The Ledes

Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

Washington Post: "A former wife of the Islamic State’s leader was released Tuesday after more than year in custody in Lebanon as part of a prisoner swap involving Lebanese security forces held captive by militants in Syria. Lebanese authorities handed over Saja al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi who was briefly married to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the presumed head of the Islamic State. Along with Dulaimi was a group of mostly Islamist detainees, according to officials in Lebanon’s military."

The Wires

White House Live Video
December 1

1:00 pm ET: World AIDS Day

8:30 pm ET: Vice President Biden speaks at the ONE Campaign's "A Night of Music at Carnegie Hall" (audio only)

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Public Service Announcement

Washington Post (October 26): "A research division of the World Health Organization announced on Monday that bacon, sausage and other processed meats cause cancer, and that red meat probably does, too. The report by the influential group stakes out one of the most aggressive stances against meat yet taken by a major health organization, and it is expected to face stiff criticism in the United States."

New York Times (October 20: "The American Cancer Society, which has for years taken the most aggressive approach to [breast-cancer] screening, issued new guidelines on Tuesday, recommending that women with an average risk of breast cancer start having mammograms at 45 and continue once a year until 54, then every other year for as long as they are healthy and likely to live another 10 years. The organization also said it no longer recommended clinical breast exams, in which doctors or nurses feel for lumps, for women of any age who have had no symptoms of abnormality in the breasts."

New York Times: "Kathleen McCormack Durst disappeared from her home in Westchester County nearly 34 years ago.... On Monday, Ms. Durst’s mother, Ann McCormack, who is 101, and three sisters — Carol Bamonte, Mary Hughes and Virginia McKeon filed a $100 million lawsuit against the man who they have long suspected of killing her: Robert A. Durst, her husband. The lawsuit contends that Mr. Durst violated the McCormack family’s right to sepulcher, a rarely used New York law granting family members the immediate right to possession of a body for burial."

Washington Post: "Christmas in Washington" annual TNT special, in which presidents & their families regularly appeared, ends 33-year-run. Ah, must be because of Obama's War on Christmas. Wait, it isn"t!

Michelle Obama accepts delivery of the White House Christmas tree, November 27:

Boston Globe: Michael Dukakis loves leftover turkey. A turkey carcass makes great soup, he said, inviting people to drop off turkey carcasses at his home. So they did.

Domenico Montanaro of NPR with everything you never wanted to know about the strange tradition of presidential "pardons" of turkeys.

Frank Rich reviews "Carol," the film based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, published under a pseudonym. As usual, Rich goes deep.

New York Times: "Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction Wednesday[, Nov. 18,] night for “Between the World and Me,” a visceral, blunt exploration of his experience of being a black man in America, which was published this summer in the middle of a national dialogue about race relations and inequality.... The fiction award went to Adam Johnson for 'Fortune Smiles.'..."

Slate: Carly Simon told People magazine that "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty. CW: Somehow I think I knew that a long time ago.

Guardian: "Gawker, the gossip website..., is giving up on reporting gossip in order to refocus on politics and 'to hump the [2016 presidential] campaign'. The site, founded by British journalist Nick Denton in 2003, announced on Tuesday that Gawker was steering in a new direction that would “orient its editorial scope on political news, commentary and satire'.”

Washington Post: Actor "Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday that he is HIV-positive, as rumored in recent days by an onslaught of tabloid stories. Sheen told Matt Lauer on the 'Today' show that he is going public with his illness for multiple reasons, including that he’s been blackmailed for upwards of $10 million since he was diagnosed four years ago."

... For about $880,000, you can purchase Julia Child's excellent little house in Provence; her kitchen is intact, except for the stove.

New York Times: "Archaeologists have over the years cataloged the rocks [forming Stonehenge], divined meaning from their placement — lined up for midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset — and studied animal and human bones buried there. They have also long known about the other monuments — burial chambers, a 130-foot-tall mound of chalk known as Silbury Hill and many other circular structures. An aerial survey in 1925 revealed circles of timbers, now called Woodhenge, two miles from Stonehenge." With slide show.


New York Times: "In an overheated art market where anything seems possible, a painting of an outstretched nude woman by the early-20th-century artist Amedeo Modigliani sold on Monday night for $170.4 million with fees, in a packed sales room at Christie’s. It was the second-highest price paid for an artwork at auction."

