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Doris writes a weekly column for LaGaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper, which has pages in English, Spanish, and Italian.  Begun in 1922 for Tampa's immigrant community, it continues to thrive more than a century later.  Her column is titled "In Context," as it aims to put contemporary issues in the context of the past.

The Truth and the Whole Truth

Read this section to the end, please, where I have a question I’ve not seen addressed. The latest from the Current Occupant of the White House is that he is going to take away the security clearances of several top former officials, most of them in intelligence agencies, but also the former ambassador to the UN and a couple of deputy attorneys general he doesn’t like. He’s already revoked that of former CIA Director John Brennan. He didn’t follow statutory procedure on that, which requires that a person whose clearance is being questioned gets notice and has a legal right to respond. Instead, Brennan found out after the fact, when a friend phoned him.

Instead of following the law, the fascist at 1600 Pennsylvania assumed that he is a law unto himself. Once again, he demonstrated his lack of understanding of how things work in a democracy: federal employees do not lose this verified and re-verified status just because a new commander comes onboard. There are hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people with various levels of security clearances, and the nation would be completely vulnerable to attack if these people – some of them your neighbors who work at MacDill -- could not count on the stability of this status that is essential to their assignments.

Whether civilian or military, when one gets a high-level clearance, one agrees to conditions that can last long after one departs from the job. Hubby, for instance, was in the Army Security Agency in the late 1960s, and because of the possibility that he could be kidnapped and interrogated by Soviets, he was prohibited from traveling to Eastern Europe until 1985. Not that Troublemaker-in-Chief knows or cares about such details. Nor about the sacrifices that true patriots make to uphold democracy.

So my question, which I’ve not seen anyone raise, is if revocation works both ways: having lost their security clearances, are these people now free to speak about whatever they wish? Does it mean they can testify before Congress in open session and answer questions without evasion? Can they be witnesses in court without violating their security oath, telling the truth and the whole truth? A revocation, it seems to me, is akin to breaking a contract: if one side breaks it, the other is no longer obligated to uphold it. The Trump method instead seems to be akin to a divorce in which he can end his marital vow, but the promise that you made will remain binding forever. Revocation should work both ways: if you have no secrecy status, you have no obligation to secrecy. You can tell the whole truth.

Quick Thoughts

 Had you thought about the irony of Melania choosing cyberbullying as her PR cause, given that she is married to a chief cyberbully? Why hasn’t anyone asked her about this? If the First Couple were Democrats, reporters would be on it.

 Someone pointed out to me recently that we use the word “care” when we don’t truly care -- as in “child care” and “health care.” We don’t use labels such as “banking care” or “business care” or even “labor care.”

 Someone else said that when Rick Scott proclaims, “jobs, jobs, jobs,” he means you need three of them to get by.

 Have you noticed how the Koch Brothers are trying to reform their image? The very guys who spent billions to bring the Tea Partiers to the White House seem to regret that. Even though they got their bigly tax cut on their excessive gains, they now are laying down money with PBS, National Geographic, Nova, and other television outlets that promote scientific thought. I wonder if the dupes who donned silly clothes and got on buses to rally for Republicans are aware of this bait-and-switch.

 And Florida Grown – I’d seen this motto on the back windows of pickup trucks that were notable for their discourteous drivers, and I thought about researching the name to complain to a boss. Now I realize that this obscure, cult-like message comes via the PAC of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – a Republican, of course. I guess it works for guys who aren’t brave enough to risk a bumper sticker that clearly states their electoral preface. I’m increasingly alone on that, as almost everyone has caved to terrorists with keys to scratch vehicles. Please don’t cave; defend your right to this form of free speech; stand proud. View a scratch as a medal of honor.

The Wave is Coming, Part 1

When you read this on Friday or Saturday, I trust you will already have cast your ballot for the party primaries on Tuesday the 28th. Yes, I understand that many of us liked going to the polls on Election Day, but given Florida’s population growth, voting is no longer a community activity when you see friends and perhaps have coffee at your local church or school. With almost a million registered voters in Hillsborough alone, it is not a game to be completed in a short time frame.

Oregon led the way on mail-in ballots in 1998, becoming the first state to completely conduct its elections that way. You’ve never heard of a scandal in Oregon, have you? Hillsborough can take some credit for early voting in libraries, and now both early voting and mailed ballots allow Craig Latimer’s very competent office to keep track of things as they go along. This method just makes so much more sense than waiting for a dump of hundreds of thousands on ballots at the courthouse at 8:00 PM on a weekday.

