Hillary Clinton Archives - Page 3 of 124 - SaintPetersBlog

Want to ‘reduce emotional indigestion’ this holiday season? Report says be positive, self-aware, flexible

From a contentious election to a litany of tragedies, it’s safe to say 2016 has been a stressful year.

And this, according to a recent report from Queendom.com and Psychtests.com, could lead to “potentially unpleasant discussions around the dinner table this holiday season, aided and abetted, perhaps, by one too many cups of eggnog.”

Researchers at the company released a report Monday looking at traits that could come in handy this season and “reduce emotional indigestion.”

“The holidays are generally a joyful time, but it can also turn into a free-for-all where people hash out their difference and let their emotions loose and the free-flowing booze can strike down their typical inhibitions, if they have any in the first place,” said Ilona Jerabek, president of Montreal-based PsychTests AIM Inc. “It can put a real damper on holiday dinners.”

The report was based on an analysis of data collected from 4,092 people who took the company’s Emotional Intelligence Test. Researchers, according to the report, compared people who are happy with their relationships with those who aren’t to come up with some key traits to survive the holiday season.

A few suggestions? Be positive, self-aware, and flexible.

“Rather than worrying about other people’s conduct, focus on monitoring your own. Their behavior should not dictate your actions or how joyful your holidays will be — it’s your reaction that does,” said Jerabek in a statement. “This is why emotional intelligence has been linked to professional success as well as happy relationships: The onus is placed on the individual to learn how to deal with emotional situations and people by developing the traits and skills that will allow them to navigate through challenging circumstances and complex social interactions.”

One other way to avoid a squabble at your family’s festivities? Lay off the eggnog.

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Will Weatherford’s decision enhances, not removes, future options

I think Will Weatherford’s just-announced decision not to run for governor in 2018 merely delays the inevitable. I believe he will be Florida’s governor eventually, and that will be a good thing.

Weatherford, the Land O’Lakes Republican, is a smart, articulate, center-right conservative in the Jeb Bush tradition. He has a strong legislative resume, including a turn as House Speaker. At age 37, he also is young enough that he can afford to wait eight years, which is another way of saying “Merry Christmas, Adam Putnam.”

The sea certainly does seem to be parting among Republicans for Putnam to make his move on the governor’s mansion. Florida CFO Jeff Atwater has shown no appetite for the job. Attorney General Pam Bondi is more likely targeted for a job in Washington.

Weatherford would have been a formidable challenger, but says his top concern right now is family.

He has four children – the oldest is 8, the youngest is 2. Last year he and his brothers Drew and Sam launched Weatherford Partners, a venture capital group, and serves as managing partner. Tellingly, he did not fall into the Republican conga line in the presidential race. He said he did not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

His decision to sit out the governor’s race this time removes a lot of drama, for sure. Weatherford and Putnam are pals, but so were Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and we saw how that went.

If Weatherford had gotten into the race, it could have gotten bloody for Republicans. Having two candidates as strong and well-known as Putnam and Weatherford could have split the party, but what this does is increase the likelihood of a Putnam coronation for the nomination.

It allows Putnam to stay low-key for the next year or so, stockpiling cash and support while waiting for the Democrat slugfest between Gwen Graham (assuming her husband’s prostate cancer doesn’t worsen) and possibly Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Weatherford can campaign now for Putnam, and wouldn’t a photo of the two of them together on a platform make for a mighty fine poster for Republicans?

Weatherford will need to find a way to stay in the public eye. As he saw with Jeb Bush, sitting on the sidelines for too long in politics means someone else is getting all the headlines. A cabinet job or gubernatorial appointment to a public post could both keep him in the news and allow him to tend to family matters.

Deciding for now to wait doesn’t remove Weatherford’s options. If anything, it enhances them. If his aim is to one day sit in the governor’s chair – and, really, why wouldn’t it be – then stepping back now doesn’t hurt his chances one bit.

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U.S. election voted top news story of 2016

The turbulent U.S. election, featuring Donald Trump‘s unexpected victory over Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, was the overwhelming pick for the top news story of 2016, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The No. 2 story also was a dramatic upset — Britons’ vote to leave the European Union. Most of the other stories among the Top 10 reflected a year marked by political upheaval, terror attacks and racial divisions.

Last year, developments related to the Islamic State group were voted as the top story — the far-flung attacks claimed by the group, and the intensifying global effort to crush it.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain’s King Edward VIII.

