Saturday, September 26, 2015

Could Pope's Visit Signal End of Rule by Neolib Cons? (Naaah - But You Remember "Hope and Change?")  With Boehner Gone Is "Radical Insurgency" Beginning Its Final Fiery Push?  (War Idiocy Reprised)  George P. Bush Hires Kin Instead of Governing Legally  (Jeb's Water and Construction Greed and Incompetence Ran Neck and Neck To Crater World Financial Markets)  "Taking Care of Their Own" Trumpeted

North Carolina Tea Party crazies are now in open conflict (sporting guns!) with each other.

Seems the early winners aren't crazy enough for the late joiners.

Not to worry though. The easily confused NC electorate will sort these fools out.

Just like they did with the races leading to the crowning of Governor McCrory and Senator Tillis.


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As I reported on a very well-documented article after the election of 2004 about how voting results in over 10 states didn't match the voter registration numbers or polling results . . . we now learn that a credentialed mathematician has also become publicly curious. Providing an answer to "what's the matter with Kansas?"

Mathematician Suspicious of Election Fraud Hires Lawyer to Force Kansas to Hand Over Voting Records

“I don’t understand why those patterns are there, the patterns are very definitely real. But we don’t know what’s causing them or why they’re there,” Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson told KSHB last month. “They do fit what would be expected if election fraud is occurring, and that’s very concerning.”

Brad Blog’s Brad Friedman explained the suspicious activity in a recent column . . .

Pope Tells World's Top Arms Dealers to End Arms Trade

The Quiet Speech of a Hard Man

William Rivers Pitt

So this guy in white robes showed up at the Capitol Building in Washington DC on Thursday, and the freak-out was comprehensive. Some 5,000 law enforcement officials were brought to bear in the name of "security" for the visit by Pope Francis, a number that sits in the shade of the 7,000 law enforcement officials prepared for his arrival in New York City. Both towns are effectively shut down; fences up, fences everywhere.

The pope's speech before a joint session of congress was riveting television. The crowds outside were huge, and hugely enthusiastic. The cameras flashed to various crowd shots, one including Senator Ted Cruz looking like an extra from "Grease," with Chris Matthews on MSNBC claiming that suddenly-retiring and very weepy House Speaker John Boehner "wanted personal help from the pope" at one notable point. Ponder that a moment.

The only person Francis personally greeted when he entered the chamber was John Kerry. When the pontiff assumed the podium, Speaker Boehner shook his hand and said, "Good luck." It was not a jocular statement; Boehner delivered it in the tones of a World War I officer ordering a doughboy over the side of a trench and into machine-gun fire.

Pope Francis defended working people and retired people, invoked Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton, defended religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms while denouncing the "simplistic reductionism that sees only good or evil," defended immigrants and immigration, made a stout argument in favor of the reality of climate change, described the profits made from weapons sales as "money drenched in blood," and kicked the death penalty square in the ass.

...but he also gave a coy, soft-pedaled semi-apology for the ravages committed against Native Americans hot on the heels of his canonization of Friar Junípero Serra, one of the first and worst perpetrators of genocide to arrive on this continent.

He chose to end his speech to congress with a thinly-veiled attack on the LGBTQ community by saying, "Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family" ... as if LGBTQ people don't - and haven't always had - families of their own.

All that being justly said, it is oddly difficult to dislike this pope, even as one reviles and rejects the institution he represents. Beyond the good words he spoke about poverty, immigration, equality and climate change, there was the simple fact of the man himself. In a nation where our discordant and belligerent political discourse can be summed up with a sound clip of Donald Trump's bellicose noise, which has him all over the papers and at the top of the GOP polls, the soft voice of Pope Francis was a breath of fresh air.

As a gone Catholic, Pope Francis to me is the distilled essence of the conflict people of sound progressive morality have with the Church. Perfect example:  After his speech before Congress, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to Little Sisters of the Poor. This organization does incredible, wonderful work for senior citizens all across the country ... but they also have a lawsuit pending over the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and the Vatican made it clear in a statement that the pope's visit there was deliberately intended to be a "sign of support" for the nuns pushing the suit.

