Jeb Mum on Port of Miami Takeover

There’s an odd silence coming from Florida’s top executive, compared with other states threatened by port takeovers by the United Arab Emirates.

A Florida editorial declined to play up Jeb’s omission, but then again, it didn’t have to.

Sleep well, Florida. The president — and Jeb — have got your back.

The governors of states affected by the sale are raising hell, and rightfully so. They, along with congressmen from those states are threatening all manner of legislative and legal roadblocks.

The editors chose to ask even better questions.

But Tuesday, President George Bush vowed to veto any bill Congress might approve to block the deal. He told reporters, “This is a country that has played by the rules, has been cooperative with the United States, from a country that’s been an ally on the war on terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through.”

Would any of our “allies” in the Middle East allow the United States to oversee the operation of their ports and its national security? The answer’s pretty simple. They’re not that stupid. What’s that say about us?

Finally, how would you like to be the resident of a state where the major international port is controlled by the Arab world? Well, you are. Operations at the Port of Miami are being sold, along with others in New Jersey, New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

Sleep well. The president’s got your back.

Florida Republicans Up the Ante on Gay Marriage Ban

Having lost any claim to national defense (aka homeland security), fiscal responsibility, and limited government as core Republican values, Florida GOoPers are still hanging on to brand identity in one area: homophobia.

By many accounts the marriage amendment stands to mobilize religious conservatives who would likely vote Republican. Lee…said that has nothing to do with his supporting the party financing the effort

After sinking $150,000 of the $193,000 raised to put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage before the voters this year, the Florida Republican Party is digging deeper. They’re throwing another $150,000 at the failed initiative.

Determined to get a gay marriage ban on the ballot for Florida voters, the state Republican Party has doubled its initial investment in the effort to $300,000.

State Senate President Tom Lee said the additional $150,000 came after, the political committee working to amend the state Constitution, failed to get enough signatures in time to qualify for the 2006 ballot…

“I supported it because I know it’s an important issue to Republicans. I know it may not be more important than tax cuts, it may not be more important than property rights or whatever, but it is an element, just as the sanctity of life issues are an element of importance of our party,” Lee said.

Since gay marriage is already outlawed by the Florida legislature, Democrats think that what Lee really means is, “This is the only way we can get anyone who would vote for us to the polls.”

“It looks like they’re afraid they can’t win on the issues that actually matter to Floridians – issues like port security, offshore drilling, prescription drugs and class size reduction,” [State Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski] said.

By many accounts the marriage amendment stands to mobilize religious conservatives who would likely vote Republican. Lee is running for chief financial officer but said that has nothing to do with his supporting the party financing the effort.

No doubt he’s just concerned that his own marriage will fall apart if gays are allowed to marry. Let’s see, there’s a law against it, now they want an amendment barring it…what next? A proclamation from the governor? Or how about statutes in all 67 Florida counties? Yeah, that’ll turn out the base!

Katherine Harris is Named as “Representative A” in Cunningham Bribe Case

Over one year ago, PR reported on U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Stolen Elections) trying to divest herself of the same illegal contributions which former California Representative Duke Cunningham is going to jail for accepting.

“The congressman who got the most money is going to prison,” McLaughlin said. “The one who got the second-most money wants to be a senator. I would hope voters would look at that”

If you missed it the first time around, Harris took somewhere near $50,000, funneled through employees of defense contractor MZM Inc., whose employees also favored Duke.

After the employees complained about coercion, Harris offered — in the style of the DeLay-linked — to return the payola. Now the horse manootey is hitting the fan, and Harris’ new name is in legal circles is “Rep. A.”

Harris’ campaign attempted to return the campaign contributions to MZM employees but never received a response, the release said.

Harris acknowledged having contact with Wade and his firm…

Cunningham, a Vietnam veteran who represented a southern California district, resigned from Congress in November and pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Wade and MZM in exchange for help securing Pentagon contracts. Cunningham faces up to 10 years in prison.

In Wade’s guilty plea on Friday, the court document stated “Representative A” received $46,000 in “illegal contributions” from employees and spouses at Wade’s firm.

Harris is “Representative A.”


Jeb Going Squirrely Over Common Cause Victory

Columnists for the Orlando Sentinel outlined the perpetual piss-offedness of Gov. Jeb Bush, who this time is pissed at Common Cause for beating him at the Florida constitutional amendment game.

The governor then turned on Common Cause, saying he wasn’t satisfied that the organization had just disclosed top contributors to the $2.6 million Florida ballot campaign it has waged to have redistricting taken out of the hands of the Republican Legislature.

“I appreciate they gave up some of their donors. But what about the rest?” Bush said. “Where’s the outrage?”

Common Cause spokesperson Mary Boyle said, “the only secret squirrels we know about are hiding from Dick Cheney”

The list of 44 Common Cause contributors who gave $5,000 or more to the organization over the past year failed to include any big left-leaning donors such as George Soros, the financier who helped back the John Kerry presidential campaign.

