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March 28, 2011 |
The following piece was adapted from Keith Balmer's blog.
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker rammed his union-busting bill through the legislature -- and then published it despite a judge's stay -- he seemed a lock for the honor of the Worst Governor in the United States. But then again, there are a lot of truly terrible executives in various state-houses these days.
So let's look at some of the others who might also vie for the title of America's Worst Governor -- to nobody's surprise, they're all Republicans!
Let's get started...
The Governor: Rick Scott (Florida)
Rick Scott was once the CEO of Columbia/HCA, a massive hospital chain. The federal government fined Columbia/HCA for Medicaid and Medicare fraud. That fine, a jaw-dropping 1.7 billion dollars, is the largest in American history.
But instead of going to jail, Rick Scott became the governor of Florida.
A guy scams the government and now is an elected official of the government. And in the three months since he's been in office he's doing his best to destroy the fourth largest state.
1. He rejected $2.4 billion in stimulus money to build a high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando.
2. He wants to slash $4 billion in spending while cutting taxes for millionaires.
3. He tried to use state funds to build golf courses in state parks while cutting education by 10 percent and corporate taxes by 5 percent.
4. He's requiring 600,000 government workers (including police officers, teachers, firefighters, judges, and retirees) to contribute 5 percent to their retirement.
5. He just lopped off $2,300 a year in teacher salary to give massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.
He's also not a fan of black people. He proposed eliminating state support for two HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities). He's shutting down a state agency that assists minority businesses, and he refuses to appoint an African American to any significant position in his administration.
Where's Kanye West when you need him? Someone needs to go on TV and awkwardly declare: "Rick Scott doesn't care about black people!"
Stephen King, a part-time resident of Florida, attended a rally to protest Scott's state budget cuts. Allow me to describe Rick Scott perfectly, using King's famous books as inspiration:
Rick Scott is a bigger clown than the clown from It. This Firestarter wants to turn Florida into his own personal Creepshow, a Dead Zone where his economic policies will have residents screaming "REDRUM!" Sorry Florida, but it looks like you guys are in for a whole lot of Misery.
The Governor: Paul LePage (Maine)
In January, LePage skipped Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations in Bangor and Portland. The NAACP criticized him. LePage responded by telling the NAACP, "kiss my butt."
When I first heard about this I was shocked! I turned to my friend and said, "Maine has black people?"
The irony of LePage's comment is that he has an adopted son who is black. Isn't it weird that he would diss the NAACP when it's because of them that he can even adopt a black kid?
But that's nothing compared to the controversy LePage received for his support of BPA, a common chemical additive used in some hardened plastics, such as reusable food and beverage containers. An estimated 6 million pounds of BPA are produced annually, although rising public concern about the potential health affects have prompted some manufacturers to drop the chemical. BPA has been linked to a host of health issues including reproductive problems, learning disabilities, cancer, and obesity.
Politicians in Maine are trying to ban it. But the governor is adamant in his support for BPA. If you thought his comment about the NAACP was tasteless, check out what he had to say about BPA:
"Quite frankly, the science that I'm looking at says there is no problem. The only thing I've heard is that if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards."
Do you really trust the science of this man?
What else is the governor up to? Well, he wants to bust unions, cut taxes while slashing public services, gut employee benefits and pensions, and raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.
And who will benefit from all of this madness?
Rich people, silly rabbit!
The 1 percent of households in Maine earning over $300,000 dollars will see their income taxes go down by $2,700. LePage is taking money from the middle class, so that the rich people in Maine can save $2,700.
Stephen King, a part-time resident of Maine, has spoken out against LePage (how many states does that guy live in?).
According to a recent survey, LePage's approval rating has dipped to 44 percent. Something tells me that when he's running for reelection in 2014, the people of Maine will turn Le Page and tell him to kisstheirbutt!
The Governor: Tom Corbett (Pennsylvania)
In order to deal with the state's $4 billion deficit, the residents of Pennsylvania want Corbett to raise taxes on the natural gas industry. Plus, they don't want him to cut funding for education.
And because Corbett is a man of the people, he plans to do the exact opposite.
WHUCK? (That's shorthand for "What the fuck?")
Corbett released his budget last week and it's a doozy. He's proposing massive cuts to education. He wants to cut state aid to public schools by a jaw-dropping $1 billion. He wants to freeze teacher salaries. And he wants to cut $625 million from higher education. That amounts to a 50 percent cut for the 14 state-owned universities and the four state-related schools (Penn State, Temple, Pitt and Lincoln University).
If this budget passes can you imagine all the services public schools will have to cut?
