Friday, September 14, 2012

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

"Ignorance mixed with intolerance can be a dangerously combustible cocktail of irrationality"

Daniel Ruth: "As we've all too sadly witnessed this week in both Libya and Tampa, ignorance mixed with intolerance can be a dangerously combustible cocktail of irrationality."

Sure enough, the dotted lines from the carnage in the streets eventually made their way back to Florida and on to Tampa. This is a surprise? This is Florida, after all, the outlier of outright liars capital of the planet.

Although the origins of the anti-Islamic video are murky at best, and those associated with it have gone into hiding, it still didn't take long for Koran-burning Gainesville pastor Terry Jones to openly associate himself with a racist, Islamophobic movie. . . .

Still, Jones had some stiff competition a little farther down I-75 for the who can be more ham-handedly obtuse title. Hills-borough School Board candidate Terry Kemple once again inveighed against the possibility the community's students might actually learn something about Islam.

Kemple and his bichon frise of the Good Book, School Board member Stacy White, led a protest against allowing speakers like Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to deliver classroom presentations on the history and culture of his faith.

No good can come from this. After all, if Shibly is permitted to run around dispelling myths and stereotypes about Islam, it makes it much more difficult for the likes of Kemple to continue to foment myths and stereotypes about Islam.

You can push this education stuff in the schools only so far, you know.

What do the mobs in the streets of Benghazi and beyond, Terry Jones sitting in his doublewide cathedral and Terry Kemple along with his apostles of twisted propaganda have in common? Too much.

Ignorance. We fear what we don't know, what we don't understand. And fear is a fertile breeding ground for hatred. Manipulation, too.

Those rioting in the streets thousands of miles away have no clue the source of their anger is some lone theocratic thug buried in the shadows of society with access to a website. Terry Jones lives in an egocentric parallel universe where his blessings are counted in quarter-hour ratings points.

And Terry Kemple hopes and prays his old-time religion of reality-challenged intolerance will land him a School Board bully pulpit.

We've seen this Groundhog Day of distortion too many times. But it never gets any better.

"Theocratic thuggery knows no borders" Terry Jones' latest: "Florida pastor says he did not promote anti-Islam video because church website was hacked".

Strange dinner companions

"Gov. to have dinner with Fla. teacher union". The Palm Beach Post editorial board: "Editorial: If Scott had been listening, he wouldn’t need a ‘listening tour’". The Tampa Bay Times editorial board: "Open up Scott's school meetings to the public".

"Stirring memories of the 2000 presidential recount"

"Stirring memories of the 2000 presidential recount, a Leon County judge Thursday ordered that an armload of ballots from a contested Palm Beach County state Senate race be brought to the capital city for his review." "Bernard/Clemens race: Tallahassee judge wants 42 ballots delivered for inspection Monday".

Privatization follies

"A panel voted to allow the state’s Department of Corrections plug its $60 million deficit by turning inmate care over to private for-profit companies." "Panel okays privatizing inmate health care".

"Soon there may be zero"

Scott Maxwell: "In a rotten economy, it's hard to set new records. Yet Florida did so just last week — sealing the deal on the most costly incentives failure in state history."

We're talking $20 million of tax money that went to a company that's now closing up shop.

Three years ago, we were promised 500 jobs at Digital Domain animation studio in Port St. Lucie.

Soon there may be zero.

"After another bust, 10 reasons incentives deals stink". See also "Digital Domain ex-employee seeks 60 days' pay for all laid-off workers".

Ryan to Florida

"Paul Ryan coming to rally in Oldsmar on Saturday".

Florida GOP elector resigns

"One of the Republican appointees to the Electoral College abruptly resigned from her post today after publicly questioning whether she would support the party's presidential ticket when casting official votes after the November election." "GOP elector resigns, says she can't support Romney".

EV surge

"More people took advantage of early voting in last month's Florida primary than in any primary before it, despite Democratic fears that fewer days of early voting would suppress turnout. Many more people are expected to vote early in the presidential election in November." "Fla. saw surge in August primary".


"Reservoir for Everglades restoration to get pumps to clear out its salty water".

Drug testing of welfare applicants "chaotic"

"Kidney patients required to give urine samples through a catheter. Counties without drug testing centers. And drug tests with confidential personal information such as Social Security numbers turning up in unrelated files. That's the scenario that the American Civil Liberties Union laid out in court documents filed this week in its ongoing battle with Gov. Rick Scott's administration over whether it's legal to drug test applicants for welfare assistance." "Florida's drug testing of welfare applicants was 'chaotic,' lawsuit says".

