President Obama Archives - Page 5 of 33 - Florida Politics

Vern Buchanan tells President Obama to stop accepting Syrian refugees

Taking his cue from a warning by FBI Director James Comey of “a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Sarasota area GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan is calling on the White House to put an immediate halt to accepting Syrian refugees into the U.S.

“Terrorists are leaving Syria disguised as refugees and carrying out attacks in the West,” Buchanan wrote in a letter addressed to President Obama on Thursday. “The prudent course of action is to halt all admissions of Syrians into the U.S. until the safety of Americans can be guaranteed.”

In response to the emerging migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East last summer, Obama ordered his administration last September to dramatically “scale up” the number of Syrian refugees welcomed into the United States by the end of the fiscal year, setting a target of 10,000.

The U.S. admitted more than 2,300 Syrian refugees in June, sending the fiscal year total soaring past the 5,000 mark, the Washington Times reported in late June. According to data from the State Department Refugee Processing Center, a total of 7,751 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S. since the beginning of last October, and nearly 5,000 in the last two months alone.

In his letter, Buchanan is seizing on Comey’s comments before Congress last week that the defeat of ISIS soldiers in Syria and Iraq will likely result in dispersing terrorists elsewhere, including America. “At some point there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before.” Comey added, “Not all of the Islamic State killers are going to die on the battlefield.”

Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee June 30 that Washington had “added security checks to the process where they are warranted” and overcome early hurdles, but Buchanan clearly was not placated by that statement.

Read his letter below:

August 4, 2016

The Honorable Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I urge you to immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees as a matter of national security. The chilling prediction by FBI Director James Comey of “a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before” warrants an immediate freeze on Syrian refugees.

Director Comey warned the nation last week that the defeat of ISIS soldiers in Syria and Iraq will likely result in their dispersal elsewhere, including America.

The FBI director’s warning that the collapse of the caliphate will mean increased attacks in Western Europe and the United States mirrors an alarming consensus among intelligence officials.

We are seeing a clear pattern in which a number of recent attacks have been carried out by ISIS terrorists with ties to Syria, including: the July 24 bombing of a music festival in Germany; the July 26 killing of a French priest; and the July 24 murder of a German woman with a machete. Syrian refugees played a part, either as attackers or accomplices, in all three attacks.

In the context of this clear threat, your goal of admitting 10,000 Syrians as a part of a so-called “surge operation” is extremely troubling, particularly given that White House press secretary Josh Earnest recently admitted that the screening process “typically takes 12 to 18 months … the reason for that process is that the safety and security of the U.S. homeland comes first.”

I urge you to work with world leaders to create a safe zone for refugees inside Syria or in a neighboring country. According to data from the Center for Immigration Studies, the U.S. could support the resettlement of 12 refugees in the Middle East for the cost of caring for one refugee in the U.S.

Terrorists are leaving Syria disguised as refugees and carrying out attacks in the West. The prudent course of action is to halt all admissions of Syrians into the U.S. until the safety of Americans can be guaranteed.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress

 

Kathy Castor says DNC message of optimism is in tune with where America is at

Nearly three-quarters of voters believe the nation has gone off on the wrong track, the highest mark of pessimism in three years. Some 73 percent say in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released two weeks ago that things gone off-course, with only 18 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction.

Yet at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, the message was that, in contrast to the dark vision expressed in Cleveland at the RNC a week earlier, things are pretty darn good in America.

“While this nation has been tested by war and recession and all manner of challenge,” President Barack Obama declared in his primetime speech last Wednesday night, “I stand before you again tonight, after almost two terms as your president, to tell you I am even more optimistic about the future of America. How could I not be, after all we’ve achieved together?”

Hillsborough County area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor says her party’s message IS in synch with the mood of the country.

“We have a lot going for us,” Castor said after attending a press conference regarding the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons in Florida.”If you look at how far we’ve come since the Great Recession: unemployment is low, inflation is low, gas prices are low, the housing market has recovered. But that doesn’t mean that everything is going fabulously; yes, we have work to do,” she says.

The Tampa representative says the key is to focus on higher wages for workers in Florida. “The Democrats have a plan to do that, and (Donald) Trump has no plan at all. Everyone has the right to be optimistic in the United States of America. This is the greatest country on Earth. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges that we’ve got to work on and right here in Florida, that means higher wages, support for public education and then fundamentally we’ve got to keep our neighbors safe here at home and abroad.”

