Thursday, February 23, 2017

They Put The “Duh” In Florida

Via Miami New Times, here is the latest evidence that my state is run by idiots.

The federal government is run by a despotic regime that dictates laws and hands down rulings wholly incongruous with the vision laid out by America’s Founding Fathers, say two Florida lawmakers. According to state Sen. Keith Perry  — a Republican who represents Alachua, Putnam, and portions of Marion Counties — and Rep. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice Republican, the regime now running the United States constitutes an oligarchy of wealthy elites that “must be dismantled for the sake of our republic and for the continued empowerment of its people.

Who are those tyrants? Try the entire judicial branch of the U.S. government.

In December, Gonzalez filed a resolution in the Florida House, which, if passed, would urge the U.S. Congress to straight-up invalidate the judicial branch. And this morning, Perry filed a companion bill in the state Senate. The pair is asking Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution so that Congress can overturn any judicial decision. Under the crackpot bills, which are identical, Congress could overturn U.S. Supreme Court decisions with a 60 percent vote.

Really.

“Florida Legislature respectfully petitions the United States Congress to propose to the states an amendment to the United States Constitution providing that any law, resolution, or other legislative act declared void by the United States Supreme Court or a United States court of appeals may be deemed active and operational, notwithstanding the court’s ruling, if agreed to by Congress pursuant to a joint resolution adopted by a 60 percent vote of each chamber of Congress within 5 years after the date the ruling becomes final,” Gonzalez’s resolution reads.

It sounds like these guys were not paying attention in their junior high school civics class that explained the basics of our constitutional system; you know, the part about the three co-equal branches of government that consist of executive, legislative, and judicial.

The legislators write that the judicial branch of the government has “taken on an increasingly activist role aimed at molding legislation according to the political beliefs of its members,” adding that such an activist posture tends to excessively consolidate power in one branch of government, and, as George Washington observed, such encroachments eventually create “a real despotism.”

They also add that federal judges tend to rule by “usurpation,” and then, staggeringly, complain that “the United States Supreme Court currently possesses ultimate and unchecked authority on matters of the constitutionality of the United States’ laws such that its opinion on such matters has the same effect as amending the United States Constitution.”

The two men don’t mention that this is, quite literally, the exact job of the U.S. Supreme Court. Nor do they mention that the federal courts have done nothing out of the ordinary this year, compared to other times in American history.

This morning, Perry didn’t cite Trump’s recent judicial smackdown as a reason for proposing the resolution. But the president’s influence is all over the text: Trump, too, has waged a war against the courts, the biggest check on his power, and would clearly be happier if pesky things such as the U.S Constitution, federal judges, and opposing legislators didn’t exist.

Perry, it seems, would rather we be governed by Trump alone. In the meantime, New Times is soliciting donations to send a few copies of the children’s A-Z civics book D Is for Democracy to the two lawmakers’ offices.

What we need now is immediate increased emergency funding for remedial civics education in Florida.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Is Rubio In Trouble?

Marco Rubio, who Time magazine once touted as the savior of the Republican party, finds himself in a tight re-election race against Rep. Patrick Murphy here in Florida.

Recruited, touted and funded by the DSCC, Murphy spent the weeks before the Trump implosion explaining why that group and a related super PAC had already started to scrap $6 million of $10 million in planned ad buys. He had $4 million left to spend, just $600,000 less than the incumbent. Rubio’s line that “both candidates” were flawed skipped over Clinton’s higher favorable ratings — still underwater, but not as toxic in Florida as Trump.

And Democrats, who a month earlier had despaired about beating Rubio, began the week looking for an opening — a path to the Senate laid by angry Trump voters leaving the rest of their ballots blank.

Not everyone has declared the race over. Last week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) flew into Orlando to join Murphy and local candidates for Congress at a news conference commemorating four months since the Pulse nightclub shootings.

“I spent the morning on the phone calling my donors and national donors, telling them to put money into Florida,” Chris Murphy said. “I think Trump is the kiss of death for down-ballot candidates no matter what you do. If you don’t pull your support, you’re going to get asked questions about why you’re sticking with this monster.”

If there’s an ad campaign for Murphy here in South Florida, I’ve missed it, but perhaps that’s because the campaign knows they have this part of the state sewn up and need to spend their cash in other markets such as Tampa and Jacksonville where there aren’t as many Democrats but might be going for the disgruntled Republicans.

