Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Marty Merzer's 'I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update ™' (the Tuesday edition)


Day 11. America continues to be held hostage by a petulant 10-year-old boy trapped in a 70-year-old man's body...

With that .... here from his well-stocked, fortified bunker somewhere in northern Florida, is retired Miami Herald staffer Marty Merzer with Tuesday's "I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up Minority President midday update.™"


By Marty Merzer

President Obama weighs in. Hypocrisy at high levels; questionable media decisions and practices....

Here is Tuesday’s I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up Minority President midday update:

- Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions stands on the cusp of being confirmed as the Minority President’s attorney general. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was just sacked in the Monday Night Massacre for refusing to enforce what she believed was an illegal order from the White House. Less than two years ago, Sessions told her to do precisely that.

- Sessions to Yates during her 2015 confirmation hearings: “You have to watch out, because people will be asking you to do things that you just need to say no about. Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper?” Yates to Sessions: “Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.” 

- CBS and presumably other networks plan live broadcasts of the Minority President’s 8 p.m. announcement of his Supreme Court nomination. I do not know of any previous time when broadcast networks turned over prime time for such an announcement.

- Political commentator Keith Olbermann this week urged the networks to stop live coverage of serial liars such as the Minority President and to stop interviewing serial liars such as White House Propaganda Minister Kellyanne Conway and Deputy White House Propaganda Minister Sean Spicer. “Use a delay, employ a team of fact checkers, play his [the Minority President’s] rants. Each time he lies, stop the tape, state the facts,” Olbermann said. “Do not participate in the Trump propaganda game…. Your market and your obligation are identical – to identify the lies and refute them twice as often as they are told.” H/t Rick Oppenheim.

- Also media-wise, because things already aren’t bad enough, Oprah Winfrey was named Tuesday as a “special contributor” to 60 Minutes. New York Times reporter Sopan Deb retweeted the CBS announcement and added this comment: “YOU GET A TIGHTLY FRAMED INTERVIEW SHOT…YOU GET A TIGHTLY FRAMED INTERVIEW SHOT…

- Only 10 days after leaving office, former President Obama felt compelled to weigh in on the Minority President’s refugee and immigration bans – and on the protests that have flared around the country and the world. Obama “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion…,” a spokesman said. “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” (The attached photo regarding the warning signs of fascism comes from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; the other photo (above) is of a family detained and handcuffed at a U.S. airport.)

- The Washington Post reported at 10 a.m. today that Betsy DeVos, the Minority President’s magnificently unqualified nominee as education secretary, appears to have plagiarized several written responses to questions from senators.

- Possibly contradictory reports emerged regarding the White House stand on LGBT rights. The confusion could be based on a disconnect between workplace protections within companies that do business with the federal government and a new policy regarding the “rights” and behavior of federal employees.

- The New York Times quoted the White House as saying that it would not rescind an Obama administration order creating workplace protections for LBGT people within companies with federal contracts.

- But Washington Post columnist Josh Robin and others reported that a draft executive order being considered for or by the Minority President would allow federal employees, "on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs," to refuse service to LGBT Americans. These "beliefs" would include that marriage is between a man and a woman and that birth gender cannot be changed. Obviously, that could set a precedent for other limitations: religion, race, political persuasion, left handed vs. right handed, etc.

- Well, they certainly did find an expert. The man cited by the Minority President as a voter fraud expert – Gregg Phillips, who repeatedly has made the unsubstantiated claim that 3 million illegal voters cast 2016 ballots – was registered to vote in three states last year, according to the Associated Press.

- Politico reported that the Minority President is urging disgraced health-care executive and Florida Gov. Rick “Fifth Amendment” Scott to run for the U.S. Senate. (The AP’s Gary Fineout reported today that Scott’s proposed budget, though larger than last year’s, cuts payments to hospitals and, again, does not include across-the-board pay increases for state employees.)

- Conservative columnist David Brooks, who has repeatedly taken principled stands against the Minority President, wrote Tuesday that many prominent Republicans are selling their souls to the devil. “Sooner or later, the Republican Fausts will face a binary choice,” Brooks said. “As they did under Nixon, Republican leaders will have to either oppose Trump and risk his tweets, or sidle along with him and live with his stain.” A link to the New York Times column is posted below as a comment.

- Nobel prize winner and editorial columnist Paul Krugman on Twitter today, referring to current or future members of the Minority President’s administration: “Either you're going to go down with a disgraced president, or you're going to be complicit in the death of democracy. Just say no.”

