FLORIDA POLITICS
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Thanks for visiting. On a 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 Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Stoned chimpanzees have a keener grasp of constitutional law"

    Notice to Readers - Some of you know we also maintain a presence on facebook.  Because we exceeded the 5,000 Facebook "friend" limit awhile back, we had to change the profile page to a organization page, which means changes for those readers of this blog who are also use Facebook. So, please go there and if you "like" it then, ya' know, please like it. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.


    "Stoned chimpanzees have a keener grasp of constitutional law"

    Carl Hiaasen: "The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch."
    Last week they uncorked the first of a series of commercials from their political action committee, Americans for Prosperity. The targets are Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
    They were three of the five-vote majority that in 2010 knocked down a half-baked amendment slapped together by state lawmakers seeking to nullify the federal Affordable Health Care Act.
    The Florida Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions in finding that the proposed amendment contained “misleading and ambiguous language,” the hallmark of practically everything produced by this Legislature. Stoned chimpanzees have a keener grasp of constitutional law.
    "The mission of the Kochs, hiding as always behind their super PAC, is to get the three justices dumped at the polls so that Gov. Rick Scott can appoint replacements."
    This is worth repeating: If the Kochs have their way, Rick Scott — yes, that Rick Scott — gets to pack the Supreme Court with his own hand-picked crew.
    Yikes is right.
    The head of the Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity is a person called Slade O’ Brien, whose job is to keep a straight face while saying things like: “We’re not advocating for the election or defeat of any of the justices. What we’re attempting to do is call more attention to them advocating from the bench.”
    Meanwhile the state GOP’s executive board is less coy. It voted to oppose the retention of Quince, Lewis and Pariente, branding them “too extreme.”
    "Well, let’s have a peek at these dangerous radicals."
    Justice Pariente, 63, has been on the court for 15 years. She was graduated from George Washington University Law School and clerked in Fort Lauderdale under U.S. District Judge Norm Roettger, who was no softie.
    Justice Lewis, 64, who was graduated cum laude from the University of Miami Law School, has been on the court almost 14 years. Both he and Pariente were appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles, not exactly a wild-eyed liberal.
    Justice Quince, also 64, is the first African-American woman on the Supreme Court. A graduate of the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, she worked for years prosecuting death-penalty cases in the state Attorney General’s office.
    In 1999, she was jointly selected for the high court by Chiles and that wacky left-winger, Jeb Bush.
    Twice before Floridians have voted to keep these justices, but now the Kochs from Wichita say they know better. You won’t see David or Charlie in any of the campaign commercials because they don’t like people to know they’re prying.
    "Billionaire Koch brothers try to buy state’...".


    Florida's Republican "state party leaders have doused themselves in irony"

    Fred Grimm: "For the better part of two years now, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Republican Party have been scouring the state like a sheriff and his posse, hot on the trail of election bandits."
    Turns out, our Republican gunslingers didn’t have far to look. The wily varmints corrupting Florida’s electoral process have been working right under their noses. Republican party operatives were running what appear to be a fraudulent voter registration activities in at least nine Florida counties (including Miami-Dade) and probably more. And they were doing it with party money. Strategic Allied Consulting, the party’s highest paid vendor, reportedly collected $667,598 in July, and another $667,598 in August to register new voters. But all that money came with a wink. . . .
    “One of my workers noticed that a lot of the applications had very similar handwriting and signatures and other discrepancies,” Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher told [Grimm] Friday. The worker summoned Bucher. She noticed that dates were wrong. Ages were wrong. Some of the home addresses actually corresponded to commercial locations, including a gas station and a car dealership. The supervisor counted 106 new registration forms she considered blatant works of fraud. She called the Palm Beach County State Attorney.
    Bucher also put in a call to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who oversees the state’s elections. Detzner, a former lobbyist for the beer industry, has been the governor’s big gun in the campaign against election fraud. But apparently not this particular sort of election fraud. Bucher said Friday that she still hasn’t heard back from Detzner or one of his deputies. After the story hit the newspapers last week, “I got a call from the kid who answers the phones in his office. That’s all.”
    It was only "[a]fter the story broke last week, roiling through the newspapers, political blogs and cable television, the Florida Republican Party fired the outfit."
    But it’s not like the Republicans didn’t know who they were hiring. Strategic Allied Consulting is run by a well-connected Arizona political consultant named Nathan Sproul with a national reputation for sleazy tactics.
    In 2004, Salon reported: “During the past week and a half, several former employees, elections officials and others across the country who’ve had dealings with [Sproul Associates] have revealed to various local media outlets Sproul’s methods for boosting GOP registration in key swing states. The accounts allege that Sproul’s workers were encouraged to lie, cheat and, according to Eric Russell, a former Sproul employee in Las Vegas who first told his story to a local television station last week, even destroy the registration forms of Democrats who’d registered to vote with Sproul canvassers.” . . .
    And now . . . oh my . . .state party leaders have doused themselves in irony. For months, Scott and the Republican Party had been raging over the imagined hordes of illegal voters who would corrupt Florida’s elections. They’ve cajoled and threatened county election supervisors to purge registration rolls using the state-provided check-list of 2,631 supposedly illicit voters, most of them of the immigrant kind. And you know which way those damned illegal immigrants lean. Except the county supervisors noticed that many names on that list turned out to be upright citizens.
    And the legislature passed a constitutionally suspect law designed to discourage non-partisan groups, like that notorious gang known as the League of Women Voters, by requiring that they turn in new registrations within 48 hours or face draconian penalties. The law served to tamp down new registrations in the state by requiring what a federal judge described as “burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose.”
    The same judge tossed the 48-hour provision, saying, “If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work. Otherwise there is little reason for such a requirement.”
    I suppose the law did demonstrate the zeal of our political leadership to root out voter registration fraud. Yet these same pols hired a notorious rogue to run their own registration operation. But only on the condition that he changed the name of his company.
    Oh yeah . . . about that list of 2,631 illegal voters, the great perceived threat to Florida’s election integrity. The actual number of suspicious names that needed to be culled from the state’s voter registration rolls came to 198. That’s 198 suspect voters out of 11,446,540 registered statewide. That’s all the bad guys the state bagged in this great, two-year crusade against election fraud. Strategic Allied Consultants managed more lousy registrations than that in just two months.
    “This is so disheartening. These people coming into our state to do this, said Bucher. “It’s disconcerting to think that this has been going on all across the country.
    Bucher has not yet received that call back from the secretary of state’s office to get the details on her county’s 106 fraudulent registrations.
    Detzner’s office did, however, send her the names of all those suspected illegal immigrants on the Palm Beach County registration roles. “We had 14,” she said.
    "State Republicans find fraud close to home". See also "More counties find voter form errors".