The Little Sisters care for old people, and do it well, while working to deny the right of contraception to everyone. The Church has a long history of providing hospice care to LGBTQ people dealing with HIV and AIDS in the San Francisco area, while denouncing their very existence as a living sin. It goes on and on. The whole organization is an existential brain cramp. If you're able to be good/bad binary about it, things are pretty simple, and God help you if you can ... because it isn't that simple, and that is what grates.

Some nitwit in the House chamber was caught on an open microphone saying she wanted to throw a shoe just before the pope entered. GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who embraced Cliven Bundy and the goons who leveled assault rifles at federal officials, called the pope a "socialist" and refused to attend the speech. Silly people like Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter coughed up their two cents. Fox "News" did its thing.

Generally speaking, however, the harshest criticism the hard-right of the GOP has summoned was muted applause in the House chamber during the pope's speech, a golf-clap of distaste, as the pontiff calmly and quietly scolded the assemblage on the need to address climate change and help the poor while discontinuing the worldwide sale of war weapons. You'd think these haters of women, these enemies of choice, would be thrilled to have such a man in their presence. Most of them looked like they were sucking on old lemon slices, but they've kept quiet so far.

Such is the fact of the complexities orbiting this pope like a nest of planets. He champions the poor while his doctrine would force millions of women into poverty and servitude. He champions equality while his doctrine denounces LGBTQ people for simply being who they are. He denounces the "simplistic reductionism that sees only good or evil" while leading an organization that has made doing exactly that its meat and mead for centuries. He is so good. He is so bad.

It was a fine speech, delivered in the timbre this nation desperately needs... but it's just not that simple.

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WATCH: Noam Chomsky Flattens Trump in Four Minutes Flat

Ted Cruz’s Diabolical Shutdown Strategy:  Why the GOP Senator Wants to Watch the World Burn

Pope Francis Castigates World Elite at U.N. — Links Environmental Destruction and 'Social Exclusion'

WATCH:  Larry Wilmore Agrees With Pope That "Unfettered Capitalism" Is "the Devil's Dung"

From "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkrelli jacking up prices on a drug by 5,000% to Volkswagen fudging their emissions readings, it seems unregulated markets aren't doing great things for humanity these days.

Pope Francis also made this point when he visited Washington DC and doubled down on his belief that unchecked capitalism is the "dung of the devil" and a "subtle dictatorship that condemns and enslaves." Wilmore highlighted this point, reviewing a recent jail sentence of 28 years for a corporate executive who knowingly shipped tainted peanut butter to his customers.

"This is why it always gets me when people say ‘We don’t need the FDA, " Larry Wilmore said on his show last night. "We got to get rid of the FDA.’ We need them to get their D outa their A and get the F to work. This is a tragedy.”

After going down a list of examples of recent corporate greed the Nightly Show host concluded:  "It seems like the more we leave things to unfettered markets, the more we have to clean up their shit.”


Click on the title of the article above for the hilariously apt video.

Economic Update:  Puerto Rico as the United States' Greece

With the resignation of John Boehner as Speaker of the House (including his plans for leaving Congress in October) and the onrushing Republican juggernaut currently gathering force to completely shut down the U.S. government over the continued funding of "Planned Parenthood," and insatiable desire to make war on Iran as soon as possible, is the much-hyped Tea Party "radical insurgency" gaining freight train speed as a result (and may not these forces be what has so quickly thrust Boehner into retirement instead of some sad, guilty reaction to an elderly soft-talking Italian as light-headed reporters have been heard articulating)?

The Pope's visit may have served as an impetus to these backward forces empowered by the connected rich.

After all, if the Pope doesn't support your "Christian" piety pose, maybe it's time to drop it?

David Swanson tells us from whence these self-serving myths of the rich of "good wars" and "bad policies that benefit innocent victims" arise. But very few listen (or can hear) amid the drumbeat of war preparations.

War Is a Force That Gives Us Idiocy

By David Swanson
25 September 2015

During this year's competition for Miss Italy, contestants were asked what historical epoch they might like to have lived in and why. The first young woman to answer said 1942. She had heard so much about World War II, she said, that she'd like to actually live it - plus, she added, women didn't have to be in the military anyway.