Clinton in Orlando

"Bill Clinton in Orlando: Choose Obama over 'You're on your own'".

"In Florida Senate, every vote matters"

"In the Florida Senate, every vote matters. And with two competitive Senate races in the region this year, Central Florida voters have a chance to influence the fate of some very close issues." "Hot-button bills' fates may hinge on Florida Senate races".

"Jeb!" struggles for relevancy

"Jeb Bush to publish book about immigration in 2013".

Five FlaDems weighing 2014

"Five Democrats weighing 2014 gubernatorial bid".

Feds approve EV plan

"Changes made by the Legislature win federal approval, which means voters will likely have eight days of early voting for the presidential election." "Justice Department approves Florida's early voting plan".


"Florida looking at state budget surplus". See also "State revenue expected to grow, create budget surplus".

Her clout has suffered a blow

Nancy Smith: "Debbie Wasserman Schultz had better start getting a few things right, according to prominent Washington observers, because of late, her clout among Democratic peers has suffered a considerable blow." "Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Popularity Has Taken a Nosedive".

Quince isn't used to asking for votes

"State Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince isn't used to asking people for their votes." "State justice uncomfortable with campaigning to keep seat".

Mack, Nelson Agree to Debate

"Connie Mack, Bill Nelson Agree to One TV Debate".

GOP Poll has Romney ahead in Florida

"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in a statistical dead heat with President Barack Obama coming out of the Democrat convention, according to a poll conducted for one of the state’s biggest business lobbyists" by Republican pollsters, McLaughlin & Associates:

With a 4 percent margin of error, Romney received 49.5 percent support to 47.2 percent for President Obama.
"AIF: Romney, Obama Contest a Dead Heat in Florida".

Dispute over Medicaid billing

"A stipulation filed in court this week between the state and counties disputing their backlogged Medicaid bills puts the case in abatement until the end of the year while negotiations continue." "Dispute over Medicaid billing backlog continues".

Florida Foreclosures rise sharply in August

"Foreclosures in Florida rose sharply over August 2011, even though the national foreclosure rate fell 15 percent." "Florida foreclosures up 16 percent in August".

Partisan donations

"An analysis of political contributions by convention delegates locates the areas of highest donation amounts among national convention delegates of both major parties. Partisan donations, for instance, divide the Tampa Bay area." "Geography reflects delegates' donations".

Floridians have given up

"Scott likes to point out that Florida has led the nation in reducing its unemployment rate more than 2 percentage points — from 11.1 percent — since December 2010, the month before he became governor."

But at the same time Florida remains among the bottom of the states as measured by its total work force.

In July, Florida’s 60 percent labor participation rate ranked 8th-lowest in the nation in the number of working-age residents who were holding or seeking jobs, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The participation rate — reflecting both Floridians who have simply given up looking for work as well as those retiring — has plummeted more than 4 percentage points since the beginning of the Great Recession in late 2007. It has moved downward nearly 1 percentage point — from 60.9 percent — since Scott took office, to a 26-year low.

State economists this week projected that if the participation rate had remained steady since December 2011, Florida’s current unemployment rate of 8.8 percent would instead be 9.8 percent — hardly moving from last December’s 9.9 percent rate.

They attributed most of the unemployment rate’s reduction to people dropping out of the work force.

"Fewer Floridians are looking for jobs".

Never mind

"Some of the 207 registered voters kicked off the rolls had previously admitted they weren’t U.S. citizens, but most were found through a federal immigration database. ... Most the people on the [original] list of 2,625 who received notices that they were potentially being kicked off the rolls will receive new letters verifying that they remain eligible to vote." "Gov. Rick Scott removes more than 200 non-citizen voters from rolls".

Registration off

Zac Anderson: "Florida’s voter rolls have expanded roughly half as much through early September compared with the heady months leading up to the 2008 election, but both parties are pledging an aggressive push during the next three weeks." "Florida slow to register new voters".

Stand 'yer ground

"A statewide task force reviewed a University of Florida report on Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground lawy, but few conclusions could be made on the law’s impact." "Stand Your Ground law’s impact needs more study, task force told".