Here are 2016’s top 10 stories, in order:

1. US ELECTION: This year’s top story traces back to June 2015, when Donald Trump descended an escalator in Trump Tower, his bastion in New York City, to announce he would run for president. Widely viewed as a long shot, with an unconventional campaign featuring raucous rallies and pugnacious tweets, he outlasted 16 Republican rivals. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton beat back an unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, and won the popular vote over Trump. But he won key Rust Belt states to get the most electoral votes, and will enter the White House with Republicans maintaining control of both houses of Congress.

2. BREXIT: Confounding pollsters and oddsmakers, Britons voted in June to leave the European Union, triggering financial and political upheaval. David Cameron resigned as prime minister soon after the vote, leaving the task of negotiating an exit to a reshaped Conservative government led by Theresa May. Under a tentative timetable, final details of the withdrawal might not be known until the spring of 2019.

3. BLACKS KILLED BY POLICE: One day apart, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fatally shot Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground, and a white police officer shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis. Coming after several similar cases in recent years, the killings rekindled debate over policing practices and the Black Lives Matter movement.

4. PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE: The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history unfolded on Latin Night at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people over the course of three hours before dying in a shootout with SWAT team members. During the standoff, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

5. WORLDWIDE TERROR ATTACKS: Across the globe, extremist attacks flared at a relentless pace throughout the year. Among the many high-profile attacks were those that targeted airports in Brussels and Istanbul, a park teeming with families and children in Pakistan, and the seafront boulevard in Nice, France, where 86 people were killed when a truck plowed through a Bastille Day celebration. In Iraq alone, many hundreds of civilians were killed in repeated bombings.

6. ATTACKS ON POLICE: Ambushes and targeted attacks on police officers in the U.S. claimed at least 20 lives. The victims included five officers in Dallas working to keep the peace at a protest over the fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. Ten days after that attack, a man killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Iowa, two policemen were fatally shot in separate ambush-style attacks while sitting in their patrol cars.

7. DEMOCRATIC PARTY EMAIL LEAKS: Hacked emails, disclosed by WikiLeaks, revealed at-times embarrassing details from Democratic Party operatives in the run-up to Election Day, leading to the resignation of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other DNC officials. The CIA later concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hacking in a bid to boost Donald Trump’s chances of beating Hillary Clinton.

8. SYRIA: Repeated cease-fire negotiations failed to halt relentless warfare among multiple factions. With Russia’s help, the government forces of President Bashar Assad finally seized rebel-held portions of the city of Aleppo, at a huge cost in terms of deaths and destruction.

9. SUPREME COURT: After Justice Antonin Scalia‘s death in February, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy. However, majority Republicans in the Senate refused to consider the nomination, opting to leave the seat vacant so it could be filled by the winner of the presidential election. Donald Trump has promised to appoint a conservative in the mold of Scalia.

10. HILLARY CLINTON’S EMAILS: Amid the presidential campaign, the FBI conducted an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private computer server to handle emails she sent and received as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton for carelessness but said the bureau would not recommend criminal charges.

Stories that did not make the top 10 included Europe’s migrant crisis, the death of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and the spread of the Zika virus across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Darryl Paulson: Selecting party chairs: The Florida experience

(Part 2 of 2)

 In the first part of this series, I discussed the process and candidates used by the Republican and Democratic parties to select their national party chairperson. We will now look at the process and candidates used to choose the Florida Republican and Democratic chairs.

After a disastrous showing by the Florida Democratic Party in the 2016 election, a fate which has become all too common for the party, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party decided not to seek a second term. Like recent Democratic Party chairs, Allison Tant agreed that “one and done” was the proper course of action.

Given Donald Trump‘s Florida victory, as well as a better than expected showing by Republicans in the Congressional and state legislative races, one might have expected incumbent party chair, Blaise Ingoglia, to be a cinch for re-election. That is not the case. Ingoglia faces opposition from Christian Zeigler, a Sarasota County Republican State Committeeman.

The race pits House member Ingoglia versus Senate Republicans who do not want the House and Speaker Richard Corcoran to control the supply of money. It also pits Gov. Rick Scott against party pragmatists.

Scott was incensed in 2015 when his choice to lead the party, Leslie Dougher, was defeated by Ingoglia. This rare rebuke of a governor’s prerogative to select the party chair, resulted in Scott telling donors to give money to his political action committee, Let’s Get to Work, instead of to the Republican Party of Florida. Senate Republicans pulled $800,000 out of the GOP account.