That said, the folks at FiveThirtyEight give Mr. Murphy a 28.4% chance of winning.  Which is too bad because he’s running against an unprincipled opportunist who sees his job in the Senate as a temporary position until he can try again to run for the White House.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It Already Looks Like A Bribe

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi tells us that she didn’t return the campaign donation she got from Donald Trump right after she lost interest in joining the suit against “Trump University” because to do so would have looked suspicious.

At a hastily called news conference before the Cabinet meeting, Bondi said her only regret was not meeting with reporters earlier to discuss an array of Trump-related documents, released by her office in April, that lay out the Trump University chronology.

“I would never, ever trade any campaign donation — that’s absurd — for some type of favor to anyone,” Bondi said.

Returning the contribution also was never seriously considered, she said.

“If I had returned it, you would have reported, ‘Bondi accepted bribe, got caught, and returned it,’ ” she said. “There was nothing improper about it, so there was no reason to return it.”

There’s another really old profession that deals in favors for money, but I’ll pass up the comparison for now and just say that if someone is worried about improper impressions, there’s a pretty good reason that thought occurs to them: it’s because it is improper.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Business As Usual: Lies and Bribery

It looks like things are getting a little curiouser and curiouser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her solicitation of a campaign contribution in exchange for not being part of the suit against Trump University.  Via TPM:

The indefatigable Sopan Deb (one of the reporter standouts of 2016) reports that Trump today flatly denied ever speaking to Bondi about his foundation’s contribution to Bondi’s campaign in 2013, just before her office decided not to join New York State’s suit against Trump and Trump University.

Trump: “I never spoke to her” … “Never spoke to her about that at all.”

Legit?

Who knows? But according to multiple reports, well before this became a big story and never denied by Trump, Pam Bondi personally solicited the contribution from Trump.

Here’s the AP from last June: “Florida’s attorney general personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.” (emphasis added)

Bondi responded furiously to the AP report, pushing back against claims of impropriety. But she never disputed the AP’s claim that she solicited the contribution personally.

[…]

So where did the AP get the idea that Bondi spoke to Trump directly? From an on the record interview with her political consultant Marc Reichelderfer, who Bondi asked to speak to the AP on her behalf!

Given that this information came from Bondi’s consultant, speaking to the AP on her behalf while trying to defend her against claims of a conflict of interest – and that it was never disputed post-publication – it is overwhelmingly likely that the two did speak and that Trump is lying.

Apparently it’s not a bribe if you ask for it up front.  It’s only a bribe if you have an underling collect it from a dead drop, preferably in a used paper bag leftover from a Subway sandwich and stashed under the third bench on the left in the park.  But if you’re bold enough to ask for it in person and then follow through with legal non-action through your office, well, it’s business as usual.

You have to give a little leeway to Ms. Bondi; she’s not as deft at skulduggery and payoffs as Mr. Trump — in those ranks he has no peer — and her previous attempts at fund-raising have been ham-handed.  She once had to call off the execution of a prisoner because it conflicted with a campaign event.

If there is any karmic justice in the world, this will all blow up in the next month or so and subject Mr. Trump and Ms. Bondi to the kind of scrutiny and suspicion that Hillary Clinton gets every time she scratches her nose.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Primary Results

In Florida, the races that caught national attention did not produce any upsets: Marco Rubio will be the GOP candidate for Senate facing Rep. Patrick Murphy for the Democrats.  (By the way, Mr. Rubio hinted he might not stay in the Senate if elected.  2020 beckons…)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, who had issues when she was the head of the DNC, won her race against Tim Canova.

In Miami-Dade County, the mayor’s race will go to a run-off in November between incumbent Carlos Gimenez and Raquel Regalado (oh joy, more robocalls).  And it looks like there will be some run-offs in the school board election as well.

The sun shone on the constitutional amendment to allow tax breaks for solar power.  So that’s good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I Voted

I Voted 08-30-16I stopped at the polls on the way home.  It was raining and all of the electioneers — all campaigning for judges — were huddled under ponchos or the trees in the parking lot of the church where the polling station is located.  They tried to hand me their material but I had a list of recommendations from a lawyer friend and so I politely declined their suggestions.

