Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Putney Challenge, and more from the news

The daily run through the Miami Herald was over 50 percent dispiriting on Sunday, and the list will appear below. But first here’s the pep-up item that hit at the end of Michael Putney’s Sunday morning show, “This week in South Florida,” on WPLG Channel 10.

He cast a sharp eye on wet foot/dry foot, the policy that lets Cuban migrants stay in the United States if they reach dry land but most likely repatriates them to Cuba if they are stopped at sea. I didn’t have a tape running on the show, so these aren’t direct quotes, but his argument ran as follows:

The people who run the smuggling boats are prosecuted, but those who are smuggled are not, though they participated in an illegal act. Also not prosecuted are their relatives who paid for the smuggling. Then there’s the fact that those who are smuggled would be likely to oppose the Castro regime if they remained in Cuba, so this U.S. policy amounts to a safety valve that lets the Castros get rid of opponents. This doesn’t make sense, and Putney looks forward to hearing from the candidates for Congress with new ideas.

Call that the Putney challenge. Let’s hear from Annette Taddeo, running in District 18, Raul Martinez in District 21 and Joe Garcia in District 25. Anyone got a new idea to replace wet foot/dry foot?

May I also ask our D friends among the incumbents, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, District 20, and Kendrick Meek, District 17. Any new ideas? Friends?

This policy is one of my favorites in declaring South Florida as having driven the United States slightly mad. Ethnic politics gone ‘round the bend. Think how this looks from Mars.

I’m not in favor of prosecuting more people – the jails are far too populous already. I AM in favor of having less organized crime around, and smuggling is part of that underworld. Where I do some of my recreation, in the Florida Keys with boating enthusiasts, theft of high-powered boats is a serious problem, to the point that my slow sailboat is not a target for thieves, nor is an ordinary powerboat with puny motors.

It seems pretty clear we need new thinking in this area. I’m waiting to hear responses to the Putney challenge.

Meanwhile, my list from the Sunday Herald:

Headline: Miami Cuban groups to get less aid.

This one presents opportunities for our Democratic challengers for Congress, though it would help if the Herald didn’t ignore our reasonable comments, e.g. what Joe Garcia said the other day when this began to emerge. In part: "Today's developments underscore the fundamental flaws of a policy designed to win votes in Miami and patronize partisan supporters -- not bring freedom to Cuba.” See the rest of his statement here.

Headline: Delegates seated in limbo.

Political writer Beth Reinhard once again mines the – for her – fertile field of how the Democrats screwed up the primary date and their participation in the Democratic convention. And once again never mentions that it was a Republican idea in the first place. Also doesn’t mention that the Republican-dominated legislature is in session and could be encouraged to do the right thing for all the primary voters whose votes were diluted or swept aside by the legislative foolishness of last year. Hey, Tallahassee! Let’s have another primary!

Headline: 10 great destinations to see before it's too late.

This was shocking. The Herald’s Travel section kisses off the Everglades by mentioning the environmental jewel of South Florida as one of 10 world destinations endangered by global warming. Go See These Places Now! And by the way, here’s two paragraphs about the ‘Glades.

Let me tell you: we’ve got some ideas about saving the Everglades, starting with electing Democrats to Congress and building the Skyway to help restore natural water flow in the River of Grass.

Headline: Don't trust this gang with our state's future.

On the positive side, Carl Hiaasen’s Sunday column identifies Jeb Bush as a central driver in the odd business that may get more religion into our politics in Florida. "The unseen hand behind this crusade belongs to former Gov. Jeb Bush ..."

Headline: Pleas to save homes put lawmakers in bind.

Back to the negative: If you, like me, opened the Sunday Herald to p. 5A and saw the little file shot of Lincoln Diaz-Balart on a story about the Foreclosure Crisis, you may have looked in vain for mention of the person running against the FL-21 incumbent. You may have noticed that the story, datelined Hialeah, was not from the Miami Herald’s own stable of writers or from the Herald’s owners, McClatchey. It was a NY Times news service article, so you could look it up online and see a more balanced report, including a photo of Democratic challenger Raul Martinez, and two paragraphs of comment from him, as follows:

Raul Martinez, a former mayor of Hialeah who is running against Mr. Diaz-Balart, said he planned to point out repeatedly that his opponent was slow to help homeowners in crisis.

“People are so concerned about taking care of themselves they might not call anybody,” Mr. Martinez said. “You may not want to let the world know you are losing the house. We have a lot of proud people in our community.” As for Mr. Diaz-Balart, he said, “If I was him, I wouldn’t be waiting. I would be out there leading.”

I can only wonder what Republican breakfast food it is that they eat at the Herald when deciding which words to cut from a piece like this. Let’s see, we’ll cut this guy, he’s a Democrat …

I call this one: Herald misuses NY Times article.

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