As we head off to join family and friends this holiday to give thanks for all that we have, we also owe thanks to Republicans and their policies. Because of them, there are a lot more of those who will have less this Thanksgiving. The poor are rarely acknowledged, the middle class is gone, and chances are the next to go will be the "upper" middle class, because the one thing the GOP refuses to give up are little or no taxes for the rich. They can whine and complain about government spending and entitlements all they want, but those are merely empty words and they know it. More and more of us have to pay the price to keep the richest among us (including the millionaires in the House and the Senate) in the manner to which they've become accustomed. Instead, they expect everyday Americans to give up a living wage, health care, and safety nets, while the country and its infrastructure deteriorates.
You would think that in a state like Florida, it would only be natural to take advantage of solar energy, and yet, larglely, we don't. Aside from solar panels for some homeowners (yours truly included) and for the occasional traffic signal, Florida relies instead on coal plants, and nuclear plants, which we pay for dearly, especially for those which will never be built, thanks to our lawmakers and corporate welfare.
Now a group called the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition is launching tomorrow for what could be a big change for Floridians as we move away from dirty coal to clean energy.
As much of Florida and the rest of the country is being brought to their knees under the threat of blackmail by the Republican Party because they don't like the President, his laws, nor democracy, it seems to be a bit of odd timing for this:
John Boehner, the House Speaker who can't jump in front of a camera fast enough these days to chastise President Obama to "negotiate" over that which isn't negotiable in the first place clearly doesn't understand what the word means. Negotiating implies that both sides entering into those negotiations would get something. Republicans who have forced a government shutdown are really just blackmailing the American people to give up their chance at affordable health care, or they will refuse to do their job, thus crashing the economy on top of our now barely functioning government.
Four hundred miles from sit-in protesters at his office in Tallahassee, Gov. Rick Scott met with some mayors and Palm Beach County commissioners here today and said he’s not planning to return to his office in the capitol this week.
“I mean, I cover the state, I travel the state. I’m there (in Tallahassee) more during the session,” Scott said outside the Palm Beach Cafe after a meeting with Mayors Jeri Muoio of West Palm Beach, Bert Premuroso of Palm Beach Gardens and Pam Triolo of Lake Worth and Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie of Boca Raton.
Asked when he expects to be back in his Tallahassee office, Scott said, “Probably next week sometime.”
"Probably" being the operative word.
He's not the only one going AWOL. People all over the country are planning to boycott Florida, it's orange juice and other products, and it's theme parks, because of not just the shoot-your-witness-and-get-away-with-murder SYG law, but because of the state's lax gun regulations and high numbers of guns in the state, period.
Add to the impending absence of tourists to the state, entertainers now say they will no longer play here until the law is changed. It began with Stevie Wonder, who said he would stay away not just from Florida, but all states that have SYG laws. Now many more may be joining him in the boycott:
"Sources close to the Stevie Wonder camp," tell American Urban Radio Networks that a bunch of other A-list artists are supporting Wonder's call to repeal the "Stand Your Ground" law that played a role in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, though it's not clear from the report whether they also intend to boycott Fla venues until the law is changed.
The performers: Mary Mary, Eddie Levert, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Usher, Pattie Labelle, Kanye West, Mary J. Trey Songz, Jay Z, Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, R. Kelly, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Joe, Will I AM, Keyshia Cole, Young Jeezy, Erykah Badu, Wale, Frankie Beverly, and Parliament.
Protests took place all over the state this past weekend, with more in the works, and the Dream Defenders at the Capitol are gaining allies and adding to their numbers.
Yet Rick Scott's only plan so far has been to ignore it all, and blow it all off by merely saying this:
“What people ought to address is that we lost a 17-year-old young man in this state. That’s a tragedy,” Scott said. “I mean, think about his parents. I’ve got daughters, I have a grandson, I have more on the way. I would hate to lose one of them…What we ought to be thinking about is we ought to mourn Travyon Martin’s loss, we ought to bring our state back together and help people get back to work and get a great education.”
Floridians agree, and they've expressed how they want to do that. Get rid of the law that allowed Trayvon Martin's killer to walk away without consequences.
