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The Live Wire, Nov. 4: Florida’s One-Party Rule, Bush on Bush and Chris Wallace

| November 4, 2010

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With Republicans in Supermajority in the Legislature, Florida Is a One-Party State


In English, anyway

From the Miami Herald: “Florida Democrats lost more than the governor’s office and all three Cabinet posts on Tuesday. They also lost their last leadership position in Tallahassee and their last bit of legislative clout. Democrat Alex Sink, the lone Democrat on the three-member Cabinet, was replaced as chief financial officer by outgoing state Sen. Jeff Atwater, a North Palm Beach Republican. The other two Cabinet posts also went to Republicans when Adam Putnam defeated Scott Maddox and Pam Bondi defeated state Sen. Dan Gelber. In the legislature, only 51 Democrats remain — 12 in the 40-member Senate and 39 in the 120-member House. That’s not enough to defeat legislation, even block attempts to waive the rules, or reject proposed constitutional amendments. “It’s the first time the Democrats are in super minorities,” said Sen. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, a former House Democratic leader and himself of victim of the Republican tidal wave. […] Gelber predicts that if governor-elect Rick Scott acts as conservative as he promises to be, the next two years will be the most ideologically extreme the state has ever seen. […] He and Rich predicted the Scott, Haridopolos and Cannon will attempt to dramatically change education policy, open the door to extreme health care reforms (such as giving people vouchers for Medicaid) and will introduce new restrictions on abortion – such as the ultrasound bill passed but vetoed last session. Democrats also don’t expect to have an ally in the governor’s office, a role often filled by Gov. Charlie Crist in the last four years when he vetoed divisive bills, such as Senate Bill 6 which attempted to end teacher tenure or the measure that required women to view and ultrasounds of their fetus before consenting to an abortion.”

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Rick Scott: The Business of Florida Is Business

“There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ATT and ITT,” Arthur Jansen famously says in the “Network,” the movie, in a modern retelling of Calvin Coolidge’s famous “the business of America is business” line. “Those are the nations of today.[…] The world is a business. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.” Yesterday, Rick Scott added his devalued cents’ worth: “Florida is open for business,” he said, particularly his kind of business: he spent $73 million of his own money to buy the election. From the Sentinel: “With virtually all the votes counted, Scott led by 68,277 – out of 5.3 million cast — the closest race in Florida since 1876 and the first time in more than 100 years that a Florida governor was elected with less than 50 percent of the vote, state officials said. Sink attributed her defeat to a Republican wave – the GOP beat four of the state’s incumbent congressional Democrats, won all three Cabinet seats and took two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Legislature – and the ability of Scott, a controversial healthcare executive, to self-finance his campaign. […] In total, Scott and the GOP spent a combined $96 million on ads, mailers, consultants and an army of staff, compared to $36 million by Sink and the Democrats. The totals smashed previous records.” The full story.

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GOP House Games: Investigating Obama

From TPM: “Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) have been attacking the Obama administration since pretty much the day Barack Obama took office. Until now, as just the ranking members of two powerful House committees and members of the minority party, their criticisms of administration officials and their decisions have been mostly limited to issuing press releases. Now — as the expected chairmen of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Judiciary Committee, respectively — they’re the proud new holders of subpoena power, will have a much more robust unit of investigators and will likely be a huge thorn in the side of President Obama and his top cabinet members.” […] Here are a few of the controversies you can expect to hear more about in the next two years:

  • New Black Panther Party
  • Joe Sestak’s Job Offer
  • ACORN’s Offspring
  • BP Oil Spill

What Caused the Deficit and the National debt?

We’re hearing interminably how the Obama years have caused the national debt to “skyrocket.” Not exactly. Not even close. Here’s a graphic look at how the deficits accumulated into the current debt, as tallied by The Times in this story.

bush deficits national debt obama graphic

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Bush’s Decision Points Memoir: The Decider on the Decider

We now know one thing almost for sure about George W. Bush. He has finished a book. His own. Maybe. It’s assumed that he wrote it in polite society, but it’s just as assumed that he had, if not a cabinet of ghost writers, then at least a Cheney equivalent, doing the writing, and some of the thinking, for him. Michiko Kakutani reviews him: “Certainly it’s the most casual of presidential memoirs: how many works in the genre start as a sort of evangelical, 12-step confession (“Could I continue to grow closer to the Almighty or was alcohol becoming my god?”), include some off-color jokes and conclude with an aside about dog poop? The prose in “Decision Points” is utilitarian, the language staccato and blunt. Mr. Bush’s default mode is regular-guy-politico, and his moods vacillate mainly among the defensive and the diligent — frat boy irreverence, religious certainty and almost willful obliviousness. […] In the course of this book Mr. Bush hops and skips over many serious issues raised by critics, including the cherry-picking of intelligence by administration hawks in the walk up to the invasion of Iraq; the push for aggrandized executive power by the White House in the war on terror; and the ignoring of advice from the military and the State Department on troop levels and postwar planning. […] Mr. Bush does not grapple with the role that his deregulatory, free market policies played in fueling the economic meltdown at the end of his second term. Nor does he take any responsibility for the fierce partisanship and political divisiveness that took root in his administration.” The full review.

