Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Donna Shalala on Lennar's Board? By Geniusofdespair

The Blue Wave in U.S. Congressional District 27

In a press release, Congressional hopeful, David Richardson said it was "Effectively a two-person race." I guess he must mean that Matt Haggman dropped out and Kristen Rosen Gonzalez. Really? Did they? In this poll Haggman and Richardson are running neck and neck. I guess things have changed since January.

Anyway Richardson's release makes the Lennar, a Florida based development company, connection with Donna Shalala. The only problem is, Lennar gave U of M gobs of money during her tenure on the Lennar board (She was also U of M President). It is hard to fault her with that Lennar connection if she was to do right by the University she headed. But, did that have anything to do with the Pine-Rockland property sale... that is, she was a developer flunky for a while and learned some evil ways.
“I owe it to the voters to hold Donna Shalala accountable for what she is: a double-dealing corporate Democrat." - David Ricardson

Eileen Higgins: County Commission District 5 ! ... by gimleteye

Defying conventional wisdom, first time candidate and Democrat, Eileen Higgins, defeated better known Republican rivals in a non-partisan primary race for the county district including Miami Beach and a swath of Little Havana including surrounding neighborhoods. This is a huge win for Higgins, who political operatives tried to squeeze out with a field of Republican rivals and instead topped them all. The vote between Higgins and runner-up Barreiro -- wife of the incumbent who surrendered his seat --  is scheduled for June 19.

The Miami Herald reports: "Newcomer Eileen Higgins rode a wave of support from the Democratic Party to take first place in Tuesday's election to replace Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and will face the former commissioner's wife, Republican Zoraida Barreiro, in a runoff election next month for the non-partisan seat. Both candidates eliminated former state senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who finished third. With all precincts reporting shortly before 9 p.m.. Higgins held nearly 35 percent of the vote, followed by Barreiro at 33 percent, with 222 votes separating them. Diaz de la Portilla was in third with 27 percent, followed by former television actor Carlos Garin with less than 5 percent." Read more here:

This is a huge result for Democrats and a bellweather for voters fed up with treasonous behavior in the White House and the protection of Trump provided by Republican leaders in Congress. Nation before party. Although county commission races are "non-partisan", the sour national mood around Trump and grifters inside and outside the White House means all bets are off.

Contribute to Eileen Higgins campaign, by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

HBO "The Final Year" ... by gimleteye

The emotion I felt, at the conclusion of the excellent HBO documentary "The Final Year", is in one word: "devastation".

I voted for Obama twice, but I found plenty to criticize in his two terms.

Still, "The Final Year" conveys his essential nature -- competence and caution -- qualities of character that stand in stark contrast to the wild and careening presidency of Donald Trump.

The HBO documentary that premiered last night is told mainly through two principal figures in the Obama administration: chief speechwriter and advisor, Ben Rhodes, and Samantha Powers, ambassador to the United Nations. Both convey the care and thoughtfulness absent from the current White House is ways that are shocking and unprecedented.

But these are one viewer's observations, not of the documentary or its makers.

Rather, "The Final Year" wrestles with the challenge of being an optimist and advocate for inclusiveness in an era lurching toward dark uncertainties, fear-mongering and creeping nationalism.

Samantha Powers puts the global emergencies -- of Syria, of crippled and impoverished African nations -- in the context of 65 million refugees around the world: the biggest crisis since the Second World War. Ben Rhodes emphasizes what he hopes will be the Obama legacy, like health care and the Paris Climate Accord.

To the very end, neither believed that in November 2016 the American voter would put targets on the back of these achievements.

What is devastating is to know, today, that the American voter didn't. Trump lost the popular vote by more than 3 million. He won the electoral college by the improbably thin margin of 80,000 in three states. We also know, today, that the influence of hostile, foreign actors like Russia on social media tipped the scales.

Of all the disparate pieces that add up to devastation, the one that most profoundly affected me is how the documentary conveyed Obama's massive achievement: he gave hope through an outreached hand to the dispossessed, the poor and the bereft.

There may be 65 million refugees on the march around the globe today, but the true number of oppressed is many times greater. Throughout our history, the United States represented hope and compassion. Today we see how fragile that capital is, how easily it is squandered, and how difficult it is to replace -- if it can be done at all -- by our allies.