And I feel bad for the college students at these state schools. A 50 percent cut in state aid is horrifying. Those schools must find a way to replace all of that money. And you know what that means? It means the cost of tuition is going, in the words of Ralph Kramden, "TO THE MOON, ALICE!"
And if that wasn't bad enough, Governor Corbett has given a coal company CEO unilateral authority to overturn laws and pass out drilling permits as he sees fit.
Here's something I bet you didn't know. Because of natural gas drilling, there are certain parts of the state where the water is hazardous because it's flammable. There are videos on Youtube where people set fire to the water as it comes out of their faucets. Drinking that water is dangerous. Number one, it might kill you. Number two, when you go to the bathroom to pee, there's a good chance you might burn your house down!
You know what, Governor Corbett? This is an excellent idea. Let's make this a national movement. Let's appoint people to positions they have no business being within 100 feet of.
For example, let's make high school dropout Bristol Palin the head of the Department of Education! Or how about Amy Winehouse as head of the Department of Health and Human Services? Or what if we made Charlie Sheen the Drug Czar?
Last week Governor Corbett said, "Let's make Pennsylvania the Texas of the natural gas boom!"
Yes, governor, let's do that. Let's give some coal executive power to pollute the state's water supply as he sees fit.
And since you want Pennsylvania to be Texas, let's cut billions of dollars in education so that the public schools disintegrate into barren wastelands. You know, just like in Texas!
Speaking of the Lone Star State . . .
The Governor: Rick Perry (Texas)
Everything is bigger in Texas: The football stadiums, the waistlines, the mosquitoes, the tornadoes, the number of teenage pregnancies, the number of high school dropouts....
Texas has a $27 billion shortfall. In order to balance the books, Governor Perry wants to slash education by $10 billion! And he wants to fire 100,000 teachers.
Perry has a few billion at his disposal to help when times get hard (like right now). It's called the Rainy Day Fund. He can dip into this money to alleviate the suffering from his proposed cuts. He initially refused to touch it. But after thousands of teachers and state workers protested in Austin, Perry started singing a different tune. Just the other day he announced that he would dip into the fund.
Now, for those of you who don't know, Perry hates when the big bad government intrudes on people's personal lives. So why is he trying to force women seeking abortions to undergo state-mandated sonograms? He wants to force doctors to show an ultrasound image of the fetus to these emotionally fragile women. Then he wants to force them to listen to the fetal heartbeat. And then he wants them to sit and listen to a lecture on fetal development.
But don't worry, ladies. You can avoid Perry's version of compassionate conservatism by simply choosing to not get pregnant!
Under Perry, Texas leads the nation in abstinence-only education. And, unsurprisingly, Texas has one of the nation's highest teen pregnancy rates. Because when you tell teenagers not to have sex, they decide to wait...until you leave them home alone for the weekend!
In other Perry-related news, he recently announced that states should have the option to opt out of Social Security.
I wish that all of these government-hating conservatives would opt out of using our roads and our police and our fire department. It would be nice if Perry opted out of using the government to watch over his border with Mexico.
And since Perry has talked of seceding from the Union, it would be nice if Texas just opted out of the United States.
The Governor: Jan Brewer (Arizona)
Arizona has no lieutenant governor. So when former governor Janet Napolitano joined the Obama administration in 2009, Jan Brewer, the Secretary of State, became the new governor.
Here's one thing you need to know about Governor Brewer: She's racist.
Ok, I take that back. That was too strong. Jan Brewer is definitely NOT racist.
She just doesn't care for Mexican people.
Though Hispanics own businesses, hold public office, and help support the local economy, the perception that immigrants do nothing but drain community resources, take away jobs, and increase violence is a reliable talking point for southwestern conservatives like Brewer.
In April of last year she passed an incredibly racist piece of legislation known as SB 1070. This is what it says in a nutshell:
WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE,WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON
The "illegal aliens" in Arizona are overwhelmingly Mexican and this bill legalizes racial profiling against Latinos. President Obama called the law "misguided".
I call it "racist".
But Governor Cruella De Vil was just getting started. During last year's gubernatorial campaign, she incredulously said that Mexican immigrants were beheading Americans in the Arizona desert. This was a lie. And when reporters cornered her after last year's horrendous debate (she was speechless for 32 excruciating seconds), she first ignored their questions, then she fled.
Here's some other fun facts about Cruella. She went to community college and received a radiological technologist certification (?????). Her top two lobbyists are from the private prison industry (the more Latinos you put in jail, the more money that industry makes). And her favorite book is "Arizona Governor For Dummies."
I made that last one up.
I just Googled "incompetent" and a photo of Jan Brewer came up!
