Sunday, December 30, 2007

Southern strategy further explained

This is a history lesson, and one that I've featured here earlier this year, back when Harry Dent's obituary first appeared. Now he's again in the NY Times, taking up two pages in the Sunday Times magazine, as one of the notables who passed away during 2007. This is a man who worked in the Nixon White House -- that's 30-some years ago, but tell me: Is his work still being done in this Republican administration?

President Nixon rewarded Dent with a White House job as his keeper of those same regional code words, the man in charge of demonstrating to the South that the White House would not be working to enforce federal civil rights laws, while appearing publicly to endorse them. That move would soon be enshrined in the press as the "Southern Strategy."

Once again, one of his notable admissions was he regretted that he might have stood in the way of the rights of black people.

We've got to help people realize that earlier in life.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blogger gone to Iowa










Ice on the Mississippi River near Hamburg, Illinois, Dec. 23

Dear readers:

Your blogger is away from the usual desk, for about two weeks, and output will be diminished for a while. I’m in Waterloo, Iowa, working as a volunteer on the John Edwards campaign. This website does not endorse candidates before the primary, so I’ll strive for neutrality in any comments here.

For starters, how about this photo I took the other day in Illinois of the icy Mississippi River. Two days before that I was in shorts and T-shirt in Miami Beach. I am kept fairly warm here by the energy of political action, but I still look forward to getting back to warm weather.

A few seconds after I took this photo, a great blue heron came flying down and landed on the clear ice near the shore. It looked bewildered standing there on top of the "water" with a barrier between it and the minnows.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Florida’s Financial Fiasco: Chapter Two

This could start out like the preceding post: So glad to have dipped into Florida Politics this morning. It’s a good blog that has two thought-provokers in the early going. Must do this every day: click on Florida Politics. Now, I’ll write myself a reminder if I can find the to-do list. Lord, the Christmas Cards!! Too late, anyway …

The very top of Florida Politics’ reading recommendations was this Bloomberg article, or at least its excerpts in the Pensacola blog, wherein “Beach Blogger” concluded of our former governor:

“It’s past time for Mr. Jeb Bush to disclose the details of his contract with Lehman brothers.”

For starters, Do I hear any Democrats demanding it?

Actually, there’s not much about Jeb in the Bloomberg piece, though as a critic says therein:

“Bush is a consultant to the company selling bad investments to the same agency on which he served as a trustee until January.”

Before launching deeper into a Bushian broadside, let’s step back. We’re talking about a fiasco that ripped some $2 billion out of the pockets of Florida taxpayers, and it’s hardly making a ripple. Maybe it’s my fault. I haven’t posted on this since Dec. 3 when my headline announced “Florida’s financial crisis.” The news then was a run on the equivalent of a Florida state money-market fund. Call that Chapter One of my meager attempt to foment rebellion.

Now in Chapter Two we have a lot more detail provided in the Bloomberg piece, also in the Miami Herald and maybe other outlets around the state.

Has anyone heard of this on TV, where most folks get their news? Probably not, no good video – until we get to the boarded-up schools and laid-off firemen. These are possible casualties down the line as local government agencies find they can’t get money they put on deposit with the governor.

Essentially, that’s the deal here: depositing your tax revenues with the governor until you need to write checks to pay your staff and bills. Banks aren’t good enough, you see. They don’t pay high-enough interest. The governor knows this guy, you see, who will give higher rates. And don’t ask about the risk.

Well, thank goodness they didn’t put all their – our – money in the subprime swamp.

Getting back to the kernel of Chapter Two: The problem for the governor is that folks didn't have to be financial insiders to be aware that subprime lenders were in trouble. Many months ago all it took was occasional glances at the headlines to see that they needed ever greater infusions of capital. If I’d had any spare money to invest earlier this year, I would have gone 180 degrees away from subprime lenders. No sir, those guys are in bad shape. But the governor kept on buying. And then bought some more. And more and more.

Of course, it wasn’t the governor alone. He and the attorney general and our top Democratic elected official in Florida, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, make up the board that oversees the “state bank.” Until the run on the bank erupted in late November, they were advised by a former crony of Jeb’s, Coleman Stipanovich, with the title of executive director and a salary reported as $180,214 in 2006. Stipanovich was fired soon after the run forced closure of the fund.

In the Bloomberg article, Alex Sink explained why: The CFO thought that Stipanovich was getting independent advice from the big Lehman Brothers investment bank, when in fact Lehman Brothers was selling (unloading) dubious debt to Florida’s unsuspecting taxpayers.

We with suspicious minds may ask: Did Jeb Bush, in his role as consultant to Lehman Brothers, have any role in all this? Helping those paying him an undisclosed amount (Lehman) sell dubious debt to Florida taxpayers through a crony (Stipanovich)?

Bloomberg and the Miami Herald report Jeb’s not commenting.

In this corner, that’s not good enough. Nor is it satisfying to see Jeb’s big brother George W. in the paper today contorting his face when asked about those destroyed CIA videos of (probably) torture. “Let’s wait and see … no opinion from the podium.”

Disgusting stonewalling.

FOOTNOTE: The Bloomberg article reports that the “state bank” managed $184 billion. That’s about two years of the state budget, isn’t it? I know there are pension funds in there and all that, but isn’t it a lot of money to be stashed away with little public oversight? Call that a memo to anyone running for state legislature.

Jeb's biographer has a blog: Jeb watch

So glad to have dipped into Florida Politics this morning. An item as short as this one advises that S. V. Date, the Palm Beach Post reporter whose biography of Jeb Bush would not make the former governor happy, has a blog: www.svdate.com. Go and read.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Win in '08

Good images to be found here:
democrats 08: Fear | Ads of the World

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Want to see a dead blog?

Blogs may fade away. Blogs may go the cardiac-arrest way: sudden. This was one of the leading blogs in South Florida, and it went suddenly in a fight over anonymous blogging. I’ve got to wonder what this country is coming to if anonymous blogging is a big problem, but there you are. And I blog with my full real name, with hardly a thought about it.

Bye bye to Stuck on the Palmetto. Take a look at the valedictory post, titled “The Off Ramp,” click on the snowy vista and hear a little Western guitar embellish the mood. A passed-away blog.

Wednesday’s Miami Herald stunned me with the news back in the Metro section, p. 3B. The link.

“Online fight ends blog” was the headline. Reason given:

“Its author worried he’d be outed by a fellow blogger who knows his full name and job.”

The two who posted on Stuck on the Palmetto were Rick and Alex, no last names, and otherwise not much identified. As it happened, I had met Alex a few times as I was getting into blogging for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party early this year, so I called him and commiserated a little and confirmed that the Herald’s view was correct, at least as to Rick: Its author feared he’d be outed. Alex was not so worried and was more public, but he remained anonymous, too, since it would look odd if one of the two authors had a name and the other went unnamed.