It was a short ballot; a page and a half.  Since it’s a closed primary I couldn’t vote for someone to primary out Marco Rubio, but I did get to choose a Democrat to run against him.  I also got to choose a candidate to run against U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lentinen.  She’s not a right-wing nut job — she’s on the right side of LGBT issues — but she’s a Republican and I’d vote against her if it my other choice was Teddy the Wonder Lizard.  I also voted in favor of the constitutional amendment for solar power.  After all, this is the Sunshine State, according to my license plate.

When I got home there were four messages on the machine all urging me to vote for a particular candidate.  I even got one from former President Jed Bartlet.  (He said his name was Martin Sheen, but I’d know that voice anywhere.)  He wanted me to vote for Alan Grayson.  Sorry, Mr. President; I already voted, and Mr. Grayson is just too much of a loose cannon and he’d get slaughtered upstate where they don’t have a problem voting against a “non-Christian.”  I’m not wild about Patrick Murphy, either, and there was another choice anyway.

Polls are open until 7:00 p.m. local time.

Primary Day

Today is the Florida primary for local, state, and federal offices including the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

If you live in Miami-Dade County and need a guide to the ballot and polling places, go here.  If you’re in Broward County, go here, and if you’re in Monroe County (the Keys), go here.

It’s also primary day in Arizona where Sen. John McCain faces a challenge from the right.

I’ll be voting on my way home from work.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Reading

The Trouble with Corey — Margaret Talbot at The New Yorker on hiring campaign insiders as network pundits.

This week, Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, offered an upbeat assessment of one of the network’s newest additions, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, whom Zucker hired as an on-air political commentator in June. “I actually think he’s done a really nice job,” Zucker said in an interview with Variety. “He’s come under a much greater spotlight because of who he is, and the relationship he’s had with the media. As a result, people are going to be more critical.” It’s hard to know quite what to make of this. Bosses like to stand by their hiring decisions when they can—fair enough. But Lewandowski has manifestly not been doing a “really nice job” in his new role, unless his role is not so much to comment on the Trump campaign as to embody the pathologies of it.

The trouble with Lewandowski is not that he came out of a campaign or that he is clearly partisan. Both cable and broadcast networks have been hiring people answering to that description for years—Democrats like Paul Begala and David Axelrod, Republicans like Nicolle Wallace and Karl Rove—with the idea that, taken en masse, their perspectives add up to a kind of nonpartisan X-ray of American politics. Those old hands may be prone to repeating their parties’ talking points, but at least they have experience in the White House or in multiple campaigns, and they know they’re supposed to be offering some kind of insider’s insight into the process that may not always pay robotic obeisance to the candidate they worked for most recently. Most of the time, that campaign was long enough ago that they aren’t still being paid severance by it, as Lewandowski is. (To be fair, his CNN interlocutors say so every time he is introduced on air.)

Lewandowski, though, is a special case. CNN hired him just a few days after the Trump campaign fired him. As Trump’s adjutant, he had upheld an authoritarian attitude toward the press, banning the Washington Post, among other media outlets Trump doesn’t care for, from covering the candidate’s events. On his first CNN appearance, on June 25th, Lewandowski would neither confirm nor deny having signed a “non-disparagement” agreement of the kind other former Trump employees have. (In that interview, the CNN anchor Erin Burnett produced an example that read: “During the term of your service and at all times thereafter, you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the company, Mr. Trump, any Trump company, any family member, or any family member company.”) But, if he did, and if he were worried about being sued or just frozen out by Trump—not unreasonable worries, in his position—that would certainly make it unlikely he would say anything critical or even specific or surprising about his former boss.

Yet that was something his new CNN bosses could reasonably have expected: a few crisp anecdotes, a little texture, a sprinkling of behind-the-scenes flavor. Zucker said in the Variety interview that the network simply needed someone representing the G.O.P. nominee’s point of view: “It’s hard to find a lot of those. Our competitors tried to hire [Lewandowski], too.” But Lewandowski’s signal quality is a kind of unsmiling, nonironic loyalty that admits of no countermanding or even complicating detail; he’s like the ultimate faithful retainer, still fixedly serving his master as the mansion crumbles around him—Erich von Stroheim in “Sunset Boulevard.” He refers to Trump as “Mr. Trump” and speaks reverently about “the family,” meaning Trump’s family. When that interview with Burnett turned to how he felt about having been fired, Lewandowski said, “I’d go back and do it exactly the same way, only better. And if I did something to disappoint the family and I didn’t accomplish what they needed, then they do what they need to do, because the campaign is bigger than Corey Lewandowski.” He said he was “fully committed”—meaning fully committed to Trump. “In my private time with my family and my friends, I’m telling everybody that I know that Donald Trump is the only person who’s going to save the country for my children and, hopefully, their children someday.”

