The Salting of Florida: And Not a Drop to Drink

June 28, 2011

Drought, wildfires, floods. The first three minutes of network news is like a TV primer from the Book of Revelations. Al Gore, in Rolling Stone, was inventor of that line, but at some point in the not-so-distant future, destroyed drinking water wells in South Florida could be on Nightly News. And if Al Gore is still with us, the shot wells scattering chaos in the nation’s presidential bellweather state will not go unremarked. Florida’s threatened drinking water supply is a stark reminder of Gore’s 2000 loss in Florida. Fearing dissent in his own ranks on policies governing growth and the environment, Gore retreated. Today there is no doubt, none at all, that water management has put South Florida property owners into the path of fresh water at the price of gold or a modern Exodus. This is the dirtiest little secret in Florida and why the dying Everglades are a potent symbol of politics in America today.

For decades in Florida, elected officials supported more growth and development and agriculture than our aquifers could reasonably sustain. It is not conjecture. It is not smarmy, feel-good ethos. Within government agencies, scientists, policy makers and attorneys treaded on the subject like walking on egg shells. Early on, it was established that standing up to the destroyers on water supply or water quality issues was the fastest way to lose one’s job. Sugar billionaires, their lobbyists, builders and developers and trade associations like Miami’s Latin Builders Association had the inside track in the inside hallways of government: from the White House to the lowliest office of the county commission. It is still going on. Last week, Florida’s Jack-Ass-In-Chief Barney Bishop– the Associated Industries leader, a self-described “life-long Democrat” (who led the successful effort to dismantle Florida’s growth management agency), appeared on Fox News, calling out the U.S. EPA for “killing jobs faster than President Obama can create them”. Bishop, a carpetbagger if there ever was one, has prevailed on Florida Governor Rick Scott to push back against federal authority to regulate nutrient pollution where the state won’t: overwhelming Florida’s valuable rivers, estuaries and coastal real estate values. To round up the disaster, after so many decades, in a pithy “killing the goose that lays the golden egg” puts an unforgivable smiley face on abject corruption. Read the rest of this entry »


The Real Rubio: He’s No Outsider

June 23, 2011

In a June 19th column, “Rand and Rubio”, NY Times columnist¬†Ross Douthatwrites, “As The American Spectator’s Jim Antle pointed out last month, Rubio and Paul have followed similar paths to prominence. Both were discouraged from running for the Senate by party leaders.” While Doughat’s editorial doesn’t amplify the assertion — that now US Senator Rubio was an “outsider”–, quoting the Spectator in this case shows how the media can echo a deliberate evasion until it carries the imprimatur of truth. Since Rubio is being cultivated by insiders to run on a future presidential ticket, as carefully as a hothouse rose, the point must not be lost.

There is no evidence — none– that Marco Rubio was “discouraged from running for the Senate by party leaders.” The opposite is the case. In 2010, then Florida Governor Charlie Crist ran as the outsider, carrying a moderate Republican wing grafted onto the state GOP with baling wire and chewing gum. Rubio represented the core of the Florida GOP that bided its time until the dagger could be firmly inserted in the Crist Senate campaign and twisted on the way out. Crist, the anti-Bush, got what was coming to him and the US Senate got a Manchurian candidate.

There are reasons right wing strategists prefer to paint Rubio as an outsider. For one, it positions him “to the rescue” of the party. To suggest Rubio is a populist coming in from the cold is rubbish. One thing the Republicans do well is get their message frames straight: Rubio plays well to TV cameras, he delivers sound bites flawlessly (without question by the mainstream press) and can garner the short attention span of the Tea Party that is, itself, moved by the GOP like a herd of cattle to the sound of a cannon.

The best way to understand the GOP in the United States is by comparison to Russian nesting dolls. In Rubio’s case, he fits in neatly somewhere in the middle sizes where the doll he nests within would be a figurine of Jeb Bush. Outsider? Not by a long shot.