling them that while he slowly chips away and sells Florida to the highest bidder. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that’s more than apparent with the rejection of high-speed rail.

But at least his corporate backers are happy, and that’s all that matters here in Florida, Inc.

Right?

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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Last Friday the Obama Administration asked U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Florida for a clarification in his recent ruling that a portion of the Affordable Care Act mandate was unconstitutional.

From Bloomberg:

The federal government, in papers filed with Vinson yesterday, asked him to clarify whether that decision relieves the suing states of their rights and obligations under the act while the U.S. pursues an appeal.

“We believe it is important to put to rest any doubts about the ability of states and other parties to continue to implement these critical programs and consumer protections provided under this statute,” Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement announcing the U.S. filing.

Florida’s newly elected Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi doesn’t like this request for a clarification by the Obama Administration at all, so much so that she is “advising” the administration to just “appeal the ruling” already. She accuses the administration of “delaying tactics” by asking for a clarification.

From The Palm Beach Post:

“Department of Justice’s motion to clarify is merely an attempt to delay the process when the order clearly required a halt to implementation,” Bondi said in a statement….

….“Our memorandum states that time is of the essence in this matter, and the Court should deny the defendants’ motion for clarification as well as their thinly disguised request for a stay,” she said. “Everyone knows this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice should join us in seeking an expedited appeals process. This issue is too important for delay, and we urge the
President to file an appeal in the appropriate appellate court, as was done in Virginia and Michigan. It is in the country’s best interest to present this case before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

Bondi certainly seems to be in a hurry to get the case to the Supreme Court, in fact she even sounds a little desperate. Of course the U.S. Supreme Court has some  justices who seem to have what appears to be some “conflict of interest” problems and it’s widely feared that those will interfere with the legal process in the health care ruling. I suppose that could be part of the reason Republicans who want to overturn the law are in a hurry to get it to the Supreme Court.

That being said, what else is Pam Bondi so afraid of? Why the rush? People’s lives are at stake here. Don’t they deserve the very clarification the Obama Administration is requesting? Because the last time I checked, Attorney Generals were elected to serve the people of the Florida. Bondi was not elected to serve those who may have a vested interest in the outcome of rulings against the Affordable Health Care Act and who supported Bondi in her campaign, like the National Federation of Independent Business.

Bondi seems less interested in legalities, and is more selective on which rulings she chooses to follow, basically only the ones that suggest the ACA is unconstitutional. Bondi was just as thrilled with Judge Vinson’s ruling as she was thrilled with all the money the NFIB was throwing into her lawsuit. Where’s the impartiality?

But again, why is Bondi in such a hurry to want the Administration to skip that clarification and just move ahead with a hastened appeal? Perhaps this ruling on Feb. 22 that got little attention in the media had something to do with it:

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has become the third federal judge to rule that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and that Congress was within its constitutional authority to regulate health insurance under the Commerce Clause.

“We welcome this ruling, which marks the third time a court has reviewed the Affordable Care Act on the merits and upheld it as constitutional. This court found — as two others have previously — that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable measure for Congress to take in reforming our health care system. At the same time, trial courts in additional cases have dismissed numerous challenges to this law on jurisdictional and other grounds. The Department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation.”

Instead of looking at this ruling, Bondi has chosen to ignore it altogether and instead doubles down in urging President Obama to just forget that whole “clarification” thing and hurry along an appeal so the case can advance quickly to the Supreme Court where Republicans have reason to think they will have a more favorable outcome against the ACA.

So I ask again: just what is Pam Bondi so afraid of?

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Gov. Rick Scott spoke by phone with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker today (if it was really Gov. Walker, of course.) but according to the Palm Beach Post, Scott didn’t reveal much about the call:

Scott earlier in the day also spoke briefly by phone with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose pension overhaul and bid to end collective bargaining for public employees has spawned days of protests and a walkout by Senate Democrats.