At one point, Burnett asked for a little glimpse into the process by which Trump was then picking a Vice-President. Campaign staff members are always coy about this, but there are ways of saying something moderately substantive about what the candidate’s priorities are, and, anyway, Lewandowski wasn’t working for the campaign anymore. This is what he said: “There’s been some speculation out there that people don’t want to be part of this. It’s absolutely the opposite. Every person that he has talked to, every person that he has had an interest in talking to, has reaffirmed with one-hundred-per-cent certainty that they would be absolutely welcome on the ticket.” Absolutely, one hundred per cent: you get the picture.

Lewandowski has not grown into his job since. It could still happen, I suppose. Once in a while, as Callum Borchers pointed out, in the Washington Post, Lewandowski will emit a brief display of empathy. Lewandowski’s CNN colleagues have been doing their best, and when the dogged Alisyn Camerota asked if he could understand why some people might look askance at Trump’s comments about Brexit and the falling value of the pound—namely, that they would be good for business at his golf resort in Scotland—Lewandowski said he could. “This qualifies as progress,” Borchers wrote. “He is at least capable of seeing a non-Trump point of view and granting an unfriendly premise.” Borchars continued,

For the most part, however, Lewandowski is bad television. He remains prone to spouting fiction and doesn’t stay on-topic, grinding segments to a halt as CNN hosts have to correct his misinformation or interject to steer the conversation back to the point.

Since then, some of Lewandowski’s more memorable moments have included a weird outburst with Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council and a designated liberal commentator who he’s often been paired with on air. When Quinn, gesturing, brushed his hand with hers in the midst of a heated exchange about Trump’s reaction to the Khan family, he snapped, “Don’t touch me!” And then he said it again.

This week, Lewandowski distinguished himself by reviving the birther canard—the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. One of the other panelists that night, Angela Rye, remarked, “Donald Trump has been attacking the President long before he began campaigning for this important office. He is the one who was the spokesperson of the birther movement” and “saying the President was an affirmative-action admittee of Harvard.”

Though she was bringing this up only to establish that Trump had long had it in for Obama, Lewandowski hijacked the conversation: “Did he ever release his transcripts or his admission to Harvard University? You raised the issue, so just yes or no. The answer is no.” After they had wrangled for a few more minutes, Lewandowski went full birther. “And the question was: Did he get in as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn’t from this country?” he said.

Birtherism was the crucible and the template for Trump’s Presidential campaign. It foreshadowed so many of its hallmarks: dog-whistle racism, the brazen spreading of thoroughly disproven allegations, the just sayin’ tone in which Trump smears people. Advancing birtherism in the guise of political analysis is a firing offense. But then there have been so many already. Earlier this summer, Politico reported that the publisher HarperCollins was backing away from a $1.2 million offer to Lewandowski to write a book about his time on the campaign, “Let Trump Be Trump.” According to Politico, the publisher had decided that Lewandowski’s non-disclosure agreement would prevent him from producing anything valuable enough. Too bad CNN didn’t reach a similar conclusion.

Florida vs. Women and Zika — Nina Liss-Schultz in Mother Jones.

Last week, Florida authorities reported the first cases of local Zika transmission, which means that Zika-infected mosquitos are now in the continental United States. The cases prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn pregnant women against traveling to the part of Miami where the cases were found, the first advisory of its kind in the United States.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who’s been preparing for this situation for months, issued a similar message: “For women who live or work in the impacted area and are either pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, I urge you to contact your OB-GYN for guidance and to receive a Zika prevention kit.”

In June, after congressional squabbles blocked federal funding for Zika prevention and response, the Republican governor announced that he’d allocated more than $26 million in state funds, part of which would pay for CDC Zika prevention kits that consist of two kinds of mosquito repellent, tablets that kill mosquitos in water, and condoms. In late July, Scott said his office and the state Department of Health were coordinating door-to-door educational outreach in the areas of concern and working “with OB-GYNs and organizations that serve pregnant women in the impacted area to distribute Zika prevention kits to pregnant women.”

But it’s unclear whether those plans have become reality. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health wrote in an email to Mother Jones that prevention kits are available for pregnant women at OB-GYN offices, but did not specify how they were being distributed or where.