- Constitutional lawyer Laurence Tribe on Twitter today: “To my friends and relatives around the world: The soul of America is better than this. Trump and his outrageous order are not who we are.”

- The Minority President on Twitter today: “Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!” [The microphone did work.]

- Melania Trump, who is an immigrant, did not file for divorce Tuesday.

And so on…

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Marty Merzer's 'I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update ™' (the Sunday edition)

Here's the Sunday edition of Marty Merzer's "I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update ™"

Merzer, a retired Miami Herald staff writer is compiling these reports from his well-stocked bunker somewhere in Northern Florida. (Read his previous updates here and here.)

(Posted on the New Yorker magazine's website after Merzer posted today's update on Facebook is this chilling bit of info on Trump's Muslim ban: "The Presidential order that Donald Trump signed on Friday barring all refugees and citizens from seven Muslim countries from travel to the United States was reviewed by virtually no one. The State Department did not help craft it, nor the Defense Department, nor Justice. Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, “saw the final details shortly before the order was finalized,” CNN reported."

And also this on White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who Merzer mentions in his update below: "On Saturday, the President announced three more executive actions, one of which changed the composition of his National Security Council. Trump reserved one seat on the Council for his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the former chairman of the right-wing Web site Breitbart News, who has no experience in foreign relations. Trump also limited the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of National Intelligence, with a memo that said they will only attend meetings when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.” The erasure of the line between national security and Bannon’s politics, which have included an embrace of white nationalism, was deeply troubling.")

In the meantime, let Marty know how much you enjoy and appreciate his efforts by sending him a note. (Contact him here.) ..... or by sending him a Facebook friend request.


By Marty Merzer

Here is Sunday’s I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up Minority President midday update:

- First, there is no mandate for any of what follows. Here are the numbers: 231,556,622 Americans were eligible to vote in 2016; 200,081,377 Americans were registered to vote in 2016; 136,629,046 Americans cast presidential votes in 2016; 62,979,879 Americans voted for the Minority President.

- Hence, the Minority President was elected by 46.1 percent of the Americans who cast presidential ballots, 31.4 percent of the Americans who were registered to vote, and 27.2 percent of the Americans who were eligible to vote. That last figure translates roughly into the applicable percentage of American adult citizens. This means that only about one of every four American adults voted for the Minority President.

- As you probably know, two federal judges — one in Brooklyn, one in Virginia — issued orders late Saturday blocking part, but not all, of the Minority President’s unprecedented anti-Muslim immigration orders. The courts’ actions, which represented the first judicial response to the Minority President’s overreach, likely will be appealed by the White House and could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, at many airports, border agents reportedly were ignoring the judges' orders Sunday morning and continuing to enforce the new immigration bans.

More on this below, but:

- In a less noted but particularly ominous executive order, the Minority President removed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence from the National Security Council's Principals Committee and added to it his consigliere -- white supremacist, alleged anti-Semite Stephen Bannon. As its name suggests, the National Security Council weighs top-level matters of national security and foreign policy. It is a key element of the nation's defense infrastructure. Bannon now has a higher status there than the nation's top military and intelligence officers.

- Until recently, Bannon ran the neo-Nazi, fake news, conspiracy website Breitbart. Last week, Bannon and the Minority President escalated their campaign of intimidation against the Washington Post and the New York Times, the two legacy print operations still sufficiently muscular and still sufficiently devoted to journalistic principles to properly monitor the White House.

- Bannon and extreme right-winger Stephen Miller reportedly wrote the Minority President's inaugural address and many of the recently issued executive orders. Several years ago, Bannon was quoted as saying: "I'm a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

- At 8 a.m. Sunday, the Minority President went at it again, tweeting this: “Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing ‪@nytimes‬ and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!” Again, the NY Times is not failing - its circulation has increased since the election. Again, fake news is not factual news that doesn’t please you.

- Though the White House has been unfurling a lot of camouflage and propelling a lot of chaff, it is important to remember this: Still unresolved is the issue of election tampering on behalf of the Minority President by the FBI. Still unresolved is the issue of election tampering on behalf of the Minority President by Russia and its WikiLeaks front operation. Still unresolved is the magnitude of the connections and relationships between Russia and the Minority President and between Russia and those close to the Minority President.

