This article is the second in a 52 part weekly series on the United States of America. It’s a chance to celebrate the diversity of our nation, and to educate ourselves about the members of our union, both the States and the Territories. We encourage you to comment and share you thoughts on the States, and hope you learn something new about each of the valuable members of our wonderful Union.
– The Staff of The 12 Angry Men


Last time, we covered Indiana, a state that does just about everything right, but doesn’t quite clean up enough for a fancy party. This week my cross hairs are lined up on Florida a state that does just about everything wrong that is imaginable, but the weather.

Quick Facts about Florida
NameFlorida
Admission to UnionMar 3rd, 1845
Population18,089,888(4th)
Population Density309/sq mi (8th)
Area65,795 sq mi (22nd)
Gross State Product$713 billion (4th)
Tax Burden+0.02




Florida, a nice place to visit, but like so many nice places to visit, you wouldn’t want to live there. First visited by the Spanish in 1513 who, in a well thought out plan, decided it would be just peachy to build some settlements in the path of every major hurricane. Florida was ceded to the United States by the Spanish in 1819 for $5 million dollars, and the promise that the US would renounce all claims to Texas (yeah… like that was going to happen). Unfortunately we accepted, and from that day forward Florida was known as “America’s Wang”.

Throughout most of its history (until the middle of the 1900’s), Florida was the least populous state in The South. Following the advent of air conditioning, Florida experienced a massive population boom, peaking in the 60’s with growth rates of nearly 80%. Now you would certainly think that such massive population growth, and the influx of all of the tourist dollars would result in a healthy sustainable economy. Yep, you would certainly think that, but no, you’d be dead wrong. Despite having a GDP on par with Australia’s, Florida manages the horrible sin of being a tax burden on the rest of the country (for every $1.00 Floridians pay in taxes, the Government hands them back their whole dollar, and then chips in an extra $0.02 of the rest of our money). Hey Florida, maybe you should start collecting an income tax, before you start asking the rest of us for handouts!

What Florida does right: Well… um… they have nice weather! Except when Hurricanes are obliterating their major cities, that is. Well they do have Disney World, and everybody likes going to Disney World! Yeah, sadly, that’s all I’ve got. Florida has a decent education system, but it’s nothing to write home about. They don’t have an income tax, which is nice if you’re greedy and want the rest of us to foot the bill (and if you don’t mind the fact that the state rolls your estate for money when you die). You would think, as one of the most populous state they’d have more going for them than just being “The Pretty One”, but as we’re about to see, this “Pretty One” has been riding the short bus for a long, long time…

What Florida does wrong: Just about everything. Let’s face it. The state has it’s own Fark tag. For those of you who don’t know, Fark.com is a website which lists various interesting, amusing, and downright stupid news stories everyday. They have tags like “Interesting”, “Cool”, and “Hero” for stories which are impressive and good. For those which outline human stupidity they have tags like “Asinine”, “Stupid”, and “Dumbass”. The site founder, however, noticed that most of the really and truly bizarre news, usually involving people acting dumber than bricks, came from Florida. Thus, there is also a tag on Fark called “Florida”. That’s right, Florida is the only state which is so dumb, that news stories about it need special labeling.

It’s not hard to see why either. Despite having been given one of the largest government installations (Kennedy Space Center), theme parks out the wazoo, and the lion’s share of the citrus industry, it still manages to draw more coins out of the Federal purse than it puts in. Are you seriously telling me that with the fourth largest population in the Union, and the fourth largest economy in the Union, you still need the rest of us to help you pay the bills?!?! BAD FLORIDA!, no cookie for you! The people of Florida need to go sit in the corner, in timeout, and think about how the rest of the top five states manage to pay their bills. Florida gets a D for economy, and that’s being generous! You guys are lucky that I’m saving the F for Arkansas and Mississippi!

Look Florida, you need to realize that you didn’t mature as fast as your population boom would seem to indicate. You’ve got the population, and the income, but like a teenager with her first credit card, you’re living beyond your means, and not properly investing in your future. It’s time to grow up, get a better education, and stop living in our basement.

-Angry Midwesterner


Hillary & Filiberto Ojeda Rios
Hillary and Filiberto Ojeda Rios, FALN and Puerto Rican Nationalist

 

Every nation has to either be with us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.”

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (September 13, 2001)

 

Ms. Clinton has issued her declarations against terrorists in this 2008 campaign video:

Debra Burlingame, the sister of Capt. Burlingame, pilot of American Flight 77 which kamakazied into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“The Clinton’s Terror Pardon”) laments the decidedly non-stalwart position of Hillary Clinton with regard to FALN terrorists. She writes additionally in a blog about Bill Clinton’s FALN pardons.

