Monday, September 21, 2009

Dem Blogger videos Republican Senate hopeful

In this piece your blogging videographer, or your videoing blogger, takes a step into Republican territory. Marco Rubio is the subject. He’s the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who’s vying with Gov. Charlie Crist to be the Republican candidate for US Senate in the 2010 election. Rubio is raking in about a tenth of Crist’s money, according to the Sept. 20 workup in the Miami Herald that described how Crist spends most of his time (on our dime, fellow taxpayers, but that’s politics, ain’t it) dialing for dollars or squeezing official events between his appearances at fundraisers.

Rubio’s counterpart of that latter activity – the fundraiser – is how I found myself in the same room with him for an hour Saturday evening, at my sailing club in Key Largo. One of the founding members is a leading local Republican, Ken Sorensen, who hosted a fundraiser for 50-60 people. I’ve had many a fine political argument at the sailing club bar with Sorensen, who is a former state representative and, then when termed-out, an assistant to Speaker Marco Rubio. Our last argument was about ACORN, and so it goes.

Speaking of ACORN, I was on the Herald website the other day and hit the editorial asserting that ACORN “must prove it’s squeaky clean” and be purged from top to bottom. In the Comments section I veered decidedly away from everyone who thought ACORN was below Lucifer. My comment suggested applying the same standard to the Republican Party, which even if confined to Jack Abramoff and his co-conspirators must have more people in jail than ACORN. Not to forget John “Torture Memo” Yoo, who’s got a column on the Herald op-ed page when he ought to be facing trial for war crimes. Yes, let’s do a top-to-bottom cleanup on the Republicans, and then turn to the small potatoes at ACORN.

Rubio, you’ll see in the following clip, took notice of my Flip camcorder and gave me a supporting role as citizen journalist sort of like the heroic “college students” who tipped us all off to the purportedly bad apples in an ACORN office. Well, Media Matters checked out some of that story and learned that the “college students” were Republican activists. Plus, the ACORN lady who sounded like Lizzy Borden with a propensity for killing her husband was just leading on the strange couple invading her office. The police say all her ex-husbands are alive and well. Anyway, that’s the poor backgrounding and unethical investigators you get from a far-right world where the gospel comes from Fox and Beck and no questions are asked.

You’ll hear Rubio, like everyone on his side, crow over how CBS and other media didn’t get this (over-hyped) story. Like George W. Bush, he’s probably mad that the US attorneys couldn’t find valid charges against ACORN, either. Well, there is this thing about ethics of prosecutions and of reporting, wherein you don’t start off by lying about who you are, like the “college students.” There is a place for hidden cameras and underground investigations, no doubt, but if Rubio’s taste prevails, “citizen journalism” will be the Wild Wild West.

As Rubio asks us to “listen closely,” I think I heard him saying that ACORN was “a front for political activists.” What’s that, some new offense? Maybe the “college kids” are “a front for political activists,” and we’ve got tit for tat here. Big deal. Readers are referred to the section above where I urge attention to war crimes first, small potatoes later.

The Atlantic, in its fresh October issue, has a rundown on rise of internet reporting with a close examination of how partisan politics is taking over from traditional media, and standards often suffer:

With journalists being laid off in droves, savvy political operatives have stepped eagerly into the breach. What’s most troubling is not that TV-news producers mistake their work for journalism, which is bad enough, but that young people drawn to journalism increasingly see no distinction between disinterested reporting and hit-jobbery.

In the next clip Rubio takes on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, against whom he’s not running, and Gov. Crist, his main opponent, and says he doesn’t know what they stand for. I thought I’d find something on Bill Nelson’s campaign website or official website to contradict Rubio, but something must be under construction. Well, Nelson doesn’t have to run until 2012, so he has an excuse. And there is plenty of information, though no platform in sight.

Next he’s talking about health care legislation (my question, he didn’t mention it in his stump speech, nor environment/energy/education except in the most sketchy way), and he makes a pretty wild statement about health care in the rest of the world, making it sound as if no country ever has had a good public health system. It may be that he’s defining it so narrowly (he’s a lawyer, after all) that it would have to be a single-payer system that didn’t have the tiniest smidgeon of rationing of care to meet his standard. Well, great, but we’re here in the real world where tons of countries get better results with lower expenditures than ours. And our care is rationed all the time by insurance companies that get rich by denying care.

In the following clip I can agree with his drift on malpractice, especially where he says there’s an overabundance of lawyers.

Finally, is it a waste of time to consider Rubio when Crist is raising money by the ton? If the primary were in a month or two it would be easy to dismiss the young (38) Rubio as someone polishing his resume to run against Bill Nelson two years later. But the primary is almost a year away, and Crist keeps getting skunked in Republican straw polls. What’s going on? A lot could happen.

Check out this story on Fine Print in which Rubio is itching to get into a debate with Crist. Could be interesting.

Meanwhile, our side's main contenders are Kendrick Meek, the congressman from Miami, and North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns.

For the record, the seat was held by one-termer Mel Martinez, who left for no good reason. Gov. Crist could have appointed himself to take the seat but instead named his sometime campaign manager George LeMieux, who's trying to live down the label of crony. So far has the US Senate fallen, when the Constitution, in the 17th Amendment, clearly prefers election rather than appointment to fill a vacancy. Now who's the strict constructionist? Your faithful blogger.


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