Saturday, May 27, 2017

EYE ON MIAMI: Saturday Editorial Page. By Geniusofdespair




Since we started counting (a few years into our blog) We have had 7,021,814 pageviews. HELP US NOW! Follow us by Email (look over on the right of this page) and put your friends email in too. They will have to approve it (they will get an email asking if they want to subscribe).  You owe it to us: We don't charge you for all the nonsense we write so give us some more readers, at least you can do that. Blogger Geniusofdespair said:

"We couldn't have done it without the Treasure Coast, our most loyal readers."

PEACOCKS vs. ROOSTERS vs. LEAF BLOWERS
The Miami Herald, in an article about South Miami, asks: "What is noisier than leaf blowers?" How about the Peacocks in the North Grove? Woof, I walked through the area to see what all the Peacock fuss was about and they can be really annoying. No you couldn't give me an apartment for free there. Peacock crowing is worse than a rooster because I was there at about 3pm. I suppose they do it all day? This is what it sounds like, there was one on someone's roof doing this.




THE VULNERABLE CARLOS CURBELO CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

The Democrats want this seat in Congress very badly. They just don't have anyone to run. There are a lot of Dems in the district. Last time they ran a re-tread, Joe Garcia. He looks the other way when I am around because he is too busy talking to IMPORTANT people. He is the only Democrat I don't know that I can think of. Didn't Curbelo vote for this insane healthcare bill with all the pre-existing conditions problems (You pay through the roof if you have one, and everyone has one). Ever had a prescription for Xanax? Let's see, who can we run. First where the hell is his district?


Whoever drew this district should be shot.

Well, this is a very stupid district. You have the Elephant's burial ground area with no people (West Coast), mixed with zanier areas of Miami-Dade (like Hudstead and West Kendall), and the free-wheeling Keys. Curbelo has two National Parks in his district and almost all our environmentally sensitive land and a lot of the coast but he only sponsored 8% of Environmental Protection Bills, and 8% of Public Lands and Natural Resources bills? Well, He also has FPL's NUKE plant so you know they will throw wads of money at him.


Who can we run? Besides Joe Garcia. How about that Orchid guy in the Redland? Okay, how about Homestead Councilman Stephen Shelley? Is he even a Democrat? He goes to the Everglades Coalition Meetings, no one else does from Homestead.
He is good looking, that is always a bonus. Does he speak Spanish? That would be a bonus too. Looks like that area South of Sweetwater is very Hispanic. Or, you would have to have someone move into this district, not a pleasant idea unless they want to move to the Keys. I guess I would do that if I ran here.


Okay, folks I am busy getting old at this keyboard so I am going to go. Read the damn blog post and comment!


Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and their still-born: Transactional Nationalism

The tweet storm, below, arrived with news of the passing of President Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Although obits highlight his role in the Iran hostage drama, Brzezinski's enduring achievement was as the most forceful, erudite advocate for evidence-based multilateralism to counter Soviet expansionism. As a college student, I studied his work. I wish that Steve Bannon and Donald Trump had done the same.

The point is very much to the topic of #TrumpRussia. Read the Welch Tweet storm then return to EOM.



I agree with much of the POV described in Welch's tweet. Donald Trump's "America First" -- really, Steve Bannon's gut-level view of the world -- overlaps with Putin's nationalism: every nation should be allowed to dive within its own corners and determine their own course. But the playing field is only level if one adds the secret sauce: commercial and financial transactions.

Trump is a transactional nationalist; that is to say, he ardently believes that business deals create better and more durable bonds between nations than political ideology (or the rule of law which no one believes anyway: Trump).

This logic ends at a strange place where oligarchs create a new world order based on multilateralism. It means wealth concentration that would make right-wing critics and conspiracy theorists of the "Trilateral Commission" cringe because they will have ended up putting in place exactly the politicians who could make that happen.

Transactional nationalism also explains the easy bond between Trump and the Saudis whose kingdom and royals, incorporating vast wealth, pretty much describes how the United States would evolve as a transactional nationalistic economy. Just look at the Trump cabinet.

Kushner went to the Russians before the inauguration bto suggest a secure line of communication, using Russian facilities, out of hubris, naiveté, and a deep misunderstanding of history. We now can clearly see -- thanks to leaks -- the outlines of what deeply worried the intelligence community. Not just in the United States, but among allies whose world view and national security depend on multilateralism.

