Saturday, October 01, 2016

Tasty French Food: a big fat myth. By Geniusofdespair

For one who doesn't want food laced with butter, cream, olive oil and cheese -- and meat drenched in sauces -- don't come to France. My body is crying out for lettuce and string beans with nothing on it. frankly my body can't make up its mind what to do with it and it is not as if you can count on a toilet seat when on the road. I continue to expand and I am not enjoying it. I ordered vegetable soup last night looking forward to a clear broth, and instead got a cream soup.

No TV, except news, and over-rich food can put a damper on fashion week in Paris.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Big Reason To Vote For Hillary Clinton and Patrick Murphy for US Senate in Florida: It is possible to be too late on climate change ... by gimleteye

To call the stakes in the climate change battle, as Betsy Kolbert does in a recent edition of her outstanding coverage of global warming, "a legal thriller" is to know that there are real, hard consequences to the posture -- amongst leading Republicans like Marco Rubio -- that climate change is a hoax.

The stakes for Florida in the upcoming senate and presidential election are that clear. Republicans and independents who fear a Hillary Clinton presidency should pause and consider just how much there is to lose if Donald Trump were to win. Also, consider how Marco Rubio is a barrier to policies that could protect taxpayers and voters.

A Trump presidency is a virtual surrender to a world in which it will be every man and women for themselves. That is, in fact, precisely how Trump sells his "success" in the world of business. He is not about lifting people up, he is about lifting himself and his family up at the expense of those who made legal agreements that he broke. Rubio is just a weathervane pointed in the direction of his biggest campaign contributors.

The window on protecting us from accelerating impacts of climate change is closing fast. President Obama is right: it is possible to be too late.

On that basis and issue alone, Hillary Clinton is the only choice in the upcoming election. By electing Patrick Murphy to the US Senate and defeating Marco Rubio, Floridians could point to the rest of the nation that climate change impacts are so serious we can no longer pretend the GOP has earned the confidence of Americans to control the US Senate. Betsy Kolbert won't say so, but I can.

The New Yorker Magazine
DONALD TRUMP AND THE CLIMATE-CHANGE COUNTDOWN
By Elizabeth Kolbert , 12:01 A.M.

In August, 2015, when President Obama announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan—the centerpiece of his effort to combat climate change—he quoted a speech that Martin Luther King, Jr., gave at Riverside Church, in April, 1967, opposing the Vietnam War. “I believe ‘there is such a thing as being too late,’ ” the President said, in a ceremony in the East Room. He liked the line so much that he repeated it, a few months later, at the opening of the international climate negotiations, in Paris: “For I believe, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that there is such a thing as being too late. And when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us.” Speaking about climate change this past summer, in Yosemite National Park, he invoked it a third time.

The line came to mind yet again this week, when oral arguments against the Clean Power Plan were heard in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Twenty-seven states, led by West Virginia, together with a passel of oil and coal companies, have sued the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the plan from going into effect. There is, indeed, such a thing as being too late, and the plan’s opponents—who were the very folks who made the plan necessary—seem determined to delay until that point, and perhaps beyond it. As Dr. King observed, in a context that was at once very different and not so different, procrastination is “the thief of time.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Secrecy of the State: The Foundation of Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida GOP ... by gimleteye

A sinkhole recently opened under a waste pit owned by one of the state's biggest polluters, a phosphate mining company called Mosaic. For weeks, the company and the state of Florida kept the secret: that hundreds of millions of gallons of slightly radioactive fresh water had emptied from a waste pond into the sinkhole to god-knows-where but likely straight into the aquifer used for the regional fresh water supply.

Gov. Rick Scott is trying to respond ...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Voter Guide: Bullsugar publishes Florida endorsements for the state and counties ... by gimleteye

Voters who need help understanding which candidates for public office support clean water, pay attention: Bullsugar's recommendations provide clear choices in the upcoming November election.

Click here, to learn who Bullsugar endorses and which candidates support clean water and back the acquisition of lands now in sugar production to eventually solve the rampant pollution of Florida's estuaries, rivers, bays and the Everglades.

This is important since Big Sugar is waging a campaign in full view to misinform voters about candidate qualifications for public office. Informed voters are the best antidote to what ails Florida.