“I talked to him about how he’s doing, I’m sure it’s tough,” said Scott, who plans to leave Thursday this weekend’s Republican Governors Association meeting.

”He’s not going to be able to come,” Scott said of his Badger State bro.

Yeah, it’s tough for poor Gov. Walker. Imagine, taking all that money and handing it over as corporate tax cuts while teachers and other public workers won’t sit back and allow their collective bargaining rights be taken away along with their pay cuts in return. The nerve! Human rights? Pshaw. Think how tough that’s been….for Gov. Walker.

No mention of Gov. Walker’s earlier conversation with fake David Koch yesterday, specifically this part:

“I talk to Kasich every day. John’s going to stand firm in Ohio. I think we do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida. I think (Rick) Snyder, if he got a little support, could do the same thing in Michigan. I think if you go down the list, a lot of us new governors got elected to something big. “

Something big. Like say, destroying the middle class big? If so then, yes, we’ve noticed that. It seems to be a pattern. Too bad it isn’t working out the way they’d planned. People are funny when you strip away their livelihood and their rights. Who knew it would turn out this way?

The other thing in that phone call that was revealed was the mention of the upcoming long weekend at the Republican Governor’s Association meeting. Too bad poor Gov. Walker won’t be able to make it, as Gov. Scott lamented. After all, he’ll miss the next part of the plot when the Governors double down on their next plan of attack. Although, it’s not like the old days. We have technology now that will allow Gov. Walker to be there without really being there. Perhaps they can do a conference call or something. Think Gov. Walker will be up for that? OK, maybe if they use a secret password? Let me think.

Oh here’s one: “Sucker.”

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It was on his official schedule last night, but today it’s apparently been deleted from his website. Gov. Rick Scott will reportedly be chatting it up with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker today on the phone from 5:15 – 5:45 p.m. (Gosh, I wonder if either of them will try to verify that they’re actually talking to the “real” Gov. first? That might be a wise idea.) Gosh, I wonder what they’ll talk about? Will one of the “real” Koch brothers be on the line with them? After all, the Koch’s do have ties to Gov. Scott and his high-speed rail sabotage plan, who knows what else they might be up to?

Yesterday Gov. Scott said this about unions and collective bargaining:

“My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine,” Scott said in an interview with Tallahassee’s WFLA FM radio station.

Sure, whatever. Of course if you know anything about Gov. Scott, you can take your chances that he means it, but I for one don’t buy it. Especially when the Florida Legislature is already working on the unions.

Sen. John Thrasher, former state GOP chairman, looks like he has filed a bill (SB830) to starve unions like the Florida Education Association, SEIU, AFL-CIO, firefighters, police unions or AFSCME by banning the Democratic-leaning organizations from using salary deductions for political purposes. The legislation also says any “public employer may not deduct or collect” union dues, etc. Lastly, it says that any public employee who didn’t specifically authorize the use of his money could be entitled to a partial refund.

The bill doesn’t seem to go as far as Wisconsin’s by ending collective bargaining rights in Florida, though in a right-to-work state there’s only so much union bargaining that can take place. Still, the language about union dues sure looks like it’s right out of the playbook of the tea party and Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (who incidentally is not a high-speed rail fan, either).

Gov. Walker said this about high-speed rail funds in his state last Nov.:

Governor-Elect Scott Walker today released the following statement on high-speed rail:

“Since learning about the state’s agreement with the federal government we have been exploring all legal options to stop the train from moving forward, and we believe this is a step in the right direction.  We are continuing to work with members of congress on redirecting this money to fixing our crumbling roads and bridges.”

Why, that sounds distinctly familiar. That’s kind of what Gov. Scott was expecting to do. But he can’t, because the money must be used toward the high-speed rail project, or it goes elsewhere, and there’s a lot of other states with their hands out just waiting. Scott has until Friday to make a decision.

