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, July 30, 2011

"Stay tuned Republicans. You'll love this one"

    Professor Richard Foglesong wonders if "Democrats should worry about a primary battle between Val Demings and Alan Grayson if both stay in the race for the District 8 congressional seat currently held by Republican Daniel Webster, who defeated Grayson in 2010. Because history often repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce."
    The pertinent tragedy—for Democrats—was the ruinous primary fight between Betty Castor and Peter Deutsch in the 2004 U.S. senate race.

    It was a tragedy for their party because Deutsch's attacks on Castor left her vulnerable in the general election on the key issue of combating terrorism. Capitalizing on that vulnerability, Mel Martinez defeated the better-known Castor, winning back the seat that Paula Hawkins lost to Bob Graham in 1986. ...

    It could happen to Democrats again — the second time as farce — if Alan Grayson follows Deutsch's playbook in running against a fellow Democrat. Of the two, Demings has more appeal to independents; her law-enforcement career might win her some Republican support, even. But she is new to politics, unfamiliar with the issues and untested on the campaign trail, while Grayson is none of these things.
    "So why wouldn't [Grayson] play the role of spoiler? He has an ineffable feel for the jugular, as well as the motive and opportunity."
    And Demings, like Betty Castor, might prove vulnerable — if she can't handle his rat-tat-tat, if he pounds her on some manufactured issue, say, from her law-enforcement background, and if Democrats tolerate his bullying behavior. The last point deserves emphasis: Democrats lack their own version of Ronald Reagan's famous 11th Commandment: "Thou shall not criticize another Republican."

    Of course, Grayson and Demings might not run for the same seat. One of them could run for the new congressional seat south of Orange County that will favor a Democrat who appeals to Hispanic voters. But I'm betting on a showdown in District 8. In Demings' case because the women's advocacy group EMILY's List driving her campaign has targeted Webster, an ardent abortion foe. In Grayson's case because he seeks redemption for losing so badly to Webster in 2010.

    So stay tuned Republicans. You'll love this one.
    "Could Grayson-Demings repeat Deutsch-Castor?".

    West shrugs as "country clubs manipulate visa program"

    The Palm Beach Post editorial board: with it coming to light that "resorts and country clubs manipulate a federal visa program to hire foreign workers instead of locals, one congressman wanted to fix the problem, while another said it's "not the federal government's role."

    The latter response, from U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, is jaw-dropping. "It is not the federal government's role to mandate the hiring practices of private businesses, as long as they are not employing illegal aliens and breaking the law," Rep. West wrote in a letter to the Hispanic Human Resources Council of Palm Beach County.

    This small-government boilerplate plays great on proposals to expand federal powers. But in this case, the question was how to fix a federal visa program administered by the federal government via guidelines set out by federal lawmakers. The Constitution gives Congress power to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization," which the courts long have interpreted to include immigration authority.
    West sees no problem with
    upscale resorts and country clubs are importing hundreds of foreign workers to work as waiters, cooks and cleaners after claiming that they cannot find willing and able local workers.

    But they're not looking very hard, since they do not work with the county's Workforce Alliance, and their only recruiting is minimal advertising in local newspapers and on a state jobs website - just enough to get federal clearance to bring temporary workers into the United States.
    "Push feds on visa abuse".

    Special primary to replace Hill on Sept. 20

    "Rick Scott has set a special election to replace former Florida state Sen. Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat. Hill resigned his District 1 seat earlier this month to take a newly created job as Jacksonville's director of federal policy. Scott on Friday set a special primary for Sept. 20 and a special general election for Oct. 18." "Special election set for Fla. state Senate seat".

    Debt dopes

    "Debt ceiling: GOP holdout Rep. Bill Posey sheds light on behind-the-scenes negotiations". See also "Vern Buchanan backs Boehner plan on debt" and "GOP debt-ceiling vote finds U.S. Reps. Allen West, Tom Rooney reversing roles". Related: "Florida mayors urge congress to increase ceiling".