There is no economic growth policy in Arizona, no education program, and no health-care solutions, just Hispanic-Hate 24/7. Cruella recently signed tax cuts that'll cost the state $538 million by 2018. She claims she has created jobs, yet the state has lost thousands of jobs under her term. She rails against the federal health-care program but will gladly take every federal penny tossed her way.
Cruella is taking a lot of heat, and rightfully so, for refusing to fund organ transplants.In October 2010, Governor Brewer cut funding for Arizona's transplant program, creating America's first real death panel, and putting many people's health and survival in grave danger. Without this assistance, patients in need won't be able to pay for their expensive medical bills associated with a transplant. Two people have already died since Brewer decided to cut this program's funding.
Governor Brewer's opinion on the issue is completely unfounded. How can it be wasteful to provide care to someone whose life depends on it? There are 98 patients in need of an organ transplant. And Cruella's advice to these 98 people is to drop dead!
The Governor: John Kasich (Ohio)
Before Kasich was elected governor, he made bank at Lehman Brothers. Now I don't know about you, but I think it's crazy to vote a guy into office who comes from Wall Street.
Kasich bashed unions during last year's election. Then he demanded unions take out full-page newspaper ads to apologize tohim. He's turned down federal money to build a rail line connecting Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. He doesn't like to spend money because he's fiscally conservative, unless he's spending it on his cronies. He has bumped the salaries for those in the top positions of his administration ($20,000 to $50,000 higher than his incumbent). He was chastised by police officers in the state after he publicly referred to an officer who pulled him over as "an idiot."
And he's the first governor not to appoint an African American to a significant state cabinet post since 1962. When an African American member of the state legislature confronted him with this fact, he responded with "we don't need your people!"
For your information, governor, it's not "your people", it's "you people." Didn't you learn anything from Ross Perot?
And if you still think John Kasich is not a huge jerk, then let me explain Ohio Senate Bill 5, Kasich's union-busting piece of legislation.
The Republican-backed measure that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of 350,000 teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public employees squeaked through the state Senate on a 17-16 vote.
Ohio Senate Bill 5 would ban strikes by public workers and establish penalties for those who participate in walkouts. Unionized workers could negotiate wages, hours and certain work conditions but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. The measure would do away with automatic pay raises and base future wage increases on merit.
The legislation would also set up a new process to settle worker disputes, giving elected officials the final say in contract disagreements. Binding arbitration, which police officers and firefighters use to resolve contract disputes as an alternative to strikes, would be eliminated.
According to a January Quinnipiac poll, voters in Ohio oppose such a bill 51-34 percent (15 percent don't know/no opinion). Only 50 percent of Republican-identified voters supported it. Fully 71 percent of Democrat-identified voters opposed it.
Did you know Kasich has no desire to run for a second term? If this bill passes (it arrives on his desk next month), he accomplishes his goal of destroying the public sector unions in Ohio. And this will satisfy his masters: The Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch (they supported his campaign for governor).
In just three months Kasich's approval rating has dropped to a LeBron James-like 35 percent. There is some serious buyer's remorse going on. A whopping 55 percent of Ohioans say they would now vote for Kasich's opponent (ex-Governor Ted Strickland).
In other words, the people of Ohio can't wait for John Kasich "to take his talents" elsewhere!
The Governor: Rick Snyder (Michigan)
Republicans in Michigan have come up with a revolutionary solution to the state's growing budget crisis: claim the right to auction off cities, counties, school districts, and water systems.
That's right. I saidauction offcities, counties, and school districts. Michigan is for sale, ladies and gentlemen! You guys better get in while the getting is good. I just checked Groupon and saw that Governor Snyder has a special sale going on. If you buy Ann Arbor at full price, you can get Kalamazoo for half off!
And I hear you can buy Detroit off the clearance rack!
This astonishing new bill pushed by Snyder gives the governor, or a company hired by the governor, the power to declare municipal entities insolvent. During a fiscal emergency, the governor would then be empowered to appoint an emergency manager to oversee all financial matters. That individual would have the power to 1) cancel any and all contracts: including collective bargaining rights for unions; 2) dis-incorporate whole cities; and 3) dismiss lawfully elected officials.
Corporations now have the right to take over cities and counties. Hmm, that's funny. I could have sworn that America was a democracy. Guess not.
But wait. It gets better. Governor Snyder also wants to tax the pensions of seniors as ordinary income. Last week 1,500 senior citizens protested in Lansing. The Web site Crooks and Liars sums it up quite nicely:
"The pension provision is part of the larger effort on the part of Michigan Republicans and Governor Snyder to cut corporate income taxes by 81% by increasing taxes on the poor, elderly and middle class by 36%."