Artist's rendering of the main exhibition hall of the planned wing of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CLICK ON PICTURE TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.New York Times: "In designing its $325 million addition on Columbus Avenue, the American Museum of Natural History has opted for an architectural concept that is both cautious and audacious, according to plans approved by its board on Wednesday. The design ... evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior. The design, by the architect Jeanne Gang for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, aims to unite the museum’s various activities, solve its notorious circulation problems and provide a multistory showcase for the institution’s expanding role as a hub for scientific research and scholarship.”

New York Times: "... Jon Stewart has signed a production deal with the premium cable channel HBO, the channel announced on Tuesday. As part of the arrangement, Mr. Stewart will work on some digital short projects that are expected to appear on HBO’s apps like HBO Now and HBO Go. Mr. Stewart could also pursue movie or television projects with the network. The contract covers four years."

Guardian: "Facebook has announced plans to water down its controversial 'real names' policy, after lobbying from civil liberties groups worldwide."

If you'd like to know whatever happened to former NYT food columnist Mark Bittman, the Washington Post has the answer.

Jennifer Senior of the New York Times reviews Notorious R.G.B., by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik: "It’s an artisanal hagiography, a frank and admiring piece of fan nonfiction."

Digital Globe photo, via NASA, republished in the New York Times. CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE LARGER IMAGE.... New York Times: "Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops.... Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes."

New York Times: "In a landmark study, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands reported that they had conducted an experiment that they say proved one of the most fundamental claims of quantum theory — that objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior. The finding is another blow to one of the bedrock principles of standard physics known as 'locality,' which states that an object is directly influenced only by its immediate surroundings. The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated 'spooky action at a distance,' and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion." CW: Everything is relative, Al.

Gizmodo: On Halloween, "a rather large asteroid — discovered less than three weeks ago — is set to to fly past the Earth at a distance not seen in nearly a decade.... NASA says that 2015 TB145 will safely pass by the Earth and continue to following along its exceptionally eccentric and high-inclination orbit — which may explain why it wasn’t discovered until only a few weeks ago. During the flyby, the asteroid will reach a magnitude luminosity of 10, so it should be observable to astronomers with telescopes."

For $299,000 you could buy the house where Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run." It looks like a dump prone to flooding every time it rains, but it's a block-and-a-half from the Jersey shore beach.

New York Post: "During his time in the White House, President Richard Nixon — pug-nosed, jowly, irascible, charmless-yet-devoted husband to Pat — was known to awkwardly hit on middle-aged female staffers. In 'The Last of the President’s Men' (Simon & Schuster), veteran journalist Bob Woodward quotes Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy assistant, about the commander-in-chief’s sad seduction techniques."

CW: I've completely ignored the buzz about the film "Steve Jobs," so this was welcome:

... Sharon Shetty in Slate: "As the latest attempt to mine every last bit of meaning from the life of Apple’s late founder, Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs will probably make lots of money and spark lots of debate. For those preemptively exhausted by that debate, there’s Conan O’Brien’s less controversial take on a tech biopic: Michael Dell":

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Miami Herald: "... with thousands of votes in Democrat-heavy South Florida uncounted, [Republican Rick] Scott couldn't declare an outright win late Tuesday over Democrat Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer. Sink held out hope that she could close the gap and at least trigger a recount as votes slowly broke her way." ...

     ... St. Pete Times Update: Sink concedes. CW: we now have a governor-elect who defrauded the taxpayers of at least $1.7 billion. He should be in jail, not in the statehouse.

NBC News projects Florida 8th District Republican Daniel Webster will win the House Seat held by Alan Grayson. Orlando Sentinel story here.

NBC News projects Republican Marco Rubio will win the Senate seat in Florida. 8:01 pm ET. Miami Herald report here.

Intrigue! Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Allen of Politico: "Bill Clinton’s recent attempts to suggest struggling Democrat Kendrick Meek should opt out of the Florida Senate race ... [were] only the culmination of a long, delicate, and occasionally testy string of stop-and-start talks that began months ago involving the Florida candidates [Meek & Charlie Crist], the former president, and political aides in the Obama White House, who sought Clinton's intervention as long ago as early spring."

Constant Weader News Flash. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (the real guy, not a recording) just called (10:20 am ET) & urged me to vote for Alex Sink for governor & Rod Smith for lieutenant governor. Not a word about Senate candidate Kendrick Meek or any other Democratic candidates. ...