“We haven’t heard about any kits,” says Laura Goodhue, a vice president at Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. Planned Parenthood hasn’t received any Zika kits from the Florida Department of Health, nor has it received any guidance from the department about how to serve pregnant women during a possible outbreak.

How ready is the state—where almost two-thirds of pregnancies are unintended and the state government has attempted to block state funding for reproductive health clinics—to take on Zika? 

Here’s the backstory: The virus, which has spread through many parts of Latin America as well as Puerto Rico, is mostly benign for adults and causes mild flu-like symptoms. But it can cause microcephaly in fetuses, a severe and debilitating birth defect, the presence of which has ignited concerns over a global public health crisis. In March, the CDC told pregnant women to avoid traveling to Zika-infected areas in Latin America. And authorities in the region, where abortion is severely restricted and contraception is often hard to come by, took the unprecedented step of asking women to hold off on having children for as long as two years.

Florida’s recent cases of Zika weren’t the state’s first. By late July, nearly 400 cases had been reported over a period of several months, including 55 involving pregnant women. But they were all travel related, meaning someone brought the virus back from a Zika-infected region outside the United States.

The confirmation that four cases of locally transmitted Zika had been reported in a neighborhood in Miami means that mosquitos carrying the virus are now in the area. The number of confirmed cases grew to 15 in a matter of days, prompting the CDC to issue its warning. Those cases are a big deal because scientists warn that infected mosquitos are necessary for the virus to really spread. (Scientists still say, however, that we should not expect a widespread Zika epidemic in the United States.)

A big part of the defense against infection for women in Florida appears to be the Zika prevention kits and OB-GYN outreach, but the Scott administration’s strategy is unclear. The Planned Parenthood affiliate operates three clinics in Miami-Dade County, which has the fourth-highest uninsured rate in the country, and another just over the border in Broward County. The women’s health care organization serves tens of thousands of people per year, many of whom are low-income and without insurance—and more likely to get pregnant by accident. As Laura Goodhue notes, they have not received a single kit.

A spokesperson for Today’s Women Medical Centers, which offers family planning, prenatal, and abortion services, also said her clinic has not heard from Gov. Scott’s office or the state Department of Health about what help to offer women facing Zika. They also do not have CDC Zika prevention kits.

Goodhue says Scott’s efforts to curtail reproductive health clinics in Florida has damaged his efforts for Zika prevention. Most recently, Scott signed a bill that would block state funding for many reproductive health clinics, including Planned Parenthood and Today’s Women Medical Centers. Planned Parenthood sued the state, and the law is not currently being enforced, but, Goodhue says, Scott “has placed barriers on affordable health care, birth control, and contraception.”

So far, the Florida Department of Health has confirmed one case of microcephaly in an infant whose mother contracted Zika while in Haiti. There are no cases of currently pregnant women with microcephaly diagnoses. But if there were, her options would be limited: the state restricts public insurance coverage for abortion, and prevents health insurance providers on the Obamacare exchange from covering abortion, with no exception for fetal anomaly. There is also a ban on abortion after 24 weeks.

Jeri Bustamante, a spokeswoman for Scott, wouldn’t comment on whether Scott’s efforts to block funding for reproductive health clinics might be undermining his fight against Zika, but she did point out that the Department of Health is now testing pregnant women for Zika at no cost, and that, for now, the virus is contained to a small neighborhood in Miami. “We want to emphasize it is just within one square mile,” she said.

How to Watch the Rio Olympics — David Sims at The Atlantic has a viewers guide.

Watching the Olympics is a multimedia experience that should be perfectly suited to the age of TV streaming. Want to catch a volleyball game without missing that day’s individual dressage? For the most part you can: Viewers are no longer shackled to time-delayed primetime broadcasts for the events they want to watch. Indeed, watching the 2016 Rio Games, which begin with the Opening Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Friday August 5, will be easier than ever thanks to NBC’s blanket approach to airing thousands of hours of events both on cable and online. Unfortunately, the best viewing experience will mostly entail a cable subscription, but there are a few other ways to watch in the U.S. without shelling out too many extra dollars.

NBC will broadcast the Olympics …

The network paid the dear price of $1.2 billion to secure broadcasting rights for the Rio Games. After the opening ceremony on Friday, the network will air prime-time Olympic coverage for the entire two weeks of the Games. Viewers can catch up on the day’s biggest highlights from 8 p.m. to midnight every day, presented by hosts including Bob Costas, Ryan Seacrest, Al Michaels, Rebecca Lowe, and Dan Patrick. The channel will also air live coverage for most of the day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., until the Games end on August 21.