Say No to Miguel! Wrong choice. Guest Blog by Juan Cuba


In case any of my friends were even thinking of voting for Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, let me remind you of a few things:

1. He was for open-carry before he was against it. He voted in 2011 for open-carry (SB234) in committee but thankfully it didn't make it to the floor. And despite his best John Kerry impression, that doesn't make him a Dem.
2. He had a 93% rating from the NRA in 2015. That same year he voted to expand "Stand Your Ground" laws that would have shifted the burden of proof, requiring prosecutors to prove why a defendant could not claim the state's SYG law as a defense.
3. He's responsible for the voter suppression laws that reduced the number of early voting days and put unconstitutional onerous restrictions on groups registering voters. The result was 5 to 6 hour wait times in 2012.
4. He's a lobbyist for Academica, the largest for-profit charter school management company, and surreptitiously lobbies for FPL. He blurs the line between legislator and lobbyist constantly.
5. He takes max-out contributions from private prisons. Making a monetary incentive to fill up prisons isn't just bad public policy, it's immoral.
6. And don't let some union endorsements fool you, he's not a supporter of public schools, and voted for Rick Scott's $1.3 billion cut to education & steep cuts to Bright Futures.
7. He's threatening unions that if they don't protect him, then he won't protect them when anti-union Republicans try to end collective bargaining next year. It's essentially a hostage situation, but thankfully some unions are standing up and calling his bluff.
8. He voted for 24-hour waiting periods, imposing religiously motivated government regulations on a personal decision between a woman, her doctor, and her faith.

Did I miss anything? DLP is only #MakingItHappen for his clients and his Republican buddies. Don't vote for him. Vote for José Javier Rodríguez who will fight for our values, even when it's not an election year.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch analyzes political action committee/ Big Sugar's influence in Martin County: how corporations are more powerful than people ... by gimleteye

Gimleteye: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a popular Republican municipal official, was the favored candidate in the recent GOP primary election for Martin County Commission. She was also the pro-environmental candidate running on a platform of fixing the vast pollution caused by Big Sugar's domination of the water management infrastructure in Florida, connecting Lake Okeechobee to Florida's diseased waterways. For her views, she was punished by a coordinated political attack by Big Sugar.

Jacqui lost her primary election, thanks to the mysterious injection of a write-in candidate who was a high school student, and a political assault by Big Sugar, who supported the incumbent, Doug Smith, who has been a reliable mouthpiece for the Big Sugar/ pro growth agenda opposed by most Martin County taxpayers.

Smith nonetheless ran in advertisements and in mailers as "pro-environment" funded partially by Big Sugar through PACs. In the blog post, below, Jacqui outlines the ways that interlocking political action committees are pushing candidates while hiding the source of the money.

Martin County is small compared to Miami-Dade, but over the years it has managed to keep growth-at-any-cost at bay, thanks to the awareness of Martin County voters of the importance of protecting quality of life and the key factor of the local tourism-based economy: clean water.

That is in danger now, thanks to Big Sugar.



Understanding C-PAC, JTL vs the Political Machine-A Retrospective, SLR/IRL


Part #3, PACS
  1. C-PAC
Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch analyzes political action committee/ Big Sugar's influence in Martin County: how corporations are more powerful than people ... by gimleteye

Gimleteye: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a popular Republican municipal official, was the favored candidate in the recent GOP primary election for Martin County Commission. She was also the pro-environmental candidate running on a platform of fixing the vast pollution caused by Big Sugar's domination of the water management infrastructure in Florida, connecting Lake Okeechobee to Florida's diseased waterways. For her views, she was punished by a coordinated political attack by Big Sugar.

Jacqui lost her primary election, thanks to the mysterious injection of a write-in candidate who was a high school student, and a political assault by Big Sugar, who supported the incumbent, Doug Smith, who has been a reliable mouthpiece for the Big Sugar/ pro growth agenda opposed by most Martin County taxpayers.

Smith nonetheless ran in advertisements and in mailers as "pro-environment" funded partially by Big Sugar through PACs. In the blog post, below, Jacqui outlines the ways that interlocking political action committees are pushing candidates while hiding the source of the money.

Martin County is small compared to Miami-Dade, but over the years it has managed to keep growth-at-any-cost at bay, thanks to the awareness of Martin County voters of the importance of protecting quality of life and the key factor of the local tourism-based economy: clean water.

That is in danger now, thanks to Big Sugar.



Understanding C-PAC, JTL vs the Political Machine-A Retrospective, SLR/IRL


Part #3, PACS
  1. C-PAC
Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Debate: Hillary ... by gimleteye

At the end of last night's debate, Hillary was composed. Unfazed. She did not stoop low to Donald Trump's interjections and rambling. She was prepared and at least twice, all she had to say to her audience of millions: "Just listen to him". We did listen. Trump was channeling Sarah Palin: all sound and no sense.

