Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011: Rubio, Birthers and Dolphins Star in "Silly Season"

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Hurricane Rina may soon provide a serious distraction from South Florida's "Silly Season."

The season has been punctuated by the birther movement's aim at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida - and a blunder Rubio committed - and the circus atmosphere surrounding the once-great Miami Dolphins.

-The racist dunderheads who make up the birther movement, having embarrassed themselves by going after President Barack Obama, are now going after seemingly any non-WASP politician with national ambitions. That includes Rubio, who has been on some Republican lists as a potential vice presidential candidate next year.

They claim that Rubio isn't a "natural born" citizen of the United States - even though he was born at Miami's Cedars of Lebanon hospital (now part of Jackson Health Systems) in 1972. Their ludicrous argument is that Rubio's parents didn't become United States citizens until after his birth.

-Rubio, by virtue of being (to quote Bruce Springsteen) "Born in the U.S.A.," is very much a natural-born citizen. But he didn't do himself any favors in misstating the time his parents left Cuba.

Leaving Fidel Castro's Cuba as a refugee has always triggered higher political stock than leaving Fulgencio Batista's Cuba as a refugee - which Rubio's parents did in 1956, three years before Castro came to power.

Until recently, Rubio's biography on his campaign material and Senate site suggested that his parents left Cuba after Castro came to power. It's possible that he wasn't listening when his parents mentioned the date they left. But anyone who grows up with parents who came from Cuba usually knows, at some point, the exact date their parents left the island.

Rubio can help himself by making it official and releasing his parents' immigration records.


It's hard to know what was more embarrassing about the Miami Dolphins on Sunday - the way they blew the game, or the way owner Stephen Ross showed up his head coach and his players.

The nod here goes to Ross. In two seasons as the Dolphins' owner, he still hasn't figured out how to recreate the formula that was perfected by legendary founding owner Joe Robbie. Robbie hired good front office people who recruited young college talent such as Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and so many others, and then capped it off by hiring the brilliant Don Shula as head coach. The result was magical, including a perfect 1972-73 season that has yet to be matched in the National Football League.

All Ross has done is stack the ownership boxes with celebrities (The only celebrity during the Robbie era was longtime friend Danny Thomas.), watch team VP Bill Parcells go without a by-your-leave and keep General Manager Jeff Ireland, who hasn't impressed with any player selections and hasn't given Coach Tony Sparano, who led the Dolphins to the playoffs in his first year (the second-to-last year of the Wayne Huizenga era) anything to work with.

Then, after conducting a public search for someone to replace Sparano and reluctantly sticking with him, Ross really stuck his head in it during Sunday's game with the supposed honoring of the 2008 Florida Gators - whose quarterback, Tim Tebow, now plays for the Dolphins' Sunday opponent, the Denver Broncos, and whose coach, Urban Meyer, just happened to be chatting with Ross on the sidelines.

Even Florida/Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who has made some boneheaded decisions, might not stoop that low.

A 1969 Sports Illustrated profile of Robbie - done before the Shula hiring and the glory years - shows some early mistakes on his part, but he certainly corrected them. Ross would benefit by taking a few moves from the Robbie playbook.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011: Abraham and Fariss: The Best of South Florida

By Sylvia Gurinsky

How should a South Floridian act? Try following the examples of Anthony Abraham and Wayne Fariss.

Abraham, who died at age 100 last week, came here from the Midwest in 1951 and truly established a second life - first as a car dealer, then as a philanthropist. He was the last surviving creator of St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and he supported countless South Florida charities. Not just his name, but also his imprint is in such organizations as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Miami Rescue Mission and more.

Wayne Fariss, who also died last week, graced the airwaves of WCKT (now WSVN) Channel 7 for most of the years from 1956-84 as an anchor and reporter. He was the ultimate professional in covering stories ranging from the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba to hurricanes to the Yom Kippur War. Here is a clip from WCKT's coverage of Hurricane Donna in 1960:


Good reporting should be giving the basics, and Fariss excelled at that.

Both men represented the best of South Florida. They leave many fans and a fine legacy to follow.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18: What the "Other 99%" Needs To Demand

By Sylvia Gurinsky

So far, it's only a venting of steam.

The Occupy Wall Street and other protests, to this point, have opposed the current economic situation - class inequality, the disappearing middle class, an economic elite class that hasn't given or sacrificed enough of itself in this crisis, unemployment, the lack of justice concerning those who caused the crisis.

It's time for the next step - a plan of action. A list of demands for people in both the public and private sector:

1. That U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder open formal investigations of any criminal activity concerning the 2008 economic meltdown. If he doesn't, he should publicly explain why he doesn't.

2. That Congress approve, and President Barack Obama sign, the bill that prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants who have been out of work at least six months.

3. That Congress and Obama consider legislation that would scale back the mega-mergers and other business hijinks that have led to so many layoffs.

4. That pressure be put on businesses to ensure that executives and management work in and understand every aspect of a company. It's a lot harder to lay off those you do know.

5. That tax incentives be provided for businesses to stay and hire in the United States - and tax penalties be provided for businesses that fail to do either.

6. That genuine housing reforms be done, including the curtailing or total banishment of strategies that make it more difficult for honest people to pay their mortgages.

7. A recruitment of intelligent and honest candidates for political office next year, challenging any incumbent - Republican, Democrat or otherwise - who doesn't support the above reforms.

Those who are protesting owe it to the entire "99 percent" to go for those goals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday October 11: Use the Best of (Steve) Jobs To Restore Economy

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Steve Jobs was a great American creator, but not a perfect one. As a boss, he could be tyrannical. His all-American Apple products are made in China.

Still, he was a visionary and put ideas into practice that American business could sure use right now.

Imagination and creativity are sorely lacking in the executives who are still thinking quarter by quarter and still laying off reliable employees by the thousands. Those executives are a major reason for the "Occupy Wall Street" protests springing up across the country.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak began building the Apple I computer in 1975 - a time when the United States was just beginning to emerge from a crippling recession. They founded the Apple company in 1976. Many entrepreneurs have been inspired to create new companies during national economic crises.

Jobs endured failure, being forced from Apple during the 1980s. He began again, first with Disney Pixar, which has made films such as the "Toy Story" series and "Monsters, Inc."

He reclaimed his mantle at Apple during the 1990s and introduced the slender, multicolored Macbook.

Then, he faced mortality in 2004 with a cancer diagnosis. What followed was probably his greatest creative period since his design of the early Apple computers, with the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

The result: Apple has been doing very well in a very bad economy.

In the wake of Jobs' death, lots of people have referred to his 2005 speech at Stanford University's graduation ceremonies. It is most relevant for how to get out of today's crisis:

"Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."