Friday, April 30, 2004

Combat Jitters 

Andrew Sullivan terms the situation in Falluja a "sign of our retreat." One can only imagine what the conservative reaction to this phrase would be is uttered by a liberal commentator (much less Hillary Clinton).

Sullivan strikes a pathetic tone -- "In my lower moments, it makes me worry if the Bush administration has begun to abandon Iraq to internal chaos. I cannot believe they would do that."

Bush may not have a choice, what with having underestimated the problems of taking control of Iraq (as opposed to defeating the Iraqi military), having depleted much of our strategic reserve, having lowballed the costs and, most importantly, having failed to ask the American people for sacrifices.

UPDATE: Sullivan continues today (5/3/04):
I think the obvious answer to the question as to what is happening in Fallujah is that the White House doesn't have a clue. In a critical battle, we have made sure that the enemy understands we can have overwhelming military power and not be willing to use it; we have appointed a new commander who hasn't even been vetted; and people on the ground are making up policy that has far-reaching political and military implications, while the White House has to adjust. The only word for this is incompetence and chaos.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

"Like Walking Through a Minefield Wearing Snowshoes" 

Here is one of the spookiest websites I've seen -- a ride through the dead zone of Chernobyl.

Elena uses her father's influence to enter the radioactive restrictive zone on her motorcycle.
I travel a lot and one of my favorite destinations leads North from Kiev, towards so called Chernobyl "dead zone", which is 130kms from my home. Why my favorite? Because one can take long rides there on empty roads.

The people there all left and nature is blooming. There are beautiful woods and lakes.

In places where roads have not been travelled by trucks or army vehicles, they are in the same condition they were 20 years ago - except for an occasional blade of grass that discovered a crack to spring through. Time does not ruin roads, so they may stay this way until they can be opened to normal traffic again........ a few centuries from now.
Her narrative and photographs are mesmerizing.

And horrifying.

(via Discourse.net)

Leadership Makes Legislative "Train" Run on Time 

Mark Lane points out that the Legislature, having accomplished little that will benefit most Floridians (and a lot that will make their lives more difficult), is celebrating having accomplished no more than is required of it.

Stretched Thin 

It's almost a week old (that's a century in blog years), but Phillip Carter's article in Slate on the U.S. military's logistic problems, and their implications for national security, is worth reading.

Drawing the Line 

Florida State Senator Rod Smith asked " . . . are we a state that executes children?" The Senate voted that we shouldn't be. Now it's up to the House, and then the Governor.

The St. Petersburg Times calls on House Speaker Johnny Byrd to keep his word that House members should "vote their conscious."

In the Senate, the following senators voted to continue to allow juveniles to be sentenced to death: J.D. Alexander , Nancy Argenziano, Dave Aronber, Mike Bennett, Larcenia Bullard, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Paula Dockery, Mike Haridopolos, Evelyn Lynn, Bill Posey, Daniel Webster and Stephen Wise.

UPDATE: A reader emailed to remind me that Senator Evelyn Lynn also sponsored the bill to cut current funding for foster children who attend college once they turn 18. She's also chair of the Senate's Committee on Children and Family.

Monday, April 26, 2004

We Leaped Before We Looked 

How is America going to get out of Iraq? We can't just leave, but the prospects for a happy ending are increasingly difficult to imagine. The administration seems to be peddling the idea that a relatively small band of hardline Baathists (or terrorist, or foreign fighters, or Islamic extremists, or thugs, etc.) is all that is preventing the flowering of democracy in Iraq. If they really believe this, we're all in big trouble.

