Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Destroying Florida 

In an editorial today, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel suggests that Gov. Bush's proposed 1.5 billion dollar tax cut is irresponsible and appeals to (in fact, elevates) the most narrow and selfish desires of the citizenry.

The Sun-Sentinel's bottom line: "Taxes should be cut only after the state meets its legitimate obligations, which it hasn't done."

Keep in mind that Florida is ranked 44th in the nation in the tax burden on its residents.

Devious Schemes Abound 

Broward County School Board member Marty Rubinstein responds to Gov. Bush's endorsement of the proposal that 65 percent of educational funding should go into the classroom.
The "65 percent solution" is no solution at all. It's just another blatant attempt to further de-fund Florida's public schools and drive Florida's children deeper into educational poverty.
The real problem, writes Rubinstein, is that Florida's educational funding ranks 49th among the 50 states.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bad for Democracy 

The Sun-Sentinel's Michael Mayo says that Governor Bush is a sore loser:
Jeb Bush is in his final year as Florida governor, and he apparently wants to go out with a vengeance. Over and over, we see the same disturbing pattern: the Sore-Loser-in-Chief keeps pushing to get his way, no matter what the public thinks or the courts rule.

We see it on high-profile issues like school vouchers and the class-size amendment. On a smaller but equally telling scale, we see it with slot machines and local pari-mutuels.
It seems to me that it goes much deeper than that -- Gov. Bush (and his brother), show a lack of commitment to democracy. Both seem to be perfectly content to make end-runs around the established institutions of government, and to disrupt and demonize those who get in their way.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Some More Devious Ideas 

Apparently all our problems have been taken care of -- DCF is working just fine, teachers are getting paid adequately, no need to build new classrooms, the poor are being taken care of.

How else to interpret Gov. Bush's plan to cut property taxes?

Wait, maybe there is another explanation: "[The proposed] property-tax reduction ... would save most homeowners less than $100 a year but mean millions of dollars to large landowners."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What Could He Do? 

As if to validate the answer to my question in the previous post, this comes along (via Florida Politics):
Florida Republican Party officials on Saturday called security to eject reporters listening to Gov. Jeb Bush speak to several hundred party activists in Tallahassee. Reporters had been trying to listen through an open door.

Five hotel security staffers and a sheriff's deputy led reporters away from where they could hear the governor in the middle of a speech, according to a report by the St. Petersburg Times' political editor, Adam Smith.

"I apologize for that if I'm indirectly responsible, which I'm not," Bush said after addressing Republican activists. "I would have loved to have you in there. . . . I wouldn't have said anything different if you were there."

The party's executive director explained that party leaders merely wanted to keep their party functions private.
I imagine it playing out this way:
GOP Officials: "Kick the press out!"

Gov. Bush: "I don't mind them being here -- let them stay."

GOP Officials: "Too bad, Jeb!, it's not your call."

Gov. Bush: "Well, OK, if you say so."
Sounds about right to me.

More Devious Ideas 

If Gov. Bush spent half as much time really trying to improve Florida's public education as he does in trying to thwart the will of the people, we might not have one of the worst systems in the nation.

It seems he's discovered that 65 percent of educational funding should go "for classroom needs such as teacher salaries, computers and other supplies."

This, of course leaves not enough money to build the classrooms the people of Florida want.

And when the class size amendment is repealed, Gov. Bush can go after the 65 percent.

Has Florida ever had a more duplicitous chief executive?


An Inch Deep . . . 

Is it possible that the Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker is the most shallow columnist working for a major daily newspaper?

Exhibit A: 750 words on Hillary Clinton's use of the word plantation.

Your task: Assume she has a point -- figure out what it might be.

Mark of the Beast 

The Beast offers up the 50 Most Loathsome People in America during 2005. Most of those on the list are, in fact, pretty loathsome.

Even through there are few surprises, it's worth reading entries for the "reasons" they were nominated. Take Bill Frist (No. 21) for example:
A physician whose senatorial career has been a protracted renunciation of the Hippocractic oath. First and foremost, Frist does harm. Drew the scrutiny of the SEC and Department of Justice for directing the sale of $6 million worth of stock in his brother'’s company, while claiming not to know he even owned it. Diagnosed Terri Schiavo from the senate floor, proclaiming "that is not somebody in a persistent vegetative state,"” and then denied ever having made such a judgment. His Harvard Medical School classmates reproached him in a letter for having exploited his medical training. Made protecting drug maker Eli Lilly from litigation for putting mercury in vaccines a provision of the Homeland Security bill. Honed his surgical skills on cats he adopted from pet shelters - —really.
Or Karl Rove (No. 15):
A greasy pig whose only distinction in life is his total lack of decency. Rove is decidedly not a genius; he is simply missing the part of his soul that prevents the rest of us from kicking elderly women in the face. His admirers have elevated fanatical, amoral ambition to the status of a virtue, along with lying, cheating, and negligent homicide, all in the name of "values."” Quite possibly the worst person in the worst White House in American history.
Conservatives need not worry, their standard demons (Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, etc.) make the list, too.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Another Good Florida Blog 

Just noticed St. Petersburg-based Van's Gulf Coast Progressive.