By now, most states have held their party primaries. Texas is the first, with a March election and a run-off in May. Only a half-dozen states still hold run-offs, all of them in the South. This dates to the era of “the Solid South,” prior to the 1970s, when almost everyone in the South was a Democrat and the general election didn’t matter nearly as much as the primaries. As a result of Richard Nixon’s 1968 “Southern strategy,” conservative Democrats peeled off to the Republican Party, and leaders of both parties decided they needed more time to battle each other instead of engaging in internecine warfare.

Florida dropped its run-off primaries a couple of decades ago, and even though it was pushed by Republicans, I was glad. Prior to that we had a primary – sometimes with a dozen candidates who claimed to be Democrats -- in early September, then a run-off primary in October, and the general election in November. It was exhausting. It also was disabling to party leaders, as there was only the one month between October and November when you knew who your nominee was and could speak on his/her behalf.

Florida primaries are “closed,” meaning that only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary and vice versa. Other states have other ways, with the most distinctive being Louisiana, which has its “jungle primary” in November and its run-off in December. Yes, after the presidential election. That way the family dynasties that have controlled the state since it was a French colony have enough time to see which way the wind has blown.

Nor does everyone vote on Tuesdays. New York, which will hold this year’s primary on September 13 and is the last except for Louisiana, votes on a Thursday. As does Tennessee, but back in August. Rhode Island opts for Wednesday, and only Hawaii is progressive enough to choose the logical day, Saturday. State variations on voter registration and voting mechanisms are endless, and the whole subject needs much more national awareness and discussion. But today, my point is about women.

The Wave is Coming, Part 2

Arizona, like us, has its primary on August 28, and then we will know whether its Republicans nominate one of the two women who are running or if they go with notorious former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who lost to a Democratic man in 2016. The polls show the women ahead, but I never doubt the willingness of Republicans to nominate a zealot. Did you see that Missouri Republicans just did that by nominating a talk-show host who has been quoted as saying, “Hitler was right”?

But assuming Arizona Republicans choose a woman, and assuming that on the same day, Florida Democrats nominate Gwen Graham, we will have a total of thirteen female nominees for governor. That is a historic high, moving up from ten – a record first set in 1994 (yes, when Bill Clinton was president). Of the eleven women who now hold their parties’ gubernatorial nomination, eight are Democrats and just three are Republicans. But still – thirteen? Among fifty states? And we have to consider that a big deal for the half of citizens who are women?

There are 435 seats in the US House, and the numbers of women who hold their parties’ nominations for House seats also is historic, with at least 185, up from 167 in the last election. Again, by far the majority are Democratic women. After Tuesday, we will see how this sorts out in Florida, where we have several opportunities to add women to our congressional delegation. We currently have six: our Kathy Castor, of course, as well as Stephanie Murphy and Val Demmings from the Orlando area, plus Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson in South Florida.

Among the female candidates for Congress, the closest to us is Kristen Carlson in Polk and part of Hillsborough. Across the peninsula and going south, we have Nancy Soderburg, Lauren Baer, Mary Barzee Flores, and Debbie Mascarel-Powell – as well as more than a dozen candidates (including former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala) eager to replace the retiring Illena Ros-Lehtinen. She was the only Republican woman in our delegation, and I’m predicting that after Tuesday, there will be none.

Before you get too excited about the rapid pace of progress, though, let’s do the math. We have six female incumbents, all of whom probably will be reelected, but even if a miracle happened and all five of the serious candidates above manage to win both their primaries and the general, that gives us only eleven women – of Florida’s 27-member delegation. With the rosiest possible prediction, that’s still less than half. Several states have better records, especially with female US senators.

According to the Center for American Women in Politics, which is based at Rutgers University, there are already five races for the US Senate in which women are the nominees of both major parties, while we haven’t had a woman win a US Senate race since Paula Hawkins in 1986. We haven’t nominated one since Betty Castor in 2004. And remember, too, that next Sunday, August 26th will be the 98th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Celebrate by casting your ballot!


Doris Weatherford writes a weekly column for La Gaceta, the nation's only trilingual newspaper. With pages in Spanish, Italian, and English, it has been published in Tampa since 1922.
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