Twenty years ago, the Florida Republican Party, under the leadership of Tom Slade, was considered to be the premier state party organization in the nation. Today, after the fiasco of the previous chair Jim Greer and the efforts of Scott to decimate the state Republican Party, it more closely resembles the Keystone Kops.

At the very least, it more closely resembles Democratic Party operations (and that is faint praise).

Although the Florida Republican Party operations have been a mess for a number of years, the Democrats are approaching its third decade as a nonfunctioning party organization. The Democrats, due to their poor showing, have had a difficult time recruiting quality candidates and raising sufficient funds to support their efforts.

The Democrats lack of success at the polls has accelerated party squabbles. Every Democrat is looking for someone to blame for their poor showing, and the party chair is the easiest person to blame. The pettiness of Democrats can be seen in the 2016 election, where several potential Democratic candidates for chair were defeated in internal elections.

Alan Clendenin, Susannah Randolph, and Annette Taddeo were all defeated in races they needed to win to run for chair. The winner of the battle for state committeeman between Stephen Bittel and Dwight Bullard in Dade County will determine which candidate will run for party chairperson.

After losing the race for state committeeman in Hillsborough County after a controversial ruling by the county chair, Clendenin has moved to Bradford County in North Florida and was sworn in as the committeeman for Bradford County, making him once again eligible to run for state party chairperson.

Clendenin lost the election for the Democratic chair four years ago when he lost to outgoing chair Allison Tant by 139 votes.

It appears that Bittel is emerging as the last man standing, although there is still sufficient time for his campaign to be torpedoed. Bittel has been a major Democratic donor, which has led some Democrats to accuse him of trying to buy the position of chair.

Sen. Bill Nelson, the only statewide elected Democrat who will be up for election in 2018, says: “I think Stephen Bittel would bring that type of professionalism to the organization. We need a professional to run the organization and raise money.”

Bittel received a surprise endorsement from Keith Ellison, who is running for National Democratic Party chair. Ellison supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary, while Bittel was a backer of Hillary Clinton. One Revolution, an organization of Sanders supporters, has announced its support for Bullard, saying that “An extremely wealthy donor wants to buy his way to lead Florida’s Democratic Party and the only thing between him and control of the party is our political revolution.”

Bittel also won the endorsements of the Florida Educational Association and the Florida Service Employees Union, two important constituency groups within the Democratic Party.

Ingoglia, the incumbent Republican Party chair, is backed by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Sen. Marco Rubio and Susie Wiles, who managed Trump’s campaign in Florida. Wiles said that “I can say that the organization built under chairman Ingoglia’s leadership was a critical element in our success.”

With that backing and the Republican success in 2016, Ingoglia should be favored. But, with Scott sitting on the sidelines, he is really encouraging Republicans to back Zeigler.

On the Democratic side, no one should be foolish enough to predict what Florida Democrats will do. After all, they seldom know what they are doing.

___

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

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Fact check: Florida not recounting election votes

A story claiming Florida is set to recount votes in the presidential election because of fraud is untrue.

The story posted on bipartisanreport.com on Dec. 6 was headlined: “Florida Moves For FULL RECOUNT Of State Over Massive Voter Fraud.” It received more than 73,000 likes, comments or shares on Facebook before it was removed from the site.

The story cited a report from the Tallahassee Democrat, which was republished by the Detroit Free Press, on a lawsuit filed on behalf of three central Florida voters. The voters alleged hacking, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems and demanded a recount of every paper ballot in the state.

A judge refused to issue an order to prevent electors from casting ballots for Republican President-elect Donald Trump. A higher court upheld that ruling Friday.

Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Florida by more than 112,000 votes.

Florida’s secretary of state certified the election results on Nov. 22 and no elections officials have moved for a recount.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Darryl Paulson: Selecting the national party chairperson

(First of two parts)

The state and national elections are over. At least most of them are over. Still to be decided is the person who will chair the Florida and national party organizations. Is it much ado about nothing, or do party chairs make a difference?

Selecting the party chairperson is normally easier for the victorious party. Whoever wins the governorship or presidency usually can handpick the leader of the party. This was not the case in 2015 when Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s choice to head the Florida Republican Party, Leslie Dougher, was defeated by challenger Blaise Ignoglia.