In the case of the FALN, despite the perps admitting to over 130 bombings; killing 6 people and injuring 86 others; and violating many state and federal weapons regulations; all it took to earn the support of Ms. Clinton was the promise of election support from the Puerto Rican hispanic voters in New York. The Bill Clinton pardon of 11 FALN terrorists was suspiciously coincident with the election campaign of Hillary Clinton as Senator of New York. Even former Clinton advisor Dick Morris suggests that the timing was not an accident. What is more outrageous is that President Clinton pardoned the FALN members against the advice of the FBI, the families and victims of the bombings, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, two US Attorneys General, New York Police Commissioner Howard Safir, and even his own Attorney General, Janet Reno. In fact, the U.S. House and Senate condemned the pardons, 311-41 in the House and by a 95-2 margin in the Senate.

The President has the ability to pardon by right. It’s not even slightly equivocal. There is no legal problem here that these pardons were made specifically to enable his wife to become a New York Senator. Once you are a President, you are entitled to use that right to pardon in any way you see fit. Of course, every President is first a politician, so I’m not optimistic in general; but one would think that in the case of terrorists operating on American soil, that some vestige of common sense and morality would apply.

The situation today, however, is that Hillary is NOT the president. So there is little chance of her swinging a Presidential pardon for terrorists today. (It is unlikely George W. Bush will pardon some terrorist to further her presidential aspirations.) No, the problem is not today, but 2012. The team of Clinton and Clinton has shown their true colors. What happens when Hillary trades America’s collective security for the Islamic vote in her re-election? Best to keep her from the Presidency in the first place.

It’s looking more and more like the campaign of HRC believed their own “inevitability” line and didn’t bother to plan past Super Tuesday. Tell a line long enough and you start to believe it yourself and stop thinking about what you might need to do if your “inevitability” turns out not to be so inevitable after all and the opposition doesn’t cooperate by playing their assigned role of loser. There’s a name for this problem: Victory Disease. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia page is pretty solid, so I’ll quote it for you (with some slight edits):

The signs are:

  • Arrogance, overconfidence, and complacency,
  • Use of previously victorious patterns of fighting, and not developing new tactics to anticipate enemy advances,
  • Stereotypes of enemies, underestimating enemies,
  • Ignorance of contrary intelligence or refusal to recognize it.

While the winning side grows complacent, arrogant, feeling invincible, the enemy adapts. Military disaster ensues. While “victory disease” does not automatically foretell failure, it is a strong indicator. The term applies outside the military world.

The deep irony is that HRC and her team got a heck of a case before any actual victories.

This should sound familiar: It’s essentially the Donald Plan (Rumsfeld that is) for post-invasion Iraq. But, as he said famously at the time “it would be weeks, not months.” Now he was right about formal large unit operations but that doesn’t change the misleading nature of the quote, which was widely believed to mean “just like Desert Storm,” i.e., no long occupation, no big bill, no casualties, etc. We all know how well that turned out. Lots of people whose jobs it is to know better were telling the then-SecDef and those above him that things were going to be trouble. The invasion could have been more difficult than it was but it was not seriously in doubt. The post-invasion, on the other hand…. Well let’s just say that such things are complicated and cannot be left for improvisation. You need a plan for what happens when things don’t go the way they should.

Well HRC has fallen into the same trap. Her campaign’s been noting things like the fact that the Texas delegate allocation rules are arcane and perverse. Well, that may be, but one would presume that it was her campaign’s job to find out about such things and plan for them, rather than whinge about it down the line. And she’s one to talk about arcane and perverse rules manipulation, what with changing her mind on the Florida and Michigan primaries. Again, she’s got a fig leaf of a point but was only pro these states when it looked like it was going to be good for her. Before that, who cares? She agreed to—but then reneged on—having her name removed from the ballot.

Whether this was simply due to carelessness or some other motive I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. The message of the 2000 election is that victories based on “strategery” and procedural tricks executed by one’s partisans who have multiple relationships undermine the legitimacy of the election. Sound familiar? They need to be avoided and the system upheld, i.e., be both fair and seem to be fair. Clearly the Florida and Michigan issue is a problem and, most likely, the best thing to do is to hold a caucus after the last scheduled primary. Given how chaotic this primary season has been, it’s not at all clear if it will be worthless or amazingly relevant, so by trying to push to the head of the line Florida and Michigan may well have gotten what they wanted by boosting their relevance. That would be a bit perverse, too, but poetic justice deserves its own poetic justice now and then.

Other things:

  • Speeches don’t put food on the table. Oh really? (I suppose it’s true since the presidential pension would be quite sufficient.)
  • States and voters “don’t count.” (See “Rove” and “base”.)
  • A senior staffer really known for loyalty above anything else who spent more time watching soap operas in her office, burning through money, and then famously said “screw this, Joey doesn’t want me!” when her son asked for his Dad before bedtime when things got bad. Or maybe we’re just lead to believe she said that? And if so, what does it say about HRC’s “people”? That they will stiff her when the going gets tough? That HRC can’t discipline her staff appropriately? All of the above, most likely, but an inability to appropriately discipline staff—particularly those who are longtime friends with demographically appealing bios—sounds pretty familiar too.
  • Rampant playing of the “two for one” card while still talking about being “her own woman,” i.e., trying to have it both ways. (At least this one is new.)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see some kind of superhero in Obama, or McCain, for that matter. They’re both more stirring than HRC, but ultimately I’m enough of a realist to know that every president steps in the doggie doo eventually. Were he to become president, I’m sure BHO would have his share of scandals in his administration. One of the virtues of a long campaign is show just what kind of person you are when you step in it, and by that score, HRC isn’t showing up too well.