Trump doesn't feature in the documentary until his appearance at the end, like a thunderclap. Obama, Rhodes, Powers: they are gone. Where we live, it is still thundering. That's what I felt, mostly, as the credits rolled on "The Final Year".

District 5 County Commission: Eileen Higgins ... by gimleteye

For many years, Miami Beach and the western edges of District 5 was under-served by Bruno Barreiro, whose place was cemented by campaign contributors from the development supply chain for his reliable affirmative votes on suburban sprawl.

Today's election is the rare instance (noted by Doug Hanks in the Miami Herald) of a county commissioner surrendering his/her seat and leaving a vacancy.

If you live in District 5, please vote Eileen Higgins. Read this interesting analysis of the district and candidates at MCI Maps.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Angry with the world and....Read on, it might be you too! By Geniusofdespair

From the New Yorker Magazine

I will never be the same. NEVER

My life with therapy taught me two lessons: don’t minimize and don’t deny: in other words be truthful with yourself. As a child I had become adept at lying to me to cope. Can’t do it anymore.

The way my country is going and the blinders on many of the people in the country is having a devastating effect on me. The truth hurts.

For example, one tiny example: the Everglades-Trust pushing hard in support of Trump’s pick for Governor — it is just too disgusting, too vile. If DeSantis gets in he will do everything Trump wants. I think Putnam will be equally as bad but at least he won't be in bed with the loony bin.

Am I destined to leave this world to your GRANDCHILDREN, with polluted water, reduced animal species, a toxic Supreme Court, crushing debt and xenophobia run wild? Will my generation be the Nazis of the 21st Century?

Nice to wake up and find this rushing to mind. They say “stay in the present” as a means to heal... and I laugh.

How did the Everglades Trust get pulled into this? Read on...

Stop Shopping At Publix ... the corporation has given nearly three quarters of a million dollars to GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam in the past three years ... by gimleteye

Read this excellent OPED in the Palm Beach Post. We are unaccustomed to newspaper editorial boards pushing back against political orthodoxies like the right of corporations to be more powerful than people. In this case, Florida's iconic grocery chain: Publix for its unlimited campaign contributions to the GOP designated front-runner to be next governor of Florida, Adam Putnam.

At Eye On Miami, we've written extensively about Putnam, mostly for his role rubber-stamping whatever Big Sugar wants. Putnam is telegenic and a cool performer. His family was also enriched by the South Florida Water Management District, in the most brazen act of government "philanthropy" to an aspiring politician that we've ever experienced in Florida.

We've also written about Publix. Ten years ago, Natacha Seijas, a Miami-Dade county commissioner at the time and the leader of the county's unreformable, pro-growth majority, was facing an acrimonious recall campaign mounted by citizens who were infuriated by Seijas' support for moving the Urban Development Boundary. The recall campaign collected signatures at places where signatures could be easily gathered compared to door-to-door canvassing ie. Publix parking lots. There had been no prohibition against signature collecting at Publix or anywhere else, until Seijas bitterly complained to the corporate headquarters. (Signature petitions are also required to register amendments to the Florida constitution by ballot referendum. At the time, Publix was heavily investing to oppose a ballot referendum -- Florida Hometown Democracy -- that would have, if passed, inhibited the kinds of sprawl that seed new locations for large state-wide retailers like Publix supermarkets.) The net result: a new state law allowing private corporations to stop petition gathering on their properties.

Our times are "polarizing" as the Post editorial board notes. We need more penetrating analysis of the underlying factors in order for an informed public to make good decisions. For the time being, at least, that means -- we add -- stop shopping at Publix.

Editorial: Publix polarizes with political contributions to Putnam
OPINION By The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board

Publix, the heirs to the company’s founder and its current and former leaders have come under fire for giving Republican gubernatorial candidate and consrevative darling Adam Putnam $670,000 in the last three years.

Publix, the supermarket giant that ranks high among things that residents love most about Florida, is learning the perils of political participation in our polarizing age.

Last week, it was reported that the beloved grocery chain has given more money to Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign than to any candidate since 1995, and probably in its entire history.