- The Minority President spoke Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has destabilized neighboring nations, bombed children and other civilians in Syria, and allegedly has condoned the murders of journalists and other critics or opponents. The two reportedly enjoyed the chat immensely and found that they had a lot in common.

Returning to the immigration issue:

- This morning, on Fox News Sunday, ‪White House Minister of Propaganda Kellyanne Conway said: ‬ “Anyone who has been detained…can expect to be released.” If they are not deemed to be a threat. On Saturday, she tweeted: "Get used to it.... and he's just getting started."

- Republican gnome Rudy Guiliani said in a interview on Fox "News" that the immigration policy was, indeed, intended as a Muslim ban and then was covered with a fig leaf of bureaucratese.

- Before the judicial orders late Saturday, large and spontaneous protests erupted outside international airports all over the country, again signaling the lack of a sweeping mandate for the actions taken by the Minority President and those around him. In some cases, combat veterans brought their children to the protests. "My daddy fought for the freedom of all," one sign said.

- In numerous acts of resistance, many people of principle and integrity (and courage) rose to the occasion.

- The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: "Lawyers are stationed at airports across U.S. If you know someone entering country, tell them not to sign anything before talking to lawyer."

- The office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted a photo showing men and woman sitting on the floor of a terminal, hunched over laptops: "LITERALLY on the ground. Volunteer lawyers are working pro-bono on a Saturday preparing habeus corpus petitions for detainees at JFK." (Photos are attached to this post.)
- Also in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told transportation officials to allow protesters unimpeded travel to the airport. "I have ordered the Port Authority to reverse its decision regarding the JFK AirTrain," he said. "The people of New York will have their voices heard."

- In San Francisco, as demonstrators flocked to the airport known as SFO, the BART public transportation issued a wonderfully subversive tweet: "You can take BART to all kinds of weekend events - also, direct service to SFO is running great right now."

- The human toll was incalculable and often unbearably touching. Iranian refugee M. Tayfeh, a Ph.D candidate and budding entrepreneur, said he suddenly was unable to travel from Canada to a business opportunity in San Diego. He tweeted: "Called Delta airlines, told the lady about my story. I was very angry. She apologized for Trump. Then [she] cried. I was not angry anymore."

- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other universities advised international students to postpone travel home or anywhere abroad.

- In Tallahassee, psychologist Sara Hart tweeted the MIT announcement and this at 9:26 a.m. Saturday: "@floridastate is there a statement like this I just haven't seen? Our international students and faculty are scared right now." She tweeted this at 6:49 p.m. Saturday: "Still no word @floridastate? I have an Iranian passport holding grad student. What do I tell her?"

- Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe tweeted: "Trump must be impeached for abusing his power and shredding the Constitution more monstrously than any other President in American history."

- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” Someone on Twitter called Trudeau the new leader of the Free World.

- Eliot A. Cohen, who served Republican President George W. Bush in the State Department, tweeted: "This isn't normal. Its not humane, its not thought through, its not necessary, its not wise, its not decent and above all, its not American."

- Television writer David Slack tweeted: "Remember sitting in history, thinking 'If I was alive then, I would’ve….' You’re alive now. Whatever you’re doing is what you would’ve done."

- Melania Trump, who is an immigrant, still has not filed for divorce.

- And so on...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Marty Merzer's 'I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update ™' (the Saturday edition)

What follows is the second third in a series of posts by retired Miami Herald senior writer Marty Merzer.

Merzer is posting these updates for friends on his Facebook page, and I'm re-posting here with his permission because I think what he has to say is important. 

Historical note: Thirty one years ago today, Merzer was one of dozens of Herald reporters assigned to cover the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.


By Marty Merzer

The day is still young, but it's already historic, for all the worst reasons. Much of what distinguishes America - much of what it stood for - died overnight. It is with profound shame that I offer Saturday's I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update:

- Immigration checkpoints at airports and other border crossings grew chaotic Saturday as refugees and other immigrants were detained in response to the Minority President's unprecedented order suspending entry to all refugees. The order also indefinitely blocks entry by Syrians and bars entry for 90 days by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations. An entirely un-American religious test, however, will grant priority to Christians over Muslims from those nations.

- At Kennedy Airport in New York, two Iraqis previously granted U.S. visas and refuge due to their connections to the U.S. government or U.S. contractors were denied entry and detained. "Who is the person we need to talk to?" asked one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, according to the New York Times. "Mr. President," said a Customs and Border Protection agent, who declined to identify himself. "Call Mr. Trump."