Although the public is down on the immediate future, President Obama’s approval ratings are above 50 percent, a key figure to watch going into this fall’s general election.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.28.16 — Hillary’s turn

President Barack Obama certainly set the bar high for Hillary Clinton‘s acceptance speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention, but most fair-minded people will know that going in. Even his harshest critics acknowledge that Barack Obama is one of the finest orators our nation has ever had in the White House, and the grading curve should be different than everyone else.

But by this point, it should be obvious about what we’re going to hear tonight — a healthy dose of optimism about this country, and criticism of Donald Trump‘s much darker and, OK, dystopian vision.

I wrote about those themes emerging in Clinton’s speech in Tampa last Friday afternoon.

She also criticized his Cleveland RNC speech where he said that he alone could fix so many of the ills that the nation is undergoing.

“I never heard of an American leader, or at least someone who wants to be an American leader, claiming that’s all we need,” Clinton remarked. “That’s not a democracy my friends, as I call recall, we had a revolution to make sure we didn’t have someone who said I can fix it alone!”

I saw on Twitter last night how some conservatives and Republicans feel like their message is being hijacked by the Democrats. There’s a reason for that. Out of power, the opposition party has to point out that there are problems in this country, that only they could solve.

Bernie Sanders said the same thing in his own way.

Mrs. Clinton is the establishment, no doubt. By wanting to maintain another four years of Democratic rule after the past eight years, yes, she is portraying an America “that is already great,” another line we’ve repeatedly heard this week.

There were so many other interesting things that happened in the past 24 hours. The chants of “no more war!” being yelled at Leon Panetta was interesting.

Of all the speeches from last night, I thought Michael Bloomberg’s was the most interesting.

Robbie Mook wants a few good Floridians to house Hillary Clinton staffers for the campaign.

Although it was purely symbolic, a bid to offer an alternative to Tim Kaine in the vice-presidential roll call last night died by indifference of the Democratic National Committee.

This DNC has been all about humanizing Hillary Clinton. A former staffer of hers, USFSP political science professor Judithanne McLauchlan, says the image portrayed by conservative talk show hosts isn’t the woman she knows.

Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Martin O’Malley and Bill deBlasio all got their turns on the big stage at the DNC on Wednesday night.

Some of the state’s most prominent Democratic mayors took their turns before their fellow Democrats yesterday.

Bob Buckhorn fired up the crowd in Philadelphia.

Philip Levine touted the plan to bring a streetcar to Miami Beach in his speech in Philly.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum spoke before the entire DNC yesterday, but spent some time a the Marriott Hotel in the morning.

Senate Majority PAC airs ad highlighting President Obama’s endorsement of Patrick Murphy

After several weeks of GOP-flavored super PAC ads bashing Patrick Murphy dominating local cable stations in Florida, a super PAC that supports the Jupiter Democrat in his race for Senate has a new ad on the air.

The ad comes courtesy of the Senate Majority PAC, which Tuesday released a new ad that highlights President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of Murphy, a two-term congressman from Florida’s Treasure Coast who is competing for the Senate nomination against Congressman Alan Grayson. The ad notes Murphy has fought to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, protect a woman’s right to choose, and against Tea Party obstructionism in Washington.

Critics note that, in fact, Murphy said on several occasions after being elected to Congress in 2012 that “we’re going to have to look at some structural changes to some programs like Social Security and Medicare.” He has refrained from such comments as a Democratic candidate for Senate.

Marco Rubio and his allies are not telling the truth about Patrick Murphy and we aren’t going to let their attacks go unanswered,” said Shripal Shah, spokesman for Senate Majority PAC.

Obama and Biden’s endorsement of Murphy earlier this year demonstrated how much the Democratic Party establishment backs Murphy, the 33-year-old representative who is centrist in his political leanings and more temperate in tone than the combative Grayson.

Nevertheless, though there hasn’t been any recent polling done, the two Democrats are considered to be evenly matched up some six weeks before state Democrats will choose their standard bearer for the November election.

Meanwhile, the Rubio campaign is weighing in. The GOP incumbent is the likely candidate who will face either Grayson or Murphy this November.

“It’s no surprise that Harry Reid’s Super PAC would ride to the rescue for their preferred candidate after he was caught lying about his resume and trying to delay needed aid to Floridians for his own publicity,” said Rubio campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens.

You can watch the ad here:

 

Eric Lynn goes up with first TV ad in HD 68 race in Pinellas County

Pinellas County House District 68 Democrat Eric Lynn will begin airing a local 30-second television ad that will run through the primary election on August 30.

The ad begins with Lynn taking a stroll with his wife, kids and dog, and then places him in front of the Vinoy Hotel. A photo with President Barack Obama also makes an appearance. Lynn began working for then Senator Obama in 2006, and then went to work in his Defense Dept. after Obama became president in January of 2009. Lynn stepped down from the DOD in 2015.