Meanwhile, back in Tallahassee, now “nationally famous so-called fiscal hero” (we know he is because the media tells us so!) Marco Rubio, the former Tea Party darling, turned U.S. Senator who now shuns Tea Bagger voters who put him in office (but not the Tea Party corporate funders of course), came back to Florida yesterday to talk money with the Florida House. He reportedly spoke with no notes, and no teleprompter, but he really didn’t need to since that speech is burned into his memory. He gives the same one all the time. All he needs is someone to pull his string and he’s off!

“The math is straightforward. The federal government this year, in order to operate, will have to borrow one-and-a-half trillion dollars. – trillion dollars,” Rubio said. “Medicare and Social Security as they currently are structured, is unsustainable,” he said to applause. “They will bankrupt themselves and ultimately bankrupt our country.”

But despite his calls for bipartisan solutions, Rubio gave no specifics and offered standard party-line fare to reduce spending and not raise taxes.

“Apart from all the ideological rhetoric,” he said, “an increase in taxes will destroy the ability of our economy to grow, which will mean less revenue to government. It’s a vicious cycle. They’re starting to doubt about our ability to pay our debt back”

Of course, he gives no specific ideas, but then he never does.

“What I fear most of all is that we have a political process in Washington that is frozen,” he said. “The White House knows this. The congressional leadership knows this. But no one wants to go first because they don’t want to get beaten up about it….

“If we don’t figure this out, none of these politics and elections are going to matter anyway because this country will decline so rapidly that you won’t even recognize it by 20 or 30 years. It’s not going to be a third world country. But it’s not going to be exceptional or unique. Our decline is not inevitable.”

You don’t have to be psychic to see why he was giving this speech, or where he was going with it, but chances are Social Security and Medicare are on Rubio’s mind as well as on the table, but Rubio doesn’t want to “go there first” anymore than he claims other political “chickens” do either, so he didn’t say the words. Wink, wink.
Also from the same article was this:
Prior to his speech, Rubio met privately with Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, all of whom are Republicans. Rubio said he discussed Panamanian and Colombian free-trade issues with Scott and discussed Bondi’s efforts to fight so-called “fake cocaine” sold under the guise as bath salts.
How very secretive of them. Gosh, do you suppose they talked about unions too, along with talking points dolled out by the Koch brothers, and some on health care from the National Federation Of Independent Business, the lobbying group helping to foot the bill for Florida AG Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, AND who gave generously to Bondi’s campaign as well last year and endorsed her?

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told a state House committee this month that most of the rest is being covered by the National Federation of Independent Business, a group that opposes the law because of what it considers unconstitutional costs and regulations on firms and people.

“They have dedicated a tremendous amount of resources to the lawsuit,” Bondi said Feb. 10. “We’re thrilled, because that’s saving our state money. That’s saving the 25 other states money as well.”

Did they discuss these issues along with other ways to bleed Floridians in addition to Gov. Scott’s already draconian budget plans? Maybe they did discuss such things, maybe not. But we’ll never know, because they’ve taken up Gov. Scott’s habit of meeting secretly with only Republicans. The rest of us are just not privy to their plans until it’s too late.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall during this afternoon’s phone call between Gov. Scott Walker and Rick Scott. If they’re really who they say they are.
Hello?……Hello?

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Rick Scott seemed to think he was running against President Obama rather than Alex Sink in his run for Governor last year, and he still manages to work in his criticism of the President’s policies every chance he gets. Just yesterday it was “ObamaRail” and the “ObamaTrain” that he rejected when he threw Floridians, $2.4 billion dollars and 23,000 jobs under the train bus.

He also has a great deal of interest in repealing the Affordable Care Act, and recently said he would be spending a lot of time in Washington. For what reason? Well, he said it was to make sure Florida gets its fair share.” But wouldn’t the money for the high-speed rail project qualify as “getting our fair share?” Wouldn’t the project also create a few of those “700,000” jobs Scott promised to Floridians before they voted? Sure it would. But Scott just trashed a nice chunk of our “fair share.” His reasoning is reckless spending and all the other nonsense talking points he and many of the Republicans in the state who now despise him along with the rest of us use all the time.