Plenty of interesting stuff.

Boo Hoo 

Waaa . . . the nasty old liberals in academia are being mean to me:
I'm sick of being ostracized if I dare to stray from the orthodoxy, and I can't imagine what kind of leper I'd be if I told them what I really think. I can't do the research I would like to do in fear of losing my funding. I am sometimes in the uncomfortable position of having to work with poor research designs that must lead to a policy conclusion that will be destructive to many people's lives.
So saith a commenter (Ammonium)at Prof. Bainbridge. I guess posting this substitutes for getting a backbone.

The original post by Bainbridge makes me wonder why all these persecuted conservatives keep working amongst people who constantly bully them.

I imagine this commenter (Duns Scotus)cowering in his office, perhaps with a whispered "Mommy" as the tirade raged outside.
My office used to be just outside the door of the classroom in which one of the cited UCLA professors used to teach a course on Marxist philosophy. I got to hear him tell his students some remarkable things, for example, that Cuba is a much more democratic country than the United States and does a far better job of protecting freedom of speech; that the United States shot down Korean Airlines flight 007; that there are no political prisoners in Communist countries, while many American prisoners (including most imprisoned African-Americans) are political prisoners; and so on. I never heard any actual arguments or evidence for these claims. Student comments and questions-- and there weren't many-- were met with mockery or with "That's just what they want you to think." So, I am confident that the BAA {Bruin Alumni Association] is right about classroom indoctrination in that instance. I've also read that faculty member's evaluations of graduate students, which tracked ideology far more than academic achievement as evaluated by others on the faculty.
And what did he do about it?

Write about it on a blog.

What a wimp.

Speaking of Gainesville 

Joe Moraca (Sarasota Livin') notes that Gainesville's Burrito Bros. Taco Co. (nee Key West Tacos) is moving around the corner and opening a second location (in Tampa).

This will mean nothing to those who are not Gators, but BBTC is a Gainesville institution -- a place not to be missed on trips to Hogtown.

In the same tradition, the recently opened Peyote Joe's in Pompano Beach serves great burritos, tacos, etc. The food is served quickly, but it's definitely not a "fast food" joint.

Frown and Gown 

Some Gainesville residents are not too happy with having student housing in their neighborhood, and are trying to get the city to tighten its ordinances to discourage what they perceive to be nuisance neighbors.

The Independent Florida Alligator doesn't think highly of these efforts, but may not be helping the students all that much in the eyes of municipal officials. In an editorial the Alligator suggests that residents should lighten up"
Some Gainesville residents are throwing a fit over their student neighbors.

At a joint Public Safety Committee and Community Development Committee meeting on Thursday, many aired their complaints.

"They are becoming active at the time I go to bed," said Mary Anne Gularte. She added that she now has to sleep in "a series of naps."

Many at the meeting proposed simply enforcing the existing city ordinances to help bring the students back in line.

They should have stopped to examine whether the ordinances should be enforced in the first place.

Maybe we can get behind noise ordinances. Nobody wants to be woken up in the middle of the night just because there's a party going on next door.

But some of the other regulations are more dubious. One prohibits parking on front lawns. Another allows only three or fewer unrelated people to live in areas zoned as single-family neighborhoods.

We don't think either of those issues is the city's business.

If students want to drive all over their front lawns and have 10 people living in one house, well, that's their decision. The government and busybody residents need to recognize when to butt out.
Nice libertarian sentiments, but wait until they are homeowners.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Florida's Foreign Policy 

It appears the Governor Bush is saying Florida will support a Peru-U.S. free trade pact. And it appears that in return Peru will support Miami as the headquarters for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Having had his problems with citizen initiatives in Florida, Gov. Bush warned Peru's President Alejandro Toledo that "The situation with populism is it cannot deliver."

(via Florida Politics)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Where Did These Poor People Come From? 

Sun-Sentinel columnist Guillermo I. Martinez has suddenly discovered the poor people of Venezuela.

I don't remember any concern being expressed by Martinez about them prior to Chávez' election, but now that discounted Venezuelan oil is being offered to people in the United States to help them get through the winter months, he is indignant that this is taking resources away from the destitute of Venezuela.

Of course, even Martinez can't accuse Chávez of creating the large pool of poverty in Venezuela.

