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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Smirking Chimp - Ed Naha: 'Jeb: The Bush error apparent'

Two relevant quotes from our President: "I think Jeb would make a great President," and "I like a good bologna sandwich." Maybe I should quit, now, while I'm ahead.

Although Governor Jeb Bush of Florida has gone on record as not being interested in a presidential run in '08, just the thought of another Bush in the White House gives one the cerebral equivalent of freezer burn.

Now, a few of you might be thinking: "Okay. He's a Bush. But he doesn't play 'cowboy,' seems kind of jovial and jowly (if you discount his beady eyes) and actually speaks English in a way that doesn't suggest a dyslexic Veg-o-matic. He's not that bad."

Well, boys and girls, he is. Leaving his immediate family's run-ins with the law out of it, ol' Jeb has an affinity for allowing voter purges, championing the rights of the brain-dead (could be a genetic thing), basing his decisions on religious beliefs, ignoring corruption, having children in foster care disappear, attacking public libraries and, like his brother, appointing some of the biggest morons to the most important jobs in his state. He's also one of the original PNAC pack.

Aside from that? He's great. "Read More" click link below


Who could argue with President Bush I, who told Larry King: "This guy's smart, big and strong. Makes the decisions."

By those standards, we'd be better off voting for Hoss Cartwright, the gentle giant.

This year, alone, ol' Jeb has found himself at the center of enough government scandals to make Dubya proud.

For instance, a few months ago, head Department of Corrections honcho James "Jimmy" Crosby got canned after months of rumors concerning corruption. While the rumors were swirling, Jeb counseled his appointee "Don't let the %*&#@ get you down."

Well, it turns out Jimmy was taking kickbacks from a vendor who ran cash prison canteen services. By the time Bush canned Jimmy in February, Crosby had been splitting kickbacks for more than a year with his friend and protege, regional prison boss Allen "A.C." Clark, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville two months ago.

Clark was appointed despite years of internal probes into allegations that he beat inmates, misused inmate labor and requisitioned prison radios to use for private security at Jeb's 1999 inauguration. Bush actually tapped Clark to sit on a committee recommending judges.

Why? Dubya had already hired all the primo screw-ups.

These bozos' kickback payments grew from $1,000 to $12,000 a month. The investigation also spotlighted steroid abuse among prison guards, theft of property, embezzlement from a prison recycling program and no-show employees. When, last year, a reporter asked Jeb about "steroid issues" in the agency, he replied: "That's like, three years ago."


Bush gave Crosby the head Kahuna job in 2003, despite the fact that Jimmy was warden of Florida State Prison back in '99 when inmate Frank Valdes died in his death row cell after a beating. It should be noted that death row cells don't get a lot of foot traffic.

Crosby's replacement, interim Secretary James McDonough has already canned a deputy assistant secretary, four prison wardens, three assistants and two regional directors. (Note: Seven years ago, when running for his first term, Jeb promised "the most ethical administration in Florida history." Maybe he meant "Deadwood history." Oh, yeah, his campaign slogan was "We Can Do Better." Than what? Kafka's "Amerika?")

Having folks "exit, stage right" from Jeb's administration is nothing new. Agency Chief Cynthia Henderson of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who had very close ties to the people she regulated, resigned.

Bush's first 1998 running mate, then-Secretary of State Sandra Mortham, left the ticket amid ethics questions.

In 1999, Department of Business and Professional Regulations Secretary Cynthia Henderson said, "I didn't use my best judgment" after taking an Outback Steakhouse corporate jet to the Kentucky Derby. She was in charge of regulating restaurants, among other businesses. (By the by, Jeb has used corporate jets to travel, as well.)

In 2001, The head of the State Technology Office, Roy Cales, resigned after he was arrested and charged with grand theft. Authorities said he forged a letter to secure a $36,600 bank loan on which he later defaulted. The original document went missing and a jury acquitted Cales.

