You'd think that given the drubbing the South took 150 years ago, the fact that we just swore in a black president and the perception of Confederate flag-wavers as inbred hicks, folks wouldn't want to advertise their love of the Confederacy on a license plate. But they do! And they're suing to get it.
On Jan. 16, gadabout Doug Guetzloe press-released that the Sons of Confederate Veterans are suing the state of Florida to demand their own Confederate Heritage (not hate) license tag to hang on their pickup trucks, right above the Truck Nutz. Last year, a state representative from some county we can't find on the map introduced a Confederate Heritage tag bill, but even the Republican Legislature didn't seem too keen on it. So now, the SCV are shopping for an activist judge to order the Legislature to create the plate.
And lookie here — they're represented by Central Florida's own Frederic O'Neal, who also doubles as Guetzloe's attorney, which means they're almost certain to lose.
And now it's time for another edition of What's Up With Alan™?, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando's favorite congressman, Alan Grayson!
This week's installment finds Alan sanctimoniously berating the vice chair of the Federal Reserve during a Financial Services Committee hearing, a man who is deviously plotting to keep you — and Alan! — from knowing to whom the Fed is lending money. And hey, there's even a YouTube clip of the aforementioned berating on Grayson's website, www.house.gov/grayson. Welcome to the Information Age!
See, over the last couple of months, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve increased by $1.2 trillion, from $800 billion to $2 trillion, and the Fed took that money and lent it far and wide to stabilize the credit markets.
"Which institutions received them and how much for each institution?" Grayson demanded. Fed vice chair Donald Kohn demurred, saying he didn't think it advisable to publish the names of the companies because it might "undermine the utility of the facilities" or some such gobbledygook.
Cue righteous indignation: "Mr. Kohn," Grayson lectured, "you just said that $1.2 trillion has been lent or spent, as the case may be — that's $4,000 for every man, woman and child in this country — don't Americans have the right to know how you spent that money?"
Kohn said sure, you get to know generally where the money's going — as in to what industries and so forth — but the companies all borrowed money with the understanding that they wouldn't be identified. "The purpose of our borrowing is not to support individual institutions, but to support the credit markets," Kohn replied.
Cue disbelief and outrage: "Has that ever happened? Have people ever said, ‘We will not take your $100 billion because people will find out about it'?"
Um, no, Kohn replied; they've never released the names before.
"What gave you the authority to say that? Isn't that something we should be deciding, not you?" Grayson asked condescendingly.
Actually, no, Kohn replied, citing the Federal Reserve Act.
And on it went, with Grayson demanding to know if Kohn thought we folks would be "angry" if we knew where all the money went and Kohn trudging through gamely, though clearly eager to deal with someone other than a freshman legislator trying to prove his mettle.
"We're talking secret payments of $1.2 trillion. I think you need to rethink your approach here," Grayson summed up.
And what do we say? Thanks, Alan, for keeping the bastards in line. Or at least for huffing and puffing so dramatically.
Speaking of Floridians in Congress (again), U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Space, is back in the news, and this time NASA has nothing to do with it!
Instead, on Jan. 8, Nelson introduced Senate Joint Resolution 4, which proposes abolishing the Electoral College — that anachronistic body that elects presidents on a state-by-state basis — in favor of a direct popular vote. What are the bill's chances? Not good. The resolution has yet to find a co-sponsor.
In less groundbreaking news, Nelson also sponsored a resolution congratulating the Florida Gators. It passed unanimously. To review: Football? Fuck yeah! Democracy? Maybe later.
Know how we know that the social climate is already better with Obama? Because we posted an item on our blog titled "Celebrate the legal right to choose abortion," and only a few knee-jerk responses showed up from wingnuts ranting about "infanticide," the "American Holocaust" and the "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act."
As such, Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando's annual commemoration of the Roe v. Wade decision should be more festive this year. In previous years, the event wasn't well-publicized, and because of Bush's air of intimidation regarding all things abortion and his administration's stealthy tactics to erode women's reproductive rights, the attendance rarely filled the room.
But this year, plans call for presentations by PPGO, the ACLU and VOX UCF, plus a rousing game of Choice Jeopardy (not a trademarked game, but it should be). Be in on the fun Jan. 22, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, 1901 E. Robinson St. It's free.
"We're like an average married couple. We ride motorcycles." That was the gist of the League of Women Voters Hot Topics luncheon with power couple Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and his wife, Orlando Police Chief Val.
In fact, the whole Scott-Harris-and-his-mustache—moderated gabfest could have done with a soft focus and a smoke machine, it was so awkwardly romantic. "We like to call them Peaches and Herb," rib-nudged somebody important who shall remain unnamed.
Basically, their pillow talk went on to reveal that even though murders are up, robberies are down. ("We have to celebrate where we can!" Sheriff Demings said.) The phrase "we have to get outside the box" was thrown around with regard to dealing with the flow of illegal firearms.
The dynamic duo did suggest a possible future consolidation of certain services — that worked just swell with the MBI! — and added that transparency would be a focus, even though "most of our employees do exactly what they're supposed to do on a daily basis." Mmmm, doughnuts.
Perhaps most hilarious — and equally disturbing — was the idea that in the face of a crumbling economy crippling the court system, the cops are probably going to be writing more tickets to beef up their revenue streams. Sheriff Demings wanted to make it perfectly clear, however, that there is not and never has been a quota system for traffic fuzz. That was about it for policy, though, as most of the awkward giggling came from everybody's voyeuristic interest in just how often these two sleep together. Grow up, Orlando.firstname.lastname@example.org