Friday, September 28, 2012

On Mitt Romney's disrespect for military veterans

Former Navy secretary and Vietnam veteran
Jim Webb drops the hammer on Romney. via Politico.

Thanks to Alfred Spellman for the heads up.

Via The Washington Post:
Introducing President Obama in Virginia Beach, retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), condemned Mitt Romney for failing to mention veterans or the military in his GOP convention speech.

The omission was all the more damning, Webb suggested, because Romney is of an age where he might have served in Vietnam but did not.

“If nothing else, at least mention some word of thanks and respect when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes a speech,” said Webb, a former Navy secretary and decorated Marine who served in Vietnam. Romney was exempted from the draft, first as a student and then as a missionary.

“This was a time when every American male was eligible to be drafted. People made choices,” Webb said. “Those among us who stepped forward to face the harsh unknowns did so with the belief that their service would be honored.”

Webb also tied in Romney’s much criticized remark that 47 percent of Americans believe they are “victims” who feel entitled to federal handouts, saying some of those benefits go to veterans.

“Those young Marines that I led have grown older now. All gave some. Some gave all. That’s not a culture of dependency,” he said. ”They paid. Some with their lives, some with their wounds, disabilities. Some with emotional scars. Some with lost opportunities. Not only did they pay, they are owed. They are owed.”

From December, 2011: Gay Vietnam vet looks Romney in the eye: ‘You can’t trust him’

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Watch Michael Putney get splashed with water

Local 10's senior political reporter Michael Putney went looking for an interview at the home of Justin Lamar Sternad; the man whose whose failed congressional campaign is the subject of a federal grand-jury investigation.

Putney didn't get an interview but he did get a pitcher of water thrown in his face.

This afternoon he told me by phone that he's OK, but could use a dry shirt.

Click here to watch the video.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The way we were...Blonde firebug arrested

From the Miami News, Sept. 26, 1962.

Fifty years ago today, the editors at the Miami News decided a story about the arrest of "an attractive blonde with a police record as a firebug" would probably sell a lot more newspapers than a story about 75 people being executed by firing squads in Cuba.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Maybe now, they'll stay in jail for a while

Here's a shocker: the three men arrested in connection with the weekend robbery and shooting of an off-duty Miami-Dade police officer, have all been arrested before.

Dedrick Brown and Travares Santiago, 20, and Willie Barney, 19, have been arrested numerous times according to public records.

L. to R., Dedrick Brown, Willie Barney and Travares Santiago.

One of the men, Dedrick Brown was out on felony bond after being arrested just last month on a charge of carrying a concealed firearm.

Click to enlarge.

Willie Barney, the man who police say shot the officer, was convicted in 2009 on an armed robbery charge.

And, despite being just 20 years-old, Travares Santiago has racked up a string of arrests that include auto theft, sale and possession of cocaine and marijuana and aggravated battery on a pregnant female.

But, it took their latest brush with the law to finally keep them in least for the foreseeable future. Today, all were ordered held in jail without bond.

Today, I asked Miami Beach attorney Michael Grieco how it was possible that these three could be walking the streets despite their criminal pasts. Here's his response:
Our criminal system, not just in Miami-Dade, but everywhere, is based upon an innocent-until-proven-guilty model.

Unless one is charged with a non-bondable offense (facing life in prison generally) or was either out of custody on a previous case or in violation of probation, he or she is entitled to a bond/pretrial release as a matter of right.

Carrying a Concealed Firearm is a third degree felony and usually carries no more than a $5000 bond (10% to a bondsman gets him out).

I am sensitive to a law-abiding citizens concern for safety, but an arrest does not necessarily mean guilt, and a Defendant is entitled to his day in court without sitting jail while he waits. In the case of the subjects in this case, they are young and have had very little contact with the system previously. They will be held without bond now because of the nature of the charge.

By the way.... here's a prediction: You probably won't be reading about the criminal pasts or seeing the pictures of these thugs in the pages of the Miami Herald anytime soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homegrown in Florida

Several weeks ago, my friend Jeff Klinkenberg, who writes for the Tampa Bay Times, posted a link to a new book on his Facebook page.

The book - Homegrown in Florida - is a collection of stories by writers who were either born in Florida or who grew up in the state.

Two of Jeff's stories are included in Homegrown.