The main NBC broadcast will feature the biggest events: Swimming, gymnastics, diving, beach volleyball, and anything else the United States excels at, but it should dip into all of the most newsworthy events as they play out. Unlike the Summer Games of the recent past (which took place in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and London), the games in Rio will be easier for American viewers to keep track of during the day, because the city’s time zone is only one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

… But other cable channels are airing events too

If NBC isn’t airing anything of interest, there are many other cable channels that are part of the NBCUniversal umbrella. NBC Sports will be the primary backup network, focusing on basketball and soccer. The Golf Channel will, unsurprisingly, be the home of golf, which is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1904. Bravo will feature tennis; CNBC has a number of events including volleyball, cycling, and wrestling; MSNBC counts rugby and water polo among its sports; Telemundo will broadcast hundreds of hours in Spanish; and USA will carry more basketball, along with beach volleyball, rowing, synchronized swimming, and more.

Cord-cutters might have a tricky time of it

Beyond that, the NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com will stream some 4,500 hours of events that don’t make it to TV, but you’ll need a cable login to view anything for more than 30 minutes. NBC has also been smart enough to respond to criticisms of its past Olympic coverage by further expanding the viewing options online. Still, in an era of binge-watchers and cord-cutters, the Olympics are the kind of live event that the network will try to milk for every possible dollar, younger viewers be damned.

NBC’s approach is emblematic of the new path major networks have to chart in an era where ratings are more diluted than ever. No longer can it rely on its regular prime-time hits to generate ad revenue—most of the younger generation is happy to wait for it to appear on Hulu or Netflix months later, ready for binge-watching. The Olympics have been viewed for years as a prestige event, a gaudy laurel for NBC that couldn’t possibly justify the immense cost needed to secure the broadcast rights, though that has begun to change.

But there are work-aroundsInternet-only viewers can subscribe to NBC’s cable channels through PlayStation Vue, which is available on PlayStations, Roku boxes, and Amazon Fire TV, for between $30 and $40 a month. Apple TV users can also get access to some of the channels—NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, and Bravo—through Sling TV, a $25-a-month TV streaming service available as an app.

What about 2020?

This year, NBC agreed to pay a staggering $7.75 billion for the rights to future Olympics through 2032. Back in 2010, the network was judged to have vastly overpaid for the Sochi Winter Games, losing hundreds of millions because of the steep price paid to broadcast them. But live events like the Olympics are increasingly the kind of coveted property that advertising executives know viewers will actually tune into, rather than relying on their DVRs so they can skip through the commercials.

The network had assumed it would lose $200 million on the 2012 London Games; it ended up breaking even, because of higher-than-expected ratings. The seemingly vast overpay for the Olympics through 2032 is a bet on the future of TV, where live events will be the main purpose of broadcasting. That’s why Comcast, the cable company that now owns NBCUniversal, is rolling out a new set-top box that will offer access to real-time high-definition Olympic streams as well as regular cable programming. The 2016 Games might be a risky proposition for the government of Brazil and the athletes attending, but they may well prove a safer bet than expected for NBC.

 Doonesbury — Shilling for Roger.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rubio Rerun

Even though he says he hates the Senate and it’s a total bore, Marco Rubio wants to run for the seat he was happy to give up last year.

In a major reversal highlighting Republican fear over losing the Senate majority and his own plans for another presidential run, Marco Rubio on Wednesday broke a longstanding promise not to seek re-election, becoming an instant favorite but facing the challenge of running in a year featuring Donald Trump.

[…]

As a presidential contender over the last year, Rubio repeatedly said he would not seek re-election, dismissing the Senate as ineffective and out of touch.

“It’s frustrating to watch every day nothing happen, no matter who’s in charge, who you elect, who you give the majority to — nothing happens,” Rubio said in New Hampshire in November. Another time he declared, “You’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.”

In May, he tweeted: “I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.”

Now he’ll have to confront those words in a state that handed him an embarrassing loss in the March 15 presidential primary. His candidacy was rejected by all of Florida’s 67 counties except hometown Miami-Dade.