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ObFascism Tag: Look up some of Hitler’s famous quote about how well Operation Barabarossa would go: “Bolshevism will collapse as a house of cards.”

I’d like to kick off a new semi-regular feature here at the Angry Men, a celebration of Americans of all different stripes and backgrounds who have all, in their way, made America and the world a better place. They will be politicians, generals, entrepreneurs, scientists, and inventors; famous, and obscure; figures of history and thoroughly modern folks. But together they will remind us of the diversity and unity of the United States, of our greatest principles and of the great promise of America: you are free to pursue your dreams as best you can.

Without further ado, let’s raise a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to our inaugural Great American: Walter Elias Disney:

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The first few decades of Walt Disney’s life reads like an almost stereotypical American success story: born the son of an immigrant, growing up across the Midwest in big cities and small towns, sneaking off to World War I as an ambulance driver with the Red Cross, hustling to get started in his chosen career, getting breaks from his brother and returning the favor, and making and losing businesses and fortunes. All by the age of 33.

But in 1934, Disney did something destined to change American entertainment forever, and catapult him to new heights: he produced a full-length animated film featuring both realistic human characters and fantastic cartoon characters. This doesn’t sound like much these days, but back then it was “Disney’s Folly” because it had never been done, and conventional wisdom said it couldn’t be done. Disney bet the farm that conventional wisdom was wrong, and his competitors bet that he’d lose that farm.

Of course, as we know, Disney was right, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was wildly successful, playing to standing ovations and winning an Oscar (well, actually one large and seven small Oscars, in fact). More than a personal triumph, it ushered in the golden age of American animation, and set the stage for the staggering industry of animated features around the world. It also launched Walt Disney Studios in Burbank and bankrolled a skilled studio of master animators. Disney would go on to produce a whole cavalcade of classic animated films: Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (which brought the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Wind in the Willows to many for the first time), Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Cinderella, and many, many more. Many did not make much money, some were quite successful, but all have endured the test of time surprisingly well and stand as a tribute to Walt Disney’s vision that rich, complex stories could be told through animation.

After the Second World War, Disney brought his vision for a child’s fantasy amusement park to life in Disneyland, setting it on a huge lot and surrounding it by one of his favorite things in the world: a train. Throughout the 1950s Disney Studios worked on Disneyland and released major live-action and animated features. Disney also turned his eyes towards the stars and worked with NASA (and Werner von Braun) to promote space travel through films.

The 1960s saw Disney at the peak of his success, with Mary Poppins sweeping box offices and Disney debuting his vision of the future at the 1964 Worlds Fair. Not content with a one-time display of that vision, he laid the plans for an expanded and enhanced Disneyland known in development as “Disney World” and sited on 27,000 acres in Florida. Although plans included an expanded amusement park (to be known as the “Magic Kingdom”), resorts, and hotels, the centerpiece was to be Disney’s vision of the perfect future community, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). In Disney’s expansive vision, EPCOT was to be a working future city, whose residents would focus on innovative science and advanced technology.

Sadly, Walt Disney would never live to see the fulfillment of this vision, as he died from lung cancer in 1966, just two years after beginning the new project. His brother Roy came out of retirement to manage the project (and company) and open the first stage of the new park, now formally called “Walt Disney World Resort” in October 1971. By December of that year, Roy too was dead.

EPCOT as envisioned by Disney never came to be, though the modern Epcot park does provide a showcase for future technologies, and embodies the spirit of international cooperation in its World Showcase. And Disney’s Celebration community, built by Disney Imagineering as a model planned community, comes closer to the original goal of EPCOT (though in a suburban rather than urban mode).

Of course, as we remember the man and his legacy we should not overlook the darker side. Walt Disney never trusted organized labor, and his prejudice led him to make unsubstantiated allegations during the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. He spied on union activity for the FBI for years and may well have illegally intimidated union activists. He was, as many visionaries are, a notoriously difficult man to work with. In short, he was a man, with a full share of faults and limitations.

But he was also a visionary in the best American mode, with an optimistic and enthusiastic take on society, technology, science, and the future. He built places devoted to bringing joy to children and inspiring them to dream deeply. He gave the world the vast legacy of his dreams in film and concrete and has inspired millions around the world with a vision of pluralism, tolerance, kindness, optimism and joy. For all of these reasons, whatever his human faults and foibles, Walter Elias Disney is, indeed, one of the Best of Us.

UPDATE: Welcome Fark.com! After you read this, feel free to have a look around. You’ve probably already seen this and this, but check out this fine piece about the One Laptop per Child program, this one about that nutcase Chavez, and, of course, this classic challenge.