Lynn is in a fiercely contested primary contest vs. St. Petersburg attorney Ben Diamond. The winner will face Republican J.B. Bensmihen in November.

Lynn certainly has the funds to air an ad all the way through early voting and until Election Day. New fundraising totals show that he has raised over $75,000 in his campaign account, and maintains more than $300,000 in his political committee, the Pinellas County Voters Fund.

Diamond has raised more than $159,000.

Here’s the ad:

Mitch Perry Report for 7.13.16 — Conservatism is still running strong, Jeb Bush insists

Jeb Bush says whatever you want to call Donald Trump, don’t call him a conservative.

“Conservatism is temporarily dead,” the former Florida governor told Nicolle Wallace on an MSNBC special that aired Monday night. “I mean, if you look at it, we have two candidates. Donald Trump is barely a Republican. He’s certainly not a conservative.”

Bush makes the point, however, that while that might not matter much in the presidential sweepstakes, conservatism is still powerful across the country.

“I mean, the — the conservative cause isn’t just about the, you know, a presidential race. It’s about core beliefs that, if implemented properly, will lead people to a better life. And so I think outside of the hot presidential campaign, this message still resonates and it’s still important. It certainly resonates around the country.”

As has been well documented, Republicans have won a ton of elections since President Obama won office in 2008, with Democrats in control of the House and Senate. In the states, Republicans have won 900 legislative seats since ’08, and there more governors with an “R” next to their name than a “D.”

Let’s look at Florida, for example, where Republicans have dominated in the Legislature for two decades now (I had to laugh at loud when Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Mark Halperin, in trying to explain why Donald Trump is now leading Hillary Clinton in a new poll out this morning, said Florida “has been trending red RECENTLY.” Say What??)

Bush says he now understands where the GOP primary electorate is at: they’re pissed off, essentially.

“I think the difference is people don’t believe anything anybody says anymore … in politics. I don’t know if they even heard what I said. That’s the point. They — they— they didn’t — they wanted their voice heard. They still do. They’re angry for legitimate reasons. They latched onto the big horse. All of which is logical to me in retrospect. In the midst of it, it wasn’t very logical. I mean,” he said.

Nearly five months after dropping out after finishing a disappointing fourth in South Carolina, Bush now says he’s not sure he could have done anything to change the outcome. “There is some weird solace in that, I guess that I don’t have to think about it that much. … Looking back on it, I’m not sure what I could’ve done. Having a conservative record, offering conservative solutions, hopefully giving people a sense that I could’ve done the job wasn’t — wasn’t enough. And it may not have ever been enough, given the circumstances.”

Bush says he can’t vote for Trump, nor Clinton. What about the Libertarian ticket of former GOP governors Gary Johnson and William Weld? “Well, I don’t know, ” he said. “They don’t get a lot of airtime yet.”

That ticket is getting in the high single digits in some polls, though Johnson won’t be invited into the presidential debates until he hits 15 percent in the polls, which seems doubtful, but who knows?

In other news…

Elected officials, religious figures and law enforcement officers attended a press conference at City Hall in Tampa yesterday to discuss the tensions that exist between the police and the black community. No fewer than three of the public speakers all spoke about getting pulled over by local law enforcement recently.

Manatee County lawyer and activist C.J. Czaia is among the candidates vying to win the House District 70 seat being vacated this fall by Darryl Rouson.

And Brian Willis won an important endorsement in his bid to win the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 seat.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.11.16 — Trump gets closer to naming his VP choice

We’re just a week out from the Republican National Convention, which means we’re just days away from learning who will be Donald Trump‘s vice presidential choice.

Of all the issues that make Americans fear a Trump presidency, the fact that he would have access to the nuclear codes is probably the most dominant concern, which is why it makes some sense if he were to nominate someone from the military.

Enter retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. The 57-year-old Flynn is a 33-year Army veteran who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, but his tenure was reportedly cut short over clashes with top Obama administration officials. He’s been serving as an informal adviser to Trump during this campaign season.

Flynn went on ABC’s This Week with Martha Raddatz on Sunday, where he may have alienated some social conservatives with his stances on abortion and same-sex marriage.

”What people do in their private lives, these are not big issues that our country is dealing with that will cause our country to collapse,” Flynn told Raddatz. “I’m more concerned that our country could collapse because we are not dealing with education issues, immigration issues.”

Flynn says he grew up in a family that supported the Democratic Party, but he doesn’t recognize that party now.