After winning the presidential race against Hillary Clinton, President-Elect Donald Trump selected Ronna Romney McDaniel to head the Republican Party. McDaniel, the niece of Mitt Romney, replaces party chair Reince Priebus who was chosen to be Trump’s chief of staff. McDaniel served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and played a key role in Michigan voting for the Republican presidential nominee for the first time since 1988.

McDaniel will become only the second woman to chair the Republican Party, the other being Mary Louise Smith, who was appointed by President Gerald Ford to head the party in 1974. The 168 members of the Republican National Committee will confirm McDaniel at their January 2017 meeting.

With the surprising loss of Hillary Clinton, the race for party chair is wide open. As the outgoing president, Barack Obama can influence, but not select the incoming party chair. As the losing candidate, Clinton will have no voice in picking the new head of the party.

The last Democratic Party Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, left the position in the midst of widespread controversy. Bernie Sanders supporters accused Wasserman Schultz of blatant favoritism for Clinton. The scarcity of Democratic presidential primary debates and the scheduling of those debates at non-prime viewing times was a major criticism of Wasserman Schultz.

The final straw occurred when WikiLeaks released emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) showing favoritism for Clinton, led to Schultz’s resignation at the close of the Democratic convention. Her fate was sealed when Schultz was loudly booed after addressing the Florida delegation and agreed not to gavel open the convention.

Donna Brazile was selected as interim chair of the Democratic Party until a permanent chair is elected by the DNC at its February meeting. The selection of a new party chair may help mend divisions within the party, or it may further divide the party and lead to an internal civil war between the establishment and progressive forces. Three months ago, everyone thought this would be a battle that Republicans, and not Democrats would be facing. Brazile warned Democrats that they need to “pick ourselves up” and not “pick each other apart.”

If an establishment candidate wins, the progressives will be angered that their views have been once again neglected by the party and some may seek to form their own political movement. If the progressives win, the Democrats run the risk of moving too far to the left and moving even further away from voters who gravitated to Trump. A similar problem confronted Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s when Republicans effectively branded Democrats as “San Francisco Democrats” who moved too far to the left.

Among the potential Democratic Party Chair candidates are South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Party Chair Ray Buckley, along with Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

On December 15, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announced his candidacy for party chair, and many believe he is the preferred candidate of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Ellison is backed by the progressive wing of the party and has the endorsement of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He is also supported by the outgoing Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, as well as the incoming leader, Chuck Schumer.

Critics have several concerns about an Ellison candidacy. As the only Muslim member of Congress, some are concerned that Dems will be accused of engaging in identity politics with a group that is not trusted by many American voters. Ellison’s writings have been critical of Israel and supportive of Louis Farrakhan and the Black Muslims. Ellison supported Farrakhan after he was attacked for his racist and anti-Semitic views, as well as his support for a separate state for blacks.

Another problem for Ellison is an issue that faced Wasserman Schultz. Can a sitting member of Congress have the time for both jobs and doesn’t that create conflicts of interest? Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, among others, has said the Democrats need a full-time chair. As a result of this criticism, Ellison has vowed to resign his congressional seat if selected as party chair.

Former presidential candidate and former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean flirted with serving as chair before backing away. Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm‘s name was often mentioned for the job, but she has announced that she is supporting Perez, the most recent candidate to enter the field.

Where Romney McDaniel has the race for Republican Party Chair all wrapped-up, the Democratic field is wide open, and some of the announced candidates may drop out before the February vote of the DNC; others may enter the race if they see all of the current candidates unable to attract widespread support.

Also, Democrats have had a dual chair system before, so it is possible that both an establishment and progressive candidate might emerge. Wouldn’t that make things fun?

(Part 2: Selecting the Florida party chairs)

___

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

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Martin Dyckman: In post-truth America, responsible news more important than ever

There’s a scene in the musical “Chicago” that could be adopted virtually intact when they make the one I’d call “Trumpistan.”

It’s the number in which a cunning criminal defense attorney, Billy Flynn, works the press as a chorus of puppets, dangling from strings, as they dance to his tune and parrot his words.

That Donald Trump did that with much of the media is, aside from the result itself, one of the two most uncomfortable truths about the 2016 election. The other is that truth itself didn’t matter to enough people.