Publix, the heirs to the company’s founder and its current and former leaders have given the Republican $670,000 in the past three years. Or, as the Tampa Bay Times put it, “enough money to buy 74,527 chicken tender subs.”

“No other Florida candidate has ever come close to that kind of subsidy from Florida’s largest Fortune 500 company,” the Times said. “Its most recent contribution, a $100,000 donation on April 30, was the largest, too, according to the latest campaign finance filings.”

Publix immediately ran into a deli-slicer of criticism. That’s largely because Putnam, a 43-year-old former congressman who is now the state’s agriculture commissioner, famously responded to criticism of his fondness for the National Rifle Association by calling himself “a proud NRA sellout” — a not-so-funny wisecrack given the mass shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The backlash against Publix was fierce. It included tweets like this, from state Rep. Carlos G. Smith, D-Winter Park: “How many flowers did I buy from your stores for funerals, graves, + memorials for Pulse + MSD victims? #BoycottPublix”

Publix, shifting quickly to damage-control mode, tweeted that it “has not provided financial support to the National Rifle Association.” And it swiftly released a statement meant to distance itself from all controversy: “We support bipartisan, business-friendly candidates, regardless of party affiliation and we remain neutral on issues outside of our core business.”

The trouble with this explanation is that, while certainly business-friendly, Putnam has not shown himself to be “bipartisan.” He’s not a candidate for centrists. He makes overt appeals to social and religious conservatives and the Trumpian anti-immigrant right.

While in Congress, Putnam voted to roll back requirements for the Voting Rights Act. He pressed for stricter voter IDs beyond driver licenses in a thinly disguised effort to suppress minority votes.

As a candidate for governor, he is pushing a “Florida Families First” agenda that includes promises to “fight for the life of the unborn and make Florida first in protecting life,” create an “Office of Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiatives within the Executive Office of the Governor” and establish a “Home School and School Choice Ombudsman.”

Putnam’s NRA rating is A+. He has endorsed the open carrying of firearms, and the carrying of guns on college campuses. He criticized Florida’s recently passed law that raised the firearm-purchase age to 21 from 18 and requires mandatory three-day waiting period for firearm purchases.

Sorry, Publix, these are not bipartisan positions.

Publix and Putnam go way back. Putnam was just 22, running for state representative, when Publix made its first donation, for $500, to the local up-and-comer: Publix’s base in Lakeland is 20 minutes from Putnam’s hometown of Bartow.

The generosity seems to go both ways. As agriculture commissioner, Putnam oversees regulation of Publix’s 800 Florida stores. When a TV station reported in 2016 that seven Tampa-area Publix stores failed health inspections, “Putnam responded the next day by pulling the inspections from the department’s website and eliminating the pass/fail grading system,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote. “He replaced it six months later with a new rubric. Instead of a failing grade, the worst rating issued now is ‘re-inspection required.’ ”

Publix can support whomever it wants. That’s its right as a corporate citizen. With 2010’s Citizens United, after all, the U.S. Supreme Court has given the green light to corporations and unions to spend whatever they like in independent political expenditures.

But in a nation as divided as ours, Publix can’t expect to bankroll a candidate without alienating some portion of its public. Call it a sign of the times, but our system is producing few, if any, “bipartisan” politicians. And now, not even a trip to the grocery store “Where Shopping Is a Pleasure” is immune from the tensions pulling the country apart.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

SNL grabs Donald Trump by the Pussy ... by gimleteye

SNL writers are quick, but even they couldn't react fast enough to catch Trump's capitulation to North Korea demands that the US stop its planned joint training exercise with South Korea.

In the show's season finale they did pin the tail on another donkey: Sarah Palin on Twitter. Palin is paid big bucks to put her stamp of spite, bigotry, and outright nastiness in defense of Trump. Tina Fey reprised her Palin caricature last night and voila.

In real life Palin cried tears when, recently, Senator John McCain expressed his regret for elevating Palin to the national stage. All she's done, since, is use her "celebrity" to poison the well of civic discourse. As SNL suggests, Palin has plenty of company:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Big Sugar Money Is Turning Toxic To Florida Politics ... by gimleteye

Because of Big Sugar's chokehold on Florida politicians, what happened in 2016 -- massive toxic algae outbreaks -- will happen again. Know whose bank account is filling the campaigns of the candidates you vote for.

