Thursday Bookshelf: The Roosevelts

As companions to Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts  on PBS the following books, all available on Kindle are highly recommended.



The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism


Theodore Rex


Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Continue reading

Florida tax system unfair, says WalletHub

Florida ranks as one of the worst states for tax fairness according to WalletHub . Among the 50 states, Florida ranked third from bottom in terms of tax fairness for the poor, fourth from bottom in the liberalism of the state/local tax system and fifth from bottom in overall tax fairness. The full report can be viewed here. 

Republican Governor Jeb Bush and Rick Scott as well as GOP legislators consistently discussed the need to lower taxes to create a”favorable business climate.” But for all the tax incentives and rhetoric of Republicans in the legislature and executive branch they have proven over the past decade they are consistently unable to attract business to the state. Interestingly, Republicans in neighboring southern states have fared much better at attracting large corporations to either relocate or set up major operations.

For a state of its size, one of four true “mega-states” with more large and medium sized urban areas than any other state in the US, Florida has a pathetically small number of Fortune 500 companies based in the state.  Despite a tax rate lower than most states and “right to work” status which prevents unions from effectively organizing, Florida’s Republicans have failed badly.

Continue reading

Democrats far from dead in State House races

Our friends at Saint Petersblog citing data from a polling firm we think highly of, St Pete Polls have run a succession of articles showing a strong Republican tide in State House races. They even theorize the GOP should be able to jump above 80 seats in the House (a majority they enjoyed from 2004 to 2006 and again from 2010 to 2o12) if current trends hold and thus will have a veto-proof majority in 2015. I am not pretending this cycle is not filled with risk for House Democrats, with the numerous pick up opportunities that are on the map having been ceded before qualifying and the general national mood which is anti-Obama to say the least. But the Democrats have done a better job than some folks might think in doubling-down on incumbent protection and have some other external factors that will help several sitting members who are in danger of losing their seats.

But let’s establish something right now: Polling in many of these races will not give a true picture of what is happening because the ground effort of Florida Democrats in the three largest MSA’s in the state this campaign cycle is unprecedented the party’s history. Polling models based on 2010 turnout are quite possibly going to be off the mark in the largest urban areas of the state.

Per Saint Petersblog:

The Republican incumbents appear safe: Keith Perry, Ross Spano, Kathleen Peters, and Michael Bileca hold comfortable leads according to surveys by St. Pete Polls commissioned by SaintPetersBlog. Perry leads Democrat Jon Uman by 16; Spano leads Democrat Donna Forre by 13; Peters leads Democrat Scott Orsini by 11; and Bileca leads his Democrat Kristopher Decossard by 15. Democrat incumbent Amanda Murphy is up 7 on Republican Chris Gregg.

The Democrat incumbents are in trouble: Mike Clelland, Karen Castor-Dentel, Linda Stewart, Mark Danish, and Jose Javier Rodriguez all trail their Republican challengers. Clelland trails Scott Plakon by 19; Castor-Dentel is behind Bob Cortes by 15 (!); Stewart is down six to Mike Miller; Danish trails Shawn Harrison by 3; and JJR is down seven to Daniel Diaz Leyva.

The Democrats are playing all defense: There is not one single House seat on the board where a Democrat is poised to knock off a Republican incumbent.


Continue reading

Monday Musings: 9/11 Memories, Crist Field and Turnout operation, Who is Leslie Wimes, Orange County, Joe Negron and Home Rule Hypocrisy

On 9/11/01 I was a student at New College of Florida. As you may remember, President George Bush was in Sarasota (where New College is located) and of course the whole campus has organized protests for that morning. I had gone to class and when I came back, one student was sitting out in the middle of the common area with an extension chord and a television and there was a picture of the towers smoking. The campus bordered the local airport where Air Force One was parked and soon

the campus flooded with uniforms and we were ushered into our dorms. The assumption was that the terrorists would be coming after the President next, so our campus was crawling with officers for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening, all the students were brought to a common area where we had various community leaders and faith representatives from the community and many spoke about how important this day will be in history. The one that I remember though was a local Muslim man – I cannot remember his title, but I’m sure he had one – he got up and said “I mourn for Americans today because those are the ones that died, yet I also mourn for my people because they are the ones that are going to die tomorrow.” Those words have stuck with me and I thought about them a lot this 9/11 in connection with all that is happening in the Middle East at the moment. –   KB@BurnettKaty 

On 9/11/14 I found myself in the exact same Tallahassee office I was in on 9/11/01. On that morning as tragedy struck I was at the Douglas Law Firm for Ambassador Pete Peterson’s short-lived campaign for Governor. This year, George Sheldon’s Campaign for Attorney General is based out of the very same office and ironically I was in the very same place thirteen years later. In 2001, the Capitol was evacuated and several friends ended up at the office with me which is at the corner of Call and Monroe. – KK @kkfla737

