Hillary Clinton Archives - Page 6 of 164 - Florida Politics

Deb Tamargo battles Jonny Torres for future control of Hillsborough County Republican Party

November 8 was a pretty great night for Florida Republicans.

For the first time since 2004, the Sunshine State went red in the presidential race; Marco Rubio easily won re-election in his race for the U.S. Senate. And despite the redistricting of every state Senate seat, the GOP lost no seats in the Legislature’s upper chamber.

One not so bright place for the GOP was in Hillsborough County, where Hillary Clinton won decisively against Donald Trump, putting a dent into the county’s reputation as a reliable bellwether for the presidential race.

Now Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee Chair Deb Tamargo is being challenged in her bid for another two-year term by her second vice chair, Jonny Torres. The two engaged in an hourlong debate Wednesday night at La Teresita Restaurant, sponsored by the Hispanic Republican Club of Hillsborough County.

It began amicably enough, with Tamargo confessing that while the party could have apparently fared better in the election, it’s never been in better shape when it comes to issues like transparency and accountability. Torres agreed with her that party members have a stronger voice than under previous party chairs. But that would be the last time the two agreed on virtually anything the rest of the evening.

“The reason I’m running is there are candidates who were unsuccessful and elected officials who really felt that they were on their own,” Torres said flatly. “They weren’t getting the kind of support financially or with volunteer efforts.”

“I have to disagree with Jonny that we did not provide candidate support because we provided more candidate support than in previous years,” Tamargo replied. And she challenged Torres to name names of unhappy Republican candidates.

Torres responded that he has been endorsed in the race by Hillsborough Republican state House members Ross Spano, Dan Raulerson and Jamie Grant and said there were more“Out of respect to Chairwoman Tamargo, not everyone is willing to step forward,” he said. “What I keep hearing from the campaigns and the consultants time and time again is that they saw little to no members from the REC supporting their efforts.”

Tamargo strongly disagreed, saying that she knew that virtually everyone in the room had worked on the campaigns of at least one of the several Republicans who were on the ballot last month. She boasted of having the ability to fund first-time candidates for the first time, as well as providing slate cards, messaging and campaign “walkers” who went door to door to advocate for Republicans.

There are approximately 39,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Hillsborough County today. Some of that is attributable to the growing Latino population in the county, a demographic that both candidates agreed needs more attention from the Republican Party. But that led to another dispute about how much of that outreach has already occurred.

Tamargo said that the Hillsborough County REC for the first time had purchased airtime on urban radio and Spanish-language radio, and made those spots available for all candidates. “Some made themselves available, some did not,” she added.

Torres, who worked on Hispanic outreach in the Tampa Bay area for the Republican National Committee in 2015, said the most important thing was for the party to simply show up at events designed around the Hispanic community.

Approximately 50 people gathered to watch the debate, with the crowd occasionally making remarks indicating their support for a specific candidate.

During the Q&A session, the two candidates were asked how much time they would have available to chair the committee each week (the position is a voluntary one).

“I dedicated more than 40 hours a week to the mission,” said Tamargo. “I’m a workaholic. I can’t balance very well.”

With a full-top job and a family, Torres said he couldn’t specify exactly how much time he’d have available. He said he looked up to other GOP chairs like Blaise Ingoglia (the chair of the Republican Party of Florida), Joe Gruters or Nick DiCeglie, but then attempted to put the focus back on Tamargo. “No one can take away the hours, but what do we have to show for it? My philosophy is that we work smarter, not harder.”

The two also voter registration numbers, with Torres saying that Tamargo waited too to begin an all-out effort this year. Tamargo said she actively began those efforts a year-and-a-half ago. Torres says he would hire a political director to concentrate on those efforts year round.

Members of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee will decide between Tamargo and Torres on December 20.

Blake Dowling: Amazon Go storefront, the next big disruption in retail, society

When it comes to the home theater experience, we used to rent movies from Blockbuster and Movie Gallery. VHS came and went. Then DVD, which is gone (for the most part).

In regards to transportation, there are still taxi cabs out there, but everyone I know contacts Uber to get a ride.

