Institutions of Lower Learning

The Florida House is looking into how best to stamp out freedom of speech and thought on college campuses. The bill was inspired by the works of David Horowitz, Fruitcake Nutcase. The Southwest Florida Herald Tribune reported today:

David Horowitz was the only invited speaker Tuesday for an unusual meeting of the House Education Council to discuss an “Academic Freedom” bill sponsored by the council’s chairman, Ocala Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley…

Horowitz is author of the recently published “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left,” which asserts that “America’s liberals and radical Muslims stand on suspiciously similar ground in refusing to condemn Islam’s terrorism, in criticizing America and the West, and in opposing efforts to export capitalism and democracy,” according to a blurb at

Baxley filed House Bill 837 after a meeting last year in St. Louis where Horowitz spoke. Horowitz’s group, Students for Academic Freedom, has pushed virtually identical bills in a number of states.

This thing stinks so bad even Jeb is keeping his distance, explaining his position with his usual charm.

But he added that he isn’t likely to sign the bill should it make a long-shot journey to his desk. “The eight ball says, ‘Outlook not so good,'” he said.

The bill would protect young people from the bother of having to consider points of view unlike those of their parents and high school gym teachers.

A portion of the bill says students should not have their academic freedom “infringed upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial matter into the classroom that has no relation to the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose.”

Baxley cited “totalitarian niches” in campuses that are “bastions of leftist thought,” saying tenured professors ruin conservative students’ grades and conservative professors’ careers.

I almost hope the bill makes it. As Cokie Roberts said of presidential term limits awhile back, Republicans were aiming at Roosevelt but they shot Eisenhower and Reagan. Certainly Florida’s Republicans, who recently decided “eight is NOT enough,” and upped the years one could serve in the House to 12, discovered this after they became the majority party. Suddenly term limits didn’t seem quite so groovy. I could easily see arch-conservatives, not unlike Horowitz himself, facing the same fate this bill proposes for liberals.

But it sounds like the Florida Gops have thrown in with a winner.

Only Horowitz was invited to speak in the House Education Council “workshop” Tuesday. He frequently flouted protocol by speaking out of turn until Rep. Ralph Arza, R-Hialeah, brusquely ended an exchange between Horowitz and a Democrat lawmaker.

In a series of press releases, House Democrats hammered Horowitz, citing his “extremism” in stances against evolution and blaming Rodney King for causing the Los Angeles riots for failing to lie prone during his arrest.

When Boobs Run Medicine

Gotta weigh in on this one: the New York Times reported today that 93% of silicone breast implants rupture within 10 years. Whoa! But it’s O.K., a panel of experts is on the job.

The experts are to decide by April 13, the last day of the hearings, whether the implants are safe enough to be approved for wide use. The Food and Drug Administration then decides whether to follow the recommendation.

The panel voted, 9 to 6, in October 2003 to approve silicone implants. In an unusual move, its chairman later wrote a letter to the F.D.A. urging that it reject the recommendation.

They voted to approve?? Wha?

The crucial issues are how often the implants break, what happens to the silicone when they rupture and what health effects result.

Yes that would pretty well cover the critical issues. Let’s see, a couple of pints of liquid silicone are loose in my bloodstream. Nah, I can’t see a problem. In fact, the new president of the plastic surgeons, who is on the payroll of implant manufacturers, feels the same way: The news is “surprising,” – Yes, let me think about it for a minute…What the hey? Let’s keep using them anyway!

Dr. Mark Jewell, president elect of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said he was surprised that the agency had estimated that silicone implants failed so often.

“That’s certainly news and does need to be addressed,” said Dr. Jewell, who has consulted for Inamed and Mentor. “But I feel that the devices should be approved.”

Important issues are at stake here, like how a woman feels about not having men stare at a region approximately 12 inches below her chin when she speaks.

Underlying the scientific issues are deeply emotional questions about self-image. Physicians are allowed to use silicone implants for women who need reconstructive surgery after major illnesses like cancer. Broader approval would most likely accelerate the growing popularity of breast-enhancement operations.

Some advocates believe such operations should be discouraged. Others say larger breasts can provide women with important help for self-esteem.

Yeah, what’s a little silicone in the blood compared to such important help? Thank goodness science is so responsibly watching out for women.

Third DeLay Scandal of the Day

Now Tom DeLay is accused of taking a luxury trip to Saipan paid for by a DC sleazebag lobbying to stop a bill that would end sex slavery and sweatshops in the Mariana Islands, which is United States territory.

Three new potential scandals in one day? Remember in the 1990’s how the Gops kept saying about the Clintons – “if there’s smoke there’s fire?” Funny how you don’t hear them saying that now about the Bugman.

