Thursday's outlook calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.
The prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is more than what's considered an average Atlantic season.
Unfortunately, as I wrote recently, the Republicans in Washington (including 16 from Florida) have held tax cuts for the wealthy hostage and the result was the forced sequester that has had devastating cuts for many in everything from Medicare cuts for the elderly, leaving some without cancer treatments to head start programs and more.
Federal officials say they have the resources to warn storm-prone Florida and other vulnerable areas about weather emergencies, but a federal union representative warns that a hiring freeze plus furloughs threaten public safety.
Officials say they can maintain adequate staffing at the National Hurricane Center nearin [sic] Miami, though its forecasters will be forced to take off four unpaid days by Sept.ember 30. Staff at the National Weather Service already is depleted because of a hiring freeze.
“This could have a detrimental effect on everybody’s public safety,” said Bob Ebaugh, the steward in Miami for the National Weather Service Employees Organization. “Once you start limiting staffing, you start raising the potential for disaster.”
The furloughs will put stress on staffing for the hurricane hunter aircraft.
After the sequester began in March, Americans all over the country began feeling the cuts that Republicans forced on them because they wanted to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy while killing Social Security and Medicare. While Medicare patients were being turned away from cancer clinics, all Republicans were worried about were White House tours.
Then it was flight delays due to air traffic controller furloughs that were causing Republicans pain, so they complained this week while trying to place the blame on President Obama, knowing full well that the sequester was pushed and voted for by them. (Rick Scott tried his hand at it too, as noted here earlier.)
Sequestration's full impact on the intelligence community and U.S. national security will not truly be felt by Americans until the next terrorist attack happens or the next bomb goes off.
"Unlike more directly observable sequestration impacts like shorter hours at the parks or longer security lines at airports, the degradation to intelligence will be insidious," Clapper told Senate Armed Services Committee members.
"It will be gradual and almost invisible until, of course, we have an intelligence failure," he added during Thursday's committee hearing on emerging national security threats.
These cuts are just the beginning of some of the things Americans are having to give up merely because the now radical Republicans in Washington want to prevent the rich from paying their fair share of taxes while killing social safety nets.
Yes, Republicans are putting national security at risk so they can keep their precious tax cuts.
It's nearly a certainty that before long we will hear the next round of complaints and false finger pointing from Republicans (probably accompanied by a catchy Twitter hashtag) just in time for Hurricane season. When that happens, just remember who really put Floridians and others around the country in danger just as we're seeing larger and more devastating weather events on a regular basis.
When Hurricane season arrives and those cuts to weather forecasting and hurricane monitoring place Floridians in danger, Sen. Marco Rubio, and these House Republicans from Florida are the ones who are holding public safety hostage to protect tax cuts for the wealthy (and yes, in most cases, that includes them.)
Give them a (courteous) call and thank them, or let them know what you think. House numbers here, Marco Rubio's number here. (Sen. Bill Nelson voted against the sequester.)
Did you know that 4% of voters say they believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power, 5% of voters believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966, and that 5% believe exhaust seen in the sky behind airplanes is actually chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons? They do. Scary, huh?
Those, and more conspiracy poll results are here, along with a few more Wednesday leftover news items:
If you want a clue as to what a second term for Rick Scott would look like for Florida's future, you can get some idea by following the money. During the first three months of 2013, Scott's "Let's Get To Work" fund brought in $4.6 million. Some of his biggest donors so far this year: Bill Edwards $500,000, Blue Cross Blue Shield $237,500, Florida Power & Light $250,000, H. Wayne Huizenga $250,000, Sheldon Adelson $250,000, and Donald Trump $50,000. If you have the stomach for it, the entire list is here.
Another fake fiscal conservative: U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, a Republican from Panama City, gave $26,000 in taxpayer money for bonuses to 16 of his staffers as he told the Panama City newspaper that the federal government is “spending money we don’t have.”
President Obama held a press conference this morning after meeting with Congressional leaders to talk about his plans to move the country forward in light of the severe budget cuts that will start to take effect today.
In Florida, you can thank these House Republicans (phone numbers here) for turning their backs on everyday Floridians and the country so they can protect millionaires and billionaires from having to pay their fair share of taxes.
Surprise! After voters in Florida approved the "Fair Districts" constitutional Amendments to prevent coordination between the Republican Party and Florida legislators in 2010 over redistricting, they did it anyway, through the use of private email accounts.
This information came to light yesterday after the Associated Press requested the documents after they were presented in a court hearing last week.