       ... Update: not as big a deal as I thought. Ben Smith of Politico checked it out & told me Nelson was working for the state party, which is prohibited from spending their money specifically mentioning candidates for federal offices...

AP: "Florida's three-way Senate race grew testier Friday as the last-place Democratic candidate [Kendrick Meeks] denied claims that former President Bill Clinton had advised him to drop out, saying the idea came instead from his independent rival, Gov. Charlie Crist."

Wall Street Journal: "Florida independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist personally lobbied Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek to exit the race this week, offering him a cross that had been a gift from his sister, Mr. Meek said Friday." The story gets weirder from there.

New York Times: "Former President Bill Clinton’s political bank shot appears to have hit its mark with many black Democrats who were lined up at the polls here Friday. They were not voting for the Democratic congressman and neighbor they had long supported — Representative Kendrick B. Meek — but rather for Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who is running for the Senate as an independent."

** Wall Street Journal: "Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would caucus with Senate Democrats if he wins Florida’s three-way U.S. Senate contest on Tuesday, a close advisor told Washington Wire Friday.... Crist spokesman Danny Kanner has denied that Mr. Crist had agreed to caucus with Senate Democrats as part of any deal with Mr. Clinton or Mr. Meek."

CW:  I got a recorded robo-call this afternoon from President Clinton urging me to vote for Alex Sink, the gubernatorial candidate. Not a word about Meek or any of the other Democratic candidates.

Here's part of the letter I just got (October 29, 9:30 am ET) from Kendrick Meek:

Dear Marie,

In the past 12 hours, you've probably heard a lot about Charlie Crist's latest attempt to push me out of this race.

Let me be clear -- I'm in this race until 7 p.m CT/8 p.m ET on Election Night.

President Clinton never asked me to drop out. Since the first day after my primary victory, Crist has been dead set on trying to push me out of this race because he only cares about advancing his own political career.

Instead of simply writing a $10,000 check, I was the first statewide candidate to qualify for the ballot by petition. Over 140,000 Floridians added their names to our cause. For me, this race is about taking a stand for the middle class.

Help me fight back by rushing $35, $50, or more to my campaign....

** New York Times: "Former President Bill Clinton last week tried to convince Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Florida, to drop out of the race – but Mr. Meek changed his mind at the last minute, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton said Thursday evening. Matt McKenna, Mr. Clinton’s spokesman, said the former president believed that Mr. Meek would not win on Tuesday and was urging him to drop out and endorse Charlie Crist...." Here's Ben Smith's scoop for Politico.

     Here's an updated & expanded NYT story. ...

     ... Washington Post: "Charlie Crist personally called a top adviser to Bill Clinton and asked if the former president would discuss with Kendrick Meek the possibility of dropping out of the Florida Senate race, according to a source close to Clinton." ...

     ... CNN: Charlie Crist said he spoke with Rep. Kendrick Meek and 'several people' at the White House about having Meek step out of the race. Crist would not specify to whom he spoke at the White House, but he did say he spoke to Meek about the possible shift and that Meek was 'considering it.'"

          ... Update. BUT Ben Smith of Politico says Crist did not ask the White House for help.

Kendrick Meek issues what Ben Smith aptly calls "a calibrated denial":

New York Times: "Politics is bloodsport in the heavily Cuban [25th] congressional district that includes Miami, and Republican David Rivera is looking pretty banged up." The media & his Democratic opponent Joe Garcia have raised multiple questions about his dodgy financial history & inadequate reporting. "Then there were the accusations from ... Garcia that he ran a mail truck off the road in 2002 to stop an opponent’s political mailing from being delivered." Democrats think they might be able to pick up the seat.

Politico: Alex Sink tells Chris Matthews that the only reason she looked at the message her makeup artist showed her during the debate was that she thought it might be about her daughter who was traveling in Europe. Really? ...

... CNN: "Alex Sink’s campaign violated rules Monday evening at the CNN/St. Petersburg Times Florida gubernatorial debate when her make-up artist delivered a message during a television break. Sink, the Democratic nominee, was shown a two-sentence message on a cell phone that offered her advice during the debate. Republican nominee Rick Scott ... noticed the violation and notified a CNN official, who approached the make-up artist and Sink and confiscated the cell phone." Sink later fired the advisor who sent her the message. CNN identified him as Brian May. With video that shows Sink reading May's message.