Peter W. Galbraith, who has a bit of experience with international conflicts, has written a rather gloomy review of the situation in Iraq:
The Bush administration's strategies in Iraq are failing for many reasons. First, they are being made up as the administration goes along, without benefit of planning, adequate knowledge of the country, or the experience of comparable situations. Second, the administration has been unwilling to sustain a commitment to a particular strategy. But third, the strategies are all based on an idea of an Iraq that does not exist.
The underlying problem confronting American efforts predate the war:
Except for a relatively small number of Saddam Hussein's fellow Sunni Arabs who worked for his regime, the peoples of Iraq are much better off today than they were under Saddam Hussein. The problems that threaten to tear Iraq apart--Kurdish aspirations for independence, Shiite dreams of dominance, Sunni Arab nostalgia for lost power--are not of America's making (although the failure to act sooner against Saddam made them less solvable). Rather, they are inherent in an artificial state held together for eighty years primarily by brute force.
This was hardly unknown before the war began, but seems to have been, like many other lessons, ignored. Galbraith points out that the process of creating an interim constitution for Iraq without significant input from Iraqis other than those handpicked by the United States will lead to a document with scant legitimacy amongst the diverse Iraqi population.
Iraq's Shiite leaders say that the National Assembly due to be elected in January 2005 should not be constrained by a document prepared by US government lawyers, deliberated in secret, and signed by twenty-five Iraqis selected by Ambassador Bremer. In particular, the Shiites object to a provision in the interim constitution that allows three of Iraq's eighteen governorates (or provinces) to veto ratification of a permanent constitution. This, in effect, allows either the Kurds or the Sunni Arabs, each of whom make up between one fifth and one sixth of Iraq's population, to block a constitution they don't like. (It is a wise provision. Imposing a constitution on reluctant Kurds or Sunni Arabs will provoke a new cycle of resistance and conflict.) The Shiite position makes the Kurds, who are well armed, reluctant to surrender powers to a central government that may be Shiite-dominated.

At the moment the Sunni Arabs have few identifiable leaders. The Kurds, however, are well organized. They have an elected parliament and two regional governments, their own court system, and a 100,000 strong military force, known as the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga, whose members were principal American allies in the 2003 war, are better armed, better trained, and more disciplined than the minuscule Iraqi army the United States is now trying to reconstitute.

Early in 2005, Iraq will likely see a clash between an elected Shiite-dominated central government trying to override the interim constitution in order to impose its will on the entire country, and a Kurdistan government insistent on preserving the de facto independent status Kurdistan has enjoyed for thirteen years. Complicating the political struggle is a bitter territorial dispute over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk involving Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, Sunni Turkmen, and Shiite Turkmen.

It is a formula for civil war.
There are no good solutions, but Galbraith thinks some sort of confederation that allows regional autonomy while preserving an Iraqi state is the most likely option for avoiding disaster.
In my view, Iraq is not salvageable as a unitary state. From my experience in the Balkans, I feel strongly that it is impossible to preserve the unity of a democratic state where people in a geographically defined region almost unanimously do not want to be part of that state. I have never met an Iraqi Kurd who preferred membership in Iraq if independence were a realistic possibility.

But the problem of Iraq is that a breakup of the country is not a realistic possibility for the present. Turkey, Iran, and Syria, all of which have substantial Kurdish populations, fear the precedent that would be set if Iraqi Kurdistan became independent. Both Sunni and Shiite Arabs oppose the separation of Kurdistan. The Sunni Arabs do not have the resources to support an independent state of their own. (Iraq's largest oil fields are in the Shiite south or in the disputed territory of Kirkuk.)
Federalism--or even confederation --would make Kurdistan and the south governable because there are responsible parties there who can take over government functions. It is much more difficult to devise a strategy for the Sunni Triangle--until recently the location of most violent resistance to the American occupation--because there is no Sunni Arab leadership with discernible political support. While it is difficult to assess popular support for the insurrection within the Sunni Triangle, it is crystal clear that few Sunni Arabs in places like Fallujah are willing to risk their lives in opposing the insurgents.

We can hope that if the Sunni Arabs feel more secure about their place in Iraq with respect to the Shiites and the Kurds, they will be relatively more moderate. Autonomy for the Sunni Arab parts of Iraq is a way to provide such security. There is, however, no way to know if it will work.
In any case, it is unlikely that the goal of the Bush administration -- a shining example of participatory democracy in an authoritarian Middle East -- will come about. Moreover, the administration's procrustean efforts to shape all historical lessons into justification for it's actions blinds it to the very real political, cultural and geographical barriers to a happy ending for this adventure.

Galbraith's article (which considers both the good and bad that has come from the invasion of Iraq) is essential reading.

Privatization Blues 

Further proof that privatization of Florida's state services is a fraudulent scheme.

The Correctional Privatization Commission, an agency created by the Legislature to "safeguard tax dollars spent on privately run prisons," and whose current members were appointed by Governor Bush, has run afoul of Republican ideologues by threatening to put state contracts out to bid.
The fall of the five-member commission illustrates the potential pitfalls of Bush's relentless drive to turn over public services to private companies.