Jeff's colleague at the Times, environmental writer Craig Pittman, also has a story in the book.

A few days ago, I asked Jeff and Craig if they'd send me a few paragraphs from their stories.

Here are those excerpts along with their remembrances of a much simpler time in Florida.
Jeff: I am a child of the Miami 50s and 60s -- the days when kids went barefoot, climbed coconut palms, played in the woods, built rafts and for some of us, fished from morning until night. It was an innocent time and sometimes I think my life was something out of Mark Twain. Sometimes I wonder how I survived some of things I did, how any of us survived it. Of course, the fact is, not all of us did.
Jeff Klinkenberg in Miami in the 1960s.

This excerpt is from an essay called "Nothing I could do'' from 1987. It's still very hard for me to read it.

I liked to climb to the roof at night and throw water balloons at passing cars, and when that lost its novelty I hurled guavas, a common tropical fruit. One night, a couple of teen-agers whose car I smashed with a guava chased a friend and me over fences, through bushes and into back yards where dogs snapped at our heels. We somehow escaped.

One night, a friend and I built a dummy, and, hiding behind a bush, threw it in front of a passing car. The car screeched to a stop, and an elderly man got out, shaking, certain he had killed somebody. I am still ashamed.

By the time I was 14 I was a fishing fanatic. I fished for snook in a canal that passed through a golf course in Miami Shores. I had to trespass to fish, but I was good at climbing high fences, and I didn't mind running from the cops. The cops would take you to the police station, call your parents, and confiscate your tackle. They never caught me.

Sometimes I wish I had been caught. If I had, maybe I would have stayed away from the golf course once and for all. Maybe Keith still would be alive, and on those nights when I lie awake in a cold sweat I would no longer hear him screaming for his mother.

I went back last week. In Miami for business, I had a couple of hours to kill and drove to the golf course . I walked along the first fairway, crossed a bridge that spanned the canal, passed under the railroad trestle - and then stopped when I saw the dam.

I was staring at the dam when a golf course ranger drove up in an electric cart. ''What are you doing?'' he asked. I told him I'd come back to the scene of a tragedy that has haunted me for 23 years, a tragedy my mind continually dredges up whenever I am depressed or I start worrying about the safety of my own sweet children. Death is no abstraction to me. That a lot of people live to old age is, I know, a matter of luck, of being in the right place at the right time. I am afraid to trust happiness.

''I remember it,'' the golf course ranger said. ''I lived across the street from the 16th fairway. I remember all the excitement. It was awful.''

''I was there,'' I said.

''Kids still sneak on the golf course to fish,'' he said. ''I chased 10 away already this afternoon.''

''Take it from me,'' I said. ''It's no place to fish.''

Jeff's website:


Craig: This is a picture taken in my pine-tree-packed backyard in Pensacola, circa 1972. Behind me is the green concrete block house I grew up in. It had jalousie windows, the kind you can crank out or crank in. Usually there was at least one where the crank broke or the window didn't close all the way. You can see just a sliver of the mobile home park next door. I'm standing next to a box kite that my friend David and I were using for what we believed to be "scientific" experiments on the principles of flight that allowed all those Navy jets to zoom overhead all the time. Taped to the kite is the name of the research "company" we invented, Pittman & Fields Inc. It was headquartered in a ramshackle tree house we built in that same backyard.
Craig Pittman in 1972.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with airplanes. If I saw a plane flying near our yard, I’d run to get underneath it. I thought having a plane fly over you brought you good luck. Even if I could just catch the tip of a wing, it was enough.

Because we lived in Pensacola, “the Cradle of Naval Aviation,” Navy training flights were zooming over all the time. We lived in a one-story concrete-block house, painted green as if it were trying to blend in with the pine needles hanging from the trees around it. Our house looked like it belonged in the suburbs, but we lived on a red clay road as we were way out in the country.

I hated that clay. It meant I could never ride my bike beyond our driveway. When the weather was dry, my tires would sink into the loose clay like I was trying to ride through a sand dune. When rain fell, the road turned into such a morass that was impossible to wade through it, much less ride around in it. Once in a while the county would send a big yellow grader around to smooth it out, but that never lasted long. I was an only child on a street with no playmates, trapped there by a lack of asphalt.

