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 Saturday, March 29, 2008

Florida Republicans goose stepping to Limbaugh's tune

    It isn't much of a surprise, but Florida's country club wingnuts - those courageous trust fund entrepreneurs (a French word) who pray at the temple of draft evader* Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (his real name) - are obeying his instructions to the GOPer fringe undermine McCain**.

    You see, "in the must-win state of Florida, many of the top Republican money-raisers have yet to step up for their presidential nominee. Consider that of Florida's 66 so-called Pioneers or Rangers who raised at least $100,000 for Bush-Cheney in 2000 or 2004, only nine have contributed to McCain" "GOP money in Florida slow to flow to McCain".

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *It bears repeating that Limbaugh, like his fellow chickenhawks, did not serve - he managed to wrangle a deferment. Snopes quotes from a Limbaugh bio, as follows: "for all his father's patriotism, and deep-rooted fear of Communism, Rusty (Rush) did not enlist to preserve those ideals. The official explanation, (brother) David Limbaugh says, is that Rush had a student deferment and ... a pilonidal cyst on his ass which qualified him for a medical deferment". And precisely what is a "pilonidal cyst'? According to military records, it is a cyst near Rushbo's considerable derrière in
    which excess tissue and hair may collect, causing discomfort and discharge.
    Rush couldn't buck up and fight the Commies because he might be ... ahem ... "uncomfortable"? Quite a RPOF leader, that Rush person.

    **See e.g., "McCain Almost Left the GOP -- Twice" and "Limbaugh on McCain". The idiot wind yesterday.

    What kind of "stewardship over the earth" is this?

    "Did you know that 300 million gallons of raw sewage is "pumped by water utilities into the Atlantic Ocean each day"?

    Southern Baptists say that the Bible teaches "that when God made mankind, He commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures (Gen. 1:26-28)." Surely dumping 300 million gallons of crap and urine into the ocean each day is inconsistent with "stewardship over the earth"?

    Where are our Tallahassee evangelicals? Surely tax cuts are not more important than the teachings of the Bible?

    Rubio is apparently nuts

    The St. Petersburg Times editorial board: "With his ear trained on antitax groups, maybe House Speaker Marco Rubio just couldn't hear the citizens who nearly forced an antigrowth amendment to the ballot this fall."

    But if he really thinks Florida would be better off with no development controls and no state growth agency, he will become the poster child for Hometown Democracy.

    Back in January, at a business editors' summit, Rubio went so far as to suggest he might try to abolish the state Department of Community Affairs, which oversees growth-management laws. "Regulatory compliance," he was quoted as telling the group, "is a tax."

    If regulatory compliance is a tax, then the construction industry clearly has been exempted. Look around: clogged highways, overflowing landfills, water shortages, condo towers. The 1985 Growth Management Act that developers warned would lead to widespread building moratoriums has instead served as little more than a speed bump.
    "For sensible growth".

    To which we might add, "if regulatory compliance is a tax", so is any fee increase or toll increase (even if the road is privatized), etc.

    Still more from the "values" crowd

    Here's a great way to save bucks: "The Senate has proposed slicing $6 million from the current prison food budget, while the House wants to cut $11 million." This, despite the fact that"mushy bland broccoli stems accompanied by a greasy mystery meat endowed with undercooked rice is as good as it gets for inmates behind bars. But, according to the vendor who provides the food and some lawmakers, that's still too good. Critics suggest the proposed new contract is really an attempt by Aramark to make more money by paying less for food. The company is paid not by the number of meals consumed but by the number of inmates. If fewer inmates eat the food, Aramark can save money by providing less food."

    Here's an idea: the government has 300 million gallons of "water" a day at its disposal; why not contribute it to the state prison system to be used for showers, laundering, moping floors and the like (it probably isn't potable, but you never know).

    And isn't this a nice commentary on the RPOF's privatization initiative:

    Aramark wants to do more than change the menu. The company also is proposing cutting back on the number of workers it provides prisons, shifting the responsibility to corrections officials.

    Guards would have to fill in, posing a problem for an already understaffed corrections system that could lose 1,800 guards under the Senate proposal, according to corrections officials.

    Since signing a contract with the state seven years ago, Aramark has received mixed reviews. There have been questions about food quality, quantity and potential health violations. At times, the company has been fined by the state for failure to meet the specifications of its contract.
    "Vendor, lawmakers suggest cutting $11 million from prison food deals". Back in the day (and don't ask why we know this), prison trustees would assist state employees (not corrections officers) cook the food, and that was that.