Even Bush acknowledges that state government often lacks the savvy to smoothly implement multimillion dollar contracts. He has pledged to increase scrutiny and improve accountability of private companies getting public dollars.

But some commission members are skeptical.

"We're not putting the people of the state of Florida first," said Vero Beach attorney Sam Block, a longtime member of the commission who was first appointed by Bush's predecessor, Lawton Chiles. "Greed and self-interest are first."
What a surprise.

(via Florida Politics)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Make 'em Pay 

Conservatives who control the Florida Legislature took a break from lowering taxes on the wealthy to raise tuition for students at state universities by 7.5 percent.
The increases follow Gov. Jeb Bush's budget recommendations and are similar to last year's increase of 8.5 percent for undergraduates, 14.5 percent for graduate students and 7.5 percent for community college students.

The last time students went without a tuition increase was in the 1994-95 budget year.
Legislators justify the increase by pointing out that Florida's tuitions are below national average. But then again so are just about all of the state's educational and social service indices.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Pandering to the Hardliners 

It looks like the Bush administration (the one in Washington) will be lining up with the most extreme right-wing groups in developing its Cuba policy. At issue are remittances sent by Cubans in the United States to relatives in Cuba. The President's Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba is considering a recommendation that will "temporarily freeze all remittances -- possibly for six months -- after which the administration would reinstate them at much lower levels than currently allowed."

Good idea, Mr. President -- no way Castro will get a propaganda boost out of this.

As for the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, I find it amazing that many of its members, who include Secretary of State Colin Powell, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, have time for this bit of political pandering, given that they should be concentrating on issues such as al-Qaeda or Iraq.

Well, maybe Powell has time.

UPDATE: Calling the proposal an effort ". . . to score political points, and round up votes in South Florida among hardliners," the Sun-Sentinel agrees that this is a bad idea.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Fresh from the Front 

Today I attended a meeting at which the speaker was a National Guard officer recently-returned (<30 days) from Iraq. Some of his comments:
The strength of National Guard units is that they are composed of older, more mature individuals who "understand human nature" better than many of the younger regular Army/Marine troops. Additionally, a significant percentage of many Guard units contain individuals who, in civilian life, are police or firefighters/paramedics -- useful occupations for their Iraq assignments.

A reasonable rule of thumb is that two Iraqi civilians would be killed for every "insurgent" killed.

Most Iraqi civilians would not warn American troops of impending danger.

In his unit, there were no soldiers killed, but over fifty wounded -- most by shrapnel. He attributed the lack of fatalities to better protective gear.

His unit did not receive ballistic protective jackets until well into their tour in Iraq -- before that they used Vietnam era flak jackets.

The privatization of many functions (such as laundry), and the resulting hiring of Iraqi workers, was a security problem -- particularly in stolen uniforms.

Iraqi security forces could not be trusted -- their arms often went unaccounted for and had to be assumed to be in the hands of the opposition forces.

Any rotation of Coalition units was inevitably followed by attacks from insurgents (testing). This had to be followed by a strong response.

The enemy grew increasingly sophisticated in setting bombs and ambushes along the highways and in urban areas -- by the same token, his units became experts at spotting dangerous situations.

Although he said he didn't feel guilty over America's affluence, the contrast with the living standard of many Iraqis could be unsettling.
The officer and enlisted men at the meeting felt they had served well and were glad to be back home.

An interesting first-hand look at the war in Iraq.

Unearthing the Royal Palm 

Henry Flagler is the father of South Florida. In 1896 he brought his Florida East Coast Railway south from Palm Beach to the village on the Miami River. To attract visitors, he built the Royal Palm Hotel which became the center of winter society in the newly-formed town of Miami. The hotel was damaged by the 1926 hurricane and demolished in 1930.

Recently the site, covered for years by parking lots, was sold and a major residential and commercial development will be placed there. Currently an archeological investigation is being conducted under the supervision of veteran South Florida archeologist, Bob Carr, who said, ''This is the largest archaeological project ever conducted in South Florida -- by far.''

As reported in the Miami Herald, more of the hotel survived demolition than had been thought. Also the site is giving up evidence of earlier activity: "In addition to the Royal Palm, the area served as the site of early Spanish forts, the 19th century Fort Dallas and a nearby Tequesta cemetery." The Tequesta were the area's pre-Columbian indigenous Indians.