On abortion, he said, “I think it’s a — I think for women — and these are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose what they — you know, sort of the right of choice, but I think that that’s a difficult legal decision that — and I think that women are so important in that decision-making process.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are reportedly also thick in the mix for Trump. Either way, we should know who his No. 2 is within the next few days.

In other news …

There was no time off for this reporter this week. Jennifer Granholm headlined the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee’s annual fundraising event on Saturday night in Clearwater.

Ed Narain went after Augie Ribeiro at an SD 19 candidates forum in South St. Pete, also on Saturday.

Before the weekend, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Police Chief Eric Ward addressed the traumatic week of violence between police and the public in Dallas, Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul.

In response to Dallas, conservative Florida Republicans Neil Combee and Dennis Baxley say they’ll introduce a “Blue Lives Matter” proposal in the Legislature if they make it back to office this November.

And outspoken conservative talk-show host Joe Walsh has somehow become an issue in the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s race, after his incendiary tweet about President Obama after the Dallas shootings.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.8.16 — America in crisis

The world awoke to the news this morning that five police officers in Dallas were killed at a police protest last night, with another six wounded. It’s the worst attack on law enforcement officers since 9/11. As I write this morning, CBS News reports that there were three, and maybe four, snipers involved. There’s been no other information reported on them at this point.

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown said the officers were shot by two snipers in “elevated positions” near the protests and said the department believes the attackers coordinated the ambush. “How would you know to post up there?” he said, referring to the elevated position the snipers were in.

“We have yet to determine whether or not there was some complicity with the planning of this, but we will be pursuing that.”

In Warsaw, Poland, President Barack Obama called the shootings a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement.”

The incident comes after the two shooting deaths of black men in suburban St. Paul and Baton Rouge earlier this week by the police, and has led many in the black community to say they are sick and tired of such incidents continuing to occur in this country.

The Washington Post reports this morning the number of fatal shootings by officers has increased from 465 in the first six months of last year to 491 for the same period this year. They also report this year has also seen more officers shot and killed in the line of duty and more officers prosecuted for questionable shootings.

One of the things that seems to be a consensus is there needs to be more police training. The Post reports while police chiefs around the nation have embraced such reforms, with 18,000 police departments in the country, many have their own training academies and unions, “making it impossible for them to move in lockstep.”

One of the legislative reforms that has come out of the police shootings in 2014 was the increase in body cameras for officers. However, the footage in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul from cellphones this week shows that the number of instances of deadly force haven’t been reduced at all.

In other news …

Today is the deadline for two media organizations in Florida who say they’re waiting on Patrick Murphy on whether or not they will hold a U.S. Senate primary debate before voters go to the polls at the end of next month.

Murphy, incidentally, raised more than $2 million in the past three months in his bid for the Senate.

Marco Rubio joined nine other GOP senators early yesterday in calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to deny Hillary Clinton and her top aides access to national security information, following Jim Comey‘s statement Tuesday that she was “reckless” in handling classified material.

The Tampa Bay Times investigative editor, Chris Davis, has earned a promotion. He’s now leading the investigative team at USA Today.

Avis Harrison becomes the sixth candidate (and first woman) to enter the Tampa City Council election to succeed Lisa Montelione.

Tim Canova has raised more than $2.25 million in his insurgent campaign against DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

House District 61 Democratic candidates in Tampa discuss their financial disclosure forms.

Mitch Perry Report for 7.5.16 — Bernie Sanders says the DNC’s platform still needs work

The Democratic Party platform’s most recent draft was published Friday, and is ready for your reading enjoyment, before it’s reviewed and ultimately approved this coming weekend in Orlando.

With Bernie Sanders‘ only leverage these days to exert as much of his influence as possible on this hallowed document, it is instructive to learn the Bernster thinks it’s a good start but needs more work, according to a piece he wrote on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website Sunday.

On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Democrats have a bit of a problem. That’s because their leader, Barack Obama, is 100 percent behind it, as are a number of Democrats.

Hillary Clinton used to be one of those Democrats, but no longer, undoubtedly pushed to oppose something she formerly called a “model” agreement by Sanders. Donald Trump rails against it daily as well, but the language in the platform says only there are “a diversity of views in the party.”

Sanders doesn’t understand that, since both he and Hillary oppose it. “If both Clinton and I agree that the TPP should not get to the floor of Congress this year, it’s hard to understand why an amendment saying so would not be overwhelmingly passed,” he writes, forgetting about Obama’s stance on the issue.

On the minimum wage, the DNC says they do support calls for raising it to $15, but support what Governors [Jerry] Brown in California and [Andrew] Cuomo in New York have proposed — doing it incrementally, year-by-year.

On Social Security, the platform calls for taxing “some of the income of people above $250,000.”

