If you watched President Obama's major speech on his national security policies yesterday, or even just read about it today, you no doubt must have seen or heard about the protester at the National Defense University in Washington who began shouting in the middle of the address regarding drone warfare.
That activist was Medea Benjamin, best known as being a member of Code Pink. That's a group of female peaceniks who wear pink and are best known for crashing congressional hearings and speeches like the one Obama held yesterday, espousing their message (they were quite active in the not very active protest scene here in Tampa last year at the RNC).
Code Pink is actually only a handful of people, and Benjamin has been their main face and voice. Still youthful looking at 60, I began covering her back in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 90's with her human rights group Global Exchange. After George Bush began his war on terror, Benjamin began making regular appearances in Washington, where she has become an almost Zelig-type activist, always at the site where all the cameras are.
Some conservatives (namely Joe Scarborough) have denounced her and her group today, asking how come they were so in prominent during the Bush era, but have been dormant during the Obama years. But nothing could be further from the truth. Last year she published a book called Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, which was extremely critical of Obama's reliance on drones as a method in the war on terrorism, and she and her minions were part of a group of left-wing activists who some say forced Obama to delay naming John Brennan to head CIA years ago (that job went to Leon Panetta, then David Petraeus, then Brennan).
Rand Paul's infamous filibuster speech against drone warfare (and targeting American citizens) was another occasion where the left and Libertarian right came together to show opposition to this policy. Meanwhile, Benjamin says she'll protest the president again, so enough of the idea that left-wing activist groups like Code Pink have been "soft" on him on this issue.
Well, the Boy Scouts went up and did it last night - they're allowing openly gays in their ranks. That was too much for Orlando-area conservative activist John Stemberger, who says he'll leave the organization and try to form a similar style group.
The Tampa City Council had a very intense discussion yesterday regarding the hiring of a budget analyst. Bottom line is that it ain't gonna happen.
And in Tampa, St. Petersburg and 400 other cities around the world around 2PM tomorrow, people will be coming together to protest the Monsanto Corporation.
While Pinellas County officials have worked toward having their citizenry vote on light-rail plans in 2014, nothing much has been done in Hillsborough since the resounding defeat.
But finally, lawmakers in the county who have gotten off the canvas are ready to revisit discussions about the area's transportation needs, which have only gotten more extreme in the intervening years.
Turanchik said his law firm — Ackerman Senterfitt — decided to get involved after the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) conducted two studies that proved Tampa Bay area citizens had substantial interest in the idea. Turanchik added that a ferry could transform the community and offer a "Wow! factor" (a comment that was repeated by public figures like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn).
"We have a high level of confidence," said Greg Dronkert, the president of the Seattle-based company, on the chances of success. Dronkert said even though the population density is as strong as his group prefers, there is also a "captured market" of riders — a large group of people who would exploit the opportunity to stop driving and take the ferry to work.
The corrupt attacks and denials follow “a pattern like Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, and even Watergate. The Obama administration is as corrupt as it can be and we won’t stand for this.” Douglas Coggeshall, engineer and history buff, believes that history is repeating itself once again and he plans to stand up against the cycle.
On Tuesday, Tea Party Nation demanded attention from the American people as they stood up and rallied against what they said were attacks on conservative Americans, following reports that the Internal Revenue Service excessively scrutinized their groups seeking tax-exempt status going back to 2010. Local participants gathered on the sidewalk out front of the Columbus Ave IRS building in Tampa to join the movement.
These individuals and conservative organization members came out to support the Tea Party movement with American Flags, yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” Flags, several “Fire Obama” signs, and numerous anti-IRS signs demanding for liberty and freedom from the unconstitutional taxes and scrutiny.
Approximately 120 protesters came out in full force against the IRS and even the President. The majority of the individuals wanted to show their support of the cause and their disapproval of the IRS’s behavior.
The Tea Party Patriots’ website made note of the various stages of the IRS scandal. They claimed that, as early as February 2010, the IRS agents began targeting organizations with the words “tea party” and “patriot” in the name. The site continues to reference occasions where the IRS denies the allegations of the scandal.
Sunday, May 19, marked the Golden Anniversary of the annual Eckerd College graduation commencement in Saint Petersburg. More than 500 graduates, their families and well-wishers, the faculty and the board of trustees all gathered under a circus-styled big top for the ceremony. This year’s commencement address was delivered by Bill McKibben, a world-renowned environmental activist and educator.
McKibben has written several books on global warming and alternative energy, and is the founder of the grassroots climate movement 350.org. The 350 number refers to the amount of CO2 in parts per million which is the safe upper limit on a human tolerance scale.