Florida’s legislative leaders appear to have authorized their staff to use private email accounts, secret “dropboxes” and to engage in “brainstorming meetings” with Republican Party of Florida consultants in attempting to draw favorable political districts, despite a constitutional ban on such coordination.
The allegations arise from a lawsuit challenging the Senate and congressional redistricting that include emails showing how top deputies of Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford and several of Gaetz’s consultants were in frequent contact with consultants who drafted and analyzed maps. Redistricting is done every 10 years to redraw boundaries of legislative and congresssional districts to ensure equal representation.
The emails show that just a month after voters approved the amendment banning all coordination between the party and lawmakers in 2010, Rich Heffley, the RPOF political consultant who served as a close advisor to Gaetz, called a redistricting “brainstorming” meeting to be held in the chairman’s conference room at RPOF headquarters in Tallahassee.
Heffley listed the expected participants, which included Weatherford’s redistricting chief of staff, Alex Kelly; Gaetz’s redistricting general counsel Andy Bardos; Gaetz’s district aide Chris Clark, and the political consultants running the House and Senate 2012 Republican election campaigns: Frank Terraferma, Joel Springer, Andy Palmer, Marc Reichelderfer, and Pat Bainter. Also attending: the lawyers advising the House and Senate on their redistricting efforts, George Meros and Ben Ginsberg.
In one example (below), in an email from January of 2012, a Republican official writes to a consultant about changes that could "entice Mica to run against Adams," meaning GOP Rep. John Mica and GOP Rep. Sandy Adams. Mica did run against Adams, defeating her. The email also mentions that "[GOP Rep. Gus] Bilirakis will cry."
House Republicans voted again for the 33rd time to "repeal ObamaCare," the first time since the Supreme Court ruled nearly all of it Constitutional. Never mind their so-called love of the Constitution, their love for Supreme Court Justice Roberts who tipped the vote, nor their apparent fondness for the government health care that they enjoy at low rates and at our expense, and especially this: Never mind that it was all political theater and another way to waste money, time, and to distract from the fact that they have done virtually nothing since the 2008 election beyond blocking everything the President and Democrats have tried to do for all of us in the wake of the absolute disastrous eight years of George W. Bush and the tailspin they all sent the country into.
They. Don't. Care.
Nope. If they have anything to say about it, and if they take the White House, the House and the Senate, you will just have to die waiting before they'll grant you what is now constitutionally your right: Affordable health care, no discrimination from health insurance companies for pre-existing conditions, no children allowed to stay on their parents insurance until age 26, nor any of the rest.
They. Don't. Care.
If the Republicans really feel SO strongly that the Affordable Health Care Act should be repealed, I think it's about time they give up their own government health care. After all, we're paying for it, and isn't that just what they claim, that government health care is absolute tyranny? They compare it to the Nazis and the Gestapo, say it's unconstitutional in spite of the fact that their own Supreme Court Justice ruled it otherwise. Hey GOP, put up or shut up. End the tyranny. Give up yours. We the people "can't afford it" remember?
We Floridians who are living with cut, after cut, after cut from a governor who has made a career out of blocking us from getting good affordable health care, who refuses to implement Medicaid and thinks no court can tell him what to do, who ignores the biggest tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years and closes the hospital that treats the victims, turning them out into the streets as the outbreak spreads across the state and people die, we are footing the bill for his actions and every one of his enablers below. And we're paying for a lot more than just that.
Guess what GOP, Americans like and need ObamaCare. Look at the polls.
Below are the Florida members who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 33rd time. Ask them if they intend to end the "tyranny" by giving up their government health care just as they expect us to do.
To Repeal ObamaCare: Yes Votes (244)
Sandra Adams R FL-24 Gus Bilirakis R FL-9 Vern Buchanan R FL-13 Ander Crenshaw R FL-4 Mario Diaz-Balart R FL-21 Connie Mack R FL-14 John L. Mica R FL-7 Jeff Miller R FL-1 Richard Nugent R FL-5 Bill Posey R FL-15 David Rivera R FL-25 Tom Rooney R FL-16 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R FL-18 Dennis Ross R FL-12 Steve Southerland R FL-2 Cliff Stearns R FL-6 Daniel Webster R FL-8 Allen West R FL-22 C. W. Bill Young R FL-10
The House defeated Democrats' motion to amend the repeal bill to require anyone voting for repeal to give up their own taxpayer-subsidized health care plan. They were joined by 8 Blue Dogs.
So not only is there no question that Republicans and Blue Dogs are telling you "government health care for me, just not for thee," it's now part of the Congressional record. As far as they're concerned, the rest of us can just stick it.