    The Palm Beach Post editors: "Friday's sobering report on the economy brought into even sharper focus how much damage members of Congress - particularly House Republicans - are inflicting on the country."

    But the ideologically rigid members of the House tea party faction - supported in large part by wealthy Americans whose only priority is not paying more in taxes - do not care that every dollar paid to China in higher interest is a dollar that can't go for deficit reduction. They do not understand that the power they demanded after their victories in November comes with responsibility. They are like children in a divorce who are determined to punish their parents. And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, decided that he had to placate them to keep his job.
    "Stop inviting tea partyers".

    The Saint Petersburg Times editorial board: "The crisis over raising the debt ceiling has been created by Republican tea party extremists in the House who care more about rigid ideology than their constituents or the nation's ability to pay its bills." "Show leadership on debt — or else".

    Alleged journalists don't like boycotts

    The Sun Sentinel editorial board: "Gay group wrong to demand business association disinvite Allen West".

    These media company employees are apparently unfamiliar with the fundamental role of "boycotts" in Western history. Let's start with the Dick and Jane of research tools, Wikipedia:

    The word boycott entered the English language during the Irish "Land War" and is derived from the name of Captain Charles Boycott, the land agent of an absentee landlord, Lord Erne, who lived in Lough Mask House, in County Mayo, Ireland, who was subject to social ostracism organized by the Irish Land League in 1880. As harvests had been poor that year, Lord Erne offered his tenants a ten percent reduction in their rents.

    In September of that year, protesting tenants demanded a twenty five percent reduction, which Lord Erne refused. Boycott then attempted to evict eleven tenants from the land. Charles Stewart Parnell, in a speech in Ennis prior to the events in Lough Mask, proposed that when dealing with tenants who take farms where another tenant was evicted, rather than resorting to violence, everyone in the locality should shun them. While Parnell's speech did not refer to land agents or landlords, the tactic was first applied to Boycott when the alarm was raised about the evictions.

    Despite the short-term economic hardship to those undertaking this action, Boycott soon found himself isolated — his workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as in his house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him, and the local postman refused to deliver mail.

    The concerted action taken against him meant that Boycott was unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually 50 Orangemen[*] from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered to do the work [a/k/a "scabs"]. They were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers, despite the fact that the local Land League leaders had said that there would be no violence from them, and in fact no violence materialized. This protection ended up costing far more than the harvest was worth. After the harvest, the "boycott" was successfully continued ...
    Indeed, boycotting
    dates back to at least 1830, when the National Negro Convention encouraged a boycott of slave-produced goods.

    Other instances of boycotts are their use by African Americans during the US civil rights movement (notably the Montgomery Bus Boycott); the United Farm Workers union grape and lettuce boycotts; the American boycott of British goods at the time of the American Revolution; the Indian boycott of British goods organized by Gandhi; the successful Jewish boycott organized against Henry Ford in the USA, in the 1920s; the boycott of Japanese products in China after the May Fourth Movement; the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott of German goods in Lithuania, the USA, Britain and Poland during 1933 ....
    "Wikipedia 'Boycott'" (footnotes omitted).

    If the editors want to do some real research, they should read NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982), where the United States Supreme Court made clear that peaceful boycotts are protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Funny how newspaper company employees like to gas on about the first amendment protects freedom of the press, but overlook how the amendment likewise protects boycotts.

    Indeed, Florida newspapers and their employees have been predictably silent over the years when significant Florida legal cases have affirmed the right of citizens to ... ahem ... boycott. Most recently, a federal court ruled that handbilling and "street theater" by a Florida union calling for a boycott was protected by the first amendment: "the Union is correct that, pursuant to DeBartolo, its attempt to persuade consumers to boycott the Hospital must be evaluated in a manner consistent with the First Amendment. Under the Court's ... constitutional guidance with which the Union quite obviously complied, the mock funeral was not "threaten[ing], coerc[ive], or restrain[ing]". Sheet Metal Workers, Local 15, AFL-CIO, Petitioner
    v. National Labor Relations Board
    , 491 F.3d 429 (DC Cir. 2007); Kentov v. Sheet Metal Workers, Local 15, AFL-CIO, 418 F.3d 1259 (11th Cir. 2005). See also, Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. v. Florida Gulf Coast Building & Construction Trades Council, 485 U.S. 568 (1988).