Regarding Wall Street, the platform says “we acknowledged that there is room within our party for a diversity of views on a broader financial transaction tax.”

On campaign finance, the platform calls for reversing not only 2010’s Citizens United decision, but also the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which equated speech with money.

Bernie’s thoughts on the rest?

“We need to have very clear language that raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensures that the promised pensions of millions of Americans will not be cut, establishes a tax on carbon, and creates a ban on fracking,” he writes. Currently, there is no ban on fracking, nor anything at all about a carbon tax.

Sanders says amendments on those items will be introduced in Orlando, so stay tuned.

In other news …

Well, the only thing we’ve reported on since last week was the fact that Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick has endorsed Betty Reed in Senate District 19 race, which may move some votes Ms. Reed’s way.

 

Martin Dyckman: With ‘colossal liar’ Donald Trump, nightmares could become reality

Donald Trump has audacious proposals to wall off Mexico and bar Muslim immigrants, but he hasn’t said how he would stop people from sneaking around the barriers or overstaying visas.

How might he manage that? Let’s surmise one way.

He could be planning to implant every lawful resident with an identification chip like those the veterinarian offers to your dog or cat. The process is relatively painless and doesn’t cost much.

Newborns and legitimate visitors would be first. Others would have their turn in order to renew their drivers’ licenses, receive a tax refund, or show up to vote. Strategically placed surveillance devices would detect people without chips to be held for questioning.

“We have no choice,” he would say.

Stop. Roll back. This is fiction. I have absolutely no evidence that anything of the sort has occurred even to Trump. Identity chips have been the fantasy only of some folks on the far right who enjoy suspecting that their own government is out to get them.

They’re probably huge Trump fans. They’re susceptible to believing anything bad about their country’s leadership, and that’s what he trades on.

They’d better be careful, though. With Trump, one of their nightmares could become reality.

As Trump himself would say, who knows?

Stop. Roll back. I say again, this is fiction.

But it’s no more false, fanciful or outrageous than the paranoid fables that Trump persistently passes off as casually as you or I might say, “How’s it going today?”

After the slaughter at Orlando, Trump had the gall to imply that President Obama was somehow responsible.

Proof?

“There’s something going on,” Trump said.

That’s not proof.

He prepared for his campaign by flogging the birther nonsense even after all but a few certifiable lunatics had accepted the redundant evidence of Barack Obama’s native-born citizenship.

He has been digging into his party’s dry-as-dust Benghazi well by charging that Hillary Clinton was asleep rather than answering the phone when the American consulate was under attack. That’s a takeoff on her campaign question, “Who do you want in the White House when the phone rings at 3 a.m.?”

The trouble with Trump’s attempt to exploit Benghazi in that regard is that while the assault took place at nighttime in Libya, it was full daylight in the United States. The secretary of state was not napping. After verifying that she was in her Washington office, PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim “false.”

Pressed repeatedly on the insinuation, Trump finally admitted on NBC News that it might not be true.

“It happened all during the day and was going on for a long period of time — it was going on for a long period of time and she was asleep at the wheel, whether she was sleeping or not, who knows if she was sleeping?” he said.

Who knows?

If such speculative claptrap is legitimate politicking, here are a few other possibilities:

Is Trump insane?

Who knows?

Does he maintain a secret harem somewhere?

Who knows?

Does he have a fortune stashed in Russian banks, and is that why he’s refusing to divulge his income tax returns?

Who knows?

Trump continues to remind us that the Republican Party is about to nominate, for the most important office in the world, someone who doesn’t care even in the slightest whether there’s any truth to what he says.

He is a deliberate liar who’s as eager to deceive everyone in the same way he took advantage of people expecting to learn something useful from the so-called Trump University. The lesson that most learned was to not be swindled again.

And when Trump accuses Clinton of being the most corrupt presidential candidate ever, she must know what it’s like to be called ugly by a frog. Trump should look in the mirror.

He is as corrupt, if not more so, than any individual who has ever run for any office in the United States.

To tell lies and willfully repeat them after they have been exposed is a profound form of corruption.

To lure hard-working Americans into seminars on the premise that they will learn to be rich and then stiff them for ever-costlier upgrades they can’t afford is a profound form of corruption.

To habitually take corporations into bankruptcy, enriching oneself while leaving creditors and investors with little or nothing, is corruption. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, once can be the failure of good intentions. But at the old saying goes, “Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault.”

The presidency of the United States — the leadership of the free world — is not on the order of a gambling casino or a golf course. We don’t dare be fooled even once.

Especially not by so colossal a liar as Donald Trump.

___

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

 

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