Jim Morin:

Morin 06-22-16

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bought and Paid For

Via TPM:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Florida’s attorney general personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates

The new disclosure from Attorney General Pam Bondi’s spokesman to The Associated Press on Monday provides additional details around the unusual circumstances of Trump’s $25,000 donation to Bondi. After the money came in, Bondi’s office nixed suing Trump.

The money came from a Trump family foundation in apparent violation of rules surrounding political activities by charities. A political group backing Bondi’s re-election, called And Justice for All, reported receiving the check Sept. 17, 2013 — four days after Bondi publicly announced she was considering joining a New York state probe of Trump University’s activities.

Isn’t it refreshing how they don’t even try to hide the graft anymore?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Grooming Him For The Job

Via the Tampa Bay Times:

Gov. Rick Scott 05-08-11Gov. Rick Scott will meet Monday in New York with Donald Trump, as the GOP nominee turns to the general election and crucial Florida.

“Governor Scott looks forward to meeting with Mr. Trump to discuss his campaigns in Florida and how he thinks Mr. Trump will have a big win in the state in November,” the governor’s political consultant, Melissa Stone, said in a statement first obtained by the Washington Post.

Scott endorsed Trump the day after the Florida primary but had already made his support clear.

Appearing earlier today on Fox News, Scott said he and Trump spoke late last week.

“My goal is I could have hopefully a positive impact on how he wins Florida,” Scott said. “He can win this state, he should win this state. I won both times, but you’ve got to work at it, you’ve got to go out there and make sure you get the votes, tell your story. It’s still about jobs. That’s why I think Donald Trump could have a big win because he’s a business person that knows how to create jobs.”

The buzz is that Gov. Scott is on the list as a possible VP candidate for the Trump ticket.  I actually think he’s going to share his hair care tips.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Civil Discourse

This Florida senate candidate seems like a nice guy.

Carlos Beruff, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Florida, repeatedly referred to President Barack Obama as an “animal” at a county GOP meeting on Thursday.

Addressing party faithful at a St. John’s County GOP gathering, Beruff accused Obama of destroying America and its military.

“Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president, because he’s an animal, OK — seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretary of defenses,” he said. “And they’ve all written books about it.”

I’d never heard of him before this little sound bite, and with any luck his fifteen minutes are up.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Short Takes

The president of Brazil awaits impeachment vote.

Colorado Springs shooting suspect declared incompetent to stand trial.

Two earthquakes hit off coast of Taiwan.

Debris pieces “almost certainly” from missing plane MH370.

No love lost between Harry Reid and Alan Grayson.

Former Tiger Max Scherzer ties MLB record with 20 strikeouts against his old team.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Thin Skinned

After Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) got a lesson in speaking truth to power last week, he told the press that the reason he didn’t engage with the person was because “you can’t talk to people like that.”

No, what you do is release your PAC on them.

All it does is prove that Rick Scott is a thin-skinned whiny asshole who’s idea of political discourse is to punch down.

So why isn’t he running for president?  Maybe it’s because we already have enough candidates who do that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rick Scott Hates Women

Well, yes, I know that’s a dramatic headline, but what other conclusion can you come to when you read this?

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed a law on Friday that cut state funding to clinics that perform abortions.

State funding of abortion was already prohibited in Florida, but the law signed by the Republican governor also cut off funding for preventive services at clinics that also provide abortions.

The law appeared to be aimed at Planned Parenthood, which said on Friday that it could mean the end of birth control, cancer screenings, tests for diseases and other services for thousands of low-income women in Florida.

The organization said in a statement that it serves more than 67,000 patients in the state each year, and that many of them rely on public funding to pay for their health care.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the new law seemed “designed to rip health care away from those most at risk.”

Mr. Scott signed the law along with 67 other bills addressing a variety of topics, including medical marijuana and the composition of a highway commission in Miami-Dade County.

But he did not specifically comment on the abortion law, which has been controversial. In a news release, his office tersely said it “revises regulations for licensed abortion clinics.” The law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or for the clinic to have a transfer agreement there.

To be completely fair, Planned Parenthood does not limit its services exclusively to women.  It provides health services to men as well, and yes, men do need to avail themselves of breast cancer screening.  So to say that by signing a bill that takes away funding from Planned Parenthood is part of Mr. Scott’s hatred of women is unfair.  He apparently hates all poor people, regardless of gender.