That said, Russia's relative silence on Trump's harsh criticism of Iran -- a strong ally of Russia in its alignment against the Mideast order -- gives credence to the idea that Trump/Bannon/Kushner really do intend to "reset" the button with Russia, based on transactional nationalism.

The idea is further supported by the known, long-standing commercial relationships between Trump, Kushner, and Russians; if only by the mortgage deeds to Russian buyers of hundreds of millions of dollars in Trump-branded South Florida real estate.

The Trumps have admitted that a lot of money changed hands. Critics have pushed back by saying this is more than enough reason to require the release of Donald Trump's tax returns and business documents detailing the degree and extent of his involvement with Russians close to Putin and possibly indebtedness to Russian banks.

One last note: it also now becomes clear why Bannon/Trump have such a difficult time walking back their opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate change, which the U.S. military considers an existential threat to our national security, can only be addressed and mitigated through vigorous and effective multilateralism.

The only way that Trump's transactional nationalism can frame climate change is as survival of the fittest. It is a weird, dystopian future that radiates from Washington, DC, these days and all the more reason for Americans to wake up to the real threat at our doorstep: an unhinged Republican party that continues to protect a president who may be the most incompetent and chaotic in history, in part, because his administration simply cannot attract depth of talent and professional advice beyond Steve Bannon a few of his acolytes supervising squadrons of industry lobbyists in the West Wing. Sad!

Sergio Bendixen ... by gimleteye

Very sad to learn of the passing of Sergio Bendixen who took the time to educate me about Miami demographics and politics a long, long time ago. He was an obsessive fan of football (soccer, as Americans call the game) which further endeared him to me. I imagine that even after passing, Sergio will be sitting above a cafe in a European or South American capitol, waiting for the game to begin.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Chasing Squirrels: How He Used Facebook To Win, and, Why The FBI Wants To Talk With Jared Kushner ... by gimleteye

The New York Review of Books, of all places, has just come out with a fine piece of investigative journalism, "How He Used Facebook To Win". Sue Halpern, the reporter, does the deep dig we've been encouraging. There are still missing pieces of the puzzle, but one thet is answered here:

“We’ve modeled this,” the unnamed (Trump) senior campaign official told Green and Issenberg. “It will dramatically affect her (Clinton) ability to turn these people out.” And it did. Democratic turnout in battleground states was weak, which was crucial to Trump’s victory. Tallying it up three days after the election, David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, noted:

In Detroit, Mrs. Clinton received roughly 70,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did in 2012; she lost Michigan by just 12,000 votes. In Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, she received roughly 40,000 votes fewer than Mr. Obama did, and she lost the state by just 27,000. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, turnout in majority African-American precincts was down 11 percent from four years ago.

Trump’s digital team was also aided by the candidate’s unbridled use of Twitter, by WikiLeaks, by fake news generators like Breitbart, and by an army of so-called “Twitter bots,” automated Twitter accounts—many of which are thought to have emanated from Russia and at least one thousand of which the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer claimed to have created. Together, all this sent a river of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages coursing into cyberspace, giving the Trump campaign a continually self-reinforcing narrative. And then there was the candidate himself and his blustery, contradictory pronouncements, often pandering to voters’ racially tinged resentments. This might have been the undoing of another candidate, but for the Trump team it turned out to be an asset.

“Trump didn’t have a lot of ‘Here is my agenda, here is my narrative, I have to persuade people to it,’” Catalist’s Laura Quinn told me.

The Trump world was more like, “Let’s say a lot of different things, they don’t even necessarily need to be coherent, and observe, through the wonderful new platforms that allow you to observe how people respond and observe what works, and whatever squirrel everyone chases, that’s going to become our narrative, our agenda, our message.” I’m being very simplistic, but that was the very different approach that truly was creative, different, imaginative, revolutionary—whatever you want to say.

How does this issue -- Trump's connection to Russia and the use of sophisticated social media manipulation -- connect with Jared Kushner. We know Trump doesn't even use a computer (cell phone and Twitter feed, yes). The data operation was in Jared Kushner's portfolio. It is likely Trump knew about it only in the most general way. The fact that so much of Russia's disinformation campaign centered on the same themes as Trump's campaign raises the prospect of collusion, but how does one prove that when the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is among the top Trump campaign officials who are known to have met with high level Russians.

Both Sessions and Kushner omitted contacts with Russians on their security clearance forms.

