Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rick Dross

Rick Scott perfectly personifies everything that's wrong with the far-right and with the unfocused Tea Party rage that thrust a bunch of maniacal idiots into power in the 2010 elections. He's a guy who made a fortune as the CEO of a massive for-profit health care company but who was forced out when that company was found guilty of fourteen felonies and had to pay the government back $600 million in a Medicare billing scandal. In other words, he basically operated a criminal enterprise. Since beating Democratic opponent Alex Sink by a razor-thin margin last year, he's pretty much run Florida into the ground -- an admittedly impressive accomplishment given that it was in such bad shape to begin with -- and made himself a man with almost no friends or supporters to speak of. Rick Scott is, no bullshit, the most profound and expansive case of buyer's remorse in the history of Florida politics.

If you're curious as to why he's so universally regarded as a guy who couldn't manage a 7-11, just watch his performance on CNN this morning. Christine Romans, and eventually a smelling-blood-in-the-water Ali Velshi, pound him into paste over both his inability or unwillingness to answer questions about the debt ceiling debate, and, apparently, his lack of knowledge of what the debt ceiling even is.

This man is the governor of the fourth most-populated state in the country.

Mediaite: Two CNN Anchors Try, and Fail, To Get Florida Governor Rick Scott To Answer Their Debt Ceiling Questions/7.27.11

By the way, as I mentioned earlier today, watch how quickly Scott employs the go-to GOP talking point about how government needs to be run like a business. And then ask just about anyone in Florida how well that's worked out for them under Scott's administration so far.


Anonymous said...

You don't even need to ask that question: everyone in the nation knows how bad Florida is.

Allow me to ramble on for a bit.

I interned at the PBS station here in Tampa (WEDU) and us interns were going to do a political show based on Florida This Week. The show was any other talk show you see, but it focused more on the student's perspective.

It ultimately got canned this semester. But before it did, my job was to gather information on how students could get a job in such an economy from three different colleges -- community, public, and private.

As you'll probably know already, students from private universities have a much better chance of being employed in Florida than from community and public univerities. Specifically, at the University of Tampa, I was told by a fellow intern who went there that career counselor knew Rick Scott and got some students jobs through this connection. I couldn't meet this guy, so I can't confirm this.

Another thing worth mentioning is that upon graduation, a lot of students are seeking jobs out of states because -- you should know -- it sucks down here. Unless we got connections to businesses, we're essentially screwed.

And it's all thanks to Rick Scott way of running the state like a business. He benefits greatly with all the tax cuts his walk-in clinics (Solantic) while we struggle to get by.

I don't think we can't do shit about him until 2014 and by then, I think the damage will be too great to repair when the time comes.

-- Tony

Tristan Ohmacht said...

I'm not the biggest Scott fan, but in fairness, those two interviewers were both unnecessarily rude and hostile. Velshi, in particular, was very unprofessional.

Mr. Scott is, like it or not, the legally elected governor of the state of Florida. Show some deference, especially considering the man agreed to come on your show.

Aside from the interviewers' lack of civility, what's so difficult to understand about Scott's position? It's simple -- prioritize revenues to make the interest payments to avoid default. Then make deep cuts in spending.

While you may not agree with such a proposal, this doesn't demonstrate a lack of understanding what a debt ceiling is.

Less rhetoric and demagoguery, please. No need to ridicule someone simply because you disagree with him.

This only serves to deepen the rift and increase the pointless animosity.

Chez said...

First of all, Tristan, it's not the job of a national news correspondent to play nice with political leaders. On the contrary, Romans and Velshi were respectful until Scott basically obfuscated and eventually seemed to prove that he had no idea what the debt ceiling was really about. After that, they did what their jobs required -- which was to hammer the hell out of him and not let him get away with that kind of crap. You're right -- he's the governor of Florida, which is exactly why you have to hold him accountable for his views and make him explain himself at all times, since those views have the power to affect millions.

As for Scott's shockingly impressive list of misdeeds, power grabs, questionable acts and general fuck-ups in the mere eight months since he took office, I hate to refer you to an opinion article but this documents them pretty well.