Now let’s go to the side that may have been willing to out the Stuck bloggers. The Miami Herald says it’s a journalist from the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Bob Norman, who writes a blog called The Daily Pulp for that weekly paper.

There are some posts there to explain: a bare paragraph in yesterday’s roundup (no link found to the individual item, so scroll down to the headline "Palmetto Shutdown"), and a longer post last Wednesday Dec. 12. Seems to suspect that Rick was a cop and that one could wonder how he did his job and had time to blog prolifically. Here’s that link.

Bloggers must worry what will happen when “people” get after them. As someone told me today, a blogger who works for a newspaper has a company for defense, while independent bloggers, like Rick and Alex, could get sued and have to pony up a lot for defense. Could be enough to make a blogger feel the pressure and take cover.

I would usually read Stuck on the Palmetto a few times a week, but unfortunately I missed the final battle entirely and am left wondering what is in the detail of the posts.

Note: For those not familiar with Miami’s geography, the blog’s title is a reference to the Palmetto Expressway, a beltway that veers straight west from I-95 north of Miami and then after a few miles turns south and eventually provides connection to the Turnpike and on to US 1 and Key West. Being stuck on it is a regular feature of a commuter’s day. Time to think and fume.

Register new citizens to vote -- on Thursday, too!















Abbie Cuellar, Delsa Bernardo and Gabrielle Redfern (l-r front row) with John Hornbuckle, BJ Chiszar and Joe Garcia.


There's a fun side to political work, and it comes out when I'm dealing with people who are happy to fulfill their civic duty by voting. It intensifies when people are brand-new citizens, and I'm the lucky guy with a clipboard helping them register to vote.

Maybe that's the reason for the smiles on these faces -- they're about to engage enthusiastic new citizens outside a naturalization ceremony Wednesday in Miami Beach. It's a non-partisan effort -- I signed up some new-citizen Republicans. But it's pleasing to report that by far the majority we saw at the first session were declaring themselves to be Democrats.

There's more to come on Thursday -- about 10,000 more new citizens are to be sworn in. If you want to help, be at David's Cafe on Meridian Avenue just off Lincoln Road at 8 a.m. Thursday for Breakfast On Joe and a briefing on how to do it.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Father fears for Pablito after SCHIP veto










This toddler captured hearts when we met him and his father, Pablo Urquiza.

In this post, Pablo tells the story of his son, costs of his epilepsy treatment, and the SCHIP veto.

Are you listening, Mario Diaz-Balart?

Last September, my three year old son Pablo was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy. Although this is very difficult for any parent to deal with (no one wants to see their child suffering from a disease) the situation was alleviated by the fact that at least my family had health insurance provided through my employer.

My son’s condition required hospitalization, visits to the emergency room, x-rays, various MRI’s, encephalograms, the intervention of doctors, paramedics, specialists and medication – with the cost of his treatment rapidly escalating to nearly $30,000. Fortunately, I had medical insurance and a job. Then I was told that I was being laid-off, and I was left without a steady job, but with medical coverage (for only a few more months).

That’s when I really became desperate. What do I do? What happens if I have to take my son to the hospital again? And what if he has to undergo more costly examinations? Just one MRI costs $4,000…A good option for someone in my situation would have been the health program for children, SCHIP. But at the same time, I learned that President Bush had just vetoed extending coverage to millions of children who are citizens and legal residents in this country. I also discovered that my Republican congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, also voted against extending coverage which would have helped my son in the near future.

What excuse do these bureaucrats have to deny my son a basic human right – the right to have access to the best medical care possible? How can the richest country on the planet deny that right to my three year old son? What can I do as a father? I want Mario Diaz-Balart to explain to my son, face to face, the reasons why he has forgotten those who are helpless and innocent.

--- Pablo – Miami Lakes, Florida


Thanks to Isabel of Democratas de Miami for talking with Pablo and translating. Check out our blog in Spanish that she handles, http://democatasdemiami.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lincoln Diaz-Balart takes on the world

Our Republicans in the U.S. House are so vulnerable.

Here's a link to Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21) acting up on the floor of the House.

This is a reminder that there's a movement to draft Raul Martinez to run against Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and another to draft Joe Garcia to run against Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). Wish I was reminding you of yet another movement to draft a candidate against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18).

Here's a link to some of Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's fanciful speculation about how the GAO might take on World War II. As you may imagine, she was rejecting the GAO's criticism of the way the war in Iraq was going. She nagged the wrong witness, for the GAO head reminded her that Defense Secretary Gates has no military experience. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rudy: Corrupt and cavalier, and then more

If your Republican friends are trending toward Rudy, here’s something you should feed them: it's a link to The Real Rudy.

It's a news release from the Florida Democratic Party on why Rudy wasn’t paying attention much to the 9/11 Commission back in 2002 – he was busy getting filthy rich, and in dubious fashion. And there’s a neat Florida link to this story. Go check out the FlaDems news release and don’t neglect to follow the links therein to the Time Magazine and New York Times articles.

It makes me cringe at the way big money and fears of terrorism will work together with the industry devoted to data mining. The result could be a United States with a thoroughly controlled citizenry and a disastrous appetite for unending war.

There. Scary enough?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yes to Torture, say Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balarts

Our three Republican members of the U.S. House have voted for torture. Yes, let’s reaffirm that: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL-21), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) voted Thursday with 186 other Republicans on the Nay side of a measure that the Democratic majority put forward to bar CIA agents from using waterboarding while questioning suspected terrorists.

Thank goodness that the Republicans no longer are in the majority in the House – the measure passed in a 222-199 vote. Let it not be said that the Democrats are worthless in Washington.

That said, we don’t know what will happen when this measure hits the Senate with its lovely rules and scant Democratic majority.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Iran protest at Ros-Lehtinen office


Part of the group of 10 who
left a petition Thursday at
U.S. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's office.



















No war over Iran. That was the message as protesters working under the MoveOn umbrella left petitions at the Miami offices of two Republican menbers of the U.S. House.

Targets were Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, FL-18, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, FL-25.






No to Jan. 29 property tax referendum

Miami-Dade Democrats are against the property tax referendum that will be part of the Jan. 29 voting exercise. Explanation will follow, but first:

YES! Do vote on Jan. 29. DO NOT swallow any of the negative commentary trying to make you think that your vote for the presidential nominee will be worthless, just because of the fuss over primary dates.

As Nancy Pelosi and others have said: The person who emerges in the lead after the caucuses and primaries will become the party leader and will surely rule in favor of seating the Florida delegation at the Denver convention. Who would be so insane as to snub Florida at that point? Who would snub 27 electoral votes?