The most reliable Republican voters are seniors and Snyder's support among them has eroded. They put Snyder in power and he has thanked them by taxing their pensions so that corporations could get tax cuts.
You see, boys and girls. This is why it's pretty fucking stupid to vote against your own economic interests.
The Governor: Scott Walker (Wisconsin)
In a stunning turn of events, Governor Walker and his Senate Republicans split their hotly contested bill in two, allowing them to pass the provisions over which 14 Senate Democrats left the state. This allowed Walker to strip the public workers of their collective bargaining rights. He said for three weeks that this bill was about balancing the state's budget. But he removed all financing from the bill which allowed him to pass it, thus proving Scott Walker to be a liar.
This was not about financing, it was about busting unions and sticking it to the middle class.
The Saturday after this controversial bill passed, an estimated 100,000 protesters showed up in Madison, along with 50 tractors and one donkey who wore a sign that said, "Scott Walker is a bigger ass than me!"
OK. That donkey didn't actually wear that sign. I only wished it did!
If I had to describe Scott Walker in one word it would be "motherfucker."
Let me give you a couple of scenarios that accurately explains how teachers and their unions became scapegoats for the Wisconsin budget crisis (and for the budget crisis in states around the country).
Scenario #1: Citigroup, ahem, pardon me, I mean "Shittygroup" borrows money from the Federal Reserve at zero percent interest. Shittygroup lends to people who they know cannot pay them back. Shittygroup repackages these toxic loans as Triple-A assets. Shittygroup sells the loans to state public employee pension plans. Shittygroup gets rich and pays their management billions of dollars in bonuses. Then the toxic assets completely collapse and nearly destroys the world economy. State public employees lose billions of dollars in pension funds. Republicans blame the unions for the pension fund losses. To compensate, the states cut public employee salaries, benefits, and union rights. Meanwhile, back on Wall Street, Shittygroup gets a 50 billion dollar TARP bailout, and again pays their management billions in bonuses.
Scenario #2: Republicans need to pull the wool over the eyes of their loyal, but factually challenged voters. So, they have to divide and conquer. They have to make workers from the private sector hate the workers from the public sector.
First, we all know the difference between private sector workers and public sector workers. Private sector workers have the chance to make more money. But they could be fired at any time. There's no health care, no pensions and no unions in the private sector. The public workers (i.e. teachers, firefighters, police officers) choose their line of work in part because of job security and benefits. Over the last 30 years, workers in the private sector have not received a pay increase. Meanwhile, the pay of the public sector jobs are tied into the cost of living. Republicans don't mention the fact that it is their policies that have caused private sector wages to flatline. But they do mention how fat-cat teachers are living high off the hog. They're saying to their voters, "Look at these people! Your tax dollars are paying their salaries and their benefits, AND THEY'RE MAKING MORE THAN YOU! THIS IS NOT RIGHT! YOU SHOULD BE ANGRY!"
The true villains in this sorry saga are the monsters on Wall Street. Not the teachers. If private sector workers wanna be mad at something, maybe they should be mad at how much the top CEOs get paid. In 1980, the top CEOs earned 42 times as much as the average worker. In 2011, they earn 551 times as much as the average worker.
In an interview with Fox "News", Wisconsin State Senate GOP Leader,"Eff" Scott Fitzgerald, admitted that Walker's plan was to bust unions and weaken Obama in 2012.
Doing away with collective bargaining destroys unions. During last year's elections, seven out of the top 10 outside spending groups were all right wing. The other three were unions (the public employee unions, the SEIU, and the teachers' union). Without unions, all the big money donors would be right-wing.
This is what Republicans want. They want single-party rule. They want to be the only ones in charge so that they can turn America into a banana republic.
A banana republic (i.e. Nicaragua, Venezuela) is a country ruled by a small amount of wealthy people (the oligarchs and the plutocrats). It is a country of obedient workers, servants and peasants. It is a country where working people don't have a say in politics. It is the end result of trickle-down economics and it's the opposite of democracy.
Conservatives subscribe to this idea. They believe democracy is "mob rule." They believe the noble elite (i.e. rich white dudes) should run this country. Because of their wealth, conservatives believe the noble elite are people chosen by God. They don't want the working people to vote. That's why they went after ACORN, whose only crime was that it was an organization that registered poor people to vote. That's why Republican governors are trying to change laws to make it harder for college students, minorities and poor people to vote.
When Scott Walker told the fake David Koch that "this is our moment," this is what he was talking about. The very future of democracy is at stake.
Keith Balmer is the Dark Prince of Satire -- read more of his stuff here.