A couple of highlights. Trump kept returning to his talking point on trade deals and jobs: "we are going to bring those jobs back" and "we are going to stop American jobs from leaving, trust me".

On this fundamental Republican point -- that the free market should determine goods, services and jobs -- Donald Trump's brain has left the room. How is China going to stop sending cheap goods that fill our shelves? Trump taxes on Chinese exports? Who is that going to hurt most? Everyone! Starting trade wars is not a Republican Party platform. That's not a position I've even heard about since the 1960s.

Starting a trade war with China and with Mexico -- which Trump wants to do -- is just goofy talk. It is not only a uniquely bad idea, it is an especially bad idea to be poking China in the eye because China has its own contingent of hawkish wackos.

Making goods for Americans more expensive would trigger a global economic crisis, not just instantly drain away a quarter of American savings through a runaway panic in stock markets.

Last night Donald Trump sounded like the national security crisis he is. Think NAFTA was bad for the economy: just wait for this guy who doesn't even run a normal business where, as Hillary pointed out, an honest contract underlies the exchange of goods and services.

By refusing to disclose his tax returns, Donald Trump left himself wide open. Hillary walked her audience through that opening, reasonably listing the likely reasons Trump is refusing to make his returns public.

The passive expression on Trump's face while she did so sent the unmistakable signal that Hillary is right: Trump pays no federal income tax. Trump has claimed charitable contributions that don't stand up to his claims. Trump is in debt, perhaps, to the wrong people.

Trump doesn't have policies. He has phrases. Bits of illogic that fit no pattern except grievances. Trump has the grievance part down, pat.

Hillary was prepared. She was presidential. Trump was, well, a weight the GOP may not survive.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Zika Secrecy: it is not about a mosquito, it is about cancer clusters in Florida ... by gimleteye

An extraordinary Miami Herald report today, "Mayors say state told them to keep Zika sites secret", points in the direction of the Florida Department of Health and the Rick Scott administration's steadfast refusal to disclose information related to cancer clusters in Florida; specifically, rare pediatric cancer clusters.

The state is withholding very important information from citizens, taxpayers and voters because five separate, independent statistical analyses have concluded that cancer clusters are real, and that at least one rare pediatric cancer cluster is in Miami-Dade. The state, in the Herald report, cites the prohibition against releasing public health data for "ongoing epidemiological investigations".

The state's tactic -- secrecy -- is to keep cancer incidence, rates, and locations "ongoing" so that the people running around wearing pink ribbons and jogging shorts aren't also armed with facts.

If the state releases information on Zika sites, it cannot continue to stonewall against release of rare pediatric cancer sites. Right now, the reason that the public is quiet on the cancer cluster issue is that the state will not release the block level census data that would allow -- like with Zika -- a vector map.

The Miami Herald report also catches Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam in a lie. The mayors claim that Putnam was one of the state officials who told them to keep the Zika sites, secret. Now, Putnam appears to be "dumbfounded". (The Herald doesn't call it, a lie.) That's Adam Putnam, who wants to be the next governor of Florida. That's Adam Putnam, who took secret trips to the King Ranch in Texas -- hosted by one of the state's biggest polluters -- and who slammed the door in a reporter's face when questioned.

If you are not outraged, voters and taxpayers, you are not paying attention.

John Scott For FL House District 79: Fort Myers Election Is A David v. Goliath Battle ... by gimleteye

State House District 79 is in Fort Myers. Florida voters are well served to understand a little of what makes Tallahassee tick. This is one race where the choices facing Florida are fully visible. It is a David versus Goliath battle, and I support John Scott, the underdog challenging Big Sugar's salesman in Tallahassee, incumbent state representative Matt Caldwell.


Scott was born and raised in Hialeah. He lives and works as an information technology professional in North Fort Myers and is a volunteer leader for Sierra Club. Although this is Scott's first venture into politics, he has chosen an extraordinarily important challenge against an incumbent who defines  a status quo that is wrecking Florida. On his campaign website, Scott writes:
"... The power and influence of certain special interests over our elected officials has silenced the voice of the people in Tallahassee. I'm running for Florida State House District 79 to be "The People's Voice"." The Caloosahatchee River and our coastal ocean waters are being ruined. Jobs, real estate values, fishing and our tourism industry are all at risk because of terrible environmental policies spearheaded by Matt Caldwell and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. Florida's water and environment should not be partisan issues. I will fight with every ounce of my being to protect the water and natural beauty that makes Florida "paradise". The people of District 79, and all of Florida, deserve better. We all want fairness in our society. Our government should be powered by the people and add value to our lives without over-reaching. I respectfully ask for your vote so I can represent YOU in Tallahassee and NOT special interests who focus on their own agenda while destroying our way of life. Thank you for your support."
There are a thousand reasons that someone like John Scott should be elected to the state legislature, and only one reason he faces a steep uphill struggle. The Goliath is this race, incumbent state representative Matt Caldwell, is a stand-in for polluters threatened by the "Arab Spring" in Florida that galvanized voters on both Florida coasts after historic rainfall in the winter of 2016.