Have you bought a CD lately? I know plenty of music execs who wish they could turn back the clock when there were huge margins on tapes, LPs and CDs.

And in the world of politics, Hillary Clinton was all set to become President, but here we are.

Granted the last one isn’t so much about technology but, for whatever reason, the experts didn’t see it coming.

Disruption can take on many forms.

We now have a new one, which is about to ruffle some serious feathers and it won’t just affect grocery stores, but retail in general.

Imagine a grocery store experience where you just walk into and grab what you need and leave. It’s opening in 2017. It’s called Amazon Go. It’s real, so to all the experts out there, take note.

Here’s how it works: After entering the store, you scan an app. Select items to put into your cart and the store tracks what you pick up. You already have an Amazon account, so it’s just a matter of sensors tracking you correctly.

The Amazon Go storefront is small; it is not a Wal-Mart type of set up. It has essentials and — for downtown residents of a major city — it seems like a perfect fit.

For example, I was shopping at Publix on Spring Street this past weekend, just before the SEC Game in Atlanta. If you could take the lines and congestion out of that place on a busy day, it would be wicked.

The ways in which this type of disruption would affect retail (and our society) seem to be endless. Where to start on the domino effect? Let’s see there are over 3 million cashiers employed in our country making minimum wage. With that wage about to go up, retail execs are bound to be thinking can’t we automate this? The self-checkout kiosks were just the beginning of a labor issue for the cashiers.

What about criminals? Those who misbehave with tech are drooling over this as well. Credit card numbers and personal info are being zapped around rampantly.

Or what about someone just walking into the Amazon Go store without scanning the app. In that scenario, I could imagine some rambunctious teens stealing beer. In this kind of world, I suppose you must have a significant security presence.

How will other stores catch up? Publix, for instance, doesn’t have your credit card info on file. And, personally, I don’t want them to have it.

In the past four years, I have had two credit cards digitally stolen. The first time it happened, American Express did an excellent job notifying me via the AMX app. Once I declined the purchase through the app, I soon received a phone call with details.

In hindsight, it was kind of funny: “Mr. Dowling, are you in Milan attempting to purchase a fur coat?”

That would be a negative, boss. Thanks for the heads up.

The other incident was more recent; the local bank involved was just as meticulous.

Hopefully, these types of stores will offer anti-skimming devices throughout the location to block the possibility of digital theft.

This is going to be a significant movement, and all eyes will be on both Amazon and this Seattle storefront to see where they succeed and where they fail.

Disruption never stops; who knows what’s next?

Personally, a grocery store with no line sounds like heaven. Clean up on aisle 4, LOL.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies in Tallahassee; he writes columns for several organizations. You can contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Ahead for Michelle Obama? Figuring out what comes next

It’ll be one of the most watched midlife career changes in recent memory. What does Michelle Obama do next?

After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month.

In this photo taken Oct. 18, 2016, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama waits to greet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini on the North Portico for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Just as the first lady’s role is undefined, with each woman molding it to her personality, interests and comfort level, there is no script for what comes after the first lady finishes the job.

The widowed Jacqueline Kennedy remarried and became a New York book editor. Laura Bush continues her advocacy for literacy, women in Afghanistan and preservation issues. Hillary Clinton launched her own political career with her bid for the U.S. Senate, even before her family left the White House.

Here’s a look at what Mrs. Obama is likely to do, or not do, when at 53 years old she becomes a private citizen again on Jan. 20.

LIKELY TO DO:

R & R

President Barack Obama says he’s taking her on a “really nice vacation, because she deserves it. She’s been putting up with me for quite some time.” (Twenty-four years of marriage, to be exact.)

WRITE A MEMOIR

FILE — In this Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, first lady Michelle Obama takes the stage with then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a campaign rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Practically all first ladies do. As the first black woman in the role and as someone who has said little publicly about her private life in the White House, book publishers would offer to pay millions for the rights to Mrs. Obama’s insider account. Clinton got an $8 million advance for her 2003 memoir, “Living History.”

