Assisted living facilities say state's former ombudsman is threatening their right to free speech, U.S. Rep. Allen West says progressives are communists and Gov. Rick Scott's Facebook page pisses off the Miami Herald.
Published: April 19, 2012
And now it's time for This Week in Crazy™!
We begin this week's installment in sunny South Florida, where Allen West – Florida's first black Republican congressman since Reconstruction – channeled Joseph McCarthyand announced to the world last week that he's “heard” that “there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party.” At least, that's the part the Palm Beach Post reported – which was true, though incomplete.
Actually, West was responding to a question from some goober at a town hall about how many members of Congress were “card-carrying members” of the Communist Party, and after matter-of-factly uttering his soon-to-be-virally-infamous remarks, he paused for about 30 seconds of nervous audience pearl clutching, then added, “No, they actually don't hide it. It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
Because – get it? – progressives are communists. Hilarious! Equal rights for women, wanting billionaires to actually pay a reasonable amount of taxes, not bombing brown people into the Stone Age – it's the second coming of Stalin, thank you very much, President B. Hussein Marxbama.
You can guess the rest of the story: The media worked itself up into a tizzy, which is exactly what West, a cockalorum fameball if there ever was one, wanted. Perhaps this was just his way of getting back in the far right's graces after his heretical suggestion last month that maybe Trayvon Martin didn't have it coming. Perhaps he's a skilled outrage generator who gets off on liberals denouncing him. Or perhaps he's just nuts. Either way … ugh.
Speaking of skid marks on the state's tighty-whities, last Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott's Facebook team – he has almost 80,000 likes– posted an image of an issue of the Miami Herald proudly headlined, “New Law Helps Put Floridians Back to Work.” The Scott Facebook team instructed its followers to “check out the editorial in yesterday's Miami Herald.” And what do you know, someone did.
Turns out, Team Scott was making shit up. Surprise!
To be fair, there was an op-ed in the previous day's Herald under that banner, written by the president of Workforce Florida, praising the governor for signing a bill that will tighten accountability for the state's 24 regional workforce boards.
The problem, as Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch explains, is that “it certainly wasn't a news story,” which Scott's Facebook post implied. “A piece like that would never run on the front page of the Miami Herald.” Nor was it written by a Herald reporter or editorial writer.
The image was a badly Photoshopped Herald front page from 2007. The Herald's managing editor called it a fraud and demanded that Scott's people take it down. They complied. It's not unusual for politicians to use faux-newspaper headlines to trumpet their faux-accomplishments, but usually these appear under the banner of the Daily Bugle or The News or some other generic, fictitious non-paper. Implying that a real newspaper endorsed – a front-page endorsement, no less – a non-existent jobs billputs a whole new twist on that meme.
The state party blamed Harris Media, the Austin, Texas-based third party it contracts with to run Scott's Facebook page. But while we're on the subject, maybe we should check in on the state's jobs progress.
Florida has the 45th highest unemployment ratein the union. And last year, the governor, who pledged during the campaign to create 700,000 new jobs over normal job growth over seven years, walked that back to 700,000 jobs, period. Even if we're grading on that curve, he's still behind.
Someone please tell us who the 38 percent of Floridians who approve of Scott's performance are. We'd like to have a word with them.