by Benjamin J. Kirby
I was really thrilled to see that Steve Schale, the Democratic political operative who oversaw then-Senator Obama's win in Florida in 2008, is hanging out a shingle, going out on his own.
I have made the decision to jump into government and public affairs world. I have some very cool projects that you will likely hear about in coming days and weeks, but mostly, I am ready to get out on my own. And before my political operative friends get too relaxed, I am also looking forward to playing at least a little politics along the way! But along the same lines, I am also excited about jumping into to some of the real and pressing issues facing our state and our future.
I also plan on re-engaging in this space. Florida will once again be front and center in the national conversation in both 2014 and 2016, providing more than enough opportunities for analysis and punditry. There is no better place in America to practice politics than Florida, and in our ever dynamic state, there is never a shortage of topics to explore.
I'm particularly excited that Steve will be "re-engaging" on his blog. Good. We need more smart voices like his out there. (You know... to counterbalance this crap.)
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This looks like a "yes" vote from the Pinellas County Commission, and that's good news.
The Pinellas County Commission will vote Feb. 26 on whether to place a sales tax increase for major transit changes on the ballot in November 2014.
Though the election is 21 months away, Pinellas County's transit agency asked the commission to save a spot for the sales tax hike on the ballot, setting a deadline by which it must sell the plan to the public. A majority of commissioners have said they will approve placing the question on the ballot.
If my position on light rail and mass transit isn't clear, let me say this: I am for it. Strongly. I think it is abundantly obvious that we are one of Richard Florida's "mega-regions" -- and one poised for great emergence at that -- and if we want to keep moving forward as a region, we need rail, and we need a world-class transit system.
This vote by the Pinellas County Commission later in the month isn't the most important part of getting us towards that ambitious -- and yes, expensive -- goal. But it is a step in the right direction.
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It's State of the Union night, and it sounds like the big news out of the President's speech will be the withdrawal of at least half the troops in Afghanistan by next year.
President Obama intends to announce in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that he is ordering the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to be reduced by more than half over the next 12 months, according to a senior Obama administration official.
The president’s decision — to remove 34,000 of the 66,000 U.S. troops in the country by this time next year — speeds the pace of withdrawal that top military commanders had been seeking, according to U.S. officials briefed by senior officers involved in the war.
This -- an interesting and poingnant juxtaposition the day after a rare Medal of Honor was awarded -- is nothing but good news as far as I'm concerned. I'll be curious to see how Senator Rubio handles this in his response.
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And speaking of Senator Rubio... the Violence Against Woman Act just passed in the Senate.
He voted "No". Along with:
...Republicans John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Jeff Thune (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).
Stay classy, fellas.
Rubio's reasoning for voting no may offer some insight into what he could say in response to the SOTU:
Unfortunately, I could not support the final, entire legislation that contains new provisions that could have potentially adverse consequences. Specifically, this bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions. These funding decisions should be left up to the state-based coalitions that understand local needs best, but instead this new legislation would put those decisions into the hands of distant Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Justice. Additionally, I have concerns regarding the conferring of criminal jurisdiction to some Indian tribal governments over all persons in Indian country, including non-Indians.
In other words, let's take government out of Washington! It's the old state's rights bit... you know. Local control.
Well. Except for those Indians.
Right. So local control, except for local Native Americans. Got it.
And -- you had to know it was coming -- he claims to have concerns about shifting "a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs."
I'd be willing to bet you the price of lunch that those "sexual assault programs" offer abortion services. What do you think?
This... is the Republican savior?
-- more later --