Those major Common Cause contributors represented $1.3 million of the Florida campaign’s funding — with the remaining donations out of a pool averaging $50 each, the organization said.

But Bush isn’t satisfied. After earlier accusing Common Cause of raising “secret squirrel” money at “secret squirrel meetings,” he again raised the specter of the organization laundering its Florida contributions.

“What would happen if they gave a big transfer from the secret squirrel corporate headquarters in New York . . . down here for this?” Bush said.

“Common Cause of all people that tout themselves as being for good government and clean elections shouldn’t be participating in this. Where’s the outrage?” he said.

Common Cause spokesperson Mary Boyle called Bush’s allegations “ridiculous” and a “total diversionary tactic.”

“If the governor is still talking about ‘secret squirrels,’ ” she added, “the only secret squirrels we know about are hiding from Dick Cheney.”

Good one, Mary. Heh heh.

Jeb Criticizes Those Who Do the Same Thing as Him Only Better

Gimme a H! Gimme a Y! Gimme a P! Gimme an O! Gimme a… Aw never mind — just yell, “Jeb!”

Tallahassee Democrat:

”Democracy is imperiled a little bit when big donors that can’t get their way through the traditional way of creating policy through the Florida Legislature, (and) secret donors who do not disclose who they are, come into our state from out of state to advance in many cases a left-wing political agenda,” Bush told the crowd, ”to put things on the ballot that sound good but create long-term challenges for us.”

The executive director of Common Cause Florida…noted Bush had no problem with raising Florida cash for another state’s redistricting drive last year when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came calling.

The governor’s remarks were directed in part at Common Cause, a government watchdog group that has gathered enough signatures to put a redistricting ballot question before voters this year.

Common Cause raised $2.6 million from its national membership to cover the $2.8 million spent to gather the 611,000 signatures needed. Bush has been critical of the group over the last week for not volunteering the names of its donors.

Ben Wilcox, executive director of Common Cause Florida, said it is a nonpartisan effort and noted Bush had no problem with raising Florida cash for another state’s redistricting drive last year when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came calling.

Jeb also didn’t mind the Republican Party of Florida contributing $150,000 of the $193,000 raised to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot, despite the fact that the aforementioned Florida Legislature already passed a law years ago outlawing such unions. He also didn’t have a problem with the fact that the amendment’s sponsors passed the move off as a grassroots effort until the St. Petersburg Times exposed the funding last month.

Lack of Support Not Stopping Florida’s Anti-Gay Marriage Proposal

Supporters are claiming that a constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage in Florida — which is already banned by state law — is yet another victim of last year’s hurricanes. The amendment fell 155,000 signatures shy of the 611,000 needed to get on the ballot in 2006, despite a last-minute mobilization that included aircraft and a fleet of vehicles delivering petitions to the state capital.

The real purpose of the initiative was to turn out mouth-breathing voters of the type depicted in that scene from Young Frankenstein

Two other amendments were apparently unaffected by the storms, and will be up for a vote in the fall. One, opposed by Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican lawmakers, would create an independent panel to draw legislative districts. The other would ensure that money awarded to the state in lawsuits against cigarette makers is used to fund anti-smoking campaigns. Florida Times-Union:

“It just didn’t have the kind of financial support that these other ones do,” Bush said. “I think if it was on the ballot, it would pass by two- or three-to-one.”

The Republican Party of Florida put up $150,000 of the $193,000 raised for the anti-gay marriage ban, claiming it was needed to protect against those activist judges we hear so much about, who might take it upon themselves to overturn the law Florida already has. The real purpose of the initiative was to turn out mouth-breathing voters of the type depicted in that scene from Young Frankenstein, when the mob lofts torches and goes after the monster. Jeb is correct that they would likely vote “Hell Yes” in droves.

But lack of popular support isn’t stopping the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Baptist Convention, and Florida4Marriage.Org, headed by a wingnut personal injury lawyer named John Stemberger in Orlando, from forging ahead. The signatures stay on file for four years, and Stemberger wants to use them to qualify for the 2008 election. He also wants to waste the state Supreme Court’s time reviewing an amendment that won’t even be on the ballot this year. Tallahassee Democrat

…the group still wants the Florida Supreme Court to hold the oral arguments, scheduled for Wednesday, on the language of the proposed amendment…But the court isn’t required to review them until the year they would actually appear on the ballot.

”We’re hopeful they’re going to hear the case and not cancel the hearing,” Stemberger said Thursday. ”If we’re going to get an adverse hearing, we’d rather get that sooner than later.”

Well I guess you would, John, since if they find problems with this idiotic, pandering, hateful enterprise you’ll have to start all over. And there are one or two problems with it.

The ACLU of Florida, along with other gay- and lesbian-rights groups, plan to argue that the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment is deceptive because it could also deny same-sex partners other domestic benefits.