    Mike La Rosa is not Mike Horner

    "Mike La Rosa, part of the family-operated La Rosa Development Corp. in Celebration and Kissimmee, was named to run as the Republican candidate for House District 42."
    The majority of Republican Party executive committee members from Osceola and Polk counties agreed on La Rosa after interviewing finalists for the position at the Omni Hotel in Champions Gate. . . .
    La Rosa’s name will not appear on the ballot as he replaces Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, who withdrew from the contest on Sept. 24 after his name surfaced on a brothel client list.
    Oh yeah, and he's another "self-made-man" ... err ... daddy's boy:
    La Rosa is a Miami native who attended the University of Central Florida, remaining in the area with his brother Michael La Rosa to sell real estate as La Rosa Realty LLC.
    The brothers later partnered with their father, Andrew La Rosa, to create La Rosa Development, with projects including Paradise Palms Resort in West Osceola County and the Celebration Office Condos.
    "GOP Names Mike La Rosa to Replace Mike Horner in District 42".


    "Behold! Davids appear to slay Goliaths"

    Stephen Goldstein is his usual outstanding self today, pointing out that, "For decades, there has been a steady drift away from fair-and-balanced media coverage and towards corporate consolidation, the net effect of which has been to turn the (primarily radio) airwaves into an echo chamber for right-wing propaganda."
    It started in 1987 when, during the Reagan Administration (but of course!), the FCC abandoned the long-standing Fairness Doctrine that had required broadcasters to air segments on controversial topics of public interest and provide time for contrasting views to be heard. Without that offset, the floodgates opened to rantings and ravings like Rush Limbaugh's.
    The right wing gained additional momentum with the mockery that's been made of the equal-time rule, which was supposed to require media to give comparable exposure to political candidates, but which has so many loopholes and exceptions it is now farcical. How else could openly partisan FOX get away with being the voice of the right wing?
    Add to all of this the liberalizing of media ownership rules so companies can expand their reach, Citizens United, and corporate conglomerates turning news into entertainment, and the net result is a mainstream media environment that is at best a joke, at worst complicitous in destroying any meaningful forum for public debate — an environment that Rove and others like him have mastered for so long. Little did they know the drubbing they were in for.
    Behold! Davids appear to slay Goliaths —turning the Koch brothers blue and Sheldon Adelson's hair white, and throwing Rove & Co.'s takeover of America into a tailspin. How positively delicious!
    It wasn't all that long ago when having Internet access was rare, almost exotic. At least publicly, no one talked about where cyberspace was going — along with people in it.
    Gradually, the Internet became a fact of life, email the way to communicate, a website the sine qua non of every business and individual.
    And then suddenly, it happened: Out of the gregarious urge imprinted on our DNA, people discovered the Internet's capacity to link people everywhere — and not just link but create ties that bind. To be sure, it's been infected with its share of pond scum and bottom feeders. But certain platforms have emerged as powerhouses of people-power — spreading truths, fact-checking lies.
    Social media have filled the void left by the defanging of the mainstream media. In addition, savvy operatives figured out that what works in cyberspace is telling the truth. It is no accident that on Twitter, @BarackObama has 20 million followers; @MittRomney has 1.1 million--and Mitt's lies aren't sticking.
    Beware! Goliaths will take revenge with a vengeance with every last buck the Kochs will give them. The Rove-types are taking more incoming attacks than they're delivering. After they've spent gazillions to destroy Obama, he's going up in the polls; Romney/Ryan is sinking.
    "Internet ushers in Age of Truth".


