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Magic Fans are Dumb Pricks

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Did the title get your attention? It was supposed to. Let me clarify something here; I do not have a problem with all or even most Magic fans. I do not specifically hate Magic fans as opposed to other basketball team’s fans, I just happen to live in Orlando, and we just happen to be the finals. I have been to Magic games and cheered for them, but my recent experiences with Magic fans have been anything but pleasant.

Recently a small contingent of United Students Against Sweatshops have come to Orlando to raise awareness of the NBA’s deal with notorious sweatshop exploiter Russel Corporation. Obviously the most influential constituency in getting the NBA to renounce sweatshop labor would be basketball fans. I think you can see where this is going.

I joined the USAS with my friends from the University of Central Florida Student Labor Action Project (UCF SLAP) to hand out fliers to people going to the Magic game last Sunday. It was perhaps one of the most depressing, if not the most depressing demonstration I have ever been involved in. In less than two hours I received a powerful lesson in some of the most troubling ailments of American democracy.

Orlando is already a very inhospitable place for activism of any sort, and is not only where people come to die, but where culture dies as well. About 30% of the population of Orange county (Orlando, Florida’s enveloping county) moves within one year, so in addition to the elderly migrants there are plenty of younger people who don’t care about the community around them as well. Too many people seem to come to Florida for the two reasons Tiger Woods claims to have, virtually no taxes and golf. Why care about the decay of society around them, they can afford to play golf!

It was already depressing that one of the last outposts of civic society is a basketball stadium. And while there is nothing wrong with a basketball stadium, they certainly shouldn’t be replacements for the town square. Yet in a town as spread out, suburbanized, and stucco scorched as Orlando, the Amway (*gag*) stadium was the last place to make contact with other people. Not that anyone wanted to make contact with us!

I understand that people came to the stadium to watch a basketball game, and its not like I feel like they had to pay attention to us. I might morn the passage of democratic responsibility and civic space, but the benefit of the town square was that you were simply exposed to politics and culture, not forced to participate. What bothered me was the open disdain people had for us, when all we were doing was handing out fliers. Not engaging people in conversation, simply offering a small sheet of paper to passerbys. It was already noxious enough that the last recourse of civic culture was a basketball stadium, I didn’t need snide douchebags passing by and making jokes about protesting sweatshops.

I could have probably tolerated just that, but there was something even more hideous. We had to be quarantined in an area away from the stadium, because the stadium was Amway property. It might not sound like something to be upset about, its their property right? Wrong!

Recently Orlando’s bumbling city council lead by the fat fool (who’s neck blinks more than his eyes do) “Buddy” Dyer made a giant investment into building a new arena for the Orlando Magic with tax payer money. Because instead of the myriad other potential uses for our money, apparently it was far more important to spend upwards of 500 million dollars to build a new stadium to replace one that is barely twenty years old for a billionaire who runs a corporate pyramid scheme. Out of the total cost of the stadium, the Magic have only ponied up at most 70 million, less than 15 percent of the upfront cost of 480 million. In addition, the billionaire owner of the Magic, Rich “Douchebag” DeVos, used the stadium as a protest venue for a group promoting the gay marriage ban (you can read more about all this in Dave Zirin’s excellent article “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lakers”)!

If Orlando’s citizens are going to pay upwards of 85% of the costs of the Amway (*gag*) stadium, it should be a public facility. If DeVos wants his own stadium he can pay out of his 4.4 billion he happens to have, otherwise he should be happy that we let his team play there, much less placing his wretched company’s name on it. There is no defense of his ownership of a stadium he did not pay for, he should not be allowed to host demonstrations against gay marriage when we cannot protest sweatshops on what is at least 85% ours! I think Orlando citizens and Magic fans should be appalled. its one thing for an elected city government to build a basketball stadium, its quite another to give away our tax money to a billionaire and let him use public land to advocate his hateful brand of right wing politics. Are we going to take this lying down? I hope not!

Written by jackofspades83

June 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Florida House Republican Leader Hosts Anti-Islam Event

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On Monday April 27th, the Florida Security Council and the International Free Press Society hosted a “Free Speech Summit” in a Delray Beach synagogue. The event was assembled to highlight the anti-Islamic views of Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was the featured speaker at the summit. Wilders is the subject of criminal prosecution by the Dutch government for his controversial statements about Islam, such as equating the Koran to Mein Kampf. The court of appeals in Amsterdam has judged that some of these statements may amount to inciting hatred towards Muslims; the act of inciting hatred is illegal under Dutch law. Furthermore, Wilders was barred from entering Great Britain, as a spokesman from the Home Office made clear, “The Government opposes extremism in all forms. It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”

In his introduction to the Free Speech Summit Wilders refers to Islam as a threat to Europe stating that Islam is , “… endangering our history, our freedom, our prosperity and our culture”. He goes on to state that “Islam is not a religion. Islam is a totalitarian political ideologue. Islam [sic] heart lies at the Quran, and the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission…We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion…the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam”.