What will we tell the children?

A Washington lobbyist under federal investigation for his lobbying activities arranged a lavish overseas trip to the island of Saipan for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, over the New Year’s holiday in 1997.

DeLay, his wife and daughter, and several aides, stayed for free at a beachfront resort. The DeLay trip to the South Pacific island, originally reported by a “20/20” investigation, was part of an effort by former aide Jack Abramoff to stop legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops in the American territory, which is known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

Learning to Do Better in Florida

Florida Democrats took a shot today at one of the things Jeb points to as a glowing success: the state’s failing public education system. A press release from the House Democratic Caucus said:

Since Gov. Jeb Bush took office, student performance has significantly dropped as more and more emphasis has been placed on a school’s overall grade on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). Barely half of Florida children are reading at grade-level, resulting in the nation’s worst high school graduation rate, with just over 50 percent of all high school students graduating. According to recent data, Florida students rank 44th and 48th in the nation respectively on the verbal and math portions of the college-entrance SAT.

Small wonder. Under Jeb’s plan public schools have changed from places where kids learn about the world and develop a direction in life to institutions fighting for their existence. All other studies are subordinated to the narrow range of skills tested on the FCAT – gone are subjects like social studies, civics, art, music, science. Incredibly, with the obesity epidemic facing so many children, physical education classes have also been nixed.

Jeb’s reward/punishment system means that schools which do well on the FCAT continue to be fully funded. In one case, a school in a prestigious area was reportedly given such lavish bonuses for its FCAT scores that students, most already well-to-do, were taken on a field trip to a theme park. Meanwhile schools that struggle – for example, because they serve largely non-English speaking students or have a lower property tax base – see their funding drained away.

A lot of that money ends up in private hands, via vouchers. Florida’s voucher system has been as scandal-plagued as every other privatization initiative in the state, including money going to “schools” whose campuses are P.O. boxes, as well as schools run by terrorist sympathizers. Democrats said today that Jeb’s system is ruining Florida’s economy.

The Republican education system is having a serious negative impact on our economy. In March, the Palm Beach Post reported that Citrix, a large South Florida software company is looking to grow outside of Florida, primarily because our schools are not preparing students for tomorrow’s high-tech jobs…In their landmark New Cornerstone Report, the Chamber wrote that “basic education skills are weak…skilled labor (is) in short supply in many industries…advanced science and engineering skills also remain limited…technology discovery, development and deployment remains unbalanced.”

The plan announced by the Democrats doesn’t sound as if it broke new ground, but at least it’s a start.

The Democrats’ plan is partially based on a 2004 report authored by the University of South Florida’s Dr. Sherman Dorn, written for the Tallahassee-based think tank Civic Concern…

The Democrats’ plan would also overhaul the school grading system, by moving away from a system of grading schools A-F to a system that designates schools as “Passing with Distinction,” “Passing,” or “Failing.” The plan would also reduce the weight of school FCAT scores in determining a school’s overall grade and add new factors, such as parental involvement, school discipline, average class size and drop-out rates.

DeLay Twofer: Post & Times Report New Scandals

But don’t expect anything to come from these two new scandals – or anymore than has come from the umpteen past scandals related House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-East Hades). In fact, the way the Bug Man has de-fanged and re-arranged the House Ethics Committee, he probably won’t even receive a rebuke.

Still, maybe there is lemonade to be made out of these new lemons. DeLay will continue to hang onto power, just like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich did after he took heat for closing down the government – and even after it became common knowledge on the Hill that he was boinking an aide at the very moment he and his minions were going after President Clinton for boinking his aide, Monica Lewinsky.

In 1996, the Democrats used Gingrich’s unpopularity with the public to run against him as a shadow candidate on the Dole-Kemp-Gingrich presidential ticket. If DeLay hangs on through next year, the Dems could deploy a similar tactic in the ’06 Congressionals – make the entire GOP House delegation defend not only their seats but their allegiance to their corrupt leader.

Well, we can dream, can’t we? For what’s worth, here are links to details about les Scandals DeLay dejour:

Washington Post:

A six-day trip to Moscow in 1997 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was underwritten by business interests lobbying in support of the Russian government, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the trip arrangements.

DeLay reported that the trip was sponsored by a Washington-based nonprofit organization. But interviews with those involved in planning DeLay’s trip say the expenses were covered by a mysterious company registered in the Bahamas that also paid for an intensive $440,000 lobbying campaign.

New York Times:

The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay’s political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay’s home state, Texas.

Most of the payments to his wife, Christine A. DeLay, and his only child, Dani DeLay Ferro, were described in the disclosure forms as “fund-raising fees,” “campaign management” or “payroll,” with no additional details about how they earned the money.