A number of people over 18, including to all appearances the judges, deemed this idiotic. And yet that contestant won and is now Miss Italy, whose job seems to be giving sadly laughable interviews in which she says that her favorite Italian historical figure is Michael Jordan, and she can understand why refugees flee horrors but that they should really go somewhere else other than Italy. Maybe she would have fit into 1942 better than most people imagine.

There is a World War II problem in the United States and in more of Europe than one might expect, and - in fact - in a good bit of the Hollywood-viewing world. World War II is our origin myth, our hero myth, our tragedy, our locus of meaning and justification for how we live.

Reality still registers with many to a great extent. Some realize at times that World War II was the worst thing ever to happen on earth in a relatively brief space of time - the greatest quantity of death, injury, suffering, and destruction, and also the most dramatic degeneration of morality. This was the war that moved the whole institution of war from something that killed primarily soldiers to something that has ever since killed primarily civilians. This was the acceptance and then the glorification of all-out war, tied to technological innovation, and transformed into a project of the entire community and an imagined economic good.

Without the World War II myth of "good war" one could not justify 70 years of militarism, materialism, and mad exploitation of planet and people ever since. Without the World War II myth, the Pope's request that the United States end the wars and the arms trade could actually be heard and comprehended. An enormous percentage of stories in film, tv, books, magazines, etc., are set in or somehow connected to World War II. An 18-year-old in Italy (or the United States, for that matter) attempting in a moment of panic to think of an historical era in which something exciting occurred, could hardly answer other than World War II

That the excitement was no greater than excitement easily obtainable today is incomprehensible to people raised on the myth. That it was overwhelmed by horrific suffering gets lost in the mythologizing. That the region Miss Italy is from was bombed, and that the bombs didn't kill only males, has been buried in a mountain of cultural rubble. That moral clarity was most notable during World War II for its absence sounds like crazy talk to a young television viewer or reader of history text books.

World War II is glorified in Hollywood because the United States was on the Russian, and therefore winning, side, having entered the European war once the Germans and Russians had killed each other for years, as Harry Truman openly advocated allowing. World War II is held up as a justification for dozens of unrelated wars that lack their own justifications, because of the particular evil of the losing side - the side that, perhaps unbeknownst to Miss Italy, Italy was on.

But of course the evil of the death camps had nothing to do with the U.S. refusal to aid Jewish refugees or stop the war short of absolute devastation. The evils of eugenics and human experimentation and biological weapons and so forth were on both sides and continued by the United States using former Nazi and Japanese scientists after the war. The creation of the war was foreseen in 1918 by many wise observers, and yet the policies that led to it were never halted. The German people were not assisted until after the second war. But the Nazis were assisted by Wall Street for years and years.

A war is a human-made disaster, just like climate chaos, just like the Miss Italy competition - only just a little bit worse. A war is not an ennobling adventure. Watching lies about it on television is not the same as "living" it would be. War is, in fact, what those unwanted refugees are fleeing. They're fleeing the wreckage of completely unromantic war, created by governments in Washington, Rome, London, and Paris that pretty much view history the way Miss Italy views it.

Jeb Bush’s Son Hiring Friends And Family As Head Of Texas Land Commission

Star-Telegram | September 22, 2015

File - In this Oct. 4, 2014 file photo, George P. Bush, right, reaches to his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush after the senior Bush became emotional when expressing his pride for his son while speaking to supporters at Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas. George P. Bush has been helping members of his famous family get elected since age 3 but has never played a larger role as a political surrogate than this cycle, as he tries to help his dad follow his grandfather, George H.W. Bush, and his uncle, George W. Bush, to the White House. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
File – In this Oct. 4, 2014, file photo, George P. Bush, right, reaches to his father former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush after the senior Bush became emotional when expressing his pride for his son while speaking to supporters at Hardin-Simmons University, in Abilene, Texas. George P. Bush has been helping members of his famous family get elected since age 3 but has never played a larger role as a political surrogate than this cycle, as he tries to help his dad follow his grandfather, George H.W. Bush, and his uncle, George W. Bush, to the White House.
(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Less than a year after being elected to lead the oldest state agency in Texas, Land Commissioner George P. Bush has dramatically remade the General Land Office by ousting most of its longtime leaders and replacing many with people with ties to his campaign and family.

