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Marco Rubio one of only five US senators given 100% by Koch Bros.

Barely a year in office and he already excels at taking orders from his big donors. The astroturf group called Americans for Prosperity, aka the political tool of the right-wing Koch brothers, ranks Marco Rubio with four other US senators at 100 percent and A+ for voting as commanded all the time. This link will take you to the Think Progress report on the AFP congressional scorecard.

Curious how Rubio stands out from his three Miami-Dade fellow Republicans in Florida’s US House delegation. The ethically challenged David Rivera (FL-25) gets along with a B grade from the Kochs, and the middling C is given to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21). The entire scorecard is available here.

Cuba commentary from Joe Garcia – We can’t ignore that things are changing in Cuba

Former Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia talks some Cuba in this two-part video interview done by Tracey Eaton, a journalist and blogger with experience in Cuba. If you are a Facebook friend of Joe Garcia you saw these segments in his feed during the last few days.

Your blogger here recommends a look if you haven’t already. Garcia is one of the most knowledgeable policy people on Cuba, having a wealth of family background, experience running the Cuban American National Foundation, consulting with the Obama Administration on relations with that large island to the south of Florida that has been run by the Castro brothers for half a century.

But, as he says, he’s never been to Cuba. That may change – if the communist authorities say yes to his recent application to travel when Pope Benedict XVI will be there in late March. Ah, springtime in Havana, when many Miamians with links to Cuba may be there to celebrate the pope’s pre-Easter trip.

Some highlights from the interview:

  • Everybody should go to Cuba – 400,000 went from the US last year under relaxed US rules.
  • It can’t be ignored that things are changing in Cuba, but not the regime’s intent to remain in power.
  • Obama is restructuring US government programs aimed at fostering civil society in Cuba.
  • No more Miami-centric US spending to please right-wing Cuban-Americans.
  • The US embargo is a failure but it’s like a religion, and Garcia was a bishop of that church in the past.
  • The emotional impact of the Cuban revolution is still powerful to many in Miami; revenge, however, has no future.

For a summary of changes in Cuba, check out this article in Progreso Weekly.

Part 1 of the interview with Joe Garcia:

Part 2:

Packed room for VAN training at FDP convention in Orlando

FlaDems Convention in Orlando

Overflow crowd for Alan Grayson speaking to Progressive Caucus at its first event at a convention.

Video on Occupy Miami in its third day at Government Center

Your blogger labored away with his little Camileo camcorder for this report on the Monday morning event where community groups pledged support for the Occupy Miami crowd.

Note that Santiago Leon, our Issues Committee chair and a DEC member, invited the whole crowd to come to the Democratic Party. Let’s hope for a landslide of new activists.

We also will see in this video Marleine Bastien, who ran for Congressional District 17 in the Democratic primary of 2010, pledging her support for the Occupy Miami movement.

The kickoff rally on Sunday at the Torch of Friendship in Bayfront Park drew possibly a thousand people including many DEC members, including former chair Bret Berlin, currently state committeeman of the Florida Democratic Party, with his children.

Cedric McMinn is new executive director of Miami-Dade Democratic Party

Your blogger likes this. Ball of fire — that’s the proper reaction to news that Cedric McMinn is executive director for the Miami-Dade Democrats. It’s the right thing to do going into an election year that we all know is the key to the future of the United States. And all eyes will be on Florida.

Thanks to Richard Lydecker, our chairman, for talking Cedric McMinn into this.

Here’s most of the news release issued for this announcement:

“With Cedric’s energy and extensive political experience, I am confident that the DEC will be well-positioned for victory in the 2012 Election,” said Richard Lydecker, chairman of the DEC. “With the unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County above 13%, a decrease in funding for education and the constant attacks on the working class, we are committed to ensuring the election of leaders who understand this community and will help bring prosperity to its residents.”

Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, “Cedric McMinn is a passionate young democratic leader and I am thrilled that he has accepted this challenge. He will do an exceptional job leading the Miami-Dade Democratic party in preparation for the 2012 elections.”

“Cedric is a rising star in South Florida and a strong grassroots advocate for Democrats up and down the ballot. I congratulate him on his new role with the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, and look forward to the Party reaching newer and greater heights,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

“I am both honored and excited to serve the Democrats of the largest county in the great state of Florida. Communication, organization and mobilization will be my top priority in order for the party to move forward and succeed,” said Cedric McMinn.

McMinn has worked as a Government Relations Specialist with the law firm Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. He brings to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party a wealth of knowledge with more than 8 years of experience in political and government engagement. He previously served as President of Miami-Dade Young Democrats and recently was honored as the 2011 Young Democrat of the Year. McMinn has worked as the Legislative Aide to former State Representative Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall and served as the Deputy Political Director for the 2008 Obama/Biden Presidential Campaign in Tampa, FL.

Mr. McMinn currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Miami Children’s Initiative and on the 2010-12 Florida Democratic Party Executive Committee appointed by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-17).

McMinn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University.

An excerpt of the president’s speech to start in a few minutes

The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities.  The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours.  The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.

Those of us here tonight cannot solve all of our nation’s woes.  Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.  But we can help.  We can make a difference.   There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.

I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away.  It’s called the American Jobs Act.  There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation.  Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight.  And everything in this bill will be paid for.  Everything.

The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple:  to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.  It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed.  It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.  It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services.  You should pass this jobs plan right away.

Source: White House Press Office

FL-Sen: Rubio exposes his shallow thinking and ghoulish sense of humor

This was no doubt a great moment for our young senator, Marco Rubio, to be invited by Nancy Reagan to give a speech at the Reagan Library. Too bad he doesn’t have much to say, and what he utters often is a cliche or nonsense.

