Sunday, March 09, 2014

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

"Jeb Bush selected most likely to never get my vote, poll says"

"Pop quiz: Jeb Bush would have a better shot at being elected president in 2016 than Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. True or false?"

False. No other potential Republican candidate (Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee) has a higher hill to climb against a Democrat than Florida’s popular ex-governor, a new Washington Post-ABC poll suggests.

When 873 registered voters were asked in late January which Republican they would definitely not vote for, 50 percent said there’s no chance they would vote for Bush.

That ranked Bush as the most soundly rejected of the possible presidential candidates. Christie, Cruz, Huckabee and Perry each were rejected by 42 percent of respondents. A third of those surveyed (33 percent) said they would not vote for Rubio. . . .

The same poll indicates Bush would have easiest time winning the GOP nomination against the same field. Of 457 Republicans surveyed, 76 percent said they would either vote for or consider voting for Bush. Next closest among eight surveyed was Paul (67 percent) and Huckabee (66 percent). Rubio came in next at 65 percent.

"Jeb Bush selected most likely to never get my vote, poll says". Meanwhile, "Jeb Bush in 2016? Barbara Bush backs away from 'no.'".

"Scott’s ad is a scare tactic"

"Seniors (particularly voters), listen up: Medicare cuts have arrived — and the way Gov. Rick Scott tells it, they’re going to lead to some sickening results."

Scott’s ad is a scare tactic that omits several caveats. We rate this claim Mostly False.
"Gov. Rick Scott says Medicare rate cuts will affect seniors’ ability to keep their doctor, hospital and prevention services".

"Running along the edge of acceptable adult behavior"

Steven Girardi: "March 11 — [Tuesday] — is Election Day and, by the grace and mercy of God, the end of the campaign for the District 13 U.S. House of Representatives seat — a two-month free-for-all of name calling and shin kicking not seen anywhere outside of a school yard during second-grade recess."

It has been 43 years since anyone besides C.W. Bill Young has occupied this esteemed office, which became available upon his death in October. If this is what we’ve been missing, another 43 years might be too soon.

In political campaigns, as in wars, the truth often is the first casualty. Reasonable and alert people expect as much. But even that provides no sense as to why this election spat between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly turned into mud wrestling.

And pity poor Lucas Overby, a Libertarian who unexpectedly found himself as the moderate voice of reason. For Libertarians, who run best and happiest as outsiders poking sticks into the government machinery, that’s not where you’re prepared to be.

Sadder still is that Sink and Jolly, two otherwise successful, competent and civil human beings, seemingly lost control of their own campaigns, and of their own voices. They bemoan the lies, accusations and generally bad etiquette of the campaign, along with the absurd amounts of money ($9 million-plus by some counts) that poured in from everywhere, but either could not or chose not to stop it. They were hijacked by national campaigns and political organizations that see this race as some kind of mood ring for the country.

Just for fun, does anyone really think Alex Sink, a serious-minded woman and the former chief financial officer of the whole darn state, is a racist and a bigot? That she supports immigration reform to make sure Florida’s hotels, restaurants and lawn services don’t run out of cheap labor?p> Or how about this: Does anyone really think David Jolly, no matter for whom he may or may not have lobbied in Washington, is A-OK with oil drilling platforms off the shores of Treasure Island or Clearwater Beach? That the same man who supports spending millions of federal dollars to pump sand onto eroding tourist beaches would risk, politically if nothing else, turning them into oil fields?

Political campaigns by nature tend to run along the edge of acceptable adult behavior. This one ran right off. Or is there such little regard and expectation for the truth anymore that the old Lyndon Johnson tactic (reportedly) — sure it’s not true, I just want to hear him deny it — is just swell with everybody?

"Welcome end to free-for-all District 13 race".

Rubio sees big drop in support

"Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second - Rubio and Ryan, GOP leaders in Congress all see big drops in support".

"It’s like a twisted Comedy Central sketch — if you pass the exam, you die"

Carl Hiaasen: "For 35 years, Florida has been trying to execute Freddie Lee Hall, who is mentally disabled and has been his whole life."

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the state’s solicitor general argue that the execution should go forward because Hall scored too high on IQ tests to be spared from the death penalty. . . .

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded persons, saying that IQ scores below “approximately 70” showed serious intellectual disability. Individual states were left to hammer out details of the exemption.

Several of the Supreme Court justices last week questioned why Florida lawmakers imposed an arbitrary IQ threshold of 70 when most psychiatrists recognize margins of error spanning five points or more.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer proposed that trial courts require clinical experts to explain IQ parameters to the judge or jurors who were deciding if a defendant was intellectually disabled.

Asked Breyer, “What’s so terrible about doing it?”

“What is so terrible about doing it,” replied Florida solicitor general Allen Winsor, “is you end up increasing the number of people who would be eligible for a mental-retardation finding.”

God forbid.

The last thing we’d want to do is thin out Death Row, where inmates currently spend an average of about 25 years appealing their sentences, at enormous taxpayer expense.

Some will say it’s just as immoral to lock up a mentally disabled person for life as it is to execute him, but nothing can excuse the crimes that Freddie Lee Hall took part in. He belongs in prison forever.

And that would be his certain future, if only he’d gotten one or two problems wrong on his IQ test, scoring a 70 instead of a 71. It’s like a twisted Comedy Central sketch — if you pass the exam, you die.

Florida authorities seem concerned that some inmates who aren’t really mentally disabled will be able to dodge lethal injection if the law is made more flexible.

"Florida’s IQ exam fails test of justice".

Internet cafe overload

"A year after the Florida Legislature approved sweeping legislation that led to the closing of Internet cafes and senior arcades across the state, some lawmakers are hoping tweaks to the law might help fix some of the unintended consequences."

Two Senate bills have been filed to address arcade games, such as those found at bowling alleys and Chuck E. Cheese, which might have gotten swept up in the frenzy to pass a bill shutting down so-called Internet cafes.
"Bills would fix unintended consequences of internet cafe ban".