Know-Nothing Mel

Florida Politics has done an early and masterful job of exposing freshman Florida Sen. Mel Martinez as the weasel he is. Almost all Florida’s major newspapers are running editorials about Mel’s tried and true pattern of slinging the slime and then hiding behind aides or other scapegoats, and FlaPol has the complete round-up. Considering that Mel did the impossible during the last election cycle – actually make me support Bill McCollum* – I am not at all surprised. But as the blog points out, Florida’s stuck with this jack-ass for six long years.

* Actually, I was only pulling for Bill in the Republican primary, in which I cannot vote.

DeLay Made Pro-Milosevic Move While on the Take from Russia

From Mark A. R. Kleiman (via Atrios):

Kevin Drum offers another good reason to move to expel DeLay right now. Kevin recalls correctly that DeLay was on Milosevich’s side against Bill Clinton. He doesn’t mention the extraordinary maneuver by which DeLay managed to send an encouraging message to the enemy while our men and women in uniform were in harm’s way, by promising Clinton a resolution of support for the air war and then arranging for it to come to the floor and fail. (Of course, DeLay wasn’t alone among Republicans, back then, in hating the President more than he hated the mass murderer the President was trying to rein in.)

And now we know, as Kevin points out, that DeLay was doing all of this as the beneficiary of largesse from the Russian security services. Taking an expensive vacation at the expense of the military of a foreign power to support America’s enemies probably doesn’t amount to treason under the Constitutional definition, but it comes close.

The debate on the motion to consider immediate expulsion should be well worth listening to: once Nancy Pelosi offers it, that is.

Worst President Ever Snubs Greatest Living President

George W. Bush is not worthy to shine Jimmy Carter’s shoes. But because Carter has been critical of Bush’s disastrous foreign policy, the Bushies dis-invited him from attending the Pope’s funeral.

It’s important to remember in all this adulation of John Paul II’s social conservatism (read: internalized homophobia, etc.) that he also opposed the Bush foreign policies, especially the war in Iraq. In all the wall to wall coverage of the Pope’s funeral, you never hear that John Paul II was very harsh in his crticism of the Bush Administration over Iraq. This fact simpy doesn’t jive with the MSM’s script on the funeral.

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.

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.

Dems Poke at Gops over Anti-Judiciary Remarks

Is this Round One in the fight that could lead the GOP to pull the trigger on the “nuclear option?” Democrats have threatened to shut the government down if the Republicans do the unthinkable and kill the fillibuster rule in the Senate, which is the Democrats’ only means of stopping President Bush’s relentless efforts to pack the federal judiciary with rightwing idealogues. Republicans are in bad odor with the public right now because of their blatant demogoguery in the Schiavo matter. If Democrats can connect the dots between GOP duplicity and politicization in the Schiavo case and the politics behind killing the fillibuster, we may just have a fight on our hands.

Congressional Democrats on Tuesday said Republican criticism of the federal courts following Terri Schiavo’s death showed an “arrogancy of power” that is leading to a Senate confrontation over filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

“If they don’t get what they want, they attack whoever’s around,” said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. “Now they’re after the courts, and I think it goes back to this arrogancy of power.”

Democrats are focusing on comments by two Texas Republicans, Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who gets no vote on judicial nominations since they are the purview of the Senate.

“The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,” DeLay said after Schiavo died last week.

Cornyn, while criticizing a different judicial decision, wondered Monday if frustration against perceived political decisions by judges “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification.”

” I think it’s an arrogancy of power,” Reid said.

He might add that the GOP histrionics over the Democrats’ stalling of judicial nominations is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Bush nominated over 200 judges in his first term and all but 10 were confirmed by the Senate. That’s hardly a”obstructionism,” by any standard.

Gallup: Bush Is Most Unpopular Second Term President

You won’t see this reported in the MSM – via Editor & Publisher:

It’s not uncommon to hear or read pundits referring to President George W. Bush as a “popular” leader or even a “very popular” one. Even some of his critics in the press refer to him this way. Perhaps they need to check the latest polls.

President Bush’s approval rating has plunged to the lowest level of any president since World War II at this point in his second term, the Gallup Organization reported today….

Here are the approval ratings for presidents as recorded by Gallup in the March following their re-election:

Truman, 1949: 57%.

Eisenhower, 1957: 65%.

Johnson, 1965: 69%.

Nixon, 1973: 57%.

Reagan, 1985: 56%.

Clinton, 1997: 59% .

Bush, 2005: 45%