No president in U.S. history has ever had such long standing financial connections with nationals of a hostile foreign power as Trump with Russia. As former CIA Director John Brennan testified to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week: this was a circumstance that caused the intelligence community great concern during the campaign.

American citizens deserve the whole truth. President Trump calls it a "fake" story, but if this sad presidency has demonstrated anything, it is that Trump has elevated smoke and mirrors to an entirely new level and one that profoundly damages democracy.

John Dubois, Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor in the Hot Seat. By Geniusofdespair

THESE DEPO'S OF PALMETTO BAY VICE MAYOR JOHN DUBOIS ARE VERY GOOD READS!
PARANOID? HIRING PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS? 

Everything you wanted to know about this guy but were afraid to ask. A lot of intrigue.

Mini Depo of John Dubois (8 4 16) by geniusofdespair on Scribd


ALSO SEE PART 2 OF THIS DEPOSITION - this is the link


_____________________________

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Body Slammed Reporter. By Geniusofdespair

No more bullies in office please. Republican Greg Gianforte  running for congress in Montana body slams reporter. Woof. Rich guys think they own the world.


Facebook Data: The Missing Link in Trump Russia Impeachable Offense... by gimleteye

Facebook has a serious problem, and it goes beyond the corporation's efforts to monitor terms of use violations. (That story was featured on Nightly News recently.) Facebook has become a platform for illegal political activity and an undeclared conduit for very large political contributions. No one knows the geographical extent but Facebook, but it certainly includes the United States from a review of hundreds -- if not thousands -- of Facebook pages that can be roughly described as linked to Trump Friends.

Trump Friends Facebook page is a port-hole into an Alice In Wonderland world of interconnected pages that mix hate, Christianity, anti-Islamic, homophobic and race baiting, with support for Donald Trump. This is a different world and different problem that what Facebook acknowledges.

Whoever is making these Facebook pages doesn't even attempt to mask that they are created by fake identities and based on software templates: in short, the templates include a fill-in space for a jpeg or short video clip, ask a "yes" or "no" question on a theme designed to make the reader fearful or anxious and to provoke a "comment". Many, if not most, of the comments on Trump Facebook pages appear to be created by either bots (ie. artificial intelligence) or for-hire sock puppets (ie. freelancers who haunt the comment section of many blogs and Facebook pages).

One could try to make the case that these pages are free speech and not electioneering, the better case against Facebook is made by what happens next: manipulators of Facebook data merge political messages with Facebook commenters or user profiles otherwise stolen/ hacked from Facebook. How this happens, and by whom, is the question. It is the missing piece of the Trump Russia investigation and can either be provided by intelligence agencies or by Facebook or both.

The following, from Media Matters, is an accurate summary of where we are today:
An Oxford professor and researcher are calling on Facebook to cooperate with scientists and share its data on fake news and fake accounts in part because of its relevancy to the Trump/Russia investigation.

During the 2016 presidential election, a tidal wave of fake news and misinformation was pushed on social media via artificial computer programs called "bots." The FBI is currently investigating how Russian bots used social media platforms during the elections to spread pro-Trump articles from Russian outlets and outlets affiliated with the “alt-right.” Today, bots continue to push misinformation to influence public perception of the Trump administration, mixing fervor, Christianity, with certainty that Trump is being unfairly persecuted by critics.

Due to concerns surrounding (fake Facebook accounts) and fake news, multiple experts have previously called on Facebook to share its data, as its efforts to combat fake news have thus far failed.

Oxford professor Philip Howard and Oxford researcher Robert Gorwa noted in a March 20 Washington Post op-ed that Facebook’s refusal to share data on fake news and fake accounts “has made it difficult to know how many voters are affected or where this election interference comes from.” They wrote that Facebook “has the metadata to identify precisely which accounts were created, where they operated and what kinds of things those users were up to during the U.S. election.” That could also mean that Facebook could help determine if “there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian influence operations” and could “prevent interference with democratic deliberation” going forward. From the op-ed:

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg know. The UK Guardian has already linked the principals, Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer, and Steve Bannon, to electoral data manipulation and there is clear evidence that Russia was amplifying the exact same messaging that the Trump campaign and candidate himself brought to rallies in 2016. The missing links are in the data trails from Facebook.