The downside to living in a Navy town is that the population is fairly transient. Next door to our house was a trailer park where the residents, most of them Navy folks, moved in and out so fast we never got to know them. Probably it didn’t help that every time one of them looked out one of those tiny windows, they saw me running around in circles, head tilted toward the sky like I was watching for UFOs. Clearly I was nuts.

Craig's website:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The way we were...'Lady in Cement' - 1968

Before 'Scarface" and "Miami Vice," made-in-Miami crime dramas looked a lot like 1968's "Lady in Cement."

frank sinatra, raquel welch, raquel welch bikini lady in cement, frank sinatra miami beach

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan stumps at the Versailles
Restaurant on Saturday. Photo By Pedro Portal / EL Nuevo Herald
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan on Saturday brought his Pander Bear Express to Little Havana's Versailles Restaurant.

From the New York Times:
Ryan Criticizes Obama’s Cuba Policy and Explains His Shift on the Issue

MIAMI — On a morning intended to reassure hard-line anti-Castro voters, who are a powerful force in South Florida Republican politics, Representative Paul D. Ryan made a pilgrimage to a restaurant here at the heart of the Cuban exile community in Little Havana. Part of the reason: to criticize what he called President Obama’s “appeasement” of the Cuban government.

But the visit was also intended to do some fence-mending of his own: as a young congressman from a largely rural Wisconsin district, Mr. Ryan, now Mitt Romney’s 42-year-old vice-presidential running mate, supported ending the trade embargo with Cuba, an unpopular sentiment among many Republicans and Cuban exiles in this part of Florida, one of the most crucial swing states in the general election.

“If we think engagement works well with China, well, it ought to work well with Cuba,” Mr. Ryan had said a decade ago in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The embargo doesn’t work. It is a failed policy,” he said, adding that while many Cuban-Americans were passionate in their support of the embargo, “I just don’t agree with them and never have.”

And so on Saturday morning, Mr. Ryan appeared alongside a powerhouse lineup of Florida Republicans including former Gov. Jeb Bush at the restaurant Versailles, long famous as a gathering place for the anti-Castro movement.

And here's how the Miami Herald chronicled his visit:
In Little Havana, Paul Ryan pledges hard line on Cuba

The Republican vice presidential candidate said his Miami Cuban-American colleagues in Congress have taught him about conditions in Cuba, and he said he and Mitt Romney would enforce a “tough” policy toward the island.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan got the Cuban exile seal of approval Saturday at a campaign rally in Little Havana where he pledged to hold a hard line against the Castro regime.

The Republican vice presidential candidate did not mention that he once opposed the U.S. trade embargo against the island, but he pointed to his change of heart — prompted by Miami’s current and former Cuban-American Republicans in Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

“They’ve given me a great education — lots of us in Congress — about how we need to clamp down on the Castro regime,” Ryan told supporters at the Versailles restaurant. “We will be tough on Castro, tough on [Venezuelan President Hugo] Ch├ívez.”
So, let me see if I've got this right:

Paul Ryan, who is one half of the team that says it's time to do things differently, shows up at the Versailles and pledges during yet another cliche-filled photo-op that he's all about keeping the failed, half-century old embargo against Cuba in place. That's fresh thinking, Paul?

Telling Cuban-Americans what
they want to hear is a time-honored
Republican tradition.
May, 20, 1983.
In March 2007, Miami Herald reporter Beth Reinhard wrote, "For politicians visiting Miami-Dade, glad-handing with patrons at the coffee window at Versailles has become as compulsory as kissing babies. But sipping cafe con leche and shouting 'Viva Cuba libre!' no longer guarantees votes in a community that has moved from the margins of society to the professional and political mainstream."

In her piece, Reinhard quoted a prominent Cuban-American Republican: "Cuban-American voters have reached a level of political sophistication where the empty rhetoric of the past regarding Cuba's liberation is no longer acceptable. Our community now demands specific policy proposals on achieving freedom and democracy for the Cuban people. Anything less is summarily rejected."

Which Cuban-American Republican uttered those words?

None other than David Rivera, who was a state representative in 2007, and who's now the subject of numerous local, state and federal investigations.

Rivera didn't show up at the Versailles today to get his picture taken with Ryan.