Unless he plans to "govern" from his private plane for the remainder of his term, Scott's going to have to answer the call of voters and others around the country and get rid of Stand Your Ground.
President Obama addresses the Trayvon Martin trial, Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, race, and racial profiling.
An excerpt (a link to the entire speech is below):
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.
So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And let's figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.
Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.
I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "stand your ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see?
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
Remember back when the so-called "Tea Party" was manufactured, and a common rallying cry from it's "members" was "We want to take our country back"? And remember how many of us asked "take our country back to what, exactly?"
Yeah, well I think we're getting the answer to our questions right now.
It's bad enough that in November of 2008, the Republican Party made the decision to ignore the voters by blocking anything and everything that the President and Democrats tried to do, while repeating ad nauseum that they were doing so because "It was what Americans wanted." Never mind every other trick they've pulled out of their hats the last five years. Rather, let's just look at the most recent examples.
In the space of just a few weeks, the U. S. Supreme Court, which "formally" ended its history as an apolitical body when they ignored our votes and forced George W. Bush on us in 2000, has now become another wing of the Tea Party, thanks to their wing nut majority of justices, and took it upon themselves to butcher the Voting Rights Act. Worse, they did so while one member said that allowing black people to vote was a "racial entitlement" and another justified the ruling by saying racism no longer exists in this country, hence, no need for the now "quaint" Voting Rights Act. One would assume no one could actually pull that argument off when racism personified is but a chair or two away sitting on that same Court. But no, John Roberts is an ace at hypocrisy: Racism no longer exists because we have a black President, and because racism no longer exists, Republicans can now feel free to move about the country and prevent those "entitled ones" from voting.
This is what now constitutes logic in the highest court in the land.
Then of course, the abortion police in the states proceeded to pass more egregious abortion bills in the space of a couple weeks, adding to record numbers of legislation since the 2010 mid-terms, when gerrymandering Republicans took the House promising jobs, jobs, jobs.
That went well.
We've seen a Texas Democrat illustrate what an actual filibuster looks like when the GOP sought to force a bill through there. We saw elderly women protesters dragged away by police, and tampons, yes, tampons, confiscated from protesters out of fear they would be used as a weapon. In Texas. Where guns are not only carried and welcomed everywhere, but are also a fashion accessory. We saw lawmakers say it was OK to ban abortions, one reason being they would no longer be necessary because rape kits take care of all the pesky results and "particulars" down there afterwards. We heard the reasoning that eliminating women's health clinics in the name of abortion actually benefits a woman's health overall, in that there's no access to that health care..... and we've seen abortion provisions added to motorcycle safety bills, or any other legislation they could find.
The right would have you believe that a politician guarding and regulating one's uterus is in no way an intrusion by "big government" which they loathe. Nor is having to consult your local politician rather than your doctor to make health care decisions for yourself. And while guns should be available to all, (owning several, or a complete arsenal is even better!) a tampon becomes a weapon should it enter any venue where women dare to speak their minds about not wanting to wear a state-sanctioned chastity belt.
Then we come to the trial of a wannabe cop and self-proclaimed neighborhood watch superhero with a gun who "protected the neighborhood" by gunning down the son of a resident's girlfriend, and hence, one of the people he was supposed to be protecting. We are now actually told by those on the right that this is acceptable, because the victim was black.
When President Obama was elected, the white right proclaimed that we were now even. Racism was erased because "those people" scored themselves a President. And then they set about proving otherwise. There were many who felt free to let loose, and just went ahead and let their racist flags fly. Now, with the Trayvon Martin killing, eventual arrest of George Zimmerman, and the subsequent verdict of not innocent guilty, it's as if those same people and more are not only letting their racist flags fly, but they're saying "We're going to need a bigger, taller flagpole, and a flag large enough to see from space."