- Legal objections and other actions have been filed in many jurisdictions.

- The White House moves were applauded by Republican Vice President Mike Pence. On Dec. 8, 2015, Pence said: "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional."

- The White House moves were applauded by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. On July 31, 2016, Ryan said: "A religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America's fundamental values. I reject it."

- Experts said the new policy would dash the hopes of countless refugees, condemning many to death.

- Experts said the new policy would serve only to inflame Islamic extremism and would create more terrorists. Said one: "There's nothing ISIS wants more than be able to say to Muslims around the world — 'look, we're the people who'll protect you.'"

- Experts said the new policy gave ISIS and our other enemies a second victory: Their efforts caused us to diminish our own values before they got around to doing so.

- On Saturday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said: "To my colleagues: Don't ever again lecture me on American moral leadership if you chose to be silent today."

- On another note, the Minority President tweeted this on Saturday. The misspellings are his: "Thr coverage about me in the ‪@nytimes‬ and the ‪@washingtonpost‬ gas been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.They got me wrong right from the beginning and still have not changed course, and never will. DISHONEST"

Click image to enlarge.

- The assertions are false. Subscriptions to both news operations have increased since the election, and the New York Times issued no such apology. Unlike many other news operations, both the Washington Post and the New York Times have distinguished themselves in their coverage of the Minority President.

- Melania Trump, who is an immigrant, did not file for divorce Saturday.

And so on...

POSTSCRIPT: About those false assertions made by Trump that Merzer mentions....In a New York Times story posted shortly after noon today, and headlined "‘Up Is Down’: Trump’s Unreality Show Echoes His Business Past," Times staffer David Barstow writes:
Yet even jaded connoisseurs of Oval Office dissembling were astonished over the last week by the torrent of bogus claims that gushed from President Trump during his first days in office.

“We’ve never seen anything this bizarre in our lifetimes, where up is down and down is up and everything is in question and nothing is real,” said Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity and the author of “935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity,” a book about presidential deception.


Personal note: You can fight Trump and his lies alternative facts by supporting the great journalism being produced by the New York Times and Washington Post.

Added bonus: By subscribing you get to say that you helped push Trump over the edge. That day is not that far off.

Both the Times and the Post have large staffs assigned exclusively to covering the Trump administration. 


Click here to subscribe to the Washington Post.

Click here to subscribe to the New York Times.

Friday, January 27, 2017

'You just do'

Miami Herald investigative reporter Carol Marbin Miller.

Carol Marbin Miller is a senior investigative reporter at the Miami Herald. She's worked at the paper since 2000. Before that she worked at the Tampa Bay Times and the Palm Beach Post.

Miller, and colleague Audra D.S. Burch collaborated on the Herald's 2014 "Innocents Lost" series .... the result of three years of digging through Florida Department of Children and Family records.

Click to enlarge.

During the course of Miller and Burch reporting the "Innocents Lost" series, the Herald "filed three public records lawsuits demanding access to many of the documents about the treatment of the children and their caregivers.”

Three years after the "Innocents" series, Miller and Burch continue to be a voice for the state's most vulnerable children

A few days ago, after Miller posted a link on Facebook to a story she'd written about Naika Venant, a 14-year-old girl in foster care who hanged herself last Sunday while streaming it live on social media. I commented, "I don't know how you do this." Miller responded: "You just do."

Naika Venant.

A day later, Miller followed up on the death of Naika with a story that carried this chilling headline: "Hundreds watched a teen kill herself on Facebook. But they didn’t save her."

Over the past few days I've asked some of Miller's current and former Herald colleagues what drives her.

Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau chief Mary Ellen Klas emailed this explanation:
What drives Carol Marbin? I have asked myself that many times, as I watched her time and again break away from untangling the bureaucratic complexities of some scandal she is investigating to take the time to turn a daily story on another tragedy she knows should not be overlooked.

Yes, she is motivated by outrage, and she lets it reside close and remain raw, where it fuels her passion and energizes her pen. But she also has something unique, endearing and inspiring: the ability to see tragedy and not get callous, trauma and not become immune to its searing pain and human toll.

When Carol writes about a child's death, she brings with it the compassion of a mother, and yet, with a careful touch, she lets the evil, inequity and injustice surface. I honestly don't know how Carol does it, but I do know it is with an extraordinary heart. That's why people think of her when they have a story they know needs to be told, and it's also why, as a journalist, she is feared.

