March 03, 2014

Venezuela's the new Cuba


Venezuela is the new Cuba.

“I listen to this stuff about Cuba and I listen to what’s happening in Venezuela. They’re very similar — not just in the repression part, but the economics part,” Florida’s Marco Rubio explained on the U.S. Senate floor last Monday as he condemned the violence in Venezuela.

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

There’s a third similarity: Venezuela is a new way to talk about Cuba, particularly in the exilic hothouse of Florida.

For Republicans, who have watched the once-reliable Cuban-American GOP vote lean more Democratic, Venezuela provides a fresh way to remind voters about the failures of a socialist-totalitarian state. And Havana’s role in the unrest in Caracas and San Cristóbal provides a new counter to those who want to lift the embargo against Cuba.

Rubio made that case Monday. But there’s more to Rubio’s speech than merely keeping the embargo in place.

Column here

Read more here:

February 28, 2014

Scott, Rubio boost sanctions push, bash Obama over Venezuela

@MarcACaputo @PatriciaMazzei

Gov. Rick Scott accused President Obama on Friday of “doing the wrong thing” by not quickly and vocally proposing sanctions against the government of Venezuela for suppressing protestors.

Democrats were quick to accuse Scott of trying to score political points in South Florida’s burgeoning Venezuelan community and of ignoring efforts by the Obama administration to negotiate with Caracas.

But Scott, speaking in Doral, said Obama isn’t doing enough. He said Obama should support sanctions proposed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio against the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro.

“We should clearly freeze the bank accounts of Maduro and his gang,” Scott said. “Stop the travel visas — don’t allow anybody who’s impacting these protestors, peaceful protestors — from coming into our country. They should never be able to come into our country.”

Scott also said the president should do what he and Rubio did on Friday: Visit Venezuelans in communities like Doral, where the Republican governor and senator addressed a packed crowd at El Arepazo 2 restaurant, along with Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“The president needs to show up,” said Scott, noting Obama is scheduled to visit the Miami area on March 7.

More here

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott to President Obama: Visit Venezuelans in Miami


Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent President Barack Obama a letter Friday again asking his administration to consider sanctions against the Venezuelan government.

Scott said he first brought the issue up Monday during a National Governors Association meeting in Washington D.C. In his letter, the governor added that Obama should visit Venezuelan families in Miami when he visits town March 7.

Later Friday, Scott has scheduled an event in Doral with Sen. Marco Rubio to express solidarity to Venezuelans.

"We must target regime officials with sanctions, such as freezing the bank accounts of Maduro and his gang and revoking the U.S. visas of anyone involved in attacking peaceful demonstrators. We must stand squarely for liberty and democracy and against the forces of oppression and tyranny," Scott wrote. "It is also my hope that you will use all diplomatic measures to denounce the unjust arrest and treatment of the peaceful pro-democracy leader Leopoldo López.

"Additionally, with your planned visit to Florida in March, I would like to encourage you to visit the community of Doral to hear the stories of freedom loving families who are concerned for the safety of their loved ones in Venezuela."

Read the full letter here.

February 25, 2014

FDP to Rick Scott: You're "the ultimate Medicare thief"


Gov. Rick Scott's Obamacare-bashing ad campaign over Medicare Advantage cuts has given the Florida Democratic Party the opportunity to play a familiar tune in this press release:

Rick Scott is best known to Floridians, Americans, and federal investigators as the CEO of Columbia/HCA, a hospital company fined $1.7 billion dollars for defrauding Medicare. Rick Scott attacking anyone about taking money from Medicare is the height of hypocrisy.

"Maybe Rick Scott should stick to pleading the fifth when discussing Medicare. Rick Scott is saying Democrats are committing Medicare robbery, when in fact he's the ultimate Medicare thief. He lost the right to accuse Democrats of raiding Medicare when he oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history. Rick Scott's company stole money that should have gone to health care for seniors," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Karp.

"The fact is that Medicare advantage was supposed to save taxpayers' money, and now it's costing them more than classic Medicare. The savings in the new health care law are being invested right back into our health care.

"Rick Scott's desperate attacks are laughable. And so are his attempts to pretend he's fighting for Florida's seniors."