SET UP HER FAMILY’S NEW HOME

Breaking from post-presidential tradition, the Obamas plan to stay in Washington so their 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, can finish high school. Presidents usually leave Washington when they leave office, but the Obamas are renting a home in the wealthy Kalorama neighborhood, near what will be the official residence of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The home is large enough to be a hub of social activity, but it’s far from clear whether Mrs. Obama will become Washington’s new power hostess. Ex-presidents tend to keep a low profile in the first year or so after they leave office.

The Obamas also still own a home in Chicago.

STICK WITH HER INITIATIVES

FILE — In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, a new paver etched with markings “White House Kitchen Garden” is seen at the entrance to the White House Kitchen Garden at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Mrs. Obama has said she’ll stay engaged in public service and will keep working on the issues she focused on during her tenure. They included childhood obesity and education for girls around the world.

“I’ve always felt very alive using my gifts and talents to help other people. I sleep better at night. I’m happier,” she told Vogue for an interview in the fashion magazine’s December issue. “So we’ll look back at the issues that I’ve been working on. The question is: How do I engage in those issues from a new platform? I can’t say right now, because we can’t spend that much time really doing the hard work of vetting offers or ideas or options because we’re still closing things out here.”

COULD DO:

JOIN SPEAKER’S CIRCUIT

Mrs. Obama put her oratory on display with a well-received speech on opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She followed up with a series of campaign speeches criticizing Republican Donald Trump, now the president-elect, as unsuitable for the nation’s highest office. Her friend, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, said the first lady will be “one of the most in-demand speakers” as a result of her convention performance. “That speaking fee just quadrupled,” Winfrey joked during an interview with The Associated Press.

Clinton earned millions of dollars giving paid speeches after she stepped down as secretary of state. Laura Bush also keeps a robust public speaking schedule.

In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2016, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama watch the musical performances at the 2016 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

HOST A TELEVISION TALK SHOW

Mrs. Obama has demonstrated a knack for talk-show banter, and an ease in front of the TV cameras. She co-hosted “The View” before the 2008 election and recently co-hosted Ellen DeGeneres‘ hourlong gabfest. Roy Ashton, head of television at the Gersh Agency in Los Angeles, says Mrs. Obama would be a “no-brainer” to have a show of her own.

“She could pick up where Oprah left off, or something else,” Ashton said. “I think Michelle Obama has a ton to say.”

SERVE ON CORPORATE BOARDS

She has some experience with corporate America, but she’ll want to choose carefully. Mrs. Obama resigned from the board of a food supplier for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 2007, shortly after her husband announced his presidential bid. He had been a critic of the retail giant. Mrs. Obama had cited the increased demands of the campaign for leaving the board of Illinois-based TreeHouse Foods Inc.

“It will be fun to see what she actually does,” said Kimberly Archer, head of the Washington office of Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search and assessment firm. “Wherever she does decide to focus, I would say, ‘Lucky them.'”

LIKELY WON’T DO:

RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

FILE — In this April 5, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia Obama, reads “Green Eggs and Ham”, as they hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Both the president and first lady repeatedly have said she will not run for president — despite pressure from Democrats wowed by her campaign speeches challenging Trump.

Obama has said she doesn’t have “the patience or the inclination” to be a candidate and is “too sensible to want to be in politics.” Mrs. Obama said “No, no. Not going to do it,” when asked earlier this year about following in her husband’s footsteps.

RESUME PRACTICING LAW

Mrs. Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, practiced at a Chicago firm but abandoned a legal career after the deaths of her father and a close friend. She entered public service, working for the city of Chicago and running an AmeriCorps service program before she joined the University of Chicago Medical Center as a vice president for community and external affairs. It was the last paid position she held before become first lady.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

After a quiet spell, Lenny Curry extols Donald Trump on Twitter

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry broke recent protocol on his Twitter account with a couple of enthusiastic Tweets about President-elect Donald Trump.

The Tweets, issued on Friday evening upon the mayor’s return from the city’s annual bond rating trip, speak to an alignment the Jacksonville mayor has had with Trump going back years.

“President elect .@realDonaldTrump using football metaphor- that’s music to my ears,” Curry Tweeted at 8:03 p.m.