Except for the two Republicans who just didn't bother to vote at all: Vern Buchanan and Mario Diaz-Balart, every Florida Republican in the U. S. House voted to raise your taxes and cut unemployment benefits.
If there are still true believers in the so called Tea Party movement who haven't recognized it for the re-branded Republican party corporate funded scam that it is, this message is for you.
It's also a wake up call to the fact that in spite of what you've been told, and what you may believe, President Obama has been fighting for you all along, and still is. The Tea Party/Republicans? They're not. Never have. Never will.
You've been had.
Like many others, this blogger has tried to tell you this before and I've been called a liar and much worse for doing so. If you're one of those who still thinks that after you read this, you're welcome to your opinion. It won't bother me in the least.
Facts are facts. Just because you may refuse to believe them doesn't make you immune to them. The Republican/Tea Party have been scamming you all along and in the coming days, if America is pushed off the cliff into default by this Republican manufactured "crisis" you'll be riding into the abyss along with the rest of us. Your so called "leaders" have no interest in saving you from the disaster they've created, and they won't.
In spite of what they tell you, they also have no interest in Democracy.
Let me give you just the latest examples of reality from the Tea Party world.
Rick Scott, John Mica
I'll start with your "leaders" in Florida. You've likely gotten the message from your Tea Party "Hero" Governor Rick Scott already. He made his bold statement against the "establishment" when he said F--- you to high-speed rail. You rallied around him in support for that move in spite of the fact that it actually resulted in F--- all of us. It cost many of your own a chance at a job and a step in the direction of boosting our economy in Florida. But then he turned around and sold you out not long after when he said yes to SunRail. Why did he do that? Well, because Republican John Mica, another big timer you supported put the pressure on the governor because SunRail helps his district. Your Tea Party organizers on the ground who enabled the Republicans made lots of noise and claimed they would go after Scott and Mica for selling out to that rail project unlike the first. How's that working out?
Mike Haridopolos, Dean Cannon
How about yesterday, when John Boehner buckled under yet again to his Tea Party members and passed a bill in order to hold the nation's economy for ransom, a bill that he knew had no chance of going anywhere in the first place? Zero? Governor Scott, along with stooges Mike Haridopolos and Dean Cannon jumped at the chance to kiss up to you by crafting a message in support of the Boehner non-starter bill, saying they "looked forward to Florida leading the way towards ratification of a federal balanced budget amendment.” As they wrote it they no doubt knew that the bill had less than a snowball's chance in Tea Bagger hell of passing. No worries though, they could safely go on the record for your benefit, no skin off their noses. Why else would Cannon and Haridopolos suddenly be so tight with the man they've been running from in recent months when his poll numbers were in the tank? To illustrate an empty united front to help the Republican Tea Party scam stay afloat. That's why. They want to keep you on a sinking ship. If you're still not convinced, grab a life preserver anyway just in case, and keep reading.
The crown jewel: Allen West
Many of you have seen Allen West as a rebel for the average Tea Party Joe. You're in a very small minority who fails to recognize the crown jewel of crazy when you see it. However, your numbers just went down in the last couple days when he too sold you out by showing his true colors. You sent him to Washington because he told you he was an outsider who would never become a part of the "established Republican party." Remember? Well, file that memory away in your scrapbook, because it took him only a few short months before his status as a sellout became visible to true believers. When John Boehner bent over backwards to try and win Tea Party members over with his vast collection of rewritten bills, your hero Allen West folded into the party line when others didn't. He even offered to "drive the GOP clown car off the cliff." But alas, when reality kicked in and Boehner turned the bill back into the Republican version as it used to be, Allen West was still happily on board. West knows only the established Republican bread gets buttered in Washington even if his Tea Bag cohorts don't get it yet. He wants that butter so bad he'll churn it himself if he has to, but he doesn't want you to know.
That's why he was so quick to attempt to cover himself and his tracks by insulting your intelligence by writing "you" a letter explaining why he did it, invoking his fall back blind excuse of "patriotism" as he always does to get himself out of a bind. No one would dare call out this "steadfast and loyal" veteran! He writes as if all this congressional mumbo jumbo is really above your head, in a "trust me" fashion, claiming "It is now time for the focus to be on the United States Senate to produce a plan to take this country forward." If you've been paying attention to politics in the last few months, you know this actually translates to a "Republican party plan to take over the country" while moving forward as the lot of you remain behind and under that forward bus.
West ends his letter to you, his followers, as any "steadfast and loyal Washigton Republican would" with a rallying cry of patriotism wrapped in a flag:
My fellow Americans, I ask you: If I had voted “No” on the Budget Control Act, who would I have been voting for?"