Retired Herald staffer Marty Merzer wrote:
Carol is utterly devoted to the children of Florida. Tenacious, professional, resourceful. Year after year, as other reporters turn to easier tasks, she remains undaunted by hurdles erected by recalcitrant officials or anyone else. She is the best journalistic friend of children in the state of Florida.

And here's how retired Miami Herald staffer Elinor Brecher described Miller's work.
Carol Marbin Miller has been on the "dead kids'' beat for decades - a beat that might drive the average reporter into deep depression or a different career. But she has a core of iron resolve about exposing cruelty toward and injustices against all vulnerable and helpless people: children, elderly, disabled, poor, sick. I think this comes from her non-negotiable sense of right and wrong and very definite ideas about morality, ethics and abuse of power, which she can't abide. The misery she has to immerse herself in to do these stories does get to her, especially when it involves kids, but the sense of duty she feels to expose the conditions that cause these situations tends to override any emotional impact.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Here's the first of Marty Merzer's 'I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update ™'

Retired Miami Herald senior writer Marty Merzer has pretty much seen it all in his more than four decades as a journalist.

But after reading his Facebook posts since Trump was sworn in less than a week ago, one gets the sense that even Merzer - an old hand at covering disasters of all kinds - wasn't quite ready for the disaster that is the Donald Trump administration.

(Just last night - according to one website, "Trump crank[ed] up the crazy to 11" in an interview broadcast on ABC.)

With that in mind, here's the first - and maybe the last, depending on Merzer's mood - "I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update."


By Marty Merzer

I'm really not sure about doing this, but in response to some requests, here's an I'm-not-making-any-of-this-up midday Minority President update:

- In response to the Minority President's declaration about the wall, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto just canceled next week's visit to Washington. A few wise-ass White House reporters wondered if Taco Tuesday also would be canceled.

- Meanwhile, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, again digging as deeply as possible into his diplomatic vocabulary, tweeted: "Donald, don't be self-indulgent. Mexico has spoken, we will never ever pay for the #FuckingWall."

- As Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson entered the State Department today, the entire Department of State senior management team resigned. These apparently were not pro-forma resignations. They actually left. They were career diplomats who served under Democratic and Republican administrations.

- Managers of many of the several dozen alternate federal agency Twitter feeds, created to resist censorship by the White House, today changed their logos so as to avoid trademark issues with their home agencies. Some have handed off control of the ungagged Twitter feeds to non-government employees, though the content is still coming from federal employee-resisters.

- "Sorry, we are not ready for the apocalypse. Still so many National Parks to visit!," tweeted NatlParksUnderground.

- "Clearly @realDonaldTrump never watched Revenge of The Nerds. #resist," tweeted AltEPA.

- Some EPA employees reportedly are coming to work in tears. (Thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of federal employees will be confronting profound personal issues as they attempt to balance their professional integrity with their families' livelihoods. They deserve our support.)

- A large number of scientists are planning a Scientist March on Washington.

- The Minority President took a slow, solo stroll across the White House lawn, sort of smiling for the cameras. He didn't narrow his eyes in that sexy supermodel way, but we can always hope for tomorrow.

- Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (fluoride is controlling our minds; the government faked the Sandy Hook school shooting, using actors) said he has been offered White House media credentials. The White House denied it.

- And so on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A few photos and videos that perfectly capture the mood of yesterday's inauguration

Why so glum?
President Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon
at the National Statuary Hall. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Melania Trump presents Michelle Obama with a gift and Michelle's reaction speaks volumes.

If looks could kill....
Click image to enlarge.

Some photographs really need no caption.

And Hillary catches Bill looking at someone he probably shouldn't be looking at.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A mother's letter to her children on Inauguration Day

Allie Merzer Fleming is the daughter of retired Miami Herald senior writer Marty Merzer.

This morning on Facebook she shared a letter she wrote to her children.

I've been given permission to re-post it here.

A letter to my children regarding the Trump Inauguration:

Dear Solly (8) and Sophie (4),

Your father and I met 13 years ago when I was working for the Florida Democratic Party and he was volunteering for the Kerry campaign. Sol, you were 5 months old when you joined us to vote in an Obama onesie and Sophie, you voted for Obama’s second term when you were only 6 weeks old. You both participated as your parents helped local and statewide campaigns and with my job you are a familiar face at City Hall. This year, you danced when Katy Perry sang at the Democratic Convention, you watched the debates on our laps, you wore your Hillary stickers to vote with us on Election Day and you stayed up late (as late as we would let you) as daddy taught you how to track the votes online.

