Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Bad Ju-Ju of Jeb Bush... by gimleteye

A Miami Herald news report highlights the possible bid by former Governor Jeb Bush to fill the US Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez. In The Hill, Al Cardenas, "a two-term chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and one of Bush’s closest friends (says,) “He’s been really disappointed with the party’s performance, and he sees this as a chance to reinvigorate it and help it follow a new path. This is a call to arms for him.”

This notion of a Terri Schiavo-esque intervention is in line with Jeb's personal drama that all along it was he, not Newt Gingrich or his incurious brother, who was originally meant to lead the Party from the Clinton-era wilderness.

But this is not a view widely shared. The succession of Bush by current Governor Charlie Crist was greeted with a palpable sense of relief. Huffington Post writer Bob Fertik is mistaken to write as he did yesterday; "Will Jeb Bush lead a Southern Republican Rebellion Against Obama"? "A Martinez resignation would allow Gov. Charlie Crist -- another close ally of Jeb -- to appoint Jeb as the replacement Senator."

Governor Charlie Crist is not a close ally of Bush. From the beginning, Crist has been fighting off the remnant soldiers of the failed Bush terms.

"All of us will lay down for Jeb," says former House Speaker Allen Bense. But the Florida economy, now buckling under the weight of the worst housing market crash since the Depression-- is the fruit, to a large extent, of laying down before the anti-regulatory 'wolf in sheep's clothing' of the Bush era.

For most Floridians, the Bush "my way or the highway" tenure in Florida was a disaster. Crist is at the unlucky end of the housing market inflation propelled by the radical pro-growth agenda of Jeb and his campaign supporters from the construction and building industries. And it is on the record of that radical agenda--and its devastating results in Florida, to the people, the environment, and the economy-- that a Jeb Bush senatorial bid would be judged by voters.

Bush loyalist Al Cardenas told The Hill that Jeb "wants the Republican Party to re-examine its philosophical roots, cleanse itself of ethical improprieties and redouble its outreach efforts to Hispanic and younger voters." The Hill doesn't mention that the very ethical improprieties the Republican leadership has been marked for are represented by another former House Speaker, John Thrasher, who is given the last word: “I think he (Jeb) thinks that the Senate may be the place to be to do those things... For someone to stick a flag in the ground and say ‘This is what we stand for.’”

Here is one example of what Thrasher and Jeb Bush stood for: the permission of a major polluter to build a cement plant on one of Florida's most treasured places, the Ichetucknee River. "Four years after Gov. Jeb Bush canoed the aqua-blue Ichetucknee River and vowed to protect it, his administration is (permitting) a nearby limestone mine to grow by eight times despite ongoing environmental violation. Among those who tried to stop the plant, there's bitterness about allowing heavy industry in one of Florida's finest places." ("Mine to grow near pristine river", St. Pete Times, May 25, 2002) "The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued the cement plant permit in secret negotiations with the company, prompting charges of back-room dealing. The company's chief negotiator was Steve MacNamara, a top aide to then-Florida House Speaker John Thrasher. DEP staffers later complained that they thought MacNamara was representing Thrasher, and didn't know he was also on Anderson Columbia's payroll. The state Ethics Commission found probable cause that MacNamara violated ethics laws."

The Ichetucknee is only one example how an anti-regulatory fervor that Jeb Bush embraced stoked the flames of the housing boom and asset bubble whose wreckage is now scattered across the Florida landscape. Another is the background of staunch Bush ally Al Hoffman, a former chairman of both Jeb and George W. Bush campaigns, whose former company-- WCI Communities, Inc.-- is bankrupt.

In The Miami Herald today, Hoffman says, "There isn't a person in Florida that doesn't know Jeb Bush and know that he is own man, his own thinker, is own innovator..." said Hoffman. "I'd be the first to line up with his supporters." In 2002, Hoffman bubbled to The Washington Post about suburban sprawl, "You can't stop it," said Al Hoffman, the most influential developer in a state crowded with influential developers. "There's no power on earth that can stop it!" Strange, how reality works.

The Post went on: "The market is so hot that some builders start moving dirt without permits because fines cost less than brief delays. WCI had seven pages of ads in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, promoting $5 million estates and $11 million penthouses. ... Last year, even Jeb Bush's developer-dominated Growth Management Commission -- led by an Orlando politician named Mel Martinez, who is now President Bush's housing secretary -- agreed that traffic, crowded classrooms, water shortages, pollution and other sprawl-driven ills are "growing problems in the state."