Who indeed? If you're curious and want an answer to that question, I would suggest you give him a buzz or send him an email in order to find out. Let me know who that is if you get a response, because the suspense is killing me.
Still convinced the Tea Party is a separate group from the Republican Party? Well, here's one more example to ponder. We'll move beyond just Florida.
Tea Party "Darling" Marco Rubio
Where to begin with this one? If you haven't seen through this Republican robot by now, there may be no hope. Still, I'll give it one more try.
This is the guy who many of you think might make a great President one day, or a great VP a little sooner? Take time to read up on him instead of reading his Tweets and listening to his script on the Sunday morning shows. He's a phony.
Fiscal conservative? Sure, if by fiscal conservative you mean not paying your bills and forcing a foreclosure, for starters. Can't get much more conservative than not paying for something I suppose. But there's plenty of investigations working on his past spending habits. For now let's focus on the fact that he is no more of a math whiz than Rick Scott is. He probably has trouble spelling the word "economy" much less understanding how it works. Sign up for Marco Rubio's world, and you'll be working until you drop dead, and if that doesn't kill you, having no health care will. You see he wants to kill everything from Social Secuirty to Medicare (but only AFTER his Mom has collected hers, of course). While Rubio has tries to paint himself as a Tea Party hero when it suits him, it's apparent he's anything but. He'll knock Allen West off that butter churn in a heartbeat and he's been at the Republican game a lot longer. He'll do anything they tell him to.
But most of all, he's been parroting one of the biggest scams of all: "American Exceptionalism." This is his all time favorite, all purpose "patriotic" calling card. He's used it a lot, but what exactly does it mean? You could look to Rubio himself fr an answer the next time he reads his script on the air, but if you'de like a glimpse of the future from his world view of "American Exceptionalism," here's just a taste of the reality he has in store if he and the Republican/Tea Party scammers get their way when the country can't pay those bills come next Tuesday, and we all slide into default.
You don't need to take my word for it. This is how some in other parts of the world see the scam for what it is.
But as the U.S. inches closer to defaulting on its debts for the first time in history, criticism of Congress is starting to come from beyond our own borders. From France and Germany to China and India, countries around the world are angry that American politicians play with the possibility of a U.S. default like a yo-yo with little regard for the international economic system that depends on American solvency.
Despite China’s traditional preference of staying out of the domestic affairs of other nations, senior Chinese officials’ frustrations are growing louder and louder. Stephen Roach, the non-executive chairman of Morgan Staley Asia, said senior Chinese officials told him the debt ceiling debate in the U.S. is “truly shocking.” “We understand the politics,” a Chinese official said, “but your government’s continued recklessness is astonishing.” And newspapers around the world are voicing discontent with Congress’s handling of the debt ceiling:
Conservative German Die Welt: “[T]here are few signs of self-doubt or self-awareness in the U.S. … [The Tea Party movement] sees the other side as their enemy. Negotiations with the Democrats, whether it’s about appointing a judge or the insolvency of the United States, are only successful if the enemy is defeated. Compromise, they feel, is a sign of weakness and cowardice.”
The German mass-circulation Bild: “What America is currently exhibiting is the worst kind of absurd theatrics and the whole world is being held hostage… Most importantly, the Republicans have turned a dispute over a technicality into a religious war, which no longer has any relation to a reasonable dispute between the elected government and the opposition.”
French newspaper Le Monde:”The American politicians supposed to lead the most powerful nation in the world are becoming a laughing stock.”
Chinese state-owned newspaper Xinhua: “Given the United States’ status as the world’s largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, such political brinksmanship in Washington is dangerously irresponsible.”
The founding documents of many nations around the world take their inspiration from and quote the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But now, foreigners don’t seem to be too inspired watching the intransigent wing of one political party that controls one house of one branch of the federal government hold the entire U.S. hostage. American soft power has taken a self-inflicted hit as a result of the debt ceiling debate.
Even if Congress manages to forge a deal against the wishes of the Tea Party and deliver a bill to President Obama’s desk raising the debt ceiling before default, the damage to our international standing has already been done. Other nations won’t forget how some members of Congress were so careless to allow the international economy fall into another financial disaster in order to score a few political points.
There's your "American Exceptionalism." Does that sound like the future you've dreamed of?
No? Had enough? Because like it or not, believe it or not, this is what President Obama has been up against all this time. He's been fighting against it on your behalf. Now Republicans are fighting amongst themselves, and all the while this scam is trashing our country, our future, and our standing in the world.
It may not be too late. Call your leaders and tell them to get their act together.