To help finance further archoelogical work, excavated bricks from the Royal Palm will be sold for $100 each. In this the archeologists are taking a page from history -- when the Royal Palm was demolished, its bricks were sold for $14.00 each.

Today's South Florida Sun Sentinel also carried an article on this project

Monday, April 19, 2004

Barking Up a Storm 

The Bark's take on the 60 Minute Bob Woodward interview:
If what Woodward described in his interview is any guide to what really went on in the White House in 2002 and leading up to the attack in March 2003, we are so far up Shit Creek they're going to have to pipe in daylight for us to see our way out of it.

The scariest part came at the end when Woodward described Bush as believing - and as Bush himself said as much in his press conference last Tuesday - that he has a mission to liberate the world and that he sees himself appointed to the task. I may not be a psychologist, but I know megalomania when I hear it, and to describe oneself as being on a mission to save the world strikes me as not only megalomaniacal but delusional as well. Not to mention that it has the echo of every dictator who ever stood on a platform and decreed that he has been appointed by the Almighty to lead his nation and the world to a greater glory and woe betide anyone who stands in his way. Add to that his disdain for intellectual thought and the idea that perhaps he might want to consult with those who might have more experience in both foreign affairs and battle, and you have a very dangerous combination.
It will be interesting to see what the White House reaction to Woodward's book might be -- he's a dangerous one to go after.

Who Needs Culture When We've Got Beaches? 

The Miami Herald's Fred Tasker discusses what's at stake as the Legslature decides what kind of funding art and culture will receive in the 2004-05 budget.

(Hint . . . it doesn't look good).

Stealth Legislation 

The St. Petersburg Times' Lucy Morgan explains why the last two weeks of the Florida legislative session are the most "dangerous days."

That's when last minute amendments are inserted into legislative bills. As an example, she cites an amendment that would "completely rewrite the state's parimutuel laws."
The last-minute amendment was tacked on to a penny ante poker game bill without review by a committee of substance or the state agency that regulates racetracks.

The 25-page proposal wasn't even available to citizens attending the committee meeting.
Morgan suggests it will take months to figure out what the Legislature has "done to whom."

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Class Warfare: The Tallahassee Front 

Gov. Bush's tax cuts:
$128 million corporate income tax cut.
$100 million intangibles tax cut.
$88 million corporate ‘tax credit’ plan.
Gov. Bush's tax increases
8.5% increase in university tuition taxes.
7.5% increase in community college tuition.
$20 school volunteer tax.
$10 drivers license fee increase.
$15 emergency room tax.
$60 increase for children’s health insurance.
The sucking sound you hear is Florida going down the drain.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Mortgaging the Future 

Architecture critic James Russell is concerned about "home-price inflation", people's assumption that prices can only go up, and the economic and social implications of over-investment in the housing market.
Over the last few years, America has made homeownership not just a desirable goal for middle-class Americans but an economic necessity. Congress has made the tax advantages of ownership stupefyingly generous. You can deduct your mortgage interest, your property taxes, the interest on your home-equity loan. You’re not taxed on capital gains for the sale of a home (except in rare instances). Alan Greenspan has crammed interest rates to historic lows, declaring “core inflation” to be near zero, even thought the price of any family’s single-biggest purchase marches upward much far faster than the personal income that must support it.

This combination of policies not only fuels home-price inflation, it makes homeowners willingly conspire to drive prices up. After all, the nature of tax deductions means Uncle Sam picks up most of the tab for rising values. So people are remodeling and adding-on like crazy; dumping small houses for big houses; refinancing and taking equity out for job training or college costs—or gambling debts. It doesn’t matter because the house will keep appreciating in value, right?
Russell sees a direct correlation between rising home prices and anti-development attitudes. " With the home so important to economic well-being (retirement!), it means that people will take extraordinary measures to protect home values. Wonder why NIMBYism is rampant? It’s not just “quality of life” that’s at stake when unwelcome development threatens, it is the very foundation of your wealth."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Jim's Backward Bow 

Last week Spanish Prince Felipe de Borbon was making a connecting flight through Miami International Airport and because he had not provided the Secret Service with enough notice, was required to have his luggage screened, just like other passengers. Well, not quite like other passengers -- he and his entourage were taken to the VIP lounge for the procedure.