With that out of the way, we have to consider what else will be on the ballot, and the biggest item is the lightly considered proposal to amend the state constitution to change property tax rules. I confess that the full details escape me. Those who’ve looked at the verbiage that emerged from the legislature say it may be page after page on the voting screen. I’ll provide a link below to the full text. Here comes the news:

The December meeting of the Democratic Executive Committee voted to oppose Amendment #1 on “Property tax exemptions; Limitations on property tax assessments.” The DEC vote was largely on grounds that the result would be budgetary hardship for public education, first responders and public officials and services. And that most property tax-payers would save so little money that their financial burden would not be eased.

Chairman Joe Garcia said more thoughtful work needed to be done by the tax and budget reform committee in Tallahassee.

The decision to oppose the measure was made by a voice vote of over 100 people attending the Dec. 10 meeting.

Here, thanks to DEC Secretary Charlotte Klieman, who made the motion, is official information on the referendum proposal:

PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS; LIMITATIONS ON PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS

Reference:

ARTICLE VII, SECTIONS 3, 4, AND 6; ARTICLE XII, SECTION 27

Summary:

Link to full text

This revision proposes changes to the State Constitution relating to property taxation. With respect to homestead property, this revision: (1) increases the homestead exemption except for school district taxes and (2) allows homestead property owners to transfer up to $500,000 of their Save-Our-Homes benefits to their next homestead. With respect to nonhomestead property, this revision (3) provides a $25,000 exemption for tangible personal property and (4) limits assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property except for school district taxes.

In more detail, this revision:
(1) Increases the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000. This exemption does not apply to school district taxes.
(2) Provides for the transfer of accumulated Save-Our-Homes benefits. Homestead property owners will be able to transfer their Save-Our-Homes benefit to a new homestead within 1 year and not more than 2 years after relinquishing their previous homestead; except, if this revision is approved by the electors in January of 2008 and if the new homestead is established on January 1, 2008, the previous homestead must have been relinquished in 2007. If the new homestead has a higher just value than the previous one, the accumulated benefit can be transferred; if the new homestead has a lower just value, the amount of benefit transferred will be reduced. The transferred benefit may not exceed $500,000. This provision applies to all taxes.
(3) Authorizes an exemption from property taxes of $25,000 of assessed value of tangible personal property. This provision applies to all taxes.
(4) Limits the assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property to 10 percent each year. Property will be assessed at just value following an improvement, as defined by general law, and may be assessed at just value following a change of ownership or control if provided by general law. This limitation does not apply to school district taxes. This limitation is repealed effective January 1, 2019, unless renewed by a vote of the electors in the general election held in 2018.

Further, this revision:
a. Repeals obsolete language on the homestead exemption when it was less than $25,000 and did not apply uniformly to property taxes levied by all local governments.
b. Provides for homestead exemptions to be repealed if a future constitutional amendment provides for assessment of homesteads "at less than just value" rather than as currently provided "at a specified percentage" of just value.
c. Schedules the changes to take effect upon approval by the electors and operate retroactively to January 1, 2008, if approved in a special election held on January 29, 2008, or to take effect January 1, 2009, if approved in the general election held in November of 2008. The limitation on annual assessment increases for specified real property shall first apply to the 2009 tax roll if this revision is approved in a special election held on January 29, 2008, or shall first apply to the 2010 tax roll if this revision is approved in the general election held in November of 2008.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New DailyKos post on Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez

Here's a new entry, Blue Cubano, for the list of bloggers talking about Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez running for the U.S. House of Representative. Blue's diary went up Tuesday evening with a lot of close analysis of opinion in the two districts, 25 and 21, respectively. I added a comment with details of the web sites backing Garcia and Martinez.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Achievement Award for Bennett Brummer















Retiring Public Defender Bennett Brummer (left) and Carlos Martinez, who is running to succeed him, with Joe Garcia, Democratic Party chairman.


The Honorable Bennett Brummer received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Monday for his "longstanding contributions to our community and for his enduring commitment and passion in upholding the principles of Democracy and of the Democratic Party."

Brummer has been elected eight times to be the county's public defender, and is retiring at the end of his term next year.

Also honored at the Democratic Executive Committee's monthly meeting and holiday party were James Willoughby, Kristin Wipior and Barbara Schwartz. They received plaques honoring them as Volunteers of the Year for many hours of work on Democratic business.

Your blogger, Larry Thorson, was honored as "Committee Chair of the Year for 2007" for work on the communications side of the Democratic Party.

Many thanks to all!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hispanic strategy looks promising

Here's good news for those of us using the Hispanic strategy for at least part of our electoral campaign planning: The NY Times last week reported a Pew Hispanic Center survey showing "a strong preference for the Democratic Party" among Hispanic voters.

This is a reversal of the Republicans' strong showing among Hispanics in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

Identified as strategic states are -- Guess who? -- Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. All were carried by George W. Bush with narrow margins in 2004.

Here's a link to the Pew Hispanic Center report itself.

Our new blog in Spanish

We have a new companion blog in Spanish -- freshly minted today. What a thrill!

Thanks to our new blogger, an accomplished journalist posting as Isabel-Democratas de Miami, we will have the ability to cross the language barrier. So much for Tancredoism!

The URL is http://democratasdemiami.blogspot.com

Friday, December 07, 2007

A start to solving OUR Cuba problem

I like this idea.



Please note that nothing was said about solving Cuba's problem. It's about solving our Cuba problem, which starts with a lot of Republican demagoguery.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Please do go and vote on Jan. 29

I am giving Bill Nelson the benefit of the doubt and will consider his lawsuit a publicity stunt. Good. We need all the publicity we can get. Even bad publicity is useful, some say.

In any case, here is the word from Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman following the dismissal of Sen. Nelson's suit against the Democratic National Committee.

It boils down to: Please vote in the Jan. 29 primary.

"The Florida Democratic Party remains committed to participating fully in the state-run Presidential Preference Primary on January 29, 2008. We strongly urge all Florida Democrats to get out and vote in this fair and open election.

"No matter what anybody says, Florida Democrats will make the primary count by going to the polls and casting their votes on January 29th. The nation will be paying attention, and Florida Democrats will have a major impact on the race.

"Accordingly, the Florida Democratic Party will respect the voters' choice on January 29th in determining the allocation of our delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. We are confident that the Democratic Presidential nominee will seat Florida's delegation at the Convention."

There's www.makeitcountflorida.com for further information.

Also relevant is that it's time to start applying if you'd like to be a delegate to the Denver convention. You will be seated.




Monday, December 03, 2007

Florida financial crisis meeting on Tuesday

Do you see this in today’s paper? On TV?

Well, here are a few sound bites to catch your interest.

  • “…essentially the breakdown of our modern-day banking system…” (NY Times column).
  • “…decision that could disrupt the finances of dozens of cities and counties across the state…” (Miami Herald).

Talk about the Grinch!

Maybe that’s why they’re not telling us. It wouldn’t do to deflate our shopping mood as the Red and Green holiday approaches.

It’s not only that some poor people who swallowed hook line and sinker suffer from blocked throats as they must cough up more money for their homes. And it’s not only that some subprime lenders are seeing their stock prices plummet.