It explains why his approval rating is around 28% right now.

Read this and then ask yourself who the demagogue is, please.

Liquid said...

So I'm making this comment on my phone. There's an ad at the top of the page asking if Sarah Palin can win? Vote Now!
Anyway, Netflix has delivered a few movies I watched growing up. I remember now why I loved Don Bluth movies. "Secret of NIMH." "All Dogs go to Heaven." Etc.
So when I see Charlie (Burt Reynolds) sing a brief song about perverted adult mind can't help think about Socialism! Sharing is Socialism!!
At this point I almost hope we default.
Maybe it will spark a second Civil War and we can finally get back to acting like human-fucking-beings after we lose another half-million people.

Of course I don't really believe that. It's just 4 a.m and the vodka/cynicism is getting to me.

Tristan said...

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on all points.

Chez, you pointed me to an opinion piece in the Miami New Times? Very, very questionable source, but I read it anyway.

That you pointed me to that article and the way that article is written is more proof of my essential point: That we, as Americans, have effectively destroyed intelligent open debate with demagoguery.

I you attempted to disprove my charge of you acting as a demagogue by pointing to more demagoguery.

I read the entire article. It's a shameless attempt to stoke vitriol by, in essence, calling Scott's policy decisions that the author just so happened to dislike "evil."

"I don't agree with you; therefore, you're evil."

And then on the whole news correspondent thing, please spare me the self-righteousness spiel of the press doing a public service by holding our "politicians accountable."

Regardless of the news network -- Fox or MSNBC -- your job as a "correspondent" is to win ratings.


Many "correspondents" have become like us bloggers -- their job is to inform *and* entertain.

Scott could have refused to do the interview. But he was gracious and granted it to them...good for their ratings. Doing them a favor. Then they turned around and attempted to back stab and bludgeon him with a rhetorical mallet they had hidden behind their backs.

He just ducked it.

Can you blame the guy?

Again, I'm not much a Scott fan. I didn't vote for him.

But to start slinging invective-charged mud like Jim Crow and "he's taking away Jimmy's hot lunch at school" is disingenuous, untrue, and unfair.

And bad for America. If you want to criticize a policy, that's fine, but fill your argument with facts and intelligent insight, not more and more rhetoric.

Get your facts right. Be honest about the opposition. Don't misrepresent the truth.

Again, this is, in my opinion, hurting our nation. And it's all driven forward by ratings, ratings, ratings...

Ref said...

So Scott will go down, eventually, in flames, but the canard that government can or should be "run like a business" will live on and on forever. Businesses exist for one reason only, to make money. Government exists to provide those necessary services that business has no incentive to provide.

Indigotea said...

'Regardless of the news network -- Fox or MSNBC -- your job as a "correspondent" is to win ratings.'

No Tristan, it's not. That may be the Fox News School of Journalism, but it's not how it's *supposed* to work.

I really, truly don't watch the news and read the news and listen to the news to have people tell me what I want to hear. I follow the news so I can know what is going on in the world, like it or not. I can't make informed decisions if I base them on sunshine blown up my skirt. And unfortunately, I don't have the time or talent to run down sources myself to check out every factoid. I depend on journalists to do that job for me. If there are no trustworthy ones left...we're all fucked.

Liquid said...

My recent Ex lived in Monroe, I live in Seattle. She didn't pay much attention to politics.

But what little knowledge she had came from, of course, Fox.

There was never any chance I could dissuade her from the iron grip of Reactionary v. Rationalism

For a time it was actually fun, "sleeping with the enemy," if you will.

Of course, that isn't fair to her as I prefer the Robert E. Lee-style of defining the opposition as "Those People."

It's akin to the Unstoppable Force meeting the Immoveable Object.

I'll bet there's a few words spelled incorrectly but I'm onto beer now that I've run out of vodka. That and I'm watching "Here Come the Littles."

Oh yeah, did anyone else find it strange that the quote from Boehner was either ASS or A** or that some said ASS or A-word depending on the show/host?

Chez said...