Eleven of the top 18 officials on the agency’s organizational chart a year ago have been fired or forced out or have quit, and more could leave soon in an overhaul that Bush has described as a “reboot.”

In their place, Bush, a former Fort Worth resident, has given top jobs to two of his law school classmates, two relatives of members of two Bush presidential administrations and at least three others with ties to the family or other political leaders.

In all, Bush has hired at least 29 people who worked on his campaign or have political connections, according to a review of thousands of pages of personnel records. The agency did not advertise any of the openings publicly.

“I campaigned as a fiscal conservative with proven experience in the private sector seeking to make government more efficient and responsive,” Bush told the "Austin American-Statesman," adding that he’s taking a “surgical approach to reforming the agency.”

“That means methodically restructuring all areas of operation and keeping high performers who are serving well, while attracting talented professionals to help lead this organization to serve Texans better,” said Bush, who is considered a rising star in the Republican Party.

State law requires all agencies considering external candidates for a job to post the opening with the Texas Workforce Commission. Newly elected statewide officials often ignore the requirement for some core positions. Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller have been publicly criticized for doing it a few times this year.

But Bush’s hiring differs because it is so far-reaching, with hires ranging from a temporary transition director to five campaign veterans hired permanently for the new position of “regional outreach coordinator.”

Bush made many so-called appointment hires before even taking office but has continued them well into this year.

Click on the title above for the entire article.

Donald Trump on Jeb Bush and Florida's Financial Crisis:  He Is Right And Here Is Why ...

September 23, 2015
It has been seven years since Bush left office in the nation's third most populous state, but for many in Florida, Bush's two terms as governor were unforgettable. Bush came to the Governor's Mansion in 1998; a man on a mission. He was short-tempered, brittle and did not tolerate dissent inside his circle.

Today, as a contender to be the GOP nominee for president in 2016, Jeb Bush offers an image that is not so different from the "compassionate conservative" he portrayed himself to be to Florida voters. Today, it is about restoring the "Big Tent" and inclusiveness. But based on his record as governor, Bush was not "compassionate" as a conservative; he was narrow-minded, could be vindictive, and was eager to deploy divide and conquer tactics.

On the campaign trail now, former Governor Bush is trying to rebrand himself, but he can't run out from under his record in Florida. What Jeb Bush claims as achievements has most been taken at face value, at least until recently when Donald Trump found a way to peel back the gravitas. Trump blamed Bush for the Sunshine State's recession woes, saying Bush's policies were "the catalyst for financial disaster." "Politifact," a collaborative effort by the "Tampa Bay Times" and "Miami Herald," took Trump to task for his Sept. 8 tweet:  "Jeb's policies in Florida helped lead to its almost total collapse. Right after he left he went to work for Lehman Brothers - wow!"

"Politifact" elevated (its) gaze on the financial crisis of the late 2000's and concluded that Trump is mostly wrong. From the ground view, Trump is mostly right and it is going to take more than a Tweet to explain why. First, Lehman.

During the Bush years from 1998 to 2008, Lehman - the investment firm whose collapse in September 2008 triggered the financial crisis - was the largest broker to the State of Florida of toxic, derivative mortgage debt.

"Jeb's first consultant job after leaving the Governor's Mansion in 2008 was for Lehman. "At virtually the same time Jeb was set in motion by Lehman Brothers to solicit an equity investment by Carlos Slim, the Mexican multi-billionaire, WCI Communities declared bankruptcy with over $1.8 billion in debt.

The value of the company's stock was halved overnight. The Lehman Brother's collapse cost the state of Florida well over $1 billion." (Florida stands to lost $1 billion because of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, "Tampa Bay Times," June 4, 2009)

The "International Business Times" reported:

"As Jeb Bush oversaw the State Board of Administration (SBA) that runs Florida's massive public pension system, the state shifted billions of dollars into higher-risk, higher-fee alternative investments, benefiting the same sector of the investment industry he would work in upon leaving office.