David Catanese of Politico reports on the Meek, Crist, Rubio debate of October 24. A more extensive Miami Herald report here. Here's a clip:

Miami Herald, October 20: "Alex Sink and Rick Scott ... spent most of Wednesday's hourlong, televised debate bashing their rivals platforms, experience and character in an effort to break the the logjam that remains with less than two." With video clips. You can watch the full debate on C-SPAN.

St. Pete Times/Miami Herald staff writers on the fourth debate among Senate candidates Meeks, Crist & Rubio.

Here's a screenshot of the text of a huge graphic that appeared on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times, October 19:

     ... Here's the related story by Marc Caputo that excerpts portions of Scott's infamous deposition re: his stewardship of Columbia/HCA, a company that had to pay $1.7 billion in fines for defrauding Medicare. AND this is Caputo's overview of the deposition testimony: "In a series of sworn depositions he gave in lawsuits against his former hospital company, Scott appears to be the polar opposite of the straight-talking Republican candidate for governor in his television ads."

Markos Moulitsas: the reason Kendrick Meek is staying in the Senate race is to help get out the vote for gubenatorial candidate Alex Sink.

New York Times: Schwarzenegger endorses Crist, via Twitter:

I endorse Gov @charliecristfl for Senate. Great leader, works with both parties, and our country needs someone like him in DC right now.

"Fraud Files." Meet Rick Scott:

McClatchy News: "Rick Scott blames President Barack Obama for the nation's economic woes, but Florida's Republican nominee for governor is doing far better now than he did under the last year of George W. Bush's presidency."

"Double-Crist?" Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal, October 8: "Republican leaders in [Florida] ... are fretting that a deal may be in the works to get Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek out of the Florida Senate race in order to boost Charlie Crist's flagging chances of beating Republican Marco Rubio. Across the state, groups such as Palm Beach Democrats for Crist and Tampa Democrats for Crist are emerging. Republican fears are further stoked by the almost universal acknowledgment that Mr. Meek has almost no chance to win." CW: if Crist would pledge to caucus with Democrats, this might be okay-ish.

Miami Herald: "Marco Rubio got the frontrunner treatment in a combative U.S. Senate debate Wednesday night, with both his rivals attacking him as an extremist out of step with Florida."

Here's one effective ad against Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott:

"Taliban Dan." Rep. Alan Grayson is running an ad against the extremist views of his Republican opponent. As Ryan Grim reports, a local news report backed up Grayson's assertions:

Miami Herald, September 17: "a stinging internal investigation into the scandal-rocked Florida GOP under the chairmanship of the now-indicted [party chairman Jim] Greer ... focuses on [Charlie] Crist and Greer -- enemies of the current party leadership -- it portrays the party of fiscal responsibility as having lacked basic financial controls and accountability.... It also absolves free-spending Republican politicians who only reimbursed the party for personal expenses after the media started asking questions." ...

     ... St. Pete Times Update: "Charlie Crist held a hastily called press conference Saturday afternoon at his St. Petersburg campaign headquarters to denounce the Florida GOP's internal investigative report that suggested party donors spent more than $13,400 on a Disney vacation for Crist, his wife, her two daughters and former GOP chairman Jim Greer and his family. He released a Disney bill to Carole Crist showing she paid for $4,712.82 in expenses.... Crist called the party audit report 'literally a sham.'"

So Charlie Crist cut this ad:

... XNCreative produced a revision to make the ad more accurate:

CW: want to know what a rich asshole does when his big investment in his own hubris doesn't pay off? He blames somebody else & sues 'em. New York Times, August 31: "Jeff Greene, a Florida real estate developer who lost one of the year’s most bitter and closely watched primary elections, is preparing to sue The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald for libel, claiming that articles they published cost him his bid for the United States Senate.... Even with an admission of error, a libel case can be hard to prove. [Legal expert] Sandra S. Baron ... said, 'Jeff Greene is going to have to prove that the articles were published with actual malice.'"

Palm Beach Post: "Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene lost his precinct 2-to-1 to Kendrick Meek in the Democratic Senate primary. That’s not a ratio of 2-to-1. It was literally 2 votes for Meek and one for Greene, presumably his own. Greene’s wife isn’t registered in Palm Beach County." Via Ben Smith.

Time's Mark Halperin talks to Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times about the upcoming general election races in Florida:

Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journal: "independent" candidate Charlie Crist won't say with which party he would caucus should he win the Senate race. The last sentence of Bendavid's post is the kicker. Crist ain't gonna say.

