September 21, 2016

PolitiFact's Obameter: A broken promise on path to citizenship

Obama Campaign 2016 ClintonphiliAP

@amysherman1

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over a Texas case related to President Barack Obama's efforts to help millions of illegal immigrants temporarily avoid deportation. That ruling and other events are stopping Obama from keeping his campaign promise on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Obama's programs were intended to help certain people who came here as children and their parents. While it would not have provided a permanent lawful status to applicants, it would have made it easier for them to work and study here.

The decision was another blow to Obama's efforts to change immigration laws and promise to provide a path to citizenship.

We rated Obama's 2008 pledge as In the Works after the Senate unveiled an immigration bill in 2013 that included several hurdles for undocumented immigrants, including fines, background checks and a waiting period, before they could be on a path to citizenship. But the bill stalled in the House when leadership refused to bring it up for a vote.

Keep reading from PolitiFact's Obameter here.

Photo by the AP

September 13, 2016

'Just call me POTUS': Obama goes live on Miami R&B radio for Clinton

Obama Campaign 2016 Clinton
@PatriciaMazzei

Listeners who tuned in to Miami’s Hot 105 radio for the usual afternoon banter and R&B tunes got something a little different Tuesday: a voting pitch directly from President Barack Obama.

“Y’all stayin’ out of trouble?” he said by way of greeting when he called in and went on air with hosts Rick Party and Benji Brown.

When Party and Brown quipped that they didn’t know how to address him — “PBO? Or Barry B? Or BO?” — Obama replied: “You know, just call me POTUS, man.”

A hard-hitting interview it was not.

Instead, Obama got a chance to do some campaigning for Hillary Clinton to African-Americans in Democrat-rich Miami-Dade County. A few hours earlier, he had rallied Clinton supporters in Philadelphia.

“Hillary Clinton is somebody who I have worked with, who I know, who I have confidence in, who has a track record of working on behalf of civil-rights issues and voting-rights issues and criminal-justice issues and health care and children’s-poverty issues,” he told Hot 105. “And the other guy, you know, I don’t know what he’s done to help somebody other than himself.”

More here.

Photo credit: Matt Rourke, Associated Press

August 30, 2016

Florida lawmakers urge tough steps against Venezuela

AP_16236481018049

@jamesmartinrose

Florida's congressional delegation has the biggest presence in a bipartisan letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to extend sanctions and take other tough steps against the Venezuelan government.

Nine of the 30 lawmakers who signed the letter to Kerry and Lew are from the Sunshine State, among them South Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, plus Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson.

Also on the letter are Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and John Mica of Winter Park, plus Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of West Boca Raton.

"People are literally starving, suicide rates are rising and the government continues to repress its people," the lawmakers wrote.

Congress in July passed legislation sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami, which President Barack Obama signed into law, extending sanctions on human rights abusers in Venezuela.

"However, the are scores of other Venezuelan officials, including within the Supreme Court, federal judiciary, judges in various states, national and state prosecutors, and police and security officers who have reportedly directly engaged in human rights abuses, efforts to undermine democracy and public corruption," the lawmakers wrote to Kerry and Lew.

The 30 House members called on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to hold a recall referendum this year, release all political prisoners, follow democratic principles, permit the delivery of emergency food and medicine, and stop government support for drug trafficking.

To read the letter:

August 25, 2016

Rubio raps FEMA over algae blooms

Senate 2016 Rubio_Ordo (1)-082516

@jamesmartinrose

Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the Obama administration for again declining to issue a federal disaster declaration in response to toxic algae in Florida's waterways.

"Even though the end to this disaster is not in sight, the President is telling our state we are on our own," the Miami Republican said Thursday in a statement.

Barack Obama did not appear to be involved in the decision. In a brief letter earlier Thursday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate rejected Gov. Rick Scott's appeal of his agency's earlier denial of extra money to help fight the algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee discharges intended to protect its aging dike.

"After a thorough review of all information contained in your initial request and appeal, we reaffirm our original findings that supplemental federal assistance under the Stafford Act is not appropriate for this event," Fugate wrote to Scott. "Therefore, I must inform you that your appeal for an emergency declaration is denied."

