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PCR #156  (Vol. 4, No. 12)  This edition is for the week of March 17--23, 2003.
La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
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Florida's Mysterious Big Cats
I have said this for years-the Florida Panther, that noble epitome of Florida's vanishing wildlife, is much more resourceful and widespread than many wildlife officials believe. The official party line is that the endangered Panther is limited almost exclusively to desolate areas of Collier and Monroe Counties. I have heard reports from very reliable sources of the Panther inhabiting the swamps and riverine systems of Florida as far north as Palatka. One of my former bosses claims that almost daily he spotted a pair of Florida Panthers cross Buckeye Road in Manatee County an almost clock-like manner in the mornings when he was conducting surveying work for the construction of Interstate 75 in the late 1970's. He also claims to have treed a Black Panther at Richloam in Hernando County. I have no reason to doubt this man. He is an accomplished hunter and unimpeachable in his honesty and ethics. He also told me that when he contacted State wildlife officials about the Panther sightings in Manatee County, they would not even look in to the matter as the towed the party line that "Panthers don't exist north of the Everglades."

The Big Pay Off
The big pay off for me was in May 1997. I was in the "back 40" of a nursery in rural Pasco County tagging plants for a highway landscaping project, when about 40' away came silently and gracefully wandering at the edge of the nursery a 5' to 6' long Florida Panther---not, I repeat NOT a Bobcat, which I have seen several times in the wild. This was the real deal--Puma concolor coryi -- the Florida Panther -- the only representative with any known population east of the Mississippi River, of a majestic and beautiful big cat that roamed from Chile to Canada and was commonly known as the Mountain Lion. The nursery worker and I were just transfixed--it was like time was frozen as we just stared at this remarkable creature. After it bounded back into the adjacent forest, the worker and I looked at each other and both said--'you did see that, didn't you?"

The Sad But Incontrovertible Evidence
I was not surprised, but I was saddened to read about a Florida Panther that was killed by vehicular impact on Interstate 4 near CR 579 (Mango Rd.) east of I-75 around 5 A.M. on Monday March 10, 2003. Tests indicate that it was indeed a Florida Panther and not an introduced Texas Cougar or a Florida Panther that has already been monitored by the State.

This was the first confirmed Panther in Hillsborough County in memory officials say, but I'll bet if they asked some ol crackers in these parts, the Panther's has been with us all along. Biologists have also received reliable reports of Panther spottings in Sarasota, Osceola and Highlands Counties.

For more on the Panther death, link to the Tuesday March 11, 2003 edition of the Tampa Tribune at http://tampatrib.com/nationworldnews/MGAURPHGDD.html

For more information on this incredible Florida native, link up to The Florida Panther Society, Inc. at http://members.atlantic.net/~oldfla/panther/panther.html

US Representative Declares "War" on France
In the latest round of France-bashing for defying U.S. wishes to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, US Representative Ginny Brown-Waite (R), Florida, has a Deadguy-type of solution in remedying their disloyalty to Uncle Sam: she wants the nation of France, to exhume the bodies of American soldiers who died on its shores defending it during the Second World War (this would be at American tax payer expense, and be limited to those requested by the decedents families). This is of course "Ginny git yer gun's" bizarre form of punishment for the nation that brought us Inspector Clouseau, Pepe Le Pew and syphilis, for its defiant, if not misguided and highly questionable stand on the Iraq issue.

Other wunderkinds of our elected officials have moved to revise the name "French fries" to "Freedom fries" and "French toast " to "Freedom toast", and urged Americans to boycott all things French. Great--our economy continues to tank, Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose, and all that these bozos can think of having us boycott wine, cheese and fashions from the land of the Marquis De Sade so they can declare their own little petty war on France for not playing ball with us.

Due to Germany's shared stand with France on the Iraq issue, would these same "patriotic" wunderkinds expect the great Ronald Reagan to recant his 1980's forgiveness of Germany for its part in the Second World War?

I'll say it again--"Dubya, if you want war with Iraq, then bypass the irrelevant U.N. and unilaterally go in and kick their asses!" It worked for Reagan in Grenada and Libya, it worked for Clinton at about a dozen locations whenever things got too steamy in the Oval Office and it can work for you too, so quit your bitchin' and start some kickin!"

More On the Congresswoman
The divine Ms. W is the same politico who rather than urge public calm, restraint and vigilance after the 9-11 attacks, bragged about her purchase of a hand gun and shooting lessons. Now I don't know about y'all, but I feel real secure taking my concerns to a public official with a pistol in one hand and a tinhorn in the other. Face it Ms. W--it's highly unlikely that you and a busload of crazed terrorists are going to slug it out in gun battle the likes of which have not seen since the shoot out at the O.K. Corral! Where on earth is sanity, common sense, civility or even a modicum of dignity in the reactions of many over our public officials during this very serious threat? Between the panic of our politicians, the beating of the war drums and the constant barrage of terror hysteria, our society is really starting to suffer some economic and psychological damage here.

I was hoping that the demonizing of France would be limited to the Beltway crowd, but I should've known that it'd be no time at all that demagogues like Conresswoman Waite would try to infect Florida with this misguided frenzy.

There is no question in my mind that Saddam Hussein is brutal dictator who needs to either seek asylum or be taken out by force, for the sake of both the Iraqi people and long-term world stability. The United Nations, however, is not the "United States Nations". In my estimation the U.N. has rarely proved its relevance as it relates to America's best interests. Nevertheless, nations within it have a right to dissent with us, and if we can't hack that, then let's pull out of it, act unilaterally in our own presumed best interests, quit our bitchin' and start kickin'! Of course, by the time this sees print, that may well be the case. For more on Congresswoman Waite's proposal, link to the Thursday March 13, 2003 edition of the Tampa Tribune at http://www.tampatribune.com/News/MGA5JHLA8DD.html

Pray for peace, but be braced for war.

Governor's Attempts to Dismantle State Library a Violation of State Law
In addition to being one of the most misguided and irresponsible proposals ever made by an elected official in Florida, Governor "Jeb Vader's" plan to dismantle the State library is also illegal.

Chapter257.01 Florida Statute, 'State Library; creation; administration." clearly states that "There is created and established the State Library which shall be located at the capital (bold and italics mine w.m.)..."

In essence, by selling off the State Library collection, which currently resides in Tallahassee, to Nova Southeastern university in South Florida, the Governor is violating the very law he twice took an oath as Governor to protect.

Governor Vader continually demonstrates that he unfit to hold this office., and even the powerful position that his brother George W. holds, particularly at a time like this, should not be used as a means to mitigate such ineptitude.

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.