CW: CNN publishes Bill McCollum's concession statement, if that's what it is. Ever gracious, McCollum leads off by slamming Rick Scott one last time in this nastiest-of-primary battles:

No one could have anticipated the entrance of a multi-millionaire with a questionable past who shattered campaign spending records and spent more in four months than has ever been spent in a primary race here in Florida.

St. Petersburg Times: "Rick Scott launched a one-man political revolution Tuesday night, defeating Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor. Scott overcame the might of the Republican establishment, the special interests who dominate the Capitol and a longtime politician determined to tar his character.... Scott will face Democrat Alex Sink and independent Lawton 'Bud' Chiles in November. Sink easily defeated little-known challenger Brian Moore in the Democratic primary."

Miami Herald, August 24: "Rep. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee for Senate, overcoming billionaire Jeff Greene's massive television and mail onslaught to win a bitter primary.... Meek will now face Republican Marco Rubio and independent Gov. Charlie Crist in the general election. The New York Times has a more extended story on Meek's win.

Jonathan Martin of Politico: "... the Republican gubernatorial and Democratic Senate primaries Tuesday offer test cases on the limits of TV commercials and, more broadly, what exactly money can buy in a campaign. Rick Scott ... and Jeff Greene ... have together plowed more than $60 million from their personal fortunes into ads.... Yet ... their baggage-laden backgrounds, lack of identity in the state, rookie mistakes on the stump, establishment opposition and Florida’s ferocious press corps have together proved as important as what the pros call 'paid media' — and rendered them likely losers to opponents with traditional political backgrounds who spent far less money."

Orlando Sentinel: "in Florida, the electorate seems to view most everyone in the political arena with a healthy dose of disdain."

Miami Herald: "Candidates in the homestretch of tumultuous races for governor and U.S. Senate fanned out Saturday across Florida, with once-vulnerable political insiders surging in the polls and mega-rich outsiders struggling to regain momentum before Tuesday's election.

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times:  "facing intense competition for the moderate Republicans and independents who could be the keys to victory in one of the nation’s most closely divided states, [Republican Senatorial candidate Marco] Rubio is seeking to show that he is more than just an insurgent protest candidate – and is breaking with some Tea Party orthodoxy in the process."

Orlando Sentinel: Rick "Scott has taken flak for two weeks from Bill McCollum supporters for not releasing a deposition he gave six days before getting in the governor’s race, in a lawsuit against a current health-care company he founded called Solantic. But Scott did apparently get put under oath before about his past company’s behaviour." In a 2000 deposition, he asserted his Fifth Amendment right to testify against himself.

Maggie Haberman of Politico: the St. Pete Times & the Miami Herald publish front-page corrections on a story about Jeff Greene in response to further reporting & threatening letters from Greene's attorney.

St. Pete Times: "In his campaign to be Florida's next senator, [Jeff] Greene stresses his business expertise and ability to create jobs. But in [a] Tennessee court case, Greene's company is being held accountable for late rent, unpaid taxes and poor maintenance. About 50 people are out of work as a result."

Gail Collins introduces you to Florida Senate Democratic candidate Jeff Greene. And his 145-foot yacht.

"Freakin' Weirdos!" Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times has a fun post about fun Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene; it's full of Tales of the Trader like this one: "Aug 14, 06 Sag Harbour NY: 'Last night's party was interesting to say the least! ... Naked, drunken people everywhere! Freakin' weirdo's, bumping & grinding all over the place.'"

La Mirage. Kris Hundley & Caryn Baird of the Saint Petersburg Times (August 8) detail one of Jeff Greene's shady real estate deals. "Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene says he had nothing to do with creating the subprime mortgage mess that made him fabulously wealthy.... But he wasn't just a spectator to the housing collapse. Four years ago, Greene was party to precisely the kind of deal that decimated the market." ...

... Maggie Haberman of Politico: "Billionaire self-funding Senate hopeful Jeff Greene ... is vowing to sue the St. Petersburg Times if they don't print a retraction this Sunday."

... The Saint Pete Times editorial that Haberman cites:

Jeff Greene, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, says he made hundreds of millions by betting the housing market would decline and denies he helped create the economic implosion. The facts paint a different picture. The billionaire participated in a California real estate deal featuring the conversion of old apartments to condos, inflated sales prices to straw buyers and defaults that cost banks and taxpayers millions. The FBI is investigating, and it should talk to Greene. 