The thick algae blooms look like guacamole and smell bad. The algae has fouled Treasure Coast waterways fed by Lake Okeechobee.

"The Administration has chosen yet again to turn a blind eye to the livelihoods of Floridians who are affected by this toxic algae," Rubio said.

For more on Rubio's response:

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article86989367.html#storylink=cpy

 

August 09, 2016

Barack Obama signs fundraising email for Patrick Murphy

Obama (4)

@ByKristenMClark

Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign sent out a fundraising plea to supporters today that was signed by President Barack Obama.

The text of the email -- sent just after 11:30 this morning -- largely mirrors a TV ad Obama did last month for the Democratic congressman from Jupiter.

"With all that's at stake, we need Patrick Murphy in the Senate. But he’ll need your help to get there," Obama's email reads. "Patrick stands up to Republicans on behalf of our shared values. It's why they're attacking him. They know he can win in November and help Democrats retake the Senate, and they’ll spare no expense to defeat him."

Murphy has relied heavily on the White House's support in his campaign for Republican Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat.

In the upcoming Aug. 30 Democratic primary -- where mail-in voting is underway -- Murphy faces U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and Miami labor attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith. Former assistant U.S. attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and California real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando are also on the Democratic ballot.

Photo credit: President Barack Obama is greeted by, from left, Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez upon arriving at Miami International Airport in early June. Andrew Harnik / AP

August 06, 2016

DNC emails reveal controversial reputation of South Florida billionaire

@jamesmartinrose

While prominent Democrats from Hillary Clinton on down regularly mock Donald Trump in public, he's not the only wealthy commercial real estate developer to be ridiculed by party operatives.

Stephen Bittel, a Miami Beach businessman who owns and operates more than $1 billion in real estate in South Florida and beyond, isn't the most popular fellow at the Democratic National Committee despite his large donations to the party.

A few of the DNC emails released last month by Wikileaks, which prompted the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman, contain trash-talking about Bittel among folks at top levels of its massive fundraising operation.

Bittel, who is co-chairman of the party's national finance committee, is cited in several emails looking ahead to a May 18 meeting of President Barack Obama with the Coconut Grove resident and a small group of other big donors at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

Two days before the event, DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan and his Mid-Atlantic deputy Alexandra Shapiro were fretting about where to seat Bittel.

"Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn't sit next to POTUS!" Kaplan told Shapiro.

POTUS is the Secret Service code name for President of the United States.

Shapiro quickly responded: "Yes -- Bittel will be sitting in the s-------t corner I can find."

The next day, in another email about seating for the elite fundraiser, Shapiro provided an update to Zach Allen, another DNC regional finance director.

Shapiro zeroed in on Bittel and Henry R. Munoz, a prominent San Antonio architect who is also co-chairman of the DNC national finance committee.

"So Henry and Bittel are both coming to the roundtable (with Obama) as punishment for something I did in a past life," she emailed Allen.

The two operatives mused about seating Bittel next to DNC finance vice chairman Chris Lowe and his wife, comedy writer Bonnie Datt.

"LOL, Chris and Bonnie think Bittel is a character," Allen told Shapiro. "So if you want to go that route, let me know so I can at least forewarn them but they'll be fine and if it makes your life easier, all the better."

In apparent reference to both Bittel and Munoz, Allen added: "I'm sorry you're having to deal with them."

Bittel, chairman of Terranova Corp., is a friend of Wasserman Schultz. He hosted a dinner for her at a Philadelphia restaurant during the Democratic National Convention shortly after she resigned as DNC head.

The Weston lawmaker quit the top Democratic post after some of the emails revealed disparaging comments by DNC aides about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who former Secretary of State Clinton bested to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a separate email exchange, Chadwick Rivard, a top DNC researcher, warned White House aide Bobby Schmuck about another donor with South Florida ties.

Coping the email to a half dozen other DNC operatives, Rivard sent Schmuck a long background description of Palm Beach billionaire George Lindemann Jr., board president of the Bass Museum in Miami Beach who was once an Olympic equestrian hopeful as a highly skilled horse rider.

