Donald Trump

Another Fla Dems-backed TV ad starring Trump

Florida Dems are unleashing a TV ad using the man who is sure to become Democrats’ most popular whipping boy — President Donald Trump — in the battle for an open Miami-Dade County state Senate seat.

Democrat Annette Taddeo and Republican Jose Felix Diaz are duking it out over SD 40 after emerging as the winners in last month’s special election primaries. The redrawn Senate seat became available when former state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, was forced to step down after a profanity-laced and racially charged outburst at a private club midway through this year’s legislative session.

The ad, released in English and Spanish in the district where 75 percent of the population is Hispanic, links Diaz — a supporter of the president who once appeared on his TV show, “The Apprentice” — opens with Taddeo watching the now-infamous clip of Trump slamming a bad guy in a WWF stunt.

“Families are too busy to worry about this drama,” Taddeo says, after turning off the TV.

She later alleges that “Jose Felix Diaz supports Trump’s every move,” highlighting services for seniors and coverage of pre-existing medical conditions that would be lost if Trump gets his way and kills the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.”

The Florida Democratic Party announced the launch of the ad not long after national Dems said they intend to fork over $150,000 in the SD 40 race.

Yesterday, state Democrats released an ad tying former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker to Trump. Baker is trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Rick Kriseman.

Jeb Bush, Dr. Oz, urge Trump to deem opioid crisis a national emergency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and TV sensation Mehmet Oz, better known as “Dr. Oz,” are urging President Donald Trump to declare the opioid epidemic sweeping the country a national emergency.

Bush, Oz and a handful of advocates penned an op-ed for HuffPost, urging the president to heed the advice of the White House Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, created by Trump earlier this year.

“The declaration of a National Emergency would give this epidemic the full attention it deserves and allow states to access federal resources to act swiftly and definitively to save the lives of more than 33,000 Americans annually through evidence-based treatments and programs that have been proven to work,” Bush and the others wrote.

Jim Hood, CEO of Facing Addiction, was among those pleading with Trump to take action.

The non-profit organization has launched an online campaign asking people to sign a letter to Trump — who’ll get a briefing on the issue today from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and the members of the commission asking for a national emergency declaration.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican mulling a run for governor, will help host an event in Palm Beach County today focused on curbing deadly opioid abuse in Florida, one of the state’s hardest hit by what some advocates are calling a pandemic.

Florida Dems launch TV ad in St. Pete mayor’s race

The Florida Democratic Party is running a TV ad aimed at keeping St. Petersburg blue.

The mayoral race is a rock ’em, sock ’em battle not only between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat, and Republican Rick Baker, a former mayor who left office in 2010.

The November election is also viewed as a contest between state Dems and Republicans, and could foreshadow Democrats’ ability to score in legislative and statewide races next year.

The ad puts Baker on the “Extreme Team” alongside President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee backed by Baker. (Note the ominous clouds in the background while the Reds are on the field).

“Baker is weak, out of touch with our values,” a voice over proclaims.

In contrast, the ad links Kriseman, a former state representative who took over as mayor three years ago, with former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and hometown Congressman Charlie Crist.


Rubio to Venezuelans: Fat leaders smile while you starve

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made a direct appeal to Venezuelans, showing his support for the “gente” after a controversial vote that bolstered the power of President Nicolás Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump branded Maduro a “dictator,” and his administration imposed financial sanctions on Maduro. The country has been roiled by violence for months, and at least 10 people were killed Sunday, according to reports.

Food shortages have been a major issue for Venezuelans embroiled in what appears to be the makings of a civil war.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, issued a message of solidarity broadcast on Globovisión last night throughout Venezuela, according to a press release distributed by his office this morning.

In it, Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles, uses Venezuela leaders’ physical appearance as proof of a corrupt government.

“Mientras el pueblo lucha cada día para alimentar a sus familias, ¿Ha notado usted, cuántos de sus líderes han engordado?,” Rubio said.

In English, what he said was, “While the people of Venezuela struggle each day to feed their families, have you noticed how many of your leaders have gained weight?”

He also called out spending by Venezuelans in South Florida as evidence of “vast amounts of wealth stolen from you by the families of those in power and those who support them.”

“The vast horse ranches in Wellington, Florida and the mansions in Gables Estates. The private jets at our airports and $10,000 shopping sprees at the Mall at Merrick Place,” Rubio said. “We see them flying into Miami, enjoying luxuries few Americans themselves enjoy, and then return back with a smile on their face. As if to say, we can do anything we want, anywhere we want, and no one can stop us.”

The translation is below the video.


Good evening,

I am speaking to you tonight from Washington, D.C. But I come to you not as a United States Senator, but as someone who was born and raised in a community shaped by the events of our hemisphere.