“@realDonaldTrump talking tax cuts-   That’s a focus on hard working folks & famiiies. Mentioning the forgotten man and forgotten woman,” Curry Tweeted at 8:15 p.m.

Curry hosted a Jacksonville rally for Trump in August during his push for the pension reform referendum, though he conspicuously avoided serving up “Lock her up” styled red meat, preferring instead to introduce the speakers in a low-key manner.

Many pundits, including this writer, predicted that Curry co-branding with Trump was going to hurt the pension-tax push.

However, it had the opposite effect, according to polling conducted at the time of the referendum.

Curry’s Trumpian co-brand helped him solidify his base.

Curry has extolled the virtues of Twitter Trump for nearly five years, off and on [H/T: Ben Marcus]

On May 27, 2012, Curry thanked Trump for his “commitment to free enterprise and pursuit of happiness.”

On July 25, 2012, Curry described a Fox News segment with Trump, on the Greta Van Susteren show, as “refreshing” and “telling it like it is.”

On Aug. 7, 2012, Curry was watching Trump on Fox News Channel again: “@realDonaldTrump. Says on FOX he would like to see Obama college records. I agree with @RealDonaldTrump.”

And on Oct. 7, 2012, Curry spoke “To the trolls hitting @RealDonaldTrump. Go back in your holes. You are stinking up Twitter. The stench forced me to respond.”

Curry’s support for Trump was much more measured during the campaign, with the mayor rarely offering comment on the candidate more emphatic than affirming that he stood with the Republican nominee.

The high point of his August remarks at the Trump rally lacked the rhetorical flourish of a couple of those 2012 Tweets.

“I came in as an outsider and I promised to turn the status quo upside down,” Curry said in August, before pitching the pension tax to scattered, tepid applause — then saying “Trump will flip the status quo upside down.”

And both men are involved in projects that indeed may “flip the status quo.”

Indeed, Curry told us last week that “reform of the system” was a message he intended to convey on the trip to New York to meet with bond ratings agencies.

With Curry’s team involved in tough negotiations with the city’s unions, with the city looking to impose unprecedented 401k plans on new hires (including public safety officers), the timing of Curry’s re-affirmed affinity for Trump bears watching.

The mayor will need support from fiscal conservatives to counter the robust public information campaigns that will be mounted by police and fire unions, especially as the city council tends to go wobbly under concerted pressure.

Trump, meanwhile, has taken the unusual move of issuing a riposte to a CIA report released Friday that asserted Russian involvement in Wikileaks oppo dumps on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again’,” asserted a Friday night email from the transition team.

Right to the end, Donald Trump campaign spent less than Hillary Clinton’s

Donald Trump‘s campaign spent about $94 million in its final push for the White House, according to new fundraising reports filed Thursday.

The Republican continued his campaign-long trend of spending far less than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Her campaign blew through almost $132 million in its closing weeks, according to reports filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. The latest reports cover Oct. 20 through Nov. 28.

Over the course of the primary and general elections, the Trump campaign raised about $340 million. That included $66 million that the billionaire businessman contributed from his own pocket. The Clinton campaign, which maintained a longer and more concerted fundraising focus, brought in about $581 million.

Brad Parscale, Trump’s digital director who was empowered with spending decisions across the campaign, credited strategic last-minute investments with helping propel the political newcomer to victory.

Specifically, he told The Associated Press, the campaign and Republican Party spent about $5 million in get-out-the-vote digital advertising targeted in the final few days to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. That proved critical; some of those states were won by razor-thin margins.

“You think, what if we hadn’t spent that?” Parscale said. “We might not have won.”

Another investment that he said paid dividends was $7 million to air a two-minute “closing” television commercial. “Our movement is about replacing the failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people,” he said as images from his rallies rolled across the screen.

The final FEC report showed the extent of the Trump advertising splurge. The campaign spent nearly $39 million on last-minute TV ads and another $29 million on digital advertising and consulting work done by Parscale’s firm.

Clinton’s campaign placed a far greater emphasis than Trump on television advertising, a more traditional way of reaching swaths of voters. She spent $72 million on TV ads and about $16 million on internet ads in the final weeks.

