Since 2002, daily Florida political news and commentary


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Welcome To Florida Politics

Thanks for visiting. On a semi-daily basis we scan Florida's major daily newspapers for significant Florida political news and punditry. We also review the editorial pages and political columnists/pundits for Florida political commentary. The papers we review include: the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Naples News, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St Pete Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Tallahassee Democrat, and, occasionally, the Florida Times Union; we also review the political news blogs associated with these newspapers.

For each story, column, article or editorial we deem significant, we post at least the headline and link to the piece; the linked headline always appears in quotes. We quote the headline for two reasons: first, to allow researchers looking for the cited piece to find it (if the link has expired) by searching for the original title/headline via a commercial research service. Second, quotation of the original headline permits readers to appreciate the spin from the original piece, as opposed to our spin.

Not that we don't provide spin; we do, and plenty of it. Our perspective appears in post headlines, the subtitles within the post (in bold), and the excerpts from the linked stories we select to quote; we also occasionally provide other links and commentary about certain stories. While our bias should be immediately apparent to any reader, we nevertheless attempt to link to every article, column or editorial about Florida politics in every major online Florida newspaper.


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The Blog for Thursday, December 07, 2006

More From the "Values" Crowd: Special Edition

    Regular readers know that we have been having fun at the expense of the so called "value" voters that Republicans, and particularly the RPOF, love to point out constitute a core Republican constituency. So, in our daily review of Florida political news we typically identify one or another action by state government or the Republican Party of Florida (and/or its surrogates) manifesting a "value" that seems inconsistent - if not wholly and completely at odds with - the "values" supposedly held by the so-called RPOF "value" voters.

    Today, we came across three separate "values" manifested in government action that are worthy of note; because there are so many, we have decided to set the stories out in a separate post.

    Before we get to the stories, a brief aside on the meaning of "values voters". It is not at all clear who they are or, perhaps more importantly, who they are claimed to be.

    If "Values voters" are comprised of the first group to register the URL "http://www.valuesvoters.com/", that would mean "values voters" are an arm of the American Family Association. (Or, as the AFA puts it, "a project of" the American Family Association. One hopes that that is not the case, but it may very well be the case..

    As an alternative, perhaps we can live with this definition of "values voters" from a USA Today editorial, which provides:
    More than any single issue, [values voters] seek to redress a coarsening of the culture and a loss of civility. They want a family-friendly society that is compassionate to the needy and holds people accountable for their conduct.

    But while many of them view citizenship as an expression of their faith, it is by no means the most important thing in their lives. For most, politics takes a back seat to raising their children, helping the poor, serving in the church and assisting neighbors in need.
    "So who were those values voters?" From the above passages, find the following characteristics (underscored above) particularly salient for purposes of political discourse; "values voters" cherish:

    - "a family-friendly society that is compassionate to the needy and holds people accountable for their conduct";

    - "helping the poor"; and

    - "assisting neighbors in need."

    On the other hand, George Will asserts that the phrase "values voters" "diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots." "Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?" All that may be true, but use of the phrase "values voters" persists.

    If it is not precisely clear who "values voters" are, it is possible to divine who the putative leaders of the "value voters" crowd cansider to be one of the "values voters'" patron saints; the above-linked column by George Will points out that "The Family Research Council, an influential evangelical activist group, has invited Gov. ['Jeb!'] Bush to appear at a fall conference of 'values voters.'"

    So for our purposes, "value voters" view Jeb Bush as some sort of leader, and among their most cherished "values" are (1)being "compassionate to the needy", (2) "helping the poor", and (3) "assisting neighbors in need".

    With that in mind, let us take a brief look at some of the real world manifestations of the current political regime in Florida, one that is lead by Mr. "values voters" himself:

    1. Yesterday, we read how "a badly disabled kid" with "severe cerebral palsy, is blind, has a shunt in his brain to drain excess fluid and has daily seizures." And "his body can't control its own temperature." According to his doctors' he needs "special thermal blankets, which cost $10 each. He needs about three a month, for a cost of about $360 a year. But for more than a year, the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities [APD] has refused to pay for them."

    "Ninety pounds and chubby-cheeked, Kevin lives with 14 other severely disabled children at a specialized group home in North Miami Beach called Baby House, which is run by United Cerebral Palsy. He has lived there since 1999. His caregivers feed him through a tube in his stomach. They drain his tracheostomy and take his temperature constantly."

    Now here's the kicker, "the state has racked up thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting Kevin, who lost an appeal before a state hearing officer and is now appealing to the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami."

    And who is in charge the public agency behind this travesty of, well ... "values"? Well "a spokeswoman for Attorney General Charlie Crist's office, which has represented the disabilities agency during some of the litigation, declined to discuss Kevin's case." "Disabled boy seeks blankets from state

    Chain Gang Charlie - caught with his pants down - is full of the usual excuses: "Crist, who said he was not aware of the litigation until he read about it Wednesday in The Miami Herald, said he ordered an immediate halt to the attorney general's office's role in the case, calling the legal fight 'unconscionable.'" "[Donors and state warm up to boy's need for blankets http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/local/16181507.htm]".

    Although the state was ultimately shamed into finding a few hundred bucks for the blankets, there is another "values" issue here, to wit: by what standards does the government decide to dole out its limited resources to the "needy", "the poor" and our "neighbors in need". In this case, the state of Florida chose to deliver such resources via a private company that is rewarded pursuant to a contract that maximizes the denial of care:
    Kevin's case was denied by an employee of Maximus Inc., a private firm hired to keep costs down at the agency. While no one wants the APD to waste public money, its deal with Maximus has it wrong: The more money Maximus saves the agency, the more money Maximus makes. The incentive should include positive interventions, preventive care and healthy outcomes.

    The Maximus employee never saw Kevin and didn't speak to his doctors because such a safeguard isn't required. APD denials can be appealed to hearing officers paid by the state. Kevin's only chance came in a courtroom. Still, the process is tilted against those it should be helping. The Kevins of Florida shouldn't have to go wanting for a blanket.
    "Disabled child gets the blankets he needs". Are these really the values of "values voters"?

    2. Speaking of the profit motive, today's Palm Beach Post tells us about Jebbie signing legislation authorizing, get this, for-profit hospices:
    With for-profit hospices in Florida now able to selectively admit patients sooner and with longer life expectancies, and hospitals and other groups tapping into traditional hospice markets, not-for-profit hospices that treat anyone, regardless of ability to pay, find it challenging to meet their budgets. Dependent on Medicaid, Medicare, insurance and, to a large extent, donations, many of those not-for-profit hospices provide services, including grief counseling and respite to caregivers, to entire communities.

    While [for-profit] Hospice officials attempt to justify providing funeral and cremation services as a natural next step from a business perspective, consumer groups and hospice advocates point out the inherent ethical conflicts. Beyond provoking an instinctive groan of distaste among many who have benefited from hospice's care of a loved one, the change also could violate state and federal laws that prohibit funeral homes from soliciting business from the dying and their families.
    Believe it or not, Florida's "values" laden
    Legislature opened the door to such exploitation of Floridians. Last spring, legislators allowed for-profit hospices to operate in the state. After out-of-state, for-profit companies hired two lobbyists with close ties to Gov. Bush and his administration, the Legislature approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, that threatens to emphasize profits over patients. Gov. Bush signed the bill into law over the summer.
    "Not an idea to die for".

    3. Finally, an old standby: "Broward teachers dig deep, buying supplies to ensure children don't miss out". Is that really a "values Voters" "value"?

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