Monday, December 22, 2014

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry.

Restoration is back

"A push to get on the 2016 ballot a proposal allowing the automatic restoration of a felon’s civil rights upon completion of their sentence has been steadily growing." "Florida petition drive would make it easier for ex-felons to regain voting rights."

Poor lil' wingnut

"Jeb Bush’s announcement that he was considering running for president caused waves in the political community -- but his announcement also brought attention to his support for the Common Core State Standards, which have caused their fair share of controversy in the Sunshine State."

Common Core is one of the most hotly contested issues among conservatives -- several national politicians who once pledged their support for the standards (like Bobby Jindal) changed their tunes and vowed to remove them from their states.
"Common Core Could Be Jeb Bush's Achilles Heel."

"Get real, Ms. Bondi"

The Miami Herald editorial board: "Over time the U.S. effort to isolate Cuba began to have the reverse effect of isolating the United States." "Get real, Ms. Bondi."

"A year of unmitigated controversy"

"2014 was a busy year in Florida education. It was a year of change for students, parents, teachers and schools statewide -- and it was also a year of unmitigated controversy." "2014: A Noisy Year in Florida Education."

Nancy Smith: "In case you think the old adage "it's who you know" only pays off in the private sector, you might want to consider a promotion made last week at one of the busiest, lawyery-ist state offices in Tallahassee." "DBPR Boy Wonder William Nicholson Spicola: Who Did He Know?."

"Cuban embargo a fossilized flop"

Carl Hiaasen: "After 54 futile years of hard-line hostility, the United States will begin normalizing diplomatic ties with Cuba."

Politicians who are riled by the new diplomacy with Cuba wouldn't dare trash the pope. It's much safer to trash Obama, who at this point shouldn't care what Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz has to say.

The key to the breakthrough was the return of ailing American contractor Alan Gross, who'd been imprisoned for five years. Cuba agreed to free Gross, 53 political prisoners and an agent for U.S. intelligence who'd been locked up for more than two decades.

In exchange, the United States released three Cuban nationals who had been convicted of spying here in 2001. Those on Capitol Hill who are criticizing the swap need to brush up on their math - Cuba freed a total of 55 prisoners and our government freed only three. How is that a bad deal?

" More important, it opens the door to ending a festering standoff that has punished Cuban families on both sides of the Florida Straits, while diminishing U.S. influence in the Caribbean and the Americas."
Cruz, Rubio, Jeb Bush and other presidential hopefuls would look like right-wing dinosaurs if they promise a new, harsher crackdown on Cuba. . . .

It's astounding to hear people still trying to defend the U.S. strategy of isolating Cuba, which stands out as one of the worst foreign-policy backfires in diplomatic history. The trade embargo has only served to fortify the regime it was meant to topple, providing a desperately needed scapegoat first to Fidel and then Raul.

Every economic crisis that rocked Cuba has been pinned on the United States, deflecting blame from the ruinous fiscal policies of the Castro government.

Yet, as Miami's exile community knows, the U.S. embargo has made life harder for the Cuban people, who at times are unable to obtain medicines and even such basics as bread and soap.

Despite the progress made last week, the embargo remains in place to punish everybody but the Castro brothers, who haven't missed a meal since the revolution. Only an act of Congress can rescind the ban on trade and regular tourism, and the new Republican majority is unlikely to act.

That's a true shame. The Cuban embargo isn't just a fossilized flop; it's indefensibly hypocritical. America trades avidly with scores of countries that have lousy records on human rights.

"An unexpected outbreak of common sense over Cuba." Meanwhile,"Opponents formulate a strategy to derail Obama’s new Cuba policy." More: "Rubio’s fury over Cuba shift Senator’s response to policy change shows why move to normalize ties is both good policy Syndicated 2 days, 9 hours ago."

Marc Caputo: "After Obama's announcement, hope has come to Cuba. But what kind of change?" (paywall).