Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

July 20, 2015

Did Barack Obama break his promise over the Iran deal as Marco Rubio says?

The agreement reached with Iran over nuclear weapons remained a top issue on the Sunday July 19 news shows, with critics of the deal urging that it be scuttled by Congress.

On CNN’s State of the Union, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told host Jake Tapper that "this deal violates promises the president made to the American people on multiple fronts. It is not an anytime, anywhere inspection process."

This issue also came up on the same day on CBS’s Face the Nation, when Secretary of State John Kerry said of anytime, anywhere inspections, "This is a term that, honestly, I never heard in the four years that we were negotiating. It was not on the table. There's no such thing in arms control as ‘anytime, anywhere.’ There isn't any nation in the world, none that has an anytime, anywhere. We always were negotiating was an end to the interminable delays that people had previously. "

On Rubio’s claim, we see two questions. First, does the Iran deal fall short of an "anytime, anywhere inspection process"? And second, did Obama promise that it would include an inspection regime that strict?

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found and see Rubio's full Truth-O-Meter record.

Jeb Bush's mixed record 'devolving Mount Tallahassee'

Jeb Bush returns to the Florida capital Monday brining the same anti-big-government message he used to win the Governor’s Mansion to his quest to take the White House in 2016.

The former governor, who served from 1998-2006, will kick off the first of a series of speeches outlining  his priorities at Florida State Universit. His target: “Mount Washington,’’ as he portrays himself as an outsider ready to reform.

 "Gov. Bush will talk about putting America's financial house in order and why that requires a president willing to challenge the culture of our nation's capital,’’ his campaign said. 

It’s the same approach Bush took 17 years ago, when he derided the state capital as “Mount Tallahassee” --  bureaucracy-laden and bereft of fresh ideas.In his first year as governor, Bush said he preferred community-based solutions and opposed “topdown” systems.

 “The expectation here isn't that you're supposed to be waiting for a message via pigeon from Mount Tallahassee,” he said. 

Continue reading "Jeb Bush's mixed record 'devolving Mount Tallahassee'" »

July 19, 2015

Poll: Jeb Bush leads Marco Rubio in Miami-Dade County -- even among Cuban-Americans

GOP 2016 Bush(3)


For Republicans in Miami-Dade County, the only place in the country that can boast two local entries in the 2016 presidential race, one favorite son is more favorite than the other, a new poll shows.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio 35-25 percent among registered GOP voters, according to the public-opinion survey conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International for the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald. No other contender in the Republican field of 15 declared candidates cracked double digits in the poll of Miami-Dade, the most populous county in the nation’s largest swing state.

Perhaps the most surprising finding in the poll is that Bush is more popular than Rubio even among Cuban-American Republicans, by 43-31 percent — even though Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants. The other Cuban American in the race, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, drew 7 percent support (so did “Undecided”).

“In spite of the fact that Jeb enjoys honorary Cuban status, he does that much better than the person who would be the first potential Cuban-American president of the United States,” pollster Fernand Amandi said. “It could be a very difficult number for Marco. When he can’t win over the heart of his base, what does that mean for his prospects of winning the primary in Florida?”

More here.

Photo credit: AP

Raquel Regalado far behind Carlos Gimenez in new poll on Dade mayoral race


With 13 months to go before the August 2016 primaries, school board member Raquel Regalado trails incumbent Carlos Gimenez by double digits in the Miami-Dade mayoral race. But Gimenez still finished second behind the undecided vote. 

Regalado, heir to one of the most prominent names in Miami politics, trailed Gimenez by 23 points in a survey done by Bendixen & Amandi International for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Of the 600 registered county voters polled on their pick in the mayoral race, 40 percent chose Gimenez and 17 percent chose Regalado, a two-term school board member and daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

While Gimenez easily topped his lone challenger in the survey, 43 percent of respondents opted not to pick a candidate. That left Gimenez, in office since 2011, the second-place finisher behind the undecided category with a little more than a year to go before the August 2016 primary that could decide the race. 

Check out the full results here

Calling IRS was act of frustration during tax season report shows


Nearly two-thirds of calls routed to customer service representatives with the IRS during tax season went unanswered, and those who did get through were on hold for on average 23 minutes, a new report issued to Congress this week said.

IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson said the numbers were far worse than they were a year ago, when 71 percent of the calls were answered and hold times averaged 14 minutes.

The problem, according to the report submitted to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, was that funding for the IRS is down 17 percent since 2010 and the agency had to handle the implementation of large portions of the federal affordable care act.

The call answer rate and wait times were even worse for tax payers that suspected that they were victims of identity theft.

The IRS answered only 17 percent of calls from taxpayers who called after being notified that their tax returns had been blocked by the Taxpayer Protection Program (TPP) on suspicion of identity theft, and the hold times averaged about 28 minutes,” the report to Congress stated.  “In three consecutive weeks during the filing season, the IRS answered fewer than 10 percent of these calls.”

 U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, is on the Senate Finance Committee.

Continue reading "Calling IRS was act of frustration during tax season report shows" »

Did Donald Trump actually say John McCain was a hero four times?

Donald Trump is facing intense bipartisan backlash after saying Vietnam War prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is "not a war hero," but an indignant Trump won’t apologize.

Trump defended his latest provocation on ABC’s This Week, adding that McCain "has done nothing to help veterans" and suggesting the senator should actually apologize to him for insulting Trump supporters. When pressed by host Martha Raddatz, Trump complained that his critics are taking his comments out of context.

"Four times, I said he is a hero," he said on July 19, citing a fact-check by journalist Sharyl Attkisson. "But you know … people choose little selective pieces. If you read what I say or watch what I say, which is even better, you’ll say that there was nothing wrong."