This is one effective ad for Kendrick Meek:

The State Column, August 12: "Florida Governor Charlie Crist said on Wednesday that he does not support the Arizona immigration law."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum slings mud at his opponent Rick Scott:

...Then complains about Scott's mudslinging, & adds a few more cowpies to the pile:

As Tampa Times commenter "Moderate Republican" remarks, "Sad thing is, they're both telling the truth about each other."

Gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott & Charles Montgomery Burns. Jim Stratton of the Tampa Tribune realizes he's seen the Rick Scott campaign for governor before -- on "The Simpsons," in the antics of Charles Montgomery Burns (no relation to the Constant Weader, a/k/a Marie Burns) who also ran for governor: "They’re both crazy wealthy. They’re both conservative. They’re both political outsiders. They both have — or had — businesses that ran afoul of the law. And, let’s be honest, they kind of look alike."

St. Petersburg Times, August 2: "... Bill McCollum desperately needed a game-changing moment in Monday's debate with his rival for governor, Rick Scott. It never came, though McCollum delivered a steadier performance in the first of only two matchups between the leading Republican candidates."

Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times of Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene: "Behind the bio soundbites and chipper TV ads lies a man widely disparaged by current and former employees, former tenants and political consultants as a self-absorbed cheapskate. A lawsuit accuses him of being cruel and verbally abusive to his former chef. A deckhand shocked on Greene's Summerwind yacht had to fight eight months to get his medical bills paid after Greene denied knowing him."

Michael Scherer of Time thinks Florida has "perhaps the best Senate race in America."

Keepin' It Classy in Florida. Pensacola News-Journal: Republican state house candidate Greg Brown & his wife Jennifer are caught on an infra-red camera stealing the campaign signs of his opponent. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Department is investigating. Thanks to Politico's Jonathan Martin:

Democratic Senatorial candidate Kendrick Meek goes on-air swinging at his primary opponent Jeff Greene:

... AND Greene swings back:

St. Petersburg Times: "... Gov. Charlie Crist has one place left to raise big money in his race for the U.S. Senate: Democrats. A governor who once courted conservatives by calling himself a 'Jeb Bush Republican' is getting help from liberal trial lawyers, union activists and even elected Democrats, who are shunning their party's Senate hopefuls, wealthy Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami."

Politico: "Black lawmakers are prodding the White House to get more involved in Florida Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek's campaign amid growing concern that less-than-robust backing from President Barack Obama will signal to Democrats that it’s all right to help independent Charlie Crist."

Damien Cave & Michael Luo of the New York Times on self-financed "populist" candidates for high office -- both funny & disturbiing. The article makes Democratic Senatorial candidate Jeff Greene an exemplar & does a good job of demonstrating what a total phony he is.

Rachel Maddow is awfully pleased that Marco Rubio is promoting her show. And she does a little rewrite of his ad:

Miami Herald, July 18: Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek sends out a mailer dissing his primary opponent Jeff Greene, which reads, in part:

A former California Republican, billionaire Jeff Greene made his money on Wall Street rooting against middle-class homeowners hoping their mortgages would collapse.... It's hard to be the worst of Wall Street, but Jeff Greene found a way.

St. Pete Times: "Jeff Greene is spending millions on TV and campaign mailers casting himself the 'proven job creator...,[but he] is best known for having made hundreds of millions of dollars with arcane and controversial investments where he effectively bet on widespread mortgage foreclosures — not exactly a big job generator. He also has delayed filing a required financial disclosure report, so it's impossible to know his current business interests."

Miami Herald, July 14: Jeff Greene's campaign manager, Josh Morrow, has quit the campaign after two months. Greene will replace her with Jessica Vanden Berg.

St. Petersburg Times Editorial Board: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's latest effort to burnish his credentials as a 'pro-life leader'' are deceitful and lack any sense of decency. The hospital executive is shamelessly exploiting the tragedy of a family of a severely disabled young woman, marking the second time he has placed his selfish interests over theirs." CW: read the whole editorial.