Friday, September 21, 2012

SNL spoofs Romney's '47 percent' video

-via Politico
NBC aired SNL's "Weekend Update Thursday Edition" on Thursday, poking fun at Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remarks that were videotaped at a private fundraiser. In the leaked footage, Romney said that "47 percent" of voters are "dependent upon government," don't pay federal income taxes and will vote for President Barack Obama.

In the spoof, SNL’s Jason Sudeikis' Mitt Romney character reenacts the tape and explains who he meant by the "47 percent."

“I don’t mean senior citizens. And I don’t mean members of our armed services. And I don’t mean southern whites," Sudeikis said in the clip. "When I say ‘These people,’ I mean black people.”

U.S. Postal Service to Florida old people: 'Stop crashing into our post offices'

This is what the Goldenrod, FL Post Office looked like last March after
a 72 year-old woman hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. Orlando Sentinel photo.

The U.S. Postal Service is asking Florida drivers to stop crashing into their post offices.

Via Yahoo News:
The U.S. Postal Service has taken the unusual step of releasing a set of helpful tips to help reduce the number of drivers in Florida who have been crashing their cars into post offices. This year so far, eight drivers have crashed into post offices in Central Florida alone.

Local ABC affiliate WWSB7 reports that the tips include, "Avoid distracted driving; Proceed slowly and carefully when pulling in, and backing out, of parking spaces; Visibly check to see whether your foot is on the gas pedal or the brake pedal," and "Visibly check to see if the vehicle is in Park, Reverse or Drive."

The USPS says the two most common causes of such accidents are when drivers step on the gas instead of the brake pedal and when the driver accelerates thinking the vehicle is in reverse.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jon Stewart explains the 'Romney Reboot'

Best analysis of Mitt Romney's latest gaffe comes from Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News:
Presidential candidates have no private meetings. If Kate Middleton can't have privacy, what makes you think you can? Seriously: It's telling to me that Romney apparently thought a roomful of people carrying smartphones was safe. I dunno whether he's out of touch with the electorate, but he was clearly not mindful of the basic facts of current technology.
[But] I'm waiting eagerly to see what Jon Stewart [does] with this tonight. I'm imagining something like what Gallagher does to a watermelon.
Ladies and this corner, "the watermelon."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Look: iPhone 5

The Jimmy Kimmel Show sent a camera crew out on the streets of L.A. to ask people what they thought of the new iPhone 5.

There's just one problem: The iPhone 5 hasn't been released yet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's a jungle out there...

Seen outside my window this morning: An anole out for a little breakfast almost becomes breakfast for a persistent cardinal.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fausto Lopez, Miami cop busted for speeding by FHP, is fired

-via CBS Miami:
Fausto Lopez, the Miami police officer who made headlines after he was pulled over on the Florida Turnpike by a Florida Highway Patrol officer for speeding has been fired.

Lopez was fired by Miami Police on Thursday. This comes more than a month after an internal investigation into the matter determined that he should be terminated.

The internal probe found that Officer Lopez showed a “practice and pattern” of reckless speeding. Lopez routinely clocked speeds of more than 100 miles per hour while off duty between September and November 2011, according to the report.

Sun-Sentinel: Speeding cop Fausto Lopez fired

Termination Memorandum and Reprimand - Fausto Lopez

Monday, September 10, 2012

World Trade Center Commemorative Time-Lapse

Time-lapse video of the rise of One World Trade Center, New York's tallest building, captured between February 2010 and September 2012.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Miami Herald Deathwatch (cont.)

According to one retired journalist, a Florida newspaper inched a bit closer towards extinction this morning by burying the story of former president Bill Clinton's speech on page 12A.

I couldn't agree more.

Before we name the newspaper that stuck the story of Clinton's speech on 12A, let's look at how some other Florida newspapers played the story.

Click to enlarge.

By now you're probably saying, "Don't keep us in suspense, Random Pixels. Which Florida newspaper has editors dumb enough to bury the day's major political story on its inside pages? And what could possibly be more important than a story everyone is talking about?"

Click to enlarge.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Daily Show - 'A Fistful of Awesome'

"Normally we don't work Fridays, but then the chair thing happened. #DailyShow"

"This is the most joy I've gotten from an old man since Dick Cheney non-fatally shot one in the face."

"Mitt Romney recalls an uncomplicated America, and suggests Americans could all live again in a nostalgic paradise if it wasn't for one f**king guy, President Barack Obama."