Also present was state representative of district 87 and leader of the Republican party in the Florida house, Adam Hasner. Hasner is also listed as a sponsor of the summit. From all observation this is not Hasner’s first sign of involvement with blatantly anti-Islamic elements. In 2007, he hosted a showing of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”, for state legislators.

He has also attempted to block Florida Muslim Capital Day, sponsored by Council on American-Islamic Relations. In an e-mail he sent to several Jewish lobbyists he attempted to organize opposition to the event saying, “By now, I can’t imagine you haven’t heard about this upcoming lobbying day for Muslims in Tallahassee…Do you all intend to be part of an information campaign in opposition to it?” He has since claimed that this attempt to block the assembly was not part of an action against Muslims, but rather against the organizing group’s leader stating that the, “well-documented ties that this group’s leader has to organizations that are affiliated with terrorist groups such as Hamas”. Hasner has also gone as far as to leave the floor of the legislature during the first prayer given by an Imam, only to return as soon as the prayer ended.

Written by jackofspades83

May 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Delegates, Superdelegates, and Drama

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by Jack O’Spades

As I write this, I’m sitting looking over the results of Democratic conventions at: http://demconwatch.blogspot.com. I’m doing this because; A: I have no social life, B: I seem sustain myself off of the anger and cynicism inherit in politics, and C: I have no social life. The latest results are somewhat worrying to me.

 

 

Long time readers are possibly aware of my distrust of Hillary Clinton, and my strong belief that she would be slaughtered in a race against McCain. Nothing will bring out Republicans to the polls, like flies to a corpse, than the prospect of another Clinton presidency, not too mention their fear of the HRC from the early years of the Clinton administration. Although I no longer see her as she was back then, the Republicans sure do, and the left isn’t exactly thrilled about her either. Her stance on foreign policy pisses off anti-war, populists and socialists are distrustful of the possible return of Rubinomic style neoliberalism, and some in labor are fearful of more NAFTA like polices.

 

 

Although the race is still neck and neck, two things may conspire to favor the Clinton campaign: Superdelegates and the return of Michigan and Florida delegates to the nomination process. Although Hillary’s lead in superdelegates has dropped sharply in the last few weeks, she still leads Obama in their support. If this were the end of the story Obama has a good chance of besting her for the nomination, that is if he continues his winning streak through the Ohio and Texas primaries. However, there is a possibility arising that could give the Clinton campaign a crucial edge, us.

 

 

As you may recall, the national Democratic National Convention stripped Michigan and Florida of our delegates because they’re quite possibly nut cases. I don’t know how they expected us to magically force our Republican state legislature (who for some strange reason controls the primaries of both parties) into not moving our state primaries forward. Particularly, when they tacked this primary switch up to a bill that would force a paper trail into Floridian voting. What Floridian Democrat could oppose such legislation, particularly if their district has many minority supporters? It would be a major middle finger to voters who are too often the target of voter suppression.

 

 

Anyway, to get back on track, apparently the Clinton campaign is trying to find a way to get our delegates back. She won big in both states, and now apparently we are important to her. I’m sorry Mrs. Clinton, you can’t have it both ways. You choose to snub us along with every other Democrat (well except for Gravel, he counts right?), you can’t change the rules because you’re loosing. Not to mention the fact that Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan! Not exactly a fair fight, huh?

 

 

Look, I don’t hate Hillary, I just don’t like her. Not to say I’m a big fan of Obama either, they’re both pretty bland politicians who speak of change with hollow words. The only major difference is that Obama at least has a chance against McCain. I’d rather have the worst excesses of the Clinton administration, which both candidates seem to represent, rather than someone who seems all too willing to continue the present course.

 

 

So with all that rage vented I can properly welcome you to the March issue of the Populist Press. This month we have some interesting articles from near and far. We also welcome Mr. Scott Tess, organizer for the Fair Trade for a Greater Orlando Coalition, as a regular contributor to the Press, with an excellent editorial on contrasting the virtues of fair trade with problems inherit to so-called “free trade”. As always we have an article by our favorite investigative journalist, Mr. Greg Palast, on McCain’s transformation into a Republican hardliner.

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The new issue of The Populist Press can be found at http://www.populistpress.com.

Written by jackofspades83

March 9, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Of Ballots and B.S. Eternal

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by Jack O’Spades

The cable and print news outlets tell me this is an exciting time for politics. While I can’t disagree with that generalization, I certainly don’t buy the implicit message of hope. Yeah, yeah, curious George and Dick “the Dick” Cheney® are about to get the boot, but I’m not spellbound by Obama-mania or Clinton fever. I want someone who will take on the madness of the last four administrations, (not just the last one!) and not someone who will, at best, ‘hold the line’.

 

Unlike the famous “Colbert Bump”, it seems that an endorsement from this paper may be a political death sentence, sorry Mr. Edwards! We’ll be voting for Obama (note – NOT AN ENDORSEMENT), since he’s still much better than ANY Republican president. That’s right preachers of the Ron Paul, we don’t like your candidate. No amount of angry letters will change the fact that he is xenophobic, libertarian nut job, who probably hates both brown AND black people.