Oh, wait . . . reading on, it seems his column is not really just about the Venezuelan poor, after all. It also provides Martinez an opportunity to throw a little dirt at Senator Ted Kennedy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Post MLK Day 

Eric Muller had an MLK Day question:
It's a rather mundane thought, I know, but still: how can it be that Washington has a Holocaust Museum, an American History Museum, a Museum of the American Indian that documents both Indian civilization and its displacement and suppression, and memorials to so many American wars and heroes, but not a single public space dedicated to the tragedy of American slavery?
Meanwhile, at the Volokh Conspiracy, one of its weakest links, David Bernstein, proposes (for debate only, of course) that we remove Martin Luther King's name from the holiday. Poor David is rather disappointed that the comment thread is not making the case for this, so he supplies his reasons. Nevertheless, some commenters understand what is going on and express themselves thusly:
Speaking of "civil rights," ponder these priorities:

Abraham Lincoln- President of the United States. Freed the slaves, led the country in its roughest years, and committed hundreds of thousands of American lives to the principle of a single union of states without slavery. Took a bullet in the head for it.

Martin Luther King- Talked the talk, led a few walks, and spent a few nights in jail. Then turned communist. Took a bullet in the head for it.

GUESS WHICH OF THESE MEN HAS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY NAMED AFTER HIM. In America in the 21st Century, the amount of honor heaped upon you is contingent upon being born with the right skin pigmentation.
Obviously we still have a long way to go.

Unforced Error 

In today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, an editorial takes the administration to task over its refusal to let the Cuban national baseball team take part in the World Baseball Classic. The editorial notes that the ban came about after "requests from Cuban-American congressional representatives, including Miami Republicans Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen," and goes on to term the reasons given for the ban to be without logic.
The world is not going to judge Castro's government any differently if the team is allowed to play. Global opinion, however, is going to weigh against the United States if it sticks to this policy error.
Leaving politics aside (and I mean domestic, not international), what is the purpose in even having a World Baseball Classic if one of, if not the best, team is prohibited from playing?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss 

Pensacola Beach Blog posts on a disturbing report on how most school systems in Florida are neglecting the teaching of civics.

Face Facts 

The Last Liberal in Central Florida has a message for "the Log Cabin Republicans in Florida . . . protesting the fact that the Republican party donated $150,000 to the effort to put a petition on the ballot for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage."
"They hate you!"
And if the donation isn't bad enough, wait until the campaign advertisments are released.

Thoughts on MLK Day 

If you think racism in America is a thing of the past, get a conversation going about Martin Luther King Day.

Among many whites, there is almost a perverse glee that they will be going to work today -- "It's not my holiday."

In part, this comes from the "ownership" many in the black community assert over the holiday. In my part of Florida virtually all MLK Day activities are held in the traditional black neighborhoods. The ubiquitous MLK Day parade is almost always held on the "main street" of the old black section of town.

Much of the white ambivalence regarding MLK Day is based on ignorance, a lot of it willful. Even a casual reading of King's writings and speeches should be proof that there could have been no better leader of the Civil Rights movement -- if not King, then who? If not non-violence, then what?

Is there anyone left (outside of the various Aryan/Nazi movements) who believes that segregation could have survived much longer? The question then, is how we should have gotten from there to here. I subscribe that course set by Martin Luther King was best for black and for America.

Whites as much as blacks should see King for what he was -- a man who helped save America.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Remembering John Mahon 

I was sad to hear that one of my favorite historians has died. John K. Mahon was the chairman of the University of Florida History Department when I attended so many years ago.

Professor Mahon believed that with the increase in the number of students admitted to the university, the quality of students and teaching went down. When queried on why he didn't just maintain his standards, he answered "You can't fail them all."

He often held graduate seminars in his office. During one session a fellow student pointed to a framed poker hand on the wall -- an ace-high straight -- and asked Professor Mahon if that was his hand. When the reply was affirmative, the student asked, "Was it the winning hand?" Without changing his expression, Mahon answered "It almost always is."

During the 1980s, John Mahon served as president of the Florida Historical Society. At the end of his term, following speeches thanking him for his service and dedication, he stated that he didn't feel that he did all that much, but that fortunately the organization seemed to survive quite well no matter who was at the helm.

Finally, he had rather simple tastes. At one lunch meeting at a rather fancy restaurant he perused the menu and told the waiter, "I'll have the gargonzola salad . . .whatever gargonzola is."

Truly a fine man.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

'Splain It To Me Again 

Let's see. It seems they didn't acquire or pass on any military or government secrets, and they didn't recruit others to do so.

So why are they being called spies?

Unless there's more to come, it appears to be a weak case.

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