Maybe there’s a reason he doesn’t really seem to give a flying fig about Florida. Maybe his ego is so overblown that he has bigger ambitions. Maybe he’s just using Florida and his policies to prove himself to the Tea Baggers he spends all of his time with.

Maybe it seems like he’s still running against President Obama, because he actually plans to run against Obama in 2012. The thought has occurred to me before, but it just seemed crazy and so ridiculously far-fetched. Of course Scott seems to thrive on failed, far-fetched ideas and he does seem to have a rather large ego. I guess now see I’m not the only one who noticed it.

But hey, it’s not like we haven’t had failed Governors as national candidates before. It also wouldn’t be the first time an elected official tried to convince the country he was not what he “appeared” to be:

“I am not a crook!”

If so, well, good luck with that!

 

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Derailed

I always thought that Rick Scott would manage to destroy Florida by the end of his term, but I was wrong. At the rate he’s going he’ll destroy it LONG before then.

In just under two months Scott has taken command of a state with Titanic potential, and actively sought out an iceberg to steer it into. Much like the Titanic, yesterday he hit the big one. Unlike Scott, at least the ship builders Harland and Wolff had a vision to try to build a bold new mode of transportation. But Rick Scott? His only vision at this point appears to be seeking revenge against the nation’s first black President (or as Scott refers to them, one of “those people.”) who dared to tackle another industry in dire need of reform: health care. We all know about Rick Scott’s experience with that, where he left behind the company he owned and ran to make the history books in the subject of Medicare fraud. Perhaps his eyes are on a bigger prize now as a one man death panel who steers patients to private clinics, like his current company, Solantic. But that’s an issue for another day.

Rick Scott managed to get elected somehow, in spite of his past business background. Perhaps people in Florida were so desperate or naive that they actually bought what he was selling. I would imagine that even his die-hard supporters have a touch of voters remorse. The GOP certainly has buyers remorse after groveling at Scott’s feet when he defeated their preferred candidate, Bill McCollum. He not only flipped off voters, maybe a couple corporate donors, and his own party, he even seems confused about his own policies with yesterday’s rejection of high-speed rail. That decision has left many scratching their heads, and may have just convinced even the former doubters that he has become the Master Of Disaster for Florida. The only groups he seems to have catered to is that small minority of ignorant Tea Partiers who probably have trouble balancing their own bank accounts and think that fairies, not taxes, fill the potholes that are big enough for them to drive their pickup trucks through. (They’ll figure it out soon enough when the next hurricane comes along and they’re forced to rely on the former disaster management crew from Wal-Mart. But again, another issue for another day.)

The other group that’s happy about Scott’s decision? Why that would be a libertarian “think tank,” the Reason Foundation, which wrote the so-called report Scott relied on to base his decision on rather than an upcoming study from the Florida Department of Transportation he claimed to be waiting for. Counted among the he Reason Foundation’s Board of Trustees is none other than David H. Koch, of Koch Industries, and yes, one more rather large can of worms.

For someone who claims to be an outsider, well, sort of. He’s an outsider to reality. He wants to run Florida like a business? Sure, a bad one, but then look at his track record. His campaign promises? Well, you’re a sucker if you believed them.

The high-speed rail project was a good business decision that was a sorely needed “gift” to Florida, where traffic and gridlock have been a growing problem for decades. I can vouch for at least the last 30 years, but ask those who have dealt with it even longer. Of course for someone who travels by private jet as Scott does, that’s hardly a problem for him. As for the rest of us, well we can just keep on sucking exhaust fumes while we sit in traffic and spend hours moving through parking lots like I4 where it takes a large chunk out of your day to travel to a place that should only take an hour or two. Mind you, this is Florida, not the New York area or even California. We’re talking say  Tampa to Orlando.

