Saturday, September 28, 2013

After reading the hard copy of your hometown newspaper, please consider becoming a site fan on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Former Confederate states work to reinstate Jim Crow

"Emboldened by the Supreme Court decision that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, a growing number of Republican-led states are moving aggressively to tighten voting rules. Lawsuits by the Obama administration and voting rights activists say those efforts disproportionately affect minorities."

At least five Southern states, no longer required to ask Washington's permission before changing election procedures, are adopting strict voter identification laws or toughening existing requirements. . . .

Nowhere is the debate more heated than in Florida, where the chaotic recount in the disputed 2000 presidential race took place.

Florida election officials are set to resume an effort to remove noncitizens from the state's voting rolls. A purge last year ended in embarrassment after hundreds of American citizens, most of whom were black or Hispanic, were asked to prove their citizenship or risk losing their right to vote.

"Southern states are moving to tighten voting rules".

Flabaggers and the FlaGOP donor class in conflict

"On issues such as Common Core, Medicaid expansion, economic incentives and the Internet sales tax, the interests of the tea party and the GOP donor class are in direct conflict, putting Gov. Rick Scott in a delicate political situation with two groups whose support he needs in 2014." "Tea party wishes clash with GOP donors' agenda".

Go west, young wingnut

"Al Cardenas Leads Conservatives to St. Louis for CPAC Event".

Week in Review

"Week in Review for Sept. 27, 2013". See also "Weekly Roundup: A Busy First Week of Committee Meetings".

"Scott and his cronies regard healthcare crisis as a political abstraction"

Fred Grimm: "Let’s conduct a poll. By hand signal. Anyone who discerns even an inkling of sincerity in the governor’s decision to bar Affordable Health Care 'navigators' from county health department premises, slap yourself in the head."

Scott and his cronies seem to regard the healthcare crisis as a political abstraction (never mind that the state has some 3.8 million residents without health insurance, 500,000 of them below the age of 19). The anti-Obamacare political theater may enthrall Tallahassee and Washington, but it doesn’t play quite so well in a county like Miami-Dade, where local elected officials count 744,000 people under the age of 65 without health insurance. Only tiny, impoverished Hendry County has a higher percentage of uninsured residents than Miami-Dade’s 34.4 percent in Florida. The uninsured in Broward total 392,000.

Scott insists that his opposition to the navigators was born out of his deep concern that they would have access to confidential information from the applicants, that private records might come leaking out of the program.

This from the governor who wants to require all state employees to undergo drug testing, despite a court decision that found the proposal a massive and overreaching invasion of privacy.

"The burst of skepticism and anger after the statewide order banning navigators from health departments for bogus privacy concerns prompted the Florida Department of Health to try another, even more wanting explanation."
A press release claimed that navigators would be wasting their time with county health department clientele. “Navigator services are for people who have money to pay for health insurance. Those are typically not CHD clients.”

The Department of Health seems to have missed the point of the Affordable Care Act.

There’s a bit more evidence that there might be something to Scott’s obstinacy than privacy concerns. Remember that Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi joined other Republican-run states in the failed lawsuit to stop Obamacare. (They lost in the U.S. Supreme Court.)

This is the state that rejected $9 billion in Obamacare money over three years to expand Medicaid coverage in Florida. State leadership also backed a failed (and likely unconstitutional) state amendment in 2012 to block any Obamacare requirements that the uninsured buy health insurance. (About 51.5 voted down the initiative.) And Scott and the gang refused to set up state insurance exchanges and turned down the attendant federal incentive money to offset the costs, forcing the feds to improvise.

Navigators would help fill the vacuum caused by the state’s obdurate refusal to help its uninsured find coverage. But, of course, the governor has banned them from the very public health clinics where the uninsured come for medical help.

The governor may not be much concerned about their health care, but he’ll fight like hell to protect their privacy.

"Fred Grimm: Gov’s privacy concerns are a sham".

Negron's big idea

"Gov. Rick Scott recently toured the state, promoting his plan for reducing taxes and fees by $500 million during the election-year session. With the revenue-estimating conference predicting an $845 million surplus, the governor said that looks quite feasible. But Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he would like to increase the state's reserve fund from $1 billion to $1.5 billion. " "Negron wants to boost state reserves by 50 percent". Meanwhile, "Castor Dentel says budget surplus should go to schools".

Senator West?

"Allen West could attempt to return to Capitol Hill in 2016 if Marco Rubio runs for president. But West could find running for the U.S. Senate to be a difficult assignment. West talked to the Tampa Bay Times this week and shot down rumors that he would primary Rubio in 2016. Some conservatives and tea parties have called for West to challenge Rubio after the senator’s support of immigration reform. West continues to show no interest in taking Rubio on. But, when asked what he would do if Rubio ran for the Republican presidential nomination and not for the Senate, West said he would be very interested in campaigning for an open Senate seat." "Allen West Looks Ahead to Senate Bid in 2016".

Rubio "has content-comprehension issues"

"And at 6 a.m. Wednesday, just as most people were waking up on the East Coast and just in time for the morning news programs, Rubio took to the Senate floor to relieve Sen. Ted Cruz quasi-filibuster over Obamacare."