    Things get worse for Dorworth

    Scott Maxwell: "Last week, things got even worse, as Dorworth refused to disclose details about special-interest-funded trips he took to Taiwan and San Francisco."  "More Dorworth embarrassments for GOP -- time for a new speaker".

    University of West Florida ... it figures

    "The 13 projections are contained in the new issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, which is published by the American Political Science Association. Eight of them project that Obama will win the popular vote; five say the popular vote will go to Romney." And when you need an outlier, why go anywhere else than the University of West Florida:
    One of the most bearish about the president’s prospects is Alfred G. Cuzan, the department chairman at the University of West Florida. He notes that since 1880, a sitting president has lost his reelection bid only six times, and only twice when the incumbent had succeeded a president of a different party.
    But Cuzan, whose model is called the “Fiscal Model,” looks at changes in government spending relative to the size of the economy as his guide. He argues that the expansionary spending policies of the president dim his chances of winning.
    “Even if he does squeeze by the Republican candidate,” Cuzan wrote, “it is highly likely that President Obama would do so with a smaller share of the vote than in 2008, the first president in well over a century to be reelected to a second term by a thinner margin of victory than he received the first time around.”
    "Romney or Obama? Scholars make their picks for 2012".


    "The first presidential race since the Citizens United decision"

    The Miami Herald editorial board: "This electoral season, the first presidential race since the Citizens United decision, has produced more divisive campaign ads than ever before, and the frustratingly weak economy has raised the anxiety level over the nation’s future." "Countdown to the election".


    Provisional ballots, the hanging chad issue of 2012?

    "New voting laws in key states [including Florida] could force a lot more voters to cast provisional ballots this election, delaying results in close races for days while election officials scrutinize ballots and campaigns wage legal battles over which ones should get counted."
    Some new laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls are still being challenged in court, adding to the uncertainty as the Nov. 6 election nears.
    "It's a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election," said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida.
    Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: [1] They don't bring proper ID to the polls; [2] they fail to update their voter registration after moving; [3] they try to vote at the wrong precinct; [4] or their right to vote is challenged by someone.
    These voters may have their votes counted, but only if election officials can verify that they were eligible to vote, a process that can take days or weeks. Adding to the potential for chaos: Many states won't even know how many provisional ballots have been cast until sometime after Election Day.
    Voters cast nearly 2.1 million provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election. About 69 percent were eventually counted, according to results compiled by the Associated Press. . . .
    "In a close election, all eyes are going to be on those provisional ballots, and those same canvassing boards that were looking at pregnant chads and hanging chads back in 2000," Smith said. "It's a potential mess."
    "Provisional ballots may be hanging chad issue of 2012".


    Debbie Wasserman Schultz steers clear of campaigning

    "U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz celebrated at a major wing-ding on her 46th birthday — but the party wasn’t for her. The Weston Democrat was the keynote speaker at the opening of Nova Southeastern University’s $50 million coral reef research center on Thursday — a spectacular facility built with $15 million from the Obama administration’s much-criticized stimulus program. But in a room packed with NSU and Broward County power-brokers, many of them Republicans, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman and vocal Obama supporter cautiously avoided any overtly political statements during the university’s celebration." "Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz celebrates birthday, steers clear of campaigning at Nova".


    10 suggested right-wing theme park changes

    It is no secret that Walt Disney was a right-wing nut before it was cool to be a right-wing nut, but Frank Cerabino gives Walt Disney World everything it deserves and more this morning for its financial support of, well ... right-wing nuts: "As a Floridian who has spent many a day traipsing through your theme parks, I thought I was an expert on all things Disney."
    But last week I learned that 90 percent of the $2.5 million in political contributions Disney has spent this election cycle in Florida is going to Republicans and Republican causes, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
    I had no idea your theme parks were so aligned with Republican philosophies. I think it would be great if you made that more clear to your visitors.
    So here are 10 suggested changes to your theme parks that would align them morey with your political views.
    See what he means here: "Suggestions for how Disney World can align more with its GOP dollars".


    Good luck with that

    "Schools chief to urge governor to stop more state mandates".