February 24, 2014

Miami Congressman Joe Garcia asks President Obama to let more Venezuelans stay in U.S.


With anti-government protests persisting in Venezuela, Miami Congressman Joe Garcia has asked President Barack Obama to grant more political asylum applications from and cease deportations to the South American country.

In a letter to Obama sent Monday, Garcia said the latest unrest, which Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has blamed in part on the United States, makes Venezuelans who have lived in the U.S. a target if they return home.

“These people not only have a legitimate fear of persecution” if they return to Venezuela, Garcia told the Miami Herald. “They’ve also become a part of our community.”

Garcia, a Democrat whose district extends from Kendall to Key West, asked the president to use his executive power to “employ all possible actions” to assist Venezuelans, including authorizing a special immigration designation that would allow them to legally live and work in the U.S. That designation, known as Deferred Enforced Departure, has been granted to Liberians who fled armed conflict.

More here.

February 23, 2014

Miami is First Lady central: Michelle Obama speaks Tuesday, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday


Winter grips the rest of the country. So the politicians are coming to Miami.

Vice president Joe Biden fundraised here on Feb. 12; First Lady Michelle Obama visits Miami on Tuesday for her "Let's Move" wellness initiative. And now former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak at the University of Miami on Wednesday.

For some reason, these folks don't come down in August.

Here's Obama's advisory:

Miami, FL * 4:30 PM ET– Following the Let’s Move! School Wellness Event, the First Lady will travel to Miami, Florida.  While in Miami, she will visit a local parks and recreation center to make a major announcement about healthy out-of-school time.

This event is open press. Members of the media who wish to cover the event must RSVP with "OUT OF SCHOOL TIME" in the subject line to by 12 PM, Monday, February 24th. Those who do not have a White House Hard Pass must also include: Full Legal Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, US Citizenship Status, Country of Origin, and Current City/State.

Following her event in Miami, the First Lady will join Mario Lopez for an interview for Extra.  This interview will air the following day.  Later that afternoon, the First Lady will join Satcha Pretto for an interview with ¡Despierta América!.  This interview will air the following day. 

January 28, 2014

PolitiFact will fact-check Obama's SOTU address

From PolitiFact:

We'll be fact-checking President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET.

Follow us here and on Twitter @politifact for live updates throughout the night. Suggest facts to check with #PolitiFactThis. Then check back here for our fact-checks.

(If you can't wait to get started, see our preview, and check out our roundups from 20132012 and 2011!)

On the couch with your phone or tablet? Check out our full-featured PolitiFact Mobile app, for a limited time just 99 cents  on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Keep up with this story, browse our 500 fact-checksof Obama and suggest facts to check. Our favorite extra: Your very own "Pants on Fire!" button.

To look up our previous fact-checks during the debate, try our free app, Settle It! PolitiFact's Argument Ender. Easily search and share by email, Facebook and Twitter. 

January 20, 2014

Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, joins Charlie Crist's campaign


Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama's 2012 reelection, has joined Charlie Crist's campaign for governor.

"RT to help me welcome @Messina2012 to the People's Team. Join us at ," Crist said via Twitter on Monday night.

Shortly after that announcement, the campaign touted another big-hire from Obama's team: Teddy Goff, digital director for the president's reelection campaign, who oversaw its social media, web video and online advertising efforts. Goff has been hired along with his firm, Precision Strategies, which includes other top Obama advisors.

For Crist, the announcement serves multiple purposes: It underscores the close ties Crist has with Obama's political team, it quiets concerns from some Democrats doubting Crist's party bonafides and it softens the blow of the mysterious departure of Bill Hyers late last year, who quit before he officially became campaign manager.

Hyers declined to comment on the move, as did Crist.

Crist couldn't be reached nor could Messina, who's expected to act as more of a senior advisor instead of a campaign manager.

In a recent interview with The Miami Herald, Messina downplayed talk of becoming Crist's campaign manager. But he clearly expressed his support and admiration for Crist, a Republican turned independent turned Democrat.

"Gov. Crist was obviously very helpful to the 2012 re-elect. He did whatever we asked and was very helpful giving strategic advice,” Messina said.

“He gave a very important Democratic National Convention speech,” Messina said. “It framed the election in an important way. And he was very important to the fact that Barack Obama won Florida.”