A teenager was gunned down because he was in a place he had every right to be, doing nothing more than walking home. He was black, wearing a hoodie, and walking on a dark night in the rain, in an area that had seen an uptick of burglaries. Enter the armed Neighborhood Watch vigilante who disobeyed the rules because he alone came to the conclusion that with the elements above combined, this child was black, and therefore must have been the responsible party. Trayvon Martin was targeted as the "a**hole" that wouldn't get away. So said George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was found "not innocent guilty" by a jury of his peers, because it's Florida. And peers they were. (Don't just take my word for it. Go listen to the interview of one of them on CNN, or read her comments here.) This juror was not only his "peer" but sounds like the President of the George Zimmerman fan club. She calls Zimmerman George, but refers to Trayvon Martin as the "boy". To hear her speak is to assume that she believes the real victim in all this was poor George, who has learned his lesson. George, she says, indeed profiled Martin, but race had nothing to do with it. George went too far, but she would totally be comfortable having him on her Neighborhood Watch as long as he didn't go too far again. George, who she feels was "egged on" by the 911 operator who told him to stay in his car.
How she used this profound wisdom to find Zimmerman not guilty is beyond my comprehension.
Basically, Zimmerman's peers found that, though there was that whole inconvenience of the "killed Trayvon Martin" part, Martin was black, so one cancels the other out. Even Steven.
As if that weren't bad enough, it gets worse. It isn't only the jury, but those on the right who have made him their new best friend. They have seen him get away with killing an unarmed black teenager and that makes him a hero! Why, FOX made him one long ago with an exclusive interview where he told Sean Hannity that killing Martin was "all part of God's plan." (The jury must bust believe that too, as it was in evidence at trial.) Right wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh said basically, due to so many political wins by Democrats he's seen via hallucination, finally, FINALLY the right has a "win" in their corner for once. You read that right: A dead black child, not to mention a future ""racially entitled voter, goes into the record books as a win for him and his Republican-Tea-Party-Conservative-Bircher pals. Not to be outdone, professional troll Ann Coulter summed up that "win" by Tweeting "Hallelujah!" Saturday when the verdict was announced. (Book soon to be published on the topic no doubt.) Not to be left out, even left leaning journalist Jonathan Alter actually invoked the now common "both sides analogy" while explaining his views to Joy Reid on MSNBC this afternoon. (Joy didn't let that one go, however, and I can't be the only one who took satisfaction in watching her do so.) This is of course, a false equivalence, as always. There is no "both sides" to this one. There are none on the left who celebrate anything as egregious as the circumstances surrounding the death of a child. None.
In the farce that the right has turned America into, Zimmerman emerges the hero, he'll probably have no shortages of offers for book deals and movie rights, perhaps a position alongside that other right wing celebrity nut-bag and professional victim Sarah Palin over at FOX. Count me as unsurprised if there isn't some sort of reality TV deal coming down the road. Something in a how-to self defense, martial arts, vigilante justice kind of thing like "George Zimmerman Stands His Ground."
Then there are the jurors, the one above, who within just days of the verdict, sought out and signed on with a literary agent for a possible book deal. Sadly for her, in under 24 hours, she announced this, went on national television and did enough damage by opening her mouth that outrage ensued, and through Twitter activism, the agent dropped the juror as a client. One could take that to say there is still just a smidgen of justice left in the world. Conventional wisdom and pundits tell us we mustn't criticize the jury. They also say we must accept the verdict.
Really? I don't think so. Not this time.
As George Zimmerman's attorneys gloated and bragged on camera after the verdict, so too did Florida's Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, for reasons that still boggle my mind. Her loss was a win for the right, as well as for right wing Florida politicians, like Rick Scott who appointed her.
How did we get here?
Florida is the state where common sense, logic, and consequences for immoral actions and ethics go to die. For a majority of bad decisions, outcomes, and head-scratching stories that define the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" chances are that all roads will lead back to Florida. The 2000 election, electing a governor who was previously best known for running a company that scored the biggest Medicare fraud fine in history, and now has a state sanctioned, "shoot first, ask questions and fill in the blanks later" law that allowed George Zimmerman to profile, pursue and admittedly kill a black child, and walk away not only a free man, but one who may well live out his days profiting from it.