Now they’re having trouble paying the schoolteachers. The police and firefighters are next. Your mayor’s inflated salary, the public hospital staff.

I may be wrong, but it seems that Florida is leading the way into this new chapter of the financial crisis of the early 21st Century. My sources are the NY Times, Bloomberg and the Miami Herald, and they all seem to say the tipping point occurred last week in the Local Government Investment Pool in Tallahassee.

If you’re the financial officer of your local school board, you may know this Pool well. Otherwise, terra incognita. It’s where local government bodies park their money, with the full trust that they can withdraw it when time comes to pay salaries and bills.

Last Thursday there was a run on the Pool amid disclosures that it held some “downgraded and defaulted debt,” according to Bloomberg’s report .

Management stopped withdrawals. Management, it should be said, is Gov. Charlie Crist, CFO Alex Sink and Attorney General Bill McCollum, in their role as trustees of the State Board of Administration. That’s one more official body that’s little known but with great responsibility.

Well, it will all be OK. They will meet Tuesday and figure it out. Be warned, however, that the Bloomberg story reported that they already tried to get the affected agencies around the state to accept as little as 90 cents on the dollar. (The agencies meanwhile are scrambling to take short-term loans to make necessary payments.)

Hey, there goes your tax money, or 10 percent of it for starters. Wasted on the housing bubble.

That takes me back to the top of this post, where I cited a snip from NY Times columnist Paul Krugman’s Monday column. Here’s the full citation, itself a quote:

“What we are witnessing,” says Bill Gross of the bond manager Pimco, “is essentially the breakdown of our modern-day banking system, a complex of leveraged lending so hard to understand that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke required a face-to-face refresher course from hedge fund managers in mid-August.”

That’s a stark factoid: Our lending system is so complex that the Fed Chair doesn’t have a clue!

I think I heard on the radio that Hillary Clinton wants a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson also wants ways to avoid foreclosures. Perhaps useful ideas.

But what do we do about the absurd complexity of the lending system? And what about the joyful greed we all felt as real estate prices went crazy?

Holiday bubbles are not only in the Champagne.

Here are links to the sources, and be advised that they include more dire stuff than what I've quoted above. The Miami Herald story. The Bloomberg story. One more Bloomberg story. NY Times column by Krugman.

UPDATE: This post is also up on DailyKos, where it quickly got a number of useful comments. First up was a suggestion to follow the money to Jeb Bush, and the link was to a Forbes story with the delicious headline "Where was Jeb?" Turns out he has become a consultant to Lehman Brothers, which had sold some of the dubious paper to the Florida Pool while Jeb was governor and sitting on the management board. Wonder how much he's been paid (bribed post facto) for having done that deal?

Thanks to ThirstyGator for excellent info.

UPDATE II:He points out that Atrios is covering the subprime situation thoroughly.

A.P. to Reorganize Work

This link takes you to a NY Times report on my former employer for 25 years and how it's changing in the new media environment.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New stuff on TV front

This first one may actually be old, since I see in Wikipedia that it was launched in 2005. This is not bad for me, to be only two years behind. It's Current TV, and for the never-say-die fans of Al Gore, this is his (sorta) network. Different stuff. I liked the Hummer piece on the InfoMania segment, which I found by hitting the "on tv" button. This may be the link. A few items before that is an amazing report about dancing by people with disabilities. It seems to be set in Miami, so I wonder if anyone knows where these super dancers can be found.

Next is a live blogging tool, alerted to me by the Florida Democratic Party tech guy, Phillip Perry, via the FloridaNetroots email round. Have a look at http://coveritlive.com/

And something melding a lot of stuff together is Veridoo. Could be big.

Vote in Biscayne Park on Tuesday

Our executive director, John Hornbuckle, is among the candidates running in Tuesday's election in the village of Biscayne Park. Brief coverage in Friday's Miami Herald.

Where Act Blue came from, etc.

Interesting read in the New York Times on Act Blue, which is helping Democrats raise money for campaigns. The link.

And by the way, Act Blue is where you may have acted on www.draftgarcia.com.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ricky Williams time

Venturing into the sports arena, folks. not my usual venue. This is Ricky Williams time. Dolfans all, we watched Monday's Match in Mudville, and Magic did not happen. What happened? The answer came to me in the print media, though not the Miami Herald's sports section.

Inhaling the Dec. 6 issue of The New York Review of Books, which has no sports section nor even hardly a chuckle, I found Ricky Williams' name sprinkled throughout a deeply serious article on Big Pharma. The running back's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002 was described as a revealing example of the faulty way we organize health care in this country.

What did he do there? He said he was shy. Aw, the Heisman Trophy winner, leading rusher (then) in the NFL, was painfully and chronically shy. I remember it myself, it made quite a splash in the media. Big tough football player turns out to be shy.

In earlier times, this might have been seen as virtue, a sign of modesty, a quiet personality. Now, however, it's a disorder.

Enter Big Pharma. The article reveals that Ricky Williams' appearance was organized by the PR firm Cohn & Wolfe, working for GlaxcoSmithKline (GSK), paying the star "an undisclosed sum," and later a GSK press release placed his name on this statement:

As someone who has suffered from social anxiety disorder, I am so happy that new treatment options, like Paxil CR, are available today to help people with this condition.


Thank you, Ricky. Let us all ponder how many shy folks asked their doctors for a prescription. And who paid for it.

Reviewer Frederick Crews says this world is one where "choices regarding health care are manufactured along with the products that will match them." And "the pharmaceutical companies haven't so much answered a need as turbocharged it."

This is one of the ways we get to our insanely costly health care system, in which expensive pills are a mainstay. And it's not as safe as we'd like. In one of the books under review here, "Let Them Eat Prozac," author David Healy shows how the dangers of dependency, suicide and homicide became known only after years of use of Prozac.

Another book under review, "The Loss of Sadness," by Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield, delves into the way that the manual psychiatrists use to balance disorder and treatment fails to clarify the difference between a serious disorder and a natural sadnesss following misfortune.

A better balance, he said, would place a brake "on the expensive middle-class hypochondria that the drug companies have so assiduously encouraged and exploited."

I'm hoping that Ricky Williams will just take a couple Ibuprofen for his aches and pains now, and not get into anti-depressants. Who knows, it could lead him to dangerous drugs and wreck his career.

Here's the link to the ever-brilliant NYRB.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good roundup on U.S. House races in Florida

Kudos to Progressive Florida for a comprehensive roundup of races for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida. It's posted on FLA Politics, and the link is here.

This young blogger, Progressive Florida, sticks his neck out a bit on FL-24, where Tom Feeney is the ethically challenged incumbent, and only mentions Suzanne Kosmas as a Democratic challenger. Quickly riposting were several backers of Clint Curtis, also running as a Democrat in the district: There will be a primary! Not to forget Gaurav Bhola, also contending to run against Feeney. Lively comments ensued.