Apparently the royal party was a tad miffed and so Miami Mayor Alex Penelas wrote a letter to the prince, apologizing for "an apparent disregard for protocol and disrespect of His Highness and his delegation." Penelas concluded the missive with a ". . . request that you extend to the royal family my most sincere apology on behalf of the people of Miami-Dade County."

As far as Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede was concerned this could not go unchallenged. So he wrote his own letter to the Spanish Consul General, which read in part:
In his letter, Penelas profusely apologized on behalf of the people of Miami-Dade County. Let me assure you many of us in Miami-Dade County are appalled, though not surprised, our mayor is a royal butt-smoocher who would beg forgiveness when none is warranted. Indeed, many of us think His Royal Self should be the one apologizing.

The prince doesn't like having his bags searched? Well, welcome to the club, Your Majesty. But that's the world we live in. And given the recent bombings in Spain, you might think His Hoity-Toityness would be more sensitive to that reality. At least the prince got to have his luggage searched in a VIP lounge; the rest of us usually have to stand around the busy terminal in our stocking feet.
Maybe Penelas is courting the royalist votes in his quest to replace Bob Graham in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I'm Getting a Bad Feeling About This 

Today the Miami Herald has three opinion columns on the war in Iraq -- none of the three see a bright future for the United States efforts there, at least the way things are being run right now. One, by conservative Patrick Buchanan, is probably the most pessimistic:
What Fallujah and the Shi'ite attacks tell us is that failure is now an option. We have not pacified the Sunni Triangle. In towns such as Fallujah, Americans are at greater risk than Israelis in Gaza. Even before the radical Shi'ites clashed with our troops in Baghdad, geostrategist Anthony Cordesman was warning that defense officials were telling him, ``New combatants are emerging as fast as we kill or capture the old ones.''

But if the Iraqi resistance is recruiting fighters faster than we kill or capture them, and Shi'ites are joining the resistance, and we are supposed to be drawing down our troop levels and handing over power to Iraqis, how do we win?
Trudy Rubin is concerned that the administration may have to modify its goals to avoid greater bloodshed:
What's clear is that Sistani is key to avoiding a broader revolt. U.S. officials need to persuade him -- perhaps via special U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi -- that he can expect genuine elections for a constitutional assembly in early 2005 or before.

It won't be easy to deliver on that promise, because the United States has contrary interests. U.S. officials want to ensure a liberal, Western-style constitution, whether or not that pleases a Shiite majority. Bush officials also worry that early elections may produce a result that they don't like.

But, having promised Iraqis democracy, the Bush team may not be able to postpone elections, even if the country isn't ready. Or to deny majority Shiites political control.
And Richard Cohen sees more troubles ahead if the Bush administration doesn't become a little more introspective:
What is so perturbing about this administration is not that no one of note has resigned or been fired -- and some of them certainty deserve the ax -- but that there is not the slightest hint that anyone (except Powell) appreciates that mistakes were made not out of sheer bad luck, but because the assumptions, driven by ideology, were so bad.

Terrorism, not missile defense, should have been the top priority. Al Qaeda, not Iraq, was and remains the threat. (That explains why Hussein is in jail while bin Laden is still on the loose, having slipped the noose in Afghanistan because the Pentagon left the job to locals.)

Iraq was going to be a cakewalk -- the Middle Eastern version of the liberation of Paris -- and somehow that has not happened. In another country, some officials would quit in shame. In the United States, they can't even quit being smug.
Whatever you think about the war in Iraq, we cannot cut and run without bringing on more troubles -- but neither can we remain an occupying force for very long. The American public is, in my opinion, beginning to reassess our purpose for being in Iraq -- the question being formed is if the Iraqi people are opposed to the U.S. being there, why are we there?

And here's where I think the Bush administration made a big mistake -- he didn't ask or prepare the American people for sacrifices in the war on terrorism (forget for a moment the question of Iraq's culpability in international terrorism). After 9/11 the battle against the terrorists was our number one priority, but other than standing in line at the airport, what were we asked to do? We can ask mothers to send their sons and daughters into battle, but don't take a chance on losing political support by asking that we actually pay for the war. And so for many people the war is an abstraction. But an abstraction cannot compete with the reality of the daily news bringing images of more fighting and deaths, and no end in sight.

President Johnson made the same mistake, but he called it "guns and butter."

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Who Do You Trust? 