Caldwell lives in Lehigh Acres, the epicenter of Florida's housing boom and bust. The district he represents is bisected by one of our state's badly polluted rivers, the Caloosahatchee. The gunk that flows out of Lake Okeechobee makes its way through the Caloosahatchee and then up and down the gulf coast.

In a political sense, District 79 is like a clamp that holds state water management polices for Big Sugar. If Big Sugar can't hold District 79, there is no telling what could happen to its downstream interests. Predictably, campaign cash -- both in direct contributions and political action committees -- has flooded in to protect Caldwell. What looks on paper as a 10-1 advantage favoring the Goliath in FL House race for District 79 could easily be five or ten times that ratio once political committee dark money is factored in.



Matt Caldwell has raised, by last campaign finance report, $250,000 to Scott's $39,000, mostly small contributions from individuals.


Caldwell's money list is a who's who of Florida's regulated industries. Contributors from his own district are scarce as hen's teeth. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to peel back Caldwell's PAC contributions that legally launder special interest money, with anodyne sounding names.

Caldwell is identified, principally, through a political action committee, the Florida Committee for Conservative Leadership. The PAC is filled with tens of thousands of dollars of contributions from industry trade groups, from Big Sugar and from other Big Ag interests.



One of the Caldwell PAC's largest contributors is another PAC: Floridian's United For Our Children's Future. A quick review of that PAC shows more of the state's largest, regulated industries including Big Sugar. Florida Power and Light contributed $600,000.

John Scott believes that this election cycle voters are paying attention to Florida's water quality crisis. District 79 has been hard hit. Scott hopes Caldwell's financial arsenal -- stocked by corporations and special interests -- will backfire.

On his campaign website, John Scott counts the environment as his number 1 issue: "Our state is supposed to manage water for the benefit of all but water in South Florida is being managed mostly for the benefit of agriculture. ... Billions of gallons of polluted water from Lake Ockeechobee are being released into the Caloosahatchee River on the west coast and the St. Lucie river on the east coast. That highly nutrient loaded, polluted water is spreading through the Gulf, replacing the crystal clear water with a growing plume that looks like an oil spill in our coastal waters and is fouling estuaries around Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva islands. Tourists are staying away. Fishing guides are losing business. Grass beds critical to sea life are being ruined. ... Governor Rick Scott and Representative Matt Caldwell are on the wrong side of history and their policies are putting all Floridians at risk."