Many of those state deals delivered returns that fell short of projections. Roughly 20 percent of that system's 53 private investment deals during Bush's governorship went to companies that employed his brother's Pioneers. Those financial firms, in turn, delivered more than $5 million of campaign cash to George W. Bush, the Republican National Committee and Jeb Bush's Republican Party of Florida."("Jeb Bush's Administration Steered Florida Pension Money to George W. Bush's Fundraisers," April 14, 2015)
The state pension fund provides for the retirement of teachers, firemen, and police among other government employees. Using the fund as a political quid pro quo or vehicle to extort campaign cash is a serious matter, but Jeb's relationship with Lehman discloses, what exactly? That the financial services sector takes care of its own. That politicians, when they can, make sure favors they granted are reciprocated once out of office.

Jeb Bush dodged the Lehman Brothers implosion the same way, in 1999, he sidestepped the collapse of Enron and its Azurix subsidiary that had made inroads in Tallahassee along the way to privatize water resource management in Florida. It was a close call; Bush family ties to Enron were much closer than to Lehman Brothers.

There is a lot more than Lehman in the main body of evidence tying Jeb Bush to Florida's boom and bust in the first decade of the 21st century.

Jeb Bush was elected governor in 1998 with no prior experience in public office. He was impatient to start, after an unexpected loss in his 1994 run against the late Lawton Chiles. It is no secret that GOP strategists like Karl Rove had sized up Jeb, not his older brother, to the presidential bid in 2000. Jeb, however, circled in a political holding pattern until he could run four years later.

In the interim he worked for a major developer in Miami, Armando Codina, and burnished his conservative credentials through a non-profit he founded to advance his agenda, the Foundation for Florida's Future:  specifically, how free-market economics and (the) self-interest of corporations could grow the economy faster than any government and especially when unburdened from unnecessary rules and regulations.

Jeb's victories in 1998 and 2002 were supported by Florida's builders and the supply chain required to construct large-scale condo developments and tract housing. He relied on campaign bundlers like Al Hoffman, the chairman of WCI Communities, Inc. - a major condo-and-sprawl developer in Florida that blew up in the financial crash - who was finance chairman of both George W. and Jeb's campaigns.

Florida was the state where the gears of the machine all lined up to mesh Wall Street financial motive with political levers at the most intricate level of decision making, from state authority in land use planning to local zoning. Jeb Bush now paints Florida's rapid growth during his terms as a positive example, but while he was governor, Jeb was the chief advocate for growth at a very severe cost to the public.

Jeb Bush didn't cause the financial crisis, but the policies he advocated as governor - marked by a brittle character and an unwillingness to listen to diverse opinions - and new laws he promoted substantially harmed Florida, pushing the state in directions from which it has still not recovered. Here are a few examples.

Of master-strokes facilitating the housing boom in Florida, one was a new law passed by the Florida legislature in 2002.

HB 813 was called the Everglades Bill because it promised $100 million in state funds towards the multi-billion dollar cost to restore the Everglades. The money for the Everglades came at a cost. There was a hidden kicker in the 2002 Bush bill:  it limited citizen standing, red-lining citizen and civic organizations from access to courts to sue state government over changes to local rules and regulations. It was always this way with Jeb:  what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away.

The purpose of limiting citizen rights was to tip the scales to development in wetlands and farmland so that construction could proceed without the appeal of certain civic groups to the state's growth management law.

Through this bill, Jeb Bush picked winners and losers. The winners would be the compliant; the losers would be those groups who sought protection within state law. Of the special interests Jeb Bush catered to, the one with the most skin in the game of dodging rules and regulations is the leviathan, Big Sugar.

Although Donald Trump has blasted the sugar subsidy in U.S. farm policy, he hasn't captured the extent to which Jeb Bush's political career is entangled with Big Sugar.

In Florida, nearly all the regions that could hold opportunities for massive growth also had significant wetlands protected by law. This is a political fact that eludes most non-Floridians. Where other states are defined by mountains, or plains, or rivers; Florida is defined by water and high volumes of rainfall that nourish its springs, rivers and bays but also the largest mass of wetlands of any state in the nation.