The over 1 million Cubans forced to flee their homeland because of the Castro dictatorship. The tens of thousands of Nicaraguans forced to begin life in a new country because of the Sandinistas. And now, sadly, the thousands of your fellow countrymen who seek asylum because of recent events.

The exodus of these people to the United States has enriched our country. And it has made the city of my birth and the state I represent here in Washington among the most vibrant in the world.

But it also divided families, killed dreams, and robbed these nations of the talents of its people.

The root cause of all these tragedies is not a battle between the political left and right. For plenty of nations in this hemisphere and around the world have found how to provide a space for both points of view in its political system.

The root cause is tyranny.

Tyranny that unjustly imprisons and even kills those who the tyrants see as a danger to their power.

Tyranny that manipulates the power of government to close off space for those with different points of view.

Tyranny that ultimately concludes it cannot hold on to power if it must submit to free elections and a free press.

A close relative of tyranny is corruption. For with tyranny comes unchecked power.  And in the words of the wise British politician Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

I have seen firsthand the corruption which results from the absolute power now in the hands of a privileged few in Nicolas Maduro’s government.

The vast horse ranches in Wellington, Florida and the mansions in Gables Estates. The private jets at our airports and $10,000 shopping sprees at the Mall at Merrick Place.

Vast amounts of wealth stolen from you by the families of those in power and those who support them.

While the people of Venezuela struggle each day to feed their families, have you noticed how many of your leaders have gained weight?

While many struggle to access basic medicines, when was the last time a relative of someone in power in Venezuela died because they couldn’t get prescription medication?

We see them flying into Miami, enjoying luxuries few Americans themselves enjoy, and then return back with a smile on their face. As if to say, we can do anything we want, anywhere we want, and no one can stop us.

And it was this, as much as anything else, which led me to take up this cause here in Washington.

The United States has its own challenges, both at home and abroad. But as someone raised in a community of so many people who were victims of tyranny and corruption in the nation of their birth, I simply could not and would not stand by silently while history repeated itself in my time.

We have seen undemocratic leaders come to power in our hemisphere by manipulating and even abusing the instruments of democracy before. But yesterday, for the first time in almost four decades, we witnessed an attempt to formally and openly destroy the last remnants of democracy in a neighboring nation.

As tyrants usually do, they seek to cover their failures by blaming their opposition at home and others abroad. Thankfully, the people of Venezuela are too well informed and too sophisticated to fall for their tricks.

There is no U.S. economic blockade on Venezuela. Yet the economy of a rich nation is in shambles, because the Maduro government has given away your oil and much of your sovereignty to Cuba.

Multiple nations and the Catholic church has offered to deliver supplies of food and medicine for your people, but the Maduro government has refused to allow it, because it uses access to food and medicine as a way to punish its opponents and reward those who remain loyal.

And every few months, the Maduro government sells oil to China and Russia for far below market value in exchange for cash. Those in power take a percentage of it for them and use the rest to make interest payments on the old debt, so they can keep borrowing money to do the same all over again.

Now, speaking to you as a Senator of the United States, I state at the outset that it is neither my right nor my intention to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. But all nations have a right to determine with whom they seek to have relations and what the nature of those relations should be.

I for one, seek to have peaceful and respectful relations between the United States and Venezuela. But a Venezuela represented by legitimate and elected leaders. Not with leaders who have seized power without the consent of those they claim to represent.

For the United States, or any nation, to accept a legitimate a government which holds on to power through intimidation and brutality, is equivalent to condoning those actions. It would be a betrayal to the principles our nation was founded on. And it would be to abandon the people of Venezuela.

In this struggle, know neither we nor you are alone. Since last night’s fraudulent exercise, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and other nations from across the world have joined in announcing they do not recognize this constituent assembly.

In the days to come, you can expect the President of the United States to impose sanctions against even more individuals who have carried out and benefited from the tragedy that faces your nation.

And yes, it is my hope and my expectation, that the President will impose sanctions on economic sectors of the Maduro regime in a way that does not harm the people, but deprives their corrupt government rulers from continuing to enrich themselves by stealing the treasure of a wealthy nation.

My closing message to you is this. You are not alone.

Your cause is being spoken about here in Washington. At a time of deep divisions in our own politics, both the left and the right here in the United States support the people of Venezuela and condemn the Maduro government. Even those here who sympathized and defended the late Hugo Chavez, condemn the direction Nicolas Maduro has taken your country.

Ultimately, the way out of the tragedy before you is not violence or armed conflict.  Venezuela is only a free and fair election away from a better future.

If the Maduro regime is so confident in the support of its people, then why not schedule the free and fair election called for in your constitution? Why not submit yourselves to the people in an election that recognizes the principles of one person and one vote?

Why not free those imprisoned for their political views so they can participate in your national debate?