Well before the 2012 elections, Messina and Crist met at an Orlando restaurant where, Messina said, Crist offered his unqualified support for President Obama's reelection effort.

Counting Messina and Goff, at least nine former campaign workers from Obama's 2008 or 2012 campaigns have signed up for Crist's campaign. Gov. Rick Scott's campaign announced last week that it was bulking up, naming spokeswoman Melissa Sellers as campaign manager and state Sen. John Thrasher as campaign chairman.

Crist leads Scott in the polls, but the Republican is walloping Crist in fundraising. Crist is posting solid fundraising numbers, and the news of Messina should help boost him further.

Crist is leading his main Democratic rival, former Weston state Sen. Nan Rich, by double digits in polls of their party's primary.

BeeCkmMCQAAkMNK-1The Republican Party of Florida's communications director, Susan Hepworth, tied Messina to Obamacare and PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" in this statement: "As Charlie Crist tries desperately to cover up his failed record he will definitely need help from the ultimate spin doctor who sold the lie of the year that 'if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it.'" Hepworth also Tweeted out a pictures mocking the pick.

Judging by the laser focus on Crist -- and private conversations -- Scott's backers and Florida Republican operatives are worried about a Crist comeback. The addition of Messina could make them even more concerned.

But Obama's far less popular now than he was in 2012, and he's dragging down some Democrats in the polls as well.

Still, the Obama campaign was a cult of Obama. Without Obama, it's unclear how well this Florida iteration of his operation will fare.

We're going to find out.

Read more here:

December 16, 2013

After Obama wins Lie of the Year, more spin from his administration

President Obama lied. Millions of health-insurance policies will die.

And he, his administration and Democrats are paying dearly for it.

On Thursday, Obama was awarded PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” for repeatedly saying “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it” under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration refuses to fully fess up to the lie.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to do it Friday during a Miami trip touting Obamacare. And Obama has tried to rewrite history.

“What we said was, you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” Obama said Nov. 4.

PolitiFact rated that statement Pants-on-Fire false.

So the president lied. Then he told a whopper about his lie. What’s to say the other assurances about the Affordable Care Act are true?

The day after Obama won the Lie of the Year, Sebelius hosted her made-for-TV chat with Obamacare recipients and advocates at the downtown Miami-Dade Main Library.

Ducking two questions about the lie, Sebelius talked up the act’s improved sign-up website and the success stories of prospective enrollees who are getting good coverage for little money.

“I hope you all will become part of the effort to spread the word,’’ she said.

But this administration’s word isn’t so trustworthy.

Column here



December 10, 2013

Obama-Castro redux: Image of a handshake, but a speech with a backhanded slap


Picture 1We are inevitably drawn to pictures over words, to the image and not the meaning, the shadow and not the substance.

So the abiding takeaway of President Obama's appearance and tribute to Nelson Mandela today, for some, might not be what the president said but what he did: Shake hands with Cuban president/strongman Raul Castro.

If that's all that some people talk about, they missed the speech and its meanings. It's a sad commentary on how some would rather see what they want to see rather than also listen to what was said.

Obama's tribute was one of the most-inspiring speeches from a U.S. president in years. Picking a great quote is almost impossible because there are so many:

It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well...

“I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”...

In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith.  He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.

Tucked in all of this, however, was a focused backhanded slap against repressive regimes like the one Castro presides over:

Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.

We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.

But many aren't talking about any of this.

Most didn't hear the speech broadcast in the U.S. this morning. They won't read it. And there's a far better chance they'll see the photo or video of the handshake. Twitter is abuzz. The partisans have donned their armor of lazy talking points, hoisted their tired 140-character standards of dysfunction.

A few have noted the president "bowed" to Castro. It's a function of the president being so much taller than the little dictator, and being decorous at an event on the world stage. The encounter just didn't look like an act of obeisance by Obama.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't talk about the handshake. That doesn't mean Obama shouldn't have said more to Castro or criticize him face to face when he had a chance. But we should consider the text of the speech as well.

There's some historical significance to the greeting, as CNN points out, but reporter Christiane Amanpour's reaction was as instructive as it was over-wrought: "Castro! He's shaking hands with Raul Castro!"


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