Obama Wins; Local Power Brokers Back to Business as Usual
It's over -- the election, that is -- and we're already back to business as usual in Palm Beach County: favorable official treatment of questionable businesses, hypocritical maneuvering by powerful lawyers, and rampant dissembling by deep-pocketed merchants of crap.
What's that you say? Election Day is Tuesday? Don't kid yourself. The postman always rings twice: First Katrina, now Sandy. Like twin bookends to his two presidential runs, the two hurricanes made Obama's opposition look lame and the O-man reassuring, while Sandy had the added benefit of crowding lying Mitt Romney out of the limelight.
The capper: New Jersey Gov. (and Mitt's keynoter!) Chris Christie, his state bearing the brunt of the storm, comes out with a ringing endorsement of the president's response. The Fat Man has sung.
The election settled -- and not a moment too soon for a propaganda-weary public -- the usual power brokers in business, government, and the law are back to their usual tricks.
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In the courts, the most courageously outspoken of Palm Beach's judges is facing ethics charges for being... courageously outspoken. Circuit Court Judge Barry Cohen has been cited by the state's powerful Judicial Qualifying Commission for mouthing off (1) from the bench -- about, among other things, the insanity of our drug laws and (2) outside the courtroom -- about racial profiling and a local election.
Since Cohen has not been accused of letting his opinions lead him into actually erroneous or illegal or corrupt rulings, and since judges regularly and unrestrainedly play the pundit in court, it's tempting to wonder if it's Cohen's liberal political leanings that put him in hot water.
Strangely, though, the JQC's special counsel in the case, attorney F. Walter Pope Jr., is something of a maverick himself, a critic of
Satan's Jeb Bush's efforts to subvert the Florida courts, and a defender of judicial independence during the Terri Schiavo affair.
On the other hand, Pope seems to be the go-to legal gun for the Church of Scientology, harassing those who depart the demented cult and demanding that its critics shutthefuckup. But can anyone who
Satan Jeb denounced as a "whack job" be all bad?
The Palm Beach County Commission, meanwhile, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to allow Anthony Lomangino, a big-time garbage hauler with a history of dicey conduct and narrow escapes, to join in the bidding for county contracts. Lomangino's alleged Mob connections were never proven, but he's never been too popular with the minority residents of Lake Worth, who say his company Sun Recycling is a public nuisance and environmental menace.
Big Sugar has been busy too, stealth lobbying and in federal court in Los Angeles, where the chieftains from Florida Crystals and the Sugar Cane Growers' Cooperative have joined with other cane moguls to wage war against their competitors, the High Fructose Corn Syrup lobby. The two groups of agribusiness giants are arguing over who has the right to brainwash the public about the benefits of their product and the ill effects of their rivals.
The cane growers -- famous for exploiting farm labor and conniving at trade war -- filed their suit, Western Sugar Cooperative v. Archer-Daniels-Midland, in May 2011, claiming the dastardly corn growers were pushing corn syrup as nutritionally indistinguishable from "natural" sugar. The corn crowd has countersued, saying the cane cabal is "preying on consumers' fears."
We like our Mexican coke as much as anyone -- and will swear on a stack of Qur'ans its cane sugar tastes better than corn syruped domestic Coke -- but whose product has superior health benefits? We pass.
What's it all add up to? Well, first of all, and to be clear, Obama isn't sure to be reelected -- though it's looking pretty good as time runs out. But even if he is and Romney goes back to his mansions and Ryan to the gym, O-man's second coming will not be the Second Coming. Average people may get a better shake than they would under Mitt's thumb, but as local doings show, the world will stay a battlefield.
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