    - - - - - - - - - -
    *If you don't know who the "Orangemen" were, then any discussion about boycotts or collective action for social justice is pointless.

    Never mind

    "Florida Lottery Sales Up, But Do Proceeds Enrich Education 'Enhancement'? No Answer".

    Scott pushes phoney voter fraud claims in DC federal court

    "Florida's top election official said he asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., rather than the U.S. Justice Department to approve a new state election law on Friday because he wants the decision to be free of 'outside influence.'"

    Opponents of the Republican-sponsored law contend it's designed to suppress turnout by minorities who tend to vote Democratic.

    Secretary of State Kurt Browning disputed that argument in his request for a declaratory judgment from a three-judge panel in Washington. His filing means the court instead of Attorney General Eric Holder will decide if the law complies with the federal Voting Rights Act.

    Republicans say the law is needed to prevent voting fraud. Florida is one of several states in which GOP-controlled legislatures have passed such laws this year.
    "Fla. asks DC court to approve state election law". See also "Florida election law goes to court".

    It 'jus water

    "State may cut back on beach water testing".

    Hasner insists he's crazy

    "Adam Hasner is branding himself in Florida's Republican U.S. Senate primary as the perfect trifecta: an anti-establishment, principled conservative who was among the first to confront Charlie Crist's moderate ways."

    Once called the "most partisan Republican in Tallahassee," by Marco Rubio, Hasner waged battles against labor unions and led the charge in 2009 to reject $444 million in federal stimulus money for unemployment compensation, saying it hurt businesses and created new entitlements.

    But Hasner also supported a watered-down climate-change law that the Legislature now wants to repeal. And he voted for a budget with $2.2 billion in tax and fee increases and billions more in federal stimulus money. He also favored high-speed rail and SunRail, which tea party activists came to abhor.
    "Hasner's past doesn't match the pitch".

    Weekly Roundup

    "Weekly Roundup: Sinkhole Black Hole".

    "Florida Republicans have turned down millions in federal funds that would have gone to fight child abuse and neglect"

    "Since federal health care reform was passed, Florida legislators have turned down millions in federal funds that would have gone to home visiting programs that aim to fight child abuse and neglect. According to new reports, Florida leaders say they have declined the funds because the state is currently a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the federal government over the very law that allocates the funds."


    Other states involved in the case against federal health care reform have accepted funds from the law.
    "Healthy State examines why Florida legislators rejected federal child abuse prevention dollars".

    "Hubris is no one's friend and irony is a nag"

    Even Kathleen Parker can see: "Take names. Remember them. The behavior of certain Republicans who call themselves tea party conservatives are the most destructive posse of misguided 'patriots' we've seen in recent memory."

    Parker contines, writing that

    the bottom line is that the tea party got too full of itself with help from certain characters whose names you'll want to remember when things go south. They include, among others, media personalities who need no further recognition; a handful of media-created "leaders," including Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips and Tea Party Patriots co-founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler (both Phillips and Martin declared bankruptcy, yet they're advising tea party Republicans on debt?); a handful of outside groups who love to hurl ad hominems such as "elite" and "inside the Beltway" when talking about people like Boehner when they are, in fact, the elite (FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity); and elected leaders such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the Republican Study Committee, and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who grandstand and make political assertions and promises that are sheer fantasy. ...

    Hubris is no one's friend and irony is a nag. The tea partyers [sic] who wanted to oust Barack Obama have greatly enhanced his chances for re-election by undermining their own leader and damaging the country in the process. The debt ceiling may have been raised and the crisis averted by the time this column appears, but that event should not erase the memory of what transpired. The tea party was a movement that changed the conversation in Washington, but it has steeped too long and has become toxic.

    It's time to toss it out.
    "The Tea Fragger Party".