    Of alleged evil doers and paint ball guns

    Here's the rub:

    there is no evidence the men ever acquired any explosives or took any viable steps toward making the alleged plots a reality. Defense lawyers say the months of discussions about terrorism were orchestrated by the FBI and their two paid informants, unfairly entrapping the suspects.

    Attorney Albert Levin, who represents defendant Patrick Abraham, told jurors that the Bush administration and FBI are desperate to get convictions to show their strategy of preventing terrorism at the earliest stages is working.

    "This is an administration that made the war on terrorism priority number one. They want this case real bad," Levin said, pointing to the defendants. "These guys? Go find Osama bin Laden, please."
    "Jury begins deliberations in Sears Tower terror plot case".

    Can't we at least agree on this?

    "Since 2001, there are about a dozen documented cases in Florida of people sexually assaulting animals.

    While that may be disgusting, it's not illegal. Florida is one of about 20 states with no specific law prohibiting sex acts with animals." ...

    A bill introduced this session (SB 744, HB 1227) would make any contact, for the purpose of sexual gratification, with an animal a felony.
    Sen. Nan Rich, Weston Democrat "took up this bill because she believes animal abusers eventually hurt other people ... But Rich has not been to get the bill before a committee. She has asked [Republican]* Sen. Paula Dockery, chairwoman of the criminal justice committee, to take it up. Dockery could not be reached for comment." There appears to be "backlash" from a certain part of the State:
    Dee Thompson-Poirrier, director of animal control for Okaloosa County, understands the uneasiness. She said there was a lot of backlash in the community when she investigated the goat case last year in nearby Walton County**.

    When Thompson-Poirrier pushed to have a rape kit done, she said she heard: "It's just a goat lady, get a grip. A lot of people said you're wasting your money. You're wasting the court's time."
    "Bestiality bill finds slim support". Perhaps this tender part of Florida believes animal rape is a personal matter that should be handled within the goat's family, without wasteful government intrusion - after all, panhandlers believe there's already too much government regulation already? And ... hey, maybe goat stuff like that is perceived in the panhandle as part of the maturing process (of goats, that is).

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *For some reason, Dockery's political party (unlike Rich's) wasn't mentioned in the article. Dockery is of course a Republican.

    ** It is no secret that, "in the Florida Panhandle, with its stereotype of a Republican bloc-vote of retired military officers, the Christian right and unreconstructed Good Ol' Boys ... there isn't much of a presidential race ... [in 2000' Bush won the region with roughly 70 percent of the vote ... The issue's unspoken subtext is whether the region has become a Capital of Dumb and Nasty in the United States." "The Redneck Riviera, where Bush can't lose".

    It ain't exactly like ...

    ... you know ... when the drafted that Declaration of Independence thingy. The property-tax swap proposed for the November ballot remains unchanged as the committee assigned to write the final draft of the controversial plan to amend the state Constitution postponed its work until next week."

    The Style and Drafting Committee of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission is charged with refining the wording of the amendment that will ask voters to replace $9.6 billion in property taxes that fund schools with sales taxes and other sources of revenue.

    But the committee struggled with what to do to fix it.

    For example, the committee asked, can they use the wording from a nearly identical proposal that is more artfully drawn or would that render the measure vulnerable to a legal challenge?
    "Another word on tax-swap proposal". See also "Final wording of proposed tax-swap amendment in flux" and "Taxation and Budget Reform Commission tweaks tax swap proposal before it heads to Florida ballot" The chair of this august Committee?: one Patricia Levesque, "Jeb!"

    Florida's tuff on crime

    "The recent arrests of two 93-year-old men in Manatee County on solicitation of prostitution charges has steamrolled across the Web in a matter of days." "93-Year-Olds In Sex Sting Make News Around World".

    Florida's booming economy

    "About 422,000 Florida residents out of a labor force of 9.2 million were out of work last month." "Fla. unemployment remained steady in February at 3-year high".

    Corporate welfare for the tourism "industry"

    The Tampa Tribune editorial board argues that, "with the state facing a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion, now is not the time to grow the budget for marketing, which Gov. Charlie Crist wants the Legislature to do. Agencies that receive state money should hold the line on spending, just as many families are being forced to do. Crist wants $10 million added to the state's tourism-promotion agency, Visit Florida, for the next fiscal year. If approved, the agency's public funding would jump from about $33.3 million to more than $43 million." "Boosting Budget To Market State A Difficult Sell In Face Of Cuts".

    "This is ... not Dogpatch"

    Daniel Ruth never tires of urinating up a rope, with pleas like this: "This is the fourth-largest state in the union. It's not Dogpatch."