The handlers there on Tuesday touted him as possibly the next thing to the Great Communicator that Ronald Reagan claimed to be. But was Rubio? If you have the strength, here’s the link to the whole event on C-Span. You’ll see him lose his place several times, check the text and jump around. Guy could use a teleprompter! Great communicator? Not!

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Senator-Marco-Rubio-R-FL-Remarks-on-the-Role-of-Government-in-America/10737423678-1/

Near the end, during the Q-and-A, he tries a ghoulish joke with his empty smile. Asked if he’d accept the nomination to be vice president, he said, “I have no interest in serving as vice president for anyone who could possibly live all eight years of the presidency.”  This was not a slip of the tongue, because he preceded it by saying “As I joked earlier today.” So this is something he’s actively turning over in his mind. If I were president, I’d certainly never go hunting with VP Rubio, nor eat his barbecue or drink his mojito.

The audience, by the way, didn’t laugh for so long that he kinda reminded them it was a punchline.

Here’s a Think Progress short piece on one aspect of his speech, where he condemns Social Security and Medicare and declares that these backbone social programs have made Americans lazy.  The Think Progress analysis is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t take the further step of asking why a US Senator doesn’t have a better mind. Why is he so shallow in his analysis of Medicare and Social Security? Well, I don’t know either.

There so many other aspects to these programs that have saved widows, the disabled and the elderly from poverty. Medicare is in long-term financial trouble because of skyrocketing medical costs, not because Americans have “become lazy.”  Social Security, far in the future, will have trouble paying current levels of benefits because tax rates are capped for the wealthy.

What does he say has happened? We used to save for these eventualities, but then the government took over the responsibility, and we got lazy, stopped saving.

This even though his own family has benefited from these programs, and he must know from the inside that’s not the way it goes. You can’t save enough now to have one serious illness with a week in the hospital, a bout of surgery, plus regular followups for the rest of your life.

In my family this has happened repeatedly. My father died of a heart attack at age 47, and survivor’s benefits provided a safety net for my mother and two younger sisters. I was already too old at 20 to benefit. Years later one of my sisters became a widow when her husband died in a traffic crash, and again, survivor’s benefits were essential support for her and her 11-year-old daughter. Years after that, I’m a heart patient on Medicare and getting decent doctoring — after paying into the system for 35 years. And I’m still paying two premiums, for Medicare and for the supplemental insurance, plus co-pays. And no one ever accused me of being lazy or not saving during my work career. Wake up, Senator! You must be dreaming.

I wonder: To whom does Rubio’s shallow portrayal of life in the United States ring true? We aren’t lazy. My mother and sister both went back to work when they become widows. We saved when we had a chance. We are not living off Social Security. We in retirement are living off our savings and investments, and Social Security provides a monthly minimum that helps maintain a careful lifestyle.

If Rubio thinks Ronald Reagan really hacked away at government spending, he’s flat wrong. This piece in The New Republic has an excellent chart showing the Reagan years with steady government spending as a percentage of GDP. Our Bill Clinton stands out for years in which the government’s spending declined as a share of GDP.

Rubio says we’ve built a government we can’t fund and calls this “an extraordinarily tragic accomplishment.” Really? Tragic? Can it possibly be “great communicating” to say we’re a tragic country? And the depressing effect of that pronouncement is not lifted when Rubio ends by saying the US still has to be a world leader.

The audience was seldom roused to applause though they did clap repeatedly when Rubio railed against government regulations. He did not mention the economic fiasco that followed lack of regulation of Wall Street.

The Rachel Maddow show’s report, of which I don’t find a video link,  started with the stumble that Nancy Reagan, a frail 90 years old, took as she came ever so slowly down the aisle on Rubio’s arm. The Maddow show had a headline saying that the gallant Rubio had rescued her from the fall. Well, I choose to see it differently. He was too eager to get to the podium and was rushing her. You can’t see it in the side view on the C-Span video, but if the Maddow show ever provides a link I’ll try to put it up and you’ll see that he’s ahead of the ancient first lady, whose steps are six inches if that, and he probably caused her to stumble in his impolite haste.

Maddow also makes good fun of what he said about infrastructure. He declares he is not against infrastructure, but it should only be “for economic development, not a jobs program.” How the heck do you separate those?

One last note. Rubio’s memory of his own wedding may be off. He told the crowd that he had only walked down the aisle with two people, his wife and Nancy Reagan. Well, we saw him walk Nancy Reagan down the aisle — albeit with difficulty. But what was his own wedding like? Usually it’s the father of the bride — not the groom — who walks her down the aisle.

I’m saying the guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He just makes it up.

DFA ad will tackle two of Florida’s worst: Allen West and David Rivera; FL-22, FL-25

Here’s an early look at the Democracy For America nationally backed ad that will go after Republican nay-sayers in the US House.

DFA has chosen Reps. Allen West, FL-22, and David Rivera, FL-25, as the first to have the ads broadcast in their districts, starting  around the NBC program Meet The Press.

Have a look at the familiar faces chosen to make the points — our friends and neighbors, fellow activists on the good side of politics. Feel free to pop their names into the comments.

Huffington Post gave this a blast of publicity on Tuesday, and don’t neglect to check out the website DontKillTheDream.com 

MoveOn demo at Miami office of Marco Rubio draws 20, plus tea party folks

Here’s a short video from Tuesday’s sun-broil outside Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral, in Miami’s western suburbs.

The police kept the crowd of about 20 separate from a smaller group of tea party people who showed up with pro-GOP banners.

Motorists voted with their horns for the MoveOn position much stronger than the tea party got.

This was one of many demos around the country in recent days as MoveOn presses its campaign to “Defend the American Dream.”

A big MoveOn demo is planned next Wednesday, Aug. 10, starting at 4:30 p.m. on US 1 and Stanford Drive, in front of the University of Miami.