Why Taxes Are Important

From Linda Beale at Angry Bear, one of the nation’s leading centrist economics blogs: “…it’s worth reminding everybody about the reason that all advanced countries have strong tax systems. It’s likely the case that none of us really enjoys paying taxes, and some of us complain about them all the time. But most of us recognize that taxes are a necessary part of supporting a democratic government and a civil society. Without a tax system, the rich and powerful would be able to do whatever they wanted. There’d be no FBI or SEC to investigate their wrongdoing, no cops to arrest them, no courts to bring them to justice, no prisons to put them in. Most of the rest of us would be subjected to conditions closely resembling slavery–or at least the conditions of the early twentieth century, when mineworkers could be bullied, beatup and even killed by “Pinkerton” thugs hired by mineowners, when union representatives might be murdered to keep them from inspiring workers to join together to fight the owners for reasonable wages and benefits, when old people had nothing but the charity of neighbors and families to live on, because companies didn’t provide pensions and there was no Social Security organization in government. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. Luckily, there is an increasing attention to this issue in the blog world, to counter the “taxes are evil” mantra of the neo-conservative and libertarian right.”

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The Big Lie About Social Security

Jeff Madrick in The New York Review: “In view of all the rhetoric, voters may be surprised to find out how little Social Security will actually contribute to the future budget gap. In fact, most would probably be stunned. The Congressional Budget Office, which produces dry, cautious budget projections, recently reminded Congress that Social Security as a percent of GDP will rise from 5 to 6 percent in 2035 and simply stay at that level for the foreseeable future. In other words, the much decried shortfall amounts to only 1 percent of GDP over three decades. And this may be exaggerated. As some observe, much will depend on the flow of young immigrant workers to America. The more workers contributing to Social Security, the smaller any future deficit will be. And the CBO projections tend to make overly conservative estimates about such immigration in the decades to come. Meanwhile, Federal spending on healthcare—essentially, Medicare and Medicaid—will double from 5 to 10 percent over the same period. In a 2009 analysis, the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities forecast that federal healthcare spending would rise to 13 percent of GDP by 2050 while Social Security, as noted, would remain at just 6 percent of GDP. […] Tied up in this is the inexplicable notion that current Social Security benefits—which for the second year in a row are not being adjusted for inflation—are adequate. The average monthly benefit is now $1400. And Social Security accounts for 90 percent of income for one third of retired Americans.” The full post.

Lucky You Weren’t On That Plane

The Quantas Airbus engine that exploded after take-off.

From the BBC: “Qantas flight QF32 experienced engine trouble shortly after taking off from Singapore on its way to Sydney. One of the engines exploded with a bang, a passenger told the BBC, and debris was found on an island below. Singapore Airlines said its A380 flights would be delayed pending technical checks. Qantas said the plane, with 433 passengers and 26 crew on board, experienced an “engine issue” over western Indonesia shortly after taking off from Singapore” at 10 a.m. local time. The BBC has video from a passenger showing the damage to the wing as the plane flew with the blown out engine.

Here’s a video plane-crash compilation, strangely set to music:

Disney Marketing Magic

From Newsweek: “The go-to explanation for why the Disney empire is so successful—valued at $68 billion—is its intellectual property. No other company has such a stockpile of well-known, cute, family-friendly, and highly marketable characters. But analysts like to point out that it takes more than a stockpile to do what this giant has done. Hand each of the global media companies “an equivalent piece of content, [and] Disney would make the most money pound for pound,” says Anthony DiClemente, an analyst at Barclays Capital. The reason: Disney has had decades of solid experience in the logistics of how to make a product—whether it’s a TV series or an animated film—how to ship related merchandise, how to price said merchandise, and how to market all of the above, anywhere in the world. The result is a series of successful projects conceived, built, and sold through Disney’s various branches. […] And when Disney wants to generate additional buzz on TV, it can do so through its network channel, ABC, or cable channels such as the Disney Channel, which is known for being a star maker on its own. Add to this Disney’s knowledge of its audience around the world, and you end up with a company that knows at what price Japanese consumers will buy the most Mickey Mouse hats and how to efficiently distribute Winnie-the-Pooh-themed English-learning kits in China.” The full story.

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Chris Wallace Laughs It Up

The latest from the Daily Show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Chris Wallace
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

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Florida Hospital Flagler’s First COO

From the PR desk at Florida Hospital Flagler: “Florida Hospital Flagler’s Vice President of Clinical Services, Eunmee Shim, has been selected to serve as the first Chief Operating Officer for the hospital. “The decision to promote Eunmee is due in part to the growth of our organization to the 900 employee milestone, as well as our expanding services, such as interventional cardiology,” said David Ottati, Florida Hospital Flagler CEO. “She has done a terrific job and operationally, this new structure will allow me to focus on additional market growth initiatives that are imperative for our long term success.” Shim joined Florida Hospital Flagler in February 2008 as the VP of Clinical Services/Chief Nursing Officer. Prior to relocating to Flagler County, she served as the Assistant Chief Nursing Officer for Abrazo Health Care Systems, West Valley Hospital in Goodyear Arizona. With a World Health Organization (WHO) Scholarship, Shim graduated magna cum laude from Sahmyook University in Seoul, Korea with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She also has earned a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics from Columbia University in New York.”

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A Few Good Links

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