The former secretary of state also spent more than $12 million on travel — about double what Trump spent. Clinton, who not only had a money advantage over Trump but a staffing edge, spent more than $4 million on a nearly 900-strong payroll.

Still, Clinton’s top campaign aides have acknowledged in post-election appearances that it didn’t always spend money in the right places.

Her campaign manager Robby Mook said at a gathering of political strategists and journalists last week at Harvard University that he regretted not putting more staff in Michigan. When the state certified its results — 20 days after the election— Trump had won by just under 11,000 votes.

Outside groups that spent money on the presidential election also filed reports Thursday.

Trump got help from the super political action committees Future 45, Make America Number 1 and Rebuilding America Now.

Future 45 and a partner nonprofit that does not disclose donors spent late in the campaign but became Trump’s biggest outside investors. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, together gave $10 million to Future 45 in the final weeks of the campaign, the new reports show.

Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who Trump named this week as head of the Small Business Administration, gave $1 million to the group in October. She’d earlier given $6 million to Rebuilding America Now.

Make America Number 1 benefited from a $1 million donation by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, now an executive on the Trump transition team.

On Clinton’s side, Priorities USA — which raised and spent more than any super PAC in history — landed $16 million in the final weeks of the campaign. That brought its total haul to about $192 million.

Some of the group’s final seven-figure contributions came from its most loyal donors: media mogul Haim Saban and investors James Simons and Donald Sussman.

The 2016 election is over — but the fundraising continues.

The president-elect has raised millions of dollars since Nov. 8. That money is coming in mostly through purchased merchandise such as hats and ornaments and is paying for Trump’s “thank you” tour, which took him to Ohio and Iowa on Thursday.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Andrew Gillum is “real deal” for governor, supporters say

The push to draft Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to run for governor has picked up two more supporters.

Mayor Lauren Poe of Gainesville and Mayor Eric Jones of West Park hopped on the bandwagon Thursday.

Gillum, a 37-year-old Democrat, has been the capital’s mayor since 2014. He first was a city commissioner, the youngest person ever elected to that body.

“As mayors from across the state of Florida, we know the importance of having a governor who understands the needs of our cities,” Poe and Jones, both Democrats, said in a joint statement. “We believe that Mayor Andrew Gillum’s nearly 14 years of local government experience will be a huge asset as the next governor of our state.

“We have admired Andrew’s innovative, inspired and forward-looking leadership,” they said. “He created a jobs program to help young people find quality work, and he has developed unique ways to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses.

“Under his leadership, Tallahassee was named one of the top cities nationwide to receive designation as a TechHire community by President Obama’s White House, allowing residents to train for the jobs of tomorrow’s economy,” the mayors added. “In short, Mayor Andrew Gillum is the real deal.”

The jockeying for the 2018 governor’s race already has begun; current GOP Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited.

On the Democratic side, outgoing Congresswoman Gwen Graham, also of Tallahassee, has announced she is considering running. Other names mentioned include Democratic mayors Bob Buckhorn of Tampa and Philip Levine of Miami Beach.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam so far is the most likely Republican candidate to announce a run for 2018.

Gillum’s star has been rising steadily, especially after disclosures that his name was on a short list to be running mate to then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

He also flirted with running for the newly redrawn, Democrat-heavy 5th Congressional District that stretches from Jacksonville to Gainesville. But Gillum stayed out of the race, and former state lawmaker Al Lawson, another Democrat, won the seat.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.7.16 – The Hillsborough County DEC melts down

“Image is everything” that great philosopher, Andre Agassi, once said in a series of television ads for Canon in the early 1990’s.

Though a bit of an exaggeration, there’s no question that the image of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee has taken a significant body blow following its reorganization meeting on Monday night.

To recap: Party Chair Ione Townsend concluded that the party’s by-laws precluded Democrats elected to nonpartisan positions from voting in the local DEC elections. The upshot was that the local party, in effect, “disenfranchised” some of the most prominent Democrats in the county – specifically five members of the Tampa City Council and two Hillsborough County School Board members, who did not take their banishment very calmly, let’s say.

