Wednesday, March 22, 2017

All Red States are Not Actually Inhabited by Stupid People - Even Though Living in Kansas Would Not Inspire Me. By Geniusofdespair

This map I made based on Washington Post 2015 data shocked me.

Alaska 37
 I just assumed that historically Blue State were comprised of smarter people. (This red blue map is not this election - as we all should know). Apparently I am wrong. The red states are not all stupid.

I put the Washington Post findings on a blue-red map, to see how my theory worked about stupid people,  it didn't hold water. Look at pathetic Florida. How embarrassing.

50 states ranked by intelligence scores

The Washington Post ventured to rank each state based on intelligence. Specifically, the rankings were determined by IQ, 2015 SAT scores, 2015ACT scores and the percentage of college graduates in the state (you can see where all that data came from here.)

Using those factors, Massachusetts came in as the smartest state; Hawaii the dumbest.

Mayor Cindy Lerner, on Facebook: FPL fights to over-ride local government thanks to Miami-Dade state senator Frank Artiles

For those of you who joined in the fight against FPL and their devious efforts to deprive us of Solar access and expansion last year with the No on 1 amendment; we fought and won!

Well FPL is at it again, on another issue that some of us have been fighting for many years; that is the Power plant siting act and their efforts to run industrial size Transmission lines through our neighborhoods and through the Everglades!

The Cities of Miami, South Miami and Pinecrest took them to Court and won. We are finding that our last vestiges of justice these days is with the Judicial branch of government, isn't that the truth! But in an act of incredible hubris, FPL has just filed bills in the Florida legislature, (SB 1048 and HB 1055) to do an end run around our Appellate Court, ( upheld by the FL S CT.). Court victory, and they are racing through the legislature. They would allow the utilities to ignore local government planning and zoning codes that are there to protect our neighborhoods from over reaching by utilities.

You can blame Sen Frank Artiles for standing with FPL and advancing their agenda!

We must unite to FIGHT against the FPL agenda once again. Please contact the Senate Community Affairs committee (Chair is Sen Tom Lee, the bill's Sponsor). Hearing these bills tomorrow , Wednesday.

Also on that committee is my own wonderful Senator, Sen Jose Javier Rodriquez, who has been supporting our side of the fight all along, and Sen Daphne Campbell who unfortunately already voted for FPL previously. Let her hear from you!!

Also let your own legislators know how you feel.

The bills are described below.
1. SB 1048 and HB 1055 limit the ability of local governments protect the health, safety, and welfare of its residents.
a. It expands “development” exceptions thereby no longer requiring the utility companies to comply with local land use and development requirements because construction and operation of power plants and transmission lines are no longer considered “development.”
b. Allows utility companies to be granted variances for the following reason:
“To relieve or prevent hardship of a kind other than those provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b). Variances and renewals thereof granted under authority of this paragraph shall each be limited to a period of 24 months, except that variances granted pursuant to part II may extend for the life of the permit or certification.”
This is a “catch all” provisions that sets no real standards on how to determine whether a variance should be granted and allows for variances to be granted for any reason and can allow
c. The intent of the Power Plant Siting Act and the Transmission Line Siting Act was to balance the need for additional electricity against the need to minimize adverse effects on residents and the environment, without undue conflict with the goals established by applicable local comprehensive plan. These bills prioritize the need for additional electricity over all else and essentially negate the goal of minimizing adverse effects on residents and the environment, to the extent those goals are furthered by the local land use regulations the power companies will now be free to disregard
2. SB 1048 and HB 1055 are in conflict with other priorities of the Miami-Dade Delegation
a. The bills make it easier for FPL to build poles on its preferred corridor which includes the Underline and Ludlam Trail which are seeking state funds
b. The polls range from 80 ft. to 105 ft. and would affect or eliminate the construction of the Underline and Ludlam Trail
3. SB 1048 and HB 1055 do have economic impacts
a. 80 ft. to 105 ft. polls will limit the ability for developers to build on their properties due to the large base of the poles and swaying lines
b. Developers would be forced to pay for the undergrounding of the lines and therefore makes it more expensive to develop properties
c. Underdeveloped properties lead to lower ad valorem tax revenue

