Remember when Marco Rubio helped his drug-dealer brother-in-law get a real estate license?

Neither did I…


Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations have long been dogged by vague unsubstantiated allegations that he is a “risky bet” with skeletons in his closet that could prove damaging in a high-profile election. This week, Scott Higham and Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post became the first reporters to put some meat on these bones with a story alleging that as Majority Whip of the Florida House of Representatives Rubio “used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier.”

…One question, after all, is whether Rubio should have used his official position to help get his brother-in-law the legal right to sell real estate in Florida. Another question is whether a person with a cocaine conviction who wants to sell real estate in Florida should need to call in a favor from his brother-in-the-law the powerful politician in order to be able to do so legally…

…Two years after Cicilia’s release from prison he and Rubio’s sister were added to the deed of Rubio’s childhood home, where the couple now lives with the senator’s mother, Oriales Rubio. Cicilia served as the real estate broker commissioned with finding office space for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, and Rubio’s PACs and campaigns have paid more than $130,000 to Cicilia’s sons Daniel and Orlando in consulting fees…

When recommending Cicilia to the board, Rubio neglected to mention that the applicant in question is married to his sister, a decision Rubio spokesperson Todd Harris defended to the Post on the curious grounds that Rubio “believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative.”

And on and on. The sort of family ties tales all too common in politics – not just in America. Anywhere corruption involving public office-holders is “traditional” — this happens. Some countries try to deal with it, more or less successfully. Still, I don’t know if I’d vote for someone who believes this to be appropriate.

Koch Bros biggest charity? The most backwards politicians in the country!

A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.

The massive financial goal was revealed to donors here Monday during an annual winter meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the $407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign…

The group — which is supported by hundreds of wealthy donors on the right, along with the Kochs — is still debating whether it will spend some of that money in the GOP primaries…GOP Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — along with Sen. Ted Cruz — discussed what they see as the economy’s weak spots at a forum Sunday night at the Freedom Partners conference.

Golly. Did they pretend to care about the weaknesses they refused to aid: crumbling infrastructure, mediocre education, low wages?

The three-day conference was held at a luxury resort perched on a rocky hillside near Palm Springs, Calif., with stunning views of the palm-tree-speckled desert floor below. The event drew 450 attendees, a record number, as well as the largest number of first-time contributors to the network…

Sens. Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, Thom Tillis, David Perdue and Cory Gardner were on hand to thank donors…

…Much of the weekend was spent looking ahead to 2016…

The network’s influence was underlined by the number of prospective 2016 contenders who flocked to Rancho Mirage to mingle with the deep-pocketed crowd. Scott Walker arrived Saturday from Iowa, after addressing conservative activists at a forum in Des Moines. That night, over an al fresco dinner of filet mignon, the Wisconsin governor thanked the Freedom Partners donors for their past support and touted his efforts to curb state spending.

Right. What conservative in his right mind would spend money on schoolteachers?

Started by Charles Koch in 2003 and originally hosted by Koch Industries, the twice-a-year donor seminars are now sponsored by Freedom Partners.

The network has evolved into a sophisticated political operation that mirrors those of the official parties. Along with its main political advocacy arm, Americans for Prosperity, the network finances groups such as Concerned Veterans for America, the Libre Initiative and Generation Opportunity. Last year, it added a super PAC to its arsenal, but most of the allied groups are nonprofits that do not disclose their donors.

Freedom, Republican-style. Stage-managed transparency, reporters banned from forums, about the only accurate reflection of American history were the organizational names crafted in the Madison Avenue tradition of hypocrisy and political correctness. After all, we were the first country to change the name of our War Department to the Department of Defense. While our government established over 750 military bases around the globe.

Why Republican anti-science and superstition will never replace science in the real world

Earlier this week, GQ magazine published an interview with Senator Marco Rubio, whom many consider a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in which Mr. Rubio was asked how old the earth is. After declaring “I’m not a scientist, man,” the senator went into desperate evasive action, ending with the declaration that “it’s one of the great mysteries.”

It’s funny stuff, and conservatives would like us to forget about it as soon as possible. Hey, they say, he was just pandering to likely voters in the 2016 Republican primaries — a claim that for some reason is supposed to comfort us.

But we shouldn’t let go that easily. Reading Mr. Rubio’s interview is like driving through a deeply eroded canyon; all at once, you can clearly see what lies below the superficial landscape. Like striated rock beds that speak of deep time, his inability to acknowledge scientific evidence speaks of the anti-rational mind-set that has taken over his political party.

By the way, that question didn’t come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics — although he graciously added that “I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Gee, thanks…

What accounts for this pattern of denial? Earlier this year, the science writer Chris Mooney published “The Republican Brain,” which was not, as you might think, a partisan screed. It was, instead, a survey of the now-extensive research linking political views to personality types. As Mr. Mooney showed, modern American conservatism is highly correlated with authoritarian inclinations — and authoritarians are strongly inclined to reject any evidence contradicting their prior beliefs. Today’s Republicans cocoon themselves in an alternate reality defined by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and only on rare occasions — like on election night — encounter any hint that what they believe might not be true.

And, no, it’s not symmetric. Liberals, being human, often give in to wishful thinking — but not in the same systematic, all-encompassing way.

Coming back to the age of the earth: Does it matter? No, says Mr. Rubio, pronouncing it “a dispute amongst theologians” — what about the geologists? — that has “has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” But he couldn’t be more wrong.

We are, after all, living in an era when science plays a crucial economic role. How are we going to search effectively for natural resources if schools trying to teach modern geology must give equal time to claims that the world is only 6.000 years old? How are we going to stay competitive in biotechnology if biology classes avoid any material that might offend creationists?

So, if hard, predictive, verifiable evidence produces a set of conclusions contradictory to Republican ideology – obviously the evidence is false, the methods of measuring data and results are incorrect.

The sun must rise in the West the next time Republicans control both Congress and the White House – and we will continue along the same unchanging path that guided the Roman Empire into the back pages of history books. Interesting to read about; but, failed nonetheless.

Republicans heading for a bloodbath in Florida

The Republican fratricide in the Nov. 3 special election in upstate New York may prove just an opening round of an even more spectacular bloodbath in Florida in 2010.

In New York, Republican feuding lost the party a seat in the House of Representatives. At stake in Florida is not only a senatorship — but very possibly Republican hopes for 2012 as well.

The battle in Florida pits Gov. Charlie Crist against former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio. Both men claim to be conservative, pro-life, tax cutters. On the issues, they would seem to agree far more than they disagree.

But on one issue they have disagreed passionately: President Obama’s fiscal stimulus. Squeezed by his state’s desperate fiscal condition, Crist endorsed and campaigned for the Obama stimulus. Inspired by his conservative ideology, Rubio opposed stimulus.

Now Rubio is the darling of conservatives nationwide. Just this week it was announced that he would give the keynote address at next year’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. He has been profiled on the cover of National Review, endorsed by the Club for Growth, and feted by radio talk show hosts.

Crist — who as recently as 2008 topped the libertarian Cato Institute’s list of favorite governors — has been consigned to pariah status…

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