Good post. This is the kind of coverage the blogosphere aspires to provide in Florida. Something the Miami Herald won't do until the week before the election and the TV never will do. We actually are interested.

Vote on Jan. 29 -- the mailers start

I've been reading these emails on the Florida Netroots group complaining about lack of guidance on how to vote on Jan. 29, the primary and all. I've got to agree. Of course we can each decide on the right person to be the presidential nominee, but then there are the property tax measure and -- for us in Miami-Dade County -- a referendum on gambling. Maybe people in other counties have local measures, too. What are we supposed to say?

Clang -- the day that mails started up after Thanksgiving, advice poured into my mailbox, thanks to an outfit called "Vote Yes! For A Greater Miami-Dade."

Vote Yes for Job Creation.

Vote Yes for more School Funding.

So it trumpeted. Of course, the Yes is actually for "limited slot machines at our existing horse track, dog track and jai alai fronton in Miami=Dade County."

The double-sized mailer also has two mail-in forms to request absentee ballots for me and ... my neighbor, I guess.

And there's a website http://www.agreatermiamidade.com/ with nothing there as of Nov. 26. How am I supposed to weigh this advice?

There is a tremendous stack of campaign mailers on my dining table from the Nov. 6 municipal election and Nov. 20 runoff -- probably 80 pieces of mail for Miami Beach mayor and three commission seats. Just think how much mail there would be if our presidential contenders were campaigning in Florida. But wait -- they have sent a lot of mail, too. Guess I chucked it all.

This is one of the odd things about voting. Mind made up early and firmly on the presidential choice. It took longer on the local races where I actually saw the candidates and asked questions.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Backlog could deny vote to many new citizens

This is concerning. A Washington Post story Thursday says the disorganized Bush administration is unable to process the doubling in new citizens' applications, so a lot of people we're counting on the Vote Democratic may not become citizens in time for '08.

Repeat: This is concerning.

And it was leading the DailyKos when I logged on at midnight. Here's the link to the Washington Post story.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Draft Joe Garcia post on DailyKos

The hard-working Progressive America blogger has a new post up on DailyKos today about the drive to draft Joe Garcia to run for the U.S. House in FL-25. Here's the link.

That post also has a link to an interview today on the Progressive Radio show on the Internet, where Joe spoke about the importance of the netroots in our campaigning. I'd say he's well ahead of Parade Magazine (see earlier post about Parade).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parade Magazine joins the Netroots parade

Parade Magazine may have been around longer than God. The epitome of old hat, Parade sometimes gets tossed unread in my house. This week I glanced at the cover and started to open and read the cover story about the way cyberspace is on the leading edge of politics and political campaigning. Well, there wasn't anything new to me, but here's the link in case you want to check it out.

You'll note that our old friend Simon Rosenberg of NDN is quoted as the authority on what's up.

Surf's up: Joe Garcia wave hits Kos of DailyKos

The Draft Joe Garcia movement got a nice boost today from DailyKos. Markos Moulitsas -- Kos himself -- wrote a post about the movement and opined that Joe would get into the race for the U.S. House in District 25. Here's a link to the post.

The comments there are an interesting spectrum, and if you scroll down pretty far you'll see what I put up late in the day, to quote it:

It's great to see Kos taking the lead on Draft Garcia. We progressives in South Florida have been ignored by national media for a couple decades. The 2008 election cycle will be different. DailyKos will be watching. Swing State Project is watching. Maybe even the Miami Herald will pay attention to congressional races for a change. I put down $5 (may have done it twice accidentally) for Joe Garcia, and why don't a lot of you do the same thing, too?!

Re our party demographics in Miami-Dade County:
Current figures on www.miamidade.gov/elections show a total of 1,071,350 registered voters
Democrats 451,820
Republicans 359,743
No party affil. 214,787

So it's a travesty of gerrymandering that we have three Republican members of the US House and two Democrats instead of the other way around -- or even all five Democrats.

This is the year for Democrats around the country to pile on to help us in Miami-Dade and create a landslide.



Monday, November 19, 2007

Members of Congress we like

Doing a little housekeeping on the links in the right-hand column, I decided to add web sites for our Democrats in Congress, Kendrick Meek, FL-17, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, FL-20.

First time to Rep. Meek's campaign site, and I see he is featuring an article he wrote for Army Times about the lack of African-Americans in the top ranks of the military. Food for thought.

And here's Rep. Wasserman Schultz' campaign page.

The link section is organized alphabetically, so that clubs, draft movements and watch blogs appear together.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Door’s still open for Draft Joe Garcia – Raul Martinez, too

For those not on the email list of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, here’s what Joe Garcia said in response to the rush of interest in drafting him for Congress: “While I am still far from making a decision, I do want to say that your kindness and support are very humbling and much appreciated!”

Regarding the on-line mention of his name having appeared in the Cuban regime newspaper Granma, he said, “Let me be clear that this paper is the communist propaganda newspaper and it makes assertions about the community and Congresspeople that are slanderous. And, although I may completely disagree with the Republican congressional delegation, these assertions by Granma are patently false.”

Granma had written an article about U.S. news reports on the South Florida congressional races and used its normal “Mafia” terminology in referring to the South Florida Republicans in Congress, This caused a little eruption of injured pride among some Cuban Americans. Garcia -- of Cuban background himself -- called one who protested, and issued his statement to make sure his distance from Havana was clear.

Garcia’s email concluded with mention of the new web site draftgarcia.com, so I think it’s safe to say he’s not against running against Mario Diaz-Balart in District 25. In an interview Friday with Nicole Sandler on WINZ AM940, he said it was a matter of convincing his wife and young daughter that it was right for the family.

Expect a decision by the second half of January, he said.

Uh, Joe, isn’t that when we’ll be in the thick of the runup to the Jan. 29 Florida presidential primary? Well, at least people will be thinking about politics.

Meanwhile, it’s heartening to hear enthusiasm for the Garcia candidacy. Nicole Sandler said on WINZ, “How awesome it would be to have Joe Garcia in the House of Representatives.”

On Stuck on the Palmetto, blogger Rick said he liked the way Joe debates the hardliners on the radio and provided a link to one of the best examples. I’ll repeat it here, along with Rick’s advice to let the link download, and then advance the slider to about 19:00. It runs for about a half-hour until the host, Henry Gomez, is so thoroughly defeated that he mutes Joe Garcia.

Rick concluded: “Joe has said he would run if he was asked. Let’s ask. Let’s start tossing out relics of the past and start looking forward.”

Meanwhile, there’s a growing web site to draft Raul Martinez, former mayor of Hialeah, to run for Congressional District 21, the seat held by Lincoln Diaz-Balart. You can hear Joe Garcia encouraging Martinez to run, in that clip on WINZ. Again, a decision likely in January.

Garcia said he knows of a handful of possible candidates to run against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congressional District 18, and he’s encouraging them to consider it strongly.