Data mining, social media, and "how ignorance became a virtue" ... by gimleteye

A timely and important book review by Michiko Kakutani in the NY Times Book Review explores "how ignorance became a virtue." In her review of "The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters" by Tom Nichols, Kakutani writes:
While the internet has allowed more people more access to more information than ever before, it has also given them the illusion of knowledge when in fact they are drowning in data and cherry-picking what they choose to read. Given an inexhaustible buffet of facts, rumors, lies, serious analysis, crackpot speculation and outright propaganda to browse online, it becomes easy for one to succumb to “confirmation bias” — the tendency, as Nichols puts it, “to look for information that only confirms what we believe, to accept facts that only strengthen our preferred explanations, and to dismiss data that challenge what we accept as truth.”
The missing piece: how private companies engaged in the new "science" of data analytics have been scouring social media like Facebook and Twitter in order to turn "confirmation bias" to political gain. Find fear and anxiety in the voting public, and there is a rich and fertile field to data mine, whether by automated bots, college kids building memes, or boiler room operations in Mumbai or Prague or Moscow.

The most recent episode of the Showtime hit, "Homeland", tracked this plot line: a high-tech boiler room operation in an anodyne office complex somewhere on the Beltway outside Washington, DC, stuffed with young data geeks inventing ID's and pushing out right wing story lines to the gullible public on Facebook.

The irony is not that this plot line was written and produced before the November presidential election of Donald Trump, or that "Homeland" bet the season that a female would be our current president of the United States. The irony is that the Democratic National Committee and its highly paid consultants missed how the Trump campaign deployed data mining to use confirmation bias as a political nuclear weapon. Even a TV show knew, many months before the presidential election. (For a fascinating glimpse, read in Huffington Post "The Blow-It-All-Up Billionaires" by Vicky Ward.)

American democracy is in uncharted territory precisely because ignorance has been made a virtue, not by mistake or circumstance or human nature, but by the very deliberate application of data mining to social media like Facebook and political campaigns.

‘The Death of Expertise’ Explores How Ignorance Became a Virtue
Books of The Times
The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters
By Tom Nichols
252 pages. Oxford University Press. $24.95.

Donald J. Trump’s taste for advisers with little or no government experience; his selection of cabinet members like Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, who have expressed outright hostility to the agencies they now oversee; and the slow pace of making senior-level appointments in high-profile departments like State, Treasury and Homeland Security — all speak to the new president’s disregard for policy expertise and knowledge, just as his own election victory underscores many voters’ scorn for experience.

This is part of a larger wave of anti-rationalism that has been accelerating for years — manifested in the growing ascendance of emotion over reason in public debates, the blurring of lines among fact and opinion and lies, and denialism in the face of scientific findings about climate change and vaccination.

“Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue,” the scholar Tom Nichols writes in his timely new book, “The Death of Expertise.” “To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything. It is a new Declaration of Independence: No longer do we hold these truths to be self-evident, we hold all truths to be self-evident, even the ones that aren’t true. All things are knowable and every opinion on any subject is as good as any other.”

“The Death of Expertise” turns out to be an unexceptional book about an important subject. The volume is useful in its way, providing an overview of just how we arrived at this distressing state of affairs. But it’s more of a flat-footed compendium than an original work, pulling together examples from recent news stories while iterating arguments explored in more depth in books like Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason,” Susan Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason,” Robert Hughes’s “Culture of Complaint” and, of course, Richard Hofstadter’s 1963 classic, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.” Nichols’s source notes are one of the highlights of the volume, pointing the reader to more illuminating books and articles.

Nichols reminds us how a “resistance to intellectual authority” naturally took root in a country, dedicated to the principles of liberty and egalitarianism, and how American culture tends to fuel “romantic notions about the wisdom of the common person or the gumption of the self-educated genius.” (Though the country, it should also be remembered, was founded on the Enlightenment principles of reason and an informed citizenry.)

Nichols argues that the “protective swaddling environment of the modern university infantilizes students,” and suggests that today’s populism has magnified disdain for elites and experts of all sorts, be they in foreign policy, economics, even science.