Today, a Facebook user who tracks Trump-friendly pages would be hard pressed to reach a conclusion that Trump-related entities are literally trying to set Facebook on fire, the same way an arsonist might set a fire to cover up crime that occurred there. It is as though Facebook abuse is increasing exponentially by users' design to create a hall of mirrors that makes analyses of meta-data impossible.

Except. Except that Facebook archival data is absolutely available for 2016 in order to analyze and to track when and how voter rolls were merged with user profiles. It happened and it wasn't free speech. It was a major election law violation that could rise to treason if collusion between Trump, its campaign officials, and Russia is established.

That's why there are so many lawyers busy in DC. This is the direction that grand juries and the FBI should be looking, but it will need Facebook' cooperation, and I hope that Facebook does voluntarily extend that cooperation now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

DON'T STEAL OUR PUBLIC LAND TRUMP CRAZY PEOPLE. By Geniusofdespair


Today, I am writing to alert you all to an urgent public lands issue related to national monuments designations and to ask for your help. (My name is Jordan Schreiber and I've recently joined the Federal Affairs team at the Trust for Public Land as the National Advocacy and Outreach Manager.)
President Trump recently signed an Executive Order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct a review of 27 national monuments. There is now a public comment period available. The Bears Ears NM in Utah is under expedited review – Secretary Zinke is to deliver a recommendation to the President by June 10. The other 26 monuments (listed at the end of this article) are under review through August 24.

BACKGROUND: This review of 27 national monuments has generated significant concern among many individuals and organizations due to the precedent it sets for undoing Presidential designation authority and because of its potential sweeping impact on public lands protections. The Trust for Public Land has long supported Presidential designations of national monuments under the authority of the Antiquities Act and we’ve opposed attempts to restrict that authority. As an FYI, The Trust for Public Land has been involved in land protection and due diligence work at several recently-designated or expanded national monuments, include California Coastal, Stonewall, Pullman Porter, Col. Young/Buffalo Soldiers, Rio Grande del Norte and the San Gabriels (of the monuments where we’ve worked, only the latter two are on the list of 27). You can read more about our support for the Antiquities Act in this op-ed from January. This sweeping review of already-designated monuments is unprecedented in its scope and is obviously geared to two monuments in particular in Utah: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. Additionally, the new national monument in Maine – Katahdin Woods and Waters – is the only monument proposed for review under the premise of lack of public input; the other 26 monuments listed are all over 100,000 acres, which is the other criteria selected by the Trump Administration.

Bears Ears National Monument Utah
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: On Thursday, May 11, the Department of the Interior formally opened a public comment period on the monument review, divided into two time frames: The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah has a 15-day comment period, ending on May 26, while the other 26 monuments are afforded a longer review period, with the comment period ending on July 10. The Trust for Public Land will be submitting formal comments as a national organization before the May 26 deadline, and we are using this email to alert you to the opportunity to weigh in on the issue as well. We thought it might help if we gave you the tools to follow through, so attached is a template for comments, and below are the steps required for submitting them.

Here’s how to submit a comment:

Follow this link to the Public Comment page -  this is the link right here

Click on the blue 'Comment Now!' button in the top right hand corner
Use the box provided to submit your comment
Select the 'I want to provide my contact information' box and type in your email
Click 'Continue'
Review your comment and click 'Submit'
After submitting, be sure to request an emailed receipt of your comment

We are encouraging as many people as possible to submit comments before the May 26 deadline, so that the response to the expedited review of Bears Ears will be substantial, but if you can’t do that please consider submitting comments before July 10 if possible.



Here is an example of what you can write:

WIOD radio cancels the only progressive voice in South Florida radio: Fernand Amandi ... by gimleteye

WIOD, part of the right-wing iHeart Radio Network, just cancelled the only progressive voice on the South Florida radio spectrum; Fernand Amandi. Yes WIOD that tolerates Rush Limbaugh ("How do you tell misinformed people they are wrong?") and features Sean Hannity -- the same Hannity that is doing his best to be fired by the Murdoch Fox empire -- and Glenn Beck.

One suspects that the "cost cutting measures" aren't the real reason Fernand's show was cancelled. More likely, the same morons who sell ad space for Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck weren't making the case for advertisers to support Amandi. It takes too much intelligence for ad salesmen and women, apparently, to bridge the gap: explaining that a robust, diverse schedule deserves EQUAL support by advertisers.

Amandi expressed, and embraced, a progressive point of view: that the GOP Congress has been too silent, timid, and fearful of exploring the facts and truth around the most incompetent, chaotic president in U.S. history: Donald Trump. So basically, Amandi was the anti-Limbaugh, and he was fearless: talking about the sacred cows in South Florida.