As I said, Tristan, the New Times article certainly takes a side, but the facts it presents can't really be argued with. While I appreciate your call for civility, just because a piece approaches a subject with a good amount of skepticism or even derision doesn't make the information it's presenting false. The same goes for Romans and Velshi: There's nothing at all self-righteous about saying that a network news reporter has both the right and responsibility to doggedly question a political leader when he or she can't or won't answer questions on a subject that that person has taken an official stand on. It doesn't matter one bit whether the end result of asking those questions is good TV, or a good read, or whatever might lead to ratings or hits or circulation.

I agree that ratings drives TV coverage these days; it has for years, actually. But what these two did on CNN very likely wasn't the product of some front-and-center thought that making Scott look foolish would somehow translate into great numbers and endear them to their corporate overlords. It was very, very likely just a case of a couple of business reporters being stunned that Scott didn't seem to know what he was talking about and not wanting to let him off the hook for it. And once again, that's their job. It's not demagoguery. Yes, being consistently cordial would be nice and I'm all for healthy but civil debate, but that doesn't mean that a powerful political leader should be allowed to just skate when he or she says something ridiculous. American journalists these days do that far too often. They concern themselves too much with access and being civil and occasionally even awestruck in the presence of power and therefore they don't do their jobs. And we all suffer because their jobs are damn important to a functioning democracy.

Liquid said...

Beltway Cocktail Circuit.

I'd love to race it with my drunken English and Italian friends on Forza.

Better start saving bottle caps...after the economy collapses it would be a perfect form of currency.

If Fallout is to be believed.

Trixi said...

I wonder how Liquid feels today.

dick_gozinia said...

"It was very, very likely just a case of a couple of business reporters being stunned that Scott didn't seem to know what he was talking about and not wanting to let him off the hook for it. And once again, that's their job."

Tristan's argument reminds me a lot of the people who got indignent when Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin the softball question of "What magazines do you read?" and then felt bad for Palin when she couldn't answer it because Couric supposedly "cornered her". It's really not too much to ask that a vice presidential candidate could list a magazine, and it's surely not too much to ask that the governor of the 4th largest state in the US understand what the debt ceiling is. Hell, I don't govern anybody or make policy decisions or even take care of myself all that well and I know what the debt ceiling is. I agree with Chez's assessment that the reporters were acting genuinely stunned that Governor Scott stuck to his asinine talking points which actually have nothing at all to do with the debt ceiling argument. Talking about reining in spending is a fine argument to have, but in the context of whether to raise the debt ceiling to pay prior obligations, it makes absolutely no sense. They were absolutely correct to demand accountability from Governor Scott.

And for the argument about reporters treating the office of governor with a modicum of respect, I'll demand that as soon as Republican representatives do the same for the President of the United States.

Tristan said...

Make no mistake -- I certainly believe that journalists should ask tough questions and press for answers. But there's a very clear difference between professional assertiveness and downright condescension.

I ask everyone (Chez included) to re-watch the clip with a very open mind just for the sake of the discussion.

Now I'm not as much an expert on TV news production as Chez, but I do have some working knowledge of what goes on when the cameras go off.

I really think the CNN correspondents and the producer involved tried to set Scott up. Happens all the time on all networks.

Lay a trap for the guy and lead him into it. When he falls in, catch him on tape looking foolish. Great for ratings. Play it over and over. Hope it goes viral.

Is that really a stretch?

If you watch the expressions and body language of the correspondents closely, you can tell that they're not getting frustrated that Scott wasn't answering the question; they were becoming *angry* that he wouldn't fall into their trap.

Velshi in particular lost his cool. He was frustrated they couldn't catch him, so he jumped in with a *very* condescending, "What is it you don't understand about that, Governor?!" It was a desperate attempt to goad him.

The whole thing was foiled.

You can't blame a guy for not falling into a trap.

@Dick: Where, exactly, in anywhere in that interview did Scott indicate that he doesn't understand what a debt ceiling is? I believe you came to that conclusion because Velshi yelled it at Scott to provoke him.

You see? This is where I'm going with this. We're letting our own critical thinking slip and are buying into presumptuous and/or false statements made by people just because they happen to be of our political stripe.

By the way, why in blazes are we asking a state governor for his assessment of a federal issue?