John Scott is endorsed by an Everglades hero, former Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah. In 2012, Judah -- then a county commissioner -- was upset as a result of a massive midnight attack by Big Sugar PAC money. Caldwell helped coordinate Judah's defeat. His offense? To advocate for purchase of lands south of Lake Okeechobee owned by Big Sugar, to relieve the pressure of pollution on the Caloosahatchee River; the disaster that turned into a catastrophe in 2016 and motived John Scott to run against Caldwell. In a 2014 Miami Herald editorial, Judah fired back against Caldwell,
The most deceptive and egregious action against taxpayers during the 2013 Florida legislative session was passage of HB 7065 and SB 768, which amended the 1994 Everglades Forever Act. 
Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, sponsored HB 7065 under the guise of increasing the sugar industry’s funding commitment to Everglades restoration when, in fact, his proposed amendment was a smoke screen to ensure that the sugar industry would be able to limit or cap its long-term obligation to fund Everglades restoration. 
The 1994 Everglades Forever Act, which was ostensibly written to restore the Florida Everglades, capped the sugar industry’s clean-up costs at $320 million and obligated the public taxpayers for the remainder of the $16 billion restoration project. The so-called privilege tax of $25 per acre that the sugar industry pays to continue its discharge of pollution runoff to the Everglades, as well as to the Caloosahatchee and coastal estuaries, amounts to about $11 million per year. A truly insignificant sum in contrast to the billions required from the public to restore the Florida Everglades. 
The $25 per acre privilege tax was scheduled to be reduced to $10 per acre in 2017 but the Caldwell amendment extended the $25 per acre to 2026. To the casual observer it would appear that the legislative action would ensure that the sugar industry continued to help fund Everglades restoration. 
In actuality, the legislation provided the sugar industry the comfort level or certainty that its long term-funding commitment towards Everglades restoration would be significantly limited in scope. Instead of defending the sugar industry and suggesting that the taxpayers contribute an even greater amount to Everglades restoration, Rep. Caldwell should have supported an amendment to the Everglades Forever Act that increased the $25 privilege tax. 
This would have ensured that the sugar industry paid its fair share towards Everglades restoration as opposed to the sugar industry continuing to receive special treatment as the Florida Legislature’s favorite welfare recipient and shift the tax burden onto the backs of the public. 
Caldwell is quick to point out that the Everglades Foundation and Florida Audubon supported HB 7065, but the Sierra Club and The Conservancy of Southwest Florida took an opposing position that the legislation did not go far enough to level the funding formula between the sugar industry and the taxpayers for Everglades restoration.
In fact, the Everglades Foundation and Florida Audubon only struck a compromise to support HB 7065 because Caldwell was supporting an earlier version of an amendment that would have greatly weakened water quality standards and removed the 1993 Statement of Principles that had been a guide for restoration efforts over the last 20 years. With the objectionable provisions removed in the final draft amendment, the Everglades Foundation and Florida Audubon were in damage control mode and reluctantly accepted the continuation of an inequitable funding formula for Everglades restoration. 
To put the sugar industry’s $11 million annual contribution to Everglades restoration in perspective, Lee County taxpayers pay in excess of $30 million per year to the Okeechobee levy for work by the South Florida Water Management District in the Everglades Agricultural Area to provide drainage and irrigation of the sugar cane fields south of Lake Okeechobee. Lee County’s return on the investment is polluted water, fish kills and harmful algae blooms including red tide. 
Certainly, the more conservative and responsible approach would be to support public policy that protects the interest of struggling taxpayers and hold the sugar industry accountable for the destruction of precious public resources including the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and coastal estuaries.
Voters ought to carefully consider how the incumbent Matt Caldwell, an avowed conservative, nevertheless violates "the more conservative and responsible approach".

No less a taxpayer advocate than GOP firebrand Grover Norquist calls Big Sugar and its prerogatives, "cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty". There will be no end to the political corruption until voters understand exactly who they are electing to Tallahassee and the state legislature. In District 79 this election cycle, voters do have a clear choice: John Scott.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How Special Interests Defeated A Clean Water Advocate In Martin County ... by gimleteye

Florida's "Arab Spring" -- as a result of massive pollution coursing out of Lake Okeechobee to both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts -- energized tens of thousands of citizens, outraged how their property, neighborhoods, and towns had been turned into sacrifice zones for Big Sugar. Predictably, special interests struck back through the way they know best: how to manipulate money in the campaign finance system to keep dissent in check and the status quo in place.

For the Martin County Commission, the races were settled in the partisan GOP primary election. One of the most qualified candidates for the commission, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch has blogged about what happened to her campaign. She was mugged by Big Money and negative tactics including the recruitment of a high school student to run in the primary. The money is shifted through political committees allowable by law. The tactics are assembled by some of Florida's richest corporations.

Since Citizen's United decisions by the Bush Supreme Court, waves of unlimited corporate contributions have flooded the political process. Political action committees, coordinated by a very small group of insiders based in Tallahassee are boldly sending attack parties into local elections. The first local election this phenomenon was visible was the 2012 defeat of Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah -- a Republican who was taken down by Big Sugar because he strongly advocated for the state purchase of Big Sugar lands in order to protect the economy and natural resources of South Florida.

Florida's "Arab Spring" continues to rely on social media to expand its ranks, but the counter-revolution supported by the state's largest, most powerful corporations, combined with propaganda radiating from the state's water management districts, has the effect of firing warning shots at incumbents and challengers, both.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch's blogs on her narrow defeat are well worth reading in Miami. Educated voters are the only way to address the hijacking of elections in Florida. It is a dark story, and one worth sharing widely.

JTL vs The Political Machine, A Retrospective. Parts 1&2 Write in Candidate & Firefighters Union, SLR/IRL


bcixy1474297494.jpg
Now that the dust is settling, it is important to study and document the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political machine. The narrow loss to 16 year incumbent Doug Smith, by only 677 votes or 2.9% makes the retrospective even more interesting!
As there is such a plethora of material, today we will research only parts #1 and #2: The Write in Candidate (WIC), and the Martin County Firefighters Union. In follow-up posts, we will breakdown the influence and monies of the political action committees and their cohorts better known as PACs.