In 2003, investigators found that former Lottery Secretary David Griffin broke ethics codes by accepting gifts of food from companies doing business with the department. Griffin had already left the position before the investigation began.

In 2004, Department of Children & Families Secretary Jerry Regier resigned after an investigation showed he took favors from contractors.

In 2005, Bush fired Elder Affairs Secretary Terry White after sexual harassment allegations were made against him.

In April, 2006 Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy Tunnell resigned after accusations that he mishandled the investigation into a death at a juvenile boot camp he created when he served as Bay County sheriff. He was criticized for e-mails he exchanged with the current sheriff about the investigation.

And while not illegal, two former department heads raised eyebrows when they resigned to take jobs with companies they contracted with or regulated.

Also this year, a sex for booze scandal was uncovered wherein six male guards were accused of slipping hootch to female inmates in return for hotcha! When FBI and Justice Department agents arrived at the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution to arrest the guards, a gunfight erupted, leading to the deaths of one guard and one agent.

It should be noted that, in 2005, Florida passed a "shoot first and ask questions later" law, stating that any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

Since you can carry a concealed weapon in Florida, it's truly "Deadwood" time! Whoo-hooo. Look at me funny and you're dead meat, Aunt Zelda.

And, then, there are the children. Jeb seems to gravitate towards the unborn and the brain-dead.

In terms of the living, Florida's doing notso hotso. A few years back, a 5-year-old girl disappeared from her foster home and went unnoticed for months. The resulting scandal caused national headlines. A few months later, Jeb and his social services chief declared "success," saying the state had found all but 102 of about 400 foster children who had gone missing. That was back in 2002.

Today? The number of missing foster children has increased as the number of kids in state care has declined.

In terms of the unborn kids? Jeb's on it, guys and gals. When a mentally disabled patient was raped while living in a state home and became pregnant, Jeb appointed a guardian to protect the interest of the fetus, although the woman had not sought an abortion but might have been eligible for one under a legal provision allowing late-term abortions in cases of rape.

"Given the facts of this case, it is entirely appropriate that an advocate be appointed to represent the unborn child's best interests in all decisions," the ol' Jeb said.

The Department of Children and Families initially said it would seek a guardian for the woman's child after it was born, but Governor Bush and Jerry Regier, (then) secretary of the agency, decided that the agency should make the request for the fetus. (I can't understand how Rick Santorum didn't figure into this deal.)

If the disabled mom died while giving birth? Tough noogies, toots. (And she probably egged her attacker on, wearing provocative hospital clothing and all.)

When Terri Schiavo, who had all the vital signs of a block of wood, was the center of national media attention, Jeb was on the case. Big Time. Once a judge had sided with husband Michael to remove Terri's feeding tube, Bush fired off a letter to delay the removal and appoint a special guardian who would "independently investigate the circumstances of this case and provide the court with an unbiased view that considers the best interests of Mrs. Schiavo."

When his letter produced bupkiss, he declared that: "Terri's right to life is violated by the state when the state, acting as her guardian, assumes that her wish to live without artificial sustenance is the same as a wish not to be fed at all."

Again, nada. He filed a legal brief.

"If the guardian (Michael Schiavo) and the courts refuse to entertain such an option (rehabilitation), they are arbitrarily and capriciously depriving Terri of her constitutional right to life," Bush declared, chastising the court.

He, then, tried to get the Department of Children and Families to take Schiavo into state custody. (Maybe they could have just lost her.) That move was stymied, as well, after a tense confrontation between dueling state employees at the hospice.

He then requested that the Florida Department of Children and Families investigate allegations that Terri Schiavo's husband, Michael, abused her.

Blam! He was legally shot down, again.

A bill that would have forced Schiavo's feeding tube to be re-inserted was introduced in the Florida Senate and went down in flames.