The crazy bald-headed Rick Scott runs a hair-raising ad:

Beth Reinhard of the Miami Herald, July 7: "Even by the standards of wacky Florida politics, there was something surreal in the sight of [Democratic senatorial candidate Jeff] Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, driving through Liberty City in a Cadillac Escalade -- the same kind of car he has criticized [rival Kendrick] Meek's mother for accepting from [crooked developer Dennis] Stackhouse. His brazen attack on Meek's home turf reflected the audacity -- critics would say arrogance -- of a real estate mogul bankrolling his own campaign and making his first trip to Liberty City. Greene has lived in Florida full-time only since 2008."

Think Progress: Florida Republican Senate candidate & brilliant economist Marco Rubio advocates cutting the deficit & reinstating Bush tax cuts for the rich. That'll work.

John Frank of the St. Pete Times: "A clearly frustrated and angry [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Rick Scott lashed out at a Republican activist who called him an 'unindicted co-conspirator' and asked him to explain the $1.7 billion health care fraud at his former hospital chain during a Q&A session at a GOP breakfast in Tampa."

Tim Padgett of Time: (horrible) outsiders Rick Scott & Jeff Greene are poised to win two of Florida's primaries.

Jonathan Martin of Politico: "The emergence of a politically unknown billionaire self-funder in the Florida Senate race is prompting top Democrats in the state to say publicly what some have been whispering for weeks: If Jeff Greene, who got rich betting on the collapse of the housing market, becomes their nominee, many in the party will have the cover they need to get behind Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist."

Real Clear Politics: "Florida Senate candidate Kendrick Meek has some magic on his campaign's side in the form of Earvin Magic Johnson. The former Lakers great will be on ABC's telecast of the NBA Finals tonight, but today he's also featured in a fundraising solicitation from Meek."

Yahoo News: Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida says he had no idea Jim Greer, his hand-pick state Repubican party chairman, was an (alleged) crook. even tho a Greer attorney said Crist "signed off on a questionable fund-raising scheme that landed Greer in jail...." Per the Miami Herald: "Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman's confidential fundraising role with the state party -- according to Jim Greer's attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor's statement that he 'didn't know anything' about the deal now part of a criminal investigation."

Jim Greer, mugshot courtesy of the Seminole County (Florida) jail.St. Pete Times: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has arrested former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer "on unknown charges." The FDLE has been investigating his possible misuse of party funds. CW: too bad one of the charges won't be for accusing President Obama of "indoctrinating" schoolchildren, at taxpayer expense, with "socialist ideology.' ...

... Orlando Sun-Sentinel Update: "A statewide grand jury indicted Greer, 47, of Oviedo, on four counts of grand theft and one count each of money laundering and running an organized scheme to defraud. All are felonies." ...

... In a statement, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek slams opponents Charlie Crist for "handpicking" Greer as state party chair & Mario Rubio for "benefiting from Greer's excess."

Every Senate Candidate in Florida Is a Crook. Miami Herald: "As U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek championed a proposed biopharmaceutical complex for Liberty City in 2003, his Miami chief of staff received $13,000 from the project's developer.... The developer, Dennis Stackhouse, is now awaiting trial, accused of stealing nearly $1 million... from the... failed Poinciana Park project that was supposed to revitalize the blighted Liberty City community. Nothing was ever built.... In addition..., Stackhouse hired Meek's mother, former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, paying her $90,000 in consulting fees and paying for a Cadillac Escalade for her."

Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times interviews Gov. Charlie Crist.

Sorry, Charlie Says. St. Pete Times: Charlie Crist will not be returning contributions made to his Senate campaign before he turned independent. A spokesperson said, "They donated to the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Campaign, and it's still the Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Campaign."

Alex Pareene of Salon: Marco Rubio returns to his tea party roots, endorses Arizona anti-immigration law. Rubio's parents are Hispanic immigrants.

St. Pete Times: Sen. George LeMieux, who got that "Senator" in front of his name because Gov. Charlie Crist appointed him, turns on Crist. CW: at least he's "saddened" about being such a little shit. Me too.

Democrat Kendrick Meek makes a strong, effective response to his new rival for the Senate seat, Jeff Greene, who is one huge jerk.

Horror of Horrors. Politico: "Billionaire Jeff Greene, a Florida businessman who made his fortune in the real estate and credit default swap markets, plans to jump into his state's Senate race on the Democratic side. CW: at least he'll make Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek look really good.

St. Petersburg Times: "Declaring the political system 'broken,' Gov. Charlie Crist made his long-awaited announcement Thursday that he will run for the U.S. Senate as an independent." ...

... AP: "Crist's move does pose some tougher long-term questions for today's GOP."