If you are a candidate seeking election and refusing money from Big Sugar, Eye On Miami wants to hear from you NOW.

We will feature any candidate who rejects Big Sugar's money; Democrat or Republican or Independent.

Here is our bottom line: sugar is not a food and sugar farmers are not farmers because no other crop in the United States is guaranteed protection before a seed is even planted.

Big Sugar does not put "food" on American tables. Big Sugar is a protection racket for two billionaire families and key employee/shareholders, mainly; the 200 plus family descendants of Charles Stuart Mott, founder of US Sugar, and the Fanjul family's Florida Crystals' fortune.

The same way a few gun manufacturers stand in the shadows of the NRA, these few Big Sugar families pull the strings in Florida politics. It is time for voters to make them stop.

Democratic candidate for governor Chris King just took on Big Sugar in his first television campaign ad. Watch it here:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Betraying my Husband, Fukushima's Nukes and All That Jazz. By Geniusofdespair

I always look in on Fukushima's nuclear disaster of 2011, when there was a meltdown of 3 of their reactors. It was a cascade of events that caused the meltdown; Tsumani caused by an Earthquake. The Japanese are trying to deal with a million tons of radioactive water. The fuel is somewhere in the reactor building but, after 7 years of searching, no one is sure where it is. So everyday the groundwater percolates up from the foundation -- 150 tons of water, and it becomes contaminated by what is left in the reactors:

To keep that water from leaking into the ground or the Pacific, Tepco, the giant utility that owns the plant, pumps it out and runs it through a massive filtering system housed in a building the size of a small aircraft hangar. Inside are arrays of seven-foot tall stainless steel tubes, filled with sand grain-like particles that perform a process called ion exchange. The particles grab on to ions of cesium, strontium, and other dangerous isotopes in the water, making room for them by spitting out sodium. The highly toxic sludge created as a byproduct is stored elsewhere on the site in thousands of sealed canisters.

The filtering system cannot capture strontium:

So for now, the tritiated water is pumped into a steadily growing collection of tanks. There are already hundreds of them, and Tepco has to start building a new one every four days.

I wouldn't eat the flounder on the West Coast. Also stay away from Hanford in Washingon State...the most toxic nuclear place in the nation.

And on to our next subject "The Betrayal."

You guys aren't reading this so that is all you get on this one...the nuke part.

REFORM SUGAR SUBSIDIES NOW! Wall Street Journal Agrees With Eye On Miami! ... by gimleteye

A Chance for Sugar Welfare Reform
A bipartisan coalition could reduce the worst farm subsidy.
A Chance for Sugar Welfare Reform
By The Editorial Board
May 15, 2018 7:03 p.m. ET

Cognitive dissonance is common in Washington, but some cases truly are exceptional. One is the ritual of the farm bill, when Republicans who campaign on “free markets” whoop through corporate welfare for agriculture interests. But maybe there’s a stroke of sense coming on sugar subsidies.

Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina is making a run at reforming the U.S. sugar program with an amendment to the farm bill that may hit the House floor as soon as this week. This program is arguably the worst farm subsidy, which is saying something, featuring a menagerie of sweetened loans, restrictions on sales and import quotas for some of America’s richest people.

The point is to keep prices artificially high and enrich large sugar producers, who aren’t paupers but nonetheless demand this help to maintain their station. Many producers live in Florida, which is why Senator Marco Rubio periodically embarrasses himself by supporting sugar welfare.

All of this is a tax on consumers. In 2015 raw sugar in the U.S. ran 24.7 cents a pound, an 84% premium over the global price. Consumers lose anywhere from $2.4 to $4 billion annually, according to an analysis from the American Enterprise Institute.

Perhaps the worst result of the program is how the effects ripple across the supply chain and kill jobs. The program drives manufacturing jobs overseas—hello there, President Trump —where sugar inputs are cheaper.