    A few days ago, Hillsborough Circuit Court Chief Judge Manuel Menendez warned that the budget ax poised over the hall of justice could well bring the courts to a virtual standstill.

    Up in Tallahassee, there is talk of upping the ante to go to a state university. Public schools are trimming their budgets. Health care looks to be on life support.

    And if the bean counters have their way, the streets will start to look like something out of "The Grapes of Wrath."

    Who is responsible for this?

    Well, if you were one of those harrumphing Floridians who voted to reduce your property taxes when you approved Amendment 1 in January, the culprit to hold partly accountable for turning the state into "Deadwood" is - well, it's you, bunky.
    "Like It Or Not, Bunky, Freedom Isn't Really Free".

    Whoa: "if the bean counters have their way, the streets will start to look like something out of 'The Grapes of Wrath.'" Now that's a keeper.

    A bit much

    Sure, it's better than Jebbie's double entendre ("Kick their asses out!"), but The St. Petersburg Times editorial board is expecting a bit much don't you think: "The Legislature's baring of the shameful record of slavery should make Floridians more sensitive to calls in the black community for help in overcoming traditional barriers to education, jobs and other opportunities. Indeed, the second part of the Wednesday's resolution called for lawmakers to 'promote' healing and reconciliation. Floridians need to build on this long overdue apology." "A solemn slavery apology".


    "As part of a cost-cutting move, House Republicans have proposed the suspension of patient-care standards at Florida nursing homes." "Staffing cuts weighed for nursing homes".

    Mahoney mixes it up

    "Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, a superdelegate who won't commit to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, criticized both candidates today for refusing to campaign in Florida before the state's disputed Jan. 29 primary." "Mahoney criticizes Clinton and Obama, won't commit to either".

    "A quintessential smear campaign"

    "In a six-page ruling, the 5th District Court of Appeal found Guetzloe could be prosecuted on a single misdemeanor count for failing to include in a mailed flier that it was a 'paid electioneering communication.' The court upheld the charge and ordered him to be resentenced in the case. Guetzloe had pleaded no contest to the charges in Orange County court, pending his appeal. The court referred to Guetzloe's efforts in the 2006 campaign as 'a quintessential smear campaign.'" "Most of Goetzloe's violations overturned".

    One man's vice ...

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board thinks an "Increase in Florida's cigarette tax makes sense".

    Knuckledraggers admit using Con amendments as a GOTV scheme

    "Republicans hope advancing the two causes will serve as a "market correction" to the party under Crist, nourish soft support for presidential nominee John McCain and combat recent Democratic gains in state elections."

    "There has been no shortage of stories that the Christian right is dead. But family values voters are surging right now," said John Stemberger, the Orlando activist behind the gay marriage ban.

    "There's a lot of people just looking for leadership and issues that can bring them out. Now we have those vehicles," said Dennis Baxley, a former state representative from Ocala who now heads the Christian Coalition of Florida.

    Whether the surge is something real or a last gasp of the Jeb Bush era remains to be seen, of course. But getting the items on the ballot is an unqualified success that took many by surprise.
    Much more from Alex Leary here: "Conservatives show they still matter".

    Under water

    "Coastal communities in South Florida need to start planning now if they want to avoid damage from rising sea levels, federal and state officials said Friday." If you thought this might amount to some sort of recognition that gloabal warming exists, you'd be wrong:

    Participants at the briefing did not specifically use the term "global warming."
    "Coasts urged to prepare for rising sea levels".


    "A bill before a Florida Senate committee would cut in half the amount of money the Innovation Incentive Fund grant program invests in biotechnology companies and research centers." "Measure could cut biotech funding".

    And your point is?

    Douglas Lyons thinks the RPOFers are so nice to recognize that slavery was a bad thing: "State lawmakers this week officially apologized for slavery. It would be easy to blow the whole thing off with such knee-jerk statements like "It's about time!', 'Better late than never!' or simply 'So what?' But, this is the Florida Legislature we're talking about here, and say what you want about them, few would put the words 'politically correct' and 'state legislators' in the same sentence to describe this bunch. It just isn't done." "Douglas C. Lyons: Enlightened resolution by Legislature".

    'Ya reckon?

    The South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board asks the question that should be on everyone's mind?: "Since when do school vouchers qualify as a tax and budget reform?" "Floridians are closer than they think to a vote on whether to spend tax dollars on religious institutions, including private schools. It's not like the public's clamoring for it, as they are for property tax and insurance reform, but that hasn't deterred the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission." "School vouchers shouldn't be part of Florida's needed tax and budget reform".

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