In Homestead, Florida-- where one of Hoffman's early developments, Keysgate, is located in former farmland edging the Everglades now dotted with thousands of foreclosures-- an anonymous resident recently posted to in the aftermath of the Jeb Bush era: "CiXeL 21 points 1 day ago* [-] when i first moved down to homestead/florida city (down at the tip of florida) in 2005. i went to the walmart and was shocked to see an entire line of people in the checkout line holding welfare cards, rolls of 20 dollar bills and a credit card. it seemed like the most massive fraud ever. i wouldve killed to have had a camera handy to take a picture of it. i remember talking to our neighbors who told us that they had deals worked out with their employers to get half their pay in cash and half as a check so that they could qualify for section 8 housing and thats how they could afford to live there. we moved a little further north but the fraud down here is still rampant. my girlfriend's boss tells her coworkers how to commit car insurance fraud by getting full coverage and then having your friends dump you car in a canal and then you report it stolen. nice. fraud is like pervasive in the society here its insane. its gotten a little better. you see alot less cars now without license plates since the police are doing a better job I imagine."

This is how the "ownership society" is panning out, in Florida where ten thousand suburbs bloomed under Jeb, helping to propel the nation into an economic crisis. Today, production homebuilders, Jeb Bush's strongest supporters, are begging Congress and the US Department of Treasury for bailouts, tax relief, and incentives to get the nail guns going again. A Bush campaign for Senate in Florida will be a reactionary backlash by "free market" freeloaders who believe in restoring a failed ideology: anti-regulatory, pro-growth at any cost and meant to be the foundation for Florida's future.

This is what a Florida Senate campaign by Jeb Bush would represent: a state-based experiment for the nation that George W. Bush failed and his younger brother imagines he can redeem.


Anonymous said...

Jeb would be a nightmare for this State. He was one of the worst governor's ever! I hope the Bush name has lost it's luster in Florida.

Anonymous said...

I get sick, very sick, just thinking of Jeb Bush coming back. It is a nightmare. He was so bad for the citizens of Florida.

Anonymous said...

The builder's would all throw money at him. Lobbyists would dance in the streets to raise money for him.

I actually thought that this would be Alvarez's next position, if he didn't get Lt. governor.

Anonymous said...

When the name Jeb Bush comes to mind, the constituency shoud think of these words: Sub-prime. Futhermore the mess that this country is in is attributed to Jeb Bush. Why in the world would anyone want to hear the name Bush? The country has just been through a nightmarish eight years, and I hope the people in Forida wil have better sense to put another corupted Bush in office.

Steve in Manhattan said...

No member of this hideous family must ever hold public office again. Think of what they've done - from Clarence Thomas to the rape of the Bill of Rights to the heaps of dead soldiers and innocent Iraqis, they can't ever hold the reins of power again.

Anonymous said...

We live one mile down the road from an exmaple of the greed and hubris from these greedy thugs.

St.Joe/Arvida just went ahead and bulldozed five acres(aprox) of the last remaining unspoiled land before crossing over the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

They bought and tore down a Leverock's resturant, and left marina and gas station empty, and open to gang grafitti, as the bust came along and left the developers high and dry.

It just sits, with a gaping hole of a faux lake, and acres of badly scarred, bull-dozed, barren land just begging to reincarnate to the sanctuary it was to all the furry and winged creatures that once flourished there.

The mayor of Bradenton had his fingers in the pie, too.

NO MORE SONS OF any way, shape or form. I will campaign to the ends of the earth to keep these greedy pigs from destroying our state and country.

BAD JU-JU of the first degree!!

Alicia Morgan said...

I left Florida in '87, before the carpetbagger Bush barged in. I used to inner-tube and swim in the Ichetucknee all the time. What a heinous thing to do. I've been saying for years, "Don't count Jeb! out. He's waiting in the wings." He just has to wait until the stench of his brother's occupation of the White House dissipates a little bit.

Unknown said...

If you have not done so already, read AMERICAN DYNASTY by Kevin Phillips. The focus is on both presidents Bush and just how awful they are as people and as "leaders".
Jeb Bush would be more of the same. Let's hope the voters have figured out just what a pox that family has been on the soul of this country,

Anonymous said...

He is known for his work in creating a sub-class of young people in the state by creating and enforcing high stakes testing with the FCAT. We now have a whole generation of young people, who can't go to college, can't go the military, can't get jobs, and will permanently need public assistance for day-to-day survival. He was a miserable governor. I hope the Reagan Democrats feel good being back home again in the democratic party and won't venture out there again with Jeb. But given our current President Bush, and all the messes he has left for others to clean up, why would anyone who loves this country ever vote for a Bush again?