"[A]t the same time Rubio was speaking about the ills of Obamacare, there’s another side to the story that the Obama Administration is trying to tell: Affordable health insurance is available to people who couldn’t get it. And the places where people are least likely to get it are in the home states of Cruz (Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation, at more than 25 percent) and Rubio (Florida has the second-highest rate, at just below 25 percent)." "Sen. Marco Rubio plays tag team with Sen. Ted Cruz in slamming Obamacare on Senate floor".

Fabiola Santiago writes that Cruz' "clownish behavior didn’t amount to anything more than holding up governance. . . . Rubio too has content-comprehension issues. He votes with the most extreme elements of his party, as he did Friday, yet boasts of liberal guilty pleasures."

Remember his bid to appeal to hip and young men when he told Esquire magazine that he likes the music of the late rapper Tupac of Thug 4 Life fame? It was difficult to find a line to quote without an expletive, but I did. Maybe this is what turned on the NRA-loving senator: “ I’m livin’ in LA still clutchin’ on my AK.”

I’m no psychologist, but maybe possessing affections that don’t quite gel with their fanatical political stands is an affliction of the ultra-right (and the ultra-left, since the two ends of the spectrum have a lot in common).

But there’s nothing for which Dr. Seuss doesn’t offer a cure.

"In Oh, the Thinks You can Think! he concludes:
Think left and think right and think low and think high.

Oh, the thinks you can think up if you only try!

In Hop on Pop , billed as “the simplest Seuss for youngest use,” Dr. Seuss introduces several mischievous characters: Red, Ned, Ed — and Ted.

They end up in peaceful coexistence in bed.

Keep reading, senator.

"Ted-I-am might like green eggs and ham".

The Miami Herald editors write that, "after 21 hours and 19 minutes on his feet, and assisted once in a while by Florida’s junior Sen. Marco Rubio and other tea party conservatives, Sen. Cruz sat down. . . . All that was missing during the marathon in which Mr. Cruz was not allowed to go to the bathroom was a commercial for adult diapers." "Scare tactics on Obamacare".

The Nelson effect

"Bill Nelson Staying Out Helps Rick Scott, Charlie Crist and Nan Rich".

Early voting games

Aaron Deslatte: "Florida policymakers have been battling for the last decade over how easy it should be to vote, a conflict that will produce new rules – and, no doubt, some confusion -- for voters next year."

Those arguing for easier access – especially more early voting -- maintain that fewer barriers will lead to increased participation. But political scientists who've studied voting patterns for decades have never made such a leap, and a new study suggests early voting in Florida actually decreases turnout.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and released in the American Journal of Political Science this month, also says that other types of "convenience" voting efforts – like same-day voter registration – actually do increase turnout.

Basically, early-voting by itself can tend to dilute the voter-mobilization efforts of campaigns and parties, and tends to kill the buzz around the traditional Election Day activities that get "casual voters" to the polls -- the "stimulation of the day's news, observation of activities at polling places, and conversations with friends and neighbors," the authors wrote.

Critics of early voting -- mostly Republicans, who in 2011 halved Florida's two weeks of early voting – will no doubt seize on the report to counter Democratic criticism that their goal was lower turnout in 2012. In fact, turnout did drop, from 75 percent in 2008 to 72 percent in 2012.

However, "the researchers' findings don't sit well with some Florida election officials."
Seminole County Elections Supervisor [and Republican] Mike Ertel said the study was like "comparing apples to office chairs." He said Florida's turnout might have dipped last year in part because of the long length of the ballot, which featured 11 long-winded constitutional amendments.
"Did early voting actually hurt Florida turnout?".

Second amendment stoopid

"Man aims at snake, shoots friend instead".

"Suspicious envelope" sent to Joe Garcia

"Authorities are investigating a suspicious envelope sent to U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia that was packed with white powder and had the words "tea party" printed as a return address."

The envelope was found Wednesday morning at the Democrat’s Key West office in a Monroe County government building on Simonton Street, spokeswoman Nicole Cueto said.
"Police investigating ‘tea party’-addressed powder-packed envelope sent to Rep. Joe Garcia’s office in Key West".

Bondi's raw political courage

"Bondi announces anti-human trafficking effort in Tampa".

The same commies that want to fluoridate our water

"Tea Party groups and conservative moms are pushing a bill that would stop Florida’s involvement in the Common Core State Standards." "Common Core opponents: We won’t back down".


"After months of inner-turmoil over who would lead them during the 2014 elections, Florida House Democrats on Wednesday chose Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach as their next Minority Leader. By a 29-12 vote, with one abstaining, Pafford beat Rep. Alan Williams for a job that earlier in the week had belonged to Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg." "Florida House Democrats pick Pafford as next leader". Jeff Henderson writes that "Mark Pafford Could Haunt House Democrats in 2014".

Dream Defenders return

"The Miami-based activists known as the Dream Defenders followed state lawmakers to Tallahassee this week." "Dream Defenders return to Florida Capitol".