The “gift” Florida got from the high-speed rail project brought us $2.4 billion in federal funds. The project would have created more than 23,000 jobs, some of which have already begun, where we have a 20 percent unemployment rate. Private businesses were lining up for bids on the project, bids that will never materialize if Scott gets his way. However, since the gift came from President Obama, well, Florida will just have to go without all that, even though Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs (never mind the 8700 jobs that he cut last week) and he claimed Florida would become a major attraction to the private sector and therefore prosperity for every resident. Not only has Scott doomed high-speed rail, we’re probably doomed form any other companies and jobs that may have come to Florida. People who actually know how to run a business, unlike Gov. Dictator, would probably view Florida as a really bad risk for investment as long as the Governor is a fickle operator who could pull the plug at any given moment as he did with the rail project. Of course, that’s over and above the problem of trusting a man whose first company became a textbook case on Medicare fraud.

Two days ago Scott went on (what else?) FOX-GOP-TV to proclaim “I know what needs to happen in Florida,” and “I know what our citizens need.” He was talking about one of his other “projects,” Medicaid and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also blasted the “evil demon” stimulus bill, which he claims will cause dependency. (Today Scoot meets with BP claims czar Ken Feinberg over the problems of oil spill claims. Perhaps he’ll tell Feinberg  to withhold claims altogether so those whose businesses were hurt by the oil gusher don’t become too dependent on any relief?)

Does Scott “know what Florida needs? No. In fact he has proven he has absolutely no clue. While he turned down that $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, he said that he “believes Florida is better served by investments in ports, highways and other infrastructure to create long-term jobs.” What the clueless Governor fails to grasp is the not so little detail of how that $2.4 billion can be spent. One might ask Scott what part of the words “high-speed rail funds” he doesn’t understand, because the concept seems to have him stumped.

If the money isn’t used for high-speed rail as intended, Florida loses that money. In fact if Scott had bothered to study up on it, he would know that we got some of those funds because another clueless Governor turned them down as well. No, Scott may think he can use those funds any way he wants, perhaps even on himself or maybe use it for his wife’s Governor’s mansion redecorating fund for all we know. That money will now go elsewhere if Scott doesn’t change his mind. There’s a reason why, barely minutes after the news of Scott’s stupidity broke, states like California and New York were already scrambling for the funds as if billions of dollars had just descended from the heavens at their feet. High-speed rail is popular and a good thing. What happened to the Governor who recently said “he would be spending a great deal of time in Washington making sure Florida gets its fair share?” So far he’s taken our fair share and thrown it back in President Obama’s face.

As I write, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and yes, even Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica, who Scott managed to flip off as well yesterday are scrambling to do damage control with an end run around the decision.

There’s even talk of recall. Yesterday Representative Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) filed legislation to permit the recall of state officials. You can read and track those bills: HJR785 here, and HB787 here. The bills may offer a glimmer of hope, considering the disastrous first couple of months of Scott’s “Dictator-like” rule where he operates away from the press but in front of Tea Baggers, the only choir he preaches to.

Scott is Mr. Fiscal when it comes to the serious needs of the homeless, the elderly, the mentally ill. State workers, the unemployed, teachers, students, veterans, and countless others I’ve not listed here will get no relief from Scott. When it comes to these things, he wants to cut, cut, cut. When it comes to lavish Inaugural festivities made possible with hefty donations from private businesses of course, well that’s another story. I’m sure there’s more than a donor or two who now wish they had that money back. But they’ll just have to get in line with the rest of us.

In just a few short weeks Scott has managed to turn the words “all aboard” into derailed plans for prosperity in the future, and he’s just getting warmed up. He’s moving on to several new icebergs, and if things don’t change pretty soon, we’ll all be going down with the ship.

Because uprooting and moving out-of-state is an unacceptable and pretty drastic alternative as a life-raft, for those who can still afford one.

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