With all options dwindling, the governor argued that new information he uncovered suggested that Schiavo's condition might have been misdiagnosed, and that she might not have been in a persistent vegetative state after all. (The medical term? Playing possum.)

"This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action," Bush told reporters.

Well, as it turns out, Jeb was wrong. Michael was right. God, or Nature, put an end to the politicizing.

Oh, there are sooo many fun facts about Jeb.

In 2000 he removed thousands of (mostly black) names from the state voting list in a "felon purge." In turned out, most of them belonged to legal folks who didn't find out that they were barred from voting in the presidential election until they showed up at their polling places and were given the old heave-ho.

Go, team Bush!

He tried the same thing in '04, on the sly. (His move was so rife with irregularities that Ed Kast, the Florida State Director of Elections, abruptly resigned.) A lawsuit by CNN, aided by the ACLU, forced Jeb to make the list public. It had almost no Hispanic names on it (although 11% of Florida's ex-felons are Hispanic) and boasted a couple of thousand names (black) that were legally allowed to vote. In the spotlight, Jeb stopped the purge.

Rep. Henry Waxman, of California, this year, found e-mails from Bush to (then) FEMA director Michael Brown sent last year, pushing for a $236 million (non-competitive) contract for Florida's Carnival Cruise Lines to house Hurricane Katrina victims. (The Carnival bigwig doing the deal, Ric Cooper, contributed $65,000 to his state's GOP in 2002, and $50,000 to the RNC in 2004.) Less than three hours after receiving the e-mail, Brownie okayed the deal. Heckuva job, redux, Brownie.

Jeb tried to lure the prestigious Scripps Research Institute to Florida with $500 million in state and local The basic arithmetic was a bear. In creating jobs for 545 people, with an average salary of $58,000 a year? Try this one on for size. The state's $310 million paired with up to $200 million that Palm Beach County had pledged, amounted to a staggering $935,780 contributed per job. Man, talk about your voodoo economics.

Florida's school voucher system was creamed by Florida's Supreme Court last January. ("A blow to educational reform," Jeb reflected.)

Florida's teacher salaries have dropped.

Florida students ranked last in 2005 among 23 states that gave reading or English language arts tests required for high school graduation, with only 52 percent passing on the first try, the independent Center on Education Policy reported last month.

On the plus side, all the floundering students could spell the phrase: "Snakes On A Plane."

Jeb Bush vetoed library funding in 2006. As part of an unprecedented $448.7-million line-item veto of state funding, ol' Jeb slashed a total of $5.8 million in grants to public libraries, pilot projects for library homework help and web-based high-school texts, and funding for a joint-use library in Tampa.

Jeb Bush, with the support of his appointee Judy Ring, tried to close the state library of Florida in 2003.

And the hits keep on coming. Last month, ol' Jeb issued an executive order suspending Miami City Commissioner Johnny Lee Winton from office after Winton was charged with two felony counts of battery on a police officer stemming from a May altercation at Miami International Airport. Winton, also charged with disorderly intoxication, allegedly got into a fight with police after his flight was canceled.

Last week, Jeb reinstated a death warrant for a condemned killer, despite a 9-0 ruling this year from the U.S. Supreme Court stating that the inmate could challenge the state's method of lethal injection.

Prison officials have scheduled the execution for next month. The attorney for convict Clarence Hill said he would ask a federal appellate court for a stay on the execution so the Supreme Court decision can be carried out.

The best thing that can be said of Jeb?

Florida hasn't unilaterally invaded any other country, as of yet, although with Fidel ill, that could be coming. ("Get the bathtub in the water! Grab a sail! Cannons at the ready! Hoy, hoy, hoy!")

Again, to quote our President: "I think Jeb would make a great President" and "I like a good bologna sandwich."

Well, I like a good bologna sandwich, too, Dubya.

But, in terms of more bologna in the White House?

My vote goes to Oscar Mayer.

The Smirking Chimp - Ed Naha: 'Jeb: The Bush error apparent'


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