On November 9th, you came into our room like it was Christmas morning, excited to hear the results. I shook my head “no” and you crawled onto the bed and cried with me.

Since then you have had a lot of questions. Through the whole campaign your dad and I have been forced to discuss things we were weren’t quite ready to – how can leader be so angry? How is he allowed to say such mean things? Does he hate babies? Does he want to kill everyone in black? Your eyes and ears see and hear things differently than we do – snippets distorted by your own understanding, your own views and your own relationship with the world.

I’ve been forced to explain why we don’t “hate” our new President and that hate is a bad word in our house, even when we have strong feelings about him and the election. I’ve explained that even though “Miss Hillary” lost, we will continue to spread love and understanding because that’s what we were voting FOR and that our three branches of government will work the way it was designed and it will all be ok.

But I am lying.

I don’t know that it will all be ok.

I am scared. I am sad, I am angry and I am lost.

I have tried to come to terms with this as the new reality but I cannot… for that makes it seem like I’ve come to terms with hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism and I have not and will not ever accept those horrible attributes in humankind as “ok”.

I have tried to make peace with those who didn’t vote for Hillary thereby putting him into the Oval Office but I cannot… for that makes it seem like all the reasons I voted FOR her weren’t worth the fight.

I have tried to ignore the news and social media and only focus on puppy pictures and local politics but I cannot …for that makes me an uninformed citizen and leaves me powerless to protect you.

On this day the world will change forever and all I can do is be honest.

I honestly don’t know what will happen. I honestly don’t know that we will be ok.

What I do know is that there are a lot of people in this great country who will fight with every breath they have to protect you – not just because you are Jewish, or because you are female, or because you are middle class – but because you are a person with rights and responsibilities not dissimilar to any other person of any other color, gender, religion or creed.

What I do know is that you are loved and that you have been taught to love. You are surrounded by a community that cares for each other and your family works in that community, as you will too one day.

What I do know is that we can affect change, big or small, one street or one state, one law or one action at a time and that I will try my hardest to ignite that light in you, even when my own spirit is dimmed by current events.

What I do know is that your father and I will protect you and your rights as Americans to the end of our days. We will provide for you and teach you to provide for others, we will educate you and teach you how to communicate with others; we will keep you safe from harm and hold you harmless from the chaos that may consume your country for the next few years.

I wish I could kiss this hurt away like any other boo-boo, hold you in my arms and promise that you will feel better tomorrow. You might or might not. Honesty is all I have to give. I wish someone would hold me and tell me that I will feel better tomorrow and that they could actually make it better tomorrow. And then maybe I might or might not. But I would like to think that because we have each other – that we all have each other -- I am better off already. And so that is all we are left with – we have each other; tomorrow will be a better day.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Giant gator goes for a stroll at a nature center in Polk County.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is preparing to run for Governor of Florida by reading a widely discredited book about the state that's full of myths and made up 'facts'

In 2013, during his first run for Miami Beach Mayor, Philip Levine promised in one of his campaign ads to "get the city's finances under control [and] end corruption." Levine won the election, and a second term in 2015.

But yesterday - less then a month after the city discovered that $3.6 million had mysteriously vanished from its bank accounts without anyone noticing - Levine announced that he will not seek a third two-year term.

Instead - in a video posted on YouTube - Levine strongly hinted that he'll run for governor in 2018.

Levine told the Miami Herald that "he plans to go around Florida on a listening and learning tour this spring before making a final decision."

On Twitter, Miami Beach-based filmmaker, and frequent Levine critic Billy Corben, reacted to the news of a potential Levine candidacy: "Florida man who can't handle Miami Beach budget thinks he can run the whole state."

Levine told the Herald “over the coming months, I plan to travel the state to listen, learn and “find Florida,” he said. “I am actually reading T.D. Allman’s book “Finding Florida.” I will make my decision in the spring.”

But before Levine "finds Florida," he might want to look around and find a better reference book on Florida.

At the Miami Book Fair last year, Levine met Allman, had his picture taken with him and called him a "fantastic author."

Levine apparently made that assessment without doing any research.  Allman's "Finding Florida" has been widely discredited by both critics and historians.