What’s needed is a super majority in Congress to end the war and deal with health care – all the reverses needed after two terms of George W. Bush – and we should not shrink from thinking landslide Democratic victory in this supposed Republican stronghold.

Sweet dreams, everyone – five Democrats in the U.S. House from Miami-Dade.

We’re not the only ones thinking about it. From farther afield, hope springs from the Swing State Project, with a post that went up on Friday noting the moves to draft Garcia and Martinez. Read through the long string of comments to see how other races in Florida would be affected, and how progressives around the country will be encouraged to help us sweep the Republicans out in South Florida.

In case you forget how to get the links to draft Garcia and Martinez, they are on the main page of this blog, in the Links section down in the right-hand column. Don't just sit there -- go to the sites and sign up!

End of a hotel -- boom!



















A snap from my phone a few days before the Sheraton was de-ploded, or whatever they call it. The guy's T-shirt says "Omega The last word in demolition."

Last night there were flashing signs on A1A saying Collins Avenue would be closed Sunday morning. What's that about? This morning, lying in bed barely awake, I heard a low roar about a dozen blocks away -- or so I guestimated. What's that about?

Now I see -- they blew down the last standing Sheraton building in Bal Harbour (about a dozen blocks from me in North Beach). Too bad. Here's a link to the Miami Herald's on-line coverage of the event. End of an era, the Herald says, "Ratpack" and all that. Having arrived here more recently, I don't know about its old incarnation as the Americana. To me it's where the Yankess stayed during the 2003 World Series when the Marlins cleaned their clock -- YES!

N.B. The curved building on the right is NOT part of the Sheraton and was not demolished.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Now playing on your computer: Presidential debate

It's on Grist (?), click here on grist.org and you can see Clinton, Edwards and Kucinich lay out their programs on energy and climate change.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Draft Joe Garcia – great idea!



















It’s tempting to think that this is emerging now via the “Cuban newspapers” because the mails are so slow between Washington and Havana. Ha ha. Actually, the Cuban Interests section in Washington was hot on the Internet as soon as The Hill published this topic back on Oct. 18, and Havana learned in a microsecond that Joe Garcia was tempted enough to be saying to The Hill he’d run for Congress if the party asked him.

“Ouch!” They said there in Havana. (What’s Espanol for Ouch?) “Bad for us if Joe Garcia takes over in the House of Representatives from one of those shirt-tail relatives of our Leader.” So they probably said in Havana.

And then it took them almost a month to figure out how to say it in their press.

So here’s the way I imagine their triple-twist thinking went:

  1. “The Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – don’t forget Mel Martinez! – are so useful to keeping us Communists in power that we can’t imagine life without their neo-con faces in the House and Senate.” [This occupied them for a week.]
  2. “But if we came out and said we favor their being re-elected in 2008, the voters there would think it was a trick, and then Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez would run and be elected.” [This took two more weeks of deep thought.]
  3. “So we’ll publish a subtle analysis of the Miami political situation in Granma, our party organ, and appear to approve the likely challenges by Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez against the Diaz-Balarts, whom we’ll label as ‘Batista supporters,’ and, Voila! The Diaz-Balarts and their gang will be elected again as the voters react against what we endorse.” [Another week passed working this up.]

Here in peaceful South Florida, we raise our heads from the newspapers and TV screens full of news of police and criminals killing each other, and realize slowly that Cuba is messing around in our politics. Damn! That’s what they’re trying, is it? We’ll show them! Let’s Draft Joe Garcia and show them they can’t discourage us with their triple-twist trick!

Well, this may – or may not – be what happened, but in any case it’s a good idea. The Florida Politics blog has a diary up since last night with that goal – Draft Joe Garcia – and it’s also up on DailyKos with a way to vote and say whether you’d be willing to donate $5 to get him to run. Check it out. All the links are therein.

Next step: the future. Time for change.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Working for Linda McDonald: Young Democrats

Bravo to the Young Democrats at Florida International University – they’re campaigning tonight for Linda McDonald, the Democratic candidate in the Jan. 20 special election for state House District 101.

The district is in neighboring Broward and Collier counties, and the FIU Dems will be phoning on McDonald’s behalf. The Florida Democratic Party is pledging 70 cents to the YD Club for every call, so it’s money in the treasury as well as a chance to hone political skills and get one more Democrat in the state House of Representatives.

This weekend the club hopes to send out canvassers for door-to-door work on the candidate’s behalf, and to make more phone calls before the Tuesday election.

Good work by the club’s president, Chris Cabral, who is well-known to Miami-Dade Democratic campaigners. He’s always there!

Congratulations to DFAM and VFP for Veterans Day coverage















Ana Menendez (left) with Carlos and Melida Arredondo

The Arlington South memorial is a touching reminder of the human cost of our failed Iraq war policy. Kudos to the score of members of Democracy for America Miami-Dade and Veterans for Peace who worked to set up the vast field of tombstone replicas for this Veterans Day.

The VFP chapter worked hard to get Carlos and Melida Arredondo, whose son Alexander was a Marine who died in combat in Iraq, to come to Miami for the memorial.

Miami Herald columnist Ana Menendez interviewed them about their son at the memorial site, Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. She called the memorial “a radical act of remembering, founded on the hope that a war conceived in abstraction and lies will crumble before the truth of a single death.”

A single death becomes hard to comprehend when thousands of our own citizens, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, have lost their lives. Yet Ana Menendez is right. Look at any of the single memorials, think for a while, and realize a powerful truth in one person’s life lost.

The link to her column in Wednesday's Herald.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hialeah runoff early voting Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Early voting in the runoff for one remaining seat in Hialeah's city council will be held Friday through Sunday, Nov. 16-18. The polling place is the John F. Kennedy Library, 190 W. 49th St, in Hialeah, and it will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Check it out at this link.

Early voting Saturday and Sunday in Miami Beach runoff

There are two places to vote early in the Miami Beach runoff election for mayor and city commission group 4: City Hall and the North Shore Branch Library on Collins Avenue at 75th St.

Only two days: Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17-18, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has endorsed Deede Weithorn for city commission group 4.

It has made no endorsement for mayor, since both candidates are Democrats: Matti Herrera Bower and Simon Cruz.

At the Miami Beach web site www.miamibeachfl.gov you can navigate to election results and candidates' statements if you get lucky, or just click here and go direct to the schedule for their broadcasts on Channel 77 on cable.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Election snafus

This link to the NY Times on-line service takes you to a roundup of foulups on the recent election day, around the country. Florida is cited as a leader in getting things in disorder.

DailyKos readers equal to Tom DeLay?

One of my favorite questions is: How did we get here? It can be a really big question about existence, or a momentary query about how the boat got on this sandbar.

Somewhere in the middle is today's question of how our politics got so partisan.

The Sunday NY Times book review section brought up the issue in reviewing "The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America," by Ronald Brownstein.