We took Trump’s advice and put his statement in context. See what Linda Qiu of PolitiFact found and see Trump's Truth-O-Meter record.

July 18, 2015

Miami-Dade is key to presidential candidates’ fundraising

via @adamsmithtimes @learyreports @eli_mur

The story of Jeb Bush versus Marco Rubio in the Sunshine State, new presidential campaign finance reports show, is a tale of two cities.

First, look to Tallahassee to see which 2016 candidate the GOP establishment favors:

Former Gov. Bush, whose onetime aides, advisers and operatives dominate the lobbying corps centered in the Florida capital, outraised former House Speaker Rubio by 15-to-1, more than $198,000 to nearly $13,000, according to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times.

Then look to Miami, where both candidates reside, to see how formidable a rival Rubio is to Bush:

Rubio raised $512,000 in Miami-Dade, the county where both men launched their presidential campaigns, nearly as much as Bush’s $557,000.

The reports detail donations to the actual campaign, which are capped at $2,700 for the primary and $2,700 for the general election. There again, Bush’s support from GOP elites is more apparent than his support from rank-and-file Republicans, who tend to make smaller donations.

“Marco’s done a great job over the last few years staying in touch with the base, and it’s paying off in small-dollar donations,” said Republican consultant John Wehrung.

More here.

Begin the unraveling? Donald Trump calls out John McCain for being 'captured' in Vietnam


Republicans looking for a way to go after the celebrity presidential candidacy of Donald Trump got their chance Saturday when Trump, who never served in the military, belittled the service of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was held prisoner for six years and tortured during the Vietnam War.

"He's a war hero because he was captured," Trump said at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. "I like people that weren't captured."

McCain criticized Trump earlier this week in an interview with the New Yorker in which McCain lamented that Trump. who had drawn thousands to a rally in Phoenix, hurt the GOP with his comments against Mexican immigrants that "fired up the crazies."

Trump called McCain a "dummy" on Twitter after the interview was published. But the real-estate magnate took it a step further -- and perhaps a step too far -- in Saturday's speech, which drew immediate backlash from his rivals and the party. Instead of backing down, Trump's campaign followed up with a statement continuing to bash McCain.

"I am not a fan [sic] John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA," the statement began (read it in full below). "He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the Vets."

"I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren't captured and are also heroes," Trump adds in the statement, which ends with a note about how his speech received "a long lasting standing ovation, which will be by far the biggest ovation of the weekend, and much congratulatory praise."

That certainly wasn't true elsewhere.

Sean Spicer, communications director and chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, issued a statement defending McCain.

Continue reading "Begin the unraveling? Donald Trump calls out John McCain for being 'captured' in Vietnam" »

Gov. Rick Scott orders National Guard recruitment centers to move to armories, citing Chattanooga

via @stevvebousquet

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Saturday ordering all six Florida National Guard recruitment centers to be moved to Guard armories. The order comes in reaction to Thursday's shooting rampage at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., that left four Marines and a U.S. Navy sailor dead.

Scott directed the state adjutant general, Michael Calhoun, to take three immediate steps:

* Relocate all Florida National Guard personnel working at storefront recruitment centers to move to the nearest armory as soon as possible.

* Begin discussions with local law enforcement agencies to arrange regular security checks at all Florida armories.

* Ensure that all qualified full-time guardsmen are armed for their personal protection.

In signing Executive Order No. 15-137, Scott said: "The state will take any every measure available to secure military personnel against the planned attacks of ISIS, including but not limited to securing the work areas and recruiting stations for the Florida National Guard, which the state directs."

The order also says Scott's administration will streamline the application process for military men and women to apply for concealed weapons licenses to ensure that they "can also adequately defend themselves at home."

--STEVE BOUSQUET, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

It's activist vs. Miami-Dade commissioner in historic-preservation fight

via @AndresViglucci

A contentious and consequential battle over the future of historic preservation in Bay Harbor Islands and Surfside has now generated a blistering and unusual face-off between a Miami-Dade commissioner and a veteran preservationist, complete with mocking YouTube video and dueling complaints of ethical violations.

In one corner: Powerful Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman, whose district includes Bay Harbor and Surfside, and who has aggressively led a charge against historic designation of buildings in either town.

In the other: Miami Beach activist and hotelier Mitch Novick, the assertive volunteer chairman of the county’s historic preservation board, who has presided over a push to save endangered Miami Modern and Art Deco buildings in both towns over the vocal objections of Heyman, town leaders and some residents.

Heyman, who had previously launched unusually public broadsides against the county’s historic preservation office for moving to protect significant buildings in both towns, took the first swing. She filed a confidential complaint with the county’s Inspector General’s office, claiming a possible conflict of interest on Novick’s part because he mentioned in an open hearing that he’s made a living restoring historic buildings in Bay Harbor and other places. Then she publicly broadcast her complaint in the middle of an appeal hearing on a historic designation in Bay Harbor that Novick supported.

Novick — who says he has no conflicts because he doesn’t own property in areas his board regulates — then swung back hard. He filed his own complaint with Inspector General Mary Cagle, claiming it’s Heyman who’s acted improperly. According to Novick, Heyman failed to disclose that she’s been carrying water in her preservation fight for developer Chateau Group, a campaign contributor that was contesting historic designation of its property in Surfside.

Novick didn’t stop there. He posted a video to YouTube — dubbing the commissioner “Surfside Sally” — that pokes fun at Heyman’s rambling and, according to Novick, “comically” uninformed anti-preservation tirades during a pair of public meetings.

More here.