    Undecided voters leaning Obama

    "Polls have shifted toward the president since the Democratic convention. Interviews with voters shed some light on why, and on the challenge facing the Republican." "Undecided voters lean from Romney toward Obama".

    "All gave some, some gave all." Romney gave nothing

    "Jim Webb’s departures from party orthodoxy are frequent. As recently as last November, the retiring Virginia Democratic senator was reluctant to commit to campaigning for President Barack Obama. So Webb’s bladework on Mitt Romney was as unexpected as it was memorable. From Webb’s introductory remarks before Obama’s Virginia Beach appearance:"
    "Governor Romney and I are about the same age. Like millions of others in our generation, we came to adulthood facing the harsh realities of the Vietnam War. 2.7 million in our age group went to Vietnam, a war which eventually took the lives of 58,000 young Americans and cost another 300,000 wounded. The Marine Corps lost 100,000 killed or wounded in that war. During the year I was in Vietnam, 1969, our country lost twice as many dead as we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the past 10 years of war. 1968 was worse. 1967 was about the same. Not a day goes by when I do not think about the young Marines I was privileged to lead."
    "This was a time of conscription, where every American male was eligible to be drafted. People made choices about how to deal with the draft, and about military service. I have never envied or resented any of the choices that were made as long as they were done within the law. But those among us who stepped forward to face the harsh unknowns and the lifelong changes that can come from combat did so with the belief that their service would be honored, and that our leaders would, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, care for those who had borne the battle, and for their widows and their children."
    "Those young Marines that I led have grown older now. They’ve lived lives of courage, both in combat and after their return, where many of them were derided by their own peers for having served. That was a long time ago. They are not bitter. They know what they did. But in receiving veterans’ benefits, they are not takers. They were givers, in the ultimate sense of that word. There is a saying among war veterans: “All gave some, some gave all.” This is not a culture of dependency. It is a part of a long tradition that gave this country its freedom and independence. They paid, some with their lives, some through wounds and disabilities, some through their emotional scars, some through the lost opportunities and delayed entry into civilian careers which had already begun for many of their peers who did not serve."
    "And not only did they pay. They will not say this, so I will say it for them. They are owed, if nothing else, at least a mention, some word of thanks and respect, when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes a speech accepting his party’s nomination to be commander-in-chief. And they are owed much more than that — a guarantee that we will never betray the commitment that we made to them and to their loved ones."
    "Webb drops the hammer on Romney".  Meanwhile, the "Romney campaign released a photograph this week of Romney in 1968, laying on a French beach alongside a giant 'I Love Ann' sign he'd drawn for his future wife in the sand. It's a nice photo, and some wondered why Team Romney hadn't released it sooner, perhaps to help 'humanize' the widely-disliked candidate. The answer, I suspect, is the historical context -- while Romney was writing love letters in French beaches in 1968, Jim Webb and a whole lot of other men were on a very different foreign soil, engaged in a very different activity." "Webb delivers blistering Romney critique in Virginia".


    Will Florida vets really support a man who avoided the draft?

    Lloyd Dunkelberger: "A poll of likely Florida voters in early September from Marist College, NBC and The Wall Street Journal showed Republican Mitt Romney carrying 58 percent of the military vote in Florida to Obama’s 38 percent. Those voters made up 17 percent of the projected electorate."
    A strong military vote could be a factor in Romney’s favor in a close election in Florida. In 2008, Obama lost the military vote nationally by 10 percentage points — 54-44 percent — to U.S. Sen. John McCain, a decorated Vietnam War hero. But the Obama campaign is working to cut the traditional edge that Republicans have had among the military members.
    Long-term demographic trends may help Democrats gain more support among this key voting bloc in the long run. Florida has the third-largest veterans’ population in the nation with 1.6 million members.
    But its makeup is changing with the 449,000 Vietnam-era veterans representing the largest group. Florida remains the state with the largest group of World War II veterans, at more than 164,000.
    The veterans’ vote will be diminishing in Florida and the nation simply because fewer Americans are joining the military under the voluntary system that replaced the draft in the 1970s.
    In fact, this year marks the first time since World War II when neither major party’s nominee is a military veteran. It reflects a demographic trend in which a majority of American men older than 70 served in the military — while among men under 50, it is only one in five.
    "Campaigns court Florida military vote".


    Expectations of a Republican Senate takeover are fading

    "The presidential race isn’t the only unpredictable war for control of Washington this year. Keep an eye on the U.S. Senate."
    Expectations of a Republican takeover, which were widespread over the summer, are fading. Now the Democrats could retain their majority. Either way, it’s close, and no one can safely say which party will have a Senate majority after the Nov. 6 elections.
    "GOP hopes of a Senate takeover fade". Related: "Connie Mack battles polls, voter lack of interest in quest to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson".



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