Turnout. Turnout. Turnout. Governor Crist finally has the right field strategy in place, and is hoping to push up turnout in 7 counties including the Core 4: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Orange. Kartik and I have been pushing for this type of strategy at TFS from the time this website launched and we are pleased to see it coming to fruition. Governor Crist’s camp has been very smart in conserving their resources in holding back big ad sweeps and focusing on building their grassroots army, which is already significantly bigger infrastructure-wise than Alex Sink had in 2010. Unfortunately, there are high hurdles the Crist camp will endure but don’t have control over- a weak White House (approvals in the 30s), (seemingly) improving economic conditions in Florida plus Rick Scott’s massive ad campaign and massive $100 million war chest, and polling that shows Obama’s most ardent supporters are the least likely to vote in November. That all being said, If Charlie stays the course and focuses on getting his base to turnout, at the very least he’ll match Sink’s total in 2010. We hold out hope that the veto power over the extremist legislature will play a major part of the messaging campaign that could play with moderates (in addition) to the base and put Charlie over the top. – JS @JustinSnyderFL

Continue reading

Five must watch PBS Documentaries

With the debut of Ken Burns’  The Roosevelts tonight on PBS, we will once again surely see why Public Broadcasting produces and airs better TV documentaries than anybody. Here are five must watch PBS historical documentaries from this admitted PBS junkie.


Ken Burns: The Civil War 

The granddaddy of all TV documentaries came out in 1990, when I was in High School. I watched it start to finish then, and have watched at least a dozen times start to finish since. It is by far the most complete documentary you will ever see.

Continue reading

Guest Column: Campus Vote Project Working to Help Florida Students Vote

By Cici Battle/Campus Vote Project Florida Coordinator

People who follow electoral politics often lament the low voter turnout for midterm compared to presidential election years.  In a state like Florida, it means that fewer voters turn out to elect a governor than go to the polls to elect a president.  College students, in particular, represent a segment of the population where off-year participation is especially low.

Historically, this drop-off trend among young voters during midterm elections means a population that is often underrepresented during a presidential election year is less represented during the midterm elections.

Student and young professional turnout is often driven by massive registration and Get Out The Vote operations by presidential campaigns.  Traditionally, state and congressional races do not mount these comprehensive, multimedia efforts.

While voter turnout drop offs have been a historical trend for many years, the drop off among young voters is particularly steep.

  • Percentage of college students who voted
    • 2008: 60%
    • 2010: 26.5%
  • Percentage of voters who were 18-24 years old:
    • 2008: 9.5%
    • 2010: 5.9%
  • Percentage of Millennials who say they will definitely vote in these elections:
    • 2014: 28%
    • 2016: 55%


(Harstad Strategic Research, Inc., 2014).


The Campus Vote Project (CVP) was established in 2012 to address the issues student voters face in college communities and provide the resources and information students need to register and vote.  CVP is a project of the Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN), a national, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented communities. CVP has worked with partners and on campuses across the country including Florida, and this year we will continue our efforts to improve student turnout in this important election.

Continue reading

Progressive Choice: Where Are They Now?

For months before the primary, the group Progressive Choice made headlines around the state with controversial mailings, radio ads, and a constant stream of Twitter and Facebook attacks on Charlie Crist.  Estimates of the spending by this campaign vary, but considering the sheer number of ads, the figures have to be in the seven-figure range at the least.  All of the ads targeted Democratic regions of the state and many were in African-American neighborhoods, which raised flags and drew many to wonder about their motivations, including us here at the Squeeze.   While the ads seem to merely attack Charlie Crist’s progressive credentials, they targeted key demographics that he would need in the November election.   Everything about the group was kept secret, even after numerous groups tried investigating and countless newspaper articles were written. Moreover, no other issue or candidate was supported or attacked by them.   The group itself became an issue of hot debate all over the state and every major news outlet  seemingly had some version of “who are these guys?”  In time, even some of those who had defended the group initially, or had participated in something the group had done, backed away.

Progressive Choice Florida was self-defined as “a diverse coalition of fair-minded, forward-thinking individuals and organizations advocating for leadership that stands firm on progressive principles and genuinely reflects the interests of all progressives across the nation.”  Even though no other organizations came forward to admit they were part of this coalition, for months progressives argued about the effectiveness of their ads.  Up until August 26th, the group was active on social media and loud in their criticism of Crist.  Even though the group never mentioned Nan Rich, they were clearly supporting her candidacy, but in an insulting way that was clearly race-baiting.   Figures like Leslie Wimes praised the group through the constant rumors that they were paying bloggers for good coverage, yet no one every came forward to openly speak about who was behind them.