The media is many things, as Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron remarked in a commencement speech last week. It ranges from responsible entities such as his paper and The New York Times to social media posts that are accountable to no one and are petri dishes for fake news. In between are the cable networks that let Trump mesmerize them.

The Post and the Times reported heroically. So did many others. As Baron put it, the mistake was in not catching on to how Trump’s bombast was working.

But as he added, “There were some lapses … For one, cable networks should not give any candidate hours upon hours of live coverage for virtually every rally held. That is not journalism.”

“All that breathless cable coverage of Trump’s Twitter wars and the live shots of his plane landing on the tarmac didn’t help either,” writes Susan B. Glasser, who edited POLITICO during the campaign, in a Brookings Institution essay, “Covering Politics in a ‘Post-Truth’ America.” Read it here.

Certain print and network editors relentlessly led their front pages and TV screens with more pictures and coverage of Trump than he deserved or any other candidate could command. He was, of course, the most repulsively hypnotic and the most outrageous. But for every voter put off by his mean looks and his lies, there was another who said, “Yeah!”

Trump played the media like a pipe organ. He also made it his foil, with nonstop attacks — still continuing — on what it said about his policies, his reckless tweets, and even his hotels and restaurants. Calling out, sometimes by name, the reporters who covered his rallies, he worked the crowds to frenzies and put the journalists in fear of their lives.

Glasser’s essay details the other uncomfortable truth of the election — that truth itself is losing its potency.

” …(T) he media scandal of 2016 isn’t so much about what reporters failed to tell the American public; it’s about what they did report on, and the fact that it didn’t seem to matter,” she writes. “Stories that would have killed any other politician — truly worrisome revelations about everything from the federal taxes Trump dodged to the charitable donations he lied about, the women he insulted and allegedly assaulted, and the mob ties that have long dogged him — did not stop Trump from thriving in this election year. Even fact-checking perhaps the most untruthful candidate of our lifetime didn’t work; the more news outlets did it, the less the facts resonated. Americans are increasingly choosing to live in a cloud of like-minded spin, surrounded by the partisan political hackery and fake news that poisons their Facebook feeds.”

Trump means to keep feeding on that. His postelection tour has been only to states that he won; he could not care less about voters elsewhere who saw him for what he is. Many of his voters don’t believe even the unanimous view of our intelligence agencies that Russia influenced the election. Trying to tell them otherwise recalls the old adage and attempting to teach a pig to sing: it does nothing but frustrate you and annoy the pig.

Glasser cites a Pew Research Center report that most Americans got their information from questionable sources. Social media were the primary source for 35 people age 29 and under. For those over 50, the leading source was cable TV. Among conservatives, nearly 50 percent relied only on Fox.

Trump’s percentage of the popular vote is 47th lowest among the last 49 election winners. Hillary Clinton led by nearly 3-million votes. But a half of all Republicans say they believe Trump won the popular vote. They will never believe otherwise because they just don’t want to.

If you’re looking for a simple solution to America’s crisis of willful ignorance, I don’t have one.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it’s too late for tears; the hour calls for ceaseless toil and copious sweat. We can’t persuade those who will not hear. Our call, rather, is to work harder to win the Electoral College as well as the popular vote in the next election and to take back the Congress. We need to work tirelessly to remind policymakers in Congress and capitols that the truth still matters to more people than those who ignore it, and remind them that Trump has nothing resembling a “mandate.”

Emails and calls to Congress cost nothing. The First Amendment belongs as much to the individual citizen as to the media. Use it.

And subscribe, if you don’t already, to a responsible newspaper or two. You need newspapers now, more than ever. They need you now, more than ever.

___

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

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Mitch Perry Report for 12.19.16 – Florida electors feel the heat while the rest of the nation freezes

Florida’s 29 Republican presidential electors gather in Tallahassee today to vote for well, presumably for Donald Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State on November 8.

While the world awaits to see if there’s any movement with the 290 nationwide Republican electors, our electors will be voting in perfect conditions, with the forecast set for 65 degrees today in the Capitol.

That’s a far cry from the weather conditions of electors from much of the country today, and should be noted.

More than three dozen record low temperatures were set in the Midwest and Plains this past weekend with actual air temperatures in the 20s and 30s below zero, while wind chills plunged into the minus 40s and even a few 50s at times in some cities. Subzero low temperatures were observed as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle Sunday morning. Huron, South Dakota and Marshall, Minnesota each set a record yesterday at 31 degrees below zero.