Trump won the 2016 election, Nichols writes, because “he connected with a particular kind of voter who believes that knowing about things like America’s nuclear deterrent is just so much pointy-headed claptrap.” Worse, he goes on, some of these voters “not only didn’t care that Trump is ignorant or wrong, they likely were unable to recognize his ignorance or errors,” thanks to their own lack of knowledge.

While the internet has allowed more people more access to more information than ever before, it has also given them the illusion of knowledge when in fact they are drowning in data and cherry-picking what they choose to read. Given an inexhaustible buffet of facts, rumors, lies, serious analysis, crackpot speculation and outright propaganda to browse online, it becomes easy for one to succumb to “confirmation bias” — the tendency, as Nichols puts it, “to look for information that only confirms what we believe, to accept facts that only strengthen our preferred explanations, and to dismiss data that challenge what we accept as truth.”

Citizens of all political persuasions (not to mention members of the Trump administration) can increasingly live in their own news media bubbles, consuming only views similar to their own. When confronted with hard evidence that they are wrong, many will simply double down on their original assertions. “This is the ‘backfire effect,’” Nichols writes, “in which people redouble their efforts to keep their own internal narrative consistent, no matter how clear the indications that they’re wrong.” As a result, extreme views are amplified online, just as fake news and propaganda easily go viral.

Today, all these factors have combined to create a maelstrom of unreason that’s not just killing respect for expertise, but also undermining institutions, thwarting rational debate and spreading an epidemic of misinformation. These developments, in turn, threaten to weaken the very foundations of our democracy. As Nichols observes near the end of this book: “Laypeople complain about the rule of experts and they demand greater involvement in complicated national questions, but many of them only express their anger and make these demands after abdicating their own important role in the process: namely, to stay informed and politically literate enough to choose representatives who can act on their behalf.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#Trump Making America Great Again #sotiredofwinning ... by gimleteye

@realDonaldTrump Making America Great Again. #sotiredofwinning


Friday: pressure Rubio through big spender and supporter Norman Braman. By Geniusofdespair

I like this idea. Marco Rubio is MIA but his biggest supporter Norman Braman is right there at 2020 Biscayne Blvd. Activist Marvin Dunn has called for us to meet there on Friday at noon. I will be there Marvin.

Where’s Marco?

Several weeks ago, representing a group of about 50 people, I sent a letter to the senator’s office requesting a meeting. The letter was ignored. I sent another letter that also was ignored. This is unacceptable from an elected official.

Consequently, our group, Team Preserve America, is sponsoring a “Where Is Marco?” rally just after noon Friday, March 24 at the Braman car dealership at 2020 Biscayne Blvd., in downtown Miami. Norman Braman gave millions to Rubio in his failed bid for the presidency and remains one of his chief financial supporters. That makes Braman a player. We hope that Braman can convince Rubio to come out of hiding and meet with his constituents.

It is regrettable that citizens have to do this in order to be heard by their representatives in Washington. America is at a dangerous crossroad. Those who are concerned, if not scared, should do more than complain. Get up and do something!

Marvin Dunn, Palmetto Bay

More from FPL (Florida Plunder and Loot) ... by gimleteye

They do it, because they can. At the state capitol -- that distant land of Tallahassee where no sunlight shines -- FPL is pushing to unravel a judicial ruling that nixed FPL's plan to put high transmission lines along heavily urbanized US 1. The lines are need for two new nuclear reactors that in all likelihood will never be built.

That's right. N-E-V-E-R B-E B-U-I-L-T.

Toshiba, in Japan -- as a result of the Fukushima disaster -- just placed its nuclear division into bankruptcy. So the division -- Westinghouse -- owned by Toshiba, will not be initiating any new reactor projects like the one for which FPL already spent hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars.

Why? Why? Why?

A big part of the reason is that FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy, is immune to shareholder action. Like any protected monopoly, FPL benefits top line executives who earn millions in compensation thanks to corporate welfare approved by GOP and Democrats. Early cost recovery for the two new nuclear plants accounts for more than $100 million of our money in FPL's pockets, each year.

A portion of that money is being spent on "legitimate" expenses toward the nuclear reactor planning, like the transmission line issue. A portion of that money enriches FPL brass. Last year a court ruled against FPL's plan. So what did FPL do? It invested in a state legislative workaround of local authority.