And Chez, the New Times article you posted, while cleverly written, was nothing but an ad hominem.

And it's very easy to misrepresent a situation by simply excluding facts that don't support your argument.

For example, I have a $100 credit on my credit card. That means I don't have to make a payment this month.

If someone were to then say, "Tristan didn't pay his credit card bill this month..."

Yes, that would be true.

And not at the same time.

Chez said...

Do you know what Occam's Razor is, Tristan? With respect, please apply that to the Rube-Goldbergian machinations you apparently see at work in the Scott interview. As for ad hominem attacks: 1) That's such a convenient dodge, particularly since it isn't true (and often isn't when people make that very popular argument) and 2) one more time, the New Times article was meant as nothing more than a quick run-down of the crap Scott's pulled; you can independently confirm all of it if you'd like.

Joash said...

It seems to me like the whole basis for having Scott on was so that he could explain why not raising the debt ceiling would have a minimal impact on the economy. Should the anchors have just ignored his inability to articulate a position on this subject? Rick Scott is our governor, but his complete lack of intellectual/social dexterity when confronted by anything other than unwavering support is not uncommon among politicians. It is a byproduct of the kind of ass- sniffing interviews that we usually see on television. I applaud these two interviewers for actually living up to their obligations as journalists.

Chez said...

You hit on a good point. Scott basically bought his way into office and he's never been very good at doing the things political leaders are expected and required to do. He can't defend his positions beyond spouting memorized talking points; he doesn't know how to actually get people on board with his ideas, which are generally terrible to begin with; and he can be made uncomfortable and utterly flustered at the first curveball thrown at him. The thing is, he has to be able to field curveballs because his views will always been called into question. I get the impression that he's just used to being the very rich guy at least and the CEO at best, which means that it doesn't matter whether people like or dislike his ideas -- what he says goes.

VOTAR said...


With all due respect, I watched the clip, and it just doesn't appear to show what you think you are seeing.

The question about a federal issue was asked of Gov. Scott because he brought it up. He went on an AM talk radio program and -- without anyone there to "trap him" into it -- conflated two fiscal issues that, while both are serious, are simply not the same thing. An elected official charged with the lives and welfare of millions of Americans must be expected to know better, and when they demonstrate that they apparently do not, they should be called out on it.

I see no evidence of a trap, I see journalists following up on a politician's prior public statement and asking for a clarification of it, and being frustrated at what clearly appears to be a (poorly) rehearsed dodge.

His ad nauseum repetition of those talking points only vaguely suggest the obvious: that gee, we all ought to budget our spending better. This does nothing to address his irresponsible suggestion that it's no big deal to him if America finds itself unable to pay for the things we have already bought, and we should allow the federal government to DEFAULT against its existing (not future) creditors.

This is astonishing, disappointing, and something more than a little frightening from a state governor, and illustrates not only his lack of suitability to govern, but his allegiance to the teabagger lunatic riot mob that has hijacked American politics and foisted the likes of Bachmann, and Scott, into positions of power over my life and yours.

If that's ad hominem, so be it. I don't believe that it is, nor do I see much demagoguery here except that a fairly convincing amount of discussion has been presented in contradiction to your (otherwise well crafted) comment, yet your position does not waiver.

Anonymous said...

Tristan, Scott indicated he did not know what the debt ceiling was by repeatedly equating the act of raising the ceiling to spending more.

He seems to think that raising the debt ceiling is the same as increasing the federal budget, which is an honest mistake I could see any average joe making, since the debt ceiling has historically been raised at the same time the budget for the year is passed.

The reason he was in the interview was because Scott has made public statements about it. CNN didn't throw a dart at a phone list of state governors to call someone up and badger over the debt ceiling. Scott has represented himself as an authority on the issue, and while doing so, has taken a position completely opposite of what everyone else has said thus far - that we should not raise the debt ceiling. He should expect to be grilled pretty hard for that position and at least try to prepare himself better.

I agree that a little more civility on the part of the interviewers would have been preferable, but they were completely in the right for taking him to task on his lack of knowledge and parroting of talking points.