Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I haven’t read much the last few days because I’ve been ranting to my friends about Florida Gov. Rick Scott using “emergency powers” to make immediate deep cuts to programs that serve tens of thousands of developmentally disabled residents. The story hit the headlines across the state on Friday, but this was no  April Fool’s joke.  If you don’t already know the dastardly details, look up Kate Santich’s stories on orlandosentinel.com http://tinyurl.com/4ytas2z

Before I go any further, I’m not objective about this. I know social workers whose clients’ quality of life and care are going to be seriously affected because of the budget cuts. Scott is going after the most vulnerable among us — people with Down’s Syndrome, severe autism, cerebral palsy and other ailments, largely impoverished and many without family.

I did not vote for Scott, but this is not sour grapes because my candidate lost by an oh-so-slim margin. No, let’s call it grapes of wrath. Based on what Scott says and does, I think he’s a heartless hypocrite, who, as columnist and novelist Carl Hiaasen has said, “seems to redefine crazy at least once a week.”

Carl will be the featured speaker Wednesday night in Orlando for the Adult Literacy League’s fundraiser, “Between the Wines.” The event is almost sold out, but you can still call the league office at 407-422-1540 to get tickets and last minute-info about the event.  

Sentinel TV critic Hal Boedeker had a good Q&A with Carl last week, http://tinyurl.com/3r47vyj Here’s what Carl said about Scott: “Nobody knows that much about Scott right now, except that he’s a rigid ideologue. Obviously he’s a bit hazy on how the process of government works, and also on the concept of separation of powers. If he gets even half of what he wants in his budget cuts, many Floridians are going to be stunned by what happens to their daily lives in regard to schools, medical treatment, public parks, local police and fire services. Try calling the Tea Party if your house goes up in flames.”

I’ve interviewed Carl numerous times over the years about his gonzo satirical novels. Although he notes that there is immediate satisfaction in writing his Miami Herald column on politicians’ shenanigans, he says there’s fun to be had in fiction because you can make sure the bad guys get what they deserve. His villains come to notoriously bad ends.

At the moment, Scott reminds me of  two infamous characters preying on the weak — the professional wheelchair thief in Strip Tease and the guy who stole fentanyl patches from bedridden cancer patients in Skinny Dip. This being Florida, Carl based both on real people who got caught.

In my post last summer on Carl’s most recent novel, Star Island, I suggested that some readers might write in the name of their favorite recurring character on their fall gubernatorial ballots. That would be Skink  — the crazy ex-governor who comes out of the swamps to dispense vigilante justice on those who would despoil his beloved Sunshine State. Right now I would really like to see Skink invoke his emergency powers and go after Gov. Stink. Seriously.

Open Book:  That’s a picture of Carl Hiaasen. I could have used a photo of Gov. Rick Scott, but I didn’t want to frighten the horses and small children.

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The Winter Olympics come along every four years, just like presidential elections. Both can be great spectator sports, although the Olympics have a higher tone of civility and a lot less mud-slinging, providing it quits raining in Vancouver.

But you know what I mean. Bipartisanship has made Washington politics so downright ugly of late that even cable news junkies — and I’m one — are tuning out.  All this trash talking leaves me cold. Really, I’d rather watch skating and skiing and hockey. (I do hope all the athletes have good health insurance).

So, I wasn’t planning on reading Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (Harper) by veteran journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. I followed it all then — and now — and figured I’d heard or seen everything of interest, and I’m not into poli-porn. But several friends said I was short-changing Game Change, and they thought  I’d like it because — here’s the bait — it reads like a novel!

They were right. With its larger-than-life characters and dramatic who-woulda-thunk-it scenarios, the book is entertaining and edifying. The authors’ sources may be anonymous, but they sure appear to have the inside scoop. Then there’s the writing. Early on, the authors introduce Obama advisor David Axelrod:

“In the trade, Axelrod was known for being interested less in policy than in softer qualties of character and biography. His central gift was a grasp of the power of narrative — his ability to weave his candidate’s beliefs and background into an emotionally compelling bundle.”

Heilemann and Halperin understand the power of narrative. Good story, guys.

Listen Up, Mr. President (Simon & Schuster) by legendary White House journalist Helen Thomas and my friend and Listen Up, Mr. Presidentformer colleague Craig Crawford is a different kind of political book but entertaining and informative as well. It weaves anecdotes and observations into a sort of how-to book on the presidency, as it subtitle suggests: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do.

Thomas and Crawford are in Central Florida this week to “interview” one another as they promote their book. Another friend and former colleague, Joy Wallace Dickinson, has all the details in her Sunday story in the Orlando Sentinel, plus the fascinating tale of a young Craig meeting a president in Orlando.  You can read in full at http://tinyurl.com/ylmy7ls.

Open Book: I bought my copies of both books.

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