And why not recognize the power of a National Assembly elected directly by the people?

For Nicolas Maduro, who I am sure is watching, the current path you are on will not end well for you.

Unlike Fidel Castro in 1959, there is no Soviet Union left to subsidize your government for the next 30 years. The loyalty of many around you depends entirely on your ability to continue to provide them with privileges most in Venezuela no longer have. When you can no longer provide them toilet paper, toothpaste and bread, they will no longer have any reason to be with you.

And I assure you, that already, there are those who yesterday wore their red shirt while celebrating the Constituent Assembly on national television, but this morning were already plotting to take your place when the time was right.

There is only one way forward, elections, freedom and peace.


I will continue to pray that God create the space for this to happen.


And we will continue to stand with the brave people of Venezuela until it does.


Trump looped into passenger rail dispute

unnamed(4) Critics of the return to passenger rail service along Florida’s East Coast tracks are invoking President Donald Trump in an attempt to bolster support.

In a July 24 letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Acting Assistant Secretary Lana Hurdle, the well-heeled residents’ group, “Concerned Citizens Against Rail Expansion,” contends that the Brightline private commuter rail service could have a negative impact on the safety of the part-time Florida man who now occupies the White House.

“From a safety perspective, the U.S. Secret Service and others responsible for the safety of the President should be asked to consider the safety implications that could result from speeding up freight trains (carrying dangerous substances including LNG) interspersed with fast moving AAF passenger trains on the same tracks,” the 6-page letter asserts. “These security and policy considerations should be fully examined before a RRIF loan decision is made.”

CARE last year asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to look into the potential impacts that could arise related to Florida Power & Light’s nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island by adding passenger trains to existing freight traffic on the rails that run along the western bank of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located within two miles of  existing and operational FEC tracks, which will be used by the colorful trains developed under Florida East Coast Industries for its All Aboard Florida system.

In the recent missive, the group asserted that rail traffic could have an up or down impact on nearby property values.

“If the loan is made, some — including the proponents of the project — will argue that the AAF project benefits the neighbors of the three proposed rail stations in Phase I,” the letter states. “This includes the President’s Mar-a-Lago Resort, which is located near the West Palm Beach Station. Therefore, granting the loan arguably impacts the President’s property. Critics may argue the loan creates an improper benefit to a private business of the President’s. An alternative argument that we believe is more accurate is that the AAF project creates safety risks to President Trump and reduces the value of nearby properties such as Mar-a-Lago.”

Posted by Jim Turner.

Deutch leads charge to keep funding for teen pregnancy prevention program

Congressman Ted Deutch, a Palm Beach County Democrat, is blasting President Donald Trump’s administration for cutting funding to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, or TPPP.

Department of Health and Human Services is eliminating $213.6 million in spending on the program, launched by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2010.

The money for the program — reauthorized by Congress just a few months ago — has been distributed to 81 organizations throughout the country, including Fort Lauderdale-based OIC of South Florida and Trinity Church in Miami, according to a press release from Deutch, and was supposed to last for another two years.

Deutch and more than 100 other members of Congress wrote to HHS Secretary Tom Price, asking for an explanation of what they called an abrupt cancellation of the program, eliminated by Trump in his proposed budget.

“The callousness of this overreach can also not be overstated. At a time when young people are most in need of information and education to protect their sexual and reproductive health, this Administration is denying evidence and science. Young people deserve better,” the lawmakers wrote.

Read the letter here.


Uh-oh? Psychiatrists now free to opine about Trump’s mental health

Could the early morning and late-night tweets from @realdonaldtrump have anything to do with it?

Shrinks are doing away with the “Goldwater” gag rule that barred psychiatrists from talking out loud about the mental health of public officials.

The American Psychoanalytic Association’s executive committee told members in an email this month that they aren’t bound by the rule, according to a story by STAT’s Sharon Begley.

“Reporters, pundits, and government officials “have been stumbling around trying to explain Trump’s unusual behavior,” from his seemingly compulsive tweeting to his grandiosity, said Dr. Leonard Glass, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. The rule against psychiatrists offering their analysis of the emotions, thought patterns, and beliefs underlying such behaviors, Glass said, robs the public “of our professional judgment and prevents us from communicating our understanding” of the president’s mental state.”

The “Goldwater rule” came about after some psychiatrists weighed in on a 1964 survey about whether Sen. Barry Goldwater was fit for the White House.

“The rule states that it is unethical to offer a professional opinion about a public figure’s mental health, including the presence or absence of a disorder, without that person’s consent and without doing a standard examination. In March, the psychiatric association reaffirmed the rule,” Begley writes.

We’re going to dig deeper into this during our 50 minutes on the couch (it’s actually a ratty old armchair) this week.

But in the meantime, tweet your thoughts to @TheDaraKam. #FreeSpeech?