Isn't it interesting how Republicans are ALL FOR LOCAL CONTROL except when it comes to protecting the interests of big campaign contributors like Florida Plunder and Loot?

FPL bill passes committee, despite opposition from Miami officials

By Bruce Ritchie
03/20/2017 06:15 PM EDT
Despite opposition from the city of Miami, a House bill that would exempt utility transmission lines from local government development regulations cleared its second committee stop on Monday.

Florida Power & Light Co. requested HB 1055 after an appeals court overturned a Cabinet decision involving two proposed new nuclear units at the utility's proposed Turkey Point power plant in Miami-Dade County. FPL argues that the Public Service Commission rather than local communities has exclusive jurisdiction in deciding whether transmission lines must be buried.

Rep. Clay Ingram, a Republican from Pensacola and bill sponsor, said the PSC should have that authority because of the potential cost to customers from having to bury transmission lines.

But Miami assistant city attorney Kerri McNulty argued that the bill was an expansion of the exemption under state law dealing with a variety of development regulations. The city had challenged the Cabinet's approval of the transmission lines from the proposed nuclear units.

"They (bill supporters) are basically trying to unravel the entire court case and what they were being subjected to having to do with about 30 miles they were trying to build in suburban and urban Miami-Dade County," she said.

The bill and its companion in the Senate passed its first committee stops last week without opposition votes. On Monday, HB 1055 passed 14-1 with one more committee stop remaining.

To view online:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Impeachara ... do you need some too? ... by gimleteye

For Mayor of Coral Gables: Jeannie Slesnick ... by gimleteye

As a longtime resident of Coral Gables, I recall the Raul Valdez Fauli years as mayor. Enough. Here is a FB post and support offered by M-D County Commission Daniella Levine Cava:

City of Miami Election is November 7th. By Geniusofdespair

Really, Bruno Barreiro's wife or a warmed over Mayor for District 3 in the City of Miami?

Qualifying for this election isn't over till September 23rd but there are already people registered to run.

For Mayor so far, we have Robert Ingram Burke, Christian Canache, Francis X. Suarez.

For District 3 - Frank Carollo is termed out - we have Zoraida Barreiro ($66,165), Alex Dominguez ($4,650), Olidia Lee Hernandez ($1,000), Alfonso M. Leon ($37,125), Miguel C. Soliman ($27,530), Daniel Suarez ($55) and Joe Carollo ($64,150).

For District 5 there is Keon Hardemon. He has already collected $178,734.44 as of Feb. 28th. I would like to know why his address is blocked out on the campaign reports.

There is also a PAC for a Stronger Miami ( I hope this has nothing to do with a Strong Mayor, if it does, don't vote for it, we learned our lesson with the County on this one).  Jose Riesco is the Treasurer. Miguel Del Rivero is the Registered Agent. I don't see any money yet.

Joe Carollo counts as his donors, Kendall Coffey, Jacob Sopher who gave $4,000 if you include the corporations (the parking lot Sopher) and $5,000 from Century -- again many corporations, and Braman appears to be backing him big $8,000. Joe Carollo is rumored to have helped Carlos Gimenez in his Mayoral campaign.

Zoraida Barreiro has Juan Mayol, Miguel DeGrandy, Lasarte Law Firm, M& J Development and its Corporations $5,000, Jeffrey Berkowitz and Corps. $5,000 among others.  Zoraida is Bruno's wife. OMG. Really.

Miguel C. Soliman got $10,000 from Adonel Concrete (Luis Garcia).

This District 3 will be a hard choice.

Former Mayor Joe Carollo was fired as Doral City Manager in  a heated display. He now wants to run for his brother's seat on the City Commission.

In District 4 there is Tony J. Diaz, Manolo E. Reyes, and Ralph Rosado. That is for 2019. Although if Frances Suarez has to resign to run, it would be in 2017. I like Ralph.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Two Faces of the Same Story: Hidden money in political campaigns is badly damaging democracy ... by gimleteye

EOM has written at length on the impossibility of tracing political contributions in Florida from the state's largest regulated entities like Big Sugar and FPL. The damage to democracy is incalculable, from a campaign finance system that obscures the source of money and, thus, the intent of multi-million dollar campaign contributions. The disaster manifests from the White House down to local municipal and county races in Florida.