Thank you, Fernand!

I don't know about you, but I'm turning off WIOD for the time being. You, too, can write to WIOD here to express support for Fernand Amandi, or, send an email to WIOD here.

General Manager/ NewsRadio WIOD
7601 Riviera Blvd
Miramar, FL 33023

Twitter: @iHeartMedia

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Part One: The Agony of Florida, Its Rivers, Bays, Estuaries, And Politics ... by gimleteye

Winter 2016: toxic scum coated many Southeast Florida river ways and beaches as a result of mismanagement by the South Florida Water Management District
Fixing Florida’s destroyed estuaries and Everglades and Florida Bay depends on voters and taxpayers re-engaging with public officials. Case in point: how and why a vast new wetland system — at least 60,000 acres — was removed from legislation, now law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Before the start of the Florida legislature, Senate President Joe Negron pledged that acquiring 60,000 acres of land from Big Sugar owners was a top priority. The addition of significant additional acreage for water storage and cleansing marshes -- using lands south of Lake Okeechobee now in sugarcane production -- had been a science-based goal of Everglades restoration since at least 2000. And not just the Everglades.

By the end of the session, a bill emerged without the additional 60,000 acres. (For fifteen years, environmentalists had been urging the acquisition of 100,000 acres from Big Sugar.)  Big Sugar encompass about 700,000 acres around the southern rim of Florida’s largest freshwater resource.

The entire plumbing system of South Florida requires water managers to ease the pressure on lake levels under conditions of severe flooding and rainfall by shunting billions of excess gallons from the middle of the state to both the east and west coasts of the peninsula. This happens primarily through the Caloosahatchee to the west coast and the St. Lucie to the east.

To protect downstream communities and the Everglades from extreme flooding, the water has to go somewhere. The hydrological problem is not necessarily where it goes, but how much and how polluted it is. The political problem is that the determinative constituency that directs water management in Florida is not the coastal taxpayer or businesses that depend on clean, fresh water. It is Big Sugar and the beneficiaries of the most heavily subsidized agricultural commodities in the United States.

For many years, Big Sugar objected to land purchases on the basis that no funding was available. In fact, Big Sugar opposed every effort to put agricultural lands into public ownership, but when lands were purchased, the negotiated terms were always extraordinarily favorable to sellers including long-term lease back provisions that acted like dead weights on the original purpose of the transaction: to restore and protect the environment and its real, quantifiable contributions to a thriving economy.

With the passage of a constitutional amendment by nearly 75% of Florida voters in 2014, the core of Big Sugar's objection -- money for land acquisition -- no longer holds. Floridians -- Republicans and Democrats and Independents --  voted to allocate a portion of the tax collected from all real estate transactions to the acquisition of environmentally sensitive lands. The money is there: more than $10 billion over the next two decades. What is short supply is political will.

Florida's rainfall see-saws from one extreme to the other. Water management in South Florida, on the other hand, remains constant to the purpose of maintaining perfect irrigation and drainage for the Everglades Agricultural Area. Big Sugar's controls water management through massive political contributions and a network that reaches deeply into both the Republican and Democratic state parties and elected officials. This rigged system is economic madness and horribly short sighted unless you are one of those sugar farmers, like the Fanjuls, or a distant shareholder living on dividend checks, as is the case with the descents of Charles Stuart Mott and the US Sugar Corporation.

Beyond the political money, the next ring of the problem is hydrology. When it rains too much — with climate change, there is a rising risk that extraordinary rainfall will become routine rather than exception — polluted water from Lake Okeechobee must be drained to lessen the risk of a catastrophic breach of the lake's berm and risk to sugar farms. When it is too dry, Everglades National Park becomes hyper saline, triggering massive seagrass die off at the bottom of the ecosystem in Florida Bay, choking with algae blooms that continue for years. The Caloosahatchee River, emptying to Florida's west coast, also suffers under the both extremes; it fills with toxic discharges when it's wet, and like the Everglades, it needs clean fresh water when it is too dry.