    Batista crowd panicking

    "Cuba approves flights from 9 more American cities, including Tampa and Fort Lauderdale".

    Derby: Some Candidates Wilting

    Kevin Derby: "In GOP's Growing Presidential Field, Some Candidates Wilt".

    Turning higher education into a factory

    "Here's a piece of advice for college freshmen in Florida who plan to earn a bachelor's degree at a public university: Know what you want to study in advance, or it could cost you a lot more on the tail end. In a push to save money and force students to finish their studies as fast as possible, Florida's public universities have doubled the fee they charge students who take more classes than they need for graduation." "College students: Know your major or you may pay double".

    Wingnut parade

    "Presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is scheduled to speak at CPAC FL in September. The American Conservative Union event — its first regional Conservative Political Action Conference — will be held in Orlando." "Bachmann adds second Florida conservative event to schedule".

    "Research Desk"

    "Scott names new agency heads, Jotkoff leaves FL Democratic Party, and Veterans' Hall of Fame Controversy". See also "Florida drug law unconstitutional, Lethal injection drug challenge, Randolph wants to see redistricting lawsuit billing records", "Keck to leave Department of Citrus, Rep Bullard hosts agriculture roundtable, Group fights citrus greening" and "Haridopolos comments on Senate race, Bachmann joins CPAC FL, Tracking campaign donations from developer Catalfumo".

    Redistricting Round-up

    "Round-up of redistricting coverage for 7/29".

    Rick Scott will get right on it

    "After an eight-month fight to win unemployment benefits, Glen Thibodeau's victory rang surprisingly hollow."

    Florida's Unemployment Appeals Commission had ruled in his favor, but the Orlando man was told he wouldn't get the money he was owed — at least $7,500 by his count.
    "Jobless man wins appeal but still can't get benefits".

    Wait till the Teabaggers hear this

    "A heavy-hitting fundraiser for GOP Senate candidate Adam Hasner wants Republicans to 'embrace the principle of compromise' and back a tax increase to break the debt-deficit deadlock in Washington, D.C." "Adam Hasner Fundraiser Pitches Tax Increases in D.C.".

    Nah ... Ricky didn't storm Iwo with with Reagan

    "The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs sought to distance the Scott administration from its list of controversial names that it had initially put forth to be the first class of people inducted into the newly created Veterans Hall of Fame. ... Yesterday, news hit that the first list was to include six governors who served in the Confederate Army – one of them convicted of intimidating black citizens, and Gov. Rick Scott, who served in the Navy." "Vet affairs will put out new list of names for Hall of Fame".

    Tallahassee Geniuses

    The Saint Petersburg Times editors: "It took nearly a decade, but a federal court judge has finally put due process back into Florida drug laws by declaring a key statute unconstitutional. The results could throw the state's criminal justice system into mass confusion as the legality of past drug-related convictions is questioned. Lawmakers must fix the law as soon as possible."

    One of the fundamental precepts of criminal law is that for a person to be guilty of a crime he or she must have intended to commit it. This intent requirement, or mens rea, ensures that innocent conduct isn't treated as criminal.

    While Florida's drug law didn't explicitly include this guilty knowledge requirement, the Florida Supreme Court in a series of cases read the requirement into the statute as a way to salvage its constitutionality. The court required juries, to determine guilt, to find that defendants knew of the illicit nature of the substances in their possession.

    But in response, and explicitly citing the Supreme Court's decisions, state lawmakers repealed this intent requirement in 2002. They did so in contravention of the due process right of criminal defendants to be presumed innocent until the state proves them guilty of every element of a crime. Nonetheless, this is where the law has stood since.
    "Due process restored in Fla. drug law".

    "Thanks to legislation Scott signed into law"

    The Orlando Sentinel editorial board: "Because a rise in sinkhole claims has caused Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to pay out more than it collects in premiums for that particular line of coverage, it's payback time. Thanks to legislation Gov. Rick Scott signed into law in the spring, sinkhole policyholders soon will feel like they've been thrown, head-first, into the gaping cavities." "The bottom could fall out for homeowners needing sinkhole coverage".

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