As soon as the primary finished, every outlet from Progressive Choice went silent.  This group, who claimed to care about the such issues as marriage equality in Florida, medical marijuana, LGBT rights, women’s healthcare issues, and other traditional progressive issues, fell dead silent.   The blog Progressive Choice ’14 went silent.   Their Twitter, Facebook, and website have been quiet since the primary and even the national group has had just two tweets since Aug 26th.  It seems that the entire organization does not intend to be active in one of the most important mid-term election in recent history.

There is just no reasonable answer to give the group any credibility.  This secretive group came forward and decided that attacking Governor Crist was the most important progressive cause in the county and when he prevailed in the primary, they just quit and gave up.   There is simply no logical explanation other than this was a Republican front group formed merely to attack Charlie Crist.   While the financial backers will probably always be unknown, the obviousness of the quick silence after the primary speaks volumes.  We may never have find concrete evidence linking Progressive Choice to the Republicans or Rick Scott’s special interest backers, but no proof exists that they were truly linked with “progressive” causes within Florida.

This also makes everything  Jamie Fontaine said completely false and brings her credibility into question.  Her quote in Talking Points Memo is now riddled with irony:

“I feel confident that as our work in other states on important progressive issues becomes more visible, any doubts about our credibility as a true progressive organization will fade.”

If you look at her organization, Fontaine and Company itself seems to have shutdown as well, with nothing posted on Facebook since June.   Jamie Fontaine herself, when looking at her own Facebook page, has absolutely no ties to any progressive group in Florida, which merely ads to the mystery.   While it appears she was a legitimate progressive activist at some point on LGBT issues, surely this deception was only used in appearance only when looking at her recent cases.  She has a long history of working for developers under the guise of grassroots activism and this isn’t the first controversial case that Fontaine has taken on where she would not disclose donors.   In 2012, she created another “grassroots” advocacy group to advocate for a politically-connected development plan:

Continue reading

Coral Springs Mayor’s race featuring Skip Campbell heating up

We discussed the city of Coral Springs extensively a few months ago. Coral Springs is one of Florida’s 15 largest cities with over 120,000 people, and has a close to two-to-one Democratic registration advantage. Yet the city’s commission is 80% Republican and the lone Democrat is term-limited this year.

Coral Springs was long considered one of the state’s leading cities. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s it was considered perhaps the best run large city in the state. The city won numerous good government awards, including some national ones. However, since about 2006, Coral Springs has fallen into decline as property values have not kept up with similar municipalities in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Fewer new businesses are starting in the city, and quality of living has declined. The city’s bond rating has been lowered. Coral Springs, once the envy of so many around the state has developed the reputation of a place in decline. During this period the City Commission has gown more conservative and less effective.

This November, four City Commission seats were up for election. One seat, held by City Commissioner Dan Daley, a registered Republican was uncontested and Daley has been reelected. Mayor Vince Boccard, another registered Republican is term-limited and conservative Tom Powers who has served six years on the City Commission is vying to replace him. When qualifying closed in June, former Mayor Roy Gold, whose progressive leadership has been lauded was the candidate running against Powers.

Continue reading

Monday Musings: Support for Scottish Independence, 50 years since the “Daisy Ad,” Florida paces US victory in Prague, ISIS a real threat?, Dennis Baxley, Islamic Caliphate history

I have been derided in both soccer and political circles as an “anglophile,” and it is a label I have come to accept and even embrace after trying to fight it off for years. I have after all spent more time in my life in and around London then in any major American city except Washington D.C. (that assumes we don’t consider any Florida city a “major” one.) Given that background it may shock people to know that I reluctantly feel I must support Scottish Independence. As much as I love a United Kingdom that includes England and Scotland (as well as Wales and Northern Ireland), I think the continued dismissive attitude of Westminster towards the Scots has no place in a 21st Century society. England is today one of the most tolerant places on the planet despite a shameful history of racism and colonialism. But that is the attitude of the ordinary people towards foreigners. The attitude of the political ruling class towards Scotland continues to be one of backhanded contempt. From a global security perspective a unified Britain is better than Scotland being independent and potentially outside the economic and military alliance framework of the western powers. But for a people that have given so much to cause of freedom and have been the most tolerant western European people towards those of non-European ethnicities (like myself) to continue to be treated by some as second class citizens in a nation they never sought to be part of, the time has come for separation. Make no mistake about it, Scottish independence will hurt the Labour Party which I support in future UK elections. Without Scottish votes, it will be more difficult than ever for Labour to win enough seats to gain a majority in Parliament. That will be an unfortunate consequence of something whose time has come.  One thing has become obvious, which is that the major UK  parties who are all pushing a “NO” vote realize sentiment is for some sort of break even though the polls are dead even now and are advocating measures that if Scotland votes to stay in the UK will devolve further powers away from Westminster and towards Edinburgh. So one way or another Scotland will continue to drift towards independence whether or not the “YES” proponents led by Alex Salmond carry the day on September 18th.   – KK @kkfla737