Scientists, including McKibben, assert that an accelerated greenhouse effect will be the outcome if 350 ppm is exceeded, and that translates directly into bizarre and erratic climate change. 350.org is behind what's considered to be the largest globally coordinated protest, with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries.
Join Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa community leaders this Tuesday, May 21, to celebrate the newly finished Adamo Drive Mural. The dedication is taking place at 2 p.m. which will include a preliminary session with the artist, Michael Parker, and a reception afterward.
The proposed fiscal year 2014 operating and capital budget for Hillsborough County's transit agency will come in nearly 27 percent lower than last year. The $62 million slated to spend next year is slightly higher than the current amended budget, but it's part of the agency's capital budget, which is expected to have significantly lower revenues — it's penciled in at $15.2 million, compared to $28.5 million in FY 2013.
Nevertheless, HART is expecting even more passengers to ride buses next year, despite keeping the operating budget almost the same.
Can we end the pretense espoused by such conventional wisdom proprietors as MSNBC's Joe Scarborough that the various problems hitting the Obama White House "threaten" his second term agenda? With the exception of immigration, Republicans (particularly in the House) have not really shown any interest in working with the president whatsoever (though on budget issues they're sort of forced to) since his re-election.
What else? Gun control? Please. Yes, some GOP Senators have taken a hit in their poll numbers after voting against basic background checks, but there hasn't been any serious effort to try to resume those legislation. Tax reform? This had been a goal of the GOP coming after the fiscal cliff negotiations. Could they work with Obama on this, as the investigations with the IRS take place? Maybe.
You have to sort of doubt that though when you have some Republicans going on television and saying that the recent problems with the IRS and Benghazi might lead to impeachment . In USA Today, conservative columnist Michael Medved is urging Republicans not to go down that route, since the odds are low it could happen, it could backfire and benefit the president, and Medved contends, it would only help Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, two of the leading Democratic candidates for president in 2016.
But on immigration, why would these issues affect those negotiations? There are certain Republicans who are hellbent on crushing that proposal in the Senate, but there are just as many members of the GOP (like their entire establishment) who believe it's crucial that comprehensive immigration reform be passed this year in order to stop hemorrhaging Latino voters. So yes, it's safe to say that the Obama agenda might be a bit in peril in terms of his goals for the second term. But let's be honest - with a hostile GOP House and Republicans using the filibuster to require 60 votes in the Senate, any major accomplishments (with the exception of immigration) were always going to be a major haul - so stop blaming these the incidents breaking in the last week as being the culprit.
We did watch White House aide Dan Pfeiffer do all five Sunday morning public affairs shows yesterday defending the President in the wake of the IRS/Benghazi/AP storm. He certainly had his talking points down cold, though he did have to suffer the indignity of CBS' Bob Schieffer asking him "Why are you here?"
Though it got little mainstream media coverage that we noticed, CL's Terence Smith was on Treasure Island Beach on Saturday to cover the 5th annual Hands Across the Sands event.
And if you missed over the weekend, all of a sudden Hillsborough County has gone from being one of the largest homeless areas of the country to being quite average in that respect -but the reason for that isn't that they've all found shelter.
Scandals like the I.R.S. targeting the Tea Party in recent years are custom made for cable news and its network equivalents, the Sunday morning talk shows. Add in the revelation about the Justice Department's seizure of the records of nearly 100 people at The Associated Press, and oh yes, Benghazi, and let's just say that programming decisions weren't a challenge for Sunday show producers this week.
Doing the "full Ginsberg" today was White spokeman Dan Pfeiffer, who seemed to have his talking points down cold to take on the slings and arrows of an assortment of news anchors - some more hostile than others.
President Obama's supporters say he's not directly involved in any of the scandals (which critics said was the problem with Benghazi), and that he learned about what was happening at the IRS at the same time as everyone else - thru the media 10 days ago. That's led for some to say that he's out of touch, or even incompetent, but Pfeiffer's message to all the talk show hosts was that it was actually a good thing.
"No President would get involved in an independent I.R.S. investigation, that would be wholly inappropriate," Pfeiffer told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace. "For very good reasons in this town, the White House needs to stay as far away from the IRS and let them do their business."
The five separate rallies held in the Sunshine State were organized by social conservative John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council. He predicts that if the ban is repealed there will be a "mass exodus not only of major denominations but of common sense parents saying, 'We can't trust scouting anymore.' There's not that moral consistency in the program."
"The reason we believe this resolution is a bad one for scouting is because it brings sex and politics into scouting," says Greg Roe of the Gulf Ridge Council troop #402, the Tampa-based chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. Sounding like officials with the military who defended "don't ask, don't tell," Roe says that the Scouts have always had gays in their ranks, but not openly declared gays.