The biography, part of which came from the Lexis-Nexis database, included Lindemann's 1995 conviction on three counts of wire fraud. That case resulted from a federal probe that found 50 horses had been killed over two decades in acts of insurance fraud.

Lindemann, who has donated to Republican and Democratic politicians, received a 33-month term in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

DNC compliance director Alan Reed, who'd been copied on Rivard's email, rendered his verdict on Lindemann two hours later.

"I vote fail....again," Reed wrote.

To browse the entire Wikileaks trove of 19,252 DNC emails, click here: https://wikileaks.org/dnc-emails/

    

August 04, 2016

Zika funding situation 'getting critical,' Obama says

APTOPIX Obama
@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that the federal government needs Congress to set aside more money to fight the Zika virus, fast.

"Not only did the Republican-led Congress not pass our request, they worked to cut it, and then they left for summer recess without passing any new funds for the fight against Zika," Obama said. "Meanwhile, our experts at the CDC, the folks on the front lines have been doing their best in making due by moving funds from other areas, but now the money we need to fight Zika is rapidly running out.

"The situation is getting critical. For instance, without sufficient funding, NIH critical trials -- clinical trials could -- and the possibilities of a vaccine which is well within reach -- could be delayed. So this is not the time for politics."

Republicans such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have argued the Obama administration could choose to use funds designated to combat Ebola to combat Zika instead.

Here's a transcript of Obama's remarks:

Continue reading "Zika funding situation 'getting critical,' Obama says" »

July 28, 2016

Obama casts Clinton as rightful heir

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Twelve years to the day that as a young Illinois state senator he captivated Democrats by embracing the “politics of hope,” President Barack Obama on Wednesday enraptured another political convention — this time reasserting his vision after eight years in the White House.

“I was filled with faith — faith in America,” Obama said, recalling his breakout speech at the 2004 convention. Now, he insisted, “I am more optimistic about the future of American than ever before.”

He wasn’t a future candidate, a presidential nominee or a president seeking re-election. He was a man looking to protect his legacy by entrusting it to his one-time rival, former secretary of state and chosen successor: Hillary Clinton.

“Nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war,” Obama said. “But Hillary’s been in the room. She’s been part of those decisions.”

“Even in the middle of crisis,” he added, “she listens to people, and keeps her cool, and treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits.”

Once Obama finished, Clinton appeared at the convention in person for the first time. She gave Obama a bear hug, held his hand and waved. The nominee wisely chose to schedule the charismatic president’s speech on a different night from her own.

More here.

July 20, 2016

President Obama speaks to Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Zika

@PatriciaMazzei

The White House said Wednesday President Barack Obama had spoken by phone to Florida Gov. Rick Scott about a suspected case of locally transmitted Zika virus in Miami-Dade County.

Scott has criticized the Obama administration over its Zika response.

Here's what the White House said about the call:

The President spoke by phone today with Governor Rick Scott of Florida regarding the suspected case of mosquito transmission of Zika announced by the Florida Department of Health. This case would be the first documented Zika infection caused by a mosquito in the Continental United States.  The President recognized Florida's strong record of responding aggressively to local outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, and offered Federal support and technical assistance for Florida's ongoing case investigation and mosquito control efforts. He acknowledged Florida's close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC for Zika preparedness. The President also noted during the call that in addition to the $2 million that CDC has provided to Florida for Zika preparedness, CDC is anticipating it will award Florida $5.6 million in Zika funding through a CDC grant to be awarded this week.

July 19, 2016

Fact-checking the first night of the Republican convention

The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday in Cleveland with a theme of "Make America Safe Again," with a litany of speakers criticizing Hillary Clinton as a dishonest politician who, along with President Barack Obama, endangered Americans.

Exhibit A was the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

In an emotional speech, the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four victims, blamed Clinton for her son’s death and praised Donald Trump for being "everything Hillary Clinton is not."

"For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton," Smith said. "I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son."

Beyond Benghazi, speakers from Congress, reality television and law enforcement stressed the need for better border security and supporting the police amid national protests.

Let’s dive into the fact-checks from PolitiFact.