At the end of the recently concluded session of the Florida legislature, the Tampa Bay Times reported: "Months of negotiation and compromise over whether to build a deep-water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee ended in victory Tuesday for Senate President Joe Negron as the Florida House agreed to the Senate plan and sent the measure to Gov. Rick Scott for his approval. The proposal, SB 10, will cost the state and federal government $1.5 billion and will accelerate the state's 20-year goal of storing water from the lake by using land the state owns, known as the A-2 parcel, as well as land swaps and purchases. The House passed the measure 99-19, after it reduced the amount the state could bond for the project to $800 million, and the measure was then passed by the Senate 33-0.”

The Everglades Trust, an influential environmental group, praised the new law and its key supporter: "One development made all the difference: an outstanding lawyer, a state senator representing what had been “ground zero” for the algae, was elected by his peers to the presidency of the Florida State Senate. Armed with overwhelming evidence and science and backed by tens of thousands of supporters, Senate President Joe Negron made the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir his top legislative priority. Even at great personal sacrifice — he resigned his lucrative law partnership to wage this fight — Negron showed extraordinary integrity in leadership.” ("Against long odds, Florida residents won water battle,” May 18, 2017, TC Palm)

What happened to the 60,000 acre reservoir and why did it disappear? The simple answer: Big Sugar stage craft.

Negron had forged close links with Big Sugar early in his political life. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in Big Sugar contributions flowed in and out and between political committees that Negron and the top lobbyists and business leaders in Florida directed. It costs an enormous amount of money to wage a credible political campaign in Florida. State senate races in populous sections of the state can cost each candidate millions of dollars. Negron secured loyalty with the implicit backing of Florida's big donors, especially Big Sugar.

Negron, with Big Sugar's support, had already been designated the incoming senate president for 2017 when historic, heavy rainfall began to fall across his southeast Florida district in late 2015.

Something else what happening in late 2015 the didn't escape the attention of top Republicans like Negron: the GOP presidential primary was edging toward chaos.

When it started pouring during South Florida's dry season, causing water managers to open the flood gates of hell onto waterways, GOP voters were furious. The memory of an earlier pollution disaster, the 2013 floods and toxic algae blooms, had not faded. Dead fish and wildlife, water too dangerous to touch: pollution does not select for political affiliation.

As Negron’s GOP districts were rumbling with discontent, the primary campaign bids of Big Sugar’s proxies, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, were falling to pieces. Both had proven their worth to Big Sugar in the early 2000’s, spearheading passage of a state law that broke a federal state Everglades consent agreement arising over Big Sugar’s pollution in the early 1990's.


On February 20, 2016, after a series of lackluster finishes and draining $150 million in donor contributions, Jeb Bush dropped out of the GOP primary. Less than a month later, Marco Rubio was beaten badly by Donald Trump in his home state, garnering only 27% of the vote. Angry Republican voters punished Rubio in the March presidential primary and the toxic water spewing out of Lake Okeechobee was partly to blame. A devastating flood of pollution on both Florida coasts added to the fury of rank and file voters against the status quo although one would be hard pressed to find a GOP leader to make that admission.

Rubio is Big Sugar’s strongest ally in Congress, a result of long-standing friendships with supporters like the billionaire Fanjuls. It was the Fanjuls who rescued Rubio from obscurity after he retired from the Florida legislature when Big Sugar needed — in 2010— a opponent to run against then Gov. Charlie Crist. The Fanjuls were furious that Crist had negotiated an option to purchase 187,000 acres owned by its cartel competitor, US Sugar Corporation. Ever since, Rubio had been an outspoken leader against any further addition by government of lands in sugarcane production. In the primary, he defended Big Sugar’s federal subsidy as a matter of “national security”.

During the early months of 2016, the “Now or Neverglades Movement”, initiated by the upstart Bullsugar.org, put pressure on Senator Negron in his home district. The movement called for the rapid addition of at least 60,000 acres of lands in sugarcane production, for the purpose of rainwater storage and treatment.

Negron, an inside player, was unhappy. A year before the rains began to fall, Everglades scientists — more than 200 — issued an urgent call for acquisition of lands controlled by Big Sugar to fix the endemic sickness of the Everglades and the mounting, rising costs to estuaries, bays and rivers being used as a toilet pipe to flush excess water, due to rainfall, out of Lake Okeechobee. Public opposition had manifested through serial protests at the South Florida Water Management District where counter-demonstrations, in favor of Big Sugar, were organized through Roger J. Stone, a Trump insider.