It is said that in Florida, political money flows downhill toward water. Controlling water is a central theme of political life, organizing special interests like Big Sugar that needs its water just right; the right volume at the right time of year, and politics, that uses water supply infrastructure to put its spigots for campaign cash.

State laws protecting water quality and natural resources against rampant growth had been codified by a generation of elected officials in Florida who came of age in the 1960's and 1970's. For these Floridians, the impacts of badly planned growth were cropping up everywhere. A strong bipartisan consensus in the state legislature worked together to pass legislation protecting water resources and quality and natural habitat. Laws like the state's Growth Management Act became models for the nation when they were created but were instantly set up by special interests, land use law firms and lobbyists.

By the time Jeb Bush was elected in 1998, citizen activists were not only well-versed in the failure to protect, they were advocating for stronger governmental enforcement. Jeb Bush had other plans:  to use the rubric of "smaller government" to mask a very deliberate shifting of risk to the taxpayer and away from polluters and industry.

Big Sugar, for example, In 1999 and 2000, had no need to tamper with state legislation. The reason:  the industry, along with government agencies, and conservation organizations were in the process of finalizing a major piece of federal legislation signed into law in December 2000 by President Clinton with Gov. Bush representing the state:  The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Act or Plan (CERP).

CERP was signed in the Rose Garden on the very same day that the U.S. Supreme Court decided the presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. Afterwards, Big Sugar went straight to work in Tallahassee. Its goal - as true today as it was then - is to strengthen defenses of nearly 700,000 acres of sugarcane south of Lake Okeechobee.

Sugar production in Florida is not just protected by corporate welfare in US farm policy, it is a polluting industry protected by inefficient and insufficient law. The main costs of cleaning up sugar's pollution of the Everglades is imposed on taxpayers, who bear the weight in many ways; from the severely degraded River of Grass, to Florida Bay, to the cooperative relationship between state and industry in turning treasured waterways leading from Lake Okeechobee into sacrifice zones for sugar's waste.

For Big Sugar to be maximally profitable requires its full command of Florida's water infrastructure; pitting its profits against the values of homeowners and the water needs of millions of Floridians on both coasts. The industry's strategy in Florida is based on delaying and obstructing governmental interference in order to maximize its profits, for as long as possible. Same as Big Tobacco.

Jeb Bush proved his service to the cause. He recognized early on the political advantage of micromanaging water management.

Big Sugar supported the 2000 federal legislation because the heart of the plan and its largest cost component were 333 aquifer storage and recovery wells (ASR) at a cost of over $2.1 billion. These wells, drilled through Florida's sole source aquifer and into layers below, were intended as vertical storage areas for water that would otherwise require the horizontal plane; surface water storage and cleansing marshes at a scale that would eat into Big Sugar's profits.

Today, fifteen yeas later, only a couple of these wells have even been built, but then - in 2000 - Sugar believed it had the federal government on the ropes with respect to its two biggest problems:  water quantity and water quality.

In order to prevent Lake Okeechobee from flooding sugar fields in the rainy season and have enough water in the dry season for its needs, Big Sugar's plan was to take excess water - measured by the millions of acre feet - and pump it underground. Then, when the water was needed later in year, it would be pumped back out. The only problem:  ASR had never been tried before in Florida on a large scale. (The dismal weakness in the scheme was that the single federal agency with scientific expertise on ASR - the U.S. Geological Survey - was not even consulted on CERP's aquifer-based water storage plan.)

To make ASR workable, in 2001 Big Sugar went to the legislature with Jeb Bush's blessing. Industry lobbyists proposed and Jeb Bush endorsed the weakening of state drinking water standards. (There was, at the same time, a Florida-based initiative to weaken national drinking water standards - ultimately successful - that assured the future of the fracking industry.) The reason Big Sugar needed to lower the state's drinking water standards:  the chemistry of the water that was being pumped down into test aquifer storage and recovery wells had fecal coliform counts that exceeded federal standards, and since the same water meant for the Everglades also ends up in the drinking water supply of millions of Floridians, Big Sugar saw a problem.