A photo posted by Mayor Philip Levine's (@mayorlevine) on

James Clark, a lecturer in the History Department at the University of Central Florida criticized "Finding Florida" for being "grindingly negative." In 2013 Clark wrote that if Allman had "been willing to do more research and provide a complete picture, this could have been an outstanding book."

When I told Tampa Bay Times writer Craig Pittman that Levine planned to read Allman's book, he chuckled.

Pittman, a Florida native who has covered Florida's environment for the Times since 1998, is arguably, an expert on all things Florida. (Pittman is the author of "OH, FLORIDA! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.")

In 2013 Pittman and colleague Jeff Klinkenberg read Allman's book and found it full of "forehead-slapping errors."

Here are just three:
• About the naming of the state: "It was not because of any profusion of flowers. Look into any Florida backyard; even today you'll see a somber palette of greens" (p. 7). The guidebook Florida Wild Flowers features 500 colorful entries such as scarlet morning glories, meadow beauty and purple passionflowers.

• "Palms ... are not native to Florida" (p. 119). The Florida silver palm, the Keys thatch palm and the sabal palm — the state tree — are natives.

• "Rita Mae Brown had become the most successful Florida-born author since Zora Neale Hurston ..." ( p. 443). A two-fer: Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Ala., and Rita Mae Brown in Pennsylvania.

On goodreads.com, Pittman posted a longer list of errors and omissions contained in Allman's book, including this: "The omission that truly amazed me was the life and death of Harry T. Moore, the first civil rights leader to be martyred to the cause. Moore's valiant life and death are covered ably by Gilbert King in the Pulitzer-winning Devil in the Grove, a far, far superior Florida history book than this one."

Today I asked Pittman if he had a list of books he'd recommend that Levine read.

Here's his emailed response:
"If you want to learn about Florida, here's a list of 10 books that would be better than that other one."
--"Seasons of Real Florida" by Jeff Klinkenberg
--"Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams" by Gary Mormino
--"Backroads of Paradise" by Cathy Salustri
--"Fringe Florida" by Lynn Waddell
--"Up for Grabs" by John Rothchild

--"The Man Who Invented Florida" by Randy Wayne White
--"Orange Crush" by Tim Dorsey
--"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston
--"Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen
--"Condominium" by John D. MacDonald

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Audra Burch is leaving the Miami Herald for the New York Times

The bad news: the Miami Herald is losing Audra Burch, one of the paper's most talented journalists. 

The good news: She will remain in Miami  where she will report for the New York Times.

Here's an email Herald bosses sent to the paper's staff:


Time to announce some bittersweet news that many of you probably have heard: Audra Burch, our extraordinarily talented enterprise reporter, has accepted a job with the New York Times, writing enterprise stories for the national desk.

Audra came to the Herald in the mid-1990s after stints at the Sun-Sentinel and the Gary Post-Tribune.

At the Herald, she has distinguished herself over and over, starting as a consumer reporter, shifting into features, where she developed a beat covering the American South, including the funeral of Coretta Scott King and the spate of church burnings in Alabama, before migrating to the Metro desk, where she continued to produce journalism of the highest quality, including a sub-beat on veterans.

Her narrative writing talents are legendary. A few highlights include her coverage of the killing of Sherdavia Jenkins, a 9-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet while playing on her doorstep, and a ticktock on the shooting death of NFL star Sean Taylor.

And then there is Innocents Lost. Audra and Carol Marbin Miller collaborated on the project that painstakingly examined 477 deaths of children who perished despite being under the protective umbrella of the Florida Department of Children & Families. The series led to an overhaul of DCF's leadership, new legislation, and won a boatload of prestigious awards, from Harvard's Goldsmith for investigative excellence to the University of California's Selden Ring to Neiman's Worth Bingham Award to the Online News Association's public service prize. The impact of the series is still reverberating.

The good news is that Audra will remain based in South Florida -- and she will be around for a couple more months working with Carol on another project that should be a fitting capstone to her career here.

Please join us in congratulating her.

Mindy, Rick and Casey

At his press conference today, Donald Trump gave us a preview of the next four years*

*If he lasts that long.

At today's press conference, Donald Trump refused to answer a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta: "You are fake news"

Trump's press secretary then told Acosta he'd be thrown out if he tried to ask the question again.

“I am struck at how normal crazy looked to us today. I mean, this was just a crazy scene. This is the normal of Donald Trump.” —NBC's Chuck Todd