The rule on admitting privileges is on the books in several other states, mostly notably Texas, where it is already under review by the Supreme Court.  The article does not say whether or not the Florida Legislature has allocated funds to pay the legal cost of the inevitable lawsuits that will arise out of this new law, but I’m sure that Gov. Scott will find some way to pay for it; probably by cutting more money from public education.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tourist Trap

Here’s a novel way to address terrorism:

“Not only do I believe that President Obama should immediately return to America, I am inviting him today to come to Florida and address the concerns of American tourists considering travel to Europe,” Scott said in a statement released Thursday.

[…]

In his statement, Scott explained that “as the tourism capital of America,” Florida would be “the perfect place” to give an address alleviating the fears of Americans who plan to travel to Europe.

And pick up a dozen grapefruit in a lovely gift package while he’s here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Elegy For Rubiomentum

Jeb Lund has an obituary for the Marco Rubio campaign.

…What the Rubio campaign needed everyone to forget was that — to anyone who doesn’t live off political news, to anyone not inured to the blocked toilet that is Florida politics — Marco Rubio sounded like either a moron or a crook.

All that might have been enough to overlook if there had been any ideas behind Rubiomentum. But Rubio was a Reagan Republican in the same way that all other Republicans are Reagan Republicans: 95 percent of what he believes hasn’t been updated since 1981. As to the remaining five percent, any time something new came out of his mouth, half the journalists covering him wanted to run around to the side of the stage to catch a glimpse of the puppeteer from the Heritage Foundation with an arm shoulder-deep up his ass.

Even the rare new ideas were insanely atavistic. Only Rubio could write an atrocious book with the word “innovate” on practically every page and decide to solve the college debt crisis with ideas fresh from the Renaissance. Why not, he argued, pair students of promise with an investor class who would pay for their academic apprenticeships in exchange for a fixed period of work after graduation? Sounds great! Rubio was into EDM: Maybe you could become the court DJ for the Archbishop of Salzburg or Emperor Joseph. Just don’t play too many beats. There are only so many beats the royal ear can hear.

The biggest joke of the Rubio campaign was its slogan, “A New American Century,” which is a hilarious reboot concept 15 years into a century. But the slogan also echoed the Project for the New American Century, the Bill Kristol think tank whose gameplan for the Middle East led us into Iraq and the flowering peace and political pluralism we see across the region today. Rubio didn’t disappoint. Between his book and his saber-rattling on the trail, America was poised to drop bombs on — or start firing from warships at — the South China Sea, Ukraine, Iran, Syria and whatever country he thinks ISIS is.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama was trying to destroy America with $17 trillion in debt. Rubio promised a tax plan that would add $8.2 trillion to it, because if $17 trillion is a mortal threat, then $25.2 trillion is a fucking clambake. Abortion? Forget it, go to hell, ladies, not even in cases of rape. Obamacare? Repeal and replace. Devolve everything to the states. Fix poverty by having people get married.

[…]

Over the course of his career, Rubio was slapped with the well-deserved label of someone not especially interested in his current job except as a vehicle for applying for the next one in between meeting rich people. He almost immediately ditched the West Miami Commission for the Florida House, then displayed a chronic absenteeism while there. This is not necessarily a liability in the party that rejects almost all government functionality as tyranny, and it was no obstacle to entering the U.S. Senate, where his work allergy metastasized into outright contempt for the concept. By October, 2015, one of Rubio’s core arguments for his candidacy was give me the most important job in the world because I don’t feel like doing my current one.

[…]

Rubio spent the last two weeks of his campaign apologizing for betraying his principles and the dignity of his office by mocking Donald Trump’s hair and dick. He claimed that he could no longer abide the unfair, classless street fight that Trump had reduced the discourse to, and merely got carried away. But it was bullshit. He was trying to shore up falling numbers. He’d never have apologized if it had worked.

His announcement that his campaign was over could not have been more fitting for what his campaign represented: A passionate delivery of an old idea everyone had already memorized, delivered instead as news. A few people listening had red eyes, as some internal mechanism in Rubio yanked down a lever to the Emotionally Uplifting Twaddle setting.

“I ask the American people: Do not give in to the fear. Do not give in to the frustration,” he said. “We can disagree about public policy, we can disagree about it vibrantly, passionately. But we are a hopeful people, and we have every right to be hopeful.”

It was a valediction of bullshit, as inexorable and damned as the rising Florida tide.

But don’t worry, folks; he’ll be back with another act when he gets tired of doing whatever he finds interesting and self-promoting at the moment.

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