I might not have written about this in the blogosphere if the review and the book hadn't cited the "readers of the DailyKos, a popular left-wing/libertarian Web site that promotes what Brownstein calls 'a scorched-earth opposition to the G.O.P.'"

This group -- i.e. many of us -- is said to be the counterpart of the conservatives (the term neo-cons is not employed in the review) who vanquished the moderates in the Republican Party and imposed ideological purity on the right side of the political spectrum.

There may be some truth to this, though the reviewer (Alan Brinkley, history professor and provost of Columbia University) sees it as a weak area in the author's analysis of the polarized situation.

The author purportedly lumps us Kos-readers with Tom DeLay as striving to make our parties into warrior parties that oppose each other with "every conceivable means."

Seems quite a stretch, and I'm not comfortable with being compared to Tom DeLay, but there you are.

The review goes on to ponder whether fierce partisanship will continue. Looking back at Presidents Reagan and Clinton, he says they were able to find compromises even in partisan atmospheres. Only under George W. Bush, with "control of both houses of Congress, his own inflexibility and the post-9/11 climate -- did extreme partisanship manage to dominate the agenda."

The bottom line is that it's "unlikely that a new president, whether Democrat or Republican, will be able to recreate the dispiriting political world of the last seven years."

Here's the link to the review.

UPDATE: Also posted this on DailyKos, where it's quickly building comment.

Veterans Day event















Sam Feldman and Dave Patlak were among the Democratic activists who set up the Arlington South memorial for this Veterans Day. Sponsors were Democracy for America Miami-Dade and Veterans for Peace.

There will be a memorial service at 5 p.m. Monday Nov. 12 in Bayfront Park, Miami, to conclude the three-day display of memorial tombstone replicas to the U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq war.

UPDATE: Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman has rung in with a statement honoring Veterans Day, concluding: "On this Veterans Day, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who have served our nation, both past and present. So, to every solider, sailor, marine, and airman: the leadership, staff and members of the Florida Democratic Party thank you wholeheartedly for your selfless service to this great country. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made. Thank you for continuing to make us safe. And thank you for making us proud."

COMMENT: This link takes you to today's NY Times editorial on the plight of veterans.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Election stuff from around Florida

At this link the wonderful Jennifer of Florida Netroots has rounded up election news from around Florida.

Congress overrides Bush veto

First time. Let's call this a precedent.

And it was overwhelming, as the NY Times puts it.

Cost per vote goes to stratosphere -- $130.55

I live on Miami Beach. It has a high cost of living, but I’m trying to avoid always paying the max, so I’m not going to run for office.

Add up what the candidates spent to compete in Tuesday’s election: $1,301,763.61. That’s for mayor and three of the five seats on the city commission.

It doesn't include the two minor candidates for mayor. Their reports would have skewed the totals wildly, since one of them, Raphael Herman, reports over $5 million in expenditures himself, though almost all of that was money he lent the campaign and then paid it back to himself (I’ve read). I don’t want to disparage Mr. Herman (I’ve read that he’s a former Israeli commando – Kadima!), so I’ll just say that this sort of thing comes with the territory.

That aside, remember that it’s not over yet. There will be runoffs for mayor and one city commission seat. Vote again on Nov. 20, Miami Beachians, and prepare for even more robo-calls and nasty or up-beat mailers.

My mailbox filled up with them some days, and there’s a pile of 47 mailers now on my dining table – probably $50 there in money spent on me. I told one of the candidates to take me off the list, since he had my vote wrapped up. Too much trouble, so in fact I got dupes of most items from him – musta been on two of his lists.

What’s the bottom line on this? The number of people who voted was 9,971, so it cost $130.55 per vote. All the churning and campaigning attained turnout of 25.15 percent.

Isn’t that kind of high, my friends? What can we do about this in a land of free speech -- where the Supreme Court has ruled that money has freedom of speech?

If we aim for public financing of elections, what would that mean to the industry of clever people who lead and mislead voters to choose their candidates? If we cut the legs out from under the next Karl Rove by nixing his career, will free speech survive? Would we be better off without Karl Rove AND free speech?

Elections lead to dangerous thoughts.

This link takes you to the Miami Beach city clerk's site with campaign treasurers' reports.

UPDATE: And this one is the SunPost's exhaustive report on election night events all over the Beach.

EVEN MORE: Now the Miami Herald's p.1 story asking why we don't have all the elections at the same time, instead of all over the calendar.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Neil Bush: Finally someone sees the link

Here’s a headline I’ve waited years to see: “Bush brother’s firm faces inquiry over purchases.” It was in Wednesday’s NY Times, back on p. 18, but at least it was there (the headline, I must say, is from the on-line Times, not the printed edition, which worded it differently).

Might there be a conflict of interest when the brother of the U.S. president, also the brother of the governor of Florida, is selling software to the United States and to Florida?

This came to my attention a few years ago via, I believe, the teachers’ union, which thought it was at least a little dubious.

Now finally CREW – the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (there’s an uphill battle) – has lodged a complaint, and the inspector general of the federal Department of Education will look into whether federal money was used appropriately by three states to buy educational products from a company owned by Neil Bush. Florida, Texas and Nevada are the states.

I raised this connection early this week at a meeting the Miami Beach Democratic Club had with Richard Steinberg, city commissioner and candidate for the state House district 106. “Isn’t this a scandal? Why isn’t anyone at least asking?” I asked. He didn’t know.

A few years ago I asked the same thing of Eric Copeland, candidate for Florida commissioner of agriculture and consumer affairs. He didn’t know.

Now, maybe we’ll all have a chance to know.

One thing that’s coming out as this scandal gets an airing is that the software isn’t much good, at least in the view of a former curriculum director for the Houston schools, Jay Spuck. He’s quoted in the Times saying, “”It’s not helping kids at all. It’s not helping teachers. The only way Neil has gotten in is by his name.” That's what's really wrong about this: it doesn't work!

The sainted Barbara Bush also is part of the conspiracy: she gave some of the stuff to schools attended by hurricane evacuees.

We’ll have to ask the Miami Herald’s Washington bureau how they got scooped on something so relevant to their state. The NY Times had it for the Wednesday paper, while the Herald got it on the Naked Politics blog only Wednesday morning, and in the on-line edition in the afternoon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two nice victories in Miami-Dade municipal elections

Jonah Wolfson (red cap) checking returns on election night.

A whopping landslide for Marc Sarnoff for Miami city commission and a big margin for Jonah Wolfson for Miami Beach city commission – they add up to a satisfying election night for the Miami-Dade Democratic Party.

Not so good for three underdogs running in Homestead and Hialeah with the party’s endorsement, but at least we stuck our neck out for those Democrats trying to make an impact on the local level against Republican opponents.

Next time we’ll do better.

For now, how about 88.97 percent of the vote in Marc Sarnoff’s victory for Miami City Commission! Opposition apparently not too strong against the incumbent Sarnoff.