I’ve got the air-conditioning running in my home this morning, which, let’s face it, sort of kills the whole Christmas/holiday feeling. But I’ll refrain from complaining when I see the images of multi-car pileups and outright deaths around the nation due to icy road conditions.

Back when this presidential season really kicked into high gear – this past February in New Hampshire, I dealt with an inclement weather situation that, well, not to be dramatic, could have killed me.

On the Friday before the first primary in the nation, New Hampshire was rocked by a blizzard that, frankly, freaked me out. Considering I’ve only lived in San Francisco and Tampa, I haven’t dealt with a lot of snow conditions. Sheltered yes, but the fact is, I almost died driving down a turnpike from Manchester to Nashua, when I hit my brakes and went skidding over the road.

Yes, it’s annoying not to really get into the Christmas spirit when you have to turn your air conditioner on, but considering what it’s like in 80 percent of the rest of the country, those of us waking up today in Florida are damned fortunate folks.

As far as Florida’s electors? Yes, their feeling some intense pressure to reconsider voting for Trump. But none of them say they’re going to flip, so while there will be a lot of press coverage on this today, is it really that big of an event?

In other news..

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission is closer to extinction after a vote by the local state delegation.

South Florida Democrat Tim Canova says he may run again against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2018.

Hillsborough Clerk of the Circuit Courts Pat Frank got in the local delegation’s face on Friday calling for more funding for her office.

And Alan Grayson is not completely done in Washington. On Friday he announced two bills trying to hold Donald Trump accountable.

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In Tampa, Bill Nelson calls Russia hack on DNC email server “closer to an act of war”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson Thursday called the Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s email system an unprecedented outrage that is “closer and closer to an act of war.”

Speaking to reporters at his Tampa district office, the Florida Democrat made his most outspoken comments yet about the continuing-to-evolve story.

Last Friday, the issue reached a new level of attention, after The Washington Post reported that a secret assessment by the CIA concluded Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than undermining confidence in the U.S. electoral system.

“Not only is this an outrage,” Nelson said. “This is unprecedented. This is crossing the line, closer and closer to an act of war.”

Nelson added that hacking information to influence an election is damaging to the integrity of an election.

“I think there’s going to be serious ramifications of this, regardless of where you hear that different people in the intelligence community have differing opinions,” he said. “Listen: When there is a high consensus of high confidence, that’s the highest level of acceptance of intelligence. And that consensus is out of the CIA? I believe it.”

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor was also condemning the hacking into the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email server account on Thursday.

“The United States must hold Russia accountable for cyber attacks against our country, our electoral system and the private intellectual property of American businesses,” she said in a statement. “These Russian cyber attacks were not a move against any one party, they were a move against our nation and all Americans. The United States also should consider broader sanctions against the Russian government following a robust, bipartisan investigation to confirm the extent and identities of responsible individuals, including Vladimir Putin himself. “

Castor also lashed out at President-elect Trump’s laissez-faire attitude toward the Russians in this story.

“President-Elect Trump should reassess his knowledge and rhetoric toward Russia and be more circumspect in maintaining the dignity of the office upon which he is about to enter,” she said. “America must stand strong and not capitulate to Russia and President [Valdamir] Putin and their often malicious ends.”

At his news conference, Nelson was asked by this reporter if any of Trump’s selections to his Cabinet gave him pause. Nelson referred to Arizona Senator John McCain’s concerns, but not his own.

“You take John McCain — he’s got some serious problems so we want to see what through the examination of the testimony to what degree does his friendship and past business dealings with Russia and Putin how would that possibly affect him in representing the national security of this interests as Secretary of State, and I look forward to that inquiry.”

There are now at least 54 of the 232 Democratic presidential electors who are now calling on national intelligence director James Clapper to authorize a briefing ahead of the Electoral College meeting on Dec. 19 to choose the next president.

Only one Republican — Texas’ Chris Suprun — has joined their call.

Nelson said it wasn’t going to happen, and that it shouldn’t happen.

“The electors are not going to be granted access to the deepest secrets of this country,” he summarily declared Thursday. “They’re going to have to go on and do their constitutional duty, regardless of them being able to be briefed on intelligence matters. Just to be able to receive classified information, a person has to go thru an extreme vetting process to make sure that there’s nothing in their background that would then compromise that information in the future.

“That’s simply not going to happen between now and next Monday.”

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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.

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