Only in Florida can you profile and stalk a child, and then claim you shot him in self defense when he did what children are told to do by their parents when strangers are coming after them: Get away. Run. Because this child was black, Zimmerman's defense said it was justified. Said their client was the victim, not Trayvon Martin. The defense turned the tables and when it was over, the outcome was as if Martin was tried and found guilty, and Zimmerman was the wrongful victim. The deceased Martin was demonized, the responsible party walked away, and he, his defense team, and many on the right from reporters, radio race baiters and bloggers, to the very Republican politicians who made this legal outcome possible, are now dancing on this child's grave.
This law that allows you to get away with murder as long as you kill the only witness was written by ALEC, and handed down to the good old boys in Tallahassee who were only to eager to enact it. Thank Jeb Bush who was governor at the time. Thank its proud sponsor Dennis Baxley, a funeral home owner who also conveniently walks hand in hand with the NRA. Thank Republicans who hold the majority in the legislature who allow it to remain law. Thank Rick Scott, who appointed the Special Prosecutor who acted as though she were accepting an award when she lost her case, also the one who sent a black woman to jail for firing a warning shot in the air under the same Stand Your Ground law. Thank Scott a second time for reluctantly, under pressure, finally calling for a task force to "investigate" the SYG law, which he filled with Baxley, and an entire group of gun friendly, NRA owned lawmakers. What did they find after their so-called investigation? Surprise! The law is just dandy the way it is!
Case closed. Move along.
Even after the verdict, Baxley stood by his SYG baby like a proud father. Why wouldn't he? Because the law allows just exactly what it was intended to. Having made guns more readily available than birth control, and easier to get than it is to vote in Florida, they wrote a law that protects someone like Zimmerman. Protects the sacred right of the gun owner. After all, if you put him in prison, he can't buy more guns, which means less campaign checks from the gun companies. That's the way they roll in Tallahassee. If a child or any other innocent victim happens to find themselves on the wrong end of a gun, so be it. Collateral damage.
This is what we've come to. This is what the right wants to "take the country back to." This is their idea of freedom and liberty. Guns for all, votes for whites only, and exerting power and control over minorities, women, taking away choice, protecting those in the womb, only to be cast aside as slackers and takers after they're born, forced to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." Bootstraps they've legislated out of reach.
My heart aches for the loss of Trayvon Martin. It aches for his family. While we can't bring him back, we can change. We have to change. This is insanity. If there are those who seek to prevent a change for the better, they need to get out of the way.
We are better than this. Please tell me we are better than this.
“There is a need for focus on real news, not news with an agenda or not news that is really editorializing,” Mr. Koch said in an interview.
Mr. Koch added in a follow-up statement to The Wall Street Journal that the editorial page of any newspaper his company acquired “would be a marketplace of ideas where all sorts of approaches to public-policy issues are vetted and contrasted, and there could be ongoing debate.” That, he predicted, “would ultimately improve newspapers as a business proposition.”
The first comment is laughable considering the source. Yes, there is a need for "real news" without an agenda." But does anyone who knows anything about the Koch brothers, and their partnership with ALEC, (informally known here as The Florida Legislature, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and his cabinet) who write virtually all Republican legislation in the country right now, really believes he means that? Of course not.
Given that they own most of the Republican Party, and spend millions during election season to "acquire" more members, and any other time they want to muscle through policy issues, it's a real stretch of the imagination that they would refrain from "editorializing" if they were to get into the newspaper business. They created the Tea Party after all, and were the leading force to kill ObamaCare before it became law, just for starters.
As far as honoring the separation of editorial departments from the news departments as newspapers do, I don't see any hope of that in a "Koch Sentinel" (or a "Daily Bircher?"). Koch all but gives that one away in his gushing statement concerning policy issues and debate in improving "newspapers as a business proposition.” Somehow I don't see much "debate" over an issue that would benefit a Koch Industries competitor popping up in a Koch owned newspaper. Business is business.
Florida already has Rick Scott at the helm in what he thinks is the job of CEO of Florida, Inc., and who sees the State in terms of profits and privatization, and its people as trapped, but expendable consumers. To aid him further with propaganda factories, including one in the now Democratic I-4 Corridor, would only hasten the disaster.
Floridians have had it with Rick Scott as it is. The last thing they want is more of the same in the form of Koch propaganda masquerading as "real news."