Just Wait Until I Tell the President on You!

The hometown news has a little more colorful reporting about the U.S. Representative from Florida’s wife how got ousted from the State of Union address, along with Cindy Sheehan for wearing a t-shirt reminding people about the troops. St. Petersburg Times:

Beverly Young said, “Wait until the president finds out.”

Young said she was sitting in the gallery’s front row, about six seats from first lady Laura Bush, when she was approached by someone from the Capitol Police or sergeant-at-arms office who told her she needed to leave the gallery.

She reluctantly agreed but argued with several officers in the hallway outside the House chamber.

“They said I was protesting,” she said in a telephone interview late Tuesday. “I said, “Read my shirt, it is not a protest.’ They said, “We consider that a protest.’ I said, “Then you are an idiot.”‘

Well, not really, Bev. Protesting is a crime in Washington, and if you thought for one minute you were exercising your right to free speech, it’s time to wake up and smell the facism.

They told her she was being treated the same as Cindy Sheehan, an antiwar protester who was ejected before the speech Tuesday night for wearing a T-shirt with an antiwar slogan and refusing to cover it up…

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police could not provide details about the incident but said, “She was not ejected from the gallery. She did leave on her own.”

No sense exaggerating, after all. It sounds like part of the problem is that Bev and her husband, The Honorable C.W. Bill, are used to ordering the hired help around since they have friends in high places.

Young’s husband, a Republican who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on defense, was unaware she was removed until after the speech. He said he was furious about the incident.

“I just called for the chief of police and asked him to get his little tail over here,” Rep. Young said late Tuesday. “This is not acceptable.”

Beverly Young said, “Wait until the president finds out.”

Oh no, you didn’t say that.

Money is No Object as Florida Republicans Race to Meet Ballot Deadline

If they’re going to whip up anti-gay hysteria, they better hurry. St. Petersburg Times:

…dozens of workers, a fleet of 55 vehicles and three aircraft would be pressed into service today to get enough signatures collected for Florida’s anti-gay marriage amendment

Groups seeking to place proposed constitutional amendments before Florida voters this fall have until 5 p.m. today to get enough signatures validated…

Volunteers who support a ban on same-sex marriage in Florida’s Constitution are among those racing against time. Orlando lawyer John Stemberger, chairman of, said the effort was about 200,000 signatures short Tuesday, but he said dozens of workers, a fleet of 55 vehicles and three aircraft would be pressed into service today to get enough signatures collected.

Well. What they lack in popular support, they make up in sheer moolah. Works for me.

As alert PR readers know, Florida Republicans have shelled out $150,000 of the $193,000 raised to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that will outlaw gay marriage, which is already outlawed by the Legislature. The whole exercise is intended to fire up rightwing voters, and is likely taking place in a voting booth near you too.

Florida: Where There’s a Hate Group for Every Aversion

What a way for Florida to begin Black History Month. The state has the dubious distinction of being No. 2 nationwide in number of organized hate groups. Orlando Sentinel:

Like anybody needed another good reason not to visit DisneyWorld

The state famous for tourism and endless sunshine has a disturbing side. It is home to 43 so-called hate groups, second only to South Carolina, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala., organization that has tracked such groups for 25 years…

The center, the Anti-Defamation League and an FBI investigator who has monitored Florida extremist groups attribute the state’s prominence on the hate-group list to its booming population, shifting demographics and the vestiges of racism.

Today, about 19 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic, 15 percent is black and about 4 percent is Jewish. Extremists target all three groups. Florida has about 18 million people.

So I guess there are just more people to hate in Florida? In nearby Jacksonville, according to a graphic supplied with the article, there are two skinhead groups, one neo-Confederate, one neo-Nazi, and two groups classified as “other.” On the other hand, Jacksonville is home to the nation’s third largest Cambodian Buddhist temple as well as the newly launched Stetson Kennedy Foundation. Kennedy, who lives near my own St. Augustine, is the author of The Klan Unmasked, first published in the ‘50s to expose the Klan and a neo-Nazi hate group called the Columbians. Stetson didn’t do his undercover work in Florida but maybe he should have.

Though the total number is small, it’s unclear how many people join hate groups. Few organizations release membership numbers, and those that do likely inflate them.

Generally, experts say, local chapters include a handful to several dozen members. The National Socialist Movement reports about 50 members in Orlando.

“Central Florida,” said Bill White of the National Socialist Movement, “is our strongest growing area in the state.”

Like anybody needed another good reason not to visit DisneyWorld. Still, Tampa is no slouch.

Officials with the Tampa unit of the neo-Nazi National Vanguard would not discuss their activities, referring all questions to Vanguard headquarters in Virginia.

The Tampa group is one of the best organized in the state. It has produced compact discs, rented billboards and flown white-power banners over the Daytona 500. After Hurricane Katrina, members went to Mississippi to help “white families in need.”

Florida. Gotta love it.