Why would there even be by-laws that would do so? Allegedly it’s because nonpartisan officers, unlike Hillsborough County DEC members, don’t have to take a “loyalty oath,” which means not endorsing Republicans in partisan races. As was mentioned the other night, not every Democrat who wanted to vote in the election could say that (specifically Frank Reddick, who endorsed Republican Shawn Harrison over his former colleague, Lisa Montelione, in the recent House District 63 race).

I would argue that one of the reasons why people are turned off by political parties (and they are) is because one is forced to sign a “loyalty oath,” but that’s just my opinion.

A couple of other thoughts from the meeting.

Although I’d hardly call members of either the Hillsborough County School Board or Tampa City Council “elite,” (none make more than $41,000 annually), that’s apparently the perception of some of the members of the Hillsborough DEC, which had no qualms at all putting these elected officials in their place for having the temerity to question how their Democratic Party bonafides could be questioned.

And let’s not forget the anti-Alan Clendenin factor. In my reporting on his attempt to defeat the Debbie Wasserman Schultz/Bill Nelson establishment pick of Allison Tant to lead the Democrats to the promised land in the January of 2013 election, I learned that there were definitely some local folks who wanted to bring down Clendenin, a longtime Democrat who has been a committeeman at the Democratic National Committee, a local committeeman in Hillsborough County, and was given the (token) title of Florida Democratic Party Vice Chair after his loss to Tant.

There definitely seemed to be some of that same scent in the air for those who supported Hillsborough County DEC Chair’s decision to challenge the current by-laws regarding whether Democrats from nonpartisan races should be prohibited in voting in certain locations. The conventional wisdom is that all seven of those Democratic officials who attended Monday night’s meeting were pro-Clendenin votes. He ultimately lost by 12 votes to Russ Patterson, so technically the decision to ban them from not voting didn’t cost Clendenin the election to committeeman, which could have put him in position to run for state chair again last month.

Can you imagine if the margin had been by six votes or less?

Frankly, there wasn’t a whole lot of noble behavior on the part of Democrats regardless of where they stood on the issue on Monday night. The fact that the meeting was held at the Letter Carriers Union is proof that after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the electoral college last month, Democrats around here appear ready to want to participate more than ever in the process. But events like Monday night are why people don’t get involved – when it seems to be about personalities, or by-laws, instead of inclusion and changing policies.

In other news….

Luis Viera has defeated Jim Davison by just 65 votes in the special Tampa City Council District 7 run-off election last night.

Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan is warning President Obama not to pardon U.S. Army veteran Bowe Bergdahl before he leaves office next month.

Newly elected Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has made his two first personnel selections to join his administration next year, including nabbing former HD 59 candidate Rena Frazier to be his communications chief.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is checking in with his constituents about his ambitious plans to have a streetcar run from Miami to Miami Beach.

 

Martin Dyckman: Spreading fake news, a dangerous bell that can’t be unrung

So Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a Northwest Washington restaurant. Imagine that.

Actually, someone did. The fake “news” then raced around the internet like chicken pox through a kindergarten.

But who could possibly believe such trash?

Actually, people did. The restaurant and its neighbors were besieged with death threats.

And Sunday, a man from North Carolina barged into the restaurant with an assault weapon to search for the children he believed were being held there. He reportedly fired at least one shot as everyone fled.

No one was hurt — this time.

The nation is on notice now that the clamor over fake “news” on the internet is more than much ado about nothing.

Our nation abounds with fools who are willing to believe anything they see, no matter where they see it, especially if it caters to their prejudices.

Internet fakery contributed to Clinton’s defeat — to what extent, we may never know.

The worst of it is not personified by Edgar M. Welch, the 28-year-old from North Carolina who took the sex ring slander seriously and whose two children may have to visit their father in prison for a long, long time.

No, the worst of it is the people who have duped so many folks like him. They belong behind bars even more than he does, but can’t be put there.

Where they definitely don’t belong is in public offices like that of the president-elect’s national security advisor-to-be, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.