In the Miami Beach Group 4 race, Jonah Wolfson raked in 55.4 percent against hard competition from Luis Salom, who got 44.6 percent. Wolfson, a young lawyer making his first run for office, became a familiar figure around the city as he knocked on zillions of doors.

Jonah, how many pairs of shoes did you shred?

I sneaked a look at his voting-day coverage plan of the beach, and he, his pregnant wife Andrea and mother Laurel were prominent on the plan, and hey, his dad Jerry was in there, too. Talk about a vigorous family effort.

Not to be outdone was his opponent. I had a knock on my door one day in North Beach, and there were Salom’s wife and 12-year-old son asking for my vote. Sorry, I said, I know it’s a non-partisan race, but I also know who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican.

For the record, we backed Fernando Alvarez in Hialeah for city council and in Homestead we endorsed Amanda S. Garner and Darwin Brett Brown – all in losing attempts. Good luck next time!

This link goes to the official results.

27 minutes of Cheney impeachment in House of Representatives

Was this a foretaste of Congress in the coming months? A reasonable person will see grounds for impeachment in our vice president’s conduct over the past five years. Will it actually happen? Could it be true that many Republicans are ready to impeach?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, one of the eight Democrats running for the presidential nomination, had the floor for 27 minutes Tuesday and laid out all his wherases to the effect that Cheney’s actions warrant “impeachment and trial and removal from office.” He claimed support of 21 colleagues in putting forth his resolution.

The crawl on the bottom of the C-Span screen said that President Bush wanted Congress to act on the trade agreements with Peru and others. Would it be that trade matter? Or a couple of months of debate on Cheney, then Bush, and whether they remain in office? Or would it be the stuff the Democratic leadership wants – health care and vetoes etc.?

The immediate following step was to bring up the next speaker and next subject, and business as usual in the People’s House.

But about an hour and a half after Kucinich spoke, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) got up and moved to table (kill) the draft impeachment resolution.

Kucinich was heard shouting no amid the voice votes.

The acting speaker, Jose Serrano of New York, declared the motion had been killed by the voice vote, but Kucinich demanded votes be recorded.

Surprise (to Kagro over at DailyKos, who said, Expect it to be killed): the House voted strongly to keep the resolution alive. It remains to be certain what the final vote was.

The C-Span announcer said at one point the result “was unexpected by many on the House floor here today.”

There was a lot of vote-switching along the way. At one point my running tally had the kill motion winning 290-102, but as the “15-minute vote” stretched over an hour, more and more Republicans came over to Kucinich’ side, while most Democrats remained with Hoyer’s kill motion.

Hoyer rose again after his kill vote failed and, looking nervous, moved to refer the resolution to the House Judiciary Committee.

“We are on the threshold of another war,” Kucinich said in a phone interview with C-Span as the tally was being recorded. Cheney misled the country into the Iraq war and now the administration “is doing the same thing with respect to Iran.”

“It’s not about me,” Kucinich told C-Span as the tally was being recorded. It’s to show “who’s on the side of the Constitution.”

Asked about the Republicans voting with him, he asserted that it wasn’t a partisan issue, and he said he was setting up a “national town hall” meeting in the coming days – on the internet and by phone – to advance what he called “a growing movement.”

Meanwhile, back here in Florida, some of our friends have been moving impeachment before the public eye whenever possible. Increasing frustration is their lot.

On Sunday Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, spoke at the University of Miami, and a crowd of my political friends held signs and tried to raise questions to demand movement toward impeachment.

Here are some of their notes and impressions.

Diane Lawrence: “Yesterday with Conyers was very frustrating for us … Conyers started by saying that ‘Impeachment is off Nancy Pelosi’s table, but it’s not off mine [applause].’ Then he proceeded to talk about the 14 months they have left to get legislation passed [oh, please]. He mentioned the threat that impeachment would fail and this it would do the Democrats harm – the corporate media would have a ball making fun of their mistake. … Of course, his standard excuse is not enough votes in the House or Senate, the Blue Dog excuse, blah blah blah. God damn it, BRING THE CHARGES, HAVE THE INVESTIGATIONS, DO YOUR DUTY UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. …

“The Republicans know the Democrats to be fools. The Republicans totally expected the Dems to impeach after taking office. Lincoln Diaz-Balart’s (R-FL-21) aide mentioned that at the beginning of our lobbying session when a constituent and I met with him. He said, ‘We couldn’t believe impeachment wasn’t started in February. We kept talking about it.’ As horrible as the Rethugs are, they are simply smarter than the Dems in their own evil way.”

Bonnie Daniels: “Conyers started by saying that never in history have there been so many people who are impeachable. The problem is that we don’t have the votes or the time. The legislative process would totally shut down and the corporate press would call us vindictive. Then he said, It’s ‘not a bad idea’ and ‘my mind is open.’ [yeah, right].

“Question asked: what if the people would rather have impeachment than any other legislation? C[onyers]: An impeachment that fails will do more harm than good. It will stop all legislation and the corporate media would turn the president into a victim and imperil the ’08 election. …

“Bush is ‘the most unconstitutional president in the 20th and 21st centuries bar none.’”

Simon Rose: “I love that analogy that someone made that it’s as if the police and firemen sat idly by as a gunman randomly shot people and a fire raged. The fact that our elected reps need to be reminded to do their jobs that they swore to do is outrageous. Do we need to remind the police and firemen every day to do their jobs? This lawless administration is running fast and loose over the ultimate law of the land, the Constitution. And now more and more politicians use this lawlessness as cover to perpetrate their own crimes.”

More tasering in the news: 82-year-old lady

What you find ambling around the internet. This is from the Chicago Sun-Times, a columnist looks into how the cops broke in on and ended up tasering an 82-year-old grandmother. They were checking on her well-being ...

Soon I'll get back to Miami-Dade. It's just that we don't have all the juicy stuff that happens.

News from the R side: Ron Paul takes off

This bit of news rang in as a surprise. Ron Paul in a fund-raising stampede? What's doing on here? The Republican field is a strange bunch, and here's the old Parliament-burner Guy Fawkes raising his symbolic head on behalf of the libertarian from Texas. This comes from the NY Times blog Caucus, which does fine service in remembering the movie "V for Vendetta," one of the most subversive movies I've seen in years. Subversive to the established order, I mean.

The rebels are on the rise, and it's not only Ron Paul: Dennis Kucinich is banging the impeachment drum louder than ever, and John Edwards says "I'm with you, brother" when someone in the crowd says it's time for a revolution.

UPDATE: Over at DailyKos they're also recognizing that something's up with Ron Paul. Markos himself posts that the fund-raising was the most impressive people-powered thing yet in the presential campaigns. The DailyKos post includes a sharp analysis by Jerome Armstrong of how Ron Paul's internet campaign is different and successful. Lessons to be learned therein.