Now or Neverglades Declaration: “Today, Lake Okeechobee is treated as an impounding reservoir constantly at risk of overflow. To manage lake levels, too much untreated fresh water is discharged into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Consequently, the lack of fresh water flow through the Everglades makes Florida Bay, the largest contiguous seagrass meadow in the world and crown jewel of Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, too salty. The resulting salinity imbalances in all three estuaries cause seagrass die-offs, dangerous algal blooms, multi-year ecosystem collapse and economic hardship. Florida’s $9.7 billion fishing industry (129,000 jobs), $10.4 billion boating industry (83,000 jobs) and $89.1 billion tourism industry (1.1 million jobs) need healthy estuaries."

Athough the science had been established long ago, the urgency — highlighted by regular television news and social media outbursts including the “Now Or Neverglades Movement"— was compounded by politics.



Donald Trump won Florida with a razor thin margin of 1 percent. With only 112,912 additional votes, Hillary Clinton would have taken Florida. She would have been only 9 votes short of the magic 270 in the electoral college. The point is not what might have happened -- in fact, the ties between Clinton and Big Sugar are well documented -- , but that when Negron announced he had begun a process, privately conducted and outside of public view — that involved discussion with Big Sugar interests about land acquisition in the Everglades Agricultural Area, he defused the issue as a stumbling block for Republican candidates in November.

In August 2016, Negron announced his plan to make acquistion of 60,000 acres of land from Big Sugar, using Amendment 1 dollars a top priority. Big Sugar howled like a stuck pig. Florida Crystal’s information organ, Sunshine State News, called it "politicial theater” and a “waste of time”. What happened next: Big Sugar mobilized its GOP base. But Big Sugar had put in place a public relations campaign in South Florida many months earlier, nearly as soon as the rains began to fall and Bullsugar.org emerged on Facebook with tens of thousands of followers.

From August through the November, Big Sugar doubled down, taking out full-page ads in daily newspapers from Stuart to Palm Beach. It waged jobs! jobs! jobs! arguments from North Florida to Martin County to rural enclaves south of Lake Okeechobee where poor African American and Hispanic farmworkers -- mostly Democratic voters -- were once again trotted out to lament economic harms that could come to their employers. Septic tanks were to blame or water quality from north of Lake Okeechobee: Big Sugar's fingers pointed everywhere except itself. The South Florida Water Management District, a taxing agency that funds the state portion of Everglades restoration, began sending out public announcements called “Get the Facts” that read like political flyers from Big Sugar itself.

The campaign in the summer of 2016 involved rattling as many cages as Big Sugar could identify; Big Sugar organized opposition from North Florida legislators and business leaders who like to complain that Democratic south Florida gets all the budget dollars, it linked for African American legislators "Black Lives Matter" to "Glades Lives Matter, it hired scientists to counter the Everglades Foundation hydrologists, it brought its attacks to a nasty, personal level, it recruited minor public officials and representatives of minority communities who claim concern for poor rural jobs and businesses that depend on sugarcane or else.

So there is no additional storage and treatment marshes in the new Everglades law. Lands already in public ownership were offered by the state legislature back to the public with funding for a deep lake under a new name, a new purpose, and under extraordinarily favorable terms to Big Sugar.

Announcing land acquisition would be one of his top priorities, Senator Negron clearly understood he might as well have waved a personal invitation to Big Sugar: I’m putting a target on my back, come get me. But his long standing ties to Big Sugar meant at a bare minimum, Negron knew Big Sugar would rally its GOP base and that, moreover, he would not have the last word on any legislative proposal once the dust from the November election cleared and state legislators went to work in Tallahassee.  (Part Two, tomorrow)

Trump Tower's Garden Revisited. By Geniusofdespair

The Garden in Trump Tower shows The President's total disregard for greenspace. The Garden is now closed and "under construction". I visited it Sunday, May 21st and here is what I saw beyond the CLOSED sign. Remember I also visited it July 20 2015. Not much has changed in 2 years. You would think something would have in this Trump Tower Public Space.

Most of the retail is gone. They walled off the retail halls with mirrors so it appears to be a wall. The only thing left is a Starbucks and and an Ivanka Trump jewelry store, and this -- the sad little garden. When you go to the Garden Level - 3 escalators up - There is nothing!

May 2017 
Still plenty of dirt decorating the garden.


July 2015:

Note the tree is gone from this part of the garden in 2017.

This was the big difference at Trump Tower.
I heard there was a big Tweeter Intervention over at the White House. Too bad. The Tweets are boring now.