Both he and his son, Michael G. Flynn, have used Twitter and other social media to spread some of the lurid stories associating Clinton with sex rings and other crimes. On Nov. 2, for example, the general posted this to Twitter:

“U decide — NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc. … MUST READ!”

You decide?

Flynn attached a link to his source, truepundit.com, which is to the internet as the National Enquirer is to print. The defamatory article is still featured on its site.

After Sunday’s alarming event, Flynn’s son, who was said to be on Donald Trump‘s transition team, took to Twitter to defend the slander that had provoked it.

“Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story …” he said.

Hours after Mike Pence insisted that the younger Flynn had “no involvement in the transition whatsoever,” the transition spokesman admitted in effect that he had been, but was no longer involved.

Both Flynns should have been fired.

What will deservedly remain a story is that Trump chooses advisors with such base instincts and execrable judgment. The possibility that the Russians originated these libels makes the national security adviser’s irresponsibility all the more ominous.

If somebody puts out the false news that North Korea is preparing to invade the South, would the national security adviser retweet that, saying U decide?

Trouble is, Trump’s own instincts are as bad, or worse. He plays Twitter like a pipe organ without a care as to whether what he tweets is true. His apologists would have us believe that it’s like shooting the bull over beers in a bar, that he doesn’t care that much whether what he says is true. Nonsense. He cares. He lies deliberately, knowing that the bigger the lie, the more people will swallow it.

There wasn’t a speck of evidence or truth in his Twitter claim that he would have won the popular vote but for 3 million illegal voters. To their credit, most of the media finally called the lie on that one.

But that bell can’t be unrung. There are doubtlessly more than 3 million fools who will go on believing it, and other Republicans are counting on them to help sell more voter suppression schemes to compliant legislatures and gullible courts.

“The long-running Republican war against the right to vote has now gone national at the instigation of President-elect Donald Trump,” observed a New York Times editorial.

Vice President-elect Pence, who surely knows better, was on ABC Sunday defending Trump’s “right to express his opinion.” When host George Stephanopoulos challenged the truth of it, Pence replied, “I don’t know that that’s a false statement, George and neither do you.”

This is the same deplorably deceitful diversion as Michael T. Flynn’s tweet, “U decide” and his son’s claim that the “Pizzagate” lie will remain a story until it’s proven false. The bigger the lie, paradoxically, the harder it is to prove to some people that it’s false. But that’s beside the point. If Trump or Pence have any evidence of anyone voting illegally, let them produce it.

They won’t—because they can’t. Indeed, in Michigan, Trump’s lawyers opposed a recount, saying that “all available evidence” shows that the election “was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

At least truth still matters somewhere, if only in courtrooms.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in North Carolina.

Mitch Perry Report for 12.6.16 – “Run, Joe, Run” was so 2015, wasn’t it?

One of my favorite sections of Bernie Sanders interview with Matt Taibbi in the current Rolling Stone is when the curmudgeonly Vermont Senator bitches about the corporate establishment media.

“They live in a bubble, talk about their world, worry about who’s going to be running 18 years from now for office,” he says. “Meanwhile, people can’t feed their kids. That’s something I knew.”

I write that as a prelude to the stories that floated yesterday that Joe Biden made some offhanded remark about perhaps running for president in 2020.

Really?

“I’m going to run in 2020. For president. So, uh, what the hell, man,” the departing vice president told reporters Monday with only a slight smile on his face. He then took it back. Slightly.

Asked if he was joking, he said: “I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “based on those remarks, Jon Cooper, who was national finance chairman for last year’s Draft Biden effort to coax the vice president into the 2016 presidential campaign, purchased a series of web domains including draftbiden2020.com, biden2020.net and runjoerun2020.com.”

Is this the time we mention that the 74-year-old VP will be 78 in 2020?

The obsession in this country with who will be president is so complete that when Donald J. Trump actually takes the oath of office in January 20, there will be some (maybe even the President) who are bored with the fact that there will be at least a year’s moratorium on speculating on who is running in 2020 – unless issues of impeachment come up.

We can’t forget that, since there were certainly Republicans hinting that they would go after Hillary Clinton if she were elected in the ugliest presidential election of our lifetime.