The simple solution was to lower drinking water standards in Florida.

That spring of 2001 Jeb Bush faced a firestorm of criticism from nearly every public interest group in the state. One Georgia legislator, when told of the Bush plan, said it was "dumber than dirt".

The public fiasco would not ever again be repeated while Jeb was governor. Fate intervened.

In September 2001, responding to the imminent threat to the US economy by terrorists who used box cutters to crash passengers jets, Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan used the most powerful financial tool in world history - the federal benchmark interest rate - and lowered it to almost zero.

The Florida developers who supported Jeb Bush and George W. Bush understood perfectly well what zero percent interest means:  a gold rush.

In the 1980's and 1990's, Florida's tract housing developers, Jeb's core supporters in his 1998 victory, had perfected their business model; from scraping land of vegetation, to laying electric lines, telephone and roads, to water and sewer, to housing developments where the key to profit was scalability. All of Florida's tic-tac houses and Insta-Gro communities don't look the same for aesthetic reasonsthey had to be the same to fit the mathematic formulas for derivative debt based on mortgages.

Before 9/11, building sprawl was a multi-billion dollar business in Florida for bankers, lawyers, developers and large landowners. After 9/11, it would be a trillion-dollar business so long as regulations didn't get in the way.

In January 2001, only a few months after 9/11, former Orange County commissioner Mel Martinez was confirmed as Secretary of HUD, the key federal agency overseeing housing and issues related to housing financing, through direct investment and supervision of agencies charged with the management of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Martinez told his audience of homebuilders, "Our Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership is the right response at the right time. It is unprecedented in scope and sets out to close the minority homeownership gap by harnessing the resources of the federal government to those of the housing industry."

Its ebullient message frame was "The Ownership Society". It was born in Florida with the full-throated backing of Jeb Bush supporters.

"Politifact" skips past this key point and Donald Trump does, too. Here's "Politifact:"

"So what caused the financial crisis? It was a mix of factors, leading to a perfect storm as home sales peaked in 2005 and 2006. The combination included untested financial regulations, lax lending, overzealous bankers and traders, poor risk assessment, greedy investors, compliant governments on all levels and a global economy looking for easy money. When the bubble burst, Florida was among the hardest hit because it had gained so much during the boom. But observers told us that it is foolhardy to pin the meltdown on any single state official, let alone Bush. The downturn was a nationwide phenomenon, not just a problem in Florida."

The narrative of unattributed blame for the financial crisis misses the manifold ways in which the financial system was geared from below - at the level of state land-use regulations and even lower, at the level of county zoning - to provide fodder for derivative debt that cratered world financial markets.

Jeb Bush fundamentally obeyed the rules of Florida's shadow government:  his role was to facilitate special interests like Big Sugar and his developer pals; they didn't want neighbors from blocking their path to outsized profits.

In the 2002 legislative session, Jeb Bush and Big Sugar succeeded in raising the bar against citizen standing.

Across the state, the Bush initiative was condemned the same way Bush was criticized in 2001 for his effort to lower drinking water protections. Newspaper editorial boards lambasted Bush. The "St. Pete Times" editorial board called it an "unwarranted assault":  "Now, if a developer seeks a permit on a project that threatens to degrade the environment, Florida residents have a reasonable opportunity to oppose the permit. There is no indication that the right is being abused or that developers are thwarted if their projects are responsible." ("St. Pete Times," April 3, 2002)

Big Sugar was committed to expanding its footprint through utilities and infrastructure including rock mines (used to manufacture cement and asphalt) into the Everglades Agricultural Area; all precursor activities to tract housing. State land use planning law could give environmentalists a way to throw up legal roadblocks to Big Sugar's development plans. That's what they targeted.

But that isn't the end of it.

The Jeb Bush 2002 legislative victory against citizens was a dress rehearsal for a 2003 assault on the Everglades Forever Act, the foundation that established both a state and federal pollution standard for phosphorous, a critical fertilizer component used by Big Sugar.

