Monday, May 25, 2015

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

Jeb's "sanctimonious insipidities and saccharine, self-congratulatory platitudes"

"Would you want to send your son or daughter off to study at a university founded and long administered by someone who had opposed Martin Luther King, the desegregation of public schools, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion; had wanted the United States to expand, not end, the war in Vietnam; had supported apartheid, fought legislation forbidding discrimination against gays, spouted anti-Semitic rhetoric, and had voiced the opinion that the Anti-Christ walks among us as a Jewish male; had thought Chief Justice John Roberts not conservative enough, and, to top it off, showed de facto sympathy for al-Qaida by blaming Americans – especially gay and feminist Americans – for 9/11?"

What if this person had not even graduated from an accredited college himself? And what if he saw to it that at this university, a fairy-tale junk version of humankind’s origins were favored in biology class over the one key fact – evolution through natural selection — on which all modern biology stands?

If you’re a decent person, the answer would be no, of course.

Such a one, for those who haven’t guessed, was Jerry Falwell, the Southern Baptist pastor and Moral Majority leader who constituted as malign an influence on America politics as ever existed, and whose considerable bulk crashed to the floor of his office one fine day back in 2007, never to rise again. (Moral Majority’s aim: “Get them saved, baptized and registered” to vote.) The university in question is, of course, Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia. The “moderate,” not-so-flagrantly pious Republican candidate-in-waiting Jeb Bush recently and publicly resurrected Falwell’s ghost, praising his “legacy” and gushing over being able to visit his offspring, who now run the institution.

A Roman Catholic himself, and so craving bona fides with Evangelical voters, Bush wallowed in this unction as he began the 2015 commencement address he delivered at Liberty on May 9.

Though much of what he said amounted to the sanctimonious insipidities and saccharine, self-congratulatory platitudes Evangelicals habitually shower on one another, some of his words deserve scrutiny, for if Hillary falters, he may well end up in the White House come January 2017.

"Jeb Bush cozies up to haters: Jerry Falwell, Liberty University and the real story of religious right evil."

Rubio's immigration problem

"Can Marco Rubio Make Peace With Conservatives on Immigration?"

"Free speech rule under fire"

"Gov. Rick Scott’s office considered pulling the 'Freedom of Speech' provision from rules that govern the use of state buildings, according to a draft document considered by administration attorneys." "Free speech rule under fire after ‘satanic Temple’ in Capitol."


"A study released last week, authored by a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, Bruce Bartlett, concludes that Fox News has done great, perhaps irreparable harm to the Republican Party and to conservatives. By consuming only information that is presented by Fox, says Bartlett, legions of angry conservatives have been, in his assessment, 'self-brainwashed.'"

“Many conservatives,” Bartlett writes, “now refuse to even listen to any news or opinion not vetted through Fox, and to believe whatever appears on it as the gospel truth.” The result of this 24/7 drumbeat of outright lies and distortions, says Bartlett, is that Fox viewers are now among the least well-informed Americans when it comes to the important issues that face us all.

Of course, most of us don’t need a major academic study to know that diversity of opinion is vital to a functioning democracy. Not only is it important that we encourage articulate spokespeople who share our own beliefs, it is also essential—critical, actually—that we listen to the views of those who disagree with us.

As Bartlett’s study illustrates, shutting oneself off from information that may challenge our own biases and beliefs is bad enough. What’s far worse is when someone takes it upon himself to decide what news, information and commentary citizens may be offered.

"The Fundamentalists Next Door."

Bad time to build a "new mansion"

"Jeb Bush having new mansion built for him on family compound in Maine: report."