Look, from all the reports, Biden though hard of running for office as last as September of last year. There was considerable concern in Democratic circles that the FBI investigation into Clinton could result in an indictment, and then who’s your backup? But not only was Barack Obama firmly “with her,” but so was the entire Democratic Party establishment -embodied by the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the DNC. There was no path for Biden, as much as he wanted to pursue the presidency for a third time.

So we should let Biden spout off – it’s something he’s done a lot in his professional career, which spans 46 years. But let’s not take it too seriously. There’s enough going on in the world today.

Meanwhile, Democrats at a local level are having their issues. We were at last night’s Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee meeting – and our story on that event will be up by 8:30 a.m. today. Check it out.

In other news..

Rick Scott is staying mum about the proposal that would repeal the law he signed in 2014 that allows for undocumented immigrant students qualify for in-state tuition for Florida colleges and universities.

The Governor was in Tampa on Monday, championing the men and women who work in state law enforcement and hyping his proposal to give them a raise.

Early and voting by mail totals favors Democrats in the Tampa City Council District 7 race taking place tonight.

North Carolina GOP Governor Pat McCrory finally gave up his month-long quest to save his job, and Equality Florida couldn’t be happier.

Joe Henderson: Not just papers; it’s #LoveMyWebsite day, too

On Sunday afternoon, a man carrying an AR-15 assault rifle walked into a popular pizza place in northwest Washington D.C. and began shooting.

No one was hurt, thank goodness and the gunman was arrested.

What he said after being taken away, though, should be a warning to us all. He said he came to “self-investigate” whether Hillary Clinton was using the restaurant as a front for a child sex trafficking ring. Just before the election last month, that story had made the rounds among crazy people who frequent conspiracy-theory websites and believe what they read.

Normally, such a thing would be limited to charter members of the Tinfoil Hat Society. But after the ironically named “fake news” became real news for its impact on the recent elections, I guess we can’t afford to assume people can tell the difference – although I do think a few well-publicized libel judgments against sites that deliberately lie on the scale we just saw might give these miscreants a moment of pause.

I mention this because the hashtag #LoveMyNewspaper was trending Monday on Twitter. That gives me a warm feeling. I worked for about 45 years in the newspaper industry, including nearly the last 42 at the Tampa Tribune before it was bought and closed in May by the Tampa Bay Times.

This is not to lament that day because my attitude is to look forward, not backward. Besides, we know the business side of the newspaper industry overall sucks. The website newspaperdeathwatch.com lists 15 large papers that have closed since 2007 and details cutbacks and layoffs at many others, including the venerable New York Times.

Let’s all just take a deep breath, though. The need for detailed and accurate information doesn’t go away – maybe now more than ever, as the story in Washington shows. That’s where legitimate media comes in.

No matter your political persuasion, you can’t disagree that America is entering uncharted waters. Reporters have always been basically under siege from readers and politicians who don’t like their work, but as the recent national election proves they are more necessary than their enemies would like to admit.

So, I would add to the love for newspapers with another hashtag: #LoveMyWebsite – at least the ones like this one where readers go looking for real information and find it.

Reporters for SaintPetersBlog, FloridaPolitics.com and the Times perform their craft with distinction. They find out things people need to know and they understand the difference between fact and fantasy. That’s what we’re all after.

The Times revolutionized the game eight years ago when it launched PolitiFact, but probably never guessed the Pulitzer Prize-winning site would have to be used, as it was Nov. 4, to debunk the sex-trafficking story with a “Pants on Fire” rating.

And if you a frequent visitor to this site, you understand what a valuable tool it is to help stay abreast of the goings-on in Tallahassee, Tampa Bay and around the state.

When someone is willing to play that kind of mind game to dupe the nation that we see on the splinter sites, you need to ask what else they are willing to do.

The only way to combat that is with inconvenient truths known as facts. That is where reporters come in. That’s where newspapers with resources and willingness to shine a light in dark places are most needed. That’s where websites willing to cover local races with the same vigor as a governor’s race are most needed.

So yes, love your newspaper.

And love your website.

We’re all in this together.

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