Take Ford Gum & Machine Company, the last major manufacturer of gum balls in the United States. The president of the firm has said he could double his workforce, based in Akron, N.Y., if he could pay fair market prices for sugar.

Ms. Foxx’s proposal wouldn’t eliminate the program but would curb some of its worst features, such as repealing “marketing allotments,” which are restrictions on sales. Another is ending a program that allows the Agriculture Department to buy surplus sugar and sell it to ethanol companies at a loss.

The agriculture lobby is treating the mere mention of reform as a surprise land invasion, and the politics are splitting Republicans. But this should be an easy yes for progressives who harp about corporate welfare in theory but too often vote for it in practice, and the amendment could win with a cross-party coalition.

Republicans are struggling to get the votes for their bill, in part because they have added a modest work requirement for food stamps, which eat up about 80% of farm bill dollars. This is a worthy policy change, but Republicans would have more credibility on reforming welfare for people if they did the same for politically powerful agribusiness.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board Cheers For Sugar Policy Reform (Just Like Eye On Miami!) ... by gimleteye

The Tampa Bay Times says it just like we do, maybe a little more diplomatically: Big Sugar poisons people, poisons Democracy, and poisons the Everglades. Call your Congressional representative TODAY: Support Sugar Policy Reform!

Editorial: U.S. House should end sweet deal for Big Sugar


With a new farm bill coming up in Congress, now is the time to reset the board on sugar policy to allow market forces to set sugar prices and bring relief to Floridians who are paying dearly for this sweet deal.

Longstanding U.S. sugar policy pummels consumers and taxpayers in three ways: We subsidize growers, pay higher food prices and then pay even more for environmental damage sugar production causes in South Florida. The only winners are Big Sugar and the politicians who rake in its campaign cash. With a new farm bill coming up in Congress, now is the time to reset the board on sugar policy to allow market forces to set sugar prices and bring relief to Floridians who are paying dearly for this sweet deal.

An amendment to the new farm bill, the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, would reform price supports that keep domestic sugar prices artificially high. Studies show that American-grown sugar costs up to twice as much as other countries’ sugar. The outdated policy also limits the amount of sugar that can be imported, slaps a tariff on imports that exceed certain quotas and requires the Agriculture Department to buy back excess sugar to prevent prices from plummeting. It’s a formula that guarantees perpetual profits for U.S. growers by pick-pocketing U.S. consumers.

Floridians are robbed even more. The two main growers in Florida, U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, are responsible for millions of gallons of phosphorous used on their farms annually running downstream and causing enormous harm to the Everglades. Guess who pays to clean it up. And don’t forget the green algae that befouled beaches on both Florida coasts during the summer of 2016. That polluted water came from Lake Okeechobee and should have filtered south as nature intended — through sugarland. Instead, it was diverted to the east and west, creating a neon green nightmare for tourism-reliant businesses.

Sugar growers and their defenders point to the jobs that would be lost if prices crashed. Some estimates say sugar production is responsible for 30,000 jobs in Florida, many of them concentrated in the high-poverty area around the Everglades. But like other protectionist actions, for every job saved, one more (at least) is lost. Candy makers and others have been moving operations overseas to escape high domestic prices and taxes on imports.

One factor explains the staying power of such malevolent policies. Between 1994 and 2016, the sugar industry spent $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns. So far this election cycle, no other U.S. senator has taken more money from Big Sugar than Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is in a heated battle for re-election. His challenger, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, has reaped millions in contributions from sugar interests over the years. Not surprisingly, Nelson has done little to break the industry’s grip on the domestic market, and Scott surely wouldn’t do any better.

The only House member from Florida who has committed support for the Sugar Policy Modernization Act is Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican who represents an area from Fort Pierce to Palm Beach. The farm bill and the sugar modernization proposal is scheduled to be taken up this week in the House. It’s long past time for Florida’s elected representatives to stand up to the industry and do what’s best for the state’s job market, environment and consumers.

There’s no valid argument for continuing to prop up the sugar industry in favor of the broader economy, and everyone except the growers and the politicians they enrich seems to understand that. Reforming the federal sugar program is a rare point of unity among such disparate groups as environmentalists, consumer advocates and free-market adherents. That’s because crony capitalism is never in the public interest.