September 7th marked the 50 year anniversary of the infamous “Daisy” spot that aired during Lyndon B Johnson’s presidential campaign in 1964. The commercial, which shows a small child picking flowers and then switches to the image of the atomic bomb, made history and forever changed politics. It is one of the most famous political commercials of all time and is studied in every campaign class and every political history book. Though the spot only aired once, it was credited to help Johnson win in a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater. From then on, scare tactics were common place in politics and at the height of election season, they show no sign of going away. Although the commercials keep on coming, there are some big questions left unanswered. How does fear motivate our political decisions? Do are we motivated to change the status quo or protect against harm? Still such great questions about the controversial piece. Kartik recommended a great book about the Daisy Ad by Robert Mann and here is a link – Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics
–   KB@BurnettKaty 

Friday night’s much hyped Brazil-Colombia match in Miami broke a single-game soccer attendance record for the state of Florida with close to 75,000 fans. The United States just announced they will face Honduras in the next international window (soccer calender scheduling is complicated to explain for the average American sports fan, but as someone who has worked in the business I know these scheduling windows and quirks like the back of my hand) on October 14th in Boca Raton. Boca is the hometown of the United States’ Jozy Altidore who captained the US’ side for the first time in his career on Wednesday in Prague. It was also the day we launched our new American Outlaws Boca Raton Chapter (I switched my membership to the new chapter from the Fort Lauderdale one). The US won 1-0 behind a goal from Weston’s Alejandro Bedoya and Tampa natives Julian Green and Joe Gyau were also in the starting XI, meaning 4/11 of the starters were either born in Florida or grew up in the state. – KK @kkfla737

Continue reading

Charlie Crist gets economic reality and is not to be underestimated

Charlie Crist took on the Insurance industry as Governor and he did so again this past week. In a press conference on Thursday Crist said,

The choice could not be more clear – A governor who took on the insurance industry and lowered rates so families had more in their checking accounts and at the end of the month? Or a governor who let insurance companies raise rates — over 25 percent so the companies and his campaign have more in the bank?

This is precisely the sort of messaging the Democrats have needed at the top of the ticket for years. We did not get this in 2010, or quite honestly in 2006 when Crist was the GOP nominee and co-opted the Democratic messaging. In 2002, Democrats were busy re-fighting the 2000 election and playing the victim, while in 1998 things just did not go well. The last time the Democrats played the economic card well at the state level was 1994 with Lawton Chiles, and ironically the Governor’s election won by the party AND the final time the Democrats won control of a legislative chamber.

While many Democratic activists and political operatives connected to the party’s messaging are very forthright and aggressive when putting forward views on social issues (like gun control, gay marriage and anything related to race) they seem less willing to deliver a concise message on economics instead dabbling around the edges of the issue, perhaps in deference to campaign contributors and Tallahassee lobbyists. Not that social issues are not important, but economic issues are if anything more important to the average Floridian.

With Charlie Crist currently the Democratic nominee for Governor things are changing from a messaging standpoint and the building blocks are in place to  finally put to rest the type of campaigns that have seen the party accumulate the worst record in state elections of any major political party east of the Mississippi River since 2000. Crist’s candidacy has left many, myself included somewhat uncomfortable given his past record on social and education issues but as I continue to witness the adrift nature of the messaging of some Florida Democrats it becomes more apparent that Crist  will be a big part of a solution to problem that hasn’t been fixed for over a decade – Florida Democrats unwillingness to take on tough economic issues in an aggressive statewide manner.

Much of the success of Democrats in the south prior to recent years rested on economic populism. In the late 1800s the populist movement grew in the rural south and midwest claiming William Jennings Bryan as its hero. Bryan, who eventually retired to Florida was nominated three times for President. Woodrow Wilson and William Gibbs McAdoo were classic populists though in today’s terms their views on race, religion and prohibition would deem them arch-conservatives. But the working people of the nation tired of Wall Street, big business and other excesses of capitalism flung to populist Democrats and progressive Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt, Robert LaFollete and George Norris.

Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,933 other followers