Phosphorous flows off sugar fields through canals and into the Everglades, turning splendid biodiversity to ash. The Jeb Bush goal:  to lower the pollution standard in the Everglades.

In the spring 2003 legislative session, there were more lobbyists than state senators in the hallways of the Capitol in Tallahassee. The key players were two Miami-Dade legislators:  Gaston Cantens and Marco Rubio.

In 2010 Rubio would gain his foothold in the US Senate by money from the billionaire Fanjuls, enraged at GOP Governor Charlie Crist who initiated a deal with US Sugar, a deal that broke Big Sugar's fundamental rule:  no surrender of lands in sugar cane production unless it met their maximum profit expectations. (Recently, Rubio defended the sugar subsidy in the Farm Bill as "a matter of national security".) Cantens is now chief political advisor for the Fanjuls.

In the spring of 2003, Jeb Bush sent his top environmental officer, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs to declaim from the federal court house steps in Miami. Federal agencies supported the changes Jeb Bush sought - Struhs lied - and he promised those changes did not violate earlier law. And they did. It took environmentalists nearly a decade to prove in a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit, that the Jeb Bush law was illegal. (In the interests of full disclosure, I am president of the board of the small Miami-based environmental organization, "Friends of the Everglades," that successfully sued the state of Florida on this issue.)

That moment in 2003 was the high point of the Jeb Bush terms as governor of Florida. In early January, Bush had been inaugurated to his second term in the state capitol. He surveyed the Tallahasee crowd, filled with supporters, lobbyists and donors.

At the very same time in Washington DC, the same political forces were cheering the lowering of mortgage standards so low that anyone whose breath could fog a mirror could qualify for mortgages that would be piled into collateral debt and off-loaded into pension funds like Florida's, derivatives that Alan Greenspan, the Fed Chief, claimed to benefit the economy until they fermented then exploded in 2008.

Florida-based writer Martin Dyckman recently wrote:  "Jeb Bush has a consistent problem with not thinking through what he's about to say." It is not an accident. The problem is that somewhere in Jeb Bush's mind, he disagrees with what he is about to say, himself.

The "Ownership Society," after all, was mostly a scheme to rearrange the deck chairs on a financial Titanic, putting America's middle class at great risk. In the same way, freeing polluters and developers from regulations in Florida turned out to be a recipe for an insular, narrow-minded majority serving special interests to steamroller the public interest. What rankles, still, in Florida is that Jeb Bush as governor brooked no dissent; it was "my way or the highway".

"There will be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society," Jeb lectured his audience during his final inaugural address in 2003, "Than if we can make these buildings around us empty of workers; as silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill."

That is the false narrative. The real narrative is that Jeb Bush helped lead to Florida's financial crisis by weaving an iron curtain around special interests who had pushed him forward from Miami:  Big developers, Big Infrastructure and Big Sugar.

That he was successful in doing the bidding of special interests makes him one of those key actors cited by Karl Rove ("We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." Without A Doubt, by Ron Suskind, "New York Times," Oct. 17 2004); and so, yes, Jeb Bush played a big role in the culture of risk-taking and speculation that brought Florida's economy to its knees in the late 2000's.

Today Jeb Bush is holding up his Florida record as one of unblemished achievement, but he can't sound persuasive because his claims don't bear the weight of fact.

Donald Trump on Jeb Bush is like that first gold miner in the Roaring 40's, with a pick axe, a good arm and a sixth sense where the treasure is; with each swing he's getting closer and closer. He can feel it in his bones. It takes more than a Tweet to tell the Jeb Bush story.

And we keep electing them.

Out and out crooks.

If you're paying attention to their actions.


rjs said...

do we have any idea what that women was shooting at, or was she just trying to prove she knows how to fire a shotgun?

Cirze said...

I always thought that political advertisements like this one meant that they were shooting at you if you displeased them.

It's a tough girl stance.

Very popular in rightwing circles.

rjs said...

i dont think that would play in Ohio...or at least not in the northern part of the state...

that's sarah palin's influence on the party...i guess we should expect to see more office seekers posing with large dead animals they have shot to prove their bona fides...

Cirze said...

And you're not talking Davy Crockett!