"With split decisions in the first two contests of the Democratic race, Florida is closer to getting the clout it craved when lawmakers scheduled the earliest primary in the state's history."
That's because Florida -- the largest, most diverse swing state in the nation -- will decide on Jan. 29 whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will have the upper hand going into the voting blitz that one week later is likely to settle the nomination."Who knew Florida would see a dogfight when the leading Democratic candidates vowed to boycott the state for barging to the front of the 2008 election calendar?"
Polls suggest the two candidates will split the two other states that vote before Florida: Nevada, where Clinton leads, and South Carolina, where Obama is ahead.
The no-campaign pledge renders both candidates powerless to lock down Florida. One poll, released before Clinton's narrow victory in New Hampshire, shows Obama closing the gap in Florida, though Tuesday's results could slow or put the brakes on his post-Iowa momentum."Mixed results make Florida a battleground". More: "Obama's popularity surges with area voters".
What's at stake in Florida?
The Republicans: Giuliani built his strategy on winning here, but like everywhere else, Huckabee has gained ground. With momentum out of South Carolina, McCain could contend, as could Thompson. Romney needs this to stay afloat."Looking five steps ahead".
The Democrats: No delegates at stake, but oh what a great "officially meaningless" prize! Clinton's commanding lead has eroded, but it's not gone. The first real test of electability nationwide could make everything that happened before irrelevant.
Good luck ...
They're gonna need it: "Thompson searches for ray of hope in Florida" and "Giuliani hopes tax speech will build momentum in Florida".
We have no comment on whether this was the correct decision: "Giuliani's Speech Moved From Circus Arena". And the poor guy can't seem to catch a break: "Sample ballot mailed with Rudy boo-boo".
Secretary of Education mum on "evolution"
Apparently afraid to upset Florida's GOPer mouth breathers, or, perhaps because she has never thought about the issue (a la Clarence Thomas and Roe v. Wade)
U.S. Secretary of Education [sic] Margaret Spellings, who is visiting states to tout the benefits of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, stayed as far away as she could from the unfolding controversy in Florida over whether the word ''evolution'' should be included in the state's science standards for schools. The State Board of Education is expected to vote on the new weather science standards next month. ...
When asked whether the nation's top education official has a position on whether evolution should be a part of science standards, Spellings replied: ``No, I don't.''
However, she had no problem making clear that she is a Bushco lapdogShe congratulated Florida for its education reforms pushed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush ... ."Education secretary ducks evolution quarrel in Tallahassee".
While the "U.S. Secretary of Education [sic]" has no position on this critical issue concerning ... well ... "education", the News-Journal editors have an opinion:
Florida badly needs to upgrade its public school science standards: Our students, on average, perform poorly in science compared to those in other states and nations. ..."Yet, evolution is based in science; creationism by any name in spiritual tenets. We agree that schoolchildren whose religious beliefs support creationism or intelligent design should be presented with those concepts -- but not in public schools' science classrooms."
Some groups believe that the science of evolution, which is specifically mentioned for the first time in the new standards, conflicts with religious beliefs that God created the world. If evolution is to be taught, some argue, it should be taught alongside "creationism," also known as "intelligent design."
There is a lot at stake in the "e" word, though. If Florida and its communities want to market themselves as capable of supporting biotechnology, medical technology or other sciences, they cannot do so with fuzzy science curricula. They have to teach to the best standards of other states and nations, which include evolution."Spiritual tenets don't belong in state's science standards". Unfortunately, Florida's knuckle draggers are everywhere; at a recent hearing on the issue in South Florida one "Oscar Howard Jr. rises from his chair and approaches the microphone."
Howard, 60, tells the audience he's superintendent of Taylor County school district, a small county about 50 miles south of Tallahassee. He drove nine hours to attend the hearing."Debate over evolution, intelligent design gets passionate".
"We're in opposition to teaching evolution as a fact. Evolution continues to be a theory," says Howard, dressed in a suit and tie with a button that says 'Children First.'
Last month Taylor County School Board unanimously approved a resolution saying the district is opposed to teaching evolution as a fact.
He's heard from hundreds of parents who promise to pull their children out of the school system and put them in private schools, if the state approves the changes regarding evolution.
Was this really necessary ?
In their quest for "balance", the St. Pete Times gives us this photograph this morning:
This ought to help with the "balance", though I don't expect to see this picture of Rudy in the "liberal" media anytime soon:
How much more GOPer "leadership" can Florida stand
"The bad news about Florida's budget just keeps getting worse. State legislators learned Tuesday that they may have to reduce the current year's budget by as much as $600-million for two reasons: a prolonged economic slump shows no sign of ending and previous revenue forecasts, while conservative, have turned out to be overly optimistic." "Budget takes another hit".
Here's an idea: why not cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations? Surely, that will stimulate the economy, won't it?
And isn't this some delicious irony: "Business groups ask House for economic stimulus package".
In that connection, were there any calls to raise taxes on the wealthy (hey, how 'bout an intangibles tax?) to fund this business sponsored "economic stimulus package"? Nah, we'll just use our regressive sales tax to pay for it.