 

So we’re certainly more cynical and stimulated than normal, hopefully that means that the parts I wrote will be at least interesting drivel. In addition, we have an editorial from one Mr. E. Smith-Jones. A quality piece on president Bush’s grand scheme to save the economy by giving us each about $600. As you can see Mr. Bush’s plan is incredibly complicated, so make sure you’re awake when reading it. If you can’t detect the sarcasm please put down the paper, it’s not for you. Also, consider making toast while you take a bath. Remember, electricity and water are nature’s best friends.

 

For those of you I haven’t offended away, or who are not taking a bath with a toaster, you may notice a theme in this volume of the press. As the election gets closer, the incidents of voting related shenanigans are on the rise, so we feel compelled to inform you on possible mischief at the polls. This observer would point out that more worrisome than the Clint Curtis style claims of tampered voting machines, is the legal attempt to stamp out votes and potential voters. Not to say that the illegal attempts are negligible, or that Mr. Curtis is insane (I haven’t any input on that allegation, seriously), but the legal attempts are more likely to sway the vote, and to fall under the radar. For more on the subject of legal, vote theft, refer to the book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”, by Mr. Greg Palast.

 

So stay wary, and know your rights! Particularly if you’re black, brown, and/or poor. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, see the local chapter of ACORN, they have plenty of information on your rights. Their contact information is in the ad section, on the last page.

Everyone should be sure to get in contact with the American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org/), they are a wealth of information on all of your rights. Enjoy this edition press, folks (www.populsitpress.com)!

Written by jackofspades83

February 20, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Community Organization Charges Florida With Suppressing Poor Voters

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<!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08inby Jack O’Spades

(Notice of full disclosure: Mr. O’Spades has been the volunteer in charge of Information Technology for Central Florida ACORN.)

 

It is a drastic understatement to say that Florida is no stranger to election mishaps. Whether through deliberate actions of political and economic interests (*cough* Katherine Harris *cough*), or good ol’ Floridian incompetence, we still continue to set the standard for stupidity in voting. As such, it should come to no surprise that we are on the forefront of new, and innovative ways, to part democracy from voting.

 

According to community organization ACORN, (or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the state of Florida is shirking its responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act, better known as the “Motor Voter” Act. This act was passed in 1993 to help facilitate voting by providing voter registration forms in government buildings, such as DMVs, of which gave the bill its nickname. Voter registration forms are also to be made available to the public through government programs to help weed out the vast discrepancy between rich and poor voters. Furthermore, the bill provides safeguards to voters who have moved within the confines of their district or precinct, allowing them to retain the right to vote even if they have not re-registered with their new address.

 

However, ACORN along with non-partisan groups Project Vote Smart and Demos, a voter awareness and a policy research group respectfully, have sent a notice of potentially pending litigation to both the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families. These groups point to dwindling numbers of voter registrations made available from entities supposedly ensured with providing voter registrations under the National Voter Registration Act. According to a press release issued by Florida ACORN, the voter registration forms at public assistance agencies have dropped by over 90% within one decade, from 158,836 in 1995-1996 to 13,436 in 2005-2006. At the beginning of the same decade, 6% of all voter registrations were obtained from public assistance agencies, this number had dropped six fold by 2006.

 

In a telephone interview, Mr. Sterling Ivy of the Florida Department of Elections posited that the allegations made by ACORN are “unfortunate”. He went on to claim that both departments involved are fully complying with the Florida department of elections, as outlined in the National Voter Registration Act. Furthermore, Mr. Ivy claims that while the number of in person registrations are down, there has been a corresponding increase in mailed registrations from public service offices.

However, according to information from the Federal Elections Commission and the US Election Assistance Commission (the latter being a group created by the NVRA to ensure its compliance), mail registrations have also dropped. From 1995-1996, there were 706,163 registrations turned in by mail, being 25.93% of all registrations collected. In 2005-2006, mail registrations dropped to 245,393 or 13.57% of the total collected. The difference is particularly marked in the number of new registrations by mail which, according to information on the Florida Department of Elections site, dropped to 84,045, the lowest turnout in the last 10 years.

 

It remains to be seen if the lawsuit will go forward, and what the official defense of the Florida state department will be if it does. While the organizations bring the lawsuit forward have brought a compelling argument, it should be noted that the number of voter registrations in general have dropped since a high around 2004.

 

Also, while the methodology on the number of registrations available in public service offices and the amount turned in from areas covered by the NVRA seems solid, some of the methods used by ACORN could use some more work. They found that out of seven public service offices in the four most populous counties, four of them did not have voter registrations, even after officials there were approached for them. While this is certainly disturbing, it is hardly a compelling sample. The same can be said of the volunteer sample taken of 49 individuals as they exited public service offices.

 

Regardless of the few statistical maladies of the case, the Florida state department has a lot to answer for. It seems that while the amount of registrations turned in has fallen since the high of 2004, the amount from public service offices has fallen at a disproportionate rate. We here at the Press will keep you informed of ongoing development on this issue!

Written by jackofspades83

February 20, 2008 at 10:58 pm