Michael Froomkin (Discourse.net) on Republican attempts to make it more difficult for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments:
[Florida]is not a progressive bastion, but it is more progressive than the regressive legislature. As they say, this is no accident, but a result of the way the Republicans have drawn the legislative districts plus the fact that the liberal elements are often in urban concentrations. So the ballot initiatives, for all that they are sometimes wacky are a Very Good Thing both in principle and in often practice.
In fact, it would be hard for the citizens to propose ballot initiatives that would do Florida more damage than the laws that are coming out of Tallahassee.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Suw Charman, at Four Corners, writes as elegant and compelling a statement on the lure of history as you are likely to find.
It's everywhere - in the air that fills your lungs, in the ground beneath your feet, in the water you drink. In your teeth. It permeates everything, often unseen, unnoticed, unfelt.

But pause a while, sharpen your senses, plant your heels firmly and connect to the rest of the world. Feel it seep up into your body, feel it circulate in your blood, feel it ebb and flow through you, binding you to the rest of time, to your forebears, to your descendants.
So much of history can never be told, lost to time. But the coaching inn that is still used as a hotel has seen generations of people come, stay for a while and leave. It has stood as each story unfolded and seen the parallels echo down the years, the same parts played by later generations. How many newly married couples, impatiently divesting each other of their clothes? How many children, frightened of sleeping in strange darkness, seeking the comfort and warmth of their parents’ bed? How many arguments, agreements, compromises?

Human experience shaped history and is shaped by history. Some things never change, we feel the same needs as our forebears, the same emotions, the same sun on our skin. It’s all there, everywhere, in front of you, now.
She's referring to England, but the thought is universal.

Read it all.

The War on Terrorism meets Compassionate Conservatism 

Carl Hiaasen writes on the Bush Administration's latest efforts to protect our borders:
Our government wants to deport an Oregon woman who was convicted 11 years ago of growing six marijuana plants.

Kari Rein, a Norwegian citizen, had never been in trouble before, and hadn't been in trouble since. That changed Dec. 30.

She, her husband and two children were returning from a vacation to Norway when she was questioned at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport by officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

They had run Rein's name through a computer and found the old marijuana conviction. They asked her to step into a private room.

''And that,'' says her husband, James Jungwirth, "was the last time we saw her for three weeks.''

Kari Rein was locked up, and deportation proceedings were initiated. Her family was in shock.
This is absurd, and only notable because it is a European that has run afoul of Ashcroft's dragnet -- in South Florida plenty of Haitians are running into this situation.

Our Foreign Policy 

The Florida Legislature, apparently running out of ideas on how to screw up Florida, has decided to dabble in foreign relations. HB 1193, the Commerce with Terrorist States Act,
. . . would levy a surcharge on direct flights from Florida airports to countries on the State Department's terrorist nations list, including Iran and Libya. It would also require university and other groups making such a trip to file detailed itineraries 50 days before departure.

There are no such flights from Florida to countries like North Korea or Libya, so this bill applies only to Cuba.
Critics believe the legislation has little to do with terrorism, and more to do with intimidating and hiking costs for people who want to travel to Cuba. They say this bill is meant to deter people from going to Cuba, not terrorists coming from there.

If that's the case, the losers in all this won't be Fidel Castro and his underlings. They will be mainstream Cubans, who depend on a helping hand from relatives and friends in the United States, Cuban-Americans, who will have to pay more to see loved ones, and the constitutional right of all Americans to travel freely.
Emphasis added.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Comparing Apples and Apples 

The St. Petersburg Times' Howard Troxler on legislative consistency:
There's a bill in the Legislature that would make it illegal for anybody, even police, to keep track of which citizens owned guns in Florida.

Here's the argument in favor of the bill. This is a free country. Owning a gun is a guaranteed right. It's none of the government's business if a law-abiding citizen owns a gun.
There's also a bill in the Legislature that would let the state keep a computer file on you, if you're taking certain prescription drugs.

Not just "bad" people. You.
The justification for this bill (House Bill 397) is the War on Drugs, see.

If everybody's prescription drugs are in the state's computer, then it makes it easier for the state to catch patients who are "doctor shoppers" and to figure out which doctors are abusing their license. This is supposed to "maximize investigators' effectiveness."
Another example of our right-wing Legislature in action.
(via Florida Politics)

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