Obama-Bashing Billboard on I-95: Who's Behind It?
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes fatal bite -- covers Palm Beach County. This is his first column. Soon, it will appear twice a week on The Pulp. Got feedback or a tip? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you seen the hysterical/apocalyptic "STOP OBAMA" billboard on southbound I-95 just past Palm Beach International Airport? It warns people that Greek-style financial armageddon is "COMING HERE SOON!" It's complete with images of cities ablaze, cops in riot gear, and stone-throwing mobs of face-masked anarchists. Yikes!
This disaster impends, the billboard implies, because of the national debt -- though what the debt actually consists of, how much of it is Obama's doing, how U.S. public finances compare with that of Greece, and various other details like what it all means are left to the viewer's inflamed imagination. The takeaway is clear: First black president = chaos in the streets.
Fire Ant really didn't want to debut with a column coming anywhere near the third rail of national politics in South Florida -- Israel and the Mideast. But as fate would have it, this billboard is funded by Aventura-based political action committee American Principles, an Israelcentric organization.
American Principles is the brainchild of one Eytan Laor, a Miami-based political operative whose fundraising goes to GOP candidates whose sole litmus test is fervent support of the State of Israel. That leaves plenty of room for political crackpots, hotheads, screw-ups, and the ethically challenged (not that the categories are mutually exclusive).
Laor's favored include "most corrupt" David Rivera (R-FL), multiply-troubled Joe Walsh (R-IL), Muslim-basher Renee Ellmers (R-NC), homophobic Denny Rehberg (R-MT), whoremonger David Vitter (R-LA), and, inevitably, not-quite-clinically-insane/no-hyperlink-necessary Allen West (R-FL).
"Conservative compass" Chris Ruddy and "South Beach Diet" doctor Arthur Agatston are the highest-profile figures on Laor's donor list. Lesser-knowns include Delray Beach pain doctor Jeffrey Zipper, Boca Raton orthodontist/political activist Larry Kawa and -- most striking -- Hollywood's Falic Family, America's foremost Likudniks.
American Principles isn't the biggest snake in the campaign finance grass by any means; the $194K it's raised this year is small potatoes in a post-Citizens United age, when superPACS raise eight-figure sums and billionaire global gambling czar Sheldon Adelson doles out $5 million a pop. Neither does Fire Ant mean to say that what to do about the national debt is not fair political game. But reasoned debate on current affairs does not result from propagandistic terrorism and a panic-stricken electorate. Mr. Laor: Tear down down that billboard!