"Sen. Bill Nelson said the Pentagon and State Department won't tell him how many rape cases exist involving employees of contractors in Iraq." "Nelson still in dark over rapes in Iraq".
Mr. Happy face invokes FDR
If a local government has to lay off firefighters, bad things might actually happen: "Houses will burn longer before firefighters arrive, sheriff's deputies will be slower to respond to prowlers, kids will face more dangerous crosswalks and property-insurance rates will rise." Mr. happy face begs to differ, quoting - get this - FDR:
"It's misleading the people of Florida and frankly, it's disappointing. It reeks of desperation," Crist said. "It reminds me of a quote from FDR. 'All we have to fear is fear itself.'""Group paints ominous property-tax picture". When an empty suit like Charlie invokes FDR that, if anything, "reeks of desperation".
More: "In Hollywood, Crist pushes tax cut; critics protest".
The Tampa Trib editors acknowledge that
use of the death penalty as punishment for the worst crimes is a legitimate issue for political debate, and there is wide concern about the morality of capital punishment. With lethal injection, states tried to soften the look of it, but opponents insist the death penalty is state-mandated murder in any form.Of course, they conclude that how the state murders its citizens is less importance than revenge:
Supporters of capital punishment make rational and compelling arguments, too, including that many people sentenced to death are guilty of crimes so hideous that a prison sentence, however long, doesn't satisfy society's sense of justice.
Doubts about the death penalty tend to give way in the face of insanely brutal and horrific killings. At those times, the manner of execution matters less than the assurance that ruthless murderers pay the ultimate price for their crimes."The Case For Lethal Injection".
"State investigators believe they cannot complete an investigation of Mark Foley unless U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands over the computers the former congressman used when he was in office. Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey sent Pelosi a letter last month asking her to release the computers Foley used during his time in Congress or give him a written reason why not. ... Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Pelosi's office acknowledged the House may have constitutional concerns." "Fla. investigators press for Foley computers".
"Anywhere but South Florida"
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Millions of college students in the United States and Cuba are generations removed from the Cold War battles that destroyed relations between the two nations. "
In Florida, though, the Cold War never ends."End Cuba travel ban".
This puzzles younger people who can't imagine life without the Internet and for whom the 1959 revolution and 1962 missile crisis are ancient history. Their views also are closer to Americans who live anywhere but South Florida. With the future of Fidel Castro's totalitarian regime at least somewhat uncertain, the chance to nurture democratic reform in Cuba through exchanges between students is too promising too resist.
Yet resistance continues. Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law that bans the use of state money and other non-state money for academic travel to "terrorist states," which the State Department and Bush administration define as Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria and, predictably, Cuba.
Florida's booming economy
"Personal bankruptcies jump 96% in Metro Orlando".
"Florida officials want to send a message to immigrants who are not U.S. citizens and are doing prison time for nonviolent crimes: Go home. The airfare's on us." "Inmates may be deported home".
That silly paperwork
"A top fundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party has agreed to pay more than $200,000 to settle more than 200 election-law violations. ... Instead of challenging the charges, which Democrats say were the result of routine paperwork mistakes, Jeff Ryan, the brother of former State Rep. Tim Ryan, agreed to pay $209,000 in fines." "Fundraiser is fined more than $209,000".
Game over man
The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Eight years after Bush vs. Gore, the Supreme Court today has a chance to look better when ruling on an election-law case." Don't count on it - "even though an estimated 11 percent of voting-age Americans - most of them poor and minority - have no photo ID. Supporters of such laws tend to be Republicans, who argue that the laws are necessary to prevent fraud. Critics of such laws tend to be Democrats, who argue that the laws are designed to effectively disenfranchise likely Democratic voters." Not that this will sway the Court, but
those who favor Indiana's [ID] law and others like it can't ID any case of voter-identity fraud that the law might prevent.More important to the Bush v. Gore Court's "legal analysis" is the fact that ID law "was upheld by Republican-appointed judges in the lower courts, with dissent from Democrat-appointed judges." Game over. "Voter ID law is a fraud".
I'll go with the "firefighters, emergency responders and teachers"
"Meet the face of the opposition to Gov. Charlie Crist's property-tax amendment: your firefighters, emergency responders and teachers." On the other side of the fight, the usual suspects: "the Florida Realtors Association, Florida Power & Light, business groups and lobbyists." "Labor, civic groups fight Amendment 1".
Aint that illegal or sumpm?
"A report shows many insurers haven't reduced premium rates as required by the insurance reform law." "Many insurance rates break reform law". See also "Senate insurance panel reviews impact of changes from 2007 law" and "Three-fifths of insurers have yet to cut rates".
"Rainfall totaled 83.63 inches for 2006 and 2007, the lowest since record keeping began in 1932 and almost two feet below the usual two-year average of 104.5 inches, according to the South Florida Water Management District." "South Florida had driest back-to-back years on record".
"Slain Miami police officer may have stumbled onto gunfight".
More from the "values" crowd
"Local foster teens are the second worst in the state when it comes to failing the FCAT and almost 1 in 4 have been arrested in the past year, a state survey shows." "DCF: More foster funding needed".
Our political reporters have nothing to do
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Let Democratic candidates campaign here".