MARCH 19, 2017 6:00 AM
Will legislators lift the veil on ‘dark money’ in Florida politics?

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

The ritual is so routine it hardly draws attention but, in the ramp-up to the annual legislative session, Florida’s most politically powerful corporations seed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash into the political committees of legislators.

... But getting all the details on who got what is impossible. Florida law allows groups that accept contributions from corporations to legally distribute money to other political committees, including those controlled by legislators, without reporting the original source of the cash. The practice of shielding political spending from public view has fueled the “dark money” trend in politics that has allowed groups to launch political attacks in state and local campaigns without fear of being traced.

Read more here:

New Anti-Protesting Legislation: A Deeper Look
It's important not to let the wave of state bills trying to criminalize protests frighten us away from pushing back at every level.


This post originally appeared at National Lawyers Guild.

In recent weeks, multiple articles have pointed to the wave of new anti-protesting bills introduced in state legislatures since the end of 2016. The Intercept, The Washington Post, AlterNet, Democracy Now! and other news outlets have provided overviews of the types of bills under consideration, the potential chilling effect on protests and the unconstitutional nature of these measures. Because NLG has a long history of protecting the right to dissent, we offer the following summary and observations based on decades of experience providing legal support to social movements and monitoring the policing of protests.

The current round of legislation — introduced by Republican lawmakers in 19 states — attempts to criminalize and penalize protesting in various ways. Many states are drafting bills to increase fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic (Minnesota, Washington, South Dakota, Indiana, Florida, Mississippi, Iowa), tampering with or trespassing on infrastructure such as railways and pipelines (Colorado, Oklahoma), picketing (Michigan, Arkansas), wearing masks (Missouri) or refusing to leave an “unlawful protest” (Virginia). Particularly alarming are bills removing liability from drivers who “accidentally” hit and kill protesters (North Dakota, Tennessee, Florida). A bill in Indiana initially instructed police to clear protesters from highways by “any means necessary.” Other legislation has proposed labeling protests as “economic terrorism” (Washington, North Carolina), charging costs of policing to protesters and organizers (Minnesota), allowing businesses to sue individuals protesting them (Michigan, Colorado), and using anti-racketeering laws to seize assets of protesters (Arizona). A bill in Oregon would require public community colleges to expel students convicted of participating in a “violent riot.”

Some articles portray the recent increase in legislation targeting protesting as a result of the large and almost daily demonstrations since the inauguration of Donald Trump; however, others are careful to note that this trend began before Trump took office.

Some articles portray the recent increase in legislation targeting protesting as a result of the large and almost daily demonstrations since the inauguration of Donald Trump; however, others are careful to note that this trend began before Trump took office. Bills in Washington, Minnesota, Michigan and North Dakota (some of the earliest) were clearly introduced as a direct response to the labor movement to raise the minimum wage, the resistance by indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock and demonstrations that erupted in relation to police killings as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

While this trend of targeting protesters began before Trump, the current conditions are favorable to repression of First Amendment activity. Taken together, Trump’s three executive orders on policing, the large number of state legislatures dominated by Republicans, the pro-policing and pro-business attitude of the current administration, and the constant and growing spontaneous demonstrations protesting Trump all combine to produce an atmosphere in which many powerful interests have a stake in suppressing mass dissent.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

These two together in the same room make me shudder. By Geniusofdespair

George Washingon: "I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."

This is from the Conservative leaning New York Post, I specifically choose them so the Conservatives wouldn't say "Fake New":

President Trump did not extend his hand to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s in a Friday Oval Office photo op, a courtesy he usually extends to foreign leaders visiting the white House.

Trump sat next to Merkel in front of a fireplace for the brief photo-op.

“Very good,” Trump said to assembled reporters when asked about what the two leaders discussed. “Lots of things.”

“Very good, thanks,” Merkel said in German.

But Trump hardly looked at Merkel and, when the photo op ended, didn’t move in for a handshake.

Look at this body language at the news conference photo-op. (P.S. turn the volume down during the annoying ad):  Link to video

On another note -- musical note -- far more entertaining:

Here is the Women's Anthem (Milck was the special guest at the ACLU Meeting) I bought the song from ITunes. I hope all women do....and men.